Much of this business is spent in our writing caves–unless you’re a frequent best seller and then you write in the cozy confines of your beach house. So I love it when I get to meet other members of the writing tribe. Today I’d like to introduce you to author, Maria Geraci. She was kind enough to drop by and answer a few questions about her latest release That Thing You Do (coming Tuesday, April 28th). I had the opportunity to read this one ahead of time and if you’re fans of Kristan Higgins’ Blue Heron series, you’re going to LOVE Whispering Bay.
First, let’s meet Maria:
Maria Geraci was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised on Florida’s Space Coast. Her love of books started with the classic, Little Women (a book she read so often growing up, she could probably quote). She writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. The Portland Book Review called her novel, The Boyfriend of the Month Club, “immensely sexy, immensely satisfying and humorous.” Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA ® award. Her current addictions include watching the STARZ adaption of OUTLANDER to drool over Sam Heughan, hitting the beach on the weekends, and searching for the perfect key lime pie recipe (but not the kind they served on Dexter).
Tracy: Where can readers find you?
Maria: They can find me on my website http://www.mariageraci.com or at Facebook (I’m addicted!) at https://www.facebook.com/MariaGeraciBooks
Or on Pinterest (another site I love) https://www.pinterest.com/mariageraci/
Of course, if you really want to find me, you can come down to north Florida and search the beaches. If it’s warm and sunny, I’ll be there!
Tracy: If someone wrote a book about you, what would the title be and why?
Maria: I’m totally going to rip this off from Mary Kay Andrews, who gave a great talk at the Washington Romance Writers Retreat this past weekend, but I’d say, LATE BLOOMER. Simply because I didn’t start writing until I hit 40 and then all those repressed stories just started coming out.
What are 5 things readers should know about you?
1. I hate mayonnaise (no really).
2. I’m a huge Survivor fan.
3. I cry every time I hear Over The Rainbow (best song ever!)
4. I must have some form of chocolate every day (yes, it’s an addiction).
5. Squirrels give me the creeps (you do know they’re just rats with cute tails, right?).
What is the significance to the title THAT THING YOU DO?
There’s a little bit of a sixties theme going on in the book, and I love the movie That Thing You Do, starring Tom Hanks, about a sixties band. Plus, there’s the play on words that I thought went well with the storyline.
Please share a few random facts about THAT THING YOU DO.
It’s set in the imaginary town of Whispering Bay, Florida, which I modeled after Port St. Joe, a small town in the Florida panhandle.
I actually downloaded the same ghost detector app on to my smart phone that Tom and Allie use in the book. It was great fun, and for a while there, I was obsessed with finding ghosts everywhere!
Ha! Ha! I wondered about that ap! I’m not sure I want to know if there are any ghosts in the room with me, though. ;)
Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?
That’s easy. Taylor Kinney in the role of Tom Donalan and Mandy Moore as Allie Grant. I have a Pinterest board with all my main characters. It’s so easy to envision them once I put a “face” to them.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
Don’t hold grudges. Tom and Allie (my hero and heroine) both must overcome their past in order to build a future together. Easier said than done, sometimes!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I have 2 more books in this series coming out this spring. THEN HE KISSED ME comes out May 19 and THAT MAN OF MINE on June 9. I’m currently working on a 4th novel in the series which will probably come out in winter of 2016.
Thanks for stopping by Women Unplugged today, Maria. Maria’s throwing a big party on Facebook on Tuesday, April 28th. Drop by and chat with us. There will be PRIZES! In the meantime, Maria is giving away a digital copy of THAT THING YOU DO. Just comment below by Friday, May 1. Here’s Maria’s question:
THAT THING YOU DO is a book about second chances. People seem to really love reunion stories. How about you? What do you like best them about them?
Allie Grant doesn’t believe in second chances. She does, however, believe in the power of a permanent paycheck. So when a tipster reports that the soon-to-be demolished senior center in her hometown is haunted, Allie hightails it to Whispering Bay to get the scoop that could secure her dream job at Florida! magazine. What she finds, though, is far scarier than any ghost. Cue her ex-boyfriend, sexy construction foreman Tom Donalan.
