Mary is offering one $5 Amazon Gift Card, which is perfect for either purchasing her novel HOME SECRETS or any other e-book(s) of your choice, to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 22nd, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!
Excerpt from HOME SECRETS, Book 1 of the Hawkes Landing Series:
Why I Write About Family and Strong Women by Mary J. Forbes
Elaine, thank you for inviting me to guest blog on Everyone’s Story. It’s such a pleasure to talk to your readers about writing, a topic dear to my heart, and especially when you asked what I hope to convey in my books.
Where to begin? I’ve always gravitated toward fiction that deals with dark issues and people who are splintered emotionally and/or spiritually. Reading stories that make me cry and laugh and feeling the beauty of healing within the characters is an allure I can’t resist.
For several years I wrote contemporary romances. Home Secrets is my first venture into the more complex arena of women’s fiction. While there still is a love story plaited into the plot, it is not the main focus. Rather, the story embraces the relationships between two damaged women who at first become friends through necessity, and then discover the true meaning of “sisters of the heart”.
All my books—including the shorter romances—reflect real life issues. They zero in on everyday relationships between friends and family as they find the courage to struggle through complexities and individualisms in their home and their community. These issues often are not easy. I’ve included dyslexia, autism, divorce, artificial insemination, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and prejudice, in my works. Such issues lead to long hours of research—which can be intensely rewarding! I’ve learned a great deal about the heartache and distress some people have endured. And what amazed me most in the real life cases I researched was the strength and power of the human heart. In a couple instances, the simple belief in overcoming adversity was astounding.
It’s that strength and belief I try to convey in every book with every heroine. She embodies the ‘woman’s journey’ in a dozen ways. She is the soul of the story, the rock on whom others rely even while she combats her inner demons. And in its midst she gains confidence, laughter, and the anticipation of something good and stable on the horizon. Something that can evolve into a home and, most importantly, a family.
And so, the old adage family comes first has become my inner mantra while writing each of my books. The characters may be fractured emotionally, they may face overwhelming odds, but when they need a soft place to fall they look over and over again toward home and family. It is the place where healing conquers, hope is nurtured, and love is found at last.
Questions for Mary J. Forbes:
Mary, you’ve shared with us about why you create strong heroines and tell of the “woman’s journey.” Has one specific character you’ve created ever surprised you with a major life lesson or insight you’d like to share?
All my heroines surprise me with the strength they exude in their particular problem or conflict. Sometimes they “write themselves.” By that I mean they show a side I didn’t expect, be it humor or courage in a specific situation. Case in point, I’ve had a heroine become outright audacious when she was known as the ‘quiet one’. And for good reason! More recently, one of the women in Home Secrets displays a beautiful and daring spirit that came out of nowhere when facing the man who changed her life forever at age fourteen.
For me creating and writing heroines is not easy. Too often they don’t truly show themselves until I’m far into the book. That can cause some angst in the process but, more likely, have me banging my head on the keyboard, lol. Truth is I don’t want even the tiniest part of me in the heroine. I want her to be herself. Yet we all know fiction is based on a hodgepodge of human emotions and personalities that flit in and out of our lives.
What similarities and differences have you discovered in writing longer women’s fiction from your shorter romances?
Women’s fiction allows me to dig deeper into my characters. It gives me the freedom to write plots that are darker and perhaps more daring with issues that wouldn’t make the cut in romance. And I love delving into more points of view. In my shorter works, I found it constricting at times not to give a specific character their say when I felt he/she had something important to add to the story. That said, I learned a great deal writing 70,000-word romances. Specifically, how to painlessly cull sentences and words—no matter how much I loved them!—that slowed the pace or didn’t move the plot forward. And I learned how to weave a story chapter by chapter and tie up loose ends in the plot when it was done.
Any tips on self-publishing you’d like to share with writers who are contemplating the venue of publishing?
Do as much homework as you can on the industry. It won’t be easy, but it will be immensely rewarding. And be prepared to have a LOT of patience! There are only a handful of authors who make it big right out the gate. The rest of us know it will take any number of books for readers to find us. So write that next book and get it out there. Then write another one. And another.
Mary's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Mary J. Forbes: Why Family And Strong Women Are Necessary Elements In Fiction. #Giveaway (Tweet This)
Award-winning author Mary J. Forbes shares jump from category to women’s fiction to self-publishing. (Tweet This)
Mary J. Forbes writes stories with an emotional depth that is reflected in each of her characters. Several of her (Harlequin) Silhouette Special Edition books were Waldenbooks bestsellers, and reached BookScan and Amazon’s respective top 100 lists. Mary loves to garden and especially enjoys the color and fragrances of the flowers she plants each spring and summer. The rain of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her family is often portrayed in her stories. But once the clouds roll away, her heroes and heroines always find their rainbow waiting on the horizon.
Places to connect with Mary: