Monday, June 30, 2008

[Interview] Tarik Moore

Tarik H. Moore has a Bachelor of Science degree from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland and works as an Information Technology consultant and a real estate investor.

The End Justifies the Means (In Third Person Publishing, 2006) is his first novel.

In this interview, Tarik Moore talks about his writing.

How many books have you written so far?

The End Justifies the Means is my first novel, and I’m a self-publish author under my own publishing company, “In Third Person Publishing”.

The End Justifies the Means released October 18, 2006. It’s a suspense novel based out of Camden, New Jersey. A city cited by many as one of the most poorer and dangerous cities in America for the past decade or so.

It took six weeks to write the original manuscript, but the next twenty-three months were dedicated to editing, graphical design work (i.e. website, book covers, promotional material, etc). You know all the intangible things that go into producing a book.

Which aspect of the work you put into the book did you find most difficult?

My biggest challenge was producing the book. There are a lot of predators claiming to be professional editors, proofreaders, graphical artist, etc who care nothing about your story and your message but only wish to take your money. But now I have a reliable team of editors and graphic artists who I trust and will continue to be staples in my writing career as long as I have stories to tell.

Which did you enjoy most?

The day I enjoyed most was the day my proof came to my door and I finally had my first official finished product in my hand. All the hard work and money I put into it finally had paid off.

What sets the book apart from other things you have written?

Before this novel I had only written a few poems, high school newspaper articles, but nothing as personal as this story. I had this story in me for years before it ultimately came out.

What will your next book be about?

I was going to write a novel/erotica called Cyber Sex but I’ve been forced to put that on the backburner because the story wasn’t ready to shoot out of me like The End Justifies the Means did. I started writing it but I didn’t feel the same passion I felt for my first novel.

My next novel, The Sweetest Joy, is bursting out of me as we speak. I’ve had to literally force myself not to begin writing that novel until I’m finished promoting The End Justifies the Means.

The Sweetest Joy will be much darker than my first novel. It’s going to be a story about one man’s revenge and that’s all I’m going to tell you about it. It’s going to be bigger than The End Justifies the Means and people are loving The End Justifies the Means. I’m telling you now, the industry better be prepared to hand out some awards to T. H. Moore when The Sweetest Joy releases.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Being an only child I had and continue to have a vivid imagination and I began writing the stories that flooded my imagination when I was in high school.

I wrote for my high school newspaper and after that I began to write the first story that I thought would turn into my first novel. Unfortunetly, I lost it to a computer crash. It’s kind of ironic considering that my career is based on computers now but since then I never wrote another story with the intent of publishing it for others to read.

Ultimately, I was working on a project in England a few years ago and one weekend I went to see a movie and the story line was so bad that I came out of the movie saying, “I could have written a better story than that.” And then it clicked in my head. I’m going to write a novel and put my money where my mouth is. Six weeks later I finished my first manuscript, The End Justifies the Means.

How would you describe your writing?

The industry would categorize me in the African-American suspense novel genre or Hood Literature based on the story back drop of The End Justifies the Means but this is the only story I have to tell that has an urban setting.

To be fair, my stories will appeal to African-American audiences but they are equally intelligently written with a message communicated through them that doesn’t glorify promiscuity, drug dealing, and violence. I tell all my readers from my book signings, “This is not your stereotypical Hood Lit” -- and after they read it they understand what I mean.

My target audience are minorities (i.e. African-Americans and Latinos) mainly because the main characters in The End Justifies the Means are those ethnicities but my stories can be appreciated by any nationality.

The majority, not all, of the books I read are by African-American authors and I don’t think we have equal presence represented in the industry so that’s why I’ve chosen my audience. Maybe one day I’ll write a story specifically for “mainstream” contemporary literature but I’m not drawn to it. I’m drawn to what my people can appreciate first.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

All of my stories come from me and my personal experiences. They aren’t autobiographical but I write about what I know and have experienced.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

I don’t want to be lumped into the, “Oh, he’s an African-American writer” category. I’m just a writer who happens to be African-American. I want people to appreciate my art and talent first before my ethnicity. That’s why I decided to go with the book cover I have. I didn’t want readers to be instantly turned away from my book solely because of my book cover.

