Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My Guest is Fellow Solstice Author Marie Lavender

Marie is the bestselling author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 19 other books. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published twenty books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She just released Second Nature, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, in December of 2014. She released Magick & Moonlight, a romantic fantasy, back in March of 2014. Upon Your Honor, released in last April, is her second historical romance. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

Marie Lavender

Here's a list of Marie's books and pen names:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things
About Second Nature
She never expected it…

Desiree Edwards has a problem. She's been attacked, kidnapped and forced to get along with a vampire of all things. It's something right out of the story books she reads, or her worst nightmare. But, sometimes he's not the monster he appears to be. He seems so humanlike that she can't help it when her emotions betray her, when her body betrays her. To make matters worse, she finds out more about herself than she ever wanted to know.

She was unlike any other…

Alec has a problem. The animal in him wants Desiree. But, so does the man. The more he learns about her, the harder it is to deny what he wants. But, he's a freak, and she's just a human. The two species don't mix that way. Then an old enemy surfaces and Alec is forced to make a choice. His life or hers.

Can Alec's soul be saved by this unique human? Or will it be far too late?
Desiree rose on shaky legs to look in the mirror. She looked the same. When she tilted her head, she saw the blood. Damn, that man really had bitten her! What kind of freak did that? “Shit,” she muttered, and grabbed a washcloth to wipe away the blood. What met her gaze next was startling, and even as she cursed once more, she backed away. Two single red puncture marks stood out in sharp contrast to her skin tone. Two holes. Two holes instead of a tooth pattern. She shivered, aware of the implications and how ludicrous it was. There was only one word for it really. 
Shit, she whispered as reality glared at her.

Vampire, her mind screamed. But, how was it possible? She shook her head. It couldn't be. She looked at the puncture marks again. Vampire. Vampires existed? It went against everything she'd previously believed. Vampires. And it was so much worse than she'd thought. She'd had sex with one. 

Vampires. The air left the room and her knees gave out, sending her toward the hard tile. She was faintly aware of a soft landing, a ragged curse and a hint of aftershave before she blacked out. 
SECOND NATURE will be free on Amazon Kindle from May 14-18.

An Interview With Marie

Tell us more about yourself! Readers love to know about the authors, and this would give you the chance to make them feel close to you!
I have been writing for over twenty years.  From the tender age of nine, I knew I wanted to be an author.  I’ve spent most of my life trying to fulfill that dream.  In the past, I had two short stories published in a private university publication.
I began publishing in 2010, and I published my first historical romance novel, Upon Your Return, in February of 2013.  The sequel, Upon Your Honor, was released in April of 2014 through Summer Solstice.  I have a lighthearted romantic fantasy, Magick & Moonlight, that released in March of 2014 through Solstice Shadows.  Second Nature, a paranormal romance/urban fantasy, book one of the Blood at First Sight Series, also was just released in December of 2014 through Solstice Shadows. 
I have published twenty books under various pen names in the following genres:  historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, fantasy, romantic suspense, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry.
Here is my full list of published books:

Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace

Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life

Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

If you have 2 hours free time tonight, what would you rather do? Why?
I think I’d spend it with my fiancé. Our schedules are fairly hectic these days, and I treasure my time with him.
What kind of books do you love to read? Why?
I love romance of any kind. Give me a good love story and I’m set! I just love reading about love. I love getting invested in the characters, and rooting for them. And there are always a few surprises to look forward to.
What type of music do you enjoy relaxing to?
Right now, I’m into Owl City and Ellie Goulding so I often tune into their Pandora stations because similar artists are played along with them. I also like OneRepublic.  Now and then, I listen to Celtic music or something else I come across.
What is your stress buster? 
Good question. I find reading very relaxing or I listen to music to unwind. Sometimes I’ll do some cooking because it relaxes me. And then there are those times when I have to put everything down and do some “me” time (I don’t often do that). I will pop a movie in the DVD player or fire up my DVR to catch up on a show that I missed.
What is your favorite food? What food do you seek when you’re sad, a sort of a comfort food?
I love pizza, of course. I love any Italian food. Another favorite is risotto; I love that stuff. What do I eat when I’m sad? Probably chocolate. I love chocolate, especially dark chocolate, but I will go for cookies or ice cream if I’m feeling emotional, which I know is bad. LOL.
Describe yourself in one word.
If a fairy grants you one wish and one wish only, what would it be? Why?
I would wish for a wedding. It doesn’t have to be fancy or anything; I just can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with the man I love.
What’s your biggest regret in life?
Right now? I think not going to grad school and getting my master’s. I’ve always dreamed of getting my MFA, and I think I’d still like to do that at some point.
What are your wildest dreams/fantasies/kinks/quirks?
Wow! What a loaded question. I’d love to do tons of traveling, namely go to Ireland someday. In my wildest dreams, I’d be standing on one of those cliffs with my hair blowing around, and simply amazed by that awesome sight of the wild ocean below me. Another fantasy of mine is to live on the beach. I want to have a beach house someday, and live there with my future husband. I can’t think of anything more relaxing than opening the back door, padding out to the beach in my bare feet, and breathing in the sea air. A quirk of mine? I am pretty precise about some things. If something looks out of place, I have to fix it.
How would readers find out more about you?
They can learn more about me and my books on my website at http://marielavender.com/ They can also friend/follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Your writing
When did you write your first book? How long did it take you to write it?
Ah, technically my first foray into book writing was in the third grade when we had an assignment to write one. Their version of publishing, however, was lamination and then spiral binding the book to take home. LOL. The title was ‘The Mystery of the Golden Chair’. Needless to say, I’ve matured since then. Though I always wrote stories, I began writing my first book in 2002 and that project took me nine years to write. That was a historical romance novel titled Upon Your Return, and it was published in 2013. I, of course, had published other books before that time.   
Did you encounter any obstacles in writing? What are they? How did you overcome them?
Research is always an obstacle with historical fiction. If you are trying to place a book in a certain year or span of years, it becomes a great challenge to find relevant information for that time period. Another obstacle with Upon Your Return was the road to publishing. After the manuscript was polished, my goal was to publish. So, I sought out literary agents and potential publishers that might accept the book. I received many rejections and even feedback from a few places, stating that I should change major parts of the book. I couldn’t do that then as I feared the final result would be unrecognizable; I had a duty to honor my characters. In any case, I stayed true to the vision of the story, and a publisher did accept the manuscript the way it was. I think it worked out fine in the end!

How did you feel when you received your first contract? What did you do? Any celebratory dinner, dance, event, etc to commemorate the occasion?
Well, after the initial shock of staring at the acceptance letter for ten minutes, yes, I did celebrate by going out to dinner with my fiancé. Oh, it was so exhilarating to receive that contract!
What kind of books do you love/hate to write? Why?
I love reading and writing historical romance, but as aforementioned, finding the right research can be a major pain. I have a love/hate relationship with research. I love learning new things, and absorbing myself in how the time period played out, how it must have felt to be there. I may not be the only one who feels this way, but it seems like it’s getting harder to find accurate data these days. You have to be very careful about your sources.
Urban fantasy and fantasy are also pretty challenging genres to tackle. I love keeping my mind open to the extraordinary, but creating another world in that sense can be difficult at first. I’d have to say that any genre or subgenre has its own challenges. I think the general consensus with science fiction and fantasy is that you wouldn’t have to do research for them, but that’s not true. You have to research every book, some more than others. You have to make the story believable. The point is to still love writing and care about the characters in the process, which I do.

