Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas!

 A Christmas Tree Story
by Mary Flinn

Abigail Sprinkle is one of my favorite students. I know that as a teacher, we’re not supposed to have favorites, but I do sometimes. Besides, she’s one of those eight-year-olds who make you think you are talking to an adult. As usual, I saw her on a Friday. It was the last Friday I planned to see her, as she’d fixed her R sounds and would be leaving speech therapy after just a few months of practicing. And as usual, our conversational practice centered on what we’d be doing over the weekend. She was planning to decorate her Christmas tree. I smiled. I mentioned that I’d be going to the mountains for mine this weekend, as part of my thirtieth anniversary trip with my husband.

Part of our trip would include a book signing at the Banner Elk Winery on Saturday. I’d written a trilogy of novels about a girl who lives in my fictitious mountain community I call “Snowy Ridge” and whose family runs a Christmas tree farm. I didn’t tell Abigail that since my husband had been without a job for a few months that I’d saved our cancer screening refund check to use for dinner at the Gamekeeper, one of our favorite restaurants in Boone. We’d planned to use some Hilton Honors points to stay one night at the Hampton Inn. Mike had earned plenty of points over the last thirty years he’d traveled. To some, our trip might not have sounded like much of a thirtieth anniversary celebration, but it was a welcome getaway for us, and all we could swing for the time being. We were excited nonetheless.

I pulled myself out of my thoughts and realized then that Abigail was describing the choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm where she, her mother, and grandfather had been to cut theirs. She couldn’t remember the name, but “It’s in Boone,” she said. “It’s a family business. We go there every year. The people are so nice and they have a daughter named Abby, so they always remember me. When you cut down your tree, they write your initials on the trunks of the trees, so they’ll remember whose tree is whose, but they let me write my whole name. They have three different sizes, and they have white tags and green tags and yellow tags, depending on the size tree you want.”

“Oh, it sounds so nice. I wish you could remember the name of the farm,” I said. “Maybe I’ll call your mom and ask her.”

The rest of the day got away from me and I forgot to call Abigail’s mother. Mike and I left early the next morning to head up the mountain toward Boone, on our way to Banner Elk for the book signing. As we drove past the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance, more and more choose-and-cut signs appeared with the cheerful red and green writing, making me wonder what would be the likelihood of ever finding Abigail’s farm. I told Mike the story, as we marked different ones we might check out on our way back home the next day.

The book signing was profitable and fun, as we met several couples who were celebrating birthdays and taking a special time out to do a wine tasting and relax before the holidays, like we were. We ran into one of the couples at the Gamekeeper later. While we waited for our table in the bar, we met a nice couple from Greensboro, who knew our daughter’s boyfriend’s family. The woman wanted to support a local author who writes about Snowy Ridge and bought a whole set of books. Mike went to the car to get them for her. Dinner was fabulous, as we’d come to expect, and the dimly lit rustic little place was decorated with grapevines strung with white lights and large ornaments hanging from the exposed beams in the ceiling. The hostess had decorated our table with confetti in the shape of a heart.

On Sunday, as we were driving down the mountain, we tried to remember the tree farms we’d seen. There were so many, we couldn’t go wrong. Suddenly Mike and I both spotted a sign at the same time; Snowy Ridge, next left, it read. “Snowy Ridge!” I said, grabbing his arm. “Oh, we have to go!” Mike laughed, knowing how the details of my stories sometimes have a way of making their way into our real lives.

“Snowy Ridge it is, then,” he said, and he turned off the highway and took us up the twisty road toward the farm. After several minutes we reached the top of the ridge and turned into the lane that wound around past a house where we came to a beautiful overlook and parked the car. We were the only ones there. It was cold and still as we looked around for some sign of life. The mountains stretched across the clear blue sky in front of us, where rows and rows of Christmas trees descended down the hill. Looking at the view to the right of us, the New River snaked its way through the property below, between a few houses and pastures.

