Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

Casting the Spotlight on The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (including Guest Post and Giveaway) — June 5, 2018

Casting the Spotlight on The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (including Guest Post and Giveaway)

With my recent interest in writing fiction as well as nonfiction, I may from time to time post reviews of fiction works and guest posts from fiction writers. Today represents the first of these posts. I hope you enjoy it.

Today I’m pleased to spotlight The Dan Diaries, the fourth book in The Beyond Series by author, D.D. Marx. D.D. will be joining us with a guest post plus there is a giveaway.

The Dan Diaries, Book 4 in The Beyond Series

Book Details:

Book Title: The Dan Diaries by D.D. Marx (The Beyond Series Book #4)
Category: Adult Fiction; 200 pages
Publisher: Beyond Dreams Publishing
Release date: April 6, 2018



Book Description: 

Dan Sullivan was the best friend of Olivia Henry when his life was taken in a tragic car accident. Shocked to be on the other side, Dan navigates his way by learning his new role in eternal life. His first assignment is as Olivia’s guardian angel. He has the crucial role of guiding her to her pre-defined destiny. Dan’s death throws Olivia into a tail-spin which causes her to veer way off course. He understands the enormity of the challenge when he hears the mechanism by which he can communicate. He’s only allowed to use signs and symbols to get her attention and cannot interfere with her free-will.

Every time he thinks he’s close, something throws her off track. He’s forced to start over by convincing her to trust in their enduring, unbreakable bond. Olivia can feel Dan’s presence but is still reluctant to believe the messages he’s sending. She is fearful of falling in love again at the risk of losing another soulmate. Can Dan persuade her to trust in his love from afar so she can finally receive the happiness she truly deserves?

Buy the Book Here:
Guest Post by D.D. Marx

Where do you even begin when writing a novel?

This is such a loaded question. I mean, who thinks they can sit down and write a novel that anyone would want to read let alone purchase – with actual money?  It’s overwhelming if you think about it. What’s the first line? How do you pull the reader in? Does this even make any sense? I think the biggest thing for me has been to just – write it down. No matter how pretty or perfect it is, just get it out. You can edit until your hearts content, but it needs to start somewhere. 

Remarkably, I was able to write and publish four books in three years. It’s surreal to comprehend. What got me to the end were two key things:

  1. I forced a deadline.

What I mean by that is I announced release dates. Then there was no turning back. I know how I operate and what makes me tick. I’m a procrastinator by nature. It’s how I’m wired. I’ve been like this my whole life – in school, at work and in life. It’s just how I am built. I do my best work under pressure. I knew if I didn’t have a looming timeline, I would choose everything else but writing my book. This single rule got me from hopes and dreams to published author.

  1. I pretended I was writing it just for kicks.

Writing is an intimidating prospect. It’s subjective. The same story can be told a million different ways. How it is perceived is all in the reader’s interpretation. How do you pretend to know what is good? What will resonate? What’s interesting or captivating? I just sat down and told my story like I was talking to a friend.  I didn’t do any reading during the writing process because I didn’t want to get anyone else’s voice in my head.  Writers can have endless cycles of churn if they think too much. “I should say it like this”, “Wait, no, this is much better”, “Oh, but I want to use this word” or “I want to elicit this emotion.” Every single word becomes an obsession if you overthink it. That’s when all the doubt sets in. Most of writing process entails trust and a gut feel followed by strong editing. Success is the ultimate reward but never guaranteed.

My advice to any new author is to dive in, with both feet, into the deep end. Pretend your words will never see the light of day. Don’t create expectations and it will all flow more naturally. 

Meet the Author:

D.D. Marx is a contemporary romantic fiction writer and blogger. Marx is a graduate of the University of Dayton, as well as the Second City program in Chicago, where she currently resides. A proud aunt and self-described hopeless romantic, Marx has always had a knack for humorous and engaging storytelling. Her pen name is a dedication to her beloved friend Dan, who continues to guide and inspire her in her daily life.

Connect with the Author:
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Pinterest 


Enter the Giveaway!
Ends June 16, 2016
1st Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 paperback books total) and a Shine Bright Journal (open to USA only / 1 winner)

2nd Prize: Win the complete Beyond series (4 ebooks total / open int’l / 2 winners)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back — October 27, 2017

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

A Little Background

We’ve all heard this phrase or used it when frustrated by circumstances which push us away from progress. Are you familiar with the origin of the phrase?

Two steps forward one step back…is a catchphrase reflecting on an anecdote about a frog trying to climb out of a water well; for every two steps the frog climbs, it falls back by one step, making its progress arduous.

The phrase is sometimes cynically rearranged to ‘One step forward, two steps back…’ to reflect a situation where, seemingly for every attempt to make progress in a task, an actual retrograde performance is achieved. The phrase One Step Forward, Two Steps Back was used as a title of a 1904 revolutionary pamphlet by Vladimir Lenin.

Instead of quoting this phrase (‘Two steps forward one step back…’) sometimes it is summed up with the briefer exclamation of “Frog in a well”.[1] This tale should not be confused with another tale with a different meaning, but also sometimes titled Frog in a well, which refers to having seemingly small aspirations in comparison with compatriots.[2][3][4]

— Source: The Free Dictionary by Farlex

(For the full listing in The Free Dictionary, please use this link.)

Did I Bore You With That Story?

All of the above is shared to set the stage for sharing something that may shock some, surprise many, and make others among you smile.

As I’ve mentioned before, I contacted 1106 Designs about the possibility of working with their staff on preparing my memoir for publishing. Before that could happen, however, I felt a need to restructure my manuscript. It did not feel right. The perspective in which my mom is shown isn’t a fair one, in my opinion, and I wanted to correct that.

