All posts by Mark


[I wrote the following a little more than a year ago, but never posted it. It’s difficult to believe I wrote it that long ago. Obviously, I’ve been dealing with some shit, and I’m still working on all that. I have nothing new to announce for the immediate future, but I felt this still needed to go out.]

Last night, I ran across a post on a writer forum about TrackerBox, mentioning that I’ve been basically uncommunicative, and haven’t updated TrackerBox in months.

The post is correct.

A few posts ago (6 months ago) I mentioned something about a book I was working on, and how it came to a stop. I never explained why. Six months ago, I thought I was getting back on track. It fell apart. About four months ago, I took TrackerBox off the market, and it is no longer for sale.

I’ve tried to sell TrackerBox to someone who could take care of it, and take care of all of you, but after I had a handshake deal with a guy, he ghosted me. This was in 2019, prior to the fun that was had in 2020 and beyond.

Why? Why did that book come to a screeching halt in 2019? Why did I try to sell of TrackerBox back then, and why am I still open to someone taking it off my hands, even now?

I’ve never said, never explained, and was hoping I’d never have to. I was hoping I could just pass it on, move on, and never have to answer questions about it ever again.

Obviously, things didn’t turn out that way.

So here’s as much of the story as I’m able to explain.

As of January, 2019, I had been out of work for nearly a year and a half. I had gone through phone interviews, never got called back. I’d been on in person interviews, and been told that my experience just doesn’t seem to fit. My income has primarily come from software development over the last 25 years, but I had worked on a lot of strange and weird systems that were no longer in vogue. I couldn’t get a job.

I decided to really try to push on the writing and just see if I could really push to generate an income from the books. And for a month, I was doing really well, making progress on the second book of the series, and looking forward to starting the third.

And then in February, my wife told me that she would leave me if I continued writing.

I’m not trying to throw her under the bus. She was stressed out, too, by my lack of work and wondering where our money was going to come from when it ran out. Looking back, I understand exactly where she was at in her mind and where she was coming from. It was not an easy time.

It’s now approaching three years from that event, and I’m still trying to put my brain back together from it. Needless to say, anything attached to writing, including visiting writing forums, visiting with my writer friends, working on writing software, and even just reading fiction became emotionally stressful and difficult, if not impossible to engage in.

It’s hard to explain how it feels, but for a long time, just the thought of anything related to writing invoked tightness across my shoulders, an unsettled feeling in my stomach, and a desire to just do anything else, even though writing was the thing I most wanted to do.

I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to keep up on TrackerBox, or on my “I’m writing again” announcements.

I have no announcements of future plans for anything, other than I hope something will happen with writing again in the near future. I’ve tried announcing stuff, in an effort to push me back in, but it hasn’t worked.

If someone knows someone who would like to take over TrackerBox, I’m more than happy to listen. I don’t really want much for it at all, other than a good home.

Oh, and six months after the event, I did find work, though not through any of my own efforts. An old client happened to call and ask if I could help him out. So much for job hunting.

writing and streaming

We seem to be on a Thursday update kick. Maybe I’ll keep it.

This week, nothing much exciting happened. I wrote a few thousand words on the new novel, and it seems to be coming along nicely. I’m not a full time author, so I only have a couple hours each day to work on it, and right now, while I’m starting out, I’m rethinking a lot of things I did on the original draft (which I’m mostly ignoring except for my memory of it). At some point, I expect the plot to diverge quite a bit, but I’m still writing “the setup”, and while there are a lot more scenes now in this new draft to get to the same point in the plot as the old one was after about two chapters, and probably three times the word count, the initial part of the book will follow essentially the same story, just in more detail and more depth.

In other news, well, there isn’t really any other news. And there probably won’t be a lot of other news, beyond a weekly updated on the progress of the book. I suppose you might be interested in checking out my music stream, but I suspect only a handful of you will enjoy it and come back after your first experience. You can catch me at this Saturday, probably around 4pm Pacific. It’s grunge/sludge/metal kind of stuff. Stop by and say Hi!

