How did you come up with the relationship between Artem and Ophelia?
My stories are mostly character-driven, so I usually start the process with two people I want to write about. With His Ballerina Bride, I began with Ophelia. I love ballet, and I’m fascinated with how dedicated dancers are to their craft. I thought it would be interesting to see what would happen to a ballet dancer who could no longer perform. How would this change her outlook on life and her relationships with others? What would she do next? When Ophelia is diagnosed with a life-altering medical condition, she decides that her entire life is over. Not just dance, but everything. She doesn’t believe she’ll ever experience a romantic relationship again—either emotionally or physically. The perfect man to change her mind is Artem Drake. He’s a charmer. A billionaire playboy, impossible to ignore. He’s determined to show Ophelia she’s still beautiful, still worthy of love. But she ends up teaching him far more than he bargained for.
What is your favorite part about writing Contemporary Romance?
I love writing romance because, well, I’m a sucker for love stories. It is important to write about not only what you know, but also what you love! I think that a lot of readers can relate to being in love and the many emotions that go along with it. We all love the fluttering heartbeats and feeling connected to someone. And of course, who doesn’t melt at a good happy ending? Another of my favorite things (I know, more than one…I’m totally cheating) about writing contemporary romance is the fantasy aspect. I love stories full of glitz and glamour. Stories that are bigger than life. It’s tremendous fun to take readers on a journey to places they may never get to go.
Do you have any traditions you enjoy during the New Year?
New Year’s Day is actually my favorite holiday. I’m such a nerd when it comes to goal setting. I go crazy making lists in my brand new calendar. I still use the old-school paper kind because once, my phone calendar accidentally merged with the one on my son’s phone, and it was a hot mess. He was a personal trainer at the time, and my phone kept telling me I was supposed to be lifting weights with someone. But my favorite New Year tradition includes eating a bowl of black-eyed peas for good luck in the coming year, only with a Tex-mex twist! It is called Texas Caviar, and it’s everything you’ve been missing in you life! Here’s a recipe if you want to spice up your New Year’s party! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/96563/classic-texas-caviar/
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m an only child, and books played a huge part of my childhood. I read all the time, so much that I remember getting in trouble once for having my nose buried in a Trixie Beldon mystery book instead of looking out the bus window during a trip in Hawaii when I was 13. So becoming a writer was something that was always somewhere in the back of my head. I wrote my very first book about ten years ago, at the urging of my son. He was in middle school at the time and probably thought I needed something to focus on other than his homework.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It really just depends on the book. I set goals every day for how many words I need to write, but if I’m really in the flow, I won’t stop myself from writing more. I typically spend about three months on a book. His Ballerina Bride went faster, though. I had such a great time writing this book! I didn’t want to stop. It’s one of my very favorites. (Shhh, don’t tell my other books.)
Where do you get your inspiration to write about a former ballerina?
One of the reasons why I love dance so much is that when I was a little girl one of my cousins and his wife were principal dancers with the Houston Ballet. My family used to go to all of their ballets. Every Christmas Eve, after the final Nutcracker performance, they would bring all their dancer friends to our big family Christmas dinner and I thought they were all the most beautiful and romantic people I'd ever seen. I love ballet. I have season tickets to the local ballet company in my hometown, and I was also lucky enough to see Misty Copeland perform Cinderella last month. I’m still not over the gorgeousness of it!
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
Right now, I’m working on my 20th book. I think it is important for any writer to always be learning and improving so usually my favorite book is whichever I have just finished. That being said, I do have a couple sentimental favorites. I love His Ballerina Bride, because it was a story I’d wanted to write for a long time. It has so many things I love—ballet, a Tiffany-esque jewelry store, New York City in a snowy winter—but it also touches on emotions so many of us have experienced and understand. My sentimental favorite, though, is my book Unleashing Mr. Darcy, which was adapted for film and aired in 2016 on the Hallmark Channel. Having a book made into a movie is something that every writer dreams about, and the experience was above and beyond my expectations. You can learn more about the movie here: http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/unleashing-mr-darcy
What book are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m making my way through Maisey Yates’ Heirs Before Vows series for Harlequin Presents. I love anything and everything to do with royalty, and I also have a huge writer crush on Maisey Yates. I first heard of her a few years ago when I was assigned to judge one of her books for the Romance Writers of America RITA contest. I knew from the very first chapter that her writing was something special.
What are your current projects?
I just met with my fabulous Special Edition editor in New York about a week ago, and I’m thrilled to say I’m starting a brand new series for them. For now, the series is called Wilde Hearts, but that might change. Set in glamorous Manhattan, this series follows the Wilde siblings while they try to help the family dance school survive as they live and love in the city that never sleeps. So, more ballerina heroines!
What advice do you have for writers?
My advice for a fellow writer would be to read, read, read! I think all really prolific writers started as voracious readers. And no matter how many books we write, we stay that way. Writers are lovers of stories and words. Go to craft workshops and attend conferences. Learn from others. But simply reading will teach you more than you will ever learn in a classroom.