Thursday, November 16, 2017 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Raise a Glass with Mary E. Thompson

Today The Write Way Café welcomes Mary E. Thompson, who didn't let self-doubt prevent her from writing books readers count among their favorites.

Tell us a little about your Raise A Glass series.
     The series is set in the Finger Lakes in central New York, on Cayuga Lake. Vineyards are a way of life in that area with so many of them. My family is an Italian family and the third generation is taking over the vineyard. There are nine cousins that we get to watch find, mess up, and capture love. The fifth book in the series, Too True To Be Good, released on Tuesday!

If Too True To Be Good was made into a movie, who would play your main characters, and why?
     My inspiration for my main characters was David Gandy and Rachel Bilson. I saw a picture of David Gandy in jeans and a white t-shirt, a casual stance, and it just worked. Zach is a chef, but also the kind of guy who knows how sexy he is and doesn’t really have to work at it.
     I watched Hart of Dixie and loved Rachel Bilson. She was quirky and funny and sweet, and I know that’s the character, but it worked for Gianna. Of course, my female characters are nowhere near as skinny as she is, but we could work that out!

What or who has been instrumental in or to your writing journey?
     My husband, definitely. When I lost my last job, I was a few months away from quitting anyway. My husband encouraged me to start writing. It took me a little bit to believe I could do it, but he kept pushing because he knew I wasn’t happy. Once I finally gave in and started writing, I knew he was right! I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support and encouragement.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve been given?  What’s your best writing advice for others?
     So many authors say write the next book. At first I took that to mean you have to have more than one, but as I’ve kept writing, it appeared to me that it meant keep going and don’t give up. I’m not sure if that has ever been the intention, but that’s how I’ve started to take that advice. Keep writing, move forward, keep learning.
     My advice for other authors is to find your path. Not just in terms of the way you publish, but in what you write, how you market, and everything you do. Sometimes you’ll have a burning desire to write something that isn’t mainstream, or isn’t in your current wheelhouse. If it’s something you can’t stop thinking about, do it. It might not be a hit, but if you want to do it, there are times you have to take risks. You know your path. If you want to take risks, take them, and be prepared for whatever the outcome is. But know where you’re going and go.

What “keepers” are in your home library?
     We moved into an apartment a few years ago so I was forced to get rid of a lot of books. It was a very painful process, but I kept the books that spoke to me. Books that I loved, that inspired me, that were personal in some ways.
     A few of those include Nobody But You by Jill Shalvis, Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin, A Bend In The Road by Nicholas Sparks, and A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck. There are tons more on my shelves, but those five are ones I could give you details about without a second thought!

If you could be a character in any book you’ve read (or written), which character would you be and why?
     One book that has stuck with me for a while was actually written by a friend of mine. I love romantic comedies, but don’t have the voice for it. Stephanie Haefner does, and I love her books. Try Me On For Size is about a woman put in a very hilarious situation to save her business. She’s an amazing friend, a smart business woman, and struggles through her own confidence issues. I think we all have moments of self doubt, but Mia pushes aside her own concerns and does what she thinks she needs to do to save her career. In all this, she’s an amazing friend to her business partner and shows that she’s really smart and a good person. I think being there for the people in your life is a trait I always want to have, and there’s a little bit of taking care of herself, too. I think we all need to reach for what we want a little more than we do, and I aspire to be like Mia in that way. Throw caution to the wind once in a while and just go for it!

What book do you wish you could have written?
     Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis was the first romance novel I ever read. I didn’t know books like that even existed until a few short years ago. I always loved to read, but when my kids were little, I didn’t read much. When I finally got back into reading, I found that book. It might sound silly, but it changed my life. That book opened my eyes to a whole new world of reading and writing. I absolutely loved it.
     I think the part I wish I’d written is the part that inspired me to become a writer. I’d love to have a reader tell me one day that they wrote a book because of one I wrote. That I inspired them. To me, that would be a huge compliment. I would be doing what I do without Jill Shalvis, and yes, I told her
that when I met her!

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? 
     Any time I get a review that isn’t complimentary, it’s hard to take. Not every reader is going to like what I write, but it’s still hard to hear when someone doesn’t like a book I poured myself into.
The best compliment I ever got was when a reader emailed me and said my book was the best one she’d read all year. I was amazed because there are so many truly spectacular books out. It made my day, my whole year really!

What is your favorite social media?  Why?
     Pinterest, even though most people say it’s not really social media. I’m visual so I like that. Straight up social media, I’d have to say Facebook since I feel like interaction is easier there. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong on all the others!

Do you have any compulsions you must do for no particular reason?
     That I must do? I don’t think that applies. However, I am very habitual. I can put my slippers on (under my nightstand stacked on top of each other) without looking because I always take them off in the same order. My keys are never lost, my calendar is color-coded, and I’m even particular about where things go in the fridge. Don’t even get me started on which way the toilet paper is supposed to be hung!

And now for the fun stuff! 

What is your biggest shopping downfall?
     My kids. Maybe that’s a silly answer, but I want my kids to have everything. It’s a delicate balance between spoiling them and teaching them to work for what they have. If they need something though, they’ll get it. Without a question.

Are you a glass half empty or glass half full personality?
     Mostly I’m a glass half full kind of person.

Are you a dog/cat/other person?
     Definitely a cat person. I like that they’re more independent and I don’t have to worry if we go away for the weekend.

What is your favorite season and why?
     Winter! I grew up in Buffalo, New York, but lived in South Carolina for seventeen years. I missed winter. The cool air and the freshness of it all. I love that it’s cozy and you can have a fire and hot chocolate and really, is there anything better than winter?

If you had to write with a pen instead of a computer, what type of pen would be your preference?
     Pentel Energel Liquid Gel Ink Pens with a 0.7 mm needle tip. And I’d have to write in the purple one - it’s my favorite. Although I do have a lot of other colors because…well, I said my calendar was color-coded!

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.

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Lynn Crandall said...

Your series sounds great! Thank you for being on our blog today!

HiDee said...

Thank you for being with us again today, Mary. I've enjoyed getting to know you and I want to check out your series!

Mary Thompson said...

Thanks Lynn and HiDee! It was so much fun to talk a little about Raise A Glass and to share a little about me! Thanks for having me here!

_ said...

Great post, Mary.
Emma Lane

Patricia Bond said...

Wonderful post! And you're not the only local to never ski or snowboard. I do draw the line at jumping out of airplanes, though. This is a great new series - can't wait to read the new one.