Reading Recommendations Celebrates 2 Years of Promoting Authors and Their Books!


There’s a party going on over at my other blog, Reading Recommendatins!

Originally posted on Reading Recommendations:


I’m so thrilled to be able to share this celebration of Reading Recommendations’ 2nd Anniversary with so many of the authors and friends who have made the blog what it is today! Since Nov. 18, 2013, I have been promoting Authors on this blog – more than 250 of you!! – to a readership that is worldwide in scope. What began as a way of getting the word out about a few of us has blossomed into an effective means of increasing awareness of books, authors, reading and writing far beyond what I ever believed to be possible! Thank you to everyone – subscribers, readers, authors, publishers, editors – all of you who have read and/or contributed to this blog in one way or another. Please continue to share the information you find here so that other readers may discover Authors and their Books – Great Reading…

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Reading Recommendations 2nd Anniversary Congratulations From Two Readers!

Violet Gaspe and Cheryl Schenk are two of the reasons Reading Recommendations still exists after two years of operation. It’s because of dedicated READERS like these women that I continue to promote and recommend books and their authors. They not only subscribe to the blog, but read the posts and find many of their next-great-reads on the site – and they pay attention when I recommend a book, even those by authors I’m not actually promoting on the site! Plus they talk about the books and authors they discover on RR with their friends and other readers. This site would not be what it is today without READERS like Violet and Cheryl who actually read and enjoy the books I promote there. Here they are to tell you what the site means to them …


From Violet Gaspe …
Congratulations Reading Recommendations Year Two!

This milestone is achieved through the dedicated effort of my old friend Sue. I have known Sue for over thirty years; back to the days when she held home parties to promote books and writers. Sue now has a much broader audience through social media. She has introduced me to so many writers. Who would I begin to name? Who will I forget to mention? So, I decided to name the last six fiction writers I have read or am presently reading.

Tim Baker, Seumas Gallacher, Kent Haruf, Sue Monk Kidd, J.P. McLean and Diana Stevan (who was recommended by J.P. McLean). Some of the writers had me in tears (Haruf), some had me waking at dawn to continue the adventure (Stevan). I lost sleep trying to figure out what happens next (Baker, Gallacher, J.P. McLean). And there were books I didn’t want to end because I loved the story so much (Sue Monk Kidd). Writers unite, promote each other and continue letting readers such as myself discover your creativity.

Titles: The Gift: Penance; Ours Souls at Night; A Cry From the Deep; Secret Life of Bees; Eyewitness Blues; The Violin’s Man’s Legacy.

From Cheryl Shenck …
Congratulations Reading Recommendations on this, your 2nd Anniversary

Every writer needs a friend, someone that understands, promotes and enlightens. Someone that isn’t family and doesn’t necessarily LOVE everything we do, but will offer fair and creative criticism.

Susan Toy is that friend, and her creation of Reading Recommendations is invaluable to writers and readers alike. She is not only a kind-hearted soul, she is also a wealth of information and a continuously strong supporter of authors, both established and up and coming.

I was fortunate to meet Susan at a writers’ conference several years ago and from that time I have followed her on Facebook and Twitter, and I have since become addicted to her Reading Recommendations. Through her blogs I have been turned on to authors I feel privileged to have read and to books I am proud to promote as well.

I hope to follow these recommendations for a long time to come and maybe one day, if the Writing Gods are kind, will find myself featured as one of her authors.

The following are a few of my favourite writers (all of whom have been promoted through Reading Recommendations) and the books that got me started. If you haven’t read them, check them out. I think you’ll be pleasantly impressed with what you find.

Susan M ToyIsland in the Clouds (it had to be said)
Betty Jane HegeratThe Boy
Kevin BrennanYesterday Road
Tim BakerLiving The Dream
Seumas GallacherSavage Payback
Chris TuckerLost Voyage
L G PomerleauBecoming Sand

Again, congratulations, Susan. I am happy to call you “friend”.

Cheryl Schenk can be contacted on Twitter @cherylschenk

Thank you to Violet and Cheryl! It’s READERS like you who are the reason we WRITE!

If you have discovered a new-to-you author through Reading Recommendations who then became a personal favourite, please share their name below in the comments section. I’d love to hear from READERS who have found this site to be helpful in recommending new reading selections. After all, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Spreading the word about Great Authors and their books!

