The End to an Amazing Year – Tips for Survival

We’re at the end of an amazing year. While I look back at all the wonderful memories, I can’t help but wonder what 2021 will bring. I’m excited. I’ve waited patiently for this year. While it might be Agenda 21 year, I have my own agenda, and ain’t no government going to stop me.

Personally, I couldn’t see 2020 being worse than 2019, a horrible year from hell for me. This year, 2020, has brought many amazing things into my life: new friends, incredible adventures and a boat.

While others were consumed with news from around the world spouting off one disaster after another, bringing fear with every headline, I ignored it all and lived life the way I always do: day by day. I worked at a seasonal job I loved, met many wonderful people doing it, talked with countless customers on topics I enjoy, bought a boat with my extra money, paid off bills, went camping, sailing, hiking, exploring and reconnected with nature miles away from civilisation.

Through it all, I learned that I can depend on myself when the going gets tough. I mean really tough; oh, my god I’m going to die if I don’t knuckle down, ignore the pain and get the job done tough.

Through it all, I recalled the advice given from inspirational gurus, a list of things to do when the going gets tough. Apparently, it was the philosophy of men stuck in the ice in Antarctica in 1915. It’s what brought every man out alive. Every man.

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Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 4

In Article 3 for Self-publishing from Scratch, I wrote about platforms. If you missed it, it’s here. All posts are organised under the drop-down menu above: Self-publishing / Self-publishing from Scratch.

Article 4 will focus on one particular platform: a professional website. Professional as, this is a business website, not a rant and rave page where I alienate readers on petty topics and post pictures of my weekend out with the boys, getting drunk and stuck in the mud.

Why Build a Website?

I’ve been asked this many times in the past ten years. It’s often followed by, “I already have an author Facebook page (or another social media presence); I don’t need a website.”

Yes, you do.

Remember, I’m giving this advice to my younger self, the one who wanted to self-publish her book back around 2006. Due to writing friends discouraging her from taking that step, saying it would “ruin” her career, she put off self-publishing until 2010 and by the time she had enough experience to do it well, she had missed the easy boat. By 2015, it was more difficult to get books noticed, and she swam in a sea with millions of other hopeful writers.

Let me throw this out there: she didn’t have a fiction writing career to ruin, and her friends’ advice was based on nothing more than their opinion, which they had gotten from traditionally-published writers, who looked down on those who took the reins and drove their own wagon. Perhaps they were fearful of doing it themselves.

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Merry Christmas – Carrot Cake Recipe

Good morning, everyone.

I’m sending best wishes to you and your family. I hope today is a peaceful one, where you’ll have those you love the most with you, you’ll be warm and have food on your plate. While I hope you get what you want, I hope more you get what you need.

On my Diane McGyver blog, I posted a recipe for carrot cake. If you have an excess of carrots and like this cake, check it out here: Recipe Carrot Cake.

While I’ll be writing, I’m off the Internet for the next two days. It’s my break where I indulge in movies I’ve missed over the years. I’ve already reserved a few.

Take care of yourself, and the rest will take care of itself.

Writing Hangover

In the past seven days, I’ve written 23,546 words of my current novel, Seeds of Life. I surpassed the expected 90,000-word draft, and blew by 100,000 words without realising it. Every waking moment when I wasn’t caring for the animals and the children, doing basic housework, cooking, baking, moving furniture (my daughter’s moving back in), building a duck house and shovelling snow, I was writing.

Currently, the draft sits at 106,002 words.

This morning, I’m suffering from writer’s hangover, but the story won’t let me go. It’s all I dreamt about last night. This evening, after the chores, collecting drinking water from the spring, moving the ducks to their new house, cleaning up the basement and picking up chicken food, I’m diving back into the story to see if I can get the main characters out of the danger they’re in and bring them home.

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Book Review: “Graves for Drifters and Thieves” by Sophia Minetos

Disclaimer

I’ve been part of Sophia Minetos’ launch team over the past few months, and I received a free copy of Graves for Drifters and Thieves to review.

Confession #1

Halston Harney is my favourite character. Nowadays, for whatever reason, when I read books written by others, I often don’t have a favourite character. It’s odd. Years ago, within a few chapters, I always found a favourite character. I’m not sure why I don’t anymore. I was pleasantly surprised when I found one in this book.

Confession #2

Westerns are one of my favourite genres. I grew up reading the old western novels my oldest brother had bought. I also read western comics, such as Jonah Hex, and watched western television shows (Bonanza, Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Dr. Quinn) and movies (Young Guns and every John Wayne and Clint Eastwood western). I’m also writing two western novels.

This made it easy to slip into Graves for Drifters and Thieves.

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Freedom to Choose

This is not about writing; it’s about freedom. Freedom is what every human wants and deserves. Without freedom, we are slaves. Without freedom, we do not prosper. Without freedom, we do not have personal rights. I would give up everything for freedom.

