I was born in Texas, grew up in Georgia and now call Nashville, TN home. For the past 20+ years, I’ve worked at a major university medical center as a research coordinator. Writing is a major part of my day job, but it is far from creative.
Early in our marriage, my husband decided he wanted to join a band. He suggested that since he might be gone a lot on the weekends, I should find a hobby. I was in the process of learning more about the American Civil War and an idea for a novel grabbed me. I worked on that novel for the next several years. It got some attention, but it’s been shelved. Maybe someday, I’ll dust it off and see if there is any interest. I put writing on hold when I had my daughter because there are only so many hours in the day. I even enrolled in nursing school a few years ago. I had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment and decided I missed creative writing, so I withdrew from school and delved back into writing novels. I have no regrets.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My debut YA novel is called Tuned Into You. I guess the inspiration came from a slew of ‘what if’ questions back and forth with some writer friends of mine. It grew from that. I know that sounds so dull, but it’s the truth.
How would you categorize your book?
My novel is Young Adult Contemporary Romance.
Introduce us to your book's lead protagonists.
Lydia is a feisty preacher’s kid (the youngest of four). She’s a kick-butt fast-pitch softball pitcher. Many preacher’s kids have the reputation that they are wild and crazy, so classmates have this opinion of her. But she is nothing like that. She’s completely focused on getting a softball scholarship to her dream college when she meets Abe. He’s Nashville Teen Idol winner and has been on tour living the dream for the past year. He can’t seem to stay out of trouble and fame has worn him out. He’s decided to take the summer off to chill and let all the rumors about him die down. Throwing a party on his family farm and getting arrested alongside Lydia isn’t part of the plan.
Tuned Into You is an enemies to friends to lovers story with family drama thrown in there. It’s sweet and hopefully the reader will think there are some funny moments.
How did the book come to be titled?
The entire time I was writing the book, the title was Second Base since Lydia was a softball player. I pitched it to agents and publishers and even some twitter contests under this title with some interest. It wasn’t until I met Kelly Ann Hopkins online and received a query critique from her that the title changed. She thought my title didn’t capture the true essence of the story and suggested the title change. Thanks Kelly!
Tell us more about the cover design. How involved were you with creating the cover?
The cover is awesome. Anita Carroll has the Midas touch! (BookFish Books and http://race-point.com/) I love every cover she has designed and each time another cover reveal was announced, I would think, ‘I can’t wait to see what she has in store for me.’ I threw out some ideas to her and some sample pictures and she ran with it. I am so happy with it. Anita rocks!
Tell us something about your book that isn't mentioned in the synopsis.
My main male character is a singer songwriter, so one way he tries to get Lydia to forgive him is to write a song for her. (I know… sigh!) The lyrics I wrote were terrible. I mean awful doesn’t come close to how bad they were. Thank goodness I live with a songwriter and he helped me out. It sounds so much better. Thanks, Mick!
Give us a summary of your book in a tweet.
Abe may be a hotshot on stage, but it’s gonna take more than a perfect pitch to win over Lydia.
How much of your experience is in your book/series?
My of my best friends growing up was a preacher’s kid / softball player. Some of her personality came into play when I was creating Lydia.
Describe your writing process.
I’m old school. I love writing in a notebook first and then transcribing it into Scrivener. If you haven’t used that program, check it out. It’s very powerful. After I write a few chapters, I’ll ‘compile’ them into a Word document to print. I know, I kill a lot of trees, but I love to take red and blue pens and go to town with editing. I guess I type so fast, if I go straight from mind to laptop, it sounds like a third grader wrote it.
Describe your writing environment.
It’s hard to find lots of uninterrupted time to write. Working full time, laundry, exercise, having a kid, a dog, a husband, a house, a yard….. you get the picture. There’s always something that has to be done. I do a lot of writing on my lunch breaks at work (especially when the students are gone for summer break – yay). In the spring / summer months, I will sit out on my screened-in porch and write until I have no daylight left. My writing buddy (Daisy Mae) keeps me company.
How much research did you put into your book?
