April 30th, 2018
I’m going to tell you the story about a dream…
…Ok, not, like, a recollection of a sleeping dream, because I hate it when people do that. ‘Oh, you want to tell me about what your brain conjured and formed into trash-images that mean nothing? Please do go on…’, and also I mastered lucid dreaming years ago, so uncontrolled dreams are just weird.
When I was 18, I had a dream. There were three things I wanted: To move out west, to learn Japanese, and to work in an outdoor store.
I know, not very exciting, right? I moved to Calgary from Southern Ontario, I took my Japanese lessons, and I started at an outdoor store shortly after I moved. Boom. Done. Life goals achieved. Not terribly imaginative, but those that know me know what a realist I am.
Let me tell you about my next big dream: to live better than I did growing up. Now, I wasn’t destitute. I was raised in a single-parent home that was happy and generally uneventful, but I wanted to offer better to my kids. I never wanted a mansion or a six-figure income. I wanted to bury myself in Canadian suburbia and revel in the beige of it all.
Once more: mission accomplished. House is a bit bigger. Car is a bit nicer. My kids want for very little, attend a better school, and while I still have the ‘no, we can’t’ mentality being raised by a single mom affords a person to help keep them in line when earned rewards or small gifts dance too close to privilege, I generally consider them spoiled (in a loving way), or at least, more so than I was.
So about writing, since that’s presumably why you’re on my page and blog. I had a dream…
It was so simple: I wanted to raise enough money strictly from my own written work that I could take my family out to dinner. Just one dinner. Big check? Big meal! Small check? Fries at Wendy’s! Food and sustenance for my loved ones paid for completely with dollars earned from my brain.
You can even see traces of that goal back in some of my early interviews and conversations. Those that have asked have received that answer for years. Just a humble meal. Everything, everything after that is gravy. I don’t want to rule the world with the books I write. I like my job. I like my friends there. I like my life. Writing isn’t my life goal, retire early end game. It’s a delicious seasoning to the amazing steak that is my life.
Last night, success! We didn’t dine at the snootiest of steak and / or seafood establishments (because eating shellfish is gross. They’re bottom-feeders, people. Do you know why they’re so plump and luscious and decadent? Poop! ) nor did we have to share a small fries between a family of four. We walked in to a local traditional Mexican restaurant, everybody ate their fill of delicious foods, shared some dessert, and had a beverage of their choice. When the time came, I placed each dollar earned from the sale of my books so far into the little faux-leather folder thingy, including enough for a slightly above-average tip, and we walked away to the car. No change required, thank you.
It was just another meal. The kids didn’t want to eat their rice or salad. One of them wanted extra refried beans. My wife isn’t much of a drinker, so she only had a water, which is her usual drink when we go out regardless of the circumstances.
The kids eventually went to sleep in their beds. My wife and I sat and watched ‘Westworld’ together, and the night ended just like most others in our home. The only difference was that we would all survive the night and live to see another meal not because of the income from her day job or mine, but because enough of you believed in me as a writer and wanted to see what I had to say (whether you felt “obligated” to because you’re my friend of family or you don’t know me and came across my work some other way).
You can’t imagine how humble and grateful that makes me feel. I sincerely hope you don’t regret helping support me. Regardless of whether you do or not, I also hope whatever I do next makes you feel better about the choice you made when you clicked that ‘Add to Cart’ button or grabbed a copy from me in passing. My family and I ate, and did so reasonably well, because of your faith in me. That’s a gift I will never forget. My dreams seem to be pretty easily obtainable with enough focus and elbow grease, but this one required your help. An outside party had to contribute to it.
This margarita is for you, dear reader, even if you’ve never bought any of my work. You’re reading this, so some small part of you cares what I have to say. I swear I won’t forget that. SALUD!
March 12th, 2018
I’d like to tell you all a tale of Catching Hell, if I may. It’s an odyssey that I hope inspires you to stick with your dream regardless of what happens. Or give it up, because sometimes a dream can’t happen, and that’s okay too.
