M. G. Scarsbrook – The Marlowe Conspiracy

Title: The Marlowe Conspiracy

Author: M. G. Scarsbrook

ISBN: 978-1-4524-7696-4

Page count: 400

Genre: Historical Thriller

Price: eBook – $2.99 / Paperback – $11.99


Author Bio:

M. G. Scarsbrook is a prize-winning screenwriter and author of the historical suspense novel THE MARLOWE CONSPIRACY. He recently adapted THE MARLOWE CONSPIRACY into a screenplay and won the nationwide Writers On The Storm Screenwriting Contest, placing first out of 1000 entries. This script has also ranked within the top 30 at the Nicholl Fellowships, the most prestigious screenwriting contest in the world. He currently lives in Southern California and is now at work on a new detective series.


Tell us about your book:

1593, Elizabethan England: In a turbulent time of wars, famine, and religious persecution, Christopher Marlowe struggles to balance his life as England’s most popular playwright with his duties as a government spy.

Suddenly, when he falls under suspicion of atheism, a capital crime, Marlowe fears his many powerful enemies have launched a conspiracy to have him executed…

With only a few days to clear his name, he quickly enlists the aid of a young William Shakespeare – one of the few friends he can still trust. Together, they race through Marlowe’s tangled life of crime, espionage, and noble connections to expose the conspiracy and save him from the hangman’s noose.

But will anything save a man as troubled as Marlowe?


How long did it take to write the book?

Actual writing of the book took me approximately 6 months, although I had a long planning period before that, and many months of research, too…


What inspired you to write the book?

The life and death of Christopher Marlowe! Originally, I was considering adapting one of his plays – ‘Doctor Faustus’ – into screenplay, and so I started reading biographies of Marlowe to familiarize myself with his work. That’s when I found out about his exciting life (he was a famous playwright, most probably a spy, and a bit of a criminal, too), as well as the murder-mystery surrounding his untimely death (he was stabbed in a tavern while in the presence of several espionage operatives).


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

I really like to plan my novels in great detail before I put words on the page. I start by making a general outline for both the plot and characters, then I move onto weeks of research, which always helps to suggest ideas for scenes and new characters, shed new light on character motivation, and it generally yields a few surprises, too. Then I start planning in great detail, constantly shaping the plot and revising the characters, developing the entire novel scene by scene, chapter by chapter. By the time I’m ready to start writing, I feel as if I know everything about the story and characters – almost like I have already written the first draft! I find that this allows me to focus on the actual act of writing, choosing the right words, honing description, and making the dialogue sharp and revealing.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Some authors want their readers to have a particular reaction to their work. I don’t. I aim to make my writing as rich as possible, full of emotional, philosophical, and political themes, but ultimately I simply want to stimulate the reader to have a reaction to my novel – to feel or think something about what they have experienced. Indifference is the only thing I don’t want…


Where can we go to buy your book?

The eBook is on sale at Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, the Sony Reader Store, Kobo, and Smashwords. The paperback is available exclusively from Amazon.


Any other links or info you’d like to share?

Included inside the novel is an extensive Author’s Note detailing the fascinating historical facts behind THE MARLOWE CONSPIRACY. Also included is an excerpt from my latest novel POISON IN THE BLOOD: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia, an historical mystery-thriller set in renaissance Rome during the scandalous reign of the Borgia family. To learn more, please visit my website at http://www.mgscarsbrook.com.


Excerpt from book:

The moon looked flat and pale and ready for a kill. Below, in the blue haziness of dusk, Calais had never been more dangerous for an English spy. Fort Risban trained its cannons across the mouth of the city harbor. Sentries with spears prowled up and down the ramparts. City guards fanned out through the streets, watched at street corners, and made random checks on anyone passing through the shadows.

Along one street, a pair of guards strolled past an old inn known as ‘Auberge du Passeur’. Above, at a second floor room, the shadow of a man moved past the window…

Inside that room, motes of dust flickered through the light of a single candle. At the far wall, before a small mirror hung askew, Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe stood and dressed himself quickly.

Kit was tall, with lithe arms and compact shoulders. Oval of face, he wore his long brown hair pulled back from his brow, and he grew a faint moustache over his lip and a thin beard on his chin. Dark, sun-strained eyes stared back at him from the looking glass. Between his slanted eyebrows lay a small crease worn into the skin through frowning. In his late twenties, he was a man fully in his prime. He was also a man of hidden tension: focused yet undisciplined; alert but frustrated; confident yet racked by anxiety.

