Tell us about your genre. How did you come to choose it? Why does it appeal to you?
The Thing Is is a bit of a departure for me in that my first novel, In Transit, was a suspenseful woman-in-jeopardy story about a female rookie NYPD cop, and then I wrote, Cold Comfort, a more heartwarming-style romance about a workaholic photojournalist. Two, distinct points-of-view anchor The Thing Is: that of a blocked romance writer who has become entrenched in grief, and a crafty, sometimes very devious, "Spirit Guide Dog" who believes his mission is to help the writer learn how to live and love again.
After my other books were published, some of my closest friends and loyal readers were disappointed there wasn't a dog, or even the mention of a dog, in either of the stories. They knew how much I love my dog(s), as I've been fortunate to share the past 30-plus years of my life with three Yorkshire terriers, one at a time. Therefore, I decided to make my next novel more dog-centric. I knew the grief part of the novel would be heavy. Therefore, I decided that Prozac—a therapy dog who serves as a transformative, angelic-like force in the life of a deeply traumatized person—could bring a sense of levity and humor to an otherwise very sad story.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
In each of my books and stories, I always start with character and the voice of that character—that's how stories begin to germinate for me. The most challenging part is trying to find out just who a character is and what he/she wants. That can take lots and lots of writing--and rewriting and throwing out pages upon pages--as if I'm trying to write my way into the mystery of whoever is inhabiting my imagination and the story they're trying to tell.
When and where do you do your writing?
I write seven days a week, at least two hours a day. Some days, I get my work done right away, after I wake up. But not being a morning person, sometimes I conquer that goal later in the day. The object is to keep that commitment--to write and keep my writing muscles toned and primed--no matter what. I've found that taking a hard line with myself--sometimes even setting a timer and not getting up from the desk and no email/texts/internet access--works best. That discipline often leads to my working much longer than those two hours. Creativity breeds creativity! I like to write at a desktop computer. My desk is in a corner, facing two walls, so I have no distractions.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
I've learned that promotion is hard—VERY hard and time consuming! There are so many books being published these days--books by repeated bestselling novelists and celebrities at the big houses, really good books being published by very good small presses and even great self-published books. That makes it even harder for a lesser known to have her work stand out in super-crowded field. But I've also learned that promotion is a numbers game—you really have to do your homework and saturate the market for exposure and hope that at least 10% of your efforts lead to avenues of readership.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
I think I'm most proud of the fact that I've stayed the course with my writing through many obstacles and difficult challenges in my personal life and in my professional writing life. I've been writing for many, many years, and it is now a necessary daily routine for which I am very grateful. However, that's not to say I like writing—I don't. The process of writing--thinking clearly, grappling with ideas--is very hard. But I love having written. It's extremely gratifying to be able to read something you've created from personal thoughts and feelings swirling inside your heart and soul (and head) that have been channeled into something tangible that perhaps holds universal appeal.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Unfortunately, I'm not a great dinner companion, as I'm not a stellar conversationalist. But because I'm a very curious person, by nature, I'm pretty good at asking questions. Therefore, if I had dinner with Jane Austen, I'd ask her about her process and what she makes of the longevity and lasting appeal of her work. I'd also be curious to know who would be some of her favorite contemporary writers.
Having dinner with Debbie Macomber would also be a real treat, as I think she'd be really fun to hang out with--she'd certainly be able to carry the conversation--but I think I would be more inclined to share recipes, talk cooking and share stories about our dogs!
Learn more about THE THING IS at http://www.thethingis-thenovel.blogspot.com to learn more
THE THING IS: a woman in grief...a therapy dog named Prozac to the rescue!