In this delightful interview with Diana Black, one of the “WOOFERS,” I learned about the amazing philosophy of the women who wrote this book—one that Baby Boomers, as well as others, can surely identify with.
1. I loved perusing your website, with all the references to “dawgs,” etc., along with the paw prints on your WOOF book cover. How did you come up with the concept of comparing Women Only Over Fifty with the cute reference to a dog’s life?
Thanks for your wonderful comments about our website, and particularly for having this WOOFer on the Dames of Dialogue Blog!
Okay, the concept behind “WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty” may be one of those “you had to be there” stories. But I’ll give it a shot…On a girls’ weekend the year I turned 50, a lifelong friend, Carol Proffitt, who is a bit longer in the tooth than me, jokingly made a comment. Heading for a shower she suggested we form a club of women only over 50. I called through the bathroom door, “We could call it ‘WOOF,’ you know, for Women Only Over Fifty?” She howled. I howled. And the deed was done!
We invited Mary Cunningham who eventually co-authored the book and Dot Patterson. Melinda Lyons joined the pack a year later and helped write “Women Only Over Fifty.” We all love dogs and are a bit imaginative so milking the heck out of puns and references to canines was not much of a stretch for us.
2. How did you first come up with the idea of making the most of life after fifty?
I’m of the belief age is a state of mind. HOWEVER, there was a span of time after I turned 50 when I swear all I did was growl about everything and thought at any minute I just might bite someone! I discussed it with my gynecologist who suggested the mildest dose of HRT (which, by the way, I think every WOOFer must make that decision for herself after consulting with a doctor). The cloud lifted and I thought, there IS life after 50! If I had not gone through such a painful emotional patch I might not be such a champion for other women to enjoy every day to its fullest.
3. Are you working on another book right now, and if so, what can you share about it?
At this point we do not have another WOOF book in the works, but are developing tips for WOOFers called “Accentuate the Pawsitive” which will be a download through Echelon Press.
I’m co-writing a mystery with WOOFer Mary plus working on two children’s projects: one is a seasonal chapter book; the other an interactive picture book for young readers.
4. It sounds as though you draw your inspiration for your books from your own real-life experiences. Would you like to share a bit about that?
Yes, WOOF is a nonfiction collection of stories, poems and limericks written from our personal lives. Our thought was, we can’t be that much different from other women over 50. Let’s connect with them on the “get real” level and do it in keeping with our subtitle which is women over 50 are “still puppies at heart.”
5. What is a typical writing day like for you?
I’m one of those wake-up-and-stumble-to-the-coffee-pot-and-then-the-computer writers. Love that early-morning mental mist, before the tasks of the day overwhelm me. It’s gotten easier over the years to grab a minute here and there to edit and jot down ideas.
6. Promotion is a big part of the writing world these days. I imagine that your blogs and your WOOFer club are a big part of your marketing plan. How did you come up with these ideas?
Our publisher, Echelon Press, gave us great guidance. For example, a marketing plan that began months before the release date. It can be overwhelming when an author understands all the opportunities that are available. So after you pick yourself up off the floor, you figure out what works best for you and your personality, do those things and then stretch even further. An author invariably must go beyond his or her comfort zone. There are many books and blogs on book marketing for those who are self-publishing or just want more info.
7. From the positive reviews you have received, I can tell that you have definitely tapped into something that readers can relate to, especially those of us in that age category. Did you feel that you had found your niche when you began this book?
Naturally we hoped baby boomers (of which there are millions and millions!) would relate to our book, but initially we wrote it for us. I think that’s how some of the most rewarding work begins.
8. From your website, I see that you have a wide variety of talents, from designing, illustrating books, to grant writing and songwriting. Did these varied talents appear gradually over the years, or have you always been multi-talented?
That’s a great question. I’ve always “felt” like a creative person, but lived in fear for far too long. Even during my songwriting career, I played the game of writing commercially rather than truly exploring my inner creator. It was not until I turned 50 that things began to “pop.” Once you authentically open your creative heart in one area often times it inspires and frees other talents.
9. What is your most cherished reader reaction from your books?
When a woman buys the book for herself. Oftentimes we buy humor books for friends before we’ll treat ourselves. So at a signing when I ask who the book is for and I hear, “Me!” I want to hug that woman! And I love the way they say it with such pride.
10. Who or what has been the biggest influence in your writing career, and why?
Mrs. Elam. My high school English/Lit teacher. Her dark eyes could see into your soul. And her hands, they were very expressive when she talked. She’d get excited about a book passage and grab her black-rimmed glasses off her face, then use them like a conductor’s baton to engage students with her passion.
11. What part of the craft of writing has improved since your first book?
Another great question! I would say self-editing has shown improvement. Less of the kind that beats the writer up and more of the kind that benefits the writing!
12. The Dames love animals. Do you have any pets? If so, tell us a little about them.
Well, actually Jack and Purrl don’t know they are pets, so I’ll have to handle this delicately or hope they never read this interview! We have brother and sister rescue kitties who are settling in nicely. By that I mean they are finally getting us trained. We’ve had sibling kitties in the past and love their relationships. For many years I had a toy poodle named Pompy who gave me such joy during his life as well as some special material for “WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty.”