The Early Years
I won my first creative contest in the sixth grade for my Clean Up Fix Up Paint Up Week. This started a career that even a Phi Beta Kappa and BA from Michigan State University could not derail.
The Career Years
I wrote a non-fiction book entitled The Great Lakes: North America’s Inland Sea published by Outdoor World. The publisher is now defunct, and the book is no longer in print. From this experience I learned how little an author can make.
I became a copywriter in Chicago and eventually a creative director. I learned it not only pays to advertise, it pays to write it, too.
I started my own marketing consultancy twenty years ago under the name of Mycomm One. A few years back, I traded in my stilettos for rain boots and moved to the Pacific Northwest.
A few years back, I turned in my stilettos for rain boots and moved to the Pacific Northwest. I started to write for real.
• Lessons of Evil was my first book to publish. It’s a damn scary psychological mystery if you ask me. Leave your lights on.
• Speaking of scary: Both of my parents and my husband died in nursing homes. I have an unrivaled record for hours spent with my big butt on an uncomfortable visitor’s chair, observing the comings and goings. Fun House Chronicles offers earthy guidance to anyone facing tough decisions for themselves or their loved ones.
• Bear in Mind is the first in the Bear Jacobs mystery series. Hard to Bear is the second. This series is largely based on the character introduced in Fun House Chronicles. They wouldn’t settle down so I just had to bring them back.
• A Time of Secrets is a psychological mystery set on the Big Island of Hawaii. If you like romance and intrigued, combined with island lifestyle and humor, this read is for you. Aloha!
What inspires you to write?
I wrote commercials for a living as well as essays and poems for fun. But I was in my 60s when I took on my first novel. Why so old? I knew I had the skills and that writing was a pleasure for me. Maybe I had to get that old to feel I really had something to say.
Sharing knowledge and emotion and experience. I think that’s what inspires me. When I receive a review from a stranger who has been touched by one of my books? That is the collateral for me to keep going. It is what makes me feel rich.
Tell us about your writing process.
I don’t outline. I begin with only a broad overview of how the book will develop. I like the freedom of having the unexpected happen outside the boundaries of an outline (which feels restrictive to me). This means that I do plenty of rewriting, of course, as I go along. I am not a fast writer. It is a trip of discovery for me as well as for my readers.
But I don’t just make a leap of faith, either. I keep two documents close at hand to guide me:
– Because I enjoy books with many characters, I have a list of their physical and personality traits.
– Also, my most recent novel is a second in a series called HARD TO BEAR. I created a short ‘synopsis’ of the backstory I wanted to include in it for the benefit of those who had not read the first in the series (BEAR IN MIND).
Also, I believe in critique groups if you are careful to ignore what does not sound right to you. But good ‘plotters’ and writers with an ear for dialog? They can be invaluable to you.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
When I write a scene I think it through from every character’s point of view. If Harry is listening to Hank, what else is he doing? Scratching his ass? Humming? Building a steeple with his fingers? Whether all the info makes it into the manuscript or not, it makes that character have dimension for me. And that dimension will keep me on track when I meet him again in another scene.
My main characters – friend or foe – become quite real to me. I miss them when I have moved on. I suppose that it the big reason one cast has appeared in three of my books.
What advice would you give other writers?
First, let me say I am no spring chicken. So a lot of what I believe comes from that point of view. Here are a few tips from the back nine:
– Have another way to make money. Start out assuming that your career as a writer won’t pay the bills.
– Don’t do all things poorly. Choose the things you can do well. For instance, don’t employ all social media for marketing but become a real presence on the few you choose.
– Spend some money on marketing whether you publish traditionally or you are an Indy. Your product may be an art form, but you’re also running a business. Act like it. Investment spend and you will see results sooner.
– Don’t believe everything you read online. But do read other writer blogs. Lots of good ones.
– If money is your goal, pick a genre and stick to it. On the other hand, if you like to write lots of different stuff, do it. It will be harder for fans to follow you, but you’ll be a happier – if poorer – camper.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
It took me two years to find an agent, and two years later she retired. In that time, my only traditional success was with a publisher in Turkey who released LESSONS OF EVIL in Turkish. So following the four years of trying to publish in the U.S. I decided on self-publishing.
I shook my fist at the sky a lot. But now? I like it. I accept that writing the book is only the tip of the iceberg … that promoting it takes every bit as much time.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Right now, publishing is like writing in the Wild West. There are few definite rules. Many of us feel that we are having to find new paths. I think that will change once the electronic industry achieves its full potential and once print books settle on the piece of the industry that will be theirs.
I hate the idea that Marketing runs writing now. It can only look at what HAS worked to determine which books to promote. This leaves little room for those writers who are working in genuinely new territories or who like to cross genres. It’s harder for readers, too, to find those unexpected gems.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Literary fiction, contemporary fiction, psychological mystery, cozies with bite
What formats are your books in?: eBook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.