I became a writer because of 1970s TV Carl Kolchak

KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER, Darren McGavin, 1974-75

The 1970s were a boon for TV dramas based on fantasy, science fiction, and horror. We had shows like Battlestar Galactica, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Incredible Hulk, Buck Rogers, and of course my favorite, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. I started binge-watching these classic shows and they reminded me of why I became a writer. Carl Kolchak may not have had a big impact on television (it only lasted one season with two television movies) but it had a major impact on me.

First and foremost, I need to give credit where credit is due. Darrin McGavin (1922-2006) was the heart and soul of that series. He may be remembered more as being the foul-mouthed “old man” in A Christmas Story, he will forever be Carl Kolchak to me. His tenacity in searching for the truth in a story, no matter how bizarre or unusual, was evident in every episode. McGavin’s portrayal of the intrepid reporter, especially in the narrative that accompanied each episode, showed his incredible dedication to the truth in journalism (something we seem to be missing today). In any case, as I watched Carl Kolchak from my living room floor as an impressionable teenager, I knew I wanted to be just like him.

The Rakshasa, Episode 11, Horror in the Heights

Murders caused by vampires, werewolves, zombies, and swamp monsters (the Creole legend of Père Malfait) were scoffed by the police and his editor, but it was Kolchak who sought the truth behind the crime. It was how he went about his investigation and the way he wrote the story that endeared him to the audience. Even how the authorities reacted at the end of each episode to actually prove he was right (i.e. in episode 2, they buried the zombie for a third time with salt in his mouth and his lips sewn shut). To me, as an impressionable teenager, that made me the sceptic I am today.

It was also a great introduction to many myths and legends, some of which I never heard of before. I mentioned, Père Malfait, but also a Native American bear-spirit legend Matchi Manitou, a Hindu demon called a Rakshasa, an Aztec cult, a succubus, even a headless, sword-wielding motorcycle rider. As someone who watched his fair share of Hammer horror pictures in the 1970s, it was a blast. Yes, the make-up and special effects were substandard by today’s youth, no CGI, but it was scary back then.

“Maybe its appeal remains because it was then, and remains now, a very different kind of show. Maybe people see, in the monsters and the way public knowledge and discussion are stopped, symbols for all those things various government entities wish the people not to know about. Maybe people — fans — admire Kolchak because he just keeps on trying to do what he sees as work that has value; trying to keep the public informed about what is going on.”

Jeff Rice, creator of the Kolchak movies and TV series

Add to it the dark, shadow-filled production that kept the corners dark and the anticipation gnawing. And the music, oh the music . . . The theme song for Kolchak by Gil Mellé is unforgettable. Once you hear it, you’re hooked. It is so recognizable you never forget it. Overall, it kept you entertained as an impressionable young teen on a Friday night.

You see, early in my life, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Unfortunately, my art skills were not up to par and I missed writing the stories behind the art. I think that’s why I went into the U.S. Navy as a Navy Journalist. It was that inner Carl Kolchak speaking to me. It was my own chance to write, investigate, and tell the stories. Eventually, that led to me being an author.

Darrin McGavin as Carl Kolchak

It’s sad that Kolchak only lasted one season. According to IMDB, “the series was cancelled because Darren McGavin asked to be released from his contract. He became disappointed with the series’ scripts and was exhausted from his uncredited producing duties. Three scripts were left unproduced. Two of them were adapted into a Kolchak series of comic books in 2003.” But the character of Carol Kolchak, as I said earlier, was all Darrin McGavin. In the book, The Night Stalker Companion, McGavin explained how he came up with the iconic look of the intrepid reporter.

“In the first draft of the script, Kolchak was wearing Bermuda shorts, socks and brown shoes, a Hawaiian shirt and a golf cap. Apparently somebody thought that was the uniform for a newspaperman in Las Vegas. But there was a line in there about him wanting to get back to New York, so I got this image of a New York newspaperman who had been fired in the summer of 1962 when he was wearing a seersucker suit, his straw hat, button-down Brooks Brothers shirt and reporter’s tie, and he hasn’t bought any clothes since. Well, I knew that was the summer uniform of reporters in New York of that time, so that’s how the wardrobe came about. I added the white tennis shoes and that was Kolchak. It might have been totally at odds with what everybody else was wearing in Las Vegas, but he hasn’t bought any clothes since then. You need goals for a character and Kolchak’s goal is to get back to the big time. He always wanted to get back to New York and work on the Daily News.”

