Archive | December, 2013

Book Proposal – Part One

31 Dec
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

Right. We’re in a period of profound change in the publishing industry. Self-publishing and easy e-book creation have changed the landscape. Yet traditional publishing still exists, and so the book proposal remains a valuable device. It is both a business proposal to a publisher to consider your book AND a means for you to take a disciplined approach to planning your book before you ever start writing.

The image is the rudimentary cover for the advanced version of my original proposal. It proved to be a bit of a false start, but was a valuable learning experience nonetheless. The title of ONE was intended to reflect the concept that men and women have grown apart from one another in modern society. I thought I could write from the primary theme that we needed to collectively come together in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. A positive perspective, but one which I ultimately couldn’t make work. The image was intended to reflect this image of gender narcissism traits that I use in the current book:

(c) 2013 The Author, All Rights Reserved. Non-profit re-blogging of entire post permitted.

(c) 2013 The Author, All Rights Reserved. Non-profit re-blogging of entire post permitted.

From what I could learn on the internet, book proposals generally range between 20 to 50 pages in length, and typically are around 25-30 pages. Now imagine that you are a traditional publisher. How much would you appreciate a writer who sent you 30 pages as opposed to one who sent you a 300 page manuscript? Your reading has been reduced by an order of magnitude, and, as we will see, you get far more useful information.

The format that I used (I suppose this can vary a bit, depending upon whose advice you read) was simple:

1. Overview (If you don’t hook them in the 1st 3 sentences, forget it.)
2. Sales Objective (If you aren’t going to make them money, why would they publish you?)
3. Marketing/Promotion/Platform (It takes far more work to sell a book than it does to write it. You have to show that you know this and are committed.)
4. About the Author (Who are you? What sort of person are you? Will readers find you interesting, even if you’re “ordinary”?)
5. List of Book’s Chapters (You have to have a plan, and it had better be a good one! Here you show your word budget for each chapter as well.)
6. Chapter-by-Chapter Summaries (A Readers’ Digest version of your planned or written book. Show that you have A PLAN and are a disciplined thinker and writer.)
7. Sample Chapter (If they like what they have see so far, now they get to see if they like your writing. Typically not the introduction or the first chapter.)

I intend to do a post for each part of the proposal using what I actually wrote for ONE, except the sample chapter.

You’ll note that I wrote this proposal in 2010. The filename shows that it was version 4.5. I actually didn’t start the first functional draft of my current book until August 2012. It took me two years-plus to wrap my head around exactly how to go about writing what eventually will become the two books of The Mirror. By the end of Book Two, I will have developed a sort of social theory of everything, which will be written so that anyone who can read Harry Potter can understand it.

Obviously, this is a rather tall order. I never could have come to where I am now had I not first started with this proposal. It was worth the time and effort, even though it was only ever seen by one senior publishing individual, and was rejected outright. From this to a soon-to-be published 1st book that my test readers are suggesting is something very special, indeed.

From the most humble of beginnings…

Book Proposal – Part Zero

30 Dec
Manuscript or proposal?

Manuscript or proposal?

As mentioned in my recent post on my book’s status, I now begin a series of posts on writing a book proposal. I thought it best to start with a “Part Zero” to establish the context for the series.

Like many here at wordpress, I was once an aspiring writer. While I had written a moderate amount professionally—emails, performance appraisals (a hidden art form!), letters, tactical notes, 10,000 word post-grad thesis, letters, briefing notes, professional journal articles, newspaper articles, etc.-, I had never tackled something as large as a book. I wanted to write a significant non-fiction work.

Before actually starting to write, I did a little internet research as to what writing a book was all about. Self publishing wasn’t on my radar screen at the time, and what I read suggested that professional writers didn’t submit manuscripts to major publishing companies. They instead submitted book proposals.

Put yourself in the place of a traditional publisher. You run a business. You want to publish books that make money, not lose money. You have salaries to pay, rent to pay, equipment to maintain, etc. And you are constantly getting manuscripts from aspiring writers. Which ones are even worth the time (and hence cost) to read and assess? Which are the ones that readers are going to want to buy?

The book proposal communicates to the publisher that you are a professional writer. That is, you understand that publishing is a business, as opposed to the art of writing. The proposal is in fact a business proposal to the publisher to publish your book. It demonstrates that you will (or have) approached your writing in a disciplined and professional manner, and that your book was well thought out in advance rather than you just having hung onto your keyboard by the seat of your pants during NaNoWriMo.

However, the Internet Reformation has radically altered the publishing industry, and the transformation is still in progress. As this recent Canadian newspaper article describes, self-publishing appears to be the new norm for new authors.

From the major publisher’s perspective, there is no longer a need to take a risk on an unknown author. These authors have proven themselves in rising above the herd of self-published authors, and they bring with them an established readership and a degree of personal brand recognition.

