Some people have published books, while others have proferred excuses.

Some people say: ‘Yes, I want to write’, others say: ‘Yes, but I don’t have the time’.  Which is just another way of saying No.

Some people have decided to banish the word ‘busy’ from their vocabulary. They have decided to replace it with something else, something more nurturing, more nourishing, more inspiring.

I have decided to become one of those people. And the name I will be writing under is Marina Sofia, which has personal emotional resonance in our family.

Update:  These days, you can also find me regularly reviewing crime fiction on the Crime Fiction Lover website, occasionally reviewing other books on Shiny New Books and Necessary Fiction, and working behind the scenes at Asymptote Journal. I also tweet an awful lot – what a wonderful time to be alive!


Update 2021: I no longer do most of the things above, but decided to keep them there as a reminder. Instead, I have become very involved in translating and co-founded a publishing house for translated crime fiction with a social twist, from Romania, Iceland and beyond, Corylus Books. I still struggle to find time to work on my own novels, but have published some short pieces here and there.

86 thoughts on “About”

    1. Hello Marina. I found your blog through searching for information about Machi Tarawa…years ago I had written down a haiku of hers: on Sunday morning/fragrant with naval oranges/I boil two eggs to perfection

      On my birthday this year, my daughter made a needlepoint of that haiku with simple illustrations for me as a gift. Of course, this made me want to find more about machi tarawa…which you helped. Thank you. My Twitter: iamcynical

    1. Thank you for invitation. Sadly, we are moving this weekend and are waist-deep in boxes. After that, who knows how long we will have to live without Internet? Once we are settled in new house, will definitely participate! Thanks for dropping by and liking my latest posts!

  1. I love the tag line of your blog. “Thinking, writing, thinking about writing.” I may steal it. Kidding of course. I am now also not going to use the word “busy.” I didn’t realize until I read your “about” page that it is OVERUSED these days, and used as an excuse to not get things one.

    Finally, before I learned that Marina Sofia is an assumed name, when I headed over to your blog, the first thing I was going to say LOVE how musical your name is.

    1. Thank you for your comment – yes, let’s make a stand against the tyranny of ‘busy-ness’!
      And thank you also for liking my name. This was the name I was going to give to my daughter, but I didn’t have one in the end, so it was kind of… spare.

  2. Hi Marina,
    I’ve nominated you for the Sunshine Award – no pressure to take part, and sorry if you’ve done it before/hate this type of thing 🙂
    Jo x

  3. Hi Marina,
    I am happy you visited my blog. I find yours very interesting.
    Your finding time to write is a triumph over the “busy” excuse, yes. I am sure
    many of your readers and followers share the same philosophy. I share the same,
    with you. Glad to follow you. See you around.

      1. Yes Marina. The feeling is mutual. I am fulfilled finding new friends here
        and reading various poems. Life is beautiful. Let us be happy.
        Cheers to us! May our tribe increase. 😉

  4. thank you for visiting my blog pages and very kind words:-).. love your blog and wish I could use words half as good as you do ! 🙂

  5. When I first read your name attached to an “I’m following” email, I thought you had something to do with sailing, which, of course, drew me right over to say hey. Marina linked to Sofia: what a lovely handle as nome de plume.

    Good for you that you’ve made a choice to write and aren’t allowing excuses to keep you from it. Back in the day when I moved from sculpting to crafting fiction (I’d been penning poems and non-fiction for years), I had children crawling on the floor at my feet, strewing toys and noise. It’s amazing that one can be in that moment and yet still occupy enough space to create. But needs must!

    1. Thank you for sailing over to my corner of the world. Actually, you were instinctively right, I did choose the name Marina because of my love for the sea and my wish to learn how to sail. And I will, someday! Here is the more complete story behind the name: http://cowbird.com/author/marina-sofia/stories/#!/11774
      Thank you also for your encouragement – as you say, writing is a need, and could turn explosive if left unfulfilled for too long!

      1. Ah, so lovely. Stories with illustrations–or illustrations with stories! Thank you for letting me in to that world, if only for a moment.

        You must learn how to sail. A small boat with your boys…perhaps a Sunfish so that when you topple, you can right it easily. But perhaps not the best idea for cold seas.

        We’d wanted to sail across to Europe (or there from the other direction), but life and caring for my mama intervened. If you and yours ever make it in this direction, give us a shout, and we’ll take you on board. There is nothing like sailing in a boat, small or large, and living on one was like having a bit of heaven outside our door.

  6. Dearest MarinaSofia, I have nominated you for all the blogging awards on my Awards page [I know it’s a bit of a cheat and getting a tad crowded now, but my way, borrowed from jymiely, of ‘doing’ these lovely awards] – I do enjoy your work and love your attitude to the word ‘busy’ 🙂

  7. Hello Marina Sofia – your STUFF is beautiful

    time well spent…

    David in Maine USA

    1. Thank you, David, that means a lot to me , coming from you. I enjoy your haikus immensely (I am a Japanophile anyway), but there are always far too many likes and comments on your site, so I feel quite shy about leaving a comment there.

      1. never feel shy – your comments and likes are oh so very important too…

        enjoy your company…..

        don’t let the moon keep you up all night 🙂

        David in Maine USA

  8. Hi Marina, thanks for offering help re: Goodreads, it is still bewildering to me, although I am trying! I got my first bad review on there, and quoted it today on twitter, made some sales off the back of it I think! Would love to know what you think of DEATHLOOP… if you have the time… Gil B

  9. Hi Marina, I just wanted to stop by and tell you that I nominated you for the Inspirational Blog award. Please don’t feel obligated to act on it, but please do come and see the photo I made for you. 🙂

  10. Hi my pleasure in congratulating you on a well deserved Inspirational Blog award. I am happy I landed here via projectwhitespace.

    Liked the post Happy Bastille Day and loved the quote “Let us read and let us dance – two amusements that will never do any harm to the world”.

    Thanks & regards,

    1. Delighted to have discovered your blog too via Project White Space. Keep up the wonderful work of connecting people and opinions – such an important role in today’s world!

  11. Hi,
    I’ve nominated you for a Beautiful Blogger Award. Hope you accept this award as I’ve really enjoyed your posts. Check out the instructions on my page to accept the award http://woosha8poetry.wordpress.com, as well as to see the list of other bloggers I’ve nominated.

    Best Wishes


  12. Hi, Not sure if you have seen, but I have nominated you for the Booker Award, which I hope you will accept. Do pop over to my blog to check out what to do.

  13. Hi Marina. Thanks for visiting and following my blog. After a six-year hiatus, I’ve decided to become one of those people too, who has banished the word busy. It isn’t always easy, but it’s rewarding all the same. Best of luck to you on your writing journey.

  14. Thank you for your encouraging comment on my Poetics write last week. Your blog, everything about it, is inspiring. So glad to be here!

  15. I’m thrilled that you liked my Lighten Up Mondays article – a funny missive that I post the beginning of each week to – well – lighten up the beginning of each week. I am going to follow your Blog because I’m a novel-writer-wanna-be and can use all the good writing examples I can set my eyes on.

  16. Thanks for liking my post on Trouble in Paradise. It’s interesting : your ‘like’ arrived in my email as I was reading your blog. Coincidence? I’m tempted to invoke that old saying about ‘great minds …. ‘ — but I won’t! 🙂

  17. Hello and thank you for stopping by Inkspeare. I love the name Marina Sofia. Best wishes for success in your writing journey.

  18. Marina, I saw that you liked my book review of “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” at Morgen Bailey’s website. Thanks.
    I run a creative writing website called The Writer’s Drawer (www.thewritersdrawer.net), which might be suited to your philosophy. Perhaps you could inspire other writers there, or write a crime fiction review for the Book Review section. Take a look.

  19. Thanks for visiting and “liking” my posts! Yes, finding time to write is challenging, especially if you have a day job, family, etc., etc. I actually had to make a commitment to myself that I would write regularly, and that commitment is what has kept me going. I think if you really want it, you’ll find a way to do it.

  20. Dear Marina Sofia,

    I was happy to come across your blog as I researched Paris blogs on the Internet.

    I’m the owner of Italy Book Tours, a professional virtual book tour company that features books set in Italy, or written by an Italian author. I’m currently in the process of organizing a virtual book tour for E.J. Simon’s Death Logs In, a suspense thriller that is set in US, Paris and Rome. Seeing that you are a writer and blogger who lives in France, and you are open to book reviews, I would like to invite you to read and review Death Logs In or perhaps just feature it on your blog.

