"Death is only the beginning." You hear that all the time. Maybe it is, for the soul who passes on. But what about the ones who are left behind?
I lost my husband unexpectedly in a tragic accident and now have to move back to my childhood home in New Orleans. Thank God for my friends Wesley and Paige. I’d be absolutely lost without them. As I pick up the pieces of what is left of my life, we settle back into our old routines. That is until I hire Olivier to work for me. Now my world is once again turning upside down as the people I’m closest to, old and new, shed the skin of what is familiar and ultimately redefine the nature of our relationships. Couple all of this with the return of my debilitating headaches and ominous dreams of green fire, and well, I’m just at a loss.
What do you do when what you thought you knew turns out to be wrong? What do you do when you find out you can’t trust the people closest to you? What do you do when you keep trying to move forward but life keeps getting in the way? And given all of this, how am I supposed to figure out who Charlotte Grace is now?
- Where did you get the idea for the novel?
About five years ago, I had a dream that I thought, “Wow, that would be a great ending to something.” Turns out, it was the great ending to my entire series about Charlotte Grace. At the time, it never occurred to me to write anything about it. But the dream persisted over the years and became more of something that would haunt me. A few years later, I lost my mother unexpectedly and, I’ll admit, had some anger issued about it. The dream became more prevalent and I decided to re-evaluate my life and all those things that you always look back on a say, “Gosh, I wish I could have done that better.” What started as an exercise to in some ways make a new me, turned into a three book series and a whole new life.
- Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?
When I started writing, the book was The Charlotte Grace Series: Book 1. I didn’t have a title for any of them until they were all finished and it was time to start consider publishing. And to publish, you need a title (not a lot of interest in Book 1). It was the most painful process for me because I had no ideas. After weeks of trying to figure out what to call all three books, I decided to play with the fire motif that runs through them all. Smoldering Embers seemed the best title given that this portion of the story deals with a rekindling of many of Charlotte’s relationships from her past.
- Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it?
I have always loved science fiction and epic fantasy novels and series. When I was pregnant with my second child, I stumbled upon the Paranormal Romance genre and instantly fell in love. I consider New Orleans my secondary hometown so the paranormal culture has always fascinated me. I love the freedom you get as a writer to take unnatural risks with your characters and environments, whether complete fiction or based in some fact as mine are. It’s just such a freeing experience to let your mind travel and go outside of the boundaries.
- Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?
Interacting with fans and the reader/author community at large. I am a shy person by nature and very socially awkward. I say all the time that I feel like I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole into a world that is so foreign yet familiar. I have made some amazing friends, whom I’ve never met. Encountered encouragement and support that I never knew existed, again from complete strangers. And I get to share a piece of my soul with readers who genuinely enjoy what I write. It is probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
- What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?
I just finished September First by Hunter S Jones, who is one of the amazing individuals I met during all of this. She has such a unique writing style, so southern and idealistic. Yet her characters are so flawed that you simultaneously loath and love them at times. There have been many times that I’ve shaken my head or wished I could get my hands on her characters and say, why do you continue to self-sabotage?! But they are so good.
- What is your writing process?
I have a full time job and a full time family, so writing has to be scheduled for me. I write every evening when I’m working on a story for a few hours. I write linearly and will typically complete a book in three months. I get inspiration from the world around me, a funeral, a city tour, a song, and I spend a few months fleshing out key scenes of one storyline while writing something else. In truth, I only ever really have the destination in mind of where I want my characters to end up with a few stops along the way. Other than that, the journey is a complete surprise to me!
- At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say?
I like to put something personal in my signed materials, no matter what they are, if I can. All of my signings have been from giveaways not sit-down book signings, which I kind of like. I do events, get to know the individuals a little bit. (I try to ask my participants questions instead of just answering them.) So, in a way, I know something about my winners and comment of the connections that we make.
- What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
As I mentioned before, I work a full time job. Many of my fans have said that they find it amusing when they learn I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Trade & Finance with a minor in Economics and a Master’s degree in Accounting and Finance. Not your typical education for a Paranormal Romance writer.
- How do you react to a bad review?
I do and don’t take it personally. I do, in the sense that someone found my work disappointing. It’s hard to hear something you put a lot of heart and soul into is terrible. But, I remind myself that not everyone is going to like everything and that’s why there is so much out there in the world to choose from. I’ve by far met more people who enjoyed my stories than didn’t. So in that way, I don’t. No one can please everyone, and if you are, then in my mind you aren’t pushing yourself or the envelope enough.
- How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
Since I was the first person who bought my first book, I read it! But outside of that, I really didn’t do any celebrating until I sold my 100th book. When that happened, it was date night with the husband!
He cut me off and growled, “Im iam damnari,” under his breath before silencing us both by crushing his lips to mine. A familiar burn instantly tore through me, stealing my breath as it singed my skin. I opened my mouth to gasp. He seized the opportunity to invade it, his tongue lapping at mine hungrily. My knees buckled and I arched into him, gripping his neck with hands I didn’t even know had wrapped around him. His arms supported me as his hands roved and caressed my back, waist, hips, and neck, restless in their search.
After what seemed like a lifetime, Olivier stopped just as suddenly as he had begun. My eyes remained closed as I tried to compose myself. Remembering what he’d said before the kiss, I asked, “Why?”
“Why what?” he responded through labored breaths.
I opened my eyes to see that his were liquid pools of the green fire. And not in their coloring or meaning that he desired me. Though that was there too. I mean flames. Living, undulating flames were burning in his eyes; dancing around his pupils. Holy crap! How is that possible?! All the familiarity snapped into place. The burning I’d experienced from his kiss, while exciting, was the same as when I had the fire dreams.
I blinked and they were gone. No smoke. No embers. No trace. Had they even been there? I must be crazy. It’s not possible for them to be there. Actual fire doesn’t burn in someone’s eyes. I’d had quite a bit to drink tonight. My mind had to be playing tricks on me. When I let go the image of my dreams lighting in his eyes I remembered what Olivier had said before he kissed me.
I am a lover of all things artistic. I grew up surrounded by the performing arts both as a spectator and performer. That love of creation and design is the fuel for my writing now. Being able to create and entertain is a dream come true.
The imagination is a powerful thing, able to take you places you never dreamed. I write realistic fantasy. The idea of the possible having impossible explanations fascinates me. That idea is the driving force behind the Charlotte Grace series.
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