What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I started out writing in Czech for the Czechoslovak Newsweek biweekly based in New York and for Reporter based in Prague. That was also the only time I wrote in Czech. Later, I wrote for Kaechele Publications based in Allegan, MI. I commuted 70 miles one way to my first professional newspaper job. Once I got stuck in Plainwell overnight after reporting about a dead skunk run over by a police officer-that was the only news the Plainwell City Council had- while a blizzard shut down the freeway.
My next stint was with the Ionia Sentinel-Standard. My writings were as varied as the night sky in the fall. I wrote about everything from mean township supervisors, odors from pig farms, barns at the fair, silk mills worker and haunted bridges. On this trek, I ran into a Czech countryman who ended up at the Ionia I-max Correctional Facility and with an invitation to Vaclav Havel's honorary doctorate ceremony at the University of Michigan.
I worked for the Lowell Ledger in my hometown of Lowell. Since we couldn't get a story about a corrupt police chief in the print, I fictionalized it and put it in my second book: Shifting Sands: Secrets.
My hometown reporting inspired the short stories in the Shifting Sands Short Stories series.
Calvin Festival of Faith & Writing in Grand Rapids which was literary a pilgrimage where I attended a lot of sessions how to write about your mother, so I could complete my memoir. That was in April of 2018. I finished the memoir in 2020. It was originally dedicated to my mother, that's why I couldn't finish it. Once I expanded the dedication also to my father writing got easier.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Most likely a book of fairy tales. Specifically, a story called Golden Fern.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My major writing weakness is getting into the writing zone. Whenever I am done with a creative piece, I take a short time off. But getting back into the zone feels like when the shuttle has to overcome the gravitational pull of the Earth with a huge thrust. I can't find enough thrust to get back in. It literally hurts physically and mentally.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
In my Shifting Sands Short Stories series, the stories are connected by egoistical characters, sometimes by location.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
I make great strides to write in the morning and to market in the afternoon.
Has the publishing actually changed your writing?
My audiences are more defined, but I never write to a specific segment. I keep my writing open with no agenda in mind.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I like flamingos.
What did you edit out of your books? (keep it family-friendly, please)
Nasty language, adverbs, some negative feelings.
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Like I do in Lent, not give up but add. I would add more discipline.
What is your favorite childhood book?
It's that book of Czech fairy tales that I referenced earlier.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
Definitely getting started.
What is the easiest part of your writing process?
The finale, but not always.
A common misconception entwined with authors is that they are socially inept, how true is that?
Not for me. I am very social and I connect with people easily.
When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be an author?
When I won a short story contest in 8th grade.
Who are your biggest literary influences?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paulo Coelho, Charles Baudelaire, Stanley Kunitz, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams.
What's your favorite movie which was based on a book? Why?
The Godfather. Because it's perfect. Author Mario Puzo also wrote the screenplay.
How did it feel when your first book got published? How did you celebrate?
It was an incredible feeling of accomplishment. I celebrated with my husband, Ludek and later with friends and family at my first ever book signing inside the Fallasburg one-room schoolhouse. That feeling repeats itself with each new book. It just doesn't get old.
What is that one thing you think readers generally don't know about authors?
That we are very independent creatures and like to take matters into our own hands, but dependent on the readers.
When it comes to research for your books, are you a hunter or a gatherer? Talk about your research process.
I hunt for specific information because you could research yourself to death and not get anything done. Once I find what I am looking for our, I incorporate it into my writing and move on.
Could you be housemates with your characters? Why or why not?
With most of them yes. However, some like Vadim in the Death Song and Ned in Iron Horse bother me, even math professor Martin in The Temptation of Martin Duggan.
What's your typical writing routine or schedule?
When I am in the writing zone I write around 1,700 words a day or until I am done and can't write anymore.
Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. How do you recharge?
Definitely in nature on the banks of a body of water. I just stare into the water. It's very powerful.
Do you prefer music or silence when you write? Do you have a writing playlist? What's on it?
Which celebrity would you choose to narrate your audiobook?
What well-known author, living or dead, do you wish could be your mentor? Why?
Dan Brown. I like his cliffhanger style. I try to emulate that.
What is your favorite of the six senses (touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, intuition) to write about, why?
Intuition. That's what good writing is all about. You never know what's going to happen next.
What is a favorite location you've written about? Have you visited that place? How did you choose which details to include?
My favorite location is fictive Riddleyville based on a real hometown. I have visited it many many times. I used the flour mills, the silos, the dam, the boat, the hair salon and the store.
Travel back in time (without negative effects for you or the timeline) what year do you visit? Why?
I would love to visit the roaring 1920s because of all the inventions and the dance era and the flapper dresses. It would be kind of like visiting with my beloved historical fiction Silk Nora set in the Silk City Capital of the world- Belding, MI.
What is something about your hero or villain that drove their character, but you didn't specifically tell your reader?
In Death Song major character Vadim is driven by his ambitions and jealousy for his own wife.
Have you ever resuscitated a project you'd shelved? What helped it work better the second time around?
Well, it was Greenwich Meridian Memoir that I literally shelved while I worked on my two books of short stories. I needed to get the memoir out of my system. When I picked up the second half, I was ready to finish it with a new look at the characters- which would be our family members. I re-examined them.
What do the words "literary success" mean to you? How do you picture it?
I picture literary success in several different terms and on several different levels. It's the feeling of accomplishment and hearing that people actually like your books and why. It's also the repeat readers and the synergy among the authors. It would be nice if I could make enough money to cover for a regular paycheck. Often, I think it was meant to be and destiny for me to become an author.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
It's a screenplay based on Greenwich Meridian Memoir and a new book in the Short Stories collections.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring authors?
Write every day. Try different genres. Go to writers' conferences when everything opens up. Do not stagnate. Let your writing be fluid and always fresh.
Please provide links and/or instructions about how readers can purchase signed copies of your books.
All of my books are on Amazon.
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