Happy 4th of July, American Neighbours

Joshua Tree National Park - Bruce Witzel photo

My last post was all hip-hip hoorays for Canada. Today, I have the pleasure of saying Happy 4th of July to my American neighbours.

We really have the best times when we travel in the States. We love to drive the scenic byways and stop at the funky roadside stands and cafes. And we love your National Parks, Monuments and Forests. We’ve visited several and I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad experience. The sites are easily accessible (sometimes stunningly so) and the National Park rangers are friendly and well-informed.

Death Valley Travles - Bruce Witzel photo

When I think about our many road trips across the line (that’s what we say in Canada when we travel down to the US), the one thing that really stands out is the friendliness of Americans. We Canadians are known for being polite but in that courtesy there can be an ever-so-slight standoffishness. The Americans we have chatted with during our travels are almost always smiling, helpful and genuinely happy we chose to visit their country.

Eastern Sierra Nevadas - Bruce Witzel photo

American helpfulness can be quite above and beyond at times. When asking for directions, we’ve had a person say he didn’t know but he would call a cousin who was sure to know and get him to come down and tell us. We’ve had a guy start to explain how to get somewhere and then shrug his shoulders and say, “Oh, just follow me,” as he hopped in his truck to drive totally out of his way. We’ve been ‘god blessed’ so many times we don’t even think it odd anymore. Americans travelling in Canada might notice that we don’t do a lot of ‘god blessing’ up here.

One thing I have learned, after a few trips to the USA, is that when I want a bathroom I shouldn’t ask for a washroom. The term is common in Canada and always means bathroom. In the States, when I use the term washroom, I first get a slight frown, a shake of the head and then the person helpfully tells me that I might find a Laundromat a few streets down.

American the beautiful – you are certainly that. Happy 4th of July and many thanks for your hospitality and welcoming smiles from an ever-so-slightly standoffish Canadian who enjoys her visits to your great big land of wonders.

Olivera Str. LA - Bruce Witzel photo

Reassessment Time

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If you’re over the age of two, I’m guessing the essential process of reassessment rolls around periodically. I admit to never enjoying this turn at the wheel of life. Think about it. The root word here is assessment . . . not such a terrific start. Add the revisiting prefix and you see what I mean . . . like it wasn’t bad enough the first time around. Just saying . . . .

This blog started out with the purpose of sharing my self-publishing journey. Was the intention to inspire and inform? I’m not sure. I’m a bit too ego conscious to make such claims. I wanted to write the kind of blog that I might want to read.

With that in mind, I’ve had a few struggles since Disappearing in Plain Sight was published, and these relate to the self-publishing route I chose. I’m not going to go on a rant. I will provide two enlightening links to material that I wished I had read before skipping, gleefully down my chosen path.

A discussion forum related to the various claims made by Friesen Press

Alliance of Independent Authors – and informative post on Agent Assisted Publishing

Suffice to say that I am now saddled with just about every negative part of the assisted publishing process they describe. I’ll let you, my astute readers, connect the dots.

One should always strive for balance when in the process of reassessment. My book is available through a number of distributor channels, the trade paperback and hardcover books are of good quality for the price point, the book is selling, the marketing guy I worked with was very friendly (well, to be honest, almost everything he gave me I could have gotten from the internet, but still – friendly does count for something), I may have spent a lot of money in my opinion of things, but it was only a fraction of how bad it could have been.

Have you ever had the experience where your priorities for choosing something were the entirely inappropriate things to be focusing on? (i.e. I grew up in the era of Trudeau mania and so I’m all gaga for Justin Trudeau, or Christy Clarke is a woman, and we should have more women as Premiers in Canada, so I’ll vote for her. Hmmm . . . maybe not the best logic.)

Setting out on the self-publishing journey, I was nervous. I wanted someone to hold my hand and lead me through the process. As it turns out, there was a high price tag for that service (upfront and ongoing) and the hand holding didn’t turn out to be all it was cracked up to be – like many such promises in life.

Here’s the crux of my reassessment: I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I didn’t know what questions to ask when I went out Googling for information. I’m not sure what the answer to that dilemma might be. I’m sure blog posts like the one I’m writing now were out there.  

One kind person told me that every self-published writer has gone down a road or two they wished they hadn’t. It’s comforting to be in such good company.

Writing update: I wrote close to 5000 words yesterday and the first draft of The Light Never Lies is almost ready to be printed out in hard copy. When that happens, I’ll let it rest a bit before plunging through the pages on the lookout for glaring inconsistencies, parts that stretch the believability quotient, redundancies, and the vital emergence of themes that I didn’t even realize were there. I find it hard to believe that I can write something and actually miss what it is I’m writing – but it happens.

Epilogue – I am actively seeking a new road for the publication of The Light Never Lies. Insights welcome.

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