Blurb: Caroline Edwards takes a year's lease on a run-down farmhouse in the middle of Montana. She needs the solitude to complete her newest novel. Jamie Overton isn't pleased that his mother rented out the old house and thinks it should be torn down. When he meets Caroline, he's convinced this city girl is out of her element. Will those sparks grow stronger when Caroline's ex puts in an appearance?
In your experience what has been the toughest obstacle you’ve faced with writing?
In my experience, finding the time to write is the toughest obstacle. We have a large family so we have all the normal things that keep me busy as a mother, but I also write SEO web content for a living. The life of a freelance writer is feast or famine so that’s supplemented with temporary work. Balancing all of that makes it tough for me to carve out the time to write fiction. But it’s a double-edged sword, because the more work an author as available, the more successful they are so I have to make that time, because that’s what I’m driven to do and because it only enhances my success.
What do you find is the easiest?
The actual writing for me is the easiest and the most fun. My characters are clamoring for attention; they want their story told and are quite insistent. Once I sit down to write, I honestly get lost in the story.
Do you plot and outline your books or do you just go with the flow?
I do not outline or plot in advance. I have a very general idea of what’s going to happen but my characters lead me on a merry chase as the story unfolds. Plotting and outlining works for a lot of people, and honestly, it sounds like it would be easier to complete a project, but when I plot or outline, the story stalls. Once I toss out the preconceived plot lines, it flows again. So for me, as much as I’d like to, it simply doesn’t work.
How did you come up with your story?
Usually in my dreams or because of a phrase I’ve overheard. Most of them come to me in my dreams. I’ll wake up after having dreamt a complete story and scribble madly to get down the main points…sounds like plotting, doesn’t it? Really, it isn’t, because once I start writing the story, it changes dramatically from the original dream.
The phrases are also very common and are usually a collaboration with Phil. We will hear a phrase that for some reason, strikes us and we’ll start talking about different ideas. Once we have a general idea of what it should be, I write it.
Were there any specific people who played the roles of your muses?
I suppose my characters are my muses. That may sound odd, but it’s the characters that are constantly butting into my daily life and they won’t leave me alone until I’ve started their stories. As far as real people are concerned, it would be my family. My husband, my kids and my parents are enormously supportive. They’re the most outraged at rejections and the most proud at acceptances and they are my best advertising, as well. I sometimes wonder if their friends hate me or get tired of hearing about me! =)
If your main character had one day to live, what would they do?
She would spend it with the people she loves and the people that love her. Just sharing each other’s company, laughing and crying and being together, cramming as much life into one day as possible.
How long does it take you for finish a novel?
When I can write full time, it takes me about a month, maybe six weeks. When I’m writing non-fiction or working outside the house, it can take years. I have some stories I’ve started and never gone back to. It varies from project to project.
When faced with writer’s block, what do you do?
I forget how fortunate I am, until I hear this question. I rarely have writer’s block and I attribute that to a writer’s group I belonged to several years ago. This particular group was a prompt-based group so we would gather at a local bakery after they closed and the leader of the group would read a prompt comprised of a single sentence or phrase. We would all go to separate tables and write a complete story around that prompt and 20 minutes later, we shared our stories. When I was participating in this group, I honestly had no idea that I was learning one of the greatest lessons in my professional career.
When I occasionally find myself stalled, I typically look at the previous sentence and treat it as a prompt, writing whatever comes to mind. What I write from that prompt rarely stays in the final manuscript, but it does get me over the stall and back to writing. I am forever grateful to the women of that group and I miss them dearly.
Where do you find motivation?
My motivation is to make my living as an author. It’s what I’m driven to do; it’s what I’ve been dreaming of since I was a small child. I don’t want to be a writer, at my very core, I am a writer. I have no more choice about that than I did over the color of my eyes, it’s just who I am. To contribute to my family’s financial success while writing stories that entertain children and adults…really, what could be better?
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten about writing?
The best advice I’ve ever received is write when it’s time to write and edit when it’s time to edit. What that means is write the story first and don’t stop the writing or creative process to edit what you’re writing. So if I’m writing about a gun and I need to know the size and weight of the gun, I don’t stop to look up that information. I write a note, directly in the manuscript, to research the specifics of the gun and I go on with the writing. If I spell a word incorrectly, I don’t fix it while I’m writing, nor do I make grammatical changes while I’m writing. When I write the story, that’s all I’m focusing on. Editing comes after the story is done. This advice is essential, for me personally, in finishing manuscripts. Stopping to do the mundane tasks like researching and editing kills the creative aspect of writing. If I’m not creative, I can’t write.
Pick one song that best describes your book, or the personality of your lead character.
Oh wow, terrific question…a song that describes the book…I think the song that works best is “This” by Darius Rucker. The song talks about how he wouldn’t change any of the choices he made previously, even the ones that hurt, because it brought him to this moment.
Having said that, I have to address Caroline’s personality. What I love about her is how tough she is. She’s got such strength and such spunk but she’s also very vulnerable. She’s smart, funny and sassy and she’s someone I’d love to be friends with in real life.
I’ve got several projects that I’m actively working on. The second in the Walkers Ridge Romance series is about a third of the way complete and I also have the second volume of Carried Away that will be complete, probably today. Once it’s complete, it’ll be released a day or two after that.