Welcome romance author Mari Carr!

Please welcome THE Mari Carr to my blog today! I'm very excited to have her here, because I've been a fan of her work for over a year now. She was actually the first erotic romance author I read when I was trying to decide if I could write erotic romance, and once I'd read one book of hers, I was hooked! That book was Tequila Truth, part of the Black & White collection at Samhain, and I think I love the cover *almost* as much as I love the story. I'm not sure which of Mari's books I picked up next, probably Samhain's Erotic Research. Loved that one too, and so I made it my mission to collect all of Mari's books. ;) She writes a LOT of them though, so my credit card's gotten quite a workout. Not only is she an amazing writer, she's a super nice person too so I'm thrilled to help her promote her latest release, Rekindled, out today from Ellora's Cave. And yes, I'll be buying my copy bright and early today!

Here's Mari...

1) You primarily write contemporary erotic romance. Any plans to branch out into other genres?

Actually, I have written two regency historical books that are currently available at Liquid Silver. The June Girls books were the first two books I ever wrote and they hold a very big piece of my heart. I love writing historical books and I hope to return to that genre somewhere down the road. I've also toyed with the idea of writing a paranormal series of shifter dogs, but I always manage to push that a little lower on my to-do list. I think I find the paranormal genre rather intimidating, but who knows! Maybe one day.

2) Your Wild Irish series is, to me, groundbreaking in erotic romance in that the backdrop of family is so richly intertwined with the love story of the hero/heroine. What inspired you to develop this series? And do you have any tips for writing connected books?

*VBG* I love the word 'groundbreaking!' Thank you. I'd written standalone stories for nearly a year and I think if we don't challenge ourselves as writers, we grow stagnant. I love series books--adore them. The Stephanie Plum series, the JD Robb books, Madison Hayes' Calendar Girls are all some of my favorites. I'd been toying with the idea for quite some time and when I mentioned the 'urge' to my Ellora's Cave editor, she was extremely supportive and encouraging. I started putting the pieces together, creating characters, making notes (lots and lots of notes) and before I knew it, the Wild Irish were born. I come from a very large family--think My Big Fat Greek Wedding without the Greek. I love large families, love that feeling of closeness and unconditional love, so I knew my series was going to involve a family. In many ways, the Collins clan is similar to me and my cousins. Lots of fun!

And advice? Well, just what I said. Keep very good notes. I have a list of names, a timeline, synopses for all seven books. I've sketched the Collins apartment, figured out the rooms, managed to create the mother Sunday through flashbacks. All of this took very careful planning. I also re-read the stories after every two or three books. In preparation to write the last book, I just spent the last four days re-reading books one through six, so that I could remember specific events and get a feeling for my characters once more. It's time-consuming, but I've loved every minute of it. I will be so sad to leave this family.

3) There are lots of "shoulds" and "have tos" in this business. What one piece of advice would you advise an unpublished author NOT to follow?

Write from your heart, not based on what you think will sell or what is hot. Also, write what you enjoy reading. If shifters are all the rage, but you don't care for that genre, then don't write it. You have to love and believe in your story. It will show if you don't.

4) What keeps you at the keyboard when you're not sure if you should keep going?

Honestly, for me, it's not hard to sit in front of the computer. Writing is my passion. My problem stems from the fact there never seem to be enough hours in the day for me to write as much as I want to. I have a full-time job, so writing is something that has to happen on the weekends. As for writer's block, I've found it useful to skip around. Some books I can write from beginning to end. Others are just a bit tougher than that. It helps me to skip ahead to a scene I've plotted out in my mind, even if it's in chapter eight and I'm only on chapter two. I'm doing that right now on a book I'm writing. I was struggling with the opening, but I had a clear view of later scenes. I wrote down the scenes I could see and suddenly the opening came to me.

5) Do you have a "book of your heart" you'd love to write?

Well, it's been a very good year because I feel like I've just spent the last couple of months writing two books that have touched my heart, though both for different reasons. Oddly enough, book six in the Wild Irish series, Saturday Night Special, feels like the closest I've come to writing what I truly want to write--romantic comedy. I always joke that I want to be the dirty Evanovich, but that's actually very true. I had a blast writing Riley and Aaron's story in Saturday Night Special, creating wacky characters, a crazy Vegas adventure, and I still managed to squeeze in every member of the Collins family. It was a lot of fun and I'm really proud of how it turned out.

I recently wrote a very different story for me called Do Over. It's unique because the hero and heroine in the story are happily married and celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. It's a very romantic story that shows true love can indeed last and sex after 40 can be pretty damn hot! It's been accepted by Carina Press, which is also an exciting thing for me. I feel like I'm starting a new chapter in my publishing career and I look forward to working with the folks at Carina.

6) Tell us a bit about your upcoming releases. And what are you working on right now? (I more than welcome any sneak peeks of your future work you would like to share! LOL)

Well, as luck would have it, I have a new release TODAY! Rekindled is hitting the shelves at Ellora's Cave today. It's the standalone sequel to my cowboy quickie, Spitfire. Here. I'll share the blurb.

