Today I am honoured to have Maureen Fisher answering my questions and with not further ado I let her speak for herself:
“Many thanks, Bee, for the chance to be a guest blogger on ‘The Bee writes…’. It’s great to be here.
How would you describe yourself in one paragraph?
I find it difficult to be objective about myself, but here goes. I live with my second husband in Ottawa and have two adult sons. After a wildly introverted childhood, I came into my own in my late teens upon discovering I had actual opinions and a quirky sense of humor. I’m resilient, creative, witty, focused, and persistent (some call it stubborn). I’m willing to look inside in an attempt to address my faults, which mainly stem from unfortunate cravings for control and perfection, both classic symptoms of an Adult Child. To describe my interests besides writing, which goes without saying, let’s say I’m a voracious reader, a seeker of personal and spiritual growth, a volunteer for an addiction family counseling program, an avid bridge player, an animal-lover, a Kundalini yoga enthusiast, an infrequent gourmet cook, and an avid traveler. Among other adventures, I have swum with sharks in the Galapagos, walked with nomadic Bushmen in the Serengeti, sampled lamb criadillas (don’t ask) in Iguazu Falls, sat out a typhoon in Fiji, ridden an elephant in Thailand, snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, visited the highest navigable lake in the world (Peru’s Lake Titicaca), and bounced from Johannesburg to Cape Town on a bus called ‘Marula’.
What made you write in the first place?
I’m not one of those people who knew from the moment she sprang from her mother’s womb that she was destined to be a writer. Far from it. I didn’t carry around a pen and notepad to scribble down pearls of wisdom. I wasn’t brimming with plot ideas. I almost never heard snippets of conversation in my head.
Here’s the thing. When I was in grade 7, my mom (with the best of intentions) re-wrote one of my essays to make it less boring. I received an ‘A+’ for her efforts. After that, we figured, why mess with success? Mom wrote another couple of polished pieces brimming with adult humor and wit to round out my primary school writing career in style. I sailed into high school with high marks and low self-esteem. Feeling like a total fraud, I made no attempt to write another creative word outside of technical reports for several decades.
Fast forward many years. After a century in the consulting world, wearing snappy power suits, squeezing into panty hose, and fighting rush hour traffic lost its appeal. I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but was certain it wasn’t a consultant. With the help of an energy healer, I made a life-changing decision. I would write books. Not dry, boring, technical treatises, but fresh, funny romantic suspense novels. How hard could it be? Thousands of authors did it every year.
Always an over-achiever, I attended a one-week seminar on writing a novel, read a couple of how-to books, joined Romance Writers of America, and plunged right in. Learning can be a humbling experience. After countless workshops, six-re-writes, twenty-five rejections, several tons of chocolate, and two first-prize wins, I sold my first book. Now self-published, I have a third book underway,.
Which author has influenced you and why?
I’m not sure I can identify only one. I love gothic thrillers and ghost stories written by Barbara Michaels, a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters, the entire Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, also Lady of Hay, a classic time travel written by Barbara Erskine. For humor, Janet Evanovitch and Dave Barry tickle my funny bone. When it comes to romance, nothing beats Jill Shalvis, Nora Roberts, or Kristan Higgins.
But Diana Gabaldon had a hands-on and direct influence on my first book. I signed up with her for a Blue Pencil session at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. The person preceding me was a no-show, so I scored a double session, twenty-five minutes, of Diana’s undivided attention. She read my entire first chapter, laughed in all the right places, said I had a knack for writing humor, and made several helpful suggestions to improve my work and tighten the suspense. Wow!
Your writing ritual (if you have one)?
I highly recommend establishing a writing ritual. I don’t have one. I keep forgetting to do all those things I know I should do, like lighting a candle, meditating, reciting affirmations, and the like. I do my best writing first thing in the morning and only after scarfing down breakfast (could that be my ritual?). Unfortunately, I also do my best exercise early in the morning. Creativity versus Health. Big conflict. If writing wins over exercise, I usually stay at the keyboard until I’m hungry again. Sometimes that occurs within a few minutes.
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if, what do you do against it?
Whenever I encounter writers’ block—and I do, more often than I’m willing to admit—it’s because my subconscious is warning me that something is wrong. The wrongness may involve anything—premise, plot, structure, characters, you name it. Invariably, my two ugly step-sisters, Perfectionism and Self-Criticism, kick in to make matters worse. I then turn to Twitter and Facebook, my favorite avoidance mechanisms, telling myself I’m doing necessary book promotion.
