What genre do your books fall into or is it a genre blended? Contemporary romance. I do my best to make my stories intelligent, authentic, and sexy, filled with humor and “ah” moments. I hope my characters are people you’d want to know if they were real and who you look forward to getting reacquainted with in subsequent novels in a series.
What inspires you to write? I decided in junior high school that I wanted to be a writer—a newspaper writer. I’ve spent more than thirty years doing that type of work, as a reporter and editor, and have been writing fiction for a comparatively short time. My first book, the woman’s fiction e-novella Getting Her Money’s Worth (2013), was inspired by a close friend who suffered through four cancer-related illnesses before dying in 2012 after a failed bone marrow transplant. Then, after a brief time working at an elementary school, I wrote a middle-grades novel, Planet Hairnet, that has yet to be published. Now, I’m concentrating on my Gulf Shore contemporary romance series set in a west-central Florida beach town and the local aquarium. I’m a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area, and I volunteer at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of movie star dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films. I love animals, so they play prominent roles in my stories. See a pattern here? While my books most definitely are fiction, I write about subjects I’m familiar with and that interest me. I enjoying riding on the back of my husband’s Harley-Davidson, so look for a biker as a main character in a future novel.
Do you listen to music or set the mood somehow to get writing? I subscribe to the “just do it” school of writing. I can procrastinate with the best of them, but when it’s time to get busy, I do. For journalists, deadline pressure is a near-constant companion, so you don’t have time to get in the mood. You have to produce and perform whether you feel like it or not. I tend to work out plot details in my head while lying in bed at night. While this can lead to lost sleep, it usually works for me. I’m a “pantser,” writing by the seat of my pants and not from a pre-determined plot outline. I generally know in general where I’m going when I start a book, but I don’t know all the details. Sometimes I have no clue what I’m going to write on a given day until I sit down, fire up my laptop, and put my fingers on the keys.
Do you come up with the plot or characters first? I don’t look at them as mutually exclusive. They pretty much develop in tandem. Part of writing a series is juggling a lot of characters and advancing storylines from book to book. For instance, I introduced Nauti-Toys watercraft rentals co-owner Cosby Williams in a cameo role in The Shore Thing, Gulf Shore Book 1, and made him the leading man in Shore Feels Right, Gulf Shore Book 2. His leading lady, marine biologist Monica Sims, was the antagonist in Book 1. Animal activist Tara Langley, who appears at the start of a secondary plot development in Book 2, is a primary character in Book 3, tentatively titled Shore to Please. And her love interest is head dolphin trainer Paul “Flipper” O’Riley, a major player in the first two books.
Do you have a favorite book you’ve read? Two of my all-time favorite novels are To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye, both of which I read at least twenty-five years ago. But they’ve obviously stayed with me, because I still think of them first whenever I’m asked that question. I have a lot of other favorites, though, and I keep adding to the list the more I read. Romances, especially contemporaries, usually are my first choice, but I read all sorts of books, fiction and nonfiction, as well as magazines and other written material.
Do you have a favorite book you’ve written? Getting Her Money’s Worth always will be near and dear to my heart because it was my first and I put so much of myself into it. I self-published it as an e-book, which was a ton of work and taught me so much about how the book business works. The Shore Thing, released September 1 by Liquid Silver Books, is special to me, too, because it’s my first full-length novel. As much as I love that story, I’m even prouder of Shore Feels Right. And I’m expecting Shore to Please to be even better. Maybe by the time I’m eighty I’ll finally figure out what I’m doing. 🙂
Who would you consider an influence on your writing? I don’t try to write like anyone else because every writer has to find his/her own style. I’m in no way comparing myself to Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, Kristan Higgins or any other best-selling authors, but the tone of my books probably is similar to theirs. They’re among my favorite authors, so it makes sense that I’ve learned by osmosis just from reading their books. I also credit Catherine Anderson with helping me fall in love with reading again. I read a lot as a child and then slacked off after I started working as a journalist. I spent so much time writing and reading during my workday that for a while it became the last thing I wanted to do when I wasn’t at work. But then at least ten years ago, I discovered Catherine Anderson’s romance novels and have been a voracious reader ever since. Reading is absolutely vital for any writer.
Tell me something quirky about yourself. When I was a kid, I used to do a little trick on a diving board that drove my brother nuts. I could jump off the board and keep my head from going under when I hit the water. I was quite skinny back then and didn’t weigh much, and I’d kick rapidly as soon as my legs hit the water. No matter how many times he tried, my brother couldn’t manage to duplicate my minor feat. We always stayed in motels with pools when we went on vacation (we didn’t have a pool at our house and loved to swim) so I always seemed to be doing my trick in front of other people. Sometimes just about every boy and girl in the pool would be trying to duplicate it, usually without success. I’ve gained weight and lost muscle tone over the years, and I couldn’t keep my head from going under the last time I tried to do the trick more than a year ago.
What do you aim to make people feel when they read your books? I want them to get so involved in the plot that they stay up way too late reading at night. I want them to become so enamored of the characters that they’re disappointed when the book ends. And I want them to feel what my characters are feeling: the thrill of falling in love; the satisfaction of finding their place in life; the joy of spending time with good friends, loyal pets, and cherished family members.
What’s next for you? I’m looking forward to the release of Shore Feels Right on November 3 while I continue to promote my previous books, connect with readers, and work on future novels. At some point, I’d also like to make Planet Hairnet available to readers.
Do you sing in the shower? No. Usually I sing in the car.
As a girl, Annette dreamed of being an astronaut, but she stank at science and math and became motion sick riding the bus home from school. So she went with her second choice—newspaper journalist—and stuck with it for more than three decades. After years of ignoring people who said, “You should write a book,” she finally did. And then she wrote a few more. When she’s not working, Annette usually has her nose in someone else’s novel or her eyes glued to sports on TV. She has three totally spoiled pets, enjoys being the designated sightseer on her husband’s Harley, and volunteers at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of diva dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films.