99 cents

Why did Ed Griffin’s Once a Priest get 4.6 on the Amazon scale? It’s because of the people who read it and commented on it. It’s on special for 99 cents Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, April 13, 14 &15.

“It is a deeply personal account of his coming of age in an era of racism and war, as well as his tireless efforts to help and guide those less fortunate, even in the face of much adversity.”
Amazon Review

  The REAL Hero’s Journey
“Once a Priest” is a story about rights and wrongs. It’s as simple as that. I love his story. It made me think about choices I’ve made myself and wonder what I would have done if I were in his shoes. Highly recommended.”
Martin Crosbie, bestselling author of “My Temporary Life”

“His story is everyone’s story but for the fact that not everyone can clear the rubble of others’ expectations. In this way, Ed Griffin’s memoir lights a path of wisdom. Humble, at times self-effacing, yet proud in the best of all senses of the word, Ed would never, I suspect, want others to see him as a hero. But he is. I recommend this book to everyone.”
Elizabeth Lyon, internationally recognized writing expert

 “The result was a dramatic change in the young man’s life story.  ” Robert W Mackay| 3 reviewers made a similar statement

“Very interesting book – and a very interesting guy!  ” Nancy Wilson| 2 reviewers made a similar statement

Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, this book has something to say about the “process” of living.  ”  Farmer’s Wife| 1 reviewer made a similar statement

In 1965 a young priest had a choice to make. Stand by his convictions and participate in a march in Selma, Alabama or tread softly and abide by the orders from his superiors?

Ed Griffin has spent his life on the outside, waging a war against social injustices.
From marching with Dr. King, and losing his parish, to standing up for his beliefs and leaving the priesthood, to spending twenty years as a volunteer writing teacher inside one of the toughest prisons in Western Canada, Griffin has always been a man willing to stand up for what he believes in.
He’s been a priest, a politician, a husband, a father, and a lifelong advocate championing against social injustices.

Once A Priest is his story.

The revolution

I enjoy writing. I go over my work, over and over. I polish it, mostly by sharing it with my critique group. They point out problems I hadn’t noticed. I rewrite it again. But what about selling it?

The marketing world for books has undergone a revolution. Up is down and black is white. Now it’s just the writer and the reader. All those people in the middle are gone, the agents, the editors, the sales staff, the professional readers and so on. Yes, they’re still there for the big sellers, but not for new authors like me.

So now I have to learn a new way. First I have to get my head straight. There’s nothing wrong with this new way. I’m an Indie Writer, I self-publish my books. This used to be looked down upon, but if you think about it, nothing’s wrong with it. I’m proud to be an Indie Writer, at least I should be proud.

I have to learn new ways to market. The marketing is almost completely in my hands. I sign up with groups that will help me, especially Indies Unlimited, www.indiesunlimited.com. I ask other writers for help. Most writers are willing to help, to pay it forward.

The saddest thing for me to see is a man or woman with a great book to sell, but a person who doesn’t realize that everything is changed.

What is your opinion of this revolution?

The Active Voice

Your writing becomes stronger when you use the active voice. Good writers favor the active voice, which they describe as more natural, direct, lively, and succinct. They think of the passive voice as wordy and weak
weak, passive:
The skater was slammed into the wall by Maria.
strong, active:
Maria slammed the skater into the wall.
weak, passive:
The book was enjoyed by me because the events of her childhood were     described so well by the author.
strong, active:
I enjoyed the book because the author described the events of her childhood so well.
Notice how much shorter the active voice is:
Passive: When application of force is used, the lid will open.
Active: Apply force to open the lid
Passive: Your exits should be made quickly.
Active: Leave quickly
Passive: The man was bitten by the dog.
Active: The dog bit the man.
Passive: I was told by my teacher to come at noon.
Active: My teacher told me to come at noon
Passive voice always involves a to be verb. To be verbs include am, are, been, being, is, was, were. On the other hand, a sentence can include a to be verb without being passive.
Achieving Active Writing
Active language comes not just from avoiding passive voice but further requires the use of strong action verbs. In addition to avoiding to be verbs, you should try to replace helping verbs such as have, had, has, do, does, did and other vague verbs like got and get.
Before: I had opportunities to develop my skills.
After: I sought opportunities to develop my skills.
Before: I got the promotion through hard work.
After: I earned the promotion through hard work.
Before: She did well in this competitive environment.
After: She thrived in this competitive environment.
Before: My mother didn’t want to show up without a gift.
After: My mother hesitated to show up without a gift.

