Rod Raglin

This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.

#5 - Forest - an exploration of wild things, wild places and intimate relationships

FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend - Rod Raglin

How I came to write my fifth novel, Forest - Love, Loss and Legend.


My fifth novel was being written in my head even before I put anything on paper (more precisely typed anything into my laptop). It was the residuals of past works.


Left over from The Big Picture - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic was my research into the drug war in Mexico which my heroine Freyja covered as a photo journalist. I'd also done some investigating of failed states and civil wars throughout Africa where she was going on her next assignment. Added to that was my fascination with war correspondents and how they cope with a steady diet of death, destruction, chaos and hopelessness.


I also wanted to delve deeper into intimate relationships - what attracts us, what keep us engaged and what are the impediments to long lasting relationships? I'd touch on this in my previous novels with the turbulent romances between Freyja and Marty, and Freyja and Miguel in The Big Picture, and Dieter and Maggie in Not Wonder More - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients. I wanted to explore further how different values, different cultures, timing and circumstances impact on how, who and when we fall in love - and if it lasts.


I set this book in the Pacific Northwest of Canada - perhaps one of the few areas on the planet where there still are vast tracts of wilderness. Where, behind an impenetrable wall of green it was as my hero, Matt Bennett says, “easy to imagine no human had ever set foot a hundred metres on either side of the road. Species could come to life, thrive and die without anyone except God ever knowing they existed.”


This land is a place of legend and mystery and if you're born and raised here and take an interest in the wild things and wild places as I have, well, there's no end to fascinating tales with just enough substantiated fact to whet the imagination. Two of which I incorporated into this story.


Here's the blurb that introduces the novel.


Matthew and Raminder are young, idealistic and in love.

As soon as they can they plan to leave behind the small town and small minds of Pitt Landing. They will embrace life and experience the world, maybe even change it.

Man plans, God laughs. Raminder’s father has a stroke and her commitment to her family means she must postpone her plans and stay in Pitt Lake. It’s just the opposite for Matt. A family tragedy leaves irreconcilable differences between him and his father and forces him to leave.

They promise to reunite, but life happens.

Twelve years later, Matt is an acclaimed war correspondent. He’s seen it all and it’s left him with post-traumatic stress, a gastric ulcer, and an enlarged liver. He’s never been back to Pitt Landing though the memory of Raminder and their love has more than once kept him sane.

He’s at his desk in the newsroom, recuperating from his last assignment and current hangover and reading a letter from his father, the first contact they’ve had in over a decade. It talks about a legendary lost gold mine, a map leading to it, and proof in a safety deposit box back in Pitt Lake. He’s sent it to Matt in case something happens to him and cautions his son to keep it a secret.

Matt is about to dismiss the letter when the telephone rings. It’s Raminder telling him his father has disappeared somewhere in the wilderness that surrounds Pitt Lake.

Lost gold, lost love and lost hope compels Matt to return home to Pitt Landing, a dying town on the edge of the rainforest on the west coast of Canada. Will he find any of these, or does something else await him?


This novel also gave me an opportunity to revisit one of my central themes - the environment, specifically the protection of endangered species and forest conservation.


Quite inadvertently it also turned out to be a mystery.


Forest - Love, Loss, Legend was released in January 2015 with no expectations. Sales have been dismal despite the handful of very flattering reviews it has garnered.


Perhaps because it was told from only one point of view, Forest was easy to write. Too easy. I resolved that my next book would be more challenging in format and content.


You can check all my published work at my Amazon Author Page at


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.






Friends and family not an asset for this writer

When it comes to my writing and friends and family I've established clear boundaries. Here they are:


- I don’t talk about my writing even if asked. Those inquiring are usually only doing it to be polite and aren't really interested. In any case, listening to someone talk about their writing is profoundly boring – even for me and I’m a writer.

- I don’t solicit reviews or ratings from them. I try to avoid even the faintest hint of conflict of interest in the support and criticisms I get.

- I very rarely give them my books. If they’re interested they can buy one.


I once went to a birthday party where a friend’s partner had rented a gallery and had a show professionally mounted of her paintings. Needless to say, most of those attending bought some of her art. She was thrilled.


This to me was not a measure of artistic merit. I didn’t buy anything, in fact, I was surprised and not a little offended. This was hardly better than a Tupperware party.  


I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to take advantage of my friends and family. I don’t want to demean myself and my work.


The independent publishing industry is rife with nepotism, gimmicks, and chicanery – all geared toward reaching bestseller status. I don’t care if I’m a bestseller, but I do want to become a better writer. I think these practices prevent that from happening by creating a false sense of accomplishment.


You think you’re good, but your not. You’re delusional.  


I don’t know if this stand has hurt my sales or not. If it has it hasn’t been significant because I’m just not that popular – with friends or family.


I've also developed guidelines for social media.


I don't solicit followers on Twitter, don't "friend" people on Facebook, and don't appeal to viewers to "like" or "subscribe" to my YouTube channel.


I do encourage comments and criticisms which I faithfully respond to and hopefully learn something from.


Amazingly, some people chose to follow me which is gratifying because it definitely is not reciprocated.


I had one expert tell me "social media is not for you". Really? Maybe just not her kind of social media, the kind where friends and followers are little more than meaningless numbers and bare no resemblance of reality.


