Ten Questions with Mae Martini (Okay, Eleven)

If you want to read a hot romance featuring a sexy cowboy, look no further than the works of Mae Martini, the subject of this week’s interview. Her books are set in Texas, which gives wonderful opportunities for shirtless cowboys on the covers. But there’s so much more to Mae than her books; she is a kind and generous author who always finds time to help out her fellow writers.

AJ: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today, Mae. I can’t wait to find out more about you and your books, so let’s get started.

What made you want to become a writer?

MM: Vivid settings, clear images of characters complete with mannerisms and voices, at times loud, constantly invading my head, propelled me to write it all down in a spiral notebook with a pencil more than thirty years ago. By the time I was done, I had two spiral notebooks filled with an historical western romance which I put in a drawer, and got on with life. When my sons bought me a kindle for mother’s day a few years ago, I started reading e-books, and I’m not even sure how it happened, but I stumbled onto KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). I took out those two spiral notebooks and began to type the words onto my computer. I got as far as page two and realized I wasn’t going to be able to type it. Not only were some of the words faded, but I couldn’t even read my own handwriting. Fortunately, I still get those images in my head that beg to be written down. That and the love of reading motivated me to become a writer.

 AJ: I know that some of your books have some pretty steamy scenes. Okay, some AMAZINGLY steamy scenes. How do you get ready to write a scene like that – do you need to set the mood with candlelight and such, or is it just another day at the keyboard?

lovingyou

MM: Believe it or not, it is just another day at the keyboard – done, however, after days of playing it out over and over again in my mind. I also love to accurately portray the male voice in the sex scenes. Fortunately, my husband obliges me with anything I might need help in.

 AJ: Since we’re talking about “those” scenes, where do you feel the line is drawn between Erotic Romance and Erotica?

MM: I like a story with my sex. To me that is the difference between Erotic Romance and Erotica. Erotica is all about the sex. It lightly touches on character development, and doesn’t need a happy for now or happily ever after ending. Erotic Romances combine the two. Yes, there is sex, explicit sex, but there is a focus on the progression of the characters’ relationship and has a HFN or HEA ending.

 AJ:Your characters seem to fall into the age range for the “New Adult” category, which is the fastest-growing area of romantic fiction. Do you feel that your work falls into this genre? Why or why not?

MM: Good question, Amy. One I had to really think about. Aside from one of the younger supporting characters being twenty-four, my characters are over the age of twenty-five. Perhaps they are on the cusp, but I don’t think they fall into that category. They are out of college a few years, they all went through their firsts already, and they have careers.

AJ: Why did you choose to go with self-publish rather than traditional?

MM: To be honest, when I first published, I never even thought about traditional publishing. I chose self-publishing because it was the easiest and fastest route to get my books out there. I’m happy with my choice. I have complete control over my content, my only deadlines are self-imposed, and I alone own the rights to my books. So, for now, this works best for me.

AJ: You have a reputation for being the kind of author who’s always reaching out to help newbies. I know you really went out of your way to help me when I first started. So, who helped you when you were just starting? Or did you have to figure it all out on your own?

wantingyou

MM: I had to figure it out on my own, which is why I try to help others. It would have been ideal to have gotten feedback before hitting the publish button. Mistakes were made and a couple of my earlier reviews remind me of that every day, but I’m grateful for them in that I feel I have learned from them and have become more honed in my writing skills. Since then, I have learned by listening to the more experienced writers and when I find someone reaching out, I am more than happy to pay it forward.

AJ: How does your family feel about your books, or is it a deep, dark secret?

MM: No deep dark secret there. My husband and two boys were the only ones I told when I first published. I know my husband hasn’t read them, and as far as I know my sons haven’t either, at least that’s what they tell me. They also don’t go around telling any of their friends that their mother writes steamy romance novels.  I’m okay with it, they are very supportive and genuinely happy for me.

 AJ: No mention of your books would be complete without talking about the covers. They are gorgeous. Do you design them yourself?

MM: Thank you so much. I can’t take the credit. I commissioned two wonderfully talented ladies who I’d like to give a shout out to, if I may; Clarissa Yeo who designed my cowboy romance series and Melody Simmons who designed the cover for The Mobster and the Cowboy. I gave them my vision and they brilliantly and efficiently captured it.

mobster

 AJ: What are you working on right now?

MM: I’m currently working on the third book in my cowboy romance series, Needing You. It is Rory and Calista’s story. I never intended to write a series. I wanted to write about new characters, which is why I wrote The Mobster and the Cowboy right after Loving You. I love writing stories about two people coming together for the first time, about a new and exciting love. My fans have been asking for stories on supporting characters that I never intended to write about. (My fans – did I really just say that? That’s so cool). The thing is, as I write about each one, I get more and more connected to them. I’m falling in love with the cowboys I write about. Often, while I’m doing something unrelated to writing about them, one or more will pop into my head and I can hear them talking. Sometimes they are horsing around; other times they are having a heart to heart talk.  I am so grateful my fans want to read more about them, it has given me the opportunity to dig deeper.

