Video 6: Setting the Tone

This week’s video is looking at setting the tone for your work. I don’t think this is unconscious stuff for most writers: you kinda have a feel for how you want your story to work out before you start the dang thing.

That stated, it never hurts to put a little extra thought into why we have the thoughts, if you will. A neat little experiment, if you don’tmind me saying so… or at least, I think it’s worth thinking about.

Video 5: Main Characters

This video discusses how to flesh out and deepen your main characters. I mean, all of these videos could be hours-long discussions, but this one feels more so than even the other ones!

Plus, a surprise visit from a helpful assistant!


Video 4: Choosing a Genre

This video is about picking a genre for you to write in. My choice was always fairly easy… I love sci-fi and fantasy (“speculative fiction”) because it lets me do whatever I want. But it was a conscious decision on my part, and it probably should be for everyone else too!

Anyway, give it a look, hopefully it’s of some use to some of you!

Finished the Edits!

Phew! One entire novel, switched from 3rd Person to 1st Person! Go team!

That’s all I really have to say today… just glad to be finished. Tomorrow I’m going to work on a short story for another contest (I have an idea, not sure how well I’ll be able to translate it on paper, but we’ll see!). But for tonight? Tonight I’m going to drink coffee and relax.


Video 3: Pantsing vs Planning

As mentioned previously, I recorded a set of short informative videos, discussing my writing process. This week’s is about the differences between “pantsing” (or “discovery”) writers, and “planning” writers.

Just remember that all writers are kinda.. well, watch the video for my opinion on the matter!

Chicago Chatter

I write today from Adepticon, one of the larger (largest?) miniature wargaming conventions in North America.

Sadly, my internet connection is, generously speaking, poop. But that’s okay! I had a lovely few days playing games, hanging out with lovely people, and generally trying to be positive and extroverted (something that doesn’t come super naturally to me).

Tomorrow, very early, we head back to Ontario. And then back to my other job that pays for THIS job. Such is the cycle, as I think we all know.

Still! Edits to the novel are coming along very, very well, I have a bunch of additional videos to post for you and my lovely Patrons, and another short story that I’m trying to throw together for audio recording in the next week or two. So things are moving, albeit slowly. Thankfully, with Adepticon in the rear view mirror, my immediate painting obligations are completed (phew!), and I can focus more energy back into writing.

So, I guess in conclusion: yay writing, yay gaming, yay painting, but especially yay being able to do all three and here’s to more of all three in the near to very-near future!

Second Video: Choosing Your Audience

Well, I posted the second video that I did for Dana! I’m off to Chicago for a few days to write in a different location (likely from a location serving me my body-weight in deep dish pizza), but I can still post these up from there, I suspect.

The internet is a helluva thing some days.

Anyway! I hope everyone enjoys! And feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions!

Video Stuff!

As those of you who follow my Patreon account already know, my good friend Dana asked me to submit a series of short videos to her, answering a few questions for writers just starting out.

Obviously I was happy to do so, and since I’ve created them, I figured why not link them here as well? Give everyone a chance to listen to me for a few minutes talk about getting started with writing.

I recorded a total of 11 of these, and will be slowly releasing them over the next few months. I don’t think they’re the greatest things ever, and they were just recorded on my phone in an evening, but hopefully you enjoy them.


Up To Chapter 10!

I’m apparently getting approximately one chapter modified into 1st person a day.
I mean, not really (I’m doing 5-6 a week, but most of those in one or two days), but that’s sorta just the way with averages.

In other news, restarted the Writers Group (named “Chapter Two”, which I think is okay if not inspired… but whatever, it has a name and the group is good and that’s the important bits), and things are moving along nicely with that. Last week we had 6 members, this week I’m hoping for 8, and then with a little luck a total of 10 in a week or two that stabilizes with about 6-8 people showing up each week (since some people aren’t able or interested in coming by every week).