Freedom is what my father, my grandfather and all veterans fought for in the great wars. Freedom is what our ancestors sought when they left countries where they were mere peasants under a monarch’s rule. Freedom is the ultimate goal in every society.

Fighting Against Freedom

There’s been horrible rumblings in society over the past ten months about taking away a person’s freedom to choose what goes into their body. I’m going to come right out and say this, and if you don’t like it, too bad.

This is my body. I decide what goes into it and what doesn’t. If you think otherwise and try to go against my choice, you’re in for a fight. I don’t care about your health as much as I care about mine. I’m not threatening my health to appease you. I am NOT responsible for your health – you are!

To think otherwise is foolish. To think otherwise means I have the right to tell you how to live your life to better your health. That means no more cigarettes or recreational drugs. No more three meals a day; you’re down to two. Watching TV for more than four hours a week? Not anymore. You don’t spend a minimum of two hours outside walking or doing another activity regardless of the weather? Get off the couch! Pig out on six donuts? Nope. Drink pop? Not on my watch.

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Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 3

In last week’s Self-publishing from Scratch post, the advice I’d give to myself was to tell others I’m writing a book even if I was finished writing it yet. Once family, friends and neighbours are told, how do I get the word out to the world?

By building a platform.

What is a Platform?

A platform is your stage. You can jump onto it and improvise; this works well for some actors. However, most of us need preparation before the curtain rises. Every act is planned, dress-rehearsals are done and make-up is applied. Ideally, you want to know what impression you want to deliver to your audience and plan your performance with that in mind. The last thing you want to do is confuse your audience or send mixed messages.

Authors use this stage to influence the audience to buy their books, to support their writing career and to share the news about their books to those they are connected with, either personally or in social media.

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Wednesday’s Word: Diane McGyver presents “the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes”

Diane McGyver

Introducing author Diane McGyver. Her first book, Shadows in the Stone, was released in 2012. Since then, she’s written seven books, including four more fantasy novels and two stand-alone books for her Romance Collection. In this interview, she shares a little about her most recent book, the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes.

1) What is the title of your most recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

The title is the Salvation of Mary Lola Barnes. It’s a stand-alone book, and I’ve no intentions of writing a sequel. It fits squarely in women’s fiction but overlaps into small town romance and inspiration. The content and story is geared towards those over 16 years old. If I had to narrow the age group down to the ones who’d enjoy it most, it would be women between 45 and 65.

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

The book opens with Mary considering the last piece cake that celebrated her 50th birthday. She’s looking back on life and thinking about the future now that her kids have grown and are creating lives of their own. After almost 25 years of marriage, mostly dedicated to keeping house and raising kids, she wants to take advantage of life’s opportunities and rekindle the relationship with her husband.

When she starts to make subtle changes, she runs into opposition from her husband and friends. Once she sets change in motion though, her life transforms in areas she hadn’t expected or wanted, and it won’t stop even when she wishes it would.

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Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 2

The Next Step

After deciding how many books I want to write and publish, the next step in the publishing journey is promoting my first book. This step is one for writers in groups #3 and #4 as discussed in Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 1: writers who want to publish three or more books.

Wait. What do you mean? Promote my first book? I haven’t even written it yet. Or at least it’s not finished. I don’t know how to publish it. Why would I promote a book that isn’t ready for readers?

Why indeed.

Promoting My First Book

This is the advice I’d give to myself if I was just getting started in the publishing business. I need to start building interest in that book now. I need to start presenting myself as a writer now. I need readers to learn about me now.

So when my book is ready to publish and I hit that PUBLISH NOW button, I have at least a small following and my book has been seen by several thousand sets of eyes.

How Do I Promote a Book I Haven’t Finished Writing?

Easy. Talk about it.

Did you know, I’m writing a dystopian novel? It’s called Seeds of Life.

Phew! That was easier than I had thought. Who did I tell? Well, I first told my sister. She was impressed I was writing a book since I had flunked Grade 11 English. Then I told my neighbour – two people know I’m writing the book. They want to read it. Cool.

By the end of the week, I’ve told 30 people, and I’m eager to spread the news further. Oh, Facebook. I just posted the news to share with my “friends”. Here’s what I wrote: Hey, everyone. I’m writing a book, and I’m going to publish it. The title is Seeds of Life.

The girl I went to high school with commented: What’s it about?

Oh. Good question. How do I answer it?

Developing Your Elevator Pitch

This is when you start to develop what is called the Elevator Pitch. It’s describing your book in one sentence or two or three short sentences.

Answer: It’s about this girl who is born after the world is devastated. She’s kinda special because seeds, which are vital to life, are messed up, and she can fix them.

