When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve written short stories since I was a young girl, but I became aware of writing longer, more involved stories in my teens. In no way did I ever consider writing for publication. When I was a stay-at-home mom in the late 70s, I read 2-3 historical romance books a week. Somewhere during those years I decided to try my hand at writing the kind of books I read.
How long does it take you to write a book?
If I wasn’t so distracted, I could write two books–85,000 + words each–a year. At present, my limit seems to be one per year.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I don’t seem to have a schedule any longer. I do like to write in the morning, after my first cup of coffee, reading the newspaper and feeding the dogs. With second cup in hand, I check my email then review what I’ve written the day before, after which I begin writing. I’m often there until noon. I get my second wind about 4 o’clock and try to write between making dinner and giving the dogs their second meal of the day.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m not sure I have any. I listen to Italian music when I write an Italian medieval. Is that a quirk? If so, I usually listen to country/western music when I write historical western romances.
When did you write your first book?
That’s a long way to think back. I’d say around 1980. Maybe 1982.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I tend to my gardens, both floral and vegetable. I watch Italian soccer matches. I like to play soccer with one of my Rat Terriers on the front lawn. She’s better than I am, lol.
I have a huge backlog of romances I want to read. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to read. I miss it terribly.
With the holidays approaching, I create silk or dried floral arrangements, make wreathes, bake.
What does your family think of your writing?
They are very supportive and proud, even though they lovingly joke around and say I write smut. My husband actually read one of my books years ago. My three daughters read my books, but they skip over the love scenes. <g>
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
There are rules, lol. The first book I wrote broke every rule that ever existed in writing a romance novel. I even formatted my manuscripts to make the print size and wide margins the same as a book. Yeah, I was extremely naïve. But I honestly thought that when books were submitted, they had to look like a book on the shelf. And I meticulously made sure my manuscripts did. (I realized when I got my first rejection that I was so, so wrong.)
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve been asked this many times, and I usually say at least 20. I’ve been writing nearly 30 years, with several years in which I took a break. I finally took an actual count: 17 historicals and 9 contemporaries. Plus many stories started and abandoned.
I have a few favorite books, but two at the top of my list are REBEL HEART and SURRENDER TO HONOR. In REBEL HEART, I absolutely love the hero Beau Hamilton. He’s crass and practical, and kind-hearted, though he doesn’t want anyone to know he has a heart. This story takes place in 1873, Santa Fe, N.M. Beau’s an ex-gunslinger getting paid to look after a pampered N.Y. woman who inherits a sheep ranch out west. She has no idea her father hired him. When she hires him to protect her sheep and ranch from the bad guys, Beau is caught between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes. Sometimes I felt sorry for Beau. <G>
SURRENDER TO HONOR is a 15th century medieval that takes place in Palermo, Sicily. The hero Antonio and heroine Prima are so opposite. He doesn’t carry weapons, preferring to resolve differences with words, while Prima is a little warrior, mail and all, and an expert with a sword and a bow and arrow. I dedicated this book to my Sicilian mother. She was as tenacious as Prima.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I get some fan mail. Usually the readers comment on how much they love my stories and hero/heroine and that they feel transported to the time and setting of the book. They tell me they can’t wait for my next release.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think this is a two-way street. A good, strong plot will hold the readers attention. If the plot is weak or as holey as Swiss cheese, by the end of the first chapter or two they’ll see right through it.
The characters are equal to the plot in writing a good story. If there is no conflict, no growth, no likeable hero and heroine, no plausible reason for them to have their own story, readers will get bored. For me, strong heroes and heroines are very important. My stories are character-driven.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Johanna Lindsey and Kathleen Woodiwiss. I loved Lindsey’s dialogue. I always thought she was the best at carrying on a story through words. She conveyed so much through what her characters said, be it spoken with sarcasm, breathlessness, excitement. She’s the reason I write dialogue well.
Kathleen Woodiwiss wrote the flowery, flowing stories with larger than life characters and stories that sucked me in and transported me to the story’s era. Her books were beautifully written.
How did you come up with the title?
Coming up with a title for a historical is much easier than one for a contemporary. At least it is for me. Sometimes I use the plot to write the title. Or words in a song. Sayings, something I read. There are quite a few factors that come into play when deciding a title. And I always have to have a title before I can begin writing. Oh, I could have put this one under #4–quirks. LOL
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I’d love to hear from you. Whether or not you like my books, have a suggestion for a sequel…anything you have to say is important to me. And I will respond quickly.
Can you tell us a little about your latest release or upcoming books?
Over the summer I signed 4 contracts for historical romances. The release dates are TBA.
CHARLOTTE AND THE GYPSY (re-release, book 2 of my medieval psychic sister trilogy—The Sisters of Destiny) from The Dark Castle Lords
LOVE’S SWEET WAGER, historical western, from The Wild Rose Press
THE LILY AND THE FALCON Book 1, Italian Medieval Series (first printing in 2000 by Kensington.), from The Wild Rose Press
SURRENDER TO HONOR. Book 2, Italian Medieval Series, from The Wild Rose Press
REBEL HEART, western, from HP
KNIGHT’S DESIRE, medieval short story, from DCL
CARINA AND THE NOBLEMAN (book 1 of my medieval psychic sisters trilogy), from Eternal Press
*Please visit my website to learn more about me and my books.