Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I have always loved school and spent my working career in universities. My first book, “The Politics of the Feminist Novel,” won an Outstanding Academic Book award; and I have published literary criticism as well as book reviews and occasional poems and a short story. I earned my B.A. cum laude at Bowling Green State University, and my doctorate came from the University of Michigan, even though I am a home-grown Ohio State Buckeye, which became a fun challenge while I was teaching Freshman English during my graduate work at Michigan. Now retired from university administration I have had more time for breeding and showing collies and Irish wolfhounds, garnering AKC championships and several group placements along the way. I have also enjoyed judging multiple AKC matches and will receive my AKC judge’s license shortly. I also have more time now for golf, travel, gardening and reading, all of which are part of my so-called “retired” life.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My most recent writing is “His Name was Brownie: Close Encounters with Dogs, People, and Other Ridiculous Animals.” I have always loved reading and started with animal stories and books before elementary school. My favorites were Albert Payson Terhune’s collie stories and Walter Farley’s Black Stallion and Island Stallion books, all of which I read many times. I thought it would be wonderful to be able to write like that and give people so much enjoyment. So I decided to try it with “Brownie” after an English professor said I should write up the funny animal stories I often told at parties. “Brownie” is a mixed-breed offspring of “Marley and Me” and “All Creatures Great and Small,” and is just for fun. Peopled with multiple Marley dogs (and Marla’s as well), nearly all readers will recognize their dog or cat, son or daughter, spouse–maybe even themselves– as the featured characters barrel their way through their laughable adventures. Collies and Irish wolfhounds bound through the pages; but they have many companions, including a tuxedo cat, a mastiff, a demented border collie, two Siamese cats, two twenty-five pound attack cats, the monkey from Hell, a Labrador retriever nicknamed “Blockhead” because of his habit of getting his head stuck in plastic milk cartons, black witch moths, and a bufo. Their escapades take them through beautiful areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii, before the clan finally lands in Wisconsin near the Wisconsin River.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I only write when I feel like it. I put my head back, shut my eyes, and picture the general story I want to write; and when it comes, I write it. Sometimes it happens when I’m driving somewhere, and I rip a piece of paper out of somewhere and jot down notes when stopped at red lights.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Too many to count–as a child Terhune and Farley. There are many hundreds as an adult; I just can’t list them all.
What are you working on now?
This fall, I’ll be starting on a fiction book. The title will be “Pitch to Light,” and it will be totally different from “Brownie,” probably somewhat grimly serious.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
So far it’s been Kindle countdown deals, but I need to find something else.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write what you care about, and don’t stop. Do not write for the marketplace. Read thousands and thousands of good books; read about how to write; and then do what you want.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
People are like trees; they grow or die.
What are you reading now?
The Winds of War
What’s next for you as a writer?
“Pitch to Light.”
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?
The God of Small Things, The Poisonwood Bible, Winterdance, and The Awakening
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