Monday, December 22, 2014

News Stories: Making it personal

We often become jaded by some of what we read about what is going on in the world around us. It is not often that we get some personal insight into how some of today’s tragic events affect those involved.

I read with great empathy and sadness the recent Facebook posts of 13-year-old Jaden Ramos, whose ‘best father in the world’ was one of the two NYPD cops killed in cold blood last week as they sat in their patrol car. As Jaden puts it, many say they hate cops, but “they are the ones we call when we need help.” When you read the post that Jaden made on December 9th, for his father’s birthday, the totality of the heartbreak is compounded.


In my writing, I have often been inspired by real events as the basis for my fiction. In this case, and particularly given the holiday season, I wish with all my heart that I could write some fiction that could change the tragic events that have affected Jaden Ramos and his family. Alas, I can sadly only add my voice to those expressing condolences.

Wil

Monday, December 1, 2014

Five years, seven YA fiction titles, and tens of thousands of copies

It is truly hard to believe that December marks five years since I published the first of my books at Smashwords. Now I’ve got seven multi-format eBooks available through a number of online retail sales channels, including Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, and others. I was happy to embrace the eBook format to accompany my print books. Like most other indie authors, my eBooks now account for virtually all of my sales.

In the past five years, tens of thousands of copies of my books have found their way into the hands, or devices, of readers. I’m really pleased with those numbers. What makes me even happier is the response I’ve noted in reviews. My books have been called inspiring, and ‘the most emotional’ ever read, and many other positive things.

More importantly, I hope that my books will have an impact, and that’s truly why I write. I write what I’m inspired to write, and I write for myself.

I will take this opportunity to admit that I’ve not published anything new in the last two years. The extra demands of work have left no time for me to fully complete any of my works in progress. I have, however, continued to come up with new story ideas, and I have a number of them in the ‘story outline’ stage. At some point in the near future, still to be determined, I very much want to spend more time writing. In the meantime, I’m very pleased and honored to note that my sales reports indicate that my books continue to find new readers.

So, thanks for reading.
Wil

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Giving Thanks - for the good people, good things and good events in our lives


Giving thanks = what's important.


The importance of the fourth-Thursday-in-November holiday is well known to a domestic American audience, but of course not so well known elsewhere. In Canada, the same Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in early October, but otherwise the holiday is not recognized elsewhere in the world. There is no equivalent in Australia, or New Zealand, or the UK, or anywhere else. I’ve been fortunate to be part of large Thanksgiving gatherings in the US, and in Canada. I also had a singular chance to be part of a group of Americans and others celebrating on the other side of the world, and that was an enjoyable and meaningful experience.

In the US, Thanksgiving is most often known for gatherings of families, and the holiday creates the busiest travel days of the year. Of course, the holiday started a few centuries ago as a giving of thanks for a good harvest. What I most like today is a common practice where family members share what they are most thankful for. That includes all those present at the dinner table, from the youngest to oldest.

What to be thankful for?

I think the process of thinking what we are thankful for is important, and really, far too important to be left to only one day per year. Thinking about what we are grateful for should be practiced every day, and especially when we have a great experience. 

I have been fortunate, in recent years, to be something of a mentor to a younger family member, now a young teenager. When I’ve taken that person out to do fun or interesting things, they’ve remarked that they wish we could do it again, or more often. 

My response has been something like this. I agree, and this was really interesting (or a lot of fun).  And, I really enjoyed doing it with you. But the most important thing now is that we remember the moment. Remember how interesting it was (or how fun it was), and make that a highlight in your life that you want to remember. Think of this highlight, remember it, and give thanks for it. Make your life about remembering all of these good things, and be thankful.

The moments we give thanks for.

I often think about what I am thankful for, and try to appreciate those good or great moments in my life. Today, as I do many days, I give thanks for all of the good people, good things and good events in my life.

If you are able to sit at a table on Thursday, November 27th, and give thanks, good. If you don’t (or can't) celebrate the holiday, that’s okay, too. Simply take this moment, right now, to think about whatever good things you’ve had in your life, and be thankful.

