The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Marcia Meara


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What comes first in your writing, the plot or the characters?

Characters. Every time. I think about someone that would probably have an interesting story to tell, like an eco-tour boat captain and a wildlife photographer. I know they’ll provide me with lots of background I’m familiar with, and I have a feel for who they are before I begin to build a mystery or drama around them.

In the case of my second Wake-Robin Ridge book, A Boy Named Rabbit, a little boy alone in the wilderness came into my mind as I was falling asleep one night. I could swear I heard Sarah Gray (from Book 1) tell me he needed for his story to be told, and by the time I woke up, I knew exactly who he was and why he was alone. I went straight to the computer and started writing down every word of his adventure, just the way he told me it all happened. He still talks to me, to this day.

Sometimes, secondary characters in one of my books wave their hands around wildly, going, “Me, me, me! I have a story to tell, too.” So I write that one down, as well.

Do you outline? Are you a ‘pantser’? What techniques do you use to get started on a story?

I don’t work well from an outline. It slows me down, restricts what my characters want me to say, and in general, takes all my fun (and happy surprises) out of my writing. I keep a What-If sheet and brainstorm a bit on that, jotting down possible scenarios. And sometimes, when I start a new chapter, I’ll write down what I want to have accomplished by the end of it. That’s about as structured as I get.

Toolbox with tools. Skrewdriver, hammer, handsaw and wrench

What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)
Believe it or not, I use Word. Yes, I’ve tried Scrivener, Pro Writing Aid, and others, but I always come back to the simplicity of Word. As for how I keep track of my characters, research, maps, and What-If sheets—the answer is folders. In another life, I was a secretary, then an executive secretary, then an administrative assistant. File folders were what we had, so they became second nature to me. I have a Main folder for each WIP, with subfolders inside for everything I need. The folder is pinned to my task bar as I write, and I can click on it for reference any time I want. For me, it’s cleaner, neater, and far less distracting than a writing program with either a steep learning curve or a ton of bells and whistles that distract me from actually getting a story told.

Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?

I started my first book, Wake-Robin Ridge, with the idea of writing Romantic Suspense. It morphed in the middle into a bit of mild paranormal—a love story with a troublesome ghost. My subsequent books in the series have been centered around Appalachian legends, and feature a little boy with a powerful gift the mountain folks call the Sight, but which might be more familiar to many as a form of ESP. So Romantic Suspense went away to be replaced by something more mysterious and a little bit paranormal.

I tried Romantic Suspense again for Swamp Ghosts, Book 1 of my Riverbend series, and it stayed true to the genre. But then, certain secondary characters (the Painter brothers) wanted their own stories told. While the next two books in the series do contain romance, the main drama in each stems from things like dysfunctional family issues, PTSD, and a few tragedies resulting in death or major injury. So again, Romantic Suspense went away to be replaced by—oh, I don’t know—Contemporary Fiction, perhaps?

Then along came my Riverbend spinoff novellas (The Emissary 1 & 2) about overworked angels using hired help to keep an eye on souls in peril. Decidedly fantasy. I think.

I think overall, my books might be breaking the genre rules, but what can I do? These are the stories my characters wanted me to tell. So I did.

What is the first book that made you cry?

895886As a child, I was always a sucker for animal stories, so I’m not sure, but I suspect it would have been Lassie, Come Home. But I can’t begin to count the number of books that have made me cry over a lifetime of reading. Sometimes because the plot was so sad, sometimes because favorite characters died, and sometimes because the writing was so beautiful. A truly well-written line can make me cry to this day.

question-markAre there any authors whose work you admired at first that you then grew to dislike?

Funny you should ask. I was just talking to a friend about a writer I no longer read. There are a couple, but one in particular comes to mind. I’m not naming names here, but I was a long-time fan of this author and loved every shivery, nail-biting moment in his earlier work. Then came a spate of truly bad books that made me rethink my original opinions. Some of them were well told, but were just hateful, mean-spirited stories. Others were just bad. Period. Then, I felt like the writer found his mojo again, and his books were worth my time once more. Alas. It didn’t last. I’m no longer interested in anything he does.

Reading is such a subjective matter, I would never suggest that my opinion on any author’s work means anything at all. I certainly don’t wish this one any ill will, and I can guarantee you, he still sells plenty of books—just not to me. (A fact that probably won’t keep him up at night.) 😊

Do you view fellow authors as competitors, allies or are there some combination of the two? Why?

