When and where were you born?
1964, Fayetteville, Arkansas. I grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and since then lived in lots of cool places including New Orleans, Paris, New York, and Miami—which is where I live now.
Did you always want to be an author?
Yes. I've always loved to read and write. Before I started writing books, I worked at several ad agencies. I honestly can't remember a time I didn't have a book or a pen and paper in hand and an idea in my head.
How old were you when you wrote your first book?
Third grade. My attic is filled with boxes of old poems and stories, but it took me about thirty years to get my first one published. As the saying goes . . . patience is a virtue.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Anywhere and everywhere. One of the keys to being an author is keeping your eyes and ears open. I've also always kept a journal and love to write about things—good and bad—that happened to me over the years. Many of the ideas for my books came from things I saw my kids go through when they were growing up.
Which of your characters is most like you?
Definitely April Sinclair. Like her, I grew up in a small Southern town, had two younger sisters, a mother who owned a store, and a father who liked to give advice. I also collected quotes, loved to dance, and adored summer camp.
What are your favorite kind of books?
Series books. I've always loved returning to a character I love again and again. It's why I write series. As a kid, I loved Ramona and Nancy Drew. Now, I love humor, romance, and realistic fiction. Reading about characters I can relate to and how they handle difficult situations and challenges always feels satisfying. I love to laugh. And cry.
How do you write your books?
It all starts with an idea. Once I've wrapped my head around what the story will be about, I brainstorm and make lots of notes, then work on an outline of the plot. Once I have a clear road map, I start to write. Then I rewrite until I'm satisfied the book is the best it can be. Usually, I rewrite it a few more times after that, and drink lots of coffee in the process.
What tips would you give aspiring authors?
Read! Everything and anything. Books. Poems. Articles. There's inspiration all around and everyone seems to find it in their own way. Discipline is important too. Every day I set a goal—a number of pages or words I want to write—and I always reward myself for a job well done. Once, a teacher told me that magical things happen when you start to write. It's so true.
What should writers do to get their work published?
That's a great question. There are lots of ways beyond the traditional route of finding an agent, then a publisher for authors to get their work into the hands of readers. For lots of writers, self-publishing is a great entry into the market. It helps if self-published authors have an entrepreneurial spirit and know how to promote themselves, especially online. Another great option is releasing your work as an E-book. Check to see if it is common for authors in your genre to do so. Most of all . . . be patient. The path to publication can be long and tedious. If this is your dream, stick with it and ignore the naysayers!
Who are your favorite authors?
There are too many to count. I love to read (even more than I like to write) and absolutely adore any and everything by Judy Blume, Maria Semple, John Green, Garth Stein, Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella, Rainbow Rowell, Louise Rennison, Jonathon Tropper, Helen Fielding, Jojo Moyes, Lianne Moriarty, Kathryn Stockett, Rebecca Wells. The list goes on and on and on . . .
Which book that you've written is your favorite?
That is a really hard question because I like them all. I suppose I have a soft spot for Heart to Heart with Mallory and Can You Say Catastrophe? Both are written as journals. I used to keep a journal that sounded very similar to the ones in both books.