MARJA MCGRAW

First, give us the basics. Who are you, personally? Got a family? Any deep dark secrets you’d like to share? Wanna tell us where you hang your hat or pantyhose or something?

Hmm. I’m not twenty-five anymore, but I sometimes feel like I am. Never let yourself grow old mentally. After being divorced for thirty years, I finally remarried. I have two daughters, two grandsons, one great-grandson (I married young) and two yellow Labrador retrievers, if you include both my husband’s family and my own. I hang everything in Northern Arizona, where you find out what heat really is. The only deep dark secret I have will remain a secret, but that’s what keeps life interesting.

Second, what do you write? And how do you do it? Spill it all. Are you a shower poet? Pet your cat while you type one handed? Get the name of your next character by what appears in your Alphabet soup or cereal?

I write two mystery series that are lighter with a little humor. The Sandi Webster mysteries are about a young female P.I. who’s slightly naïve and sighs a lot. As I answer these questions, she’s stuck in a ghost town with her partner. I think my work in progress is going to be a lot of fun.

The other series, the Bogey Man Mysteries, is about a Humphrey Bogart look-alike who, along with his wife, young son and two dogs, becomes involved in mysteries. I see a pattern forming here. Most of my comments seem to involve two of something. Interesting.  Anyway, Chris Cross occasionally walks the walk and talks the talk, coming across like Bogey in the old P.I. movies. He’s a good character to work with, and I think he’ll be around for a while.

Third, how long have you been writing professionally? Any cool stories about how you got started? Or mistakes you’ve made. Feel free to elaborate. Just paragraph in between, but, by all means, ENTERTAIN US.

I started writing in the 1980s, and haven’t stopped yet. I’ve gone from self-publishing to epublishing to a traditional publisher. It’s been a real education.

I had a friend who’d moved to Nevada, and I wrote her letters about what was going on in my life, which at the time was anything but boring. Eventually I moved to Nevada, and of course, the letters stopped. My friend said she really missed my stories and she encouraged me to write. She said those letters made her laugh, cry, sigh, and feel everything in between. She said she actually used to watch for the mailman in hopes there’d be a letter. She had no idea what she was starting when she said, “Why don’t you write a book?”

Mistakes? I’ve made plenty, and I’ve learned from every one of them. In this business, if you’re not constantly learning something new, then you’re probably doing something wrong.

Fourth, any cool stories about meeting other writers or industry professionals that have influenced or helped you? We like to hear the silly stuff. Ever stutter at an agent? (I have.) Ever sidestep an editor? Or have a margarita downing contest with one? (Pleading the fifth on that, myself.)

I met two authors, H. Susan Shaw (aspiring) and Dorothy Bodoin, through the Internet Chapter of Sisters in Crime. We began corresponding and formed friendships, and now we critique each other’s work, along with maintaining friendships. They’ve been invaluable both as friends and critiquers. I value their friendships very much.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet several authors whom I admire. Among them are Rhys Bowen and Elizabeth Peters. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to sit down and chat with either of them, they were delightful women.

I’d love to tell you a silly story, but if I did that it would have to be about something other than writing – like what a klutz I am, or how I amuse others when I speak without thinking first.

Fifth, tell us about your first published work. What was it? When did it come out?

My first two books were self-published, so how about if I start with my third book? (Trust me on this one – you don’t want to know about the first one in particular.)  The third one was titled A Well-Kept Family Secret – A Sandi Webster Mystery, and it came out in 2008 from Wing ePress, Inc. It was about a hundred-year-old murder that Sandi’s menopausal mother wanted her to solve. Lots of humor and grinding of teeth. Next came Bubba’s Ghost, then Prudy’s Back! and The Bogey Man. Most recently Bogey Nights – A Bogey Man Mystery was released by Oak Tree Press. Lots of fun and they’ll keep the reader guessing to the very end.

Got any awards to brag about?

Not yet, but I’m working on it. Bogey Nights was a contender for the Lovey Award at the Love is Murder Conference in 2011.
 
Do you have any dreams as a writer? Go ahead, give us your best fantasy.

My best fantasy is to have readers read one of my books and say, “Oh, now that was good. I want to read more of the McGraw books.” My second fantasy is to have a big name writer read one of the books and say the same thing.
 
What are you up to now, writing wise? Got any projects in the works? Please tell us it’s amazing and give us a short excerpt or something to make us HAVE to go and buy it. What makes it so great?

Right now I’m working on another Sandi Webster mystery. It’s about Sandi and her partner being stranded in an old ghost town, complete with an old murder to solve and a mysterious cowboy roaming the streets. I think it’s a terrific book because it combines adventure, mystery and humor, all in one sitting. I’d give you an excerpt, but it is a work in progress. I’m sure I’ll make many changes before it’s ready to submit to the publisher.

In the meantime, Oak Tree Press is looking at a book titled, Bogey’s Ace in the Hole, another Bogey Man mystery. I hope it will be out within the next year. Think Snoop Sisters, then change them to The Church Ladies. They create some unique challenges for Chris Cross aka the Bogey Man.
 
Do you have any tidbits of help for other writers that you’d like to pass along? Please, by all means, inspire us. Point us in the write direction.

 

The first piece of advice I give to all aspiring writers it to grow a thick skin. No matter how good your writing is, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. Concentrate on the readers who do. Be willing to take advice while you work on your book. Keep an open mind. And prepare yourself to do a lot of marketing and promotion when the book comes out. Actually, begin before the book comes out. Market yourself.
Do you have any suggestions as to what a writer should avoid? Any mistakes you made that you could give us fair warning on?

This is just my opinion, but if a publisher wants an exclusive look at your work, think it over very carefully. I had someone tie up one of my books for a year and a half. As far as mistakes, if something doesn’t feel right, give it a slow count before moving forward.

Give us links to your websites, blogs, etc.?

Website: http://www.marjamcgraw.com/

 Blog:       http://blog.marjamcgraw.com/

Thanks for giving us your fifty cent interview. Come back and see what other authors and readers have to say. Send your friends this way, too. K?

I will, and thank you, Jennifer, for inviting me. It’s been fun!

Thanks, Marja. It’s been a delight to interview you.

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7 Responses to “MARJA MCGRAW”

  1. Vivian Zabel Says:

    Enjoyed the interview, Marja and Jennifer.

  2. jackie King Says:

    Hi Marja and Jennifer, Really enjoyed getting more information about Marja.
    Best,
    Jackie King

  3. Marja McGraw Says:

    Vivian and Jackie, Thank you so much for stopping in. Jennifer does a fun interview.

    Marja

  4. marilynm Says:

    Great interview. Learning more and more about you, Marja.

  5. Anne K. Albert Says:

    Great interview and sage advice. Especially about the thick skin. It’s bad enough when a reader isn’t thrilled with your book, but when it’s a close friend who can’t hide their emotions…ach!

  6. Marja Says:

    Oh, Anne, that would hurt. I have two very close friends who won’t read my books at all because if they don’t like them, they don’t want to have to deal with that. Oh well…

  7. Sue Shoemaker Says:

    I have read four of Marja’s mysteries & thoroughly enjoyed them. You can’t put the books down once you get into them. I hope Marja keeps writing. The mysteries are light & easy reading but good thrillers with interesting twists to keep you wanting more. Keep you the great work.
    Sue

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