It’s been a year since her husband’s passing, and running the ranch is taking its toll on Claire Hutchins. Independent as the day is long, she concedes the need for help. She wants a foreman, an employee to run the day-to-day who can handle a woman calling the shots. Someone who won’t give her any trouble…

Who shows up at her door, first in line for the job? Jeb Carter. Ex-high-school sweetheart. Longtime rodeo star. And the one man capable of making Claire’s lust burn out of control…of making her surrender completely.

Trouble has finally come calling…and he’s as irresistible as ever.

Book five in the Wild Irish series, Friday I'm in Love, will also be coming out August 13. Here's a sneak peek of the story.

“Why are you tired?”

She closed her eyes and prayed for patience. This was how conversations with Ewan went. He asked a question, she answered, and then he asked more.

“I was reading a really sexy book last night and spent half the night masturbating with my vibrator. All those amazing orgasms can really take it out of you, you know?” She hoped her smartass comment would embarrass him, shut him up.

She should have known better.

“Shit, Nat. I wish you would have waited. I’m going to be downstairs from you tonight. I can fuck you a helluva lot better than a lousy piece of plastic.”

She’d been given Tristan’s old room on the third floor to sleep in while she was staying with the family, but sleep didn’t seem to be something she was going to be doing much of, especially not after the sexy seed Ewan had just planted.

“In your dreams, kiddo. I don’t play with children,” she said, although she wasn’t all that concerned that he was younger.

For one thing, he didn’t act young, but she supposed that was because he’d been responsible—along with his sister, Keira—for running the restaurant side of his family’s business since graduating from college. Teagan raved about his management abilities and smooth administration. The fun, sexually explicit banter he engaged in with Natalie seemed to be the exception, rather than the norm, and she got the feeling the rest of his family saw him as serious, responsible, staid.

“Thought you weren’t gonna play the age card again?”

“Old habits die hard.”

“You’re quiet today, distant. Why do I get the feeling it’s more than fatigue?”

“I would think you’d be glad I’m quiet. I mean, it’s not as if there’s ever been any love lost between us. You and I are like—”

He looked so genuinely shocked she stopped midsentence, the words oil and water dying on her tongue.

“No love lost? I’m crazy about you, Nat. You must know that?”

She laughed. “You really are going to have to give up this schoolboy crush. I’ve been nothing but a bitch to you since day one.”

He grasped her hand and she looked at him in surprise. “I haven’t been a boy in a long time, babydoll. And I’m more than man enough to deal with you and your so-called bitchiness.”

She wished her body hadn’t heard those words. The second he uttered more than man enough, her nipples went on red alert and she was a bit worried about the sudden dampness in her panties. She tried to tug her hand out of his grip, but he refused to relinquish it. “Listen, hotshot—”

“Save it, Nat. Why are you depressed?”

She panicked at his words. “I’m not depressed. I don’t get depressed. Ever.” Her words came out far too loud and she watched him study her face intently. She bit her lower lip, realizing Ewan Collins was far too observant when it came to her. He was also cutting too close to the core. Honesty seemed her best bet. “I’m thirty-four years old and I have fuck-all to show for my life.”

Ewan frowned. “That’s not true. You own and operate an incredibly successful photography studio in Palm Springs. You’re one of the most talented photographers I’ve ever met. Your pictures are beautiful.”

She was taken aback by his praise, surprised he’d seen enough of her work to judge. “How do you know that?”

“I check out your website on occasion, plus Teagan is always emailing us pictures you’ve taken of her and Sky. You have an amazing eye.”

“Yeah, that’s me. The queen of composition, lighting, shading. Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent my entire life behind the lens of a camera.”

Ewan lightly caressed the skin on the back of her neck and she marveled at how comforting the simple gesture was. “You sound like you’re questioning your career choice.”

“Do I?” she asked. “That’s not my intention. I love my job. But sometimes I feel like that’s all there is to me. I’m defined by a freaking camera.”

“That’s not true. I know Sky and Teagan consider you their friend, not their photographer.”

“I know that. It’s just…” She paused, trying to find a way to express the dark thoughts that had been plaguing her since her birthday. “It’s just…I’m never in any of the pictures.”

His eyebrows creased and she knew he was confused by her comment. She tried to clarify. “I’m not really sure what I have to show for my life. Hell, I’m not sure I’ve lived a life. I stand on the sidelines of every event, snapping picture after picture of other people living, celebrating, doing something. God, doing anything.” Her voice betrayed her frustration and she took a breath, tried to calm down when she noticed Tris Collins glance up at her from the bar.

Ewan rubbed her hand, his other arm still draped around her, and she felt wholly surrounded by his presence. “What did you hope to have achieved by now that you haven’t?”

His question caught her off-guard. She’d spent months commiserating over her lost youth, never once thinking about what it was she was grieving. And with one simple question, Ewan had thrown her for a loop…again. “Well, I don’t know exactly. I’ve been to hundreds of weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, anniversaries. I’ve seen thousands of people celebrating events with loved ones. I’ve never done anything worth celebrating and even if I did, I wouldn’t have anybody to commemorate it with. I know this may come as a surprise to you, but I don’t generally have one of those personalities people flock to.”

