1. Tell us about your latest book.
My latest books is RED, WHITE AND BLUE, the second book in the “America the Beautiful” series from Tyndale House. It’s a novel about the rise and possible fall of the first female President, told from the perspective of her campaign manager, later to become the White House Chief of Staff. The first book asks, “How far would you go to become President?” and the second book asks, “How far would you go to STAY President?”
2. How did you get started as a writer?
Like most writers, I started scribbling as a kid. I was an early reader and literally ran out of kids books in the local library by age 10. I switched to adult books and never looked back. By thirteen, I was writing what we now affectionately call “fan fic” and short stories, but my school only really recognized poetry as creative writing so I was never labeled a writer in their eyes. (I was a math and music geek, instead.) I got a degree in engineering which meant I have no time for reading, much less writing. A decade or so later, my military husband had a one year assignment in Washington DC and we had two small children. There was no job opportunities for an engineer in town for eleven months and needing major child care. So I stayed at home. It didn’t take long for my imagination to demand more than a constant diet of Sesame Street and the Disney Channel. I turned back to writing. I got serious about novel writing in 1990, finished my first book that year and finally sold it in 1993.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I try to write in the mornings and do edits in the afternoon. Around this I work the rest of my life—my online bookstore takes some time (Author, Author! http://www.author-author.net) and I’m involved in several writers groups, president of one. And then there’s the family obligations which includes my husband, a son off at college and four, count them, four dogs.
4. Describe your workspace.
My workspace is a mess of books, dogs, more books, boxes of books, and lots of empty Caffeine Free Diet Coke cans. It’s not a pretty sight. But the dogs don’t mind as long as there is enough floor space for all of them to go to sleep.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
In my earlier years, I devoured books about writing. Now I’m more interested in research books rather than instructional books. But the books that helped me include THE WRITER’S JOURNEY by Chris Vogler, TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT by Lawrence Block, GOAL MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT by Debra Dixon and WRITING THE FICTION SYNOPSIS by Pam McCutcheon.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
I’ve playing piano since I was six. I’m decent at it because I can read music and play by ear. I like to sing, too and can be valuable in a choir because I can sight read reliably well and have relative pitch. (A step below perfect pitch)
I worked one summer in a coal mine as an engineer trainee while in college. There’s nothing like mentioning my summer-long exposure to black lung to liven up a conversation.
I love television. I mean REALLY love television. I have two TiVos and a DVR on my computer so I don’t miss my favorite shows which this year includes Heroes, NCIS, Fringe, Top Gear, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Being Human, Sanctuary, Stargate Universe, Castle, and more. My guilty TV pleasure that I shouldn’t admit in any public forum are daytime TV court shows.
7. Favorite quote
“No matter where you go, there you are. “
Dr. Buckaroo Banzai of the Banzai Institute.
(I’m absolutely gaga over this movie. It is my favorite movie of all time and yes, I have all the t-shirts, patches and several of the posters)
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
Best part: prose written while wearing pajamas is just as effective and good as prose written while wearing street clothes.
Worst part: Answering stupid questions about my career.
- “No, I don’t need any help with the love scenes. However, I am writing a murder scene…”
- “No, I don’t pay to have my books published. They pay me. No. Really. I understand that your brother-in-law paid someone to print his book, but I didn’t.”
- “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t want to listen to your idea for a book, then do all the writing and split the profit 50-50 with you.”
9. Advice for other writers
Learn about the industry from ALL aspects, not just that of the writer and a reader. You also need to understand more about the agent’s role, publisher’s role and the bookseller’s role so that you can view the industry from all five perspectives. This will help you have more reasonable expectations and make your efficient and effective when you seek publication.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
The very first project I sold was to a company that was producing original audio dramatic productions with multiple voices but only minor sound effects and music. The company paid be a flat fee and bought all rights to the novella I wrote specifically for them so that they could have a free hand to edit it during production to change any cadences of the dialogue and so that the hooks fell at the places the tape turned, etc. I wouldn’t have the right to review the edits since I no longer owned the work.
One it was released, I was generally pleased with the production except for one big glaring error that had been edited into the work. I was embarrassed that the editor had make it appear as if I had written the purple-prose description of the characters (“A cupid’s bow mouth…”) and that I had described her as wearing a turtleneck, then in the next sentence, commented on her modest décolletage.
That was my first taste of publishing and a painful lesson to learn about work for hire projects. I still do work for hire, but I chose them more carefully now.
Where can people buy your books and learn more about you?