New Interview with Inspirational Romance Author MaryLu Tyndall

I love discovering new authors – well, new to me anyway. And, when I do find someone whose work is inspiring and enjoyable, I always want to know more about why they write what they do. I found a gem in MaryLu Tyndall and she graciously granted me an interview. Enjoy!

MaryLu, what got you started writing? How long have you been writing? And, are you doing it full time?

Actually, it was an act of God that got me started writing!  I had always had an
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interest in writing and often dabbled in it throughout my life, but marriage, kids, and a full-time job prevented me from pursuing it as a career. One day, God told me write a novel about a Christian pirate. I kid you not. I knew it was Him speaking to me because the idea was so ludicrous. Anyway, long story short, I did, and that became my first published novel, The Redemption. By the way, getting a first novel published so quickly was also a miracle, especially when only 4% of submitted novels ever get published.  That was 17 novels and 13 years ago! Currently I write part time while I care for my grandkids.

Note from MJ: I just finished The Redemption and I had no idea it was her first novel. We should all have a first novel that is that good. :-)

Some of your novels add a fantasy element to the Christian element. I would suspect some of your hardcore Christian readers might be reluctant to accept that. Have you had any blowback, or has reception been generally good?

Good question. I assume you are talking about Tears of the Sea, my mermaid
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romance. Yes, I did get some negative comments from some of my readers. Some wondered why I would dare write such a thing, others refused to read it. I have no doubt I lost some loyal readers when I released that book.  People are entitled to their opinions, but I believe if they had given it a chance, they would have seen the true meaning of the story. However, for the most part, it was well received.   

Note from MJ: I loved Tears of the Sea. Not too many romance authors even attempt allegory. When they do, the characters can easily come across as trite instead of allegorical. You can read my review here.

What do you read in your spare time?

Everything! I don’t stick to just one genre.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction. I love suspense too. But for the most part, I read historical romance.

Many of your books—maybe all, but I haven’t read them all yet—take place on a ship. How did you learn the terminology?

Yes, exactly. I have read many many books, both fiction and non-fiction, that take place on the sea. I also have some very technical sailing manuals in my library, along with ship diagrams, etc.

Do you read other sea stories, e.g., Aubrey/Maturin, Hornblower, etc., for inspiration?

I love to watch sea-faring movies such as the Hornblower series, Master and Commander, and of course, Pirates of the Caribbean.

Do you have a favorite author either inside your genre or out?
I actually love many of the old-time authors. Two of my favorite are Georgette Heyer and Rafael Sabatini. 

Tell us about your latest work.  I believe it’s coming out soon?

Yes, She Walks inPower releases September 2nd!  I’m very excited about this

book! It’s the first in a medieval trilogy entitled Protectors of the Spear.  The spear in question is the famed Spear of Destiny, the spear that stabbed Jesus on the cross. The trilogy revolves around 3 women who are destined to keep the spear out of the wrong hands, i.e. people who want to use its power to win wars, etc.

In this first book, a lady archer who protects the spear (think female robin hood) falls in love with the knight sent to find it for the king.  It is available for preorder now at a discounted price, and you can read more about it on Amazon.  

Note from MJ: Yep, you guessed it. I have this on preorder. I may be an author, but I make a great fangirl, too. :-)

How would you compare it to your previous works? Does it explore some new boundaries, or would you say readers familiar with your other writings will easily recognize your approach?

It definitely explores new boundaries.  My heroine possesses the spiritual gift of discernment, which gives her the power to see into the spirit realm.  She sees both demons and angels and also the light of God inside someone’s soul. 

I’ve noticed you have a lot of your books available on Kindle Unlimited. Why did you decide to go that route?

Kindle Unlimited is a great way to introduce my work to readers who wouldn’t normally pick up one of my books.  It’s also really nice for those readers who can’t afford to buy a book or who don’t want to take a chance on buying a book they won’t like.  I’ve only recently put several of my titles in Unlimited, and already I’ve had thousands and thousands of page reads. To me, that’s worth its weight in gold because it’s more important to me that people are reading my books and hopefully drawing closer to God through them, than it is for me to make money.

