Frequently Asked Questions
Like most authors, I’m asked a lot of questions; questions from students, teachers and regular folks; questions about my journey into authorship, my personal life and about my books. Here are some of the most common questions and my not-so-common answers. What was your favorite book as a child?  It was most assuredly, Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell. I read it many times and dreamed that one day I would have a horse of my own. Unfortunately, that dream never came true. Did you know when you were a child that you wanted to be a writer?  Absolutely not. In fact, if you had told me when I was in school or even college that one day I would write a book, I would have called you crazy. I loved to read and was seldom without a book in my hand. But, it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I was inspired to write. What was your first book?  My first book was, If I Were A Road. After it came out, everyone teased me about its strange title. They kept giving me ideas for what I should be next. So, I became a table. Fortunately the publisher agreed so my second book became, If I Were A Table. Where did you get the idea to write a book called, If I Were A Road?  My neighbor in Ohio was a teacher. She had just given her students an assignment to write a story answering the question, ”If you were a road what kind would you be?”  She showed me the wonderful stories they had written. It was at the same time that I wanted to write a book that would help teachers help students be more creative. I was so impressed with the stories her students had written that I decided her classroom assignment would make a wonderful book. She agreed that I should do it so I did. How did you feel the first time you saw the book, If I Were A Road? Terrified! Thrilled! Excited! All rolled into one. I think the first words out of my mouth, when I opened the box and held the book for the first time, were, “maybe I should have used a pen name.” Where do you get your ideas? Here, there and everywhere. I know that’s not a fair answer but it’s the truth. Sometimes ideas come from a sound or something I’ve watched on television; sometimes from something I read or a conversation I’ve had with someone else. Sometimes the idea comes from a problem I’m having that I need to solve. I bought a piece of jewerly that is an alligator whose mouth opens and inside sits a little bird. I wear that pin to all my school visits and tell students that my next Arlie book will be about that bird. I haven’t written it yet, but one day I’ll wake up with the inspiration to finish that story, inspired by a piece of Jewerly. So now you understand why I said that my ideas come from here, there and everywhere. How long does it take to write a book? Now that is a difficult question. The answer is different for everything I’ve written. Some books only took a few months. But others took years. That doesn’t mean I worked on the book everyday. It means that from the first idea to actually finishing the manuscript, getting it to the publisher and waiting for it to be turned into a book, took years. Writing the book is the easy part. After it’s finished, then you have to find a publisher who could take up to a year or two to print it and bind it into a book. So it takes a very long time. What is the hardest thing about being a writer? The hardest thing is dealing with the rejection letters received while trying to find a publisher for a certain manuscript. All writers get them. And you never get used to it. The best thing to do when one comes in is to immediately send the manuscript out again. One time, I waited 4 days to open what I thought was a rejection. I have to be in the mood to get rejected. When I finally opened it, it wasn’t a rejection!  Where do you write? For years I wrote in my basement office, in Ohio, surrounded by bookcases and all manner of basement junk, with nary a window in sight. Now, I’m fortunate to be able to write in a new basement office, in the mountains of North Carolina, gazing out of huge windows to vistas across the valley, in the South Mountains. What inspires you?  I’m inspired by nature, the mountains especially, and water. Staring out at the mountains across the valley makes me feel as if I can reach out and touch my dreams.The quiet of the wind in the pines and the wildlife that scampers through my yard helps me think. I love to sit and stare at the ocean or a lake and walk on the beach. It calms me and opens my mind to my imagination. Music also inspires me. Listening to symphony music seems to open up my creativity in a strange way. It’s hard to explain. I’m also inspired by other authors, especially my three critique buddies; three women who are writer’s just like me. They help me to believe in my story ideas and encourage me as I write them. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?  1. Study the craft of writing. Being a good writer is just a start. 2. Find a critique group that will tell you the truth about your work and support and help you grow in your craft. 3. Study the art of genre format. Every genre has a format that may involve word count, chapter count and     even page count. Each genre has its own format.  4. Study the art of submission. Every publishing house has a submission form. Get it and follow it to the letter.     You want your submission package to look professional, as if you’ve been published before. That means      including a proper cover or query letter, synopsis and/or book proposal. 5. Become social network savy. You need to be hooked up to a website, blog, twitter, etc. Having a great     manuscript is no longer enough. Author’s have always been expected to market their books, but now more     than ever via social networks. 6. Become a member of your genre related professional writer’s organization/s. I see you’ve self-published as well as been with traditional publishers. Why? It was never my intention to self-publish, but after seven years of rejection with Arlie the Alligator, a story/song manuscript that I believed in, I decided to try it. Today, with so many self-publishing avenues to choose from plus the ability to market via the Internet, self-publishing is easier than ever. What advice do you have for others considering self-publishing? 1. Hire an editor to check for the basics; grammar, punctuation and spelling, one who will also critique your story arc, character development and the over-all story concept. 2. Hire someone to format your book for printing and/or an ebook. If it’s not done right, you will not be happy nor will your readers, with the end result. 3. Become social media savvy. Putting a book on is not enough. It takes a lot of work to drive folks, not just your relatives and friends, to the site to purchase your wonderful book. What is the biggest misconception writers have about becoming a published author? That once you’re published you’ll make a lot of money, the publisher will send you on a publicity tour and do the marketing and it will be easier to get additional books published. Why do you write in more than one genre? Wouldn’t you be more successful if you stuck to just one? I’ll answer the second part first. I suppose I might be more successful if I stuck to one genre. But that’s not the way my mind works. When I get an idea I go with it. That’s who I am and how I function. I wouldn’t be happy writing only one kind of story. Why do you write? What do you hope readers will take from your work? I write because I have to write. That’s who I am. I hope readers will be entertained, inspired and see purpose in the work I produce. Some things are written to enjoy, some share ideas and activities for learning and some are meant to inspire.
© 2022