Monthly Archives: November 2011

Author Interview: M. J Neary

Today’s interview features M. J. Neary. Sit back and enjoy.

Terry C. Simpson: What is your book about?

M.J Neary: “Martyrs & Traitors: a Tale of 1916” is a historical novel telling the story of the Easter Rising in Dublin through the eyes of Bulmer Hobson, a discredited patriot who had tried to prevent it, because he believed it was a waste of human life.  Because of his controversial split from his former comrades, for decades his name had remained swept under the rug and his contributions to the nationalistic movement largely downplayed. He was branded a traitor by the Republicans and spent the next fifty-some years of his life in a state of silent rage.

Terry C. Simpson:What inspired you to write this particular story?

M.J Neary: Shortly after “Brendan Malone: the Last Fenian” got accepted for publication, Bulmer Hobson came to me in my sleep and complained that I had given him so little time and space in the first book.  He suggested that I should write an entire novel about his adventures.  Of course, I woke up with heart palpitations and rushed to the computer to get a copy of his biography on Amazon.  His first comprehensive biography was written by a Canadian-born professor Marnie Hay, who has since helped me a great deal with research.  Her book is the first comprehensive biographical source on Hobson.  For the reasons described above, he had been off the radar for decades.  As I browsed through his biography, I uncovered fascinating romances and feuds that would provide perfect foundation for a historical novel.

Terry C. Simpson:What writer influenced you the most?

M.J Neary: Boring as it sounds, my literary mentors were Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. I gravitate towards that heavy mid-19th century style. That was before the ADHD epidemic.

Terry C. Simpson:Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?

M.J Neary: In my novel I have a mixture of historical and fictional characters.  You can take liberty with both.  They are all “my children”, hideously flawed, some borderline grotesque, but loved. I create them all with love, even if that love is rooted in fury. I can despise the real historical figures, but I still love them as literary characters.  Having suffered from depression, anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder, I understand Ugly very well.  I can work with Ugly.  I can create convincing, three-dimensional characters with a string of delicious ridiculous flaws that will make readers feel good about themselves.  If you read about larger-than-life heroes, it’s easy to feel inadequate next to them.  But if you see the less heroic side of popular idols, then the revelation may prove to be strangely encouraging.  There is one character that I particularly connect with – Edith Malone, a depressed, hysterical, sexually confused, self-centered English widow who joins the Irish nationalistic cause.  A girl after my own heart!

Terry C. Simpson: How long did it take you to write your book?

M.J Neary: This 450-pager took me about 4 months to write.  It wrote it at a rather trying time in my life, when I was running on caffeine, alcohol and adrenaline.

Terry C. Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

M.J Neary: When you write about real historical events, you know how things end.  There are no surprises.  You know who is going to die on the barricades, and who is going to get executed.  The variables are not in the destination but in the journey.  It’s the ideas you get from reading between the lines of history books.

Terry C. Simpson: What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

M.J Neary: For one, I hope they learn something new about the Irish history, about the nationalistic movement in the Edwardian era. That goes without saying.  That’s the purely factual benefit of reading the book.  There is also a spiritual and philosophical benefit that I hope my readers will reap.  I also hope that they re-evaluate their own idols and villains.  I’m not saying they should reverse their loyalties 180 degrees.  Just ask yourself: “Whom do I admire/despise and why?  Do I really know the truth about this person, or do I just go by what the media tells me?”  We should have enough faith in our own judgment and put it above rumors and propaganda.

Terry C. Simpson: What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

M.J Neary: I absolutely hate writing love stories and love scenes.  I’m a very cynical, crude person in real life, and it’s hard for me not to laugh when I write about romantic infatuations.  At the same time, I do not want my own personal cynicism to spill into my fiction too much, because there are, apparently, people who become infatuated earnestly and irrevocably. Sometimes I need to separate myself, the writer, the narrator, from my characters and see the world through their eyes.

Terry C. Simpson: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

M.J Neary: As a working mother with plenty of “secular” responsibilities, I cannot predict how much time each day I will be able to devote to my work. So, whenever I have a free moment, I ask myself whether I should do boring domestic chores or use that time to advance my craft. Inspiration and productivity come in waves, in bursts. There are moments when the creative drive is so aggressive that I become deaf and blind to everything else around me. I have lost count of how many pots I’ve burned in the kitchen.

Terry C. Simpson: What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

M.J Neary: If you are asking me about the publishing industry, I must say, there have not been that many surprises.  If you do your homework, if you research the market and polish the manuscript, then you will spare yourself many, many rejection letters.  Don’t go into the battle unarmed.  I went into the market with a strong manuscript and a strong query letter.  “Martyrs & Traitors” is not my first novel.  My first novel took 16 years to write and just a few weeks to secure a publisher for.  Now I have lasting relationships with two small presses, and they are very enthusiastic to hear that I have a new manuscript.

