Miss Mae and I were just rocking away in these creaky old porch chairs sharing news while we waited for y’all to drop by. Please, pull up a chair or sit there on the steps. Can I get you a glass of this sweet iced tea? Or maybe some of this tart lemonade?
Whew, *fanning vigorously* it sure has been a scorcher today. Let me introduce you to my friend, mentor, and fellow author, Miss Mae. We first met before Christmas last year and have been friends ever since. She has been so helpful since I started out on this sometimes rocky road to publication. But let’s visit with Miss Mae for a while. Don’t want to keep her sitting in this heat for too long.
RJV: Mae, please tell us when and how you began writing?
MM: ….*brain working feverishly, trying to remember*…I’d have to say what really gave me the ‘bite’ was when I was about 10 years old. Some friends came over on a Saturday night and we wondered what to do. Someone thought of a skit to act out, but we didn’t know what or which parts to play. Since I was an avid reader, I volunteered to write a goodie for us. Thus, “Midnight Horror” was born…LOL…and I discovered I kinda liked trying my hand at creating a story.
RJV: Well, that was certainly an early story and making it into a play, no less. Let me ask you why do you prefer to write "sweet romances" and mysteries? Here, let me refill that tea glass. How about some of these chocolate turtles? My hubby bought them especially for our little get-together today.
MM: .....*accepts a turtle and delicately nibbles before answering* …..I adored Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, all those girly books of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. And I always thought boys were the most marvelous things that walked God’s green earth. Even at such a young age while I read about the exciting adventures of Nancy and Trixie, I yearned to learn more of Nancy’s relationship with her boyfriend, Ned, and about how Trixie and Jim drew closer together. Of course, those stories were “bubble gum” romances, but they palpitated my heart no end! And I think because those stories were so sweet, that innocence conveyed between the characters stayed with me even as I later read more mature books. I choose to write what’s called “sweet romance” (and that term has morphed into a totally different definition, I believe) because I want to create an uplifting world that demonstrates the h/h’s ability to assess each other’s character and fall in love because of the respect they grow to have for one another. They value the person as a whole as opposed to a fleeting moment in the bedroom.
RJV: Y’all come on in, *I motion to the gathering crowd* get you a seat or prop on the rail there. Good thing this is a big old southern veranda and not one of them tiny stoops. Miss Mae is graciously telling us about her writing. Help yourself to some refreshments. Please do go on Miss Mae. Do you think these writing styles are making a comeback?
MM: …You mean the sweet romances? I hope so. The popularity and success of Jane Austen’s books and movies, plus Charles Dickens’s works being adapted for Masterpiece Theatre is, I think, an indicator of the interest growing toward solid, wholesome plots.
RJV: There’s something I’ve often wondered about...nothing too personal I assure you... Would you please share with us, what was your very first paying job and how old were you at the time?
MM: I was 29, and was hired at the School of Architecture on the UT campus. Bad job, and that’s all I’ll say! LOL *She sips her tea then winks and smiles at the folks sitting around listening.*
RJV: Sorry if we touched on a bad experience there. We’ll get back to your writing. How do you feel the writing industry has changed since you've been involved?
MM: I’ve only been published since 2007, so I’m far from knowledgeable about every nook and cranny happening in the writing business. Still, it amazes me at the strides that appear to be developing daily. The latest I’ve heard is reading books on telephones (or is that cell phones? Iphone?). To me, that sounds more like a George Jetson world. (They definitely aren’t the same telephones Nancy and Trixie grew up with!)
RJV: Well that’s for sure. Telephones and computers have come an awfully long way in the past few years. *Several of the visitors nod in agreement.* Do you prefer print or e-books, both personally and as a writer, and why?
MM: Though I’m published both in print and e-book, I prefer print. I enjoy holding my work in my hands, I love feeling the page slide through my fingers. Print books have proven their worth. Not only can they stay preserved longer than a hundred years (try that with a computer disc!), but you can tuck them in any bag and take them with you everywhere you go. They also make excellent gifts for anyone you want to introduce to your stories. They decorate a room when you display them on your shelves, and a stack of them prop up a bed when you’re missing a leg!
RJV: LOL You are a treasure, Mae. Hope we don’t have to do that, but it’s good to know we could. Now would you please let us in on how many books you have available, the titles, and where we can find them? I know all these folks want to find that out.
