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text 2018-01-04 07:58
My 2017 writing year in review

This is a review of my writing for 2017. You couldn't call it a success, nor could you call it a failure since something would have had to have been achieved in the first place. Get what I'm saying? If you've never been up how can you be down?

 

If you don't, well, that's okay since I write this for myself to put the previous year in perspective.

 

Last year I decided to see what it would be like to take part in public readings and conduct writing seminars. The idea was to raise my profile while at the same time sell my books at these events.

 

It didn't take much to get booked for both, but the experience was not very satisfying, akin to pitching from behind a table you've rented at a flea market. After my initial experiences I didn't look for more opportunities. Sales just aren't that important to me.

 

The only thing I self-published was a novella, The Rocker and the Bird Girl. It began as an experiment on Inkitt to see if a shallow story about a rock star and a young woman who ran a bird sanctuary would be popular with the juvenile readers who populate that site. Unfortunately, or fortunately - I'm not sure which, I was soon having so much fun with this story and became so enamored with my characters (though very few Inkitt followers did) I decided to pull it from that site and self-publish it.

 

Novellas for "New Adults" (protagonist between eighteen and thirty) seem to be trendy likely due to the diminishing attention span of this age group and the fact they're read on cellphones during commutes. Quite unexpectedly I discovered I had a lot of story ideas for this heroine and I could easily expand it into a series. Series, according to the "experts" sell better than stand-alones so what the hell, nothing else is working.

 

Despite a thorough launch for The Rocker and the Bird: listed as a pre-order on Smashwords three weeks in advance of publishing, email ARC copies to my Advance Reading Team, giveaways on Booklikes and Library Thing, two weeks free on Smashwords, free with coupon on my website, and promoted unabashedly on my social media accounts  - it so far has had two reviews and no sales.

 

Undeterred, the second in The Mattie Saunders Series, Cold Blooded, is set to be self-published in March of this year. Here's the blurb:

 

"When a suspicious death at the The Reptile Refuge closes it down, Mattie receives a desperate call from Liz, an old friend from high school, asking if it's possible to temporarily board some reptiles at Saunders Bird Sanctuary. Mattie's not concerned with the circumstances and sees it as an opportunity to reconnect with Liz as well as help some animals in distress.

Unwittingly, Mattie's drawn into a dark intrigue and soon discovers it's not just the displaced inhabitants of The Reptile Refuge that are cold blooded."

 

Still determined to break into traditional publishing I spent the balance of last year polishing the manuscript of East Van Saturday Night - four short stories and a novella and submitting it to Canadian publishers. The list of rejections continues to increase from those publishers gracious enough to send me one.

 

What's ahead?

 

This year, as mentioned, the second in my series will be self-published, the third is already outlined (okay, only in my head, but it's only January 4th) and a first draft will be written, plus I'll continue to work on another full length novel with the working title, The Triumvirate - three exceptional people, one insurmountable challenge. I've already stopped submitting East Van Saturday Night and, once the disappointment abates somewhat will take another look at the entire project.

 

Promotions of my backlist are also a consideration for 2018.

 

Book sales from all sources in 2017 amounted to $174.44. Expenses including book proofs, book orders and postage totaled $253.88. You can draw your own conclusions.

 

Oddly enough I'm optimistic. Why not?

 

Besides, writing for me is its own reward - really.

 

Stand calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

30

 

Sites associated with this blog:

https://www.inkitt.com

https://www.smashwords.com

 

My Amazon book page

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

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text 2017-12-23 09:22
2017: My Reading Year in Review

I’ve been reading a ton of fiction in 2017, which has been so good for the soul and also gave me the little kick I needed to start writing some fiction of my own once again. 2017 neatly encapsulates why I believe we need critics. And never more so than now when any Indie Author can epublish any old book he or she's written. Paradoxically, given all the web-shouting about evil traditional publishers who wilfully smother the voices of debut authors, self-publishing has made good new authors harder to find. The wheat:chaff ratio is now fantastically asymmetric. I've read enough to already have a to-be-read list that I will never get through in my lifetime. I have neither the time nor a pair of rubber gloves strong enough to sift through the all the world's self-epublished rubbish to find a pearl that fell into the bin. So if I am to hear about fine debut voices and books, I need well-read critics (praise be some of my fellow Booklikes critics) to do some work for me.