Terry C. Simpson: What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

M.J Neary: I could give a mile-long list of tips.  Not all aspiring authors are at the same place.  Some are only toying with the idea of writing the first draft of their first novel, and others are already on the verge of submitting their first query.  I encourage writers to contact me with specific questions.  Find me on Facebook and send me a message.  I’ll be happy to provide guidance.

Terry C. Simpson:What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?

M.J Neary: It’s very individual.  Casting a wide net does not work for everyone.  If your novel is genre-specific or topic-specific, reach out to publications that specialize in this topic.  Reach out to the communities that already have an existing interest in your topic.  Promoting a book about lip gloss vampires is different from promoting a book about Irish revolutionaries.

Terry C. Simpson: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

M.J Neary: Even though my work revolves around a specific ethnic group, it appeals to a broader audience.  You don’t have to be Irish or a history buff to enjoy my books. There is enough universal appeal – at least I try to make it so.  I have reached out to various Irish-interest publications in North America and on the other side of the Atlantic.  I have a built-in audience.

Terry C. Simpson: What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?

M.J Neary: “The darker the past – the brighter the future”.

Terry C. Simpson: Have you written any other books

M.J Neary: Yes, I am the author of “Wynfield’s Kingdom”, “Wynfield’s War” (both via Fireship Press) and “Brendan Malone: the Last Fenian” (All Things That Matter Press)

Terry C. Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?

M.J Neary: Please visit my author site:



Barnes & Noble


Posted by on November 25, 2011 in Announcements, Authors, Epublishing, Interviews


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Today’s Guest: Fantasy Author, Ty Johnston

Fantasy author Ty Johnston’s blog tour 2011 is running from November 1 through November 30. His novels include City of RoguesBayne’s Climb and More than Kin, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook  and online at Smashwords. His latest novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, will be available for e-books on November 21. To find out more, follow him at his blog

I’m traveling from blog to blog this month to promote Ghosts of the Asylum, my new epic fantasy e-book, but instead of talking strictly about my books, I’d like to talk a little about my own road to independent publishing.

I am an indie author, or a self-published author, or an independent publisher. Whatever term you prefer, you probably get the idea. I do work with print publishers from time to time, but mostly for short stories. Over the years, I’ve had a few behind-the-scenes deals rolling for print publication of one or another of my novels, but they’ve always fallen through for various reasons.

Becoming an independent author is not an easy choice for many because they still yearn for the acceptance and recognition that comes with being published by a print publisher, especially one of the major print publishers, nearly all of which work out of New York City.

I know, because until a few years ago, I was still caught up in that game.

One thing changed my mind. No, it was not the sudden growing acceptance of self publishing brought about by today’s e-reader technology, though that helped push me along. What changed my mind was, I lost my job.

Yes, like millions across America have experienced during the last few years, in the winter of 2008, less than two weeks before Christmas, I found myself unemployed.

I had been a newspaper editor for nearly 20 years. The economy was in a funk, but my former business, newspapers, was getting hit worse than most, at least at the time.

Over the years, I had written plenty of short stories and managed to have a few of them published in one venue or another. So, when I found myself without a job, I decided it was time to change careers altogether. It was time to take my former hobby, one I had always loved, and to turn it into my career.

Unlike many who are traveling a similar road, I did not have the luxury of continuing to have regular employment while trying to build a writing career. I was thrust into it, literally in a matter of hours. Fortunately for me, I had some novels and a number of short stories and other projects available for publication.

It’s going on three years, and I’ve never looked back. Every single day I am thankful for getting the boot from a career that had eaten up my life for so many years.

No, I’m not getting rich, but the bills are getting paid and the wife is happy, which is what really matters. I have control of my own time and can work whenever and wherever I want. I can take the beagle for a walk. I can sleep in. I can stay up all night writing. Or not.

To those out there who are struggling, I offer only one piece of advice. Find what you love, find your passion, and focus upon it. It will take time and effort, but you don’t want to look back in 20 years and say, “I wish I had started back then.” Believe me, I know.


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Epic Fantasy Novel, Prince of Thorns Review

Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire, #1)Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One word. Amazing.

Never have I read a book that made me love the anti-hero more. Then there was the prose. The blurb alone hooked me. “Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies in my mother’s tomb. Now I have many brothers, quick with knife and sword, and as evil as you please. We ride this broken empire and loot its corpse. They say these are violent times, the end of days when the dead roam and monsters haunt the night. All that’s true enough, but there’s something worse out there, in the dark. Much worse.”

