All posts by philsandersonwriter

I am the proud author of "2018: An Uncivil War", a near-future action thriller about the 2nd American Civil War. I'm currently working on a horror novel (still trying to find out my genre of choice!).

Phil Sanderson’s Indy Author Toolbox!

Me

Several times during my long stint as a writer, I have often been asked:  “What does it take to become a published writer?”

These days, all it takes is Microsoft Word and an internet connection.  And that is it!  This being said, it is a lot easier than it used to be.  The only way to be published before Amazon and other pioneering online booksellers paved the way for self-publishing was that of traditional publishing, which still has not changed very much ever since the start of the industrialization of book printing.

So let’s look back at the original question:  “What does it take to be come a published writer?”

To me, any writer worth their salt should not want to become a PUBLISHED writer, but more so a distinct and seasoned one.  Grant it that no writer is perfect by any sort of means, but writers should still at least attempt to do everything to strive toward that perfection.  They shouldn’t be too scared to PAY THE PRICE and EARN THE TITLE.

Anyone can put together some literary turd, put any image on it that will come to be known as the cover for said literary turd, and call it a published book, thereby claiming the status as published writer.  All that serves is to discredit the whole movement of indy authors everywhere the world over.

So my chief advice to writers everywhere who desire to be self-published authors is simple:  Bring something solid to the table, something that will make traditionally-published authors look over their snobby shoulder with even the vaguest of worries.  In doing so, here is my advice:

First, Pay the Price!

  1. Read a grammar book cover-to-cover the same way you would a novel written by your favorite author, not only READING it, but ABSORBING the knowledge like a Bounty paper towel.  If you choose not to make it through, it is clear that you do not have the true desire to be a prolific author.  Why even bother attempting it?  If you find that you become truly fascinated by the rules of the road, then this is a true sign that you may stand a wonderful chance of becoming something more than the author of a literary turd.
  2. Read many, many different books by many, many different successful authors.  I myself have started reading several classic works.  This past Christmas, I read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  And a couple of years ago, I read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving just before Halloween…and one of my most favorite classics, Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one I will never forget!  These classics and many, many more paved the way for successful literature all over the world.
  3. If you desire to write fiction, read many, many different books about the craft of writing, plot development, creating memorable characters, creating conflict and tension in your stories, and all other elements that may be essential in creating a story that people will remember through the ages.

Next, Stay True to The Craft!

  1. When it comes time to sit down and begin your book, set a rigid writing schedule; and do  not let anything come between you and it.  Work diligently to complete your first draft.  When you finish, work diligently to complete your second draft paying close attention, looking out for errors in grammar and punctuation.
  2. It’s not a bad idea to obtain a subscription to Writer’s Digest if you can afford it.  You can learn so many valuable lessons and great tidbits of information from this one terrific magazine that has been around seemingly almost since Jesus Christ was a little boy.
  3. Let anyone and everyone you meet know about your project.  Be excited when you tell them about it.  It is the only way you will be able to get them excited about it.  If they see the thrill on your face, it may be contagious enough for them to want to experience it directly as soon as it is finished.
  4. Disregard the Nay-Sayers.  If anyone, at anytime , tells you:  “Why do you even bother?”  You look them in the eye and say:  “Fuck you!  I try, because I know I can.”  And you keep sitting back down at the chopping block, prepared to hammer out your best writing fueled by the words of the punch-bowl turd you just heard.
  5. Finally, through the entire writing process, do not write to become rich and famous.  I hate to tell you that this will probably never happen.  But write because you love it!  And content yourself with knowing that your writing will still be around long after you are gone.  For this one extreme reason, this is why it is so important to not have a literary turd survive you.  Do you really want your name to be associated with such a piece of shit long after you are gone?  This is where paying the price literally pays off!
  6. If you can afford it, DEFINITELY hire an editor worth their salt.  Also, if you can find an agent who is LEGITIMATE (…and you can tell those by the ones who say to you: “I don’t make money until after you make money”…) then you better jump on it!
  7. Don’t be scared by the advice I’m offering here.  Because even a turd nugget can be turned into a priceless gem after the editing process is completed.  Look at this as a challenge that you know you can overcome.
  8. Also be sure to avoid organizations out there which prey on new writers.  I fell into a trap of using AuthorHouse as my first publisher.  I’ve yet to see my very first penny of royalty from this organization.  They do, however, provide an excellent product…but they WAY overcharge for it.

And Finally!  The Tools of the Trade!

