Kalaheo author wins prize for fiction novel

KALAHEO — Mark Daniel Seiler was playing basketball with some friends when a torn anterior cruciate ligament sidelined him.

With nothing to do but rest and heal, the carpenter found the inspiration to write a fiction novel, “River’s Child.”

“I had a lot of time on my hands,” Seiler said. “I sent the book to David Rosenberg from the Kauai Writers Conference and he was generous enough to read it. He gave me a lot of comments but ultimately said that with some edits, you could send it off.”

Seiler made those edits and began sending out his manuscript.

“I sent out about 150 query letters and waited over four to six months to hear back,” the Kalaheo resident said. “After getting rejection letters every day and not getting any good news, I had just about given up. I didn’t totally give up on it, but I had run out of options.”

With little hope left, Seiler received one more message about “River’s Child.” This time, it wasn’t a rejection notice.

“I got an email saying that I won the Landmark Literary Award (for fiction),” he said.

Seiler then began emailing Leslie Browning from Homebound Publishing, who told him she wanted to publish his book.

After self-publishing his first novel, “Sighing Woman Tea,” Seiler couldn’t believe his second novel would be mass-published.

“You go a long time where it’s just friends and family that will read your stuff, but I had some good luck with my first book, I had a lot of good reviews. The best thing is hearing from people who get a hold of you to talk about the story. It motivates you to get good feedback,” he said.

“River’s Child” is set to come out in November. In the meantime, Seiler is working on this third novel. And his fourth, and his fifth.

“It’s a little more serious than a hobby,” he said. “It’s more like a calling. There’s too much time and effort put into this. I could’ve built several homes in the time it took to write this book. The commitment has to be pretty high.”

Seiler works on each of his three pending projects at once instead of focusing on one. Seiler likes the variety and freedom to write, and doesn’t get frustrated when he can’t think of something to type.

“If you expect to sit down and write a book, it’s not going to happen,” he said. “Some people might make a goal to finish the book in a certain amount of time, but I don’t do that. It takes however long it’s going to take for it to be right.”

While he’s not working on his future novels, Seiler builds homes and canoes. He also plays the violin and volunteers.

Seiler, who had the idea of becoming an author in the back of his mind and decided to explore his passion for literature, doesn’t understand why everyone who wants to become a writer doesn’t just do it.

“If somebody does want to write a book, they can,” he said. “You can’t do it all by yourself, but it’s within reach for anyone to do it. I’m not an English major. You just have to love it.”

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