May 27, 2018 @ 7:05 AM

*I believe I willed The Vet Life, reality series, into existence. Law of Attraction. The show, which airs on Animal Planet, follows three African-Americans who attended the same veterinarian school and opened a full-service vet practice together.
If you’ve read my Mistywood Lane series, you know it features three African-American heroes who went to the same vet school and opened a full-service vet hospital together. The Vet Life debuted on Animal Planet in June 2016, about a month *after* I released my first romance in the series titled Welcome to Mistywood Lane (May 2016), highlighting Dr. Gabriel Cameron and introducing his two partners, Dr. Lance Donovan and Dr. Julian Phillips. There aren’t that many black veterinarians out there. When someone says the heroes’ professions are a stretch, I gleefully point to The Vet Life. Not! lol The show completed its third season. I hope it’s renewed for a fourth. It's fun to watch and great for research. (See photo of The Vet Life guys Dr. Diarra Blue, Dr. Michael Lavigne, and Dr. Aubrey Ross) NOTE: The show is wholesome  family-friendly viewing. In my romance series, I bring the (wink, wink) sexy times, okay? lol
* I tend to prefer heroes in "regular" professions. It's unlikely you'll ever get a gazillionaire out of me. But never say never... :)
*I wake up between four and five every morning to write, even on weekends. I’m most productive when everyone is asleep, and the house is dark and quiet. I like heading into the rest of my day knowing I’ve done a chunk of my writing/editing.   I warm up by checking my email. Maybe I’ll skim a social media account until my coffee is ready. But I set a time limit on the social media part. For those days when I have writers block, and boy do I get blocked on stories,  I still get up and do something writing related. Usually, it’s research on something pertaining to my work-in-progress.

*When other people are up and about, I use a desk fan, earplugs, or Noisli (a background sound or white noise generator) to block out their distracting sounds. My office space is a loft area.  I can hear everything!
*I can’t add a word to my work-in-progress without at least a few sips of coffee. I’ve tried. Caffeine-free-novel-writing doesn’t work for me now. I drink coffee throughout the day. Right now, I’m a huge Peet's (Major Dickason blend) fan.
*As an indie, I don’t write short romances. Most are 85,000- 100,000 words. While the romance is the main story, I like to flesh out secondary relationships. Secondary relationships tell you a lot about the lead characters. I can’t work on more than one novel at a time. I’m a very slooooow romance writer. 

*I read about alpha heroes, but my fictional leading men lean beta.

*I collect coffee cups. I have quite a few favorites. Hubs doesn’t understand why I need so many coffee cups. For me, it's like having an extensive wardrobe. (Why does he have more than one watch? Polo shirt?) Sometimes I choose my cup for the day based on my writing mood. My favorite writer-related novelty cups:
Cup of Sunshine (when I’m feeling happy and highly motivated to write)

Writer (Noun) A person capable of transforming caffeine into books. Synonyms: introvert, masochist, wizard

You Cannot Imagine the Immensity of the Fu#k I Do Not Give. These days, this one has everything to do with my low tolerance for pub biz drama and author vs. author gossip --aka he said/she said cattiness and middle-school cliquishness. Still taken aback that grown folks misbehave this way. The key to publishing peace is keeping your head down and focusing on your OWN sh!t. (Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.) 

*I always try to give readers my very best. But I also know…(See  posted Stephen King photo.) Can't please all of the people all of  the time.

*Sometimes I dress for my writing mood. (Wonder Woman/Batgirl/Supergirl T-shirt for a good writing day. Slash (guitarist from Guns & Roses) T-shirt for revising or cutting stuff…get it? Slash.  (I’m corny, and I own it.) lol Warning: Anything You Do Might Appear in My Next Book is another old fave. Last year’s coolest Target find was the softest white T-shirt emblazoned with The Book Was Better.

*I’ve had two literary agents. When I entertained leaving the romance genre forever-ever to go full-steam African-African mainstream/women’s fiction/chick lit in traditional publishing, I switched to my second agent, who had more experience and clients in those genres. When indie became a viable option, I decided I didn’t need an agent. I’m solo and not shopping for an agent or looking at traditional publishing… at this point. I use *at this point* because I’ve learned to never say never, even when you think you are absolutely sure. I didn’t think I’d ever return to writing romance. But my burnout period passed. Here I am, writing romance again, but I'm doing it MY way.