Darrin McGavin, The Night Stalker Companion

When I think about the stories I write and why I became a writer in the first place, it always goes back to Carl Kolchak. That was where I got the “bug” to sit at a typewriter (which I wrote many of my early stories on) and put my thoughts and ideas down. It is that idea that there’s something out there, a story to tell, that escapes the human eye. It takes only one person to tell the story.

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers. Get ready for The Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series, coming soon, and the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates.


One of the great things about the independent author community is the camaraderie, the close ties we all share in our desire to be storytellers. We share our books for peer review, our working knowledge of the world of self-publishing, and advice on marketing, writing, and anything else to make a name. We also talk about each other through social media, through book reviews and author interviews. It was through one of these connections I met Ally Kelly and her group, Worldsmyths – A Haven for Fantasy Writers.

Allison “Ally” Kelly lives in a small town in eastern Connecticut, where she’s lived since she was three. Ally has an Associate’s Degree in General Studies and Graphic Design. She founded Worldsmyths in 2016, after seeing a need for a writers group focused on the fantasy genre. First established as a forum, Worldsmyths serves as a group for speculative fiction writers. In 2021, Worldsmyths will be celebrating their fifth anniversary with a fantasy anthology to be published.

Ally and her team were kind enough to interview me for their blog, so I am returning the favor with an interview of Ally.

What are your aspirations as a writer?

Mostly I just want to be published. I’ve dreamed of being a published author since I was a little girl, and my writing journey has been a long and ever changing one, but I think it’s definitely heading in the right direction. As for where I see myself, hopefully with at least one or two books with my name on them in my hands. I’m currently planning on self-publishing, so we’ll see where that takes me.

What challenges have you overcome and how has this changed your life?

Most of my challenges have been on an educational level. I’ve always been kind of an average student, and I struggled with pretty much any subject outside of English. It took me a long time to graduate college the first time, and the path wasn’t easy, but I think I came out stronger in the end. I went back to school a second time, because I realized that I might have some kind of talent with graphic design/social media outside of them being hobbies, and graduated with that degree, but have just kind of been in limbo with that since then.

Do you have a hero / role model who has shaped you or your values or character?

This is honestly a tough question to answer, and I’m not sure if I have one. I feel like my parents have both influenced my values in big ways, and I have relatives who’ve done so, too. Judy Garland and Lucille Ball have always been heroes to me. My favorite movie is The Wizard of Oz, and as I’ve grown older I’ve learned more about her life and the struggles she went through as an actress living in the twenties. The same goes with Lucile Ball – I used to watch I Love Lucy on Nick at Nite and would crack up laughing because I thought she was so funny. She had such a huge influence on how women are portrayed in television today, which is pretty awesome.

What aspect of the writing process do you find challenging? Easy?

The most challenging for me is probably world building, although I would say trying to structure a novel and make sure the plot make sense are close seconds. I also struggle with self-editing, but I think part of that comes from not having reached the point of needing to self-edit a whole draft until the last few years, so it’s more of a lack of experience thing. I’m not sure if there’s one single thing that I think is the absolute easiest part of writing, but I love when I’m writing a scene or chapter and I have a clear vision for how it’s going to go, and the words just flow from my fingers without struggle.

Who is your favorite author and/or book genre? List some of your favorite books.

Juliet Marillier is my favorite author. I read the first book of her Sevenwaters series when I was a junior in high school, Daughter of the Forest, and I didn’t know how much that book would end up influencing me as a writer and reader at the time, but I fell in love with it. Other favorites include Rick Riordan, Kristin Cashore, and the Harry Potter series. Throughout a lot of my childhood I used to read the Star Wars novels that are now “Legends” and almost exclusively read those books, so many of those novels are favorites, as well.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming or new authors?

Find a writing community to be part of. It can be overwhelming and scary, especially if the community is already pretty established and has a lot of members, or if you’re generally pretty shy about your writing, but it’s 1,000% worth it. Something we pride ourselves on at Worldsmyths, my Discord writing community, is that we are a laidback community and won’t judge you if you’re new to writing and turn you away. We’ll always do our best to help steer you in the direction of helpful resources that can help you become a stronger writer and try to be as encouraging as we can. The friendships you find in writing communities are invaluable, as well.

