Find Your “Why”

Hi there. My name is Mark. I’m an author.

And I really do not know what I’m doing.

I am, however, quite certain of why I’m doing it. And for my fellow writers reading this, I suggest you give no small amount of thought to why you’re doing what you’re doing too.

I never really set out to be an author, really. It just sort of happened. Because I don’t know what else you’d call it when I set out to tell a story where I could share so many of my own experiences and interests. Mostly to enshrine those parts of my past I myself don’t want to forget. Like growing up amongst Polish-Americans near Detroit. Or my love for Great Lakes lore and legend. Staring out at the passing countryside through a big rig’s windshield. Practice in and appreciation for traditional Korean fighting arts. And, most importantly, my thirty plus years in various anime, manga and anthropomorphic fandoms.

“The modern day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats torn apart as militaries on three continents vie to exploit their deadly talents” became my tagline, my mantra, my rallying cry. My authorial intent. Their story became my “what.” Telling it became my “why.”

Weeks turned into months turned into years as I drafted my manuscript, edited it, joined a critique group, edited it again, read books on self-editing, edited it again.

I learned how to apply an important Scriptural passage: “cast not thy pearls before swine.” I learned to carefully discern just whom I could trust my book baby to, along with my fragile ego. I learned what worked for them/there/then may well not work for me/here/now.

I cussed. I cried. I carried on.

Though agents and publishers posted “No vampires! No werewolves!” in big bold print all over their submission guidelines, I submitted my werecat book anyway. Nearly ninety rejections later, I figured out the thing they were saying without saying it was “no shifter books of any kind.” (Though paranormal romance imprints were still taking shifters, my book didn’t have enough romance for them. Go figure.) The markets didn’t want to read a story like mine in this post-Twilight era in which we live. Nor did they believe the reading public would either.

I stepped back and asked myself a fundamental question–did I have a problem with my craft or with my concept? Because though I was eager to improve my craft (and still am!), my concept was non-negotiable (and still is.) I had decided at the beginning I was going to write about my werecats. Or I wasn’t going to write at all.

The book you have in your heart to write may well not be the book any one person has in their heart to read. That’s the way it was for me. But I wrote it, edited it, pitched it anyway, laboring under the delusion others would think my concept was just as wicked cool as I did. The way I approached agents and publishers was no longer one of “pick me! pick me!” anymore, but more like “are you going to help get my story to its audience or aren’t you?” Because if no one else was, I was going to hire an editor, a proofreader, a cover designer, a layout artist. And self-pub myself one kickass book.

Then I got an offer. And another. After a couple weeks of negotiating, I had myself a publisher. Yay me.

Find that book that moves you, dear reader, the one exuding the author’s passions you can identify with. Then buy it. Read it. Review it on your blog, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on any online forum you can. Tell your friends. Tell the author you’re telling your friends. Authors (and their publishers) feel your love when you do.

Dear writer, I hope you’ll define your authorial intent–that you will find your “why.” Figure out what excites you and channel that passion into your work. Craft a book people can’t wait to get their hands on. Because I believe you will have done just that.

And then tell me about it. Because that’ll be a book I’ll definitely want to read.

Check out my interview with Mark here! Read the excerpt to his novel here!

Meet the Author:

Boyhood interests in trains and electronics fostered Mark’s career as an electrical engineer, designing and commissioning signal and communications systems for railroads and rail transit agencies across the United States. Along the way Mark indulged his writing desire by authoring articles for rail and transit industry trade magazines. Coupled with Mark’s long-time membership in anime, manga and anthropomorphic fandoms, he took up writing genre fiction. Growing up in Michigan, never far from his beloved Great Lakes, Mark and his wife today make their home in Wisconsin with their son and a dog who naps beside him as he writes.

Mark is a member of Allied Authors of Wisconsin, one of the state’s oldest writing collectives. He also belongs to the Furry Writers’ Guild, dedicated to supporting, informing, elevating, and promoting quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators.

Connect with Mark:

Check out Mark’s website,, for more on his writing, upcoming events, and to subscribe to his email list.

You can also connect with him on your favorite social media platform:

Don’t forget to check out Always Gray in Winter!



Book Cover by Boneitis

The modern day remnant of an ancient clan of werecats is torn apart by militaries on three continents vying to exploit their deadly talents. Born in an ethnic Chicago neighborhood following her family’s escape from Cold War-era Poland, were-lynx Pawly flees underground to protect her loved ones after genetically-enhanced soldiers led by rogue scientist and rival werecat Mawro overrun her Navy unit in the Gulf of Oman. Pawly’s family seeks her out in a desperate gambit to return their ancestral homeland and reconcile with their estranged kinsmen. But when her human lover arrives to thwart Mawro’s plan to weaponize their feral bloodlust, Pawly must face a daunting choice: preserve her family secrets and risk her lover’s life or chance her true nature driving him away forever.


“Part covert ops thriller, part werecat sci-fi, part Polish cultural heritage. This indie book is unique and a stellar read!”

— Mica Scotti Kole, book blogger and Free Writing Events organizer

“An intriguing tale of werecats and military operations that balances action with a well-rounded cast of characters. Buy if you like a touch of the paranormal with your military Sci-Fi.”

— Matt Doyle, author of ADDICT and Matt Doyle Media principal

“The most impressive debut novel I can remember! Mark Engels writes with a sure voice that’s witty, poignant, and just plain fun. I love this book!”

— William Allan Webb (member SFWA), author of STANDING THE FINAL WATCH and STANDING IN THE STORM

“ALWAYS GRAY IN WINTER is an action-driven furpunk military thriller with strong characters and great plot twists.”

— M. Crane Hana, author of MORO’S PRICE

“A great debut…something big waiting for Engels in his career.”

— Brett Brooks, author of THE DEVIL WAS GREEN

Buy it here:

Trade Paperback

Kindle eBook

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash