Q & A About The Best Girl
Today I will answer some of the questions that came up during my recent book launch events, and via Facebook/e-mail. You may have a question that I don’t address in this post – if so, please feel free to write a comment or send me an e-mail via the Contact page, and I will do my best to answer.
Question: How long did it take you to write and publish The Best Girl?
ANSWER: From start to finish, it took 3 years to write. I started writing part-time while I was still working as an RN, then moved to full-time once I retired from nursing. It took another year to obtain a publisher.
Question: I want to write a book; how can I get started?
ANSWER: This depends a lot on your goals for your book and how much time you have to invest in writing. If you haven’t written before, or it’s been a while, I would suggest taking an introductory course at a community college or writing center to get started. I would also suggest reading as many books that are in your same genre to see how other authors have handled your topic. It will be necessary (in my opinion) to have an outline – even if it changes as you move through your work. Finally, you may have to make several attempts to “find your voice”. For me, once I started writing in the first person, I was off and running. For others, writing in the first person is difficult.
Question: How many pregnancies did Lyla have?
ANSWER: My mom had a total of nine pregnancies: four miscarriages, two full-term stillborns (Stephen and Cecelia) and the three of us. A few years before Mom passed away, she found documentation of Stephen’s burial site. My sister and I took her to see him, and Mom was concerned that he didn’t have a grave marker. She worked with the cemetery to have one made and she was able to visit him twice more before she passed.
Question: How have your brother and sister reacted to the book?
ANSWER: I discussed the publishing of The Best Girl with both of my siblings, and both were, and have been, very supportive. I am not at liberty to speak about their reactions beyond that.
Question: Has anyone in law enforcement read or been advised about your book?
ANSWER: Prior to the book being published, I held two events to “build the buzz” about The Best Girl. I sent an invite to all local police chiefs prior to both events but did not have anyone attend. Since publication, I sent a press release to the same police chiefs but have not had any response.
Question: What was the hardest part about writing the book?
ANSWER: This requires a multifaceted answer.
1) Almost everyone knew Mom as Mrs. Hicks – smart, talented, generous and kind. To write the book, I had to expose Mom’s other side and I worried about what readers who knew her would think as they read about her harshness and her seemingly uncaring attitude regarding the wellbeing of her children. I have now had past friends and coworkers of hers tell me that they appreciated my honesty. Others have told me how much they worried about us kids but didn’t know what to do about it. One person told me he was shocked and said that he wants to remember Mom as the Mrs. Hicks he knew.
2) There are several chapters within the book that I refer to as respite chapters; they reflect a normal day in the life a family. My dad making homemade ice cream, mom playing the piano for her family at Christmas are examples of these. Though the respite chapters allow the reader a break from the trauma and dysfunction, they were the hardest for me to remember, and therefore to write about.
3) The hardest chapter I wrote was what is now called Skunked. This chapter was revised more times than any other. My instructor and my beta readers were astounded that Bernice had let me down, but I had to expose that in order for the story to come alive, to show how deeply it affected me. In the end, I changed the title from Birthday Party to Skunked and addressed it in the Author’s Reflection. Bernice was a rockstar in my life, and that is how I will always think of her.
Question: Did Bernice and/or Lawrence get to read the book?
ANSWER: Sadly, both Bernice and Lawrence, as well as Mrs. Kewatt and Annie Sawchuck have passed away. Just yesterday I received an e-mail from Bernice’s son, David, whom I had lost contact with. I will be sending him a book. Nancy Kewatt has also read the book and remembers it all. I have also sent a book to Annie’s daughter, Jean.
Question: What did I learn from writing The Best Girl.
ANSWER:I learned that writing can play a part in a person’s path to healing. I learned that there were multiple heroes in my childhood, all of which I attempted to pay honor to in my writing. I learned that my childhood was not punctuated by an occasional traumatic situation, but that the whole of it was traumatic. I learned that our survival needs to be celebrated. And finally, I learned that by speaking out about children who are chronically exposed to trauma – putting words and visuals to what they see and witness – teachers, counselors, neighbors, relatives and others can learn effective ways (aside from calling the authorities) to help them.
Question: What are your goals for The Best Girl?
ANSWER: I would like to start speaking at conferences about childhood exposure to trauma, domestic violence and bullying. I would also like to start teaching classes based on the theory of “Writing to Heal”. My ultimate goal is to start a nonprofit that would provide scholarships to women who wish to attend college.
Question: Are you willing to attend book club events?
ANSWER: Yes! But my calendar is filling up quickly so make sure to contact me ASAP to make sure I am available when your group meets.
Question: What will we learn in your next book?
ANSWER: Readers will see a stronger Joan emerge – one that starts working as a waitress, starts to take school a little more seriously, one that starts to take a few risks. Joan's sense of sisterhood remains strong - she incorporates Gloria into almost everything sh does so that Gloria is rarely left home alone. The incidents of domestic violence start to taper off. There is a love story filled with romance!
Readers will also see Mom start to soften, just a little. As in The Best Girl, readers will continue to see Joan rely on various role models for guidance and encouragement to make the best choices for ME. As I start college, I am introduced to a series called Design for Choicemakers.
All of this led to the title of the book: The Choicemaker. Stay tuned!
Thank you all for your support and encouragement! Please comment below or send a message to me via the Contact page - I would love to hear from you!