I’ve heard a lot of authors complain about losing royalties through Kindle Unlimited. I’m wondering if they aren’t overly optimistic about how their books would do if they sold them outright at the going prices. Without my prying too much, how do you feel you’ve done financially through Kindle Unlimited vs. if you had not taken this path.

Yes, I’m losing royalties, no doubt. But so far it seems that the money I make on page reads is more than making up for it. Time will tell, however. I do plan on pulling my books out of Unlimited eventually because some of my readers only purchase them from ITunes or Barnes and Noble.

If you'd like to learn more about MaryLu and her work, you can visit her Amazon page here.

Beta readers wanted

Round one of my beta read cycle is complete. Special thanks to fellow romance author Joyce DiPastena for her incredible feedback and time and attention to detail. Thanks to her efforts, it feels like I've really taken the story up a notch. I'll be sending the manuscript through another round with my proofer, so there's still time for a few more beta readers. If your interested, just send me an email at

Here's a little more details about the process as well as the piece so you can decide if being a beta reader is right for you.

Working Title: The Kiss of a Stranger.

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: Approx. 60,000 words

Expected completion date: May/June 2016

Heat Level: Clean, but as the name implies there is definitely kissing. (This is my first foray into clean romance so would really like to have a few beta readers who are old hands with that genre.)

Setting: 1774, Pre-Revolutionary War. Wilmington, DE.

Background: The story is about the romance between two people who, while practically neighbors, could not come from more different worlds. She is from a leading loyalist family but has a soft spot for the cause. He is a reluctant rebel who desires peace above all else. When someone decides to make an example of her, he becomes her unwitting protector as they work together to expose the real culprits.

What I am NOT looking for: Although I will have gone through the manuscript dozes of times, it will not have gone through final proofing stages, so I expect there will be typos here and there. However, I'm not looking for proofers. I have a guy who is a genius at commas, grammar, etc., who takes over at the pre-production stage.

What I am looking for: Generally, I want to know if the story engages you. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
— Did the first chapter make you want to keep reading?
— Despite being a clean romance, was there sizzle/chemistry between the hero and the heroine?
— Were the characters likable?
— Did you find secondary characters engaging? (Some of these characters may show up in future novels.)
— Were there times when the characters' motivations were unclear or they seemed to be acting out of character?
— Were there places where the story sagged?
— Did the ending leave you satisfied?

Clearly, you do not have to answer all of these questions. Even one or two would be helpful. And, even if you volunteer to be a beta reader, you are under no obligation to submit anything. I know what it's like to want to do something, but then never find the time to do it!

Again, to sign up, fill out the form at the right and note in the comment field that you would like to be a beta reader. (I have 2 forms on this page and the blogger widget does not separate responses.) If you would like to receive only a first chapter to see if the story is right for you, just make a note of that in the comments, too.



Why I Love Kindle Unlimited

It’s hard to believe, but Kindle Unlimited (KU) was launched only a short two years ago. It feels like authors and readers have been complaining about it for a lot longer than that. For authors, it’s usually about royalties. For readers, it’s about the availability of books they want to read. Being both an avid reader and an author, I was, needless to say, a skeptic.

I finally subscribed to KU this spring, and I’m close to being a raving fan. This is something of a leap for me, because skepticism is my natural state, especially when it comes to subscription services. But, let me share why I’ve been so happy with KU so far.

I would not recommend KU to anyone who is not an avid reader. (But I’m not sure I know anybody who isn’t an avid reader.) I probably read 3-5 books a month. The prices usually range from about $3 up to $16, so I’d put my average cost at about $5-6 a book. To break even on KU, I only need to read a couple of these books a month.

