Interview with Marilyn Celeste Morris, author of FORCES OF NATURE

Marilyn Celeste Morris, multipublished author of Forces of Nature, The Women of Camp Sobingo, and coming soon from Vanilla Heart Publishing, Sabbath’s House, has also published Sabbath’s Room, a supernatural mystery, and Once a Brat, part travelogue, part therapy session about her world-wide travels with her army officer father from her birth in 1938 to his (their) retirement in 1958. Her Diagnosis: Lupus, The Intimate Journal of a Lupus Patient is a non-fiction journey through Lupus Erythematosus and is written to give hope and knowledge.

She is the co-facilitator of the Fort Worth Lupus Support Group, North Texas Chapter, Lupus Foundation of America and counsels newly diagnosed persons and their families about the ravages of systemic lupus erythematosus.

She has taped various radio interviews, such as Artist First, local cable television programs, most recently Sizzlin’Seniors on Comcast Television and is accustomed to speaking to groups on the subject of lupus. Being involved in the military brats communities, the Lupus Foundation and her children and grandchildren are her passions. She has a black cat named Cleopatra, or, rather, Cleopatra has Marilyn!

Marilyn says "Cleopatra is highly neurotic, but I love her anyway." When she can find the time in between her work and her writing work, her family and her involvement in her many organizations, Marilyn is a voracious reader, "reading almost anything," she says, and watching the Discovery Channel and History Channel.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Marilyn! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’m a mother and grandmother living in Fort Worth TX. I’ve been writing almost all my life, in one form or another, but I got started “in earnest” about seven years ago, when my first novel was published.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

I have five books in print right now, and Forces of Nature is my most recent. It’s about what would happen if a tornado and a military plane combined to crash into a crowded shopping mall? Who would survive?

What kind of research was involved in writing “Forces of Nature”?

I had been a “temp” working for a mall management office at one time and drew upon the experience for part of my research for the book. And, of course, I am a Black Belt Shopper.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

I had a choice of about five proposed book covers from my publisher, and I feel I chose the best of the lot.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

Both. I had a publisher prior to Vanilla Heart, my current publisher, and was very disappointed in them. They accepted my first three books with no problems, but when I offered my fourth, they told me I hadn’t done enough sales to justify their taking another book. Not good business, I think. Then I sent the manuscript to another publisher and just about the time it appeared as an ebook, the publisher went out of business. By the time I found Vanilla Heart, I was getting pretty discouraged, but we worked around the issues involved with the former company having published my book, The Women of Camp Sobingo, and all worked out.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

Not long at all. Maybe three months?

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I don’t have an agent. I had one several years ago and nearly lost my mind, running all over the states of Texas and Oklahoma to appear at book events that were not publicized, were out of the way, or in one instance where I was to speak at a writers group, they were not even aware I was coming. Needless to say, we parted company. I decided I don’t have time for an agent to get my manuscripts to a big New York house – I’m getting older by the minute.

Do you plan subsequent books?

Oh, yes. I have several works in progress. A sequel to Sabbath’s Room, called Sabbath’s House; an historical novel, The Unexplored Heart; a vampire book (probably a spoof) and a novel about girls coming of age in the 1950s called Fireflies in a Jar. Probably an ebook, or a very small humorous compilation of newspaper columns I wrote over ten years time, to be called, My Ashes of Dead Lovers Garage Salee, and Other Stories. Oh, and a sequel to The Women of Camp Sobingo, called That Cavanaugh Woman.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I feel at my best in the morning. However, I have done some writing at night when I’m on a deadline of some sort.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

A super public relations firm or person. I lack the promotion gene and when I’m doing promotion I feel like I should be writing.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

I know I need to do some more promotion, but like many authors, I cringe at the thought. I don’t mind doing book signings, or public appearances, or even giving speeches, but I just can’t seem to brag about my books or target the audiences that would like to read them. I find that very time-consuming when I would rather be writing on my wips.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

Yes. Don’t give up. If you have a fire in the belly, step out there and send, send, send your works. Use your rejection slips as evidence that you’ve been busy trying to find a publisher, or an agent.

Thank you for coming, Marilyn! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

Certainly. I have blogs for all of my books and they can be found at:

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