Q & A
My life is full of family, house, and business in additional to writing. I'm pretty much an open book. What do you want to know? Ask away!
Q: Have you gone on any literary pilgrimages?
A: Two local pilgrimages. I drove down to Mansfield, Missouri to tour the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum and farm. Growing up, I adored the Little House books and so it was definitely a place I wanted to go. I also drove to the birthplace of Robert Heinlein and took pictures of the first house he ever lived in as a kid before his family moved up to Kansas City.
Q: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: Probably Horton Hatches the Egg. I was horrified over poor Horton's treatment and experiences. Like, seriously, he went through some serious shit for that egg.
Q: What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
A: Um, how long do you have? The fact that an author spends months, years, even decades writing a book to hand over 99% of the income from said book seems pretty unethical to me. Then again, if you work in the corporate world in a "anything below CEO" position, you are likely to be used to slaving away for peanuts while some megalomaniacal asshole makes millions while practicing golf. Hm, maybe I shouldn't have answered the question.
Q: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A: Yes. Mainly it makes me feel like a crack addict. Not that I've ever smoked crack, so maybe this isn't a good analogy, but basically, it gives me a high, followed by a low, and a jonesing for more. So, yeah, there you go.
Q: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
A: It took until after I wrote and published my second book for me to ask, "Does this make me a writer?" So, darling, I have no idea. Ego is not a thing in my book. I write because I love it. I write hoping others will love what I have written. And I keep writing, because I really have no other choice.
Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?
A: Aside from imposter syndrome? Babies. Fostering babies and not sleeping is my Kryptonite. That said, His Majesty is my last foster baby, and hopefully my forever son, and I'm ready to dive in, full-time to writing now. Me and imposter syndrome will still have our round and rounds, but such is life.
Q: Have you ever gotten reader's block?
A: God, no. What seventh level of hell kind of shit is that? If I ever do, call the coroner.
Q: Would you ever write under a pen name?
A: Yes, if I end up writing straight up erotica, I probably would. At some point, I'm going to end up in my kids' classrooms talking to the class about being a writer and damned if I'm going to have them Google me and find out I've written Daddy's Little Bad Bitch. Note: First erotica novel will be titled Daddy's Little Bad Bitch.
Q: Do you write to market?
A: No. For two reasons. One, the stories come to me and ask to be written. Usually through a snippet of a scene. Two, the market is constantly changing and I have zero patience for such inconstant things.
Q: Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
A: Easter eggs, I love them! [claps while jumping up and down] I love connecting my series - even the cross-genre ones! The Book of Z references both The Collapse (although it might not be spelled out as such) in War's End and the asteroid hitting Earth in G581: Earth (oops, spoiler alert!). The Chronicles of Liv Rowan will occur directly before the Collapse and Fate's Highway has several characters that appear in Tales of the Collapse and G581: The Departure. I'm a HUGE geek, I love adding the Easter eggs into the various books.
Q: If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
A: Write the shit out of your life. Do it NOW. Don't wait. You can do this. You have the ability (and the youth, which I no longer have) and you can and should fucking do this. Listen to absolutely no one who says you cannot. Spend zero time giving two fucks about when it will pay off and just write. Oh, and Christine? When you meet this "nice" guy named Walter? RUN. And when you meet this other nice guy, named Jim? Run even faster.
Q: What other authors are you friends with and how do they help you become a better writer?
A: I have very few friends who are writers. Most, a handful, I've just recently met. However, I really, really want to become friends with Joanna Penn, author and podcaster, who is totally awesome and damned smart. I'll listen to The Creative Penn podcast and just take it all in as I'm cleaning our two short-term rental properties. She has taught me so much. Some day, I'll be successful and she will have me on her show, I just know it! And of course, in the process, she will realize that I'm funny and weird and amusing even if I am an American and will decide we are besties. Or at least good friends. Acquaintances. Passing familiars. Not stalker ish or some random weirdo that approaches her in the loo that time in 2020 before Covid raised hell and we all got locked down.
Q: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
A: Buying a copy of ProWritingAid. It catches the passive voice, repeated words, and SO much more. I highly recommend it.
Q: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
A: When I was 20, I was homeless. Not live under a bridge kind of thing, but we lived in a homeless shelter, my eldest child and I, for about three months. There were two pay phones in the commons area, along with a couch, and there was this Latina teen who thought she was all that. She was desperate to pick a fight with anyone and everyone and repeatedly insulted and threatened to hit me if I tried to use the phone. It was "her" phone. I wasn't a fighter, not at all, but I needed to use the damned phone. I was also tired of her bullshit. So I proceeded to use very large words to describe who I thought she was and why I didn't give one rat's ass whose phone it was, I was going to use it and no, I would not waste my time, not one second, fighting her for it. She knew I was insulting her, but didn't know what the words meant (they were really big ones), English was her second language, she was young and mainly full of air. I got to use the phone and there was no fighting for it. After that, she just kind of avoided me.
Q: What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
A: I'm well known for putting my enemies into my books and killing them off in rather inventive ways. The neighbor who repeatedly called codes on us (while his own house has holes in its roof) became a pedarast who drinks embalming fluid in G581: The Departure. There was a gentleman who was new to the community and mistook my offer of free furnace filters and basically accused me of being a porch pirate. I did actually meet him later and we patched things up, but he was killed off with a giant tsunami in G581: Earth. The CEO of EcoNu in G581: The Departure was based on a real-life co-worker who seemed to take special joy in being a sheer bitch to me on a daily basis when I worked for Marriott Distribution Services back in the mid-90s. I only put casual enemies into my books, however. The ones who are personal, the ones who cause deep and abiding grief or pain, they live in my journals only. I think too that often my characters are the aspects of me as I wish I had been. The words I wish I had said, the deeds or the line drawn in the sand that I didn't do or draw. Fiction allows us to create better versions of ourselves.
Q: How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?
A: No fully finished but unpublished books. As far as half-finished? As of January, 2022 - three - Winter's Child, The Glass Forest, and Quit Your Job, Change Your Life.
Q: What does literary success look like to you?
A: I'll let you know when it arrives.
Q: How many hours a day do you write?
A: As long as it takes to achieve my goal. I typically set a 2,000 word per day quota (5 days per week, God willing and the creek don't rise). Sometimes that is a few hours or less, sometimes, it simply does not happen because I've deviated off course. You know, like today, when writing up a Q & A sounded far more interesting.
Here are more questions I may (or may not) answer in the near future. Feel free to email me with more!
What does literary success look like to you?
What’s the best way to market your books?
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
How many hours a day do you write?
What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
What did you edit out of this book?”
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
How do you select the names of your characters?
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
What was your hardest scene to write?
Do you Google yourself?
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
What are your favorite literary journals?
What is your favorite childhood book?
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Does your family support your career as a writer?
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Do you believe in writer’s block?