Mary Feliz: Making a Memorable Entrance

News Flash: Celia Fowler is Mary’s winner. Celia, please check your email, and congratulations!

Edith here, enjoying summer north of Boston! I’m happy to welcome friend Mary FelizFELIZ BLOG #1 Disorderly Conduct (4) to the Wickeds today. Her latest book in the Maggie McDonald Mysteries just came out. I love this series about a professional organizer and can’t wait to read Disorderly Conduct. Here’s the blurb:

Professional organizer Maggie McDonald balances a fastidious career with friends, family, and a spunky Golden Retriever. But add a fiery murder mystery to the mix, and Maggie wonders if she’s found a mess even she can’t tidy up . . .

With a devastating wildfire spreading to Silicon Valley, Maggie preps her family for evacuation. The heat rises when firefighters discover a dead body belonging to the husband of Maggie’s best friend Tess Olmos. Tess becomes the prime suspect in what’s shaping up to become a double murder case. Determined to set the record straight, Maggie sorts through clues in an investigation more dangerous than the flames approaching her home. When her own loved ones are threatened, can she catch the meticulous killer before everything falls apart?

Mary will give a paper copy of Disorderly Conduct to one US commenter, and if you’re selected and are outside the United States, she’ll send a download for the e-reader of your choice!

Secondary Characters

Secondary characters nearly always threaten to take over a book, and a savvy writer  reins them in a bit to avoid overshadowing other important story elements.

But no two side-kicks have been harder to stifle than Tess and Patrick Olmos, who play a big role in my Maggie McDonald mystery series, particularly in the recently released Disorderly Conduct. While their backstory isn’t included in any of the books, I wanted to share it here, with the Wickeds who share some of the couple’s madcap, over-the-top originality.

Tess and Patrick’s unique relationship began the day Patrick ran his car off the road, into Tess’s family’s living room, and into her heart. With a flair for the dramatic herself, Tess was immediately charmed by the poise with which Patrick handled his entrance. His first words upon exiting his vehicle were, in order, Sorry, Ta Da!, and “Would you like to go to prom with me? I have insurance.” When she glanced at the car and found his dog behind the wheel, Tess asked who’d been driving. Patrick took responsibility. Even at sixteen, he was too much of a man to lay blame on his innocent retriever.

Golden Retriever Puppy Driving Car

Tess didn’t immediately agree to the prom invitation, but Patrick kept her laughing while they helped her building contractor father shore up the roof and nail plywood over the hole where the front window had been. Her father insisted Patrick cough up his deductible before the dance. Patrick’s family grounded him until he meet his increased insurance premiums and replace the car’s tires and brakes.

By the time the teen had paid off his debts, the couple decided to forgo the prom in favor of a more frugal day at the beach followed by dinner grabbed from an artisan food truck. Ten of their friends joined them, wisely betting that Tess and Patrick’s lively company would prove more fun than a stuffy urban hotel ballroom.

Years later, contemplating marriage, Tess insisted that their home be animal friendly, with a pet-free dressing room in which she could exchange her normal Uggs and sweatpants wardrobe for her sharp black and red fashionista work wardrobe. Patrick, on the other hand, was careless in his everyday appearance, but wanted all his possessions stowed with naval precision. The couple struggled through this arrangement for several months before realizing they’d be happier and stay married longer if they created separate domiciles, each with room for the other.

Tess is at home in Patrick’s ship-shape and austere urban loft near the transit hub where he catches the train for San Francisco. Patrick is a frequent visitor at her suburban ranch across the street from the school attended by their son Teddy, who moves seamlessly from one home to the other. It wasn’t until he was in third grade that he realized his family set up was atypical. At first, though his parents had never contemplated divorce, Teddy feared their living arrangement meant their partnership was on the rocks. As Tess explained when comforting her son, “We’re odd. You’re just going to have to face that. But we love each other and you very much. That’s the most important thing in any family.”

Outwardly, Tess and her best friend (my main character, professional organizer and declutterer Maggie McDonald) are polar opposites, but they share a belief in the importance of love, family, justice and friends. They invite you to join them in all their Orchard View adventures including Address to Die For (A Kirkus Best Book of 2017), Scheduled to Death, Dead Storage, and Disorderly Conduct (released July 10, 2018) Additional books are planned.

