Frequently Asked Questions
What age are your books intended for, and what kind of content can I expect?
So, this is a question that I am asked more than any other. Seriously. After having unsuspecting grandmas buy my books for their ten-year-old grandson, I think people need to know the truth. My books are rated PG-13 for action, violence, substances (i.e., alcohol and tobacco), mentions of rape, a small amount of blood and gore, an excessive amount of kissing (kissing, embracing, etc. only—all else is fade-to-black), mentions of witchcraft and demons, attempted suicide, depression, slavery, brutality, multiple appearances of prostitutes, murder, thievery and piracy, and VERY spiritual content. No, they are not intended for children under 13 simply because it’s over their heads and some elements may not be suitable, depending upon their upbringing. And, yes, they are all (unless otherwise indicated) romance, so boys will most likely not be interested, despite the pirates. And, a very loud YES, my books are Christian. Most of them are preachy and some are very spiritual—for example, Prisoner at Heart has mention of demons, the casting out of evil spirits/sickness, and moments in which the characters lapse into sermons. I write what I believe, and I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No apologies. I do have stories planned in the future that are less romantic and more philosophical/theological than spiritual—although that does not mean that they are not exceedingly Christian. I just want any prospective readers to know, since I really don’t recommend my books for middle-school-age and younger.
As a high school student, how do you find time to write?
This is a question that I’ve been asked several times, but—to me—one of the less important and easier ones. I’ve been homeschooled since kindergarten, so I’ve had a lot of time for a lot of things. However, despite the idealistic image of lazying the day away in my pajamas, I do have a lot on my plate. Along with household chores, I dual-enrolled with a college for my freshman year of high school, in which I took an English class, then art and communication classes. Balancing that with finishing my second novel, Prisoner at Heart, last year and beginning my third the spring of this year was...different, to say the least. It was also very stressful, so I’ve finally found my “groove,” so to speak. I usually get two hours in the afternoon and the three before I go to bed. During the day, I’ll do my “chores” (i.e., checking my email, writing blog posts, review books, etc.). Sometimes, that takes up the entire two hours, but when it doesn’t, I focus on creating outlines for new ideas or do some research. My best writing always happens at night. Pick out a good scene from one of my books, and I’ll bet you that I wrote it at ten pm, when my eyesight was blurry and all my siblings were fast asleep. I still don’t have set routine, like famous authors do, but, hey—you can’t control inspiration, now can you?
Have you done any speaking engagements?
In fact, I have. I spoke not long after the release of my debut novel to the eight-grade English class at my local school. In January of this year (2020), I spoke at a local library. Surprisingly, the more seasoned audience was definitely the most receptive. You can’t get much out of kids these days, no matter how many times you try to field questions. I also had a book signing for both Held Captive and Prisoner at Heart. I’m more of a reclusive author, I guess you could say. All the greats are. However, if you would like me to come and speak, please contact me by using the form on the homepage!
Why and how did you become interested in writing or what inspired you to write?
I read. From a young age, I’ve read pretty much anything I could get my hands on—within reason, of course. And I’ve always been making up stories. That’s how I lull myself to sleep. My first one was about Romeo and Juliet, a husband and wife who owned an ice cream parlor. But the more I read, the more my imagination grew. Eventually, I decided I wanted to do something with these stories. I said, “I’ll wait ‘til I’m sixteen,” because at ten that was so far away. To keep track, I would take my little fashion design book and draw the main character. That was how I remembered the stories. I started fiddling around with a few ideas, but I finally settled down on one when I was about eleven or twelve and said, “You know what? I’m gonna do this.”
Where or how do you find inspiration? (Kinda goes with the one above.)
So, I can give you the straight—and commonplace—answer, that I find inspiration all around me, from nature to my family to the news to books, movies, and TV. All that would be true...but when I sit down to think about what inspired the novels in my Daughters of the Seven Seas series or some of my other ideas, I can only pinpoint certain aspects that were inspired by an objective element. The plot twist in Held Captive was inspired by some books that I’ve read. The ring in Prisoner at Heart was inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you will soon!) My character Elliot Fulton was partially inspired by both Larry the Cucumber and Lord Cayton in A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White. But the stories—the heart of the stories—were divinely inspired. The words themselves were written by the Holy Spirit. I’m serious. Looking back, I have no idea how my mind conjured up these things, and I can only say “God. Jesus. Holy Spirit. Christ in me.” I’m not a part of the equation—not really. He is my inspiration and He is my outcome.
Were your parents and teachers a great influence?
I would say yes. My mom doesn’t read and my dad mainly reads nonfiction—so I can’t say that I was surrounded by bookworms and readers. But I started reading when I was four, and if I wanted a book, we got it at the library. My grandmother had a collection of Nancy Drew, so that was what I feasted on for a while. I went to kindergarten for a few weeks—that’s all the school experience I have. After a while, my mom took me out, and I honestly believe that if she hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Having the opportunity to learn what I want at my own pace and to be able to focus on my interests has allowed me to grow not only academically but also as a person. So, I don’t really have any school teachers, aside from my college English teacher, who definitely did a lot to help my writing. But my parents? Well, they’re my constant support (even when they don’t always agree with all the kiss scenes I put in my novels), and my grandparents are so very encouraging and inspiring. I owe it all to Christ, but they do deserve a lot of credit too!
Have you written anything aside from fiction/books/novels?
