Good morning everyone. Today I am thrilled to introduce the very talented and multi-published Marilyn Celeste Morris.
Marilyn, thanks so much for joining us today in the Potpourri Parlor…
Can you tell us a little about your next book to come out – After Camelot: Esther’s Quest? Is this a sequel to The Unexplored Heart? Do you have any more works planned based on these characters?
Marilyn: Yes, on all three questions. I also have sequels planned for my other novels: The Women of Camp Sobingo will focus on Trudy Cavanaugh and her fame and fortune as the Chairman of her father-in-law’s publishing empire. It will be named: That Cavanaugh Woman. The third book in the Sabbath Trilogy will be Sabbath’s Village, and will tell how the small town encounters witchcraft in their midst. So far, that’s the only sequels planned, but my other novels might cry out for a sequel.
I’m curious about your book The Cards We’re Dealt, Life with Lupus Erythematosus – what inspired you to write this book? I know that Lupus is a very personal issue for you, how has having Lupus affected you as a writer?
Marilyn: I kept a journal for many years, detailing my day-to-day search for answers to the strange symptoms I was experiencing, and the frustration of going to five doctors/medical centers in three years. When I was finally diagnosed, I wondered if others had experienced the same feelings and thoughts. I joined an online lupus support group and gained even more knowledge and insight about this baffling condition. I asked permission from the moderators asking if I could contact many of the participants and using their experiences, frustrations and how they shared their diagnoses with friends and families. They said they thought that was a great idea, so when a particular story or “rant” struck me as being part of my own feelings, I sent each one a permission document to sign and return to me. I borrowed liberally from my journals to use as an intro before I inserted their wisdom, experiences both positive and negative, and feelings of despair, anger, self-pity and moment of hilarity; one participant quoted a 12 Step prayer as: Lord give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of those physicians who told me it was all in my head.
Do you work on more than one novel at a time?
Marilyn: Yes. First time anyone has asked me that question. Doesn’t everybody? By “work” I mean a few random scenes are written into the body of the novel, in no certain order, and saved with a notation of where those scenes could be planted. I carry 5 x7 note cards in my purse where random ideas can be written down before the experience is forgotten.
What historical time period is your favorite?
Marilyn: I don’t think I have a favorite time period right now. My two historical novels are reflections of the WWII era and 1860s Victorian years. I can’t tell you my reaction to discovering that WWII years are in the “historical” class, but I remained slack-jawed for days after learning that. I guess it’s because I am old enough to remember some of those years, even if I was just a child. As for Victorian England, it’s near enough to hold our fascination with the young monarch’s reign in comparison to the present Queen. But I’m open to other time periods; I love to research the distant past, too.
Marilyn: I attribute my fondness for history as a 4th grader in a Department of Defense Dependents School in Seoul, Korea, when we were distributed a small, red, leather-bound book titled “Ancient History.” When I read that my hero, Alexander the Great cried because he had no more worlds to conquer, I cried, too.
Do you have a vision board or other `trick’ to help motivate you?
Marilyn: No. At the beginning of a novel, I keep my story line close at hand, so I can remember where I should change a character or insert a different scene. It’s fairly random until I near the end of the novel, where I review my so-called “outline” and revise if necessary.
Do you schedule time to write or is writing all consuming to the exclusion of everything else and you schedule time to do other things? Like eat.
Marilyn: I have a rather haphazard writing schedule. I like to joke that I do my best writing while I’m in the shower. Must be the cleansing of the soapy water. By that time, I have done the morning “pick up” routine, like unloading the dishwasher, etc. so I can feel free to write until I’m ready to do something else. My son has installed a graphic that comes on the screen reminding me that I need to take a break, which I cheerfully ignore. I write until I find a stopping point; then I go load the washer, unload the dryer, etc. until I’m ready to get back to the work in progress.
How do you “connect” with your readers?
Marilyn: I don’t know how or why I connect with some readers. I’ve had some rather nice comments on each one of my novels, and with my non-fiction works.
Can you tell us about any memorable author-reader interactions?
Marilyn: Oh, I have a beautiful story about a reader’s reaction to my non-fiction book, Once a Brat, Always a Brat. My son and I were going to a friend’s funeral when the phone rang. Woody answered it, then handed it to me. “It’s about your book,” he whispered. I thought, “Which book?” and then, “Am I in trouble?” ‘But the voice on the other end of the line said, “I have to tell you how much I enjoyed your book, Once a Brat, Always a Brat. You see, I’m a brat, too, and I believe I was in Linz, Austria at the same time you were. In fact,” she went on while I tried to process what she had said, “you were probably in my younger brother’s class. His name is Joe Grotenrath.”
I almost screamed in recognition. “Joe Grotenrath! He was my boyfriend!” If 6th graders can have boyfriends, then he was mine. I remember standing with him on a balcony in the summer moonlight, where I got my first kiss. So long ago, and so far away, yet here was his sister. She was a senior in high school at the time, and they weren’t there as long as I was, but she managed to get her photo in our yearbook. She said she no longer had any of her memorabilia from Austria, so I offered to scan that yearbook’s photos and send it to her. We have kept in touch via email since that day.
When you are not writing, what do you do to unwind?
