Happy Star Wars Day!

Star-Wars-Day-2014

It’s a bad pun, but it has started a yearly celebration of everything Star Wars.

One of the slogans in the franchise is , “May The Force Be With You” and since today is May the Fourth and that sounds very close, fans have taken that and run with it.

Happy Star Wars Day!

I am going to celebrate my bringing my Darth Vader helmet into work and trying to wear it for a bit. I might not be allowed to, but I like to push the limits.

I also want to celebrate by looking back at all of the Star Wars posts I have made over the years. So read the descriptions, click through the links, and let’s explore the universe.

Star Wars: The Force Retread

I watched the film a second time with my son. I thought that I could see it in a new light if I watched it through his eyes. I did my best not to colour it for him beforehand.

After we watched it together, I asked him what he thought. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said it wasn’t that good. I agree, more than ever. Click through to find out why.

Free Comic Book Day meets Star Wars Day

That’s right, some years they actually fall on the same date. That was the case three years ago. Don’t forget that Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday. Make sure you celebrate both this week.

Darth Vader Lives on in the Comics

I really enjoyed this graphic novel reads. Check them out!

Darth Vader Unleashed

The very first Darth Vader comic I ever read. It was a great story too! Click through for myu review.

Princess Leia gets her own Comic

Once again, a great read and a nice addition to what we already know and knew of this heroine.

How to Properly Reboot a Franchise

Here I look at a few different franchise reboots to look at what they did right, what they did wrong, and what they maybe should have done. I look at Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica.

Star Wars Comic Reboot

This comic book series reboots the movie universe we all know and love. And so far, it is great.

James Bond in Space

Not really, but this Agent of the Empire is just as cool and the story will draw you right in.

I hope you have a great Star Wars Day!

The Shiny Month of May (Chasing Content)

Chasing ContentIt’s time for another edition of Chasing Content, that monthly feature that has us looking back at all of the great things that were happening last year at this time.

Read all of the posts from last May

or just these shiny ones . . .

Updated Free Method Book for Beginning Band

This is a great resource for middle school teachers who want to have an alternative to the method book they already have. It is long out-of-print, so I have offered up each of the books as a PDF that you can download for free. I also show you how I binded the books and used the successfully in my music classroom.

WWW: Series Concludes with Wonder

Robert J. Sawyer is one of my favourite writers. This trilogy was very well done. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I never thought that it would have concluded as it did. Brilliant writing!

The Best Place to Teach

There are plenty of places that you can teach a class from. Not all instruction needs to be in the classroom. Get creative and spark some imagination in your students.

Word is Bond Rap Radio – Forest City Represents

This is a collection of all the local artists that have appeared on my radio show. Click through to get exposed to some great, independent hip-hop coming out of London, Ontario, Canada.

Juliet Naked (Nothing Inappropriate Here)

I love everything about this book. Click through to read my review and then thinking about reading the book for yourself too.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me! 

Click through the links above to discover great tidbits from the extensive archive here at Silent Cacophony. Thank you for being on this journey with me!

Scott Pilgrim’s London, ON. Connection

Scott Pilgrim Vol 1

Scott Pilgrim Vol 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley

I saw the film, Scott Pilgrim vs The World a few years back and I was impressed with the quirky writing, hilarious scenes, and original story. I knew that it was based on a book but I knew nothing about the print version of it whatsoever.

I saw this book in the library last week and decided to pick it up. After reading it, I must say that the movie stays true to the source material. I haven’t read the entire story though, it continues on in a few separate graphic novels, but so far everything that has happened on the page, pretty much happened in the film too.

Reading the afterward was especially enlightening. I knew the story was uniquely Canadian but I didn’t know of the London, Ontario connection.

Scott Pilgrim Afterward

My radio show, Word is Bond, is on the very same station the author mentions in the afterward. I’ve been to concerts at Call the Office, a local venue. And I have shopped at Sunrise Records in Westmount Mall.

It was cool to see that Bryan Lee O’Malley was inspired to write this story from his time spent in London, Ontario.

This story was told so well on the screen that I can honestly say that the film version is better than the book. It’s hard to say that about any movie. In fact, I have only had one other film, in my opinion, that surpasses the book. Ironically, it was a comic as well. I am talking about V for Vendetta. 

The afterward is fairly long. It includes character sketches and information about how each character came to be. It shows how the author used real locations and photos to draw the scenes. It even includes the original pitch he made to get the series green lit. It is a nice window into the entire creative process.

I think you should check out both the film and print versions and get to know Scott Pilgrim. You won’t be disappointed.

My List of 2016 Reads – a detailed and continually updated reading log

Happy Earth Day – Let’s Leave Some of It Alone

“We should take about a quarter of the Earth and only let Darwin run the show there. It doesn’t have to be contiguous, doesn’t have to all be tied together. It should be part in the oceans, part on land. But we should not run every evolutionary decision on this planet. We want to have our evolutionary system running. We want to have Darwin’s evolutionary system running. And it’s just really important to have these two things running in parallel and not overwhelm evolution.”

– Juan Enriquez

What a great thought for Earth Day. Let’s get on reserving at least 1/4 of the Earth for just this purpose before it’s too late and we’ve used every available inch of the land.

Darth Vader lives on . . . In Comics

Darth Vader Vol 1

Darth Vader: Vol. 1 – Vader

This story takes place right after Star Wars IV: A New Hope and is the start of Darth Vader’s own on-going series.

Darth Vader has been demoted in the wake of the Death Star fiasco. He was the one who ultimately got blamed for the rebellion being able to take it out. The Emperor expects him to atone for this mistake.

Darth Vader isn’t one to simply take this all lying down. however. He starts to build his own army of battle droids. The Emperor gets wind of his plan and sets him up to battle against another hopeful apprentice. Vader must prove his worth to the Empire, but it all leaves a bit of a sour taste in his mouth.

Darth Vader Volume 2

Darth Vader: Vol. 2 – Shadows and Secrets

Darth Vader turned to archaeologist and droid expert, Dr. Aphra to help him build his droid army. She proved her allegiance to him and even though he is a little reluctant, Vader accepts her help and they become a team, of sorts.

Film Version Please

This was a really great story. I would love to see a film trilogy made that focuses solely on Darth Vader. It would be great to see things from his point of view and in all of his fearsome glory.

Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin

Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin

Darth Vader had a few mini-series before getting his own title. This one focuses on a father who wants to avenge his son’s death at the hands of Vader. He enlists some very bad men to get the task done. But eight others have failed before. Will this ninth assassin be any different?

Darth VAder and the Lost Command

Darth Vader and the Lost Command

Darth Vader is haunted by his past. We are treated to some of the moments that the prequel trilogy didn’t touch on. We see some sweet scenes between Anakin and Padme that really make this graphic novel stand out.

Darth Vader and Cry of Shadows

Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows 

I’m not sure why this one was billed as a Darth Vader title. The story focuses on a clone trooper who is abandoned during a battle. He seeks to gain the acceptance of Darth Vader and works hard to prove to him that he is the ultimate warrior. It was a very good read, however.

My List of 2016 Reads – a detailed reading log for my entire year

What’s Your Something Special?

What's Your Something Special book

What’s Your Something Special? by Catherine Gibson and Mary Fletcher

We all have something special locked up inside us. It might be hard to find, and some of us might not even know to look for it, but it is there.

This book taps into the power of imagination and self-discovery. It’ s a story that our youth need to see, hear, and experience. Perhaps this can be a window into something greater.

Not all of us have a physical limitation like Samantha, but I still think we can identify with her and the longing she feels to do something more with her life. It also helps to show that children in wheelchairs can be the star of a story.

Last month, I wrote about how we need to make sure our students are reflected in the texts we have available in the classroom. If you have ever had a wheelchair bound student at your school, and even if you haven’t, this would be a great book to add to your classroom library.

Teaching Tips – an archive of great resources for classroom teachers (NEW TIP featured on the third Tuesday of every month)

Record Store Day Tomorrow!

