Thoughts of Malice…the Virtual Version

I just want to be grateful for a hot minute.

I’ve been writing a long time, and it’s an isolating affair, and often writers feel like they are writing into voids of rejection and futility.

Level Best Books, my current publisher, is not about to let that happen to their authors! Case in point: More than Malice, my publisher’s answer to the pandemic-exhausted populace. Instead of postponing the typical Malice Domestic Writers conference, which they’ve been involved with for twenty years; they pulled out all the stops and produced a virtual conference that defied the odds, and had a lot of fun doing it. (Well, in addition to the blood, sweat, and tears of the learning curve and all the technological nuances and stumbling blocks). Now up to 90-something authors, give or take, Level Best Books is growing! And they still try to make sure every author is given attention in some shape or form, on this wonderful but terrifying journey called publishing.

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Author Interview Questions for THE DEADENING

1) Tell us about Olivia Callahan, the protagonist of your latest release, The Deadening.

Sure! Olivia is 38 years old, has auburn, curly hair, was raised by a devoted mother who struggles with marrying the right kind of men. This caused Olivia’s mom to be somewhat absent as she was growing up, as she was handling crisis after crisis. Olivia subsequently met her husband early, while she was still in high school, and married him. As a married woman, she wrestles with how much of herself to reveal in her marriage, as she has believed the lie that she should let the man always have the last word, and her husband is very happy about that. For twenty years, Olivia is content to let Monty make all the decisions that affect the family’s lives, and eventually, of course, this kind of behavior backfires and Monty wants nothing more to do with her. Olivia is in a growth pattern, that will hopefully cause her to look deeply at her past to figure out what and why and when she became so passive.

2) What intrigues you about a person’s identity, a central theme to The Deadening?

Good question! I feel everyone has a story to tell, and I love to pull from people those stories. In almost every case, traumatic or chaotic circumstances have led to an identity journey. I find this fascinating. We may or may not reach our God-given potential due to how we respond to these crises, or circumstances over which we have no control. As the saying goes, when we stumble over obstacles, setbacks, or assaults, crimes…whatever life throws our way…we have the option to get bitter—or get better. The journey can take many twists and turns, and it would be a shame not to share these situations in order to perhaps help someone else find their way in life a bit easier.

3)The Deadening is the first in a three-book series. How much do you know already about the next two books? What’s it like to have to think so far ahead?

This is my first series. My other book, The Hunting, is a stand-alone novel. I took a deep breath when my editor suggested I write a series, but in actuality it is easier than starting from scratch because I already know these characters and settings. I know their history, their fears, their doubts. I know Olivia’s children. All I’m doing now is continuing the story, and it’s proving to be easier than I thought it would be. We’ll see what my editor says when I’m about halfway through Book Two, titled “The Rising.” And I do not think so far ahead. I plot out one book, then the next one. It would be impossible for me to think all the way to the end game of the third book!

And now, a few personal questions!

A few of your favorite things: My three cats, the sun faces I collect and hang on an exterior wall, my long view of the Lowcountry marsh off my deck. Good red wine. Jazz. Oh, I guess I should add my husband.

Things you love about writing: I lose myself and time can pass very quickly. How a scene develops under my hands. Editing after the first draft is done, which is much like fine-tuning a piece of sculpture by scraping away the bits that don’t work and polishing the bits that do.

Hardest thing about being a writer: Promotion. Who has time to set this stuff up? But we have to.

Things you never want to run out of: Easy…coffee and wine.

Words that describe you: Optimistic. Stylish. Fun. Nurturing.

Words that describe you, but you wish they didn’t: Decisive. Blunt. Opinionated. (These traits do not work in my favor sometimes…)

Favorite foods: Filet, quiche, asparagus

Things that make you want to gag:  Onions. Liver. FISH, and anything else that comes from a body of water. Yuck.

Something you’re really good at: Interior decorating. Loving my grandkids. Cardio & weight training. Makeup. Playing piano. And hopefully, writing!

Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: Arrogant, condescending people.

Things you always put in your books: A pet. Dog or cat.
Things you never put in your books:
Sex scene.

Things to say to an author: I could not put down your book!!

People you’d like to invite to dinner (living):  Jeff Goldblum. Vincent D’Onofrio. Stephen Furtick. Angie Harmon, Louise Jensen. (This list changes often)

Proudest moment: Those moments I see my grown kids fulfill their unique, wonderful purpose in life. For instance, one of my kids was destined to sing. When she steps onto a stage, I cry every time.

Creeping Back to Normal

I love this store. Mostly the prices.

I had a serious melt-down, sloppy-cry moment yesterday.

It started out as an ordinary day…morning quiet time, then to my desk to write for about three hours, then figure out routine chore-type things that needed doing.

Like grocery shopping. Which I hate.

However … on the tail end of the COVID panic, we somehow made the dubious decision to buy a 4-DR Jeep Wrangler, which has made all things ‘chore’ a delight, since I’m now toodling around Hilton Head Island in a black Jeep with oversize wheels/tires with no top or doors. This has changed my life for the better all around. Did you know Jeepsters have a ‘wave’? Like the peace sign, only it’s not. When driving a Jeep, one must put a hand at twelve o’clock on the steering wheel in preparation to raise the two designated fingers in a Jeep ‘wave’ upon seeing other Jeep brethren toodling around. Yep. It’s a thing. We are learning all that stuff.

But I digress.

So, breeze blowing through my hair, music pumped up, I’m happily driving to Kroger, which is mid-Island. And I think, well, TJ Maxx is right next door and I might as well go there first. This cheered me up considerably, as the Island has unmasked, for the most part, and it’s not a hideous mask-thing anymore to go shop for clothing, purses, and the like.

I hop out of my Jeep, thinking out of habit … I need to lock it. But no, the doors are off, no need. This also made me smile, and I trotted into the store, twirling the keys around my finger and looking all “Jeep girl.” I pick out a great purse, wander through the rest of the store, pick up another couple things, including a new pair of jean shorts. I guage their size with a sigh, thinking, ohmigosh another piece of clothing I have to take home that I will probably need to return. *I hate returning stuff* just saying. I head toward check-out. Notice the growing hubub at the back of the store.

What do my wandering eyes behold?

I crane my neck to look. “What’s going on?” I ask a fellow crane-necker. He doesn’t know and doesn’t care. I jerk to a stop, pull my cart out of line, and head to the hubub, just for the heck of it. As I draw closer, my heart rate picks up. My eyes moisten.

“It can’t be,” I whisper to myself. I push my cart ever closer, wondering at the mob waiting, their carts filled with clothing. I draw in a breath, and hold it until I’m finally in the center of it all. With a gasp, and a rush of tears, I cry out, “Hallelujah!” Several women, also with tears of relief streaming down their cheeks, give me a smile and a nod. They, too, cannot believe it. I dance to the front of the line and hug the woman checking us in. She laughs.

Yes, it was true. At TJ Maxx on Hilton Head Island … the dressing rooms … are … OPEN!!!

Happy, happy tears.