Please welcome today's guest author and master promoter, Marcia James. I hope you'll check out her books, her website, and leave plenty of comments for her.
1) You have a very busy promotion schedule this year. Please tell us where your readers can meet you, including Lori Foster’s Readers and Authors Get-together in
I love meeting readers, so I do as many booksignings and conferences as I can. I have two signings scheduled this month (Feb. 16 and 23) at the Pickerington, OH Barnes & Noble; then two signings in April—one at the Pittsburgh Romantic Times (RT) convention (April 19) and one at Chicago’s Spring Fling conference (April 26). The RT convention is especially campy and fun, with wall-to-wall costume parties, romance cover hunks, and a signing with hundreds of authors. From June 6-8, authors Dianne Castell and Lori Foster host their annual Readers & Authors Get-together in
2) You’ve had a lot of eclectic careers. Please tell us about them.
I have an interdisciplinary Masters in Communications and Creative Writing, and my career has included writing scripts for submarine training videos, ads for shoe stores, and press releases for non-profit organizations. I’ve freelanced for over twenty years, writing a wide variety of challenging projects—most with a marketing or promotional aspect. I have to admit, though, that penning romances is a lot more fun that writing a How To Install Neon Signs manual!
3) You’ve got to tell us about Dr. Allegra “Ally” Skye, sex therapist and amateur sleuth’s Sex Q&A. Do a lot of people come to Dr. Ally for help?
My latest manuscript, which is currently under consideration at Avon,
4) I also want to hear about your delicious Avocado body paint recipe. How did you come up with that? Have you used it personally and for what occasion?
Lori Foster and her Bookjunkys group came up with the idea for a cookbook of author recipes to raise money to support the
5) Please tell us about your other career of developing marketing and promotional materials. Tell us about your free promotional download that you offer to authors.
In my nonfiction/business writing career, I develop everything from brochures, articles, and slide shows to TV/radio commercials and newspaper ads. Whether the materials are for information, training, or marketing purposes, there is also a persuasive element to them. As a writer, I need to figure out what will keep the reader or audience interested and what will persuade them to do what the client wants them to do—e.g., understand a concept, learn a skill, or buy a product. I’ve enjoyed applying those persuasive writing skills to author promotion. And in studying the many opportunities for authors to self-promote, I’ve developed a Microsoft WORD file of PR resources and information. I drop new info into the file as I come across it, and I offer the file free to any author who would like it. Just go to the “Contact Me” page on my Web site and send me an email requesting the file. That brings traffic to my Web site, which is always a good thing.
6) Please tell us about your charitable pursuits, which non-profits you help, and what celebrities you’ve met through your efforts. What is your pet charity and why?
I love attending non-profit fundraisers, such as silent auctions and casino nights. And when I lived in the
7) Please tell us about your honeymoon in
Hmmmm. Just how much detail do you want on my honeymoon? ;-D We had a wonderful trip to
8) Why did you ride an elephant in
Because he was there? ;-D Actually, when I was a child, I wanted to be a zoologist who trained animals for TV and movies—like Ivan Tors, if you’re old enough to remember Flipper, Gentle Ben, and Clarence the Cross-eyed Lion. So when my husband and I visited a CA animal park and had the opportunity to ride an elephant, we did. And last year, we petted a dolphin in
9) What was it like to be a movie extra? Please tell us about it.
I volunteered to be an extra in War & Remembrance, parts of which were shot in
10) How did you meet David Niven? How did you get the nerve to ask him what he had on under his kilt? (I’m definitely getting to know you better in
In the 1980s, I heard that David Niven was going to be a guest on the then-shot-in-D.C. Charlie Rose Show. Being a huge fan of Niven’s, I dragged my sister to the show and made her sit with me in the front row. When Rose went into the audience for questions, I jumped up and asked Niven what Scots wore under their kilts. He smiled that gorgeous smile and said, “Nothing.” The show went to a commercial, and we exchanged a few more words while Charlie Rose asked my sister for a date! She turned him down, by the way.
11) Do you still rollerblade?
I haven’t rollerbladed much since I broke my leg skating down an incline. I decided it was a lot more fun to snow-ski, since landing on soft snow when I fall beats the heck out of hitting asphalt when I crash in my rollerblades.
12) Please tell us about your online workshops for author promotion. Are any coming up and if so, how can we sign up?
Thanks to my PR/Marketing background, I enjoy giving presentations and writing articles on author promotion. I don’t have any online workshops until February 2009, when I’ll be presenting one that will include lots of “special guest lecturers” in addition to raising money for a deserving charity. (For more information on that, visit http://winecountryromancewriters.com/workshops.htm) In 2008, I’ll be presenting several in-person workshops—the first at
13) What is a snail figurine and how did you start collecting them?
Snail figurines are simply decorative items in the shape of a snail, which are made of porcelain, wood, metal or glass, mostly. I’ve always liked the shape of a snail shell and used to doodle them when I was a kid. So, while my friends were collecting frogs, bears, or unicorns, I collected snails. Since snails are synonymous with “slow”, I don’t use a snail as my logo, however. And the only snail that appears on my Web site is a caricature of one on the “Contact Me” page.
14) What is your average day like?
I get up around 6 a.m. with my husband, and once he’s off to work, I go into my home office and fire up the computer. I handle emails and small jobs until my brain is fully awake. ;-D Then I tackle the more challenging projects, like working on my latest manuscript. In addition to that, I’m writing a PR column for the RWA Kiss of Death chapter newsletter and an author news column for my local RWA chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers. I also try to guest-blog at least once a month and post on the blog that’s part of the Ohio Romance Authors’ MySpace page. (This multi-author MySpace page -- http://www.myspace.com/romanceauthors -- is having a great Valentine’s contest with more than 20 prizes, so stop by and comment on the blog to enter.) As for the rest of my average day, I try to keep from checking my emails too often, but I’m addicted to them. And I also make a point to get on my treadmill to exercise something besides my typing fingers!
15) Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
One of the things I’ve learned since I started writing romance is how important the genre is to its readers. More than 50% of all fiction paperbacks sold in the
by Marcia James
DEA agent Domino Petracelli is chasing a career-making promotion and nothing will keep her from getting her man. Okay, so she’d rather infiltrate a Columbian drug cartel than go undercover as a dominatrix at D.C.’s Xecutive Branch sex club. But she’s up to the task. As the leather-clad Mistress Bella, Domino investigates the club’s drug ring while juggling a surreal roster of kinky submissives—and resisting one sexy client who’s not what he seems.
Police detective Dalton Cutter is a man with a mission—avenging his partner, who was murdered investigating the Xecutive Branch. Retracing his partner’s steps, he goes undercover as a club client.
At Her Command, a comic romantic suspense, pokes fun at the alphabet soup of D.C. law enforcement agencies. When the DEA, the FBI and the DC police unknowingly put operatives undercover at the same club, sexy sparks fly.
Note: Rated R for Risqué
Excerpt: AT HER COMMAND by Marcia James
Detective Dalton "Bull" Cutter sat slumped on the leather couch, drinking his third beer and staring into the eyes of a large Siamese. Chi, the sleek, blue-eyed tom cat, could have been fashioned from marble for all his stillness and unblinking gaze. Despite the open can of cat food Dalton had placed on the kitchen floor, the animal sat on the coffee table directly in front of him as though demanding an explanation.
“Jason’s not coming back, big guy.”
Dalton’s voice sounded rusty so he tried to clear his throat. But there was a lump he just couldn’t wash down with the Budweiser. His eyes burned from lack of sleep, and he wished he could find a way to turn off his brain. One thought kept repeating in his head: Jason Walters, his partner and best friend, was dead.
Twenty-four hours had passed since he’d received the call...heard his captain break the news, but the pain was still fresh and razor-sharp.
Dalton resisted tossing his beer bottle against the wall of Jason’s living room...his living room, he corrected. Jason had named his partner his beneficiary, a fact Dalton had learned from a lawyer today. The cozy Cape Cod home complete with cat now belonged to him. He’d give a billion Cape Cods for the chance to go back in time.“It should have been me.”
Chi leaned forward as if to make out the muttered words. Instead of continuing the one-sided conversation, Dalton let his head fall back on the couch and his eyes shut. That night two months ago played like a movie behind his closed lids.