Is there any place that you desire to travel to? Why do you want to go there?

Ireland. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to go there. Part of it is probably because my family is very Irish, and we have ancestors that probably came to America during the potato famine, and I’ve always loved that. Another part of it is that I’ve become more interested in writing stories with fairies over the last few years, and they’re a big part of my main project. The fairies I’ve created are very loosely inspired by Irish lore, and Ireland definitely has a lot of places that I could see as being visual representation of some of the places in my main project. I was supposed to go to Ireland in May 2020, but with the pandemic it had to be put on hold, hopefully until 2022.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on the first novel in a high fantasy trilogy. I’m several drafts deep into the first book, but it’s had to go through a lot of developmental changes so it’s still a ways from being published.  The first book is currently titled Fae’s Gambit, and is about a girl named Alana who has to travel through the Fae lands in order to save her brother from a curse that’s been placed on him, but it turns out she’s meant for much more.

Make sure you check out all the talented fantasy writers that are a part of the Worldsmyths group and follow them. It’s how we make our writing community grow!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

How far have we gone to ban Dr. Seuss?

Banned' Dr. Seuss Books Delisted on eBay After Selling for Thousands
The six Dr. Seuss books that will no longer be published by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, including And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry StreetIf I Ran the ZooMcElligot’s PoolOn Beyond Zebra!Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer.

I have spoken here often about free speech and the First Amendment. As a writer, I am a firm believer in this sacred institution. I stand by the adage that “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend your right to say it.” That said, have we (as a country and a society) gone over the edge with political correctness that we are banning Dr. Seuss?

I grew up reading Dr. Seuss, watching the TV specials, the movies, etc. His books have been an institution and a focal point in children’s literature. And yet, we are examining everything to the point of lunacy for political, racial, and social content, forcing it from our lives.

Like any parent, the first books I bought, read, and gave to my children were Dr. Seuss. We didn’t look at it through the lens of political correctness, we looked at it as an easy way to teach our kids about the environment (The Lorax) or counting and colors (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) or even behaving themselves while having fun (The Cat in the Hat). Are we also going to erase all the movies and TV specials based around Dr. Seuss?

I applaud the New York Public Library (NYPL) who took a stand against this audacity, saying, “As public libraries do not censor material, the very few copies we have of the six Dr. Seuss titles in question will remain in circulation until they are no longer in acceptable condition,’’ the NYPL said in a statement. “At that point, we will not be able to replace them, as the books are out of print. So, eventually, they will no longer be available to borrow.” This is the cost of our political correctness.

I think we are continuing to have this conversation on sensitivity in literature, especially anything written in the early 20th century. Is some of it insensitive to race and culture? Absolutely. They, like any form of entertainment of that time period, is a product of that time. It needs to be looked at through that spectrum, not the lens of today’s “cancel culture” who think anything and everything that is racially or socially insensitive needs to be eliminated. Remember these words:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it…”

George Santayana, Spanish philosopher

We cannot simply erase the past, thinking it will create a better future. If we don’t learn from that history, we will just make those same mistakes all over again. Why can’t we just look at something and appreciate it for the sentiment and not outright cancel it?

Sorry for the rant, but back to Dr. Seuss… I understand some of the imagery in “If I Ran the Zoo” and “And to think I Saw It on Mulberry Street” are racially insensitive. We didn’t have such a world view when Theodore Geisel wrote and drew these books. The imagery is what it is, but to ban the books outright is, well, fascist. It’s the same thing that Adolph Hitler and the Nazi’s did to books written by Jews or that didn’t portray the Aryan image as they wanted it. So now, we’re doing it to anything that the “PC Police” say is insensitive to whatever race, religion, or creed.

We don’t need to ban books. We need to look at them through the lens of the time they were written, understand why they were written, so that we can have a conversation and learn what not to write or how to act. How can we understand the evil of racial injustice without “To Kill a Mockingbird” or the plight of runaway slaves without “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and yet these books are being banned because of “racially insensitive language.” Do we ban rap music that uses the same language? No, and we shouldn’t so why ban books?

You can’t write a story about the south or any history without using somewhat bad language. I found myself in such a conundrum while writing my latest novel, Corsair and the Sky Pirates. The novel is a steampunk historical fiction set in the late 1800s, early 1900s. I have a very diverse group of characters, and the language back then was not PC. I will not use the “N-word” or anything like that, but I wanted to convey the repugnance of the villains in how they treat people. How do I do that without using such foul language? These are the issues that writers face today, because we want to reach our audience without jeopardizing our relationship with them.

So please, can we stop banning books! If it’s not your cup of tea, don’t buy it, read it, watch it or listen to it. If you want to understand what effect banning books has on society, read “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “1984” by George Orwell, or “V for Vendetta” by Alan Moore. Then maybe, you’ll understand why we shouldn’t do it.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

A new Steampunk Anthology from Crystal Peake Publishers to include “Corsair and the Sky Pirates”

Back in October, I entered a steampunk writing contest through Crystal Peake Publishers. I entered a short story Corsair and the Sky Pirates for their consideration. For the first time, my hard work and imagination paid off. My story was selected to be included in a Steampunk Anthology to be published by Crystal Peake. I am honored and blessed to be considered for this. This is the first time, as an independent author, that I’m being published without all the trappings of paying to be published. It’s just so amazing, I am on “Cloud 9 3/4” right now!

Corsair and the Sky Pirates tells the story of a chance meeting between Nikola Tesla and Jules Verne that led to a world powered by steam generated not from coal or fuel, but a meteor fragment. Tesla discovered a comet named Uriel was raining pieces of these powerful meteorites across the globe. It led to an industrial revolution years ahead of its time, along with an unparalleled rivalry between Tesla and Thomas Edison, but progress has a price. While the rich and powerful lived in luxury in this new world, the everyday people groveled beneath the boot of their corporate masters. One man brought hope to the downtrodden. His exploits were legendary, his crew infamous, and his airship a vision of the future. Corsair and his Sky Pirates flew around the world, carrying out deeds that spurred the imagination. These modern-day “Robin Hood” bandits stole from the robber barons and corporate elites and returned the spoils to the people.

I will make more updates on the other authors I’m honored to join in this anthology as well as where you can purchase this collection of steampunk short stories. Thank you for your continued support of this independent author and crazy dreamer. 2021 is starting out as a great year!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

My #NaNoWriMo project is finished, so now what?

I realize this may not qualify as a National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) project, but it was mine. This past year, I wrote a monster of a fantasy novel called The Last Magus. It was 189,000 words… Like I said, a monster. I just writing and writing until I put a pin in it and thought it was done. Boy, was I wrong.

I realized that it was just too big, so I decide I needed to turn one novel into two. That became my #NaNoWriMo project… Taking one gigantic read and cutting into two. This meant finding a good halfway point, a new epilogue for the first novel to help transition to the new second book, then a new prologue to keep readers in tuned to the storyline and introduce the second novel. Plus, fill in where needed to make them each make sense as two books instead of one. It was a lot to contend with.

So now, my work is finally complete. Instead of one 189,000 word monster, I have one novel at 110,000 words and another at 82,000 words. As a writer, it makes it a little easier that I now have two books to market to publishers and literary agents, not just one. I mean, I’ve been told that 189,000 words is just to much for a single book, but tell that to Gone with the Wind or War and Peace, right? I don’t know which is easier, but what’s done is done. The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are their own stories.

Now comes the hard part of trying to get someone to pick them up to publish. I will go the self-publishing route on Amazon Publishing, if necessary, to get my stories out there but I want to take the time and see if someone will take a chance on me. In the meantime, I will continue to send out submission after submission to whomever is open for submissions. For now, here’s a brief glimpse into the world of The Last Magus.

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The Kingdom of Attlain was a strange world of magic and miracles of modern invention. Humans and Demi-Humans—Alfs, Dwarves, Catsei, and many other unique races—built cities on the technological might of modern marvels called “Magius Engines.” These engines, powered by magic, light the darkness through electric lamps, connected the cities, villages, and towns in all directions by a network of Magius-powered trains and iron-hulled ships. It was a world of endless wonders, as well as many dangers.

Everyone knew Attlain as “the land of eternal magic” and rightfully deserved the distinction. Magic was at the heart of Attlain society, with nearly a third of the population able to use it somehow. Laws governed the use, and misuse, of magic under the watchful eye of the Helios Arcanum. The Arcanum researched and protected the secrets of magic, ensuring no one abused it within the four corners of Attlain.

