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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.




Sites associated with this blog:




My Amazon book page



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text 2017-07-20 07:56
East Van Saturday Night - submissions, round two


East Van Saturday - four short stories and a novella, has just been sent out to three more Canadian publishers.


The process began in November of last year when I decided that self-publishing another work (currently I've self-published eight novels and two plays) wasn't going to achieve what I wanted.


What do I want?

Critical, serious consideration for my writing and you're not likely going to receive that as an self-published author.


Why? Because it's now dead easy to self-publish and guess what, everybody's doing it. In 2015 alone, 625,327 ISBN numbers were issued for individual indie books.


In the past six months I've submitted to five publishers. If you think sending out submissions is easy, well, I guess it depends on what you're comparing it to.



- publishers are obsessively specific about how your manuscript should be presented: what font style, what type size, margin widths, headers, etc.

- part of the submission package is to explain why you think your work is a good fit for them,

- you must provide details on how you're prepared to market your book,

- in most cases they will not accept simultaneous or multiple submissions,

- they won't let you know they received your submission,

- you are under no circumstances allowed to contact them in any way,

- they won't let you know if they reject your work, they'll just shred it, using "a secure process".


Okay, so it's not that difficult, it's just extremely annoying to have to deal with their arrogance - and that's without ever having the opportunity to speak with any of them.


To make it even more galling, in 2014-15 these guys (and gals) received $30 million dollars in Canadian government subsidies - that's my tax money.


And what exactly do they do for this money now that all the services: editing, cover design, production, marketing and distribution can be done by the author or purchased from experts relatively inexpensively?


One thing.


They're the gatekeepers to literary acceptance. If you're an indie author you're a joke, if your traditionally published you're accepted by the literati.


Not that I'll make any more money. Emerging authors are lucky to receive a fifteen percent royalty on traditionally published books.

So here we go again.


East Van Saturday Night - four short stories and a novella, are to some degree autobiographical and impart to the reader why you can take the boy out of East Van, but you'll never take East Van out of the boy.

Though the stories are all set in East Vancouver (with the exception of Hitchhike, which is a cross Canada misadventure during the "summer of love"), the themes have universal appeal and the music, the fashions and the culture are distinctly familiar to "boomers".


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.


Amazon Author Page   https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU



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review 2017-05-31 16:59
Saturday Requiem - Nicci French  
Saturday Requiem - Nicci French

Copy on its way! can't wait! One of the best writing duos of all time.


I don't think of myself as being a fan of series in general, because so many series that I started out loving became unreadable at some point. Maybe there will be a let down somewhere in the future, or maybe, as with Terry Pratchett, the books will just keep getting better. Fingers crossed.

Frieda is in trouble with powers that be, because she's such a maverick, but she also has more powerful powers that be, which are vague, and mysterious, and appreciate a clever woman. There's her whole extended family of people who mostly aren't related to her, and her cat, and her fire, and her walking. The mystery was fine, although that really isn't the point any more. Mostly now Freida has to deal with her own sort of celebrity, which is horrible for someone who never sought the limelight. And there's this other problem that won't go away...

At this point I wouldn't mind at all if the authors dropped the mystery plot convention altogether. As a means of addressing a topic it is fine, but they could just use a patient. I admit that I love seeing social injustice (and crime) being fought, even if Frieda didn't win.

Advance copy, yay!

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review 2016-10-28 03:12
The View from Saturday
The View from Saturday - E.L. Konigsburg

I read The View from Saturday when I was in elementary school. I don't remember much about the content of the book itself, I only remember it being a great read. I remember being so interested in the book I hated when we had to stop reading it. We read the book as a whole group where every student had a copy. My mom was my teacher at the time and she had us read this book to help us with point of view. I think this book could be used for grade 4-6. It has an amazing way to show the different point of views from others. Each chapter was based off another character's view of how the story is unraveling. I remember loving the book and I would love to be able to reread it one day when I have the chance. 

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review 2016-09-05 06:07
The Tale of the Fourth Stranger by Anthony Coburn
The Saturday Evening Post Stories 1959 - Saturday Evening Post

For Creepy Crawlies


Real life frequently gives me the creeps, and I do not like horror films, but fiction rarely affects me.  I'll be using two examples that did freak me out for our Halloween Bingo.  This is one of them.


Anthony Coburn's novelette was published in the 4 April 1959 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, one of several large, illustrated weekly magazines to which my parents subscribed.  I was ten and a half years old at the time.  I had not yet begun to write adult fiction.  The illustration for the story attracted my attention -- I have searched but can't find it online -- and I began reading.  The tale captured me completely, frightened me but mesmerized me.  More than likely I read it again in the next few weeks, but my mother was not one to keep magazines piled up for any length of time, so it ended up in the trash, and almost forgotten.


It might have been completely forgotten except that the ending was too good, too clever, too perfect.  I couldn't forget the ending.


A few years later, when I was in high school, I did some searching at the public library.  I didn't remember the title or the author or even what magazine it had been published in, so the usual reference sources, like the big green Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature indexes, were of little use.  Somehow or other, however, I found it as a reprint in an annual collection.  I'm pretty sure I reread it at that time, although there's a possibility the library didn't have that particular anthology and I didn't read it, for I remember nothing of my reaction if I did.  The one thing I took away from the research was the title.  I was not going to forget the title.


Monster stories aren't really my thing, so I'm not sure why this one captured my enthusiasm and held it for so very long.  But it did.  Several years ago -- it looks from my records like 2010 -- I purchased a copy of that annual collection from Amazon and reread The Tale of the Fourth Stranger.


It proved to be both slightly disappointing and yet as satisfying as ever.  And when the Booklikes 2016 Halloween Bingo was announced, I knew right away a rereading for the Creepy Crawlie square was in order.


The unnamed hero is a self-described rather dissolute young man who hangs around the beach of his little Australian town, drinks and swaps stories with the other men, and makes a little money here and there selling his artwork.  He is fascinated by their tales of a great monster and the fabulous treasure it guards somewhere out to sea not far from the shore.  With the innocence and bravery and faith of youth, he sets out to slay the monster and win the treasure.


When he returns from his adventure, he learns he has been played false by his former friends.  His joy and triumph turn to anger and contempt, but he is not left with bitterness or without hope.


And the ending is still as fabulous as when I read it the first time.


In November 2014, just a few days before I set out on a perilous adventure of my own, I wrote a blog post about The Tale of the Fourth Stranger, one of my by now probably familiar disavowals of a belief in omens and other superstitious claptrap.  And yet. . . . and yet. . . .this is the season for superstitions and omens.


Perhaps the moral of the tale is not just the destructive power of cynicism, but that it is all around us, and it can so easily kill our dreams.  Perhaps the real treasure is the one we hold in our imagination.






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