Tag Archives: Phil

Phil Sanderson’s Indy Author Toolbox!


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?”


Launch Successful!


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!


An Interstate Ghost Story: The 4 W’s of Excitement and Intrigue!

Girl on the Highway Cover

Thousands of people eagerly await the release of An Interstate Ghost Story:  The Girl on the Highway, my horror novel that has been a long time in the coming and is now only perhaps halfway through the development process.  But I simply cannot rush this one out before it is ready for ULTIMATE SUCCESS!  I’ve done it once before and was entirely unsatisfied with the result.

But what I can do is give you bits and pieces of valuable information that will surely whet your appetite as the impending day creeps forward!  In doing so, I submit to you the most revealing look at The Girl on the Highway yet:  The 5 W’s of Excitement and Intrigue!

I will blog five articles, each written on a weekly basis through the month of April.  They will be titled as follows:

  1. April 9:  Who is the Ghost, and Who Seeks Her?
  2. April 16:  What Expectations Exist from the Story of “The Girl on the Highway”?
  3. April 23:  Approximately When Will the Book Hit the Shelves?
  4. April 30:  Where in the Real World Does this Haunt Occur?

I have but three (huge, to me; small, for you) favors to ask in all of this.  Please help this most humble writer in getting the word out and creating even more excitement than I could ever hope to do on my own.  My family and I are coming to depend upon my writing more and more as my disability (degenerative disc disease in my neck) worsens, continuing to threaten my ability to work in physically-demanding environments.  There simply are not enough well-paying administrative positions available here in Alabama.  Thus, I simply ask:

  1. Please engage with your fellow friends and followers on Social Media.  If you are reading this on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, please hit the back button and send this link to your Wall, Retweet it, or Share it in whatever most creative way possible to everyone you know.  And please help me sell this novel!  Put your own spin on the excitement.  If you can do this, my family and I will be most grateful to you and very happy to see that there are still good people in the world who reach out to help others.  I also wish to thank my wife, brother, and sister for being my most engaging followers to date!
  2. Please engage with me on my own social media.  I am on Facebook:   http://tinyurl.com/zw6ubws ;  I am on  Google+:  http://tinyurl.com/jfm6hdy ;  I am on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/phil_writer ;   I am on Instagram:  http://tinyurl.com/gwlueby ;  And finally, I am on Pinterest:  http://tinyurl.com/z9p4hb9 .   Please comment too!  I am thankful for all the “Likes” and “Thumbs-Ups” I have been getting.  But sometimes it is fun to hear comments and answer questions as well.  Note:  Because WordPress obviously runs on a sub-standard engine, some of the links are not clickable above.  But feel free to right-click on them for a clickable link.
  3. Finally, please support me by buying my books, right now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and about to be released on Smashwords, Kobo, and various others.  I also occasionally mark down my work to create more of a Win-Win environment for all involved.  By keeping up with me on Social Media, you will always be the first to know of these fabulous opportunities.

Please enjoy this journalistic look at what is shaping up to be my most promising and defining literary work to date!  And God bless all of you!

Author Q & A


As a self-published author, I am asked a lot of questions by people who are curious in one way or another.  Sometimes, they ask questions due to a desire to become published writers themselves.  But here are a lot of questions that I am asked:

What exactly is my writing background?

I am a former Marine Corps photojournalist who also wrote for the Goldsboro Times newspaper for a short time.  I published my first action thriller novel, 2018: An Uncivil War, in 2013, as well as my comedic short story, The Saint Who Stole Christmas.

What inspired me and inspires me to write and continue writing?

As a teenager, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels convinced me that writing would be in my ultimate future, though I knew not when and how.  In later life, the works of Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn reignited that passion, pushing me toward my goal of finally becoming a published novelist.

Who are my strongest writing influences?

I’ve already mentioned Ian Fleming, Tom Clancy, and Vince Flynn…these guys were my strongest influences on my action thriller passion.  As for my love of horror, Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King caught my attention and studious eye.

What are my goals as a writer?

To ultimately live my dream.  Previously, it was to leave a lasting, immortal footprint in the world of literature.  Now that I have accomplished this, my next goal is to become a local celebrity in the state of Alabama, similar in manner of Kathryn Tucker Windham; though my work is more raw than hers was ever meant to be.  My final goal will be to sell enough books that I can live without ever having to work for anyone else ever again.  If I become as successful as Tom Clancy and Stephen King, that is perfectly okay too!

