When and why did you begin writing?
I realized that I was fascinated with books when I was eight. I was walking in my school library, and I saw a book that was written by a boy my age. After looking closely at his work, I was inspired to try and create my own story. I started by creating picture books and comics, and later on, I wrote screenplays and for newspapers. It took a while for me to realize that my true calling was writing novellas and novels.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer in 2015. It was around this time that my spouse encouraged me to pursue writing full-time, and I was given the opportunity to craft several pieces that year, eventually jumping into publishing.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
When I was younger, there weren’t that many lesbian fiction novels to choose from. In fact, when I went to the store to find them, I would encounter a large amount of nonfiction books about coming out and the history of LGBT people in the United States. Nevertheless, I just wanted to read something adventurous where the main characters were lesbian. Since there were very few novels of this kind to choose from, I decided to write my own.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
I think that a lot of people that don’t read this type of fiction think that it focuses around erotica, but the truth is that though there are sometimes romance scenes, most of the stories out today focus on action, adventure, or just the basic interactions that the character has while presented with a barrier. Lesbian fiction isn’t much different from regular fiction. Nowadays, most of the authors are just fantastic people that are telling an interesting story.
What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre that they need to know?
I think that people that do not read this type of fiction are missing out. There are several great authors in this field, and some of the books that I have read are hard to put down. I think that if those that do not normally read this type of fiction were to expand their readership, then they would encounter a whole world full of books that they did not know existed.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
I am a full-time writer, but I am also a full-time mother, so time constraints are a very real thing to me. I think that this affects my writing in the fact that I have to make decisions about what I can and cannot get done in a day, and since I write, edit, create my own cover designs, market, and advertise my own work, along with running my Website and promotions, it might take me a little longer to get what I want to accomplish done.
What are some day jobs you have held?
I have held several day jobs. I have worked in freelance journalism, interned at a law firm, and worked in retail. I think that everyone has these steppingstones as they are formulating their career, and in a way, it helps when developing stories later on.
Do you have a special time to write, or how is your day structured to accommodate your writing?
I have two hours to write a day. I try to schedule this around my other responsibilities.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think that I have evolved a great deal in my writing over the last five years. I feel like a big part of that is due to the experiences that I have had and my own personal growth.
What have you written so far?
I have written: Progress, Sleeping on Couches, Sequestered, Intermission, Running Its Course, Academia, Vindicated, Cloak and Dagger, Compassionate Minds, Food Truck Baby, Starting Again, The Flood Between Us, In Step, The Heart of the Rodeo, Don’t Tell Me Twice, A Second Chance, To the Beat of Their Own Drum, Finding a Voice, A Fan to Remember, Aspiring Affection, A Stepping Stone, A Brief Debacle, A Bit of a Pickle, and A Catnip Conundrum. I have also written Sentiment to the Heart, Trusting Heart, and Heart’s Content, which are all part of the Avery Detective Agency Series, and my latest addition to this series is Complicated Heart, which hits shelves October 30th.
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
There are times that I write outlines, and I do this, because sometimes, I will have a scene completely thought through. However, that scene may be in the middle of the book, so in order to write out that scene, I have to keep track of what came before it and what will come after.
What are some ways in which you promote your work?
My best method for promoting my books is to use several websites at a time. There are many groups of people out there that will not know who you are or about your books if you are always advertising on the same Website, so in order to expand, I seek out sites that are new to me and I attempt to get my work into the hands of those that may not have had a chance to read it.
Did you make any marketing mistakes that you would avoid in the future?
I think that I made a lot of missteps with social media at first. I didn’t have access to the Internet until I was sixteen, so I never really got into socializing online. The only Website that I really knew anything about was Facebook, and even then, I didn’t know too much about that. Therefore, I think that if I would have educated myself earlier on the importance of this type of marketing, it would have helped me earlier in my career.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
The best advice that I have heard is to do something that you love and to try and inspire good in people by doing it. I think that this is very important advice, and as I get further into my career, I have been working more towards pieces that are somewhat inspirational. I think that a lot of my earlier work was a bit more personal to me and the situations that I had gone through at that time, but now that I have been writing for a while, I am working towards bettering my writing habits and attempting to lift people up with my newer stories. It is important to empower yourself, but it is also important to empower others.
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
My latest book is called Complicated Heart. This is the fourth edition in the Avery Detective Agency Series, a series that was first inspired by my grandfather. I decided to write a fourth installment because several readers had contacted me requesting this addition, and since I love mysteries, the writing process flowed naturally.
Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
My favorite character would either be Blake in The Heart of the Rodeo or Parker in The Avery Detective Series. I like both of these characters because they were somewhat inspired by my wife.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I think that the most difficult thing about writing my newest book was trying to make it as good as the others in the series. Sometimes, when you write sequels, you wonder how they will compare.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I liked being able to expand Parker and Kay’s life. Sometimes, I read novels where the characters are in the same place in their life the whole time, and that isn’t realistic, so I enjoyed creating a broader future for these two.
What is your next project?
I am slowly working on a new novel, but since I am just stepping into this new book, I don’t have too many details to reveal except that it is a heartwarming tale and more of a comedic-drama.
What role does research play in your writing?
I do a lot of research if I have to write about a topic that I don’t know a lot about. I enjoy reading and learning about new things though, so it’s a win-win.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writer’s block is always a challenge, but I have found that taking small breaks here and there helps with that situation.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I think that in some respects, T.B. Markinson has been a great mentor for a lot of people in the lesbian fiction field. She has listed reviewers on her Website to encourage authors to get opinions on their work. She has also held several sales to help smaller authors get their work out there.
What do you do to get book reviews?
I try to get my work into the hands of as many people as I can. I don’t limit myself to those that are known to read lesbian fiction as a lot of my work is focused more on the plot than the character’s sexual identity. By doing this, I have been able to gain a larger following of new readers.
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
I think in the more recent years, I have been highly successful in this aspect. When I first began this career, I did not know how important reviews were and I didn’t do anything to seek them out. However, at that time, I was still learning how to market my work. Therefore, as the years have gone by, I have worked harder to get more feedback, and I think that in doing that, I have progressed in my writing.
What do you like to read in your free time?
It’s been a really busy year, so I haven’t had as much downtime as I would have liked. However, it is a goal to finish the Pink Bean Series by Harper Bliss, and I am also in the middle of two other novels, one by Miranda McLeod and another by J.A. Armstrong.
If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?
I would try and make things more peaceful. There is a lot of division in the world today, and I think that if people opened their eyes a bit more and tried to understand each other, then things might be better for all.
Who or what inspires your writing?
The people that I have met in my life and the situations that I have gone through inspire my writing. I like to write fiction that is based on some sort of truth. For instance, the book, The Flood Between Us, was written after a flood devastated the cities around me.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
Early on, I was influenced by Jane Austen and later by Julie Ann Peters. As I got older, novels by Radclyffe began to hit the Barnes & Noble shelf, and at that time, there were only a few lesbian fiction authors. After reading several of her works and exploring that of Gabrielle Goldsby and Gerri Hill, I decided that it was time for me to try and tell my own stories.
What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?
I have learned to keep writing. Not everyone is going to like your writing, and that is okay. That’s why there are so many authors in this world to choose from, but there will be people that contact you and tell you how inspiring your story was to them. Those people make it worth it.
What is one thing you hate about being a writer?
I can not say that there is anything that I hate about being a writing, but sometimes, I do get frustrated if I think that I won’t meet the deadlines that I set for myself.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Ideally, I would want to work in disaster recovery and public service. I have gotten the chance to work in soup kitchens and help with the building of houses through programs like Habitat for Humanity, and I really enjoy contributing to this type of work.