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RPLA Showcase: Helaine Mario

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Welcome to the RPLA Showcase

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2016 Published Thriller/Suspense

The Lost Concerto by Helaine Mario

In The Lost Concerto, a widowed concert pianist is swept up in a decades-old secret involving lost music and art from WWII and a search across France for her missing godson. Suspense, intrigue, humor, romance.

At the 2016 Royal Palm Literary Awards Banquet, author Helaine Mario won First Place in the Thriller/Suspense category. Each year at the RPLA Banquet, authors experience the joy of earning accolades for all the hard work that is often done in the privacy of the home with little to no recognition. We’re showcasing the best of the best with our First Place winners spotlight. Not only does RPLA recognize extraordinary talent, but we’re giving readers an opportunity to sample excerpts from the winning stories.

Click the link to read a sample:

Excerpt from The Lost Concerto

Ready to read the rest of the book?

Click the link to purchase The Lost Concerto from Amazon Smile and support the Florida Writers Foundation.*

Q & A with Helaine Mario

Q: Where do you get your story ideas?

A: This is the question I am asked most often. As with most things, there is a simple answer and a more complicated one. For me, the simple answer is books, newspapers, news programs, travel, Shakespeare, the performing arts – and sometimes just listening. The more complicated answer involves the meaning of the word ‘inspiration.’ The root is ‘inspire.’ To breathe in. I love this image. And so… I took a deep breath and wrote the book that I wanted to read. That meant writing about something I love – classical music. In The Lost Concerto, it is music that sets this story apart, music that tells Maggie’s story. My son, Sean, began asking for piano lessons when he was five. The months became years, and he graduated to a grand piano, competing frequently in classical competitions. As I listened to him practice, I fell in love with classical music. There was just one small problem… I can’t even find middle C on a piano. So that meant research. Hours and hours of research. The good news is that one article on music led to missing music, and that article led to music lost during WW2, and – voila! – a plot was born. Then the magic of the “What Ifs” kicked in. What if my main character is a classical pianist? What if she has lost her ability to play music? What if she is drawn to France to search for her missing godson? What if, what if… Finally, as Robin Williams often said, sometimes inspiration is just “a little spark of madness.”

Q: Anything in particular about your award-winning RPLA entry that you’d like to share?

A: First of all, I am so grateful to everyone at RPLA. Winning the Royal Palm First Place for Suspense was a great honor, especially because I was in the company of such good and respected writers. I also am passionate about The Lost Concerto’s story, and want nothing more than to share it with other readers who want to ‘get lost’ in a good book. I think that what sets this book apart are the complex – and very likable – characters, the classical music, the evocative settings, and how we deal with loss and moving on. I often say that The Lost Concerto truly is a love story only ‘masquerading’ as a thriller.

Q: Whom do you credit with inspiring your writing?

A: Two women I never met inspired me to write fiction – Helen MacInnes and Mary Stewart. Not teachers, but writers – queens of espionage novels and romantic suspense from 1941 through the 80’s. They taught me about suspense, courage and love, and they inspired me with their heroic women characters. I never took a writing class, but from these writers I learned about building page-turning suspense, finding a voice, dialogue that sounds natural, crafting an intricate but believable plot, the importance of settings, and creating an involving romance. Like those writers who went before me, my stories have international and evocative settings, political intrigue, timely plots and complex characters. The women in my novels, especially, are strong, intelligent, funny, loving, accomplished and brave. Women who somehow find the courage to do the right, thing no matter what. Who run toward, rather than away. The woman I would like to be. I read every single one of these writers’ books. And I miss them.

Q: Any tips for new writers?

A: I will tell you what I have learned, sometimes the hard way… Write what you care about, what you want to read. Make time to write every day. Learn the tools – point of view, transition, flashbacks, limiting adverbs. Rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit. Even when you think you are done… If you are planning a sequel or series, leave some unanswered questions. Be prepared to take on marketing and ‘put yourself out there.’ Even when you’d rather be writing. Have a thick skin and a sense of humor. Don’t give up. Learn that you cannot please everyone. (Short chapters vs. Long? Character vs. Action?) DON’T APOLOGIZE. TELL THE BEST STORY YOU CAN AND BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.

Thank you for sharing, Helaine, and congratulations! Visit her website: www.helainemario.com

*When you purchase this book from the Amazon Smile link provided, you are promoting literacy throughout Florida. You pay no extra cost for the book. The Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Florida Writers Foundation.

For more details about FWF, visit www.floridawritersfoundation.com

For more details about Amazon Smile, visit https://smile.amazon.com/gp/aw/ch/about

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Follow Bria Burton:

Blogger at St. Pete Running Company

Award-winning author Bria Burton lives in St. Petersburg with her wonderful husband and two wild pets. They will soon welcome a baby boy (their first) in November 2017. Her fiction has appeared in over twenty anthologies and magazines. Her novelette, The Running Girls, is a 2017 Royal Palm Literary Award Finalist. Her novella, Little Angel Helper, won a 2016 RPLA. She has earned two First Place RPLAs for unpublished manuscripts. While she writes, her dog and cat do their best to distract her, which is why they star in her family-friendly short story collection, Lance & Ringo Tails. She's a blogger and customer service manager at St. Pete Running Company. As a member of the Florida Writers Association, she leads the St. Pete chapter and serves on the statewide FWA Board. She's also a member of the Alvarium Experiment, a by-invitation-only consortium of outstanding authors who created The Prometheus Saga, Return to Earth, and The Masters Reimagined anthologies. Website www.briaburton.com

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One Response

  1. Ken Pelham
    | Reply

    Helaine, I love the basis of your novel, the plundering of works of art during WW2. I’ve read a lot about this in recent years and the scope of it is truly astonishing. Telling an aspect of it in a thriller entices me to the nth degree, much like a Steve Berry novel does. Best of luck with the success of THE LOST CONCERTO.

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