Across the landscape—Solara and the Iron Wasteland, along the Skjem-Tur Mountains, to Celestrium by the sea—lived monsters of all types. These were creatures of all manner and breadth, vicious and evil, threatening to everyone in Attlain. To that end, the people utilized professional adventurers to root out these creatures and keep them safe. These fighters, magic casters, clerics, and the like kept the ever-changing population at bay. Among these adventurers was a unique group of men and women known as the Magus.

Since time immemorial, the Magus were the protectors of magic, armed with a magic caster’s power and a warrior’s strength. They were able to summon various magical weapons from specialized caches they wore known as an Armory of Attlain. They were legendary among the people of Attlain until the Magus Rebellion. When a few Magus decided they should lead the people instead of protecting them, they rebelled; but the insurrection ended from within the Magus ranks. However, the rebellion already did the damage. The remaining Magus were cast out, feared, and outlawed by all accounts except those few who remained loyal to the crown and lived as adventurers. For generations, they had all but disappeared from Attlain.

After decades of unknown absence from the landscape, a new Magus emerged to reclaim the banner and restore the Magus’s dignity. His name was Marcus Gideon, the Last Magus of Attlain.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

I’m back after my self-imposed hiatus to protest the social media gods and I find myself in 1984

Social networks are the “Big Brother” of today!

So, I took off the past week, ignored my social media accounts and didn’t like, post, tweet, or blog about anything. I thought a simple protest against the social media giants for being “censors” when they’re not supposed to be would gain traction. I thought people would care about “Big Brother” keeping tabs on what we could read, talk about, or share with others. I thought wrong. The world kept on turning, the sun rose and set, and life continued as we know it.

And still, to this day, Twitter and Facebook (and Google to an extent) are deciding what constitutes “free speech” online. They put their own bias into what is available on their platforms. Now, please don’t think of this as a political rant, because it’s not. It’s about free speech, the First Amendment, and the rights we have as American citizens. I refuse to be locked down by these or any other social media platform for expressing my own point of view. If not, we are destined to bow at the altar of social media.

George Orwell said it best when he wrote his prophetic novel 1984 in the year 1949:

“In a world of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act!”

The people will not revolt. They will not look up from their screens long enough to notice what’s happening.”

George Orwell, 1984
George Orwell's Inspirational Quotes from “1984” - Orwell Monegros Project

Do you see what I mean? It’s one of the things I love about being an author. Science fiction has always had a prophetic way of seeing into the future, from Jules Verne to George Orwell. It’s strange how science fiction authors have such a deep insight into the world that they know where we’re heading. This is one such moment in history. Whether you believe it or not, we are living in a world that George Orwell imagined.

So now, what do I do? Do I end my social media footprint altogether and not bow before Twitter, Facebook and the like? This would probably be helpful to my psyche but limit my exposure as an author. Or, do I just continue on and hope that these tech giants are brought down to our level through the courts and other legislation? I mean, that’s what happened to Microsoft in the 1990s when they got to big. Then there’s Section 230, a provision of the Communication Decency Act (CDA) of 1996.

“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230).

from Electronic Frontier Foundation (eff.org)

Per eff.org, “online intermediaries that host or republish speech are protected against a range of laws that might otherwise be used to hold them legally responsible for what others say and do.” This gives social media platforms broad latitudes to determine what can or cannot be said on their websites. That, in turn, pisses off people from the Left and the Right which could mean an end to those protections.

There are more questions than answers. I will continue to express my views, no matter how controversial they may be according to the social media “hall monitors” watching over me. I was silent for a week, but no more.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Stop Censorship now!

As an author, I am a firm believer in the First Amendment and Freedom of speech. Censorship of speech or news, political or otherwise, is not acceptable. I will not be posting on my blog or any of my social media accounts until this Orwellian censorship stops.

The First Amendment is clear:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The actions taken by Facebook and Twitter shows that they believe they are the arbiters of speech. This is wrong. It doesn’t matter what your political views or allegiances, the news is reported and people decide whether to believe it or not.

These past four years has been on false or misleading news and information. Such is the burden of a free society, but if we are free, then our thought and views should be open. It is not up to these social media giants to make those decisions for us.

I hope other authors will join me in standing up for Freedom of Speech.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Getting back into your #WIP one sentence at a time

The frustration of not writing | A Writer's Life

The absolute frustration of being a writer can cause major headaches, break up families, decrease in your sex life, and cause everything from drug to alcohol problems. All joking aside, THESE ARE the actually feelings of a writer under pressure to finish their work in progress (#WIP) and its been well recorded since the dawn of time. Have you seen some of those early cave paintings?

“The best musicians don’t always get record deals. The best writers don’t always get published. The best painters have showrooms full of work that never sells. To an extent, this is how it has always been.” Jeff Goins, Writer

To that end, I have been forging ahead, one sentence at a time, and it’s actually been working for me. My goal is at least one page per night, at a minimum. Sometimes I only get a couple of paragraphs in, but at least I’m writing. It’s important to get the train moving along the track, even at a slow pace. Just keep things moving… Think Dory (“Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!”) Sorry, bad analogy, but it works.

The good news is I’M NOT ALONE! I have read hundreds of social media posts from other writers expressing the same frustration. It’s a disease amongst this creative community that doesn’t seem to stay long. It jumps from writer to writer and it’s as bad as the flu (at times) and facemasks won’t help you fend it off.

The best solution is WORK! “WORK, WORK, WORK!” (to quote the incomparable Mel Brooks) and don’t stop. If it’s not coming to you, my best solution is going back a few pages and reread what you’ve already written. I find myself back into the story, making a few changes here and there, and it gets my thoughts in line to continue writing. Soon, I add on one more page, then two, then three, etc.

I have been dealing with a serious case of writer’s block this past summer (which I talked about here) and I’ve finally gotten myself over the hump to where I am writing every day now. It’s been a mighty hurdle, believe me. The first day I got over my block, I actually wrote ten pages in one sitting. It was magnificent, like a breath of fresh air on a crisp fall day.

That’s why it’s called a #WIP. It’s a work “in progress” meaning that it’s not finished. You’ve got to cross that creative gap (so named by Ira Glass here) and take a leap of faith. You have to believe in yourself and the story you’re trying to tell. Remember, you’re the author and you’re the only one who can tell your story. If you believe in that, what’s there to stop you?

I’ve already completed two #WIP that I am currently trying to get published… THE PROMETHEUS ENGINE: Book Four of the FOREVER AVALON Series and THE LAST MAGUS: The Clockwork Heart. (HINT: Any interested parties, please contact me here! Yes, I may be a little desperate… All writers are!) Now, I’m working on the next two installments of the series. I’m trying to stay in the moment and keep the story moving along. It’s not easy, but it’s like I said, “one sentence at a time…” That’s the key for any writer.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Read some alternative historical fiction to understand our history

Harry Turtledove Combo [3 TITLES] How Few Remain (1997), The Great War: American Front (1999), & Ruled Britannia (2003): Harry Turtledove: Amazon.com: BooksThere’s been a lot of news lately about protesters and anarchists causing chaos and tearing down statues. Some see these as a progressive move forward in America, while others look at it as rewriting our history. There are good arguments on both sides. When it comes to statues of Confederate Generals and leaders in the Confederacy, I have no problem with removing them. They should not be out in the open, on display, but rather in a museum or national park (Civil War battlefield) to explain the war and why it happened. That’s where history belongs, in the museums and parks that illustrate why we are here.

First, let me say that I support and understand the arguments for black lives matter. I understand because my daughter-in-law is African-American and, listening to the experiences of her and her family, it makes me realize that my experiences are vastly different from theirs. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in North Carolina, and I never saw or experienced issues with race. I was raised not to judge people by the color of their skin. Even during my 23 years in the Navy, it was never an issue. In fact, most of the senior enlisted and officers I served under were African American. Like I said, it has never been an issue with me.

However, in my lifetime, I discovered that it’s never a good idea to erase or rewrite history. Remember the famous quote from George Santayana… “Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.” I truly believe that. They are using these otherwise peaceful protests to vandalize these statues. First, it was Confederate monuments, now its Washington, Jefferson, Grant, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and others. They even vandalized statues of abolitionists, women suffragettes, Winston Churchill and Gandhi. It’s no longer about police reform or rights of African Americans, but about changing America itself.

