Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Meager Publishing Experiences/Wisdom

Publish America has received some very bad press and not all of it is justified. However, some of it is.
The good things:
I got my fist book published.
There was no cost to me.
I learned valuable lessons:
- The writer is the first and most important editor. Trust no one else with this task lightly.
It's so important it bears repeating.
- The writer is the first and most important editor. Trust no one else with this task lightly.
- It provided me with a real life publishing experience that I didn’t have to wait for years to have.
The book is available and does have good qualities.
They did do everything they said they would, unfortunately for some authors this has not been the case.

The not so good things:
It won’t be in bookstores no matter how hard you try (I believe). I was shocked to find out (because they never told me) that bookstores (at least in Canada) get a five percent discount on the books. This doesn’t cover shipping, so they can’t/won't bring the books in.
Authors outside of the US are at a disadvantage because Publish America won’t accept returns from other countries.
There is confusion about whether Publish America is a vanity press. It’s not in the sense that it doesn't charge fees, but it is POD.
Publish America does not have good author support.
There are many disgruntled Publish America authors because they feel they should have received more. This might be true.
Note: I did look this company up with the Better Business Bureau and what they said is that this new company has had no more startup problems than any other new company has. They have actively dealt with issues that have arisen. A further note: issues on the web tend to be written in stone, one disgruntled individual can seem to knock around forever, stirring things up. There are a half a dozen people who have been so angry and frustrated that they’ve posted on many different forums – and still do.
They should have two departments and don’t. They should have one department that accepts only serious manuscripts with a solid support staff for these authors. The second department should be for those people who have a very small audience – like family and friends – who never intend to be serious authors.
Further Note: If I ever publish with Publish America again, I would not bother with their editing department. They failed miserably at this task (spell check, and not even a good job at that). I should have never let them touch the manuscript.
As a Publish America author, you are a part of a very large group of writers, many of whom are mediocre at best. (I may be one of those, but you can decide that for yourself.) Because they do not have high standards for acceptance, it affects the reputation of all other authors published under their name.

How to decide:
If you’re a serious author and have high expectations, don’t choose Publish America for your book. There is little support, cover prices are set high, there is little respect from the writing community (though few of these critics form part of your readership), and there is no exposure in stores or promotions that you don’t organize yourself. However, this has been a good learning experience. I’m finished my second novel and working on the final draft. This is probably true only because I’ve been through the experience once and have learned some meaningful things about the publishing industry. I wouldn’t have any experience if my book was still a manuscript under the bed.
If you have a cookbook, a book of poems, a family heirloom, or anything that is not mainstream literature, this might be a good option that does not cost anything.

One other lesson:
Never before published authors don’t realize that a publishing or agent contract is a two way street. They might be eager to publish and any cost. Becoming a published author should not cost you your reputation or your bank account. There are many publishers and agents who have few scruples. Learn about the industry and what the standards should be and do not enter a contract that is not going to serve you well.

I got a lot from having been published. I AM an author - something I didn’t really believe I could do before. That by itself has been worth it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Birthday

Several days ago (prior to my birthday) I was kicked in the head by a nasty virus. Once it got me down it decided to bash me into the curb until every muscle in my body ached.

Then it was my birthday. :) I can tell you that it was quiet and relaxing during the times when I wasn't trying to choke up a lung.

Things progressed as you might expect. The nasty thing migrated from one sinus cavity to another, then to the throat where it used its heavy artillery and now it sits heavily in my chest where every cough threatens exit through the top of my skull.

Yesterday was an auspicious day (depending on your definition of luck). The morning was about to begin. I woke and made the call to work, letting them know I wouldn’t be there. It was then that my daughter came upstairs informing me that there was a flood in the basement.

Naturally, I went down there to assess the situation and since the lagoon has been a problem in the past, I started there. My brother came over with an ice auger and we crossed the fence onto the snow-covered surface of the sewage-filled hole. The snow was only few inches deep and it didn’t take long to scrape it down to the green tinted ice below.

We got to work immediately and before long, there was a growing pile of ice shavings. Even these gave off the same odor that you would expect from any open sewer line.

Fifteen minutes later and through eighteen inches of ice, we hit water. I satisfying, yet perplexing result. The problem was not at the lagoon.

I arrived in the house to discover the house had begun its normal routine. Maybe they thought I had solved the problem or possibly, it was a response similar to turning lights on during a power outage. My daughter was the unfortunate one for the second time that morning. While earlier she had gotten her socks wet, now with shoes on she expected to avoid any unpleasantness. She did not know that the water was now significantly higher and the shoes she chose were inadequate. She had some choice words and I doubt that I would have responded any differently.

I arrived in the house to chaos only a panic strickened household can create. The problem that had seemed a minor one was quickly getting out of hand and I did not have to suggest that everyone in the house should stop using water.

The next step was to go to town. I needed a wet/dry vacuum cleaner and an auger that I could run down the pipe to see if I could clear the blockage or figure out what it was. By the time I arrived home, it was after noon and the house was beginning to smell as badly as you might expect.

The first task was clean up some of the standing water, which had now begun to soak into furniture. That task took some time and by two o’clock, I was threading the snake into the cleanout.

By three, two things were obvious. The clog wasn’t in or near the house.

I’ve never made an insurance claim before, but this impossible mess got me thinking about that. Wendy got on the phone to our insurance provider, who immediately reprimanded her for not calling sooner.

After an afternoon of being on the phone, all the wheels were finally in motion. The insurance adjuster had arrived, a cleanup crew was on its way and the backhoe was pulling into the driveway. It looked like some kind of strange house party, but not one you want to be having.

It’s morning now and the basement is almost gutted. I’m at home... still sick. I’m going back to bed now.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Newspaper Article

The Omineca Express in Vanderhoof British Columbia is featuring me and my novel. Look for the story on page two in the February 7th issue. Look for a copy of that story on this site soon after!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Banderman Odyssey

The Banderman Odyssey has been released - on my daughter's birthday, no less. It is available from the publisher or from Amazon. In the case of Amazon, make sure you pick the right country to order from. It's doing very well and has spent a lot of time over the last month in the top ten best sellers of the all of the the books in print from the publisher. That means that when it was #6, it was 6 out of 18,000. I thought that was pretty good for an unknown author.

If you're local and know me, I can get a signed copy for you. You can be local in two places - the Salem Oregon area or the Vanderhoof British Columbia area.

check out the website:
email me for the book:

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Higher Power Stepping In?

We do a ton of things while we’re in college, but we hope things will just fall into place when we have all that education behind us. More often than not, I suppose, it doesn’t – fall into place.

All during my university years I’d come home to warm welcomes and since the superintendent was once my principal he was always telling me how loyal the district was and how much he was looking forward to seeing me on staff. One practicum was at the local high school. I was lucky enough (not) to work under a controlling woman who at one point stated that she was my future employer because without her good comments no one would hire me.

Interestingly enough the vindictive hag did have some impact on my career, but it was relatively short lived.

When I returned from school that summer the principal of the high school that I’d hoped to teach at was gone on holidays. I didn’t see him until he showed up to get pictures developed at the one-hour lab that I worked at as a summer job. I knew that there was an opening at the school and as far as I knew, it had not yet been filled. You can imagine my surprise and disappointment when he made the announcement there and then that the job had indeed been filled and by someone I might know. (You need to understand that my majors were in theatre and geography and this job had those very needs. If there was such an opportunity to support a local boy, there would have been none better.)

Of course, I was disgruntled. I spoke with the superintendent, who informed me that he was not the one who did the hiring. Then I spoke with the principal and challenged him. He claimed that he knew what my teaching was like, though he had never been in my classroom (the jerk), and as far as he was concerned, had made the best decision. Since I had a little saved up (from an investment that I’d made from what was left of my lottery winnings, which I used to put myself through university) I decided to go to Montreal with my wife who was born there.

Off I went.

After arriving, the school board informed me that there were no teaching jobs available and there was no use applying for substitute-teaching work either, as those too, were full time positions in Quebec and were all filled up.

It didn’t take long to use up the funds I had available and as things became more and more dire, I began to worry. It didn’t help that the wife was a high-strung French woman who was more prone to yelling than helping.

And this is where the job story starts.

My wife told me about a temporary jobs from a place called Express. I didn’t know too much about such things, but the bottom line was that I could get daily work. All I had to do was show up. So at 9:00 the next morning I arrived at the door to see 50 people in line. I made my way to the office window and after some time made myself understood to the French woman behind the counter. She informed me that if I wanted to guarantee myself work each day, I’d have to be there when the office opened. I took my seat and waited along with everyone else. The hours trickled by and at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon I was called with a group of others. We were told to meet back at the office at 3:00 and a van would pick us up, where we’d go out to a work site. “Dress warm”, she said, because we’d be working in a refrigerated room.

