The Write Way Café welcomes Mary E. Thompson. She shares what inspires her and where she finds her stories.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I always loved to read. Growing up, it was my go-to. I read constantly, but I didn’t consider writing a book until I was much older. After my kids were born and starting school, I wanted to make some changes. I took a serious look at my life and tried to come up with something I would enjoy. I started reading again and writing seemed like a natural step! It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m so happy writing that I know I’ll keep doing it!
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
I think no matter which path I take, it’s always a little twisty! This story was brewing in my mind for a few years, waiting for me to have the time to focus on this series. Since I’m a very content indie author, publishing was just a matter of finishing the book! My research though, that was the fun part! My husband and I traveled to the Finger Lakes area of central New York. We spent a few days touring vineyards and visiting small towns and falling completely in love with the area. It was my first research trip and we had a blast!
Where did the idea for your story come from?
Book titles always come to me first. I don’t remember where this one came from, but I liked the idea of flipping the script, so to speak, on a common phrase. The rest of the books in the series all have similar titles - phrases we all know, but altered in a way to relate to the story. In Never A Bridesmaid, Always A Bride, I envisioned a woman returning home after multiple failed marriages over the many years she was gone. I even wrote the opening scene a few years ago.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
I live in Western New York, outside Buffalo. I love my area. There are so many beautiful places in New York State that are stunning, but don’t get much attention because they aren’t New York City. New York City is beautiful in its own way, but I’m not a city girl. I’ve set most of my stories in the Buffalo area, and I felt the need to branch out, to leave Buffalo, but stay close. I visited the Finger Lakes when I was in middle school and still had memories of how gorgeous the area was. It made sense to showcase it in a new series. As an added bonus, they make wine! I can’t ever say no to wine!
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
I’m very lucky. I have not yet faced writer’s block. I have my moments where I’d rather binge watch Arrow (my not-so-guilty pleasure), but I also love writing. This is my 30th book and I have ideas for the next 30 (I wish I were joking - they kind of make me crazy!). It’s a fun job, and I try to keep in mind that I chose this. No one is forcing me to write. I wanted to write. After being in a job that I wasn’t happy at for many years, it’s easy to focus on what I love about this career.
I also read a lot. If I find myself floundering, I pick up a book by one of my favorite authors and find myself getting inspired to write again.
Or I look at cute men on Pinterest for a whole different kind of inspiration!
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about handymen, vineyards, and family relationships?
I learned a ton! Since I have ten books planned centering around the vineyard, I’ve had to learn a lot about how to operate a vineyard. Since neither of them were very hands on in the vineyard in this book, a lot of that knowledge didn’t come out, but it’s there, waiting! I learned about operating a business with a lot of different tasks - the inn, the restaurant, the gift shop, the tasting room, and the vineyard. There’s a lot to it.
As for everything else, I’m always learning. This is the longest book I’ve ever written. It includes two separate love stories that intertwine. Each new series I write, I push myself in one way or another. My challenge with this series is the two love stories, which means four points of view and a whole lot more figuring out how to weave them. I really enjoyed it though. It wasn’t easy, but this was my favorite book, so far, to write.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My writing space is a bit of an issue for me honestly! We moved two years ago and I gave up my desk. The tiny one I have doesn’t work for me. So I write on the couch.
The best part, and what I will keep in mind when I finally have an office, is that I love the space! I am a plotter so I always have a notebook next to me, usually open to the page I’m working off of. I have other scattered notebooks and my planner and a water bottle… it gets busy. It’s in my living room so the tv is always on, playing music softly, because I need the background noise to keep me from getting distracted by everything outside. Sometimes my cat joins me, curling up next to me. I guess it’s really not that bad!
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m focusing on my next release. It’s book 11 in my Big & Beautiful series, Curvaceous & Captivating. On the heels of that, I’ll be writing book 3 of Raise A Glass, Love At First Fight.
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
This is a really hard question for me. If I absolutely had to do something else, I could go back to engineering, but it would definitely not be my dream job! I think running a review blog would be a ton of fun because I’d get to read all the time. I considered being an editor and think I would enjoy that, again, because I’d get to read all the time! At this point, I don’t see myself doing anything else, but if I did, I think I’d stick close to the writing community.
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
Editing! Maybe I shouldn’t admit that, but I’ve always struggled with editing. I know I need to go back through and make sure everything is written correctly, but when it’s done, I’m ready to go on to the next one! I have to force myself to slow down and edit the right way.
