I am a rather private person by nature. I don't go around talking about myself much. I don't really say much about my family either. I really don't even talk about my books very much, which is probably not a good thing.
I guess I'm just not much of a talker.
So, this weekend I feel like I'm back in college cramming for a mostly oral exam, except I can refer to the text book, which in this instance is Miss Peculiar's Haunting Tales, Volume I. I've read through the book and highlighted some of my favorite passages. The top of the book bristles with torn strips of medium blue Post-it Notes marking these highlighted pages. I have something marked to read from each of the six stories.
What I don't have is much to say about myself. What's there to say? I just don't know.
I was born in Northampton, MA, raised for the first fifteen years of my life in Easthampton, MA and then moved with my family to Westfield, MA to the neighborhood where I presently live, only this house didn't even exist when we moved here. Where I live now was only woods with a dirt track bulldozed part way around marking the projected development of this section of Eastview Heights. I hiked here as a teenager, took walks with my cat Sierra and played hide and seek with him in the swampy area where neighbors houses now stand across the street from us.
I graduated from Westfield High School, class of '76. I went to Fitchburg State College for a year and a half as an English major, planning on being an English teacher but balked at doing a lesson plan on video. I do not like being photographed or filmed. I'm not photogenic in the least. So I bailed out of Fitchburg, came home and finished college at Westfield State College (now Westfield State University) earning my Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice.
My employment career includes child care, carpet repair, retail, store detective, campus police officer, campus police night shift supervisor, injection mold operator in a major construction toy company, office product sales and medical secretary. I've arrested shop lifters, shown up in court to testify against them, hauled injured college students to the hospital for stitches in my personal vehicle when they'd refused am ambulance (really- thumb dangling by a flap of skin and you think it'll heal on it's own? Now that is really drunk and dumbass thinking!) I've gone to the state police academy (Framingham and Agawam) for training and continuing ed courses (learning defensive driving, how to talk perps out of their vehicles and get them down on the ground to be cuffed and then into the back seat of a cruiser without losing control of the arrestee). Currently I get patients prior authorizations for medications from their insurances, help people get hospital beds and wheelchairs, walkers, canes, diapers, braces and VNA services.
Throughout my entire life I have written. I wrote my first story about a magical lion in a zoo when I was very young- maybe first grade. I was inspired by the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight that was playing on the radio. I never stopped writing. I wrote short prose and poetry then tried my hands at longer prose. I wrote never ending stories, restarting them, changing them every two minutes, basically working on character development and storytelling throughout high school and into college. In high school I took as many creative writing classes as they offered. Satire was one of my favorite classes and I liked that my short stories in that class made my teacher laugh. I also have kept a diary since I was twelve years old, and write in a journal. When Kelly was three years old I began writing stories for her and my story about teaching children how to cope with the monsters under their beds and in their closets, Monsters No More, was published in an anthology of teaching and healing stories for children when she was four. I co-wrote a magazine article with a friend out in New Mexico that was published in a British teddy bear magazine. I wrote for my high school and college literary magazines, and was editor in Fitchburg for half a year.
As Kelly grew up so did my stories. I basically wrote short stories, novelettes and novellas. One year I decided to write my best friend a book...it ballooned into a 435,000 behemoth- an epic story about three half brothers all in love with the same young heiress. I discovered I really didn't know where to stop when writing a novel! And she never got a copy because it was too huge!
I didn't write a real novel until 2012. Kelly was away at Worcester Polytech. She was instrumental in reviving their arts and literary magazine during her four years there. She and her friend Bethany had done the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word novel in 30-days challenge in November 2011. Kelly wanted me to try it in 2012. So, during March of 2012 I set myself the task of writing a novel in 30 days. I finished in 24 and it wasn't bad. It needed some editing, corrections, grammar fixes and continuity checks- but overall it was a 62,500 word novel and I felt like I had accomplished something in my life.
In November 2012 I wrote another novel, in less than 30 days. Every November since I've written a novel. The least amount of time it took me to write a NaNo novel was 18 days. I thought Kelly would lunge across the table and throttle me for finishing in just 18 days! She was struggling with her novel.
Since then I've written about 15 novels and a lot of short stories, novelettes, and novellas. I've been writing annual holiday stories for family and friends since about 1997. I stopped for two or three years after my mother passed away in 2000, taking her passing pretty hard, but resumed as a way to keep my Dad going. For years and years everyone kept telling me to put my stories in a book. In 2015 I finally sat down and weeded out the stories not connected to novels (several of my novels have a bonus Christmas story with the same characters- like The Archetypes-Shockwaves and Life Skills). When I had them all sorted out I found I had 23 stories- way too many to put into one book. They filled three average sized trade paperbacks! I then did the same thing with my annual "Halloween" stories, or haunting tales. I began writing them in 2012. Collected and sorted, they filled three volumes with some remaining as a start to volume 4.
