Writer Wednesday: Meet Marliss Melton

Marliss MeltonIt’s with great pleasure and pride I bring you Marliss Melton as our guest today on #WriterWednesday. Marliss is a fellow romance-writing Virginian (specializing in military romance), whom I was privileged to meet in person at the Charlottesville Festival of the Book in March – and she definitely impressed me with her explanations of how thoroughly she crafts her characters (Myers-Briggs and other personality guides play a large role!). She writes some seriously kick-ass heroes and heroines, y’all.

I hope you enjoy this chance to get to know Marliss and her work a little better – and feel free to show her some love in the comments!

What inspires you to write? 

Navy SEAL medal and dog tags.

Reading biographies and autobiographies written by U.S. Navy SEALs inspires me to write military romantic suspense.

Books like LONE SURVIVOR, SERVICE, AMERICAN SNIPER, and THE INTUITIVE WARRIOR have not only familiarized me with military tactics and jargon but they’ve given rise to my fictional heroes.

Back 2005, before LONE SURVIVOR was ever released, I had read a newspaper article about the sole surviving SEAL of an operation-gone-wrong, and that article alone inspired my fictional account of such a SEAL. NEXT TO DIE was published two years later, the same month and year as LONE SURVIVOR, by the same umbrella publisher! I was honored to present the real SEAL with a copy of my book, and Marcus Luttrell signed copy of his book for me!

Which type of romance do you love most and why?

Man in military uniformIt’s got to be obvious that I love military romance. There’s just something about a man in uniform—especially one who can run longer, swim deeper, and kill a bad guy a hundred different ways.

Having grown up in the military environment and married both an Army officer and a Navy man, I understand what it takes to commit to a man who risks his life for the sake of his country.

But I bet you didn’t know that I also write medieval historical romance. The precursors to Navy SEALs were the warriors of old, so I’m also quite content reading sweeping historical romances set in the Middle Ages.

Name one interesting thing you learned in researching/writing your last book.

Cover of Intuitive WarriorMy upcoming release, FRIENDLY FIRE, debuting May 13, 2016, was inspired by the autobiography THE INTUITIVE WARRIOR, by Michael Jaco.

I was astonished to discover that Navy SEALs have adopted a special skill used by American Indians called “remote viewing.” This skill involves tapping into one’s intuition in order to envision with accuracy the path on which one travels. SEALs, of course, want to develop this skill in order to avoid walking into an enemy ambush.

Michael Jaco has refined his intuitive abilities to such a degree that he can “see” miles ahead of his location, as well as sense an imminent terror attack in time to avoid or disrupt it. How cool is that? It’s no wonder he inspired my upcoming hero of FRIENDLY FIRE.

Cover of Friendly FireA Bit on FRIENDLY FIRE (coming May 13, 2016):

Boarding a cruise ship bound for Mexico, Jeremiah “Bullfrog” Winters is struck by a terrifying premonition. At the same time, he runs into the only woman he has ever loved and lost.

Emma Albright might still teach Romantic Lit, but life has taught her there’s no such thing as everlasting love. While she made a promise to enjoy her vacation, she has no intention of falling for the younger man who captivated her years earlier.

Persuading Emma to love again becomes Jeremiah’s newest mission. But when violence disrupts their magical vacation, wooing her takes a back seat to survival. Love may be the only weapon powerful enough to save them, if only Emma can bring herself to believe in it. 

Cover of Next to DieBuy Links for Marliss Melton’s Books:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Marliss+Melton+books
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Marliss+Melton?_requestid=178397
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=Marliss+Melton
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=hard%20landing%20marliss%20melton&c=books&hl=en
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/hard-landing-echo-platoon/id980911097?mt=11

A Bit on Marliss:

Pen in handMarliss Melton is the author of two very disparate genres—medieval historical romance and military romantic suspense. Yet she creates in both a common theme: Men of Valor, Women of Strength.

Daughter of a U.S. foreign officer, Marliss grew up in various countries overseas. Exposure to different languages led her to teach high school English, Spanish, and—her favorite subject—History of the English Language which she taught at the College of William and Mary, her alma mater.

Marrying into the military, Marliss Melton’s love of British history existed side-by-side with her appreciation for the selfless sacrifices of the military community. With many contacts in the military and Intelligence communities, she was well-equipped to write realistic romantic suspense featuring U.S. Navy SEALs and agency heroes.

