Curious about Marie?
Got random questions to ask about my author life or regarding books? Submit them below in reply by adding a comment, and I will answer as they post.
You may also reach out with any inquiries about me or my books, or if you’d just like to say hi or express how much you liked my latest release at my fan mail address…
How do I get a signed copy of one of your books?
I am not selling these directly from my site at the moment. I mostly give them out during release parties. However, I’d be happy to sign a paperback copy of a book that you purchase and mail to my address (through whichever bookseller you’re comfortable using), and I’ll send it back to you at no extra cost. ***BUT ONLY IF YOU LIVE IN THE USA! (Please understand that shipping costs are expensive.) Just private message me on Facebook for more details. For an e-signature instead, please visit my Authorgraph profile.
Why do some of your titles on the ‘My Books’ page have different author names?
In the past, I released books under various pen names. Now, I plan to stick with the Marie Lavender brand. Starting with Directions of the Heart, you’ll see some of the works from my backlist fully revised and republished within story collections. Those upcoming titles are mentioned in my portfolio and displayed in the sidebar as you scroll down. However, I have contributed to anthologies with other writers as well.
I see that a few of your books have different covers and purchase links than they did the last time I was here. What happened?
No worries! Just changing things up a little. Also, some of my series books were released back to me from my former publisher, and I published them on my own with updates and book covers. The books in the Heiresses in Love trilogy are coming back soon, and will be released through Foundations Books. ♥
I am a concerned parent. I know you published a children’s fantasy, A Little Magick, in 2015. I can ignore the romance books when I’m shopping around, but now I see you’re planning an erotica series. Are you kidding me here?
Honestly, I never planned on writing a kid’s story. It just happened. But I stated upfront that I am a multi-genre author. However, I understand your worries and respect your stance. The erotica projects will be published under a different pen name entirely, though at some point they’ll still be listed in the portfolio and on the ‘My Books’ pages so all my fans can be made aware of them. I can’t promise that I’ll write more children’s books (only the muse knows), but I can tell you I’ll do my best to distance them from the other types of books I release. For example, the adult tales in The Magick Series will eventually be released into their own boxed set, separate from A Little Magick.
I’m an author too. Have you ever thought about a review exchange, or do you review other people’s books?
I always try to support other authors. Right now, though, my TBR pile is too long to even take on more book reviews in my schedule. Plus, I have too much family drama and health issues to tackle new book reviews. However, if you’re open to a book feature or author interview on one of my blogs, I usually have some open spots available. Check out our policies on Writing in the Modern Age or the I Love Romance Blog! 😉
My dream is to be an author someday. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Never lose the joy of writing. No matter what happens on your journey, always try to come back to why you started doing this is in the first place. And I hope it was because you love to write. Beyond that, be kind to yourself. Have patience, as this will take as long as it takes. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will your career happen that fast. It’s a gradual path to where you want to be…a learning process. Open your heart and mind to new experiences, for they’ll only further feed your creativity. But persevere, too, despite the odds, regardless of the naysayers. Believe that you can get there, and you’ll never fail.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, two awesome felines! Emma and Katerina (Kit Kat) are my fur babies. One is a calico, and the other is black with some white spots here or there. Contrary to that old wives’ tale, black cats are not bad luck. All black cats are special and most are incredibly sweet in nature. #blackcatsmatter
What does your writing process look like?
I’m more of a hybrid writer, rather than just a plotter or pantster. Part of my book ideas are extemporaneous – the plot and characters come out through random spouts of writing. Eventually, I must pin myself down to one story at a time. The more detailed plans are handled with outlines, which then serve as a good foundation for me to construct the rest of the narrative. I write everything by hand first…but sometimes, when I want to nail a certain description, I’ll compose directly on the keyboard. This happens especially when I’m relying on research to fill in the details, or I need to better visualize what I’m talking about. Now and then, a character surprises me with a plot twist! Also, I try to avoid boxing myself into one genre or type of book. With word count, I ignore that aspect until I get to the editing stage, unless a journal or publisher states a specific limit (now that is something to freak out about! 😉 ). Most of the time, the novel just ends up how it should be. There’s no controlling my muse.
You have so many published books, as well as works-in-progress. How do you keep everything straight?
It is a challenge sometimes, but it helps to add elements as they come to me within each story file. I usually write a loose outline, if I’ve made that much progress by then. The more detailed outline happens later, once I’ve written several scenes already. I always do a full character worksheet for the main characters last. That way, I can make final decisions about someone’s background or quirks, and gently add in specific information within the story as I see fit.
Which one of your books is your favorite?
I still have to say it’s Upon Your Return, the first historical romance novel I finished. Partly because it took me nine years to write, and it evolved considerably over time. The rest is because I can relate so well with the heroine, Fara Bellamont. She is rare among her contemporaries. Plus, her love interest, Captain Grant Hill, is melt-worthy. The second edition of the novel was released on November 23, 2020.
- What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
-Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
I think there’s a lot of useful content in the unknown, in those places we’re afraid to look at too closely. We should be willing to get a little uncomfortable during the creative process, to bring forth a naked truth. It can be cathartic.
If you could have any super power for the day, which would you choose?
I’d want to have telepathy, or, at the least, be empathic. As a writer, I’m always trying to figure people out. So, it makes sense that I’d go for a mind-reading ability.
Do you have a favorite genre to write in – and why?
