Welcome to another Wizards with Words interview — With a fab giveaway!
Stay tuned for the deets later in this post. For now I’d like to introduce Mary E. Merrell who will be sharing her latest release in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery series.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I’m a real estate girl (have been since 1988) and am pretty gone on all things strange and weird. Sounds like a good fit for this series, right? (I’ve been in a few vacant spooky houses in the course of my career).
I’m already invested in book one of Mary’s intriguing series and am looking forward to reading all three. Please say hello to Mary!
Mary, Please share a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.
I’ve been writing for over ten years now. I was a stay at home mom with two sons and I told myself a lot of stories while I cleaned and did mom stuff. About the time I went into real estate, we got our first computer and I attempted to put one of those stories down. It was a lot harder than I expected, but I was hooked. I took some writing classes and joined a writer’s group. I loved it! Then I went into that vacant home, and a compelling story about a newbie real estate agent and a ghost developed. When I’m not writing, I love to grow things, and my husband and I have a small business making vertical frames for succulents. I try to exercise consistently, (ha, good one) and I love reading and playing soccer. Almost time to retire from soccer…again. My team calls me Brett Favre.
You sound extremely busy! When you do find time to write, do you have a favorite place and/or time of day for flexing your creative muscles? (Sorry, couldn’t resist the exercise connection 🙂).
My favorite time to write is early in the morning. I love to get up, feed the animals and get a cup of coffee and write away, but if I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, the dogs and I go for a run first. I should be doing my crunches and pushups too, but lately I’ve been shirking. Just ask my pants. I write in the office. Usually surrounded by the dogs and cats.
Pets make a perfect patient audience when writing. And I can so relate to the exercise guilt. If it weren’t for my pool routine, I’d be woefully behind. Going back to your writing habits, when it comes to being a plotter vs. panster, I think even plotters veer from their outline to a degree during the process. When you finish a novel, how closely would you say the end product resembles your original concept — 100%? 50%? Something else entirely? I just recently read this term, panster on a blog. I have to say I am definitely a panster, if it means writing by the seat of your pants. (Just figured that out as I was typing) My current release, Soul in Present Condition is completely different from the original draft. I changed the killer, had to add new chapters and delete others. As I really think about this, most of my final drafts probably resemble only 50% of the original concept.
I can most certainly relate to that, being a dyed-in-the-wool panster for many years running. Are you a draft writer or someone who invests a lot of time in editing and polishing as you write? Why does your method work best for you?
I like to write the book all a one time. Straight through. I’ve written one book a year for the last four years for the NaNoWrimo, and this year, hopefully will be no different. Then the book sits until I can get back and revise it. This works well for me because I don’t do extensive plotting. I have a loose outline that I follow, but it could change drastically as I write. That does mean I have to go back and fill a lot of holes and flesh out the story threads and make sure everything is consistent when I revise. Sometimes, like Soul in Present Condition it hardly looks like the original book at all.
Speaking of Soul in Present Condition, please tell us a bit about it.
Soul in Present Condition is book #3 in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. This was a fun book to write. I changed it a lot, because I had a great idea for a twist. Rosemary Fernandes is a new real estate agent and her business is building, in spite of ghosts lurking in any home she might show. She knows how to deal with the lost souls that are drawn to her, how to help them move on.
Unfortunately, her gift attracts the undead as well. Now, Rosemary is human servant to a vampire. Marcus Lyons is…difficult but gorgeous. Rosemary doesn’t understand this strange relationship with the vampire, but the more she gets to know him the more human he seems, and the more she finds herself seeing the good in him.
When Rosemary meets a young ghost, all sarcastic and gangster, she has a plan, but this ghost keeps a secret, a deadly secret. Rosemary knows his soul will go on, even in its present condition, but she must convince the vampire that her destiny is helping the spirits that call to her, no matter how dangerous.
In this book, Rosemary’s relationship with her boyfriend, Frank Perez heats up. She realizes her friends and family are in danger just being around her. She wants to tell them her secret, but first she must get permission. As the ghost, the vampire and her friends come together to solve this latest mystery, the dynamics of her life change drastically and nothing will ever be the same.
I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I loved writing it.
It sounds fascinating! Without giving too much away, please share a bit about your favorite scene.