MM: Currently, I have three titles. One e-book, See No Evil, My Pretty Lady (awarded for both Find a Great Romance Dec. 2008 and MyShelf.com’s Top Ten Read of 2008), is on sale at The Wild Rose Press. This is a Victorian romantic mystery. Also from The Wild Rose Press is a contemporary romantic suspense, Said the Spider to the Fly in both e-book and print. This has won awards for Find A Great Romance June 2009, and for Best Book of the Week at both The Romance Studio and Long and Short of It Reviews. My latest, It’s Elementary, My Dear Winifred, is available as e-book and print from Class Act Books. This is an intense, fast paced action- filled Victorian romantic mystery. All my books, I’m thrilled to say, have received fantastic, top ranking reviews.
RJV: Those are such glowing reviews and wonderful awards. I’m sure they are impressive hanging on your walls. I have read Said the Spider To The Fly and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, please share with us what you will have coming out in the future and where you plan to go with your writing career. Will you stay with sweet romances? Write even more mysteries? Maybe a mixture of both as we’ve seen you have a talent for? Or change a bit and try Gothic or historical or westerns?
MM: I love mysteries and sweet romance, so I can’t see changing. Both See No Evil, My Pretty Lady and It’s Elementary, My Dear Winifred are considered historical as well, and See No Evil, My Pretty Lady has a Gothic feel to it. My newly contracted work from Whimsical Publications, When the Bough Breaks, is a young adult, coming-of-age story. Set in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s it’s more vintage, calling to mind party line telephones, fish-net hosiery, mini-skirts, and 45 records! I’m looking forward to its release later this year. And where do I plan to go with my writing career? That’s an easy question. I’m going to write fabulous, fan-screaming “gotta have” novels, contract them all into blockbuster movies, get giggly rich and retire by the time I’m thirty-five.
RJV: *With a slightly quirked eyebrow and a twinkle in my eyes?* Uh, thirty-five, Miss Mae?
MM: That’s still some time in the future, of course, but I’m quite young. I can wait. *Miss Mae pats her shiny silver coiffure*
RJV: *Shaking my head slightly and hiding a smile* Of course you can, my friend. Is there anything you want to say to your fellow authors and readers and all these nice folks gathered here?
MM: Thank you for your continued support, and I hope I’ve not bored anyone!
RJV: One thing you are not Mae, is boring. LOL Tell us a bit about your new exclusive, group for Sweet Romance lovers.
MM: …. The Sweetest Romance Authors Yahoo Group is a group that author Laurean Brooks and I started. Laurean is a very talented inspirational author, and she and I were discussing how difficult it is to market/promote strictly sweet books. It seemed no matter where we went on the internet to leave a blurb/excerpt, etc.; our posts were always swallowed by the sensual/erotica titles. We wondered why we couldn’t find a group or “spot” that was strictly for sweet books. There are a number of “sweet and sensual” groups where the two classes combine. A rating system is given for those who write at the G-level on up to R. It’s like no one believes sweet is capable of being strong enough to succeed, that it needs the help of “AND Sensual” to even get noticed. Well, Laurean and I disagreed. So she and I started The Sweetest Romance Authors Yahoo group. This is for those who pen sweet romance only. And you’re right, it is exclusive. We aren’t sweet AND Something Else. We’re sweet, period. An author requesting to join must provide a website link, and membership must be approved before acceptance. We verify that you’ve read our criteria and understand the guidelines. We do have readers who’ve joined because they support us, and these may be authors who write “warmer” than we do, but their status requires they can’t market/promote when we go out as a group. Now that we’ve added a chat room, we’re excited to present monthly chats by hosting various publishers, editors, marketing gurus, etc. We hope readers/authors will join us this Thursday evening, June 25, at 8 p.m. EST as our guest will be Janet Durbin, owner of Whimsical Publications. I think they’d want to hear from someone who offers 20% royalties on print books! We’ll also have a scavenger hunt game where the winner is awarded the highly coveted prize of “#1 Sweetie” to proudly display on their site/blog/MySpace page.
RJV: Sounds like a lovely group and such a memorable prize for your guests. Why, Miss Mae, are you alright?
MM: Thank you for the interview, Rebecca, it’s been fun, but my, it’s hot in South Carolina. I do believe Miss Mae must seek out that hammock beneath the magnolia tree and recline her lithe girlish form in an afternoon cat-nap. You keep right on talking, dear. I’ll listen to every word…*yawn, snore*
Well, a big thank you to all for coming by to hear about Miss Mae, her books, and the "sweeter" side of romance. I guess we’d better slip off quietly. She looks as though she’s really enjoying her nap. Truth is I could use one myself.