How do you come up with ideas?

My best ideas arrive randomly, usually between the hours of midnight and 3 A.M. Seriously, I wish I was kidding!

Just as I close my eyes and begin drifting off to sleep, characters spring to life, talking to each other and acting out scenes. No matter how many times I plead with them to let me sleep or warn them of dire consequences if they don't immediately quiet down, my nocturnal friends keep going blah, blah, blah until I finally surrender and write down everything they want to tell me. I've learned to scribble reasonably well in the dark, so at least I don't have to turn on the light or get out of bed each time this happens.

What do you like best about writing?

Looking at a blank page and feeling excited about the potential for truly great writing. You know, unforgettable characters that courageously press through overwhelming obstacles on a quest for truth and justice. Something magical happens when every detail flows together in precisely the right way.

What do you like least about writing?

Looking at a blank page and panicking about the potential for truly horrible and embarrassing nonsense that no one will ever want to read!

Will you come to my school?

That would be fun! Ask your teacher, librarian, or principal to contact me and we'll try to set that up.

Are you going to make your books into movies?

I would love to make a movie! (I'd love to be a singer too--that's another story) but it's enough of a challenge to fit writing and running a business into each day. I know some folks who do this sort of thing so, when each book is finished, I'll ask them to check it out. Hopefully, they'll agree that my novels would make perfectly awesome movies!

Are the characters in your books based on real people?

What? My characters aren't real people? Shocker! When I'm writing a novel, I become so involved with my characters that I tend to talk about their choices and challenges incessantly. On more than one occasion, friends and family members have looked at me strangely and asked, "Now, who is this you're talking about?"

I want to be a writer. What should I do?

Continuously strengthen your skills by taking classes and attending writers conferences. Read blogs and books on writing. WRITE! Then rewrite, rewrite and rewrite some more until your work is polished and ready for submission. The road to publication is often a long journey rather than a short leap so, if you genuinely love to write, keep learning, keep refining and never, ever, ever give up. You can do it!

Did you always want to be a writer?

In elementary school, I was mesmerized when my teacher read aloud from E. B. White's Charlotte's Web and C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

My favorite school assignment of all time was when my third grade teacher instructed us to select one of six large photographs and write a story about the scene. Absolute Bliss! I loved writing these stories even more than candy. (I'm weird, I know.)

So, YES! When I write my deepest passions collide to form a perfect storm of happiness in my soul.

What is your writing day like?

It's probably not what you think. I don't roll out of bed around noon and then sit at my laptop pounding out words all day while wearing pajamas. I'm easily distracted so, unless I discipline myself to stay focused, all will be lost!

Usually, I get up early just like any other work day, read scripture and a devotion message while enjoying breakfast, then head upstairs to my laptop for a full day of research, writing, and marketing. If I hit a wall and can't think of what comes next, I'll take a walk around the lake to reset my mind.

Is it hard to write a novel?

Reading a great book is a whole lot easier than writing a great book. I struggle to turn off my imagination when I leave my computer. This leaves me with one foot in the real world and the other in a world that exists in startling clarity only in my own mind. Regardless of what others may tell you, it's extremely difficult to function effectively in two places at once!

What do you do when you're not writing?

I own a staffing firm that helps people find jobs so that keeps me pretty busy. When I'm not working there or writing, I love reading, spending time with my husband and family, traveling, working out (when I'm motivated), shopping, and watching crime dramas on TV. I also enjoy movies with a strong character-driven plot and a redemptive ending that prompts me to examine my own choices and motivations.

Why do you write MG mysteries?

Developing a mystery plot is similar to choreographing a dance (I'd like to be a dancer too--yet another story) with each step carefully chosen to entertain and generate the most intense reaction from the audience. Bottom line: they are just flat-out FUN to write!

Serious Reason: I write to encourage, strengthen and inspire young readers because I appreciate the difficulty of making the transition from child to adult with the mind, body, and soul intact.

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