Monday, January 24, 2022

The Three Worst Pieces of Writing Advice By Marilyn Baron


Lots of reasons to enjoy my guest blogger, Marilyn Baron, today. First off...bad advice. Everyone gives out advice, so here is what not to listen to. Secondly, I love exotic locals. Exotic to us armchair travelers, but her books can take you there. Take us away, Marilyn.

When I began my writing career, I was given some great advice (Finish the Book!) by a number of authors I met, including Janet Evanovich and Daniel Silva; and some not-so-great advice by agents and editors.

Here are the three worst pieces of writing advice I’ve ever received: 

1. Agent: “Nobody is interested in World War II.” Me: Tell that to Kristin Hannah, who wrote one of my favorite books, The Nightingale, and any number of other bestselling authors with WW II-themed books. And tell that to my father, who was a top-turret gunner on a B-17 flying bombing missions from a base in England. 

2. Editor: I really like your book, but can you change the word Nazis to the evil ones or something like that? Me: Seriously?

3. Agent: I really like your book, but do you have to set it in Australia? Our audience doesn’t like books set outside of America. Me: I doubt that Outlander fans would agree. 

Naturally, I didn’t follow the bad advice, because many of my books are set in locations I’ve visited, such as Australia, Bermuda, Austria, Scotland, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Greece and Italy. In fact, my last historical romantic thriller, The Romanov Legacy, was set in Switzerland, Italy and Russia. And my 28th work of fiction (Yes, I can Finish a Book!), The Case of the Missing Botticelli, which releases today, is set in Florence and Venice, Italy. And yes, my books (Stumble Stones) do feature Nazis, the ultimate villains.

The Case of the Missing Botticelli, A Massimo Domingo Mystery, is the beginning of a new cozy mystery series I’m writing. In fact, Book 2 (The Case of the Vanishing Vermeer), set in Florence and Lake Como, Italy, is included in the first book. So, you get two Massimo Domingo Mysteries in one book.


In this cozy mystery, American art history major Hadley Evans joins an art detective agency in Florence, Italy, working for Massimo Domingo, once a major player, now the ‘Inspector Clouseau’ of the art world. Determined to save the flailing agency and prove her worth, Hadley and her sexy Carabinieri boyfriend, Luca Ferrari, take on a mysterious client behind her boss’s back. Hot on the trail of a missing masterpiece, they discover a hidden cache of stolen Nazi art in a Venetian villa and encounter an enemy with a link to an evil past. 

Spoiler Alert: Yes, this book does have Nazis.

So, be selective about what writing advice you follow and follow your heart. I write about what I know and what I like. My books include themes like art theft, WW II, and are often set in Italy, where I studied art history in Florence during my senior year in college.

Although I’m not Italian, I love all things Italy, including my favorite Italian dish, spaghetti alla carbonara. My grandmother name is Nonna, Italian for grandmother.

When you read The Case of the Missing Botticelli, you’ll see some of my life living in Florence reflected in the book. Like the heroine, I was run over by a motorcycle and the rider sued me for the damage to his bike because I was walking in the street, like everyone else, including the Carabinieri who arrested me. And the painting featured in my novel is Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, my favorite painting, which I first saw in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence.

In these times when travel is difficult, this book will transport you to some fabulous settings. My last trip before COVID, was to Italy, to revisit some of the places I loved in Florence. If you’d like to read The Case of the Missing Botticelli, here are the BUY Links:





Hadley wrote down the phone number and her jaw went slack when she heard and inscribed the rest of the message. “Tell him it’s about a missing Botticelli. It’s urgent.”

A shot of adrenelin coursed through Hadley’s veins. Sandro Botticelli. Her favorite artist in the

whole world. Creator of the Italian masterpiece, Nascita di Venere, The Birth of Venus, the ancient Goddess of Love, dated circa 1484. She wasn’t aware a Botticelli painting was missing.

“Is there any additional information you can give me? The name of the painting? The provenance? Capito. I understand the need for utmost secrecy. We can set up a meeting and I’ll make sure Signore Domingo will be there.”

She jotted down some more notes. “Piazzale Michelangelo? At sunset?”

Hadley tilted her head and chewed on her bottom lip. That was a strange destination for a business meeting. Although it offered the most scenic view of the city, perched atop a hillside overlooking Florence, meeting at a park after dark was reminiscent of a murder scene in a film noir. Where the heroine, Hadley, would later be found, dead, her virtue compromised and her throat slit.

Was the female caller from a museum? A high-end gallery? An auction house? Was she an art or antiquities dealer or a wealthy private individual or was she representing a government agency?  And, if so, which government? Enemy or ally? She would soon find out.

Marilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres from women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements and Paranormal/Fantasy Romance. She was also The Finalist in the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA) in the Romance Category for her novel, Stumble Stones, and The Finalist for the 2018 GAYA Awards in the Romance category for her novel, The Alibi. Her latest novel, The Case of the Missing Botticelli: A Massimo Domingo Mystery, released January 24, 2022, is her 28th work of fiction. A public relations consultant in Atlanta, Marilyn is past chair of Roswell Reads and serves on the Atlanta Authors Series Committee. To find out more about what Marilyn writes, visit her website at: 

Marilyn Baron Social Media Links:



Personal Facebook Page:

Author Facebook Page:

Amazon Author Page:



Instagram: Marilyn Baron (@marilyn.baron.5)

Pinterest: (1230) Pinterest



  1. Brenda, thanks very much for hosting me today.

  2. Congratulations on your release. In my small group last night "Finish the book" came up several times. D.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Every author I interview seems to have that same advice, Finish the Book. You can always correct manuscript issues but you can't correct a blank page.
      Marilyn Baron

  3. What a wonderful spotlight on Marilyn! I love that she didn't follow the bad advice and instead went with the good! Thank you, Brenda, for hosting this fellow Rose today!

    1. Jan, thank you very much for your comment.
      Marilyn Baron

  4. I love reading about fabulous destinations!

  5. In writing fiction, I've found there are a lot more opinions than rules!! Congrats on the new release!

  6. I so enjoyed the post and blurb! Congratulations on your latest publication, Marilyn! Wishing you all the best!

  7. Great piece. Does make you wonder about some people, eh!

    1. Aspiring Author, yes it does. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Very insightful. Thanks for the great piece Marilyn!

    1. V. Benson,
      You're welcome. I appreciate your comment.

  9. Great post, Marilyn! Happy to hear your book has Nazis. ;)
    Ann agent once told me at great length in a group session that an idea I had for a romance trilogy featuring male leads would NEVER sell. Romance readers only wanted books focused on females as lead characters. I excused myself after ten minutes or so of her telling me how my idea was stupid and would never sell. Got to know when to follow your heart and ignore those who don't see the vision!

    1. Dee and Anne,
      Wow. I'm so glad you had the courage and confidence to leave the room and follow your own vision. I've had good advice from editors and agents, too, but examples like this are unbelievable. Never say never. I wonder if someone once told Diana Gabaldon that time travel would never sell. Thank you for your comment.
      Marilyn Baron