Tuesday, October 31, 2017


In a way, I’m in the midst of starting over right now. 

In another, I’m just putting a name on the path I’ve been traveling for quite some time.

We love to talk about author branding. Up until now, I’ve been pretty hesitant to do so. To a great extent, for the past few years, my brand has appeared to be that there is no brand. I’ve written YA, MG, adult, picture books; contemporary realism, romance, thriller, magic realism, humor, boomer lit, short stories, novellas. I’ve published on the traditional platform and the indie platform. I’ve started to move into a bit of illustrative work.

I always thought that if I picked one thing, I’d feel stifled. As soon as I sort of branded myself, I’d instantly feel the itch to go in a completely different direction. 

But the thing is, I realize there IS a type of work I enjoy writing more than any other. Lately, my indie work (I’ve just released ALL ROADS and CHRISTMAS AT RUBY’S, two holiday reads) has driven that home. 

So much so, for the first time in nearly ten years of publishing, I have inserted a brand or tag phrase into the banner on my authorsite:

As well as this explanation:

Stories that are full of heart.
No matter the genre, age category, or subject, one thing my books tend to have in common is that they’re—well—positive. Even when my earliest books tackled harder-hitting subjects, they tended to end on hopeful notes. The more I write, the more I’ve come to realize the stories I most want to highlight are those that focus on the beauty in the world. The uplifting and inspiring. Feel-good stories that are sincere and genuine and, yes, straight from the heart.

I’m so excited about this direction. I already have four indie releases and additional books for submission to publishing houses outlined for ’18. It still allows me to follow where inspiration strikes—adult reads, juvenile reads, across various genres. But it also allows me to dig into stories that are warm and gentle—books that make you smile despite the problems and trials the characters face (think THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY). 

To celebrate this new beginning, my latest reads are .99 as e-reads (they’re also available as affordable paperbacks):


One Thanksgiving.
One family's devastating story.
One answer they all seek.
Do all roads really lead home?


Welcome to Ruby’s, where the “spirits” are not confined to just the dusty liquors behind the bar, and the Christmas wish to spend one last moment with that special loved one might not be made in vain.

Monday, October 30, 2017

New Beginnings by Marlo Berliner

My series, THE GHOST CHRONICLES, is a YA paranormal with adult crossover appeal, and is all about new beginnings and second chances. In this case, the end of my main character’s life becomes the beginning of a new ghostly adventure as he finds himself navigating a new ‘life’, and even finds a new love in the afterlife.

I knew from the very beginning when I wrote the story that I wanted it to be a story of great hope for anyone who has lost someone tragically, particularly someone young. Michael, my main character, dies tragically through no fault of his own. The death of someone young has always seemed to be the most unfair to me. So what could be more hopeful than a story of how life ‘goes on’ after death, and how one might even be able to find love in the afterlife.
This quote from the first book in the series touches upon this theme of second chances, as Sarah tries to convince Michael to not waste what they’ve been given:

She stared at him intently for several moments, as if trying to see directly into his soul. “Let me ask you something,” she said slowly. “If you could tell your living friends one thing, what would it be?”
He thought for a mere second and said, “Cherish life, it’s absolutely precious.”
“Exactly,” she responded emphatically. “I loved my life…it was just getting started. And I know you loved yours too…but our lives were taken away from us,” she said with a glint of anger and urgency in her eyes. “Now that we’ve been given another chance at happiness, shouldn’t we take it?”

In fact, the original subtitle of THE GHOST CHRONICLES was going to be Beginning at the End. The subtitle was later deleted in favor of the simpler title. My logline for the book is: Can Michael get to heaven before the devil gets him first, and if it means leaving Sarah is he sure he still wants to go?
THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2 has just been released and is the second book in my award-winning Ghost Chronicles series. The first book won the 2016 NJRW Golden Leaf Award for Best First Book, was named FINALIST in the National Indie Excellence Awards for Young Adult Fiction, received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion, and was named one of the “best indie YA books we have seen in the past year, from both self-publishers and small presses” by IPPY Magazine. The second book continues Michael’s ghostly adventures in the afterlife, now with Sarah by his side. Here’s the blurb for the book:

What’s there to fear if you’re already dead?

Michael and Sarah now know for certain, there is a destination after death.
They also know they better find their way out of the afterlife fast, before the devil claims Michael’s soul.
What they don’t know?
Before they can get to heaven…
they may just have to go through hell.

One of the inspirations for THE GHOST CHRONICLES 2 was the song Stand By You by Rachel Platten. The lyrics fit my story and my characters so perfectly, that the minute I heard it, I knew it would help me write the second book. Basically, as Michael and Sarah are facing their new beginning and navigating the afterlife, they are going to stand by each other and do it together, no matter what comes their way...even if they can't find heaven. You can listen to it here: Stand By You - Rachel Platten

Sunday, October 29, 2017

In Memoriam (Brian Katcher)

Image result for memento mori 

I'm addicted to subplots. I love to introduce a thousand unnecessary scenes, complications, and most of all, characters. Fortunately, I have an editor to reign me in, and help me cut the chaff from the main story.

Unfortunately, that means I do lose characters I have come to know and love, children of my mind, my flesh gollums, my homunculi, my creations. 

Murdered with the strike a key. Stabbed with a slash of red ink. Existing nowhere but in my memory.

One of my favorites was Belzar North, a character cut from Deacon Locke. He was a skeezy attorney, an ambulance chaser, a shyster. In the book, he was attempting to get Deacon's grandmother, Jean, to sell her house. I loved writing the scene where Deacon punched out Belzar's car window, and how he'd secretely communicate with his secretary by using phrases from 80s sitcoms. And of course, the way he redeemed himself by the end of the novel.

Gone forever.

I have a difficult time reusing characters, and he likely will never resurface in another work. But I remember Belzar, and all the others.

Tom Roper
Dirk Slater
The Redneck Gourmet
Philip Tokugowa

And all the rest. You are not forgotten.