There are so many little things that I love. I know, I wrote it, but it still tickles me. But I think my favorite scene is with Rosemary and Frank, talking about what’s going to happen with their relationship. Is Frank going to stick around and work for the vampire Marcus Lyons or let the vampire wipe his memory, so he forgets everything, including Rosemary? It’s tender and heartwarming and ends with Rosemary and Frank making the most of a night alone.
I can see why it would be your favorite scene. How about sharing the first three sentences of your book?
I never take clients into a home I haven’t previewed. You never know what you’re going to stumble into. Like a ghost.
Love that! Now share one sentence – – yes, only one! – – of dialogue or description you love.
This isn’t really dialogue, well, internal dialogue then. It’s one of my favorites. “This feud they had with Marcus was going to be the death of me, because if dying of embarrassment was possible, I’d already be a corpse.”
LOL! Very nice! Poor Rosemary. And now for a bit about Mary. When you’re not writing (or reading) what do you do to unwind?
I do a lot of gardening. Love growing things, and I run and play soccer.
I know you mentioned your pets before. Pets and writers seem to go together like peas in a pod. Tell us about yours and whether or not they shadow your writing time and space.
I have two dogs and four…I mean five cats. A kitten got into our backyard a couple weeks ago, which is not all that easy since we have a cat fence to keep our cats in and stray cats out. He’s so little he slipped through the lattice in the cat area. I think he’s one of the gang now. In fact, he’s sleeping on the couch next to me. Having trouble naming him. My niece named him Fisher, but my husband doesn’t like it. Well, it’s better than boots. (He has white feet. So cliché.) The cats usually sleep in the office while I’m writing and usually one or another is on the desk vying for my attention. The young dog Lily is always trying to put a toy in my hand so I’ll play tug-o-war, and Charlie (The older female dog, my husband named.) barks at me to chase her. Sometimes I do…
Oh, I love pets. Especially cats! They all sound adorable. And for what it’s worth, I like the name Fisher for the little one. 🙂 Now I have a couple quick questions about fun stuff!
Dream vacation gifted to you by a fairy godmother: I would like a staycation, where I can be home, but nobody knows I’m there, and I don’t have to do anything like housework, cooking, or yardwork, unless I want to. Just me and the animals. Maybe my sisters too. So they can do the cooking. Hee, hee. I can write until I’m tired of it. Then maybe I’ll read a little too. Or watch stupid TV shows like Big Bang Theory or musicals. Whatever silly movie I’m in the mood for.
Favorite time of day: Morning
Favorite color: Yellow
Food you never grow tired of: Chocolate and coffee together.
I just had a very relaxing staycation with hubby. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any writing, LOL. And you know, I think you’re the first person who’s answered yellow to the color question. It’s so cheerful and summery. That was always my mother’s favorite color and the thought of it makes me smile.
Blurb Soul in Present Condition
Divorced. Check. Ghost Whisperer. Check. Human Servant. Check. Great. Check. Real estate agent Rosemary Fernandes never expected to inherit the ability to communicate with spirits, and she certainly didn’t expect her gift to attract the undead as well. Now Rosemary finds herself ghost whisperer to the lost souls stuck at their haunts and human servant to a gorgeous but aloof vampire Marcus Lyons. Benito Cruz died with a dangerous secret, a secret that connects the ghost to Rosemary. Can Rosemary send the spirit to his final resting place before his past catches up with them, and can she convince the vampire helping spirits like Benito is her destiny?
Add SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION to your Goodreads list here!
Mary E. Merrell writes Paranormal Mysteries and Young Adult Urban Fantasy. She has worked many jobs, but always had stories in her head. It wasn’t until she went into real estate and walked into that old, vacant home that The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series came to life. Fortunately, nothing spooky happened at the furniture store, or the first book could have been, “The Haunted Sofa.”
Mary E. Merrell’s plots are smooth and slightly dark, and her characters sinfully sweet. Try a little guilty pleasure with House Haunting, the first book in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series. One reviewer called it “A good start to a new series.”
Mary E. Merrell lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, two dogs, and five cats. She has two grown sons. When she’s not writing, she’s gardening or playing soccer. Please visit her website to see what she’s working on next at www.maryemerrell.com.
