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Daily Inspiration: Meet Mark Jones

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Jones. 

Hi Mark, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I retired in 2017 after working in higher education finance for thirty-three years. I had written brief articles and stories over the years for fun, but after retirement, I wanted to write a novel. I’ve enjoyed reading police procedurals, historical fiction, and international intrigue stories over the years, so I came up with a detective story that includes elements of each. 

Peculiar Activities won the 2019 mystery/suspense category at the Oklahoma Writers Federation conference, where I also met an editor from the Wild Rose Press, headquartered in Rochester, New York. Serendipity, I would call it, as she lived nearby in Oklahoma City and, best of all, loved Elvis. After an initial assessment, I went to work trimming, cutting, and pasting my manuscript. In October 2020, Wild Rose Press offered me a contract, including more books in the Detective Henry Ike Pierce series. Shadowed Souls is book two of the series and will be published this coming fall, and book three, Glass, is scheduled for 2023. 

Another project has stretched me this last winter and spring. I joined a group of twelve other authors to write thirteen short stories revolving around Friday the 13th. The stories are disconnected from one another, but all are suspense/thriller/horror stories. The thirteen stories are live on Amazon as of Friday, May 13th. Mine is called A Gentleman from the Darkness and is a story of an assassin destroying the remaining resistance from the Prague Spring in 1968. As the tagline says, ‘A wolf in gentleman’s clothing seeks its prey.’ 

In the meantime, I’ve joined two writing groups and a critique group, attended writing conferences, volunteered as a judge for other writing contests, etc. I’m proof that you should never give up on a dream(s). 

I grew up in Duncan, Oklahoma, then attended the University of Oklahoma, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science and public administration. My parents divorced before I started school, but I can remember the neat old garage apartment where my mother and I lived near SMU. She worked at a bank in downtown Dallas for a year. A single mother in 1961, though, with no local support, became too much, and we moved back to Duncan. 

My wife and I have three grown children and celebrated our fortieth anniversary in November 2021. We are expecting our first grandchild in November 2022. 

I’m old school (or just old), and my favorite music includes Elvis, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Boz Scaggs, among many others. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Since my retirement, I’ve been lucky enough to have the time to write and do many other associated tasks related to getting better as a writer. The central struggle is always a lurking doubt that you will ever be a writer than anyone cares to read. Only time and experience can dispel that doubt, but it remains very real. 

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I’m very proud that I made the jump from hoping I could write a novel to actually getting published, now more than once. I enjoy reading and writing mystery/suspense stories, as well as writing a story with a paranormal thread every now and then. I’m not yet able to say what might set me apart from literally hundreds of thousands of authors on Amazon and other platforms and their millions of titles. Like any industry, you keep plowing ahead, building a customer base, and improving your product. 

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
I have many writing friends. They are the best, offering encouragement, how-to advice, and critiquing. I couldn’t have made this professional change without their help. 

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Image Credits
Tina Stout

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