How often do I read, and what do I usually read?

I read frequently, often garnering knowledge and wisdom from writers who have achieved the success that I hope to someday achieve.  Right now, I am reading Stephen King’s collection of short stories, Night Shift.  I’ve also been reading the stories of H.P. Lovecraft of whom’s work I have discovered a new fascination.

How long did it take me to write my first novel, and what all was involved?

For 2018: An Uncivil War, I conducted research into the history of the American Revolution and the American Civil War.  I also poured over numerous gun rights / gun control statistics.  Various interviews had been scheduled and were conducted…all of this in an effort to make my work as realistic and authoritative as possible.  I spent approximately 9 months in the actual writing, but probably more than a year combined with all of the activities mentioned above.

What is the plot synopsis of this novel?

The start of the 2nd American Civil War dawns after the American federal government repeals the Second Amendment (right to bear arms).

How did it sell, and how do I feel about this level of success?

Initially, I had hoped that the strong feelings on the subject of gun rights and gun control would have boosted this novel into best seller status.  But I instead sold between 100 and 150 copies in print and digital formats.  It may not have been a New York Times bestseller, by any means.  But I am surprised to have sold more than just 50 copies!  I am quite pleased with the limited success in which I was blessed.

How much money do I make from my books?

The money I make from my books is certainly nothing to brag over.  Having come from virtual obscurity into the world of book publishing, one cannot expect to make very much money.  With the cost I paid to AuthorHouse to have my book released in print, I operated at a major financial loss.  The biggest gain I have received is from my loyal following of readers.  2018 is blessed with a four-star rating on Amazon and five stars on Barnes and Noble.  So I don’t need money to give me a feeling of accomplishment, though it certainly would never hurt.

What did it take to get 2018 into print?  How do I feel about the publisher?

I had to research a publisher and ended up choosing AuthorHouse.  I had to send them my cover image and book files, and they did all the rest.  The hardest part was the investment to get my work published.  That set me back between $3- and $4-thousand.

I regret the decision to publish with them, though they did an excellent job of book presentation.  I later found out that CreateSpace, through Amazon, offers just as good a product for much less money.

I heard, after the fact, that AuthorHouse exploits new writers; and now I truly believe it.

What other books written by me are available for purchase?

After publishing 2018, I wrote a short story and published it in two different editions (Children’s and Off-Color).  And I’ve been working on my second novel, a horror story called An Interstate Ghost Story: The Girl on the Highway.  Finally, I most recently released a table-top role-playing game called The Sea Dogs where you can create pirate characters and run them through adventurous sea tales.  All of this is available on Amazon.  However, 2018 is available on Barnes & Noble and the AuthorHouse website as well.

What works can readers expect from me in the near future?

I hope to release An Interstate Ghost Story within the next year or so.  However, I am taking my time with this one; attempting to make sure there is no doubt whatsoever that I will have released the best possible product of literature.  And I am also in consideration of releasing a non-fiction book.  But this I must keep under tight wraps for now.

More specifically, what can I divulge about my next work, the horror story?

When more than 30 people die in a massive, horrible accident near Montgomery, Alabama on Interstate 65, the state troopers contact a disgraced celebrity paranormal investigator named Cliff Rodger to investigate this and numerous other previous accidents.  Rumors abound that a ghost known as the Girl on the Highway may be causing most of the accidents between Montgomery and Greenville in the state of Alabama.

Am I planning to write a sequel to my first novel?

My wife is thoroughly pissed off about this, but I refuse to release a sequel until the first novel becomes successful enough to warrant it.  It isn’t because I’m being a spoiled brat throwing a childish tantrum; it’s because I will need to take a trip overseas in order to obtain the realism that I demand in my novels.

Is it true that I am having some physical problems that affect my ability to write?

I have degenerative disc disease in my cervical spine which includes spurring.  These spurs pinch and threaten to sever nerves which allow me strength and coordination in my left hand and arm.  So I now type clumsily with my left hand.  I have recently had an MRI and suspect that it is time for another spine fusion (I’ve already had one titanium plate surgically fused into my neck).

What is my biggest dream as a writer?

My biggest dream as a writer is to be able to successfully sustain the comfort, wellness, and happiness of me and my family, while writing books that the reading public will love, cherish, and remember forever.

What advice can I give to people who wish to become writers?

Don’t!  It is a very tough job filled with tons of competition, some friendly, others not so.  But for those who simply love it like I do, please feel free to contact me at phil.sanderson.writer@gmail.com for some quick free advice.





In a Perfect World…


In a perfect world, we would all be in good health and working in perfect jobs!  I, for one, would be a bestselling author on the New York Times list and would be a poster board of perfect mental health.

My case has always been very tricky.  I am an adult living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  I have had an average of no less than one job a year, since I got my first job in 1985.  And when I have tried to get understanding about my fine mess I’m in, I’ve been told several times:  “Phil, you cannot use A.D.H.D. as a crutch.”  The truth of the matter is that if I had been using it as a crutch, I would have shoved it so far up their asses that no other crutch would ever help them to walk again!

Chief among my problems are inability to concentrate for long periods of time; I also tend to be very impulsive (in one case it got me fired!); I am extremely forgetful; I tend to misplace things (and this makes me look very irresponsible when serving as a manager!); I also tend to misread my work schedules, and one time failed to show up as scheduled; and most tragically, most of the time when a supervisor gives me instructions, I somehow end up not comprehending all of it and totally butchering the whole task.  All of this, in combination really serves to make me look like an unprofessional idiot.

Some people talk so fast that I think to myself — SLOW DOWN, I’M NOT GETTING ANY OF THIS!  Social situations are awkward for me when I see someone I’ve recently met.  Because I cannot remember their names, I am unable to make an introduction.  So I instead say to my wife or daughter:  “I’d love to introduce you to that person over there, but I cannot remember his name.”

All of these are common symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  And sure as bird-shit on a windshield wiper, I HAVE IT, DAMMIT!


In two most recent cases, I’ve had a doctor at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Montgomery, Alabama and one of my bosses both tell me:  “Phil, you are able to write books; you do not have any real problems.”

Saying that I do not have ADHD, is like someone saying that Beethoven wasn’t really deaf, since he continued to compose music after becoming so.  It’s, without a doubt, sheer stupidity, ignorance, and severe lack of empathy for those less fortunate.  People with conditions and disabilities learn to adapt to their situation.  But they are still at a severe disadvantage even after doing so.

Sure, I wrote a book!  But even to this day, I can find sentences that I could have written better.  It took me several drafts before I finally got it write (which is not totally uncommon for most writers, since none of us are perfect).  But at one point in my plot line for 2018: An Uncivil War, I forgot a minor detail that caused me a major amount of revision that took a couple of weeks to straighten out.  Another key difference between succeeding in a normal day-by-day job and writing a book is that — as a new writer who is not making much at all off my writing — a book does not possess the ability to fire me, taking away whatever key source of income I have coming into my household.  A book is a lot more flexible.  I can reread it, and change it as necessary.  When I make a major mistake at work, it is not as easy to correct.  And bosses have a much better memory than the books I write.  So all I can do is try to do the best I can in spite of myself.

Sure!  I have many different coping mechanisms.  For example, I habitually try to keep things I use frequently in the same place at all times when I am not using them.  When I first meet a person, I try to repeat their names several times when talking to them in hopes that it will stick in my head and come to me when I see their face again in the future.  Sometimes, if something is important enough, I may put a shoe in my bathroom sink to remind me that I have to address it.  And sometimes I have to make myself finish a task before moving on to something else.

Basically, being a person with this condition is like being a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

I can take medication to eliminate much of this static; Vyvanse works the best for me, by far.  But even then, there will still be one or two symptoms that will manage to slip in to rear their ugly heads once more.

So, if you are responsible for or to someone — maybe a worker or a family member — with any type of attention deficit disorder, please don’t accuse them of using it as a crutch.  Life already sucks enough for them because of this condition; no need to add insult to injury.  Instead, try to be more understanding and accommodating.  If you do so, I truly believe God will bless you for it in the end.

Free Pirates Theme Pack!


The pirates of legend have always been a very interesting lot, unlike those clowns in Somalia…they are only wanna-be’s!  The new year also happens to see the second season of a television show of which I am very fond:  Black Sails!

Celebrate the New Year with this new Pirates Theme pack I have just created for Windows 8 and 8.1!  You can download it here: