The Runaway Train: Now A Bestseller!!



I’m pleased to announce that my book “The Runaway Train” has hit a Bestsellers list on Amazon!  The book is listed as one of the top short mystery reads, and I am very proud of that little story.  Thanks to everyone who decided to check out Montana Marrenger’s first mystery!

In other exciting news, The Truth About Alex should be completed this weekend. It didn’t go according to plan, exactly, because I wanted to have the book released before Christmas.  The holiday season proved to be as busy as ever, not to mention that the story had to undergo a little bit of a surgery.  Yes, writers are also surgeons.  

It’ll go immediately to Betas, then the editor (C.H. Hart), proofreader, cover artist, and then finally, hopefully, it will be beaten into some sort of thing that is legible and interesting.

Writing and Parenthood

ImageHello my crazy writing friends!  So, it’s been about a month since my last posting (terrible, I know) and you should all know that I am indeed still alive.  The pic above should help you to understand what I’ve been up to the most lately.  She was born 9.8 pounds, has a pair of lungs like a banshee, and the sweetest little smile that warms my heart on these surprisingly cold fall days.  There hasn’t been much progress on the novel since her birth, and I hear that is something that should be expected.  J.C. tells me that things should return to normal, and that I will be writing again soon enough.  I certainly hope so, of course.  It’s a good thing that at 2 months old, this little one is already sleeping through the night. 

Speaking of J.C. Hart, anyone who follows this blog or my related Twitter account should check out her blog and when possible, her published work.  She’s a really great writer, and friend, so turn your peepers over to the left hand column, scroll through the list of names until you find hers, and enjoy.

Now, I wanted to say that the novel has not been totally neglected during this period of my life.  Some of you know that the book has two story lines throughout that take place at different time periods.  I’ve well over 20k written on the investigation story arc, and have found a good pausing place to delve into the other.  It follows our mysterious killer at a young age, and tells how this person came about and what the circumstances were in his/her life that lead to the novels conclusion.  It’s been an interesting adventure, writing about a child, and I’ve had to shift my focus and style to accommodate the person’s age. 

I’m only around 2 thousand words into it, but at least I’ve found time to do so.  That being said, writers who are also parents of small children, certainly have their hands full.  There are times of doubt, times that I feel as though this book will never be finished by my deadline, but luckily I have some good friends that encourage me to believe otherwise. 

Now, it’s time to go change a diaper.  Have a productive day, and write on!



Whenever I write, there generally has to be a specific mood and atmosphere that I have to settle into.  As a parent, that comes with a bit more difficulty.  It amazes me how set in our ways we can become sometimes, and it was pretty apparent when my six year old daughter decided that she wanted my attention for the entire day…again. 

I realized that she didn’t actually want me to play with her, but that she just wanted to be around me.  So, I let her play in my office.  It wasn’t difficult to get into the swing of things when I decided to be brave enough to write with all of her distractions.  The thing is, however, is that I wasn’t distracted at all.  As a matter of fact, I spat out two thousand words while she carefully arranged a puzzle into something resembling an elephant near my chair.  It was something that I had to think about.  Is all of the preparation, mood, atmosphere, etc. just a myth?  Is it a crutch or an excuse?  Is any of it necessary at all?  

I wonder.

A Delicate Balance

There is a delicate balance that must be maintained when writing anything of considerable length.  In my case, a mystery novel with more than a handful of characters that weave in and out of the story itself.  Remembering that these are not cookie cutter television investigators, and that I am attempting to make them as lifelike as possible, this process can be a daunting challenge without a tedious array of notes to accompany my sessions.  Peoples actions are most often motivated by the things that are happening in their daily lives, and my investigators certainly have their own lives and demons to contend with while attempting to tackle a heartbreaking homicide. 

Today, I plan on visiting the hospital and birthing center with my wife, and then going for a good jog.  Afterward, it would be good to refocus my energy on the book.  The scene in particular involves a person that my main character knew when she was a teenager, and this person brings back a rush of memories about her sister’s mysterious death, among other things.  I also have to get my character out of the hotel and into her father’s house.  This shouldn’t be too daunting a task, unlike trying to shift away from the somber tone of the story.  Even though it’s over 20,000 words so far, I know that the story and investigation are just beginning, and I’d rather not subject my readers to a suffocatingly depressing atmosphere.  Things should lighten up before long, but this is a homicide that they are dealing with. 

Well, I suppose that I should get ready to take on this day. 

Writers are Murderers Too

What do your characters mean to you?  Do you hold them close to your heart?  Does that make them unbreakable?  The viewpoint of the reader may differ from your own.  If you strive to make a character mean something, don’t be afraid to off them gangster style.

