Ask an Author #2 – Writing Process

Here is the second installment of the Ask an Author series.

Do you have a set schedule for writing, or are you one of those who write only when they feel inspired?

I write mainly when I feel inspired but if I have a book on the go, I try to set times for myself to sit down and write. I usually try to make word count goals but I’m not as regimented as I know some other writers are.

How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?

If I’m feeling unmotivated, it is very hard to sit down and write which occurs, unfortunately, more often than not. I sometimes open up my work in progress and sit staring at the screen for a while before closing it and plan to try later. Other times when I get in the zone, I can write for hours.

What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

Writing. The hardest part of writing for me is actually writing. Most people can come up with book ideas. But not everyone can sit and write for an extended period of time or they give up after a while. Writing chapter after chapter and then having to edit and do rewrites is not easy. As a self-published author, I also do all the formatting, cover design, writing the description, etc. yet the hardest part is still writing the actual book. Figuring out how the plot goes and character development is still easier for me than actually sitting down and writing it out, following it where it leads.

What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

For me, the easiest aspect of writing is coming up with the idea for a book. I don’t always know how to make it work for a book but ideas will often pop into my head at random times. The main premise of the last book I wrote came while I was shelf-reading at the library I work at.

Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or can you just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I can write almost anywhere as long as I’m motivated enough, but I prefer if there aren’t too many distractions.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

On average, it takes me about 1-2 years to write a book.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I don’t have a set way I select character names. Sometimes I’ll choose a name based on a character’s traits or if I want a specific meaning. Other times it’s a name that I hear in a show, movie, book, etc. that I liked and thought it would fit with my character. The majority of the time it involves me browsing through baby names to find one that fits the ethnicity, age, and personality of the character.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I think the hardest part of writing from the opposite sex is making it sound like them. In my case making him talk, think, and respond like a man. But I think that happens whenever you have a character that isn’t like you. You need to get inside their head and write how they would think and respond instead of how you would personally. Their personality, thoughts, background, etc. are not your own so you can’t project your own thoughts and ideas onto them.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

It depends on the book I’m writing. For my latest book, I didn’t have to do any research as it was based on my life and things I already knew. For the book I’m currently writing and for my second book, I’ve had to do more research. My research usually involves finding resources online and in books from reliable sources. (My training in library research and my work in a college library helps with this.) I spend as much time as I need to understand the topic I need and will often do more research if something comes up in the book that I hadn’t thought of when researching or I need more knowledge.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I like to set a plot so I have an idea of where the story is going but if the story heads in a different direction as I’m writing then I will follow where it leads and adjust my plot accordingly.

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Ask an Author #1

I’ll be doing an Ask an Author series consisting of 4 posts where I answer various questions that I got online. This first one is a mixture of questions whereas the succeeding posts will be more theme based.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Not really, although some people think that Angela Suzanne is a pseudonym because I don’t use my last name but Angela Suzanne is my given name. One of the main factors I chose to go with my first and middle names instead of using my last name was because if I was to ever get married, I would be changing my last name and then I’d have to choose if I wanted to change my writing name or not. I may change my last name but my first and middle names will always stay the same.

Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes. I’m currently in a state of reader’s block. There have been numerous books that I’ve started recently and put down after only a chapter or two because I couldn’t get into them. I’ve been finding the same thing with TV shows and movies right now and at times it’s frustrating because I want to watch or read something and nothing catches my interest.

What do you do in your free time?

During the school year, I volunteer with a kids program once a week. I also take part in various activities put on by my church. Other things I do are spend time in nature, nature photography, read, write, listen to music, organize, listen to podcasts, spend time with family, play around with Excel (this one doesn’t happen too often but I do it occasionally).

Do you keep a diary?

Kind of. I have a journal but I’m very sporadic with writing in it. In the last couple of years, I’ve only written in it a handful of times. I used to be better at writing in it. I always plan to get back into it more regularly but haven’t made the effort to do it yet.

Do you have a library at home?

