Local Authors Collaborate to Write Thriller
by Mary Ellen Stepanich
I wrote the following article, published in the Peoria Today newspaper, about my writer group’s upcoming book launch party on December 2, 2017. (Marketing a book is SO much work!)
What happens when women writers gather together for dinner once a month? For seven local residents, it was a published book – eventually.
In 2012, seven women formed Scribblettes, a writers’ feedback and critique group, to share story ideas and improve their individual writing skills. Five years and 50 chapters later, the group produced a novel, North of the Border, a modern Romeo-and-Juliet tale of intrigue with international terrorists, sinister drug gangs, and dedicated law enforcement heroes.
The most difficult part? Meshing individually written chapters into an organized and believable story line, given the diverse personalities, career backgrounds, and life experiences of the authors. They published the book, available on Amazon, under the author name L. S. McFan, an anagram of the writers’ surname initials.
Lester worked for a variety of moving companies under the motto, “Across the street and around the world, we meet your needs.” A sought-after freelance editor, she provided the group with guidance on grammar and sentence structure.
Stepanich, a retired Purdue professor of organizational behavior, confesses: “I’m very organized but my behavior is a bit wonky.” Her job was to keep the group and the manuscript focused. She has published two books: a memoir, D is for Dysfunctional and Doo-Wop, and The Doo-Wops and the B-Flat Murder, a Lilac Crazy Quartet novel, with a sequel in the works.
Mounsey, a former educator who also has an art degree, is a poet who observes people in every setting, hoping to find the perfect character for her next poem. She has published three poetry books, including Living in the Shadows, Amanda’s Journal 1927-1948. Her current project is a memoir, A Place of Ghosts and Memories.
Cushing worked for the FAA and retired as a program manager and contracting officer. Married to an Army officer, she had traveled the world and lived in romantic settings in France, Thailand, and across the U.S. Cushing contributed many of the provocative and detailed romance sequences.
Feyrer is a registered nurse who still works as a caregiver. She has published a children’s book, Hard Town, a whimsical story of overcoming prejudicial beliefs. She was the group’s analytical thinker, questioning how a character could know that something had happened when he or she wasn’t present.
Alandar, a retired administrative manager with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and an investigator with the state Racing Department, has written and published Behind the Starting Gate, in memory of her best friend and their shared love of horses. Her passion for horses and dogs was helpful for working both into North of the Border.
Norris, a retired police officer, provided the law enforcement background to lend credibility to the novel. The Scribblettes helped her to develop her writing style so as to avoid sounding like a police report. She’s currently writing about her adventures as an HOA board member.
Usually, a writer builds a story from the inside out – in other words, the author knows the theme or heart of the story and then builds around it. However, these seven women created North of the Border when one author wrote a first chapter and six others expanded it, a chapter at a time, into a thriller set in the Sonoran border area between Mexico and Arizona.
The women will talk about their group writing experiences and read portions of their novel at a book launch on Saturday, December 2, 1 p.m. at Ventana Lakes Landings Lounge, 20245 N. 106th Avenue, Peoria, AZ 85345. Light refreshments will be served. (You’all come, now – ya hear?!)
Dr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior. She told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior’s a bit wonky.” Her publications include academic journal articles; stories in Good Old Days magazine; a memoir, D is for Dysfunctional … and Doo-Wop; a novel, The Doo-Wops and the B-Flat Murder; and an award-winning radio play, Voices From the Front. Mary Ellen blogs on her website at MaryEllenStepanich.com, and can be reached via e-mail at DrStep@cox.net.