The more I thought about picking up those pages and cutting them up to tape them into new homes, perhaps even in another chapter, I could not bring myself to touch that project.

It didn’t help that when we returned from a weekend getaway the first weekend in October I felt under the weather for approximately two weeks, a time providing me with the opportunity to make a clear decision.

I consulted with others who have written memoir, talked with my best friend and husband, and then prayed. It was a big step I would be taking. I needed to know I had gathered the best of the best around me to consider this decision.

The News

I have decided to temporarily shelve my memoir and think on what I want to do with it later. In the meantime, I have decided to try my hand at fiction.

For some time, I have been toying with an idea. And a different view is indeed needed from my writing seat. This idea involves working on a historical novel set at the turn of the 19th century.

At this time, the orphanage system in our country was large and desperately needed. No welfare system existed to care for children without homes and often without parents. My father was one of those children. His widowed mother made the decision to admit her three children (two sons and a daughter) to the Masonic Orphanage in Louisville, KY.

I would like to share my father’s story but do not have enough accurate historical information throughout his childhood and adolescence to do a biography so I’m turning to the historical novel. 

Excitement is in the air as I begin to research the orphanage system and continue my attempts to learn more about my father’s family history. You’ll learn more as I know more.

In essence, this means that The Writing Studio is no longer focused only on memoir and creative nonfiction. I’ll be writing more about fiction as I make my way through the writing of my novel while hopefully maintaining a balance between the various genre.

Guest Post: Embracing Christian Themes While Writing Afta-U by Author, Jennifer Lynn Kenniston — February 11, 2016

Guest Post: Embracing Christian Themes While Writing Afta-U by Author, Jennifer Lynn Kenniston

It is my pleasure to take part in Jennifer-Lynn Kenniston’s WOW! Blog Tour for her début novel, Afta-U

Today Jennifer will be sharing her thoughts and insights on embracing Christian themes while writing a Christian novel. Her post is honest and provides us with a look inside her emotions as she wrote Afta-U.

Welcome, Jennifer!



I am going to be honest here: when I began writing the first draft of Afta-U, I wasn’t writing it with an audience in mind. It was a personal book, something I had to write. Simply put, it was a life-long dream of mine to write a full-length novel, and I had to build up the confidence in myself that I could actually do it. So, I had no problem initially embracing writing Christian themes for this first draft, since some of the themes registered deep inside of me even though the story itself was fictional.

But then I finished writing the first draft.

And for a fleeting moment after I finished writing this first draft, my initial joy turned to fear. I began to panic and question if writing these Christian themes throughout this novel would discourage readers from reading it. It was then that my friend, Lisa, said to me: “Do you know what the number one best-selling book of all time is? Well, let me tell you: it’s the Bible! And over 5 billion copies have been sold.”

I smiled. I needed to hear that reminder. I also discovered my niche audience. It was the Christian reader. A few of the prevalent Christian themes in Afta-U, are ones that I’m still personally working to achieve as my novel is released into the mainstream. For example the idea of “Let Go Let God.” Like Jean, I often find myself trying to control situations and I still struggle to release and have faith in leaving it all up to God and His plan. There are other powerful themes mixed into the story, such as the idea of forgiveness for oneself and others, and being present in the now and not trapped in the past or future.

When I began the editing for my début novel, I did tone down some of the Christian themes and scenes, but I was determined not to be deterred from writing these. Instead I was going to embrace these themes and do so without forcing them onto the reader and taking away from the enjoyment found in reading the story itself.

When I finished the multitude of drafts and editing, I realized that, yes, the audience would be these Christian readers, but perhaps those non-Christian readers would actually enjoy the book and who knows, there could be that one reader who might need to either connect or reconnect with their faith, and perhaps they will decide to do so, after they have finished reading and put down Afta-U.

Thank you, Jennifer, for joining my readers and me today to share your thoughts and feelings on what, for me at least, is an area of interest and one filled with many questions. For those of us wanting to include a Christian theme in our work, whether it is fiction or nonfiction, these are issues to be vetted on a personal level like so many others.



Michael’s smile broadened. “It seems you’re surprised to see me, Jean. Don’t tell me you thought that they’d leave an eleven-year-old boy locked away forever.”

Twenty-nine years after the tragic death of her childhood best friend, Hope, Jean Cartwright Rhodes returns to her hometown with her husband and daughter after she inherits the house her friend’s family once lived in. Now, years later, she finds herself haunted by a dark truth – and by the specter of Hope herself.

Every time Jean looks through her kitchen window, she sees two stark reminders of her troubled past; the Afta-U sailboat, ironically named after young Hope, and the old oak tree where her eleven-year-old friend met her death at the hands of another child.

Afta-U unfolds as a psychological chess match, a complex web of intrigue, unexpected relationships, lies, and devastating secrets as Jean struggles with the impact of decisions she made long ago on all the lives around her. When Jean confronts and tries to come to grips with Hope’s killer, she finds herself waging a personal battle between madness and redemption.



Raised in Hanson, Massachusetts, the author earned a Master of Arts degree in English, from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy, from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire. Jennifer-Lynn currently works as a project manager for a company that provides cloud software products for call centers at small, medium, and enterprise companies. In April 2014, she started her own business, Ansel Resume Resolution Services LLC, writing resumes and cover letters. She now lives and writes in Concord, New Hampshire, and enjoys teaching Spinning classes in her free time.



 Perhaps you have considered a Christian theme in your memoir or novel, and further you have questioned whether using such themes is going to help or hurt you as a writer. If so, maybe you’d like to share a bit about how you rationalized your final choice. Let’s talk!

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