I will agree that we are far from perfect as a nation. What country is? There are parts of our history that were long considered brutal, horrific and nothing to be proud of. And yet, it’s what led us to be the people we are today. The best way to understand history is to look at alternate history of what could have been. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, as both a novel and TV series, gives us a glimpse of the world if the Nazi’s won World War II, even if you look past the science fiction vibe of the story. For me, the best writer of alternative historical fiction is Harry Turtledove.

Harry Turtledove takes one point in time, one instantaneous moment in history, and changes it, altering the future and changing the history as we know it. The best example of this is his novel, How Few Remain. This is the first book of a series that spans from ten years after the Civil War through World War II, but with different outcomes. In this alternate reality, the South wins the war, Lincoln is ousted as president and becomes a stout Marxist, Lee and Longstreet eventually become Presidents of the Confederacy, Great Britain and France are allies of the South while Germany becomes an ally of the USA, there is no rise to fascism in Germany, and instead of a Jewish Holocaust, the mass killings happen to blacks in the South. This twisted view of history is only a possibility, but it demonstrates the power of our own history and how it could have been.

Harry Turtledove has done other books outside of U.S. history; if the Romans continued to rule Europe in the modern day; if Japan won the war in the Pacific, the Korean War escalates into World War III; and other more fantastic and science fiction based alternative histories (aliens invading at the peak of World War II, magic existing in the world and how that changed history, and a trilogy where the Yellowstone Caldera erupts at some unspecified point in the future.) His writings are immaculate and intensively researched to where you actually believe that these timelines could exist.

I’m not trying to be political here. I am a firm believer that we need to learn from our history, and destroying statues to erase history is what the Nazis did, what the Taliban and Isis did, what every dictator in history did to erase the history they disagreed with and put their own in place. It’s not how we learn. We learn from remembering our history to make the world a better place, because that’s what we do as authors.

The stories of our lives are written down by the authors to keep the knowledge alive.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

A great week for THE OUTLANDER WAR with reviews and interviews

It has been a banner week for myself, for The Outlander War, and the Forever Avalon series in general. I will admit that, as a writer, I love it when people read my books and just get excited about reading it. It’s not about the accolades and awards, but rather the affirmation that I’m doing something that people enjoy. It’s what makes being an author so “kick ass” if you know what I mean. And this past week has been no exception.

I received my first review of the third novel in the Forever Avalon series, The Outlander War, from one of its editors. Michael Stettes is a writer-editor like me, whom I work with in my day job in Washington, D.C. About two years ago, I asked him for his help in editing The Outlander War. To do that, he first asked to read my first two books and then he edited my third before I sent it off to the publisher. Mike was a big help to me and his honesty about my writing and storytelling made me understand the writing process, my often “wordiness” in sentences, and plot holes that I needed to avoid. He recently posted an honest review about The Outlander War.

“The Outlander War is a clever, action-fueled tale of ancient Arthurian magic vs. the modern military, conjured in striking detail through the expertise of veteran Mark Piggott. Every page of this magic vs. machine epic is packed with brilliant details, clever characters, and powerful, heartfelt heroism.”

Those words mean a lot to me. I love hearing from my fans, but coming from someone I consider a peer is a real honor. Thanks Mike!

Lastly, I had the great honor to be interviewed by another peer, author Robert B. Hayek. RB Hayek has been writing for over a decade. A graduate of Cal State Fullerton, Hayek authored two books and a writing credit on two web series. He has written freelance for several websites and also has worked for several prominent companies including Fox Sports and CBS Sports. He invited me to participate in an author interview.

“Piggott went the writer’s route and that enabled him to expand his imagination, and his horizons on the possibilities to what he might do. One of the principal themes in his stories is mixing folklore with fantasy.”

You can check out Robert and his website, providing various services to authors, by clicking here and check out my interview here.

UPDATE: Right after its release, Robert’s interview with yours truly was feature in the online literary magazine, S.H. Literary Times Daily. Congratulations Robert and thanks for the awesome exposure for Forever Avalon!

So, as always, I’d like to put a plug here about helping out those independent authors. Reviews are the life-blood of any authors but it means the most to those of us trying to get by with a big-name publisher or literary agent under our belts. Please, if you read a book, LEAVE A REVIEW. Good or bad, I want to know how I’m doing, just be honest. Thanks again for all your support!

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.