Q. Tell us about your latest book?
A. It’s called Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs and it just landed on bookstore shelves last week. I worked hard to make it a practical guide that provides step-by-step information to help moms form successful book clubs with their daughters and keep them going strong for years down the road. I’m a founding member of two long-term book clubs with my own daughters, and a lot of the advice comes from my own experience. But it also comes from moms in book clubs across the U.S., parenting experts, librarians, authors, booksellers and others.
Q. How did you get started as a writer?
A. I was hooked on the writing bug when I won first place for a short story I wrote during a Beta Club convention in high school. When I was first starting my career though, I didn’t think writing on my own was a very practical way to make money. So I worked in corporate marketing departments writing brochures, newsletters, ad campaigns, bulletins and pretty much anything else that needed words on a page. I really enjoyed taking dry subjects and turning them into something that someone would actually want to pick up and read.
But then a few years ago I decided I wanted to focus on writing about things that were important to me, so I stepped out to start freelancing on my own.
Q. What does a typical day look like for you?
A. I wake up, shower, cook breakfast, make a lunch for my daughter to take for school and get her out the door by seven. Then I relax over my own breakfast before sitting down at my computer at eight. Mornings are my most productive time and I warm up at my desk by answering emails, updating my status on Facebook and writing a blog entry. Then I get into the meatier projects. When I was working on my book, that’s when I would write my chapters. Now, I’m writing essays and presentations. I also have a small, weekly newspaper column I write. After lunch I get back into action by answering emails again and doing something to promote my book. Then I write some more. My goal is to be done with anything major by the time my daughter gets home at three. Then it’s time for household chores, homework help and cooking dinner.
Q. Describe your workspace
A. I have a wonderful little office with windows looking out on the street. It faces south, and filtered sunlight comes in from a couple of trees out front. That means I get to be in tune with (but not distracted by) the things going on in my neighborhood during the day. I also get to see birds flit in and out of the trees.
Q. What are your favorite books (especially for writers)?
A. Fictional writers who brilliantly string together words on a page are my biggest inspiration to write the best I can, even though I’m writing non-fiction. Three favorite books that I can read over and over again (and have) are:
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- Burr by Gore Vidal
I like to read writing books that inspire me to sell my work. In addition to your guide to query letters, which reminds me all the time of how to focus on what an editor is looking for, I also like:
- Writer Mama: How to Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz
- Six Figure Freelancing: The Writer’s Gide to Making More Money by Kelly James-Enger
- The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell
Q. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.
- I once thought I was being hired to edit a magazine but ended up selling advertising and driving a limousine instead (very young and naïve).
- I’m from Louisiana and some of my favorite foods are fried frog legs, hog head cheese and cracklins.
- Even though I now live in Portland, Oregon, I still jump up and down and scream out loud when I watch LSU football games, even if I’m only watching in my family room.
Q. Favorite quote?
A. From Gore Vidal on advice to young people: “Read, read, read. And don’t worry so much about what other people think about you. It’s far more interesting to consider what you think about them.”
Q. Best and worst part of being a writer?
Best: Setting my own hours, discovering new things to write about, connecting with other writers.
Worst: Setting my own (sometimes late) hours, drawing a blank when it’s time to write, and too many hours sitting at my desk.
Q. Advice for other writers?
A. Find something you’re really passionate about to write on so you’re less likely to get tired of writing.
Q. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
A. I find it’s helpful to start a piece, organize my thoughts, then leave and go for a walk. While I’m walking the details of my story will start to gel into a bigger picture. I come back refreshed, with new ideas for organizing and writing whatever I’m working on.
Where can people buy your book?
My favorite independent bookstore is Powell’s [http://www.powells.com/biblio/7-9781580052993-1]. You can also get it on Amazon.com [http://www.amazon.com/Book-Complete-Guide-Creating-Mother-Daughter/dp/1580052991/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254018759&sr=8-1] or at your favorite bookstore.
Also look for ideas and tips for your mother daughter book club at Mother Daughter Book Club.com [http://www.motherdaughterbookclub.com].