Monday, December 17, 2018

Guest Post by Author Mark Engels: Hold Fast


So you want to write a book, eh? Glad to hear it. I have too, and I can tell you, without reservation, it's been one of the most challenging things I've ever done. Must've not learned my lesson just yet because just after finishing the manuscript for the next paranormal sci-fi thriller in my werecat family saga series, I went and started another.

Which strikes me as odd, now that I reflect upon it. I never really had in mind to even become an author. Sure, in the past I was active in several anime and manga fanfiction communities. But then as now, something has to move me mightily to where I'll put aside life's busyness and write. This last time, that something manifested in the form of a werecat, coming to me while on a job site late one night. Shredding away at my subconsciousness before even having decency enough to tell me her name. Jerk.

Before long she told me her name was Pawly, and that she wanted me to write about her and her family. The modern-day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats, torn apart by militaries on three continents vying to exploit their deadly talents. Though as I began, I really didn't know how I was going to do that. But I did know I desperately *wanted* to. If for no other reason than for Pawly to let me be whenever I finished. Suffice to say that claws and fangs make for a very convincing argument.

My muse's initial nudge is what led me to grasp onto my novel-writing goals. Led me to figure it out as I went (and am still figuring it out, in fact.) Research and plotting and drafting and editing. Submitting and pitching and revising. Marketing and platform building and outreach. Any one of these subjects requires consistent effort and study, being there is no one correct way to do any of them. I had to discern which approaches were best for me, best for the story I wanted to tell. I'm still making course adjustments, and I expect I'll continue to do so.

Pawly is a Navy sailor, descended herself from a long line of sailors. In the face of raging storms, sailors encourage one another to "hold fast." Hold fast to the vision of my book when I doubted my story outline. Hold fast to the vision of my book while working full time and being a spouse and parent. Hold fast to the vision of my book reading "no vampires, no werewolves" on one submissions page after another, which I came to realize meant "no shifters of any kind." Hold fast to the vision of my book as paranormal romance publishers continued to accept shifter stories, knowing mine was no romance. Hold fast to the vision of my book even after publication and finding its audience, one whose size and shape and characteristics nothing like what I had first thought.

Writing is a test of endurance. From the initial concept through planning through drafting through critiquing through editing through publishing through marketing. It's a slog. Anyone who would tell you otherwise is likely trying to sell you something. But it's one I found eminently worthwhile, and hope you will too. Spend the time necessary to understand what you're doing and why, so you too can apply the mariners' ancient wisdom Pawly shared with me.

Hold fast.

Boyhood interests in trains and electronics fostered Mark's career as an electrical engineer, designing and commissioning signal and communications systems for railroads and rail transit agencies across the United States. Along the way, Mark indulged his writing desire by authoring articles for rail and transit industry trade magazines. Coupled with Mark's long-time membership in anime, manga and anthropomorphic fandoms, he took up writing genre fiction. Growing up in Michigan, never far from his beloved Great Lakes, Mark and his wife today make their home in Wisconsin with their son and a dog who naps beside him as he writes.

Mark is a member of Allied Authors of Wisconsin, one of the state's oldest writing collectives. He also belongs to the Furry Writer’s Guild, dedicated to supporting, informing, elevating, and promoting quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators.

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