I first met Robin when she wrote a book with another author. Since then, we have become friends. This is her first book she authored by herself. Welcome, Robin. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I write stories of Christian people who struggle with their faith, but still depend on God. Emotionally driven stories with a strong romance and a strong Christian principle. When a reader picks up one of my books, I don’t want to fail them. I want them to awed, moved to laughter or tears—or both in the span of a few chapters. I want them to talk to their friends about my book, that they’ve found a keeper of an author in me because all my books are a must-read—and how they can’t wait for the sequel or the next new release. As you know, I began writing mysteries. Thrillers. I loved reading that genre so that's where I began writing. As I wrote, I built an arsenal of information about blood spatter, forensics, data. I also had an interesting list of "story characters" and endlessly pestered doctors, lawyers, investigators, and even judges to help keep my writing accurate.
I still love reading and writing mysteries, but in the past year a change has come over me. Perhaps it’s due to the worrisome condition of world events. Or needing to read/watch something uplifting and inspirational, I find myself leaping over my old favorites to a new one, contemporary romance. Everyone wants to love and be loved. It’s a basic need. To be important to someone. But then stuff gets in the way. Stuff like trust issues, past relationships that ended badly, disappointment, hurt, not living up to someone's expectations. This is what links us all together, disenchantment in love on some level at some time in our life. I decided to write heartwarming romance where love and hope and faith were the cornerstones. I found myself replaying popular love songs from my high school years. They were about being with the person you love, holding their hand, thinking about them all day long, dreaming about a future together, waiting for that first kiss. I found myself transformed by the melodies, the positive words. I wanted to write a book that embodied that tender purity. But what would be the problem? I was used to the hero and heroine discussing the case. Without a murder, what would they have to say to one another?
That's when I began thinking about love being a powerful force. It’s a transformational power that can make us reach to the greatest pinnacle of our life or it can be our fatal flaw. This single emotion has a depth that is limitless. It can make you change directions. An idea brewed. It took six weeks of steady, focused writing but I completed a 65K novel. I sent it in thinking it would be shot right back with the words flawed manuscript stamped across the top. In fact I almost expected it. After all, it was my first attempt at this genre but it slid together so quickly. Instead of rejected, I was handed a contract asking for it to be a series. If you read me before I hope you come back to read my new books. And if you haven't read one of my books then I hope you start with The Christmas Edition December 2008and follow it with The Valentine Edition, out early in 2009.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I have had many *happiest* days. The ones that came to mind when you asked, are my wedding day, the birth of our children, having a book published, and when one of my students say, "Thank you for helping me. I understand it now."
How has being published changed your life?
Being published has opened a new world to me. Every writer knows you spend a lot of time alone in front of the computer. And every writer also knows, we aren't really alone, for we are ear deep in creating a fantasy life with characters who suddenly become friends that we care about. I do the same things everyone else does…I drive to and from work, I grocery shop, I run to the cleaners, etc. But there is also this private world going on with people known only to me. At least for a little while, until the book comes out and the reader meets them. By that time I've moved on to a new secret world with other characters. I get to create worlds, make people - decide on their personalities - and give them names. I place them in a setting with a scene and watch what happens. Being published is addictive. It drives me to improve my craft and meet new people.
What are you reading right now?
I am a member in Fiction in Rather Short Takes and read the books sent to me each month. I love it.
What is your current work in progress?
I am finishing The Turtle Creek Edition series. I just finished writing The Easter Edition and am starting on The Halloween Edition. Both should be out in 2010. In the midst of this, another series hatched. I pitched that contemporary romance series to several publishers.
What would be your dream vacation?
My dream vacation would a car ride across America with my best friend from college. Drive where the road leads. Spur of the moment type of gals we are. The only destination is fun. Adventure.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
So far, they all - mystery and romance alike - take place in Wisconsin. I grew up there, first as a summer girl living on Lake Delavan and later we moved there from Chicago. I graduated from UW Whitewater. Although my husband and I now live in Texas, my heart remains in Wisconsin, at least during the summer months (my heart returns to Texas when the snow flies). I love writing about the changing seasons. Wisconsin is an interesting state with a lot to offer from cities to small towns, from fields of grain and hills of cows, to frozen tundra, and let's not forget those lakes and streams and rivers. In my mind I go home a lot. My characters never complain. They like it there too.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
My daughter Kimberly. All grown, at the age of twenty-eight, she leads a busy life traveling for a large Dallas company. When she comes home on the weekends she is exhausted and falls into bed with a good book. Me - I'm pretty well tuckered out from my week of working with teens. There is writing to do. Church. Laundry. Kimberly and I need to make time for one another. So if I could spend an evening with anyone, it would be her.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to garage sale! I start scanning the papers on Wednesday and plot my route. Monday through Friday I drag myself out of bed and yawn dozens of times as I drive to work. On Saturdays everything changes. I am up at the crack of dawn, bright-eyed, alert! Another hobby of mine is selling vintage items on eBay. I am Princess*la-dee-da. Now ask me what hobbies I would love to have time for and you will get a whole different response.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle is the time issue. I am the special education coordinator at a juvenile facility for the courts system. I also have a family and church and friends. I fight for free moments to write. I juggle. Prioritize. When I have a deadline looming that takes precedence. I take deadlines very seriously.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
My advice is simple; know your audience and genre. If you are like me, you enjoy various types of music, and your reading tastes run the gamut from fiction to nonfiction to children’s books. Many new writers, including myself, started out writing anything and everything . . . that is not so bad, and quite energetic for an aspiring author. But when we become serious about being published then writing takes on a whole new meaning. Pick one genre that you feel most passionate about and learn it. That means read that genre. Study it as though you are preparing for a college exam. Take notes on how the characters are developed, when the problem occurs, how a hook is used, what about the story keeps you right on turning the pages. Better still, write down what you don’t like. Writing takes work. Writer Loops are filled with the same type of questions from aspiring authors all asking the same basic questions such as I am writing a book for young adults. Can anyone suggest a good author for me to read? I shiver when I read that and not in a good way. Their shelves should already be filled with the likes of Jean Craighead George and Cynthia Rylant.
Tell us about the featured book.
Lucy Collins has given up on Christmas since the painful break-up with her fiancé. Things only get worse when a large newspaper is about to come to town and threatens the livelihood of their family run business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper. At the staff Christmas party, she makes a wish and what seems like the answer to her prayer walks in the front door to apply for the editor position, which they are hoping will bring new life to the paper. Not only is Joe McNamara a genius when it comes to the written word, but he is also gifted with ideas about keeping the newspaper afloat. However, Joe has a secret of his own that he is keeping from Lucy. If she finds it out, then what looks like a promising relationship will unravel, but it's Christmas time, the season of rebirth and miracles. Will the spirit of celebration be enough to heal two hearts? Or will the reality of deception make this the worst Christmas of all?
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I answer emails.
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