Where were you and what were you doing when you got the call from the editor that your first book was being accepted for publication?
I was at home. After I hung up the phone I ran upstairs to where my kids were sitting. I did a lot of jumping up and down and happy squealing before I said, “Guess what!” My thirteen-year-old son’s mouth dropped open and he said, “You got published!” After I confirmed that, he said, “Okay, when you tell Dad, you can’t jump up and down like that, you’ll give it away. You have to say, ‘It’s not a hobby anymore.’”
How long did it take to get your book published?
I started writing Three Reluctant Promises, the first book in the Mason Jar Series in 2007, but didn't get serious about getting published until 2009. I knew I needed to build my skills as a writer before sending in a submission, so I attended numerous writers’ conferences, workshops and read 15 “How to write a novel” type books. I didn't feel ready to pitch it until I attended a writer’s conference in 2010. I got an enthusiastic invitation from an editor to send the whole thing in, but I ended up putting my life on hold to help a loved one through a horrible illness, and missed the opportunity to send a revised copy in. In 2013, I attended a critique group and read the first chapter of Three Stupid Lies, (book 2). Unbeknownst to me there was an acquisition’s editor in the crowd. After the meeting, she tracked me down and asked me a lot of questions. When she finally told me who she was, she asked me if she could read the first book. I somehow refrained from happy squealing at the time, but jumped at the opportunity. Stella read Three Reluctant Promises in five days and offered me a contract.
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How many rejections did you get before the offer came?
That's really amazing. Usually authors can show hundreds of rejection letters before their book finally hits the right editor.
So how do you feel about killing a “good guy” character off?
I hate it! I always need a box of tissues nearby when I have to do it. If I kill one of them off, you know I had a good reason for doing it.
Where do you get your ideas for characters, scenes, or books?
I've created whole books based on one scene, or even a line of dialogue. Ideas for Book 3, Three Ugly Rumors (a parallel novel to Three Reluctant Promises and Three Stupid Lies) was created when I was writing a scene in Book 2. During a jailhouse interview with Tommy, (the main character), a police officer told him that his sister “beat an ICE agent with a bedpost and ran off.” From that point on I wanted to tell the sister’s story.
If it were a movie, what rating would you give your book?
PG-14. Although my subject matter is intense, I do keep it clean so parents can be comfortable with their teenage kids reading it. I do feel it’s appropriate for girls as young as 12 years old, because I believe they need to know that the world can be a scary place. It’s a good idea to know what’s out there so you can be prepared. I’d actually encourage parents to at least have a conversation about the topics the book covers so that their kids don’t complain if they (parents) set up rules like: I need to know where you are at all times. Call me when you get there. Call me when you leave etc…
What is something you’d like the readers to know about your books?
I LOVE creating characters that come alive on the page! This is hard to do with some characters who would realistically use a gratuitous amount of four-letter words. At my house we have the No Swearing Rule, so I had to be creative in how I expressed a character’s realistic word choice. Instead of breaking the family rule, and possibly offending some readers I say, “He cursed.” Or Tommy would say, “son of—” and he’s “conveniently” interrupted. Readers know what he’s going to say, but they don’t have to read it.
What are your future goals? Are you working on more projects?
I’m currently writing three more books for the Mason Jar Series—yes, all three at once. (My editor thinks I’m crazy.) Three Ugly Rumors is a parallel novel to the first two books (Three Reluctant Promises and Three Stupid Lies). Book 4: Three Critical Mistakes continues the Mason family and friends’ adventures. Book 5: Three Needy Clients reveals the secret struggles of Sammie, the human trafficking victim. Hopefully all three will be released in close proximity to each other. (Since the editor hasn't read the books yet, the names could be changed.)
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