Growing up in rural Western New York where cows outnumber people gave me a love for the great outdoors and the magical world of books. A good book for me usually had a horse or a dog as the main character, or even better, a mystery to unravel. Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, Call of the Wild, Lad, A Dog, along with Paul Hutchens’ Sugar Creek Gang mystery series, Sherlock Holmes, and Christie’s Poirot were all favorite reads. These books inspired writing my own tales of adventure in notebooks stashed under my bed.
Now fast forward quite a few years and I’m raising two daughters, working on a career, and driving our mini-van all over the countryside. Writing was a distant dream. But once our nest was empty, my husband, David and I left New York for sunnier skies and warmer weather in southeast Arizona. The high desert with its beautiful mountain views, awe-inspiring night skies, and independent spirit brought back the old desire to write. Since 2005, I’ve been writing for magazines and websites on a variety of topics. Throwing caution to the wind, the real fun began when the Gracie Andersen mystery series was conceived. With plenty of canine antics and a good mystery in the quirky town of Deer Creek, there’s something for everyone. A couple of other books got written along the way as well.
What inspires you to write?
The love of reading came early for me and so did the desire to write. Getting lost in the pages of a book is delicious. Stories seem to bubble up in my mind at any time–especially when I’d rather be sleeping. Life experiences, watching nature, and observing people inspire the beginnings of scenes, twists in a plot or a whole new story. Something is always brewing in my head.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a little bit of an outliner and a pantster. I start with a general outline that is put on paper. Usually a cast of characters is also added. A spreadsheet with characters’ physical qualities – eye color, tall, short, and even a birthdate helps keep me consistent as I write. There are lots of mini notebooks all over my house filled with ideas for the plot that are always handy. I use One Note to collect research websites and other information as I go along.
A good friend who writes YA fantasy joins me for regular brainstorming sessions about plots and characters. There’s nothing like an evening with a strong pot of tea and deciding who to kill off or how the murder should be accomplished. We even act out scenes to make sure we’ve caught the action correctly, especially in fight scenes.
As the story progresses, it seems that the book takes on a life of its own. Twists in the plot or the occasional new character pops in. The serendipitous part of writing keeps it fresh. Being a bit of a rebel who would hate following the outline all the way through, the pantster in me takes over.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Most of the time characters play out scenes in my head and often I’ll spout dialogue back and forth with one. I become another character in the book for that exercise, but it helps to hear the words out loud, especially in conversation. Tense scenes with danger or angry people are easier to write if acted out to see how their body language communicates to other character. That’s why my brainstorming friend is essential to the process. We’re hams at heart and have a blast to figure out what works best.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing and write daily. Join a local writers group to stay encouraged and hone your skills. Start a blog on a topic you know and love. Get comfortable with your writing style. I began by writing magazine articles and that built my confidence before tackling a novel. The local newspaper published my first article and can be a great place to start.
Be a reader. Read about the publishing/writing industry–stay current on what’s happening. Read books in your genre. Read book blurbs,get on Good Reads, write book reviews, subscribe to writing blogs. Immerse yourself in reading and writing.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For the first three years, I pursued the traditional route. A traditional publisher accepted my first query—yes the first letter! I waited four months for a final response and was finally told that it didn’t fit their “list.” But they wanted my next book. So I wrote another book, and then another with the same result. Tired of messing around, I donned the little red hen mentality of doing it myself. The advent of CreateSpace and KDP at Amazon made the publishing part a breeze. I assembled a publishing team which includes beta readers, a professional editor, book cover designer, and proofreader. Having complete control over the book, but also total responsibility for marketing has been an adventure, but one I wouldn’t have missed for the world.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Everything changes eventually. Right now, it’s a great time for the indie author to get books out to a worldwide audience. However, Amazon controls much of that process. Their support of the indie author is unparalleled at the moment, (at least that’s been my experience) but should the winds of change sweep through, the indie author may find it more difficult and more expensive than it is today. I’m going with an old country saying, “Make hay while the sun shines.” I’m writing as fast as I can to build readership with what’s available to me now.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Mystery, Inspirational-fiction and non-fiction
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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