Inside the Artist’s Mind: interview series 1, Marie Tuhart

I have had the pleasure of getting to know some authors and artists in both my physical and virtual lives.

As someone with a lot of curiosity about such things, I’ve asked these artists about their processes. Today I’m going to start a new series and my first subject is Marie Tuhart, who writes erotic romance.

Marie, thank you for joining me and the readers of this blog today and sharing a bit about your process. I call you and the next author I plan to feature in this series “open spigot writers.”

Marie: Thanks for having me, Nia! Open spigot writer – I never thought of it that way.

Nia: Well, I have, because I’m more of the “Sit at the keyboard until beads of blood form on my forehead” type of writer! And over the years in conversations I’ve had with you I’ve marveled at how you can take a premise and spin out a story. In fact, readers, Marie helped me retool an old suspense story I had into a straight contemporary (with a touch of suspense) and that became my first published story, The Last Straw.

Marie: I used to be like that, Nia. It takes time to cultivate your writer’s mind.

Nia: That’s good news! Actually, I’m having a lot more spigot moments with my work in progress. So that is encouraging.

Marie: Because you know how to put a story together.

Nia: It’s starting to come together for me. My learning process is… somewhat… slow… but that’s okay. I usually eventually get there. But back to you. Do you have a process and if so, how did you develop your process?

Marie: In a way, it helped me not to have published until I was almost ready to retire because it gave me time to learn what really worked for me.

Nia: Where do you get your ideas?

Marie: Oh geeze, I have no clue where I get my ideas. Actually I do know how More Than One Night came about.

Nia: Do tell!

Marie: Basically, I was trying to write for Harlequin Desire and they wanted flirty fun with friends books.

So I thought about what if four girlfriends went out to celebrate a birthday and one of them went off with a handsome stranger for one night. The story just took off from there.

Nia: Wow. You’re kind of a “What if…” author. See, that’s super interesting because I’m not.

Marie: Sometimes. When something comes to me, it’s not always a “what if” question. Like with Theirs Forever, I just thought what fun it would be to have two guys and a gal come back together after seven years. The story came from that thought.  I really don’t think “what if”, my brain supplies it.

Nia: (Note: Theirs Forever is a work in progress. To learn more about Marie’s WIPs, click here.) So a thought comes out of the blue?

Marie: Yes, out of left and right fields, so to speak. Silver Screen Dom was sort of the same way. Michael is a secondary character in Movie Magic and I thought it would be fun to give him his own story. No plot, no what if.

Nia: When do the ideas come to you? While washing dishes, driving, showering?

Marie: Ideas come to me at all different times.

Nia: Do you have some examples?

Marie: Walking, sleeping, just sitting and people watching.  In the doctor’s office, waiting in line. Those are some examples.

Nia: With your work in progress, did you get the idea first, the heroine first or the first scene first?

Marie: Actually the hero was first, then I found a heroine that fit him. The first scene was kind of organic, the hero was supposed to be one way and the heroine the other, but she didn’t like that, so the hero and I let her have her way!

Nia: That’s really interesting. So the characters have free will, a little or a lot!

Marie: Oh yes, my characters act on their own a lot of times.  They tell me what they will and will not do, LOL!

Nia: Do you write up character sheets about them or are they just born and developed in your mind and on the manuscript page?

Marie: It depends.  Sometimes I do character sheets, but at least 75% of the time they’re just born and developed in my mind and in the book. This approach can create a lot of re-writing, but it’s more fun to let the characters reveal themselves.

Nia: Did that change? Like when you started you did more sheets and then you changed to repeat drafting and organic writing?

Marie: Yes, when I first started writing, I did a lot of character sheets, plotting, etc. Now it is more organic, as I learned what works for me as a writer. But the more complicated a book is the more I need to keep track of stuff.

Nia: Thank you, Marie! I have a lot of wonder about the magic behind the book, so thank you for sharing today!

Marie: You’re welcome! It’s hard sometimes to figure out what the creative process actually is. And it’s important to remember there’s no “right” way. Everybody is different. Discovering your own process is a large part of the work.

Nia: Thanks for your closing comment and for all your reassurance and encouragement. B

I’ve also interviewed New York Times Bestselling author Brenda Novak, and although the interview didn’t focus on process, the topic did come up. So if you’d like to check that out, it’s on my Book Reviews page or here’s a direct link: When Summer Comes, Brenda Novak.

Versatile Blogger Award and new Romance: mine!

You toil for years and years, quietly putting words on the screen, deleting them, putting them on there again… kind of lonely, but it’s your life. Then one day, everything happens at once.

