Have you had other interesting careers before becoming a writer?
Let's see, I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. No wait, those are lyrics from a song. I was a commercial casualty insurance underwriter for several years BC (before children.) Then AC (after children) My husband and I owned and operated a video store for a few years until Blockbuster came along and dominated the market. I ran a day care out of my house and I was a domestic goddess for hire. But overall my real life is basic boring beige. I've done nothing terribly exciting, adventurous or dangerous. My motto is boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated, so I save all of the adventures for the characters in my books.
If you could choose your own superpower, what would it be?
I already have a super power. It's called "common sense," which is the rarest super power of all. But if I could have another, I'd like to be able to fly or even better teleport. Who ever said "getting there is half the fun" is nuts. Traveling today is such a pain. You either have to deal with traffic or the TSA. Maybe if I had lots of money and could go first class all the way it might not be as bad - maybe.
Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
Stephen King always tells people he digs his ideas out of the ground, but he's a horror writer. Being a romance writer, I decided that I didn't want to be digging stuff up, so I planted an idea tree in my backyard. Every morning I go out and pluck a couple of almost-ripe ideas off the tree and put them on my window sill to mature. When they're fully developed I eat them and the ideas fill my brain. Seriously, ideas come from everywhere - the news, newspaper articles, TV, movies, books, magazines, watching people in the grocery store, listening in on conversations (I could give the spy agencies a run for their money,) and of course, my imagination. I see or hear or read something and immediately my mind starts the "what if" process. I often wonder what people who don't write, think about.
What inspired your latest book?
A KITTEN FOR CHRISTMAS was inspired by the year when I was a child that the only thing I wanted for Christmas was a kitten. Unfortunately, I didn't get my wish. I didn't get Cassandra (Sandy) Queen of the Calicos until March of the next year. She was with me for eighteen years, but I'll always remember my disappointment when there was no kitten for Christmas for me.
My Christmas village along with The Twilight Zone episode Miniature inspired THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE. And my love of cats gave me the idea for MUST LOVE CATS: The Nine Lives of Thomas Cash Riley - Book 1. (I love cats too, I am definitely putting these on my wish list to fill up my eReader for the holidays!)
What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
I'd have to say conflict is the hardest for me to write. Characters and their emotions usually come fairly easy for me. I tap into my own wants, needs and desires, and layer them onto the characters. Since in my own life I dislike conflict and confrontation, putting my book children into those types of situations is difficult. That said, I think I manage to give my characters plenty of challenges to overcome before I let them have their happily ever after.
Was your road to publication difficult or a walk in the park?
I've always been a storytelling. As a child I was the one who came up with the "stories" behind the games we played. In high school I wrote short stories. In college I majored in English, but the only path toward a writing career back then (in the Dark Ages) was journalism. I knew I'd never survive writing nothing but the facts and it never occurred to me that I could write a book without a college degree in writing, so I buried my urge to write and got a day job. Seems like today I could be a "news writer," since few of them bother to write the facts. It wasn't until I was a stay-at-home mom of two small boys that I decided to try my hand at writing a short contemporary romance. When the heroine of the story turned out to be a winged, telepathic alien who stows away on a passing space ship, I decided I liked writing stories set in different times, places, and realities. By the time I finished that book, which, by the way is hidden under my bed guarded by killer dust bunnies, it was too late. I'd been bitten by the writing bug. I joined Romance Writers of America, took writing courses at the local college (no online stuff back then,) and learned how to write. It took me just about ten years to sell my first book, a western historical romance, to a small press. During the following ten years I sold seven more books to various publishing houses. Since then, two of those houses have folded and I've jumped into the self-publishing pond, which has now become an ocean, and learned to swim with the sharks.
Tell us about your current release.
MUST LOVE CATS - The Nine Lives of Thomas Cash Riley was inspired by my love of cats. I wanted to write a romance that featured a cat as a major player in the story. And I wanted to use a cat's point of view. Thomas Cash (TC) Riley is mad, bad and – dead. Killed in a one car wreck, the twenty-nine-year-old playboy is given one last chance to redeem himself for living a selfish, unfulfilled life and to determine his soul’s final destination. To help his young daughter recover from the loss of her mother, Daniel Bishop, a widower who dislikes the country and is allergic to anything with fur, has moved back to his wife’s rural hometown to be close to her large family. Katherine Sinclair, the local veterinarian and the single mother of an adventurous ten-year-old son, is wary of the handsome newcomer. Once before she’d given her heart to a wealthy, charming man and she’d ended up pregnant and alone. With the help of a lonely little girl and a brash young boy, can TC find a way to bring these two damaged people together? Can he remember his past and save his soul in the allotted time? And can he do it all as a cat?
What was the hardest thing you’ve found in the process of self-publishing? What was the easiest part of self-publishing?
Self-publishing may seem like the easy way to be publish, but while the necessary skills (formatting, cover art, promotion, marketing) can be learned, there's nothing easy about being a self-published writer. Writing has always been an isolating career. Writers spend their days alone, with no one to talk to but imaginary people. Writers are gods in their worlds. Unfortunately all of their characters are atheists. Self-published authors not only have to write the book, they have to handle the myriad details necessary to format, publish and promote it. They swim alone in a vast ocean. Still, if a writer has the determination and the ability to follow through, it can be the most satisfying.
What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?
First write the book. Then sit down and determine what it is you really want from your writing career. Are you a control freak? Do you want to be in charge of everything? Do you have the skills (or are willing to learn them or pay for them) to handle all the technical aspects of self-publishing? Are you capable of doing or paying for your own marketing and promotion? Or do you want to focus solely on the creative part of writing? Are you willing to submit and wait to hear from traditional publishing? Can you deal with rejection after rejection? Are you comfortable changing your story to fit the editor/publishing house's vision? There are no right or wrong answers. You just need to determine which path will work for you. In the last few years the world of publishing has changed. It's an exciting time to be an author. We have more options than ever before. It's up to us to jump in and ride the waves.
A KITTEN FOR CHRISTMAS
Though Jackson stirred her in ways she thought had died with Gerald, Dani hesitated. Was she ready to risk her heart again?
"Things are happening too fast." She turned her face away from his hand. Immediately she missed the contact.
"Then we'll slow them down. There's no rush. Let's go shopping." He took her hand and tugged her out onto the sales floor.
Warmth curled through her as they moved through the store picking out gifts for Travis and Suzy. At one point he disappeared for several minutes. When he popped back up at her side he attempted to conceal a store bag behind his back.
"You'll have to wait for Santa to come to find out."
"Santa?" She crossed her arms over her chest and tried to stare him down, but the mischievous twinkle in his eyes reduced her to giggles.
"Got something we can use to wrap stuff?"
She pulled out the holiday paper the store used to wrap customer purchases during the Christmas rush. While he wrapped the mystery gift she went back to the office and poured some eggnog. She put on one of the Santa hats she found, and despite his protests plopped another on his head.
Laughing, they sat under the tree at the front of the store and wrapped everything. Once they were done, and the packages were arranged under the tree, he settled himself against the wall and pulled her back against his chest. Together they watched through the front window as the snow continued to fall.
Peace and contentment washed over Dani. His solid warmth weakened her resolve. When he tipped her face to his and slanted his lips over hers she didn't object.
A KITTEN FOR CHRISTMAS
THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE
MUST LOVE CATS: The Nine Lives of Thomas Cash Riley - Book 1
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Thanks to Elysa for being my guest today and thank YOU for spending a few minutes with us today at Scribbling Through Time!