Thank you for wanting to be interviewed by me. It is a pleasure to interview you.
How long have you been writing?
All my life, on and off. Consistently for about fifteen years. Under the influence of Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls I wrote mysteries and read installments to my friends while walking home from grade school. By high school I had drifted away from mystery writing and found an outlet for my considerable adolescent angst in poetry and journal entries. The journal entries (as well as the angst) continued throughout my life but it wasn’t until the late nineties that I took up mystery writing again. I attended writing classes, intimidated by those who found it so easy to produce eloquent turns of phrase during impromptu exercises. It took years to write Murder at the Book Group but Simon & Schuster will publish it in December of 2014. My short story, “A Not So Genteel Murder,” set in Richmond’s distinguished Kent-Valentine House, was published by Koehler Books in January of 2014 as part of the Virginia is for Mysteries anthology.
How long were you writing before becoming published?
Echoing question #1, I could say “all my life” or “fifteen years.” The choice is yours.
What genre do you write for?
Can you give us a one sentence synopsis of your latest book?
Murder at the Book Group: When Carlene Arness dies after sipping poisoned tea at her book group, Hazel Rose investigates and discovers that Carlene’s past is full of secrets, scandals, and betrayals (It’s been described as edgier and sexier than most cozies).
What is the hardest part of writing?
Time management and focus.
How many hours a day do you write?
Two to three hours Mondays through Friday, more on weekends. I think about my stories during my daily walks, often working out tricky plot points and coming up with new ones. I’m looking forward to retirement day when I can write full time.
How many hours a day do you spend on Social Media, marketing?
One to two hours. I expect that to increase once I publish in December.
What social media do you work?
Facebook, Twitter. LinkedIn; I’m thinking of adding Google Plus to the mix. Establishing a balance between writing time and marketing/promotion time is a challenge for most writers these days.
Who do you use to help edit?
I can count on friends, relatives, and Sisters in Crime members to be beta readers; since I signed my contract, the folks at Simon & Schuster have edited my work and they are top notch.
Do you pay a cover designer?
No. Simon & Schuster designed a fabulous cover for Murder at the Book Group. For the Virginia is for Mysteries anthology, John Koehler of Koehler Books designed the cover and he did a great job. With both publications, I had input.
Where are your books sold?
Murder at the Book Group will be sold everywhere: brick-and-mortar stores, IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-a-Million, iTunes, Kobo. The Virginia is for Mysteries anthology is sold at most of the above venues and at Virginia brick-and-mortar stores.
Do you have e copies of them?
Do you start with an outline or just let the characters develop?
A recurring question for writers these days is “Are you a plotter or a pantser?” (Plotters completely outline before they write their novels while pantsers sit down at the computer each day, waiting to be surprised, writing literally by the seat of their pants). I’m not strictly either—I outline, but it’s a very flexible outline that allows my pantser side to have a big part in the process. The truth is that I start out as a plotter, but I tend to take too long because I want the outline to be oh so perfect and so I switch to pantser mode for a while just to get some momentum going. This back-and-forth works for me. (I posted this on my blog in April, 2014)
When finished, do you miss your characters?
Murder at the Book Group is the first in a series and the characters are ongoing (except for the perpetrators). As for “A Not So Genteel Murder”—those characters were pretty bizarre, so, no, I don’t miss them.
Who are your favorite authors?
Susan Wittig Albert, Willa Cather, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Robert Crais, Sue Grafton, Marcia Muller, Anne Perry, Peter Robinson, Joan Smith, John Steinbeck, Paula L. Woods. There are many, many more.
What are your favorite books?
Angel’s Flight, Double Indemnity, East of Eden, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, If Morning Ever Comes, Jane Eyre, Marjorie Morningstar, Pride and Prejudice, The Third Deadly Sin, Traditions, Woman in White. This is by no means a complete list.
Please tell me more about yourself.
I grew up in North Plainfield, New Jersey, graduated from Elizabeth Seton College and Rochester Institute of Technology, and worked as a software developer in Los Angeles for many years. In 1999 I took a break from IT. Fifteen years later I’m still on that break! For a time I owned a computer training business, did web design, and worked and volunteered for non-profits. I served as administrator at the Kent-Valentine House, the setting for “A Not So Genteel Murder.”
When I’m not writing or at my day job I enjoy reading, walking, traveling, movies, British TV shows, and the theatre.
I’ve called New Jersey, Massachusetts, and California home. But these days I live in Richmond, Virginia, with my husband, Glen. We’re “owned” by two cats, Morris and Olive. Morris is a handsome orange and white Manx while Olive is a glam and big-pawed Norwegian Forest cat with a hunting prowess that would have made the goddess Diana proud.
Maria, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks for interviewing me. Great questions!
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