I’m an author who writes contemporary literary fiction with a touch of suspense and have published two novels.
I love writing and I also love to read and often write reviews for books I love. I never write reviews for books I didn’t enjoy, I see no purpose in writing negative reviews. To me reading is subjective and a book that doesn’t grab me, might be life changing for someone else. So — I have a strong policy in that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I don’t say anything at all. Sometimes, I’ll give four or five stars to a book I enjoyed, but I don’t write a review. This is always because I didn’t have time, but wanted others to know I enjoyed the book and to support the author. Those little stars are critical for sales.
I grew up mostly in Southern California, but have family ties in the Pacific Northwest and was born in a tiny coastal town in Oregon.
When I was a kid, the bookmobile stopped at the park near my home every Thursday afternoon. Just in time to check out some weekend reads. At the beach on Saturdays afternoons, while the other kids were out surfing, I was camped out on my beach towel reading books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and E.B. White and later — Kahlil Gibran and Erich Segal.
After graduating high school, I studied Communications at Cal State Fullerton. I often petitioned classes outside my major, but in my defense, the course catalogue read like a dream book for a writer’s soul — Short Story, American Literature, Shakespeare on Film, Chaucer.
I left college before graduating, a newly single mom with bills to pay. I headed to Atlanta to take a job selling roll paper to printing companies. My toddler developed appellations such as y‘all and fixin to as we gently rebuilt our life together.
I met and married my sweet husband and we added two more babies and moved 14 times around the country and abroad for my husband’s work. The kids are all grown now living in different cities and we’ve added two darling grandchildren to the fold. We currently split our time between Maryland and Arizona, opposites in every way — climate, scenery, lifestyle and citizenry.
Life is an interesting adventure, and all along the way, I took more electives outside my major, attended dozens of writer’s conferences, and joined writing groups. I volunteered at literary magazines, one of which was founded by Francis Ford Coppola in San Francisco where my job was to read submissions from the slush pile and push along the shining stars to the editors. I wrote rejections to budding writers like myself, always with a little note of encouragement because I knew how it felt to have my stories rejected over and over.
The silver lining — I learned about publishing from the inside out and that it’s not personal, and what editors are looking for has everything to do with themes and what will sell. There were hundreds of stories I read during those years more than worthy of publication, but just didn’t fit the needs of that particular magazine. So, word to the wise writer — never, ever give up. Be steadfast, send your work out and stay strong.
It was in the bay area during the same time that I met my literary agent. I was putting the finishing touches on my debut novel, Restoration, and read a scene aloud at a community center writing class and then stayed after to speak to the agent leading the group. She became my friend and then my editor and eventually my agent. She helped me land a small publisher for both Restoration and The Lies We Keep. After many years, we parted ways, so I’m on my own and the small publisher has since downsized and although they love my work, anything can happen — in this volatile industry the only thing authors can count on for certain is change.
I tell you all of this, because I’m trying to explain how someone like me, who didn’t follow a traditional path can write novels and get published. There are dozens of options for writers to shepherd their work these days, but one thing most published authors have in common is perseverance. I started by placing short pieces and articles with small, respected journals and newspapers. And probably naively, I went about writing my novels in the same determined manner, convinced that one day they would find a good home. I was lucky when they did. But, more than luck, it really was absolute persistence on my part. Oftentimes, the difference between writers who get published and those who don’t is simple, the ones who do — never give up.
Writers who make it to publication also understand and accept that criticism can help define their voice and improve their craft, and the difficult task of revisions and constant rewriting is a critical part of the process.
Write what you know (it’s true) — go out and explore, see the world, live your life and learn from experiences at work and in relationships. Life is an education in and of itself, and anybody who is alive — has a story to tell.
My biggest advice? Tell your story. Someone will buy it. Someday. Somewhere. Somehow.
As for me, I’m always plugging away on my next novel, writing in coffee shops, at the kitchen table, on flights and in hotel rooms — and I’ll be reading, too — at the library (I haven’t seen the inside of a bookmobile in a while!) or in my favorite chair, or at the beach, on my towel while everyone else is out swimming in the sea.