1. Are you a panster or a plotter or perhaps a bit of both?
Definitely a bit of both. Once I come up with new story ideas, I outline each of them from beginning to end to send them in to my editors. That’s where the plotting side of my brain gets a workout. Of course, not every twist and turn of the plot is included, allowing me lots of room to expand. When I start writing, the other half of my brain—or maybe I should say my muse—takes over and the writing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants begins.
2. Which comes first - characters or plot for you?
Characters. But a bit of the plot follows almost immediately. The person comes to me first, then the situation. That usually leaves me with only the answer to a what-if question or a short paragraph or two. Then I flesh out the character(s), their main problem, and what put them into their predicament.
Most often, this brainstorming focuses on the hero and/or heroine. Sometimes it’s a secondary character, and in that case often a child. Not too long ago, I came up with a grandfather who wanted to marry off his three granddaughters. He soon took over and became the matchmaker of an entire series!
3. Do you have some kind of object or place that figures in most of your books? I use gems a lot, hospitals and caves.
Many of my books are set in small ranching towns, so I will often have scenes set on a ranch. As one of my current series revolves around a family-owned hotel situated on a ranch, I get to have fun using scenes from both locales. This series is called The Hitching Post Hotel, and the ranch owner is the matchmaking grandpa mentioned above.
Another series, Snowflake Valley, takes place in a small tourist town that caters to Christmas. Those are very fun books to write, too, because they feature so many holiday-related decorations, objects, events, and traditions.
4. What are you working on now? Is this a book in a current series or something totally new?
Actually, the project on my desk right now is both from a current series AND completely new—in the same book! The stories in The Hitching Post Hotel series were published with Harlequin American Romance, which along the way was renamed Harlequin Western Romance. My books for those lines vary from mid- to lower-sensuality to sweet.
I’ve since sold two more books in the series to Harlequin Heartwarming, which are very sweet and wholesome/clean reads. The first book focuses on a hero who had lost his wife and is raising his small son and baby on his own. He’ll do anything for his kids—except allow himself to fall in love again. The heroine has had a recent tragedy in her life, and the last thing she’s prepared to find is a ready-made family.
I’ll just add that the Hitching Post series (like all my stories) will have characters that appear from one book to the next. But each book stands alone as far as the hero and heroine reaching a happy-ever-after in their story.
5. Do you write every day or just when the spirit hits?
My goal is to write every day. Sometimes life interferes, leaving me to do the best I can or to double up on the word counts on other days. And the spirit—AKA my muse—loves lots of freedom to come up with other story ideas. Even so, I can usually get her to spend some time with me every day.
6. Where can we find you?
I have a website with a blog, plus am on Facebook and Twitter and love to chat. Also, readers can sign up for my newsletter if they’d like to get the latest news on my writing life.