Normally, authors in my genre have cover art with African-Americans on it but if someone has the mindset, “I don’t read black authors or Hood Books” -- they won’t even pick it up to see what its about. In order for a reader not to like my story they have to actually pick it up and read the back cover or the first few pages of the book and once they do that, it’s too late. I already got you hooked.

How did you deal with the challenges you faced in producing the book?

Mostly trial and error and I had a few people willing to mentor me along the way. It’s because of those people that I have the book we have before us today. But I can truly estimate that I’ve wasted approximately $4,000.00 on would be editors and the kind. But the good thing about it is that it helped me learn the industry more thoroughly. I’m not saying everyone needs to get took to publish a book successfully but I learned very valuable lessons during those two years of producing my novel.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Well, there are two most significant achievements. One tangible, and another intangible.

I received a “New Writers Award” from a community organization based out of Camden, N. J.

The second was when the people who knew I was writing my novel finally read it and before they read it they initially thought I was just writing a book so I could say, “I wrote a novel” -- but when they completed it they realized that it was exceptional and they would have read it and enjoyed it even if they didn’t personally know the author.

How did you get there?

Hmmm, I guess I have to thank that terrible movie (which will remain nameless) that forced me to put my money where my mouth was. It gave me the much needed extra motivation to write again and publish my novel. But honestly, I’m not sure how to answer this question because it honestly wasn’t a conscious effort. I just did what I liked to do.

Do you write everyday?

I don’t write everyday, unless you count emails I write to my co-workers, family, friends, and fraternity brothers, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. (I know, I know…a shameless plug but it’s all good).

Related books


Monday, June 23, 2008

[Interview] Beth Ciotta

Beth Ciotta writes romantic comedy with a twist of suspense and has published contemporary, historical, and paranormal romantic fiction.

Her books include Everybody Loves Evie (HQN Books, 2008); All About Evie (HQN Books, 2007) Romancing the West (Medallion Press, 2007); Lasso the Moon (Medallion Press, 2006); Seduced (Medallion Press, 2005) and Charmed (Medallion Press, 2004).

In an email interview which took place on March 5, 2007, Beth Ciotta spoke about her writing.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always loved a good story whether in book or movie form. Though I dabbled with writing in my youth, I pursued a career in entertainment and made my living as a performer for most of my adult life. In 1994, I read a book that ignited a new passion -- storytelling. That passion fueled a new career in publishing.

How would you describe your writing?

I write romantic comedy with a twist of suspense in three sub-genres: contemporary, historical, and paranormal. All of my tales have a romantically satisfying ending so they are classified as romantic fiction.

The majority of my readers are women ranging in age from 18-55, but I have heard from younger and older. I have also heard from several men who enjoy my books. I’ve learned not to assume. I write for anyone who enjoys a fast-paced romantic adventure.

What motivated you to start writing in this genre?

One night on a whim I picked up a novel by Johanna Lindsey. I devoured the book in a few hours and when I got to the end I thought, “I want to do this. I want to write stories that will make people feel the way I feel right now. Happy and hopeful.” The next day I started writing my first manuscript and I haven’t looked back.

Who would you say has influenced you the most?

Tough question. There are a lot of dynamic people in my life who influence me and inspire me. I’ll name those who have been most influential in my writing. Julie Garwood, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Cynthia Valero, and Robert B. Parker.

How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?

My entertainment background plays into most of my stories. In addition to performing on stage, I’ve also performed in several interactive venues, improvisational gigs that exposed me to a lot of one-on-one with the public. Amazing the things people will say to a costumed character.

I’ve lived a rich life and my world is populated with colorful and passionate people. I definitely draw on that.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

I’ve been writing two full-length novels per year for the past three years. Currently I’m writing for two different publishers. This means juggling overlapping deadlines for proposals, completed manuscripts, revisions, line edits, copy edits, and promotion. Meeting all of those deadlines on time, being able to hop from book to another, in one or another phase, sometimes within the same week has proven a huge challenge.

Remembering to relax and refresh is a challenge as well. After all, you have to live life to write about it.

How do you deal with these challenges?