So, I’m actually asking myself this question, but I’m sure someone will pose it to me eventually. I have dabbled in poetry, but I’m not sure anything I’ve written is good enough to share at this point. I’ve also entered two separate essay contests (I won one of them) and wrote a smattering of essays for school. I write on my blog—and some posts on there are my own spiritual ravings and have been featured in my local newspaper. Otherwise, no. I don’t write much for contests (although that’s subject to change) and the most “nonfiction” thing I write is book reviews and emails. Oh, I guess you could count the reviews. I’d call myself a reviewer, so, sure, yeah. I write book reviews. I’m also considering becoming a film critic, but I won’t quit my day job any time soon. 😋
Why did you choose the topics that you chose to write about?
Why did I choose pirates, or why did I choose historical romance? Well, the last one’s easier to answer. I chose to write—or, rather, the genre chose me—historical romance because that was what got me writing in the first place—Christian YA medieval romance. I’m not much of a tomboy, so I’ve never been grossed out by romance movies and princesses and stuff, but I guess my entire family has always been more...shall we say, Avengers rather than Austen. I like Indiana Jones and Iron Man and Pirates of the Caribbean and Chronicles of Narnia. Gone with the Wind and Sabrina and Pride and Prejudice didn’t become a part of my life until much later. So, yes, some of that action and adventure has bled into my writing, but that’s still not the basis for my chosen genre. My family started watching more TV series after the birth of my youngest sister in 2017, and since then, we’ve watched Dr. Quinn, The Waltons, I Love Lucy, Little House on the Prairie, Andy Griffith, When Calls the Heart, and many, many more. Several of those shows are set in the past (or else were filmed in the mid-1900s), so those shows and several movies that we’ve watched have inspired my love of history, but that’s still not the basis. Fairy-tale retellings are the basis. From there, Regency-era novels and Western romances and TV shows and movies gave life to different ideas. But why I chose pirates, when I knew next to nothing about piracy and had no idea that Shakespeare wasn’t alive during the Golden Age and didn’t even know that there was a Golden Age and still thought they buried treasure—well, that’s a question I’ll never know the answer to. I can only say “God.”
How long did it take you to write the first book, and did the sequel take longer?
Technically, it took six months to write Held Captive, and it took three extra months to edit and publish it (that includes waiting to hear back from a publisher that fell through, so...). In actuality, it took two years. I came up with the original idea for “The Lady Pirate,” then redid the plot and tried writing, then stopped after five chapters, then revamped it again and finally settled on it as “the” book in the summer of 2018. You can read about the whole, long process on my blog. The sequel, on the other hand, took six months to write—once I finally found my “groove”—and nine months total, in trying to find my footing and then editing.
What led you to self-publishing, and have you ever thought about traditional?
The last shall be first… Yes, I have thought about traditional. In fact, I tried fruitlessly (I didn’t try too hard, because I’m a cheapskate and most publishers don’t accepted unsolicited queries/proposals) to traditionally publish Held Captive. My attempts brought about nothing, so my mother and I took some time to really think about whether or not I wanted trad or if self/indie might would be better. Thanks to my uncle’s girlfriend (who is now his wife) and her suggestion of KDP—Kindle Direct Publishing—I found the perfect outlet for publication. I’ve begun a writer's "advice column" to tackle popular questions about writing and publishing, so if you have any more questions about publication, please contact me and ask!
You have two short stories and a novella—are they part of a series?
One short story, Home for Christmas, was written on a whim for the newspaper and later published, just for the fun of it. It’s subtitled as an “inspirational Christmas short story,” so it’s not as preachy as my full-length novels and it is set on Christmas eve/day. However, it’s not a part of a series and never will be. The other, A Christmas to Remember, was simply one scene that I wrote to come after Held Captive and before Prisoner at Heart—the first Christmas Rina spends with her new family. I didn’t want to not share it, but I wasn’t sure how to, so I simply dubbed it a Daughter of the Seven Seas short story. My novella, The Gift of Her Heart, was written purely for my own enjoyment—so it’s funny and pretty steamy, for clean Christian fiction, at least. It comes between my first two Daughters of the Seven Seas novels, telling the love story of two secondary characters from those books. I suggest reading it after Held Captive and Prisoner at Heart, since there are a few spoilers for both book. It is in a series all its own, because I do have stories planned for other members of the Arlington family.
Where can I purchase your books?
On Amazon, firstly. All are available in Kindle format and on Kindle Unlimited as well. My full-length novels (and, as of November 2020, my new novella) are the only ones available in print. They aren’t found in any bookstores, but you can request the novels and stores (like Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble) can order them from Amazon. Amazon is also selling several copies through third party sellers. These are more expensive—although you have the chance of finding a signed copy—and I don’t get any money from your purchase...though that’s not to say the third party sellers didn’t buy the book themselves in the first place.
Do you intend to make a career out of writing?
No. Now, before you blow me off as another "weekend writer," I want to assure you that I put my heart and soul into everything I write. I'm up at night writing and plotting and dreaming my books. I'm chatting all day long about "Rina this" and "Keaton that" and "oh, this should happen next!" Writing is, needless to say, my life and a big part of my calling. However, it is not a career. I don't do it for money or to support a family one day. I do it because I have a passion for it, a passion that trumps my love for ballet and art and music and even food. Yes, even food. I'm on the fence about sleeping and silence. 🤣 My future is uncertain at the moment, but I know that no matter what I do for a career later in my life (or if I have a career...don't look at me like that; I'm just a very traditional woman, thank you very much), I will always be writing.