An Interview with Mara Jacobs

Help me welcome Mara Jacobs to my blog today. Mara has generously offered to give away 3 ebook copies of her book to 3 commentors so be sure and leave her a comment.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write 2 series that are romantic mystery series, as well as contemporary romance. I like my happy endings!

Tell us about your current series.

The Worth Series is a contemporary romance series featuring three life-long girlfriends who are now in their mid-thirties. Subtitles are The Nice One, The Pretty One, and The Smart One. Each woman was pegged with their title in school and in some ways it has shaped the women they’ve become —and yet they’re so much more.

What inspired your latest book?

Worth the Drive, the second Worth book, was totally inspired by my long-time crush on professional golfer Jose Maria Olazabal. Very fun to play out that fantasy!

How much time do you spend promoting your books? What works best for you?

This is very new to me—I just debuted with my indie books in October—so I’m still feeling out what works. I’ve done some ads, some blogs, and the usual social media outlets. I truly believe that the best promotion is getting the next book out, so I’ve really tried to concentrate on spending my time writing.

How has your experience with self-publishing been?

So far, so good. My agency, Writers House, was offering the expertise of a self-publishing service to their authors if they were interested. I decided to do my first 3 books through them, and my 3 Worth books myself so I could compare and contrast the experiences. I’ve found pros and cons to both venues—timing and control being a pro of doing it all yourself. And of course the time taken away from writing by doing it all yourself (or hiring those to do things like formatting, cover art for you) is a major con. It’s been an interesting process and I learn something new about it all everyday.

What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Weigh out time vs. money when deciding what to do yourself and what to hire out. Is it time that would serve you better in the long run by writing the next book instead of spending time learning to format, etc? Having said that, I do believe you HAVE to get professional looking covers and editing done from an outside source unless you have strong graphic design skills.

Do you have critique partners?

Yes, and they have been instrumental in my continuing to write. They are both very different (and awesome!) writers and bring different things to the table on the critiques they do. Hopefully I do the same for them. One of our three-some is multi-published with the major houses as well as self-published and a great wealth of information on the publishing industry.

What is your favorite dessert/food?

Red Velvet Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory. Thank God I don’t have one near me!

What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?

Probably conflict, because I honestly believe that we’re sometimes our own biggest conflict. Internal conflict, to me, is more human that outside conflict – at least in contemporary times. And yet, a book with ONLY internal conflict may not be everybody’s cup of tea. So, the hard part for me is balancing internal conflict (which is easy for me) with external conflict (which is not so easy).

Give us an elevator pitch for your book.

For Worth The Weight: Woman loses half her body weight and heads to her hometown to try out her new body on an old flame.

What are you currently working on?

The third Worth book, Worth The Fall, is just wrapping up and I’ll have it out right around Christmas.


“God, I love the smell of theater popcorn, there’s nothing else like it.”

Finn Robbins heard the female voice from behind him. He couldn’t say the same. The smell of fresh popcorn made him sick. It seemed the aroma stayed with him wherever he was, the buttery stuff burning into his nose with every breath. It was enough to make him puke.

It’d been okay when he’d worked here years ago, but this time around it was too much. Everything was too much.

Something about the voice made him turn. Three women stood at the concession stand counter, one of the new high school kids waiting on them. Finn had his head buried, connecting a new Coke tank. The old tank had just died, spraying Coke all over his white shirt. Just another sign that the universe was having a good laugh at him.

He checked out the women. Mostly all he saw were packs of kids and couples at the theater. It was refreshing to see a group of thirty-something women together. The two he could see were striking, but in very different ways. Completely opposite in looks. The first was tall and Nordic looking, and strikingly beautiful. A Viking princess. The other was all soft curves, darker skin and hair, but still blonde. A dark Finlander and a light Finlander, the two mainstays of the Copper Country.

There was something a little familiar about them. Maybe they came to the theaters often? He dismissed that. He’d have definitely remembered the Viking.