“Do you think they’re open?” I asked, when a friendly voice called down from the house we’d passed.

“Hey y’all!” said a woman, waving and walking toward us, dressed in a pair of jeans, a sweat shirt, and a ragged faded pink baseball cap.

“Hey!” we greeted her in return.

“You haven’t been here before have you? I’m Judy,” she grinned, stretching out her hand for us to shake. We introduced ourselves and I explained about the books and how the name, Snowy Ridge struck us as we were coming down the mountain. Judy asked what the books were about and told us she loved to read, so we agreed to barter; she’d knock the price of a book off the cost of the tree we chose.

“What size tree do you want?” she asked.

“A nine-footer,” said Mike and she gestured down the hill.

“Well, you’ll want to go down a ways and turn to the left. There are some nice ones with white tags. We’ve got white tags and green tags and yellow tags, but you’ll want one with a white tag.”

Chills ran down my arm and I glanced at Mike. “Wait! Do you have a daughter named Abby?” I asked Judy.

“No, but I’ve got a granddaughter named Abby.”

“Do you know a little girl named Abigail from Greensboro who was up here last weekend?”

“Yes! She was up here with her mother and her grandfather. He’d just turned eighty-two! I remember them. They come every year.”

“And she writes her whole name on the tree?”


“She told me about your place but couldn’t remember the name of it. I forgot to ask her mom, and here, we drove right to it. Out of all the farms up here, we managed to find her farm!” We were all grinning by now, and shaking our heads.

“Then it was meant to be!” said Judy.

After searching through so many perfect trees, we found our tree, and then Judy and Nancy found us after a little hollering back and forth. Nancy held back the bottom branches out of the way with a pole while Judy buzzed it down with her chainsaw. The perfect tree landed with a soft thunk on the ground. Mitch came over and dragged the tree to the flatbed as we talked about how serendipitous it was that we’d found Abigail’s Christmas tree farm out of all the places we could have gone. The sun shone and a soft wind blew our hair as we all gazed out over the mountain to the river, wondering. We talked about books, and stories, and how things seem to happen for a reason. And how from here on out, we will return to Snowy Ridge each year to find our perfect Christmas tree.

And we did.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Forever Man book launch event

Join my family and me as we launch A Forever Man, the fourth book in the series, beginning with The One. Our celebration will be held on Tuesday, November 20th from 6-9 at Bistro 150 in the Oak Ridge Commons at the corner of highway 150 @ 68 in Oak Ridge, NC. Autographed copies will be available for $20. Stay and dine with Randy and Vicky at one of Oak Ridge's fine eateries!

If you miss the party and would like to get a copy for the holidays, come to the St. Francis Day School Holiday Market on Saturday, December 1 from 10-4 at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 3506 Lawndale Dr. in Greensboro, NC. Do some holiday shopping and treat yourself or that reader on your list to a book for some down time over the holidays.

If you miss both events, shop my website without leaving the house! www.TheOneNovel.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sneak Peek into A Forever Man

Coming in November, 2012

A Forever Man, by Mary Flinn

He had awakened, jarred by the dream, shuddering in a sweat and unsure whether it were real. Seconds ago, they were making love on a beach, the tide washing warm over their legs. He had been lost in her. Of course, she was so different, awakening new, explosive sensations within him. It would have been the perfect dream, except for one harsh reality; the woman in the dream was not his wife.

There are friends and there are lovers; sometimes the line between is thinly drawn.

As they approach their tenth wedding anniversary, Kyle and Chelsea Davis have it all; the perfect marriage, charming eight-year-old twin boys, and successful careers. Life couldn’t be better for either of them.

Enter Elise Masters, a former model, now single mother, who joins Mountaineer Builders as the firm’s new interior designer. With eyes like his favorite river, and a spellbinding personality to match, Kyle is soon swept under, despite his attempts to stay in control.

