QUESTIONS, PLEASE?

My weekly blog has been silent for a while, as you may have noticed. I do apologize, but here is the problem. I love having written it and I love reading all your responses. I love giving away copies of my books to a weekly winner. What I don’t enjoy so much is the time involved in thinking up a new topic each week. I find it time-consuming and stressful and exhausting. I took time off a month or so ago and now can’t persuade myself to get started again. But I do want to! And I want to hear from you again!

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This is what I have decided to try. Why don’t you use the comment boxes below to ask me any questions you would like answered even if they are just my opinion upon some topic of general interest? I think I would find answering questions easy enough, and I am always ready to share my thoughts. And then you would have the opportunity to comment on what I say. It sounds like a win/win situation to me. At least, I hope it will be. I suppose I am a bit of a throw-back to an age when the only real contact between writers and readers was at conventions or via snail mail. Through most of my career all that has been required of me is that I write more books. I look in awe at all the social media thingies younger writers involve themselves in with great energy and enthusiasm.

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So–over to you. Ask your questions. And to the first person whose question I use, I will send a signed copy of THE SECRET MISTRESS.

106 thoughts on “QUESTIONS, PLEASE?

  1. Have you traveled to England and other places to research settings for your books? What is your favorite place to visit?

  2. What has been the biggest surprise in your writing career? Mostly because I can’t imagine soeone NOT wanting publish you,

  3. Mary, I would love for you to discuss something about book reviews. Such as what you as an author look for and I don’t mean just your books. How to match the ratings with the written review or even the best outlets to post a review. How reviews boost sales, etc.

  4. Over your wonderfully illustrious career, what would you say the most rewarding part has been?
    What is your favorite part about writing historicals? 🙂

  5. Hi Mary,

    I’ve always been curious about the inspiration behind your leading male characters and if you have modern day men that have inspired them?

    Always enjoy your books, so thank you for writing them – Trish

  6. Have you ever written a character that you disliked intensely? Or must you feel some affinity with any character you write?

  7. I love Jocelyn/Jane and Wulfric/Christine and have always wanted a series of vignettes of their day to day lives in domesticity. Have you ever thought about writing a contemporary novel where your characters from your other books, were reborn today? Like how Jocelyn and Jane would meet and how they’d fall in love or how modernity would affect them.

  8. I love your books. Do you ever have the female be investagate some crime and meets the handsome hero? It could be murder, missing person or robbery that she is trying to solve.

  9. I teach 6th grade reading….and my goal, my “passion” is NOT to have my students pass the state standarized test….my passion is to create LIFE LONG LOVERS OF Books…and of reading in my students…. I want them to LOVE reading as passionately as I do, as YOU do….how did YOU do it?
    This subject may be limited because not all of your readers are teaches….BUT certainly many of your readers…..LOVE to read…..what “is it” that HOOKED them to LOVE reading…what lead them to their PASSION of loving a good book? I want my kiddos to catch the reading ‘bug’…..any suggestions????

    • Amen! State tests are the bane of my existence. We need to raise the next generations to be readers and to enjoy writing, which I want to be my goals as a teacher–NOT teach to a state test and all that core curriculum craziness.

      • Ditto from me as a 5th grade reading and writing teacher, and this is the grade our students take their first state writing test (it’s coming in March – yikes!) as well as all of the other subjects in May. As we were back to school on the 2nd, I began a new read aloud novel. After the first chapter, one of my students raised her hand and asked, “How come when I pick out a book it’s boring, but the books you read to us are so exciting?” This is what we need time to do – teach children how to select and love books, not constantly prepare for the state tests. It’s out of control.

        • M. Kelly,
          Teachers are not the only ones who can inspire children to love to read. I can’t wait till Mary picks your question! I promise to share all my stories about how I and others in my life became lovers of books. Great question! It’s wonderful to know that your children are being taught by teachers like you.

