Writer Wednesday: Mardi Ballou

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This week’s author, Mardi Ballou, is pleased to offer an e-book from her back catalogue, listed on her site, to one lucky winner. Leave a request that you’d like the book, and I’ll use the online dice roller to see who gets the highest number to win.

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1. The Teach Him Tonight series is all about women teaching deserving men some valuable lessons. What inspired you to make this concept into a series?

So many men, so much inspiration. Magazines, the news, TV, movies — all are filled with examples of guys just begging for lessons in life and love. I imagine we all could tell our own stories. I think about the year my DH — I love him madly — chose a very special holiday gift just for me. Are you ready? Would you believe a tire gauge. When I got tears in my eyes, he looked puzzled. He said, “But it’s something you really need.” As this is the second marriage for both of us, I couldn’t help wondering if his first wife had ever tried to teach him anything. According to the grapevine, my ex gave his second wife great gifts… Never gave me any, but he sure learned how to treat the next one. Hmmm.

So my inspiration is guys. Also, you might have guessed this, I’m a teacher. It’s the way I organize the world. I see a guy, I want to teach him something. My heroines are like me in that regard. Take one great guy and help him meet his potential for romance. You’ll be happier, and I expect he will too.

2. Tell us a little about the first book in the series, Photo Finish.

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Photo Finish is a sexy contemporary romance inspired by my daughter. When I published my first novel, my daughter said, “Wouldn’t it be something if a woman wrote a sexy novel and used her beautiful daughter’s photo as the picture of the author.” Hmm, what a great idea! Only for my book, I made the women sisters — Cassandra and K.C. Here’s the blurb:

Ambitious attorney Cassandra Harrell is primed to battle her hot, hunky opposing counsel Alex DeLuca-a.k.a. Alexander the Great — in the courtroom. Though she fantasizes about getting him into her bedroom, she’s determined to avoid this bad boy distraction and focus on her career.

Alex spots the author photo on the back cover of a steamy romance and recognizes Cassandra. Who knew the desirable but icy lawyer had such a fascinating sensuous side? When he teases her about the book at a deposition, she furiously denies any connection.

Her sister wrote the book and, for a prank, used Cassandra’s photo. Outraged at Alex for embarrassing her in front of clients, Cassandra plots a revenge lesson. This teacher comes out on top until her student raises the stakes — and the heat.

3. Tell us a about Emergency Ex, the second book in the series.

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Inspiration is everywhere. So’s chocolate, thank goodness. Like so many others, I love chocolate. I’ve always wanted to write a story with a chocolatier as a main character, and here was my chance. The title and idea for Emergency Ex came to me on a train in England. I looked over at a window and saw written the words Emergency Ex. Right away I started thinking. What’s an Emergency Ex? Who’s an emergency ex? Of course I know the sign should have said Emergency Exit, but what fun would that be? Here’s the blurb:

“Love is the emotional chocolate of the universe.” Actually, successful chocolatier Brenda Lockheart deals with the sweet brown confection lots better than she does with love. For years she’s been in love with Keith Tarrant, her best friend with benefits. As her thirtieth birthday approaches, hot lovemaking and intense friendship no longer satisfy her. She demands more. It’s time to make a commitment or say good-bye. Keith goes along at first, and she’s hopeful. But as her birthday gets closer, her relationship with Keith hits snags.

Keith loves Brenda and can’t bear to lose her, but he’s got lots of unresolved baggage and a history of being less than she deserves. Though he’ll try to get over his issues in time to make her birthday special, when a new roadblock arises, he’s out of his depth. Can Keith man up and commit to Brenda in time? Or will their relationship crumble and turn her into one more of his many exes?

FYI, the After Class, the third book in the Teach Him Tonight series, will be coming out later this fall.

4. I see from your back catalogue that you’ve written both m/f and m/m stories and novels. Do you strive to mix it up, or do you simply write them as the inspiration hits you? Have you found that there is additional research that goes into m/m works? If someone were to check out one of your m/m titles, which do you have a big soft spot for, personally?

I’ve always written m/f stories. I did write m/m stories in the past — when I had someone in my life who could help with the research and point out where I got things wrong. I enjoyed getting into the futuristic vampire world that’s in the From the Light collection from Changeling Press — originally inspired by the movie Ladyhawke. The character I had the most fun writing for this series was Retkove, the villain. Someday I might return to this world to give him his own story.

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The m/m story that I have the biggest personal soft spot for is Tingle Bells from Ellora’s Cave. This is a fun paranormal Christmas novella that takes place in Princeton, New Jersey. I’m a Jersey girl living in California and love to set stories in the Garden State. I always get a big smile when I reread this story of an inventor and a private eye who are dealing with a very “eccentric” but loving family during the holiday season.

5. You’ve got quite a back catalogue of romances. How long have you been publishing? And what has been the most rewarding aspect of your second career as a romance author?

I actually wrote stories and newspaper articles before I started writing romances. I sold my first romance Hook, Wine & Tinker from the Pantasia series to Ellora’s Cave in 2003, and it was released in January, 2004. There’s so much that’s rewarding about being a romance author. First of all, there’s the fun of creating stories and then finding that people enjoy reading them. It’s a treat to meet and chat with fans. It’s also a treat getting to know other writers and spending time with them at meetings and conferences. I have to admit I get a kick out of people being surprised to discover that I’m a romance writer. Their first question always is, “Are you published?” What a thrill to be able to say, “Yes!”

Twitter account:  twitter.com/mardiballou
Facebook account:  www.facebook.com/MardiBallou
website:  http://www.MardiBallou.com