As an actor, I never pay attention to reviews. I don’t read them. I don’t really care. Praise is nice, but I don’t perform for praise. I perform for myself. I know when I am “there” and when I am not. Besides, it is easier and more entertaining to write an insult than it is to write praise, and insults do nothing constructive. From what I am told, most of the reviews I have received have been positive–but I would be the last to know and the least concerned. And if I don’t read them, then they can only exist in my mind as generous and full of adulation.

I rarely enter contests of any type. I don’t like to lose, and I don’t like to bet — particularly when I cannot comfortably afford defeat. As a kid, I lived in Las Vegas. I was surrounded by gamblers and knew more than one sad tale of a life lost on a roll of the dice or a flip of a card.

I never understood the addiction to gambling. The wheels, the lights, the flashes, the smoke, the praying for luck, none of it ever made any sense to me and never had any appeal.

I gamble enough on the choices I have made in my life, and I have rolled a hard game. I have gone hungry far too often as it is without throwing away my limited finances by betting against the house.

However, I do on odd occasions play the lottery. When a jackpot climbs above $250 million, I tug a recalcitrant dollar out of my wallet (Oh, yes, it screams as it exits) and I buy a quick pick. Typically, I don’t play any particular numbers. If you’re going to bet that a comet is going to land on your head, it seems a futile effort to describe the color of its tail before it plows into you.

It hasn’t been unusual for me to not check on the lottery results for weeks and even months after the draw (and even not at all). In fact, that’s the norm. I like holding onto the dream that I might actually win something, rather than face the certainty of having lost. It is the illusion of hope that I cling to — not actual hope. It is enough for me that a whisper of hope can be bought, and I try to let that dream last as long as I can.

Really, what else is there in life for us to hold onto but love and hope?

Back in 2011, I entered a writing contest. I don’t think I’ve entered a writing contest since I was in high school. That was sometime during the Paleolithic era I believe. We were using stone tools at the time. We did know about flint though.

I used to win every writing contest I entered. I couldn’t get published, but boy I sure could win writing contests. That used to annoy me. So, I stopped entering contests. And I stopped submitting for publication. The drawer with the rejection slips had more pages than my stories.

But I digress.

I never heard anything about the 2011 writing contest. I didn’t bother to check on it. I entered it hoping to win some money that would allow me to live while I wrote. Once more, letting hope last, I didn’t look for the results of the contest. Besides, I figured if I’d won anything then I’d get a notice. Some fat check would appear clogging up my mailbox with the volume of money it represented, and the paparazzi flashing their cameras would blind me with my own brilliance. Otherwise, if I didn’t hear anything, then it wasn’t worth knowing about to begin with. Nothing lost. And the dream lived on.

I am writing a series of novels in the vein of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time epic (meaning it is a fantasy, it is lengthy, and it goes on over many volumes). I began the project in 2010 and am finishing the third volume now. In the coming months, I will be doing polish edits and rewrites for several chapters within the current 3 volumes, which I envision as the opening sequence to a 9 volume series.

I entered the prologue and the first chapter or two of the first volume in the 2011 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.

I really could use the prize money to finish this project. Alas, I did not win.

However, it has just come to my attention that my entry made the Short List of Finalists in the Novel-In-Progress Category.

Well … whadda ya know?

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It is an intriguing experience for an author when his characters make their own choices.

Hieronymous surprised me today.

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distraction 3

A writer faces many challenges against his or her work. Procrastination, health, finances, and lack of inspiration are but a few.

But no challenge is more insidious or more difficult to handle than distraction.

Whereas procrastination is the willful neglect of a given task, distraction is a waver in concentration brought on by external sources. Procrastination is the writer’s fault. Distraction is not. Either way, procrastination or distraction, the end result is the same. Writing does not take place. Gestating strings of thought are lost. Time must be spent just to recover the point of development abandoned when distraction or procrastination took place.

Once the distraction lands in the writer’s brain, it has done its damage.

Limiting sources of distraction is a writer’s only recourse to handle this particular threat to his or her work.