  10. Where do you get your inspiration for your stories and the different characters and twists and turns for the books.. Sorry its like 4 questions in one. 😀

  11. I just asked this on your Facebook page but I’ll ask it again: any chance you will ever republish The Wassail Bowl? It’s my favorite of your Christmas novellas. I re-read it at least once a year!

  12. I had a high school English instructor who was insistent on reading for content rather than enjoyment. I have never presumed to insinuate myself into the head of an author to interpret what I think they meant by what they said. She was trying to teach and I was trying to broaden my reading horizons – I get that much. But I still read to enjoy and not to dissect. What would you say to someone concerning book club participation? I don’t really think I would enjoy it because everyone would be reading for the purpose of discussion and not for the joy of reading as the means to an end. Some book club choices are dreadful reading! Also, please don’t stop posting on Facebook. I have enjoyed your pictures of libraries and wonderful reading spots tremendously.

  13. When I read a book that really pulls me in, I sometimes find it hard to “let go” of the characters and move on to the characters in the next book I read. I can only imagine how hard it must be for the writer who “gave birth” to those characters to let go. Or is it? Do you need time in between writing your books to “let go” of your characters? How could you ever let Wulfric go? 😉 Hope to see you in Dallas!

  14. Finding topics is hard. I am presently upset with historical romance writers who chose to have the hero “teach” the heroine about seduction or to “ruin” them. I like your books because the characters seem to actually live in the milieu you are creating. Are you being pushed to add more sex? Is that why authors are breaking out of the bounds of the times as a way to get more sex in? I skip that part and I am skipping more each time I read.
    Have you ever considered a contemporary? It is harder to keeps ones lovers apart given the culture of today.
    I know you like to see your back list published and new readers of course like to find the books. I get frustrated by a book by a favorite author, new cover, labeled new on Amazon and then one searches thru for the publication date and low it is from 10 years ago.I would be happier if the copyright came up on the first screen. I recognize all your books because I reread and own all.
    I appreciate Nora Roberts and her trademark on new books
    I am rambling because we are snowed up and I am tired of my books just now .
    Do you think you can know something about a person by knowing what they read and like? Could one define a character in a book that way ? The Gothic novels of the era seem to be used that way.
    Are men these days like the heroes in your books? Is there a line between really writing a women of 200 years ago with all the cultural and legal constraints and one a modern woman will not find too passive or too something?
    I like older heroines these days. I am too old to like 18 as the lead story. I have little patience with that young, too much like my high school students. How do you choose the age of your people? I am looking forward to the Duke in the survivors series.
    Does the woman need to be of childbearing years to be a good heroine?
    Do we all like the regency period because we like the clothes? because we read Pride and Prejudice and want to spend time there again? Victorian appeals much less to me, why do you think? I enjoy Heyer’s Georgian stuff as well as Regency. Are you ever drawn to another era? Enough blap. Hope you get some good ideas. I enjoy your blog. mary

  15. With the huge trend towards e-books, why do romance books have to be limited to about 350 pages? I’ve read several books lately which suffered from rushed or incomplete endings. Do publishers require this? How does this impact your writing?

  16. I’m a school librarian, so of course I teach research. How do YOU do research for your various historicals? Do you read travel books, history books, use the encyclopedia, use an atlas, visit the location, use the Internet? I found that when I was teaching about all of the places to find information to my kids last year, talking to an author actually shed a lot of light on the subject. So…share!!

  17. I am curious about the time lapse between when you comlete writing a book and when it is published. Is it a decision that is made between you and the publisher, or is it out of your hands entirely? For instance, I was surprised that you did not decide on what cover would be used for your books.

    Can you tell that I’m anxious for the release of THE ESCAPE? (smile)

  18. How do you set up your day for writing? Do you have a writing space that inspires you? Do you hold a story in until it is complete or discuss characters and plot with a friend or companion until it jumps on a page?

  19. First of all, I love your books.
    My question is: How do you and your publisher determine how long it will take to write a book? Also, what do you do when a book just won’t let you finish it?

    Thank you for your talent.

  20. Mary
    Do you and your husband ever think of going south in the winter? I think the winter weather where you live would be very difficult to put up with for a long period of time.
    Do you ever think of retiring….hope not!!

