Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
As a baby boomer, I grew up at a time when girls were still being conditioned to ‘make nice’, and the catchphrase was ‘Children should be seen and not heard’. (The original form of this proverb was directed at females.) That’s punishing for a girl who’s spirited and thinks outside the square.
And what made it even harder for me was that I often had the urge to laugh at the most inappropriate times. Still do. But I didn’t realise what was driving me until I started writing.
I have an obscene muse!
It took me a while to accept this. But the more I do, the more my creativity flows, unobstructed. And I’m having so much fun now with the things that got me into a lot of shit as a child!
I think I started writing because I needed to find an intimate space—somewhere where I felt safe. I feel that way when I write; it’s the one place I can always be all of me.
And my writing isn’t a means of erasing what felt so tragic in my childhood. (I don’t believe you can, anyway; these things are imprinted on the psyche … and they’re great raw materials for a writer!) It’s a means of drawing out the comedy in the tragedy, seeing things in their entirety, inasmuch as you can. It takes the charge out of what was.
Tell us about your books.
The essence of my books is humour | satire. And I don’t ‘make nice’—my motto is ‘Women should be obscene and heard’! ‘Obscene’ in its original meaning, though, not today’s denigrated version of it. I call it ‘sacred profanity’—my muse might be dirty, but she is a goddess!
Odyssey in a Teacup, a humorous coming-of-age story that also falls into the Chick lit genre, is Book 1 in the Ruth Roth Series:
Protagonist Ruth Roth sports an up-yours attitude! She’s at the mercy of an irrepressible force that threatens to derail her psychological and moral growth, with shameless thoughts and impulses that won’t quit! And as Ruth stumbles through the transitions the average girl must face, and often finds herself in situations the average girl will never face, the conventional keys to handling them can’t work for someone who doesn’t toe the line. At an opportune moment, though, Ruth unearths a unique way to deal with life—not just survive it, but really live it! Still … it can’t prevent or protect her from a personal apocalypse.
Apoca[hot]lips, a romantic comedy, is Book 2 in the series:
Ever since she was a little girl, Ruth thought fairy tales were rubbish! Yet, some forty years later, she becomes entangled in a romance with all the elements of a fairy tale—the unpurged kind that was never meant for children’s ears! It’s a taboo-branded relationship that has Ruth weathering a shitstorm! Her ‘prince’ has her back as she fends off her knockers, but he can’t do much about the conflicts in her mind. Or the ones in his own. And when an earth-shattering revelation causes him to give her grief, she wonders if love can conquer all. Or … if she even wants it to.
How did you go about getting published?
I researched: I read blogs and articles on the pros and cons of both self-publishing and traditional publishing. What struck me most was a common complaint from writers who had their books traditionally published, and said they’d lost their ‘voice’ through the editing process (which included requests from the publisher and the marketer that they were under pressure to accept). Based on that premise, I decided to self-publish.
My manuscript may not have been accepted by a publishing house, and it’s not to say I’d rule out trying to submit future manuscripts. But at that point, I felt I’d worked too hard to retrieve my voice to then have someone else modify and commodify it.
I still wanted a polished job, though, so I had the manuscript professionally edited, and the cover done by a graphic designer. And because self-publishing is a huge enterprise, I engaged the services of a digital marketing strategist, who specialises in author branding and ebook marketing. I got my polished job!
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
On the odd occasion that I feel creatively blocked, I’ll write organically—with pen and paper—without technology as a ‘go-between’. It helps free up my writing. Mostly, though, I get in front of the computer first thing in morning, and spend the better part of the day there. That’s the extent of my discipline; I don’t follow a step-by-step process.
I’m more of a ‘pantser’ than a plotter—I fly by the seat of my pants. My creativity doesn’t want to be constrained by a pre-determined plan.
I also find it very gratifying to let the characters lead. I just never know how and where things are going to end up! So, I’m as much a reader as I am a writer. And I think that’s important, because it reminds me that I’m not writing just for myself.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
Hanging out with family and friends. Playing with my grandsons. Reading. But a lot of my time is spent writing: I love it. I have a rich inner life, so, writing is work that feels like a hobby. Although … I know I need to get out more when I start getting a little too attached to my characters!
Any advice for authors about book covers?
Get it done professionally. The cover is the first thing a potential reader sees. As a reader myself, if I come across a DIY cover, I’m not going to look past it. Maybe I can pick it more easily because I used to be a graphic designer. But I still enlisted a professional with expertise in book cover design to do my covers
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
Exposure! Promotion! Build a following on at least a couple of social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram, LinkedIn. Whatever works best for you. Having a daily presence helps. It’s also helpful to have a marketing strategist who has a good knowledge of the workings of Amazon, and knows how, when and where to position your book so it gets the most exposure.
What’s your favorite book?
‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estés is, without question, nourishment for my soul. Non-fiction, it’s one of those books I can read a hundred times, yet, find new meaning each time.
What are you reading now?
I’m hooked on Sandra Brown novels. She writes whodunnits, and I’ve read plenty of those by other authors. But I love her style—a combination of mystery, romance, sex, and lots of twists and turns.
What’s your next book project?
I’m on Book 3 of the Ruth Roth Series. Books 1, 2 & 3 form a trilogy, although each is individually complete. And I can already see there’s the potential there for it to become a four-part series—but I’ll leave that to my muse!