Thursday, April 13, 2017

Springtime in Gatineau Hills Quebec

I'm going to take you through a brief travelogue for this post to welcome the season. Click the links to see the spots I reference. Come on, it'll be fun.

Spring is tweeting outside my office window and Easter means a visit to the sugar bush around here. (Ask Google to translate this page.)

My windows are open for the first time in weeks. The birds and sheep are making a racket. The snow is melted in the major spots, only hanging on in dirty clumps in the corners. We don't have a yard. We have a bloody forest and the deer have been coming right to the house in search of a hand-out. It's been a hard winter for them.

 My office faces the Gatineau Hills within the National Capital Region. I write crime fiction set in the wilderness places of Western Quebec. I'm more than a little conscious of the natural world and it infuses my writing.

My books sell really well in my area. Cottagers and locals love to read about murder when they're relaxing at the lake. It's a Canadian thing. (Yes, I know I've linked to Lac Bernard Cottage Rentals. I'm not trying to rent you a cottage. The pictures are pretty. Just look at them. Enjoy.)

My nearest village is Wakefield, Quebec, a happening creative hive. Theatre, music, art, festivals, fine-dining and wholesome food--as well as a river, green hills and really nice people. At this time of year, when the ice is off the waterways and the sun is beginning to be felt again, you'll find people standing around in parking lots talking about the winter like we've come through a siege.

This is before the bugs get here and then Spring is intolerable and we can't wait for the hot weather to kill off the bugs. And then we complain that it's too hot. (This actually happens.)

With the approach of Mother's Day (May 14) and the start of Cottage Season (May 22 - also known as Victoria Day), my thoughts naturally turn to marketing....

If you're a cottager, or live in the Ottawa Valley, or in Canada, and crave a helping of Canadian Crime Fiction to celebrate Canada's Sesquicentennial have I got a book (or three) for you! 

Iced Under, The Grey Lady and The River Bride are available at Kobo, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Apple iBooks for $6.99 CND (and Australia who are my best customers for some reason. Love you guys.)

Iced Under

The Grey Lady

The River Bride

Page-turning contemporary crime fiction that women love. Order it today in time for Mother's Day and then leave her alone to read while you make dinner. Ahhh.....bliss.

Iced Under Print

The Grey Lady Print

The River Bride Print

Monday, January 2, 2017

Huffington Post and the woefully uninformed writer

I live near Wakefield, Quebec, a small village in which independent artists create music, poetry, theatre, textiles, glasswork, woodwork, photography and more. Everything from the food we eat to the culture we consume comes from the place we live. Our seniors are anything but "elderly" and our way of life is DIY if all else fails. We are not conservative. Though we value tradition, we respect differing points-of-view and choices.

Or so I thought.

A traditionally published author in Wakefield has written an article for Huffington Post entitled Self-Publishing: An Insult to the Written Word. 

Laurie Gough is a fine travel writer; I have two of her books and a copy of her latest release on my shelf. But she does not know anything about self-publishing and to the best of my knowledge (based on this article) she made no attempt to inform herself before she posted her opinion piece. She is aware I am a self-published author. I cheerfully insult the written word every morning from 7 am and 12 noon.

Laurie makes an apology of sorts in the comments trail in which she more or less throws Canada under the bus saying self-publishing isn't as big up here. That doesn't fly with the Canadian authors on KBoards Writers' Cafe. (Founded by a Canadian author who passed away last year. Seriously, Laurie. Google is your friend.) 

HuffPo article take down of self-pubbers destroyed in comments

I drop into the Cafe every morning with my cup of coffee to wake my brain up and get started on the day. I usually don't read threads like the one above because, meh, I've heard it all before. I made $1400 in 20 years of traditional publishing and $10,000 in 2 years of self-publishing so I can't be bullied into thinking less of my work. For whatever reason, I opened the thread and Laurie's name came up. Talk about surreal. And then I read the piece and got a stomach ache.

I can accept that Laurie was expressing her personal opinion. What I can't accept is the utter lack of thought, research or fact-checking that went into forming her opinion before she hit "publish." She made no effort to challenge her beliefs and consequently she has no idea how to defend them.

We've all fallen victim to the sloppy journalism of online "news" so I won't go down that rabbit hole of dissecting the misquoted Margaret Atwood, the lazy analogies or the hyperbole. The over 700 comments do a better job of correcting the errors and misinformation.

Two authors address the fundamental flaws in Laurie's thinking better than I can.

It's Joe Hunt

Monster Hunter Nation

The interesting silver lining that I got out of this as I head into 2017 was the sense that I am part of something bigger. The traditional publishing system is far from obsolete and has a lot to offer society and writers. But where it can't serve, self-publishing is a viable alternative.

