Monday, July 30, 2012

Interview with John J. Marnien, Jr.

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book?
My most recent book is 2012 THE END OF TIME. I have long been interested in the soothsayers and prognosticators throughout history and into the modern era.  Considering the number of dire predictions concerning December 21st, 2012, I determined to present a different twist on the situation. While it is essentially a work of Science Fiction, I was not   interested in "joining the crowd", but rather desired to present a quality work that would be of continuing interest beyond that date. While the story revolves on the end of the year 2012, the plot relates how people of varied backgrounds and experience deal with a potential catastrophe. The tale shows how persons in diverse locations throughout the country are contending with occurrences that they are trying to understand. In particular, it demonstrates how a religious cult can use people's fears to their own financial gain. The resolution presents a different view and explanation of the approaching disaster.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
This novel, 2012 THE END OF TIME is the fifth book that I have completed. In each instance I did submit queries to various agents/publishers. In fact, I have been rejected by many of the most noted agents in the business. I have acquired a particularly good collection of rejection forms and e-mails. My primary purpose in being an author is to write. Therefore, eventually I would have my book published through an "indie" and get on to working on my next volume.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
The most difficult and exacting critique group that I participated in was  during college. Each individual taking the creative writing courses had to place their work in the library for review and critique by fellow students and interested professors. A number of the students were obviously better inclined towards being rather negative critics. However, those that were serious about developing good style and form offered significant suggestions and observations.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish to Amazon?
I researched a number of companies through the internet and secured some books that did comparisons and recommendations. Eventually, I was left with a list of five independent publishers that were highly respected.  I was well satisfied with the costs and the way that my initial work was handled by the company that I had chosen. While I did review the other companies subsequently, in every instance, I went with my initial decision. I also appreciated being able to use my own artwork in designing the covers of my  books. In A SECRET   PASSAGE and in 2012 THE END OF TIME I was also able to utilize lyrics from my own musical compositions and include the sheet  music within the text. 

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I did not hire an editor prior to publishing. I do value an editor's place within the process, however, cost is prohibitive. Also, my spouse and I both have strong backgrounds in English from high school and college, and I was well taught by the simple reading of many authors including the "Classics".   Each book is edited by both of us. It will then be set aside for a while and eventually be edited again. The process continues until we feel that the book is ready for publication.

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey? 
I have learned that for many in the industry publishing is simply a job like any other. You can pursue all of the traditional avenues. You can concern   yourself with writing queries and planning marketing strategies. However, if your goal is to write and you want to see your book finally available to others, self-publishing can be the best solution. Also, if you want to reach the most readers, consider having your book presented as an eBook as well as a standard volume.  

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Of course, my books are for sale on my publisher's site. They are also available from Barnes and Noble and many book sources worldwide.
In addition to the United States, they are currently being advertised for sale in Canada, Italy, Ireland, England, India, Norway and Australia.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
At the moment the only site I am using is However, I intend to soon be involved in facebook and twitter and eventually a blog. I also intend to investigate some opportunities that Amazon is making available to authors.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Marketing has proven to be a necessary evil. I have attended book signings, distributed calendars carrying pictures of my book covers, handed      out other advertising material, established an internet site - basically all of  the usual approaches.  Everything does impose on the amount of time that I have for writing.  

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Keep your dream alive! Right now, the book that you are working on may be the one that goes over in a big way. However, be realistic. Completing the next great American Novel is not why you are writing. You should be doing your craft because you love to do it. Keep writing and telling your stories. Remember too, more important than anything that you write, enjoy your family and friends and life itself.

What’s next for you? 
I have recently completed the sequel to ANY TIME NOW. My new book is AKA SAUCY JACK which is a Science Fiction/Humorous work about the Jack the Ripper investigation.  Also under edit is an allegorical fantasy, BRAMBLE OF MOON VALLEY.

Both books should be available by the end of 2012.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Writing with a Co-Author: Leave Your Ego at the Door

I thought about what to write about and finally decided that I was in a unique position to talk about a specific topic that most authors probably will not experience--that is, writing with a co-author. I originally wrote this piece was my friend, John Marco, but thought I'd republish it here as well. If this helps any aspiring authors who'd like to collaborate, then I'll be happy. Hopefully, this will save you from making some of the mistakes that we made starting out together.

