You can check out my books on, and at Barnes & Noble too.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Little Light Halloween Reading

There is something in the unselfish and self-sacrificing love of a brute, which goes directly to the heart of him who has frequent occasion to test the paltry friendship and gossamer fidelity of mere Man.
- Edgar Allan Poe
"The Black Cat"
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed? - tear up the planks! - here, here - it is the beating of his hideous heart!"
- "The Tell-Tale Heart"
Against the new masonry I re-erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace re quiescat!
- "The Cask of Amontillado"

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Character Collage

I'm by no means a fashion plate in my real life, but I like styling my characters: everything from lipstick to their home decor tastes. I'm going to do several of these collages. This one is for Ellie Grayson - one of the central protagonists of Dream of You, Jordan's love interest, and a new addition to the cast.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Book Meme

Today I'm answering questions from a meme I found over at Writing While the Rice Boils (Debbie Maxwell Allen) and talking about my newest novel Dream of You. I haven't done anything like this before, Blogger scaredy-cat that I am, so this should be fun. Below are her questions, and my answers to them.

1. What is the name of your book?

Dream of You

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

Dream of You is the sequel to my novel Keep You. Keep You began with a couple – Joanna and Tam – a vision of their story, and that of Jo’s family and the way they’d impacted Tam from childhood to the present. I fell in love with the whole family and decided to give Jo’s brother Jordan his own book.

3. In what genre would you classify your book?

Contemporary fiction. It’s a love story, but not a true genre romance. See also #8.

4. If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition, who would you choose?

I wish I could choose! I can never settle on an actor or actress because no one ever quite fits the picture I have in my mind. Sometimes the look is very similar, but the energy just isn’t right. No one “feels” like the characters for me. And I don’t ever want to taint a reader’s imagination by choosing an actor or actress she might not care for. My characters are more everyday beautiful than Hollywood glam anyway.

5. Give us a one-sentence synopsis of your book.

Professor and track coach Jordan Walker stands to lose his job, and all his jaded indifference, when he meets writer Ellie Grayson.

6. Is your book already published? Self-published or traditional?

It is self-published and will be released sometime in the next couple of weeks.

7. How long did it take you to write your book?

I began July of this year, so approximately three months. I’m writing full-time currently, so I was able to devote a lot of time in those three months.

8. What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or, readers of which books would enjoy yours?

Dream of You is a contemporary love story focused on true, intimate connections and relationship-building. It should appeal to fans of Nicholas Sparks and Marisa de los Santos.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

As a reader, I crave realistic love stories in which I can become truly invested, so I decided to write them myself. The Walker family waltzed into my head one morning and they felt like old friends, so I decided to champion them.

10. Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

More than anything I want my characters to be likeable. I want their romance to feel real and hot-blooded, but I want readers to walk away thinking you know, I really like those kids too.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Editing Sucks

I end up staring out the window, questioning every little decision I made along the way. It's maddening. Bright side: there's nice things to look at outside the window.

Just Because

Because it's almost Halloween, I want to take a moment to appreciate this guy.

Classic horror movies had almost nothing in the way of special effects. I for one love the hokey skeletons on fishing line and melodramatic swoons. The string music and grave expressions. But I love the atmosphere too. The shadows and cigarettes and the magic of imagination.

And no one has a better voice for atmosphere than Vincent Price. His orgininal House on Haunted Hill is my cheesy Halloween favorite.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


There's something about writing the very last sentence of a manuscript that is satisfying and bittersweet. It's followed by a moment of "wow" and a moment of "oh, sad" and a moment of "now I've got another project to begin".

I finished Dream of You this morning, and even though I have lots of tidying to do with it, it's crazy to think that the second installment of the trilogy (it might really be a series instead) is complete. I don't feel like I've created these characters, but like I stumbled upon them somehow and they've been kind enough to share their stories with me. I'm so, so fond of them, and I hope when Dream of You is released, readers will enjoy Jordan's story as much as I have.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Keeping Warm

Though winter is far from upon us, this is the time of year when my annual bundling begins. I have such a hard time keeping warm in the fall, winter and spring. Layer upon layer, sweatshirts, wool socks, hoods and hats, gloves, piles of blankets at night - I'm cold all the time. And when I'm cold, all I want to do is curl up on top of an electric heating pad and read, which, fat chance of the horses letting me get away with that.

I write seven days a week, and while it's important to keep physically warm, I need to keep mentally warm and fit too. And I really don't have a strategy for this: when I'm working on a novel, I work on it. Some days are admittedly slower than others, but whatever else is going on in life, the story always persists.

Someone referred to my writing as "goofing off" once. You can imagine how well I swallowed that pill! Suffice to say, I may not be clocking in and out, and my manager is my own internal alarm keeper, but the business of writing is indeed a business.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Black Trees

If I was Julie Andrews and this was The Sound of Music, the thing at the very top of my favorite things list would be black trees. Perfect, colorless silhouettes of trees against the last blush of sunset. Love them. Clearly, I'm easily entertained.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Different Perspective

One of my favorite things about working with a large cast of characters in my Walker Family Series is the opportunity for so many varying perspectives on central occurrences. I write in third person limited perspective, but I like to show the story unfold from several key characters' points of view, rather than just one. Invariably, though, there's not enough time and space to delve into the deep secrets and pasts of every single character.

Not in the books, anyway.

For every character, I ask myself: if I had to deliver a scene in his or her perspective, could I? Could I get inside his or her head? I always want the answer to be "yes".

Some authors use their websites to post deleted scenes or even short stories that tie into their novels, and I really like this - it's free bonus content. A deeper look into the stories I already enjoy. So I'm going to do that here, with Delta and Mike.

In Keep You, Jo's soon-to-be sister-in-law Delta Brooks is exactly the kind of woman Jo never wants to be, at least outwardly. But really, Delta is more multi-faceted than that. I'm challenging myself to try and put myself in Delta's shoes (however high, expensive, and not-my-style they may be). I'm going to go back to Delta and Mike's first meeting, and write a (long) short story, or maybe even novella, about their relationship and post it here, for free, on my blog.

I'm still working on a title, but look for it sometime soon.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


"Lizzy has something more of quickness than her sisters," Mr. Bennet said of his favorite daughter, and she's always been one of my favorites too.

An unquestionable classic, Pride and Prejudice introduces readers to the kind of female protagonist sorely lacking in much of today's fiction. Jane Austen challenged convention and thus earned a place in the hearts of readers for generations.

Elizabeth Bennet is saucy, principled, cynical, and yes, prejudiced, all while maintaining a certain sort of charm and sweetness. Unimpressed by wealth, protective of her family, Elizabeth is as refreshing now as she was in 1813. She entertained us - and Darcy too, the whole bunch of them really - and we went on a journey with her that rarely left drawing rooms, but was nothing less than adventurous. And that's the whole point, isn't it? If a character is a beautiful specimen of human traits and shortcomings, then she is the source of entertainment in a novel, and however mundane her daily life, I'll lap it up and ask for more.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy earn one another, you could say. And their love story is one of my very favorites.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Katie Scarlett

Everyone knows Scarlett O'Hara. Most people would say she's a bitch...and they wouldn't be wrong. She's also a brilliantly crafted character.

Scarlett's driving force in life is pride - a pride that makes her cutthroat, and, on occasion, manifests itself in more human ways. Proud of her beauty, proud of her ability to make men grovel, she craves validation rather than affection, and she's the sort of girl who puts her teeth into a challenge. Ashley won't love her, and she doesn't love him so much as she needs to achieve the unachievable. Rhett does love her, but he can't be manipulated - loving him would do nothing to prove her craftiness, and thus we are left with my favorite pairing of all time.

One of my favorite things about Scarlett is that her great character flaw is the one thing that gives her the mettle to survive when so many others would have wept into their skirts. She's too proud to go hungry, too proud to leave Mellie to fend for herself, too proud to admit that Tara can't be refurbished to its original splendor, too proud to beg Rhett for money, even if it means tearing down her mother's drapes and turning them into one of film's most iconic dresses.

I could go on for pages and pages, but this is the abridged version. Scarlett is a bitch, and she's one helluva strong woman. But never mistake bitchiness for strength. Scarlett is a complicated combination of traits that make her human, and make her difficult to label.

My mom made me - MADE me - her green drapery dress for Halloween one year when I was little. I had the hoop skirt, the tassels, the little hat and everything. And no one knew who I was supposed to be. A sad, sad day for literature it was.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Another dreary, cool, cold-snap October day has me thinking a lot about Halloween. Last week I wrote this for Dream of You:

...But Halloween was none of those things. It was too many Tootsie Rolls and neighborhood children dressed as goblins and princesses. It was Paige’s pointed witch hat and Johnny Depp’s Ichabod on TV. It was ninety-nine cent spiderweb that stuck to nothing but her fingers, the crunch of fallen leaves, the sinister orange flare of the sun as it winked out over the horizon. The dancing bright faces of Jack-o-lanterns and the sharp smell of singed pumpkin where a candle flame had licked just a little too high. Vampires and werewolves. Thriller and the throaty, timeless sound of Vincent Price’s laugh. Black cats and urban legends, sharp gusts of wood smoke wind and the sense that somewhere out there in the night, something worth lifting the fine hairs on the back of her neck was happening.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Feedback is Heavenly

No matter how the public at mass views contemporary fiction, for a writer, stories are art. And just like a singer, a dancer, an oil painter or sculptor, a writer waits, with baited breath and shaking hands, for feedback. Unlike auditory or visual arts, books take some digesting. It's not a passive form of entertainment and requires some effort on the part of the reader - I mean, they have to actually read before they can enjoy, and that's more time-consuming than listening to an iPod during a workout.

