Did you always want to be a writer?

My dream as a teenager was to be the next J.R.R. Tolkien (aim for the stars, hope to clear the trees is my motto); I was sort of side-tracked from that by training to be a classical musician. I still play the piano for various things, play the cello occasionally in a quartet, and sing in public when I have the chance, but my days are filled now with raising two children, being married to my own knight in shining armor, and trying to find time to wrestle those characters that seem to be constantly rattling around in my head down onto paper.

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Do you have a favorite Author?

This is a tricky question because my tastes have changed over the years and not every book that a favorite author writes might be to my taste (or yours!). That said, I do have authors I have enjoyed over the years. I first fell in love with writing romance thanks to Susan Wiggs, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jude Devereaux, Judith McNaught, and Bettina Krahn, just to name a few and fail to name many others whose work I’ve loved. I am always distracted by a good mystery and some of the authors I’ve enjoyed are Dick Francis (I own his entire backlist and reread it every three or four years whether I need to or not), Dorothy Cannell, and Anne George. Fantasy has always been dear to my heart and some of my favorite fantasy writers are Tolkien, C.S. Lewis (though I’m more partial to his non-fiction), Robin McKinley, Patricia McKillip, and Isaac Asimov (though I know he’s more sci-fi, but I had to throw him in there because I loved the Foundation Trilogy so much).

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Where do you get the inspiration for your characters?

The heroes and heroines seem to arrive fully formed. The villians could be composites of all my past boyfriends … but I can’t say for certain on the off chance I might be sued for defamation of really rotten characters.

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Where can I buy your books?

My entire backlist is still in print in one format or another and can be ordered either online or from your local independent or chain bookseller.

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In what order should your books be read?

There’s a reading order posted on my web site. It’s just my opinion, though. You may come up with a better way to do it and if you do, let me know!

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When will your next story be out?

My publishing schedule is now a romance out every May and a fantasy every January.

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Is your PG rating intentional?

Yes, it is. I’ve spent my career doing my best to write my stories, my way, and hope that they find an audience. My goal is to provide readers with a good love story and leave the more intimate moments to the imagination. My first couple of books are definitely more PG-13 than the others, but that was what I could get away with at the time. As the years have passed and readers have continued to buy my books with a closed-door policy, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to use the sensuality level I’m more comfortable with.

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Will you continue to write romance?

My first love has been and always will be romance. As long as there are enough MacLeods, de Piagets, and whoever else becomes drawn into this ghostly, time-travelly madness to keep me busy and keep you entertained, I’ll continue to write about them.

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Will you keep writing the 9 Kingdoms’ series?

Definitely! It’s a dream come true to get to explore that world. As long as readers want to read them, I’ll keep writing them.

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I emailed you a while ago. Why haven’t you answered yet?

I answer all my email myself, which has benefits and drawbacks. The benefit is, you can be assured you’re actually getting a response from me and that I’ve read and enjoyed your comments. The downside is when I’m trying to keep up with children, homeschooling, an orchard, and two deadlines a year, email sometimes gets . . . overlooked. Hang in there. I promise I’ll answer eventually!

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I’ve written a book. I want you to read it and give me your opinion on it/help me make it better/send it to your agent/editor for me. Will you?

Outside of contests, I don’t read unpublished manuscripts primarily for dark and serious legal reasons known only to my publisher’s lawyers who I’m convinced swim around in a big tank built just for them, waiting patiently to have fresh legal chum dangled in front of them.

The easier, more sensible reason is simply because I am first and foremost just a reader and my opinion is only one reader’s opinion. I might hate something that an editor would love, or love something an agent would hurl across the room before the first page turn. I truly believe that while it might be a little unnerving sometimes to learn to trust your own opinion about your work, it’s a very important step in any writer’s journey.

There are lots of really wonderful books out there on the craft of writing (Jack Bickham’s Writing Novels that Sell comes first to mind), and there are other good resources to help you negotiate the shoals of publishing in general. A good possibility might be joining one of the writing groups mentioned below and taking advantage of their critiquing and networking opportunities.

Just be very cautious about taking too seriously someone else’s opinion about your work. A critique group or partner who can help you sharpen your focus or point out where you don’t sound like “you” can be very useful. Just make sure you don’t let them edit out of your work the parts that make it uniquely yours.

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Any final words of advice for the aspiring author?

First, write what you love. Don’t chase after market trends or try to write about things that you might not love only because someone says they’ll sell.

Next, consider joining a writer’s group (Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America … you get the picture). They are excellent places to network and generally have specific resources for helping you learn how and where to market your book.

Lastly, and probably most importantly,don’t give up. It is possible to write an original story, tell it in your own original voice, and have an editor buy it.

The journey to that place, though, is probably the most important part of your development as a writer. There are things about yourself, about your creative process, about hard work and dedication that you can only learn if you walk the path yourself.

I love to hear success stories, and I treasure the glimpses I’ve been allowed to have into the journeys of readers who have become friends. So keep sharing them and I’ll keep cheering right along with you!

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