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Today the All Things Romantic Suspense tour kicks on with uber-talented Marie-Nicole Ryan.  She’s here to discuss her romantic suspense LOVE ME IF YOU CAN, but before we even get there I’ve got to tell you I’m sitting here without my pants … she impressed them right of me with the answer to her first question.  And if you’re not blind after that particular bit of imagery, I’ll invite you to read all the way through to the end so you can find out how to win your own copy.  Shall we?

When did you write your first novel?  What was the process like for you?   Once completed, how long did it take to get it published?

It was a long, arduous process which took eighteen months to write the first draft of 142k words. That’s right 142k. With input from my critique group, I managed to pare SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS down to 128k.  I finished it in 2000 and started submitting. It was published in the summer of 2003 by a small press/e-publisher. I now have the rights back and it’s currently available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in electronic formats. SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS was my second novel published, however. LOVE ON THE RUN was first published in 2002. It took five and half months to write and was more of a category length novel.

Eeep.  Did you just say 18 months and 142k words.  WOW!  *Clears throat.*  Okay, you hold the distinction of being an award-winning author.  Which award means the most to you?  Why?

I think winning the 2008 EPPIE for TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE is the award which means the most. That book was my first for a new-to-me publisher, Samhain Publishing, and it just sort of told me I was on the right track when I submitted to them. I have a wonderful editor there, Linda Ingmanson, and I credit her with helping me to grow in my craft.

Oh, congratulations!  That would feel very good, indeed.  Have you ever battled with any of your characters over their personality traits?  If so, who won – you or the character?

Nothing specific comes to mind, but I’m the one in control at least 98 percent of the time. I really like being the boss.

I have a couple of characters who need a stern talking-to.  Perhaps if you have time?  LOL.  Have you ever made big changes in your story because someone – your crit partner, a friend, or beta reader – really didn’t like it?  Are you glad you did (or didn’t)?

Nope. But I rewrote a certain ms five times for four different editors before it was contracted. I wish now that I had just self-published it on Amazon.

Wow, that sounds like a lot of work!  I get tired of mine by the time I finish the first draft, LOL.  As a suspense writer, how do you keep track of the clues and plot twists?

I don’t know. I just do.  Seriously. If I’ve had to set the project aside for a while, I’ll go back and re-read the entire ms, but that’s about it.

*Swoon* – that’s incredible!  I’ll think of you next time I’m on a frantic search through my notes, LOL. Which of your novels most reflects who you are as a writer?  Why?

Probably SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS is the one which reflects who I am as a person and writer. I love big long books and it also dealt with reincarnation which I firmly believe in. But big long books aren’t in style right now, so learning to write more to the desired market length is my goal. All of my books have a large dose of family drama which is reflective of me as a writer. LOVE ME IF YOU CAN was conceived as the first book of six, but it’s doubtful the other five will be written. Actually number two is about 50k words along, but for personal reasons, I decline to finish it at this time.

Oh, man, there’s a story in itself!  What are you currently working on?

You mean what I SHOULD be working on?  LOL!  I’m currently without contract, but I have one almost completed romantic suspense and one barely started erotic historical western which will be the second in my “Loving Lawmen” series at Samhain. My last year has been chaotic with getting my house ready to go on the market, lingering (but now under contract) on the market for ten months, and moving to another state. Writing has had to take a back seat, but I’m inching along and hope to make some real progress soon. Really.

Wow, and you have a great reason for slow progress.  Me?  I’m just sitting on an empty excuse.  (Without my pants, you’ll recall.)

Readers, if you’ll be so kind as to turn yourself into random commentors, one of you will win an e-copy of LOVE ME IF YOU CAN.  Contest closed – congratulations to winner Dawn Staniszeski! Ms. Ryan has kindly requested for you to “Please check back at 8PM CST to see if you’ve won, and e-mail me at marie AT marienicoleryan DOT com with your chosen format: pdf, prc, lit, or html.”  To keep up with Ms. Ryan (and you know you wanna with that whole “Loving Lawmen” series tempting your bad side), you can head over to her website and blog or make a connection through Twitter or Facebook.  For the scoop on LOVE ME IF YOU CAN, visit the publisher or grab your print copy through Amazon.  Prefer digital?  A whole slew of e-formats are available through Fictionwise.

Thanks for joining us, everyone.  Good luck!