Hi Stephanie, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I write steamy romance full of drama, suspense, twists, beautiful people, happily ever after’s, and of course some snark and sarcasm along the way!
I am a book nerd turned writer, when I am not being a busy wife and mom to five, yes FIVE, kiddos. I have always been a story teller, even as a child. I have often toyed with writing, but life always came first. Some unfortunate circumstances surrounding my health slowed me down to a point where I not only had the time, but the need to write and escape my circumstance. Irony at its best, I suppose! So here I am…an Author!
This is my crazy life, raising 5 kiddos, 2 dogs, and a husband! LOL! I am so excited to be on this journey, and sharing my stories with others! Kind of a dream come true!
Discuss your newest book.
Rescued is my debut novel. It is book one in a series of six, with a five book spin off series that will follow. It takes place in the Pacific Northwest, Cascade Mountains of Oregon. It takes place in a small town that actually represents a real town that I grew up visiting, and remains my absolute favorite place to hang out with my family!
There is plenty of drama, suspense, twists and turns…and of course beautiful people that bring the steamy romance! There is plenty of humor in there as well…I love a good laugh!
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t recall a specific time or experience that sealed the deal for me, but I do know that I have always been imaginative, and creative…a real story teller since my youth. Throughout my life, people have asked me if I write, and said I should when I answered no. Being a grown up is time consuming, it was always that thing I would do when I “had time”, or when the kids are grown. I’m glad I didn’t wait that long after all!
What are your current projects?
Rescued, Book One, released on March 16th, and has had great success…it seems everyone loves it! Woohoo! I am in the midst of book 2 with plans to release it in June. As I stated before, there are six books in this series with a 5 book spin off series – that’s a lot of books! My goal is to release a book every 3-4 months, give or take, so there is always something fresh and new coming. This series is designed in such a way that each book can stand alone, even as a series and you can even read out of order without confusion. That was really important to me as a writer because as a reader, I hate long waits! LOL! Keep an eye out for release dates!
I have several other projects that I will work in to my writing schedule. I have a holiday series, a few standalone’s, and another series brewing. After I get McKenzie Ridge going, I will start releasing some of my other work…I want to keep it interesting!!
What books have most influenced your life most?
There isn’t a single book that has really influenced me more than others. As a hopeless romantic myself, I absolutely love this genre. Romance is full of love, hope, determination, overcoming adversity…things that people can relate to! So, as a whole, I would say the genre is my greatest influence, with a several Authors really standing out. I am a huge super fan of Marina Adair, Catherine Bybee, Nancy Naigle, Sylvia Day, Marie Force, Bella Andre, Terri Osburn, and Tracy Brogan…just to name a few! LOL!
What inspired you to write your first book?
Life. Sounds cliché, but that’s my truth. I found myself in the middle of a major health crisis that really took over my life and dictated my every move. I wanted to take something back, reclaim my life, and fight back. Writing helped me do that. It was an escape, it helped me overcome a lot of hard days, it was very therapeutic. Another cliché here, but none of us are promised tomorrow – I wanted to achieve my dream, and set an example for my kiddos. So I just did it.
Much of McKenzie Ridge consists of real life experiences, places, and even people. So I suppose that contributes to the inspiration. I’ve been there, so glad you pulled through and are using the experience in a positive way.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Dawson Tyler, swoon worthy, loyal, kind, and sexy as hell. Dawson has his own demons to conquer when he decides to go after what he wants, Sam Taylor. I love that he is open minded and willing to see things for what they are, and that he is brave enough to take chances with his fragile heart. I absolutely love him…chapter 5 and 18 give you other things to love about him too. Have your fan ready though.
