No dressing room needed

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Nude resort

During my tenure as fashion editor of The Tampa Tribune, I met a woman who ran a clothing store in a nudist resort.
“Nudists love clothes,” she insisted and I nodded as though the statement made perfect sense. Still, journalistic curiosity got the better of me when she invited me to visit her shop.
Driving through the security gate, I realized I hadn’t considered the potential awkwardness of my situation. I was wearing a linen suit and carrying a reporter’s notebook, which stood out in a sea of nakedness. As a parochial school grad, I admit experiencing initial shock the sight of a mixed doubles game of tennis. (The sight of so many objects bouncing on the court still haunts me.)
However, I now feel qualified to offer a few tips to anyone considering a clothing-optional experience this summer:
– Nude resorts understand it’s natural to look at people. What is not OK, however, is to stare. Like me, if you’re not used to engaging in eye-contact and conversation with someone who’s totally exposed, keep your sunglasses on.
– Nude resort etiquette calls for guests to sit on a towel. Resorts will have them at the ready, but bringing your own beach towel is a great way to easily identify your seat. Grabbing someone else’s towel by mistake isn’t something you want to do at a clothing-optional pool or beach.
– Clothing-optional resorts take great care to ensure their patrons feel safe and comfortable. That’s why many have strict policies around photography, some completely ban smartphones. Seize the opportunity to unplug from technology and relax. Bring a great book to read.

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers.

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Renee interviews author Tabitha Young

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Tabitha Young

Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
I grew up in Virginia, outside of Washington D.C., but moved to Orlando to attend UCF (Go Knights!) where I received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. It was five years ago when I met my husband, who is a graduate from Deland High, and two years ago, we moved back to Deland. During this time, I have fallen in love with the town and community.
Currently, I’m an active alumna of Kappa Alpha Theta and serve on the Advisory Board as the Facility Management Advisor for the Epsilon Theta Chapter at Stetson University. During my free time, I love being with my family (although we are usually working on our small family farm) traveling, and of course, watching college football.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
The idea for The Burden of Trust was literally a dream. This dream was different than my others because even after I woke, it continued to replay in my mind. A co-worker suggested that I write it down, and as I began writing the dream started to expand. What started as a doodle has turned into a full trilogy.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
My biggest challenge has been learning how to write. Writing a novel is completely different than composing an email or an essay. You have to learn how to tap into character’s feelings and emotions, and transport the reader into their world.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
Most people don’t know that I initially had self published The Burden of Trust back in 2014. I sent it off to a reviewer and got a life lesson in criticism. She had explained that while the story was good, the writing was horrible. I was devastated. I remember sitting in a hotel room (because I was traveling with my husband) sobbing. It felt as though it had all fallen apart. Twenty minutes later and some support from my husband, I made the decision to start over. It was now or never, and I was determined to write a successful novel.

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I tend to read what I’m writing. If it’s romance, I’m reading a Nicholas Sparks or Kristin Hannah. When I find that I’m lacking for descriptive language, I always turn back to Gone with the Wind, my all time favorite.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
I try to write every day, but sometimes life tends to interrupt that. When the mood or motivation strikes, I sit down and write…even if it’s a napkin at a restaurant.

 What are your interests outside of writing?
First of all, I love college football! My family has a small farm, just a few cows, chickens and ducks and I enjoy going out in the mornings with my husband to take care of them. I love traveling to off-the beaten path places, meeting locals and learning about their culture.

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
If you are writing your first novel, I would suggest hold off on publishing until it’s been edited by a professional and tested by a few reviewers. Don’t rely on friends and family for critical feedback. I learned a lot writing The Burden of Trust and one of the biggest things that I helped me was to read my book out loud. It’s amazing all the little errors you find. Always remember writing a novel is 10% writing and 90% editing!

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. To suggest an author interview, email her at rgarrison@bestversionmedia.com.

Bark & Breakfast

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My favorite houseguests have fur.

My own beloved pooch died one month short of her seventeenth birthday and left a void in my life that nothing could fill. When a neighbor asked if I might help with her dog-sitting business, I happily agreed. With a few stipulations – pets must be non-shedding and under 30 pounds – I’ve played hostess to a number of furry houseguests when their parents go on vacation.

