Frequently Asked Questions
(Updated November 2017)
NOW THAT FIRST STAR I SEE TONIGHT IS OUT IN PAPERBACK, WHAT’S NEXT?
I’m maddeningly protective of my unfinished work, as you probably know by now. It would be fun to write (and read!) another Chicago Stars book, but I loved FIRST STAR I SEE TONIGHT so much, and I just won’t do it until I can come up with another idea that good. My current project is fascinating (and maddeningly difficult) because the hero and heroine are caught in an impossible situation. This new book has an intriguing mix of characters with very different personalities and needs. At this point in my writing, the hero still hasn’t revealed all of himself to me. (Yes, I’m super annoyed, but that’s the way SEP heroes tend to be, and for now, I’m trying to make peace with him.) The heroine is the kind of character I most enjoy creating. A woman who’s hiding a lot of pain underneath her sass. No title yet and no publication date, but you know I’ll tell you more as soon as I can.
I LIKE TO READ BOOKS IN ORDER. WHICH OF YOUR BOOKS COMES FIRST?
You really, really, really don’t have to read my books, including the series books, in order. Each one stands on its own. But if you’d like to see how the books relate to each other, here’s the “SEP Family Tree.” Now let me argue with myself… I do think THE GREAT ESCAPE is a bit more fun if you’ve read CALL ME IRRESISTIBLE first.
IS NATURAL BORN CHARMER REALLY GOING TO BE THE LAST BOOK IN THE CHICAGO STARS SERIES?
See question one above. The Stars series originally ended with THIS HEART OF MINE, the book that pulled all the pieces together and let everyone take a curtain call. Yes, the Stars characters appear again in both MATCH ME IF YOU CAN and NATURAL BORN CHARMER, and April Robillard pops up in WHAT I DID FOR LOVE, which is most definitely not a Stars book. But that’s because all my characters exist in the same creative universe. For example, Bobby Tom Denton from HEAVEN, TEXAS, makes an off-screen appearance in LADY BE GOOD. There’s a reference to GLITTER BABY’s Fleur Savagar in NATURAL BORN CHARMER. (Did you catch it?) Will familiar characters continue to wander into new books? Definitely.
IS THE CURRENT EDITION OF GLITTER BABY SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE ORIGINAL?
Yes and no. The story is the same, but I developed the characters a bit more, cleaned up some of the prose, and added a few new scenes. I’m delighted with the outcome. (And thanks for all your lovely e-mail about this edition.)
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE CHIP AND ROSIE’S BOOK FROM DREAM A LITTLE DREAM? (Or Hannah’s story from THIS HEART OF MINE? Or Heather from KISS AN ANGEL? Or Pippi from MATCH ME IF YOU CAN? Or Riley from NATURAL BORN CHARMER)
No plans for any of them at the present time. These characters need a chance to grow up. (Chip, for example, is going to need a lot of maturity to deal with Rosie.)
ANY PLANS TO TURN YOUR BOOKS INTO MOVIES?
Every time I download my e-mail, I hear from a reader who wants one of my books to become a movie. But, think about it… We all want to see a movie that actually duplicates the book in our heads, and Hollywood doesn’t do that. The final scripts seldom bear any resemblance to the original book, and is that what you want? I don’t. I’m too much of a control freak. Over the years, I’ve declined a number of offers to have my books turned into TV movies, and I’ve slept like a baby afterward. As for feature films… That’s very complicated and highly unlikely.
DO YOU HAVE ANY VIDEOS POSTED ON THE WEB?
So glad you asked!
WHERE CAN I SEE SEP PHOTOS?
WHAT HAPPENED TO LUV U 4-EVER?
We changed the title to AIN’T SHE SWEET?! I’m so sorry about the confusion. Those of you who are SEP Trivia experts will remember this was the original title of IT HAD TO BE YOU. Not right for that book, but perfect for this one.
BREATHING ROOM MADE ME WANT TO GO TO TUSCANY. DID YOU REALLY GO THERE?
You betcha! Here’s the story of the inspiration for BREATHING ROOM (click the tab for “Author’s Notes).
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND JUST IMAGINE? IS THIS THE SAME BOOK AS YOUR OLD HISTORICAL ROMANCE RISEN GLORY?
Yes and no. JUST IMAGINE is a reissue of RISEN GLORY, which has been out of print for many years. It’s not your ordinary reissue, however, which is why we changed the title. I made substantial revisions—fleshing out the characters of Kit Weston (a total scamp) and Baron Cain (his name says it all), as well as adding new scenes. The book has a special “Dear Reader” letter at the beginning that explains why I decided to polish up the original.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?
