|Our Maria has a Gold Star on her|
health report. :)
I swear, the first week we became acquainted, I though that was a W in her last name. My poor eyes could not help my brain realize those are Vs. Two of them. Is that a British thing? Isn't one enough? Then there is that language thing. Their book page numbers are in stones, or something. She calls herself a solicitor. Over here, we hang up on those people. I had to look it up to find out she's a lawyer. Maria explained, thinking it helped, that she could be called a barrister. Over here, we visit those for coffee, right? Jeez.
She may be the only woman I know, who wishes for more pounds. I know she simply craves them.
We cross paths, or byte trails, usually on Bestsellerbound, which is getting entirely too much attention these days. Maria is somewhat to blame for that. (don't go there. it will suck you in.) When she's active in her daytime (Brits are not nocturnal - like Aussies), she is making the rounds of her web-connections. They are vast. She's trying to fill the Atlantic with posts. Why would a solicitor, with plenty of credentials for the difficult job in British Law need any web connections at all? It was her poor choice to become an Indie author, I'm afraid, that's made her life so hard.
British authors, who self-publish, get no better treatment than any of us. No one cares they invented the language. Reading Maria, you are being blessed by better speech that you ever try to use in daily life, but when her wig comes off, she has to hit the web like we do. Since nothing is printed in Britain anymore, except the books by "she-who-must-not-be-promoted", Maria is building a world-wide following, one reader at a time. She has a lovely advantage over most though. She is promoting some excellent books, and readers are noticing.
Maria admits to being inspired by people - and their lives - from her experiences in her career, sometimes in Family Law. Her heart is in it, and that makes her an astute observer, she catches tiny details, and those appear in the novels and short stories she writes. She's been called on to help people, some in the worst situations of their lives, and Maria has the compassion to remain by their side, perhaps as the only help they can find. She has a wealth of observation to draw from when writing, and she paints characters into her books with very subtle strokes of emotion.
Maria's searched for connections across the vast world-wide seas, from the itty speck of land that once had a famous king...that search somehow connected her to Stacy Juba and Darcia Helle. I haven't the foggiest how it all came about, but they created Bestsellerbound. The process is too tedious to get into, but the results are remarkable. Maria Elena did not just post a few times, then claim jet-lag. She competes with a vengeance for post numbers, and topic starts. We play along, cause she sounds funny.
One person she's latched onto, is Jason McIntyre. Together, they penned a tale - online - about a book reviewer with a sour disposition. Maria began to go all British on that character, causing him to die slightly. (We've not stopped playing with the corpse.) We were shocked, naturally. The sweet, tall, quiet lady with the powdered wig, just tore the guy to shreds. He may be very famous someday, an Internet meme if we can help it; with a Union Jack sticking out from between his eyes.
Maria gets to be famous first, however. Here is a link to my review of 'Second Chances'.
Here is the link - which I am required to state, by British law, is not related to the designer of really snappy women's clothing - link to Maria's own website.
Update: Maria has been so busy she's only a blur. Shortly after this feature posted, she and Jason released 'Cutting the Fat', the entire tale about the reviled Nestor Maronski. That can be seen in the previous posting. But, Maria Elena has knocked us down tossing out books and short story collections - she's a darling pest and we just can't say no when she asks for a read.
'Fusion' snuck up on me though. I was just distracted by so many other Maria things to read. What I found inside was just wonderful. Stories that are vignettes, and not just tales. Rich with imagination, Maria seems to have just glimpsed something that caught her interest, and these delightfult stories were the result, and they are fully formed. Maria does not write story ideas and call them shorts. They are perfectly formed, and perfectly concluded. Always with an unexpected twist. Maria has a subtle wit, and powerful skills to observe the human condition.
Two other colletions are mentioned further below in this feature.
This book doesn't seems subtle, but it is. We are privy to every worry that enters Lynne's thoughts, and she does begin to obsess about those warnings in the dream. Wouldn't we all? Wouldn't we all lose our composure? At the point we become overwhelmed as Lynne has...Maria moves us all into the mysterious posibilities of change. What will happen if Lynne changes her mind? Watch for this book, and snatch it.
Maria is pounding her shoe on her keyboard, to get into this discussion with objections:
You do realize, I keep my laptop on overnight, so I will have more hours logged into BestsellerBound than you?
