I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed by Tammy Lough – Word Nerds Unite. Welcome to my world!
What inspired you to write your first book?
While taking a few creative writing classes, I wrote what I knew, short stories based on life experiences. After taking a memoir class, I thought about the stories I’d written. Most were reflective of how I deal with challenges, looking for the lesson learned, adding a dash of humor and finding a positive outcome.
I realized that I’d avoided writing anything that drew upon my deeper emotions. So I spent months spilling my guts on paper and drying my tears. The therapeutic process brought me peace and healing of wounds long buried beneath the surface.
My first book (and only one published to date), Peaks and Valley, became a reality with the help of my dear friends and authors, Amanda Bretz and the late, Jerome L. Pionk.
How did you come up with the title?
Life is a series of rollercoaster rides. While trying to decide on an appropriate cover, I found a picture I’d taken that represented the beauty of nature, uncontrolled and unsymmetrical, much like my life. Peaks and Valleys represented the memories that made me laugh and those that brought me tears.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
There have been many writers who have influenced my writing. To pick just one is difficult, I could name a dozen. In reality, Jeanne Felfe, a devoted writing and critique partner, has taught me the most. Her ability to show me how to add depth to my characters and stories with examples, references and explanations puts her at the top of my long list.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Saturday Writers, a chapter of Missouri Writers Guild, has been the foundation of my support since I joined some years ago. The Round Table Writers Novel Critique Group, formed within that organization, provides me with a daily support team.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Currently, I have three novels in progress. Burning Embers is a romantic suspense for which I am seeking a agent/publisher. Brittany Harbor never anticipated her childhood retreat, a primitive Colorado cabin, could become a death trap. Orphaned by death and deception, she flees New York paparazzi in an attempt to heal her broken heart.
Misjudged is another contemporary romantic suspense that continues in Colorado with many of the same characters as Burning Embers. Detective Bernard Kratz thought no one could penetrate the wall he built around his heart, yet. Brittany Harbor did. With a crack in the foundation, he faces his painful past and ventures into unchartered territories.
The Gold Miner Ring is a woman’s fiction about the journey of three elderly sisters and the negative effects of keeping secrets.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I believe every writer needs to be actively involved with a critique group. The benefits of having more than one perspective is essential. As a writer who want to be her best, I must be open to change and occasional harsh feedback. I learn from everyone who writes, accepting what fits and leaving what doesn’t. Most importantly, I try to be honest with the process, even when it hurts.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I’m sure I’ve cried over many books, but the one that sticks in my mind is The Bridges of Madison County by Robert J. Waller. It makes me cry every time I read it, which I’ve done year after year. The raw passion tugs at my heart. If you’ve only seen the movie, you’ve done Mr. Waller and yourself a disservice.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotion strongly?
There are millions of books written and published. I’m sure many are void of emotions. However, for books that draw my attention, emotions are essential. I want to experience laughing, crying, fear and anger. It helps me relate to the characters.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Write. Write anything, every day, and keep it. I’ve found pieces of stories that I started and didn’t finish until years later. I wish I had kept everything I’ve written. Much of it wasn’t my best, but seeing how I could improve it with what I’ve learned would be fun. If it’s important, back it up on the cloud.
Read. Get some books that show you how to be better. Writing with Stardust by Laim O’Flynn is great for beginners. The Thesaurus books by Angela Ackerman are amazing. When I need a new way of expressing an emotion, I pull out her book and find exactly what I need. Put it on your Birthday or Christmas wish list or treat yourself to them now.
Read more of what you enjoy and make yourself read something you’d usually avoid. Pay attention to what keeps you interested and what makes you want to close the book and toss it in a pile.
Not everything I write will be my best, but it could be with a little more work. I’ve learned to enjoy the journey and celebrate my small successes.