The other writers’ submissions are refreshing to read. It’s a nice little thing to see the process sometimes, rather than just somebody’s final polished result. Plus, I got a few small pieces of advice that I think are actually rather good and will be folded into the book as I continue the conversion from 3rd Person to 1st Person.

One will require a little bit of edit-wriggling, but I think I can manage it.

Anyway, that’s that. Had a nasty fall yesterday on the ice coming home from a friend’s house, and that put a damper on what was already a pretty shitty day (my paying work had not been kind), but overall I think I’m doing okay. Or at least okay-adjacent, and sometimes that’s the best you can hope for.

Hope everyone else is having a better go of it than I am this week!

Five Chapters "Done"...

The conversion from Third Person Limited to First Person has been… interesting. I can understand why the agent requested it (the story does feel a lot more personal), but there are parts that just don’t quite work as intended in 1st person.

Basically, for example, the introduction has the narrator telling us a little about Wibble, the planet on which the story takes place. Now, the story has Grendel, the protagonist, telling us a little about Wibble… which makes it feel more engaging, yes, but also suddenly makes it seem like Grendel is talking directly to the reader.

Which isn’t bad! But it is… weird. Like, is she telling this story to somebody in the book itself? If so, I might want to lead with that… but then we all know it turns out alright at the end, and I don’t know how I feel about that level of certainty…

Anyway, it has been a really interesting experiment. I’m on Chapter 6 right now, out of 30 Chapters, so that’s pretty okay. Current plan is to have the first draft of the new version done this week, and then read through and adjust a little before sending it off again next weekend… the agent has a busy reading schedule, and the sooner I can get on it the less likely I will have to wait another 6 months!

Hope everyone else is having a great March thus far!

Marching Forward!

Yes, yes, I made the same joke over on my Patreon page, but still. It’s true! February was a good month for me overall (short story contest 2nd place is pretty nice, and the agent request was the icing on that cake, plus getting to restart the Writers Group… ooh, that reminds me, I have to submit something to that tonight… I should do that right now, please stand by).

Phew! Done. Anyway, all in all, a good month for me. I have high hopes for March… I want to get back to submitting short stories to publications, rather than just to contests (contests are great and all, but the publications are what build my reputation, help me gain an audience, and occasionally even pay! All important factors). That will also mean getting back in the habit of reading more short stories as well, to make sure I’m submitting the kind of work that the publications publish (ugh, that sentence…), I need to get this novel finished up and sent back to “my” agent (gosh I hope so!), and then I need to get the next novel edited up to at least a 2nd draft standard.

This is the tricky part, as those of you who follow the blog regularly will know. What I really want to do right now is produce more work… write more fiction, whether long or short, rather than refine that I have into a better form of itself. But that’s a dangerous slope to start going down… and it is far, far more important to polish and submit work than it is to generate an endless supply of unpolished stuff.

Anyhoo, it’s looking to be a very promising March. Always nice to have a little bit of optimism in the forecast… we will see what the next week or two brings!

Editors Block

I mean, I know it’s not really a thing. But it feels like it sometimes… basically, I hate editing.

It’s an important part of the writing cycle. In fact, it may be the most important part of the writing cycle. Anyone can write gibberish for a few thousand words, but the ability to convert that into a story… that’s kind of the whole trick.

But as I sit here, going through 60K words I’ve already written, and tease and tweak the various sentences (in this case to convert 3rd person limited to 1st person), I find myself struggling in new and painful ways. And it’s not like this is going to go away: sure, when I am a published author with an agent and all that, there will be professional editors who can do amazing things with my drafts… but those drafts will STILL need to be edited before they are sent off! Nobody submits first-drafts. Nobody.

ANYWAY, all this to say that progress on Novel 3’s conversion has been slow, but at least I’m doing it. We’ll call that a win.

Second Writers Group tomorrow! Trying out a new venue, going to throw around a few new names, see if any stick. I miss the old MacGuffins (the previous Writers Group that I joined a few years back), but it wouldn’t feel right keeping the name without any of the founding members. Hopefully we come up with something that’s almost as clever.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Yay for Agents! Sorta!