Ha, ha! No actually, I don’t spend that much time on BestsellerBound, I can most frequently be found on Twitter and Facebook. But I do check in on BestsellerBound at least once a day to make sure I keep up with what’s going on. Of course, I spent much more time on there recently writing the Nestor Maronski story.
Explain to those who don’t know: who is Nestor Maronski, and how did he come to be?
Nestor Maronski (such a great name - wish I’d made it up, but that award goes to Jason McIntyre, my co-writer). He’s an evil reviewer (Nestor Maronski that is, not my co-writer LOL). Nestor is a fictional character, an evil book reviewer who hates self-published authors and always writes bad reviews for Indie authors.
He is the main character in BestsellerBound’s online novella, written by me and Jason McIntyre. The idea for the story came up in a discussion about reviews. Darcia Helle had the original idea that all of us should jointly write an online novel about an evil reviewer who gets murdered. Jason loved the idea and wrote the first chapter, and the rest is history.
How many behind-the-scenes emails did you and Jason pass?
Hardly any. I didn’t really know Jason well. I’d met him on Goodreads or Twitter (can’t remember which) and then invited him to BestsellerBound a few days after I’d met him online. We’d chatted a bit on the discussion boards, but didn’t really know anything about each other or our writing styles when we started writing the online novel. After we’d been writing it for about a week, Jason sent me an email to say that he wasn’t sure we could really continue it for much longer, but I think he was trying to get an idea as to how committed I was to it, because I’d just left Nestor hanging from the ceiling in his bedroom at the end of the previous scene, but Jason had gone on to save him and he’d ended up alive and well in hospital. Jason thought I wanted to end the story by killing Nestor, but I’d been trying to create a murder mystery , so the novel would continue with investigations as to who’d killed Nestor.
(I have to interrupt, to let people know, Maria and Jason killed an ass, not the Christmas donkey.)
When Jason realised that I hadn’t wanted to end the story there, we carried on writing for another week or so, again without exchanging emails. Finally, it came to the point that the online novel was taking up so much time, and Jason had a lot of commitments at home and work, so he sent me an email suggesting that if I wanted to continue the story on my own, he was happy to let me do that, or we could jointly kill off Nestor in the next couple of chapters. By that stage I thought of the story as a joint effort and didn’t want to carry it on without Jason’s input, so we wrote the last two chapters. At that stage we did discuss in an email how it should end.
Jason wrote the penultimate * chapter and sent me an email with his suggestions for an ending, but left it up to me. I ended up writing the ending using a couple of his ideas to tie up some loose ends, but ultimately I wrote it as I’d been writing the other chapters; without a plan. It seemed to work because we had some good feedback from the readers and over 1000 hits on the discussion thread for the story.
*penultimate: British word for set-up to the finale.
You called out to the readers, to join in if we felt the urge. We just sat by, amazed at what you two were doing. How does that feel now, being exactly one half of that story?
It’s a great feeling of accomplishment, more than anything else. If I’m truthful, I was so blown away by Jason’s first chapter I didn’t think I’d be able to continue the story and nearly chickened out. But then once I started writing it, it was so much fun, I couldn’t wait from day to day to read Jason’s chapter so I could write my own.
You and Jason were quite destructive with Nestor; was that a new twist for you, writing something fairly violent?
Yes, definitely, and to be honest I think I was a bit of a wimp. Darcia made a comment at the end that she wished Nestor had suffered more, and I think that some readers would have been thinking something similar. I was even thinking it when I was writing that I should write something more violent, but to be honest I find it hard to write anything too gruesome, it’s definitely not my forte. I don’t think you’ll find me writing any violent crime fiction any time soon. I was glad that Jason’s penultimate chapter contained so much violence against Maronski, all I had to do was finish him off.
It’s not well known, you were an intern psychologist at the Clerkwood Women’s Correctional Facility in Leicester, for two years. Is that what drove you to complete your solicitor exams and become a barrister?
LOL. How did you find that out? I thought I’d managed to keep it a secret. I should have known that when Darcia Helle was released from that facility she’d blab... she always was a bit unstable.
Do you wear the wig?
Yes, I wear it all the time, especially when I’m out shopping.
Can I get one?
Yes, you can even get them on Amazon these days. That’s true, by the way, I’ve just looked it up.
It is certainly true that you circled up all the toddlers in your infants school first year class and read Keats to them, isn’t it.
Of course that’s true, and Shakespeare as well. (she was one of those students! we call that cheeky.)
I discovered your involvement with a great outreach charity. What would you like to tell me about Shadow Forest Authors?
Shadow Forest Authors (SFA) was created by Christine Jones, a fellow author I met through Goodreads.com. It's a charitable organisation set up with the aim of stopping illiteracy worldwide. Authors from every genre are encouraged to donate just one copy of their print book to one of the beneficiaries listed on the website, which include Book Aid, Education Aid and various prison and school charities which collect donated books. The idea is that these books will be sent where they are urgently needed.
There is a list of authors on the site who have donated books. Anyone can support SFA's work by buying one of the listed books and donating it to one of the charities listed.
How did you become involved with them?
I was invited to donate my books by Christine Jones, the founder of SFA. I have donated a copy of 'A Time to Tell' and 'Pieces of a Rainbow'. Anyone can go onto the website and buy those books, or any of the others listed in order to donate them to a cause. I would encourage other authors to get in touch with SFA and donate a copy of their books. The listed beneficiaries are working hard to make sure donated books are given to people who really need them. Illiteracy is a major issue worldwide, and we as authors are in a prime position to help out.
Do you have trouble driving on the left, or is it really easy? It doesn’t look it.
I’ve often wondered that about driving on the right.
(I've been informed that Maria is famous for getting lost in London.)
David Tennant or Paul McGann?
What exactly is a Toss-Pot?
It means an idiot; it does have a rather ruder meaning, but as this is a family website I won’t tell you. You’ll have to look it up on Wikipedia. (if this is a family site, I going to have less fun than I expected.)
James, in ‘Second Chances’, is so accurately drawn, I really felt some of his frustration. Was it troublesome; writing a man’s perspective on a life-completely-under-the-bosses-thumb?
I wrote it from the perspective of a female author writing about a man’s perspective on life-completely-under-the-bosses-thumb, so no it was quite easy really. But seriously, I didn’t think too deeply about whether I was getting it right or whether a man would read the book and say ‘this is what a woman would say or do’. I just wrote it from the perspective of how a woman thinks a man would behave in a given situation, and as you must know by now, women are always right about these things.
Between James and Pamela, you walked a narrow line of objectivity. I know that you have a preference for one opinion over the other. Did you work to keep it hidden? (I won’t ask with whom you sided most often.)
I didn’t see it like that when I was writing. When I was writing Pamela’s feelings I was seeing this from her viewpoint and so I agreed with her then, and when I was writing James’s feelings I wrote from his point of view and would also agree with that. I think the essence of this story is that there is really no one to blame when relationships break down, both parties will feel hard done by and both will have valid reasons to hate the other along the way. It’s how people deal with their emotions and feelings that really matters.
It's only hours before this posts, no time for interaction; let's see if Maria will answer this in the comments.
I honestly feel that Kate played a villain's role in that book. Not to give away plot, but she was hardly helpful. Does it surprise you I would feel that way?
Do you keep your work, as a solicitor, out of your books, or does it actually enhance how you write?
I think it enhances my writing to an extent because in my job I meet a lot of people and hear a lot of stories. That way I get a lot of inspiration for characters and stories. And of course, James, the main character in ‘Second Chances’ is a solicitor.
Have you considered writing a courtroom drama?
No. But it might happen one day.
Have you created a character that you truly disliked? Who was it?
What inspired ‘Coincidences’, your book about a woman’s search for her father?
That’s going back about 13 years, so I can’t be sure what inspired it exactly. I do remember that the idea to write a novel came after I read Paulo Coelho’s ‘The Alchemist’. It’s such a simple book, but it says so much and is one of my all time favourites. I think I wanted to write a book with that much power, to change the way people think about things. I don’t think I’ve succeeded yet, but that’s the fun of writing, we’re always learning, always improving. Every critical review of a book will give an author the spur they need to challenge themselves to be better. When I look back at ‘Coincidences’, I know that I have come very far as a writer since I wrote that. But even though I am afraid to read it because I know I’ll be hypercritical of it, I’m still proud of it as it was the start of something.
Few authors can generate enough energy for a narrative that spans half a lifetime. But you did it with ‘A Time to Tell’. What did you have to do, to keep track of your characters’ stories over such a length of time?
It isn’t easy. At one stage I had to do a sort of family-tree plan because I was losing track of everyone. You also have to keep cross checking everything to make sure everything makes sense. It’s a lot of hard work. It took me about 7 years to finish, but was well worth the effort. I am fond of that book.
