Today we have guest author Mary Cunningham discussing “Write What You Know” and sharing her experiences.
I’d written all my life, but until the ripe old age of fifty, I’d never ventured beyond family memoirs and very bad poetry. Then five crazy broads got together and formed WOOF: Women Only Over Fifty. All of us had reached that magic milestone, or were about to, and weren’t all that thrilled with the ramifications. Hormones, hot flashes, hair loss, and weight gain were just a few of the complaints.
We decided we could continue to bitch or become proactive bitches and write a book that not only made light of our fate, but honored our love of dogs, too. We embarked on the WOOF adventure including contributions, Hormones and Harmonies, Are We Barking up the Wrong Tree, The Hair of the Dog, and Old Dog/New Tricks. Really, if we’re going to gain weight, lose hair, and feel like we’re sitting in a pre-bake oven half the night, why not learn to laugh at it?
From there, I moved on to middle-grade fantasy. Huh? Not a natural transition? When you have a recurring dream about a friend’s attic that served as your clubhouse on rainy days when jumping rope or playing softball outside was impossible, you have to write about it. Write? Er…right? Cynthia’s Attic, all five books featuring best friends, ancestors, family stories, and time travel, sprang to life.
Using the “Write what you know” advice, I used old family pictures in this series to describe my characters and the setting for the 1914 stories, a small town in Southern Indiana; my hometown.
Another middle-grade series, The Adventures of Max & Maddie, is also in the works. Again with the time travel! Can you tell H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine was one of my favorite books as a kid? Max and best friend, Maddie, delve more into history instead of magic.
I’m not sure what made me jump into a totally different genre, except I’m so glad I did! Andi Anna Jones Mysteries is an adult series about an inept travel agent whose real talent is amateur sleuthing. Again, using the “Write what you know” advice, I was that inept travel agent in North Miami Beach. (Won’t mention the agency in case there are pending lawsuits against me.) Seriously, I was awful! Just as I’d hoped, the first book, Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder, has given me some sense of redemption and has also exorcised a few ghosts.
Writing can be so satisfying and cathartic, and while I got an unusually late start, I plan to write as long as my fingers will cooperate. Reading gives us the opportunity to escape into our own little worlds, and as authors, we can write books and stories that offer readers a much-needed escape into other worlds, countries, cultures, and minds.
Margaritas, Mayhem, & Murder: An Andi Anna Jones Mystery (# 1), was released Nov. 30, 2017. If you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it, we’ll all be winners!
Purchase “Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder”
BN Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/margaritas-mayhem-murder-mary-cunningham/1127355519?type=eBook
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Mary_Cunningham_Margaritas_Mayhem_Murder?id=0jU8DwAAQBAJ
Author Mary Cunningham grew up on the northern side of the Ohio River in Corydon, Indiana. Her first memories are of her dad’s original bedtime stories that no doubt inspired her imagination and love of a well-spun “yarn”.
Childhood experiences, and a recurring dream about a mysterious attic, inspired characters Cynthia and Augusta Lee, for her award-winning middle-grade series, Cynthia’s Attic. The setting is her childhood home in Southern Indiana. Family stories and ancestors comprise the storylines. There are currently five books in this series.
Through a horrifying stint as a travel agent and a more rewarding experience teaching travel and tourism, the character, Andi Anna Jones, travel agent/amateur sleuth, inspired her latest adult mystery series. Mary is currently writing Book #2 of the series, along with another middle-grade series, The Adventures of Max and Maddie, a historical time-travel. The author is also trying her hand at writing a bio for a former UConn and WNBA basketball player, former army brat, who started a scholarship foundation to assist the children of deployed military veterans. Mary is a member of The Georgia Reading Association and the Carrollton Writers Guild.
When she gives her fingers a break from the keyboard, she enjoys golf, swimming and exploring the mountains of West Georgia, where she makes her home with her husband and adopted, four-legged, fur-daughter, Lucy.
Social Media Links
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BLNEK4
My official book blog tour starts today. I hope you’ll follow along and leave comments to support my tour hosts. Some of these posts offer individual prizes. I keep adding new sites, so check my Appearances page often. I’ll do my conference posts from the FRW cruise and SleuthFest on days when I am not a guest elsewhere. See you on the tour!
Feb. 28 – Christa Reads and Writes – BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 28 – Terry’s Place – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
March 1 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW, EXCERPT
March 1 – Island Confidential – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 1 – The Big Thrill – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 2 – Community Bookstop – REVIEW
March 2 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
March 3 – Brooke Blogs – “History, Mystery, and Buried Family Secrets” GUEST POST, EXCERPT
March 3 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT
March 4 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW
March 4 – Readeropolis – REVIEW
March 4 – Kings River Life Magazine – REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
March 5 – Cozy Up With Kathy – “Hair is Gold” GUEST POST
March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 6 – The Revolving Book – SPOTLIGHT
March 6 – The Pop Culture Divas – SPOTLIGHT
March 7 – A Holland Reads – “Backstage at a Fashion Show” CHARACTER GUEST POST
March 8 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – “Theme Parks – Fun or Fearsome?” GUEST POST, EXCERPT, and GIVEAWAY
March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT
March 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
March 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
And in case you missed these:
Jan. 14 – Life of Writers, AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Feb. 11 – Carla Loves to Read, BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 22 – Dru’s Book Musing – “A Day In The Life” CHARACTER POST
Feb. 22: Socrates Book Reviews, BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 23 – I Wish I Lived in a Library, BOOK REVIEW
Feb. 24, Omnimystery News, SPOTLIGHT
Feb. 24, Open Book Society, BOOK REVIEW
Sunday, March. 5 at 1:00 pm, “Mystery and History” Discussion and Booksigning with Nancy J. Cohen (Bad Hair Day Mysteries), Alyssa Maxwell (The Gilded Newport Mysteries), and V.S. Alexander (The Magdalen Girls) at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore, 273 NE 2nd Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444, Phone: 561-279-7790. http://murderonthebeach.com/
Saturday, March 11, 1:00 pm, “Writing is Revising” with Nancy J. Cohen in Room 108 of the L-building at Florida SouthWestern State College – adjacent to the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Check the Lee Campus map here for more details http://www.fsw.edu/about/maps Park in Lot 7 next to the L-building on Saturday. http://mwaflorida.org/events/special-events/
March 16-19, Coral Springs Festival of the Arts, http://www.csfoa.com/
Thursday, March 16, 6:00 Meet & Greet Cocktails and Snacks at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
Friday, March 17, 6:00 – 6:45 pm, “Conflict and Character” with Nancy J. Cohen at Coral Springs Center for Performing Arts, Rooms A&B, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33065.
Sunday, March 19, Signing in the Author’s Tent at “The Walk” between 26th and 29th Streets on the west side of University Drive in Coral Springs, FL
Let’s welcome Christa Nardi, author of the Cold Creek cozy mystery series.
Why did you choose to write in the mystery genre?
As a reader, I’ve always loved mysteries. I am a big fan of cozy mysteries in particular, although I do like romantic suspense as well.
Tell us about your story and the setting.
The Cold Creek series is set in a fictitious small town in Virginia, centered around a private four-year college. For Murder in the Theater, the murder takes place in a nearby small town, Altavista, at a community theater. The victim is the Director of the holiday production of “A Christmas Carol” and his personality is reminiscent of Scrooge. There are many possible characters with motive, but Sheridan (protagonist) has vested interests in proving the accused innocent.
What are the traits of your main character?
Sheridan Hendley (protagonist) is a smart, independent female character; she is educated, middle-aged, and divorced. She’s a professor and a psychologist – she looks at problems very analytically. In the first book of the series, she is told to help the detective assigned to the murder of her colleague. Her natural curiosity, and her ability to draw connections between people set the stage for her amateur sleuthing.
Did you do any special research for this book?
Yes, I did. I investigated Virginia Hate Crime laws, the mechanics of a blow out, and distance/time information. I also researched the history of community theaters. Probably the most interesting was the information on hate crimes and finding out that the laws (what constitutes a hate crime) varies by state.
What do you like best about a writing career? The least?
I enjoy coming up with ideas and having the freedom to put those ideas together however I please, change them around, and see what comes out. I can write in my pajamas or all dressed up. In many ways I find writing relaxing and exciting. The downside? The times when the story’s not quite coming together.
Are you a plotter or pantser?
More pantser than plotter. I start off with a basic idea of the plot, write some scenes that go with my initial idea, and go from there. When I get stuck or something doesn’t seem to work, I backtrack and create a plot line from what I have – sometimes throwing out parts or rewriting – to figure out the next steps. The fun part is that when I start writing, I know who gets killed, I have an idea of the motive, but I haven’t decided who did the deed yet.
Do you set a daily schedule or wing it?
I work full-time so my writing schedule varies. I have established specific times when I can write for about 2-3 hours without interruption over the weekend, but otherwise I wing it. On the positive side, when I’ve put down the work for a while, it forces me to start reading from the beginning again. Sometimes that provides momentum and direction (or re-direction) for the story.
What do you plan to write next?
I plan to work on Book 5 of this series starting this fall. I only have a vague idea right now where that one will go. I am working on a new series right now, also mystery, but young adult. We’ll see how that works out.
Do you have any special interests outside of writing?
Reading? I read constantly – usually mystery or romance. I also enjoy dance and theater, though I am not talented in either. I love to travel, most recently to Barcelona.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Write, write, and write. There are many author groups locally or regionally with workshops and most are very supportive. Be prepared to throw out whole parts and start over. Get lots of feedback. Then write some more.
Murder in the Theater
It’d be the season to be jolly if only someone hadn’t set the stage for murder. When a student is arrested for the crime, Professor Sheridan Hendley is cast in the role of amateur sleuth. Tensions run high, friendships are strained, and the college administration is beginning to panic. As the plot thickens Sheridan is yet again drawn deeper into danger. Will she find the truth before the final curtain call?
Cold Creek Series Book 4, Murder in the Theater by Christa Nardi, is another great cozy mystery.
Books in the Cold Creek Series
MURDER AT COLD CREEK COLLEGE
MURDER IN THE ARBORETUM
MURDER AT THE GRILL
MURDER IN THE THEATER
For more information on the Cold Creek Series:
Meet Christa Nardi
Christa Nardi is and always has been an avid reader. Her favorite authors have shifted from Carolyn Keene and Earl Stanley Gardner to more contemporary mystery/crime authors over time, but mystery/crime along with romance are her preferred choices for leisure reading.
Christa also has been a long time writer from poetry and short stories to the Cold Creek series, Christa has joined many other reader/writers in writing one genre she enjoys reading – the cozy mystery. Christa Nardi is a pen name for a real life professor/psychologist from the Northeast.
Stay in touch with Christa:
Enter Christa’s giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of Murder in the Theater. Click Here to Enter
Check out the video from my speech at the Manatee Performing Arts Center in Bradenton. It was part of the Manatee Arts and Lecture Series.
Contest Alert! Enter to win a $25 Amazon/BN gift card from Booklover’s Bench. Check out our other features, including a weekly Let’s Talk discussion with our authors.