Every author, almost, has a circle of critique partners who willingly rip manuscripts into shreds to help the author reach the best work possible. We cry together, we laugh together, and we most definitely vent together. As a good friend once said, critique partners are like marriages. And no truer words have ever been spoken.

This year, I'm tickled pink to see the accomplishments my critique circle has made. In one month's time, five of the eight people I have worked with on a regular basis have climbed mountains.

Elisabeth Burke finaled in The Golden Heart for her historical romance entry, The Healer.
Dyann Love Barr sold to The Wild Rose Press.
Alicia M. Dean sold another novel to The Wild Rose Press.
Trisha (name withheld) has editors jumping to review her manuscript.

Another woman, Heather Snow, (who has not been a regular critique partner, but who I have worked with on occasion, and is a fellow chapter member and good friend) finaled in The Golden Heart with her Regency Historical, Sweet Enemy.

I said five, and left off one. A week ago I signed with literary agent, Jewelann Cone of the Atlantis Literary Agency. This is a milestone for me, and I'm ecstatic about it. I will not share details, but suffice to say that in the short time I've been under contract, I am extremely impressed with the work she's done.

So... critique partners -- WAY TO GO!!!

I'm proud to work with you, proud to have been able to contribue to your success, and I am indebted to the contributions you've made to mine.

Let's toast and hope the rest of this year goes just as well.


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I'm here with erotic romance author, Ashley Ladd, today, and am excited to share her interview with all of you. I've had the occasion to speak to her several times, and I think you'll find her as interesting as I do.

With that said, let's jump right in.

Ashley, let's start with a little bit about you in general. Then we'll go into all the spicy details about your newest release.

Would you give us a foundation to start with? When did you start writing, did you start in the genre you’re published in now? What hurdles did you have to overcome?

ASHLEY: I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, since at least age 6. Back then I only shared my stories with my dad. It wasn’t until the 1990’s when I seriously started writing with an eye to publication. When I started my first romance novel, a sweet contemporary, I was in college and had three young children at home. We lived on campus in a one-bedroom apartment two hours away from my husband where he was stationed on his Air Force Base in Mississippi. He only made it home on weekends so I had full charge of the children during the week. Also at that time, I really poured myself into my studies and put a LOT of work into school. But somehow, despite those demands on my time, (oh, and I worked part-time at the campus computer store in the accounting department also) I found myself with a little spare time so began writing again. That first book was terrible, by the way.

After I finished my bachelors degree, my mother died and my husband separated from the Air Force all in the same month. We moved to the area we are now and I jumped into a full-time job and also a Master’s MBA program, and my hubby enrolled all three children into baseball, so I was extremely busy again. Still, I joined RWA, joined a critique group, and kept writing sweet contemporary romance.

In 1998 I attended our local RWA conference and met my first publisher. Thus, right before the end of the century (which was my goal) my first book was published. After that, late at night, on lunch hours, and while watching the kids play ball I’d write. As the first three children grew, I found a little more time to write. I also started working closer to home so I didn’t waste as much time commuting.

My stories started to get closer to that open bedroom door and one day a well-known erotic romance writer IM’d me and asked if I’d thought about writing erotic romance, that she enjoyed my books. I was in awe that she’d know who I was and had read my books. At the same time I was hearing a lot of great things about Ellora’s Cave so I started writing steamier, erotic romance and submitted to them. The rest is history.

Except for one thing. I submitted a proposal for one of Ellora’s Cave MMF anthologies. I thought “MMF” meant one lucky female had two hotties worshipping her. I had no clue it meant the men were in love and were getting it on together first and the woman was an afterthought. I was a little shocked but had committed to write the story. When it sold like gangbusters, I thought I’d try another MMF story. That sold very well, too. So here I am, writing MF, MMF, MFM, and MM erotic romance.

We know you're an erotic romance author. However, 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?

ASHLEY: I write both erotic and sweet romance. My alter ego is Elaine Hopper who writes the sweet stuff.