What do you think about editing?
It’s a necessary evil, and truthfully it’s not always painful. Only when you’re cutting huge sections does it really hurt. LOL. But seriously, it’s something writers have to face. Editing is necessary because we become better writers in the process, and our readers will thank us for not having a million typos in the copy.
Where and when do you write? Tell us about your favorite work place and time. Any special reason?
I write any time of day, but my strongest writing happens at night, before I go to sleep when the ideas are keeping me awake. I write stretched out across my bed, or if I write during the day, I just try to find a comfortable place that I wouldn’t mind sitting while the scene is flowing out of me. I know that when I finally lift the pen from the page and my hand is starting to cramp up, I’ve been in the zone. Sometimes I also write outside. The backdrop of fresh air and singing birds can be inspiring.
How do you write? Do your characters come to you first or the plot or the world of the story? How do you go on from there? Maybe you can give us an example with one of your books.
I would have to say that the characters and the world of the story start to play out for me at first. A scene just comes to me randomly and I start writing. Later, I can piece scenes together to figure out how the story will flow. In the back of my mind, I know the basic plot, but I don’t know the finer details. That comes out in the writing of the book. And yes, I can provide an example. When the sequel to Upon Your Return, Upon Your Honor, came to me, I could only see the scene from the first chapter of Chloe stowing aboard a ship. This is how it looked before I filled in the rest of the book:
Chloe Waverly made her way along the gangway of the dark ship, trying her best to look as inconspicuous as possible in a pair of brown trousers, a matching coat, cap, and boots. The starch in the fabric made her skin itch, and the clothing felt large on her small body. She had always cursed her size. She hated that she wasn’t as tall as other women around her age. At nineteen, she was very petite with a cloud of blonde tresses flowing around her heart-shaped face and hazel eyes. It was difficult to hide her hair underneath the cap she wore. She needed to look like a sailor or at least a man that belonged there. This was the last place she was supposed to be and, fortunately, the last place Lamonte Beckett would search.
The man she was betrothed to would be angry when he discovered her missing. That house was the last place she wanted to be. Ever since her father’s passing a few months before, she had been trying to dodge Lamonte. His advances had become a tiresome yet fear-filled reality. He was a scoundrel and she simply couldn’t understand why her father would entrust her protection and the rest of her life to that man. Chloe had heard rumors of his behavior from the maids, not to mention that she had once witnessed him ravaging one of them, only a young girl of fifteen. And of all times, during her father’s convalescence.
Of course, she’d intervened. She had outraged against the injustice then, and swore he would not carry on so with such indiscretion in her house. He had been angry with her, but she was far too distracted with caring for her father at the time to heed his threats.
Her plan now was to get as far away from Lamonte as possible without drawing too much attention. If she could reach New Orleans, then she could locate her grandmother, who would take her in. A few days before she left, Chloe had sent a letter off to Nana to warn her of her possible arrival. Nana, her father’s mother, had always been kind in her occasional letters she sent to the house and she knew very little, if anything, of the arrangement between her father and Chloe’s fiancé. She didn’t know what kind of reception she’d have if her grandmother knew she was affianced and to marry within the next few weeks.
Leaving had proven to be very difficult. Chloe had no allies in the house. All of the servants worked for Lamonte now, so she couldn’t enlist the help of any maids. Her own nursemaid, Veronica, had quickly become controlled by her fiancé after her father’s bout of pneumonia. He made it clear that it was better to be loyal to him than to Chloe. Therefore, when she began planning her escape, she did it alone. She had to wait until Veronica had gone to her own quarters and everyone else in the house was asleep as well. Of course, as she’d assumed, Lamonte would be preoccupied with his own pleasures and so he wouldn’t notice her leaving.
She gathered what she could and wrapped it in a makeshift sack that she slung over her shoulder on a pole. She had retrieved the items while observing the gardeners a few days before. That was also when she had discovered the extra men’s clothing lying about. They were clean and simple, but they would do. She hid everything under the bed so that a maid wouldn’t find them. She had left the house tonight and had taken one of the spare horses to the docks. Luckily, the boy who guarded the stable was asleep.
Chloe chose a ship called La Voyageur. It was large enough and it appeared to be a cargo ship of some kind, but she could not be sure. She figured she could hide easily enough among the shipments or pretend she was a sailor at least for a while until she could find a way off.
Now, on the ship, she tried to look busy or move out of the way of the sailors moving crates around. She ducked her head to avoid eye contact with any of the men. She feared that if enough attention was drawn to her, they would notice she was not who she claimed.
Chloe moved towards the back of the ship and went down the companionway below only to shrink back when a massive form came into view. His dark auburn hair was rakishly drawn in waves over his head and he had the darkest eyes she’d ever seen. Her heart raced, and her breath came in small gasps. Stunned, she tried to get control of herself, but she came to the realization that she wanted to drown in that gaze.
“What are you doing there, boy? Get some cargo moved in here. We have work to do. We’ll be leaving shortly, as you know.”
She tried for her best sailor dialect. “Aye, Captain.”
One eyebrow rose sardonically. “You know damn well I’m not the captain, sailor. But, you still have to follow my orders.”
“Aye.” She discreetly discarded her sack, saw some small crates nearby and bent to pick one up. Aware of the heft, she struggled under its weight.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you before. What’s your name?”
“Uhh…Charlie, sir.”
“Well, Charlie. I suppose you’ll learn soon enough. Did Captain Hill recruit you?”
She had to seem convincing. She tried to look as if the question was natural. “Aye, found me down by the harbor poking around, he did. A fella can’t help where he finds a meal.” Chloe grinned, feeling silly.
He nodded. “Like I said, you’ll learn soon enough. Those crates will do good in the back store room. It’s nearly full. I’ll let the others know there’s no more room there.” He looked her over once more. “I’m keeping an eye on you, boy.”
“Aye, sir.”
The man moved past her. When he took the companionway to the upper deck, Chloe breathed a sigh of relief.

What is your must-have book for writing?
Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. It not only gives Goldberg’s fascinating journey to being a writer, it has tons of advice and lots of writing prompts to get your creative wheels spinning.
What is your advice to aspiring writers?
Practice writing as often as you can, and subscribe to blogs with writing tips. You can only get better. You’re a writer as soon as you’re writing. Be patient with the publishing process. It will take as long as it takes. If you want to be published traditionally, you have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else. But, don’t forget perseverance. Never lose that spark or love of writing. Never give up. If you do, you’re the only one who will suffer.

Your books
What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?
For the most part, I write romance or variations of it. I count myself lucky that the industry has come to accept so many different kinds of romance: Western, time travel, paranormal, romantic fantasy, and the list just keeps going. I have also written some mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. I love writing romance not just because I love “love”, but also because the characters call to me, begging me to tell their stories. I write for them, and if I didn’t, my writing would suffer. I also write for my fans who want to see the next book in a series, or to learn more about the characters they’ve come to love. I write to hopefully make a difference, even in the smallest way, to someone.

Among those that you’ve written, which is your favorite book and why?
I think Upon Your Return will always have a special place in my heart. I can really identity with Fara Bellamont, the heroine, not only because she is a dreamer, but also because she refuses to accept the standards set for women in her time. She does everything she can to attain her desires, and I respect that.  
Where do you get your ideas? Do you jot them down in a notebook, in case you forgot?
Although this is the usual question, it tends to stump me. Why? Because in truth, I don’t know where my ideas come from. They just come to me out of the blue. There’s no rhyme or reason usually. It simply happens. Now and then, I will be inspired specifically by something I read or saw, but I look at my ideas as a collage of information and life experiences somehow exploding onto the page. The idea is the easy part. What happens after that is when the real work begins.

Which book is the closest to your heart? Why?
Well, as aforementioned, Upon Your Return is one that definitely gets to me. Another one is A Touch of Dawn, previously released under my alternate pen name Erica Sutherhome. It is a story about two special people who have been through horrific experiences, and somehow manage to find each other. This story makes me cry, and think that anything is possible. I truly believe there is someone special for everyone, and I try to convey that with my books.

Which of your books feature your family/friends, etc? What characters are modeled after them? Why?
I haven’t modeled any characters specifically after my family, though some traits may unintentionally seem like them. One character, named Adrienne, from the Heiresses in Love Series, reminds me a little of my sister because of her antics. I do have a work in progress that is a time travel romance, and I did model the hero somewhat after my fiancé. 

Who is your strongest/sexiest/most lovable/hottest hero/heroine? Why?
Wow. That’s a hard question because I love them all. I still find Captain Grant Hill from Upon Your Return to be very strong and sexy. He continues to be just as appealing in the following books. And I have to fan myself a little here because Alec Sullivan from Second Nature is a total hottie. Add the vampire element to him? He becomes hotter. Gabriel from Upon Your Honor is sexy and only dangerous because he is so lovable. And with regards to my female characters, I love how strong they are. I admire Fara Bellamont, Chloe Waverly and Adrienne Hill from the Heiresses in Love Series for their inner strength. They are all beautiful women inside and out, and more appealing because they don’t always see it. Angie from Leather and Lace, another book released under my pen name Erica Sutherhome, is a strong, yet gorgeous character. I had a lot of fun making her completely irresistible to the hero, Patrick. And I have to mention Desiree from Second Nature. She is thrown into an impossible situation, awakened to a world she never knew and there are things about herself she has to come to terms with. I admire her resilience and her ability to face her strange circumstances.

Have you ever wanted to write your book in one direction but your characters are moving it in another direction? What did you do in such a situation?
Yes, eventually I have to listen to the characters alone. They have a story to tell, and I must follow the muse.

Tell us more about your latest release.
Second Nature, book one of the Blood at First Sight Series, is my latest release. It is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy. Here is the blurb:

Any new projects, work in progress?

I have a ton of works in progress so I really never have to worry about getting ideas. The problem is picking a story and focusing on it. I just finished writing Upon Your Love, which will be book three of the Heiresses in Love Series. This will finish up the historical romance saga about the Bellamont-Hill family. The manuscript is being edited now. Recently, I wrapped up work on the second book in the Magick Series, a children’s fantasy titled A Little Magick. That is currently being formatted for release. As for my future projects, I plan to finish writing Blood Instincts and The Bloodseer Legacy, books two and three of the Blood at First Sight Series. Beyond that? I will probably write the final book of the Magick Series; that is titled Magick Sunrise. I also have a historical romance/fantasy series about a coven of witches planned for the future. You can see my full list of projects, including other works in progress here:  http://marielavender.com/about/projects-and-writing/    
Do you outline your books or wing it?  Describe your process. 
Actually, I do both. At first, the scenes are really random and I don’t know much of what will happen in the book except for a basic idea of the plot. After I get enough scenes written, a picture begins to form in my mind and then I do a detailed outline to keep me on track while I’m writing chapters. It isn’t unheard of, however, to occasionally stray a bit from this outline if a character or plot element requires it. 

How do you decide on setting?
That actually comes later. Though I may have a general idea of what the setting looks like, I haven’t pinned it down to an actual place until I start doing more writing and some research. Then I decide the best location for the story, and what would work for that scene. 

Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?
Yes, my muse tends to lean more towards romance, though other elements – suspense, aliens, ghosts, vampires, shifters, witches, police procedural, and history – may be thrown in from time to time. 

What is your favorite part of writing?
Oh, my favorite part is getting immersed in the scene and letting it play out, learning about the characters and coming to care about them, and then stepping back later to reread everything. There is an excitement and a kind of awe to the writing process. 

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of editing.  How about you?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist so if I notice any glaring errors, they can be a little distracting while I write. Often I will correct those, but not worry about the minor ones until I finish writing the manuscript. I do a lot of editing later. 

How much research was involved in writing your book?  How did you go about it?
Second Nature required me to learn more about Baltimore, which I found to be a blast. I would so love to visit that city. It looks lovely. So, yeah, it did take me some time to find out everything so that I could naturally fit what I knew into the story. I did a lot of research online, but I kept most of the research to Wikipedia or to the city of Baltimore’s website. I also used Google Maps a lot so that I could make sure everything was within a reasonable distance. The most challenging aspect, I’d have to say, was learning what I needed to know about the Civil War. There was a specific piece of information that kept eluding me for one reason or other – perhaps the government didn’t want people to have access to it at the time – but I was determined to find the answer to my question. I eventually did find it, and it all worked out. 

