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Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Already December?

We just had our first snowfall of the season. I don't know about you, but the year has gone by so quickly! Lots of events and new experiences have happened, both good and bad.

I had two books published this year. Gone to the Dogs, my third Cerridwen Press, mainstream romance, has been available since May. Strip Poker For Two, my first erotic romance published by Ellora's Cave in August, inspired me to create another pen name (April Ash).

I attended my first few booksignings now that one book, Second Sight Dating, published by Cerridwen Press, is now a paperback. It's so interesting being on the other side of the table!

Health issues took up much of the last few months for me, and I found myself unable to concentrate on sitting in front of the computer and writing. However, "head writing" did occur frequently and ideas raced through my mind. Now my quest is to put those thoughts on the computer screen and continue with my career.

The holiday season...which I love...has been scaled down a bit this year for me since I'm physically unable to do all I've done in the past. My reprieve comes in another week when my activity limitations finish the 12 week program I've had to follow and I actually get to lift and carry things again! AND, that means shopping for Christmas gifts!

May you all enjoy the holidays, whatever you celebrate. Let's hope for a healthier New Year (and a better economic outlook). Enjoy time with family and friends!

Marianne/April
www.mariannestephens.net
www.aprilash.net

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hospital Roommates from Hell

Now, I can look back and joke about my two misadventures during one of my three recent hospital stays. I'm not even counting the roommates who kept the TV on all night...those I could sleep through for the most part. I'm going to tell my horror tales of two roommates I never expected to encounter.

I was placed in a private room after surgery, but because of a fast heartbeat I was moved to a heart-monitoring floor and wheeled into a double room. Nurses were trying to get me settled when my "unseen" (behind the curtain divider) roommate started yelling about how she couldn't have a roommate and they knew it. She had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), couldn't share a room, and had already set the room up the way she wanted it.

I grabbed a nurse's hand and asked her to to get me out of there...even if it meant going in the hallway. She told me to push my morphine button (thank God for heavy drugs) and relax. They'd take care of her.

"Ms. Monk" (I called her that based on the character in the TV show, MONK), continued to complain all night, cursing in phone calls and just being a pain in the butt. Thanks to my drugged state, I heard some of it and just kept drifting off to sleep. Thankfully, the next day she signed herself out of the hospital.

Ah. Peace and quiet for me...for just two days before roommate number two was brought in.

"Helen", 82 years old and suffering from dementia, arrived confused and without relatives. Seems someone "dropped" her off at the ER per her doctor's request since her son (caretaker) was in another hospital...although Helen insisted he was in ours and kept arguing with everyone.

As the day wore on, Helen slipped further and further back through the 8 decades of her life and took me along with her. She held conversations...sometimes two or three-way ones...from her past. She wouldn't stay in bed, so would wander and finally the nurse put a bed alarm on her bed....which was constantly going off.

Then they brought in a "low-to-the-ground" bed for her, surrounded by mats in case she fell. That didn't keep her in bed either. She took the bed apart looking for candy because she kept saying they hadn't fed her (she'd had dinner).

I heard everything: the girl scouts coming over the hills, the boys riding horses, buying a horse, taking Margarite and Joy to buy a dress (one of the 3-way conversations), how "he" beat her all the time (later found out there were bruises on her and they wondered about how the son took care of her). Hell, she even talked about us being in a maternity unit and was folding diapers for babies.

Yes, they gave her a sedative. Quiet lasted 1 and 1/2 hours before she was up and talking again.
At 6:20am they finally moved her to another room. I was totally exhausted the rest of the day.

Hospitals are definitely not the place to go to rest as my stories prove.

BOOK NEWS:
"Strip Poker for Two" has gotten good reviews! I'm pleased with the sales of my first erotica book. Check my websites at: www.mariannestephens.net and www.aprilash.net.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Interview of Multi-Romance Book Published Author, Carla Cassidy




I'm so pleased to present this interview of wonderful, prolific romance book author, Carla Cassidy. I've known her for 14 years and she's always been very helpful with her advice for aspiring writers. Carla gives 200% of her energy and devotion to our local RWA chapter (Mid-America Romance Authors) members while cranking out one new book after another. She's an inspiration for us all, not just as an accomplished, award-winning author but as someone ready and willing to help. I'm grateful to call her my friend!

