Baby Boomer Woman: Mary Anne Benedetto

by Anne Holmes on August 14, 2012

A great big Baby Boomer welcome to author Mary Anne Benedetto, who we are delighted to feature in this month’s NABBW blog post, “Voices of Baby Boomer Women.”

Mary Anne, who writes both fiction and non-fiction, is the owner of A Writer’s Presence, LLC, and a Certified Lifewriting Instructor, affiliated with The Soleil Lifestory Network. In addition to penning books, Mary Anne also publishes two blogs: 4 Women Who Love 2 Travel and Writing Life.

As fans of her work, we know that Mary Anne is a California girl who moved to the Albany, New York area in her late teens, then traveled south to settle in beautiful Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, about five years ago. That’s where you’ll find her these days — except, of course, when she’s following her passion for travel.

Mary Anne says her first novel, Eyelash, was born as she sat on the beach in Cape May, New Jersey, during an annual “Girls Only Week in Cape May”–a laughter filled July vacation that she and a close group of girlfriends have enjoyed annually now for almost two decades.

Her most recent novel, Never Say Perfect, follows up on Laina and Dan Strickland, the characters she first created in Eyelash, and takes readers from Pawleys Island, South Carolina to Cape May, then to New York City — and even Milan, Italy.

Clearly, this saga allows Mary Anne to combine her love of travel with her storytelling talents. She has two additional titles scheduled for completion in this same series—Never Say Hopeless and Never Say Final. Can’t wait to find out where those books will take her characters — and her readers…

When she’s not traveling or working on new writing projects, Mary Anne teaches workshops focused on helping people write their life and family stories, capture the essence of their Christian spiritual paths, and learn about navigating the publishing highways.

She also thrives on speaking to community groups about the importance of preserving their family stories to share with future generations.

We caught up with Mary Anne recently, and asked her to answer a few of our favorite “Voices” questions. Here’s what she shared with us:

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

Speaker, blogger, Certified Lifewriting Instructor, ghostwriter, author of fiction and nonfiction publications, my passions include helping people preserve their life stories for future generations and writing books that hopefully entertain and inspire.

 Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

 Married to Fred, an amazing guy, for thirty-two years — second marriage. First marriage was a result of not understanding that I was far too young to be making a life-altering decision.

One adult son with three delightful grandchildren who are growing up way too soon!

Mom is almost 85 and lives in the next town from us. I’m thankful for our activities together after a lifetime of living in different states and sometimes opposite coasts.

What inspires you?

Without question, sitting in my beach chair and viewing the grandiose expanse of rolling water stretched out as far as my eyes can possibly see. This is where I am able to formulate my best characters, plots, twists and turns and where new ideas seem to miraculously approach a landing strip in my brain.

Perhaps it is because I am completely unchained from my computer and am able to think with a fresh, unclouded perspective when the ocean is unfolded before me.

This also positions me in a peaceful place of acknowledging God’s vast plan of nature. I sit there in awe, knowing that His hand of creation reached down and that every blessing in my life comes from Him.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

My formal education was in accounting, paralegal studies and employee benefits. After several years of working for insurance companies and almost twenty-four years as an accountant and lease administrator for a commercial property management firm, a visit to Pearl Harbor propelled me in a completely different direction.

The short story is: I remembered that my own dad had been at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and I was disheartened that I knew very little, if anything, about what he had experienced that day. It made me realize the importance of capturing the stories of our grandparents, parents and also our own before they are forever lost.

I connected with the Soleil Lifestory Network in Maine, and the rest is history.

After certifying through this organization, I began teaching memoir writing workshops and speaking to community groups to raise awareness about this critical topic. I could easily see the need for a simply-stated guide for helping people jump-start their memoir projects and proceeded to write and publish it.

At the same time, I love writing contemporary Christian fiction…not heavy-handed fire and brimstone stuff…but stories that entertain and inspire. So the leapfrogging between fiction and nonfiction projects literally keep me hopping!

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

Although I have published Eyelash, Never Say Perfect and 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, I have a list of at least eight more books in various stages of completion—both fiction and nonfiction.

I work on these projects one paragraph at a time because there are never enough hours in my day. I could slave away at my computer 24/7, but my husband wisely urges me to give it a break.

What he doesn’t understand is that if you aren’t actively marketing your published books, they will die a slow, painful death!

I am trying to find a healthy balance between marketing and promoting my current books, carving out blocks of time for my new works-in-progress and not ignoring my dear family members and friends.

 If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

To influence as many people as possible to preserve their life stories for future generations because we can’t rewind, and writing our stories builds a bridge from generation to generation!

 


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