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Month: March 2021

Interview – Author Mark Piggott

We recently made a post on Instagram looking for a few authors who were willing to do an interview exchange of sorts, as a way for us to help get the word out about Worldsmyths and the anthology. Mark Piggott, author of the Forever Avalon series, was the first to volunteer! You can find his website here.

Book one of the Forever Avalon series by Mark Piggott

I sent Mark a set of twelve questions to fill out for us to put on the Worldsmyths website, and he sent me some questions to answer as well to put on his blog. Here are the questions I sent to Mark:

Have you always been interested in writing? 

Growing up, I wanted to be a comic book artist (the next Jack Kirby/Stan Lee) so I created my own comic book characters, stories. But, my art wasn’t up to par so I switched to writing. I started out as a journalist for the U.S. Navy and, near the end of my military career, I started writing my fantasy stories. When I’m not writing my novels, I work as a writer-editor for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think I’ve always been a storyteller. In the Navy, I wrote stories about the people who served, the places we visited and the operations we participated in. When I was deployed, I used to play a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, especially in the 80s and 90s, in my off-duty free time. This was before email, internet, and gaming consoles. So, combining late-night D&D sessions with missing your family while deployed led to dreams about being with them in a fantasy world. I had these dreams all the time whenever I was deployed. On my last deployment on USS Enterprise (yes, I can proudly say that!) I started taking my dreams and writing it down, until I had my first novel, Forever Avalon. After that, I stopped having the dream. That’s when I knew I was a writer.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies from six months to more than a year. Writer’s block has worked on me in more ways than one. Add to that my full time job, writing/editing my own WIPs,  as well as marketing, social media, setting up book signings, etc. It makes for a lot of long days and nights, and not in a good way. But, it’s what I love doing and, without writing, these stories would stay stuck in my head, spinning around like a 24/7 Broadway play. 

What is your writing process like? 

When I first started writing, I just wrote what I thought, no outline or research. It was just whatever was in my head. Now, I’ve evolved into first writing down character names, descriptions, places and background of the world I’m creating, and a complete outline. This helps me see where I’m at and so I know where I’m going. All the while, I’m doing constant research online using baby name generators, Google translate for languages (for magic spells and other languages), and a lot of historical research too. On top of that, I do a lot of reading of other authors in my genre to look for trends, myths and legends explored, etc.

Where do your book ideas come from?

I’ve always loved myths and legends. I even took a mythology class in high school. These are the original stories to which all of today’s fantasy genre is based on. D&D has been a big part of my stories, using my skills as a player and Dungeonmaster when it comes to character development, world building, etc. Beyond that, I get a lot of inspiration from anime. Japanese anime has some of the best writing as far as storylines, character development, and world building. Along with the beautiful artwork accompanying these series, I get inspired from watching them and using their influence in my own writing.

What is your favorite aspect of writing — creation characters, world building, plotting, editing, etc? 

I think character creation is my favorite aspect of writing. I am so involved in the creation and life of them that I break down and cry when I write a scene where one of those characters die. I still cry when I reread them in my work. Also, the family in Forever Avalon are based on my own family members, my wife and children. I used their personalities when creating these characters, even their middle names for the characters first names. That makes them very personal to me. The hardest aspect is world building. When you have to create an entire world from the bottom up, one simple mistake could lead to a plot hole or other issue in your story.

How much has the idea of your first book changed between the first draft and the final, published draft? 

Not a lot, really. I stuck with the story from the original concept. The biggest change was between book one and two. When I started writing the sequel to Forever Avalon, I actually started writing it as a prequel to show the protagonists 10 years spent on Avalon before his family’s arrival. But, the more I wrote, the more off putting it seemed going to a prequel instead of a sequel. So instead, I wrote a straight sequel with flashbacks using the prequel material I had already written. That ended up being my second book, The Dark Tides.

Your first series is about Avalon, which is a very well-known part of Arthurian legend. Have you always had an interest in Arthurian stories? What made you want to write one about Avalon? 

Like any child, my first exposure to King Arthur was through the Disney movie, “The Sword in the Stone.” In my youth, I remember the movie “Excalibur” which took the Arthurian legend to full bore. That led me to the books and stories of the legend of King Arthur. To me, these are the first stories of magic, knights, heroism, love and courage. I think everything we, as fantasy authors, base our stories on, it all leads back to King Arthur, Camelot, Merlin and Excalibur. That’s why I based my story, not on D&D, but on the legend of Avalon. I wanted to take a “what happens next” approach. To me, the death of King Arthur meant the end of magic in our world, so where did it go? Forever Avalon explains that story.

