Author Archive: islandeditions

A-R International: Randy McCharles

Randy McCharles
Authors-Readers International

RANDY MCCHARLES, is active in Calgary, Alberta’s writing community. An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, usually of the wickedly humorous variety, his short stories and novellas are available from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Tyche Books, House of Anansi, and Reality Skimming Press. He is the recipient of several Aurora Awards (Canada’s most prestigious award for speculative fiction). In 2013, his short story Ghost-B-Gone Incorporated won the House of Anansi 7-day Ghost Story Contest.

In addition to writing, Randy chairs the award-winning When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers as well as organizing various reading and craft events for writers.

His most recent publications include the Peter Galloway detective series, and Aurora Award finalist Much Ado about Macbeth.

~

I met Randy McCharles through the Calgary writing community where he has always been very active in organizing writing retreats and the annual festival, When Words Collide. During the first two festivals I set up display tables of books by Alberta authors and attended a number of the sessions and panel discussions. These were always extremely informative. But what I commend Randy for the most is that he has created a very cohesive community of readers, writers, publishers, promoters that caused an electricity in the air I have never felt at any other conference I’ve attended. And it was SOLD OUT EARLY EVERY YEAR!! This year, due to the pandemic, When Words Collide has moved online, but will now attract a worldwide audience. Randy was quick to reply when I asked for information about the online version for a 3-part blog series I was planning on writing. Here’s a link to Part 1 of Online Writing and Reading Festivals.

Randy McCharles, along with J. F. Kaufmann (another Authors-Readers International author), also took part with me in a well-attended talk and discussion held at the Calgary Public Library, The 12-Step Programme to Successful Self-Publication – Talk and panel discussion at CPL

~

A Connecticut Gumshoe in King Arthur’s Court

Sam Sparrow is a lousy cop and a worse private eye. But when the magician Merlin magicks him away from Hartford Connecticut to work cases in King Arthur’s Court, it may be just what Sam needs to address his trust issues, while at the same time proving himself worthy of his elusive idol, Sam Spade.

The Maltese Falcon meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in this rollicking hard-boiled detective satire.

Stay tuned for A Connecticut Gumshoe in Sherwood Forest. (Expected release in 2021)

Much Ado About Macbeth

When drama teacher Paul Samson decides to put on a High School production of Macbeth, he forgets that it isn’t just The Scottish Play, it is The Cursed Play. And Paul soon learns just how cursed. After grappling with his principal, the PTA, his family, and his students, he must contend with witches, ghosts, and skeletons from his past. The show is destined from the outset to end badly, but no matter how desperate or dangerous circumstances become, Paul cannot cancel the play. Theatre has but one rule and one rule only: the show must go on.

The Peter Galloway Detective Series

What Randy McCharles is working on now: Preparing for the 2020 When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers.

For more information about Randy McCharles, his writing, publishing, and events, please see his website.

Randy McCharles has previously been a guest twice on Reading Recommendations:
Aug. 2014, Aug. 2015.

 

 

 

Online Writing and Reading Festivals – Part 2: Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival

This is Part 2 in a 3-part series about annually held writing and reading festivals that have moved online this year. The good news is that these festivals are now open to readers and writers all over the world! (Link to Part 1 and Part 3)

Authors JP McLean and Bill Engleson have both been promoted on Authors-Readers International and both live on Denman Island. They were also both involved in this year’s Denman Island Readers and Writers Virtual Mini-Fest, so when I asked JP McLean about including information on this festival as part of my series, she asked Stewart Goodings (the co-chair of the DIRWF) to contribute to the post. While the date of this year’s festival has come and gone, ALL direct video links are still available to view and enjoy, for anyone – around thee world!

From Jo-Anne McLean … Thanks again for the opportunity to have the DIRWF covered on your blog. You’re always thinking in creative ways to help support authors, and it’s much appreciated. The festival committee was excited to hear of your support and I’ll be sending them your link as soon as it goes live.

 

Denman’s Summer Literary Festival Launches a Virtual Mini-Fest

By Stewart Goodings and Jo-Anne McLean

The Denman Island Readers’ and Writers’ Festival (DIRWF), like many other literary festivals in this age of COVID-19, has gone online. The authors who would have headlined the 2020 festival have instead represented their work in video format.