My motto, one of them anyway, is “Just do it.” I know that sounds simple, but sometimes I’m so overwhelmed and crunched for time that’s the only mindset that gets me through. Don’t overanalyze and freeze. Prioritize then attack.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

Capturing the reader’s imagination and entertaining them throughout, creating compelling, believable characters, and getting the details right.

Do you write everyday?

I’m not what I would call a fast writer so I need to write everyday, or close to it, in order to make my deadlines. I work part-time at my local library and still occasionally perform, so the hours that I devote to writing vary. On days that I work, I write an average of three hours. On my ‘days off’ I write anywhere from ten to fourteen hours.

How long did it take you to write All About Evie?

All About Evie features a divorced and forcibly retired 41-year-old showbiz veteran who rediscovers passion and purpose when she unwittingly teams up with reformed grifter and a government operative in their mission to expose nefarious scams.

This story, loosely based on some of my own experiences in the entertainment industry, took me about five months to write and hit the shelves in May 2007. It’s the first book in a connected trilogy published by HQN (Harlequin).

Which aspects of the work that you put into the book did you find most difficult?

The revisions. I had a very specific view of the heroine and her journey. My editor’s vision differed slightly. I had heart palpitations when I read the revision letter. She was right though, all across the board. In the end, her suggestions made the story stronger and more suited to the targeted genre.

Which did you enjoy most?

Blending my own entertainment industry experiences with Evie’s and living vicariously through her as she navigated the smoke and mirrors world of con-artists. Researching scams and grifters was fascinating and enlightening. Let’s just say I am no longer as trusting as I used to be.

What sets the book apart from the others you have written?

The majority of this book (and the upcoming connected books) is in first person. That’s new for me and I have to say I enjoyed the process enormously.

In what way is it similar?

Style and voice. The unique blend of angst and humor is consistent with my previous releases.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Getting my work published. Also, acquiring a reputable agent. Believe it or not, the latter proved more difficult. Given the fierce competition and all the amazing writers struggling to find homes for their work, I consider myself very fortunate.

How did you get there?

The short answer: Dedication and perseverance.

The longer response: When I first started writing, I had passion but no real knowledge of the craft. Hungry to learn, I attended writers’ conferences and workshops, joined local and national writers’ organizations, and read several how-to books. I networked -- a balance of give and take -- and benefited from the support and guidance of fellow writers. I read and wrote avidly. I submitted my work again and again and weathered multiple rejections. I honed my craft and never gave up.

Even though I am now published, I’m still hungry to learn. I still practice all of the above in an effort to grow as a writer. Just like stories in first draft, I consider myself a work in progress.

Related books


Monday, June 9, 2008

[Interview] Jeanette McCarthy

Jeanette McCarthy lives in the village of Newbold Verdon and works for a solicitor in the small town of Ashby de la Zouch in Leicestershire.

An extract from her first novel, Abandoned (Lulu, 2008), can be read on the Leicester Review of Books.

In this interview, McCarthy talks about her foray into self-publishing.

When did you start writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. As a kid I used to read girls comics like Bunty (showing my age now, I suppose) and re-write the stories in them, changing them to suit myself. Soon after that I started making my own stories up. As I recall, they usually involved ponies!

Once, running for the school bus I got run over by a car. The very first thing I did (after picking myself up and checking for anything broken) was get out my jotter and write it all down. I was totally unhurt, but by the time I got into school after being checked out, all the kids who had been on the bus had spread the story that I was dead, and that there was blood and body parts all over the street. There were children in tears, teachers frantic, it was brilliant!

I tore up my factual story and wrote the horror tale everyone wanted to read. Taught me a lesson, that did.

How would you describe your writing?

My writing is very character driven, as I believe readers have to engage with a character before they can care what happens to them. Although my present novel is effectively a chase, I like to add subplots and asides that show my characters in a slightly different light.

I don’t really have a target audience, as I tend to write across different genres. I have tried my hand at romance, sci-fi and horror, as well as crime, and I am presently working on a novel based on historical fact.

Who influenced you most?

