helaine mario

Random Thoughts

One of my favorite quotes about writing...
Stephen King said, "An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say, 'Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.'" I love this, and believe it. Having just begun my 4th book, another Maggie sequel, the opening line is on my mind. As of now, it is: "Finally, it was dusk." So hoping it will invite the reader in, asking to know more. Why 'finally?' Why dusk, that shadowy time when edges blur? Come in here... Thank you, Stephen.

Some words of wisdom...
For all of you creative souls out there—and there are so many of you—here are Alec Baldwin's soul-lifting words from his Emmy speech: "...when you die, you don't remember the bill congress passed, a decision by the supreme court, an address by a president. You remember a song, a line from a movie, a play, a book, a painting, a poem. What we do is important." So for all you writers, musicians, artists, actors, teachers, architects, crooners... yes. What we do is important. And bright. And good.

Why I do this...
Today I got my 100th amazon review of my novel, The Lost Concerto, a huge milestone for me. So grateful it was 5 stars and a good review, ta da! (as my daughter said after attending my last book club talk, with HUGE disbelief and shock: "Mom, you have FANS!"—a reminder that I'm still that girl from Queens...)

A huge thank you to everyone for their kind words and wishes re Lost Concerto's 1st place Royal Palm Literary Award for Suspense. This honor has reminded me of why I got into this crazy business. Not for the years of hard work, the reviews or the tears. Not for the royalties (very small for an unknown name). Not even for that moment of transcendent joy when the scene is so right it makes you cry. I write for the memory of the young girl from Queens, NY, who rose at dawn every morning to sit in her grandmother's old blue rocker and get totally lost in a book. Now I can give this same gift of magic to other book lovers who want nothing more than to 'fall into' a good story. Doing what you love matters.

Every once in a while, if you are very lucky, you will be surprised by a totally unexpected moment that touches a deep chord within you. As a writer, this happened to me this week when I received a hand-written letter from a woman in Evanston, Illinois I've never met, weeks after she finished my book, The Lost Concerto. She wrote: "I think about (your story) all the time. Wonderful piece of work. It comes to mind over pieces of music on my commute, over faces of strangers I see and think they resemble Maggie or Beckett. The characters stuck with me, as did the suspense and storytelling as I turned each page..." For me, this is a beautiful reminder of why I love doing what I do. Telling stories that make people feel.

A skylight above the bed...
I have decided that a skylight above the bed is a beautiful thing. Jet-lagged and wide awake, I look up at the Amsterdam night sky. Distant stars flicker, scudding clouds, the sudden bright flare of sheet lightning. Light & dark, light & dark. Home feels very far away. Then I begin to think about all the people I love, and the ones who love me. The places I have been, and places still unseen. The times I did some good, and the moments I will regret forever. The story for my next book. Light & dark. Now it is only 5 hours until the sky turns pink. A skylight above the bed is a beautiful thing.

My favorite quote on reading books—ever!
"I opened a book and in I strode. Now nobody can find me. I've left my chair, my house, my road,my town and my world behind me. I'm wearing the cloak, I've slipped on the ring, I've swallowed the magic potion. I've fought with a dragon, dined with a king and dived in a bottomless ocean. I opened a book and made some friends. I shared their tears and laughter and followed their road with its bumps and bends to the happily ever after. I finished my book and out I came. The cloak can no longer hide me. My chair and my house are just the same, but I have a book inside me." —Julia Donaldson