And that is why every writer should have a book launch party

Writers work mostly in solitude. When you pick away at a novel for years, those who initially supported your endeavor tend to lose interest. They may even forget you’re writing a novel or start believing you’ll never finish. You might stop believing in the dream, too, and only stubborn pride carries you to the end. You finish the book in virtual silence. If you’re going the indie route, publishing seems almost an afterthought. The meager sales aren’t even a let down because you know the odds of success are poor no matter what your publication route. As you upload the file to Amazon, you sigh and say to yourself, “Well, finally got that monkey off my back.”

How bleak is that? What a sad, pathetic way to treat a major accomplishment. You wrote a frickin’ 102,000 word novel that is actually coherent, largely grammatically correct, has a pretty darned exciting plot and interesting characters and dammit you should be proud!

The above should be surrounded by quotation marks, because that’s exactly what I said to myself.

In response, I asked my husband if he would mind if I had a book launch party. I felt a little silly about it. He’s a logical person who knows the odds of success as well as I do. What exactly do I hope to accomplish with a party? Do I really expect it to boost my sales? I wouldn’t have blamed him if he told me I was insane.

Instead, he said “sure, go ahead” with surprising enthusiasm and gave me carte blanche to do as I wished. Bolstered by his attitude (and smug about having married the right person), I told my best friends about the party. They thought it was a great idea, too. So I planned the event for a time when they could all attend. I figured even if they were the only ones to show up, we’d still have a fun party.

And you know what? As word got out, I was amazed to find out how many people wanted to come. And not just for the free food and the giveaways. Folks thought it was awesome that I’d written a book. What an accomplishment! They wanted to celebrate with me.

As the party approached, I became energized. I brought home vanloads of party supplies. Food prep began days ahead. I bought presents for my guests. I felt like Bilbo Baggins before his eleventy-first birthday party.

Then the day arrived. I decorated the house the way I imagined you should for a book launch, with posters of the book cover plastering the walls alongside color-matched helium balloons. I was excited and happy and couldn’t wait for the doorbell to ring, though I should have been exhausted after all the frantic cleaning, cooking, and shopping.

But under all that positive emotion, I still felt a little foolish. I’d spent more money on the party than I was likely to ever make on book sales. It all seemed like a bit of a joke.

Yeah, maybe so. But it would be a good joke that makes me happy and maybe our guests will have a good time, too.

And then the party started. When guests passed through the front door, the first thing they saw was a spotlighted table full of flyers, business cards, and post cards, with a poster of my book cover standing in the middle. They were given tickets to fill out for door prizes, and then were led to the food table. We served smoked pork ribs, smoked stuffed mushrooms, and smoked potato skins a la Barbeque Master Tom Loughin. There were meatballs, artichoke cheese dip, and spanakopita. Cookies, candy, pineapple, and grapes. We had wine, beer, and, eventually, bubbly stuff that wasn’t quite champagne.

And there was cake!


Periodically, I tooted my wooden whistle that sounds like a steam train’s a-comin’ and handed out door prizes: Amazon gift certificates, book lights, fancy book markers, a fuzzy lap blanket, and coupons for free copies of my novel. At the end, Joyce Trammell won the grand prize of a Kindle Touch.

To be honest, I felt awkward and strange. At least at first. I’ve never felt comfortable telling people that I’m a writer. (Typically, if they know I write, it’s because Tom tells them.) It felt self-indulgent to open myself to this sort of attention. It probably was self-indulgent, but people responded and felt my accomplishment was worthy of celebration.  That awkward feeling evaporated in the face of all that good will. After years of writing against the tide of obscurity and self-doubt, I finally let myself believe that, yes, it was all worthwhile.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ll write another book. And there will be another party.

And you’ll be invited.



*All pictures by Tammy.

**Thanks to my buddies who helped with the food and shopping. Thanks to Tom and Jules for their patience and magnificent help. And thanks to Hannah for helping clean up the aftermath.

