” . . . ominous scenarios of catastrophic galactic alignments, savage solar storms and other deadly astronomical phenomena which could spell the end of humankind.”


LeRoy man publishes book, plans signing

By Randy Johnston


Special To The Osceola Edition

LEROY — Market master for LeRoy’s Farmers Market and Planning Commission clerk, Brian Cool, is now a published author. 

His debut novel, “Reset by Marian Evans,” was released in November and is available at Entity photography and art gallery in Marion and on

Cool’s inspiration for the novel, an intriguing blend of fantasy and sci-fi, is the current fascination with end-of-the-world myths, prophecies and predictions popularized by articles, books and movies appearing almost daily. 

They paint ominous scenarios of catastrophic galactic alignments, savage solar storms and other deadly astronomical phenomena which could spell the end of humankind.

The story of Willow living in the year 2112 on Aerda, sister plant to Earth, may parallel a cataclysmic finale for our own planet. As readers follow Willow’s adventures, they glimpse Cool’s personal vision of what’s to come for us. Is it impending doom, or a new beginning?

The novella-length work, about 130 pages, is enhanced with a striking collection of eight full-page black and white illustrations by local artist, Steve Mann. They let us peer into Willow’s world and bring her tale to life.

Cool, a LeRoy resident for 38 years, lives with his wife on the family centennial farm. Mann lives in Reed City with his wife and family.

What’s next for the creative pair? Cool is already working on a second sci-fi novel he plans to publish in 2012. Mann is considering a number of projects including a series of cartoons and a memorial portrait of a U.S. Marine who died in Afghanistan.

To meet Cool and Mann, stop by their next book signing at Entity to learn more about the collaboration between author and artist and pick up an autographed copy of “Reset.” 

Cool is Entity’s Artist of the Month and both he and Mann will be at the gallery Dec. 17 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Visit Cool’s blog for free writing tools and a schedule of future promotional activities. Contact him through his blog with questions or comments about his work or to post reviews of the book. ( If you have a project that requires illustrations, a book cover or other artwork, contact Mann at (231) 250-5777 for a consultation.

Entity is at 202 E. Main St., Marion. If you are interested in exhibiting your work in the gallery or learning more about the Artist of the Month program, call owner Susan Hall (231) 743-9895.


Note: the newspaper version included an image of the front cover.


Connections or Coincidences in Marion–Who Can Tell?

What does the word ‘entity’ mean to you? I had to look it up tonight after realizing what a lame definition I’d given ma the other day when she asked. This is of course in relation to last Saturday’s event in Marion at ENTITY.

Mom thought it meant a ghost. I was thinking along those same lines, venturing that it meant the soul, whether within the body or without. Well, live and learn. Although, I am not sure that a dictionary definition can do justice to this word entity, especially after spending the day at a place by that name.

entity — a real being; reality; existence; a material substance.

Entity, Susan Hall’s place on Main Street, which as far as I can see, combines several parts to achieve the whole–Molly’s A New Day, Sue’s Artist of the Month program, her sales of her photographs, her SO Photography studio, and so on–has a certain something about it. It is a fixed place, yet on the move, existing to achieve its potential. It was a good spot to spend the day–big, bright. Pretty things about. Though, I do think a frame shop in one corner is in order—worth looking into I’d bet.

I signed and sold a few books there on Saturday.

I already knew how I wanted to sign my book–that is, unless people requested something specific. Above my scrawl of a John Henry I penned this, “to envision is to invite change” or alternately, “to envision is to create change”. It means something in relation to the story, as well as to the publishing of it. It was inspired by none other than Ralph Nader, and his new novel.

Novel?  ‘Utopian handbook’ he calls it . . . no really. It has actual people for its characters; Warren Buffett, Ted Turner . . . no really it does. He said so. The title is about as bombastic as it is preposterous, Only the Superrich Can Save Us–and yet, possibly possible. He was interviewed on NPR the other day.

Ralph talked about his newest work (a hard thing for writers to do sometimes, as you just said it ALL in your book, right?), and then, then he mentioned what it was that he wrote when he autographed a copy. I took note, as I hoped to be signing some books myself soon—it was this,  “To imagine is to envision.”

. . . and I thought, Ralph, I love ya bud, but that says nothing. It’s redundant. More than me just saying, “it’s redundant”. Unless there’s some hidden meaning, available only to those who read the book . . .

Anyway, thank you for your endless optimism, and of course for your ceaseless activism. And thanks Ralph for writing the book that will finally inspire the rich folk to divide up their riches amongst us, and thereby save us.  I’ll be optimistic with on you on that for a day or two, a week at most. Long as you don’t mind me mooching off your line a bit. I think I know what you meant to say.

Reporter Randy Johnston came in to talk to Steve and me. That’s three, in as many days. She came to get a story for the Osceola Pioneer newspaper, having seen the recent article announcing the Artist of the month. That’s ME. Marian Evans—and under her umbrella; Linda, Elaine, Steve, and myself.

It was good to meet Randy, and talk with her about a writing group she attends. She too is writing a book. I was thrilled that she made the connection between George Eliot and the quasi alias in RESET’s title.

I’m on a roll here, having gone to the Cadillac News on Friday, just to drop off a flier, and giving an impromptu interview to Jeff Broddle. It was good to finally meet him. I did some reporting for the Waterfront in Lake City, and I will carry that with me always. Newspapers do well to give us these people, who will long be remembered in their community for the way they give of themselves to each story, year after year. Jim Creese, Myrtle Holmes, Jack Batdorf, and Bob Redman, my old boss up in Lake City, are just a few names that come quickly to my mind from papers close by.

