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Writers: Action Items and Mega-links!

Laptops were made for stickers

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Most to-do lists are torture devices that never stop. You make your list too long. You never get to the end of the list and, to assuage your guilt, you start adding things to said list that you were going to do anyway — and possibly couldn’t even have avoided—just so you can cross it off. Put on hat. Took off hat. Sit down. Cogitate. Sit on toilet. Cogitate more.

But, after my recent Writer’s Union of Canada symposium on the state of publishing (the movie poster tag line would read: Brace Yourselves! It’s the End of the Beginning!) it’s time to commit to a plan.

Out of the blue, I have been approached by an agent. Agents are useful for lots of things (more on that in another post) but since that’s all theoretical so far and may come to naught or be complementary…

I’m going ahead with these action items:

1. Switch my browser to Opera. (Already had Chrome and that’s recommended, too. Migrate away from Internet Explorer. IE is inferior. I also like the way Opera remembers my tabs for quicker zipping around.

2. Get Dropbox. Dropbox is a free tool that keeps your data safe across multiple servers (AKA The Cloud.) It uses the same security tech your bank and the military use and the system’s more stable than say, one server in California. I’m replacing my fee-for-service backup software with Dropbox and I’ll be able to access my files across multiple computers. I don’t plan to use it for file sharing with others, though that may prove useful in the future.

3. Learn more about HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets, a formatting language.) Boo, scary.

4. Find a web developer capable of putting up an interactive, standards compliant website for me that looks good, works and can sell stuff. Also get said website hosted through one of these top three services: Rackspace, Dreamhost or Slicehost.

5. Most important: finish the polish on my WIP. By April 15th goddammit. I’ve been dawdling through perfectionistic tendencies. I have other books already written and more ideas for more books. As writers, we have all sorts of ideas but time is trouble. This is a time management, make short-term money working on other people’s long-term plans. I’m grateful for the work, but Ive got to find the balance and get it all done!

6. On completion of #5, simultaneously get new work (short stories, fiction, non-fiction) on website to sell using Smashwords. (I’ve heard one bad review of Smashwords and several good ones. Guest blogger, the fab Rebecca Senese, will be telling us about her Smashwords experience soon.)

7. Research blogging a book, using Create Space and podcasting a book. Blogging a book through a service like Blurb is a cool idea. I’ve heard about it but haven’t explored in detail. Basically, it’s a cheap and fast way to make a book out of the blog content you already have. I joined the Create Space community to hang out and see how it’s working for them. I will do the same with Kindle’s Writer’s Cafe (a good tip I picked up from Mike Plested’s podcast over at Irreverent Muse. Plus, Mike has asked me to join him on a podcast. Can’t wait to do that after I get the majority of this list done.) For podcasting — radio across the Internet for those of you who aren’t on board yet — I have a book and people I can consult about that.

8. Start using Posterous for blog posting. It’s described to me by writer and self-publishing guru Ross Laird as a “pre-built content management application” that posts everywhere you want in a single, elegant click.

9. Explore alternatives to word processors (like VIM). I posted about this a few days ago. What? You missed the bit about dumping your word processor?! (Don’t get annoyed. The link is just below this post.)

10. Live free and love hard, keep rockin’  the mic and the black fedora, keep connected and reach out to give to get, fight The Man, love what’s to love and transcend what’s to hate, make fun of the hopelessly powerful, pity the stupid as long as they aren’t in power, do: do not wish, bring comfort to the afflicted, chocolate every day (non-negotiable), help the poor by not being one of them, embrace the human zoo experience and stop to smell the coffee!

Well, I’ve got most of it covered…

And, yes, I have fancy plans and pants to match—

nod to Mr. James James, the man so nice they named him twice.

And if you get that reference, I love you, you big freaky nerd you!

Ahem. This is a good start.

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Filed under: ebooks, getting it done, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, This Week's Missions, Writers, Writing Conferences, writing tips, , , , , , , , , ,

Writers: Dump your preconceptions (and your word processor)

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Just a quick note to say I’m back from The Writers’ Union of Canada Toronto symposium on the state of publishing. I’ll be going through my notes and giving out reviews and information a bit at a time in coming days as I unpack my notes and cogitate. The conference was packed with information to act upon. Sorry for the tease, but I’m busy setting up a new browser (Opera) and a new file management system (Dropbox) tonight. (Both are free and come highly recommended by a guy you should bookmark,  get to know, subscribe to and read assiduously: Ross Laird. More on that in a moment.)

I met  some nice potential clients and made a couple of new friends. Since last year’s experience  at two writers’ conferences I realize I’ve been impatient for people to catch up with my worldview. At one conference a publisher displayed a pathological resistance to e-book reality. At the next conference I met my first e-reader power user who pledged never to buy a p-book again. I’ve been harping on the change from vanity publishing to self-publishing and all that entails ever since. So it was that I became cynical about this weekend’s symposium. I was so used to the sound of my own voice saying “the future is now” — voice in the wilderness that I am — that I didn’t think anyone was catching up. In most ways, the Writers’ Union certainly has caught up and is forging ahead with the new publishing reality. (I’ll address how they haven’t changed in another post soon.)

The Nugget You Need Tonight

Tech guru Ross Laird opened his first lecture with this:


Note that he didn’t say it will be some day.

His message was strong: stop looking backward because the future of reading is on devices. Choosing self-publishing is to embrace a startling degree of freedom, fun, adventure, work and independence. Scary cool, huh? It was relief to hear someone articulate what I’ve been saying (although he’s more tech-oriented, glib and has slides.)

There is much to chew over from the symposium, but for tonight I’ll start you off with this link:

Read Ross Laird’s article on why you shouldn’t write on a word processor.


Tomorrow morning’s post:

How I Edit

I promise you’ll find this useful.

I’m deep into a heavy edit for a client this week but I’ll throw out some more gems I picked up at the symposium in coming days.

There is a lot of stuff happening all at once for me, this blog, my writing and my editing. It will take some time to get to it all.

Happy days.

It’s all scary cool.


Filed under: blogs & blogging, Books, DIY, ebooks, Editing, getting it done, publishing, Rant, self-publishing, Useful writing links, , , , , , , , ,


Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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"You will laugh your ass off!" ~ Maxwell Cynn, author of Cybergrrl

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Jesus: Sexier and even more addicted to love.

You can pick this ebook up for free today at this link: http://bit.ly/TheNightMan

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