Megan's 5 star rated Contemporary Romance

Friday, 30 November 2012

Mary Curtis

A Warm Welcome to Mary
Mary Raimes Curtis was an editor and freelance writer for many years before an early retirement when she had the time to indulge in writing for herself. Her first novel, Taming the Hawk, was published by MuseItUp Publishing in June 2012.
Mary, a one time Brit, now lives on the banks of a tidal river in Nova Scotia. This beautiful area is the genesis for her second novel, Luscious & Lethal—the first book in the Gilded River Chronicles.
Here's the Blurb for
Luscious and Lethal:

All is not what it seems in peaceful Jancy’s Cove. Renowned New York model and designer, Dani Renaldo, believes her new home on the shores of the Atlantic will provide a peaceful haven after an abusive marriage and the loss of her unborn child. But peace is a rare commodity.

Someone stalks the dark shadows and a boat slides into the cove after midnight. Between unknown prowlers and an arrogant but sexy neighbour who is determined to claim her, Dani wonders if the mean streets of New York would be less hazardous to her well-being.

Before treating us to an excerpt, Mary Reveals:
What inspires you to write?
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Megan. You asked what inspires me to write. Finding inspiration is the easy part, ideas seem to arrive with little prompting. The impetus for my latest ebook, Luscious & Lethal, arrived one morning as a visual. My desk sits in a window overlooking a small bay on a salt-water river. Early one evening, I watched a woman walk into the scene through the long grass as a large dog ran out from the bush. Then a small boat chugged into view. Suddenly the boat speeded up and disappeared around the headland. That was the moment Luscious & Lethal became real to me.

In a couple of sentences, describe the hero’s character.  What do you like best/least about him?   Like most of my heroes, Simon has a dark side, of course he hides his vulnerability after a troubled past. He’s tough, arrogant and determined to deny the growing attraction between him and Dani, his provocative neighbour. Dani maintains he acts like a low-land gorilla, albeit an extremely sexy one. I like that Simon can change and open up to the woman who zings all his strings.

And the heroine? How do you relate to her?   The woman seen from my window became Dani, a plus-size supermodel who must come to terms with the fact that you can run but can’t always escape the bad guys. She’s experienced a thousand knocks in her life and managed to make it in a tough profession. So there we have it: a woman running from her past, a dog who belongs to a faceless man, noises in the night and an arrogant but sexy neighbour. Dani is my hero as she overcomes the bad guys.

Who controls the story – you or your characters?   Maybe I’m a sadist, but I love turning the hero inside out as he meets a woman who gives as good as she gets. In Luscious & Lethal, Dani doesn’t yield easily. But then, it wouldn’t be a story if everything fell into place without a ripple that develops into a storm.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?   Megan asked me a tough question: What do I hope readers will come away with after reading my books? When I thought about it for a while, it wasn’t really such a tough question. I realized that all my heroines have some kind of a dark past and must fight to survive and move on. In real life, many, many women face what sometimes seem overwhelming odds. I hope readers can relate to that in my books and realize the past can be overcome.

What do you think are the main ingredients for a successful book?   I believe great characters make for a successful book. Well-developed characters, whether good or evil, can draw you into the story. Then of course you have to provide an interesting plot and setting. It’s very frustrating, my characters arrive unbidden and demand I give them space to create the story. So I have little to do with the mayhem or otherwise they create.

What do you like best and least about writing?   As I write these words, I realize that writing isn’t something I thought of doing. It’s something I just do, like breathing, and have done since I was young. As a child reading was an escape from situations I could do nothing about, writing came from wanting to tell stories to someone who wasn’t there. I know it sounds sort of enigmatic, but that’s the way it was.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What would be your tips to overcome it?    I understand many writers experience writers’ block. I had no idea what that was like. Once upon a time, my day job involved writing for corporate clients. It would have been a serious mistake to call in and tell then I didn’t feel like writing that day as my muse was missing. Besides, characters were always knocking at my brain wanting me to listen and write their story. Until one day, my long-time companion died and I absolutely couldn’t write or paint for two years. I thought my creativity had gone walk-about forever. Then a friend asked me to write an article about one of my cats for the local animal shelter newsletter. Oh, wow, that was a daunting. I am a supporter of the shelter and my four cats were abandoned in one way or another, so what could I do? I agonised for two days and nights, literally couldn’t sleep. Then one morning I got, up made my mug of kick ass coffee and sat down at the keyboard. The article about Smokey Joe, who is a demolition expert, clicked into place. That’s what broke the dam. I still haven’t produced another painting yet, but I’m not complaining. One breakthrough at a time is about all I can handle.

Do you have a writing routine?   One of my regrettable quirks is that I hate routine. I seem to live life as it comes. Writing is no different, a character pops into my head and I sit down and type. Once, at a conference, a young woman asked me what my magic formula for writing was. There is no answer to such a question. At least I don’t have one. All I could offer was an old adage: If you want to write you have to sit down and do it instead of talking about it. I did learn, over time, that as you write, write, write, it’s a good idea to read other writers. Not to copy, to learn what works and what doesn’t. I once took painting lessons where we were supposed to copy well-known paintings. I discovered I can’t copy worth a damn. That ineptitude spills over into the written word. 

Anything special you require to keep the creative juices flowing?   Except for those two years of mourning, I find a myriad of things that help to keep the creative juices flowing. At the moment I’m working out an idea for the follow-up book in the Gilded River Chronicles. A friend is active in a program she helped develop that humanely reduces the overpopulation of feral cat colonies. It’s an amazing program. I call it the nip and tuck program, meaning spay/neuter. After listening to the stories from behind the scenes, I woke up one morning and sat at my laptop. 5,000 words spilled out about an ancient barn, glittering eyes watching from high rafters, the dark of night and someone hiding a long-ago crime. Really, I don’t have much to do with the process, it just happens, although my friends should definitely get credit for sparking the idea and answering a multitude of questions about their work.
Asking questions comes with the territory. When I decided that I really should try and write stories for a larger audience than one, I took on-line workshops, soaked up advice from a number of sources, listened to all the naysayers who said you can’t do this and you can’t do that and you must do the other. (It seemed to me that there were more rules and twisted regulations in the publishing business than comes out of a totalitarian regime.) One person who read an early WIP said that editors would reject the story because a character, who was a whore who married a lord, was unbelievable. Then an author whose books I enjoy told me that I should write my story and ignore the conformists. Now I have Lea Schizaz at MuseItUp Publishers to thank for taking one of the stories that starts out with a non-hero, hero and publishing it. That book was Taming the Hawk.

What was your favourite book as a child/teen/adult? Are you currently reading anything?   Books were hard to come by when I was a child so I’m not sure I had a favourite. I loved them all, the bad the good and the ones I shouldn’t have been reading. My brother tried to hide his stash of hard-bitten detective stories. I always found them. When asked by a teacher what I read at home, my answer: Dashiel Hammett and Edgar Allan Poe, that didn’t go down too well. A note went home to my mother…which was ignored. At the moment I’m lusting after a copy of Iced by Karen Marie Moning. Love her Fever paranormal series.
There really isn’t enough time, or funds for that matter, to read all the books on my wish list. Which is just as well, I’m determined to complete the second book in the Gilded River Chronicles, finish edits to a historical and submit it to my editor then do some more research on seaglunking for the third story in the Chronicles.

In a few words, how would you describe yourself? How do you think your husband/partner would describe you?   Megan asked how I would describe myself. I’d rather answer her final question regarding how a husband/partner would describe me. Back in the day, my partner declared that I was from outer space.
Before I step into another dimension, I have to tell you that talking about myself is my least favourite topic. Thankfully, Megan made it easy.

And Now A Taste of Mary:
Next morning Dani’s time was spent catching up on a slew of emails, trying to sort out the office into some semblance of order and doing three sketches for her next Luscious Rags collection. Plus some notes on a new design for a slinky gown, size two, for Meridee Crane. Meri, an old friend and rising movie star, had sent a frantic email plea in purple typeface.
HELP! Drop everything. Movie nominated for Academy Award. Need a Dani special. Double slinky with a dash of whore. Meri.
Oh, dear, Dani felt her own panic start with a twitch in her left eye, a sure sign her blood pressure was going to crank up. She sorted through her file folders and found Meri’s and hoped she hadn’t gained or lost weight. What if the actress wanted her to travel to New York to do the fittings? She couldn’t do that. Just the thought of being in the same city as Tom was enough to bring on a case of hives. After sending an email to congratulate her on the nomination and requesting more information on what kind of outfit Meri had in mind, Dani tried to settle down and figure out what to do. Meri stood by her during the divorce and she didn’t want to let her down. But, and it was a big but, how could she design something spectacular at long distance? And what about the trip with Simon? It would have to be put on hold.
Hours later, frazzled and nursing a doozy of a headache, she closed the studio door on chaos. A flitter of an idea for a slinky beautiful gown that had a definite touch of whore, had begun to take shape on her sketchpad, and, she had scattered enough discarded sketches around her desk to obliterate the honey-coloured sheen of the plank floor.
There was a note on the fridge door from Jay when she walked into the kitchen. She smiled. He’d gone into town and would be there for the evening. She bet she knew whereabouts in town—a house beside a barn by the river. Going up to her bedroom, she took a shower and pulled on a pair of caramel-coloured slacks and a crossover sweater in soft cream wool that tied at the waist. The evening was chilly but the clouds had sailed out over the Atlantic. Gathering the few sketches she saved from the discards, she picked up a bottle of Sangria and set off through the trees to Simon’s house.
The warm sweater was a good idea as the sun had set some time ago and it was dim and cold under the heavy canopy of branches. There was a rustling somewhere on the rock-strewn hill behind her. Her head turned sharply. Nothing. Or at least, nothing she could see. Who would know if someone was hiding up there in the shadows? She should have brought a torch and a bazooka. Trying to shake off her over-active imagination, she followed the faint trail that wound its way down to the cleared space behind Simon’s house. All the while she had a horrible suspicion someone was following.
Just as she was about to step out from the trees and into the muted lilac-grey light of evening, a sound close by, like the harsh inhalation of a breath, made her skin crawl and her heart thumped as she turned to stare back. Still there was nothing but shadow and the twittering of agitated birds.
Was that the slide of footsteps through old leaves? Suddenly she began to run, pushing aside branches, jumping fallen deadwood. Simon, she had to reach Simon before…she didn’t know what or who was following, only that it wasn’t benign. Long moments later, she burst from beneath the trees and headed for the welcoming light on Simon’s veranda. Dashing up the steps she realized the sketches were gone, although the bottle of Sangria was still clutched under her arm.
“Damn!” She turned again. Nothing moved back there in the darkness, the only sound the rasp of her breath in her throat and the soughing of wind through the treetops. Nevertheless she wasn’t about to venture into the woods again to find her sketches. What a terrible coward she was.
“Something wrong, Dani?”
She whirled around to find Simon standing still as a monolith. Nerves twanging she lashed out. “Why do you do that? At least sing, or bang a pot or something, to let me know you’re there.” She bit her lip and held out the bottle as if it was a burnt offering.
Simon took it and laid an arm around her shoulders. “Did something frighten you, sweetheart? You were running like a tornado was on your tail.”
Dani shook her head but couldn’t help looking over her shoulder. The shadows were deep beneath the hemlocks and hoary old pines but no dark figure stood there watching her. Damn! She had to get a grip. For a moment she thought of resisting, going back just to show that she wasn’t afraid. Stupid, what did she have to prove? She allowed Simon to draw her into the warmth of the house.

BUY LINKS: For those readers who would like to check out Taming the Hawk and Luscious & Lethal, both are available from
MuseItUp Publishing click link here , Amazon click link here and other on-line bookstores.
Now leave a comment for the chance to win a copy of Luscious & Lethal
or Taming the Hawk. (two prizes on offer - please leave an email address)
If anyone would like to get in touch, Mary would love to hear from you, her website is:
 Pleasure to meet you, Mary, and I wish you huge success with Luscious and Lethal!


