Go See “I Can Only Imagine” and take a box of tissues with you

Image result for i can only imagineI don’t like to touch on religion a lot in my blog. It’s a subject that can go ten ways from Sunday, for lack of a better word. But after seeing “I Can Only Imagine” at the movies today, I just can’t help myself. No matter what you believe when it comes to God, this movie will bring you closer than ever before.

As much as I love the fantasy/adventure genre in most of the movies I watch, its rather refreshing to sit through a real heartwarming, family, faith-based movie. The story of Bart Millard, lead singer of the Christian band Mercy Me and writer of the song “I Can Only Imagine” is one of personal struggle, abuse, and redemption. This is the story of how he fought his demons to follow his dream of being a singer/songwriter, that ended with him writing the most popular song in the history of Christian music.

The beginning of this movie was heart wrenching. His father abused him, mentally and physically, and his mother left him behind with his abusive father. Even with the love of his longtime girlfriend, he kept the pain from that abuse bottled up inside. It caused him to almost lose the passion he had for music. Then his life changed forever, and he wrote the song that would change him, his band, and the world of Christian music.

This is a simple story… No plot twists, tricks, or things out of left field. The story flows beautifully that it draws you in with each passing moment. The music is the heart of this story and it will bring you to tears. From the moment he started to reconcile with his father until the very end, it was like Niagara Falls. It brought joy to my heart and soul, to the very end, when he sings his iconic song for the first time. You can’t help but feel the presence of God, especially at the very end.

Like I said earlier, its so nice to see a movie like this out of Hollywood. Faith-based movies are on the rise, and I think Hollywood is starting to take notice. Even the actors and actresses are beginning to see the change in the industry. Dennis Quaid, who played the father Arthur Millard brilliantly, said “I hadn’t’ heard the song, but when I read the script it hit me so profoundly in the heart in a place where I don’t even have words.”

“And that’s what the song does and it grows on you, too. Just like you grow in the Spirit, the song grows on you in that way, too. In the end, it’s just a song of joy,” he concluded.

If you need to find that something to lift your spirit, fill your heart with love, and bring you a little bit closer to God, you need to see this movie. Even if you don’t have that kind of relationship with God, see this movie. It might just change your perspective.

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

It’s Christmas time again, so let’s be politically incorrect for a change!

My Christmas tree is already up!

Let me start out by saying that I try not to be political in my blogs. In today’s society, espousing one’s political views can cause you world’s of hurt from the “trolls” whose only joy is to write terrible things about you from one end of the net to the other. That being said, I tend to be very politically incorrect when it comes to Christmas.

What started out as a reason to party and let loose centuries ago, with pagan sensibilities mind you, has become a time of family, celebration, and religious worship. It’s also caused many people to get a stick up their ass if you even say “Merry Christmas” to them.

What is wrong with Merry Christmas? All you’re doing is wishing someone a glad tidings at this festive time of year. It’s not like you’re flipping them the bird, yet some people want to stop us from saying Merry Christmas “in case” it offends someone. Anything I might say could offend anyone at any given time. That’s why we have freedom of speech in this country. Saying Merry Christmas to a perfect stranger is no different than wishing them a good morning/afternoon/evening; but if you’re one of those people who gets offended by it, you’re what’s wrong with society today, not me.

We need to put the fun back into the holidays and take out the stress. I love movies like “The Christmas Story” and “The Walton’s Homecoming Special” because they speak of a simpler time when we took the time for family, community, church and holiday spirit. It was about Christian, Jew, Agnostic or atheist. It was about the joy of Christmas.

I will admit, I do hate it how the holidays are slammed one into the other. The day after Halloween, every store is already decorated for Christmas. You don’t even get a chance to breathe. I saw a Christmas commercial for Best Buy on Halloween night. It was ridiculous.

I learned an interesting tidbit this year. President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually wanted Thanksgiving to fall the 3rd Thursday in November, instead of the 4th, to give retailers the extra week of holiday shopping. It’s strange how that isn’t necessary today because we’re shopping for Christmas from 1 November to 24 December with online shopping and aggressive retailers. Even “Black Friday” isn’t a thing anymore because some stores open on Thanksgiving night.

I understand this better than most because I live with a wonderful woman who eats, lives and breathes Christmas 24/7, 365 days a year. My lovely wife, Georgiene, listens to Christmas music, watches Christmas movies and keeps that joy of Christmas alive all year round. Though I sometimes find it annoying in the middle of Summer, it has given me a better appreciation for the holiday.

So, as we march into the last 25 days of Christmas, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza! And for the rest of you trolls out there, Bah Humbug!

When life gives you lemons, trade them for some limes and make a cocktail!

ba426c39-1691-42d8-a323-c17077cd46e1I usually don’t get personal in my blog. I try to focus on the things I love—faith, family, writing and all this geek! This week, I have to be serious because I’ve got some really bad news. After 30+ years of service to my country, as a Sailor for 23 and a civil servant for the last seven, I was fired from my job. For the first time in 30 years, I find myself unemployed.

I won’t go into details, so as to save myself from further embarrassment and humility, but safe to say it was my fault. I just didn’t think that, after all my years of service, this one mistake would get me fired. Unfortunately, it did.

If find myself at a crossroads. I’m 52-years-old, slightly overweight with only an associate degree in education. My experience in writing/editing and public relations is way up there, but without that piece of paper, many companies won’t take a chance on you.

I keep trying to find the silver lining in all of this and all I can find is that I now have more time to write. I can focus on the third book in my trilogy and continue marketing my books in hopes of gaining some recognition. Just before I was fired, I received word that one of the studio reps I pitched too at Pitchfest 2015 in New York asked for copies of my books. This could be the break I need to take my writing to the next level.

