Category Archives: Advice

Working Title

I’ve been through several titles for my upcoming book now, and nothing seems to quite have the right feel.  Now, an unpublished book doesn’t need to have those details figured out, so why does it matter?  Is it really important for me to have a title I like right now?  I’m not selling yet, so it’s kind of an unnecessary obsession for me.
This is a problem that I’m sure other writers have; we want everything to be perfect before we’re even ready to submit.  First drafts are no big deal add far as details go, add it doesn’t matter until the draft is actually done.  So why seat the small stuff?
It’s an easy trap to get caught up in,  wondering whether we should self-publish or traditionally publish, and looking into all the details for both options.  This obsession had stolen valuable writing time from me, as I’ve looked into all of these fine details without first having a book to actually sell.
I’m beating myself up a bit over this, as I see myself lagging way behind in my goals. I almost wonder if this is the kind of thing that holds up certain popular series for several years.  (I’m thinking of one in particular as I write this, but I’m not saying who, as he might kill off my favorite character in retaliation.)
This is the idea of the working title: Don’t worry about what you’re going to call it until you’re ready to stay marketing the particular book.  At this time, as I write,  I only need a title from which I can work.  For that matter, I could simply call it “Work in Progress”.
If love to hear what you have to say, dear reader.
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Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Advice, Rants, Update


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Short Stories

It seems that the short story is back in style, at least for writers.  Every time I look at my Twitter feed I am bombarded with posts about the various short stories that people have written, and I’m just as guilty.  Why not?  Short stories are fun to write, quick to read, and can accumulate quickly.  All said, it seems like a great idea.  Of course, this is the writer in me speaking.  However, there are some distinct advantages to writing a short story or five.

1) Short stories can tie into larger works.

I’ve been enjoying The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  These stories are not only fun to read, but they also work to build up the characters first introduced in A Study in Scarlet.  They were also written in a time when there was big money in short fiction.  These days it isn’t as common to see such stories, though they do seem to be making a comeback thanks to the eBook.  For examples,  look up John Jackson Miller’s Lost Tribe of the Sith series of short stories, or Lindsay Buroker’s Shaped Over Innocence, which ties into her Emperor’s Edge series.

Another consideration: Even if your short story is never published, you can use it to gain some insight into the world that you’ve created.

2) Short stories are a cure for writers block.

You may have read my short story, The Immortal. If you haven’t, look for it at your favourite eBook retailer or download it at Smashwords. That particular project was a distraction from a larger work that I’m currently working on. I was suffering from a bad case of writers block, and decided to try writing something else to get the creative juices flowing. It worked. Add it turns out, my writers block was nothing more than intimidation related to writing a novel. A smaller project can help alleviate that intimidation.

3) Short stories make for some nice, light reading before bed.

Do I need to build on this? If you read before bed, short stories are great because one can finish the whole story before turning out the bedside lamp. Of course, this isn’t for everyone. Some of you may prefer to read a chapter or two from a medical thriller or fantasy adventure. On the other hand, if a short story is for you, you may have a collection of them on your night table already.

4) There’s no better way to test an author.

Authors and readers alike need to give this some thought. Books, even eBooks, can be expensive. You may not want to spend between $10-$20 on an author that you don’t know. Then there’s the investment in time. A cheap or free short story can solve this issue. I can think of a few books I would not have read of I had read some sort stories from those authors. For the sake of professionalism I won’t mention names, but I have a never-read-again list of authors, add I suspect most do. (In fairness, everyone has their own preferences, and the authors I dislike may be some of your favourites.)

Short stories may not be the master works that everybody wants, but they do serve an important role.


Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Advice, Rants


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Writing in Transit

If you’re like me, you spend lots of time on public transit.  (If you don’t, then please disregarid this post.)  This means that you have time that’s not taken up with other things like driving.  Many people use this time to read; a practice of which I wholeheartedly approve.  (After all, where would the modern author be if people didn’t read?). You (and I), oh writer, may do the same.  On the other hand, you may choose, instead, to write.  “How?” you may ask.  Let me answer with a question: Do you own any kind of portable computer?  Chances are that you do.
Most of us have laptops and/or tablet computers. Just about all of us own smart phones.  All of these can be equipped with a word processor.  (I use Open Office on my laptop and Kingsoft Office on my smart phone.  Both are free.)  That means that as long as I have access to either my laptop or my phone I can write.  Since I never leave home without my phone, I can write anytime I’m not otherwise engaged, such as commuting on the bus. 
Maybe you don’t take transit.  It’s likely that you drive.  Do you have an hour lunch?  That’s a great time to write.  Think about it.  What time works for you?