I entered the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart contest twice- first with Talon:An Intimate Familiarity in 2013 and then The Subtlety of Light and Shadow in 2015. I'm really not a true romance writer, but I was given fairly decent grades for Talon and even better grades for Light and Shadow. But I don't write the kind of romance they're looking for.
I really don't know what my genre is- but some novels and collections fall under supernatural/romance, while others fall under urban fantasy/romance. The Archetypes novels are more sci-fi/action-adventure/romance. Life Skills is contemporary. All my stories have some romance in them- love makes the world go round, so they say!
Through all the years that I've been writing- since way back when I gripped my pencil and wrote words on school composition paper I have striven to tell a story to the best of my ability. I have worked hard to improve my writing and storytelling. And I'm the kind of girl who, when bored one summer when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, read the Merriam Webster paperback dictionary, primarily as a means to learn as many words as I could to improve my own vocabulary! (Kelly has grown up to be an avid reader so her vocabulary is pretty amazing- she and I have entire conversations where we have to think fast and use the rarest word for each word we want to say. Talk about a brain exercise! "I perambulated to the edible goods emporium to purchase a cylindrical container of pasteurized whipping cream for esthetic purposes and delighting the palates of our post prandial dessert indulging dining companions." (Or, in layman's terms, "I went to the store to buy a can of whipped cream to spiff up dessert to make everyone happy.") My husband just shakes his head when she and I get going!
Otherwise, I'm just an ordinary person who prefers to listen to people instead of talk to them. I'm more observant than the usual person because I'm always studying people, things, the environment around me for things I might weave into a story to make it that much more realistic. I like to fill in all the blanks. I like to take my readers on a wild thrill ride through the pages. I'm the author that rides on the cow catcher of the literary express train laying down the track just ahead of the engine. I never know what lies ahead but I keep laying down that track. When I reach the end of the line I just say, "Whew," and shake my head. And I hope instead of "Whew!" the reader says, "Wow!"
And that's about all I have to say about myself. I have a just a few very close friends, a bunch of co-worker friends, a bigger bunch of acquaintances, a little group of writer friends, a very small family, some of whom don't even have a clue that I write. I have one sister and one brother. I have one cousin somewhere and one half cousin somewhere else. I have two brothers-in-law, one who's a musician the other is a cardiologist. I have three sisters-in-law. One who has disassociated herself from the family, one who is the caregiver of my elderly father-in-law, and one I never see. I have no nieces or nephews, but boy, do I have a lot of feline versions of same and one canine one. My parents are both gone. My mother-in-law passed away this past January. I live in a house on the side of a mountain. I collect camels, teddy bears and antique and vintage clothing buttons specialized to charmstrings (for which I have a separate charmstring museum blog). I was editor of and a contributing writer for the Massachusetts State Button Society Bulletin, a 42-44 page annual publication, for 10 years. When I resigned this year no one stepped up to take my place so the Bulletin is no more. Kelly manages the website where any future articles can be uploaded. I'm a Director of MSBS and have been the Secretary for a number of years in the past. I've been the Treasurer of the local button club, Crescent Club since 2007. I was a member of RWA for a few years but didn't renew this year. I'm currently a member of Artworks|Westfield.
Authors who have influenced my writing include Charles Dickens (Miss Haversham=haunting tale), Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes), Alexander Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo- the ultimate revenge book).
Currently I read (and this is directly from my little black book where I list all the books by each author I have in my library)- Carol McCleary, Jennie Bentley (cozy Fixer-Uppers), Stefanie Pintoff, Victoria Thompson (Gaslight Mysteries), Jonathan L. Howard (OMG! Johannes Cabal, Necromancer- Kelly and I are addicted!), Alan Bradley (Flavia novels), Linda Castillo, Andrew Martin (RR detective novels), Kylie Logan cozies), Sarah Graves, Amanda Stevens (Graveyard Queen series), Darynda Jones (Charlie Davidson/Reyes Farrow series), Claude Izner, Casey Daniels, C.S. Harris (Sebastian St. Cyr), Kevin Hearne (druid novels), Judy Clemens (grim reaper series), Tessa Harris, Charles Palliser, Christine Trent, Erin Kelly.
This is me- reader/writer/mother/medical secretary/wife/other people's neighbor/friend and worrywart. I can write about who I am and what I do, but when it comes to talking about it in front of people...well, I'm really not sure I'll have much of anything to say.
Unless I talk about the ghosts.