My law career with game developers and various law firms establishes the groundwork for the Marjorie Gardens Mysteries series and the Digital Age Cozy™. In the video games industry, my list of published credits includes Overlord by Triumph Studios, Saint’s Row by THQ, Terminator Salvation by Warner, and Gears of War and Unreal Tournament 3 by Epic Games. I’m listed on IMDB http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4231029/.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? So proud of my very first piece of shared fiction—a Nancy Drew story I’d written for an assignment in seventh grade. Impressed, my teacher gave me an A on it. Years later, I visited the school because my sister attended, and I ran into that very teacher. She remembered me and recalled the story I wrote all those years ago. She asked if I was still writing and stated she was looking forward to my books. Back then, I was attending college and hadn’t published anything—but somewhat prophetic, she felt there would be more stories in my future. That feeling of having someone believe in me and my creativity gave me the confidence to keep writing.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Wait… my days should be structured? LOL! Honestly, I’m sure that works for a lot of writers—and I’ve tried so hard to be organized—but I’ve accepted the chaos and impromptu moments that make up my life as a writer.Usually, I crawl out from underneath my Chinese Crested, Oscar, to get out of bed. Then I bypass the upstairs bathroom, because either my husband or daughter is already in the shower. I get downstairs for that liquid boost of caffeine, either black tea with milk or coffee (no sugar in either, please) and boot up the laptop. The day’s headlines come from the news on TV and blend with the hustle-and-bustle of family getting ready for school and work. Oscar scrambles for his own bed and I cover the naked (hairless) guy up. Then, I’m off to check/respond to emails, Facebook posts, and begin my hour or two of marketing and self-promotion.Another constant is to have my internet radio station on. Depending on the day, and the particular scene or chapter I’m writing, I’ll listen to Smooth Jazz, Country, instrumental Classic, or Rock music. After kisses and the front door closing, I’m ready to begin. But, wait!—Oscar’s gotten out of his bed, has shaken the kinks out of bones, and has climbed back in and whines. I have to get up and cover him again. While I’m up, I need a refill on that coffee or tea. Once my mug is hot in my hands, I return to my snug corner in the living room and sit behind the laptop again—now, I’m ready to start writing.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?Who doesn’t! And it’s so frustrating. My muse comes from within. I have the ideas, and after research, I start on the story. So, when that nasty writer’s block comes around, it tends make me doubt my abilities—can’t find the right words, lose sight of the plot, forget which character was supposed to do what, or doubt having that character entirely which will have a dynamic effect on the story. What am I doing! But, I’ve gotten used to those moments and can sense when they’re trying to sneak up on me. Here’s a tip I’ve adapted. As soon as I find myself in any of those experiences, I play a puzzle game I enjoy. In the past, I’ve played the classic Solitaire and Bejeweled. Now, I play other drop-item puzzles or Farmville2. I stick with something that doesn’t take much time, because subconsciously I’m working out the problem to my story.I’m matching up puzzle pieces visually, mapping out my win. In the background, my brain is doing the same. Click-click-click of my mouse on a game, and I minimize the screen and look at my work again. Eyes refreshed from images, I can now focus on letters and words. Works for me!
4. Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story? Truthfully, I had to look up the word “pantser”. LOL. I guess I’m a little of both. I start with an idea, a basic plot concept. Then I write out scenes that could achieve what I ultimately want to occur in the book. From there, it’s more plotting. I dig deeper into the elements that will become part of the story—characters, names, setting, evidence, weapons, etc. Afterward, it’s time for research. Once I have the bulk of that organized and begin putting the pieces together, I’m pretty much a pantser after that. It’s all up to the characters how the story unfolds.
5. Are you traditionally or self-published? I’m both.
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors?I’ve been in the publishing queue since 2000—writing, learning, and honing my craft long before then—and it has been a roller coaster ride. My first book was released with a publisher who has since been revealed as a POD publisher. Of course, the company refused to acknowledge itself as such, and needless to say, I never renewed my contract.From then, I received offers from literary agents who turned out to be scam artists! I never paid them, so naturally they fell by the wayside. Done with the up-and-down spiral of emotions, feeling accomplished then feeling a fool, I began self-publishing. That wasn’t much easier. I realized the amount of promotion, marketing, and starting capital required far exceeded what I could devote to it—Self Publishing is a Business, folks! That’s the one thing I can impress upon other authors. If you’re like me and prefer to be creative rather than run a small business, then try your hand at self-publishing for the learning experience alone. Then get back to sending out those queries!Everything is about learning and utilizing your knowledge. That’s how we grow as writers. We are no exception. Learn the business, have the ups and downs, and keep going. After thirty years of writing (yes, 30!) I’m happy to be with Limitless Publishing.
7. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I’ve truly enjoyed the experience so far and look forward to having better moments. At this point, I’d say my current highlight is having my book carried in a brick and mortar store in Amsterdam—and meeting so many talented writers with Limitless.
8. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience?Dial QR for Murder is the first Digital Age Cozy™ in the Marjorie Gardens Mystery series. So, what the heck is a digital age cozy? It’s a new style of mystery based on the motto, “Cozies can be more than knitting grannies, cats, and cookbooks!” Fans of the genre are attuned to the usual semantics—Plain Jane gets involved with solving a murder, with a little help from Busy-Body Betty, and despite a firm warning to stay out Keystone Cop’s investigation, Plain Jane solves the mystery anyway. In the Marjorie Gardens Mystery series, I’ve got all that—it wouldn’t be a cozy without it!—but I’ve taken the writing and crime plots up a notch with side characters who have some knowledge of technology. Crime scenes and murder weapons utilize digital products, gadgets and gizmos. The stakes raise when the mafia uses Marjorie Gardens’ blog to seek out she really is—hackers are on her trail!—and in between, there are murders to solve. Readers will definitely want to check out the video on the Digital Age Cozy here:
9. What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)Technology evolves, and I’m in the same boat as many. Still trying to grasp the ropes, I have noticed constant pasting of ads on Twitter is extremely annoying. Remember: You aren’t the only writer doing it. When ten to twenty authors are all posting about their books for sale repeatedly throughout the day, followers will suffer from Twitter deafness. Your audience will “mute” you and not see your tweets at all—or worse yet, “unfollow” you. So, what to do?Tweetdeck offers users the feature of scheduling posts, even when offline. I allow several hours between non-identical (that’s important) announcements. This way, I’m not spamming my followers and provide recaps in case anyone missed my tweets.I’m sure some followers have muted me when I first began. Another lesson learned.
10. How long on average does it take you to write a book?I’ve had decades to educate myself on writing, and what I’ve discovered about myself is that I can’t complete a novel in less than a year. I’ll have a first draft of opening chapters in a few months then start searching for a critique partner. With feedback, I’m reviewing what works and what doesn’t—changing things I’ve written or plotted—and revising. After revisions, I then move forward with writing, based on initial feedback, which lights the way ahead. In between, there’s more research on weapons, locations, etc. I have to know if my characters’ actions are feasible or even possible—if so, do my readers believe what I’m telling them. There are various depths of research and believability that must be accounted-for, depending on the story. I have a bachelor’s degree and background in law. A rule of the courtroom in considering if one’s actions in a crime was warranted is to ask: What would the average person in that particular situation do? This is a great way to test your character’s action in a story! With murder mysteries, I meticulously search for the right and accurate details that will make or break the story. I hope I’ve succeeded!
11. Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. This question made me chuckle, because I couldn’t come up with a single idea for the cover! This surprised me, because I’ve self-published in the past and had to do my own.I was able to relay to the design team what the book was about. And key for me was the sense of anonymity my main character had to maintain. Limitless Publishing nailed it—funny enough, I was told this was a difficult cover to create! Whew, it wasn’t just me. J But I so love the book cover, and readers will too.
12. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?Wait…there’s supposed to be spare time in all this? Kidding! I have work experience in the video games industry, and my husband works in IT—our daughter is a Pokemon Queen—so we’re a family of gamers. Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, and Wii on the weekends. I have my quiet time with gardening, aquaponics, and “prepping” usually on Sundays and sprinkled throughout the week. Yes, I’m a prepper. LOL I love doing it and can’t stop. Besides that, I’m reading novels, or searching the web for medical achievements, new advances in technology, or when the next solar flare strikes. J Thanks so much for having me!
Digital Age Cozy Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Digital-Age-Cozy-696837853753494.