Q. Where do you get your ideas for your books? A. We all have access to story ideas in our everyday lives. But it’s a writer who takes an idea and turns it into a story. I like to play the, “What if”, game with ideas. I’ll take a simple concept and ask what if . . ., and then fill in the blank. Sometimes nothing comes out of it and the idea flops. Other times the idea grows and multiplies until it takes on a life of it’s own and a story is born. When I get stuck for ideas I call friends and family and ask, “What would you like to read about? What things do you feel are important issues we need to learn about?” If I can write about something we can all relate to, then we can all learn and grow together. Q. I have an idea for a story, what do I do now? A. If you are truly interested in getting something of your own published you need to make sure that you’ve done your research. Know exactly who your story is targeted to; men, woman, youth, adults, etc. . . Once you’ve done that, then choose publishing houses that are accepting manuscripts or stories like yours. Don’t submit to them until you’ve consulted their guidelines that tell you how they like manuscripts to look and how they like them to be submitted.Sometimes, before you submit a manuscript it’s a good idea to have two or three trusted friends or family members read your story and give you input. They might be able to point out flaws or weakness you didn’t see. It’s hard to take criticism, but if it makes the book better, then it’s worth it. Writer’s need tough skin, so be open to suggestions but always trust your own heart and instincts. Q. How do you write and juggle a family? A. Juggle is the key word in that question. The last thing I want my writing to do is infringe upon my time with my family. I make it a point to put my family and my church callings first. As long as I keep my priorities straight, things seem to go fairly smooth for me. I only write two to three hours a day, Monday through Friday, during my baby’s nap time. I’m pretty stingy with this time and don’t usuallyanswer the phone or the door. It works out to ten or twelve hours a week, but somehow I manage to make progress. Q. Are your characters real people? A. Sometimes my characters are loosely based on people I know. Mostly I take single characteristics from people rather than use them as a whole, although Rich, in my first series, was patterned a lot after my husband. On the first draft of the story I was told that Rich was just too perfect, too nice. Just like my husband. I had to give Rich some flaws after that to enrich the story, but I like my husband just the way he is! Q. How much research goes into a book before you write it? A. A lot of that depends on the story and how unfamiliar I am with what I’m writing about. It’s always better when you can experience what your characters are doing, but that’s not always possible. The best I can do is read, study, watch videos or movies, and interview people to get my information. Thank goodness for imaginations to help us “imagine” what it’s like to get caught in a snowy blizzard and nearly die, or be sailing on a turbulent ocean during a life threatening squall, or have a stalker kidnap you and try and bury you alive in the desert. These are things I’d rather not experience first hand, but I can imagine what it would be like.I usually do at least two months of research, most of the time more, before I write a book. My favorite part of research is traveling to the places where the book is set, like; Europe, the Oregon Coast, and in the spring, to Hawaii. Research is sometimes my favorite part of writing. Q. Your books are “safe” to read. I “feel good” after I’ve read one of them. Is this something you try to do? A. Absolutely. I wouldn’t feel good about what I write if my eight year old couldn’t pick it up and read it, or either of my ninety-one year old grandmothers couldn’t read it. My books will never contain anything inappropriate or against my beliefs. I don’t feel it’s necessary to write stories with garbage in them. I feel that cheapens the story. My books are about issues, emotions and relationships. My goal is to give the reader hope and inspiration. To lift them and give them something of value.