Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Author Feature: Marcia James


Current Read: Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas


Today I'm pleased to welcome colleague and friend, Marcia James!



*** Big round of AH applause ****

So, Marcia, one of your stories, “Rescue Me”, is part of the Tails of Love anthology that just came out this month. Tell us about “Rescue Me”.

In “Rescue Me”, ex-quarterback Adam “Nuke” Baumgardner saves a starving stray, and Buddy, the Chinese crested hairless dog, returns the favor by reuniting him with his lost love, veterinarian Claire Mendelsohn. Reviewers have described the story as heartwarming and humorous. One of the reasons I enjoy including “crestie” dogs in my stories is I love the comic contrast between a tough, Alpha-male hero and a tiny dog. And I’m a sucker for a pet who’s also a matchmaker. By the way, I have an excerpt of “Rescue Me” on my Web site’s Books page: http://www.marciajames.net/books.html

I checked it out and it's great! How did you get involved in the Tails of Love project?

Tails of Love (Berkley, June 2009) is NY Times bestselling author Lori Foster’s pet project, pun intended, and she invited me to donate a story to the anthology. I was thrilled to be asked. Lori supports many charities and spearheads a benefit anthology each year. 100% of the author and agent proceeds from Tails of Love will go to the Animal Adoption Foundation, a no-kill animal shelter in Hamilton County, OH. Lori contributed a story to the anthology, along with mine and those of award-winning and bestselling authors Kate Angell, Stella Cameron, Dianne Castell, Anne Christopher, Donna MacMeans, Sarah McCarty, Patricia Sargeant, and Sue-Ellen Welfonder. Each of the stories features an animal--from dogs and cats to a goat and a monkey. Lori created a cute book trailer for Tails of Love that I have on my Web site: http://www.marciajames.net/index.html

What's next from Marcia James?

The first in a comic romantic mystery series I’m writing, featuring a sex therapist/amateur sleuth, is with Berkley Publishing. The heroine “writes” a sex advice column on my Web site (http://marciajames.net/QandA/). Dorchester and Sourcebooks have requested the manuscript I’m finishing--a funny contemporary set in a clothing-optional Caribbean resort. Beyond Tails of Love, I don’t have a release date for my next book. There’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” in publishing.

You're not kidding. But how exciting for you! Tell us seven things we couldn't possibly know about you.

I have a list of “fun facts” on my Web site’s bio page (http://www.marciajames.net/bio.html), and the following is from that:

1. As a volunteer at charity events, I’ve met a lot of celebrities, including Tom Selleck, Paul Newman, Michael York, and Bob Hope. I have photos with some of the stars on my site (
http://www.marciajames.net/Photos_Celebs.html).

2. My wedding was covered by People Magazine because we encouraged our guests to donate to charity vs. giving us wedding presents.

3. I worked as a sound technician for an NBC-TV affiliate in Maryland. (This was a challenge, given the weather girl’s sometimes salty language.)

4. I was a movie extra in a church scene for the War and Remembrance miniseries. (The part required 1940s dress, hairstyle and make-up but no acting, thank goodness.)

5. I participated in a March of Dimes Celebrity downhill ski race in Big Bear, CA. My team captain was Olympic gold medal pole vaulter, Bob Seagren.

6. I wrote, produced and directed training videos for the U.S. Navy. We videotaped aboard nuclear subs, a minesweeper, a destroyer and a tender.

7. I once asked actor David Niven, who was appearing on The Charlie Rose Show, what Scotsmen wear under their kilts. (The answer? Nothing.)


Hahaha, that's an amazing list! What's the craziest place you've found inspiration?

Before I moved to Ohio, I worked in video production in Washington, D.C. I was involved in shooting a Chinese beer commercial and learned firsthand how difficult it is to get the necessary filming permits from the various federal and D.C. agencies who have jurisdiction over the nation’s capital. That lack of interagency cooperation gave me the idea for my first book, At Her Command (http://www.marciajames.net/books.html). The premise question for that comic romantic suspense: What might happen if the DEA, FBI, and D.C. police unknowingly put operatives undercover at the same sex club? The comic and sensual possibilities were endless. ;-D It was a fun book to write.

I'll bet. You've had a lot of varied experiences (jobs, travels, etc.). How do those experiences contribute to your writing?

As a freelance video producer/scriptwriter and advertising copywriter, I’ve worked on a wide variety of projects for corporations, nonprofit organizations, government, and the military. That gives me a lot of experiences to draw from when I write my contemporary romances. And the sense of humor I’ve needed to deal with many of the personalities I’ve encountered serves me well when writing hot, humorous fiction.

