Monday, December 10, 2012

Nancy Lee Badger Interviews Marliss Melton

Please welcome my guest author Marliss Melton. Her most recent release book, THE GUARDIAN (Book 2, Taskforce Series) is a romantic suspense novel and was released on July 15th electronically. The paperback will be out by Christmas, 2012. In addition, Marliss just released LONG GONE, A novella based on characters from Navy SEAL book #6, TOO FAR GONE.
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I am the mother of a soldier, so your titles caught my attention. Please tell my readers a little bit about your book.  
THE GUARDIAN is the 2nd book in my Taskforce Series. This series revolves around a government taskforce that pulls agents from various agencies to combat suspected terrorism. In THE GUARDIAN, FBI Special Agent Jackson Maddox poses as a parolee in a reintegration program. His deep cover is put at risk when a sexy journalist takes his photograph. What happens when he confronts her?
LONG GONE is a novella based on characters from my 6th Navy SEAL book, TOO FAR GONE. The day Skyler Dulay went into witness protection, Special Agent Drake Donovan lost a piece of his heart forever. Four years later, a desperate phone call pulls Drake back into the fight for Skyler’s future, not to mention his own.
Describe the genre of this particular title, and is the only genre you write in?  
My Taskforce series, like my Navy SEALs series, is a romantic suspense novel. Romantic suspense is the only genre I have written in as Marliss Melton. Before I published in romantic suspense, I wrote medieval historical as Marliss Moon. I plan to rewrite and republished these under a different penname.
Wow! I love medieval and will have to watch for yours. When did you start writing toward publication?  
When I was twenty-six years old, I realized I wanted to be a published author. Ten years later, I sold my first book.
Ten years? Most new writers think they can jump right in and get published. Look where you are now! How did you get into romance writing?
Romance is the only kind of writing that’s every really interested me. As an English Lit major, I read all the genres out there and wrote plenty of essays, but romance has always been my first and only love. A story without romance just isn’t a story worth reading!
Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?
My fourth completed manuscript was the book I finally sold. It became a RITA finalist for best first book. I rewrote the book before it, a Golden Heart finalist, and that became my second published book, but any previous manuscripts were given to the gods as sacrificial offerings.
Ha! I also have manuscripts ‘under the bed’, as we authors say. Why have you become a published author?    
My second grade teacher wrote in my report card, “Marliss is a natural-born story teller.” I guess I have simply been true to myself. Of course, I was a reader first, but I started writing my own stories in the 8th grade and I never stopped!
This might be a sore subject: do you have any rejection stories to share?
Who doesn’t? One my most motivating rejection letters was a reply from an editor named Cynthia Oh, who wrote, “Your writing just isn’t good enough.” No, pun intended but I owe Cynthia Oh a huge debt of gratitude for her honesty. My writing wasn’t good enough, but one sure way to make it good enough was to tell me that it wasn’t. I’m ornery like that. So I kept practicing. And look at me now, working on my thirteenth published novel!
Wonderful! What is your writing routine like?
I write every weekday for four to six hours. I’d be much more productive if that time wasn’t interrupted by sales calls, doctor visits, my husband desiring to be fed (and, no, he is incapable of feeding himself), my animals wanting to be walked, my youngest getting sick at school, and most commonly my three college-aged students begging for their papers to be proofread. I’m ready for an empty nest, but I have a ways to go yet.
I feel for you. I live your dream. Someday yours will come. Please tell us: who first introduced you to the love of reading?
I have to give credit for that to my mother. All four siblings and I would curl up on mom’s bed and she’d read to us before we all took naps. (Oh, for a good book and a nap!) Once a week she schlepped all five of us to the library to check out books. We had no television growing up overseas, so reading was our chief source of entertainment.
Who influenced your decision to become a writer?
My grandparents believed so much in me that they paid for me to have a babysitter for an entire summer so I could finish my first book. I believe their faith influenced my decision to become a writer. Plus, my father hammered out three books on a typewriter during my teenage years. I think that made an impression on me.
What sort of promo do you do? Do you have help?
I do it all. I get help for the big stuff from More than Publicity, run by Shannon Aviles out of Orlando, FL. Shannon makes QR codes to put on my books, creates book videos, soft-sell campaigns. She even did a TV commercial for me once. I basically take the time to answer every email that I get, spend time getting to know my readers on Facebook, and I have a street team of fantastic fans called my Special Reconnaissance Team. Truth be told, I hate promoting myself. I’d rather be writing, plus hate waving my own flag. I need someone else for that.
Which is why I offered to host you today. I believe in ‘Paying-it-forward’. Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?    
The most rewarding thing is just getting to write for a living. I love it more than life itself—sad but true. The second most rewarding thing is getting email from fans, like the one I got recently from a gal in Russia. She wrote, “You are my sunshine.” Gosh, what could be more rewarding than that?
How nice! Please tell our readers what you see ahead in your writing career.
I see a movie of THE PROTECTOR. Seriously, it would make a terrific movie, a cross between SHOOTER and TAKEN. I’m having it written into a screenplay in the hopes of that happening. I see a lot more books about heroic warriors and courageous women being written. I intend to rewrite my two medieval historical, finish off a third, and sell a trilogy of those. I also see myself writing inspirational romantic suspense.
I hate to repeat myself, but WOW! Are you a member of any writing organizations and, if so, have they helped.
Yes, I am a member of Romance Writers of America and the Virginia Chapter, VRW. The most helpful group for me is a group of romance authors based in my hometown of Williamsburg, VA. We just started meeting monthly this past fall. I learn so much from my colleagues and peers, plus we understand each other’s struggles and successes. Writing is terribly lonely. Every author should network, not only to advance her career, but to make long-lasting friendships.
Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract? 

