How did you know you wanted to be an author?: It wasn’t a desire to be an author, but an enjoyment of creating stories and the need to write to produce the papers required in school beginning in the elementary grades and continuing through graduate school. I have saved most of my papers, stories, articles, and various responses over a lifetime. The novels came later when I wanted to write stories with characters created for specific individuals in remembrance of special events, times, experiences. Though I tried to get these books published over the years, I only received letters of rejection and tucked them away. I never found a publisher until after retirement from a 42-year teaching career.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?: If you have a story in your head, write it. Don’t worry about anything other than getting it down – on paper or a computer. Don’t worry about evaluating it. The only thing that counts is that your story gets written. Your focus should be your writings. For me, that is the number one focus of an author. It’s also important to accept that not all authoring is about writing stories. For some, it’s life’s story – journal or diary, memoirs, recording the events of life’s experiences – people, events, dreams, ideas. For some it’s a research project or a dream project. Whatever – write it. That’s what authors do.
Do you have any writing rituals or practices?: I have no rituals that I know of. Most of my writing is the sequential writing of the story. Until my last story, all was written in spiral notebooks on the right hand page only. I started at the beginning of the story and wrote it as it came to mind. As long as the story kept flowing, I kept writing. When the flow stopped, I put it down and picked it up later. Once the story was finished. I started a series of readings. Each reading’s edits were done in the margins. When larger, a carrot marked the location with a number in sequence and the left-hand page was used for edit add-ons. When satisfied, I typed it into a word document, then continued to edit in the computer. When finished. I made a first manuscript copy, printed on single-sided pages, and bound into a manuscript document. I designed my own covers and interior layouts, added to the bound manuscript until I had my book in manuscript form. Then I continued to read and edit and fine tune the manuscript as much as I needed until I felt it was done. At that point, all original materials went into a file box and the final clean manuscript, printed two-sided, went on a book shelf. My work was not published until twenty years after that point, after I had retired from a 42-year teaching career. Only the last book, written twenty-five years later was done on the computer, beginning to end, then sent to the publisher and released three weeks later.
What message do you want readers to remember?: My work is written as I want it to be written. I do not follow formulas. I have shared it in the process for others, whom I know, to share their reactions and for historians to correct or comment on questionable accuracy. All that is published to date is historic fiction and it is critical that the history be real. I have unpublished work that is just story and intend to get to it next. Even so, it will be done in a manner that feels right for it. It is important to me that readers remember that they have stepped into another’s life and spent time with that person and, hopefully, enjoyed a friendship and the shared journey, and, perhaps, developed a fondness for that person and might reflect on the experience from time to time. For aspiring authors and those who haven’t yet decided if they want to write, it is important that whatever their choice, they allow that their writing is true to themselves. If critics contribute useful criticism and it’s helpful, use it. But do not hesitate to ignore that which goes against the grain and does not feel right. Be true to yourself and your work as you see it.
How can fans get in contact with you?: I can be reached by email through the contact page on the books’ website www.acrossthevalleytodarkness.com.