    If this offer interests you, please let me know, and I will give you more details about the book tour that takes place in December and January.

    If this offer does not interest you, I understand, and I thank you for your time.

    I wish you all the best in blogging about writing!

    Warm regards,
    Laura Fabiani

  21. Hi Marina,
    My name is Mark.
    I saw your Tweet about one of my favorite articles ‘The Small Happy Life’.
    I was hearing from my readers that they wanted some more practical steps to take to encourage happiness so I went ahead and created this post: http://wp.me/p6bNAS-1P
    If you have time I’d love for you to check it out. If you like it, it would be awesome if you’d consider sharing it.
    Mark Rogers

  22. Hi Marina
    Sorry for not being in touch re your Life Of Crime questionnaire – I just couldn’t find the e-mail, even though it wasn’t deleted, absolutely not. Would you be happy to send it again and I’ll deal with it promptly? Mr C has a new phone which I’ll use to take better pictures (mine is rubbish!) and send them too! HUGE apologies, Linda xxx PS DM me if you need my e-mail address but you should have it, I think. Thanks, and SO sorry again!

  23. Hi Marina,
    I wanted to write privately to you but cannot see how to do so, so I write to you like this… I have read your reviews and I really like them. I would love it if you would review my book, ‘The Disobedient Wife’, literary fiction about Tajikistan. Let me know if you are interested and I will ask cinnamon press to send you a review copy. (All info on the book is at my blog) http://www.thedisobedientauthor.com on contact me by email at annikastanley at hotmail dot com. I hope to hear from you… Annika

  24. Hello, glad to have found you too, and I’ll be looking through your posts little by little. I’m curious you mentioned you’ve lived in lots of countries too – and we also share our second name 🙂

  25. Hi Marina, I’m looking for people who might be willing to do a guest post on my blog where they talk about literature from a particular country – the feature is called The View from Here and is meant to be a way of expanding people’s reading horizons. So far i’ve had people write about their home country – since you have knowledge of multiple countries, you could choose what to feature. How it works is that I send you some questions and you write as much/as little as you want. If interested could you drop me a note at heenandavies at yahoo dot co dot uk

  26. Hi Marina, I am very interested in the Latin American crime genre and wondered if you might be prepared to review the book I have published on Kindle? It’s about a kick-ass Mexican cop causing havoc in Liverpool – and is admittedly pulp fiction. I have read your work on Crime Fiction Lover, which is brilliant, and I am hoping you will be interested in this. It aims to confront a few stereotypes, if nothing else – although I admit I am on a steep learning curve here. I know you are v busy, but hope you can help??
    Eugene Carey, London

    Book is called : Honesto Váldez: Angel of Death and I can send you a copy if you wish

    1. Hello, Eugene, and thank you for your kind words – very flattered! I suggest that if you want to get a review on CFL website, it’s best to approach our editor directly via the Contact Form on the site, as he can then schedule it into our review list. Otherwise, we get far too many duplicate approaches or too many one-sided types of books. You can ask for a specific reviewer if you like, although each of us reserves the right to not review something if we don’t like it. However, we are a reasonably large team of reviewers, so someone else may well like it.

  27. Hello Marina,

    My name is Anna Poulimas and I am the PR Coordinator for Beacon Publishing Group. I would like the opportunity to share my author and co-founder of Mapquest, Chris Heivly’s exciting new book “Build the Fort” with you for review consideration. I would be happy to send you the PDF file of the book upon your request. The synopsis is below for your convenience. The book is available now in Kindle, paperback, and audio book.

    Synopsis: In Build the Fort, Heivly breaks down his personal fort-building experiences and uses them as an analogy to his journey as co-founder of MapQuest as well as The Startup Factory (a seed-stage investor & mentorship program). Build the Fort outlines five basic elements that are common to both fort-building and startups: • Socializing Your Idea without fear or inhibition, • Identifying and Marshaling the People You Trust, • Gathering the Minimal Resources Closest To You, • Acting on the Smallest and Simplest of the Idea, and • Build the Fort. Whether you are 16 or 60, Build The Fort will provide the reader a better understanding of the earliest micro-steps of starting your own business by overlaying Chris’s 30 years of experiences in startups, investments, big-company intrapreneurship and community development.

    For more information on Chris Heivly please visit https://heivly.com/

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to your response.

    Best regards,

    Anna Poulimas
    PR Coordinator
    Beacon Publishing Group

  28. Hi Marina-Sophia, I just want to take the time here to thank you for your regular interest in my blog, signalled my occasional likes or comments. In the three years since I began, you have shown a regular and continued interest which helps fuel me going forward

    1. It is a real pleasure to read your thoughtful reviews. I don’t always have time to comment, but I am always impressed. I will try to participate in Spanish Lit Month as well.

  29. Hi. My name is Henry. I work for Crime Wave Press, an independent publisher of crime fiction.

    I recently found you on Twitter. From there I discovered your website (very pro) and hoped to interest you in joining the Crime Wave Press review team.


    Reviewers can get free copies (mobi or pdf) of our titles, and we will contact you to offer new releases when they become available.

    Would you like to review one of these new releases?

    Fancy a Tarantino-esque romp through America’s criminal underbelly by a Hollywood screenwriter? Then check out Riding Shotgun & Other American Cruelties by Andy Rausch. This is what Peter Leonard (author of Voices of the Dead) had to say about Andy’s writing:

    “Andy Rausch has written a tight, taut crime thriller that’ll have you on the edge of your seat. I can see my father’s [novelist Elmore Leonard] influence in his prose.”

    Tony Knighton has come up with a worthy successor to his gripping short story collection Happy Hour. Tony’s debut novel Three Hours Past Midnight is a tour de force of storytelling, brutal action and high wire emotions.

    “With a classic heist goes wrong set up, Tony Knighton takes us on a violent, danger-strewn tour through the night time streets of Philadelphia. Everyone has an angle, no one gives an inch. Fans of David Goodis and Richard Stark should love this one.”
    — Scott Adlerberg, author of Graveyard Love”

    If you’d like to review any of our titles we will be pleased to send you the relevant file(s).


    PR Manager @crimewavepress

  30. Dear Marina Sofia,

    My name is Diane May and I’m a crime thriller author who lives in Verona, Italy. Two words which perfectly describe who I am are “book addict”, and by that I do mean all things book-related, from reading to writing and everything in between.

    My debut novel, Evo (a crime thriller), was released in digital format on July 23rd 2018 and is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The paperback is scheduled to come out on November 13th this year. I also have a profile on GoodReads.

    I came across your blog and liked it a lot (you read Mircea Eliade, I couldn’t believe it! I’m half Romanian and speak the language so I read some of his books in Romanian) and so I decided to write to you and ask if you would be interested in reading and reviewing Evo. Should you say yes, I would be more than happy to provide you with a digital copy of the book. My email address is tocuzio at gmail.

    Thank you and happy reading.

    https://dianemaywriter.com (where you can find out more about me Evo and my new projects).

    Best wishes,

    Diane May

  31. Hi Marina Sofia! The press recently published Tove Jansson’s newest title, Letters from Tove, and I’ve stopped by your site to enquire if you would like a review copy.

    You can find more information about the book on our website.

    Please contact myself or the press via email if you’re interested in Letters from Tove or any of our other titles.

    Thank you,

  32. Hi Marina! Just wanted to let you know I’ve nominated you for the Victor Ehindero award over on the Written Vixen. Thank you for all you do and keep up the amazing work!

  33. Hi Marina,

    We were on the Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings – I told you about the Katzer translations. You added my blog but I wasn’t able to add you. Anyway I’m reading your blog and find it interesting so I thought I’d add a comment.

    Unfortunately after you left that thread, it got a little heated with the intrusion of someone whose perspective on Russian literature I find questionable to say the least (not least because of his often baseless attacks against Pevear and Volokhonsky) and I replied in kind with the blog owner taking his side, which was pretty hurtful. But I’m not looking for drama. If you’re interested in any questions regarding Russian literature, I’ll do my best to answer. I’ve been studying Russian and Soviet literatures for close to a decade (both as an amateur and as a university student) as well as Russian and Soviet history and the history of Marxism. So my views on certain things may go outside of the box when it comes to certain sacred cows, but obviously I don’t defend the authoritarianism of the USSR. Likewise if you know anything Id love to ask you.

