Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A bad-ass detective turned novelist Darryl Donaghue publishes his first crime-fiction novel, "A Journal of Sin"

When I need inspiration, I don't need to look further than Darryl Donaghue, whose debut Crime Fiction novel "A Journal of Sin" has just been released. I not only look up to him in regards to his discipline and focus (you can read about his ten-point publishing campaign plan on his website www.DarrylDonaghue.com), but also his amazing way with words and his skill to build tension in any scene.  
What's more? Over the past few months, Darryl has been an indispensable resource for my own writing when I needed a reality check on my male FBI heroes. With ten years of detective work under his belt, Darryl knows a thing or two about the realistic ways to blow up a soda can--and hide evidence when the liquid that splashes all around leaves more than just bubbly fluid.

He's got a twisted mind that he uses to create an intricate plot to keep readers on their toes until the very last page; in "A Journal of Sin" he transforms us into the chilling world of an isolated little town with a murderer on the loose. The novice detective Sarah is forced to solve the case on her own, bringing in a very exposed and realistic portrayal of still-inexperienced police force at work. There's something very creepy in that description of what she finds in the murdered priest's home ... and that will just get more disturbing as the novel progresses.

A strong, yet vulnerable heroine working on her own to solve a case? Check. Tricky plot that gets thicker with every page? Check. Beautiful, descriptive prose and dialogue that showcases the complexity of each characters' dilemmas? Unexpected ending? The beginning of a promising career for the new Crime Fiction author? Check, check, and check.  
So you could say I've been more than a little bit excited about his upcoming release. It's finally available on Amazon, waiting to submerge you into its web of lies, crime, and deceit. 
Below is the interview with Darryl Donaghue, written whilst reading "A Journal of Sin".

Q: "A Journal of Sin" is your first published novel, yet you're not a novice when it comes to investigating series crime. Tell us about your transition from a bad-ass detective to a Crime Fiction novelist. 
A: I guess it came down to that single decisive moment. Am I going to write a novel or not? As you can imagine, policing demands long hours and it’s hard to find the time to write. I had some short stories published, both online and in print, but couldn’t develop the momentum required to produce a novel. I’d still be in the same position had I stayed, but here we are ten months later and my first book’s out. That’s not to say it was an easy choice to make. It’s an excellent job and although I miss it, writing is where my heart is. 

Q: Where did the idea for "A Journal of Sin" come from? There're so many crime fiction novels out there, some even written by ex-detectives, yet your work is very fresh and unique.  
A: To me, good crime fiction shines a light on society. When a fictional murderer kills, what they are really doing is asking questions. Questions about the norms and values the deceased represents. With the world disrupted, in come the Detectives to try and restore the status quo and makes sense of it all.  
I wanted to write a book with relevant modern themes. Journal of Sin asks questions about rights to information and privacy in the digital community, and explores these ideas using the metaphor of religious confessional secrets. The parallel of 'Googlisation'  and religion is one worth thinking about. We used to go to oracles for divine knowledge; now we have instant omniscience in our pockets. Human beings have worshipped Gods throughout history and I’m certain one day we’ll look back on Google as being the early 2000’s incarnation.  
A lot of people have described the book as having a fresh, unique take on the genre and I think Sarah herself is mostly responsible for that. I didn’t want to rehash the horribly defunct aging, alcoholic, bitter, ex-army Detective. Those stories have been done very well over the years, in far better ways than I could manage I’m sure. I’m not saying that’s not realistic; I’ve worked with a few that fit snuggly into that category.  
Sarah is a reflection of the modern world. We’re all a little anxious in ways we don’t often admit. Big decisions scare us as we wonder what to do, what people will think and how our choices will affect the people we love. We’re overwhelmed with information from all sides telling us how to live, how to look, what to do and how to do it; most of it so conflicting that it’s no better than having no guide at all. The modern world can be a confusing and frightening place. Sarah helps us make sense of it all with an honesty and vulnerability that can’t be found at the bottom of a bottle. 
Q: What made you decide to write from a woman's perspective? Do you really think you can understand the opposite sex that well? (if you say yes, I'm going to have to speak with your mother.) 
A: She just kind of came out that way. I’ve been told since that it’s notoriously hard for men to write female characters. 
Sarah's received some really positive comments from both editors and some readers. It was one of those real moments of relief. Most things are fixable, but when someone says they don’t like your main character, it puts you right back to square one.  
What I really didn’t want to do was write a male character in a woman’s skin. I think the term ‘strong female character’ has become a little diluted and is in danger of becoming a cliche marketing phrase. We often still interpret ’strong’ in the masculine sense, so we sometimes find ourselves reading about characters called Andrea, but acting like Arnie. I also want to get away from the idea that strength means doing everything alone – The lone wolf Detective or the maverick cop breaking all the rules. There’s room for that, of course, but there’s also a lot of literary space out there to explore what it means to be strong in the modern, everyday world. Working a tough job to do the best for our kids is a strength. Accepting we need help rather than struggling on our own is a strength. Exposing our vulnerabilities when we don’t know whether we’ll receive a hug or humiliating comments is a strength.  
She belongs to the readers now. We all see different things in the character we enjoy spending time with and love them for different reasons.  Your discerning followers will hopefully have plenty of feedback for me on this particular subject.
Q: What was the most difficult scene to write and why? 
A: Good question! I won’t go into too much detail in case people haven’t read it yet (you may need a little spoiler alert here). 
There were two particularly tough scenes. The scene towards the end involving Sarah, Tom and Anne. It’s the culmination of a domestic violence story arc involving an elderly lady. We’ve still got a long way to go with attitudes and how the justice system reacts towards domestic violence. Some elderly people have strongly ingrained, old-fashioned beliefs, about their entitlement to speak and be heard, especially within a marriage. Elderly women especially can suffer based on beliefs society drilled into them at the time about how to be a good wife, how not to complain and the shame of stepping outside of your role. This scene, and you’ll know it when you read it, highlights a particularly dark aspect of a horrible crime that still affects far too many women today.   
The second was Sarah’s phone conversation with her husband about quitting. She’s at her most vulnerable here and I found the healing power of the relationship with her family to be very moving. The contrast between Sarah’s family life and Anne’s warns us about the power and responsibility that comes when somebody loves us – it can be used to rejuvenation or destruction. It took weeks just to get those few paragraphs right.  
Spoiler over! 

Q: What's next? Is there a new story brewing in your brilliant mind? 
A: I’m working on the second book. It picks up a couple of months after Journal of Sin and introduces us to some new permanent characters for the series. I won’t spoil too much here, but I’ll reveal more over the next couple of months. 

Q: Finish the scene. "He wasn't at all sure if his waitress has been the murderer this entire time, but there was only one way to find out . . .” 
The bill was £4.86. If the thick, grey clouds and constant drizzle wasn’t reminder enough that he was back in London, paying £4.86 for a coffee certainly was. He opened his wallet, ignored the five and ten pound notes, and took out his card. He wiped it with a clean napkin before handing it to her.  
‘Sorry. The kids can’t keep their hands off my wallet. It’s best I don’t tell you the kind of places I’ve found that thing.’  
She turned the card around in her hand, inspecting it for any obvious stains it seemed, and swiped it through the machine. She didn’t smile or say a word. It may have just been poor service; the result of hours on her feet pandering to every customer’s whim. Or maybe it was a well-practiced stoic demeanour, employed to suppress any glimmer of guilt that may, if left unchecked, rise to the surface. Silent ones were the hardest. He read the loudmouths with ease and the quiet ones, the quiet ones gave away more with what they didn’t say. But silence and blank expressions left him to rely on assumptions and gut feelings. He needed facts, facts he could pin a case on. 
She held out his card and he wrapped his hand over hers. ‘You know, I’d really like to thank you. I’m new around here and you’ve made me feel so welcome,’ he said. 
She looked perplexed. He was certain his unearned compliment distracted her from noticing him nudge her thumb from the raised numbers onto the smooth surface of his Mastercard. He shook her hand, gently pressing his thumb on top of hers and giving it an almost imperceptible roll from side to side.  
When he let go, she wiped her hand on her black pencil skirt. Probably worried about picking something up from the card, he thought, and not realising what she’d just left behind.  