I have a small one. I moved to an apartment a few years ago and I got rid of a lot of books before the move because I didn’t want to have to pack them all up and I knew I wouldn’t have space for all of them.

If you could live anywhere in the world, which country would you choose and why?

Right now, I think I’m happy living in Canada on the prairies. It is where my family is, love the open green spaces, prairie sunsets, “free” healthcare, and it would take me a long time before another country could feel like home. I wouldn’t mind visiting other countries but they’re not home.

Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece?

No, but that could be interesting to do. I’d have to stretch my imagination quite a bit as the majority of dreams I remember are very strange and I wouldn’t be share how to incorporate that into a story. Although I probably could create a story from some of the recurring nightmares I had as a kid.

If you had to give up either snacks and drinks during writing sessions or music, which would you find more difficult to say goodbye to?

It depends if the drinks include drinking water as well. The snacks I could give up easily but if I couldn’t drink anything during writing sessions, I would have short unproductive writing sessions because I need to stay hydrated.

Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why?

I find that they all have the benefits but I prefer physical books. I can take physical books outside to read, it’s not as hard on my eyes, I don’t have to charge them, it’s easier to see how far I am in the book.

What is your favorite word, and why?

I don’t have a favorite word because I like many. I have been accused of using big words and numerous occasions by my brothers. The most recent word that’s been added to the list of words I like is “pusillanimous”. It means showing a lack of courage and resolution; marked by contemptible timidity.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?

Yes, I believe there is some truth to it. Writers tend to be in their heads a lot and writing itself is generally a solitary endeavor so it leads to writers being by themselves a lot. This isn’t to say that all writers are loners but I think in a generalized sense it has some truth to it. I know I lean toward loner tendencies.


Gasping for Air Giveaway

This is the final post before I’ll be drawing the winners of my Gasping for Air giveaway. Winners will be selected and contacted on Friday, March 29. So get your shares, comments, questions emails, etc. in to get entered. Click here to use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway.

Author Travis Thrasher

Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?
Daniel and Casey were an unlikely couple back in high school when they came together to write music for a school event. Struggling against their differences, they dated during college, but their relationship never seemed quite right. Yet despite their personal conflict, as songwriters they had undeniable chemistry—and several hit songs. Eventually they went their own ways, both trying to make it in the music world and find true love.
Years later, both Daniel and Casey are at rock bottom, still trying to find success. But when they connect again as old friends, they realize that what they needed was right in front of them all along: each other.
From Thompson Square, a married twosome who knows a little something about what it’s like to overcome years of struggle in the music business and find love, ARE YOU GONNA KISS ME OR NOT? is a charming and humorous love story about coming of age, knowing where you belong, and finding the perfect person to share life with.


I haven’t actually read this book by Travis Thrasher but it intrigues me. I’ve heard this song by Thompson Square on the radio many times and I’m intrigued by a book based on this song. I’ve read other books by Travis Thrasher and I’ve enjoyed them.

I had the privilege of asking him some questions about writing and he graciously answered them even with his busy schedule.

If you want to check out his books or read more about him, head over to his website TravisThrasher.com.


Would you recommend an aspiring author to get some kind of formal training?

Travis Thrasher: No. An author simply needs to read a lot and write a lot. Formal training is great, but there’s a very long list of talented and amazing writers who didn’t have much of an education. Writing is a craft you can become better at. Sometimes you can’t become a better singer or basketball player, but for writing you can become a better writer.

How often and how long would you recommend a starting author to write?

Travis Thrasher:Develop habits and routines. Know what works for you. You don’t try to run a marathon the first time out. You have to train and build up your stamina. Write and love writing.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Travis Thrasher:When you’re a fulltime writer who has three young children and your wife is a stay-at-home mom, you don’t ever get writer’s block.