Hastily, Kit grabbed a long black gown from the stool and slipped it over his simple doublet. Next he donned a red, triple-peaked hat that signified the profession of medical doctor. Lastly, and most carefully of all, he leaned over to the desk and lifted a thick fake beard and applied it to his face. The hair of the beard smelt musty. The glue felt warm and pinched a little as it dried hard on the skin. Now fully dressed, he stepped back in front of the mirror to inspect his disguise. Moonlight from the window cast a bone-white shade in the looking glass. He stared at his reflection – stared almost through it. The back of his neck tightened. He took a shallow breath. His eyes narrowed slightly. He shook his head and grimaced.

At a nearby desk, he laid his fingers on a document, rolled it tightly, and slid it inside a small pewter tube. He secured the tube inside a leather-sided medical bag full of instruments, pots, and vials.

Pigeon wings suddenly battered at the window.

Kit flinched and turned.

After a second, he calmed himself, drew open the window, and discovered a messenger pigeon clinging to the windowsill. A tiny note was attached to the bird’s left foot. Gently, he unclipped the note and read the following words:

‘Ship to England on schedule.

May God be with you.’

The pigeon flapped off into the dusk sky. Kit poked his head outside and surveyed the streets of Calais.

Below, a man drove a cart down the road. From the shadows, two guards jumped out in front, waved him down, and proceeded to search both him and the wooden crates aboard the cart-bed. Stress began to twist its way through Kit’s limbs. The French were unusually nervous tonight.

For centuries, Calais had been ruled by England, but thirty-five years ago the Duke of Guise had mounted a dramatic invasion and reclaimed the port for France. Calais was valuable since its proximity to England meant the harbor bustled daily with English galleons laden with cloth, tin, lead, and wool. At the docks, these were readily traded for steel rapiers, hand-woven rugs, sumptuous rolls of silk, and expensive bottles of claret. Calais was one of the most lucrative towns in France, and the French were anxious of losing it again – especially as Spain had amassed troops close by in the Netherlands. Now was not the time to be in Calais.

Kit’s eyes lifted. In the distance, the masts of galleons in the harbor peeked over the rooftops and chimney stacks. For the span of a heartbeat he remained still and noiseless and tranquil…

He shut the window and turned back into the room. With hardly another glance in the mirror, he burst into a whirl of activity, whisked over the floorboards, collected his belongings, closed the medical bag, heaved it up from the floor, and blew out the candle. Teeth clenched, heart swelling up into his throat, he left the relative safety of his room, tramped down a creaking staircase, found the inn keeper and returned the room key. He paused briefly, tilted his hat down, and approached the door to the street.


Arthur Graham – Frog City Updike

Title: Frog City Updike

Author: Arthur Graham

ISBN: 145153468X / 978-1451534689

Page count: 174

Genre: General Fiction

Price: $9.99

Author Bio:

Arthur Graham is a self-published author currently residing in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and her cat. He writes books and hopes that you will read them. Working in a slipstream, surrealist style that has been compared to that of William S. Burroughs and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., his publications to date include the darkly humorous novella Editorial and an eclectic collection of shorter work entitled Frog City Updike. His current project is a nonfiction anthology due out in 2011.


Tell us about your book:

Frog City Updike is an off-beat collection of short stories, flash fiction, and other miscellanea compiled with its title as a structural and thematic guide. I like to think of it as the kind of book Richard Brautigan might’ve enjoyed if he hadn’t blown his brains out when I was only 3 years old.


How long did it take to write the book?

Approximately 9 months, not counting time spent on older material reworked for the collection.


What inspired you to write the book?

My wife suggested “Frog City Updike” as a nonsensical title for the novella I was working on last year. Though completely inappropriate for that particular book, it was far too good a title to just throw away! Frog City Updike basically wrote itself around these three words, which is why it’s dedicated to Jayna, who provided that initial spark.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Clearly there is a certain combination of factors that must come together for a productive writing session, which will vary from writer to writer, but really just getting your butt into the chair is half the battle. You never want to force it too hard, but personally I feel that the only way to write is to simply sit down and start writing. To all you aspiring writers out there, I would recommend nothing so much as investing in a comfy leather desk chair.

