Kind words from Philmouse … and a giveaway!

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Blogger, Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, has been a great support to me and of my writing since we first “met” through another blog. (I think we began by discussing the problems surrounding the virus Chikungunya that I had contracted, and the conversation continued to cover eradicating mosquitoes, travel in the Caribbean, and my first novel.) Philmouse, as I now call this blogger, wrote an extremely complimentary review of Island in the Clouds, and was kind enough to read an advance copy of my new novel, One Woman’s Island, and provide me with an excellent review.

So excellent, in fact, that I pulled a blurb-worthy extract from that and am using it now in my advertising and promotion materials for both novels published so far in the Bequia Perspectives series.

Philmouse also recently posted to her blog and wrote about both books in an extremely flattering way. (Link below.)

Instead of just reblogging this post on my own blog, I thought it fitting to give you this little bit of background, above, and offer a giveaway of the eBook version of my new novel to celebrate Philmouse’s kind words!

We’ve decided to make you work a bit before you may enter. The winner’s name will be drawn from all correct replies we receive here on this blog. In order to enter, answer the following 2-part question correctly (Both parts must be correct!)

What is Philmouse’s actual first name and which city does he/she live close to?

The astute will read the clues I’ve placed in this blog post and should be able to discover the correct answers in at least one of the attached files. Good luck!

Here’s the beginning of Philmouse’s post:

Wind in her hair. Departing wishes

Chilling north wind whips her hair. She stands for it. Faces it head on. Can’t rip the genetic memories out of her.

Those dreams took root generations ago – in the warm Caribbean trade winds far far away. As an immigrant, she has done her best to “grow where you are planted”, but suburban life leaves her cold and longing. Her paradise lost.

“Do humans ever feel this?” she wonders. “Probably not.”

And again she tossed her fronds high – reaching for all the stories the wind was bringing from home.

Continue reading here …

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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: a memoir, a history
by Lewis Buzbee
Published by Graywolf Press
Where to Purchase
(oh, so much more than just a list of links!)

This also is so much more than just a review or a recommendation of a book and why I am posting about it here on my main blog first before reblogging on Reading Recommendations. If you are an author or have worked in any aspect of the book business, you will want to read this book for a better understanding of how books have generally been sold (both to bookstores and through them) over past decades. It will also give you a concise history of the book trade in general – something I’ve railed on about for years! If you want to write and publish a book and then sell copies to readers, you need to know something about the business in order to be successful.

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

Recommended Books on the Publishing Business and Book Sales
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson (Hyperion, 2008)
The Perilous Trade: Book Publishing in Canada 1946-2006 by Roy MacSkimming (McClelland & Stewart, 2007)
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History by Lewis Buzbee (Graywolf Press, 2006)

These reasons alone should be enough to read Lewis Buzbee’s book.
But, in case you need more …

Those of you who have read my bio know that before I began writing and publishing my own books, I spent my entire working life in and around selling books written by other authors and published by traditional publishers. I was a bookseller in Calgary (and even ran my own mail order book business for the few years I lived in Elkford, BC). Then I became a publishers’ sales rep for an agency that sold books for more than 30 Canadian-based publishers. Some of those publishers in turn were agents for US and UK-based publishers. That was from 1989-1994 and my territory was Southern Alberta and Southern Saskatchewan. I left that job to move to the Caribbean. In 2008, I was asked to come back and cover the territory of Alberta for the same agency. Among the books left in storage when I took over this job was Lewis’s. (It had been published in 2006 by Graywolf Press, St. Paul, MN, which was distributed at that time by Vancouver-based Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.) I kept the copy, mainly because it’s a beautiful paperback edition with an attractive cover, the US publisher had always published excellent literature, and the topic – a memoir about the book trade and books – was something that was of immense interest to me. I set the book aside and didn’t get around to actually reading it until after I’d quit my job as a sales rep, for the second time. I was still in the book business, but by that time I worked directly with other authors, concentrating on promoting rather than selling their books.

This book was a personal read for me, because as it turned out, Lewis’s experiences, both as a bookseller and as a sales rep, corresponded and intersected with my own. Lewis never mentions the publisher he represented, but at one point in the book he describes a “heated discussion” he’d had with a bookseller about a particular children’s book – and I realized I had also sold that same book for that particular publisher … and I still have the book in my collection! So it seems we were contemporaries, with Lewis representing in California and me in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

I brought my copy of The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop with me to Bequia in October and reread the book a few weeks ago. After that, I contacted with Lewis through social media and told him I would be writing this review. Aside from the professional connection I had with Lewis, I was reminded of how well-written the book is, and how important a book it is for any and all authors to read. I had previously included the title on lists of recommended reading I’d created for authors so they could learn more about the business. Now I’m even more adamant that you seek out and read this book. Here’s the main reason …

When I was a rep and had the opportunity to introduce myself to authors I was representing, they often said, “I didn’t know I had a sales rep.” I always wanted to reply, “How do you think your book has made it onto the shelves of bookstores and libraries?” The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop explains just that, and more. Finally! Sales reps like me had validation after long being the unsung heroes and heroines of the book business! Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but you get the picture. Plus, as being in the business of repping has done for me, with this industry knowledge perhaps you’ll also be able to think of new ways to promote and sell your own books and those of other authors as we lose more and more of the traditional brick and mortar bookstores, and publishers’ sales reps go the way of the dinosaurs.

Aside from the personal aspects of this book, I also enjoyed reading it, twice, because it was so well written and interesting. It will appeal to readers in general and, like me, you’ll likely be checking out and reading the other books Lewis Buzbee has written. Here’s a link to his website. Besides, first and foremost, Lewis is a READER and The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is filled with titles and authors’ names and the complete lifelong delight in reading good books. You’ll find yourself making lists.

Thanks, Lewis, for writing such an important book! (And did you also sell Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine series?)

My personal copy with that "questionable" rabbit book.

My personal copy with that “questionable” rabbit book.

 

¡Fascination is live on Amazon!

And here it is! Kevin Brennan’s new novel, Fascination, is now available as an eBook! This is a great book that I read in its beta version … exactly the kind of pitch-perfect writing I’ve come to expect and enjoy from everything Kevin publishes! Congratulations on this new release, Kevin!

WHAT THE HELL

cover-smallClick me, s’il vous plaît!

Yesterday, with no fanfare whatsoever, I published Fascination on Amazon.

I know. Unexpected, right?

You can probably guess why I did it. Two main reasons: One, that after an initial blast of sales to, pretty much (no, exclusively), people who read this blog, I couldn’t give away a copy. There was no follow-up, no word of mouth, and though a number of potential readers expressed interest via comments on reviews of the book on other blogs, none of them pulled the trigger. Two, aside from the blog and Twitter, there’s no way to market the thing. I knew this going in, of course, but I’d hoped that Janey would tell Jenny and Jenny would buy it and then tell Jackie, who’d buy it herself and then tell Jill. It’s #guerrillapublishing, right? The word spreads and strangers start showing up. Six degrees of separation.

Just…

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Blood in the Water – with special mention of Bequia!

Tim Baker is a thriller/suspense writer, originally from Rhode Island, who now makes his home in Flagler Beach, Florida, where his series of nine novels is set. Tim is also a DJ on local Flagler Beach radio station, Surf 97.3, that we can pick up online here on Bequia – or anywhere else we happen to be in the world.

14606493_10201994903831284_6754833612505791100_n Tim was one of the first authors I promoted on my blog Reading Recommendations. And I’ve been reading and promoting his novels ever since. As he has done for me. (More importantly, he’s kicked my butt to keep me writing and publishing and I thanked him for that “encouragement” on the Acknowledgements page in my latest novel.)

Tim also shouts me out on his radio programs, mentioning that Dennis and I are listening from Bequia, and playing our favourite music.

I’ve had the great pleasure to beta-read several of Tim’s novels before they were published, and sometimes he even listens to my advice! I read Blood in the Water early last summer and offered my suggestions. Tim ePublished the book in September then printed copies shortly after that. I’ve been in the habit of ordering all print copies from Tim directly, so he signs them to me, and these books are now shelved between Jane Austen and Nick Bantock on the top shelf of my Wall of Words in the Bequia house. Tim offered to mail this new book to me on Bequia, since I’d already left Canada when it became available. I told him it likely would take forever to arrive/or never arrive at all, but I was surprised when the parcel was here within three weeks. Possibly a new record in mail delivery to this little corner of the Caribbean?

Anyway, once we did receive the book, Dennis claimed it to read next, since I had already read the book in beta format. Imagine my surprise when Dennis finished reading yesterday and said, “It was pretty neat that Tim mentioned Bequia in this book.”

Whaaa??? I said. Where was that?

He flipped through the end of the book and pointed to this exchange on p. 183:

“So what will you do now?” Val asked.