But for those brave people who read my work, and who then go on to provide me with the most treasured of gifts - feedback - I extend my unending thanks.

It's a cold (not truly cold, but cold for me) day - windy and gray - and I was mulling over a chapter when I received an unexpected message from someone who's read my online fan stories. (Some content I removed for privacy's sake)
Hi, I am relatively new to (*). I only came onto this site as a means of practicing my new hobby, creative writing...Your stories were recommended to me...and I'm so glad she did. They are beautifully written works that have made me laugh and cry in equal measure. You seem to have captured...personalities perfectly and I am hugely impressed.
Thank you so much for brightening up a very rainy, Devon weekend. Good luck with your future career, I expect to see you on the best seller list soon.
Much love 

Those sorts of comments, from so many sweet, wonderful readers, made me braver than I would have been.

Keep You is still out there getting its feet wet, but I had some hearsay feedback about it from a third party who I don't know personally, and for which I was grateful. This reader described it as a "beach read", and not "chick lit" or "romance", which, um, yay! She mentioned dialogue and word choice, and all the little details that make me a very happy nerd.

I can only hope the feedback keeps trickling in a little at a time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brain Drain

Fighting the drain is the most difficult part of writing for me. It occurs at intervals throughout the process, but is always the worst as the end of a project draws near. In years past, it was frightening to deal with moments when the words just stopped coming, but I've learned that, eventually, they'll return and all will be right with the world again.

Lots of writers talk about finding ways to stay motivated, and for me, I have to stay motivated with one story, one set of characters, in particular. I'm pretty manic about writing, so I always know I'll finish - it's more a case of finishing well.

What works for me:

Yeah, I wish I could say I started every day with some sort of revitalizing nectar of some kind, but that wouldn't be fair to Coke. I don't want to hurt its feelings.

I spend at least an hour every night before bed neck-deep in my iTunes library. My tastes are not genre specific - whatever moves me and gives me something to take away - and I usually have a "soundtrack" for the stories I write that helps me feel plugged into my characters and the things that make them tick.

The Internet is absolutely crushing to creativity. Going for a walk, working down at the barn, anything outdoors where I can snap pictures (and listen to my iPod) is energizing. I'm obsessed with the sky and all sorts of cloud pictures - gives me things to describe when I write.

There's thousands of motivational books and websites out there, and I know they help many, but for me, it starts and ends in my own head. Every time someone says, "oh, you should write about...", well, it could be the best suggestion in the world, but I just can't make my brain cooperate. It's frustrating sometimes, but that's just how it goes.

Speaking of which, I think I need some caffeine...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


It's my favorite month of the year. By the time we get to December and it's downright cold, then I'm ready for spring; but in the beginning, when change begins, there's a certain undercurrent of excitement in those first cool whisperings of fall.

I love the aesthetics of it; October is a writer's dream. The leaf litter and the smell of woodsmoke. The soft dew-drop sound of fog settling in the trees. The colors. Halloween. And everything is damp and melancholy. There's something about coffee, sweaters and scarves that makes a written scene twice as intimate.

It's the perfect month.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Old Friends

I helped my brother with his essay for school this weekend - he's much smarter than I am and in no way NEEDS my help, but he lacks organization - and it got me thinking about something. His poly sci class is discussing The Odyssey and to our mutual amusement, we realized we'd been talking about Odysseus and his adventures, in some form or other, since childhood.

While Mom was showering us with Disney princesses, coloring books and Playskool toys, Dad was counteracting that with epic Greek poetry and books thick as our heads about the Roman deities. When I was four, he let me watch Tales of the Crypt with him (and oh, were there ever nightmares) then it was Star Wars and the black and white monster classics. All those old Sinbad flicks. I've not met anyone else who knows who Ray Harryhausen is, but his work was a given reference between my dad, my brother and me by the time we were elementary age.

As I proofread my brother's essay, I started wondering how much my imagination was influenced by "old friends" like Odysseus. I'm writing romance now, and my dad said I'd "betrayed my genre", but I like to think that the Trojan War and the heros' trip home, the One Ring and the Force, The Valley of Gwanji and The Creature From the Black Lagoon all lent a hand in the formation of my creativity.