Chasing Dust: An Interview with Author Kaira Rouda

Today, I’m delighted to share the words and wisdom of Kaira Rouda. . . I especially love her thoughts on reviews. . . enjoy.  

1.Tell us about your book.

Chasing Dust: An Interview with Author Kaira Rouda Thanks so much for having me here. Laguna Lights is my latest, and it is book three of the Laguna Beach contemporary romance series. I’m so excited for it to be out in the world. The entire series is written around the premise of what happens to reality TV stars after the show is over and follows the stories of a group of adults who were TV stars in high school. This story is about Laura, the “it girl” back on the show, who discovers that Hollywood isn’t all she dreamed it would be. I love writing contemporary romance, and it’s a blast writing stories based in my beautiful hometown.

2. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I hang out with my kids as often as they’ll let me as they are all now in college and beyond. For hobbies, I love photography, yoga, meditation, and hanging out with my friends. My puppies are my constant companions – oh, and my husband and I love to travel. Life is good.

3. What made you believe you could write a book? How did you dispel doubt as you wrote?

It’s funny. My first book was a nonfiction title, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, I wrote while I was president of a national real estate firm and franchisor. I’d always dreamed of writing but never imagined my first book would be in the business/self-help/inspiration space. Everything happens for a reason, though, and I’m proud of the message of the book and that it has helped and continues to help, women entrepreneurs. A side benefit of that book was it gave me confidence as a public speaker, and as I went around the country encouraging women to put their passions into action, I realized it was time for me to do likewise. That’s how I finally got the courage to write my first novel.

4. How do you balance what will sell with what you want to say?

I really can’t worry about that. If you try to chase the market, you’re chasing dust.

5. Which is more difficult – drafting or revising? Why?

Revising. I am a pantser, I don’t outline, I just writer and watch my characters come to life. Therefore, my characters all believe they’ve had their final say by the end of the first draft. Of course, they’re wrong.

6. What is your favorite part about being a writer?

I love everything about being a writer. It is what I was born to do, and I knew it from at least third grade on, maybe sooner.

7. What is your least favorite part about being a writer?

I seriously love everything about my job.

8. How did you learn to write?

I want to say it was a gift, but I also know that I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting my craft. My parents instilled a love of words and reading early on, and I’m so grateful for that.

9. What are some things that get in the way of your writing? How do you move them out of the way?

The biggest obstacle to writing are my own, finely-honed procrastination skills. I may be a gifted procrastinator.

10. What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

When in doubt, just keep writing. Always. Write.

If you could inhabit the setting of one book, where would you live and why?

I’m doing just that! I am living the life of my dreams, living in Laguna Beach and writing about this beautiful setting for the Laguna Beach series: Laguna Nights, Laguna Heights and Laguna Lights.

11. What’s your philosophy and practice about reading reviews of your work?

Ha. I need a policy. It’s funny. I think the more you write, and publish, it lessens the sting of the bad review. Note I wrote lessens, but it doesn’t eliminate it. I suppose anyone who has been in this rejection-filled industry has to learn how to handle these things in her own way. In life, you are never going to be liked by everyone. It’s a lesson anyone in the creative class putting content on the public domain learns early on. Haters are out there. I think this is a long answer explainK13_1397R1ing that I don’t have a philosophy, but I do read all of my reviews and try to hold onto the positive ones in my heart.

Kaira Rouda is the author of contemporary women’s fiction and modern romance that sparkles with humor and heart. She lives in Southern California with her family, where she is busy writing her next novel. Join her sporadic newsletter at, her Facebook fan page, on Twitter and Instagram.

Buy Books. #ShopSmall

Buy Books: #ShopSmallWhen people ask me what I want for Christmas, my first answer is always books . . . I expect you may feel the same way.  Very few things make me happier than a stack of books waiting to be read.

Now that I’m also an author, I feel that way even more because I know that when I buy a book or someone buys one for me, a writer’s livelihood is increased and their vocation affirmed in some small way.  After all, authors are small business owners.  

Our businesses are our books. . . and while almost none of us can support ourselves entirely through book sales, many of us supplement our income and grow our other businesses through book sales.  For example, when someone gifts a copy of my book Writing Day In and Day Out, they are not only providing me a small bit of income, but they are also helping to spread the word about my writing but also about my editing and coaching businesses that are actually the bulk of my income.

So tomorrow, on Small Business Saturday, remember the authors of the world . . . buy a book or 20 . . .  visit an independent bookstore . . . make purchases from your writer friends’ businesses. . .

Every book you buy helps a writer get her wings . . . okay, not really, but it does help her buy groceries and publish more books. And we all know that food and books are two of the best things in life, right?


By the way, before you go, take a look at the infographic at the right.  Freshbooks, a great accounting tool for small business owners, put this together to show just how much of an impact shopping at local, small businesses makes in our communities.  So tomorrow, I hope you’ll join me in supporting #smallbusinesssaturday.  


Pieces, Puzzles, Books, and Death

Pieces, Puzzles, Books, and Death

Today’s puzzle.

Always begin with the straight-edges . . . that’s our family way.  Sort through that entire box of pieces until you find everyone. Then, you can begin to put together the rest of the puzzle, section by section, sorting out the pieces again and again.


You must resist the common urge toward the comforting narrative of divine law, toward fairy tales that imply some irrepressible justice. The enslaved were not bricks in your road, and their lives were not chapters in your redemptive history. They were people turned to fuel for the American machine. Enslavement was not destined to end, and it is wrong to claim our present circumstance—no matter how improved—as the redemption for the lives of people who never asked for the posthumous, untouchable glory of dying for their children. Our triumphs can never compensate for this. — Ta-Nehisi Coates


My mother died five years ago today. 1,825 days ago. 43,804 hours ago. I was not with her when she took her last breath.  I was asleep on the couch, in my clothes, dreams of that documentary series about earth spinning wild behind my eyelids.  I knew her end was coming, and I chose not to be there.  I am still okay with that choice.


I have sat with Coates’ book for the last few days, let his words pour over me like a waterfall. . . or maybe a log-strewn, house-carrying torrent would be a better metaphor.  I’m listening to him read his own words, listening to his pronunciation of “ask” as “ax,” and celebrating the power and truth of accent and experience.  The control he exerts over language, even as he expresses the flood of American-made violence that takes away his control over his own body and the body of his son.  To say I am changed by his words . . . I don’t even have words to say except to say my own body has been shaped by the language he is forming with his synapses and his tongue.


The last puzzle I remember doing with Mom was a big fairy tale scape, gnomes and maidens, a whip in a forest.  Mythical. Mystical . . . and really really hard. We sat as a family around this same table where I type . . . the first Thanksgiving after my first husband left.  How to do a holiday back again with my first family as my focus. . . I didn’t know what I was doing.

So we sat and put together the border first. Then, an area at a time. For days.

After that holiday, I would role that puzzle up and finally finish it three years later when I was selling the house and needed to clear it off the basement desk where I kept it so I could slide a piece in from time to time, when I wasn’t too busy being busy and helpful.


I cannot tell you why I need to write all these things together. . . except to say that today is the anniversary of my mother’s death, I am reading Coates’ book, and I am working on my second puzzle in a week.

I believe in congruities, the way parts of our life make up mosaic and mosaic is the only way of story.

So these things piece together . . . except, of course, there are no strait edges.


I would not have you descend into your own dream. I would have you be a conscious citizen of this terrible and beautiful world. – Ta-Nehisi Coates

If you have not yet read Coates’ work Between the World and Me, I urge you to do so.  Yesterday, after nearing the end of the audio version, I stepped into a bookstore and bought a print copy.  This is a book I need to keep near, to underline, to run ragged with my fingers and my study.  I need to see it every day.  

Dreaming Up a Story: An Interview with Novelist Julie Pollitt

One of the things I love most about writers is how much of what we love and appreciate in the world comes into our work. Today, I hope you’ll see that in the work of Julie Pollitt.  Enjoy!

Dreaming Up a Story: An Interview with Novelist Julie Pollitt1.Tell us about your book.In A Room to Call Her Own, Tess Porter sets out across the country to start a new life with her estranged father on the dangerous Colorado Frontier. When she arrives in Denver City to a tragedy, she struggles to keep her dream alive and get the justice she so desperately needs.
Former outlaw turned rancher, Ian Bidwell, spent most of his life ransacking the dreams of others, until he met Christ. He severs ties from his overbearing uncle, a man desperate for Tess’s land, and offers to help her.

