Guest Post: Reflections on Bequia by Nat Warren-White – Part 1

I first met Nat and Betsy last year when they were vacationing on Bequia. Robin Coles, an author I promoted on my blog Reading Recommendation, had put us together on Facebook, so I invited Nat and Betsy to visit my house when they arrived on the island and we have been in contact since that time. Nat posts many photos to Facebook and that’s what led me to ask if he’d like to write about Bequia in this series of guest posts. Besides, he also brought a copy of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird to reread – definitely an author serious about his writing!

Reflections on a Wednesday Morning in Downtown Bequia

Sand Cake As I wait patiently by the beach in the yellow Moke for Betsy to return from shopping this morning, I notice a couple of kids working hard down in the sand. I assume they are building a sand castle but when I move closer for a look I realize it is something else altogether.

“It’s a sand cake,” the boy tells me with a big smile.

“Looks good enough to eat,” I say.

He laughs then quite seriously responds, “It’s not for eating.”

I see another smaller round pile of sand with a hole in the middle next to the cake. “I was trying to make a doughnut,” the boy says.

“Or a bagel” I add.

His sister brings shells and bits of sea glass for cake decorating. I watch as she carefully plucks each piece from the water and balances them on her flip-flops which are floating gently nearby. When the flip-flops are fully loaded she transports them carefully to the cake building site to lay delicately on top.

“How come you’re not in school today?” I ask.

“It’s Easter vacation!” the boy responds. “Two weeks! We don’t go back to class again until April 13.”

“Do you live near here?” I ask.

“We live in Hamilton,” he answers, pointing across the harbor. “Are you from America?”

“Yes, I am. And it’s very cold, ice and snow now, where I come from.”

Children playing at beach
“Do they have beaches as nice as this one in America?”

“Not so many,” I say. “Well, maybe a few.”

“We don’t have many hurricanes or tornadoes here in Bequia. When we do have them they are not as bad as they are in St. Vincent. Because the buildings are not so big.”

“Do you remember a hurricane landing here?” I ask.

“Yes. My sister went outside in it. She wasn’t supposed to but she did and she left the door open.”

“I was much younger then,” his sister adds. “My mother had to come out and get me.”

“All the people in Bequia are very nice. All the business people and the people who live here are nice,” the boy tells me. “My mother and father drive a taxi. My mother has the new one and my father has the old one.” He points toward the taxi lot full of waiting cabs and trucks. “There’s my mother sitting in the new taxi with my grandmother. They are having a little chat.”

Green Ferry - Copy “Looks like a nice taxi,” I say.

“It is. You see that green boat?” he asks, pointing at the ferry boat backed-up to the pier nearby.

“Yup,” I say.

“They are fixing that one right now,” he says.
“When we come here we usually take the red one,” I say.

Red Ferr “That green one is a good stiff boat. It doesn’t roll around as much as the red one. The red ones belong to the Bequia Express and the green ones belong to the Admiral ferries. The green ones are more comfortable.

Both ferries, red and green, at the wharf. Photo taken by Susan Toy from The View.

Both ferries, red and green, at the wharf. Photo taken by Susan Toy from The View.

You see that boat there?” He points at the locally built blue and white schooner, Friendship Rose, anchored just off the beach. “That boat was the ferry before these red and green ones. Only she was lower in the water then. They added more height to her when she stopped being the ferry.”

“She’s a beautiful boat,” I say. “I sailed on her down to the Tobago Cays last week. We had a great sail.”

“Yes, she is a beautiful old boat,” the boy says with pride.

“Do you like to go sailing?” I ask.

“No, I don’t go sailing. But my grandfather did. He was a great fisherman. He is 93. He lives in Paget Farm. Do you know Paget Farm?”

“Yes,” I say. “Out near the airport.”

“Yes. Paget Farm is a good place to live. The people there take good care of each other. When my grandfather was fishing out near Petit Nevis once his boat sank and he had to swim to save his life. Everyone in Paget Farm went out to look for him. Finally they saw some smoke coming from behind Petit Nevis. They found him cooking a fish on the beach.”

“He must’ve been a good swimmer!”

“Yes, but now he is very old and he can’t see very well. He is shrunken. My auntie in America says he can come there to have an operation to make his eyes better but he is afraid to go because he is afraid he will lose his sight completely. He says he can only see the shadow of someone who he is looking at now. Sometimes I go to his house and sneak in while he is sitting there and sometimes he doesn’t hear me so I just sit until he asks, ‘Who’s there?’ Then I use another voice and he doesn’t know it’s me. Sometimes he hears the floors going squeaksqueaksqueak and then he guesses it’s me. My mother cooks him food to bring to his house everyday.”

“But you live in Hamilton?”

“Yes … and he lives in Paget Farm.”

“How old are you?”

“I am 12. My sister is 10.” The girl is bigger than the boy. “I go to school on St Vincent. She goes to school here on Bequia.”

“You take the ferry to St Vincent for school every day?”


“Do you ever get seasick?”

“Not unless my belly is too full from food but then I get accustomed to the rolling usually. Have you been to the volcano on St Vincent? It’s called Soufriere.”

“No,” I say. “But I saw another one on Montserrat that was exploding once.”

“My class took a field trip to see the Soufriere but I didn’t go.”

“Why not?”

“My auntie said it might be slippery and I could get hurt.”

“Were other children hurt?”

“No, but some slipped.”

“And fell down the volcano?”

“No, just fell down! Do you know any other beaches here? You know Lower Bay?”

“Yes. That’s a nice beach too but I think I like Hope Bay the best.”

“You know Princess Margaret Beach? It was named Princess Margaret beach after the princess who went bathing there. Do you know this harbor was first called The Harbor? Then the queen came to visit and she named it for herself, Port Elizabeth.”

Suddenly a black cloud rolls over us from the east side of the island and it starts raining hard.

“It’s raining!” shouts the boy. “Goodbye! We’re going to sit in the van!” And they run away leaving me standing by the sand bakery which is quickly dissolving back into the beach. All I can think of is the Jimmy Webb song, MacArthur Park, and how happy I am to have met these two young Bequians on a Wednesday vacation morning on the beach in Port Elizabeth.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2

Nat resting Bequia-style

Nat resting Bequia-style

Nat Warren-White is an actor, drama therapist, writer, and executive coach who first fell in love with Bequia when he and his wife, Betsy, landed there in 2006 at the beginning of a circumnavigation aboard their 43′ South African-built cutter, BAHATI that you may read about here. In 2011, they stopped there again on their way home to Maine and, in fact, Bequia is the spot on earth where they “closed the loop/tied the knot” – joyfully completing their sailing journey round the world. Since then they have been returning every year and are learning to love and understand this special dot in the ocean more and more!

Guest Post: Femmes Fatales of Paris by Gordon Cope – Part 3

Gordon Cope was previously featured on Reading Recommendations and offered to write this new 3-part series about Paris.

In celebration of the publication of the 10th anniversary eBook edition of A Paris Moment, I am writing a series based upon Femmes Fatales of Paris.


Madame Madeleine Marguerite d’Aubray, Marquise de Brinvilliers, born in 1630, was one of Paris’s more accomplished poisoners, a black widow spider who preyed on spouses and lovers in equal measure.

Marguerite was the child of a Paris civil lieutenant, M. Dreux d’Aubray, who arranged a marriage between his 21-year-old daughter and the Marquise de Brinvilliers, then serving with a regiment in Normandy. In 1659, Brinvilliers introduced his wife to Captain Godin de Sainte-Croix, who flamboyantly became her public lover. When Brinvilliers declined to intervene in their affair (he had decamped from France in front of a long line of creditors), her incensed father secured Sainte-Croix’s imprisonment in the Bastille through a lettre de cachet.

While in the Bastille, Saint-Croix pursued self-improvement by taking a continuing education course from M. Exili, a chemist well-versed in Tofana, a colorless, odorless poison blended from lead, arsenic and belladonna.

Femmes Fatales Madame Brinvilliers When Saint-Croix was released from prison, he renewed his affair with Marguerite, this time with revenge on his mind. Marguerite enthusiastically took up the scheme, and soon not only her father succumbed, but also her brothers, with the eventual hope that when her mother died, she would be the sole heir to the family fortune.

Both conspirators might have gone unpunished, were it not for the untimely death of Saint-Croix in 1672. Perhaps concerned about his own safety, Saint-Croix had left behind a complete confession to be opened only upon his death. The police were soon hot on the trail of the Marquise, who fled to England and Germany, before finally being captured while hiding as a nun in a convent in Liege. She was subsequently tortured into confession, and beheaded in 1676.

The fallout from her actions didn’t end with her death, however. A year after Marquerite’s execution, Magdelaine de La Grange was arrested on charges of forgery and murder; she testified to police that she had information about related poisonings. Authorities soon rounded up a midwife, Catherine Monvoisin, who implicated a number of court luminaries, including Louis XIV’s mistress, Athenais de Montespan. Monvoisin claimed that Montespan had purchased aphrodisiacs and performed Black Masses in order to keep rival lovers at bay.

A public trial, popularly known as The Affair of the Poisons, ensued. Monvoisin was found guilty of witchcraft and poisoning, and was burned at the stake in 1680. Over the following years, a special court found many nobles and courtiers guilty of poisoning or witchcraft, and 34 people were sentenced to death. Most were released, however, after the King, shocked by the shear extent of the scandal, disbanded the court in 1682.

Part 1
Part 2

Gordon Cope was also a guest blogger of a 3-part series about the San Miguel Writers’ Conference. Here’s Part One.

Guest Post: Femmes Fatales of Paris by Gordon Cope – Part 2

Gordon Cope was previously featured on Reading Recommendations and offered to write this new 3-part series about Paris.

In celebration of the publication of the 10th anniversary eBook edition of A Paris Moment, I am writing a series based upon Femmes Fatales of Paris.

Femmes Fatales Comtesse de la Motte Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy, also known as the ‘Comtesse de la Motte’ was a saucy woman of undeniable deviousness. Born in 1756 to the illegitimate descendant of King Henry II, she sought to escape poverty using her charms and fierce ambition. In an effort to lay claim to lost Valois lands, she attempted to establish a social relationship with Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI. Despite rebuffs from the queen, Jeanne persisted, and her machinations eventually led to a delightful swindle that was to become known as ‘The Affair of the Diamonds.’

Much of the actual plot was hatched at the Hôtel de Rohan, an immense palace that was built for Cardinal Rohan, a rather vain man with a crush on Marie Antoinette. He fancied the queen as a mistress, but she never had the slightest interest in him. In fact, word has it that she blamed the cardinal for the humiliating incident that occurred as she was traveling to Paris for her betrothal to Louis XVI. Stopped at the border of France, she was made to strip naked, removing everything that was Austrian.

The focus of the diamond affair was a necklace crafted by the French jewelers Boehmer, who had unsuccessfully tried to sell it for 1.6 million francs to Louis XVI. Accounts of the affair are contradictory and full of claims and counterclaims. A popular version purports that Madame de la Motte, then the mistress to Cardinal Rohan, fancied the necklace for herself, and came up with a plan to acquire it using the gullibility and lecherousness of her lover. She forged a letter from Marie Antoinette to Rohan saying that she would look favorably on the cardinal if he were to buy this necklace for her.

Femmes Fatales Cardinal Rohan When Madame de la Motte delivered this letter personally to the cardinal, he was naturally suspicious. He asked to meet Antoinette in person, so the crafty Madame arranged for a hot midnight assignation in the forest of Versailles with a prostitute disguised to look like the queen. Tantalized by this taste of forbidden fruit, the duped cardinal put the first payment down for the necklace and gave it to Madame de la Motte, who immediately broke up the necklace and sold the diamonds.

The subterfuge was soon discovered when the defrauded jewelers came looking for their second payment. When the truth emerged, the king had Cardinal Rohan stripped of his offices and sent into exile. Madame de la Motte was put in jail and branded with a V, for voleur, but the jewel thief later escaped to London where she had the last laugh, publishing a salty, vengeful memoir about court life in Versailles.

Part 1
Part 3

Gordon Cope also was a guest blogger of a 3-part series about the San Miguel Writers’ Conference. Here’s Part One.

Mariana by John Everett Millais, 1851 … in One Woman’s Island

This painting was posted to Facebook and I commented that it had always been a favourite – so much so I worked it into my yet-to-be-completed (that description is for you, Tim Baker) second Bequia Perspectives novel, One Woman’s Island. The main character is also named Mariana, but that came about because my middle name is Marie … So here’s the excerpt from Chapter Six about this painting from my WIP (unedited).

11009856_888600287849489_1949889716693087294_o The sisters dropped me off at my house and I discovered Sel and Fred had left the front door unlocked when they finished work that morning. Damn! But perhaps, I thought, that would finally be grounds for dismissal, although I doubted it. I walked into the house and Thom greeted me. At least Sel had had the sense to release the cats from the bedroom before she left, even if they had still been locked up inside the house all afternoon. I was going to let Thom out, but noticed the bedroom French door to the patio was not only unlocked but wide open, and I could see that someone was in my hammock. I looked around for something to arm myself with before going out there, but there was nothing within immediate reach, so I cautiously walked towards the doors. I heard humming. Whoever was in the hammock was singing.

It was Felicity and her children. Philbain and Ayayla lay along either side of her, fast asleep, and she was humming a tuneless song, one foot on the ground gently rocking the hammock. The picture of these three was so perfect I hated to disturb them. But I couldn’t have them in my house when I wasn’t there, even if the door had been left unlocked. Then I also noticed a pile of books had been scattered on the floor under the hammock. That really was too much! I don’t like other people messing around with my books. I was suddenly furious. At that same moment Felicity turned her head and saw me standing in the open doorway.

“Oh, Missus, I is sorry,” she said, hurrying to wake the children and get out of the hammock. “De maid, she takes de key and leaves de door unlock. I no likes have de house open when you no here. De chiles an’ me, we stay look after de house and de cats. We falls ‘sleep in de hammock. Oh, I is sorry,” she repeated, looking as though she was about to start crying.

I knew she was sorry, and I was thankful she had been concerned enough to want to protect my house after the thoughtlessness of the maid. The door was dead bolted and had to be locked with a key. The maid knew that.

But I was still also very angry with Felicity and her children for handling my books without permission. As I reached to pick them up I said, “Please do not to touch the books again.” I checked them over for damage as I stacked them. They all seemed to be okay except for one, a collection of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites, that had been left opened, face down on the floor, causing the spine to crack a bit. I pointed the damage out to Felicity. “This is what I mean,” I said. “Now this copy is ruined. My books are very important to me. This one I’ve had since university—a very long time. And I’ve always been careful with them, because some can never be replaced.”

Instead of apologizing this time, Felicity said, “But Missus, dis picture.” She took the book from my hands and opened it again. “Look, de woman. She wait.” Felicity outlined the woman’s figure with her finger. “She be sad, plenty sad,” Felicity added, shaking her head.

The painting was a reproduction of Mariana by John Everett Millais and had long been a favourite of mine, not only because I shared the subject’s name, but because I also loved the colour of blue the artist had used for the subject’s dress. I was stunned that this simple girl had immediately been able to deduce the true theme behind this work of art.

“Yes, you’re right,” I said, forgetting my anger. “She waits for her lover who will never come. This woman is the subject of a famous poem as well, and that poem is based on a character in William Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. You’ve heard about Shakespeare, haven’t you?”

Wide-eyed, she shook her head no. Shakespeare, considered one of the greatest writers in all the world, yet this girl had never even heard of him. In light of the fact she’d likely left school at a young age to have Philbain, it shouldn’t have surprised me that Felicity’s education was lacking. But I was to discover over the next few months that the general knowledge of many things, things I take for granted and think everyone should know, is greatly lacking among many of the local people. What a shame this girl had been cut off from so much.

The children were now completely awake. Philbain had made his way out of the hammock and was restacking the books I had already piled to be reshelved. He grabbed and opened one of my favourite children’s books, Curious George, the copy that has always traveled with me since I was Philbain’s age. He looked at me, pointed at the book and said, “Missus.”

“He wan’ you read to he,” Felicity said. “I no read,” and she turned her head away, ashamed at her admission.

I was still standing in amazement, looking at Philbain. He had just called me ‘Missus’. He’d said a new word. When I pointed this out to Felicity, she said, matter-of-factly, “I teach he.”

So I realized that Philbain was capable of learning something after all. I scooped him up off of the floor along with the book, and settled into one of the plastic chairs, Philbain on my knee. I opened the book to begin reading, but before I could say the first words, Ayayla managed to scramble out of the hammock and climb onto my other knee. It was crowded, but the two children managed to make themselves comfortable and I began reading.

Felicity said, “Missus, you mus’ speak loud.” She motioned to her ear and then at Philbain who was now looking up at me with big eyes.

“He has a hearing problem?” I asked. Felicity nodded Yes in answer. Well, that made sense of the fact he didn’t speak much. “But Ayayla’s hearing is okay?” I asked, and Felicity nodded yes again. So I put my mouth as close as I could to Philbain’s ear and read to both of them in a loud, clear voice. I was soon into the story, although it was a picture book and didn’t take very long to read anyway, which was just as well because, while the children may have been mesmerized, my knees were soon beginning to ache from the unaccustomed weight.

When I finished the story, I set the children and the book back on the floor. Ayayla looked up at me with her squinty eyes and said, “T’anks.” Philbain was already looking at the pictures in the book again.

Felicity got out of the hammock, and said, “We’s go back now.” She held her hands out to the children.

Before I knew myself what I was doing, I said, “I can cook dinner for all of us. Please stay.”

Felicity protested at first, “Oh, no, Missus. We goes.” But when I pointed out to her that the children were already quietly settling back into looking at books, Felicity left them and came into the kitchen with me to see what we could throw together.

I guess at that point I also just didn’t want them to leave me yet.

From the book ...

From the book …

The cover with ripped dustjacket. Book bought at The Guild Gallery in '78 or '79, still has $6.95 written inside in pencil - my handwriting.

The cover with ripped dustjacket. Book bought at The Guild Gallery in ’78 or ’79, still has $6.95 written inside in pencil – my handwriting.

Guest Post: Femmes Fatales of Paris by Gordon Cope – Part 1

Gordon Cope was previously featured on Reading Recommendations and offered to write this new 3-part series about Paris.

In celebration of the publication of the 10th anniversary eBook edition of A Paris Moment, I am writing a series based upon Femmes Fatales of Paris.

Femmes Fatales Mata Hari Any compendium of Femmes Fatales of Paris must, of course, start with Mata Hari.

Born in the Netherlands in 1876, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was the daughter of a prominent milliner. When she turned 18, she married Captain John MacLeod of the Dutch Colonial Army and moved with him to Java, where they had two children.

The marriage did not end well. MacLeod was abusive towards Margaretha, and openly consorted with an Indonesian concubine. One of the children took ill, and died. Margaretha left MacLeod for another Dutch officer and took up Indonesian dancing as a distraction from her worries. She adopted the stage name Mata Hari, Malay for ‘eye of the day’.

