Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Naples, Florida. Most people think hot, humid weather.... Others might envision beautiful sunsets and swaying palm trees... And they're right! Did I mention being able to go to the beach practically year-round?! Even though I've said Naples, which is Southwest Florida, people automatically think about Disney World... (c'mon I know you did) but actually Naples is closer to the Everglades. I've never seen snow but I've outrun a gator -- okay it wasn't that big but that still got my adrenaline flowing! I'm proud to be of the rare species -- Native Floridians! :) Therefore, most of my novels are based in sunnier climates (think in terms of California and Hawaii) . What can I say? Write what you know best! Maybe someday I'll write about a character wrestling with an alligator... The possibilities!
When did you first start writing?
I've always been a writer. In grade school I loved to write short stories... My artistic endeavors failed miserably so I stuck to just writing and not drawing anything with it. In middle school my sweet stories turned a little darker. My writing style reflected my love affair with horror movies and my avid adoration of Anne Rice and Stephen King. (Yes, I was reading everything up from Anne Rice in those days. Forget age appropriate material.) I moved onto writing emotionally-charged poetry as a teenager. I still have the collection of poems I wrote back in the day. I'm toying with the idea of gathering-organizing-filtering (not everything I wrote then was great) said poems and publishing them -- for free. (Gasp) My high school and college years reflected me posting/publishing stuff in our school-related magazines or publications. Nothing that I believe could be found today but I was so proud to see my work alongside other writers. Wait... I might have something in the depths of my stuff... Ah, the memories.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Actually a lot of my books come from some crazy dream I have. Usually it's just a snippet of whatever scene was running through my head... I scramble to write it down and usually by then I just keep going.... In no time I have the workings of a good story. Currently I have three completed stories and I'm working on finishing (another) four more. I actually began writing Killer Antidote about three years ago. It was something I was writing just because... The story and characters were stuck in my head and I just needed to get it out. The nearly completed story sat around collecting dust for over a year before I finally decided to touch it up and have some beta readers give me genuine feedback. Their positive and constructive feedback inspired me to go ahead with self-publishing... because yes, I too attempted to find an agent to no avail.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing anything -- blog articles, novels, poetry, even personal feedback to someone brings me great joy. I feel like I leave pieces of myself through my thoughts and words. Ultimately my intention is to leave readers or whatever audience I'm speaking to with something worthy. Did they learn something today? Did I inspire them in some way? Did I move them emotionally with my words? I don't write because I think I'll become some rich and famous author.... Although that would be nice! I write because of the countless stories and characters that are dying to come out. Writing is an extension of me. It is my creative outlet. My passion. It is my gift to give.
What are you working on next?
I have two other books coming out soon. I'm ironing out the last few details, since they're pretty much complete... Designing the cover and then I can publish them. They'll be completely different from my stand-alone book, Killer Antidote. Both of these books will be a part of a multi-book series. In my (soon-to-be) first series -- the story setting takes place in a dying world. Barren lands leave people and animals competing for precious resources -- water being the main one. As water sources dry up, people head to lakes, rivers, and the ocean only to learn that something lurks beneath the surface waiting to take them under. No one ever resurfaces. Even the animals can't escape a watery death. Although it's the beginning of the end for most people, not everyone shares the same fate. According to the Oracle's prophecy, a pair of twins will enter the world of water and restore the land through their gifts of voice and words. The twins are destined for greatness... but their destinies come at a price. Their sacrifices are more than most can bear but they continue with their arduous journey knowing the world is at stake.... This is a powerful love story with the twins at the very center. Throw in brothers who also happen to be the Princes of the ocean and some mischievous Gods and there's plenty of action to go around. (I anticipate a three book series for this one.) My next series will potentially span over four books (one for each significant character). The story is based in a college setting with three friends during their freshman year. The main character for book one has an on-again-off-again relationship with the school's most sought after man-candy. He's captain of the rowing team; charming; and a notorious man-whore. But all the girls still love him. The couple attempts to have some semblance of a relationship... but factor in his pack of hyena friends; girls who don't understand the meaning of no; and his sense of "faithfulness" and everything goes to hell in no time. Don't fret! Toss in the sexy club owner and his best friend and the simple equation quickly becomes combustible. There's plenty of naughtiness to go around before everyone gets their acts together. The second book in this series -- that I've already started -- is the story of the character who seeks redemption.
Who are your favorite authors?
Favorite authors... Okay I already mentioned Anne Rice -- (http://annerice.com) she's been around for decades and people are still just discovering her amazing stories! Anne Rice was writing erotica long before people proudly proclaimed they'd read this-and-this or that-and-that. I love her Witching Hour series and Vampire series. Did I mention I own both those series? I love, love, love Jean Auel. (http://www.jeanauel.com) I read her books at a young age and had to re-read them later on to actually grasp everything. Jean Auel's main character connected with me so much that I swore to name my first daughter after that character -- Ayla. I did just that but added an extra "A" in the beginning of her name to add that bit of uniqueness. Yes, I have the entire Earth Children's series and am anxiously awaiting to see if she adds more to this series. Another great author who I've read EVERY one of her books, and they are many, is Christine Feehan -- (http://www.christinefeehan.com). She is a sensational writer and I admire her ability to create so many amazing stories. I devoured her Dark series, plowed through her Ghost Walkers series, savored her Leopard series, and delighted in her Sea Haven series that split into the Drake Sisters and Sisters of the Heart series. How she can write about so many characters -- give them their own stories but somehow keep everyone interconnected is inspiring and astounding. Love to the nth power! Next on my list are Jennifer Armentrout (http://www.jenniferarmentrout.com), Kelley Armstrong (http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com), Richelle Mead (http://www.richellemead.com), and Abbi Glines (http://www.abbiglines.com). What can I say? Love their work! They publish and I buy!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I don't know if it's so much inspiration or the threat of my kids jumping on me that gets me out of bed each day! I have three beautiful girls who keep me constantly on the go. As hectic as my life can be they are most certainly my blessings. Part of the reason that I finally decided to publish my book(s) was to show my oldest, who officially entered her teenage years, that we can aspire to do anything and be anyone. I went back to college after my youngest was born. It was hell on some days but I managed to take care of an infant (plus her older siblings), eventually return to work, and simultaneously take online courses. They're all older and in school. College courses are completed. I'm still working but I still couldn't squelch the burning need to accomplish this lifelong dream. At the end of the day I aspire to inspire.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
If I'm not writing then I'm more likely doing one of two things... I'm off with my girls doing something. If it's a Girl Scout meeting with my youngest... A volleyball game or practice with my oldest... Or a basketball camp with my middle one. They're all involved in something that keeps the entire family on the go. Yes, we're that kind of family. Keep them busy --- keep them engaged --- Always experiencing and learning. I confess! I love to read. Perhaps that's a grave understatement. I've been voraciously reading since... well... forever! It's probably worse now since they've invented the eBook. I cringe to admit that I spend countless hours involved with a book. I have love affairs with series before I resurface. I've forgone a good night's sleep just to finish a book. Maybe even a meal or two. I'm a book-aholic. That basically sums me up. And not in this order. At least not most days. Reading. Writing. Family.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm debating what to say first.... There are several ways I go about my eBook love affair. I constantly browse through my suggested recommendation list although it isn't the main source of how and why I purchase books. I tend to get frustrated with the recommendation tool always suggesting the same stuff over and over. Even when I purchase a variety of books in different genres, it seems to stick with what it knows. Regardless, I still always check it out. I'm big on reading reviews. So PLEASE do authors a favor and take a moment to write a review! I like to see how many stars the book got but I'm not quick to jump on the band wagon. I look for genuine book reviews. Not the, "OMG this book is awesome. Bye!" kind... I look for the reviews that talk about quality and plot. Is it worth the price? Is it one of those dreaded serial novels that have 100 parts to it? Of course book covers and description are at the top of my list. I am a book cover slut/whore -insert name here. I LOVE a good book cover. Sometimes it's all I need to convince me to make the purchase. If the book description is iffy I'll look at the reviews and read the sample chapters. The only time I'm not so picky is if the book is free or $0.99... Lastly, I'm big on recommendations. I love hearing about an undiscovered or new author. I joke with my sister that we have our own book club. We share our recommended reading list between each other and a good friend. I learned the hard way that she's a HEA kind of girl only. So I vary my suggestions to each of them based on that. I've gone so far as developing a spreadsheet for upcoming releases. My sister loved it so much that she had me send it to her. I've got it down to a science. I've got columns for the title of the book, the series, author, price, and if I've pre-ordered it or not. I know! I know! It's pathetic but otherwise I agonize if I miss a release date and everyone and their mother/sister/friend has read it already by the time I get to it.
What is your writing process?
My writing process varies with each story. When I wrote Killer Antidote I just started writing. I was able to write from the first scene and lay out the ground work along the way. I get into a writing trance when I go this route. I just need to get my thoughts and ideas out. I didn't know how Killer Antidote would end when I first started writing it... Everything just flowed from one chapter to the next until I got to the twisted ending. I left this story alone for extended periods of time so when I returned to it I typically read through from the beginning to wherever I left off. It helped me to proofread and add juicier parts along the way. It wasn't until the very end, after I had two beta readers review it, that I got rid of the prologue. I wouldn't have made that decision on my own but ultimately I believe it was the right call. In one of my more recent stories I actually wrote out an outline of the story line and what I wanted to include along the way. I wasn't concerned about my bullet points being in the proper timeline of the story. I was just spewing thoughts and ideas out. As I wrote I referred to the outline and actually crossed off parts that were used in the actual manuscript. It's nice to see your rough story concept become the end result. For the majority of my stories -- I can easily count ten -- I've written the main idea of the story and maybe a scene or two but that's it. No detailed outline. Whatever I've written isn't necessarily the first chapter but I have enough there to know what I envision. Many of my stories unfold as I write. One thing I'm big on is constantly reading and re-reading my work. I read to see it if flows well. Does it make sense? Are there grammatical errors? Like many authors I've come to realize that the more I write (and read) the more my writing improves. Practice makes perfect!
How do you approach cover design?
I think I've said more than once along the way that I love covers! As a consumer and reader a cover (and title) determines if I even bother reading the synopsis of the book. I want the cover to tell me a story. Is there love? Erotica? Emotion? The cover is my first impression of the book. Was it a good first impression? Did I linger long enough to make the purchase?
Remember even book snobs can be cover whores.
As an author I go into the cover design process with thoughts of my potential readers in mind. I want to convey as much as possible with a few strategic images. It must be high quality; in my case I used a professional cover designer and was immensely pleased with the results. For my first published book, Killer Antidote, the cover does not show any characters. Although there are erotic scenes in the story I did not want readers to think I was featuring another erotica-based novel. I've seen one too many covers with the same or very similar designs. Those kinds of covers keep me on the fence. Why didn't the author design something more original? Was their story line just like everyone else's? Because cover designs drive me, move me.... I decided to portray the remnants of human ashes and bones on my cover. The dark background and simple imagery gives an overall sinister feel. Killer Antidote is not a hearts and flowers kind of book... although the main character gets her happy ending it comes at the cost of several lost lives. I designed the cover with the intention of standing out in the crowd. I want you to pause and take notice. Even if the storyline isn't what you were looking for I want you to see me. The cover design is meant to reel you in with the intention to keep you hooked.
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