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Mary Cunningham
  • 117, Female
  • United States
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Started this discussion. Last reply by Skeeze Whitlow Aug 18, 2009.


The Power of A Great Cover!

Full cover art

I've been extremely lucky in my writing career. 

Two publishers. Two fabulous graphic artists. 

Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder cover was designed by Ryan Thomas Doan for Imajin Books. The first time I saw it, I gasped. He sliced through the theme of the story with a creative knife. The bee blew me away. 

Why, you ask? Read the book! 😊

My children's series, Cynthia's Attic - Echelon Press - was blessed to have Nathalie Moore. What a beautiful eye she has for colors and design! I love all five of the covers. This is the first.

What is your opinion of covers? Are you attracted to the cover, first? Do you pull a catchy cover off the shelf, then read the title? I happen to think they matter in this world of millions of authors and stories vying for millions of readers. 

The release of the first (of many, I hope) Andi Anna Jones Mystery is coming, soon! You don't have to wait. Preorder, now! 

And, it's already getting great reviews!

“If Evanovich's Stephanie Plum were a travel agent, she'd fit right in [with] Andi, a wanna-be detective readers are sure to love.” —Regan Black, USA Today bestselling author of the Escape Club Heroes series

"Wow. Snappy dialog, quirky characters, opens with a curious bang and yanked me through the pages." -Jean Rabe, USA Today bestselling author

“Grab a margarita and hold on tight; you're in for a wild ride.” —Karen MacInerney, Agatha Award nominee and author of the Dewberry Farms Mysteries

“What a fun ride! This is a cozy on caffeine, and has all the elements you need: a feisty heroine, a handsome sheriff, a mysterious death, exotic locales, and whip-smart, laugh-out-loud dialogue. ” --Julia Buckley, author of the acclaimed Writer’s Apprentice Mystery Series and Undercover Dish
Mystery Series.

Follow Author, Mary Cunningham on Amazon

Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder is ready to Preorder!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00052]

[Amazon] [Smashwords] [Google Play] [Kobo]

And, it's already getting great reviews!

“If Evanovich's Stephanie Plum were a travel agent, she'd fit right in [with] Andi, a wanna-be detective readers are sure to love.” —Regan Black, USA Today bestselling author of the Escape Club Heroes series

"Wow. Snappy dialog, quirky characters, opens with a curious bang and yanked me through the pages." -Jean Rabe, USA Today bestselling author

“Grab a margarita and hold on tight; you're in for a wild ride.”
—Karen MacInerney, Agatha Award nominee and author of the Dewberry Farms Mysteries

“What a fun ride! This is a cozy on caffeine, and has all the elements you need: a feisty heroine, a handsome sheriff, a mysterious death, exotic locales, and whip-smart, laugh-out-loud dialogue. ” --Julia Buckley, author of the acclaimed Writer’s Apprentice Mystery Series and Undercover Dish Mystery Series.

Author, Mary Cunningham on Amazon


It All Starts With Writing

When I was a kid, I had to cross a busy downtown street to walk the two blocks to tBabe Zaharias he public library. Mom would take me across that first street then let me walk the rest of the way to my favorite spot on earth; well, except for the high school gym on Friday night basketball game night.

I guess you’d call me a tomboy. I loved sports; playing and watching. Although, I still had fun cutting out paper dolls with my friend, Cynthia, and playing with her Easy Bake Oven (I was so jealous she had one and I didn’t!)

But, back to the library. I’ll never forget the summer I discovered the sports biographies. A whole set of them! Probably due to my yet-to-be-discovered OCD, I commenced reading them in order – A-Z.

I’ll never forget the thrill of learning all about Hank Aaron. I was a huge fan back then of the Milwaukee Braves outfielder. In 1957, as a 10-year-old, I would sit in front of the TV keeping stats during the Braves games. In a record-breaking year, he hit an 11th inning home run that propelled the Braves to the World Series, where he led underdog Milwaukee to an upset win over the New York Yankees in seven games. Yep, “Hammerin’ Hank” was my idol.

Forever Amber I tore through that series in record time. Patty Berg, Jim Brown, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzales, Byron Nelson, Warren Spahn. Then, the unbelievable happened. I finished Babe Didrikson Zaharias. Finished. Caput. A through Z. There were no more.

I was crushed.

Back to my reading boredom. Between my eight grade and freshman year, my beloved Aunt Gertrude, began setting books aside she thought I’d enjoy reading. To Kill a Mockingbird, of course, and anything by Steinbeck. I graduated to slightly steamier novels like Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, and later, in high school, Lady Chatterley’s Lover. She made me swear not to tell my mother she let me check that one out. I believe I hid the book under my mattress until I finished reading and returned it, safely, to the library.

I muddled along reading Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and then got interested in historical fiction. Then I got bored with the writing and storylines that were beneath my  reading level.
As luck would have it, my aunt replaced the ancient librarian who had been in her position for, oh, around 108 years. Or, at least it seemed like it. What a refreshing change! Nothing against Miss Georgia, but she single-handedly destroyed my older brother’s love of reading. It was the summer after the fourth-grade school year. He took “The Bears of Blue River” to the desk to check it out. Miss Georgia wouldn’t let him read it. “This is a Fifth Grade book. You’ll have to wait ‘til then.” Barely a month away. My brother, who had a bit of a stubborn streak, left the library and never

I’m sure, by now, you’re wondering, “What’s the point of this post?” I’m getting to that.
I now consider myself to be a pretty fair writer. My children’s book series, Cynthia’s Attic, has been well-received by readers of all ages. My new series, Andi Anna Jones Mysteries, is about to make its debut and am I ever excited! Writing these mysteries has given me a new perspective. While I love writing for middle-grade, it does keep the creative juices flowing when you change things up every now-and-then.

I wouldn’t be writing, however, if not for one important fact.
It all starts with reading!
Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder - Andi Anna Jones Mystery # 1 - Preorder, soon!

Christmas With Daisy - A Cynthia's Attic Christmas Story

Christmas 1964, brings a mysterious visitor to Cynthia's house; a reclusive great-aunt nicknamed, "Crazy Daisy." Is she really crazy or just eccentric? Cynthia and Gus are determined to find out, but a stray ember and a flaming nightgown take the girls on an unexpected trip through time, back to 1914, where compassion and friendship gives new meaning to the spirit of Christmas.

Read an excerpt!

Christmas With Daisy

Chapter One:

"How crazy is she?"

"I don't know. Her real name is Daisy, but I've heard some members of the family call her Crazy Daisy." Cynthia, my best friend since forever, hangs her favorite pink ballerina ornament on the tree and then stands back surveying her artistry.

I rummage through cardboard boxes filled with multi-colored decorations and grab a silver garland. "And, she's spending Christmas with you? What if she sets the house on fire or murders everyone during their sleep!"

She rolls her eyes and flips her blonde, red-ribboned ponytail. "Gus. Shut down your wild imagination. She's not a serial killer or an arsonist."

I shrug. "I'm just saying that you don't know much about this great-aunt of yours. Why do you suppose no one has talked about her before?" I'll get the scoop on Cynthia's Christmas visitor if it kills me! Er...poor choice of words.

Cynthia makes a big production of straightening the garland I've just thrown onto a large section of branches.

"I liked it that way." I complain. "Not everything has to hang in perfect symmetry. So boring."

"I'll decorate my tree, and you, Augusta Lee, decorate yours. Or, should I say, youstand ten feet away, throw ornaments and icicles in the general direction of your tree and hope something sticks."

I should've expected she'd bring up my given name sooner or later. My mom and dad just had to name me after my grandfather, Augustus Leeander, but when my avid love of sports and my dislike of fussing with my hair and clothes surfaced, they took to calling me Gus.

"Hey! I'm just here to help, so there's no need to be insulting." I grumble but can't dispute her description of my decorating technique. She's seen me in action. So...I change the subject back to this crazy aunt. "Where's she going to stay? Your room?"

Cynthia's attention is squarely on the tree that has stood in the same corner of the den every Christmas since...since either of us can remember. "Doesn't it look beautiful, Gus? I think I've outdone myself this year."

I give an absentminded nod to the perfectly placed ornaments: red, green, silver and blue equally spaced. Silver garland drapes precisely on each branch of the six-foot pine chosen from a tree farm this past weekend. Bor-rring. "Yeah, yeah, it's gorgeous. But, what about your room?"

"Mother hasn't said, but you don't think Danielle has any intention of being inconvenienced, do you?"

I couldn't imagine Cynthia's older sister allowing a stranger to take over her bedroom, and it would take a bulldozer to get her brother's room ready for human occupancy. Obviously, Cynthia would spend the holidays on the living room sofa. "I have an idea. You can stay with me, if you'd like. I'm sure Mom wouldn't mind."

Her eyes widen, and a smile breaks across her face. "I have a better idea! You stay with me."

Huh? She won't have a bedroom. A crazy aunt could be roaming around the house–possibly rooting around for butcher knives and axes–and she wants me to stay with her? "Oh, great. Then both of us would be without a bed. Why not stay at my house? You'll be safe and have a comfortable place to sleep."

"Oh, but then we'd miss out on maybe the best Christmas ever. Aren't you always saying that Christmas is so annoying with your bratty cousin banging on the piano all day and feeding sweet potatoes to your dog, Sam, just so he'll throw up? Wouldn't you rather be here to experience, first hand, the holidays with a strange, maybe scary, aunt?"

She has me there. Getting away from dear, sweet cousin Bradley for a few hours has to be an improvement, even if I have to sleep with one eye open, watching out for a shadowy figure to jam a pillow over my face. "I'll ask if I can stay Christmas Eve. Mom and Dad will want me home in time for the family dinner Christmas night, but someone has to watch your back."

Buy Christmas With Daisy today on EBook!
Buy Cynthia's Attic Series - Paperback and EBook

Baseball and Ben-Gay

1945 World Series

A young boy sat on the windowsill of his grandmother's Sheffield Ave. Brownstone, and watched his beloved Cubbies.

Binoculars in hand, and radio nearby, his view was unobstructed, straight down the first base line. Grandma would bring him a sandwich and ask for updates on the game.

The summer heat settling in the top floor apartment, coupled with an over-powering smell stinging his nostrils from his grandmother's "overuse" of Ben-Gay, made it imperative to lean as far out the window, as possible.

"Now, Kenny. Don't you fall," she'd warn.

A World Series appearance and win was always first and foremost on his mind.

The last Cubs pennant win was 1945; 7 months after he was born, so another pennant or series win was just around the corner.


It would be a lifetime before the Cubs would make it to another series. 71 years.

In case you're wondering, Ken isn't still sitting in the window of his grandmother's Brownstone, but he's just as excited now, as he was then, to see his team play.

It's been 7 decades for this long-suffering fan, but joy, along with relief, came flooding back.

Go Cubbies!

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Profile Information

Something About Me and My Book:
I'm a juvenile fiction writer, love fantasy and will probably never "grow up." Currently, I'm editing Book Three of a young reader series, "Cynthia's Attic." The series is published by Echelon Press Publishing.

Favorite saying: I live in my own little world. But, it's okay. They know me here.
I also write adult fantasy and nonfiction.

WOOFers Rock

Mary Cunningham's Blog

Sandra Novack (Precious - Random House) Visiting Cynthia's Attic

Tuesday, March 24, author, Sandra Novack will visit Cynthia's Attic. I recently heard her speak at a library event, and was so impressed by her genuine love for her craft, her latest novel, Precious, and for the characters that grace the pages of this amazing book.

Sandra Novack Bio:

I was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1972. When I was little, my… Continue

Posted on March 22, 2009 at 10:30am

Comment Wall (13 comments)

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At 10:29pm on April 30, 2012, Aidana WillowRaven said…

Seeing as how we both share a love for the SFF genre, I sorta thought you'd enjoy my latest book illustration. It was created for an author's add campaign for his book. Let me know what you think: :D


Cheers! :D

At 4:22pm on October 2, 2009, John Cmint said…
Hi Mary,

Congratulations on your book series, Cynthia's Attic. Also, great favorite quote! It reminds me why I love to write :) I just wanted to mention to you a website I built called It's for authors to promote their book. You do so by posting your book's first chapter, giving readers a peek into your book. The site is free and the list of books is growing, so please check it out. :) BTW, good luck with your book series!

p.s. You can also check out this blog post on the Already Published Ning Network, I explain how to post your book. You can also learn more about the website there.

At 9:36pm on July 14, 2009, Freya R said…
Hi Mary

Do stop by when you have a moment to check out our free book marketing tool - BookBuzzr. (

BookBuzzr is a page-flipping application that is more suited for marketing books online. BookBuzzr comes with the built-in ability to share your book-extract on over 60 social networking and bookmarking sites such as Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, Digg, Delicious etc.

We'd love it if you'd take a look at our tool and share your thoughts.

Freya [at] bookbuzzr [dot] com

PS - Sorry for this message if you already use BookBuzzr, but please help us tell others and spread the benefit!
At 2:48am on March 16, 2009, Bert Martinez said…
Hello, I'm Bert Martinez, I'm looking to network with success minded authors. If you would like my free report 30 Strategies for Selling More Books just fill out the form below. I look forward to networking with you and if there is anything that I can help you with please do not hesitate to contact me.

You Were Created to Succeed!

Bert Martinez

For Email Marketing you can trust
At 3:08pm on October 26, 2008, Aidana WillowRaven said…
I'm so excited!

Check out my latest blog post to read about my newest cover design, read the latest book review and find out how to attend my first book signing for the JGDS (Junior Geography Detective Squad) children's mystery state book series (signing as illustrator of course).

Here is the cover for the second book in the series just to tempt you further...

Isn't my job cool?

Aidana WillowRaven
IM: willowraven.illustration
At 12:25pm on March 14, 2008, L. Diane Wolfe said…
Hi Mary! I've had the honor of meeting the owner of Echelon Press at last year's Book 'Em festival - she is an amazing woman!
At 8:58pm on July 25, 2007, david b mclaughlin said…
Please help me name my book (if you have not already)!

Vote here:

Thanks in advance,
David B. McLaughlin
At 9:12am on June 30, 2007, Bill Frank said…
Hi, Mary. Thanks for the invite to join your friends. Thanks, too, for the kind words the other day about my posted reply to your comment.
At 11:10am on June 28, 2007, Kathleen Shaputis said…
A pleasure to be invited, Mary. It's a wet, soggy day here in the Pacific Northwest, just perfect for writing and editing.

At 7:00am on June 28, 2007, Michelle Rosado said…
Hi there Mary,

Thank you so much for the invite. I really admire your young heart and look forward to getting to know you and your work.

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