In her previous lives, she’s held an interesting array of occupations. She’s been a project manager, a software testing manager, sold used cars, pumped gas at a truck stop and worked in a morgue.
Mari’s favorite stories include Alpha females in love with even more Alpha males. She finds the clash of passionate, strong-willed personalities fascinating. She writes contemporary, paranormal and a little science fiction/fantasy.
Websites: http://www.marifreeman.com/; www.facebook.com/marifreeman
How many books did you write, and how long were you writing, before your first acceptance?
I don’t like to answer this question because my reply is somewhat misleading. The very first thing I submitted was accepted. However, I’ve been writing stories as long as I can remember. I have a minor in creative writing. Heck, my senior project for my anthropology degree was a fictional story in which I incorporated my various levels of training in archeology, sociology and forensic science in order tell a “coming of age story” for an ancient Native American boy. I didn’t decide to submit for paid publishing until much later, after a career in the technology industry came to an end along with the dot-com bubble. By that time, I’d written two novels, numerous short stories and even some poetry. I sold my first submission because I did my homework. I submitted the right thing, to the right publisher, at the right time. I had a good knowledge of the industry and its expectations before submitting. Doing my homework paid off. And I’m a lucky bee-yotch.
What was the most surprising thing you learned after becoming published?
I’d been active in my RWA chapter and had fantastic mentors prior to and during the process, so there weren’t any real big surprises.
Got any advice or an enlightening story about dealing with revisions or working with editors?
I’m a tough nut for an editor because I’m dyslexic. Getting my own thoughts properly on the page can often be exceptionally challenging. That means my editor also has some challenges. My process can be much slower than others because I have to get more eyes on my manuscripts before I submit. I’m very lucky to have a great editor in Kelli. She found a way to work with me despite my disability and still pushes me to improve in spite of it. It’s a hard mix.
I think the biggest challenge new authors have with editing is recognizing that good editing will make EVERY book BETTER. Your editor is not your BFF. She [or he] is not there to make you feel good. She is the filter between you and your reader. She knows what should flow through and what shouldn’t. She is the one who will make your work the best it can be. I think of it this way: My editor is watching over my brainchild and preventing me from a brain fart.
What’s your favorite promo tip?
Make it PG-13, not NC-17. Remember that you want that promo item, on which you spent all your hard-earned money, to stay in your potential readers’ hot little hands. That means you have to keep your readers’ households in mind. I can’t have the really steamy stuff sitting around my house because I have an eight-year-old. So letter openers, cups, pencils or note pads that have overly provocative imagery or copy do not make it into my house. Try to be as inclusive as possible with promo. The more potential readers who take your widget home and use it, the better.
Did you have an agent when you sold your first story? Do you have one now?
No and No.
Do you feel there’s a stigma attached to writing erotica/Romantica™?
Do people raise their eyebrows when I say I write erotic fiction? Sure. If there’s a stigma there I don’t acknowledge it. The line between what I write for Ellora’s Cave and what is considered mainstream is super thin. Is my work highly evocative? Yes. But it’s becoming closer and closer to prime time. Have you watched prime time TV lately? Even daytime TV. Last week, Ophrah interviewed Jenna Jameson and introduced her as the world’s most famous porn star and fellow entrepreneur.
How do you handle writer’s block, or do you believe there’s no such thing?
I went almost all last year without writing anything substantial. It was an emotional release after a couple of very stressful years full of highly emotional personal crap. Was that writer’s block? I don’t know. I’m just glad it’s gone. I put my butt in my chair and I write. It works.
What lengths have you gone to in the name of research? What wouldn’t you do?
I treat research like a school project. Talk to people who are experts in the areas you need to know about. Read. Read. Read. I’m not into “method research”. You don’t have to play with group sex to imagine what group sex would be like. I have a great scene that involves a werewolf and a swing set, and I assure you, I did not search out a werewolf in a kids park to get first-hand experience. I do what I think is the appropriate amount of research for the subject. I don’t want to get so lost in research that it takes away from the writing.
What’s the most importance piece of advice you have for aspiring (not yet published) authors?
Finish the book. Don’t perfect it. Finish it. I’m not saying don’t make it the best it can be, but don’t cripple yourself with perpetual rewriting. Next, determine what your strengths are and then find a critique partner with different ones. My incredible CP writes deep, character-driven stories. I write highly plot-driven stories. We meet and talk about everything we write. She helps me to work on my character development and I help her with strengthening plot.
Would you offer any word of warning for aspiring or new authors about the writing profession or the publishing industry?
There’s really no excuse these days for not understanding this business and how it works. There are so many great blogs by authors, editors and publishers. You can find workshops and panels at local conventions. So much info is available to the unpubbed. You have to treat it like a business even when it’s your second job.
Do your homework. Find the right publisher/editor/agent for the book you’ve written. Make sure you submit it the way they’ve requested it. If you’re unsure, ask questions. I’ve found romance authors to be incredibly open and helpful.
Anything you want to share with readers about yourself, or previous, current or upcoming EC releases?
Sin on Skin, the sixth book in the Cougar Challenge series, released December 9th. Yay! Love Doctor comes out March 19. And I’m currently hard at work on the sequel to Beware of the Cowboy and plotting the next of Keena’s adventures for the sequel to Birthright. Whew… that’s of work to do.