Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

Cooking and Chatting With Nins the Writer

Sherri: I’m chatting today with Nina Romano, whom I know as @ninsthewriter from Twitter.

You know what they say about seven degrees of separation, well, we have a mutual friend, award-winning cozy mystery author, M. K. Graff. Since meeting Nina through Twitter, I have wanted to host her on my website. I am so excited to finally be able to welcome to my Creekside Café, the award-winning poet and author, Nina Romano. It is so good to have you at my virtual café.

Nina: I’m delighted to have this lovely opportunity, Sherri, of speaking to you on a subject dear to my heart: writing.

Sherri: I’m sitting here in awe and unsure how I want to begin. There’s so much I want to ask you. I love following you on Twitter, you are so uplifting. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll start with the basics. Have you always written?

Nina: First, let me thank you for that compliment. I always say: it’s the nature of the beast to try to be supportive and helpful. The simple answer to your question is yes, I’ve always written.The longer answer is that I always wrote poetry since I was a young girl and I always wanted to write fiction.

Sherri: The alphabet after your name is a bit intimidating. If I’d not had the chance to get to know what a gracious person you are and your willingness to help new writers, I would hesitate to ask you to join me on the porch of my cafe. You hold several degrees and have traveled around the world. How have these influenced your writing?

Nina: I like your phraseology of “alphabet” after my name. To tell the truth, I’m pretty amazed myself when I look back and see I hold four degrees, two of those are Master’s and one is an MFA in Creative Writing. The degrees gave me my love of teaching and my enthusiasm for the written word, but also the skills for critical reading and the ability to critique and revise writing.

Travel, on the other hand, is a complete education—when I think of it that way, I’ve accrued quite a few more degrees for every country, state, island, and place visited. What I mean is travelling exposes you to everything—geography, history, languages, religion, currencies, food, drink, morals, dress codes, mores, social etiquette, and behavior. Travel has certainly influenced my writing because I love history and various cultures. I write mostly historical novels, and narrative poetry. My short stories tend to be quite international. They say write what you know, but what is meant by that also encompasses writing what you can know by studying and learning—acquired knowledge.

Sherri: In reading your bio, I see you have had quite a bit published: collections of poetry and short stories, and novels. You’ve had individual poems, stories, reviews, memoir reminiscences, and other pieces of creative nonfiction published in magazines, journals and anthologies. It is truly impressive, tell our readers about some of your work.

Nina: That, dear Sherri, is a loaded question. I’ll try to simplify it as much as I can. Before I began having my novels accepted for publication, I always submitted some kind of writing for possible publication in a literary print or online magazine or journal. A fellow grad student and dear friend, Leonard Nash, a wonderful short story writer and professor, told me many moons ago, to always have from twelve to twenty pieces circulating if you want to publish. I did just that—every Friday, for months, even years, I sent out publishable material. I started to garner publications that I added to my CV and author’s bio, which is exactly what you need in almost every aspect of writing—most especially for query letters to agents, editors, and publishers.

What happens if you’re rejected is you simply repackage the piece or poem, revise, retouch it and resend it to some other editor or publication. Why? Because it’s all so subjective and you need to seek out the right editor or publisher for whatever it is you’re writing. In the meantime, of course, you keep writing, keep trying to buoy yourself if the rejections come hurtling at you too many at a time!  If you get any kind of a personal note that sounds a bit hopeful despite a rejection, you pay attention to it. You can answer direct questions, but you never, and I mean NEVER, write back to defend your writing on a submitted piece. That shows a complete lack of professionalism. You merely say, Thanks, and move on.

Examples of some relatively positive rejections:

  1.  This piece isn’t for us. Solid writing, but do you have an essay on mental health?
  2.  Your writing exhibits a lovely lyrical voice, but for this magazine we’re looking for   something more cutting-edge.
  3. This is well-written, but you used first person POV, and we’re looking for only third—

can you rewrite it?

  • Thanks. These poems don’t work for us. Have any others you’d be interested in submitting?

When you acquire enough published pieces, you begin putting together collections of poems, short stories, essays, novel excerpts, or whatever—in hopes of getting a larger segment of your writing in the form of a book or novel out into the public arena.

Sherri: Your Wayfarer Series is the first that caught my eye. The Secret Language of Women, was the first in that trilogy? From the Wayfarer Series to The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley they seem quite different but what do you feel a reader will take away from both?

Nina: They are all different—diverse cultures, countries, eras. However, they’re all historical. I do deep, investigative research so that everything about the time period and era I’m setting the novel in is as factual as possible. I think readers appreciate the systematic inquiry process I employ. I also try very hard to “cover my tracks” in that I like to blend and incorporate the research material so it fits the work and remains almost seamless. This isn’t an easy task, I can guarantee it! 

Sherri: On Twitter, I look forward to your writing advice. You were an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University, you’ve been on panel discussions, given talks and presentations at book fairs, in seminars and in workshops. You’ve spoken at several events, and given readings, signings, and “meet and greets” in bookstores. What bits of advice would you give to writers on the verge of publishing?

Nina: I appreciate you saying that you like my tweets on writing advice. Of late, I’ve been doing less and less of them, having been criticized and even blocked by people who disagree with my writing tips, prompts or advice!

To answer your question about writers on the verge of publishing, there are several crucial things to consider.

Editing is king! Never submit anything that isn’t a complete and polished work. Have your manuscript edited by people who write well and have a history of publication, people who know what they’re talking about when critiquing, and people whose opinions you value and trust.

Rewrite, revise and tighten everything as much as possible before submitting.

Delete extraneous words from dialogue, repetitious words, and any material that may be exquisitely wrought but isn’t appropriate to the work. This is that hated expression: “Kill your darlings!”    

Use a spell check, but be careful and cross-check words with a dictionary and a thesaurus.

Read your work out loud.

Find and use trusted beta readers.

Write a synopsis for the novel in the style of the novel is written in.

Question the validity of every chapter in the novel. What is its purpose? How does it serve the story? Does it propel the action forward?

For short fiction, keep it compact—here compression is vital! Evaluate the plot, story flow, character motivation, cause and effect, and denouement.

Be able to say in a sentence or two what the novel is about—this is known as the “elevator pitch.” Be able to speak about your novel in an intelligent, cohesive, concise way.

Practice reading or reciting aloud. Time yourself. Learn to look up and out at the audience. If you’re reading fiction and you have different characters in the scene, change the tone of voice and inflection for your various characters! Read as slowly and distinctly as possible. Use beats and pauses for poetry.

I could go on and on, but these points are among the important ones.

Sherri: I agree with everything you’ve said but especially the “elevator pitch” and reading your work aloud.

I’m a bit of a foodie, I love the recipes you post on Twitter, do you have one you’d like to share as we move into cooler weather. I know, here in the south, cooler weather is a relative term, but not as sweltering sounds a bit unwieldy.

Nina: Three dishes come to mind. The first one is Pasta Piselli—a soupy pasta dish made with olive oil, onions, peas and tiny elbow, ditalini, or broken up spaghetti or linguine pasta. Additions can be any of these: tiny meatballs, mushrooms, bacon, ham, or fresh tomatoes! Use grated parmigiana or skip it. I serve it with either a fresh Ciabatta loaf, or toasted Tuscan bread.

Lentils—vegetarian style: In Italy I used to get the lentils from the island of Ventotene—one of the Pontine Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Now I use green, orange or almost any kind of lentils—I like Goya’s product. Add: olive oil, carrots, celery, zucchini, sweet potato, a golden potato, mushrooms, leeks, onions, garlic—any or all of these! If you eat meat, you can add cooked, sliced Italian pork sausage, or leftover pieces of lamb, beef steak or filet mignon. For some inexplicable reason, when I use lamb, I add a piece of very dark chocolate, which I call black like as a sinner’s soul!

Caldo Gallego (Galician white bean soup made with a nice chunk of prosciutto on the bone,

(I guess you could use a ham hock—I’ve never done that, but oh well—experiment!)

Add to the cooked beans: turnips, Yukon gold potatoes, and Swiss chard in that order. No salt, no pepper, no oil, no butter! It’s plenty rich!

Sherri: Are you traditionally published, indie or hybrid?

Nina: All of my books have been traditionally published by small, independent publishers.

Sherri: What are some of the struggles you have faced as an author?

Nina: Time to write is a big issue currently—my husband and I travel a great deal.

Finding beta readers I know and trust is difficult. I have one incredibly generous personal editor, Jane Brownley, who is always willing to read for me, and thank heavens she’s a veracious reader although she’s not a writer!

I struggle if I have to interrupt the flow of the writing because I feel I don’t know enough about a particular subject or thing. I stop writing to do more research. This can go on for days!

Sherri: What do you wish you’d known when you first started writing/publishing?

Nina: I should have trusted myself enough to have started younger.

Sherri: What is your next project?

Nina: My present WIP is one I began years ago and gave up on because it’s not my genre and it’s extremely challenging, although it is historical. Maybe this time I’ll finish it. The current stage of the manuscript is chaotic to say the very least. It’s set in the Soviet Union in 1956, after Stalin.

To conclude this lovely “chat”, please let me say a word about the in-depth quality of your interview—I’m so pleased you took the time to read my author’s bio and personal information about me before asking these profound questions. Thank you so much, Sherri. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Sherri: It has been an honor to have you visit Creekside Cafe. I hope someday we can meet in person.

(To learn more about Nina check out her biography and links below.)


Nina Romano earned a B. S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University, a B. A. in English, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University. She is a world traveler and lover of history. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years where many of her poems and stories are set, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. Romano has taught English and Literature as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University, and has interned for poets Marie Howe, Denise Duhamel, and C. K. Williams at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival.

Romano has facilitated poetry and creative writing workshops at the Ft. Lauderdale Main Library, the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, Bridle Path Press Baltimore, Lopez Island Library, Florida Gulf Coast University, Rosemary Beach Writers Conference, the Outreach Program of Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and Summit County Library.

Romano has presented several times at the Miami Book Fair International with her fiction and also with her poetry collections which include: Cooking Lessons from Rock Press, submitted for a Pulitzer Prize, Coffeehouse Meditations from Kitsune Books, She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding from Bridle Path Press, Faraway Confections, from Aldrich Press, and Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows from Red Dashboard, LLC. She has also had two poetry chapbooks published: Prayer in a Summer of Grace and Time’s Mirrored Illusion, both from Flutter Press, and a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, from Bridle Path Press.

She has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She has co-authored Writing in a Changing World.

Her short fiction, memoir and poetry appear in numerous reviews and literary journals. Excerpts from her novel, The Secret Language of Women, appear in Dimsum: Asia’s Literary Journal, Southern Women’s Review and Driftwood.

Romano has published the Wayfarer Trilogy with Turner Publishing. All three of the historical novels of the series were finalists in book contest awards, and Book 1, The Secret Language of Women, set in China, won the Independent Publisher 2016 IPPY Gold Medal. The other two novels are Lemon Blossoms, set in Sicily, and In America, set in New York.

Two short stories: “A Risky Christmas Affair” and “Dreaming of a Christmas Kiss,” have recently been released as E-books, and the latter, along with two Christmas poems, has been included in a Christmas anthology, Annie Acorn’s Christmas Treasury 2018.

Her latest novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a Western Historical Romance released in 2019. Currently, she is at work on a novel set in Russia.

List of all my published books


Historical, Literary Novels of The Wayfarer Trilogy:

The Secret Language of Women

 Lemon Blossoms

 In America

Historical, Western Romance:

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley

Short Story Collection

The Other Side of the Gates (on Amazon, but no new copies—the publisher and I went our separate ways. I have new copies)

Poetry Collections

Cooking Lessons (on Amazon)

Coffeehouse Meditations (on Amazon, but no new copies—the publisher passed away. I have copies.)

She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding (on Amazon, but no new copies—the publisher and I went our separate ways. I have copies)

Faraway Confections (on Amazon)

Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbeams (on Amazon)

Poetry Chapbooks (Unavailable on Amazon, but I have new copies)

Time’s Mirrored Illusion

Prayer in a Summer of Grace

Nonfiction book on Writing (a collaboration)

Writing in a Changing World (on Amazon)

My most recent book

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley

Amazon Link:

Book Description

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley

When Darby McPhee falls in love with Cayo Bradley, a wild cowboy from a nearby ranch, her world is ripped apart. Caught in a lifeless existence of caring for her father and brothers since her mother’s death, Darby does little else but work. But a death-bed promise to her mother to get her education now stands in the way of her heart’s desire to belong to the rough-and-tumble Cayo Bradley.

