Stop Those Hiccups!

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

Yes, I have been a teacher in a resource room (remedial reading and math) ranging for grades K-6 (plus one year of teaching a deaf kindergarten student) since 1988, but have only taught 5th- and 6th-grade since 1997. I have enjoyed the job, but am looking forward to retiring in about 4 years.

Do your novels carry a message?

Yes; I want to be known as an author who helps to educate the readers. This is my first published book. It mentions several old wives’ tales about how to stop hiccups, and gives the REAL way to stop them at the end. 🙂  There is an informational page at the end of the story about why we have hiccups and why remedies stop them; plus a fun trivia fact.

I wrote a novel about an 11-year old girl who is trying to find a new job in order to get out of running a paper route with her family. This story gives information about working a paper route, plus also mentions helping others, being a best friend to a grandma, and working together for a goal. The final message will be that serving others rewards you in the end.

Next, I want to share information that I know about having friends that are deaf in a story somehow. I’d like to tell of a group of teens that are helping a deaf peer attend their high school after being at a school for the deaf until recently.

Do you keep a diary? Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

Yes; and I have, many times. I think we all have learned lessons over the years from our struggles, and I enjoy reading how others’ struggles have made them better people. The funny thing is that I have been writing loooong entries into my journal since I was a teenager, plus I send out weekly emails to friends and family of what is happening in my life (including sending a copy to myself, so I can then add more detail and then print it out as part of my journal); so I feel as if I already have written my autobiography. One day I may feel like condensing it all down into a book, though.

If you had to rewrite any of the novels out there, which one would you choose?

I actually already began to rewrite Cinderella (along with several other story starters) because it has been written so many times, and has such a common theme. But I’m writing it in a present time situation.

How many children do you have? Do you see any young writers in any of them?

I had boy/girl twins, then divorced and married again to a man with 4 kids, and then we had 2 more. We have 8 total children, but don’t see my step kids very much. I don’t see any of them as writers, but it could happen with some of my grand kids…

What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book?

Wizard of Oz. It is just my favorite movie. I never read the real story that it was based on until about 15 years ago; it is so interesting and different from the movie that I like to have my class read it so we can compare and contrast the book to the movie at the end of the year.

How do you think concepts such as Kindle and e-books have changed the present use of reading?

I’m old, and those have been strange new concepts for me, but I’m learning. I’ve only read 2 e-books on my Kindle, but enjoyed the fact that it was lighter to hold and just as easy to take with me. I could switch to games for my grand kids on the same device.

Kids of all ages are used to having electronics in their hands. I love that there are educational apps and games. Our school uses a program with headphones which helps students to be taught individually for reading and math. There have been more people of all ages bringing tablets to church or using their phones to access and read different types of scriptures, lesson manuals, song books, accessing members’ contact info online, and watching religious video clips. It’s great that the teens are all finally taking turns reading scriptures in class by using their phones, because they don’t have the excuse that they don’t want to pack scriptures around. There has been a problem with teens looking at social media during lessons instead of scriptures, but everyone is trying to adjust to that.

Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novel?

Yes. The novel about the girl with a paper route contains many experiences and traits of both myself and my children (2 of them had paper routes), plus a few character traits of a grand daughter. Here’s an interesting fact: the cover of “Stop Those Hiccups!” was meant to show my daughter, Katie, and her son.

Do you often meet with young writers and discuss their ideas to help polish them?

I teach and edit writing to students. I’m starting to talk to my own kids (who are in their 20s and 30s) and some other teens about electronics at school, and how students spend the rest of their days. I don’t think I can write the story about my deaf boy without a lot of help from teens to make it sound real, since I haven’t been around teens for years except at church. When I checked the book stores to buy a book about a teen, I only saw exciting fantasy books on the shelves. It makes me think that maybe teens aren’t reading realistic stories any more.

A common misconception of authors is that they are socially inept and loners. How do you feel about that?

Speaking for myself, I do feel like a loner, but it is by choice and I like to be in control of doing what I want when I want to, including having quiet time. I am very task-oriented, with many projects and commitments or ‘to dos’ on a written list that I’m always working on or else checking off. I find that I need to tell myself that it’s important to stop my projects and spend time with my friend or family when they want to do something; otherwise, I could spend all day doing projects.