I am a huge fan of crime novels, particularly American writers such as Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and Joseph Wambaugh. I love the moody, sombre feel to these novels, the way humour and tragedy are intertwined, and the way the characters feel absolutely real.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

Writing for me has often been a cathartic experience. I have found that writing about sad or unpleasant events helps me deal with them. My parents died when I was a child, and their loss affected me so deeply that for many years afterwards I failed to fully come to terms with it. Nowadays, I would have received counselling, but of course that was unheard of then, and all I had to fall back on was pen and paper.

I am aware that in many of my stories my characters have to deal with sudden traumatic events and the struggle to carry on, and I know this all comes from my past.

When did decide you wanted to be a published writer?

I had been writing stories, mainly for my own enjoyment, for a long time, and in 2002 I won a short story competition run by the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust. This small success gave me enough confidence to believe that people might want to read my stories, and I decided to think about publishing. Of course, thinking about it and actually becoming a published author are two very different things.

Do you write everyday?

I do try to write every day, but it doesn’t always work. We all have busy lives, and of course there are those times when you find yourself in front of the empty screen with no idea what to say.

I don’t have a set time when I sit down to write. Quite often I will log on to the internet, visit a couple of writer’s circle websites, then hopefully get back to writing. Sometimes I can get on a roll and write a thousand or so words. Other times, I’m lucky if I write ten.

However, one thing I do every day without fail is take my three border collies for a long run, and it’s during those times that ideas tend to float into my head, or problems manage to unknot themselves. I have actually dedicated my present book to my dogs, for that very reason.

How many books have you written so far?

My book Abandoned was published in May 2008 through

Abandoned is the story of Mike Dole, an ex-soldier struggling to come to terms with the horrors of his past. Mike’s girlfriend Tess, a timid shop assistant, is afraid of him, but when she finally plucks up the courage to dump him, it sends him into freefall. He kidnaps her and abandons her on a remote island to die.

Detective Cal Fisher is the Leicester detective investigating Tess’s disappearance. Cal has his own problems, and is inclined to write Tess off as a runaway. Meanwhile, Tess struggles to survive. Close to starvation, she digs deep inside herself and somehow finds the inner strength to carry on.

And as Cal delves deeper into Mike’s life, the terrible realisation dawns that the hunt is no longer just for a missing woman. Now he’s hunting a serial killer

My previous book, The Dragon’s Promise is under revision, and hopefully will be published soon. This is a tragic-comic romance which segues between a Scottish island and the city of Los Angeles.

How long did it take you to write Abandoned?

The idea for Abandoned was born a few years ago during a walk in the Inverpolly nature reserve. This is a landscape as remote and spectacular as any to be found in Britain, and it was while pausing by the side of a still loch that I began to wonder what it would be like to live here, a long way from civilisation, and whether the beauty of the landscape would be enough to sustain me.

So I began work on the story of Tess and her battle for survival. I was determined to show Tess growing from a feeble, terrified victim into a strong and determined survivor.

Sadly, on my return to England, work and other everyday pressures got in the way, and the project was put to one side.

On my next trip north, I was browsing in the general store when I came across The Collins ‘Little Gem’ Guide to SAS Survival Training. After I’d stopped laughing, I bought the book, and what a fund of information it turned out to be. I was galvanised into resurrecting the story of Tess, and I began to find out for myself what it would be like to try and survive in the wild places.

This set me back, as jeans and a thin rainjacket are poor preparation for the often savage climate of the Highlands. And I found out by uncomfortable experiment that training shoes last all of three minutes before they are soaked through in the boggy Scottish ground, leaving your feet frozen blocks. Maybe I was expecting too much of my little shop girl.

And Mike, the bad guy, didn’t seem real. Once again, I put the idea to one side and got to work on other things.

It was the next Christmas when the idea reared its ugly head again.

There is a saying in the Highlands: if you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes.

On Boxing day I was walking with my dogs on Achnahaird beach, dressed only in a jumper and jeans.

Thinking about the vagaries of this fascinating climate, it occurred to me that Tess just needed to be lucky with the weather, and that spawned the further notion that others might not have been so lucky. The story was back on rails, and now Detective Fisher invented himself, and began to nag at me to increase his part.

The story rattled on happily, but there was still a problem with Mike. Why was he doing this to Tess? What was driving him? I decided to do some research into what happens to our soldiers when they return home from battle, and that’s when the novel took a different turn.

I was both surprised and saddened to find that many ex-service personnel get little help for the psychological trauma they bring back with them. These are people who deserve better. After reading some heart-rending stories, I began to understand the forces that might be driving poor Mike. He finally crystallised into a real person, and the rest of the story effectively wrote itself.

How did you chose a publisher for the book?

Some months ago, I posted an excerpt from my novel on the My Writers Circle web forum, asking for friendly criticism.

Following on from the comments I got, I happened to mention that I was stuck with my characters, and wasn’t sure where to take them. Others replied to say they had the same trouble; one mentioned that his characters had been stuck in a minibus for six months, another wondered what it must be like for our poor characters, temporarily abandoned while their writers floundered round for ideas…

Well, the idea just sprung into life there and then. What if there was a place, a limbo where characters went when their authors abandoned them? I envisaged an enormous Grand Central Station, filled with everything from starship captains to southern belles. I quickly hammered out a story and posted it, and writers from all corners of the globe picked up the baton and wrote their own stories based in “the Station”. After a time it became clear that the idea had taken on a life of its own, and another writer, Citabria, volunteered to put the stories together in a book and publish it on Lulu .

The book is called Station Shorts, and all proceeds from its sale goes to Amnesty International.

Having seen how easy it seemed to be to self-publish, I decided to have a go with my own novel Abandoned.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

The most important thing for me is that people believe in my characters and care about what happens to them. The only way I can make sure of this is to believe in them myself.

In Abandoned, the character of Detective Cal Fisher did not really exist until I had written almost half the book. Up until that point he was a minor player, but as his part was about to expand, I started to give him messy problems to deal with in his personal life, and as the story progressed, I wrote a diary from his point of view. I find this a good way to get inside a character’s head. By the time I had finished the novel, I was having dreams about some of them!

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

The biggest challenge up till now has been to get published, and now that I have self-published, the challenge is to find readers.

The downside of self-publishing is that you have to do all the marketing yourself, and sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, or you just don’t feel like it. I’ve also found it quite difficult to ‘blow my own trumpet’!

Lulu is a very helpful site, but the onus is on the writer to upload the text of their book, make sure it’s properly formatted, and check for errors. They can provide you with a selection of covers for your book, or you can upload your own, and up to this point, it costs nothing. They will help you all the way, but it is not easy!

Fortunately I have a husband who is a designer and web builder, which was a big help.

When you were working on the book, what did you find most difficult?

I found the police side of the novel quite challenging, as although I read a lot of crime fiction, I had no idea what the procedure would be if someone was reported missing, or how different forces would interact with each other over the search for a criminal.

I also had no idea whether the army would co-operate with the police when it came to one of their own soldiers.

Thankfully I had help from a couple of kind police officers, who were very obliging and were able to put me right. They also filled me in on ‘local’ systems. The novel is partly based in my home town of Leicester, and it is clear that all forces have their own way of doing things. I would recommend anyone writing this type of book to contact their local force. They really are helpful.

I also had help from an ex-squaddie, who not only helped with details, but who also had some hysterically funny anecdotes.

Which aspects of the work did you enjoy most?

In the novel, Tess, a shop assistant, is abandoned on a remote Scottish island with nothing but the clothes she is wearing, a knife, and a “survival tin”. This is a little tobacco tin stuffed full of matches, fishing line, and assorted other items designed to help you stay alive. I bought one of these tins, and on my next foray to Scotland, went out to the sea in my jeans, sweater and training shoes, to see if I could ‘survive’.

Although to this day I have not been able to light a fire with a flint striker, I did manage to light one using the matches, dead leaves and twigs. And I discovered first hand how satisfying that is. There’s nothing like first-hand knowledge to help you write with conviction. Tess is such an ineffectual character, that I had to make sure she could survive. That was a lot of fun.

What sets Abandoned apart from other things you've written?

This is my first crime/thriller novel, and in fact, the first story of that type that I have done. But what really makes it different is the way the stories of the three main characters intertwine, and the profound effect each has on each other. It is easily the most complex story I have attempted, and this is due in part to the way it was written.

I am not a disciplined writer; I don’t start at chapter one and go straight through. In fact, a lot of the story is made up as I go along, which makes it very enjoyable for me. There’s nothing better than suddenly having an idea that opens up a whole new avenue of story.