Sam Taylor is a total hardass that knows abandonment, heartache, and that men are good for one thing and it usually last around five minutes. Throughout the story you see her become flexible in her convictions, and leaving her past in the past. I love how strong she is, that she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to fight for it. She is good for Dawson!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t really go into this novel trying to deliver a specific message, but I think you can certainly walk away with a few. I love how the story defines family as the people you choose, not necessarily those that you’re born to, and that it’s okay. I love how give and take enters the story and finding balance becomes a goal. There is forgiveness, humanity, trust, love in different forms, and so on.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
If you follow me on Facebook, Dawson is a no brainer! I absolutely LOVE the model, Nick Bateman, for Dawson! I had no clue who he was, but knew he was my Dawson as soon as I saw him! I found out who he was much later! LOL! It’s a perfect fit!
In my mind, Sam looks like Megan Fox, but has the personality of Jennifer Lawrence for sure! Down to earth, confident, real. Love mashups!
When did you decide to become a writer?
I decided to become a writer some time ago, but picked up the pen when my youngest started kindergarten this past fall. I wrote almost every day from September until 11pm on December 29th! LOL! Boom, I was suddenly a writer!
Why do you write?
I write for a lot of reasons. I write because it’s therapeutic for me. I love to get lost in the story and create something that is engaging and entertaining. I write to be an example to my children, to chase their dreams and never give up. I write to leave a legacy, something my family can be proud of. I also write because its friggen fun! LOL!
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I think I have answered this pretty much already. It was timing. I needed to do it, to start and finish something that would help me accomplish my dreams and goals. My Grandmother was dying of cancer during this time and she told me to write and not stop…to finish it. She had started writing a book when she was young and never finished it…I think that bothered her since she knew her time on earth was nearing expiration. That really affected me, especially given my own health. I had to, and so glad I did. I’m sorry for your loss, grandma’s are treasures with wise words.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Both. LOL! My intention is to write full time, whatever that means. I always have my laptop and notebook within reach, but with the kiddos and such, it isn’t an easy gig to do all the time. I usually get a bit of time in while they are at school, and then in the evenings and after they are off to bed. I think it’s fair to say I get a few hours in each day, some days I’m on a role and it’s literally all day that I am writing. It just depends!
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Confidence. I am sure a lot of this is because it is still so new to me, but I overthink the hell out of everything. I have such vivid ideas that I want to show through my writing so painting that picture for the reader, with confidence gets me. I guess I pulled it off in Rescued; it is one of the most common compliments I have received to date. It’s so much easier to tell a story than write it, so I struggle there a bit and overthink the crap out of each scene! LOL! I’m sure it will always be something, no matter how seasoned I become.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The hardest part wasn’t writing, it was sharing it! I felt like I was throwing my child to the wolves, every step of the way! When I sent it to my Beta’s…I got sick. When I sent it to my editor…I felt sick. When I sent it to the ARC’s…I felt sick. When I actually published the thing…I pretty much had a panic attack! LOL! I was so afraid it wouldn’t be received well, and it’s actually been well loved instead…go figure! I was a wreck with my first “baby” as well, I think that’s normal. LOL
What is the easiest thing about writing?
I don’t know that there is an “easy” part. I think that there are less “stressful” parts though. I definitely had an easier time with the setting, the story line, etc. It just poured out at every turn and just kept writing itself. I got lucky. LOL.
What book are you reading now?
I am reading “Malibu Betrayals” by MK Meredith! I LOVE her as a person, and absolutely love her book! If you haven’t read her, you need to!
I also just started Marina Adair’s latest release, “Need You For Mine”. It’s the final installment of her St. Helena series…cannot wait to read it!
What is one random thing about you?
I am obsessed with bean dip right now! Seriously, I have always loved refried beans, but I’m obsessed right now. I eat it every day, literally!!!
What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?
Both! I started by writing out my outline/plotting. Then turned to the laptop to fill it all in and go crazy. For some reason, though, the laptop slowed me down. I stopped and went back to my notebook and wrote out most of the story. When it was time to type it up, I added and fine-tuned the story as I went.