I like a lot of meaty romance in the stories I read whether the bedroom door is open or closed. As a teenager, I dog-eared the pages of my Harlequins and Silhouettes that had the love scenes, so I guess that means I enjoy the hot stuff. But the romance is my first love.

As far as subgenre, it depends on my mood, but my favorites are: romantic comedy and time-travel. This coming May and August I have time-travels coming out with Total-E-Bound.com My sweet story coming out this summer with Amber Quill Press is a sweet paranormal romantic comedy. Otherwise, I haven’t written too many romantic comedies lately like I did in the beginning of my career, but I still love to read them and there will be lighthearted and even some LOL moments in many of my books.

That's quite a combination, and a very interesting span across the spectrum. Of the books you have published, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?

ASHLEY: That’s almost like asking me to choose between my kids and my pets. I love them all.

But yeah, I’m really fond of my sweet romance coming out with The Wild Rose Press March 24, 2010 called “Always A Bridesmaid”. I also have a big soft spot for “American Beauty” and “Purrfect Justice” published by Ellora’s Cave. I also quite like “Crazy In Love” and “Carnal Lust” coming out March 22, 2010 and May 2010 with Total-E-Bound. Carnal Lust was really different for me and quite a stretch but a fun one. It’s sort of a time travel but heavily historical. The only time I write anything historical (so far) is within the parameters of time-travels. I so enjoyed it, I’ll have to write more in this vein.

I'm impressed with your forthcoming release schedule. Very nice! It's a little bit redundant, but for ease of reference -- what are your published titles and please tell us about anything coming down the pipe next?

ASHLEY: Since I’ve had more than fifty romances published and at least forty are still available, I don’t want to overload anyone. They’re all listed at my websites which are at:

www.elainehopper.info and www.ashleyladd.com . My bestsellers are: Pirates Booty in the “And Lady Makes Three” anthology at Ellora’s Cave, “American Beauty” and “Purrfect Justice” both at Ellora’s Cave, “The Perfect Gift” and “Best Mates” at Total-E-Bound. My most recent releases are “Welcome To Paradise” and “Naked Ambition” at Total-E-Bound and “Pirates Booty” at Ellora’s Cave.

My upcoming releases are:

Ashley Ladd:
Crazy In Love - March 22, 2010, Total-E-Bound.com
Bad Conduct – April 19, 2010, Total-E-Bound.com
Carnal Lust – May 2010, Total-E-Bound.com
Scene of the Crime (in the Cougar anthology) – May 2010, Total-E-Bound.com
Whirlwind Relationship – August 2010, Total-E-Bound.com

Elaine Hopper:
Always A Bridesmaid – March 24, 2010, The Wild Rose Press
So You Want To Marry My Mom – July 2010, Amber Quill Press

Okie dokie, let's jump into this new novel. To bring everyone onto the same page, we're talking about Crazy In Love.

Tell me about your plot development? How did the idea spur, did you have to do much research, any interesting tidbits that we should know?

ASHLEY: The idea for “Crazy In Love” came from genealogical research. Actual journals and medical assessments written about a soldier after he came home from the Civil War depicted a tortured soul that called out to me. The story resonated with me and traveled into this century. I’ve dabbled a lot in genealogy and find it fascinating. This is the second story I’ve written sparked by my genealogy research. The other one, sadly, is out of print.

“Crazy In Love” is contemporary but since it features ghosts from the Civil War era it also has a lot of historical elements and took a lot of research, both for the story and dialogue. When I write dialogue I like to find real letters and documents written by people in the time and place I’m writing about so my characters sound authentic. In this case as I mentioned above, I was blessed to be able to read a two hundred page report in the people’s own handwriting and words. I was surprised that much of the language sounded much like ours. Medical terms were the primary difference but there were a few quaint words and phrases I found helpful.

Even when I write contemporary romance there’s still a lot of research involved. I lost a lot of weight along with my heroine Paige in “Civil Affairs” a few years ago. I was living Paige’s life, trying a similar diet, eating the same foods, doing the same exercises, weighing myself twice daily, really getting into the mindset.

