Sunday, November 29, 2020







These are the most listened-to episodes of the week. Did your favorite make the list?

1)   Rachael Tamayo
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Mellanie Szereto
4)   Julie Lence
5)   Marc Watson 
Tim Niederriter  
MJ Preston
8)   Cate Simon
Kathrin Hutson  
Debbie White  

*stats compiled from - these do not include numbers from ArtistFirst Radio Network

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Christmas Story ~ by Marc Watson

I’m a bit of a freak in my family and I admit it. I’m tall, much more so than anyone in my family. Blonde and blue-eyed, which also isn’t very common in my crowd. I like to roam and adventure, when most of those I know stay put and don’t do much beyond their town.

And I write.



I’m not saying there are no writers in my blood. There very well could be more than what I know, but I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that I’m the most successful one I can find. I took to arts and creativity and personal expression from a young age, though I’ve told those stories a million times so I won’t bore you with them now. However, I know of at least one other writer in the family, and I have the story to prove it.

Jack Fries was my maternal grandfather. A lanky man with a booming voice and a shock of black hair that stayed true well into his later years. A wise and respected man, by all accounts I can find. A Mason, a marvel, and a master of ceremonies. An accountant his entire life, living surrounded by numbers in the heyday of the Southern Ontario manufacturing boom of the mid-20th century. He was a man on the front lines of Avro during the rise and fall of the Arrow program. He saw the money and knew what was happening better than anyone, and if you got him going on it you better believe you were going to hear the tale. His ability to weave a yarn was the kind of thing you see in Westerns from the ol’timer in the corner.

One night in 1995, years after he’d retired and had been living with my grandmother happily for years on their little acreage with the house my mother and aunt had grown up in, he couldn’t sleep. A story was in his head and he couldn’t ignore it anymore. So he sat and wrote it.

‘The Christmas Story’ is the result. It’s a telling of a heart-warming and classically fanciful seasonal story of four young siblings and Santa’s crashed sleigh. It’s not a long story. In an addendum at the back of it is a personal recounting of my grandfather’s own childhood, when he and his family would truck up to his grandmother’s house from their place in East York up to Fordwich (a place only a stone’s throw from Listowel, the basis for the TV show ‘Letterkenny’, if that gives you an idea of the people and places he grew up around). In those days it was a heck of a trek to make in a day.

He started thinking what it would be like if his four grandkids (myself, my sister, and my two cousins) lived in that time, where horse and sleigh were still common ways to get around the countryside. This was the nucleus of the story, and at its center was the main character.


He didn’t change any names or ages really. Only the relationships, making the four of us one big family instead of cousins. This was as far as his creative licence went and it’s just fine with me. I love my family and I’m happy to be seen like this with them through his eyes.

The Marc of the story is the one who looks after Santa and tends the reindeer and all that trope-y jazz. This isn’t high art. It’s just a cute little Christmas short story.

I was 15 when he wrote this. A very short time later I would begin writing my own works, the hand-written snooze-fest of my initial attempts to write in my ‘Ryuujin’ world, where spelling and grammar doesn’t matter and paragraphs are for suckers. I was also far from the idealistic sprite my namesake seems to be in this tale. I like to think that this was how he saw me though. How he imagined I would actually deal with a similar situation. That idea makes me smile every time. I could do a lot worse than being like this Santa-helping Marc, that’s for sure.

The thing is, I never knew he wrote it. It didn’t see the light of day for everyone until years later, after I had already moved thousands of miles away and started off on my own life’s adventures which still continue to this day.

My grandfather dictated the addendum a few years after the story itself was written and it was added to the story itself as the extra little bit of icing on a wonderful cake. It may not mean much to other readers, but those of us that knew him can’t help but feel his presence when we read the words, hearing his voice as he recalls the stories of his childhood. I hear it as clear as I hear Morgan Freeman when God is being quoted, and I’ll argue his words hold even more authority.

Is it right to be critical of a passion project like this? I think so, as long as it’s respectful. I would like to think that now, with my own little brag shelf ever-growing in my home library, that I can cock that editor’s eye at it a bit and point out some inconsistencies and flow issues, and I only mention this because I plan on fixing them so it makes sense to cast that gaze upon them.

This is the story of family and fondness written by a man I had no idea had this kind of writing talent. The world has moved on since his passing more years ago than I care to remember. Stories like this however are timeless. Stories like this deserve to be told.

My grandfather, my ‘Poppy’s words will always ring true, and now at this point in my life I’m actually in a position to make that happen, even if it’s just on a small scale. One day soon I’ll take a respectful red pen to this thing and then send it out into the world. I promise you this though: my name will never grace this piece of our family’s heart.

John “Jack” Roger Fries wrote ‘The Christmas Story’. It came from his personal place, and shows an astonishing amount of skill with words, at a level I had assumed he only had with numbers and finances. I’m just happy to be able to play my part in its history when that day comes.

And, more importantly, I’m just happy to know I’m not alone.

Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction of all lengths and styles. He began writing at the age of 15 and continues to be a part-time writing student at Athabasca University. His debut novel Death Dresses Poorly was released in 2017, followed closely by duology Catching Hell: Journey & Destination. His new book, the 5-star rated story anthology Between Conversations: Tales From the World of Ryuujin is available as of September 25th, 2020. Marc lives in Calgary, Alberta. He is a husband and proud father of two. He is an avid outdoors-man, martial artist, baseball player, poutine aficionado, and lover of all Mexican foods. 

He can be found online, as well as on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram at @writewatson. 


Listen to Marc Watson's podcast episode here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Episode 221 - Guest Rachael Tamayo

Rachael Tamayo – author of the Deadly Sins series, The Friend Zone series, and Lucifer’s Game.


Episode 220 - Guest Mellanie Szereto

Mellanie Szereto – author of The Homegrown CafĂ© Book Club series, the Love on the Menu series, and the Writing Tip Wednesday books.


Episode 219 - Guest Hank Phillippi Ryan 

Hank Phillippi Ryan  – author of the Charlotte McNally Novels, the Jane Ryland Novels, and The First to Lie.


Sunday, November 22, 2020







These are the most listened-to episodes of the week. Did your favorite make the list?

1)   Tim Niederriter
Julie Lence
Kathrin Hutson
4)   MJ Preston
5)   Teresa McRae 
MJ LaBeff  
Marc Watson
8)   Kaylee Rose
Lea Winkleman  
Cindy Tanner  

*stats compiled from - these do not include numbers from ArtistFirst Radio Network

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Why Write? ~ by Dwayne Clayden

The reason I write goes way back to my childhood. My earliest memories are of my mother reading to me. We had a truck and camper and I can see my mother reading the Hardy Boys to my sister and I. There was the Bobbsey Twins before that. When I could read on my own, I devoured the Hardy Boys series. I could not be without a book.

When I was about ten, when my reading material was getting low, I’d take the bus from our house to Kensington used bookstore. That was about a forty-minute bus ride. I rode alone. I’d take a few books (mine and moms) in and get a credit, then I’d scour the store for novels, and of course, comic books. On the bus ride home, I’d eat the lunch mom had packed for me and start reading. I admit, I read the comics first!

I graduated from the Hardy Boys to Ellery Queen, Earl Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie.

I know that in my teens I had a basic plot for a story and the protagonist was “Bryce”. Beyond that, I’m not really sure what my plot was.

In high school I loved writing reports in social studies class and in English class I wrote satire. Saturday Night Live stuff, except this was before SNL! I think the idea came from the 60s comedy shows like Carol Burnette, Hee-Haw and Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. I wrote a thriller short story in grade 12, The Deadly Game of Chess. A murder mystery where people die under suspicious circumstances.

Now I was reading Joseph Wambaugh, Robert Ludlum, and Frederick Forsyth.

Then career got in the way. As a cop I wrote lots of reports, and when I look at some of them now, I didn’t write them very well! As a paramedic, I wrote patient care reports and I think I did an acceptable job on those.

While I was in paramedic class, I wrote a satire/National Enquirer one-page paper called the Paramedic Enquirer. It made fun of my classmates and instructors and the funny things that happened in the class. If a guy and girl walked in together, then that became a clandestine romance.  No one escaped a column in the rag and most of the class could hardly wait until I’d finished it, then circulated around the classroom, which got me in trouble quite a few times. Murphy’s law ensured the instructor got it on the occasions I had them in it.

Through my career I co-authored four paramedic textbooks, many research projects and training material. My daughter, Lauren, decided when she was about thirteen that she should read the pharmacology text I co-wrote. The next morning, she told me she fell asleep on the first page.

In 2010, I was going through a major life change. I was coaching high school football and that kept me busy and my mind off life. One morning in October, I was showering (I do my best thinking in the shower) and had enough self-awareness to know that once football ended, so did the distraction from life events. While the warm water cascaded down my face, I had the epiphany that I should write. I have no clue where that idea came from. At work, I Googled writing classes and one started the next week. I signed up.