Alyssa Morgan thought she’d never set foot on her family’s vineyard again. Fifteen years was a long time to be away, but not nearly long enough when she has nothing to show for her time. Unless you’d count three failed marriages, two parents she barely spoke to, one disastrous attempt at a college degree, and zero friends to count on.
Jake Monroe thought about leaving Amavita Estates many times after Alyssa left him. Over the years, her family became his family. They accepted him. Loved him. Healed him. Her family was the family he never had, and without her around to remind him otherwise, he could pretend he was one of them.
Until she walked back into his world looking nothing like the girl he used to know.
Alyssa knows she needs to stay away from Jake. Jake wants nothing to do with her. But the chemistry that drew them together fifteen years ago is stronger than they are.
Especially when Jake glimpses the vulnerability she’s trying to hide. His old protective instincts kick in. He wants to soothe her old hurts, and maybe her new ones, too. But Jake doesn’t know if he can move beyond their past to be friends, let alone what he thought they would become. And Alyssa doesn’t know if she can lean on him again when there’s still another woman in his life.
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Alyssa Morgan stepped out of the cab at the foot of the driveway on Highway 89. She looked around at the sprawling vineyard before her, wishing she were anywhere but there. Amavita Estates was her home for 18 years but Alyssa had run from Bereton, New York and the Finger Lakes the first chance she got.
The only daughter of a single mom, she wanted to get out. She needed excitement, activity. More than her small home town had to offer. Yeah, she had eight cousins that she grew up with, but they all had siblings. She was on her own, even within the crowd. Her mom, Marie, was the oldest of the Richliano sisters. Alyssa loved her mom, but she fought with her a lot as a teenager.
Fifteen years later, Alyssa couldn’t help but wonder if she and her mom would actually get along. Alyssa had grown up a lot since she’d left home. She’d also screwed up a lot.
In truth, Alyssa wasn’t ready to face her family, but she didn’t have anywhere else to go. Nor did she have a choice. She had been summoned by her mother. Alyssa didn’t know what was going on, but she knew when you were told to come by one of the sisters, you answered.
Alyssa looked down at her four inch heels and wondered if she should have asked the cab driver to take her down the drive to the main house, the inn where she’d lived growing up. No, she thought, walking would be good for building up her resolve before she faced the family. She’d barely kept in touch with any of them since she left and hadn’t seen anyone except her mom. Marie was there for Alyssa at her weddings. All three of them. None of her aunts or cousins had come though.
Within a few steps Alyssa realized how tough the gravel would make dragging her suitcases. Her heels were proving to be deadly to her ankles, but the cab was long gone and she was going to have to deal with it. She’d gotten tougher over the last few years.
The vineyard looked the same as it always had. Alyssa took in the sloped land leading to Cayuga Lake. The beauty of the Finger Lakes region in New York State always struck Alyssa. Most people loved visiting New York City or even Niagara Falls, but there was simply nothing more picturesque than the vineyards around the Finger Lakes.
Not that it had been enough to hold Alyssa there. She had bigger dreams. Dreams that involved getting to know her father, a big city job, and letting the love of her life be free to be happy. In fifteen years, she’d accomplished exactly none of her goals. She still had a shitty relationship with her father, even after living in the same city as him for five years. That big city job she thought would fall into her lap after college never happened since she never finished her degree.
She’d even tried to move on with her life, and forget about Jake Monroe. Jake was the one reason she’d considered staying in Bereton. He was everything she wanted in a man when she was eighteen. When she left, she planned to come back, but the longer she was away from Jake, the more she realized he deserved someone who wanted the same things he did.
Someone like Lana.
Mary E. Thompson grew up loving to read, like a good little girl. Many nights she would fall asleep with the flashlight still turned on as she hid under the covers trying to finish the last few pages of a book. As an adult, the light from her ereader means she doesn't need a flashlight, but she still stays up way too late to finish a book.
When Mary's not reading, she's playing with her two kids or living out her own real life romance novel with her hubby. She has a weakness for chocolate, especially when it's paired with peanut butter, and has been known to have a bad day just because there's no chocolate in the house. Unless there’s wine. Then everything is okay.
Mary grew up in Buffalo, New York and swears she's the only local to never ski or snowboard. Soccer was always her sport, with a couple adventures white water rafting and skydiving to keep things interesting. Mary moved to South Carolina for college but missed Buffalo every day. Yeah, she thinks she's crazy, too. She somehow convinced her South Carolina born and bred hubby to return to Buffalo to raise their kids and live out their lives. He’s still not sure what he was thinking.
Visit Mary online!
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