There is an active writing culture on Denman Island, inspired by the novels and memoirs of Des Kennedy, and the published works of Howard Stewart, Jo-Anne McLean, and Bill Engleson. The DIRWF has a long history of including local writers in the annual festival and is happy to include local authors’ videos this year as well.

In an effort to support these authors, the DIRWF is offering the festival’s videos free of charge. Please enjoy and share the videos, explore the festival website, and support these authors by purchasing their books at your local community bookshop.

Access the festival from the comfort of your favourite recliner or that patio deck chair
right here on the website.
Enjoy!

HEADLINERS:

Caroline Adderson reminding readers of her debt to Anton Chekhov as she launches her new novel A Russian Sister. Caroline’s website.

Michael Christie talking about his fictional family saga, which culminates in the near future when old-growth trees have become a rarity. (Interview on CBC)

Libby Davies expounding on her life of political activism and social justice.

Mark Jaccard spelling out his prescriptions for a more sustainable world in the wake of the Covid-19 virus. (Video on YouTube)

Kate Harris sharing her amazing cycling adventure along Asia’s fabled Silk Road. (Interview on YouTube)

Anosh Irani telling stories about his own Indo/Canadian life and those of his fictional characters.

Jónína Kirton reading and giving background for her poetry and her Icelandic/Indigenous ancestry.

Brian Goldman commenting on his life and experiences as an ER physician, national radio host and recent book on kindness. (Video on YouTube)

Peggy Herring taking us to the 18th century Olympic peninsula for her researched story of a shipwrecked Russian woman’s life among the native people.

Tetsuro Shigematsu opening his world of theatrical mysteries and storytelling performance. (Video on YouTube)

LOCAL DENMAN ISLAND WRITERS:

Lucy Dabbs reading her memoir, Senior Year, inspired by her senior year at an international school in Japan.

Bill Engleson reading his short story, The Beans.

Stewart Goodings reading his short story, Love in the Cold War.

Graham Hayman reading his short story, The Cap at Kits Beach (or Yellow is My Favourite Colour).

Lorraine Martinuik reading a collection of her poems inspired by “sheltering in place” and reflects her home on Taystayic (Denman Island).

Jo-Anne McLean discussing how she convinces readers to suspend their disbelief when reading books with supernatural elements using examples from Secret Sky, the first of seven books in The Gift Legacy series.

Carolyne Montgomery reading from her short story, The Ginkgo Tree.

Howard Stewart reading a segment from his memoir, A Moment in Outer Mongolia.

This mini-fest will stay up on the DIRWF website for 2020, so you can view the videos more than once and at any time. We hope you enjoy the videos and perhaps you will be able to join us in 2021—provided we can get Dr. Bonnie Henry’s approval!

 

Online Writing and Reading Festivals – Part 1: When Words Collide – Calgary

This is Part 1 in a 3-part series about annually held writing and reading festivals that have moved online this year. The good news is that these festivals are now open to readers and writers all over the world!

(Link to Part 2 and Part 3)

For this first part, I asked Randy McCharles, the brains and driving force behind the very first WWC held in 2011 to tell us about the Calgary festival. I took part in this conference during its early years in Calgary, providing displays of books by Alberta authors in The Book Room. The conference was always sold-out every year, making for crowds of readers and authors, publishers and promoters, gathering together.

 

When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers

August 14 to 16, 2020

Since its humble beginnings in 2011 as a regional literary festival set in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, When Words Collide has grown to become the largest festival of its kind in Canada, attracting speakers and attendees from across the country and from around the world. Each year in early August, attendees look forward to three days of presentations, discussions, and workshops celebrating the written word. With almost 200 presenters participating across a dozen concurrent tracks of programming, there is always something of interest each hour of every day. And if you do take a break in the program, there is a book room, an art show, and several areas to engage in social activities. Past speakers have included Tasha Alexander, Kelly Armstrong, Peter V. Brett, Rachel Caine, Diana Gabaldon, Guy Gavriel Kay, Faith Hunter, Brandon Mull, Brandon Sanderson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Jack Whyte. Like many festivals and conventions, due to the coronvirus pandemic, When Words Collide 2020 has been postponed to 2021. In its place, on August 14-16 there will be a free virtual festival consisting of 5 tracks of programming. This festival is open to the public at no charge, and no registration is required. Just drop in and attend any virtual sessions that appeal to you. Also this year as part of our online festival, we are hosting the 2020 Aurora Awards, honouring the best in Canadian speculative fiction. When Words Collide is 100% volunteer run. Organizers, presenters, and helpers all volunteer their time and talents to make this non-profit festival a top-notch networking experience for booklovers. For those considering attending for the first time, past festival programs are available on the web site to offer a feel for what happens. If you are a lover of books and enjoy networking with authors and other readers, maybe When Words Collide is for you.

Attend free from anywhere in the world on the When Words Collide website.

The only aspects missing from this year’s conference will be … the live audiences!

And the book room and vendors market …

 

 

 

Promotional posters from previous years of the

When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers!

 

And when I set up a special display of my own novel, Island in the Clouds, at the festival, I had the great pleasure of attracting these three similarly tropical-clad gents!

 

I even met a Klingon at one of the festivals! You just never know who is going to show up at When Words Collide!!

 

A-R International: Rohini Sunderam

Rohini Sunderam
Authors-Readers International

A Canadian of Indian origin living in Bahrain, Rohini Sunderam dabbles in all kinds of verse, satirical, funny, and contemplative as well as prose if the mood so grabs her. She has contributed to several anthologies by Robin Barratt.

Rohini is a semi-retired advertising copywriter. She has written two books as commissioned assignments, had articles published in The Statesman, Calcutta, India, The Globe & Mail, Canada, and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Her poems have been selected in international competitions for publication in Poetry Rivals (Remus House, UK) 2012; Dilliwali (Bushra Alvi Razzak, India) and Quesadilla & Other Adventures (2019 Somrita U Ganguly).

Her books Corpoetry, Desert Flower and Five Lives – One Day in Bahrain are published by Ex-L-Ence UK. Her poem Birth Pangs and her entry in a Rhyming Riddle contest (7th place) are featured in The Society of Classical Poets Journal VII (May 2019) & VIII. Her story: Your rebirth, My death short-listed in The Atlantis Short Story Contest 2013 was published by Expanded Horizons (September 2018). Winner: Oapschat, U.K (2014). Participant in the Colours of Life annual poetry festival in Bahrain since 2012. She is a founding member and recently retired director of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.

~

Even though we share Canadian nationality, I have only met Rohini Sunderam online through her fellow-Bahrainian author, Seumas Gallacher, who has previously been promoted in the Authors-Readers International series. I promoted Rohini’s books on my blog Reading Recommendations (see links below) and then she honoured me by asking if I would judge the entries for one of the writing challenges held by the Bahrain Writers’ Circle. Here’s the blog post I published about the experience that includes a link to the BWC challenge results.

~

Five Lives – On Day in Bahrain

Five Lives – One day in Bahrain is set in the year 2007, but it’s a story that could apply to almost any time. It traces the lives of five very different people, a housemaid from Sri Lanka; a municipal garbage truck driver from India; a Filipina hairdresser and beauty salon manager; a British banker, and a young Bahraini man.

The five prayer times that Muslims observe are used to punctuate the different periods in the day and the story’s action. Through the course of the day, we learn of the individuals’ lives and hopes until a point when they are all brought together and their lives intertwine.

Who connects with whom? Discover unsung heroes. This is an uplifting story that celebrates ordinary people in extraordinary ways.

Desert Flower
by Zohra Saeed

A Short Story – Love blooms in 1930s Bahrain…

“His deep voice was soft as the waters in the bay on a summer night and his words were the most magical I had ever heard. They sent a thrill racing through my body like a hundred tiny Arab horses galloping down my spine.

I closed my eyes with an effort to shut out his face, then opened them again, the tension of his loving words made me want to touch his lips and trace the soft bow of his mouth…”

1930s Bahrain, oil has just been discovered in the Middle East and Andrew MacInnis from Canada has come to work there.

Andrew visits a Bahraini carpet merchant, who does not speak English. The merchant calls for his daughter, Noor, to act as interpreter.

Noor is a devout Muslim and as such must not expose her face to men outside of her immediate family.

She acts as translator for her father and although he never leaves the two alone, under his very nose, Andrew and Noor get to know each other and fall desperately in love. The lovers secretly plot to run away but the risks are terrible. Noor’s father may send members of the family to hunt them down and kill them.

Do they escape? Will Noor have the nerve to follow Andrew’s plan or will centuries of a formidable culture and Noor’s upbringing prevent these two young lovers from following their hearts?

Here’s an interview with Rohini Sunderam with the Najla Qamber Designs website.

And here’s a video of Rohini reading her poem Perfect Ice Cream at the Bahrain Writers’ Circle conference in 2018.

Rohini Sunderam is currently working on: Finishing my longtime work in progress (in search of an agent!) a full-length novel set in Bahrain during the Second World War, as well as ghost-writing a book for a prominent Bahrain-based businessman.

Rohini Sunderam has twice been a guest on Reading Recommendations: in Nov. 2015 and Jan. 2017.

A-R International: Blaine Greenwood

Blaine Greenwood
Authors-Readers International

Blaine Greenwood, born in Viking Alberta 1951, is an educator by profession – with a career spanning from classroom teacher to museum educator and event planner. It is from this foundation that Blaine’s poetry has come to reflect his interest in psychology, history and spirituality. His verse has been described as “dark, homespun, sensual, rich with images

Blaine was one of the Coordinators of MOST VOCAL Poets Society. He was until very recently one of the artistic directors of Lotos Land spoken word / poetry venue at Fort Macleod Alberta’s South Country Fair and a past main stage performer. He is currently the DJ for CKXU’s Not Your Mother’s Poetry and as that show’s host, participated in 100 Thousands Poets for Change event 2013 – 2015.

The title of Blaine’s first chapbook Walking Naked Down the Street describes the experience of a writer baring his soul to the public as well as some of Blaine’s earliest attempts at poetry. Blaine’s first book was Black Cat in the Shadows. Second to be published by Ekstasis Editions The False Mirror is Blaine’s collection of prose poems about Matisse, Magritte and Dali. There are at least fou more manuscripts in various stages of writing and editing.

Blaine holds a B.Ed. and Diploma in Educational Media from the University of Alberta and lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with his wife, Dee.

~

I met Blaine Greenwood when the first Lethbridge Word on the Street Festival was being organized. Blaine interviewed me for a weekly show he hosted on CKXU Radio, Not Your Mother’s Poetry. Blaine has always been a very supportive and encouraging force within the Alberta poetry community.

~

The False Mirror

Imagine three artists sitting at their easels about to represent the world around them. Take a subject as common as the human eye. Matisse just suggested the eye with two or three strokes of bold color and often hid his initials within those strokes. Magritte took the eye and turned it into a gigantic advertising poster – with clouds floating in the iris. And then there was Dali … the eye appears, suspended in mid-air over a sky, like a bruise glassy and weeping.

The title The False Mirror is taken from the painting by Magritte. Magritte’s work takes ordinary objects and turns them into thought provoking mysteries. Dali, an ultra-surrealist. is an artist of dreamscapes that seem to scream for psychoanalysis. Matisse, who appears to be more serene of the three, is an artist that uses flat patches of intense color and tends towards an economy of line and shape.

These three artists –Matisse, Magritte and Dali – having experienced many common life experiences, represent their views of reality in radically different ways. Hopefully what this collection of poetry will cause you to do is see reality not just with your eyes but your mind and your imagination as well.

For more about Blaine Greenwood, please see his website.

Blaine Greenwood has been a guest previously on Reading Recommendations in Dec. 2015.

A-R International: Lisa Bowes

Lisa Bowes
Authors-Readers International

Lisa Bowes has been recognized across Canada for her work as a sports reporter, live host, anchor, play-by-play announcer and producer. While working for CBC, she was nominated for a Gemini Award for best writing in an information program or series.

She began her career as an editorial assistant at TSN in 1989. She later became a reporter for TSN in Winnipeg and Calgary. From 1997-1999 she was a commentator for TSN SportsDesk. She then joined The Score as weekend anchor & host/producer of Sports Axxess.

A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, she made Canadian broadcasting history in 2000 when she became the play-by-play voice for the National Women’s Hockey League. She later called basketball games for The Score, WTN & TSN2.

At the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, Lisa was CTV’s host/reporter for women’s hockey.

She worked as an anchor/reporter at CTV Calgary from 2004–2017.