She's had an exciting life, from performing as an actress and singer-dancer with a show band, to being a cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs. Carla recently announced she'll be inducted into her high school's "Hall of Fame"...what an honor...and well-deserved!

Marianne/April: What motivated you to get involved in the romance industry and start writing?
Carla: I always like to say that the best thing I did for my writing career was marry a male chauvinist. My husband is a traditional Italian who didn't want me working outside the home. I'd always loved to read and write and while my kids were young rediscovered my joy in both.

M/A: How long did it take you to publish? How many books have you written?
C: For almost ten years I wrote bad poetry and terrible short stories. When my daughter started bringing home young adult romances from the library, I decided to try my hand at writing one. I went on to sell twelve young adult books between 1988-1991. In 1989, I found my local RWA chapter and joined. Within a year, I'd sold my first adult romance to Silhouette. I've written under the names Carla Bracale, Carla Cook, and Carla Cassidy and now have over 85 books written.

M/A: Describe your perfect hero. Also, would he clean house or cook?
C: Definitely cook! Actually, as corny s it sounds, I've been married to my hero for the last thirty-four years. We laugh together a lot and even though his muscle mass has shifted in the last couple of years, he still makes my heart beat faster.

M/A: What's one important thing you've learned about the industry that you'd like to pass on to others?
C: It's tough to think of just one thing. Definitely I think it's important not to take yourself too seriously in this business. You have to learn to roll with the punches, understand that rejection is part of the journey and remember that while writing can be fun, it's also tremendous work.

M/A: Favorite food/drink to have while reading/writing romance books.
C: Coffee. Definitely pots of coffee when I'm working. And, carbs. God, I love carbs. Unfortunately, I'm on one of those crazy diets where I'm trying not to eat them. Some of my best writing moments have come with a Taco Bell Burrito Supreme at my side.

M/A: Besides romance books, what else do you like to read?
C: I love Dean Koontz and also enjoy any kind of crime/legal dramas. Any book that moves me on any kind of emotional level is terrific.

M/A: Finish this sentence. Romance is...
C: Romance is somebody to warm your feet on a cold wintry night. That reassuring touch in the small of your back when you're feeling slightly nervous. For me, romance isn't the hot, head-banging sex that happens (although there's nothing wrong with that!), it's more the quiet, simple gestures and connection that exist between two people who love each other.

M/A: You, a handsome hunk, a bottle of champagne, and a case of chocolates wash up on a deserted island. What do you do with all these?
C: I almost hate to admit this, but as I'm writing this, I'm so tired that the best case scenario would be to horde the chocolates, use the bottle to hit the hunk over the head, and I'd get the best night's sleep I've had in months!

M/A: What genre haven't you written for that you've thought about trying?
C: Women's fiction. Urban fantasy. A big comedy. The list goes on and on. I have so many stories to tell!

M/A: Any romantic secrets you'd like to share or something about yourself inquiring minds don't know?
C: I have very few secrets in my life and I can't imagine anybody wanting to know anything more about me! But, I'm open to answering most anything!

Additional notes from Carla:
For those readers who might be interested, please check my web page at www.carlacassidybooks.com (there's also a blog there!). I have two books on the stand this month. Broken Pieces is a romantic suspense from Signet Eclipse at http://nalauthors.com/book1452 and Natural-Born Protector at http://www.eharlequin.com/storeitem.html?iid=17620&cid=231 is a Silhouette Romantic Suspense.

Thanks to Carla for taking the time to do this interview!

