Reader feedback on Life in the ‘Cosm: Oct 6, 2016

This book is delightful. The characters are relatable in their humor (and struggles), and the world-building is done in a subtle way that isn’t glaringly jarring or overly pointed… you just get swept up and carried along. And the visuals are great. Definitely worth a read for fans of almost any genre. You won’t be sorry.

~ StarkTech, on Amazon US

Thanks so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

~ Cait

Journey of a Thousand Steps: high-tech, intrigue, Ottawa

I wrote about meeting two authors from Renaissance Press when I lost my virginity at Ottawa PopExpo in November 2015. One of the authors I talked to was Madona Skaff-Koren, who wrote Journey of a Thousand Steps. She was absolutely lovely to speak with, and so was Caroline Frechette, who was also at the booth. After a delightful chat with them both and explaining I was an aspiring author, I bought Madona’s book and she signed it with an encouraging message. (Thanks so much!)Madona's inscription

And now for my review. The short version: buy this book. A slightly longer version: No, seriously, buy the book.

I just finished reading it this week and am still in wow-mode.

At the beginning of the journey we meet Naya Assad, an athlete who unexpectedly falls while running the Ottawa marathon. She finds herself unable to continue the race and then at hospital Naya discovers she has multiple sclerosis. At this point, I assumed this book would be about rehabilitation, which was interesting enough for me, because I have friends with MS and am also a spoonie with a disability. I was ready to be motivated by a character who might be worse off than I am, but who’d blow me away with her tenacity.

skaff-cover-print-196x300Well, Naya did. And not because she does her physio exercises daily. When discovering a close childhood friend has gone missing, Naya is determined to find her. Naya owns a small security software company with Travis Bloom, and she calls upon her own skills as a hacker, plus those of their employees, to locate her friend. We the reader are immediately whirled into a sea of high-tech intrigue, shady characters, more missing people, and a whole lotta ‘what the heck is gonna happen next’?

I didn’t want to put it down at night and was about to do that Clockwork Orange thing to keep my eyes open. It was that riveting.  Ottawa will never be the same for me, either. (Looks over shoulder in paranoid fashion.)

I’ll stop there because I don’t wish to give too much away. Just pick up the book and support an emerging author. It’s worth it!

One more thing: is it OK that I might have a slight crush on Travis?

A Journey of a Thousand Steps is available in paperback and eBook. I sincerely hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!


Cait Gordon has been a senior technical writer for high tech and government organizations. Her first novel is being sent to the universe. She hopes the universe likes it. (The second book has begun and a third will happen, too!)

What Happens in Book Club: Saucy, sexy, and so much fun!

This spring I joined a Facebook group called Fifty Shades of Geek, which is such an awesome collection of enthusiastic folks. We’re pretty much allowed to go nerdy on anything. It’s very inclusive.

What+Happens+in+Book+Club...-+E1+(It's+Not+Me;+It's+You)One of the admins of the group, Robin Elizabeth, is an indie writer. I just finished Episode 1 and Episode 2 of her novellas, What Happens in Book Club… I affectionately nickname them the Australian Bridget Jones’s Dairies. They tell the story of Gwyn, a high school teacher who with her besties, Selena and Mac, belong to a monthly book club that takes place in a local pub. They’ve just finished reading Fifty Shades of Grey and are trying to disinfect themselves with classics for the next year. Should be safe, right?

Except Gwyn’s finding her sex life is becoming a blur between fact and fiction, as she unwittingly chooses partners who mirror characters in the books her club’s reading.

The language is raw, the dialogue honest, and I find the women so charming. They are the saucy types I would have hung out with in my 20s. Or maybe even now.

The first novella is free on Kobo and the second one is also available on Kobo. (See Robin’s comment below, for more places where you can buy it.)

I’m totally thinking of joining a book club now. 😉


Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ‘Cosm, which will be out in the fall of 2016. She’s also accidentally writing the second book in this series. She didn’t know there would be a series. Huh.

