Friday, May 29, 2009

Dale Carnegie on speaking

"If we are going to talk to a small group, we should choose a small room. Better to pack the aisles of a small place than to have people scattered through the lonely, deadening spaces of a large hall.

If your hearers are scattered, ask them to move down front and be seated near you. Insist on this before you start speaking.

Unless the audience is a fairly large one, and there is a real reason, a necessity, for the speaker to stand on a platform, don't do so. Get down on the same level with them. Stand near them. Break up all formality. Get an intimate contact. Make the thing conversational."

My writer friends... Carnegie's advice works. And I suggest we should think of and treat our readers this way: get an intimate contact, make things conversational, create a bond of familiarity. How else can we expect them to suspend their disbelief?

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two new poems

I've resurrected a couple of poems I started back in the late 80's. They were outlined during my recovery from a lost love. Forgive the darkness.


A crystal passage from here to there

But no light with which to see.

"So what?" He asks with bitterness,

That door is closed to me.

Copyright © 2009 Clayton Bye


Her darkness beckons to me

From the distance of a winter night,

To walk upon ancient and unknown shores

Without the use of seeing eyes.

Her grace is cast on the moon,

Black hair glistens in the light,

And with the cold, harsh wind

A teardrop falls into my dream.

Ease by rock so wet and black,

Taste the salt upon her lips;

Keep those hard-found treasures:

The ice-cold stone becomes so thin.

Oh, I can see the beauty,

Or find warmth beneath the darkened land,

But will I ever know from what still pool

Came that pure water in her hand?


Copyright © Clayton Bye, 2009

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A mood poem

My new immunosuppressant has reduced overall pain levels by about 50%, which is good news. I'm paying for it, though: I've had a nasty virus for the past week. So, while I'm in a good mood, I'm also tired, and I find myself drifting to the introspective. Good time for a mood poem...


Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question “Whither?”

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Robert Frost

Friday, May 22, 2009


Note: this article has been previously published by the author.

A True Story

I came home one evening from a fourteen-hour workday, having had three hours of sleep the night before. I was tired, cranky and hungry.

My wife met me at the door and said "Can you take us over to the church for Kid’s Club?"

My gut-level response? Gripe!

Yeah, that’s right. I wanted to say no. I wanted to remind her that if she had a driver’s license she wouldn’t need to ask. I wanted to say that the kids could skip their meeting this week. I wanted to ask "What about my dinner?"

But what I wanted wasn’t the best response. It wasn’t even the right response. It was a typical response.

Here’s what I forced myself to do instead: I smiled. I said "Sure." I trudged out into the cold, scraped the frost off the windows of the car, started it up, went back inside and gave everyone a hug. I did this because it was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do.

This story took place several years ago, yet similar choices are required of me every day. It’s something that will never change. Success demands you choose actions that are out of the ordinary - every day. Are you prepared to make that commitment?

The Incredible Power Of Contrarianism.

You want a better than average life? Stop doing what most people do. Begin right now. Don’t wait until later today. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Make some different choices - right now.

I’m serious about this! Change is one of the most universally hated events. You should be prepared to welcome it for that reason alone - just because most other people won’t. Call it Contrarian Thinking or Contrarianism. It’s a way to force yourself to look at your choices from a different perspective.

Here’s the drill... When you want to generate better results than you’ve been getting, consider choosing a behaviour opposite of what you (or most people) would normally select in this particular situation. Now, I’m not saying you have to follow the course of action this exercise points you toward. Just give it serious consideration. Does this choice offer the possibility of better results? Do you have anything to lose by attempting this task? What other alternatives can you think of that might lead you away from the ordinary and toward the extraordinary? Make the best decision for you - based on the results you’re after.

In concise terms, Contrarians believe that the average person isn’t overly healthy, wealthy or happy - that these people just don’t make the right choices, or take the right actions, that lead to a better lifestyle. Contrarian philosophy also suggests outstanding achievement might be as simple a matter as choosing behaviours exactly opposite the average.

Emulate the exceptional not the ineffectual.

Let me ask you a couple of direct questions. Do most of the people you know deal with change well? Do you? If the answer was no (and it should have been), then there’s the justification for becoming a Contrarian. Simply put, if the results most people obtain in a given situation aren’t outstanding, why would you want to behave the way they do?

Let’s use this article as an example of what I’m taking about. A lot of people tend to read self-help literature passively, using the same approach they’d choose when sitting down with a novel. Be a Contrarian; do the opposite! Stop reading the moment you finish this paragraph, and act on what you’ve learned so far. Do something that opposes your normal choices. Not overly affectionate toward your spouse? Get up and give the guy or gal a hug. Say "I love you." Better yet, put on the coffee, get them something to read and do those dishes they were about to do; show them you love them. It’s the opposite of what you’d normally do, and yet it makes sense, doesn’t it? We all know intuitively that better behaviours lead to better relationships. So, try what I’ve suggested... Put the article aside for awhile, and do something that’s out of character, that’s the exact opposite of what you usually do.

Convinced? Probably not. But that’s alright. Success is a journey, not a destination. The key is to keep moving in the right direction, to make more good decisions than bad.

Let’s look at another example of the kind of success-oriented movement that can be generated through Contrarian thinking. This one deals with procrastination, a problem of epidemic proportions.

Most people, I’m sure you’d agree, have problems with their to-do lists. I know I did. The pressure of things left undone was a constant in my life, and there were always tasks that seemed to get put off until they became so urgent they superceded everything else, wreaking havoc with scheduled work, interfering with more pleasant pastimes, threatening the quality of my life. Solution? Using Contrarian philosophy, I began to do the exact opposite of what I’d been doing. Specifically, I made the commitment to do my unpleasant tasks at the beginning of each day. After these tasks were completed, I’d go through the rest of the day working on a list of prioritized goals, refusing to worry about items shelved for another day because of time constraints. The results not only astounded me, they changed my life.

A Powerful Contrarian Technique.

Step 1: Find the most distasteful job on your to-do list and get it done. Why? The choice represents contrarian philosophy as well as any example I could give you. There’s something invigorating about clearing a repugnant task from your list of things to do - and it’s uncommon behaviour. Try it. You won’t be disappointed.

Step 2: From now on, begin each morning by doing the least preferable job(s) of the day. Chances are you’ll feel so good about yourself procrastination won’t seem half so attractive.

Step 3: Go through the rest of your day working from a list of prioritized goals. Recognize that worrying about things left undone is counterproductive, that a steady, energetic and worry-free progression through your most important goals will leave you further ahead at the end of the day than anything else you could do. It's another uncommon or Contrarian choice.

Remember: When you’re prioritizing, don’t fall into the habit of putting jobs at the bottom of your list because they’re difficult, or boring, or nasty or... You get my drift, right? Arrange your tasks according to their importance and urgency - not by degree of difficulty.

I have many such examples of Contrarianism in action...

Are you, or have you ever been, a couch potato? I have. Here’s how I beat the habit: I made the decision to give my wife $5 for her personal shopping fund every time I thought about turning on the television or renting a movie. The end result was I don’t watch as much television as I used to, and my wife was able to enjoy several months of shopping at my expense.

Do you have the habit of laying blame when something unpleasant happens? You’re not alone. The Contrarian (and difficult) choice is to take responsibility where most people wouldn’t. After all, there’s a staggering probability that at some point in the chain of events there was an opportunity for you to have done something to change the results you experienced. The Contrarian would also find out what it was they could have done to get better results and would make the decision to alter their behaviour next time around.

Have you got the idea? By identifying the things most people aren’t willing to do - then doing those things yourself - you put yourself way out in front of the pack. So, stop wasting time. Make the change right now. Get contrary. Get different. Get on the high road to success.

Stop doing what most people do, and start doing what successful people do.

Is that all there is to it? Do successful people just choose behaviours that oppose the average? For the most part, yes. In general, successful people set goals they’re going to enjoy pursuing, work hard on a daily basis to achieve those goals, do the best they can within the realm of their abilities and spend little time worrying about what they can’t do or what others think. You must know, you must recognize, that the average person doesn’t go through life this way. The average person is reactive, rather than proactive. The average person doesn’t chart and adhere to a specific course but tends to be at the mercy of the winds of change, a statement supported by the lack of preparedness often exhibited when a strong wind blows through.

Think I’m being too harsh? Then consider this course of action: Get a pen and paper and write down exactly what you want from life, when you want these things to happen and the resources you’ll probably need. Break each of these large goals down into smaller and smaller tasks until you get to something you can do immediately. Do this thing. Then do the next task. And the next. And so on.

What? It’s too hard? It’ll take too much time? Well, you’re right. It should become obvious that this exercise is one without end, that will take you a lifetime to complete. But that’s the point. I’m convinced there are few people in this world who make the decision to spend each of the days they’ve been given on this earth "on purpose." Yet this is exactly what I’ve observed successful people doing! If there’s one ability these individuals share, it’s focus. Successful people "dig in." They refuse to be daunted by the lifelong challenge implied by the word "success." Successful people know what they want and go for it.

Be willing to cultivate experiences which will move you relentlessly toward your goals. Why? Because the average person won’t, and the successful person will.

Spend the rest of your days "on purpose."

The idea is so elegantly simple. At some level, I believe all successful people recognize that the meaning they choose to place on their experiences determines the direction and shape of their lives. It’s like having a pair of magic glasses to illuminate what’s important and to diminish what’s not, and it bestows the power to make the right choices.

This insight is important! If you can manage to interpret your future experiences in positive, constructive or proactive ways, I’m convinced you can accomplish virtually anything you can envision. Why not begin now?

Get On Purpose.

1. Review the patterns in your life, making a list of things you enjoy doing that you’re also good at. If you come up with zilch, go out and try new experiences until you do find a pastime you can enjoy. Reasoning? If you can’t enjoy what you do, you’ll never achieve an enjoyable lifestyle.

2. Lurking within this list of things you enjoy are thousands of opportunities. Your next job is to find a product, service or idea you can sell that’s related to this list. That’s right - sell. The only way anyone ever makes any money is to sell a product or a service or an idea. Every job in the world is, in some way, a service. All businesses sell something. And behind every one of these businesses and services are ideas people have either discovered or bought. It’s something everyone should think about, if not understand.

3. As for achieving outstanding success in the field you’ve chosen, the procedure is simple... Your earnings will always rise in direct ratio to the following:

a) The demand for what you do.

It’s up to you to find this demand, or create it.

b) How well you do it.

This is where the enjoyment comes in. If you don’t enjoy what you do, you’ll never put in enough practice time to become outstanding at it.

c) How difficult it is to replace you.

The more valuable you make yourself in the eyes of your direct customer, the more difficult it becomes to replace you.

Alright, that was a global approach for getting "on purpose." But what do you do about staying focused on a daily basis? I like to use what I call the 4 A’s of Achievement. It’s a system I devised for keeping me focused on the results I want from life. The system has helped me to maintain perspective, and it has led me to some outstanding achievements. I know it can do the same for you.

The Four A's of Achievement.

Awareness: Know what you want - from life, from this day or even from your current task. Plan each leg of your journey "on purpose" and with daily enjoyment in mind.

This is so important! Specific destinations give you a target to aim for, or a direction in which to travel. They give you that all-important thing called focus. Having fun while you’re at it increases the likelihood that you’ll repeat the behaviour.

Action: Get moving! Small achievable steps, taken on a consistent basis, will get you where you want to go.

Virtually any vision you can hold in your mind can be accomplished in time. And as this is a life you’re planning, the only thing with the power to actually stop you is death itself. So, get moving!

Analysis: Keep your eyes open. Learn to recognize when you’re on course and when you’re not.

Think about it: Those miles you rack up every day will only get you to your next port of call if you’re travelling in the right direction. Look for signs. Write things down! Check up on yourself. Stay on course. Get "on purpose."

Adjustment: If you find a good vehicle or a good road to travel, stick with it long enough to make some progress in the direction of your goal(s). But please! If you take a wrong turn, never hesitate to make a course correction. All good navigators know that staying on course is primarily a matter of small and continuous adjustments to keep from drifting off target.

Be prepared to modify your behaviour and actions as required.

That’s it. The uncomplicated but never easy path to the good life: Consistent and purposeful action over a lifetime - with a vigilant eye on the results.

To recap:

Figure out what you could enjoy doing with the rest of your life, then put your focus on behaviours with the potential to get you living that way. Pay attention to the results you get, making adjustments when needed. Become a Contrarian. Do what others are unwilling to do. Strive to find positive and productive meaning in each experience you have, rather than thinking, feeling, talking and acting as you have in the past. Dare to be different! If nothing else, you’ll end up with a more useful set of beliefs about what you’re capable of and about how the world works. Personally, I think the ride’s going to be more exciting than you could ever imagine. Have fun.

Copyright © Clayton Bye, 2009

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Ultimate Success Formula

I explained the cold hard facts of selling to a writer yesterday. She wanted to know how one could find 5 or 6 qualified people to talk to about her books each day.

Here's what I told her:

If you work by phone, you're going to have to talk to 75 qualified prospects per week (that would be bookstore owners, librarians, etc.). From these 75 calls, you should be able to set up about 15 face-to-face appointments, of which will produce a minimum of three sales. Okay, that's 3 people per day you'll be seeing (Monday to Friday).

Now, when you're out on your calls, you need to be cold calling 3 businesses who have some connection to what you write about - schools, gift shops, gas stations, set up a mall table or table at a local festival, any libraries or bookstores in the area you haven't already called, some restaurants carry books with local twists and even used bookstores will often have a new book section.

If you're doing any other kind of passive contacting, like mail, email, internet sites, even cold calling by telephone, your appointments or sales ratios are going to drop to 1-2%. Example, if you cold call by telephone (you don't have a legitimate connection with the person) expect 1-2 appointments from every 100 calls. Thus, you're looking at least 700 phone calls per week to get your 15 appointments. Frankly, you're better off to drive into a busy part of a city and talk to business people on a cold call basis. When I did this for my business text, Bare Knuckle MBA, I landed an interview about 50% of the time.

Note: the prospects for the most part will be buying multiple items.

Hope that answers your question.

Her response? It was something to the effect that she couldn't do what I was suggesting, that she'd just have to plug along and do her own thing.

My response? I emailed 188 previously contacted prospects today.

Here's what you really need to know about selling anything. It's called:

The Ultimate Success Formula.

1. Know your outcome
2. Take massive action
3. Notice what's working and what's not.
4. Change your approach.

"If you don't set a baseline standard for what you'll accept in your life, you'll find it's easy to slip into behaviours and attitudes or a quality of life that's far below what you deserve. You need to set and live by these standards no matter what happens in your life. Even if it all goes wrong, even if it rains on your parade, even if the stock market crashes, even if your lover leaves you, even if no one gives you the support you need, you still must stay committed to your decision that you will live your life at the highest levels.

- Anthony Robbins

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The importance of attitude

I doesn't matter what you do for a living, there are going to be days when just getting up is a challenge. Today is one of those days for me. I have such a sore throat, I can barely speak. And tired? I've already had 4 naps.

Yet one must persevere. We don't attain worthwhile results by lying around in bed.

Here's what I used to motivate me this morning...

"Attitude is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearances, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is, you have a choice every day regarding the attitude you will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the enevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you...

- Charles Swindell -

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I wrote this little piece of "I don't know what" several years ago. With my recent illness(es), I've had reason to reflect upon its meaning and try to make some adjustments in my life.

"The realization that all our misery and all our joy is a choice we make in the moment could well be enough to tear a mind apart. For in this realization one also comes to understand the insanity of the masses: lack is a myth; paradise is at hand - one simply needs to open his or her eyes and will it to be seen."
- Clayton Bye

Let me elaborate...

I'm sitting here at my computer at 6:51 am. My entire body hurts so badly, Tylenol 3's aren't even touching the pain, and I have the mother of all headaches. I could be lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. Instead, I'm writing. The more I concentrate, the less I feel the pain. The more I try to do, the better I feel about my life. I realize that being physically and mentally challenged to the point where I can't hold down a regular job has actually allowed me to pursue my greatest joy (writing) in a manner unprecedented in my earlier years. It's not the paradise I dreamed about, yet it has been my goal in life.

The choices we make in the moment really do determine the very substance or fabric of our lives. We can choose misery or we can choose paradise. Our lives are what we make them; we are and we achieve and we become what we think about.

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The secret to selling success

A fairly large group of my writing friends and acquaintances have been busy trying to come up with a new plan to overcome the sales resistance of bookstore owners and librarians to self-published work. I've been silent about these efforts until now. I knew it was just a lot of extra work to end up at the same place they could get all on their own, as individuals.

You see I know something. It's a secret that's been proven to work. It made me a salesperson of National quality. I've had quite a few selling mentors over the years, but no one has managed to put this secret of selling success more succinctly than Walter LeMar Talbot, one-time President of the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company. He has been quoted as saying:

"Gentlemen, after all, this business of selling narrows down to one thing - just one thing... seeing the people! Show me any man of ordinary ability who will go out and earnestly tell his story to four or five people every day, and I will show you a man who just can't help making good!"

It's that simple.

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Off the beaten path

It's been my experience that one can find some interesting things when travelling off the beaten path. It's no different in the writing world.

I've also noticed that people, myself included, can be quite narcissistic. We should all take a moment to consider the following wise words...

"It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring."

- Alfred Adler

With these two things in mind, I would like to introduce you to a couple of authors who can be found off the beaten path.

Tonya R. Moore

Influenced by writers like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Anne Mccaffrey, Larry Niven, Gene Roddenberry and Frank Herbert, this expatriated Jamaican writes fiction of a particular beauty. Her main focus seems to be on speculative fiction (Sci-Fi), but she also writes poetry.

She posts all sorts of free-to-read fiction. Check her out.

Peter J. Yakel

A talented musician and an author, Yakel is best described in his own words...

My books an' music are like possum stew. Literary masterpieces an' compositions are like filet mignon. Some folk enjoy that there filet, but pert near ever'body eats possum.

Listen to samples of his music and read reviews about his novel The Legend of Juggin' Joe at the above-listed URL.

Take the time to discover new and interesting authors, and don't ignore the independents. Support both traditional and independent authors.

One of the places you can discover great fiction is at It's a wonderful site dedicated to introducing to the best in all genres.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Something I feel strongly about.

I'm busy reviewing (at my own pace) for I'm also going to be the horror editor over at (at my own pace). With all my marketing, networking, blogging and health issues, this is going to leave me little time for promoting some of the authors I've selected myself. So, as this is a blog about the writing life, here's a review of a book that taught me more about the middle-east than any history professor ever did. I'd recommend it to anyone, especially those who like historical fiction.

The Janissary Tree
By Jason Goodwin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May, 2006
ISBN-13: 978-0-374-17860-4
ISBN-10: 0-374-17860-7

Istanbul in the year of 1836. This mystical city, known in earlier times as Byzantium, Constantinople, even the second Rome, is brewing a revolution. You can taste it in the air. The Sultan, an aging man fond of drink and certain western ideologies, is about to issue an edict that will force the modern world upon his people. A valued collection of Napoleonic jewels has been stolen from the palace. In seemingly unrelated incidents, a young woman about to become a full member of the harem and an officer, one of four missing members of the New Guard, are found murdered. Someone has left a disturbing poem on the Janissary Tree—that infamous landmark the vanquished Old Guard once hung their enemies upon. And Russia, anticipating more turmoil, is preparing to advance on the city.

The valide, the Sultan’s mother, who has thrived in the violent world of Ottoman politics, suspects a coup is underway. Her son’s seraskier, the head of the armed forces, is only concerned with putting on a good review the day of the edict, with showing people that the backbone of the empire is unbreakable. The Sultan? He’s keeping his opinions to himself but has sent for a man named Yashim Togalu.

Yashim is called the lala, the guardian. This is a title of respect given to men who have been charged with the responsibility of caring for families and households of rich and powerful people. These men are trusted with women and children because they are all—without exception—eunuchs, men who have been castrated at an early age.

We are told that an ordinary lala is something between a butler and a housekeeper, a nanny and the head of security. But Yashim is anything but ordinary. He’s unattached, a free lance. Yet he moves through streets and palace hallways with equal and anonymous ease. An accomplished linguist, a man who knows how to gather information with quiet efficiency, and someone who truly understands the power structure of the world he inhabits, this unusual eunuch is the perfect spy.

Immerse yourself in Jason Goodwin’s The Janissary Tree as he peels back the skin of the Ottoman onion to give us an exquisite taste of the complicated soup it was. Already an acclaimed historical author, Goodwin brings the 19th-century Turkish Empire alive in a most visceral way. When Yashim prepares stuffed mussels, I’m there. Descriptive visits to the Janissary Tree, the market district, the Soup Maker’s Guild and various other destinations make both the city and the Janissaries seem so real I begin to imagine these elite soldiers are waiting around every fascinating corner. And the people! Here is a book with a cast of characters so intriguing the last page is turned with sadness.

Jason Goodwin has written a great novel. In particular, Yashim the Eunuch helped me to experience a culture so intimately I was at once appalled, enticed and intrigued. He also managed to forever change my perception of the Turks.

I want more.

copyright © 2006 Clayton Clifford Bye

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Theme For Today

I joined a discussion this morning (on another site). The topic is important enough to writers, I've decided to make it my theme today.

The original subject was a commentary by someone in the traditional publishing world who was fed up with the whining of independent or self-published authors on the internet.

Here's my reply in it's entirety:

"The first thing you should know about me is that I’ve published my own work under the Chase Enterprises imprint since I began writing back in 1994. There’s nobody else involved except my printer (who’s been with me since day 1).

Yes, there are whiners and awful self-publishers out there. Too many of them.

However, something you might not understand is that while getting traditionally published is hard at the outset, and hanging on to a publisher is almost as hard as getting one, the self-publisher faces his or her hardships at the other end of things. They’re almost completely shut out of brick and mortar distribution. As this is still where most book sales occur, they’ve got one hell of a battle to fight.

As for their so-called publishers, the many POD companies who compete for their dollars? It’s been my experience that they really don’t have the authors’ best interests at heart. Like small Canadian publishers, who survive on publishing grants, many of these companies get the bulk of their money up front (in this case, as service charges). They know most of these authors aren’t going to sell a lot of books and, if they do, they get a chunk of the sale anyway.

I don’t think the small traditional publishers or the POD companies short authors on compensation; I believe there just isn’t a lot of compensation to be had. It’s the same for most authors housed by the big, traditional publishers, isn’t it?

I’m not trying to justify whining. I’m merely pointing out that anyway you look at it, publishing is a tough game to play."

Clayton Bye

Author of Bare Knuckle MBA

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A sales lesson for all you authors out there.

"You can't collect your commission until you make the sale;

You can't make the sale 'til you write the order;

You can't write the order 'til you have an interview;

And you can't have an interview 'til you make the call!

The whole foundation of this business of selling is calls!"

- Frank Bettger

Monday, May 11, 2009

A publishing comment

I've just been having a discussion with another independent/self-published author who thinks we shouldn't promote our independence because of the stigma associated with this kind of publishing.

Hogwash! As someone who's faced stigma of one sort or the other all my life, I know the only way to overcome prejudice and ignorance is to stand up to it in the clearest and most comprehensive way you know. This attitude made me a national quality salesperson and the author of so many pieces of writing I've lost count. It also gave me the opportunity to be a professional speaker.

And I ask you this, is it really so bad being an independent author? I think Richard Bach presented a good idea in his book, Illusions:

"Negative attachments... If you really want to remove a cloud from your life, you do not make a big deal about it, you just relax and remove it from your thinking. That's all there is to it."

Yep. I don't even think about traditional publishers these days.

For more of Clayton's
writing visit his website or become a fan.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Some comments and some reviews

Good morning everyone,

I've tried to keep the entries on this blog timeless. This means you should feel comfortable going back through the older posts. There are stories, poems, reviews and useful bits of information I wouldn't want you to miss.

Also, I'm going to once again encourage everyone to leave comments. Your feedback is important to me and to those who follow - even if you have something to say I might not like. For example, one fellow told me he probably wouldn't come back because the blog template was dark and the white type too hard on his eyes. You can see I changed the template.

Now, here are a couple of reviews of a few traditionally published books you might want to check out...

By Joy Fielding, Seal Books/Doubleday, 442 pp., $12.99

Joy Fielding has spent her career peeling back the skin of ordinary people. From her novel See Jane Run to Don’t Cry Now, I’ve always found myself drawn into the lives of the people she writes about. While HeartStopper may seem to be a departure from the rest of her works, I would beg to differ; In HeartStopper, Fielding rips off the face of a small town and gives us look into the true nature of the people who live there.

