Monday, February 6, 2012

Interview with Harlequin Medical Romance author Wendy S. Marcus

Good Morning everyone! Looks like Groundhog Phil saw his shadow and we're in for six more weeks of winter. What better excuse to curl up on a sofa with a romance novel? Well, grab a mug of hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows) and help me welcome Harlequin Medical Romance author Wendy S. Marcus. Never mind Phil's shadow and the extra six weeks of cold, Wendy's books will keep you warm all winter.

Hi Rula! Thank you so much for having me at your blog today. You sure did your research! Great questions!

Thanks, Wendy. It's all in the great answers, so on with the interview :)

1. Many authors worry about suffering from second book syndrome, but it’s safe to say you're in the clear. After your first book in the Madrin Memorial Hospital series, When One Night Isn't Enough, garnered a 4 star RT Book Review, I'd call your second book, Once A Good Girl, success on steroids! It recently earned 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews and an extraordinary write-up including this..."The story challenges the guidelines of a Harlequin Medical Romance in an excellent way....readers will not be able to resist the rising tension that builds to a crescendo." Wow! Congratulations, Wendy! For many writers, especially those trying to break into category romance, pushing the envelope is a terrifying notion. One where a writer is never quite sure if they've struck a balance between being original and venturing too far outside the box. Along these lines, what advice can you give writers hoping to break into the category market?

Thank you for your kind words! Success on steroids…. I like it! I think the most important thing for a new writer is writing with your own, unique voice and style while staying within the requirements of the category line you want to write for ie. word count, heat level, and for certain lines technical elements such as medical elements for medical romance. Harlequin and Mills and Boon have excellent guidelines and help for new writers on their websites.

2. I'm amazed by how many romance writers (myself included) have/had left brained careers. Sometimes our left brained colleagues don't understand the switch in gears, but I'm a firm believer that one life/one career is an archaic idea and, much like brainstorming a story, our later choices can be better fits. I also believe that no career or experience is wasted. Think of it as hard core research ;). You earned both a nursing degree and a master's in health care administration...and may I add a doctorate in motherhood? All mom's deserve that one :). In writing for Harlequin Medical, you've formed a natural bridge for your experience. However, having seen the nitty gritty details of health care, do you ever struggle to find romantic inspiration in it all? Have your past colleagues read your books and given you 'feedback'?

For me, writing medical romance is actually quite difficult. As a nurse, I have to be very careful not to get too technical or realistic in some scenes. If I use too much medical speak or expose too much gore, I will pull the reader out of a scene. And that’s the last thing I want to do. To find romantic inspiration I must focus on my characters and their emotional responses to the medical situations they are faced with and the staff they work with as opposed to focusing on the medical conditions and treatments themselves. And with regard to past colleagues reading my books, I have heard from a few who said they liked them.

3. While we're on the topic of new careers, tell us your Call story that started it all!

Well, I entered a medical romance pitch contest back in 2010 just like the one Harlequin is running now.Find information here: I was one of five winners, along with fellow medical romance author Scarlet Wilson, and I was assigned my wonderful editor Flo Nicoll who agreed to work with me to see if I could turn my manuscript into a saleable medical romance novel. And it took A LOT of work! But after six long months of revisions, during which I basically re-wrote my manuscript…twice, I received ‘The Call’ in October 2010. First my then agent called with the news that Mills and Boon wanted to make me an offer. Then Flo called me from England! I don’t remember one word of the conversation. Luckily she sent me a summary e-mail afterwards!

4. I love your book covers and the way they focus on your heroines. I have to say that the model on the US cover of Once A Good Girl looks like Julia Ormond...and her expression says it all. Although many Harlequin books end up with overseas editions, for Medicals it's part of the routine. For every book you have out, there are multiple release dates and different covers. Has that posed any marketing challenges for you? Any advice for streamlining marketing in a situation like that?