Each time they arrive, they run to me, tails wagging, crying with joy, covering my face with kisses. They are ecstatic to spend time with me.

My own children never greeted me with such enthusiasm.

(Full disclosure: They greet anyone we meet on our walks with the same exuberance, but I am not a jealous person. I can share the love.)

Dogs love to lounge in my lap or sleep at my feet as I tap at my computer keyboard. They make eager editorial assistants and never criticize my work. For a few magical days, they are my biggest fans, my new best friends.

I’m sad, of course, when they leave and my house feels empty again. But I know they’ll probably return for another visit…the best houseguests usually do.

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of “The Anchor Clankers.”

Tea for two

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Rifling through my pantry this morning, I discovered a small package of loose tea from Harney & Sons American Tea Company. I remember the day I bought it, driving through the Berkshires with my photographer friend, Barbara Rosen. She lost a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer five years ago and the tea was a memory I hadn’t wanted to part with. I wondered if tea ever went bad?

Clicking around their website, I learned that Harney and Sons tea does not have an expiration date, but the company recommends their product be consumed within two years of the “best by date” on the packages. Whoops. “If your tea is outside that window, there’s no harm in consuming it, however, it’s very likely the flavor and aroma will be very subdued.”

Happily, it wasn’t. In fact, it smelled as great as it tasted.

Holding the cup, I missed Barbara a little less and remembered a lot more. She once said, “If you want to reach me, put your hand over your heart and talk. I’m there.” So I did.
Cheers to you, my friend.

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of  The Anchor Clankers.

Renee interviews author Talya Boerner

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Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.

I grew up on a cotton farm in the Arkansas Delta (where my family goes back five generations). I have an economics degree from Baylor University. For twenty-five years, I lived in Dallas and raised two children while working as a commercial lender. About four years ago (as empty nesters), my husband and I moved back home to Arkansas. We now live in Fayetteville in the gorgeous Ozark Mountains with our two schnauzers, Lucy and Annabelle. I’m editing my next book and working to turn our backyard into a butterfly garden.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?

The inspiration for my book came from my childhood. Although the genre is southern fiction, flashes and situations within The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee are autobiographical, inspired by the farm where I grew up and the people who influenced me. One of my favorite writers, Eudora Welty, said, “One place understood helps us understand all places better.” The setting for my book, Mississippi County, Arkansas, is my “one place understood”. The Delta, my small country church, the schoolhouse, the all-encompassing nature of farming—these things inspired me to tell Gracie’s story.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?

Leaving a successful banking career to follow my writing dream felt both exciting and frightening. While the solitary nature of writing fits my personality, I had no idea how difficult it would be to reach readers, to grow an audience, to earn an income from it.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?

My most rewarding moments have resulted from connections made with readers who are eager to tell me that Accidental Salvation took them back to their own childhoods, to places or times they had all but forgotten. Also, having my book featured on NPR’s Arts & Letters was a definite high point!

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

A few of my favorite authors include Carson McCullers, Robert Olen Butler, Eudora Welty, Dorothy Allison, Charles Frazier, Zadie Smith, Stephen King, Jeffery Eugenides, and Nell Leyshon.
Childhood books that first sparked my love of reading include The Secret Garden, Little Women, Nancy Drew, Tarzan of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland, and any Newbery award winner.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?

Yes, I write most every day early in the morning with a cup of coffee. I start by recording in my journal the date, time, place, and current weather conditions. As a farm girl and gardener, knowing the weather forecast is ingrained in me. I can’t get started without checking the conditions. Crazy, I know!

What are your interests outside of writing?

Besides writing, I love nature and gardening, and I am a voracious reader.

Share some tips for other authors or aspiring authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.

My advice to aspiring authors is to read excellent writing. Slow down and don’t be in a rush to publish your book. Hire a professional editor. Spend your spare time perfecting your craft rather than on marketing.
It’s my belief that good writing will be discovered. At least I hope so.

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of “The Anchor Clankers.” To suggest an author interview, email her at rgarrison@bestversionmedia.com.

Renee interviews author Linda Fairstein

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I had the pleasure of meeting Linda Fairstein when she was the National Guest of Honor for the 2018 Florida Writers Conference. Warm and engaging, she has a personal story that is as intriguing as the novels she writes. (Producer Dick Wolf based the character of Assistant District Attorney Alex Cabot in the TV show “Law & Order: SVU” on Linda.) Her latest novel, BLOOD OATH, was just released.