  21. What book or series or author’s work do you reread when you have nothing else to read? I am partial to C.S. Lewis, Catherine Coulter and you.

  22. Do your characters ever surprise you? In other words, do you find some of your writing to be spontaneous—as if the characters have come fully to life in your mind and then make their own way onto paper?

  23. How do you determine the basic plot/conflict of the book? At its core it’s a love story, relationship based, but what about the plot? Do you outline it ahead of time, or does it just sort of come based on the characters and what they tell you as you write?

  24. My question was on your site already. It is the current theme of just graphic sex in the new novels. I’ve pointed out that I enjoy a Story and I’ve begun to think I’m over the hill. If I can’t have a scene in my head about a novel other than thrust and shout, am I going to have to find another genre to enjoy. So many years historical romance has been my mainstay, I could count on it. Can’t exactly feel that way any more and I’ve been disappointed in a few of my normally favorite book series. I thought it was the distance between books that was the problem and maybe I needed to reread them before the current one. But I have 2 on the backburner that I just couldn’t get back too and these are books I would normally like. I’m skimming over quite a bit too. Do you think this is publisher directed, editor directed, author led by conference meeting and other authors thoughts. Sometimes I think my best author was when they were doing their writing on their own with little imput from other sources. But I don’t really know. I’m just disappointed. I’m a reader and I don’t understand it. Is it the acceptance of current modern sexuality? I like books to be sensual, texture is very important to me but is it wrong to want a story to dream along with. It’s like Lady Muir, I was watching her life thru many books you wrote, picking up pieces and I didn’t have the same vision as you sometimes, but I loved your finish product of her. You give me a Story. Drat here I go again, but you did ask? LOL

  25. Do you model the looks and characters of your heroes and heroines, or even the villains, in your books on real life people you meet or see around you?
    By the way Mrs. Balogh, I see that the cover picture for your upcoming new book The Esacpe is shown here on your blog. I’m sorry to say that I cannot like it. But of course I’ll still buy the book, anyway, because I know, as always, I’ll love the story.

  26. Do you have an office or desk where you do your writing on a schedule, or sit where ever inspiration strikes? What is the view out your window? Do you ever have your family or friends help you out with minor points like a character’s appearance or a name?

    Reading one of your books is to me a little like unwrapping a beautiful homemade present to find a special well-thought out gift inside. Reading one of your series is like opening a box to find another wrapped box inside, and another inside that one as well! Thank you for all the gifts you’ve given to us readers!

  27. As an aspiring writer, this is my question:

    What is your process for developing your stories (i.e. do you think of scenes and conflicts prior to beginning, or do you let it come to you later?)

    You are an awesome storyteller. Thank you for providing hours of entertainment.

  28. I love your books and have read most of them. Actually, one of your books, borrowed from my sister that she picked up at a garage sale, was my first Historical Romance and I was hooked. I would like to know if when you start a new book do you think about what the book will be about or if the idea comes to you and you build on it from there.

  29. I am a writer myself, though not published yet. There are many times I find my characters will take off in a direction that I did not intend for them to take, as if they are really alive. I find what Jo March said: “Late at night my mind would come alive with voices and stories and friends as dear to me as any in the real world. I gave myself up to it, longing for transformation.”, to be very true. What about yourself? Do find your characters taking you in another direction or can you keep them reigned in?

  30. Hi Mary, I’m an artist living in tropical Cairns, Queensland, Australia. I love to read but found that my artistic pursuits got in my way. I resolved this by becoming addicted to audiobooks and now devour about 5 books a week. This brings me to the point; I need some more of your books to listen to, please. They’re a great read and your narrators, Rosalyn Landor and Anne Flosnik do an incredibly good job of performing them. as opposed to just reading them. Do you write your books with a voice in mind and when can I expect another beauty to listen to?

  31. How do you balance writing and family life? I’ve gleaned from many authors’ blogs that writing is a long, solitary experience and yet they have families with sometimes, young children. I don’t know how you can balance your writing with your writing with the demands of a family.

