I am a lifelong writer, and if you love to read books with a little, or a lot of murder mystery in them- plus feature female sleuths- you are in the right place!
Born and raised in Enid, Oklahoma, I spent as much time as possible in my early years playing in my back yard and throughout my neighborhood. Many children lived nearby and we rode our bikes to nearby parks or the Taft Elementary playground. I wrote my first story in the second grade, and my first 'book,' a spy novel, in the eighth grade while I was a student at Waller Junior High School.
For many years, I dabbled in writing, attending conferences and seminars, jotting down story starts and journaling. I worked as a feature writer with The Ponca City News and served a stint as the Public Relations Director at the local hospital before returning to OSU to earn a Master’s Degree. I was a charter member of OKAEE, the state affiliate of NAAEE, the North American Association for Environmental Education. My new expertise landed me a job as the Education and Outreach Director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. In that position, I trained volunteers statewide, wrote training materials, and edited the state's membership magazine and volunteer newsletters. I also attended some fantastic seminars in TNC preserves across the country, including West Palm Beach. I served as president and vice president of OKAEE, among other roles and attended some fantastic NAAEE conferences, including sessions in Portland, ME; Cancun, Mexico; Vancouver, Canada; Boston; Biloxi, MS; and Cincinnati.
Finally, I worked for the city of Tulsa as the coordinator of the water education for teachers program and then as a communications officer specializing in science and environmental issues for the mayor's office.
In 2009, my first nonfiction educational book for children, Environmentalism: How You Can Make a Difference, was published by Capstone Press. Meanwhile, I also did a lot of journaling, writing about nature, and crafting short stories, women's fiction, and mysteries.
In 2013, I self-published two short story anthologies, which are also available as eBooks through Smashwords. My first mystery, Cobwebs, was published by Wheatmark in November 2013, the second, Ant Dens, in November 2014, and the third, Beehives, in December 2015. My novel, The Ravine, was published by Wild Rose Press in May 2016.
In October 2017, my stand-alone mystery, Blood on the Cimarron, which I published through Create Space became available on Amazon and Kindle. In 2018, this book won the Hillerman Award, given by the New Mexico/Arizona book awards.
In 2018, the fourth book in the Family Secret Series, Chrysalis: A Race to Death, was published by Moonglow Books (my publishing company) and Create Space. This book was selected as a 2019 finalist in the suspense category of the Silver Falchion Awards, given by the Killer Nashville International Mystery Writer's conference.
In 2019, I published, Crystalline Crypt. A finalist in the Oklahoma Book Awards for 2020.
In May 2021, I published the sequel to Blood on the CImarron, another mystery featuring Claire Northcutt, a news reporter. The book, titled Blood on the Mother Road, takes place in Persimmon, OK, a fictional town near Tulsa on Route 66, where Claire detects a possible coverup, and becomes friends with a mysterious waitress, Rhonda at Tiny's Route 66 Diner.
GREAT NEWS! This book won the Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction, 2022. Coming Summer 2022 the story will be featured in a new Tulsa Escape Room and by Fall 2022, the book will be available through Audible as an audiobook. Watch my website and Facebook for more information about what's coming from Mary Coley.
Meanwhile, sign up for my mailing list and receive a free short story!
What's next? Read on!
My best writing time is mid-afternoon to evening. My mornings seem to get caught up with chores and answering emails. By afternoon, I'm ready to settle in and write some. Usually by then, I have a good idea of what scene I'd like to work on. I don't outline, but I have a good sense of the scene structure, and what needs to happen next (or maybe what was missing in the previous chapter!)
Writer's block for me just means that I need a little time to work through the plot. Sometimes taking a walk or a drive will make the answer to the dilemma clear.
Anything! Sometimes it's something I see as I'm driving somewhere. It could be something I read, or something someone says. It could be a memory, or a dream. Inspiration is everywhere!
I'm a native Oklahoman. I love to travel, but I also love to come home to my state. There's so much diversity in nature here - mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, rolling hills as well as the prairie/wheat country where I grew up. And there's a lot of history, a lot of adventures that took place here. I love to include the details of the weather, the seasons and the landscape in my books. I don't have to guess about those. I've lived them all my life!
This is a tough question. I began reading at age 5. I love all the classic children's stories, like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Black Beauty and The Call of the Wild. As a member of two book clubs in Tulsa, I'm broadening my reading away from mystery and nature and have found some great books. Here are just a few:
First comes a love of stories. Combine that with an imagination, a child who is often alone, and the availability of books (lots of books) and the result may very well be a future storyteller.
I learned to read in Kindergarten, and by the time I was in the second grade, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, including Readers Digest and National Geographic magazines. My father's extensive library was open to me, from Shakespeare and the Classics, to murder mystery and romance, tales of Tarzan and high sea adventures, Ian Fleming, Agatha Christie's female sleuths, Lovecraft and Poe. I wrote my first short stories in the second grade. The lifelong journey of being an author began decades ago. My passion and grit kept it alive allowing me to live it out now.
Writing takes a lot of work and a lot of tenacity. The literary world is full of writers who have spent decades perfecting the craft of writing - who suddenly become an overnight success. Do not delay. Get started and keep going.
Your writing is an insight into your soul. Share it with the world.
Here are my lessons learned: