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Author Mary Blayney to sign books at Turn the Page on Saturday

July 10, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Blayney will be signing her newest book, One More Kiss, when she appears at the 18th anniversary celebration of Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 13. The multi-author book signing event will also include Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb, Laura Kaye, Kristan Higgins, Kathryn Osullivan, Deanna Raybourn, plus local history authors Claudia Floyd and Dennis Frye.
Jax Photography

BOONSBORO -- —  It’s the thrill of the chaste — strong-willed heroines pursued by handsome, chiseled men — that makes romance novels so popular among readers.

But as a 14-year-old, Mary Blayney had little interest in hearts and flowers. Instead, she set her sights on becoming a script writer for her favorite television show, “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”

“You will now know how old I am,” she joked. “Most of your readers have probably never heard of it.”

A storyline she developed for the 1960s program was the first thing she ever wrote, Blayney recalled — “It was about a 14-year-old girl who solved a mystery.”

It might not have landed her a job, but it did plant a seed of one day becoming a writer.

Fast forward to her adult years, and Blayney’s life journey is filled with an eclectic mix of careers. She has worked for an Alaskan artist, emceed a PBS radio show, was employed by a big nonprofit and taught and played competitive racquetball.

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“Do you see a trend here?” Blayney asked. “Clue: there isn’t one.”

That’s why it isn’t surprising that she eventually returned to her original idea of writing.

But this time, there would be no television scripts or who-dun-its.  Blayney, instead, turned to romance.

“Maybe,” she said, “it’s because I love happy endings.”

Today, the southern Maryland resident is an award-winning author with dozens of books to her credit and a very loyal following of readers.

Blayney will be signing her newest book, “One More Kiss,” when she appears at the 18th anniversary celebration of Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 13.  The multi-author book signing event will also include  Nora Roberts aka J.D. Robb, Laura Kaye, Kristan Higgins, Kathryn O’sullivan, Deanna Raybourn, plus local history authors Claudia Floyd and Dennis Frye.

Blayney doesn’t remember a time, she said, when she didn’t have a book or a pen in her hands.

“I always read incessantly,” Blayney recalled. “My sister used to hide my books so I would play with her. Two things I remember vividly from those early reading days were how much I liked series and bemoaned the fact that the characters did not grow and change; and the first love scene I ever read, which was in Delderfield’s ‘God is an Englishman.’ It was a quite genteel love scene, but I was still shocked.”

When Blayney went off to college, she decided to major in another interest — history.

But when she was 23, she began thinking again of a writing career and attended a freelance magazine writing class while she and her husband, Paul, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard, were living in Kodiak, Alaska.

“The teacher was the total opposite of what a teacher should be and kept telling us how impossible it was to make a living doing freelance writing,” Blayney said. “He managed to convince me it was impossible. So, when National Geographic World responded positively to a query letter for an article on Kodiak, I threw it away. It was 15 years before I tried again.”

In the meantime, Blayney walked through a revolving door of jobs, including promotional work for Rie Munoz, an Alaskan artist, producing a radio show and teaching and playing racquetball.

“We moved a lot because of Paul’s work,” she said, “so I did change jobs a lot until I decided I would try writing again.”

Blayney decided to give writing another chance in 1974 and chose romance books “because I wanted to write stories about relationships with happy endings,” she said.  “Plus, when I started writing, the romance genre was the only genre that embraced that. Now, we have women’s fiction, which I think is due in large part to romance writers — Patricia Gaffney comes to mind — who wanted to try something other than romance but still insisted on a relatively happy ending.”

Her first published book was a Silhouette Desire titled “True Colors.”

“It was the second book I submitted and I attribute that quick success to two things,” Blayney said. “I began writing in the heyday of the romance genre (the late 1970s) and I had an excellent critique group of published authors who helped me fine tune my submissions.”

Blayney said she would have loved have reacted to seeing her first book on the shelf of a bookstore, “but by the time ‘True Colors’ came out, we were living in Puerto Rico and I could not find it anywhere. But, for me, my favorite part of the process is not seeing the book on the shelf but writing those two amazing words: The end.”

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