David Alan Binder Interviews Authors Rosemary and Larry Mild

David Alan Binder Interviewing Rosemary and Larry Mild
Authors of On the Rails: The Adventures of Boxcar Bertie.

September 29, 2018

David: How do you pronounce your name?

Rosemary: One (powerful!) word.

Larry: Just like Tom, Dick, and Harry. Mild: as in horseradish, salsa, and soap. We write as "Rosemary and Larry Mild"—partners in life, partners in crime.

David: Where are you currently living?

Larry: In Honolulu, Hawaii, on Oahu, the most isolated island group in the world. And loving every moment of it with six family members also in Honolulu—our two daughters and grandchildren.

David: What is the most important thing you have learned in your writing experience so far?

Larry: How to stay creative, original, on-point, and not be repetitive, using a straightforward writing style common to both coauthors.

Rosemary: Larry says he’s more devious than I am, so he makes up all our plots and writes the first draft. Then it’s my turn. I add scenes, polish the prose, toss the narrative salad, and breathe life into the characters. Sometimes I change a character’s name, and Larry asks, "Who dat?"

David: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Larry: Writing first and researching afterward. Doing the reverse collects too much excess information and guilt for not using it.

Rosemary: We negotiate! Together we massage the prose so it comes out seamless, sounding like one author. I’ll tell Larry: "I love that fight in the restaurant; I worked hard on it," and he’ll say: "I wrote that." Huh? Maybe he did!

David: Tell us your insights on self-publishing or using a traditional publisher?

Larry: After just so much publisher abuse (namely, poor royalties, royalty policy, bad communication, and no marketing help), we repurchased all our rights and became our own publisher. I bought appropriate formatting software on-line and have accomplished that task satisfactorily ever since. I also format all our e-books, both Kindle and Nook, and maintain our website.

Rosemary: Larry is excellent at formatting. We also work with a graphic designer on our covers. After spending a year or more writing and editing a book, it’s wonderful to be able to publish it in a few months. Many traditional publishers take a year or longer.

David: What is the name of your publisher and in what city are they located?

Larry: We call our very own publishing firm Magic Island Literary Works. We contract our printing out to Lightning Source, Inc., a division of Ingram, the largest distributor of English language books in the world. We also pay to appear in their catalogues. Alas, our choice may be costing us greater distribution.

David: Any insights on eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Larry: Print books will never disappear, but their market share is doomed to decline because the upcoming, on-the-move generation is relying more and more on hand-held and other digital devices. Traditional publishing has consolidated into a powerhouse of tight control over major reviewing media, i.e., newspapers and magazines.

David: Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Larry: If you can’t get an agent within the first year of trying, look to smaller publishers on your own or try self-publishing (more accurately known now as "independent" publishing), in print, as an e-book, or both. Seek help on-line or by joining major writing associations.

Rosemary: Subscribe to The Writer; they also have a free on-line newsletter with tips for writers at all levels and wannabes. Take writing classes. Join local writers’ organizations like Sisters in Crime. Attend writers’ conferences.

David: How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

Larry: Write a great, moneymaking blockbuster guaranteed to enrich all concerned. Make your first page an absolute gem. Then simultaneously query as many agents in your genre as you can. Select the agent who gives you the best author-agent contract. Otherwise, skip the agent and head to a small, reputable publisher on your own.

Rosemary: The Writer and Writer’s Digest often discuss what agents want. The new issue of The Writer (October 2018) features an article called "Find Your Agent." It all boils down to this: Check each literary agency’s guidelines on-line. Make sure an agency represents your genre and follow instructions meticulously.

David: Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

Larry: a. Be a reader in your chosen genre first and learn how it’s done.

b. Keep a notebook or journal. Good or bad—put all your pertinent thoughts to paper. Edit later.

c. Have a reasonable grasp of where your plot is going before you start.

d. Choose a comfortable point of view (POV) and writing attitude.

e. Create a profile of your main characters, complete inside and out, neither all good nor all bad. Keep a good record of their traits.

e. Put a lot of extra effort in crafting your first page.

Rosemary: a. Make your climax and ending worthy and relevant. Keep your promise to the reader. Don’t throw in a surprise villain at the end who had nothing to do with the story.

b. Read The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman.

David: What was one of the most surprising things you learned about your creative process with your books?

Rosemary: Larry’s ability to invent new plots and characters for us.

David: How many books have you written?

Larry: Together we’ve published thirteen: six mystery novels; two thrillers set in Hawaii; one science fiction novella; and two short story collections. We’ve also published a series of eight short stories called "Copper and Goldie" (with two more coming) on-line at Mysterical-E (an E-zine). Sam is a disabled ex-cop turned P.I. whose partner is a golden retriever. My autobiography will be out next year.

Rosemary: I also have my own nonfiction writing life—personal essays, mostly humorous. I’ve also published two memoirs: Miriam’s World—and Mine, for our daughter we lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland; and Love! Laugh! Panic! Life with My Mother.

David: Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer?

Larry: a. As you complete a chapter, write a chapter summary to help you keep track.

b. During your second draft try writing each idea in an alternate way to see if it reads better.

c. Read your final draft out loud. Better still, with another person. After Rosemary and I have negotiated the final draft, we read the entire book aloud to each other. We hear how it really sounds, especially the dialogue. It’s amazing how many inconsistencies pop up that we wouldn’t catch by just individually proofreading. Avoid writing in a total vacuum.

David: Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

Larry: a. Reread the classic short stories, especially mysteries where twists prevail.

b. Review English class lessons on figurative language, especially in the area of the various types of irony.

Rosemary: Read O. Henry. Among contemporary authors, read Frederick Forsythe’s short story collection No Comebacks. He’s a master of clever twists.

David: What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

Larry: a. The name reputation you build with your readers (honesty, authenticity, and worthiness.)

b. Exciting cover, interesting back cover blurb, and excellent first page.

c. Quality of writing.

Rosemary: Larry makes up all our titles. They’re super-clever and original.

David:What is one unusual way in which you promote your work?

Larry: Speaking and reading at public libraries and book clubs.

Rosemary: You’ll find zillions of articles on how to market your book, including how to use social media. But the bugaboo is: Don’t be outrageously self-promoting by begging "Buy my book!" Instead, you’re supposed to engage readers, let them get to know you. Many authors put photos on Facebook of the gourmet dinner they just cooked for themselves or standing on a lookout at Bryce Canyon. (Sigh.) I was born three generations too early for that stuff!

David:What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing) and why?

Larry: Start serious writing at an earlier age, because the skill and ease only come with pursuit, practice, and patience.

David:What saying or mantra do you live by?

Larry: A book does not write itself. It takes a lot of hard work, and you must put in the hours (five or six) every day.

Rosemary: (Hah!) Larry has a much longer attention span than I do. Nevertheless. we do encourage you to write something every day, even if it’s only an hour before or after work or when your baby is napping. Or at least scribble a few more ideas and thoughts into your notebook to be enlarged into a story later.

David:Anything else you would like to say? I mean, what motivates you?

Larry: There is no joy greater than holding the finished product in your hand—unless it’s fans telling us how much they loved the last book and are ready for the next one.