1) Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing in general
I've been writing as long as I've been able to hold a pencil. I've always had an interest in romance, but I didn't read my first “trashy” romance until I was seventeen. After I finished, I thought to myself "Hey, I could do this." So I began writing romantic short stories, and after I discovered the great market for the good bits (a.k.a. the sex) I dove into the world of erotica and had several short stories published. Westridge is my first publication that I can say has more plot than sex, and it's my favorite piece of writing so far.
As for my non-writing persona, I'm living in Delaware with my amazingly supportive fiancé. I graduated from college last year with a degree in English Literary Studies, and now I'm working at a bookstore. I'm paying my bills, getting married next year, and writing. So everything's pretty peachy at the moment. :)
2) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I was probably eighteen when I realized it might be a possible career goal. I knew I couldn't make a living off of poetry (although I still enjoy writing it), but once I found romance, I knew I'd found a doorway into doing what I love for a living. I always knew I'd write, even if I had to have a day job, and that's where I'm at right now—holding down a job at the bookstore and writing on the side. But I'm still hoping to work my way up, get that bestseller, and be able to concentrate solely on writing.
3) What or who inspires you most in your writing?
My fiancé taught me everything I know about love and romance, so I supposed I have him to thank for most of it. I'm often inspired by music ("Mary's Song" by Taylor Swift inspired Westridge), and I often look to other writers to keep my confidence up. If they can do it, I can do it, right? And I have to give some credit to Carly Phillips, of course, since her book, The Bachelor, was the first romance novel I ever read.
4) What has been the highlight of your career as a writer so far?
I just found out last week that Westridge will be going into print! Knowing that I'm going to be able to hold my very own book in my very own hands is absolutely amazing. There's nothing like it.
5) When you're not writing, what books do you like to read?
I try to switch between light and heavy reads. I might read a romance, then Alice Wonderland or The Lord of the Rings. I'm a big fan of the Sci-fi/Fantasy genres. Right now, I'm reading Kushiel's Dart. Next on my list is Lucky Charm by Carly Phillips, then Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.
6) Tell us about your latest release - Westridge.
Westridge is about childhood sweethearts reuniting in a small town, and writing it helped me to cope with the homesickness I felt while I was away at college. I did everything I could to capture the feel of the American small town and the love I feel for my own tight-knit family. Here's the blurb:
Gabby Jones and Jason Dawson were born only months apart in the small, country town of Westridge. For the next eighteen years, they were inseparable, but after their high school graduation, Gabby got on a bus to the city, leaving Jason with a weak explanation and a broken heart. After five years of making it a point to avoid her old flame, Gabby comes home for a funeral and, thanks to meddling parents and circumstance, she and Jason are thrown together again.
But now Jason is an auto mechanic with an ex-wife and a daughter, and Gabby owns a successful flower shop in the city. Even if Gabby is able to admit she still loves Jason, and even if Jason is able to convince her to tell him the real reason she left, will they be able to get past the changes and broken pieces in time to start over?
7) What are you working on now? Any other new releases coming up?
A short, paranormal ebook of mine called Strangers was published by New Concepts Publishing on June 3rd. I've had a busy month! I'm in the process of editing two novels, but there's no release date for them yet. The best way to stay updated on my writing is to follow my blog:
I'm also running a contest at the moment, in celebration of Westridge's release. So click on the "Contests" tab to find out how you can win a Country Chic gift set from Bath & Bodyworks. :)
Read on below for an extract from Westridge!
"What do you mean you can't pick me up?" Gabby Jones asked in disbelief, trying to balanceher purse, suitcase, ticket, and cell phone as she boarded the bus.
"I'll send someone to get you. I'm busy helping with the funeral arrangements," her mother replied.
"What about Dad?"
"He's busy, too. We'll send someone."
"Mom," she said unhappily. "I know who you're gonna send. You can't."
"Oh, you're gonna have to see him at the funeral, anyway. And just because you disowned all of your friends when you moved away doesn't mean I have to."
Gabby had left the small town of Westridge five years ago. In Westridge, the nearest mall was forty-five minutes away, and "got stuck behind a plow" was the most common excuse for tardiness. The kids hung out at Walmart or the diner during their downtime and talked about how they couldn't wait to get away from the stupid small town where everyone knew everyone else's business. They didn't want to be stuck in the same routine, seeing the same people their whole lives, and Gabby had felt the same way — trapped, bored, insignificant. At least, that's what she'd told Jason two days before getting on a bus to the city and not looking back.
Ever since, she'd made a point of avoiding her old friends whenever she returned to visit her parents. Of course, her mother always updated her on Jason whether Gabby wanted to hear it or not. Mrs Jones had complained about the girl Jason dated after Gabby, discounted their quick marriage, gushed over their new baby, and gloated when they got divorced just a year after her birth. It had hurt Gabby to hear the news, but there was no way she'd ever admit it to her mother. Gabby tolerated her mother's gossip and was grateful she'd managed to avoid her high school sweetheart in person, if not in conversation. But this visit would be different.
Her parents and Jason's had been best friends since high school, and none of them made a secret of wishing Gabby and Jason would get back together. Sending him to pick her up today was a perfect setup. For them. Gabby rolled her hazel eyes in annoyance, even though her mother couldn't see.
"I didn't disown anyone," she said. “I just went on to bigger and better things. People drift apart. It happens."
She found her seat and threw her bags onto the rack above it. Her neighbors didn't look particularly happy about the twenty-three year old talking away on her cell phone, but she ignored them.
"Bullshit," Mrs Jones admonished. Only her mother could make cussing sound like a gentle, motherly act. "You loved it here. You were perfectly happy until—"
"Mom!" Gabby interrupted, not wanting to hear what her mother would say next.
She'd become a master of denial over the years and couldn't handle anyone breaking through the fog of her self-induced memory loss. Her mother sighed. It was a heavy sound, and Gabby didn't like it. It made her seem old.
"You're right. It's fine," Gabby's voice softened. "I'll have to see him soon, anyway."
"It'll be okay, baby. I love you. I have to go now."
"Love you, too, Mom."
She snapped the phone shut and leaned her head back against the seat, closing her eyes to fend off a tension headache. But all she could see was an eighteen year old Jason: blue eyes full of disbelief, face pale, fists balled.
* * * *
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Jason demanded, slamming the door to his truck shut.
Gabby had to work hard to keep her chin raised and her lips from trembling.
"Just like that? And all I get is a note in my locker on the last day of school?"
He threw a crumpled piece of paper at her feet. Her parents had dropped her off at the bus stop, but they were long gone. If that goodbye had been painful, this one would be excruciating — which was exactly why she'd tried to avoid it.
"I told you in the note—"
"And now you can tell me to my face."
He was making a scene. Gabby was embarrassed, and the tears she'd tried desperately to keep at bay burned in her eyes.
"There isn't anything to do in this town. I just need to see what else is out there."
"This is bullshit, Gabby. A few months ago, we were talking about getting married."
Her voice rose as she lied desperately through her teeth, trying to keep control.
"Well, I changed my mind."
The bus pulled up, and Jason's anger turned to pleading.
"Don't, Gabby. If you need some time away from this place, I'll go with you."
"You belong here, Jason."
"I belong with you."
Then she turned and boarded the bus, ignoring the stares. She managed to hold the tears back until he was out of sight.
* * * *
The pain of the memory was scorching, surprising Gabby with its intensity. She opened her eyes. She had to get a hold of herself. She looked past the old man reading a magazine, her gaze falling on the houses outside. They were reaching the suburbs, but her destination lay far beyond that. Gabby groaned and firmly pushed the last image she had of her high school sweetheart out of her mind. The next few days were going to be hell.