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 the small historic town of Lockport, New York. I lived and worked in the area for twenty-three years until I began my career as a flight attendant for a major airline. Flying is where I met my husband, Ron, who is a pilot. We married and moved to Jacksonville, Florida. After seventeen years of flying, I retired from the airlines in 2000 to stay at home with my two young children. I became a devoted PTA volunteer at my children’s elementary school. While my kids were in school during the day, I obtained a part-time job as a Beverage Cart Administrator at a semi-private country club. I worked for the golf course for ten years. During that time, I also took up painting. I’ve painted about thirty murals, selling several. I also have an online Etsy account, DWRockDesigns, where I sell an assortment of natural and painted rocks. I continue promoting and marketing my books, as well.
What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
I began writing eight years ago. I was going through a very troubling situation with my oldest sister, and the stress was making me physically ill. A professional advised me to write down my thoughts and feelings instead of keeping it all bottled up inside. So, I began writing in a journal that I carried with me everywhere. It helped, I found myself writing all the time. Gradually, I turned the devastating situation into a story. I began my story in the early 1900s when my grandparents met, and their exciting story started. I added some of my childhood experiences and brought the saga into the present day. I wrote the book as a semi-autobiographical fiction mystery. (You don’t see that category very often.) I changed the names to protect the innocent and wrote the book to expose the guilty.
What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
The biggest challenge for me was getting my first completed manuscript published. I had no idea what to do with my book, but I was determined to get it published. I wasn’t a writer, and I had no idea what the industry entailed. I saw an ad in the paper about a book seminar called Get Book Savvy at the Beach. Two local authors, Jane Wood and Frances Keiser, were holding an all-day session to teach aspiring authors about writing, publishing, and marketing. So, I signed up. That session motivated me to start my own Independent Publishing Company, HayMarBooks, LLC and publish my book. I knew it would be a big undertaking, but I was ready to move forward. I want to thank Jane R. Wood for all the advice and experience she’s extended to me these past eight years. Jane helped me become the award-winning author I am today. She’s been an incredible mentor.
What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
My three sisters and their families still live in the Lockport area, so every year, I visit Western NY in June. While I’m there, I coordinate book signings, school visits, and set up a booth at The Lockport Arts and Craft Festival. My visit this particular year was coming to an end. I was out to dinner with my family at one of my favorite restaurants. We noticed a lot of commotion going on at a few tables. The people kept looking at our table. A woman got up from her seat and came over to our table. She introduced herself and said, “You were the author that spoke at my sons’ school the other day. He bought all your books and is looking forward to reading them.” I thanked her. By that time, most of the room was listening, (It’s a small dining room, there’s not much social distancing at this restaurant.) Another woman held up her hand from across the room and shouted, “you should read her wonderful mystery novels. They’re set right here in Lockport.” I was shocked. I blushed and I thanked them again. My nephew nudged me and said, “look at you… you’re famous.”
What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
Growing up, I read many of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Mystery Stories. I’ve also read a lot of famous authors, John Grisham, Danielle Steele, Steven King, and many more. Several years ago, I read a book by an author named Kate White. White has written fourteen suspense novels. I would say her writing has influenced the most. I like the simplicity in the way she writes her mystery stories. I like to read Independent author’s books. Authors I’ve met through FAPA (Florida Authors & Publishers Association.)
Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
I do not write every day. I haven’t written in a while. For me, it takes a lot of time and concentration when I write. With everything going on right now, it’s been hard for me to focus. I have written five award-winning books, two Mystery Novels, and three children’s chapter books (I draw the simple black and white illustrations for my Jace Adventure series.) My last children’s book, published in 2019, is the most recent publication. Eventually, I will get back to writing. I will have to finish my third novel. It’s the final sequel to my first two books, Love, Greed and Lie$, and The Lost Twin.
What are your interests outside of writing?
I like to garden, travel, and I enjoy painting rocks. I make and sell portable tic-tac-toe games online. I have an online account at Etsy, where I sell my rock art under the name DWRockDesigns. This November, I’m selling my rock art at The Christmas Made in the South here in Jacksonville. I have diligently been painting and designing my rock art to have enough inventory for the three-day weekend event. I will also be able to sell my books. I was clever enough to have coordinated rock designs to go with my kid’s books.
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.
I honestly wouldn’t do a whole lot different. I attended many conferences to learn. This industry changes rapidly. I’m glad I started my own independent publishing company and didn’t use a traditional publisher. I like that I have full control in every aspect of designing and publishing my books. One tip I’ve learned and recommend the purchasing of my ISBNs. If you go with a publisher or someone that assists with your publication, I recommend purchasing your own. I also recommend attending conferences. I always learn something new.