Categories
promotion writing

Free pre-release copies of my writing?

Are you interested in free pre-release copies of my writing?

I would like to build a better relationship with you, my readers, by offering advance copies of my writing and by asking for your help in building buzz about upcoming books.

If you would like to be a beta reader and/or if you’re interested in providing reviews on Amazon and/or Kobo, join my mailing list. I will be announcing upcoming opportunities to my mailing list as they become available. Sign up today!

As always, thanks for reading and talk soon!

Todd

 

Categories
writing

Writer’s Digest – Poor Customer Service – RESOLVED

Update Fri Apr 29: Great news! Writer’s Digest stepped up in a big way today to resolve my issues. Yesterday, I emailed a copy of this blog post to Writer’s Digest editorial support. And, I tweeted a link to this blog post to Writer’s Digest’s online Twitter curation team (@writersdigest@brianklems, @chucksambuchino, @jessicastrawser and @robertleebrewer). By 9:30 this morning, I had two emails in my inbox from two different support people that included links to the two issues I had originally requested (March/April & May/June).

Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with the way they resolved my issues. I have resubscribed to Writer’s Digest and gladly recommend their products due to the excellent customer service that I received today. Special thanks to everyone that assisted me with getting my issue resolved today: Missy Fenn, Online Circulation Coordinator for F+W, Shannon Smyth, Email Customer Service for Writer’s Digest, Brian Klems, Chuck Sambuchino, Jessica Strawser and Robert Lee Brewer.

Folks,

I’ve been doing a fair amount of research lately to make sure that I have the latest tips and techniques pertaining to writing and publishing online. One resource that I was extremely excited to read was Writer’s Digest. Their two recent issues (March/April and May/June 2016) look like they have a great deal of good content in them. The May/June issue is especially interesting – it is their annual “Web issue” and it contains their annual ranking of the top 101 best websites for writers. I was really excited to subscribe to Writer’s Digest’s digital subscription.

I subscribed two weeks ago (on April 18) and I have yet to receive the current March/April issue or the next issue (May/June). I have reached out to Writer’s Digest three times to sort this out. But unfortunately, after my third interaction with their support team today, I had no choice but to cancel my subscription. I’m sharing my full story here as a cautionary tale to anyone else that might be interested in subscribing to Writer’s Digest. Buyer beware!

Note: I have reached out to Writer’s Digest for one last chance at resolving my issues. If they are able to help me out (and redeem themselves from this disappointing situation) then I will update this post.

I want to share my recent poor experience dealing with Writer’s Digest magazine’s subscription support team. My goal is to make you aware of this interaction and to ask for Writer’s Digest’s help in turning this into a positive experience for me (and to share that good news with the readers of my blog).

On April 18 2016, I subscribed to Writer’s Digest’s digital only product online. I was compelled to subscribe because of the content in the March/April and the May/June issues of Writer’s Digest. I subscribed expecting that the March/April issue would be my first digital issue (I did subscribe in April, after all) and that I would then receive the May/June issue in a couple of weeks.

Upon subscribing, I received a link for the January 2016 episode and was unable to find a way to obtain the March/April issue. Using the WD subscriber services website, I submitted a request asking for assistance on obtaining the new issue. I have still not heard back from WD pertaining to this email request.

A couple of days later, I called WD subscriber services to try and obtain my first issue. The person I spoke to was quite sympathetic and he told me that he would submit a request to have the May/June issue emailed to me within the next couple of days. I am still waiting for this email to arrive.

I called WD subscriber services again today (on April 28 2016) to try to obtain my first issue. This time, I spoke to a person named Trevor. I explained the situation and he put me on hold to try and figure out how to help me. He came back on the phone and explained that he was unable to send me either the March/April or the May/June issues as part of my subscription. He said that if I was interested in either of these issues, that I would have to purchase them individually from the WD web store. This was less than ideal, as the original reason that I subscribed was to obtain these two issues as part of my subscription.

I asked if there was anything else they could do and Trevor said there was nothing further they could do. I asked him if I could unsubscribe and he said yes. So, he canceled my subscription with no questions asked.

There are two problems for me here:

  1. I am unable to obtain the products that I wanted to purchase via an annual subscription to WD. I feel misled as I subscribed during the period where the issues were available.
  2. Trevor, the subscriber services person I dealt with, seemed eager to cancel my subscription, which seems to be the opposite of what a subscriber services support person should be trying to do. He did not object to my desire to STOP purchasing a WD product. In fact, he helped put money I had already given him back in my hand, rather than helping me and making me a happy customer (who would remain loyal for many years).

From what I can tell, Writer’s Digest offers advice to writers about how to build audiences (among other things). And, from what I can tell, Writer’s Digest is helping writers expand into digital subscriptions (subscriptions are a great ongoing revenue stream). Unfortunately, in this instance, Writer’s Digest has failed to earn a digital subscriber by missing the mark on not one, but THREE interactions with an eager customer.

I am sharing my experience for two reasons:

  1. To highlight my issues with the hopes that Writer’s Digest can avoid similar poor experiences with customers in future; and
  2. To try one last time to obtain the March/April and May/June issues as part of a digital only subscription (I will gladly pay the posted price for an annual digital only subscription).