“Prickly?” he asked, though she knew his comment wasn’t a question.

“No, not prickly. Strong-willed, self-assured, independent.” She struggled to find those three words.

“Opinionated, arrogant, bitchy. Got it.”

She opened her mouth to lambaste him and then closed it again. He was right. There was no debating the truth.

“Damn,” he muttered. “You are down and out. No snappy comeback, Nat?”

She shook her head.

“I sort of got the impression you were happy on your own. You always say people are an annoyance you don’t have time for.”

She looked around the room briefly, wondering how she always got into these conversations with Ewan. He always made her say too much, tell too many secrets she never intended to reveal. “That’s true. I guess maybe sometimes I think it might be nice to have a friend. Someone normal and not obnoxious. Someone who doesn’t get their feelings easily hurt when I tell them they suck.”

He laughed and she realized her requirements for a friend did sound pretty pathetic. “Isn’t that Sky?” he asked.

“It was—I mean, is. It’s just, he’s got Teagan now and, well…things are different.”

Ewan smiled and she felt a flash of anger spark. Here she was unloading all her misery, confessing things she’d never told another living soul, and he was giving her that stupid, annoying, lopsided grin.

She scowled. “Glad you find this all so funny. Get away from my table.”

He moved closer and she fought to hold on to her annoyance. God, men as handsome as Ewan Collins should be illegal.

“I’m not laughing at you, babydoll. I’m just glad your problem is so easily solved.”

She looked at him, confused. She’d spent months feeling sorry for herself, trying to find a way out of her funk, and nothing had presented itself. Even leaving town for a change of scenery, a change of company hadn’t helped.

She studied Ewan’s confident face and realized that if anyone could solve her problem, it was probably him. Why she felt that way, she couldn’t say. There was simply something deep inside her that said trust him.

“Show me the way.” Her request was softly spoken, but Ewan heard it.

“How long are you staying here?” he asked.

“A week.” It was Saturday afternoon and she had a flight booked to return to Palm Springs early in the morning the following Saturday.

Ewan rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Seven days. It’s a little tight, but we can manage.”

“Manage what?”

“I’m going to teach you a lesson a day. Seven lessons you can live by so you never feel this way again. You, Natalie Miller, are about to get a life.”

I also have a new book coming to Samhain in October. Happy Hour will be the fourth book in the Black & White Collection, a group of stories that involve women's wicked fantasies. Erotic Research involved role playing, Tequila Truth features a menage. In Rough Cut, BDSM is explored. Happy Hour is a cougar book with a menage mixed in for good measure!

And currently I am working on the fifth, and I'm thinking, the last book for the Black & White Collection. The tentative title is True Colors and it involves two very dominant personalities who sort of crash into each other's lives and begin to delve into each of their darkest sexual fantasies together. So far, I've touched on sex with a stranger, sex in public, bondage, spanking, exhibitionism. It's a little bit of everything!

See what I mean about prolific? The woman never stops, and I, for one, am a VERY happy reader!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Mari!

Want to find out more about Mari or her books? Check out her website or the awesome Yahoo loop she shares with a group of fantabulous authors that call themselves International Heat. You can find the Heat Wave loop here. And if you want to pick up Rekindled - which I know you do! - buy it here.


Lauren Fraser said...

Great interview, Cari.

Congrats on the new release, Mari, as well as your upcoming releases.

Loved the excerpts. Your wild Irish series is wonderful but then what do you expect from Mari.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Cari and Mari! Thanks for the lovely interview, and for the delicious snippets! Mari, happy release day! I, for one, am thrilled you're such a speedy and prolific writer--can't get enough!!!

Amber Skyze said...

Great interview ladies! Love the excerpts Mari.
I have to agree paranormals imtimidate me too. I'd love to write one some day though.

Carol L. said...

Hi Mari,
Loved the excerpt for Wild Irish. I love these types of stories involving big families.Th Wild Irish books are my new quest. :)Congrats on your new release also.
Carol L.

Lisa said...

Great interview! Congrats on your release!

Mai said...

Awesome interview Mari! Loved the excerpts and can't wait till the new releases.

KJ Reed said...

Great questions, awesome answers. Love Mari's work!

Sarah Simas said...

HI Mari and Cari!

Great interview and kickin' excerpt! Thanks for the entertaining teaser. :)

Best wishes for your new release, Mari!

Awesome job, Cari! Your Q's rock!

Andrea Becraft said...

Great Interview Mari!

I just finished Spitfire and of coarse bought Rekindled the min the buy button was up.

I recommend it!

Darah Lace said...

Mari, Mari, Mari...darlin', you just keep adding books to my pile. I've read two from this series, and I'm itching to catch up to this one. Great excerpt!

Cari, thanks for sharing Mari with us!

Kaily Hart said...

Great interview! Congratulations, Mari on your continued success.

Shelley Munro said...

I enjoyed the interview. I'm also a series fan. I loved the Dirty Evanovich comment. :)

Taryn Elliott said...

I'm late to the game with Mari, but I love that I have so many books in her back catalogue to go thru. ;)

Great interview, Cari.