1. What books/authors inspire you the most?
I adore Katherine Paterson. Most readers know her from reading A BRIDGE to TEREBITHIA in grade school, but many of her novels are perfect for YA readers--JACOB HAVE I LOVED, OF NIGHTINGALES THAT WEEP (picture above [put there on accident]), LYDDIE, and more. And she's also written books and articles on writing--for writers. You can find some of my favorite Katherine quotes in "From Faith to Fiction" on my liv2writ blog.
2. Besides scuba diving, what other interesting activities do you like to do in your free time?
Eat, sleep, watch Fox News and TCM movies. Oh, you said, "Interesting?" I devour books and am passionate about writing historical fiction. My favorite way to research is traveling to the places and visiting actual sites--especially living history museums. I've been in coal mines in Scotland, Nova Scotia, and Pennsylvania. As I write this, I'm on a plane bound for Scotland's Highlands and Western Isles. What can I say? I'm a geek to the core.
3. What is your favorite age group to hang out with? To write for?
I've visited almost 50 high schools, junior highs, and elementary schools since TAKEN BY STORM's release last year. I have absolutely the best time with 14-15 year olds--9th and 10th grade in the U.S. system. After after I spoke to an advanced senior English class, the librarian warned me the next group were 9th graders and would present more of a challenge. I laughed and said, "That's my sweet spot!" I love to write YA. I floundered trying to write for younger readers. (It was all way too tragic and the villains ended up super hot!). I'm home with romantic journeys that explore the path each character takes to come of age.
4. How many goals have you accomplished in your lifetime?
Hmmm. I got married, raised a family, got my degree in English and a graduate degree in Writing for Children and Young Adults, wrote a book and finally sold it. I even managed to snag an agent. Now my goals are to keep writing, keep publishing, and share my books and craft as much as I can. I'd love to see them translated into Portuguese and published in Brazil. Oh, and get a new agent.
5. About how long does it take you to write a novel?
That depends on how long I've been thinking about the story, if I know where it's going, if it will take a lot of research, if my husband is traveling a lot for business, and--most important--if I have a deadline looming.
TAKEN BY STORM was my first book. I worked on it, along with other projects, for two years when I studied for my master's degree. It became my creative thesis. I revised and marketed the manuscript for three and a half years before I sold it. After I signed with Penguin, I had several more months of intense revision under my editor's guidance.
SING ME TO SLEEP is my fourth book. I wrote two unpublished novels while I was trying to sell STORM--MY ONLY LOVE, a tragic YA romance set in 19th century coals mines in all those places I visited, and SLIPPED, an action-packed time travel romance between a Bronte-esque heroine and a rogue time agent from a post-nuclear winter future--think Jane Eyre meets the terminator--all set in the MIddle Ages.
I wrote SING under contract with a deadline. I had to formulate and outline for the story and get the publisher's go ahead before I started writing. I wrote the entire first draft in ONE month. My hands were stiff and aching from writing so much. I spent two more months researching, getting critiques and revising. My editor only asked for a few changes and additions and gave me just a few weeks to complete them. Talk about intense.
6. Can you tell us about some of your upcoming novels?
My next release, UNBROKEN CONNECTION, is the sequel to TAKEN BY STORM. Michael is in Thailand living his dream. Leesie is at BYU living hers. But they just can't leave each other alone. It comes out next month--August 2010--from TOP SHELF BOOKS. The e-book will release first. A paperback edition will follow soon after. Watch my website and FB page for updates.
This fall I plan to write the third novel in Michael and Leesie's saga, CAYMAN SUMMER. As I write the chapters, I'm going to post them on a blog, so readers can comment and critique. I LOVE my blog reviewers. I think they will all make great editors, too. We plan to publish CAYMAN SUMMER early in 2011.
7. Who is your favorite out of your kids? LOL
Yikes. Are you trying to get me into big trouble? I can tell you, though, that the entire family's favorite these days is Jack, my 18-month old grandson. We ALL dote on him. My son taught him to "Use the force," before he could even walk. When he gets his Yoda-face on and points his hand at you, you better be ready to fly across the room and land in a heap or else.
8. Which place do you like living at the most?
I love Arizona! It never snows and the Sonoran desert is a vibrant, gorgeous place--not a sandy wasteland. And where else do you have bobcats hanging out on your front porch? I love the mesquite trees, palo verdes, and giant saguaros hundreds of years old. But I do miss how beautiful Switzerland was and how kind the people there were, the Amabile choir family in London, Ontario, Canada, and the rolling wheat fields in Eastern Washington where I grew up. I guess that's why I've gone back to all of these places in my novels. I haven't managed to fit Singapore into a novel yet, but I did use places in Asia that we visited when we lived there--Thailand and Hong Kong--in UNBROKEN CONNECTION.
9. How old were you when you published your first book?
Pretty old. TAKEN BY STORM came out in 2009. I was already a grandmother by then (a young grandma--but still a grandma). It just goes to show--if you let yourself fail enough, eventually you'll succeed. Hang on to your dreams, work hard, and remember, "No," isn't the end of the story. It's simply an opportunity to explore a new chapter.
10. Is there anything else you would like to say or have me post?
Only a gigantic thank you, Tasha, for introducing me to your followers in Brazil! I think you would all love my books and hope and pray they will be in your hands sooner than we think.
All my love,