Margaretha returned to the Netherlands in 1902. The following year, she moved to Paris, where she eked out a living as a circus performer and exotic dancer. Her latter profession caught the eye of contemporary dancer Isadora Duncan, as well as Emile Guimet, millionaire industrialist and founder of the Musée Guimet, dedicated to Oriental culture. Inspired by Indonesian traditions, she crafted a dance persona based upon a Java princess of high-caste Hindu birth.
Her dearth of costume was what really captured the imagination of the Parisian public, however. During her performances, she would progressively shed clothing until she wore little more than an ornamental bra and arm bracelets. Travelling throughout Europe, she drew wide acclaim for her exoticism.

Eventually, however, the fame wore off, and critics increasingly characterized her as a dancer with little skill and excessive weight. By 1912, her career was largely at a standstill. She began to lean more upon her feminine wiles, becoming a consort with politicians, military brass and men of influence.

When the First World War broke out, the Netherlands remained neutral and, as a Dutch subject, Margaretha was allowed to travel freely between countries. Her movements soon attracted official attention, however, and she was detained by British Intelligence and interrogated in London. Scotland Yard concluded that she was a double agent for the French, but no charges were laid.

In 1917, the French intercepted German communications from Madrid that highlighted the activities of a German spy, subsequently identified as Mata Hari. British intelligence fed her the names of Belgian spies they considered to be double-crossing their German masters; one man was subsequently killed, proof to them that Margaretha was indeed in communication with the Germans.

Femmes Fatales Mata Hari 2 Margaretha was arrested in her hotel room on the Champs Elysees and placed in prison. During her trial, she was accused of passing on information to Germany that caused the deaths of at least 50,000 soldiers. Although no definite proof was presented by French or British intelligence authorities, she was found guilty. Mata Hari was subsequently executed by firing squad in the Chateau de Vincennes outside of Paris, and her remains donated for medical research.
Her story did not end there. When German papers were unsealed after fifty years, it was revealed that she was, indeed, a German agent under the control of the German embassy in Madrid. And, in a particularly bizarre twist to her legend, curators at the Museum of Anatomy in Paris discovered in 2000 that her head, which had been preserved and donated to the museum, had disappeared.

Part 2
Part 3

Gordon Cope also was a guest blogger of a 3-part series about the San Miguel Writers’ Conference. Here’s Part One.

Recommended Blogs in the Publishing/ Writing/ Reading Community


Thank you so much to Publishing Insights for including this blog in their list of Recommended Blogs in the Publishing/ Writing/ Reading Community – I am honoured to be in such company!

Originally posted on Publishing Insights:


After actively running this website for almost half a year, I would like to make a list of the blogs/blog sections (in alphabetic order) that I find insightful and informative for writers, readers, and publishers. Most of them are also very well designed, which means that you can enjoy a visual feast while savouring news feeds from the publishing world:

  • Author Solution: Keith Ogorek shares tips on writing, self publishing, book marketing, and bookselling
  • Book Venture: a website owned by a publishing company; long and informative posts about interesting publishing topics with very thorough analysis
  • Confessions of a Published Author: Arran Bhansal on being a published author, and writing in general; occasional business tips
  • Digital Publishing 2015: an online hub of graduate course in digital publishing, posts written by publishing students from Bath Spa University
  • Let’s Get Digital: all about publishing business
  • Let’s Read! from “chasingtheturtle”: creative illustrations about reading, a…

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Bobby Cameron – a listening recommendation

I first saw Bobby Cameron perform at the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto, and always enjoyed listening to his music at several subsequent festivals I attended. (I grew up in The Beach, by the way, so Bobby was playing my ‘hood!) I bought a couple of his CDs at that time then was pleased to learn he had been living in Edmonton while I was still in Calgary. When I saw his announcement on Facebook recently that he was releasing a new CD I just had to invite him to participate in my Listening Recommendations feature!

10003034_10201968680513915_1128735056_n Bobby Cameron

What is your latest release? Comfort Zone – Released March 7, 2015

Quick description of the music you perform: Multi-Award-Winning Roots ‘n’ Blues Artist. Platinum and Gold Award-Winning Producer / Songwriter (Jully Black, Canadian Idol). Released four CDs to date.

His Americana approach hangs out on the corner of Springsteen and Clapton.

Your brief bio:
The jagged rock foundations of Cape Breton may be a far cry from the dry and desolate flats of the western Canadian prairies, but to Bobby Cameron, they both speak of the rugged terrain that served as backdrops to his upbringing and apt metaphors for the journey he took to seek his musical fortune.

Years ago, Cameron left the rustic island weaned on the rock-and-roll styles of the legendary Matt Minglewood and blues icon Dutch Mason, both genre counterpoints to the Celtic-flavoured roots music that dominated the region, hoping for a niche of his own in which to flourish. He found a cultural sanctuary in Edmonton in the 1980s, where he began to cut his teeth as a musical contender.

“I got my energy from the Maritimes,” recalls Cameron. “There is an intensity of just giving it all you’ve got when you get the chance. Jimmy Rankin, Minglewood, Mason… they’d all get up there and for 90 minutes, they absolutely turn it up. Going from a small community to a larger centre in Canada, you get a mindset that you have a lot to prove.”


The credentials came quickly for Cameron, who first garnered national attention winning the MuchMusic Guitar Warz competition in 1990, leading to several appearances with Jeff Healey, one of the contest’s judges. Other adjudicators were held spellbound by his virtuosity and riveting action on the fretboard as Cameron managed to capture the fiery emotion and down-home feel that reflected his energy and heritage. Armed with his acoustic, he could make any locale seem like a front- porch jam. And with his electric guitar, Cameron could churn out the sounds of a kid from a hinterland, burning to be heard by the rest of the multitudes. It’s that ability and drive that continues to be a hallmark of his live show.

But while he proved he could generate excitement onstage as a formidable guitarist and hold his own with the best six-stringers the country had to offer, Cameron knew that to truly stand out among his peers, he had to create his own material.

“I realized there were a million guitar players out there,” said Cameron. “It really came down to the point that if I wanted to get anywhere, I had to learn how to write really good songs.”

His first crack at releasing his own songs culminated in his eponymous debut in 1994, which was produced by Randy Staub (U2, Metallica, Bon Jovi), yielding national adult-contemporary charting of two singles, Human Fortress and If I Wait For You, the latter featuring a video that received heavy rotation on CMT Canada. Between gigs and songwriting stints, Cameron followed up with his second outing Drowning on Dry Land five years later, which featured Release Me, another prominent single on Canadian radio. In 2003, Cameron headed to Nashville to recorded Emotional Drift, which sparked several accolades and a finalist berth in the Americana category of the ISC International Songwriting Competition, beating out more than 11,000 entries from more than 70 nations.

Over time, Cameron’s steady output of creativity started turning heads, especially among musical pundits who marveled at the performer’s ability to expand on his proficiency on the guitar by penning works that also got the attention of other songwriters. He even made it onto the payroll of New York-based publishing company Carlin America Inc. which administered the creative content for Canadian Idol and American Idol. During that tenure, Cameron hit paydirt with October Skies, which was covered by Canadian Idol winner Ryan Malcolm on his platinum-selling CD.

It wasn’t long before he was introduced into the songwriting big leagues, when he began collaborating with the likes of Luke McMaster (Rhianna, Nick Lachey), Stan Meissner (Celine Dion, Starship), Daryl Burgess (Colin James, Patty Loveless) and John Capek (Rod Stewart, Bonnie Raitt), who would eventually help Cameron with his own material. Part of his efforts resulted in Jully Black’s Juno-winning album Reunion, which featured Just A Moment, co-written between Cameron, Black and Black-Eyed Peas member Keith Harris.

Besides the Juno, Cameron’s also accumulated a mantelpiece of awards over the years, including three Alberta Recording Industries Association titles (including Best Rock Artist on Record two consecutive years) and a SOCAN songwriter of the year distinction for his Human Fortress tune presented as part of the ARIA awards. He’s also landed BMG Platinum Sales and Universal Gold Sales awards, became a prairie winner of SOCAN National Songwriting Competition and won the Mix 96 Super Session Competition.

One personal highlight of Cameron’s was when he was selected by blues legend Long John Baldry to be in his band. Cameron toured North America with the British star on and off for three years. But as a solo act Cameron has also shared the stage with Chris De Burg, Colin James, Lee Roy Parnell, Burton Cummings, Big Sugar, Loverboy, April Wine, The Kentucky Headhunters and even with members of The Rolling Stones at one surprising occasion.

Through it all, and with his fourth album, Comfort Zone, Cameron remains grounded, content to remain in Edmonton where he says the talent of the local music community is ferocious and amazing. Married with two children, Cameron is also a regular contributor to the community, especially with the charity Autism Society of Edmonton Area.

“This is what I do and I’m proud of it,” says Cameron. “It’s all about the music, but with a family of my own, you’ve got to find balance. It’s so easy to get lost with thinking about getting and charting a single. It’s been an amazing journey and I’ve learned a lot. I’m very grateful for the things I’ve been able to do and have learned to enjoy it more. It’s been great, I’ve had no regrets.”

And much like the jagged topography that’s helped define Canada, Bobby Cameron is still rocking to his own beat.

10856502_10155202682245018_3976306617613850825_o BOBBY CAMERON LIVE – NORTHERN LIGHTS CONCERT SERIES- MARCH 28 – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Doors 7:00 / show 8:00 / $20
Queen Alexandra Community Hall / 10425 University Avenue

There will be a LIMITED NUMBER OF TICKETS made available at the door on March 28 starting at 7:00 p.m.