Readers: In Disorderly Conduct, Maggie and her family are packing to flee a wild-fire. What kinds of natural disasters plague your area? Are there any that scare you so much you’d choose not to live in an area where those conditions were likely to occur? Have you had any close calls? Remember, Mary is giving away a copy of the book to one commenter!

FELIZ BLOG #1 Author HeadshotMary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Address to Die For, the first book in the series, was named a Best Book of 2017 by Kirkus Reviews. All of her books have spent time on the Amazon best seller list.

49 thoughts on “Mary Feliz: Making a Memorable Entrance

  1. I live in North Texas — we have tornadoes and severe thunderstorms with hail. Tornados are scary because their path is so unpredictable. The ultimate scary natural disaster to me is an earthquake. I don’t think I could live where they are common.

    • Hi Christi! I’ve lived in tornado country (Illinois) and earthquake country. The nice thing about earthquakes is that you have to be prepared all the time–bookcases and large appliances strapped to the wall, earthquake kit in the car, etc.–because you never know when they will hit. There’s none of the anticipatory searching the sky and worrying that comes with tornados. And most earthquakes are tiny–mother nature letting off steam to avoid a disastrous temper tantrum. In some sense, though, it’s odd that we refer to “tornado country” and “earthquake country.” My mother lives in CT, which no one would place in either category, yet her home has been plagued by both!

  2. Where I live now we have tornado warnings every year. I have lived here 20 years though and have only been basement bound twice!
    Years ago, when living in Florida, I was packing to leave for Germany hours before a hurricane hit! I had to leave a friend in charge to make sure everything got on the moving truck, as the airlines had moved my flight up to leave before the hurricane!
    Thank you for the chance to win your book.

    • My family moved to Illinois in the middle of summer from years spent on the East Coast. All we knew about tornados we’d learned from watching The Wizard of Oz. We didn’t know the difference between a warning and a watch. At the first hint of tornado weather we all trudged down to the basement and spent the rest of the afternoon there playing board games and reading. It was cool in the basement, and a great family bonding experience, but way over the top when it came to safety. Later, we children learned that we should head home when we heard the alarms and be ready to descend the basement stairs, but we could otherwise go about our at-home chores. Only once did a tornado come close. I’ve come closer to being in hurricanes though. They terrify me!

    • I love a snow day! But have only been in blizzards a few times. Once, in college in Western Massachusetts, they paid everyone who could wield a shovel to help dig the college out. We had a blast. The winter weather that scares me most is ice storms. Pretty, but treacherous!

  3. What a fun post, Mary! I grew up in southern California and lived an hour from the Sylmar earthquake epicenter. Earthquakes were just part of life. Here in northeast MA blizzards and power loss are the worst threat, but it doesn’t prevent me from living here.

  4. Welcome to the blog, Mary! Thanks for telling us about the backstory. I love how it sets up the series.
    When I first started.writing I included all.the backstory. Then I’d edit it out, but understood that I needed to know it.
    Huge congratulations on the new release!

    • I always start thinking about a new book by thinking about the characters. The better I know them, the easier it is to write their story. Once I know them inside and out, the better they are able to “help” move the story along. (In a sense, they write the story themselves, but that makes me sound decidedly looney!)

    • Those are so scary, Liz! I’ve never lived anywhere that was a huge worry, but the spot I live now is prone to flooding on the road when a combination of tides, sand bars, storms, and moon phases create the required conditions. The water rises with the speed of a flash flood, but is a tad more predictable. It’s the fall and winter sport of the residents, though — keeping track of the water level. We lay in extra food and supplies, know whose truck can get someone to the hospital if necessary, and wait it out. I like the community feeling it engenders.

