About M.M. Harden
When I was five, I used juicy leaves from a jade plant to write sh—t on the neighbor’s house. Sh—t was my mother’s favorite word—she said it when mad, when happy, when surprised. Somehow, I managed to spell it correctly. My neighbors were not impressed with my early writing, and after a tongue-lashing, I was scrubbing it off with a brush and bucket of soapy water. Not long after, I kissed a neighbor boy on the roof of our backyard shed, where I giggled so hard I tumbled into the shrubs below. My mother said sh—t twice then. One for the bones I didn’t break and the other for the flattened camellia bush she clipped blooms from and floated in water. I made it as far as Davis Junior High before I kissed another boy, polishing my skills in a hedonistic game of spin the bottle. Seventh grade boys put to shame kindergarten boys in the kissing department, and I wrote long sweeping passages about it in my journal. My mother said sh—t again when she read it and grounded me for a week. I decided kissing was bad. I stop writing in my journal. I started saying sh—t.
Somewhere along the way, I picked up kissing and writing again. First off, I tried my hand at a romantic suspense populated with glamorous Americans, sexy Russians, and exotic Mongolians. My first assessment from a Romance Writers of America contest judge was—shall we say—humbling and I quoteth ‘I applaud your courage to write in a language other than your native tongue.’
Later, I entered an Avon FanLit Regency romance contest and though I had no idea what a ‘ton’ was, I made the finals in three of ten rounds. When all was said and done, however, I didn’t win an Avon Publishing contract, (good thing since I still didn’t know what a ‘ton’ was) but the editors and readers awarded me ‘The Laugh Out Loud’ prize for the most humorous of 2000 entries. I still smile when I think of my third submission ‘The Tipsy Gypsy’ and his “The chocolate has spoken” line said during a séance. He was a fun character to write.
Bolstered by this surprising thumbs up, I wrote a Regency romance called ‘The Wilds of Winter.’ It never resonated with publishers, however, who wanted ball gowns, nobility, and that damn ‘ton’ again, not a feisty female jailbird from Newgate Prison, a scandalized male solicitor, and rats. Who knew?
At the suggestion of a friend, I dove into writing mysteries, falling instantly in love with murder and mayhem over having people kiss. Lessons from childhood are never far away, I guess, especially since I still say sh—t.
I began hanging out with cops, taking community law enforcement classes, going to the shooting range, doing ride alongs, eating donuts. In due course, I dreamed up Sydney ‘Syd’ Stryker, who is much tougher, smarter, and braver than I could ever be.
No one is more surprised than I am at how handy I am with a paintbrush, dabbling in all sorts of mediums: oils, acrylics, faux etc. If you stand still too long, I’ll paint you. It’s a bad habit. I love to travel but hate to fly, a residual fear from an engine explosion midair when I was a teen. I try to eat well but never stop dreaming of a world where Raspberry Zingers and Cheesy Gordita Crunches are health food. If ever shipwrecked on a deserted island, I could happily survive on peanut butter and red wine.
I’m crazy about yoga and hiking and adventure movies, not necessarily in that order. I listen to Harry Potter every night at bedtime; Jim Dale’s voice my sleep aid of choice. When I’m 96, I might stop writing, saying sh—t, and kissing—maybe.
Banner credit: Dave Morrison Photography