The Post Beta Round-Up: The Human Template

My first experience with sending a novel out to beta readers was a resounding success. My Process
In September, I finished the fourth draft of my novel, The Human Template, and decided it was ready for beta readers. After comparing prices for different print processes, I discovered it was less expensive to get the manuscript published as a POD book than as bound or even unbound manuscript pages. I had a hunch that the more professional it looked, the more seriously people would take it – increasing their likelihood of reading it. The way everything unfolded reinforced that suspicion.(Read my full post about the production of beta copies). My Team
Initially I approached eight official beta readers, but several of the people who had read the ms earlier in the process requested hardcopies when available and followed through by answering all my Beta Reader questions. Several random people who saw the POD copies asked to read the book. And a few others came along at some point during the proce…

The Era of Object Impermanence

I can tell time by standing on a street corner about a kilometre from my house and watching buses. I know which buses go by and at what time.Disrupt that schedule by blocking off a single street on any of the bus routes, and it throws off the clock. Knock two of the eight buses off schedule, and it starts tearing into the fabric of reality. Just by living our daily lives, we allow ourselves to become creatures of routine – thus relieving ourselves of the responsibility of thinking on our feet. The tiniest changes in our routines create stresses far disproportionate to their size creating a ripple; a butterfly effect. 
Imagine; a cut on my toe slows down my pace so I get to the bus stop late. I miss my bus and don’t make the connections. Starting out five minutes late gets me to work twenty minutes late. The ensuing agitation ripples through the day and results in my firing a staff member who is in Canada on a working visa and the lack of work forces them to go back to their country of …

A Good Non-Fiction Read

Tachyon Press just released Peter Watts is an Angry Sentient Tumor.  It’s a collection of non-fiction pieces; primarily posts from his always fascinating and entertaining “No Moods, Ads, or Cutesy Fucking Icons” blog or “The Crawl,” as he sometimes calls it. Gives me hope that people are still reading blogs at all – although hardly any of us are as outrageous as Mr. Watts. 

If you’re an occasional follower of this blog who is unfamiliar with Watts' colorful and outspoken opinions – the best way to catch up is by picking up a copy of this book – and then joining his legion of followers directly at The other best ways to enjoy Peter’s company are a)booking him for a speaking engagement b)inviting him for dinner; he is a closet hedonist, so, depending on the menu, he just might accept (in which case you are strongly advised to also invite his wife Caitlin so that you’re assured someone is at least holding his leash)

Peter Watts is the most engaging provocateur…

Far From Alone in the Universe (Writing Life)

A Reflection on the Writing Life
Writing is, truly as well as stereotypically, a lonely job; fiction writing at any rate, since writing for electronic media is generally collaborative; scripts can’t reach their intended audiences until they go through processes that involve performers, producers, directors, clients, managers and other stakeholders. But I also wonder if writers were ever quite as lonely as we fancy ourselves. When I look honestly at my ‘writing career,’ I realize that I have always sought out ‘community’ on some level.
As a high school/university student I never really found ‘my people,’ either in the fan  or the writing community at the University of Victoria. A few of my creative writing profs were encouraging and sympathetic, especially W.D. Valgardson, Charles Lillard and Cherie Thiessen - even though none of them shared my passion for literature of the fantastic. I made a few friends on campus, mostly while finishing my degree as a part time student. The writing its…

What Good Are the Keys to the Kingdom Once the Locks Have Been Changed?

Power is the grail, the advantage, the force that propels us to greatness. In real life as in fiction, the quest for power is the driving force behind most action and interaction; the hidden agenda of which no one speaks, but which engages the mind and sharpens the focus and closes the fist. Power comes in many guises; boundless riches; irresistible good looks; fame enough to command respect; the political clout to see your will be done; the power to part the sea and split the sky. So often out of reach; irrevocably fleeting; never quite real, even when you lift the cup and drink its blessings.

What is power exactly? 1)The freedom to do what you want, when you want 2)Control over others; the means to make them do what you want

Physical strength made men the keepers of the keys – with a monopoly on power throughout recorded history, so much so that true matriarchal societies are considered myth. ‘White’ men have held the keys since the ‘Age of Discovery’ enabled European colonialism to loc…

Producing Beta Copies

Weighing the Options
At first it seemed extravagant to me to print beta copies of my novel in mass market paperback format. In fact, though, it was one of the most economical and practical options.
Most of my beta readers stated a preference for a hard copy version of the ms. The cheapest way to do that would have been to print it on my home printer, but the manuscript is over 100 double-sided pages and I need a minimum of 12 copies. 1200 pages is the capacity of a standard printer cartridge at 60 dollars. And when the wear and tear on the printer is added in – it’s quite a job for a home printer. There are plenty of additional costs. I don’t own a spiral binding machine and they start at $170. The plastic binders themselves would add another $20. And the cost of shipping would be considerably more than shipping a 6 by 9 inch book. The DIY method might have been cheaper if I invested 10 or 12 hours shopping around. But if I calculate the labour at our provincial minimum wage of $15 hour…

Getting a Handle on Twitter

Maybe it’s because I’m an antisocial writer-type (although some writers seem to be naturals on Twitter), but I have had trouble from the beginning getting traction on the network.
I finally posted about it to #WriterCommunity, expressing my frustration about doing everything right (as far as I could tell) but still failing to generate much feedback or engagement.
A few others responded to my plaintive post by suggesting that engaging with other peoples’ posts was probably the best way to get the kind of feedback I was after. I had just been experiencing that very phenomenon, so (for once) understood exactly what they were saying. And they’re right.
Up until days ago, I had been approaching Twitter as a writer/aspiring guru for younger writers – expecting an audience and getting disappointed when that audience didn’t materialize.
But in fact, the answer was in front of me the whole time – embedded in the hashtag for crying out loud! #WritersCommunity.
Engagement is not preaching or laying…