Happy day after Christmas. I hope you had a safe and blessed one. I'm sure for many of you the holidays were a bit different. My dear husband and I drove and delivered porch presents in the pouring rain. We waved and moved on. Then came home and had a bit of turkey and the fixings. I know I'm not the only one looking forward to 2021. But, in the midst of all I never want to forget the good things. There's an old hymn that says Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Seems like great advice to me. Come on back next Saturday for my 2020 recap.
Now on to today's wonderful guest. She's a returning friend to the campfire. That's what the fire is all about. Returning friends, making new ones and having great conversations.
Happy Saturday Maria! Let's get you settled in. What’s can I get you this chilly December day? The camp fridge is like a Wishing Well. You speak it, you get it.
Hot cocoa please, with plenty of marshmallows. It’s cold outside.
Have you had any new adventures since we last came together? Or perhaps a fond memory of a past vacation?
I’m definitely not the camping type, but I do love to go to Key West. We have been going every year for 34 years. I love the town with its shops, art galleries, bars with live bands, and restaurants. While there are beaches, we generally relax at the pool at our timeshare located on an old Caribbean Estate, which has lush gardens all around and is just one block from Duval Street, the main thoroughfare. We are also a few short blocks from Mallory Square where there is a nightly party at sunset. We bicycle, kayak, and walk our legs off while there when we’re not lying by the pool reading. It’s a combination of relaxing, exercising, and partying on a tropical island.
Sounds wonderful. I've never been to the Keys, but it's on my list for when we return to Florida after I retire in May. I understand you've been a busy lady, what's been happening in your writing world?
My newest release is “A Song For Another Day.” It’s part of the Deerbourne Inn series and I absolutely loved writing this book. I devoured the series Bible put out by The Wild Rose Press and read as many other Deerbourne Inn books as possible to get the feel for the town as well as the residents. The Inn is located in the fictitious town of Willow Springs, Vermont. I chose a character who had already been identified, but didn’t have a story. His name is Jason Simmons – the shuttle driver for the Inn and weekend singer/guitar player at Finnigan’s, the local bar restaurant. Creating him to be a three-dimensional person was exciting. So, in addition to his two part-time jobs, he is now following his dream to make it in Nashville as a songwriter. In his spare time, he goes to the park, plays his guitar and writes lyrics to his melodies. He’s also a model (how hot is that) since the guy needs to make money somehow, and driving a shuttle and singing at the local bar weren’t cutting it.
I've read several of the Deerbourne books. What a great concept. Getting to know characters and be in a familiar location is very satisfying. They get to be your friends and delving in to the community can make you feel like your going home for a visit. Do you have a tagline? Life Motto?
Learning is a lifelong endeavor. While I’m still, and will always be learning the craft of writing, I recently took a seminar on how to record my own audiobooks. It’s different, challenging, and fun. I bought the equipment that I needed, set up a little recording studio in our walk-in closet, and I’ve been practicing my recording skills as well as editing on audacity. I’m starting with a novella, since its shorter, but will hopefully get to all my books at some point.
Wow! That's a project. Good for you. You'll have to let us know how it goes. Maybe even return for a chat about the process. How long did it take you from conception to publication? What was your time line for writing A Song For Another Day.
It took about a year, but I was working on another project at the same time. My novella, “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz,” which is part of the One Scoop or Two Series, had to be pushed ahead of “A Song for Another Day” because it needed to be ready for publication by the summer. (June 1st)
See, like I said, busy. By the way if anyone hasn't heard about The One Scoop or Two series you should check them out. Because it's never to cold for ice cream. Here's the link to the series
Maria, are there any mentors, authors, or books you would like to give a shout-out to?
My critique partners over the years have been instrumental in pointing out the flaws in my stories or characters. It is so important to work with other authors who know the craft and won’t pull any punches.
That's so true. Sometimes we are so close to our writing that we can't see problems. Literary success means so many different things to different people. What does it look like to you?
Being happy doing what I’m doing, in the time frame I choose to do it in.
