Marcia James, author of hot, humorous romances

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The James Gang


June James Gang Interview

Each month, I interview authors or publishing insiders who have some form of “James” in their names or in their books. My June James Gang interviewee, author Sherry Hartzler, has a character perfect for the James Gang!

1. Let’s get the most important question asked first: Why James?

How I came up with Kate James as my protagonist’s name is kind of a funny story. Originally, Kate was not Kate James, but Jessica James. In writing the beginning chapters of Chasing Joe, I thought it would be cute to have a character named Jesse James. As the first draft became a second and third draft, the “cutesy” Jesse James was getting on my nerves. So, I changed Jesse’s name to Kate and kept the last name of James. Kate is a good, strong character name. When you say it out loud, it sounds firm and gritty, a no-nonsense name that fits my character. Thus, Kate James became my heroine in Chasing Joe.

2. Tell us about your book.

Chasing Joe

For Phoenix attorney Kate James, an out-of-town assignment at a trading post near the Hopi Indian reservation is inconvenient at best. However, Kate’s journey into the rugged terrain of northeastern Arizona may just hold the healing powers to transform her fractured world. Chasing Joe celebrates the endless possibilities for hope, forgiveness, and new love that are always within the grasp of everyday life.

When her husband’s life is tragically cut short, Kate is left to pick up the pieces with their twenty-year-old daughter Shelby, and carry on at her father-in-law Myron’s law firm. As fate would have it, Kate has been charged with heading out in search of an elderly Hopi Indian named Joe Morewater to secure his signature on the acceptance of a ten million dollar inheritance. With her best friend Charlene “Charlie” Russell, she takes to the road and soon finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the Hopi community. At the same time, Morewater’s son Gage proves to have a surprisingly strong impact on her.

As her circumstances coax Kate out of her state of grief, she opens her world to the glimmers of new beginnings. A heartwarming story of hope and survival, Chasing Joe is certain to uplift anyone who relishes a well-spun story that celebrates the awakening of the human spirit.

3. How do you market your book?

I published Chasing Joe in November 2013, through CreateSpace, a subsidiary of I then enrolled in the Kindle Direct Publishing, which gives me one choice of two promo options each quarter for my ebooks. My marketing strategy is...well, I really don’t have one, other than to take what’s “free” on the Internet. In other words, I blog, blog, and blog, knowing that each blog post goes into all the search engines. is my Books For Women blog, wherein I post information about not only my own books, but postings about authors that have influenced me throughout my life. My favorite blog post is Cross Creek - A Trip Back In Time, about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of The Yearling. What can I say about this fabulous woman? She was gutsy and down-to-earth, and yet, Marjorie could hold her own with the likes of Ernest Hemmingway and Margaret Mitchell. Remember this: Marjorie Rawlings and Margaret Mitchell were born before woman gained the vote in 1920 with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. is my Log Cabin Journal blog about my life and living in a log cabin built entirely by my husband. We live frugally and simply, and my purpose in my log cabin journal blog is to let readers know me as a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and writer. Also, it’s a great way to archive photos on the Internet, do some journaling, and keep in touch with family and friends. is a group of writers that I blog with on a monthly basis. I really have a great time reading other writers’ blog posts and contributing my own posts with these amazing writers. By reading and sharing their blog posts, I, in turn, am shared on their Facebook pages. It is both a method of staying in touch with other writers and book promotion, too.

As you can see, marketing my books is pretty much taking advantage of “free space” on the Internet, i.e. blogging and blogging and blogging. My goal is to have a reader know me as a person, as well as an author. After all, women’s fiction is about bonding with your reader, a getting-to-know-you-moment.

4. Is there a core story and/or a theme(s) in your books?

Definitely, yes. I am always fascinated by strong women put into bad situations. I’m also drawn to best friend stories, women who have known each other for many years, the secrets they’ve shared, how they react, how they survive when the black moment forces them to change in attitude, latitude, and fortitude. Most importantly, my protagonists are over the age of forty, women who have loved and lost, either by an early death or divorce, women who have been-there-done-that and are ready to take on new chapters in their lives. My heroes are also strong, mature characters who have the good sense to stand behind the heroines and let their women find strength and individuality on their own. The core of my stories are always hope, forgiveness, and new beginnings.

5. Do you have a favorite hero and/or heroine in your books and why?

Hands down, in Chasing Joe, my favorite character/hero is Joe Morewater, the Hopi Indian to whom Kate James tries to give a ten million dollar bequest to from a deceased client. I love Joe, just love him. Joe has the uncanny ability to see beyond human flaws and look into the trueness of a person’s heart. But Joe is not without his own human failing: Unforgiveness. While my heroine, Kate, falls in love with Joe’s son, it is the dynamics between Kate and Joe that bring about the healing in their lives.

6. What do you enjoy most about being an author?

An author is like being given a pair of magic wings that will let you fly as high and as far as you want, no boundaries, no constraints, just freedom. All you have to do is just open your mind and feel the creation flow. My happiest moment in writing is to begin a new story and knowing all the possibilities it holds.

7. Are you a character-driven author or a plot-driven author?

Definitely, I’m a character-driven author. To me, characters write a story. I give my protagonist unsettling situations, and then write their journey. In Chasing Joe, Kate has lost her husband. In dealing with his death, she buries herself in her work as an attorney, shutting out family and friends and her own emotions. When given the task of getting a signed acceptance of a client’s bequest, only then does Kate face up to her own guilt in her husband’s death, and she begins a gentle healing of her own spirit.

8. Do you have a favorite place to write and/or time of the day to write?

When I first begin a story, I usually pick a spot somewhere in the house other than my office. I might sit on the porch or at the kitchen table while baking bread. Imagination, to me, flowers with putting myself in a place where I can see nature or doing something fulfilling like making a loaf of bread (a very meditative process). I suppose it’s the process of emptying the mind and letting the imagination wander to that special little place where authors get their stories.

When I get to the second or third drafts, I’m at the computer in my office, because the creation of story is done and now it’s time to scrutinize chapters, scenes, characters, and dialogue. It’s intense work, and by sitting at my desk, I treat it like work. Creating is fun, editing is the difficult part. Someone once told me, “Anybody can write a story.” Immediately, my blood began to do a slow boil. I wanted to come back at him, argue with him that he was so wrong. Instead, I kind of thought about it for a while and decided that what he said was right. Anybody can write a story, just like anybody can take a lump of clay, play with it for a while, and then call it art. Writing, to an author, is a process of taking apart a first draft of a story piece by piece and rearranging, organizing, and constantly thinking about it even when I’m not sitting at the desk working on the story.

9. What inspires you and where do your story ideas come from?

My ideas might come from fragments of conversations heard at the grocery store, a social occasion, or something said on the evening news. My stories all deal with ordinary situations that I attempt to mold into stories that most women can identify with, especially women over the age of forty. My stories all come from the hearts of women. I especially love writing “best friend” novels, women who share secrets.

10. Do you have a bit of wisdom you’d like to impart or a favorite quote?

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you did not do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -- Mark Twain


Thank you, Sherry! My July James Gang interviewee will be multi-published author, Kendra James!

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