On My Family:

How did you meet your husband?

I wrote a post about that a few years back. It's a sweet story! I especially love that it involves Pierce reading something I wrote about him on my Xanga blog. (Oh, Xanga. Gone the way of MySpace and AOL Instant Messenger.)

How long have you been married?

Pierce and I got married on November 1, 2008, so we will be celebrating our 9th anniversary this fall!

Are you going to have more children?

I understand the curiosity behind this question because I talk about Lucy so much. But I don't really have an answer for it at the moment.

On Having OCD:

What is OCD?

OCD is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It looks different for different people. The National Institute for Mental Health defines it more succinctly than I can.

What kind of OCD do you have?

I have what is called Intrusive Thought OCD. This is when violent or disturbing thoughts "intrude" into daily life and cause deep emotional and mental anguish. Thoughts like this are common for everyone here and there, but for people with OCD, we tend to attach meaning to the thoughts and have a hard time letting them go. It's basically a cycle of "Where did that come from?" and "Why did I think that?" which leads to obsessive rumination and the compulsion to control every thought or avoid every situation that might cause a trigger. (Which, as you can imagine, causes even more mental stress.) The best example I can give of this behavior is when I gave birth to Lucy and couldn't be alone with her for more than a minute or two because I was terrified I would cause her harm. Cognitive behavioral therapy—the typical treatment for OCD—was a huge part of my healing process. I still deal with intrusive thoughts, but now I'm equipped with practical tools to confront my OCD and not let it control my thought life.

On My Books:

Where can I find your books?

They are available in both digital and print on Amazon. My second novel, The Next Best Thing, is also available in digital format on Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and, hopefully, they'll both soon be available in the Georgia Pines Library system.

What is your next project?

I'm working on a non-fiction book where I share what I've learned about life, marriage, motherhood, and faith. Writing about real life is my biggest strength, and my greatest passion as an author, and I'd love to see this book in print someday.

Does The Next Best Thing have a happier ending than The Best Kept Secret?

Well, the ending of TBKS wasn't exactly happy. So you can't say the standard is set very high, can you?

I'm just kidding. It's totally happier.

Who is your publisher?

BookFish Books, a small press based out of Virginia, published my first novel. I self-published the second.

On Writing:

I'm thinking about writing a book. How can I get started?

Get your butt in a seat, preferably with pen and paper or (let's get real here) a computer. Start writing. It doesn't matter what you write (at first), but the most important thing you can do to get started is...get started. And keep writing consistently. Maybe you don't have the time to devote to it every single day. I personally think that's fine. But be consistent in whatever schedule you choose, be it daily, weekly, or monthly. Set the mood. I like to have my Brooke Fraser Pandora station playing quietly on my desktop with a cup of coffee nearby. Figure out what works for you and then do it.

What if I don't know what to write?

The best advice I can give you is the best advice I was given: write anyway. It might be just a sentence or two or it might be five whole pages. But, eventually, something will click. Also, take some time to people watch. Go for a walk. Listen to music and reminisce. You'll figure it out, I promise.

I'm done with the book now. How can I get published?

The great thing about getting published these days is that there are so many options. You can self-publish, go with a hybrid publisher, publish with a small press, or try the traditional route (which means going through an agent). And in our digital age there are plenty of self-published novels and small press books that have performed incredibly well, and even some that have become New York Times Bestsellers (Tracy Garvis Graves' On the Island comes to mind). I tried submitting to dozens of literary agents and, while I received lots of positive feedback and even a few book requests, I never got a yes. In its early stages, TBKS received both a book request and the Best Manuscript Submission Award at the Atlanta Writer's Conference. The agent who requested it there ultimately turned it down (twice), but she also offered the words I needed to keep going: "This is a very subjective business. And all it takes is one yes. I look forward to the day when I see TBKS in bookstores."

She didn't feel a connection, but she believed in the quality of my work. So I kept submitting. And kept getting rejected. Finally, I tried looking at other options. I found my publisher, a small independent press, through Twitter of all places (proof that social media can be incredibly useful!) by searching the conversation #MSWL (or Manuscript Wish List). They were seeking realistic YA fiction. So I submitted. Two weeks later, I got a book request. Five weeks after that I had a contract in my hands. So just as your writing will vary from another author's, your publishing journey will, too. Don't be afraid to look in places you never have before.

For more tips on publishing, I've put together a few of my favorite posts:

Tracey Garvis Graces: Self-Publishing FAQs

Jane Friedman: Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published

What is your writing process like?

I definitely fall into the category of "writing when I feel like it". But I'm a big believer in consistency, as I mentioned before. Even though I might not work on personal projects every day, I do write every day. It's easier for me because I write for a profession, too (mostly public relations and scriptwriting) so I get solid practice in a variety of styles even when I'm doing the 9-5 thing. The writing process for me is a simple one: I find a comfortable place with a cup of coffee, some good music, and take my time. I like to sit and think about conversations I've overheard, books I've read, places I've been, or even memories from my past. I'm a natural daydreamer so it's not hard for me to go down a rabbit hole once my mind is set on something. I'll take a small idea and work from there. Or I'll simply start writing, like I often do on my blog. Some of my best work has come from sitting down and typing without any concrete plans. In those moments I find that the story I want to tell is already in my head; it's just been waiting for me to get it out.

Do you write about real people you know in your novels? 

I think every writer pulls from real life because that's where our imaginations get their first dose of inspiration. I've never written a character who represents a real person in my life, but I've certainly used my own memories for the purpose of storytelling. For example, in the sequel to TBKS, Emma goes on a Valentine's Day date that's almost exactly like the one I went on with my college boyfriend. It's a very sweet memory and I thought it fit well into the story and the particular relationship I was writing. But Emma's date is not my college boyfriend. So, to answer your question, yes AND no. I use real-life situations I think might be relevant to the story, but none of my characters are meant to be fiction representatives of real people.