    1. Lovely to hear from you. I’m not a huge fan of the P&V translations either, but since I don’t speak Russian, I can not really have an informed opinion. The Katzer ones simply resonated with me more. Following your discussion of Raduga publications etc. I actually searched and found two more Raduga volumes – one of Chekhov and one of Dostoevsky, translated by Ivy Litvinova, so I look forward to reading those. December is going to be my Russian reading month, I will attempt the Karamazovs for the 6th time (failed to finish the first 5 times).

      1. I find reading three chapters a day helps pace it out. That helped me at any rate. I personally think BK is a more manageable read than say War & Peace (which I actually despise to be frank) but that could just be a matter of personal quirk of mine. Two other 19th century Russian novels that I would highly recommend are Ivan Goncharov’s Oblomov and Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The Golovlyov Family. They are iconic send ups of the Russian elites and they were both huge favorites of Vladimir Lenin. Oblomov is one of those fictional characters that is so well known in Russian popular culture in much the same way that Don Quixote is in the Spanish speaking countries or, at one point, Samuel Pickwick or Mr Micawber were in ours.

        If you’re interested in 20th century fare as part of your Russian month, I definitely recommend trying Andrei Platonov’s The Foundation Pit or Maxim Gorky’s Mother. Others I’d recommend are Andrei Bely’s Petersburg (the greatest 20th century Russian novel imo), Mikhail Sholokhov’s And Quiet Flows the Don (the Soviet response to War and Peace but better imo), The Petty Demon by Fyodor Sologub, Mikhail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s revolutionary experimental short stories, Ivan Bunin’s Dark Avenues (among other writings), Vladimir Nabokov’s The Gift (the greatest of the emigre fiction) and, Vasily Grossman’s two-part epic Stalingrad/Life and Fate – the best literary critique of Stalinism ever penned in Russian. Not to mention extremely moving. One of the most moving novels in the Russian language imo. It honestly should be read in place of Solzhenitsyn who frankly wrote his critiques in bad faith as an anti-Semitic xenophobic Russian nationalist who saw Communism as “Judeo-atheist extremism” that hurt his idea of “true” Russian culture. His expulsion from Russia had as much if not more to do with his rather disgusting politics in confrontation with repressive bureaucratic authoritarianism of the USSR than it did with his art, which was always overpraised in the West imo. A truly horrible writer and human being all around. But that’s just my opinion.
        Grossman wrote his critique as someone who believed in the ideals of Communism only to be horrified at the grotesque perversion of these ideals by people like Stalin and the destruction of the hope it represented. Not to mention a great depiction of the horrors of the Nazi invasion of the USSR. It was banned and never allowed in the USSR, even during the Khruschev Thaw when there was greater freedom to publish different kinds of literature in the country of all styles (including Solzhenitsyn’s own One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich). Truly an injustice in censorship. Though it should be stressed Grossman’s magnum opus was not what one would call a dissident novel though its passed off as one in the West. The cultural critic Fredric Jameson wrote an excellent essay on Grossman that’s worth reading which helps challenge this notion. Its critique of Stalinism was very much that of someone whose views can’t be reduced either way. The caliber of a great writer imo.

        I love P&V as I think they’re much more faithful to the Russian texts than their predecessors and they restored the rough idiosyncratic styles of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy to their books after being flattened out and unnecessarily refined by people like Constance Garnett (though they respect and admire CG to be sure). They’re also very accurate and clean, without many frills. I think most of the academics and translators who dislike them are either a.) want a certain polished quality to their novels which frankly doesn’t exist (but which was fostered by translators like CG, much to Nabokov’s chagrin); or b.) jealous competitors who envy their success and often carry frankly nasty agendas of their own (Gary Saul Morson and Donald Rayfield are particularly nasty imo). Every Russian speaker I know who studies Russian lit seems to love them, as did Slavicist professors I knew. My own Russian professor at Uiowa loved their translations and swore by them, as did Joseph Frank, arguably Dostoevsky’s best biographer. However, that is not necessarily dispositive of whether you or anyone else should like them too so don’t feel compelled to do so. That said, I think its fair to say that their translation style may work better for some authors (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Pushkin) more than others (Gogol, Pasternak) or a matter of dispute (Bulgakov, Leskov).

        Happy reading and many apologies for this meandering post! As you can tell, I live for Russian literature.

Do share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.