Some of the aftermath

Posted in Authors, Books, Life, Marie's Fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

Discoverability: One Writer’s Solution

English: A Picture of a eBook Español: Foto de...

Image via Wikipedia

As “The Local Bookstore” joins the list of endangered species and we enter the age of digital books, one of the biggest problems facing readers and writers is discoverability. How can readers find new books without being able to browse through the shelves of their local bookstores? How can writers showcase their work without reserving a spot on one of those special, front-of-the-store discount tables?

The online retailer’s answer to this question is the search engine. And Amazon has a good one. With Amazon’s categories and tags, an author can make her book discoverable for exactly the right reader. For example, suppose you have a hankering for an urban fantasy featuring hobos and Norse Gods.   Search “urban fantasy hobos Norse gods,” and up pops a single book—Valknut: The Binding. Neat, eh?

Readers need never accidentally step outside their preferred sub-sub-genre, again. How wonderful. Yeah.

This system isn’t perfect, though. The search engine is good, but it can’t read your mind. Suppose you want to read a magic realism book involving Cuban baseball. Enter “baseball magic realism Cuba” into the Amazon search engine and you get either (1) magic realism involving baseball, or (2) magic realism involving Cuba. If you want all three in one book, you’d better write it yourself. If such a book exists, it hasn’t been properly categorized and tagged, so you’ll never find it. Even accidentally.  (But you will find a nifty t-shirt for a Dominican Republic basketball team.)

For a book to be “discovered,” the categories and tags selected by the writer and reader must be in agreement.

Unfortunately, even if an author appropriately categorizes and tags her novel, Amazon limits how many labels the author can use. I had to make some hard decisions in labeling my novel. Someone searching on “mythic fiction Norse gods” will not find Valknut: The Binding.

I’ve put a lot of thought into this dilemma, and I think I can help. Using Fantasy as an example, I’ve drawn up a handy chart for matching up all subgenres,* their overlap, and possible mash-ups.

Using this chart, readers can identify possible search terms for finding the exact flavor of fantasy novel they wish to buy. Writers can use it to identify alternative categories and tags for their novels. It’s even color coded. Just follow the colored lines to find subgenres (and hence categories and tags) that could be assigned to a given book.

I admit, the chart isn’t perfect. It might have been a tad more readable if I had some sort of software to draw it. Also, I might have made a mistake or two, but I was out of whiteout. I’m sure you can work around these small difficulties.

I considered adding Mysteries and Horror to the mix since there’s heavy overlap between the three genres, but I thought the chart might get too complicated.

The chart is free for your use, and you may distribute it freely. No need to thank me. Just trying to do my part to clear the path between authors and their readers.

*This is not actually all of the fantasy subgenres I found listed at various websites. I made some editorial decisions to keep things simple.

Posted in Books, humor, Urban Fantasy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 22 Comments

It’s a Party!

Drag your rumpled party clothes out from under your bed, because you are invited to my book launch party on Saturday, February 18, 2012!

If you cannot attend in person, don’t worry! You can still be a virtual attendee. (Details provided at the end of the post.) And because I am so happy to finally release Valknut: The Binding, I will be giving away a Kindle Touch (WiFi only) to one lucky guest.

“Launch, party?” you say, scratching your head. “But, Marie, didn’t you already…?”

Stop giving each other furtive glances behind my back and let me explain. As many of you know, I released Valknut: The Binding to the wild back in mid-December. It turns out that the second half of December is a horrible time to try to schedule a party.  Only my immediate family (some of them, anyway) and the greasy-haired kid who works at the A&W would have been able to attend.

But I want a party. I deserve a party. So I postponed the party. (One good thing about being an indie writer is that you can set your own schedule.)

One bad thing about being an indie writer is that you have to throw your own party. The Big Publishers always throw fantastic book launch parties for their new authors, right? With celebrities and champagne and stuff? Yeah, I’m sure that happens. Well, I have to do all that on my own. Except without the celebrities, because the only ones I know live too far away and I don’t know them very well, anyway. (I’m not sure they know me at all.)

So what do people do at book launch parties, anyway? This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know.  So I’d appreciate some ideas, if you have any. (Preferably ideas that don’t include Russian caviar, jeweled party bags full of gold-dusted chocolates for the guests, and so forth. I’m on a budget.)

Here are the details I know:

~      The celebrations actually begin today. Now, in fact. Do any of the following, and I’ll register you for a chance to win the Kindle Touch.

  • Leave a comment on anything new that I post at my blog between now and February 18. (One entry. And I know what you’re thinking, but it won’t work. If you leave 15 comments at the end of this post, you still only get one entry.)
  • Leave a review for Valknut: The Binding at any online retailer that carries it and/or reader sites like Goodreads or LibraryThing. Send me the link—I can’t count it if I don’t know it’s online. (Up to two entries, and only reviews posted between today and February 18 count.)

That’s as many as 4 entries per person!

~      The official party will be at my house on February 18, 2012 (7:00pm-10:00pm). There will be food, something bubbly to drink, and door prizes. (If I drink enough of the bubbly stuff, I might read something from the novel. But don’t count on it.)

*Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Posted in Books, Marie's Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

Fantasy on the Ice

My dad doesn’t read fantasy fiction. Ever. The only fiction books he reads are crime novels, like those by John D. MacDonald. In fact, he only reads John D. MacDonald books. And only the ones with Travis McGee in them.

Because he loves me, he might make an exception for Valknut: The Binding. I’m not sure what he’ll make of it.

I can picture my dad and my brother sitting on frozen folding chairs, hunched over a hole in the ice, their fishing lines dangling in the barely liquid water. The conversation might go like this.

Brother:          So…what’s Marie’s book about?

Dad:                That magic stuff she likes.

Brother:          Fantasy?

Dad checks line. Peels off frozen, half-chewed, dead meal worm and puts on fresh bait.
Dad:                Eeeyup.

Brother:          Dwarves and Elves, then.

Dad:                Nope.

Brother:          Swords and sorcery?

Dad:                Nope. Trains.

Brother:          Oh. Steampunk?

Dad’s eyebrows go up. He gives brother hard look. 
Dad:                What did you call me?

Brother, patiently:     Steampunk—magic mixed with Victorian age technology.

Dad, relaxing:            Oh. Nope. Modern.

Brother:          Like Twilight?

Dad:                Nope. Mostly takes place in the middle of the night.

Brother blinks.
Brother:          Any vampires, werewolves, or maybe succubae?

Dad glares:     Watch your language.

Brother:          Sorry.

Dad (mollified):         No vampires. Norse gods.
Tip-up pops up. Dad’s got a fish on. Tugs on line.

Brother:          Right. Urban Fantasy. Gotchya.

Dad:                Whatever.
Dad reaches bare hand into only slightly liquid water and pulls up two-pound crappie stuck in the semi-frozen hole. De-hooks and throws fish back in water. Too small.

Actually, this conversation could never happen. Neither of my brothers could get much past “fantasy.” And my dad is not inclined to say, “whatever.” (But they really do talk like that while ice fishing. Don’t want to scare the fish with too many words.)


If you are interested, Wicked & Tricksy hosted my guest blog, “Conquering the Evil Was,” back on January 13.

Posted in Life, Marie's Fiction, Myth in fiction, Urban Fantasy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

A word about Telesa, by Lani Wendt Young

Just for fun, I entered the cover for Valknut: The Binding in a contest at Shannon Mayer’s blog. “I love my book cover,” I thought. “It’s cool and well-suited to my novel. It’s bound to win.”

So when it didn’t win, I wanted to rant, stomp my feet, pull out my hair, and scream, “Unfair!”

Well, not really. With so many brilliant artists out there making beautiful covers, I knew the competition would be tough. In the end, the winner was Lani Wendt Young with her book, Telesa. I haven’t read the book yet, so I can’t make recommendations. But the description is intriguing and Young’s background is certainly compelling for us North American types.

Take a look. Check out the book trailer.*  If you like urban fantasy romance, maybe download a sample from Amazon and give it a chance!