We had just about got you Brits somewhat straight; what with ‘Are You Being Served?’, ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Mr. Bean’ and such. Then along comes Jo Rowling, and she paints you lot out to be all quirky again. Haven’t you just wanted to cross her chin with a fiver?
‘Cross her chin with a fiver’ isn’t a phrase I have come across before. What does it mean?
Quickly, without naming them, think of your favorite three books, written by men. Now, think only of the author’s first names. Then, write them, first names only, on a sheet of paper. (doesn’t matter, side-by-side, or over one another) Look at the name in the middle. Yes, or no; you would totally date that man if you had the chance?
If you were called by an agent: they had seen you all over the web, and quietly read one of your novels. All you had to do, to be published world-wide, was surrender all your self-publishing and drop those ISBN numbers. What would your next thought be?
How much will they pay me?
I love self-publishing and the freedom that goes with it. It would have to be a very large sum of money to entice me away from it... And the only reason money would entice me now is because I am out of work and penniless. If I could earn a decent wage from my self-published books, not even that much, maybe the equivalent of the average wage, I would prefer to be self-published, because when you go with a mainstream publisher you have to give up some of your rights in the books.
The other thing that would attract me to a mainstream publisher would be if they could guarantee that one of my books would be made into a movie. I love films and have always dreamed of seeing a film made from one of my books.
(she painted that rainbow)
Which of the two has self-publishing been for you: a struggle, or a joy?
Both. The struggle comes with the editing, which is a never-ending cycle of stress and anguish. The joy is just about everything else.
You admit to a phase in your youth, when you read horror and thriller stories. Have you thought about writing something spooky?
I have written a couple of spooky short stories, which are featured in my upcoming collection ‘Fusion’. But I haven’t written horror. I don’t know if I ever will. When I was a child my dad used to love horror films and we’d all sit in front of the TV as a family and watch them even though they were really scary. So if anyone was wondering why I’m so deranged that’s the reason.
I used to be obsessed with ghost stories at one stage. Me and my sister watched a horror movie about a doll who came alive and killed people, when we were really young, definitely under 10 years old. This stayed with me for ages. I remember being scared of one of my sister’s dolls for a long time. Why am I telling you this? I have no idea. I think what I’m trying to say is that I probably would be able to write a decent horror book because of my background, but as yet I haven’t felt the urge. (Nestor agrees)
Back to ‘Second Chances’ (a twisted pun, that.) It stands out from your other works, as a Romance without any romance at all. I admired that, and believe I complimented you for it. How did that amazing bit of control happen?
I am quite a romantic person, but not overtly, so I suppose that it’s part of my character that has come out in the novel, without me even realising it. I don’t read romance books nowadays, although I read the entire Mills & Boons collection when I was in my teens, so maybe some of my romantic ideals come from that. These days, I prefer books with a bit more substance, that are not formulaic, so when I’m writing my own books this preference comes out.
Is there one person, who has not written their review, in spite of the pleading you have stooped to doing? May we call them out here, and tell them to get cracking?
Well, okay, I’ll make a public plea to everyone and anyone who has read and enjoyed my books to please go onto Amazon and write a review. It will only take a couple of minutes and it helps greatly. I am making that plea on behalf of all self-published authors. We need your help, as readers, to let the world know about our books. You don’t have to write a long-winded review, just a couple of lines about why you liked it. You can be sure that whenever a self-published author gets a good review on Amazon, they are smiling, and it means more to us than you’ll ever know. End of plea.
Which means her sister is off the hook again.... :)
***I'm hearing that Maria is a stunning cook, and that an invitation to dine in her home is considered a tremendous honor. I've promised my informant I would not reveal their name, but there is a favorite tale circulating about an incident with pheasant and the wrong wine. She has been pestered by friends who want her to write a cookbook. With her stature, figuratively and literarily, she could be another Julia! Praps I should add that to her name?
She loves me now, BTW.
Here are the links to her song dedications from the teaser page.
Carlos Santana - Maria Maria
Blondie - Maria
Scooter - Maria (I like it loud)
Ricky Martin - Maria
All Time Low - Dear Maria, count me in
Bobby McFerrin - Ave Maria
Café Tacuba - Maria my fav.
Susan Baca - Maria Lando
Maria! Maria! Maria!