“There’s an island in the Grenadines called Bequia. I’m thinking of opening a dive shop there.”

“Sounds like a nice retirement plan,” Val said.

(Reprinted here with permission of the author!)

When I contacted Tim to tell him of our discovery, he said he’d added that after I had read the book as a little surprise. Not only was I surprised, but I was also quite chuffed with this new connection between Tim and me and the books we write.

Not that Tim’s characters haven’t already visited Bequia … In my contribution to Path of a Bullet, an anthology of short stories by Tim and writer-pals that he published in 2014, a few of Tim’s recurring characters, including Ike, visit the island of Bequia. Bequia Blues was written to bring Tim’s characters together in the setting where my novels take place. It was a lot of fun to write!

So … Did Dennis enjoy the book? Here’s his review:

“That was great!”

(He is an engineer, after all, and a man of few words, some of the time. Tim appreciated the comment when I told him.)

As for me, I thought this was the best novel of everything Tim has written – and I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve read. But that was my conclusion long before our discovery of the mention in it of Bequia! Thanks, Tim! Now it’s the BEST BOOK EVER!!!

Well, maybe I exaggerate, but I do highly recommend this, as well as all of Tim’s books. Oh, and you can’t go wrong listening to Tim’s radio programs while you read, either …

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Advice for Writers from a Reader Who Loves to Support Writers: Guest Chris Graham (TSRA)

Here’s a terrific guest blog post by Christopher Graham, better known as Chris The Story Reading Ape. Rachel Ritchey asked the questions and we all benefit from Chris’s answers, from a reader’s standpoint!

Fiction by Rachael Ritchey

Hey all! Happy day! I’m so excited to introduce to you (and you to) Chris Graham aka The Story Reading Ape as a guest on the blog. Chris is a super supporter of authors and if you haven’t you’d do well to swing over and follow his blog. Chris offers so many free services to authors as well as helping with book design. He’s encouraging and helpful, scowering the world of blogs for worthwhile information to share too. I appreciate his hard work and his dedication, not to mention his insights. And today he’s here to answer some questions and offer some helpful advice.

Thanks for coming over Chris!


Chris Graham, Guest to the blog:

My thanks to Rachael for her kind offer to post an article from me – also for the challenge she set me for the topic:

  • From a reader standpoint, offer some advice, maybe something…

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So Long, Leonard …

I met Leonard Cohen once.

Since I spent all my employed life working in bookstores and for publishing companies, it was a given I’d meet many famous (mostly Canadian) authors during that time. And I did. I still have most of their signed books on my shelves here on Bequia. I haven’t given them away in all this time so it looks as though I’ll still have them when I die.

But Cohen was different, because I never represented him and he was actually in Calgary to sign books at the rival bookstore around the corner from the one where I was working. If the sales rep accompanying him hadn’t had the forethought to buy coffee and bagels from the restaurant across 17th Ave. and bring them, along with Leonard, over to our store where they could sit in armchairs by the window and eat and visit with us, I would never have had the chance to meet the man at all. He was in town to promote a new collection of contemporary psalms, The Book of Mercy. The original dust jacket on my copy is somewhat worse for wear, but the hardcover itself is still in mint condition.

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I grew up in Toronto during the 60s and was 13 when Cohen first began recording songs. Suzanne was always a great favourite during my teens, because the name was so close to my own.

But there was also something haunting about this music and the lyrics – something kind of forbidden, too – that made this new singer and his music so attractive to us. In Grade 13 English, we even discussed some of Cohen’s poems, which I always thought was cool, because this was poetry written by someone we could hear on the radio, not old dead guys from another century. Cohen was speaking directly to us in the here and now … even if we didn’t understand exactly what it was he was saying.

Then I read and studied Beautiful Losers as part of a Can.Lit. course I took at university. I had a difficult time reading that book. I no longer have my copy.

So it wasn’t until 1984, when Cohen was on a cross-Canada promotion tour, that I managed to get a signed book and have kept it all these years.

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Remarkably, it remained unscathed during a recent infestation of termites I dealt with. Not so the signed books of his fellow-Montreal author, Hugh MacLennan, who I also met when he signed my university copies at a different bookstore in Calgary where I was working. Unfortunately those termites feasted on Hugh.

