My most recent book, Praise Is What I Do!: Psalms for the Modern Soul (Volume 1) is a poetry book. It was written as an expression of thanksgiving to God for all of the many blessings with which He has so richly blessed me.
Tell us something about yourself.
Well, I am originally from New Orleans, LA. I am a former Occupational Therapist. I was medically retired after a disabling back injury at work in 1999 after which I develop Chronic Severe Fibromyalgia and Narcolepsy. (There was initially some question as to whether I would be able to walk unaided.) However, God kept me on my feet. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my illness and injury, I was unable to return to that profession. So, I started praying. And, the more I prayed, I believe God’s answer was to begin writing. So, I started writing. I returned to school in New Orleans, but Life got in the way; as it always does. During the period from 1999 to 2005, I survived my injuries, buried my father, helped care for my disabled sister, a house fire and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This is what brought me to Houston, Texas where I now reside. Since my arrival in Texas, I have completed my Master’s degree in Literature and I am working as a volunteer staff writer for my church’s monthly magazine. God continues to provide me with opportunities to write—so, I am writing.
What inspired you to write this book?
When the events of 2005’s Hurricanes Katrina and Rita took place, I had but one prayer: the safety of my family back in both Louisiana and Mississippi. My prayer was marvelously and magnificently answered. God spared all of my family without a single scratch. This was just the latest gift from God in a long line of blessings. My heart was so filled with praise all I could do was write it down. It flowed from me like water rising from deep underground, it was a fountain of praise and I offered it back to God.
How did you choose the title?
I actually the title of the first poem in the book is Praise is What I do. This is where the title came from because it is literally true.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
Actually, I didn’t have any obstacles. God provided the inspiration, the words and the publisher. Let me tell you how it happened. I had already written the book, selected the cover and was preparing to seek a publisher when I got a call from Paula Trump at Your Time Publishing in New Orleans, LA. I didn’t know Paula and wondered how she got my number! Well, as it turned out, Paula’s partner, Paulette Jones, knows my sister, Sheila Dixon, in New Orleans. It seems that Sheila told her friend, Paulette about her sister, Patricia who writes. This is how the process of God’s provision worked for me in this area.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. I was praying for God to give me something to do that I would love as much as I loved being an O.T. I didn’t start out to become a writer. God’s answer to me (during the period of pain and inactivity following my injury) was to write. So, I started writing. Believe me, only God knew I could write. I started writing a story which touched me deeply from my past. My first book, A Question of Choice was the result. It was a self published effort that didn’t sell very well, but continues to be in circulation from Xulon Press.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes. I start my day with prayer. Then, I work at writing like any other job. The hardest part of writing is getting started. The professional writer must keep writing if he/she wants to eat. I keep writing materials in my car, beside my bed, and in my purse. I never know when poetic inspiration will strike so I try to be ready to capture it when it does. Also, I write a minimum of 8 hours a day. I research topics I am unfamiliar with and write about them. This is harder because with poetry much is written from an emotional standpoint initially. I work to distance myself from the speakers in many of my poems, yet still retain a connection that will allow me to tell their story in poetic form.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
Some are based on people I know, some are fictious. I usually use a baby name book and select names based on what they mean biblically.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Yes. I learned that it’s not easy, but with perseverance anything can be accomplished.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I always work ahead, select readers to give me feedback on what works in my pieces and what doesn’t. I am in several writing and poetry critique groups which help me to keep my storylines clean and crisp.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite books to read are the classics. However, I really enjoy science fiction. This has been a favorite of mine since childhood because inside a book anything can happen. You can be the hero or the villain, make war or peace, and define and design a whole universe just the way you want it. My favorite author is harder to answer because I have favorites in every category of writing. In classical work, Edgar Allen Poe and Charles Dickens. In modern science fiction/fantasy, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffery, In Modern romantic fiction, Julie Garwood. And the list goes on.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
Yes. I am working on a volume two of Praise is What I Do, I have completed several of the poems for this edition, but the next one will have beautiful hand drawn pencil sketches done to illustrate each poem.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Don’t give up. Whether you are seeking traditional publishing or self-publishing, don’t stop writing and don’t stop pursuing your dreams of being published.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
This book was written so that those who know Jesus Christ as Savior could pick up a book which offers praises to God, the Father for the gift of His son and to the Lord Jesus for His obedience in coming to die for us on the cross of Calvary, so I would say this book’s intended audience is Christians who want to read a series of modern poems offering honor to God. But, I think poetry lovers of all ages will also enjoy reading Praise Is What I Do.