Take a look at a page of your writing. Is there a passive verb you can change to an active one? A weak verb you can replace with a strong one?

(Join Ed Griffin for some creative writing classes at the Phoenix Centre, every Monday from 10 to noon. We’ll start with two sessions on slam poetry, then two on writing greeting cards, and then the basics. In these courses, we: pass the hat, work hard and learn a lot, have a lot of fun, give away all the secrets of writing. Starts next Monday, April 7. The Phoenix Centre is behind Surrey Hospital, so it’s hard to park. However, we give you a parking pass. Send questions to ed@edgriffin.net and sign up at that email.)


The Right Words

For years, I’ve been screaming about rhyming poetry. Sometimes I make it a joke, and sometimes I hint that it’s very old fashioned.

What I’ve been neglecting is a section of my book that talks about poetry and words. It talks about finding the right word, not bland words or grandiose words, and I think it puts a proper perspective on rhyming poetry.

After all, because of its brevity, a poem’s every word holds that much more weight, and must be chosen with great care. Here are some tips to help you choose wisely:

  • Narrow your focus: Grandiose themes like ‘love’ and ‘injustice’ need to be pared down to manageable size. What sort of love, what kind of injustice?
  • Write around your theme: Is your poem about love? Then don’t use the word ‘love’ in your poem! (What a bland word it has become, after all . . .) Instead, describe the precise feeling, build a metaphor, write around the idea of love to get through to the core of what you’re trying to evoke.
  • Express ideas, not emotions: Poetry is more than a venting of feelings (that’s what a diary is for!). Put some intellectual distance between yourself and the subject matter of your poetry.
  • Ditch the Rhymes: Don’t rhyme for the sake of rhyming. New poets tend to think they can get away with less-than-perfect rhymes, and/or rhymes divorced from meter. Not so! Stick to free verse unless you’re prepared to work very hard at mastering formal poetry.
  • Edit your poems: Poetry too must undergo many revisions in order to shine. Don’t be afraid of scrapping whole verses, or cutting everything down to a few good lines and rebuilding — this is a necessary part of the process of producing great poetry.

 In general, writing poetry is a matter of compressing language to what is most essential. Limit the number of articles and other fillers. Use adjectives sparingly, because overuse can become jarring to the reader. When in doubt, cut it out.

Poetry is not chopped prose, so try to avoid ‘telling’ a story as much as showing the reader just enough information for the story to solidify in his or her mind. A lot of poetry is very subjective and emotional by nature- do not fear using stronger language or more intense imagery in order to get your point across to the reader. What will ultimately sell your poem is a strong ‘voice’- that point of view that separates your work from anyone else’s.

This Coming Weekend…

Marketing your novel used to be straightforward. With the help of your writers’ group, you wrote a killer query letter and then you sent it to X number of agents and/or editors. And if you were anything like me, you thereby generated a roomful of rejection letters. The gatekeepers of the industry, the agents and editors, rejected 99 percent of what they received.

For twenty-three years, I did exactly what the gatekeepers told me to do and I got nowhere. Now comes a revolution, the Internet, social media, and Ebooks. I have to start over, but starting over isn’t nearly as hard as it might seem. I can learn a lot of what I need in one weekend. It’s this coming weekend at Douglas College and I’m going. http://vswonline.org/shop/live-course/the-bestsellers-list-secrets-weekend/

The Bestsellers List Secrets Weekend.


  – Picking the correct categories and reaching the top of Amazon’s bestseller lists
  – Using Amazon’s Tools to showcase your book to thousands of readers
  – Connecting with the top interview and review sites and getting reviews at NO cost
  – Developing marketing strategies that guarantee exposure to readers of books like yours
  – Creating a professional product without spending a fortune
  – Learning the secret behind great titles
  – Building support systems that work
  – Having media opportunities come to you

The workshop is presented by two people that I know, two people who are going to guide us into the future. Both of them have been where you and I are now. Don’t forget that your costs for learning about writing are tax-deductible. This is the place to spend your dollars for learning about writing and marketing in today’s world.

Gatekeepers?  You won’t meet any of them here. The two instructors are people who will open gates for us.

The Ratio of Writing to Marketing

What is the proper ratio of writing to marketing? How much time do you spend writing and how much on marketing what you write?

This is a bummer of an answer, but I don’t know. And I’ve never found a blog or an essay that does know.

How about you? What is your ratio? Writing 80% — marketing 20%? Here are some other people’s answers to this specific question, “What is your writing-marketing ratio?” This is from one of Amazon’s sites for writers:

  • Mine’s 95% writing and maybe 5% marketing, but I consider books the best marketing strategy out there. (Reply #3)
  • Best marketing is your next book…so…I guess I spend about 98% of my time writing, but 100% of my time marketing. (Reply #7)
  • For now it seems to be a Catch-22. I need more books to sell more books but I’m trying to set up my publishing environment and juggling writing. (Reply #8)
  • In my limited experience (two books) I spend a lot more time marketing during the first month or so after the book comes out and then it tapers off after that…. My hope is that it’ll continue under its own momentum after I’ve gotten it going well. I’m still trying to write at least 1k words a day though. (Reply #11)
  • I spend almost no time marketing. I consider writing the most important thing.(Reply #12)
  • About 20% of the time I’m writing. The rest of it is doing business stuff (including marketing – around 50%), and expanding my book empire. Bwuhahaha! I finally broke down and hired 2 assistants so I have time to create more content. (Reply #23)
  • Writing: 80%. Sleeping my way to the top: 15%. Tequila: 3%.  Macklemore and Ylvis on Youtube: 1%.  Screaming at my Mumbai ghostwriters and marketing/review generation boiler room: .5%  Napping: .5% (Reply #28)
  • I try to line up paid promos at the beginning of the month. This takes a couple of hours, tops. Beyond that, I spend a few minutes a day on FB and Twitter, so I’d say it’s 99% writing/editing and 1% marketing. (Reply #31)

It helps to answer this question for yourself. What is your ratio?


As some of you know, I began my professional life as a Catholic priest. I must confess that I was a pulpit thumper, not about sin, but about social injustice (which I considered to be sin)

Here is a pulpit thumper, tongue-in-cheek, sermon on point of view:

preacher           Friends, I want to talk to you today about a sin that cries to the heavens for vengeance.

A writer sits at her computer.  She struggles with getting her characters across.  She is SORELY tempted to give more than one character a point of view in a scene.  The devil waves the alternative in front of her, promising all manner of wonderful characterization if only she will give in on this rule.  It looks so easy, just switching between characters.  “Besides,” the devil says, “they do it all the time in romance novels.”

Damnation awaits the writer.  Read the holy books. Ansen Dibell in her treatise on PLOT published by Writer’s Digest Press, says, Chapter 3, Verse 40, “Never, never, NEVER, shift viewpoint in the middle of a scene.”

Oh, I know the devil will make it look easy.  You just have to report that a minor character is sad or happy for some reason.  Or the devil will come along and slip in such expressions as “David heard the doorbell ring,” when you’re in Susan’s head.  Beware.

Or a minor character will suddenly know something.  “Fred guessed it was Sam at the door.”  This is a most pernicious error.  You must stay in the mind of the point of view character.

The writer who switches viewpoint is hell-bound.  He or she cares not for the reader.  Imagine the poor reader being bounced around like a Ping-Pong ball, now in one head, the next minute in another.  This sin cries to the heavens for retribution.

Lift your eyes up!  Concentrate on the rule:  One point of view in a scene.  This is the way to salvation.  Now say it — yes all of you say it.  Are you going to give up your evil ways?   In a single scene how many viewpoints can you have? One! That’s right, you people are saved!

Now place one hand on the manuscript that’s sorely afflicted with multiple points of view.  And place your other hand on this text.  Pray that the message will flow from my words into your manuscript.  Yes!  Yes!  I see by your faces you’ve been saved.

But wait, friends.  This pernicious error of multiple viewpoints is spreading.  The young are at risk.  You can help stamp out pernicious viewpoint changes.  Send a check or money order.  Or use Master Charge to further this effort.  Our operators are standing by.  Remember:  THOU SHALT NOT CHANGE VIEWPOINT UNTIL THE SCENE IS OVER.

(Do you agree? Or do you slam you hymnal and walk out of church? You know lots of authors who switch point of view all over the place.)