The Rough Draft

If you can't go through it. Go around it.


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.

As always, my thriller, Devil’s Gambit is available on Amazon in Trade paperback and on Kindle.

I’ve just spent the last two days taking Corey Mandell’s Organic Story Structure Workshop. The workshop was put on by The Toronto Screenwriting Conference. I’m not going to go into what was taught. To be honest, I’m still processing the massive amount of info I received this weekend. If you’re interested in the content of his workshop click the link and have a read for yourself.

Now yes, this was a workshop geared towards feature film and TV writing but if you don’t think story structure applies across every aspect of writing well you’d be dead wrong. In fact had I taken this workshop five years ago, I’d probably still be writing feature scripts. Hell, after this weekend there’s a better than fair chance I’ll strap those guns on again.

It was that good of an experience.

I feel like I’ve been banging away with bronze tools and somebody just handed me a new set of equipment made of laser cut high carbon steel. Tools so sharp I’ll start to bleed just looking at them.

It’s going to take me a few days to absorb what I’ve just learned and putting it into proper practice will take even longer but it’s going to be worth it. For me and my readers.

If you read regular print media they’re constantly pointing out how electronic publishing isn’t doing as well as it has in the past. This may well be true but my personal numbers don’t support this. My print versus ebook sales are .3% to One or one print sale for around every three hundred books sold. In fact the majority of my hard cover sales have been person to person not through Amazon or Createspace and by person to person I mean you hand me cash and I hand you a book.

The writer’s equivalent of four walling.

In every writing endeavour I’ve ever undertaken, there’s always a lot of doom and gloom at how hard it is or how difficult it is to be seen. How do you get your signal to rise above the noise level of social media? I’ll admit, I’m still trying to get a handle on that one but I’m pretty sure the first thing you do is put out a good story and you put it out in as professional a manner as you can which means you hire an editor and you build a team of proof readers and beta readers to help you towards that goal.

I’ve now had two long Skype conversations with my current editor and received sample pages of the current edit of Reliance, my next book. After years of wandering in the desert of film, I know when I’m getting good notes that will only make the book better.

But make no mistake, the onus is on you the writer to take these steps. Nothing i’ve ever written has ever been so good it couldn’t stand another pass with fresh eyes. It’s great to have an ego but don’t let it blind you to good ideas you can claim as your own later… Though speaking of ego, when you Editor tells you he looks forward to working on your story, it’s a nice shot in the arm.

So far Reliance looks good for it’s December release (if not a little sooner).

As always, Devil’s Gambit is available in print and Kindle format on Amazon.

On a ride about two weeks ago I passed Andrew’s Scenic Acres. I was at the end of a long ride and really just wanted to get home so I logged the location in my head to check it out later. Well the weather hasn’t been very cooperative so I wasn’t able to get out there again till this last Sunday. And yes I know I said I don’t shoot flowers but a field of flowers is fair game.

I was shooting with my trusty Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 lens, My Lensbaby Composer Pro with Double Glass Insert at f8 and with my Canon 40mm STM f2.8 Lens.

So first up, the shots with my Sigma.

Some Lensbaby Shots. I started with the Edge 80 Insert.

But I wasn’t really feeling it so I switched right away to the Double Glass Insert.

And finally to my Canon 40mm STM lens. I’m still amazed at how tack sharp this lens is for the money.

I’m looking at some studio packages for lighting options right now. I’ll be renovating my basement this Fall and Winter and putting in an office / studio space. Right now the area is chock a block with stuff we’ll need to get rid of or find new storage for. Basic lighting packages are reasonable enough but you always wonder if they’ll suit your needs. I’ll keep my eyes open on Craigslist for used equipment, so far the offerings have been slim even for a sprawling metropolis like the Greater Toronto Area. Once the basement office space is completed, I’ll see about dropping the hammer on purchasing the lights and accessories I need.

If there’s one big hole in my photography, it’s people. I take pictures of a lot of places and things and if there are people in my shots they’re usually riding something. It’s one of the reasons I like shooting motorsports, the drama comes built right into the frame and the shot’s story is almost always self evident.

Portraiture is a much more intimate experience and getting people to be comfortable in the shot, has not been my strength. I’m not a fan of having my own picture taken and I’m guessing that translates into directly into my photography. This of course doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn how to overcome my hindrances. Portraiture can be extremely powerful.

With that in mind I signed up for a day course through Henry’s Camera on Portraiture and Fashion Photography taught by the effervescent Lindsay Adler, somebody who does a lot with very little and who is very open about her techniques to achieve her end result.

Of course any course put on by a camera store is really in the end about selling you more gear though to their credit, Henry’s was very much about the soft sell here. The reality of this type of shooting is lighting so if you want to expand your range it’s going to require a number of studio strobes, radio transmitter to fire them, reflectors to provide fill and of course a light meter to speed up the process. After looking through a number of sites last night, I figure I could set myself up with the needed gear for about $1200. Which sounds like a lot but considering I can spend that on a lens easily, it’s reasonable.

Will I go down this rabbit hole? I’m thinking about it but really right now, it’s a bit out of the reach of my wallet. However I picked up some very practical tips for how to plan a shoot and how to properly pose my subject which will be a huge help in the near future.

It was a long day yesterday but the knowledge gain was excellent.

Now for a bit about the writing.

I talked to Andrew Lowe my new Editor this week and we discussed what I was after in the edit for Reliance. It was a great chat and I’m looking forward to seeing where we’re going to be going with our collaboration. All of the elements have been combined for the new cover and I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s going to look. I’ll be posting the cover for Reliance up hopefully next week.

As always, you can purchase Devils Gambit my thriller on Amazon.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

I’ve never agreed with this. Things happen, they happen in their own time and if there’s any reason behind it, it’s beyond my understanding of what it could be. Though making things happen that’s a beast of a different color.

A number of weeks ago my good friend Kelly approached me about doing a trip out to Pike’s Peak for their, “Race to the Sky,” We’d meet in Colorado Springs as he’s coming from the West Coast of BC and I’ll be making the longer trek from the Toronto area. At the same time Bob Saunders a friend of mine in the V-Strom owners group I’m in wants to go and check out the new addition to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Lucky for me the two trips sort of line up on dates. I actually need to go to the NMUSAF as I need some reference pictures of a certain aircraft there for an upcoming book (no I’m not telling you which aircraft) and it looks like the dates will work out for for Bob as well, though we’ll have to see who else is going for that leg of the trip.

So that’s two days planning taken care of, the 18th and the 19th. I’m meeting Kelly in Colorado Springs on or around the 23rd. Which is three days. If there’s one thing about the US that’s really cool it’s that it’s a country full of travel possibilities and as my love of geology and riding go hand in hand, there’s always a new vista to see or interesting ground to cover. The real trouble is it’s such an abundance of riches, it’s hard to choose where to go.

This is proving doubly hard in my research on Colorado and Utah. I’d be happy to get lost in their canyons and mountains and depending on Kelly’s dirt comfort level, we might split off and I’ll meet back up with him in SLC. The terrain looks simply amazing.

I’m still a good eight months away from bringing this off and there’s a lot of logistics to get through but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the time goes quickly and suddenly you’re at 24 hours to go and you’ve still got a ton of stuff to get through.


My latest book Reliance is prepped and ready and sitting with a new Editor. Deciding to go with somebody different from the Editor of my first two books wasn’t an easy decision to make. After all you try to build a team that will help you get to the goal line and I’m not saying in any way that my previous editor didn’t help that happen but it doesn’t hurt to look around and to see if other talented people will benefit your work. I think writing is a lot closer to music in this regard. You seek out a certain music producer because you want a certain sound. I’m very much aware of the sound I want for Reliance and after talking to my new editor I get the feeling he will help me coalesce what I’m after. I’m intrigued to see what his first set of notes will be. The above cover is the temporary one as I’m waiting for a few more props to arrive before I shoot the new cover. I’m also thinking of going with a yellow background as this particular blue is really too dark. I’ll admit, designing covers for my books is one of the more fun aspects of self publishing.


And here’s the adjusted cover for the second book in the, “Devil,” series, now called, “Devil’s Ante.” All I’m going to say for now is it takes place in Colombia and Sean Addison is finding retirement from the SAS difficult.

Expect to see, “Reliance,” on Amazon in print and on Kindle the first week of December. “Devil’s Ante,” will follow in the Spring.

You can purchase the first book in the Devil’s Series, Devils Gambit on Amazon in print and on Kindle

This post is about photography but brought to you on my bike.

The Eastman Mansion is of course the home George Eastman of Eastman Kodak built for himself after the sales of the Brownie Camera and the celluloid film stock he’d developed made him the tenth richest man in America.

He was an amature chemist who brought photgraphy from the realm of the huge land cameras and colloidal coatings to a package you could carry with you and film you developed off of a roll. I loved Kodak Kodachrome film and I always liked the warmth of their Gold film as well.

George Eastman was a bit of a prickly figure but my theory is he was OCD or Asperger’s  or both which would explain his need to micromanage and his love of numbers and data.

This is the original front entry. The current entry is through the rear of the property where the auditorium and gallery displays are.

An early projector.

Explaining the Technicolor process…

The largest collection of remaining Technicolor dyes in the world.

The view from the walkway to the garden on your way to the main house.

The Breakfast room where George Eastman ate breakfast at 7:30am sharp every morning. He had an organist on staff who played for him every morning. This is three combined images.

A more formal and intimate dining room.

A panorama of the music room.

I had an of the moment opportunity to go down to Watkins Glen National Park this Monday. Well the plans were sort of introduced Friday night and I’d figured out the details by Sunday. I’ve been gagging to get on the bike and go somewhere and if I get to use my camera to shoot interesting stuff, all the better.

The park is neat because it’s centered around the gorge with camping available on the upper levels. It’s not a huge park but it is interesting in that it captures that turn of the century love of nature but ruled by the firm hand of man. This does not detract from anything as the original builders really worked hard to blend the walkways in with the natural surroundings.

I won’t bore you with the trip down or how the bike was set up. It really wasn’t that kind of ride. I will say that I really enjoyed riding in this part of New York State and I look forward to coming down again and exploring the back roads further in the future.

This time I had my tripod with me and used it for pretty much every shot except the one above of the entrance to the park. I also decided to go for a deep depth of field so everything was shot at f22, the exposure times were long and the ISO was set at 200. The park was pretty packed and the long exposures allowed me to shoot around the people for the most part. That being said, I also liked the ghost like effect of them moving through the space.

The park was so worth the trip. If you get a chance, you should go.

As always you can get a print or Kindle copy of my thriller Devil’s Gambit on amazon.

I’ve had the pinhole lens as part of my Lensbaby kit for a while. I haven’t really worked with it too much because it requires a lot of work to get decent results and it becomes a real process to get the shots coming with any consistency because you’re working at such a high F number (f166) that you have a hard time pre visualizing your shot. You basically have to set up the camera on your tripod and take shots at different exposure times until you’re happy with the end result.

I’ve always been intrigued by the end results. With the Lensbaby Pinhole insert, you get massive depth of field but your focus is arbitrary and becomes more of a function of the DOF. The color saturation gets pretty interesting as well.

I will say this, the pinhole lens will reveal every speck of dust that’s usually focused out of the image with a more standard lens. Detail definitely drops out with distance but that gives things a very dreamy look.

I’m going to keep playing around with the Pinhole insert.

I decided to switch to my double glass insert to see how it would cope under the conditions. I had the f2.8 ring and I was shooting 1/30 as ISO 100. The water and the direction of light created some pretty cool effects.

And just to round out the morning, I switched to the Edge 80 Optic and it’s flat plane focus.

Hot as it was, it was nice to get out and work with some of my Lensbaby equipment.

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