Disappointment was quickly replaced by relief when I learned my first-published story, The Last Straw, wasn’t coming out until November 13th. Ah, I said, leaning back in my chair, linking my fingers in front of me and stretching my back. Plenty of time to figure out some promo ideas. More like pick a few ideas out of a gazillion available in this writer’s sphere that has gone from quiet and lonely to tweetingly, bloggingly, noisily busy.

Well, my publisher (love saying that) just released The Last Straw for a 3 month exclusive on Kindle Direct Publishing! (The book will go out to all retail outlets 11/13.)

What’s that popping sound you hear? Yes, it’s the champagne.


Not only am I celebrating the release of my book here today, I’m also am celebrating…

A blogger award!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!! The Versatile Blogger!

This beautiful nomination was bestowed upon me by the fabulous Gynji, whose brilliant blog domesticgeekgirl makes me laugh and learn and catch a glimpse of what it’s like to be young (which I no longer really can claim to be), pregnant (which I never could claim to be) and married to a fabulous Navy man (which I usually can only experience through Romance novels)!


The rules for this award are as follows:

1. Display the Award Certificate on your website/blog

2. Announce your win with a post. Make sure to post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination.

3. Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers

4. Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post

5. Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

7 Interesting Things About Me:

1. I’m collaborating on a novel with another author, a first for me, and I love it. I know a pair of authors who collaborate and always wondered how they did it, why they did it and thought I would never do it. They are an amazing team, though, and now I know why they do it. See #5 below.

2. I left my day job last September, a dream come true.

3. I started writing novels in 2001 and tried to quit many times over the next 12 years.

4. Quitting didn’t stick. I thought I was over it, but I started writing again 3 days after I left my day job. The story that was just published yesterday!

5. I actually loved my day job! I was a project manager and worked with really great people. I was sad to leave, but I’ve found I’ve recreated many things I loved about work: I have a critique group, belong to a couple RWA chapters, and now I even have a writing team for my novel(s). (It’s a series!)

6. I’m not a fast reader because I subvocalize. I think I’m an auditory learner. Or I just really like the sound of words. Both, probably.

7. I forget a lot of stuff but remember a lot of conversations verbatim. 

Now for the best part, getting to acknowledge more hard-working bloggers!

  • celebrates the joy of gardening and has lots of tips as well as photos from her travels.
  • Want pictures from all over the world? This one’s versatile!
  • Ren X. Kyoko delights and amazes with her funny and fascinating not to mention brilliantly illustrated posts. I cannot stop reading one of her posts, once I start. Can. Not. Stop.
  • You must see beautiful pictures and the beautiful island of Patmos offered by Manos, Flora and Marinos.
  • For a brilliant travel blogger offering a humorous theme and plenty of info, see Traveloops. (Isn’t that a great blog name?)
  • Check out the happy themes and get inspired with challenges here: Ese’s voice.
  • Getsetandgo produces very informative as well as beautiful posts on travel; learn how she gets in and out of exotic places on a budget.
  • I appreciate for great photos and for telling about his experience of living with a chronic illness. His blog is down-to-earth and inspiring.
  • This blog lives up to it’s beautiful name: thehourofsoftlight.
  • Scott at scott2608 has gorgeous photos of a variety of subjects.
  • ronscubadiver offers amazing photos from all over the world on his well-organized blog. That link will take you to Haleakala, for example.
  • Just about everything you need to know about traveling to Costa Rica is available from this team: costaricatravelblog.
  • Trinity is a wonderful and versatile artist who I bet will inspire you as much as she does me:
  • There are so many ideas and recipes to enjoy and keep you healthy at Moveeatcreate, and some fun ones like the second link provided here for whiskey sours.
  • And now for something completely different: The Leadership Freak. If you work on teams even if you’re not a project manager, I highly recommend his blog. Every post is brilliant.

Book review, Forbidden, Jacquelyn Frank

Forbidden was highly recommended by a reader in my romance reading group and it was a good tip.  This is a very good paranormal romance. Jacqueline Frank weaves a wonderful tale around not two but four souls in two bodies. The blended souls really work. She develops the characters of each soul well enough to make them distinct and then shows different combinations interacting in adventurous, romantic and occasionally humorous situations. A great cast of characters and solid world building draw you in while also setting a solid foundation for the Nightwalker series.

No vampires here, rather, a wonderful mix of Egyptian Pharaohs, mythology and a bit of history (delivered with a spoonful of sugar).

And you get two very distinct yet equally alpha males in one immortal, beautiful man… yeah. Like a chocolate sundae without the calories.

There’s a good secondary romance.

The ending is a real punch. Fantastic. And now I have to read the next one.

