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Friday, January 14, 2011

Writing Something Different - Nonfiction

In 1999, I published my first book...a nonfiction book about the life of a women's shelter speaker. I'd done tons of research and it had been a 2-3 year labor of love, knocking on agent and publisher doors. I finally published it through Online Originals, and felt pretty secure in venturing into unknown territory of ebook publishing.

At that time, OO was run as I'd hoped, and my book went through edits. I didn't have to pay for anything. Frederick Forsyth, well-known author, had some short stories published with OO so I felt as if I were in good company. Another author had been nominated for the "Booker Prize", a top literary award in the British Commonwealth and Ireland.

My disappointment came slowly, as I began to see a pattern of "buyouts" as OO changed hands many times. Even though I'd ask questions, I was always assured business would run smoothly as I'd anticipated.

Except for one thing: I never got paid. Finally, when the original owner bought back the company after two years, I was informed that he had no records from previous owners and could not validate any sales. I had all rights to my book returned to me.

Years later, I found a very flattering review from Publishers Weekly. Some day I hope to revise that book and place it with another publisher.

It made me wonder about two things: my decision to go with an epublisher and write nonfiction. I now realize that 1999 wasn't the "time" for epubs to be successful. And, writing nonfiction can be harder than writing fiction.

I began writing romance books, and struggled to "get it right". I hit all the ups and downs on my journey to publication. But, I finally figured out the right voice, style, and found a publisher. This time, I signed a contract with another ebook publisher, Ellora's Cave (Cerridwen-now Blush imprint). I carefully researched their credentials and decided I'd found the right spot for my books.

Writing romance books satisfied my need to validate my endeavors. I ignored the naysayers who "thumbed their noses" at ebooks. I looked toward the future and where technology was heading. My first romance ebook was published in 2007...and I have no regrets.

The urge to try something different again was satisfied when a friend introduced me to Tamerla Kendall, a woman who wanted to tell her story. After listening to her tales of living in Sarajevo during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, I decided to write another nonfiction book. This, too, became a 2-year endeavor (due to illnesses this time), but a very satisfying one.

While I enjoy writing romance, creating a hero and heroine and telling their journey to love, I found the challenge of creating a book based on Tamerla's real life experiences to be challenging and rewarding. Her story is full of facts and actual events, whereas fictional romance stories can be anything I want. Sticking to real-life parts of her struggle to survive living in a war zone gave me lots of insight into the woman Tamerla is.

Tamerla Kendall is the woman you see rooting for her son at sporting practice. You might meet her in a grocery story. Perhaps you’ll see her planting a garden behind her home. Or, talk to her at school or work. She’s a student, worker, wife and mother.

Surviving a dark past is hidden by her fa├žade of an everyday, average life. Reading her memoirs will reveal her true struggle to survive in a war zone, and is a testament to her courage.

As a Bosnian Croat, Tamerla lived through the carnage and chaos in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War (1992-1995). Hers is a story of courage, fear, ingenuity, and survival. Difficult choices she made then still disturb her peace of mind and life today.

She made a few trips out of Sarajevo, only to return to keep the family restaurant business operating. One carefully planned, secretive trip was made to remove her daughter from the dangers of fighting, but this created a heartbreaking rift in their relationship. For her second trip, Tamerla masqueraded as a United Nations Protection Forces soldier and rode in a tank. A uniform and travel assistance came from a Ukrainian general.

Her hopes for a return to normalcy at war’s end diminished as corruption and religious zealots took control. She married an American, and this marked her as an outcast by some she’d trusted. When her life was threatened at gunpoint, she faced a critical decision concerning her family’s safety in her beloved country.

"Guilty Survivor - Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall" will be available on 1/26 at: under their Living and Learning imprint.

Please visit my website for more information:


  1. Go for it Marianne. You need to write whatever is driving you. Best of luck.

  2. It sounds like a wonderful of survival. Thank you for writing it, Marianne.

  3. Thanks for commenting. Tamerla's strength of character and ability to survive under terrible conditions makes an amazing story.

  4. This sounds like a wonderful tale. Write what calls to you. Then it will be the best.
    debby236 at att dot net

  5. YAY for never giving up! We need to be our own cheerleaders!

  6. as always, an interesting commentary

  7. Go for it!!!! It sounds interesting and will no doubt prove to be very rewarding . . . for you and to anyone who reads it!


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