Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve been writing for 35+ years. Pretty amazing when I you consider how I got started as a writer: I lived in a N.C. mountain town of 200 people–Brasstown–and that’s where I learned how to write articles. The first time I saw my byline in the “Asheville Citizen-Times” I was hooked. I’ve since gone on to write 1,200 articles for major magazines and 18 books. Like I said, I was hooked!
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
“Welcome the Little Children” is the third book in my Appalachian Mountain Mysteries. I’ve set the books there to pay homage to the people who taught me so much (including writing!). This book continues the saga of Abit Bradshaw and Della Kincaid and involves a missing mother, neglected children, and lost love. Abit and Della have their work cut out for them as they get entangled in the investigation of the missing mother, searching for answers from the mountains of N.C. to the streets of D.C. Along the way, they come face-to-face with the lies and secrets plaguing their own families. I was inspired by my life in the mountains of N.C., my Irish heritage, and bluegrass music. Oh, and the eight years I spent in Washington, D.C. (Quite a difference from small-town N.C.!)
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Over the years, I learned that I have to know my lead sentences–whether I’m writing a blog, article, or book–in order to get started. I read all the books that said I could come back and do this later, but that never worked. I HAVE to know where I’m headed, and the lead, well, leads me forward. Otherwise, I’m your regular, diligent writer, spending four to six hours a day writing (with plenty of breaks for meals, cups of tea, and playing with my dog, Mollie).
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Anne Lamott has been an invaluable ally. Her nonfiction book “Bird by Bird” got me over my negative thinking about my terrible first drafts. I came to understand they are a natural part of the writing process. As for authors that inspire me, Adrian McKinty ranks high. I love his humor and character backstories that add so much to the mysteries. I’m also a big fan of P.D. James, David Baldacci, Jonathan Kellerman, and Michael Connelly. Especially Michael Connelly.
What are you working on now?
I am in the early stages of research into the fourth book of my Appalachian Mountain Mysteries. Still exploring what Abit and Della will get up to next.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’m pleased, for the most part, with Amazon. That seems to be where readers go.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
As I mentioned above–don’t beat yourself up for writing bad first drafts. That’s just how the writing process works. I like to tell my clients that “Good writing is really good editing. Bad writers just stopped too soon.” Take that first draft and polish it till it shines. Edit. Edit. Edit.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Again, don’t get discouraged by bad first drafts. Keep at it, and edit it as much as needed until it shines. Oh, and here’s some advice I don’t agree with–write every day. That doesn’t work for me. I need to get out and see things and overhear things. I need to walk in nature. If I tell myself I HAVE to write every day, that becomes a burden rather than a joy. I am disciplined about my writing, so I’m not worried I’m going to fall off the writing wagon. I need breaks–they freshen and improve my writing.
What are you reading now?
I just finished David Baldacci’s “Long Road to Mercy.” A little slow in the beginning (unusual for him), but he’s introducing a new character, which takes time. Once past the slow intro, though, it’s a page burner! I’m waiting for the latest Adrian McKinty book–promised soon.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m working on marketing six of my favorite books–three fiction and three nonfiction. I’ve spent years perfecting them, and now is the time, thanks to Amazon Advertising, to have a real go at it. But as I mentioned above, I’m also researching book four in my Appalachian Mountain Mysteries.
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 latest books by Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman, Adrian McKinty, and David Baldacci. I’d skip another favorite genre–cookbooks. Though maybe a fish cookbook would be a good idea!