Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest Blogger: Mary Collins

Please tell us about your latest book.
Winter at Naples Island is a romance novel. Anna Marie got pregnant at 17. When she told the father, he ran out on her, saying he didn't want to have anything more to do with her. Her pregnancy shamed her parents and they sent her to live with her grandmother in another town. When she refused to give the baby up for adoption, her grandmother put her out. Anna Marie took her baby girl and moved to the projects in Memphis, paying her rent and buying food with a welfare check. Later she found a job, wanting to give her child the best life she could. Her daughter grew up to be an actress and became famous, giving back to her mother for the years of sacrifices she’d made. However, she couldn’t give her the thing she wanted most…the love of a man. You can go to my website to read the first 3 chapters.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on several new novels and plan to have one finished by the end of summer, depending on my muse. LOL! I’m considering making it a Christian story.

How do we find out about you and your books?

Why did you decide to write romance novels?
I’d like to say I’m an expert on romance, but that would be a huge lie. LOL! Actually it’s the other way around. I’ve had 2 failed marriages and I’ve lost count of the failed relationships. I guess I’m a dreamer and like to play out the perfect romance in my mind. Once, I tried writing a science fiction and the story didn’t come to me easily, so I give it up.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Hardly none…it’s all fiction. If I wrote about my life experiences it’d be so boring, no one would read it. LOL.

When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
Unlike most authors, I never thought about writing novels until about 7 years ago. I’ve always played out stories in my head and thought about writing short stories for magazines, but never thought I could write a story long enough to qualify as a novel. Once I began writing my first novel and found the story just kept on coming, I couldn’t wait to submit it. Since then, I’ve written 8 novels; seven published by Solstice Publishing and one published by Just Fiction Edition.
Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Some come easier than others, taking only a few months to finish. Some have taken a year or longer. I’ve learned through experience not to rush.
Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I’ve tried making schedules, but they usually don’t work for me. Sometimes I go for weeks without writing a word, other times I’ll write a whole chapter without stopping. I just play it by ear.

What is your writing routine once you start a book?
Once I begin a new story, I can’t wait to get everything done and sit down with my laptop. It’s like going on a date or to a party. I want to hurry to be with my characters and see what the night has in store for us.

What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
I live alone and screen my calls. Of course, when my grandchildren call, I forget about my book and make time for them. They’re my priority. I’m sure you grandmothers know what I mean. LOL

What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I go for a drive in the country, work a Sudoku puzzle or hang with friends or family.

What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
Other than money…LOL, seeing people happy and knowing someone is reading my books motivate me.
Where do your ideas come from?
For twenty years, I traveled all over the country with my job. In talking to people, I found everyone has a story and if you’re a good listener, most are willing to share. Of course, I also have a vivid imagination. LOL.

What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
Yes, being a Christian, I feel uncomfortable writing or reading about sex. And I think about my readers. It would offend some.

What kind of research do you do?
When doing online research I usually go to several sources to be sure my info is correct. If I know someone who can give me first hand info, I’ll talk to them. 

Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
Yes, I’m thinking about writing Christian Romance or YA.

Please tell us about yourself (family, hobbies, education, etc.)
I’m the mother of 3 wonderful children and the grandmother of 5 beautiful grandchildren. I graduated Etowah High School, Godsey’s Beauty College, Cleveland State Community College and Branell Business College. I don’t really have a hobby at this time, but enjoy a lot of different things.
Fill in the blank favorites - Dessert. City. Season. Type of hero. Type of heroine.
Fav Dessert – strawberry short cake    Fav City – Memphis Tennessee   Fav season – Spring
Fav hero and heroine – Military

What are some of your favorite things to do?
I enjoy simple things like watching it rain or snow, hanging with friends & family, shopping, working puzzles, watching good movies, reading a good romance story, traveling and much more. I learned a long time ago, it’s not what you’re doing, but who you’re doing it with.

Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
My fav author is Danielle Steel. I have so many fav books, I can’t pick only one.

Who are some of your other favorite authors to read?
James Patterson, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, & too many more to list.

What do you think of critique groups in general?
Good idea. I’ve given some thought to starting one in my area.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully, enjoying my great grandchildren…if I ever have any and counting the millions I’ve made in book sales. LOL

After you've written your book and it's been published, do you ever buy it and/or read it?
I buy copies for family and friends, but after the editing process, I don’t read it again.

Among your own books, have you a favorite book? Favorite hero or heroine?
Casino is m fav book.
What book for you has been the easiest to write? The hardest? The most fun?
Easiest – Out of The Blue     Hardest – My Sister’s Keeper     most fun – Casino

Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
The story comes first for me. Sometimes after writing a story I’ve gone back and changed characters.

What are the elements of a great romance for you?
Couples that fit together, love, faithfulness and trust, romantic setting, correct timing.
Have you experienced writer's block---> If so, how did you work through it?
Yes I’ve experienced it plenty. Once I didn’t write anything for over 2 months. I don’t get stressed over it. It gives me time for other things that I enjoy doing. I think sometimes your muse needs a rest.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Having a fan tell you how much they enjoyed your book.

If you weren't writing, what would you be doing?
Probably sitting on the couch watching TV, Lol…just kidding. I don’t know what I’d do with all my free time.

Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Don’t give up. I sent out a lot of query letters before getting my work accepted.

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