Q: You’ve long been a fan of romance novels. What prompted you to cross over to the writing side of things?
A: In high school and college I only read text books. I was a bit of a nerd. Okay, that's a lie. I was a huge nerd, so I didn’t even get started on romance until I was twenty-five. Oddly enough, my mom, an avid reader of all romance genres, first encouraged me to write. About the time I started thinking, “I could do this,” she said, “You can.” Thank goodness too, because I love it and the hobby turned into a career when I joined Romance Writers of America in 2009.
Q: You spent some time in pageant life. What was that like?
A: As a dancer and gymnast, I was on stage my whole life, but I began competing in pageants at fifteen to prepare for Junior Miss (now Distinguished Young Woman). I’ve done everything from glitz to natural. I prefer youth development programs where talent is the primary focus. I’ve competed in the Miss America and Miss Universe systems. I have to say it was pretty cool being Miss University of Alabama, but my most memorable reign was Miss Motorsports, where I got to be a NASCAR spokesmodel and hang out with all the famous drivers.
Pageants typically have a negative connotation, but the friendships, public speaking skills, and confidence I gained make me a firm believer in the many positive aspects they provide. My eight-year-old daughter now competes and likes the fact that she has more national titles than me. She has sung in Branson, MO and opened a concert for CMA artist Ashton Shepherd. None of that would have been possible without her pageant experience. A pageant coach for over twenty years, I still get such an adrenaline rush teaching modeling and interview to girls of all ages. It’s incredibly rewarding to see one’s self-confidence grow with each lesson.
Q: What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t done?
A: Learn to play the violin, or as we say down South, the fiddle.
Q: If you cook, do crafty stuff, or have a hobby, please share the details with readers.
A: I do cook and love crafts, but considering I’m about four years behind on scrapbooking, I don’t think it counts if it stays in a box under the bed. The one thing I truly do for just me is take a dance class. I used to own a dance studio, so this is a great way for me to keep in shape and up-to-date. I’m in a class with a bunch of other teachers and former dance competitors. It’s not easy by any means. The best part is that we rock the house during recital time. Old ladies, apparently, still have it.
Q: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?
A: I’m a plotter for sure, but the outline is very vague, so if my characters want to take a detour, I’m okay with that. After taking the children to school, I go to the gym (because if it doesn't happen in the a.m., it's not going to happen), then write until it's time to return to "mom" mode.
Q: Is there a genre you’d like to write?
A: I’d love to write YA. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of teenagers either as a dance instructor or pageant coach, and it fascinates me how they flip flop between still being kids and being incredibly mature.
Q: What's your favorite word?
A: Succulent. It's both pretty and sexy.
Q: What's the favorite destination?
A: The beach. Any beach.
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