    • Yikes! One year, when we’d had nearly 40 days and 40 nights of rain and everyone was bonkers as a result, my son’s teacher promised the kids that if they watched Singing in the Rain quietly at lunchtime and held themselves together the rest of the week, she’d teach them to tap dance in the rain on Friday afternoon. True to her promise, she donned tap shoes and had the whole gang out in the wet and puddles. (She’d informed the parents ahead of time and the kids who stayed for after school care had a change of clothing.) She created a lasting memory and bond in all the kids.

  5. Welcome back, Mary. I love this bit of backstory.

    When my son went off to UCLA at eighteen, I was terrified he wouldn’t know what to do in an earthquake and gave him lectures about not hanging heavy stuff over his bunk. Here in New England our natural disasters are blizzards and nor’easters with resulting power outages and the very rare hurricane that makes it all the way up the coast.

    • I take it your son survived both your worry and the dangers? Watching the kids head off to college can be so nerve wracking, no matter what the area’s natural disasters are! Sometimes, I think the most important tool for parenting young adults is duct tape — applied across the mouth of the anxious parent!

  6. I have all of this series and enjoyed it. I know what of the danger of fire. Living in the the West coast. If you are smart you have a plan for fire. We have had fires already this year.

    • I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed the books, BettyLouise! My nephew’s school burnt down last year in the Santa Rosa fires, and several friends lost their houses. Every time they smell smoke, they panic. It will take some time for the terror to wear off!

  7. I live in tornado alley and have a deathly fear of them. Not growing up with them it was hard to adjust (especially when my husband likes to stand outside to see if he can see them). I can live with blizzards and floods. Not sure that I would like earthquakes or wildfires but we also have small occurrences of those. Your series sounds great and I will be buying these for my library! Thank you for sharing with us!

    • Thanks so much Paula! I hope you have a cozy basement to hide in when the weather gets scary. And I know how you feel about your husband. We were visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Maine one year when a thunderstorm kicked up. My three-year-old had never once experienced rain because he’d been born at the start of a California drought. Once the rain began, all my early training about thunderstorms vanished, and we stood outside in the rain until my terror-filled sister-in-law scurried us back inside.

  8. Right now, we are dealing with the effects of the Lake Christine Fire in Basalt and El Jebel, Colorado — about 12 miles up the road and really too close for comfort. So far, it has burned over 6,000 acres and is just 49 percent contained. Unfortunately, all of Colorado is like a big tinderbox right now because of the drought. It was very scary seeing the sky glowing orange even from this distance and also not being able to see the mountains because of all of the smoke. I know we are safe right now because of the extremely valiant efforts of the firefighters working day and night to contain the fire.

  9. Looking forward to the latest installment in this great series! Let’s see, am I more terrified of fire or earthquake? The former, maybe. We had one in the hills behind the cul de sac up the street from us last summer and to see the flames shooting sky-high was petrifying. We were lucky. It was a windless night and the fire department knocked it down in two hours. I got wet from the water-dropping helicopters. That’s how close they were.

    Being this is CA, I have two boxes of valuables in the den by the front door, ready to go. But when a fire actually came dangerously close, what did I do? Back up the doc I was writing on a flash drive!

  10. Hmm, I actually think there aren’t that many natural disasters where I live (Las Vegas). We get street flooding when it rains heavily and there are the typical earthquake risks, but I feel there’s not as much to worry about here as in most areas. Our biggest worry right now is the air conditioner dying!

  11. I live in Florida. Living through hurricanes isn’t fun, but I guess it’s not the worst type of disaster. Personally, I didn’t have a lot of damage. Stayed a couple days in a public shelter. Had to live for a week in sweltering heat without electricity. Had to drive 10 miles to get bottled water when our supply ran out, which is where we also got military rations, as well. The only personal hygiene was via baby wipes. I learned to store a lot more water and nonperishable food since that first time. There were two more after that. Actually, I think fires, twisters,, and volcano eruptions must be worse.

    • Of course, the flip side of any disaster is the sense of community that erupts as people look out for one another. I wish it didn’t take a disaster to bring those thoughts and actions to the fore.

  12. I’m on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which means hurricanes are a perennial threat. The worst year was about six years ago when a tornado touched down a tenth of a mile from me in May, we had a minor earthquake in August, followed four days later by a hurricane (the only one I evacuated for and going to Baltimore turned out to be worse than trying to ride it out in the trailer!).

