X-Towers and Dreams Come True

I’m sitting in a park writing this. Why? Because I can, and because it’s a dream come true.

With my ThinkPad X60 in the park, my "office" today.

With my ThinkPad X60 in the park, my “office” today.

Decades ago I worked in towers. Specificlly, the tall office towers of downtown Toronto that I can now see far in the distance (I’ll put a pic up).

They were great for getting a view in, but were not someplace I wanted to remain for long.

The Towers

The Towers

Those towers are tiny to me, now, from my view in the park and seem like toys. They are in dream-scale, like they might not even be real. That’s how I feel about my past, and what has lead me to here and now.

When I worked in those tall towers, I was young, just eighteen and out of high school. I worked for six months in those towers, and I swore I would not end up working there for the rest of my life. I finished up there and went back to school, to university to study Creative Writing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunities back then that writers and content producers have today to self-publish on such a grand level. Also, I had done some buying into the erroneous belief that it was not possible to make a living on your art; what a foolish notion to entertain.

Many years went by, and I had even more jobs of different kinds, most of them in offices, too. But I still was not living my dream, and that was to do my creative work full time: writing, filmmaking and other art forms, too..

Suddenly the other day, I looked up from my computer and realized that I was now, in fact, doing what I had been craving to do for all these years! I was working on my writing, film and video making, and other art with all of my time and effort (though, when you are doing what fulfills you, and makes you happy, I don’t think it needs to be called “work”).

There were many times through those years past that I thought my dreams and goals were so far away that I might never reach them. However, I am living a lot of them, now.

I still have many goals and dreams to realize and strive for, as it’s on ongoing process.

But, I just wanted to say that dreams do come true, and you can do what means most to you in life. Just keep going when it’s tough to do so, and know they are real.


From the park “office,”

A good day for a park "office" visit.

A good day for a park “office” visit.

p.s. Posted this to my blog from the park, too.
p.p.s. I just launched another “dream” today at www.KUreads.com

Amazon’s Fire Phone is coming soon, with Prime

Holy moley! If Amazon was ever a game changer, it’s these days!

Hot on the heels of the announcement of Kindle Unlimited, the world will get their hands on Amazon’s new smartphone called the Amazon Fire Phone on July 25th, 2014.

It comes with a 1 year subscription to Amazon’s Prime service, which includes:

  • free shipping on orders from Amazon
  • free video streaming of movies, videos, and TV shows
  • free music streaming
  • the ability to sync Kindle ebooks with their Audible audiobooks
  • a free ebook read per month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

Sounds pretty good so far, and I haven’t even gone into the other tech features, like 5 cameras on the phone!

My question is: how long before Kindle Unlimited is included in the deal? It will probably happen before long, then were going to really see the game change, yet again.

The only constant is change, and it’s exciting times for readers, writers, and content producers everywhere. Let’s see how this plays out. Stay tuned.

Discoverability and Obscurity

The word discoverability was one I was not all that familiar with, not so long ago. The spell-checker here doesn’t even recognize it, it may be that new (or, that obscure). So, why it is important?

It’s important, because if a reader can’t find my work, they can’t enjoy it (or hate it), the main point being they can’t read it. It’s a word that is talked about in writing and marketing circles, and is becoming of greater concern to content producers everywhere.

So, I use methods like running special pricing promotions and giving away free copies. My short story Cyber is free on most sites right now, as an example.

Does this stuff work? Yes, it does. I know that I have found several new authors whose work I enjoy because I got to read one of their titles for free. And, I have picked up readers of my work who happened to try out a promotion, or get a free copy.

This may be the most effective way we writers have of attracting new readers these days, outside of spending huge bucks on advertising. I’m sure that would help, but many times we can increase visibility for our work using simple and free methods.

The goal is not to give away all our work for free, at least for those of us who aim to make a living on what we create. Rather, through the use of strategic marketing efforts we can increase visibility for our content.

Here’s a tip in regards to making your ebook free: do it as part of a series. When I was just starting out in online publishing, I used to give away copies of some of my stand-alone books, thousands of copies.

That was fine, as it got people reading and commenting on my work, but as there were no additional parts of the story for them to move to, I didn’t see much of an increase in the paid books. Now, I still give away free ebooks, but I usually give away the first book in a series, with the exception of some short stories.