I a drove home - a 45-minute drive – got my stuff and was back in plenty of time. Again, we waited. Finally, around 5:00 the van showed up and we were hauled across town to a vegetable packing plant where we chopped vegetables until 11:00 that night. There was no van to take us home when we were done, but we were able to catch the last bus and I arrived back home at 2:00 in the morning.

A guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. I slept a bit and then was back in the car by 4:30. I got to Express in plenty of time and was one of the first in line when the office opened. The lady could see that I was willing and ready to work, but she was disappointed at the clothes I chose to wear that day. “If only you’d brought a pair of boots”, she said with some disappointment. “If you had a pair of boots, I could put you to work all week.”

“They’re in my truck”, I replied excitedly. The idea of working for a week was mouth watering.

"You have a truck?" she stated even more impressed. Apparently she wasn't used to such high class clientelle.

An hour later I found myself at a pressed board finishing factory. It was my job to unwrap bundles of raw pressboard and keep the area clean. I was working alongside an eighteen year old.

We worked hard that day and the next. The boss came by to inform me that he was moving me up to the line – an unheard of promotion for an Express employee. He confided that usually Express employees were given jobs where they could neither hurt themselves or damage the product since most of them were druggies and drunks.

In the next few days I was advanced several more times, until one day the supervisor approached me. He broke the sad news and stated that he wasn’t allowed to promote employees hired from Express. Without further ado, the eighteen year-old took my place and I took up a broom once more. My new job was to clean the debris from around the equipment and sweep the floors of the entire complex. I got right on it.

The week passed and they requested that I work there again the following week. It would be the last week, as working any longer would mean that I would need to become a union member and since it was against the rules to hire from the Express pool, I was soon to be history.

That day, as I was working, contemplating my bleak future, but working hard nonetheless, a tall man in a dark perfectly creased suit passed by. I smiled and off he went on his way. Later that day, he returned. “You know”, he said, “these floors have been swept many times, but this may be the first time they’ve ever been swept. You know I started the way you are now. If you keep this up, one day you’ll be where I am.”

I have to admit that my thoughts were somewhat sarcastic. After all, I did have a teaching degree.

Later that day the supervisor called into the office. He wanted to know why a guy like me, with a bachelors of education, was working for Express? Well I told my story and you’ve heard it already. Then he confided, though it was policy not to hire workers from Express, there would be a job for me at the end of the week.

Now you would think that this is the perfect ending to the story, but it does get better.

I returned to work and was quickly moved along the line until finally I was running the stacker. Then one day the supervisor called me into his office once more. He said, “You know, my wife is a principal and I know for a fact that there is teaching work out there. Let me see what I can do.”

A day or two slipped by when I was interrupted to take a phone call. It was a principal from one of the local schools. “You know,” he said, “I have a job and I think it would be perfect for you.” He then went on to describe the teaching position which was a limited duration position that would start in January and end in April. It was November at the time. He paused at the end as if not knowing how to say good-bye and then went on, “Now I know I’m shooting myself in the foot, but I know of other position and it starts right now and goes to the end of the year.”

He gave me a number to call, which I did immediately. I wasn’t sure about much other than to go directly after work to the school board office downtown Montreal. I told the man that I’d be coming from work and in less than ideal attire for an interview, but it made no difference to him.
I arrived at the board office more aware than ever of my foul stench. I spoke briefly to the secretary and then was escorted to what I was soon to find out was the superintendent’s office. Asit turns out, he was most impressed with the story he’d heard. Of course, the only way he’d heard it is through the grapevine from supervisor, to wife, and so on and so on.

He invited me back for a further interview the next day; it was to meet the teacher I’d be working with. As it turns out, the teacher and I got along very well and I began my new job teaching for the Montreal public school system the next day.

Although that is the end of the story, I hope that you are amazed at the series of events that took place and the number of individual who knew nothing of me, yett helped me anyway.

