# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
Born in California, I retired early from university teaching to focus on writing and travel. I now live half the year in Mexico, and the other half I travel–doing a lot of housesitting and pet care along the way.
I’m an eclectic writer, having published novels, poetry collections, a memoir and a book about teaching. My memoir, CALL IT WONDER: AN ODYSSEY OF LOVE, SEX, SPIRIT & TRAVEL tells a lot of my life story. It’s framed by my husband’s and my decision to live a nomadic life–and woven within it are my adventures with brain surgery, visitations from beloveds who’ve died, and my previous marriage to a woman. It won the Bisexual Book Award in NYC, where I was also (thrillingly!) named Writer of the Year.
My most recent book I co-wrote with Mary Janelle Melvin (under the pen-name Mary-Kate Summers), a French Revolution-era historical romance called REVOLUTIONARY KISS. It was a unique adventure to write with another person in a new-to-me genre. We wrote the book we’d love to read: intriguing, sexy, and filled with an array of striking characters. I did most of my writing during a long-term housesit in Hawaii.
My other novels–FOR THE MAY QUEEN and COMPLEMENTARY COLORS–focus on life transitions of women. They are edgy, humorous and poignant. Currently all of my books are being recorded as audio books by a European company, which will distribute them all over the world. I’m thrilled!
I’ve taught in Japan, China, Thailand, and the U.S.–and I’m still a teacher at heart. In addition to writing, I work as a book editor and writing coach.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Reading and living.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I allow myself to take some downtime so ideas swirl and percolate in my mind and the pages of my journal. Eventually I come back to the computer, writing almost every day for 1-3 hours to keep the momentum of the project going without burning myself out. Before I write I say a little internal meditative pep talk, reminding me that writing is a powerful process, that it’s okay to write “crap”, that I do this because I love it.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
For titles, I write down a full page of possibilities. If one still doesn’t jump out, I go through the book and try to find phrases that resonate. I share my ideas with friends and family to narrow it down.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I follow Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice: “Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own f***ing art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
I wrote a piece about that here: Write that Book: 7 Tips to Get it Done. | elephant journal
# What are your plans for future books?
I’m working on a book about our adventures house/pet-sitting all over the world. Also, a manuscript my mother wrote surfaced 10 years after she died. It was such kismet because I’d just finished co-authoring a historical romance–and that’s the genre of my mom’s manuscript. It takes place in California in 1887. As I read it, I was deeply moved by her intelligence and humor coming alive again, especially since she died of dementia and hadn’t spoken the last year of her life. The book has good bones but needs some work, so I’m revising it and will release it under both our names. It’s a beautiful thing, like co-authoring with my mom.
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I used to be a synchronized swimmer. I see dead people (and they don’t scare me). I have 5 college degrees. From various surgeries, I have a number of scars on my body, and when people ask me about them, I saw I was attacked by a shark because that’s much more interesting.