Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
As a child, fiction was my escape from a big family that had too much drama and too many people with mental health problems. I dreamed of writing a novel, but my attempts ended in failure until I retired and started thinking of a story based on my experiences with animal rescue. Things clicked when I decided to write a mystery about the murder of an evil animal shelter director who kills the dogs and cats in his care. (That’s not a spoiler because the murder happens on page one.)
Tell us about your books.
In No Kill Station, Matt, a police officer in the small town of Rehoboth Beach, finds himself thrown into a maelstrom of murder, dog-fighting, mobsters, bribery, and corruption. His obsession with the case threatens not only his job but also his new relationship with Clara, who is dearly loved by his son. My book is especially for people who love animals and want them saved from being abused by evil people or killed in shelters. After blogging for years, it struck me that rescuers and animal advocates often preach to the choir. My hope is that my novel entertains people and also spreads the word that we can save more homeless animals.
How did you go about getting published?
I didn’t try to find an agent or publisher. I just uploaded my book to Amazon.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
I like to write in the morning after I’ve walked the dogs and they settle down for naps. I think about my plot and characters while swimming laps, which may be one of the world’s most boring activities.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
I grew up and worked as a city planner in Washington D.C. where political controversy is omnipresent. The relative peace and quiet in the Philly suburbs where I live now is lovely. Since I retired, I’ve had the luxury of time that I can use for reading and writing.
My grandchildren perform in community musical theater productions, so one of my favorite activities is going to see their shows. I volunteer at the theater as an usher or selling concessions before the shows and during intermission. It’s great for people watching.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Few books actually make it to bookstore shelves so I think that a cover must catch readers’ attention online. I’ve often seen suggestions that a graphic artist be hired to design the cover, and I agree – the templates on Amazon are awful. To create a good cover, I think an author must have a vision, not just hope that artist will come up with it. I noticed that many murder mysteries have very dark covers and I wanted something different. Since my book is about a beach town with an evil SPCA director, I searched online for a photo of a beach scene that seemed ominous but had bright colors. It took me a while but I found a photo that I liked. I tested it by making a copy the size of the covers displayed in rows on Amazon, which are quite small. I liked how my photo popped out among the dark covers chosen for so many mystery books, so I bought the rights to it, which were quite inexpensive. Once I had my photo, it was easy and inexpensive to find a graphic artist online to add the text.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
I like Kindle Unlimited because a lot of serious readers subscribe. When a thousand people download the book on a KU free day, I’m absolutely thrilled. Some authors are trying to make a living from their novels, but luckily I don’t have to rely on my novel to put bread on the table.
It’s scary waiting for the first reviews and important to remember that some people won’t like the book. I decided early on that I wouldn’t beg for reviews on Goodreads the way some authors do. I’d much rather have organic reviews that come from people who actually choose to read the book on their own.
What’s your favorite book?
That’s such a hard question! If someone put a gun to my head and ordered me to pick a favorite book, I guess I would say The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I read the book when I was a teenager and the social justice theme had a huge impact on my life. I love fiction that enables me to imagine how people cope with the challenges in their lives and survive adversity. There’s a saying that we should read the Bible like a novel and a novel like the Bible. I love
What are you reading now?
I’m reading Anne Swinfen’s series of novels set in the middle ages. I’m totally awed by the research needed for good historical fiction.
What’s your next book project?
I’m working on the sequel to No Kill Station. I like my main characters and want to continue writing about their lives.