August 8th, 2023
When Words Collide! Wait, what is When Words Collide?
WWC is the annual Calgary writer’s conference, held each August for three days, and gives us writerly types a place to get together and do our writerly thing. There’s panels and guest speakers and fun events, and events that make you think, and events meant to just shut your brain off.
There’s fun get-togethers and old friends and new faces, and it’s exhausting in all the best ways, but it’s also business time, so be ready to get down to it!
I started coming to WWC in 2016, when a fresh-faced Marc walked into the place feeling like the world’s biggest tool. I felt I didn’t belong there (wrong), that I didn’t have anything to offer (wrong), and that I looked like a fish in outer space (mostly true). I pitched books, did readings, met people, and started this networking journey, a part of the writing business you never see glamorized in popular culture.
So now I get dolled up in my writer-y-ist attire (cheesy hats and all) and get to it, schmoozing and glad-handing, making fantastic connections, and learning all the stuff I never knew before.
And this year was a blast! The first one back live after the weird COVID years, and it was strange, but also like we never missed a beat. The hotel was packed, the conversations were plentiful, and the buzz was palpable, as they say.
I sat on panels, did some more readings, sold some books, and wrapped it up on Sunday with a head full of good times.
And it hit me one the way home…
2016 was my coming-out party. A new face in the place. And I went to more over the years, and I got better, and then this year, even after all the time away, I just rolled into it, comfy as a dog in a sleeping bag. When did it happen? When had I become “One of Them?” Am I actually one of them? I don’t really suffer from imposter syndrome, mostly because I KNOW I’m an imposter, which makes it easier to deal with. But the world accepts me anyway, and I thank them for it.
And here on the other side, I can say I’m absolutely looking forward to next year. Will I have more to give? Will I stay in the shadows? Who knows. Time will tell.
But I know these good people will be there for me, however I chose to go in, and I’ll be there for them.
Writer’s conferences are tough. But it’s a good tough. It’s the kind of tough you look forward to. It’s the kind of tough that makes you better. Get out there, if you get a chance. You may feel like a poser at first, but this is a welcoming world. Just give it a chance.
March 1st, 2022
Oh, you know what this means! If I’m back to blogging, that means stuff is coming!
Here we are. The SIX YEAR anniversary of my official writing journey! It has been a very strange and different year, and was just as busy as it was quiet.
COVID-world has crippled my writing. I just…didn’t wanna. However, I did jump back into the convention world and had a great time back at the Calgary Expo, and even though it was limited and my ears hurt from masks and my voice hurt because…uh…talking, I accomplished my mission and sold all of my remaining book stock!
I also re-released Catching Hell Part 1, now with Fluky Fiction! A new coat of paint, a fresh, proper edit, and some marketing whatnots and my first (written) book became bigger than ever, and set up the coming re-mastered sequel! (Stay tuned…)
And why not throw in an audiobook?! Death Dresses Poorly got an audiobook, narrated and mastered by ME, adding to my quiver of skills. Arguably my most successful release yet.
Oh, also, after a quick discounted release, Between Conversations became my first #1 Amazon best seller!
It’s been a year…
But what about writing? Well, there was a whole lotta nothing for a long time. Until, there wasn’t. In a BURST of creativity, I wrote something new, a full-length novel, and a quick personal edit, in just three weeks. How I did it on just my lunch hours? Painful, painful fingers. Oh, also I wrote a chapter in a bar one day, so that was new! Look at me expanding my comfort zones.
No two years have been the same on this journey, and man does that make it exciting! I can’t wait to show you what all is going to happen in the year to come. COVID is waining. Life is going back to normal. Maybe more writing will follow? Who knows. Clearly I should not plan anything, because the world does not accept concrete plans anymore.
Oct 28th, 2020
Let’s Talk About Shannara…
I have in my hands what is expected to be the final Shannara story, The Last Druid. I’m just about to start it. And then, the book on a seminal and long-running series will literally and figuratively be closed. Do I believe it? No. Not completely. Terry Brooks is a great author, but he’s also a smart one. He knows how and why he is successful, and Shannara is at the heart of it. He’ll twist it and bend it and create new stories in other parts of this world. I believe we won’t return to The Four Lands, but out of this world completely? Never. How do I know? He’s done it before. That’s how he got me. Clever bugger.