Welcome to Torrance, Florida. Population: 4,160. Deputy sheriff, John Weber, 20 years on the job is having his competence questioned because of a serial killer who’s targeting beautiful young women. The town, the mayor, even John himself are worried he can’t protect these Heartstoppers. With a wife and a daughter he doesn’t like, John throws everything he has into his job. Teacher, Sandy Crosbie, an emotional wreck—thanks to a straying husband—is too caught up in rebuilding her life. She may not be watching her own daughter, Megan, (one of Torrance’s heartstoppers) as closely as she should. We also get to peer into the lives of a number of highschool students who show such a tendency for cruelty that you just have to shake your head. Then there’s Kerri, Sandy’s husband’s new girlfriend, a veteran of so many cosmetic surgeries no one knows where the fake stops and the real begins. And Fielding doesn’t stop there. We get to read the serial killer’s journal and witness the violence of one of the main suspects for the murders.

HeartStopper is Fielding’s first foray into what I would call popular fiction, and she does it with style. I certainly enjoyed the novel. Couldn’t put it down.

If all mainstream novels delved into character as well as Joy Fielding does, the landscape of popular fiction would look much different—and I would have to say better.

Copyright © 2008 by Clayton Bye

Duma Key
By Stephen King, Scribner, 611 pp., $32

Stephen King has built his career by putting ordinary people into the most unusual of situations, slipping horror into many of his stories as naturally as you and I go through our days. "Duma Key," although set in the Florida Keys with a less than ordinary King protagonist, does not disappoint.

Edgar Freemantle —the millionaire contractor who’s lost an arm, suffered some serious brain trauma, wrecked one leg and lost his wife—has found himself recuperating on a sparsely inhabited Florida Key with a handfull of interesting characters. Turning to an old skill, Edgar begins sketching and painting as a kind of therapy. But instead a peaceful return to some semblance of normality, he finds himself painting a series of disturbing works, some of which he barely remembers painting.

This being a King story, we automatically look for the fright factor. Is it Edgar’s strange paintings, his new friend with the bullet in his head or the strange old woman that lives in a mansion up the road? Bringing us slowly, almost leisurely, into the lives of these people, we begin to sense something is very wrong on Duma Key. Centering on the theme of creativity unleashed by injury to mind and body (something King has worked into several novels since his near death experience in 1999), the maturing author gives us a frightening look at the cost of second chances.

A welcome read after his disappointing novel, “Cell,” King returns to the unusual character creation he gave us in “Lisey’s Story,” and once more takes us masterfully to the edge of our imaginations.

“Duma Key” brings us sea shells that talk, paintings that kill, giant frogs with “teef” and birds that fly upside down. Only King could write a book like this. I’m glad he decided not to retire.

Copyright © 2008 by Clayton Bye

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A quote or two

"Today is yours." You must seize it because it is fleeting, only twenty-fours hours that are soon gone by. If you live to be eighty years of age, you will have only 29,200 days. Each of them, therefore, is a precious fragment of a gift called time, your time. It only makes sense to use every day well. Today is yours. Use it well.

- Norman Vincent Peale

"Measure your health by your sympathy with morning and spring. If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature, if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you, know that the morning and spring of your life are past. Thus you may feel your pulse."

- Henry David Thoreau

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hey folks,

I've posted a new poem to a number of my sites. It will follow in a moment.

But first, I want to encourage everyone who follows me to make comments on what they see here. It will help me adjust content (keep it interesting), and it will let me know I'm not talking to myself. We writers trend toward that anyway.

Here's the poem. It's about something my daughter experienced as we were on our way to my sister's place...

A Hole In The Clouds

radiant beams
a hole in the clouds

gossamer strands
speak out loud

warmed heart
a child's eyes aglow

soul is livened
I drive slow

Copyright © 2009 Clayton Bye

Video preview of Getting Clear

Video preview of The Hundred

Rough night; rough day.

When feeling as I do this morning, I usually turn to my mentors for advice. Here's one of the quotes I came across...

It takes forever to maintain change; but it takes just a flash to achieve change of even the most profound sort.
- Tom Peters, The Pursuit of WOW!

I'm off to make another video preview for one of my books. Hit it hard folks.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Life, in general

When you experience any unwanted emotion, recognize that it is a physiological response to your perception of not being prepared to deal with the situation at hand. The solution is to choose (immediately) a more profitable course of action.

Check out Getting Clear, a book about making your emotions work for you.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Some thoughts to share

I've picked up a lot of new quotes since I began increasing my internet presence. So, I decided to begin sharing some of my own collection. Here goes...

"Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters."

- M. Scott Peck
"The Road Less Traveled"

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thought for the day

"Everyone is born unique but most of us die copies."

- Unknown

Video Preview of The Success Handbook

I have an interview up at Thanks mikodragonfly.

Monday, May 4, 2009

My poetry


at contiguous depths
send blue lightning
across clouded voids
and are caught
by red-laced fingers
to recreate
the perfect sound
of a drop of water
splashing on skin.

Copyright © Clayton Bye, 2008


Happenstance is but a way of words,
The stumbling path of fools;
Yet a trail met in the wooded night
Cares not for weathered rules.

Deaf and dumb goes the traveller
Toward the outward shape;
Glancing not beneath the rock and leaf,
A sketch of the human ape.

But in vapid searching one still learns
To scratch the inner vein.
Eyes roll and bangles burn in that light—
The answers seem insane...

For piercing the learning dark we see
New visions clear and clean,
Struggling with our ever-cluttered minds
To grasp what they might mean:

A white-winged horse and a graceful moon
Seek form in mountain fire,
While I, the fool, not too simple yet
Of ornaments do tire.

Copyright © Clayton Bye, 2008

Sunday, May 3, 2009


By Tim Fleming
Eloquent Books, 2008
240 pp., $29.95, Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-606-93401-2
Historical Fiction

Timothy Fleming claims to have spent a lifetime researching the CIA’s impact on post-World War II America. His blog, Left of the Looking Glass seems to back up that statement. But it’s his book, MURDER OF AN AMERICAN NAZI, that makes me believe it’s true.

Reading like a documentary or a piece of non-fiction, Fleming’s historical novel reveals an America that we’ve all seen hints of but never want to believe could exist. Here is a story full of real world people, events and CIA operations anyone can discover on the net—if they have the right names, places and code names, all of which Fleming gives us. It’s a story about an American shadow government made up of greedy conglomerates, CIA enforcers and Nazi recruits.

Woven throughout the eerie tale is the life of one Marie Hannah Kanermann. Born in Dachau (a German concentration camp) as it is liberated by the Allies and raised in the U.S. by the friend of her dead mother, Marie grows up fighting the secret government with words and actions.

Both her story and that of America after World War II unfold through the words of a retired cop, Don Hayes, as he tells one of his friends about the murder that never was: the death of ex-Nazi and CIA operative Walter Dornberger.

Impeccably written, Timothy Fleming’s novel feels just too real to be fiction. Perhaps it’s the sparseness of dialogue. Maybe it’s the fact most of the people mentioned in the book really existed. Could be that I’ve seen one too many American wars started for falsely stated reasons. All I can tell you is that if you can wade through the complex strings of accusations laid out in the first half of the book, you won’t be able to put it down through the second half.

MURDER OF AN AMERICAN NAZI is a book meant to make you think. My opinion is it will also keep you from sleeping.

Hell of a job, Mr. Fleming.

Copyright © 2009 by Clayton Bye
Well, I finished reading Murder of an American Nazi last night. It's by Timothy Fleming, and if you don't mind some sleepless nights, it's a worthwhile read. I wrote a review for it, and once the author has had time to take a look at it, I'll probably post it here.

This morning I read the first 6 chapters of Pandora's Lament, by Tonya Moore. She's a fine writer and I encourage you to look her up on the net.

I've been pretty much confined to the couch for the past couple of weeks. I have moderate to severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, and I've had a flare-up that crippled me. For those of you who don't know, I'm also bipolar, so you can imagine how the flare-up affected me.

Even so, I've finally got back to working on my sequel to The Sorcerer's Key. That's great news!

I'm even getting into this blogging thing. It helps to keep my mind off the pain and depression.

So long for now.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Info about making video previews

Writers, check this out!

As you may have noticed, I've been posting video previews of my books on this blog.

They're easy to make:

1. Design each page in your presentation program. I use Wordperfect Presentations X3 (it lets me preview a full screen version of the page, which I can PrtSc right into an empty Gimp document and save as a JPEG without having to do any formatting at all.)

2. When you're done saving each page as an individual JPEG, go to Google's (you'll have to create a pro account). Make a new albulm file and upload all of your new JPEGs. Now, go to REMIX (on the tool bar) and follow the instructions. Publish when done.

3. You can then load your video preview directly on sites like myspace, facebook and blogger. You also send code to places like

Message me if you have any questions or problems.


Video preview of How To Get What You Want From Life

Friday, May 1, 2009

Video preview of Bare Knuckle MBA

Short Stories

The Speed of Dark

Richard Bartholomew's little brother sat on the bottom stair and studied the line that bisected the rock-walled basement.

"What's the speed of dark?" he asked.

Trying to ignore the sudden knot of pain in his stomach, Richard answered. "Doesn't have a speed, Tim," he said. "Darkness is just the absence of light."

Shadows, almost lifelike in their furtive movement, crawled a few more inches away from the walls. Richard pretended not to see them.

"Light moves fast?" Tim asked.

"Nothing's faster," Richard said.

Small windows atop the western wall glowed with that special golden light which always seems to be reserved for crisp, autumn evenings. These tiny glass squares of life cast beams of airy gold into the spreading gloom. Billowing ribbons of dust danced along the slender rays, entertaining the watching boys, distracting them until the darkness closed in, until the colour of the light changed and took on the hue of blood.

Suddenly, Richard heard his mother's voice within his head. "Somebody’s got to go.”

She'd stood as a rock in the middle of the hall, blocking the way out to the world. Had taken her purse up before speaking, dug out the keys to the old Motor Cart. Then, casually, as if instructing him to do something as mundane as washing the breakfast dishes, she'd made her wishes clear.

"You decide," she'd said. "But I want somebody gone by dark."

Mother had locked them down—as she always did when going out. The rumble of the engine as she eased down their gravelled drive reminded Richard of distant thunder. A cold shiver walked up and down his spine. Bile rose in his throat.

Richard wiped the memory from his mind and joined his brother on the steps. He could feel the younger boy tremble. The cool, dry basement air was sour with the scent of Tim's fear. A centipede scurried across the floor, its serpentine movements and glossy red skin the perfect harbingers of this night.

"How do we get out of this?" Richard asked himself. Action was required. Becky had proved that.
Nobody gets to refuse mother. Not even once.

Tim had Becky's eyes. Richard had been able to keep her alive in his mind because Tim had her eyes. Grey. With striations of blue and yellow.

"Wanna try busting a window, Tim?" he asked.

Tim looked up at Richard with his copies of their sister's long-dead orbs and said, "Can't bust those rocks. So what good is it gonna do?"

"We can't just sit here and wait for it, Tim. She don't take no for an answer. We gotta get out."

"Windows are too small," Tim said. "Ain't no way to change that."

Both boys allowed their gaze to follow the lines of the walls. The basement had nothing in it but the stairs on which they sat, four bare rock walls, a hardened earth floor and a couple of rows of six-inch windows. They'd already tried to force the door at the top of the stairs. Hadn't managed it. Not even when there had been three of them.

"Can you make me not afraid, Richard? Can you make it so I don't have to go into the dark?”
Richard started crying.

"Watch the windows, Timmy," he said. "Let the sun fall on your face."

Tim got up and walked over to one of the diminishing beams of light. He turned toward the window from which the beam originated, then stepped into the path of the reddening light.

"Richard!" he exclaimed. "It's still warm.”

The older boy didn't have the heart to tell Tim that the warmth would fade, that there was no way to escape the darkness. Their problem wasn't the speed with which darkness travelled, he thought, but one involving the very nature of darkness.

Richard hung his head, tears darkening the soil below. He didn't know how to explain that the dark was already here. It had always been here.

Copyright © 2008 Clayton Bye

Once in a Lifetime

We were mice, moving through a myriad of tunnels in the north field. There were five of us in there. Hadn’t heard or seen anyone in more than half an hour.

I’d come to a crossroads. I was pretty sure the tunnel on the right headed to the northeast, eventually coming up against the eastern fence. The tunnel on the left would take me to the north and another fence, or, if I stayed left all the way, it would split and end at the western opening, near the water pump which sat at the very edge of the woods.

I laid on my back and stared at the sunlit ceiling above me. Someone walked overhead. Searching for mice no doubt. I stayed still and chewed on a long frozen stalk of field grass I’d pulled from the from wall of the tunnel. No danger here. My friends and I had never seen the like: you could jump up and down on top of any of the tunnels and never even make a crack. The crust of ice-fused snow must have been at least two inches thick.

We had played all sorts of games on the field this winter, overtop the tunnels: lacrosse, boot hockey, broomball. Christmas holidays had never been this much fun.

I don’t remember who thought of the tunnels. I think we started out building a fort and someone decided to dig a protective cave at the back of it. Genius from such a simple idea. When we realized the crust would hold our weight—even when all the snow beneath it had been removed, the digging began in earnest.

The adults had no idea what we up to, and in the following days we built such a complex set of trails, you could almost get lost in there.

I used the tunnels as a hiding place when it came time to pump and carry dozens of pails of water up to the house (mom used them for washing clothes).

The girls would disappear at odd times without warning. My brother and I had figured out they had a little room somewhere near the centre of the field. We just hadn’t been able to find it yet; I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

The tunnels became something special to us—magical for sure—but something even more, a thing we could feel in our bellies and in the thudding of our hearts, yet couldn’t name. All I know is that each of us were enamoured for the few weeks the cold weather kept the crust nice and firm.

Then came the day—this day— when with no warning at all a foot appeared through the roof of the tunnel, just a few feet away from my head. A second foot soon followed.

I called everyone out. We gathered in a mournful circle around the hole in our tunnel, knowing without speaking that the fun was over for now. None of us imagined that it would be forever.

Copyright © 2008 Clayton Bye

My Books

Everything you need to know about running a profitable business. [more...]

Canada like you've never seen it. This collection of articles is sure to entertain and inspire. [Click here] for more information.

Improve your life or business in small and simple steps. [more...]

Practical techniques for building the future you've always wanted. [more...]

Make your emotions work for you instead of against you. [more...]

Daily choices with the power to generate outstanding results. [more...]

A dark sorcerer from Eden battles Jack Lightfoot for a talisman that will give him unrestricted access to Earth and her technology. [more...]


The continuing adventures of Jack Lightfoot.

[Have a taste...]

Video preview of The Sorcerer's Key

Video preview of The Contrary Canadian