Thank you Susan Toy from Felicity Harley, fellow Bequian

787I haven’t actually “met” Felicity Harley in person yet, although we’ve shared the island of Bequia for many years now. I knew of Felicity locally through her philanthropy in conceiving of a couple of successful organizations that help the local people of the island help themselves. Then I discovered she was also a published author, so I invited her to promote her books on Reading Recommendations. And she has been a staunch supporter of me, of my writing, and the blog ever since! We try to keep in more regular contact now, especially whenever I’m on-island, so I can apprise her of all the local “news” … I’m happy to say we will finally have a chance to meet in person this winter when Felicity returns to Bequia for a visit. And we’re already discussing ideas of holding a writing retreat/readers’ con/some-such-gathering-involving-words on the island! More on that later, though. Here’s what Felicity wrote to celebrate Reading Recommendations 2nd Anniversry!

I’ve been thinking about how entertaining it was reading your book, Island in the Clouds, that takes place on Bequia. It was really fun to guess who your characters were! Thank you so much for your support of my writing, it has really meant a lot to me.

It’s wonderful to share such a beautiful place with a fellow writer, and so I send a few poems about one of my favorite places in the world and dedicated to our joint love of Bequia, sweet oh so sweet!

For a dear friend and neighbour, Lou Keane, who died this year

Wild Frangipani

We met on the plane
coming over to Bequia
she’d been all the way to China
to see the terra-cota statues
and the Great Wall.
Now she’s coming back
to this nowhere place in the
middle of the Atlantic Ocean,
glad to be home
to smell the wild frangipanis
in summer.


The feel of the heat under my feet
the sky like the underside of a shadow
the wind moving the sea-grape leaves
the spume of the ocean pushing up towards the rocks
the smiling boys I’ve known all their lives
diving into the surf like sharp arrows
coming up for breath, human flotsam
no separation between them and the white
and black of the ocean
that stretches as far as eternity.

A tree bent like an old women
held up against the wind
on a city street corner.
Silence and the wash of it
lonely and warm,
as I clasp my knees,
salt hair sticking against my lips,
knowing that I will always
remember the sound and smell of it.

2013-01-18 06 45 53tropical thirst quencher

Thank God for the rain
when it comes it pounds
the ground with heartbeats,
relieving the dry earth
till it runs rivers of soft, brown leaves
and dirt down the gullies
that breath a hot moist smell
that grows fecund
in the mid-afternoon
and the plants and trees
moan with delight
as it passes its silver blades
flashing across their green swell.
Flowers open to drink
its moisture
and then it is gone
leaving the birds to sing joyfully
in the calm transparent afterlight.

559washday at cora’s

Plastic tablecloth with poppies,
a whitewashed outdoor kitchen,
and a washing machine
that looks like it came from the sixties.
Water is scarce here,
so we dump the laundry
out after one cycle
and rinse it in a big steel tub
then in large white, plastic buckets
before we wring it and hang it on the line
at the back of the house.

She squeezes me orange juice
hot from the morning sun that has fallen
on the fruit’s skin as it brushes the walls of her kitchen.
A quick twist of her strong hands
and the glass is full of sweet
yellow juice.
We sit in front of the house
with a view of boats far below in the harbor,
under a paw paw tree with maybe
twenty huge green fruit
that look like footballs of different shapes and sizes.

We chat of children and grandchildren.
Its far from my life at home
in front of a computer
inside my office all day,
doing laundry
when I come home, late at night.

From Seumas Gallacher, on celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of Reading Recommendations!

I didn’t expect anything less than brilliance when Seumas Gallacher offered to “pen a few lines” in celebration of the 2nd Anniversary for my other author-promotion blog, Reading Recommendations! Thank you, Seumas, for making us cry with laughter when I read the following “poem” aloud to Dennis while we sat on our Bequia verandah drinking coffee this morning.

You are THAT MAN! Luvs yah! Mwahhhhhh!!!

(And for those who enjoy the spoken word, Seumas has also created this video in which he recites the poem in his wonderful Glaswegian accent!)

10981954_530323157109068_6778652506494669531_n The Lady We All Know As Sue (with apologies to Robert W. Service)

A bunch of the boys were reading it up
In the Bequia book saloon,
The kid that handles the ol’ sales till
Was selling like a mad baboon.
Back of the store, with a Kindle Fire
Sat the lady that’s known as Sue.