A New Direction for a new start

I know I said last week that I probably wouldn’t say more about what the next project is until I’ve got something to show, and I wasn’t going to say more, as I really wasn’t sure what it would be. I had a lot of options staring at me, clamoring for time, and whatever choice I made, it had to be something I was excited about writing.

It also had to satisfy some new ideas about the direction I want to go with my writing career. I’ll talk about them in the future, but it’s important, I think, for you to know that they exist just as context for the rest of this post. I’m not going to step out of speculative fiction or anything like that. It’s more like doubling down on the things that turn my crank.

Darned near six years ago, I started a new fantasy series, a sword & sorcery series that was going to be five books, all about the length of Mendleson Moony or Minders. Sixty thousand words and change, each. I planned to write them all as a set, and then release them once a month until they were all out.

I finished the first book, sent it to my alpha readers, and started on the second book. In the middle of this, all my life things that were going on at that time really put a crimp in the writing. I have two thirds of that second book complete. And it’s been that way since early 2019.

And then the writing came to a complete halt.

I’ve had it in my mind to finish that book out, then finish the series out, and release it as planned, so I started reading it all over again, trying to catch up. And as I was reading it, I kept running into things that I wish I had done differently. It wasn’t the kind of book, as written, that fit where I wanted to go. And if I had to match that for three and a third more books, I don’t know if I would have been able to complete the series.

And then, as if struck by lightning, it occurred to me last night that I could just rewrite the whole thing from the beginning so that it would fit my new criteria.

This morning, I wrote almost 2000 words of a new start of the first book of that series. I know you have no idea what it is, or what the goal for it is, but I’m excited about it, and I hope you will be, too. The first iteration really focused on one character in typical Sword & Sorcery style, but this new direction will expand the book quite a bit with more from the other characters, and is likely to have more of an Epic Fantasy feel. I expect it will at least double the first one in length, but that’s really only an estimate. There’s a very real possibility it will be even longer.

I’m excited about it. I hope you will be, too!

What a year

The last time I came here to write anything in this space, I had a hope that things were going to be changing for the better. I had no idea that the bullshit I’d been dealing with would continue to drag on and on and on. It did, though.


Except I wrote and recorded a new record, Down, Not Out which got released in October. In my own opinion, it’s fantastic, but some other people really liked it as well. Check it out if you get a chance. The link there will take you to my band page, which has links to most of the places where you can find my music.

Also, I’m still alive, which is a fine place to be. I’m enjoying being alive, and looking forward to getting vaccinated here, real soon.

The title of the previous/last post is still accurate. There will be more books. I just don’t know what, or when, and I’m not going to really say more about them until I’ve got something to show. I don’t expect it to be quickly, though. There are a lot of things I have to resurrect.

If anyone still hangs around here, comes to see if I’ve got anything to say, I love you. Period, end of story. I hope to give you some good things in the weeks, months and years to come. I’m excited about the future, for the first time in a long while, and I want to share it with you.

P.S. If you are still here, drop me a note in the comments (assuming they still work). I’d like to hear from you, what your up to, and what’s kept you going the past year.

There will be new books

Why does that title seem like a repeat? Because it is? Yeah, that’s probably it.

All that shit I said in the previous post, it was all true, except the parts where it wasn’t. I’m not going to go into exactly what happened, because it’s not really relevant, but everything I thought I knew about some things turned out to be lies, and finding that out destroyed any desire I had to write, think about writing, or even be part of the community of writers that I called my friends.

I still went to our monthly lunches, for awhile, but it was super difficult to go, face them, listen to them talk about the thing I could no longer do, while feeling all the while like someone was grinding their boot into my face.

Now, of course, because of this wonderful virus, I can’t go and see them at all.

In the meantime, I’ve been making new “art”, if you want to call it that. Recording music and playing it live on Twitch. Hit the Music tab up at the top to see more about that.

While I enjoy doing that, and I entertain fantasies of playing live, for real, in front of super large crowds, it can never satisfy the need I have to tell stories.

