Tag Archives: Mary Feliz

A day in the life of Maggie McDonald by Mary Feliz

Decluttering can be deadly

If you’ve been living on this planet, or even in a nearby solar system, you’ve been barraged by messages from news outlets, best sellers, and talk shows about decluttering, downsizing, and tidying up. They may have inspired you or, more likely, made you feel like a hoarder, a slob, or worse.

Rest assured, you’re probably neither. As a human being, you’re subject to the laws of physics, among them those involving entropy. Entropy is just a science-y word for the fact that disorder has a way of winning out over order. Always. It’s the law.

For me, that means job security. I’m a professional organizer, and I’m here to bust a few myths. Decluttering won’t make you happier, thinner, or more successful. It won’t make your teenager confide in you or solve a problem with a cheating spouse. If you’re seriously allergic to dust mites, it might make you healthier in the long run, but as you dig through your stuff, you’re going to inhale a lot of dust. It won’t be good.

Marie Kondo’s blockbuster The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing makes a case for the sheer joy of tidying up, as if it’s a new designer drug. It’s not. Tidying up is tedious. It’s hard work, it takes too long, and it’s relentless.

So why hire an organizer?

Because I can shorten the process for you. I can help you focus on your goals and keep you from getting sidetracked by your high school yearbook while you’re clearing your bookcase. I can prevent you from diving into an Internet black hole to discover what your prom date is doing now.

Once you’ve done the hard part of sorting, organizing, and paring your belongings to only what you need and want, I can set up a system to help you keep it organized with as little effort as possible. I can get rid of all the items you no longer want in a jiffy, no matter how bulky those items are.

Will I make you get rid of your grandmother’s collection of ornamental china? Or your childhood teddy bear? Or that pile of decaying rubber bands that you just might need one day? I’ll probably encourage you to toss the rubber bands. They tend to rot with age and become useless. But you can keep whatever you need to keep. My job is to help you decide, stay on task, and find a great way to store the items you’d like to preserve.

Will I judge you? Never. Talk shows and flashy magazines might make you feel guilty about your clutter, and many shops will urge you to ease that guilt with the purchase of matching hangers and nesting storage boxes. But I’m here to help however I can. For instance, if you love your grandmother’s figurines, I can help you find a way to safely display them, dust free, instead of keeping them stashed in a box in the attic. Or if you’re tired of packing them up with every move, I can help you sell them.

Many potential clients avoid calling an organizer because they fear what will happen when the expert goes home. Let’s look at that. If you’re like most of my clients, I’ll work with you as long as you’re willing to pay me and until you’ve got a firm handle on an organizing system that you understand and can use.

But if you’re like most people, your dedication to your new system will wear off. Life will intervene, and you’ll choose to comfort a crying child instead of sorting your bills. Or you’ll call 911 and get out of the house when a fire starts instead of folding all the clean laundry and putting it away. Life happens. Physics happens. It’s the law.

And that, again, means job security for me. If I’ve done my job well, I hope you’ll call me back from time to time to restore order and give your system a tune up. We can look at how things have changed in your life and what challenges you have. Maybe you have a puppy who likes to chew and you can’t store things on low shelves any more. Or you’ve had shoulder surgery and can’t reach any of those pretty hats you stashed on a high shelf. We’ll resolve those problems together to make things easier.

Organizers aren’t magic. But we can help quickly and without judgment. For some of us, receiving help without judgment is a mystical experience, but decluttering won’t solve all your problems. In fact, for some of my clients it can be downright deadly, but that’s another story.

To find an organizer in your area, consult the National Association of Professional Organizers at www.napo.net.


You can read more about Maggie in Dead Storage, the third book in the “Maggie McDonald” mystery series.

As a professional organizer, Maggie McDonald brings order to messy situations. But when a good friend becomes a murder suspect, surviving the chaos is one tall task . . .