You read that right.  Put a bullet in their perfectly designed features, roll them up in plastic, throw them into a lake.  Sometimes you have to be ruthless, an angry god, to make the reader gasp or weep for what you have created.  When it comes to writing, push the boundaries.  Write what you are afraid to write, do what you feel you shouldn’t do sometimes.  In the end, your readers will hate and love you for it.

Keep the reader guessing helplessly, and don’t be afraid to break a few hearts in the process.

Mapping and Reading

Yeah, the above pretty much sums up what I’ve been up to other than homework.  Mapping out my two novels and rearranging scenes before they are written is the name of the game, so I haven’t been doing much writing in them of late.  Sometimes I wish that I could storyboard them, but in a way what I’m doing is kind of the same thing.  As far as reading goes, I’ve picked up The Dark Tower series, as well as a suggestion from J.C. Hart.

I appreciate it, J.C. Hart.

So, nothing extremely fascinating going on, and on that note I have a message for the readers of this blog.  I do not plan, and have never intended, to dutifully sit down at my desk and spill forth the details of my life each day onto this page.  Posting what I want when the desire rises would be a proper description of my intentions on this blog.  Instead of dishing out a thousand words or more a day onto WordPress, as an author and storyteller, I feel more obliged to place my words and time onto the pages of my actual work.  So, if I have offended anyone by not posting obsessively or even what you might consider regularly, I do apologize.  Just trust that I know where my time is best spent.


Temporal Distortion

Very much a fan of Bear McCreary’s work, I stumbled across this video today that he posted on his blog.  He does the music for stuff like The Walking Dead, and Battlestar Galactica.  The music is an original piece specifically for the project that he collaborated on with Temporal Distortion.  This is a perfect thing to gaze at in wonder before writing.  It awakens the imagination.

I honestly find this video to be stunning.  His work certainly stands out in The Walking Dead, and the theme gets stuck in my head sometimes, but this is much different.  It evokes a sort of tranquility.  The video is time lapsed, and every second of it is 100% authentic.

What sort of things do you do that stirs your imagination, and brings you to that place where you can walk alongside your characters?  Comments are welcome.

The importance of Publishing Credits

Considering that nobody exactly wanted to comment on my last post, I’ll just throw a new topic out here.  Are publishing credits vitally imperative to landing that contract?  I would assume that they would certainly help, but one would hope that a publisher or agent didn’t go by that information alone.  The content of your story, the quality of writing, and the fact that your novel is something new and fresh should be enough right?

You’d like to think that.  Most people submit queries that never even get looked at.  The infamous slush pile is larger than the agented one.  My perspective is that unless your credits include something outstanding, such as  “I wrote the script for the last two James Cameron films,” or “Hi, my name is Brian Herbert,” then it isn’t all that impressive.  There’s certainly no harm in putting what you can in there, right?  Magazines, newspapers, websites.  I’m sure that they would help, but they won’t be the determining factor.  What do you think?

Novel Writing Made Easy

JesseJamesAvatar-1As an author, I admittedly started off with a typewriter.  I hated the damned thing, too.  Then I moved on to the PC.  It was very nice, and quite an upgrade from the frustrating machine before it.  Then, I made my favorite purchase: A new laptop.  It’s fully equiped with Microsoft Office 2007 as well as a nifty little program called One Note.  One note is great for storing little notes and things of that nature.

However, I recently came across a program, which I purchased by the way, called MyNovel.  It is far superior to Office and One note as far as writers are concerned, because of the simple fact that everything you need and would want when writing your novel is right there in front of your face.

Sure, when you first open the program it looks kinda like Office.  Don’t be deceived, however.  One of the most fascinating aspects of this software is the ability to make a story template, change the details of your novel, add diagrams, events, characters, places, objects and even check progress/completion like the little tracker thing on my site.  You can find inspiration for characters and places, change the color scheme, view a list of publishers and agents (in the UK mind you), and best of all… you never have to stare at a blank page.  It keeps track of all of your characters to the left of the screen with detailed descriptions of them, and clicking another tab will do the same for individual chapters with ease of access.

Mynovel has a very easy to use interface, and you will find yourself planning and mapping out your book with diagrams that will make you look at every aspect of your novel in more detail.  You guys should check it out!  There’s a free demo of it at

MyNovelMenu4 - Workspace4 - Workspace

I know I sound like some lame advertiser Merilee, but I find that the software is very useful for novelists.  I apologize to you guys for not being around in a while, but now that things are wrapping up in my new book I am going to attempt to make at least two posts here a week.