When out of the night, which was thirty y’know,
And into the books stacked ceiling to floor
There stumbled a writer fresh from his Mac,
Dog-eared and looking for more.

He looked like a tramp with hardly a dime
And scarcely the price of a cup
Yet, he glanced at one novel, and reached out his hand
And gingerly he picked it up.
There was none could place the stranger’s face
With bookmarks hanging out of his shoe,
But we cleared him some space, and the last to clear
Was the lady known as Sue.

There are scribblers that somehow hold your gaze,
And grip so hard you can tell
That here was a lad, from wherever he came,
Had been to the Libr’y of Hell;
With kind of a squint, and the stare of a monk,
Whose hands had typed far too much
As he read through the book in a wee ingle-nook,
And his face would twitch just a touch.

Then I got wond’ring just who he might be,
And even what he might do,
And I turned my head—and there looking at him
Was the lady that’s known as Sue.

His eyes kept coming back to the tome.
The one he held in his mitt,
Till at last the dust on the fly-cover leaf
Cleared for all to decipher it.
And he started to read, the lines and the scan
Like nobody else could have done
With a drawl and a twang, my God, these words sang
In a voice that wavered and honed.

Were you ever listed in the Great Amazon
At the mercy of the wolves called ‘reviews’?
And you waited daily for word of your sales
Or heard it on Smashwords’ list news?
With only the hope of a turning of phrase
That delighted you first time you wrote?
–A half-dead zombie could breathe more than you,
When the two-star reviewer clawed at your throat.
That, my boys, that was the look
Flirting across this forlorn guy’s face
An author of sorts, respected by some,
Still searching for a bestseller place.

Then all of a sudden, that poor scribbler turned,
The eyes darting forth from the boy,
And his stare stopped dead in its tracks
At the lady we all know as ‘Toy’.
He held out his hand and offered the book,
With a whimper that came from the heart;
‘Please,’ he croaked, ‘a review from you,
Will give me that much-needed start.’

The room fell more quiet, and we all held our breath
Waiting to see what she’d say.
She skimmed through his book, for indeed it was his,
And observed him in a strange kind of way.
Then a smile crossed her face, and she nodded at him,
With the wisdom of someone who knew,
And the tears on his face retreated apace,
And smiled back at the lady called Sue.

‘Of course, I’ll give it a read, that man, said she,
And I’ll see about some commendations
And sooner or later, we all understood,
It’ll be on Recommendations.

So, lift a glass, or two, three or more,
For these coupla years now gone through,
And acknowledge the love and assistance we’ve had,
From the Lady we all know as Sue.

Seumas Gallacher
November 2015


Is that a kitten in your sporran or are you just happy to see me?

Teaching Literacy on Bequia


When Carin Makuz first announced her idea for The Litter I See Project and asked authors to contribute a written piece to be published on the blog, I was in! Anything bringing attention to the problem of litter was important to me. But the combined issues of litter/literacy was a perfect play-on-words (Litter-I-See) that made this project irresistible. I wrote to Carin immediately to ask for a photo of a piece of litter.

The other aspect of this project that attracted my attention is that it was launched to help raise funds, as well as awareness, for Frontier College in Toronto, a literacy organization founded in 1899 that began by sending teachers to far-flung work places, like the railways and mines and even into lumber camps in the bush, to work by day and teach the other workers to read and write in English at night. Maintenant en français aussi.

“Did you know I taught literacy on Bequia under the auspices of Frontier College?” I asked Carin during our correspondence.

“I certainly did NOT know that! I’d like to hear the story sometime,” she replied.

So, to go along with my piece that’s being posted on the blog today, here’s the first part of my Teaching Literacy on Bequia story for Carin and all her readers …

I stopped in my tracks when I heard the statistic broadcast on the radio that more than 40% of the people living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are illiterate. “How could that be possible?” I wondered. Having been born in a place and at a time when education and reading were valued and encouraged by our parents and society in general, then working all my career in the book business, I had never known people who couldn’t read. (Wouldn’t read, yes, but that’s another problem altogether.) Books and reading have been my life and I wanted to share this love and my knowledge with others. My thought then was that if every one who could read taught every one who couldn’t, we would wipe out illiteracy, at least in SVG, in no time! Yeah, I know. A bit optimistic on my part, but I have always tried to look on the bright side.