In what way is it similar?

One of the major themes of Abandoned is that we are all capable of far more than we believe we are. I think most people are too inclined to say ‘Oh, I couldn’t possibly do that’, rather than simply have a go. If they did, they would surprise themselves. This is a theme that tends to run through much of my work.

What will your next book be about?

I am presently working on two projects. The first is a sequel to Abandoned, and again features Leicester detective Cal Fisher and his team.

The second is very different, and links the 19th century eradication of the Scottish population during the Highland clearances with the simultaneous decimation of the American Indian peoples. Although based on fact, this will be an action novel.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

Someone recently wrote to tell me that they had stayed up until 3 a.m. to finish my book. As far as I’m concerned, that is the best thing anyone could say to me.

Monday, June 2, 2008

[Interview_1] Gail McFarland

Gail McFarland attended Cleveland State University, where she was a psychology major with a minor in special education.

Her books include Summer Wind (Arabesque, 1997); The Best for Last (Arabesque, 1998); When Love Calls (Arabesque, 1999) and Lady Killer (, 2000).

An extract from from her latest novel, Dream Runner (Genesis Press, 2008) is available here.

In this interview, Gail McFarland talks about her concerns as a writer.

How would you describe your writing?

I write novel-length contemporary African-American romantic fiction.

My target audience are people who enjoy a well-crafted, intimately written story.

Because I am at heart, a reader, I knew there were others like me: readers who enjoy the flexibility, grace, and grandeur of language -- and live for a good story.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Long story, but the short version is: I have a cousin who literally hated reading, but was devouring romance novels at the rate of 6-8 books per week. Curious about the source of her newfound delight, I picked one up and nearly gagged.

I couldn’t identify with the heroines and certainly found the heroes lacking. The settings did nothing for me. I wanted to see myself, my friends, and the people I love reflected in the books I read. I wanted my characters smart, sexy, efficient, and believable. So, I began working on my first romantic novel in late 1994.

How did you go about it?

In 1990, I pulled out my typewriter and began writing “confessions,” very short romantic stories for magazines. Those short stories were a major education. I started out with good ideas and a better than average vocabulary, but writing the “confessions” taught me pacing, character development, stylized language, and so much more.

Learning more made me want to achieve more, and when I came across those early Donna Hill and Rochelle Alers novels, I knew there was a place for me and the books I longed to see. So, I trashed my electric typewriter, bought a word processor, and went to work on my first novel.

It took two years, a computer upgrade, and several rewrites for Summer Wind, my first novel, to become a reality and find a home. But, it did find Arabesque, a burgeoning audience for multiethnic romance, and a new outlet for my storytelling passions.

Who influenced you most?

Well… I have to start with my mother. She actively encouraged my love of reading and storytelling from a very early age.

Then, there were my very talented teachers, who picked up where my mother left off.

If I had to name influential writers, my list would contain the names of everyone from noted to little-known novelists, historians, actors, politicians, and even a few poets. I would have a list far too long for this interview.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

From time to time, I find that my characters begin to sound like me and those around me, though they have yet to take on an entire personality.

More likely, I will see or hear something that triggers my imagination. As an only child, I have learned how to respond to situations by simply being observant -- and that observation frequently colors my characters and their situations.

What are your main concerns as a writer?

A primary concern for me, is telling a good solid story, and telling it with skill.

Like many authors, my first novel did face some rejection -- much of it based on the fact that I was telling a multiethnic story.

Now that my work has found an audience, I want it to be worthy of readers. So, I am committed to putting my best efforts on paper.

What are the biggest challenges that you face?

Discipline, general laziness, and maintaining focus are major challenges for me.

One of the easiest ways to deal with my discipline and focus challenges is to write outside my home, so I usually pack up my laptop and notes and write at the public library or a nearby coffeehouse -- no phones, no gossiping friends, and no TV -- just me and my manuscript.

The laziness? I’m still working on that.

Do you write everyday?

Actually, I don’t.

I tend to be a bit of an emotional writer, so I follow my heart and my urges when I write. I am fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule that allows me to write when I feel the urge. There are weeks when I don’t write at all, and then I’ll have a month when I put in 6-8 hours a day.

