Hi there, I’m glad to be here. I was born in Midland, Texas, though I moved to the small town of Flushing, Michigan, when I was 10. I grew up and went to high school there. Then I married my husband 21 years ago, and we now have 2 daughters. We live in small farm town Fisk (population 326) in southeast Missouri with our three rescue dogs and my horse, Athena, who’s pictured on the front of my Amazon best-selling book Keeping a Backyard Horse.
When did you start writing for publication, what made you decide to put your work out there to be read by others?
My first novel, Once Upon a Western Way was actually written while I was still in high school, though it’s been reworked and edited many times since. But my classmates had a great time reading what I’d come up with the previous night (shh, the teachers aren’t supposed to know we passed these around in class!) and everyone mentioned how I should try to publish it. I solicited publishers on my own (back when some did still accept unsolicited manuscripts), and I even hired an agent for a year when publishers would no longer accept books other than from a literary agent. It wasn’t until 2012 that I became aware of the self-publishing trend, and after that, it’s all history!
Who or what has helped you become a better writer over time?
I have to give kudos to several people here, first to my beta readers (and authors) Claire Plaisted, Sharon K. Miller, and Gary Seaton. All three have offered wonderful advice and helped my writing to become as good as I can get. Also, to writer’s group Scribophile (www.scribophile.com) where you earn karma points by reading and critiquing the work of others until you get enough karma to post work of your own for critique. It’s a wonderful place that all writer’s should check in to. Membership is free, although if you pay for membership you get a few more perks.
How has writing and self-publishing changed the way you read?
It’s funny you should ask that. I don’t read as much as I used to (never seem to find the time, curse that social media that sucks in so much of my daily minutes…!) but when I do read, it seems that I look at the book formatting a lot more than I used to. Or, at least I notice it now. You know, that occasional ‘someone stuck an extra line space in here’ or whatever. I’ve been called Grammar Nazi numerous times and I guess that goes for formatting as well. I’m of the opinion that as indie authors, we can compete with big name authors only by putting out the most professional looking product
What is that one moment you have had as a writer that made you realize you were actually a real author?
I published Once Upon a Western Way on Smashwords in April of 2012. But it seemed as if I was only partly an author, since it wasn’t available in print. I think that moment came when I got my first print book in my hands. That was Keeping a Backyard Horse, just about one year ago now. I’ll never forget that moment of opening the box and seeing the books inside with my name on them.
Tell us about your favorite memory related to reading or writing?
It’s not necessarily related to writing specifically, but it was in English class. ;p In 8th grade we were having trouble remembering prepositional phrases. So Mrs. Sharp, the teacher, began to throw chalkboard erasers around the room. Not purposely at people but I think she came close to boinking one or two. Wherever those erasers landed, she would say it’s under her, or over his head, and so on. As long as I live, I’ll never forget a prepositional phrase!
When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
I have the first book of my new series out, and I think at the moment I have 6 more books outlined, and ideas for several more, so I think I have enough to keep me busy for a while. I’m disabled from cancer now, so I get to spend my time doing something that I love to do. Couldn’t ask more than that.
What are the hardest and easiest parts about being a writer?
For me, the hardest parts are definitely editing and marketing. I hate to edit so much that I even invented a new word for it: fediting (we used to make up curse words like this when our kids were small, so you get the idea behind that one!), and it seems like I always end up rewriting when I edit, though I’ve hopefully developed a routine with it now after 5 books published. And marketing is just tough for anyone, I think. I’m not much of a social butterfly anyway, and I’m certainly no salesperson! I hate it when I go to the auto parts store for X and they try to tell me that I need to buy Y to go along with it. You know, if I wanted Y I would have picked it up already (and yes, I worked in auto parts for almost 2 years and am guilty of doing this myself, but only when they made me!). But the other side of that coin is if you don’t market, you won’t see any sales.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My newest book is called Fang and Claw, and it’s out in paperback now. The e-book is releasing October 4, 2015. The idea for this series came to me in that twilight moment between sleep and wakefulness, and I think it was after a marathon of Supernatural season DVDs! When the inspiration struck, I had the ideas for the first 3 books. Fang and Claw is a crime/paranormal story and the first book in The Undead Unit series. It’s a bit of a future world where Immortal beings (Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, and more) are known and accepted (at least as much as any minority) by society. They live and work among humans, after taking an Oath not to harm any humans and to abide by all their laws. The Dallas police department has set up and elite new squad dedicated to solving crimes among these Immortals. Lieutenant Lacey Anderson is a Vampire whose entire family was massacred by a pack of Werewolves. Detective Colton Scarber, assigned as Lacey’s partner and second in command, is a descendant of that pack, but Lacey isn’t aware of this from the start. When she finds out the Colton was keeping this to himself, it threatens the fragile beginning of their partnership. And in the meantime, a mysterious suspect and strange physical evidence leads them to solve a case spanning decades, and leaves Lacey with no other choice than to rely on her enemy when her very life is in danger!
