Happy new week! I hope you have all your shopping done and your house smells amazing. I'm not cooking on Thursday but Friday. We'll have the usual, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes. There will be a few side dishes. Corn is a must have for my husband. Oh, and pumpkin pie too. I hope you enjoy today's guest at the fire. You know sometimes we have a fire in the fireplace, sometimes in the firepit. One time we had a New Years Eve one upstate. Brr! it was cold but you just snuggle up to someone and pull your chair closer to the flames. Today we're braving the outdoors at a campfire. Please help me welcome today's guest.
Hi, Marla! Thank you for joining us today. Why don't you introduce yourself?
Hello campers, thank you, D. V., for saving a place around the campfire with you! I love the holidays, and this year has been particularly special with the release of my very first book, “The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder.” I’ve been making up stories since I was in grade school but am something of a late bloomer, not getting published until my late fifties. Hopefully, that will inspire any readers who think they’re too old to accomplish their next big dream—it’s never too late!
Nope, it's never to late so many greats got their start. Grandma Moses started painting at 76 and Julia Child was in her fifties when she become a television icon. I bet they all had someone or ones supporting them. Who encouraged you in your writing?
None of it would have been possible without the Friday Night Book Club that started it all. We are four authors who started meeting once a month for wine, cheese and reading each other’s pages for thoughts and encouragement. Two have since moved away, but the momentum is still there.
What kind of books do you like to read and are there any that stand out?
I read multiple genres and find inspiration in all of them. From Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series to Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books, I’m drawn to great characters with flaws and lots of heart. From Raymond Chandler’s lyrical prose to Robert Parker’s blunt but funny Spenser books, I think there’s room for all kinds of writing styles. The one influence on my writing that all of these writers share is a sense of humor.
I love a book that can make me laugh. What other interests do you have?
Camping is something I love to do but living in California, it’s been tough this past year because of the fire danger. A group of us planned to go camping, but the parks closed, so we set up tents in a friend’s backyard instead. Roasting marshmallows around their fire pit was just as delicious, and the bathrooms much nicer, LOL! I also love quilting, gardening and hope to get back to horseback riding at some point in the future.
Oh, that sounds like so much fun. We do a lot of "Driveway Camping". Margo, sometimes people evoke memories, sometimes objects. Do you have a special something?
I have a mug that a dear friend gave me that says, “Trust Your Journey.” It’s been a tough past few years, and this mug makes me smile every morning.
Let's rub a magic lamp. Would you ask the genie for unlimited international travel tickets. Or, never have to pay for food in a restaurant again?
I’d definitely rather have unlimited international travel – if this past year has taught me nothing, it’s that cooking at home can be fun.
What household chore do you dread?
Worst household chore, hands down, is cleaning the refrigerator. I know because I just did it the other day. Taking out all the shelves and drawers – yuck.
And you never know what you'll find growing in that container behind all the other stuff. As a camper, you must play board games. I think it's an unwritten rule.
I love board games! I’m not sure if this counts, but I love a Yahtzee set I have that is shaped like the Tardis from Doctor Who, and the dice have villains like Weeping Angels or Daleks instead of numbers. Cards Against Humanity is hilarious in a big enough group.
We carry Yahtzee too but I'm jealous of your Tardis. What was your first job?
My first job ever was at a fabric store. At sixteen, I think I was the youngest person to ever walk in the place, nonetheless work there! But I’d been sewing since I was about eight, so I loved it. Plus, it was in a mall where a lot of other friends worked, so there was always someone to see or talk to.
I am obsessed with Project Runway and my favorite part is when they go to Mood. For years I've played Where's Swatch? So, sixteen, still in school. What should they teach in school that they don't any longer?
Can they teach common sense in school? Music is something that should definitely be taught in school again. There’s nothing quite like being in high school band. Also, cursive handwriting – why did that go away again?
I'd don't think they can teach common sense. You have it or you don't. Unless time and experience are your teacher. I agree the arts should be in there and such a shame about cursive. It can be quite beautiful. Do you do research for your books?
I do a lot of research, but usually after my first draft. I typically outline my books, so I know the story going into it, but sometimes new ideas come up as you write, and I’ll put a # by that thought, and before I start the second draft, do the research. I don’t like to stop the writing process if I’m on a roll to do a lot of research.
Oh, that's a good tip. How about your characters? How do you come up with names?
Sometimes the characters just name themselves, and sometimes I do a group text and ask my friends for suggestions. Once a poster at the dentist’s office inspired me. You just never know when or where ideas for a name will come up!
Reviews are a big topic in writing circles. What are your thoughts?
I'm just new in the writing game, so I haven’t had to deal with bad reviews – yet. I’m sure I will and will probably muddle through with a glass of wine and some chocolate.
Everyone is on a budget so it's nice to know what others think. What's the best money you've spent on you writing career?
The best money I’ve spent so far as a writer was to pay a professional to edit my book.
Marla, thank you for stopping by the fire. Before you leave would you tell us more about your new book and where to find it and you?
Marla share the holiday's around her house.
The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder
Marla A. White
(per the author rated G)
When Mel O’Rourke traded in her LAPD badge for a spatula, she had no idea baking could be so hard…or deadly.
After injuring herself on the job as a Los Angeles cop, Mel O’Rourke leaves the force battered both physically and mentally. Looking for a fresh start, she moves to a quiet mountain town and opens the Babbling Brook Inn. Excited for her new life, Mel decides to participate in the town’s holiday cookie contest, but her newfound joy goes up in smoke when one of her guests turns up dead in her lobby.
Mel is tempted to attribute the death to natural causes but when another guest dies, her cop instincts kick in. The local Sheriff tells her to stand down, but Mel can’t let it go. With everything on the line, she has to push through her fears to catch the killer before more bodies drop, perhaps even her own.
On a scale of 1-5, The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder deserves a 6.
In this fun, fast read, script writer turned author Marla White shows off her talent for writing crisp, snappy dialogue and creating unique, one-of-a-kind characters capable of invoking laugh-out-loud moment. Just when things are running smoothly, another monkey lands on the piles of wrenches, sending B&B owner Mel O’Rourke off and running—literally if not figuratively. The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder is an homage to small rural communities and those who flock to them—as well as large, Irish families who pass down their traditions—flawed by accident, or maybe not. We hope this story is the beginning of even better stories to come.
Barnes & Noble
More about Marla
Marla White started her illustrious career as a storyteller at the age of four by drawing on the TV screen to help Winky Dink get out of mortal danger, earning her a firm spanking. Deterred by the negative feedback, she studied to be a park ranger instead until she realized it was really a TV show about park rangers she liked, not the actual outdoors.
After a stint working in local TV as an assistant/hand model/ad copywriter and occasionally a camera operator, she came out west. Her first job was working for the producers of “A League of Their Own” but no, the character of Marla is not named after her.
She’s been involved in several award-winning television movies for ABC, CBS, USA, and HBO. Later she became the head of television for Emmy Award winner Peter Tolan’s Fedora Entertainment where she worked on several network shows before turning to write stories of her own. Additionally, she teaches story analysis and story workshops at UCLA Extension.
Appropriately, she found out on April Fool’s Day she’d sold her first book, "The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” to Wild Rose Press, to be released in the second half of 2021. “The Angel By The Tower” is the first of her fantasy trilogy.
Follow Marla here