Secrets, Truths, and Lies (Mary Strand)

This month, I’m supposed to blog about the SECRETS of my writing/publishing life, even though on Facebook I pretend that my life is an open book.

1. My life is not an open book. Not even remotely.  J

2. This shouldn’t be a secret, but authors are DESPERATE for reviews. (I am one of them.) Amazon reviews help the most, but BookBub and Goodreads and anywhere else your little heart is willing to post a review is great. A short, quick, and honest review is totally fine: you don’t need to gush and give me 5 stars if my book wasn’t (in your opinion) the greatest thing since Hugh Jackman. Amazon and BookBub are primarily fixated on the NUMBER of reviews a book has, and authors can’t get any traction without reviews.

Hugh Jackman loves this blog, I'm quite sure.

 3. For the record, my books ARE the greatest thing since Hugh Jackman.

Chris Hemsworth may also be the greatest thing since Hugh Jackman. I try to be flexible.

4. Actual writing time includes staring out windows, at cobwebs (unfortunately), and (if I’m writing in public, like at Sebastian Joe’s in Minneapolis) at people. I pretend I’m not staring at them, but I am.  I’m also listening to them.  Their conversations sometimes wind up on Facebook or in my books.

5. Everything I see or hear, and all the people I know, might wind up in my books.  No one ever recognizes themselves, though, so I can write pretty much anything.  People THINK they recognize themselves in my books if the character in question is the coolest thing since, well, Hugh Jackman.  They are almost always wrong.  Two different women (including my mother-in-law) absolutely KNEW that the utterly epic matriarch of a family I wrote about was really them. It was, in fact, a tribute to someone else.

6. None of my characters are based on a single person, so quit speculating already. They’re a composite of all the people I know, thrown into a blender in my mind and poured out as a character.

7. Item 6 isn’t completely true. One horrid character in a book I wrote was based pretty entirely on someone I know who’s awful. In the first several drafts, I killed her off in a fiery car crash.  I was advised that killing her off was too easy, so I instead left her with significant injuries from a fiery car crash.

8. Almost every author dreams of doing what I did in item 7.  But I dislike very few people on this planet, so I’m guessing that item 7 will remain my one and done.

9. I hope (a) you’re still reading this and (b) you’ll consider writing a review of one of my books. (Pretty please with sugar on top.)  If you break down and write a review (you ADORABLE person, you!!), the first book in a series is often the most helpful to an author.  For me, that would be Pride,Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras, because I would love to offer it as a “deal” with BookBub, but BookBub cares nothing for me if I don’t have enough reviews.  Yes, that’s a link to the book’s Amazon page.  I am clever (and desperate, yet charming) that way.

10. Writing is solitary, and that’s okay for a lot of writers because most are introverts.  But I’m a huge extrovert, and it is HARD.  So I do everything possible to get out and about with other human beings.  Even one day that’s entirely alone is difficult for me.

11. Major knee issues kept me from writing new stuff for the last year, because I didn’t feel funny enough to write funny stuff, and I write funny stuff.  So I spent much of that time either in considerable pain or working on revisions to existing manuscripts or playing guitar or writing songs, the last of which is something I discovered I could do even with painful knees.  Today, for the first time since June 2018, I wrote new words (on a book, not this blog post).

12. Tomorrow, when this blog post is actually published (as opposed to today, when it’s being written), I’m headed to Sebastian Joe’s.  To write.


Mary Strand is the author of Pride, Prejudice, and Push-Up Bras and three other novels in the Bennet Sisters YA series. You can find out more about her at


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