Allies. I find writers that I’ve met or corresponded with to be the most supportive and helpful group of people I’ve ever known. And even those I’ve never met—or the few who haven’t been particularly friendly—are definitely not competitors. I mean, think about it. Books aren’t like paintings. You don’t pick out the perfect one to go over your sofa, and then stop shopping for them. The more books you read, the more you want to read, and the more you buy. And no writer, no matter how prolific, can produce enough books in an entire lifetime of publishing to satisfy anyone who really loves to read. There’s just no way your fellow writers can use up all your potential readers. At least, that’s how I see it.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

After years of reading just about every genre, including a lot of Urban Fantasy, I have finally discovered the sheer escapism of Epic Fantasy and have been wandering other realms for the last year or so. I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, way back BW. (Before Writing) But what time I do have, I’ve been spending in strange, alien kingdoms, rife with intrigue, mayhem, and battles with creatures large and small—all slathered with large dollops of magic. Why did I wait so long? No clue. But I’m making up for lost time, now. Sebastien de Castell, Scott Lynch, V. E. Schwab, Leigh Bardugo, Mark Lawrence, Robin Hobb, and pretty much anything by Brandon Sanderson, are just a few of the fantasy authors I’ve discovered I love.

Labels with social media icons. Concept.

How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?

I think social media can be used very effectively, but I haven’t mastered the art of marketing. Yet. Blogging is something I really enjoy, but Facebook, etc., not so much. I’m trying to put together a social media marketing plan that combines aspects I like with ones that are effective in reaching a wider audience. It’s one of my goals for 2019.

I think I’m pretty good at building a local readership, though, and do two or three appearances each month. I’ve done well using PowerPoint presentations on various topics, including my current series on Central Florida’s Fabulous Wildlife. Happily, these tie in with my Riverbend books, and I have a signing table set up for afterward. I also do Teas/Luncheons two or three times a year, Meet the Author Eco Tours on the St. Johns River, and I visit with private book clubs. All of these are fun and have netted me good sales. I believe online media marketing is vital for bigger numbers, however, and something I do intend to master.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read! I also enjoy gardening, birding, and nature. I used to canoe regularly until my back decided it was done with that, so now I go out on the river on my friend’s eco tour boat every chance I get.

Do grandkids count? I’m blessed with three and spending time with them is pure happiness.

All in all, I’m approaching my 75th birthday filled with gratitude for all the things in life I’m still able to do. And I recommend grabbing all the joy you can every day. Don’t forget to laugh. A lot! As my grandmother used to say, it’s good for what ails ye.

About Marcia:

Marcia Meara lives in central Florida, just north of Orlando, with her husband of over thirty years, four big cats, and two small dachshunds. When not writing or blogging, she spends her time gardening, and enjoying the surprising amount of wildlife that manages to make a home in her suburban yard. At the age of five, Marcia declared she wanted to be an author, and is ecstatic that at age 69, she finally began pursuing that dream. Her belief in the redemptive power of love is a unifying factor in both of her popular series and her poetry.  Today, she’s still going strong, and plans to keep on writing until she falls face down on the keyboard, which she figures would be a pretty good way to go!

Marcia’s Books:

Marcia has published six novels, one novella, and one book of poetry to date, all of which are available on Amazon:

WRR coverat25%

Wake-Robin Ridge

ABNR cover at 50%

A Boy Named Rabbit: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 2

Harb 60% cover sized for memes

Harbinger: Wake-Robin Ridge Book 3

Swamp Ghosts Cover @ 30%

Swamp Ghosts: A Riverbend Novel

Finding Hunter_kindle cover2

Finding Hunter: Riverbend Book 2

TDP 60% cover sized for memes

That Darkest Place: Riverbend Book 3

The Emissary_kindle cover_final 2at35%

The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella

sm cover at 30 percent

Summer Magic: Poems of Life & Love

Connect with Marcia:

Marcia’s Amazon Author Page

You can reach Marcia via email at marciameara16@gmail.com or on the following social media sites:

The Write Stuff: http://marciamearawrites.com/

Twitter: @marciameara

Facebook: www.facebook.com/marcia.meara.writer

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/marciameara/

Bookin’ It: http://marciameara.wordpress.com

 

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68 thoughts on “The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Marcia Meara

  1. Pingback: The 2019 Interview Series Featuring Marcia Meara | Legends of Windemere

  2. As always, a fascinating interview, for which thanks, both. I agree that characters are central to any story. Without strong characters, even a well-written plot isn’t going to be successful.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I loved learning more about Marcia. Thanks for doing this, Don.

    Marcia, the comparison you made to paintings above a sofa was brilliant. I’m sure you already know this, but I wish nothing but the best for you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, thanks, Staci! The sofa thing came to me a couple of years ago, and it seemed to fit what I felt about authors as allies. I know there are a few who consider other writers competition, but it makes no sense. Books are art, but they not a one-time art acquisition. Readers will buy new books for as long as writers keep producing them. We may have teetering To Be Read piles, but we will never get tired of reading the next good book.

