Welcome, Dana, even though this is as much home for you as for me!
The first book of yours that I read was Jungle Fire. That incredible romantic suspense became one of my all-time favorites! Then you charmed the tar out of me with the contemporary romance, Sit, Stay, Love. That became another all-time favorite. Last week, I listened to Trouble Up Finny's Nose. What a hysterical cozy mystery! In which genre did you begin, and how did you find yourself moving into the other genres?
Well, the truth is stranger than fiction, I always say! I started out in the cozy mystery genre because I loved the problem solving, small town, quirky feel to it. Cozies are a place where you can include gentle humor and really explore setting, so I loved that. My agent suggested we pitch to Love Inspired Suspense and after a few tries, they accepted me. I dove into suspense novels which kept me busy with LIS and then Jungle Fire for Moody. I love suspense, but I am a nut at heart and I missed the sweet, humorous style I was able to explore in the cozies, so when my agent said Harvest House was looking for a lighthearted, dog themed series I jumped up and down and said, "Me! Me! Let me write it!" By gosh, they actually did hire me! Such joy I've had writing that series!
And those books are outstanding! Funny and heart-warming. I used to think mystery, romance, and romantic suspense were all very similar, but they really aren't. What are the main differences between them? How do those differences create special challenges as you move between them?
No, they are quite different and that's why I love to write all of them. Suspense is very danger driven, with tight pacing and no room for much humor. Mystery is more about the puzzle solving than the running for your life, so the pace can be a bit slower. In a straight romance, the conflict has to be teased out from the characters and circumstances, but the pacing is not as ruthless. For me, it's great to write lighthearted romance and suspense because they are so different. I don't get mixed up between the two!
Ha! That could be dangerous! Your 2016 repertoire is impressive! You released Sit, Stay, Love (Romance) in April, Seaside Secrets through Love Inspired Suspense in May, Seek and Find through Love Inspired Suspense in June, and now Fetching Sweetness (Romance) this month. Were you ever writing the different genres at the same time?
When I see my publishing schedule written out, I can't imagine how I did that either. It was an unusually busy year. I am also a part time third grade teacher so that adds to the chaos. I don't typically write two suspense or lighthearted books at the same time, so that helps me avoid confusion. That said, I'm sure my editor would tell you I'm plenty prone to messing things up! I also find it confusing when people say, "How's the book coming?" I just sort of stare blankly and try to figure out which one they're talking about.
Have you ever confused your plots, added a scene to the wrong story, or an element that shouldn't be in that genre?
Not really, but I make plenty of bonehead mistakes like changing a character's name halfway through a novel, or skipping from a Monday to a Wednesday. That's why my editors are super important to me! They save me on a regular basis.
Oh, yes! Having other sets of eyes on the story is priceless! But your writing year has indeed been a busy one! Yet you have teenagers at home and life outside of writing. How did you publish five books in a 12-month period? What does your normal workday look like?
Normal for me during the school year is getting up real early and writing four days a week. I don't write on Sundays (that's a promise I made to God early on in the process) and I don't write on Thursdays and Fridays because I teach those days and third grade is exhausting! I try to be available as much as I can in the afternoons and weekends when the bear cubs are home. Papa Bear works from home, so we lunch together and chat throughout the day. That keeps things in balance for me (mostly.) In the summer I'm writing pretty much every day except for Sundays. I find that teenage cubs are not very early risers, so I get a lot of uninterrupted time to write!
Wow, that's great! My teenagers never quite stopped this summer. I'm not sure what uninterrupted time even looks like anymore! LOL! What does 2017 hold for you in writing and in your personal life?
Well, still teaching, of course. I've got more Love Inspired Suspense novels coming out and Fetching Sweetness just released this month. The last in that dog series comes out in February. Looking forward to being a "band groupie" for my daughter's marching band performances and spending as much time as possible with friends and family!
I'm excited to read Fetching Sweetness! Thanks so much for sharing.
Sure thing! I'm happy to give away a digital copy of Seek and Find and also Seaside Secrets to one of the readers! And if you want to have a sneak peek behind the scenes of my books, there's a YouTube video in which my dog Junie makes an appearance!
Lol! Love your video!
Readers, if you want a chance to win an e-copy of Seek and Find along with Seaside Secrets, please leave your email address in the comments below. And tell us about your favorite of Dana's books or maybe the one you most would like to read.