THE WRITER’S ALLEY INTERVIEW BLITZ—MARY VEE
THE WRITER’S ALLEY INTERVIEW BLITZ
“God in His gracious mercy, and maybe humor, allowed me to dabble in my dreams.”
“My family, previous jobs, trips, holidays, and etc. all have become components to flavor my journey guided by Christ. To have only one would dull my writing.”
rem: Welcome to my blog, Mary. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
MARY: I grew up in a suburb one mile from Detroit. Kids from the roughest neighborhoods were bussed to my school. Many became my friends, others scared me. Hubby and I currently live in a home forty minutes’ drive from any store, gas station, etc. We are surrounded by state woods. A small lake nestles our dock at the edge of our yard.
rem: I could go for that bit with the lake and the dock! Tell us three things about yourself.
MARY: I still have a stuffed animal given to me by my Hungarian grandmother when I was in the hospital at age five. I find rattlesnakes intriguing. I detest bugs because they hamper me from having fun outside. Sounds like I missed the grown-ups boat, right?
rem: I missed it too, but that’s because I didn’t think it looked like a fun boat ride! hee hee Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?
MARY: Kermit, because he’s what I like to be. He is kind, a listener, isn’t afraid to show his anger. He is a doer. He is innovative and a problem solver.
rem: I like Kermie! Methinks he’s my favorite, too. Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?
MARY: At times coffee, other times tea. My grandmother clearly said I should never, ever put sugar in my tea or coffee under any circumstances. I learned young to never disobey her eastern European ways. LOL As for flavored, I prefer the richness of the original taste.
rem: I do not like my coffee or tea sweet, not by heritage (in fact my grandparents drank very sweet tea!) but by personal preference. Vacation: beach or mountains?
MARY: Both. A beach is a wide open-space where hair can be tussled by the wind and toes can sink into soft sand and tickled with sparkling waves. A mountain is a peak with trails, layers of different vegetation, crisp snow, clean air, switchbacks, and a view begging to be explored. Who could choose?
rem: I do love the beach, the sound and smell of the ocean. But give me my mountains! It’s where I find sanctuary. What is your greatest fear?
MARY: Dark. When the power goes out in my house, I grab a flashlight and turn it on. This has been fodder for many stories…because it is a deep rooted fear.
rem: What do you most value in a friend? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?
MARY: Commitment for both. A committed friendship or relationship envelopes so many other wonderful and important values that are equally important, i.e. dedication, compassion, effort, sacrifice, etc. All the things God gives us.
rem: So true. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
MARY: In all truth, the Bible. I’m sad to say I’ve only read through it completely twenty-five times, but am working to increase that number.
rem: Best.Book.Ever. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?
MARY: Deborah. She was a judge over Israel at a time of war. She asked a man to lead the army but he was a coward, insisting she go with him to battle. She did. Israel won, but not because of the man. Deborah was strong, knew how to delegate, and kept her eye on the true goal no matter the cost.
rem: I love her! The first Biblical fiction I read was her story; it’s my favorite genre, and I appreciate her story more, too. Which is more important: plot or characters?
MARY: Character is first, but plot is crucial. Plot is the character’s adventure, the means in which the character finds the solution to her true need.
rem: Good way to think of it. How long have you been an Alleycat? How did you become an Alleycat?
MARY: I have been a Writer’s Alley Cat since the group was first formed in May 2010. Sweet Casey Heringshaw invited me to join the group when it was in the forming stages. These Writer’s Alley sisters and all the Writer’s Alley Pals we’ve met along the way have been a God blessed treasure beyond my imagination.
rem: Awwww, you’re sweet as a dish of cream. (get it? dish of cream for the, ahem, cat….. ) You have a fun list of dream careers. Tell us how you arrived at writing.
MARY: I wanted to give a unique gift to my students at the end of the school year. I wrote a story using each boy and girl as a character. On the last day of school, the students read the book. Hah, the year I had thirty students proved a challenge. To include all of the children, I wrote a chose your own adventure.
rem: How fun is that! I did something similar a few years ago with characters from the stories we read in a literature class! How many mission trips have you experienced, and where did you go?
MARY: Inner City children from South Bend, Indiana rode a bus to a Christian camp outside the city where I was a counselor. The camp was free, the Gospel preached, and the kids did outdoor activities they’d never done before like horseback riding. The Detroit City Rescue Mission had a substance abuse program located in the neediest area. I did my counseling internship there. I’ve been to Mexico twice, Honduras twice, Alaska’s interior, the Crow reservation in Montana to help, and will be visiting a missionary family in Italy later this year.
rem: Mary, that is wonderful. So often, I think we forget that there is much mission work to be done right here at home. I’ve been on short term mission trips, also, and I believe I was changed more than the lives we went to minister to. What did you gain or learn from your mission work?
