A Look Back at 2020: Books, Journalism & The Spread of Covid-19
I guess a review for the past year is definitely in order, especially for a writer who’s spent a great deal writing about a myriad of events that occurred throughout my city and the world; as well as a few releases made in my fiction, I’d say that 2020 gave and took away in a sense, but I tried to keep my head high and I thank God for a productive year regardless.
Fiction In 2020 By Domenic Marinelli
I’ll start off by saying that I don’t consider writing a race of any kind. Long away are we from the times when writing books and articles was a new fad and way to make money in the arts. These days, there are millions, and I mean millions, of both Indy and Pro writers out there trying to make a living, or even just writing part-time. There are a lot of stories and books out there for readers to choose from and this is the state of things we are now granted after so many years, both writers and readers alike. Has the influx of writers hurt the industry? Definitely, but there is nothing that can be done about that, as this world seems to be getting only faster as we all move along. But there are certainly a lot of great writers out there. Myself, I mind my own, working at my own pace and strive to do my work, supporting other writers and artists when I can.
*Above...putting the finishing touches on a piece for a local paper, enjoying the occassional cigar
I write because it’s something I always wanted to do…write both fiction and non-fiction and be able to support myself by doing so. Journalism was always a big part of the big dream, so to speak. It wasn’t just a means to an end for me. My heroes were Mordecai Richler, Hunter Thompson, Carl Hiaasen, Jack Kerouac and so many others, and albeit, the latter epic influence in my life wrote a heck of a lot in his 47 years, he didn’t fancy himself a journalist (although he did cover sports in his native Lowell, Massachusetts); he often supported himself by working a myriad of jobs: brakeman, dishwasher… the list goes on. And although I did that for quite a while, often relying on cooking jobs, I was finally granted the ability to write full-time by selling non-fiction, and many pieces at that, to online magazines.
When I was forming the aforementioned big dream, ultimately putting this writing talent God graced me with to good use, being a freelance journalist was one of the things I envisioned myself doing forever. I wanted to write fiction and non-fiction and at my very own pace—the pace I’m comfortable with—which is how any artist should work. If that’s ponderously, then that’s fine; as long as he or she is proud of their work. The pace at which we work does not determine the quality of the work and never really has. There are writers like Michael Chabon who generally take a little longer to work and there’s no one out there that can say his work suffers from it.
However, many criticize those that work quickly, and I’ve always felt this is unfortunate, because Stephen King writes quickly, writers like Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake and even John D. MacDonald, as well as the aforementioned Jack Kerouac worked very quickly and that did nothing to damage their quality of work. I mean their names speak for themselves.
So … for any writer out there, working at his or her own pace, I salute you and I appreciate your salute in return.
Misconceptions About The Writing Industry
I can only speak form my experiences, but the largest misconception out there happens to be about money. These days, everything comes down to the cash and people’s perceptions are always a little eschewed on that front. The biggest misconception of all is that if you’re a writer, you’re filthy rich. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, there are those that hit it big, but that percentage is a small one, as most career freelance writers such as myself can make a decent living and perhaps a lucrative one, but million dollar pay days are certainly hard to come by, although they do exist.
The plan for 2020 was to release 4 independent books through Amazon. Before that point I had released 2 to 3 a year, as well as many articles and short stories sent out to professional print magazines.
The plan for 2020 was set in motion long before Covid-19 was even "a thing,” as they say.
I got into independent publishing after years of sending my stories to literary magazines, and even though I never sent a single manuscript to a major publisher for my novels, I decided to publish with Indy publisher, Lulu for my first book, Weathered Tracks. The story goes on from there. I eventually decided to release using Amazon as a platform and the rest is history, as they say.
I still submit to professional magazines and both journalistically as well as with my fiction.
The Dawn of Covid-19
And in walks the mysterious stranger into the old saloon … guns blazing. Covid-19 did an incredible job of shutting down the planet. For years, I had gotten quite used to touring each of my book releases, playing poetry clubs, cafes, and even outdoor events in and around the city in which I dwell. Covid-19 put a stop to that for sure.
But in the end, I didn’t let it stop me. I stuck to the plan I had and started releasing books. I had already released An Open Letter To Arthur Pond and was starting promotions which included two public appearances and a podcast, and that’s when we hit the proverbial Covid-19 wall.
With that said, I wanted to be a part of what was happening somehow. I mean, I was a writer after all. I looked to my idols, the aforementioned ones, and they were able to cover the goings-on that shaped the world; they were at the front lines in their times and I wanted to be as well, doing my part as a writer, reporting on what was going down.