I have emailed the above note to Writer’s Digest and I am posting a copy of this letter on my website (toddhdow.com) as well to share my experience with my readers. If we can resolve this and/or if you have feedback to offer, I would be glad to update my blog post to reflect any further communications that we have together.

I look forward to hearing back from Writer’s Digest.

A disappointed customer,

Todd Dow

 

Categories
writing

Coming soon: Dawkins & Holy Wars

In my last post, I shared my Big Hairy Audacious Goal: I want to be a writer.

That’s all well and good, but every writer needs a topic to write about. Luckily for me, I have a whole bunch of ideas I want to write about. In this post, I’ll share the ideas that are top of mind for me right now.

The God SolutionFirst up, I want to do a re-release of “The God Solution to the Atheist Delusion”. I’m happy with the original book, but I think I can make it even better. So, I’m re-editing the book to make it more polished. And I’m also adding some additional content to the book. I’m not ready to share the specifics yet, but my aim is to double the content and ensure that the book can stand on its own without needing to read Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” first. And if you purchased the original version of this book, don’t worry – you’ll be able to download the updated version from your Amazon or Kobo library as soon as the new version is released.

Next up is a project that has been percolating for a number of years now. This is an historical fiction series called “Holy Wars”. This series traces the evolution of violence from the time of Christ to present day. The early Christian state was born out of a need for a strong, united military. From this beginning came increasingly horrific, centuries-long justifications for inciting violence in the name of religion. Covering 2 millennia, this series offers historical accuracy and compelling storylines. And, I’ll be pairing this historical fiction series with a non-fiction reference guide and standalone cheat sheet for readers who want to know fact from fiction.

I’ve got plenty of other ideas, but I think this is enough for one day.

Stay tuned because I’ll be posting soon about how to get your hands on early review copies of all of my writing.

Until then, thanks for reading!

Todd

 

 

Categories
personal

My Big Hairy Audacious Goal

Spaceman!Did you ever have dreams when you were a kid? Did you want to be an astronaut, a police officer or a firefighter? Maybe a zookeeper or an archaeologist (thanks Indiana Jones!)? I went through phases where I wanted to be all of those things and more. I’d play outside for hours as a kid, pretending to be all of those things. Or I’d be in the house responding to one life-threatening emergency after another with my Lego, Playmobil and Fisher Price toys.

But more than anything, I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write books. I loved books. I remember sitting on the floor in the hallway in my house, copying (word for word – so much for plagiarism) articles from my National Geographic Encyclopedia of Animals books. I was pretty young then – maybe 5 or 6 years old. Maybe a bit older than that.

A couple of years later, I made my first book at school and shared it with others a local young authors conference (my memory of this is hazy, but I think I remember the event taking place at the Hamilton Art Gallery). I don’t have that book anymore, but I remember it was hand crafted from paper and coloured card board (for the cover), with a child’s imperfect touch. I don’t remember what the story was about, but it was short and I’m certain the story was secondary to the physical book that I had created on my own.

I tried writing more. But it was hard work. I wasn’t very creative. I didn’t have a flair for writing. My early (and brief) attempts at writing stories didn’t get very far. I only remember one of my early stories and it was repetitious, boring and lacking in substance. I found it tough to simply put words on the page. I wanted to write lots of books, I just didn’t want to do the writing. Discouraged, I stopped writing.

Stephen King autograph
Me at a Stephen King autograph session in 2013.

I kept reading though. I discovered Stephen King in grade 5 or 6. He was THE BEST! His stories were scary, they had lots of bad language and they were full of adventures, violence and lots of kids getting in trouble or causing mischief. And, he was an awesome storyteller. From simple stories like “The Long Walk”, to stories that became Academy Award winners (Misery) or near winners (The Shawshank Redemption should have won), Stephen King had it all. And he had it in droves. I had more reading than I could handle and I loved it!

I forgot about writing for a while. I came of age with the Internet and I built my career on it. I worked at AOL and Postmedia (amongst other places) as geek, building the tools that writers used to connect with readers online. I got to see the growth of the online industry from the inside. It was awesome. And still is. I still find it fascinating that such a huge economy is built from transmitting ones and zeroes all of the place. Computers make something from nothing. You can’t eat the Internet. You can’t live in the Internet. The Internet won’t keep you dry when it rains. And the Internet will not stop your neighbour from robbing you.

But the Internet does provide ALL of the information you could ever require to accomplish any of these things: it’ll help you optimize your crops, it’ll help you find, make or improve your living accommodations, it’ll teach you how to build a lean-to (why don’t more kids go to cubs and scouts to learn this stuff nowadays?!?!) and the Internet will even connect your sensor-laden house to the police to tell them that someone has broken into your house.

I started writing again in my mid-twenties. I was working on a liberal arts degree (philosophy and religious studies) on the side, while working full time in the IT field. This re-awakened my desire to write. But books were written and published by big publishing houses and only professional writers could do it. Oh wait… that was before the Internet. The Internet was revolutionizing print media. It was like Gutenberg all over again. Power to the people. Anyone could be an author. If only you knew the technology… And as luck would have it, I was one of those people that helped build that technology!

So away I went, writing and blogging and tweeting and more. I had aspirations of riches and fans a plenty. I did build community. It started with family and close friends. I’m sure some curious co-workers lurked as well. Then it grew to be people I interacted with online – peers, strangers and other interested onlookers. Then it was friends of friends. I learned from others and they learned from me. I even published a book – it was a collection of blog posts, but it was an actual book. Not a printed book – it is in e-format only, but still – I wrote a book!

Then life got in the way. Work got busier. One baby multiplied into three (not triplets, but staggered over a few years) and my numerous book ideas started aging in Google Drive.

Then I got sick.

It didn’t seem life-threatening at the time. But then the doctor told me the tumour they removed was cancerous. He said it wasn’t life threatening and that I was going to recover fully. But holy crap was it a wake up call! I started thinking about what is really important in life. This is where people can have a real mid-life crisis, rethinking their lives and making drastic changes to achieve things they think will make them happy.

I feel so fortunate. I had a lot of time to think. I assessed my life. I thought about what I am happy with and what is missing. I love my family. My wife is my soul mate. My kids are awesome. The only thing to change here is to spend more time with them. Focus on making memories because the work and the rest of the noise of life will always be there. But the kids will grow up. My wife will grow old with me and we’ll miss out on doing things when we’re young. And I love my career. I am in an exciting field doing interesting things with a great group of people. And I am growing in my responsibilities at work. I feel fortunate – the two most important things in my life are already awesome. Other things are good too: I am fairly fit (I teach karate), I have a great group of friends (who I don’t see often enough!) and I have a comforting sense of faith and I belong to a great faith community at my local church.

The one thing that stood out to me during my recovery though was my writing. I have a bunch of unfinished projects and I would regret not finishing them. So here I am, on the far side of a serious life changing event and the only thing I want to change is to write more. It’s no mistress or overpriced sports car and I can do it without disrupting the other important things in my life. And if that is my mid-life crisis, then I’m happy with that (and so is my wife!).

So yeah, that’s my big hairy audacious goal: I want to be a writer.

I’ve got about ten project ideas floating around inside me. Single books, multi-book series, fiction, non-fiction. And I suspect that at least a couple of other people will find them interesting. And my blog is the primary place where I’ll talk about my writing. I have other online hangouts, which I’ll touch on another time, but my blog is my home. So stay tuned – I’ll be sharing more about my book ideas in the near future.

In the meantime, what did you want to be when you grew up? How’d things turn out for you? And how do you feel about that?

Thanks for reading!

Todd

 

Categories
personal

What to do… or, Why am I blogging again?

Don't let your blog die @DonnieMarges
Don’t let your blog die @DonnieMarges!

I’ve been a bit neglectful of my blog for a few months now. I update it once in a while, but my latest updates tend to be about things that have happened way in the past, that are lacking in depth and that are sporadic in frequency. This is disappointing because I view my blog as my primary place to write, reflect, share and communicate.

What happened?

Social media and the ease of instant gratification has happened. I rarely think to blog about anything anymore. It is so much easier to write a quick tweet, post on Facebook or share an impromptu photo online. Instant communication is great. But it leaves me feeling fragmented. Disjointed. Unhinged, even.

Then, when something major like my recent health issues come about, panicked posts to update friends and family become part of that spaghetti that you throw out on the wall, hoping that some of it will stick. Once I was feeling better, I wasn’t sure who saw which Facebook posts, who I talked to in person, who received my email updates and who was updated by someone else. That left me a bit bewildered about how to update everyone all at once. And that brought me back to my blog.

toddhdow.com has been my online home forever. And the content on that site is mine. I can download it. I can save it offline. I can import it elsewhere if I want. I can even easily delete some of my content if I want to. At the end of the day, my blog is mine and the content is owned by me.

Sure, I can delete my posts off of Facebook or Twitter or any other social network as well. But is it easy? Are you certain that you deleted all of your content? What if they change their terms of service? I don’t know about you, but I don’t really feel that I own my content on most social media sites. My blog categorizes my content in a way that makes it easy to manage. Social networks just aren’t built that way.

Don’t get me wrong. Social media is awesome. I love it. I love being able to keep in touch with people. I love keeping in touch with old friends, seeing how people are doing and sharing my experiences online. And there is no easier way to rally my friends to a common cause or keeping them in the loop on my various joys and concerns.

But to me, it just isn’t organized. It’s a big crazy jumble of stuff with no easy organized way of sorting and sifting. To an obsessive personality like me, it just isn’t organized enough.

So I come back to my blog. I’ve been sad that my blog has been neglected. I enjoy updating my blog. I value the outlet that it provides to me to share my thoughts, opinions and various ramblings. I find it therapeutic. And I like building my own little corner of the internet.

I decided to write a summary of my recent illness as a starting point, a marker on my return to blogging. I don’t know how long my return will last, but I suspect it’s going to be for a while. What makes me think that? I’ve got some ideas. They’re pretty cool ideas. They’re still rough ideas, but they are getting more clear each day.

Watch for my next post in the next few days. I’ll share some of those ideas with you then.

Todd