Friday, September 24, 2010

Guest Blogger, Mary Jane Maffini

It’s my pleasure to welcome award-winning author Mary Jane Maffini as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress today.

Mary Jane’s latest Charlotte Adams book is CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL (Berkley Prime Crime, July 2010) and it’s the fourth in the series. She says she’s grateful for all the tips she gets from Charlotte. During her visit here today she’s going to talk about, well I’ll let her explain.

Oops, she’s out of the books and into my head!

It’s a beautiful September day. The sun is filtering through the trees and I am thinking about all the things in life that make me feel lucky. I was fortunate to have parents who had a house full of books and encouraged me to love books and reading. I hit the jackpot in my friends and family and colleagues who are fun and supportive. They’re quite booky too, now that I think about it.

I also feel blessed in a being part of a community of readers who share book information, opinions and friendship. Naturally, I’m grateful to Mason Canyon for inviting me to Thoughts in Progress, another wonderful community of book people. Of course, all these people (and you) are real.  But I am also lucky to be connected to some folks who are not quite so real.

When I say not real, I mean figments of my imagination. That’s right. In particular I am talking about Charlotte Adams, professional organizer, amateur sleuth and general busybody, a creation of my fevered brain.  I suppose this is a good time for me to confess that I am not naturally organized although I do have a organizer sleuth who has solved murders in four – soon to be five – mysteries.

There’s a reason we came together. I am a naturally chaotic
person and could easily leave a trail of debris, but I’m also a person who can’t create unless things around me are reasonably serene. I can’t have the stress of tripping over clutter, searching for lost papers, and missing appointments. That is why over the years I have purchased every organizing book and magazine I could get my mitts on, as well as watching shows such as Clean Sweep and Neat.  The tips and techniques have done wonders for me. I will always be a natural Little Miss Messy, but now my house is in reasonable shape, I am not ashamed to open my closet door, I can write two books a year and I maintain a pretty effective To Do list.

Things aren’t perfect, but they are under control. I owe all of that to organizers. When I realized just how much an organizer learns about clients from helping with their homes, offices and lives, I thought this would make a perfect job for an amateur sleuth. And, sure enough, Charlotte Adams has never let me down. From the beginning in ORGANIZE YOUR CORPSES she has foiled criminals, solved storage problems and bumped heads with the police. Of course, she does tend to get arrested wearing her frog jammies and pink fluffy slippers, but we wouldn’t her to get too conceited, would we?

Charlotte has dealt with overall organizing in a hoarding situation in ORGANIZE YOUR CORPSES, with out of control collections in THE CLUTTERED CORPSE, with office chaos in DEATH LOVES A MESSY DESK and most recently, closet chaos, in CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL. Coming soon will be THE BUSY WOMAN’S GUIDE TO MURDER and, you guessed it, time management.

Charlotte is organized and kind. She offers an organizing tip at the beginning of each chapter. I have tried and benefited from each of these tips. They’re a little extra treat for my readers who
One way to stash yarn
are free to enjoy or ignore them. We are, after all, adults. We know what we need.  Here’s a little sample that hasn’t appeared in a book yet: recycle those plastic boxes that prewashed salad mix or spinach come in and use them to store yarn or other craft supplies. They’re nicely stackable, FREE, and you can see the contents at a glance.

Now, if only Charlotte would confine her opinions to her books. I have to confess that she can get to me. For instance, now, after I’ve taken three trips in rapid succession, my desk is piled with business cards to be filed, notes to follow up on, email addresses to be added to my mailing list, that kind of thing. I hear her imaginary voice telling me to ‘get at it’. And I will as soon as I finish talking to you.  Never mind, it’s a good thing I hear that
Charlotte's new shoes!
voice. I still need Charlotte, but I think she’s lucky to have me too. Who else would bail her out of jail and give her all those fabulous shoes and the cute little dogs?

Am I the only one with a relationship with a fictional character? Is there someone in a book who has an impact on you? Or is there information that has changed your life? Over to you, readers … Thanks for being with me today!

Oh, M.J., thank you for stopping by today and sharing these thoughts with us. I, for one, am glad you have Charlotte as a figment of your imagination so that we can also get to know her.