 
Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.

I was born and raised in Mt. Vernon, New York – a very middle-class community just outside of New York City. For as long as I can remember, I loved books and libraries, reading stories and trying to write them. I had wonderfully loving parents who were very supportive of my goals. My father used to laugh every time I said that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, saying that I’d better think about a career that would actually allow me to support myself.

I went to Vassar College because of the great English lit program, back in the day when it was a women’s school. By my senior year, I thought my father had a point – I really didn’t have anything to write about!

My other interest was public service (a child of the JKF call to service – ‘Ask not what your country can do for you…’) and so I thought that law school would give me options to do interesting work. I went straight from college to the University of Virginia School of Law – which led me to my first job in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office – the 7th woman on a staff of 200 lawyers.

I stayed in that job for 30 years, running the country’s pioneering Special Victims’ Unit, and wrote my non-fiction book SEXUAL VIOLENCE and my first five novels in the Alex Cooper series while in that job.

I live in Manhattan most of the year, and have a home on Martha’s Vineyard, where I do a lot of my writing in the summer. My husband and I just bought a home on Gasparilla Island, off the Gulf Coast of Florida, where I have found a glorious new place to write and relax.

Little known facts? I’m still a lawyer. I do a lot of pro bono work representing victims of violence, and consulting on issues of sexual assault. My other childhood dream was to be a ballerina (!) – I took lessons until well into my early adulthood, which is why Coop takes ballet lessons, too. I miss my prosecutorial job every day, and stay close to the lawyers who succeeded me in that work.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?

BLOOD OATH is the 20th book in the Alex Cooper series of crime novels. So many detectives and prosecutors are doing ‘cold case’ work now, solving crimes that happened decades ago that seemed impossible to unravel for so long. This story is the case of one such crime, and I wanted to explore the impact on both the victim and the perp of trying to get some justice so long after the fact. I always draw some of my motives and legal issues from real cases, so the plots are entirely made-up once the issues take hold in my imagination. This is one such story, like the others in the series.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?

I think everyone who writes novels – especially in a series like this – is finding ways to make the characters evolve over time and keeping them fresh. Several books back, Alex Cooper was kidnapped. I thought it was important to have her experience the trauma of the victims she has worked with for so long. In the book that followed, she had to deal with PTSD and see things from that perspective – which affected her relationship with Mike Chapman, and required her to take a leave of absence. Coop is back in top form in BLOOD OATH, and it’s always a challenge to make that happen.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?

The biggest ‘aha’ moment came at the very start of the series. My non-fiction book had been a NYTimes Book of the Year in 1994, but lots of people assumed it was a one-book experience, and that I wouldn’t be able to do fiction. My great friend and literary agent (first of all, a friend!) Esther Newberg encouraged me to try to tell my story about Coop, but not to go too far without showing her pages, just so she could tell me whether to plug ahead or give up. In the early fall of 1995, when I had written 64 pages, I sent them to her, and she gave me some constructive criticism. Just after Christmas of that year, I sent her the edited pages and another 30. Again, it was just for her eyes only! A week later she called me to say that she had decided, without telling me, that the pages were ready to show to editors – so she sent them out to three big publishers. She told me that there was a bidding war for FINAL JEOPARDY, and one of the publishers asked whether I thought I could do two books. I snapped back that I thought I could do ten – that I had always wanted to write a series of crime novels. Esther sold the Alex Cooper series the next day – truly my ‘aha’ moment. I pinch myself when I think that BLOOD OATH is number 20.

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

I’m a glutton for good books! I love to read other crime novelists, of course. Right now, I’m reading the brand-new Lisa Gardner book. I like Harlan Coben and Lisa Scottoline and Michael Connelly and Andrew Gross and Louise Penny. I love history and biography, too. My next book up is the Andrew Roberts biography, Churchill: Walking with Destiny. I probably write crime novels because I was influenced so strongly by the Nancy Drew books when I was a kid! All good storytellers have influenced my writing.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?