You can follow Darryl on Twitter or check out his website.
"A Journal of Sin" can be ordered on Amazon

Monday, October 20, 2014

Truth or Dare?

How far do writers go for their book research?

Some authors have a wild imagination. Others go a step further and try some of the crazy stuff their heroes have to go through. What? You haven't tried bungee jumping using a rope made out of spandex tights? How do you expect your protagonist to do it, then?

For my first finished novel, The Day I Became a $py, which is set on Wall Street, I befriended a banker. And he wasn't one of those studious, nerdy types who subsist solely on caffeine (you didn't think the brown magic was for writers only, did you?) and walks around like a zombie, thinking about a new form of derivatives. No, he had his own dark secret. A tattoo. It's a moot point that he used to hide it, and button his shirts all the way even in summers. Everybody knew it was there. He was real bad-ass, and I loved how nicely he'd be later portrayed in a few of my finished novels--he had that many interesting facets. 

Recently, I asked my fellow writers about some of the craziest things they've done for their research. Here are some of the more interesting ones. 

There are writers who type away in the nude (now we know why you're closing your blinds in the middle of a day, ‪Kristal McKerrington), whereas others use 3D programs to reconstruct a scene and visualize how things would unroll (introducing the one and only, Camilla Monk, everyone). 

And don't forget the hardship of it all, checking out sexy firefighters. All for the sake of a novel, of course, as Lyssa Layne will attest. 

Then, there are those who spend twenty minutes staring at Google's pictures of broken fingers to describe it as disgustingly as possible (thanks for the visual, Bobby Johnson) and then enlist their wives to act out fight scenes (Bobby, your wife and I have to have a serious talk). 

And--close your eyes, Facebook police!--those who outright break the social networking laws, creating undercover Facebook accounts and going (perhaps a bit too far) with their 'fake' identities (‪Haydn Grey)

My friend Melissa Huie has done it all. Review by a former FBI and current LEO to make sure her procedures are realistic? Check. Talked to former hookers about their experiences? Check. Going to a strip club? Ahem, check. And no, Melissa, I doubt IRS would accept your research expenses as tax deductible. 

Be careful when you're around writers. You never know how and when they will use you for their musings, villain inspiration, or force you to become a body double in a martial arts scene reenactment. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Psst . . . Can you keep a secret?

Thanks to the world's spy technology, the little-known software program--the one that has been secretly used by the best-selling authors--has been discovered, and soon it's going to be available to the masses. 


Doesn't it sound cool?

Well, it is.

It's a shrink and a cheerleader in one sleek electronic package. 

It corrects your grammar--with none of those annoying iPhone corrections that turn your 'boss your chops' into 'butt your chips'. It points out your overuse of adverbs and adjectives. It fixes your punctuation and highlights multiple occurrences of the same word in the entire novel.

But that's not all. Attawriter is the first and only product on the market that can point out the places in a manuscripts where you're telling, not showing. It utilizes special Nasa-developed technology that uses the combination of counters of your descriptors and nouns to accurately predict problem areas.

It even spots plot holes. Don't believe me? It highlighted the seventeenth dead guy on page 158 of my manuscript who was supposed to be hiding in an attic.

I once had a character look at herself in the mirror to describe her 'brilliant, clear blue eyes', and guess what? Attawriter was there to bring my attention to my rookie mistake.

It's gentle yet persistent in its criticism. It always starts with "you're a brilliant, one-of-a-kind writer who has never yet lived on earth" and even suggests you get another cup of coffee when you've been typing nonstop for more than an hour. 