Writing For Local Papers
And after writing for online magazines for quite a while, it was also during this year that I was able to write for some local print papers and by doing so, I was able to speak on current events the way I hadn’t been able to before.
As I have stated, I have always admired Hunter Thompson and the work he did as a journalist and creative writer. I still think that The Rum Diary is the manifesto for freelance writers everywhere; the character of Paul Kemp (played expertly by Johnny Depp in the film version), is the Ultimate Freelancer incarnate, so to speak, to use a term of Hunter’s from one of his articles entitled, The Ultimate Freelancer. And like Hunter, who spoke of the current events he saw in his time, writing about The Black Panthers, Nixon, The Hell’s Angels, I too wanted to write about what was happening around me.
And what was happening around me?
Sometimes it felt like the fall of society (a society I already was having a problem with overall), especially when I saw people scrapping it out over toilet paper at the local grocery store online.
Like Thompson, Mordecai Richler too was prevalent in matters of a political sort in his writing, essentially being the Canadian voice that many needed at the time of his rise and dominance in the field, as controversial as his opinions were to some.
When Covid-19 hit, I rested on my laurels, but only for the briefest time, taking it all in. And it was Harlan Ellison who said that you can’t just talk about the issues at hand; sometimes you have to get out there and participate as well (paraphrased), so I did. I got out there.
It was in working for the two local papers, that I was able to not only report but put forth an opinion in the form of editorials, speaking on what was happening here in Montréal and the rest of the world.
I spoke on the fall of history: how the world was hell-bent on erasing a past that defined them and us...a past that can only instruct, no matter how terrible, showing what the world has been put through and how they before us, overcame the tragedies that befell them. This only made them stronger, and remembering that can only make them stronger still--make us stronger still. That should never be forgotten.
I was likewise able to attend a protest in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office here in Montréal on Crémazie Street. The protest was for equal rights for all essential workers without permanent immigration status in the province—a persistent problem as Covid-19 spread its wings. It was amazing for me to stand there with those men and women, peacefully protesting for something they believed in.
I was actually proud I can say, standing there, recording the events on camera and in my notepad, interviewing members of the government that were present and being a part of something like that. I couldn’t help to think of another of my heroes, Allen Ginsberg, and all the protests he had attended in his day.
I wrote about vaccines … the ones that didn’t work and the ones that did. I wrote about the government and how they were dropping the ball or doing the right thing in the end (rare, I must admit). I feel the government dropped the ball with many of the decisions made during this disaster, and I spoke about that in my writings for sure.
Photography too became a part of my arsenal and I snapped many pictures at many events: Indian and Pakistani Independence Day, other protests, even visiting crime scenes to snap photos and interview witnesses and police.
*Above (2)...my wife, Sarah would sometimes accompany me on my investigations and/or events--she snapped both these shots
The pieces I wrote were both documentarian and historical in scope. I’m honored to have met the people I did, both in the government and on the streets, working and giving of their time and resources for the greater good.
These articles, as always, can be found online. I have a verified profile on Muck Rack, yet another accomplishment this year. So if you want to delve deeply into my career, just go ahead and dig. It’s not that hard to find my work online, I will humbly add.
I’ve written about cars, games, travel, food, music, film & TV, wrestling, sports, politics, the writing game and of course Covid-19—this generation's of writers and journalists cataclysmic event equal to the wars and political unrest of the past, and it isn’t over yet. (Albeit we sure have had our share of cataclysmic events during the last four years in addition to the pandemic, for sure. In the years before and after as well. There will always be something...one of life's absolute truths.) But for this era, Covid-19 and all that came after it changed the landscape not only for this planet in terms of day-to-day life, but for the arts as well. Political unrest indeed.
In the end, perhaps emulating his or her heroes in any way and striving to reach even further is the most an artist can do. I’ve always believed that and still do. I appreciated that time, writing, learning and moving forward in my career, and as I stated, it was and is the whole point after all.
More Fiction Released in 2020
The best way to speak on the next three releases for the year is probably to go ahead and show you the synopsis for each of them and let the stories speak for themselves. That is best, I’ve always felt. Just think of the old stories … the ones we’ll never forget. The myths, the fables, the old wives’ tales … word of mouth, those stories survived the test of time.
Is the internet still word of mouth?
In a sense I guess it is.
Where It lay Hidden
Welcome to Mason, Texas … where the population is minute and the easy-going is the only way of life. That is until Randall Parsons thunders into town and awakens something that’s been lying dormant and in wait for quite some time, just waiting to be unearthed once more.
Nestled safely in Mason, Colton Reese, a man with a tumultuous past of his own, works at the local ranch, training horses for show, where all is tranquil until the two men meet face to face … leading to a battle of wills. And before the end … Randall learns a most valuable lesson … you should never poke the bear.
Domenic Marinelli brings Where It Lay Hidden, his thirteenth book, to a climactic finish, in what can only be described as a modern day western with heart and a ton of page-turning suspense. Be ready for a final showdown that’ll stay etched in your mind forever.
… A magnificently violent work of art …
… Scathingly brutal …
… An uncomfortable but yet insightful glimpse into the minds of the deranged …
… It is perhaps the darkest and craziest of tales that can show us the most about not only the characters, but perhaps even ourselves …
If you’re looking for a classic story of horror that simply teases without following through, then this book isn’t for you. But if fiction, depicting the reality of what horror can honestly be at its grittiest, then this book delivers on every front, producing scenes that’ll weigh on your mind for years to come. The book recounts the events that transpire in a secluded lighthouse by the sea. The light shining brightly on the tumultuous waters beyond and upon the sinful deeds committed as the story develops, illuminates not only the crashing waves and the acts themselves, but also a truth nestled further into the abyss that can only be found by entering Stella’s Lighthouse … and what happens in the shadows within is unfathomable.
Domenic Marinelli, author of 13 Years of Lamentation, Miles in the Dark and Beneath The White Darkness does it again, and this time he leads you down the darkest path yet. So if you’re into tales of depravity that’ll have you reaching for that light switch, then this is the one for you.
… Horror that isn’t for all horror fans, but only those that are willing to take that trip into the depths of true madness …
…Blunt yet sharp—this book gets to the point in one hot minute, each chapter incessantly peeling away at your skin until only raw flesh and bone remain …
… Short yet certainly not sweet, but relevant for sure …
… An ending you won’t see coming …
Summer of the Great White Wolf
Follow Bobby Fiammavecchia, a disillusioned screenwriter, as he takes a lonely trip back in time to where it all started to go wrong—his life. All the while, a terrible virus rages around him and it's in his seclusion that the wrong turns in his life start to make themselves known. Such trips aren’t for the faint of heart, and Bobby himself encounters the terrible instances and the beautiful, the two creating an enigmatic trip down memory lane that’s worth reading and re-reading. A story that stays with you … resonant and hard to ignore. A return to innocence and a time where heroes still exist … full of heart and faith. A martial arts epic like no other you’ve ever read before, combining the mystery, the magic and the adventure that only a tale of the martial arts can bring.
As always, they can all be found on Amazon (any international variant), and new this year … available to order online or in-store at Chapters/Indigo and Barnes & Noble.
So What now?
I work on my writing. Really that’s all there is to it. It’s what I did before I joined the internet, so to speak, finally joining social media only five years ago, and it’s what I did afterward … releasing professionally published and independently published work. Regardless of what’s happening out there, this is what I do. This is how I support myself, and I take it seriously.
I’m grateful to have been granted the opportunity to write full-time, as I said, and I take to it with a dedication to my work and creations, that I have always had … since my very first publication at the age of ten. And although Covid-19 put a hold on my public events, I didn’t let that stop me either, launching a YouTube channel where I could read my work and bring it to my readers around the world any way I could.
Looking forward, it’s hard to tell in such uncertain times, but I’ll do so regardless, because thank God, the act of looking forward got me through 2020 and productively so, as steep as that hill was to climb.
As I write this, my province is in the middle of a lockdown with an 8 PM curfew. This is something I only read about or saw on film and television as I grew up. Pretty surreal.
But I look hopeful into the future, as I always have, no matter how bad it has seemed. It’s my job I feel, as a writer, to do so (among other things). Being hopeful in one’s reporting and writing, no matter how bleak the subject is, is something that readers can appreciate I hope.
And for all of you out there, my friends and readers, I hope that you too can remain positive amidst the calamity.
Here’s to 2021!!
Cheers, Friends & Readers!!
Domenic Marinelli (January 2021 / Montréal)
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Domenic Marinelli is a freelance writer / journalist and author of multiple books including Generic V, An Open Letter To Arthur Pond and Weathered Tracks. He has written for Park Extension News, The MTL Times, Steel Notes Magazine, Hot Cars, babbletop.com and many other publications.