Since we know a little about Charlotte, now let me tell you a little about Mary Jane. She is a lapsed librarian, a former mystery bookstore owner and a lifelong lover of mysteries. She is a former President of Crime Writers of Canada and served two terms on the board of directors of the Canadian Booksellers Association. In addition to the four Charlotte Adams books, Mary Jane is the author of the Camilla MacPhee series, the Fiona Silk adventures and nearly two dozen short stories. She has won two Arthur Ellis awards for best mystery short story as well as the Crime Writers of Canada Derrick Murdoch award and was nominated for a Barry Award in
Daisy and Lily in pearls.

Mary Jane is a frequent speaker on crime fiction, Canadian mysteries and the writing process. She lives and plots in Ottawa, Ontario, along with her long-suffering husband and two princessy dachshunds. For more information on  Mary Jane and her writing, visit her website at

I also have a book trailer of CLOSET CONFIDENTIAL to share. Enjoy!


  1. I read Closet Confidential recently, and liked it a lot. A classic whodunnit.

  2. Mary Jane, thanks again for blogging here today. If only I could be as organized as Charlotte.

    Rayna, thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a wonderful day. I'm off to work for awhile. Check back later this afternoon.

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Mary Jane.

    Mary Jane - Thanks for sharing with us a little about what you've learned from Charlotte. It's interesting how we can learn from our own characters, isn't it? Oh, and I love your dachshunds; I grew up with dachshunds and have a real fondness for them.

  4. Mason, thanks for hosting. Mary Jane, you make me want to organize. I totally like writing in as serene environment as possible. Clutter is an enemy.

    Your book sounds wonderful.


  5. Well, lookie here! One of my favorite writers at one of my favorite blogs!

    Mary Jane - I'm in the process of trying to channel Charlotte right now. Two pack rats living in a teeny little house is presenting some problems. Problems which are now reaching the critical stage and honestly - I'm at a loss. Time for me to re-read some of Charlotte's Helpful Hints!

  6. I need clutter-free space to work, too, or else my thoughts feel cluttered. I like the organizing tip starting each chapter, a nice takeaway for the reader!

  7. I get the feeling I should catch up and read these! Charlotte could be very inspiring and maybe by the time I host the family Christmas Eve, it wouldn't be such a cleaning frenzy too close to the holidays!

  8. Well, what a nice turnout!
    Thanks, Rayna, I am glad you liked Closet Confidential.

    Mason, I am tickled to be here.

    Dachshunds are always in the heart, Margo!

    Nice to meet you, Teresa!

    And lookie, back atcha, Kaye. Love the glasses.

    Joanne - I agree - the quest for clutter-free space is important!

    Holderj - I'd love to have Charlotte in a Christmas organizing book.

    Thanks everyone! MJ

  9. I could certainly use Charlotte in my life. Love the shoes!

  10. I do have a character who wants me to spend more time with her. Her name is Lizzie & she's constantly tapping me on the shoulder and saying, 'time to get back to writing'. I often heed her call, that is when I'm not reading all these wonderful blogs.
    Maybe Charlotte (whom I love!) could offer a workshop on blog management!

  11. Thanks, Carol. They hardly hurt at all.

    Erika - Charlotte will call you. Sounds like a plan.

  12. Mary Jane, what an interesting premise to build a character and series around.

    I hear you on the serentiy/order in the household. I was doing so well until I was injured. It's amazing how much clutter reproduced in that time. Now, I'm trying to again declutter and get my house back into order. right now, it takes a lot of energy that I don't have in abundance quite yet. Blech.

    Mason, thank you for bringing our attention to another interesting author. :-)

  13. It' sounds like a great book, that's for the great blog post. I think the idea of reusing clear salad containers is amazing! Thanks for that.


  14. Hi MJ,

    I love when I read books and there are tips, recipes and interesting tidbits. You never know when you'll need them.

  15. Sia - I hope your energy comes back soon and you heal quickly.

    Glad you like the tip, Clarissa!

    Hey you, Miss Dru! You are already organized, I know it.

  16. WOW! What a GREAT IDEA!!! I love the sound of this book--I have TONS of books on getting organized and have considered hiring someone and I LOVE this idea. How FUN!

  17. I definitely have relationships with my fictional characters--and other people's!

  18. Organizing corpses… There's my problem!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.