How do you define success as an author?
I have had a longstanding dream of walking the red carpet for a film adaptation of one of my novels, and thought that would really be the thing, but honestly, I think my success might be getting invited to be a guest author at book clubs, and sitting in a room talking about my imaginary characters with other people who have read the stories and believe in their existence as much as I do.
What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
Have several kids. Three worked for me. Get some animals too, really needy ones. You’ll never be blocked again, because you will be so grateful for those stolen moments in a world where you have some semblance of control.
Seriously: a flawless and dazzling query letter. I had offers from the first three agents I queried.
What are you working on in the near future?
After this novel, I published “THE SUMMER AFTER”, a widow-widower love story set in the Cayman Islands with dark twists. Now I have a dystopic series, and then I think the most important thing I have ever written is The Tender. It’s a middle grade, coming of age/first loss novel that masquerades as a fast-paced sports quest for hockey Nationals–goalie Jace’s story reaches modern boys who lose their mentors too early, desperately searching for someone to show them the way. I am not sure whether I want to go trad or indie with that novel, because of the middle grade market, so I am puzzling that out.
Do you have any quirky writing rituals?
When I am in the thick of it, it’s difficult to describe what happens without sounding hokey, but it’s like being a medium. The words come, the story flows, I hear the characters and my mouth actually moves along with their dialogue; I just try to keep up. On days when I can’t go there, when I know I can’t mentally still be in a womens’ prison or describing the smell of flowers in Maui while picking my kid up from rock climbing practice, I try to do something technical, like outlining or editing.
As far as editing, I’m a big believer in getting a listener whose opinion you value, who is not your target audience, who also might have a short attention span, and read them sections out loud. For me, this is my husband. I find myself editing, rewriting, rephrasing as I read. I think it’s because growing up, I was the middle of five kids and there was always some anxiety about not getting enough airtime, losing my audience.
Who is your audience?
Supposedly, the market I write in is called “upmarket women’s fiction”, but basically I like to read books that are realistic, that shine a light on complicated parts of humanity, and make women press them into their friend’s hand and say, “You have to read this so we can talk about it!”
How do you interact with your readers?
I love to do book clubs. When “Chosen” was published, I took my kids out of school and we went on a promotional tour for eight months, where I homeschooled them and traveled and did 50 in-person book clubs. It is my favorite way to interact with readers.
What is your all time favorite book or author? Do you think this has influenced your writing?
I love Jean Hegland’s “Into the Forest.” I teach a class on post apocalyptic fiction and we always start with this novel. I find it so lyrical and lovely. She tells me she’s working on a sequel—gah, I hope so.
Aside from writing or reading, what are your hobbies or interests?
For sports, I ride my horse six days a week and rock climb with my kids. If I am in decent running shape, I will play in our alumni field hockey league, and I had several years where I played ice hockey. We call our house the Hoffmenagerie—we have three kids, thirty chickens, five rescue cats, a 175 lb Newfoundland and a horse named Phoenix. We’ve had goats and a few ducks. My husband really wants a long-haired cow. We grow a ton of our own food and I am never happier than when I have a quiet, obligation-free puttering day around the property with animals, kids and gardens. It fills my tank.
Part romance, part thriller, all can’t put it down reading. Juliet and Dean have found their way to a summer in The Cayman Islands for very different reasons. Both are still trying to deal with the death of their respective spouses and trying to make a life for their children in the aftermath.
The first thing to stick in the reader’s mind is the visceral sensation of the air in the islands. Hot and sticky, mistaken for the jet exhaust. Though this is a place one generally associates with happy carefree tourists, it is obvious that this story is going to be somewhat dark and heavy. The islands’ local color and weather remain an integral part of the story right up through the end.
Juliet and Dean are the main characters as they navigate a bond that starts with friendly-like neighbors and finds its way through friendship and the landmines of romance and the outside influences that would break them apart. Each brilliant character, from the youngest child to the elderly neighbors, adds a necessary piece to the puzzle. There is no filler as the story unfolds with its many mysteries and secrets. As the book progresses there are more questions than answers until the end when it all falls together with a breathless aha moment.
I received an advance review copy through The Review Crew for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
The Summer After
Published July 1, 2021
Fifth Generation Publishing LLC
What Pretty Gets You
Published March 15, 2021
Fifth Generation Publishing LLC