What's your best marketing advice for new authors?

My best advice is not to ignore the business side of publishing when learning the craft of fiction writing. Learn about promotion and branding before you sell. Once you’re a published author, choose those self-promotion options that work best with your budget, time constraints, books, and personality. I present author PR online workshops (check my site’s Schedule page for upcoming workshops: http://www.marciajames.net/schedule.html), and I see how stressed authors can get from attempting to do too much promotion or the types of promotion that don’t come easily for them--such as a technologically challenged person like myself trying to learn Web design. Since authors’ Web sites are our most valuable promotional tool, it’s important the sites look professional. I also recommend understanding what your brand is and making sure your Web site and PR materials reinforce your brand. Jenn Stark is the go-to person on author branding, and she has information on her site (http://www.jennstark.com/branding.aspx) to help authors determine their brands.

Great advice! I can't wait to take your PR class in September. If you could invent a new holiday, what would it be and why?

I’d establish “Read a Romance Week” for people who have never tried a wonderful, feel-good romance. It’s ironic that most of the people who denigrate romance novels have never tried one--at least not in this century. In addition, I could definitely get behind a “Support Your Local Author Day”. ;-)

Love both of those. :0) What's your favorite thing to do in the summer?

I’m not a beach person, but I definitely enjoy relaxing with my husband on our patio after dinner, reading a good book and watching the chipmunks and rabbits who like to hang out in our back yard. I also enjoy road trips through Ohio and neighboring states, especially when we come across small-town street fairs and yard sales. And year-round I like to get out from behind my computer to meet friends for lunch. Writing is a solitary job, so I enjoy socializing online, on the phone, and in-person.

I'm a backyard hanger-outer myself! I'm so sad - our plants got stripped last evening during a gargantuan hail storm. I'll post pictures on Friday...

Thank you so much for being here, Marcia!


AHers, a copy of Marcia's book At Her Command is up for grabs today. Comment, ask questions, just let us know what you're thinking for your chance to win! The winner will be announced Friday in a new blog post.

42 comments:

Marcia James said...

Hi, Tiffany! Thanks for inviting me to be part of your cool blog! ;-)

I'm sorry to hear that a hail storm ravaged your plants. We get some bad storms in Ohio, but we haven't had hail for a while where I live. I hope the plants recover soon. We had a mother and baby deer walk through our back yard on Monday. The wildlife is my favorite part of our back yard.

-- Marcia ;-)

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Tiffany - Hugs on the plants. My daughter diligently planted a bunch of vegetable seedlings after the frost date here in Ohio - but an unusual dip in the temperature in late May zapped them all. (And the squirrels and rabbits got the ones the frost missed).

Just wanted to bop in and said that Marcia's story Rescue Me is wonderful. Tails of Love is a fabulous project that will benefit a worthy cause. I love anthologies in that they allow you to get a tiny taste of the author's voice and Marcia's is sure to please.

Tiffany James said...

Marcia,

Thank you for being here! It's going to be great fun. :0)

Thanks for the condolences. My hubby and I walked around the yard today, and it made me sick to my stomach. Leaves are just stripped off stalks - it's weird. But then we were sitting on the porch having coffee and we noticed four baby finches had moved into our lilacs. It was sort of a circle of life moment for me. :0)

Tiffany

Kate Angell said...

Hello to both Tiffany and Marcia! Marcia, I have to say you've had a most interesting life! I loved reading your fun facts. Rescue Me in Tails of Love was great! I adore Cresties, they're so unique and a great contrast to an Alpha Hero.

Tiffany James said...

Donna,

Thank you for joining us today! And thanks for the hugs. You're so sweet!

The birds are dining on our strawberries - backyard delicacies, I guess. :0) Mother Nature definitely reminded me yesterday that I'm not in control!

I agree that anthologies are a treat, and I love when authors get behind projects and give back. In my opinion, that's what it's all about.

Have a great day!

Tiffany

Marcia James said...

Donna -- Thanks for your kind words about "Rescue Me"! The best part of being in the anthology was getting to getting to know the contributing authors better. I know TAILS OF LOVE readers will love your "Lord Hairy" story. ;-) The anthology has such a great mix of stories -- contemporary, historical, funny, emotional and more. And they all feature animals. ;-)
-- Marcia

Marcia James said...

Tiffany -- We can't keep our bird feeder filled since the squirrels always find a way to get to the bird seed. But since I love watching the squirrels figure out some new way onto the feeder, I don't mind.

