Rolling Out 2018

Christmas Rose - hellebore

I am indebted to a Facebook friend who captured, in a three-letter mnemonic, exactly what I am setting out to accomplish in 2018. CCM – my first thought was a memory of how, as a teenager, having a CCM ten-speed bike was all I could think of.


Anyway – my CCM of 2018 translates to Clear, Create and Move.

Morning View

After a suitable recovery time from our wonderful twelve days of Christmas, I set out on my journey. And I’ve been lucky enough to discover a few tools to tuck into my bag. I signed up for a couple of online courses on simplifying and clearing space in my life. Wow! Daily meditation and reflection pieces are widening my horizons when it comes to the word clearing. I’m addressing clutter, but it turns out clutter is much more than the mess in my cutlery drawer. Clutter has shown up in my thoughts, in the ways I view objects and past situations. Well, to be honest, it’s everywhere. A year to figure things out is a nice thought. This is the drip, drip, drip method of change.

Crater Lake Series Banner (3)

When it comes to creating, I feel like I’ve been on the right path. Five books written and self-published in five years. I will continue to write and improve my craft. It’s what I love doing. And don’t be surprised if one of the Crater Lake characters needs to clear some clutter in his or her life. It’s all fodder for the writing mill.

Kristen and the baby aligator

I couldn’t resist adding this picture of my lovely daughter, Kristen, on a Bayou tour in Louisiana. Over the month of January so many people I know have been out and about and on the move. From all-inclusive Mexican resorts to New Orleans.

So, onto the idea of moving. A few years ago, I had an awful episode with my knee. Strained beyond the beyond. The doctor suggested a recumbent, stationary bicycle to strengthen my quad muscles and hopefully keep that knee pain free. I got the bike and began my imaginary ride across Canada. Suffice to say, I’ve made my share of lengthy stops. But I am currently almost 2000 kilometers along the way, travelling between Strathmore and Drumheller, Alberta. And I walk daily – 2.5 kilometers around the trails near my home. My doctor upped the movement ante at my last visit by suggesting some gentle weight training to increase metabolic rate. To the frown on my face, she answered, “Soup cans.” I resisted the urge to burst out laughing. But hey, why not soup cans? No one is out here to collapse in a fit of hysterics as they watch me heft my tins of clam chowder. My goal is to get a couple of those bottles of Motts Clamato juice in my hands. Resistant weight training by day and yummy Caesars by night. Lake living is nothing if not innovative.

So … CCM … 2018 is going to be a great year!


Older and Wiser for 2016

Winter scene at the lake - francis guenette photo

Okay – this post didn’t make it out last night – not as much time on my hands as I thought. But I’ll send it along anyway with New Year’s Day Best wishes.

I find myself with the miracle of time on my hands tonight as I usher out the old year. No fancy New Year’s Eve parties to attend, you ask? Well, as a matter of fact, no. Can’t even remember the last time I gussied up for such an event. Usually, this night is spent in quiet reflection. Bruce and I ponder and digest the accomplishments of the past year and, of course, the inevitable disappointments. We end up counting our blessings and planning for the year to come.

I’m far from Bruce this New Year’s Eve, staying in the big city with kids and grandkids. Most of my days and evenings are filled with anything but reflection. But tonight I’m off duty. Friends with kids are expected and I will fade to the background of my guest room for a time.

So, it’s you and me, blog community. Let the reflection begin. What has 2015 meant for me as an author? I brought out two books this year – in May, Chasing Down the Night, the third book in the Crater Lake Series, and in November, a standalone novel, Maelstrom. For most of 2015, I was rewriting, editing or formatting. With Maelstrom, I tackled e-book formatting for the first time. Like so many things, it was much easier in actual practice than I had anticipated. The trick seems to be in having an absolutely clean Word document to load up to Kindle Direct Publishing.

Though I’ve learned the hard way that most of what I can afford in the way of book marketing on the internet is generally not worth the effort, I tried a couple of promos with the release of Maelstrom. Well – as the title of this blog says – older and wiser for 2016. For those of you at the beginning of the learning curve on ebook promotion, marketing and sales, all I can suggest is that you spend serious time thinking about how many books you need to sell to break even on any type of promotion you consider. Blog tours, bulk email promotion, contests, paying to move up the line for a book review – all the sites that offer such services are clear when they tell you they do not guarantee sales. You’ll hear that it isn’t really about sales. It’s about recognition and getting your name and your books out there. Do your homework. If the sites where your name and book appear do not generate a lot of traffic – well, what can I say? And read the fine print before you pay for anything. I’ve learned that most of the reasonably priced services don’t amount to much. I admit it has taken more than once burned, twice shy to do the trick for me. More like eight times burned but I think I’ve finally got the message.

I had a five year plan when Disappearing in Plain Sight started down the road to publication in 2012. I would build the social media network the way all the sage advice of the day insisted, I would write a book a year and I would be in the business of self-publishing for the long haul. If you write it, they will come and all of that. Well, I built the network and I’m four books and over halfway down the road of that five year plan but nothing happens simply because the supposed experts say it will.

I have resolved that 2016 will usher in an era of facing up to the reality of self-publishing. There are no shortcuts, no magic methods and no guarantees. You can do everything right and it won’t dictate success any more than buying a lottery ticket ensures a jackpot win. If you enjoy social media (and I’ve discovered that there are things about the vast endeavour that I really do enjoy) – go for it but don’t expect it to sell books. It doesn’t. Books are sold based on what readers have to say to one another about what they’ve read.

What I want in 2016 is real connection with readers and fellow writers. I know I haven’t found a means of maximizing on that desire via social media but I’m determined to keep on trying. And I want to write another book.

To those of you who’ve connected with me – thank you. I love the engagement. I appreciate the time it takes out of a busy schedule to read a blog post, make a comment or offer a word of encouragement. To all of the readers who’ve taken the time to review one of my books or let me know what they thought of my work – I am eternally grateful. The validation means a lot.

Happy New Year and here’s hoping we are all a bit wiser in 2016.

North Island Ice Sculpture - Francis L. Guenette

Home Sweet Home and Kicking off 2015

Family baking - Bruce Witzel photo

Is there any feeling as wonderful as returning home after a great time away? Good memories of Christmas with grown children, their spouses and grandkids fuelled the joy of my first two nights back in my own bed.

As I usher in 2015, I’m feeling ahead of the holiday season curve. My suitcase is unpacked – that usually takes me at least a few days to attend to. I’m not down for the count with a cold, flu or cough. Most of my Christmas gifts have found a spot to take up residence. Life is good.

January the first puts me in a reflective state. Thoughts of the past year and plans for the upcoming one fill my mind. WordPress tells me, in my annual blog report, that my blog was viewed 19,000 times in 2014. Whew – that apparently represents seven sold out shows at the Sidney Opera House. Go figure! My most popular post of 2014 was a piece for my Location, Location, Location series on Dianne Gray’s book, Wolf Pear. The most commented post was Shaken Author Syndrome – haha – one of my favourites and with a title like that who couldn’t resist commenting. Three out of my top five posts were from 2013, thus proving my writing has longevity. I was viewed in 128 different countries and my day of choice to post is Sunday. Do check out your own WordPress Annual Blog Review. The fireworks at the beginning make it worth the effort.

Sparklers - Bruce Witzel photo

Looking back, 2014 was a productive year for my writing. The Light Never Lies (2nd book in the Crater Lake Series) came out in February and my book of short stories, Strands of Sorrow, Threads of Hope was self-published in May. I got two-thirds of the way through a first draft on the 3rd book in the Crater Lake Series, Chasing Down the Night and all the way through the first two drafts of another novel, Maelstrom – both of which are scheduled for publishing in 2015.

Wedge Pond in Kananaskis Country

I managed to squeeze in a few trips out of my lake-side sanctuary to visit with kids, grandkids and friends. Bruce and I treated ourselves to a ten day holiday travelling in the mountains of BC and Alberta. We had more summer visitors this year than we’ve had for a while and our 2014 garden was an over the top producer of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and green beans.

Summer garden - Guenette photo

My small list of accomplishments plays itself out against the backdrop of community both far and wide. On a sad note, more than a couple of tragic deaths rocked nearby communities and these touched me and wove their way into my year. The world revolves around me in ways that both frighten and confuse me at times.

Fall leaves - Bruce Witzel photo

But still, I move on with thoughts of the coming year. Resolutions often seemed doomed to fail but I don’t think we should chuck out the whole concept. Consider the root word – resolve. Something we all need. My main resolution for 2015 is not to be making the same resolutions in 2016.

I wish family, friends, fellow bloggers and all my followers a healthy and happy New Year. May we all sow and reap a good harvest whatever and wherever we choose to plant.

Brit & Emma - Xmas 2014 - Bruce Witzel photo