Saturday, November 29, 2014

Straight From the Mouth of Mary-Lou Stephens, author of 'How to Stay Married'

Mary-Lou Stephens studied acting and played in bands before she got a proper job -in radio. She writes whenever she's not behind the microphone or heading off to a meditation retreat.

Mary-Lou has garnered rave reviews for her memoir Sex, Drugs and Meditation, the true story of how she changed her life, saved her job and found a husband, all with the help of meditation. She lives in Australia with that very same husband, their dog and a hive of killer native bees. 

How To Stay Married is the sequel to Sex, Drugs and Meditation and is the truth behind the happy ending.

Mary-Lou is a blogger for The Huffington Post, a columnist for Holistic Bliss and a regular at writing festivals and events.

Visit Mary-Lou’s website at

About the Book

Title: How to Stay Married
Author: Mary-Lou Stephens
Nelson Bay
Pages: 203
Genre: Self-Help/Relationships/Love and Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Do you dream of finding the right person to spend your life with? Are you in a strong relationship already and want to keep it that way? Or perhaps your marriage is a little tarnished and you hope to make it shine again? 

You’ve come to the right place. While How to Stay Married isn’t your regular ‘how-to’ book, it is about creating the kind of relationship you want. 

This is the story of a marriage; a journey from fear, resentment and financial devastation, to a place of love, joy and trust. 

Mary-Lou Stephen’s first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation chronicled how meditation changed her life, saved her job and helped her find a husband. How To Stay Married, is the truth behind the happy ending. 

How to Stay Married takes us around the world; from the glitter and glare of Las Vegas to the sub-zero temperatures of the French Alps and the tropical heat of Thailand, all with cabin luggage only. 

The discoveries Mary-Lou makes regarding herself and her marriage are a modern day parable about learning to travel light in life, love and relationships.

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I never intended to be an author. I wanted to be a famous singer/songwriter. I played in bands for years, touring and releasing CDs. I didn’t think about writing prose until about 12 years ago when I went on an overseas holiday and came back with a few out of focus photos taken on a disposable camera. A friend said “Clearly photography’s not your thing. Why don’t you write about your holiday instead?” So I did and I’ve been writing ever since.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

There are times, I must admit, when I wished I wasn’t driven to write. I have a full-time, full-on job in radio so I squeeze my writing in around it. That means pretty much no social life. My husband relaxes on his days off while I’m glued to my laptop. But there’s something in me that needs to create, that needs to be expressed and will not be denied. And when the muse is in full flight I feel as though creation is flowing through me. It’s a sensation like no other. And then to hold that creation in your hand, to know you and your muse, the Universe or whatever you want to call it, created something from dust, from whispers and gossamer threads. Well that, my friend, is a thrill.

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I guess I’m what you’d call a hybrid author. My first book was with a major publisher and now I’m self publishing How To Stay Married. I’ve been on a steep learning curve and I’ve had lots of help along the way. Being with a traditional publisher is great too - they pay for everything, and the editing support is phenomenal. With self publishing it’s hard to know how much to spend because you don’t know how many books you’ll sell. However one of my frustrations with my first book Sex, Drugs and Meditation was, and still is, that I had no control over the pricing of the ebook. My publisher has never done a special on it or dropped the price. I’m in negotiations to have my World erights revert to me so that I can tie it in with How To Stay Married, do bundles and specials to deliver value to my readers.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry (e.g. rejections, the long wait, etc.)

I think the thing that surprised me the most about getting a publishing deal was that it didn’t matter that my publisher loved the book, it didn’t even matter that the head of the publishing loved my book, they still couldn’t offer me a deal. It wasn’t until Sales and Marketing agreed that it was marketable that the offer was made. There are many hoops to jump through. But I’m very grateful to them. They published my book and did a great job. 

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

My dog is pleased I’m at home so she can thrust her nose in front of my computer screen and demand a pat. A dog is more interesting than a laptop, so she tells me. The Hubby deposits cups of tea beside me at regular intervals and reminds me to come to bed. He’s very proud of me but wishes I would take a break more often.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

Seeing my book in a national ad for a book chain. I had do idea they were going to use it. Mine was one in a pile of other books by very well known personalities and authors. I was so delighted I wrote to the book chain and thanked them. They replied and said good writing deserves to be be promoted. Double wow.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

I think of social networks more in terms of being social rather than networking. I enjoy Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and Pinterest. I dip my toe in others occasionally - Instagram can be fun and Google+ but if I use too many I’d disappear into the social whirl and never return. I really only joined Facebook i to play Scrabble online. I love Scrabble. I did get a bit competitive about Facebook Likes for a little while and it just made me miserable. Yes, I promote myself and my work on social media but hopefully in a way that doesn’t seem pushy or impersonal.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

I’m having some help with marketing and lots of advice from those who’ve gone before me. When the World erights for my first book revert to me I think that will help. I’ve been told that you sell more books the more books you have for sale, so I’ll keep writing. I have no expectations. When Sex, Drugs and Meditation was picked up by a major publisher I thought my ship had come in. Instead it floated on by. I’m much more realistic these days.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

I’VE ONLY JUST MET YOU AND I LOVE YOU! (I learnt that from my dog. She’s there with me on the roof. Give her a pat, she’d like that very much.)

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

For me connection is a huge part of what this life is all about. My job in radio is very much about connecting one on one, with my guests and with my audience.
Writing gives me a broader scope for connection. When I read great writing I feel connected not only to the author but to something much greater. I’ve had emails and letters and messages on social media from people who’ve read my books and felt the same. My writing has been called ‘brave’ more than anything else and I like to think I can help others be a little braver too, just through the knowledge that they’re not alone. We are connected.

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