Romance and mysteries part of writer’s dream come true
By Robin Intemann
When author Jennie Marts only writes 2,500 words, she’s not pleased.
“That’s a sad day,” said the USA Today Bestselling author. She’s much happier when the daily count hits the 4,000-word mark.
Since 2012, she has published 24 books. Her first book took a year to write. “One year I wrote six books,” she said. “Last year I only wrote three.” Her drive is matched only by her enjoyment of pursuing her craft.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she explained. “When I turned 40, my kids were getting ready to leave to go to college and my husband went back and got his masters. I’d always had a life goal of writing so I got a notebook and started writing a book.”
While Marts makes it sound easy, she is also quick to note the commitment and self- discipline involved. Besides creating the content with characters, settings and dialogue, her time is spent keeping up her website and social media accounts, marketing, maintaining a newsletter for her 17,000 subscribers and attending book signings and conferences. But she’s not complaining: “I want this with my whole heart and soul.”
She is a self-described “hybrid author.” That is, she publishes independently and with a publisher. Of the former, she said, “I get to do all the fun stuff myself like the content, to the marketing, to the cover art.”
When working with her publisher, initially Entangled Books and Sourcebooks since 2018, she has greater time constraints and less overall control. Still, she appreciates having the ability for her books to be available through different options.
Marts said she has always enjoyed reading and her favorite genres have been mysteries, women’s fiction and romance. It’s no surprise these are the areas where she’s found success.
“I love Janet Evanovich and she, on her website, said if you want to write romance find a Romance Writers of America chapter near you and join it. And there happened to be one in town. If you write romance you belong to RWA. I went to a meeting here in town and found my tribe,” she said.
Marts credits RWA and nationally-recognized Pikes Peak Writers as playing roles in her success. At the 2013 PPW’s Conference she met Deb Werksman, editorial director for Sourcebooks, and pitched her proposal for a western-themed mystery romance. Marts said she and Werksman became friends but the story idea didn’t go anywhere – at least not then.
The indy-published “Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got No Body” was Marts first book. It’s been downloaded more 100,000 times in at least six countries, she said. It’s part of her Page Turners series of which there are seven books.
The story Marts pitched at the PPWC, “Tucked Away” was later picked up by Entangled Publishing. This was the first of her three-part Hearts of Montana series.
She said most of her books are set in Colorado or Montana and Kansas. “These are all places I’ve lived. I take my real life and put parts of it into my books. I’ve lived in small towns. I like the small town sense of community and friendships. I also like to include sassy women of maturity. They’ve lived life and I love them.”
Marts’ Bannister Brothers hockey-themed romance series is part of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. Her most recent series is the Cowboys of Creedence. These are published by Sourcebooks and are available as digital downloads. Her books are also sold as mass market paperbacks and are available at Walmart, many grocery stores and online.
“Even though I met Deb all those years ago I had to learn a lot before I was ready to work with her,” Marts said. “I had to learn to be edited, I had to learn to take direction from an editor, I had to learn what galley proofs were, I had to learn my craft more. With ‘Caught Up in a Cowboy’ I was finally ready.”
When she isn’t writing, Marts works part time as a banker, something she has done for nearly 25 years. She’s received several writing accolades including the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence for Romantic Suspense in 2016 for “Tangled Up in Tuesday.”
Marts is a successful romance and mystery writer, but said romance novels get an undeserved bad rap. “This is a woman-driven industry where women help and nurture each, which is different from other genres. Romance novels are just stories about love. The story is always centered on a hero and heroine’s journey and it must have a happy ending,” she said. There’s also always a dog and a lot of humor.
The formula is what appeals to Marts’ fan base, many of whom text, email and visit with her at conferences and book signing events. Marts said she enjoys this and every aspect associated with writing.
“It’s super fun. I am always thinking about the book.”