Michaels, Fern 1933- (Mary Kuczkir, Mary Ruth Kuczkir)

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Michaels, Fern 1933- (Mary Kuczkir, Mary Ruth Kuczkir)

PERSONAL:

Born April 9, 1933, in Hastings, PA; daughter of Albert and Lucy Kovac; married Michael Kuczkir (an engineer), October 3, 1952 (divorced); children: Cynthia, Susy, Patty, Mike, Dave. Hobbies and other interests: Hiking, visiting friends, looking at antiques, gardening, traveling, walking her dogs.

ADDRESSES:

Home—SC. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Worked as market researcher.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Inducted into New Jersey Literary Hall of Fame.

WRITINGS:

ROMANCE NOVELS; WITH ROBERTA ANDERSON; UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM FERN MICHAELS

Pride and Passion, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1975.

Vixen in Velvet, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1976.

Captive Passions, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1977.

Valentina, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1978.

Captive Embraces, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1979.

Captive Splendors, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1980.

The Delta Ladies, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1980.

The Golden Lasso, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1980.

Captive Innocence, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1981.

Sea Gypsy, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1981.

Whisper My Name, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1981.

Beyond Tomorrow, Silhouette (New York, NY), 1981.

Wild Honey, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Nightstar, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1982.

Paint Me Rainbows, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1982.

All She Can Be, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1983.

Free Spirit, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1983.

Tender Warrior, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1983.

Cinders to Satin, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1984.

Texas Rich, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1985.

Texas Heat, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1986.

To Taste the Wine, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1987.

Texas Fury, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1989.

THRILLERS; WITH ROBERTA ANDERSON; UNDER JOINT PSEUDONYM FERN MICHAELS

Without Warning, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Panda Bear Is Critical, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1982.

Picture Perfect, Zebra (New York, NY), 2005.

SOLE AUTHOR, UNDER PSEUDONYM FERN MICHAELS

Sins of Omission, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1989.

Sins of the Flesh, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1990.

Captive Secrets, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.

For All Their Lives, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1991.

Texas Sunrise, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.

Desperate Measures, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.

Seasons of Her Life, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.

Serendipity, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.

To Have and To Hold, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.

Dear Emily, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Wish List, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Vegas Rich, Kensington (New York, NY), 1996.

Vegas Heat, Kensington (New York, NY), 1997.

Vegas Sunrise, Compass Press, 1997.

Whitefire, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1997.

Heart of the Home, Five Star (Unity, ME), 1998.

Finders Keepers, Kensington (New York, NY), 1998.

Sara's Song, Thorndike, 1998.

Annie's Rainbow, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1999.

Celebration, Kensington (New York, NY), 1999.

Yesterday, Kensington (New York, NY), 1999.

Split Second, Severn House (Surrey, England), 1999.

The Guest List, Zebra Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Listen to Your Heart, Kensington (New York, NY), 2000.

What You Wish For, Kensington (New York, NY), 2000.

Wild Honey, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Texas Rich, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2001.

Beyond Tomorrow, MIRA Books (Ontario, Canada), 2001.

Pride and Passion, Center Point, 2001.

Charming Lily, Kensington (New York, NY), 2001.

Plain Jane, Kensington (New York, NY), 2001.

Kentucky Rich, Kensington (New York, NY), 2001.

Kentucky Sunrise, Kensington (New York, NY), 2002.

Kentucky Heat, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2002.

No Place Like Home, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Shattered Night: Split Second and Picture Perfect, New American Library (New York, NY), 2002.

About Face, Kensington (New York, NY), 2003.

Crown Jewel, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Late Bloomer, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Trading Places, Pocket Star Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Family Blessings, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2004.

The Real Deal, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2004.

The Nosy Neighbor, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Pretty Woman, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2005.

Fool Me Once, Kensington (New York, NY), 2006.

Hey, Good Looking, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2006.

WITH OTHERS

(With Emilie Richards and Sheryl Woods) Maybe This Time, Silhouette Books (New York, NY), 2003.

(With others) Jingle All the Way, Kensington (New York, NY), 2004.

"REVENGE OF THE SISTERHOOD" SERIES

Weekend Warriors, Kensington (New York, NY), 2003.

Payback, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2004.

Vendetta, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2005.

The Jury, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2005.

Sweet Revenge, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2006.

Lethal Justice, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2006.

Free Fall, Severn House (Surrey, England), 2007.

Also author of My Dish Towel Flies at Half Mast (collected columns), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1979, and "Merry Mary," a column in Barnesboro Star.

ADAPTATIONS:

Some of Michaels's novels have been adapted as audiobooks.

SIDELIGHTS:

Mary Kuczkir is known to millions of readers by her pseudonym, Fern Michaels. Under that name, Kuczkir has published more than fifty romance novels, which have sold over sixty million copies worldwide. Her early works were collaborative efforts, written with Roberta Anderson, but in 1989, Kuczkir obtained full legal rights to use the Fern Michaels name on her own work.