Turning off the television, not looking at email or text messages, limiting internet searches to anything other than research directly related to the current project, and not answering the phone are the best means of closing the predominant avenues of distraction. Concentration is hard enough without being impinged upon by demands for communications brought on by family, friends, business associates, or strangers. Broadcast media are prone to news flashes that may raise concern of a socially conscious individual. However, more often than not, the writer distracted by such news usually can do nothing at all but empathize and the news could have been heard or watched at another time when the writer could contemplate its meaning without being pulled away from his or her work.

Music and hence music players can be a wonderful tool for inducing an emotional state which the writer wishes to experience as an inspiration toward creating the same emotional state through a written passage. However, a writer must be judicious with his or her time spent playing music. If he or she is paying more attention to the music and less attention to the work at hand, music has become a detriment. Time spent playing music must be invested with discretion.

An author must learn that time is his or her most valuable asset. Time must not merely be spent wisely, but it must be guarded and cherished.

Though time for the universe may be infinite, time for an author is limited.

When someone demands time of a writer, the writer must know that what is being demanded is the most precious thing the writer has to offer. He or she is better off giving blood instead. Those who are in an author’s life must know that the author’s time is worth more than gold.

Time is to be respected. Time is to be cherished.

Like any human, an author is entitled to a social life. Human interactions are necessary. Humans are social beings, and–despite any allegations to the contrary–writers are human. Relations are also necessary to provide the fuel and material upon which the writer draws not only in the creation of his or her work but to provide substance to his or her work.

Relationships require an expenditure of time in order to stay healthy and active.

However, the writer must make it clear that his or her “writing time” is a specific time where interruptions must be of dire nature if they are to occur. The wise writer sets days and times when he or she is “unreachable,” as well as days and times when he or she is open to discourse.

Although a window with some sunshine flowing through it can make a writer feel less isolated, and whereas a picturesque view can be cheering, a window is also an invitation to allow the world entrance into the writer’s workplace. A window is an opening upon distraction and an easy crutch for the procrastinator.

It is best for the writer to turn his or her back to any window and to “exist” only in the “room” of his or her mind when writing.

For a writer at work, it is best to let the world run on its own during writing time. Writing time is sacrosanct. Nothing short of natural disaster or Armageddon should be allowed to intrude.

Writing time is time to be a hermit. A writer at work is a monk at prayer. Let no one interrupt a writer’s quest for union with the divine.

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Writing Image

Why write? What function does it serve? It is a lonely task, often unheralded, frequently ignored, and rarely profitable. So why do it?

The fundamental purpose of writing is to record information and transmit such information over time and distance. Writing allows for non-verbal exchange where the communicator need not be present at the time or in the place in which the information is received. Writing also allows for “permanence” in that the written record may survive the life of the writer. Last, writing allows for “accuracy” in that the words of the writer are preserved and may be checked against for deviations from his or her account.

So, it would seem that if this all comprises the sole function of writing and therefore the reason for reading, then all written materials would be non-fictional.

But, that is not the case.

Fiction exists. Fiction is preserved. Fiction thrives. Fiction is sought and desired. Fiction is created. And fiction is honored.


The writing of fiction first appeared in storyteller form. Tales were handed down by a verbal tradition. Later, writing fiction into a recorded format developed–whether inked on animal skin, painted on walls, or chiseled into rock. This craft and practice arose so that tales could be disseminated over larger distances and to greater numbers of “listeners” and so that tales could be preserved for posterity in their “original” form.

As writers, we must ask ourselves: Why does the public seek our stories? The answer informs our writing. If we know why readers read, then we know what need or desire we must fulfill in order for our work to be accepted. The better we fulfill those needs and desires, the higher chance we have for critical and financial success and for longevity of our body of work.

The answer is neither unexpected nor astonishing. But it must be borne in mind.

Writing is an art. It is an expression of one individual’s viewpoint, contemplation, emotion, idea, question, or conclusion or any combination thereof.

If we accept that writing is an art, then all art forms share this definition of expression.

So, why is there an audience for any of the arts? Why attend a concert? Why see a film? Why go to an art gallery? Why go to a play? Why watch a ballet? Why read a novel?

The motivation is a common characteristic uniting all the arts.

THE ANSWER: Audiences experience art in order to have an emotional experience. Audiences want to be moved. They want to laugh and cry and cheer and jeer. They are willing to “suspend their disbelief” and accept artifice for reality for a limited time and on a limited scale so that they may live vicariously and be provoked by art.

Upon the storyteller tradition, audiences may ask themselves what is being expressed? They want to understand not only “plot” but message. They will look for the “point.” Finally, they will ask themselves how does the given expression in its given medium relate to their own lives? What does it “say” to them?

Great art elicits emotional response and triggers introspection.

Art can be used as a device not only to communicate ideas and conclusions and beliefs but also to cause examination of those same things.

Art can be used to educate, but the artists must not be didactic or the audience will wander.

Art is entertainment. The fundamental function is to drive an emotional response. To create empathy and to carry the reader on a journey.

Therefore, as a writer, my primary goal is to make the reader feel. I want to give my readers an emotional roller-coaster ride. I want to build anticipation, put them through twists and turns, spin and jostle, cradle and hurl, soothe, jar, and shock. I want to involve my reader and make them feel at risk, while all the while there is no real danger. I want to take my readers in my hands and propel them over a broad range of emotional experiences running the gamut between love and hate, sorrow and joy, fear and anticipation.

I want to thrill my readers’ hearts.

I also want to tickle their brains. I want them to think. I want them to examine their beliefs and want them to question society and their place in the universe. I want them to question reality.

By the time my readers reach the final page of any novel which I have written, I want them feeling that they have lived through an amazing experience. I want them to be “satisfied.” By giving into the narrative and allowing themselves to live with and as my characters, I want them to feel as though they have lived other lives.

I want my readers wanting more.

To find out more about Marc Royston and his latest novel, be sure to follow the Wizard’s Workshop.

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In July 2009, I lost my job. I was an actor in Los Angeles making his living outside his craft like so many others. I was a salesman.

My roommate had moved out in February 2009, and I had already been bearing the full expense of a large home for several months. Although I did make quite a strong effort to get a new roommate, the house was up for sale, and the housing market was shit, and no one wanted to move into an old house where they could not be certain they could remain.

By October 2009, I could no longer afford housing at all and had to give up my home of 11 years.

I was homeless.

Like approximately 23 million other Americans, I was left devastated by the Great Recession. My savings, my assets, my personal property, and my retirement were all liquidated and soon gone. It seemed as if my future and life had both been taken from me.

I spent the next 6 months living in the home of close friends during the fatal illness of one of their parents. Soon, those friends directly experienced some of the financial, emotional, and psychological trials of unemployment. I am happy to say they did not lose their home and are employed again.

Thereafter, I moved into the home of my retired father in San Diego. I had lived in Los Angeles for 26 years. When my father sold his condo and bought a home in the low desert of Southern California, I went with him. As a kid I lived in the high desert. At 18 years of age, I graduated high school, moved to big city living, and swore I would never step foot in a desert again let alone live in one. I have no love for sand, rock, weeds, howling winds, blistering sun, and frosty winter. Nor am I a fan of the lowbrow, conservative kind of thinking that predominates many desert communities. But here I am. Life is full of irony.

Although I have multiple degrees with straight A’s both in the sciences and humanities, and although those degrees come from ivy league and other such high caliber institutions, and although I am held in very high esteem by former employers and supervisors and colleagues, and although I am well liked and respected, and although I am a man of very high integrity and skill, despite all this, I have been unable to get more than 3 job interviews in the past 3.5 years.

Unemployment ran out in 2011. It is now 2013. I am still unemployed.

I am not on welfare. I am not on social security.

The only subsistence I receive is $200 worth of Food Stamps every month — which does not cover a month’s worth of food and does not pay for toilet paper, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, or underarm deodorant. Is there any wonder the bum on the street stinks?

There is no food bank in the area.

Only the kindness of family and friends keeps me going.

I laugh bitterly when any politician talks about the quality and reliability and completeness of our “safety net.” At the same time, I am incredibly grateful for what little there is. Believe me, I am very grateful for the assistance given. However, it is far from complete or reliable or even satisfactory.

I write none of this seeking sympathy or assistance. I write this only to state the conditions under which I exist and from which my novel originates.

People are starving in America. People are suffering.

As any individual would be in a situation such as mine, I have been depressed.

To survive psychologically, I needed to find a way to deal with that depression and to satisfy the needs of my mind.

I felt as if my life was over, and I verged closely upon suicide.


I have written since I was six years old. It is a part of my artistic nature.