When Tom catches Allie poking around his construction site, he quickly realizes his former high school flame is just as feisty as ever. And, heaven help him, her irresistible, mile-high legs still take his breath away. But Tom isn’t about to delay the building’s demolition because of a silly ghost story.
With neither of the stubborn exes backing down from their opposing positions, sparks fly. And, underneath the surface, the fire of their old attraction burns as hot as ever. When strange things start happening with increasing frequency around town, even a tough skeptic like Tom is tested. The question is, can Allie and Tom stop fighting long enough to get to the bottom of Whispering Bay’s ghost problem—and the more important matter of mending their broken hearts?
Whether advice is good or bad for you has more to do with you than with the advice. For instance, a lot of people struggle with negative self-talk. That’s not me, and never has been. I’m fond of saying that I don’t have an inner critic—I have an inner cheerleader. So advice that’s aimed at silencing the inner critic is really quite awful for me.
To know whether writing advice is good for you, it’s important to understand what the advice is meant to achieve. If it’s trying to solve a problem you don’t have, following it can make you unhappy and unproductive. Here are some examples of writing advice that’s turned out to be terrible for me.
Set Word Count Goals
Purpose: Ensure productivity
Productivity has never been a problem for me. I love to write. I’ve got a great relationship with my muse. Nothing makes me happier than writing fiction all day long. But the moment I set a word count goal, writing goes from being a joy to being a chore. I look for reasons to avoid it. So, no more word count goals for me.
Write Every Day
Purpose: Establish a consistent writing practice
As with any intense activity, if you write every day, there’s a good chance you’ll burn out. You need time to refill the well, because that’s where your stories come from: your experiences, your joys, your worries. You must have a life outside writing, and that means some days, you won’t have time to write. That’s okay.
If you’re writing most days, that’s probably good enough. If you’re writing a day or two a week (or less), then setting up a strict writing schedule, and sticking to it, might be a good practice for you, at least for a while. But even during periods when I’m not writing as often as I should, telling myself I have to write every day turns it into a chore (see above).
Finish the Book
Purpose: Complete a manuscript instead of continually tinkering with it
Obviously, at some point, you have to finish the book, or there’s no point. (Well, some manuscripts turn out to be practice ones with no future, and that’s fine, too.) But you don’t have to finish one book before you move on to another. I’ve probably got a dozen manuscripts in some stage of development. I like to write things down as they come into my head—whether it’s a logline, a scene, a synopsis, or whatever. My stories develop slowly, with my unconscious mind working on them over time. Some manuscripts I tinker with a lot as the story unfolds in my brain. Then there are the crunch times, when I know the story, and just have to get the book out to meet my publishing goals.
I’ve learned that I spend a lot of time cocooning, which is then followed by a flurry of activity. That’s my process. You need to find the process that works for you, and it may not be the one prescribed by a writing instructor.
Show, Don’t Tell
Purpose: Write scenes instead of summary
I naturally write in scenes. My first drafts are almost all dialogue, with a few stage directions, like a screenplay. But fiction isn’t like television or the movies. It requires much more description. Sometimes you need to state outright what the point-of-view character’s scene goal is. “She needed to convince the banker to let her into her brother’s safe deposit box, so she could find a clue to his whereabouts” sounds a lot like telling to me. But without this information, readers might have no idea of the purpose of the scene, or why they should care.
Purpose: Avoid a data dump
I naturally open my stories in media res, at the height of the action. I tend to start too late, with the inciting incident, rather than too early, talking about the protagonist’s childhood. I probably care less about the protagonist’s childhood than readers do. I need to add backstory, not to eliminate it. (If you want a great example of the importance of backstory and how to weave it artfully into a novel, read Ain’t She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.)
No one ever created art by following the rules. Art comes from breaking them, from trying something no one’s ever tried before. If other people’s voices are limiting you, like they did me, then stop listening. Trust yourself first.
