If you weren’t a writer you’d be…?

Either a crime-fighting vigilante or starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

What? Oh, we’re talking about reality here? Okay then, a child development researcher. I finished my PhD in psychology right about the time I sold my first book, and although I count myself very fortunate to be able to write full-time, I also loved life in the lab.

What’s on your TiVo?

“Top Chef,” “The Soup,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “Project Runway,” “What Not To Wear,” “Ace of Cakes,” “Throwdown With Bobby Flay.”  I secretly believe that if I watch enough Food Network, I will learn how to cook via osmosis, with no actual hands-on effort. 

Where do you waste time online when you’re not writing?

If you are my agent and/or editor: What?!? I would never! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work on my next chapter.

If you are not my agent and/or editor: ted.com, GoFugYourself, CrazyDaysandNights, AskMoxie, Maricopa County Library District, PetFinder 

What talent do you wish you had?

Culinary prowess. (See: Food Network addiction, above.) I am absolutely hopeless in the kitchen, but lately, I’ve been reading biographies of Julia Child. Did you know she didn’t start learning to cook until she was in her 30's? This gives me hope.

What talent would people be surprised to discover you have?

I was on the synchronized swimming team for 4 years in college. Synchro (as the cool kids call it!) is kind of like ice skating or floor gymnastics in that it looks deceptively easy.

Biggest lie you’ve ever told?

“No, seriously, this time I mean it—I'm not getting any more dogs.”

Favorite smell?

Freshly cut lemons and melting birthday candle wax.

Favorite children’s book?

Muncus Agruncus, a Bad Little Mouse by Nancy Dingman Watson (no longer in print, alas), Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (I’m tearing up just thinking about this one!)

Dietary downfalls?

See’s chocolates, Sprinkles’ chocolate marshmallow cupcakes, Dove chocolate... I’m seeing a pattern here.

Do you have any pre-writing rituals or superstitions?

Hmm. Does compulsively checking email count as a ritual?
Actually, I do have a little slip of paper taped to the inside of my desk drawer. It's from a fortune cookie I received at the end of a dinner with my editor: "Time and patience are called for. Many surprises await you!"

I read it every day just before I get down to work. It's a very pithy summary of any author's career. Especially the part about surprises—both good and bad! If you crave stability and guaranteed results, publishing will drive you stark raving mad. (I think it works to your advantage, though, if you're stark raving mad to begin with.)

Favorite movie of all time?

“The Parent Trap.” The original, 1961 version starring Hayley Mills. (“I feel absolutely naked without my lipstick!”)  Runners-up: “L.A. Confidential”, “Clueless”, “Better off Dead.”

Sentence we will never hear you utter?

“I’ll have the filet mignon, medium rare.”

What’s on your iPod workout mix?

Beastie Boys, Gwen Stefani, Pursuit of Happiness, Eurhythmics, Britney Spears (Oh please. Don’t judge me. You know you listen to “Toxic” at the gym, too.)

Best beauty tip?

Use organic apple cider vinegar as a toner after you wash your face to minimize pores and prevent breakouts. Cheap, easy and amazingly effective.

What do you like most about living in Arizona?

Citrus trees growing in my front yard. Oh, and 70 degree winters.

What do you like least about living in Arizona?

Overripe oranges splattering down on the driveway. Oh, and 120 degree summers.

Best advice about writing?

“You can’t get there from here.” Meaning, when you’re starting a first draft, you can’t possibly include all the detail and emotion and character nuance that you hope to see in the finished manuscript, so don’t even try. Just focus on the scene you’re writing right now and don’t be afraid to play around and veer off in an entirely unexpected direction. A story is organic; it should be growing and changing while you tend to it every day. Don’t sweat all the details at once. That’s why God invented second (and third and seventh) drafts.

The one thing you wish you had in your office?

That’s easy: a giant, floor-to-ceiling saltwater aquarium. You know, like the James Bond villains always have.

The one thing you wish you had in your garage?

A totally restored surf wagon from the 1950’s with wood-paneled sides. Parking would be a nightmare, but it would be worth it! And just imagine how much stuff I could fit in there—the dogs, the kid and all my accumulated backseat flotsam could co-exist in peace and splendor.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

What is this “morning” you speak of? Are you asserting that the sun comes up before 9 a.m.? Heretic!



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