Monday, October 24, 2022


Book signings!

This is where the real fun begins!

Book signings are great fun but be prepared to do some preparation. You can't just hang up a sign the day of your event and expect it to be successful. Remember the 5 P's. “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” This holds true in all parts of life, especially when putting something like this together.

A few steps are critical. First and foremost, remember, you are a guest. Don't demand anything. Let the proprietor know your needs, but they have the final say. Some business owners feel, justly or unjustly, that anyone who comes into their business who is not a direct customer of theirs, is an inconvenience. DO NOT be that inconvenience. Be a gracious guest and they are far more likely to be that gracious host you are looking to partner with.

Next, ask the business owner or manager how YOU can help them. This is their livelihood you are asking to interrupt. Give them any fliers or literature they may find helpful and take it down for them immediately after the book signing unless they want to keep it.

BRING A CROWD!! I can't emphasize this enough. Bringing some extra customers to their place of business goes a long way to making you welcome then and in the future. Even if it is only a few people that show up, make sure you invite everyone you can think of, even if you don't think they will come. They might surprise you.

Make sure you have enough books! You don't want to run out of inventory. Unless you are extremely well known, 30-40 copies will be sufficient, but have extras just in case. It's easier to go to the car and get some extras out of the trunk than it is to tell someone, they will have to wait for their signed copy.

Make sure you select a venue that works for your genre. Two things will come from this. First, you are more likely to get permission to hold your event. Next, you are more likely to be successful. For example, I don't think my westerns would be as well received at a high society tearoom as they are at a western cafe or coffee shop. However, a romance novel would be far better received at the tearoom that at a rodeo.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS thank your host. A handwritten card to them by name goes a long way. Remember, you're an author, so writing a heartfelt thank you should be easy.

As always, thank you and God bless.

Phillip Hardy

Author of Lone Oak, Vengeance Is Mine and several short stories with more on the way.

Monday, September 19, 2022



I hope that you are having fun. There is an adage that you write some parts of your story to create friction between the characters, some you write to develop your characters and some you write simply for fun! Why not? Yes, writing is serious work, but why write if you can't have fun?

I find great joy in creating characters who are a bit quirky. For example, Aunt Mable, in “Lone Oak” is sassy with a heart as big as the Alaskan outdoors. She has a sharp tongue at times but also a tender heart. Everyone calls her “Aunt Mable” even if there are no nephews nor nieces in the story.

Just a couple of examples of my, and my children's, favorite character from “Lone Oak”.

Elizabeth stomped her foot. “Ugh! Can you believe the nerve of that man? Thinking I need someone to look after me. Why, I was doing just fine before he came along.” Her face was crimson with anger, and she clenched and unclenched her small fists. “Why I have half a mind to—”

To what, dearie? He just wants to make sure you’re safe is all. Maybe he’s a bit overprotective, but he means well. Give him a little bit of an opportunity, and you’d find him a real gem. Of course, all gems need some polishing. That’s where us womenfolk come in.” Aunt Mable smiled at the young woman pacing the floor in front of her. “Now come sit here before you wear a hole in my rug.”


He has you treatin’ his wounds and fussin’ and frettin’ that he might get killed, and then he thinks, just because he’s been shot a couple of times, he can get out of it? I’ll give him a few more lumps if that’s what he thinks,” the oldster fumed.

I love Aunt Mable. Just don't get on her bad side. Why did I create her? Because she was fun, funny, sassy, tough and tender all in one. Kind of like the grandma we would all love to have. And if you read the story, you'll find out she can cook like your favorite aunt or grandma too. I think she adds to the story, but the real reason she is such an integral part, is because she was fun to create.

Are we having fun yet? You better believe it!!

Until next time, this is Phil Hardy signing off.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Writing Groups

Join a writing group, they said. It'll be fun, they said.

Hopefully your writing group won't look quite this intense, but the truth is, for them to be any good, they must be honest. Sometimes that honesty is quite brutal to our egos. No matter what, if there is a writing group, join them. Before you do though, check your ego at the door. None of us are as good as we could be and that should make us want to improve. That constructive criticism will help you polish your writing and help you overcome some of your bad habits.

Why is it important? The truth is, because we all read our work like we THINK we wrote it. Someone who is unbiased, or at least less biased than we are, will find the errors in what we thought was the perfect "Great American Novel". Our friends and family are great for boosting the ego, but sometimes we need our bubble burst in order to improve. 

I remember my first foray into the "coliseum". I was fresh and excited and looking forward to hearing how wonderful the first chapter of my book was. Coliseum is the right term. After reading the first few pages, the half dozen other writers shredded what would later become a highly recommended western novel. "Lone Oak" is now a much better story with fans clamoring for the next book in the series thanks to their honest critiques. 

These groups will also help you, should you decide to publish your work, in finding editors, publishers and book distributors. They can be your toughest critics, but they are also some of your greatest fans.

Signing off for now.

Phil Hardy

You can learn more about my works, or even order your own copies at,



Wednesday, August 10, 2022

How to organize your thoughts.


Organizing your book

A lot of people debate about how to organize your book. I mean, how do you keep on topic and keep the story moving forward? You can't go about it all willy-nilly, can you? You'd end up with a mess that no editor could possibly fix for you. The truth is, there are numerous ways to organize your writing, and no single way that works for everybody. However, there are some principles that apply to all of them. Know your characters, know your plot and know where you are going.

I think that most authors use the outline method. What that means is they write down, in outline form, the main points of their story and then flesh them out. This helps them to keep the story flowing in a definite direction. The outline can be as simple as a single page or as detailed as you decide to make it. The main point is, if this is how you work best, write the outline so you can work from it. Make sure to include the main characters and action sequences. You don't want to put things out of order, nor forget names and places critical to your story. Readers will notice that.

Others write completely “freestyle”. In other words, they write whatever is in their mind at the time and let the story develop itself. This can work, if you write continuously. The problem arises when you leave the story for a few days or weeks and then try to return. While it does lend itself to your imagination, there are times when you may forget critical elements or go off on a tangent that doesn't enhance the story. That means you will have to rewrite parts of the story in order to make it coherent. Your editor will be a critical asset when you write this way.

Others write as if writing a screenplay. What I mean by that is, they think of the story in scenes and write the scenes, tying them together to make the story complete. When writing this way, you can write a scene out of order, knowing where it fits into the story and insert it at the proper time. It sometimes leads to the issue of how to tie all the scenes together into a comprehensive product. In this method, as with the outline, you must know the beginning, middle and end of your story.

These are a few ways that people organize writing their books. Whichever way you choose, one of the most critical things is, select the one that works best for you and try it out. You may decide later to change your method of organization, but try them until you find what one, or combination, works for you.

Which one do I use? Well, let's just say, I still use a pen and paper most of the time and leave it at that. Until next time, keep writing.

To order your signed copies of my books go to:

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

How do I learn to write?


Another question.

What's the most important part of writing?

I get asked this question from time to time and people are amazed at my answer. Some would think the outline. Others would say just to write what you're thinking. Still others would say, write whatever comes to mind and edit it later. Someone else would say to take a writing course. They would all be wrong, in my opinion.

Does that shock you? It does most people. While those things are helpful in their own way, none of them, in my opinion, are the most important part of writing. You see, writing is the art of using language to communicate an idea or paint a picture in the mind of another person. Now that I have made you think, I will tell you what the most important part of writing is to me.

Reading. That's right! Reading grows your vocabulary. Nobody wants to read a story, nor even a textbook, which is repetitive. A strong vocabulary helps to paint a much more vibrant picture for your readers. I have to check myself, at times, to make sure I don't use the same word or phrase too often.

Reading increases your imagination. The art of storytelling is more than information. It is elaborating on an idea and making it come alive. Have you ever read a book and thought, “What a battle that was?”, or “That must have been exciting”. That means the book you read was more than just words on a page. It was an adventure that you participated in. If you did not join in the experience, the writer missed the mark. Our job is to make you want to share the exploits. For that we need to grow our own imagination.

Reading the stories written by others, introduces us to different styles and helps us to develop our own, unique way of spinning a windy. (Telling a story) They also give you insight into what makes a story interesting, not just to yourself, but to other readers as well.

Let's not think on reading as simply a learning experience though. Reading is fun, relaxing and exhilarating! I've traveled through time into a strange future with H.G. Wells. I've ridden the western trails with men like Louis L'Amour, William Johnstone and Zane Grey, enjoying every escapade. As the reader I participated in every gun-battle, fantastic voyage and plot twist, never knowing what comes next, but wanting to turn the page and find out. I want to take my readers on adventures of their own, with the characters I create.

If you truly want to learn how to write, read some books in your genre and take some adventures for yourself. Then, you can be a better guide for your reader's treks through the stories you create.

For more information or to order your own copies of my books, go to:

Friday, July 22, 2022

My father, my inspiration.

My dad and me, 1981.

 A lot of people ask me how I got started writing and why I write what I write. I started writing when I was in the Army and discovered that I enjoyed helping people see, through words, what I saw with my eyes. Alaska, where I was stationed, has some of the most beautiful scenery known to man. From the rugged mountains and clear streams loaded with fish, there was too much to keep it to myself. I decided to show it to my family, but words were the only thing I knew how to paint a picture with. Using words, I took my family through mountain passes, across glaciers, feeding eagles, fishing for salmon in the Russian River, whale watching and watching the Northern Lights dance in the frigid Arctic night skies. 

That's where I got started, but why do I write westerns? That's another question all together. You see, my dad was my hero. He never bragged about things, but I never doubted that he was capable of doing anything he set his mind to. He was never scared to get his hands dirty, nor to help others. He raised us boys to stand on our own two feet, and that our integrity was more important than money. I remember him "rescuing" me from a lion in our dining room one night. I guess we had watched too much Tarzan that day, and that shadow sure looked like a lion sitting in the corner. Dad calmly walked out, turned on the light and showed me that there was nothing to fear. He was there, the "lion" had fled.

He liked westerns. The old ones, and we would watch them together on the weekends. He got me into reading Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey. It stuck. When I started writing, naturally, it was westerns. I think the stories I have written are something my father could be proud of. He's still my hero, and I hope to keep writing stories that would make him proud.

  I lost my dad in 2019. While I will never be able to call him for advice, laugh with him, or watch John Wayne with him again, I will have those precious memories for as long as I live.

Find out more about my books at

  Book signings! This is where the real fun begins! Book signings are great fun but be prepared to do some preparation....