Fast forward to when I served on a committee in Calgary that had the task of selecting and inviting an author to give a speech at an annual event. We asked Leonard Cohen, but were told by his agent that Mr. Cohen was going to be busy during the next few years promoting his new CD and that perhaps we should inquire again at a later date. Cohen was 78 at the time! I thought that was certainly a sign of extreme optimism, not only that he could make it through a world promotion tour still healthy in mind and body, but also that he’d be alive and able to attend our event a few years later. “You go, Leonard!” I thought. If only they had been able to convince him last year …

But he did come to Calgary that year and gave a fabulous concert, which I attended just days before flying back to Bequia for the winter. The man put his heart and soul into the concert and I came away believing it was the best I had ever attended in my life. He had a way of calling the audience “My Friends” and really meaning it, so that I felt as though he was singing directly to me – probably as did every other member of that audience. I do have the Live in London concert DVD, which is wonderful, but still not the same as the very personal experience of seeing him perform live in front of 10s of thousands of other fans.

It was with great sadness that I read this morning of Leonard Cohen’s death yesterday. Unexpected especially because he had just released a CD of all new music and seemed to be at the top of his game right now. Little did I, or most others, realize that this was his swan song. Listen to the words of You Want It Darker and you will hear the eerie prophecy.

This is my small tribute to someone who managed to touch our perfect bodies around the world with his mind – with his words and his music. I mourn the loss of Leonard Cohen, but I am grateful I had the opportunity to meet him once, to share a coffee and bagel, to get his signature, and that he so generously shared what he created with all of us.

Here’s another tribute to Cohen and to Remembrance Day from my friend, Carin Markuz … (And, Carin, this book of Cohen’s I have is dedicated, “for my teacher”.)

the teachers are leaving… i hope we’ve been paying attention

Richard Emerson Toy, Royal Canadian Navy, 1939

Reposting for Remembrance Day, 2016, with the addition of a link to a post I wrote on the occasion earlier this year of the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth.

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Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

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SmorgasbordAutumn Reading – One Woman’s Island by Susan M. Toy

Thanks to Sally Cronin who has featured my Bequia Perspectives novels on her blog as part of the Autumn Reading series!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Smorgasbord Autumn Reading

One Woman’s Island by Susan M. Toy, is the second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series that picks up again a few months in time after the first novel, Island in the Clouds which I read and thoroughly enjoyed.

51hb-tptcfl-_uy250_About the book

Running away from Canada, Mariana hopes to forget a failed marriage and the death of her husband by embarking on a whole new life. She moves lock, stock, and two cats to the small Caribbean island of Bequia. But the move brings more than she could have imagined. New friends ask her to help solve a recent murder in the expat community. And then there’s the problem of her neighbours, a young woman and her children. Seemingly abandoned by family and friends, Mariana believes they need her help!

By becoming involved, Mariana is carried along from wanting to simply “live with the locals” to being overwhelmed by…

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The True Meaning of Free Choice

Tim Baker with an easy choice, for a change!

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It’s time to make a choice.

Between you and me, I hate this crap. I hate arguing with the people I like and respect because of differences of which one is better and which one is the certain ruination of all that is good and holy.

I can’t wait until it’s over and the only thing left to argue about is football.

In the meantime – I have another choice for you.

The difference is – with this choice you can choose one, the other – or both! You can also choose neither if you want, but then you would be passing up free stuff!

That’s right…FREE STUFF!

Lemmee ‘splain…

As you may, or may not know – my ninth novel (12th book when you count short stories and novellas) was released earlier this month. It’s called Blood in the Water and it’s available in paperback here

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Remembering Mona, My First Friend on Dominica

My fellow Queen’s alumna and Caribbean resident, Gwen Whitford, has written a beautiful tribute for a Dominican friend she recently lost. My condolences to you, Gwen, and to all of Mona’s family and friends.

Ti Domnik Tales

mona-1999 Mona George-Dill was a beautiful, dynamic and gracious Dominican woman.

It is with profound sadness that I write this post as a tribute to Mona George-Dill, my first friend on Dominica.  She departed this earthly life and ascended to heavenly paradise on Sunday October 30, 2016.

It is she to whom I give credit for guiding me during my early days in Dominica and helping me to understand a culture very different from my own.

Perhaps it was serendipity that brought us together in 1997.  I was looking for a place to live that would give me an improved quality of life, as I had been suffering from severe environmental health challenges in Canada for several years.  When I started to research other countries that offered clean air, food and water, I rigorously quizzed Mona, who was at that time the Manager of Springfield Plantation Guest House and a research…

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