I often favor different sub-genres of romance. ♥ I just have a soft spot for it. At the same time, I’ve learned not to corner myself into writing one type of book. That open-mindedness is how I stumbled across a children’s fantasy story. I’ve also tried my hand at writing science fiction, comedies, psychological thrillers, time travel tales, and horror stories. It just really depends where the muse wants to take me.
Are you a reader of e-books, or a listener of audiobooks? Or, do you prefer more traditional, printed ones instead, such as paperbacks or hardbacks?
Almost all writers were readers first! ♥ I love reading books. I have a Samsung tablet which I use to read my Kindle books and the ebooks I’ve gotten through contests and newsletter sign-ups. I do like it. My problem, however, is that I’m still a bit old school, and I prefer to read a paperback or hardcover. But being an epileptic as well as a migraine sufferer – not to mention the brain fog I have with fibromyalgia – it will always be easier for me to focus on reading an actual page rather than an electronic screen. I have enough trouble after sitting at the computer for a while, when I am immersed in writing, editing, or promoting my work.
How did you first get interested in writing, and when did you start?
I’ve yearned to be an author since I was a kid. As a child, I was obsessed with books, and I’d haunt libraries and bookstores for fun. From the time I could write a legible sentence, it seemed, stories just poured out of me and onto the page. I’ve been writing fiction in some capacity since I was nine years old. But even before that, stories were swirling around in my head, and I acted them out with my dolls. I just knew this was what I wanted to do for a career. I think the drive was further cemented when I took writing classes, or whenever we were asked to write a story for a project in school. I entered some contests for young writers, too. I became consumed with researching the profession, and dedicated myself to pursuing that dream.
Where do you prefer to write? With music or without?
I often write in bed, just before I go to sleep. But now and then, the muse strikes when I am at the dining table, lounging on the sofa, or while I’m outside sitting on the patio. I think I can get more accomplished when the sounds of nature fade into the background, and I’m not distracted by a bunch of other people in the house.
As for music, it really depends on the project. I usually don’t write with music on, but sometimes the occasional song can inspire a scene or help immerse me in the character’s mindset.
How did publishing your first book change you as a writer?
I think dipping my toes in the indie publishing industry in 2010 gave me a glimpse into the world I needed to learn about. There are so many aspects an indie author must cover – steps that traditional publishers do every day – and most of us don’t necessarily consider them. I’ve learned to take each project in careful steps – writing, outlining, more writing, then take a break before I tackle the difficult editing process, final revisions, as well as all the marketing aspects involved in publishing. I have also worked with a publisher for several of my books. I have the good fortune of understanding both sides to a writing career.
If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
I’d like to visit Ireland, get in touch with my roots. My great-grandfather was full-blooded Irish. But there are a lot of places I would love to travel. I think castles are cool, so it would be fantastic to explore Europe. I also want to figure out more about my Cherokee heritage, maybe visit sites which expand on that.
- Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you have someone to do that for you? Is there a specific service you use? And what about cover art?
I will never send my work out into the world unedited, at least on some level. I keep it really close to the vest until there have been numerous passes at it. I edit my own book as much as I can, then I hand the manuscript over to a trusted proofreader and some beta readers to ensure there are no plot holes. After it’s as clean as possible from that end, my publisher has the book and they assign their own editors. If I’m going indie, then I’ll have another proofreader take a look just to be sure nothing was missed.
The editors/proofreaders I liked include Shawna K. Williams, Kathi Sprayberry, Cynthia Ley, Kathy Collier, Anthony Kohler, Fred Crook, Tracy Guzzardo, Melissa Manes, Steve Soderquist, Jennifer B. Gaubert, and Belinda Y. Hughes.
Yes, I’ve designed some of my own book covers, but I purchased several from professional artists as well, or at least used the ones my publisher provided. Having a good cover which resonates with a reader – something that reflects the book’s contents yet maintains a certain mystery – is essential. Some great cover artists I’ve had are Shannon Nemechek, Kayden McLeod, Dawné Dominique from DusktilDawn Designs, Select-O-Graphix, Deborah Melanie, SwoonWorthy Book Covers, Sherry Soule at Spellbinding Designs, Avdal Designs, and LDM Graphics.
- Where were you were born, or where did you grow up?
I was raised in a small town in central Indiana. Yes, a place where pretty much everyone knew everybody else. I have spent time in larger cities, and I still think a mid-sized city is better, simply because you can still retain your anonymity, and have access to resources that a small town doesn’t. For example, I like shopping so having a mall nearby has its benefits.
- Name your favorite place to vacation.
- What/who influences your writing?
- Is there a genre you haven’t written in that you’d like to?
- What’s the best writing advice you have received? What’s your advice for someone trying to get published?
The best advice which I received from a Creative Writing professor was “Don’t limit yourself to one genre.” I didn’t think on it much at the time, but a few years ago, I realized how well it could work for me. If I didn’t put any limitations on my ideas and my writing projects could go anywhere, then I didn’t need to work so hard to try to stay in the romance genre all the time. I could jump in and out on a whim, and then focus on the stories that I felt passionate about. That’s when I decided to call myself a ‘multi-genre author’. It takes some pressure off my full plate, in any case.
I would say that the one question you should ask yourself if you intend to work to get published is…Do I want to do this all on my own, or try to get published traditionally? Both journeys have their own barriers, of course, while attempting to reach that finish line, yet they are distinctly different routes. Once you can answer this inquiry in a definitive fashion, you’ll be able to better navigate your way through all hurdles involved.
- How can I follow your work further or subscribe?