Although she had always enjoyed reading and shown an aptitude for writing, Michaels had no great ambitions to be an author when she was growing up. After graduating from school, she married and had five children. Caring for them was the main focus of her life, until the youngest started kindergarten. At that time, her husband told her that she ought to get out and find a job. Unsure of what sort of employment she might like or be qualified for, she decided instead to try writing a book. Her plan to work as an author was derided by her husband, but she nevertheless started her first manuscript, working with Anderson, whom she had met at a part-time job doing marketing research. They completed their first book and sent it out to a publisher; a rejection slip for it came back just as their second manuscript was going into the mail. That rejection slip was to be the only stumbling block on Fern Michaels's road to writing success. The second manuscript was accepted, and from that point on, Kuczkir's writing career never faltered.

Some of the most popular early Michaels titles were Captive Passions, about a noblewoman who disguises herself as a pirate and plunders her husband's trading vessels, and Valentina, which relates the experiences of a handmaiden in the court of Richard the Lionheart. Other successful books included Captive Embrace, in which the heroine is deserted by her husband after the death of their child, and The Delta Ladies, about a man who returns to his hometown after having fled years earlier for seducing the town tycoon's daughter.

Michaels's popularity did not flag even after Kuczkir began writing the books on her own; she continued to routinely make the bestseller lists. While some of her romances have historical settings, others are contemporary, and many are family sagas that stretch out through three or more related books. When working on this kind of sprawling story, Michaels told Claire E. Knight in an interview for Writers Write, she typically begins with outlines and biographies for the characters, "but by day three, it's in the trash. I write off the top of my head. I do have an outline of sorts and detailed character sketches but once I read through them, that's it. I create as I go along. I can never keep it straight and rely on my editor to keep me in line. She gets confused, too. I guess you could say we kind of/sort of wing it."

Some of Michael's stories have a supernatural twist. The author does believe that a ghost haunts her home, one who sometimes leaves her flowers or plays innocuous pranks on her. In Charming Lily, the mystical element is a necklace that seems to give the wearer second sight. Lily, the title character, receives the gift from a friend, in whose family it has been for years. When Lily's fiance Matt disappears, she first believes that he has abandoned her, but the necklace gives her other insights. The story is "a fun romance from a popular master of the genre," stated Patty Engelmann in Booklist.

Michael's books often have busy plots and large casts of characters. In Crown Jewel, for example, Rick is a wild young star in Hollywood who depends on Philly, his money-obsessed, control-oriented older brother, to repeatedly bail him out of trouble. Philly's death sets off a chain reaction of jealousies, as most of his estate is left to Rick. The involvement of Philly's wife and stepdaughter, Rick's long-lost sons, a tough news reporter, and a strange revelation about Philly's mother all make for a plot full of twists and turns, and the "over-the-top plot" keeps "moving right along," noted a Kirkus Reviews writer.

Michaels's "Kentucky" books—Kentucky Rich, Kentucky Heat, and Kentucky Sunrise—are among her favorites, and are also rated as some of her best by numerous critics. Kentucky Rich featured characters that had already been introduced in other books by Michaels, set in Las Vegas and in Texas. The protagonist in Kentucky Rich is Nealy Coleman, a woman with a rare gift for horsemanship. Nealy is forced to leave home by a cruel father, but eventually is taken in by a woman who owns a prestigious Thoroughbred farm. In time, Nealy inherits the farm, and as the saga unfolds, she must confront her own past as well as taking on challenges as great as trying to raise a Kentucky Derby winner. Engelmann, writing in Booklist, called Kentucky Rich a "fun read [that] has more plot twists than a soap opera, and will keep readers on tenterhooks for the next in the series."

Michaels is modest about her talents. "I scribble and tell stories," she stated in an autobiographical section of her Web site. "It's a great way to make a living. The Dutch have a saying, ‘If you can't whistle on your way to work, you don't belong in that job.’ I whistle all day long."

