You write Contemporary Romantic Erotica. What drives a it for you?
The relationship between my characters, every single time. I mean, obviously there’s sex (steamy, slinky, sexy sex!), but I think it’s important to have plot, humor and character development as well as sensuality in my books. After all, if my readers don’t know and/or care about my characters’ inner lives and backgrounds and as people, then who really cares if they’re having sex with another character? I want the sexy times to mean something, in the bigger context of the book.
Absolutely agree! I want to fall in love with the characters I read, otherwise there just isn’t much point for me.
How has self-publishing changed the way you read?
Well, a bit in terms of logistics, I suppose. I do 99% of my reading on my Kindle now, so I carry around 200+ books with me at all times. Self-publishing has also opened the world of publishing to thousands of people just like me, people who didn’t or couldn’t get any attention from traditional publishers and who just went on ahead and decided to have faith in ourselves. The glorious, gorgeous result of that is a real choice of not-super-expensive books by prolific writers. I do enjoy the selection that self-publishing has laid out before me as a reader.
Me too! I am committed this year to only reading indie authors and it has been a wonderful experience for me. I have gotten to know a lot of authors, you included, and it has been amazing.
Who or what has helped you become a better writer over time?
Writing. Just… writing. I’ve self-published 17 romance books since July of 2014, and I think that I’ve learned something significant and real with every book. I hope that this learning has also resulted in better writing.
WOW! 17 in a year! Dang! I can’t believe it! And this is why I think indie publishing is wonderful–no need to wait on your release dates!
You have put your blood, sweat, and tears into your work. What made it worth the effort?
Oh, Lord. Many things have made all the hours and doubts and fears worth it!
The financial independence of writing full-time and earning good royalties is huge, no doubt about that, but so is the flexibility in my time. I can write anywhere that has a spot to set my laptop and I can write at my own pace and within my own timeline. As my own ‘boss’, I set my release dates and I decide what I want to write. It’s a kind of freedom that I’ve never had before, and it’s amazing.
The next thing that makes it all worth it is my readers… they are smart, wise, warm, funny people and I love hearing that they’ve fallen in to a world that I’ve created and enjoyed their time there. And of course, I love when they say they’re waiting eagerly for the next book, because they want to revisit my characters!
I hope I get there with you after 17 books! Congratulations on that! Readers do make this whole thing well-worth it. I encourage my readers to feel free to contact their favorite authors because those kinds of emails, reviews, and messages make this indie publishing thing so worth it.
When did you start writing for publication? What made you decide to put your work out there to be read by others?
I wrote articles for magazines for years, and then I was the editor-in-chief of a few different monthly lifestyle magazines, so I worked professionally in publishing for a decade before I decided to write a book. My first self-published book was actually a collection of short stories, and I followed it up with the first two books of a trilogy (book three will be finished this year). All these things were written under my real name, and the books can be categorized as Contemporary Literature with elements of magical realism.
At the time that I was writing under my own name only, I was working full-time in an upper management role. Then early last year, the CEO went on a mad slash-and-burn of the managers and he fired me and about a dozen others. Suddenly, I had an awesome settlement package to live off for about six months and far too much time on my hands.
That was when I wrote my first romance book – just for fun, you know, just as an escape and a way to introduce an HEA in to my own uncertain and stressful existence – and when I self-published it in July, it took off. Readers asked about a second book, and I kind of shrugged and gave it to them, though it hadn’t been my plan to do so. I was still job-hunting and writing romance was not something that I took anything like seriously. But within a month, I’d written two books and was selling enough to pay my mortgage. That was when I thought that maybe I’d stumbled upon a new career, completely by happy accident.
So, I kept writing and putting my stuff out there and people kept reading and now here I am – living off writing romance. And loving every second of it…
Now this is a story I can get behind–love it!
Tell us about your favorite memory related to reading or writing?
It’s a memory from a long (long!) time ago: I remember when I finally bought the last book in the Bobbsey Twins children’s series. There were 72 books at the time, and I saved my allowance and searched high and low for those books and I just couldn’t find this one book anywhere. The day that I found the ONE LAST MISSING BOOK was amazing. I had a whole wall of shelves in my bedroom just for the Bobbsey Twins collection and I remember carefully, lovingly, setting the 72nd book in its place. I had such a sense of accomplishment at that moment – and of course, I then reread every single book, though I’d read them many, many times already.
YES!!! Love it! I know that feeling! I had it with the Box Car Children series when I was a kid–though I doubt that I ever got them all. I am now enjoying reading them with my daughter, though.
I found you through your social media presence. What do you like to see from your fans, followers, readers, and supporters on your social media sites?
I like when they participate in one of my book giveaways… I love giving prizes and presents, and I love when people take part in a competition for one of my books.
Oooh, we need to talk more about this! I want to know all the details for your events….I’m pretty good at promo 😉
As an author, what is that one memory that will always stick with you?
Pressing ‘publish’ on Amazon for the first time. It was when I self-published and uploaded my collection of short stories and I had the strangest sense of both flying and falling.
I think I got a bit sick when I did that. My stomach was a bundle of nerves for a few days–and then I discovered that I had no idea what I was doing!
What kinds of activities do you do to keep yourself fresh and happy with your writing?
I’m not afraid to take time off when I need it. I do yoga and I meet friends for coffee and I don’t put too much pressure on myself. If I want to write for years and years (and I do) then I need to make sure that I enjoy writing for as long as possible. I try to write every day, at least a little bit, and I think that approaching it with a spirit of fun and adventure is crucial.
I also have several different series; I have five in total, with four of them still ‘active’ and with more books to come. This variety keeps me interested and if I feel stuck or stymied with one series, I simply work on a book with a different cast of characters and situations. That way, I’m always writing something that interests me – and if I’m interested, then my readers will be too, I think.
You are doing exactly what I do–work on more than one thing at a time. We don’t get stuck–we move on to something else until the ideas come flowing back again.
When you consider your future, what would you like to make happen for you?
I know it sounds a bit odd, but I’d like to invest a bit of money in to renting an office/writing space. Nothing huge and nothing fancy – but a space that would be for my writing only. At the moment, I work at home about 90% of the time and I sometimes go to cafés when I feel the need for a change. It’s a cheap, comfortable way to work… but I do find it a bit stifling at times to live and work in the same place. Also, it can be hard to separate my work life from my family life.
No, a small space for my writing would be great. But right now, it’s a silly expense that I can’t really justify. Maybe one day, after I write a few more books and save up some money!
Good idea! A writing space all your own where you can leave “work” at work. Family time is just as important.
Tell us a bit about your current work(s)-in-progress.
At the moment, I’m working on two books simultaneously, because I do enjoy a challenge. One is the fourth book in my ‘Dangerous Curves’ series, called ‘Gentle Curves’. The second is the first book in a brand new series. Both books will be out by the end of next month (May).
Oh I did so love Killer Curves. I can’t wait to get my grubby hands on the others.
And what about your previous works? How we can get our hands on them?
At the moment, I’m exclusive to Amazon and all my books are in KDP Select. My Amazon author’s page is here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00LH0AIKO
Where can we find you to tell you how amazing we think you are?
Aw. I’d love to hear from you guys! My official author’s website is at www.marysoljames.com and if you scroll down to the very bottom, or just click on ‘Contact’, the page will take you to all the places where you can find me: Facebook, my blog, Pinterest, Amazon, Twitter, Goodreads, my newsletters and e-mail. Everything’s in one place!
Thank you for this interview, Jen! It’s been a pleasure….
Thank you Marysol!! Loved having you here and hope to see more from you soon!