Yes, I try to write something every single day. If I am not moving along in my manuscript, I might be writing an article on some aspect of criminal law or helping a friend edit a piece of work. I think it’s critical for a writer to be living ‘in words’ every day – writing and reading, both of which I love to do.
As far as rituals go, I don’t have many. I am mostly a morning writer. I like to get up, read the newspaper, answer some emails, enjoy a few cups of coffee. Then I like to get right into the work. I stop in the early afternoon for some exercise – swimming or biking or hanging out with friends on a long walk. I never write in the evening – one glass of wine and I’m done with the written page.

What are your interests outside of writing?

I’m happiest when I’m with family and friends, so that’s usually my main focus. I love the company of other writers, and I have a loyal group of former colleagues with whom I stay in regular contact. I have played sports all my life – tennis when I was younger – and competitive swimming. I still love swimming laps and riding my bike (which I get to do every day on Gasparilla – it’s got fabulous bike paths). My husband and I love to travel, so when I take a break from writing, we like to head for some place foreign or familiar – without my laptop.

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.

So many aspiring writers have told me that they procrastinate a lot because they don’t know where they are going with their work. But you can’t write unless you sit down in front of a computer and start in on it. Write! Write something every day – even if it’s just a few paragraphs or lines. You have to enjoy the process or you have chosen the wrong field. It is very solitary and very difficult work, and often slow to show results. It has become harder and harder to get work published, but unless you keep at the writing – and polish your words – you’ll never get to the finish line. And once you do, and you are fortunate enough to be published, it’s a great thrill. Read, read voraciously – because good storytelling is inspirational, and seeing how other writers use the language is hugely helpful. No more procrastinating – get to work!

 

BloodOath

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. To suggest an author interview, email her at rgarrison@bestversionmedia.com.

Forget about it

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I’ve just spent the last 30 minutes searching for my reporter’s notebook. It’s not the first time this has happened – my keys, cell phone and coffee cups occasionally get lost, too. That’s when I panic and fear that it might reflect some withering brain cells. (In my defense, caring for a mother-in-law with dementia might make me a bit more paranoid than the average person.)
However, a growing body of research indicates forgetting stuff can actually be a by-product of rigorous thinking, smooth decision-making or heightened creativity. Forgetting can help us block out useless or outdated information and it can be driven by the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region linked to memory.
It’s a relief to know that my forgetfulness isn’t part of the extensive memory loss linked to dementia or similar health problems. But just to be sure that I don’t miss any deadlines, or draw a mental blank during my next presentation, I’m going to make a few lists.
Now, if I can just find my pen…

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. She’s currently writing a sequel.

Renee interviews author Patti Brassard Jefferson

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Patti Brassard Jefferson divides her time between Ft. Myers and Islamorada, Florida. In her spare time, she is a sunset expert, crayon sniffer and amateur tiara model who happily admits she doesn’t own a single pair of socks.

 

Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
I was born in upstate New York, raised in Virginia and now live in Florida. I’m running out of space to move south! I’ve always been involved with artistic endeavors. My degree is Media Arts Advertising and I have owned a graphic design company, a paint-it-yourself pottery studio, art gallery and now a bookstore & my own publishing company. I love working with creative people! What to talk about Game of Thrones? Never saw it. Want to talk about the font that is used for GoT? You are my kind of weirdo! (It’s Trajan Pro, by the way.)

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
My first two books were children’s books (How Long Will You Love Me and Stu’s Big Party) and book #4, due out in January, is a return to that. My third book, however, was my first foray into non-fiction. 365 Bright Ideas for Marketing Your Indie Books was an idea that I had after being involved with so many independent authors either through my bookstore, PJ Boox, or through my association with the Florida Authors and Publishers Association (I have been on the FAPA Board of Directors since 2014 and am the current President-Elect). The most common challenge that most authors face is marketing. I figured out a way that I felt authors could understand the challenges of branding and marketing and work on it a little bit at a time every day. I even made it so that the author could pick and choose tasks based on the time it took to complete or the costs that may be involved. Overall, it has been very well received and has won a few awards along the way. I love speaking to writers and authors groups and getting such great feedback. I am working on another one in the 365 series which I hope to have done in the summer of 2019.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
Just like so many authors, I think my biggest challenge is the juggle of home life, day job, social obligations, creative life, and continuing education. We need to learn to prioritize and set very realistic goals and schedules. When you have so much going on, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and scattered. I listen to marketing videos on YouTube while on my 20-minute drive to and from work. I try to keep my day job during regular business hours and not take too much work home with me. I make lists and set rewards for my progress. When I’m facing a deadline, I try to go to bed no later than 2:30 and just set an alarm to get up a little earlier to wrap it up. Otherwise my day job suffers. Everyone’s situation is different but the juggle is real!