~

I think I may have originally met Lisa Bowes through the Calgary publicist who set up media for publishers I represented, and who knew all the media personalities in the city. In any case, Lisa contacted me for advice when she had the idea of writing a series of children’s books about Olympic sports. She has gone on since then to successfully write and publish five books in the series, and has plans to write more! I did promote Lisa on Reading Recommendations several times, as well. Recently though, during this current pandemic, Lisa Bowes has found a unique and brilliant way to reach out to her readers and promote books to children and their families – safely! – by offering what she is calling “curbside readings” held in driveways around Calgary! Masks and social distancing required, of course! (See below for video link.)

~

Lucy Tries Sports

Created by veteran sports journalist Lisa Bowes, the Lucy Tries Sports series aims to promote inclusive physical literacy and encourage young readers to get involved in sports. Endorsed by elite athletes, the series focuses on participation and the importance of play. The books follow Lucy and her friends as they learn introductory skills in a variety of exciting sports, guided by coaches and teachers. Lucy’s eagerness to try new things will inspire all children to get outside and play.

Bowes points out that the Lucy books can be resources to encourage kids and families to try a variety of activities and live healthy lifestyles. A recent report in Canada indicates that many kids do not spend enough time doing physical activities. Only 39 per cent of children (aged five to 11) and youths (12 to 17) met the national physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, according to ParticipACTION, a non-profit group that promotes healthy living.

“Physical literacy is as important as math and reading,” Bowes said. “Being active means you can have a healthy life. Have kids try many different sports as opposed to specialization. Build a love of activity into your life.”

Lucy and Friends

Even though some kids cannot access ice rinks or sports fields, Bowes says introducing children to sports in any form is crucial to their physical, social, and emotional well-being.

“It breaks my heart when kids do not have access to sports and athletic opportunities. Because an active start equals an active life. But you can still teach children fundamental movement skills from the beginning, like catching and throwing. This can help give kids the confidence to try sports as opportunities arise.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, exercise is even more limited. However, Bowes stresses that being active with family members can build good habits later. “If people are walking and playing together more with their families, that’s something that will carry over once we’ve passed this.”

And when kids can join group activities again, Bowes emphasizes that enrolling in programs with friends means more opportunities for fun, socializing, and growth.

“Sign them up with friends. Make it easy for them to want to participate. Focus on the importance of having fun. No one needs to win at all costs.”

Here’s an article from #CampCaribu‘s summer reading program.

And this is a video from Calgary CTVNews about Lisa’s curbside readings.

 

What Lisa Bowes is working on now:
In addition, Bowes is collaborating on a dance book with First Nations communities that teaches indigenous dances.

“This is a chance for Lucy and Friends to learn about the power of dance and culture in First Nations communities. I see this as an opportunity to participate in the reconciliation efforts with First Nations communities in Canada.”

Bowes leads writing residency programs for school-age children, and gives them a chance to write their own Lucy stories. They have contributed self-made books featuring a variety of “Lucy Tries” activities, from surfing to archery to yoga. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Bowes has led curbside readings of her books, sharing the Lucy stories from a safe social distance.

For more information about Lisa Bowes and the series, please see Orca Books‘ website.

Lisa Bowes has been a guest on Reading Recommendations three times: Dec. 2013, Feb. 2014 and Dec. 2014.

A-R International: Lee Gowan

Lee Gowan
Authors-Readers International

Lee Gowan is a Canadian novelist.

Gowan grew up on a farm near Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and studied at the University of British Columbia, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. Gowan is presently based in Toronto where he heads the creative writing program at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto.

At the 1996 Gemini Awards, Gowan was nominated for his screenplay Paris or Somewhere. In 2002 his novel Make Believe Love was nominated for the Trillium Award for Best Book in Ontario.

In 2006 his novel The Last Cowboy was published by Albin Michel in France as Jusqu’au bout du ciel.

Lee Gowan is the author of the novels Confession, The Last Cowboy, and Make Believe Love.  He also published the critically acclaimed story collection Going to Cuba, and wrote the award-winning screenplay for Paris or Somewhere.

Also, you may read about his multimedia story, My Father’s House, on his website. Here’s an excerpt:

My Father’s House is a multimedia story that explores impermanence. What else can we count on in this life but change?

On the other hand, the house I grew up in was the house my father lived in his entire life, so it represented permanence for him.