My newest book, "Strip Poker for Two"by April Ash, released in August by Ellora's Cave, www.ellorascave.com. Other books are available at Cerridwen Press, www.cerridwenpress.com. Visit my websites at: www.aprilash.net and www.mariannestephens.net. You can join my newsletter list, (Marianne's Musings and April's Antics), where I offer a monthly contest, by emailing me at marianne@mariannestephens.net or april@aprilash.net.

Monday, August 25, 2008

First Loves and "Gaydar" Mishaps

His name was Roddy and I was sure we'd end up together. Trouble was, after three years of dating, I wanted a more physical relationship (wanton woman that I was), and he didn't seem interested. Maybe all that time we spent apart (at separate colleges) was the reason he lost interest in me. But, who knows? Do men get turned off by women asking for "more"?

He crushed my ego, as I'd been with his family at events, and he'd tagged along with me to family functions. What happened? A nagging suspicion crept into my thoughts and took up residence. I wondered if he was gay.

Yeah, okay. Seemed like a stretch of the imagination and made me sound superficial to think that just because I got dumped by a guy I'd dated for 3 years, he had to be gay. But, you have to understand something.

It happened before.

Yes, in my growing up years, I was very naive. Being gay was spoken about in hushed tones, almost in whispers. I'd dated James maybe a month before he dumped me. He'd picked me up for a date, and I swear I remember exactly what I wore...short blue mini skirt, yellow top, and a triangle headband with daisies planted firmly around my head (aging myself here - late 1960's). I'd bought everything new and even had my mother take my picture.

We drove down the block until James pulled over and parked. Never even turned the corner nor had I had time to move over closer to him. He then faced me and blurted out that he couldn't date me anymore. He was sorry. No more explanation was given. That was it. I sat mortified in his car for a minute, not quite sure what the hell had happened. I got out of the car in a daze and walked home.

His cousin, a good friend of mine, was furious that he hadn't given a reason for breaking up with me. I was embarrassed but moved on...and dated his brother a few times. We didn't last as a couple and had dated just as friends so we went our separate ways.

A few years later, I found out the real story. James had "come out of the closet"...he was gay. Not only that, so did his brother! Hell...I'd dated two brothers who turned out to be gay! Coming from a big Italian family, that wasn't taken well by his family. I was just relieved to find out it didn't have anything to do with me.

So, when Roddy backed off (after giving me diamond earrings months earlier), I had to wonder if this would turn out to be my number "3" gay encounter. You know how things happen in "3's", right? He had no other girlfriend (I checked it out and had friends check for me, too...plus, he was good friends with my brother). Another woman in the picture would be understandable but aggravating. Another man in his life would have had me wondering if I had some type of "gay men, here I am...a safe date/friend/chance to see if you're really gay" signal coming from me somewhere.

Nope. Not gay. I found out he later married and divorced...but of course my revengeful self never once wished him any form of unhappiness.

If you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

So, my first love came and departed...and thankfully hadn't dumped me because he was gay. He just didn't want me. We didn't part on particularly good terms. We'd gone out for ice cream and while talking about what I wanted in our relationship, he admitted he didn't see it my way. He started to drive me home, but I decided walking into the house at 8:30pm when I was supposed to be out on a date would only lead to tons of parental questions I didn't want to face.

I had him drop me off at a theatre where I usually worked so I could wait for a friend to finish her job and we'd go out to a club. As I got out of the car, Roddy said, "I'll always love you," which left me with mixed emotions. I could have said, "Me too,"...but I chose to walk away before I smacked him. He dumped me but loved me. Yeah. Right.

Uh-huh. You figure that one out! Luckily, he'd done me a favor. That door had closed, but lots of windows of dating opportunities opened up for me and I had a wonderful time on my journey to finding the right man.

And, I did...almost 38 years ago!

So...any "First Love" stories to share? "Gaydar" mishaps? Leave a comment!

"Strip Poker for Two", by April Ash, is now available at www.ellorascave.com.
Visit my two websites for information about my books:
www.aprilash.net
www.mariannestephens.net

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Interview With Tammie King, Night Owl Romance

I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Tammie King, owner/operator of Night Owl Romance, www.nightowlromance.com, a great review, interview, chat, etc., site, chock full of wonderful information for readers and authors of romance fiction!


