Today we welcome Inspire Christian writer, Mary Beth Magee.
Mary Beth, you started writing for publication when you were just a girl. Please share with us how you landed your first publishing gig.
I don’t know that I landed it as much as fell into it. I grew up in New Orleans. One of the newspapers had a weekly Young People’s Page. It featured reviews of children’s books by kids. Once I found out this was a way to get free books, I began reviewing books for them. If I’d known about clip sheets back then. I’d have saved copies of the reviews for posterity. However I built my personal library, learned about some amazing writers and got to tell other readers about them. I haven’t stopped reviewing books since.
Your debut novel, Death in the Daylilies is a delightful murder mystery. Where did you get the inspiration for the characters and plot for this cozy mystery series?
Shortly after my mother passed away, my two buddies dragged me on a trip to Hattiesburg, MS for the annual Daylily Driving Tour. Before long, my imagination kicked in and I wondered what would happen if an unsuspecting visitor came across a dead body in a bed of daylilies? What would they do? How would they handle it? How could God be glorified in spite of the awful circumstances?
The series title (LOL)4 refers to Little Old Ladies, Laughing Out Loud, Living Our Lives with Lots Of Love.
Death in the Daylilies is the first in the (LOL)4 series. Tell us about book number two.
In Ambush at the Arboretum, the ladies help organize a fundraiser for the local arboretum. They stumble into danger, as secrets are exposed.
This novel gives me a chance to share the beauty and charm of arboretums and perhaps alert readers to a treasure in their own community. Ambush at the Arboretum should release early 2015.
Please share a bit about your journalism work.
I began with online sites for short articles and reviews which led to paying sites. They don’t pay a lot, but keep my name out there and give me a legitimate reason to approach potential subjects for interviews.
I’ve been privileged to meet and tell the stories of some amazing people: authors, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs. I’ve visited places I wouldn’t have seen otherwise and made a few pennies doing it. I hope to eventually group articles into books. For example, I’ve interviewed a lot of people who are following their dream as a second or third career.
The tools I learned in journalism, such as opening paragraphs with who, what, where, when, why and how also help me in my fiction writing. If I keep those tools sharp, I enhance my storytelling.
Most recently, I’ve had an article accepted for the inaugural issue of a regional magazine, Southern Seniors. My story made the cover headline, which is a thrill. It’s due out in October, across southern Louisiana and Mississippi.
What’s your biggest challenge in writing?
Staying focused on the project at hand. I enjoy so many types of writing that I can stray into something else before I finish the first project. A poem can jump into my head while I’m working on an article or another aspect of the subject can tease me away from the main article. Research can take me down rabbit trails. I want each thing I write to reflect God’s glory. That means staying on task for Him.
What was the biggest “aha!” moment for you in writing?
When someone said “what you wrote helped me,” I realized I wasn’t writing in a vacuum. I could make a difference in lives. Writing isn’t just about indulging my love for words. Writing is about sharing God’s love through reaching others with a message from Him. I may not even recognize the message, but someone who needs it will.
As Christians, we try to keep God in front of us when we write, even if we’re writing for the secular market. How might you encourage other Christian writers in their efforts to honor God through their work?
Remember to put your best effort into everything you write. Even in secular work, we can honor God. Write from a godly perspective and don’t take on a topic that would dishonor Him. You may not be writing about Him in a given piece, but always write for Him.
What else would you like people to know?
I have a wonderful son, whom I love dearly and don’t get to see nearly enough. He and his beautiful wife live in Illinois. My sisters and their families live in California, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Much of the rest of my family still resides in south Louisiana and Mississippi.
I am also blessed with an extended “adopted” family through my best friend. I love being Gramma Mary Beth to her grandkids and great-grandkids.
In addition to writing, I teach online training classes for real estate agents in Illinois. That takes away from writing time, but pays the bills until writing can.
Thank you, Mary Beth! Here’s how you can find Mary Beth Magee online.
Her website: https://sites.google.com/site/marybethmageewrites/
Sign up for a monthly newsletter and bonus content at www.DeathInTheDaylilies.com to stay abreast of what the LOLs are up to.
Death in the Daylilies is available at Amazon (print and Kindle), Barnes and Noble (print and Nook), iTunes and Smashwords. An audio version is in the works.
Mary Beth has contributed to several anthologies, including Inspire’s Victory and the upcoming Inspire Promise as well as Not Your Mother’s Book on Being a Stupid Kid and Not Your Mother’s Book on Being a Parent.
Carol Peterson writes to educate, entertain and inspire. She has four books for use in classrooms grades 4-7. Her With Faith Like Hers Bible study series looks at the lives of women recorded in Scripture to see what we can apply from their lives to ours. Carol can be found at carolpetersonauthor.com