Despite a looming deadline, Maggie thinks she has what it takes to help friends Jason and Stephen unclutter their large Victorian in time for its scheduled renovation. But before she can fill a single bin with unused junk, Jason leaves for Texas on an emergency business trip, Stephen’s injured mastiff limps home—and Stephen himself lands in jail for murder. Someone killed the owner of a local Chinese restaurant and stuffed him in the freezer. Stephen, caught at the crime scene covered in blood, is the number one suspect. Maggie finds herself in the middle of a political hot-button issue when she discovers that only witness is an undocumented teen. Should he come forward and risk deportation or stay mum and let bad guys run amok? Or can Maggie come up with a unique solution before putting her friends, family, and herself at risk?

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About the author
Mary Feliz writes the “Maggie McDonald Mysteries” featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. The third novel in the series, Dead Storage, was released July 18, and is available in all eBook formats. Paperbacks can be ordered from any bookstore and online.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ Dead Storage by Mary Feliz

Dead Storage by Mary Feliz is the third book in the “Maggie McDonald” mystery series. Publisher: Lyrical Underground, coming July 18, 2017

As a professional organizer, Maggie McDonald brings order to messy situations. But when a good friend becomes a murder suspect, surviving the chaos is one tall task . . .

Despite a looming deadline, Maggie thinks she has what it takes to help friends Jason and Stephen unclutter their large Victorian in time for its scheduled renovation. But before she can fill a single bin with unused junk, Jason leaves for Texas on an emergency business trip, Stephen’s injured mastiff limps home—and Stephen himself lands in jail for murder. Someone killed the owner of a local Chinese restaurant and stuffed him in the freezer. Stephen, caught at the crime scene covered in blood, is the number one suspect. Now Maggie must devise a strategy to sort through secrets and set him free—before she’s tossed into permanent storage next . . .

When a friend become a prime suspect in a murder investigation, Maggie uses her organizational skills for decluttering the situation to clear his name.

The mystery in this book was nicely done with enough intrigue and curiosity as to how all will fare at the conclusion of this evenly-paced drama that was hard to put down. The author did a great job in providing a suspect pool that was so varied that it kept me guessing until I had that aha moment and knew who was behind it all. The narrative was visually descriptive keeping me immersed in all that was happening with all the characters who played pivotal roles that would eventually lead to the revelation and apprehension of the killer. I enjoyed the path that was taken to tell this story with an underlying message that added to this tale. Bonus to me was the organization tips at the beginning of each chapter, some of which I follow. This was a good read and I can’t wait to see what adventure awaits Maggie and her friends.

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FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

What a day with Maggie McDonald by Mary Feliz

scheduled-to-deathDru asked me to share a typical day in the life of Maggie McDonald, sole proprietor of Simplicity Itself Organizing Services and the protagonist of the Maggie McDonald Mystery series. But she’s a take-charge kind of gal, and insisted on telling her own story…

One of the things I like best about being a professional organizer is that there’s no such thing as a typical day. My schedule depends on my clients’ needs and on how I decide to juggle my career with the demands of my life as the mother of two teenaged boys, the servant of two demanding cats and the best pal of a golden retriever with separation anxiety. And then there’s my adorable and supportive husband Max.

At first glance, there’s not much fodder in my life for mysteries, but as an organizer I’m required to rummage in some of the most private areas of any person’s world: their sock and underwear drawers, the darkness under the bathroom sink, and the furthest recesses of their kitchens, basements, attics, and garage lofts. That cliché about skeletons in the closet? That’s nothing. In contrast with the secrets stashed in an underwear drawer, a closet is very nearly public.

To forestall awkwardness, I insist my clients delve into their storage spaces and remove evidence of any secrets. I don’t want to find illegal drugs, weapons, or items that would make me blush.

