Let us all pause here for a moment of stunned awe.
OK, enough of that...
Let's meet her!
Marianne was born in California, met her husband in Colorado, got a puppy and got pregnant, then moved at 7 ½ months preggo with the group of them to the frozen north of New Hampshire where her thin blood keeps her indoors six months of the year. It's the perfect scenario for writing!
She has seven sweet, sassy stories with The Wild Rose Press, and has a novel, "One Love For Liv" from Samhain Publishing. Check out her website or blog for more information or to see what's going on inside her brain - If you dare!
Well, Marianne, You've certainly been making the rounds with blog interviews. Are blog interviews easier for you than phone or face-to- face interviews?
Oh, blog interviews for certain because I can edit. I don’t have a five second delay on my mouth. I tend to be a little on the sarcastic side, and some folks don’t understand that I’m only joking. I have a friend who says my attitude reminds her of Fish (played by Abe Vigoda… remember him?) .
How did your romance with romances begin?
I liked romance from the beginning, really. I love the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander, and I read those when I was seven or eight – and the very subtle and innocent romance between Taran and Eilonwy made my little heart go pitty pat. I graduated to Harlequin romances in junior high, still sweet but not as subtle. By the time I hit high school I purposely sought out romance novels almost exclusively. I love the emotion in a really good romance novel…**sigh**
You write romance stories, but what is your favorite genre to read yourself?
I really love almost any genre. I read fantasy (The Dragonriders of Pern or the Valdemar Series), Suspense (Dean Koontz’ earlier works), YA (Twilight) and more. But, if you notice, they all contain romantic overtones even though that isn’t the focus of the story.
Besides the necessary romantic relationship, what other themes will we find in your books?
I love comedy (“Pregnancy Cravings”, “The Christmas Curse” and “One Love For Liv”). I also love depths of emotion (“Don’t Fence Me In” and “Miles From You”), friends who fall in love (“Magic”). And a touch of the paranormal is fun, too, usually in the form of messages from the dead (“Now That We’ve Found You” and “Don’t Fence Me In”).
Several of my readers are also aspiring writers. In your ever so wise estimation, what are the (3-5) most important things they can do in order to be successful as writers?
1. Write. I’m not saying that to be facetious…really. Fact is, a lot of people talk about writing a book, but few ever sit their behinds down in the chair and write.
2. Finish something. Again, how many folks start a great story, but never get to The End? You’ll never be published if you don’t get it done.
3. Make certain your grammar is as strong as possible. Get a copy of The Chicago Manuel of Style or Elements of Style and study, study, study. If you send an agent or an editor a query letter full of punctuation problems, do you think they’ll bother with your submission?
4. Join a good critique group. This is invaluable. I credit my writing friends with any and all success I have and may have in the future. Find a group of people who are familiar with the genre in which you write, who are talented and honest, but kind. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself in regards to writing.
5. Submit your work. Again, sounds easy enough, but I’ve known more than one writer who just polished and edited and revised and never felt her work was good enough to submit. Maybe it wasn’t, but at some point you have to say, “Okay, this is as good as I can make it.” and send it off.
You are a wife and a homeschooling mother who's also raising a rambunctious puppy, How in the world do you find time to actually write and edit your fiction?
I never sleep.
I watch almost no television, for starters. I’m always amazed when I read writer’s blogs and they talk about the fifty different TV shows they love. Where do they find the time??
I get up early. I’m up, most days, by 4 a.m. Is it fun getting up before the sun? Not especially. But it’s important to me to get my work done. So I make sacrifices.
My DD is in fourth grade, so is able to do much of her work independently. After we “do” school—the part where I teach her any new stuff and review those things she’s weak in—she goes to the schoolroom and does her seatwork. It takes her an hour or two, and I spend much of that time writing.
The puppy? She’s learned that I’m not her playmate, my DD is. So when it’s just me she’s quite calm and quiet.
The simple fact is this: If something is important to you, you make the time to do it. Period. And, if it isn’t, you’ll find a thousand reasons why you can’t “find the time”.
And writing isn't all you do, is it? Tell us about your website:
My poor website…it’s terribly neglected. I looked there two days ago and realized that I hadn’t updated my “news” page to announce the release of my novel on February 12th. Oops. LOL… I’m also behind on the reviews pages and the excerpts pages, but I’m getting there. Times like these, though, I wish I had a webmistress that wasn’t me.
And tell us about your work at The Long and Short of it:
Well, starting a reviews website seemed like a good idea at the time. I roped in one of my writing partners, now my business partner, Judy Thomas. As authors, we hate to see other authors’ work ripped apart in nasty, snarky reviews. Maybe their stories ARE bad, poorly edited, and ridiculous. But we were raised on the adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We were also a bit tired of erotica getting all the attention, and decided that LASR wouldn’t review erotic romance (as an aside, one of my reviewers asked if she could start an erotic reviews blog and do the reviews we declined… and so we do have a “sister” blog that does them, but they aren’t promoted on the website proper).
