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text 2015-12-27 05:02
My 2015 writing year in review

This is my 2015 writing year in review.


You may want to read this for the following reasons:

- to see what I've tried in an attempt to promote my novels.

- to feel better about yourself because there's someone less successful than you are.


January 2015

- I self-published FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend, as both an e-book on Smashwords and as an e-book and paperback on Amazon. I promoted the release on my website, blog, Twitter and sent about 200 personal emails to people who had expressed an interest in my work.

- My publisher released the paperback version of NOT WONDER MORE - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.


March 2015

- I launched my video book review channel, Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Book Reviews on YouTube. These are reviews free from conflict of interest - not paid for, not swapped, not familiar in anyway. On it I review new work by self-published authors. Reviews are linked to Twitter and cover art is posted on my Pin Interest Page.


July 2015

- I began negotiating the release of two of my novels, Spirit Bear and Eagleridge Bluffs from my publisher as the contract had expired.



- I re-issued both these books on Smashwords as e-books and as e-books and paperbacks on Amazon independently and under slightly different titles: SAVING SPIRIT BEAR and LOVING THE TERRORIST - Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs. Both were re-issued that month as paperbacks and the e-books were re-issued as pre-orders. Saving Spirit Bear was out two months, and Loving the Terrorist out three. Both were offered at a special pre-order price of 99¢ as opposed to $3.99.

These re-issues were promoted on my blog, website, Twitter, BookLikes, Promocave, and about 200 personal emails were sent to people who have expressed an interest in my work.



- I entered my new novel, The Widower, into the Kindle Scout promotion. This was also promoted on my blog, website, Twitter, BookLikes, Promocave, and about 200 personal emails were sent to people who have expressed an interest in my work.



- In an ongoing effort to produce clean and uncontaminated e-books I'm learning to purge corrupt formatting from my manuscripts with the help of Mark and his team at Smashwords. This is a result of reading so many poorly formatted books published by indie authors. I don't want my readers to get as exasperated as I do.


The first couple of times are frustrating but with a little (okay, a lot) of patience you too can learn to do this. You owe it to your books and your readers. Download a free copy of Smashwords Sytle Guide by Mark Coker at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52


- I decided to try a Goodreads Giveaway. Until January 8, 2016, you can enter to win two paperback copies of both Saving Spirit Bear and Loving the Terrorist. Here are the links:



- The Widower has been re-named ABANDONED DREAMS and is now available on Smashwords and Amazon as a pre-order e-book, especially priced at 99¢ until it’s release March 6, 2016. Here’s the link:



- I’m also giving away 100 e-books of The BIG PICTURE – A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic on LibraryThing. You can enter until January 26, 2016 at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0191B3XDE?*Version*=1&*entries*=0


- In addition, I've written 35 blogs (36 counting this one) and 52 book reviews.


What do I have to show for all the above?


- Royalties of $15.13 (and before you get all excited that's Canadian, equivalent to 73¢ US)

- Blog followers 57, up maybe 5 this year

- BookLikes followers 288, up maybe 50 this year (friendly bunch)

- Promocave friends 6. All new and I don't know where they came from since I don't follow or friend anyone - though I do respond to comments.


I think you can safely say that nothing I've attempted has worked. Does that mean all these things - blogging, tweeting, networking, having a platform, pre-ordering, contests, voodoo (is that politically incorrect?) won't work for you?


Probably, but not necessarily.


So, how do I feel about the past year?


Surprisingly, good.


The key, at least for me is to love what you do and have no expectations. And take satisfaction from small things like all my five of my novels now being available to borrow from the Vancouver Public Library, plus a couple (and I do mean two) absolutely glowing (blush) reviews that were unsolicited, came out of nowhere, written by perfect (yes, to me you're perfect) strangers.


Look at it this way, in 2016 there's nowhere to go but up.


You think?


Stay calm. Be brave. Watch for the signs.






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review 2015-03-12 00:42
Saving Grapes-Fun and clever
Saving Grapes - J.T. Lundy

Everyone needs a good laugh now and then and you will find that in this book.  I had a fun time with it!  Along the lines of a contemporary Wodehouse, it is just a really enjoyable read.

Jason Barnes is a perennial screw-up. When his aunt dies and leaves him a French vineyard, he has a problem.  He can only inherit it if he isn't in trouble with the law, which his ex-stepbrother makes sure he is.  It turns into a mad romp in the French vineyards with nuns and beautiful French women and lawyers in disguise.  I won't recount the plot here, you can see that above.

This is a comic novel with a lot of heart.  It's clever and has a few unexpected twists.  The characters are fun and likeable.  The writing is excellent. You feel yourself in the hands of a very talented wordsmith.  Very fun!

