Who am I? Well, about an hour ago, I was the middle-aged ditz in the market who tried to pay for groceries by swiping her AARP card instead of her debit card. Last week, I was the editor so engrossed in her work that when the phone rang, I answered it with “Put me on your Do Not Call List,” and hung up. It was my mother. Like most people, I come from a dysfunctional family which is not necessarily a bad thing because otherwise I’d have to take responsibility for my screw-ups. I always like to look on the bright side.
But I guess the appropriate response to ‘who am I?’ would be a description of what I do. I’m a freelance researcher, writer and editor. For my own amusement, I also do collage art. I’ve attended six different universities, having lived on both U.S. coasts (north and south) and in Montréal, with my undergrad work in French and grad work in Clinical Psych. I’ve worked in psychiatric settings, been a technical writer and, briefly, a disco Playboy bunny. I’ve owned a construction company and an agency that paired writers with jobs. The most interesting job offer I ever received was as a shepherdess on a sheep ranch in Québec.
I currently reside in the peace and tranquility of a small peninsula in the Pacific Ocean in Washington state. I’m the author of “Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History” and the translator and annotator of “Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary” by Aron Simanovitch.
What inspires you to write?
Ah, you want to open Pandora’s box. Despite my background in psychology, some things are best not analyzed. Let’s simply call my inspiration (which is really more of a compulsion) a life-long love of sculpting and honing words to create a result that pleases me. To delve any deeper and explain it in terms of psychological, environmental, neurological or genetic causes would be to take away the magic!
Tell us about your writing process.
You’ll be sorry you asked. It’s not a pretty picture. First of all, as a non-fiction writer, research precedes any writing. After months or years of reading all the literature I need as sources, and having stuck post-it notes on many pages, I draft an outline. The day begins at 5:30 a.m. when my internal clock wakes me for no other reason than habit. Coffee comes first. I’ll eventually consume the whole pot. I can’t bother wasting time dressing, so pajama bottoms and a t-shirt are my working wear. By six, if I’m writing, I’m sitting at the dining room table surrounded by books and index cards. I write with a ballpoint pen on a legal pad. I feel closer to the work without a machine between me and it. My first edit is when I transfer the handwritten manuscript to the computer. (I generally do about six drafts before passing it on to my editor.) There are dust bunnies under the furniture and a thin dust layer on counter and tabletops. (Perhaps you didn’t want this much detail.) The carpeting is crying out to be vacuumed but I’m told that a clean house is the sign of a dull woman.
If I’m editing or promoting my books, I’m at the computer by six, in the same outfit, but in my home office surrounded by stacks of files, papers, books, bills and many sticky notes, some of which are illegible. At around 11 a.m., I’ll have a bowl of cereal to counteract the caffeine-induced gnashing of my teeth. Before I know it, it’s 5 or 6 p.m. and time to shut it down for the day. It’s not an interesting scene — fairly boring in fact — but it is disgusting, if you have that kind of quirky, voyeuristic tendency.
What advice would you give other writers?
Very little. Writing is such an idiosyncratic endeavor. The one thing I am big on is editing. I never do anything less than six drafts before turning the doc over to my editor. When reading a book, there’s nothing I hate worse than misspellings or poor grammar, not to mention a lack of structure. I can’t tell you how many published indie books I’ve been asked to review, only to have to say ‘no’ because they hadn’t been well (professionally) edited. The only other advice I have is to find every avenue possible for promoting the book, without the obnoxious buy-my-book approach. Many new writers also don’t realize that writing is the easy part — a finite task. Promotion, however, is a full-time, never-ending job.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I went indie. I prefer POD and CreateSpace made it easy. There’s no cost, I have total control and I don’t have to share my profits with a publisher, nor am I obliged to purchase any quantity of my books. I should note that I did have an academic publisher interested in my first book, “Rasputin and The Jews,” but by the time it was ready to go, the editor I had dealt with had retired and the new one wasn’t interested. Rather than spend months or years waiting for responses from other traditional publishers, I chose to go indie. As for promotion and marketing, I’d have to do it myself, even with a traditional publisher.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As far as I’m concerned, it looks great. If you’re talking about the digital versus paper issue, I don’t think there’s a conflict. Many of us who grew up before a cyber-world existed only had paper books. Personally, for me, it’s a comforting, familiar, personal connection that I get from holding and turning the pages of a physical book. I think most of those who grew up in front of a monitor screen and have always had portable internet communication might tend toward ebooks. The digital world is what they’re familiar with. But I’m sure you’d find many exceptions there, too. Personally, I like my books without batteries.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print