SJB Gilmour Writes

…and rants and ruminates…

Month: April, 2013

Five Stars To The Short That Started It All – The Department


A while back, I wrote a short story.  I had no idea what to do with it.  Then, the phenomenon that is self-publishing was born.  I signed onto Smashwords and sent my little story out into the world.  You know what?  It didn’t hurt.  It was exhilarating, but painless.  So, I signed on to Amazon KDP and released it through there too.  Once I’d worked out how the whole thing worked, I went on to write and release more stories.  I love them all, and they all mean different things to me, but The Department will always have a special spot in my heart.  It was my firstborn literary creation.  And, it’s still getting nice reviews, like this one:

“I thoroughly enjoyed this little story. I found it witty, funny, and a little insightful. Big drawback is that it is way too short. I was really digging into it, reading it as though I had no where else to be, and suddenly it ended! It was how I imagine women making love with young men must feel. I was like, “hey, I was really starting to enjoy that!”  Oh well, I have found that he has full length books, and the writing is just as wonderful.”

Aren’t I lucky?







Slashing Facebook Use

I’m getting majorly pissed off with Facebook. Unwanted apps keep popping up in my favourites list. Ads for online gambling (something I hate with a passion) are all over the place. I’ve deleted it from my phone and now from my iPad. I’ll be spending more time on Twitter and G+ from now on.

Just in case you don’t have those links for me yet:


Check Me Out – I’m Famous!!!

The very talented, and oh-so-awesome Sinead MacDughlas interviews me on her blog! Read all about me, wonderful ME!!!

Writers, Embrace The Pain! (Or, Why A Good Beta Reader Is Worth Their Weight In Gold)

Writers need editors.  That’s a given.  But, they also need beta readers.  Now many writers don’t use them.  Some have them, but don’t really know it – many of the traditional publishing houses out there still use in-house editors and copy editors who also serve as beta readers.

But, some writers don’t have beta readers at all.  Some believe they don’t need them.  I call “Bullshit!”  Really.  They’re just chicken.  Scared of getting their precious egos bruised.  They need to harden the fuck up.

Get beta readers.  I don’t care how you do it, but get some.  If none of your friends can string two words together, you’ve got the wrong sort of friends, and you should also look a bit further afield.  There a squillions of literary groups out there whose members also need beta readers and manuscript assessors etc, and will also provide those services in return.

Some of you may have friends who are also writers.  Some of them may agree to beta read for you.  If so, oh, lucky you.  Rejoice!  They are just the people you want going over your work.  They’re likely to rip it to shreds.  They know the rules.  They can point out mistakes your spellchecker doesn’t pick up, (oh please tell me you haven’t relied solely on a spellchecker), and  also tell you which chunks of text can be cut out completely.

Now don’t get all precious about the risk of some of these people stealing your idea.  They’re all quite busy with their own next big thing to worry about pinching yours, thank-you very much.

What you can expect from a good beta reader is pretty much what you should also expect from a good editor.  Expect.  The.  Worst.   Expect red ink.  Lots of it.  And, you whiney drama queens, don’t you dare complain when you see it.  Instead, look at it and be grateful.  You’ve now got a whole heap of ways to make your book better.

Every line of red through a word, every sweeping circle of highlighter, all those scribbled notes down the side of the page…  They’re not personal digs at you.  What they are, is one bigass collection of protection against 1-star sledgings on Amazon and Goodreads.

Do not panic.  Do not take offence.  You asked for it, so you got it.  Don’t look at it and groan.  Suck it up and start making those edits.

A good beta reader will not only point out spelling and grammatical errors, they will highlight things that are wrong.  If you use certain phrases too frequently…  If your diction sucks …  They will tell you.  If they don’t, if your beta reader praises your every word, then they are not true beta readers; they are fans.

Love your fans, by all means.  Without them, we would not survive.  It’s even possible that some fans may be capable and willing to beta read your work, but really?  Do you really want them to?  Trust me, the last person you want proofing your manuscript is a “yes man.”

If you can’t cope with that, well, I’m sorry but you’re not a writer at all.  You’re just a dreamer with a hypersensitive ego.  Grow some balls.  Welcome criticism.  Learn from it gladly.

If you do this.   If you really do want to improve your work, instead of just showing off to others by saying “Read my work and tell me how wonderful I am!”, you may just produce something people actually want to read, instead of a manuscript you have to beg others to “look at.”

There.  Now that I’ve vented my spleen, if anyone wants to take the red pen to my work, please feel free.  I know I could do better.  I know I don’t always follow the rules, (see what I did there?), and I know my own writing will always benefit from a good slash-happy copy-editor.  If you want the job, I’ve got the cookies.


Guest Post – Elisha Fraser

Next author on the block is Elisha Fraser.  Place your bets folks!

Author Expose with 20 Questions – Hard, fast, random and possibly embarrassing.

G’day Elisha. Big contest today.  Home you’ve had breakfast!  Now, before we begin, let’s just look at your vital stats for a minute…

Author name (just in case it’s different from what’s up there in the title of this post):

Shebat Legion

Bio: – must include city & country, age, marital status/dependants – after that, it’s up to you:

I live in Temagami, Ontario in the country of Canada. I am forty nine years old, have two adult children and am step mother to two young children aged eleven and seven. I am in a domestic relationship.

