It’s Been A Long Time…

Mary RM editedIt’s been a very long time since my last post. I have no reason other than the usual one for many: a very full life outside of my writing life – along with some unexpected bumps in the road and a close family member’s ongoing recovery from a very difficult circumstance.

However, I am back, and I will strive to be more present here.

I have a backlog of recipes/cooking to offer up.

The Crimson Lady

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

I also have several interesting and quirky experiences to share, and some book talk too. I’m mulling ideas (and have begun a prequel novella to my medieval romance The Crimson Lady; The original novel follows Fiona Byrne in the years after she’d fled London and the notorious existence she’d had there. She’d been sold as a young woman into a life of sin, purchased by a powerful nobleman who is as depraved as he is handsome, and turned into England’s most desired courtesan: Giselle de Coeur, “The Crimson Lady”. The prequel is called “Becoming the Crimson Lady” and details just how she was transformed from a street urchin to the sought-after courtesan…and what led to her ultimate escape).

I have a few other ideas rolling around that are not tied to works I’ve already written, but we’ll see what transpires.

MooseTracks_CoverIn the meantime, my latest, “Fried Green Tomatoes of the Adirondacks style”, very loosely and semi-autobiographical novel Moose Tracks on the Road To Heaven is still available for only $3.99 in digital and $13.99 in trade-sized print.

I’m not reading too much lately, outside of material for work (endless papers, exams etc), but a title I’m reading a bit at a time, because it fascinates me, is Change the Story of Your Health: Using Shamanic and Jungian Techniques for Healing by Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD. Has anyone else read this book or something similar?

Lastly, the school year is finally wrapping up for 2017. This will mean more free time to write (and visit here!) but less than when I was building this site, due to some of those life circumstances I mentioned in the first paragraph. It will still be a change of schedule, and I am looking forward to embracing all that the summer has to offer, in my personal life, in the great beauty of nature, and in a bit of travel, writing, relaxation, and family time.

How about you? What are your plans for the next few months? I’d love to hear in the comments.

Thanks for visiting!

I’ve Started Writing A New Medieval…

Well, it’s a novella and not  full-length book.

But it’s in response to numerous reader requests over the years, related to the main characters of one of my medieval romances, originally published with HarperCollins/Avon and then released under my own imprint Teabury Books with a new cover and revised contents, once rights reverted.

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

Here’s the book that the novella will be based around.

Anyone want to guess what the story will be about? (Hint: because of the context of this story, and in order to be honest to the characters and circumstances, this novella will probably end up being a bit more “intense” than my usual romances – and it’s certainly not a romance in and of itself). 😉

It feels good to be writing again!

New Covers for the French Editions of My Templar Knights Trilogy!

11834885_876029062450367_2637383930381154010_oHere are the lovely new covers from my French Publisher, J’ai Lu, for their reprint of my Templar Knights Trilogy!

Book I (Beyond Temptation in English) was released in July, with Book II (Sinful Pleasures in English) coming later this month and Book III (The Templar’s Seduction in English) coming in early September.

These are my favorite covers for my trilogy in any language so far. 🙂 The style, the correct hair colors…even Book II, which is Alissende and Damien’s book, conveys perfectly the setting from the book’s Prologue. It’s set outside Montivilliers, on the coast of France near the English channel, with Alissende pacing and anguished at learning that her former lover, Damien, whose heart she had broken years earlier, is in the hands of the Inquisition – and wondering if he will ever even consider helping her thwart her corrupt cousin’s betrothal plot once she arranges for his rescue.

What do you think?

The Pang – and Danger – of Nostalgia

nostalgia-wallpapers_37124_2560x1920Although I have rarely been dissatisfied by the world at any age, I get this kind of pang a lot and perhaps more intensely because of it. In fact I tend to glorify the world of times gone by. Different things can trigger it: sometimes it’s an item I haven’t seen in a long time, or an old photo. It can be from my own childhood, or even from when my kids were little.

