ask me (almost) anything

I’m in a million writers’ groups, have served on six nonprofit boards (including the boards of Romance Writers of America and my local RWA chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers), but I’d rather talk about writing.  Or basketball.  Or classic rock.  Or pretty much anything.


At the 2012 RWA conference in Anaheim with Bethany Barber, Brenda Hiatt Barber, and Barbara Samuel.

Q:      Who are some of your favorite authors?
 A:      I have a gazillion good friends who write brilliant books!  In terms of the novels I’ve been reading since the dawn of time, though, I might mention Jane Austen, Meg Cabot, Niki Burnham, Jennifer Crusie, Barbara Samuel, Susan Wiggs, Lynn Kerstan, Beth Pattillo, Jo Beverley, Janet Evanovich, Ann Brashares, Ally Carter, Dan Brown, Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and JK Rowling.  I know I'm missing some faves!  Nonfiction author favorites include Echo Bodine, Michael Bodine, James Van Praagh, Brian Weiss, Eric Maisel, and Anne Lamott.


Q:      What books did you like as a kid?

A:      Anything I could get my hands on that didn’t involve animals!  (Alas, I grew up terrified of animals, thanks to a dachshund that had sharp teeth and a fear of pesky boys.)  My mom bought Nancy Drew for me and Hardy Boys for one of my brothers – and he and I promptly traded!  I loved classics, adventure stories, and science fiction, and I read everything Louisa May Alcott, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jane Austen, and Hermann Hesse ever wrote.  At least, I think so!  Because I was kid number seven (out of eight) in my family, I often read books before I probably should have.  I first read The Catcher in the Rye in fourth grade, then read it again in high school and thought, “So THAT’S what it was about!”


Q:      Did you always want to be a writer?

A:      No, I wanted to do a million different things in my life – and, actually, still do – but they usually involved movement, as opposed to parking my butt in a chair for long stretches at a time.  Parking my butt in a chair will always drive me crazy!  But I always loved books and reading (along with playing sports and building forts in the woods!), wrote a bit for the school newspaper in junior high, and in high school I wrote a lot of poetry and was co-editor of the yearbook.  I still wrote poetry in college, but I started writing fiction only after I’d been practicing law for 15 years.  I wanted to try writing something other than a merger agreement – but, just to be clear, my merger agreements were TOTALLY hot.


Q:      How do you write your stories?

A:      With much laughter and gnashing of teeth.  I write first drafts on my AlphaSmart, a keyboard that’s light and unbreakable and easy to take anywhere, even to the beach. I typically write at a neighborhood ice cream parlor called Sebastian Joe’s, which has triple-berry scones to die for, a cozy fire in the winter, and just enough activity to keep my creative juices flowing. When it’s revision time, I hole up in my office on the third floor of our house in complete silence (no music, no nothing) and do revisions on my PC. I’d rather hang out at Sebastian Joe’s, so it propels me to finish my revisions sooner rather than later!


Q:      Do you plot out your books?

A:      Inconceivable!  I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer and don’t usually do anything resembling an outline or even character sketches before writing. When I start, I know the title of the book, the names of the main two (or more) characters, and the basic conflict that propels the story. I don’t know much else, including the ending. In the first few chapters, I let the characters “blather” all over the page, describing themselves to me more than to the reader, so I can get to know them. I delete most of the blather during revisions (I hope!), but it’s a huge help to see it on the page.


Q:      Who would be the perfect hero of one of your books?

A:      BESIDES Hugh Jackman?  Okay, okay, if it’s a YA book, Zac Efron or Channing Tatum or Chris Hemsworth.  Hugh might be a bit old for teenage girls – even if some of them might disagree!


Q:      What are your favorite sports?

A:      Basketball!  Followed by every other sport except running.  (Because life is too short to run.)  Besides basketball, I spend most of my sportsy hours on rollerblading, downhill skiing, waterskiing, hiking, softball, walking, golf, and tennis – unless I’m lured to play a different sport, and I’m easily lured.  I get many of my injuries, though, dancing.


Q:      Favorite bands and/or musicians?

A:      I love classic rock!  My absolute faves are the Eagles, Juanes, and Rodney Crowell.  (Which is hilarious, really, because I wouldn't call any of them classic rock, although the Eagles come the closest.)  Some other loves, in random order: the Beatles, Bob Seger, Van Morrison, Elton John, Selena, and Marshall Tucker.  I thank my mom for Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday.  I thank my kidlets and the YA books I write for Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Pink, and, yes, even the Beastie Boys.  

Q:      What’s your next adventure?

A:      In 2016, my family hiked the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu.  Huge adventure, much of it painful.  I hiked part of the Camino de Santiago Compostela in northern Spain in 2010 with a group of 12 cool women, and I hoped to go back and hike the whole 500-mile Camino in 2017, but my knee objected fiercely, so I'm not sure what's next.  Lately I've reengaged with guitar and joined a rock band and have now survived three gigs (so far).  I’d love to take up fencing but have no idea how to fit it into my life.  And work on my French and Italian.  (I’m fluent in Spanish and am REALLY good at ordering crêpes in French.)  So much to do, so little time!

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