I received this from the Librarything Early Readers program in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2015-03-03 18:28
Whisper Lake-Not really sure what to make of this
Whisper Lake - James Melzer

Ok, so I'm assuming that the author wrote this as a joke or maybe to win a bet.  I'm really hoping this wasn't meant as a serious writing endeavor.  The blurb says "In the tradition of 80’s slasher films and old school horror." Well yes, but not in a good way.  Not in a way that says "Hey, let's all laugh together at the stupid teenagers in the lakeside cabin being killed by a psycho." More in a way that says, "I want to be clever but I'm coming off incompetent." 

Basic plot, teenagers who are into alcohol and pot go to the lake to clean up their grandmother's cabin so it can be sold.  While there they plan to do everything they shouldn't do and so a madman kills them.  I don't think I spoiled anyone with that synopsis.  I'm just going to quote a few lines and then I'll let this one go.

"watching her friend Sarah die was enough of a shock to bring her back to reality and say, 'Hey, I better do something or else I'm going to end up like her.'"

"Yeah, her boyfriend had just been murdered and that was hard to deal with, but for crying out loud they were all fighting for their lives now."

"His entire face looked like melted cheese clinging to a piece of bread, with breaks in the skin that made him think of pepperoni pizza."

Ok, enough.  I'm going with the idea that this was written as a joke.

This was given to me by the author in exchange for a review through the librarything member giveaway. 

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review 2015-01-22 22:58
Beethoven's Tenth-A really fun quick read
Beethoven's Tenth (Rapid Reads) - Brian Harvey

This is a quick read that deserves the title "Rapid Reads."  It's length doesn't detract from the pleasure of reading it, however, you just get the enjoyment in a quick little bite.  

This is the second book from this line that I've gotten so I looked at the publisher's website and it says this line was developed for adult ESL students, reluctant readers and adults who struggle with literacy.  I really like that!  I think this is the perfect kind of book to get an adult with literacy issues interested in reading.  While the language may not be challenging, the plot line and characterizations would not be insulting to adult learners.  I think there's a real place in the book world for this idea. Anything that gets more adults reading is a good idea to me.

Frank Ryan, a piano tuner by day and a jazz pianist by night, is working for one of his favorite elderly clients when instead of paying him in cash she pays him with an old manuscript.  It's not what he wants but there seems to be no choice so he takes and it and, surprise!  It's Beethoven's lost Tenth Symphony.  Obviously other people are going to want this thing and come after Frank with a vengeance.  This world of crime and violence is not what he's use to but he manages it pretty well and I found it pretty entertaining. Frank is a really fun character with an interesting personality, fun and engaging.  I would have given it 4 stars but the ending was a bit predictable for me so I gave it 3 1/2.

This would take about an hour to read if you were uninterrupted and my first thought, before I knew why this line was written this way,  was "Why would I want to read such a short book?"  I like books I can lose myself in for hours and days.  But I've decided what a really good use for this type of book would be.  I'm going to put it on the night stand in my guest room.  All my guests are readers and they all love a good mystery.  This would be the perfect thing to read if you found yourself somewhere and forgotten to bring a book or had finished what you brought.  It's light, it's quick, it's entertaining and I would be quite willing to read more about Frank Ryan.

I received this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2015-01-10 15:59
Night Heron-Enjoyable spy vs. spy
Night Heron - Adam Brookes

I love a good spy vs spy novel and I’ve been a huge fan of writers such as Robert Ludlum. Night Heron is in this same vein. I found it quite enjoyable.


It begins with a Chinese political prisoner, Peanut, breaking out of the work camp where he’s been confined for 20 years and heading to Beijing. He was an informant for the British government back in the day and he would like to resume that relationship. It’s Peanut versus the Chinese intelligence community.


As Peanut tries to reconstruct his life after being imprisoned for so long, he sets in motion events that get the intelligence agencies in Britain, the United States and China in an uproar. I love this part of espionage novels. I don’t know if what is portrayed is at all realistic but it’s fun to see the behind the scenes running of an operation.


This definitely has a Robert Ludlum-esque feel, the difference being the setting. The cold war era novels of Ludlum felt more familiar because they were set in Europe. This has a more exotic feel, being set in China. Peanut is moving in the really low parts of society so it feels grungy and gritty. It has a lot of atmosphere.


I didn’t have any emotional attachment to Peanut. I didn’t care whether he got caught or not but I did have an emotional attachment to the British journalist he was working with and the journalist’s friends so that was kind of interesting to realize. Peanut just wasn’t a sympathetic character but others in the story were.


I listened to the audiobook version of this and the narrator did a good job with the Chinese dialects.


I received this book in the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program in return for an honest review.

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