New Cover for The Far Bank

My son William figured the old cover pic wasn’t very good so we can up with another.   The text has a skewed logic. FarBank13042014If you have any comments, I’d like to hear from you.

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Voodoo Bully rave reviews

Voodoo Bull rave reviews are trickling in at the reader/reviewer site bookkus.com.  Four and five stars and some very good comments.   It was a fun book to write as I manipulated the characters in a lot of ways.   You can go to the children’s book tab on this site to read the synopsis.

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Kobo eReader problems?

If you have any Kobo eReader problems, don’t despair.  My wife was downloading an eBook from Kobo when the link broke due to a poor WiFi connection.  Trying to get a re-download has been like getting the Pope to swear.  After 5 emails, and Kobo’s ‘help’ just not getting it, she finally received a phone number and we’ll have to get in touch with them when we’re near a better signal.  I’ve had issues with Kindle that were solved as soon as I called them.

Since Kobo’s help section didn’t address the issue I did some investigating and  discovered the company has a ton of problems with many of them on Goodreads site which is a bad thing for Kobo as Goodreads has a huge audience.

Anyhow, my son’s friend works at Kobo’s design dept. in Toronto and when I told my son about how bad Kobo was with their customer service he somehow garnered info and sent me an email regarding Click 2 Call a new service that will hopefully address many issues quicker, because they’ve got a ton.  It will be on their website March 20th. With luck Kobo eReader problems should disappear LOL.  Below is all the info I have.

In our ongoing effort to improve our Customer Experience, we are pleased to
announce the introduction of the next phase of our customer contact
strategy: Click 2 Call.
Kobo Customer Care will introduce this new approach starting with our
customers in English markets, then expanding to include all our supported
languages. We will begin with North America on March 20th, 2014 . Here’s how
it works:
1. Customers reaching our *”Get Help”* section that select *”Contact
Customer Care” will…*

2. Fill out the web form ( http://kobo.frontlinesvc.com/app/ask ) with
their contact information and a description of their issue

3. By clicking “*Phone,*” a “Click 2 Call” box will open, asking the

customer to provide the telephone number they wish to be reached on and the
call will be immediately queued with the next available representative

We are dedicated to providing the best service possible to our customers.
By arming our Care representatives with the right tools, we can reduce the
impact of technical interruptions and allow customers to read more.

Our customer experience will improve by:

Reducing call times: The agent will have all the customer’s information
on hand and will not need to spend valuable time collecting it

Reduced hold time: The agent will be able to investigate and
troubleshoot the issue prior to calling the customer

Convenience: The customer will be contacted with a solution

 

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Notification – firefighter novels

Notification:  Today is the last day to get a download of my two firefighter novels.  Bookkus Publishing is taking all three Old Flames, Gerry’s War, and the newest Final Response.  They’ll be repackaged and submitted again online.  Final Response will be the vanguard and in paperback  first somewhere around the end of April.

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Best Writer’s Editing Tool – AutoCrit Wizard

The best writer’s editing tool is here.  Easy editing all the way.  It’s a better mousetrap.  It’s the future, and the future is AutoCrit.  Wait, wait, don’t click the banner just yet; let me explain.  I’m not the best editor, and I’ll’ admit it.  There are just too many editing issues in a 100,000 word manuscript to catch every single one.  Few people are very good editors.  Those people are at the big publishing houses.  I’m a writer first and an editor by default.  I do some editing on the side and also manage a writers group.  When I see a poorly edited piece, I think ‘amateur’ or ‘lazy’.  When I read a piece, I want to breeze through without getting annoyed by speed bumps, or have to search back a few pages because something’s not right.

The problem with editing is editing itself.  There’s no escape; the work in writing is editing, searching for the myriad of issues in a manuscript.  I’ve resigned myself to the tedium, eyestrain, and boredom.  A messed up manuscript turns off prospective buyers and readers.  I’ve read stuff from new authors that might be pretty good stories, but slogging through the mud wore me down.  When the first pages of a manuscript are seen, you have to make a great impression; a well-edited and structured piece of work.  

The best writer’s editing tool is AutoCrit.  It’s all about being quick, effective, and reasonably priced.  The AutoCrit editing tool is wizard.  Short of hiring someone to do the heavy lifting, this is the one essential tool all writers should have.  I stumbled upon this site and used their Free Wizard by pasting in a 500 word sample.  Wow, impressive and fast.  How fast?  After buying a subscription, I pasted in 100,000 words and each analysis was done in seconds.  It’s actually a fine-tuned, elaborate search mechanism tailored to writers.  It performs up to 11 functions: sentence variation to homonyms to overused words to clichés.  Problem areas are highlighted in color or underlined, and suggestion are made.  It will even congratulate you.  I love it.

The best part about the writers editing tool (I have the professional subscription), is that I can insert my particular words and phrases and it will include them in the analysis.  That’s not all.  Each report can be emailed to you.  On the upside, this program has saved me tons of time and made my work far more presentable.  On the down side, it showed how basic my editing was.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

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New Year Goals

For 2014 my new year goals are do-able, I think.  I am taking on the job of editor for Bookkus with another person–a tag team.  I do the technical stuff and she does the story and structure.  I found a new editing program online that will save me tons of time.  I’ll be putting my Voodoo Bully middle grade story through it and see what happens.  It looks promising. I’ll review it soon for you.

Voodoo Bully I think will go on the Bookkus site for reader reviews, so I can gauge response.  Final Response should be available in March or April along with a book launch in Edmonton and a press release.  I’ll be speaking with an Indigo Bookstore this month about it.

Archie’s Gold is now in paperback and I’ll do a freebie copy contest at the Beaumont library.  I plan on putting The Far Bank into paperback later this year, too.

Madhouse in The Firehouse should be written and run through my writers group by the end of the year.

I do believe all the above should keep me busy, along with life in general.

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Edmonton Fire Rescue – Fire Chief of the Year

Edmonton Fire Rescue Chief Ken Block was named Fire Chief of the Year for 2013  He rocks.  He’s  the big cheese, el Generalissimo, the head honcho of the Edmonton Fire Rescue service.  He was on Edmonton radio this morning and spoke about resources being stretched due to the city growing so much.  I know Ken, he fought hard to get hearing compensation for firefighters when he was the union prez.  As a result I get hearing aids until I pass on.

He also mentioned the dept. gets almost 40,000 calls a year.  That’s a lot, and every year it goes up, right along with the big increase in arson fires.  If you live in an apartment or condo, don’t trust your neighbors.  I’ve seen renters do some insane stuff putting plenty of people at risk.  Ken has done an admirable job and is Fire Chief of the Year.  He won’t get on People magazine cover but from all angles he’s a good guy.  Many people only think of fire departments when there’s a fire.

Any rescue, any time.  Mr. Ed has a bad day.

Mr. Ed has a bad day.   Any rescue, any time.

The reality is when any kind of rescue or weird incident happens to baffle people it’s the firefighters that are called.  The horse in the picture is an example of a ‘service’ call.  There’s no training manual on this. Between Hazardous Goods and water/river rescue, High Angle Rescue and Emergency Medical Responders (advanced emergency patient care) there happens to be fires: garage fires, house fires, vehicle fires, playground fires, and bush and grass fires.  The city hasn’t lost a firefighter since 1974 because of its high level  of training, competent officers, and a Command and Control system that is strictly adhered to.

What the majority of 40,000 calls are is the everyday work that goes on.  Big emergencies are the spikes.  Numbers can be deceiving. Some departments, including Edmonton’s EMS  counts individual units responding to one call.  If it’s a multi-vehicle accident and three units are sent it’s record it as three separate calls.  With Edmonton Fire Rescue, even a third alarm fire is recorded as one call, regardless of how many units respond.