Marliss resides in Williamsburg, Virginia with her husband and their youngest daughter. Be sure to “friend” her on Facebook! Visit www.marlissmelton.com for more information.

 Thank you so much for giving us some of your time today, Marliss! It was a pleasure. 

#VaLoveFest 2016 at the Virginia Festival of the Book

With the fabulous Eloisa James! Squee!

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the #VaLoveFest panels at the Virginia Festival of the Book, but couldn’t post until now because of an editing deadline. #AuthorProblems.

If you’ve never been to #VaLoveFest, mark your calendars for the next one (March 2017), because WOW do you ever get to see big names (Eloisa James and Maya Rodale, anyone?) and hear amazing insights into all aspects of romance.

Here are a few pictures and quick summaries from each session, for those not able to attend.

Panel 1: Series Writing: For Women, by Women, with Betsy Ashton, Ellen Butler, Avery Flynn, and Tracey Livesay

L to R: Avery Flynn, Betsy Ashton, Ellen Butler, panel moderator Kim Dalferes , and Tracey Livesay
L to R: Avery Flynn, Betsy Ashton, Ellen Butler, panel moderator Kim Dalferes, and Tracey Livesay.

Tracey Livesay on how she plans out a series (or doesn’t):

Betsy Ashton takes a highly organized approach:

Avery Flynn affirmed:

Ellen Butler sometimes writes more in a series because:

These women shared great insights about the joys and trials of series writing. And Avery Flynn summed up how many a writer feels upon completing a book with this gem:

Panel 2: It’s Raining Men, with Grace Burrowes, Cristin Harber, and Marliss Melton

Back row: Panel moderator Kimberly Kincaid and Grace Burrowes. Front row: Cristin Harber and Marliss Melton.

Grace Burrowes nailed the description of a romance novel hero:

And how does a romance author craft the perfect hero? Marliss Melton had this great tip:

Though we were talking men, it’s true every hero needs a heroine. So how does an author choose? Here’s what Cristin Harber had to say:

At the end of the panel, I think authors and audience agreed with Grace Burrowes‘ statement:

Panel 3: Screening of Romance Industry Documentary Love Between the Covers, followed by a talk with Eloisa James and Maya Rodale

Eloisa James and Maya Rodale talk the state of the romance industry following a screening of Love Between the Covers
Eloisa James and Maya Rodale talk the state of the romance industry following a screening of Love Between the Covers.

If you haven’t yet seen Love Between the CoversI highly recommend you seek out a screening. It’s a fabulous inside look at the romance industry; a celebration of a genre written largely for women, about women, and by women (though with male readership at 16% and rising, and an increase in gay romance, we’re not without our male counterparts!).

Both Eloisa and Maya agreed:

and that:

After the documentary, Eloisa and Maya graciously signed books, and I snapped a picture of Regency Royalty:

L to R: Regency romance authors Eloisa James, Joanna Bourne, Maya Rodale, Grace Burrowes, and #VaLoveFest organizer and Regency romance author, Sue London
L to R: Regency romance authors Eloisa James, Joanna Bourne, Maya Rodale, Grace Burrowes, and #VaLoveFest organizer and Regency romance author, Sue London.

Panel 4: Getting Published With Women’s Fiction & Romance, with Jenny Gardiner, Tracee Garner, and Linda Grimes

Tracee Garner, Linda Grimes, and Jenny Gardiner
L to R: Tracee Garner, Linda Grimes, and Jenny Gardiner.

Sunday, we turned our focus even more to the business side of books, discussing paths to publication in women’s fiction and romance.

Tracee Garner encouraged us:

Indie author Jenny Gardiner shared lots of great insight, including:

Traditionally-published author Linda Grimes acknowledged:

Regardless of which path one chooses, all three authors agreed:



We capped off the day with a Crime Wave and Romance Group Book Signing at Barnes & Noble. It was a marvelous weekend!


Thank you so much to all of the authors and panel moderators who gave so generously of their time, energy, and knowledge.

Thank you to #VaLoveFest organizer Sue London, for making it all happen.

And thank you to the Virginia Festival of the Book, for including us in the celebration of authors, readers, craft, and basically all things book!

With the charming Maya Rodale!
With the charming Maya Rodale!