It's integrated with Siri and sings "You Are the Champion" whenever you type "The End" or "Epilogue". It even converts your multiple exclamation points into smiley faces--because by then you're surely way too tired and need a little boost.

In other words, Attawriter is every writer's dream. It's better than your spouse, best friend, or your high-school English teacher.

It's the way of the future, and you can't afford to stay behind.

To sign up for the release of Attawriter, follow my blog.

Remember, if you're not on the Attawriter train, you're going to be left behind.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Too Good to be True?

I admit it. I love having fun with my characters. They tend to get into lots of predicaments. I throw them into extreme situations--spandex-assisted bungee jumping, cake brides, waitressing job at a mobster home, lingerie murder case.

Oh, but it's not realistic. Right? There's no way it would happen in real life.


Well, I had an egg sandwich for breakfast. Would you like me to write a novel about making it?

Of course, things are a bit exaggerated in a novel. Heroine lands her dream job, which turns out to be a plot to incriminate the FED, then she instantly falls in love with a charming jerk, who also happens to be investigating the said case. Wanna try that in real life after eating your egg sandwich?

Everything is fair game in fiction--except boring, prolonged chapters where nothing fun or interesting happens. There's nothing like wordy, too-scientific or too-smart paragraphs to turn off readers and make them shut down their iReader in frustration.

Fiction is not real life. Readers want entertainment--whether intense, heart-stopping, can't-wait-to-learn-what-happens-next intrigue, or toes-curling, sensual game. While readers do want to identify with the characters, beware of a hero who comes off as too good to be true--unless he turns out to be a villain at the end.

Have fun writing, and your readers will love reading your stories.

What does it take to be a beta reader

Beta What?

A beta is the first reader who gets to read a writer's finished novel before it is published. A good beta will point out any plot inconsistencies or gaps, comment on character development, tell an author if a certain part of a novel drags on for too long, if an ending feels rushed.

A Beta is Not a Reviewer

There's a major difference between the two. Reviewers get the final version of the novel after it's published and their job is to give their perspective about the novel to potential readers.

A beta helps improve the novel before it is published.

A beta reader does not need to be gentle or worry too much about hurting a writer's feelings by pointing out things that don't work. Although gentle feedback is always preferred over harsher pointed remarks, as long as beta's criticism is constructive (showing the scenes that have issues and specific examples), writers welcome that kind of feedback.

Truly, the last thing the writer needs to hear from a beta reader is that his or her novel is "amazing", has no plot holes, or is the next best seller, when a beta reader is, in fact, just trying to be nice. Sure, bring on the praise when the novel is worth is, but the truth is, everybody's work needs some sort of  improvement, and writers are fully aware of that; otherwise they wouldn't be asking for beta readers' feedback.

So what the heck do I need beta readers for?

Every beta reader is unique and will be able to see different issues with a novel.

Writers take every beta reader's feedback seriously.

We appreciate the time beta readers take to thoughtfully review the novel, and we will probably include all of our beta readers names in the Acknowledgements section when a novel is published.

Without beta readers, our novels wouldn't be as polished or complete.

We trust our beta readers' feedback more than our spouses'.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Character Interview: Love is a Fire by Lyssa Layne

Have you read Lyssa Layne's "Love is a Fire" yet? Do you like sexy firefighters? Today I'm hanging out with one of the main characters, Nick Garrity, a love interest of Katy, in the novel. He's competent, handsome, and thinks he can handle the tough questions.

Here's my review of the novel and the link to Amazon.

Nick walks in wearing his snug FDNY shirt showcasing his muscular physique. Flashing a lopsided smile, he shakes your hand*

Hi Katerina, you look beautiful today. Thanks for meeting with me. 

What made you fall in love with Katy so quickly? You’ve proposed to her after only a few months of dating. How did you know she was the right woman for you?
*Nick's smile gets bigger at the mention of Katy*
Katy is unlike any other woman I've ever met. I could tell from the way she spoke to Doyle that she was loving and kind. She'll kill me for saying this but I knew right then that she'd be the mother of my kids. Once we actually talked and I looked into her eyes, I knew she was the future Mrs. Garrity. It sounds cheesy but once she walked into my life, I couldn't imagine her not being in it. We also have a lot in common with our work ethic, being health nuts, our love of Bob Marley, and I swear one day I'll beat her at Scrabble. But when she selflessly took time out of her life to take care of my mother, who she just met...*he tears up but quickly shakes it off* ...it confirmed that she was the one. 

You’ve lost your temper a few times. What makes you lose it and what are some of the things you’d never forgive?
It's not something I'm proud of and honestly, I usually can keep it under control but love makes you crazy, right? I'm not going to stand by and let someone talk negatively about my Katy or anyone in my family. If you hurt someone I love, you can guarantee you won't be forgiven.

What are some of your qualities that Katy loves, in your opinion?
Do my good looks count? *He laughs and shakes his head* Katy loves that I'm a family guy. She had a completely different family growing up than I did so she appreciates how close we are. She also thinks I am a pretty good kisser. *Nick gives a wink and a laugh*

What’s the deal with Jeremiah? Can a woman really be friends with her ex?
If only I knew the answer to this, life would be easier, wouldn't it? Honestly though, I can't blame Jeremiah for loving Katy. She has a captive personality that makes youwant to love her. I can't imagine what it's like for him to be with her so long and then see her married to someone else now, it's gotta be tough. 

Can they still be friends? I hope so. The two of them have been through a lot, he was there for her during hard times which I'm grateful for because I would never want Katy to be hurting alone. He understands her in a way I don't so yeah, I hope they can be friends and hell, maybe he can teach me a thing or two about her.

Knowing the dangers of your job as a firefighter, why do you want your son to follow in your footsteps?
You can't look at the job and think about the dangers. It's about helping others who can't help themselves. If something happened to my family, I would want someone to help them. Katy does the same thing just in a different job. I think that's another reason we click so well, we understand its our job to take care of others.

When I was a kid, my brother and I always looked at our dad in "hero glasses." We'd see him run into a burning building and think he could do anything, he was indestructible but it goes beyond the job. I remember my dad's crew coming over for BBQs, being in the stands at my football games, helping my brother and I with homework when my dad was working. My mom always had help and we had great role models when our dad wasn't around. I hope one day my son will see me in the same way and want to join the FDNY family.
If you knew Katy would end up with your best friend, how would that make you feel? Would you beat the crap out of him or would you find it in yourself to be happy for them?
*Nick laughs* Have you met Jesse? I don't think he'll ever settle down with just one woman but if he did, it would probably be a woman like my Katy. The two of them have become good friends and I can't explain how much I appreciate how much he helps our family. After my brother died, Jess and I both agreed to take care of the other's family if anything happened to one of us. It's part of the brotherhood of FDNY. So if the two of them got together, if Katy was happy then I would be too. Odd question...

Thanks for having me, Katerina. Katerina, what a beautiful name, reminds me of Katherine. I should get going, I need to get back to that nursery and finish it up so I can surprise Katy. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

What do the writers learn from the World Cup?

What do the writers learn from the World Cup?

1.       Never ever let your goalie (your leading man) step away from the net (your heroine). The results could be disastrous—such as the wrong winner.

2.       Hair gel is not a prelude to a never-ending love affair. You must rely on your footwork as well.

3.       A breakthrough performance does not guarantee the trophy. Your leading man must work for it—chapter after chapter after chapter . . .

Friday, June 27, 2014

What does it take to be a really good writer? Do you want to follow all the rules or be an outlier?

What does it take to be a really good writer? Do you want to follow all the rules or be an outlier?

There're so many rules to follow. Don't ever use those evil 'ly' adverbs. Show, don't tell. Make your readers like your characters from the page one. Model your book cover after the top ten Amazon bestsellers. Find the best selling books and theme yours after those. The list is endless. Advice never ends. Do this, and you'll be on your way to becoming a successful writer.

