TN: Today’s interview is with Marianne Sciucco. You’ll see as you read through the interview and her bio notes at the end that Marianne is a very accomplished indie author. Marianne, when did you know you were a writer?
MS: My mother likes to tell a story of when I was in first grade. One day, I came home from school in tears and told her I was going to quit. “I’ve been going to school for three weeks, and I still can’t read! And I still can’t write!” It seems that was all I wanted in my short little life. My mother had to go to the school to speak to the teacher, who assured her I was well on my way to reading and writing. And before long, I had mastered those skills. So, I guess you could say I knew I’d be a big reader and a writer from a very early age.
TN: What is your writing style?
MS: My stories stem from my own life experiences. I try to keep them as real as possible, and infuse them with each of five senses so the reader can feel she’s a part of the story in every way, not just a silent observer. I use a lot of dialogue to drive the story too.
TN: Why did you write your first book?
MS: I had a lifelong dream to write a book, and in 2002 decided to sit down and do it. My first attempt didn’t get too far, but then I met the couple who inspired the characters of Jack and Sara in Blue Hydrangeas, and eighteen months later had a complete manuscript. It’s a story about Alzheimer’s, which is a cause very dear to me as I had three aunts succumb to it, and, as a registered nurse and case manager counseled hundreds of families living with it. Twelve years after I wrote Blue Hydrangeas, I started living my own Alzheimer’s story when my stepfather was diagnosed with three types of dementia. After living through that, I may have another book to write.
TN: Why did you decide to self-publish?
MS: I tried to traditionally publish Blue Hydrangeas but gave up after receiving more than 50 rejection letters from agents and editors who never read my book. It was discouraging and disheartening. At the time, the Kindle was taking off and a friend of mine who had published that way suggested I try it. I had nothing to lose, so uploaded my files. It was easy and I found I loved having complete control over my projects.
TN: How did you come up with your cover design?
MS: I designed my first cover, which was simplistic but stunning. But I didn’t feel it told the story well, so after a year or two I decided to hire a cover designer to help me. Perry Elisabeth of Perry Elisabeth Designs and I came up with the cover of the white-haired couple dancing on the beach. It told the story of a loving, elderly couple, living on Cape Cod, and the blue hydrangeas were prominently displayed.
TN: What software did you use? for print? for eBook?
MS: I used Power Point and Photo Shop to design my first covers, both print and digital. I now use Canva. I designed the covers for my short stories Ino’s Love, Collection, and Birthday Party. The cover for my young adult sports novel Swim Season was professionally done by Heather McCorkle.
TN: Do you have any tips for someone who is considering self-publishing?
MS: It’s not easy. There is a very steep learning curve. You will need to spend lots of hours learning every little aspect. But it’s worth it because you’ll have complete control over your project.
TN: What do you do when you are “stuck?”
MS: I get stuck a lot, mainly because of my repetitive strain injuries, which cause me to limit keyboarding. I need frequent rest periods, sometimes for weeks, which really throw me off. It’s hard to stay focused on a project with so many interruptions. I think about my project every day, usually when I’m trying to fall asleep or as soon as I wake up. I also do research and jot down ideas to help keep me in the flow.
TN: Describe the plot for one of your books.
MS: In Blue Hydrangeas, Jack and Sara are enjoying retirement on Cape Cod in their lovely bed and breakfast (called Blue Hydrangeas). Sara begins showing signs of forgetfulness, and when the diagnosis is Alzheimer’s, Jack makes an impossible promise: he and Sara will remain at home no matter what the disease brings. But after nine years of selfless care giving, Jack can’t go on any longer, and agrees to admit Sara to an assisted living facility. On the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days, and Jack can’t bear to leave her in that place. He wants to take her far away from their troubles, so they take a drive to the outer Cape, where many of their most precious memories were made. The day doesn’t end well, leaving Jack with the realization that what really matters is for him and Sara to stay together no matter what, and he finds a way to make that happen.
TN: Which one of your books is your favorite?
MS: I love Blue Hydrangeas, but I must admit that Swim Season is my favorite. It took me five years to write that almost 600-page novel based on my daughter’s 10-year varsity swimming career. I put everything I had into that story, and wrote it for the thousands of young girls who swim competitively and dream big dreams of the Olympics and college swimming. Feedback from readers has been terrific, but the book doesn’t do as well as Blue Hydrangeas.
TN: Thank you Marianne for the interview. You can read more about Marianne below.
About the Author
Marianne Sciucco writes contemporary and YA fiction. Her stories are considered “clean” fiction, meaning free of graphic violence, gratuitous sex, and four-letter words, so you can feel comfortable sharing her books and newsletters with friends and family.
Marianne says she’s not a nurse who writes, she’s a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues.
Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story (2013), is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks featured book, a Library Journal Self-e Selection, and a 5-star Readers Favorite. Marianne’s work with Alzheimer’s led her to help found the organization AlzAuthors, which vets books and blogs about the dementias for those who need to read them. She is currently working on a novella, Christmas at Blue Hydrangeas, a prequel to her first novel.
Marianne has also published a young adult novel, Swim Season, which was recently chosen as an “Official Selection” in the Young Adult General Fiction category of New Apple’s Annual Book Awards for Excellence in Independent Publishing. Swim Season is based on the author’s 11 years’ experience as a Swim Mom, and the longest book she hopes she’ll ever write. She prefers shorter fiction, and has published three short stories: Ino’s Love, the award-winning Collection: Daisy Hunter Story No. 1, and Birthday Party: Daisy Hunter Story No. 2. Dinner at the Tamarack Inn: Daisy Hunter Story No. 3 will release in 2018. The Daisy Hunter stories are loosely based on her childhood experiences.
A native Bostonian, Marianne lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her patient, reliable husband and their beautiful, brainy daughter. They are ruled by Mr. Chance, a cat they rescued who thinks he rescued them (he may be right but please don’t tell him.) When not writing, Marianne works as a campus nurse at a community college, and teaches classes in independent publishing. She enjoys books, the beach, and craft beer, preferably all at the same time.