Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Mary Simses plays by the rules...plus a book giveaway

Introduction and interview by Tracey Meyers

I always find it interesting when I meet a writer who either is or was an attorney. It’s not that I think attorneys aren’t interested in writing, but more that legal writing is so vastly different from other styles of writing. Today, we talk with Mary Simses, an author who, while working as a corporate attorney, enrolled in a fiction writing class at Fairfield University in Connecticut. The result was having several of her short stories published in literary magazines AND two novels published, including her newest one, The Rules of Love & Grammar (now in trade paperback). Mary grew up in Darien, Connecticut. She now lives in South Florida with her husband and daughter. Visit Mary at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks to Graff Media, we have FIVE copies of The Rules of Love & Grammar to give away!

Newly jobless, newly single, and suddenly apartmentless, writer Grace Hammond has come unmoored. A grammar whiz who's brilliant at correcting other people's errors, she hasn't yet found quite the right set of rules for fixing her own mistakes.

Desperate to escape the city and her trifecta of problems, Grace hits pause and retreats to her Connecticut hometown. What begins as a short visit with her parents quickly becomes a far more meaningful stay, though, as she discovers that the answers to what her future holds might be found by making peace with-and even embracing-the past.

As Grace sets out to change her ways and come to terms, finally, with the tragedy that took her older sister's life so many years ago, she rekindles a romance with her high school sweetheart, Peter, now a famous Hollywood director who's filming a movie in town. Sparks also fly at the local bike shop, where Grace's penchant for pointing out what's wrong rattles the owner's ruggedly handsome schoolteacher son, Mitch.

Torn between the promise of a glamorous life and the allure of the familiar, Grace must decide what truly matters-and whether it's time for her to throw away the rule book and bravely follow her heart.
(Courtesy of Amazon.)

Who has had the greatest influence on your writing?
My long-time friend, mentor, and fellow author, Jamie Cat Callan. Jamie taught an evening fiction writing course I took at Fairfield University in Connecticut, back in the early nineties. I was working as a corporate attorney at the time and I signed up for the class because I wanted to get back into creative writing after a long hiatus. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. We became good friends and it was Jamie who, years later, pushed me to write my first novel. She is the first reader and editor of anything I write. She has great insight into storytelling and character development.

Which of your characters is your favorite and why?
Yikes. I’ve heard other writers say that choosing their favorite character or book is like choosing their favorite child. Fortunately, I only have one child, so that’s easy. But character? Even with only two-and-a-half books under my belt (I’m currently halfway through the draft of a third), it’s a tough question. But I guess I’d have to say Grace Hammond, the protagonist in The Rules of Love & Grammar. There’s poignancy and fragility to Grace that I love, but she’s also tough when she needs to be. Plus, she has a goofy side that gets her into trouble, and I love that as well.

On your website you mention that your daughter is quite a writer herself. What advice would you give her if she wanted to pursue a career in writing?
I’d tell her first and foremost to be an observer of life – watch what people do, listen to what they say, look at what’s around you. There are a million stories happening every minute. You just need to slow down to discover them. In terms of more specific career advice, as in “how to you become an author?” that’s a hard one for me to answer, because I came at it in a roundabout way, having first worked in magazine publishing and then as a corporate lawyer. My becoming an author grew out of writing “on the side” for many years. So I guess my other piece of advice to her would be to be patient and keep at it, even if it means working at something else or doing some other kind of writing as a “day job” to pay the bills. Just keep doing it.

What is your favorite TV show:
I like comedies. I still watch a couple of hours of Seinfeld reruns each week, even though I’ve seen them a million times and know all the lines by heart. I recently discovered Party Down, about a group of actors who work for a catering company in Los Angeles, and I binge-watched that. I can’t believe it aired in 2009-2010 and I just found it. Where was I back then?! Probably writing. Or reading. I also loved Call My Agent, a French “dramedy” about a talent agency in Paris. It only ran for one season, although I read that seasons 2 and 3 will be released. I’m still waiting…

You have the day all to yourself, how do you spend the time?
I have a lot of days to myself, because my husband works at our law firm, and during the school year our daughter is away at college. So I’m home alone quite often (although we do have two cats and they would probably object to my use of the term alone). Some days I write a little, some days I write a lot, some days I don’t write at all because I’ve got a day full of the usual errands that everybody does, like the grocery store and the cleaner’s and returning the shoes that didn’t fit. On days when I write, I usually still go out. I don’t like being in the house all day, so I’ll see friends or take some pictures, or just go for a walk and clear my mind or think through a problem I’m having with the story I’m working on.

Favorite dessert:
It’s hard to name just one. I have a terrible sweet tooth. I do love warm, freshly-baked blueberry muffins. I paid tribute to those in my first novel, The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Café, a story that takes a fast-paced Manhattan attorney to a small town in Maine. The book was adapted as The Irresistible Blueberry Farm for the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. People have told me they get hungry just looking at the cover of the novel, which shows a jar of blueberry preserves.

The other dessert I can’t resist is apple pie the way my late mother made it, which means the apples are tender, not crunchy, and the crust is buttery. When I grew up in Darien, Connecticut, my mom used to make the best pies from the tiny, very tart apples that came from two old apple trees in our back yard. I can still remember the smell of apples and cinnamon in the air when a pie was baking. Apple pies are important in The Rules of Love & Grammar because there’s an orchard in the town where the story takes place and all of the restaurants feature their own version of the pie.

Thanks to Mary for chatting with us and to Graff Media for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends June 18th at midnight EST.


Anonymous said...

The grammar mistake that annoys me the most is when people use your by mistake when they should use you're.

Bonnie Y.

Janine said...

I'm not the best at spelling (unless spell check catches it) so spelling and grammar doesn't really bother me too much. But what does bother me is someone who never capitalizes anything and never uses periods at the end of sentences. I see this on Facebook all the time. Or, the newer young people's slang is annoying (like the word imma).

traveler said...

Using the word there, they're and their incorrectly.

Aire para respirar said...

In Spanish, people still don't know the difference between "a ver, haber" or "allá, haya", or "ay, hay, ahí". OMG

cpr040304 said...

When people us your and you're, to and too incorrectly.

diannekc said...

When people use the words "these ones" or "those ones", it just makes me cringe.

diannekc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori said...

Thanks for the chance!!! Already added it to my TBR List.
Lori Boyd

Rita Wray said...

When people use their, there and they're wrong it annoys me.

Bonnie K. said...

The one that annoys me the most is the incorrect use of they're, their, and there. Gets me every time.

Mary Preston said...

Those ones - just grates.

Susan Roberts said...

My pet peeve is YOUR vs YOU'RE.

Susan @ The Book Bag said...

When people say 'borrow' when they really mean 'loan' such as 'borrow me some money'. Grrrr.

Kimberly S said...

The incorrect use of words pronounced the same, but spelled differently.

Anonymous said...

The incorrect use of words pronounced the same, but spelled differently.

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Anna loomis Russell said...

The incorrect use of words pronounced the same but spelled differently

Tatum Rangel said...

Incorrect use of "to," "too," and "two" can annoy me, including those who write "alot" instead of "a lot."

Patricia said...

There are so many! Here are just a few: using your and you're incorrectly; using I when me is the proper word; misusing an ellipsis; and ignoring rules on possessives and plurals.

GrandmaD said...

Thank you for the opportunity to win this book! I don't like when people misspell words
or use the wrong word in a sentence.

bn100 said...

so many
when an author writes __ looks into __'s eye (should be eyes)

holdenj said...

Thank you!!