Time to bask in the fame, Ken.

With luck, he’ll stay on for another year and become the Fire Chief of the Year again.

 

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Great Juvenile / MG Novel Now In Paperback

Archie’s Gold, my great juvenile / middle grade novel is now in paper back available at Amazon,  Barnes & Noble/Borders, and Indigo BooksTundra Books wanted this story 4 or 5 years ago but dropped it from publication as they cut their fiction list.  You can read a sample there or stay on this site for it.  I believe the story is great because of several things: dialogue, reality, grit, suspense, and oddball characters.  All the characters are, or were, real people from my growing up in Welland, Ontario.

Archie is a shoeshine boy who works in front of a hotel in the 60′s when most people still wore leather shoes.  A publisher told me that kids don’t want to read about kid who does some outdated job. Shoeshiners exist at airports but they’re usually men.  Kids still shine shoes in Mexico and the Caribbean.  There’s plenty of historical fiction available with kids doing all sorts of jobs in mines, stables, street sweeping, on ships, etc.

Archie’s Gold is a suspense/mystery with universal appeal.  Archie only wants to be reunited with his estranged father. He’s a tough street kid hiding a heart of gold.

I plan on getting them all into paperback next year.

 

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Top Three Firefighter Gift Ideas for Christmas

If you plan on getting a Christmas gift for a firefighter check out a few firefighter gift ideas.  My favorites.

First of all an Amazon gift certificate for my firefighter eBooks.  All three will be available in paperback by mid-January, too.

Leading off the top three firefighter gift ideas is one of the best things I had on the job.  A small flat container of Vicks Vaporub.  At times in my career I could have made a good buck selling dabs of this during med calls where nasty Vicks Vaporub Ointment - 100 Gmsmells are common.  When you’re the only person in the room among firefighters and EMTs with some Vicks up your nose, you are a very lucky, not to mention, popular person.  A little dab will do ya.  It saved me from upchucking many times.  I picked up the container years ago on the counter at a corner store but haven’t seen the container for some time.  You can fill any fancy container with it as long as it’s flat to sit in a chest pocket without taking up much room.  Tiger Balm does the trick, too, and it’s already in a small container.

Another great firefighter gift idea is a pair of strong, rip-proof gloves, the kind electricians use to resist tears from cut wire ends.  The palm, including fingers, should have an extra layer while the rest should be flexible;not much more than leather dress gloves, only snugger.  Some departments provide gloves but they’re usually substandard: too bulky, too thin, rip and tear too easily.  Volunteer firefighters are always looking for good equipment.  The gloves don’t have to be cold weather proof as they’re for working the Jaws and other extrication tools at vehicle wrecks, alarm panels, etc. not for firefighting.  It’s usually hit or miss whether the gloves will hold up to the tasks, but your chances are better if you lay down more coin for them.

What about a good, bright headband light?  A hands-free LED light will last long on battery life.  Ensure the head strap  is adjustable enough to fit around a helmet, a toque, or the bare head.  A firefighter needs this because departments issue hand lamps but they have to be held. Hands free is needed for working on alarm panels, writing down info and searching for registration papers at vehicle accidents, accountability sheets at scenes, etc.  Again, spend some coin.  Cheap lights can’t take getting banged around.

I really used to hate it when people said ‘Happy Holidays’.  Firefighters don’t often get the period off.  For 32 years I bet my shifts encroached 75% of the time somewhere on the three day Xmas period.  Really, who does get the entire week off, anyhow?

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The Spark – another Canadian firefighter novel

Firefighters rejoice.  There are now officially two Canadian firefighters writing novels featuring a Canadian firefighter.  John Kenney has written The Spark and I just finished reading it.

The sparkI liked it and reviewed it on Amazon.  His portrayal of fire station routine is second to none.  I slipped back into station life reading this one.  It’s a suspense centered around one man’s investigation into the death of his fire captain and set in Toronto.  A decent read.

 

 

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