  1. Replies
    1. It was great to visit, Megan. Wish I could have been there in person. It snowed here last night and it's very cold--longjohhn weather. And I can't stop thinking about all the cats out there in the cold. No, I definitely can't take on any more cats, not a chance, can't be done...someone save me from myself.

  2. Mary, thanks for giving me credit for being some inspiration for your latest book. The ferals and I are happy to help!

    1. Thank you, Lynne, for all that you have done for our feral cat community, and as a friend. It's amazing that you and your team, have captured, spay/neutered and returned 900 cats to their habitat over the past few years. It boggles the mind to think how many hundreds, maybe thousands of kittens, would have been born into the wild and an uncertain life without your intervention.

  3. Mary and Megan - great interview. Mary, your book looks and sounds wonderful. It is definately going on my TBR list. I'm wishing you all the luck in the world.

    Penny Estelle

    1. Hi, Penny, thanks for dropping by and for your best wishes. Your ranch sounds wonderful. I too love being able to watch the stars at night. In the city that wasn't possible. Do you want a couple of cats...sorry, I truly can't help it.

  4. Hi Mary, I love how inspiration comes to you. You see scenes and presto, a story is born.

    I think I'll fire my muse. lol.

    Sounds like a delightful story. I hope your sales skyrocket.

    1. Glad you dropped by, Lorrie. Loved your Flowers and Thorns blog. Please don't fire your muse. Sometimes I think they need a vacation now and then to boost the creative juices. Why don't you take a trip north and come out with Lynne and I to the feral cat colonies. Guaranteed to jolt all your senses awake. We have had our first snowfall, so I'll buy the hot choclate...don't forget your boots and mitts.

  5. Hi Mary, I loved reading about how you found your inspiration. You certainly have a beautiful workspace! I admire you for the way you have survived your grief. I also lost someone close two years ago. I have found concentrating on writing has been a source of relief, and immersing myself in other people's writing also provides some comfort. I'm looking forward to getting to know your novels. Good luck with the writing and I hope it continues to give you strength. Best wishes!

  6. Hi, Helena: I'm glad you found some comfort in writing and reading the works of other writers after losing someone close. You never forget, but it's good to find a way through the grief at some point. Thank you for dropping by and adding your good wishes. Okay, I'm off to murder a bad guy...I wonder if I can blame it on the cats? Just a thought.

  7. Megan, thank you for inviting me to your blog. Mary, I'm pleased to meet you. So sorry for your loss, Mary. It's always difficult to lose someone, but I'm glad you made it through. Mary, my hubby and I are huge cat lovers. We have two, but we are getting old enough it's harder and harder to keep up with them. We aren't just cat lovers though, we love all animals.

    Mary, your excerpt was splendid. I felt Dani's fear as she ran through the woods.

    1. Bless all the cat lovers, Sandy. I have four, all were dumped in one way or another. That is why the background of a feral cat colony in an elderly woman's barn became a focus for my next book in the Gilded River Chronicles. We have some super volunteers in our area who developed a trap/spay/neuter/release program for feral cats. In the few years they have been active, 9oo cats have gone through the system. Can you imagine the thousands of kittens that would have been born into the wild and a hard life if the program wasn't in place? Sadly, there are many feral cat colonies that don't come to light. I'm so glad you enjoyed the exceprt, and thank you for your kind words. Take care.

  8. Love the excerpt. Thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Glad you dropped by and liked the excerpt, Laura.

  9. Great interview and lovely excerpt...thanks for sharing and for the giveaway chance! this book sounds like a wonderful read!

    1. Hi, PC, and thank you for taking the time to drop by. It's so nice to hear that you enjoyed the excerpt. And good luck to everyone in the draw--thee results will be coming up soon.

    2. Thank you everyone for leaving a comment and thank you to Megan for hosting. Here are the two winners of the draw for one of my books: Helena Fairfax and Lynne Ware. Congratulations Lynne and Helena,hope you enjoy the read. I will be in touch with them individually. And to everyone else, your kind words were appreciated. Check in to my Facebook page, if you will. I hope to have more news and maybe other giveaways in the future.