Sunday, May 31, 2015

Networking and writing with Hawaii's Mary Deal

Do you network with other writers? That is perhaps the most rewarding aspect of having a blog. Sure, I hope folks will be interested enough to buy my books and my guests' books, but getting to know them either through cyberspace or in person is an awesome experience.  I had been friends with Mary Deal for many years in the cyber world. As she wrote books, I interviewed her here and have read most of them. She's an excellent writer. But the most amazing thing happened this past summer. Out of the blue she invited my husband and I to come to Hawaii and meet her in person. YES! Honolulu, Hawaii! We got our plans in order and flew from eastern North Carolina to Hawaii almost non-stop. WHEW! What an awesome trip that was. When we arrived, it was as though Mary and I had known each other since childhood and we pretty much acted like a couple of kids the entire week! I know this kind of generosity doesn't happen every day, but if you aren't networking, you should give it a try. The writing life offers all kinds of unexpected intrinsic rewards. Now on to my interview with Mary Deal:

Mary Deal is an award-winning author of suspense/thrillers, a short story collection, writers’ references, is a Pushcart Prize nominee, an artist/photographer, and former columnist and magazine editor. She is a multi-genre writer and author in both fiction and nonfiction. She resides in Hawaii.Welcome back to the blog, Mary.

Thank you, Susan. I have to add a few thoughts about your trip.You didn’t get to sample a Manapua, a steamed bun with meat and vegetables inside.Nor did you taste the Octopus rolls.

I guess I'm not quite that adventurous Mary, LOL but I do appreciate you taking my husband to climb Diamond Head while I recuperated from your EXCESSIVE energy. And it was neat to meet a man from North Carolina who set us up in a condo on the 19th floor with three ocean views! One of the highlights of the trip other than meeting you in person, was going to Pearl Harbor. Wow! What an experience that was for patriotic folks like my husband and I. I shed a few tears at the Arizona Memorial. So quiet.I could look right down into the water where so many of them are still.

Okay, okay. We have to get to the interview. I think people will understand how great an experience this was. Let's snack on some dark chocolate macadamia nuts while we chat.

Tell us about your mystery series, Mary.

Two plots carry through the Sara Mason mystery series, that of Sara solving cold cases and that of her love interest Huxley Keane searching for this brother’s remains in Vietnam.

In The Howling Cliffs, A Sara Mason Mystery, after a trek through the Vietnam jungle, Sara gets involved in a cold case on Kauai, that of a 6 year old girl missing for 10 years.
How has your environment affected your writing?

As you know from visiting here, Hawaii is conducive to clearing the mind. Living in Hawaii, I’m thrilled when people such as yourself can come and visit. It’s as if I can share the aura of this place that takes away cares, puts everything in better perspective and lets us focus on what we do best.

For the past nearly 20 years, I have found peaceful living among the islands to be exactly what I needed. Much to do is available but by using a little restraint, and concentration on the importance of my writing, is not distracting. I know your busy schedule, Susan, and saw you relaxing among these balmy trade winds and incredible sights to see.

Incredibly relaxing and I think I could write there on the balcony with no problem.

Give a short synopsis of your most recently published book.

If I may, since The Howling Cliffs, A Sara Mason Mystery is the 1st sequel to River Bones:

From the River Bones story, Sara is stalked by a psychopathic killer in California’s Sacramento River Delta. She meets Huxley Keane, the love of her life, and then loses him. But Sara and Huxley have built a history together, she having learned that he searches for the remains of his brother and the daughter of their mutual friend, Esmerelda, among other MIAs in Vietnam. Later, Sara agrees to become a decoy for the Sheriff’s Department and falls into the clutches of the elusive madman who leaves no live witnesses as human skeletons keep turning up.

In this story, The Howling Cliffs, Sara and Huxley are deep in the jungle in Vietnam where they find one MIA’s meager remains. As Huxley flies back to the United States to get them identified, Sara becomes involved in a cold case on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Knowing someone wants to put an end to her investigations to keep a cold case cold, and tries to kill her to do it, leads to a half-crazed homicidal maniac who is just sane enough to keep suspicion off himself.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

In The Howling Cliffs, I had not intended to take the characters into the Vietnam jungle as Huxley searches for his MIA brother’s remains. That part could merely be alluded to in the rest of this story which takes place in Hawaii. Then, out of nowhere, I met a former Marine who freely and graciously provided me perfect information and edited my descriptions. This allowed me to place the characters in the jungle and added greater depth to this continuing subplot.

Can you imagine how grateful I am to this man? I dedicated the book to him.

That's great!

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

Usually I state the obvious when imparting any advice to others, you know about doing research and proper grammar, punctuation, and such. But this time, with more and more people publishing eBooks, what I’ll say here it that I’ve found most all eBooks have terrible formatting. If writers self-publish, then they need to learn formatting. Nothing spoils a good read like sentences and paragraphs all askew, blank pages in the middle of a story, titles on the bottom of a blank page, etc. These types of errors will ruin a writer’s reputation at a time when it’s most critical. Either writers need to learn proper formatting or they must hire someone to do it.

 I totally agree with you. I've seen some really bad formatting and still prefer a hard book.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

As you know, I travel too far and too fast to carry heavy electronics. When out and about, a tiny notebook is my permanent companion. When I am back home everything gets transcribed into a note file on PC. I noticed while you were here that you took a few notes yourself. I’m wondering what you are conjuring about Hawaii that may later show up in one of your books.

 Only time will tell, my friend.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?

Online, I participate in many writers’ sites. Just getting to know people and spreading the word about my books with video trailers, cover images, and exciting bits of chapters, brings book sales. I must remain active online. I live on the most remote land mass on earth and much traveling is not an option. My big writing site,, teaches writing. When writers find good advice they are likely to buy a book from someone they trust. Too, I also have two online art galleries for my oil paintings and photography and many friends from those sites have purchased my books.

Offline, you had a taste of what it’s like to do word-of-mouth advertising in a new area far from home. Passing out an informative business card keeps us in people’s minds, as does a free or donated book now and then. When traveling, it’s a chance to place your books in places they may never show up – a great opportunity to reach more readers. Had you not come to Hawaii, you’d not have made such wonderful contacts way out here in the middle of the Pacific unless you searched for them online. Anytime we travel provides a magnificent opportunity to simply talk to people, make friends and Network. And you are so good at it! It’s no wonder people seek you out for promotion.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

The Howling Cliffs is published in eBook format. Around June the paperback will be released. In the interim, I’m working on my 11th book, another nonfiction with the topics coming from my former career field as a clinical hypnotherapist. If my schedule holds, later in the year, my smaller books, Legacy of the Tropics, and Off Center in the Attic will go to paperback as well. Late in 2016, the next sequel to River Bones will be published.


Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

My books are available at Amazon (with some at smashwords)  along with those where I am a contributor. Your Killer Recipes cookbook, Susan, I am proud to claim is among them. My Amazon Author page:

Mary also contributed some great recipes for my cookbook, including Stuffed-in-the-trunk mushrooms. Available in Kindle or paperback at

Mary, please tell Ron how much we enjoyed his company as well. Maybe we can link up again somewhere in the future. Hugs to you both and continued success with your writing, networking, art, and photography.