With all of this said, every writer should have some tools at his arsenal.  These are the tools I recommend:

  1. Good Laptop!  You can use a typewriter, word-processor (if they still make these dinosaurs!), or a desktop computer.  But I personally prefer laptops.  Because sometimes you can do some of your best writing in a coffee cafe!  Nothing like a ravenous stream of caffeine to wash away the old writer’s block!
  2. Laptop Bag (I use a messenger bag that holds my reference books as well!)
  3. Memory Stick or USB Drive (Keep Your Manuscript Here for Backup!)
  4. Decent Internet Connection
  5. Good Dictionary & Thesaurus (You Can Also Use http://www.dictionary.com )
  6. Good Reference Books (Some of Which are FREE!)  I’ll even include links where you can get them!
    1. Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing
    2. Building Your Book for Kindle
    3. Book Cover Secrets and Shortcuts
    4. The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need
    5. Crafting Novels & Short Stories (for those wanting to write fiction!)

These are the more important tools in my writing arsenal.  I hope you may find them to be just as vital as you carry them along on your writing journey.

In this article, I hope I’ve successfully conveyed the importance of paying the price to be a good writer and staying true to the craft, as well as also having provided you with what I feel are some very good tools to get you started.

Well to those who have asked me the question,  “What does it take to become a published writer?”, I hope this successfully answers it.  However, I DO urge you to start asking yourself:  “What does it take to become a SUCCESSFUL writer?”

Dick in an X-Box, Anyone?

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Just a recent update to my recent article explaining how Microsoft X-Box refused to give me a $30 download credit when I was having problems playing one of their game discs in my system…

Congratulations, Microsoft!  You lost a perfectly good customer — who spent more than $500 that first year — over $30!  SPLENDIDLY DONE!

For Christmas, I got a brand new Sony Playstation 4 Pro System with 1 TB of data storage.  To pay for it, I sold that damned lemon for probably more than the piece of shit was probably worth.

So, to the very greedy green machine started by the king of greed himself:  Bill Gates…I bid thee:

Fuck you and the horse you rode in on!

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly About the Department of Veterans Affairs

veterans_affairs

I am so very glad that I never joined the Marine Corps solely for the benefits.  Don’t get me wrong, benefits did help to sweeten the pot somewhat.  But the benefits I have gotten from the Department of Veterans Affairs have been average at best.  In some ways, the benefits have been good, in others bad, and in still others downright ugly.

 

Many people have no doubt heard, seen, and read in the news about the various scandals, but there have been times when the V.A. was there for me when I really needed them.

I have a major behavioral problem of which was diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder back when I was in the Marines.  This had been in the 1990s.  A clinical psychologist sat down with me and asked me a bunch of questions concerning various parts of my life and behavioral symptoms and then later prescribed me medication to treat it.  The medication back then was nothing as good as what we have now.

The Good

As a result of this supposed case of ADD, I have held probably no less than 20 jobs since getting out of the military service.  Sometimes, I was fired for performance-related issues; other times for impulsiveness.  This is where the good things about the VA saved me and my livelihood.

The Veterans Affairs Hospitals offer what they call or have called compensated work therapy.  When veterans are out of work, they can be put on a waiting list for temporary employment at the VA hospital where they sign up.  I did this.  Unfortunately, I did witness favoritism toward other veterans who have been in the system longer.  But it was still a great opportunity, and it allowed me a way to help support my family.

The Bad

While I was working on CWT, the VA scandal hit epic proportions which reached all over the nation.  One of the hospitals involved was the hospital where I worked.  I found out about some corrupt practices by certain doctors in the hospital.

It was explained to me that sometimes, when a veteran dies, compensation is left to the serviceperson’s descendants.  In some cases, no descendants were specified; thus, the money would be left in a literal limbo.  Well some of the doctors in this hospital decided to utilize that money for bonuses.

I actually had a doctor that refused to set up a prescription for my blood pressure medication refill for the simple reason that I did not come to see him very regularly and occasionally missed appointments.  The idiot did not even care that I worked for a living and was always out of pocket while the VA was open.  I had to miss work in order to keep appointments.  So, it was clear to me that this doctor cared more about his ego than he did his patients.  So I demanded a new doctor and got a much better one.

Finally, if you talk to just about any veteran in Central Alabama, he will tell you that the hospitals around here will haggle you to death about receiving the disability to which they are entitled.  I’ve encountered this first-hand.  I’ve tried to get compensated for my ADD and degenerative disc disease, both which I first became aware of while serving in the Marines.

The first step is to make an appointment with Compensations and Pensions.  Upon doing so, I sat down with physicians to discuss my complaints of disability.  One of them, a psychologist, flat out told me that I don’t have Attention Deficit Disorder, because I’ve written a book.  That’s about like saying that Beethoven could not compose music because he was deaf.  We artists and authors can still perform despite the conditions that befall us.

The Ugly

More recently, I have been trying to get a prescription for a medication called Vyvanse that has helped me have better control over my concentration and also even helps me to maintain a healthy weight level.  In doing so, I was referred to another psychologist for testing so that I could get a formal diagnosis on my ADD.  In the back of my mind, I knew that this was probably a setup to drive the final nail in my coffin so that I would ultimately never be able to get my disability if they were to somehow determine that I did not have ADD.

The kid that administered the test was probably young enough to be my son and fresh out of college.  I drove all the way from Greenville to Tuskegee two or three different times to perform these tests.  And the kid comes back and tells me that I do not have Attention Deficit Disorder.

“Then what do I have?”

“All I could detect were mild problems with concentration,” says the boy wonder.

“Mild?  I’ve lost numerous jobs because of it.”

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I have an OBVIOUS case of ADD.  Every article that I have ever had displays the very same symptoms that I possess.  Needless to say, I told the kid that I don’t trust the VA any further than I can throw it.

The Bottom Line

We pay taxes and tributes to a government that continues to lie and steal from us.  Our children are coaxed into putting on a uniform so that they can earn college benefits they cannot get anywhere else.  And they are promised that faithful, honorable service will earn them veteran’s benefits up until the day they take their last breaths.

Citizens are always forced to pay into social security even though most of us are not sure it is going to be there for us when we retire.  So my issues with the VA doesn’t really surprise me.  They are just an extension of the corrupt government for which they do its bidding.

Voting on the Lesser of Two Evils

hillary-trump

Whatever happened to the days when the best of the best ended up running against each other for the office of President of the United States?

Now we have one guy who was at one time so arrogant that he thought he could just walk up to any woman and start kissing her while grabbing her at her crotch.  And on the other hand, we have a woman so negligent that she ended up getting some pretty honorable dudes killed in Benghazi and, more recently, ended up carelessly handling national security documents.

So how in the world is a voter supposed to decide between the likes of these two?

Well, you probably already saw the answer in my article’s headline:  Vote on the lesser of the two evils.

When doing so, it is important to consider the issues as well as the individuals.  Benjamin Franklin used to make a list of pros and cons when it came to making tough decisions.

Some of the biggest issues to consider:

  • Illegal immigration
  • Obamacare Insurance
  • Foreign Relations
  • War on Terror Against ISIS
  • Various Others

Some of the biggest things to consider about the candidates:

Donald Trump Pros:

  • Very Shrewd and Keen Business Person
  • Very Transparent (Too Much So, if You Listen to His Opponents)

Donald Trump Cons:

  • Very Crass and Unpolished
  • Very Impulsive with His Words
  • Checkered Past Where His Attitude with Women is Concerned
  • Not Much Experience in Politics

Hillary Clinton Pros:

  • She Possesses a Wealth of Experience in Politics
  • Her Experience as a First Lady Could Come in Handy as the First Woman President

Hillary Clinton Cons:

  • Her Connection to White Water Turns the Stomach of Many Americans
  • Her Negligence in Past Positions Tarnish the Faith Many Americans Have for Her
    • As Secretary of Defense, she neglected some very important emails which could have saved several lives in Benghazi.
    • She was recently discovered as having government documents on her own personal server in violation of national security doctrine.  Evidence points to the fact that her aide was tipped off that an investigation was forthcoming and was instructed to “dump the emails sooner rather than later”.
  • Despite the fact that she has taken opportunity to bash Trump for sexually-insensitive comments he had made several years prior, many of her supporters conveniently forget that she once legally defended a rapist who had raped a 12-year-old girl.
  • There is suspicion as to how the FBI suddenly halted the investigation into her emails.  Many believe that she may have bribed an official to “make the problem go away”.  With her background in politics, it is certainly not too hard to believe she would be able to have enough clout to pull something like this off.

There are probably more pros and cons on both of these sordid individuals.  But I’m a working stiff with limited time to research.  These are the biggest things that stand out as far as I can see.

Our country has been through the ringer over the past several decades.  Our economy is in the tank.  Our nation is not as well respected as it once was many years ago.  Something has to change…and change for the BETTER.  We need a leader who can make it happen.  So it is up to us to vote for who we believe can do it.

