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Friday, July 15, 2011

Welcome Author Mary Campisi

Thank you for having me on You Gotta Read Reviews. I look forward to spending the day here.
Where do you hail from?
I grew up in a very small town in northwest Pennsylvania with two older brothers and a younger sister. There were no malls, no McDonalds, and one movie theater that closed in the summer to avoid competition with the drive-in. (One man owned both.) One thing this town did have was a wonderful library . . . about 2 miles away. I walked there at least once a week and fell in love with the characters and places I read about. It was then I began creating different endings to some of the stories I read, and if I didn’t want the story to end, I continued it on in my head – exactly the way I wanted it! Though I moved away and lived in different cities and states, family and the small town community have always stayed with me and are often central themes in my stories.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up and how has that childhood dream affected your current career?
Honestly, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was 16 and a good student, so when people asked me, I thought I had to have an answer . . . as though it was a test! I thought about a nurse, an English teacher, or a journalist. I decided on nursing because my mother was a nurse and loved it, my grandmother lived with us and I enjoyed taking care of her, and there were several scholarships for nursing. No brainer, right? Wrong. My heart was in the written word. My college freshman English teacher told me I ruined the curve every time we had an essay. I did become a registered nurse but left a few months after taking my state boards. I found that while I loved reading about medical conditions and situations, I was not cut out to actually be in the middle of them. It would take many years to find the courage to follow my true path. Who knows? Had I become an English teacher, I might have been so content I would not have tried writing my own stories. I find many of my books involve medical situations, so that schooling did help!
Tell us about your latest book? Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us about it?
My latest book is PIECES OF YOU and book one of THE BETRAYED TRILOGY. It’s a moving contemporary romance with an incredibly wounded hero who must choose between letting go and forgiving or holding on to a past that could destroy his chance for one true love.
Sometimes hiding in the shadows is the only way to protect your heart.
Quinn Burnes’s mother disappeared when he was only fifteen leaving him with a despondent father, a little sister who suffers panic attacks, and eight notebooks containing the truth about his mother. He guards this secret for eighteen years, until on an otherwise normal day, his mother re-enters his life, pleading for his help. She’s in danger and the only thing that can save her is reclaiming the identity she shunned years ago.
Quinn is a master of emotional detachment, from his successful career as a personal injury attorney to his strings of meaningless relationships with beautiful women who possess uneasy temperaments; a sure formula to keep his heart safe and insure he’s the first to walk away. Until he meets the mysterious ‘Danielle’ a woman with too many secrets who’s on the run from the abusive, estranged husband she shot and may have killed. Danielle isn’t like any woman he’s ever met, but can he risk his heart for someone who’s doing exactly what his mother did eighteen years ago? Someone who may ultimately leave him, just like his mother?
Other books?
Of course! THE SEDUCTION OF SOPHIE SEACREST, book one of AN UNLIKELY HUSBAND SERIES, will be out in a few weeks. I’m also waiting on the final edits for INNOCENT BETRAYAL from The Wild Rose Press. Once I have those, it won’t be long before I get a release date. Very exciting! I’m also working on the sequel to THE SWEETEST DEAL and I’ve two big contemporaries with my agent which I’m very excited about!
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
My parents had 4 kids in 5 ½ years – 2 boys, 2 girls, so I know all about sibling rivalry, arguing, sharing a bedroom, and being the third (middle child). I also know about always being there for the other sibling, accepting differences, never forgetting where we came from, and looking out for one another. My grandmother moved in with us when we were teenagers and though she could speak very little English, (she spoke Italian), we all communicated and she was a great addition to our family. My mother still lives in our family home in Pennsylvania though she spends winters with my two brothers in California, and visits me in the spring and fall. (My dad died several years ago.) My sister flies to CA or OH to see my mother and we are always just a phone call away, a text, or an e-mail away. 
How much work is real? How much is fantasy?
Maybe the premise is real but the story is pure fiction. I might read an article in the paper or online, see a clip on T.V. and then I start playing ‘what-if’ scenarios. This is when it really gets intriguing. I know I have a story when I can’t stop thinking about it. A FAMILY AFFAIR was in my head for five years before I wrote it. PIECES OF YOU was probably two years. I remember watching ‘The Hours’ where the mother just walked away and her little kids kept waiting for her to come home. I wondered how a person could do this – what would make them do this. I knew I wanted a happier ending than the tragic one I watched, so I added and subtracted, then added more and came up with PIECES OF YOU- a story of forgiveness and hope. And the guy on the cover is absolutely gorgeous and a perfect match for my wounded hero, Quinn Burnes.
When I wrote PARADISE FOUND the setting was California. My brothers live there- I asked them tons of questions, they sent pictures and landmark info. When the story came out, my oldest brother asked if I was sure I hadn’t been to California! That was a true compliment. I’ve since been many times. SIMPLE RICHES is similar to the small town where I grew up. The mother, Stella Androvich, cooks from scratch and dispenses wisdom to those in need. One of my mother’s friends read the book and asked if Stella was my mother....um….maybe? Seriously, the characters may share traits but they are purely from my head!
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
What advice do you give to writers starting out?
Write what you are passionate about, do not jump on the trend wagon, and continue to improve your craft. Only you can write your stories with your voice – find that voice and stay true to it. It may take time to discover your voice but it will be worth it. Don’t take a rejection personally either-(see below) I know that’s hard to do but if you let it, rejection can smother you. Don’t let that happen to you! Join a group in the genre you write but don’t let others tell you what or how to write. Read. Quite a bit. Most importantly- write, write, write! And NEVER GIVE UP!
How do you feel about rejection letters?
Ugh!  No, do you really want to know how I feel? UGH!! Seriously, no one wants to be rejected, but if the reason is plausible, I can accept it. I might not like it, most of the time I won’t agree with it, but I will accept it. (And file it away, to pull out when it sells so I can say, ‘Ahah, you were wrong!’) The subjectivity of this business makes it difficult. Editor A might love the first half but not the last half. Editor B loves the last half and none of the first half. Editor C loves it all. D loves none of it. See what I mean? You can’t start changing your book to please everyone or you will end up with something you don’t even recognize.
What I find most difficult is waiting months and months and months and then receiving a form ‘This project is not right for us’ or nothing at all, which is apparently acceptable in some circles. I consider it bad manners, no matter how you look at it.
The kindest rejection advice I ever received came from a young editor who said to never give up. The rejection was merely a pass on the piece, not the author. Do not take it personally and please continue submitting.  So, there you have it.

You write contemporary romances and Regency historicals.  Why did you choose those genres?
I began with historicals for the pure joy of falling into romance through a fairytale setting. The beautiful young women, the wealthy, titled men, the gowns, the carriages, the estates, even the villains are pure fairytale material reminiscent of Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty. I still remember watching Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella with Leslie Ann Warren and Stuart Damon, (who was later Alan Quartermaine in General Hospital!) The historical lifts me up and carries me away into happily ever after. And here’s a confession; I watch Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice at least once a month. (The Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley version.) I know many Austen critics say it’s not true to the story, but I can’t help it, the chemistry is there and I love the scene in the rain. I also love when Mr. Darcy hands Ms. Elizabeth into the carriage and squeezes her hand. I’ve watched that scene so many times- nothing is said, yet so much is conveyed. Anthony Weston in A Taste of Seduction is initially a bit of a ‘stick in the mud’ like Mr. Darcy is before we get to know him.
Writing contemporary romance comes naturally to me. Most of my contemporary romances are hybrids; combination contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I like a strong romance in the book, so I’m always going to have one in there. The whole attraction/distraction, push/pull between the man and woman is a must. My two newest contemporary romances are A FAMILY AFFAIR and PIECES OF YOU. They have deeper themes but great love stories too. I have two other big contemporary romances with my agent right now- so, fingers crossed!
Probably the only Romance Lite book I’ve written is THE SWEETEST DEAL. It’s more of a fun book without the serious undertones that are usually my signature. I’m working on a sequel to it with the secondary characters, Roxie Revito and Rhyder Remmington. This story is proving great fun!

Where can we find you on the net?
website:   www.marycampisi.com
e-mail:     mary@marycampisi.com
blog:         http://marycampisi.blogspot.com
No facebook – yet. I know, I know…soon…maybe
Where can we find out more about your books? 
You can read about my books on my website www.marycampisi.com.  The site includes Coming Soon books and their excerpts.  Two of my Regency historical, Innocent Betrayal and The Seduction of Sophie Seacrest are listed as Coming Soon. Of course,  you can also go to Amazon! If you have more direct questions, like when will the sequel be out or are you planning to write a sequel, just e-mail me at mary@marycampisi.com. I really do love to hear from readers, especially if my characters are not cooperating and I’m getting ready to delete them!


Lynne Marshall said...

thank you for an enjoyable blog. I love knowing there's a former nurse out there who followed her heart and became a writer. And thank God for libraries. I still remember the big day when I was in 3rd grade when I got my very own library card.
But - you must! get a website. : ) People will want to contact you and they'll have no place to go.
Nice to get to know you!

Dyanne Conner said...

Hi Mary!

It's Dyanne Conner from NEORWA. I got Pieces of You and I'm looking forward to reading it and the other books to follow. You've always been so nice to me the few times that we have meet. I enjoyed finding out more about you. I'm in the medical field also! I wish you all the best and hope to see you before the next confernece!

Mary Campisi said...

Hi Lynne and Dyanne:

Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, I did indeed follow my heart to writing but it certainly took several years to give myself permission to do so!

And I do have a website, an e-mail, a blog, and good heavens - a twitter. I think the color on the site is too dark to pick up so I will list them all in a separate post.

Dyanne- great to hear from you! I hope you enjoy Pieces of You and yes, let's hope we see each other before next spring!

Again, thanks ladies!


Mary Campisi said...

Here are the blacked out links:

website: www.marycampisi.com

e-mail: mary@marycampisi.com

blog: http://marycampisi.blogspot.com

twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/MaryCampisi

No facebook – yet. I know, I know…soon…maybe

Vonnie Davis said...

Lovely post, Mary. So full of helpful information. I, too, dreamt of being a writer as I trudged through jobs I hated. What a miserable existence! Now, retired, I'm finally living my dream. What inner peace! What joy! Much success to you.

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Mary!

Mary Campisi said...

Oh, Vonnie, I'm delighted you are writing and living your dream. Much success to you as well.

Many people approach me and say they want to write a book. They don't really know what that means. The dedication and persistence, the hours in the chair, the revisions, the rejections. I think they want to SAY they've written a book as in having done it but not actually doing it. Like wanting to have a great body but then hearing what you have to do to get it...umm...not so much:)