At the lake on a very warm January morning, with my son Colin.
I’ll be honest, Christmas is tough for me. I have a hard time with the crowds and the noise they make. Even with my ear buds screwed firmly into my head and the volume on my iPod up as high as it can go, the situation gets to me and it starts to feel like my face and scalp are trying to pull themselves off of my skull.
That’s the joy of my particular brand of PTSD, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
So imagine how I felt when I went into Costco in August and found Christmas trees and light displays. I mean we’re talking pre thanksgiving (both of them), Halloween and Remembrance day (which to my mind was more than a little disrespectful). Deep deep down, I knew this year was going to be a really long haul to make it through.
You would think that I’d have developed coping mechanisms by now. After all, the Holiday Season is a yearly thing. For the most part I have but in recent years it’s been a race of a pound of defense against twenty pounds of offense. Even bunkering down and trying to stay put only works so much. It’s impossible to barricade yourself in your house for a month and a half and not come across as more than a little nuts. Not that I can manage that on even a daily basis but you get what I’m saying. So you take a few deep breaths and venture out.
Of course, there is an upside. This condition of mine really knocks the commercialism out of everything. I really do prefer to focus on the things we do as a family. The meals we cook, the baking (my wife and daughter – for some reason baking eludes me as a cook) and the friends we visit or have visit. Back in BC, Boxing Day was always an open house for us and would almost always end in a house full of family, friends, food and live music. It’s a little bit tougher to manage out here in Mississauga and Rockband, doesn’t quite cut it in the music department.
Anyway, Black Friday is officially behind us, now the season kicks off in earnest. So do I have a Christmas wish? Yes I do. My wish is that people focus on what they have not what they want. Because happiness lies with the former and not the latter.
This is me in my first school photo. I’m top row second from the right. This was taken in Ayr around 1971 back when the world was still in black and white. I remember that Scotland had rolling blackouts as they turned the power off for a few hours each night because of energy shortages. We had these weird little squat candles that would burn for about two hours. It’s strange to think that just four years after this picture we’d have immigrated to Canada to start a new and what would ultimately be a better life.
My father of course had been in Canada for two years prior to bringing the rest of us over. There had been a series of interim jobs on a variety of farms prior to him making his way to Vancouver, BC where he went into construction and pipeline welding. He’d been sponsored by my uncle who had emigrated to Canada years previously but our family on my Dad’s side had had a long association with this country through aviation and my Grandfather’s work (he managed maintenance contracts for the Canadian Air Force in Europe and the UK).
My father’s flight over was on a 747, I’m not sure of which airline but coach consisted mostly of Chinese nationals making their way to Canada to also start a new life. The person manning the check in counter asked my dad if he wanted to be moved into another class on the flight. Basically a, “Whiter,” class. My dad had more than a few faults but being a racist wasn’t one of them. As far as he was concerned everybody in coach was basically looking for the same thing he was, a new start. He declined the offer of an upgrade.
When I finally made it to Canada the culture shock was enormous. I was basically a rural kid. I had a thick Scottish accent and spoke in a Borders dialect which could be pretty hard to understand. I had to learn a whole series of new words and how to function in what was to me a massive city. It wasn’t easy. I was greatly relieved when we moved out into the Fraser Valley and Abbotsford a year later.
I guess my point of all this back story is this.
I know it’s easy to be afraid of outsiders, be they immigrants or refugees but to my mind they (we) are just seeking a better life, a new start, a place to grow. A lot of them would have preferred to stay but event or circumstance forces your hand. That’s what happened to my family. We had a couple of bad years on the farm and the only way out was to get out of Scotland and start fresh in Canada. Back then it was hard for me. I was leaving a culture I was firmly a part of, friends and land that I loved. Canada was a huge unknown for me. Of course by the time I could understand a bit of the world I knew that the opportunities open to me here in my new country were far greater than rural Scotland of the eighties as Maggie Thatcher and her lot did their damage.
So yes, I support our Prime Minister’s goal of relocating 25,000 refugees from Syria and no, I’m not afraid because I’m an immigrant and I love this country and in time once the culture shock wears off, I’m sure they will too.
Waterskiing on Harrison Lake, BC – 1980
Working on the foundation of my first house Sumas, BC – 1986
Third go around at publishing a book and I’m still making mistakes. I’ve been a little concerned at the seeming lack of initial sales for Reliance my new Western Thriller but then it’s been my experience that it always takes a little bit of time for any book to gain some traction. I’m also guessing that November isn’t the best month to release in but that could just be me trying to make myself feel better.
Last night however I was looking at my author page and realized with a bit of a shock that I’d not linked Reliance into my published books list, which is a pretty boneheaded thing to miss. I’m not sure if the author page ties into any discoverability by Amazon but I’m also sure that not having your latest book on there doesn’t help either.
