Why did you write Secrets Lost?
A few years ago, I was beginning to integrate new philosophies and concepts into my life. At the same time, I started writing a novel about my grandparents. Then one afternoon I was sitting quietly after a long beach walk when the idea of the glasses popped into my head. What if I could just put on a pair of Grandma’s old glasses and see beyond the five senses, similar to using 3-D glasses to see beyond the flat screen? What if old glasses could help us see what’s really happening on the planet? I started writing a story that helped me think beyond the five senses. I hope it helps readers do the same.
What concepts and philosophies were you learning about?
An important concept was that inanimate objects, furniture or a house, could be imbued with the energy of their owners or occupants. I read and talked to people about their experiences with spirit guides, intuition, meditation, astral travel, past lives, chakras, emotional absorption, energetic vibrations…There’s a lot to learn.
How did you weave those concepts into the book?
A lot of the scenes actually happened to me or to my friends. The book is loosely based on the winter my friend Jason spent at my B&B and stories he told me about his own spiritual discoveries, but a lot of the story is conjured or rearranged. It’s back to that idea of “what if” this happened or that happened?
So the farm is a real place?
Yes, that’s my barn and one of my llama’s on the cover.
Who will enjoy Secrets Lost?
Secrets Lost appeals to readers who are interested in spiritual or metaphysical exploration. The book is filled with of symbolism and metaphors designed to make readers think. If they’re looking for a quick-read romance novel, or a family saga, this isn’t it. Secrets Lost is about internal conflict, awareness, and discovery. I call them “layers of life.” We can find that awareness if we slow down, quiet ourselves, and listen, it’s really not that complex.
Can you give me some examples of symbolism you used?
Four examples come to mind:
- Thunder and lightning symbolize sudden change the day Morgan finds the glasses.
- The day after Morgan’s father dies, I used strong wind to symbolize change and new ideas.
- Green can symbolize the bridge between physical and spiritual worlds, as when the trees reflect green light into the hay loft while Morgan and Yuri discuss the chakras.
How long did it take you to write Secrets Lost?
Two years, more or less – After I sold the farm, I rented a little cottage on Hood Canal near Port Gamble, WA and immersed myself in writing.
Did you do any research to write this book?
Yes. A lot. But not always the way you’d expect. I wrote about the Ukrainian cave dwellers, then I did the historical research. I was so excited to find that the Christians really did build churches over ancient caves in Kiev. I spent hours online and reading books or listening to tapes or mp3s, researching both the historical and the metaphysical details I was writing about.
During those two years, did you ever have writer’s block?
Never. My problem was, and still is, making myself do anything but write. I got so obsessed with the story I almost lived in it. The scenes and vignettes usually came to me early in the morning and I’d get up and write them as fast as I could. Then I’d rewrite over and over. If I needed to get more creative or clear my head, I’d walk the beach with my dogs and then I’d hurry home to get my thoughts recorded. Sometimes I’d take a pen and notebook to the beach, sit on a driftwood log, and write while I listened to the waves.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I was rejected more than 50 times with my first book. Then I read that some very successful authors had been rejected hundreds of times. I talked with traditionally published authors and learned that they did most of the marketing themselves even though they had a publisher. Now that I’ve self-published two books, I’m helping other authors self-publish, especially eBooks.
Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share?
Two things: Have a marketing plan and know your audience
In a perfect world, writers would write and marketers would market, but the world isn’t perfect–especially with all of the changes in the publishing industry in the past few years.
The first thing I ask an author is, “What’s your plan for the book?” and they usually say “to sell a lot of books?” That’s not a plan.
And Know Your Audience: I talk to authors who tell me that their book will appeal to all adults. That could be true, but if you have a finite target audience, you can put more power behind the marketing.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
There are three things:
a. First, Just Write. A friend of mine, Steve Lorton, wrote for Sunset Magazine. Years ago when I asked him for advice, he said “Just write, about anything, everything, just write.” Best advice I ever got.
b. Second, Show Don’t Tell. That was a big lesson during a writers retreat at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA. Don’t tell the reader it was cold and windy, make her fell the cold air whipping her hair.
c. Another important piece of advice was Read as Much as You Can. I always thought I had to finish every book I started. Then I got a great bit of advice from Nancy Pearl during a reader’s event sponsored by Village Books in Bellingham, WA. She told us not to waste our time reading books that don’t appeal to us. There are so many books to read. She said a writer will read more books if he or she reads what is most appealing and enjoy it more.
Is there a particular author that made you want to become a writer?
There are so many! If I stick with the ones that are alive, and listing only a few, I guess I’d say: Sue Monk Kidd who writes both fiction, Secret Life of Bees, and Mermaid Chair, and nonfiction Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Another is Anne Lamont who wrote Bird by Bird, among others, Pat Conroy, who wrote Beach Music and The Prince of Tides, and of course the poet Mary Oliver, my all time favorite.
Where can readers find your books?
Secrets Lost is available at online bookstores