So I submitted Novel 3 to the nice people I’d really like to be my agent back in August… and they got back to me yesterday!

I mean, nobody ever said that the wheel of publishing grind quickly, just that they grind.

Regardless, the agent really liked my work… but wants to change the PoV of the novel from 3rd person to 1st person (which, I should’ve known before starting… YA novels tend to be in 1st person these days. It is the fashion, as they say).

Not going to be an easy task… but it is a measurable, straightforward one. And it shouldn’t take me more than a few weeks to finish that kind of revision and send it back off.

Meanwhile, I restarted the writing group (we’re meeting on Wednesdays, weekly), and that’s good because it will give me a forum to work on Novel 4 while I’m rewriting Novel 3. And maybe finish up a few short stories for submission as well…

Moral of the story: good news on the writing front! Not great news, yet, but definitely good news!

Second Place!

Well, I managed to get another podium position for a short story contest… so that’s something!

That makes it sound a bit more glamorous than it actually is. The competition was between 13 submissions of two thousand words or less, and of those submissions I managed to land 2nd. Which, don’t get me wrong, still very happy about! I think this is the second time I’ve placed second out of three contests they’ve run, and one first place, so I’m at least consistent!

I should give a big shout out to my “voice actors”, the group of friends that helped out by lending their voices to the recording. The voice record has been a tonne of fun! Maybe in the future I will do an actual audio story, rather than just reading one of my short stories out loud, but that’s a future goal.

In other good news, huzzah for more short stories I can post on the website! I’ll put out a link to my Patrons later this week or early next, and then everyone else can enjoy it a week after that.

Right! Back to the writing! Tomorrow is the first meeting of the new Writers Group, which is exciting, but also means I need to be a bit organized for that!

Tintian and the King's Claw Available as Print on Demand!

Hello good people! I’m excited to announce that my first novel, “Tintian and the King’s Claw”, is now available as a print-on-demand book!


Let’s face it… ebooks are great, but sometimes having a physical book in your hands is just… better. And now you too can own a copy!

You can follow the link right here, or you can go check out the “Tintian and the King’s Claw” page directly to be taken there.

Wider distribution will still be a while away, since I’m focused more on getting additional stories finished rather than promoting the ones I’ve already finished at this point, but I’ll be working on that over the summer.

But for you… no waiting! You can go get one right now!

February Is Weirdly Warm

I mean, I live in Southern Ontario… it should be deep-freeze right now. And yet it’s been positive degrees, the snow has all melted, and the sun was bright and warm today.

It’s freakin’ me the heck out.

All joking aside, it’s nice that the weather is okay (as opposed to constant blizzards), but this means little to a writer such as myself. My days off are consumed with sitting in front of the computer, shunning the outside world and cramming words onto digital-paper. Still, it’s nicer to do that while it’s sunny out, I suppose.

ANYway, busy busy busy! I have a request for a short story I need to finish today (a weird semi-quasi-historical-sci-fi), plus putting the finishing touches on my Tintian novel for Print on Demand. The “Starconvoy EH-76” PoD has been doing okay (about par with the digital version), so that’s encouraging. Really, the goal at this point is to just keep putting content out.

I’d better get back to it! Hope everyone is having an amazing start to the month!

Positive Review!

So I frequent a website called “Shut Up & Sit Down”, and the other day one of the posters had this to say:

Last week, faithful commentator Marx mentioned his writing and I wanted to take a second to recommend one of his series.

The elevator pitch for Tintian and the King’s Claw is that it’s a science fiction take on Tintin. And while that’s true, it really undersells just how inventive and clever the translation is while still retaining the central heart of the original.

All of the things you love about Tintin is here, but the story also stands alone as a crackerjack and thoughtful space adventure. The changes Marx made to the Tintin mythos aren’t just to distract the Hegre estate, but also modernize and deepen the story.

I highly recommend it for yourself or for anyone you know in their Tintin years. You can pick up all five episodes on Amazon via Marx’s website.