Unfortunately, the other shoe fell off and I was fired. From good news to very, very bad news, it hasn’t been a good week. As you can imagine, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster this past week. I’ve gone from feeling completely lost, a total failure to a glimmer of hope and faith that God will get me through this.

I have always had faith in God, believe in him, but I was never a religious person. I tried so many times but I always found an excuse not to go to church or pray on a daily basis. I don’t mean to get religious here with you, but I just wanted you to know what’s been going on inside me.

Everyone keeps telling me that, “when one door closes, another one opens” and I want to believe that. It’s just hard when you’re trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage, car payment, etc. I want to believe that things will get better but it’s hard when your actions have hurt so many in the process. My wife and my kids are also facing the brunt of me being fired and that puts a lot of guilt on me.

I guess I needed this opportunity to vent a little, and I appreciate you being there for me by reading this blog. I hope I can find the courage and fortitude to get back to writing, because it is what I love to do best. Right now, though, it’s hard to focus on writing a novel when I need to be writing my resume.

Any advice or kind words would be appreciated in the comments below. It’s going to be a long jaunt to reach the end, but to quote Clarence the Angel from “It’s a Wonderful Life” — A man with friends is not a failure!

Happy Fourth of July! It’s okay to be patriotic!


Happy 4th of July!

First and foremost, I want to wish everyone a Happy 4th of July! I hope your weekend is filled with fireworks, barbecue, family and friends. As a retired veteran, I am always proud to be a part of our nation’s birthday. I like to think it’s a sense of pride, although some in the world today might see it more as arrogance.

Is it arrogant to be proud and patriotic? I don’t think so. People have pride in their looks, in the job they do, in celebrating achievements through life, like graduations. What’s wrong with pride in one’s country?

To me, that pride is transcendent of not only who you are but where you live. People who come to America from other countries are proud of their heritage but that changes when they raise their hand and take the oath to become American citizens. I’ve witnessed such a ceremony and, believe me, it’s a very emotional moment when an immigrant proudly calls him/herself an American for the first time.

In the Forever Avalon series, Lord Bryan MoonDrake starts out as a simple Sailor, devoted to God, duty, country and family, while serving in the U.S. Navy. That patriotism—that pride—transcends when he finds himself stranded on Avalon, after he discovered his extraordinary  lineage with one of the original Knights of the Round Table.

At that moment, he changed his loyalty, devotion to duty and his patriotism from the United States of America to Avalon. Though his world changed completely for him, he took it in stride as he stepped up and assumed the mantle of the Gil-Gamesh. Instead of answering to the President of the United States, he now answered to the King of Avalon.

This may seem simple enough plotline for a story but it’s really not. A lot of thought and emotion goes into decisions like this. The real question is, what happens if those loyalties are tested?

This is a tease for the next installment of the Forever Avalon series I’m currently working on, tentatively title The Outlander War! I hope to have it finished by the end of the year. Now, those of you who’ve read The Dark Tides know what little twist I’m talking about; and for those of you who haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to pick up my book. I guarantee that, after you do, you’ll be eagerly anticipating the third book.

In any case, I guess what I was really trying to say is that, though it may not be “politically correct” to be patriotic anymore, I wear it with a great deal of pride. I am proud to have served my country, I am proud to live in the greatest nation on the planet and I am definitely proud to be an American. Have a safe and happy Independence Day! God bless you and God bless the United States of America!

The Dark Tides is now available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iUniverse.

Adding faith and religion to novels without preaching to the choir

faith-3I want to start out by saying that this blog post is not meant to demean or insult anyone’s faith or religion, quite the opposite. I want to talk about how I incorporated my faith and religious beliefs in my novels as a writer.

When I was deployed overseas, the one thing we were regularly briefed about was to never talk politics or religion with people we encountered in the foreign ports. These were considered taboo as they can change the tone of a discussion rather quickly, and I tend to agree, especially in this day and age. In any discussion about religion, you might find yourself hit from the left and the right.

I don’t really consider myself a religious person. I believe and put all my faith in God for what happens in my life but I have been hurt by “organized religion” on more than one occassion so I distrust the church. I have found myself coming back to it, though, through the teachings of Joel Osteen. His sermons are quite inspirational and are giving me hope in the church again.

When you try to translate faith into writing, it can be rather difficult: Your “one-on-one” connection with God is very personal and you don’t want someone to get angry reading your book if they’re looking for a fantasy novel and instead find a Sunday School lesson. I approached it to reflect my own faith through the faith of my characters.

Here are a couple of examples. In my book, The Dark Tides, as Captain Edan O’Brian is about to take the Morning Star on a cliff run , he recites an old Sailor’s prayer:

“Though my sails be torn and ragged and my mast be turned about; though the night wind chills me to my soul. Though spray stings my eye and the stars no sight provide, give me just enough Lord ‘til morning light to hold.”

This was a simple prayer yet it conveyed so much about a Sailor’s faith in God to help him through the worst conditions. That was the same faith I carried with me through my 23-year career in the U.S. Navy.

Another great example from The Dark Tides is Sarafina’s prayer before the goblin attack at the Battle of Merlin’s Pinnacle:

“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle. My fortress, my high tower, my deliverer, my shield; and the One in whom I take refuge. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit … Amen.”

This was a warrior’s prayer and, as most of my fellow veterans can atest to, is an example of faith and courage before impending battle. These prayers were the best way I found to profess my own faith in God through my stories without turning them into a sermon.

That’s how I believe faith acts within our lives; a simple yet profound belief that God is there for you, in good times and bad. It is that faith that carries us through our life and into the next. Whatever your faith may be, I hope you are blessed in all that you do.