And, thus was The Long and the Short of It born. We decided we would have a reviews site that only gave positive reviews of non-erotic stories. This doesn’t mean we lie about stuff… far from it. I’ve written more “we decline to review your story” letters than I care to talk about. If our reviewers can’t give it at least a 3 Book rating, we don’t review the story.
I work with the reviewers and build the website. Judy works with the authors, the people who submit articles and stories and tries to think of ways to get our name out there. It keeps us both very busy.
Is there more? Tell us all one deep, juicy secret about Marianne Arkins!
Hmmm… really, I’m an open book. Normal. Sweet. Average. Dull. I can’t think of any secrets, juicy or otherwise…
Groovy? What are you laughing at??
I know you write ebooks; Do you also write print books?
“One Love For Liv” will be released in print at the end of the year, and my big goal for 2008 is to write something that will fit into one of Harlequin’s categories. I’m not very good at squeezing myself into a box, but I’m going to give it a go. Who knows? Maybe a year or two from now, you’ll see me at your local WalMart.
Speaking of ebooks: I have several, but I find them quite cumbersome; They're expensive to print and they're inconvenient to read because they keep me chained to my desk computer. Nonetheless, they appear to be quite popular. What do you think is the appeal of ebooks?
Instant gratification. Ease of storage. Low price. And, if you have an eBook reader, it’s a breeze to read them. It’s only when you’re doing it on your computer that it’s an issue, at least for me.
Where can my lovely and faithful readers purchase your books?
I have several short stories available from The Wild Rose Press, and my novel is available from Samhain Publishing. All that info can be found on my website HERE.
And finally, prove to us that you are really a writer and not a figment of my imagination: I shall give you a jar of pickles, a snowman, a tropical fish tank, a three year-old, and slightly pudgy single father with claustrophobia. How would Marianne Arkins combine those elements into a romantic story line? (and yes, you add other elements!)
“Mommy?” Marcia poked Tilly in the thigh. “Why is that man standing in the corner of the ‘vater?”
Tilly struggled to move the half-full fish tank into the elevator car and spared a quick glance over her shoulder to see a man with his face in the corner. She paused, half in and half out of the car. “I have no idea.”
“Hey, mister?” Marcia walked to the man in the corner, clearly forgetting the constant warnings from her mom about talking to strangers. She dragged the cloth bag with their groceries behind her and Tilly cringed at the clanking sound the pickle jar made as it crossed the threshold.
The man swiveled around, but still scrunched himself against the back of the elevator. “Hi.” His eyes fixed on the open doors. “Oh, thank heavens, they’re open.”
Tilly laughed a bit. “Don’t like elevators much?”
“No.” His Adams apple moved up and down in a hard gulp.
“Then why not take the stairs?” She asked, relaxing a bit.
“The stairwell. It’s so small and closed in. At least this is faster and I need to get my son from the sitter’s.” He tugged at the snowman tie that hung loosely around his neck, pulling the knot completely undone.
“Can’t your wife help you?” Tilly finally managed to get the tank all the way into the car and moved to press the button for the fourth floor, only to find it already lit up.
“I wish,” he gave a short laugh. “She didn’t want to be a mom. Left Michael and I the moment she could get up from the hospital bed.” He pointed to the fish. “Where are you going with that?”
“My sister, Marilyn, agreed to take Flipper for us. My cats won’t leave the poor fish alone.” She sighed. “One of them had to go and she can’t have cats.”
“Marilyn?” His eyebrows rose in surprise. “Not Marilyn in 402?”
Tilly nodded and Marcia jumped up and down, yelling, “Aunt M!”
The elevator dinged and the doors slid open. Despite the fact the poor man clearly wanted to leap through them to freedom, he gracefully extended a hand to let them off first. “Can I help you carry anything?”
Tilly smiled and gestured to the cloth bag clutched in Marcia’s chubby hands. “Maybe the pickles and ice cream.”
“Ice cream?” He grinned. “Not strawberry, is it?” He patted the gut that extended just a smidge over his belt. “I can’t resist strawberry ice cream.” He took the bag from Marcia.
Tilly hefted her fish tank and followed her skipping daughter down the hall, oddly pleased that the man opted to keep pace with her. Her heart sped up a bit when she glanced sideways at him. He was a nice-looking man, not too tall, not to short, not too slim or chubby. Just an average Joe who faced his fears to help his son.
“It’s Neapolitan,” Tilly said finally. “Maybe you and your son would like to stay for a dish?” She pressed her lips together, hoping she wasn’t being too forward.
“Won’t your husband worry about where you are?”
Was it her imagination, or did he sound more than just a little curious about her answer. She shook her head. “No husband. He was killed in a car accident when I was pregnant with Marcia.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” He stopped in front of apartment 402 and turned to face her. “I’m John.” He held out his free hand.
She set down the fish tank and stretched out her hand in return, smiling as it was swallowed up in his firm grasp. “I’m Tilly.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Tilly. And, we’d love to stay for ice cream.”
AAaaaaaaw, Marianne. That was awesome! Thanks so much for visiting with me and my readers.