How did your family and friends feel when they heard you were writing?
They weren’t surprised. They are all used to me going off in an extreme opposite direction from what I was doing. They’re saying things like, “Look what she’s doing now.” I don’t think they are taking me seriously yet.
How long have you been writing?
Less than four years. I had ideas in my head for years before I started writing. I waited until I retired to begin writing so that I could devote as much time as I want to it.
Has writing always been something you wanted to do?
I always wanted to write a novel. I didn’t know it was going to get so out of control. I have never done anything halfway, so I don’t know why I’m so surprised.
What books or stories have you written? Published?
I now have thirteen books published. Most of my books are mystery/suspense/psychological thrillers. I also have two science fiction/fantasies, a self-help book and just recently published my memoirs.
Can you tell us a little about your books? What are they about?
There are five in the Judith McCain series. She is a runaway fifteen year old in the first book, in search of her identity. She uncovers a lot of horrors about her childhood but also finds her twin sister that she didn’t know she had. Through all of her hardships, she grows into a very human adult who still has some issues but she becomes a psychologist. She helps the FBI solve many cases. The two science-fiction/fantasy books are a time travel love story. The first one, 3037, takes place in the year 3037. A woman from the 1950s has to come from the past to try to save mankind. The sequel is called Time and Time Again.
How did you get inspiration for the characters/books?
I can’t explain it. I had the first book, Blood on White Wicker, in my head for about thirty years. Once I started writing it the characters took over and I felt so out of control, it scared me at first. After that, every time I had a general idea for a book, I just started typing, and the characters took over. I guess the ideas come from my subconscious since a lot of them come from my dreams. I have to keep a notebook on my nightstand so I can write them down in the middle of the night.
Are the books based on personal experiences?
I don’t know if the books themselves are based on personal experience, but sometimes I’ll put in something from my own life. Like once, when I needed a career for someone, I had the person be a geophysicist because I used to be a geophysicist. Judith McCain is not a morning person because I’ve never been a morning person.
Is there any advice you have been given that you could give to a young up-and-coming writer?
Yes, read, read, read. I personally don’t see how anyone can hope to write if they don’t read. Before I started writing myself, I read one or two books a day. I now read three or four books a week. It was through reading that I started to think that I could write a book myself, but it was only after I had read several thousand books.
Can you talk a little about the benefits of getting your work professionally edited?
I had a bad experience with my first editor and didn’t think I wanted an editor. I edited my own books about twenty times each and friends and family read them. I have recently gotten an editor because I keep getting feedback in my reviews about needing an editor, even in some of my five-star reviews. Editors are expensive, and I can see why many indie authors don’t use them. But I think it will get you farther ahead if you use them.
What are some of the hardest things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, in order to be published?
That’s easy, and it’s what had hindered me in everything I’ve ever done, my impatience. When I finish writing a book I want to get it published now.
How did you find time to write your books?
I have all the time I need because I am retired.
Do you think writing has any benefits, and if so what would they be?
Writing is very therapeutic for me. My characters have taught me a lot about myself.
Several of my guests have often said writing is therapeutic and relaxes them. Can you talk a little about how writing relaxes you? Any specific examples you can share?
I agree that it’s therapeutic but relaxing? Nope. It takes a lot out of me. I feel like I’ve actually been cut open and have bled onto the page. All of my emotions get stirred up. One of my main characters got murdered in one of my books, and I cried for a week.
Has writing made you a better person?
I sure hope so. I hope it has taught me more patience.
Do you like to read? If so, what are your favorite genres and why?
I read everything I can get my hands on, but my favorites are mysteries, medical/legal/psychological thrillers, science-fiction/fantasy and espionage. I don’t like vampires, werewolves, zombies and young adult-type novels with high-school crushes, etc.
Can you talk about how important reviews are to writers?
Most writers will do anything short of selling their soul for a review. They are so hard to come by. So many people will tell me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or out by the pool where I live that they love my books and will promise to write reviews but most don’t. I give away thousands of books in hopes of getting some reviews in exchange but get very few that way. I now try not to dwell on reviews or sales but just concentrate on writing.
Have you ever received a bad review? If so how did it make you feel?
I don’t mind a bad review if it’s honest and I can learn from it. Unfortunately, there are some folks out there who will give a bad review when it’s obvious they haven’t even read the book. I was a victim of the trolls for a while on Goodreads and it really hurt. I write reviews myself, and I try to give good, honest reviews. I wrote more than 100 last year, all indies. I usually don’t write a review if I didn’t like the book. The only exception is when someone tries to pass off a short story for a novel. I don’t like short stories.
Was there ever a point in your life where you felt like giving up because nobody understood you? How did you overcome this time in your life?
This is something that, if I let it, it could make me quit writing. I try to ignore comments like, “I’m glad you found this little hobby to do after retiring.”
What are your goals as a writer?
To become a best-selling author, of course.
Any new challenges you’ve had to face?
I guess one of the biggest is to learn to not compare myself to other indies. It’s difficult, when I see someone whose books I’ve read, and I feel like mine are better, and they get rewards I have entered. I try to not compare. There are enough readers out there for all of us.
I had three careers before turning to writing. I taught Mathematics in high school and community college, worked as a geophysicist in a major oil company exploring for oil and gas and worked as a counselor/psychotherapist with adults, groups, families, couples and teens. I have a BS in geology, an MCS in mathematics and an MA in psychology. I taught Algebra II to William Faulkner’s granddaughter.
My past writing experiences were writing plays for the neighborhood kid to put on when I was around 12-14 years old, writing technical reports as a geophysicist, writing research papers while working on my master’s in psychology, and writing letters to judges, with recommendations, while counseling juvenile justice adolescents.
Besides writing mysteries, I like to read (anything I can get my hands on), paint landscapes in oil and in enamel on glass. I enjoy swimming and walking on the beach. I have had many struggles in life, and I like to incorporate my experiences into my writing. A fantasy I have is to wear a Versache evening gown and dance the tango with Al Pacino.
I am a night person and can’t stand morning people who wake me up early. I like relating to one or two people rather than being in a crowd. Most of my friends are for life. Check out my blog and check out my books on Amazon.