Mary lives and breathes writing and editing. When not working as a writer/editor in her day job, she’s editing novels and manuscripts or working on one of her novels. With Winds of Change as her debut in women’s fiction, New Beginningswill follow this fall with a strong suspense angle. Road to Tomorrow comes up next and continues her small-town series featuring a cast of warm and not-so-warm characters.
“I’ve always read that you should write about what you know. And in a very real sense, I am withWinds of Change. While I did extensive research on Boston, sailing and plant varieties, the ‘what I know’ part came from my heart. Readers will see a theme in my novels – disparate people being brought together and blending to build a new family.”
Pick up your copy at Amazon here.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Mary. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
A: Hi! Thank you for inviting me to join you today. I’ve been a professional writer all my working life. My first degree is in Journalism but I’ve used it in many different ways – freelancing magazine articles and authoring hundreds of analytical reports that cover a wide range of issues and topics. Until recently, I was the editor of a monthly technical newsletter related to law enforcement. Prior to that, I developed a family and caregiver guide for people living with Schizophrenia. I’ve written about many issues, including aging, disability, seniors, active living and child well-being. I love to write about current social issues.
Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
A: Winds of Change came about as a direct result of my daughter having her first non-fiction book published commercially in 2009. When I held her book in my hands it awakened a deeply-rooted “need” to write a novel. I had been thinking about it for years but in 2009 I became very motivated, as you can imagine. I had seen all the work and research my daughter did for her non-fiction work and knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But, things that are worth doing never are.
I wanted to write about a woman my age facing a very uncertain future after the death of her husband and only child in a plane crash. Writing Winds of Change allowed me to explore some of the issues surrounding loss and how people move forward with their lives in the face of such a catastrophic change. At the same time, I explored another loss – the loss of a parent to Alzheimer’s.
The book is set five years after Jennifer loses her husband and daughter and as her father’s Alzheimer’s is slowly taking him away. She isn’t even thinking about dating when she meets Ben Powell, who is the father of one of her social work clients (don’t worry, the conflict of interest is properly resolved). As she gets to know him and sees him dealing with PTSD following many years covering war and conflict, she realizes there is room in her heart for new love.
As one reviewer wrote, “this is a love knot waiting to be tied.” And it really is. There are two couples, one older and one younger and a feisty little boy who is hoping for a father and grandparents who live nearby. I won’t add any spoilers, but another reviewer warned readers to have a box of tissues handy. It had that effect on me a couple of times but I have to say that, overall, this book is very uplifting and inspiring. I believe in strong characters who find their happy ever after.
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
A: After a few false starts, I realized that the novel needed to be very character driven. In the early days, I was trying to force-fit the characters into a very structured plot. After reading Stephen King: On Writing, I agreed with him that life doesn’t follow a script and neither should novels. Once I threw the script (plot outline) away and started letting my characters act and interact on the basis of their principles and values, the manuscript gained a life of its own.
Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?
A: I do have a media kit that includes a short author biography, a head and shoulders photo, a news release, book cover shots and a professionally-produced book trailer. The kit is in the Media Room at www.lakefrontmuse.ca.
Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
A: On October 6, I joined Starla Faye at TwoTalkBooks, a 50-minute radio show out of
. In the
coming months, I will be seeking out radio interviews and local television
interviews. The Circle of Seven Productions book trailer distribution is meant
to help that along. I’m hoping that as the book gains traction I can do signings
in brick and mortar bookstores as well. Los Angeles
Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?
A: I do not have an agent. With the current upheaval in the publishing industry, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find an agent who is willing to take a chance on a debut author. I tried numerous times to attract an agent and then decided that there were better ways to spend my time and theirs.
I have a long and successful track record in strategic communications planning, media relations and public relations, which I am applying to my novel promotions. These days, I believe authors need to create their author platform and demonstrate that they can get behind their books and put them in front of readers. Then, if an agent does become interested, she or he is no longer dealing with an unknown entity. There is proof that, not only is the book a good read, but the author behind it is capable of and committed to finding readers for it.
Q: Did you prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?
A: I did plan a media blitz, which is now in full motion. During the planning phase, I contacted the blog tour company PumpUpYourBooks.com to arrange a month-long blog tour, of which this stop is one. At the same time, I launched an initial review sweep through Jason Rutherford, of AskThePublishingGuru.com and sent out about a dozen review copies based on direct requests. I also contracted with Circle of Seven Productions to produce and distribute a 42-second book trailer, which I storyboarded. I have crafted three news releases based on the target audience and will have launched them to selected media in mid- to late October.
My strategy is to build buzz and traction for Winds of Change over a period of 3-6 months, with the next two novels in the series following right behind as the books gain readers.
Q: Do you plan subsequent books?
A: Two more books in the Look to the Future series are completed. New Beginnings is in the Kindle Direct Program on Amazon, with the paper back version being distributed by Ingram to major retailers around the world. Road to Tomorrow is currently going into layout for Kindle and paper back. All three books were professionally edited. In fact, for New Beginnings I had two paid professional editors!
Q: Thank you for your interview, Mary. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?
Thanks so much for this interview. I enjoyed your questions very much!
Mary’s ebook is available at:
Mary’s print edition is available at Amazon; Barnes&Noble and Chapters/Indigo
After losing her husband and daughter in a plane crash, Boston social worker Jennifer Barrett is rebuilding her life. Finding solace in her work, Jennifer helps young client Mark Powell find work at the seniors’ residence where her father lives. After learning Mark hasn’t seen his father, an internationally-known broadcast journalist, in over four years, she can’t understand how a father could abandon his only son to chase war stories.
When Jennifer meets Ben Powell, she is prepared to dislike him, despite his charm and affable manner. But, when he reveals he’s been battling post-traumatic stress disorder, she realizes he didn’t want to bring his demons home to Mark, who has suffered from clinical depression. As Jennifer gets to know Ben, she realizes there may be room in her heart for laughter and new love.
Lana Fitzpatrick, a close friend of Jennifer’s and a young nurse helping care for Jennifer’s father, is also a widow, raising her young son Danny alone. As Lana gets to know her handsome co-worker, Mark Powell, and sees him bonding with Danny, she finds her heart swelling with love.
As new family bonds form, all discover the power of friendship and love to overcome loss so they can face life with renewed hope.