When I was researching for my vampire novels “Blessed Be” and “Truth, Justice & The Vampire Way” I signed onto vampire loops – people who actually thought they were vampires – or were pretending to be. And of course a lot of internet research beyond that, and reading other vampire stories and legends. My critique partner was scared someone would target me and wanted me to get off those loops.

Wow. I think that really defines "getting in character". But in all sincerity, I find it amazing. I couldn't begin to get that in touch with my characters, and I commend you for your ability.

Let's move on to your hero. What’s one thing about him that we wouldn’t necessarily learn in the book? A secret dream, an embarrassing habit, an episode from childhood.

ASHLEY: Heath in “Crazy In Love” doesn’t like the paranormal. He had a “crazy” aunt that was New Age and believed in the occult which annoyed him. He’s not big on family history or extended family.

To relax after a busy day at the office, he likes to crochet. He would die rather than let anyone know that. He also likes to sing in the car and the shower and wishes he was young enough to try out for American Idol.

Hee! A crocheting hero. Okay I will keep his secret quiet... Well maybe not so much now that it's public here, but you can be sure to let him know we won't embarrass him in public.

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

ASHLEY: The way he loves and protects the heroine. How his heart melts when he looks at her or hears her voice.

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

ASHLEY: A big dog like a Husky or big, floppy mutt would suit Heath.

Well as much as we love our heroes, no Romance is complete without the heroine. Tell us about yours. Everybody has flaws. Sometimes they are endearing, other times they are annoying. What is your heroine’s greatest fault?

ASHLEY: She has an extremely fertile imagination which sometimes gets her into trouble. She should write books.

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?

ASHLEY: She keeps him guessing and is a mystery. She’s a lot of fun.

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

ASHLEY: Give him some slack. He works hard. Also baby him and lavish affection and attention on him. Be naughty with her man to keep him satisfied (and herself).

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?

ASHLEY: They’ll be doing a lot of naughty, fun things to keep their marriage spiced up, such as making out at the drive-in, in their back yard pool under the moonlight. They’ll be much closer to their family members and have a child or two. Plus the big dog that would go so well with the hero.

I can definitely sense the heat here! Before we go on, let's share the wonderful cover and those super-sexy details.

The ghost of Kacey's crazy great-grandfather threatens her life but just might save her marriage.

When the ghost of Kacey's crazy great-grandfather mistakes her for her great-grandmother, he threatens to kill her for cheating on him. Meanwhile her husband, Heath, finds out she believes he's fallen out of love with her and he sets out to show her just how much he loves her. However, he fears she's crazy as she claims to see homicidal ghosts.

Although Kacey longs to save her marriage, she doesn't know if she can stay with a man who doesn't believe her and thinks she's insane.

And let's take a quick peek at our Heath and Kacey, to get a sense of what they're facing in this excerpt.

Heath was climbing into bed, bare-chested, hair tousled and sleepy-eyed when Kacey reached the room. Despite his droopy drawers, he stole her breath. His hair feathered against the pillow, raven against the stark white case. More dark hair curled over his muscular chest, trimming down to a fine line that disappeared beguilingly beneath his waistband. His powerful thigh corded as he turned and punched his pillow.

Frissons of desire shot through her. Dare she hope? Could she entice him to stay up a little longer? It became paramount she did, that he prove he still loved her.

Gnawing her lower lip, she ached at her decision. She didn’t know if she could take getting shot down again. They hadn’t made love in almost a month. Or was it longer? It felt like forever. She didn’t know how much more she could take.

Her heart in her throat, she dimmed the lights, stripped and cuddled up to him. She curled her arms around him then insinuated her finger into the rim of his underwear. Nibbling on his earlobe, she huskily murmured, “You’re so hot. I want you.”

Heath stilled her hand then plucked it off and returned it. “God, Kace. I told you I have to get up early and I have a big meeting tomorrow. Not tonight.”

