Here are 11 questions I’ve been asked that might help readers get to know me a little better:
- Who are you?
You’ll find a full body picture of me standing next to my blog partner, Kayuk, across the top of my personal blog.
This is how I look now:
This is how I see myself as an author:
As a comparison, this is how I will always see my daughter:
She’s 37, married and raising 2 teenagers.
- What makes you so interesting? Imagine a woman with dyslexia, Tourette’s, high anxiety (mostly in airports), extreme light sensitivity, a plethora of inconsistencies due to short circuits in the software (aka brain), holes in the visual field and other visual glitches that render her half blind and not-quite-right.
In two and a half words: I’m weird. Or, as it says on my Twitter page, “Well endowed with the multi-layered weirdness that lurks inside a not-quite-right-mind.” My 2 favorite albums are Master of Puppets (Metallica) and A Hundred Thousand Angels (Bliss). Yes, I was at the Houston 1992 Metallica/Guns N’ Roses concert when Axl walked off stage. No problem. Metallica rocked! But, I’m into both metal and meditation.
- Where did you get the ideas for your books? Dreams. My dreams are in color, every detail incredible. Some days the realism frightens me more than others. (Try hiding from hungry T-rex’s in a flower box.) Several dreams culminated in my first published book. I typed out the draft like a woman possessed!
However, the spark of life for the series of books that will follow ATTO RUN can best be described as weird with a side of boring. In the late 1990’s I served on a committee appointed by the governor. For some reason, I know not why, the chair spent the first hour of each meeting complaining about the minutes from the last meeting. I began to imagine what it might be like if the fate of the world rested in the hands of this committee.
- What’s the most embarrassing research you’ve had to do? One of the books in my series includes a combat scene. I had to find out what it looked like to be torn apart by an IED or a mortar shell.
- Okay, so you can write, but when did you learn to do laundry? My first year in college. Mom taught me how to iron, not how to wash, so I washed a purple shirt in hot water and turned everything lavender. A plain light grey sweatshirt was ground zero for the worst shade of yetch I’ve ever encountered. Of course, people laughed and I was teased until I just wanted to hit something. I wrote on the back and front of the sweatshirt, “I’M NOT PREJUDICED, I HATE EVERYBODY.” (Note to other weird people: Being avoided is preferable to being teased.)
- If you have a blog, how did that start? Very, very carefully. While looking through agents’ websites, I found one that said, in a nutshell, “We’re not looking at your work unless you have a platform of at least 400.” The word “platform” brought to mind those wretched shoes from the 1970’s followed by a soapbox to stand on in a crowd. I asked my friend, Kayuk, if she knew what they were talking about. She summed it up in 6 anxiety-producing words, “You have to have a blog.” Once I stopped yelling, “I can’t…because I can’t…I…just…CAN’T!!!” she said, “I’ll set one up for both of us.” She knows me too well: I doubt I would’ve written my first post if her name hadn’t been on the blogsite, too. She spent an hour walking me though the process from log-in to publish. After three years and 1,000+ posts, we now have over 5,000 readers.
- What’s your experience with editors? I LOVE my editors! My first editor was my sister. She hates editing, but agreed to help me (she knew it was the only way to make me fly to California for a visit). I have a four-part series on my blog called “Writing when you ain’t quite right” that explains the experience. It was an eye opener for my sister, a woman who just wanted to put squiggles on a page and be done with it. After sorting out what the word “editing” meant to a dyslexic with third grade sequencing skills, my sister said, “Don’t ask me to edit for you again if you want me to live.” I contacted EJ Geras, who agreed to work with me for a very reasonable fee. We spent two weeks at her home in Bromont, Canada while she read my book to me and we talked about the changes needed. If I could afford to fly to Bromont again and pay the price for editing, I’d do it in a second! My sister has since relented and began editing again when it was apparent she would never see me otherwise.
- Are you a Plotter or a Pantser? Pantser. I can’t do it any other way. Believe me, I’ve tried. Trying to teach me how to plan out a book is like trying to teach French to a lizard. And yet, for NaNoWriMo 2015, I wrote 68373 words by November 20. Just don’t ask me how long it’s going to take to edit that mess.
- What advice can you give to new authors? Don’t give up! Not everyone is fortunate enough to have OCD (i.e., I can’t NOT write!). Remember all those people who told you if you want to be a writer, write? That has some truth to it but it helps to take writing courses, connect with other writers, look for blogs that glean their writing advice from experts, and find a great editor. As hard as it is to see your writing torn to shreds by editors, it’s important to know the difference between constructive criticism and people who just want to make themselves feel important by tearing you down. Your writing skills will never improve if you can’t take constructive criticism, and it’s important to be able to differentiate between the artists and the assholes.
- Who helped you the most getting started? My first attempts at writing were truly awful. My sister and my son read part of what I wrote, encouraging me to continue working on my books. Had they said in the beginning, “This is the worst piece of C#&P I’ve ever read,” it’s possible I would’ve rolled into a fetal position and withered away. My first complete manuscript, over 700 pages, hit an impassible barrier. I sent it to a manuscript editor who charged me a fortune for a one-page review. One sentence of that review sent me into a creative frenzy, “There is a backstory here. Find the backstory.” The manuscript I sent to her is now the draft for books 14 and 15.
- Do you have a favorite quote from anyone besides you, and one from you?
- Favorite quote by someone else: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” Mahatma Gandhi.
(2) A favorite Haiku I wrote after awwwwing at this picture of my 4-footed companions:
Love needs only you
open to embrace your life.
Love wants nothing more.
Here’s the cover of my published book:
Sorry. That’s the agony of the feet. I’ll try to click on the correct picture this time:
The second book in the series should be available on Amazon by summer. I’d love to hear what you think about the book cover.