Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
First of all, I appreciate your asking me to do this interview, Gabriel. Well, I’m a Baby Boomer, born and raised in Houston, Texas. I’m married, with a grown son, and at present have two very spoiled dogs. I spend much of my time writing, or doing things that will result in something being written. I’ve read avidly since childhood, more nonfiction than fiction over the past twenty or so years.
Discuss your newest book.
The latest nonfiction book I completed was Delving into Reality, a philosophy about consciousness and its part in our lives. As for fiction, I’m writing (dramatic pause, if you please) erotica. So far, I’m creating a novelette approximately every week, and have published eleven of them since January first of this year, and one that I added to the list today on Kindle that’s in review. I expect it to be live on Amazon in the next couple of days.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
How? Yes. When? In sixth grade. Our class had been given an assignment to write poems about fall. The teacher called me to her desk at the end of the day and complimented me on my poem. I’ve been writing one thing or another ever since, although I was grown before I seriously considered writing to submit to places for publication.
What are your current projects?
As I said, I’m working on erotica novelettes at the moment, and probably will be for quite a while since I have dozens of ideas for them, as well as titles. I’ve written brief plots to some, and will be doing more of that as I go along.
What books have influenced your life most?
Actually, I think every book I’ve ever read has had influence on me in one way or another. Each one has taught me something, whether it was the set of Robert Louis Stevenson’s books I read as a child or Anne Rice’s Beauty series that I read when I was grown. My internal editor seems to have begun working early in life, and it’s constantly checking for errors (I hate it when I hear commercials where someone uses “fewer” or “less” incorrectly, for example – and I wasn’t that good at English grammar in school). And, of course, there are the various nonfiction books I’ve read, some on writing, some on health. I’ve never found one on either subject that really gave me the information I wanted. A negative influence, yes, but that only causes me to keep on digging for the answers I want.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Reading bad books, and many books I’ve read have been either poorly written or else didn’t provide the information I sought. Then there are the good books with maybe a part here or there that seems forced or doesn’t go the way I like. In those cases, I’ve thought of how something could have been changed, or how the writer had come up with a certain plot or scene when one that pops into my head seems to me would have been better. This frustration in combination with curiosity caused me to begin to think, have ideas complete with characters and beginnings and endings, and things simply developed from there.
When did you decide to become a writer?
In my mid-twenties. I wrote some poetry, sent it out, and one poem sold. For three whole dollars! I felt I was a true writer then. From there, I wrote greeting card copy, ideas for notepad, poster, and button material, and made some sales. I also wrote gift book material, and sold one. Of course, I also wrote and sold x-rated stories, and a story to a confessions magazine (no, they weren’t all true!).
Why do you write?
Writing isn’t just what I do, it’s what I am. It’s not a career, or even a calling, but more of an obsession, one which is frustrating because as much as I write, as often as I use a thesaurus, at times there seem to be no words for what I’m trying to say. Yet I love puzzles, and to me connecting words together to make an idea burst into reality in someone’s mind is the biggest, and most enchanting, puzzle in the Universe.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
Need, plain and simple. Lost in Stress: A dysfunctional family memoir delves into my childhood and an unusual family situation. I lived with my parents, and we lived with my mother’s eldest sister and their mother. It was virtually a matter of “children should be seen, not heard,” to simplify. Yet much more went on, so much that I still have trouble speaking to others – which seems to make them want to talk to me even more!
Do you write full-time or part-time?
All the time, even at two in the morning when my Muse is active. Of course, I’ve had times when I couldn’t write much at all, as when I was the caregiver for my mother in her final years. I saw my priorities and accepted them without regret, which is what many my age are going through now.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Two parts: putting the first word down, and publishing. Everything that falls between the two just comes, start to finish.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Coming up with ideas for characters, situations, and typing it all up. Fortunately, I took touch typing way back in school, so I can get a book done rather quickly.
What is your preferred medium of writing? Pen and paper or strictly tablet and computer?
I love the feel of a pen and paper. It’s how I began writing, since computers weren’t around back then. But now I’m finding that to just sit down with an idea and type it directly on a word processing program is a lot faster. As well, I can make corrections quicker and easier.
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower?
Well, only if you count having a notepad in the bathroom and another in the car (my husband does the driving, not me!). Of course, I have one by the bed, too, but that seems fairly normal from what I’ve read.
How important are names to you in your books?
I like to match a name with the character’s “atmosphere.” For example, I could name the main character Cindy or Cynthia. Either one would do, but if she’s a store clerk, Cindy will sound better, and if she’s more upscale, then I’d definitely choose Cynthia. It just adds an extra edge to the story.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your work?
