From all the
books you have written, do you have a favorite?
MS: Yes. It's not finished, that's why I can't
say which one it is. LOL
PJ: I love all the books I've written,
but because I am a cross-stitcher, I'd have to say the book coming
out this Fall is the one that has my heart so far...but in the
future, who knows?
At what point in time did you realize that writing was
"the thing for you"?
When I was eight years old and wrote the play my teacher used for
our summer production. (Any resemblance to the story of Daniel
Boone's daughter's kidnapping by Indians was purely intentional).
After that, I took every chance I could to write. Bad poetry, stupid
limericks, short stories, song lyrics and so on. I graduated to
newspaper articles and columns, and I even edited newsletters for
PJ: I realized I liked creating stories and characters as
soon as I read my first Nancy Drew and knew I could escape into a
whole fictional world. So probably, around the age of
advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a
MS: Write. And
when you're done, write some more. Keep writing. Don't talk about
it. Just do it.
PJ: The only advice I can give is to WRITE
because that is what really counts, adding up the word count, the
pages, and doing the writing daily.
What is the name of your favorite mystery
MS: Um...I don't
watch much TV...I'd rather read mysteries. I like being more
involved than television can usually manage. Although, I did like
AMERICAN DREAMER. It was a cute premise.
PJ: My all time favorite
mystery movie has to be MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. But lately I
also loved A MURDER OF CROWS and A PERFECT MURDER.
authors do you enjoy reading?
MS: Alistair MacLean, Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters,
Mary Stewart, Helen MacInnes, Tony Hillerman, Ted Morgan, Nora
Roberts, Isaac Asimov, Diane Carey, Lillian Schlissel, J.K. Rowling,
Madeline L'Engle, A.A. Milne, Cynthia Voight, Scott Rice, Madeleine
Brent, Janet Evanovich, Beverly Barton, Candace Irvin, Linda Howard,
Merline Lovelace, Martha Hix, Arnette Lamb, the list goes on and on
PJ: I do read a lot of other authors. Joanne Pence,
Brenda Joyce, Jonnie Jacobs, Nancy Bell and Nancy Atherton come to
mind, along with Kay Hooper.
Do you normally do a lot of research when
writing a book?
Depends on the book. Some books come easily because I'm writing what
I know, others need research to perk up certain parts.
had to do research for our book, but it all depends on the story
line. Merry is a quilter and I'm a stitcher, so some story lines are
much easier for plotting than others.
What other types of jobs have you
MS: Wormsitter, motel
maid, waitress, secretary, receptionist, visual merchandising
assistant, bookstore assistant, commissioned sales, fabric store
manager, and editor of my own magazine.
PJ: I've worked as
kitchen help, receptionist, waitress, and at the public library,
just to name a few.
Do you attend conventions and
YES! Conventions and signings are a must. For ten years, I arranged
book-signings at the Parsons Public Library. I met some great
authors, among them, Nancy Pickard, Monette Cummings, Jean Hager,
Is there anyone, in particular, who influenced
MS: My tastes evolved
as I got older but I always had my own style and really wrote for my
own amusement more than anything. Martha Hix mentored me and
encouraged me. She told me I have "the magic" to write.
late Monette Cummings influenced me. She was my mentor for ten years
and my friend for fourteen. I miss her terribly every single day.
Monette led me to write mysteries when she said write what you read
and write what you know. Or KNOW what you write.
What led you
to write mysteries?
co-author. She was my assistant editor and someone asked her to do a
book, and she asked me if I'd like to try co-authoring with her. She
thought we'd do it well together. We got the book almost finished
when the editor who asked for it quit editing altogether and
orphaned our book. We decided to finish it and shop it around. That
got very frustrating. Finally we found a publisher and the rest is
PJ: I write mysteries because I love to read them. What
led me to writing in the cozy genre was easy, they are my favorite
to read. I like to challenge myself and creating a whole series and
town of characters does that for me.
Do you read reviews of your
do read reviews of my books.
How would you like to be
MS: As someone
who always tried to do right.
PJ: I would like to be remembered
as a kind and caring author and person. One who helps others and
stands by her principles.
What do you believe is the highlight of your
writing career so far?
Hmmm....opening my box of books and seeing my name on
PJ: The hightlight for me was twofold. Seeing my name
on the cover of the book and the first sale. It really validated
that I was finally an author.
Do you write on a fixed schedule or do you
wait until thoughts come to you?
MS: I simply know I must write every day at some point.
Sometimes I can sit down and write 34 pages in 4 hours and other
times, it's a struggle to get 3 pages out in a day. But I do it
PJ: I do have a writing schedule. I write every
afternoon from after lunch until four. Iif I need to, I go back
later and write some more at night, after all else is
you get started in writing?
MS: I've been writing since I was a kid. That school play
in second grade was like opening a whole new world. I could MAKE UP
MY OWN STORIES! People would read them! People gave me praise! They
clapped at the end! I was thrilled. I wanted to do this forever. Of
course, life happened then. I never STOPPED writing, but for a long
time, I didn't make it a priority, either.
PJ: I got started by
writing poetry and joining writing groups where they made you
How do you come up with plots?
MS: Pamela and I made up a town, and the
characters we wanted in it. After that, we winged it. Seriously.
We'd each write three chapters, leave a cliff hanger, and NOT TELL
the other one where it was going. We each had to figure it out for
ourselves. We had a lot of fun doing that. In the process, we
discovered Pamela does well at plot and pacing and I do well at
PJ: Coming up with plots is easy. I play the
"what if" game and then turn it all upside down. Sort of like making
a pineapple upside-down cake. <grin>.
Did you take any classes on how
MS: Not until I
was an adult. All my teachers said I had a natural talent for
writing. When I decided to really write, I finally took a few
workshops in a writer's group and then went to a couple writing
conferences, where I took a few more.
PJ: I did take creative
writing classes in college and I have taught and taken writing
classes most of my adult life. I did summer workshops for children
at the local libraries, as well as for adults.
Do you ever get writer's
MS: No. I'm always working
on something. I keep 3-4 projects going so I can work on something
else when I get bogged down. I don't outline - I write by winging
it. Occasionally, I run into problems with that. So I just work on
something else, until it clears in my mind.
PJ: If I get blocked
it's usually because I haven't done something right with my
characters or have gotten off track plot-wise. So, I either work on
another project and think about the problem later, after giving
myself space, or I keep writing until one of the characters makes it
are your hobbies and interests?
MS: Quilting, Reading, Travel, Archeology, The Old West,
PJ: My hobbies are few. I like oil painting, baking
brownies and cross-stitching. I do love to travel when health
permits and I love going to car shows and art
you spend your free time?
MS: Any of the above. We travel a lot, and I enjoy poking
in museums, archeological digs, zoos, aquariums, tourist traps,
ghost towns, you name it, we've probably stopped to see it in our
PJ: My free time is spent with my grandchildren,
watching old black and white movies (I am a movie buff) and I like
reading more than anything
Do you have a message you would like to give
to all the readers out there?
MS: Yes. THANK YOU! THANK YOU for joining me in my little
world and reading my book!
PJ: Thank you to all the fans and
readers. We are so happy you love our series and hopefully, we can
give you many more hours of reading pleasure. If it weren't for you
we couldn't do this, so I think of you all every