An artist is simply someone who strives to express themselves. That expression may be an emotion, a viewpoint, a conclusion, or a question, or any combination thereof. The medium in which the artists chooses to express himself or herself determines the category of the artist–whether it be novelist, painter, musician, actor, dancer, poet, etc. However, the nature of an artist is in common no matter the specific discipline(s) in which any given artist works.

I am first, foremost, and fundamentally an artist. The term defines me; and I define the term.

Writing is one of several media in which I work.

I do not know how to describe where writing fits into my life. An artist is who I am. No more than anyone else, I cannot deny myself.

I write, because I must. I act, because I must. I breathe, because I must. There is no choice in it. Yes, there can be pleasure in the act, but pleasure is not always there nor is it the motivating factor.

Although I do enjoy the final product when I write, and there are times in the process of writing (particularly in the refinement of expression) that I derive pleasure, writing is often a task most akin to an arduous workout at the gym. I don’t particularly enjoy doing it, it is often painful, but I feel so much better afterwards. In the end, I enjoy the results, and I have something to show for my efforts.

If I don’t do it, then I feel ill.

Writing is a release.

I have written many screenplays, teleplays, and even published poetry. I stopped writing prose in my early 20’s, but otherwise have continued writing to this day. I am now 53 years of age.

I made it a vow that one day I would write at least one if not a slew of novels.

In 2010, after moving in with my father. I decided it was time to write my first novel. I needed the release, I had the time, and I felt I better get it done now as I literally felt that I was dying and so would not be around much longer. The world simply did not want me and was crushing the life out of me. I am not entirely convinced that isn’t true. I wanted to leave something behind for my son. All else had been taken from me. I wanted to leave a legacy.

I have written drama, comedy, romance, horror, and science fiction. But I had never written fantasy. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy, but I’ve just never tried to pen anything in that particular genre.

As I badly needed escape, I decided my first novel would be a fantasy.

Little did I realize that it would not be a single book I would write, but rather the first 3 volumes of an epic series.

Since his birth, I have had it in mind that one day I would write something for my son.

There is no book where the “truths” of life and the universe and reality and human interaction and so on and so forth are all written down. I am foolish enough to believe that my observations and conclusions are valuable and enlightening. I thought that one day I would compile my aphorisms and list them in a “coffee table” style book intended for my son. Upon further thought, I soon recognized that my son would be bored by such a list and would never read it. My wisdom would die with me.

So, I decided to incorporate some of those observations and contemplations into a fantasy novel where they would be more palatable and thus carry more weight.

Although in everything I have written, I have always written a character for me to play, this is the first time I’ve written in a character who IS me (at least about 97.5%).

Whereas the book was intended to provide me with escape from a cruel reality, I kept finding that the “real” world intruded into my narrative and into the characters I created. I fought it at first, but then realized there was strength and value in just allowing the book to develop as it would and that a socially conscious fantasy could be very powerful and even unique.

So, the work became a fantasy with insights and questions regarding life as well as a reflection on modern society.

I am working on completing the rough draft to the third volume in the series. To date, the entire work is over 1875 pages long and over 525,000 words.

I will be shopping it in a few months.

It is a series of volumes from the journals of a master wizard. The first volumes deal with the wizard’s early years as an apprentice and how he came to be wizard.

This is where the passion began.

To find out more about Marc Royston and his latest novel, be sure to follow the Wizard’s Workshop.

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“To see the way forward, you must open your eyes–and neither ignore what you see nor take anything for granted. No matter the course, be brave. Not every crossing is smooth. Not every voyage is without danger. And not every course is clear. You cannot always follow the frequented path or let the wind set your rudder.”

~ Hieronymous, Council of Twelve ~

“A Wizard’s Sight is perceived by the Third Eye, an organ of the spirit and not of the flesh. Through discipline and dedication, the chovihanis and the wizard alike master their vision.”

~ Tsura, Witch ~

“Outer Sight can be blinded or confused. Inner Sight comes from the heart. Truth dwells in the heart. Thus, Inner Sight cannot be fooled. Rely not on reason alone. Lies are fashioned in the mind–not in in the spirit.”

~ Fronilde de Segovia, Wizard of Ulm ~

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Every wizard needs a place in which to work.

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