Welcome to the Veranda, Marilyn. I'm so pleased to have you!! How did you end up becoming a writer?
I’ve wanted to become a writer since I started reading the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve been writing since I was in fourth grade. My first book was called “East West Island,” which featured my classmates as the characters. My teacher read installments every day in class and all the kids loved being mentioned in the book. I wrote, directed and cast a play in my neighborhood to raise money for the JFK Library when I was 13. From there, I wrote all the school assembly programs, was editor of my junior high school newspaper, feature editor of my high school newspaper, majored in Journalism (Public Relations sequence) and Creative Writing in college, and have enjoyed a challenging career in corporate public relations, which involves writing and editing. I also edit The Galley, Georgia Romance Writers’ online chapter newsletter. Although I’ve been writing in some form all my life, I’ve always wanted to write fiction.
I loved the Little House on the Prairie books! What is your favorite genre to write?
Humorous women’s fiction and romantic suspense, so it was a departure for me to have my first story published by TWB Press, a Science Fiction, Supernatural, Horror, Thriller publisher of novels and short stories.
Wow, you really did jump to a new genre. Are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
I definitely “follow the muse.” I wish I could be a disciplined plotter. Typically, I get an inspiration for the title first and after coming up with the names of the main characters and fleshing them out, I just start writing. As a Public Relations consultant, I create advertising and marketing campaigns, and come up with concepts for brochures, magazines, annual reports and Web sites, so titles and themes are an important part of what I do. I apply that knowledge to my fiction writing.
I read or veg out (and ultimately fall asleep) on the couch in front of the television.
I tend to fall asleep on the couch in front of the television as well! What do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
I read everything from literary fiction and thrillers to romantic suspense. I just finished Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken. I’m currently reading Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants. On my to-be-read pile: Suzanne Brockmann’s Breaking the Rules and Vince Flynn’s American Assassin. Among my favorite writers are Robert Wilson, Daniel Silva, Jayne Ann Krentz and Nora Roberts. Some treasures I have discovered and passed on to other book lovers are Little Bee by Chris Cleave; Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; and The Book Thief, by Australian YA author Markus Zusak. There are just too many good books out there to mention.
We have very similar reading tastes. I love so many of the authors you listed. And yes, there are so many good books out there. Many of them are waiting for me to pick them up and turn the page. Speaking of turning the pages, what is your current writing project?
It’s a romantic suspense called Sixth Sense. The story opens when a psychic predicts the death of the young son of America’s heartthrob in a plane crash and her warning goes unheeded by a ‘by-the-book’ Atlanta police detective. She and the detective are dispatched to help catch a serial killer in Sydney, Australia. When she returns to Atlanta, she enlists the detective’s help when her parents are killed in an auto accident and she learns she is adopted. The search for her adoptive parents leads the pair to Cassadaga, a spiritualist community in Central Florida, where she finds her birth mother, a strong psychic and spiritual healer, and her birth father, a lecherous trance medium who rules the community with an iron fist. Something is rotten in Cassadaga and the trail leads back to her parents’ killer. Since I was born without a sense of smell, I have an overdeveloped sixth sense, so working on this project has been very interesting for me.
Oh, this book sounds so intriguing. Could you tell us about your new release, “A Choir of Angels?”
Think Here Comes the Bride. There Goes the MOB (Mother of the Bride). This humorous, supernatural e-short story is timely because wedding season is just around the corner. If you like to cry at weddings and you like to laugh, I hope you’ll love “A Choir of Angels,” a heartwarming tale of a family’s tragedy and a wedding promise unfulfilled. How far will a mother go to sing at her daughter’s wedding? Nothing, not even a little thing like death, is going to cheat Rhonda Paver out of celebrating the happiest day of her daughter’s life. Even if she has to cross over to the other side to do it.
“A Choir of Angels,” is now available from TWB Press at www.twbpress.com/achoirofangels.html in PDF eBook format or you can find a Kindle, Nook or OmniLit link at the TWB Press site. You can also search Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or Omnilit.com by name and title or Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/51916.
Excellent! Great cover, too! Can't wait to get my copy. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere. I’ll hear a name that I like and know I want to use it in a story. A title will just come to me and I know that’s the one. For example, I got the idea for Sixth Sense sitting next to a psychic on an airplane flight to Sydney. I eavesdrop at every opportunity – at dinner, at the hair salon, on an airplane, anywhere. You never know when a snippet of information could become the basis for another story.
I love eavesdropping. Nothing is sacred in a writer's world LOL. How long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
Almost eight years.
How did you celebrate the new book contract?
My daughter, her boyfriend and my daughter’s friend came to my door and surprised me with a balloon, a congratulations card and a bottle of my favorite wine, Moscato d’Asti. My daughter and her friend had collaborated on a book and I helped them in that process, so their recognition was of particular significance to me.
