Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
Anywhere by the ocean! I’m the best version of myself at the beach. I’m a West Coast transplant—I traded southern California beaches for boating on the Chesapeake Bay. J
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Parenting! My four kids keep me very busy. Otherwise, my perfect day would be spent reading at the beach or seeing live music (a concert or musical).
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
To find your unique voice and figure out how to amplify it.
I also read somewhere that the first and last lines of every chapter should grab the reader and not let them go. I focus hard on these beginnings and endings, whether that means writing something surprising, cliffhanger-y, laugh out loud funny, or emotionally resonant. My goal is to make it impossible to put the book down and for readers to keep saying to themselves, “Just one more page!”
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
The twenty years of industry experience! I have an entrepreneurial background, and while aspects of entrepreneurship can be rewarding, it often means finding your way in the dark and making every mistake under the sun. There’s a huge amount of relief in surrounding myself with experts who know the industry inside and out and can lead me through the (many) daunting steps of the publishing process.
Also, writing is a very solitary pursuit; the value of having a team to cheer me on and enthusiastically champion my work cannot be overstated.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Have patience and keep the faith (easier said than done, I know). It is a long, heart wrenching process that tests even the most confident and optimistic among us. When I sent out my queries, I was thrilled to receive a rush of positive responses and requests for full manuscripts—and then heard very little for several months. I recommend staying busy during this time by starting a new project. Shifting your focus to something completely different will take the pressure off and prevent you from obsessing over the perception that you’re wasting time.
Additionally, during this waiting period I put equal energy into researching the alternative route of self-publishing. Knowing I had another strategy to get my story in front of readers gave me back the sense of control I don’t have during the traditional querying and publishing process.
Even though I ended up with my dream agent—a rare and fortunate outcome I do not take for granted—I firmly believe authors should leave themselves open to as many pathways to success as possible.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I write every day, whenever and wherever I can! With four young children, I’m not at a place in my life where I can have very structured writing time (I always laugh when I read about writers hitting certain word counts every day—maybe someday!) I’ve learned that my best work comes between the hours of 10 and 3, and I do my longest stretch of writing while my toddler naps mid-day, but I also write when I’m on the elliptical at the gym in the morning, on my iPhone while I’m waiting at carpool pickup, and on the sidelines at my kids’ sports practices.
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
Frankly, I don’t have the luxury of waiting until I feel inspired—if I have a few minutes to sneak away and write, I have to dive in before my kids find me and interrupt me! My biggest challenge is that I must have complete and total silence to write. That means no music, no TV, no voices or piano practicing in the background. Because I live in a house of six people—including four very noisy children—I’ve had to embrace the fact that at this stage in my life, I will not be able to write as fast as I’d like, and that’s okay. (In the meantime, I’ll keep dreaming about building a soundproof room.)
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
When I decided to write a book, I set an ambitious goal: I wanted to write something a reader loved so much, they’d want to reread it. When I analyzed which books I’ve gone back to reread, I realized they were all romances. There’s just something about that giddy, stomach-twisting, warm & fuzzy feeling you get from reading a romance that you don’t get with any other genre.
What is the hardest part about writing romantic comedy?
Where do I start?
For romance in general, I think the challenge is to write a compelling story that will keep readers on the edge of their seat—even when they know it will end in a happily ever after.
In particular, one of the challenges in writing romantic comedy is getting the right balance of romance to comedy. If you bring too much humor into a serious scene, it can detract from the emotion the reader is feeling. On the flip side, a well-placed moment of comic relief in can provide some much-needed levity. It’s a fine line to walk, and recognizing what each scene needs is a skill I’ll probably always be honing.
Do you get inspiration from any TV shows or movies? If so, which ones?
Absolutely! My favorite film genre is (unsurprisingly) romantic comedies—I can watch and rewatch them a million times and never get tired of them. I’m a sucker for smart protagonists and rapid-fire banter—and give me allll the angst. Make me earn that HEA!
Some of my favorites: You’ve Got Mail, Sweet Home Alabama, Notting Hill, Something’s Gotta Give, When Harry Met Sally (basically anything by Nancy Meyers or Nora Ephron), The Notebook, Ten Things I Hate About You, How to Lose a Guy In Ten Days. More recently I’ve loved Set It Up and Always Be My Maybe.
Growing up I was obsessed with the TV show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (it may have had something to do with Dean Cain). I rewatched it a couple of years ago and I still think it’s the most romantic show I’ve ever seen.
What genres do you write? Read?
I read all genres from romance to suspense to biographies, though I’ve noticed since I started writing romance that my desire to read dark, gory thrillers has really waned. That HEA feeling is addictive!
Plotter or pantster?
I’m about 30% plotter and 70% pantser (though I’d like this to be more even). I start with a basic outline, an understanding of the main conflict and character arcs, and a few major events and turning points. As I write, I will fill that outline in a little more as ideas come to me, but for the most part, I just sit down to write and see what comes out. In a sense, I’m getting to know my characters the same way readers do—chapter by chapter.
Day or Night writer?
Both, but what I’ve realized is my daytime writing is better and needs much less editing and revising than my night writing. As such, at night I like to reread what I’ve written that day, focusing less on new content and more on punching up what’s already on the page, rearranging clunky sentences, etc.