My problem was, however, how to get started. I had met at least one man, a gardener working for Dennis, who had expressed an interest in learning to read. So I put out an email-call for help and received a reply from author-pal, Linda Granfield (who has been featured on my blog Reading Recommendations), that I would be wise to contact Frontier College. I did just that, and began a correspondence with one of the women there. She advised me on how to begin, but I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to developing methods and resource materials. These were pre-eBook days (1998) and it was much too expensive to purchase and ship learning and reading materials to the Caribbean. So I used the same method I’d employed when teaching myself how to use a computer – the by-gosh-and-by-golly method.

What I did discover though was that learners want to tell their own stories (as do we all!) and read about other learners and how they live their lives. So I asked the six men I was teaching to write about themselves and we shared those stories around, as well as keeping in contact with Frontier College and reading what their students were writing.

I stopped teaching on Bequia (for a number of reasons) in 2002, and I had largely forgotten about this time on the island until Carin asked me to contribute to her project. The memories suddenly came flooding back and, when Carin sent me my piece of “litter” to write about, I was inspired to create a short story from the POV of an illiterate Caribbean woman living illegally in Canada. I felt I had enough experience dealing with the men I taught on Bequia to understand how a person might think about their inability to read and write, and how they would feel when taken away from a world where they could live quite comfortably without being literate.

It was coincidental when Carin wrote to say my piece was scheduled for publication soon that I happened to be sorting through books and papers stored in a Calgary locker. I discovered two copies of a booklet Frontier College had published when I was still teaching to which I had submitted stories written by four of my adult students. So I wrote to Carin to say, “Stop the presses!” because I had found a surprise and would pop one of the copies into the mail to her. I contacted Frontier College and asked their permission to create a PDF of the booklet, Reflections From the Inside: A Collection of Student Writing, and they were not only intrigued by my discovery of this long-lost publication but thrilled that I was planning on making it available to Carin’s and my readers. So here you go!

Frontier College Reflections From the Inside

Please do read through all of these stories. You will find many are uplifting, some are heartbreaking, but all are illuminating. To those reading this blog post, I doubt any has ever had to struggle with illiteracy during your lifetime. You may never have known anyone either who is illiterate. (And people can be illiterate for so very many reasons other than just the circumstance of where they were born.) What I discovered while teaching on Bequia is that people who are illiterate do often manage to hide it well, because there is still such a stigma attached to not being able to read. The men who came to me to learn were afraid their secret would get out, so I met with them individually at my house. And it was interesting to me that not one women ever asked to be taught. That spoke volumes in itself about this Caribbean culture I’d chosen to live within.

I had mixed success with my efforts, and I often felt after all was said and done that I learned much more from my students than I ever taught any of them. I’m grateful to have had the experience, and thankful for the help I received from Frontier College and the encouragement they offered my students by publishing their very own stories in book-form. As I said at the time to Glenford, “Hey! Your writing is being published before mine!” They were all quite chuffed about seeing their writing and names in print! That went a long way to make them want to continue learning. And I was certainly proud of having been part of their process towards learning how to read and write.

Frontier College continues to do excellent work! Please consider clicking on the button provided on The Litter I See Project site and donating to help them keep doing what they do in encouraging literacy.

(I’ll be writing a Part 2 to this story of Teaching Literacy on Bequia with specifics as to who I taught and how lessons were conducted. I still have files of everything we did stored away on one of these many memory sticks in my bag of tricks.)

Four Freedom Publishing

Hubert O’Hearn, previously featured on Reading Recommendations, has launched a new publishing company. Here he is to tell us the story behind the inspiration for, and how he’s set up, Four Freedom Publishing.

Readers and Authors rejoice!


Write the Silence/Right the Wrong:
The Four Freedom Publishing Story

by Hubert O’Hearn


It was just as the sun was setting on the second of three days with no electricity, no internet and no food when I realized that life was presenting me with two options: die or launch a publishing company. And here you thought a Harvard MBA was tough?

Journal Entry One:
October 19/2015

The business of writing is hard enough when you can see what you’re doing, but this? The power is off because I have no money and Electric Ireland’s system of taking payments by credit card is disabled. Of course I sent them an emergency email with the dying breaths of my laptop battery but … no response. It’s someone else’s problem and not theirs; it is mine.