For Frog City Updike my process was a little more specific. Basically, whenever I felt like working I would imagine this nondescript town, theoretically in rural America somewhere – a place that served as a sort of microcosm for the larger world, along with all of the people, places, and things in it. From there, I would cast about for interesting characters and situations, transporting them to this rather amorphous locale and infusing them with my own observations and experiences. In so doing, I found it easy to incorporate a wide variety of unpublished material I’d been sitting on for a while, stuff that likely never would’ve seen the light of day if I hadn’t taken such an essentially open approach.

As for research, I do enough that I don’t come across as a total idiot in my writing. Partial idiot I can maybe accept, because even a cretin is capable of using Google or Wikipedia to look up information.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

Anything can happen anywhere for any reason.


Where can we go to buy your book?





Any other links or info you’d like to share?

Excerpt from book:

I was volunteering at the Frog City Updike St. Martin’s Soup Kitchen last year when I first noticed the well-dressed, affable, middle-aged man oddly out of place amongst all the old broken down bums. Platinum Rolex watch on his wrist, his salt and pepper hair perfectly pomaded, his attire strictly designer. The Frog City Updike St. Martin’s Soup Kitchen is in a fairly poor part of town, so it is unusual to see anyone so presentable in there who isn’t a volunteer. Hell, he even made the volunteers look bummy by comparison!

The very next day the man was back again, chatting enthusiastically about something or another with the hobos in line for split pea and ham. After he had taken his tray away and sat down at a table with another bunch of dejected vagrants, naively acting as if there were no difference between him and them, I asked one of the other volunteers what was up with this guy. She told me he was known around those parts as “the millionaire.”

He had been patronizing the daily soup lunch served at the Frog City Updike St. Martin’s Soup Kitchen fairly regularly for the past several years apparently, and though none of the volunteers knew for sure whether he was a millionaire or not, it was no secret that he was definitely quite wealthy. Everyone assumed that he must’ve been one of the anonymous donors who helped keep the place open through their generosity, though I never once saw him put so much as a nickel into the suggested 25-cent donation jar….

One day while he was chatting up some poor old man who had probably never seen as much money in his life as the watch wrapped around the millionaire’s wrist, I approached him in his fine coat and slacks and neatly manicured nails and asked him flat out “What are you doing here day after day, harassing these poor hungry people and eating up the soup intended for them when you can obviously afford better? Why don’t you go back to where you belong and leave these poor people alone?”

At this the millionaire smiled politely, wiped his dainty mouth with a coarse paper napkin and replied “My boy, you don’t think I became a millionaire by wasting all of my money on expensive fancy lunches, now do you?” He laughs at this, and all of the other bums laugh along with him.


Helen Gallagher – Release Your Writing

Title: Release Your Writing: Book Publishing Your Way

Author: Helen Gallagher

ISBN: 1602640602

Page count: 208

Genre: Nonfiction: writing, publishing

Price: $16.95 softcover, $9.95 Kindle

Author Bio:

Helen Gallagher mixes right-brain and left-brain activities in her writing and technical work as a computer consultant. After lecturing on the value of tech skills for writers, and teaching audiences how to make publishing decisions, she foolishly thought she’d write a book and give people the answer for $16.95. The book, Release Your Writing, sells well and yet people still ask her to speak at conferences and give workshops on the topic. Humor, enthusiasm and empowerment leave the audience satisfied, and ready to publish their next book.


Tell us about your book:

With so many books on the market about writing and about publishing, how to differentiate? Release Your Writing combines the mechanical aspects of formatting a book for publication, with a large section on the 21st century options – traditional publishing, full self-publishing, and print-on-demand. The third section of the book covers over fifty marketing ideas, mostly free, to gain exposure for a new book, and to keep it alive. No matter the publishing method chosen, we all know marketing is the author’s responsibility.  My book’s resources can take the reader through a full year of expanded exposure through practical and proven success strategies.


How long did it take to write the book?

About eight months, from conception to conclusion.  I had already been lecturing on the topic and maintain very organized notes. Plus, naturally… I love to write.


What inspired you to write the book?