Thinks to myself: I’ve gotta work on that. I also gotta finish writing the book. I’ve only got 61,158 words written, and I’m aiming for 90,000 words.

Spreading the Word Further

In two weeks, I’ve told about 300 people I’m writing a book and publishing it but to sell lots of copies, I need to spread this news to the world. I could do it on Facebook, but I have only 226 friends, and only Aunt Pearl shared it. Wait. Aunt Pearl has 3,539 friends. I guess more people than I thought saw that I’m writing a book. Eek! I better get to finishing it.

To spread the word further, I need a platform. This is where promotion starts. It’s the stage where I promote my book to everyone in the world.

Next Week: Platforms: What are they and how do I create one?

Wednesday’s Word: L. P. Suzanne Atkinson presents “Didn’t Stand A Chance”

Introducing author L. P. Suzanne Atkinson. Her first book, Emily’s Will Be Done, was released in 2016. The first book in the Stella Kirk Mysteries, No Visible Means, was released in 2019. The second book was launched this spring. In this interview, she shares a little about her most recent book, Didn’t Stand a Chance.

1) Is Didn’t Stand a Chance a series? What genre is it? What age group is it geared towards?

Didn’t Stand a Chance: A Stella Kirk Mystery # 2 is the second book in the series. The Stella Kirk Mysteries are traditional cozy mysteries. My audience tends to be women aged 30 years and up, but I get a remarkable amount of feedback and comments from men, as well.

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about Didn’t Stand a Chance. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

The assumed accidental death of a young bride leads Detective Aiden North and Stella Kirk, the owner of Shale Cliffs RV Park, into an investigation fraught with sibling secrets, revealing choices, and unforgivable misunderstandings. Which family member holds the ultimate power of influence? Will Lucy Painter’s murder be confirmed? Will the perpetrator be exposed or will family ties be unbreakable until the end? This mystery illustrates how perceived sacrifice and devotion can be twisted into horrible results for a family.

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Self-publishing from Scratch: Article 1

What is the First Step?

Using the information and experience I’ve gathered over the past 10 years of self-publishing and 23 years of writing professionally (Before I turned to fiction full time, I had a successful freelance business where I pitched non-fiction stories to magazines and newspapers), I’ve given careful thought about what my first step would be in the non-traditional, self-publishing world if I was starting the journey today. From this perspective, I’ll create this series of posts called Self-publishing from Scratch. It’s geared towards the writer who wants to publish their first book.

Step 1: How Many Books Will I Write?

This might be an odd question for some, but after thinking of many other questions, I kept backspacing and finished at this one. This question helps answer the ones that follow.

Each Writer is Unique

I’ve met a lot of writers over the past two decades. While we all love to write, we had different goals for our writing.

Writer Group #1

Some just wanted to write for personal reasons. They didn’t have the desire to see their stories in print. Others wanted to hold their book in their hand and share it with family and close friends.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these goals. Writing for them is self-satisfying. They don’t want to share with strangers, sell books or become a name in the business.

Writer Group #2

Some writers want to write one book. That’s it. They fall into the category of everyone has a book inside them, and that’s all they want to write. They want a few dozen copies to give to family and friends, and they think it’s cool to see it on Amazon’s website. They’re tickled pink to earn a few dollars to pay for their coffee once in awhile.

Writer Group #3

Some writers want to give it a shot, so they commit a few years, a few dollars and write a few books. Only half their heart is in it because, well, they like reading, but they don’t know if they like writing lots of books. They’ll be happy to sell a few, happier if they sell a million with little effort.

Writer Group #4

Then there are the hard-core, addicted, won’t ever stop writing writers. They don’t care about discouraging comments made by family, friends or inner voices, how long it takes, or if sales aren’t as high as they expected them to be.

They’re going to write book after book until they fill their shelves with titles. They’re going to burn the midnight candle, spend birthday money on paperback proofs and ads, attend workshops and markets, read countless articles on how to successfully write a book and sell it, learn how to do all the things they can to build a book and save money, and spend every day writing to reach their word goal.

These hard-core writers have their own individual goals: writing x-amount of books a year, selling x-amount of books, becoming a famous author, winning awards, etc.

The Number of Books and Self-publishing

Writer Group #1

The writer who wants to write for personal reasons or the one who wants to hold their book in their hands and share with family and friends, need never know how to self-publish.

Writer Group #2

The writer who wants to write one book and sell it on a small scale doesn’t need to put forth much effort. They could create a webpage so the book has real estate on the Internet, and anyone looking for information on it and links to buy will find it. Obviously, sales will be low unless the subject is self-propelling.

Writers with one book who want to sell that book like crazy need to learn marketing. The basics of self-publishing will carry them through to get that book published. They won’t need to repeat the process, just sell what they have.

