I began dabbling in writing in High School (maybe earlier if you count my scribbled storylines for my favorite TV shows) and two of my short works were selected for my High School yearbook. The first time I actually wrote for publication was in college – it was a newspaper report and it was printed in a local weekly paper where I lived.
I went back to writing as a pastime but pursued it as a business in the early 80’s. As a child, and even now, I always had a very vivid imagination and loved making up stories and playing “what if?” My imaginary friends were very complex individuals and quite believable when I spoke about them. I often had teachers ask my mom how she managed raising five kids (there was only my sister and me).
I write because “I have to” – it isn’t just a job, it is a drive inside of me, it just has to be. I always say that my writing is synonymous with my breathing. I like knowing that my words are being read, whether it is my fiction or my newspaper journalism. I like reaching people and making them think because of something I’ve said/written. It’s even better when my words create a dialogue between readers. Because I have a strong Internet presence, readers have been able to find and contact me online. It is wonderful to read their comments and to be able to say “Wow. He (she) really gets it!” and to know that my meanings are clear.
It’s not always easy to combine creative writing time with the business end of promotion, marketing and even finances. No matter how well written or interesting your book may be, if no one knows about it, then no one reads it. To be “in the business” means that you have to tackle some of the non-creative stuff as well. Seeing my name on a book or as a byline under an article always thrills me. My greatest victory as an author has been seeing my work published and knowing people are seeking out my words to read.
The day I sent my manuscript query to Kimberlee Williams at Vanilla Heart Publishing was a huge moment in my life. I was thrilled when she asked to see the complete manuscript and literally speechless when she offered me a contract a short while later. Kimberlee is a terrific publisher, she is very accessible and encouraging, and she remains on top of her industry to learn the newest and most innovative ways of doing things. Promotion and marketing of my books is a team effort between author and publisher and what we are doing seems to be working.
I was very fortunate to have poet Daisy Aldan as my creative writing teacher in high school. The late Ms. Aldan was very encouraging and taught us how to tap into our imaginations. I would have loved to have lunch with Daisy Aldan and let her know what a wonderful influence she had on my life. Later I volunteered in the NYC Auxiliary Police in the early 70’s and was mentored by Detective Hank Spallone – Hank was our police department liaison and community affairs officer. He taught me to open the lines of communication with people. I use what I learned from both
Aldan and Spallone in my career as a full-time writer; I
write both fiction (my favorite) and non-fiction journalism. I enjoy developing
a character and a setting, building a background and seeing it all come to life
in my fiction. I immensely dislike walking away from my computer keyboard when
I have more words in me to type.
I think that we humans like to tell stories and writing books is a way of recording our stories and giving them life. I build my characters with personalities and pasts that affect their thoughts and feelings, then I sort of throw them into a world I’ve created and let them make their own decisions. I always have a story to explore and I am always working on another book.
All of my fiction is based on life. I glean story ideas from the world around me, my own experiences, newspaper reports and even random people-watching. Little snippets of conversation may be the beginnings of an entire novel as I use my imagination to fill in any missing pieces and give names to the otherwise unknown characters. I tend to embellish things that have happened; I say to myself that I can’t be the only person to have experienced such things, but my imagination still runs rampant.
I enjoy helping new writers learn about the field and pursue their dreams. It’s sad to hear that someone gave up on a dream because of lack of confidence or encouragement. I’ve been blessed with the generous support and encouragement of my family, friends, publisher and fellow VHP authors. I’ve facilitated workshops on the writing process, character development and the road to publication.
I write as a job and sometimes have to juggle the hours to make everything fit. I lead a very busy life with my community and family. Writing of any kind helps to relax me, even under the tightest deadlines. Whether it was seeing my words on the typed page as in my early days of writing or on my computer screen in more modern times, there is a thrill inside from the first opening sentence through to the last line of a book.
I write when I feel the urge and can get to my computer or a pad and pencil. Writing is a way of life, it’s a way of thinking and a way of breathing. Always remember that you are dealing with humans who have thoughts and ideas of their own – some people will like your work, some people won’t, you’re the one who has to believe in your work the most.
Never give up, never stop writing.