I will do as many interviews as I can, not just to promote book sales, but for the chance to meet another writer.

Steve drove. He picked me up on his way. It was a 25 minute drive northeast of home. On our way back home, we stopped at the Shell station in Marion to pick up the latest Marion Press. We both wanted the paper for a copy of Thursday’s article about the book. It’s a publication with roots a hundred and twenty-two years deep, with Jenny Gray at the helm. And what a writer she is!

Later at home, Karen and I were going through the paper–she loves a newspaper too–and she pointed out that, in the story on Christmas doin’s around Marion, Butch and Kate Ruppert were giving horse drawn wagon rides,. We’ll be seeing them soon to help set up lights at the pavilion in LeRoy, and then again next Saturday at Christmas doin’s around town when we will be setting up the LeRoy Farmers’ Market for a holiday sale–they are giving rides there too. What fun! And the article’s byline? Randy Johnston. She writes for three papers!!

Then, Karen pointed out an old familiar name, and we were suddenly saddened to learn of the death of the man who spent a week at our place milling the 10,000 board feet of lumber for our house. Bill Hower died in 2006, but on the anniversary of his death his family had remembered him in the paper, and so now we remembered him again too. A good man there.

And then there was the following article.

ENTITY PRESENTS December Artist of the Month: Brian Cool

MARION — Brian Cool, an author from LeRoy, is ENTITY’s artist of the month and will appear there on Saturdays, December 3 and 17, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Cool has written his debut novel, “RESET by Marian Evans.” It’s a true northern Michigan creation. Photographer/designer Elaine Edstrom of Traverse City produced the cover.  Artist Steve Mann of Reed City penciled the interior illustrations.  The painting on the front cover is the work of Traverse City artist Linda Smith.  So, one might think that Cool’s book, has something to do with the tip of the Mitt.  It’s actually a work of science fiction—an adventure in another time, on another world, but the story poses universal questions.

The author and his wife live and work close to the land, on their family’s sprawling centennial farm. Their home, which the couple built, is a round house of cordwood masonry with a sod roof. “Occasionally we let the goats up there,” says Cool.

Cool is a self avowed Jack of all trades: Master Citizen Planner, woodsman, gardener, Market Master for the LeRoy Farmers’ Market, clerk for the LeRoy Planning Commission, and amateur builder. So when does he find time to write a book?  Come to ENTITY and find out.

On his blog ( Cool says, “this is a chance to promote the talents of my illustrator Steve Mann, and the artwork of Reset cover painting artist, Linda Smith, as well as the work of cover designer Elaine Edstrom, all of whom contributed invaluably to make this a work to be proud of. We are all excited about this opportunity,”

Some of the “Reset Crew” members also plan to attend.

The article was accompanied by a picture of the front cover.

It is not lost on me that my first outing to promote this book with a public appearance and all, is in Marion, and there is a scene in the book that was in part inspired by an interesting and controversial true story from near Marion, and the title includes the name of a fictional author, Marian.

I should have been a day or two quicker on the fliers, because what was also not lost, is what a slow day it was, except for one burst of everyone-all-at-once. All of which I was prepared for, since I was prepared for almost anything.  Sue had said it was common for the place to be empty for long stretches. She’s got a few ideas to turn that around.

Me too, next time I’m there–free homemade cookies and gourmet coffee! I will offer a free workshop on self-publishing–I’ve learned a few things that others may find helpful. So why not pass it forward? And I’ll offer a printed pack of my Tools for Writers, for sale.  I made the tools in an attempt to write better, and keep organized. The first set, MS Tracker tracks all of the important aspects of publishing each story. The second set, Identity Builder, helps flesh out the character skeletons in your mind. I’m working on a third set called Place Builder.

Steve left his portfolio up there at Entity for people to peruse. He will take orders from it for prints. Or, he will render a portrait, based on photos. He’s very good at re-creating an old faded photograph of some lost loved-one, enlarging it or changing it as requested. Uncanny.

One of the most common questions I get on my book is about the title.  Of course I’m not the first to use such an odd kind of title.  There is a long-standing–though rarely used–tradition in the field of fiction, especially sci-fi, to do what I was attempting. I wondered if the technique had a name. I couldn’t find one, so I made one up (until someone smarter tells me otherwise). The Latin name quasi alias, sounds as good to me as anything else might, meaning roughly ‘fictional author’, or, ‘as if written by another’.

The title RESET by Marian Evans is like, Pandora by Holly Hollander a novel by Gene Wolfe, or I am a droid by C-3PO by Mark Cerasini, or Rules of the Universe by Austin W. Hale by Robin Vaupel. These works are clearly only titled as written by another, as the true author’s name appears on the cover.

A similar case would be Washington Irving’s Rip van Winkle “taken from the posthumous papers of historian Diedrich Knickerbocker”. Knickerbocker was the name originally used by Irving as a sort of gimmick to present his satire.  These are not quite pen names.  But they are another tool in the writer’s bag of gimcrack and gnoodlery to use to invite the reader to suspend belief, and give-in to the story as early as possible.

Rained all day.

There weren’t many people out walking the streets of Marion. Driving either. We’ll stir up a bit more of show next time I‘m sure. I’m just glad to help in my own small way, to add to ENTITIES identity.