The Unexpected Return to the Scrapyard Galaxy: A Decade Later, A New Adventure Beckons

Hey there, fellow space explorers!

Guess what? It’s been a whopping ten years since I first launched the Scrapyard Ship series. Can you believe it? That little adventure didn’t just nudge my life in a new direction—it strapped a rocket to it and lit the fuse.

After wrapping up those seven stellar journeys and following up with the six-part Star Watch saga, I thought that was it. The end. Finito. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and spacefarers.

Here’s the scoop: lately, my brain’s been firing up thrusters, nudging me back toward the Scrapyard universe. Crazy, right? Picture it: a new cast, fresh stories, all kicking off a decade later. But hey, time is a sneaky little gremlin for us Indie authors. To keep the bookworms biting, you’ve gotta drop a new title every few months, or so Amazon’s enigmatic algorithms dictate.

Diving back into a world where tech rules and the lore runs as deep as a black hole? Yep, that’s daunting. And re-reading my own space opera anthology to catch up? Let’s just say I’d rather suit up for an EVA without the suit.

But then—what do you know—I found it. A complete guide to the Scrapyard cosmos I put together with my editor, Mia Manns. It was like unearthing a galactic treasure map. Maybe past-me was sending a cosmic wink to future-me, saying, “You’ll need this.”

With the universe’s clock ticking, I made the leap. Scrapyard Ship Uprising came to life. The twist? Everyone but one—our dear Mollie Reynolds—is somewhere in an alternate universe. This new epic? It’s a fresh start, but with little breadcrumbs that lead back to the stories you loved.

And the captain of this new voyage? Matt Briggs—yeah, that guy. A bit of a rogue, a pinch of pride, and a whole lot of ‘reluctant’ in his hero recipe.

The book’s out now, hitting virtual shelves like a comet, and guess what? The reviews? Stellar. They’re making this author’s heart do somersaults in zero gravity.

So, come on and join me as we blast off once more. It’s good to be home, and I’m thrilled to have you with me. It’s going to be one heck of a ride, and I promise, the thrusters are just warming up.

The Fallen Ship has Landed

Hi Everyone,

This post is by Mark’s wife and partner, Kim McGinnis.

I co-wrote The Fallen Ship with Mark, so I just wanted to let you in on the co-writing experience and what happened afterward.

Make no mistake, Mark wrote most of the book. My intent here is to lighten the load for Mark, who typically writes a book every three to four months. Our routine involves me being in charge of the marketing/advertising and bookkeeping and Mark does the writing. It’s Mark’s voice that created his novels, and in turn, his fans.

My role in the writing process is to figure out (with Mark) where we are in the story, what comes next, and how certain characters will come alive within a particular chapter. I will particularly write certain chapters where a sub-character may be the ‘star.’ For instance, one of the chapters I wrote is the Lester Price chapter where he is introduced as living at the Rock Motel. Mark will take any chapter I write and tweak it so it has his voice. The idea is to keep the fans happy with books that they are accustomed to.

Mark and I were thrilled that the book, which was released on April 11, 2022, was a big success. This means the process worked, so I will help more in this way—and it means there will definitely be a sequel. The next Fallen Ship is in the works as I write this post.

The advertising process involves video ads on Facebook, and text ads on Amazon. For the first time we also had a book signing at our local bookstore in Castle Rock, Colorado. The Fallen Ship takes place primarily in Castle Rock, so this decision seemed appropriate. The profits from the book signing went to the bookstore (SuddenFiction Books). I found I had over-ordered a good many paperback copies of The Fallen Ship, so Mark and I were trying to decide what to do with the extra copies.

Lately I’ve been working in the study rooms at our local library, and it gave me the idea to start leaving inscribed/signed copies around various businesses in our little town. I’ve left copies at the library, the B & B cafe, a local crossfit gym, a local coffee shop, the post office, the reception area of a new condo complex, and more. We went to The Broadmoor Hotel last weekend and left a copy there in their reception area and also in their library room.