I started writing with my co-author, David W Small, in 2006. I was lucky to have such an awesome co-author, but I’m a bit biased. You see, David is my brother and he has traveled around the world while in the Marine Corps. With his military background, I could be sure that any fight/battle scenes in our books would be spot on.

Growing up we both enjoyed the same types of books—science fiction and fantasy—and even into adulthood, we would pass books back and forth on a regular basis.  One day I was on the phone with Dave while he browsed the latest books in SFF and he was complaining that every book available was basically the same. I said, “we could write our own book,” and our collaboration was born.

Now saying you’re going to write a book and actually writing one is at opposite ends of the spectrum. As any author will tell you, they’re heard that exact same statement from lots of people, but actually following through on it and putting words to paper takes a tremendous amount of time, energy and self-determination.

Our first book was Quest for Nobility, a fantasy based on the distant planet Otharia. Our main characters were royal twins (brother and sister). Surprising, right? Anyway, it made perfect sense for us. We’ve had a loving relationship all our lives and it wasn’t hard to write these characters and how they would react to the conflicts we would throw at them. We had a general outline of the book and initially assigned each other a chapter to write. Now that sounds reasonable, however, it turned out to be a disaster.

We turned out to be pretty similar in our writing styles which meant that we included pretty much all the same information in both chapters. Out came the delete button and thousands of words went into the trash bin. So then we figured that we would write one chapter at a time before we sent it to the other one for edits. That way we both knew what was already in the chapter and could move forward with the next chapter without repeating the same information. Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing especially when something was added that we both didn’t agree on. Our mutual test was “if you can’t justify why something is included, then out it goes.” Yes, you definitely need to leave your ego at the door and keep the big picture in mind. You want to write the best book you can and sometimes that means things got left on the cutting room floor.

So that should have worked, right? Wrong! Do you know what happens when two people are writing a story without a specific outline? It’s not pretty and ¾ into the book, we thought of a fantastic tangent that we had to include in the book. That meant we needed to go back to the beginning chapters again and rework them so that our new tangent made sense. When we finally finished the book, we felt like we’d run a marathon, but we weren’t done yet. After letting it set for a few weeks, it was back for another round of edits. It’s amazing how much you see that needs to be changed if you step away for a bit.  All in all, our first book was probably edited from cover to cover at least 6 or 7 times before it went to our editor for the final edit. That’s a lot of editing, but the book is now something we both are proud to put our names on. This was also the book that nearly landed us an agent in 2008, but in the end, it didn’t work out. The one positive thing we came away with though is that we didn’t suck at writing! We could write an exciting action-packed adventure and that was a huge boost for us.

Because of our experience in writing Quest, we knew that we needed more than a 10,000 foot outline. In the second book in the Otharia series, The Crystal Fa├žade, the writing went much more smoothly. We were getting into our groove and we had a much more extensive outline to work from. That’s not to say that we don’t think of “cool” things to add in along the way, we absolutely do, but at least now when we add in an unexpected twist or another tangent we don’t have to backtrack to the beginning and fix the plot. Even though we both know what the outline says, it’s still exciting to see how it actually turns out especially when we both add in little tidbits as surprises for the other.

Our newest release, Assassin’s Curse, the first book in a new series, “The Witch Stone Prophecy,” was an absolute blast to write and we have definitely gained our rhythm writing together. We are currently working on the next book in that series and will then tackle the final volume in the Otharia series.

Dave and I love writing together. It is a fantastic creative outlet for us, but it may not be for everyone. If you plan to write with a co-author, make sure you have compatible writing styles. When Dave and I look back at our books, we can’t remember who wrote what and that’s a very good thing!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: DEATH NOTICE by Alicia Dean

5 of 5 stars

 "Death Notice" was referred to me by a friend and I'm so glad she did. The author has done a superb job in creating suspense and mystery in this story. Monroe Donovan is an obit writer - pretty boring most of the time, but she plods along longing to get back to the crime desk. She's been patiently waiting for the crime writer job for 2 years and her promotion is complicated by the fact that her ex-boyfriend is also her boss, Adam. Anyone who has been in this position knows how these things go - not only does Monroe not get the promotion, but Adam reprimands her for letting an obit go to print with the date of death 2 days in the future.

Monroe is clearly upset about Adam's betrayal, that is, until Detective Lane Brody comes to the paper to interview Monroe about the obit. Seems the obit wasn't wrong after all--the victim was found murdered on the date listed. Sparks are clearly flying between Monroe and Lane, but there's another problem. Lane is married, but it's complicated. When a second obit shows up with the wrong date, Detective Lane realizes that he has a serial killer case on his hands.

Ms. Dean does a great job of letting the reader inside both Monroe's and Lane's head and what they're feeling for each other. They're scenes together sizzle. I could feel their forbidden passion for one another--the writing is that good. The mystery of who the serial killer will definitely surprise you. The clues are there, but Ms. Dean is very clever with them. Fans of mystery and suspense will thoroughly enjoy this book. Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Release: ANGEL'S BREATH by Valmore Daniels

Book blurb:

My name is Richard Riley. All I ever wanted was to lead a normal life.

When I was younger, I made some bad choices that ended with me in prison. I served my time, and I am trying to put my life back together.

But someone has framed me for a crime I didn't commit. Now they want me dead, and they're willing to kill my friends and family to get to me.

Even as I try to save the people I love, a dark and ancient power grows inside me. I can feel its anger rising.

If it gets away from me, it will rip everything in my life apart.

Buy links:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

FORGET ME NOT Excerpt by Belinda Boring

I'm pleased to welcome Belinda Boring to the blog today. Her latest release, "Forget Me Not" is now available. Be sure to visit the tour link and enter the contest here:

To whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from the beginning of the book.

“Excuse me?”
I looked the woman up and down. It irritated me how she hung on Mason, as if she had every right in the world to do it. I growled and stepped forward, ready to go to war for the man I loved. I didn’t even care about whatever excuse she would give for invading our lives with her false presumptions—I was pissed. I could feel the change happening, and I smiled. Judging from the way she blanched, I knew my fangs must have shown.
“Darcy, stop.” Mason’s voice broke through my anger, and luckily for him he’d moved away from her. “This is Amber, and it’s not what it seems.”
“Who is this, Mason? And why does she think she has a hold over you?” Amber asked.
The syrupy sweetness of her tone set my teeth on edge, and I launched myself at her. I was acting on the most primal of levels, hospitality be damned. I was instantly caught up in strong embrace of Alpha, and pulled in tight to his chest. I lunged again with my hands clenched into fists.
“Calm down, baby,” he whispered into my ear, his deep, rumbling timbre trying to soothe the savageness rising within me. “There’s no threat here. Trust me.” I felt a small layer of power under his words, and my wolf stood down—for the moment. I realized I was panting as my body tensed—ready to fight.
Wrapped tightly in his arms, I glared at the intruder, and tried to unclench my jaw. Everything inside was on high alert, and I refused to look away. Listening for Mason’s response, I almost missed the flicker of amusement that crossed her face.
“What are you doing here? I’m pretty sure I made myself clear.” It was the coldness in his tone which finally caused me to relax. He was surprised to see her, but there was no mistaking the anger as well. There was history between them, but whatever designs this Amber had were all one sided.
“I heard, but it still doesn’t change that it was the wish of our parents. I thought you needed time to see the sense between the pairing, and now with the death of your sister, I knew you would need me.” Her focus was on Mason, but her body language told me she was still aware of me. “Maybe this is a discussion we need to continue away from your girlfriend.”
Finally meeting my gaze, she smiled sympathetically. “I’m sorry, I know this is sudden, but whatever you have with the Alpha is over. He is betrothed, so any promise you think you have with him can’t ever become a reality.”
“Amber. We are not betrothed.”
“But, you’re not tied to anyone. You don’t bear the marks. Why else would a male of your virility and status remain alone?” She looked at me again. “Surely, she’s not the reason why. She’s nothing, Mason, merely something to slake your lust with.”
He’d loosened his grip on me, and I broke free from his embrace. My vision zeroed in on her throat, restarting the process of shifting. I was determined that one way or the other, there would be one less werewolf on the property when I was done.
“Darcy.” Not only did he use my name, but Mason also slammed his plea through our mental connection, layering it thick with his love and need for me to stop. I wanted blood—needing to do something to show this two-bit hussy I wasn’t so easily tossed aside. I was the one Mason would be mating with, and another growl escaped from my mouth in warning.