What’s the strangest thing you have ever done in the name of research?
My research takes me into some pretty strange places on the internet. If someone looked at my web searches, they’d probably think I had lost my mind. From types of poisons to drug overdoses to how crimes are solved to the human psyche, yeah, I guess I’m pretty crazy. Or at least completely normal for a writer. Anytime a question comes up while I’m writing, I am adamant to find out the answer. So, it definitely makes for an interesting experience.  

What inspired your latest release?
I always wanted to write a vampire story, and luck would have it that the small scene that began with Desiree’s kidnapping fit the idea perfectly. I was inspired by the idea of a woman being attracted to her captor and struggling to come to terms with it. Of course, I had to give Alec some redeeming qualities or the whole thing would have been creepy. After the book was written, I began to have ideas for sequels, and it just got more exciting! Here is a little teaser for that scene: 

Desiree struggled to awaken. There was a jostling movement, and the sound of an engine. Her body began to tingle all over. She opened her eyes to see that she was lying across the backseat of a car. As her vision cleared fully, she could discern the shape of the driver. Wide shoulders, short black hair. She shivered. Dear God, she was a captive! She should have called the cops right away. At least then someone would guess what had happened to her.

“You’re safe,” a voice rasped.

Her voice was hoarse when she replied, “I don’t believe you.” 

“I don’t blame you, but I assure you it’s true.”

The deep rumble of his tone reverberated through her body, lighting fires where they shouldn’t be. She sucked in a breath and tried to sit up, but her wrists and ankles were bound, making her body little more than dead weight. She moaned at the situation she found herself in. She was dressed, she realized. Fully dressed in jeans and a camisole. That was very … enterprising of him. 

Can you tell us about your road to publication?
I always knew I wanted to write. In college, I studied Creative Writing to further my goals toward writing a novel. I published two short stories in a private university publication, a couple of years after I began writing my first book. I had an idea that Upon Your Return would be my first published novel, but fate intervened when the self-publishing craze began to get popular. In 2010, I published a literary fiction and poetry anthology titled Express Café and Other Ramblings. I went on to publish subsequent books, encompassing other genres as well and the idea of a pen name was appealing. In 2011, once Upon Your Return was fully edited, I began submitting the manuscript to literary agents and publishers. No matter what, I was firm in my belief that I would reach a traditional publisher somehow. In August of 2012, I received a wonderful surprise in my inbox, with an email from Solstice Publishing. I received a book contract for the book; they loved it! And the journey just keeps going. Since 2013, I have published four books with them. It has been a real blessing to be a part of the Solstice family. 

E-books, print, or both?  Any preferences?  Why?
Both, but I prefer print books. I don’t have an official Kindle reader yet, but I do have the apps on my phone and PC. It is more convenient to read paperback or hardback, but I will still read an ebook now and then. 

How much time do you spend promoting your books?
Quite a lot, actually. Years ago, if someone had told me I would be promoting so much, I probably would have laughed. But, the industry has changed, and now a lot of authors have to do their own promotion.  

Please tell us your experiences with social media.  What are your favorite and least favorite parts of it?
I think the different social media companies like Facebook and Twitter are cracking down so much with their rules that it sometimes makes it impossible to get things done. I will still keep trying, though. I like Facebook because it’s easier to connect personally with a reader, though. 

How much of you is in the books you write?  In what ways?
I see bits of myself in my characters, just as I see bits of my family or friends in them. For example, I am a dreamer with a bit of a stubborn streak. I can be feisty when pushed too far. So, I can identify with Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return in many ways. Also, Desiree from Second Nature, my latest book, reminds me a little of me. 

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?
Oh, sure. Let me list them for you: shirt department personnel at a tuxedo warehouse, busser, hostess, appointment setter and executive assistant. But, truthfully, I was always a writer. 

