Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start writing.
Writing fiction has been a like long-dream since I won the eighth grade short story contest at school in 1964. Life got in the way. I started paying into the U.S. Social Security fund at age twelve and have worked for the next fifty-two years. I grew up in an impoverished family, so in college a social work major seemed to be a good fit.
I must have written a hundred stories from eighth grade until I finished graduate school in 1977, none of them finished. My only publications were two poems, one in the West Virginia Student Anthology in 1972 and the other in an alternative zine.
After I earned my Masters in Social Work, I wrote and had considerable success with publications — all nonfiction and about different aspects of helping kids disadvantaged by abuse, poverty, lack of due process in the courts, inhumane institutional conditions, research on foster care, investigative reports, grants, statistical reports on child abuse and delinquency — you know, the type of stuff that an aspiring fiction writer would produce to take a little of the edge off my heartfelt drive to write fiction.
I recently retired as a children’s psychotherapist for our local mental health center. It was an intensive day program Most of the kids, like myself, had been traumatized, some having experienced extreme sexual abuse. One day at work in 2006 it all clicked together and the Lacy Dawn Adventures project was born — an empowered female protagonist beating up the evil forces that victimize and exploit others to get anything and everything that they want.
While my protagonist is a composite character based on real-life kids that I’d met over the years while working at the mental health center, one little girl was especially inspiring. Her name is Lacy Dawn. Rather than focusing on her victimization, she spoke of dreams – finding a loving family that respected her physically and spiritually. She inspired me to make my own dream come true, to write fiction and I haven’t stopped writing since I first met her that day during a group therapy session.
Tell us about your books.
There’s not much to tell about my books because “Rarity from the Hollow” is my debut novel. It is adult literary science fiction filled with tragedy, comedy and satire. The story crosses genres to address contemporary social issues through the voice of an eleven year old female protagonist. This novel is not for the prudish, fainthearted or easily offended. Lacy Dawn has evolved under the supervision of Universal Management for hundreds of thousand of years to fulfill her destiny to save the universe, and most importantly, fixes her own family first.
How did you go about getting published?
“Rarity from the Hollow” was traditionally published by a small press in Leeds, a long way from West Virginia where I live. I have never spent any money on editing, the book cover, or printing — the Dog Horn Publishing incurred all upfront costs and I’ve been paid royalties. Since I didn’t and still don’t have the money to self-publish, this novel, or the next, “Ivy,” depend on the publisher’s continuing support. However, as a small press, it doesn’t have an advertising budget, so I have been doing most of the promotions, as I mentioned a minute ago.
“Rarity from the Hollow” was first published by a short-lived eBook Publisher that I had queried. When I thought that the manuscript was ready for professional editing, I just went down a list and wrote queries. Fatcat Press was impressed, so I spent the next six months working with the editor on paper manuscripts mailed back and forth with her symbols in the margins. At first, I had to look up what the symbols meant. A month have its release, the publisher died, but not “Rarity from the Hollow.”
A couple of very well-known book critics had taken an interest in my project and wrote glowing book reviews before that company went under. I met the owner of Dog Horn Publishing on a social media chat room that no longer exists. After the owner checked out the early book reviews, he requested a copy and the editing process started all over again.
“Rarity from the Hollow” was republished in 2012. However, after working all day with abused kids, I was too exhausted to do much self-promotion when I got off work. Four months ago, I retired from my job as a children’s psychotherapist so that I could write and promote my fiction. There’s been considerable recent progress in generating a buzz. Unfortunately, I’m so broke that I can’t pay my bills and need to get at least a part-time job soon.
I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of months. Even though I have to return to the workforce, everything will be easier with the next novel and should take less work to promote — I hope.
What is your writing process? Do you have a time, day or place you like to write?
Since I’ve retired and this may be my last shot at making the writing gig work, I sit in front of my PC either writing or promoting most of the day and night. I feel compelled. The last thing that I would want to believe is that I didn’t give it my best shot. It would make me feel guilt, like I’d let down the kids that I want to help by donating author proceeds.
I don’t know what process that I’ll use once I return to work. I’ll need to get more sleep or I won’t hold down a job for long. Then, I” structure my off-time between promotions and writing. Promotions suck. I am very prolific if the situation permits and that’s where the fun is at.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Full-time job, pets, hobbies?
Most recently, I’ve not been doing much that has been unrelated to writing. I enjoy collecting obscure rock LPs, especially psychedelic and punk. I have a vegetable garden. I enjoy building construction type of projects. We have four cats and one dog — all rescue animals. I love reading, of course — maybe that’s what got me in this mess.
Any advice for authors about book covers?
The writing world is changing so fast that I would be afraid to make recommendations to anybody about much of anything related to production of literature. I love the book cover for “Rarity from the Hollow” but, frankly, it doesn’t speak to a target audience. A book reviewer who is also a graphic artist volunteered to design a new cover, pro bono, but after consideration, the current cover has become a brand. The only thing that I’ll say about covers is to not be associated with a book cover that would embarrass you in front of your mother. Some of the older science fiction covers were so sexist that I’m glad my name wasn’t on one of them. Occasionally, I will read a romance novel, but I ignore the cover on purpose — they are pretty bad too.
Any marketing tips you’d like to share with other authors?
The only tip that I can give about market would be to not “lose the family farm.” no matter how its done, to have a novel published is exciting. In one’s zeal, to go into debt or spend money that one can ill afford would be very sad. In a way, it would contaminate the work itself. Again, I’ve never spent any money to promote “Rarity from the Hollow” but that’s mainly because I didn’t have any money to spend. If I was rich, I would have spent a lot because I believe in my work and think that others will too if they just find out about it.
What’s your favorite book?
To ask me about my favorite book is too hard a question. The answer could change every few seconds. One novel that continues to linger in my mind was published in the ’70s, “Another Roadside Attraction” by Tom Robbins.
What are you reading now?
Currently, unfortunately, I’m finishing a YA murder mystery / romance as a commitment to a Goodreads program. I will be very glad to turn the last page, so to speak. For a stark contrast, I’ve been looking forward to rereading “1984” by Huxley. ey
What’s your next book project?
“Ivy” questions how far a child will go to save a parent from drug addition. It is a comical satire, also speculative fiction, that contrasts victimization with empowerment. Ivy is an almost forgotten town and the base of an alien invasion of Earth, kind of….