Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I live in central California west of Yosemite National Park. I have written several short historical western novels, one Christmas romance set in Wyoming, and the other books set in California.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The name of my latest book is TOO OLD FOR CHRISTMAS. This past year my husband and I made several trips to Columbia State Park, a preserved Gold Mining town in California’s southern Mother Lode region. I took scads of pictures of the place this year, bought books, and researched its history, learning to love it even more than in past years.
I have no idea where I saw it, but an old photograph of a very lovely woman who obviously had lost all her teeth caught my attention and stayed in my memory. As soon as I decided I wanted to write a Christmas novella for this year, the idea for the plot for TOO OLD FOR CHRISTMAS, complete with title, inspired by that picture popped into my head. I quickly chose to set it in one of my favorite places to visit. In no time at all, I had the outline for an entirely new series organized on my computer: Too Old in Columbia.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Because I have a bad neck that gives me fits when I sit up to a computer desk any length of time, my “office” is a loveseat in my living room with a good lumbar pillow for support. I often prop my feet on an ottoman and use a laptop. The other half the loveseat holds my research books, etc. I prefer to write in dead silence, but I can edit and work social media when my husband watches the news.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
There are too many to mention. I know I used to love to read Danielle Steele and Tom Clancey, but they are not the genre I choose to write. I know Jeffrey Archer had convinced me once I am well-known enough I can write books with cliff-hanger endings and get away with it. I probably have most been influenced by my family history research, and the exposure to the history of everyday people who were ancestors of family and friends.
What are you working on now?
I am in the middle of the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series being published by Prairie Rose Publications. The first two novellas are published, the third is due out in the first half of 2016, and I need to get busy writing the last two in that series. I have a sixth book set in 1887 to go along with that series, but no firm plans. I also have a work in progress set in 1870s Kansas and Indiana, and other books in a family history saga I started.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I use Facebook and Twitter a lot. What I have also found to be effective is participating in group blogs. Besides my own two blogs I use for book promotion, I contribute once a month to two publisher blogs, Prairie Rose Publications and Fire Star Press, to Cowboy Kisses and to a blog I administer, Sweet Americana Sweethearts.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I don’t care how good of a story you write, if you plan to ask people to pay money to read it, you must also know the craft of writing. Your work needs to show evidence that you understand correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, word usage, etc.
That said, I don’t care how good you are at all of the above, it is extremely difficult to self-edit your own work. Your brain wrote the story and your brain knows what is supposed to be there. Your brain will jump right over dropped words, wrong word usage, dropped or incorrect punctuation, poor sentence structure, misspelled words, etc. It is wonderful if you can afford to pay for someone to professionally copy-edit your work. Your best bet if you can’t afford a professional copy editor is to line up at least two friends who are good at grammar and ask them to read your manuscript with a colored pen/pencil in hand to correct errors or at least circle anything that doesn’t look right to them. If you must rely solely on self-editing, research the most effective ways to go about it and take the time to be thorough.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Accept that part of writing and publishing books is promoting your books. Set up your author platform early, such as a website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Goodreads–whatever will work best for you. Use promotion sites with big followings like Awesomegang to get the word out about your published book. Plan to spend between one-third and two-thirds of your author time promoting your published work.
What are you reading now?
My goal is to finish reading all the Christmas stories I have bought this year. What I am reading today won’t be what I am reading tomorrow. I also recently bought six California history research books. I will add those to my research collection and be working on them.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I have series started and enough plots planned to keep my busy for years to come. In addition to my fiction work, I am planning to write some non-fiction historical books.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Please don’t try to limit me like that. I would bring my scriptures, my hymn book, my Kindle, my Nook and a solar battery.