I still believe a social media following can be built by someone who has something interesting and original to say regardless of whether he's a friend, follower or subscriber.


Later this month I'll be waiting with Linus in the pumpkin patch.



Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs






Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at


Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding my books


Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews:


Cover Art of books by self-published authors at


More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to:


View my flickr photostream at


Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music






On self publishing The Big Picture - and becoming an indie author

 The Big Picture - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic, was the first novel I knew I would publish independently.


I wanted to explore a number issues and without the constrains of genre I had no idea where they would take me. I was excited.


I wanted to examine the creative process - and how the art and the artist are influenced by the marketplace.


I wanted to delve into the intensity of family dynamics - how wonderful it is when it works and how damaging it can be when it doesn't.


I wanted complex characters and authentic relationships.


As a journalist, I'd covered stories that couldn't be reported. I knew what was going on but I couldn't get someone to go on (or off) the record to admit it. It's frustrating, but what could you do?


Well, you can use it in fiction. The plot of The Big Picture is comprised of some of those unsubstantiated stories and also my investigation into the influence on our lives of drug money.


To get at my protagonist's inner journey I went deep inside myself, rooted around, and came forth with not so much the truth about a life I've experienced, but one I'd hoped (still hope) to live.


Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe said, "One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised." I wanted Freyja, my heroine, to be that person. I wanted to see where her blunt refusal to compromise and her intolerant attitude toward those who do would lead her.


Here's what I came up with:


Young, talented, ambitious, Freyja Brynjarrson’s a photographer struggling to crash the art establishment, the challenges presented by her family, and still keep true to her uncompromising ethic.

Fate places her on the front line of a political demonstration where soldiers open fire on civilians. She photographs death for the first time and likes it.

Because of the sensitive nature of her pictures the current government, facing an imminent election, tries to suppress them. But someone far more unscrupulous than government spin-doctors also wants those images destroyed.

Gunnar Brynjarrson, Freyja’s eldest brother is the head of an illegal narcotics empire. He’s concerned about the opposition party’s platform to decriminalize drugs. His sister’s photographs could influence the outcome of a close election and put his business in jeopardy.

As events unfold, Freyja slowly becomes aware of the far-reaching impact the billions of narco dollars have on the government, the economy, friends, family and even herself. Something insidious has infected society and like a super bug it’s resilient, opportunistic and appears as a mutation in the most unexpected places.

Freyja refuses to compromise and is intolerant and unforgiving of those who succumb to this evil or are complicit in their acceptance of it. If she stays at home she’s afraid she’ll be infected and never attain success on her own terms.

She takes an assignment with an international agency photographing the chaos and casualties of Mexico’s drug war. Freyja soon discovers she’s shot only one frame of ‘the big picture’.

The Big Picture focuses on dramatic action, zooms in on political intrigue, and takes a candid snap shot of modern romance. The plot also reveals how narco dollars, overtly and covertly, influence every level of our lives; the wars we fight, the governments we elect, the impact on healthcare, and most importantly and tragically, our personal relationships.


When The Big Picture was finished I set about self-publishing. I used Kindle Direct for the e-book and Createspace for the paperback, both Amazon platforms.


I know a little about publishing having been (and still am) a community newspaper publisher for nearly four decades. Mind you, with the speed technology is evolving past experience doesn't count for much, if anything. In any case, I didn't find the process that difficult. The most difficult part was, and still is, making sure my original manuscript is error free.


I loved this book. I did everything I could to promote it - used social media, sent out advance copies, ran giveaways, sent forth positive thoughts.


I allowed myself to hope. It was a mistake. The Big Picture was self-published without acclaim, reviews or sales. I was disappointed. I felt bad, not so much for myself as for the book. I felt I had let everyone down - meaning my characters.


I regrouped and focused on why I write - because I love to, to learn new things, and to pass my view of the world on to others. Two out of three - not too bad.


Upon reflection I realized The Big Picture had done no worse than the first three books I had published with a publisher. I enjoyed the independence of self-publishing - and the responsibility. So when it became time to renew the contracts with my publisher I said I would if they would publish all the books as paperbacks. We compromised - they published Not Wonder More - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients and I yanked the other two books, Spirit Bear and Eagleridge Bluffs.


I subsequently self-published and released Spirit Bear as

 Saving Spirit Bear - What Price Success, and Eagleridge Bluffs as Loving the Terrorists - Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs. My re-released books have fared no worse than the one remaining on the publisher's list, all have done terrible.


Next month I'll retain the rights of my last book under contract and I plan to re-release it as a self-published book as well.


The next time I'll talk about , Forest - Love, Loss, Legend, how came out of the residuals of the previous book - war, drugs, and murder combined with my love of the wilderness - it's splendor and it's mystery.



Nominate The LOCAL RAG for Kindle Scout

I've entered my new novel, The LOCAL RAG, in Kindle Scout and it would be great if you took a look, read the preview and if you like it nominate it.


Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.


If I win you get a free e-book - I get $1,500. That sounds fair - at least to me.


Here's the link:


What are you waiting for - only 26 days left.



#3 - Writing romance or literary fiction? And what about your publisher?

Not Wonder More - Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients (Eco-Warriors, #3) - Rod Raglin

Next Question: Did your third novel Not Wonder More, Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients resolve the issue of whether to write genre or literary fiction? And what about your publisher?