The woman behind the two got her order and turned, allowing Finn to see only a flash of long black hair ending just above a wonderfully lush butt. He tried craning his neck, but from where he stood he couldn’t get a clear view of her.

Those damn high school kids were too fast. They had the women’s orders done before Finn had a chance to get out from behind the counter and get a proper look. He wanted to figure out where he knew the two from, and definitely wanted to see the third.

There was something about that voice. Maybe he could catch a glimpse of them after the movie as they left the theater.

Lizzie Hampton couldn’t concentrate on the movie, which was unusual. She, Katie and Alison had been seeing movies at the Mine Shaft together since sixth grade when they were finally allowed to go without parental supervision.

One parent would drop the three girls off in downtown Houghton. They would see the movie, then cross the street to the Big Boy for a hot fudge ice cream cake. One of the other girls’ parents would pick them up in front of the Big Boy exactly one and one-half hours after the movie was scheduled to get out. In that time, the girls would dissect the movie while plying themselves with the decadent dessert.

Over time, the girls’ critiques of the movies went from “isn’t he dreamy” to “the use of the wide angle lens by the director was really effective.” Although isn’t he dreamy never really went out of style. They had progressed from parents’ pick up and delivery service, to being old enough to walk on their own, to driving their parents’ cars, to driving their own.

Now they were back to walking across the bridge from Hancock to Houghton, but this time for the exercise. The Big Boy had long closed down, but Lizzie fully expected the Pavlovian response of craving hot fudge the moment the credits rolled.

Except tonight, she wasn’t immersed in the movie. “He didn’t even know me. Not a flicker of recognition,” she said out loud, as much to herself as her friends.

“SSSHHHHH,” came a voice from behind them.

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After graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in advertising, Mara spent several years working at daily newspapers in Advertising sales and production. This certainly prepared her for the world of deadlines!

Most authors say they’ve been writing forever. Not so with Mara. She always had the stories, but they played like movies in her head. A few years ago she began transferring the movies to pages. She writes mysteries with romance, thrillers with romance, and romances with…well, you get it.

Forever a Yooper (someone who hails from Michigan’s glorious Upper Peninsula), Mara now resides in the East Lansing, Michigan, area where she is better able to root on her beloved Spartans.

11 thoughts on “An Interview with Mara Jacobs

  1. Hi! Saw Mara was visiting here and had to pop over. Great interview! The brave new world of Indie publishing is both exciting and perplexing. As one of Mara’s writing partners, I get to learn along with her. Aside from being a great writer, Mara is also gifted with a great eye for design. I LOVE the covers she’s worked on.
    Nice website, Cynthia. I’m a sci-fi fan from way back.

  2. Hi Mara,
    Thanks for the informative post. I LOVE the cover for WORTH THE WEIGHT. When I read the part in your interview that you decided to self-publish some of your books and let Writers House do the others, I was sure you didn’t self-pub WORTH THE WEIGHT because the cover is so great. Ha! Shows how much I know. Also, glad to know someone else writing contemporary has a challenge with external conflict. And finally, I too have degree in advertising from a Big Ten school–in fact, Northwestern plays Michigan State today (go Wildcats–sorry!). Thank you again for this post!

  3. Colette,
    I passed up the chance to go to the game today to work on the 3rd Worth book, but have it on as I type. (NW just scored – bah!)

    You were obviously one I mentioned as a factor in my continuing writing.Thanks for stopping in to comment. Now get back to writing!

    To those who mentioned the covers – thanks!
    I had them all professionally done, but the Worth ones I have a particular fondness for – having found the stock art for and doing the initial mock-up myself before sending it on to the professionals for finishing touches.

  4. I really want to read the “Worth” books. What an interesting idea. Love the plays on meanings that you use! That must take a lot of brainstorming but the concept to use certain hook words for each trilogy or series is clever. Nice!

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