Rae: Thank you for hanging out with me.
Stoni: Thank you for having me, Rae! It’s always a pleasure anytime we get together.
Rae: First, if we were meeting at a coffee shop I’d be drinking an spiced Latte with Coconut Milk with chocolate drizzle, what would you order?
Stoni: That sounds yummy! A warm drink if it’s cold outside and a smoothie with vanilla if it’s summer. I can’t be specific because I don’t have a favorite coffee drink. And you thought you’d start with an easy question…HA!
Rae: Before you published Erotic Romance you wrote a newspaper column and worked in the TV, Film and stage. How does one make the transition into writing Erotic Romance after that?
Stoni: Great question! I loved being an actor, especially because it’s how I met my husband. And I enjoyed writing my family-oriented column. The desire to pen a novel had been with me for decades, but I never found the time…and the thought of writing a book terrified me. More importantly, I didn’t believe in myself. Then, one evening after a particularly intense and unusually crappy month at the dreaded day job, I had this life-changing conversation with my husband. That evening, a storyline came to me and, three months later, I’d penned my first novel. It was one hot mess, but it was my beginning. I continued on that path and never looked back.
Rae: What was the biggest challenge you faced writing romance?
Stoni: The biggest challenge I faced as a writer was—and still do face—is learning the craft. There’s always room to grow. I read fiction and books on craft. Being in a critique group is key, and I glean a nugget or two from workshops, classes, and industry meetings.
Rae: Speaking of books, congratulations on the release of The Loving Touch tomorrow. It’s the third installment in your Touch Series, what was the inspiration for this series?
Stoni: Thank you, Rae! I’m super excited to share Taylor and Jagger’s love story. THE LOVING TOUCH is my first novella. Lesson learned here is that a shorter book does NOT mean less time and effort exerted. While there are fewer characters and a simpler plot, I still brought my A-Game.
Stoni: The inspiration for THE MITUS TOUCH (Book One in The Touch Series) came from the erotic, masked scene in Stanley Kubrick’s film, Eyes Wide Shut. The eerie underworld haunted me for years. The second book morphed when Crockett and Alexandra jumped off the page and wouldn’t stop “talking” to me. Crockett became my first book boyfriend. 🙂
Rae: How many books do you have planned in this series?
Stoni: As of now, I’m plotting the fourth (and another full-length) novel in The Touch Series. THE HOTT TOUCH is Maverick and Red’s love story. I’m also working on a project that includes short stories. The final story will be the jumping point for a new novel and the start of a different series, TBA.
Rae: There has been a lot of chatter on social media about planning and organizing to stay focused and succeed in personal goals for 2018. How do you keep it all from spiraling out of orbit between the family life and writer life?
Stoni: I’ve always been goal-oriented, so this year is no different. But as far as keeping everything from spiraling out of orbit (LOVE your phrase)…I can’t! Life is messy and crazy and unpredictable! Some days, my focus is my family. Other days I write. I also appreciate days that are a mix of this, that, and everything else.
Rae: When you sit down to write, do you write the old fashioned way or type away at the keyboard?
Stoni: I use a keyboard, but there are pads of paper and pens scattered around my house. Often times, as soon as I step away from the keyboard, I’ll have that “aha” moment and I’ll need to jot it down. Even if I tell myself I’ll remember, I might not. I’ve recorded stuff on my phone, too, but sometimes it makes no sense! When I wake in the middle of the night, I’m careful to write clearly. I’ve heard horror stories from writers not being able to read what they’ve written in the dark!
Rae: Writing all the words is a challenge, do you have a writing ritual or secret location to get the work done?
Stoni: Yes, writing can be a challenge, but I’m grateful every moment I live my dream. My writing ritual is simple. I work in my home office on a computer with a large screen, or out somewhere on my laptop. I turn OFF (yes, off) all social media and stay off the Internet. The exception? When I need to do research or use Merriam-Webster.
Rae: Are you the writer who has a notebook for all the words that flow while driving or do you dictate into your phone?
Stoni: When I’m driving, I’m driving. Period. But if something comes to me, I wait until I’m stopped to dictate into my phone and cross my fingers it’s not some garbled mess I can’t make sense of later.
Rae: How do you tackle plotting your series? Is it on a massive board, sheets of paper or just write as you go with a simple outline?
Stoni: Plotting, ah, plotting. I do a lot of brainstorming with my amazing, intelligent, and handsome hubby. I plot alone. I run things by trusted friends or fellow writers. Once I’ve got the foundation, I write it all out on index cards. It’s archaic, I know, but my system works for me.
Then, I let the characters fill the blank pages. Many times, they direct the subplots as I get to know them and the story unfolds.
Rae: A lot of authors use Pinterest and make awesome boards to tease readers, are you one of them?
Stoni: I have a Pinterest account that I used for MITUS, but I’ve been too busy to keep up with it lately. Tsk, tsk, I know.