In the January of 2009 I lost my job because I sucked at it. Spade is a spade. Unfortunately I walked right into a recession and work was scarce. It took a month until I found something, and that was with day after day of resumes and CVs going out. Literally hundreds, I kid you not.
I ended up working in the basement of a big engineering company. I was running around moving boxes, fixing chairs, dismantling offices, and all other manner of dirty jobs to help the building and its employees happy. It was good work, and I needed the break from what I’d been doing (customer service and retail management) but no small part of me needed to expand my mind again.
With all of the walking I’d been doing, I had a lot of time to think to myself, and Creative Marc came back in force. It being an economic downturn as I mentioned, the office had swaths of empty cubicles on some floors. What started as me hiding away in one of these cubes to watch movies in a quiet place turned into me starting to write a chunk of the story I had in my head since I was 15 years old. In office E2-0901 I wrote and wrote. Anyone who reads the book will know that number. I couldn’t give it up. It meant too much to me.
Every lunch hour I‘d go to the same cubicle and write for 40-45 minutes a day, then I’d fold up my laptop and go back to repairing chair arms and dreaming of what came next.
I always thought that books were long, so it was supposed to take a while to write. I spent a year on it; crafting it into the story I wanted to tell. I eventually had to move cubes, but the original spot was always special to me. I never wanted to sell it, or put it out into the world. I just wanted to write. When I was done in Fall of 2011, it was 225,000 words.
I began editing it on and off over the following years. I’m no professional writer or editor. I just got rid of parts I didn’t like, spelling errors, a main character named Pahl who was supposed to adventure with Johan, and I cut the Prologue (5 years ago today. RIP Court O’Pyre.) I even started consulting freelance editors, who suggested I split it into two books, because by this point I’d considered putting it out into the world and not just handing to friends and family for shits and giggles.
It was my wonderful wife Jen who convinced me I needed to do something with it, with her frequent reminding that I wrote a book, and that’s not something everyone does. But I’m not a writer. What do I know about authorship?
I have a dream of starting a Calgary poutine review blog, because I want people to pay me for eating poutine. It’s a noble goal, damnit! I was preemptively writing a number of reviews, and I had been for months, when I was sitting at my desk on February 29th, 2016 (during the editing time in the preceding years, I had been promoted to an office job in the same company, and now I was a cubicle jockey, a position I hold to this day) and I thought I should write properly. Why couldn’t I get myself out there? There was no epiphany or grand pep-talk. I just decided I wanted to.
I was satisfied that I’d edited Part 1 as much as I could, and I began putting it out to a select, targeted number of publishers. They were usually near Calgary, because I figured that was my greatest chance at success. After a modest yet not completely soul-crushing number of rejections, and after going back to school, going to a literary conference and pitching like a madman, and generally learning the industry a bit better. In the fall of 2016 I was contacted by an outfit from Red Deer, with an offer to publish both parts. I was in, with what I considered a small amount of effort put into all of the right places. Catching Hell was going to be a book people could buy, since I now really wanted to get stories into people’s heads. I don’t want the money. It’s never been about the money. Facebook was alerted! The well wishes came pouring in. I had so many ‘likes’.
Likes don’t sell books, people. Never measure your life by your ‘likes’. The high lasted for two weeks.
A fortnight later I received the notice that my publisher was shutting down, and my contract was voided. I was back at it, and I just felt sick to my stomach. I had counted my chickens and it burned me, emotionally. I’m not a very optimistic person by nature, though, so I deal with failure quite well. I got up and at it again.
In Spring of 2017, while standing in line for my son’s baseball tryouts, I struck gold again with a popular ebook publisher. I don’t care about format, so I took it at once. Ebooks are the future, folks. Like it or lump it. The point is I didn’t stay down very long. I put it out there, but cautiously. I got a lot less ‘likes’ this time.
