*What would you be doing right now if you were not an author?
I am a volunteer coordinator for a local hospice. That is my day job. And it is one I love.
*5 years ago: what were you doing?
I had just been through a divorce and had my youngest child off at college so I was shuffling between work and my other daughter's house since she had just had a baby and had an older child, so I got to be a grandma full time with mom duties on hold. I was attending a lot of writer's groups, one of which was Kid Lit, which is where the creater of UtopYA was the organizer of that group. I was learning how to write interesting stories again, honing my craft as it were. So I was very busy.
*Do you have a certain writing ritual?
I try not to do things exactly the same any time I write, although I do enjoy quiet with my earphones in and soft music playing if I am in a scene that is troubling to me. That is only to drown out other sounds.
*What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
This is a great question because I feel you learn almost as much from your failures as you do from your successes. In several of the writer's groups I attended back in the beginning of my writing career I received a lot of positive and negative comments. Sometimes the people reading it didn't "get" the story and were too literal in their critiques (I had one person tell me that I mispronounced my character's name when I read it out loud and that bothered him enough that he trashed the work based on that "mistake"); other times people were too "nice" in their comments. They didn't feel the story was written like other people in that genre wrote it, or they felt that my characters were too similar. I have learned to just smile, take the punishment or praise as it is dealt to me, and move on. Then, based on what I feel are valid comments, I will make changes if I feel it is in the character's best interests. This brings me to a point I am always trying to get across to anyone volunteering to be a beta reader or just an initial critiquer - BE HELPFUL, BE CONSTRUCTIVE, and DON"T BE DESTRUCTIVE. Authors are counting on you to help them make the stories better, not just rip it apart because you are having a bad day or don't like the author. To be helpful, don't harp about grammar or spelling - the author will have an editor to take care of that, and they will be paid for their experience and knowledge. You are wasting your time and the author's time by doing that. As a beta reader please pay attention to what the author needs from you - things like: does the story flow? Is the pacing good? Are my characters staying true to their nature? etc. In return, when it is your time to get a critique that author will remember and pay you in kind for your work. Nitpicking has its place, but let someone else do that. Be HONEST with the author, but talk about the work, not the person.
*Is there an author you'd like to meet?
When I was younger, and still living in Upstate New York, I was fortunate to be involved in a writer's group that attended conferences in both Niagara Falls, NY and Toronto, Ont Canada. I got to meet Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card (4 times), Terry Pratchett, Roger Zelazny, Nancy Kress, Arthur Clarke, and many other traditionally published authors. I thought I had met all the biggies at that point. Then, when I came to TN to live I got to meet so many more equally talented authors that I still cannot believe my luck (no pinching, I am afraid it is all a dream and I DO NOT want to wake up!). But the one person I have yet to meet that would make my day, actually there are two - Jennifer Armentrout (who has been to UtopYA and one other con I was at but I never got to meet her) and Maggie Stiefvater. If I ever meet those two I will probably collapse and say, "Put the dirt over me, I can go now!" (which is what my grandma used to say whenever she met someone she wanted to meet).
*Biggest writing pet peeve?
Writers who use words that are so big you need a dictionary to interpret the sentence.
* Do you read other's reviews of your books?
I do not read reviews. I will leave them for other writers, and they are always honest ones. Once I finish something I just want to let it go out into the big bad world and soar on its own. I have read of too many people being mean just because it is so anonymous a process, or they are jealous of another writer's success and maliciously post a false review to drag their book down. I have a friend who was approached by someone who said, "pay me money and I'll give you a good review, or else I will blast your site with lots of 1 star reviews." My friend said no thanks, reported the extortionist to Amazon and when the person posted all those promised bad reviews (on a book they admitted they hadn't even read) and Amazon pulled the reviews. But there is no way to police that type of thing, so I can only hope the readers are smart enough to read the reviews and identify the malicious ones and only accept the reviews of the ones that hold a true picture of the book. I know the readers are smart enough to do that, I have faith that they will, for the most part, be honest and helpful in their reviews.
I like a Red/Black combo
Fictional Character you'd like to spend the day with?
Anne of Green Gables as a young girl
Hot Dogs and fries
Fav song and/or singer
I listen to "Oceans" by United a lot right now.
jelly beans...shhh...I am not supposed to eat them...
Sixteen year old Helen Schwann was abandoned on the steps of a church as an infant. The only reminder of who she was is a necklace that was wrapped in the blanket with her which she kept through the years, hoping it would reveal her parent's fate and her true identity.
Just when she finally accepts her life's mystery she meets two people that tell her things about herself that she never knew, teach her to accept who she is, why she is here, and show that the way to one's true self is through the heart of another.