I owe credit to my mother for suggesting that I write a "funny book about a female psychologist." It was a great idea because I've always been fascinated by psychology. I took Psych courses in school and even toyed with the idea of
becoming a therapist myself, so writing for someone in that profession came
easily and I enjoyed playing up the comedic aspect of it.
2) When did you take up writing?
I've always been a writer, going all the way back to childhood. It was just something that was second nature to me, and I loved to share my work with others. I wrote plays that my class performed in elementary school and continued on with essays, multi-part stories, and literary analyses all through my adolescence. I tried to write my first novel in my early twenties, but got distracted by work, social life, etc. Years later, I got back into writing through genre fan fiction (Yes, I'm admitting it! I wrote fan fic for shows like Smallville,
Roswell, and Angel. It was great fun and all the positive feedback I received compelled me to return to novel-writing.)
3) How important is setting/place in your writing?
Infusing a book with local color can bring it to life, which is why picking a setting for my novels is one of the first things I do when I sit down to plan out a story. I considered a lot of different locations for In Need of Therapy. Once I'd decided on Miami, it seemed completely natural for me to make my heroine a Latina (a nod to the large Cuban community in South Florida.) And now that I had my beachfront setting, I could populate the book with characters who were swimsuit designers, lifeguards, tapas restaurant owners, and attorneys specializing in estate law (There are a lot of rich, elderly
people in Miami!) Finding the perfect setting brought the whole book together for me and now I can't imagine
it ever having taken place anywhere else!
4) Do you have a favourite character(s) in your current novel?
Although there are several supporting characters I had a blast writing for in In Need of Therapy, I'd have to say that my heroine, Pilar, still stands out as my favorite. Since the book was written from a first-person POV, I spent 7+ months in Pilar's head. So, I know her inside and out - her hopes, her fears, her struggles. She's an incredibly warm and likable person I'd want to be friends with if she were real!
5) What's the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Believe in yourself and don't ever give up. It's simple advice, but nonetheless important because there is SO much rejection you have to deal with as a writer.
6) Do you have a schedule for writing?
I don't chain myself to my desk for X amount of hours a day, but I'm a creature of habit and I know when my brain is at its sharpest (that would be morning.) So, I work for several hours after breakfast, take a break to exercise and eat lunch, then get back on the computer for a good chunk of the afternoon. I never write in the evenings because my brain is mush after about 5:00 in the afternoon!
7) Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I'm a little bit of both. I would sooner walk into traffic than write an outline; I loathe the things. However, I have been known to use dry erase boards and copious amounts of neon-colored post-its to help me figure out the chronology of a book and how different plots/characters intersect. I always know the beginning and ending of my books and I write very
detailed character bios before I ever start work on a book. Then, I set the characters down on the page and let them play. They're very good at leading me where they need to go and I find that my stories unfold in a much more organic
way when I use this method rather than plotting out every little detail in advance. I always say that the best bits in my books are the surprises, not the things I planned.
8) Can you name three or four of your current favourite books?
I recently read On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves and have been gushing about it ever since. It was a really
gripping, emotional, satisfying read. Earlier this year, I read Entwined by Heather Dixon, which was a YA novel that re-envisioned The Twelve Dancing Princess fairy tale. That book had it all - magic, romance, shocking revelations, moments of heroism, tearful reunions. I thought it was wonderful! And lastly, I'm addicted to the Grave series by Darynda Jones, which I started reading thanks to a recommendation from another author friend. Those books are funny, sexy, and scary as heck!
9) Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
My next project is a still-untitled Chick Lit novel about two sisters who are polar opposites and live in San Francisco. I can't say anything more without getting spoilery, but I can promise plenty of comedy, romance, cute guys, and even
10) What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Focus on being the best writer you can be and don't rush to publish the first thing you write. Take the time to learn and grow as a writer. You will know when you've written the book that's "the one," then you can educate yourself on the different publishing avenues and decide what's best for you. It's the dawn of a new age for writers, and anything is
Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?
While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can't stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.
When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she's left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust
herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.
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