God spoke to me quite awhile about writing before I listened to Him. I took a circuitous route to becoming a novelist, trying my hand at a number of different professions and artistic outlets before falling in love with writing. Had I believed what established writers told me—that you could struggle for years to get published and possibly never get published—I don’t know if I would have stuck with the pursuit. But none of us really believe it will take that long to get published when we get started, do we? That’s a good thing.
I have yet to publish the first novel I wrote, a spiritual warfare story. That’s another thing most new novelists don’t believe, that they might write an entire book (or two or three) that they'll never publish. Insane!
I live in Northern Virginia with my wonderful teenaged son, who makes me laugh all the time. I also have an amazing daughter who is married, and a brilliant little grandson. The Lord has blessed me abundantly.
How was your road to publication? Smooth, bumpy, or just plain rocky?
More than anything, the road felt long! I wrote my first book part time, while finishing my Psychology degree and raising my son. By the time I finished that manuscript, I wanted to write a romantic comedy, which was the book that garnered me an agent and my first book contract. Once my wonderful agent started representing me, the road got much shorter and smoother. Of course, I have yet to have a contract that didn’t present its share of bumps, such as a shorter schedule than anticipated, an entire rewrite from one POV to another, or a total re-sequencing of a novel’s events. You simply have to be flexible to get over those bumps. It’s part of the biz.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Just as I did when I named my children, I put a lot of store in what names suggest. Not so much in their meaning, but in their ambiance, for lack of a better word. The women in my romantic comedies are generally spunky, so I give them short, snappy names. And my heroes tend to be romantic, so they usually get romance-language names or names that suggest true masculinity to me.
For the “bad guys” in my books, I usually get a picture of the character in my mind and wait for a fitting name to suggest itself to me. If the character is a manipulative sexpot, her name will enhance my vision of shallowness or cattiness. If the character is an oaf, I’ll give him a dumpy lump of a name. A mysterious protagonist will get a more exotic name.
I’ve changed characters’ names at times, as I’ve gotten to know them better. Sometimes their personalities develop differently than I originally expected, so other names become more suitable.
How did you handle your first rejection?
With a temper tantrum, what else? Actually, I took it terribly seriously and way too much to heart. But I appreciated the fact that I had heard about rejection from so many writers, so I knew better than to give up just because of a rejection or two. Or twenty. It really is part of the business, and you just have to keep trying to write better and to find a better fit for your work.
What did you do the first time you saw your first book in print?
I held onto it for ages and peeked at the pages—I didn’t want to bend the binding. And I showed my family and refused to stop showing them until I received the proper amount of oooohs and ahhhhs from them.
I also remember looking at that book and thinking that, even if I never received another book contract, the Lord had blessed me more than I ever anticipated. I still feel that way.
Tell me about your book…
Too Good to Be True has been out for awhile, but a publishing delay kept it from receiving some of the exposure I initially planned. So I appreciate your featuring the book on your site! Too Good is my second published romantic comedy. Here’s how I describe it on my webpage:
Your classic romantic heroine swoons after meeting Prince Charming in, say, an enchanted forest. But Rennie Young would never have met the gallant Truman Sayers if she hadn’t fainted immediately beforehand—in the boys’ sportswear department of her local Wal-Mart.
Ren, a 20-something elementary schoolteacher, has reluctantly accepted that her husband—who divorced her over a year ago—is not coming back. Tru Sayers, a handsome young labor-and-delivery nurse, seems like a gift from God. Ren’s friends and Tru’s siblings are supportive and excited about the match. But there are . . . complications.
Ren’s control-freak mother is desperate to match her daughter up with “more suitable” men. Tru’s mother wants Tru to remain a bachelor—and at her beck and call—forever. Is it possible to honor your parents while on the verge of killing them?
Despite conflicts, embarrassments, and a pity binge or two, Ren learns how to lean on the Lord and His loving will for her. Just when Ren thinks her happiness is slipping away, God shows her that no miracle is too good to be true.
Are you currently working on a new book?
Yes, I’m furiously writing to meet a February 1 deadline! I believe the book is slated for release in late 2008. My working title is Highheels on the Boardwalk, but I think we may be changing that.
This novel employs two characters from my first two novels—characters readers keep asking about—but the setting is completely different than the first two. And the book will be released as part of The Beach House Series, the first two books of which were written by Sally John. I’m excited about the crossover possibilities in merging my characters with Sally’s setting. The concept has been challenging but fun!