Jen: Today we welcome Jennie Marts to Romancing the Book. Jennie, will you share a short bio with us?
Jennie: USA TODAY Best-selling author Jennie Marts loves to make readers laugh as she weaves stories filled with love, friendship, and intrigue. She writes for Entangled Publishing, and reviewers call her books “laugh out loud” funny and full of great characters that are “endearing and relatable.”
She is living her own happily ever after in the mountains of Colorado with her husband, two sons, two dogs and a parakeet that loves to tweet to the oldies. She’s addicted to Diet Coke, adores Cheetos, and believes you can’t have too many books, shoes, or friends.
Her books include the contemporary western romance Hearts of Montana series, the romantic comedy/ cozy mysteries of The Page Turners series, the hunky men in the Bannister family in the Bannister Brothers Books, and the small town romantic comedies in the Lovestruck series of Cotton Creek Romances.
Jennie loves to hear from readers. Follow her on Facebook at Jennie Marts Books , or Twitter at @JennieMarts. Visit her at www.jenniemarts.com and sign up for her newsletter to keep up with the latest news and releases.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Jennie: Romancing the Ranger is about a city girl who meets a hunky park ranger when she accidentally burns down the outhouse in his state park and is required to rebuild it under the ranger’s supervision. Part of the idea behind this story came from a real situation that happened in Colorado where I am from. A woman really did go in to a state park to burn mementos of a broken relationship. That turned into a massive forest fire that burned homes. I wanted my story to be light and fun and not harmful, so my heroine only burns down the state park’s outhouse. This story is special to me because my own hero, my husband of 26 years now, was a park ranger and still works in parks so this story has some realistic moments that may have actually happened. I also love fish-out-of-water stories and I think it is realistic that people can find themselves in those kind of situations. Is it realistic to go to a state park and find a hunky park ranger? It could happen. Go visit some state parks and see.
The sound of an engine startled Reese, and she looked up as a green Park Service truck pulled into the parking lot.
“What the hell are you doing?” the park ranger asked, stepping out of the truck.
Reese registered blue jeans and cowboy boots on a tall, muscular frame. The man’s sandy blond hair held the natural highlights she paid dearly to achieve every month at the salon.
He wore a brown uniform shirt and a scowl on his otherwise handsome face.
A whoosh of flames burst at her feet. She jumped back as the fire spread to the tall dry grass in front of the outhouse.
Oh no! What have I done?
Panic welled in her chest as she pulled off her suit jacket and whacked the ground, trying to stamp out the fire.
As if it had a mind of its own, the flames headed straight for the dry timber of the outhouse, searching for more fuel to sate its fiery hunger.
Focused on the fire, she didn’t look up, but heard the ranger swear and radio for help. Then he ran up beside her, a fire extinguisher in his hands as she vehemently tried to put out the flames.
“Get back,” he yelled.
Her dog barked feverishly in the car. She wasn’t sure if it was at the fire or the man wielding the big red canister.
A glance at the car showed the dog scrambling out the open window, his yapping replaced with a painful yelp as he fell to the ground.
“Bagel!” she cried as the injured dog limped toward her.
She ran for the dog, oblivious of the ranger wielding the extinguisher. Intent on getting to Bagel, she ran right in front of him.
“Aahh!” she cried as a shot of white foam hit her in the chest. Shocked, she stumbled, her heel broke, and she fell to the ground. The little dog whined as it limped to her.
“Come here, baby.” She pulled it into her arms, cradling its hurt leg while trying to keep it from licking the white foam from her bare arms.
“Are you okay?” the ranger called to her as he continued to fight the flames that now engulfed half of the park’s outhouse.
The sound of a siren filled the air, and another Park Service vehicle arrived, equipped with a water tank and hose. Two men jumped from the truck and had the fire extinguished within a few minutes.
One of the men patted the ranger on the back. “You all right, Wade? Lucky for you, we were already coming up the pass when we heard your call.”
Wade ignored the fireman and turned to her, his face full of anger. “What the hell were you thinking? You could have set the whole forest on fire. This is a state park, and we’re under a fire ban.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.” She awkwardly tried to stand, wobbling on one foot with the hurt dog in her arms, her broken shoe lost somewhere in the chaos of the fire.
A low chuckle sounded from one of the firefighting rangers as he glanced at her chest.