Writer Group #3

Writers dabbling in self-publishing with the goal to write a few books, let’s say three, to see if they can make money at it need to know the basics. However, since they are not planning to spend the next 20 years writing or make a career from it, they don’t have to learn as much as those in Writer Group #4.

Writer Group #4

These writers will write as many books as they can until life forces them out of the game. They aim to make this their career and are looking forward to the day they can quit their current job to become a full time writer. The more they learn, the better they’ll be.

This is the group I’m in.

Who is Self-publishing from Scratch directed at?

This blog series is directed at Writer Groups #3 and #4. I will assume you want to write more than one book, and I’ll direct the conversation in that direction. That includes discussing the basics of formatting, setting up a website, getting an ISBN, starting a company, networking and many other things I’ve done to not only publish books but promote them.

The best time to write that novel and self-publish it was 15 years ago. The second best time is today.

Wednesday’s Word: Sophia Minetos presents “Graves for Drifters and Thieves”

Introducing author Sophia Minetos. In this interview, she shares a little about her first book scheduled for release on December 15th, Graves for Drifters and Thieves.

1) What is the title of your most recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

Graves for Drifters and Thieves is a YA fantasy-Western. It is suitable for ages 12 and up, and it is the first installment in a series.

2) In a few short sentences, tell us about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

Jae Oldridge is a seventeen-year-old bounty hunter working in the Hespyrian West. When a twist of fate brings her to the enigmatic Harney brothers and their gang, she finds herself ensnared in a conflict involving their boss, warlocks, monsters, and a mystery surrounding the brothers themselves.

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Starting a Self-publishing Career from Scratch

Every other week or so, a writer contacts me and asks how I do something or where to find information in regard to self-publishing. Often, these are writers who have been writing for a long time but have never entered the publishing world either traditionally or non-traditionally.

Sometimes they ask a question I can answer in one sentence. Other times, I can go to my website – this website – find the post or page on which I discussed that topic and send the link. Still other times, they have many questions. I try to answer the best I can, but my time is limited, and I can’t spend an hour crafting an email with links and details.

An hour to write an email? Yes, because I double check information or I find a reference to it on the web to ensure that information hasn’t changed and to provide a place where they can learn more. Then I read it carefully a few times to ensure I’ve said things properly, didn’t leave out a word and included everything I wanted to say.

It’s Already Online

The truth is, most of the information I provide is already on the web. Many times it’s on my website because, believe it or not, on January 3, 2021 (The First Step in Blogland), I mark ten years in blogland, and I’ve written about every step from writing that first draft to getting that published book in hand.

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Book Launch Team: What is it?

For the past month or so, I’ve been a member of Sophia Minetos’ Launch Team for her upcoming novel, Graves for Drifters and Thieves. One of the perks of being a member is a signed ARC (advanced reading copy) of the book to read before it’s released to the general population. My paperback copy arrived Monday.

Sophia Minetos

Graves for Drifters and Thieves Sophia Minetos

You’ll meet Sophia in Wednesday’s Word on November 18th and learn more about her book.

I learned about the recruitment for Sophia’s book launch team at Goodreads and signed up because the book looked like one I’d enjoy. I wasn’t wrong. I’m enjoying it. You’ll read my review December 15th, the day of the book launch.

It’s a western, and my brain is thirsty for westerns lately. It’s time to pull out Young Guns and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to watch, and finish writing that western laced with romance with the working title Billy the Kid and Lady Luck.

What is a Book Launch Team?

It’s a group of people who come together to help promote a book during its pre-order stage. While I’m sure there are many ways to give incentives to members to share news on their social media accounts about the upcoming book, Sophia is doing weekly challenges where members have a chance to win fabulous gifts.

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Wednesday’s Word: Laura Churchill Duke presents “Two Crows Sorrow”

Laura Churchill DukeIntroducing author Laura Churchill Duke. She is a freelance journalist, and recently her first book, Two Crows Sorrow, was published by Moose House Publications. In this interview, she shares a little about the book.

1) What is the title of your recent book? Is it a series, what genre is it and is it suitable for all ages?

Two Crows Sorrow published by Moose House Publications.

This is a creative non-fiction adult novel. This means that everything that happens in the novel is true, but it is woven together creatively so it reads like a novel, rather than an actual historical account.

2) In a few sentences, tell us a little about the book. Give us a glimpse of the plot without giving away any spoilers.

Two Crows Sorrow is about the life of Theresa McAuley Robinson, a woman who lived on Nova Scotia’s North Mountain at the turn of the century. This is the true story of Theresa’s love and devotion to her children and her farmland, which ultimately led to her demise. In May 1904, Theresa was found murdered and her farm burnt to the ground. Her second husband William Robinson was accused of the murder. Two Crows Sorrow follows Theresa’s life to her death, then William’s court trial to its dramatic conclusion.

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