I had a few close friends in grade school, was involved with pep club & attended games in high school, and then was part of a very close group of 8 deaf guys and 5 girls the first 2 years of college. Since then, I became too busy with college (I changed my majors a few times to figure out how to work with the deaf) and then with raising kids to have close friends. I do socialize with people at church, work, and with the committees I was involved with while I taught Girl Scouts and was on the Board of a city youth softball league; but I pretty much keep to myself except for family gatherings (and I LOVE those and reunions) and a few outings with a friend. My husband has health issues, so he doesn’t like to go anywhere but to work.

I know a few others that have written books. We all seem to have our quirks, enjoy some time to ourselves, and spend time analyzing people and situations. We record special moments or reactions that we see for future writing.

Do you read much, and if so who are your favorite authors?

I mostly read romance and scriptures plus occasional historical or ‘how to’ books. My mom got me hooked on Janet Evanovich, and we bought most of the books in her series; I love the casual and realistic attitude in them.  I like Nora Roberts and Judith Michael also. I just cross out some swearing in them. I used to read books during any spare time that I had, but now some of that free time is spent reading social media, or blogs and articles about how to be a better author.

I spent one summer as a teen with my divorced mom. She bribed me with a new Harlequin Romance book (the good old kind that were innocent and predictable) every week if I took all of our dirty clothes to the laundromat and cleaned them. That was a big reward for me! I used to collect discarded textbooks from my grade school and ‘teach’ my brother and his friend; but the friend decided not to come over anymore after a few days, since I made him write too many sentences for talking. As a ‘tweener, my friend and I would often read comic books and magazines that talked about singers and actors. I enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, plus some Encyclopedia Brown books in those days.

Which book is the one you keep going back to again and again?

I have a few:  “Possessions”  and “Inheritance” by Judith Michael, plus “The Conquest” and “Prince Charming,” by Jude Deveraux.  They are each looking pretty torn apart, but I still love them.

Do you mentor?

I do enjoy showing people how to do things. I have mentored new teaches in my building and field for the past 3 years. Besides teaching (which includes writing, and I am teaching them new writing skills as I learn them), I also tutor. I really enjoyed working with Girl Scouts ages 5-18 for about 20 years, but I just couldn’t fit it into my busy life any more. And then I was put into Cub Scouts for about 7 years…

Were you a troublemaker as a child?

Mostly, no. My mom often told me that I was a very easy child to raise. I never have needed to be entertained, since I make my own fun. I used to use the 64 crayons in the box to put into “families’ of similar colors and play with them, as well as playing with my Barbies and dressing up our 2 small dogs in doll clothes. When my younger brother and I had to clean house for my single dad (we were about aged 11 and 8) I taught him a game where we were thieves going to rob ‘houses’ (each room). We always pretended to knock on the door of the room to say we were there to clean their house. The owner was always on their way out for some reason. We cleaned the room and then found a good place where their ‘safe’ was, that we could rob and go to the next house (I will put this into a future story also).

We got along well until my brother was old enough to figure out that he didn’t have to listen to his bossy sister, so then we would fight. I was rebellious and naughty for about 2-3 years during that time (when we were also moved to Idaho without being told first, etc). One time, as we were cleaning smoke off the walls of my mom’s new home, I wrote, ” This room is quarantined” in a large cleaned area of my brother’s bedroom.  He went crying to my mom, and then I had to wipe it all away. Another time when I was mad at him I informed him that there was no Easter Bunny. That made him cry again.

What are the non-fiction genres that you enjoy reading?

I have always loved history (and was so excited to graduate in the bicentennial year of 1976 and have a historical themed graduation), and plan to visit many historical sites. I like to read about events that happened, and true stories of presidents and important musicians, inventors, etc. I do enjoy reading scriptures because I learn from experiences in the past as well as feeling spiritual from the messages. I like ‘how to’ books: how to eat healthy and exercise, a few  years ago I read how to use Twitter, plus how to improve my writing or teaching skills.

How do you think city libraries have changed in the past decade?

My kids used to love going to the library to pick out books by themselves, and then take them home to read and talk about. I was worried about the library having to close down when electronics became big items for youth over the past 5-6 years. But I’m happy to see that they have put several computers in our library with several educational plus fun games to play with; at least the young children cannot access unfavorable sites online by themselves. The libraries still have hardback books to read and research plus newspapers from several cities, storytelling days, etc.

What makes writing this picture book so special?

