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Interview with Cozy Mystery Author Marissa Shrock and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am pleased to bring you Marissa Shrock. As the mother of a middle schooler, I have to say that I’m impressed by Melissa’s ability to participate in NaNoWriMo (write a novel in a month) during the school year, because I know how hard middle school teachers have to work! Melissa is giving away an ebook copy of her book Deadly Harvest. Read on to see how you can enter to win!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’ve survived sixteen years of teaching middle school language arts, and I spend my vacations writing novels. When I’m not teaching or writing, I enjoy baking, building elaborate LEGO creations, playing golf, and traveling. I live in Indiana where I’m surrounded by corn and soybean fields.

Tell us about your current release. My latest project is the Georgia Rae Winston Mystery Series, which consists of Deadly Harvest, Deadly Holiday, and the soon-to-be-released Deadly Heritage.

Georgia Rae Winston is a farmer who is looking for love but has never met the right guy. When she finds a body near her field during harvest, she meets the handsome Detective Cal Perkins, and he’s an intriguing possibility. Georgia solves mysteries with the help of her friends and navigates her love life in the small farming community of Wildcat Springs, Indiana.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? My debut novel, The First Principle, was a traditionally published young adult dystopian novel. At the time, I knew very little about indie publishing and never considered that route. All of my training had been to achieve traditional publishing status, so when I found an agent and publisher very quickly, I thought my path was set. However, when the publisher opted not to buy the sequels to my first novel, I wanted to tell the rest of the story, so I indie published two more books and a companion novella. When I changed genres to cozy mysteries, I decided to indie publish them because I like the freedom and flexibility that choice offers.

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? My plots and characters develop as I write. This means I have to do a great deal of rewriting, and for each book I have a file of about 10,000 to 20,000 words that I’ve cut before I reach the final draft. For my next book, I’m going to try planning a bit more to see if I can become more efficient.

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? Yes, I aim for about 55,000 to 60,000 words in each of my mysteries. My first drafts always run short, but by the time I’m done editing, the stories are consistent in length.

Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? I’m not sure about most of my novels, but I started Deadly Heritage as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2017. Every November, writers challenge themselves to write a 50,000-word novel in a month, and that year I decided to try.

It was 3:00 on November 1, and I was sitting alone in my classroom after school because I was waiting to take students to a spelling competition at 4:30. I wanted to achieve my word count for the day, which, in order for me to write a novel in 30 days, was about 1,700 words. I managed to meet my goal, but I did end up cutting that opening scene during the revision stage.

Do you talk out plot lines with others, and if so, who? I do talk out plot lines, but not until I’m finished with a presentable draft. At that point, my mom reads the story, and we talk about parts of the story that were unclear. Then, I fix those spots before I pass it on to another reader or my editor.

How hard is it to come up with names for your characters? What are some of the sources you use? I don’t find naming characters difficult, but sometimes it takes a few tries to get a name right. Thank goodness for the find and replace feature in Microsoft Word! For names that I want to ring true for a certain time period, I use the Social Security website and look at the list of popular names by decade. This source was helpful when I wrote my mystery series set in modern-day Indiana. When I wrote my dystopian series, I found helpful because that website has a lot of unusual names that seem as if they might belong in a futuristic society.

How old were you when you wrote your first book? Recently, my friend shared a picture of a book that we collaborated on in sixth grade. She wrote the story, and I drew the pictures, so apparently, I started my career as an illustrator! The first book I remember writing was for my children’s literature class in college when I wrote the picture book, Chloe Loves to Read.

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An Interview with Author Marissa Shrock

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I am so pleased to introduce you to Marissa Shrock. I have a 17-year-old daughter who inhales books -she cannot read fast enough and is the type of reader who carries an extra book with her when she gets down to the last third of the book she’s currently reading — “just in case” she finishes her book before she can get home and needs something else to read. I LOVE the sound of Marissa’s book and will definitely be buying it for my daughter. Read on and see what I’m talking about!

 Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a seventh grade language arts teacher, and I enjoy working with middle school students. That’s part of the reason I wanted to write for them. The First Principle is my debut novel. When I’m not teaching or writing, I like reading, singing, shopping, and playing golf.

Marissa Shrock HeadshotTell us about your current release. My young adult novel, The First Principle takes place in the futuristic United Regions of North America. Sixteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins never questions her country’s pregnancy termination law for underage girls until she becomes pregnant. She must comply with the law or fight to save her unborn child. But fighting means Vivica has to abandon her mother, a powerful governor, and side with the Emancipation Warriors, a rebel organization that’s determined to start a revolution.

Whats the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? (ie. Moon Walk, Watergate)   I remember the Challenger exploding in 1986. I was five years old and have memories of seeing the footage replayed on TV.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush?  Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) on Full House. I grew up in the T.G.I.F. era of TV.

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write?  While I start with some big ideas about plot and characters, most of the details develop for me while I write. Sometimes it takes several drafts for me to get it right, but discovering the story as I write works the best for me personally.

FirstPrinciple (663x1024)Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book?  Yes and no. For YA, the novel should be at least 60,000 words. However, if it took more than 60,000 words to tell the story, I wouldn’t cut it down unless there were unnecessary words and storylines. I spoke with an editor recently who was looking for YA novels closer to 80,000 words. I’d say do whatever it takes to tell the story well.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?  Take advice from people who are further along the path than you, but don’t compare yourself to them. Each writer’s journey is unique. Find God’s will for your life and stick to it.

What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.)  I prefer to write on the computer. During the editing process I will print a draft and make corrections on paper. It helps me spot mistakes I might miss on the screen.

Who do you envision your typical reader to be?   I’ve named her Growing-Faith Grace. She’s fourteen years old, attends church and/or youth group, reads secular YA novels, and is interested in reading about characters who experience challenges in their Christian faith.

You can find Marissa at her  Website , and on Facebook  and  Twitter

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