Life Hacks for Authors. Do you have any tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others. I’m also interested in how you have been managing your life and writing with COVID-19.
Although Covid is affecting all of us, my daily life hasn’t changed much. Once I retired from the practice of law almost four years ago, I have done something writing-related every day, which is a solitary commitment—so I’m used to holing up in my home office. Some days I focus on marketing, other days I work on my current manuscript, and other days I may read a writing-related book or take a writing course on line. I will never learn enough. Now that I don’t have outside distractions due to the pandemic, it’s even easier to accomplish my writing goals or add to them.
Now the fun questions
If they made a movie about your life, what would the title be and who would play you? “It’s Not All About You” (My husband says this to me at least once a week) Sandra Bullock would win the title role – just love her.
Do you have a special object like a piece of jewelry or keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you? I have my dad’s barber chair and old cash register. He and I had a special bond and although he died 16 years ago, I think about him often. He actually wanted me to be a barber and set up shop with him, but I went to college and law school instead.
Years ago, there was a commercial that talked about a “Kodak Moment.” It’s a moment in time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget. What is yours? My husband and I were exploring the east end of Long Island over a long weekend with another couple. Chris had his arm around me as we stood on the ferry taking us to Shelter Island from Greenport. We both had sunglasses on and were looking towards the island. It looks like an ad for Ray-Bans, but the memory is so special.
Favorite childhood book? “The Secret of The Old Clock” by Carolyn Keene (or any Nancy Drew book)
Last movie you saw? “On the Basis of Sex” which was about Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s early legal career. She had to deal with such discrimination as a woman looking for a job at a law firm in NYC in the 1950s. Although she was first in her class at Harvard Law and then at Columbia Law, no firm would give her a job since it would take that spot away from a man. She ended up teaching law at Rutgers Law School in Camden before she became a circuit judge.
Last thing you googled? Why? Whether the TikTok App was free. (It is) I didn’t want to pay for it, but was considering using the platform in a Christmas story I’m plotting. I thought I should explore it before writing about it.
Maria, thank you so much for stopping by the fire today. I wish you and yours a very happy New Year. Before you go, can you please tell us more about your book and where we can learn more about you?
Song for Another Day https://books2read.com/u/bzjQ7G
Gigi Jenson, an up-and-coming Broadway star, finds herself in Willow Springs, Vermont, for the summer as director of their first annual community revue. This sleepy town is worlds away from her vibrant and beloved New York City, but the experience she’ll gain will be invaluable to her career.
Jason Simmons has lived in Willow Springs his entire life. Working several jobs while writing music, he yearns for a contract to record his songs. The one chance he had to make it in Nashville he blew due to stage fright.
When Jason volunteers to help Gigi with the revue, sparks ignite but their dreams are taking them in different directions. Will their love for each other ever guide them to the same path?
ExerptWith Herculean effort he tamped down his burning desire. “I better go,” he said instead of take me to your bed.
Her eyes flew open, and she uttered an “Oh,” as if surprised—either by his statement or her reaction to his kiss, he didn’t know which.
He swallowed, keeping in the words he wanted to say. “I have an early morning pickup at the airport, and I know you have a lot on your plate.”
She bit her lip, the lip he’d just assaulted with his mouth, and he ached to return.
“Yes. Well…thanks again for dinner. I’ll see you…around.” She bowed her head and walked away, disappearing into the inn as he watched her go.
Had she wanted him to come to her room? If she did, she would have asked. Besides, flaunting that kind of intimacy in front of whoever was watching would be fast-forwarding the rumor mills. She definitely wouldn’t want that. Yet she’d seemed disappointed that he called upon every self-controlling atom he had to pull away from her.
Maybe a good thing. He needed time to think this through, and being in her presence clouded his already murky judgment. They’d just met three days ago. Taking it slow to see what they both wanted was the prudent course. On the other hand, they only had six weeks.
Fast and furious might be the way to go.
Where to find out more about Maria
Author and Speaker
A Song For Another Day
The Sworn Sisters Series
The Blueberry Swirl Waltz