Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I started to write in grade school, but my first serious attempt at a book was because I married a drug addict. I was as poor as I could be, and there were few resources to help me or my children. So I wrote "31 Prayers for the Addict I Love." Writing that devotional helped me realize that I could write a novel, and so I began "A Place Called Grace."
What makes writing your passion?
It's my world. I can make the bad guys lose and the good guys win. I collect interesting characters, and my stories often develop in my head when I'm doing something completely unrelated.
How long have you been writing?
I've loved writing since third grade. I've been a published author since 2015.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
Satisfaction! I know that book helped many people, which was my goal,
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
I have always met scores of interesting people and I teach middle school. I love to mesh people together to make my characters.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
Marketing is not my strength, and I don't enjoy it.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I just take a day off. If I'm not feeling one story, there's always another to work on.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
Just keep on writing. Try contests or different genres. I have a writing group that meets every Monday, and I'm in Mobile Writer's Guild, which teaches me a lot. I'm always looking for ways to make my stories more entertaining. I'm a huge fan of classic movies, and I pay attention to what makes them great.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
Write that book. Finish it, and move on to the next one. You have time.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
I only had one awful review. It was obvious the woman never read my book, so I don't know what her review was based on. I like to reread my good reviews because I want everybody to feel that way about my stories.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
I love good reviews. Often my friends who are teachers will tell me they love my books and that is worth a million dollars to me! Also, a former pastor who was a great and intelligent man left me an excellent review. I'll treasure that one forever.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
I always use my life because it's crazy. I teach middle school. If you want drama, it's there.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
My protagonists are strong females. I love being strong, and I hate to be weak.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
Since most people buy a book based on the cover and the blurb, I'd say they're equally vital. I keep an eye out for great covers, too.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I need to work on that more. I should be collecting emails and building a list, but I mainly communicate through my website. I need to be more consistent with my posts, too.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
I love attention! It makes me so happy when somebody compliments one of my stories.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Charles Dickens used his life to tell great stories, and he wrote "A Christmas Carol." I have always loved Christmas and ghost stories and he found a way to combine the two. He has great villains, too. Most of all, he shares my abject hatred of seeing a child suffer.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I think there are some authors who are so overrated. I'd like to be that big, but I want it to be because my stories are that entertaining, not because I'm the flavor of the month.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
No, there are plenty of new stories that still need to be told.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
Karen Kingsbury because I think her stories are wonderful.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
They are obviously unhappy. Jesus loves you. Find something productive to do with all that energy.
What would you say to your readers?
Thank you so much for reading my stories. I hope to entertain you for years to come.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I was raised in Wisconsin, but I hate the cold. I now live on the beautiful Gulf Coast of Mississippi. I teach middle school in a Title One school, and it's never boring. My first love is English, but I currently teach history, which has its ups and downs. I am married to a wonderful, sweet man. I have a talented son, who is my favorite preacher, though he lives in South Carolina. His wife is also a teacher, and she's a sweetie. I have two creative, beautiful daughters who are college age, but are still working on their future. We have four dogs, all rescues, and they're spoiled rotten.
What is your day job if you have one?
I'm an eighth grade history teacher.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love to read and write. I enjoy old movies and playing with my dogs. My husband and I like to go walking on the beach, which is only three blocks away, but I won't go outside if it's cold.
Did you have a happy childhood?
I had an interesting childhood. I was the oldest of five. One year after Mom had me, she had my little sister. Jean was born with Spina Bifida, and had MANY health problems. A year and a half after that, Mom had twins--hyperactive boys that got up at 5 am no matter what. Then two years later she had my baby brother, who had a learning disability in a day when nobody knew what to do about it. My father had a hereditary mental illness, so our house was often chaotic. That being said, Mom knew how to make things special without spending any money (we had no extra). I remember many cookouts, playing on the swing set, and digging for gold in the sand box. When we could scare up a couple of quarters, we went swimming at the park a few blocks away. Our neighborhood was full of boys, so Jean and I played basketball and GI Joe's instead of more girlish pursuits. Mom is one of eleven kids, so about twice a month we'd go up North to Grandma's and have an instant crowd of playmates and the best cooking imaginable. I have always hated the cold, so the weather in Milwaukee was not my favorite. I did enjoy a good snowball fight though.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
I had a friend who could draw. He illustrated my first book in third grade.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
Yes, I have several books in the works right now.
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
Teachers should not bear the brunt of criticism. Congressmen who have never been in a public school decide how education is evaluated. Administrators are not even considered though they set the tone for the schools. There needs to be a lot more training for the people who run things because I've seen many who couldn't keep a lemonade stand open in charge of the future of hundreds and hundreds of students.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
That people really would love each other and wouldn't be afraid to show it.
If somebody lies, their nose would really grow like Pinocchio.
People who abuse children would have whatever body part they're using to abuse that child fall off.
What is your favorite music?
I'm a rocker and a Christian, so I love groups like Skillet and Disciple. I also listen to Christian Contemporary, Country, Classic Rock, and Blues. I love any song by Randy Travis, Travis Tritt, or Elton John--just because their voices are so pretty. I'd never want to cross Carrie Underwood.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I know that I'm weird, but it doesn't stop me from doing the things I love.