Of course, you’re not going to break even as quickly if 99 cent novels are all you ever read. But, if that’s your thing, I’m guessing you read even more novels a month that I do, so your breakeven point may be just as easy to reach.

Availability of titles
It’s true. You’re not likely to find the latest best sellers on KU, but then I tend not to read the latest best sellers. I like what I like, and it’s usually not what everybody else likes.

What I can find on KU are quality authors that I might not have tried if I had to shell out $5 or more for someone I had never heard of. (Not to say that they aren’t well known. They just aren’t well known to me.) Here are a few authors I’ve discovered specifically because they had at least one title on KU: MaryLu Tyndall, Tamara Leigh, Robert Masello.

Quality of titles
I’ve also heard it said, many times, that KU only has self-published authors whose works are of questionable quality. There’s no doubt that there are a number of them out there. I would guess that for every book I finish, I probably download three or four. The great thing is that I can try the author out without worrying about doing any due diligence. (I used to spend tons of time combing through reviews.) If, after a few pages, I find it’s not my cup of tea, I set the book aside, and I’m not out anything but a few minutes of time.

Over the years, I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on books that I would rather have tossed into the trash bin than finished. (Just because a book has hundreds of 5 star, raving reviews, does not mean it’s actually good, if you know what I mean.) But, because I paid out good money, I often read to the end. That’s time I will ever get back. Plus, those of you who are writers understand the dangers in reading poorly written books. Bad writing is contagious.

So, from an avid reader’s point of view, I can’t see how one could lose by subscribing to KU. But, how about from the author’s point of view?

I may not be the best judge of this as I’m not trying to make a living writing novels. (I make my living writing; just not romance novels.) But, it seems to me that there is an advantage to KU for the struggling/just-starting-out writer as well. If you can get your work in front of more people, that’s a good thing, right? And, unlike giving away a sample work for free, you get paid when someone reads your book. In fact, they don’t even have to read all of it, and you still get paid. (Last I heard, the subscriber had to read at least 10%, and then the author earns royalties based on the total number of pages read even if the reader doesn’t finish the book.)

I have only one book on KU, but if it were up to me, I would put all of them there. However, it’s not. That decision is my publisher’s, and I’m sure they have a method to their madness. But what say you? Is KU a reader’s/author’s dream come true, the bane of your existence, or somewhere in between?


Review: First Impressions

Genre: Historical romance
Subgenre: clean read
Author: Elizabeth Johns, @ejohnsauthor

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Ready to try a new author, but not ready to commit hours of your life? Here’s your chance. As I write this review, First Impressions is a free read on Amazon. 

It’s been awhile since I reviewed anything from Elizabeth Johns, but I do enjoy her writing. If you’re in the mood for a regency romance, but not one that feels like its ripped straight out of Pride and Prejudice, I encourage you to give her a try. (Side note: Ms. Johns professes to be a fan of Austen, but there is a great deal of difference between emulating a style and trying to recreate the same stories over and over.)

For a summary of the story, read some of her other reviews. It’s been summarized thoroughly on Amazon, so I’ll just share what I thought about certain aspects of the story.

Some of the characters were fairly standard fare, e.g., the prerequisite pushy mother who encourages her daughter to play dumb in order to attract a mate. The heroine, Helena, a smart woman who preferred reading Greek classics to engaging in more traditional feminine past times. But, both of these characters, especially the heroine, were highly likable and the fact that we’ve “met” them before did not detract.

I found the hero’s character very appealing. He was a widower with a child. Maybe it’s just me, but I love heroes who have children. I know that’s been done before, too, but it’s one of those themes that really appeals to me. His former wife was a beautiful, but cold woman who was fairly ego-centric. Thankfully, Ms. Johns doesn’t go into too much back story – just enough to explain why the hero is reluctant to fall for another beautiful woman.

All in all, it’s a quick, enjoyable read. Unlike I lot of novellas, it felt complete. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was a novella until I started reading the other reviews. No wonder I finished it so quickly!