The risk to the traditional publisher is that it has become irrelevant to some successful writers. If one becomes highly successful as a self-published author, what value does a traditional publisher add to justify taking a cut of your profits? This is a great article on the topic.

So is the book proposal still relevant in the rapidly changing world of publishing? I think so. It disciplines your approach to writing, and it forces you as a writer to confront the realities of publishing as a business.

In the next instalment, I’ll go over the basic structure of the proposal I wrote. Please keep in mind that I am hardly an expert, as The Mirror is my first book, and it won’t be released until February 2014. And, as the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Alternate views, opinions, or experiences are most welcome.

She’s Alive! EDDD 23rd, Navigator edition

23 Dec

Linda is experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, and a very sore neck. Considering how serious a concussion can be, all I can say is thank God for small blessings. Hopefully she’ll be back to blogging soon and in full health.

Relatively good news, everyone. Linda survives. Minor concussion, with dizziness, fatigue, and blurry vision symptoms. Her biggest complaint is of a stiff neck. While not the best of Christmas presents, given how serious her icy fall could have been, I think we should all be grateful that it wasn’t worse.

So, until Linda’s symptoms abate sufficiently, I’ll try to keep her EDDD alive.

Right. The image. You may be witnessing the first ever Christmas ladder. Someone who is a working Mom and whose husband has been away on business got fed up with the commercialized nature of Christmas. So she said to heck with it, not going out to buy another tree, what do I have on hand?

Voila. Thus is born the Christmas ladder. A new tradition. If she had been a known artist, the Art Museum of Canada would have paid millions (of taxpayers’ money) to buy it…

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Ho Ho Ho! Navigator Santa’s coming to EDDD town

23 Dec

Hi everyone. With the recent major ice storm that has gone through south eastern Ontario Canada, poor blogger LindaGHill slipped on a treacherous front step and suffer a minor concussion. I’m hanging out at her blog to keep it going while she is out of commission. Hopefully she’ll be back soon. Why not come and show Linda some wordpress love at her place? Thanks,

While the very delightful LindaGHill, blogger extraordinaire, recovers from her ice storm battle scars—wounded in action, or WIA as we like to say—, it falls to me to (wo)man the ramparts of this blogosphere bastion. The chain of command remains intact.

Right. So when I was in grade 1, a wee lad all of six years old, I had the venerable old Mrs. Thompson for my teacher. Not only did she strap me for talking in class, she actually once gave me detention for Valentine’s Day.

This little boy didn’t like arts and crafts. Mrs. T had deemed that my Valentine heart didn’t meet her standard for my mother, so the Thompsonator kept me after class until I got it right.

Mean old bat. No wonder I have issues.

As the image above shows, there is a reason why I didn’t like arts and crafts. I flat out suck at…

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Winifred scores again!

20 Dec
Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly

Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly


Hey, everyone. Look at where Winifred is now.

Head to Trader Joe’s

17 Dec
Credit: Sjschen, wikipedia

Credit: Sjschen, wikipedia

It will, of course, sound like culinary barbarism. Foodie heresy. Bistro blasphemy, even. Yet to any red blooded Canadian, it’s like mana from heaven.

French fries, gravy, and cheese curds.

Or as it’s known here, poutine. Sound iffy? Awful, even? Then why is Trader Joe’s now selling it?

Add Montreal smoked meat and it’s so sinfully good, it’s worth risking a heart attack for. Now available at Trader Joe’s, without the smoked meat.

For now.

Way to go, Winifred!!

16 Dec
Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly

Marriage Therapist Winifred Reilly

We have a great bunch of folks in our wordpress community. It’s always wonderful to see one of “us” do well, and one of us has.

In this case, it’s marriage therapist par excellence Winifred Reilly. To quote from her brilliant blog speakingofmarriage:

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT, is a psychotherapist specializing in marital therapy and relationship issues, with a private practice in Berkeley, CA.

I suppose I could just shorten that to say that Winifred is a psycho marriage therapist. (Hopefully this quip won’t cost her too many clients.) }:-)>

I love Winifred’s posts. She has a beautifully natural writing style—she writes so effortlessly, or so it seems. Her lessons are wise, simple, elegant, short, and often times hilarious.

Only the best marriage therapist in the universe could come up with this post: Mastering the Art of Shutting Up. (I’m laughing all over again.)

One thing I particularly love about Winifred is that she’s unbiased when it comes to relationships. What’s good for the gander is also good for the goose. She challenges everyone to think about their own behaviour in the relationship, but in a funny and non-threatening way.

And now, a testament to what a great marriage therapist she really is, Winifred has been quoted in a NY Times article!

Well done, Winifred. Well done, indeed.

Lesson 31: Wife. Woman. Mother…working on waiting

15 Dec

An excellent lesson in humility and accepting responsibilities in our relationships.

50 Shades of Jazz: Life Note of Gratitude

14 Dec

This post by Jazzybeatchic is special, ladies and gentlemen. The lessons of Jazz are used a metaphor for the lessons of life. Incredibly beautiful, IMO.

Fifty Shades of Jazz

Kadinsky -Courbe dominante 1936

Dear Dad,

Thank you for the lessons on life in 1965 where you created a phenomenal year of Jazz from  the Monterey Jazz Festival to the Grand Opening of the Music Center in L.A.  Thank you for the song you wrote for me…when I was three years old.  


I learned that timing is critical in jazz as in life,

Knowing when to stop, start, step it up, slow it down

and more so important is learning how to wait thru the strife.

Jazz harmony a theory and practice of changing dominant and tonic chords,

where major and minor share the same syncopated space in a timeless bond…

Progressions depart in thirds and stacked fourths

favoring harmonic progressions where tensions are in intervals of 9ths, 11ths, or 13ths abound.


I learned that the search for meaning, intentions and having the blues

is about finding your truth and appreciating a…

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My shopify job application

14 Dec
(c) shopify. I think. Please don't sue me.

(c) shopify. I think. Please don’t sue me.

As one whose military “best before date” expires in June 2014, I have to get off my backside and find a real job. Lo and behold, doesn’t delightful Ottawa Canada have info-age shopify, the little-known growing tech company that many are pegging to be a future Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.

Shopify is a cool tech place where it’s a blast to work. All those young, cool techno dudes and dudettes, just having fun, being techno cool, and bringing in the techno $$$ gazigabillions.

They clearly need me. Here’s my application:

* * *

Hello youthful and exuberant shopify HR person! Where do I sign up? I’ll keep this brief:

– 30+ year Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) career ends no later than June 2014. Haven’t been charged yet. Have to get while the getting is good.

– Because of the terms of my release from the RCAF, I could work for you for free for a few months in early 2014. Kick the tires on me, if you like. To know me is to love me.

– I used to hunt things like nuclear attack submarines. Can’t put a price on experience like that. They’re pesky little critters. Think finding bugs in code is tough? Ha! Child’s play.

– My IT experience will be the envy of everyone at shopify: used to own a Commodore Vic-20 computer, an “8088”, a “286”, and a “386”; I not only know what Pacman was, I actually played it; and I coded in PASCAL, COBOL, and FORTRAN at university in the ’80s. That’s like being able to read ancient things like the Dead Sea Scrolls, Sumerian cuneiform tablets, and Egyptian hieroglyphics on temple walls. My IT cool factor is way off the charts. I am IT Zen. I live on an IT mountain top in Nepal and wear a white robe.

– I’ll be a stabilizing father figure to the younger folks. Seen a few things in my day.

– My home computer is a $50 old used clunker of a Dell. The thought of a free shopify Apple laptop might make me swoon. You can help put an end to processing poverty.

– How many people at shopify have actually used “swoon” in a sentence recently? Ever?

– I come from a culture of taking care of one another, and this means more to me than money ever will. This is what attracts me most to shopify.

– I helped create the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre. How many of shopify’s people have helped create an applied military think tank? Call of Duty and Black Ops on steroids sort of thing. Okay, you got me. Sheratons and martinis. Air Forces are such gentlemanly institutions. But we play CoD and B.Ops. When our kids aren’t looking. Assumes we took the course on how to use the PS3 or XBox controllers. My torpedo pre-setter panel was much easier to figure out. What’s with the using the thumbs thing, anyways?

– I promise not to steal from the shopify Viagra closet. Still, don’t forget to keep it locked. Can never be too safe, temptation being what it is. I’ll keep the key safe if you’d like. Never know when you’ll need an emergency compass. Navigators are trained to think ahead.

– Speaking of Viagra, young chicks dig me. That’s because I am way old and “non-threatening.” Unless I fall in a vat of Viagra or you leave the closet unlocked. Thus, I can tell the young shopify ladies that they look great, and actually mean it without trying to pick them up. Good for morale. Plus the young techno dudes can observe and learn. And for $20, I’ll even put the good word in for them. Ann Landers of shopify meets lavalife meets e-harmony, even. I’d get some of the young guys to build the internal website or app or something techie, and then write some BS about advanced algorithms that statistically Kalman filter Chinese horoscopes in a proprietary and classified way. I’d actually be in the background with my tea leaves, Doreen Virtue Angel Cards, and Hogsback Vintage Lager. Hogsback is Ottawa local, and close enough to organic so as to qualify as being spiritual in my books.

– If I didn’t know who Ann Landers was, I’d look her up on wikipedia.

