Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Welcome, Marianne Arkins

Welcome, Marianne! I'm so glad to have you here at From the Pages. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us. I have read One Love for Liv--and loved it!--so I am especially excited to hear more about the author behind such a wonderful story. I've also read most of your Wild Rose Press short stories, and enjoyed them all. You have a fabulous way of pulling a reader right into the lives of your characters. I love being able to escape real life, even if only for a few hours.

Anyhow, if it's all right with you, I'd like to get right to the questions.

How long does it typically take you to finish a writing project?

Depends. I finished the first draft of “One Love for Liv” during NaNoWriMo - in 27 days. The editing took a little longer (just over a year!). I have a novel I've been working on for several years that still isn't done. I wrote a story I just submitted to Womans World in about 20 minutes. Another short story took me months.

I think it matters whether I'm working on achieving a specific goal (like NaNoWriMo) or not. I work better under pressure... which is why I'm participating in a smaller writing challenge with a dozen friends that we call JaNoWriMo (

I'm arriving late to JaNoWriMo but it is a lot of fun!

What kind of food do you like best?

There are few foods I don't like ( which accounts for my perpetual need to lose weight), but I'm especially fond of pizza. I had a white pizza with tomatoes and garlic the other day that was out of this world.

I'm a big pizza fan, too. I had one a few weeks ago that totally bowled me over.

Can you tell us anything about what you're working on now?

A fantasy that was my 2007 (failed) NaNoWriMo novel, and two sequels: one for “Kitchen Matches” and one for “One Love for Liv”, as well as a few short stories. And, it's true: I never work on only one project at a time.

If you had the choice of being stranded on a desert island or lost in a huge city, which would you prefer and why?

Absolutely a desert island. I'm a complete loner - though I suppose I'd miss the luxury of the city. How about I'm stranded in my own house in the middle of the city? *G*

The question most readers want to know but never get the chance to ask, do you ever write in your pajamas?

Every day! I'm up around 4 a.m. and don't want to wake the rest of the house, as that is my only true “alone” time. So, I slither quietly downstairs, brew coffee and write.

This is something I've wanted to ask you for a long time... How do you juggle all of life's other demands with your writing career?

Very, very carefully. My friends often wonder how I manage to do what I do - which includes homeschooling my daughter and co-running the very busy reviews site, The Long and the Short of It ( I often wonder, too. I'm big on multi-tasking, I don't sleep much and I thrive on pressure. So, it works for me.

You manage to squash everything in so well, and make it all look effortless!

Any advice for an author just starting out on the writer's journey?

Study, learn and find a talented mentor. Most importantly - LEARN TO TAKE ADVICE. The rules are rules for a reason, and unless you're Stephen King or Nora Roberts, I'd advise not breaking them. Finish your work, polish it and submit it. You'll never be published if you don't submit. Be prepared for rejection, learn from your mistakes and keep on keeping on.

I don't imagine you've got lots of spare time, but when you do get a chance to relax, how do you spend your time? What are your hobbies?

Scrapbooking. Gardening. Bird watching. And, I've just recently started agility training with my dog. I suspect it could become very, very addicting for both of us.

You've just won a million dollars. What would you do with it?

Invest most of it, lol. Yeah, practical, but I can't help it. I'd buy a house with a library and built in shelves and proceed to stock them. I've often toyed with running my own publishing house, but that would require more time than I have. Of course, one of the conveniences of money is being able to hire help. Oh, and I'd have laser removal of all the hair on my legs. Seriously... can you imagine NEVER having to shave your legs again? *sigh*

What a glorious idea! Never having to shave legs again? Sheer heaven, I'd say!

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

Somewhere warm and sunny. I'd prefer somewhere warm and sunny without all the drawbacks like flying cockroaches, water moccasins and alligators... so, my choices are limited to, yanno... nowhere. Can I just be wealthy and fly places all the time instead? I could follow the sun that way, but not have to bug bomb my home.

In the house--shoes or bare feet?

Bare feet. If I lived in the tropics, I'd never wear shoes.

When did you know you'd “made it” as an author?

I'll tell you when I do. Cuz, right now I'm still a work in progress.

How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?

Written or published? I only have one novel published, but I have several written. They need some, er... assistance in order to face the light of day. They will eventually. And, I have to say that my favorite always tends to be the one I'm working on (unless it's giving me trouble).