Terry Brooks was deep into this game before I was born. As I grew his imprint on the world of fantasy (and arguably, science-fantasy, my personal bread and butter) was undeniable. I was a voracious reader, and there was his works, plastered all over the libraries and bookstores. I grew and crafted my own worlds, but those Shannara stories were always there. And I never picked them up. I can’t really say why. I had friends read and praise them, but I just never had the urge. They seemed so big. So daunting. And honestly, not entirely my bag. High fantasy wasn’t for me, which is what I always assumed they were. Indeed, the original trilogy certainly was, for all intents, so I just let them sit there.
Years later I came to a place where I wanted to read his stuff, but Shannara or Landover wasn’t an option. It had been too long and there was too much to cover. And then, lucky me, he began the Word and Void series. I missed it when the first book, Running with the Demon was released. Only when the second, A Knight of the Word came out did it reach my notice. Ignorantly, I grabbed that book first, on sale at an airport bookstore. You know the one. That bookstore you’re picturing at your airport? It was that one. As I started reading, I realized I was jumping in to the middle of an interesting story. So I put it down after reading enough to get me hooked and then found part one. By the time Angel Fire East was released, I was hooked deep. Modern, interesting fantasy? A rich, unique world? Unique protagonists? A compelling villain (Findo Gask is brilliant)? Yes. Please. You got me, Terry. Good on ‘ya.
But then, the REAL hook: Word/Void didn’t stand apart. Surprise! Brooks announces that this word is where Shannara starts. It’s the prequel. It’s all related, man! Maybe I would have known that if I’d read the other books, but as near as I can tell it was a shocker to fans old and new. So there I was, neck-deep in the lore now. More prequel stories would come, he said. Bridging the gap between one world and another. Jerk move, Terry. But damned if I don’t respect the hell out of it.
Alright, let’s do this…
So I jumped in, but insisted on doing it as chronological as I could. Instead of jumping straight to Sword, I started next with The First King. (Terry wasn’t going to tell me how to experience his story. It was my small act of defiance for his chicanery.) I started there, moved to the original trilogy, and followed along as best I could. Along the way, I would read the prequel stories he released, letting the world connect and bloom organically. I was a full-blown resident of The Four Lands. I had a home near Rainbow Lake, a vacation home in Leah. I had season tickets to the chaos of the Hadeshorn.
Now, I’ve criticized it before, so I can’t escape the simple facts of these stories. First off… Yeah, the original trilogy is sorta just a retelling of Fellowship of the Ring. Pretty sure it’s not a crime to wear your influences on your shoulder, though, so I can’t fault that. Also, I’ve never read Fellowship and don’t plan on it, so I’m less offended than most I’ve seen.
The bigger issue, and kinda the heart of my lament, is that over the course of these two dozen books, Brooks keeps telling the same story. The definition and musculature are different, but the bones are always the same. I won’t bore you with the structure. I’m sure you can piece them together, but (and this goes especially for anything written after Sword, chronologically story-wise) they all follow the same beats. By the time I got to Defenders of Shannara, I was completely going through the motions, reading out of habit. Nothing was changing. Maybe that’s why he announced that The Fall of Shannara was to be the end. He knew there wasn’t any more to be milked from this world. Arguably he did so a bit late. He probably could have done it, like, two trilogies ago and no one would have cared except his publisher.
However, here I am, excited to see how this story ends. Excited that Brooks is finally setting me free. Despite my criticisms, I still love our time together. As a published author now myself, I retroactively appreciate how he’s crafted memorable places and people so affectively over and over again. The Druids are compelling mediators in a crazy world, the Ellcrys is an interesting and heartbreaking part of the world lore, and Grianne Ohmsford is one of my favourite, diverse, pained, interesting characters in all of literature (and seeing as she keeps coming up, I suspect Brooks knows this, too). In the end, despite periodic boredom, I still kept coming back. I drop things pretty easily so that’s an accomplishment, really. He may follow a formula, but damned if he hasn’t mixed that formula to an addictive perfection. If nothing else, I’ll remember that the most I think. It’s an incredibly difficult and admirable quality in a writer. I could do a lot worse than finding a way to emulate that. Wear his influence on my shoulder.
Congratulations, Mr. Brooks. Thank you for taking us so deep into this world so successfully and for so long. I look forward to possibly considering your next work. Hey, I’m a flighty guy with his own worlds to craft. That’s about as good as it’s going to get from me, and it’s more than most other authors get. Cheers! Now let’s end this thing…
Aug 26th, 2020
So, since my last blog post in February (I know, I know, I suck at this. I’ll do better, I promise!) a lot has changed in the world. We all got stuck inside. We all got inundated with bad news over and over again. We all got sick of companies and organizations spewing false platitudes about how “we’re all in this together, and know that in these hard times, we are here for you”.
