Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
By day, I’m a biomedical research scientist, but in the evening I write urban fantasy and paranormal romance featuring ghosts, grim reapers, mythical creatures, and magical worlds hidden in the nook and crannies of our own. I’ve written two books in the Soul Broker Series, four books and two novellas in the Southern Elemental Guardians series, and a novella set in the weird and wacky fictional town of Magic, New Mexico.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is Raising the Dead, Soul Broker Book 2. It follows the adventures of Nashville native Vivian Bedford, a living soul broker who finds herself navigating the tricky business of afterlife management. Technically, she works for guardian spirits. These entities are no angels, however, and they run their operation like a mafia-style pyramid scheme. But she also takes on more than a few side jobs with the help of seductive and enigmatic reaper Lazarus Darkmore.
The story premise came from a flash of inspiration I received while sitting on my deck on a hot summer evening about nine years ago. I wondered what would happen if a ghost suddenly appeared in the back yard.
Yes, I’d had a few glasses of wine. Don’t judge.
Anyway, I wondered, why would a ghost show up in someone’s back yard? I figured he probably had a story to tell. But to whom? And why? Answering those questions helped shape the characters of guardian spirit Ezra and unwitting soul broker Vivian Bedford, and gave birth to their story.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Define “unusual.” LOL.
My writing habits are actually quite boring. I tend to write in my PJs with a cat on my lap and some sort of beverage on the table next to me within easy reach—coffee, wine, or something stronger, though I mostly reserve the hard stuff for editing.
I have been known to work out dialogue by talking through it in the shower, though. Does that count?
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Stephen King has influenced me in terms of style and craft. “On Writing” is one of the first craft books I ever purchased and it’s still one of the best, IMHO. I aspire to write heroes like J.R. Ward, adventure like Jeaniene Frost, humor and heart like Darynda Jones, and if I could write a heroine on par with Thomas Harris’s Clarice Starling, I think I’d feel pretty darned good about that!
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Southern Elemental Guardians Books 5 and 6, finishing Soul Broker 3, and tweaking Book 1 in a new Urban Fantasy series. Stay tuned!
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Vinny The Bookman and Awesome Gang, of course! Beyond that, I’ve had some success with Amazon Ads, and more with Romance Devoured and The Fussy Librarian. The best method for me still seems to be building my author newsletter subscriber list. I’ve been able to reach those readers through sponsored giveaways and interaction on my Facebook author page.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
No matter your process or journey, finish something! It’s far too easy to spin your wheels tweaking the first chapters or self-editing the first fifty pages until they are “perfect,” but you’ll never move forward in your career unless you have a finished manuscript! Even if your first manuscript isn’t great, the lessons you’ll learn will make your next project better and much easier to finish.
Beyond that, I recommend joining some professional organization for writers, such as RWA, Mystery Writers of America, or SCBWI. These organizations offer a wealth of resources on craft, marketing, branding, and other essential tools you’ll need whether you decide to pursue a traditional publishing contract, go with a small press, go indie, or become a hybrid author. And you’ll find a tribe of passionate writers to lean on.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Eyes on your own paper!
What I mean by that (and what the purveyor of wisdom who offered it to me meant) is to measure progress and success based on your own goals and milestones instead of getting caught up in what other authors are doing. Someone is always going to write better than you, or faster than you, or be more “successful” than you in terms of sales/reach/popularity, but if you focus on that, you’re likely to get derailed from your own journey. I believe you should only compete with yourself if you want to stay focused, content, and productive. Remember, no one can write the book you were meant to write, and no one else can tell your story, so the goal is to do all you can to tell YOUR story in YOUR unique voice the best way you can.
What are you reading now?
I’m in heavy-duty beta reading mode right now and I love it! My critique partners and authors in my network are writing some amazing, heartwarming, gut-wrenching, nail-biting, thought-provoking, swoon-worthy, scary, hopeful, and thrilling stories, and I get to see how these stories are born, shaped, changed, and polished. That’s one of the best parts of being an author.
What’s next for you as a writer?
More books! That’s actually true—I’ll be writing more Soul Broker and Southern Elemental Guardians series books, and plan on writing more in Magic, New Mexico (Thanks, S.E. Smith). I’ve also got a couple of Contemporary Romance projects floating around and a new Urban Fantasy series brewing. As long as I’ve got readers, I’ll keep cranking out books!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
“How to Survive on a Desert Island.”
Just kidding. Mostly.
My list is ever-changing, but at the moment, I’d go with: “Outlander” and/or “Voyager” by Diana Gabaldon, “Night Shift” (Short Story Anthology by Stephen King), “Lover Awakened” by J.R. Ward, any of the Charley Davidson books by Darynda Jones.
And “How to Survive on a Desert Island.”