Darby is Cayo’s redemption from a horrific act in his past that torments him. After being captured as a young boy by the Jicarilla Apache, he now tries to settle back into white society—but how can he? If he loses Darby, he loses everything.

Darby is determined to keep her promise to her mother, but will Cayo wait for her? In this stunning tale of love and loss, Darby comes to understand that no matter what happens, she will always be THE GIRL WHO LOVED CAYO BRADLEY…

Blurbs from authors on book:

Romano’s story sizzles with the tension of lovers—one struggling to blend Apache ways and white, the other torn between East and West—searching for a way to join two lives going in opposite directions.

— Ruth Hull Chatlien, Blood Moon, and The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a superbly crafted romantic page-turner, is a deftly spun tale of ill-starred sweethearts in the American West. Darby, a charming farm girl, and Cayo, Apache raised, a secretive man with a disturbing past. Sparks ignite, burning intensely despite cruel circumstances to separate them—an expertly woven story with witty dialogue, fast-paced plot, and stunning, enchanting prose! 

— Michelle Cox, award-winning author of the Henrietta and Inspector Howard series.

The Secret Language of Women

Winner of the Independent Publishers Book Awards (Gold Medal, Romance)

Set in China in the late 1800’s, The Secret Language of Women tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Zhou Bin Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, driven apart by the Boxer Rebellion.

When Lian is seventeen years old, she accompanies her Swiss father, Dr. Gianluca Brasolin, fluent in Italian, to tend the Italian ambassador, at the Summer Palace of Empress Dowager, where she meets and falls in love with Giacomo.

Through voyage and adventure, their love intensifies, but soon is severed by Lian’s dutiful promise as the wife to another. Forbidden from pursuing her chosen profession as a healer, and despised because she does not have bound feet, she is forced to work in a cloisonné factory while her in-laws raise her daughter, Ya Chen. It is in Nushu, the women’s secret writing, that she chronicles her life and her hopes for the future.

Rebelling against the life forced upon her, she empowers herself to act out against the injustice and becomes the master of her own destiny. But her quest for freedom comes at a costly price: The life of someone close to her, lost in a raging typhoon, a grueling journey to the Yun-kang Caves, and a desperate search for beauty and love in the midst of brutality.


“Rich with history, The Secret Language of Women offers a beautiful and harrowing landscape of love found, lost, and hunted for – at all costs and with dire consequences. Like the bound feet, so idealized in her novel, Romano’s characters are broken and reformed into both the beautiful and the grotesque. Haunting.”  ― Barbara Wood, New York Times bestselling author

The Secret Language of Women is a powerful and enchanting read. A brilliantly well-written tale that takes readers on one woman’s journey. For fans of Romeo and Juliet fans this is a must read […] I loved reading Nina Romano’s stunning piece, and I recommend it to readers world wide.” –– San Francisco Book Review

“This is a beautiful story of hope and love stronger than any adversity. Very special historical fiction that is highly recommended!”  –– Historical Novel Society

“A stunning look at China at the turn of the twentieth century, this is a love story that crosses boundaries both cultural and geographic.”—Foreword Reviews

The Secret Language of Women is visionary, ambitious, and lyrically written. One comes to the end of it feeling as though she has traveled through a time machine, into a world so different, so vivid and real as to linger in the mind long after turning the last page.” –– Wraparound South

Book Description of The Secret Language of Women

This first book in the Wayfarer series from award-winning writer Nina Romano is a love story set against the backdrop of war and upheaval, an era infused with superstition, history, and exotic customs. The story explores the universal themes of love and the atrocities of war, affirming that even in the face of tragedy, enduring love brings hope.

A love story―set against the backdrop of war and upheaval, an era infused with superstition, history, and exotic customs―that explores the universal themes of love and the atrocities of war, affirming that even in the face of tragedy, enduring love brings hope.

Lemon Blossoms

2016 Finalist for Romance, Foreword INDIE

Angelica Domenico is born in a blossoming lemon grove, a prophetic fusion of sweet bloom and bitter fruit on an island governed by volcanoes and earthquakes.

In the continuation of Nina Romano’s epic Wayfarer Trilogy, an early childhood accident propels Angelica to battle trials in a world where proof of virginity is paramount. She suff ers the trauma of her aunt’s death in childbirth and is catapulted on a voyage towards the nunnery to seek refuge from a fear of intimacy. Fate intervenes on the Feast of Crucifixion when Giacomo Scimenti enters the family shop, and Angelica feels herself rent by lightning the instant they come face to face.

Lemon Blossoms is the story of Angelica’s struggle in pursuit of feminine identity and heritage while coping with the intricacies of loss, love, and yearning.

In America

2016 Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards Finalist

Beautiful, headstrong Marcella Scimenti has the affection of a handsome neighborhood boy, the love of her large Italian family, and serious dreams of singing in Hollywood. But the course of true love―nor the journey to finding one’s true self―never did run smooth.

In America follows the story of Marcella, the daughter of the characters at the center of Nina Romano’s continent-spanning Wayfarer Trilogy, as she comes of age in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the late 1920s.

In the trilogy’s heartwarming conclusion, Marcella must learn to balance new friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working girl with the expectations of her tradition-bound family, all against the backdrop of a looming economic depression and a changing world. Along the way, she unearths a devastating family secret that shakes her to her core and tests the boundaries of her love, loyalty, and faith.


Amazon Author:


Twitter: @ninsthewriter



The following 3 books of the Wayfarer Trilogy are in hard cover, softcover print, Kindle

Amazon: The Secret Language of Women  

Amazon: Lemon Blossoms

Amazon: In America

Amazon: The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley (Available in softcover print and Kindle)

Posted in event

Happy Birthday Marni “M K” Graff

with my mentor Marni Graff 2019 PWC

Happy birthday to this dear lady who is not just a friend but my mentor, too. When I first met Marni, she was hosting the Writer’s Read at a bakery in Washington. Her open heart and gentle manner made trusting her with my rough, less than eloquent prose, easier. I have often described sharing my writing as being like standing in a Walmart parking lot, naked, yelling look at me, look at me. Marni took some of the fear out of exposing myself to scrutiny.