James Kirkpatrick aka Thesis Sahib is a performance artist, visual artist, rapper, and much, much more.

He circuit bends toys and turns them into musical instruments. I have seen him perform live several times and what he does just blows me away.

Make sure you go to Grooves Records in London, Ontario for Record Store Day tomorrow. The store has all sorts of performances, exclusive records, and deals. Thesis will be performing at 5:00 p.m.

Here he is explaining how he does what he does.

Make sure you go to your local record store tomorrow and celebrate Record Store Day!

RSDCANADA_Date

A Secret Stash of Medicine Music

Secret Medicine-MusicAmanda Palmer writes,

“In my darkest hours, I still go to my secret stash of medicine-music to comfort me, like a familiar childhood blanket, and cocoon myself in the songs of . . . “

Instead of sharing her list of medicine-music, I thought I would share mine.

No matter how I feel; happy, sad, depressed, lonely, etc, I can put on any one of my Buffalo Tom albums and feel better. Likewise, Tim McGraw albums often do the job.

I can always listen to Tiffany when I am in a low spot.

2Pac and Run-DMC are all-time favs!

Smoother and superGARAGE are great medicine-music for me as well. When I was a teenager, I went to see both of those bands live all of the time. They were local independent groups and playing them, even today, brings back those great memories.

I agree with Palmer about the power that music can have. She compares a live concert to “sharing a blanket with a crowd of strangers” and says that it gives her “a feeling of humanhood that [she] doesn’t often get to experience; it’s the closest thing [she has] to church.”

When the gift circulates, we feel the very essence of art and life not just in words and songs, but also in our deep desire to share them with one another. 

This is why she says, The Gift Must Always Move.

This belief comes from a book by Lewis Hyde entitled The Gift. I think I am adding that book to my must-reads list now.

What is your secret medicine music? 

Please share it below in the comment section!

Thor – Who’s Worthy?

Thor - Goddness of Thunder

Thor – Goddess of Thunder

What a brilliant concept for a story about Thor.

The title has always been built around the theme “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”

Unfortunately, Thor is no longer worthy to wield the hammer and as such Mjölnir is stuck without an owner. Every one tries to lift it and fails. Even Thor himself.

But some mysterious woman is able to pick up the hammer and wield it’s power. She becomes the new Thor.

Spoilers Below – I won’t reveal who the new Thor is though. I’d hate to do that to you.

Thor - Who Holds the Hammer

Thor – Who Holds the Hammer

The new Thor is trying to figure out how to be a hero like the previous Thor. She has a few hilarious run-ins, but is clearly capable of coming into her own and being the all-powerful super-hero we would expect Thor to be.

Meanwhile, Thor has come up with a list of people who could possibly have succeeded him in becoming Thor. He tracks each and every one down, hoping to find a way that he can regain his power and title.

When he finally does meet up with the mysterious Goddess of Thunder, he realizes that he still isn’t worthy to wield the hammer. He endorses her as the new Thor and we finally get to see who she is.

My List of 2016 Reads – a detailed personal reading log. Please share and comment if you have read any of these titles too.

The Kick-Ass Writer

Kick-Ass Writer

The Kick-Ass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience by Chuck Wendig

This is a book for writers who don’t have time to read a book for writers.

You can dive in and out of the book with ease. If you want to learn something about the fundamentals, the craft of writing, or about presenting your final work, just go to that section and find some tips and advice.

Wendig admits thagt his book is “just a bucket of ideas that are at least half-nonsense. A bucket of ideas that serve as tools. And not every tool is meant for every job. And not every craftsman finds the value in every tool.”

Basically, take what you can from this and apply it how you see fit. Ignore the parts that don’t fit with your methodology. And get writing.

Here are the notes I took when reading it . . .

From 25 Ways to Plot, Plan, and Prep Your Story

Write three paragraphs, each detailing the rough three acts found in every story: the inciting incident and outcome of the beginning (Act I), the escalation and conflict in the middle (Act II), the climatic culmination of events and the ease-down denouement (Act III)

I don’t normally plan or outline my stories, but I like to go back and make sure these things are apparent.

