About the Author
I once wrote articles (2,500+ under my byline). Upon noticing a disturbing trend--publishers changing salient facts to appease advertisers--I decided I needed something more honest. Something like fiction! LOL So I tried my hand at a novel. Pocketful of Love was released in August of '94, and earned the Readers Choice Best Contemporary that year. After that, I was hooked!
Writers like London, Hemingway, and Steinbeck were my inspiration.
2. How many books have you written and in what genres?
When Book #3 in Whitaker's "Secrets on Sterling Street" historical series and #3 in Harlequin Heartwarming's "Those Marshall Boys" contemporary series release in February, there will be 107 'Loree' books in print. I've written historical, contemporary, and fiction and non-fiction for kids.
3. What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
Currently, I'm working on two books at the same time: Healing of the Heart (#3 Sterling Street) and Nashville Dreams (#3 Marshall Boys).
Healing of the Heart is set in Fairplay, Colorado (near Denver), 1889, and features a heroine who is trying to make amends for the wrongs committed by her deceased outlaw father...and keep the reasons for her good deeds a secret. The local sheriff is mighty suspicious of her motives, even though he's guarding some dark secrets of his own.
Nashville Dreams is the story of a young woman with good reason not to trust musicians and singers who come to town to fulfill their dreams of stardom. And that's precisely what brought the hero--full time firefighter and part time entertainer--to Music City.
4. What does your writing process look like?
I use what I call a timeline to plot out every story. Picture a big-squares calendar, with boxes going across the page (each is a chapter) and boxes going down the page (each is a scene). I fill it in with very brief descriptions of what needs to happen in each scene. In the corner of each box, I draw a symbol: Heart = romantic scene; ! = action/adventure; smiley face = upbeat; frownie = sad; and for inspirational scenes, I draw a cross. That way, I can tell at a glance if I'm creating a good balance of all the elements. I never use a computer program because I find the cluttered computer screen distracting. The timeline is hands-on, and I can take it with me anywhere. I also work 100% alone, because I keep very peculiar hours and would feel guilty waking my friends at all hours of the night!
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
If I'm on a deadline (which is most of the time!), can write just about anywhere: On our sun porch or deck, in the family room, at the little table near the windows at our mountain cabin, or in my official office...balanced on my purple exercise ball.
Just as parents take extra care in choosing the names for their babies, authors spend a lot of time researching names--and their meanings--of their characters. It's rarely something we mention in our stories, but just as words mean things, so do names. Strength of character, ancestry, a particular trait, etc. If I'm writing a contemporary about a cowboy who's Irish, for example, I'll get online and Google "Irish male names." A bunch of different sites pop up, and I peruse them until I find one that provides a name that 'sings.'
7. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
I've read Jack London's stories a couple dozen times. His descriptions are amazing! When teaching a writing class, I often recommend Dean Koontz's Watchers. It's scary (and gave me a few nightmares!), but Koontz has a talent for making readers truly care about what's happening to his characters.
8. Where is your favorite place to read and why? (Can I get a picture of this?)
On the rare occasion I have time to luxuriate with a book, I do it in my little reading nook out on our sun porch. Rain or shine, summer or winter, it provides the perfect ambiance for getting lost in someone else's story for a change!
Although I've written lots of books set before, during, and after the Civil War, and stories that take place out West during the 1800s, I love the WWII era. The clothing, the music, the movies, and mostly, the patriotism of Americans is something I think we're sorely lacking today.
10. If you could choose someone famous to star in one of your books made to a movie, who would you choose and for which character?
Without exception, I've chosen a male and female star for every book I've written. For Guardians of the Heart, for example, I chose Tayler Kitsch as Asa and Yvonne Strahovski as Nell.
These days, most publishers prefer 3-5 books. "Secrets on Sterling Street," like most of my other series, fits that parameter to a T. All of the books in my series can stand alone, meaning readers do not have to buy all three to follow the story. Instead, the novels are connected by a town, a time period, an event.
12. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
When I'm not at the keyboard, you'll find me puttering in the garden, cooking or baking, or whipping up some craft or sketch. In other words, if it gets me dirty and sweaty or makes me fat, I love it!
Thank you, Sydney, for this opportunity to meet your followers! It has been a privilege being interviewed by you, and I hope everyone will find and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest so we can stay in touch!