The Winner!

Ancient Pacific mythology tells of Telesa, Spirit women who are guardians of earth and gifted with the elemental powers of Air, Water and Fire. Telesa are vengeful and cruel. Tales to frighten children. Or are they more than that? From Washington D.C. comes Leila, a young woman in search of family, a place to belong. Instead she finds her destiny, and it threatens to tear her apart. There is the bewitching call of a telesa sisterhood and there is Daniel. Will Leila embrace her birthright or will she choose the one who offers her his love with a crooked smile and dancing green eyes? Will Daniel be the element that gentles the fire of the Telesa? Or must love burn at the altar of the telesa covenant? There are many different kinds of love. All of them require sacrifice. Who will give everything for the one they love?

Leila from Telesa

Bio from Lani

I  was born and raised in Samoa, in the South Pacific.  I went to university in the USA and New Zealand, studying English Literature, Women’s Studies and  Education. Back in Samoa I worked as a secondary school English teacher for 7 years and did lots of writing in between for the local newspaper and for myself. My short fiction has been published in Samoa, NZ, Australia and the UK. My collection of short stories “Sleepless in Samoa” won the 2011 USP Press Fiction Award.  My story ‘Beast that Came from the Sea’ was one of 24 Winners in the 2010 Commonwealth Short Story Competition and has been professionally recorded and broadcast in over 50 countries.  I also write stories for children that are used in primary school reading programs.In 2009 I was commissioned to research and write the narrative non-fiction book Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi’ about the devastating tsunami which hit Samoa, American Samoa and the islands of Northern Tonga. The book was funded by the Australian Govt Aid program and all book sale profits go back to tsunami survivors who were interviewed for the record. My book TELESA The Covenant Keeper‘ is the first in a YA fantasy/romance/thriller series.  I’m married to Darren Young (who is probably the most patient and most hottest man alive) and we have five children ranging in age from 4 to 16yrs. We now live in New Zealand where I try very hard never to leave my hermit cave. I blog as a slightly demented Domestic Goddess at  Sleepless in Samoa.

For a look at more fantastic cover art, check out Shannon’s blog.

*If anyone out there wants to volunteer to make a book trailer for Valknut: The Binding, just leave a comment 🙂

Posted in Authors, Books, Myth in fiction, Urban Fantasy | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Predgoalutions for 2012

Free Photo Bank

Daring Predictions

  1. A president shall be elected in the US. It might be a new one.
  2. Road construction/modification will continue in Surrey, BC. None of it will be completed (except maybe the filling of some pot holes).
  3. The average price of gas will be higher for 2012 than for 2011.
  4. I will not meet all of my goals and resolutions for 2012. (Since I didn’t even make goals/resolutions for 2011, anything is an improvement.)
  5. No one will pay me the big bucks for staring into my crystal ball. (Hey, can you do better?)


  1. Survive teaching technical writing class without requiring counseling, therapeutic massage, or stitches. (I may get the massage anyway.)
  2. Complete one novel, including revisions and final proofreading. (Stop laughing. I mean it.)
  3. Write 3 shorter works or a second novel. (Notice this section is not called “Realistic Goals”?)
  4. Knit fingerless gloves for daughter that she’ll actually wear. (I’ve now knitted 2 twisted, lumpy looking gloves for the left hand. I have a new appreciation for those who knit socks.)
  5. Write one blog post a week. That’s 52 posts, minimum.


  1. Promote Valknut: The Binding without selling soul.  (At least not mine.)
  2. Lose 15 pounds.   10 pounds.  5 pounds. Grow a muscle.
  3. Don’t let blog lapse. (Back-up plan in case goal #5 fails.)

(I’m not clear on the difference between a goal and a resolution. For my purposes, I decided that a goal is something I can complete within 2012, whereas a resolution is an ongoing battle.)

Some announcements!

  • My guest post Fun with Multiple Viewpoints is online at Wicked & Tricksy. I discuss the benefits of using multiple viewpoints and give examples. (Daughter Hannah is hoping one example is an excerpt from my next novel. It is not. But I’ll keep it in mind for the future.)
  • Valknut: The Binding is now available for the Nook at Barnes & Nobles! Woo hoo!
  • Valknut: The Binding is now available at Smashwords. Hopefully this means it will be available at iBooks, Kobo, Sony, and other retailers soon.

To give you an idea of things to come, I’ll be doing more interviewing of other writers and more book reviewing this year. However, I look at these sorts of posts as “bonuses.” My plan is to post a personal blog once a week plus occasional bonus posts.

I’ve started doing some guest blogging and hope to do more of that in 2012. In particular, I like to write about writing techniques and other writing-related topics, but don’t feel those topics are of interest to most of my readers. I’ll make sure to let you know when and where those guest posts appear. In case you’ve missed my guest posts so far, here is a list:

Jokul Frosti and the Boy, flash fiction posted at Sommer Leigh’s Tell Great Stories.

Why Not Norse Gods? In Answer to Jaye Manus’s question, posted at Jaye’s Love Affair with Genre Fiction.

Fun with Multiple Viewpoints, some tips on why and how to use multiple viewpoints, posted at Wicked & Tricksy.

Upcoming guest post: I will be posting again at Wicked & Tricksy a week from Friday, this time about the passive voice.

Thus ends post #1 of 52.


Posted in humor, Life, Marie's Fiction | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Speaking of Norse gods and hobos… [Announcements!]

I have a few announcements today, starting with: My first ever flash fiction story, “Jokul Frosti and the Boy,” is appearing at Sommer Leigh’s wonderful blog for FREE! I’m pretty happy with this story and hope you take a moment to go read it. (And check out her blog, while you’re at it.)

For those who don’t know, flash fiction is very short fiction. I’ve seen different definitions, from 100 words to 1000 words. Sommer set the word count limit to 350 for this post (a little less than a page and a half). My writing friends will be shocked that I managed to come in under the wire. The post includes a discussion of my approach to writing the story.

Here’s another exciting announcement: I am guest posting at Wicked & Tricksy on Friday, December 22 (this week). I’ll be discussing writing with multiple viewpoints.

And yet another exciting announcement: I’m guest posting at Jaye Manus’s blog on Thursday, December 21. I’m saving the nature of that post as a surprise, mostly because I haven’t figured out what to write, yet.

And now, for the biggest announcement of all…


So go buy it. Right now. Then read it.

If you read (and enjoy) Valknut: The Binding and want to help spread the word, here are some simple ways to do it.

  • Kidnap your friends, neighbors, coworkers, family, and the skinny, greasy-haired kid that works at the A&W. Tie them up, tape their eyelids open, and make them read the book.
  • Word of mouth is the very best sales tool. However, it doesn’t work if the author is the one running around saying how great the book is. People would probably think she’s biased.
  •  Post a Customer Review wherever you’ve purchased the novel. Honest reviews are appropriate.
  • Agree with the tags provided at the bottom of the book’s Amazon page. You can add new ones, if you think of any that were omitted. (The tags so far are fantasy thriller, urban dark fantasy, Norse mythology, mythology, and Norse gods.)
  • “Like” the book at the top of its Amazon page. Again, please don’t feel obliged to “like” the book if that would be a lie.

Tagging and “liking “ help increase the novel’s visibility at Amazon. The more people who agree with the tags, the higher the book will appear if someone searches on a tag. I’m not sure how “likes” work, but I hear they’re good for you.

The number of reviews affects whether book bloggers will read and review my novel. A reviewer doesn’t want to waste time reading and reviewing a novel that only the author’s mother loves.

These tips don’t just apply to my book. They go for any book you buy online, especially new or obscure writers who don’t get their publishing house’s love and attention. It’s a good way to help ensure your favorite authors continue to publish.

There. I’ve done my hard sell. All future references to BUY MY BOOK will be much more oblique. I’m just not a sales person at heart, which will probably keep me from becoming Stephen-King-Only-Better-Looking.  (I’m sure that’ll be the only reason.)

