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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meet Author Marianne Stephens...and April Ash!

Welcome to my writing world! I write both romance and nonfiction books. Fiction is easy to write since I can make the characters act the way I want...but, nonfiction is also easy since I have to stick to facts and not worry about creating a story from scratch! Both are easy; both are hard. I enjoy writing both!

Marianne Stephens writes sweet/sensual romance and nonfiction. April Ash has written two erotic romance books.

GIVEAWAY ALERT: One person who comments will receive a Romance Books '4' Us size XL tee-shirt! Be sure to write your email address in the text box with your comment.

I started out as a reader of regencies/historical romance, moved on to contemporary, paranormal, and erotic. I wrote a book in 1994 when I knew nothing about the industry...except that I loved reading romance books. Rejections flowed and I realized I needed help. I joined RWA and Mid-America Romance Authors in 1994. It took years of writing to realize...thanks to multi-published, romance author, Carla Cassidy...that I was writing episodes, not stories that "flowed" from chapter to chapter. She told me this in 2006...and that's when I edited a book and sold it later that year.

Q: How did you celebrate publishing your first book?
A: My then-editor, Helen, lives in Australia. She emailed me offering a contract for Second Sight Dating...but it was around midnight my time. My husband was already asleep, but I woke him up to tell him the good news. I waited to call my kids/friends/relatives.

Q: What is the most important thing you do for your career now, as compared to when you first started writing?
A: Promo: all kinds. I wasn't good at getting my name "out there" and being in groups. Now I even give talks about being an author.

Q: Of all your characters, who’s your favorite, and why?
A: Katie in Gone to the Dogs by Marianne Stephens. I wrote this book in first person and loved being in her head the entire book.

Q: If you could change something about your first book, what would it be?
A: I'd add more pages to the ending. Second Sight Dating is about a psychic who runs a dating agency, and I'd love to add more detail to the last chapter.

Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: I like to use "everyday" names that people can relate to: Katie, Mike, Eileen, Jeff, etc. I think it makes readers feel more of a sense of intimacy with characters.

Q: Covers. Ever get one you wish you could change? 
A: YES! Sexy Games by April Ash has a cover I'm not fond of. There's nothing in it I requested and the naked rear end on the cover is something I specifically asked not to have. Sometimes an author has no say in what the cover looks like.

Q: If you could give a younger version of yourself advice, what would it be?
A: Start writing sooner!

Q: Have you ever used an incident from your real life into one of your books?
A: Yes. In Street of Dreams, I have the hero and heroine experience the first East Coast Blackout in 1965. Been there; done that! Lived through it so I could have them face the same problems everyone did at that time.This is the "book of my heart".

Q: Any part of a book that drives you crazy as you write: beginning, middle, or end?
A: The middle drives me nuts, even though I know what has to happen.

Q: Out of your entire backlist, which book has the best opening line? What's the line?
A: Book: Gone to the Dogs. Best opening line: "Your dog ate your underwear". This actually happened (not my underwear but my daughter's), and that's what the vet said when I rushed the dog to the animal clinic. The dog was fine although I was very worried at the time. Later, I thought it would be a funny way to start a book and used that line as an opening hook.

Fun Stuff:
Q: What is your favorite holiday and why?
A: Christmas. I love to decorate and enjoy the warm feeling/greetings I get from others.

Q: What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
A: I once slept on a college lab floor in a room with caged rats. My college roommate wanted to visit her boyfriend and I went with her. It was too late to find somewhere to sleep, so we went to the lab. They needed privacy, so I ended up alone in the room with the lab rats!

When I lived in Norfolk, VA, I dated a few sailors from the same aircraft carrier. Since they worked shift jobs, I sometimes had two dates in one day! Ah, my younger, wild days!

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A teacher...and I did that. Taught Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. Also taught remedial reading and math.

Q: Favorite food.
A: Pizza with extra cheese.

Q: Favorite happy memory.
A: My wedding day two days after Christmas! And the arrival of all my kids and grandkids.

Q: Favorite drink.
A: Iced tea.

Q: Hot summer days or chilly winter nights?
A: Winter nights. Nothing better than snuggling up and getting cozy on a cold night.

Q: What is the top thing on your bucket list?
A: See a baseball game in every stadium. I've only been to 7 so far.

Q: If you could have a super power, what would it be?
A: I'd like to be immortal. I'd keep people "in line" and make them get along and behave!

