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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Aug 17, 2018

Mark interviews Alberta writer Samantha Davidson a writer he met at the recent When Words Collide conference in Calgary about the author branding of hers that immediately caught his attention immediately and about her next plans while being just at the point of finishing the first novel she plans on publishing. They also talk about the way that she helps to inspire creative people, not just writers but creatives from all pursuits.

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update, including a few of the talks he presented at WWC.

  • Knowing the Basics and Steering Clear of the Pitfalls of Digital Publishing
  • What 25 Years as a Bookseller and Industry Rep Taught Me About the Business of Writing & Publishing

The 2nd presentation is a bit of an early look at the non-fiction book on writing and publishing that Mark plans on releasing later this year.

Links to PDFs of both presentations are available to all Patrons of the Stark Reflections Podcast.

Mark also shares some info about a talk he did on the art and business of telling ghost stories, as well as the #FreeFridayFrights performed at WWC in front of a live studio audience and a chat about audiobook options for writers.

This episode is sponsored by Findaway Voices. You can learn more about them via

In their chat, Mark and Samantha talk about

  • How Samantha has always been interested in writing and other creative pursuits, including photography; and the suspense novel that she finished years ago that is still sitting on a shelf
  • The way that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) re-inspired her to get most of the first draft of a YA novel completed after being previously disheartened about her writing (with that book being the “first act” of something that appears to be a four-act series of books
  • Samantha’s experience at When Words Collide, including details on how much value she took away as well as a negative experience with the “Live Action Slush” editor panel critique sessions (a live critique of anonymous submissions of first page readings of various submitted pieces), and how, this time around, with another year of experience writing under her belt, she has been able to recognize some of those writing rookie mistakes that she hadn’t been able to see the first time through
  • Why Samantha did not give up even after getting her writer ego beat up a little
  • Some of the highlights from Samantha’s experience at When Words Collide, which include recognition of how important that sense of community can be for a writer
  • The author branding that Samantha has already started on, which comes from her experience as a graphic designer and her long-time desire to create a community of followers sharing meaningful things and feeling inspired
  • Samantha’s podcast “The Inspired Author
  • The mentoring and coaching program where Samantha helps creative people with how to adapt their creative passions into a sustainable career, and the fact that she has a few open spots starting at the end of September
  • The “bookish soap company” that Samantha operates called “A Novel Idea” – soaps and similar products all inspired by classic literature -
  • The important things Samantha has learned about writing, including getting over the “downward” moment that comes right after that initial “getting-started high” that new writing and creating projects can come with as well as the risks that come with the pursuit of perfection
  • The recognition of the “sometimes it’s not okay” dark moments and struggles that writers regularly deal with (but which usually stay hidden)
  • The next steps that Samantha is taking with her YA series, including the process of working with her editor, the query process and the open-ended approach


After the interview, Mark reflects upon perfection, sharing the darker sides, "the good, the bad and the ugly" of a writer's life and the struggle of introversion that he regularly faces when at conferences.


Links of Interest


Samantha Davidson is a world-travelled photographer, who began her career as an editorial journalist for a weekly publication in British Columbia, Canada. After touching many of the arts, her heart brought her back to the written word. 

She is currently working on her debut series – a young adult fantasy due to be published in 2019. Samantha offers mentoring and coaching services to “creatives” who are looking to build a career in writing, photography, or any creative business endeavour; truly believing her purpose is to inspire aspiring authors and artists in their dreams of marrying their passions and career. 

Samantha lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband. Her work is the result of passion, positivity and perseverance.