Each Love Story can be read as a standalone. There are some shared characters throughout the books (siblings, friends, etc.) Closely related books are often distinguishable by similar covers. The book order so far is as follows:
What is that saying? It’s like choosing my favorite child. I’m currently writing Stay, so Dylan is my favorite at the moment.
My daughter plays this game called Kiss/Marry/Kill. So I’ll answer in that format, so I don’t have to choose one.
Kiss – Cade (Tap) Marry – Tyler (Catch) Kill – Peter (Premiere) Poor Peter. 😏
Again, it is usually the one I am working on because the details are so fresh in my mind. Jules from Catch was a really unique character. She’s a fishing boat captain and a single mom with a foul mouth. She’s hard to top, but Clara from Stay is my current favorite.
Females that stand out for me are Meg (Exposure), Kate (Candidate), and Anna (Playbook). I also liked Hollis (Vacancy) because she was unlikeable at times, as was Jules (Catch). They both made me work for every chapter.
I wish my answer to this question was a bit more interesting with deep research into the meanings of each name, but I'm not that writer.
If you've read BLOW, Millie has a list of names. She "collects names."
I am a notorious eavesdropper. I write down names I hear from others, people paged in airports or summoned for their coffee order. I always have an ear out for unique names. I've used names from my husband's interesting childhood or his current friends. I rarely use overheard first and last names together, but Tyler Pace is real. When it came time to name Drake's friend and Jules's HEA in CATCH, that name felt perfect, so I kept it intact.
Millie Hart is as close as I've come to picking a meaningful name. She's a romance writer, and I wanted Hart (Heart felt too on the nose) from the moment she hopped onto the page with her curly hair and bright blue eyes.
Everoad (Peter's last name in PREMIERE) was Michael's childhood friend, as was Malendar (Grady's last name in CANDIDATE).
Sage (STIRRED) was a name from a coffee shop. Cade (TAP) was once our exterminator. Boyd and Ella (BREW) were both airport pages.
Every other character's name was probably grabbed from a news article or a gift tossed my way via an order form. I have several customer service reps on my list too.
I recently added Imogene to my list. She works at my hair salon. I can't wait to create an Imogene.
Um… no. In fact, I am an infamously bad cook. My children each have their favorite remember-when-Mom-made story.
I do love to eat, though, and I believe so many great moments in life happen around a table. Friends and family often hash it out over food and drink, so I’m drawn to those settings. And, I love to eat. Did I mention that already?
I have a hard time with favorites, but here goes.
As a reader, I like friends-to-lovers and sometimes the similar unrequited love trope. I enjoy the history, the dance around, and near misses that lead to that moment when one or both find out or spill their feelings. Sigh. I will hang on for well over half a book for that moment.
Enemies to lovers is another good one, provided the dialogue is on point, and it takes them a while to work through their issues. I can’t do E/L if they are in bed after one meeting. Their conflict and attraction need to be believable for me to stay interested. I think this is a tough trope to write, but they are some of the most memorable stories when it’s done well.
I have also been known to favor some good Alpha, well-crafted fake engagements, which I think are best with a friends-to-lovers component, and I like fish-out-of-water when they’re funny.
As a writer, I am drawn to friends/lovers because there is history to pull from, although that sometimes gets me into trouble. I am a recovering flashbacker, so I remind myself to stay eyes forward.
I write a lot of the opposites attract trope. It allows for individual character work, which is my favorite. And I love connecting the dots to their similarities and eventual HEA.
The most interesting place I have been to so far is Japan. Tokyo was a bit of a culture shock, which I enjoyed. At the same time, the people are the best, and the food is unbelievable and served at all hours. We had ramen for breakfast!
The second part of this question is harder for me because many places are left to see. Top on my list would be Jodhpur, Rajasthan in India. It’s known as the blue city, and they make what look like amazing omelets. I need to go there. I would also love to spend a month in South America.
If I’m sticking close to home, I would love to visit Nantucket and Louisiana. I’ve never been to either.
About Everything Else
These are both questions that elicit the full spectrum of answers from writers. First, there isn’t a right or wrong response, only what works for each writer. Here’s what works for me.
I try to stay away from reader reviews. Not because I don’t care what readers think or that I don’t appreciate them taking the time to comment, but the review is not for me. By the time most people have read my books, my work is done.
If I were doing something with a right or wrong answer, I would tune in to find out if I got it right, but the like or dislike of a story is subjective. One reader’s “best book ever” is another reader’s “don’t bother.”
And readers should have a place to talk amongst themselves. Reviews are their space to do that, and while I will admit to peeking, I do not feel I should be there.
So, for those reasons and a dash of self-care, I stay away. However, I have a wonderful assistant who reads reviews and shares some of them with me, and readers sometimes reach out personally. Those are spots of sunshine.
Second part. I don’t know how to write what readers want, and sometimes I don’t think they know what they want until they read it.
I have read so many books that took me on a journey I never knew I’d enjoy. Stories full of surprise and learning. That’s what storytellers do. They take your hand and lead you down a path. I think it would be boring if it were a path I helped pave.
That being said, as a writer of love stories, I do promise a happy ending. Real-life is messy. So if a reader is going to trust me enough to walk my path, I try to be careful with them until they’re delivered safely home.
Jack Jack Cutie Face, that is his AKC registered name, is my sweet and wonderful dog. He is a Brittany, which means he loves being outdoors.
He is my calm and, at the risk of sounding cheesy, my best friend. You might see pictures of him from time to time on Instagram.
Fun fact: Garrett (Stirred) has a Brittany who rides shotgun in his truck. His name is Jack, and that book was dedicated to, you guessed it, Jack.