What amazing solutions have I formulated to combat writers’ block?
· Talk the problem through with someone, anyone, preferably my critique group, but any willing victim … er … volunteer will do—my husband, a friend, the neighbor’s dog. Hearing myself talk is often enough to discover the answer.
· Take a shower. Believe it or not, this often works. There’s scientific proof that running water generates negative ions, which, when we inhale them, zap into the bloodstream and hence the brain, producing biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to increase creativity and other good things such as alleviating depression, relieving stress, and boosting energy. A walk near the ocean or a waterfall has the same effect.
· Sleep on the problem after politely asking my subconscious to come up with the answer. As often as not, I wake up with a different perspective on the issue.
· Take a stab at addressing the problem on paper. I always create a brand new document, perhaps because I don’t want to taint my WIP with feverish wanderings. First, I describe the problem using a stream-of-consciousness technique. Next, I start writing the section that’s causing me grief. I often begin with, “I don’t have a clue what I want to say here …” and keep on going until the words start to flow.
· When all else fails, eat chocolate.
Your advice for apprentice writers?
· Learn your craft. Attend workshops and writers’ conferences, take classes (there are lots of great online courses), read how-to books, join a writers’ group.
· Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. Join a critique group. Enter contests for the valuable critique they provide. Learn from your mistakes and keep on writing.
· If you decide to self-publish, do NOT throw your book out there without hiring both an editor and a professional cover designer.
· Develop a thick skin. Don’t give up because of rejections or stinging critiques. Keep on writing.
· Eat chocolate.
· Persistence, persistence, persistence. Did I mention keep on writing?”
Dear Maureen, thank you so much for being a guest on “The Bee Writes…” and for letting us have a peek into your writing experience!
Maureen Fisher’s Books
THE JAGUAR LEGACY
A reporter on a mission to salvage her career & save her mother’s life …
With her reputation in tatters, acclaimed journalist Charley Underhill invades a remote archaeological dig, determined to unravel rumors of an ancient curse. If it means avoiding hairy, hungry predators or lying to a charismatic archaeologist with a sexy Scottish accent, brilliant scientific mind, and gaudy Hawaiian shirts, she’s up for the challenge. She needs the money to pay for her mother’s life-saving treatment.
A brilliant archaeologist determined to safeguard his discovery …
Hell-bent on guarding the secret of a ruined Olmec city hidden deep in the Mexican jungle, Dr. Alistair Kincaid fears a premature press leak will destroy his last chance at success. He won’t let a snoopy reporter, even one with a quirky sense of humor, smarts, and a heartwarming smile, ruin his career. Or steal his heart.
But ancient danger stalks the jungle on velvet paws …
Secrets collide as strands from past lives intertwine with the present, drawing Charley and Kincaid into a legacy of danger and murder, shape-shifting and mysticism, romance and redemption. Is history doomed to repeat itself or is a new path possible?
FUR BALL FEVER
An impulsive pet spa owner loses her client’s prize pooch …
After a lifetime of impetuous mistakes, Jersey Shore pet spa owner Grace Donnelly outdoes herself when a client’s prize poodle, a shoo-in to win the annual Fur Ball, goes AWOL while in her custody. With money, careers, and lives in jeopardy, Grace is not afraid to strap on the leather to go undercover in a fetish club looking for clues. Too bad her helpers consist of an aging hippie aunt, a renegade schnauzer, a drag queen, and a dominatrix or two. Worst of all, the only man truly qualified to help is her former flame, the most domineering male on the eastern seaboard.
A smokin’ hot bodyguard with his own agenda …
Texas-born security specialist Nick Jackson faces his worst nightmare when Grace’s amateur investigation nearly blows his covert operation. Unless he nails the con-artist who scammed his home-town’s seniors and whacked a witness, his homicidal granddaddy will take justice into his own liver-spotted hands. To salvage his case, his sanity, and his ex-lover’s velvety skin, Nick joins forces with the sassy crusader who rubs him the wrong way–and so many right ways too.
Together they face an explosion of murder, mayhem, mystery, & smokin’ hot romance …
Action bounces from the upscale Shore community of Saltwater Estates to a beach harboring washed-up corpses, a fancy yacht no honest preacher could possibly afford, and the bawdiest nightclub in Atlantic City. Hazards multiply like bunnies, culminating in fun, danger, romance … and a Fur Ball extravaganza the locals will never forget.
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