What does your writing space look like?

I live and work in Washington, DC, so right now, my writing space is wherever I can find it in a one-bedroom high-rise apartment. It’s just me, my wife Georgiene, and our Westie, Sully. My children are all grown up and moved out on their own. I write at the dining room table, sitting up in bed, or on my recliner with my laptop on my lap or table. I don’t mind the noise as, working on an aircraft carrier for most of my adult life, you get used to it. 

Do you plan your stories thoroughly before writing, or just dive right in?

I outline the idea of my stories, but as I said before, they come from my dreams. The stories play out in my head and I do my best to translate that into my computer. That was true for the Forever Avalon series, my new work The Last Magus, and a steampunk story I’m working on. Outlines help me plan but it lays out in my head. I used to express my stories through my D&D gameplay, but now I do it in my writing.

What is your number one piece of advice for a new writer?

Don’t give up. It is a time-consuming, grueling, nose-to-the-grindstone business, but the satisfaction of reading a review that someone liked your story is worth it. I may not achieve the status of a Stephen King or Terry Brooks, but those few people who enjoy my stories are all worth it. I love being a storyteller because we are the writers of life and love, of myths and legends. That makes all this worth it.

What advice would you give a more experienced writer?

Be a mentor to other writers. There is a vast community out there of aspiring writers who need advice and the experience can help guide others into the swamp that is the publishing industry. There are so many paths to follow, both good and bad, and I try to help others as much as I can. That’s why I write a blog to write about my experiences as a writer as well as promote my books and my geek hobbies.

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Our Indiegogo Campaign is Live!

We officially launched our Indiegogo campaign! This campaign is to help cover some of the costs of publishing the anthology, such as cover art, advertising, and hopefully an editor. You can find our campaign here. We would appreciate any donations, and if you can’t donate but want to share the link, you are welcome to do that as well!

Some of the perks of the campaign include:
* A Youtube interview
*A special Discord role
*A 3D pin of the Worldsmyths logo
*A paperback copy of the anthology
*A hardback copy of the anthology

and more!

We’ve also made a short Youtube video to explain who we are and our Indiegogo campaign


We also have a new logo, designed by one of the admins of Worldsmyths

We look forward to continuing our campaign, and putting this anthology out into the world!

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Imposter Syndrome and You – A Guide

Imposter Syndrome – What is it?

Imposter Syndrome – “First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s, impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.” (https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud)

Imposter Syndrome. That sinking feeling that you don’t belong in a group, that they are just humouring you by letting you sit at the table. The little lying voice in the back of your mind that says you aren’t good enough, you aren’t smart enough, you don’t belong.

Sound familiar?

Every single creative person I’ve met has experienced this at some point in their life. I get it, writing is hard. Making a plot cohesive, a character likeable but flawed… it’s tougher than it sounds on the surface. It’s easy for feelings of inadequacy to pop up when you start running into roadblocks, when goals aren’t met. 

It doesn’t matter if you know that little voice lies, the little tentacles imposter syndrome sinks into you are insidious and hard to shake. The emotions of failure are there, and they are a lot harder to disentangle. But it can be done! Let’s look at the five types of imposter syndrome, what each looks like to a writer, and how to overcome them.

The Five Types of Imposter Syndrome

In her book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, Valerie Young proposed five subtypes of Imposter Syndrome.

The Perfectionist

    That person who is never satisfied with the quality of their work, who has trouble focusing on the good they’ve produced, being only able to see the flaws. They set high goals for themselves, then beat themselves up for not meeting them. They feel like an imposter because to them, their work is garbage.

    In writing, this is the person who isn’t ready to share a piece until it’s on it’s 7th draft and has been through a dozen revisions. They won’t feel like a ‘real writer’’ until they’ve published a dozen novels, been traditionally published, won an award, or some other self imposed goal.

How to overcome being a Perfectionist Imposter

Learn to let go. It’s hard, but you’ve got to let a project go out into the world, whether that tiny voice is telling you it’s ready or not. I’m not saying to toss a rough draft out into the world, of course not. But after a revision or two it’s time to let someone you trust read your piece and let you know their honest opinion. If they tell you there are things to be fixed, don’t take that as a personal attack. Writing is a process, you know this. So let it be a process, and remember that there is such a thing as ‘good enough’.