I just wanted to thank Eize Basa for the amazing comments, and for directing people here. So unbelievably nice to get the feedback and the traffic! Thanks!

In other news, working on a few more short stories today. Gosh, I love writing… anyway, hope everyone out there is having a great day!

The Slow and Steady Grind

Well, I’m back at my other job (the one that pays for THIS job), but that’s okay. I finished Novel 4 (well, the first draft at least), I’ve queried a few potential agents, and I’ve submitted a short story to a contest to see how that one goes.

Overall, the wheel keeps grinding.

Today I’m going to do some work on another short story I think, maybe 2, because I want to give myself a few weeks away from Novel 4 before I start heavy edits (just to give myself a bit of mental space). I may even try to write a few submission-level short stories… you know, stuff for F&SF and/or Asimov’s. It’s been a few years since I submitted to them, and I didn’t get any traction last time, but I did try a lot, and that’s worth something at least, I hope.

Plus, my best paying gig by far was a short story… so I plan to put a bit more time and energy into that. Might as well… as much as I love writing novels, they take time, and it’s far easier to post short stories on this here website!

Anyway, overall this has been a very productive first month of 2019. Hopefully all of you have had great starts to the year as well!

First Draft of Novel 4 finished!

Yup! You heard it here first… Novel 4’s first draft is done.

Now, keep in mind that I (and many other authors, apparently) refer to said first draft as the “vomit draft”, in that everything that’s anything ends up on the page. The next task is to try and manipulate what I have written into something more resembling a coherent, intelligent story… which, to be honest, I think I should be fine with.

Downsides include that the novel is a bit shorter in its current form than I am super happy with (50k words), but that is a fixable issue. As I read through it, I’ll see if there are any areas I can work a few more paragraphs into while I am also trimming and cleaning up the story. Still, I suspect it will end up between 50-60k words, which would make it shorter than most of my other novels (which all hover around the 75k word mark), but that’s okay! If that’s how long it takes to tell the story, that’s how long it takes.

But, more exciting for me at least, is that for the next month I’m going to get to work on something else! I finished one short story while I was here on Hoth, I have two more in the planning stages, and I’m going to see what i can do for a layout of Novel 5 (in all honesty, I suspect I will take one of my four or five other unfinished works and see if I can clean-up and finish those… few things I hate as much as unfinished art!). Maybe that “space marshal-cop-police in space” story I started a few years back… hmmm. Well, we’ll see! Exciting!

Last note: first day off, I wrote 500 words. Second day, 1,500. Third day, 2,400. Fourth day, 4,200. Sadly, today I return home and will probably only get about 2,000 done again… but still. It’s crazy to realize how much I could be outputting if I only had the time. Oh well! One day.

Novel 4 Progress!

So I’ve been on Hoth for 3 days now and managed to get a fair bit done (finished a short story, for example). The print version of Starconvoy EH-76 is out in the world, and I’ve sold my first couple copies, which is nice. Sure, it’s probably not going to take the literary sci-fi world by fire, but it is out there and I am proud of it. So that’s definitely something.

I’ve also committed to a bunch of stuff when I get back home, but that’s not for another three days, and until then, all I have to do is focus on my writing, which is amazing. Big fan, gotta tell you.

Novel 4 (the next in the Tintian series) is moving along at a relatively healthy clip. Had a long walk with my partner, discussing the story and how I intend to get myself out of the corner I’ve kinda written myself into. The temptation to put it aside (because it’s going to be a hard bit of writing, honestly) and work on something new is pretty powerful, but I’m going to fight that urge. It’s better to get this finished first, because as we all know, the hardest part about being a novelist isn’t getting a book started, but getting them finished! And then after you get one finished, working on the next one… and then the next one… and so on.

Anyway! Also of note, I finished “Lock In” by John Scalzi. Lovely little police procedural. Tonne of fun to read… I continue to aspire to be as good at balancing humour, thoughtful science, and action as Scalzi is.