I'm mobile most of the time so I don't have one designated desk. At home my desk is an antique baker's table with white legs and a green tabletop. I try to keep it clutter-free, but inevitably papers or books pile up leaving just enough space for my laptop to slide right in the middle of it all. It's against a wall so when I sit at it, right in front of my face are two student-size white boards. One says "The story I tell myself creates the reality I experience," and the other has my list of inspirational things: write, read, journal, chat with friends, tell stories, sip coffee, bike around town, share, visit art galleries and museums, notice creativity in others, community. Other places where I have temporary desks include Weatherstone, the coffee shop around the corner form my house; Old Soul on Broadway where I host a weekly writing meetup; and ThinkHouse Collective, a coworking community in Sacramento that my husband and I run together.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco, California. I would say the location doesn't necessarily influence my writing as much as HOW I was raised does--I was raised in a conservative Christian household and went to a private Christian school until I graduated the eighth grade and then went to the public high school one mile down the road from our house. After that I went to a fundamental baptist college. Each of these experiences indoctrinated me in very different ways, which I now try to understand and make sense of by writing.
When did you first start writing?
I remember propping up a spiral notebook against my bent knees while I sat under the tree in our front yard trying to write a story. It was before my sister was born, and she's nine years younger than I am, so I must have been in elementary school. I could not tell you what that story was about, but I can tell you that sitting there with my thoughts, looking up at the blue sky through the green leaves is one of the happiest memories I have of being a kid. It was the one place I felt in charge, like it didn't matter what happened to me as long as I could sit there and think and write.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is what I call the "me too" experience. It's when I share something I've written with an audience and someone says, "me too!" because they connect with my story in some way. It's the magic of personal storytelling that happens when people muster up the courage to give a piece of themselves away and it's one of the most authentic ways we create human connection.
What is your writing process?
I write a minimum of 750 words every day using a site called 750words.com. That is where I generate everything. From there I transfer anything I think is usable to a program called Scrivener, which lets me sort and organize my work however I like. Lately I have been organizing by topic: grouping like with like. That is part of the way How To Manage Depression came into shape. I noticed I had a lot of material on the topic of depression and then I gave myself the task of organizing and shaping it to see if it could be something more.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
You could say that I'm a poster child for all things indie. By that I mean that I am a huge proponent of taking charge and going after what I want. I don't do well when other people tell me "no," which is what happens most of the time when an author attempts to get published traditionally. It's an exercise in rejection, and I don't have the patience or the personality to let someone else decide when it's time for the world to read what I have to say. So, indie publishing it is. Besides all of that, I've been publishing an indie literary magazine called Under the Gum Tree for almost three years, so getting into indie books was a logical step.
What's the story behind your latest book?
How to Manage Depression Without Drugs is my personal story of doing just that. Because I believe in the power of personal storytelling, I blog about what's going on in my life, which includes struggling with depression and navigating an MS diagnosis. I started noticing that words like "depressive tendencies" and "so depressed I can't function" were the most common search terms that send people to my blog. It made me think about all the people out there who probably felt as shitty as I felt while depressed--if not worse--looking for help, and I wanted to help. I wanted to put my story in a concise format that would not only be easy to read, but also be more useful than a single blog post. Anytime I share my story, I say to myself, "If this helps just one person then I've done my job." And I hope that this ebook helps at least one person.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Recently I started getting up early so that I could spend at least one hour every day on my own work before I do anything else. I thought this practice would be hard to sustain, but it hasn't been. I've never felt so inspired and accomplished as a writer, and I think that is the way we were meant to experience this life--as creators.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
To be honest I still have a hard time reading ebooks. I am trying to get in the habit of buying e-versions of books that I would usually buy as a print version. But it is a slow process. I actually use ebooks a lot for teaching so that I don't have to lug around huge text books when I am traveling back and forth between campuses.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use the Kindle app on my iPad Mini.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
In addition to my work as a writer, I'm also a teacher and an editor. So I spend my days either in a classroom full of college students or reading client work. When I'm not working, I am spending as much time as I can with my husband who is a film snob and works at a winery, so our down time usually involves a bottle of Zinfandel and an obscure movie. We also love to host and enjoy having friends over for dinner and guests staying in our spare room.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.