It can be triggered by something as simple and silly as seeing Christmas decorations or pictures well after the holiday is done and all the accoutrements are packed away (confession: this just happened to me again today – for like the 10th time since Christmas – when I saw a friend’s old posting on FB from Christmas-time).

For me, who has a tendency to relish the past, I have to exercise balance when and how I can.

For many years, I could indulge my love of the past in a purely historical sense, writing my heavily-researched but still highly-fictionalized medieval romances.

Then, when I started writing Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, I got to spend some significant time in MY past – a practice that was actually both painful but ultimately cathartic after my father died (I’d only written about 70 pages of the 420 page manuscript when he died).

Here’s a snippet from an actual letter Pa wrote to me years ago, that I ended up using in the later part of Moose Tracks. I like his philosophy and try to remember it as often as I can:

“What was it that Scarlett O’Hara said? Tomorrow is another day!? Here are some thoughts about that: You can re-live the past but you cannot re-live the future. We dumb humans (there is no other kind) get ourselves all screwed up with more than one time base. We are forced to live in the present with minutes and hours and days and years. Everything is pretty linear, and if we stayed in the present our lives would pass linearly.

When you are young, you have a little past, the present, and a lot of future. When you are middle-aged, you have a lot of past, the present, and a lot of future. When you get old, you have a real lot of past, the present, and a little future. Notice that the only thing that doesn’t change is the present.

When you are young, you waste time looking forward to the future. When you are middle-aged, you waste time looking both to the past and to the future. When you get old, you waste time looking to the past. The problem is you can look back more than once. There are some moments in my life from many years ago that I probably have spent hours re-living. But those hours were lost to my present, never to be given back to me. It’s up to me that any re-living of my past is worth the price of time in the present..

I’ve come to realize that you can only live now. Don’t get hung up on the past or wait for the future.

Living is only for now!

The more that can be true, then the longer you live. Think about it awhile.”

So when that pang of nostalgia hits, I try to follow this idea: to allow the pang its moment, and then remember that this moment, too, will someday be part of the past. I try to live it now and to its fullest and  not be too sad in missing what’s gone before.

How about you – do you struggle with nostalgia, or are you someone who loves to throw out the old to make way for the new?

“Food For The Muse”

books-and-musicThis blog post was inspired through a post written by fellow writer and blog-o-sphere comrade L. N. Holmes at her excellent blog A Vase of Wildflowers. You can check out her blog through the link of its title, or read the specific and wonderful blog post that inspired me here.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how important music is to my creativity, particularly in the crafting of characterization and the scenes I need to write to showcase some of the character issues and development I need to show.

Like many writers, listening to music is an integral part of my writing process. I almost always need music to brainstorm. I have to tease the Muse out, especially with the way my life is so cram-packed and highly disjointed with all the different hats I have to wear. I need a trigger to get me into the work as quickly as possible to maximize what little time I have to brainstorm and/or write.

You may have heard of authors who develop “playlists” for each book they write. I’m not so organized that I actually create a playlist, but I do have a group of songs that seems to serve as the background music for each book. It always sounds a little cheesy to me, though, when authors post their “playlists”, because what it means and how it triggers that author is not necessarily how those songs strike a particular reader.

basementIt makes me vaguely uncomfortable because writing in and of itself is such an intimate process, and using music as inspiration adds a layer to that, IMHO. To me, it’s akin to opening the basement door and inviting readers to mosey around in the stuff you’ve got hoarded down there…all your quirky, sometimes a little tarnished, or even embarrassing things you’ve collected that don’t mean much to anyone else but that give you that necessary jolt of emotion you need to write a particular mood, scene, or character. 🙂

So I’m only going to open mine a crack…but only because this song was unusual in the way it informed my Muse, as it didn’t just inspire a mood or character element for me. It actually caused an entire scene to bloom, full-formed, into my mind.