I’m afraid for my Ma’s health. MEDIC!

As I await comments from beta readers, I am almost in hysterics over how emotional my Ma is about my novel. It’s like watching a child see the sky for the first time. I think she might be even more attached to my characters than I am. It’s just hilarious how after so many chapters she asks me a tonne of questions about what will happen to whom. I even said this afternoon, “Ma, I wrote an entire book, so you can answer your questions by reading the rest of it.”

Gosh, would every reader be like my own mother!

I’m not naive, though. I know this novel won’t be for everyone. Espcially since it has no pervy vampire sex. 😉 It does have sex, though, in a comical sort of way. Silly sex is the only kind worth having, in my opinion. So buy my book when it comes out, ’cause it gots sexy silly sex!

My Ma has survived the sexy silly sex stuff. She told me that she’s old, so nothing much shocks her that way. Really, Ma? Hmmm.

Even though I’m in suspense over my beta readers’ comments, I can’t wait for the next excitable phone call from my Ma. She just cracks me up. So far it’s my favourite part of the writing process.

Any fun moments of your own, writing-wise? Share with us in the comments.


Cait Gordon has been a senior technical writer in high tech and government organizations. She is currently a Web Developer consultant for Dynamic Canvas Inc., and assistant to the Executive Director at H’Art of Ottawa. She also enjoys her crafting business, Cait Cards.


No, really, get an editor.

“Hi, I’m Cait, and I’m a writer.”

“Hiiiiiiii, Cait!”

“It’s been over 20 years since I started writing, and I acknowledge I need a higher power. I need an editor.”

People clap. Someone hugs me. An enthusiastic word-smith gives me tips on how I could have improved my confession. I am among writers who cannot write real good without an editor’s polish. I am home.

I just finished reading a few paragraphs of a book written by an independent author. Now, I might be an indie author myself if I don’t get picked up by a publisher, so I’m not about to slam people from my potential clan. However, I felt a wee bit of a sting while reading the work, because the writing could have been tighter.

ID-100236272One of the biggest complaints I hear from readers about indie books is that they are poorly written. You don’t know how many of my friends have wagged their fingers at me, saying, “Make sure you get your book professionally edited!” My response is always the same: “I wouldn’t dream of publishing anything without a proper edit.”

Writers, my homies, you might have original ideas and a cool style, but you’re never as good as you think you are. Take it from me. My work is so desperate for an editor’s eyes, the manuscript created a personal profile on eHarmony, listing “must like to rearrange words” as its turn-ons. I was paid for over two decades as a technical writer and in that time was subjected to Editing Bootcamp from the Dark Side. What I learned most of all is how blind I will become staring at my own work. I’ll stop seeing my own mistakes and my brain will tell me everything is perfect, when it’s not.

Unless your Auntie Sally is a book editor, don’t get friends or family with “a little editing experience” to do the final edit. This is where you should fork out some cash. I know, it’s hard when you are an unknown and the money is not there. Think of it as an investment in future book sales. Readers can be tough with their reviews and if your book is poorly edited, news of it will spread and your work will be dead in the water. Give your book a fighting chance. It’s your baby, after all.

Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware published the article, Vetting an Independent Editor, where she warns us to make sure any independent editor we hire is associated with professional organizations:

“Also, for individual editors, membership in the Editorial Freelancers Association (US), the Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders (UK), the Institute of Professional Editors (Australia), or the Editors’ Association of Canada are all indications of professionalism. (The websites of these organizations provide a lot of helpful information, including sample agreements and charts of recommended rates).”

~ Strauss, Victoria (2012). Vetting an Independent Editor. Writer Beware.