Sounds like fun! What was the most important thing you remember after the story was published?
My father, who was always very supportive of my writing, passed away last year before I got published. When the story was first released, my mother printed it out and left it in his favorite spot in the kitchen. For a moment she had forgotten he was no longer there when she left it out for him to “read.” She said he would have been proud of me. That was heart-wrenching.
*Wiping eyes* That is a beautiful story, Marilyn. Was the “call” an actual phone conversation or an email or a snail mail?
As you might imagine in today’s digital world, it was actually the “e-mail.” My publisher had been reviewing my story and we’d been going back and forth with edits and comments I had to address in rewrites via e-mail. He said, “If you nail this story, I’m going to send you a publishing contract.” When he sent the contract he wrote, “I want to thank you for the effort you’ve put into this story. In the end, it shows. You’ve done a great job. Now I believe you have a winner and I want to publish it so others can enjoy it.”
Do you have an agent?
No, but I am actively looking for one.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
The same advice my writing friends give me, which is consistent with the advice I’ve receive from the established authors I’ve interviewed. Don’t give up. When I met Janet Evanovich at a book signing event, she had similar advice for aspiring authors: “Never give up,” and “move on to the next book.” Bestselling Georgia author Steve Berry, reiterates, “Don’t ever give up. Somebody’s name is going to be on the cover of a book. It might as well be yours.” Bestselling novelist Daniel Silva said, “Write something and finish what you write. Just write the book. Any book can be fixed.” Suzanne Brockmann said, “Write the best book you can.” There is still so much more I want to accomplish but you can’t succeed unless you put your work out there.
I love the advice to MOVE ON TO THE NEXT BOOK. That is the best way to avoid getting bogged down in the waiting for publication game. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?
I have read so many articles about well-known authors who were rejected time after time until they were published. James Patterson was rejected about 85 times. Dan Brown was repeatedly rejected until his work finally found a home. And of course, there’s the amazing success story of J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Steve Berry, who had five manuscripts rejected a total of 85 times over 12 years before he published his first novel, advises, “There’s no such thing as handling rejection, but you can learn from it. Just stay with it. Just keep going forward. Keep writing. There’s only one way to learn how to write and that’s to write.”
The advice to keep writing and the only way to learn how to write is to write rings very true for me. What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
The sagging middle. I can come up with a gangbusters first three chapters and I always know my ending in advance. It’s the middle that causes the most problems.
Ah, for me it is the same. No matter how much I plot it out, the middle goes flat. What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call?
Apart from the time it takes to proofread galleys and approve cover art before publication and prepare your bio and a story blurb and solicit reviews for your author page on the publisher’s Web site, I was surprised at how time consuming it is to publicize your book. This includes Facebook, blogs, e-mail blasts and other ways to get the word out. If you don’t do it, it won’t go anywhere. As my publisher tell his authors, “Sales don’t just fly out of the woodwork... you have to get your names out there and promote yourselves.” To that end, I’ve joined venues like Goodreads. My blogging sisters at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales www.petitfoursandhottamales.com have been very supportive as are the members of Georgia Romance Writers. I’ve also started blogging for the Roswell Patch as part of their Local Voices program http://roswell.patch.com/search?keywords=marilyn+baron; and even though I said I would draw the line at Twitter, I am now Tweeting. You can follow me at Marilyn Baron@MarilynBaron. I’m excited to be part of the digital publishing revolution and hope to take advantage of the many opportunities that presents.
Yes, the marketing of the books is a huge part of building success in the publishing business. I'm so honored that you are on Digging Out of Distraction to share your story with us. Thanks for coming by and sipping champagne with me!!
Here Comes The Bride. There goes the MOB (Mother of the Bride)
Wedding season is just around the corner. If you like to cry at weddings and you like to laugh, you’ll love “A Choir of Angels,” a heartwarming tale of a family’s tragedy and a wedding promise unfulfilled. How far will a mother go to sing at her daughter’s wedding? Nothing, not even a little thing like death, is going to cheat Rhonda Paver out of celebrating the happiest day of her daughter’s life. Even if she has to cross over to the other side to do it.
A CHOIR OF ANGELS, my humorous supernatural e-short story, is now available from TWB Press atwww.twbpress.com/achoirofangels.html in PDF eBook format or find a Kindle, Nook or OmniLit link at the TWB Press site. You can also search Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, or Omnilit.com by name and title or Smashwords athttp://www.smashwords.com/books/view/51916.
For reviews on Amazon:
Marilyn blogs at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales www.petitfoursandhottamales.com and The Roswell Patch http://roswell.patch.com/blog_posts/ode-to-a-laundry-room