This book caught my attention on NetGalley and when I was contacted to do organize a Great Escapes Book Tour I was chair dancing. Then I “met” Mary via emails and we just clicked. This is one of the reasons I love being a blogger. Meeting authors that write these wonderful stories is just wonderful. I am thrilled she is my guest today!!
I didn’t start writing until I reached my sixties. I had an unusual life and wanted to tell my story for my children and grandchildren. So I took memoir writing classes at the UCLA Extension Writers Program. For four years I recorded my memories over and over again in an attempt to hone the craft of writing.
After all that time, my life’s story began to sound like a self-indulgent whine fest. So I took a break and, since I loved reading mysteries, enrolled in a mystery writing workshop. To my great surprise I discovered writing fiction was fun. To my even greater surprise I discovered I could write humorous fiction, a welcome contrast to the heavy drama of my memoir.
When I first retired I spent a number of years sewing quilts by hand while listening to books on tape. The art of quilt making and storytelling became my universe. My quilts even got good enough to win a couple of awards. So when I turned my creative efforts to writing mysteries instead of listening to them, it felt natural to make my characters quilters. These were people I knew.
I also chose to set my stories in Encino, California, the suburb of Los Angeles where I live. Encino is familiar and I and feel comfortable here. When I write about the sidewalks broken by tree roots, the falafel restaurants and strip malls on Ventura Boulevard, readers who live here will know just what I’m talking about. Readers who live outside the area will get a picture of Valley living.
My main character, Martha Rose, is Jewish. So aside from the recurring quilting theme of my stories, I also write about Judaism. Much of Martha’s thoughts and behavior are informed by her background and heritage. I know I always enjoy reading books set in cultures that are unfamiliar to me. I hope my readers who are not Jewish will also enjoy learning about different customs and practices.
Martha is overweight. She struggles with a love of food, an aversion to cooking, and a history of failure when it comes to dieting. As a consequence she has what she calls a “typical Jewish figure,” an ample bosom and large hips. But at the age of fifty-five, she’s rather philosophical about the whole weight thing. Better to enjoy a slice of her friend Birdie’s applesauce cake now and worry about the calories later.
Martha is also divorced and living in an empty nest. Her only family is her daughter who lives in Boston, and her elderly uncle Isaac. Although she has serious trust issues and she’s not actively looking for anyone, men seem to come into her life just the same.
Social inequalities seem to pop up as recurrent themes in my books. So many people have common experiences with abuse and injustice whether it takes the form of racism, sexism, ageism, financial or social class. I spotlight these problems in my stories as a way to advocate for those who endure these struggles on a daily basis.
Writing cozy mysteries has been a way for me to draw on my life’s experiences without all the angst that went into writing my memoir. I believe it’s never too late to tell a story, whether it is real, fictionalized, or pure imagination. And having a debut novel at the age of seventy has been an extraordinary confirmation of that.
About Mary Marks
Born and raised in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, Mary Marks earned a B.A. in Anthropology from UCLA and an M.A. in Public Administration from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. In 2004 she enrolled in the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Her first novel, Forget Me Knot, was a finalist in a national writing competition in 2011.
Find out more on Mary’s webpage here.
Forget Me Knot
(A Quilting Mystery)
A Brand New Cozy Series
Published by Kensington (January 7, 2014)
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
E-Book File Size: 1254 KB
Welcome to San Fernando Valley, California, where Martha Rose and her coterie of quilters are enjoying life on the good side of retirement—until murder pulls a stitch out of their plans…
Martha and her besties Lucy and Birdie are set to expand their Quilty Tuesdays by inviting newcomer Claire Terry into their group. Though at forty Claire’s a tad younger than their average age, her crafty reputation could perk up their patchwork proceedings, especially as they prepare for the fancy quilt show coming to town. But when they arrive at Claire’s home and find her dead inside the front door, and her exquisite, prize-winning quilts soon missing, Martha is not one to leave a mystery unraveled. Especially if she wants to stop a killer from establishing a deadly pattern…
Before my accident I was a avid quilter and it is one of the things I miss most but reading books like this let me escape back into the world of quilting with the mystery of a dead body thrown in just for fun. I would love to be part of Martha, Lucy and Birdie’s Quilty Tuesday group.
I can’t believe this is the author’s first cozy, she has nailed it perfectly.
Fabulous, real characters. I love Martha. I can relate because I am 50ish, overweight, love food, hate to cook and a horrible failure when it comes to dieting. She also has great friends, loves to quilt and likes to solve mysteries. But she does put herself in danger and does break a few laws which even land her behind bars. Something I have thankfully not experienced 🙂
Marks also tackles some powerful issues in this story. There is a mystery behind the mystery that just broke my heart. I was impressed how this subplot was presented and revealed. As a quilter I know that many quilts tell a story but after reading Forget Me Knot I will never look at a quilt the same way again.
This is a perfectly plotted and paced story with some very surprising twists that have stuck with me well beyond the final page.
A wonderful way to start 2014!!
Thanks to the people at Kensington I have 5 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.
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something you like here and become a follower.
Followers Will Receive 2 Bonus Entries For Each Way They Follow.
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Leave a comment for Mary for 5 Bonus Entries !
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5 Bonus Entries For Each Link.
Contest Will End January 22, 2014 at 11:59 PM CST
Winner Will Be Chosen By Random.org
Winner Will Be Notified By Email
and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.
January 6 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – Review – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 7 – Books-n-Kisses – Review – Giveaway
January 8 – Escape With Dollycas – Review – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 10– Community Bookstop – Review – Giveaway
January 10 – Dru’s Book Musings – Guest Post
January 11– Dr. Pepper Diva – Review – Giveaway
January 12– A Blue Million Books – Interview – Giveaway
January 13 – rantin’ ravin’ and reading – Review – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 14 – My Recent Favorite books – Review – Giveaway
January 15 – Thoughts in Progress – Review – Giveaway
January 16 – Mochas, Mysteries and More – Guest Post – Giveaway
January 17 – My Devotional Thoughts – Review – Giveaway
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”