From 25 Things You Should Know About Dialogue

You can use dialogue to set the pace of your story or scene.

If you want your story to read faster, you use dialogue to move it along. . . dialogue reads easy . . . a reader gets to it, they zip forth fast, fancy and free. Want to slow things down? Pull away from dialogue. Speed things up? More dialogue.

From 25 Things You Should Know About Editing, Revising, and Rewriting

Wendig advises that you don’t start your rewrite or edit without a plan.

How do you know what to fix if you haven’t identified what’s broken?

He also suggests only fixing one thing at a time. Go through your work in progress and do a dialogue pass. Then go back and look at your use of description. Then take a pass for plot, sentence variety, and anything else you need to look at.

Tracking revisions is also important.

Keep a record of them all. . .  Any time you make a revision change, mark the revision and save a new file. I don’t care if you have 152 files by the end of it. You’ll be happy if you need to go back. 

And last but not least in this list, you should read your work aloud

When you read your work aloud, you’ll be amazed at the things you catch, the things that sound off, that don’t make sense, that are awkward or wishy-washy or inconsistent.

From 25 Things You Should Know About Getting Published

Even if you want to go the traditional route, Wendig suggests self-publishing one thing that might not be the best fit for conventional publishers.

Walk both paths to gain the advantages of each. 

Know your story very well so you can explain it in a variety of ways.

Learn how to sum up your work in a single sentence, a single paragraph, and three paragraphs. 

The publishing industry cares about genre, so figure out what you story is so it doesn’t get mislabeled or misrepresented.

From 25 Things You Should Know About Self-Publishing

Find ways to experiment with format such as “transmedia initiatives, app-novels, stories told across social media,” etc.

Do not me constrained by the formats that exist. Story does not begin and end with a physical book. It doesn’t stop at e-books either.

That was me

I bet if you read this book, you will take away different things from it. So, if you do read it, please write about your experience with it, and link to it in the comment section.

Happy Writing!

My Detailed Reading Log for 2016

The Death of Wolverine

Wolverine Three Months to Die Book 1

Wolverine – Three Months to Die: Book 1

Wolverine has lost his ability to heal. He goes on like nothing has changed, but he knows that everything has.

He confided to Ms. Marvel that it was the only power really worth anything.

Healing Factor

Wolverine needs his healing ability. Every time he uses his claws they pierce his skin and when then retract, they could potentially expose him to infection. I love how this comic series addresses how much of an issue that is for him right now. It’s scary.

Wolverine Three Months to Die Book 2

Wolverine – Three Months to Die: Book 2

Wolverine confronts Death himself in this story. Death seems to help him get over his fear of continuing to be a hero despite losing his super-powers.

When things look bleak, Wolverine calls for a little bit of back up. Nick Fury shows up with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and The Avengers to help save the day. He says, “You know what your best super-power is, old man? That you’ve got so many friends.”

Wolverine Friends

Unfortunately, in the end, Wolverine is going to die alone.

Death of Wolverine

Death of Wolverine

This is Wolverine’s final battle. Even without his healing ability, he continues to fight like he is immortal. He puts everything on the line to protect the lives of others and to stop a terrible evil from being unleashed.

This four issue mini-series was a fitting end for our Favourite Canadian Super-Hero.

My List of 2016 Reads – my annual reading log with links to each title and book review

First Trail Run of the Year

Meadowlily Bridge

I decided to kick off the running season with a trail run through Meadowlily Woods.

Area Floods

It rained heavily for two days though, so when I got there, I decided that it might be best to stick to the paved trail.

This sign warned me that the area is subject to flooding. It still thought the paved trail would be better than the one through the bush.

Flooded Trail

As you can see, I was wrong. I have never seen the river this high. There was absolutely no way around it. This wasn’t a puddle. It was the river encompassing the entire trail.

