So remember Mystery Thriller Week? Well, Sojourner McConnell, a/k/a Vicki Goodwin, was the co-founder of that little party which is how I got to know here. She’s also the author of a WordPress blog, “The Page Turner” and has a slew of writing projects in the works. So sit back and I’ll let her tell you a bit about herself and her newest creation, a children’s chapter book called, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas.
BIO for Sojourner McConnell:
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. Sojourner McConnell lives in Winchester, Kentucky with one of her daughters and three of her thirteen grandchildren. She has six grandchildren in Alabama and four that live in Michigan.
Sojourner’s new book is a children’s chapter book, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas which will release June 2, 2017.
Her next book, Blip, is a sci-fi book with humor and intrigue and is due out by December 2017. The Path of the Child, The Power of Forgiveness, and 31 Days of October are available in paperback and in eBook format on Amazon and other retailers. Sojourner brings a taste of strong personalities with a healthy dose of southern charm to her characters.
As co-founder and part of the organizing team of Mystery Thriller Week, she has become fascinated with writing a mystery of her own. In fact, there might be a little mystery woven into one of the two books she is writing at present.
When not writing, she is busy entertaining her Australian Shepherd, Beau. Unfortunately, Beau tends to get jealous when she spends too much time working on the computer.
Synopsis for Who’s That in Cat Pajamas
When the wind brings the cries of children to her ears, Dolcey is spurred into action. Comforting and aiding children in need are her main focus. Welcome to Dolcey’s world. Welcome to a world of magic and endless possibilities. When Emily has a big problem, her family tries to help, but some problems need something special to make things right. In Emily’s case, the special treatment is a visitor named Dolcey.
Book one in the Dolcey series is, Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas? Follow along as Dolcey helps children all over the world as they struggle with real-life dilemmas.
And now for the interview:
What’s your writing background (schooling), backdrop (where you work at writing), and backstory (what you will tell the world when you become famous)?
I have only the basic conventional education. I was accepted into the Alabama School of Fine Arts, but was unable to attend due to family commitments. I have always been self taught and I continue to learn everything that interests me today. I believe there is an unending process of education in life. In other words, you are never too old to learn and excel in something new.
I write in the computer room where I can see the family and interact with them as I write. I enjoy being a part of the household even when I am writing. Doing this has allowed the grandchildren to see me in the writing process. Three of the thirteen aspire to be a writer like Grandma. That is huge to me.
When I become famous, I will tell the world, if you love something like writing, reading, art or music, push yourself to do it on a daily basis; it frees the mind and opens the heart. The more you do it, the more ideas come to you. You are never too old to try.
I believe I love mysteries so much because of Perry Mason books, Nancy Drew mysteries, and Agatha Christie classics. I wish I were able to solve them, but I am one of those people that are always shocked at the outcome. I was so thrilled to work with Mystery Thriller Week. I hoped to help authors, bloggers, and fans find each other.
From where do your ideas come? What inspires you? How do you keep the creative spark going?
Characters come to me and present their story. They tell me what they have to offer and promise to hold my hand as we write it together. So far, none have bailed on me and they have given me beautiful stories of hope and potential for happiness. I am inspired by the survival of people. Everyone has a moment in their life where it could have broken them, I want to share the moments after, when they move past and thrive. That is what inspires me to write.
That’s beautiful, Vicki. So what’s your routine? Do you work out while writing, take breaks, or simply gut it out?
I write from the time I wake up until I go to bed. I am constantly working on something. I blog on 3 blogs, write several books at a time and I research for historical articles that I have published in several locations. I make sure I write every day, so that there is always something on the back burner. Even with the release of Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?, I have several other projects in various stages of completion on my desk.
Do you think writing is a form of therapy and, if so, has it helped you work through anything in particular?
Writing is very therapeutic for me. With all the characters wandering about in my brain writing allows them to work out their story and move on. It also helps me process hurts and happiness from my own past. Although I write fiction, bits and pieces of my own life have come to light and allowed me to give them a better and healthier outcome.
Do you work outside of writing, i.e., do you have day job?
At this time I am not working outside the home. I am focusing on my writing and working on getting healthy. One step at a time, I am making positive and healthy changes in my life. Writing is definitely one of those positive changes.
Pantser or perfectionist who meticulously plots out their stories?
I am by nature a pantser, I was compelled to outline a sequel to The Path of the Child and I found that very liberating and exciting. I have not outlined anything else thus far.
Your perfect day – go.
I wake up about 4 am when the house is quiet and even the dog is not ready to face the day. I go to the computer after putting on a pot of coffee and the images begin to flow, the characters begin to share, and the typos are few and far between. Everyone wakes up in a good mood a few hours later and the dog has breakfast. The rest of the day is relaxing with only the sound of clacking keys and the stirring of my coffee to break the silence. At the end of the day I can say both the word count and inspiration was strong today.
Favorite book? Author? Individual?
Charles Dickens is my absolute favorite author. He is my inspiration and he reminds me that to every life a little happiness should fall. As a writer, I have to find that happiness for my characters and bring them to life for others. With that first response in mind, my favorite book is Great Expectations. My favorite individual happens to be my immediate family. They are supportive, loving, and forgiving. They are my favorite 16 people on the planet. When I go outside the family, I have to say Helen Keller touched me with her desire to overcome, willingness to achieve beyond what was expected, and survive with grace and strength.
What has been your greatest writing lesson? How about life lesson?
Even a woman that did not expect to publish a book can publish a book and have people love her story as much as she did. With that lesson, I can go forward and do it again; even better the second time around. My greatest life lesson has been, no matter what stage you are in life, you can make it your greatest time. Keep opening doors and seeing what is behind them. Expand your horizons.
If you could be a character in any novel, what character would you be?
I would be Mary Lennox, from The Secret Garden. I would find a secret place and allow it to make me into a more loving and kind person. Then I would share that place with another, just as Mary did with Colin.
How many books do you have out?
As of June 2, 2017, I will have two published books and two published anthologies. The Path of the Child, and Who’s That in the Cat Pajamas?; are my two published novels. One is a coming of age book that shows the resilience and strength of one teenage girl and one is a children’s chapter book, which happens to be the first book in the Dolcey Series. The two anthologies are, 31 days of October and The Power of Forgiveness.
Indie or traditional publishing?
I am Indie published. I love the freedom it gives me.
Country of origin?
Three grown children and 13 grandchildren.
One Australian Shepherd, Beau. I also lay claim to the one family cat, Mufasa, that has decided to adopt me as his own.
Travel and if so, favorite place?
I love to travel, I love seeing new places, and old familiar ones as well. My Alaskan Cruise with my sister was a dream come true. I hope to see more of the world soon. I draw from the remoteness and beauty of the area when I need to find a quiet place inside my head.
Favorite childhood memory?
Going to the Smokie Mountains with my grandparents. Swimming and fishing in Deep Creek and having my Grandfather tell my siblings to hold me down so that the clouds did not whisk me away. I will never forget my little brother being chased by wasps as we crossed a mountain top swinging bridge. I have so many memories from when I was only five years old.
Wow, those are great, Vicki. And the final question, do you think writing can save the world and if so, why?
Writing can allow opinions to change. It can open the lines of communication and it can certainly change the world. Thank you for asking me such a powerful question.