Michaels established the Fern Michaels Foundation to grant scholarships to deserving students and to operate preschools and daycare centers for children of single mothers. "I don't know what I'm the most proud of, the books I write, the scholarships, the pre-schools or the fact that I put my kids through college on my own with no help from anyone," she said. Probably the latter because when all is said and done, the only thing that matters is family."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Falk, Kathryn, Love's Leading Ladies, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1982.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 1, 1993, Denise Perry Donavin, review of Texas Sunrise, p. 970; June 1, 1996, Melanie Duncan, review of Vegas Rich, p. 1630; July, 1997, Melanie Duncan, review of Vegas Sunrise, p. 1775; August, 1997, Jennifer Henderson, review of Captive Secrets, p. 1880; June 1, 1998, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Finders Keepers, p. 1726; November 15, 1998, Melanie Duncan, review of Celebration, p. 548; August, 1999, Melanie Duncan, review of Yesterday, p. 1988; December 1, 1999, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Split Second, p. 684; April 15, 2000, Leah Sparks, review of Yesterday, p. 1562; September 1, 2000, Patty Engelmann, review of Picture Perfect, p. 70; March 1, 2001, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Plain Jane, p. 1232; March 15, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of Charming Lily, p. 1359; August, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of Kentucky Rich, p. 2089; March 1, 2002, Patty Engelmann, review of Kentucky Heat, p. 1052; October 1, 2002, Patty Engelmann, review of Kentucky Sunrise, p. 307; October 15, 2002, John Charles, review of No Place Like Home, p. 394; January 1, 2003, Patty Engelmann, review of Late Bloomer, p. 858; March 15, 2003, Maria Hatton, review of About Face, p. 1284; April 15, 2003, Shelley Mosley, review of Weekend Warriors, p. 1450; November 1, 2003, Maria Hatton, review of Crown Jewel, p. 480; October 1, 2004, Maria Hatton, review of Family Blessings, p. 283; August, 2004, Maria Hatton, review of The Real Deal, p. 1909; March 15, 2005, Maria Hatton, review of Pretty Woman, p. 1274, and Maria Hatton, review of Vendetta, p. 1275; June 1, 2005, Maria Hatton, review of The Nosy Neighbor, p. 1765; October 15, 2005, Maria Hatton, review of The Jury, p. 35; February 15, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of Sweet Revenge, p. 5; March 1, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of Hey, Good Looking, p. 44; August 1, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of Fool Me Once, p. 55; September 1, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of Lethal Justice, p. 62.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of Late Bloomer, p. 1648; November 15, 2003, review of Crown Jewel, p. 1334; October 1, 2004, review of Family Blessings, p. 939; August 15, 2005, review of The Jury, p. 886; March 1, 2006, review of Sweet Revenge, p. 213.

Library Journal, March 15, 1997, Barbara E. Kemp, review of Vegas Heat, p. 90; June 15, 1997, Michael Rogers, review of Captive Secrets, p. 102; September 1, 1998, Michael Rogers, review of Captive Innocence, p. 224; February 1, 1999, Barbara E. Kemp, review of Celebration, p. 122; October 15, 1999, Barbara Perkins, review of Sara's Song, p. 123; February 15, 2000, Michael Rogers, review of Annie's Rainbow, p. 203; September 1, 2000, Carol J. Bissett, review of What You Wish For, p. 251; September 15, 2001, Barbara E. Kemp, review of Kentucky Rich, p. 113; April 15, 2002, Barbara E. Kemp, review of Kentucky Heat, p. 126; November 15, 2002, October 1, 2003, Kim Uden Rutter, review of Weekend Warriors, p. 117; November 15, 2004, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Jingle All the Way, p. 48.

MBR Bookwatch, April, 2005, review of Pretty Woman. off our backs, December, 2001, Mary E. Atkins, review of Finders Keepers, p. 35.

People, February 24, 2003, review of Late Bloomer, p. 39.

Publishers Weekly, May 4, 1990, Penny Kaganoff, review of Sins of the Flesh, p. 64; May 10, 1991, review of Captive Secrets, p. 277; September 13, 1991, review of For All Their Lives, p. 63; November 30, 1992, review of Texas Sunrise, p. 35; March 6, 1995, review of Dear Emily, review of Seasons of Her Life, p. 67; December 18, 1995, review of Wish List, p. 48; June 24, 1996, review of Vegas Rich, p. 46; December 2, 1996, review of Vegas Rich, p. 30; February 10, 1997, review of Vegas Heat, p. 67; August 25, 1997, review of Vegas Sunrise, p. 43; February 2, 1998, review of Sara's Song, p. 87; July 13, 1998, review of Finders Keepers, p. 64; February 22, 1999, review of Annie's Rainbow, p. 91; August 16, 1999, review of Yesterday, p. 59; July 31, 2000, review of The Guest List, p. 77; September 4, 2000, review of What You Wish For, p. 82; February 5, 2001, review of Plain Jane, p. 66; August 27, 2001, review of Kentucky Rich, p. 49; April 8, 2002, review of Kentucky Heat, p. 204; June 2, 2003, review of Trading Places, p. 39; September 2, 2002, review of Kentucky Sunrise, p. 55; October 14, 2002, review of No Place Like Home, p. 70; December 9, 2002, review of Late Bloomer, p. 59; March 3, 2003, review of About Face, p. 58; October 20, 2003, review of Crown Jewel, p. 33; June 14, 2004, review of Weekend Warriors, p. 50; October 4, 2004, review of Family Blessings, p. 70; January 10, 2005, review of Payback, p. 40; March 14, 2005, review of Pretty Woman, p. 45; May 30, 2005, review of Vendetta, p. 37; June 19, 2006, review of Fool Me Once, p. 41; August 28, 2006, review of Lethal Justice, p. 30; September 4, 2006, review of Sugar and Spice, p. 39.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), February 28, 1993, review of Texas Sunrise, p. 7.

ONLINE

Bookpage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (January 10,2007), Karen Trotter, interview with Fern Michaels.

Fern Michaels's Home Page,http://www.fernmichaels.com (January 10, 2007).

Writers Write: Internet Writing Journal,http://www.writerswrite.com/ (September, 2001), Claire E. White, interview with Fern Michaels.

Writing-World,http://www.writing-world.com/ (January 10, 2007), Gayle Trent, interview with Fern Michaels.

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Michaels, Fern 1933- (Mary Kuczkir, Mary Ruth Kuczkir)

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