Could You Tell Us About Yourself?
I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, near most of the things I love: family, friends, fresh mountain air, dirt, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, sailing, and four seasons.
I was married to a US Marine for 30 years, and am the creator of three incredible sons and eight perfect grandchildren (so far).
Learning to juggle & starting a weed-eater are two of the many endeavors I’ve yet to accomplish. Hey, everyone needs goals.
I’ve written top-secret proposals, authored Sunday newspaper columns, embassy newspapers, military base communications, numerous organizational newsletters, and marketing campaigns. My photography and articles have been published in magazines, books, and newspapers across the US.
In my past life I was an airshow director, lifeguard, shampoo girl, wing-walker, marketing director, operations manager, and senior technical writer for some of the world’s unknown oracles.
I’ve rappelled a waterfall in the Middle East, hiked Petra, and jumped out of an airplane three times (with a parachute).
I love Monet, nature, books, my truck, and awakening each day. My goal in life is to be happy and to influence others to REALLY laugh with me (or at me).
Oh, and I’m the author of a bestselling book!
What made you write your book (s)?
When I found myself alone for the first time, after 30 years of marriage, in a cabin in the Appalachian mountains I wrote for sanity. I had no internet, TV or visible neighbors. I was lost and alone. Ridiculous situations thew me into a comedy monologue with no audience. I wrote to the imaginary women who were struggling along with me to find their new life.
I also wrote because my friends kept telling me to write down the unbelievable hilarious mishaps I survived. Ten years later, I decided it was a book. Now it’s a bestseller with upcoming sequels.
What is the first book you remember reading?
Sally, Dick, and Jane (in first grade). Then there was Clifford (probably first edition). Pippi Longstocking was the first book I remember reading with more than 16 words on each page.
What’s your favourite book?
There are so many. Naturally, the cloassics. I find comfort and introspect in Emily Dickens, Robert Frost, and Lord Byron (who is somehow kin). But I love books like “Crossing Over” by John Edward; I loved “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Ralph Waldo Emerson. Shakespear, Ken Follett, Debbie Macomber, Nicholas Sparks, and Sidney Sheldon are (obviously) great, and I relate to everything Erma Bombeck ever wrote.
How many hours a day do you write?
Some days I write for 14 hours or more, and other days, not at all. I write unconventionally when my brain forces me to jump out of bed to stumble to my computer.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Sleep. Wait, I’ve already done that. So change my answer to the struggle to juggle.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Learning to promote a book without inciting people to hide from me. It’s more challenging to make a book discoverable than it is to write the book. I prefer the joy of writing rather than marketing. But without sharing, what’s the purpose?
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?
Matthew McConaughey because I could listen to his voice until the cows come home (and I don’t have cows). Most everything I’ve read that he writes encourages compassion and common sense. I imagine we would have lively conversations. If Matt is busy, I’d love to spend time with David Gaugran. His sense of humor speaks to me.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
A closed door and a dead phone.
What’s your favourite writing snack or drink?
Coffee, vitamin water, leftovers from the freezer, and anything easy to grab when I’m writing. In the evening, cucumber water chased by wine in a beautiful wine glass (for both beverages).
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
Throw a Launch Party for my launch team and the people who still speak to me. I ignore my family & friends for weeks on end, yet the ones who support my mission welcome me back when I emerge again.
Did you listen to music while you wrote your book (s)?
Sometimes. But, funny thing, I unconsciously named every chapter a song title. I got a little off-key there, and renamed most of the chapters when I returned to the sound of silence.
Where do you get your idea (s) for your book (s)?
Real-life experience. I’ve lived a lifetime, and it has been an adventure. I often travel, and observe the incredible variety of personalities and landscapes wherever I go. Sometimes I see a group of women, or children playing, and can’t resist making up a story about them and their surroundings on the spot.
What is / was your writing process like?
I awaken with the intent to write every day. Usually, I spend hours chasing emails, text messages, tutorials, and blogs (like a squirrel). Then I make my bed, make coffee, make excuses, and when the mood hits me I turn off my phone and settle down in my little office to write for hours on end. Sometimes if I’m disturbed, I can’t seem to get back into my groove. Ok, I don’t really have a groove, but I do have a zone.
Do you try more to be original or rather give readers what they want?
If I knew what readers wanted, I’d be afraid I didn’t have it to give. I simply write from the heart and imagine that people with a disjointed humor will laugh and find inspiration in my writing.
How did you publish your (first) book?
I enrolled in a very expensive, very disappointing, online self-publishing school. Having invested the money I could have used for a world cruise, I was inspired to publish. Once the book pays me back, I’m taking that world cruise.
What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing your book (s)?
My favorite part of publishing is a sense of accomplishment for having the courage to put it out there. It’s scary, empowering, and humbling all at once.
The worst thing about publishing is the disteem from family members. Everyone has an opinion of the book’s purpose. Many cannot recognize the book for what it is and do not “approve.”
I never anticipated that. It has been a painful slap to my ego and to the accomplishment I worked for (in solitary confinement) for years on end.
What part of the book was the most fun to write?
The beginning. That’s when my head is full of ideas. Just like any dream, when you begin, you’re full of purpose and unfiltered ambition. Not necessarily the first chapter, but the beginning of the purpose to write the book. It’s electrifying!
How did you come up with the title for your book (s)?
Coffee Cups & Wine Glasses (my first book): I decided on the title before I began writing it. After my first week of exile from life as I knew it, I discovered nothing but coffee cups & wine glasses in my dishwasher. It amused me, and I knew I had to write a book about it.
10 Steps to Get Over Dick Head: the title of my second book more clearly describes its content. It is what it is. I’ve been told it’s also extremely funny and helpful.
Would you and your main character get along?
Ohmygosh I hope so.
What is a significant way your book has changed since the first draft?
I added Journal Prompts to encourage the reader, and “DOiTs” for mischievous and helpful life hacks at the end of each chapter.
How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?
Educated women with a sense of humor who have been jilted, divorced/are divorcing, lost, or disappointed. They are seeking encouragement, entertainment, hope, meaning and purpose in their lives. They enjoy coffee, wine, new ideas, and humor. Ages 26-89. And, they are open to discover just how magnificent they are.
What did you edit out of your book (s)?
Eight delightful chapters that didn’t relate to the book’s theme of getting over loss, divorce, or disappointment. Those chapters were outrageously funny, but didin’t fit the book. They will be in a sequel.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The one about the death of my son. I laughed and cried the entire time. (You’d have to read it to understand the laughter.)
How long did it take for you to write a book?
More than 10 years. Mainly because I didn’t intend for my notebooks full of pondering philosophy to become a book, at first.
What do you hope your readers take away from your book (s)?
That’s the best question ever! I want readers to be inspired to embrace the basic concepts of joy, independence, compassion, and confidence to develop their passion through the natural phenomenon of tears and laughter. Readers will find gratitude in realizing that they’re not living MY life. Readers will be inspired to live the life they want to live and create happiness all around themselves.
Did you get some negative feedback on your book? and if so how do you deal with that?
Yes. Some members of my family don’t like the reality of what I wrote. I didn’t intend to expose anyone or anything. It was just my story, and as I was writing, I realized the humor in it. So, I wanted to share my revelations with women who would benefit by tackling life’s blows with an optimistic view.
I haven’t figured out how to deal with the negativity yet. I’m still in the surprised hurt-feelings stage. I had imagined my family being proud rather than mad.
How did you feel when you first published your book (s)? Scared? Excited? Nervous?
Exhausted. It was surreal. I became a real-life author, and yes, I was scared and nervous. I was afraid to claim the Author title. I’m going to be excited soon. I feel it emerging. It’s still surreal.
Where can people who are interested in your book, buy your book?
… and soon on my website
Are you working on anything at present you would like to share with your readers?
I’m working on a children’s series that I started when my boys were young. Children’s books are more difficult to write than I imagined!
I’m also writing a book about State Troopers. My dad has a bucket-load of hilarious stories from his days of “serving and protecting.”
Not to mention the time travel book I’ve been playing around with… and maybe 8 more. I need to focus.
After writing your book (s) what is your advice to people who want to become writers?
Write something and anything that comes to mind when you feel the spirit move you. Start learning to market your book before you write it. Develop a mailing list of fans. Some of them will buy and share your book. A few of them will review it.
Do you read your book reviews?
How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read and reread the good ones and smile. Then I read them again.
The two bad ones, I assume the Texas Trash Tramp (from the book) and her daughter wrote. Their review proved that they neithr purchased nor read the book. That makes me laugh.
But there will be honest bad reviews for nearly every book. Everyone doesn’t have to like it. It’s your baby, and you need to love it.
Is there something more you want to tell us which I forgot to ask about?
My favorite quotes:
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” – Haruki Murakami in Norwegian Wood
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” -Mother Teresa
“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt
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