MARY: The greatest skill I learned was to always try. The moments I felt the shyest, God nudged me to go ahead and try. Those were the moments when God did amazing things.
rem: And that can happen at any time, too, anywhere, doing anything! You have degrees in guidance and counselling, and BRE [I don’t know what that is]. Tell us about your work as a counsellor, and how that colors your writing.
MARY: BRE (Bachelors of Religious Education) from Bible College. My psychology and counseling training has helped me to see different viewpoints, has given me questions to ask to help others express what they are trying to say, and most importantly, how to listen…really listen.
rem: Listening truly is a learned skill. Because it takes time—and commitment(!) and an investment in relationship, even casual. You also write articles in periodicals. What do you write about?
MARY: I have written children’s mystery and holiday stories, teaching technique articles, devotionals for adult Sunday School papers, articles about Honduras for public school magazines, and a program to raise funds for the hungry–which won an award.
rem: A little bit of variety never hurt anyone! 😉 What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
MARY: I write everywhere. My laptop is practically glued to my fingers. Mostly I sit at my dining room table and look out at the lake while writing.
rem: Perfect view!! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
MARY: My biggest struggle is condensing my story into a synopsis. I’m a writer…I like words.
rem: Ditto! Ugh! Or the blurb! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
MARY: I enjoy both. I am a complicated person. There are times I am bursting with creativity, and times when the organized, get-the-job done right side of me hits.
rem: We writers are kind of all over the place, aren’t we? What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
MARY: The chance to go to my MC’s setting and have fun, which is interesting when the suspense scenes hit. I play applicable music and mentally transport myself to the location.
rem: How cool is that! I’mma have to try that! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
MARY: Timing. Any well-written story could be accepted one day, but not another. Making the required changes would top the list for easiest. Seriously!! The only reason for required changes was if the publisher wanted the story! Right?
rem: Hmmm, never thought about that. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?
MARY: 1. Listen to audio books. Oddly enough, the sound from other characters in your genre comes in handy when writing your own MC. 2. Dialogue needs to be purposeful and present. This is the nugget that tells us what MC wants others to think of her. 3. Read your words out loud to you. No audience to impress. Just you. Read slow. Listen. This is how you will know if MC’s story flows.
Not do: 1. Expect. Anything. Writing is work, persistence, drive, strength, devotion, etc. The rewards are not free. 2. Waste one single day God has given to accomplish His will. He has called you to write. So write. 3. Be cruel to others when critiquing. All comments should be at the ability level of the writer and coupled with compliments.
rem: These are great! (only ‘cept I don’t do audio books, my brain gets distracted too easily) and #2 don’t, that’s really good! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
MARY: They pop in my head. Then I take the kernel and brainstorm with my daughter. We slice and dice ideas, fabricate what if’s and before I know it, a story is born.
rem: As authors we sometimes give our characters one or more of our personal traits. Have you ever taken on a trait of your character that you didn’t have before?
MARY: What if we think of that question in a different way? Because I like a personality trait I may or may not have, I give it to my MC. I see how it works, how it feels for her. And yes, I saw something in an MC and have found myself doing the same. In one case, I learned to respect the intelligence of the homeless.
rem: Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, what?
MARY: Yes. The story is titled: Mist. This is a story about having to trust a group of homeless girls for survival and protection from the ones who’ve kidnapped family members.
rem: Interesting twist! Which character in the story is most like/least like you?
MARY: River is most like me. River is one of four girls who help MC survive. She is fast, caring, listens to the problem then helps only to a certain point, leaving MC to figure out the last step. However, she watches from a distance to insure MC finds her way.
rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
MARY: My current project is titled: Doors. This is a YA story about discerning truth. An entire city has been populated with men and women who have been tricked into moving there, including MC. There appears to be no way to leave the city. MC, however, discovers the one door, the one way to freedom. Can she lead the people to safety before the one who has deceived them returns?
rem: I like how you spin your stories! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
MARY: Truth is often found on a deep level so that only those who have ears to hear, can.
rem: And that in itself is a profound truth. Anything else you’d like to add?
MARY: I have a give away. Any reader who signs up to receive my newsletter (there is a sign up on my website) will receive my mystery novella free. This is a story about a man who struggles with memory issues yet must solve an important mystery. Note: the link for the novella will be with the newsletter confirmation notice.
rem: Thanks so much for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!
“Sometimes I see a deer and hover like a humming-bird, soaking in the richness. While there, God enhances the moment giving me ideas, teaching me lessons, reminding me to praise Him, reflect on His Word.”
Mary Vee, The Writers Alley, Author Interview, Interview Blitz, Chat Thursday