How did you get the idea for America the Beautiful? How did you think of the title - I just love it? If this wasn't the original title what was the working title to this book?
“What if” plays a strong role in any book or book series. Someone asks “What if we do end up with a female president?” and your imagination soars. As to the title/series name of “America the Beautiful”, it was a joint Editor/Agent/Author creation.

How did you prepare to write about this subject? Your books are so detailed about the government and how each part works - what research did you do for the book?

The publisher had originally intended to release the first book during the early primaries so I only had four months to both research and write it. What I knew about politics would fill a proverbial thimble, so I had to research as I wrote, staying away from polarizing sources and sticking with more factual sources. There’s enough “us” versus “them” out there and one of my main goals was to NOT get caught up in that and risk alienating half of my audience with any political diatribes of any nature..

Some writers plot out what they are going to write step- by - step & others say they write by the seat-of-their pants, which style of writing best describes your writing style?

I always work with a fairly detailed synopsis, using it like a road map. It shows me the path I intend to take but if something happens and I need to take a detour, the map also shows me how to get back on course.

Is being an author everything you thought it would be? If not, what has been most surprising to you?

Like any other profession, you don’t really know what it’s like until you’re fully-embroiled in it. The view from outside is seldom accurate. Writing isn’t glamorous and book-signings are almost painful when they consist of smiling at passing strangers who have no idea who you are or why you’re sitting there. It always pays to know where the restrooms are in any bookstore because you’ll be asked that question more than any other.

Can you tell me of two "Wow" moments you have had since you have been published? What made it a "Wow" moment for you?

My first book came out in 1994 and the first wow moment I had was going into a bookstore and finding my book sitting on the shelf. Yes, I knew it should be there, but it’s not real until you see it for the first time.

Have you ever worked in a government situation? if so, what did you do? If not, would you ever consider it or recommend it to a friend?

I’m a military (in)dependent which in my case, means I’ve lived on military bases, gone to military doctors and existed within the military community. That’s my government experience. The military side of the government can provide you a good life if you know how to best utilize the various aspects.

Would you ever want to work in politics after writing these two books? Do you have friends that do?

Absolutely NOT. I hate politics. I had to research almost every aspect of the book because I have stayed away from politics all of my life. In some ways, it gave me a fresh slate which kept me from stumping personal political opinions within the book.

How did you get your knowledge of the campagin trail and beyond? Did you ever help anyone campaign before? Would you now knowing after writing this series?

Research, research, research. Besides CNN and political websites, I read personal blogs from people on the trail and did a lot of library research from campaigns past.

I have read you are the wife of a military officer and moved quite a bit, what were some of the place you lived you just adored? Why? Some that surprised you? Which ones?

I adored living in Colorado Springs. It’s beautiful, the people there are friendly and pro-military. I consider it home, even though I no longer live there. It’s where I got my foundation as a writer, also. The biggest surprise was Great Falls, Montana. Our previous assignment had been in a smaller town in another state where they didn’t like the military because we were “different.” We’d lived in the other location for a year and I disliked the less-than-friendly atmosphere beyond base. When we moved to Great Falls, we met more friendly locals the first weekend than we did the entire year in the previous location.

Did you have a say in choosing the book covers for your books. They have been really eye catching, I have found them intriguing. How did the process of picking book covers go for you?

Tyndale has been the first publisher to actively seek my opinion of the cover prior to printing and allowing me to make some changes. In some cases, they’ve made three or four mockups and I’ve picked which one I like best and then I tell them why. They’ve recognized that I have a good eye when it comes to graphic design and they’ve listened and acted on my suggestions.

Is there a question you wish someone would have asked you but didn't? If so, what was that question and could you answer it please?

I think I’ve been asked almost everything under the sun. Where do you get your ideas? When do you write? Will you write my story for me? Hey, I have this great idea for a story...

That last one is the one that bothers me the most. If you have a great idea, then write it yourself. I don’t need it because I have plenty of ideas of my own. In fact, I can’t listen to your idea.

How much of you is in this story? Please explain? Did it make it harder or easier to write?

I make up things for a living and I try to keep myself out of my books, simply so that I’m not writing the same character from the same viewpoint every time. That said, Kate reflects my personal belief structure and in writing this series, my first inspirational one, it was more assuring to model her beliefs from my own. Oh, and I also have a crazy howling dog who looks just like Buster. (But his name is actually Cooper.)