The first piece I wrote and submitted to the instructor and classmates was about a significance event in Calgary Police history where a sergeant dies, and six other police officers were wounded. I was the only guy in the class, and I was nervous because it was a violent and descriptive writing.

To my shock, everyone like the piece. Unfortunately, they liked the bad guy the best and didn’t like the cops! My instructor commented that I knew my stuff, but it read like a procedure manual! I had a lot of work to do.

For the next four years, I took writing classes pretty much non-stop. I needed to learn to write fiction. I needed to learn to put the scenes I saw in my head into words. I could visualize every aspect of the story, but I struggled to get it onto the page. Excellent instructors helped me on that path.

There was one point where I received feedback that devastated me. After giving a great pitch, I was asked to submit the Crisis Point manuscript. I excitedly opened the email with the review. The primary comment was, “It’s like a police show is on the TV in the other room, and I don’t care.”

I set the manuscript side for about three months. Thankfully, I signed up for another writing class and set to improving the novel.

In 2015, after five years working on Crisis Point, I decided I would self publish it. I hired an editor, and we were slogging through the novel. Earlier, on the advice of another writer, I had submitted Crisis Point to the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis awards for the best unpublished novel. I admit I didn’t really understand what the awards were about. On a Thursday in late April 2015, I was a guest speaker at the Arthur Ellis finalist announcement. I’d finished my talk and was glancing at a bottle of Chardonnay and waiting for the last category to be announced—the Unhanged Arthur for the best unpublished novel. I admit, my attention was more on the wine than the announcement. Then my name was called as a finalist. There is no other word. I was Gobsmacked! Instead of wine, I celebrated with Whisky!

I attended the Crime Writers of Canada Awards in Toronto the end of May. To me, it was like the Academy Awards of Writing. I was still in shock. Seated next to me was an agent. She asked about my novel and my background.

I didn’t win the award, and I was disappointed. But heck, making the finals was great. As she was leaving, the agent gave me her card and asked for my manuscript.

After edit suggestions, she sent my manuscript out. Over the next year and a half, we received thirty-seven responses—rejections. That was a gut punch. Even worse, was most of the comments were complimentary on the writing style, the plot and the characters, but replies like, ‘We aren’t taking crime at this time.’ Or, ‘This doesn’t fit with our book line, we wish you the best of luck’.

By now I had spent almost seven years on Crisis Point. I also admit that my biological writing clock was ticking. Not that I’m ancient, but waiting two years or more for my novels to be published by traditional publishers didn’t work for me. I went back to my previous thought, and self-published. In April 2018, Crisis Point was launched and was a best seller in Calgary. There is immense satisfaction in holding your novel in print for the first time.

In May 2018, I was speaking at a writing conference in Burnaby, British Columbia. Between my presentations, I attended several sessions. One in particular, changed my writing life. It was a panel on “The best writing advice you received.” It was an excellent panel overall, but the advice of one presenter stuck with me. Essentially, it was that writing a novel is outstanding, few people to that. Getting a novel into print is fantastic, few people do that. But in the big scheme of things, a single novel is not enough. We are in a fast food, binge society and readers, when they find an author they like, want to read everything they have. If as a writer, you only have one novel, readers may love it, but if there isn’t another novel, they will move on to another author. generally w

With one novel launched, I worked on my second, OutlawMC.

The completion of each novel provides the motivation for the subsequent novel. I hope that my writing has improved. I rely less on outlines and more on the story I have in my head. With the help of a new editor, I am learning to describe the scenes, show emotion in my characters, and keep readers up late at night reading.

OutlawMC launched in March 2019, and Wolfman is Back in November 2019. Speargrass—Opioid launched in September 2020. Novels five and six are written. 13 Days of Terror launched in November 2020 and Goddess of Justice in March 2021.

Today, October 13, 2020, I am halfway through writing my seventh novel and 10,000 words into my eighth.

I admit to being obsessed. I write every day. When I started writing in 2010, it was a struggle to write 500 words in a day. Now, 2500-3000 in a day is not unusual, and I have had days of over 6,000 words.

I have a schedule with my editor to the end of 2023. The deadlines are important to keep me on track.


Listen to Dwayne Clayden's podcast episode here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Episode 218 - Guest Julie Lence

Julie Lence  – author of the Weston Family series, the Revolving Point, Texas series, and the Jackson Creek series.