I had moved to Ireland from Canada at the end of 2012 in order to live two experiences. I wanted to live in the country I had fallen in love with when I was ten years old and I was going to do it as a writer. There had been just enough writing success in Canada to convince me that if I truly dedicated myself to just that, I could do it: twelve years as a newspaper columnist, six produced plays, several publications running my book reviews, and a decent CV of speech-writing and other This Gun for Hire work.

It’s funny now when I look back at how I arrived nearly three years ago. My bank account was fat, the first house rented was huge, there was even a Jaguar parked in my driveway. Then, a whole lot of circumstances went wrong, more than need describing here. Suffice it to say that by the time my dog Stella and I had, to use the polite term, simplified our lifestyle by moving into a low rent yet comfy duplex cottage in County Mayo I had learned that one really can live without most of what you might think of as ‘necessities.’ Yes, I had become poor and yet, I was (and am) having the time of my life.

I’m no good at reciting poetry from memory – not even my own work – however I do have a deep fondness for T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men, particularly this section:

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

That was where I lived, in the Shadow. I knew who I had been and I equally knew who I wanted to be, yet I was no longer there and was not yet there. I was where I was – taking any writing assignment I could get. There were web content articles, editing books and articles, reviews, interviews, ghostwriting, advertising, receiving a contract to publish a book of poetry (yay!) and watching its sales fail (boo!), coaching writers, teaching, even entering contests provided there was no entry fee. And my ego told me: You’re a goddam great writer and your day will come!

Journal Entry Two:

This is one of those really special moments in a man’s life when he sits back and thinks, “You know, maybe somewhere along the line I might have made a mistake or two.”

Yeah well, could be. On the other hand, if I’d had it to do all over again I’d probably have just done it all again. Maybe take more pictures next time, and more detailed notes for when life brought me right here again.

A Brief Philosophical Statement

The single smartest piece of advice I have ever been told came from my beautiful friend Lydia Cornell (yes that Lydia Cornell). Lydia and I have been ‘sore arm buddies’ for years now, picking one another’s spirits up during various crises. So Lydia one day either said to me or wrote to me the following:

There aren’t good things or bad things that happen to us. There are just things. Whether they turn out to be good or bad depends on what we do with them, how we choose to see them.

Remember that one the next time you feel that ev’ryone’s agin’ me. When something happens that adversely affects your plans, consider that it occurred as an outcome of your life. Perhaps instead of viewing that seemingly nasty episode as some sort of punishment, view it instead as a message for change.

Amen and onwards.

The True Origin of Four Freedom Publishing

Four Freedom Publishing really began as an outcome of a ghostwriting project I was hired to create. Please forgive me for not supplying all the details, however revealing a client’s name or the book title truly goes against the ghostwriter’s creed.

In any event, I was hired by a client to write, format and publish a book on sports. Great fun! I have often said that in my heart of hearts I am a sportswriter; indeed one of my favourite assignments of all-time was when I was a regular columnist covering TNA wrestling for

I wrote the book and went to CreateSpace to put it together. While filling in all the various fields I came to the one labeled Publisher. Years of reviewing books had taught me that any book that listed CreateSpace as its publisher was, odds on, likely to be a piece of hastily and badly written crap. (There have been exceptions. Off the top of my head, out of some hundred or so that I have been assigned I can think of … two.) Therefore, on the spur of the moment I decided to do my client a favour and invent a third party publisher.

Since moving to Ireland I had been working steadily on a collected series of essays titled For Freedom: A Human Rights Reader 1948-2015. I’m getting slightly ahead of myself, but you can find it on Amazon and I’d be frankly delighted if you did as it is a very, very good book. The publisher who had agreed to release For Freedom was in financial difficulty, so there were delays involved there which culminated in the manuscript returning to my hands. As such, it was in the back of my head to release it on my own. At a certain point, you just want to be free of the bloody thing. (If you are a writer yourself, you’ll understand. If you’re not a writer, imagine the manuscript as your child trapped in permanent, noisy adolescence leaving you longing for the day when the little arsehole moves out of the house.)

I decided to kill two birds with one stone and so typed in that the sports book was published by Four Freedom Publishing: Ireland – US – Canada. I drew up a logo, slapped it on the back cover, and so it was that Four Freedom was born, or at least achieved fetal status.