Marianne/April: What motivated you to get involved in the romance industry and start Night Owl Romance?

Tammie: What a great starter question. I started Night Owl Romance for a few different reasons.


The first reason was to learn a bit about web design. My husband got me Dream Weaver, a web page builder tool and I had to find some topics to start my playing around. Night Owl Romance was one of those themes. I love books and I wanted to tell others about them. Soon the site started to become bigger and bigger. The first year or so was just me posting new books and lists and then in January 2007 I really started to pump up the site with reviews. My husband, Andrew, helped set-up a database for reviews, authors, reviewers, etc., and the review section started expanding. Now we do upwards of 200 reviews a month and have over 35 reviewers who volunteer their time. I do the rest of the site maintenance, review coordination and email correspondence.



M/A: How long did it take to get things set-up and running?

T: It didn't take long. After I got the site started on my computer, my sister and I came up with a name. Karla thought Night Owl was a good idea as we both read well into the night...sometimes it becomes morning. Yes - we do have an addiction. I had to purchase the domain name and my hubby helped me with hosting. So, that took about a week. Since I'm a self-starter and don't have a partner, everything has been pretty easy and done by me. My hubby helps out when he can on the more complicated stuff.



M/A: Describe your perfect hero. Also, would he clean house or cook?

T: Well, my perfect hero is my husband, Andrew. He has made my dreams come true. I'm able to work on NOR and not work outside the house. The site doesn't make much money, but he doesn't complain. He just tells me he loves me every day and is glad I'm happy with what I'm doing. Hmm. Now Andrew doesn't do much housework, but he does quite a bit of the cooking. His meals are great and way better than mine. Maybe he is cooking for self-preservation. ;)



M/A: What's one important thing you've learned about your job and/or one change you've made.

T: I've started to learn that I've got to get away from email a bit. If I don't, it starts to control my life and take over. I could easily work 60 plus hours a week...and often do. Andrew tells me I've got to stop being a slave to email (lol). I agree with him and have tried to give it up a bit.



M/A: Favorite food/drink to have while reading romance books.

T: Well, I enjoy Diet Pepsi. Recently I've started enjoying Wendy's Floats. Mmm - The are nice and creamy.



M/A: Besides romance books, what else do you like to read? Any favorite non-romance book or author?

T: Almost everything I read is romance related. In the past I read fantasy, but now I like my fantasy with lots of romance.



M/A: Finish this sentence: Romance is...

T: Romance is waking up every morning and getting a hug from my hubby.



M/A: You, a handsome hunk, a bottle of champagne, and case of chocolates wash up on a deserted island. What do you do with all these?

T: Just enjoy the day together.




M/A: Do you read a romance book because a cover sparks your interest, the book blurb sounds great, you like the author, or it's a genre you truly enjoy?

T: I normally start out with genre - I really love paranormal, fantasy, historical and erotic romances. In the last few years, I've started reading more erotic romance and lots of ebooks. When I started the site, I was just a print romance reader. Soon readers and authors were introducing me to ebooks and the spicier stuff. The cover is also important and can spike my interest and, of course, if I find an author I like, I seek out her/his stuff.



M/A: Any romantic secrets you'd like to share or something about yourself inquiring minds don't know?

T: No secrets (lol). I do love to travel and have lived in London, England. I used to travel there once a year for fun, but not since I got married. Andrew and I went to Ireland and London for our honeymoon. We both hope to return to London.



M/A: Please add any additional information, including promo stuff, websites, etc., you want people to know about.

T: I hope you all will stop on over at Night Owl Romance, http://www.nightowlromance.com/. We have lots to share and author chats. I know that I and the other girls would love to meet you and provide you with book information. We also have a sister site - http://www.mybookflick.com/ where we have a whole system of romance book videos. There's no need for you to go over to You Tube and stroll through the system looking for the videos. We bring them to you! Authors can also add their first one to the system for free, and that provides lots of variety.


