I'm begining some author interviews on here. I'm attempting to make Tuesday my day to introduce you to some wonderful voices and stories. So, let's get that ball rolling by meeting contemporary romance author, Marianne Stephens.

Thanks for being with us today, Marianne. You've got a fabulous title out, Anything You Can Do, and it's not your only wonderful release. You now have 2 erotic romances (as April Ash) and 4 contemporary romances available. Amazing success!

Could you briefly take us on the journey with you – when did you start writing, did you start in the genre you’re published in now, what hurdles did you have to overcome, etc.

MARIANNE: I began writing in 1994 after years of being a romance book reader. Wrote my first manuscript and sent queries to agents. Had one ask to read a full and two asked for partials. Got quick rejections for the partials. The agent who requested the full also rejected it, but gave a suggestion: put dialogue in the story. I’d written most of it as narrative. I had much to learn so took some weekend college writing classes and joined Romance Writers of America and Mid-America Romance Authors. I was on the road to learning what was wrong with what I was doing and how to change!

Obviously you write in the contemporary genre. Is that your favorite genre to read? Do you write in any other genres, or under any other pen names you’d like to share?

MARIANNE: I love reading regencies, the genre that first caught my attention as a reader years ago. However, I write contemporary/paranormal romances as Marianne Stephens and erotic contemporary romances as April Ash.

Of the books you have published, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?

MARIANNE: Favorite book is “Street of Dreams” by Marianne Stephens. The hero and heroine detectives time travel from 2039 to 1965 to catch a killer. Love time travel tales, and 1965 Long Island, New York, is a period/place I remember so could weave my own memories into the story.

What are your published titles and please tell us about anything coming down the pipe next.

MARIANNE: Marianne Stephens: “Second Sight Dating”, Street of Dreams”, “Gone to the Dogs”, and “Anything You Can Do”.

April Ash: “Sexy Games” and “Strip Poker for Two”.

I’m working on another paranormal contemporary and an erotic contemporary.

Let's Talk about Anything You Can Do for a little bit. Would you tell us about your plot development? How did the idea spur, did you have to do much research, any interesting tidbits that we should know?

MARIANNE: The idea for “Anything You Can Do” came to me one day after hearing the song, “Anything You Can Do” from the musical “Annie Get Your Gun”. I decided I needed to write something about the heroine challenging the hero…and, having been a teacher (taught grade school), thought about how some men are clueless to teaching young children and especially how daycares operate (taught computers to preschoolers in daycare facilities, too). One incident in the book has a child arrive at daycare, sit next to a plastic-lined trashcan, and puke as a daily occurrence. This actually happened to a child in my class when I taught kindergarten.

Everybody loves a good hero -- let's talk about yours. What's one thing about your hero we wouldn't necessarily learn in the book? A secret dream, an embarrassing habit, an episode from childhood -- that kind of dirt.

MARIANNE: The hero, Jeff, wants the kind of marriage his parents had, but hesitates to tell his mother as she already tries to “help” him find “the right woman”.

All heroes are unforgettable in one way or another. What’s one thing about your hero that makes your heart go pitter-pat?

MARIANNE: His gentle touch and the sexy look in his eyes.

If your hero doesn’t have a pet in your novel, what kind of pet would best suit his personality?

MARIANNE: Traveling as much as he does, he doesn’t have time for a pet. When he settles down with the heroine, a small dog would suit both of them. Something they get as a puppy and can train together.

Moving on to heroines – Everybody has flaws. Sometimes they are endearing, other times they are annoying. What is your heroine’s greatest fault?

MARIANNE: Allison dwells on her past, especially about her ex-boyfriend. She lets the hurt of his leaving her taint her new relationship.

Without giving away details that might spoil the story for those who have not read it, could you tell us the one strength your heroine provides to your hero?

MARIANNE: She shows Jeff how determined she is and how her plans for a new daycare involving his company would benefit them both.

If your heroine was your daughter – what advice would you give her upon meeting your hero?

MARIANNE: Challenge him. He’s the type of man that would eventually see the practical and personal rewards/sides of her requests.

If we peek in on your hero and heroine’s lives ten years from now, can you give us a glimpse of what we’d see?

MARIANNE: Happily married, Jeff and Allison have three children. He still runs Ryan Industries and as the owner/operator of the now ten-year-old Ryan’s Rugrats facility, Allison is overseeing new renovations.

With all that exciting information, let's share the official blurb:

Hunky CEO vs. kids in childcare for a week, all for a dare to prove he can do anything the tantalizing daycare owner can do! HEAT RATING: 2

What happens when a childcare, clueless male CEO mixes with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers for a week, all because of a dare? Can he keep up with the kids...and maintain his sanity...while becoming more and more attracted to the daycare's owner, the woman who issued the challenge?

When her daycare facility needs financial aid in order to offer the employees at Ryan Industries the best care for their children, Allison Minetti approaches the CEO, Jeffrey Ryan. After he fails to answer her requests for a partnership, Allison dares him to spend one week at the center. Jeff accepts the challenge and ups the ante by demanding her company for the weekend if he wins.

Instant mutual attraction leads to a week of seductive teasing and brief steamy encounters. Is there a way for them both to win? Or will someone's interference in their challenge lead to mistaken conclusions and pull them apart?