Was that last one just me? It may have been. I’m pretty cynical.
We also likely got sick and tired of people like me reminding us constantly that the world is a bit of a dumpster fire and we’ll get better. So let’s talk about escapism.
In this lockdown time, I’ve written very little. Not really a shock for anyone that knows me, but I’ve been focusing on the business of writing, and the behind the scenes stuff that’s been going on. There’s been some changes, good and bad, and I’ve been rolling with it.
However, I’ve also been busy with my family. Kids need to be entertained. My wife needs to be rescued from the kids who need to be entertained. We got a puppy! Life has been moving on and we’ve adapted as best we can.
So, what is the business of books like these days? Confusing. A few months ago I was told that Double Dragon Publishing, the publishers of my Catching Hell duology, would be closing up shop and migrating all of their works to someone else. Not the end of the world, since my books would still be available, but I wasn’t completely happy with the business model of the new owners.
Thankfully, in a move I never anticipated, the amazing Fluky Fiction swept back into my life and agreed to pick it up for a re-issue, which will come about early in 2021. The “Journey” with Catching Hell has never been, and will never be, easy. I see that now.
There’s been interviews and conversations about my newest book Between Conversations, which will be my first self-published release. Why self-publish? Well, for one thing I wanted to learn how. So far *knock on wood* it’s been pretty easy. Also, I figured no one was eagerly looking for a short story collection based in a world established already in a previous series of books by another publisher, which as of writing this isn’t even available since it lives in the strange limbo Amazon creates when something is currently unavailable. The writing world is weird. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.
In a final note, a massive shout out to Randy McCharles and his team that organize the yearly Calgary writer’s conference When Words Collide. They had to move to a fully virtual conference this year and they killed it. I missed seeing my friends and making new ones while we all learned how to become a little bit better and this thing, but what was done was amazing. And thankfully, nearly every panel and speech was recorded and will be available on YouTube. Check them out. I’m in there sometimes, but I’m never worth the price of admission.
Stay well, my friends. Be excellent to each other. Fill everyone’s cup with goodness whenever possible. Be a hero.
Feb 29th, 2020
Leap Year Birthday
Four years. That’s the amount of time I’ve been what I call an ‘active, professional’ writer. Today is the day. February 29th, 2016 was the day I decided that my book, that I’d written as nothing more than a way to keep myself busy in hard times, was worth getting out into the world. It’s the day I decided that I was no longer going to be just a guy that people said “this is really good, you should write a book!” about.
I was sick of it. So I did it. And here I am.
Some would call my successes laughable. Some would call them modest. Some would call them too much too fast. Some would call them amazing and the kind of thing they dream of. I know this because I have been told all of these things in the last four years. Numerous times, even.
All of our journeys are different. I had a course, I charted it, and I cannot be happier with where I have ended up. I have flown under my own flag, and I’ve waved it proudly. I’m not going to get into a self-congratulatory list of what I’ve accomplished. I have writer friends. I have writer enemies. I have something, anything, in my humble little brag shelf.
So here, four years into this, I sit humbled by what you have given me. My dream was accomplished (that of earning enough to buy my family a nice dinner as penance for putting up with me). Everything, EVERYTHING, from here on out is just gravy on the poutine.
The Anti-Author is as busy and motivated as ever. I have a number of upcoming appearances and announcements coming. 2020 is going to be a very busy year. Possibly the busiest I’ve had yet. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Onwards and upwards. I still love this world I never actually thought I’d be a part of, and yes, I still say I could never, and would never, do this for a living. There’s so much else out there in the world to do. But I promise you all this, whether you’re a writer, reader, or just a supporter: I will always treat this with the respect it deserves. I am a hobbyist, but hobbies can be as serious as the hardest work.
Thanks for your support! Stay classy, and whatever it means to you: be a hero.
May 1st, 2019
So my first foray into the world of comic expos and live book sales has come and gone, and by every possible standard I can’t help but call it a complete success! It was such an amazing experience to be out and about, with long days flying by and many turkey sandwiches eaten in haste.
I need to send a huge shout out the the unbelievable Suzy Vadori, who was gracious enough to share a table with me and guide me along into this crazy world. A fantastic author in her own right (check her out here), she was invaluable when it comes to helping me out and keeping the energy high in our little corner.
It was an incredible weekend. The number of people I got to meet and speak with was great. New faces looking for new adventures. Old friends wishing me well. Even with the exhaustion I still felt full and contented when all was said and done.
