Category Archives: On writing

WFH Book for Employers and Employees: Lost Opportunity?

Short version: should I publish my “how to WFH for employers and employees” book, or has the opportunity passed me by?

Long version:

In 2001, I was on a task group for a large (50,000+ employees) employer to determine the corporate, technology, management, and cultural structure for changing thousands of office workers into work-from-home workers. This immersion in every aspect of work from home (WFH) enriched me in ways I would not understand for many years.

I became part-time WFH in 2005 and began living out the experiment on my own. The learning and planning we did a few years earlier proved to be pretty realistic, and I was able to apply those principles to my new situation.

A couple of years later, when the SARS and MERS epidemics threatened to go global, I was asked to write a pandemic response plan for my employer so that our corporate customers would have more comfort knowing we were prepared. We would be able to continue delivering services without sacrificing quality or security.

When news of COVID-19 began spreading in February 2020, I immediately recognized the signs that this could be a global pandemic and made specific preparations for my family. In addition, my employer started taking steps that were similar to the plan I made over a decade earlier.

On March 16-18, 2020, in response to the emerging pandemic, I wrote a fifty-page manuscript on working from home and adapting technology and corporate culture to make it work. Unfortunately, my employer did not permit me to publish this book, as it would undermine the advisory practice (despite my having accumulated this expertise before working for this company). As a result, my completed manuscript is still under wraps.

Recently I’ve returned to this completed manuscript and wonder today whether there would be any value in publishing it. The book treated a pandemic as a future event, so there would be changes in tense that would have to be fixed. And of course, thousands of organizations figured out on their own a lot of what my book tells readers to do.

So Long, Microsoft, And Thanks For All The Fish

Word Version 1.1a

Word Version 1.1a

I have been using Microsoft software since 1985 when I purchased Microsoft Word and Microsoft Multiplan for my new Zenith Z160 “portable” PC. I’ve used Word continuously for thirty years at home, at work, as a university instructor, and as a published author.

I wrote my first three books in FrameMaker, a superior but far more expensive word processor ($500 per user in 1998) as required by my publishers at the time. But by the early 2000’s most had moved to Word since Microsoft had sufficiently closed the feature gap.

I’m coming to realize that this weekend might be the last time I use Microsoft software – at home anyway (I use a PC running Windows 7 and Office for work).


Zenith Z160 portable computer

I ordered a new MacBook Pro yesterday, and it will arrive on Monday. The MBP comes with Apple’s versions of office programs, called Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. Next week I will try them out on my university teaching and on my current writing project. If it goes alright and I figure out all of the subtle differences, I will probably not purchase Office for the new Mac.

Part of this comes down to economics. Office for Mac costs $150 or more, and the same programs from Apple cost $20 apiece (if you don’t have a new Mac that came with them), or free with your Mac since some time in the past year or two.

I’ll post a review of Pages, Keynote, and Numbers in a month or so after I’ve been using them a while.

Still, I can’t help but feel somewhat nostalgic, as I’ve had Word with me nearly all of my adult life. But as the dolphins exclaim in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Writing more about zero-day threats

I completed a book recently (a custom pub for a private company) on advanced persistent threats, and today I’m writing another book on stopping zero-day threats using new technology that is becoming well known.

Timely stuff – I’m dealing with these topics at my day job as well. Isn’t just about everyone in the data security field?  Sure.

I have published about 34 books in 15 years. After that many books I have a pretty good system for organizing my writing, and my approach to writing a book.  Today I’m diverging from one of those habits.

I usually write the introduction last, after I’ve written the rest of the book. Today I’m writing the introduction first. Today apparently I’m thinking top-down instead of bottom-up. There are any number of reasons for this, and I’m not going to try and figure it out.  Once the words start coming out, I’m not going to examine the reason for it – instead I’m just going to let my fingers do the typing and be grateful I’m not in a fit of writer’s block – the creativity drought that new writers fear, and experienced writers are familiar with.

Well, back to work.  The words are still coming.  This book should be out in about 4-6 weeks.

LinkedIn group for Dummies book authors

There is now a LinkedIn group for authors of the popular For Dummies® book series.

You must be a published author of at least one For Dummies book. All applications will be verified.

