What is/are the story(ies) behind your book(s)?
When I started writing my first book, Blogging is Murder, I was at a crossroad. My family and I had just moved cross country, our only child was starting college, and I was tired of teaching English to college students who didn’t care about what I had to offer. I’d started a blog and was working night and day to reach the right people. At the time, I was still teaching online college courses but hoped to phase that out once I grew my online business. I needed a creative outlet, and the sooner the better. I was overworked, underpaid and exhausted.
So, when my daughter recommended I participate in NaNoWriMo with her, I thought she was nuts. I didn’t have time to write for pleasure! I barely had time to sleep! But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Throwing logic out the window, I signed up and fell in love with creative writing. I’d previously avoided creative writing like the plague because I didn’t think I had that magical ability in me. But I discovered I was wrong. And I’m still discovering that. A year later, I decided to rework the plot and publish my first attempt. Before that book was completed, I already had the story outlined for the next book in the series, A Time to Kiln. After that came Murder Over Medium, and the next one in the series, Libel to Kill, will be released at the end of May 2019.
How do you deal with creative block?
I’ve had a great number of creative blocks while writing my latest book. It’s taken me over a year to write it because of them. Murder Over Medium had been so easy to write, so I thought, “Hey, I’ve got this authoring thing down.” Nope. I spent a lot of time digging deep into what it means to me to be an author. Heck, to be a creative person.
For each novel, I have a “murder notebook” where I sketch out ideas, characters, etc. With Libel to Kill, I’ve got three murder notebooks! Journaling through my resistance and creative blocks seems to be the best way for me to work through them. Trying to bust through by forcing myself to sit down and write regardless, never works for me. I have to coax my creativity out of myself as lovingly as possible. As long as I fight it and worry about being blocked, the worse it gets and the longer it lasts. Total surrender to what my Muse has to tell me is the only way out of any type of writing block, in my experience.
Do you have any creativity tricks?
My “tricks” involve getting my mindset in a place where I’m free to write whatever wants to be written. I write best when I have a very basic outline and fill it in as I write. I never know exactly what will happen next, which gives me a thrill! If I attempt to develop a detailed outline, my brain and creativity rebel. To get into a creative mindset, I meditate and practice yoga each morning, journal a ton, use aromatherapy, visualization, and even use Oracle cards and intuitive art when I feel stuck in a creative rut. Tapping into my intuition is to fill myself with creativity. When I get “too busy” to do these things, my creativity dries up. I believe the more deeply I know myself, the more adept I am at telling the story I’m meant to share with the world.
What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The most surprising thing was that my creative writing process closely follows my academic writing process. Ten years ago, I completed a graduate degree in English and was groomed by my mentor to move onto a post-graduate degree. At that time, my dream job was to write literary theory and criticism–a far cry from creative writing. But when I started writing mysteries a few years later, I realized my process is similar no matter what I’m writing. There’s a good deal of research required for both and as I write, I gain more clarity and insight into the topic. In the case of fiction, that’s plot and character development. When this concept dawned on me, I was truly astonished! Relief quickly followed because this realization allowed me to settle into a new author career using the writing process and techniques I was already confident in.
What are your plans for future books?
After Libel to Kill is published, I’ll start working on a brand-new series. Actually, the first book is already written, though there’s still lots of revision and editing to do. This series will be less “cozy” and will tackle some larger societal issues, things like isolation and conventions that hold us back from reaching our full potential.
The protagonist in the new Reluctant Psychic Mystery Series, Willow Hibbens, moves back to her hometown after the death of her husband; the same hometown where she was bullied growing up. Willow comes from a long line of mystics with powers she’s adamantly suppressed. Until now. Barely settled in a place she doesn’t want to be, she begins having prophetic dreams and hearing the voice of her best friend…who was murdered twenty-six years earlier. In the first book, Shadows of Doubt, we watch as Willow grudgingly embraces who she was always meant to be while serving those who need her most–the dead.
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