Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I write sweet Southern romance novels set mainly in the American South in the 1950s and inspirational nonfiction. In my novels, I hope you’ll find inspiration and a gentle—yet compelling—story that is intriguing and entertaining. About my nonfiction books, a reader wrote that I offer spiritual tonic and hope.
I like to laugh with people but not at people. I don’t like to see or hear about people or animals being abused. I’m a spectator fan of several sports, my favorite being tennis. My favorite vacation spot is any beach. I don’t like being in the dark and am fearful of snakes! I don’t enjoy being in elevators. I can’t jump rope. I played varsity basketball in high school. I would describe myself as hopeful, enthusiastic, and optimistic.
I was raised in Tennessee and have lived in several American Southern states. Our cocker spaniel died when she was 14-1/2 years old. The pain of her death lasted so long. I still miss her and don’t plan to get another pet–it hurt too much when we lost her.
My interest in books peaked when I was in junior high school. I loved being around books so much, I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up. I took creative writing in college and that sparked my interest in writing. My first published piece happened in the early 1990s and was an article in a denominational magazine.
My first novel published was That Summer, book #1 in the Caney Creek series, and came out in 2012. I have 14 published novels and novellas.
I have four nonfiction books published: Amen and Good Morning, God: A Book of Morning Prayers, Amen and Good Night, God: A Book of Evening Prayers, His Awesome Majesty: Praising God’s Greatness, and America: Her Hope for the Future. I’ve coauthored with Vickie Phelps Writing 101: A Handbook of Tips and Encouragement for Writers, Simply Christmas: Memories, Traditions, and Stories of the Season, and How to Write for the Christian Marketplace.
My writing career includes more than 200 articles and short stories, which have appeared in over 50 well-known Christian and secular publications including Guideposts, Decision, and The Upper Room. I’m an online contributor to Christian Devotions Ministries (http://www.ChristianDevotions.us).
My devotions appear in eight anthologies and I wrote devotions on assignment and freelance for the following daily devotionals: Devotions, Open Windows, Pathways to God, The Quiet Hour, The Secret Place, and The Upper Room. I’ve taught workshops at writers’ conferences and I wrote an inspirational newspaper column for seven years.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book, Just You and Me, is a Christian beach story of love, forgiveness, and divine providence. In this sweet mid-20th-century romance, a magnificent mistake brings Allison and Jim together, each at the beach with a buddy. An unfamiliar instant attraction tugs at both their hearts. But when Jim gives Allison a compliment, she misunderstands it as a pick-up line. When Jim subsequently falls silent, Allison determines to find a way to get him to love her. Jim has spent half of his adult life in the Air Force and will soon leave the military. He wants Allison by his side to help him with the challenges his new lifestyle will bring. But after a horrible accident at the airfield, Jim keeps his diagnosis from Allison for fear she may not want to spend their lives together.
I love the beach. My first memory of the beach was a trip with family when I was four years old. As a teenager, and because I was an only child, my parents allowed me to bring along a friend on our beach trips. Adulthood brought me trips to the beach with my BFF, and I’ve even enjoyed solitude at the ocean on business trips. I shared my love of the beach with my own family, and now my children and grandchildren take pleasure in their beach trips.
So, it’s no surprise that I’ve finally written a story with my characters visiting a beach. I enjoyed writing Just You and Me, where Allison and Jim’s adventures take place at Panama City Beach, Florida, in 1958 before the location became a favorite destination for Spring Breakers.
I began writing Just You and Me on September 6, 2020. In October that year, my husband passed away. He was a great supporter of my writing, and I knew he would want me to finish this book. I completed the first draft of Just You and Me in late January 2021. Then came the editing of the first draft and polishing the story for publication, which is more difficult for me than writing the first draft.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I need total quiet and solitude when I write. I don’t outline my story before writing it. I’m what is called a pantster–I write from the seat of my pants. However, before beginning a novel, I ponder ideas about the beginning and end of the story. I’m blessed to have never had writers’ block where nothing comes to mind that I can write about.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
As a reader, my all-time favorite book is Gone with the Wind. There are so many authors I love to read. If I tried to list them, I’d probably leave out somebody. I enjoy reading clean and wholesome romances, romantic suspense, and mysteries. When I began writing, I kept it to myself. Many people describe writers as introverts. That was me—truly a closet writer. So my inspiration came solely from God. Then I met Karen Ball—author, editor, and literary agent—and she is a great inspiration to me.
What are you working on now?
After I finish a book, I usually take a short break from writing and spend time getting the word out about the new book.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have a newsletter where I announce my new books. Awesome Gang and other websites like it are great outlets for helping to promote my books. And I keep my fans on Facebook up-to-date on my writing.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
My advice for new writers would be to have patience. Traditional publishing is a long road. That’s why many authors have turned to self-publishing. Whatever path you choose, write the best you can, stay determined, and remain positive.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Don’t ever give up.
What are you reading now?
I was excited to recently find a copy of Kelly Irvin’s first romantic suspense novel, A Deadly Wilderness, published in 2010. I’ve just started reading it.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’ll have a Christmas novella to come out later this year.
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?
The Bible, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Rooms by James Rubart, and The Familiar Stranger by Christina Tarabochia. I could read these books over and over.