Here’s another way I look at writer’s block. Do you ever have worker’s block? Do you ever just wake up and go “Nah, I can’t go in to work today.” That never happens because you’d be fired. View writing like this. There are days when everything I write is crap, but I still write. I don’t believe in writer’s block because I think it can be one of the many things that writers use to prevent themselves from writing.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Travis Thrasher:The longest time it’s taken to write a novel was over six years. The shortest time was three weeks. Both of those are a bit extreme. Typically I’d love to spend about six months working on a project.

How often do you publish a book?

Travis Thrasher:These days, as often as possible.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Travis Thrasher:From songs. From the smiles of my daughters. From the sun streaking in my office windows. From memories that suddenly show up out of nowhere like shells on a beach. From amazing stories I might hear about. From awful books or movies I want to redo. From my own failures and my many questions. From the mysteries of life and from the breathless hours that fill it. The world is an open book and each day I try to fill up some more pages in some way.

How do/did you build your voice/brand as an author?

Travis Thrasher:I’ve built my voice from simply writing over and over again. I think I really am finding my voice as a writer. As far as brand goes – my brand is having no brand. I’m a chameleon and I love it.

How often do you edit/rewrite before you believe your manuscript is read for publishing?

Travis Thrasher:I live in a world of deadlines so usually I’m all about meeting them. Sometimes a manuscript could use another go through, but it always depends on the schedule. I think my stories are getting tighter and stronger, but thankfully I’ve had wonderful editors who make me look better than I am.

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books and if yes, what do what do?

Travis Thrasher:All the time. From Facebook to Twitter to my website to doing stuff like this, I’m always talking about my writing and promoting my stories. I’m a bit tired of myself. But until you become a brand name, you have to do it. I love getting out and meeting readers and signing books. I try to still do that all the time. I also love book clubs. I have a couple this month. I’ll go and visit the book club, we’ll talk about my book, and then I’ll sell some more copies of my books. I enjoy things like this.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Travis Thrasher:I was in third grade, heard my teacher read the Narnia Chronicles by CS Lewis, then was encouraged by the teacher in my writing. That did it. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since.

 

Author Lynn Austin

Though born the second son of King Ahaz, Hezekiah is not protected from his father’s perverted attempts to gain the favor of the idol Molech. Terrified and powerless at the foot of Molech’s altar, Hezekiah encounters for the first time the one true God of his royal ancestry, Yahweh.But his journey to the Holy One is riddled by influence from an assortment of men: Zechariah, a grandfather of noble standing who has fallen into drunkenness; Uriah, the High Priest whose lust for power forces him to gamble the faith he proclaims; and Shebna, the Egyptian intellectual who guides Hezekiah’s instruction.For the two women who love Hezekiah, the meaning of love – and its sacrificial essence – will direct the course of their lives and help shape the young prince’s future.


This is the first book in the Chronicles of Kings series by Lynn Austin. This was the first book I ever read by Lynn Austin and I enjoyed the series very much. It was also the first book I read of a fictionalization of Biblical stories. This book along with the rest of the series made the story of King Hezekiah as well as his son King Manasseh come alive to me and it has also helped me in remembering the Biblical account as well. The Chronicles of Kings series made me interested in reading books based on Biblical events and I’ve read many since reading this book quite a few years ago.

Not all her books are based on Biblical events but rather she is a historical fiction author. Her books take place in historical times and encompass what life was like back then.


I had the privilege of asking her questions about her writing as well as writing in general. She was gracious enough to answer my questions and here I will be sharing them with you.

Would you recommend an aspiring author to get some kind of formal training?

Lynn Austin: I don’t think this is necessary, I would let your writing speak for itself. Although something that has helped me tremendously over the years has been being a part of a writer’s group. We meet about once a month and read portions of our work to each other to critique and encourage. It’s always good to have a trusted friend or fellow author look at your work but I don’t think formal training is necessary.

How often and how long would you recommend a starting author to write?

