Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy 3rd Anniversary, Long & Short Reviews!

Hi, everyone!

Long & Short Romance is celebrating its third anniversary - and I'm one of the party hosts! The gifts, however, are all yours! Participate in a scavenger hunt where LASR is giving away THREE Nook eBook Readers, along with a $50 gift certificate. Bonus? The Nook comes pre-loaded with dozens of romance and juvenile fiction current release, Hearts Crossing, included!

All you have to do is "Find Marianne's NOOK!!" It's somewhere on my website,
Here's a hint: Think about...uhm...stuff I have coming up in the future - LOL!
Find my nook, and then fill out the form you'll find on the entry toggle below! It's that easy! What are you waiting for? Click, and go huntin'!!! Have fun, and good luck!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oh, the glamour of business travel...

I'll be the first to admit it. When I hear about friends and colleagues who jet off to big cities on business trips, there's a part of me that thinks:"Gee. How fun. How glamorous..." You fly in, check in at what will most likely be a very comfortable hotel, accomplish some business goals, have a nice dinner, mix and mingle with people you may have only known through cyberspace or phone calls...sounds good right?

Sure it does.

Let me share the 'glamorous' story of my recent business trip to Chicago.

My plane departed at 7 am, so I arose at the horrific hour of 4 am to be sure I got there on time. Delays in getting a shuttle from the parking area to the terminal ate up a bit of the extra time I had built in, but no worries. Until I checked in at security, that is.

The 7 o'clock hour heralds the first morning flights to most major cities along the east coast from Detroit, so security was an absolute madhouse. After an hour in line, and a mad dash to the gate, I boarded the plane. Just barely.

Arrival in Chicago was uneventful, and actually quite fun, as the city skyline came into view. I had met up with a colleague from Ohio and we made our way to the Midwest headquarters of our company. We checked in at the security desk of the office building, and that's when problem number one came up. I lost my drivers license.

I had it when I went through security, and I slid it into my tote bag after that, so all I can figure is it came out when I was reading a book on the plane and I didn't even realize it.

Frantic calls to the airport, to the TSA, offered up only voicemail recordings. I finally connected to a human being who told me the documents I'd need to get home the following day. He also warned me to be prepared for a "slightly longer security check" on departure. Fine, I thought, as long as I get home.

Issue settled for now, I met up with my colleagues for - yes - a very glamorous dinner at the Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building. Outstanding views!! Wonderful atmosphere and food! After that, I literally sank into bed and was out before my head hit the pillow.

The next day we concluded our business activities and headed to the airport with plenty of time to spare (and get me through security without a photo ID...!) It only took an extra 15 or 20 minutes, and I had plenty of time, but the TSA team was thorough. They opened and searched my overnight carry-on. They emptied and searched my tote and purse, and even took apart my phone. They were nice, but very businesslike. And, since I had nothing to hide and was very eager to simply be aboard my plane, that was fine by me. I didn't even object to the full pat-down in the plexiglass security/holding pen...
However - I shouldn't have been in such a hurry.
I boarded the plane, pulled out my book to read (after making sure nothing fell out! LOL!) and the crew buttoned up the aircraft and we pulled away from the gate.
And stopped.
The captain came on, informing we were under a full ground stop at O'Hare due to severe, late afternoon storm systems moving through the Midwest. We'd be stopped for, at minimum, an hour and a half, but perhaps as long as two and a half hours. A sense of claustrophobia set in almost instantly. They kept the air running, but it wasn't very cool, and we were asked to close our window shades to further aid in keeping the cabin cool. Mid-July in the Midwest is typically humid and sunny - and late afternoon storm systems like this happen frequently - but I couldn't get over the idea of feeling trapped, and hemmed in.
I worked hard to distract myself with e-mails from my BlackBerry, reading, chatting with my seatmate, I even tried to write, though, to be honest, though I had a scene idea in mind, I just couldn't focus to that degree.
Thankfully after an hour and a half on the tarmac, we were cleared to take off. Just less than an hour later I was back home - drained and exhausted and eager for nothing but comfy clothes and fresh, cool air!! Added bonus? I had a trip to the Secretary of State in my future!
It sounds horrible - and, yeah, parts of it were, but it was also beneficial to me, fun, and just a small taste of that glamour I always thought about when hearing about business travel. Now, however, I understand more clearly when those who travel frequently on business tend to warn: "It's okay - but it's not as alluring as you'd think."
Be blessed everyone - and see you next time!

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Dreamed a Dream...

And White Rose Publishing is making it come true!

When I made the switch from writing secular romances to writing Christian inspirationals earlier this year, one of the factors that motivated me was the idea of creating a series of books based upon a single place of faith and worship – a church not unlike millions of others around the world, where people gather, bond, share and grow. After all, as we grow, we help and enable others to grow.

In book form I longed to paint that picture with words and stories that would, of course, feature a stirring romance, but reveal the beauty of a circle of faith and worship.

As most of you know, Hearts Crossing, my debut Christian inspirational, came about as the result of a writing contest sponsored by White Rose Publishing. While I waited and sweated the results, a second story took off – and I even had niggles of what I wanted to do with books three and four. Ultimately, I could see these stories becoming “The Woodland Series.” Though – bear in mind – I hadn’t gone anywhere with Hearts Crossing yet…

Talk about dangerous “prepare thee for disappointment” territory…

Well, nothing is dangerous when it comes to God, and His will. Shortly after the sale and debut of Hearts Crossing, I was able to present my editor with its sequel, Hearts Surrender. In that offering I explained that I also had ideas brewing for two more books after that.

She reviewed Hearts Surrender, and placed it under contract – and she asked for a synopsis and opening chapters of books 3 and 4, which I provided. I cloud danced for a bit, then got to work! Now, contracts have just been executed for Hearts Communion and Hearts Key, and I'm thrilled! Although, it hasn’t taken me long to figure out that it’s an exciting kind of terror to write on speculation.

So, a dream becomes reality – and beyond the Woodland Series, I’m very optimistic about my continuing relationship with White Rose Publishing. This publishing house holds my heart and loyalty. They do things the right way with regard to everything from author support and responsiveness to editorial talent and production quality. I feel so blessed and honored by this show of confidence as White Rose continues to grow and prosper.

There's much more to come, naturally! But for now, please enjoy the stunning cover for Hearts Surrender (artist Nicola Martinez absolutely outdid herself!). Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on Hearts Communion and Hearts Key. Please keep these efforts in your prayers. We need messages of faith, hope and love in today’s world! I've said it before, but I'll say it again: It's not about 'me' and 'books sold' - it's about honoring my God, and my beliefs in Him, His grace, mercy, provision and love.

For a bit more about Hearts Surrender, here’s a blurb:

Kiara Jordan is a sophisticated modernista, but beneath an engaging personality and super-model looks, her heart hungers, and she longs for deeper meaning in her life.

Ken Lucerne is the charismatic young pastor of Woodland Church; he's adjusting to life on his own following the death of his wife and copes by keeping as busy with parish life and mission work he can.

A home-building mission in Pennsylvania brings them together, and forces them to look hard and deep at the relationship they share, and where God means for it to go. Already bound by mutual respect and caring, love dawns, a love that takes them to a life-point neither would have expected.

After all, can a chic, vivacious woman find fulfillment within the quiet, mission-centered life of a clergyman? Can they trust God's hand strongly enough to surrender their hearts to one another…forever?

Blessings, friends!!