Sunday, September 11, 2011

Awe-Thors Blog Tour - Interview with Ann Tracy Marr

Today on our awesome Awe-Thors Blog Tour my guest is fellow Awe-Struck Publishing writer Ann Tracy Marr. I had a few questions for her...

Jana:  Where do you like to write? Describe your work space.

Ann: I write at my desk. It’s not really a desk, but two ancient Formica covered computer tables from the early 1980’s (they hold two printers, the monitor, mouse, keyboard, telephone, a handsome clock my husband received as a gift from his employer, pens, stapler, and a ton of paper), a table meant to reside behind a sofa (turned sideways, it is the home of a dying scanner, more paper, and a lamp), and a rickety book shelf (piled with books, paper, cd’s and lots of dust),all lined up in a row against the wall of the dining room.

I stare at a wall, since I had the sense to NOT line my desk up under the window. Half of the wall is blank and the other half has my grandmother’s tapestry hanging on it. I love that tapestry; it’s faded, but still clearly shows five French -- I assume they are French -- people around a card table. Two men and two women are seated; they wear powdered wigs and lots of lace. One of the men holds the eight of clubs. The fifth person is a woman with a gorgeous fan coyly directing attention to her low bodice. She is flirting with one of the men. Yes, this tapestry is big, maybe 4 by five feet. Kind of inspiring for writing romance.

The floor isn’t nearly as inspiring. I try not to look at it. 1920’s wood, covered by a cheap rust and off white rug to protect the wood from my rolling desk chair, tons of dust, trash can, shredder, a couple of boxes holding (what else?) paper, the computer tower, my purse, speakers… No, the floor doesn’t inspire anything other than a compulsion to clean, which I resist. I have better things to do than clean.
It doesn’t make for much of a dining room.

Jana:  What does your writing schedule/routine usually look like? Do you write a little every day or do you block out large chunks of time to devote solely to your writing?

Ann:  In the morning, I wake up slowly, then stumble to the computer and turn it on. While it works on bringing up Windows, I go to the kitchen, feed the cats, maybe make some hot chocolate. Depending, I either empty the dishwasher or fill it up. Then I wander back to the computer and try to make myself write.

Sometimes, it clicks and I will spend the morning pounding on the keyboard. Other times, I check my email, play games (bad girl), or even pay bills. On a very good day, I will pound my fingernails until two or three p.m., at which time my mind invariably shuts down for good.

Of course, this doesn’t happen every day. I am a computer consultant -- I might have an appointment to go to, or a computer to torture. And when family is around, it gets hard to concentrate. Ideally, the magic kicks in and I write.

I almost never write at night. That time is spent needlepointing, probably in front of the TV, or doing worthwhile things with the family.

Jana:  How do you deal with stress, especially the stress of meeting deadlines?

Ann:  I don’t feel much stress with deadlines. If I have rewrites, I knuckle under and do them – they never have given me grief. Other types of stress -- the stresses of life -- impact my writing schedule, impede the flow of words. Then I do whatever it takes, even vacuuming, to calm me down.

Jana:  What authors or friends have influenced you as a writer?

Ann:  I might as well be a hermit. None of my friends or family have done much to influence my writing. Unless you consider my aunt, who, after reading my first book, tartly told me, “Fine, now write a real book.” Grr. I ask around for opinions on plot points and get blank stares or wildly inappropriate suggestions.

So I turn to authors. I reread some of the romance greats -- Mary Jo Putney, Jude Devereaux, Amanda Quick, to name a few -- when I need a jolt. But I discovered that humor makes the plot fly, so I stocked up on Joan Smith, Marion Devon, Katie MacAlister, Julia Quinn, and a few others. 

Jana:  What do you do to market your books? What is your favorite method of promotion? Your least favorite?

Ann:  I make business cards and leave them in random places. Between the wall and the top of the toilet paper holder in MacDonalds restrooms -- on tables in restaurants -- anywhere in airports. I’ll go to a bookstore and stick them into books, although that makes me feel a teensy bit uneasy. I used to spend a lot of time in Yahoo chat rooms, but unfortunately, it translated into a LOT of time. I am on Facebook and Goodreads, but I don’t do much there. My favorite way to promote is to make YouTube videos, but getting people to look at them is a chore.

My least favorite form of promoting is doing book signings. My handwriting is terrible and my tableside manner gets weird.

Jana:  What are you working on now – your current WIP?

Ann:  My WIP is the opposite of the boy who cried “Wolf.” How would you like it if you overheard two men planning a very bad thing, ran around and tried to get someone to do something about it, and were ignored? Maybe the only people who listen are witless fools (A.K.A. the Banshee Brigade) and they make the situation dangerous. And maybe you would worry about the man who starts following you around town. Yes, he is appealing. Yes, you might find yourself falling in love with him. But no, you don’t trust him enough to tell him about the very bad thing. Somehow, you will manage to find someone to listen to you and do something to stop the very bad thing from happening. Somehow…

Jana:  What would you like readers to know about you and your books?

Ann:  The concept is not as weird as it sounds. So what is the concept?

King Arthur and Camelot are not a myth. Arthur lived in London, built castle Camelot there, argued with Merlin about magic, and invented the Round Table. Then Arthur died and Merlin disappeared, perhaps into a crystal cave, but Camelot and the Round Table endured. Wander through time till you get to the Regency period -- Camelot is still in London and the Round Table still rules Britain.

If you like Regencies, you will like my books. They are solid Regency, with a change in profanity -- instead of “Bloody Hell,” the man might say “Bloody crystal cave,” and there are lots more knights. After all, any man can perform a quest and become a knight. Then he might join the Round Table and help make the laws, just as Parliament does in real life.

Women still wear Norwich shawls, swoon, and claw their way to the tip of the Marriage Mart. Lady Jersey gossips too much and Prinny causes scandal after scandal. The concept is Regency romance with a splash of magic.

Jana:  How can readers connect with you online?

Ann:  My web page is the best way to find out about me and my books.
I do a better job of keeping it up to date than Facebook. And anyone can email me at anntracymarr AT aol dot com.

Ann Tracy Marr gets so wrapped up in the Regency era that she forgets people want to know something about her. She admits to being fiftyish, which puts her firmly on the Dowager’s bench at Almack’s. There is a husband entailed to her estate and two unmarried daughters old enough to have made their curtseys to the queen but not so aged as to be considered on the shelf. To put syllabub on the table and keep her daughters in the highest kick of fashion Marr tinkers with the devil’s invention, computers. In plain English, Marr has a husband and two daughters on the sunnyside of adulthood. Her day job is computer consulting.

Next week my guest is Susan Roebuck. For a complete schedule of my guests on the Awe-Thors Blog Tour, please go to my website at  You can find a list of my guest appearances on the tour there as well.


  1. I'm always very interested in hearing about people's writing life and how they schedule their time. And next time I'm in a restaurant I think I'll leave my card for someone to find!

  2. That's a gutsy move, isn't it! Maybe I'll start doing it too. I can always use new readers.