Marilyn: I watch a lot of television. Good, bad or indifferent, I’m a big fan of television. Most of the History and National Geographic programs take me away to different times and places from my current project. Yet, I’m always taking mental notes, if not actual notes on my note cards, for other projects. I actually found a plot line for my current work in progress, where Esther discovers an amazing artifact I had not even considered, yet it fits perfectly in this novel.
Aside from yourself, of course, who are your favorite authors? Was there any particular author who inspired you to write?
Marilyn: I can’t say I have favorite authors; I’m an eclectic reader. But I do love Stephen King and Dean Koontz. (Many people express surprise that this “little old lady” loves the macabre, but I love it.) I don’t tend to run out and buy the current hit novel. Besides, I find it difficult to read anybody’s work while I’m writing my own novel. You could say, I get a “guilty feeling” that I should be writing instead of reading. And I don’t have any idea of who inspired me to become a writer, myself. I just know I was meant to be a writer from the first day in kindergarten when Teacher told us that the alphabet made words, words made sentences, and sentences made stories. I was drunk with power after that.
Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?
Marilyn: I’m definitely a morning person. I sometimes work through the “normal” lunchtime, until my blood glucose level is so low I have to stop and get something to eat. I take a nap when I need one, and sometimes I return to my laptop after dinner to finish a chapter or at least a thought left in limbo.
Is there any one particular character in your novels that you feel is most like Marilyn Celeste Morris? How?
Marilyn: I have to admit I am becoming more and more like Esther Wooster, the wife of the famed archaeologist featured inThe Unexplored Heart. I have told the story about when I typed the words, “The End” to that novel, I was startled to see Esther Wooster storming into my office and settling beside my desk. “You just think this is the end,” she snorted. “I want my own book. I may have been a minor character in this novel, but I want to be the featured player in your next book. And it must have my name in the title.” Thus, After Camelot: Esther’s Quest became my latest work in progress. Normally I’m a pretty quiet, unassuming woman, due to my sheltered, compliant childhood as an army officer’s daughter, then the obedient, quiet wife of two corporate businessmen, but I found a whole other personality in my writings. So you might say, Esther has been begging to come out for many years. As has Trudy Cavanaugh, from The Women of Camp Sobingo, who inherits her father-in-law’s powerful position of Chairman of the Board of his publishing empire.
I won’t write about women who are weak and submissive. Can’t do it.
Can you describe your favorite place to write? Do you listen to music or watch TV while you write?
Marilyn: Although I have a laptop and could theoretically write almost anywhere, I prefer the desk in my bedroom corner for my writing. I pull the laptop close to me on a large lap desk, balancing the things on my armchair for comfort. I have the television going in the background, volume on low, but I’ve learned I can’t have music in the background: I want to get up and dance! Chair dancing is also non-productive, so I stick with television cable news channels.
What do you prefer to read, a print (paper)) book, an ebook, or an audiobook? Does it make a difference what you are reading as to what format you prefer?
Marilyn: In this technical age, I should be Amish. I haven’t tried too many e-book readers, no matter what the genre, but I love the feel and the ‘”heft” of a good print novel in my hands.
Please tell us a little about your home life- family, pets, community?
Marilyn: I have three grown children: Two girls and a boy. One of my girls is actually a step-daughter, but we cheerfully ignore that she was born to another woman who went off to Los Angeles with Lauri, at the age of 12 months, until her father, my second husband, discovered she was being mistreated so he flew out to LA from TX and literally kidnapped her, returning to TX with a bottle and one change of diapers. He and I had worked in the same company; I thought my kids, son Woody, and daughter Terri, 12 and 10 years old, and I were going to starve to death after I divorced their father. So, it seemed logical and practical for us to marry and raise our children. That lasted 12 years when we finally gave our marriage a mercy killing. Terri moved to CA where she is in the mortgage business; Lauri has my grandchildren, living on an acreage west of Fort Worth where she raises horses and gives riding lessons, both Western and Dressage. The kids are Joseph, 18, getting ready to go off to college, Julia, 13, and Jayna, 7.
My son recently came home to live with me due to the economy in OR, where he was an insurance salesman, and while it’s been quite an adjustment, all in all we have learned to live together quite nicely. Especially since I have medical issues from time to time, and he does all the grocery shopping and the cooking.
At what point in your life did you first feel comfortable calling yourself an author/writer?
Marilyn: Just a few years ago, I began telling others “I’m a writer.” It felt awkward at first, but I finally got used to it. But now, I’m calling myself a novelist, since that’s the bulk of my work: “Novelist: Telling lies for fun and profit.”
Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?
My website is: http://authormarilyncelestemorris.blogspot.com/
PUBLISHER’S SITE: http://bit.ly/LIq9iy
Free reads: First four chapters of all my books: http://bit.ly/JZM0j4
Is there a place where readers can reach you?
Marilyn: Email me at marilyncmorris(at)sbcglobal.net
Do you have anything you want to say to your readers?
Marilyn: I’d like to thank them for reading my books, and especially those who gave reviews, unasked, but received gratefully. I’d like to think of my readers as women who have immense curiosity in many different areas.
Marilyn Celeste Morris, Author, Editor, Speaker
PUBLISHER’S SITE: http://bit.ly/LIq9iy
And now, free reads: First four chapters of all Marilyn’s books: http://bit.ly/JZM0j4