Like many authors, it’s been my lifelong dream to write. I’m pretty sure it started in the womb for me. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I still have my childhood diary and, although I wasn’t exactly Jane Austen, my ten year old self loved to weave stories. Several decades later, and I still do!
My journey to write and publish my first book has been a long one, but it’s been so well worth the bumps, the turns and the detours along the road. I think if I had to relive a day in my life, like Bill Murray’s character does in Groundhog’s Day, it would be the day my first book was published. That was a great day and a realization of my dream as an author. I still pinch myself, from time to time, to make sure I’m not dreaming. I still have the black and blue marks on my arm to prove it!
Are you a structured writer or a see-what happens?
I think I would have to say a little bit of both. Sometimes, I map out the entire storyline before putting a single word on paper. I go through several drafts of a story and by the time I’ve completed a book, I know the characters so well that they’ve become like family to me. That is what happened with The Holiday Gig.
Other times though, an idea will come to me out of the blue. When it does, I immediately run to my computer and type out the dialogue I have in my head, and then work backwards from there. I also try to keep a journal with me at all times so I’m able to jot down thoughts at they come to me. I’m a people watcher so story lines sometimes presents itself from situations I observe. That is how I came up with the premise of my book, The Shopping Swap. It was while I was out doing some Christmas shopping.
Then there are the occasions (more often than I care to admit) when I forget my journal and I find myself jotting down ideas on Post-it notes or any scraps of paper I can find in my bag as I sit on the sidelines during a soccer game or as I wait on line at the supermarket. I’m usually scribbling my thoughts on the back of my dry cleaning receipts. You see, I have young children at home so my writing takes place any time I have a few minutes or an hour to spare. It’s usually in-between all of their activities. Then when I get home, I find myself pulling out all of those pesky little notes and trying to put them in order! It would be nice if I could read my own handwriting and decipher them. Sometimes, they are like hieroglyphs.
My favorite book to write was The Holiday Gig. I’m sucker for holiday romances. I can watch Love Actually over and over again, on loop, during the entire month of December. Oh, who I am kidding? I can watch it during the hottest evening in August!
The book centers around Taylor Barnes who has a dilemma. She is 32 and about to realize her dreams of making partner at her New York City high-powered law firm with a fancy office and a huge salary. She has no time for anything else in her life -least of all a boyfriend. Yet something stands in the way of her coveted promotion: Charles Wigs, family man and managing partner at Gotsall and Craig who questions whether the single Taylor Barnes can project the right image for the firm. Not only does her own boss question her singledom, but so does her entire family back home. When an invitation to her cousin’s Christmas wedding lands on her desk, Taylor must head back to Pennsylvania to face the music. It seems as if Taylor has to convince everyone that she’s got the perfect life with the perfect boyfriend-all before the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve. But how is she to make this happen? Taylor thinks she’s found the answer. Why not hire a temporary boyfriend to help her get through the holidays? It’s the best of both worlds and without any of the emotional baggage that comes with a real relationship. However, when handsome Hunter Ryan answers the ad for the position, Taylor finds herself with more than she bargained for.
I think I related to the story because of the pressure a lot of women face today to balance it all: a career, family and love. It can be overwhelming sometimes. This book reminds me of what is important in life and to remember not to lose sight of that.
What inspired you to write it?
In all of my books, I find inspiration in the classic romantic comedies that I grew up watching, such as It Happened One Night with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Their witty dialogue served as inspiration for the playful bantering that occurs between Taylor and Hunter in my book, The Holiday Gig. Because of that movie, I discovered that it’s sexy to be funny. To me, there is nothing more attractive than a man with a sense of humor.
I also think that Lucy O’Ball is a comic genius and I find her awe inspiring. I still belly laugh at every rerun of I Love Lucy. I’d like to think that a small part of her spirit lives in all of my female characters, including Taylor.
I also find a great deal of inspiration for my books from my closest girlfriends. I have always said that they provide me with many of the comedic moments in my stories, as well as, in my life. They are my characters-strong women who have a wonderful sense of themselves and aren’t afraid to laugh at their embarrassing moments. And we have laughed a lot, many times over a bottle of wine (or several!)
I think with any novel you write, you hope for the best. You invest so much of your blood, sweat and tears into developing the characters and the storyline that you hope people will fall in love with them too. It always gives me such a thrill when I get an email from a reader telling me how much they enjoy my books or I read a positive review on Amazon. It’s those moments that makes all the hard work worth while.
Are you working on anything at the moment?
I would tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Seriously, I just finished writing The Holiday Gig and am currently working on another chick lit book that focuses on celebrity obsessions. I have to admit I’m having lots of fun writing it! If you’re a writer, it seems you’re always busy working on a story. You always have a story itching to be told
What motivated/inspired you to become an Indie Author?
To be a good writer, they say you have to be a good reader first and find inspiration in stories that move you. I’ve been a lifelong lover of books and I admit to devouring a few of them a month (and that’s during a slow month). And, when I started writing my own books, I found tons of inspiration in published authors that weaved stories I felt connected to because they wrote about characters who were just like me, only thinner, smarter and living in a great one bedroom apartment in the city, one that I could never afford in my lifetime. I came to know and love such authors as Sophie Kinsella, Emily Griffin and Jane Green, just to name a few, because I found my laugh in between the pages of their novels. Now that I’ve been an Indie writer for over a year, I have come to know another group of exceptionally talented writers who have taken their dreams of being published and made it happen on their own. These are people I have come to admire as my colleagues and who understand the struggles (the highs and lows) of being a self-published author. They are a great support system too (think AA but in this group, we do drink!), forwarding over resources and information, sharing and celebrating in your successes and talking you through (and off the ledge sometimes) the inevitable hiccups happening along the way. And, more importantly, I have myself become a fan of their writing. They make me see that it can be done. You can write a good story and, eventually, someone will read it and like it.
How do you marketing your books? Do you have a process?
I don’t have a process. As an Indie writer, it’s important to try anything and everything. I find social media to be very helpful in connecting with my readers. I’m on Facebook, Goodreads and write my own blog. I’ve just discovered blog tours and that’s been so wonderful because I’ve been able to meet some amazing bloggers who love chick lit as much as I do! I’ve also been involved in book giveaways and book reviews. There is no secret formula, unfortunately. I wish there was. It takes a lot of hard work (almost as much time as writing the book itself) but it pays off. It’s an incredible feeling when someone has discovered your work and likes it.
What advice would you give to any writer wanting to do it the ‘Indie Way.’
Be patient and don’t give up. It’s a long process, but it’s so satisfying. It actually took me a year from the time I published my first book to see any tangible results. I can tell you, though, it was well worth the wait! Also, being part of an amazing community of Indie writers has truly been a gift. It’s a very supportive group and I’ve met some very talented people.
Tell us what you are reading at the moment.
I’m not just a writer of chick lit, I’m a huge fan of the genre! I just finished reading From Nottinghill to New York Actually by Ali McNamara. There are many chick lit books I’ve loved over the years, including Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding, The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella and Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Griffin, but I’ve also found some favorites among new authors that have recently come into the chick lit genre. Books such as Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey is a great book written by a very talented author. Also, on my list of must-reads are Austenland by Shannon Hale.
Anything else you would like to add to your readers or to other writers.
To the readers, thank you so much for loving chick lit! I owe so much to you. You took a chance and downloaded my books. Your support means so much to me.
To other Indie writers, thank you for living the dream. You’ve been such an inspiration to me.
Thank you, Vicky for interviewing me. It’s been a fun experience and I thank you for the opportunity.