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Posted by on October 13, 2012 in Advice, Resources


Being Your Own Publisher

There are many so-called self-publishing companies out there, each of them offering many of the same services from printing on demand, editing services, cover design, and even reviews.  All of these services are thing which the self publisher may need, though they never have to buy the services from the same source (though I’m sure it’s quite convenient). There is, however, one service that takes the “self” out of “self-publishing”; ISBN assignment.
Let’s face facts; no self-publisher prints his or her own book. They will go to “vanity” publishers or POD companies to print for them. This is normal in today’s world of outsourced jobs. Even the biggest corporations are paying other companies to manufacture their goods. Just look at Apple. Their products are all manufactured by an outside company. Still, the product belongs to Apple, and is registered by Apple.
Many authors seem to think that they are publishing themselves, yet their books are registered as being published by a company like Lulu or Createspace. These companies are the publishers. So how can an author become his or her own publisher? Simple. Buy your own ISBN. I say buy, though in some countries one may obtain an ISBN for free. This is the case in Canada, where I live. In the United States they can be purchased from Bowker. Other countries set their own rules for obtaining an ISBN, but they are generally available to anyone. Given this reality, it’s much easier to become one’s own publisher than anybody really knows. Yet the self-publishing companies persist in offering this “service”. Some even insist that authors use the company’s ISBN rather than their own. Think hard about that if you want to be truly self-published.

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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Advice, Self Publishing


First Publication – The Immortal

ImageI posted a couple weeks back asking what you, my beloved readers, think I should do with my short story.  I didn’t get any response at all on that one.  It seems odd to me, but that’s OK.  Not everything needs to be a democracy.  I made up my own mind, doing what I had in mind in the first place.  The story will be made publicly available for free.  At less than 2,000 words, it’s a modest offering.  Still, I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback.

So now for the details.  You can look for “The Immortal” on my site on October 31.  It will be made available on the Ibook store, on Barnes and Noble’s Nook, and on Kobo.  You’ll also find it on

Alas, poor Kindle readers, Amazon will not allow me to publish free content via KDP.  Fear not, however.  There is a way.  Just visit and and download The Immortal as a .mobi or as a PDF.

I’m still working on the big one.  This was a little bit of a distraction to get the creativity flowing.  I’ll likely have a few more out before my novel is finished.  On the other hand, it’s good exercise for the muse.  I’ll be keeping you posted.


I have changed publication plans for this story.  Instead, it will be going up on Smashwords, and distributed to their retail partners.  To download on Halloween go directly to my Smashwords profile here.  Incidently, this is good for all you Kindle users out there, because Smashword makes their ebooks available in .mobi format.

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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Self Publishing, Update


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Family Support

Who else has had “supportive” comments from friends and family about plans to write?  Well meaning loved ones give totally unhelpful advice like “make sure you have a way to pay the bills in the mean time,” or “You’ll probably get rejected a lot before you make your first sale.”  While both of these qualify as good advice, it’s not what I want to hear when I tell people I know and love that I am putting blood, sweat and tears into work that will – once finished – be edited, rewritten, and the process repeated until there is something worthy to sell to the public.  What I would rather hear is “That’s great!’ or “good luck.”  Even “I hope that works for you” would be more supportive than a reminder of the struggles we will through until and unless the finished book takes off.

What is it about hopes and dreams that makes loved ones act this way?  If they know you, they ought to know if you are realistic enough to not quit your day job without having a bunch  of money coming in by other means.  As for the likely rejections, there’s so much information out there regarding the likelihood of rejection that one voice isn’t going to make any difference.  Maybe these loved ones just feel the need to put in their two cents?  Or, perhaps they really want you to give up, but don’t want to look like the bad guy?  I really don’t know.  Still, I get it from just about everyone I know, except at work.  Then again, I work in retail.  Everyone I work with has some kind of side gig, and will quit as soon as it takes off.  These people will actually offer good advice that will help me get my book off the ground.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best advice will come from people who are asking the same questions you are.  People with no dreams can’t really help you with yours, but people with great dreams of their own will join you on your quest in hopes that you will both be made better for it.

If this has been helpful, please comment.  You may also comment if you think I’m full of beans.  Either way, I’m looking forward to you.

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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Advice, Rants


Missed Deadlines

Oops, I skipped a week.  Sorry about that.  I’ve been trying to get this blog out once a week at noon on Saturday, and I’ve done reasonably well.  Still, I did miss last week, which brings me to the point of deadlines. Experts will always advise that one must set deadlines in order to be successful. But what can you do when you miss a deadline?  And how do you set them, anyway?  It doesn’t seem like a good plan to just say that my book needs to be done by the send of the year, because it is simply too easy to procrastinate. Before you know it, December will roll around and I’ll be typing frantically, trying to just get it done before I miss my deadline.  This does not bode well for quality.  It’s best, at least in my case, to set small goals.  Maybe a chapter by the end of the week.  Or an important event needs to be written by such and such a time. OK, that can work. Why didn’t they teach me that in school. Wait, I think they did. Very well, then.
Assuming you follow this advice, and you miss your self-set deadline, what can you do? A wise man said “better late than never”. I’m not saying that you should put it off, but a day or two isn’t so terrible. Just don’t get too far off track.
I hope this helps you with your project. I’ll let you know how I’m doing.

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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Advice


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