I’m currently having test readers go at my book, and the group includes avid readers and writers. I fully expect to get bombed with feedback. They are acting for me as my substantive editors and will tell me if the structure and content of my story gels. Even though I plan to query publishers, I feel this substantive peer review is vital. As for the copy edit, which checks grammar, typos, punctuation, and so on, I plan to do a two-step process. First, for querying publishers, I’ll get an editor I know to comb through the text, so it presents well. Then, if I’m not published traditionally, I will hire a professional book editor for a final copy edit.

It takes so much out of your soul to write a book, and I would rather people panned my work because they didn’t like it, rather than because it was poorly written. Presentation is everything, especially in alphabet arrangements.

Have you had bad reading or editing experiences? Let me know in the comments.

Happy word-writin’!


Cait Gordon has been a senior technical writer in high tech and government organizations. She is currently a Web Developer consultant for Dynamic Canvas Inc., and assistant to the Executive Director at H’Art of Ottawa. She also enjoys her crafting business, Cait Cards.

Up next: Beta-reader draft!

I gave myself a few days to shout, “Whoo-hoo, I finished my first draft!” Now, I’m back to chewing all my nails and the first few centimetres of each finger as I realize my next step is to write the draft that my beta readers will review. Uh, excuse me for a moment.


OK, that helped a wee bit. You see, the first draft of my novel is written solely for my benefit. I can read it, I understand it, and I get excited about it. However, I know my book is way far from being finished, and the technical writer in me knows what a review process is like. Heck, I remember handing in drafts of user guides and watching them get ripped to shreds. This will be different, though, because as cool as an SSL appliance is for securing online transactions, I’m not as emotionally attached to the material that describes how to use it. No, this work is purely my creation. I’ve fallen in love with my characters, I empathize with their emotions, and the book is my baby.


Sigh, I know. Beta readers are invaluable because the novel isn’t their baby. I desperately need them to tell me what works, what doesn’t, if the rhythm of the story is right, if the characters are annoying or charismatic, and if they’d want to buy the book. So, as best as I can, I need to comb through the story, chapter by chapter, and make this the best draft I can make, without an editor’s help.

Things I’m planning to do:

  • Make sure every chapter has a consistency–I don’t want ups and downs when it comes to the quality of writing. I want the same effort to be made for each chapter.
  • Go through at least two passes of useless words–No writer wants to admit that they do this, but we have to own up to it to help other writers. When you’re ploughing through that first draft, you really, really don’t really realize how you really can overuse words that add no value to your sentences. I removed hundreds of such words and after they were gone, I had no idea where they first were. This really, really, can clean up your manuscript and tighten your story-telling.
  • Listen to my story–I cannot stress enough how important it is to have another person’s voice read your story back to you. It helps with flow of dialogue and gets my attention when things don’t sound right. It also gives me confidence when things do go well with flow and rhythm. I typically convert my book to an epub format and let my Google app read it to me.
  • Type a list of things I’m looking for–I want my beta readers to tell me whatever they like, but there are a few things I need to know, as I mentioned earlier in this article. Guidelines can help people direct feedback to you. The more information they can give me, the better I can improve my work, or understand how it is perceived.
  • Breathe into a paper bag–PEOPLE ARE GOING TO READ THIS STORY FOR THE FIRST TIME! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! Yes, of course I’m nervous as heck. I’d be lying if I played it cool. You put yourself in a very vulnerable place doing this for the first time. It’s truly my first time, beta readers. Please be gentle with me. (Nah, just go for it. I want this story to be a good one. Lay your feedback on me!)

I’ve selected my beta readers already, considering the genre that I’m writing, and am looking forward to and dreading to read their critiques. In the meantime, I’ll take the advice of another writer who said to work on something else while people are reviewing my work. Believe it or not, I have another story that I’m playing with, and I might dabble in that while I’m waiting for comments.

That, or I’ll just pig out on cupcakes.

Until next time!


Cait Gordon has been a senior technical writer in high tech and government organizations. She is currently a Web Developer consultant for Dynamic Canvas Inc., and assistant to the Executive Director at H’Art of Ottawa. She also enjoys her crafting business, Cait Cards.