It was a 1-year publishing window, so I had some time. Death Dresses Poorly was picked up and released in that window, making it my first book, and I couldn’t be more proud of it and the team that helped it come together. But I’d written and edited that in six weeks. It wasn’t the 5-year mission Catching Hell was.
Flash-forward to March 2018. I’m contacted by my new publisher, letting me know that they were changing direction, and since Catching Hell was a series, I had the option to pull it and start again, because they likely weren’t going to “print” Part 2, which I didn’t have ready yet anyway.
In the end, I opted to keep it going, and I even tried to work out a deal for Part 2, because that’s how I roll, and sometimes if you want to get your work out there, that’s how you need to roll, too. You never get an answer to the questions you don’t ask.
So Catching Hell Part 1: Journey is now out there, on fine ebook formats everywhere! I’m happy with my decision to keep at it, because it’s still working for me, even if it and its sequel have questionable futures. This writing game, in the brief two years I’ve really been focused on it, is a harsh mistress. It can crush you as easily as it can excite you, and it’s how you deal with these things that will determine how far you go.
I hope you read it, and I hope you like it, and I hope you want to read more. I have more stories to tell you. And remember to be a hero.
February 2nd, 2018
Greetings and happy Groundhog Day, everybody! I hope the new year has been great to everyone so far. Clearly I’ve been busy, but that’s life in the fast lane.
So it’s been almost two months of Death Dresses Poorly being available to the world, and if one factors in free giveaways, I’m at around 100 copies out there in the wild. They say the first thousand is the major hurdle, and I’m a 10th of the way there. That’s AMAZING!!! Jeez, 100 copies floating around out there? Craziness. I can’t tell you how great that makes me feel. Not even two years into this journey and I’ve made it that far. It doesn’t seem real.
I admit I’m at a bit of a lull, writing-wise. I have things to work on, but I’m still contributing to my friends at Hardmode Games, who have a secret project I’m proudly a part of. Good people I’ve known forever who deserve good things. I can’t complain about my own lack of writing if what I am doing is contributing to the quality of life of others.
Catching Hell Pt. 1 comes out next month, or so I’m told because this publisher is much more secretive than DDP’s. It’s weird, because I never considered all of the different techniques publishers employ to get work out there. That’s going to be a huge moment for me, because CH is what started this odyssey years ago, when I put words on a page and suddenly years had passed. I credit my wife with constantly reminding me that “Hey, I wrote a book! Who does that?” and that it wasn’t an accomplishment that should be disregarded so easily. With CH, the world will finally be introduced into the world of Ryuujin, the magnum opus that will be my life until I’m dead. You’ll finally get to meet Nixon Ashe, the face that graces the home page of this website, and his so-hard-to-write Scottish brogue.
I’m jittery, I’m excited, and I’m still riding the high of DDP and all that comes with it. I’ve happily got myself a publicist from Creative Edge to help me out, and suddenly I’m awash in interviews and opportunities.
All this ego stroking has a point, I swear: it’s out there. It’s out there for you to grab, because when it hits, it can hit hard and fast. Even with no time, the effort you put in when you can will pay off. It will, I swear! Maybe not in a rush like me, but it will. Never let there be a doubt in your head, because doubt brings you down. This is where I wanted to be, so this is where I’m supposed to be. Period.
I may be the anti-author, but I don’t doubt for a second that I deserve to be here, and neither should you when you make it.
December 5th, 2017
Next Tuesday Death Dresses Poorly is released into the world. A thing I did will be out there. Writing contests will be entered. Handshakes will presumably be given. Maybe a small get-together before the ball of 2018 and Marc’s writing really gets rolling.
Now, I am enormously proud of myself, which isn’t something I admit easily. Pride is not something I have a lot of in the things I do. I’m proud of the things my wife or kids, friends or family do. Not myself. Call it unwarranted self-pity if you want. I wouldn’t argue. I’m excited for this in ways you couldn’t believe. I really am! But pride is a hard thing for me to muster about myself.
