Does writing energize or exhaust you?
This mostly depends of what I am writing. Subject matter or issues of personal interest can be energizing to work on while other subject matter can be more difficult.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Probably distractions of any kind. When I am writing, I like to sit down in my office chair and completely focus on the job at hand. Interruptions can disrupt my thought patterns and make it difficult to concentrate completely.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Not yet! I don’t feel a need to do so and feel this may not be in my best interests. I would prefer readers to recognize my name and/or associate it with my books.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I know a number of local authors – including Todd Babiak, Roberta Laurie, Mandy Eve-Barnett, Alison Neuman, Darla Woodley and Dorian Joyal. I am also a long-standing member of a local writer’s group. Knowing and associating with other writers / authors can be helpful (writers seem to be the only people who understand writers …), motivational, and inspirational. I would have to give credit to my writer’s group for helping me increase my self-confidence as a writer and to give me the push needed to write my first book.
Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I am favouring the second route where I am building a body of work with connections between each book. My first book, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians, opened the door to my writing my second book, The Successful Caregiver’s Guide. As a twice-chosen contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, I have provided them with caregiving-related stories. I also continually freelance write about senior caregiving and other senior-related issues.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Probably hiring a lawyer to review my first book publishing contract. This was an area I knew very little about but I knew it would be important to have somebody more in the know to read through this contract, make sure that all the “I’s” were dotted and the “T’s” were crossed, and that this contract was fair for me.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Many years ago when I was much younger, I remember writing a letter to the Editor of the Edmonton Journal about my lost dog being found and returned. Unbeknownst to me, my mother kept a copy of that letter until she passed away. When sorting through Mom’s filing cabinet after she died, I came across this letter and was very surprised! The message that I learned here was that if I had impacted my mother so greatly with what I had written, I expect I would have impacted others as well. That theory has been repeatedly verified from my meeting with people at current book signing events … I routinely see nods of approval for my topic choice or hear high praise from those who have read my books.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Hmmm, I think I would choose an owl. My mother always liked owls and shared her appreciation with her children. I admire these birds for their grace and beauty.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Perhaps surprising, but none! While I do know other writers with half-finished book projects saved on their computer’s desktop, the only thing I have saved is a related project I am currently working on!
What does literary success look like to you?
Publication of one’s written work and royalty cheques! Literary success also includes the positive feedback from readers (meaning that they have read your book and appreciated it at some level).
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This depends on the book’s subject matter. With my own works, I drew from my own personal knowledge as a caregiver for both my own aging parents. Researching can also be done by other means … I have “google-searched” on-line (being mindful of both the source and the currency of the information provided), read associated material, and interviewed subject matter experts.
How many hours a day/week do you write?
Due to other working commitments, I often can write for only two to three hours per day a couple of days per week. I have been known to also write in the evenings and/or on weekends, but I usually only do that if I have a tight deadline and need to get something done in short order.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
After serving as a caregiver for both my own aging parents, this area has become very important to me. While I realize that the number of seniors in our country is ever-increasing and there will be a higher demand for the type of information I provide, I also gain immense satisfaction by helping others (who are prospective, new, and/or current caregivers).
How long have you been writing?
I have been casually writing for many years (as mentioned, I think it all began with that Letter to the Edmonton Journal’s Editor about my missing dog). I recall enjoying writing English essays in school and have worked a number of jobs where writing was involved (i.e.radio broadcasting and marketing). I finally stumbled across the Professional Writing program (offered through Grant MacEwan University) and decided to register for classes to see if writing was simply a casual interest or something I should take more seriously.
What inspires you?
Good writing, music, the great outdoors (gazing at a mountain peak, for example), a cleaner and more organized desk and working area, and participating in a writer’s group (where I can receive support and motivation from others).
How do you find or make time to write?
While I do have a secondary job outside of my own writing from home, I have arranged for this work to be part-time. As a result, I have a couple of days per week left mostly open for writing projects. My reduced regular paycheque provides me motivation to chase after freelance markets as well!
Caregiving seems like an odd book subject choice … why did you pick this area to write about?
Thanks for asking! I was a former co-caregiver for my own aging parents (Mom had Parkinson’s disease and Leukemia while Dad had Alzheimer’s disease). By helping and supporting both of them before they passed away, I learned a great deal about their health conditions, my own abilities, and how relevant caregiving has become in today’s society. As a means of coping with Mom and Dad’s decline, I began by writing newspaper and magazine articles about my own experiences, thoughts, and feelings. After my parents both died, I continued to write about this subject – feeling that it was both very valuable to other prospective, new, and current caregivers as well as therapeutic for me. Some years later, I spotted a book publisher’s call out for an author to write a book about caregiving. This got me thinking, “I have the related experience and could probably do this …”. I, very nervously, wrote up a pitch letter to introduce myself and the proposed book (as I saw it …). After some dithering on my part, I finally mustered up the courage to e-mail my letter to the publisher. It’s a good thing I did as I received a very enthusiastic “yes” on my proposal and then a book contract.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am mostly writing in support of what I have written. This means I am continuing to write caregiving-related articles for newspapers, magazines, and on-line markets. While I am not always paid for these articles, I always have the opportunity to provide a concluding bio – this includes my own name, my book titles, and my author’s website. I feel that doing this is a great way to promote my own name and work.
What do your plans for future projects include?
Probably more similar writing. I always have my door open for other opportunities and am interested in a number of ideas: public speaking, collaborating with others, exhibiting opportunities at senior’s trade shows, and so on. Although book authoring can be an extensive job, I haven’t ruled out my writing another book (or more …)!
Share a link to your author website.
(I am also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CaregiversGuideForCanadians/ and Twitter at https://twitter.com/cdncaregiver).
Find Rick at Words in the Park, Spark Gallery, Premier Way, Sherwood Park, Alberta on 29th September
March 31, 2018 at 7:21 am
This is awesome. We have been addressing this subject at work and looking for materials, possibly a speaker so I am off to check out his webpage. Loved this interview … also my Dad is now in extended care and I would have liked to have been a better support before he landed here. But he is great and loves all the wonderful family & friends looking after him.
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March 30, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Rick’s book needs to be read by those who will give care to someone and those who will have to receive care from someone. As that pretty well covers everybody, I believe everyone should read Caregivers Guide for Canadians. When I first read it I cried as I was so glad I had found someone who had gone through similar difficult times and had the courage to write it all in a manner that is so helpful.
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March 30, 2018 at 10:43 am
God bless you for the care you gave your parents, Rick. So difficult and heartbreaking.