Thanks for coming and chatting with us. We are excited to get started and find out about you. I hear you are a Canadian living just over the northern border of Washington State. We’ve bumped into each other a few times at the Emerald City Writers Conference held near Seattle, Washington.
What is it like living in such a lushly green part of the country? What’s your favorite outdoor escape?
Yes, I am just over the border. I was born in Victoria, lived in Vancouver for quite a while, and have now returned to Victoria – but still held onto my condo in Vancouver, just in case I want to go back. I love both cities, and I love the Pacific Northwest. Or at least I love it for three seasons of the year. Spring comes early, all fresh and sunny and full of blossoms. Summer is warm but not too hot, and we’ve got an old wooden boat so we enjoy lots of time on the ocean. In fall, I love the reds and yellows of the leaves, and the crispness in the air, but I’m less happy as the gray, rainy days settle in. As for winter, gray and rainy is pretty much the story. That’s how our scenery gets to be so lush and green, but it can be pretty dismal for the winter months.
As for outdoor escapes, I do love the boating. It’s so relaxing being out on the water. I’m an outdoors person, at least when the weather’s warm. I suppose my truly favorite thing is my daily walk. That’s a necessity for a writer with a bad back who spends so much time at the computer, but it’s also so mentally refreshing. Exercise, fresh air, natural scenery – how can you beat that? And if I can snap a few photos along the way and post them to Facebook, even the better!
You have done several holiday themed books and anthologies. Do you have a book celebrating winter this year?
I have a novella called “Blue Moon Harbor Christmas” in “Winter Wishes” (an anthology published by Kensington Zebra, with novellas by Fern Michaels, Leah Marie Brown, Jules Bennett, and me). It came out at the end of October and is the second story in my Blue Moon Harbor series. Jillian and Michael have nothing in common—except the child two reckless college students created eight years ago. When Michael unexpectedly asks to meet his son, they have the twelve days of Christmas to get to know the adults they’ve become—adults who just might be ready to fall in love for real.
Over the years you have used forms of transportation as a theme in your books…trains, planes, and automobiles. What has inspired this use of items that get us around this big planet?
Ah yes, I wrote the Wild Ride to Love series, which is “planes, trains, automobiles, and a cruise ship” (“Sex Drive,” “Love, Unexpectedly,” “His, Unexpectedly,” and “Yours, Unexpectedly”). It’s about four sisters who’ve scattered around the globe and don’t get along all that well, though they really do love each other. When the youngest gets engaged, the three others come home via different means of transportation, and each finds a new sexy love interest along the way. I use the physical/geographical journeys as a facilitator not only for romance but also for an emotional character arc that leads to each heroine becoming a stronger, better person – and ultimately for the sisters to understand each other better and become much closer, emotionally.
In my Caribou Crossing Romances, the mode of transportation is much simpler: horses! I’ve always loved horses, so writing romances in a Western setting (a fictional community in the interior of B.C.) was a true joy. After that, in “Fly Away With Me” … but we’ll talk about that next.
Back in July you released the first book in a brand new series. Please tell us about “Fly Away with Me” - Blue Moon Harbor, #1. What makes your couple special?
“Fly Away With Me” is a “fish out of water” story. Eden Blaine is an Ottawa lawyer who works for a non-profit foundation. She thought her life was perfect: great family, great job, great long-term boyfriend. But then her grandmother died, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, Eden and her guy broke up, and she’s even struggling to manage her responsibilities at work because she’s spending so much time helping her parents. As if all that isn’t enough, Eden’s mother finds a long-lost letter from her oldest sister, who ran away back in 1969 and disappeared from Eden’s mom’s life. Mom asks her responsible, reliable, organized, amazing daughter Eden to track down that clue – to a long-ago commune on tiny Destiny Island in the Pacific Northwest.
That island is the opposite of everything Eden’s ever known – and her seaplane pilot Aaron Gabriel (yes, transportation: seaplane!) is the opposite of her previous beau, and of what she thinks she’s looking for in a man. But he’s charming and when he offers to help her in her search, not to mention teach her how to have fun, she can’t resist. Though she’s never been the type to have a fling, this seems like the perfect time.
As for Aaron, he had a terrible childhood that left him believing that love isn’t in the cards for him. He’s always resisted any relationship that smacks of being serious – and he makes that clear to Eden.
So they start out convinced it’ll be a holiday fling. But then . . . All that good romancey stuff starts happening, like mental and emotional connections on top of physical. But if Eden and Aaron are ever to truly get together, they have a lot to overcome. Not only is he afraid to trust in love, but each of them is tied to family and careers thousands of miles apart. Is their love for each other strong enough to meet all the challenges?
Well, it’s a romance, so of course you know the answer to that question!
You’re both an author and an avid photographer. Do you have a favorite thing or place to photograph? How did you get started and did anyone inspire you?
I’m a nature photographer. My father was as well, and he taught me when I was a kid. He also did movie photography (nature and travel films), and I helped him edit and splice film. I love the different perspective and appreciation I get when I view the world through a camera lens, and I love trying to capture my sense of a scene and the mood, and to bring it to life with film (or now, of course, digital format). My dad often liked to have people in the scene, preferably dressed in red or yellow. He was forever aiming a camera at me and, sadly, I’m horribly unphotogenic. Getting a good photo of me is a true challenge. Anyhow, that led me to be very camera-shy myself, and also to avoid photographing people unless they ask me to.
Authors are often times working on multiple projects and always on something for the next season or year. What’s on your writer’s calendar?
That’s so true, about multiple projects! The third Blue Moon Harbor story, “Come Home With Me,” just came out on December 26. It’s a “second chance at love” story for two single parents who’ve had rotten luck in their love lives: Miranda because she falls for the wrong guys, and Luke because the love of his life died giving birth to their twins.
Miranda Gabriel has finally hit rock-bottom. As a high-school drop-out, she fled Blue Moon Harbor and her shattered family life, and chased after love in all the wrong places. But now, as a single mom, her priority is her two-year-old daughter. Her only choice is to swallow her pride and return to the island she’s always hated. At least between working and studying, she’ll be too busy for romance—especially when the prospect is a nice guy, exactly the kind she knows she doesn’t deserve…
The island veterinarian, Luke Chandler is a widower raising four-year-old twin boys. In high school, he found bad girl Miranda fascinating—and though life has changed them both, he’s still intrigued. Luke has known true love, and something about Miranda makes him long to experience it again. Yet he’s wary of opening himself, and his boys, to hurt. But his heart may not give him a choice. And together, maybe he and Miranda can give each other the courage to believe in themselves, and to embrace a promising new future…
And, after “Come Home With Me,” the next Blue Moon Harbor story is “Sail Away With Me.” It’s going through the editorial process now, and will be released in the fall of 2018. And I’m working on the one after that, tentatively titled “Come Dance With Me”!
You’re both an author and a workshop teacher. What advice can you give aspiring as well as established authors? How can they find out more?
The good news is that, in this world of ebooks, there are many more opportunities for authors than there used to be. The bad news is, there’s so much more to learn, and so much more responsibility! You want to write the best book you possibly can, and to do that you must study the craft. You also need to know about the various options: the big publishing houses, the smaller ones, digital-only lines, indie publishing (i.e., self-publishing), indie-assisted publishing, and so on. If you’re considering indie publishing, you need to learn the ins and outs of how to do it, or how to find expert assistance. Marketing is also important, and again there are many more options than there used to be, plus a greater need to promote yourself so that readers can actually discover your terrific books. So, yes, you need to learn, and there’s an intimidating array of resources: books, blogs, writing groups, workshops, conferences. Do some online research and find out what resources are available to you, and do join writing groups or loops that match your needs.
As well as learning, practice is critical. Writing is an art and a craft, and very few people produce a great book the first time out. Keep working at it, write new material and edit it, and get feedback. Find a critique group, enter contests that provide feedback, and/or pay for editorial feedback. Strive to keep growing and improving. Think seriously about why you write and the messages you want to convey with your writing. For me, diversity, respect, and self-esteem are important themes, so they’re things I always consider when writing and editing.
Be patient, persistent, and professional. Success rarely comes quickly, and rarely is it on as grand a scale as we might like. Focus on enjoying the process as much as on getting paid the big bucks, because there are very few authors who earn those big bucks. And always be professional, in the products you put out and in the way you deal with readers, other authors, and industry professionals.
If you were to put in a raffle ticket to spend dinner with one author, who would it be and why?
I think it would be Jodi Picoult. As a romance author who incorporates “issues” in my books, I do tend to read a lot of issue-oriented novels, and in my opinion she’s the queen of that kind of fiction. I’d love to hear about her process, how she chooses her topics, how she researches and develops her characters, and so on.
What can readers expect from your books?
Character-driven stories that focus on character growth and relationships more than on fast-paced plots. Emotion, from chuckles to tears. Exploration of important contemporary issues. In “Fly Away With Me,” the issues include a long-distance relationship, competing family commitments, and dealing with the heroine’s mother’s illness. In “Blue Moon Harbor Christmas,” the issue is parenting, as a single mom is faced with her son’s biological father, whom she hasn’t seen since she was pregnant and turned down his marriage proposal. In “Come Home With Me,” two single parents who’ve both been wounded by love in different ways must decide if they can take the risk, for themselves and for their kids, of falling in love again. I should also say that, even though my characters confront some major challenges, my books are true romances and always have happy endings!
Thanks so much for stopping over and spending time with us.
Thank you so much for hosting me, and for the great interview questions.