  32. My favourite novel of yours is A Matter of Trust. The tone of it is playful and the pacing of the story is brilliant. I would love to know how this tale came to you in all its perfection.

  33. I notice one main difference between modern Regency period books and actual Regency period books… that is the verbosness of the writer of the 1800’s verses the more streamlined style of those in the late 1900’s to early 2000’s. Many of the books I have enjoyed over the years when stripped down loose more than half of the words, yet none of the story line. In your opinion is it because we are so much more time conscious? Because we have greater reading skills or that we have learned that the philosphy and extended adjectives and adverbs do not a better story make?

  34. If you had to chose one book that you have read as your favorite what would it be? I know you say you are a voracious reader as am I and I know it would be very difficult for me to chose just one. Do you read your favorite books more than once?

  35. Hi Mary,

    One of the books of another of my favorite authors is being made into a TV series and there has been very heated debate amongst readers on the choice of the actor who will play the hero. Many readers are very disappointed that the actor is not their physical vision of the hero. There has been actual debate on the shade of the actor’s hair color! I, for one, don’t form a clear picture of a character’s physical appearance when I read a novel. I usually have a very generic picture in my head with the correct hair color and general physique but the face remains a blur.
    When you write your stories, do you have a very clear and exact picture of a character’s physical looks or is your vision more about true character and personality?

  36. I was just wondering if when you start writing if you already have it in mind to do a series or if the characters created in the original book just grow beyond the pages, begging you to tell their stories too. I love to read the following books to “catch up” with the characters from a previous book. It’s like meeting an old friend and learning what they have been up to. Also was it hard to learn about the British aristocracy and its various titles and their ranking in society?

  37. Have you ever had a character who took on a life of his or her own so to speak? In other words, did a character surprise you? (PS welcome back!)

  38. Here’s a topic: how can you define items that a reader might not be familiar with? For example, in your Georgian romances, like Thief of Hearts, Heartless and Silent Melody, there are items of clothing that may be unknown to readers of Regency romances. Also, the various types of conveyances and for whom they are suitable (barouche, curricle), which helps the reader know whether someone is out of fashion, a bit risqué, or whatever. Without inserting a formal definition for the reader, nor adding it to dialogue, since the character would know exactly what things are and for whom, how do you incorporate this in your books?

  39. Hi Mary!
    If you could travel back in time to any country and era, and could take one item from this time period, where would you go, what era would you choose and what one item would you take?

  40. Hi Mary,

    I love your Regency romances.

    I have thought about trying to write a Regency but immediately run up against the need to research. A lot I know from reading Jane Austen, etc, but there are many little everyday details which could be harder to find out.

    For example, in a nursery setting what books and toys would children commonly have around that time? Did people read (published) bedtime stories to children then? Or did they make them up on the fly? How do you find out this kind of detail?

    Happy New Year from yet another Mary…

  41. What draws you to the Regency above other periods?
    “What is it that attaches
    Your fancy so to fans and masks, —
    To periwigs and patches…” (Austin Dobson, Epilogue to a Series of 18th Century Vignettes (a few decades too early, but it says it so well)

  42. Which of your heroines do you feel is most like you? Do you give your protagonists the qualities you yourself have, or wish you had?

    I’d like to say, one of the things I love about your stories is that your characters are so different, but in the end you show us that they are all lovable in their own ways.

    Thank you for sharing your stories with us, and also for sharing a bit of yourself via this blog and also on Facebook!

  43. How long was it and how many rejections (if any!) were there from publishers before you got your first book accepted?

  44. Have you ever thought of writing of the same time period but in a setting other than England?

    I must admit, I’m ever curious about new places in different eras, since I’ve learned most of my world history through fiction (first I read it, then I research the dates and names in it. My History teacher – yes, I’ve kept in touch with him – laughed when I told him. Didn’t seem to want to try it in the classroom, though. lol)

    Happy New Year, btw!