I love the idea of someone finding the book and opening it to the title page and seeing something like this….

To the person that finds this book,

We hope you enjoy this Castle Rock, Colorado science fiction adventure as much as we enjoyed writing it. Please read this book, and if you like what you read, please pass it around for others to enjoy.


Mark Wayne McGinnis 

Kim McGinnis 



The Fiction Writing Process — For Beginning Authors #5  Your Inner Discipline Honor Code:

This is where the rubber meets the road. How badly do you want to be a writer… a successful writer? If you are seriously attempting this path you need to develop discipline. It’s not just important, it’s essential.

Before I became an author, I was a technical writer. I had to write 5 days a week, 6-8 hours a day. It was my job, and if I wanted the paycheck I had to write. Was it boring? You bet. But that job taught me the discipline of writing.

I sometimes write 7 days a week, but, at the very least I write 5 days a week. I get up at 5 am and start writing no later than 6 am and write until 11 am. Some days I write more, but hardly ever, do I write less.

I understand the machine that is Amazon (where I self-publish my books). The Amazon reader needs a book from me every 3-4 months, after that time period, I lose them. There is always another author who will deliver if I don’t, so I make sure I hit my deadlines. Getting some success is great, but in order to maintain that success, it takes discipline.

Let’s look at some issues that might come up as you embrace discipline:


Writer’s Block.

We’ve all had writer’s block. It’s no fun, but there are ways to work through it.

Sometimes you may need to get up and take a walk or go for a drive. Clear your head and get a change of scenery.

Create an inspiring work environment. It could be your office, your dining room, your bedroom, your deck, or someplace else. Wherever you write, surround yourself with things that motivate you – art, books, vintage typewriters, your favorite pillow, etc… Every person will have a different space, make your workspace work for you.

Switch it up. Work in different parts of the house or go to your local library or coffee shop. A change of environment will bring different stimuli, and, hopefully, new ideas.

Don’t give into it.

I don’t know who came up with the term, “writer’s block,” but some may use it as an excuse to skip a day. The problem with that is… not the one day. The problem is one day turns into a week or a month, and before you know it, you have given up your dream of being a professional writer. If you treat your writing as a hobby, then that is what it will become. It’s entirely up to you.


Judging Your Writing.

Sometimes I write a chapter, and I know it’s terrible. But I get it down and change it later. It could be later that day, or the next day, but I put words down on the page. It’s okay not to write great prose every time. The truth is, it’s normal and expected. Try not to judge yourself. If you write through it you should actually feel great about yourself for sticking to your schedule. Write the words, unclog your mind. What can be found beyond the clogged mind may be gold.


Organize Your Time/Delegate.

Depending upon what stage you are in your writing career/ambitions, you may or may not have help. Personally, I like to use UpWork to enlist the help of freelancers. UpWork has freelancers from all over the world and they offer every kind of service you can think of…. editing, cover art, outline writing, book formatting, etc.

People on UpWork are hungry and willing to work for lower fees to build their resumes. I found some real gems on this site, so I would encourage others to, as well. You can even hire someone to brainstorm with.

You might be fortunate to have friends to talk to about book ideas, or maybe you hit the jackpot and have a mentor. Make time for them. Buy them a cup of coffee and soak it all in. Then, pay it forward… if not today, the next time you are in a position to help.

If hiring freelancers is not an option for you, I would suggest getting a whiteboard and organize your time. Try to do this a week at a time. Writing is one chunk of time, but make time for cover art, editing, marketing, and all the other tasks it takes to write/publish your book.


Take Care of Your Health.

This may sound irrelevant, but writing can take a toll. Sitting down and writing can be hard on your back and your nerves. It helps to have a stretching/exercise routine, getting enough sleep and eating healthy. I’m speaking from experience.

