“To hope is normal, to expect is naïve”—wise advice that Rosemary Mild’s psychoanalyst father taught her, and which she too often ignores.
Rosemary is an award-winning writer of personal essays that have appeared in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Chess Life, Generations, and elsewhere. As a retired editor, she’s a long-time member of the Society of Professional Journalists and was a Silver Owl (twenty-five-year member) of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Rosemary grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from Smith College. In 2013, she and Larry moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where they cherish time with their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. When not dreaming up outrageous ideas for her essays, she and Larry stalk villains and solve crimes as coauthors of more than a dozen mystery and suspense novels and story collections. They’re members of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime (Larry’s a Mister), and Hawaii Fiction Writers.
About twenty-five years ago, after leaving my career as an editor (which I started at Harper’s Magazine in New York). My second husband, Larry, and I lived in Severna Park, Maryland, a bedroom community between Baltimore and Annapolis. I had a chance to write four articles on “Artists of the Chesapeake,” for the Baltimore Sun. Then I felt inspired to write essays about my own life: Playing Barbie Dolls with our little granddaughters. My run-in with a bank because I accepted a new credit card just to get a free T-shirt at a baseball game. I published a bunch of those in Washington Woman and Washington Parent.
What is your book about?
My essays reflect my quirky, sharp, often laugh-out-loud view of life, like taking the wrong cart at the grocery store. My senior “decade.” Auditioning to become a contestant on Jeopardy! Medical mishaps pushing Larry in his wheelchair. The risks of a grandma’s bragging rights. I also encompass the opposite spectrum, poignant and appreciative, including our son-in-law in the Honolulu Marathon and delivering Meals on Wheels.
In “Life with Larry” I tell how, on our first date, he asked me to write a novel with him—even though neither of us had ever written a word of fiction. I have another chapter on our writing murder mysteries together. And haven’t killed each other yet!
The last chapter is the most heart-rending, about our twenty-year-old daughter Miriam Luby Wolfe. We lost her in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. She was a superb writer. I end the book with her inspiring words, beautiful advice we can all use.
What was your inspiration for it?
My mother was a professional writer. She wrote feature stories for The Milwaukee Journal, Parents Magazine, American Home, Colliers, and elsewhere. She was my role model.
Who is your target audience?
Adult women probably. When I wrote the back-of-the-book copy, I gave it to our two granddaughters here in Honolulu for their opinions. I said that my essays were a combination of Nora Ephron and Erma Bombeck. Our granddaughters, ages twenty-two and thirty-two, had never heard of either one. I deleted the reference, even though in some ways they still influence me.
What type of challenges did you face while writing this book?
Trying to weave my own personal writing in between coauthoring fiction with Larry. It’s tough on both of us. Larry is extremely focused. When we have a new book we’re working on, it’s hard for him to sit back and wait until I finish a nonfiction project. It’s hard on me, too. Mystery and suspense novels require tremendous concentration—intricate clues; fleshed-out characters; convincing, logical solutions.
I’ve also taken infinite amounts of time to write three memoirs: Miriam’s Gift; Miriam’s World—and Mine; and Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with My Mother.
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
I hope readers will agree with the Readers’ Favorite review. “A wonderful heartwarming collection of stories that you instantly resonate with. I could not put this book down. Rosemary takes us on such a rollercoaster of emotions, from laughter to tears and everything in between. A highly recommended read.”
Did your book require a lot of research?
Yes. My “Close Encounters…” with famous people sent me to research on what made them famous. My essays on “Renoir and Raphael”; “Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl”, etc. But I also included threads of research throughout, such as the number of participants in the 2013 Honolulu Marathon; and facts about Jazzercise, my amazing exercise program that satisfies my desire to be a Rockette.
What was your publishing process like?
Our original self-publisher was not respected in the industry. If I had done my homework I would have learned that the company had the reputation of publishing the telephone book if you submitted it. For Boston Scream Pie we did have a reputable commercial publisher, but, sadly, we submitted it at the time the business was falling apart. Of course, we had no way of knowing that.
We’re our own “indie” publisher now, under the imprint Magic Island Literary Works. For printing, we use Lightning Source, Inc. in Tennessee (owned by Ingram). We submit every book already formatted. Larry does the formatting using Lightning Source’s InDesign. He's a retired engineer, so he's excellent at using their program, which is all in code! (I could never do it.) We like LSI’s printing quality. We have a friend who’s an excellent proofreader; she proofs all our final drafts for us.
What is your advice for aspiring authors?
1. Don’t be intimidated, first drafts are never perfect anyway.
2. Fear of the blank page is something to be skirted. Don't give up, go on to the next scene, and come back later.
3. Write about what you are comfortable with.
4. Develop clear mental images of your central characters.
5. Become more aware of people and places. Carry a notebook with you and jot down observations. Tune into both the unusual and the commonplace.
6. Take a community college writing class. Maybe also join a critique group.
7. Subscribe to The Writer or Writer’s Digest. (Either print or online.)
What has writing taught you?
Writing is like my right arm; it comes naturally to me. But there‘s no end to the learning process. My favorite authors are always teaching me something. Some are superb at descriptions. Others specialize in clever plotting. No matter how zealously I work on a project, no matter how satisfied I am with it, I always feel afterward, Well, maybe I could’ve said that in a slightly more vivid way.