 

If you're into this sort of thing, read on.

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review 2017-12-10 05:52
Who am I? : "A Scanner Darkly" by Philip K. Dick
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick

I'm a big Pynchon fan, too, so don't get me wrong here, but it seems to me like the main difference between Dick's writing style and Pynchon's--or at least, the difference that mostly accounts for Dick being treated as a "pulp" author with some interesting ideas whereas Pynchon is considered a major "literary" figure--is simply that Dick tends to write in crisp, straightforward sentences that just directly say what he means to say, whereas Pynchon's writing is (in)famously dense with allusion and rambling esoteric figurative expressions to the point where it can be an intellectual exercise in its own right just trying to figure out what the hell Pynchon is trying to say.

 

All of which makes major Dick novels like “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” or “Radio Free Albemuth” sort of resemble, IMHO, what “Gravity's Rainbow” might have looked like if Pynchon had been working with editors who expected him to actually keep tight deadlines.

 

I think Dick was really gifted as a wry satirist, too, and this is something I think he's often under-appreciated for. Probably my favourite single episode in all of Dick's stories I've ever read--and I was quite overjoyed to see this faithfully recreated in the film adaptation--is still the "suicide" sequence from “A Scanner Darkly”. In short, I don't think Dick was ever bad at writing--he just doesn't seem to have had any real interest in the kind of writing that people like James Joyce or William Burroughs (or Pynchon, for whom to my mind it seems that both Joyce and Burroughs were major stylistic influences) were famous for.

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

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review 2017-11-30 16:40
Review: Dark & Stormy
Dark & Stormy - J. Mercer

Our story starts out simple enough, a new girl in town meets cute hometown guy and he falls head over heels instantly. The amount of discussion regarding their lust, but respectful lust, was a bit excessive for my tastes. I understand new relationships are exciting and full of positive emotions, I just feel like it was a bit of instalove and an extraordinary amount of discussion about the feel of each others skin and trying to control their lust for each other.

The story moves forward eventually and we get into the drama of the story. Friends and exes interfering, a mysterious past that was never discussed, you get the idea. I actually really loved Savannah as a character. She was feisty and determined and I feel like every small town has a Savannah in it. Faryn and Kai were an interesting match, but his overprotective nature was never really addressed.

All in all, not my favorite story I've read lately but certainly had some interesting characters and a very small town feel which I enjoyed. I wasn't so shocked by the twist at the end because there was some foreshadowing for it, but it was as good finish to the story.

 

TW: Mental health issues/suicide 

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review 2017-11-02 19:37
Review: A Wanted Man
A Wanted Man - Robert B. Parker

Truth be told, this book was a bit jumbled at first. We jump right into Ben's life and there's very little explanation. I would have preferred a little introduction but we do get a bit of history and context as the book progresses. Needless to say, there is some graphic violence discussed, so be wary of that.

By the middle of the book I was really enjoying it. I did figure out one of the plot twists pretty early on, but that didn't particularly deter from the story. There was, in my humble opinion, a bit too much discussion of the various settings Ben encounters. While I do enjoy knowing the world the characters are experiencing (especially since I've never been there), there was just a lot of unnecessary inclusions that made the story drag a bit at times.

However, I really enjoyed Ben as a character and the ending was an interesting outcome. Ben is a vigilante and lives by his own set of rules, which aren't clear at the beginning of the story. I found myself waiting to see what his next move might be, and I was consistently surprised. I'm definitely interested to read his next adventure.

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