Welcome, everyone. It was a busy weekend in North America with celebrations of both Canada Day and Independence Day in the US. Saturday hubby and I headed to the Poconos for some antique and vintage shopping. Pete scored a sought after Burl Ives Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer album. Nothing called out to me to bring home. Sunday we enjoyed fireworks at the lake and then Monday a cookout at my brother-in-law's house. Hali is the only one who hated the weekend. Fireworks are so not her thing. Well, onto today's guest. I had the pleasure of being part of her book release a few weeks ago with a spotlight and review of Return to Wylder. On Saturday we'll actually meet at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Eatontown NJ with several other authors for a book signing. Pop over to my Events page for the details www.dvstoneauthor.com/events.html
Welcome to the Fire Maria thanks for joining me today. While I do my hostess duties why don't you introduce yourself?
For a very long time I was a divorce lawyer and my whole identity was tied up in that. I think it was because it took so much effort, money, and perseverance to become a lawyer, that once I attained that status, I embraced it with my whole being. I added to that wife, mother of two amazing daughters, fundraiser for several non-profits whose boards I sat on, and fun-loving friend.
This is so intriguing to me. How did a divorce attorney become a romance writer?
Working as a divorce attorney was fulfilling but very stressful. My clients were at their all time worst, not all of my adversaries were civil, and the court system is not the best place for divorce cases. When I would get home at night, after having dinner and helping my kids with homework, I would generally read romances because they took me away from what I had been doing all day. One night, I decided I’d like to try to write a book. So I did. I had no idea what I was doing and had a lot to learn, but I loved every minute of it. It was the total opposite of what I was doing during the day and it made me happy. It still does.
I get it. Working in the medical field was the same. So much death and sickness reading fantasy was my escape. What interests besides writing do you enjoy? For instance, what do you read or hobbies you have?
I love to travel and now that I’m retired from law and a full-time author, I can do that at any time. My husband just retired as well, so our plans are to do one or two big trips a year. A few months ago, we went to Hawaii for two and a half weeks and our next vacation is an Alaskan cruise. On our agenda is a trip to Croatia and possibly the Greek Islands. In between big trips we will take long week-end jaunts where we could drive. We were just in Old Lyme, Connecticut visiting friends and detoured to Newport. There are so many places to visit in the United States and Canada, that we don’t even have to go abroad – but I do love Europe.
Writing is mostly a solo endeavor but humans need each other for support and help at times, so who are your go-to people?
I have critique partners who I rely on to tell me what is wrong with each of my stories-- whether plot problems, character issues, motivations, etc. After they have helped with those issues, I rely on my two daughters to read the manuscript to tell me how I messed up my thirty-something year old characters with my sixty-something year old experiences. They often tell me so and so would never do that or would never think that. It’s very helpful and entertaining when they are criticizing me. My husband and friends are the ones who cheer me on. They don’t critique, they just support.
Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
I try to get inspiration and learn from every book I read now. I used to have a list of authors who were my go-tos, but with so many great authors and great books out there, I no longer limit myself. Being in a book club, I read books I would never have chosen myself. But after each book, I ask myself if there is something I could use in making me a better writer or making my story a page turner.
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
LOL! I bet there's something but I won't pry. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in the town of Lawrenceville, NJ (near Princeton) and it’s a town full of history, charm, and some really good restaurants – which is key for me. I hate to cook, although I will do it. We live in a fairly quiet neighborhood where I walk (for exercise) and talk to neighbors if they are out and about. There is a park nearby with bike trails, walking paths, soccer and baseball fields, and tennis courts. One of my daughters used to live on the other side of the park, a mile and a half from us. She would always drop by to borrow something, eat over, or just say hi. Now, she lives a half hour away which makes me sad—but I think she’s going to move back. My other daughter lives a mile and a half in the other direction. I could walk to her house, but I usually drive. She has two daughters, and I see her family all the time. I feel like I’m describing Mayberry, except that its in the northeast.
