Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m a romance author, business analyst, speaker, and model who’s appeared on national television—CBS, as well as “The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet”—plus national radio shows, including “Playboy Radio,” the “Hip-Hop Connection,” and the “Jordan Rich Show.”
I have nine published books/novellas. In all of them, I’ve tried to infuse my writing with sexual tension, which is why I was thrilled when an excerpt from “Out of Control,” a novella in SECRETS VOLUME 13, was used in ON WRITING ROMANCE, published by Writer’s Digest Books, to illustrate how to effectively heighten sexual tension in a romance book.
I love to START writing projects, which is why I have about forty works-in-progress that have yet to be finished.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book, HOT DREAMS, is book one in a new series featuring hunky male dancers. I met a sexy male dancer years ago and the question flickered through my mind, “What’s he really like when he’s not performing?” That sparked the idea for HOT DREAMS where Tina, the heroine, wonders something similar about Johnny as she stares at the photos on his desk. That got the story started. But I needed another twist, something that would challenge me as a writer. So I gave both Tina and Johnny tortured pasts and threw them in a situation neither of them ever thought they would be in–a situation, without which, they never would have met each other or ended up together.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Since I decided to go with indie publishing this time around and thus there’s no editor setting a deadline, I now can’t seem to finish a book without a REAL deadline. I wrote a humorous memoir, KICKING THE BUCKET LIST (coming in 2016), about my move to South America in 2011. To motivate myself to finish it, I bet a good friend of mine that if I didn’t finish the final draft by a certain date, I would give her my next pay check. If that wasn’t motivation enough, the fact that she was planning to use the money for a trip to Europe without me, was. For HOT DREAMS, I booked a launch party before the book was finished. I’m trying to come up with something less severe and stressful for the current book. Any suggestions? 🙂
What authors, or books have influenced you?
In erotic romance, Robin Schone. I just love the sexual tension she creates with just dialogue and the character’s reactions to each other, plus her interesting plots and characters and their tortured pasts. GABRIEL’S WOMAN is my all-time favorite. Suzanne Forster, Linda Howard, Karen Robards and Sandra Brown are others — I love their mastery of sexual tension in their earlier romances. I got my start writing romance by taking an online writing class taught by Leigh Michaels nearly 15 years ago. Leigh was–and continues to be–a mentor. I admire her skill as a writer–her characterization and the banter between her characters are simply delightful. Outside of romance, Dean Koontz is my favorite author. I love his characters and the incorporation of a lovable and intelligent dog along with monsters/the supernatural, to create original page-turners.
What are you working on now?
Brandon Evans, Johnny’s friend as well as one of his dancers and who provides comic relief in HOT DREAMS gets his own story in book two. He’s married and his problems, to me as a writer, are even more challenging than Johnny’s. I’m working on his book, currently untitled. I’m also working on A SINFUL FIANCÉ, which is the fourth book in the SIN CLUB series. In FIANCÉ, Caren Richardson’s psychic has told her she will meet the man of her dreams on the train, only she meets the one who isn’t The One, instead — or so she thinks. It’s more lighthearted than the HOT DREAMS series but equally entertaining (I hope), in a different way.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Due to various things that had happened in my life, I took a break from writing for a bit. My last book came out in 2010 so I’m kind of starting over, figuring out what works. My previous books were in bookstores, so most of my marketing was to create awareness and drive people to buy physical books. Even though I was relying on store sales, I did a TON of online marketing–fun reader contests, contests for writers with agents/editor judges, hosted two talk shows. But there was really no way to know what worked. So now, I’m looking at what I did in the past and what’s out here today and trying to figure out what I want to do. For SEX LOUNGE, I did an online contest where guys competed to be the hero of my book. That was a really fun contest. So I plan to do the same thing for HOT DREAMS–the HOT DREAMS Finding Johnny Contest. But I want to make this one bigger and even better and use social media more. All of this is to say I don’t have a definitive answer to this question. Yet.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Learn the craft. Take writing classes, get feedback on your work, attend writers conferences, continue to read authors you like, and of course, write. So many people seem to think writing is easy. That all they have to do is put words on paper and then find a publisher or self-publish and they will be instantly successful. While that may be true for some authors, that’s not the norm. The second bit of advice I have is, once you’re published, don’t take a long break between books and book promotion like I did. You may lose readers and the momentum you’ve established.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I’m not sure about “ever heard” but the advice I keep hearing repeatedly is the need for authors to focus on writing–writing the best books they can and having a book out regularly. Like, every 3-4 months. Since it has been awhile since I’ve had a new book out, I’m going to try to do this. Then I can report back and let you know if it is, indeed, the best advice I’ve ever heard. 🙂
What are you reading now?
I just received an advance review copy of Calista Fox’s, WHAT LOLA WANTS, which is book one in her LEAVE YOUR SHOES ON series, which will be released in September. I’m looking forward to reading it. I recently re-read Jennifer Ashley’s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE, a historical romance which features a hero with Aspbergers. Also, I discovered a new end-of-the-world series by Sam Sisvath and read book one, THE PURGE OF BABYLON, where nearly all of humankind has perished in a single night by a plague of blood-sucking creatures (the exact opposite of good-looking vampires) and a small group of survivors struggle to stay alive and search for others.
What’s next for you as a writer?
To keep challenging myself as a writer. In HOT DREAMS, I gave Johnny and Tina tough problems to overcome before they were able to love. Johnny is guilt-ridden over the belief that he caused the death of his wife and unborn child and the last thing he wants is a relationship or a child. Tina, who has a child she loves dearly that resulted from something painful in her past and has a port-wine stain birthmark covering the side of her face, hides from people (namely men) and has given up on any type of relationship. In book two, my characters have even tougher problems. Brandon is in a troubled marriage, tempted by temptations that go along with being a male dancer, and battling a physical problem that compounds his marital problems. Writing a romance about a married couple with problems, while keeping it romantic and filled with sexual tension is, indeed, challenging me.
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?
Oh, goodness. I don’t know the answer to this one. If I were alone on this island, like Tom Hanks in CASTAWAY … believe it or not, I don’t think I would want fiction books or books by my favorite authors or genres. I think fiction would make me feel worse by missing what I couldn’t have. Romances would probably make me even lonelier. Dean Koontz/thrillers/horror would make me more scared. So I’d have to say, since I don’t even camp without major assistance and thus know nothing about living without electricity and grocery stores, I’d need books on how to survive on that island. And perhaps a blank book or two so I could write. Maybe sheer boredom would get me to finish a book or journal without a deadline. 🙂