Quoting Colin Byrne, in AIN’T SHE SWEET?, “A warehouse in Tulsa!” I dread this question because I don’t have an intelligent answer. Sometimes an intriguing premise will occur to me. For example, what if a woman who knows nothing about football inherits an NFL team? (IT HAD TO BE YOU) Sometimes an idea for a character will start jiggling around in my brain, like a good ol’ boy Texas golf pro. (FANCY PANTS) I love so many of the traditional elements of romance, but maybe my favorite is the marriage of convenience. It’s an extremely difficult plot device to bring off in contemporary romance, but I had to try. (KISS AN ANGEL) And try again… (WHAT I DID FOR LOVE) Frequently, a secondary character will catch my attention, and I’ll realize I have to tell his story. This happened with Bobby Tom Denton (HEAVEN, TEXAS), Gabe and Ethan Bonner (DREAM A LITTLE DREAM), Kevin Tucker (THIS HEART OF MINE), and Dean Robillard (NATURAL BORN CHARMER). I’ve always been fascinated by child actors, and that led to HONEY MOON as well as WHAT I DID FOR LOVE. The only book I ever wrote with anything close to a real plot in mind was the incredibly challenging HOT SHOT. A lot of the action in that book was dictated by historical fact. Basically, my brain is a garbage dump. Please don’t embarrass me by asking this question again!
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE A BOOK?
Writing gets harder for me instead of easier, so it’s taking me around two years now. I know I write slowly compared to other writers, but we’re all wired differently. It takes me a long time to get to know my characters in-depth and understand their behavior.
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ANOTHER BOOK LIKE [FILL IN THE BLANK]?
AARGH!!! This is the sound of me screaming, laughing, and kissing all of you opinionated readers. I love the fact that so many of you have a favorite book of mine, but…and this is the important part…there’s no one book that the majority of you pick as your favorite. Readers bring a set of expectations with them, and my readers seem to be divided into three fairly distinct groups. One group expects that I’ll always make them laugh and they don’t want anything too serious. Another group loves the more serious stuff and doesn’t want anything too “silly.” The great majority of you, however, are blessedly adaptable. You know you’ll find a good love story and a happy ending, and you’re glad to go wherever I want to take you. (Confidentially, I love you best.) How do I handle this? The only way I know how. I write only to please myself and pray you’ll come with me on my journey.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR TITLES?
Everywhere. HEAVEN, TEXAS came to me right away. KISS AN ANGEL had a ton of titles, none of which we liked, and we were lukewarm about that one at first. NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE came to me out of thin air one day, and we all fell instantly in love with it. LADY BE GOOD was titled even before I wrote the first chapter because it was perfect for the story I had in mind. BREATHING ROOM hit me one day when I came across the Oprah magazine feature “Breathing Space.” My darling husband came up with MATCH ME IF YOU CAN and FIRST STAR I SEE TONIGHT. He also brainstormed NATURAL BORN CHARMER with me during a tedious trip on one of Chicago’s ever-congested tollways. IT HAD TO BE YOU is the only book I didn’t title myself. (I originally called the book AIN’T SHE SWEET—see above)”
HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY BOOKS THAT DIDN’T END UP IN PRINT?
I’m fortunate never to have had a book rejected by a publisher, but in the early days of my career, I started two books that I abandoned.
WHAT AUTHORS DO YOU READ?
Like many of you, my reading tastes have changed over the years. I’m drawn to “relationship” books, both by romance and literary authors, but I have no patience for the depressing ones, what I call “dead baby books.” I’m a big fan of Kristin Hannah, Patricia Gaffney, and Sarah Bird. I love Kathryn Stockett’s The Help. For funny books, I reach for Lisa Lutz’s Spellman series. Some of my favorite historical romances include Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, Laura Kinsale’s Flowers in the Storm, Jill Barnett’s Bewitching, and Pam Morsi’s Simple Jess. I also love the work of Georgette Heyer and Mary Balogh. (I’m a big regency fan.) In the non-fiction category, I highly recommend Robert Kurson’s Shadow Divers (Trust me!) and Crashing Through. I’ve recently become obsessed with food books, including Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme’s My Life in France and Erica Bauermeister’s The School of Essential Ingredients. In series romance, you can’t beat my friends Margaret Watson and Cathie Linz. Then there’s the ultimate goddess, Jayne Ann Krentz.
I’M ALWAYS GETTING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE AVAILABILITY OF MY OLDER TITLES AND THE ORDER OF THE CHICAGO STARS BOOKS. PLEASE SEE THE BOOKS LINK FOR THAT INFORMATION.