I had a list of topics I wanted to research for my next novel including mental illness, magic, natural healing, global warming and old growth forests as well as naked ambition, Nietzsche's philosophy of "the Will to Power" and principle of cause and effect.


One of the reasons I write is to learn new things. I task my characters with personality traits, careers and philosophies I want to learn more about. How was I to achieve this in the context of my third and final romance novel, the last in the Eco-Warrior series?


How about having two people from very disparate backgrounds, with conflicting personalities, on the opposite sides of a seemingly irreconcilable issue fall in love?


Not too original, you say? Anyhow, here's a snapshot of the story behind Not Wonder More, Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.


Magic, mystery and madness versus logic, cause and effect.

Can love find a middle ground?


Maggie talks to trees. Dieter talks to corporations.

Maggie embraces mystery and flirts with magic.

Dieter adheres to logic and the doctrine of Nietzsche.

Dieter's client wants to destroy the trees.

The trees want Maggie to protect them.

Dieter has terminal cancer. Maggie is schizophrenic.

Maggie says she can save him, if he'll save the trees.

Dieter thinks she's crazy, but what choice does he have?

A week together alone on Deadman's Island changes everything for both of them.

Is it madness? Is it magic? Or is it love?


This novel was an adventure. Almost immediately the characters took on lives of their own. As a conduit I was channeled in the quest to learn more about schizophrenia and the stigma of mental illness, the logic behind Nietzsche's doctrine of the Will to Power - the main driving force in humans – achievement, ambition, and the striving to reach the highest possible position in life. There was also an exploration of natural healing remedies and medicinal plants and the ecology of ancient forests.


As my characters developed so did their bond to one another - tentatively, intuitively and finally passionately.


But these characters were flawed. There is no cure for Maggie's schizophrenia. Happily Ever After wasn't possible. The best that can be hoped for was an uneasy truce with the illness.


Did I care? Not one bit.


I had been taken on an adventure without maps with no clear destination and accompanying me were these fascinating characters. It truly was a life within a life. If you've had this experience you know what I mean. If you haven't I sincerely hope you do.


My entire perspective changed. I no longer was frustrated by my lack of success. It seemed almost irrelevant. I shutdown my Facebook page and quit my time consuming, unproductive writer chat/critique groups. The key to this other world was to become a better writer. I wanted go there and bring others with me.


To think that I could set parameters for my writing now seemed ridiculous. I would simply go where it took me or as Norman Mailer put it, “Until you see where your ideas lead to, you know nothing.”


My next book was already taking shape in my mind and it wouldn't be a romance, more likely it would fall into the category of literary/commercial. That made it unlikely my publisher would want to take it on.


I didn't care.


What had my publisher given me so far - slick, cheesy covers that didn't represent the story, no editing, no proof reading (readers said they liked the stories but not the typos) and they were reluctant to publish them in paperback which Amazon would do for free.


It wasn't like they'd mislead me or provided more or better services for other authors, but my books deserved better than what they were getting. I resolved to do two things - not renew my publishing contracts and self-publish my next book.


Besides, it now seemed untenable to abandon the fate of my books to someone else. I wanted to control their destiny - to set their prices or for that matter to give them away, to promote or not without restriction.


I understood self-publishing would mean doing my own promotion. I began researching book marketing techniques and was astounded and disturbed. Most "marketing experts" encouraged you to pander to friends, family - anyone and everyone to get them to post flattering reviews and ratings. There were sites that would write positive reviews for money and authors who would "swap" positive reviews.


It was then I decided to make writing my one true thing. If I was going to fail I'd at least do it with my integrity intact. It wasn't that I'd lived an immoral life up until then, but I'd cut a few corners.


Full disclosure seemed the best way to do this. I began to write my blog, "Writing - the experience" , chronicling my progress, or lack of it, and sharing what I discovered along the way and how I felt about it in regards to writing, publishing and marketing.


I felt relieved and renewed. I was not going to be a bestselling author. The pressure was off.


Question #4: So how did your new direction - writing and self-publishing literary/ commercial fiction, work out for you?


Great theme diminished by poor presentation

The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro

 George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."


Kazuo Ishiguro explores that notion in his novel The Buried Giant, set medieval Britain.


Axl and Beatrice are an elderly couple who decide, quite inexplicably, to visit their son who lives in a village a short, but dangerous journey away - they think.


The problem is everyone, the entire population, is suffering from loss of memory. They can hardly remember what transpired even a few weeks ago. Axl and Beatrice don't remember why their son left, exactly where the village he lives in is, or if they'll be welcomed when they arrive?


On their way they take up with a wandering Saxon warrior, Wistan, and also come across Sir Gawain, an aging knight who served King Arthur.


Glimpses of the past intrigue and befuddle all the characters. Have their paths crossed before? Were they friend or foe? And what has caused this loss of memory?


The story is sprinkled with myth and legend and a good thing because this reader had to apply magic to make sense of Ishiguro's plot.


At some point Beatrice becomes convinced that the pervasive memory loss is caused by the breath of the legendary dragon, Querig, who lives high in the mountains. And wouldn't you know it, Wistan is on a mission to kill that very same dragon.


Beatrice now decides her goal is to help dispatch the dragon first. Just how an aged woman in failing health can help is never explained. Once everyone's memory is restored she and Axl will then proceed to visit their son. Sir Gawain also joins in the quest to kill the dragon or so the reader is led to believe.