Lynn Austin:I would recommend writing every day. It does become more of a “job” this way and it can often be difficult for me to force myself to write. But the more you write the more practice you get and the better you become.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Lynn Austin:I highly recommend “The Artist’s Way” and other books by Julia Cameron. This book has exercises to help work through these blocks and let your inspiration flow. I also try to take small trips that help get my creative juices flowing and to get a fresh perspective, such as a trip to the botanical gardens, a quiet walk through the forest, visiting an art museum or going to a concert. I recommend finding places that inspire you, I always come home from one of these trips feeling ready to sit down and write.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Lynn Austin:It takes me a full year to write a book, I know a lot of authors that can write a book in less time so it is possible but it takes me a year.

How often do you publish a book?

Lynn Austin:Once a year. Although I also have a non-fiction book coming out this year in addition to my Biblical fiction book. I have been working on this non-fiction book for a couple of years.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Lynn Austin:Much of my inspiration comes from talking to people and hearing their stories. I also get inspired by studying history and visiting historical sites for research.

How do/did you build your voice/brand as an author?

Lynn Austin:I believe that your voice comes after writing as much as you can. The more you practice the more your voice will come through in your writing. I let my publisher worry about “brand.” 🙂

How often do you edit/rewrite before you believe your manuscript is read for publishing?

Lynn Austin:I edit and rewrite hundreds of times! I would 80% of my time is re-writing.

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books and if yes, what do what do?

Lynn Austin:Marketing is not my strong suit, luckily my publisher suggest things for me to do. The world of marketing has changed so much since I started writing, with the advent of social media. I’ve been trying to keep up with it all and I’m now seeing how helpful social media is not only for reaching your fan base but for marketing as well.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Lynn Austin:As a young girl I was always making up stories and I’ve always had a wild imagination, but I never knew I wanted to be a writer until I decided to try writing a book. Once I started writing I discovered that I really love it.

If you would like to read more about Lynn Austin and check out her books, you can visit her at lynnaustin.org.

Author Denise Hunter

On the beautiful island of Nantucket, salt and roses scent the air, waves sparkle over hidden currents, and a storm-tossed soul seeks safe harbor.

When Samantha Owen’s estranged stepfather dies, she inherits his cottage in Nantucket–a place she left years ago, never planning to return. As a single mom, Sam can’t afford to pass up on a financial windfall like ocean-front property. So she travels home to fix up the house and sell it . . . never suspecting that Landon Reed still lives two doors down. As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn’t know why she left the island. Will the secrets she’s hidden all these years tear them apart . . . or is Landon’s love really as unconditional as he claims?

Denise Hunter weaves a heart-tugging tale of shattered trust and enduring love . . . all in a romantic seaside setting.


Here is another interview (email style) that I had the privilege to do. Denise Hunter writes mainly Christian romance and I asked her the same questions as the other interviews.

Would you recommend an aspiring author to get some kind of formal training?

Denise Hunter: Formal training really isn’t necessary. You definitely want to learn about writing, but that can be accomplished with books, conferences, workshops, and critique partners.

How often and how long would you recommend a starting author to write?

Denise Hunter: However much time the writer has. But it should be regular. I only wrote during my boys’ nap times when they were little. The important thing is to set a goal – no matter how small – and stick to it.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Denise Hunter: I’ve never had writers block. Sometimes I get stuck in a story and I don’t WANT to write, but I just keep at it until. I figure out what happens next.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Denise Hunter: From Chapter one until The END, 4 months. Then another month for rewrites.

How often do you publish a book?

Denise Hunter: Currently I’m publishing 1 book and 1 novella every 9 months.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Denise Hunter: Romantic books and movies, and compelling songs.

How do/did you build your voice/brand as an author?

Denise Hunter: I just wrote the books I wanted to read and let the rest happen. I’m a die-hard romantic, so I’ve stayed in the romance genre. I like emotional, evocative reads, so that’s what I write. The voice takes time and develops as you grow and gain confidence in your writing.

How often do you edit/rewrite before you believe your manuscript is read for publishing?

Denise Hunter: I do a total of 6 drafts before my editor gets hold of it. 🙂

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books and if yes, what do what do?