It is also work, but that's what's cool about it. I had no appreciation for what editors, publishers and agents were talking about in terms of marketability until I tried to sell my own books. I do now and that's the best thing about DIY--one is forced to be humble enough to learn.

A lesson I hope Laurie Gough gets out of all of this.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Google Love

Google. I loved you when you were just a baby search engine and everyone was hot for Yahoo and its ilk. I remember when Yahoo was king and Ask Jeeves and how they clogged up the search with advertisements and confusion. I took one look at Google's clean, readable pages and I had found my Web Search soul mate.

Then came Gmail and Blogger and our love deepened. Now there is Google Play where I've listed my books and sales are anemic but I'm not worried. We've been down this road before, haven't we, Google? We'll get there.

Now my kid who grew up only knowing the great Google is working on a Google-related product. Heck, yes, I'm proud. Check out this YouTube video of Salman Sajun Productions working on a project for a cool Google phone case.

It's neat to see how it all comes together.

And here is the making of the video:

Google, thank you for all the good years and here's to many more. Stay the course and all will be well.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

President Trump.

So does this mean the US electoral system isn't corrupt...?

Just trying to understand here.

All I heard every freaking day from Donald Trump during the campaign was that the US system for collecting votes and counting votes was "fixed", "rigged" -- completely untrustworthy, and heads were gonna roll if The Donald lost.

Well, The Donald won. So can I assume that the US President-elect was not lying and the electoral system that put him in office is "fixed", "rigged" and he didn't win fair and square?

Or is the system fine and The Donald is a liar. Did the US President-elect lie to the American people?

Which is it? Because it's one or the other.

Another quick question: if The Donald can lie about the US electoral system, can he be trusted to tell the truth when he takes the Oath of Office?

Hmm. A leopard does not change his spots as my mother used to say.

Read a book. Blow stuff up in your mind. This too shall pass.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Books2Read Universal Link and the Independent Publisher

I am an independent publisher. I also write but because I manage four pen names, one imprint, two blogs and forty titles, I am considered an independent publisher. I use Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing and Draft2Digital to get the titles into the world. I use CreateSpace for printing and print distribution. After twenty years of trying to make a living at writing, these service providers have made it possible for me to actually make a living at writing. Whoo hoo!

You'll notice I've changed the sales links to the titles on this blog from individual ebook retailers to one link per title: Books2Read Universal Link. ( ) 

This amazing little tool was developed by Draft2Digital for authors and book-buyers to streamline the shopping process. Instead of half-a-dozen links (that I may or may not get right) I only have to provide one. 

1) The book-buyer clicks on the link and is taken to a landing page for that book where all the stores that carry the book are listed with logos readily identifying each  store. Cool!

2) Book-buyer chooses store he or she likes, clicks and boom--there you are on the product page. Read the blurb, mull over the price and buy. Swell! 

3) The buyer is prompted to request the same store for future purchases. Nice!

I like stuff to be as uncomplicated as possible. Shopping online is very difficult for me so anything like this helps cut out the clutter and I don't feel pushed or hassled into looking at a bunch of stuff I don't want.

Draft2Digital did not charge me as a publisher for this new tool. These savvy ebook distributors are quietly remapping the publishing industry one book sale at a time.

Smashwords is another forward-thinking distributor that also has a hopping book store. They sell in all formats, retailer direct, give an outstanding royalty to the author, host author pages, giveaways and work with libraries to promote independent titles. They are super international and have a free section to sample new authors. No pop-ups or advertising or spam emails--just books in all genres at great prices.

Check them out:   Smashwords Book Store
Hey! Happy Reading!

Image result for books2read

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Nothing scary in my neck of the woods, but fellow Canadian indie author, Steve Vernon has a Night Time Podcast up: 

Haunted Halifax with Steve Vernon

Check it out tonight while you're handing out Mars Bars.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Donald Trump....

Men died to keep the democratic process in your country alive and well so Americans could live free.

This was not a cheap gift.

They died. They literally gave their lives for every vote that is cast in your country. Think about that for a minute. I know I do. I think about it every time I cast a vote in my country. I'm a freaking coward. I could not do what those young men did in WWI or WWII.

Remembrance Day is November 11, three days after the election in your nation. Are you really going to challenge the outcome of a democratic election when democratic nations all over the world are honouring the sacrifice made by their soldiers?

Democracy is messy, sometimes uncomfortable, often expensive and does not always work out the way we hope. Seriously. I'm a Canadian and I have no dog in this fight. But in defense of democracy, I have to speak up, even if it's just on this blog.

Just don't, man. If you lose, shake hands and move on. Respect the sacrifice others made to give you the freedom to do and say as you please. It is a favourite phrase of yours that you speak your mind. Well, buddy, a man much younger than you died to give you that privilege.

Suck it up. Be a man. And lose with grace.