The Tales of a Contemporary Romance Writer

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Talkin' Tuesday with Marianne Stephens!

Marianne! Come in, sit down! Please don't mind the contractors and 30lb cat that insists on following me around. His name is Schnitzel. I know, I know. Can you believe we've been living in a constructional mess for 9 months? *shakes head* Crazy. 
Coffee? Tea? Ready?

Today I'd like to introduce the multi-published, multi-genre writer and founder of Romance Books R' Us, Marianne Stephens! *all hammering ceases and applause it heard*

How ya feeling, Marianne? Good I hope.

Feeling great! Love autumn weather.
Me too. I can't wait for the leaves to change.

-So tell me, what's your favorite read or series?

Favorite book: The Lemon Cake by Judith Stafford. I love regency, paranormal, and contemporary romances.

-What/who got you reading?

I guess back in elementary school, I got hooked on reading biographies. Yes, I was the one who loved doing “book reports of famous people”.

-It seems like writing was a natural thing for you, but what part of it is the hardest?

The dreaded middle of the book. Even though I know what comes before and after, I get stuck in the middle. My muse seems to enjoy deserting me every time!

Those darn muses need to be put in their place! LOL

-Are you a too organized Plotter or Maniac Panster?
Sort of both. I write a sentence outline of events I want to happen. Doesn’t mean I won’t wander off in another direction, though.
Us writers do tend to wander don't they? :)

-I creep on Romance Books 'R Us quite often. Tell us a little about the site and NOT how you sometimes have to scold me. LOL
I started the RBRU yahoo group to transfer my newsletter list there. I got so tired of trying to send a monthly newsletter and running into trouble with AOL and other email servers. Knowing I couldn’t be entertaining all by myself by just sending a once a month newsletter, I invited 19 other authors to share the work of running the yahoo group. Then, we started the blog and it’s been lots of fun doing both the yahoo group and blog!

The group is a tremendous help to romance authors!

-You're also April Ash, erotic writer. (Loved Sexy Games!) The Sexy plots in your stories are very *blushes* fun. Who/What inspires them?
April thanks you! My books were very sensual to begin with, so I pushed myself to see if I could write an erotic romance book. Both books were interesting to write. In Strip Poker for Two, the hero is an Army officer. My husband was an Army officer…but the book isn’t about our experiences…although, we DID get to Hawaii. 

-Is there any thing we all would be shocked to know about you?

I once slept on the floor of a college lab with 24 rats in cages nearby…one of my wild and crazy escapades during college.
LOL I think we would have been great friends in college!

For Fun

Red & sexy or Black & mysterious?

Black and mysterious…gotta keep men guessing!

Wine with cheese or Beer with TV?

Don’t drink either, so I’ll take cheese and TV!

Paperback or ebooks?

Ebooks…I’m hooked.

Independent kitty cat or adoring lovable dog?

Dog. Always had one growing up and still do.

Great cook or master at ordering take out?

I like cooking, but do so enjoy a break and having someone else do all the work.

What's your biggest pet-peeve, in the world, that makes you want to beat something/someone?

Being inundated with political ads. I’m already dreading the election next year.
 Back to Work

-You write a few different genres, contemporary, paranormal, erotic, 
how do you keep it all straight? (Gosh, I've tried doing it and failed miserably!)
I have a list of book ideas and generally know what genre I want the 
book to fall into before starting. 
-Are you insanely organized or are there note written on 
I’m organized, but don’t look at my desk! I tell my 
husband not to touch any pile of papers…I know where 
everything is (not always, sigh). 
It's called organized chaos. *winks*

 -What's the biggest misconception people have about you & your writing?
Just because I’m published, some people think I know all the right answers about how to get published. And, just because I have books published, doesn’t mean I don’t worry about receiving rejections.
I don't think people understand that we have to prove ourselves over and over. It can be very stressful.

 -You were a ghost writer for a non-fiction book. Ever feel the need to do it again?
I’ve done two. Once was about a speaker from a women’s shelter, and this latest book, Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall, is about a woman who struggled to survive while living in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). 

 -Do you ever get so overwhelmed you want to quit?
 I gave myself one more year of writing in the beginning of 2006…and then got my first contract.
-What part of writing makes you want to pull your hair out and 
scream like a banshee?
Finding descriptive synonyms for walk, talk, smile, said, etc. I keep using the same words over and over again!
LOL I had to find one for 'work' tonight and 'profession' wasn't sounding right!

-When writing, must you hide from the husband? (I know I have to!)

We share an office…he wanted to “bond” more. I told him okay, but no music when I write!

You're a patient woman and he is a brave man! Of course, he might not be the talker mine is. :)

-Finish this sentence: Romance is...

that special eye contact made that you both understand.
-Any advice for aspiring writers? 
Keep writing, join groups, get involved with the romance/other genre 
writing community. Lots of publishers are out there; find one that 
appreciates your voice.

Marianne Stephens is sharing her nonfiction story, Guilty Survivor with us today. ENJOY! BLURB:

Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.

Surviving a dark past is hidden by her fa├žade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.

Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall, lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.

She made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship. For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.
Links: <> (Marianne Stephens) <> (April Ash)

Schnitzel (speed bump) in the trailer we lived in for almost 4 months
Thank you everyone for 
joining me, especial Marianne 
for taking 
time out of her busy schedule 
to sit down with me. :)
Have a Sparkling Day 
everyone and I'll see you next week when 
I have the clever Chris Redding!
Rebecca Rose  


  1. wow. that IS a large cat! Thanks for this interview Rebecca and Marianne! I love learning more about the lady who started RBRU and her amazing successes!

  2. Thanks for stopping in Liz! Schnitzel was a rescue so he came fatter than that!
    Marianne is a great person and writer. I was so excited she said 'Yes' to visiting me. :)
    Have a Sparkling Day!

  3. Happy to be here and asked some interesting questions!