What else keeps Cappy smiling?
I have been writing, or trying to, since I won a poetry contest in the fifth grade. It was a really bad poem but I was paid $5.00 and my picture was in the local paper. I was hooked.
After I was married, I began to write articles for trade magazine. My children were still in school then and I worked as an interior designer. The piece I wrote dealt with subjects such as the psychological aspects of color decorating --- or more precisely, why it is a bad idea to paint hyperactive Timmy’s room in bright red or orange.
I’m a Southerner who got homesick after moving to Los Angeles in the early 70’s. That’s when I wrote my first column, Alive and Well in Hollywood and sent it back to my hometown newspaper in South Carolina.
That was how I got my feet wet in column writing and I was comfortable in that genre especially when I began to inject more humor in the pieces.
How and where do you write? Do you prefer a laptop or do you prefer writing freehand?
My writing desk sits by a window overlooking a meadow of lush green, especially since we’ve have two months of rain every day! All kinds of wildlife tend to explore that area while I peck, peck, peck at my computer around 9:00 or 9:30 each morning. I tend to get distracted by anything that moves outside my window but I call it creative procrastination.
I write on my laptop because I’m used to it, I guess. I’ve tried to work on an iPad but it’s so tiny that it cramps my style.
What's your favorite part about writing? Your least favorite part about writing?
Hmmm. I am character driven and love creating characters and then letting them go where they want to go and do what they are inclined to do. That, for me, is the most fun of all about writing. I think plotting is my weak link and my least favorite thing. My husband likes to help when I get stuck. He’ll suggest something so outrageous that he leaves me with no other choice but to create something more believable. Sometimes it works.
How do you come up with your characters? Why would readers want to get to know them?
That’s a great question. Sometimes characters simply pop into my head and the more I write about them, the more interesting they become. I hope my creation will appeal to readers and often it does. There have been times when I’ve seen someone in WalMart or the grocery store and that person has something that makes me want to give life to a similar character on paper. It could be the way they are dressed or their behavior that grabs my attention.
I believe the secret to writing characters that people want to read about is to find a universal, identifiable link that readers can relate to. Almost all families are universal in one way or another so that why I often write about my relatives. I exaggerate their quirkiness because I’m a humorist and I like quirk. It’s funnier (and more fun) to write about Great Aunt Gertrude who wears the Platex girdle she bought in 1965 to bed, than to write that she is left-handed but eats her food with her right hand. See what I mean?
I am a terrible marketer. Terrible. My mother once told me that I could sell half-interest in a free lunch, but she was wrong! I love writing and if I skip a day doing it, I feel incomplete, like the proverbial day without sunshine. What I don’t love to do is sell what I’ve written. I do a lot of readings at clubs, libraries and book clubs. I’m a drama queen who loves to read my stories aloud. It also sells books because folks like to be entertained. It’s a win-win but it will never win me a Pulitzer or a slot on the NY Times Best Seller list. But when I do exactly what I love doing, that in itself makes it a huge win-win.
How do you schedule your writing time? When do you write?
It has never been simple for a woman with a family to find the time and space to write. My husband invariably can’t find something he can’t live without and needs immediately if not sooner. Whenever possible, I use the Erma Bombeck method and it works pretty well for me. Any time she was interrupted by family members, she would yell, “I’m on deadline!” I do it too and sometimes it works. I also hang a sign on my closed door that reads, “Unless there is blood involved, do not interrupt me or there WILL be blood involved!” My best time to write is AFTER my husband leaves to play golf and peace and quiet prevails for a few hours.
What are you currently working on? Do you have a new book out?
I write a column for several publications as well as a syndicate, so I work on columns all the time. I am also trying to complete a mystery novel I started writing last year. I’ve never written one before, although it’s what I prefer to read. I’d like to finish the first draft this summer and I have approximately 80K words written on it. I think it will be a terrific book with compelling characters, so I need to buckle down and get cracking.
I want to do a children’s book about a young girl who has a serious muscle disorder and is confined to a wheelchair. She has a remarkable service dog and the book should be entertaining as well as educational with regard to the capabilities of service dogs and how they should be respected when they’re working. I have it all plotted out and I know it will work, it’s just finding time to sit down and write it.
What would you tell a beginning writer who wants to publish but doesn't believe he/she has enough talent?
I would say “Just write.” The more you write the better you become and the more confidence you’ll have in your work. Also, I’d say that all writers feel inadequate more often than we care to admit, so join the club and “Just Write!”
***Thank you, Cappy!
Learn more about her here:
Syndicated Columnist and novelist
2012 Nominee, Georgia Author of the Year
National Society of Newspaper ColumnistsMy website is: www.simplysoutherncappy.com
My blog is: www.simplycappy.blogspot.com