- What would you say are your strengths as an author?
My strengths are imagination, curiosity and persistence. My family jokes that we’ve inherited a writing gene – my dad was a poet and my mother, a tireless correspondent. Writing has never been difficult. That’s not to say what I put down on the page is always good, but once the creative juices begin to flow, the words come quickly.
I’m an inveterate eavesdropper. In the days before Covid shutdowns limited our ability to mix and mingle in public, I actually enjoyed taking public transit because it was a goldmine for characters and stories that I could use as jumping-off points in my writing. Despite the fact there might be dozens of folks in the same confined space, people’s conversations tend to be personal (humorous/sad/mundane/shocking) and often quite loud. I’ve overheard chats about hookups, breakups, new jobs, lottery wins, intimate medical issues – you name it.
I’m also a voracious reader of daily newspapers, magazines, blogs, audio and print books because they are all sources of inspiration. Going down the rabbit-hole of links in an off-beat article often surfaces useful tidbits.
- How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
I’ve spent my professional career writing – legal documents, briefing notes, technical manuals, position papers – so I’m using words every day, usually to convey information in other people’s voices.
As much as I understand the concept of planning out a novel, I’ve always been a pantser. An article in a newspaper, a photograph or an unusual name can spark my imagination and I’ll stop whatever I’m doing to scribble a scene into the spiral notebook I always carry. (I’ve collected several dozen that I flip through periodically. Finding usable literary nuggets that I’ve forgotten about is a treat!)
Strict routine? I wish. Until recently, I wasn’t at all disciplined. Now, because I know how labour-intensive completing a 95,000-word novel can be, every Saturday I spend a few hours at my computer, writing and editing in Scrivener. I can dash off a scene then re-arrange the contents of the project binder and write chapter transitions so that the story unfolds organically. Because my protagonist, Kenora, and her friends and lovers have lived in my head for more than a decade, it’s not difficult to pick up from where I left off.
- Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Well, my ultimate goal is to have all three of Kenora & Jake books in the series published. Along the way, I want to engage more with my readers to hear how they’ve enjoyed the people and situations I’ve created. Maybe they’ll inspire me to write book four.
- If you could offer once piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
One piece of advice? Sorry, that’s not possible. Besides, I’m a rebel.
Learn the technical aspects of writing – grammar, sentence construction, language, editing. Write. Read a lot of fiction and non-fiction as well as books on the writing craft. Write some more. Polish it, then put your work away to ‘cool’ for a while. Take classes from respected authors but don’t beggar yourself enrolling in expensive programs. Review your work, keep the parts you like, edit lightly then save the parts that don’t quite fit in a catch-all document with a date and distinctive name.
Don’t be too hard on yourself – we all write dreck. That’s part of the process of getting better. Attend reputable online writing conferences that suit your interests and genres. Find a group of like-minded writers to safely share your work with but focus on writing and don’t get distracted by the refreshments. You’ll develop your skills by reading aloud and accepting feedback. Step out of your comfort zone and try poetry or fantasy or historical romance.
Submit to contests that are moderately priced (or free) and that offer constructive critiques of your writing. Be prepared for rejection but revel in the joy of positive feedback or wins. Be realistic – indie publishing has opened up new markets for our work, but the competition is fierce.
Don’t stagnate because you can’t stop editing – good enough is good enough. Ditch the fear of being judged – that can be a crippling impediment for writers (ask me how I know!). And remember, writing – good writing – is hard work sometimes. But the end results will be worth your commitment!
- What would you consider to be the best compliment a reader could give your book?
The best compliment? Resonance. That my novel kept them engaged from start to finish because the characters were relatable, the plot was interesting and the outcomes satisfying. Or that one of my poems or short stories touched their heart or brought back a pleasant memory.
- What are you working on now?
I’m working on The Fifth Man, book two in the Kenora & Jake trilogy. It’s another riff on the heroine’s journey, where Kenora is forced to unravel shocking family secrets, navigate more skullduggery and of course, nurture her seasoned romance with Jake Barclay.
Most of the chapters are written (out of order, of course) and awaiting polishing and organization into a story that sizzles with energy, romance and mystery, and plotlines that flow smoothly to a happy conclusion.