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When Words Collide - The Accidental Author

When Words Collide - The Accidental Author

Posted by martin parnell | Non-Fiction Publishing

Over the weekend, I went to my first book festival, When Words Collide in Calgary. I had been asked to make a presentation and I chose the theme “The Accidental Author – Confessions of a Rookie Non-Fiction Writer”.

I love reading. I’ve always got a book on the go and at some point during the day I take 20 minutes and knock off a couple of chapters. It wasn’t always this way. At school, I had a love / hate relationship with the written word. English Literature was one of my favourite subjects and as a class we read books like “Animal Farm”, by George Orwell and dissected them with questions like “Why does it state: All animals are equal but some are more equal than others?” However, the flip side of English literature was English language. I was forever struggling (and still am!) with spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Over the years, I’ve realised that you can’t be shackled by your fears and when you really want to do something, you just have to give it a go. In 1979, I entered a short story contest on CBC Radio. My submission was called “The Ice Key”, a sort of “Games of Thrones” meets the “Minions”. A month later I got a rejection letter. I was very disappointed but as Wayne Gretzky said “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

My written efforts over the intervening years were sporadic. I kept a daily journal during a one year trip around the World and blogged on a four month cycle trip across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. I dabbled in the world of self-publishing, releasing a book on the trip entitled “How do you eat an Elephant?” (one piece at a time). I sold 25 copies (all to me) and sent them out as Christmas presents.

In 2010 I ran 250 marathons and every day after completing 42.2 kms I’d blog about my run. “Marathon Quest 250” raised $320,000 for the humanitarian organization Right To Play and my PR person, Lyn Cadence, suggested I spread the word by publishing a book. I told Lyn that I couldn’t see me sitting down and writing a manuscript but Lyn gave me the best advice ever, the book is in the blogs. Lyn had me fill out a Book Proposal and she sent it out to a number of publishers. One stepped forward, Don Gorman from Rocky Mountain Books and after numerous edits and revisions “MARATHON QUEST” was published in the fall of 2012.

One twist of irony was that in 2014 CBC radio selected MARATHON QUEST as one of their top five books by an Alberta author. The wait was worth it.

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