Since I live in Nashville, I know the area quite well, so I didn’t have to do much research into the ‘world.’ And the same goes for the music business. My husband is a musician – need I say more? One of my best friends growing up was a feisty, tomboy preacher’s kid. A lot of her personality went into creating Lydia. I’m extremely allergic to horses so I had to rely on my friend Jen Buynitzky who grew up surrounded by horses. She gave me the details on colic!
What are your hobbies, interests outside of writing?
Outside of reading and writing, I love to workout. I was a competitive bodybuilder back in the 80s and even though I haven’t competed in decades, I still train pretty hard. My husband and I work out most mornings (5 AM) in our gym at home. I also love to garden, but I don’t think I’m very good at it. I love taking my dog, Daisy Mae for walks. Camping is a family interest. I love photography, but again, I don’t think I’m very good at it.
What is the best advice received as an author?
Writing a book is a lot like being pregnant. Everyone is eager to give you advice. Most of the writing advice I received was so helpful, it’s really hard to tease out one as being the best. I guess if I had to, I would say that so many authors stressed the importance of having great cover art. I think Anita Carroll knocked it out of the park with Tuned Into You!
What is the harshest criticism?
The harshest criticism I think I’ve received was for my adult contemporary novel. An editor said, he thought the story was boring. Ouch! I’m not sure if I’d rather receive a form letter or no letter at all. That rejection hurt. I got another after having full manuscript. The agent just didn’t like the story. Stick a knife in my heart and twist it.
What advice might you give aspiring authors?
No story will appeal to everyone. If you have a story to tell, tell it. There are others out there that will want to read it. Also, there is not only one way to the prize. There is the agent route, there is going straight to publishers (which is what I did). There are small presses and larger ones. There is traditional publishing and there is indie publishing. All are legitimate avenues for an author. Don’t be too focused on one way because a path may be opening up right in front of your eyes and you certainly don’t want to miss it.
What types of genres do you read now for pleasure?
I read a wide variety of genres. Chic-lit, dystopian, some sci-fi, MG, YA, NA, adult. I’m not a fan of paranormal, but I’ve found some to be quite good. I love characters that won’t let me get a good night’s sleep until I finish the book and stay with me for a long time after ‘the end.’ Authors like Tracie Bannister, Jennifer Peel, Melanie Marks, Anna Katmore, Monique McDonell, and Cassie Mae are masters of that. If I could write half as good as they do, I’d consider myself a great writer.
What is next for you?
I just finished a YA novel that I think is different from others out there right now. It’s a cross between If I stay / It’s a Wonderful Life and The Breakfast Club. It’s in the editing phase right now and can’t wait to get that out there for the world to see.
I’m also working on another book with the characters from Tuned. (West and Camille’s story), but it is in such a pathetic draft form, I wouldn’t dare even share the plot yet. I have an adult contemporary romance I’ve been submitting also.
And, I have five screenplays I wrote several years ago I would love to convert to novels. I don’t have enough hours in the day to get all my ideas down on paper. It’s such a wonderful problem to have.
Back Cover Blurb
A summer party is the last place Lydia Flowers wants to be. Beer pong? Stupid, foot-wrecking shoes? Random hookups? No thanks. Lydia would rather be in her cleats practicing her bat handling skills.
Enter Abe Fischer, the Nashville Teen Idol superstar. He’s a lip-syncing party animal with a short fuse; or at least that’s what the tabloids say. Except, Abe turns out to be nothing like the guy Lydia’s read about online. He’s sweet, and the way he talks to his horse…sigh.
Then life throws Lydia and Abe a curveball. They are wrongfully arrested for destruction of property. Their choices? Either work on the Fischer Farm for the summer earning nothing more than blisters and a sunburn, or have the arrest go on their records, which would ruin Lydia’s shot at a softball scholarship. It’s a no-brainer. Lydia picks up a pitchfork, pulls out the SPF 40, and prepares for the worst two months of her life.
When the press gets wind of a big secret Abe’s family has been keeping, things become even more complicated. Now Lydia has another choice to make: stick around for Abe’s messed-up life in the spotlight, or go for the scholarship of her dreams.
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