The book follows the exploits of a broken boy who intends to become king. He has no qualms and no illusions about the cruelty of life and lives as such. Be warned, if you have something against rape, murder, pillaging, death, in other words, if you’re squeamish this isn’t the book for you. Go read some Potter.

However, if you like a book that doesn’t shy away from the evils that men have wrought, this is for you. Lawrence writes in such a way that leaves you hanging on the edge of every word. He bleeds life into his characters, even the ones that are dying. You sympathize, you hate, you love, but the biggest part is, you understand. At least, I did.

Oh, the book has plenty that’s magic, but with the way it’s written there’s no need to explain it. The cleverness of the battles both small and larger are well shown. The way he works his descriptions to his character and world are sublime.

Look, I could go on, but I won’t. If you want a book that’s about characters, life, and an anti-hero that you would love to hate, but you just cannot. Go get this book. If you want an amazing read, period. Get this book.

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Epic Fantasy Novel, A Dance of Cloaks Review

A Dance of CloaksA Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let’s start this off saying I enjoyed this book immensely. When I first read Dalglish’s Half Orc series, I felt it could have been better. I stopped after book 2. Then I got into a sudden need to read about assassins and I included A Dance of Cloaks in that list. When I finally got to this book, I thought, ‘Judging from Halforcs it will just be o.k.’

Surprise. It’s a good book, a really enjoyable book.

Dalglish and I had a conversation on facebook after I read this book about how his work has grown. I started the conversation asking him about that very thing because I was so surprised by the difference between this book and the first two in Halforcs. He then told me the last 2 in Halforcs are actually better, and he wrote this after book 2 of Halforcs BEFORE he finished that series. Wow.

To see a writer’s growth is an amazing thing.

From prose to characters to setting to the plots, you are drawn in by A Dance of Cloaks. You see a troubled boy with a ruthless father leading him down a path to murder and destruction. You see those struggling to help him, their own internal struggles, the battles between guilds for rule over a city, an inept king, others plotting for control, and underlying it all the magic and power gods can give to men.

You see people struggle to survive, sometimes trying to achieve the greater good while others plot and scheme for their own benefit. It all leads to a plot where you’re not quite sure who should be considered evil or who should be considered good. There’s a lot of gray areas to work with and in a book like this, gray makes for intrigue and a read you won’t want to end. The first chapter alone caught me so off guard that I had to continue.

Dalglish said in this book and to me on facebook that reading G.R.R.M inspired him for this book and the way his style has changed. And it’s not a bad thing. It is a good thing. The prose and the plots reflect that. The best part is knowing that unlike one of my other favorite series, Dalglish has actually concluded this one, and shortly I will be off to the read the others.

If you haven’t read this book. Go get it.


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EBook Reviews, the Author, And you

What makes an author get all warm inside? A good review. Today, I received my first review from one of the bloggers I sent my books out to. When I read Jackie Miller’s review at, A smile spread across my face. so much so that my daughter asked “Daddy, are you happy?”

It’s the reviewer, the reader that’s most important to me. You let me know that I created a world you enjoyed, characters you felt, plots that kept you reading. Dialogue that was engaging. I want to keep taking my work to the next level, honing this craft so my readers can lose themselves in the worlds and characters I create, knowing that when they see my name, they can live another life simply by opening the pages of my books and reading.

That is a goal well worth the effort.

In this digital age, there’s nothing so important as the review to the author. Now, I’ll say that applies in general. As an author there’s no greater feeling than knowing a reader enjoyed your book and reviewed it, expressing that pleasure.

That has become even more important with ebooks. There’s no storefront to walk in to. There’s the ebook, the internet and the reader. There are a ton of things to do to increase visibility. Social media rules in that aspect. But what about getting readers to actually read your work?

The first answer would be to write a compelling story and write it well. So now we’re past that part. You have this great book. However, you’re part of the great unknown. You contact bloggers, forums, website owners, other authors and whoever else you need to. You do giveaways.

Your main goal? To get those reviews.The review is often the tipping point to purchasing. Your sales in the long run will be directly affected by those reviews. So will all your future work. Your name is your brand. Write a good book, get good reviews and you will be well on your way.

That’s what your average reader looks at. Whether it be Amazon or Smashwords or Barnes&Noble.  They can be elusive and it takes great patience to shop your work around and then wait for the reviews but if you wrote a good book, it’s well worth it.


Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Announcements, Epublishing, Personal, Reviews, Writing


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