1. If someone has never read your books before, what would be the one thing you’d hope they take away from your novels?
My primary job when writing a novel is to make the reader feel something. Specifically, I want the reader to experience the vicarious thrill of falling in love, feel each crushing heartache, and ultimately enjoy a satisfying sigh as the couple achieves their happily-ever-after. I hope to make the reader laugh and cry, because when we’re fully engaged in a story that way, we feel empathy, and we learn right along side the protagonist. Story can be a very powerful tool.
2. Without giving away spoilers, what was your hardest scene to write in Blue Ridge Sunrise?
The most challenging scene for me is usually the last scene and epilogue of the book. I really labor over those last couple of chapters, making sure they strike just the right note. I’m not just a writer—I’m a reader too—and I know how frustrating it is when the ending of a book let’s me down. I try my hardest to make the ending of every book I write gratifying for the reader.
3. How do you select the names of your characters?
I keep a “Baby Names” book on hand for that. I always make sure I put it away before we have company over lest they make an erroneous assumption!
4. Is it harder for you to write from the male or female character point of view? Why?
I actually feel comfortable writing both points of view. Of course, being a woman, I have no trouble getting into a female protagonist's head. But I also have a husband and three sons, so I think I’ve been adequately exposed to the male perspective also!
5. It’s so exciting that you’ve had two of your books, The Convenient Groom and A December Bride, adapted into original Hallmark movies.
Hallmark movies almost always revolve around romantic love, so contemporary romance novels that have lots of good “feels” fall right into their sweet spot. They also keep their content clean so it makes sense that they’d actively seek wholesome novels like mine.
6. Romances have a way of making us both laugh and cry. What is the first romance that made you laugh? First that made you cry?
When I was in the seventh grade my sister introduce me to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. That story met both of those requirements and then some! “No sight so sad as that of a naughty child," he began, "especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?" "They go to hell," was my ready and orthodox answer. "And what is hell? Can you tell me that?" "A pit full of fire." "And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?" "No, sir." "What must you do to avoid it?" I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: "I must keep in good health and not die.” “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! - I have as much soul as you, - and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I think I’m in the minority here, but yes, I do read reviews. The good ones encourage me, and the bad ones help me become a better writer. That’s not to say they’re always easy to read; a writer’s work is very personal. But the skin does get thicker with time, and I find that the potential for growth outweighs the momentary sting of criticism.