Me, a Primer, or: How Did I Get In The Mall

I recently took my writing career in a new direction, which is another way of saying I got “downsized” out of my job. Now I’m making a monthly appearance in a local shopping guide that’s aiming toward regional feature magazine status, and I had to introduce myself all over again …


Wait, what—where am I? How did I get here?

Maybe you’re saying the same thing. If you’re one of my regular readers, you last saw me in the weekly newspapers that ran my humor column for twenty-three years. It was good for nineteen of those years, and funny for almost seventeen.

But things change, which is another way of saying the papers were acquired by another newspaper. I was deemed a duplication of efforts as they moved in a different direction, end quote. It hit me pretty hard; I haven’t heard those words since my first wife asked me for a divorce.

It turns out the Kendallville Mall, my new home, is also going in a new direction. Maybe it’s the same direction, but signaling its way into the left lane and speeding right into local writers. Not literally. That would be bad.

I could have taken a decades-overdue vacation from “Slightly Off The Mark”, but I’m not one to just sit idly by while I go broke. So, while my wife and I were turning my unused columns into a book, we were contacted by Julie Scher, who was searching for exactly what I provide: entertaining silliness. Hopefully entertaining; definitely silly.

For those who don’t know me, an introduction might give you an idea of what you’ll get from my new monthly slot:

The “R” in my name is necessary, because if you search the web for “Mark Hunter” you’ll get almost three million responses—and about ninety thousand of them are better known.

I’m an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department, working my way toward eventually writing full time, and failing miserably. One thing I’m doing wrong as a book writer is not creating a “brand” for myself. I’ve written two romantic comedy novels, a short story collection, and young adult adventure, and a local history book, and with luck I’ll have a humor book coming out before Christmas. That’s not a brand. That’s the flea market of writers—a little of everything. I’m actually working on a science fiction novel.

But here I do humor, although you’ll find I sometimes try to make up for my lack of brand by slyly working my book titles into my columns. Not that I’m going to tell you that.

I often write about home maintenance attempts, which always go badly, and medical problems, which often result from home maintenance attempts. I’m the Tim Taylor of humor columnists, except I actually try to avoid using power tools. My jobs all include typing—I can’t afford to lose any fingers.

You’d think it would be counterintuitive after that last paragraph, but I’ve been a volunteer firefighter for over three decades. It goes completely against my main life goals, which are to avoid tools, getting hurt, and going out in winter. I’ve been a firefighter longer than I’ve been anything, except a writer and alive.

My wife, Emily, is long on patience and also long on technical talent. That’s why she edits, designs, and maintains pretty much everything related to my writing. Since we’ve been married she’s gotten good at first aid and, thanks to my tendency to pun, she’s also improved her aim with thrown household objects.

That’s all you need to know to start, unless you’re a professional burglar. In that case you probably should know about Baeowulf (Bae for short, hence the spelling), our 85 pound overprotective dog, and Lucius, the snake.

If the dog doesn’t get him, I’m more than willing to throw the snake at a burglar.

I have a beard now. And yet my coolness factor has not improved one bit.
I have a beard now. And yet my coolness factor has not improved one bit.
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