  45. I’m a little obsessed with the Bedwyns, in particular Wulfric and Christine. I’ve appreciated the glimpses we’ve had of them in your later books, and by my count they’ve started on their second child and appear happy. However, given that Christine is a free spirit and he isn’t, I wonder how they manage to get along on a daily basis. Would you ever think about tackling that bump in a later book?

  46. First, let me say how much I enjoy your books and look forward to new ones! I am a serious paper crafter and love to use challenges to get past a creative block or to accomplish a crafting goal. I find challenges on line at craft blogs. Are there similar challenges for writers? Have you ever participated and if so, which book(s) are a result of said challenge(s)? How did you find the process worked for your creative writing? Thanks so much! Wishing you a Happy New Year!

  47. Hi Mary,

    I’ve been reading your books for awhile now and have devoured them all! If I had to name a favorite, and only if I had to, it would be Slightly Dangerous because I adore Wulfric and Christine. My question is this, how do you let go of your characters once you are finished with a book? How do you let new characters in to write another book? Would you define writing as more creative and intuitive, or is it a craft that you have to learn step by step?

  48. Hello Mary
    There is a lot of talk about “Book Boyfriends” now on a few sites. I must admit that mine is the male model David Gandy.
    When you write your heros do you have a Book Boyfriend in mind that you drawl from.
    Thanks
    Diane

  49. I have enjoyed reading your books and love how the writing always flows so smoothly and keeps my interest all the way through. For your writing to have that effect on me, I have to ask if you’ve ever had writer’s block? If so, it certainly doesn’t show in your writing!

  50. still all snowy which is why I am back with another question or idea. previous marriages are accepted for both hero and heroine but women are allowed a happy first marriage but men seem to have always had ill advised first marriages.Is this part of the one true love thing? I would like to see a book about the marriage that comes after the great passion. What if 10 years into that marriage the true love dies in childbirth or with ovarian cancer.?Does the hero remarry because he liked being married or because his children would be better with a mother or because his dying wife urges him to remarry lest he slide back into his reclusive, autocratic, hedonistic, pick one,ways?
    I have thought about this because I was never happy with Jo Beverly and her resolution for Rothgar so in my mind I killed Diana off.
    What do you think about the whole second marriage theme. It surely was common in the time period.

  51. I don’t really have a question, I just wanted to say, it must be a HUGE BURDEN to know you write in such a superior manner!

    I think the questions you get from your readers will be well thought out and the answers will be ones which will be of interest to all of us.

    Thanks for what you do.

  52. Oh my goodness, Mary, already so many questions here! I think I’m late to the party. I believe you will find plenty of fodder for future blog posts. I don’t always comment but I always read them–and I am so looking forward to them.

    You commented on Facebook today that you started writing because “It was my dissatisfaction with book endings . . . It wasn’t always the terrible endings, though. More often it was the endings that just fizzled.” I’ll transfer my questions from there to here.

    What kind of terrible endings goaded you? What makes an ending fizzle to you?

    I will confess one of the things I love most about your writing is a character doesn’t always go away but frequently returns with a love story of their own. I believe I positively squealed “Francis!” when I started to read The Famous Heroine. As I’ve said before, while I look forward to each coming installment of the Survivors Series, the story I look forward to most is the Duke of Stanbrook’s.

    Just how often does a secondary character morph into a primary character for you? How often are you surprised when that happens? Or does it not surprise you at all?

  53. more great questions But as I post on facebook about endings I wondered do you get to know some of your fans from this stuff, facebook and blog comments? In an on line class some post so often and in such a clear voice you know right away who will post and you come to feel you know them. Does it work like that for you? are there too many?

  54. How did you research the specific ailments of the Survivors’ Club heroes to get their realistic POVs? How much of it was just straight research, and how much of it was talking to people with similar experiences? If you did a lot of talking to real live people, how did you find them?