And for those of us who are thinking of reading your book, could you tell us what to expect?
One of my beta readers told me after reading Fang in full, “You’re going to be the next JD Robb.” Now, I don’t really care about fame or fortune, but if in being like JD Robb I can leave my readers with the same sense of satisfaction at the end of reading my books as I get at the end of reading hers, then I have to say “Mission accomplished.” That’s all I truly want, for my readers to enjoy the story. After all, I don’t write for myself, though I love to do it. I write for my readers!
Can you tell us anything about any of your current work(s)-in-progress?
Right now I’m about 15,000 words into Souls of the Reaper, which is book two in The Undead Unit series. It involves a rogue Reaper who is stealing the souls of people who are not yet due to pass on. His victims then run around town with no soul or inhibition (you can imagine the havoc this would cause!), and the Reaper himself finds it difficult to hold onto that much extra energy. So he grows more and more psychotic with each steal. It’s up to Lacey and Colton to find him, and stop him, before he graduates to something even worse than stealing souls: stealing lives!
What about your previous books, tell us a bit about them and how we can get our hands on them.
My three other books are Once Upon a Western Way, a dystopian romantic fantasy set in a time of handsome princes, beautiful princesses, an evil foe, and an epic quest. In the end, you’ll never guess who the bad guy really is! No spoilers though!
Kindle Edition, Paperback or for other retailers or formats, visit Metamorph Publishing.
Keeping a Backyard Horse is a simple and fun horse care guide aimed for the average horse owner who knows nothing of how to care for these animals (maybe the parent whose daughter says daddy, I want a horse!). The guide is laid out with simple terms, with a glossary included defining horse terms that cannot be avoided. Best of all, it’s narrated by my horse, Athena, who is also featured on the cover!
Kindle Edition, Paperback or for other retailers or formats, visit Metamorph Publishing.
And last of all, My Butterfly Cancer is my memoir. It’s an uncensored look at a year in the life of a cancer patient. This book is purposely short (after all, it was just a year) and purposely unedited to an extent; I wanted reader to be able to see and feel just how poorly my brain function was; this was not even a full year post-chemotherapy when I wrote it, and much of the information came from my family members, and there were large chunks of time during treatment that I’m still (blissfully?) unaware of. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book goes to cancer charities.
Kindle Edition, Paperback or for other retailers or formats, visit Metamorph Publishing
What do you like to see from your fans, followers, readers, and supporters on your social media sites?
I love it for fans and readers to engage with me after reading my books. One reader even messaged me while she was reading, to discuss questions she had as she made her way through the book. It pleased her as well, because she said she’d never had the opportunity to talk with an author about a story and have the chance to ask all the questions that come to her while she’s reading.
Where can we find you to tell you how amazing we think you are?
And finally… If you were ever stranded on a deserted island what would you miss and which three books would you take along?
If I were stranded on an island I would miss a bathroom! LOL My dad always wants me to go camping. IN A TENT! I don’t mind sleeping on the ground in a tent, but please don’t take away an actual REAL bathroom with a functioning toilet! I don’t think I’d survive! Ha, ha!
My three books if stranded on a desert island? I can’t name three, just let me have my phone! Lol No, really, um…
1) The Black Stallion and Satan,
2) The Mammoth Hunters (Clan of the Cave Bear Series), and
3) Anything by Kay Hooper out of the Special Crimes Unit series!
Thanks again, Markie. I wish you the best of luck on your forthcoming release.!