Thanks for having me! :)


And thank you, Tammie, for your great answers!


Be sure to check back here for more interviews!


"Strip Poker for Two", by April Ash, www.ellorascave.com, releases 20 August. Visit http://www.aprilash.net/ AND http://www.mariannestephens.net/ for lots of information on my books!






Monday, July 28, 2008

Kiss and Tell in Publishing

This is something I wrote after I was offered my first contract. I hoped to impart some useful information to other writers/authors.

It finally happens. You're offered a contract from an ebook publisher after years of writing, sending queries, receiving rejections. Your heart pounds. Your pulse races. That joyous, euphoric sense of accomplishment makes you want to happy dance in the streets...but you think twice about that idea. Neighbors would surely assume you'd gone insane. Plus, dancing maybe isn't your best skill!

But, hey. You're flying high on that number nine cloud. Years of trying to prove you could achieve the dream of being an author materialized. A message of "This is better than sex" flashes in your head...

Backtrack on that thought. You regain your sanity real quickly. Nope. Even in a slightly insane state, you'd never be able to let that thought linger in your head.

It's amazing how people react to your news. Those that love you, wish you well. Others who "don't read romances" congratulate you with a look of "sorry, I'll never read it". Some wonder why you've gotten published while they're still trying. And the last group seem perplexed by the fact that you've accepted an offer from an electronic publisher.

You enter into a relationship with your publisher. What you can and can't discuss about your contract and your publisher's business binds you together, like a new couple. Hence, kissing and telling becomes your decision and it can't be taken lightly.

Questions accompany all who respond to you. When does your book come out? Can I buy it at a bookstore? How much does it cost? What's your contract like? How much do you get?

You try to answer all questions, although some make you feel a bit uncomfortable. The easy ones have answers that flow unconstrained, simple and to the point.

"No, you can't get this at a bookstore. This is an ebook. You download it to your computer or to an ebook reader." Okay...not so simple to those who haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about. But you smile happily and explain what's involved, and usually the response you get is, "I'll wait until it comes out in print." You accept their response graciously and move on to someone else.

The cost? Will you know before the book's published? Some authors do and some don't. You may have to smile and answer, "I'm not sure right now."

Now the contract questions. Some publishers post their standard contract on their website. Others don't. Still others have a standard contract but each author receives one tailored to their needs, desires, what you both agree to...a specific one detailing your conditions in signing with your publisher. Therefore, there is no standard contract for everyone.

Along with this comes a confidentiality agreement if your publisher has one for you to sign. Basically, you agree not to divulge information about your contract or information passed on by your publisher that's strictly for in-house personnel...staff and authors.

So. How do you answer those questions about your contract? You've already "kissed" your publisher so now there's no "telling" if you've signed that agreement not to reveal information. Your choice is to speak in vague terms. "I have options I may take. I may get my book into print eventually. My publisher holds certain rights to my book." You get the picture. Nothing specifically spelled out.

The last question is asked by some simply out of curiosity. Others ask with a different reason in mind. For the curious ones, once again, you give a vague answer. "Oh, around half of what the book costs." Not an exact truth, but enough to satisfy them.

The ones who ask with that different reason in mind seem to be the same ones who question your sanity in going with an epublisher. You still smile and give your vague answers, but that may not satisfy them. Some groups like Romance Writers of America and individuals who are same-minded about pitting print publishers against epublishers seem to make it their business to expect you to divulge your income. Why? To make them feel vindicated about their stance?

You've kissed, so there's no telling. And, it's really nobody's business what you make. Exceptions are your publisher, the IRS (in the US), and yourself. Outside of those, you'll be gracious in answering the well-meaning curious people, but be leery of the ones trying to downgrade your success. They're the ones you need to ask, "Did you ask your doctor what he makes? How about the engineer at your local phone company? Your son's math teacher?"