That strategy doesn’t always work. A young woman once hired me to wrangle her wardrobe. Deep in the recesses of her closest, I found a rusty can stuffed with shoe-cleaning rags. I set it in the discard pile to be reviewed by my client.

golden-retriever-dogWeeks later, she phoned me in a panic. Did I put that can away? Transfer the contents to another container? Toss it? I reminded her she’d thrown it away herself. I make recommendations, but I never discard anything that doesn’t belong to me. For good reason. The young woman’s beau was a heroin addict and she’d deep-sixed a valuable quantity of his drug of choice. She dumped the boyfriend and added custom storage to his side of the closet.

On another occasion, a young lawyer hired me to help his elderly father evaluate his organizational needs. I phoned to make an appointment, but no one answered. After several tries, I stopped by to leave my business card. As I stepped up on the porch, I saw the curtain twitch and I could hear someone moving inside. I knocked, but there was no answer. The house was centrally located, so it was easy for me to drop by. I did, frequently, sometimes writing notes on the back of my card. Until one day, as I turned to go, the metal flap on the mail box stirred and a voice whispered, “Hello.”

I crouched on the doormat and peered inside. “I’m Maggie. Are you Walter?”

The flap quivered, but the voice didn’t respond.

“Your son hoped I could help you organize your things a bit.”

“Go away. I don’t need help.”

After a few more conversations through the mail flap, including the time I left a plate of chocolate-chip cookies on the mat, I was invited inside his immaculate home.

address-to-dieWalter poured tea and made cinnamon toast, cut in triangles. He told me that he’d initially thought I was a spy for his son, who urged him to move to senior living and sell his home and all of its furnishings. But Walter liked being alone, relished the company of two cats, and had friends in the neighborhood. Though his wife had died ten years earlier, he cherished the house filled with memories of the life they’d shared. He had no desire to move. Weary of arguments, he’d told his son he was welcome to visit only if he didn’t mention real estate or homes for the elderly.

“So what convinced you to open the door to me?”

“You’re stubborn. You remind me of my late wife. Feisty. Helena would have loved you.”

We created a plan to visit weekly over tea. Fighting off the cats, who stole pencils and ate paper, Walter paid his bills while I filed receipts. On every invoice I sent I told Walter’s son that his father had little need for my services. But the son insisted I continue. Walter and I became good friends, laughing over tea and shared stories.

Most of my clients are less colorful than Walter and the drug-addict’s girlfriend, but no two are alike. Individually tailoring my organizational systems and finding strategies that work in practice as well as they do in theory is what takes my days in unexpected directions.

Truth be told, discovering the occasional dead body can also throw my schedule for a loop. But that, as they say, is another story.


SCHEDULED TO DEATH is the second book in the Maggie McDonald mystery series published by Lyrical Underground, January 2017.

Professional organizer Maggie McDonald has a knack for cleaning up other people’s messes. So when the fiancée of her latest client turns up dead, it’s up to her to sort through the untidy list of suspects and identify the real killer.

Maggie McDonald is hoping to raise the profile of her new Orchard View organizing business via her first high-profile client. Professor Lincoln Sinclair may be up for a Nobel Prize, but he’s hopeless when it comes to organizing anything other than his thoughts. For an academic, he’s also amassed more than his share of enemies. When Sinclair’s fiancée is found dead on the floor of his home laboratory—electrocuted in a puddle of water—Maggie takes on the added task of finding the woman’s murderer. To do so, she’ll have to outmaneuver the suspicious, obnoxious police investigator she’s nicknamed “Detective Awful” before a shadowy figure can check off the first item on their personal to-do list—Kill Maggie McDonald.

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Meet the author
mary-felizMary Feliz writes the Maggie McDonald Mysteries featuring a Silicon Valley professional organizer and her sidekick golden retriever. She’s worked for Fortune 500 firms and mom and pop enterprises, competed in whale boat races and done synchronized swimming. She attends organizing conferences in her character’s stead, but Maggie’s skills leave her in the dust. Connect with Mary at www.maryfeliz.com

All comments are welcomed.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a copy of Address to Die For and Scheduled to Death, either e-book (open to everyone) or print (U.S. residents only), winner’s choice. The giveaway ends January 19, 2017. Good luck everyone!