Boy that sounds interesting. The men I know would fall flat on their face in that environment! Let's see how Jeffrey handles it, in this excerpt:

Allison thought she'd go crazy. Being stuck in an overheated elevator within kissing distance of a sexy, charming man, made her crave to purr like a kitten. The electricity charging the air between them should've been enough to jump-start the elevator.

As sanity warred with the fantasies marching through her brain, Allison scooted a short distance away from Jeff. She smoothed her skirt before pushing back the damp curls clinging to her forehead. Damn his kissable lips. Their closeness weakened her control and made her vulnerable.

"I wish they'd work faster." Exhaustion and the heat, coupled with embarrassment and passion, tore at her composure.

"So. One week with you and the kids. I won't be left alone with them, right?" A tinge of nervousness colored his question.

Allison laughed and then said in a nonchalant tone, "Absolutely not. I have to make sure they're taken care of in case you decide to escape."

A sly grin spread across his face. "Just checking. I wouldn't wanna whip them into shape and encroach on your territory."

A niggling doubt crossed her mind. When he'd accepted the challenge, she'd been positive he wouldn't be able to handle even one day in the daycare. Could he make it through a week?

"I've gotta stand up and stretch. Maybe the air from the vent will reach my head quicker that way." Jeff maneuvered his body into an upright position. "Hey, I think it's cooler when you stand." He offered his hand to Allison.

She grasped it, and prickles of heat raced up her arm. He gave a gentle tug and helped her up. Once standing, Allison wiggled her hand free and concentrated on yanking down her skirt. Doing something, anything, helped her forget his burning touch. "Yep, it's cooler this way." She fanned her face with her hand.

"Should we shake hands and seal our deal?" Jeff stretched out his hand to once again encase hers.

"Let me make sure I absolutely understand this. If you live through one week of daycare, all I have to do is accompany you around town for a weekend, no strings attached?"

He drew back his hand and placed it over his heart. "That's the deal and all I ask." He grinned and added in a sexy tone, "Unless you decide to change the rules."

Allison considered the realities of their agreement. Although confident she'd win, logic wormed its way into her assessment of their dare. Even if she lost, she'd be in his company. She could sneak her requests into their conversations, so it wouldn't be a total defeat.

"Hey down there! Grab onto something or hit the floor. I'm gonna start up the motor!"

With one huge grating sound, the elevator jolted and rocked into action, causing them to lose their balance. They stumbled as the car sped upward. Jeff landed in a sitting position.

Unsteady on her feet, Allison tripped and lost her footing. Jeff reached out, gripped her hips to stop her from falling backward, and pulled her down toward him. She landed with unladylike grace in his lap, renting inches of splits in her skirt seams as she straddled his body.

They grabbed onto each other, locked in an intimate embrace. Basic instincts took over. Her lips slid across his, and her hands wound into his curly hair. His tongue teased her into a frenzy of soul-searching kisses.

Jeff groaned and moved his head back to rest against the wall. "Wow. Very nice."

With her heart pounding, Allison reeled as she tried to regain her composure. His kiss left her panting for more. She missed hearing the elevator door open.

"I see you managed to occupy yourselves," a woman's voice stated.

:Whistles Low: Whooo-whee. I've never been stuck in an elevator, but that sure makes me rethink the situation.

Just to give everyone a little more information about you, I have a few more questions.

What’s been the greatest contributing factor to achieving the goals you’ve accomplished?

MARIANNE: I got some good advice from Carla Cassidy…bless that wonderful author! She pointed out that I have a habit of writing episodes in my stories. When I reviewed what she said and looked at what I wrote, she was right! I needed to connect the episodes so my stories would flow. I’m so grateful for her advice…and sold after making corrections in my writing.

What do you find most difficult about your job as an author?

MARIANNE: Writing the middle of a story. I have no trouble with the beginning and end, but the middle always slows me down.

What has surprised you the most about being a published author?

MARIANNE: The amount of time spent doing promotion. Getting myself on a schedule to do promotion work is challenging.

Okay, we'll let you get back to creating more heroes that make us want to be stuck in a claustrophobic space! Before you go though, tell us where we can find you, all the nitty-gritty stuff.

Marianne Stephens: http://www.mariannestephens.net/
April Ash: http://www.aprilash.net/


Marianne Stephens http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/profile.php?id=1518319389&ref=profile
April Ash: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/profile.php?id=1683746739&ref=profile

New Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancebooksrus

Newsletter Signup:
Email: Marianne@mariannestephens.net

Anything else you'd like us to know before you go?

“Anything You Can Do” is available at: http://www.breathlesspress.com

Other Marianne Stephens books can be found at:

April Ash books can be found at:

Thanks much, Marianne for spending some time here with me. I'll look forward to having you back with your next new release.


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5 Responses so far.

  1. Thanks for the interview, Val!

  2. Hi Claire, Hi Marianne/April,
    Great interview, your books sound fabulous. Congrats on your success.

    Best, Nance

  3. Good interview, Claire.

    Marianne, you must be a fast writer to have so many books out.

    Your blurb sounds great, and a elevator scene to boot. Wink!

  4. Great interview ladies! I love the premise and the title of this book;-)Congratulations on the new release my friend.

  5. Thanks Nancy, Sandy, and Paris for you wonderful comments! Enjoyed doing this interview!

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