Do you plot or let your story unfold as you write?
I’m not a plotter. I let my characters tell me where they want
the story to go. If I go a certain direction contrary to their
personalities, they seem to let me know it’s not working. It works best
when the lead the way.
Are your characters based on real people?
Some are. One is based on a
custodian at the church where I worked as an office manager. On the
first day I went to work there she told me a story
about their church ghost. Her story was the basis of my first book, The
Harvest Club. She is in most of the books after she told me you can
write me into your book. Melinda is the character lovingly called Red in
my books. Sadly, she died before the book was
published. Her family loved the book, and I dedicated it in her memory.
Radar the bloodhound is in all my books and he is based on a real dog
and his handler.
When did you decide to become an author?
I came to write later in life. I took a writing class called Breaking into Print.
I thought when I started the class that I wanted to write
non-fiction, but soon found out I loved writing fiction. The teacher
encouraged me to try my hand at writing a novel because my stories had
legs. My first attempt at it was The Harvest Club. That
was a little over six years ago. My favorite so far is Key To The Past,
it’s a blast from my past.
Who is the biggest influence on your writing?
My teacher Mary
Rosenblum. She had a way of critiquing me while making me laugh the
entire time. She was killed in a plane crash two years
ago. I miss her and her steady guidance. I still can hear her voice
inside my head when I head hop or don’t give it my best shot.
Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
write about subjects that are important to me, like human trafficking,
or organ harvesting. But the big take away
from each of my books is love always wins.
and to get a little personal…
Who do you see as a heroine in your life?
My mother will always be my heroine. She is the one who taught me
the love of reading. She also was one of the kindest people I know.
Have you ever found true love?
I can answer with an emphatic yes to
this question. He was a hippie
and I was a straight girl when we met at a protest rally. We went on
our first date on April 12, engaged by May 15, and married three months
and five days later. His big, blue eyes, and his smile won my heart. I
still love him forty-eight years later.
What makes you cry?
True stories about people, some happy and some sad. I’m an equal story crier.
This pandemic has intensified that.
I watched the 2020 graduation ceremony on TV last night. The one takeaway of the night among many highlights was how the pandemic upended this year’s senior class. They missed proms, spring sports, and had no opportunities to have yearbooks signed or hang out with their friends. As a matter of fact, most of us watching could relate, never imagining when 2020 began that we would be watching graduations by video either.
Listening to the speeches got me thinking back to the day when I waited impatiently to hear my name read on graduation day. I don’t remember any of the words spoken or songs sung. They were forgotten quickly. All I wanted at the time was to be done, to get to the family party, and out for a night with my friends. Sadly, outside of ZOOM, this year’s seniors were denied that too.
As hard as it is to believe when your young, life rarely goes as planned but it does often work out for the best. If I could have written a detailed future for myself all those many years ago, I could have never imagined all the places my life would take me. That well ordered plan was limited at best, and would be altered by new dreams, as well as disappointments. I’m often still surprised by where life leads me and the new experiences that await me there. Life is wonderful, sometimes sad, but also curiously fun, and challenging.
Since your senior year ended in such a strange fashion, I can’t begin to imagine what awaits you. Ready or not you are on your way. Not as a child anymore, but new to the whole adult thing, I can only offer the sound advice that was given to me many years ago. Strap yourself in and hold on because life is quite a ride. Enjoy the trip and make your mark. More than ever the world needs your new and fresh ideas.
Social-distancing doesn’t come easy for me but in the face of the unseen enemy racing across our country it is a necessity. I try hard to express my feelings through words every chance I get. For me each day comes with a myriad of different emotions and finding something to be grateful for has helped. Listening to the real human stories in this crisis are the reminder for me of what’s really important. Courage in the face of fear, kindness in the midst of pain, weeping with those who weep; stories that help me maneuver through my world’s changing landscape.
New heroes have risen; doctors, nurses, and grocery store workers; the police, firefighters, and those who pick up the trash. I am grateful for each of them and the jobs they continue to do daily. Staying home seems like such a small thing to do to make their jobs easier.