You can find Mary at the following haunts:
Available Now/Buy Links:
And now for that giveaway I mentioned at the start of this post. To celebrate the release of SOUL IN PRESENT CONDITION, Mary is giving away two prizes. One lucky person who comments will win a $10 gift card to Amazon and another will win ebook copies of Mary’s first two books in The Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series (House Haunting and Curve Appeal). So be sure to share your thoughts, say hello, and include your email. Mary would love to hear from you!
Winners will be announced tomorrow!
Hi Mae and Everyone,
I want to thank Mae for having me on her blog and doing a fabulous job. I appreciate it more than I can say. As for the color yellow…blue was always my favorite color as a kid. If I remember correctly, Mae and I have both lost our mothers. My mother died when I was a teenager, and the one thing I really remember is our yellow kitchen. I think it was my mother’s favorite color too. So, I decided my kitchen would be yellow, and when we got our first house, the kitchen was yellow. Now, it’s a sophisticated goldish color thanks to my decorator friend. Thanks again, Mae, for all your hard work. Have a great day! Mary E. Merrell
Hi, Mary. It’s great to have you here today! I’m really enjoying HOUSE HAUNTING and am looking forward to the other books in the series. You’ve created a cool concept and the characters are wonderful.
Blue and green are my favorite colors but yellow always makes me think of my mother. I remember that you lost your Mom as a teen and I know that must have been dreadfully hard. It’s nice that you have that “sophisticated goldfish” colored kitchen as a cherished memory of her kitchen!
I love Mary and I love her books! Great interview. Keep up the good work Mary
Thanks, my good friend Sue.
Hi, Sue. Thanks for dropping by and supporting Mary. I read AFFINITY, her YA story and am now hooked on the real estate paranormal mystery series. I’m glad you enjoyed the interview!
The book(s) sound like great fun, Mary…but then again, you had me hooked at the ghosts as Mae can attest! Putting them in TBR stack! Thanks to both of you for sharing!
Hi, Debbie! I think you’d really enjoy Mary’s books. The ghost element is fun and the mystery stuff has me trying to second guess what is going on as I’m reading. Thanks for checking out her interview!
Nice to meet you Mary! I love that you tell yourself stories while toing other things. I’m that way too! The story of how you got started writing sounds an awful lot like mine. Good luck to you!
Hello, Jessica. Thanks for stopping and welcoming Mary to my blog. I’m constantly telling myself stories too. I think as writers, we just don’t know how to shut off the mechanism — nor would we want to!
Thanks, Jessi. I read your blog today about your stories too.
The series sounds intriguing. I love series reading and delving deeper into characters psychs. You’ve put together another winner of a review, Mae.
Mae is awesome. The fun thing about writing a series, your character gets to grow and grow. The writer and readers really get to know them.
Thanks,Sheri! 🙂 Although I’m only on the first book of Mary’s series, judging by what I’ve seen so far I’m going to love it. Her characters are dynamic and the situations she puts them in soooo entertaining! 🙂
I love the sound of these. I think I’ve seen House Haunting around before and meant to pick it up! I went over to Goodreads and spotted Affinity, which I remember was on this blog before.
Best of luck to Mary.
Thanks, Emma. Glad to hear people are seeing my books, especially on goodreads.
Good call on Affinity, Emma! I actually “met” Mary after reading that book, a YA story. I had seen the book around, had it in my TBR list, then commented on a blog where she was doing a giveaway and won it. After that, we hooked up, and it’s been wonderful getting to know her better. I love how “real” she makes her characters seem, particularly the lot in the paranormal mystery series. I can so relate to some of them!
We all need to figure out how to “meet” in real life someday. 🙂 I adore the cover for Affinity
Nice to meet you Mary. I love anything with suspense, and your real-estate series sounds fantastic. I loved hearing about how you started to write. Mom’s are the busiest people in the world, yet still they’re always on the go. No slowing down. Huge congrats on all your releases.
Thanks, Mae, for the wonderful interview. I wondered why you were so quiet for a couple of weeks. Summer time in the US. I’m jealous. I want summer back, only I have to wait five months for it to roll around again.