So, just so you can check things out for yourself, click the link to my Author page.
Pick up a copy of Reliance if you can, it’s been a long time coming and it’s been a long journey to bring this particular book to light and if you do purchase the book and like it, please post a review and let me know about it here. Writing is a pretty solitary existence so feedback is always welcome.
Devil’s Gambit, my first thriller is still available on Amazon, now at the reduced price of $1.99 USD. Less than a coffee at Starbucks and there’s no offending cup.
It’s been a busy last few weeks between just general life stuff and getting Reliance ready to publish. So busy I haven’t had a chance to go for a ride for a few weeks. something I’m very aware of as my bike sits in front of my car as I pull into my garage every night after work.
The day job is fairly physical. I’m constantly climbing on, over or under things and I spend a lot of time walking on concrete floors. My knees of course love this sort of treatment and aren’t about to bitch about it at the end of the day. Add to that the litany of niggling pains from different sectors of my body like my lower back and shoulders and there are times when I literally can’t sit still or sit down at all.
Which brings me to todays ride. Nothing fancy. A quick jaunt up the 401 to A Vicious Cycle in New Dundee and then after some general BSing in the parking lot (not too much as it was bloody freezing) we rode out to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. The only mitigating factors in todays ride were, it was really windy and really cold. For the most part, the cold was bearable as was the wind but after about an hour, my already sore knees were really starting to complain and my shoulders (especially the one I had surgery on) had decided to join the chorus.
This isn’t a shock but it does drive home the fact that you do need to maintain a certain level of fitness to ride. I’m glad today was just road riding, I don’t think I’m up to off road today. In fact I think I’m going to have to build in some exercises to beef up my body for the Colorado trip. I’m not talking about bulking up, just about getting my lean muscles ready for what’s coming. What that’s going to look like, I’m going to have to do some research on.
As I’d also mentioned, I’ve been getting Reliance ready for publication. This time round I’m going through Createspace first because they’ll also help me generate a Kindle version alongside the print version. I’m sure if I did this every other month, I’d be more in tune with the process but frankly every time I do this, I have to teach myself over and over again. One thing you need to consider is your page size. A standard printed page is 8.5″ x 11″ but a Createspace Trade Paperback is 6″ x 9″ and you need to set up your manuscript accordingly or you spend a lot of time back and forth between the layout page and your Word file. I also have a hard time with their Cover Editor. It would be nice if they could give you a proper spine width dimension based on your page count along with a proper overall edge to edge dimension, so you could make a Complete Cover in whatever art program you possess. I’m not an artist. It took a few days before I figured out the problem with my new book’s back cover. Which turned out to be some descriptive text bleeding over on the top edge.
This in itself is not a huge problem but every time you make a change you have to resubmit your files and it usually takes about six hours for each turn around. My advice is start the process days before you plan to release, just to make sure you hit your dates.
I’ve also been attending a few local writer meetups and spreading the gospel of independent publishing. I know many are still enamored of the trad pub route and I’m guessing that’s a good way for some to go, if you want to wait months to launch your book (if you get chosen of course) and give up your rights as well as settle for a pittance of a royalty. I guess you can see which way I lean in this argument. It’s also interesting to talk about my life in film with the groups as you don’t realize it but in many ways it really influences how you approach the actual work of writing. I’m not going to making the meetups a regular thing but showing up every now and then, probably isn’t a bad thing.
Reliance will be available in print and on Kindle as of November 14th and as always, you can order my thriller Devil’s Gambit on Amazon.
Sometimes you don’t even know what you’ve got until you’re back at home going through the day’s shots and you find one like the shot above which happened just after the rider i was shooting passed through my frame. It’s one of my favorite shots and it’s a total fluke.
Other times you turn a corner and there’s a wholly unique scene presented to you.
And there are times where you’re just riding with no real direction in mind and you come across something astounding.
Other times it’s what ends up in your frame that makes the shot.
You just need to leave yourself open to whatever your lens finds and those moments in between.
My next book Reliance is prepped and ready to go. I’m just waiting for the final notes to come in from my Beta readers. As soon as I get the okay, the book will be available. As always, you can pick up my other thriller, Devil’s Gambit on Amazon.
I know I’ve tapered off on my posts as of late but I’ve been really busy. I’m almost finished the new edit on Reliance. I should be sending out copies for proofing to my Beta readers tomorrow. So far I’m still on track to publish the first week of December. I know that a year seems like a long time between books but the fact of the matter is I’m trying to put out the best work possible and that takes time. The book following this one, Devil’s Ante is about halfway to being complete and it’s still going to need a few passes before it’s ready for publication. Independent publishing is not for people who want instant results, you really do need to take the long view.
