Interview with Marianne Mitchell

When did you first start writing?
I wrote poems, stories and short plays when I was in elementary school. However, I never thought I'd be a 'published' author some day. I guess I had no idea how books were made and I certainly never got to meet an author. Much later in life as a teacher I wrote skits for my students. That was more fun than grading papers so I decided to dedicate more time to writing. I started with magazine stories and articles and then jumped in to book length stories.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The spark for my book A PROMISE MADE came from a mystery in my family. One of my great-aunts emigrated from Sweden in 1884. After a short stay with relatives in Omaha, she took a train to Denver and was never heard from again. This bothered me since it was not proper for a young girl to go traveling alone. It also prompted many questions. Why Denver? Did she know someone there? How did she earn her keep? Why didn't anyone keep in touch with her or go find her? These questions had no answers because everyone who might have known her had died. So, to satisfy my curiosity I wrote this story.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have published both with traditional publishers and with a small indie press. Sometimes I did it myself because my story filled a certain 'niche' too small for a big publisher. One of my indie books later sold to an educational publisher. But these days, I much prefer the faster indie route. I still aim high and try to make my books as professional as possible.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm currently hooked on adult mysteries that feature a dog in the story. I've read all of the Raine Stockton dog series and am now on the books by David Rosenfelt. When working on a particular genre, like a children's ghost story, I'll read as many of that type to see what worked and how the plot developed.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read on a Kindle.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy is hearing from readers, either by email or through their reviews of my books. I also love meeting with students in elementary schools and talking to them about books and writing.
What are you working on next?
My next project is a middle-grade ghost mystery. It was inspired when my brother delivered a load of lightning-struck wood to my house for the winter. At first I thought the wood might be magic, but in the end, it turned out to be haunted.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My other passion is working with my dogs. One dog, a standard poodle, is a therapy dog and we visit a hospital and the library. My second dog, also a poodle, is being trained to do therapy work, too. They are such smart dogs, they just beg for something interesting to do. When we're out, they are the "star" and I'm just the person at the end of the leash.
What is your writing process?
When I get an idea I jot it down briefly before it escapes. Then I think about it for a while, doing 'what ifs' in my head. I do a lot of pre-writing this way to save me from dead ends when I actually start writing. Then I sketch out a simple outline of who, what, where and when. I think about my characters a lot, finding out what motivates them, what scares them, what they hope to gain by the end of the story. The writing of each chapter goes through a number of tweaks and revisions as I go along. Sometimes I change directions when a new twist comes to mind. By the time I've finished first draft, the story has been polished a lot. But there are always more edits to come before it's done. I always have someone else read it before publishing because by that time, my eyes just slide right over the typos and mistakes. Fresh eyes help!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I often search for books by authors I know but I also look for authors who are just starting out. I've found several good books to read by doing search by genre on Smashwords. For example, children's books/ghost stories.
How do you approach cover design?
I like a cover to suggest what the story is about without being too detailed. With a small picture to show online, the cover must jump out and not look cluttered.
Describe your desk
My desk is a mess. If I ever clean it up I won't be able to find anything!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I've lived in a lot of places and each place has played a role in my writing, providing me with haunted houses, mystery settings, and dangerous environments. Colorado is featured in two of my novels and Arizona in others. I also draw on events from my childhood, including people I've known. They won't recognize themselves in my stories because I play "mix and match" with physical description, personalities and happenings.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love hearing from my readers! They will write with questions or comments and sometimes wild praise. It always makes me smile!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has given me the opportunity to reach more readers. Also, it's so liberating to have this new way to publish. Some of my stories just don't suit the traditional route but I still want to share them. Now I can!
Published 2013-10-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Ghost in the Convent
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 23,440. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2015 by Rafter Five Press. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Family / Orphans & Foster Homes
(5.00 from 1 review)
An old convent has sat vacant and neglected for over fifty years. Now a developer wants to turn the grounds into a shopping center. But spirits from the past want a mystery solved before the wrecking ball swings. Young Jenna must find out what a certain ghost wants before something terrible happens to her father, the architect on the project.
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,140. Language: English. Published: April 9, 2014 by Rafter Five Press. Categories: Fiction » Cultural & ethnic themes » Hispanic & Latino, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fairy Tales
"Paloma" is a re-telling of an old Cinderella tale from Spain. A young girl must leave her home to find her way in the world. Her only possessions are three beautiful dresses left to her by her mother. However, beauty alone will not bring her happiness. She must be clever and careful in order to find her true love.
The Ghost in the Wood
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 21,870. Language: English. Published: February 17, 2014 by Rafter Five Press. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Paranormal, Fiction » Adventure » General
It was a dark and stormy night fifty years ago when lightning zapped a tree and killed a young boy. His spirit was caught in the lightning-struck wood. Now, decades later, the ghost is released and is causing harm and looking for justice.
Over the Waves
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 31,680. Language: English. Published: October 14, 2013 by Rafter Five Press. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / Europe
In the summer of 1914, Joel Peterson goes with his mother on a visit back to Sweden. Joel wants to prove to his father he is old enough to make big decisions. He enjoys meeting his grandparents in Sweden and making friends with a girl named Kari. But lazy summer days end abruptly when World War I breaks out and finding passage home becomes a dangerous challenge.
The Secret Santa Suit
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,960. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2013 by Rafter Five Press. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Holidays & Celebrations / Christmas & Advent
(5.00 from 1 review)
When a magical Santa suit turns up at Megan’s house, it challenges all she ever believed and didn’t believe about Santa.
A Promise Made
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 41,420. Language: English. Published: April 18, 2012 by Rafter Five Press. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Western & American frontier, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
In 1884 Silver Plume, Colorado is the end of the line and the beginning of a new life for sixteen-year-old Petra. After fleeing her abusive stepfather, she must learn how to fend for herself, keep her promises and confront her worst fears.