Thursday, January 27, 2011

Marianne Stephens

1) How did you start your writing career?
After reading tons of romance books, I decided to try writing one. I knew nothing about the process or industry, but bought a book about writing romance stories. I sent my book to agents and had three ask to read a full or partial. All rejected it. One agent was kind enough to tell me I needed dialogue in my story. I’d written most of it as narrative. I had much to learn. I took some writing weekend seminars and met someone who told me about Romance Writers of America and a local chapter, Mid-America Romance Authors. I began my journey to learn what I needed to learn in order to publish.

2) Tell us about your favorite character from your books.
In “Gone to the Dogs”, I love the heroine, Katie. I wrote the book in first person, and enjoyed being in her head the entire time. I felt a real connection to her! She’s from New York and moves to Kansas, and likes to do everything on her own (all just like me). I adore how she dances around romancing Mike, her fireman hero, but lets true love win.

3) Tell us about your next release.
It’s not a romance book! I’ve ventured into a different realm of writing: nonfiction. I had a nonfiction ebook published in 1999, and this will be my second. “Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall” is a ghostwritten account of her life in Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. It’s amazing what she had to do to survive those three years. Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.
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.

4) Has someone helped or mentored you in your writing career?

Yes. I credit some friends who nudged me when I was ready to give up…Sandy Marshall and Cheryl Rabin. And, author Carla Cassidy has been a major source of support and help. She gave me some insight into my writing and inspired me to make changes. I sold right after heeding her advice!

5) When was your first sale?
October 2006. I sold “Second Sight Dating” to Ellora’s Cave for their Cerridwen Press imprint. It’s a story about a psychic who runs a dating agency…and the undercover detective who’s assigned to investigate what she does by becoming one of her clients.

6) What is the hardest part of writing your books?
The middle. Even though I have a sentence outline I follow, I always get to that middle section and go brain-dead. I have to stop what I’m doing and wait for days until I can think clearly again.

7) Who are your books published with?
Mainstream romances by Marianne Stephens: and (Was Cerridwen but now Blush)
Erotic romances by April Ash: (Ellora’s Cave)
Nonfiction by Marianne Stephens:

8) Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?
Marianne is my “real” first name, but Stephens is not my “real” last name. My “real” last name is always mispronounced and sometimes not spelled correctly by others….so I became Marianne Stephens. When I started writing erotic romances, I decided to add a new pen name. I choose April Ash since it was short and easy to put on promotional items!

9) What are your favorite TV shows?
NCIS, CSI (all of them), Psych, Numb3rs, Fox News, Kansas City Chiefs football games, and NY Mets baseball games.

10) Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
Don’t change your voice, but be willing to listen to advice. If you can’t accept constructive criticism, you won’t do well with critique groups. Remember that well-known authors can “get away” with some certain styles or techniques that beginners need to avoid. Don’t head-hop and watch dialogue tags.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First, I’d like to thank Amber for doing my interview! Readers can visit my websites: or . I can also be found at: , , and


  1. Hey, Marianne - this is such an awesome book! Good for you for writing it. :)

  2. Hi Marianne! I admire you so much for taking on what I'm sure was a very complex project, and helping Tamerla tell her story. Best wishes to both of you and Secret Cravings.
    XXOO Kat

  3. Sounds like quite the story! Good luck.

  4. Marianne,

    I'm so glad you kept at it to get published. Also, I hope Tamerla's daughter reads her story and can understand what her mother went through in making the decisions she did.

  5. Hi Marianne, great interview. That's exactly why I use Kage as a last name too. No one ever pronounces the "real" one correctly! Tamerla Kendall's story sounds very powerful.

  6. Thank you for writing Tamerla story. Sometimes one has to make decision that are not always correct, but at the time was the only one one possible. Maybe, hopefully the daughter will see that and bring her peace too.

  7. Great post and enjoyed knowing more about you, Marianne!

    Wishing you great Sales!
    hugs, Kari Thomas,

  8. Wonderful interview! I wish you the very best with your fascinating nonfiction tale - I can't wait to read it.

  9. Thank you all for your comments! It was a "labor of love" after hearing Tamerla tell her story...I knew I had to write it!

    Amber, thanks for having me here today!

  10. I read Second Sight Dating. I enjoyed it very much. I need to read more of you.

  11. Marianne - finally caught up with you after missing a few days & couldn't figure out how to comment yesterday on your NOR interview. Glad you came to Amber's site today - have seen her name before, but hadn't been to her site. Can't believe your tour is almost over - what a month!