  55. These are all such great questions. I asked once when you knew that you were going to write Constantine’s story from the Huxtable series and you said from the beginning of First Comes Marriage – that really amazed me, as it seems you must have a lot of material in your mind all the time (for which I am so glad). I guess a question I am wondering about is similar to some others – are you ever going to write any more about the Bedwyns? I would love to hear more about Aidan and Eve as well as Rannulf and Judith. Of course it would be great to catch up with all of the Bedwyns as they maybe face a family crisis. It is so hard to let go of some characters as a reader, too, since you make them so real. Also, I just finished Under the Mistletoe yesterday, and thought several of those stories would make excellent full length books. Is there any possibility of that or have the stories been told to completion? Thank you so much for your wonderful books and for this forum! Happy New Year, Mary!

  56. My husband and I just came from a special movie showing of Captain Phillips. There was a question and answer time after the movie with the screen writer, Billy Ray. He mentioned having written two novels that haven’t sold as well as the sucessful screenwriting he has done. My question is, did you ever do any other professional writing besides your terrific romances and have you ever wanted to do other types of writing?

  57. When you first decided to write stories set in the Regency period, what research did you do about social mores/life, dress, customs, etc of this time and did you use any primary sources from the period? Are there any particular sources or authors you would recommend for someone interested in this era?

  58. I have noticed that some of your earlier works are not available on Kindle. Will they ever be republished and available for e-readers? Books like; A Gift of Daisies, The Obedient Wife, A Daring Masquerade etc. etc.

  59. Yes, I’ll answer this one right away. I am expecting some of my older books to be available as ebooks in North America in the near future. I’ll share details here on my web site as soon as I have titles and dates. And there should be a few more next year when NAL publishes some of my backlist titles in both print and ebook form.

  60. I’d love to read about “romance before romance” in your life 🙂 Before you discovered the genre and started writing in it yourself, were romantic elements important for you in the books you read, did you search for books that featured romantic plots with HEA? Were “girly classics” like L.M. Montgomery or Jean Webster among your favorites?

    Another topic I’d like to see discussed is your take on international readership. Do you know in which countries you’re particularly popular? Do you pay attention to your foreign covers? And so on 😉

  61. So glad you’re back Mary. As you can see by the numerous replies already we’ve missed you. I hope this new format works and helps take some of the pressure off. I like many readers wonder about your favorite characters or books but I know that it’s so hard to choose one because there are so many to choose from that are worthy. So my question is what writing accomplishment has made you feel the most successful.

  62. Hello Mary,
    Thank you for the hours of entertainment your stories provide me as a reader. My question is on one of your older, reprinted stories, “The Notorious Rake”. As a fellow author who absolutely hates, but has learned to “kill her darlings”, I wonder how you were able to conceive of Lord Edmond Waite, a character who seems to be without redeeming characteristics. How did you justify ( or even come up with) the idea of him taking advantage of Mary’s terror during the thunderstorm?
    Thanks for reading my question. I look forward to reading your new books. All the best for a happy and healthy New Year.
    Monica

    • I’ll answer this one immediately, Monica. I didn’t see Edmond as taking advantage of Mary at Vauxhall. She was hysterical and he was desperate to comfort her. He did it in the only way circumstances seemed to offer. It was something of a time-out-of-time for both of them.

  63. Hi Mary,

    I would like to ask of how is it being an older writer in the midst of the new writers? I mean I know you are in an advance age in your writing career and as time goes by a lot of writers emerge so how do you cope with it? Is it more challenging or advantageous on your part? Also another question is that, in your interview you said that your goal is to become number 1 in new york bestseller list because you were always 2nd. What do you think is the reason behind that?

    You are a very great writer and thank you for your awesome books!! :))

  64. Thanks for letting us ask questions! I’ve always wondered how one decides what age characters are. Or if it is even relevant? I often feel that I sympathize with older characters (late 20’s or 30’s) – maybe now that I’m getting older myself I don’t feel as drawn to young things. Also, perhaps people matured emotionally faster 200 years ago? I remember re-reading More Than A Mistress last year and being surprised that Jocelyn was only 26. I suppose that detail didn’t register with me the first time I read it, but this second time, I thought of all the 26 year old men I knew and couldn’t picture any of them as a Duke.

  65. When inspiration or an idea hits, do you stop what you are doing and jot it down. For example, If you are lying in bed and an idea comes to you about the book you are writing, do you get up and start working?

  66. I am pharmaceutic training, but the passion of my life is books.
    Your books never stop to make me dream. I have read them all several times and whenever I start one, I just can´t stop untill I finish. And when I reach the end, the protagonists stay in my mind for days to end. I love the way I create almost immediate empathy with your heros, the fact that all the stories are unique, and they fall in love along the narrative and not instantly, I can keep the interest in the book around all the pages, the description of the clothes , locations and appearances and never be repeated!
    My question is, how does it feel to know that you make your readers dream and to what extent the weight of that responsibility (of maintaining the same level) affects your creativity.
    Can I please, ask one more? I wonder what was the point in your life you realized you would be a writer?

  67. Hi Mary,

    Do you ever get surprised by any of your characters: like, what they say or do or think or the way their stories develope and are you ever surprised as to how some of your characters are perceived by some of your readers?

  68. Mary, your characters are the shining jewels of your books and are what set your writing apart from other authors. I generally re-read all of your books every year and a half to two years, and with each re-reading, I discover new and deeper aspects of your characters.

    Many people have already asked questions about the creation of your characters and I would like to expand on that by saying perhaps you could do a series of blogs on characters – taking your characters by book series (in as many blog posts as needed to cover a particular series), and addressing the questions asked here. You might cover where your inspiration for characters comes from, what role you need certain characters to fulfill, what motivates them to do or say the things they do, their interactions with other characters in the series, surprises they gave you, etc.

  69. I LOVE all of you books. My favorite is the Bedwyns. I really don’t have a question but I really enjoyed reading all of the comments. Keep up the GREAT work and thank you.

  70. I am wondering about your process of writing. Do you start with a few ideas about interesting characters that start to weave together? Do you have a pen (or keyboard) to hand and jot things down, or just think about things a bit until they start to gel? I remember teachers trying to get us to lay out a structure before we attempted a short story – is that really how writers write or does a story take on a life of its own? I notice that you deal with disabilities fairly often, like blindness – so does an idea come as you think about how a person would cope 200 years ago, given the level of technology, the social environment, the economic environment? Do you hear your characters’ voices in your head as you write the dialogue? I seem to remember you saying that sometimes they said things you weren’t expecting…
    Thanks for all the lovely stories –

  71. Thank you for this opportunity, Mary! My question is: who were your favorite children’s authors and books when you were growing up, and did they have any influence on you as a writer? If so, how?

  72. Hi Mary,
    I would like to know if your book, The Trysting Place is available as an ebook? Oh, by the way, I am a fan for life 🙂

    • It is not, Gwen. Very few of my oldest books are. But I believe that is about to change soon. I hope to be able to make an announcement on my web site within the next few months.

  73. I love Christmas stories–all of them, really, but yours are my favorites. Have you ever considered making some of the children heroes and heroines in books a generation further along in the aristocracy? Wouldn’t THAT take some research!

    Thank you.

  74. I have read almost all of your books-love them. I have a question. In what book was Lady Muir a secondary character where her friend/companion was the hero and everyone assumed they had a romantic connection. I can’t seem to figure it out. Thanks!

    • There is no such book, Karen. Lady Muir is a minor character in ONE NIGHT FOR LOVE, A SUMMER TO REMEMBER. and a few of the SLIGHTLY and related books. But the situation you describe is not part of any of them–and I can’t think of any other female character of mine you may be thinking of either.

        • Believe it or not I figured out who I was thinking of by reading one of the comments here. Something rang a bell and I looked back at the book Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake. I was thinking of Mary and Marcus and their relationship.

          • Oh, right, right! Clever you. I thought and thought but could not come up with any of my heroines who fit the description.