If you feel lousy, you will not want to work. You may think you have writer’s block, but your mind might be mushy because you’ve had a Big Mac every day for the past 14 days. Wean yourself off the bad stuff and work in a salad now and then. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start this healthy lifestyle sooner.





The Fiction Writing Process — For Beginning Authors #4 The Basics – Hone Your Skills

I’ve been writing books for eight years now. I followed the basics in the beginning, and I still do. There are certain things readers expect from a good read, and the last thing you want to do is disappoint your readers.

When I first started writing I sought advice from experts, and I researched websites and blogs that gave excellent information about the craft. The best blog I found was “All Write” by AJ Humpage.  It’s all in the posts – everything from grammar to plot twists.

Humpage’s blog mentions hundreds of topics, but I’m going to mention and expand on a couple that I think are especially relevant.

Head Hopping. So, you’re reading a book and it’s from the protagonist’s POV. You’re really into it and then suddenly – in the middle of the chapter – the protagonist is thinking about something the villain is thinking about….  Oh, wait – it jumped to the villain’s POV. Annoying, right? Nobody likes to stop mid-chapter and try to figure out who is thinking what or what is happening.

Having said that head-hopping is no-no mid-chapter, it can work if you break up the POVs with chapters or other breaks in your book that are clearly labeled so that your reader is in the loop. I’ve done this. Just try to be consistent and always keep your reader in mind.

Dialogue Formatting. Sounds boring, I know – but it’s important! When you self-publish on Amazon, there are thousands of readers out in the world that are incentivized to find mistakes (typos, bad grammar, misuse of commas, improper dialogue formatting, etc.) Every month or so you will get a list of these mistakes… even if you have a rock star editor. And if you don’t fix these mistakes (and you have enough of them) Amazon can take down your book.

And so, that’s why this is important. Back to dialogue formatting. It starts simply, by putting quotation marks before and after a quote.


Dialogue tag before: Gerard whispered, “We have to get out of here.”

Dialogue tag after: “We have to get out of here,” Gerard whispered.

Use of the exclamation point, question mark, or ellipsis: “We have to get out of here!” he said.

Notice the “h” in here is in lower case when using the “!.”

The first letter after the quote is also in lowercase when using the “?” and the “…”

What if there is action happening before or after the dialogue? This is one that many people slip upon.


Daniel gasped. “What are you doing?”

Sometimes you may use a quote within a quote. If you do, use single quotation marks.


Daniel’s face reddened. “When you said, ‘I hate you!’ it made me question everything we had together.”

When a new character is introduced in the conversation, start a new paragraph.


“Harry, I don’t like the way you installed these cabinets. They’re crooked,” Kim explained, motioning her hand toward the lopsided walnut door.

“I think they look fine,” he said, looking down at his watch.

Kim took a step toward him. “You’re not even looking at it!” she felt her teeth clench. “Look, I paid you a lot of money. I’m going to need you to fix this.”

“Yeah, I hear you,” Harry said. “Let me take a look at my schedule and I’ll get back to you.” He spun on his heel and headed for the front door.

If an action happens at some point during the dialogue, use a lowercase letter at the beginning of where the dialogue picks up.


“I can’t imagine,” he sucked in air, tension overtaking in his body, “what you were thinking. Do you realize we could have lost the whole squadron?!”

If a quote is long, it may require breaking it up into paragraphs. Place opening quotations marks at the beginning of each paragraph, but only place closing paragraphs at the end of the quote.


Mark paced nervously moments before he began his presentation. “This is how to write a book 101. Head Hopping. So, you’re reading a book and it’s from the protagonist’s POV. You’re really into it and then suddenly – in the middle of the chapter – the protagonist is thinking about something the villain is thinking about….  Oh, wait – it jumped to the villain’s POV. Annoying, right? Nobody likes to stop mid-chapter and try to figure out who is thinking what or what is happening.