Author Bio:  
A homesick Aussie living amongst the cactus and mountains of Arizona, Belinda Boring is a self proclaimed addict of romance and all things swoon worthy. When she's not devouring her latest read, you can find her celebrating her passion for book on her blog The Bookish Snob.

With all that excitement, it wasn't long before she began writing, pouring her imagination and creativity into the stories she dreams. Whether urban fantasy, paranormal romance or romance in general, Belinda strives to share great plots with heart and characters that you can't help but connect with. Of course, she wouldn't be Belinda without adding heroes she hopes will curl your toes.

Surrounded by a supportive cast of family, friends and the man she gives her heart and soul to, Belinda is living the good life. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

World of Symbols: Sacred Geometry

Michelle Snyder, M. Phil, Symbolist

Humans love patterns. We doodle patterns, buy patterns, wrap gifts in patterns, we even dance in patterns. Music and art, science and math, all have patterns. There are patterns in the tiniest things and in the expanse of the universe. Patterns are combinations of repeated shapes. The most perfect shapes are those of the golden mean, or golden ratio – a mathematical equation (1:1.618) which manifests throughout nature. Beautiful faces supposedly develop in accordance with this equation. Around the world and in every culture, assessments of beauty can be connected with the golden ratio. From prehistory this has been observed. Around 5000 BCE a helen was a standard measurement of beauty: Helen of Troy was known as the woman whose face launched a thousand ships. A helen is an ancient term for the golden ratio.

The golden ratio is the foundation of Sacred Geometry. The term Sacred Geometry refers to philosophical beliefs that have sprung up around the golden ratio. The shapes of Sacred Geometry date to prehistory; abstract geometric symbols such as circles and squares have been used since before the Paleolithic Period, ca. 12,500 BCE. These shapes represent what is thought to be the essential structure of the universe, representing universal order. In ancient Egypt these geometric shapes were considered sacred, and by 550 BCE the golden ratio became a philosophy taught by Pythagoras as Sacred Geometry. Artisans used it to express philosophical and theological ideas as forms of grace and beauty. The architects of classical Greece designed their buildings according to Sacred Geometry to enhance a sense of tranquility and enlightenment.

Sacred Geometry also plays a major role in symbol design. Some images have design elements which act as a blueprint beneath the rendered image, so that not all information or meaning of a symbolic image is readily visible. Renaissance masters used the golden ratio to design their paintings. These geometric elements contribute meaning to the complete work. For example, an alchemical symbol of a tree with a bird on either side, reflecting the shape of a cross, adds symbolism of the cross to the meaning of the birds and the tree.

Circles and squares are two basic shapes in Sacred Geometry. Squares symbolize uprightness, honesty, and dependability; squares represent regulated life and actions. Masons ten thousand years ago knew the principles of geometry and used squaring tools in the construction of megalithic observatories to insure stable foundations. Circles symbolize infinity, inclusion, perfection, and centering. The Yogis and Priests of early Hinduism marked a circle around themselves as they knelt to pray; the circle represented the surrounding horizon. Sitting in the center of the circle they became associated with the center of the world, a place of stillness and peace.

Mandalas are designs, usually circular, that use the shapes of Sacred Geometry in concentric layers. These patterns of shape and color elegantly express Sacred Geometry. In Tibet and India mandalas are sacred works of art which function as meditative focus: by moving the eyes watchfully from the perimeter toward the center, the seeker becomes more centered. Holistic healers, physical therapists, and other professionals recognize the centering and healing aspects of mandalas; they are hung in treatment rooms. The next time you’re feeling a little blue, create a mandala of your own: an absorbing and centering task you may find fun!
Article © 2011 Michelle Snyder. Michelle’s mythology presentations and classes are scheduled for April & May – get details at Once Upon a Time: world of symbols blog:
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