Welcome Guest Author Maggie Tideswell!

I’m pleased to welcome guest author Maggie Tideswell to the blog today!

acm-mtideswell-release-bannerThe idea of two complete strangers getting hitched has always intrigued me, for one simple reason—why would they do such a thing? Could such a relationship succeed? By successful relationship, I understand not only the longevity of the marriage…but is it possible for the participants to actually fall in love with each other in such a strange arrangement? Love is found in the most unexpected places.

A Convenient Marriage grew over a number of years. The basic story was simple—a divorcee with two children, an ex-husband being difficult over visitation, as well as a fiancée unable to commit. Holly’s friends suggested that she needed a new husband, placing an advert in the paper for one behind her back. Joshua was struck by a simple plan when he saw the ad and responded to it.

Why would Holly marry a man she’d never met, and why would Joshua respond to an ad for a husband, then actually propose to a woman he had never clapped eyes on? So, in came the dawdling fiancée, Nicole. Both Holly and Joshua were justified in not planning the marriage to be a real one, because they each had an agenda of their own, but Nicole was the injured party. For their plan to succeed, they had to marry—the real kind, down to that all-important piece of paper married—and they had to seem to be totally in love with each other. That it is all a scam, only they would know.

And here comes the ‘but’. Holly and Joshua’s plans go awry from the moment they meet on the steps of the chapel where their fake marriage is to take place, when both recognize the immediate attraction. Back at Joshua’s wine estate—yes, he is a rich landowner where Holly expected him to be a pauper—Holly meets Joshua’s mother, his brother and sister-in-law, and Nicole, the fiancée, who found out about Joshua’s duplicity in a room full of people. No one can blame Nicole for being a tad upset. Or can they? To add to Holly’s woes, she seems to have acquired a ‘ghost’ demanding she tell a story.

Amidst Nicole’s shenanigans, Joshua’s mother’s disapproval, Holly’s ex’s aggression, and the ghost following Holly around, will these two accomplish what they set out to do? Or will life get in the way?

Joshua’s and Holly’s journey through the uncharted seas of a blind marriage, where no rules apply, is a stormy one. Place your order here:


About the Author

Maggie Tideswell lives in Johannesburg—South Africa, with her husband, Gareth. Shemom began writing when her kids were still very young, squeezing a few paragraphs at a time between the hectic schedule of raising three children, and working full time in the catering industry. She wrote many books before considering having them published. Now that the children have all made lives for themselves, there is more time for writing.


After much experimentation, Maggie writes passionate paranormal romance, of varying levels of heat. The paranormal, things that happen for which there are no logical explanations and ghosts are of particular interest to Maggie. What events in a person’s life would prevent that person from ‘resting’ after death? The ‘Old Religion’ is another special interest. And love, of course. Why do people fall in love? What keeps them together for a lifetime when so many relationships fail?

Maggie’s advice to aspirant novelists is two-fold. Never give up, and write every day. Writing is a craft that has to be honed with practice. And the only way to practice writing is by doing it. And a bonus, never stop reading your favorite genre. Reading it and writing it is the only training for a writer.


“Maggie Tideswell’s latest novel, A Convenient Marriage, will have you turning pages as her characters cope with a marriage of convenience, well-meaning but nosy friends, a meddling ghost, jealous exes, and more. My advice: Make room on your Keepers shelf for this story!” (Loree Lough, best-selling author of 107 award-winning books, including Harlequin Heartwarming’s “Those Marshall Boys” series.)

Please leave any comments or questions for Maggie below.


The other day, a discussion about ‘high concept’ broke out on one of the published author loops I belong to. It seemed that some writers were getting confused between a well-written logline or pitch (which should succinctly showcase your high concept) and the high concept itself.

Let me explain.

The best explanation of high concept I have ever seen was a guest blog post on Writers Digest by Jeff Lyons. You can read his whole post here: Writers Digest – 7 Qualities of High Concept Stories

jawsAs Jeff explains, a high concept story should have as many of the following seven elements as possible (the more of them the story has, the ‘higher’ the concept). Further to that, if your logline (one or two sentence pitch) can illustrate/evoke all the below qualities in just a few words or one-line, then huzzah, you have a high concept pitch. For instance, let’s take JAWS. Here’s the one liner that describes the high concept – Enormous, relentless shark terrorizes coastal New England town attacking victims on the 4th of July weekend. That one line evokes a powerful setting, a frightening antagonist, high stakes and a relatable protagonist (the town). Even if you had never seen the movie, a load of images immediately pop into your head, you completely understand the thrust of the story, and that’s the point of a high concept logline. Here’s how that one line fulfills all of the qualities below (I’ve put the specific Jaws example in brackets next to the quality):


1. High level of entertainment value [shark attacks amid a setting everyone can immediately understand, the beach on the 4th of July]
2. High degree of originality [a successful movie about a shark attacking had not yet been done]
3. Born from a “what if” question [what if a shark came close to land and became a lurking menace in the ocean]
4. Highly visual [ummm…teeth, fins, blood, open ocean, very visual no matter how you slice it]
5. Clear emotional focus [life and death on the line, beat the shark or die – no clearer focus than that!]
6. Inclusion of some truly unique element [the shark is big, relentless and coming back for more victims. Unlike the old horror creature flicks featuring a vampire, a mummy, or a wolf man, the shark becomes a real life monster everyone can take seriously.]
7. Mass audience appeal to a broad general audience, or a large niche market [Jaws had a premise most people could immediately relate to and the threat was to everyone on the beach, men, women, children, families. The fear became universal, no pun intended!]
8. Incredibly memorable characters [the shark itself (implies man vs. nature), Quinn, the Chief, heck even the mother who slaps him on the dock for her son getting eaten. We all remember those scenes because the characters were well…memorable.] Of course, you chiefcan’t tell what the characters in JAWS will be like from the one liner above, but once you see the movie you ‘feel’ like it was a high concept because of the memorable characters, so I always include it as the eighth element. Who hasn’t seen a movie that fell flat because the story was there, but the acting or characters sucked? Or read a book that had a great premise, but the characters were flat?

So, a high concept is not just a one-liner or this-meets-that. There are a lot of this-meets-thats that simply don’t work because in stating them they don’t fulfill enough of the eight qualities above. For instance, Rocky meets The West Wing. Ummm, what? I can’t visualize that at all. I can’t tell you what the emotional focus is. Mass audience appeal, not really. So, in my mind, it’s not just the high concept statement itself, but what eight qualities the high concept statement fulfills and evokes in the listener’s mind. In other words, not every one-liner or logline is high concept just because you can boil your story down to one sentence.

I can boil the story of my day today down to one line: Stay at home mom runs errands, juggles household tasks, and looks after children, all while dreaming of writing her next book. There, I boiled my story down to one-line but it’s hardly high concept, LOL.

aliceNow what about something like this: Peter Pan takes a holiday in Wonderland, where he becomes smitten with a young girl named Alice, only to learn he cannot stay in Wonderland or follow Alice back home, because he will grow old.

Okay so it’s not my best, but it’s got a lot more going for it than the story of my day. If done right, it would definitely have a high level of entertainment value because of the world-building, beloved characters everyone could relate to, highly visual, etc. And it’s definitely born from a what if…what if Peter Pan took a holiday in Wonderland? Clear emotional focus, sure – will the boy get the girl, even if it means giving up his most precious possession, his youth? Original, perhaps. Perhaps, not. I’m not sure if anyone’s written it yet, LOL.

Now, in my mind, no discussion of high concept would be complete without talking about the ninth ingredient, the secret sauce. If you take all eight ingredients above, stir gently and add the secret sauce you’ll have a NYT best-seller or a blockbuster movie. What is the secret sauce? Well, in the case of a book, the secret sauce is an ‘unputdownableness’ or uniqueness you can’t easily define. Perhaps it’s the writing style. Perhaps it’s the voice. Perhaps it’s the synergy of just the perfect eight ingredients being stirred together. Perhaps it’s how perfectly the eight ingredients blend and the flavors feed off one another creating a certain magic as they stew in the reader’s mind. All I can tell you is just like a good meal, if you find yourself devouring a book in one sitting, it probably had the secret sauce.

And on that note, I’m off to go start dinner because I’ve made myself hungry. Happy writing!


I’m giving away a $50 gift certificate!

