As seen in the December issue of Uncaged Book Reviews.
Uncaged: You are well known for writing smoking hot Historicals, especially those wicked Highlanders, but you also write Contemporary and Young Adult. Can you tell us more about your different series?
Thank you! My first love is the historical novel. When I was young I read Little House On The Prairie books over and over again loving the way they lived and carved their lives in the land. As I grew older my love for historical romance continued and I really focus on historical romances. My adult contemporary series aren’t yet published, are filled with alpha males and strong heroines who clash until they realize they can’t live without each other. My YA series is a work in progress and always hovering at the back of my mind. I work in education and kids amazing me in so many ways. And the characters have specific interest in art and that is pulled into the series. I actually have interviews set up with a metal artist coming up.
Uncaged: This is our holiday issue – can you tell us of some of your holiday traditions and some things you love to do during the Christmas season?
We do Christmas big in our house. Growing up all of the relatives would come to our house on Christmas Day and it was very fun and there was a ton of food. My love of Christmas has sometimes gotten out of control with decorating, baking and cooking, but I love chaos so it usually works out. We still put our shoes by our bedroom doors on St. Nickolas’ Day (December 6th) and the kids receive gum, candy and Starbucks gift cards. When my daughter went to college, I sent it to her
We bake a lot of cookies and bring them to neighbors, relatives, and work. This is an all-day activity in which we make about eight different types of Christmas cookies. And for Christmas dinner, we have an abbreviated Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes along with family favorites such as tenderloin, roasted Brussel sprouts and tiramisu.
What I love most of all is that we are together.
Uncaged: Christmas in the Highlands was a magical book to me. What I loved about it, is the two stories kept all the characters in both and they both enhanced each other. What inspires your Historicals? How much research do you do for them?
Thank you! I think there is just something magical (at least perceived by readers) about the Highlands and Scottish men in general. The accent, the kilt, the brawn. Those facets come together to create a romantic character. And for me, that means writing historicals because I love the idea of a Highlander sweeping the heroine off of her feet. I’m also very tied to my Celtic heritage and it may be why I’m drawn to Scottish historicals in particular.
I love little nuggets that I can pull into my stories and make them real. With historicals, this is a no brainer, the history must be within the pages of the book in order to create an immersive story for the reader.
When I start plotting a story, I determine the area of the Highlands and see if there is a real clan I can use for my story. If I need to create a clan like, I did for the heroines in the Wild Thistle Trilogy, I pick characteristics of existing clans. If it is a real clan, there is a lot of research to do in order to honor the clan’s history. In Christmas in the Highlands, the clans are real and I found some information about the clan which allowed me to create the conflict in A Family for Christmas. Basics, such as clothing, speech, and food is necessary to get right and create an authentic experience for the reader. My editor is awesome at detecting words that weren’t used during the time period I’m writing, so I research word usage as well (Thank God for Google!).
Uncaged: As a reviewer, I’m always curious as to what authors can take away from the reviews, do you read them and what do you take away from the reviews?
I read all reviews. Sometimes a review can hurt, these are our babies after all. However, I think the best thing to do is see if the criticism is accurate and then use it to better your writing craft. In my opinion, writers should always try to learn and perfect the facets of writing such as characterization, dialogue, and word usage.
Uncaged: Can you tell us what you have coming up next?
Highland Faith, Book 3 of the Wild Thistle Trilogy will be out May 2018. I’m working on a contemporary Christmas story and developing 2 historical series, one is called Highland Rogues based on Shakespearian themes and the other a Regency Mystery Series.
Uncaged: Where do you come up with your characters and their names? How much do you pull from people you know?
I usually start with a title and the hero and heroine’s names. That kicks off the story and then I do a character sketch for each character and plop those right at the beginning of the working manuscript. That way I can keep the characterization accurate and tweak if necessary. I also create a Pinterest board for each book so I have visuals and links to something I researched. Some characteristics of people I know filter into a character, but none are based solely on someone I know. And a few times people have asked me to put them in my books. In my Highland Rogue Series, I have added a clan story teller which is loosely based on one of my co-workers.
Uncaged: What is your favorite parts about being an author? What have you found to be the least favorite?
I love writing, the creative process, and seeing my books in print. Even if I tried to turn my muse off, I can’t, stories pop into my head all of the time. I love meeting writers and forging friendships and meeting readers at signings. One thing I do not love is the everyday minutia of marketing. I’m a bit of a techie, so I try to use technology to help me post to multiple social networking sites at one time and populate my Twitter feed with writing articles. I do love interacting on social networking, but sometimes I lose a lot of time on Facebook and/or Twitter – oh and Pinterest! One can spend a lot of time finding inspiration on Pinterest.
Uncaged: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I love to read and cook. We spend a lot of time together as a family and now that our children are getting older, my husband and I are enjoying going to events and restaurants in our city on our own. We also have a new puppy named Cannoli who is keeping us very busy and may well become a character in a children’s book in the future!
Uncaged: I know that my favorites change as I read more and more books, but was the last book you loved? The last book you wanted to throw against a wall (good or bad)?
I always give books a chance, even if I want to throw it against a wall, I finish it. Sometimes books improve, but I think the main reason is that I know how much work goes into writing and publishing a book.
As for my favorite book, hmmm, this is tough! I have so many authors I love to read and read all of their books. I think Elizabeth St. Michel’s Duke of Rutland Series and Willa Blair’s historicals are wonderful. I also love Misty Simon’s newest contemporary book Cremains of the Day.
Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?
Thank you for reading my books! An author puts a lot of blood, sweat and tears into each book and when someone clicks that buy button, it makes our day. And when you leave a review? It is the best gift an author can receive.