Folks, if I can do it, anybody can. Truly. All it takes is two things, practice and persistence. Get good at telling stories and you’ll eventually find readers just aching to read them.
What’s next for you?
I’m working on Book #3 of my Taskforce Series and loving it:  When the Taskforce suspects a militia in West Virginia is behind the bombing of federal buildings, Special Agent Tobias Burke goes undercover with his bomb-sniffing dog to incriminate the militia’s leader.  Fiery-haired Dylan Connelly is unlike any woman Toby has ever encountered. Determined, intelligent, and achingly vulnerable, she sparks a white-hot desire in Toby to posses her, body and soul. As the evidence against the militia stacks higher, Toby must choose between loyalty to his country and the impulse to protect Dylan’s future.  
THE GUARDIAN:  FBI Special Agent Jackson Maddox poses as an ex-convict in a reintegration program believed to have ties to terrorism. The last thing he needs is scrutiny. So when he spies a hottie with a camera taking his picture, he resolves to chase her off. But Journalist Lena Alexandra has an agenda of her own—to send her sister’s killer back to jail. As the nights heat up and their investigations intensify, Jackson and Lena discover unexpected benefits to working together. But teaming up means more than looking out for each other—it requires perfect trust and sharing secrets. 
THE ENFORCER:  It’s been four years since FBI Special Agent Drake Donovan fell in love with the daughter of the mob boss he put behind bars. In spite of his efforts to move on with his life, one desperate phone call from the blue-eyed beauty pulls him right back into the fight for her future. Drake will assume any risk to keep Skyler from being lost to him again, but will it be enough to free her from the mob-ties that bind her?  
Excerpt from THE GUARDIAN
   Whirling at the door, Lena pushed it open with her hip as she tipped the liquid she craved to her lips. The last thing she expected was for the door to give way suddenly causing her to stumble into an unyielding, sun-warmed body.
   Gatorade showered her blouse. “Hey!” she cried, her protest trailing off with a gasp as she found herself face-to-face with the subject of her voyeuristic impulse.     
   Oh, my God. He was even more striking up-close. Staring aghast into his gray-green gaze, she found she couldn’t breathe. “Sorry,” she muttered, trying to squeeze past him. But he stepped into her path again, and her wet bosom bounced off his rock-hard chest like rubber balls bouncing off of concrete. A whiff of sweat, soap, and man made her head spin.
   “Excuse me!” She managed to sound indignant when, in fact, she was hoping the sidewalk would just swallow her.    
   “Personal or public?” he inquired, coiling a large, surprisingly gentle hand around her elbow and drawing her farther outside. The door bumped shut behind them.
   “I’m sorry?” She could hardly hear him for the blood rushing past her eardrums. An ex-con was holding onto her!
    “Your reason for taking pictures.” His deep voice held a cadence that brought to mind steel drums and fruity rum beverages, suggesting some Caribbean heritage.
    “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She tried diving past him a third time, but his grip, however gentle, proved unbreakable.    
    “You don’t have my consent to publish those photos,” he stated. Both his warning and his educated-sounding speech astonished her. As Lena gaped at him, his gaze dipped appraisingly toward her soaked blouse. Her nipples responded to his gaze as if he’d stroked them, springing to attention like diligent soldiers.    
    “What photos?” Ignoring her body’s response, she sent him a blank look. “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else.” 

How can my readers buy your book?   
A little bit about the author
Marliss Melton enjoyed an exotic childhood growing up overseas where entertainment meant riding on elephants in Laos, Sunday visits to museums in Paris, and tracking tigers in northern Thailand. Marliss excelled in linguistics, music, and story-telling. She has taught English and Spanish in high school and Linguistics at the College of William and Mary, her alma mater. A Golden Heart and RITA finalist, she has published twelve books, two short stories and one novella as of 2012. Wife of a retired Navy veteran, Marliss finds writing military romantic suspense to be a perfect fit.
Read more about Marliss and her books at:

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