Journal Entry Three:
October 25/2015 9:30AM

Slept quite well actually and incredible dreams. A poem even, completely written:

I whispered all my secrets
Into lovers’ ears before
Can they even be called secrets
Or chocolate mints for paramours?
As each one left my pillows
Crumpled wrappers on the floor
She then became a secret
To tell the next one I adored.
I never meant to be this way
Unless of course I did
But that’s the real secret
The one I still keep hid.

Not bad. More importantly, I know what I want Four Freedom to be, what I want it to do. If I’m going to spend this much time staving off death with single sliced white bread sandwiches smeared with scrapings of jam, if I survive, I will make someone’s dreams live.

Yes, I do get a bit vain-glorious at times, but then again so did all my heroes in the writing trade and not just the authors themselves. You think Maxwell Perkins didn’t know he was damn good and knew what was best for his writers? Or Harold Ross when he assembled the Murderer’s Row of brilliance that was the original The New Yorker? Or Richard Seaver, searching obscure little book shops and small printers in Paris over weeks and months, as he described in his posthumous memoir The Tender Hour of Twilight looking for this little-known expat Irishman named Samuel Beckett because – he! – Dick Seaver! – was the one who could bring Beckett to the world’s attention. Do editors and publishers have big egos? Darling, they can’t get big enough.

The Lights Come On, The House is Launched

As you can tell, given that I’m not quite dead, the lights did eventually come back on and all the ideas and notes I made of them over those days and nights of dark and furious journaling have been put into action. There were four key decisions I had made:

1) If Four Free Freedom Publishing was truly to be worthwhile for me to focus the remaining half of my life on, it must make a positive impact on the world. Therefore, all its works in whatever category must touch on the advancement of Human Rights in brave, daring and entertaining forms. Our motto will be taken from a line written by Jacques Derrida:

What cannot be said above all must not be silenced but written.

2) We will publish in four categories: Non-Fiction, Fiction (both short and long), Poetry & Children’s, and Drama or Screenplay
3) There will be 16 titles per calendar year, so that each can achieve proper attention.
4) Marketing will be achieved by setting out an investment opportunity with a 22% annualized return, and also by offering free books to anyone willing to share our releases on social media. The world is Four Freedom Publishing‘s marketing team.

And now …

And now we have a website.
We have an email address: fourfreedompublishing (at) .

Most importantly we have writers and editors and proofreaders. The books we have in the works include two one act plays in one volume, a poetry collection by an exciting new Canadian writer, two children’s books by an author from Northern Ireland, and just in its genesis a book about healing the soul from the traumas of everyday life as that too is a Human Rights issue.

As well, there is one series that I suppose is not actually Human Rights based. We are releasing a series of books with the prefix The Friendly World of … Those are gently humorous, yet content-filled books about various dog breeds. I suspect they will pay for the rest.

As For You?

Come and join us. You’ll find all the details on the Four Freedom Publishing website vis a vis submissions, or marketing, or even investing in us. This is all a glorious adventure and one I will do my damndest to push forward in a quest to make this world just a little bit better than how I found it. So I shall end this with the closing lines of a poem I actually do remember, Tennyson’s Ulysses. I say to you:

Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Be seeing you.

Thank you, Hubert, and I wish you the best of luck with your new publishing venture!

Before you click “Send”, think again …

On April 7, 2011, I posted I’m negative on negativity to this blog.

That post came to mind this morning when I received a negative comment on a positive status update I had posted. Why, I wondered, are there still so many people out there who feel the need to rain on everyone else’s parade? Are their lives so miserable and negative that they must bring people like me down to their level? It’s not just me who receives these comments, though, but others who also choose to post positive thoughts. I see negative comments all the time.

Plus I just lived through a very negative Canadian election (not unlike the one I describe in that post from 2011) during which I wanted to scream out, “Instead of telling us who you plan to vote OUT of office, please tell us the positive reasons why those you’re voting for will be better for this country!!”

And now I’m back on Bequia again and am in an “election” situation much like the one I just left in Canada. (Election is in quotation marks, because the prime minister is dithering about officially setting the date, hoping for the most strategic date that will be beneficial for him. He’s running out of time. But the mud has been slung in this country for ages and all the negativity surrounding politics and politicians is unlikely to change … ever.)

So I am truly sick and tired of negative comments and negative people in general. From now on, I will delete any comments made on my Facebook status updates, and I will unfriend those who continue to be so negative on my wall and in their status updates. (I’m not talking about those who share important information about injustices and atrocities in the world, but rather the people who will always choose negative over positive to discussions without adding any glimmer of hope as to how things might be improved or problems solved.)

