One day I decided to sit down and write a book. I’d never thought about writing before, didn’t even really like it all that much. I was a business major in college, only taking the requisite English and literature classes required for graduation. Sure, I wrote essays, term papers, book reports, and the like. Not fun, although I didn’t mind the book reports so much. Those allowed me to read. Now there’s something I really did like to do. I read during car rides, sitting by the pool, waiting for class, waiting on a mall bench while my friends shopped – you get the idea. After years of reading, I decided I could write. I sat down and started, and six weeks later I’d written the first draft for my debut novel, Altered. A few months after what I considered editing (removing/correcting erroneous punctuation and grammar), I sent it out to a publisher, and it was accepted and published. As I met with and talked with other authors, I found out this is not the normal routine for getting published. I have since found that out on a personal level. A few months after completing Altered, I sat down and wrote another novel, Scale Steps, in about two months. No takers on Scale Steps, and after working with a Penner (my publisher for Altered) editor and knowing what actual editing is, it needs an extensive overhaul. I’ve since published a short story, Connections, and am in the process of writing two novels (one or both are part of a series), two short stories, and a screenplay. Writing? Who knew it would become my calling.
If forced, I can write any hour day or night, but my preference is twilight. I seem to be most creative and creatively focused. I can write until late at night, although most times I have to cut myself off since I have a day job.
By and large, I’m a pantser, not a plotter. When writing my first two novels and the one short story, I pants my way through. I had a general idea of what the story was and where I wanted it to go although that usually changed once I started writing. It’s cliché, but the characters really do take control and write their own stories. My latest novel effort is something else though. I’m venturing into fantasy, and about 10,000 words in, I realized I couldn’t continue riding by the seat of my pants. With fantasy, you sort of have to know what the details are in order to weave them together in a sensible way. I had to stop and really flesh out the story. I’m still not sure what’s going to happen exactly, but I have a better sense of the structure, and I absolutely know the long game, especially since it’s a series.
I live in the suburbs of Houston, so most of my stories take place in and around Houston. Even my current fantasy manuscript is set in the fictional town of Spring Oaks (Ha! I live in Spring). I’ve also lived in Northern (born and raised whoot!) and Southern California, and both of those places showed up in Altered.
I tend to put a lot of cooking in my books because I love to cook and eat, especially Creole food. I have several book recipes listed on my website, and I expect to add plenty more. Being a huge fan of the Diana Gabaldon book series, Outlander, I submitted two recipes to the Cooklander* cookbook, and both were accepted. Maybe one day I’ll even do a cookbook myself. Who knows?
I love all my characters, well most of them, but Andrew from Scale Steps was the most fun to write. He and the main character, Faith, meet in Scotland (he’s Scottish, she’s American), and spend a week together while she’s on vacation. I loved researching where they would go for fun, especially given they’re both pretty outdoorsy, and listening to hours of Sam Heughan interviews to get the accent down. Andrew is a celebrity, but super down-to-earth and sweet. And he’ll do anything to get his girl.
Another character I would like to explore more is Rob from Connections. Because it’s a short story, we don’t get a whole lot of face-time with Rob, but he’s a great guy who has his stuff together. Plus, he’s a tattooed nerd… Is there really anything else to say? Here’s a short excerpt from Connections: A steamy short story:
I walk over to the bed and sit, unzipping my boots.
He watches me carefully, and I pat the space next to me. “I think you promised me a look at your tattoos.”
As he strips off his sweater and the T-shirt underneath, he walks slowly towards me, jeans slung low on his hips, allowing me to take in the full effect.
“God, you’re the hottest nerd I’ve ever seen.”
That brings a smile to his face, and he sits next to me on the bed. With my hands, I encourage him to turn away so I can see his perfectly muscled back with some sort of shield covering the top half. On the arm that doesn’t have the sleeve, there’s a tattoo of computer code on the inside of his well-defined bicep.
I look at his back again and try to puzzle out what it is. Finally I just ask, “What is it?”
“It’s a Hylian Shield.”
Since that doesn’t clear anything up for me, I lean forward and wrap my arms around him, kissing the smooth skin of his back.
He emits a small groan and puts his hands on top of mine, before turning towards me. “I think turnabout is fair play.” He smiles devilishly at me.
I’m looking forward to the publication of Déjà You because I’ve formed some great friendships with a group of really talented authors, and this collection will feature some incredible short stories. For my part, I’m including one of two short stories:
High School Hate – A couple has a terrible breakup in high school, and continue that trend over the next few years. Will they have a second chance at love when they meet at their high school reunion, or will they continue to make each other’s lives miserable?
We’ll Always Have Oahu – A young woman goes on a high school graduation trip with her friends to Hawaii and meets a handsome Navy sailor. She herself is slated to go to the Army, but after a whirlwind romance, he wants her to rethink her choices.
Look for Déjà You Spring 2017.
*Proceeds of Cooklander go to charity:
- Bloodwise – Formerly known as Leukemia & Lymphoma Research, is the UK’s biggest blood cancer charity. Working to beat, treat, cure and prevent blood cancers. Bloodwise researches, helps, campaigns, shares learning and raises money. Sam Heughan, who plays Jamie Fraser in Starz series Outlander, supports Bloodwise. See https://bloodwise.org.uk/ for more information or to make a direct donation to this organization.
- NPH USA – supports Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (Spanish for “our little Brothers & sister”) raising children and transforming the lives of more than 3,400 orphaned, abandoned & disadvantaged children, in 9 countries, by providing shelter, food, clothing, healthcare, and education, in a Christian family environment, based on unconditional acceptance, love, sharing, working and responsibility. Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander book series, supports NPH USA. See https://www.nphusa.org/ for more information or to make direct donation to this organization.
- World Child Cancer – Their mission is to improve cancer diagnosis, treatment and care for children across the developing world. Caitriona Balfe, who plays Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser on Starz Outlander, is the patron of World Child Cancer. See http://www.worldchildcancer.org/ for more information or to make a direct donation to the organization