If you want to know what I’m working on now, details about my writing habits, how I spend my free time, and general inspiration for writing, read on!

What kind of things do you write? 

I write novels, nonfiction books, and articles.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and novelist?

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was outlining magazines and novels I might write. I also enjoyed writing short stories in school (one of my favorites was about the day the Earth stopped moving). But my interest really took off in high school when I first read Light in August by William Faulkner. I knew then that I wanted to be an author when I grew up.

Which jobs in your career have best helped you become a better writer?

Being a magazine editor-in-chief and teaching English as a Second Language to foreigners. Editing forced me to produce large amounts of high-quality copy under tight deadlines. It also allowed me to oversee content across many topics at once. Teaching ESL required that I learn English grammar inside-out. I developed an even deeper appreciation for the nuances of words, and how phrasing impacts listeners and readers.

 How often do you work on your writing projects?

I work on writing and editing every day. For me writing is like sleeping: If I don’t get enough of it, I feel like something’s not right. But I’ve definitely learned to take real breaks when I'm done. I used to burn the midnight oil, so to speak. Now I'm a morning person.

 Do you do a lot of research and planning before you write?

I love researching and planning my projects before I start writing. I'm fascinated by how to create tension and suspense through pacing, and how to evoke genuine emotions in readers via strong character arcs. For instance, when I started planning my novel Come Find Me I decided to make one of my main characters, Mark, a Navy pararescueman, so that took a lot of research. I also like using original sources.

From your personal life, what has most informed your perspective as a writer?

Definitely being a wife, mother, friend, and daughter. Living in Italy for five years and coming from an Italian-American family. And the losses I've experienced. Learning how to survive and thrive after tough challenges (I'm a cancer survivor) has taught me things about life and character.

 What do you do when you’re not writing?

I love painting (acrylics), reading (fiction and nonfiction), spending time with my family and dogs, traveling, and going on long walks.

What's the one piece of advice you'd give any new writer?

Kick that negative, doubting voice out of your mind. It's useless to you, and it can do a lot of damage to your productivity. You need to believe that your voice is unique because you're a unique person.