A Forever Man takes a deep plunge into marriage and love, exploring the fine line between love and friendship. Can Kyle befriend Elise, and maintain a professional relationship with her, while staying true to the woman he loves? Told alternatively from Kyle and Chelsea’s perspectives, this poignant love story takes all three characters to the brink of understanding infidelity and its consequences.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On Fifty Shades of Grey...and Contractual Agreements

All right. I don't in any way think that E. L. James needs my help in selling or promoting her books, but I feel compelled to consider the implications that are ominous in the making of the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey. And yes, there is no question whether there will be a movie or three, as the case may be, but who will be cast and what the rating will be? So much passionate discussion has been provoked not only from her trilogy of books already, but the movie itself. I'm under the impression that despite the fan-made movie trailers, the movie does not have a screenplay yet, nor a cast of characters. That's not to say that fans haven't taken these matters into their own hands, and have put together a convincing display of fantasy movie trailers to tease each other into an Anatasia-like frenzy.

The frenzy brings several points of interest to mind: Why is there such a debate among women in particular, about whether to read or not to read this book?  What is the film to be rated? and What will the actors agree to do and not to do in this movie, ironically implying the need for a contractual agreement much similar to the one Christian Grey expects the naive Anastasia to sign in Fifty Shades of Grey.

As for the debate among women, I think one premise holds true: you can't debate the contents if you haven't read it. I've heard many discussions condemning this book as "Mommy Porn" by people who haven't read it. True, the explicit sexuality involved makes it so interesting as to be unable to put it down until the wee hours of the morning, but there is more to the story than just the sex, if you can navigate yourself around the elephant in the room to see further into the characters. The character of Anastasia has been criticized as a young, naive woman who, as a virgin, is taken advantage of by Christian Grey. After all, who wants to be tied up and pounded upon in such a way? Well, she does. She actually enjoys being his submissive, and as he points out, the submissive is the one with all the power. Still, Grey obviously has found more than he's bargained for in the young Ana. She is far from the submissive he thought, but she does indeed wield the power over him, her strong-willed nature leaving him out of control and often times at a loss, needing to punish her, which she also enjoys!

A second part of the criticism of Ana, is that after realizing she has fallen in love with Christian, she does what we all do: tries to change him. In fact, Ana does not try to change him. She does love him, but she takes a different tack than most women; she doesn't seek to change him, only to understand him, which leads him to understand himself, and therefore he effects his own change. What woman wouldn't love that? What woman who reads this book wouldn't be proud of the strength of character Anastasia displays despite her young age and lack of experience? All sexual exploits aside, she depicts the kind of woman who is true to herself and what she believes, and shows humility, kindness, and selflessness in her relationships with all of the other characters with whom she is involved. She just happens to meet the most intriguing, beguiling, and smokingly hot billionaire, Christian Grey. Oh well. Such is life in a fantasy, but she does herself proud in the end. And so does he. What's not to love about Christian Grey?

So, the next question is: What are the movie moguls going to do with this film? How far can they go, or not go, and still capture the essence of this tale and create a mainstream movie in the process? This will indubitably be one of the most unprecedented films of our time because of all the attention it is already garnering. And what will the actors agree or disagree to do? Their movie contracts will most likely mirror the same details as the one Christian offers to Anastasia in the first book. No doubt the actors cast in these parts will be rocketed to instant stardom, but at what cost? The artists' challenge is thrown like a gauntlet.

Never before in my lifetime have I heard such a debate among women about such an explicit topic, but it is because there is more to the story than many people want to acknowledge. Good for E. L. James for writing her first book, her first love story, and her first phenomenon. After all, that is all she meant to do, write a love story. And a very good one it is!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Rider's Blog...Not to be confused with Writer's Block!

