Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have always wanted to publish books, but a disabling car accident in the 70’s cost me five years of my life and financial ruin. I beat the odds and refused to accept the diagnosis that I would never work again, but I had to pace myself. I wrote a business reference guide “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” in the 80’s, which was featured in Inc. Magazine.
I waited until after retirement to begin the “Lessons from Fiori” series about a little girl who was enticed by winged creatures from another dimension to help them protect the children of Earth. This series and Elle were born of my own childhood abuse and my desire to convince kids they need to find help if someone is hurting them. “Elle Burton and the Reflective Portals” is the first book in the series, and “Missing” will be released in winter, 2015.
I’ve also contributed to NY Times Best Selling Author Joel Comm’s “So What Do You Do? Vol 2 – Discovering the GENIUS Next Door with One Simple Question” (Released October 2014) and “An Anthology of Modern Fairy Tales #1: 10 Original Tales About Wishful Happy Endings to Real Life Experiences,” with Renee Alter and others published April 2015.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
I will be publishing “Missing”, the second book in the “Lessons from Fiori” series in the winter, 2015. The books in the series are being written to inspire kids to stand up to the myriad of social injustices that plague children today both on the school grounds and at home.
As a child who suffered abuse and bullying, my goal is to empower kids to stand up to these adversities and find someone to trust to help them. Elle Burton is the kid I always wanted to be. The books are very clean, and provide a female role model which is somewhat lacking in today’s world of vampires and violence.
I work with my middle-grade student, Anneka Rogers, who reads, critiques, and makes suggestions. She had an unusual request in the first book regarding the class bully, Jimmy Backus. I think you’ll love the chapters on Jimmy!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
This is a fun question. I took a class on biorhythms in the 80’s. The class taught us that everyone has a period of highest productivity twice each day. I started paying attention to when I accomplished the most work at the office. I found I could do twice the work from the hours of 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. as I accomplished at any other time of the day. When I wrote “The Art of Business Credit Investigation” I couldn’t do it during working hours and I had two small children to take care of. I would sleep as soon as I put the children to bed, and set the alarm for 11 P.M. I got up and wrote until 2 A.M. and was able to complete the book in only two months. It was magical. I still do my best work during those hours and try to capitalize on them.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I grew up in the 50’s & 60’s. One book that built the basis of how I view the world was “To Kill A Mockingbird”. My mother was from the south, people had begun to march for equality, and I needed to understand why color was even an issue to people. I even participated in some of the marches during my college years.
For the most part, I loved fantasy. It allowed me to escape all the pain of my own life. “Through the Looking Glass”, “Charlotte’s Web”, the books by C. S. Lewis, “The Velveteen Rabbit”, and more. As an adult, I began to lean toward mysteries as my favorite genre including such authors as James Patterson, John Grisham, Lee Child, Vince Flynn who I met in Minneapolis before his death, and John Grisham. I believe I’ve read nearly every book published by these authors.
What are you working on now?
Elle’s little brother was kidnapped in book 1 of the current series. “Missing” is in the last round of edits and will continue the story which was left in a bit of a cliffhanger because the publisher would not release the original book because he felt it was too long. It took me six months to rewrite a 100 page ending into a stand-alone book, causing the release of book two to be delayed much longer than I anticipated. A fall in London added a few months to the delay. I’ve already started book 3 in the series but don’t have a title for it quite yet.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
My business reference guide was sold by mailing a flyer and personal letter to the financial head of any business I could find in the business directories at the library. That was in the 80’s when everything was done by snail mail, and I made two figures on the book in the first year.
Dealing with publishers and all the other experts required to publish a book today is a new learning curve for me. I’ve made the most contacts through Facebook and Twitter to date.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Make certain you have excellent and professional editors. Because of the brain injury in 1978, I know I have a tendency to pick a favorite word and use it multiple times within a few pages before changing to another word. I must drive my editors crazy with this one. I lost the right front lobe of the brain, so had to reteach myself how to talk and I still have a few problems, including using words multiple times. I don’t see these errors, but the editors do. They also make sure the story flows and I keep the action moving ahead at all times. With two books written, I can tell you we’ve scrapped 5 chapters because they didn’t add to the story line.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I love this one! I’m sold on the Pareto Principle: From Wikipedia: It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.” With respect to this article, 80% of the value will come from 20% of the content. Mathematically, the 80–20 rule is roughly followed by a power law distribution (also known as a Pareto distribution) for a particular set of parameters, and many natural phenomena have been shown empirically to exhibit such a distribution. I have found this principle to be true in every line of business I’ve been in. The product, book, etc., is only 20% of the sale. My ability to service and provide value is 80%. It’s a good rule to live by.
What are you reading now?
I have just completed the audio series for “The Land Uncharted”, “Uncharted Inheritance”, and “Uncharted Redemption” by Keely Brooke Keith about Lydia Colburn, who is a young physician dedicated to serving her village in the Land, an undetectable island in the South Atlantic Ocean. When Lt. Connor Bradshaw’s parachute carries him from the war engulfing the 2025 world to Lydia’s hidden land, his mission could expose her simple society. These books reminded me of the Amish community I so dearly loved in Kalona, Iowa where I grew up. I have roughly 40 new books I want to read but haven’t made up my mind which one to read next.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’ve completed a cozy little mystery that I hope will make it through editing in 2016, currently titled “Secrets of the Lake”, but as all authors know, that can change before it goes to press.
What is your favorite book of all time?