Why do you write? I have to! Some people believe I am possessed. Others are certain I am on some sort of drugs. You know, if only it were that simple. Those problems can be fixed with an exorcism and drug rehab. I’m not fixable—and I’m really glad about that! However, it is a documented fact that when I am writing Jolene, there is a bit of a personality shift—okay, a lot. I’m normally a high energy person, but when Jolene is out and about it is off the charts. And I love it! It is so much fun and I get so excited about how the story is unfolding that I can’t fault people for thinking I’m a little wacko. It probably doesn’t help that every time an exciting scene pops into my head I call them and squeal, “Guess what just happened!” So, to answer the question again…I write because I have to—it feeds my soul. It also gives the voices in my head something to do, which is not nearly as crazy as it sounds. Hey, it works for me!
What inspired you to write your first book? A trip back to Fort Worth, Texas for a funeral. Seriously! My uncle, who was like a second father to me, had been ill for a long time and when he passed, we headed back to Texas. He and I had always joked about being forced to go to Wichita Falls for family gatherings, so making disparaging comments about anything and everything became a bonding activity for us. My mother never totally caught on, but she suspected and gave us the evil eye accordingly. So, the night before we left Colorado to go to his funeral, I had a dream. I know it sounds hokey, but it’s also true. The idea for the book laid itself out in full living color and I had the opening line as well when I woke up. I loaded myself in the car, and thanks to my trusty laptop and an ongoing supply of Benadryl to combat motion sickness, I wrote the first fifty pages of the novel on the trip down. No small trick with three kids and two dogs. Yes, I figure I had a little other worldly help with that!
Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Oh, no, not at all, and it says so quite clearly and emphatically in the disclaimer at the front of the book. Now, it is true that I did grow up in Texas, and I might possibly have loosely based the setting on a town similar to Holliday, Texas, but the description fits pretty much any small town, including the fact that there’s a Dairy Queen. One thing is very true. The ugly yellow yearbook fiasco described in Dead Man Falls is just too stupid to not be a fact. And, for the record, Jolene is not me, she just sort of looks, talks and thinks like I have from time to time—totally different thing. Lucille isn’t a mirror of my mother either, she’s more a compilation of several women, but the looks, oh, yeah, that’s her. I still have some of her very large and wildly eccentric clip-on earrings. I did not keep the trademark gold-glitter slippers, but I did buy a pair of blue sequined ones for myself in her honor. Obviously, the murderous events were made up—the local mayor didn’t actually die, but he sure did deserve to. Now, the “You slut, he’s a married man” hate mail thing is disturbingly true. Even more disturbing is that my mother was proud of it. “Isn’t that something!” she said, giggling. “At my age, somebody thinking I’m a slut! I must be doing something right!” …I could go on, but I’m pretty sure I’ve already said too much…
What’s your favorite meal? I’m kind of a health nut. I love fresh veggies and green smoothies and all that. But my most favorite thing to eat is snow crab legs—I like them better than the other varieties—and yes, I dip every single bite in melted butter. Okay, now I’m hungry!
Do you know your neighbors? I know a few, although I don’t visit regularly with any. I live in a smaller condo complex and most of my neighbors are older, which I really love. There are four units in my building and all are owned by single women—I’m the youngest by several decades and the oldest is 93—seriously! She doesn’t drive, but she still gets out of the house more than I do. I know they must think I am very strange, not leaving my house for days on end. They’ve admitted to wondering if I’d died on occasion—yes, I get the irony of that comment coming from the elderly people.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel? Happy and good because they laughed so hard and freed a whole swarm of little endorphins in their brain. And, I suspect that after reading about what Jolene has to put up with, they’ll feel a whole lot better about their own family and lives. No one can read these books and not feel grateful that Lucille isn’t their mother—no one.
What movies do you love to watch? I love to watch all kinds of movies from quantum physics spiritual stuff like What the Bleep Do We Know? to seriously stupid adolescent boy humor like Hot Tub Time Machine. Go figure. No horror or thrillers though. The most recent movie I saw at the theatre was Star Trek in 3D. I really liked it. I always like romantic comedies such as Something’s Gotta Give and Crazy Stupid Love, and I also like action adventure—Indiana Jones, The Mummy, Men in Black, etc. Clearly, I like to have fun!
How do you feel about self-publishing? It has saved my life! Literally! It is my livelihood, so I am immensely grateful that I can self-publish! I write fiction and nonfiction and I never once considered looking for a traditional publisher. That said, my nonfiction book, Living the Life You Love, is now also traditionally published in by publishers in other countries, which I’m thrilled about. Still, self-publishing is my mainstay and I truly appreciate every single reader who buys my books. It is because of your support that I can keep doing what I love. Thank you!
How long have you been writing? I had a brief stint in journalism in college before I became insane and got married and gave it up. About ten years later, my dad dropped dead of a heart attack and I was in shock. It pulled the rug out from under me in more ways than I understood at the time. It also broke me open. A few months later, songs—lyrics and melodies—started popping into my head. I wrote them down and more kept coming. I was having fun again! I found a little writing group up in the mountains where I lived and took my songs to share. A few in the group were writing poetry and short stories, but most were writing novels. Well, I wanted to do that too! I’d been a voracious reader, so I figured I knew how things should generally go. I simply decided to write a book and did. In 1993, my first novel won a writing contest with only three chapters written, so I was off and running. I wrote three complete novels in various genres before Hot Enough to Kill was published in 1999.
What writing are you most proud of? I love my Jolene novels and being in that world, and I am extremely proud of the book being featured in magazines such as Redbook and winning a literary award. However, the most significant personal accomplishment for me is my nonfiction book, Living the Life You Love: The No-Nonsense Guide to Total Transformation by Paula Renaye. It one sense, it is my life’s work—it’s a compilation of my struggles, the hard lessons learned and the guide out of the abyss that I, like so many, fell into. It is my contribution to helping others on their journey, especially my children. It is a how-to handbook for life and how to be happy—a compilation of all the things I wish I could have taught them but didn’t know myself. It really does fulfill my soul to know that when someone one is ready to do the deep personal work, it’s there. http://toughlovetalk.com/living-the-life-you-love/
How much sleep do you need to be your best? Clearly more than I get. When I am in one of my high intensity times, I will work until two or three in the morning then get up at seven or eight and get back to it. At some point, I crash, but when I’m in that mode there’s just no stopping me. Coach Paula Renaye (that would be me too) would say that approach is a very unhealthy option and that getting at least seven hours sleep would make me feel better and be more productive. She would also suggest setting personal boundaries and establishing priorities as well as a realistic daily. And I would suggest that she zip it so it doesn’t sound like we think there’s two of us. Adequate sleep would also probably help cut down on these kinds of pesky internal arguments (sigh).
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Genre – Mystery & Thriller / Women Sleuth
Rating – PG13