I've heard authors say that their characters came alive and took them places they didn't expect to go? Did this happen in a story? If so, please explain.

My goal is for every character to come alive and to shock me by saying or doing things I didn’t expect. In this case, Emily’s actions took me by surprise. I knew she was going to do something underhanded, but she caught me by surprise. I realize I’m in charge and coming up with this on a subconscious level, but it’s always a shock when I realize it on a conscious level.

I was totally swept up into both of these political thrillers and found myself rooting for Kate Rosen to stay strong and praying for Emily the President to have a softened heart and accept Christ as her savior (kind of like I'm praying for our President now). I totally loved how you ended both books. There is a third in this series. What is the name of the next book and where will you takes on that journey. Please give us a sneak peek.

The interesting thing about publishers is that they won’t go to contract on a full series, but only on the first few books to “test the waters.” I’m not under contract for any more “America the Beautiful” books although I’d welcome a chance to write more. It’s simply in the hands of the publisher. So, if you loved the books and want to see more, email Tyndale and tell them.

Out of all the characters you have written, and or read; which ones are most like you? Which one would you secretly want to be? Why?

I understand Kate the best because I’m “in her head” and see her motivations, her goals, her fears, etc. I don’t know that I’d want to be her, though. I really don’t like politics, you see...

I have recently become aware of your writing through this series but you have written a bunch. Out of all the books you have written which one are your favorite? (I know it's like picking your favorite child sorry) Which were the hardest to write for you? Why?

My favorite book is A MARGIN IN TIME because it was the first book to “flow” from me. The story came to me, fully plotted, and I have such strong mental images of all aspects of the book—from the characters to the locations, to the buildings, everything. I wrote the sequel to the book but the publisher had changed editors at that point and they dropped the project. I had plans for a third book in the series. Someday...I hope to see all three books released again.

When you look back on your life and count your many blessings, what blessings come to mind you'd like to share?

One of my greatest blessings given to me was my aptitude for and love of music. My parents recognized talent in me at a young age and allowed me to take piano lessons. They also correctly realized that I would never be a musical prodigal so I was allowed to play piano because I enjoyed it. That turned into 13 years of lessons for me. When it came time for college, people who really didn’t know me well asked why I didn’t major in music. My stock answer has always been, “Because music is fun. I don’t ever want it to be turned into work.” So music is still fun. It has never turned into work. That in itself is a great blessing.

What was your favorite scene to write in America the Beautiful? Why? What was your hardest scene to write from that book? What made it hard?

The most difficult were any “behind closed doors” scenes I wrote that required me to postulate what a presidential candidate and her campaign staff does behind closed doors. What made it hard was that there were no handy presidential candidates or campaign managers to interview to ask. I simply had to postulate from a logical standpoint.

What was your favorite scene to write in Red, White and Blue? Why? What was your hardest scene to write from that book? What made it hard?

It’s the same scene—the whole tornado bit. The original disaster scene was supposed to be the result of a hurricane, but while I was writing the book, our community was hit by a tornado and I was able to draw from personal experience when I wrote that sequence—the fear, the extensive but capricious damage.

Is there something you do everytime you begin a new project that really helps you in the writing process? Habit-Ritual? Please explain.

If I’m having some slow times, I’ve found it useful to shift to a new place to write—a restaurant or such. But because my material is often very dependent on researching on the fly, I always need internet access. It limits my choices, but I’ve gotten good at finding locations with free Wifi.





  1. All it takes is the first few measures of the Captain Kangaroo theme song and I can't help but break out into a big smile. Look! It's the Captain! Mr. Greenjeans. And Dancing Bear! (I clearly remember thinking as a little kid--"How he can play the trombone? He doesn't have a mouth!") Thanks, Nora!

  2. Great interview and the books look great! And thank you so much for the video! I loved Captain Kangaroo and Mr Greenjeans, Dancing Bear, and in the background I remembered Grandfather Clock. There used to be a rabbit that was always behind the desk and he was my favorite but can't remember his name.


  3. If we comment on the Captain Kangaroo show, does that age us? How I remember the shows. Never missed them. Thanks. Please, also add me to your contest for America the Beautiful.
    desertrose5173 at gmail com

  4. I loved Capt. Kangaroo when I was growing up!

    Please enter me in the drawing for America the Beautiful.

  5. Aha! The bunny rabbit's name was...Bunny Rabbit (sometimes called Bun.) His cohort in mischief was Mr. Moose. And the cartoon feature was Tom Terrific.