However, with the recent introduction of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program (see my recent post What is Kindle Unlimited? for an explanation), the ebook marketplace has shifted again. What’s going to happen now is anyone’s guess.

I’ve put most of my titles in Kindle Unlimited, so those with a subscription (and those in Prime), can try my ebooks at no additional cost to them. For those not in any subscription service, I still have at least one free title at the moment that anyone can try, in the major ebook stores.

It’s very interesting times for readers and writers alike. What was that ancient saying (or, was it a curse?): “May you live in interesting times.”

We sure do!



Rescueplan – coming soon!

Rescueplan: D.U.M.B.s (Deep Underground Military Bases) – Book 3 is being edited, now. I’m in the final stretch of it, and the book will be available soon!

Here’s some teasers:

“What the hell are those?” Frank stepped back.
As the “spiders” drew closer, Leon could make out that they were soldiers encased in metal exoskeletons, who wore the armoured cages like a suit of clothing. As they moved their arms and legs, the metal arms and legs of the exoskeletons moved with them, mirroring them. He could see laser guns mounted at multiple points on the exoskeletons, and missiles, making them deadly machines, not just for the greatly increased strength and speed they gave the operators, but for the deadly firepower they had.
Frank’s face glowed, his eyes wide. “I hope we get to play with some of those!”

Rescueplan ebook cover

Rescueplan ebook cover

Brainjob now $0.99 on Amazon

july 20 2014

july 20 2014

I’m getting the new cover ready for my book Brainjob. The old cover is still in place, but not for long, on Amazon. It’s $0.99 right now on special for the ebook, if you want something new to read, and like sci-fi thrillers. 125,000+ words, or 344 pages.

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Typos? I’m listening!

I was just reading an ebook from a “major publisher,” one of the “big 5″ as they say in the biz, and so far I have found a typo and several formatting errors.

This is not the first ebook, or even paper book that I have found typos in from “major publishers” and “best sellers” – I find them ALL THE TIME! Still think self-published books are the only ones with typos? HAH! No! Not by a long, long, shot.

If anything, we self-publishers take more time and care with our work, as it’s our names and reputations on the line, and not a huge company someone can hide behind. Do we still sometimes have errors in our books? Sure, but we are not unique in this.

I have a running offer in my ebooks and paperbacks: if you find a typo, let me know what it is, and I’ll give you another ebook of mine, of your choice, free!

I don’t know of anyone else who offers this. I would sure appreciate it if my readers were kind enough to let me know if they find any errors! Then, I’ll make the corrections and the book will be improved. I work very hard to eliminate all of the typos that I can find, but they are sneaky buggers.

Would other writers or publishers like to know as well? Sometimes, if I find typos, I’ll let the writer, or publisher, or webmaster know. I usually don’t hear anything back from them. I wonder if I’m embarrassing them, or they feel bad because someone pointed out a fault in their work – but, it’s only done in the spirit of helping them make what they have better.

Oh, well…I guess not everyone appreciates it, or wants to be told about such things – simple things that can be corrected.

But as for me, I’m listening.

Gettin’ on the boat!

The announcement yesterday of KINDLE UNLIMITED by Amazon.com that I wrote about (and made a video about) has set the high seas of the writing/publishing world ablaze! At least in the blogosphere.  I mean it – there are so many pages of writing blogs I need to read through! And, it might well turn the tides of the ebook buying buisness on its ear, along with the experiences of readers who sign up for these all-you-can-read subscription services.

“Never get off the boat…”

We might not have a choice in the future as to how ebooks are discovered and read – at least in the mainstream. It might all go subscription based, which would be fine, I think, as long as us writers continue to get paid fairly. If not, then self-published writers with the means and the clout could always open their own stores/hubs, such as the likes of a Hugh Howey, or a Russel Blake, or a Joe Konrath. Maybe that will happen one day, it seems likely. Until then, writers and readers, if they are astute, will take advantage of the current in the ebook (and audiobook) stream that is Amazon (and the smaller, but growing ponds of Scribd and Oyster).

Now, I’ve only ever tried Scribd so far. I used to use it years ago as a place to discover free writing, and as somewhere to find new readers for my writing. It was fun, even though I didn’t have the ability to sell on there as a Canadian, at the time.

Recently, I was given a free 1 year subscription to Scribd as part of the initial distribution of titles to Scribd via Smashwords, and I’m really enjoying it (so, thank you to whomever is responsible for that)!

I find that I’m sampling and reading ebooks from authors I never would have tried before, if I would have had to pay for each one. It’s like having a vast digital library at your finger tips, where you are free to checkout anything you like (with no walks in the rain, trying to keep the books dry under a bent umbrella that is blowing in the wind!). As a result, I’ve discovered a lot of new writers, and am planning to work my way through their titles.

I’m enjoying the free Scribd subscription so much, that I’ll probably purchase another one when it expires. Which leads me to want to try out Kindle Unlimited (like the name, by the way.) The tagline for Kindle Unlimited that appears on some of the webpage ads is: “Freedom to Explore.” Hecks, yeah!

As a writer, I think I have the same concerns as most writers do, that our bottom line will suffer in the wake of smaller royalty payment. This is, of course, of great concern. But, for many of us, we first need to have our books read by a wider audience, then we’ll make more royalties. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about just how much writers are going to make per read of their ebooks in Kindle Unlimited, but it looks like the payments will be similar to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Do I wish this was different, and we writers could jump into the Kindle Unlimited pool and still set our own prices? Hecks, yeah!

But, that’s not the case; at least for most of us, for now. Still, I’m getting some of my ebooks in the KU boat, and we’re gonna see where the river takes us.

We can always get off the boat later, if we need to…Right?



What is Kindle Unlimited?

Amazon.com has just announced a new subscription service called Kindle Unlimited that allows readers to borrow as many ebooks as they like per month, AND audiobooks, for the fee of $9.99 per month! Yes, that is pretty much UNLIMITED!

It’s not the first time this has been done. Recently, there have been sites like Oyster and Scribd offering all-you-can-read packages for a flat fee. But, neither of them has Amazon’s reach, and this could be a whole new paradigm for the greater ebook and audio buying public who are Amazon customers.

So, is this Kindle Unlimited the hoped for “Netflix for ebooks?” It looks like it could be. It will be a boon for those who like to read a lot, to be sure. The good thing about this service is that it will also allow readers to check out new authors without having to pay “extra” for it, as the subscription is already paid for. There is now no risk, with Kindle Unlimited, for trying out a new ebook, or audiobook, even one you’d not be inclined to buy on its own. Who knows how many new works you’re going to end up really enjoying?

The benefits of this to authors could be huge. I’m going to try it out by putting some of my ebooks exclusively into the program (that’s the only way you can do it right now) and see what happens. Call it an experiment. If it doesn’t work, or I don’t think the royalties are worth it, then I can simply distribute my ebooks widely, again. I’ve yet to get into audiobooks, but those are coming.

Currently, the service is only open to those in the USA, but hopefully it’ll open up to more Amazon sites around the world. And, if it does that, then the results could be truly stunning for readers and writers/publishers alike. We’ll have to wait and see.

More on this, and to sign up for Kindle Unlimited:


$10 scratch card Classic Gold

I’ve been fascinated by scratch game cards since I was a child.

I think it started with Pac-Man scratch-off cards, like I wasn’t pumping enough quarters into the arcade machines of the game at the time! (Yes, video games were big, monstrous black boxes that you had to travel to a mall, store, bowling alley, or an arcade to play, and would crush you if they ever toppled over, with most games costing only ¢25.)

It’s mysterious to have a game card before you, with areas covered with that silver-grey “stuff” concealing the secrets beneath. It takes patience to get the card home before you start working on it, the excitement building until you reveal the hidden parts of the card.

When you can’t take the tension anymore, you pull out your quarter and start scratching away at the blasted coating at your own pace; fast if you want it over with quick, or slow if you want to savour the game.

All too soon, you are finished the card and the game. But, if it was a lotto card, then maybe you have won some money (for more cards?). But, as always, there is something satisfying about having a pile of silver debris left over from your manual work.

While taking a break from writing stuff yesterday, I did a scratch lotto card and made a video. Did I win? I’m not telling!