I find joy in the little things like groceries being delivered and placed outside my door. Taking the trash cans out once a week is nice, especially if I see another person walk by to say hello to. Are there things that I miss? Of course! I miss times with my sons and their families. Grandkids’ hugs are gone for now, but hopefully will return again some time soon. But Zoom is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends and social media too.
I hope that after living during these times that things will not return to the old normal for me. I can see now that normal wasn’t working for so many people in our country. I don’t just want to go back to the way things were and be content. If I do I will have squandered the opportunity to rise and do better; to improve as a human living in a world in dire need of compassion. For now I will try to find the beauty in life whenever it shows up and do my best to pass it on. Having a home and staying there is in itself a blessing.
January 20th, saw the release of my eighth book. I’ll start by saying, the feeling of seeing my name on the cover never gets old. I’ve always dreamed about writing a book, but eight wasn’t even in my wheelhouse. One seemed like an amazing task to me. Especially, as busy as life can get and as fast as time seems to fly by, it’s easy for life to crowd out our dreams.
I started writing later in my life, after raising my three boys, and working beside my husband in the churches that he pastored. Our life had settled into a comfortable routine until circumstances brought several major changes into our lives. The need and desire to reinvent myself grew, and the dream to write a book began to surface again. I’m here to reassure you it’s never too late and an ‘old dog’ can really learn new tricks.
I began an online writing class through the University of Connecticut called Breaking into Print. The coarse took me through the elements of fiction and non-fiction. I thought for sure I would write a non-fiction self-help book of some sort. What I found was that I loved writing fiction. This gal who never watched or read a mystery found herself in a genre where she had never dared to go before. It fit with my personality and who I’ve always been as far back as I can remember. A friend, not long ago, introduced me to her book club as the lady who went from teaching Sunday School to murdering people on paper, which still makes me laugh. I guess she was right on some level.
I was told my stories had legs and the teacher recommended that I try the Novel writing class. So I did. Mary Rosenblum, my teacher, was there for me through the process of writing The Harvest Club. A story idea handed to me by the custodian on a new job when she told me. “You know we have a church ghost here.” My imagination went to work and the element of the paranormal seeped into my mystery. I was off and writing, with Mary Rosenblum instructing me about head hopping, and grammar all the way. My editor will understand what a task that was. My only excuse is, punctuation has changed a bit since I was in school. As for head-hopping I’m trying hard not too.
Mary had a way of encouraging me while slapping me upside my head. She could criticize my writing and have me laughing at the same time. Now that’s a real gift. Encouraged by her, when the book was finished, to query it. She gave me the name of a few publishers. The Wild Rose Press was among them. I will forever be grateful to her. I love my publisher and have had a great experience working with The Wild Rose Press. Mary was killed a few years ago in a plane crash and I still miss her.
I love my latest book Key To The Past. It was a fun one to write and a blast from the past for me. I hope you, my readers will enjoy it as much as I did writing it.
Bullets fly and sparks ignite—as the past and the present collide. A missing girl’s ghost, an antique key, and an unsolved murder take her on an improbable journey.
With the holidays upon us and a another year coming to a close I’m reminded once again of how quickly time is speeding by. 2019, had its high moments, but it also came with loss, reminding me once again how fleeting time can be. In thinking about my family members and friends that died this year, I realize just how powerful and impactful a single life well-lived can be. They touched areas in my life that I’m still discovering. Missing them is like a constant limp and hole where they used to be.
Every day I’m alive is not a given but a gift. Another chance to get it right. A simple smile or a kind word can brighten a day. Joy can be found wrapped in the ordinary, like relationships, creation, or the peace of the familiar. Laughter is refreshing and tears a necessary release. There are profound moments, down moments, and some silly ones. Some days are filled with awe and an almost magic like quality when life and special events cross paths.
May your holidays be filled with sweet memory making moments and love. To love and be loved is the most precious gift of all. Those who strive to make the world a better place through kind deeds do make a difference. L’Chaim! To Life!