Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to my fellow Rose City Romance Writer, Mary Oldham. I always knew Mary was special, but after reading her bio, now I know why. She’s a Beaver!!!
(Ahem…for those of you who didn’t go to school in Oregon…Oregon State University = the Beavers. I’ll shut up now and let Mary have the floor…)
A fourth generation Oregonian, Mary grew up in Eugene, but has made her home in Portland for the last nineteen years. In 1991, she earned a Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University, majoring in Business with a Marketing Concentration and has a minor in Fashion, Apparel and Merchandising.
From the early age of five, she remembers making up very elaborate stories in her head. It wasn’t until she was a bit older that she realized they might actually have validity! She likes to write stories about women she can relate to, smart, business savvy heroines who find themselves torn between traditional roles and their own wishes and desires.
Since she began writing again in January 2008, she’s finaled in eight contests and won two of them. She’s completed five manuscripts, four of which are a series about a hotel baron and his family. Currently, she’s reworking a suspense romance entitled The Voice of Reason.
Mary’s recent contest wins & finals include:
1st Place, 2010 Utah RWA Great Beginnings Contest, Mystery Suspense Category – The Voice of Reason
1st Place, 2009 San Diego RWA, Spring Into Romance Contest, Contemporary Series – The Hotel Baron’s Mistress
To learn more about Mary, visit her website.
Mary’s 2010 Golden Heart manuscript is Laura Takes a Lover, which finaled in Contemporary Series Romance
After failed fertility treatments lead to a bitter divorce, high school math teacher Laura Daniels escapes to her best friend’s beachside estate, Tranquility, to heal her wounds. To her surprise she finds a kindred spirit in the other summer guest, gorgeous widower Adam Black.
Their shared loss quickly leads to undeniable passion. But after three months of stolen moments and awakening sensuality, Adam leaves, abruptly ending the affair. Heartbroken, Laura returns to teaching and discovers she is pregnant. Desperately in love with Adam, Laura vows to find him and tell him about his child. Only one little problem stands in her way; she doesn’t know where to look. In her quest to find Adam, she discovers he is an international hotelier who travels the world. Meanwhile, Laura’s ex-husband will stop at nothing to win her heart and claim the child as his own.
And now, a little bit about Mary…
1. How long have you been writing?
I started writing in the winter of 2000, but after some initial agent rejection, I put the manuscript on the shelf and abandoned the idea that I could write. Then in January of 2008, I was a year away from my fortieth birthday and thought, “Are you just going to sit there or are you going to get back to it?” I wrote nine short stories over the next two months and have been converting them into manuscripts. I now have five of the nine completed.
2. Did you always want to be a writer or is this something you fell into later in life?
It started when a friend suggested I “journal” my feelings about my very short, very bad marriage. A funny thing happened, I ended up writing a manuscript about a woman who kills her abusive ex-husband, gets away with it, and goes on to find true love. Little did I know that I’d written the first draft of my manuscript, The Voice of Reason or that I’d uncovered a passion I didn’t know I had!
3. What do you do in your “other life”?
My career has always been in marketing and media. For the last ten years, I’ve been a major accounts media consultant for The Oregonian newspaper, which means I sell advertising for print, online and niche. I think the sales persona I’ve honed over the years has thickened my skin for the ups and downs of writing!
When my clients find out what I do in my “writing life”, you can watch their expressions change. Sometimes they avoid eye contact or they ask to read something! It’s a lot of fun!
I’m very close to my family, who live in Eugene. I spend a lot of time with them at the Oregon Coast where we have a place in Yachats. The beach is very inspirational for me.
I love to travel and have been fortunate to see a lot of beautiful places. When I started thinking about how I wanted my website to look, I kept thinking about this Villa located on Lake Como in Italy that was one of the most romantic places I’d ever been. Little did I know that the afternoon I spent at Villa Balbianello would one day be the inspiration for my website. Come for a visit!
4. Who are your favorite authors?
I have to say Linda Howard inspired me more than any other author. She taught me that authors could be naughty and nice! When I met her last year in Washington DC, I was totally starstruck and could barely speak. When I found out my manuscript, The Hotel Baron’s Mistress, finaled in the 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence, I cried.
5. Do you have an agent?
Not yet, but I’m seeking representation.
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully published and happy with the work I’m producing. I wouldn’t mind having my own happy ending with a real hero!
And now, in Mary’s words…
The Sweet Seduction of Writing
People ask, “Where do you get the ideas?”
“My characters speak to me,” I say with a straight face. “It’s magic.”
But finding the magic is an altogether different thing…
I start with a single idea and a blank page. I turn on Diana Krall or a little Chris Botti. The idea becomes a scene in my mind. I dress my hero and heroine, these unknown mannequins and wait for more to come. They take on personalities, likes and dislikes. They tell me their motives and hide a few plot bending whoppers for later discovery. Soon, they confide their fears, desires and the past traumas they’ve survived. The more arrogant of heroes might even criticize the name I’ve given him!
I write a chunk of their story, wondering how it will end. I write a few sweet scenes that fill my precious weekend, only to highlight and delete the hours upon hours of work late on Sunday night. I pump up the music, a little U2 or Lady Gaga perhaps to cleanse my cerebral palette. This continues for weeks, until I fantasize about burning the story in my fireplace.
I love the story.
I hate the story.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever written.
My own mother wouldn’t like it.
It embarrasses even me.
I take a break for a few days. I see my friends and go out to dinner. We go to a movie and I criticize the weak, insipid plot on the drive home, jealous that some author sold their manuscript and they made a movie out of it.
I visit my family at the beach, but the laptop is in the trunk of my car and something about the ocean waves crashing on the rocks fuels my desire to write again.
Back at my day job, one of my coworkers says something that I could use in a future novel…so I write it in the little black book I always carry in my purse. “Did you hear about my new client, his name is Richard Schnipper…goes by Dick…”
I drive to a sales call and my characters start speaking to me again. I tell them to be quiet because I must work the day job for another few hours. I focus on readership, modular ad sizes and deadlines. That night, when I get home, my hero and heroine give me the silent treatment. I retaliate by watching The Bachelorette on television.
Later, dejected, I go to bed with a new Architectural Digest and I see my hero’s bachelor pad on page seventeen. Over the next few hours, the hero and heroine keep waking me with ideas as to the scenes that could unfold in his chic little den of seduction.
I get in the shower the next morning, a scene writing in my pounding head and my smug, silver tongued hero whispers in my ear, “I wouldn’t have seduced the heroine after I’d taken a jog, I’d have showered first…”
How do you fondle your muse?