What writing advice that sounded good at the time has turned out to be bad for you?
Image Copyright: vvvita / 123RF Stock Photo
This past week I turned 50, and while some of you might be groaning at this feat, I’m rejoicing. Celebrating! For a whole week, which at my age, can prove challenging. But I refuse to give in to the aging process. It’s not for sissies, that’s for sure. I mean, getting out of bed each morning can prove daunting in and of itself, what with stiff joints and muscles, puffy eyes and an over-tired brain from an over-active mind throughout the night. But should I let that stop me from enjoying the day?
Heck, no! I’ve got too much to do, too much to see–and that’s the key to aging well, or rather, staying young. Action. Intrigue. And the element of surprise…
For me, that translated to a trip to Vegas. It was my first time and probably won’t be my last. From the fountains of Bellagio to the free-wheelers on Freemont Street and the sky-high Ferris Wheel, there’s something for everyone to see and experience in this town–and everyone has an opinion on what that should be.
I felt like a virgin getting advice on her “first time” when I told people I was going to Vegas and had never been. Their eyes lit up, smiles curled their lips and they whispered in disbelief, “You’ve never been?” Then all proceeded to tell me what I HAD to see and HAD to do while I was there.
I confess I didn’t make it through all the suggestions, but I certainly ate and drank my way through the town, trying a little of this and a little of that… I also took time to stop and “smell the tulips” and appreciate the significance of turning 50 and everything it meant to me. I’m on the back side of the slope, sliding down toward my Golden Years in my last “hurrah” — decades of hurrah! While many feel their best days are behind them, I think mine are still ahead. Why?
Because I’m trying new things, setting new goals and going new places. I refuse to allow my life to become routine and instead, I choose to challenge myself to reach farther, jump higher–even scare myself a little. A 550 ft. high Ferris Wheel will do that to a gal with a tad fear of heights!
But it was worth it. Great views, great sensations rolling through my emotions, churning old fears into new accomplishments… It simply felt great to be alive. And that’s what living is about, right?
Yes. In my book, life is a journey. Living is a process. A very active process, one that continually stimulates the brain cells! The adrenaline cells, the panic cells, the exuberant cells…all of them. Now, where will I go at 60? No idea. I’m still recovering from 50! :)
There’s a writer’s exercise I believe to be great fun (pretty sure I’ve shared about it here before). I highly recommend!
You’re given five random words by someone, anyone, and must fuse them together to create a vignette or flash fiction piece. It’s a challenging way to get the creative juices flowing, and it can be really satisfying to see what you come up with… even when it’s almost too contrived, as my example below seems when I reread it.
Some years back I was given the words binge, crow, foray, refract, and wile. (I can’t remember now who’d dealt them to me.)
Her hair, beautiful and harsh, is the color of a crow. This is by careful choice, and she has it dyed once a month, every third Tuesday. She loves the mystique of the hue, the way it refracts the light as a wile, almost like there’s some blue to it.
Noah would have adored it, and so of course this is why. It is for him.
It was a month after he disappeared that she first had it colored. His foray into nothingness, hers into vanity. Because it is the single binge she’s found that stills the hurt, quiets the shame. Eating didn’t do it; she felt empty. Not drinking; she felt a waste of herself. And sleeping with Noah’s best friend, Mart, only buried guilt in her stomach and in her dreams.
So it is also for her, the hair and the rest, with the primping and pampering and perfection. It all says she is significant and strong and courageous, that she is and will be okay.
When she looks in the mirror to see what Noah left behind, she is satisfied by what she sees and she tells herself, You will be okay.
If there’s one thing I like about this little piece, it’s that the character comes through so strongly. I like her found sense of empowerment, that she has a thing—a simple thing – proving that, really, it comes down to decision and perspective—that affirms her status of being okay.
Now, so many years after writing this, a wholly different person than I was then, I relate to her. I appreciate her resolve, and that she herself has claimed the way it will be.
Do you want to try? Leave a comment below and I’ll give you five words.