After publishing an earlier book, Computer Ease, in 2005, I was surprised by the number of people seeking my assistance in publishing a book. I knew the path and pitfalls, so I thought Release Your Writing was an optimistic and practical way to help people do what I had done. There is no reason to not fulfill a dream, to wait through years of rejection, or to abandon a project. There’s room in the publishing world for every quality project.


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Research today is easier than ever online, and I am a voracious reader, and attend many national events, so I gleaned great research all along the way. I’m a driven writer, rather Type-A about deadlines and goals, and as a tech consultant, I have an edge in the ‘flying fingers’ method of writing a good first draft, and keeping myself motivated. Computers make writing so easy, and a disciplined writer is free to create new drafts, save old revisions, and let the project grow like bread rising in a warm kitchen. Soon, something good comes of it.


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

I attempt to empower people, by setting them free from all the ‘What if?’ and ‘Yea, but…’ obstacles we often place in our own way. My success strategies, friendly advice, and practical tips give the reader a sense of ‘Why not?’ which is exactly what I strive for. What’s the worst that could happen? Oh, but what’s the BEST that could happen!


Where can we go to buy your book?

Release Your Writing is available at all major online retailers, and from the publisher at virtualbookworm.com. Of course, it is also in about a dozen libraries around the world. Search worldcat.org to find one near you. When I speak at public libraries, I always donate a copy of my book. Did you know that, if a library gets two requests for a book, they order it? And if they are both checked out, budget permitting, they will even order more. So donating a copy of your book plants a good seed.


Any other links or info you’d like to share?
An important tip I have for writers/authors is to use a professional email address and web site. No matter what your underlying internet provider is, your domain and email should be professional.

So my email is Helen@releaseyourwriting.com, my site is releaseyourwriting.com, and I have a helpful and informative blog for writers at releaseyourwriting.blogspot.com. Repetition is key to marketing success, and repeating your book name or your business name makes it easier for people to find you.

And on a fun Pajama Marketing blog, I post something new every Saturday to keep authors motivated to stay in their PJs and accomplish something for their book. That address is pajamamarketing.wordpress.com.


Excerpt from Release Your Writing: Book Publishing Your Way:

Traditional Publishing

Getting published may not be a good use of your time, if it means shopping for an agent, writing a lengthy proposal, and waiting to sell it to a publisher. And, the road to rejection can be quite long. Do you want to wait six months to get a “No, thank you,” from a publisher?

Unless you’ve already been published and have an agent to represent you, your chances of selling a book to a publisher are extremely low.

Traditional publishers excel at their marketing knowledge and distribution. Those are the two primary areas where a new writer will benefit from using a traditional publisher. If you write a best-seller, yes, you, your agent and your publisher will reap profits for years, but most of the advice in this book enlightens writers about other ways of achieving publishing success, instead of waiting for the Publishing Gods to send for us.

Looking Beyond Top Publishers

Just as independent bookstores serve a different niche than national book retailers, so too do smaller publishers. Even large publishing companies try various imprints, small in-house brands aimed at specific markets. HarperCollins has several imprints, such as Ecco, launched for classic literature, and Fourth Estate for edgy fiction and non-fiction. Some publishers are now collapsing their imprints back into one brand, noting they create clutter and confusion.

Small presses are big business in America. This includes university, regional and independent firms. Small presses comprise a huge part of the book industry, over 80,000 firms. The Jenkins Group, Inc. reports that small and self-produced books represent 78 percent of all titles. Learn more about small presses at IndependentPublisher.com. Many small publishers are willing to work with authors, even unagented, and tend to keep books in print longer than larger firms. Of course, your book can still be remaindered or rejected for a second print run if sales don’t meet the publisher’s goals.

Do your homework before approaching publishers. Look at their website or their book catalogs. Does your book match up with their style? Can you find those books in your local stores? What is their distribution channel? What are their contract provisions for keeping your book in print? Do their authors retain the rights to their work? What marketing support is available? These are usually called co-op fees, where the publisher might fund local marketing events with postcards or promotional items tied to your book’s theme.

While a publisher’s advance and the promise of royalties hold allure, royalties, often in the range of 2 to 12 percent aren’t paid to the author until the publisher makes back the advance. So even on a small advance of $5,000 it will be a long time before you begin receiving a percentage of sales. If your book is a best seller, you can move to an island off Crete. For the rest of us, there are other options we’ll explore in depth.