dodlipsticklogo81. Give us your “elevator speech” about your latest novel, Snow Shadows.
Oh, lord, this is always so hard for me, but here goes…Average, ordinary Betty Sue Corn goes to Eternity Mountain after being suspended from her job. While there, she meets Marcus Tassel, a man who’s anything but ordinary. She’s smitten, but Marc does his best to resist her advances. He’s a shape shifter with psychic powers and he’s been having visions about her for a long time, visions that always end with his death. Betty Sue isn’t willing to let him get away just because of a dream that may or may not come true. She wants her happily-ever-after and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get it, even risk her own life.
2. How did you end up in the North Carolina mountains?
I’m originally from East Tennessee but spent quite a bit time in the North Carolina mountains as a child because my dad’s family is from this area. In 1999, my husband and I moved from Knoxville to Maine where we lived for almost 8 years. When we decided to move back to the South to be closer to our families, we settled on western North Carolina because I always loved it here and as a child, that’s where I wanted to live. So he concentrated his job search in the Asheville area and we moved into an apartment in Arden while we looked for a house. Asheville, like Knoxville, was a little too “big city” for us and my dad suggested we look in Hendersonville. We did and ended up finding the perfect house for us.
3. Tell us about your experience with e-books.cyn
When I finished my first “grown-up” novel, a sensual romantic suspense, I sent it to my sister who read it and urged me to submit it. Being something of an introvert, I resisted until she suggested I try some of the e-publishers that were popping up on the Internet back then. I submitted Death by Indifference to five e-publishers and got offers from two of them, the first from a company just starting up and the other from the prime of the e-publishing world at the time. I decided to go with the new one, StarDust Press, thinking I could grow with them. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it and closed their doors less than a year after my book came out. They were, luckily for me, very professional about the closing, letting the authors know as soon as they could and sending out rights reversion letters for each of the works they’d contracted for—I had signed another contract with them for my first paranormal romance, Snow Shadows, shortly after my romantic suspense was released.  When I got the rights to my work back, I submitted the paranormal to a small press, L&L Dreamspell, it was accepted and released in both print and ebook last September.
During that time, I had also entered a novella, Unwilling Angel, in a writing contest with another new e-publisher. I won the contest but by the time my book was released, it was obvious there were problems and they weren’t going to make it. Unlike my first publisher, this one wasn’t very professional about closing their doors. It took a while, but I did finally get my rights to the book back and once I had that, I submitted it to another e-publisher, Red Rose Publishing. It was accepted and re-released this past December.
So, I’ve had my share of successes with e-publishers and a few failures too. If someone asked, I would still recommend going with e-publishing if, and this is a huge if, the author carefully researches them first and looks for the red flags that usually indicate problems. Read everything you can find about the publisher and the owner(s), email a few of their authors to ask how they feel about the publisher, and most important, pay attention to all the author warning sites and blogs out there.
4. When’s your best writing time of day and year and why?
I don’t have a best time of year, but the time of day that works best for me is late morning to early afternoon, after I’ve been sufficiently caffeinated for the day. Oh, and it helps if the sun’s shining too—rainy days bring out my lazy side.
5. How did you get started writing?
I’ve always wanted to write but never was quite serious enough about it to sit down and write an actual book. When I finally did get serious, I wrote mainly poetry and books for younger audiences, but I never thought any of them were good enough to actually get published so I just left them on my computer and played around with them every once in a while. Then in 2005, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and that was the kick in the pants I needed to finally make me take writing seriously. Well, that and my sister, Christy, who was my lifeline during that time. Like most people who are diagnosed with MS, I went through a period of depression and Christy told me to sit down and write about what I was feeling. I wrote a lot of poetry during that time and then one day while I was waiting to see my neurologist I found a quote from Anais Nin in a magazine, “I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live.” So, long story short—I know, I know, too late for that!—I sat down at the computer and took Christy’s and Ms. Nin’s advice, I wrote about a character who was dissatisfied with her life and I created a world in which she and I both could live. I ended up with my first romantic suspense novel, a slew of not-very-good poems, and thanks to my dad, who sent me a book about Cherokee history, an idea for my first paranormal romance series. And if you’ll pardon the cliché, the rest is history.
6. What’s your favorite southern word or phrase?
I actually wrote a blog entry about this a while back while I was doing research on southern sayings because my sister and I are writing a book about our great-aunt’s life growing up here in the North Carolina mountains. I have a lot of favorites, but the one I like the best is, “That girl’s just naturally horizontal.”
7. Of the minor characters you’ve created, who’s your favorite and why?
Oooh, tough question! It changes with each book, so right now I’d have to go with Candice Corn, the sister of the heroine in Storm Shadows, the book I just finished. Candice is the direct opposite of the heroine, Betty Sue, and is, as my favorite southern saying goes, naturally horizontal. I’m having a lot of fun with the differences in the two sisters and Candice, needless to say, causes problems for Betty Sue in the book, but she does the right thing in the end.
8. Other than writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love to garden and am so happy that my husband and I finally found a house with a big backyard so I can have a vegetable garden and multiple flower gardens this year. I like to can the vegetables I grow and make jams and jellies when the local fruits come into season. I’m really looking forward to apple season this year! I knit, crochet, do counted cross-stitch, and have even tried my hand at quilting. And of course, being a writer, I love to read; mostly fiction, but recently I’ve found myself doing a lot of non-fiction reading for research, and surprisingly enough, I’m enjoying it. Other than that, I’m an avid baseball fan and boy, do I miss living in Maine during the season. There always seemed to be a Red Sox game on NESN, and since the Red Sox are my team of choice, I loved being able to watch their games.
9. Does music play a part in your life? If you were Karaoke Queen, what song would you sing?
Oh, definitely, music is a big part of my life…except when I’m writing. If there’s music playing while I’m writing, I find myself getting lost in the song, singing along, or sometimes even typing the words to whatever’s playing at the time. If I were Karaoke Queen—and believe me no one wants that to happen because I’m the worst singer ever!—the song I would choose to sing would change depending on the day because my favorite song changes from day to day, as does my favorite artist. But I have to say, it would probably be something by John Mellencamp or maybe Bob Seger. Then again, I could go with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers or Van Morrison or early Elton John. Anything, as long as it’s not country!
10. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I’m a homebody so I’m not much into traveling, but I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland…or maybe Italy…or maybe Alaska…or maybe I could just stay right here at home and read a book about those places.
11. Is there anything you struggle with when you’re writing?
Head-hopping, I have a really bad tendency to switch POVs numerous times in one scene. That’s a big no-no for authors—or it is for newer authors. I’ve seen some of the better known authors do it and get away with it, but if you’re just starting out, like I am, you have to mind your p’s and q’s. Plus, the authors who do that successfully are much more skilled than I am. Hopefully, I’ll reach that point one day and be able to seamlessly switch POVs within a scene without jerking the reader out of the story.
12. What is the hardest part of writing your books?
I don’t know why, but I always hit a slump when I get to the middle of the story. The beginning usually flows really fast for me then at the mid-point, it slows down. Once I work my way through the middle, everything picks up and starts to flow again. Wish I could figure out why that happens so I could fix it!