What is your favorite kind of cake?

Chocolate. Seriously, is there any other kind?

What frightens you?

Truthfully? That my daughter will die before I do. That my mom won't live forever. And that I'll never move back out west... I really don't like the northeast. I'm not fond of maggots, either.

Have you ever laughed so hard something has flown out of your face?

You mean like an eyeball? No. But I have been known to end up with various liquids up my nose.

Do you collect anything?

Frogs. I love them. I keep the artificial ones inside my house, and the live ones in my garden.

Your life is about to hit the big screen. What's the title, and who plays you?

I've often been told I resemble Natalie Wood ... but since she's been dead for a decade or two, she probably wouldn't be the best choice. How about Sandra Bullock? I adore her.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

I'd love to have you visit my blog occasionally: and remember to floss, be kind to animals and, if you're in the mood, check out my novel, “One Love for Liv”. You won't be sorry!

Marianne, I've loved chatting with you today! Thank you so much for visiting with us. I sincerely hope you'll come back in the future and talk with us again. I have a feeling we could just chat and chat and chat...

Readers, I hope you'll check out Marianne's work. As I said, I loved One Love for Liv and can heartily recommend it. It's a story that shows that the heart knows no boundaries--even when society's boundaries seem very well defined! It's a heartwarming story that makes me want to urge Marianne to write the sequel quickly! *G*

buy link for Liv:

Blurb forne Love for Liv:

Liv is out to prove her high society fiancĂ© is cheating on her. Can she do it without breaking a nail—or falling in love with Mike the mechanic?

Olivia “Liv” Leigh, wealthy socialite and spa owner, suspects her fiancĂ© of cheating on her. Drastic steps are required to discover whether appearances are deceiving. And if those steps require a bit of stalking, a change of appearance, a hippo-sized dog named Spike, and sacrificing her manicure to clean house for a sexy-but-sloppy man whose neighbor is determined to break several of the strangest Guinness world records, why should that be a problem?

Mike, a happily single auto mechanic, is more than content sharing his bachelor pad with piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and a sneaky ferret. But when a half-crazed woman in a bad wig shows up on his doorstep, what’s a nice guy to do?

Why, invite her in, unknowingly help her in her search for the truth and, in the process, fall head over heels for a woman who’s never been less his type.

And an excerpt:

Liv drove past the VW and parked around the corner. Nervous in these strange surroundings, she stepped out of the car. First one foot cautiously touched the pavement, then the other.

Litter dotted the sidewalk, and she sidled around a huge wad of pink chewing gum that glistened on the cement to her right, practically pulsating in the sunshine. The wooden fence beside her was covered in graffiti, mostly silly scrawls of people’s names and the objects of their affections.

With a glance over her shoulder at the beat-up sedan, she gave thanks she wasn’t driving the Miata after all. This neighborhood made her terribly uneasy, and her sweet car probably wouldn’t last an hour parked on this street.

She hurried up the sidewalk to the corner, grateful for the first time she was wearing sneakers instead of her usual pumps, and peered around to make sure Daisy wasn’t looking. Of course, she probably wouldn’t recognize Liv, but it was still good to be careful.

She trailed Daisy until the redhead turned up the walk toward the complex and moved behind some thick evergreen bushes. Liv broke into a trot, not wanting to lose her.

As Liv turned the corner, she nearly ran Daisy over. The woman had stopped to check her mail at the wall of mailboxes just outside the complex.

Liv leaped back and slipped between two parked cars, squatting down to hide for a moment until she realized she couldn’t see anything. She duck-walked up a few cars until she could lean down to peek underneath and watch Daisy’s feet to note when she moved on.

Utterly focused on the sight before her, she had no warning before the driver’s door beside her swung open, clipping her sharply on the head. She flew backward, sprawling into the street and thumping her skull on the pavement. Tires squealed nearby as a moving car whipped around her flattened body.

“What the—?” From a million miles away, a man shouted in surprise. She heard the thump of footsteps but couldn’t seem to open her eyes. “Hey, lady.” A huge, heavy hand shook her shoulder. “Are you okay?”

Something warm and wet swiped her face, both reviving and disgusting her. She kept her eyes closed and limply swatted at it. Her hand hit fur. “Ugh.”

“Spike, back off.”

Spike? What was going on? She gave a low moan and tried again to force her eyelids to obey her will, finally succeeding after a Herculean effort. A tanned face covered in five o’clock shadow and smears of black grease swam in front of her. Next to him, its neck surrounded by a studded black leather collar, sat the biggest brown dog she’d ever seen. The creature had drool suspended from its mouth and it looked as if it had swallowed a sneaker with the laces hanging out. Dear heavens, was that what had licked her?

The voice spoke again, and this time she saw the man’s lips move, though they seemed oddly out of sync with his words. The last time that had happened was when she’d seen Shoot the Piano Player in French with English subtitles.

“You don’t look so good. Maybe I should call for an ambulance or something. I whacked you pretty hard.” He touched her forehead and she tried to move away from those greasy hands. Did she have a smear on her skin?

“No, don’t call an ambulance.” Liv was dismayed at how feeble she sounded, but the last thing she needed was to draw more attention to herself. How would she explain that to Geoff or her father? “I’ll be okay. Just help me up.”

“If you’re sure.” Strong, firm hands slipped under her arms and pulled her easily to her feet. The dog leaned against her and shoved its head under her hand. She flinched at the feel of its bony, fur-covered skull even though she appreciated the support. It wasn’t enough, though, and her legs wobbled beneath her.

“Whoa there, Nelly.” The man tightened his hold and steadied her. “Maybe you should come inside and sit down for a couple of minutes. I could give you an ice pack for your head.”

Liv drew herself up to her full height, all five feet, two inches of it—damn, now she missed her three-inch heels—and declared, “I would no more go into a strange man’s house than…than…”

She hated that the man only grinned and watched her sputter. She lost the little bit of strength she’d summoned and sank down onto the sidewalk. “I’ll sit on the curb. Just get your ugly dog away from me.”

“Spike? C’mon, he’s gorgeous.” He gave the monster a vigorous scratch all up and down its body.

“And he’s not my dog, but don’t worry, he’s a marshmallow.”

“I don’t like dogs.” She dropped her aching head into her hands and peeked through her fingers to watch as the man dragged the dog a few feet away. Spike stared at Liv with droopy brown eyes for a couple moments before he turned and trotted into the apartment complex. Thank heavens.

“Look, you can’t sit out here by yourself. What if you have a concussion and pass out?” The man squatted beside her. “Do you live nearby? I could take you home.”

“I don’t live anywhere around here.” Heaven forbid. Liv waved off his offer with a flip of her hand. “I just need a few minutes to gather my wits.”

“I don’t feel right just leaving you here. Maybe you could go to my neighbor’s? Daisy is a pretty harmless woman—at least if you’re not a man—and from where I’m sitting, it’s obvious you’re no man.”

“Daisy?” That was impossible. What were the odds?

“Yeah.” He grasped her elbow and helped her stand again. Despite the grease and calluses, his hand was oddly gentle and comforting. “I bet you’re seeing double, and you can’t drive in that condition.”

Annoyed he was right, and interested in checking out where the competition lived, she reluctantly agreed. They walked side-by-side into the complex, each step making her head throb more.

“I’m Mike, by the way. Mike Peck.”

She looked up at him, really seeing him for the first time. He was unbelievably tall, well over six feet, and wore some kind of gray coverall that had his name embroidered on the patch affixed to the front.

She squinted at the smaller lettering above his name. Doug’s Import Auto Shop. Saved by a grease monkey. How exactly right for her day.


Dru said...

How come you don't consider your e-books as published?

When I read your statement about only have one novel published, my first thought was I've read other books by you so in my mind, they were all published.

Oh, is it because of the number of pages in your books that you consider them "novels"?

Marianne Arkins said...

Dru, it's not that I don't consider myself published, just that I don't consider myself a "success" as an author. Not yet. I'm still a baby -- with Nora Roberts-like aspirations! LOL...

And, yes, page limit is the determiner for whether a story is short or novel length. Most novel-length books will be at least 55,000 words (or about 150 pgs).

Thanks for coming by!

groovyoldlady said...

Gee Marianne, I think you're a success. You're my favorite romance author, for crying out loud!

Marianne Arkins said...

Awww... Groovy, you're so sweet!

Charity said...

Nice interview! I'm not sure if I knew about your frog obession or not. If I didn't already own copies of Liv, I'd go buy one.

Sarita Leone said...

So glad you gave this interview. Thanks, Marianne! :-)

Melissa said...

Nice interview, Marianne!