In addition to working on my fourth novel this summer, I have rediscovered another of my summer hobbies, cycling. As I watch the cyclists battle each day for stage wins and eventually the whole enchilada in the Tour de France, I am convinced that cycling is the most grueling sport ever! I know this first-hand, as I've graduated from riding a 70s model Trek to a Santana road tandem that Mike and I were inspired to buy after touring parts of Germany on one four years ago, and finally I've landed-sometimes- on the seat of my newly acquired ladies' specific Giant Avail. I have named her Lipstick. She is red, and the romance author in me thought this name would be apropos, but don't let her name fool you for one minute! She is as wicked a little minx as I've ever ridden! After my first three rides, a better name for her would certainly have been Bloody Mary. In comparison, the Trek was kinda like driving a pick-up truck, while the road tandem was more like driving an 18-wheeler, and regardless of what my husband says, I did pedal. You have to. Both riders use the same chain ring so if he's pedaling, then I am too. We rode the Tour to Tanglewood which is 50 miles a day for two days, so I was somewhat seasoned once upon a time. Of course, sitting on the back of the tandem, one doesn't have to make decisions, negotiate traffic, or even change the gears. Sightseeing, along with pedaling, was one of the pleasures I had that he didn't. "Oh, honey, did you see that beautiful hydrangea?" or "Look at that adorable little bungalow on your left." or "Did you see that precious little jack rabbit over at the edge of the woods?" The Avail, on the other hand, is so responsive it is like driving a sports car, or so I would imagine. There is no time to observe the beauty of nature for which you ride to behold.

So now, on Lipstick, I have had to readjust my whole psyche, not only with how to change gears again, but honing my attentional skills, so that I can manage to stay upright while groping around for my water bottle, avoiding cracks or bumps that could send me flying over the handlebars at any given moment, which brings me to the part about cycling that I had blocked out while happily touring around on the back of the tandem: TERROR! Once the terror returns, the self-assured person that got on the bike in the morning is reduced to a quivering pool of nerves in just two hours. Never have I realized while driving my car how many cracks, bumps, potholes and roots of large trees that grow under the roadways as there are when on the bike. The secure feeling of wearing a seat belt is nada, no where, and one quickly realizes how easily one could be impaled upon the passing lovely brick wall of someones front yard, if the following motorist happens to be texting, or blinded by a slanting ray of morning or afternoon sun...or putting on lipstick. Speed is another thing that I used to enjoy, but which now terrifies me at my age, as I'm flying down a hill on tires less than the width of my thumb at 22 miles per hour. This is nothing for Cadel Evans, who is probably cruising along at 45 mph on a flat somewhere in Belgium at the moment! He is probably admiring some old castle, or flower gardens. I feel so cheated! My cheeks begin to flap, going any faster than 22, and since I'm too old to see as clearly as I'd like, who knows when I'm going to glide over a root that will send me sprawling on my ass! Which, by the way, hasn't decreased in size, even after over 100 miles in the saddle.

Oh, and speaking of asses, there are the saddle sores! In additon to the required helmets cyclists must wear, we wear chamois pads in our shorts, which is similar to wearing a jumbo-sized, industrial strength maxi-pad sewn in, with the softest imaginable fabric rubbing, well, you know where. But it still takes several rides to break in your seat. At some point during the ride, it all goes numb anyway, so you don't have to worry about it for long.The guys have great names for this phenomenon, which I'll share because I don't have these body parts. Still, you get the idea of what Numb Nuts and No Noodle mean, and they are not insults, but a range of pain ratings that are produced when you sit for long periods on a bicycle saddle. For a woman, this kind of pain can be equally as uncomfortable and I'm sure there are names other than Fanny on Fire that I've come up with that describe what I'm talking about! Saddle sores are real things and should be avoided at all costs. There's even a product called "Chammy Butt-r" that helps. Don't cha love it?

The other thing I've learned is, make sure your quick release cleat pedals are quick enough. It's very embarrassing, not to mention, dangerous to have to stop suddenly and, unable to get your foot out of the pedals, you fall over as inertia sets in instantaneously. I have scabs and scars to show the effects of that particular malfunction, not to mention the terror that is so intense it produces nausea when you realize you could have been killed, lying in the street like that. Incidentally, I avoid streets as much as possible, and stick to parks and green ways for your safety as well as my own!  We have adjusted my pedals; however, it will be a while before I consider myself road-worthy on this thing.