Through therapy, and the support of a few good friends, I’ve reached the point where I think I can tell stories again. It’s going to be slow progress, I’m certain, as I have only a couple hours a day to work on new things, but it will be progress, and the thing that stopped me will no longer stand in my way. I refuse to let it.

The new stories probably won’t be continuations of existing series. Not for awhile, perhaps not ever, though I won’t say never. I’m just too far removed from the mindset that wrote those stories, and anything I did with them would likely feel quite a bit different.

If there’s one thing this virus lock-down has taught me, it’s this: You never know when the weirdest shit will happen that could potentially ruin your dream forever. Go after it before there’s no time left. If there’s something in your way, go around it, over it, move it, or destroy it.


If you’re wondering what this means for the software side of my life, specifically TrackerBox and StoryBox, I’ll have an update on those next week. They were affected by the event that occurred, too, and I want to address them in a separate post.

There will be new books

First, short story time.

I’ve been working through some mental bullshit. Some of you know that. I may or may not have been clear about it on the blog in the past. It is what it is.

Artistic work, being what it is, relies on being able to clear away that mental bullshit (or harness it) for that time period in which you’re creating. You have to be able to lose yourself in what you’re doing, especially if you’re writing. If you can’t lose yourself in the story your creating, and you allow your real life to intrude, it becomes harder and harder to make progress.

These are my word counts for the past six years. Read ’em and weep.

2012: 256k
2013: 199k
2014: 51k
2015: 49k
2016: 39k
2017: 32k
2018: 16k

Can you guess what happened? The voice of a person close to me took up residence in my head, and once it was there, I couldn’t get it out. Fear made the voice stronger and stronger until it choked me.

This person never intended this to happen to me. They never actually said the things that echoed within the confines of my skull. But I let them in, magnified them, and they became my own personal writing hell to the point where I was wondering if I was a writer anymore, or even if I wanted to be.

I’ve been on the cusp of solving this problem for a couple months, now. I could feel it. It was palpable. I just didn’t know exactly when.

Until this past Monday.

An event occurred, something that was a bit stressful, but generally not earth shattering. I’m keeping the details private, because the person involved may not want them public, but it set things in motion inside me. It was the push I needed.

The unwanted voice in my head that I couldn’t get rid of? It’s gone. The fear and stress associated with it? Gone. I wrote 1100 words on Tuesday, 2600 words on Wednesday, 3200 words on Thursday, 3100 words on Friday, and 1400 words on a fairly hectic Saturday. More than eleven thousand words this week. Compare that to all of 2018. The 3200 words on Thursday? They were the most words I’d written in a single day in three and a half years, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s writing.

All because I was able to exorcise a voice from my head that I’d magnified into a mammoth, frightening demon that was sucking the life out of me.

Don’t let negative voices into your head. Ignore people who have opinions about your work or about what you should be doing, especially if they choose to share them with you without your asking. Even if they are close to you. Especially if they are close to you. Your art and well-being are more important than their uninformed opinions.

Now, story time is over. On to the part of this post that sort of resembles the title.

I’m working on a new fantasy series, tentatively titled Sorcerer’s Bane. The first book is done (it was done over a year ago). The second book will hit the half-way mark on Monday or Tuesday, and there will be at least three more after that. The release date of the first book is tentatively scheduled for the end of April. Pre-orders for the other titles in the series may become available at that time, but the plans for that are subject to change.

Following Sorcerer’s Bane, I’ll be writing a few more Grim Repo novels. These will likely be about 20% longer than Parted Out, and like Sorcerer’s Bane, will come out one after the other until the story arc is finished.

And then, following the Grim Repo books, I’m finally going to finish A Wizard’s Work. The reason I’m putting off until later is that both the Sorcerer’s Bane books and the Grim Repo books are much shorter than the AWW books will be, and I want to be sure I’m in a good writing rhythm before tackling them.

I may sprinkle in some other short projects here and there, but for the most part I will be focusing on these three series for the next year to year and a half.

If it sounds like a lot, it is a lot. It sounds daunting, to be honest, when I write it all out, but like they say, you eat an elephant one bite at a time.

And you write series one book at a time. I’m going to have one hell of a good time.