Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Growing up in a small town on the plains of eastern Montana, I was anxious to see the world (i.e., move away). After college, I left for 8 years, living in Michigan and then Washington, eventually realizing there’s no place like home, happily returning to Montana in the 1980’s. I’m the mother of three grown children, and proud nana of seven grandsons and a granddaughter. My husband, Mini-Schnauzer and I live in south central Montana, where I enjoy writing, reading, photography, travel, long walks and the “Big Sky” of Montana.
For over 30 years, my passion was teaching, working with thousands of women and babies as a breastfeeding educator. During my career, I spoke at numerous Lactation Conferences, both nationally and internationally and co-wrote many lactation articles and case studies, which have appeared in different lactation journals, as well as being referenced in books.
I’ve written one full-length book, Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia and this past summer I was nominated as 2015 Best Woman Writer for the High Plains Book Awards, which encompassed over 200 entries from 7 western states and 3 Canadian provinces.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia is my first full-length work, inspired by my struggle to find practical and helpful information while I was the caregiver for my parents. After my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and my father with Parkinson’s-related dementia during the same year, I became the nearest family caregiver. Since journaling had been a part of my life since I was 16, it seemed only natural for me to keep a diary of our journey down what I call the “rabbit hole of dementia.” Writing became my therapy and a way to cope with the emotional ups and downs of our lives. Over time, my journal morphed its way into a memoir, filled with stories and lessons, insight and hope. I was inspired to publish it after sharing the manuscript with friends and friends of friends who were traveling the same difficult road and hearing them tell me how much reading this book helped them on their own journey.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Well, I’m not sure what would be considered “usual” writing habits, so whether or not my writing habits are “unusual” is open to debate. My office is sitting on a stool at my computer at my kitchen counter breakfast bar. I write at all different times of the day or evening, whenever I can escape life’s persistent demands.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Escaping into the historical fiction and fantasy time-travel of a Diana Gabaldon novel is my idea of a great time. Her writing style is so engaging, I find myself saying (or thinking) “ken” and “dinna” weeks after finishing one of her novels. I’d love to have her talent for writing characters. She also has a knack for including interesting vocabulary. I enjoy Barbara Kingsolver and felt her book The Poisonwood Bible changed the way I look at life. Her books are thoughtful and remain in my mind long after I’ve finished the read.
What are you working on now?
Although this is still my working title, I recently finished the first draft of Overcoming Maggie (WT). This biographical work of fiction was inspired by the life of my great-grandmother, a spunky and determined woman thrust into marriages of abuse, not once, but 3 times. I’ve the actual divorce transcript from the first marriage, which inspired much of the first half of the book. This story, which begins in Michigan and ends in Montana, is a testament to her determination, courage and spirit. It takes place around the turn of the 20th century, when women had few, if any, legal rights.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I engage with social media via Twitter and Facebook every day, maintain a website with a blog and seek out connection with others interested in all things dementia. I’ve spoken numerous times in my city for various organizations about Dementia Awareness and always bring along a stack of my books to sell.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
It’s important to put together a good, professional-looking product that is well-written and professionally edited, with a classy, eye-catching cover. After that, it’s all about marketing, marketing, marketing. And, yes, I’d rather be writing…
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
What are you reading now?
I’m always reading other books related to Alzheimer’s/dementia, including Stars Go Blue by Laura Pritchett (High Plains Book Award winner), Jean Lee’s Alzheimer’s Daughter, Marianne Sciucco’s Blue Hydrangeas and Shannon Wiersbitzky’s What Flowers Remember. I recently finished both Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Currently, I’m reading Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Working with my editor on Overcoming Maggie, continuing to blog, participate in promos and market my book, Somebody Stole My Iron.
What is your favorite book of all time?
That would have to be the historical fiction/fantasy time-traveling novel, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.