The story didn’t quite end there. I did have further problems getting work in my hometown. Apparently, one of the assistant superintendents was closely involved with the hag who promised me her ill will. I returned to Vanderhoof after having applied for numerous jobs (I had gotten myself on the mailing list at the board office). I spoke with the new superintendent and she wanted to know why I waited so long to apply for work. I explained that I had applied for many jobs and had sent in my resume with each application. Hmmm. How can that possibly be...

Regardless, I was hired by summer’s end and still work in my hometown.

More on War - How about Peace?

It sounds to me like the UN needs slightly more power. Veto should not be an option. If the UN's job is to solve conflict, you don't allow the warring parties to veto. The US shouldn't have more influence in the UN because it invests more money. That’s like letting the rich kid rule the nest.

Of course it’s not working. Power needs to be yielded to a group where every member agrees to the same kinds of solutions.

Countries need to agree that one body will determine the direction of peacekeeping. The decisions made should be based on a set of rules and then apply those rules worldwide. All countries need to be involved in supporting the peacekeeping process working.

A country that invades another is wrong –simply wrong. Period. No exceptions.

In the case of Iraq, Saddam made promise after promise and ignored each directive. He was wrong. Simple.

But when the British and the US invaded, together, yet without the support of the rest of the world, they were in the wrong. They were acting as vigilantes.

Canada was also in the wrong. When it had the opportunity it should have supported the cause, as should have everyone else. It was time.

The correct thing to do is to unite countries to stand against crimes against peace. It is not a war when the teacher steps in. It is not a war when the world acts as one to correct a problem before it escalates.

What’s going on in Iraq is still perceived as children squabbling because it is not the US’s right, whether it can or not, to usurp the power and influence of the rest of the countries.

Again, imagine if the richest and most powerful kid ran the classroom and was able to control the actions and decisions of the teacher. It doesn’t make any sense and is certainly not going to be a sound practice.

To remake a point from above, the United Nations has to operate in a workable and responsible manner. It has to command the confidence of the world and all countries need an equal share in decision making regardless of wealth or their size.

Friday, January 19, 2007

World Conflict Simplified

Is it a question of escalation?

Let’s put it in context.
As a teacher, I often deal with these kinds of issues and frankly, I prefer using the classroom as an example of human interaction to my family. With 24 – 30 kids to deal with, I see and deal with a wider variety of issues.

I think we need to have some ideals. Let’s agree, for the sake of argument that:
1) people are good (which puts someone like Saddam in a whole different category. There is no excuse for genocide.)
2) people want to protect themselves.
3) people will act on their beliefs.

You have to buy one idea more. Kids experience frustration and anger for the same reasons that everyone else does.

What causes a conflict in a classroom?
a) a right seems to be infringed upon
b) an action is misconstrued
c) a pre-determination is made about the other party’s motive or interest.
d) Others?

I have found that in only a few cases (and these few cases represent those kids that you worry will grow up to be ax murders) kids are not mean. They express needs that they cannot meet – however ineffectually.

If you buy all of this, I would like to say that adults are like little children. The greater our fear that we will loose rights, freedoms or property, the greater our capacity to behave like children. We throw problem-solving skills out the window. We are not concerned about why there is conflict. We want to retaliate. Our first step is to position ourselves politically and then if that fails we leap right to step two - all out war.

And like children, there is no figuring out who was right or wrong at the end of it. We pick up the pieces and carry on.

If you listen to two children who you’ve pulled apart, each will know exactly why they are in battle. They know exactly what the other did. Usually, they cannot express what it is that they did to get them there.

My solution has been to discover where the conflict became unacceptable. Conflict is normal. It is only the outcome that determines whether it has been acceptable or not. That moment is the first act of aggression. That’s it.

Kid number one called a name, broke a pencil, pulled some hair. Kid number two retaliated. They are both wrong. I make it perfectly clear to each kid where it was that he or she went wrong and we go from there.

What role does the teacher play? Big brother? Do we have an organization that is supposed to deal with these kinds of issues on the world’s stage? I think we do. The United Nations?

This is why countries should not unilaterally invade other countries. In the world playground, countries are kids trying to bash out solutions to their problems. It didn’t work when we were kids. It won’t work now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

From Whence came the Wench?

The wench we had, to us was lent.
A courier came and requested rent.
But sad to say, the rent, we'd spent.
And far worse still, we’d shared the wench.

How could we know she would be queen,
Betrothed to Harry Mold, a king?
Who said our limbs he’d gladly rent
If we did not return his wench.

