Interview with ML (Mary) Coley

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in north central Oklahoma. It is flat country, wide open spaces full of wheat fields under a constantly blue sky. The wind blows - a lot.
I spent as much time as I could outside as a child. Video games hadn't been invented yet, and there wasn't all that much on TV for kids. My imagination went wild as a child; I was always 'imagining' something, usually that I lived on a horse ranch, and had a half dozen dogs. I climbed trees and wrote stories.
Would my life have turned out this way if I'd grown up anywhere else? Probably.
When did you first start writing?
I learned to read before first grade, and as soon as I was taught to print my letters - second grade? - I was writing stories. My first one, "Chippy the Squirrel" was highly praised by my teacher. That praise unleashed a flood of words that has continued to flow.
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Naked Ladies" is a collection of stories, written at various times over the past ten years and then compiled into one volume. This book is 'women's fiction' - and I've labeled it that way because the stories are all about women.
The scenario is that these relatives - at a retreat - are asked to share their darkest moment, their most embarrassing moment, or a moment that changed their life. The women range in age from teenagers to midlife. Women can relate to these stories. If we haven't experienced the same event, we know someone who has.
I hope the stories are fun for my readers.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Today's publishing world is changing rapidly. There are so many opportunities to publish outside of traditional publishers. This path seemed logical to me, as I want to share my work, not see it put on the back burner at a publishing house because I have yet to build a 'name.'
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I hope it will contribute! I am a new author.

Smashwords is such a great resource for authors - and also for readers. The possibility of finding a wonderful new author is huge.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy is getting lost in a story with my muse. My short stories are usually not plotted - they just go where they go. I love a satisfying ending, and am always amazed as I write through the story, that things come together for the main character in the end.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything! I hope that when people like my work they will let me know. I want to touch my readers, whether it's because I played on one of their heart strings, or because the story made them think about something new. A writer without readers has an audience of one - and that's just not enough. The sharing is everything.
What are you working on next?
Actually, I have a second volume of short stories that I am compiling. Many of these stories have been used on my 'nature' blog. Some aspect of nature plays a huge role in these stories, almost like another character. And some of them are mysteries. I love to write mysteries.
This book will appear on Smashwords later this month and is called Beneath a Wild Sky - Forest Cat and Other Stories.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love mystery writers. Some of my favorites are Nevada Barr, Marcia Muller, Louise Penny, Janet Evanovich and Nancy Pickard. I also love Dan Brown, Steve Berry, Dick Francis, Dean Koontz, Jonathan Kellerman and James Patterson.
I also love stories about family. My favorite authors of this type include Jodi Picoult and Barbara Kingsolver.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
There is so much to do! I am inspired because the sun comes up - and even on cloudy days I feel a restlessness until I am at the work of the day, which includes several hours at the computer, writing and researching.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have lots of hobbies. Of course I love to read. I also love to watch movies. Next favorite things include hiking and kayaking. Add traveling and exploring because of my love of history and archaeology, and my life is very busy.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I discover them by browsing on Smashwords and Amazon. Also - Goodreads provides great information.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes - Chippy the Squirrel in second grade. Chippy was losing track of his store of nuts.
What is your writing process?
It depends on what I'm writing. Short stories just flow. I do a lot of character analysis and plotting for mysteries, because that's the whole nature of that genre.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Don't really remember. And it may have been stories that were read to me by teachers at school as well. I loved "Heidi" and "The Black Stallion" and "The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew." Not to mention any of Jack London's books.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to look through my own photographs - I have taken a lot of nature photographs while traveling. If I don't actually use one of mine, I at least have an idea of something I might look for on stock photo sites.
Both of the photographs used for the covers of my short story collections, "Naked Ladies" and "Beneath a Wild Sky" are photos that I took.
The cover should bring up an emotion in the reader - and invite the reader inside the book.
Published 2013-08-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Beneath a Wild Sky - Forest Cat and Other Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 44,270. Language: English. Published: September 2, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Need a good shiver, a quick laugh, or a pull on the heartstrings? The eighteen thought-provoking short stories in this collection are sure to provide, featuring stories about people you may think you know, and places you may think you’ve been. Meet FBI agents and devious killers, good mothers and bad wives, in a forest or on a lake, in spring rain or summer sun, all Beneath a Wild Sky.
Naked Ladies - Secrets of the Heart
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 61,920. Language: English. Published: August 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
What is your darkest secret? Your most embarrassing moment? At a family retreat, ten female relatives are asked to tell those stories to each other in an effort to create stronger bonds. From beauty pageants to horrifying honeymoons, liars to sweet lovers, the stories run the gamut. Will telling these secrets really bring the ladies closer than the blood they already share?