Destiny Defied, An Interview with Author J.A. Marx

Today is the first in a new series I call Friday Feature. I thought it would be fun to interview authors and find out what their publication journey was like and wanted to offer them a free tool for marketing their debut book. Friday Feature will appear every third Friday of the month and will be a much longer post than I normally publish. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read.

This month I’ve interviewed J.A. Marx, author of Destiny Defied, volume one of The Destiny Series, which released April 18, 2013 from Write Integrity Press.

Welcome to the blog, J.A., where passion and purpose meet. Congratulations on the publication of your first book! Let’s dive right in.

Debra: How long did it take to write your book?

J.A. Marx, author of Destiny Defied

J.A. Marx, author of Destiny Defied

J.A.: The original version took 9 months (2001). And then I learned how to write. The basic story stayed the same, but it went through a mega amount of editing. Plus I was homeschooling and that took precedence.

Debra: I love your honesty and humor! Much of what I wrote before I learned the craft is packed away in a box never to see the red of an editing pen. At what point in writing your book did you begin to look for publishers?

J.A.: I sought publishers from the very beginning. But once I learned a thing or two about writing—and realized my work was not publishable—I backed off for a while. Once Destiny actually met industry standards, I altered the angle of my pitch and the first editor to read it bought it. All aspects of the craft needed to be aligned, and that lesson took a decade for me to learn.

Debra: That’s a journey worthy of another post, J.A. I hope you’ll consider doing a guest post for me about industry standards. How did you choose the publishers you queried?

J.A.: Research. Finding agents and editors who had an interest in supernatural suspense was like digging for gold in a fishbowl. My wonderful critique group leader, author Lena Nelson-Dooley, actually connected me with Write Integrity.

Debra: How wonderful to have a published author such as Lena Nelson-Dooley in your critique group. Her work is on my bookshelf. Did you meet with acquisition editors via writer’s conferences? If so, how did that go?

J.A.: Yes. That is the best way to meet the right people. Speaking in person to editors and agents helps you realize they are real people. They make a living off good books, and they truly want you to be the author they’re seeking. Showing professionalism and courtesy goes a long way. They will remember you.

Debra: When the publisher asked for a book proposal, what did they want the proposal to include? Was it difficult to write?

J.A.: Best advice: read the submission guidelines on their website. For Destiny Defied, since I had an inside connection (recommendation from a published author), I skipped the usual query letter and sent a full proposal with a cover letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters.

The Christian Writers Guild’s elite Craftsman course prepared me to pitch my novel with competence and put together a winning proposal that included a marketing plan. My Craftsman mentor, DiAnn Mills, offered a lot of input on the proposal I sent to Write Integrity.

Debra: DiAnn Mills, another successful author. You’re very fortunate to have such strong authors supporting you. Give us a general run down on the process once your book was accepted.

J.A.: October 2012, contract signed.
January 2013, publisher began the editing process. (My editor also sent a To Do list, otherwise I would’ve been lost: set up blog tours; create a press release; prepare promotional announcement, etc.)
February – I received the edited version and made the minor changes they requested.
Mid-February – I received the final product for one last review (by then I was sick of the story. LOL).
April 18, release.

Debra: Time between acceptance and publication varies widely between publishers. Yours was quick, but I’m sure the waiting process was just as grueling. When you received your contract did you have it reviewed by a lawyer or was it straight forward and easy to understand?

J.A.: Thankfully, the contract was straight forward. I had only one question that was easily clarified via email.

Debra: What specifics did the contract cover?


  • Exclusive rights to the first three books in the series.
  • First Right of Refusal on the second trilogy in the series.
  • Delivery dates and pub dates for each book.
  • Copyright info.
  • Royalty info.
  • Other minor legal stuff.

Debra: Do you have any advice for other writers concerning contracts?

J.A.: Read it thoroughly. If it’s not straight forward and you’re not agented, find a lawyer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You have rights.

Debra: Did you work with an editor from the publishing house during the publishing process? If so, how did that go?

J.A.: I want an editor that loves my story as much as I do, and I found her. We’re on the same page. We had one or two areas of disagreement regarding the actual edits, but those were easily resolved. I love my editor, and I consider Tracy a friend.

Debra: There was a day when the publisher handled all the marketing of their books. Today, authors do a lot of their own marketing. How much of the marketing of your book are you expected to handle?

J.A.: I work with a small pub house, so she expects a lot of me. And that’s fine. I took her advice and did everything I possibly could and learned a ton along the way. It’s Tracy’s hope that all her authors cross-promote, which is awesome. But I think we need to work on that, organize better perhaps.

Debra: What did you find was the worst thing to deal with in the publishing process? What was the best?

J.A.: The worst: Stepping into the Great Unknown of marketing was very unsettling. I didn’t feel equipped to promote Destiny Defied. I needed lots of encouragement from my editor and from a couple of other authors who’ve been around the block already; their confidence rubbed off.

The best: Editing (which I love) and the Facebook party promo were highlights.

Debra: What advice do you have for writers concerning finding and gaining a publisher?

J.A.: After you’ve learned the craft and your work has gone through the gauntlet with a critique group (or critique partner): attend a conference. Sign up for an appointment with an editor you’ve researched. Smile. Tell them something wonderful about their website or blog. Then passionately pitch your well-rehearsed, 1-minute, blurb. Say ‘thank you’ at the end. Then follow through with whatever they ask you to do.

Debra: What advice do you have for writers for during the process between acceptance and release?

J.A.: Before the chaos hits, write articles/blogs related to your theme so they’re ready to release as the time draws near. Also put together some character interviews for your own blog and for others. Create a press release. Set up blog tours. Practice whatever you learned in the marketing class/book. (Randy Ingermanson has helpful information, as does Chip McGregor’s blog).

Debra: Do you have a second book in the works? A publisher already lined up?

J.A.: Yes, the suspense continues. Write Integrity is releasing Destiny Delivered, volume two of The Destiny Series. September 19, 2013. I’m psyched!

Debra: Thank you so much, J.A., for being with me and my readers today. I’ve enjoyed our time together (and learned too!). I want to again extend my invitation to do a guest post here about industry standards. I know I’m interested in hearing more and I’m sure my readers are as well. I wish you God’s best for your work as you journey forward and much success for The Destiny series. Keep us posted!

J.A.: Thank you for having me on your blog, Debra. I feel very honored.

Readers leave your comments for J.A. below. She’ll be responding today only (July 19). If you’ve published your first book this year or are slated for publication next year and would like to be considered for a Friday Feature, contact me at Deb [at] DebraLButterfield [dot] com. 

Interested in purchasing Destiny Defied? Put the title into my affiliate Amazon search box in the right sidebar and you’ll help support my work in bringing you this blog. Thanks for your support!

ABOUT J.A. MARX: J.A. Marx, author/editor, resides in Texas. She has written various articles, and edits for a national healthcare e-zine. When she’s not writing, she’s working out at the gym, cooking up healthy meals, or hanging with her husband, the love of her life.

“Destiny Defied,” volume 1 in her supernatural suspense series released in April.   Volume 2 “Destiny Delivered” will release in September 2013. Check out J.A.’s website Or email her at


Destiny Defied

Destiny Defied

Trapped on a mysterious island, eighteen-year-old Riki finds refuge with four odd college boys. Isaac, the rugged EMT, insists no one else is around, but Riki cannot ignore her fear that someone is stalking her. Unless she finds a power truly great enough to overthrow Darkness, Riki will choose death over returning to captivity.

Lord Vétis, high priest of a cultic underground, will stop at nothing to reclaim the chosen one, but he must do so before her introduction to the real world ruins her royal destiny. Using black magic, he manipulates Riki and her self-assigned bodyguards, triggering a battle that consumes the entire island. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life…something she has never known.




Want to get published but don’t know where to start?

Maybe you have a finished manuscript or just an idea stuck in your head. Email me today at Deb [at] DebraLButterfield [dot] com, and let's discuss how I can help you reach your dream of publication.


  1. J.A. Marx says:

    Hi Sharon. I can say with confidence that God is a great marketer (Incidentally, His book has done quite well.). The key is to avoid striving in your own strength and instead pray and ask Him to open doors. He’ll guide you to the right resources and people. If you are eager to glorify Him, He’s twice as eager to bless that.

  2. Debra, enjoyed reading this interview. Very interesting and gave me encouragement for the journey I am on with “Generations”. The Marketing process looming before me is a bit frightening.

    • Sharon, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and that it was encouraging for you. And I totally agree with J.A.’s comments. When we put God into the equation everything flows more smoothly and is less intimidating.

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