King Harry came, and well prepared.
He found our gate in disrepair.
Aligned beneath the cot we cowered,
While the keep, king Harry scoured.

He found us all beneath the bed,
Then saw his wench and shook his head.
He called her out and out she came,
Disheveled hair, a happy dame.

He would not take his wench that way,
So his betrothed he chose to slay.
A bribe we tried, without success,
Since rent was owed… but I digress.

The drawbridge winch was severely broke,
And from it he removed some rope.
A watchman’s bench stood closely by.
Up she went and then let fly.

And so her grave became the trench.
We’re sorry now, there was no wrench.

Friday, January 12, 2007

One Damn Cold Winter

Let me tell you about BC.I remember back in ’95. That’d be 1995 for you older folk who might be under the impression that I’m speaking about a time long before yours. (You read this with an old timer’s drawl like I’m some old fart who only has a few lucid moments and those only now and again). Anyway, it was October. The fall was rainy and that prevented me from getting my wood in. I had an old 4X4 Ford Ranger, 1987, but the tires were getting bald and it was easier to get around when the mud wasn’t as slick as a freshly dropped ice cream sandwich. (Don’t ask why I didn’t get my wood in during the summer. I have no excuse for that, other than the fact that I was an idiot.) So the wood wasn’t in and I didn’t get it in.The months passed and the snow continued to fall. Winter piled up outside and what there was of a woodpile steadily diminished. No worries though, Christmas was coming.When I was a kid, my mom would sometimes ask me, “what are ya doing... waiting for Christmas?” That was when we were kids and though I’ve always been a procrastinator, up until then the answer had always been no. This year, however, I was most certainly waiting for Christmas.Lest you have forgotten, I will remind you that I am a teacher. We are a fortunate lot and so I bided my time and stretched the wood as far as it would go, waiting for Christmas.Christmas came that year and it was ushered in with the coldest temperatures that I can remember (-45C). For those of you more familiar to Fahrenheit, that would be -50F. Let me tell you that it was crazy cold. I wore long johns, jeans, my snow pants, a pair of coveralls and a winter jacket after that, one over the other and still I could feel the cold all the way though. Let me say that I did as little as I could outdoors. But chores still had to be done.The Christmas holidays trickled by. The truck (which was a diesel) sat frozen in the driveway. It had more sense than I did. I waited for as long as I could.On January 1st, with only a few days from having to return to the classroom, I could wait no longer. There was no wood left in the shed and the whether had still not let up. Thankfully it had warmed to a balmy -35C and I set about coaxing the truck out of its hibernation. It was none too pleased and the most I could get out of it was a slow idle. The situation was dire, and so dressed in my getup and piled into the driver’s seat with the seat back as far as it would go. In this way I was able to get my legs, with all of the extra padding, under the steering wheel. And off I went.The truck never did get over an idle and that was just as well. I’d been in a vehicle once when the cold wind reduced the engine temperature so much that the car wouldn’t run at all. The solution was to drive in low gear with high rpms. That wasn’t a problem today. I could develop neither speed nor rpms. Thankfully the truck puttered along.In the early afternoon I reached my destination and left the truck running while I sawed up enough wood to fill it high above the racks. It gets dark at 3:00 in the afternoon and so I puttered home in the pitch black night with the temperature steadily dropping.My parents met me in town, worried sick that I was stranded out on some logging road, but other than that, the whole adventure was uneventful.I know you were hoping there’d be some sort of climax, and there was. I got home and filled up our wood stove, opened the damper right up and celebrated by heating the house as hot as that fire would make it – chimney fire be d**mned. The house didn’t burn down and I didn’t run out of wood again until spring.The Truth.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Banderman Odyssey - Progress!!

The Banderman Odyssey is only a couple of weeks from being available to the public. It's been a long process and a hard wait. Of course the only way to make the process of waiting easier is to busy yourself with something else. This is just a way to suggest temporarily forgetting about whatever it is that is so exciting.

Oh well, the waiting is nearly over and whether I've waited with patience or not, it has not eased the excitement, anticipation and fear of what is about to happen.

A book will arrive on the market. Some will choose to purchase it, others will want to for no other reason than it is my first. I thank you!

Will you like it? Of course you will! Tell me all about it regardless. In a couple of weeks it will be available for order from any bookstore, and from You can also request a copy from me. Keep an eye on my website for further information about this -