Denise Hunter: Oh, yes. It’s expected these days. I’m active on Facebook and Twitter, I place Facebook ads, guest post on blogs, do my own blog, etc.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Denise Hunter: I wondered for years if I could write a book, but I kept putting it on the back burner. My grandpa’s death inspired me to get going, and now here I am, 20 plus books later. I never dreamed what wonderful things God had in store.

For those of you who wish to find out more about Denise Hunter or want to check out her books, you can visit her website denisehunterbooks.com.

Other Author Interviews
Irene Hannon
Robert Whitlow

Author Robert Whitlow

Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina. Robert Whitlow’s biography via his website


Life-SupportHow can Attorney Alexia Lindale support the wishes of her client when the goal is a near-certain death?Baxter Richardson epitomizes the American dream: good looking, wealthy, and recently married to a beautiful woman. But when Baxter plunges off a cliff and onto the rocks below, his life and the lives of those around him are forever changed.

Bright young attorney Alexia Lindale never knew Baxter. But she knows the law. And she’s used to winning. As a prominent local divorce lawyer, she’s used to the men of Santee, South Carolina cringing when their soon-to-be ex-wives hire her. But then her firm assigns her to Rena Richardson and Alexia’s life turns upside down.

Rena doesn’t want a divorce. She wants to unplug her husband, Baxter, from life support, claiming its what Baxter would have wanted. But Baxter’s father is threatening to legally override Rena.

Everyone involved has ulterior motives. Yet God has higher plans. Filled with legal twists, deep questions about life and death, and truly memorable characters, this fast-paced, two-part series delivers a story that will stay with you long after the last page.


Here is another interview (email style) that I had the privilege to do. This time I asked Robert Whitlow the same questions I asked Irene Hannon. If you want to read her answers, you can click here to read that post.

Would you recommend an aspiring author to get some kind of formal training?

Robert Whitlow: If available at a reasonable cost. There are a lot of good books on writing. You might want to check out Self Editing for Fiction Writers as a place to start.

How often and how long would you recommend a starting author to write?

Robert Whitlow: It’s important to write every day if possible. One hundred good words is better than no words. I aim for a 1000 words a day.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Robert Whitlow: Review some of what I’ve written the previous day. That usually does the trick and triggers a thought or snippet of dialogue to build on.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Robert Whitlow: Ten-eleven months, including editing.

How often do you publish a book?

Robert Whitlow: One per year

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Robert Whitlow: Either life experiences of imaginative thoughts about characters or plot.

How do/did you build your voice/brand as an author?

Robert Whitlow: Voice emerges as you write.

How often do you edit/rewrite before you believe your manuscript is read for publishing?

Robert Whitlow: I edit daily, then go through at least two full edits of the manuscript. I like editing because it is a chance to make a book better.

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books and if yes, what do what do?

Robert Whitlow: I maintain a website. There is publicity related to the film versions of the stories.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Robert Whitlow: I wrote my first novel, The List, for my wife. It was accepted for publication, which launched my career. Writing is part-time. I still practice law as my primary profession.

For those of you who wish to find out more about Robert Whitlow or want to check out his books, you can visit his website robertwhitlow.com.

Author Irene Hannon

Irene Hannon is a Christian fiction author. One of whom I have read numerous books. She writes Romantic Suspense novels and Contemporary Romance books. She has also won many awards for her books. Her books contain a faith aspect to them but they are not preachy. So far I’ve only read her Romantic Suspense novels which some people don’t even know is a genre of novels.Sidebar: A little while ago while working in the library, someone asked me what type of novels I like to read and I told them I generally read Romantic Suspense and they asked if that was a genre. She asked what the suspense was; were the characters going to get together. So I had to explain to someone what the Romantic Suspense genre was all about which I found interesting.

