Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
My picture is in the dictionary under the words, “Late Bloomer”, but I did blossom. Former corporate lawyer, now fount and purveyor of joy, words, humor, and most importantly, questions.
My life seems to have been written in movements, like a really long musical piece. I actually started writing when I was about 10 years old, and got sidetracked for about 30 years chasing a legal career, sanity, survival, money, and kids, not in that order.
Sometimes, sanity lost, and what we would call “Arsenic Hour” won: the hour where your kids realize you have put them in day care all day and decide to punish you, while you cower in the corner with a glass of merlot and try to have an adult conversation. Motherhood prepared me for a career of attempting to bring things of beauty into the world in the hopes of providing joy, inspiration or entertainment. Apparently, all of that creative energy has been stored and building all this time, and I discovered after all of these other pursuits that I had a unique voice and point of view. I’ve got 1 book out now and another coming in a few months, which I consider my life’s work, and two more planned after that. For me, writing is joy, purpose, path, celebration and meditation, so I do as much of it as I can to keep reminding myself of who I truly am in my soul.
Just as a person is like a diamond with too many facets to count, I believe there are an almost infinite number of creative pathways we can follow. For that reason, I can’t limit myself to one genre.
I have written two books from two completely different genres, and have two more planned.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is called Undamned, My Escape from the Old Testament. Simply put, I wanted to return the gift of joy to so many who had it surgically removed from their spirits by their religion.
It was inspired by what I describe in the book as the phenomenon of McChurch, something that can look more like a fast- food restaurant than a place of sanctuary, and can be more of a harmful addiction than a balm for wounds. As a person of faith, my heart ached for so many who sought solace and got judgment and more pain, and was outraged that this was happening to so many, simply because we were asking questions every spiritual has asked and should ask. I sought to help others and heal myself and found answers to the questions that would not fit in this cold doctrine, as well as a whole new, more forgiving and infinite spirituality.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Do I ever! First, I write mainly in my pajamas, with a steaming cup of coffee. In fact, I’m doing that now☺ My best thoughts, inspirations and phrases come in the time right before one awakes in the morning, so I try to get to my computer as close to that time as possible, before I get sucked into the phone, the list, the 1960s house falling apart…
Second, I don’t write in my house at all. I built a little writers shed in the back yard, which is wild and untamed. There, looking out the window on all this lushness that nature has provided, I believe in the infinite number of courses a creative process can follow, and I get started.
One more strange writing habit: I write most first thoughts, titles, drafts, and poems on the Memo/ Post It Notes app on my phone. It really helps to dispense with any formality or limits to letting the process be what it will.
An idea, a chapter heading, a poem title, or a full poem will occur to me, and to save time, I put that idea on the memo pad, to flesh out later. Then, I transfer it to my computer to be modified, edited and re-edited, as a form of self- torture.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I am remarkably impressionable and something that is well – written and powerful can influence me for weeks or even years. The Goldfinch and All the Lights We Cannot See changed me for good with their message and their beauty– The Goldfinch, because it illustrated how a thing of beauty can be redemptive in even the darkest of lives. All the Lights… similarly showed that there are moments of heroic sacrifice and pure goodness in people who appear dark and times that appear without hope. These acts simply aren’t brought to light. The Goldfinch made a huge difference to me, in that I saw that art has the capacity to change a life, and therefor, what I do as an artist is never in vain. I may never see how my work affects someone, but that does not mean that it doesn’t. I love the idea of seeing and pulling light out of the darkness.
What are you working on now?
I am currently in the production phase of a robustly joyous, yet candid and plainly understandable collection of the best of my poems written over the past 15 years, including the first poem I ever wrote and kept, written in 2001. Kirkus has given it a “ Recommended’ review. It’s like having another child, late in life, and I’m about that amazed, proud, and excited.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have all of the accouterments of social media, including a website and regular blog that has many loyal followers- — these are great for building a loyal fan base and finding new readers, but I am going to get countercultural here: the best draw is word of mouth from loyal readers. One friend reads my book and recommends it to another friend, and so on… Most who have read Undamned have already asked when the next book is coming out.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Yes! Stay the Course. Pay less attention to what you don’t know and what others claim to know, and more to what is inside you trying to get out.
You know what to write, how to write it, and probably who can help you get it out there. But, this is an exhausting endeavor. Pacing is everything.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Take outcomes out of the equation entirely. Don’t write for others, for success, for reviews, or for money. Write because you can’t be a happy or authentic version of you unless you do
What are you reading now?
I typically read more than one book at a time. I just finished Tammy Hoag’s new thriller, Cold, Cold, Heart and am finishing an interesting book entitled 60 Million Frenchmen Can’t be Wrong, and am reading the last few chapters of The Gifts of Imperfection. I discover and re-discover books, according to the inspiration I need at the time. They all have their own gifts and beauty.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I am excited to get my poetry book out to the public, because it was and is the most challenging and hopefully, beautiful work I have ever attempted, taking hundreds of individual works, and sculpting, cutting, and shaping them into a single , unified work. That, of necessity, meant leaving a lot of my creations on the cutting-room floor.
Similarly, Undamned, My Escape from the Old Testament, was the most difficult and rewarding work I had ever tackled up to this time, bringing together elements of 3 different genres and tying them together with a common and complex theme, in the hope of helping hurting people and bringing us all a little bit closer together. The best thing I can wish for is that I succeeded in that objective.
Next, I’ve got two more book ideas I’m working on.That would cover the Christian, Spiritual, Self- Help, Memoir and Poetry genres. Don’t you think a novel should be next? Why not?
What is your favorite book of all time?
That is a tough question. I read so many books of so many different genres, it’s hard to choose one. I’m not just a writer; I ‘m a huge fan of all good authors and a voracious reader. My favorite book is always the one I’m reading right now