All about a delightful lady who's become a great friend: Reigningcatsndogs aka Mary!

Tell us a bit about yourself. What would you like us to know about you?

Mary: I am incredibly boring... if you manage to get through this, you’ll agree.

What are you doing now? (Career? Married? Single? Children? Pets?)

Mary: I live on an acreage with cows (there are not enough of them to consider them cattle), lots of fruit trees, grape vines, a large garden... and it is heaven for me. I home school my boys, the older one will be heading to university in the new year, the younger one is in Grade 12. In my spare time, I write, hang out on the internet, sew, cook, clean...

What is your favorite food?

Mary: Seafood. Any kind of seafood.

What is your favorite color?

Mary: And so it begins. I can’t just pick one of something. Yellow makes me smile. I love yellow, but I wouldn’t wear yellow because I would look like Big Bird with his legs cut off. I love red, but there is no way I would wear it because people always look at the person wearing red. I like pink when it's in a sunset, the new baby-green leaves when they pop in the spring... I’m either wishy-washy or preparing myself for a career in politics.

What is your favorite sound?

Mary: Quiet, for now, although I suspect that will change when the Grubs are gone from home. On a summer evening, just at twilight, there is a very brief moment of time where you can hear the frogs and crickets starting to sing, but also birds as they are getting ready to nest for the night, with the odd owl tossed in as it's getting ready to start another day. For me, sitting on the back deck, that’s heaven. The laugh of a baby, that uncontrolled belly laugh, is a close second.

Who is your favorite person?

Mary: Anyone who, in some way, might be related to a publisher or agent? People are something where favorites just don’t exist for me. It would be impossible to single out one person. It would be impossible for me to pick one least-favorite person as well... most days anyways.

What is your favorite place?

Mary: Home. Hands down. Home.

What is your favorite memory?

Mary: It’s not my wedding day. Not the days my boys (the grubs) were born, because I was knocked out for those days and don’t remember much at all. When I was four, my brother, who was 17 years older than I was, took me in his green Volkswagen beetle to A&W. That was when you pulled in and left on your lights so the girl would roller-skate over and take your order, and when they brought it they would hang the tray on the outside of the car window. I had a baby burger, fries, and orange pop. It was something that never happened in our house as a rule, and it was the only memory I have of my brother spending time with me.

What is your favorite article of clothing?

Mary: Fuzzy socks.

What is your favorite word?

Mary: There are a couple that seem to fly out of my mouth a bit too often these days, ones that I can’t print here. Right now, I’ve been having a lot of fun with Niblick.

What is your favorite writers' quote and why?

Mary: Rudyard Kipling – You’re a braver man than I, Gunga Din. I have met so many strong people... the sentiment by the poet is true.

What is your most favorite quality about yourself?

Mary: I suppose that I try to be open-minded, and I love to learn, especially about and from other people.

What is the least favorite quality about yourself?

Mary: I can only pick one thing? Physically – I’m overweight, but I am working on that with the help of a few friends. Character-wise, I am not nearly as strong as I would like to be, am very easily intimidated, and am shy. Oh, and I am a crier, and that gets worse the older I get.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

Mary: Florence, Italy. Ireland. The east coast. I have family roots that extend to Ireland and the east coast of Canada and the US. I would love to go and see where I came from. Florence just because I want to see it.

What inspires you to write and why?

Mary: A comment at a dinner party a couple weeks ago got my wheels turning. A song lyric can do it as well, but mostly it must be the muse. When I feel myself lagging, though, either chatting with another writer, or music will get me back on track.

What is your favorite book and why?

Mary: The Dictionary is my friend. I talk to way too many people who are way smarter than I am.

What is your favorite genre and why?

Mary: To both read and write – literary and mystery/suspense. For the longest time though, I was totally addicted to reading biographies. I wouldn’t write one because I would become a basket case worrying about the accuracy of every word and all the ways each one could be misinterpreted, but I devoured them when I was growing up.

List your three favorite authors (any genre) and why?

Mary: I’ve always liked Kipling maybe because I was first exposed to him quite young and because what he said made so much sense to me. I could understand him. Lucy Maud Montgomery is another favorite. She was Canadian, so I was proud of that fact when I first started reading her, and now they are like warm stew on a very cold day for me. They warm me up.

What do you think makes a writer successful?

Mary: Having the courage to sit down and commit words to paper. I think it takes a special kind of brave to do that. Many people shred the papers they write on so people can’t see what they have written because it exposes them. Writers are exhibitionists. We lay it out for all to see, warts and all. Almost everyone talks about writing a book. A lot of people include it on their life’s ‘to do’ list. Anyone who takes that first step is both a writer and successful. Someone reading what you have written is the icing on the cake, and if even one other person is in any way influenced by something you wrote, in any way, that’s heaven.

What is it that makes you successful as a writer?

Mary: Grub 1 has started to write. If what I have done with writing has accomplished nothing else, it has instilled a love of words in my boy. That would define success for me.

What are your goals as a writer?

Mary: Something more than an audience of one would be nice. I never started writing with a ‘goal’ in mind. I had a story in my head that wouldn’t go away, so I thought putting it on paper might make it stop. It did... for that story, but once I was done the first, then the next one started, and the next. It’s just never stopped.

What is the best tip you can give to fellow writers?

Mary: Listen to the muse. Never ever argue with her, but always listen to her.
What do you hope to provide your readers with through your writing?
Mary: Escape, entertainment, an understanding that we are not alone in where we find joy or pain or hope or fear. Mostly I want to give them a story that they can understand, that they don’t have to work to read.

List your three favorite online writer-resource sites and why (include URLS).

Mary: The CIA website – they have the best information, most current, about anything you want to know about any country. CIA Web Site
The Writers Block – it feels like home... small, quaint, quiet... I do my best thinking there without being too distracted. Writers Block
Duotrope – I am always looking for new places to send Rejection Requests, and they have one heck of a list. Duotrope - Rejection Requests

If you have published a book/story, tell us about your publishing success (title, publishing date, and company, where it is available to purchase).

Mary: Oh, dirty secret time, heh? I had an aunt who was incredibly supportive of my writing. She wanted to see something in print before she died. Some ‘people’ put together the money, and I self-published eight novels. We did 200 copies of each, because that got us the best price from the printer. As a home schooling project, the grubs edited, designed the covers, did the layout for each book, took care of marketing, set up a website, kept track of all accounting and inventory, and pounded the pavement to place the books in book stores. They moved most of the books.

How long did it take you to write your book(s)?

Mary: Not counting the stuff I goofed around with in school, starting from Grade 6 when I wrote my first murder mystery, I began my first novel in 1999. I have completed 22 manuscripts of varying quality, rewritten several of those, and I have three on the go right now. How long it takes depends on the muse and what’s happening around me. My best time is three weeks for one (first rough draft completed). I have one that has been lingering for a couple years.

What would you do differently if you could repeat the same publishing experience?

Mary: Although I loved the lessons it provided for the boys, I would not do it again. My aunt got to see them and read them (she went blind and then passed away shortly after that) but no, no way I would do a repeat performance of that.

What have you learned about the publishing world?

Mary: That I much prefer to write and leave all the rest of that stuff to someone else... perhaps someday I’ll get to that point.

This is your chance to 'Talk Back' to your readers. What would you like to say to them?

Mary: I have readers?

What's the one thing that you want them to know about your writing?

Mary: That it is hopefully still improving.

Thanks Mary, I really appreciate the effort and time. I enjoyed learning more about you.