Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
If you count all the books “in the drawer,” I’ve written ten. Most are memoir, but there’s a few really awful novels and a promising daily meditation book. Stay tuned! I’m always writing, always looking for a good story to share.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My running and mental health memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, was released by Mango Publishing in 2019. It was my first published book.
At 49, as a chronically depressed, grief-stricken “couch potato” I was as surprised as anyone when the social media post of a friend inspired me to leash up the dog, pick up a digital kitchen timer, and walk down to a secluded ravine to attempt sixty-seconds of jogging. I was even more surprised when it not only helped me slim down, but improved my mood so much I was able to reduce my mental health meds. My friends, family, and health care providers saw the change before I did.
I was already writing about my new, “middle-age” habit. It took a year of writing the story before I realized it wasn’t about running. The real story was about saving my own life through exercise.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I write in a grocery store. I’ve always loved writing in coffeeshops. I used to say I “collected” coffeeshop experiences. I still have a favorite coffeeshop I frequent, but there is a large, chain grocer in our suburb that has a large community room with free wifi and a coffeeshop. I’m there several times a week.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
From the day I first listened to Ziska read the cassette audiobook of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, to the present when I keep Bones on my desk at all times, that book has been my bible. I would not still be writing so many years later. Without her “writing practice” technique and the philosophy behind it, I would have given up long ago.
Other memoirists are also guides for me: Mary Karr, Cheryl Strayed, and Vivian Gornick.
What are you working on now?
I’m hard at work on the book proposal for a book of daily meditation practices to help people live in the moment.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is an online service free to “sources.” Once you’ve written a book, you’re automatically an “expert” in whatever topic your book covers. Journalists are hungry for new voices to quote and new books to include on their “best of” lists. It’s been invaluable.
The other tool is Smarterqueue for scheduling social media posts. It makes it look as if I am on social media 24-hours a day. I am not!
Do you have any advice for new authors?
If you’re new to writing, patience is your friend. I hated hearing that, but it was true. Take a long view. And do not give up.
If you’re newly published, hang on! The ride is amazing and sometimes rocky. I actually wrote an entire blog post for the Women’s National Book Association of San Francisco about how to stay sane when your book comes out. The number one thing I need to remember daily is that thousands of other authors would love to be where I am. Complaining about the “problems” of success does not look good on anyone.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“On to the next.” ~ Brenda Ueland
Also, “Keep your hand moving.” ~ Natalie Goldberg
What are you reading now?
I just finished The Swan Thieves. I cannot imagine the time spent on the research alone. That kind of intricate fiction amazes me. I’m not sure my mind works that way, but it inspires me to do my best.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I hope to further develop what has so far been an amazing relationship with the professionals at Mango Publishing. I cannot praise Associate Publisher Brenda Knight often enough. She has the vision, passion, and experience to make things happen. She has treated me with and my book with the utmost respect and kindness and is someone I hope I will always have on my side.
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?
Writing Down the Bones, of course. Also, Natalie Goldberg’s Long Quiet Highway. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Nothing Special: Living Zen by Joko Beck.