“Having said that, head-hopping is no-no mid-chapter, it can work if you break up the POVs with chapters or other breaks in your book that are clearly labeled so that your reader is in the loop. I’ve done this. Just try to be consistent and always keep your reader in mind.

“Dialogue Formatting. Sounds boring, I know – but it’s important! When you self-publish on Amazon, there are thousands of readers out in the world that are incentivized to find mistakes (typos, bad grammar, misuse of commas, improper dialogue formatting, etc.) Every month or so you will get a list of these mistakes… even if you have a rock star editor. And if you don’t fix these mistakes (and you have enough of them) Amazon can take down your book.”

Now, let’s move on to foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing is a practice that authors use to indicate to their readers an idea of what is to come. If done properly, it is subtle, yet evident. Mysteries use this technique a lot, although it is a practice that is ideally used in all genres of fiction writing.

Foreshadowing is a way to build tension and suspense. It also can act as an emotional buffer for your reader so that he (or she) does not feel let down or unprepared when something “big” happens.

So, how do you introduce foreshadowing in your book? Let’s get to it.

Dialogue. A character may reveal something in dialogue that acts as a set-up to an event that is uncovered later in your book. It might be the way the character says something, an action the character is doing while he is saying something, or it may be the words themselves. The idea is to plant seeds, not to drop a 10-foot tree.

Title. A good book title can sell a book. Some examples of this type of foreshadowing are Murder on the Orient Express, One Little Lie, The Last Thing He Told Me, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Love in the Time of Cholera. You get the idea. There is a hint of what’s to come.

Setting. It’s an overcast rural town with boarded-up houses and shut-down factories. It’s a seaside town with quaint coffee shops and cobblestones streets. It’s a dimly lit submarine with the stale smell of Old Spice. Every place is the setting the stage for the story to come.

Metaphors or Similes. Quick explanation: metaphor is a comparison without using the word “as” or “like.” A simile is a comparison using the word “as” or “like.”

Kenny was a caged animal. This metaphor may be a clue of a blow-up to erupt at a later time.

Greg behaved like a silly lap dog, without a care in the world. This simile could be a set-up for something more stressful down the line.

Is it difficult to tell how these could be clues? Think about breadcrumbs. You don’t just drop one and expect to figure out how to get to the end. It takes little pieces of information dropped in the right places to make foreshadowing successful.

Character Traits. Is your character self-assured to the point of being cocky? Maybe it’s a set-up for him to take a fall. Is your love interest recovering from agoraphobia? It could be that the only way she can survive is if she is forced to leave her house.

You’ve seen these plot formulas a million times. They are played out in slightly different ways and in slightly different environments.

The word “formula’ has a negative connotation to it. It’s repetitive, done again and again. The truth is formulas are used constantly because they work. Just like math, you will get the answer you are looking for if you follow the formula. Book writing is no different. We, as authors, want to be creative. But we also want to engage our readers.

The techniques and practices that I have written about in this post are great formulas to follow. Use them and see what happens. You might be surprised by how much room is left for creativity.




















The Fiction Writing Process for Authors for Beginners / #3. What do you read? What do you love?

Do singers listen to music? Do actors go to the theatre? Yes, of course, they do! They enjoy the arts that they practice because they love them.

Now, I suppose there are some who say, “I don’t love it, I just want to sell lots of books so I can quit my 9 to 5 job and get rich.” If this is you, this blog/advice is not for you.

So, if you are an author or an aspiring author, you must read. I am primarily a science fiction writer, although, I have been branching out lately. When I first started writing I read the successful authors that were similar to me in the specific type of science fiction I was writing. In my case it was space opera/military science fiction… books full of spaceships, aliens, navy seals, ex-military, technology, strange planets… you get the idea.

To name a few, I read BV Larson, Craig Alanson, and Andy Weir. From BV Larson and Craig Alanson, I learned how important humor was. Now, I have a different sense of humor… it comes from my personal point of view, which I inject into my characters. Andy Weir is a little bit more straight ahead, with a finer point on technology. You can tell Weir does a lot of research, or, more likely, he has a paid researcher he works with on a regular basis.

I am upping my game on technology. For the most part, my books are meant for fun with non-stop action, while focusing on interesting characters and the relationships they develop. But the more successful you get, the more you can seek out the expertise of a researcher. I began developing an interest in integrating more technology after I read the sequel the Martian (I read that first), Hail Mary by Andy Weir.

Start reading where your interests lie currently. If you’re like me, your tastes will develop over time. My suggestion to you is to follow your gut. When I first started, when I wasn’t writing, I was reading. When I finally fell asleep (always have had trouble sleeping), I would dream, and when I woke up (sometimes in the middle of the night), I would write down things that came to me in my sleep.

When you write and read, hour after hour, a swirl of ideas occupies, not just your mind, but your being. So, you may dream more (day and night dreams). Pay attention to what comes to you, one of those dreams might be the foundation for a best seller.

The aim is not to copy ideas (although some lazy authors do this), but to immerse yourself in the work so that ideas just come to you. And, yes, you will get writer’s block… nothing amazing (like a successful writing career) ever comes too easy. As I mentioned in my previous post, I get a flood of ideas when I’m in water… a hot tub, bathtub, etc… But the water is helped by the fact that I read.


I picked up the new Stephen King book recently, Billie Summers. Now, I don’t write horror, but sometimes I get bored, and if I scroll the best sellers list and a book has an interesting cover and good reviews, I’ll buy it.

That goes against my advice, right? Technically, yes. But, let’s face it, sometimes you just want to read a good book. And, by the way, Billie Summers was a great book. It was not King’s typical horror story, but a straight-ahead thriller. Hmmm, sounds like even Stephen King gets bored.

But this post is for ‘beginner authors’ so ‘in the beginning’ I would suggest…. Well, you know, what I just laid out in this post.

Read on,




The Fiction Writing Process — For Beginning Authors #2 / Your Creative Contemplation Place

The wonders of water should not be underestimated when it comes to sources of inspiration.  A simple hot shower is a great, quick way for me to get back in the right frame of mind to write. If I have more time, I’ll take a bath.

And if I have more time AND it’s not too hot outside I’ll sit in my hot tub. One reason the hot tub experience works for me is the surrounding environment. We landscaped our yard with about 12 trees, lots of flowers, shrubs, and a large fountain along the fence line. Beyond the fenced-in yard are rolling hills, a couple of farms, and animals… cows, deer, elk, and other wildlife.

But it’s the water where it starts. 60% of our bodies are made of water. And 71% of the world is comprised of water. It’s got to be important. right? For me, it frees my mind. It wanders and then I just stumble upon ideas, and then I jot them down on my notepad on my phone.

Another place I go to get away is my basement. A few years ago we finished our walkout basement. One of the things I wanted was a big fireplace. I can sit in my lounger and watch the fireplace and I start to drift. Yes, sometimes I drift to sleep, but sometimes my mind drifts to unexpected places. I can come up with a character’s flaw, a plot twist, or the landscape of an alien planet.

I do have an office. I work in different parts of my house, and, yes, the office is one of those. I have a large computer monitor and I like to spend time designing book covers, for books that (sometimes) haven’t even been started yet. I get inspired by the cover because, to me, a good book cover tells a story. I’ve always been a visual person, and my creative juices really start working when I can see something that intrigues me. Design is in my background, so I play with images and fonts on Photoshop and mess around until something clicks.

Other sources of inspiration include going hiking, going on trips (one-day getaways to five-nighters), reading a good book, looking at bookcovers at a book store, running on the treadmill, spending time with neighbors/family/friends, or watching a great movie.

So, what inspires you?

I will  leave you with a quote that kind of spoke to me, “The important thing for you is to be alert, to question, to find out, so that your own initiative may be awakened.”- Bruce Lee