…But…there’s always a but…I’m kinda’ lost here. How should I be feeling? Because I’m gonna bet it’s not like this. I won’t say it’s malaise, since that would imply I don’t care, and I do. Greatly. I want this to be successful, for me and for everyone who’s put an ounce of work into it with me.
Is it cockiness? That’s possible. Ever since I decided to make a go of writing, this was the logical outcome: my work in your hands. The thing is, anything less than that would have been seen as a failure in my eyes. I’d be happy friends and family could see what I did, but not you, and you are the real goal. My stories in your head. I know my stories are good enough to get there, so yeah, I have a book coming out. Duh. Where else was it supposed to go?
Mostly I just think it’s a culmination of so much happening in my life, and my long-since having lost the youthful energy required to really, truly embrace this moment. A hazard of being fresh at near-40 I suppose.
In the end I think it’s just my usual, casual, logical self. This was the end goal, and it’s not even a goal! It’s not the end of a marathon; it’s just me making to the starting line! Now the real work begins. Writing more. Marketing. Blood, sweat, and tears. That’s what really fires up my motor, and that’s what I’m tentative about: the real work is just beginning, and I’ve never done this before so who knows what’s going to happen.
Death Dresses Poorly is special to me. It’s the most original thing I’ve ever written, and you’ll never know it because for many of you it’ll be the first thing of mine you’ve ever read!
December 12th. On Amazon, and soon in good Canadian Prairie and southern Maine booksellers everywhere. Come witness a man have a panic attack realizing a childhood dream! Marvel at his ability to act like everything is ok and he’s not scared to death! Come watch a man just warming up…
October 17th, 2017
Yesterday I received my standard monthly email from the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, an organization I am a member of, but have never fully embraced in regards to being an active member. The truth is that I joined originally because membership was required to attend the Calgary literary festival ‘When Words Collide’, and I’ve just kept it going believing that at some point it may come in handy. And yesterday, it did.
It was calling for submissions for various literary awards, and how submissions needed to be in before the end of the year. I just so happen to have a book coming out in that time. A book that matches their criteria. A book that I feel is better than I may give it credit for some days.
Then it hit me: I could submit to that. So I looked into it more, and there’s a list of awards and prizes I can submit too, strictly because I’m A: Canadian, B: Albertan, and C: Calgarian. Holy crap, I could send my work in to be prodded and judged! Hot damn! Will I win? Who cares! No really… who does? Do I even care?
I almost market myself as an Anti-Author. I’m not against being an author, per-se, however I am absolutely not a prototypical one at all. I don’t force myself to write every day. I don’t read voraciously and join book clubs of any sort. I don’t actively seek out others in my field, because I don’t even consider it ‘my field’. As I previously said, even my WGA membership is more of a place-holder for the possibility of bigger things, even though I know it’s a great organization with bottomless writer resources and connections.
As of writing this, I’m a week away from my 38th birthday. I am not at a point in my life where I can drop everything and pursue this full-time, and I doubt I ever will be. Writing has to be second place to a million other sometimes boring but no less important things. I am not a writer trapped in a day job looking for his break. I am a working man, who also writes.
I say dumb things like this, as if schluffing off a gift I’ve been given (I’m not, because it’s not a gift) but then I do things like hire a Publicist (details pending) and start planning next year’s Alberta / Prairies convention schedule. Who’s fooling whom, here? Am I a guy feigning being an author just so people will indulge my desire to have you read my words? Or am I a writer convincing himself that I’m not a writer just to shield myself from the heartbreak. Both? Like my writing will always tell you, the world is infinite shades of grey. Gray? Graey? What country am I in again? Who’s my target demographic?
I’m going to enter the contests and awards, and I’m going to convince myself that I don’t care. Because I don’t. I’m Marc Watson: The Anti-Author. Right?
September 19, 2017
It’s Good to Have Friends
To start, can we all please take the time to acknowledge how great this piece is:
This is an image of Nixon of the Great Fire and Ash, one of the main characters of my upcoming epic science-fantasy Catching Hell Pt. 1. It was created by a very good friend of mine, Patrick Yokan Persaud, and as you likely saw, a version of it graces this site as the background (at least at the moment). Patrick and I have been very good friends since grade 7, and he has been a partner of mine for untold numbers of gaming nights, CCG battles, and anime binges. In short, he gets me.
When I asked him to create this image for my website, I gave him the general parameters of the character, and then just let him have at it. I love the results. It captures the outlandish and intense nature of a larger than life creature, with the vibe of the over-the-top 90s anime that inspired him and the story he inhabits.
Pat has always been more talented than me. On top of being a natural artist, he’s also an incredibly talented author in his own right, and I hope you get to see the fruits of his writing labour soon. When I needed an image to launch my site, there was only one name on my list, and I was not disappointed.
Patrick isn’t a widely-published author, and what works he has done are behind the scenes, or are inspirational like this image of Nixon. From this, I was able to find even more motivation to get myself out there, get my website posted (read: ask my wife really nicely to work on it), and be the writer I want to be. When I re-read Nixon’s Scottish brogue dialogue as I edit Catching Hell Pt. 2, it’s the image my friend created for me that I see speaking. For Hollywood casting, I’m open to suggestions. Imposing Scottish ginger actors: GO!
Some days I don’t want to talk writing. Scratch that… most days I don’t. Those are the days for true friends. Friends who don’t care about what you’re working on, or your publishing woes, or your editing headaches, or what font you’re using (besides, as you can see my obsession with Courier New will never end). Those days are just as key and influential as the ones where you’re neck deep in the social awkwardness of writing conferences and editing phone calls. I don’t shout out to those friends because they know who they are, and they know what they do for me. On the flip-side of that, I have author friends, old and new, who I love speaking to and being around. I love sharing their successes or helping them through difficult times. Or, just talking shop!
A friend doesn’t have to be a direct influence on my work or yours. Maybe they’re a welcome distraction from it. A needed escape from your own brain. I was lucky enough to have an old friend who could give a face to a voice in my head, but I have other friends who are just as influential and inspire me in other places, and I’m damn sure that comes out in the work I produce. It’s not important that you surround yourself with talented people; it’s that you surround yourself with good ones. It’s up to you to provide the talent.
September 12, 2017
Hey, my first blog post! No more diving into the depths of Facebook to get these out! Look at how astonishingly progressive I am!
On February 29th, 2016, I decided to stop sitting on my long-gestating, 4 years to write epic fantasy manuscript ‘Catching Hell’ (still the most clever name I’ve ever had) and do something about it. I went back to school. I learned how to pitch to publishers. I edited like a beast! Less than a year later I had a book deal.
Then my deal fell apart. The economy is tough on everyone I guess.
But, BUT, then I had another one. A strong one with Double Dragon E-books. I’m not picky about format, and they have proven success, so I jumped on it. Catching Hell Part 1, coming March 2018!
Somewhere in there I wrote another, considerably shorter book. A much different story, Death Dresses Poorly. From concept and the first keyboard strokes to a publishing deal with Fluky Fiction was a whopping 8 months.
All this self-congratulatory BS isn’t to make you feel bad, but instead to hopefully help you realize that it only takes one. One email. One meeting. One moment to decide a dream is worth chasing. One extra schlocky motivational poster quote!
I’m here to say hi, but also to continue sharing my story. Death Dresses Poorly comes out in the next few months, from my brain to your hands, and then Catching Hell follows, all because my thumbs we’re tired of being sat on. I hope you follow along and enjoy the struggles of a newb in the writing world.
Thanks for riding with me!