  13. I love Maggie and this series and enjoyed learning more about Tess and Patrick. We have tornadoes here, but science has come a long way and we generally have ample warning.

  14. We have blizzards and ice storms here, and I always hate hearing the wind fearing that trees will come down on the house or car or knock the power out. I used to work for the Bureau of Forestry, Division of Forest Fire Protection. Our people send crews out of state to fight fires, and some co-workers go to physically fight the fires or provide back-up. I didn’t watch that movie about the fire in Arizona because we were getting e-mails and videos at the time. I thought that was emotional enough.

  15. I live in the Midwest and we have tornadoes and straight line winds. They are both equally destructive. I remember seeing a tornado when it hit about two miles from the house and it looked like matchsticks flying through the air. I wouldn’t want to live where there are hurricanes or earthquakes. I guess growing up with tornadoes at least we know what weather to look out for and we usually get severe weather warnings ahead of time.

  16. Thanks so much for visiting, Mary! Living in New England is not really fraught with too many crisis incidents. Our dangers are more of the slow-moving variety. Cabin fever and the potential damage it poses to relationships is about the worst of it here!

  17. Southern CA is home to fires, even more so than the earthquakes that scare everyone. My brother lost his home in the fires in Santa Rosa in northern CA last October, so the fires we had down here in December were especially frightening to me.

  18. Dear Mary, Two disasters that are weather related come to mind. The first was an earthquake, the first I’d experienced while nursing my third child in the hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. The second was one of many tornadoes that have passed through or touched down in or near neighborhoods where I’ve lived. It does sound like a train barreling through when the tornado is doing it’s damage along with the air and sky being eerie. For one, my husband at the time went to a neighbor’s and using a chainsaw helped him clear the driveway, so he could go to work. My sister lives in Florida and pulls down the hurricane shutters when the season happens. Luckily, for the last one, she had flown out of town the day before, so other than losing electricity and a few bushes, they were unscathed. Another time, a hurricane came through Florida and they lost part of their roof. Shingles were so precious, that the shingles were thrown on the roof, so they wouldn’t disappear (be stolen) before the roofers could come. Blue tarps dotted the roofs in the neighborhood until the roofers could get to them weeks later. Alyson Widen amwiden@aol.com

  19. Two disasters that are weather related come to mind. The first was an earthquake, the first I’d experienced while nursing my third child in the hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. The second was one of many tornadoes that have passed through or touched down in or near neighborhoods where I’ve lived. It does sound like a train barreling through when the tornado is doing it’s damage along with the air and sky being eerie. For one, my husband at the time went to a neighbor’s and using a chainsaw helped him clear the driveway, so he could go to work. My sister lives in Florida and pulls down the hurricane shutters when the season happens. Luckily, for the last one, she had flown out of town the day before, so other than losing electricity and a few bushes, they were unscathed. Another time, a hurricane came through Florida and they lost part of their roof. Shingles were so precious, that the shingles were thrown on the roof, so they wouldn’t disappear (be stolen) before the roofers could come. Blue tarps dotted the roofs in the neighborhood until the roofers could get to them weeks later.

  20. I grew up in Missouri (St Louis County) then later moved to Springfield area. Being on the tornado belt, we always had to take care to listen to sirens. Have been in basement when minor damage of tornado blew by. Later in life I move south to Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Always watched Hurricane Center as you never knew when the next hurricane was on it’s way. Have been in a couple that were to the west of us and stayed during a few that were Category 3. Now I live in Texas (central/west) so now we have to worry about dry, hot weather for dust storms or wildfires. Been through a couple dust storms. I don’t know if I could stay someplace where there wasn’t a constant worry of natural disasters. I would probably die of boredom! lol

  21. Having been a professional organizer at one time, I really appreciate these books. And I love the non-traditional arrangement of Tess and Patrick as I have several friends who don’t fit the mold either. I would love to win this book.

    • As to natural disasters… I live where there really aren’t any regular ones tho’ we did have a tornado go through our back yard a couple of years ago. Eek!

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