If you’ve thought about doing it, now would be a great time to join my VIP author newsletter! I’m giving away a beautiful gift box filled with goodies including a $50 gift certificate to the Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast in Cape May, along with a t-shirt and coffee mug from the Angel!


The winner will be announced on Halloween October 31, 2016.

All my VIP newsletter subscribers will be entered into the drawing. However, to increase your chances of winning, each subscriber who gets a friend or relative to subscribe to my newsletter between now and October 31st gets their name put in the hat 15 more times! All you need to do is have your friend or relative email me at marloberliner@gmail.com with “subscribe me” in the email subject line and in the body of the email give me your name as the person who referred them. So for every friend or relative you refer, you get 15 more entries! Easy-peasy!

If you have any questions about the giveaway, just email me through my website and I’ll be happy to answer 🙂

(Incidentally, I’ve decided to do giveaways monthly for my VIP newsletter subscribers. Some of the giveaways will be for books, some will be for gift cards, some will be for swag, and some will be bigger than others, but all the giveaways will be loads of fun! So be sure to read your newsletters!)

You can sign up for my newsletter here: Marlo’s VIP Newsletter

By signing up you will periodically (but not too often) receive:

– News about contests and giveaways
– Sneak peeks and teasers
– Early cover reveals
– The most up-to-date book news and new releases
– Advance notice of book signings and appearances
– Special Online events for readers
– Upcoming sales and discounts on my books

Why am I doing this great giveaway? Well, first and foremost, we all know I love the Angel of the Sea, which is the setting for much of THE GHOST CHRONICLES. Secondly, I’m celebrating because THE GHOST CHRONICLES has just been named a finalist for Best First Book in the 2016 New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Contest! Winners will be announced in October at the NJRW Conference.


Stay tuned for announcements about the cover reveal, release date and pre-order date for THE GHOST CHRONICLES, Book Two!

All best,



GLBadgeFinalist_2016I am proud to announce that THE GHOST CHRONICLES is a finalist for Best First Book in the 2016 New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Contest! Winners will be announced in October at the NJRW Conference. I am over the moon at all the wonderful accomplishments and professional reviews this book is racking up. Here are just a few:

“A haunting journey that will leave readers craving more.” – Natalie Zaman, co-author of the Sirenz series and Blonde Ops

“…Berliner’s touches give her novel innovation…” and“…dramatic and paranormal elements give this winsome tale flavor.” – Kirkus

“I loved The Ghost Chronicles. Simply loved it. Billed as a young adult novel with crossover appeal for the adult crowd, this book certainly got the attention of this adult…I highly recommend this book, and look forward to reading more from the extremely promising and talented new author, Marlo Berliner, as soon as I possibly can!”  Tracy A. Fischer for Readers’ Favorite, 5-stars

“…a most beguiling, intriguing, mystery-filled adventure. With a literary nod to the movie Ghost…and a certain resonance with the Odd Thomas series by the master of the genre, Dean Koontz, the story does remind us frequently that it is intended for Young Adults. And yet, the excellent plotting, precise editing, and well-projected development of storyline all guarantee that the writing is also perfectly suitable for an Old Adult.”  Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite, 5-stars

“This is an original and thought-provoking story that will keep readers wondering and looking forward to the next book in the series. It’s highly recommended.” – Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite, 5-stars

“For teens and adults alike, The Ghost Chronicles is an unusually thoughtful and mature take on supernatural romance that deserves attention for its efforts to break away from convention, all for the better. For curious readers old and new to the genre, The Ghost Chronicles is sure to set your mind ablaze, and puts “life” back into the “afterlife.” “ – James Grimsby for Self-Publishing Review, 4.5-stars

“Berliner has crafted a fascinating world, with layers of history and mythology intertwined, and this book is just the beginning of what promises to be an epic series.” – Sarah Wathen, YA Books Central, 4.5-stars

The reader reviews have been fantastic as well and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to each and every one of you that has left me a review on Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads.