Now that you mention it, I agree! The model on the U.S. cover does look like Julia Ormond! And as much as I like my Mills and Boon book covers, I would love a really steamy sexy cover. One day! As far as multiple covers and release dates, it does get a bit tricky. But if you look at the Books page on my website:, I display the book covers for all my English language books with links for purchase. I’m thinking about adding an international page for my French and other language translations.

To give you an idea how release dates work, my current book, Once a Good Girl…, went out to UK medical romance subscription holders in October, up on the Mills and Boon UK website in November, on store shelves in UK and Mills and Boon Aus website in December, store shelves in Aus/NZ and in U.S. in January, and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble U.S. in February. That’s a lot of promo time! I dealt with this by scheduling promo for January, when my books were either available for purchase or pre-order in all markets.

5. Book 3 in your Madrin Memorial Hospital series, A Nurse's Not So Secret Scandal, comes out this spring (April 2012 UK/May 2012 US-AUS-NZ). It's the last in this series, but you recently completed your fourth book. Any hints? Different hospital? Different town? Your fans want to know!

My fourth and fifth books are a two story continuity that will come out as a 2in1 in the UK, involving two nurses who are twins. I just sent my revisions on #4 to my editor and I haven’t yet started work on #5, but I have plenty of ideas percolating! Book #4 centers around Jaci who works as a community health nurse and women’s crisis center advocate.

6. Now don't take this the wrong way, but you're one funny person :) I love your sense of humor, and humor is definitely the magic pill to get through motherhood and life's general ups and downs. The title for one of the blogs you take part in, ,  made me laugh. Does writing with kids underfoot get any easier as they get older, or do the challenges and distractions just change? What was one of your funniest and/or most embarrassing experiences as a mother, nurse or writer?

Thank you for mentioning 4badmommies! It’s a project near and dear to my heart. Our mission is to create a safe, compassionate place where moms can share their failures as well as their successes. Because sometimes we may feel like bad mommies; it doesn't mean we are.

I’ve been working from my home office for over fifteen years. It pains me to say that when my children were little, they watched a lot of television on the days I didn’t send them to daycare. And during those times, when I heard little feet pitter pattering in my direction while I was on an important call with an attorney or doctor, I have been known to place the call on hold and scream like a crazy woman, “Unless you’re choking or bleeding you’d better not come into my office right now!” I must point out, that worked a lot better when they were little. Now they come into my office whenever they please, because for teenagers, their problems are always more important than what I’m doing! Regardless of the challenges I faced working full time and raising three children, I’m proud to say I wound up with three great, well adjusted, respectful (most of the time) children! Oh, and I’m sure my husband played some small part in that, too!

7. To add to your honors, you were chosen to be the Mills and Boon New Voices Contest author mentor of 2011. Let's pretend you're mentoring every unpublished writer out there. Other than not quitting, what's the single most important advice you could give us?

Don’t write the first thing that comes to mind. Or the second.They are usually overused or cliché. Make your writing fresh and unique. (I can’t take credit for this. It’s something I read when I was a new writer myself. And boy am I glad I did!)

8. And now for some fun. What's your favorite deadline crunch time snack, and do you have any quirky writing rituals?

As a new writer I gave myself incentives for meeting my daily word counts. Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate with Almonds Nuggets. YUM! Unfortunately, since publication they’ve become a daily treat regardless of my word count. I rationalize this by telling myself dark chocolate and almonds are good for me! As far as quirky rituals, when I am deep in the zone and the words are flowing and I’m getting down to the wire on a deadline, I wake up, roll out of bed and go straight to the computer. I work on and off all day and night. And I don’t shower. Granted, I can only do this when I don’t have a reason to leave the house. And regardless, three days without a shower is my limit!

9. Coffee or tea? Beach or mountains? Denim, leather, or sweats?

I prefer decaf coffee with a shot of Baileys. I love listening to the waves at the beach. I’m most comfortable in sweats, but I usually wear denim, and I like my men in leather! (Don’t tell my husband!)

