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It’s easy to tell from your bio that you are a HUGE fan of horses. How did you first fall in love with them?
I think my love of animals was just ingrained in my DNA because I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t drawn to all the furry creatures. Eventually, my love of animals also drew me to horses. I started riding when I was about 10 years old. My parents were trying to find something to keep me busy for the summer and they signed me up for a local horse camp. I was hooked from the very first day and horses have been a part of my daily existence since then. I have so many wonderful childhood memories filled with horses, ride-time, barn-time, and horse-friends and, ultimately, that’s how my YA equestrian fiction series, Red Rock Ranch, came to be. I wanted to share the wonderfulness of horses with other young (and young-at-heart) girls. Before I had a horse of my own, I spent many hours reading books about horses and imagining the day I would have one of my own. So, I know how important horse stories are to horse-crazy-girls. As a child, I cherished and devoured horse books. And, I hope to offer that to readers today with my own horse stories.
Do you find ways to incorporate them into your stories?
So far, you will find horses in all of my books. Because they have been such a huge part of my life, I have a hard time imagining a world in which horses aren’t included. My Red Rock Ranch series is a young adult series that follows horse-crazy girls and all their adventures, friendships, and first loves. There’s cattle round-ups, rodeos, cowgirls, cowboys, bonfires, trail rides, horse shows, and general horse-fun! There are two books in the Red Rock Ranch series and I am currently working on the third. I also have a young adult fantasy series called The OverRuled Series. And, horses play a part in this series as well! OverRuled is set in a magical medieval fantasy world so horses are part of the world as far as transportation & in the royal Calvary. However, one of the main characters (Nova) has a magical connection to animals and her best friend is a chestnut mustang named “River.” I’m currently working on the final revisions of the second book in the OverRuled series (OverRun) and hoping to publish it in early 2019.
What drew you to writing in the YA genre?
I enjoy reading many genres – my favorites being romance, fantasy, and mystery (in YA and in adult), but I gravitate toward YA for my writing because I think YA is such an exciting time of life. There’s so much change and growing and “firsts” that occur in the teenage years and I think it’s really fun to explore the emotions and experiences – including all the highs and the lows. However, I do have some ideas for future adult projects so I’m not ruling out that writing avenue. But, for now, I’m focused on YA.
Do you prefer outlining or are you a “pantser” as we like to call it in the industry?
I’m an outliner. I usually spend about a month freewriting and outlining before I jump into a first draft. During this time, I free-write to get to know my characters, to get inspiration for scenes for my first draft, and to have a better sense of where my story needs to go and the main plot points. I was first introduced to this method by Alan Watt’s 90 Day Novel. If you write, I highly suggest Watt’s book. I recommend it to all my writer friends! It’s like a daily workbook mixed with an inspirational lift and it really helps me to structure my thoughts and creativity. When I get “lost” while writing, I tend to pick up Watt’s book in order to get back on track.
What project are you currently working on?
I’m actually working on two projects right now. About a month ago I sent OverRuled’s sequel (YA fantasy– sequel is called “OverRun”) to my editor and she is working on going through the manuscript. Once she has completed edits, I will dive into final revisions for OverRun and am hoping to have that published in early 2019. In the meantime, I’ve been working on plotting my third book in my Red Rock Ranch Series and I’m just about ready to start a first draft. I’d like to push through as much of the first draft as possible before I jump back into the final revisions for OverRun. I have a hard time writing in two worlds at the same time so it’s best for me to work on one story at a time. Otherwise my brain goes into overdrive – it’s like I’ve got too many imaginary friends talking to me at once. 😉
How did you come up with the idea for it?
My YA fantasy series, The OverRuled Series, started off as a contemporary YA about two witches that hated each other, but were linked in some strange way. That was the root of OverRuled and I honestly couldn’t even tell you where that idea came from. However, it’s been in my head for well over 5 years. After I finished the second book of my Red Rock Ranch series, I was trying to write the third, but I had these two female witch characters that kept overtaking my thoughts. I just couldn’t silence them, so I decided to take a stab at a YA fantasy and follow those two voices. That ultimately turned into a dual point-of-view fantasy filled with two kick-butt heroines, magic, betrayal, family secrets, and one handsome guard with questionable motives. I adore the world of OverRuled. It’s filled with a lot of dark elements, but I try to show the light even in the darkness.
What is the last book you read? Did you enjoy it?
I’m just finishing up The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvator. This is my first Stiefvator book and I’ve had it on my TBR pile for forever! Now I can see why Stiefvator has such a loyal fan base. Her writing is devastatingly beautiful. I can literally get lost in her words and I will most definitely be reading more of her work.
What’s next on your TBR list?
So, Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (seriously – it’s right up there with Christmas in my mind) and I always try to read a creepy or scary book in the month of October. I haven’t yet fully decided which book I’m going to read, but I’m leaning toward House of Leaves by Mark Z. Denielewski. This was recommended to me by a very respected reader-friend of mine years ago and it’s also on Stephen King’s recommended reading list. It’s written in a very unconventional format (on some pages text is sideways and backwards or there’s only one line on a page) and it’s about a family that moves into a small house that’s bigger on the inside and full of secrets. Sounds fantastically creepy to me!
What advice would you give to your teenage self?
Be yourself no matter what anyone says. By doing that, you will find the people that respect and love you for who you are. And, those are the people you want to surround yourself with – those that lift you up (and you do the same for them).
Okay, this has nothing to do with writing, but as a fellow Real Housewives addict, I have to ask – who is your all-time favorite housewife and why?
Yeeeeeeeeeees… I love this question! I am a huge Real Housewives fan and my favorites are Beverly Hills and New York! And, my favorite Housewife of all time is… Lisa Vanderpump, of course! 😊 How can you not love Lisa? She’s wonderfully sarcastic, has a house full of adorable dogs, geese, and mini horses, carries Jiggy with her everywhere (and he’s always well-dressed), lives like a queen in a castle, has a horse that used to be from the Cavallo show, AND she’s a huge advocate for animals and rescues… she’s amazing! I also watch her spin-off show Vanderpump Rules. The next time I’m near Beverly Hills I want to go to one of her restaurants.
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