I’ve already made my mind up as for whom I will vote this Tuesday.  Now it is up to every other American to do the same thing.  If you don’t like either individual, you may want to consider just how much you don’t like them.  Maybe one of them you cannot stand enough to see in office.  Either way, it may be in your best interest — as well as the rest of the nation — to go ahead and get out…and vote!

 

Launch Successful!

sample-illustration

I wish to thank everyone who has purchased An Interstate Ghost Story: The Girl on the Highway on and off the launch event I’ve posted on Facebook.  I seemed to sell 12 copies right off the bat with many more promises from several to soon purchase their copies.

I’ll hardly become a millionaire from the sells of this title as I’m only asking for 99 cents per copy.  But my goal is simply to get my work into as many hands as possible so that people will know and hopefully remember my name and the work associated with it.  So please don’t be discouraged by the price.  Many may be tempted to think:  “The e-book is only less than a dollar.  How good could it possibly be?”  I can assure you, the story is every bit as solid as they come.

However, please be warned that the story is very dark and sinister.  I have a strange feeling that women are going to either love me, hate me, or perhaps both, with an intensity that I’m almost scared to imagine.  They may love me for creating a very heroic female protagonist who ends up being the ultimate hero in the entire story.  But it is also possible that they will hate me for everything that I put her through.  I actually put her through a torture every bit as terrifying as what James Bond himself experienced in Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale.  My goal was not to create a female James Bond by any means, but simply one who is tougher than most men with whom she works in a male predominant field of expertise, the Alabama Highway Patrol.

So, I now hereby promise you that you are getting a book every bit as exciting as those written by your most famous modern authors, for an incredible low price.  Please take advantage of it now.  Because if sales continue to escalate like I expect them to, the price may end up seeing a small increase.

Thanks again, fellow horror readers!

 

X-Box One = X- Box NONE!

XBOXSHIT

I just had a horrible experience with Microsoft’s X-Box technical support.  One that is going to cost them DEARLY!

I spend hundreds of dollars a year in video games that will now most likely go to Sony.

I’ve been having a hard time with my Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag video game for the X-Box One.  It started out once my in-game ship pulled into port at Nassau.  A prompt came up asking if I wanted to pull into Nassau.  I said “Yes”.  And the game simply CRASHED!

Hoping it was just a fluke, I ended up trying again… CRASH!

Pissed, I looked online for a solution to find out that I’m not the only X-Box One customer to have had this problem.  There were many others dating all the way back to 2013.  And you can count on half a hand how many of them found a solution (though very complicated) that worked for them.  So I tried all of these things.  Nothing worked.

So I simply told myself:  Microsoft is going to have to give me a download copy of the game and allow me to see if that works as a suitable replacement.  But if it were only that simple!

So I contacted them earlier today and spent hours troubleshooting my game system.  My phone dropped the call a couple of times with one tech who never even bothered calling me back after the second time.  And the other guy ended up being about as useful as tits on a bull.

When everything was said and done, and they realized that nothing they had me do to troubleshoot was worth a steaming pile of shit, the guy contacts whoever he was supposed to contact to see about getting me a download copy of the game.  After waiting yet again about 20 minutes, the guy comes back on the phone to tell  me that they cannot do me the courtesy of permitting me to get a download copy of the game.

What a crock of horse shit!

But I still have another option.  I have the replacement plan on my system from where I originally bought the lemon.  So I will attempt to dump it back off on them in order to get a new system that will HOPEFULLY play this game.  And if that fails, I will simply sell my POS X-Box One and turn ALL of my gaming business toward Sony.

I originally felt like it was my patriotic duty to buy this piece of shit instead of the PS4, which of course is made by the Japanese-owned Sony.  So I am now sick of anyone who spreads that bullshit around.  When American-owned goliaths like Microsoft become too damned big for their britches, then I feel there is NOT ONE DAMNED THING wrong with no longer supporting them.  WHO CARES if we give our business to a foreign company!  A better product is a BETTER PRODUCT.  If American companies don’t like it, then maybe they should compete better with not only better quality assurance for their products, but also better support for the lame pieces of shit that they obviously didn’t care to take the time to develop properly in the first damned place.

I conclude this article with a picture of Bill Gates getting a well-deserved PIE IN THE FACE.  If only it had been a huge pile of steaming, corn-filled shit instead!

Bill Gates Pie Face.gif