*I run (or walk) for cardio health/fitness. I work through some of my most difficult story problems while exercising. Something about sweating and raising the heart rate gets those endorphins popping. Endorphins clear my head. (Yarn crafting does the same, but it’s the calmer, steady rhythm of creating crochet or knit stitches that puts me in a deep meditative state. This also allows me to think through plotting issues.  See current crochet throw project. This is taking forever to finish. )

*I wrote my first “novel” in third grade. Had a couple of Dear Editor letters printed in Right On! magazine. I won my school’s essay contest in sixth grade. At a school assembly, the principal read my piece on bullying. I was an editor on my high school newspaper staff. 

*My favorite romance tropes are enemies to lovers and friends to lovers. Of all my books What a Girl Wants,  by far, has sold the most copies. It's a friends-to-lovers tale. Eons ago, it sold the most when it was published traditionally as a mass market paperback by St. Martin's Press. Went back to press a few times. Now, it's also the most popular of my indie ebook releases. Note: The indie ebook version is updated and highly revised. Least favorite romance trope?  I think most can be executed well. Depends on what the writer brings to the table.

*Favorite snack food while writing. Cheese, Triscuits, green olives, Hot Tamales (the cinnamon candy)

* I sold the first romance (Picture Perfect) I attempted to a small press (Genesis) that specialized in African-American romance. An editor at one of the Big Six (at the time) publishing houses, who rejected that particular manuscript, reached out later and asked me to submit something else. Of course, I jumped right on it and eventually sold four romances and a novella to St. Martin’s Press.

*As a kid, I knew I wanted to write for a living. Never seriously considered another occupation. I love fiction, but I studied journalism at the University of Missouri- Columbia (Mizzou) because I wanted to write and eat…and have health benefits…. and a roof over my head, ya know, frills. For 15 years, I worked at three newspapers as a features writer. No starving artist days, thank goodness.

*I’m an avid reader, prone to major gushing, crushing, and fangirling over other authors. I’ve been known to go speechless upon meeting my writing idols at book signings.  I used to bring gifts to the late E. Lynn Harris. (Oh, how I miss his dishy page-turners.)

*With the fire of a thousand suns, I hate pushing my books or doing promo on social media. I’m a writer, not a marketing/PR pro. However, I realize the smart author -- indie, traditional, or hybrid --MUST wear that hat.  But I only feel comfortable promoting my work on this site or by purchasing ads offered by services such as BookBub and Shades of Romance Magazine, etc.  

*Every romance of mine has a soundtrack. (I’m fond of old school R&B and soul crooners while writing love stories. Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Teddy Pendergrass, Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls, Frankie Beverly, Maurice White of Earth, Wind, & Fire, Jeffrey Osborne, Luther Vandross etc. He wasn’t a crooner, but I’ll definitely throw some Prince in there. :)

*"Kitty," not her real name, is my writing and crocheting/knitting assistant. She sits near my desk, cheering me on.  (See photo where she's wrapped in one of my crochet afghan projects.)

*I don’t use fancy word-processing programs. Tried Scrivener. Twice. Other writers rave about it. I’ve concluded it’s the DEVIL. Kudos to those who have figured it out and made it work for them. I’m a linear writer and plain old Word, notebooks, Post-its, index cards, and a paper calendar (for tracking my story timeline) work just fine for me. I  use a couple of software programs,ProWriterAid and Grammarly, for novel editing. I also use Natural Reader text-to-voice for proofreading or rather prooflistening.

*I’ve never met a writing craft book I didn’t like, though I don’t always follow the advice. Obvs. I can’t give up my adverbs!  I have shelves of craft books, and I’m always acquiring more. If I could only recommend three to a newbie writer on a tight budget, I’d choose On Writing by Stephen King; Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King; and The 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction (Your Blueprint for Building a Solid Story) by C.S. Lakin.

*I’m an opinionated introvert. Oh, how I love a good, juicy debate about movies, TV, and various pop culture topics. Don't get me started on The Bachelor/Bachelorette.  Introverts aren’t shy.  Common misconception. It’s just an energy thing. How much “down” or recharge time we need to deal with people, especially groups.

*I don’t particularly enjoy writing sex scenes. In fact, I approach them with dread and tend to save them for last. I'll type "add sex here" until it's ABSOLUTELY necessary to write that part. lol  You have to do what you have to do. What can I say? Sex sells. lol Favorite scenes to write? Those heavy with what I 'd like to think is “witty” banter between the hero and heroine, especially when they're at odds. I live to write those scenes.

*Will I write your big story idea, do all the work, put it out there, and then split the profits (50-50) with you? Hell to the no. Many people have asked. Don’t. lol

*Yes, still working on Blaire’s story, the third book in my Mistywood Lane series. I’m getting it done, getting it done, I swear!

Until Next Time…:)