A really good romance! Book review, A Real Cowboy, Sarah M. Anderson

This book is a Harlequin Desire. I found it when I was looking for examples of covers to send in with my Cover Sheets. (For a post about my final cover, see The cover is here!) I liked the cover (can we just pull the tongue back into the mouth, Nia?) and the blurb intrigued me. See? Covers and blurbs do help sell books in this crazy, wonderful market, with so many fabulous books to choose from. (From which to choose, I know, I know, but who really talks that way?)

In A Real Cowboy, the hero is wonderful and so is the heroine. The writing is superb. The book pulls the heart strings. The most difficult part for me was knowing the Big Black Moment, as we call it in romance writing, was going to come. It always does. And when it did, Ms. Anderson handled it brilliantly. Every step of the story is well motivated. When the characters make mistakes, I understand why.

The setting is fabulous. The blizzard is so realistic and interesting. Quite different from the blizzards we get at Lake Tahoe, which is where I’m from.  (From where I come? Yeah, right. Please forgive me, I do know grammar and choose to ignore it sometimes.)

You can get it here:


$1000 prize, author interview & book review, When Summer Comes, by Brenda Novak

ALERT: When Summer Comes is on sale for $1.99 (instead of $6.99) across all digital platforms for a limited time only. This is rare for a front-list book. Grab it.

PRIZE: Go to for a chance to win. Have some fun too, all you have to do to enter is answer the question: What would you do this summer if you thought it was your last? The winner will receive a $1000 travel voucher to ANYWHERE. Winner will be drawn on April 30th and notified by email on May 1st.

An interview with this New York TImes bestselling author follows the review.

She’s done it again. In this compelling and wonderful installment of the Whiskey Creek series, Levi, the hero, as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, has unfortunate but realistic motivation for his conflicts. In fact, realism pervades Ms. Novak’s work and, along with naturalness, is one of my favorite things about her writing. It’s a connected series, meaning you get to know the characters and the town, but you don’t have to read them in order.

Since I don’t know how Brenda does her magic, I decided to ask her, and she agreed to answer some questions for this blog.

Before I get to this wonderful interview, I would like to state the obvious: I’m a huge fan of Brenda Novak. Obviously, of her writing, but also of her, as a person. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Brenda a few times, always when she was extending herself to help other writers or readers.

She is a generous person and one who makes a huge difference beyond her writing. Brenda used her success as an author to create, develop and nurture an online auction to fund diabetes research.

She started with an idea, did it, and, over the years has raised $1.6 million (so far!) to help improve the lives of people living with this disease.

How many people do you love have diabetes and how many people do you know have a loved one with this disease? I counted nine for myself, in less than a minute. I’m sure there are more in my life or one or two degrees of separation from me.

Research scientists have made some impressive progress on this disease. I have read about exciting breakthroughs in research, improvements in treatment and glimmers of hope on the horizon for a cure. None of that progress would have happened without funding.

Of course, other people have given generously to the auction, and it has grown so large Brenda has someone helping her with the administration now, but today I want to celebrate the person who not only writes wonderful, uplifting, entertaining books, but who also created this auction and keeps it going year after year.

So, let’s hear some from Brenda:

Brenda, the cover art on When Summer Comes is radiant. It reminds me of you! Were you happy with the cover?

Yes! Of the first three books in this series, this was definitely my favorite. When I look at the cover, I feel the warmth of the sun. I like that.

Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?

I had a very close girlfriend go through something similar to the heroine of this book just after college. She was young, beautiful, healthy—and then diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. We couldn’t believe it when we received the news that she would die without a transplant. She looked and acted as if she was fine. But slowly…the lack of a functioning liver started to take its toll. Luckily, my friend did receive a new liver (many thanks to the donor and the system that made this possible). It’s been ten years since then, and she’s just as beautiful now as she ever was—she’s also thriving, and that makes me so happy. I wanted to give Callie a wake-up call, something that would make her change her outlook on life and also be open to what she does for the hero.

Your natural style is my favorite thing about your books, well… besides how they always touch my heart. From listening to you in the past, I know that you are a “pantser” by which we Romance writers mean you “write by the seat of your pants” rather than “plotting” out every detail in advance. I think this adds to the appeal of your stories, because romance evolves naturally from the characters rather than feeling the author’s hand in the story. Did you ever try plotting everything, in the early days, or were you always a “pantser?”

Thank you! I did try plotting (or my version of it since I’m not even sure how). But I quickly ran into a debilitating problem. Trying to force the story in the direction I thought it should go resulted in a lack of emotional intensity. And if it was a suspense novel, I’d give away too much information (who the killer was, for instance). I guess, at heart, I’m a blabbermouth, because I couldn’t hold back. LOL So I finally realized I needed to let the characters speak for themselves and just go with it. I’m surprised that this method doesn’t require more re-writing than it does. I think my subconscious knows the end of the story before my conscious mind, and that helps direct me.

Brenda, you once told me the conflict is the engine that drives the book. When you come up with an idea for a book, do you think of the conflict first or do the conflicts come from the characters?

I definitely come up with the conflict first. The characters spin off of that (what kind of characters would be most interesting faced with such a problem—it’s usually someone who wouldn’t handle that problem well). And the plot grows out of the character. So it’s…one, two, three for me.

Those of us who participate in your auction know your youngest son, Thad, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was five. When did you have the idea for the auction and what gave you the idea for this particular fund-raising method?

I had the idea for the auction about eighteen months after he was diagnosed. He’s had diabetes for eleven years. I’ve been doing the auction for nine of them. I was a young mother, with a young career and no resources. I was searching for a way to get involved and fight back. But I couldn’t come up with anything that was plausible for me—until I attended a silent auction at his school. Then, as I was standing there looking around, it occurred to me that there had to be an easier way to raise funds than to try and get everyone to come out to a physical location all at once (and to feed them all!). That’s when the light bulb went on and I realized that I could use my website as the destination for a fundraiser where people could shop at their leisure.

Does the auction only offer items interesting to writers?

The auction offers all kinds of items—trips & stays, jewelry, handmade items, autographed items, Coach purses, antique or retro items, etc.

You have raised $1.6 million so far. What is your goal this year?

We are hoping to break the $2 million mark!

How many people help you with the administration of the auction?

I just have one part-time assistant and two wonderful and dedicated volunteers.

Here’s where you can find Brenda, the auction, When Summer Comes and all of the Whiskey Creek series books:

Compelling Yet Cozy, book review, When Snow Falls, by Brenda Novak

This book was my first Brenda Novak and it made me a fan, particularly of this series, as it helped through a challenging holiday season. When my real-life, nail-biter situation of two friends in the hospital woke me in the middle of the night, I read When Snow Falls under the covers with my flashlight (so as not to wake dear hubby). The combination is perfect:

  • Compelling page turner
  • Cozy white Christmas
  • Good and not-so-good but very realistic characters

I love Cheyenne. I feel like I would make every decision Chey makes and feel every feeling that Chey feels, if I were in her circumstances. One time, after she did something, she said, “That was so colossally stupid.” I love that line! I could see myself doing that very thing and then slapping my forehead and saying that.

There’s a juicy twist, partway in, that I didn’t see coming at all!

All that and a satisfying end. Who needs whiskey when you can have Whiskey Creek?

Erotic romance, the real deal… book (multiple) review, Marie Tuhart

Note: This blog post has links to books intended for audiences aged 18 years or older. It also has suggestive book cover photos. 

Anais Nin and Colette were this author’s big thrill in her early 20s. Plucking Colette off a bookcase in the basement of the famous City Lights Bookstore  ( in San Francisco, flipping through the pages, wondering how authors dared to write like that!

Erotic romance differs from Erotica. Erotica doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending. Erotic romance does. And a complete story line.

Marie Tuhart is a great introduction to this sub-genre. Her work is also awesome for readers who are already fans of this area of literature. These books are quite popular, meeting with very positive reviews.

Recommended reading order:

In Plain Sight


Quick Silver Ranch: Roped & Ready

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Quick Silver Ranch: Saddle Up


His For the Weekend


Hooked Up At The Wedding


Hooked Up The Game Plan

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Author website:

Not erotic romance, but… book review Desert Prince, Lynne Graham

Erotic romance is more… well, you know, if you’ve read any. If not, stay tuned. Some reviews are coming soon!

Desert Prince, Bride of Innocence, Harlequin Presents February, 2010

An older book, but still available on Kindle and in large print.

Very sexy and emotional.

Kindle version:

I won’t offer extracts here as their steaminess goes outside the bounds of not adult content, but this is classic romance, folks.


Can words be invisible? Book review, When Lightning Strikes, Brenda Novak

Yes, when the writer is Brenda Novak.


Writing so natural, you’ll be swept along without even realizing you’re reading.

Conflict so gripping, you’ll be flipping through the pages as fast as you can.

Believable characters you’ll love and root for.

An escape into a homey two-bedroom house in the California gold country.

A love story unfolding in a way you’ll feel is happening to you.

Moments like these to touch your heart:

But did he really want to fall back into his old lifestyle? What about the woman who’d made him happy to live in an eight-hundred-square-foot house and work as a carpenter?

When Lightning Strikes by Brenda NovakBN.COM