Mary Stella fell in love with romance novels while pursuing her English degree. Her writing career started while she was in college and was paid to write her first radio commercial. It was then that her dream of writing a book took hold.
All Keyed Up, a humorous contemporary romance set at a dolphin facility in the Florida Keys with a determined researcher and a stubborn DEA agent, was her debut novel, originally published in print format a few years ago.
Key of Sea, published a year later, proves that an ex-trophy wife can create a new life for herself, find love again with a hot younger man, and successfully battle land crabs.
Mary updated both books prior to releasing them electronically. She’s hard at work on a new project, which will also be set in the Florida Keys – the beautiful, fun, slightly abnormal island chain that she calls home.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For most writers, working on a book is not their full time job. Often, the challenge is making the time to sit down every day and commit to the book. It’s hard when there are other demands like a full time job and/or family responsibilities. I put myself on a schedule to write every day. I still took care of my other things, but my books got the attention they deserved. From a writing craft perspective, the hardest part for me is tuning out the internal critic and editor and letting the words, characters and scenes flow without second guessing my own voice and creativity.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I wrote my first little story when I was in first grade. I was an early reader and from the beginning words and stories were magic and I loved playing with them and giving voice to my imagination. Over the years I always wanted to write a book and let lack of confidence get in my way. I started and stopped a dozen times. In 1994, I finally firmly committed, with no barriers and finished my first book a year later. That book has never been published – and rightly so. :-) It was a learner book for me and I’ve progressed a great deal ever since.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (if any)?
Persistence and determination are an aspiring author’s friends! The industry is hard to break into and sometimes you need as much luck and timing as talent and ability. With All Keyed Up, I found editors who loved my voice but thought there were story elements that wouldn’t sell. One editor completely misunderstood something and rejected the book because of it. Not every book is going to be a good fit with every publisher which is why authors need to not give up. I was fortunate to find a publisher that loved everything about All Keyed Up and then Key of Sea. (Note: Medallion Press published them in print form. I published them independently in electronic format.)