  75. I’m reading “The Arrangement” and LOVE it! I love all the books of yours I’ve read so far. It may be interesting for you to note that I’m reading the book as a totally blind person. When I first started the book, I was prepared to be annoyed. No, I’m not going to lie here, I was prepared to never want to read another book of yours again because most books about blind people make me so raging angry! They make me angry because they portray the blind person as helpless. How pleasantly surprised I was to find that this blind character is totally independent, uses a cane, recognizes the places in his life where he is allowing other people to control his life and wow, the list goes on. You never make generalizations like oh, blind people don’t do this or that. This character may choose not to dance or choose not to eat in public but that’s because he’s newly blind and doesn’t know how or feels awkward. My question to you is how did you get it so right? Blind people who lived in that particular time and place would have been oppressed and kept indoors. They wouldn’t be walking to the Vicker’s house on their own! Are you kidding? That’s awesome!!!! When you wrote about Vincent admitting to himself that he’d allowed others to rule his life and that now, those people didn’t have high expectations of him, you had me in tears because I suddenly saw some aspects of my own life that need to change. Maybe this is none of my business but I’d love to know how on earth you got it so right. I haven’t finished the book yet so I guess there’s still time for the reaction I expected but wow, well done! The thing I’m enjoying right now is that he’s making choices about marrying his bride despite the sighted people who are all keeping their voices steady but looking shaken. He knows they don’t agree. I love the way you have him using his hearing. It’s almost like you did some research on echolocation before writing this. Gosh, you even describe some cane technique! I’d love to someday read a book about an empowered blind “lady”! That would be so cool! A blind couple, even better!!! A blind woman who wants to adopt a child! 🙂 I just wrote a very short story on that last week although it was more of a musing than anything else. They have to be empowered though. Well done!

    Sorry that was all in one paragraph. I wanted to make sure I’d written what was on my heart first before pressing enter. Sometimes the screen reader thinks I’m hitting the send button instead. Silly thing, it has a mind of it’s own.

    Anyway, books like yours can start conversations about what it means to be blind. The fact that you have made your blind character empowered will start conversations about how blind people can do things rather than conversations about how we can’t do things. Thank you. You have no idea how powerful books can be. Well, maybe you do. Most authors don’t though and they play with fire when they write about blind people. They just go ahead and create stereotypes wherever they go. Thanks so much! You’re awesome!

    • This is such lovely feedback, Shelly. Thank you. Whenever I write about characters with various challenges, I almost always do it entirely from imagination. In VIncent’s case, I imagined what it would be like to be blind. I put myself into his body, mind and soul and wrote his story. I did the same with my deaf heroine, Emmy, in SILENT MELODY. It is, then, a huge relief to hear from people who really know what it feels like that I got it right. I hope the rest of THE ARRANGEMENT lives up to your hopes for Vincent. But yes, with all seven of my heroes and heroine in the Survivors series, I want to show men and a woman who do far more than survive their various challenges. I want to show them triumphing.

  76. I recently expressed my opinion and experiences with e-books in your guestbook. Has anyone ever asked you why people don’t like books being published in e-book format only, before? Unfortunately, this is a sore spot with me. I hope others don’t have to go through what I did.
    Since I discovered your books, I have tried to collect your series books. My pocketbook will not allow for all your books, unfortunately, and I enjoy continuing or linked stories most. I recently discovered that some of yours are being reissued. Yeah! I hope this continues till they’ve all been done, for my sake.
    P.S. Hopefully, there won’t be too many in e-book format only.

  77. It is interesting that the give away is a copy of The Secret Mistress, as that is the book I am now re-reading & upon which I wished to comment. I just read the scene where Angeline & Edward encounter each other while she is visiting Eunice. One of the things I love about your books is how clearly the individual characters come across. Angeline is described as “prattling” and the way you wrote her dialog and even her thoughts is delightfully true to that description. The image that comes to my mind is that of small pebbles tumbling over and around each other as they are washed down a stream bed – each word clear and precise, yet at the same time completely jumbled. It is absolutely brilliant! I have, several times, started to write a story, but get bogged down when it comes to the dialog. How did you learn to write dialog, if such a talent can be condensed into a reasonably succinct answer?

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