Here are just a few of the reader reviews from Amazon:

This was great. I can’t believe this is a first novel. It was well written and good for ANY age group. I thoroughly loved it. It gave a great view of ghosts and what they could be like. I look forward to reading more of Marlo’s work. – Kindle Customer, ★★★★★

A Journey Worth Taking. From the very first page I knew this was going to be a good book. I was wrong. It was fantastic! Instantly I felt a connection to the man character Michael who, obviously, dies in a most tragic way. There was never a dull moment nor was there any scrap of detail left out. Marlo built a world I could visualize in my head. One that I could relate to. There was a little love, a little mystery, a little spook but a big life lesson. This was a delightful and easy read for me as I finished it in 3 days (full-time mom & job otherwise I would have finished in one sitting). Highly recommend this book to anyone. Can’t wait for the next installment! ★★★★★

Thank you all so much!

Now back to putting the finishing touches on Book Two 🙂

All best,



tgcsmallthumbnailAs many of you know, the setting for most of THE GHOST CHRONICLES was inspired by The Angel of the Sea, an award-winning bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that I visited several years ago. This spectacular inn has been featured on several television programs and in magazines throughout the world. Most notably, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the “Best Vacations in the World” and included in her television talk show. The Angel of the Sea is one of the most recognized Victorian structures in the United States. Legend has it that in the late 1960’s, a girl fell to her death at the Angel of the Sea and did at one time, haunt the inn. The story of the girl has been included in several non-fiction books about ghosts in Cape May. My heroine in THE GHOST CHRONICLES, Sarah McConnell, was inspired by this legend.


Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast, Cape May NJ

Many people have been asking me about the legend surrounding Sarah and the haunting at The Angel of the Sea, so I thought I’d tell you the backstory about her death. News stories say that the young girl, whose real name was Sarah Brown, was an Irish exchange student rooming at The Angel of the Sea. At the time, the Angel of the Sea was undergoing renovations, so they were providing exchange students with rooms for reduced rates. Sarah, like many of the exchange students, was working as a maid for another local place, the nearby Christian Admiral Hotel, for a man named Reverend McIntire. The story goes that Reverend McIntire was a religious man and made it mandatory that all of his employees attend church. If they didn’t attend, or were late, or weren’t properly dressed for church, they could be reprimanded. So Sarah completed her shift that day at the Christian Admiral Hotel and returned to her room at The Angel of the Sea to shower and change for church. Unfortunately, she discovered she had left her keys back at work. Since she didn’t have time to retrieve the keys, still get ready and be on-time for church, she took matters into her own hands. She crawled out of a small window at the end of her hallway (second building, second floor) and attempted to shinny along the ledge to get in through the window of her own room. Apparently, she reached her window safely but had forgotten the window also had a screen. When she tried to pry the screen off it suddenly broke free, sending her tumbling to her death. It is believed she may have lay in agony for hours before succumbing to her injuries, when her lifeless body was finally discovered by a gardener.

Since the Angel of the Sea has these beautiful balconies today that wrap around the whole building, many people have asked me how a girl was able to fall from the window. The answer is simple really. The balconies weren’t there at the time, as this old photo of the Angel of the Sea illustrates. The ledge to install the balconies had recently been added around the time of Sarah’s death. If you visit the Angel of the Sea today, a large framed version of this photo still hangs in the parlor lobby.


Old photo of the Angel of the Sea which hangs in the lobby, date unknown

Over the years, guests at The Angel of the Sea have attributed a number of experiences to the girl’s playful spirit. It is said she has an affinity for electronic devices. Lamps, radios and televisions have all been known to turn on and off by themselves from time to time. Guests and staff have noticed items disappearing from one spot only to reappear mysteriously in another. Objects also fall from tables and dressers as if knocked off by unseen hands. Furniture and pictures have been seen wobbling or shaking for no explainable reason.

Most notably, the girl seems to have an aversion to locked doors. Given the fact that a locked door contributed to her death, it is not surprising that her ghost has been said to lock and unlock doors in certain parts of the inn, and in particular, the door to her own room has been found inexplicably unlocked.

The Angel of the Sea bed and breakfast truly is as beautiful and romantic and haunting as I portray it in THE GHOST CHRONICLES and I have truly fallen in love with the place and its rich history. To learn more about the Angel of the Sea you can visit their website, which includes more of that history and an interesting story about how the B&B came to be split into two buildings: ANGEL OF THE SEA

Better yet, go visit in person and fall in love with it yourself!