Ironically, most of the partial memories that continue to be evoked are far from pleasant - turmoil in relationships and war and slaughter of innocent women and children. Axl's worries what the future will hold if memories are restored.


Though the theme of the story is compelling this reader had to wonder why Ishiguro chose such a odd narrative vehicle to present it. The significance of whether knowing history, personal or societal, helps us avoid the same mistakes or encourages us to double-down on them was lost because the story was set in the distant past, muddled in myth and supernatural creatures, and burdened by the archaic dialogue style the author created.





Can you do the same thing and expect a different result? Maybe.

I once had a friend (yes, I did) who was just recovering from his second divorce. Given the emotional (two kids with each wife) and financial (dividing of community assets) devastation I asked him what he would do differently in a new relationship?


My understanding is if we do everything the same how can we expect a different result?


I ask myself this question as I'm in the process of launching my seventh novel.


You could say, start by writing a better book (ouch) and you'd be right. But that's kind of like my friend saying he'd find a better partner, which he actually said and did - though I'm not sure if she's better.


My novels are far from being perfect, but - and I hope I don't sound too delusional, egotistical or like everyone else who has written back-to-back-to-back flops - they're at least as good as some books that have had way, way more success (sales) than mine.


And my books aren't alone. In my reviewing the books of new self-published authors (Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Book Reviews I find about twenty percent have written remarkable books and yet they have zero success.


So enough talk about failure (and justifying it), the question is what to do different with the launch of The Local Rag, so it has more success than the others have achieved so far?


At the time of writing this I have 394 followers on BookLikes, 39 on Twitter, 13 on Goodreads and 61 subscribers to my blog. Some are actually people. I've been told by the experts if I want your support I need to interact with you, build a relationship, give if I want to get.


Okay. This is tough for someone as misanthropic as I am, but here's what I'll do. If you comment on something I've posted I'll respond. Will I "like", "friend" or "follow" you? Let's go slow, one step at a time, this is, after all, is a new relationship.


I've listened in on some webinar's on marketing and have tweaked my social media sites adding my Amazon Author Page link to my profile and a list of my books and plays on my Twitter header photo (like this will make a difference).


The most interesting thing I learned was from Chris Syme of Smart Marketing for Authors when she presented a graph showing the Funnel Influence By Network broken down into which social media sites performed best when it came to Introduction, Awareness, Purchase Point Conversion and One Touch Purchase.


Of course, she could have just told the listeners which sites sell more books but apparently obfuscation is the key when it comes to good marketing or at least the presentation of if.


Anyhow, according to this graph you're just not happening unless you have a Facebook presence.


I stopped using Facebook about seven years ago when my wife asked me if I was interested in any of the people I had "friended". I said no. She said, "Then why do you think they're interested in you?"


Most recently a young acquaintance with over five hundred "Facebook friends" invited them all to her birthday party. The only people who came were a few of her immediate family.


Despite my moral misgivings and uncertainty about the effectiveness and authenticity of this social media site, I revisited it.


What I found is that I can link my Twitter feed to my Facebook page so I won't have to double post (probably I'm the only one who didn't know this). That was encouraging.


So here's what I've resolved. I now have a Facebook page where you can view all my tweets and some more stuff on writing, community development and the environment. I'm not "friending" anyone because I think it's dishonest to pretend to be interested in someone when you're not. However, you can still "follow" me and get some good information from my timeline.


My problem is I have this integrity thing - it's a proving to be a real liability

Writing is my one true thing and I won't sully it with chicanery and deceit.


So all this time (and words) you've been wondering about my twice divorced friend, did he do anything different?


No, but here's the thing - even though his third wife (unbelievable, I know) is very similar to his previous two, his circumstances have changed and so their relationship appears successful (so far).


Does that just negate everything I said?


What do you think?


Stay clam, be brave, watch for the signs



Facebook link


Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Books Reviews link


Amazon Author Page link







Rewrite, revise, rethink?

I'm about to begin the third rewrite of my latest novel, The Local Rag and am feeling very unmotivated.


Despite the lack of success of my previous novels and plays, I've always been up to for the rewrites of a new work. This time I'm wondering if it's all just and exercise in futility.


What do you do when you're feeling frustrated and dispirited with a project - other than send a message out into the digital void?


Apparently I have 394 followers on this site. How many will respond or are you all like Facebook "friends"?




Did you find your second novel, Loving the Terrorist, restricted by genre?

Loving the Terrorist: Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs (ECO-WARRIORS Book 2) - Rod Raglin

QUESTION: Did you find the plot and the characters in your second novel, Loving the Terrorist, restricted by the confines of this genre?


Despite the lack of success of my first novel, Saving Spirit Bear, my publisher was still keen on publishing two more novels as part of the Eco-Fi series, Eco-Warriors, and I was still keen on writing them. The plan (remember the plan?) appeared flawed, but perhaps not fatally.


As a journalist I'd been following and commenting on a local protest where residents and hardcore environmentalists had joined forces to boycott the development of a highway bypass that would destroy Eagleridge Bluffs, a very rare eco-system, home to migratory birds and at least one endangered species.


Despite a number of other viable options the government was intransigent. In frustration the protestors set up a blockade and eventually were arrested and literally dragged off to jail.