Way beyond disappointed, verging on mortified, she rolled off the bed. Her heart hammering in her ears, her knees shaking, she planted her hands on her hips and towered over him. “Fine! But when? You’re always too busy, too tired or too something. Maybe we should call it quits. I’m tired of this.”

Heath elbowed himself up and gaped. His jaw slacked, and his eyes flashed fire. “Can this wait ‘til another time? I really can’t do this tonight.”

Furious, she grabbed her pillow and, adrenalin flowing fast and furious, flung it at him with all her might, smacking him square in the face. “And I really can’t do this,” she spread her arms wide to imply everything, not merely this one episode, “anymore. Good night.”

She swept out of the room to the soundtrack of his ragged sighs and a half-hearted, “Kacey, don’t.” Fuelled by Emma and August’s strife, she marched downstairs and flung herself on the LaZBoy lounger in the living room. For about the first ten minutes, she hoped Heath would follow to apologise.

When the clock struck the hour twenty minutes later and there was no sign of her husband and she couldn’t dredge up a yawn, she dug back into Emma and August’s history. This time, she brought out their pictures and stared at them, trying to understand their plight and what it was like to live during the Civil War when Lincoln was president, before there was indoor plumbing or air conditioning.

But the faded black and white photographs, where the people sat so prim and proper, in such staid dress and lack of makeup, made it hard to relate. The words were different, however. They sounded a lot more contemporary than she would have imagined. Only medical terms like ‘piles’, ‘fistulas’ and ‘spells’ sounded old-fashioned. The feelings were totally relatable. Every emotion Emma bespoke reverberated in Kacey’s breast. When she closed her eyes, she could imagine them as real people with genuine problems.

Finally after pouring through the genealogy for hours, yawns overtook her. Her youngest cat, Trouble, snuggled up on her feet. Too tired to put away the papers, she set them on the coffee table.

Moments later, a breeze stirred the hair off her hot neck, and groggily, she looked around. What she saw made her gasp and her heart stop. August’s blustery, tormented face was inches from hers. Stunned and frightened, Kacey glanced about her, but she and August were alone. Her muscles froze. Her blood stopped flowing.

August’s scraggly beard was down to the second button on his shirt and bounced when he spoke. “How dare you leave me? You can’t throw me out and take my children. After all we meant to each other.”

Oooh! Release day is 5 days away, and I am dying to know more. Remind everyone again where we can get it from on March 22nd?

ASHLEY: “Crazy In Love” will be available at Total-E-Bound.com Monday March 22, 2010 at: http://www.total-e-bound.com/product.asp?strParents=&CAT_ID=&P_ID=736

Great! Can't wait to get my hands on it. Let's go back to a few more things about you. As a writer, what is your greatest strength?

ASHLEY: I’ve been told more than a couple times my greatest strength is dialogue. I like to make it both fun and realistic. I hate boring, stilted conversation. Silence is better than that.

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

ASHLEY: At the moment it’s definitely finding time to write and promote. My younger daughter is having a fit that I write and am on the computer way too much. She wants me to get off the computer, away from any kind of writing instrument and so things with her all weekend when I’m home from the day job. She’s 19. I love to be with her, spend time with her, and have fun with her. However, as good of a multi-tasker as I am, she’s not happy unless she has my undivided attention. I may have to put out an ad to find a suitable boyfriend for her like the mom did in “Because I Said So” and set her up without knowing it or like Danny Kay did with Bing Crosby in “White Christmas” just so I can get 45 minutes to myself a day to do my computer work without feeling guilty. Of course, when she finds a boyfriend and probably winds up spending all her time with him, I’ll be in a deep funk as I really love hanging out with her. But right now, she’s got her head down on the table, obviously bored to death and close to tears as she’s waiting for me to finish this interview.

If you write in multiple genres, Do you find it challenging to shift? Or is it a natural process?

ASHLEY: Shifting between genres and books, keeping characters and stories straight is easy for me. I’m a pro multi-tasker. The main challenge is finding time to write and keeping my daughter satisfied so I can. I hate feeling guilty about writing as I do at the moment. Then I feel guilty about not writing and not getting the edit done or the book cover request – or this interview – in a timely manner.