I'm glad to hear you have birds settling into your yard despite the storm damage.
-- Marcia

Tiffany James said...

Kate,

Thank you for joining us today!

You're so right about cresties and alpha heroes. In fact, I love to see a heroes softer side when he interacts with animals and children. :0)

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Marcia,

The mice love how messy our backyard feeders are...they eat like kings and queens. Eeek!

T

Marcia James said...

Kate -- I think the reason I've done so many things in my life is I have a short attention span. ;-D

Since I write humorous stories, I couldn't ask for a better breed than a crestie to provide comic possibilities with the big, bad hero. ;-)
-- Marcia ;-)

Tiffany James said...

Hey AHers,

Marcia mentioned it, but Kate and Donna contributed to Tails of Love as well!

Tiff

ashleyludwig said...

Good morning, ladies! great interview and questions. Marcia, I laughed out loud at your "what if" question. That's always an excellent story prompt.

I also appreciate your take on author promotion. It can be pretty tough to figure out which way to go--on top of the nerves of waiting for reviews, etc.

Your yard sounds lovely. What a serene location to hang out! Nice to meet you, and all the best with your current project! Can't wait to hear how it goes!

Ashley

Marcia James said...

Tiffany -- thanks for mentioning that Kate is also in the anthology. {{slapping forehead with hand}} Kate's story is titled, "Norah's Arc" and brings together the owner of a petting zoo and the owner of a construction company -- with a little help from Houdini the goat. ;-D
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Hi, Ashley! My favorite thing to talk about is author promotion. I've compiled a Microsoft WORD file of PR options that I give away free to other authors. If you'd like a copy, just go to my Web site's "Contact Me" page, click on my email address there and send me a request for the file. I'll attach the file to my response. ;-)

Remember that no one person can do every PR option out there, so narrow down what you can and want to do and don't feel guilty about the other options.
-- Marcia ;-)
www.MarciaJames.net

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Hi Tiffany and Marcia!

Tiffany - what a lovely blog you have. I'll definitely look in again.

Marcia - Wow! As Kate said, what an amazing life you've had. I loved reading your Fun Facts. And I adored Rescue Me. I love all dogs, but being a Jack Russell mommy, I'm especially fond of the wee ones. I have a real soft spot for big, scruffy senior dogs, too. But gosh, thinking about it, I love them all! And I really adored your Crestie. The story made me cry.

It was neat to have a chance to visit with you again today, via this blog. I so enjoyed getting to spend time with you this weekend. We had a great time, didn't we?

Cyber hugs to you!

And ... Go Pets!

Tiffany James said...

Hi, Ashley, my Mamawriter friend!
:0)

Thanks for stopping by. Glad to hear you enjoyed Marcia's interview.

Tiff

Tiffany James said...

Sue-Ellen,

Thank you for those kind words and for stopping by!

So did you and Marcia hang out at Lori's reader event this weekend? I heard it was great fun!

Tiffany

AH readers - you guessed it - Sue Ellen has a story in Tails of Love! Isn't it great to have so many of the authors stopping by?!

Sue-Ellen Welfonder said...

Tiffany - Yes, Marcia and I had great fun at Lori and Dianne's event this weekend.

Marcia's CP and good friend, the ever-so-nice Patricia Sargeant, and I also shared a car to and from dinner Sat. night. So we were able to enjoy not just the event together, but also a fabulous out-the-hotel dinner. Lots of time for talk and laughs.

The Weekend was wonderful. Refreshingly fun and easy, and super positive in all ways. It's also just the right size.

And, yes, I have a story in Tails of Love. It's Scottish-set and called A Man, A Woman, And Haggis.

I had great fun writing it and really enjoyed the fast, shorter format. I have two other anthology stories coming out later this year and early into 2010, too. I think anthologies are great fun and a good way for readers to try authors they haven't yet read.

But Tails of Love is exceptional. It supports such a wonderful cause. It was great working with other, animal-loving authors. We all got to know each other and made friendships that I know will last. That was an added bonus.

Waving at you, Marcia!

Go Pets!

Marcia James said...

Hi, Sue-Ellen! {{waving from Ohio}} It was really great meeting you last weekend, and I appreciate your kind words about my story in TAILS OF LOVE. I'm thinking we should have titled the anthology, Tails TO Love, since I have enjoyed every story! I love Scottish things (since my family comes from the Anderson clan), so your story was definitely a keeper!

Thanks for stopping by!
-- Marcia ;-)

housemouse88 said...