Meadowlily Woods Trail

So I turned around, and went through the nature part of the trail. There were a few wet sections, but I was able to get a three kilometer run in quite nicely.

Wide and High River

It was an interesting start to my new season of running.

It’s going to be a little different this year. I no longer have data on my phone (I had to cut some expenses) so I won’t be able to track my runs as easily as I did last year. I really loved using that app too.

I do hope to find and document some new running spots for this blog though. So stay tuned for that.

If you need somewhere new to run, check out my photographic tours and visit one of 50 great trail run spots.

Happy Running!

Chasing Content – April 2015

Chasing Content (1)It’s time for another edition of Chasing Content, that monthly feature that has us looking back at what was last year at this time.

Read all the posts from last April

or just these shiny ones . . .

The Art of the DJ

I read an amazing book about the deejaying entitled On the Record: The Scratch DJ Academy Guide. I shared a few quotes from it and the takeaways I took from reading it.

Let Kids Make the Cheap Mistakes

Sometimes we are too afraid to let our children (or our students) make mistakes. But the learning that can come from experiencing a mistake, figuring out what went wrong, and trying to correct it can have immense benefits. Click through to find out why and how we can allow our kids to make the “cheap” mistakes.

Daredevil – Perfect Television

Last year at the time, Daredevil premiered on Netflix. I was very excited to see my all-time favourite super-hero getting his own television series. It was so well done and actually blew me away. The second season is available now, although I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. I will soon. And I will post about it too. Stay tuned!

St. Julien Skatepark – London, Ontario

It is officially skateboard season again. And there is no snow on the ground like there was last year at this time. So, let’s go explore some of the great skateparks in our community and beyond.

Stop Using a 12 Hour Clock

It makes no sense to continue using a 12 hour clock in this non-stop society we live in these days. Let’s all migrate to the standard 24 clock they use in the military. It just makes sense.

Thanks for Chasing Content with me!

Click through the links above to discover great tidbits from the extensive archive here at Silent Cacophony. Thank you for being on this journey with me!

The Fall of the Fantastic Four

Fanastic Four Vol 1

Fantastic Four: Vol. 1 – The Fall of the Fantastic Four

This graphic novel collects the first five issues of the 2014 series of Marvel’s First Family. The story begins with swarm of monsters invading the city. Of course, the Fantastic Four get blamed for all of the destruction. To make matters worse, Johnny Storm loses his powers in the battle.

Sue and Reed get put on trial and have their children taken away from them. And believe it or not, that is just the start of their downfall.

Fantastic Four Vol 2

Fantastic Four: Vol. 2 – Original Sin

Ben learns a secret that infuriates him. He leaves the team in anger and ends up getting accused of murder. Things are looking pretty bad for the Fantastic Four. Is there a connection between all tragedies? Is someone trying to bring an end to the team?

Fantastic Four Vol 3

Fantastic Four: Vol. 3 – Back in Blue

Just when things couldn’t look any more glum, the team reassembles with their classic uniforms. They will fight to the bitter end and find out exactly who has been behind the unraveling of their lives.

Fantastic Four Vol 4 - The End is Fourever

Fantastic Four: Vol. 4 – The End is Fourever

The ultimate battle between the evil genius who has been working for years to unravel the Fantastic Four and our fearless heroes comes to a head in this issue. The story concludes the series of this comic, but I really don’t think it is the last we will see of FF. The End is Fourever . . . but so is The Fantastic Four.

My List of 2016 Reads – my annual reading log

How I Feel Doing Midnight Radio

Midnight Radio 1

Midnight Radio 2

Midnight Radio 3

Midnight Radio 4

Midnight Radio 5

Midnight Radio 6

Midnight Radio 7

Midnight Radio 8

Midnight Radio. Written by Ehud Lavski. Art by Yael Nathan.

Contact: elavski@gmail.com

I feel like this when I do my Midnight Radio program. It feels like I belong there and I hope I connect with the listeners in the same way. Brilliant comic!

Listen to My Show –  Word is Bond Rap Radio

True Enough isn’t The Real Truth – Dig Deeper!

True Enough

True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society by Farhad Manjoo

The truth can be irrelevant. Facts can be used to prove just about anything. And in this day and age, we have some very skilled liars that can spread their “true enough” message out to the masses.

How did we get to this place and how can we learn to live in a post-fact society?

Farhad Manjoo explores this topic in detail by looking at news, politics, and popular media. He writes . . .

When we strung up the planet in fiber-optic cable, when we dissolved the mainstream media into prickly niches, and when each of began to create and transmit our own pictures and sounds, we eased the path through which propaganda infects the culture.

He talks about four very specific processes.

Selective Exposure – we indulge information that pleases us and cocoon ourselves among others who think as we do

Selective Perception – we interpret documentary proof according to our long-held beliefs

Peripheral Processing – which produces a swarm of phony experts

Hostile Media Phenomenon – pushes the news away from objectivity

These processes distort the truth and can present an image that seems true. This “true enough” statement can then snowball until it becomes the new truth. And at this point, the real facts don’t even seem to matter.

Manjoo has crafted a work that needs further exploration. At the very least, it should remind us to question everything so we can get to the real truth.

My List of 2016 Reads – a detailed personal reading log (for all to see)

The Absence of Fear is a Bad Thing in Batman’s Universe

Batman_The_Dark_Knight_-_Knight_Terrors_(HC)

Batman The Dark Knight: Vol 1. Night Terrors

Fear . . . “lives in every dark shadow — waits around every corner. It can be in two places at once . . . on the path ahead, yet somehow always behind you. Fear hides in every decision, questioning your every move. And it’s your fault. You are the one who gives it life.”

What an opening for a Batman story. It’s iconic. And a great read. I really enjoyed it.

This is the second edition of the title. I had no idea of the previous series but it really didn’t matter. Anyone who knows anything about Batman will be able to follow along with no problems.

In the main story, some of Gotham’s most dangerous criminals have broken out of Arkham Asylum. To make things even worse, they no longer seem to have any fear. That makes things very dangerous for our favourite caped crusader.

There are two other shorter stories in this collection as well. The strange thing is that the ending, even though a bit of a cliffhanger, didn’t leave me wanting to read more. Not sure why. The opening story was so good.

That being said, if I see Volume 2 at the library, I’d probably still pick it up.

My List of 2016 Reads – a detailed, continually updated, reading log for the year

The Gift Must Always Move

Seven TeachingsI have never liked the term Indian Giver. Not only is it racist, it is wholly inaccurate.

The First Nations People weren’t in the practice of giving presents and then taking them back. There was a cycle that was observed and for those outside of the culture, it was a little hard to understand.

I never really got it until I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. 

In it, she retells the story of The Gift by Lewis Hyde. He speaks of “the commerce of the creative spirit.”

Apparently, Tribal Chiefs would share a pipe of tobacco with their guest and then offer the pipe as a symbolic peace offering. It was never meant to be a gift that the guest would hold onto forever. The pipe would be “continually regifted from tribe to tribe, never really ‘belonging’ to anybody.” The Englishman would be confused by this. He thought the pipe was a gift and was insulted when the next tribal leader came over to his house and seem to expect to be given the pipe.

Hyde concludes:

The opposite of “Indian Giver” would be something like “white man keeper” . . . that is, a person whose instinct is to remove property from circulation . . . The Indian giver (or the original one, at any rate) understood a cardinal property of the gift: whatever we have been given is supposed to be given away again, no kept . . . The only essential is this:

The gift must always move.

What a great sentiment!

Doctor Who and Batman Too

Doctor Who - Wheel of Ice

Doctor Who – The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter

I haven’t read much in the way of Doctor Who fiction, just a few comic books and a young adult novel.

When I picked this book up from the library, I wasn’t even sure what incarnation of The Doctor was staring in this story. The back cover didn’t make it clear, but I was sure it was going to be a great read anyway. The cover art is absolutely gorgeous. I love how it looks like the book itself is frozen.

It turns out that this story is set in the second Doctor’s reign. Jamie and Zoe are his companions and together they are drawn toward a time disturbance on a mining colony on one of Saturn’s moons.

The miner’s uncovered something that should have made them stop operations. But the powers-that-be ignored the discovery, pretended it didn’t exist, and kept on mining. Of course, this has some pretty terrible consequences – consequences that the Doctor and his faithful companions must not set right,

Wayne of Gotham novel

Batman: Wayne of Gotham by Tracy Hickman

I have read a lot of Batman novels and short stories over the years. I’m not sure what happened to those old books. I have had to purge some of my collection over the years due to moves so that’s likely what happened.

This story runs parallel in two different time periods. The first one is in the present day and focuses around Bruce Wayne / Batman. Of course, the things that he faces now are a direct result of events that his father was a part of many, many years ago.

I enjoyed this read, but I am not sure I like the ending and what it means for the saga of Batman. I would write about that in detail but it would be a spoiler. I try not to do that in these book review posts.

My List of 2016 Reads – my annual reading log

Great Advice on Becoming a How-To Writer

How to Write and Sell

How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit by Robert W. Bly

Here are a few of the notes I took while reading this book . . .

A how-to writer is a teacher in print. However, instead of teaching in a classroom, the how-to wroter does most of his teaching in written format.

I’m a teacher, this could be right up my alley.

4 Ways of Learning

The four basic learning modalities are:reading (books, e-books); listening (audio CDs, downloadable MP3 files, podcasts): watching (DVDs, TV programs, online video); and doing, also called “experiential learning” (workshops, seminars, courses).

By publishing in different media addressing all four of the major learning modalities, you can reach the broadest audience possible.

How Many Topics Should You Cover?

Three niches seems to be the most you want to tackle, at least according to the author of this book. In my blog, I cover teaching, hip-hop, reading, writing, skateboarding, comics, deejaying, and running. Clearly I have more than one area of expertise that I could write about. Not all of them would work in the how-to realm. Maybe I can trim it down to three.

Niche Size?

Your niche must ideally have 100,00 people in it to be profitable. . . it is a realistic goal to sell to 5 percent of your total market.

Doing the math, to sell 5,000 books at that rate, you would need an audience of 100,000 people.

The 2X Rule

The 2X rules says you should gather approximately twice as much research material as you think you will need to write the peace. You can [then] be selective and use only the research that best supports and illustrates your points.

Organizing Your Research

Bly suggests organizing your digital files in a logical way. That could be folders within folders, but basically keeping everything in place.

If you plan to print out your material, he suggests “typing the file name in the upper-left corner of page one. That way, when you have a hard copy in your hand, you always know the file name and can quickly retrieve it from your hard drive with the file search feature.

Cite Your Research as You Go

Also, always indicate on the file the date the content was created and, if taken from an outside source, details on the source. Without theses attribution details readily available, you may not be able to use the material.

Back-Up Every 24 Hours

Back up your entire hard drive to a mirror device (a hard drive of duplicate configuration) every 24 hours.

You can set your computer to do this automatically.

Give Clear Instructions

Experienced how-to writers strive to write clear instructions with sufficient details to enable the reader ti perform the function or complete the task. 

8 Steps To Getting Your Book Published

Bly suggests following this route instead of writing the book out beforehand. Publishers of non-fiction often want to see a proposal rather than a finished book. It saves both of you time, after all.

So here is his proven method. You might want to read this book to get all the details for each of these steps.

  1. Come up with a good idea
  2. Evaluate your idea critically
  3. Create the outline
  4. Write your book proposal
  5. Get an agent
  6. Send your proposal to publishers
  7. Negotiate your contract
  8. Write and deliver the manuscript

Some of the advice in this book seems dated, which is strange considering it is less than ten years old. His pricing guides, for example, seems a bit off considering that e-books have fallen in price since 2010. However, there is a companion website available to you if you purchase the book. And I am sure it will offer a more up-to-date picture of the how-to-market today.

My List of 2016 Reads – Every book I read over the course of the year is here!