 AJ: If you could have lunch with any “big time” author from any era, who would it be?  What would you ask?

Rosemary Rogers keeps coming to mind. It was after reading her historical romance, and first book, Sweet Savage Love that I started forming a story in my head all those years ago. The combination of the Wild West and a strong, sexy cowboy appealed to me then and it still does. I would probably ask her what was the one piece of advice she received that really resonated with her when embarking on her writing career. Would she pass that advice on now, or give a totally different piece of advice, and if so, what would it be?

AJ: What was the last good book you read, and would you recommend it to others?

MM: The last good book I read was “Immortal”, the final book in J.R. Ward’s Fallen Angels series. I loved it and would definitely recommend it. Ward is also the author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, another series I’ve read and enjoyed. She tells hip stories about sensual male vampires and angels that can keep me so engrossed that I wind up finishing them way too fast.

AJ: Mae, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today. I wish you all kinds of luck with your new book!

MM: It was my pleasure. Thank you for having me!

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If you are an author or blogger who would like to be interviewed for “Ten Questions With –” please contact me at AuthorAJGoode@gmail.com.

Counting Down the Days

I thought it would get easier.

I always believed that all I had to do was write that first book.  Get the first one done, and the next one would be easier.  Less fear each time, less details to worry about, more fun once I knew what to expect. Sort of like losing my virginity, only without any cheesy Michael Bolton ballads playing in the background.

That’s not how it’s working out for me.  His Heart Aflame has been a bit of a bear to write.  I feel like a kid throwing homework excuses at the teacher, but here’s why I’ve struggled with my second book:

  • I’ve learned so much from self-publishing my first book. I can see things that I did wrong with Her House Divided, and I don’t want to make those same mistakes this time.
  • Along those same lines, I realize that my first book was pretty simple. I want this one to be more complex, with a couple of subplots and more well-defined characters.  Threw in a couple of burning buildings and an extremely energetic sex scene on the beach, just to spice things up a tad.  I’m scared I’m not up to challenge.
  • My first book was drawn from my own experiences, created out of a bunch of “what ifs” as I recovered from a broken neck. It was a work of fiction, but it was also a huge part of my healing process.   My second book is drawn completely from my imagination.  Made from scratch, you could say.
  • I designed my own cover the first time around, and it sucked. The amazing and incredibly talented Jessica Richardson took pity on me and provided a much better cover.  I hired her this time (and will for every book I write in the future as well), which meant I had to take the time to select a cover, work with her, and stress about whether I could afford her or not.  This time around, the e-book and paperback will have the same cover, thanks to Jessica.
  • For a long time, I just didn’t like my heroine, Maggie. I wanted her to be sort of clumsy and hapless and unlucky, but I felt like I wasn’t getting to “know” her well enough to write about her.  Then my sister suggested the name “Maeve” for Maggie’s alter-ego in the subplot, and everything fell into place.
  • I wrote my first romance novel as a married woman. Sure, I knew my marriage was going through a rough patch; I just didn’t realize it was ending.  I’ve written this second romance novel as a middle-aged divorcee who has lost her faith in Happily Ever After.  I keep wanting to re-write the ending to send Sean and Maggie off in separate ways with a handshake and an agreement to behave like adults.
  • I didn’t tell anyone I was going to self-publish my first book. I just sort of threw it at the world and ran the other direction.  If I failed, I failed.  I’ve got to be honest – I never really thought anyone outside of my friends and family would buy it.  Now, people are waiting for the sequel.  Asking about it.  Looking forward to it.  Good Lord, I’m an author now, not just an unemployed hairdresser tapping away at the keyboard.   That’s scary as hell.
  • I’m at a different place in my life from a religious standpoint. This one is a biggie.  God has always been so important to me, but I have really felt His hand guiding me in recent months.  I find myself questioning whether or not I’m okay including sex scenes in my books, or if I need to take a shot at writing something more “squeaky clean.”  Maybe it’s time to write something more spiritual.  I’m so confused.

Despite the excuses difficulties, I have finally finished His Heart Aflame.  Three days after I reached this point with my first book, my husband and I decided to get a divorce.  After that, I couldn’t stand to look at the book again, and I rushed into self-publishing without any further edits.  And it showed.

I won’t make that mistake this time.  My second book is going out later this week to two trusted friends – trusted friends who are both smart and brutally honest.   My final round of edits will take place after I get their feedback, so I’m hoping to release His Heart Aflame some time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  I wish I could narrow down the exact date, but I just don’t want to promise anything that I may not deliver.

In the meantime, I plan on sharing the first chapter here in my blog, just to build some excitement.    I’ve temporarily dropped my price on Her House Divided to get it out into more hands.  And now, just because I can, I’m also going to do a little cover reveal.

His Heart Aflame 1
Well? Hot enough for ya?