“Hey, Dalton , heard about your spanking new assignment.” Laughing, Jason walked into Dalton ’s apartment with a six-pack of beer and two pizza boxes. “Maybe we should change your nickname from ‘Bull’ to ‘Mouse.’”
Several inches shorter than Dalton and leaner, Jason looked more like a college fraternity pledge than a cop. “Very funny. Besides it’s not definite yet,” Dalton grumbled, unwilling to think about the possible undercover job. Assigned to the Metro Police Department’s Special Investigations team, Jason and he worked whenever and wherever needed. They’d been involved in everything from homicide to vice cases.
Recently the Metro PD had received a tip that underage girls were working at the Xecutive Branch sex club. Dalton had heard through the grapevine his name had been suggested for the undercover role of a club client-–a submissive wimp who got off on pain and humiliation.
Damn. Probably retribution for some of the hot-dogging he’d done recently. Maybe he shouldn’t have been quite so disrespectful to the police chief when he was being chewed out for wrecking his third unmarked in a month.
Grabbing two beers, Jason put the rest in the fridge. While Dalton watched, his friend made himself at home, getting out bags of chips and placing them on top of the pizza boxes. Balancing the items, he carried them to Dalton ’s second-hand kitchen table. Unlike Jason’s sunny home, there weren’t many cheery spots in Dalton ’s apartment. The breakfast nook with its bay window was the best bet.
“I hear Captain Bennett thinks you’re the right man for the job.” Jason laughed at his partner’s glare.
Dalton cursed fluently. “Yeah, I’m 6’4” and wear a size 46 jacket, but I’m the perfect choice to go undercover as a bondage and discipline junkie?”
Jason snorted. “Haven’t you heard? Size doesn’t matter. And maybe the captain thinks you need a vacation from always being in charge.”
“If it’s such a cushy assignment, why don’t you volunteer for it?”
“And rob you of the chance to get in touch with your softer side?” Jason dodged Dalton ’s half-hearted punch.
“Maybe we should draw straws on this one,” Dalton suggested.
“No way, José.” Jason shook his head emphatically before taking a long swig of his beer.
“Didn’t I draw the short straw on that homeless shelter job?” Dalton laid on the guilt as he opened the chips and took a handful. “You think it was fun wearing flea-ridden clothes and sitting in the gutter all day?”
Jason rubbed the thumb and forefinger of his right hand together. Dalton frowned. Years ago, his partner had explained the gesture represented the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Bleeds For You.” Obviously he was getting nowhere fast with the “who’s had the worst assignments” guilt angle.
Dalton changed tactics. “Of course, if you don’t feel like you owe me for saving your life at the warehouse in October...”
Jason pointed the neck of his bottle toward his partner. “That was payback for saving your sorry ass in that 7-11 on Penn Avenue last June.”
As they fell into their familiar banter, Dalton raised the stakes. “That punk’s gun wasn’t even loaded. Now if you want to talk life-saving debts, what about that bullet I took for you when you were too busy hustling that working girl to watch your back?”
Jason denied the allegation, and the good-natured argument continued until he finally agreed to draw straws over the Xecutive Branch undercover job. The horrified look on his partner’s face when he drew the short straw made Dalton laugh.
“I appreciate your handling this assignment, pal.” Dalton laughed and saluted Jason with his beer bottle.
“Investigating the Xecutive Branch isn’t like busting some massage parlor.” Jason deliberately took the last slice of pepperoni pizza before Dalton could reach for it. “I’m the best damn partner you’ve ever had, so you better hope nothing goes wrong with this case.”
“A bossy woman, black leather, whips,...what could go wrong?” Dalton smirked. “The only thing you might die of is embarrassment.”
The only thing you might die of is embarrassment. Dalton’s words came back now to haunt him as he tried to breathe under the weight of his regret and guilt. Thanks to him, his partner had convinced their captain to give him Dalton ’s Xecutive Branch assignment.
Thanks to him, Jason was dead. And the loss was sharper, deeper than anything Dalton had ever experienced.
Thanks Marcia! It sounds like a great book and I also gleaned a lot from your promotion booklet. I hope you had a great book signing in Cincinnati this past weekend.