So, I'm getting used to my new ride. I have stepped up my mental game as well as my physical coordination and endurance to make life with Lipstick the joy it should be...and to not be the hazard I could be to the many innocent motorists out there. Please remember this tale when you see a cyclist on the road. You never know what could happen. It could be me, so steer really wide for your own protection! And all kidding aside, sadly, with all the tragic reports of experienced cyclists losing their lives while out riding on the road with drivers that aren't aware they are there, please, share the road!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer 2012
School's out for the summer! As I wrap up one more year as a speech pathologist in the NC public schools, I'm grateful to have a job, and even more grateful to have the summertime to afford me the time to pursue my writing. Forever Man, the fourth book in the Kyle and Chelsea series is eight chapters in the process, and they have been calling me to get busy with the rest of their story! I'll also be spending time on Saturdays throughout the summer participating in book festivals and other events, where I hope to meet more readers and talk about what we all love, reading good books! I'm glad to announce that copies of The One, Second Time's a Charm, and Three Gifts can now be purchased at the Barnes and Noble stores in Greensboro and High Point, NC! The Friendly Center store in Greensboro will be hosting a book signing on Thursday, July 26th at 7 pm. Please come out and help make a crowd for me, so they will keep my books on the shelves! Here below is the updated summer schedule of events:

June 16 from 10-3: Mount Airy Book Festival at the Mount Airy Public Library on Rockford St.
July 4 from 10-5: Fourth of July Celebration at the Banner Elk Elementary School
July 7 from 10-5: Meet the Authors at Crafts in the Meadow, Meadows of Dan, VA
July 26 at 7 pm: Barnes and Noble, Friendly Center, Greensboro, NC
August 3, 4: High Country Festival of the Book, Blowing Rock, NC
August 8 from 2-4 pm: Island Books, Duck, NC
August 9 from 11-2: Downtown Books, Manteo, NC
August 10 from 9-noon: Ducks Cottage, Duck, NC
September 8: Book Marks, Winston-Salem, NC

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flinn writes with true eloquence!

Flinn writes with true eloquence!,
March 28, 2012
jenniferedits - See
all my reviews

review is from: Three Gifts (Paperback) As a freelance editor,
I was lucky enough to meet Mary Flinn and was an instant fan! Her first book,The One: A
was an instant hit with believable, lovable characters to begin the
story of a small town couple, Chelsea and Kyle, and their coming of age story.
Time's a Charm
is the second book, following the same family, but focusing
on an older, more experienced couple, but a lovable, genuine couple nonetheless.
The third book,Three
is just that-a true gift to literature! No wonder this novel won the
Pacific Book Review Best Romance Novel of 2011 award, as well as a first place
finish for the 2011 Reader Views Reviewers' Choice Award. It is an authentic,
heartfelt story of a now grown up Kyle and Chelsea that we came to know in the
first novel, The One. Three Gifts is a rapid read, once you start turning the
pages, you quickly find yourself at the end and wanting the story to continue.
Truly, as you read this story, you feel as if you know the characters and
situations. I can only imagine the next chapter in the story of these beloved,
familiar characters that everyone can relate to in their own lives.As a
writer, Mary has continually perfected her skill in dialogue, character
development and the true art of storytelling in a believable voice. It is a joy
to pick up any of the three books and I can only hope that I get to read the
next masterpiece that she will release! The simple skill of writing believable
stories with recognizable characters is a true talent. Mary Flinn is not only a
skilled writer of eloquence, but an artist! I am a fan and I hope that anyone
reading this will be so moved as to read all three of her novels. You will be
amazed and quickly a fan of the characters in these familiar NC towns! These
books are full of genuine NC settings that will resonate with natives and those
who know the beauty of the mountains and the coast of NC. The characters will
make you feel as if you are part of their circle of friends, or you wish that
you were! These novels are a must read! Whether you are on vacation or just
wishing you were, it is definitely worth the time to get to know the cast of
characters and spend some time with this trilogy of books!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Awards for Three Gifts and Second Time's a Charm

Three Gifts and Second Time's a Charm receive Reader Views Book Awards 2011

I am honored and humbled to announce that Three Gifts placed first in the Romance Novel category in the Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and won Pacific Book Review’s Best Romance Novel of 2011. Second Time’s a Charm won an honorable mention in the Readers’ Choice Awards. Reader Views, a national Book Review Company based in Austin Texas, reviews primarily books from self-published authors like me. Additionally, Pacific Book Review is a professional book review company based in Nipomo, CA.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spring Happenings

The weather has been teasing us that spring is around the corner, and then the snow came! With spring comes book promotions, and I love the opportunity to meet my readers in person and talk about our friends--on paper, that is, Kyle and Chelsea, and Stacie and Tyson. A lot has been happening in their lives, as Forever Man is in the works as the fourth installment in the series. Here is the latest list of upcoming events:
Friday, March 2 from 6:30-8:00 Art Crawl in Boone--The Jones House artists reception
Saturday, March 17 from 2-4 pm Book Signing at Caribou Coffee, Friendly Center in Greensboro
Saturday, April 28 ASU Alpha Phi Moms' Day Celebration
Saturday, May 12 Summerfield Founders' Day Celebration
Saturday, June 2 from 2-4 Todd General Store, Todd, NC
I'll look forward to keeping up with my readers! Until we meet again, happy reading!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Something to Talk About

As I enter 2012, planning to kick my promotional strategies in gear for the New Year, I have to reflect on the joys of self-publishing, and also to request a favor of any of you who have read one of my books and liked it.

First of all, I could be wasting away, sending out queries and receiving rejection after rejection from one agent after another. I have spent some amount of time doing just that, so I know the drill. Some agents accept queries via email, affording them the luxury of rejecting an author in a nano-second, making me wonder if they even read the material at all. Others have very nice stationery cards they send, supposedly to soften the blow with a touch of elegance, as opposed to the traditional form letter. All of these approaches are accompanied by a generic statement that reads something like, "Your work is not what I'm looking for right now."

Instead of subjecting myself to this slow and tedious torture, I decided in 2010 to go it on my own and self-publish the manuscript of The One. Instead of dealing with more rejection, I was gratified to learn that many of you liked it, and liked it so much you wanted to know what happened next. Thus, Second Time's a Charm was born, and then Three Gifts had to follow for the same reasons. The act of self-publishing has allowed me to work at my own pace, free of pressure from a publisher who'd like me to write it their way, or would choose the cover without my input, or worse yet, deciding I wasn't worth the risk after all, and giving me the boot! The way I've chosen to proceed has kept my love of writing alive, and has allowed me to connect on a personal level with my readers, who I usually meet one on one, or in a conversation over the internet through this website. It makes me wonder if Johnny Appleseed felt this grateful every time he watched someone bite into a crisp, ripe red delicious! In all, it hasn't been a bad road. And I'm still waiting to meet that one person who can help me crack this thing wide open and take my book sales to the next level. Killing the time thinking of who to cast in the movies is not a bad way to wait out a red light!

So, as to the favor I'd like to ask, I'd like you to consider writing a review on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or on your favorite blog. Send a shout out to all your Facebook friends, or tweet away about these books. It doesn't matter how many bookstore shelves these copies occupy; if nobody knows about them, nobody buys them. I need to get people talking about these books. If you are in a book club, consider discussing one of these books. If you are a member of a women's group, or a boys' club that needs a good story about a young male role model, pick The One. My husband called it a handbook for the way a guy should treat a girl. So there you go! Maybe our boys should be reading this, even more so than our girls.

Thank you again for reading my books. Thank you for your support!