Last lap

I am writing a 520 page academic textbook on business and data security. While I know the subject matter well, laying it out in an academic, teaching context is something I haven’t done in a while.

Of the ten core chapters in the book, I have completed nine of them. I have spent nights, weekends, and days off writing from dawn to dusk and into the night.  I began the last chapter yesterday, even while I put the finishing touches on the preceding chapter. I can see the end from here – it’s a foretaste of the accomplishment of writing an important work that will help many others in their search for knowledge.

Calling all For Dummies authors: NYC Conf Summer 2008

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Dummies Guy

[This article is about an event that occurred in the past.]

To all authors of For Dummies books: we are organizing a weekend conference to take place in New York City some time in the Summer of 2008. If you are a For Dummies author or know one, please contact me by filling in the information below.

All communication will be shared only with conference organizers.

Books that I did not write

Searches on and other online book retailers show other books by “Peter Gregory” – but I did not write these.

Japanese MaplesJapanese Maples

Timber Press Pocket Guide to Japanese Maples

Transitions of Meditation in Chinese Buddhism

Religion and Society in T’Ang and Sung China

Buddhism in the Sung

Plant Roots: Growth, Function and Interactions with the Soil

Inquiry into the Origin of HumanityInquiry Into the Origin of Humanity: An Annotated Translation of Tsung-Mi’s Yuan Jen Lun with a Modern Commentary

The Allman Brothers (Classic Rock Legends)

Court Reporting in Australia

Fall to Glory: Theological Reflections on Milton’s Epics

Industrial Wages in Chile

Let’s Look at Trucks

Noah and the Tubes

Soils in the Urban Environment

New book started

This weekend I have started another book. I took a two month writing break. I’ve been writing almost continuously since 1998, and a break is needed now and then.

I’m really excited about this project, as this is work with a new publisher, and a new type of work for me. The book – and related instructor materials – will be used in universities, community colleges, and vocational-technical schools.

I can’t talk about the book in any detail yet. I can say that it will be published in late 2008 and be available for Winter and Spring quarters in 2009.

Book weightsLike many manuscripts, it’s starting out slow.  I laid out all of my chapter files with their respective TOCs, set up my chapter status and image worksheets, and gathered my reference materials.   Some of my references exceed 1,000 pages and I’m finding that I am in need of some leather bookweights.  Right now I’m using my tape dispenser and stapler – poor substitutes indeed.

Two new books in the pipeline

I’ve published eighteen books since 1999, or about two per year. Within the past few weeks, two new projects are in the pipeline:

  • A book on biometrics (~320 pp)
  • A security text book for community colleges and vocational / technical schools (~500 pp)

At least one of these books is with a publisher that I have not worked with before. I’m pretty excited about that. The biometrics book is going to be a lot of fun to write as well.

I’m writing one of these books on my own; I’ve brought in a professional colleague and friend to co-author the other.

2008 is going to be a busy but productive year. I’ll write more about these titles when they have been made public. After these two are done, I’ll have written and published twenty books. Ten years ago I would have never believed it.

The *real* cause of writer’s block

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And here I thought it was because I was having trouble figuring out the structure of a new chapter.Writers block


the trouble with pronouns

The trouble with pronouns is that they have no absolute frame of reference.

insight gained while working on the copy edits for an upcoming book, as well as in everyday human conversation

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Somtimes starting a new writing project…

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…is like trying to light wet wood. I’m looking over my notes, writing a word here, completing a sentence there.

Tonight I’m starting a new book on a hard-to-define topic – on communications for medium sized businesses. I’ve had good conversations with my customer, and I understand the dilemma that their readers are in (and don’t even know it). It’s difficult to write to an audience who has an identity problem, particularly when they don’t know it. And I’m trying to define it for them so that they will have the “ah ha!” that I want them to have when they read the words.

Other books have started out this way. I’m sure that I’ll be writing as fast as I can type. Will it be tonight?

Are you an aspiring writer?

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Now a Waterside author

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WatersideAs of early December I have become a Waterside author. To any skilled tech writer / author I highly recommend Waterside Productions; they are a professional organization with the experience necessary to find suitable work for authors and skillfully negotiate their contracts.