This time around, I am strictly writing by hand. It’s more than an outline, but not quite the whole story. When I finish that, in the next week or two, I will get it in the computer with all the little details that come to mind while doing so. A little weird, but it works for me! HAHA!
What does your writing process look like?
I basically just described it above. I write half, type half, and the story comes together somewhere in there.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
Oh yes. I have to use a certain type of notebook, and the same pen until it dies. Nobody is allowed to use that pen but me. If it turns up missing, I don’t write until I find it. It’s like bad luck or something! It isn’t even a specific type or brand of pen, just the same pen. If it dies before I am done (which it will), it’s fine, I just get a new pen…but it has to begin and end on my pages. I’m not one to borrow trouble or ask for bad luck, so I am sticking to this method! HAHA! If it works, it works! Sacred tools of the trade are not to be tampered with! lol
How important are names to you in your books?
VERY! I named my characters like I named my children, with very specific things in mind. Is the character serious and strong; is the name supportive of that and have a strong ring? Are they whimsy and fancy free? The name should represent that too. Sounds weird, but it works. I love making up names!
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Nothing that I haven’t already mentioned. The one challenge that I will likely never find a solution to is that I just can’t write fast enough! I need like three of me to get it done as fast as I would like! There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all out! I have so many stories to tell and want to share them all now! LOL!
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
OH YES! I trusted the wrong person and it cost me a lot of time and money – nearly cost me a timely book release. This round, I am already planning my promos, release, etc and the book isn’t even done yet! Rescued came with a lot of hard lessons! Book two will be a lot less sticky, I hope! Good luck!
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
You only get one life – live it!
What is your favorite book and why?
I don’t have a single favorite. I love several, all for different reasons. One of my fave’s is a pretty popular choice though; I LOVE “The Notebook” by Nicolas Sparks! It may or may not be because it has an awesome movie too… LOL!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Chase your dream, follow your heart, and write what makes YOU happy. I am new at this so my advice is limited as I am still learning. I was fortunate enough to have a few awesome mentors that are already well established, seasoned, in the industry, and that was my take away from them! You aren’t going to please everyone, and that’s okay…thick skin is a good quality that comes with writing!
My other piece of advice, from the business stand point, would be to know who you are working with! Build a strong team! Do your research! Don’t settle for mediocrity! This is YOUR book, YOUR vision, and stay true to you. There are a lot of hustlers in the industry; they can kill your book and cost you financially…watch out for them. There are far more good, honest, dedicated people that will help you succeed…find them!!!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I LOVE the Hallmark channel; it’s literally one of the only things I watch. So I am kind of a Hallmark junky. When I’m not watching that, it’s the DIY channel, Fixer Upper specifically. I’m a sucker for the Property Brothers…
I looooove DIY’s, it’s kind of a bad habit! I paint and repurpose everything…it is kind of annoying, but I enjoy it! LOL!
Of course, I love spending time with the fam! As the kids get older and get busy, family time gets less and less. We make sure to carve out time; no matter what…those are my favorite times!
From where do you gain your inspiration?
Everywhere. Everything has a story, the lady next door raising her kiddos by herself, to the dude walking down the street that just tripped and made it look like he meant to do it. I drive my family crazy because I say, “that would be a great story”, several times a day! We are surrounded by inspiration…you just have to be paying attention.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I cannot speak to traditional methods since I lack experience there. I can tell you why I chose to self-publish though. It was important to me to have control over my book, and to learn the industry. I like being able to decide when I give books away, change pricing, how often to release them…I love that freedom.
I know there are likely advantages to traditional publishing, but none of them really appealed to me right now. Down the road, if a publishing house approached me, I would absolutely entertain it, but I am still discovering who I am as an Author and want to continue to do so, on my terms!
How do you market your books?
Social media! I am a huge Facebook junky! That is my main mode of marketing. I have several people behind me already, helping me share who I am and what I am up to…love them. The bloggers and reviewers have been great! I think this is very much a word of mouth industry, it’s the oldest and most successful form of marketing there is and I am all over it!! LOL!
