I was born in New Jersey, but I was raised in a small town in upstate New York. Voorheesville was very rural and there wasn’t a lot to do, so I became an avid reader at a young age. Our house was on the outskirts of town. We had a creek in the back yard, and my brother and I used to go wandering up into the mountains to explore. Living there helped fuel my imagination and inspired some of my short stories.
Even as a child, I was always reading and writing stories. So I knew that writing/publishing was in my blood. I never really thought about a career, but I knew I could write, edit, and proofread. Most people thought I’d end up being a librarian, but I’m a copywriter by day and writer by night.
I enjoy traveling, gardening, reading, going to flea markets, hanging out with my husband, and visiting friends. I also like to explore creepy/haunted places.
Growing up in rural NY (in the woods, as I sometimes say) helped me understand small town life, and get a great respect for nature. When I want to tap into the horror side of my imagination, I think about how it was to grow up in an environment where houses were far apart, there were no streetlights, and you could drive into really creepy and desolate areas and not see any people. Most of my short horror fiction takes place in small towns (usually on or around Halloween). Autumn is my favorite season, and Halloween is my favorite holiday!
My latest Amber Quill Press romance is called Four Days with Jack. It’s my thirteenth romance, but my first gay romance. This contemporary story takes place at a tropical resort and explores the budding relationship of two best friends. Here’s the full plot summary and link:
FOUR DAYS WITH JACK
A PERFECT MATCH
Titles are tricky! Sometimes I’ll know the title before I start writing the story. That happened with several titles: Four Days with Jack, Beauty & the Bigfoot, Trust with Hearts, Dalton’s Temptation, and Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover. Other times, I won’t know the title until I’m almost ready to send the book out! Usually I’ll have a few ideas for a title, based on the characters, the setting, or theme, and I take a survey of my writing friends and family to see which one they like best.
So far I haven’t used any contemporary events in my romances. Many of my romances are in the fantasy genre, but I incorporate universal themes into the storylines (love, trust, forgiveness, etc.).
99% of my romances are fantasy. When I get an idea for a story, I start writing an outline and let the characters tell me what happens as the story progresses. Since I’m writing fiction I can make up whatever I want. There are two exceptions, however. When I wrote Beauty & the Bigfoot, I did research on Bigfoot, so I could incorporate the facts into my story. (A main character is an avid Bigfoot hunter, so he had to know everything about the creature.) In A Perfect Match (my wrestling romance) I called upon my own personal experiences and observations to convey what life is like in the world of professional wrestling.
Coming up with ideas for my stories is the fun part of writing. The challenging part is sitting down and doing the work that comes next: the revising, editing, and proofreading of a manuscript. That part of the process isn’t hard, it’s just not creative. You have to turn off the imagination part of your brain and get to work on the technical aspects of writing.
No matter what genre they write, I’d advise new writers to take writing classes (either online or in person) and learn all you can about crafting a story. Telling a story is the main focus of being a writer. You have to be able to think of an idea and write/revise a good story before you can do anything else. Reading “how-to” writing magazines and joining critique groups are also excellent ways to learn techniques and get feedback from readers and/or other writers.
Fortunately I don’t get writer’s block. I have millions of ideas for stories; I just don’t have time to write them all. Sometimes after I finish a book, I’ll take a break from writing for a while and let my mind relax and catch up on my reading. Then, when I’m ready to write something new, I’ll read through my ideas folder and see what inspires me.
This may sound strange coming from a romance author, but Stephen King is my favorite author. I started out reading his short stories (at a young age) and they showed me how to craft a story, use details and descriptions, and give a story a voice. I think his On Writing book is a great way for anyone to get inside the mind of a writer and see how the process unfolds.
In the past, I used to get upset by them – especially if they were nasty or scathing. (I had my share!) Since then, I’ve learned to shrug them off or laugh at them. I’ve gotten rejection letters with typos, ones calling me the wrong name, and the ever popular photocopied form letter rejection. Most of the stories that were rejected over the years have been bought by someone else, so I can look back and say, “Ha! You missed your chance. Someone wanted that story after all.”
Writers need to have a good imagination, excellent observation skills, and the determination and patience to keep writing, even when they get rejected. It’s not easy to finish a novel and get it published, and many would-be writers give up before they even start because “it’s too hard.” I know a lot of people who tell me they want to write a story (or a book) but say that don’t have the time or it takes too long (or it’s too much work). Writers need to have an internal drive to write. They also need to have the self-discipline to sit in a chair and edit a story when they would rather be outside or doing something else.
I let the story and the characters dictate how much detail is enough. My erotic romances all vary in genre and heat level. Some romances (A Midsummer Night’s Delights) are scorching hot and there are a lot of explicit erotic details. Other romances (A Most Unusual Princess, The Dark Lord) are tamer and hint at what’s happening without being too obvious. The heat level and sexual activities in the stories all depend on the characters and the plot. My horror fiction tends to be more psychological/spooky than gory. But if the story calls for some blood or a violent death, I’ll run with it.
My ideas come from everything and everywhere. Most of the time I don’t even try to search out ideas, they find me. The only time I deliberately researched a legend was when I wrote Beauty & the Bigfoot. I needed all sorts of details for the story. I went to the library and took out every Bigfoot book they had. The librarian gave me a strange look and probably was wondering what I was doing!
I love all of my books and all of my characters; they’re like my children. Since I write in different genres, I have favorites in each. In the fantasy genre, I’m particularly fond of my trilogy A Most Unusual Princess, Dalton’s Temptation, The Pauper Prince. In paranormal, Beauty & the Bigfoot (it’s a comedy), and contemporary, it’s a tie between Trust with Hearts and A Perfect Match.