I watched Suzy and her finely-crafted speech on day 1, and rolled it into my own personal pitch by the start of Friday. I sold far more books than I expected, which is a testament to preparation and education I’d say. Some folks needed the long conversation, looking for me as the author to sell them on the stories I’ve told. Others were simply bibliophiles who were looking for a nice long chunk of epic fantasy, or a digestible bite of dark humour. I walked in with 4 full boxes to sell, and left with a little less than 1. I’d call that a smashing success.
Full credit to my wife, who was kind enough to look after the kidlets for a long weekend. Also to the new friends and old that made me feel welcome. There’s a community feeling to these Expo regulars, and no one cast me outside the circle.
And thanks to you if you stopped by, regardless if you bought something or not. Maybe you’re just here because you found my website at the top of a hastily passed off bookmark or business card. It was an honour and joy to meet you. Thanks for being a part of a really memorable weekend for me. I really hope to be back next year. Cheers!
April 9th, 2019
Hello folks. Long time no talk. Why is that? Where have I been? I wish the story I had to tell you was one of personal and professional triumphs and amazing adventures, but none of that would be completely true. The heart of the matter is that life gets in the way. A sorry thing for a would-be professional to admit, but a bad truth is better than a good lie.
First off I’m very proud to announce my first published short story, right back where the journey began with Fluky Fiction. ‘A Land Without Mirrors’ is a fantastic collection of fantasy and surrealism unlike any I’ve ever had a chance to read before, and I’m just lucky enough to join them with ‘Untitled Life’, a brief visit into the mind of a man who must face his mistakes, regardless of whether or not he’s learned from them. Click the picture below to find it on Amazon! It’s cheap! Throw these good people a buck, won’t you?
Also, stay tuned because soon I’ll have another announcement similar to this one. And by Similar, I mean pretty much the same, but nobody reads this so I’m safe putting this here!
I’ve also found a renewed sense of ‘putting myself out there’ and have agreed with a writer friend of mine, the amazing YA author Suzy Vadori, to join her table at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. For the first time ever I’ll actually be out there! With the people! I took a bit of nest egg to get some books printed and promotional materials made, and I had a whole lotta’ fear in doing that, too. I’ve never been in this for the money, and it’s a good thing, too. Still there’s something terrifyingly liberating about knowing what your next step is, regardless of what it cost you.
I really hope to see you there. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes and will update the blog as it happens. There will be pictures and stories for sure. Maybe you’ll be in one? I hope so, and I hope it’s a great one and that you’re not punching me in the face for my choice of hockey playoff fandom…
October 11th, 2018
Hello and howdy-do, people of the world. I’m back to give an update on the goings-on, so I hope you can forgive me for my Summer absence.
It was a busy few months, and not necessarily with writing stuff, though there is some announcements (more on that shortly). With me being who I am, and the philosophy I live with regarding writing (when you can, when you want to, no more, no less) it would make sense that sometimes I drop off on creating…well, anything actually. Lately I haven’t felt the drive, but I’m slowly clawing it back because I can’t go too long without the creative juices flowing.
So let’s talk new stuff! I’m fighting to get Catching Hell Part 2: Destination out to the world before the close of the year. To do that I still need to have a cover designed, but that’s about it. Editing is done thanks again to Fluky Fiction, and the layout is finished. Can I really complete publication on an epic scifi/fantasy duology in a single year? I’m sure as hell going to try!
Also, I’ve been lucky enough to have a short story Untitled Life picked up for Fluky Fiction’s upcoming reality-bending collection ‘A Land Without Mirrors’, where I’ll be in alongside some really talented authors I can’t wait to share shelf space with. That’s expected to drop in the first quarter of 2019, so I’m already starting the year off right! There were…issues…on my end in getting this out, but I’m glad it came together and they saw fit to include me.
Also, after waffling for a while, I’m looking forward to putting work out for consideration with the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association (IFWA) for their next Enigma Front collection. Will I be successful? Who knows, but I’m looking forward to trying. There are some amazing writers in that room at our monthly meeting, many of whom are decorated award winners. Just the chance to be considered alongside them will be a treat.
I’ll be the first to admit my motivation for the word making has been lacking. These new projects fire me up a bit, but after I get through them, what happens next? Not sure. If I get Catching Hell out in time, I’ll have no big projects in the wings for the first time in a while. Is that exciting or terrifying? Yes! I’ve got some vacation time coming up, where I hope to reflect a bit and get plans together for the next 6 months to a year, while also catching up on some reading I’ve been putting off. For a writer, I’m not a very good reader. Stephen King would be ashamed.
It’s a new day, my friends. There are stories to be told.
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!