Have you always wanted to be a writer?
The short answer? Yes! I honestly can’t remember a time I wasn’t buried in books – either reading or writing them. Before I could write, I was telling stories (and asking for stories to be told to me). In high school, I co-wrote my first completed manuscript (a young-adult action-adventure story) with a friend who’s now also a published author. Now, I’m thrilled to see my stories in bookstores, and I hope to never stop!
What’s your process like for writing a book?
Because I write in more than one genre, and I sometimes have multiple releases a year, I am always multi-tasking. At any given time, I’m writing one book, researching the next one, and editing the previous one.
I’m a plotter – I like to know my characters and big plot points before I begin the actual writing. Some people talk about stories being either character-driven or plot-driven, but I think the strongest books are both. So, I spend time developing my characters (their backstories, what scares them, what they want, how they’ll change over the course of the story) as well as the plot (I begin with a bullet-point list of all the major plot points, twists and red herrings).
Once the prep work is complete, I sit down and start the actual writing. Depending on the length of the book, I might spend four to six months writing (but that doesn’t include research, plotting or editing time). I edit as I go, re-reading what I wrote the day before on each new day. I’m writing most days until the book is complete and I’m ready to brainstorm the next book!
Where do you get your ideas?
Every book is different, and everything is potential inspiration. No book is the result of a single idea. It usually begins with a compelling what if? question that drives the rest of the plot forward. But to really have the twists and turns of a suspense book that will surprise readers, it’s going to have to blossom into something much bigger than that first idea.
Still, every story starts somewhere. The idea for my Profiler series came after reading about a real-life profiler’s decades at the FBI. The idea of having a character who didn’t use the normal investigative methods to solve crimes, but instead relied on behavioral evidence, fascinated me. It didn’t bloom into a full-blown series character idea until I came up with the motivation for Evelyn Baine. I asked myself, what kind of person could look at the country’s worst crimes day after day and search for the perpetrators? I realized I needed someone with a very personal reason for being a profiler (enter Evelyn Baine, whose best friend disappeared when she was twelve).
The idea for my Lawmen series came as I was trying to develop a compelling title for a new trilogy of romantic suspense books (you can read more about that in my Behind the Series: The Lawmen Series). When I wrote those first three books, I created a secondary character I could use to spin off more books, and I knew he was going to have two foster brothers who could make up part of the third trilogy. But when the time came to write those books, I still had to ponder the premise of the next books!
How does the process of getting a book published work?
There are a lot more options now than there used to be, but I’m traditionally published, so the process I’m talking about is selling a book to a traditional publisher. It all starts with writing the strongest book you can (I highly recommend working with a trusted critique partner and entering contests or finding other ways to get impartial feedback before beginning to submit. With rare exceptions, if you want to be traditionally published, first you need an agent.
A good agent is your best advocate and it’s important to remember that although the process can be challenging, when you do receive an offer of representation, you want to make sure the agent is right for you. Good ways to search for agents who might work for you is to look at authors you write like and see who their agents are; try querying them (or junior agents at the same agency who might be growing their lists). Always vet the agencies first. When you get an offer, make sure you know what you want and if that agent is a good match (think about long-term career goals and how your agent plans to help you reach them).
After you find an agent, that person may work with you to tweak your book even further, and then it will go out on submission. A good agent knows which editors will be a good fit for your book. Once you agree on a submission list, out the book goes! Hopefully, the next step is a publishing contract! If not, then you write a new book and begin again, because rejection is part of the business, and perseverance is the best way to sell and keep selling.
How do your books connect, and can they be read out of order?
On my Books page, I list the series name and number for each book. Reading them in order lets you follow along as the characters grow and change; however, all of my books can also be read as standalones or out of order!
What’s the best way to reach you?
I love chatting with readers! You can contact me through my website, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or join my newsletter, which goes out periodically with news of new releases, sales and giveaways.