Hello Marcia,

I so love the fact you are a part of the "Tails Of Love". We have 4 dogs, 3 cats, 1 horse, and too many chickens. Needless to say anything for animals goes a long way in our family. Congrats on the new series. Have a great day.

Viola Estrella said...

What a great cause! I'll have to check it out. Cute dog, too. :-)

Marcia James said...

Housemouse -- I think it's cool you have so many four-legged friends. Pets are pure love.

Thanks for dropping by my guest-blog!
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Viola -- Thanks for your kind words about Smokey. He's my virtual pet. He's always after me to put him in another book, the ham. ;-D

-- Marcia ;-)

Tiffany James said...

Sue Ellen,

I'm a Scottish combo of Johnston & McFarland (yes, the famed cattle stealers) clans, but I've never eaten haggis. You've definitely gotten me interested with that title! :0)

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Dear Housemouse,

Holy pets, you have a menagerie at your house. :0) You're going to love Tails of Love!

Tiff

Tiffany James said...

Hi, Vi!

Great to *see* you. Thanks for stopping by.

Tiff

RachieG said...

Hello Marcia James!! So glad to see you out and about in the blog world. I simply cannot wait until I can get my hands on the book...it looks splendid and I love that it's for a good cause. :)

How awesome is it too that you have such great inspiration?? My weenie dog is currently snoring on the couch...but she may find my knight in shining armor, you never know :)

Happy Wednesday!

robynl said...

I love the title Tails of Love; I am a dog lover to the core and must get this book.

What a worthy cause it supports. Kudos to everyone.

Lyoness2009 said...

HELLO!! Just wanted to write a quick note telling you how excited I am to read the anthology!! Such great authors and for a great cause! :)

Love your dog...and the cartoon...Precious!

lyoness2009 @ hotmail . com

Marcia James said...

Hi, Robynl! I'm pretty partial to dogs, too, although I like cats and other animals. My sister has 6 cats and foster-parents some others, too. I love supporting pro-animal causes, and it was so fun to write my short story for the anthology.
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Hi, Lyoness! Thanks for the kind words about Smokey. He's quite a character. ;-D
-- Marcia ;-)

Marcia James said...

Oops, RachieG! I almost missed your comment. Thanks for visiting my guest blog. Your weenie dog in your blog photo sure is cute!
-- Marcia ;-)

Patricia Sargeant said...

Hi, Tiffany and Marcia.

Marcia, great post. And I've got my fingers and toes crossed that your other manuscripts are picked up soon. They're great stories.

Best!

Patricia

Marcia James said...

Hi, Patricia! It's great to see another Tails of Love author stop by. ;-) I love your story in the anthology, and your latest book, Sweet Deception!
-- Marcia ;-)

Tiffany James said...

Rachie,

I love weenie dogs! My good friend in college had two: Geek and Guac O. Mole. :0)

Here's to pets and knights in shining armor.

Thanks for joining us today!

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Robyn,

Thanks for joining us today! Sounds like this interview was right up your alley.

Tiff

Tiffany James said...

Lyoness,

Isn't that cartoon marvelous? The first time I saw it, I fell in love! That's actually how Marcia and I met. She sent some postcards for a reader event, and I was so intrigued that I e-mailed her. :0)

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

Patricia,

Thank you for joining us! My fingers and toes are crossed for Marcia too. I can't think of a more deserving author.

Tiffany

Tiffany James said...

One last thank you to Marcia and all of you who stopped by to say "hi". It was great fun!

You can still comment tomorrow for a chance to win a copy of Marcia's book At Her Command, but Marcia's heading off to her next big adventure so now we have to "bon voyage".

Tiffany :0)

Marcia James said...

Thank you, Tiffany, for the opportunity to be on your blog! I sure am glad you decided to email me after seeing Smokey on my promotional postcards!

I look forward to learning on Friday who won the free download of AT HER COMMAND.

Have a great day!
-- Marcia ;-)

SiNn said...

Marcia i have to say ur dog is soo cute and that book sounds awesome cant wait to get my own copy would ove to win some of ur work ur an awesome write and im proud to support a worthy cause


SiNn

Marcia James said...

Hi, SiNn! Thanks for stopping by! Your odds of winning a free download of AT HER COMMAND are pretty good, but if you don't win, Cerridwen Press is having a sale on their print books, and AT HER COMMAND is only $4 right now:
http://www.jasminejade.com/pm-3107-213-at-her-command.aspx?skinid=13

Have a great day!
-- Marcia ;-)