FAQ’S TO LIVE FOREVER
Your fiction is really unique. I’ve never read anything quite like it. What was the inspiration for the world you created in To Live Forever?
I couldn’t stop wondering what Meriwether Lewis might do if he were given another adventure. He died mysteriously at the young age of 35. But as America’s first scientist, he could’ve done so much more had he lived.
The only way to give a dead person another adventure is to create it. I didn’t want to write historical fiction, because I would be constrained by the limits of fact. By putting him in an alternative afterlife, I could use historical conflict to create a NEW adventure for Lewis. It was so much fun to imagine what he might do.
Do you know if his family approves?
I’ve heard from several of his siblings’ descendants. So far, they all approve of how I portrayed Lewis. I also have a fan base within the Lewis and Clark community.
There’s really no genre for your fiction. How do you describe it to people?
I call it paranormal/historical/action/adventure, though it really fits within the realm of speculative fiction.
I always tell groups I prefer my fiction and write novels I’ve always wanted to read. My enthusiasm usually convinces more people to buy.
Online, it’s trickier. Readers are buried by choices. Convincing them to try an unconventional novel is tough. Plenty of people have read and reviewed my fiction, enough to convince skeptics that reviews aren’t from a bunch of my friends. Readers also find their way to my fiction through my memoir. They figure I can weave a story, so they may as well give another title a try.
My book club wants to read To Live Forever. Do you have a reading group discussion guide?
Yep! CLICK HERE.
I’d like to buy a copy of To Live Forever. Where can I get it?
Awesome! To Live Forever is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Kobo. You can also request it for purchase at your local library. Independent bookstores can order a requested copy from Ingram.
TO SEE ALL TO LIVE FOREVER PURCHASE OPTIONS, CLICK HERE.
FAQ’S NOT WITHOUT MY FATHER
How did your parents feel about your honesty in Not Without My Father? Did they ask you to change anything? Did they get angry over anything you revealed?
My parents are very proud of NWMF now, but that wasn’t always the case. I didn’t want to write a book by committee, and I figured my parents wouldn’t sue me. They read the book when everyone else did.
My mother stopped speaking to me for a couple of weeks over something I revealed in the memoir. It took multiple people thanking her for allowing me to share that vulnerability before she realized it was okay.
Dad never disputed anything I wrote about him, but he asks me to take out the word goddammit every time I see him.
How’s your father these days? Is he still alive?
As of this writing (September 2016), Dad is very much alive and well. He calls NWMF “The Dad Book” or “The Book About Me.” Because he loves talking to strangers, he now has the perfect entree to strike up a conversation. He goes out every day and sells books. NWMF made his whole life in its twilight. It isn’t often that a child is able to do that for a parent. I’m convinced the book is prolonging his life.
How did you take the photos on your Natchez Trace walk?
I took every picture with my iPhone 5 camera. I worked the images in the Camera+ app for iPhone. Whether the photos reside online or in one of my books, that’s how they came to be.
The pictures were entertainment for me. I had long stretches of time where I was completely alone. Taking photos gave me something to do besides listening to my own loud thoughts. I never intended to include them in NWMF, and I certainly never imagined creating a book of photography!
My book club wants to read Not Without My Father. Do you have a reading group discussion guide?
Absolutely! CLICK HERE.
I’d like to buy a copy of Not Without My Father. Where can I get it?
Thank you! Not Without My Father is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Kobo. Audiobooks are available at Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. You can also request it for purchase at your local library. Independent bookstores can order a requested copy from Ingram.
TO SEE ALL NOT WITHOUT MY FATHER PURCHASE OPTIONS, CLICK HERE.
FAQ’S HARD TO DIE
Did you decide to write about Theodosia Burr Alston to capitalize on the success of Hamilton: An American Musical?
I started working on Hard to Die before Hamilton previewed at the Public Theater ahead of its move to Broadway. I was writing a different sequel for To Live Forever, but she whooshed in and took over the story. She was very loud and insistent. I wrote several short stories to try to get her out of my system, but she wasn’t satisfied.
After several months of grappling with her, I put my intended sequel aside and started working on what became Hard to Die. I’m so glad she was insistent, because it’s the right story at (hopefully) the right time.
Is it also an afterlife adventure?
Yes. Theodosia disappeared at sea at age twenty-nine. For two centuries, stories have swirled about what happened to her. Alas, we’ll probably never know. But her unresolved death gave me the perfect means to create a new adventure.