Marni is an award winning cozy mystery author with two series. Her first series, the Nora Tierney British Cozy Mystery series set in England was her dream. She always wanted to write a series set in England and worked hard to make her dream come true.

Marni’s first novel

Marni is now finishing the fifth in her Nora Tierney series and has recently published the second of her Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries.

The second Trudy Genovia Manhattan Mystery Series

Marni has helped many people on the path to getting published. She isn’t just an award-winning author, she is an award-winning person.

So on this special day I’d like to take a moment to say thank you and happy birthday to this very special lady.

Posted in audio books, Book Review

Death at the Dakota

by M K Graff, Narrated by Lucinda Gainey (Audible)

While I read Death at the Dakota when it came out and loved this second Trudy Genova story, I have to tell you, listening to the audiobook is even better. Lucinda Gainey does an excellent job of portraying Trudy and narrating the story. She brings it to life and makes it feel like you’re in the movie.

I really love this series. Trudy is sweet and funny, and nosey. She is smart and sexy, too. Her relationship with NYPD Detective Ned O’Malley is so real. Yes, they come from different backgrounds, but their basic morality and ethics are the same. They fit together.

Trudy’s job as medical consultant for film and tv sounds like a fun job. The atmosphere at the Dakota adds to the story making it more intriguing and atmospheric. I love Trudy’s can-do spirit and determined personality. MK gives her readers a view of Trudy’s past without dumping it over our heads, a taste of what her future might be, i.e. her dream of writing a mystery series set in England. We, the reader feel we know Trudy and her friends. They come alive and the plot twists, setting and story are all part of the ride.

If you haven’t read the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries, you could start with this one, but I encourage you to also read the first one, Death Unscripted. If you like British cozy mysteries, check out M K Graff’s Nora Tierney series, I love them too and know you will. 

Posted in event, News

Pamlico Writers invade Aurora Fossil Festival

The Pamlico Writers’ Group will host a tent at the 26th annual Aurora Fossil Festival, Saturday, May 25th. Our members will take turns signing and selling books, and answering questions about our group’s upcoming events and regular critique meetings.

The Aurora/Richland Township Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Aurora Fossil Museum will welcome vendors, musicians and more to the town of Aurora Friday, May 24th. Opening ceremonies and entertainment on Friday evening start at 6 pm.

 Starting at 8 am on Saturday: vendors, rides, exhibitors with crafts, fossils, minerals, jewelry, food. Fossil displays, talks, digs and an auction that supports the museum, 5K run, veterans breakfast, parade, and more …

Tammera Cooper, author of the Water Street Chronicles

Tammera will have the newest addition to her series, the Water Street Chronicles, “Sleeping Mallows,” as well as her first book, “Drenched Sunflowers.” (Look for more about Tammera in our upcoming chat.)

Alison Paul Klakowicz author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

For Alison Paul Klakowicz, the Fossil Festival is a homecoming. Stop by and visit, buy a book and learn what other projects she had planned. (You can also check out our previous interview!)

Donna Holloman, author of YA Christian thriller

Retired nurse and former Children’s Church minister, LaDonna Holloman shares her faith through her fiction. Come check out this exciting young adult Christian Fantasy/mystery. (Check out our interview coming soon on this website!)

S L Hollister, author of the Leeward Files series

Local author, S L Hollister will have her latest book, “Titanium Blue,” on sale along with the rest of her Leeward Files series. (Leeward is the fictional version of Aurora, complete with Fossil Festival.)

Presenting Jim Keen with his service award for his years of dedication to the Pamlico Writers
James Keen, author of Trinidad Express, a true account of his sailing adventure.

Jim Keen is the finance officer, webmaster and former chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group. He is an avid sailor and writes non-fiction about sailing and family.

The second book in M K Graff’s Manhattan Mystery Series
“Marni” M K Graff, award-winning author, speaker and mentor.

M K Graff is the award-winning author of the British cozy mystery, Nora Tierney series and the Trudy Genova, Manhattan Mysteries. She is a favorite of Pamlico Writers’ conference attendees.

Stop by and visit, let’s talk books and writing. We’d love to meet you.

See you at the Aurora Fossil Festival.

Posted in Creekside Cafe, interview

On the Porch with Marni “M K” Graff

Today I am so excited to have my writing mentor and friend, Marni Graff, visiting at the Creekside Café.

Marni: It’s great to be here.

Sherri: You’re not originally from North Carolina?

Marni: I’m a Yankee from Long Island, but this is my 23rd year in eastern NC. My husband and I live in Hyde County along the Pungo River, with our two Aussie Doodles, Seamus and Fiona. Our rural life took getting used to, but it was a deliberate choice and we’ve never looked back. There’s a friendliness to southern people we quite enjoy, bless their little hearts!

The Briary Riverfront

Sherri: You and your husband are very friendly too, y’all fit right in except for the accent. I’m a big fan of your books but I have to admit I love your Trudy Genova series, perhaps because I see you in Trudy.

Marni: The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries grew out of my job as a medical consultant for a New York movie studio, and that’s the job Trudy does. I like to say Trudy’s a prettier, younger version of me, as she’s 27 or so and I did that job in my 40s. In that series, I’m pulling directly from my experience on set.

Sherri: You were a nurse before becoming a writer?

Marni: I was a nurse for 30 years who always wrote on the side as I studied writing, everything from screenplays to poetry. I still write poetry from time to time. I wrote feature articles for a NY nursing journal, and that journalism experience led to a job doing interviews for Mystery Review magazine for 7 years, great background once I’d decided crime was where I’d focus my writing.

It was extremely helpful being able to interview and pick the brains of many writers I admired in the crime realm, including meeting and having a friendship with my heroine, PD James, the Queen of British Mystery, from 2000 until her death. Over our 15-year friendship, I would visit when I went to England doing setting research for my Nora Tierney English Mysteries, and in between, exchange emails and letters. She, and her assistant, Joyce McLennan, became dear friends, and I still see Joyce when I go across the pond about every other year. Both were always supportive of my writing, but it was the Baroness who insisted that I use my nursing background and the unusual job I had before retiring to start a second series.

