Before we begin why don’t you tell us about yourself…
I’m a Jersey Girl through and through. I was born and raised there until I moved down to North Carolina with my husband and eldest daughter in 1995. We actually moved down here for his job, but also because we were big NASCAR fans. I still watch some races today, but my heart belongs to football.
Do you write under any other names?
No, I do not.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently finishing the final chapters of the second and final Hart of Seattle novel, New Beginnings. I’ve also begun working on another unrelated book titled Picture Perfect.
How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles?
I currently only have one book published. It is the first book in the Hart of Seattle series, Starting Over.
Ella Martin was devastated by the events surrounding her divorce. Determined to start over, she relocates from New Jersey to Washington to be a photographer with her longtime friend, Renatta. Having been emotionally scarred by her ex-husband’s betrayal, Ella didn’t believe she would ever be able to trust another man again. Then she met Xavier Hart, a successful CEO of an investment firm. She soon discovers that she cannot resist the dangerously handsome Xavier. But her struggles with her intense jealousy and trust issues start to clash with his controlling tendencies. As their relationship develops, she discovers the reason for his controlling nature over her and his desperate need to keep her safe. When her ex-husband suddenly relocates to Washington, her past and present collide in a dangerous way.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always loved writing. I started with writing poetry in high school. Then my letters to friends were always in such detail that they would constantly tell me that I needed to write a book, but to me that seemed like an impossibility. It wasn’t until I got laid off from work in 2009 that I really started to think about it seriously. I looked into classes at my local community college and signed up for a few. The first class I took, the last assignment was a 500-word document. That’s how Starting Over began. The first 500 words of chapter one is what I submitted as my final assignment.
Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?
I don’t believe I could say I have any kind of specific writing style as of yet. There is a lot of me in Ella’s character in Starting Over because I honestly did not intend for the story to develop like it did. It was only supposed to be a 500-word assignment for my class, but the story grew rapidly once my assignment was finished.
How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?
I was stumped with a title for the book until weeks after it was finished. I only knew I wanted it to be short and simple. I also had plans for the second book by this time, and I wanted the two titles to compliment each other. The whole premise behind the first book is Ella’s second chance at romance. That was one title I threw around. Second Chance or Second Chance Romance. But in the end I went with Starting Over, because basically that is what Ella is doing in the first book. She is starting her life over with a new man in a new relationship in a new city. Once I had that figured out, I immediately knew I wanted the second book to be titled New Beginnings, because there are several new beginnings that Ella and Xavier have together as a couple.
Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?
With Starting Over, I would have to say that it’s about abuse and what effects that it can have on someone. Ella wasn’t physically abused, but she was verbally abused by her husband, and it caused her to feel insecure about herself and her looks. It was difficult for her to grasp why such a gorgeous man would be interested in her when she didn’t find herself to be attractive at all. Those insecurities also come into play when she sees Xavier with ex-girlfriends, who she believes she can’t even hold a candle to. This also fuels her jealousy. Ella was as a jealous person to be begin with, but that jealousy only intensified once she learned about her ex-husband’s affair.
How much of the book is realistic/true?
Other than some likes and mannerisms of Ella’s that were modeled after my own, and the friendship between Ella and Renatta, which was loosely based on a friendship with my own BFF, nothing else about the book is true.
Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No. I have never been divorced. I am married to my high school sweetheart, and neither one of us have ever had an affair or been abused in any way.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Twilight. I have always loved all things vampire, and my eldest daughter encouraged me to buy the paperback when it was first released. But I’ve never been a reader. It sat around for a good two years before I finally picked it up. It was a very stressful time in my life and I was not in a good place. But the book sucked me in immediately. I read the first three in a week and went to my first ever midnight release book party when Breaking Dawn came out. Those books turned this nonreader into an avid reader. Now, if I’m not writing, I’m reading. But most importantly these books pulled me back from the ledge my life was teetering on.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?
