Maria Antokas’ Debut Novel Sweet Millions

November 29, 2021

Writing a novel is not for the faint of heart. It requires an extraordinary amount of time and effort. From the first spark of an idea and the first outline to the first draft and the next five drafts or however many are recommended by the editor, a novel takes a great deal of commitment and determination to not only tell the story the author would like to tell but also to create an entertaining, readable text, free of typos and grammatical errors, but still with a plot compelling enough to hold a reader’s attention and keep them turning pages.

It is interesting to note that some of the most iconic novels of all time are actually novellas, i.e. short novels, usually about 10,000-40,000 words. Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, are all novellas. Among the most renowned Greek authors, Alexandros Papadiamantis was a master of the novella. The Murderess is just one example of his astonishing work in which he presents a universal story through the microcosm of the tight-knit society of a Greek village on a remote island, and all in just about 144 pages (in the English translation).

There are, of course, classic novels which are massive tomes, such as George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, and most of the novels of Charles Dickens. Today, those books are perhaps best known for being very long and are not as widely read as they once were. It is common knowledge that Dickens was paid by the word and his works were released first in installments in literary magazines before they were published in book form. The ability to sustain the reader’s attention through so many pages, over 800 in some of those classic novels, requires artistry and skill, knowing how to pace a scene and being able to locate the drama in each moment, building the tension and suspense by revealing and concealing plot points carefully, and challenging the characters with obstacles on their journey towards their goal. It can be difficult to master the many skills required for writing a novel, and even then, there is no guarantee that the book will find a publisher and after that an audience. Sometimes the timing is not right. The world is not ready for your story. It might also be too much like another popular book or it simply needs polishing up, which can include the tightening up of sentences, strengthening characters and their motivation, sharpening the dialogue, and even getting rid of some characters and plot holes that diminish the work.

Not every book is a masterpiece, of course, and with self-publishing being so easy these days, there are many more opportunities for anyone from every walk of life and background to publish a book.

Sweet Millions by Maria Antokas is a financial murder mystery that follows Danielle Mendow, a bank manager, as she attempts to solve a murder and exonerate herself. Antokas is a former banker and the Director and Chairman of the Entrepreneurship program at a private school in Maryland. She is the co-author of Don’t Call It a Budget – a personal finance workbook. Sweet Millions is her debut novel. Antokas also owns her own company, CapitalWise Consulting LLC, which provides personal finance instruction, and she speaks to groups on the importance financial literacy. She is also co-founder of Atalanta Publishing, a company that helps authors self-publish and market their books.


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