I‘m a devoted wife and mother, writer, and amateur mapmaker. Born in Pensacola, Florida, I grew up in California, accompanied by seven siblings, and surrounded by horses, real cowboys, and the occasional rattlesnake. I’ve always been drawn to helping others, a trait that began, to my mother’s horror, with bringing home swallow chicks stricken from their nests. My professional background includes lay minister, journalist, and infant massage instructor with at-risk mothers and babies. I studied Creative Writing and Literature at the University of California, Santa Cruz and Stanford University, and am a member of SCBWI, IBPA, NWA, and VFA. I live with my husband and son in a Carmel cottage old enough to make you sneeze. The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman is my debut novel.
What inspires you to write?
The desire to understand who I am–who we are–and to forge tangible relations to spiritual mysteries. Actually, I’ve had a pretty interesting life, beginning with being one of eight children in a pretty messed up family. This led to a lot of heartache, loneliness, and feelings of “not belonging.” I spent twenty years writing in journals and experimenting with poetry and fiction as therapy. The healing really deepened when my husband and I adopted a baby with special needs. In spite of his difficulties, our son has been the most kindhearted, courageous, and bright child I have ever known. He has been teaching me so much. Especially, he is teaching me not to judge people by appearances, and to forgive others for having hurting me. In writing MOOJIE LITTLEMAN, I wanted to put some of our son’s life lessons together with mine to make a story that would inspire and encourage other folks dealing with difficult challenges.
Tell us about your writing process.
For better or for worse, I’m a “pantster.” I worked on MOOJIE LITTLEMAN for nearly ten years, letting the characters pretty much run a mutiny before I took over the ship, which I’ve discovered is a pretty painful way to go about novel writing. I relied on the sage script writing advice in SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder to fit the narrative into cohesive storytelling arcs. Since I work from a strong visual and auditory sense, I think the book will translate to film pretty easily.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk with them, or they to me, as much as they talk to each other. It’s uncanny how I, the writer, become the observer in the world of my own creating. So often, the characters really crack me up. They surprise me. Really, it’s like I’m eavesdropping on someone in another part of the world. someone I’ve never met, but am given the privilege of entering their soul-space, or their mind, and actually somehow seeing and feeling through this remote (but close) point of view.
Who are your favorite authors?
I find it difficult to tear myself away from Gabriel García Marquez, J.P. Donleavy, Salman Rushdie, Rudyard Kipling, and some of Virginia Wolf and Anais Nin.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I finished my upcoming novel, I decided to publish without an agent. Over the course of a year, I was offered three contracts, none of which met the industry standards given in the SCBWI Manual for Writers. Since I’m not computer-savvy, and know little about self-publishing, I was reluctant to forge ahead on my own, not knowing how to gauge the wide range of costs and services offered to writers.
Around that time, I discovered award-winning Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Inc. in Deadwood, Oregon, by researching the origins of one of my favorite books. Publisher Nancy Cleary has been in business since 1998, publishing books traditionally and also pioneering a unique program to assist independent writers. I contacted several of her authors, and they overwhelmingly recommended working with her. After the initial consultation with Cleary, I knew she was exceptional, and I knew that I wanted to go the independent route. For a reasonable fee, she has walked me through the publishing process, taking care of everything from copyright registration, book packaging, creating a publishing imprint, opening an account for international distribution with Ingram, and making the book available on eBooks for every device. She conferred on a marketing plan, promotion and pitching, as well as future avenues of revenue from my book including speaking, private-labeling, licensing, and foreign rights. Cleary directed me on sending advance review copies, literary contests, and more. Her expertise has been absolutely invaluable, her enthusiasm and support, priceless.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I love that we are saving trees by publishing digitally. I still prefer to read from the printed page, and am excited that publishers are now using soy inks and recycled paper to produce books. Let’s hope IngramSpark and CreateSpace will be enviromentally-savvy soon.
Authors are regaining their power through self-publishing. We can keep our rights, make their own cover and design choices, and we alone decide to start or stop production. Self-publishing a viable, sellable book, with a solid marketing and promotion plan, is a daunting task. And not all companies who work with self-publishers are equal. The great thing is we get to create our own team, but we must be thorough, do our homework, and take the time to choose wisely.
What genres do you write?
YA, visionary, magical realism
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Print, Audiobook