As the two work together to run the ranch, Tess questions his loyalties. Will Tess learn the power of trust and allow Ian back in to her heart? Will Ian learn forgiveness in this sweeping love story set on the American Frontier?

Find out if love will prevail in this Christian historical romance.

I grew up in Colorado and have always had a love of history, especially Colorado history. I love the history of how Denver was settled and the stories of the adventurous men and women that came west to start a new life. I always wanted to write a book about the settling of Denver, so it was brewing in my mind for many years before I put it on paper.

I hope people will take away the fact that God is ever present in our lives, even when it seems all is lost. He is always there, in the midst of any circumstance.

2.What stories, themes, motivations do you find yourself drawn to in your work and in the works you read?

I love to read about mail-order brides and stories of the west. It fascinates me. I get very excited when I see a book about Montana, Colorado, or Wyoming. The openness and ruggedness of the land draws me in every time.

3. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I am running my two boys all over creation. I also volunteer at the elementary school each week and I’m on the PTA, so we stay pretty busy.

4. What made you believe you could write a book? How did you dispel doubt as you wrote?

I still have doubt! When there is a story bursting to come out, you just have to write it and you can only hope that people will like it. When I was in elementary school, we had an author visit our class. She had her entire book printed out on printer paper, before it went to the printer, and I was immediately fascinated with the process. I think I’ve wanted to be a writer since that day!

5. Describe the first 2-3 steps of your process in writing your book.

I am a mess when writing a book. I try to plot the book, but get sidetracked halfway through. I will sit down and start writing, and when I hit a bump, I go back and plot a little more. Once I finish the book, I go back and make changes, adding the finishing touches.

6. How do you balance what will sell with what you want to say?

I’m not sure I have tried to balance it. I write what I would like to say and hope it sells. I’ve received a couple reviews that said I was too preachy, but I’ve also seen where readers have highlighted parts of the book where I’ve stated how much God is in the mix. That keeps me writing.

7. Which is more difficult – drafting or revising? Why?

Drafting by a long shot. I don’t see myself as a super creative person, so the writing part is tough. I actually love to sit down and revise. I feel more creative in that process.

8.What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Dreaming up a story. I love the possibilities. As writers we can write about anything, and it’s exciting to know that.


9. What are a few of your favorite books of all time?

Some of my favorite books include When Calls The Heart by Janette Oke, Love Finds You In Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne, and Where Heaven Begins by Rosanne Bittner.

10.How did you learn to write?

I took many English and journalism classes in college. I also worked for a small newspaper in the Four Corners area of Colorado. I covered the big events as well as the small. It was a great experience.

11. What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

Sit down and write. Get it done. Go back and revise.


Author Julie PollittAuthor Julie Pollitt grew up in Denver, Colorado at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Julie now lives in Southwestern Florida with her husband and two boys. Find out more at, Author Julie Pollitt, and on Twitter.

When the Stories of Enslaved People Speak

When I say that I feel my life’s work is to write about the lives and stories of enslaved people, I’m not exaggerating. . . not even a little.  No subject, no stories, no people in the world fill me with more passion and purpose. And I do no work with more care and mindfulness.

I could say a lot about this work, talk about the parts of my life that have led me to it, share why I am so enfevered by sharing the stories of these incredible people that we have often – through apathy and intention – forgotten, preach about the legacy that the system of slavery has left in America today, lament the ongoing racism in our society and why I work with Coming to the Table. . .  and maybe I will do each of those things in the future.

But today, I want to point you to another story, the story of my friend Alice and a house she bought . . . and the way that she came to study, become impassioned for, and seek to find the stories of the people who were enslaved at her home . . . and to connect those people’s descendants to those stories.

So, here, is the beginning of Alice’s story . . .

Alice wanted to know more about its past; she had no thought about the enslaved people who lived there. She hadn’t grown up with a family legacy of slave-owning in any case.


But she wanted to find out about the place. What she learned was that Dr. James B. Rogers bought Bleak House plantation from the heirs of William Michie in 1836. The house in which Alice and Jon live today was built in 1854 and occupied by James and Margaret Rogers by 1857.  James and Margaret Rogers’ descendants were defeated by the Civil War, and moved to Kentucky. Alice has contacted them and let them know they have kin among the descendants of their ancestors’ enslaved people, but they so far have no interest in the information or in making connections.

Read more of Alice’s incredible story here –