Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I write contemporary fiction and my readers say that it should come with a warning label: don’t read unless you are prepared to invest your heart & soul. I love writing characters who finding themselves and their path in this crazy life while overcoming loss, heart breaks, and illness. My books are about family, love, & living life resiliently. There’s also a reason why my author slogan is, “Where music and stories collide,” and that’s because all my books are inspired by music and most have songs as chapter titles that influence the mood of the chapter.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is called GUARDED DREAMS and it was inspired by Luke Bryan’s “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” song. I could see the two characters, meeting at the beach house that he was painting for her dad, and how that summer would work out. As I was researching a couple ideas from that original snippet, I came across a Pinterest post from Mila Kunis before her social media sites went dark. It was about how she’d never expected when she was filming “That 70’s Show” that Ashton would one day become the love of her life. I started reading more about them and their relationship in magazines and following Ashton’s Twitter account, and they became the inspiration for the characters and the second chance love story that is GUARDED DREAMS.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
It’s not really unusual in the sense that music inspires lots of writers and creative folks to make their art. Lyrics of a song will have be pulling over in my car to write a scene (that may not even be related to a book I’m actively writing), but when I actually write, I need quiet. I need to be able to hear and see all the voices in my head without distraction.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Some of my biggest influences are Amy Harmon, Mariana Zapata, Jessica Park, and Georgette Heyer. I love that Amy Harmon can write a variety of genres and do them all fabulously. I love the character development that Mariana and Jessica put into their books. I’ll forgive just about any plot holes in a novel if I like the characters enough. Georgette Heyer is like reading Jane Austen, you love all the words and are left sad knowing that she can’t give us any more.
What are you working on now?
I”m working on a standalone, spin off to characters from GUARDED DREAMS. It’s a contemporary romance with a title that is being announced soon. In Guarded, two of Eli’s friends had a broship name of “Mac Truck,” and it was easy to see that they each needed their own story. So, I’m currently working on Mac’s story that will be about how much you are willing to sacrifice for your “family.”
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m in my Facebook Group (LJs Music and Stories) on a daily basis. We don’t just talk about my books there, we talk about music, books, and people who help us all live life resiliently just like the characters in my books. I’m also on Instagram almost daily. Plus, if people “friend” me on Goodreads (not just follow), they’ll be getting regular status updates and exclusive peeks into Mac and Georgie’s story.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I’m still new to this writing gig myself. I feel like 2019 has been a huge year of learning for me, but at the heart of it, I would say is write amazing stories, write a lot, and hire an editor. DO NOT EDIT YOURSELF. Don’t have a friend do it (unless they are a professional editor). Everything else can be fixed from there.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
The best advice I’ve been given about writing is still the same as it was a year ago. WRITE FOR YOU. Write what you love, write from your heart, and it will shine through to your readers.
What are you reading now?
I just finished Seven Shades of You by A.M. Johnson which was breathtaking. Her words are like poetry. It follows a couple of the characters from the M/M novel Let There Be Light which is was like listening to lyrics as I read it. Beautifully, beautifully done. Now I’m on to Sarah Dessen’s new novel, The Rest of the Story.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m going to work on finishing the “Broship” stories from Guarded Dreams, but I also have an urban fantasy in the works about a fairy godmother union that’s run a little bit like the mafia, and a contemporary women’s fiction that deals with a ghost that hasn’t crossed over.
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?
I’d take Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (cliche, but amazing), Venetia by Georgette Heyer, A 180 Seconds by Jessica park, and an Amy Harmon book (don’t make me choose right now because I can’t choose just one of hers).