How much of your books are based on real life?
I’m a military spouse myself, so the parts of the books about moving and the things to do with the military are based on some experiences I’ve had. The motherhood angle is straight out of real life, but I have to add–for the record–that my family is nothing like the family in the books. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Where have you lived and how many times have you moved?
Moves have taken me to southern and central California, Washington state, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, and Florida. That’s not counting the various short-term schools and training sessions scattered around the country. I stopped counting moves after about twelve.
Besides being a military spouse, your main character, Ellie, is a professional organizer. Are you an organized person and why did you give Ellie the job of a professional organizer?
I wish I was a super-organized person, but anyone who’s seen my closets will tell you otherwise! I love the idea of being organized and I think most people feel that way, too. Being an organizer is also a great characteristic for an amateur sleuth since Ellie has to sort out the clues and make sense of lots of bits of information. Additionally, it gives her a reason to snoop in people’s closets, which is essential for amateur sleuths. For the organizing aspect of the books, I rely on research and interviews. I’ve interviewed professional organiziers and read books on organization. I’ve learned so much, but I’ll never be as organized as Ellie.
Do you have any favorite writing quotes?
Elmore Leonard said, “There isn’t any secret. You sit down and you start and that’s it.”
This quote is one that inspired Denise Swanson and I like it, too: “It’s not how good you are, it’s how badly you want it.”
What advice would you give to unpublished writers?
Read. Know what is selling in your type of writing. Know what section your book will go into in the library and bookstore. Write. Sit down and do it. It took me years to learn this! Join writer’s groups and go to conferences. Polish your work. Don’t send it out too soon. Learn how the publishing business works and, most importantly, be persistent and patient.