Personal experience...Someone not impressed with epublishing (although she hasn't published in years) stated that authors should make enough to live on, inferring an ebook author couldn't compare to a print one. I looked at her and asked, "Do you?" That stopped her train of thought very quickly.

My point to epubbed authors? Kiss your electronic publishing company and tell what you can and want to impart. But smile when you do and always keep a professional profile.

"Strip Poker for Two", by April Ash, will be released 20 August. For details, check www.ellorascave.com or www.aprilash.net.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Save That Computer Stuff!

Yes...my name is Marianne and I'm computer-challenged. I admit this freely. I feel like I'm spinning my wheels all the time, just trying to keep on the edge of computer knowledge, and then something always goes wrong and I'm ten steps behind.

Email accounts. We all have them. Most have more than one...I do. But I stayed faithful to the one account I've had since I first entered the wonderful world of computers. It was always comforting, familiar, and welcomed me each day like a friend. I slipped into that state of complete bliss just knowing I could use it whenever I wanted. And, my address book teemed with family, friends, and publishing/business contacts.

Ah...the business side of email accounts. My publisher, editor, publishing loops, special friends in my writing world. I devotedly checked my email on a daily basis, usually more than once.

Disaster struck one Friday night. I couldn't get into my account. Panic welled inside me but I hoped it was just a temporary glitch. And, I smugly decided, all was safely backed up in the program the email account managers had offered.

So, I stayed calm, assuring myself that my address book, inbox, and files for sent messages, publisher information, saved messages, fun stuff, and twelve other files for other things would magically appear the next day or surely in the back-up program.

No problem. I felt safe.

Then came the next day, Saturday. My husband worked all day sending and receiving messages from my email account's service. Nothing worked. Not only couldn't they understand why I lost everything, but they also couldn't figure out why the back-up system failed and had nothing in it...and I'd been faithfully backing up for months. And, to add insult to injury, some of the "technician's" messages were standard form messages, not even addressing the questions asked. Oh...they did manage to send me an address list from my address book...except that it was at least 8 years old. I knew that for a fact since someone on that "retrieved" list had died in 2000.

Panic set in that Saturday night. I had to go to all my loops and redirect message to different email accounts. Also had to request that if anyone had sent me personal answers to questions I'd asked on loops to please resend messages to a new address. I had to notify my editor, publisher and others in the company of my change in address.

Friends and family. My address book. Now I was faced with the real tricky part of getting all that information back without making a gazillion phone calls. I found an old (June 2007) address list I'd printed out. From that, I emailed twenty or so names that I knew hadn't changed addresses and asked if they still had/kept any general group messages I'd sent recently (new book release, book out in print, etc., announcements). I needed them to forward my message back to me so I could retrieve some addresses.

Yes! Some wonderful friends and family members had kept my messages, or hadn't had time to read them yet, and sent me addresses. So I rebuilt my address book at a different location.

My point to writers and readers?
Back up all important messages and, well, anything you don't want to lose in cyberspace
.
Print out your email list once a month (I already have it marked on my calendar).

Somehow, no matter how fast technology pushes us to utilize computers, backing up on different computers, flash drives, in different files, folders, programs, can help. And, a paper copy of valuable information placed in a filing cabinet is always a alternate, positive choice.

What do you do to keep your computer stuff from disappearing?

Check out the following websites:
www.mariannestephens.net
www.aprilash.net

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Who's Katie O'Hara?

Today I'm interviewing my heroine, Katie O'Hara, from my latest Cerridwen book, "Gone to the Dogs". She's had a rough time after losing her fiance, Roger, to the boss's daughter, and then was downsized in her job. Let's see how she handles some questions.

Marianne: Katie, you've recently moved from New York City to a Kansas suburb of Kansas City. How's that going?
Katie: I'm adjusting. Living with Aunt Phoebe involves living in a whole other time dimension, but I love her dearly. While I miss my life in the fast lane in NY, there's something to say about living here in the Land of Oz. It's kinda growing on me.

M: Is there something you especially miss about NY? Really like about KS?
K: NY bagels. There's nothing like them anywhere on earth. Hmm. Like about KS? Well, there is Mike...but you didn't ask who I like, did you? So I'd have to say I like the friendliness of most of the people here.

M: Now that you mentioned Mike, tell us all about him.
K: Well, we just seem to butt heads all the time, you know? He's a fireman who's hell-bent on saving me, playing rescue guy. Yeah. Okay. I admit sometimes I need his help. But he's irritating, fascinating, annoying, charming, frustrating, hunky. Crap. He drives me nuts and sends my hormones into overdrive.

M: Wow. Sounds like a love-hate relationship. Thin line between those two.
K: (Sigh) I know. But my goal is to do a great job and then return to NY. I can't let Mike keep me here, can I? See? I can't think straight since he entered my life.

M: Why don't you tell us about your new job. How's that going?
K: I'm a marketing consultant for the Yipsey Dipsey Company. My job's to help Danny Yipsalante make the right decisions in marketing his first product. It's tough since I've gotta let him lead the way since his grandfather, the company's owner, wants Danny to do this more or less on his own. It's gotta sell or else the company will go bankrupt.

M: What's the product?
K: It's a new drink called Whoopsie. And I'm telling you, the first few versions of it had me ready to admit defeat and head outta town. But, Danny and his sister (who's the mixture expert) finally came up with a drink I figure we can market.

M: Any problems getting it done?
K: I've been having some mishaps lately; things going wrong all the time. I'm getting more and more suspicious about some people here not wanting the company to prosper. I've got three definite suspects in mind.

M: Sounds like you have your hands full. But, let's get back to your love life.
K: I-we-I'm not sure what we have. Making love with Mike is wonderful, but I'm not sure I want to stay here. Like I said before, he tries to help me all the time.

M: And, that's a bad thing?
K: You ask all the hard questions. No. It's not bad. But, I let that lousy ex-fiance of mine control me and I won't let that happen again. (Sigh) Then again, Mike's not really like Roger, is he?

M: Only you know the answer to that. What's next for you to do with Whoopsie?
K: One final taste testing, this time under my constant supervision since the last one was sabotaged. I'm determined to have this Whoopsie version be successful.

M: And, then what?
K: I'll need to sort through my feelings about Mike. I know deep down inside I love him. But, I can't concentrate on anything until this job is done.

M: You mentioned mishaps. Are things getting better?
K: Uh, actually they've gotten worse. Someone ran me off the road. Could've killed me. But, I think I know who my enemies are so I just have to be more careful.

M: Katie, thanks for being with us today. Anything else you'd like to add?
K: Wish me luck on this taste test. Then, once that's settled, I'll have time to figure out what to do about Mike. Thanks for interviewing me!

You can read Katie's adventure in "Gone to the Dogs", available as an ebook at www.cerridwenpress.com. Reviews and excerpts available at www.mariannestephens.net.
Also, visit my April Ash website at www.aprilash.net. April's first book, "Strip Poker For Two", will be my newest release.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Me, Myself, and I

Are you one of those people who gets pulled in 14 different directions because you desperately try to satisfy everyone's need for you to do something for them thus fulfilling their perception of you? Or, do you attempt to be /behave/react the way you think they feel you should? Lord, I fall into that trap so easily you'd think I had multiple personalities.

Wait. I do.

I'm my real name (not telling!), then Marianne Stephens, and also April Ash. The real me is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, cousin, niece, aunt, grandmother, friend, volunteer. Hmm. That's 11 personalities right there.

Marianne Stephens is an author, critique partner, promotions expert (yeah, right!), speaker on writing, writing groups member, blogger, loop joiner (way too many!), treasurer for an RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter, etc.

Of course, as April Ash I do all of the above and am just beginning my career as an erotic romance author.

How do I pull off switching personalities to suit everyone else...especially when it comes to my writing? A better question might be...should I?

The three of me (me, myself, and I) sometimes end up going in circles trying to please everyone while catering to others. Sometimes the grandmother encounters the speaker who's trying to help the erotic author explain why I write what I write as April Ash. That has been a difficult task as the real me has found out. Telling people I write erotic romance books as April Ash hasn't been embraced by some as an accomplishment. In fact, some think I've "crossed over to the dark side" by doing so.

Both my pen names write romances with happily-ever-afters. The differences occur in how they get there and the language/details I write for each book. While Marianne Stephens enjoys writing the more sensual, funny, paranormal and sometimes suspense type of romance stories, April Ash has only written one funny, very erotic romance story. More story ideas flood my head for each to write. In fact, I'm working on more than one book now.

Can I please everyone with my very different approaches to romance writing? No. In fact, hell no. I can no more keep everyone happy with their ideas of who I am/what I should or shouldn't do than I could fly minus the use of a plane.

While I try to compromise on some things to keep others happy with their image/expectations of me, it gets harder to do that the more I want to see how far I can get with my writing career.

So, how do you handle keeping everyone happy...or, do you? Not getting what you want or expect can be a valuable lesson, no matter how old you are. I've got to have a therapy session with the three of me and learn to help others accept my combined trio of personalities!

Good news!
"Strip Poker For Two" by April Ash will be available on 20 August from Ellora's Cave (www.ellorascave.com). Think strip poker, boxers, love notes, chocolate fondue, and cannoli cream. AND, I forgot to mention a tuba! All play a part in this funny, erotic, romance story.

"Street of Dreams" by Marianne Stephens was "blurbed" on Barbara Vey's Publisher's Weekly Blog (http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/200028420.html).

Don't forget to visit my websites:
Marianne Stephens www.mariannestephens.net
April Ash www.aprilash.net
At these sites, you'll find lots of information about my books, contests, newsletter, etc.



Sunday, June 1, 2008

Welcome to Our Blog!

April and Marianne have launched their new blog. Some people who've known me have wondered if I had a split personality...now they know for sure!

Marianne has three sensual mainstream romance books available with Cerridwen Press, www.cerridwenpress.com, an imprint of Ellora's Cave. Two are paranormal romances and the third is a contemporary romance. This is the part of me who's more likely to sit quietly and drink a glass of champagne while chatting with friends.

April, however, is the other half of me...the one who loves to dance (as I did at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention just recently) and posed with the Ellora's Cave Men cover models! My first erotic romance story will be published by Ellora's Cave, released date TBA.

How did I go from writing sensual stories to erotica? I'd thought about it for a long time, wondering if I could push the limits a bit more and write one. Actually, once I started writing, the words kinda flowed the more involved in the story I became. I knew I wanted something to entice the reader but still keep humor weaved throughout the book.

I'd enjoyed writing my last three books for Cerridwen. Second Sight Dating, a funny paranormal story about a psychic who runs a dating agency, had me stretching my sexual content level. This book is available as an ebook at the Cerridwen web site and now also available in paperback at www.jasminejade.com, or can be ordered through local Border's or Barnes & Noble stores.


Street of Dreams
, a more serious, paranormal time travel romantic suspense, had me doing the same type of sexual extension. By the time I wrote Gone to the Dogs, a funny contemporary in first person, I had an inkling I could go beyond mainstream and aim for an erotic romance. Both are ebooks available at the Cerridwen web site.

While not for everyone...especially the faint-of-heart...April's erotic books will attract some. Marianne will continue to write mainstream, sensual romances for Cerridwen and leave the erotica writing at Ellora's Cave to April.

Each pen name has a separate web site. Visit Marianne Stephens at www.mariannestephens.net. If interested in joining her newsletter, send an email to marianne@mariannestephens.net. Put "Join Newsletter" in the subject line. I run a contest every month just for those on my newsletter list.

Marianne also has author information and runs a contest at The Romance Club, www.theromanceclub.com. Check there for more information.

Visit April Ash at www.aprilash.net. No newsletter yet, but that may be forthcoming.

Check out our web sites and visit our blog often!
Marianne & April

Ellora's Cave Men Cover Models

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