But do we really want to follow all the fads? While undoubtedly some of those rules are valuable, do we really want to follow the crowd if our goal is to create something unique? Doesn't the fact that we're artists dictate that we stay true to our muse and let it rule our work, rather than letting the outside world with its must-haves mold our art?

To achieve our highest potential as writers, we must stay true to ourselves. We should take each advice as a guidance, a suggestion, not as a given,  no matter how universal it may seem.

We want to create something that people remember, that distinguishes us from others, not yet another 50 Shades-like book whose only selling point is "read me if you loved 50 Shades".

Find what makes you unique, and exploit it to the fullest. Ask yourself, what is it about my writing that I really love? That my fans love? Make it even better, and never ever let anyone tell you that what you're trying to create doesn't sell.

Make art.
Love your art.
Then others will love you.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review of Roberta Pearce's "Value of Vulnerability"

All of us were a relationship that we knew was wrong for us, yet for one reason or another, we couldn’t stay away. Roberta Pearce’s “Value of Vulnerability” is about one of those relationships.

Ford is a sociopath—and the worst kind at that—but he’s sexy and he’s a smooth talker (a dangerous combo for a sweet, innocent girl Erin). It doesn’t hurt that he’s also rich, and has plenty of resources—the ones that can be bought with money and with his charm—to pursue Erin.

Besides the fact that the novel is intelligent and well-written, it talks about issues that are rarely discussed in our culture. In the age of electronic communication where everyone is constantly on their smart devices instead of actually interacting in person, what is it that makes a sociopath? How does it affect us if we’re in a relationship with one? Will it change us if we fall in love with such a person? Can we hold onto our hope that he’s ever going to change?

These are serious topics, yet the novel is fun to read—Erin’s good-naturedness is infectious and, let’s face it, it doesn’t hurt that Ford is sexy as hell. Their limo ride was hot, leaving me wanting more of Ford, even as I knew that their relationship couldn’t lead anywhere good. I understood Erin, and from that point on, every page of the novel broke a little bit more of my own heart for what was about to happen.

But What About a Writer's Voice?

As a new writer, I spent a lot of time to find my “voice”. How did I want to be called as a writer? What is the one word I wanted to be used to describe my writing?

When I completed my first novel, I thought that word was “passionate”. As a Romantic Suspense novelist, my first work was full of big words, unending love, and dramatic promises. Until an editor read it and called it “melodramatic”. Oh, no! I didn’t want to be called melodramatic, dammit!

That was my first clue that something wasn’t working. Although I did like to pursue passion in my writing, I felt something was missing.

Take two.

My second novel was provocative and dry. Filled with feminist statements from my thirty-five-year-old executive heroine, it was never going to be called melodramatic. Edgy? Definitely. Provocative? Perhaps. Passionate? Well, yeah, if you can find anything romantic in smart-mouthed encounters with Adam&Eve while dreaming about a coworker.

The novel was read by several publishers—they liked the story, if not exactly the main heroine whom they all described as intimidating. My voice? Sarcastic and coarse, after all the screaming at my computer screen whenever my main heroine did something outrageous. Was I happy? I was outraged. Delirious. Frustrated.

Third attempt.

This time I knew what I was going for. Fun. Sweet like a walk on the beach while holding hands with your high school love. Dark like the chocolate bar that melts in your mouth on a hot summer day. A writing filled with situations so unlikely to happen that a reader would keep turning pages to find out what the hell’s gonna happen at the end. And then scream at me for such a WTF ending.

I did it. I’m finally satisfied with my writing. I’m finally reading reviews of my betas who get what I’ve been trying to show in my book.

