My first book was, “The Velt Book.” It was made of felt and I’ve since learned how to spell the word correctly. In 6th grade I started a novel similar to the Encyclopedia Brown series, but never finished it. In high school I took a creative writing class and found that I loved writing. I’ve been writing on and off since then.
I sold my first book, Grasshopper Pie, in 2003 to WindRiver Publishing. It’s a children’s picture book based on an experience that almost happened to me. My daughter, Angela, illustrated it.
What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?
I plan ahead. I usually go through the story in my head while I’m driving, cleaning the house, exercising, or showering. I think through the major events and I even listen to conversations between the characters. For shorter pieces, I can usually “write” it all in my head before I actually put it on paper (or the computer screen). For longer works, I write down notes, ideas, things I want to happen, character traits, bits of scenes, and specific details. I then write the story all at once. After the first draft is done, I go back through it bit by bit. In my spiral notebook, for each chapter I write a brief synopsis, the goal, conflict, disaster, and any specific details to make sure it all makes sense and that it all relates to the overall story question. So I guess I plot after the first draft is done.
That's a unique process. How do you choose your characters' names?
I’ve used names that I wanted for my children but didn’t use. Sometimes, the names just pop into my head. I’ve also rummaged through my kids’ yearbooks.
Yearbooks! I've never thought of doing that. What type of writing schedule do you have?
Hmmm . . .writing schedule. Is there such a thing? I like to get the housework done and the kids all taken care of before I start writing. I try to write while they are playing or napping, but that doesn’t always work. I prefer to write in the morning, but some days I just have to take what I can get.
How do you handle life interruptions?
With 8 kids still at home, I have plenty of interruptions. I can’t write when everyone is home from school/work so I have to fit it in before 3:00. I just write while I can and when something comes up I deal with it. Sometimes, depending on what’s going on, I have to delay writing for a time, but that’s okay because first and foremost, I’m a wife and mother and that’s where my first priorities will always be. I will also delay writing to attend to my church duties and believe that if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, Heavenly Father will bless me with the ability to find enough time to write.
You also write short stories for children. Where have they been published?
I love writing magazine stories and articles. I’ve had stories published in The Friend, Stories for Children, Our Little Friend, and Story Friends. I have a story that will appear in a future edition of Primary Treasures as well as several more stories awaiting publication in The Friend.
What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?
I have a middle grade novel for the national market that’s been simmering in my mind for a long time. I plan to write it as soon as I write the LDS novels in my head. I would love to write a middle grade novel that really spoke to kids.
What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
I love being able to create something with words. I love how we can string words together to make a story. I love the creative feeling that consumes me as I write and I especially love it when I make the words say exactly what I want them to say.
I do not enjoy the marketing aspect and having to study the market to figure out which market best fits what I’ve written. I also don’t like the rejection part of writing, but have come to accept it.
What is your next project?
I’m working on an LDS romance novel. I’m also taking a class through the Institute of Children’s Literature so I can better learn how to write nonfiction.
What is your advice for other writers?
Never surrender. If you love to write, keep writing and keep submitting. The more you write, the better you’ll write and the more you submit, the better chance you have of an acceptance. Take classes, join critique groups, join online communities, get to know other authors, ask questions, but most of all write, write, write because dreams do come true.
Tell us about your new book.
Heaven Scent is about a gifted high school basketball player, Liza Compton, whose life takes an unexpected turn, and what she must do to still find happiness.
Here’s the back copy:
As Liza excels physically, everyone—from college basketball recruiters to the gorgeous Kyle Reynolds—seems to take note of her. Everyone, that is, except her own father. While her father is busy at his law practice, Liza learns about a strange new religion from Kyle. Could Kyle’s religion help her family? Or is it already too late for her father to make amends?
When yet another broken promise finally leads to tragedy, Liza doesn’t know if she will ever be able to forgive her father. It will take a good friend, a new belief, and a miracle straight from heaven to help Liza see that she still has a choice. The compelling story of a high school basketball star, this is a novel every girl will want, and none will be able to put down!
“She’d wanted her father to pay more attention to her, and she’d wanted her family to be like it used to be. She hadn’t wanted everything to change so drastically that she may not even survive it.”
Heaven Scent was inspired by my mother, who passed away when I was a little girl.
I understand your book is coming out sooner than originally scheduled.