Welcome, Mary Ann. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
There are many quirks to choose from, but probably the top one is buying a toy dung beetle and hiding it in various props during a civic theater musical’s dress rehearsal. I still laugh remembering the lead’s face when she opened a box, saw it, and jumped back. (Apologies to our poor stressed-out director.) (And I was in my 40’s, not a teenager at the time….)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In 4th grade a poem I’d written made it into the school literary publication The Edison Eagle. That gave me the confidence to tell my teacher that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My favorites are cozy mysteries with interesting settings—British Isles,
Venice, the Appalachians, Canada, ,
etc. I like both historical and contemporary. As a former children’s librarian,
I enjoy the full range of children’s books, from picture books through young
adult. My book club has nudged me into discovering biographies and thoughtful non-mystery
fiction. I like inspirational and devotional books that help with spiritual growth.
Humorous books are a fun change of pace. Minnesota
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Our pets help me slow down once I’m home: nothing like a purring cat on your lap, or a snuggly guinea pig to quiet blood pressure. Walking the dog is a peaceful time to enjoy nature and fresh air. Putting on music CDs makes tasks like cleaning and dish washing more fun. Swimming laps when possible is very rhythmic and peaceful, and is a good chance to ponder my life—or not. When I don’t have to be somewhere early in the morning, journaling is a big help, whether it’s uncovering profound insights or just jotting a to-do list. Remembering to turn worry into prayer eases much tension. Singing in choirs is a joy, and the songs often run through my mind—and maybe my voice—when I’m driving somewhere.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Randomly. By feel. The name “Mandy” is undoubtedly a result of my being a teenager in the 70’s and loving Barry Manilow’s song. Mandy’s best friend, “Shelby,” has a warmth that reminds me of Southern gentleness and caring, and of a cousin’s wife by that name.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
In personal life, raising two kind daughters who are loving and helpful to those around them. Professionally, one for each career: as a librarian, directing a Ghost Story Writing Contest for 14 years, encouraging many young writers to recognize their talents; as a preschool teacher, being patient and interested enough to get some students who feared speaking to finally talk; and as a writer, sticking with revising and submitting Mandy’s Song many years until it found a publishing home and reached readers.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A deer, because I enjoy being in the woods, quiet but curious. They have a mysterious, other-worldly quality that J.K. Rowling expressed in the Harry Potter books.
What is your favorite food?
Chocolate, in many forms. From Nutella to choco-mint anything, from candy to mousse to cake.
I love chocolate, too. Dark chocolate. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
For me it was overcoming procrastination and discouragement. If I have a specific deadline for an editor, I can work hour after hour into the night to get it done, letting other tasks slide. But for many, many years I didn’t have an editor waiting, and it was easy to let the writing be the work that got put off. The things that helped were: attending writers’ and book conferences and finding writing friends. Friends lifted me up out of rejection despair, and rejoiced with each little victory. Critique group meetings gave me deadlines before I had an editor. Applying for scholarships and fellowships brought needed encouragement when I won them: thank you Highlights Foundation and Midwest Writers Workshop. Also, Julia Cameron’s exercises in The Artist’s Way helped me in many ways. Whether it’s grief, discouragement, fear or lack of self-confidence, obstacles have impeded me from getting the writing done. I’ve learned to be gentle with myself after a death in the family, for example. My inner artist is stunned for a while, and doesn’t have the joy needed to create. I’ve learned to be gentle when needed, but firm when needed, too. When I’m starting a project, it’s less threatening to write by hand in a notebook, then switch to typing on the computer once the ideas are flowing.
Interesting. Tell us about the featured book.
Mandy has two hopes during her senior year of high school: to develop her singing skill enough to win a lead in a musical and secure a place in a college music school; and to nudge her friendship with Erik into romance. Her self-doubt and Erik’s distrust of others cause difficulty moving forward with this dream. From childhood Mandy has had other dreams: that come true. She has to discern if her dreams are ordinary ones, symbolic ones—or prophetic. When her nightmares about Erik’s well-being worsen, she must draw on her courage, her faith, and her love for him, to help.
Please give us the first page of the book.
It’s funny how life-changing events can start with something so small. Something as insignificant as a doodle in the margin of a calculus notebook. My stomach was already swirling at the thought of the after-school Cinderella audition when I reached third-hour Calc. Erik had gotten there first and sprawled at the desk behind mine, drawing in his spiral notebook. The dark curls on his forehead and the unguarded look on his face combined to make my insides churn like a blender switched to High. After a cleansing breath and some mental coaching—Calm down, Mandy!—I made it to my desk. Erik folded his long legs so I could get into my seat. ‚Today is it, right? The big audition?‛ He did a pencil drum roll. ‚Riverwood’s very own high school musical.‛ Even with my queasy stomach, I couldn’t help laughing. I twisted to face him. ‚Yeah, it’s my dramatic moment. Will she or won’t she win a lead senior year? Tune in on Tuesday.‛ My shoulders relaxed. He was so good at breaking up tension. One of the many likeable things about him. His open notebook caught my attention. I always enjoyed checking out the aliens or birds or trees he drew in the margins.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is http://www.maryannsteinke-moore.com
Facebook page is: Mary Ann Steinke-Moore Author
Instagram is: steinkemoore
Thank you, Mary Ann, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me.
Readers, here’s a link to the book.Mandy's Song
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