I’ve been wanting to write picture books for several years, especially when we had 6-7 grand kids born around the same time. I had several ideas, and jotted them down; but I just can’t draw well enough to illustrate it. I spent a few years asking a few people I know or met if they would illustrate a book; but they were too busy with their own life. I was so excited to read in an online class of how to write for children that most publishers have their own illustrators! That sparked the motivation for me to finish my book.

This topic is special to me because for every day after school I’d go to my friend Teresa’s house and she would cook us macaroni and tomatoes. A few times while I was there I’d get hiccups. She would use her proven method to stop them on me: by folding a paper towel in half twice and placing it over a glass of water. I held the paper towel in place while I tried to suck the water through it. It worked every time! Years later, I thought about that and wondered why it worked. I decided that it was because you almost need to hold your breath while you are sucking on that paper towel. I modified it a little bit to discover my own true way to cure them, and wrote a story about it.

Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I always have ideas in my head; some of them have been in the back of my mind for 20 or more years, but now I write them down as I see things or wonder about situations, etc. I tend to just start writing, but then may make a note of something that needs to happen later. I try not to have too many characters nor too much detail; since when I read stories I may have a hard time keeping track of who was who, and tend to skip over parts that have too long of detail about something.

I read that it is a good idea to make an outline of your story, so I am doing that with my deaf boy story.

Do you have a set schedule for writing?

In the summer time, I try to spend at least a few hours or more each day either writing or learning about it. Sometimes I can spend half a day working on a story, and forget to eat. But I am a special education teacher that involves much testing and paperwork during school, so I don’t have as much time or energy to write.

What is the hardest and easiest thing about writing?

The hardest thing right now is getting the courage to finally send in my novel to a publisher. I self-published my first book, and had my novel edited; but it’s pretty scary. It is also trying to not use a passive voice (I’m still working on that, and try to edit myself a few times for just that), and to try to not ramble in my stories with more detail than is needed. I know that I want to use too many commas, and need to learn more about punctuation with semicolons.

The easiest thing is to write about what I love or know about. I love to share my information and past experience with others.

If you could live anywhere in the world, which country would you choose and why?

I used to think that it would be beautiful and relaxing to live on an island, but there are so many big storms that hit them, and probably too many bugs. Ugh! I want to visit Germany, France, Alaska, Hawaii and Australia plus historical sites like Boston, but I am really in love with my small town Idaho. I hate driving in a lot of traffic, and having stores spread out too much. It’s nice to be able to drive 20 minutes for enough stores, or drive 2 hours for events in a big city.

What is that dream goal that you want to achieve before you die?

To get all of our family together for even a day. My husband and I had many great times with our combined 6 kids while we were dating, but then things happened when our 1st daughter was a toddler so that we have only been able to see each other in pieces at a time except for 1 hour one Christmas. We need to get all the kids and 21 grand kids together for a fun day of bonding again.

If you die today, how would you want the world to remember you?

Kathy was a somewhat loner dedicated to her career, family and church. She was honest, fair, giving of her time and money, and always trying to keep her kids involved with gatherings and family traditions. Kathy had a hard time saying, “No” to new MLMs to make money, and so saving money was hard to do. Spending money on trips to family reunions or the Demolition Derby meant more to her than having a big house, stylish clothes or fancy cars. She ate simply, and wore clothes for 20 years because they still fit. Dressing for the day was planned, since she hated to change clothes. Caps were never put on her pens that she preferred over pencils, because they didn’t need to be sharpened. She was horrible with giving or following directions, so Eric was her best friend when he showed her how to use a GPS on her phone.

“Dancing With the Stars” and “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” were the main shows she didn’t like to miss. She had a very hard time feeling love for anyone after her close group of deaf friends split up after college. Kathy was very task-oriented with continuous piles of several projects going at one time (writing, scrapbooking, family genealogist for 3 sides of the family, writing poems, various committees or church jobs) plus trying to keep up with all the weddings and baby showers around the bi-monthly community dance that she was in charge of at the Sr. Center. She loved her God and was not afraid to die, but worried about passing away before she finished cleaning her house or organizing all of her collected notes and memorabilia over the years. She prayed every night for her children to be happy and live good lives, and yearned for them to attend church with her again while she was still alive so that they could feel the love, peace and support from attending. She hopes that her family will continue to keep in touch with each other and remember some of their good times.


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