At least now that I understand the process much better, I’ll be releasing the paperback version at the same time as the Kindle one. Paperbacks are still a low earner for me compared to my Kindle sales but they do work well as a promotional tool and who knows, down the line, these early editions might be worth something someday. I know of at least one copy of Devil’s Gambit which has made it’s way through an entire family and their friends. Which makes me hope those infected with the reading virus will look up my new work as well.
Numbers play an important role in this endeavour for me. From my daily sales numbers to the actual cost of putting out a quality book and its promotion. It really is a brick by brick, step by step thing. Much like film, it’s not always so much about your current book as it is about building the foundation for the sales of your next one and the one after that.
For the first two months I averaged one book sale a day. In month three, it rose to two and a half. Half a year in, I was averaging seven books a day and ever since, I’ve been averaging about four sales per day. One thing I do try to do is keep my Amazon ranking as constant as I can and that’s a number effected by sales. In order to do this I recently dropped the price on Devil’s Gambit to $1.99 US. My thinking is, I’ll be releasing Reliance in a few weeks and increasing my sales base at the expense of a bit of profit is not a bad idea.
To be honest I’m just happy that over a thousand people have bought my book and hopefully enjoyed it.
If you haven’t already bought a copy, Devil’s Gambit is now $1.99 on Amazon for Kindle or free for you folks on Kindle Unlimited.
Apparently the yellow background wasn’t doing it for people so we’ve upgraded the cover on Reliance. I’m just finishing up the last edit and I’ll be sending out copies to my Beta readers in the next ten days or so. Expect to see Reliance in Amazon in paperback and on Kindle the first week of December.
Anybody who knows me knows I’m a big fan of the Mini Cooper S, well the ones prior to the point where BMW decided to bloat them up. For me the 2002 – 2006 versions are my favourites. I prefer the Cooper S over just the regular Cooper. There’s nothing wrong with the regular Cooper but I like the punch in the back you get when you put your foot down on a 1.6L Supercharged engine.
I’ve been looking around for a replacement for my current 04 Mini Cooper S so when this beauty came up on Kijiji I was all over it. The gentleman who owned it was meticulous in his service records and the car is in really good nick for an 03. It’s not quite as well appointed as my 04 for creature comforts but it’s so nice I’m thinking I’m going to leave it bone stock and getting into doing the odd car show here and there (you know, cause I need another hobby).
My son Colin is a big fan of the Mini too.
I’ll be putting my current Mini Cooper S up for sale next week after it goes for service.
Had a great chat with my Editor Andrew Lowe this morning about his edit of Reliance. I’m forty odd pages in to my rewrite and I’m very happy with the work he’s put into it. So if you’re looking for an Editor, I highly recommend him. You can check him out on Reedsy or through his web page www.andrewlowewriter.com His rates are reasonable and the end result is totally worth it.
As always, you can find my thriller Devil’s Gambit on Amazon in print and for the Kindle. It’s less than cup of coffee and no foam.
So here’s the latest iteration of the cover for my next book Reliance. I’m just playing with things right now as we head into the next stretch of the process. My editor is returning the book to me to start the process of working through his edit. I’m hoping to have the book ready to go out to my Beta readers before the end of the month. So far we’re still on target for the release, December first.
If you have any comments on the cover, please share them. If you don’t like it or if you do, comment on this post and let me know. The .png format does make it come across as a little fuzzy, the actual file is much sharper.
I can safely say my experience with Reedsy has been top notch, I’m super happy with the editor I found through their site’s work and I’m hoping we can continue to work together for many books to come. I must admit I’m thinking of hiring a publicist through them to help me launch Reliance in proper style.
Which of course brings me to the investment part of being an independent author.
Sabot Productions Inc. is the publisher of my books and yes I am the owner. Being incorporated isn’t for everybody. A lot of people make the mistake of living out of their corporate account. Accountants hate this, it makes it very hard to track your earnings and expenditures. One of the main reasons I incorporated is it’s a lot easier to file for your tax exemptions if you have a business number. The main reason however is being a corporation allows you to write off most of the expenditures associated with self publishing your book or books. Because when you are the publisher, you realize very quickly how a number of costs add up as you try to produce your best work every time you release a new book. Being able to write a chink of those costs off against your earnings allows you to approach your break even point a lot faster. We can all talk about how we’re in it for the art but let’s be honest, money is how you keep score and being in the black means you’re winning, maybe not by a lot but you’re still ahead of the game.
So far incorporation has been nothing but a positive. It allows me to invest in my writing and know there will be a return on that investment.