And now I’ll throw a question out to you visitors. Which of my book covers is your favorite? You can find them on my website: on my Books Page and my Coming Soon Page. While you’re there check out the excerpts. If you see something you like, click on the purchase links.

GIVEAWAY: One of today’s commenters will win a 2in1 UK copy of Once a Good Girl… which includes a complete novel by Alison Roberts. The winner will be announced here this Thursday, February 13th.

BLURB: Once A Good Girl

Prim Victoria Forley’s perfect life changed forever the night she slept with Kyle Karlinsky, baddest boy in town. These days, single mum and uber-perfectionist nurse Victoria has goals that nothing – not even Kyle’s shocking reappearance! – can derail. But behind Victoria’s oh-so-frosty exterior is a heat that only Kyle can unleash… maybe it’s the right time to be with the wrong guy after all?

Barnes and Noble


  1. Hi Wendy and Hello Rula!

    Wow! Rula girl, you ask some awesome questions! I got to know Wendy so much more from her answers here! Thank you Rula!

    Wendy all your covers are fantastic! I love them all! Have you got all displayed somewhere?

  2. All your covers are fabulous, Wendy! But if I have to choose just one, I'd say the one with a hot hero . . .

  3. Hi Nas!
    All my covers are posted on my website on my Books and Coming Soon Pages.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hi Aimee!
    I long for the day I can have a hot, sexy cover!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hi, Wendy and Rula!

    Love your writing advice, Wendy!

  6. Nas - Hey! Thanks so much :) It has been fun getting to know Wendy better.

    Hi Aimee and Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by.

    Wendy - All your covers are beautiful, but I'd say the U.S. covers are my faves...with the 'Julia Ormond' one at the top ;)

  7. Hi Jennifer!
    Thanks! And thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi Rula!
    I think the U.S. cover for Once a Good Girl... comes closest to portraying the heroine of the story.

    Thanks for having me here today!

  9. Hi Wendy!

    Great to "meet" you once again :) I love almonds in hershey's, but not the dark chocolate variety :p

    Though I don't have any kids, I sometimes get annoyed with DH, especially when he acts the kid - being perpetually hungry, and only when I'm in my writing mood / zone :) I can't even imagine how you managed (still managing, that is! :) Hat's off...

    And six months of edits? OMG! I am only on month 4 and I'm ready to tear my hair off........

  10. Hi, Rula & Wendy,

    I know how challenging it can be trying to write when you have little children. Like yours, my son interrupts me and then guilts me if I look as though he's being a nuisance. Take dedication to keep going when you want to quit. Wishing you continued success with all your releases.

  11. Hi Ju!
    During the 6 months of revisions there were times I wanted to give up, when I thought if I haven't gotten it right by now I never will. But with the support of good friends, especially Aimee Carson who commented above, who was going through the same difficult revisions for the same amount of time with the same editor, I got through it! And so will you. The key is to never give up. The editor saw something in you...the talent is there. You can do it!

    Good luck! And I can't wait to read the finished product!!!!

  12. Hi J.L.!
    It takes a deep dedication and a love of writing to make it to the publication stage. There is so much you need to get through to make it. I am blessed that my husband and children have supported my pursuit since it began....well, as long as I do everything I need to do for them!!! But they are wonderful in not expecting me to cook every night.... Ya know, I wonder if I should take offence to that?

    Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Bailey's, the beach, and leather. I see nothing wrong.

  14. Hi Carol!
    It's all good...right?

    Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Hi Ju! I agree...husbands can be big kids lol.

    Hi J.L.! I have 3 kids and it's tough. They always get needy when I'm busy writing. It's like the telephone thing...

    Hey Carol! Nothing wrong at all LOL!

  16. Thank you to everyone for stopping by to visit me!

    The winner of my free book is....

    Carol Kilgore!

    Please e-mail me at Wendy @ with your mailing address and I'll mail a copy of Once a Good Girl... to you by the end of the week.