Author Mary Angela Takes Us On Her Writing Journey

It’s Mystery Thriller Week! I’ve had some fantastic, talented guests already this week, so scroll down past this post to catch up if you’ve missed any. But don’t go scrolling away just yet! I have a fun guest post to share with you today. My guest, author Mary Angela, has spent much of her life discovering the reasons why various writers write. Today she shares her own reasons with us. Before we get to that, let’s meet the woman behind the words.


© Julie Prairie Photography 2016

Mary Angela is the author of An Act of Murder, the debut novel in the Professor Prather mystery series, and an English teacher at the University of Sioux Falls. When she’s not grading papers (when is she not grading papers?), she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family. An avid mystery fan, she is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. Visit for more information about Mary or her work.







Mary Angela’s Thoughts On Writing

Ralph Waldo Emerson House

Being an English professor, I’ve read a lot of biographies. In fact, I’m kind of addicted to them. I go on author “binges” where I read everything I can about an author and drag my kids to the family home, haunt, or gravesite on vacation. (They will thank me for it later. I know they will.) So it’s safe to say that I’ve encountered the question of why writers write many times. And I’ve read so many wonderful answers: libraries, letters—clocks? One of the best autobiographies I’ve read is Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings. In it, she writes about how the clocks in her childhood home influenced her understanding of time in her work. This is just one of the insights she reveals about why and how she wrote. But me? I’ve never asked myself this question. I guess my answer is because I have to.

Henry David Thoreau’s Grave

Not in the monetary sense, of course. I’m looking forward to the day when writing pays the bills. (I bet my husband is too.) But in the sense that no matter what school I attended or what job I had or how old my kids were, I continued to write. I wasn’t particularly fussy about what I wrote: romances, short stories, mysteries. My dad and I even had a successful family newsletter going until my columns outpaced my family members’ two-to-one. My Christmas letters? For a while, they were creeping up on two pages. Looking back, I wish I had spent as much time trying to get published as I did writing. I guess I thought when I had amassed enough material I would lay it on the desk of some lucky editor, dust my hands off, and walk away.

But as it turns out, writing doesn’t work that way. The urge doesn’t go away, no matter how much you write. In fact, it gets stronger. I’ve never written as much as I write today: books, blogs, short stories, interviews. And I’ve never had so many new ideas. If I only had the time, I’m pretty sure I could start that children’s book my kids and I have written aloud a hundred times. Creatively, I have never felt so productive.

My experience reminds me of a quote I came across once on a museum wall by Maya Angelou: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Think about that. Unlike money or food or gas, creativity is fueled by its use. How many things can you say that about? It is truly a gift, and if you have been so lucky to receive it, I hope you use it well—and often. Chances are it will only get easier if you do.


Here’s a look at An Act of Murder by Mary Angela:

In the sleepy college town of Copper Bluff, South Dakota, English professor Emmeline Prather is enjoying the start of a new semester. But when one of her students dies working on the fall musical, it disrupts life on the small, quiet campus. Although the police rule the death accidental, Prof. Prather has good reason to suspect foul play. Unmasking the murderer proves much more challenging than finding dangling participles, so Em recruits fellow English professor Lenny Jenkins for assistance. Together, they comb the campus and vicinity for clues, risking their reputations and possibly their jobs. After an intruder breaks into Em’s house, Lenny advises caution—and perhaps a change of address. Em, on the other hand, is all the more determined to forge ahead, convinced they’re on the brink of an important breakthrough. Book 1 in a new cozy mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Prof. Prather.


Connect with Mary Angela



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  • Vicki Turner Goodwin

    Mary Angela has a wonderful smile, and her premise of the book is delightful. I can’t wait to read this one. What a great glimpse into her wriitng journey. It is very true, the more you swrite the more you open the floodgates of ideas. Thank you for this MTW post!!

    • She does have a wonderful smile!

      I’m always intrigued by other authors’ writing processes. I love Mary’s description of her writer binges. This was fun to read and share!

  • Mary Angela

    Thank you, Darcia, for featuring my book and guest post. I appreciate it! And thank you, Vicki, for your work on this event. Glad to be a part of it!
    Mary Angela

    • My pleasure, Mary. You’re welcome to hang out on my blog anytime! 🙂