My first publication was pretty easy. It’s what got me hooked. See, my mom was a writer and I grew up with her publishing stories about me in magazines like Women’s World. So when I wrote about breaking my ribs in high school cheerleading I sent it to American Cheerleader Magazine because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. Easiest $100 I ever made.
I went to college for journalism and planned to work for a magazine. I ended up starting my family before I finished college, so then I wrote stories for kids. Sold to magazines like Hopscotch and an anthology titled Summer Shorts. But I hadn’t been able to sell a book. The publisher for Summer Shorts wanted to buy a longer version of my short story The Water Fight Professional, but they went out of business. I was back to square one.
That’s when I decided to start writing women’s fiction. I attended the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference for the first time in 2006 and got my big break with a request for my first full-length manuscript Fake Blond. The publisher ended up rejecting it but because of their interest I was able to get an agent. She sold Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho in 2008.
Then I went through my horrible, awful divorce (see last post) and decided I was never writing romance again. But then I fell in love and realized love changes everything, and now I’m writing romantic suspense and actually just found another publisher for The Water Fight Professional, which has now become the Fun4Hire series.
When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck?
I read my Bible and ask God for help. He usually answers, but it’s not when I’m expecting it. It’s when I’m jogging or showering or on a road trip or writing absolute garbage because I have a deadline and I know I can go back and clean it up later if I can just make it through to the end. Seriously, I make myself read the Bible and pray before I write because if I don’t, I will end up banging my head on the computer or possibly even writing something that’s not glorifying to Him so I will have to go back and delete it anyway. His inspiration is the best.
What aspect of being a writer is the most challenging for you? Why is this difficult, and what steps have you taken to overcome this hurdle?
This might sound crazy, but if I’m not writing, I can’t sleep at night. Often during the Christmas season I will get a seasonal job to help out with presents, and I will spend my nights staring at the ceiling, physically exhausted but with this creative energy inside my brain that can’t get out. I know if I start writing, I will go into my writing world and neglect all other responsibilities, so I just lay there.
And then we get this paycheck that allows us to totally spoil people during Christmas and go on trips and do all this great stuff, and it feels like writing is a curse. Like life would be so much easier if I could just get a normal job that provided a normal paycheck. But I can’t. And I so appreciate having a husband who understands the necessity for me to be a starving artist. We will actually overcome this hurdle by starting to Christmas shop in June this year.
I did once. For a whole year after my ex-husband’s first affair. I wanted to give 100% to our marriage because family is a higher priority.
So interesting that you ask this question. I usually don’t talk about it. But I’m very thankful that I did stop writing because when my ex ended up leaving me a few years later, I knew I had given our marriage everything I had. And if you read the answer to that last question, you will know how hard not writing is for me.
Do you read your reviews? Have you ever replied to one? Do you find they influence your writing when you work on subsequent books?
I read reviews. I love feedback. I want to either know my words inspired or get an idea of how I can improve. Sometimes reviews are funny like the one that pointed out I had a river running the wrong way, and I’m like, “Oops.” Then there was one that claimed I “awoke love too early,” and I was like, “Heck, yeah. I rock at chemistry.” If you don’t like chemistry, then my romance novels aren’t for you, and I’m okay with that.
I don’t have to please everybody. I just have to be true to the person God created me to be. And I have to remember that He always has more for me.