      And thanks so much for your support. Life is starting to slow down enough for me to get back to my WIP, which has passed the halfway point. I’ve been stymied off and on for months, with one thing after another, but I’m determined to get this one finished. Soon! You’ll be the first to know! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    Guess who’s Don Massenzio’s guest today on his 2019 Interview Series? Yep, ME! 😀 I’m honored and excited to be featured, and I hope you’ll stop by to say hello. Don’t forget to help spread the word, too. thanks. And my heartfelt thanks to Don, as well, for inviting me to chat with his friends and followers. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ooops, may have misled you, Janet. I don’t use real folders or paper. My “folders” are all set up on my PC desktop, and I drag and drop or cut & paste things into them. I use them exactly like I used to use real folders, though, so we have that in common. 😀 And Word is perfect for me. Simple, yet with plenty of extras to help: Thesaurus, spellcheck, etc. Love it. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking the time to say hi! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ah, gotcha, Janet. It isn’t actually the real paper I mind as much as my totally illegible handwriting! And the very long time it takes me to manually write anything. I can still type about 100wpm, while I write about 3. 😀 No percentage in it for me. 😉 ❤

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I knew you would make this interview exciting and interesting and you didn’t disappoint! And am I the only one trying to guess the author you no longer read? I think I know but I could be very wrong. I too don’t plot and it’s always great to meet another panster. I love your grandmother’s advice, Don’t forget to laugh!! You certainly haven’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, thanks so much, Darlene! So glad you enjoyed the interview. My grandmother was a hoot, honestly. I still miss her!

      And you just might have guessed that author I don’t read anymore, but I’d only admit it to you in private. I try not to talk publicly about things like that–besides which, his fans (and there are plenty) would probably rise up in a body and smack me about the head and shoulders! 😯 Seriously, I don’t even leave bad reviews anymore. (Partly because if I don’t like the book, I don’t finish it. My time’s too precious to waste on stuff I’m not enjoying.)

      As for laughing, I honestly don’t know how people with no sense of humor survive. It’s what keeps us going. (Sometimes the ONLY thing keeping us going.) I heartily recommend spontaneous bouts of joyous laughter at random moments. Not only does it make you feel better, it gives spectators something to wonder about! 😉 😀

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Darlene! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes, best not to badmouth anyone as it could come back and bite you, you know where! I meant to mention that Old Yeller was the first book that made me cry, hard. In fact, I still cry thinking about it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Well, of course you cried at Ol’ Yeller, Darlene. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to! Almost all of the animal books I read as a child made me cry, and some of them still do! (Don’t even get me started on The Yearling! 😥

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Marcia, you named two of my favorite fantasy authors – Schwab (I’ll read anything she writes) and Bardugo (I’ve only read her Six of Crows series so far). I have at least one Sanderson book, but haven’t gotten to it yet. Great interview!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, Teri! I’m with you. I’ll read ANYTHING by Schwab and Bardugo, both! They are blinkin’ brilliant. I enjoyed Bardugo’s Grisha books, but Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom blew me away! Kaz Brekker will probably remain as one of my favorite characters of all time. As for Schwab, well, all I can say is my two latest cats are brothers named Kell and Rhy. 🙂

      I truly enjoy Brandon Sanderson, but my favorites are probably the Alloy of Law books, which are a sort of spinoff from his terrific Mistborn series. And Sanderson has kept me sane while waiting (so far) more than THREE years for Jim Butcher to get back to his Dresden Files books! I can’t believe he’s left his fans in the lurch so long. 😦 But I’ll forgive him everything if he gets that next one out soon. (As another aside, my other two cats are named Harry & Murphy). 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by today, Teri, and for taking time to comment. I predict you’ll enjoy Sanderson, and will be interested in seeing what you think when you get to him. 😀 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • All of our animals are named for my favorite characters. Harry & Murphy are from The Dresden Files, and Potter was from–well, you can surely guess where that came from. 😀 But naming animals for book characters goes way, way back for me. And of course, my daughter’s middle name is Rebecca, because of Daphne du Maurier’s most wonderful novel of the same name. I read it at 12 and have never stopped loving it, so it was a given one of my kids would get the name. Their father insisted it be the girl. Tsk. 😀 😀 😀

        Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, but are you actually buying tickets, Mary? Because I keep hoping to win it, too, but somehow never remember that part where I have to spend money on something as intangible as a mere CHANCE. (I’d never make a good gambler!) At any rate, thanks so much for the kind comments, and I’m very happy to see you stopping by here today. Would LOVE to go out on an eco-tour with you one of these days. (I keep telling Don, who actually doesn’t live too far away, that he should come join me on one of those, too.) 😀 One of these days, we’ll have a boat FILLED with our online writing friends. Wouldn’t that be grand?? 😀 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ha. I suspected as much. Of course, with me, it isn’t forgetting so much as not believing they’ll pull my name out of the hat in the first place. And $5 in the hand is–well–$5 that isn’t in someone ELSE’S hand. 😀 (Told ya, I’m not a gambler. I can spend money like crazy, but I want something definite in exchange for it.) 😉 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Robbie! Thanks so much for such nice compliments. So glad you thought I actually knew what I was doing when I wrote Swamp Ghosts! 😀 I did have an idea, but no outline. I just started at the beginning and kept going until I reached the end. It’s nice to know there are readers like you who think I did a decent job of it. As soon as I finish the last of WRR#4, The Light, I’ll be back in Riverbend with a new tale, featuring some old favorites along with introducing several new ones. Hope you’ll enjoy it when you get a chance to read it someday. 😀 Thanks for stopping by!! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your lovely compliments, Jacquie! So very nice of you!! I wish I could take more credit for my characters, but they pretty much arrive with a story they insist I write down. I DO, however, look them over from head to toe, and if they resemble a certain Norse god of thunder, I just might sneak that description into the book without their knowledge. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • There you go, being nice again, Don. Should I worry that you’re up to something? (Around here, when that happens, it arouses suspicion. Even the animals usually have an ulterior motive.) 😀 😀 😀

        But I thank you, anyway. It’s a lovely thing to say. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great to see you here Marcia, and I’m secretly (well, not so much now) relieved to hear someone else has gone back from those other programmes to the simplicity of Word. I totally agree, when there is SO much functionality, I can’t face the time needed to learn it, or getting distracted by it.
    I also have folders within folders in Word – it’s just neat and easy to use.
    I do use the corkboard facility on Scrivener if I want to shuffle chapters around when I’m checking the timelines of my multiple plot strands, but I still go back to writing in Word once I’m organised.
    I’m glad I’m not the only one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Debby! And yes, Word does everything I need it to do without the learning curve and distractions, so why not? (As we say down here, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) 😀 Everyone has their method, but mine is working for me so far.

      As for bulletin boards for notes, rearranging chapters, etc, I found a free one online, and I love it. I can set up as many different boards as I want, too, and have one for each book, so I can jot down ideas for promos and things, even after they’re published. I’ve been moving lots of my notes to it lately. It’s pretty fast, as I don’t have to open a big program to access it. (I looked through MANY online boards before choosing this one for ease of use and speed).

      OH, and I also set up separate boards for my own ToDo Lists and other functions. I keep it open in the taskbar for easy reference and find it to be quicker for me than the one in Scrivener. You can click back and forth between the boards in a flash, too. Very useful. I even have one for my garden, with plant photos and DIY ideas, and lots of other stuff. And you can mark each board Public or Private. It’s at pinup.com should you ever want to check it out.

      See, once an admin/secy, always an admin/secy. If only I was as organized in my house as I am with my paperwork. 😯 😀

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fabulous, thank you, that sounds great – I always have to have a moment with Scrivener, trying to remember how to open and use the corkboard, but I’ve done so as I own the programme. On the other hand, easy to use sounds right up my street, so I’m off to check this one out!

        Liked by 1 person

      • If you decide to give Pin Up a try, let me know how it works for you. It’s free, so no reason not to explore when you have time. (Oh, haha. Don’t you just love it when I make silly statements like that?) The program isn’t perfect, but it’s the easiest and most flexible one I’ve found, outside of a larger program like Scrivener. Hope you find it useful. 🙂

        Like

    • Hi, Michael! Thanks for stopping by. So many tools and programs out there for writers! I finally gave up on all but Word and a good bulletin board for notes, etc. Plus my own folders for ideas, photos, and the like. I agree, it’s confusing for newbies, until they find what works best for them.

      As for structure, I know some writers thrive on that–possibly most–but I find too much structure can kill my desire to write. If I had a few more decades ahead of writing ahead, I would probably try to devise a way to use outlines, etc, but I don’t. Instead, I just start at the beginning of my tale and keep going until I get to the end, and that’s about all the structure I can handle. (Possibly not a good idea for everyone, I’ll admit.)

      Thanks taking the time to comment, and I hope you have a great weekend, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Julie! Glad you enjoyed it. Don asks some great questions in these interviews, and I have been enjoying the entire series, myself. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to say hi. 🙂 ❤

      Like

  8. It’s great to learn more about you, Marcia. I use Word also. Whatever I use, iPad or phone, I always email to my laptop and copy on Word. I loved reading animal stories also. Spending time with grandchildren is always a joy.
    Thank you, Don for the interview!

    Liked by 1 person

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