Wil

Saturday, September 20, 2014

International Child Abduction: A child victim's story - another work in progress

The world is a difficult and scary place when children of a multi-national marriage are taken by one parent to a country where the other parent loses de facto custody, or loses the ability to visit the child, or cannot even enter the country or contact the child. If you think it's bad for the losing parent, think how bad it must be for the children.

My new work in progress, as yet unnamed, is based upon this subject. Although fiction, it is inspired by a true story and told from the child's point of view, it describes many years of separation between a father and child, where the child was removed from their home county with no warning.

Now, as strange as this may seem, there are many countries of the world where there is no legal recourse for the losing parent. None at all. (The non-blue countries, below.)

In some cases, the practices of the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction apply. And, even those countries, the return of an abducted child is not at all certain and can take countless years, often with child aging out (at age 16) of the provisions of the Hague Convention.

If I paint a dark picture, where many children never see the losing parent again, this is the reality. My work will try and humanize international child abduction, with a rarely viewed children's perception of this terrible kind of event.

In the meantime, I hope you keep reading my other books.

Wil

Monday, September 1, 2014

I wish I had... but didn't. So, the time to start is now.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now. (Chinese proverb)
I was looking at that Chinese proverb, and thinking about how it could apply to so much of our lives. It might be 20 days, or 20 years, but it's all lost time. For instance, one could say, “I wish I’d started publishing my novels 20 years ago, but I didn’t, so I’m going to start now.”
Think of all the other statements that could be said:
 -      - “I wish I’d started learning to swim, or golf, or learn Azeri, or learn Tae Kwon Do, or travel, or go to the library, or read more books 20 years ago, but I didn’t. So, I’m going to start now.”
-   “I wish I’d started to save and spend my money better 20 years ago, but I didn’t. So, I’m going to start now.”
-  “I should have started to tell my son how proud I've been of his accomplishments at school. But I haven’t, so I’m going to start now.”
-  “I should have attended more of my daughter’s ballet recitals when she first got started. But, I didn’t, so I’m going to start now.”
-  “I wish I’d said more times how much I love and appreciate my father or mother or brother or sister or grandparent, and I didn’t, so I’d better get started now.”

What you don’t want to say is:
-  “I wish I’d told my father or mother, or my grandpa or grandma, or my uncle or aunt, or my brother or my sister, or my son or my daughter, or husband or wife how much I love them, but now it’s too late.”

So, whether it's one year or 20 years, perhaps the message here is that we should not put off until tomorrow what we can or should do today. Because, just perhaps, tomorrow will be too late.

Wil

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Persevere and overcome with tenacity, courage and understanding


I sometimes feel the need to explain myself, a bit, as a writer.  As in, why do I write?  Or, where did the ideas for my stories come from? 

Not easy questions to answer, really.  I suppose it was, initially, because I heard of some event, or tragedy, and I wished it had turned out differently.  In my mind, I wanted to change the way it turned out.  In real life, that cannot be done, of course.  But, in fiction, all things are possible.  As Paul Theroux says, “Fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.” In my writing, I can create anything I want, and give it a happy ending, and mostly I do that.  Along the way, there may be tragedy, or hurtful events, but I try to create success and triumph in the end.  Here are some things I would be happy to achieve:
  • If my stories help young people, by giving examples of kids persevering in difficult situations, then I will be very satisfied. 
  • If my stories help young people overcome their own challenges, and perhaps find some inspiration, then I will be happy. 
  • If my stories help young people find the tenacity and courage to succeed in their own lives, then I will be very pleased. 
  • If my stories help achieve some better understanding among friends and families, then I will consider myself fulfilled.
I have found that I really enjoy writing.  When I write, I imagine that I’m in the scene, or watching the action, and I want to describe it as fully as I can.  What’s more, I can change the scene, or the dialogue, or the action, as much as I want.  Most importantly, I write for myself.  I write what I want to read.  I like Jesse Stuart's quote, “Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it.”

If even one person (young or not-so-young) finds some example in one of my books that he or she can use in their own life, then I will consider that every moment I spent writing those books was the best possible way to spend that time.

Thanks for reading,
Wil

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting it Right...almost always starts with Getting it Wrong


Getting is right almost always starts with getting it wrong.  Unless we put ourselves or someone else into danger, the only bad thing about making mistakes is failing to try again.  And again.  And again.  And as many times as it takes to get it right.

That process, of trying it over and over until it works, has been my mantra in life, and in writing.  How many times have we said, or heard, ‘we learn from our mistakes,’ or perhaps, if we’re lucky, ‘we learn from the mistakes of others.’ 

As a writer, I often read, to see what others are writing.  I read what is selling and I read what is getting good reviews.  I also read what is new, or does not have good reviews, or what might not be selling, yet.  I read what appeals to me.  This is how I learn from others’ mistakes, and successes.

As I writer, I look at my own work.  I put my work out there.  I see which of my books sell, and which of them earn good reviews.  This is how I learn from my own mistakes, and possibly, from my own successes.

Getting it right, as an author, can be a long process.  It almost certainly very unlikely that the first novel we write is going to be a great success.  Almost any author will tell you that they did a lot of writing before they ended up with a work that they were happy with, or that sold well, or that got good reviews.  But, the key is to keep trying.  That means to keep writing.

In my case, I write because I want to write. I write because I need to write. I write what I want to write.  I write for myself.  But; I share my writing in the hope that some will like it, and perhaps, the hope that I might somehow tell a story that will have an impact.  

But, most importantly, I realize that it’s okay to get it wrong, if I keep trying to get it right.

Wil

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Those who answer the call of 'Dad'..... this is for you!


This video is a great addition to the 'Must Sees' and 'Must Reads' for Father's Day...

Monday, June 9, 2014

My Father's Day essay - what kind of a Father?


As a person, I have observed many examples of ‘fathers’ and regrettably more bad than good.  On a positive note, I was particularly struck by two recent* pieces related to fatherhood, one by LZGranderson at cnn.com, and the other by Dominic Utton at the Mail Online.

As an author, I have often created characters in a father role.  In certain of my books, the father is described after his death. In Playing the Baseball Card, the protagonist describes his father as a man who ‘made sure that his children were the most important part of his life.

In Aiden’s Arrival: Honor Before Gold, a now-grown son describes a man who assumed a father’s role by marrying a women with two young children.  “None of us; my mother, my sister, my nephew, my niece; were related to our father and grandfather by blood, but that didn’t matter to him.  He showed us, by his example, that family is about loving people, and caring about people, and living together in a supportive way.  Not always in harmony, but always caring about your family more than anything else.  He lived that kind of life, and today we carry on with that legacy.

In Zac and the Reluctant Prince, Book 1 of the Prince David series, the father is described this way:  “The example of his life teaches us the lessons of responsibility, obligation, commitment, dedication, loyalty, patriotism and also compassion.  In his life, he strove to be the best son he could be, the best husband he could be, the best father he could be, the best officer he could be, and the best man he could be.”

If you know your father, what do you think of him? If you knew your father, how do you remember him?

I believe a real father is one who looks into the eyes of his children, and says to them, “My life improved the day you came into my life, and my life gets better every day that you are still in my life.”  I also believe a real father is the kind of role model I’ve described in the excerpts from my books, above. 

If you have the chance to be a father, or if you are a father, how do you want to be remembered? 

To all fathers, everywhere, Happy Fathers’ Day.

*This essay was originally posted for Father's Day 2012. It has proven to be the most-viewed of my blog posts of all time, and so I re-post it again this year to honor the memory of those who filled a father-like role in my life: my dad and my granddad.  

Wil

Friday, June 6, 2014

helping a Dad be a Dad on Father's Day... a must-watch





This is, of course, a great story for Father's Day. What's your story?



- How many are watching this, wishing they had a Dad on Father's Day?

- How many are watching this, wishing they still had a Dad on Father's Day?

- How many are watching this, wishing they'd had a Dad, at any time in their lives?

- - - How many fathers are watching this, wishing they had done more to be a Dad, when they had a chance?

- - - How many Dads are watching this, realizing they can much more easily be a Dad... on Father's Day?


If you can be more of a Dad, on Father's Day, why don't you?



Wil


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Free eBooks for Young Adults


Looking for Free eBooks for Young Adults? In January 2010, I started another blog, entitled Free eBooks for Young Adults, with occasional assistance from another Smashwords author.  I've listed over 170 free eBooks.  I have read most (and at least looked at the rest) of the books I've listed, and there are truly some gems among them. I would not hesitate to recommend any of the books I've listed. 
I hope the blog has helped many readers find books by my fellow YA authors. What I do know is that the blog has been viewed more than 40,000 times. 

There are many, many good reads for Young Adults out there, and there are more free today than ever.  I will continue to search them out, and list them at Free eBooks for Young Adults.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

humanizing the tragedy of International Child Abduction - another work in progress

The world is a difficult and scary place when children of a multi-national marriage are taken by one parent to a country where the other parent loses de facto custody, or loses the ability to visit the child, or cannot even enter the country or contact the child. If you think it's bad for the losing parent, think how bad it must be for the children.

My new work in progress, as yet unnamed, is based upon this subject. Although fiction, it is inspired by a true story and told from the child's point of view, it described many years of separation between a father and child, where the child was removed from their home county with no warning.

Now, as strange as this may seem, there are many countries of the world where there is no legal recourse for the losing parent. None at all. (The non-blue countries, below.)

In some cases, the practices of the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction apply. And, even those countries, the return of an abducted child is not at all certain and can take countless years, often with child aging out (at age 16) of the provisions of the Hague Convention.

If I paint a dark picture, where many children never see the losing parent again, this is the reality. My work will try and humanize international child abduction, with a rarely viewed children's perception of this terrible kind of event.

In the meantime, I hope you keep reading my other books.

Wil

Monday, March 10, 2014

Another earthquake very close to home

There’s nothing like living near a fault line. If you don’t remember an earthquake, just wait, because they’ll be one soon. Even on the northern California coast, seismic activity seems frequent – or the effects of seismic activity. When Japan had the big quake back in March 2011, the port of Crescent City was really hit with a tsunami, and the damage isn’t fully repaired yet.

The latest quake was Sunday night, March 9th, and it was an event that could not be missed by anyone in the coastal area of northern California or southern Oregon.  After this latest shaking, including a quake and aftershocks, I’m thinking it’s about time I wrote a quake into one of my novels.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Getting Ready for "Read an e-Book Week"

It's about time for one of my favorite weeks of the year. Read an eBook Week is the one of two times each year when I have a look at a huge number of Free eBooks, and discover new authors, or new books by some authors I may have already found.
You see, in addition to being an author, I'm also a reader, and an opportunity like this week to build up my library of eBooks is too good a chance to miss.
Of course, I also like that a whole bunch of readers are discovering my books this week, as I've priced all of mine free for this Smashwords promotion. So, I hope all of you find some good titles, and build up your own libraries.
Happy Reading, 
Wil

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Authors of Smashwords have now published more than 10 billion words


The main vehicle for me to publish my (so far) seven books is Smashwords, and this week Smashwords authors reached an exciting milestone:  10 Billion Words Published.  The milestone was reached sometime around noon Pacific time, on Monday.


As Smashwords founder Mark Coker says in his blog, "These words come from 87,000 writers from every corner of the globe who have gathered together to change the world of publishing one eBook at a time as manifested through their 288,000 titles at Smashwords."



As Mark goes on to say, "These writers are revolutionaries and saviors of the written word, even if they don't view themselves as such.  They're leading the indie author movement."



It took about 50 months for Smashwords to reach 5 billion words in July, 2012.  It's taken only about 18 months more to add the second 5 Billion.


To put this into personal perspective, when I published my first eBook with Smashwords in December 2009, they had less than 10% of the words and titles they do now. I can also say, with great happiness, that as Smashwords' overall stats have increased by a factor of 10, so have my stats increased, with tens of thousands of my books in the hands of readers.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Author as a Groundhog


I feel like I've been a bit of a groundhog over the last few months. In fact, it started last summer, with a long distance move to a new job and then all sorts of new family and work-related challenges that have kept me from writing. 

However, I haven't given up - not at all. I've had some story ideas, and have drafted the outlines of two new novels. Plus, I've still got six in various stages of completion - some of which I've included in my blog's section on Future Books. 

So, thanks for checking in here, and look for more work from me later this year. Perhaps, like the groundhog, I'll eventually find that winter is over and spring will find me at the keyboard once again.

All the best,

Wil

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Pictures of Lighthouses