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New Read From the Old Shelf: Cyber Way by Alan Dean Foster

Cyber_Way-FosterThe next novel I’m going to tackle is Alan Dean Foster’s Cyber Way. I remember enjoying this novel when I bought it from the Science Fiction Book Club back in high school. I stumbled across it not too long ago at a local used book store and just had to pick it up again for a re-read after all these *cough*decades*cough*.

All I really remember about the plot is something to do with a detective (I think he was a PI, not a policeman, but I could be wrong) and something to do with Native American mysticism or powers or something like that. There might be a murder mystery involved at the center of the plot. Yeah. Been a while.

Anyway, I’m going to dive into this bad boy starting this afternoon, and see how long it takes me to get through it. When I’m done, I’ll let you know what I think.

Why Don’t You Self-Publish?

At work, I’m known as “the guy that’s written two books.” People are constantly asking me how my writing’s going. It feels good. Actually, it feels great to know that my co-workers care about my efforts outside the Day Job. It’s rewarding to know that they think it’s really cool that I’ve managed to crank out over 200,000 words (not counting my short fiction), and they’re amazed at my ability to juggle work, family, writing, eating and sleeping.

I love the people I work with… until they ask if it’s published. I tell them about the two short stories I have published, and they congratulate me. Then, in the same breath, ask if the novels are published.

My usual answer is, “I’m working on it.” That’s the truth. I’m searching high and low for agents and editors that may show a glimmer of interest in what I’ve created.

Then they drop the hammer on me by asking, “Why don’t you self-publish?”


These days, I don’t really have a good answer for this. When I was asked this three or four years ago, my answer went something like this, “There’s no vetting or editing on self-published work. It’s just people throwing words at the screen and hoping someone wants to buy them. I don’t want to be lumped in with that crowd.”

While these statements are still true, there are tons of people out there who have put in the time, effort, energy and money to have their work professionally edited. There are some stand-out self-published novels these days. Would I like to be lumped in with the shining examples of quality work? Certainly. The problem comes in putting in the effort to become one of those stand-out people. I’m not talking in the craft going into the words, but into the energy the business side of things requires to be successful.

In the self-publishing world, there are a few hard markers by which to measure success. Sales figures are king. Number of quality reviews is the queen. Having a high average rating is the crown prince. Obtaining (and keeping) loyal fans are the dukes and duchesses of the measuring stick of success in the self-publishing world. However, it takes tons of effort to get all of that. Not just in writing, editing and producing the book. There’s a whole mess of crap that sits on top of the writing to make sure things go well.

There’s money to spend on a quality cover. There money to spend on a quality editor (even if you have a critique group). There’s money to spend on a layout person (or do it yourself *shudder*). There’s money to spend on getting the book in the right places online and in brick & mortar stores. Then comes marketing. I haven’t a clue where to start marketing anything, let alone a book. That’s probably my biggest barrier right there, so I’d have to pay a marketing genius (I happen to know one) to put together a marketing plan for me.

It’s just too much.

That’s why I’m not self-publishing. I want to focus on my craft of writing and leave the cover, layout, design, production, distribution and marketing to the pros. That means the publishing houses.

Yeah. Yeah. I know the truth of the matters about marketing. Unless a publisher has already advanced you stupid amounts of money, they’re not going to back you with even more stupid amounts of money for advertising and marketing. That’s normally on the shoulders of the author to take care of some (most??) of it. So, if I land a publishing contract, I’ll be reaching out to the marketing genius I know and offering him a healthy part of whatever advance I get to come up with a marketing plan for me.

Another reason I’m not going with self-publishing is this:

I think my book is great. My former critique partners thought the book was great. My wife thinks the book is great.

Does that delude me into knowing the book is great?


Don’t get me wrong. I believe in my book 100%. I just need to find that professional out there (agent or editor) that believes in the greatness of my writing as much as I do. It’s confirmation that my efforts have been worth it. It’s validation that I can produce quality writing. It’s an ego stroke. It’s that “rubber stamp” and “big thumbs up” from someone that knows what they’re doing in this industry.

Have I completely ruled out self-publishing? No, but it’s not for me right now.

500 Fairy Tales Found


Yes. That’s me making a little-girl-that-just-got-a-pony-for-no-reason-at-all sound.

I just found at that five hundred new fairy tales were found in Germany!

I’m a huge fan of fairy tales. I love reading them. I love thinking about them. I love dissecting them. I love extending ideas from them and dropping little bits and pieces of it into my worlds, stories, and characters.

I have books of fairy/folk tales from all over the world, and I’m still on the hunt for more. If/When these 500 new tales make it to my nearest bookstore, I’m all over it! It might take a few years (if it happens at all) for the stories to get to the point where the public can consume them, but I’m willing to wait.

Writing Away Retreats

A good friend of mine, Cicily Janus, runs a few retreats each year. She has one coming up in Breckenridge, CO that runs from October 13th through the 17th. While I’ve never been to one of her retreats, I can vouch for the quality of her coaching, her drive for excellence and the openness she shows to everyone around her. She helped me knock out the nerves and polish my “elevator pitch” last year, and it worked quite well for me. That was in just a mere five minutes. I can’t imagine what she would do for my writing with a full four days of being around her and the staff she’s built up around the retreat.


Here’s a little bit more about what Cicily has to say about her retreat:


Named as one of the top-ten creative retreats in the world, Writing Away Retreats is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with and receive feedback from the very best in the industry. Every writer gets a 10K word detailed MS consult with each of the staff members (3 editors, 1 agent and 1 NYT bestselling author) during their 5 day/4 night experience in the Rocky Mountains. This unprecedented access allows for an experience that can truly forward your writing career in the right direction. Download the brochure for further information or go to the website: for details.

Contact Cicily and let her know how she can help you attend this event.

Payment plans allowed for exceptional cases.

“These past few days have affected my profoundly. They have grounded me, focused me enormously. Often, I have been moved so beyond words that I thought I might have to give the poor things up….”~K. Sucharski (Colorado)



She also gave me this great PDF that explains more about how to contact her and what to expect: Writing Away Brochure (PDF)

Guest Blog Post at Ian’s Site

Hey everyone. I have a guest blog post up at Ian’s site. You can find the post here.