- A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
Some authors are socially inept, but most the ones I know (including myself) tend to be extroverted-introverts. I can turn it on in social and work situations, and happily engage with the people I meet, but I can also be very withdrawn at home. I often “cave.” Meaning, I hide out in my office to write, binge watch TV, or read in order to avoid adulting. Sometimes, the idea of leaving the house to shop, do beauty maintenance (hair cut, eyebrow waxing, manicure, etc), or other normal day-to-day excursions, especially in the winter, can be painful for me. I love to travel to warmer locations when I can, but even on these trips, I insist on a view because I hate to go further than the patio or balcony of the room I’m in. All that being said, I am not socially awkward. I’ve been told I’ve never met a stranger and that my hug is my handshake. So there you have it.
- How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something?
If I’m inspired or panicking the writing is not so much easy as it is prolific. If I’m not inspired, and my deadline is still months away, writing can be like going to a funeral, I feel obligated to do it but I don’t want to, and I am miserable during the process. So, when I sit down to write, sometimes it is like a unicorn with wings, and sometimes it’s walking through quicksand in rubber boots. However, when it’s the unicorn, it is the best job in the entire world.
- What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
For me, it’s the beginning. I love taking an idea and brainstorming all the “what ifs” while I dream about what the story will become. I’m not sure any aspect of writing is easy, but developing ideas for a story is easily my favorite part of writing.
- Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
Of course. Writing, like any job, is skill-based, and the more you do it, the more you study and practice the craft, the better you become. When I look back at my earlier writing, I see gaps in descriptions, choppy transitions, and some telling instead of showing. As my writing has evolved, I’ve worked very hard to put my reader into the story with the characters.
- Do you proofread and edit your work on your own or pay someone to do it for you?
I proofread my work then send it to three proofreaders, and an editor, then back again to two of the proofreaders, and then I proofread again, and run it through a grammar program for good measure. I was an editor for a literary press, and I’ve taught formal writing at a college level, and I can say with 100% certainty that there is not a single writer that can edit there own work accurately. There are clean writers, but even clean writers will have mistakes. Even after all the hoops I jump through with my editing process, there are still mistakes. Although, I defy anyone to find a manuscript that is completely error-free. I’ve never found a book, be it traditionally or independently published, that was free of mistakes. I think the best we can hope for is that the errors aren’t distracting from the story-telling.
- Have you ever left any of your books to stew for months on end or even a year?
Yes! You’ve Got Tail was a story I began brainstorming in 2009, I wrote the first draft in 2012 then rewrote the book twice before publishing it in 2015. I am currently working on a new series that will release in 2018 that I started writing in 2011. So, yes, yes, and more yes.
- Does a bad review affect your writing?
No. I read some advice from a television/ screenplay writer who said that once he started writing shows he wanted to watch he became much happier in his job. If the movie was a success then yay, his labor of love paid off, and if it failed, at least, he hadn’t wasted his time on something he hated writing.
I write books I want to read, but I’m not vain enough to think that just because I like a book, everyone else will like it too. I can’t please every reader, so I make sure I please the reader in me. Those bad reviews are a small fraction of the readers’ responses to my books. While I might get irritated, it would be silly to allow them to color the way I see my current works or to overshadow all the positive reviews and fan mail I receive.
- Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
See question 7. Our brains are hardwired to focus on the negative, but one bad review doesn’t negate all the good ones, and that’s what you need to focus on. Don’t give a reviewer that much power over your creative process or your sense of self-worth. Also, don’t engage with a bad review. Focus on what’s important: writing the next sentence. Also, write the books you want to read. Be your own audience.
- Who are your books mostly dedicated to?
My husband Steve, my BFFs Michele Bardsley and Dakota Cassidy, my sister Robbin, and hot, black coffee.
- It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?
It’s hard to get through life without having your heart broken at least once. I’ve been lucky in love, though, and I’m still with the first man I fell in love with. We’ve been together since 1986, and we’ve been married for 27 years (since 1990). However, there are many ways to have your heartbroken. I’ve been failed by family and friends, and each time it has created a scar on my heart. So while I’ve never had my heart broken romantically, it’s been damaged in other ways.
- Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that?
Hahaha. Oh, is that a serious question? I don’t know a single author who is independently wealthy.
- From all that we have been hearing and seeing in the movies, most writers are alcoholics. What are your views on that?
I rarely drink anything other than coffee, tea, or Diet Coke. I actually know only a few authors who are heavy drinkers. The rest of us are jazzed on caffeine as we frantically type away at laptops with worn keys while wearing coffee-stained pajamas and in serious need of a shower. In other words, we are hyper-sober (and a little bit stinky).
- Is it true that anyone can be a writer?
Anyone can learn to write well. Writing is a skill, and like with any skill, if practiced, you can become proficient at the task. You can nail grammar, punctuation, and mechanics. But not everyone is a story-teller. That’s where there is a departure between the formal writer (a learned skill) who writes persuasive essays, memos, research books, tutorials, articles, etc, and the fiction writer (something you just have to be born with), who creates believable stories and characters in worlds you want to read about (and sometimes live in). There is no shame if you are not a story-teller. The good news is, if you love to write, there are other aspects of writing that anyone can master with enough practice.
- Have you ever taken any help from other writers?
Yes! And I’ve helped other writers in return. Being a writer can feel isolating and lonely. Sometimes, the only way to anchor yourself or feel sane is to reach out to your peers. I’ve had many people in this business offer me an opportunity or a helping hand, and when I’ve been in place to accept it, I’ve done just that.
- Are you friends with any of your contemporaries? If yes, do you discuss your current projects with each other?
Yes and yes. Some of my best friends are writers. Michele Bardsley, Dakota Cassidy, and Robyn Peterman, for example, are people I talk regularly with online, on the phone, and in person. And, yes, we discuss our current projects. It’s nice to have sounding boards you can trust.
- Do writers become narcissists once their book starts to sell?
I imagine some do, but many of us get on to the business of writing the next book and worrying about what we are going to do once the sales fall off for the current book. It’s a hard gig.
- Are you working on something new at the moment?
Yes, I am! I am currently writing Furred Lines, book seven in my Peculiar Mysteries. This one is shaping up to be one of my favorites.
- How many children do you have? Do you see any young writers in any of them?
I have one child. A grown son (he’s currently 23 years-old). He does enjoy reading, but his creative talent lies with food. He loves to cook and is studying to be a chef.
- How liberal are you in term of expressing ideas in your books?
I’m liberal with my ideas and characters, but I’m not political. I try to write characters who are unapologetically diverse without being too message-y. I grew up poor, living in a small trailer with seven family members. Sometimes reading was my only escape from the real and difficult world I was living in. I want to do that for someone else. I want to take them out of whatever misery they might be facing, not drag them deeper into it.
- Is there a particular kind of attire you like to write in?
Anything comfortable without buttons, clasps, or zippers. So, T-shirt pajamas, night gowns, yoga pants, etc. Also, I always have a throw blanket over my legs. I get cold!