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
Yeah, sometimes I think I was born to write. It just came naturally from the time that I could put a pen to paper. Well, it happened before that too, but most of my ideas came out in playtime, and I would enact the scenes with paper dolls or Barbie dolls. That still makes me laugh to think of it. Eventually, I had to write them down, to reset the switch, so to speak, in order to make room for more ideas. 

Do you have or belong to a writing organization?  Which one?
I’d like to join RWA, but I haven’t had a chance just yet. I am so busy! Maybe when I free up some time, I will do that. I am in the official directory of Poets & Writers, though.
What do you keep on your desk?
My desk is cluttered right now. I am in the process of a major spring cleaning. When I am working on a book, I try to keep a set of notes on hand, however, to keep me on track. Post-it notes are my friend; they help me stay organized. I also try to keep notebooks, lots of pens, snacks, Tylenol and a spare flash drive on my desk, among other things. My cell phone is also nearby so that I don’t miss notifications from social media, and I can launch the Pandora app for mood music whenever I need to.  

Tell us about your hero or heroine.  Give us one of his/her strengths and one of his/her weaknesses.
Yes, let’s talk about Alec, the hottie! He is actually more magnanimous than he realizes, but he tends to push some people away because attachments, in his opinion, only lead to heartache and complications. 

You’re having a party.  What character from your book do you hope attends?  Why?  What character do you hope doesn’t attend?  Why?
Oh, I definitely want Alec to attend. He would be fine to look at, wouldn’t he? I will include a picture of him so that you can judge. *Sigh.  
I hope his sire doesn’t attend. The man who made him a vampire is a complete…er, jerk.

 What do you read?  Do you read different genres when you’re writing versus not writing?
I read whatever I can when I have time, but I do tend to focus on paranormal romance, historical romance, contemporary romance or romantic suspense. I recently read a riveting time travel romance called Rogue on the Rollaway by Shannon MacLeod; it was somewhat reminiscent of the Outlander TV series, but not quite. My reading habits are about the same, regardless of whether I’m immersed in a project or not.

What books are on your nightstand or by your chair?
LOL. Okay, I’ll share. I just finished Kerrelyn Sparks’ How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying) so I set that aside this morning. Other random titles on my nightstand? Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right by Kieran Kramer, Moonlight Cove by Sherryl Woods, Bride of the Tower by Sharon Schulze, and A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole. 

What’s your favorite film of all time?  Favorite book?
It’s so hard to choose. Let me go with ‘Ever After:  A Cinderella Story’ with Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott. It is a very romantic tale and I just love Dougray in that movie! This film makes me cry and causes my romantic’s heart to soar. And who doesn’t love a female character who can take care of herself?  

My favorite book? I’ll go with Dark Lover by J.R. Ward since I am a paranormal romance freak. Although I also love any book by Nora Roberts. 

What’s the coolest surprise you’ve ever had?
This isn’t book related, but kind of cute. So, on my thirteenth birthday, I received a box wrapped in kitten wrapping paper. It was adorable, and since I loved cats, I couldn’t wait to open it. But I couldn’t figure out why there were holes in the box and why it was making noises. So, I opened it up and my present was a real six month old calico kitten! That was one of the most memorable birthdays I ever had! 

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
Sometimes I wish I was better with numbers. Math was never one of my strengths so even though I can do basic math, I don’t really get algebra or anything else.  I always wondered what I’d use it for in real life, since my interests were related to literature instead, but now and then I can see a use for it, like if you’re trying to figure out how much paint you’d need for something, you know? So, I guess I would have liked to be better at math than I am.  

What might we be surprised to know about you?
I am a soprano, and I used to sing a lot of solos for choir. 

What’s your favorite comfort food?  Least favorite food?
I like risotto. Sometimes I’ll just make it and throw in some extra ingredients. I love the flavor of risotto. Least favorite? I’m not exactly a fan of brussel sprouts. 

What music “soothes your soul”?  Do you listen to music as you write?
I think anything by Owl City, Ellie Goulding or Lights is kind of soothing. All of these artists also have the ability to lift you out of a melancholic mood because some of their songs are upbeat or happy. I also find some Celtic music kind of calming.


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