Writing it! Okay. Sorry about that. I think that I get impatient by using what seem to be overused phrases. Not cliches or slang but ordinary, everyday things that are said routinely. It’s difficult to find substitutes that mean the same thing as they do. Such as the word “said.” I’ve seen “smiled” or “shuddered” used, but really, how do you smile a sentence? Shudder it? There are plenty of alternatives to choose from without going overboard. Then I’ve also read to use “said” almost exclusively. I don’t go along with that, either, because I’ve seen writers using “said” when “asked” would have been more appropriate when there’s a question involved. Just my own opinion, but I think that we, as writers, could do better. It would make for much more pleasant reading.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“Do what you can.” I don’t respond well to being told “Do your best.” That makes it seem that I’m not doing all I can, and that just irritates me. So I tell myself to do what I can, which is a more gentle motivator, and I’m okay with it.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Look within yourself for the hard answers. I’ve read so many “how to write” books that just parroted each other or said to write so many words per day, no matter what, that I could scream. The truth is, it’s all inside you, not out there in a “how to” book. True, there are things that beginning writers, especially, need to find out, and maybe a book will help with that. As well, check on how many words are needed for a certain type of writing, such as for stories and books (this can easily be found through a search engine). But for the most part, it’s all you, the writer, and the blank page/computer screen. And as an added thing to ponder, I’ll offer a sentence that I got once during deep relaxation: “It is within you to nurture a life in which nothing else exists.” This can easily apply to creating characters and their worlds.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Go outside, be among nature. Since we live in a semi-rural area and have a few acres, this is something that’s very much like walking in a park. And playing with our dogs, or helping with whatever project my husband has going on. He’s into a lot of different things since he retired, so I’ve been painting, helping plant crepe myrtle trees, even helping with a big oak tree (about four feet across at the base) we had to have down. We have a wood burning stove, so he and I (our son helped a bit, too) cut and split the tree for firewood. Great exercise, and, as my husband likes to say, it warms us twice, when we get it ready for the stove, and then when we burn it. Then, too, I like to do puzzles, listen to music (we’re into rockabilly right now), and once in a great while just do nothing at all!
From where do you gain your inspiration?
I like to sit down and just think. Brainstorm. I’ve got a long list of “starter sentences” that I’ve written down, as well as possible plots for stories. My Dark Agenda series of four novels was born when I studied up on Agenda 21. As I’ve seen so clearly in my life, things that are supposed to be good for us often turn ugly when “someone” decides it needs to be done for profit of one sort or another. And there’s an “iffy” detail to the Agenda 21 plan that talks about depopulation. Bingo. The series began as one book, then I saw where it could go to two, then three, and finally four. Sometimes even a word or phrase will get something going.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Well, the one time I’ve dealt with a publisher, it was for the gift book idea I sold. They changed it up, which I understood but didn’t especially like because I wasn’t let in on it; they just did it. Also, publishers like to work with people through an agent. Finding one wasn’t a simple matter, and the one I finally did get, well, that didn’t work out. As for self-publishing, I like it so far. I’m only using Kindle and their advertising for my nonfiction and some of my fiction books. I’m trying out the free days, and have given away quite a few, and I’m about to start trying the countdown deal days for my erotica books. I like having that kind of freedom, and a place where I can have the books and the promotions/advertising all together.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
With KDP, marketing is fast and easy, so it doesn’t take much time at all to get a promotion set up. Now that I have so many books available, I’m thinking I can put at least one and maybe two on the countdown deal days for the same days, see how that would work out.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
I’ve read, and experienced, that social media isn’t the best for marketing. Also, it takes a lot of time on the site/sites in order to interact, and that means I don’t get as much writing done. So for me, I’d rather spend the time writing and putting out books, which I’ve read is really the only way to get sales going, than to take an hour from every day and socialize. And an hour a day adds up to seven hours per day, so I’m losing about a day and a half of writing time. Not efficient, I think.
Any tips on what to do and what not to do?
Pick a genre, something you like, such as horror, and go for it. Start the story in the middle of something, such as an argument, or a monster rising from the sugar bowl (well, a tiny monster). Plop the reader down in the action from the get-go. And never, ever, ever pad a story with dull go-nowhere descriptions of things or people. If you don’t have enough words for the length you want the story to be, expand the action, the climax, build tension and let the reader in on the character’s thoughts about what’s happening. Put up a sign where you work: “No yawning allowed.” Read it every time you get to work to remind you that you have to have something going on, something to keep the reader’s attention, with only breaks here and there to let them, and your characters, recover from the tension a bit. And I stress “a bit,” because you really can’t let the pace slacken for long, or your story will suffer for it.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write and keep writing. And keep your notes, even the lousy ones. Maybe they won’t fit the project you’re working on, but who knows? Something in them might be just what you need for a later work. Also keep the stories you’d rather throw out. If nothing else, reading over them ten years from now will help you see how much you’ve improved.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
At my author page on Amazon. There’s a biography as well as an entire listing of my books.