I've been through Lawrenceville and lived not to far north of it near Flemington. It's a lovely area. Do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
Recently my husband and I were in St. Augustine, Florida on vacation. We dropped by an art gallery, because we always do that, and I was admiring several paintings of dancers by Anna Razumovskaya. Many were ballet dancers, but some were flamenco dancers. I fell in love with one painting, but it was expensive and we didn’t know where we would put it. So, we left St. Augustine without it. When Christmas arrived, my husband called me into our little library, and he gave me the most wonderful and surprising gift – the painting of the ballerina. It is now displayed on one wall of the library – along with all the covers of my books which are framed and displayed on another wall (a Christmas gift from the previous year). Everyday, when I sit in that room to read the newspaper or do the crossword puzzle, I look up and see the love displayed through these gifts.
Oh, I want to hug your hubby. What a fabulous present. (And for everyone, Maria sent me a picture and I've attached it below.) If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
I’m not a foodie, so my choice would be milk chocolate. If I could survive on it, I would.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
No contest here. Unlimited international first-class tickets. I’ve been to a few countries in Europe, but there’s so much more to experience abroad. Next stop, Croatia.
Did you ever win something? What?
I won a Mercedes. How lucky is that?
You won a car! That's crazy. What was your first job?
Candy girl at the Greenwood Theater. All my friends worked there, so it was more like a social event than going to work. We ran the place—a small neighborhood theater with one screen. At times, I was also the cashier. The husbands who would come in with their wives always thought it was so funny when they would come up to the window, place their cash on the counter and say “two children” instead of “two adults” when ordering their tickets. A real knee slapper to them – not so much to me who had heard that little joke hundreds of times.
What subjects should be taught in school but aren’t?
Civility, Collaboration, and Personal Interaction
I definitely agree with those. Maybe some of our other guest would like to add to that list in the comments. What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
When we were in Hawaii, about fourteen years ago with our daughters, we went to see the hot lava from the active volcano, Kilauea, spewing into the ocean at night. It was a fountain of fire that lit up the sky before drowning in the sea. It’s hard to believe that such a beautiful sight could cause such destruction, but in 2018, there was a volcanic eruption near where we had been, and magma started breaking through the ground in the Leilani Estates near the town of Pahoa. All the houses in that area are now gone, covered by molten rock.
Maria, thanks again for popping in and sharing my fire. I look forward to seeing you on Saturday too. Before you head out, would you leave some information about Return to Wylder and where we can find out more about it and you? And if anyone would like to read my review of this book https://www.dvstoneauthor.com/dvstoneauthorcom/around-the-fire-with-a-special-book-spotlight-for-return-to-wylder
Return To Wylder
Is it ever to late to come home?
The untimely death of EJ Hampton’s father kills her dream of practicing law with him in her hometown of Wylder. Heartbroken, she now has two weeks to organize the practice for sale. When she meets her father’s millionaire client Dylan Addison, he is demanding and entitled—yet his charisma captivates her.
Dylan is under pressure to renovate the Wylder Hotel before his father pulls the plug on his project. He needs EJ’s expertise, but she is bent on returning to her life in San Francisco despite the fireworks between them.
EJ walks a tightrope trying to balance Dylan’s needs against her own, but doing so is far more complicated when emotions get in the way.
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My love of reading dates back to my childhood when I would borrow at least four books from the library every week. During the summer, I would sit in the house and read, until my mother, totally frustrated, would send me outside to play and lock me out. I always found my way back in. However, I must confess, I hated to write. In every English and writing class throughout college, I dreaded trying to be creative. As a friend from law school so aptly put it, “The reason why we’re here is because we don’t have a creative bone in our bodies.”
Despite my dislike of creative writing back then, I embraced legal writing, and was first published in Volume 5 of the Fordham International Law Journal. My article was entitled “In re Mackin: Is the Application of the Political Offense Exception an Extradition Issue for the Judicial or Executive Branch?” I would advise you against reading it, for you will surely fall asleep.
While practicing law as a divorce attorney, I decided to try for some balance in my life and began writing romance. Thankfully, I found my creative bone. Instead of only drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, I started to spend my free time creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through my contemporary romance novels.
I am a member of Romance Writers of America and New Jersey Romance Writers and have received many honors for my work including the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award, the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers Award, and the NEST (National Excellence in Storytelling) Award. I finaled in the New England Reader’s Choice Contest, the NJ Romance Writers Golden Leaf Contest, The RONE awards, and Colorado Romance Writers’ Beverley contest.
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Award winning multi-genre author and blogger. Fantasy, romance, mid-grade. Nothing better than a campfire, book, and glass of wine. Okay maybe there is.📚
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