Tell me about the mechanics of how you write.
I once gave a talk to a fifth grade class about writing; towards the end, I asked them, “What’s your favorite writing tool, and why?” Their answers came thick and fast: “Red pen, because it looks nice,” “Computer because it’s easy,” “Pencil because that’s what my mom uses.”
For myself, I go back and forth between my laptop and red-pen-and-yellow-lined-paper. I type faster (and way more legibly) than I write, but there are definitely times when I think my words come out more expressively from a pen. I do early drafts and smaller revisions online, but later, when whole chapters or the entire manuscript are in play, I use a red Pilot pen on a print copy, with yellow paper for longer inserts. Plus then I can sit in a comfy chair and approach the manuscript as if I were a reader, not a writer.
I don’t write in bed and I don’t listen to music when I write. I don’t have brilliant plot or flow ideas in the middle of the night, but sometimes a solution will come to me while I’m taking a walk. My brain generally sparks better in the morning than the evening.
Do you have a daily word count or page goal?
No, but I do set weekly goals, like “write this chapter” or “revise the first 50 pages” or “get this character from Point A to Point B” or “go back and research X more fully.”
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I try to keep up with my kids and grandkids. My husband and I do things to try to live a good and useful life in this imperfect world. I also do all the usual stuff: eat, sleep, visit with friends, travel, read, work in the garden, bake and cook. Especially dessert—when I’m planning menus for company, I work backward from dessert first.
What are the Seattle7Writers?
Authors have lots to complain about (clueless agents, stupid publishers, shrinking readerships, clumsy marketing, idiotic cover designs, diminishing income), but no one wants to hear about it except other authors. I’m part of a group of Seattle authors who gets together to whine about such things (and occasionally celebrate a success or two). We started with just the seven of us and now there are 86 members.
The best thing we do is to raise money with workshops and other programs for local literacy-related nonprofits who teach writing and reading in schools, prisons, hospitals and transitional shelters. We’ve donated more than $70,000 so far. We also collect books from booksellers, reviewers and our publishers which we donate to homeless shelters and transitional housing units around Seattle, over 30,000 through 2017.
Besides Seattle7Writers, what other nonprofits do you support?
I’m a member and a huge fan of the Washington Women’s Foundation. Other organizations my husband and I support include: