My 2015 writing year in review

MeBall_IMG_0008This is my 2015 writing year in review.

You may want to read this for the following reasons:

– to see what I’ve tried in an attempt to promote my novels.

– to feel better about yourself because there’s someone less successful than you are.

January 2015

– I self-published FOREST – Love, Loss, Legend, as both an e-book on Smashwords and as an e-book and paperback on Amazon. I promoted the release on my website, blog, Twitter and sent about 200 personal emails to people who had expressed an interest in my work.

– My publisher released the paperback version of NOT WONDER MORE – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.

March 2015

– I launched my video book review channel, Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Book Reviews on YouTube. These are reviews free from conflict of interest – not paid for, not swapped, not familiar in anyway. On it I review new work by self-published authors. Reviews are linked to Twitter and cover art is posted on my Pin Interest Page.

July 2015

– I began negotiating the release of two of my novels, Spirit Bear and Eagleridge Bluffs from my publisher as the contract had expired.



– I re-issued both these books on Smashwords as e-books and as e-books and paperbacks on Amazon independently and under slightly different titles: SAVING SPIRIT BEAR and LOVING THE TERRORIST – Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs. Both were re-issued that month as paperbacks and the e-books were re-issued as pre-orders. Saving Spirit Bear was out two months, and Loving the Terrorist out three. Both were offered at a special pre-order price of 99¢ as opposed to $3.99.

These re-issues were promoted on my blog, website, Twitter, BookLikes, Promocave, and about 200 personal emails were sent to people who have expressed an interest in my work.


– I entered my new novel, The Widower, into the Kindle Scout promotion. This was also promoted on my blog, website, Twitter, BookLikes, Promocave, and about 200 personal emails were sent to people who have expressed an interest in my work.


In an ongoing effort to produce clean and uncontaminated e-books I’m learning to purge corrupt formatting from my manuscripts with the help of Mark and his team at Smashwords. This is a result of reading so many poorly formatted books published by indie authors and not wanting my readers to get as exasperated as I do.

The first couple of times are frustrating but with a little (okay, a lot) of patience you too can learn to do this. You owe it to your books and your readers. Download a free copy of Smashwords Sytle Guide by Mark Coker at

I decided to try a Goodreads Giveaway. Until January 8, 2016, you can enter to win two paperback copies of both Saving Spirit Bear and Loving the Terrorist. Here are the links:

The Widower has been re-named ABANDONED DREAMS and is now available on Smashwords and Amazon as a pre-order e-book, especially priced at 99¢ until it’s release March 6, 2016. Here’s the link:*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I’m also giving away 100 e-books of The BIG PICTURE – A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic on LibraryThing. You can enter until January 26, 2016 at*Version*=1&*entries*=0

In addition, I’ve written 35 blogs (36 counting this one) and 52 book reviews.

What do I have to show for all the above?

– Royalties of $15.13 (and before you get all excited that’s Canadian, equivalent to 73¢ US)

– Blog followers 57, up maybe 5 this year

– BookLikes followers 288, up maybe 50 this year (friendly bunch)

– Promocave friends 6. All new and I don’t know where they came from since I don’t follow or friend anyone – though I do respond to comments.

I think you can safely say that nothing I’ve attempted has worked. Does that mean all these things – blogging, tweeting, networking, having a platform, pre-ordering, contests, voodoo (is that politically incorrect?) won’t work for you?

Probably, but not necessarily.

So, how do I feel about the past year?

Surprisingly, good.

The key, at least for me is to love what you do and have no expectations. And take satisfaction from small things like all my five of my novels now being available to borrow from the Vancouver Public Library, plus a couple (and I do mean two) absolutely glowing (blush) reviews that were unsolicited, came out of nowhere, written by perfect (yes, to me you’re perfect) strangers.

Look at it this way, in 2016 there’s nowhere to go but up.

You think?

Stay calm. Be brave. Watch for the signs.






Lucky – a harsh look at a hopeless situation

FrostHeaves2_IMG_0338Ani is a photojournalist, back from an assignment in Iraq and suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. She’s got a book deal for photos she took while in Fallujah if she can ever sober up and sort out all the images she shot.

Ani is also haunted by the disappearance of Viva, her guide, interpreter and friend during her time in the Middle East.

Ani’s publisher introduces her to Levi in hopes he can encourage her to face her demons by getting to work on the book. Levi is a journalist who has covered the same beat as Ani and could perhaps provide empathy for her and text for the photos.

Author Kathryn Para skillfully weaves the past – Ani’s last assignment that took her to Fallujah, with the present – her deteriorating mental condition as a result of what happened there.

When Para recounts the past she uses the third person, for the present she uses the first person, a technique that works very well.

As the story unfolds it becomes apparent the key to Ani’s past and the salvation for her future are in the box of images she took in Fallujah, the ones she can’t bear to look at.

Lucky is a harsh story. Nothing good apparently has ever happened to Ani – her mother was bi-polar and was killed along with her father when their vehicle was hit by a fully loaded logging truck on an icy road. Her older brother is also dead. She can’t seem to have fulfilling relationships. Even her cat runs away.

The events she witnesses in Iraq and Syria are horrific. The people she meets duplicitous.

This reader had some difficulty understanding Ani’s motivation to become an imbedded photojournalist with the mujahidin defending Fallujah against the American assault. It seemed like a suicide mission – if she isn’t killed by American bombs and artillery, she’d likely be killed be the mujahidin as a spy or simply because she’s an infidel.

And for what, more photos of innocents suffering in the Middle East?

There also were a few significant instances of what I would consider author intrusion in the story. One where a folk tale is told by an old woman in great detail and at great length for no apparent reason, and another of a trip to Egypt where the same is repeated about Temple of Amun at Karak. Both these instances did not develop character or advance the plot and seemed to serve no purpose other than for the author to expound her knowledge of Syrian mythology and Egyptian antiquity.

There also were times when the author appeared to try too hard with her imagery and diction rejecting an appropriate word or phrase and reaching for something more original. Rather than enhance the narrative these too clever odd word pairings gave me pause and pulled me out of the reading experience.

When I finished this novel I was reminded of a quote by Anne Lamott in her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

“There’s no point writing hopeless novels. We all know we’re going to die; what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.”

Though well conceived and constructed, and for the most part very well written, Lucky by Kathryn Para is just that, a hopeless novel.





Goodreads giveaway – ever the optimist

trinityangel copyTwo pre-order promotions for the re-issues of Saving Spirit Bear – What Price Success? and Loving the Terrorist – Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs, plus the Kindle Scout nomination promotion for The Widower, and, don’t forget, the corresponding blogs and tweets – it’s been a busy three months.

What do I have to show for it? One sale.

Ever the optimist I have uploaded The Widower to both Smashwords and Amazon as a pre-order which will be released March 6, 2016. That gives you plenty of time after paying your Holiday bills to save up 99¢ for this e-book.

I’m not sure about the wisdom of such a long pre-order period but since when did wisdom factor into anything I do regarding writing?

If you don’t think you can afford it (and, let’s face it, you haven’t before) you might

want to visit these sites and enter my Goodreads giveaway for two each of the above mentioned books as paperbacks.

Contest ends January 8, 2016

I haven’t tried Goodreads before because their giveaways are only for actual books and I’ve been too cheap to offer up the books and pay the postage – which is like adding insult to injury in my opinion.

What’s changed? Did I suddenly come into a windfall?

Goodreads claims they’re the largest site for readers and book recommendations and that 40,000 people enter their giveaways everyday.

Four books x 40,000 views x 30 days … let’s just say I’m curious as to how many people actually request my books.

Watch for my year end blog coming soon entitled A Year of Futility.

Stay Calm, Be Brave, Watch for the Signs.