Writing about Writing

Posts tagged “Canada

Getting an ISBN in Canada

Today I thought I would look back at one of the pre-publishing steps – Getting an ISBN.

Getting an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), is one of the final steps before publishing. Without one, it’s basically impossible to sell the book! For example, Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace will not publish a book without an ISBN (Createspace even gives you an option to get an ISBN directly from them).

Different countries have different processes for getting an ISBN. Being Canadian, I used The Canadian ISBN Service System (CISS), part of Library and Archives Canada.

The first thing I had to do was join CISS. Originally, I thought this would be something akin to creating an account on any website – 5 minutes and Boom, account created. Then I’d have to apply for an ISBN and wait who knows how long for that. But I was wrong.

Instead of just registering as an author, I was registering as a publisher. Then when I was done I received a notification that my account would need 5-10 business days to be validated and approved. Yikes, wasn’t expecting that!

As luck would have it, though, it took approximately 1 business day to validate my account. What? This is a branch of the government we’re talking about? I won’t lie, I thought 5-10 business days was going to be government speak for 1-2 months. So huge props to whoever is running CISS so efficiently! From that point, getting an ISBN was as easy as could be, thanks to some extra help from CISS in the form of a very detailed email.

It turns out the website is going to be overhauled in a few months, drastically streamlining the ISBN application process. This is a really good thing, because that form looked pretty complicated, and I would have had no idea what to put down for half of the questions.

Fortunately, CISS is aware of this, and sent out a helpful email letting me know I could ignore most of the questions and only needed to fill in a select few fields. I must say, I’m really happy they took the extra step to send that info out along with my registration approval because it made the ISBN registration very quick and painless.

An important note for anyone planning to release a book in both paperback and ebook – you need two ISBN’s – one for each version. This is super easy though, you just fill out a form for each one and the only difference is an ebook is “Electronic Book Text” in the Product Form drop down menu instead of “Book”.

And that’s it!  All done! The ISBN’s were generated immediately because I was already assigned an ISBN prefix when my publisher account was approved. As a result the entire process ended up taking far less time than I anticipated, was totally free, and I was able to publish earlier than I’d planned.


Remembrance Day

Nearly 10 years ago my friend James and I went travelling through Europe.  We set up a home base in Glasgow with our friend Jon in a tiny, one room apartment with a “kitchen” in a closet and barely enough floor space for us to sleep on.

From there, we were able to branch out and visit a number of beautiful places such as Edinburgh, London, Rome, Venice, and Paris.  We also didn’t bother using Planes, Trains and Automobiles as primary modes of transportation either.  We actually bought a pair of bikes at a Carrefour in Mestre (Outside Venice) and used them to get around Italy, France and England.  We put a lot of kilometers on those poor things.

We did and saw a lot of amazing things while we were in Europe, and as easy as it would be to launch into a long-winded chronicle of our journey, that’s not what I’m here to do today.  I wanted to talk about two places in particular that we visited – two places that changed the way we looked at Canada, and what it means to be Canadian.

The Vimy Memorial

The Vimy Memorial

The first is Vimy Ridge.  For those who aren’t aware, the Battle of Vimy Ridge took place in April of 1917, during the First World War.  It was the first time the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together as one unit, and their resounding victory over the Germans became a symbol of pride and accomplishment for our young nation.  That battle is considered one of the main turning points in the war.

When I arrived at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, just north of Arras, I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew the history of the battle, and I knew I wanted to see the memorial, but that was it.  I had no other expectations.

That day I learned that there is a difference between knowing what happened, and really understanding what happened.  Being there made it more real.  The ground is bent and beaten.  Massive craters litter the landscape, caused by powerful bombs that were detonated in underground tunnels. There are signs along the side of the road warning that there may still be live shells hiding in the grass, and to please stay out.  There is a network of well-preserved trenches and tunnels as well.  In one tunnel, a maple leaf is carved into a wall by an unknown soldier, reflecting the status of the maple leaf as a symbol of Canada long before the flag was changed in 1965.

Vimy Monument

Vimy Monument

Then we saw the monument.

It is beautiful, awe-inspiring, and emotional.  Everything about it is simply majestic.  The twin towers of limestone aren’t even the centerpiece of the monument;  that belongs to a solitary figure, a cloaked woman looking down upon a tomb.  She is Canada, a young nation mourning her dead.  It is enough to make you weep.

The cloaked woman, representing Canada is looking down on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The cloaked woman, representing Canada is looking down on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

After leaving Arras, we travelled to Normandy to visit the fantastic Juno Beach Centre in Courseulles-sur-Mer.  There were 5 beaches targeted during the D-Day Landings of June 6, 1944.  Sword, Juno, Gold, Utah and Omaha.  The taking of Juno Beach was tasked to the Canadian contingent and by the end of the day they were able to secure the beach and push further inland than any other Allied force.

While we were riding near Caen, a french man rode up beside us to share the story of how his family was hiding in a farmhouse during the war, and how they were rescued by Canadian troops.  “Merci,” he said.  Thank you.  

The Juno Beach Centre

The Juno Beach Centre

Me looking out over the beach when I was inspired to write a poem about Juno Beach.

Looking out over Juno Beach

That night, James and I stood on the beach, trying to imagine what it was like for those soldiers on D-Day.  What they fought through, the courage it would have taken, boggles the mind.  As I looked out over that beach, I was inspired.  An idea began to form and, with the help of James, it became a poem.   I will share it at the bottom of this post.  Dedicated to all of the Canadians who fought for us over the years.  And remember to have a moment of silence today to reflect upon their sacrifices.

In closing, I’d like to say this:  To any Canadian who travels in Europe – Do yourself a favour and visit one or both of these places.  You won’t regret it.  It will change you.


Ode to Junos Unknown

I journey through the channel’s night,

I’ve had no rest, there’s none in sight.

I instead see dawn reveal the coast,

With it, the waiting enemy host.

Fire echoes in the sky,

Then the first men fall, and lie.


Bombs rain down just as we land,

Mines throw up their gouts of sand.

I clutch my gun as I do my life,

I wish instead I could hold my wife.

But I’m climbing over the walls of hate,

Bravely climbing toward my fate…


The sand his fated blood would stain,

For all to see, the whole world’s pain.

A bruise there lay, upon the land,

In a pool of blood, by a lifeless hand.

But time, it seems is memory’s bleach,

It’s washed the sand of Juno Beach.


How can we, this debt we owe, repay,

Of vested valour; deeds done that day.

For honour spent and honour gained,

Upon his heart those memories stained.

To us, his charge we undertake,

For the past, for the future’s sake,

We remember and evermore shall teach.

For the water has since washed it clean,

It’s washed the sand of Juno Beach.

~BC, 2004