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
I was at Book Expo America one year and Orna Ross (who is the founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors) was there at the Alli booth. I had been trying to meet her for 2 days. Finally, she was alone and I walked over, said hi, and told her I owned a bookstore for indie authors in Florida. She looked at me and said, “Are you Patti Jefferson?” I was floored. That is the sort of thing that counts as success for me: validation of people I admire or others in the industry, helping a new author get a book out, or receiving a photo of a Mom with her child in her lap reading one of my books and telling me that it’s become a nightly ritual to read that book together. Not that making money or winning awards isn’t a good thing, too! The “aha” moment comes when you realize that profit doesn’t outweigh purpose.

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
Since I own a bookstore that sells only independently or small-press published authors, I am always discovering new authors! I enjoy mysteries and thrillers when I am reading for pleasure; Patricia Gussin, Bill Powers, and Bill Thomason are some authors I have read lately. As for books that influence my writing? I live for the giggle moments when kids read my children’s books so obviously, Suess and Silverstein are an influence.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
Unfortunately, I don’t write every day – it just doesn’t fit into my schedule. I do have a stack of book ideas or half-started manuscripts. When I AM writing, I generally do it late at night or very early morning when my house is quiet. I drink a lot of Chai tea, put on my headphones and listen to a loop of white noise (usually a box fan) from YouTube. I really have to drown out the world or I get too distracted. I’m a “squirrel!” kind of girl so I try to be cognizant of that – my phone has to be in the other room and on vibrate.

What are your interests outside of writing?
In my copious spare time, I like to read (go figure!) and create art. A lump of clay or a pile of broken tile puts me in my happy place. I am also somewhat of a sunset aficionado so I like to travel to places that have great ocean views and gorgeous sunsets.

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
The one thing I would do differently is to change my branding strategy. I wrote the first book and set up all of my social platforms in the book name rather than my own name. When the second book came out, I had 2 websites, 2 Facebook pages, etc. Ugh! I felt like I lost a bit of traction when I first started promoting ME rather than my titles. The funny thing with writing is that you can’t even begin to know where you are heading. I wrote children’s books and then added a completely different genre. Now it all fits under the “pbjauthor” umbrella but I wish I had thought of that in the beginning!
My advice to aspiring authors is to get started with educating yourself on how the industry works while you are still writing – don’t wait to finish your first book before you try to figure out your publishing strategy. Whether you choose traditional, indie or hybrid publishing, you should learn the jargon, the standards, and the processes involved so you can make the best decisions for your writing business. It will help you treat your book, not as “your baby”, but as a creative, well-produced product that you can get out into the world. Your readers have been waiting for your book and you owe it to them to make it the best that it can be.

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. To suggest an author interview, email her at rgarrison@bestversionmedia.com.

Santa says avoid stress

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Ideally, the holidays should to be a time of thankfulness, reflection, and celebration. Yet the idealistic visions of a perfect holiday are often marred by tensions and stress. Financial pressure, over-commitment and unrealistic expectations are among the culprits. However, I’ve discovered a few adjustments that can bring joy and peace to the season.
-Have realistic expectations. Magazines, The Hallmark Channel, even commercials depict elaborate holiday decorations, spotless homes and amazing meals. All of those images push us toward unrealistic expectations of ourselves and everyone else. Instead, do what is realistic for you without feeling guilty, lazy or inadequate.
-Be flexible. You might have to make concessions about when and where celebrations occur to avoid stress in families. Be willing to get together on a different day before or after the holiday if need be. The actual day isn’t as important as the opportunity to gather in a relaxed, unrushed atmosphere.
-Downgrade décor. Just because neighbors or family members decorate excessively doesn’t mean you can’t opt for a different experience. Simple decorations are just as festive (and perhaps more peaceful) than over-the-top extravagance. Include a few items that are special to you or your children, but don’t feel obligated to go overboard.
-Don’t break the budget. Gifts, parties, decorations and travel create a lot of financial pressure during the holidays. Your budget may require reducing the number of gifts you give or finding other ways to cut costs. Ignore the retail hype that plays on your emotions and avoid the temptation to buy with credit cards. Your stress level will skyrocket in January when the bills arrive.
– Just say no. A full holiday calendar equals exhaustion. Consider the logistics before accepting too many invitations. Leave holes in your calendar for quiet evenings at home or impromptu gatherings. You’ll be glad you did.