– First book in my forthcoming set of two is scheduled to come out in February 2014. Goal is that they be as profound as heliocentricity. That’s Nicky Copernicus’s idea that maybe it was us going around the Sun instead of the other way around. Radical thinking at the time; have to love a heretic.

– Thus, bringing me on board would thus constitute an act of supreme philanthropy. I wouldn’t starve to death before I finished Book Two. You’d all sleep better at night. Tax deductible, even.

– I own an iPad. At 48 years of age, that has to count for something. It even has a Retina display. My Vic-20 didn’t.

– I made an iPad screen capture of your webpage for this post. I pressed the round button at the bottom while simultaneously pressing the rectangular button at the top right. A complicated procedure, but I live for a good challenge. I’m a little fuzzy on the details after this. Still, it proves that I can be trained.

– I have been blogging for over three months. Most of my 150+ followers are devoted middle-age women. That doesn’t quite make me the Tom Jones of bloggers, but nobody’s perfect. They’re all beautiful, too. Top that.

– If I didn’t know who Tom Jones was, I would look him up on wikipedia. What’s up, Pussycat?

– My mother thinks I look like actor Nathan Fillion. I think Mom is biased and has been into the sherry again, but I love her anyway.

– Vinyl and turntables are making a comeback, just like me. My tube amps are custom 300B transformer-coupled SETs, and my deck is a custom re-built Lenco idler-wheel drive. Okay, so it was used when I got it. Still, if you don’t know what this means, you also need me to be your Chief Audio Officer (CAO). Nobody else has a CAO that I know of. Not even Apple or Google or Amazon. This would make shopify a world leader in the field. Maybe I could even get to meet the guys from Rush.

– I can think big.

– If I didn’t know who the guys from Rush were, I would look Rush up on wikipedia. I likely wouldn’t need Depends adult undergarments, either.

– My Saddleback Leather XL Classic Briefcase would, without a doubt, be the coolest bag at shopify. Nothing even comes close. Can fit a yak in it. Great conversation piece / icebreaker with the guys. You’d be in awe. It’s the bag you want to have when you’re attacked by a grizzly bear. Happens a lot in Ottawa. (Wait—those were Ottawa U feminists at their latest protest, weren’t they? My bad.) It’s a man-spiritual sort of thing. Right up there with cooking meat on the BBQ. Ohmmmm.

– I hear you have good coffee. The coffee I’ve drunk at work for the last 30 years is toxic enough to kill a lesser man. It must be why my bowels are so healthy. No nasty viruses or bacteria could possibly survive the coffee “cleansing” that my system undergoes daily Monday-to-Friday. No prostate medical claims for at least three or four years. And when it did happen, I would regale the young techno dudes with my hospital adventures. They’d be eating oat bran by the bucket in no time. Lower your corporate health insurance costs in a heartbeat.

– I could do the CAO thing part time. Compensation? Used Apple anything. Remember LISA? Thought not. Monthly XLg pizza with the works. Six pack once a quarter. What’s that? No, not your abs. Put the t-shirt back down, Arnold. Victoria Secret calendar at XMAS. McDonalds gift certificates. Employee of the month now and then would be appreciated.

– If I didn’t know what an Apple LISA computer was, I would look it up on wikipedia.

– I just donated $20 to wikipedia. Thanks for reminding me.

– When I was 14, I could clear a 3″ high jump on my skateboard. I only gave it up because it wasn’t an Olympic sport. There were no pools in Newfoundland at the time that I could drain to skate in. There was the Atlantic Ocean, but it didn’t have a plug that I could find.

– I’d use my $250 shopify fitness bonus to buy Lulu Lemon spandex yoga pants. Really tight ones. Just to make my gf jealous, and maybe to gross out everyone at the hot yoga class that I’d like for sure join. Just call me Dr. Downward Dog of Delightful Derrieres. BTW, what’s the shopify policy on “muffintops” at the office? I know you don’t have a dress code, but chubby middle age men in spandex? I am a fashion trendsetter, obviously. On top of being a heretic. Hello, muttonchop sideburns.

– My cousin is presently working on his Ph.D. in math at Carleton University with a focus on number theory. This is what is done with the developmentally delayed young men in my family to get rid of them. Not me. No b-stock here. My theory on numbers is that they exist, and that you can add, subtract, multiply, AND divide with them. Didn’t need a Ph.D. program to figure that out.

– Are any of the shopify techno dudettes in the market for a guy? My cousin’s available, and I’d be willing to split my aunt’s finder fee. He’s good at adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing. No guarantees beyond this. Ever see Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man?

– If I didn’t know who… forget it. Need someone to pour the beer? Hogsback?

When do I start?


“Michael” the Villainous Navigator }:-)>