I’m in seventh heaven and deep in writing my book number four. What will it be? Something you’d never expect.
I'd love to hear from you. What were your attempts at finding your voice?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Unveiling secrets about The Secret Wife

I’ve been tagged by the talented Cathrina Constantine to write 5 things about my WIP, The Secret Wife. Here it is:

1.        The idea was born after watching too many FBI movies where a tough, sexy FBI agent gets a sweet, soft-spoken girl whose life he saves. They’re the most unlikely couple, yet they end up walking into the sunset to their happily-ever-after. Is this realistic? My Romantic Suspense novel is about such a couple, already married. She’s an obstetrician who wants to cook homemade meals and start making babies, and he’s an FBI agent who’s constantly away on dangerous assignments. He wants to keep her out of his “professional” life and the mistakes he’s made in the past, while she demands complete trust and transparency in their relationship. Will their marriage work out? Well, his past does come back to bite him, and it will not only endanger them both, but also put strain on their marriage.

2.        I spent as much time creating supporting characters as I did my main ones.

3.        The novel features the spandex-assisted escape scene, a cake fight, and a penis mutilation

4.        You will hate me when you read the ending.

5.        The novel is complete, and it’s currently with beta readers! I’m excited to get their feedback and make final changes.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Interview with Michele Stratton, bestselling novelist of The Storm Series

Who doesn't like a sexy rock star moving in next door? After the first two books in "The Storm Series" left us hanging (and wanting more), we're finally getting another dose of Noah, the elusive Anthony and Jackson.

Forget the unlucky 13—this time June 13th is bringing us M. Stratton's third book "Caught in the Storm," and it couldn't have come at a better time. I don't know about you, but I'm in desperate need of good books for my beach reading. Will my heart be able to handle all the suspense? I'll just have to wait to find out.

So who is M. Stratton? How does her brain come up with these twists and turns that makes us stay up—sleep be damned— until we find out what's going to happen next.

Note: there's a special pricing on the first two books in "The Storm Series" from June 12th through June 15th. It's a great opportunity to read "After the Storm" for free, and "Eye of the Storm" for only $0.99.

First things first. Please tell us about Noah. Where can we find such a guy? Why can't he get his caffeine fix at my local Starbucks?

A: Actually I married a long-haired heavy metal rocker, so Noah is kind of based on him. Of course, he’ll deny it to the end, but yeah, it’s him. And yes, he also drinks a lot of coffee; it’s one of our major expenses.

I know you started working on a new novel. What is it about?
A: My next romantic suspense novel is Fade to Black. This one is set in a small town in Maine and a handsome movie star meets a single mother raising her son. Then there is woman in the background who thinks their relationship hasn’t ended and will do whatever it takes to get him back.

You said you've always loved storytelling. What was the first story you've ever written?
A: When I was in high school I wrote a lot of poems and short stories. I have hundreds of them. It wasn’t until I decided to get all of these stories out of my head that I actually wrote down a full story, and that was After the Storm.

How do you create imperfect characters? How do you thread the fine line between being too strong and too vulnerable?
A: Oh man, that is really tough. I know a lot of people had a problem with Lexi in After the Storm. She went through something traumatic and how she dealt with it then and even now when things start happening around her are it’s how she would react. That is not how I would react, or how you might, or even someone down the street. If you continue with the series you will see how someone else deals with it completely differently than Lexi. It’s all on how that character would react and there is a time when that is going to be too strong or too vulnerable.

When do you write? What puts you in the mood to do it? How do you overcome writer's block?
A: I write in the evening, some nights are easier than others. I either listen to music I think fits the mood of the story, or I’ll just dial up some random radio station for something in the background. I’m really lucky because I have an author friend, Evelyne Stone, who I can talk things out with. Stories I have, or if I’m stuck. We work really well together she has helped me think through all the twists and turns, and kicks me in the ass when I need it.

If you could have dinner with any author, which one would you like to meet and what would you ask him/her?
A: How long is this interview supposed to be? Seriously, there are so many I’d love to meet and be able to ask questions. If I had to pick one it would have to be Nora Roberts.  I’ve been reading her for the longest time and she has the most books I have re-read. The first question would have to be how did she juggle writing and family? That happens to be a big problem for me.

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