Latest release:

Vampire Therapy, Chronicles Of The Cat’s Ass Boutique: A Cat’s Ass Valentine

Current Work In Progress: (pick just one WIP please!)

Vampire Therapy: Book One: Jackson and Eva

Thickshakes – chocolate or strawberry?


And now the 20 questions…

1  Let’s start off with your writing style.  Plotter or Pantser?


2  And just how disciplined are you when it comes to your writing.  Do you set yourself goals for word-count or pages, that sort of thing?

 I set aside x amount of hours per day, whether it be new material I am working on, or editing other projects that I am preparing. The phone is taken off of it’s hook and the door is locked!

3  Who does your cover art?

The cover for Vampire Therapy, book one: Jackson and Eva was done by the talented Dave Ford. My previous covers for other chronicles were done by Rue Volley and Riley Steel. For other projects, the covers are being done by the graphics people.. gotta love them, at these other publishing companies discretion.

4  In twenty words or fewer, what do you think the future looks like for traditional publishers?

I think a happy medium will be found so that indie and traditional publishers will be be able together.

5  Now I know we all put a lot of ourselves into our novels, but I’m also curious about what we leave out.  Are there any aspects of yourself that you’d like to work into a character that you haven’t already?

Yes, I have been dipping a toe into the horror genre and must find the courage to truly immerse myself, channelling the horror I find within myself and expressing it. 

6  What about the reverse?  Are there any experiences you give your characters that you’d love to try but haven’t yet?  Be honest – a “No comment” will result in me making something up, probably sexual.

I would love to visit a “Vampire Club.” 

7  I’m sick of reading about which authors writers admire.  What was the last book you just couldn’t finish & why?

Dante’s Inferno. I have multiple projects on the go and don’t have the necessary mindset to be able to concentrate it at this time. I kept getting lost in it’s epic wordiness and while I love archaic English, the book has been put onto the back burner for now.

8  At what point did a show (name it) you used to watch but stopped, jump the shark?

This is a difficult question for me as I truly do not watch television shows all that often. I do know what jumping the shark means but other that the show “Happy Days” where Fonzie literally jumps over a shark, nothing else comes to mind!

9  Sorry about that.  Told you there’d be random questions in this thing.  Let’s get back to the types of books you read.  It’s pretty safe to say most writers read – either willingly or they force themselves – a variety of genres.  What about the styles in those genres?  I always have trouble reading first person, present tense.  Are there any styles you like more than others?

I can neither read nor write present tense. First person is okay but not my favourite. It really depends on the author’s capabilities to write in that style.

Okay here are a few hot-topic questions

10  Censorship.  Where do you stand?

It would depend on what type of censorship you are referring to. I believe that certain things should be censored, example: child pornography, animal abuse… those too helpless to defend themselves. All other forms of art, for me, are acceptable and should be left to the discretion of the patron.

11  Some writers make their work DRM free so the files can be copied, traded, shared etc.  Some go bananas at the very idea.  How do you feel about it with relation to your own work?

I am probably the least technical savvy person you could have asked that question. I have no idea what the question even means. Sorry.

12  Are there any trends in the lit/publishing world you hope will end soon?  If so, what are they?

I cant think of any trend that I have an issue with. As long as a trend is enjoyed and is harming no one, I have no problem with it.

Let’s get back to some other random pieces and bits…

13  Have you ever read a book and wanted to slap the writer?  If so, what book, which writer, and why?

John Varley and his “Titan” trilogy. I wanted to find out what happened next!

14  When I’ve finished a draft and have it ready for beta readers, I set them a set of parameters within which to work – find errors, point out bits they find repetitive or annoying, and most importantly of all, watch for breaks in characters (Sarah wouldn’t say that!).  And, I want it done within three weeks.  What sort of demands do you place on your betas?

The most obvious ones would be punctuation/grammatical errors, but I do ask my readers to look out for any plot holes that I may have missed.

15  Have there been any scenes you’ve edited out because of a negative reaction from a beta, only to regret it once you released the work and got feedback from the public?

No. I stand behind my work and do not ever apologise for it. Writing, like any art form is subjective. 

16  We all joke about it, even though we could probably get in serious trouble if a real person thought we were basing a character on them, but have you ever given a character in your work traits from someone you know in real life?


17  Don’t name the real-life person, but which character, in which book are you referring to?

There are many. For book two of “Vampire Therapy”, I am using numerous people from the town that I live in. For other shorts that are soon to be published, for one story, I based the character on my mother.

18  Briefs or thongs?


19  We’re all selling ebooks, but as a reader, how do you feel about them compared to paper?

Each has it’s place. I do not like clutter so only keep my favourite books that are in print, displayed.

20  Once I start a book, I usually know within the first few pages if I’m going to keep reading.  If I do decide to stick with it, I’ll often stay up late or ignore all manner of pressing tasks, just to finish the book.

I am far too “Task responsible” to put things off and I tend to schedule my reading in the same manner as I schedule my writing. I set aside a certain amount of time for it, and when that time is concluded, move on to what needs to be done.

Wow!  Thanks Elisha!  What a great performance!  This is certainly going down in the record books!  Before we cut to a commercial break, where can people find you and your books?



There you have it folks!  Great words from a great competitor!