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
Marianne Stephens:
Ellora's Cave: Blush Author Page
Secret Cravings Publishing:
Amazon Author Page:
Barnes and Noble:

Nonfiction Books:

April Ash:
Ellora's Cave Author Page

BLURB: Street of Dreams - Romance - Marianne Stephens

Mission Impossible describes what Detectives NICK OLSON and EILEEN MURPHY face while chasing escaped fugitives. The easy part? Battling for control of their mission while time traveling from 2039 Kansas City, Kansas, to 1965 Long Island, New York, before history’s timeline can be changed. The hardest part? Resisting hidden desire for each other while posing as newlyweds and sharing a heart-shaped bed.

BLURB: Luke: The Miracle Dog - Nonfiction - Marianne Stephens
Luke's is a true story of a dog (Shetland Sheepdog - Sheltie) who gets lost, hit by a car and left for dead, found, and the struggle to get him healthy again. Many people helped search for Luke, assisted in his rescue, and aided in his recovery.

Luke's struggles were many; it's a miracle he survived. Although not as healthy as he was before, Luke manages to move while using a walker/cart, eats, and plays with his other sheltie "siblings". He's an inspiration for all; his fight to survive and live his life as best he can shows others the importance of never giving up hope.

This is written at a 6th grade reading level, but adults will enjoy it and can read it to younger children. Photos of Luke's recovery progress are included.

A percentage of book sales will be donated to animal organizations.

BLURB: Strip Poker for Two - Erotic Romance - April Ash
CONTEST: In one week: Seduce a man, steal a pair of his underwear, and get him to write a detailed note about your sexual adventures together. Best entry wins. PRIZE: A one-week, all expenses paid vacation at a condo in Hawaii.

MELISSA FOSTER, now recovered from a bad relationship, is ready for fun, no ties. As an ex-military brat, she wants no part of military life. The other two contestants, coworkers, select a man for her.

Career Army Captain JASON MOLINA, a childhood friend and now living in the area, is Melissa's target. He too is looking for fun and no ties after having dealt with a betraying ex-fiancée.

To capture his undivided attention, Melissa devises different versions of strip poker...but they find it very hard to finish each new game before lust prevails. Looking, touching, tasting, all take a part in their games...and so does cannoli cream!

They fall in love, but the strength and depth of that newly-found bond is soon tested. Contest? Underwear? Note? Military Life? Trust? Can they resolve their differences and the ensuing confusion over the contest revelation in time to save their relationship?


Gemma Juliana said...

What a wonderful interview, Marianne. I would give my younger self the same advice: start writing sooner!

Jean MP said...

Enjoyed reading your interview!

Paris said...

Great interview, Marianne. I loved your favorite first line, lol!

Rose Anderson said...

Lab rats! Now that should go in a book. I've enjoyed learning more about you, Marianne.

Carly Carson said...

That was a great first line and yes, you should also use the lab rats (ewww!) story.

Sandy said...

Marianne, I'm going to buy Luke's story for my great-niece. It will be an encouraging story for her with what she's going through now.

I loved your interview. I was in the Bahamas during the black out in NY.

Adele Downs said...

It was fun to learn more about you and your writing, Marianne. Best of luck for your continued success.


Sandy said...

Great interviews. Thanks for sharing so much about you and your accomplishments. I love learning about authors. Can't wait to read more of your stories.

Molly Daniels said...

*ahem* I, ah, wasn't born yet when that blackout occurred....

Love your books and looking forward to more:)

Tina Donahue said...

Congrats on all your wonderful books, Marianne! Your reviews are awesome and well-deserved. :)

M. S. Spencer said...

Great interview Marianne. You're so right about promo--I learn something new every day I should have been doing all along. Sigh. Meredith

Stephanie said...

Sounds as if you have a bunch of real life situations for inspiration, Marianne! :)

Thanks for the hilarious interview!

Harlie Reader said...

I loved Second Sight Dating and Street of Dreams.

Great interview. :)


Harlie Reader said...

Lab rats! Ick!


Harlie Reader said...

Lab rats! Ick!


jean hart stewart said...

Great interview to go with your great books....

Cara Marsi said...

Great getting to know you, Marianne. I love the blurbs and excerpts from your books. And I also love your favorite first line. The lab rat story made me shiver. EWWW!

Emily said...

I loved the interview Marianne, thanks for sharing! I didn't realize that authors don't always get a say on their book cover, seems like something that would automatically be theirs to decide since it is their book. Anyways, loved the interview, and I will definitely check out your books.


Mary Preston said...

I enjoyed the interview thank you. I'm the same in thinking that authors had more say as regards their book covers.


chey said...

Great interview!

chey127 at hotmail dot com

Melissa Keir said...

It's great to know more about your Marianne. I love rats. My daughter had 5 at one time and one was really sick one night so I got to snuggle with it. Poor thing lasted another few weeks. I couldn't believe it.

All the best!

Marianne Stephens said...

Winner of tee is Emily!
Thanks to all who commented!

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