Why did you choose this route?
I pretty much summed this one up above. I like the control, that my successes and failures are all mine. I didn’t feel comfortable putting it in someone else’s hands, without having the experience and knowledge I am gaining by going this route.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
I don’t use one, but I wouldn’t hesitate if it made sense to do so. I am very open minded on this journey, learning to do whatever it takes to become successful!
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Sell yourself, not just your book. Again, I am so very new to this, my experience is limited. What I am learning though, is that the readers are all about the books, but they also want to know the Author! Tell them who you are, gain their trust, and they will catapult you to the next level!
Also, put in the work! Don’t just stick it on Amazon and sit back and watch. Get involved everywhere! Participate in events; get to know your readers, reviewers, and bloggers…put in the time! I am online off and on throughout the day chatting with everyone! I love it!!! It helps me determine who I am writing for and what my next step is an Author from both a writing perspective and a business point of view!
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
A lot! I would say that I spend equal amounts of time writing and marketing! My book just came out two weeks ago so there is a lot of work to be done yet, so I find the balance between that and writing! Both are important!
What do you do to get book reviews?
What can you do? LOL! I did the ARC in exchange for an honest review, I do giveaways in exchange for an honest review, I post online asking for readers to review if they have a minute. It’s the one thing you really have no control of…it is really up to the reader. I have heard of people using other methods, but I am all about honest reviews. I want a reader to walk away with the same feeling as those who wrote the reviews that convinced them to buy it. I want reviews, but only if they are real, and honest.
If you know a trick, I’d love to know it! LOL!
How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
As a newbie, I don’t have much to compare. I think I have been successful though, considering.
Do you have a strategy for finding reviewers?
Ask. LOL. Plain and simple, I just ask. There isn’t much strategy involved. Reality is, out of all those that promised to review, only a handful do. Most of my reviews are from others that just bought the book and loved it, go figure! People are funny that way…they will blast you on their Facebook account; send you messages of praise, but that review? Crickets! LOL!
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
It is what it is. You aren’t going to please everyone! So far, I have been pretty lucky and have had great feedback, but I know not everyone will like my story. Oh well…I don’t like everything I read either!
As long as it is honest, fine. If bad reviews are written out of malice and spite…well, that is a shame. I hear that happens, often, but again, what can you do?
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
Not yet…but I’m sure they are coming! LOL!
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
As I stated above…it’s the best way to get the word out, especially on a budget! LOL! I’m not sure billboards, or commercials are for everyone!
Which social network worked best for you?
I’m pretty much everywhere, but Facebook has been the most interactive for me.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Just be you. Follow your instincts. It’ll all fall into place as it should!
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I had a really bad experience that nearly cost me my launch on time. Bad advice and learning the hard way kind of defeated my big blitz and all that goes along with it. What worked for me is being present before the release, getting my name out there. Then the bloggers! LOVE the bloggers! They came to my rescue and did shout outs throughout release week. Then the reviewers…LOVE them! They were quick to read and get the word out too! I love that part of this industry. I am a nobody newbie and there were so many willing to help me out of a crap situation!
Next round…plan ahead. Way ahead! LOL!
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
That is a tough one for me. I don’t really look to celebrity. I tend to find your average person that overcomes remarkable circumstances more interesting. That said, I don’t know who I would love to meet. There are so many to choose from!
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Ha! Anything Nicolas Sparks! His stories are great, but more so because they all turn to films full of hotties!! LOL!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Do it! You have nothing to lose! Put in the blood, sweat, and tears! Chase your dream! Even if you never become the “next big thing”, you have accomplished something many are too afraid to and it’s there forever! Don’t be afraid, make your dream happen!
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Facebook is my biggest outlet for information and interaction, but I am also on Instagram, and Twitter. My books are on every major platform, so I am pretty easy to find!