Fiction / Romance / Historical
Date Published: July 26, 2022
Publisher: Elite Online Publishing
Secrets are cruel challenges.
Especially a secret God gave Sandra that not even He can accept and refuses to tolerate. Sandra is a Mormon girl, but this story is not about Mormons. It is about an explosive secret, racial bigotry, superstition, and bias toward uncommon people-a mixture with the power to transform humanity.
Humorous, thoughtful, sensual, and a gripping page-turner to the end, Sandra's Syndrome gives readers a beloved heroine at a time when humankind needs one like never before. June 8, 1978, a historic date for an entire church that attempted to end racism. For Sandra, it was the first day of battle to end separation and segregation for all special children of God ... and you won't believe the miraculous conclusion.
A love story of true-life fiction.
Can you tell us a little about the process of getting this
book published? How did you come up with the idea and how did you start?
I was moved to write Sandra’s Syndrome
after reading a novel authored by Kathy Reichs, Bones Never Lie. I
learned of an actual genetic syndrome that afflicts Sandra, the heroine of my
book. I thought of scenarios, should a person with this syndrome, like Sandra,
confront as a student at Brigham Young University, or some other religious
school. I actually encouraged English majors among my students at the university
where I taught to write a novel from the scenarios I expressed. Apparently,
none took me up on the offer. The third day after I retired as an instructor, I
began writing the novel. Seven months later, the first draft was completed. It
was a shitty piece of work. It required another seven months for feedback and
editing until the story gained true merit. Feedback, editing, revision,
restructuring, constant criticism and reformation are ongoing labors toward
publishing with no guarantees for acceptance or success of your creation.
What surprised you most about getting your book published?
Cost, time and effort. Money, not creativity or unique
storyline, is the key factor toward publishing. It is your own will to
literally pay the price, in hard dollars, for people to read and hopefully
understand what you have written. Competent writing coaches, editors, format
editors, cover designers and publishers are costly. Should hopeful writers be
unable to fund themselves or find an agent to endow the next Stephen King or Dan
Brown, the literal cost to write and fund your own self-published
stories/novels/expository literature is extreme. There are no guarantees for
recouping your costs and time. Until critical mass is achieved, and I have one
dollar more than I have spent, will I feel vindication. Odds are lesser than
Best wishes to all who wish to earn in dollars, over
and above what is paid (time and money) to write and then publish your contribution
to literature and humanity.
Tell us a little about what you do when you aren’t writing
Play softball, follow Major League Baseball, play
basketball, research subjects of interest to be included in my stories, and
waste a great deal of time. The best activities are conversations with friends
and teammates, along with hosting parties that include raucous laughter and
games. I won’t mention RumChata with a splash of Fireball. However, I wish to
say I rarely drink and never alone.
As a published author, what would you say was the most
pivotal point of your writing life?
social, political, economic or religious tenets are in opposition with
Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that
When I walk and meditate while engaging conversations
with myself, or between characters in my stories. I enjoy debating topics with
unknown adversaries, real and imaginary. I’ve debated with God . . . at least
in my mind. I ask Him/Her questions. To which, He/She responds without anger or
retribution. Some call this behavior a form of prayer. I call it reasonable dialogue.
Speechmaking is an excellent means of thought creation
and discourse. Expression and ideas, especially when done with humor.
The inspiration of a beautiful, intelligent woman is
always compelling. All conversations and exchange of words are provocative.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
That I am anti or pro something. Above all, I am pro
thinking. As stated within my storytelling of Sandra’s Syndrome,
Bertrand Russell said, “Most people would sooner die thank think; in fact, they
do so.” (Page 21) I would rather have people be reasoned thinkers than blind
followers. That includes politically, socially, religiously, academically, communally,
as well as familial. As I have advised students and others, “Think before you
What has been your best accomplishment as a writer?
It has yet to happen. I’ll let you know when it does.
However, should someone laugh out loud, or shed a tear while reading words I’ve
written, I’ll do cartwheels down Main Street of my home community.
While reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor
Hugo, I threw the book to the floor in anger when Frollo allowed Esmeralda to
be hanged. Should my book to be thrown because of my words, I would smile.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
is the first of three novels that tell the stories of principal characters
introduced in the inaugural text. The second novel is half-finished. The third
novel is outlined.
I have three expository manuscripts, of which two are complete,
but need final editing. The third is half-finished.
My final goal before death is to complete a time-line novel
comprised of significant and relevant family stories. Likely a possible
R-rating for this narrative. Two chapters are concluded of a possible ten.
About the Author
Mark Merkley is an author and retired university instructor. He has a MA and BA in Organizational and Interpersonal Communication from Brigham Young University. Mark was trained formally as a technical writer and has recently delved into the world of creative writing. He believes that humor within creative storytelling possesses greater emotional opportunity to provide readers personal understanding of characters and their experience with complex issues.
An avid reader, Mark first got his inspiration for Sandra’s Syndrome from a character in Kathy Reichs’ bestselling novel, Bones Never Lie. After spending several years cultivating the idea in his head, he decided to start writing it down two days after his retirement. It is controversial. However, religion and science must engage common ground to understand the misunderstood and accept the uncommon. That common ground is the battlefield for the victory of social acceptance and inclusion.
When Mark is not behind a computer, he spends his time playing softball and basketball, and enjoys puzzles and decision-making problems. He is also known for hosting parties and game nights for his friends. They bond over their love for travel, new experiences, fine tastes, and adventure. Love and acceptance are consistent.