Heading to the airport to pick up Jake and his friends and hoping the predicted tropical storm will blow past us, instead of hitting us…although if it does rain hard, I do have a couple more books lined up that I’d love to read, including Cathy Maxwell’s latest.
One of the delicious books I’ve just finished is Mary Burton aka Mary Ellen Taylor‘s The Union Street Bakery. I love Mary’s voice and ‘had to’ pick up her first women’s fiction release when we were together at the book signing at Nora Robert’s bookstore in Maryland back in April. I loved The Union Street Bakery and found the novel very hard to put down.
I’m so pleased to have Mary as a guest on my blog today, to share more with us about The Union Street Bakery. Welcome to the JaneBlog, Mary!
Some writers like to let plot ideas percolate and grow for a while before they start writing the story. How about you? That certainly was true for THE UNION STREET BAKERY (Berkley Trade, February 2013). This story stayed on the back burner for years. As I tackled other writing projects it keep tugging at me. I kept filling up more and more sticky notes with story ideas until finally I had to write the story. And I am so glad I did write it. THE UNION STREET BAKERY is one of my favorites.
Tell us what your current release is about, in 2 or 3 sentences. My first women’s fiction novel THE UNION STREET BAKERY features Daisy’s McCrae who has lost her job, moved home to live above her family’s financially troubled bakery, and faces the challenge of searching for the birth mother who abandoned her at the bakery when she was three. SWEET EXPECTATIONS, the sequel to THE UNION STREET BAKERY will be out in November 2013. Under the name Mary Burton I have two suspense novels out this year including THE SEVENTH VICTIM (February 2013) and NO ESCAPE (November 2013).
Name five items sitting on your desk right now. To my right is my calendar, which I consider an extension of my brain. I’ve used the same style of calendar for years. I not only use it to map out my daily page count goals but it also is the family calendar, which tracks not only my appointments but the kids as well. Next, there is a picture of my kids (who are college age now) taken when they were about one and two. They are sitting at my desk (which was just a card table at the time) and typing on my computer. I’d only been writing a year or two at this point and hadn’t published my first novel. This picture always makes me smile. Also on the desk is my Weight Watchers’ pocket guide, the exercise schedule from the YMCA and lots of sticky notes with scattered ideas for novels yet to be.
Do you have a writing schedule or any writing rituals to help you achieve your daily writing quota? I’m up early so that I can get my workout done before I write. Getting up and moving gets my brain firing and I find the writing is always smoother if I’ve exercised first. I’m usually at my desk by 8:30 a.m. in the morning because I find I am most creative in the mornings. Also, when I start a project I map out daily page goals. I pencil them on my calendar because there is something about seeing the goals in writing that makes them all the more real in my mind. Often after a midday break (to walk my miniature dachshunds) I’m back at the computer working. I work most every day because I find sticking to a routine is very important for me.
Do you incorporate any of your own life experiences into your stories? Do you get asked this question very often? I do get this question a lot. And I think to really develop a strong voice as a writer you have to put yourself into the story. When I was writing THE UNION STREET BAKERY I put a lot of personal experiences into the book. The heroine in THE UNION STREET BAKERY, Daisy McCrae, is an adult adoptee. My youngest child is adopted and I incorporated many of my daughter’s personality traits into Daisy. And of course when Daisy has scenes with her adoptive mother you’ll see a lot of me. Though our family’s adoption story is very different from Daisy’s many of the emotions are very similar.
Sweet or savory? Sweet. I love to bake. I’ve always joked you can tell how the writing is going by the number of cupcakes on the counter. If I’m struggling with a story, I find mixing a batter or dough always helps shake loose ideas that won’t flow. And of course at the end of it all I have a wonderful sweet treat to enjoy. One of my favorite parts of writing THE UNION STREET BAKERY was testing the recipes I included in the back of the book.
Rock or country music? Country Music. Years ago when I was writing historical romances set in the American West I started listening to country music and I got hooked. During this morning’s workout I listened to some my favorite groups including Gloriana, Sugarland and Lady Antebellum.
What does success mean to you? It means continuing to do what I’m doing right now—writing stories. Being able to make a living doing what I love so much is a real blessing.
After a career in marketing MARY ELLEN TAYLOR shifted gears and became a full time writer. Her first women’s fiction novel THE UNION STREET BAKERY was released by Berkley Trade in February 2013 and her second SWEET EXPECTATIONS will be out in November 2013. Under the name MARY BURTON she also writes suspense novels. Her latest suspenses include THE SEVENTH VICTIM (January 2013) and NO ESCAPE (November 2013). Mary is a member of Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America.
Mary, thank you so much for sharing with us today! Readers be sure to check out both of Mary’s websites and if you get a chance, do read her novels. I’m totally hooked and to share the love, I’m giving away, to two lucky winners, a copy of Mary’s The Union Street Bakery, my book The Good Woman, a Starbucks drink card and more fun JP goodies. For a chance to win, tell me which other authors you read who write more than one genre and which one of their books you’d recommend to someone trying them for the first time. Contest ends on next week on Wednesday and I’ll announce winners on Thursday. Good luck!