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

The Crimson Lady, originally released in 2003 and re-released in 2012

Such things don’t happen too often to me as a writer. The last time I can remember an entire anything springing into my mind from an outside source was when I was trying to come up with the basic plot/character in what ended up being my third published romance The Crimson Lady. Her character came to me like that, fully-formed. So much so that I could see her in my mind and hear her speaking. It happened after I watched a television program about third world prostitution (and no, that’s not what the book is about)…but that will have to be the topic of another post. 🙂

Copyright M. Reed McCall, Mary Reed McCall, novel, writing, writer, author, book, Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, preorderThis current one happened when I was nearing the end of writing Moose Tracks on the Road To Heaven. I hadn’t realized I needed it until it came to me. The scene begins on page 198 of the book, for those who might want to look it up, once it’s published in EIGHT DAYS!! ( it’s not a chapter, but a “past” scene dated April 15 1987). The song is “When a Heart Breaks” by Ben Rector. You can have a listen below, if you’re so inclined. It might give you an idea about the tone and mood of the scene, but I can’t give you too many details without giving a major spoiler for the book. 🙂

Anyway, it was a perfect scene for what I needed to convey, but had no idea how until that moment. I went home and wrote the entire scene in about an hour. Except for a few edits, what you see is how it came out of my subconscious mind…all thanks to the music that gave my Muse a shot of adrenaline.

Artist Interview: M. Reed McCall

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by fellow blogger L.N. Holmes. She asked some great questions that really made me think. We covered a lot of ground, from industry thoughts to how an award-winning medieval romance writer shifts over to mainstream contemporary fiction…and why the two genres are not all that different after all, to me. 🙂

A Vase of Wildflowers

M. Reed McCall, author, Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven, book, novel, ficiton, Mary Reed McCall, new book Copyright M. Reed McCall


(Please note that I am adding the addition of colored text. My questions will be in red and the artist’s answers will be in purple.)


L.N. Holmes: “Where is your hometown?”
M. Reed McCall: “I am originally from Rome, NY, which is about an hour east of Syracuse.”
L.N. Holmes: “What is your chosen artistic profession?”
M. Reed McCall: “I am a writer–although I am also a high school English teacher, which requires its own kind of artistry, and I have been working with students (numbered in the thousands by now) for the past 26 years.”

View original post 2,238 more words

On Coffee – and my latest book

coffee framed“As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.”

Honore de Balzac (1799-1859)

Oh, how I wish the last sentence of this was true for me. Well, it is some of the times, but not always. Usually, I pour myself a nice cup – like the picture above (I just got that cup this year, when visiting farther north, because of the moose on it…more on that in a minute). I bring it over to my desk. Sometimes, I take a sip, but often I’m waiting for it to cool a little. And then, if I’m writing, like I was this morning, I get so engrossed in what I’m doing that I forget all about the coffee and by the time I look up, it’s stone cold.

So, I guess in that way, de Balzac’s statement is true: I just don’t need the coffee actually in my stomach to make it happen. 🙂

So, I decided to purchase that moose cup because I liked it – and I use visual focal points as inspiration when I’m writing. Coffee cups hold a special place in my heart: when I was working toward publication the first time, way back in the 1990’s when traditional publishing houses were the only way to go, I had a coffee cup of the NYC skyline. I looked at it to set my goal and continually remind myself that I was honing my craft toward signing a contract with a major player in the industry. I did and ended up writing seven books with HarperCollins/Avon. But the publishing landscape has changed and broadened, thankfully, and now there are other wonderful opportunities as well.

But back to this cup;  it plays off the title of my upcoming general fiction/women’s fiction novel Moose Tracks on the Road to Heaven. I’ve just added a book description for it to my page of Contemporary books. You can read by clicking on the title above or the link here.  I’m still working on the release schedule, cover, etc. – but the manuscript is finished, being edited, and should be released into the world by next spring. Exciting times for me as a writer, as I haven’t had a brand new book out since 2007 (BTW, the three historical romance novels out there under the name “Mary McCall” are not by me but by a different writer altogether).

My new book is a complete departure from the medieval historical romance I wrote previously and it’s very personal, as it’s inspired by my own background and some personal events and people. There are still more historical novels in me, I’m sure, and I will likely be adding to my title list in both genres…but for now, I’m going to celebrate this book, which was more than five years in the writing! 🙂