I've spent the best part of my life climbing and hiking in the local mountains. I've seen some awe-inspiring scenery, moments when I truly felt if I died in the presence of such magnificence, well, that would be just fine. But Eagleridge Bluffs was the best.


These ancient rock faces, carved by eons of Pacific storms roaring down Georgia Strait, and decorated by gnarled Arbutus Trees emanated a benign energy that soothed and uplifted the human spirit - no kidding.


When they dynamited The Bluffs they destroyed something very special and to this day I feel guilty. I should have done more to save this wonderful wild place that I loved.


But what could I have done? Loving the Terrorist - Risking it All, is that story.


Miriam is forty and frustrated. In an attempt to enhance her living-just-to-breathe life she joins some neighbours protesting a highway bypass that will destroy Eagleridge Bluffs. Not only are the Bluffs her special sanctuary, they’re also the beautiful home of rare and endangered plants and animals.


The protest gains the support of environmental organizations including the attention of a group of eco-radicals lead by an enigmatic younger man named Zaahir.


Miriam is mesmerized by this charismatic leader and sees him as someone that can save her as well as the Bluffs. But is Zaahir just using Miriam to help him further his radical political agenda?


As legal channels fail and civil disobedience falters, Miriam is seduced into the murky world of eco-terrorism.


The plot of this story follows the actual events that took place over three months that summer - up to a point. I literally lifted dialogue for my characters from news clips and stories. Then I took it further.


I wanted to explore the theme - can violence be condone on behalf of a just cause? Furthermore, is violence effective?


I wanted a sympathetic villain because as an author if you have a political agenda (and boy, did I) the only way to keep from sounding didactic is to also present it from the point of view of the anatgonist - and do it fairly. I gleaned this from Robert Boswell's book, The Half-Known World: On Writing Fiction. Not only does this approach work, it was a good idea since I wasn't quite sure where I stood on this issue myself.


I took the criticism of my first novel to heart and "sexed up" this one. This presented a challenge and I wondered how I could write explicitly about sex without it being gratuitous? I decided to make Miriam a virgin, her lover fifteen years younger than her, and she white and him brown. My idea was to let my readers discover sex along with my heroine.


I hit most of the points including a "Happy Ever After" ending but even as I was writing the novel I could tell I was straying beyond the confines of the romance genre. Despite the ending, this wasn't a happy story, how could it be - innocent creatures were wiped out, a beautiful, spiritual place was destroyed, and for no good reason (as if there ever is one).


I couldn't help it, I couldn't change it. It bombed, but I felt better.


By the time Loving the Terrorist was published I was well into the third novel for the Eco-Warriors series. By now I'd learned quite a bit about writing and publishing and even more about myself. This would be my last romance.


I knew I was leaving genre even as I was writing Not Wonder More, Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients. I was also becoming increasingly dissatisfied with my publisher (and no doubt, she with me) and had begun exploring other options.


Next Question: Did your third novel Not Wonder More, Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients resolve the issue of whether to write genre or literary fiction? And what about your publisher?




How did you come to write your first novel, Saving Spirit Bear?

Saving Spirit Bear: What Price Success? - Rod Raglin

Many sites I post my books on have a question and answer component - the readers ask the authors questions. I've never actually asked a question of any author whose work I've read, though sometimes I pose them in my reviews, and I've never received a question from a reader.

Most of these are stock questions generated by the site.  The questions that aren't I've come to believe are also bogus - asked by a friend or even the author themselves with hopes the answers will spark some sort of dialogue or?

We are a desperate lot, aren't we.

Here's a question I often ponder and so I asked myself and am sharing the answer with you. If you find this exercise slightly distasteful than consider yourself partly to blame for not asking me your own questions.

How's that for rationalization?


QUESTION: How did you come to write your first novel, Saving Spirit Bear?

I had a plan to become a successful, published author.

I would begin writing romance novels because they have the most readers of any kind of fiction and are the easiest to get published. This is not to say authors of genre fiction aren’t good writers. I have subsequently learned writing within the confines of genre is more difficult than doing otherwise.
Back to the plan.

Once I had a bit of a publishing track record traditional publishers of mainstream, literary fiction would be more likely to consider me. Right?

Saving Spirit Bear was my first novel. The theme I wanted to explore was whether the end ever justifies the means? I wanted to present real moral dilemmas for both the protagonists and the antagonists not just the desire for profit or power. For example, is it all right to compromise your integrity if the goal is just and noble?

As well as presenting a satisfying romance, I hoped to address this issue by introducing a subplot about an environmental issue, in this case endangered species and destruction of their habitat, something I feel strongly about.

The story's about Kimberly James, an ambitious, young, junior executive in a New York corporate relations firm who sees an opportunity to advance her career by doing whatever's necessary to push through the development of a mega ski resort in Canada.

Jonah Baker is part owner of a lodge on the land of the proposed ski resort. He's an ardent environmentalist and not about to permit a development that threatens ancient rainforests and the habitat of the rare and endangered Spirit Bear for any price.

Kim begrudgingly respects his principles before profit, but cannot allow a tree-hugging, bear-loving zealot to derail her fast track to success. Jonah admires her determination and worldliness, but will fight to the end to stop a materialistic corporate climber from destroying something rare and unique.

You likely know the rest of this story because genre literature is formulaic and if you read romance you know what's going to happen. If you don't and you want to find out go to my Amazon Author's Page at and buy a copy.

Anyhow, after striking out with agents and traditional publishers I sent Saving Spirit Bear to three e-publishers. All of them wanted to publish it. I chose one and rationalized my failure to attract any real publishers by saying e-books were preferable - less impact on the environment.

It would be an overstatement to say sales were mediocre. Reviews were almost non-existent. No agents or traditional publishers came knocking on my door.

At the time I was a member of the local chapter of Romance Writers of America (eighty-five women and two men). Since I wasn't getting any significant reader response I asked the published writers in my RWA chapter what they thought the problem(s) was?

Saving Spirit Bear, I was told, was not popular with romance readers for a number of reasons. I didn’t introduce the love interests soon enough. My ‘Happily Ever After’ was lukewarm or not at all. I needed to ‘sex it up’. My subplots overshadowed the romance. My heroes lacked testosterone. My heroines didn’t show enough vulnerability. My words were too big, my plots too real, my characters too unlikable. My stories were out of control.

However, I was encourage by my publisher who dubbed the book Eco-Fi (environmental fiction) and asked for two more with a similar theme for a series entitled Eco-Warriors.

There was never any question about letting the lack of success of my first novel defeat me. I love to write - successfully or otherwise and during the process of writing Saving Spirit Bear I experienced glimpses of something very exciting - the story following it's own course and the characters taking on lives of their own.

I eagerly set about writing my second novel but I was worried. Would I find my next story and it's characters restricted by the confines of this genre?

Next Question: Did you find your next story and it's characters restricted by the confines of this genre?

The answer is forthcoming.

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs




Inkitt - The fairest publishing house in the world?

Here's an email I received a couple of weeks ago from Inkitt.



I'm Marvin, Head of Growth at Inkitt and I wanted to reach out to you personally. It seems that you have not entered our new novel contest yet, is there a specific reason for that?

It's now or never - the contest will end in two weeks and all you have to do is gather 100 readers for "Loving the Terrorist" to be considered for publication!

I'd love to shift your story into the contest. What do you think?

Marvin Wey
Head of Growth |


I thought you might find my response and the subsequent reply from Inkitt's founder and CEO, Ali Albazaz interesting. First a bit of background.

In the past few months I've written two  articles about Inkitt and the concept which you can find in my blog archives.

Briefly, Inkitt is a site where you can upload your stories for free. Besides the opportunity for crowd critiquing, Inkitt claims to have created an algorithm that identifies best sellers (sic). If your story is chosen by this "objective", computer generated program Inkitt will either set you up with an established, traditional publisher or publish it themselves.


Here's my response.

Dear Martin,

Just how do you guys make your money? Certainly not as a publishing company with eighty-five percent  going to the author though there's a little bit of word play involved - is it net earnings or a royalty on the price of the book? There could be quite a difference.

I see you've changed the criteria of your contests - it's not longer the top few who get the nod, but everyone who exceeds one hundred reads - that would be downloads.

 I imagine somewhere in the process the hopeful author will run into additional fees - maybe paying for those cool covers you design. No? Good for you.

So maybe you make it with print on demand. Just how many books have to be ordered to start showing a profit? Can it be made up with sales from the family and friends of all those really bad authors you're publishing?

But that's not what I find disturbing about sites like Inkitt , Kindle Scout  and HarperCollins'  now defunct  authonomy. It's that they encourage bad writing - or put another way,  they don't encourage new writers to improve their craft.

The peer critiquing system is like , "you vote for mine and I'll vote for yours" regardless of whether the writing is good or not.  It's a mutual admiration society and a phony one at that.

But who I am to be critical - a nobody with the sales to prove it.

So, for me is there a downside to having you "shift" Loving the Terrorist into to the Story Peak Novel Contest?

I'm still trying to figure that out, but until I do why don't you go ahead and put it in.

Rod Raglin

Hi Rod,

Marvin forwarded your email to me and it makes me very sad to hear this from you.

Me and my co-founder, Linda, started Inkitt because we want to make publishing more fair, transparent and objective. We had seen from the outside how unfair and subjective publishers can be. Linda and I are both coming from a technical / IT startup background. Three years ago I had the idea that we could track people's reading behaviour, and analyze it to find consistent patterns. This way it would be possible to predict bestsellers. Long story short: we built it. We then found investors who believe in our idea to democratize publishing, and raised over a million dollars to make this dream come true. Now we are a team of 17 people working day and night to make the publishing process fair and objective.

Since we launched Inkitt to the public around 1.5 years ago we had a rocket speed growth. Over 20.000 writers have uploaded their works (from short stories, poems to novels) on Inkitt and we've just started publishing them. The first book our algorithm picked is getting published by Tor / MacMillan (see links below). The second book: we're publishing with the Inkitt imprint and it's doing great (links below). Since this month, we started publishing 1-2 new books every month, and have plans to grow that number by 4 times each year. Every book gets a professional cover, editing, a dedicated online marketing team with a minimum of 6,000 dollars in marketing budget. With clear guidelines in place for budget increases based on performance.

In cases where Inkitt publishes a book we receive 50% of the net revenues (50% royalties for the author) and in cases where we re-sell the rights to another publisher on behalf of the author, we receive 15% agents-fee. Authors do not pay anything for our services - we are their publisher and it's our duty to take care of all costs.

We want to give the spotlight to the authors because they deserve it. I don't want to see the next J. K. Rowling receiving a rejection from an old-school publisher and give up her writing dreams. Me and the entire team, we're all in this game because we want to build the fairest publishing house in the world.

Best wishes,

Ali Albazaz
Founder & CEO |
Mobile: +49 170 8647236

PS It appears Inkitt has indeed shifted my novel Loving the Terrorist into the competition. It needs one hundred readers to be considered for publication. So far it has zero.


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.




Mountains don't care if you live or die, but friends do. Don't they?

End of the Rope - Rod Raglin

When you rope up you put your life into the hands of your climbing partner. But what if you've just ruined his?

Craig, Whit and Milt are friends, have been for a long time. They've grown up together, but the friendship forged as young boys is getting tested as they grow into men - men with different perspectives and priorities.  

Their love of climbing has kept them together. On the rock faces of the mountains they are as they once were - a team, a unit, loyal and committed. The ambiguous world of careers and relationships is left below - or is it?

Since he can remember, Craig's loved Jennifer. He can't wait for them to get married, he's even bought a house.

When she breaks it off saying she's not ready, he's hurt and confused, but if Jennifer needs more time he can wait. He's been waiting all his life for her so what's a few more months?

Then she starts dating Whit.

Whit doesn't do relationships, but that doesn't seem to matter to the many women who compete for his attention. He doesn't understand what Jennifer represents to Craig, can't even begin to imagine it, but just the same he'd never hit on a friend's woman.
But, hey, it's a free country, right, and  Jennifer's warm and willing, and after all  it's been about, what, two months since she dumped Craig. He needs to get over it.

Milt sees the potential for trouble, but  he has his own problems. His new wife, Samantha, thinks her husband's band of brothers are a bad influence. She wants him to grow up and give up these juvenile escapades.

It's a constant battle for Milt to maintain some independence and now the tension between his friends makes him wonder if it's worth it.

This is not the way to start a challenging climb - filled with anxiety, anger and resentment. On a sheer granite wall distractions kill you. You need singularity of purpose, a clear mind and a focus that's finite.

Now Whit's goading Craig to try a new route, Craig's worried that the weather's breaking down, and Milt's frantic because his cellphone's broken and he can't  report in to Samantha.

Everyone's just about at the end of their rope, but only figuratively - for now.

Insights in East German spy story overshadowed by didactic passages and convoluted conspiracy

Stealing the Future (The East Berlin Series) (Volume 1) - Max Hertzberg

It's 1993 and East Germany (GDR), recently free from the grip of the Soviet Union, is experimenting with a socialist style of direct democracy. The country is struggling - economically, politically, even psychologically and it's citizens are doing their best to cope.

Martin Grobe is sort of a cop, but without much authority. His job is to keep the new republic on course. How he and his colleagues do this is by attending a lot of meaningless meetings and talking philosophy.

A minor official is found murdered. Why Grobe is sent to investigate is never clear. In fact quite a bit of Max Hertzberg's, Stealing the Future, An East German Spy Story is vague including the conspiracy theory behind the murder.

However, if you're interested in the landmarks of East Berlin this story reads like a guidebook and there's some interesting history of what it was like to live in the German Democratic Republic while controlled by the Soviets and the difficulty it's citizens had in changing from a totalitarian regime, where you were told what to do and how to think, to democratic system where you must take control of your own destiny.

There's some good characterization with realistic relationships and dialogue but overall the plot is plagued by didactic passages and the conspiracy that drives the narrative was beyond this reader's comprehension.  

Sifting through the minutiae of the Smashwords Sale


 Throughout the month of July I gave away one hundred and thirty-seven e-book editions of my novels during Smashwords SummerWinterSale 2016.


As an author who has published his books with Smashwords I was contacted and asked if I wanted to participate. You could offer whatever discount you wanted for what ever period of time you wanted during the month of July. Once you registered, Smashwords applied a coupon code to your dashboard and anyone who wanted the book just entered the code and got it free.


I've had no more success with Smashwords than I've had with any other sites selling my books - which is just about nil, but since I've been giving my work away on other sites lately, which entails a sweepstake and then actually sending the e-book to the individual winners via email, this seemed way easier.


It was.


Giving your work away on Smashwords was free and unrestricted. One might think that's not a lot to expect considering the time and effort that went into it, however, to give away a single title on StoryCartel costs twenty-five dollars, on Goodreads - one hundred and nineteen, and Kindle Select (Amazon) wants exclusive rights for ninety days.


LibraryThing and BookLikes don't charge for their giveaways but they generate about a third of the results and, as I mentioned, you have the labourious job of sending out individual emails with your e-book attached to the winners.    


I have six works on Smashwords - five novels and a play. I decided to go for broke and offer them all free for the month.


Just a brief aside here. Have you ever noticed how people without success pour over meaningless minutiae like the numbers hold the secret to fame and fortune if only they could decipher them? No? Well, I have, probably because I've begun to do it - and now you get experience it.


The Smashwords giveaway was interesting to me on a number of levels - though, like I said, not likely interesting to anyone else.


This was the first time all my writing (barring one of my better novels yet to be released by the publisher) was presented to the public in one place, at one time and on equal terms.


Here's how they faired in regard to free downloads:

Harry's Truth - A Play in One Act - 33

Saving Spirit Bear - What Price Success - 31

Abandoned Dreams - 22


Loving the Terrorist - Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs - 20

The Big Picture - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic - 18

Forest - Love, Loss, Legend - 13


What does it mean that my one act play, Harry's Truth, only sixty pages, ranked first? Or that Saving Spirit Bear, my first novel with the least positive reviews (and rightly so) was second? What does it mean that the better I write the less popular the book?


Any suggestions?


Other than those conundrums it appears giving away one hundred and thirty-seven books does not generate any reviews - at least not on Smashwords, or likely on any other site for that matter. Free, it appears, is the equivalent to no value - or, more specifically no downside.


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.


Links to associated sites:


Kindle Select








My novels and play Harry's Truth - A Play in One Act, FOREST – Love, Loss, Legend, The BIG PICTURE – A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic and Abandoned Dreams and

The ECO-WARRIORS series:

Book 1, Saving Spirit Bear – What Price Success?

Book 2, Loving the Terrorist - Beyond Eagleridge Bluffs

Book 3, Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients

are available as e-books and paperbacks at


Cover Art of books by self-published authors at


Video book reviews of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews:


More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to:


View my flickr photostream at


Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music



To fail alone or succeed with collaboration?

I use to want to be a playwright.


I took a program at Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver and with the help of professional dramaturg's and the other members of the group developed Harry's Truth, A Play in One Act.


"Harry" even had a "reading" - professional actors read the play aloud. I was blown away and, believe it or not, so were they.


The next step was to take it to production, maybe in conjunction with a couple of other one act plays by other playwrights - make an evening of it.


Whether that would have happened or not I'll never know. You see, I'm not much of a collaborator and theatre is all about collaboration. By the time Harry's Truth was ready for production I'd about had it with the affected (def.: artificial, pretentious, and designed to impress) people I'd been working with, and believe me the definition fits when it comes to theatre people.


If you come right down to it I'd rather go it alone and fail than have to work with someone and succeed, which is probably one of the reasons I'm where I am at this point in my career, alone and a failure. Hmm.


Recently I came across Harry's Truth when I was searching the hard drive of my old laptop. I clicked and remarkably it opened. Nine years had passed and as I read it I thought this isn't half bad.


The play asks the question, "are there cosmic truths?" Harry thinks there are and he's discovered one which will make life easier, simpler and more fulfilling. He wants to share this epiphany with those he loves but not only do they not want to share in his enlightenment, they feel threatened by what he has to tell them. Much is at stake – careers, lifestyles, power – if Harry pursues his truth.


Seven scenes, forty-four pages and eleven and a half thousand words later Harry has his answer - the truth doesn't necessarily set you free, but it can sure make you unpopular.


Harry's Truth is now available as an e-book (should that be e-script?) at Smashwords. Until July 31st you can download it free as part of Smashwords SummerWinter Sale. Go to


Actually, five of my novels are also available free at Smashwords during the same promotion. You can go to my website for direct links.


In a week or so it will be available on Amazon as an e-book and eventually a paperback at


Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.




HARRY'S TRUTH - A Play in One Act

Harry's Truth: A Play in One Act - Rod Raglin

Harry's Truth is my new one act play currently available FREE at Smashwords during their SummerWinterSale


and soon to be available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback.




The truth may not set you free,

but it can make you very unpopular.



Are there cosmic truths? Harry thinks there are and he's discovered one which will make life easier, simpler and more fulfilling. He wants to share this epiphany with those he loves but not only do they not want to share in his enlightenment, they feel threatened by what he has to tell them. Much is at stake – careers, lifestyles, power – if Harry pursues his truth.


For Deidre, his wife - all her life she has worked to overcome the stigma of being the daughter of the neighbourhood drunk. She has struggled for social status, “respectability” and to have “nice things”. Now she has attained it and more is within her grasp. She can’t allow Harry to jeopardize it.


For Philip, his partner - his aggressive manner, lack of sophistication, short stature, balding pate, pudgy midriff and loud ties have made him a subject of derision among his colleagues, but landing this multi-million dollar client will change all that. Soon Harry’s condescension and the humiliation of his marriage will be overshadowed by the respect and power corporate success will bring. The “truth” is he only needs Harry to keep it together until the deal closes. After that, he can goddam well wander off into the wilderness if that’s what he wants.


For Joan, Phil's wife - the bitterness of her affair with Harry twenty years ago in college has shaped and defined her life, But not Harry’s. No, he just up and left her in search for “the truth” and she had to survive as best she could on her own. Now he’s about to do it again – turn her world upside down with the same selfish, irresponsible behavior. Maybe she can’t stop this middle-age flight of fancy but she isn’t going to let him influence her teenage daughter with all his nonsense about “following your heart”.


For Alexus, Joan’s daughter - her parent’s marriage is empty of love but filled with material possessions. How could “Uncle Harry’s” truth make anything worse? Her mom’s pushing her to go to college but that’s just more “preparing for life”. Uncle Harry’s truth sounds far more appealing. Better to fill your life with experiences than just more “stuff”.


Harry's Truth is my new one act play currently available FREE at Smashwords during the SummerWinterSale

and soon to be available on Amazon as an e-book and in paperback.