Have a Marlis Day!

Archive for April 2015

A friend suggested the Ivy Malone mysteries by Lorena McCourtney. I enjoyed the feisty retired librarian/amateur sleuth, so I found the author on FaceBook and asked to be her friend. After a brief chat, this fan asked for an interview on my blog. Lorena agreed and I hope my friends will soon be engaged in Ivy Malone’s adventures.




  1. When did you start writing?
  2. Oh, my, this was so long ago! Way back in the dim, dark ages of time. I made my first “professional” sale when I was in high school, an article called “Dad Has Plans,” about my father’s desire to move to Alaska. It was published in a magazine called The Alaska Sportsman. Then in college, where I majored in Animal Husbandry, I wrote a few articles on agricultural subjects. Marriage and motherhood then intervened, but by the time I returned to writing I knew I wanted to write fiction. I then had some 250 children’s and teenage short stories published, plus another 150 of the old “confession” magazine stories. Then I went to book-length, mass-market romances, then to Christian romances, and finally to where I am now (which is where I really feel at home), writing Christian mysteries.  So I might say to anyone who is just now starting writing, it may take a while to find your niche!


  1. Did you pattern Ivy after someone?

I think every writer puts a part of herself in her characters. I didn’t actually pattern Ivy after anyone, but she probably has more of me in her than any of my other characters. Not that I’m as adventurous as Ivy is! Nor do I go around getting involved in murders. But Ivy and I are of the same generation, and her “invisibility” comes from my personal experience. Ivy has a “black thumb,” and mine is pretty black too. And, of course, we both have our strong Christian beliefs.


  1. How do you plan a new book?

Hmm. Good question. I think it would be easier, and perhaps take less time, if I planned more. But I just can’t get into the details until I’m into the writing. When I’m working with characters I already know, like Ivy, I mostly work with details of the plot – who got murdered, why, who did it, how Ivy solves the mystery. Although I’ve been known to change the killer halfway through a book! If I’m working with new characters I spend much more time thinking about personality traits and previous events that affected their lives.

  1. When & where do you get your best plot ideas?

Sometimes it seems as if plot ideas are everywhere; sometimes it seems as if my brain is a barren desert of ideas. They may come from anywhere: something I read, something that happens to someone I know, sometimes just a lot of “what-if”ing in my head.

  1. How much time do you spend with a book before submitting to editors?

I like to have a year to work on a book, but editors I’ve worked with usually set deadlines not more than 9 months apart. I’ve never submitted a manuscript to other readers before sending it to the editor.

  1. Any plans to retire?

Actually, I consider myself semi-retired right now. I’m not really retired, because I’m still writing and publishing. But I’m retired from what is generally being called “traditional publishing” now. Meaning I’m still writing, with the intention of publishing e-books myself, but I’ve retired from dealing with publishers now. Which does not mean I was unhappy with the publisher of my Ivy books, the Julesburg Mysteries, or the Cate Kinkaid files. My editor there was great. It simply means that various problems, mostly medical for both my husband and me, have made trying to stick to publisher deadlines just not possible now.

  1. Who do you read?

Well . . . I read most anything that looks interesting. Since I’ve been writing mysteries, I read more in that genre than I used to. I’ve never been fond of historicals, but occasionally I read one of them too (and surprise myself by enjoying it).

  1. If you ever tour the Midwest, will you stop and visit our book club in so. Indiana?

I never have done any touring, so I’m not likely to start now. But I’ll be glad to answer any questions your book club might have.

  1. What are you working on now?  (this is a question I added myself)

Right now I’m finishing up Book #5 in the Ivy Malone Mysteries, “Go, Ivy, Go!”, mostly just waiting for a cover before I can put it up on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

I’m also in the process of getting some of my other books, which were published in print only, formatted for availability as e-books. The one I most recently finished is “Your Chariot Awaits,” Book #1 of my Andi McConnell Mysteries, which is now available on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Andi has just been downsized from her job, dumped by her boyfriend, and is depressed about her upcoming 60th birthday. Good news! She inherits a sleek black limousine. Bad news: that dead body that soon turns up in the trunk.

Happy reading!

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Hi! I'm Marlis.

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