She looked down to see the liquid from the extinguisher had turned her ivory camisole see-through. The white lace bra she wore was no help in concealing her assets, and her headlights took advantage of that moment to shine.
That’s just great.
She lifted the dog higher as Wade stripped off his shirt and held it out to her. Distracted by his broad shoulders and seriously muscled chest, she clumsily handed him the dog and took the shirt. Tearing her eyes from his slim tapered waist and tanned bare skin, she pulled the warm shirt around her. It smelled like aftershave and campfire smoke. “Thanks. Look, I really am sorry. I’m happy to pay for the damages.”
She felt horrible for starting the fire. Her stomach ached at the thought of what could have happened.
But her regret was lost on the ranger.
His face darkened with anger. That had apparently been the wrong thing to say. “What’s wrong with you people from the city? You think you can come up here with your fancy clothes and your flashy cars and disregard all the rules. You could have caused some real damage here. You don’t care about anyone but yourselves. Money doesn’t fix everything, lady.”
Whoa. This guy was hot. And not just in a handsome way. In a seriously pissed off way.
She needed to tread lighter. Not make him any angrier.
Hmmm. Why did this feel familiar?
Because this was what she always did. With her father. With Brock.
Hadn’t the purpose of her drive up here been to take back control of her life? To throw away not just the mementos but the bad habits of trying to please everyone else and bending over backward to not get anyone upset?
The only way to quit being weak was to be assertive.
No time like the present.
She squared her shoulders and stared the ranger in the eye. “Look, mister. It was an accident. I said I was sorry and offered to pay for the damages. That’s my offer. What are you going to do about it?”
Thirty minutes later, she was reconsidering her decision to test her newfound assertiveness on Ranger Wade as she cooled her one dusty heel in a jail cell.
Jen: Are you a plotter or pantser?
Jennie: I used to be a total pantser, letting the story come to me when it wanted. But now that I’m writing as a full time career and putting out 3-4 books a year, I can’t afford to not plot. I have a writing goal of 2-3000 words a day for 4-5 days a week, so when I sit down to write, I need to know where I’m going and what’s happening in the next scene. I’ve learned a lot about story structure and now it really helps me to have the entire plot lined out and know what direction I’m headed when I start the book.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Jennie: Love, laughter, and happily-ever-afters.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Jennie: This last year, I started a routine of consistently doing 30 minute writing sprints with a few other authors. We set an actual timer and commit to writing for 30 minutes with no distractions then report our word count numbers to each other. The consistency and accountability has dramatically increased my production.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Jennie: There’s a funny story behind the cast and the names of my new release, Romancing the Ranger. The submission guidelines for the Lovestruck line at Entangled Publishing where the book is published described the heroines that they were looking for to be a cross between Reese Witherspoon and Kate Hudson- so I named my heroine Reese Hudson and imagine her that same way. Ranger Wade Baker is completely inspired by one of my favorite heroes- Wade Kinsella from Hart of Dixie. I have several pictures of what inspired me on my Romancing the Ranger Pinterest board. Check it out at: https://www.pinterest.com/tjmarts/romancing-the-ranger/
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book?
Jennie: My sister actually threw me an amazing book launch party where she lives in Las Vegas. Her book club of twenty-some women had all read the book and dressed up for the party and had me sign their books. My mom had a cake made with the book cover on it and we served pink cocktails. My sister hired a cover model who looked like my hero to walk around the party, shirtless and with a fake gun tucked into the back of his jeans. It was so much fun and a night I will never forget.
Jen: Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Jennie: I try to celebrate every new book deal and release date because I never want to take those accomplishments for granted. My husband often times gets me flowers and takes me out for a special meal. If my sons are home from college, we’ll celebrate at The Melting Pot, one of our favorites. With my first book, my husband had the cover framed and gave it to me for a Christmas gift.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Jennie: I am finishing the third book in the Hearts of Montana series then working on the second story in the Cotton Creek Romances. It’s called Hooked On Love and is about a fashion journalist commissioned to write a story about an introverted fly-fisherman living in Cotton Creek. I’m planning on putting out the third book in my series of hockey romances, the Bannister Brothers, this summer. Then I’ll begin the next book in my cozy mystery/romantic comedy Page Turners series. So pretty much, just writing all the time. Lol. I will also be in Las Vegas next month at the RT Convention, so if any of your readers are going, I’d love for you to look me up.