Life is too short to take time to read and respond to those negative ninnies who will always live under a rain cloud that darkens their outlook on life. Much like the character, Joe Btfsplk, in Al Capp’s comic strip, Li’l Abner. “He is well-meaning, but is the world’s worst jinx, bringing disastrous misfortune to everyone around him.” (Wikipedia)

Fair Use of an excerpt from March 20, 1947 Li'l Abner strip. Although this is still under copyright, inclusion here qualifies for Fair Use under US Copyright law.

Fair Use of an excerpt from March 20, 1947 Li’l Abner strip. Although this is still under copyright, inclusion here qualifies for Fair Use under US Copyright law.

I’d rather be a Pollyanna any day!

Please do think before you click “Send” and, if you realize what you’re about to post is something that will not add to the conversation but may even be considered simply negative or hurtful – even mean-spirited – to the original poster, just hit “Delete” instead. Sometimes the world does not need to know every thought you harbour, let alone those thoughts that are purely negative without any attempt to offer a positive solution.

Twelve Steps To Publish Your Book


Thank you to J.F Kaufmann for this blog post following up on the Calgary Public Library talk of Oct. 6th. Kaufmann has been featured on my other blog, Reading Recommendations.

Originally posted on J. F. Kaufmann:

When I first met Susan Toy, almost four years ago, I had already written my first book and had it edited.

The hard part was done, I thought, eager to see it published.

Susan said to me that day, “Be patient. Don’t publish your book before it’s ready.”

 “Is my book ready?” I asked myself when we parted.DSCN0003

No, I realized, it wasn’t, so I kept working on it. I rewrote entire chapters and shortened or expanded others.  I decided to split my book into two volumes. I made significant structural changes, and I even added two new characters. One of them would become the hero of my next book.

I published my Red Cliffs Chronicles when they were truly ready – almost three years after my conversation with Susan.

“Be patient” turned out to be the best piece of advice about self-publishing I ever received.

 On October 6th, at the Calgary Public Library, Susan presented her 

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Books on Book Marketing for Indie Authors

Thanks to Nicholas C. Rossis for reposting my reading list and adding more to it!

3. Learn something about how the entire publishing and bookselling business works


I’ve said it before, in the Talk I gave at the Calgary Public Library, and I’ll keep repeating myself until writers and authors begin to listen: To successfully publish a book, whether it’s self-published or traditionally published, you all MUST learn something about how the entire publishing and bookselling business works!

You do not need to actually work within that side of the business … although that would help you immensely. But you do need to understand everything that happens to get the book that’s in your head into the hands of a reader. You need to know how traditional publishers make decisions of what they will publish, and why; all the steps necessary that they go through in order to produce a great book; how that great book is then sold to distributors (there are different distributors, depending upon the type of book you’ve written and the market you expect to sell to) and booksellers (both bricks and mortar and online, both indie and chain); how the promotion and marketing and publicity are handled and how effective (or not) it is, and how readers actually find you and that great book you’ve written and are now trying to sell.

All the same above also goes for eBooks. That should go without saying, because when I say “books” I mean both print and eBooks. They are all one and the same, just a different format.

Plus, you need to know and understand how books are sold to libraries. It’s quite different from selling to bookstores. And understand where libraries can fit into your promotion of yourself as an author. (Currently, eBooks and libraries are a contentious issue, because publishers have decided to treat their sale to libraries as though they were the same as print books. Please read this excellent Op/Ed piece in the Haliburton Echo written by Jenn Watt that best explains the problem. eBooks also need to be “distributed” to libraries with Digital Rights Management embedded and that is done for them through an eBook wholesaler. Overdrive lists all my eBooks and is responsible for telling librarians which books are available in their system [although, I’m not really sure how much “telling” is actually going on]. I haven’t sold many eBooks to libraries, but I have always held the belief that library sales are not meant to be revenue generators so much as a means of finding new readers. That can be the subject of another blog post, however.)

So please do yourselves and your books a big favour and LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS before heading out to publish your own book. And, most especially, before complaining about lack of sales of that book or lack of return on the investment you’ve made in writing and publishing (self or traditional) that book. You may actually discover ways that will enable you to step into the process in a more effective way that helps you to find new readers.



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