Available at Amazon

*If you don’t have a Kindle, never fear. You can download the Kindle app to your PC, Mac, or smart phone. Find the Kindle app download here. Once the app is loaded, click on the new Kindle icon on your desktop, laptop, or phone. Once your Kindle window is open, you can click on “Shop at the Kindle Store.” When you make your purchase (you’ll need an Amazon account), the book will be sent directly to your Kindle software and you can start reading. If you can’t figure it out, then contact me. (You got all that, Mom?)

Posted in Marie's Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Ruminating with Jonathan Allen

Jonathan D. Allen

Today, I have the privilege of posting my interview of Jonathan Allen, author of Corridors of the Dead, released TODAY. (Woo hoo! Streamers and fireworks!) You can find the e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. A print version should be available at Amazon soon.

Jonathan has everything it takes to flourish in the crazy, volatile world that fiction publication has become. He is imaginative, intelligent, has great control of language, and engages well with readers and other writers.

Best of all, he is prolific. If his blog is any indication of how fast he writes, ideas seem to pop fully formed in his head. He must type 120 words a minute to get it all down. I bet he wishes he had a wireless modem for sending stuff straight from his thoughts to the computer. (If I had one of those, a writing session would be like, “Lennie leaned into the shadows and let her eyes—I hear that cat on the counter again, dammit—adjust. Cardboard and—I wonder what’s happening on twitter?—scraps of packing material littered the floor—rats, I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer—A hand-truck…hand-truck? Wtf? Where did that come from?!)

Where was I? Right. Jonathan has what it takes, so I was excited to have a chance to learn more about him. (Plus, I was hoping he’d give me an advance copy of Corridors of the Dead, because I was dying to read it. It worked. 🙂 More about that, later.)

I saw in your blog bio that you wrote your first fantasy/sf novel at age 13. What was it about?

Hah, funny that that should rear its ugly head again. It was a blend of fantasy and historical fiction about the period directly preceding the Inquisition. In retrospect, a lot of the fantasy elements came about because of my utter ignorance of the period. It was supposed to be a trilogy about two nuns who defy the plans of the Catholic Church in Spain and cross the Pyrenees Mountains in search of some magic macguffin that I’ve long since forgotten. Something to do with proof of God’s true intentions toward the heretics, only the macguffin turned out to affect the world on a much larger scale. I can see some echoes of it in The Corridors of the Dead, actually, but it was pretty awful. Filled up two spiral-bound notebooks, and I furiously scribbled during class. Looked very studious, I’m sure!

What attracted you to writing fiction when you were a kid? Why do you continue to write? 

I’ve had stories in my head pretty much from when I could remember. I mean, everyone really does – we play with our toys and tell stories. In 1983, I believe, when I was about 7 years old, I started writing a sequel to the cult movie Tron. It just felt like the natural thing to do; I had come up with the story in my head, imagining the further adventures of those characters and playing with their toys. At some point I started to change the names and traits of the characters that my toys represented, and began creating my own worlds.

What genre(s) do you prefer to work in, these days? What is your favorite novel and author within that genre? 

In a broad sense, I work in urban fantasy, in that I prefer to write fantasy set in our modern world, adding a twist to our everyday reality by either some long-standing urban legend or mythology. I like to specialize in the “weird”. In David Lynch’s film Blue Velvet, we are introduced to this perfect world of suburbia that all starts to unravel and reveal a hidden world beneath with one pivotal event: the discovery of a severed human ear in a field. That’s what I’m aiming for in almost every book that I write, that pivotal moment that warps perceptions. My favorite novel within that genre is Imajica by Clive Barker, though he’s long since stopped writing that sort of fantasy. For something more recent, China Mieville’s City and the City has really grown on me.

I understand that your short story, The Kayson Cycle, originated as part of a blog fest involving the shared world of Renaissance. Would you like to fill us in on some background for this universe? 

Well, I can fill in some of the world that we were given – we were basically told that Renaissance had a history as pretty much everything; a high-fantasy medieval-style world, degenerating at some point into a western-style mining town that became a ghost town because of some pivotal event (I’ve offered my own interpretation of this event), and was later rebuilt into a modern town. In my own take of the world, the mines and the mining company are slowly strangling everything that is good and pure about that world for their own profit.

In my opinion, The Kayson Cycle has loads of potential for further expansion. (Of course, I might be projecting. All of my short stories want to be novels when they grow up.) Do you have any plans for further work with these characters? 

Yes, absolutely. This is the prelude to a longer work that may or may not take place in Renaissance; I may change the names since I don’t have full ownership. Still debating that. At this point, it looks like the next step in the story is telling the story of the Stranger and his Wife through their son, 20 years into the future. That story would examine the ramifications of what occurred in The Kayson Cycle and what it means for their world at large.

I’m halfway through Corridors of the Dead and am really enjoying it. What ideas or events inspired you to write this book?

Thank you! When I was a teenager, I had a neighbor who practiced Enochian Magick. We had long talks about the nature of the system, and eventually he taught me what he knew about the system. It’s difficult to explain it all in one spot, but Enochian Magick is supposedly based upon the Book of Enoch, which was cut from the Old Testament. It told the tale of the rebel angels who came to Earth and mated with human women, creating a sinful civilization that challenged God and was eventually wiped out by Noah’s flood. The story always fascinated me, and put an itch in my imagination: what if those rebel angels were actually other-dimensional creatures, and that civilization was advanced beyond even our own wildest dreams? Some of this has become conspiracy lore over the years, that aliens brought humans here and are responsible for some of the ancient wonders of the world. I wanted to turn that concept on its head – you’ll have to read the book to see just how I do that.

Do you have any hobbies or interests that don’t involve writing? 

Oh, yes. I enjoy video games, travel, photography, and especially music. I enjoy singing a great deal, and I’m in the process of learning the guitar. It’s an ever-evolving process.

What’s on the horizon for you? 

Right now I’m working on my second novel, Entanglements. This is what I have written up for the plot so far: Kelli, a woman who was spirited away to a mysterious cabin in the middle of nowhere and subjected to strange brainwashing techniques and unnamed drugs, finds her life changed when a highly prized experimentation subject shows up: Carla. Suddenly, dead and distant relatives appear to her and her musical abilities grow by leaps and bounds while the experimentation rots away Carla’s mind. Kelli and a fellow captive fall in love as he explains the plans that are unraveling around them. As Kelli discovers why she and Carla were brought there, they plan to finally escape and destroy the experiment. I’m hoping to release that in late March/early April, soon to be followed by the sequel to Corridors of the Dead, City of the Dead, which is still in the planning stages.

Thanks, Jonathan!


Life prevented me from finishing Corridors of the Dead before posting this interview, but I’m far enough along to comment. In the broadest sense, this novel reminds me very much of Nine Princes in Amber, by Roger Zelazny.* The characters and world-building details are quite different, but Jonathan manages to capture a similar surreal feel. It’s the sort of novel where, outside of protagonist Matty and her friend Kristy, you don’t know who the good guys are. And it’s the sort of novel where the rules of the universe are revealed bit by bit, sometimes turning the story on its ear. If that sort of story appeals to you, then (based on the first fourteen chapters), I can certainly recommend Corridors of the Dead.

*Jonathan says he’s not read Nine Princes (yet), but if you go to his website, you’ll find a series of articles associating Tarot cards with archetypes in fiction. It seems Jonathan has tapped into the same cosmic stream that Zelazny waded in, all those years ago. You could dip your toes in worse waters.

And now I’d best get back to final proofing and formatting of Valknut: The Binding!

Posted in Authors, Books, Ruminations | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The sounds of silence

Those oDriving...f you who’ve been following me regularly may have gathered that I like audible books. I started listening to them at a time when I was spending two or more hours a day in the car and was under stress. I found they made me a better, lower-stress driver.

Before I adopted audible books, I’d get in the car exactly two minutes after the latest time I could leave and possibly be on time for the appointment/soccer practice/violin lesson/whatever. Then I’d try to make up the time in various quasi-legal ways, even committing small crimes that I know you all have done, so stop judging me.


With audible books, I’d sometimes leave early, just so I could get back to whatever exciting monster Owen Zastava Pitt was mowing down when I’d left off. I’d drive at or below the speed limit to milk extra minutes out of a story (thus causing the drivers behind me stress and inciting them to commit small crimes). I’d sometimes arrive at my destination early, but still be late because I couldn’t leave Owen dangling above the earth from some Old One’s slimy tentacle.*

I said, stop judging me!

Soon I was listening to audible books at the gym, with the excuse that they block out the daily dose of Katy Perry and Moves like Jagger streaming through the weight room’s sound system. Next, I started listening to audible books while doing dishes, ear buds shoved deep into ear holes, because dish-doing is boring. Eventually, I started laying on the couch in the dark, plugged in to the ever-present iPod. For no reason at all.

Hello. My name is Marie, and I’m addicted to audible books.

It seemed like a harmless enough addiction. Way better than cigarettes or donuts. But a funny thing was happening. As I was putting the final touches on Valknut: The Binding, I figured I’d better start thinking about the next book. Story ideas tend to clutter my head to the point where I have to fight to focus on the current project, so I felt confident I could easily come up with a plot. But when I reached into the mental clutter, I found…nothing.

There were too many rocks in the well. I’d been filling head with other people’s books, TV shows, and music, until there was no room left for my own thoughts.

And so I quit. Cold turkey. Right in the middle of Steven Sherrill’s The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break (which was imbued with a sense of impending embarrassment of such disastrous proportions that I couldn’t take much more, anyway).

I thought it would be hard to quit, but it really wasn’t. I found that I enjoyed letting my thoughts wander. I’d climb in the car, turn the radio on, and then turn it off again three seconds later. I’d sit at intersections, staring blankly at green lights, thinking stuff like, “Hey, maybe my next book can draw from Korean mythology…yeah, and maybe I should add more cumin to my next batch of fajitas…but I should definitely get Tom something minty for Christmas, and if Heyboo gets much thinner, I should take him to the vet…” (All while people in back of me were committing small crimes while laying on their horns.)

I began to feel excited to write new fiction.

I began to have terrific plot ideas in the shower, again.

I began to sleep better.

I began to remember dreams for the first time in a couple of years (a mixed blessing).

Maybe it’s just me (though I doubt it), but I think our brains need a chance to air out all those random thought we suppress as we go about our daily business. We need a chance to puzzle and worry at the little things we don’t understand. To plan. To work through niggling problems. To explore the what-ifs of our daily lives. And to let our imaginations wander.

So do yourself a favor and try unplugging for a little while every day. Turn off the TV. Put your mp3 player away. Leave the radio off. You might like what you hear.


*It may sound like I’ve set Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter books on repeat in my iPod, but I’ve really only listened to them once through. It’s just that some books are more memorable than others…

Posted in Life, Writing | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Time for a long winter’s nap

I visited Hillary Jacques blog, today, where she described the descent of winter on her Alaskan town. And then she asked the question, “What is your winter like? Is it a season or a feeling? How do you escape?”

Here was my response:

In Vancouver, winter is perpetual grayness. The kind of gray that makes you draw the curtains closed and use candles as pathetic stand-ins for the sun. A dark, wet gray that sucks out your soul and spits it back in tattered pieces to mingle with the rain and wash into the sewers and out to the sea, and we all flee to places like Mexico or Hawaii or Florida, where our souls have regrouped and are waiting for us on the beach.

Typical late fall/early winter day in our neighborhood.

Nearby soccer field, where kids play soccer all winter long. (In Vancouver, soccer is considered a winter sport.)

For those who are waiting to read Valknut: The Binding, I am still on track to publish in early December.

And now, back to my little candlelit cell, where I will slavishly edit and format and dream of summer sun.

Posted in Life | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments