Wisdom from a Wordsmith — Episode 11

MaryJo Dawson

I met MaryJo Dawson on goodreads.com when she messaged me about A Misplaced Beauty. She was willing to give my novel a try even though historical romance wasn’t her go-to genre! We began corresponding via Goodreads and then through email.

I admire those who create mysteries. It takes an imaginative and analytical mind to create a crime, clues, victims, red herrings, and suspects that are believable, yet not already done by another author. I hope to tackle a mystery novel at some point — my mother-in-law Gloria is eager, and I have already told her that my first mystery novel will be dedicated to her — in honor of all the mystery novels and shows we have shared and discussed! However — coming up with a unique plotline for a mystery is not easy!

MaryJo has a whole series of mysteries which are solved by her character, Sally Nimitz, a nurse turned amateur detective. If you love shows like Columbo, Piorot, and Murder She Wrote, you will enjoy MaryJo’s mysteries. Read more about MaryJo in the following interview.

Tell me a little about your life. 

I grew up near a very small village in Wisconsin, the oldest of 6 children.

It was a healthy childhood environment with loving parents, a large extended family, strong family values, a solid Christian background, and tons of good memories. Then it was on to a year of college, nursing school, marriage, and children. Life took me from one end of the country to another and twice overseas to Asia. It hardly needs to be said all of those experiences and the people I met became a part of who I am today.

These past years I’ve been fortunate to travel to Europe, enjoy a wonderful grandson, and without regret end my rewarding career as a professional nurse.

As with everyone, there have been disappointments, loss, joy, victory.

For the past 11 years, I’ve lived the quiet life with my husband at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in southern Colorado.

What led you to want to become an author?

Oddly enough, I never yearned to be an author! It sort of happened. Have you ever met a writer who didn’t always love to write? I loved to write letters as a girl and never minded the writing reports assigned in English or History class. There was a short story for extra credit as a high school history project…

I kept some journals and wrote short stories as therapy and healing during hard times.

After decades of being a voracious reader and loving the mysteries of Christie, Sayers, and Marsh, I simply sat down one day and decided to write one of my own. That story eventually evolved into The Death of Amelia Marsh. When I sent the story to a few select people for their personal enjoyment, they urged me to look for a publisher.

Which of your novels is your favorite and why?

All of my published books are in my female sleuth mystery series, Sally Nimitz mysteries. There are 8 of them, and they are all my babies.

What advice do you have for those aspiring to become authors?

My advice to rookie authors? First of all, edit, edit, and edit again. It was some of the first advice given to me, and it was right on. Second, be open to advice and criticism. It is wonderful to receive accolades, but they don’t teach you anything. Last, take an honest look at what you write and decide if you have the talent for it. Anyone can write for their own pleasure, just as anyone can sing or dance or paint. But are they good at it?

I know my limitations. John Steinbeck I am not. But I can write a fun story well enough for people to ask me, “When will there be another?”

MaryJo’s advice is so important! Writers could have some marvelous ideas — life-changing and earth-shaking ideas, but poor writing and errors will hide the value of what a writer has to offer to others. Like she says, aspiring authors need to be willing to listen to advice and grow — and even take a hard look at whether or not writing is truly one of their gifts.

To find out more about MaryJo, check out her blog at https://upbeatbooktalk.blogspot.com/

And, if you are ready to meet Sally Nimitz and find out what happened to poor Amelia Marsh, head over to Amazon using the link below!

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