In Harms WayFBI special agent Nick Bradley has seen his share of kooks during his fifteen years with the Bureau, from the guy who insisted he’d been abducted by aliens to the woman who claimed God had told her to assist the FBI by acting as His intermediary on difficult cases. But Rachel Sutton is an enigma. She seems normal when she shows up at the FBI office in St. Louis—until she produces a tattered Raggedy Ann doll she found and tells him it gives her bad vibes. Nick dismisses her—only to stumble across a link between the doll and an abducted infant, setting in motion a chain of events that uncovers startling connections…and puts Rachel’s life on the line.

Here is the book of hers that I’ve read most recently titled In Harms Way. It is the third installment in the series Heroes of Quantico. However, all her books can be read as stand-alone novels even if they are in a series. I found In Harms Way to be intriguing and suspenseful. It kept me guessing and kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next and how the story would play out. I would recommend anyone who enjoy Romantic Suspense to check out Irene Hannon’s books.

Recently, I emailed her with a few questions about writing and she was gracious enough to respond. I also wanted to share her responses with you. Below, in blue are the questions I asked and in red are her answers.

Would you recommend an aspiring author to get some kind of formal training?

Irene Hannon: I think writers are born, not made. No amount of formal training will make someone a writer. But if you’ve been blessed with the gift of writing, by all means join a writers group and attend conferences and workshops. Also, polish the basics – spelling, grammar, etc. Romance Writers of America has much to offer, even if your main genre isn’t romance, and there are chapters everywhere. But there are many other fine writing organizations, too.

How often and how long would you recommend a starting author to write?

Irene Hannon: The length of time doesn’t matter if you’re trying to shoehorn writing into a day job. But consistent writing does. That means it’s important to set aside X hours per week to write and to establish weekly or monthly word count goals.

What do you do when you have writer’s block?

Irene Hannon: Can’t afford to get this with deadlines looming! Seriously, writers write. Period. If words aren’t coming easily, write anyway. As Nora Roberts likes to say, you can fix a bad page; you can’t fix a blank page.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Irene Hannon: I write full time – and I do mean full time – all day, every work day. My romantic suspense novels require huge amounts of research, so I like to allow about 8 months for those. My women’s fiction/romance novels aren’t as research intensive, so I try to set aside 6 months for those. Both genres actually take less time to write, but I like to build in time for vacations, family emergencies, etc.

How often do you publish a book?

Irene Hannon: This year I have four books out. That’s unusual. For the past several years I’ve done three books a year. One or two of those, though, have been shorter series romance.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Irene Hannon: Everything. A snippet of conversation, a news story I read, a situation I observe. The idea for Vanished, my latest suspense novel, came to me one night when I was driving home along a two-lane road and came upon a bicyclist. I swerved to avoid him…and started what-iffing. What if a woman was on a country road in a rainstorm and a figure suddenly appeared in her headlights? What if she swerved, but felt a thump, and knew she’d hit the person? What if a good Samaritan stopped to help and promised to call 911 before she passed out from a bump on her head? What if she awakened an hour later and found no 911, no good Samaritan and no trace of the injured woman. All that from a quick glimpse of a bicyclist on the road!

How do/did you build your voice/brand as an author?

Irene Hannon: Your voice gels the more you write. So write, write, write. As for brand building, keep writing great books that your readers come to love and look for. If you’re known for sweet romance, don’t suddenly throw a vampire fantasy at readers!

How often do you edit/rewrite before you believe your manuscript is read for publishing?

Irene Hannon: I edit as I go, revising the previous day’s work until it’s ready to go into my master file. Sometimes that’s one pass, sometimes several. When I finish a manuscript, I do one final polish.

Do you do any of your own marketing for your books and if yes, what do what do?

Irene Hannon: I maintain a website (and keep it updated!) and do twitter and facebook. My publisher also does a lot of advertising and promotion, for which I’m very grateful, as that isn’t very common anymore.

How did you know you wanted to be an author?

Irene Hannon: This goes back to the first question. I was born an author.

I enjoy Irene Hannon’s books and I look forward to reading her Private Justice series which so far includes the book Vanished and the second book Trapped which is coming out later this summer.

For those of you who wish to find out more about Irene Hannon or want to check out her books, you can visit her website irenehannon.com.