When you do write, how does each session start?

Usually with me chasing a cat away from my keyboard!

It has become my habit to organize all of my story notes, outlines, and drafts in large white binders. So, I begin by pulling out my binder and reviewing my outline to refresh myself as to what I’ve done and where I need to go, in terms of story progress. This is where I try to “fill in the blanks”, ask myself questions, note the answers, and see the story the way my characters will live it.

If I’ve done my homework, my outline is my map, and allows me to write freely within the framework I’ve set for myself.

My goal for each session is a full chapter, usually a minimum of about twelve and a maximum of twenty pages for me. Sometimes, if I am in love with the story and/or the characters, my imagination is charged and I will write more.

My sessions generally end when I get tired. Because I have a bad habit of getting caught up in revisions, I try not to check anything beyond obvious spelling and grammar errors until the end of my sessions. That’s when I get to sit back and (hopefully) enjoy my story and its progress.

How many books have you written so far?

Summer Wind (Arabesque, 1997), The Best for Last (Arabesque, 1998), Bouquet (with Roberta Gayle and Anna Laurence, BET/Arabesque, 1998), When Love Calls (BET/Arabesque, 1999), Lady Killer (Lulu Books, 2000), All for Love (Lulu Books, 2008), and Dream Runner (Genesis Press/Indigo, 2008).

What is your latest novel about?

Dream Runner is the story of a woman who has spent a lifetime dreaming of taking Olympic gold. To achieve this goal, she has willingly sacrificed love and family, but always comes up short and still clutching her dream.

Dream Runner is also the story of a man who has run his way to the top of his sport, only to be sidelined by injury without realizing his dream. Neither of them has any clue that the separate roads they’re running will meet and where that path will take them.

How long did it take you to write Dream Runner?

The first three chapters were actually written in two days. The research and the rest of the writing took about six months.

Dream Runner is published by Genesis Press/Indigo and the book is brand new, having been released this month (May, 2008).

Which aspects of the work you put into the book did you find most difficult?

Editing and rewriting are my personal challenges.

After spending months with characters and their challenges, plots and their twists and turns, the last thing I usually want to do with a story is write, “The End,” on the final page. And that’s what I get to do, until you come to editing, where every word and concept is dissected. Editing is where I often find myself defending circumstances and situations, and every minute of that research I put in becomes invaluable.

Sometimes, odd little things (like subject/verb agreement) get past a writer. Over time, I have learned that having to look at the edits often forces me to write “tighter” and ultimately better. The story is often improved because editors are relentless… no, fortunately, they’re just really good at ferreting out the things the writer overlooked, forgot, or simply didn’t know.

I deal with the rigors of editing by putting in the work it takes to improve my story and keep it fresh and relevant -- even when I’m reading/reviewing it for the tenth time.

Which aspects of the work did you enjoy most?

The research is always interesting and fulfilling for me. Simply taking the time to cruise the internet is relaxing and sparks my imagination.

What sets the novel apart from other things you've written?

While Dream Runner is infused with the intimacy and humor that I hope marks everything I have ever written or will write, it is different from what I have written so far because it is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to fuse my love of romance with my passion for health, fitness, and sports.

Dream Runner is also different because it is the first time I’ve written a character with a physical challenge.

How did you choose a publisher for the book?

I took a very careful look at the writers currently working with this publisher, and found that their work was very similar to mine.

Genesis Press has had success with the romance genre and proven supportive of their authors. The authors writing for the Indigo imprint are also a pretty impressive group.

In my experience, the Genesis Press/Indigo publisher and editors have been remarkably easy to work with, and I have enjoyed the experience.

What will your next book be about?

I am currently researching infertility as part of a sequel to Dream Runner. Marlea and AJ are definitely on my character list, as are Rissa and Dench… you’ll have to read the book to find out who they are.

What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?

That’s a hard question, and I am not sure whether I should start with the pleasure I took from signing a book for my 12th grade English teacher (she gave me an ‘A+’ on the book!), or getting consistently great reviews for my work. But I definitely have to say that having your work read and appreciated is a huge bonus and certainly a remarkable achievement for any writer.