Rae: As a reader who appreciates a book where the cover just screams “read me” despite not reading the blurb, I love your covers. Did you select the cover models and design them yourself?
Stoni: Thank you, thank you! I am completely biased, but I love my covers, too. I hired a fantastic graphic artist for MITUS because I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. When it was time to focus on the cover for WILDE, my husband and I decided to give it a try. We had a blast working together! I scoured through so many pictures of men I started to go bleary-eyed. The second I came across the photo that turned out to be the cover for WILDE, I knew that was my Crockett. My husband, Johnny, learned basic Photoshop, and together we created the cover. I repeated the process of finding Jagger. Once I found the right man, the rest was easy. 🙂
When I saw the photo of the man who looks exactly like Maverick Hott (THE HOTT TOUCH), I swooned. It’s how I envision Maverick. I can’t wait to reveal it!
Rae: When you are not busy writing, you keep readers updated on social media, what are your favorite types of posts, pics, or tweets?
Stoni: I share pics when I’m at writer-events or if I’m doing something fun with the hubs!
Rae: Where can readers find you in 2018?
Stoni: As of now, I’m planning on attending the Washington Romance Writer’s retreat, I might head to Denver in July for the national Romance Writer’s of America meeting, and I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Festival in September with the Maryland Romance Writer’s.
Rae: What can we expect in 2018? Do you have other projects in the works?
Stoni: THE HOTT TOUCH, will release late summer or early fall. And then, a book of short stores leading into my next series.
Rae: Thank you for hanging out in the cafe today.
Stoni: Thank YOU for having me, Rae. I love your energy, your beautiful smile and can’t wait to see you again! If your
followers want to visit, I welcome them to stop by my website.
1. What is a must-read book and why? Oh, goodness, I’m crumbling under the pressing of coming up with one.
2. What is one place that I should see if I visit your hometown? I call Northern VA my home, though I moved around a lot as a child. If in NOVA, head into DC. The Kennedy Center and the National Gallery of Art are great places to visit for art.
3. Do you take-in or cook? If so, what is your “go-to” dish? With so many healthy and quick options, I’m all about cooking these days. Pasta & salad. Chicken is an easy go-to. In the winter, we use the crock-pot. One-dish meals are super easy!
4. What is one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? I learned to read while living in England and spoke with a British accent. When we returned to the US, a teacher called me out and corrected me, again and again. Besides being humiliated, the beautiful accent faded, over time.
5. Hard Rock or Classical? Favorite Band or Artist? I love so many types of music. Love love love rock, but lately have been enjoying classical, too. All time fave: Pachelbel’s Canon in D but I also love Darth Vader’s theme music in the Star Wars movies. I listen to everything from Sinatra to Sia.
6. If you had an all expenses paid trip anywhere in the world for research, where would you go? Back to England.
7. What is your guilty pleasure? Potato chips!
8. What are you afraid of? FAILURE.
9. Tats or No Tats? If tats, how many and what did you choose for your first one? I love ‘em but don’t have any.
10. Organized or Free Floating? Organized.
11. Binge watcher or weekly viewer? Which show(s)? I’m into This Is Us and The Brave has snagged my attention.
12. What’s on your playlist? Everything from Aerosmith, The Black Eyed Peas, and Imelda May to movie scores by the amazing composer, Danny Elfman.
13. What play or musical do you want to see next? Wicked.
14. Are you a crafter? Does writing count? If so, then yes. Otherwise, no.
15. What’s your favorite TV show and why? Seinfeld makes me laugh.
16. If you could pick a book you’ve read and make it into a movie, which book would it be (besides yours 🙂 )? Hmmm, I have to get back to you on this one…I’m still thinking…
17. What’s your favorite movie of all time and why? I have a handful of faves, but if I had to pick just one: The Princess Bride.
18. Would you rather see a movie in the theater or at home on DVD and why? At home, but it depends on the movie. My son took me to see Interstellar and that was better on the big screen.
19. What is the one thing you can’t live without? My imagination.
20. If you could invite 5 people to dinner (not friends and family – that’s too easy) who would be at your table? Where would you eat? Rae…Rae, I’m thinking. JK Rowling, Steven King, Malcolm Gladwell, Emma Thompson, and Oprah pop to mind. But if you asked me on a different day, I’d come up with a different list of attendees. Where would we eat? Maybe the Inn at Little Washington.
21. If you could try any career for a day, what would it be? I’ve been a corporate trainer, a marketing rep, an account manager, an actor, and a temp. I’ve sampled plenty, thank you. I’ll stick with being a novelist.
22. Person you admire and why? My son. He’s a pretty amazing young man and, yes, I’m totally biased.
Rae: Thanks again for hanging out! Time for another spiced latte 🙂
Stoni: Thanks for inviting me, Rae. I love spending time with you. You’re the best!