Hi, Joanne. Lovely to see you here as always. Yep, it’s summer in the US and I’ve been on vacation, lapping up the sunshine and neglecting everything else. I have a writer friend in Australia that I’ve known for a few years and it always seems weird when we touch base and I’m in the middle of summer when she’s dealing with autumn and the cold stuff!
I’m glad you had a chance to check out Mary’s interview and her books. I love a good mystery and the connection with real estate makes these doubly intriguing! Nothing like a spooky house, LOL.
Thanks for stopping by Joanne. Nice to meet you. It’s so fun to hear how writers come up with their stories, and it’s amazing how many of them are like me. Who knew so many other people had stories with dialog and action scenes in their heads. Sometimes, it’s a wonder I manage at all. I just saw a plaque that said, “Forget about walking a mile in my shoes, try living in my head.” Or something like that.
Mary, I LOVE that! I’ve definitely got to remember that one!
Hi Mae and Mary! Loves the interview. Mary your series sounds fun! I wanted to be a real estate agent too, but it wasn’t in the cards for me. Now I just got a cute idea for a story… Dang it, gotta go write it down!
Congrats and best wishes with your books! Mwah!
Hi, Calisa! Thanks for stopping by and checking out Mary’s interview. Yep, the real estate angle with mystery are a perfect fit. I love how she wove paranormal into it too. Brilliant!
Glad you’ve been inspired by a new story idea, LOL. You’ve gotta run with them whenever they hit! 🙂
Hi Calisa. Don’t you hate it when you don’t write something down and you think, oh, I’ll remember that, but you don’t. Hate that. Usually it comes back, but recently I lost a great idea completely. There’s so much stuff going on up in here!
Hi Everyone. Had a thought while I was driving to drop off a job resume. Didn’t lose it this time. I had a personality assessment done when I first started in real estate. A lot of it was right on and some wasn’t, but there was one thing it said that was so right. It said, “If you were locked in a room for twenty-four hours, most people would come out crazy, but you would come out with a whole bunch of new ideas.”
Mae, I think it’s cool you work in real estate. It’s been years for me, and it’s amazing how much you forget. As for California, the purchase agreement is always changing. Talk to later. Hope your day was spooktacular. hahaha, cracking myself up again.
Hi, Mary! You make me laugh!!!
I love the assessment thing you had done. Someday I must blog about the Myers- Briggs test I took many decades ago and the results (which were quite fascinating in view off the course my life has taken. That’s a teaser for a future blog post, LOL).
And yep, real estate is my day career. I started as a receptionist and have since been a settlement coordinator, advertising rep, graphic design, Relocation Director and AA. These days I’m staff manager, handle marketing, social media and IT. I can’t tell you about current trends in California but if you ever need some current info on the industry, I’d be happy to brainstorm with you. I’m getting a kick out of the real estate stuff in your books!
I’m glad you’re getting a kick out of the real estate stuff, because the original draft was written like almost ten years ago, and things were booming in California. I had to change the drafts with the times.
Wow, you’ve done a lot of different jobs. I didn’t do that well as an agent, so I became the office transaction coordinator, which I loved until real estate dried up all together and I had to find a regular 8-5 job. Oops, it’s late, I bet you’re sleeping.
Thanks so much for your support. Sweet dreams.
I lived in a haunted house as a child so I can certainly related to this series. I would love to win these books. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview and appreciate the giveaway. Thanks for sharing a part of yourself with your readers. (I like the name Fisher, too. Pretty creative…) email@example.com
Hi, Michelle. Many thanks for visiting and checking out Mary’s interview. House Haunting had me reading late last night and I was frustrated when I had to put it down. It’s a great start to the series and I can’t wait to see what Mary does in the other books too.
Wow, that’s something about you living in a haunted house as a child! Very spooky! 🙂
Hi Michelle, I can’t believe how many people have told me they’ve experienced real haunted houses. I never have, don’t know why I’m so intrigued by it. Or scared silly! Thanks for taking the time to read about me and my books and my furry family. I think the name Fisher is staying.
Hello Mary I just love reading the excerpts and can’t wait to read the books you make them sound so very interesting .firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, Toni. Thanks for dropping by and checking out Mary’s interview and her books. They’re definitely an engaging read!
Thanks, Toni. I appreciate you stopping by.