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. 

Renee interviews author Stacey Horan

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Author Stacey Horan

Stacey and I met when we participated in an author panel discussion in Jacksonville. Her Young Adult books involve contemporary settings, with a twist. She believes, “Real life is scary and interesting enough on its own. I don’t think you need to embellish it.”

 
Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
I grew up in southwest Florida (on the Gulf Coast), but I’ve moved around a lot as an adult. My husband and I have a tendency to pack up and move every 3-6 years. We’ve lived in several cities in Florida, moved overseas to live in the UK and then moved back stateside to live just outside of NYC. Our most recent move took us to Jacksonville, Florida, where we now live with our two dogs – and we are hoping to stay put for a while.
I have degrees from UCF and Duke Law School, and I practiced law for almost twenty years. Now, I write full-time.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
I was working full-time as in-house counsel for an international corporation. It was a very fast paced, high-pressure job, but it wasn’t artistically creative. Needing a creative outlet, I began writing stories at night, on weekends and, occasionally, on my lunch break. The first book I started writing took about 12 years to complete, but it wasn’t my first published book. It was actually the third book I published. I’ve been writing for almost 15 years, and I have four books published with another one on the way. I write Young Adult fiction, and I love the genre. My books are, in publication order: Sycamore Lane, Inland, Ortus and Juvenis (the last two are the first two installments in a five-part series called The Elixir Vitae Adventures).

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
The biggest challenge for me is marketing my books. When I first started out as an author, I was surprised by how much time it took to market my books and promote myself as an author. I’m not a natural salesperson, so it’s a skill I’m still developing.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
I consider it my biggest success when people (especially kids!) come up to me and tell me they’ve read and enjoyed my stories. There’s no bigger thrill, or honor, as a writer.

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you?
I gravitate to thrillers, mysteries and suspense. When I was a kid, my mom (who taught elementary school for many years) introduced me to my very first Nancy Drew book. I read that first one (The Secret in the Old Clock), and I was hooked! I couldn’t get enough. In one summer, I ready every Nancy Drew book my library carried.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
I’d like to be able to say “yes,” but that’s not true. I don’t write every day. I find it’s an impossible goal for me to set for myself. Nevertheless, I aspire one day to be able to write everyday. That being said, I do work at my writing job everyday. There is always something that needs to be done. Either I’m writing my stories, editing my stories, researching and planning my stories, trying to market my books and/or handling other administrative tasks that need my attention. Writing is only part of the job – it’s the best part, but it’s still only one part.

What are your interests outside of writing?
I have just recently started a podcast entitled, The Bookshop at the End of the Internet. (I’ve recorded half a dozen interviews so far, and the first episode will go live in early December). The podcast is dedicated to helping book lovers find new authors. I interview authors from all walks of life, who write across all genres and who are published in a variety of ways (indie, small press, large publishing houses). It’s been a lot of fun speaking with the authors about their writing journeys, and I’ve learned something new about the art of writing from each interview.
I also do classroom visits with schools via Skype in the Classroom. It’s been a lot of fun to speak with students about writing and to answer their questions. So far, I’ve spoken with classes in half a dozen different states in the US, as well as classes in Canada, Panama and Australia. It’s been quite an adventure.

Share some tips: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.
If I had to do it over again, I would have started writing much earlier. It would have been great to discover the joy of writing in school (by which I mean writing my own stories in my own way) and to have practiced that craft for much longer than I have been doing to date. Nevertheless, I came to writing at a time when I desperately needed a creative outlet, and I’m just pleased to have found it at all.
When I was ready, I took a leap of faith and made writing my full-time job. It was a bumpy start, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s the best job in the world.

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers. To suggest an interview, email her at rgarrison@bestversionmedia.com.