Hard to Die is quite different from To Live Forever. Why did you change the formula?
I’ve never wanted to craft formulaic stories. I’m not saying they don’t make great reads. It’s more a ME problem: I get bored. I want the challenge of bending my original formula and trying to find new ways to freshen it each time.
Hard to Die took longer to write because of my obstinance about formula. I don’t regret it. Still, it’s scary to give readers something they don’t expect. Some people don’t like surprises. But I’m determined to write what interests me. As a result, I’m passionate about my work, and I hope that passion will flame in others.
My book club wants to read Hard to Die. Do you have a reading group discussion guide?
Yes! CLICK HERE.
I’d like to buy a copy of Hard to Die. Where can I get it?
Thank you! Starting November 1, 2016, Hard to Die will be available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Kobo. You can also request it for purchase at your local library. Independent bookstores can order a requested copy from Ingram.
TO SEE ALL HARD TO DIE PURCHASE OPTIONS, CLICK HERE.
FAQ’S ON WRITING PROCESS
What’s next for you writing-wise?
I have several projects in the works. I Am Number 13 is the sequel to Hard to Die. I hope it will be available by June 2017.
Two other historical figures with unresolved deaths are pretty insistent that I craft their afterlife adventures. Whether they join my ongoing afterlife series or become separate stories, I’m looking forward to getting to know these new characters.
I’m also working on a feminist travelogue about Eleanor of Aquitaine. I’ll do the on-site research during the summer of 2017, and I hope for the book to be available by 2018.
How can I be first to know when you have a new book available?
Sign up for my newsletter. It’s biweekly. I never sell your information. CLICK HERE to opt in and get your free limited edition set of Natchez Trace postcards.
What’s your writing process?
I’m a pantser not a planner. My characters have distinct voices in my head, and they write the early drafts of my novels. I never know what they’re going to do. If I went into it with an outline, I’d miss some of my best twists and turns.
My books always go to dedicated beta readers. I don’t have many betas, but I value their feedback and almost always make the changes they suggest. Once a book comes back from betas, I approach it more methodically. I’m in control. It’s my job to take the characters’ ideas and shape a readable story.
I’m also a streaky writer, meaning I don’t write every day. I wish I could, but my appearance schedule is intense. When I’m on the road, I focus on being in the moment, meeting new readers, and giving the best presentations possible. It’s a very extroverted mode. But when I’m writing, I tend to avoid people and hermit. I want to be alone with as few distractions as possible, an introverted mode. I can’t flip a switch and go from one mode to the other, so I schedule time on the road and time to write in exclusive chunks.
You’ve done a lot of book signings. How do you get people to show up?
First of all, I DON’T DO BOOK SIGNINGS. My events aren’t the usual author event. I never sit down. I refuse to read selections from my books for groups. I don’t hide behind a table or lectern. My appearances are dynamic motivational talks. I entertain, educate, and inspire my audiences. It’s still a challenge to get venues to understand what I do, but I have a growing list of librarians, business associations, civic clubs, conferences, and reading groups who attest to the power of my approach. I’m very grateful for progressive, forward-thinking people who are willing to showcase me and my work. In markets where I’m known, people show up because they’ve heard about my program and want to experience it for themselves.
Do you charge a fee for appearances?
Yes. Libraries pay me through their programming budgets or Friends programs. For conference keynotes, I charge an appearance fee plus reimbursed expenses. Business associations compensate me via their programming budgets.
I don’t charge a fee to appear at book clubs and certain other types of clubs, but I always have books available for purchase. Because I’m my father’s daughter, I’ll even sign them.
What tools do you need for an appearance?
I come prepared with my own laptop and projector. Usually, I need an extension cord for the projector, and I always need a screen. I’m comfortable using microphones provided by the venue.
How long are your programs?
I can tailor a program to any group or event. I’ve done fifteen minute programs and two-plus hour dynamic presentations. My standard library program is one hour, though I adapt to any stated requirement.
I’d like to book you for an appearance. How can I do that?
GREAT! Booking information for different types of groups is available on my speaking tab HERE.
I’d love to purchase a book at one of your events, but I don’t have cash. Can I still buy?
YES! I process debit and credit cards via Square. I always carry change and accept personal checks.
Where can I check your events calendar for availability?
Can I get autographed copies of your books without coming to an appearance?
Of course! Word Hermit Press makes autographed copies of all my titles available through Amazon. To select the book you’d like signed, CLICK HERE.