The Superwoman/man

    This person sits in a meeting and volunteers for every extra task, just to prove to themselves that they’ve earned their spot at the table. They compare themselves to others constantly and measure success by looking at how much more they are doing compared to others.

    In writing this may be the person who is focused on quantity – number of books, number of rewards, number of five star reviews. They push themselves to unhealthy limits to write another scene, another paragraph. They volunteer for guest blog posts when they’ve got a deadline looming, because they need to feel like they are producing enough content to be valid.

How to overcome being a Superwoman/man Imposter

    Work/Life Balance. It’s not just a fancy phrase. This kind of writer needs to set boundaries for themselves and hold to them. Evaluate the workload and ask yourself if sometimes is really worth taking on. But most importantly remember – You are more than your output. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how big or small. Take a step back and ask yourself – If you don’t take on this project, is it really failing? Talk it out with a friend or partner if you have trouble being objective about how much you are taking on.

The Natural Genius

    Hello, former ‘gifted children’. And hello people who expect to pick up a new skill with minimal effort. This person is used to handling things on their own with minimal help, and resents it when someone steps in to try and teach them. They focus on the “how” and “when” of skill acquisition – how fast they took, when will they see results. They feel like an imposter when it takes ‘too long’ to achieve their goals, or when they aren’t seeing fast results in a new project.

    In writing, the natural expert sets high standards for their work, and gets frustrated when their novel isn’t the same quality as those winning all the awards. They expect their writing to not need much revision, and are likely to abandon a piece when they find it needs lots of work. 

How to overcome being a Natural Genius Imposter

    Go easy on yourself.  Writing is a skill, a tough one, and you need to take pity on yourself and not expect to learn how to write in a month. Find a writing group that can support you when you are feeling down, and can share tips on how to improve in a non-judgemental way. It’s a marathon, not a race.

The Soloist

    This person cares about the “who”. Who is doing the work? You, with no help. It only counts if you finished a project all by yourself, right? The only way to prove your worth? If you get help, the other person might as well get full credit. This person sees getting help as a sure sign of failure, and will turn it out if offered.

For writing, this is the person who won’t ask for brainstorming help when they are stuck, and who has difficulty taking feedback on their writing. The soloist may be likely to self publish. And self edit, with a self-made cover, no beta readers. Any help is bad, right?

How to overcome being a Soloist Imposter

    Talk it out. Learn to reach out to others, to share and pool both knowledge and resources. It may bruise your ego at first, but you will find that everyone else is on the same learning path as you, and that we all have natural strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing. We can help each other! Writing may seem like a solo activity, but finding a good writing group will take your work to a whole new level.

The Expert

    This person wants to know anything. Not knowing something is a mark of shame. They are paralyzed by a fear of not knowing that they might not start in the first place. They study, take another course, another credential, all in an effort to be an expert.

In writing, this is the person who signs up for all the workshops, who has a library of craft books, all read and annotated. They are thinking of going back for an MFA, just to really prove to themselves that they know their stuff. They may also suffer from Worldbuilders disease. Can they really start writing until they know the full history of a war that ended 800 years ago, which is only mentioned once in passing?

How to overcome being an Expert Imposter

    Just start. While it’s true that there is always something else to learn, it’s not true that you need to know it all right now. Have you heard of Pantsing? It’s a term that came out of National Novel Writing Month, it means ‘to write by the seat of your pants’, ie. to start writing without outlining. And guess what? Not only are many successful authors pantsers, but you can’t tell a pantsed novel from a fully planned one! I’m not saying you have to throw out all your notes, I’m saying it is possible to write without having knowledge of everything in your story. Just start writing!

General Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

  • Talk to people! – Not just about your feeling of being an imposter, but about the problems you are having with writing, ask for help, offer support, pool your knowledge. We all have weaknesses, you probably have knowledge that can help someone else, and vice versa.
  • Acknowledge your feelings – They aren’t just phantoms in your mind, while they may not be rational, they are real. Ask yourself why you are feeling like an imposter, and you can start to change your feelings to something less harmful.
  • Correct your thinking – When you find yourself in your loop – ‘I’m not learning fast enough’, ‘if I ask for help I’m a failure’ – recognize those thoughts and stop them in their tracks. Recognizing them is the first step to eliminating them, so try and pay attention when you start to feel down.
  • Celebrate the successes – Celebrate all your successes, from your writing accomplishments to your work life. But also celebrate recognizing your emotional state, celebrate the efforts you are making to change your own mind. It takes strength to do that, and deserves to be celebrated!
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