WELCOME JUDITH, WE ARE SO HAPPY YOU COULD JOIN US TODAY!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have been writing since I was very young, and before I began writing I was probably drawing stories! I don’t remember exactly when I first put pen to paper (or finger to typewriter … that’s how long ago it was!), but I do recall some wonderful moments during high school when I would write and write and my good friend, Tina Evans, who is now an accomplished artist, sketched illustrations for my written work. I have been extraordinarily fortunate to be able to stay in close touch with Tina, and she and I speak of someday reconnecting our creativity and collaborating on a masterpiece.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I’m really “cooking,” I can write about half a chapter a day,
which would turn out to be lots o’ books in a year, if I were able
to sustain that pace. Reasonably speaking, though, I’m not cooking
all the time, and usually I end up completely tearing apart what I’ve
written and editing and editing. So … maybe a year for a short
chapter book? I’m also a rather spotty writer. I tend write what
is yelling and scratching to get out of my brain, and set aside those
projects that are taking a breather from yelling and scratching.
I’ve several items that were on the front burner (really
cooking!) for short periods of time, and now haven’t been opened in
quite some time.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
favorite time to write is first thing in the morning, although I have
sudden bursts of creativity at odd times (sometimes when it would be
quite difficult for me to actually capture an amazing thought …
such as when I’m out riding my horse!). I’ve discovered the art
of dictating into my recorder on my cell phone can sometimes help me
not lose whatever great idea has suddenly seen fit to surface. But,
morning for sure. Morning’s my best time.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
years ago, my friend Rosalie and I made writing “medicine bags,”
leather pouches that we hang on our computer monitors that hold
little items that inspire us – a rock from a favorite place, a
charm, a favorite quote. I like to think some of that positive
energy flows into me when I’m working.
How do your books get published?
began my own publishing company, Riley Press, and thus far all my
books have been published through my own press. However, I was
recently accepted by Anchor Group, and one of my unpublished
manuscripts will soon be released through that organization.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
of what I have written to date comes from flashes of memory from my
childhood, or from things I like to do or have experienced as an
adult. For example, my summers as a child were spent in Michigan’s
Upper Peninsula in a cabin alongside the St. Mary’s River. Much of
my “beach lore” is drawn from those tranquil days. Then, and
now, I was/am an animal lover to the core, and I have a difficult
time not adding animals to my stories (so I do!).
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
hard to say, since I’ve been writing since I was quite young. I
found an old box of my early writing among some of the things in my
mom’s home, and it was great fun reading through it. Some of it I
don’t remember at all; some of it I remember so clearly it’s as
if I were transported back to those days. How old was I? Perhaps
ten or twelve when I actually completed a long-ish story/book. But
prior to that I was writing short pieces and drawing stories,
stapling the pages together in book form.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Oh my, that question could have a loooooong answer, because I like to do a lot of things. I am a horse fanatic and spend a good deal of time riding and caring for my off-track thoroughbred, Silver Blur. I am on the board of a racehorse re-homing organization and help out with some of their initiatives. I spend time with my dogs and cat, with my family, and with church activities. I love to garden, I adore reading, I love the outdoors, I have done stained glass and a variety of other crafts (recently I’ve become interested in needle felting). I have a ton of interests, and Pinterest is a serious distraction. I’m always finding an “I Could Do That!” item when I visit Pinterest (example, needle felting), and before you know it I’ve launched into another project. I can’t imagine ever feeling bored.
What does your family think of your writing?
family has been wonderfully supportive of me. When I finished my
first real book manuscript about fifteen years ago, my husband threw
an “Author! Author!” party for me. My daughter reads what I
write and listens to me ramble about my latest idea, and my dear
mother, who passed away about three years ago, used to be my “go
to” editor. She was wonderful with catching little errors in
English, in punctuation and in flow. I miss her careful touch. One
year my husband gave me for Christmas an audio version of one of my
books, recorded with his very beautiful voice as narrator. That was a
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
how difficult it is—starting, continuing and finishing! It’s
difficult to start because there’s always that, “Where do I
begin?” terror. It’s difficult to continue because, for me,
sometimes I’ve finished the book in my head and I need to have the
discipline to commit it to the written word. Finishing, because I’ve
yet to look back on something I’ve written and not find some
little—or maybe big!—thing that I could do better or could
re-write for more impact. I don’t think I really expected that
when I decided to commit myself to finishing a manuscript I actually
intended to publish. Since I had been writing my whole life it felt
as if it should be easy.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
don’t know how many I wrote as a young person. I wish I’d kept
all that material, because I’ve had loads of fun re-reading the
things I did keep. But as an adult, and more recently, I have five
books that I’ve published to date, plus one forthcoming with Anchor
Group. I also have four semi-completed manuscripts on my computer,
and one manuscript that is about two-thirds of the way finished (plus
several others that are started and sitting waiting for me to attend
to them). My favorite … hmmm … I guess it would have to be The
Secret of Mermaid Island,
probably because it was my first published work, because I love the
photo on the cover, and because that photo is of my daughter’s hand
and I recall with a good deal of pleasure the hilarity that
accompanied capturing that photo. I want very much to turn my
attention back to a novel manuscript that is aimed at a more adult
audience, and I have a memoir that is asking to be written. Time to
get up early and get writing, apparently!
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Read as much as you can. Figure out what you like and don’t like about those works. Practice in your own writing those things that you admire (and don’t practice what you don’t admire!) As another suggestion, I like to listen to audiobooks. I believe an ideal book ought to sound as good to the ear as it looks written on paper, or on the computer screen. I believe reading my work aloud to myself or to others has helped me become a better writer, especially if I set the work aside for a week or so, then pick it up and read it aloud once I’ve let a little time pass.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I have included my email ID in the back of my books just so I can encourage readers to communicate with me if they wish, and I love to hear from them. Most of what I get is a nice boost from readers who have taken the time to tell me how much they have enjoyed my books. One of my favorite things is to run into a teenager or young adult who read my books as a grade- or middle-schooler and remembers them.
Do you like to create books for adults?
don’t see myself ever writing anything that is super scary, super
steamy or super violent, but I definitely see myself writing for an
older audience; in fact, my middle grades books are written under a
pseudonym so I don’t confuse readers (or buyers) who are looking
for a young person’s mermaid tale and instead get a more adult
What do you think makes a good story?
makes a good story is certainly very subjective. There are books out
there some people rave about that I wouldn’t bother opening; there
are books I’ve read many, many times that likely make other people
scratch their heads. That being said, I think any good story
captures and transports a reader, makes him or her think a little (or
a lot!), imagine, experience, step into a character’s shoes,
dislike a character, adore a character, see what the writer “sees”
when s/he is creating the work. In other words, if there is no
emotional connection of some sort with a story, it seems unlikely it
would be good in the eyes of a reader. I’ve read books that
absolutely disgust me, but I would still term them “good”; I’ve
read beautiful works that I couldn’t finish because they just
couldn’t hold my interest. A complicated answer to a good
question. I have a feeling I could write a lot about this one. (!)
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I didn’t have a real focused sense of that, which caused me to begin college as a no preference major and float a bit before finally completing my degree in English lit. I always sort of assumed I would have a career with some connection to the outdoors (I’m the daughter of a forestry professor) or with animals (vet or vet tech), but in the way life has of sometimes offering you opportunities and opening doors while closing others…those inclinations never jelled. Yet, my avocations certainly encompass both the outdoors and animals, so apparently things have worked out the way they were meant to be.