I had a landscaping service clean up our yard yesterday since spring seems to be putting a tentative toe in the water these days. Good timing I think because it has decided to rain today and I hear that there is wet snow in the forecast. If we ever get some sun and warm temps, the lawn should look great. Speaking of lawns and lawn mowing, I made the huge switch this year. For about 8 or 9 years I have been using a push mower. I got rid of the gas powered beast in order to lower the noise and air pollution in the area but the real reason was because I simply got tired of repeated pulling on the cord to get the damn thing started. The push mower started first time, every time.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I bought a cordless machine – battery powered – I’m such a tree hugger! I haven’t had a chance to use it but I have high hopes for it being powerful enough and pollution free enough to justify the cost. I could continue to use the push mower but frankly, I’m getting a bit tired of having to constantly pick up pine cones and finding that the cut is not all that even if the grass is wet. Such are the problems of those of us surviving in the first world.


39 years ago, this weekend, The Blues Brothers made their debut on Saturday Night Live. John Belushi was a recent convert to the blues at that time but Dan Akroyd had spent many years roaming the blues clubs in his hometown of Ottawa and had already jammed with some of the greats like Muddy Waters. We all know the success that the Blues Brothers reached with albums and movies and since Belushi’s death on March 5, 1982 others, including his brother Jim, have filled in the spot. One of my absolute favourites is their cover of a Sam and Dave hit, Soul Man

Speaking of the first world, the border wall between Canada and the US seems to be getting harder to climb every day. On the south side, we have a leader who seems to want to make an enemy of everybody he comes into contact with. Nothing but conflict, imagined anger and threats. On the north side of the border, we have a leader who is constantly kissing ass with everyone he encounters regardless of their intentions or reputation. Approval ratings for both of these clowns are dropping every day with good reason. It’s too bad that people of talent and ability are no longer willing to subject themselves to the poisonous atmosphere of politics – only the narcissistic ego maniacs are willing to run. Perhaps we should be a bit more selective with our votes.

Simon Winchester is the person we all should have had as a history teacher. He takes one dimensional facts and information and turns them into living breathing books. I just finished reading Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers. Clearly one of the best books I’ve read this year, it is the third one of his I have thoroughly enjoyed. He has a knack for finding the story behind the facts and creating human interest in geological or political information. If you have followed me for any length of time, you know that I firmly believe that there is a story behind everything and that’s what makes life interesting. Winchester makes history, events and circumstances come alive with incredible research to reveal the causes and effects behind some of the biggest stories of our planet.

Given the scary threats and posturing currently unfolding around the Pacific (which covers 1/3 of the planet’s surface) I found that reading Pacific by Winchester was timely and gave me an excellent background on what is in the headlines today.


Last week we covered book publishing and compared self publishing to finding a traditional publisher. To find a publisher that will take your book to market and make you a New York Times bestselling author is a daunting task without some very unique elements. As we have noted, traditional publishers are only concerned with how many thousands of copies YOU can sell. In addition, if you land a publishing deal, you will sign over all the rights to your book and this is where the real value lies in having a book on the market. The publisher will decide on your cover, title, distribution avenues, foreign rights distribution, and any movie rights, etc. Sure, they will give you a percentage of compensation (small though it may be) but they OWN your book. If you don’t believe me, read a contract before you sign it. Any offers you receive from a publisher will be totally skewed in their favor. Don’t let your ego make the decision – use your intelligence to do what’s right for you.

Last week, and in my book about how to write a book, we covered the basics of self publishing and informed you about some of the resources available for making that happen. In essence, after writing your book and having it professionally edited, you would need to have a cover created, and learn how to create the layout, upload it, and most importantly, how to market your book. There is a steep learning curve for the first time author and you may be saying, “but I wrote the book, I don’t want to become some sort of business guru, I just want to write my next book.” There is an incredible alternative now available with some very real benefits that stay with you as an author – full ownership of all the book rights while having a professional, successful publishing organization behind you looking after the essential elements of creating a bestseller. I am going to introduce you to supported self publishing right after this week’s


With a string of hits in the 1950’s, Chuck Berry’s distinctive guitar solos and duck walk transformed rock and roll to the point that he was one the first honorees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Many of his songs have been covered by other performers including “Roll Over Beethoven” by The Beetles. He had a number of legal troubles through his life but without any doubt whatsoever, his influence on rock music changed music for generations. It was not him alone but he was a very powerful influence on the crossover of so-called, “black music” to mainstream.

Chuck Berry

Oct 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017


Kim Staflund is the publisher at Polished Publishing Group and has created this compelling presentation that you need to read – A Strong Case for Supported Self-Publishing] What Traditional Trade Publishers Don’t Want You to Know

Her company will take the work that you rely on a traditional publisher to do for you and let you retain all of the rights. She has done this for a number of bestselling authors and you will find loads of tips, ideas and examples on her website here. She and her team have the resources to take your book out of the bottom drawer of your desk and turn it into a bestselling book in both print and electronic format. If Hollywood comes calling, you retain all the rights and can negotiate on your own behalf instead of giving away those rights to the big publishing house. Lets face it, the reality of publishing is that no matter what you decide to do, YOU are responsible for book sales so why not get paid appropriately for your hard work. Just to let you know, I have not asked for and do not expect any compensation for recommending Polished Publishing Group. I simply think that first time authors should know their options when it comes to getting published and this is a good one.


Last week I touched on how I wrote my first book. I spent an hour every day at a local shopping mall with a coffee and a 3-ring binder in which I poured out my thoughts about hiking the West Coast Trail. One thing I learned was that an author never really finishes his book; he is always rewriting, finding things to change, correcting errors, rereading and finding more changes. For more information on this process, check this out. There comes a time however, when the writer has to put their fear aside (yes, it’s fear) and determine what’s next. At first I thought that I had corrected all the grammatical and spelling issues and so it was time to find a publisher.

A friend noticed a writing contest in a local newspaper and suggested that I submit, which I did. My manuscript was typed by me and put in an envelope and shipped off to a publishing house for a writing contest for adventure stories. I’ll be damned if I didn’t win second place! I sent a letter to see if they would be interested in publishing but they declined – heart broken. Now it was time to learn how to become an author.

Spell check in Word is not editing. Handing your manuscript to a friend or family member is not editing (unless they are a professional editor) and then hopefully they will also give you back an invoice – that’s how you can tell. If you want your hard work to see the light of day, an author must put on her business suit and become a marketing expert, salesperson, production expert, lawyer, accountant, printer, layout pro, professional speaker, tinker, tailor, soldier and spy. Let’s talk for a moment about the publishing industry.

Here’s the deal – no matter how good your book, if you have to look for a publisher, your chances of success are minuscule, at best. If the publishers come looking for you, offering big advances, then you have huge name recognition and recognition translates to profit and that is what publishing is all about. Period, end of story, so to speak. Walk into a bookstore – what are they selling? Gifts, cute little stuffed animals, TV watching blankets, cards, games, and a small selection of best selling authors or authors with huge name recognition value – think Obama, Oprah, even Trump. I know for a fact that none of those people are subscribers to this website, so let’s tell it like it is, but first, this week’s


From a musical point of view, I was very lucky to grow up in southwestern Ontario, sandwiched between Toronto and Detroit. Yonge St. in TO was the Canadian music mecca with places like Le Coq D’Or, The Brown Derby and many other venues featuring people like Bobby Curtola, David Clayton Thomas and Rompin’ Ronny Hawkins. Detroit had Motown. Waterloo had WLU, then Waterloo Lutheran University and now Wilfred Laurier University – nice how they didn’t have to change the sign. Friday nights would see some incredible music acts from both of those locations arrive in the gym for dances, yes dances, not concerts. Here’s a blast from Martha and the Vandellas that has been covered by many others – it hit #2 on the charts when released in 1964, written by Marvin Gaye. This will get your mojo going:

The traditional publishing companies are simply not an option for 99.9% of first time writers But what a wonderful world we live in because there are options that you really need to explore after you hire a professional editor. There are associations in most locales for professional editors, many of whom will work online without the need for meeting personally – check them out. And there are very legitimate options in self publishing and assisted self publishing for you to look into.

The biggest book retailer in the world is Amazon and every author who has even the slightest idea of getting their manuscript out of the bottom drawer of their desk needs to learn about publishing on Amazon and CreateSpace. If you are ready to put on your hard hat and do much of the work of publishing yourself, then this is the major route to take. They are incredibly professional and have amazing resources available if you are prepared to take the time to learn.

I would suggest that you spend some time on Smashwords, an aggregator that makes your book available on all of today’s major retail sites like Kobo, Barnes and Noble, I-Tunes, libraries, and more. Explore the many resources that they offer for editors, cover designers, uploaders, etc. Set up an account and read their blog suggestions for self publishing your book.

Do you think that self publishing is a second class option like the publishing industry would have you believe? Here’s a list of your fellow authors who began by self publishing:

  • David Chilton – The Wealthy Barber. …
  • James Redfield – The Celestine Prophecy. …
  • K.A Tucker – Ten Tiny Breaths. …
  • Michael J. Sullivan – The Riyria Chronicles. …
  • H.M Ward – Damaged. …
  • Barbara Freethy – Daniel’s Gift. …
  • Lisa Genova – Still Alice. …
  • Amanda Hocking.
  • and E.L. James – Fifty Shades of Grey – a book that my wife and daughter have told me I’m not allowed to read for some reason.

There is also a brilliant option now available called assisted self publishing in which you retain all the rights to your book (no, you don’t in traditional publishing). I will cover this in more detail next week but in the meantime, go here and read this information from Polished Publishing Group.