Stephanie Meyer. Maybe because her’s were the first books that started my reading obsession, but one of the reasons why I loved them so much was because they were written from Bella’s POV. It allowed you as the reader to be Bella, and I wanted readers to be able to experience Starting Over the same way. I hope I succeeded.
What book are you reading now?
I am currently rereading Michelle Valentine’s Black Falcon series in preparation for the release of Rock The Beat, which is due out the last week of October.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My BFF, Benora. She has always been there for me with words of encouragement when I felt like quitting and laughs when I felt like crying. She was the first one I sent my manuscript to outside of family.
Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?
Writing can most definitely be a career. For me, it’s currently more like a hobby, but it’s my dream to be able to make a career out of writing.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t believe I would. It took me five months to write the book, but seven before I published it. During those seven months, I was constantly making changes. I sent it to friends and family and made changes based on their feedback as well as feedback from beta readers. It took several months before I was finally comfortable and proud of the finished product.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I started writing poetry back in high school, but I always enjoyed writing detailed letters to friends. I also loved writing essays in school and lengthy reports on books or other subjects in school, and I always got good grades on them.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
I have several teasers/excerpts from both Starting Over and New Beginnings on my Facebook author page. Links are here:
I have also posted one for Picture Perfect here:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=541626309248637&set=a.541626432581958.1073741837.472914179453184&type=3&theater
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The one particular challenge I came across was sex scenes. I questioned how far I wanted to take it and whether I could even write a detailed scene if I decided I wanted it to go that far. But I went with what felt right as I wrote Starting Over. In New Beginnings, I get a little more detailed as I become a little more familiar with writing such scenes, but again I’m going to go with what feels right. Same being said for Picture Perfect, but I do find them to be challenging because they are emotionally driven scenes.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I can’t say that I have one favorite, because I have many favorites, all of who are romance authors. I would have to say my favorite at this moment is Olivia Cunning. I love her Sinners On Tour series. She describes the band members with such detail you can easily picture them. When she writes a concert scene, you can almost hear the crowd cheering or the dueling guitars playing or the drummer banging out his solo. The characters are well-written and real people with real problems and challenges. You almost feel like you are right on the tour bus with them. And I love how each book was dedicated to one band member, but yet all five flowed together in a big story about all of them. I will admit that I have read this series numerous times!
Who designed the covers of you books?
Arijana Karcic with Cover It! Designs designed the cover for Starting Over, and I will also be working with her this week on the cover of New Beginnings. She is very talented and so easy to work with. We literally designed the cover for Starting Over in a matter of hours. I gave her a general idea of what I wanted the cover to look like and she delivered on the first design.
What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?
The hardest part came after the initial writing was done. I spent months making minor changes here and there thinking I was never going to get to the point where I was okay with it. Every time I opened the document and began proofreading it, I would find something I wanted to change. This happened right up until the night before I submitted the manuscript for formatting.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
You can do it!! The classes I took were all online and inexpensive, but they were informative and helped me tremendously on getting started. I also read a lot. On average, I read three to four books a week. All romance novels. I like to be familiar with what is out there and what people are reading.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Starting Over wouldn’t have any kind of success if it weren’t for people reading it and recommending it. I have gotten many messages on my Facebook page from people telling me how much they loved Starting Over and how they can’t wait for New Beginnings. I can’t even express how happy that makes me feel, and it’s a great motivator!
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life?
I can’t say that I faced any real challenges while writing Starting Over. I knew I wanted to use places that actually existed, because I loved that about The Twilight Saga. So the biggest challenge I faced was having never been to Seattle. But with some research and a lot of visits to Google Maps, I was able to gain knowledge about where I wanted my story to take place.
What character from your writing is your favorite and why?
Ella is my favorite. She dealt with an abusive marriage and a difficult divorce, but was strong enough to walk away from it. When she realizes that it all effected her in ways she didn’t even realize, she struggles to overcome her jealousy, mistrust, and lack of self-esteem and self-confidence.
Additional Information you’d like to share:
Want to be interviewed by me and featured on my blog?! Click here to find out how!
Blog Tour Schedule: http://bit.ly/19p7Vv7