In the Nora Tierney English Mysteries, Nora is an American writer living in England. Hers was the first mysteries I wrote, The Blue Virgin, and I’d say the organizational skills I learned in nursing have helped me plot and keep track of ideas. I start off knowing the ending and work backwards, with the opening outlined a bit and then go from there. I call the “muddled middle” the part I leave to happenstance, but knowing where I need to end up is extremely helpful to me.

Sherri: You write full-time now, but you have a busy life and you’re always willing to help other writers.

Marni: I have the luxury of writing full time now, and also write a crime review blog, Auntie M Writes, where I review about 150 books a year ( I’m also the Managing Editor of Bridle Path Press, a curated author’s cooperative out of Baltimore, MD. At any one time, I may be shepherding another author’s book through its final stages of production while I’m proofreading my own next book. It all keeps me busy.

I’ve been presenting with Pamlico Writers since its inception and love watching how it’s grown!  From the germ of an idea, the group has moved to the Turnage Theatre and with it, expanded under your careful guidance to encompass so many genres and types of writing that I feel it’s the most inclusive conference in our area.

I enjoy talking to writers at any level, and last year I talked about Beginnings and this year Getting Started, how to get your story idea rattling around in your head to the page. Perhaps the best part for me is the question and answer part, where anything goes! It often forces me to take a look at my own motivations and writing that I hadn’t bothered to have to formulate an answer to before. That helps me continue to grow, too.

Marni and Sherri at the 2019 Pamlico Writer’s Conference

Sherri: I think that is one of the things I’ve learned from you. No matter where we are in our own writing, there is still more to learn if we are open to it. I have been blessed to be a part of your Writers’ Read in Belhaven and the Pamlico Writers’ Group. Since becoming the chairperson, I’ve tried to emulate your style, but no one does it like you. I love talking to you about writing, well, truthfully, I love talking to you about anything.

You talked of writing even while working as a nurse. How long have you been writing seriously? Have you always been a writer?

Marni: I was a reader first and believe any writer must be one. I could read when I started kindergarten and books have been my solace and my pleasure. I started writing bad poetry in junior high and wrote for the school paper in high school. There was always something going on that required me to write but I didn’t call myself a writer until I published in the nursing journal.

I wrote my first mystery on LI between 1994-5 when working at the movie studio but lost the entire manuscript when our house burned down. That one had a British male detective temporarily working at the Frick Museum in NY as security for an exhibit of artifacts connected to a famous painting, Ingres’ portrait of Comtesse de Haussonville. It’s a mirror painting, showing the rather plain young woman facing the viewer but leaning against a dresser and the mirror shows the back of her head and elaborate hairstyle. I was in the Frick one day when this painting was on exhibit, along with the many artifacts that are strewn across the dresser’s top. That was my inspiration for the story. There’s a theft, a hint of romance, a bit of action.

Once the manuscript was gone, as were my backups, I let it go and haven’t tried to resurrect it again. When I was given the opportunity a few years later to study in Oxford, I had already started the first Nora Tierney and being there had me start the series in Oxford so I could return Nora there over time. What is now the second book in the series, set in the Lake District, was originally the first until I’d been to Oxford.

Minack Theater, Cornwall, carved in the side of a cliff overlooking the sea.

Sherri: As a fan, I am familiar with your work but how would you describe the kind of books you write? What genre do they fall into? Do you plan to write any other genre in the future?

Marni: I write traditional mysteries, character-driven where the plot or puzzle is solved in each volume but there are continuing characters. Since most of mine take place in smaller town or environments and focus more on the victim than the gory details of his or her murder, they’re often called cozies. To me, they are a mixture of the cozy amateur sleuth and police procedurals, as there is always the viewpoint of the detective on the case. This holds true for both series.

I didn’t see myself writing anything different until I started the most recent Nora book, The Golden Hour. In that one, I moved from a straight “whodunit” to a “cantheystophim?” The reader knows how the bad guy is up front; it’s more a case if he can be stopped from bringing his psychopathic ideas to fruition.  I am trying to let my readers feel they are not going to read the same book over and over. This one surprised me as it was first time I’d developed and written a psychopathic character and I had great fun doing it!

You can relate to that as you have a gift for romantic suspense. So, while that may take different forms, you are drawn to that kind of story when you write that has high human emotional stakes with a bit of mystery and tensions thrown in.

So, while I’m comfortable in my niche, drawn to mystery because that’s what I like to read, I won’t say I won’t every dabble in something else.

At Malice Domestic Mystery Convention with VERA actress, Brenda Blethyn.

Sherri: I’m so excited about your latest book but I won’t spill the beans. Tell our audience about your latest projects?

Marni: I’m just wrapping the second Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery, Death at the Dakota. Trudy is watching over the star, newly pregnant actress Monica Kiley, when she goes missing. At the same time, her boyfriend, NYPD detective Ned O’Malley, has been given a murder case where the victim is unable to be identified, after being thrown in a dumpster and set on fire. Then an actor on Trudy’s set is murdered. So, we have two killers and two cases running alongside each other. Again, an attempt to keep readers’ interest. The Dakota is a famous NY landmark apartment building, home to many famous people over the years, and probably most known to modern readers as the place where John Lennon lived and was killed just outside it. In reality, they don’t allow filming interiors at all, but in Trudy’s world they do! The TV movie is being shot in what used to be the Leonard Bernstein apartment, as I managed to get a floor plan layout and we are thinking of including that in the book. I hope to have it in print between May 1st and June 1st.

Meanwhile, I’ve been gathering my usual research in a folder and am not starting to plot out the opening of the next Nora Tierney Mystery. This one will take place mostly in Oxford with scenes in Cambridge. Its working title is An Amethyst’s Remembrance, a line from an Emily Dickinson poem. As that series all have a color in their title and a color wash over the cover images, I bet you can tell what that color will be!

Latest novel, second in the Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries

Sherri: It is obvious, you love writing, what do you enjoy most about the process?