The other thing I’m finding to be a challenge is to promote two author names and keeping my names straight. A couple times I’ve done “Ashley” things when it should have been “Elaine” things and vice versa and not realized my mistake ‘til after I typed the “send” key.

Where can we find you? (Website, blog, twitter, etc.)


If you have a newsletter, how can we sign up?

ASHLEY: Not at the moment but I’ll have to start one shortly.

Well, before we let you get back to jumping between personalities and entertaining a wide range of Romance readers, is there anything else you want to share?

ASHLEY: Thank you for hosting me. I love to hear from my readers and fellow writers and can be reached at:


Thank you, Ashley. I'll look forward to keeping up with your coming releases and hope this year proves as promising as it sounds.


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0 Comments Posted by Claire Ashgrove at 1:25 AM

My apologies go out to Ashley Ladd. I was supposed to post her interview this evening, but between broken fences at the farm and some toddler incidents, the energy to turn rote questions into an engaging interview wasn't present.

Ms. Ladd, I will have your interview posted tomorrow evening.


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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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Anyone want to take a guess at it?

Some would say edits. Edits can get stale, yes, but they are just part of the job. Yes, if there's a particularly tricky revision desired, it can get tedious. But they just exist, and are part of an author's life.

Promotions? Meh. I don't so much mind promotions. I'm not particularly good at it, but if I had someone to tell me step-by-step what to do, I wouldn't mind them at all.

Rejection. Again, nope. Rejection's part of the game. Sure they can be crushing, but it isn't the worst part of being an author.

For me, the worst part of my job is...

Never-ending, constant, overwhelming, idea generation.

My critique partners and beta readers give me grief about being prolific, and having super-fast fingers. All in good humor, but often enough to make me blush. Sometimes, I've heard, "I wish I could write as fast as you...."

Trust me, no you do not. Because what drives the speedy fingers is this constantly buzzing flow of information in my head that spins ideas like spiders spin webs. Daily. Hourly. To the point I have to deliberately shut it off. I can't count the number of times I've sat here and caught a snippet off my son's cartoons to find myself starting down the mental journey of: "Ohh, wouldn't it be cool..."

When I start trekking down YA and Childrens', I have to put the brakes on my brain.

In the last week I've developed three romance ideas. I have a fourth that popped in and is lurking in the side of my head (I can feel it tugging right above my right ear!) that I'm deliberately not acknowledging.

Keep in mind, the current ideas I already have lined up, put me into September of this year as it is. And that's usually just books 1 and 2 of whatever project I've lined out.

The ones that are really solid get logged into a folder on my hard drive that grows exponentially to my completed titles. The ones I absolutely can't set aside get put in a different folder which ends up being my "farm team" for the folder of completed files.

I need three of me. But only one of me can have the ability to think for myself. The other two must not come equipped with the ability to make decisions for myself. They must have everything that makes me me, but be able to take strict directive from the first me.

I was asked this week, "How fast can you put a book together." My answer of 30-45 days made the next comment, which was intended to be "Well, [publisher] expects two books a year," moot. My answer -- no problem. I wrote seven last year.

While that might sound good on the surface. The deeper issue is, for every book I compose, I have a minimum of 5 new ideas. And my "To do" list never gets any shorter. Which, for a former project manager, is a hard swallow. My boxes to check off as complete outweigh my accomplishments easily double and that only makes me want to work harder. Faster.


So, that's the worst part. Too many ideas. Not enough Me.

That said, I am off to work on said paranormal listed on the tracking meter here.


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Oh happy day, happy day!

I just want to gush for a moment about the wonderful artist Rae Monet. Rae never fails to tap into my head and pull out exactly what I didn't know I was envisioning but wanted all the while. Her covers make me drool -- and excite me more about my releases.

So with much ado...

Here is the lovely new cover for A Christmas To Believe In, releasing through The Wild Rose Press, later this year.


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"Victorians used the term 'limbs' as a euphenism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture."
(History Channel International)



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