Anchored in his Cape Breton upbringing, Bobby Cameron brings to his music a riveting mix of styles, from folk and roots to blues and rock. Bobby does not re-invent himself to suit the current climate, having instead built a career moving from an ace guitarist in rock bands, to a valued sideman, to a frontman, to a singer-songwriter. We are excited to hear Bobby present his latest CD, Comfort Zone, in an acoustic setting.

Links to buy Bobby’s music:

Bobby’s promo links:
CD Baby

Listen to Bobby’s music on Soundcloud
And an interview: Bobby Cameron new single ” In The Light Of Day” radio debut on 1015 THE HAWK

What are you working on now?
Promoting new CD Comfort Zone. Producing other artists.

Bobby’s listening recommendation:
John Campbelljohn

IMG_7108Here are a couple of photos of Bobby Cameron at the 2008 Toronto Beaches Jazz Festival taken by my friend Jim. Bobby was set up on Queen St. at the corner of the street where Jim and Janice live (two blocks away from my childhood home). Their son Robert had a chance to meet Bobby and get his autograph that evening.IMG_71 13

Hiring an Editor is Not the Place to Cut Corners


I can’t agree more with Tim Baker’s excellent post – good editors are worth their weight in gold and you should expect to pay professionals for their advice when making your books the best they can be! Oh, and don’t rush the process either, because editing a book should take time and never be completed according to some arbitrary agenda you may have.

Originally posted on blindoggbooks:

Back in 2003 I left a really well-paying job to start my own home improvement business. It was a questionable decision at best, and I quickly learned that whatever skills I possessed as a carpenter were trumped by my complete inadequacy as a business man. Despite the inevitable failure of my business, I did learn several lessons, some of which translate nicely to my writing endeavors.

One such piece of “tool belt wisdom” came to mind recently when another author friend of mine was complaining about the cost of hiring an editor.  tool belt

You’ve heard the old adage any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client? It’s the same for authors who try to self-edit.

Every author needs an editor – this fact is non-negotiable.

The reasons you should always hire a qualified professional editor are numerous, and not the topic of this post. The important thing…

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Five Star Treatment – That Last Summer by Susan M. Toy


My novella, That Last Summer, is receiving the Five Star Treatment over at Smorgasbord, thanks to Sally Cronin! Sally was previously featured on my blog, Reading Recommendations.

Originally posted on Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life:


Today in the Five Star Treatment I am featuring a short story, That Last Summer, by Susan M. Toy. The story is set in the mid 1960s and follows the coming of age of Rachel who has been forced to leave behind her life and boyfriend in Toronto to spend the summer with her family at their cottage at Lone Pine Peak.


Review by Kim McCullough, author of Clearwater

Susan M. Toy captures the magic of the summer of ’65 in this tale of love and loss of innocence. The lake is alive with boys and girls, skiing and romancing. Rachel constantly spars with her younger sister, neither girl realizing the extent of life-changing problems that float below the surface for both a friend’s family and their own. Toy writes with confidence and elegance in That Last Summer and, as Juliet says in a famous scene performed around…

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Guest Post: Multi-touch iBooks and ‘The Sword of Air’ by R.J. Madigan

I was so intrigued by R.J. Madigan’s experimentation with new innovations in iBook formatting that I requested a Guest Post about the subject for my own blog as I believe this will be of interest to many of my readers, as well.

The Sword of Air – Punk publishing at it’s best, pushing the medium
to create something new

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Visibility is the indie author’s enemy and with new titles being published every day it is getting harder and harder to stand out in such a crowded market place. This is why I decided to publish my first Young Adult Fantasy novel The Sword of Air as an iBook. With world-building creative options like music HD video, 3D modelling and photography to colour my story I was able to create a book unlike anything else on the market.

View the book trailer here.

Sales of printed books are falling every year and the sales of eBooks are rising. I believe we are on the edge of a paradigm of change in the way people consume their stories. I think this change is even more evident in children and young people today. Brought up with broadband wireless and touchscreen technology they expect everything to be linked to the greater hive mind that is the internet and something that isn’t interactive is almost bizarre to them.

There is a lot of ignorance surrounding iBooks with some people viewing them as a form of media that discourages readers to use their imagination. This is an assumption I’d challenge as an iBook is very similar to the interactive whiteboards teachers now use in the classroom instead of the old style blackboard and chalk. iBooks are a modern form of books like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit. But instead of the illustrations being one dimensional they move and are accompanied by sound. If anything iBooks encourage readers to be even more imaginative. The Sword of Air, is an epic fantasy story with a large cast of characters and multiple location changes. It’s much easier to follow this story with the interactive character map I’ve created that appears at the end of each chapter.

1-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.36.32 In Isaac Asimov’s short story Robbie, and Neil Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, both writers envisaged a world where books were more than just print. They came alive and talked to you, reacted and interacted with you. That world is now with the iPad, bringing science fiction into reality. I wanted to use this technology for my own storytelling.

Apple has given everyone the iBooks author software for free because they have a very forward-thinking strategy towards their users. This software enabled me to take my story and illustrate it in a way that isn’t possible in normal printed books. Music, HD video, 3D modelling and photography gives my readers a much more visceral experience rather than just being told about events that unfold in the course of the story. iBooks provide a sensory experience encouraging the reader’s imagination to work even harder.

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Interestingly in the 2011 London riots one of the only shops not to be looted was Waterstones, which says a lot about how young people now value books. Surely if this new technology best described as “eBooks meets movies” gets more young people interested in reading again then that must be a good thing? Don’t get me wrong I love printed books as much as you do and own many beautiful editions but why should books just be pages of printed text and not more interactive? The technological tide is rising and taking all of us with it.

Of course there are barriers with any new technology. Producing an iBook unlike anything else on the market hasn’t been an easy journey. Firstly the technology is so new and cutting edge that it is only currently available for iPad or Mac. If you don’t own either of these devices then you can’t read The Sword of Air. As a writer this has been incredibly frustrating for me me because I know readers have been disappointed because they are unable to access my book. It has also caused problems in the marketing stage of the publishing process. I have lost out on reviews because people willing to do so did not own an iPad or Mac.

Secondly despite the book being unlike anything else on the market it can be hard to make it visible because I can’t publish on Amazon or similar platforms. I have to use the iBooks store.

5-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.25.18 However I think one of the big barriers for authors considering publishing their work as an iBook is the steep learning curve involved in the use of the iBooks Author software. This technology is not orientated toward casual consumer users like Word. It requires concerted effort to master. I teamed up with a computer whizz known as ‘The Producer,’ to get the book I wanted out of iBooks Author. This is why despite the interest in iBooks, authors are not yet taking advantage of all this software can offer for their storytelling.

Another challenge has been trying to explain to readers exactly what an iBook is. The worst assumption I’ve read with regards to iBooks so far is ‘Netflix on a tablet.’ If you download the free sample of The Sword of Air, from the iBooks store, you’ll see this assumption couldn’t be more wrong.

Producing an iBook requires you to source media, photos, music, video and even 3D models. My partner in making the iBook, ‘The Producer,’ is a great photographer and was able to contribute some stunning photography as part of his involvement. The music, the video etc., has to be licensed therefore you have to be prepared to pay upfront costs. This is a challenge but realistically these days, creating a bestselling book without investing money up front is very unlikely.

At its heart though a story is all about the writing. The technology only supports it. The Sword of Air, is an epic fantasy story set in an altered reality of medieval Ireland. Sixteen-year-old Niamh Kelly’s village is burnt to the ground by the Raven Queen’s Fomor army and her adoptive grandmother is brutally murdered right in front of her. She is forced to flee into the forest of the Nadur with only an old storyteller, her best friend Rauri and his wolfhound Bran for protection. Hunted by the Raven Queen, the brutal ruler of Ireland, and her armies, Niamh desperately searches for the forgotten Fae people to help her. She must find allies and the power within herself if she is to survive against the dark powers of the Raven Queen.


Sneak preview inside The Sword of Air

Characters such as the beautiful but merciless Raven Queen, and unforgiving King of the dwarves- Abcan, spring from the page with hundreds of beautiful photographs, that go full screen at the tap of a finger. Sound effects put you inside the action instead of your just being told about it. The cinematic soundtrack adds another layer, telling the story and giving depth to the characters as the book progresses. Short movies built into the story put you inside the characters’ heads, let you see what they see and feel their emotions.

End movie for chapter 1

iBooks Author allowed me to build the character map for The Sword of Air. An interactive guide for the reader. As they come into the story each character and location is described at the end of each chapter. A fantastic feature for a high fantasy book with a large cast and multiple location changes.

If you have the patience and determination to master iBooks Author then there is so much you can do with the software to make your book stand out from the crowd and literally wow readers.

2-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.54.58 I hope that you will love The Sword of Air, You may download the first three chapters free from the iBooks store to experience the exciting multi-touch features for yourself.

You can read Chapter 1 on Wattpad now and I’ll be releasing more soon. The Sword of Air, is new and exciting and I promise you won’t be able to put it down. Already gaining five-star reviews on Goodreads it’s punk publishing at its best. Pushing the boundaries of the medium to create something new and radical.

There are many challenges in putting together an iBook. But the total creative freedom is empowering and where would the fun or challenge be in just reproducing what is already out there. Despite all the challenges it has been one hell of a journey!

Once you’ve read The Sword of Air, I’d love to hear what you think of the story, the technology and how you think this storytelling medium will develop in the future.

3-Screen Shot 2014-12-21 at 16.24.36 You can follow the progress of
The Sword of Air
on my blog
or Facebook
or Pinterest

Read Chapter 1 on Wattpad

Download The Sword of Air,
at Apple iTunes


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