Marni: I enjoy the discovery; the plotting and devising the characters, playing with their fictional lives. I love when two characters I’ve come to know well will be having a conversation and it almost writes itself. I love when I start to write something, and it feels terribly wrong and I realize Nora or Trudy or Ned or Declan would never say that! It’s like having these little people running around inside your head all the time, giving you directions!

Sherri: Like anything we love, there is often a flipside, what do you dislike about being a writer?

Marni: Promotion. NOT meeting readers or speaking to them. That part I love, that connection. But spending time on social media promoting myself when I’d rather be writing gets to me at times. It’s why I limit myself to two: FB and Twitter, or I don’t think I’d get any writing done! But that’s a quibble, a necessary evil. Almost all of writing and its process I adore, having waited so long to be able to do it.

Jim Lupton, Marni and Sherri at Riverwalk Gallery book signing in Washington.

Sherri: Interviewing is thirsty work, can I interest you in a drink? I think I’ll have a strawberry lemonade with vodka. You?

Marni: A vodka gimlet always goes down nicely, heavy on the lime juice please!

Sherri: I’ve visited your house a few times and we’ve had several covered dish events, I know you are an excellent cook. Do you have a favorite dish or recipe?

Marni: I’m fond of making cassoulet, a French peasant stew that has great northern beans, other beans you want to add, pork sausage, bacon and whatever other meat you have on hand. The original recipe calls for duck but how many of us have that around? Since it simmers for hours in the oven, it’s a nice thing to start early on a rainy day and forget for a while, and if you have the sausage and who in a southern kitchen doesn’t have bacon, you’re set.

Sherri: I don’t know when you would have time for hobbies or other interests with your busy writing schedule and family, but do have any other interests or pursuits besides writing? Do these show up in your stories?

Marni: I enjoy music, from classical to jazz, especially the American Songbook years and singers: Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, Chet Baker, etc. So, you’ll see that music pop up here and there, along with more modern musicians like Diana Krall and Michael Buble` who sing it. I used to like to hike, and years ago did parts of the Appalachian Trail, but those days are behind me with three back surgeries. If I’m not reading, which I do voraciously, about three novels a week, I like a good movie, especially old ones…

Nicola Upson, Marni and Mandy Morton having tea at The Orchard, Grantchester, UK

Sherri: What do you feel are your writing strengths and weaknesses?

Marni: I think I’m a decent plotter and since I do bibles for my recurring characters, feel I have a handle on them. I’d say my weakness is procrastination. I am easily distracted by anything going on, especially my family. That being said, I have learned to write with the TV on when my husband is watching it!

Sherri: Family can be a big distraction. I have a large one and I love them, but I have found I have to set boundaries and let them know I’m writing. Most of the time they are pretty good. I also try to have the work done before they are expected, it is the unexpected that is more difficult to juggle. My biggest setback now is my obligations with the Pamlico Writers’ Group. I’m sure you know, an active group requires a lot of leadership and it can’t grow if we’re not active. I’m still hoping others will take a more active role in programming. I lean heavily on our core group, many of who have other groups and their own busy writing and family lives. It’s a struggle but, I love it.

Marni’s handsome husband, Doc and their lapdog, Seamus.

Marni: That’s true, and one reason I stopped the Writers Read group after eight years. The Pamlico Writers Group really filled in that space and it wasn’t needed while I need to devote that time to my writing. You need to find a balance. My advice to you: delegate more!

Sherri: Who are your favorite authors or who has most influenced your own writing?

Marni: That’s a loaded question! If we are talking classics, I love Dickens, Austen, the Brontes and Wilkie Collins. Daphne Du Maurier was a big influence on my writing, as were the Golden Agers, esp. Christie, Sayers and Ngaio Marsh and of course, Morse’s Colin Dexter.  If you ask about modern reading and authors, non-crime it would be Ian McEwan, William Kuhn, Alan Bennett and Kate Atkinson, but for crime, there are so many I could list, in no particular order:

Dead but more modern authors would be PD James, Ruth Rendell, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill. I defy any writer to read a book by one of these and not enjoy it. Hill’s Dalziel and Pascoe embodies humor, highly original characters, elevated writing, all wrapped up in a complex plot. His Dialogues of the Dead is perfect for any wordsmith.

If you like historicals, read Alan Bradley’s Flavia deLuce series.

If you like different cultures and to learn something while in the midst of a good mystery, read Ausma Zehant Khan.

If you like mystery light with humor, you’ll love Judith Flanders

For contemporary authors: Ann Cleeves, Elly Griffiths, Susan Hill, Jane Casey, Val McDermid, Anthony Horowitz, Tana French, Elizabeth George, Sophie Hannah, Frances Fyfield, Stuart MacBride, James Oswald, Peter Robinson, Michael Robotham, Mark Billingham, Nicola Upson, Sarah Ward, Ian Rankin, Tracee deHahn  and Louise Penny head the list of those whose books I gobble up when they come out.

So many books, so little time  . . .

Little sister, Fiona

Sherri: f you could change anything about your writing/publishing past, what would it be? 

Marni: Nothing. I’m blessed to be here doing what I love. But I do think if I’d been able to start writing at a younger age, I’d have a wider audience. I have had a lovely NY agent at the oldest literary agency, Curtis Brown, for 19 years and he’s never sold one of my books . . .

Sherri: What words of wisdom would you offer to aspiring writers? 

Marni: READ: everything you can get your hands on and more in the genre you feel you want to write in. PERSIST– There are so many avenues to publishing these days.

REVISE: Never put out a first draft of anything. That’s a lump of clay you must hone and polish and make beautiful.

KEEP good reference books on your desk: a good dictionary, a good thesaurus and one good usage book. I am partial to DREYER’s ENGLISH by Benjamin Dreyer, which is as humorous as it is useful.  You can Google all you want, but it’s quicker sometimes and gives your typing hands a break to look things up in a real book.

Sherri: You have a way with words. I love the little notes you send me, stationary is always unique and pretty.

Marni: I’ve always loved books and words. Words matter to me. Names, too. I spend time choosing just the right ones for characters, but their sound, meaning, or heritage. I can get lost in a paper store and come out with stationery and pens and things I don’t really need. Ditto bookstores, of course.

Sherri: I love finding unusual items in bookstores and little shops, like the one at Fearington Village.

So much is available online now from research to shopping but it doesn’t quite match the feeling of walking into a store or museum and seeing things for yourself.

Marni: I love doing research, too, and often get sidetracked on an obtuse alleyway from my original purpose. There’s just so much fascinating stuff out there!

It’s why I love museums. All of that good stuff from eons ago just waiting to be discovered.

Sherri: I often wish I could go back in time and experience what it was like in history. I think the turn of the century, early 1900s would be a fascinating time with all the new inventions and discoveries. So much was happening so quickly.

Marni: That’s one of my favorite periods, the Edwardians, except for the corsets of course, and the fact women were considered the property of men. But it heralded that the world was changing, from the Suffragettes movement to the music of Scott Joplin and early Jazz.

Sherri: I could sit and talk to you for hours and hours, but our time is running out. Is there anything you’d like to say before we say good bye?

Marni: I think good manners go a long way in any situation. It costs nothing to be nice to someone. I complimented a woman I don’t know on her purse yesterday because it was loud and colorful, and she had sad face on her when we crossed paths outside Food Lion. Her face lit up. You can’t put a price on making someone’s day a little bit better when it costs you nothing.

I think we need to treat our elders better than we do. They are not outdated or outmoded. In their time, they were the cat’s pajamas and did all sorts of things we can’t even imagine. Well, most of them. They have years of experience in human nature we could learn from it we’d bother to sit and listen.

That’s it~off my soapbox.

Sherri: I agree and feel kindness is something we should all strive for. Treat others the way we wish to be treated. Thank you, Marni for visiting me at Creekside and I hope to see you in person very soon.

Marni Graff@GraffMarni

The Trudy Genova Manhattan Mysteries:

Death at the Dakota
Death at the Dakota Book 2Death Unscripted Book 1 Finalist: IAN Mystery Award; Shortlisted: Mystery and Mayhem, Chanticleer Book Reviews

The Golden Hour Nora Tierney English Mysteries:The Golden Hour Book 4:Shortlisted: Mystery and Mayhem Award, Chanticleer Book ReviewsThe Blue Virgin: Book 1 WINNER: Classic British Cozy, Chanticleer Book Reviews
The Green Remains: Book 2WINNER: Classic British Cozy, Chanticleer Book ReviewsThe Scarlet Wench: Book 3 Shortlisted: Best Mystery, Chanticleer Book Reviews

A vodka gimlet: 1 part sweetened lime juice, 4 parts vodka, over ice or straight up, garnish with a slice of lime

1 shot of strawberry vodka
1 shot citrus vodka
your favorite lemonade
frozen strawberries and lemon slices
Posted in Book Review, inspiration, my books, Thoughts, writing inspiration

Seven Favorite Books

I recently played a game on Instagram showing pictures of my favorite books for a week. Only one book per day, how could I limit my favorite books to only seven? I choose books that held a memory, a turning point or something that touched my life. I could only use pictures, no words to tell you how these books affected me. As a writer, I felt compelled to share why I chose these seven books. I could list so many books that have changed my life, given me hope or perspective, or simply opened my eyes. Perhaps I’ll do another article and tell you about more books and what they have meant to me.

Day one: Sabrina Jeffries’ “The Truth about Lord Stoneville.”6545791e-f532-4a3c-8c1a-b5b18efa2ec3-40633-00000a0270c53c39

I have been a fan of Sabrina Jeffries for many years but in truth, the love I have for this book is more about my husband, than about Ms. Jeffries. This is the book David bought for me after our house burned down. Now, many of you will question, why a book when we needed underwear and socks and so much more. I am a book-aholic. Books are the escape that helps me deal with the realities of life. Reading relaxes me and renews my spirit. I needed a book like a drunkard needs a drink.

I’d had tubs of books in our old house, many of which can never be replaced. David understood my need for a book and he took care of that need.  He took me, weary and half-crazed, to Books-a-Million and told me I could have any book I wanted. The display of Sabrina Jeffries’ newest book caught my eye. I’d read her School for Heiresses series and they always made me smile. I needed that levity in my life right then.

Disappearing into a book for a few minutes each day allowed me to regain my composure and prepared me to take on the next phase of our life. The pages of “The Truth about Lord Stoneville” entertained me and allowed me to travel to a time where someone else’s woes were more important than anything happening in real life, for a brief respite anyway. I loved this series, The Hellions of Halstead Hall, and appreciate all the hours of reprieve I was able to enjoy thanks to the talents of Ms. Sabrina Jeffries.


Day two: “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith


I read this book as a young teen and discovered the strength of women. I was still under the illusion that my mother wasn’t very strong and wanted to rebel against her gentleness and humility. This book gave me a better understanding of women, my mother and even myself. I saw through Francie’s eyes the hardships women often go through and the things they will do or put up with in order to secure a better future for their children.

There are many correlations between Francie’s life and my own, though thankfully my dad wasn’t a drunkard, nor a singing waiter. My dad was an electrician who owned his own business and later began working construction. Anyone who has dealt with construction knows it is an insecure lifestyle. Dad once told me, when he still had his own business that, either everybody wanted you or nobody did. I also saw my parents, especially my mother work hard on a job then come home and work some more. I didn’t appreciate all they did to make a life for me until I too began making a home for my own family.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” also opened my eyes to a different place, a different time and the sameness of life. It is the book that made me look at people and wonder at their stories. How was their life different from mine, how was it the same? There are still parts of this story that come to mind forty years later. It is a classic, for it still has wisdom to impart.

Day three: “Shanna” by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss


I chose this book because it was the first historical romance I’d ever read. It began my love for the genre and it was the first book I ever read that I was able to discuss with friends.

My friend’s step-mom, Jean, had just finished the book and I saw it. It looked interesting and I asked to read it. I devoured the book. I stayed up late at night with my lamp under the covers reading this book. My firefighter friends are freaking out about the lamp under the covers. I melted the back of the lamp. It was never the same afterwards, but then, neither was I.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the “bodice rippers” of the seventies and eighties. How romance gave us unreal expectations for life. The truth is, these books showed us what brave women might go through to gain their freedom. That a woman in history must learn to fight for what she wants and be willing to go against societies’ expectations. One of my favorite slogans is: “Women who behave, rarely make history.” I believe that is also true of historical fiction, but it is definitely true of change.

Gloria Steinem and the women’s movement were not the first women to fight conformity. All through history women have sought their independence, their right to an education, to own property, to become doctors, scientists, etc. Romance novels encourage women to be who they are. It’s okay to be a wife and mother and take care of the home, but it is also fine to do something different. Here, amid the pages of these books, we learn to believe there are other options. Romance novels are a feminist movement.

Day four: Corrie Ten Boom’s “The Hiding Place”


This book may surprise some of you who have read my novel “Chrome Pink.” Believe it or not, I attended three years of Christian private school and went to a Free Will Baptist college. These were both good and bad experiences. Attending a Christian school opened my eyes to religion in many ways. Unfortunately, it also created more questions and obstacles to my own faith.

Still, I consider myself a Christian, though I know I don’t always live up to that title. Thankfully, it is by grace and not my works that I am saved. Like all religions, it is about belief, faith and seeking understanding.

“The Hiding Place,” takes place during world war two. It is about the war and its atrocities, but it is mostly about a woman’s faith, strength and courage. Corrie Ten Boom and her family were Dutch. They rescued many Jews, believing it was their duty as Christians. They risked their own lives and their freedom to help others.

To do the right thing often comes with a high price tag. To risk it all for people who didn’t even believe the same as they did is mindboggling. The Ten Boom family were caught and incarcerated, most of the family died in prison. Corrie tells of the life before the concentration camps and after they were imprisoned. It is a moving story of love for her family, especially her sister, and a story that will inspire you no matter your religion. As a Christian, it was a measuring stick of faith, as a woman, it was a measure of courage.



Day five: “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett


My class read this book when I was in the third grade (just a few years ago). My teacher, Ms. Krigger had us do a craft project about the story. This was my first solo craft project and my first to explain a story. Crafting, reading and writing have been my loves ever since.

I’d always loved to have mama read me a story or listen when stories were read in class. I was finally developing the ability to read and understand big chapter books on my own and the world was opening up to me. Having a teacher that encouraged us to experience books in different ways: book reports, craft projects, discussion, etc. made reading even more fun. It is a love that has lasted a lifetime.

Day six: Jayne Ann Krentz’ “Eclipse Bay”


I’m not positive “Eclipse Bay” is the first book I read by Jayne Ann Krentz. I started reading Amanda Quick’s historical romances and loved them. I’d read through everything the library could get for me and wanted more. My friend, Robina suggest I read Jayne Ann Krentz, but she wrote contemporary romances. I didn’t read contemporary romances. The only books I wanted to read were historicals or histories. Then Robina told me Jayne was Amanda and urged me to give it a try. From there I was hooked. I also read her futuristic science fiction romance novels penned under Jayne Castle.

Not only did this open up my reading to more genres but it also opened my writing to more. I’d been trying to write a great historical romance, doing years of research and writing and then hiding it all under the bed, except for the one that disappeared inside the computer to never been seen again. This was before the cloud and before I’d learned to back everything up on disc and later thumb drives. It was because of Jayne Ann Krentz that I started trying to write contemporary romance, she is also the one who influenced my suspense/thriller side.

Day seven: “The Blue Virgin” by M K Graff


I debated adding “The Blue Virgin” to the list. There are so many books to name but the truth is, without “The Blue Virgin” there would be no “Chrome Pink.”

I have said it a few times, how Marni Graff is my mentor and without her I would not be published. I met Marni shortly before she published “The Blue Virgin.” She had started a group called “The Writers’ Read.” We met in a bakery on Main Street in Washington until the bakery closed. Marni, then moved the group to Belhaven. I and a group of friends started traveling to Belhaven every couple of months because we loved the format Marni used to help writers. Her critiquing and discussions allowed us to learn in a free flow of information and questions. Her encouragement, passion for writing and her willingness to proof read and critique were invaluable but the greatest gift she gave me, was her belief in me and my talent. She even pitched my story to an agent she met at a conference.

Marni, my librarian little sister Robina, my big sis Denise, my sons, my husband and our parents, friends and neighbors have all pushed, encouraged, listened and celebrated my first book. Each of them has had a part in seeing my dream come true. Each of these books I have chosen has been an influence on me as a person and as a writer. There are more books, more authors, more stories but that is for another today. I hope when you read a book, you will find solace, excitement, enlightenment and perhaps a little inspiration. If some day, that book is one I wrote, then I will have fulfilled a dream. Happy reading!


Posted in event

Author Event

The Hazel Guilford Memorial Library &
The Word Weavers Writers Group of Aurora
Invite You to an
Author Event with Authors:
M K Graff and Allen Paul
At the Hazel Guilford Memorial Library
Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 6 pm Until

M K Graff aka Marni Graff of the Belhaven Writers Read will present The Scarlet Wench the third book in her Nora Tierney mystery series. Nora is the girl next door, if you lived in a picturesque town in England. She’s an American writer, a new mother, staying with her friend and illustrator and helping him run his lodge. It is a cozy mystery with a bit of romance and a special little twist and another, Blythe Spirit.
Marni is well known to the writers in Beaufort and Hyde Counties as she devotes much of her precious time to mentoring young and not-so-young writers. She has been a part of the Pamlico Writers Conference and will be a speaker at the 2015 conference. She is an accomplished speaker, traveler, nurse and writer, you won’t want to miss this.
Allen Paul, Aurora’s Local Celebrity is the acclaimed author of Katyn a Massacre in Poland
Has just penned a story on the lighter side of life in honor of his dog Honey, the American dingo
Honey, The Dixie Dingo Dog
It is a Middle Grade book designed for dog lovers of all ages. This is the kind of book you love to read when you are five or fifty. It is southern humor and charm, it brings to life the character of the dog honey and makes you want to go out and find your own Dixie Dingo and Alpha Mom.
It is especially dear to me as I have a grand-dog who we thought was a Chihuahua mix, we’re pretty sure is an ancestor of Honey.
Two of the Most interesting People you’ll ever meet in one room