It goes without saying, all of the writing is mine. What use would it be to you? If you do have some use for it, please ask my permission before using.

The photos are mostly mine too, though I have borrowed a few from family (Ray Gowan, Jessi Gowan) and friends (Laura Murray and Ranjini George Philip) and from the public domain.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

~

I was the southern Saskatchewan sales rep for Fifth House when Lee Gowan published his first book, Going to Cuba. But it wasn’t until decades later that we actually met in person, and in Toronto … I had arranged to meet with author Ranjini George who has already been featured in this Authors-Readers International series. Ranjini had recently married Lee, so it was my great pleasure to be able to chat with both of them over coffee!

~

Confession

Eight years since I’ve seen my parents’ graves, and if I haven’t visited it’s a safe bet that neither has anyone else. Maybe a few of the curious, assuming that anyone is still curious about such things. Not a week goes by that I don’t think of them there, under their shared granite slab. They died a day apart, my mother the one day and my father the next, so one stone seemed appropriate and more cost-effective. Not that I paid. I just mean that it must have seemed more appropriate and cost-effective to the man who did pay for the pretty pink rock and the engraving and had them buried side by side. They’re within reach, but they never touch. How so like the world of the living.

You don’t entirely appreciate how alone you are until you’ve lost your parents.

In the beginning, we piled stones on graves to stop wild animals from digging up the remains of our loved ones. I suppose those rough mounds served as markers as well, but the principal reason we piled them so high and wide was because we didn’t want to come back to find our parents’ bones strewn around like any other animal’s. Nowadays, with coffins and fancy fenced-off graveyards in the middle of the city, you don’t have to worry about anything eating your dead parents. We’ve almost run out of things to worry about.

I’m kidding. I wouldn’t even mention it, but down east here, people tend not to know when you’re kidding.

From this award-winning, acclaimed writer comes a searingly powerful novel that portrays how one fateful, brutal day in the life a young prairie man reverberates far beyond imagining – a brilliant portrayal of the struggle between fate and faith.

In the suffocating town of Broken Head, Saskatchewan, Dwight Froese confesses to having killed his father in a duel, maintaining that he was avenging the murder of his mother, whose body had been found floating in a nearby creek the day before. But when the coroner rules the woman’s death an accident, Dwight’s certainty is shattered. In the explosive tale that follows, he attempts to reconcile the violent legacy he has inherited with what it will take to forge a new life for himself – and the complicated relationships with the various townspeople that develop as a result.

What Lee Gowan is working on now: I’m working on a new novel, but it is still very much in progress.

For more information about Lee Gowan, his teaching, writing and books, please see his website.

A-R International: E.C. Bell

E.C. Bell
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Ryan Parker of PK Photography

I write paranormal mystery and urban fantasy in many different forms — novels, novellas, short stories and flash fiction. Sometimes I play around in crime fiction and dystopian fiction (and I wrote a couple of really strange magic realism stories a while back) but I keep coming back to the paranormal, because ghosts are a laugh riot. Right?

I have two grown children, two dogs, and one husband. (I live with the dogs and the husband. The children I let loose on the world quite a few years ago.)

The two dogs are both rescues. Buddy is a 3 legged border collie, and Millie is a Shih Tzu with very few teeth and a bad attitude when it comes to Buddy. (Which is too bad, because we got Millie as a buddy for Buddy.)

I live in a round house that is in a perpetual state of renovation. Sometimes I would dearly love a straight wall or two, because I do have some nice paintings and photos I’d love to hang — but beyond that I quite like the place. The renovations I put up with, because my husband seems to LOVE doing same. Who am I to stop him?

This year we had to renovate because the house got hit by lightning. Really. (And yes, it’s just as scary as it seems on TV.)

Most years I am an Edmonton Oilers fan. This year we are back to sadness and sorrow, but that’s all right. October is just around the corner, and I can again feel hope.

Do I play sports myself?  Not so much.  I tried to learn darts — is it even a sport? — but it didn’t go well. The only sport I partake of is “walking the dog,” which can get a bit more energetic than I like when a rabbit hops by. (That happens more than you’d think.) Even a 3 legged dog can run like a bat out of hell when he sees a rabbit.

But mostly, I write, which makes my life one of coolest on the planet.

My debut paranormal mystery, Seeing the Light(2014) won the BPAA Award for Best Speculative Fiction Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award for Light Mystery. The fourth in the series, Dying on Second (2017) won the Bony Blithe Award for Light Mystery, and was shortlisted for the Book Publishers Association of Alberta award for Best Speculative Fiction.  Book 5, Hearing Voices, was released into to wild in October 2018. Book 6, Haunting the Haunted, was published in October, 2019. (I sense a trend here!)

When I’m not writing, I’m living a fine life in my round house with my husband and our two dogs.

~

I believe I likely met Eileen Bell at one of the first When Words Collide conferences held in Calgary. She had collaborated on a book with three other Alberta authors, and they collectively called themselves The Apocalyptic Four. I posted a promotion of the book to my Reading Recommendations blog. Then later, I promoted Eileen and her own books three more times on that blog. (See links below.) When I was back in Alberta for a visit and heading up to Edmonton to visit family there, I put out a call on social media to meet up with authors who I’d promoted and get-together over coffee. Eileen Bell was the only author to show up for that, so we had a good private chat about writing, books, and promotion. I’m so happy to see that Eileen has continued to write and publish her own series of books, has just finished writing #7, and is working on #8!

~

Haunting the Haunted

A Marie Jenner Mystery #6

Marie Jenner just wants things to stay the same.

Life is finally starting to look up for Marie. Her brand-new business—moving on ghosts for actual money—is taking off. Her relationship with James Lavall is rock solid. All she has to do is find the last two poltergeists from the ball diamond and move them on to the next plane of existence and, as far as she’s concerned, everything will be perfect.

The problem is, life has a way of kicking Marie in the teeth. Patrick Whitecroft, professional psychic debunker, shows up at the Jimmy Lavall Detective agency, out to prove that she’s a fake—live, on TV—and he doesn’t care who he hurts to do it. Even worse, he has over a hundred desperate spirits bound to him, and they want something completely different. They want to be saved.

As Marie tries to help the spirits and keep Patrick from dismantling her life, she finally finds the poltergeists. But they’re not interested in moving on. They want Patrick Whitecroft’s spirits for themselves. If Marie can’t figure out a way to move all the spirits on to the next plane of existence, the poltergeists will happily take them, so they can create an army bent on revenge.

Looks like Marie’s life is going to get interesting. Again.

What E.C. Bell is working on now: I just finished Book 7 in the series. I don’t have a title for it yet—or should I say I have too many titles, so my publisher gets to pick! In this one, Marie goes on a holiday. She ends up in Las Vegas, to move on James Lavall’s Uncle Jimmy, and it doesn’t go well. (As usual.) This one will be out at the beginning of 2021.

Usually the new books come out in October every year, but we put back the publishing date for this one so that the rest of the books could be relaunched with new ebook covers. It was all very exciting, but I’m ready for the new book to be out!

Right now I’m working on Book 8, (working title Saving the Girl,) the last book in the series. I’m feeling some feelings about the whole thing, because I’ve lived with Marie Jenner and her crew for a long time now. It’s hard to say good-bye!

This book will be out in 2022, and I have no idea what I’ll do after that!

For more information on E.C, Bell, please see her website.

E.C. Bell has been featured (as Eileen Bell) on Reading Recommendations three times, Oct. 2014, Feb. 2016, May 2017, and as a member of The Apocalyptic Four.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A-R International: Antanas Sileika

Antanas Sileika
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Irmantas Gelunas

Antanas Sileika (Antanas Šileika) is a Canadian novelist and critic.

He was born in Weston, Ontario.

After completing an English degree at the University of Toronto, he moved to Paris for two years and there married his wife, Snaige Sileika (nee Valiunas), an art student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  While in Paris,  he worked as part of the editorial collective of the expatriate literary journal, Paris Voices, run from the upstairs room of the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company.

Upon his return to Canada in 1979, Antanas began teaching at Humber College and working as a co-editor of the Canadian literary journal, Descant, where he remained until 1988.

He became involved through journalism  with Lithuania’s restitution of independence during the fall of The Soviet Union 1988-1991, and for this activity he received the Knight’s Cross medal from the Lithuanian government in 2004.

A past winner of a national magazine award, he retired in June of 2017 as the director for the Humber School for Writers in Toronto.

After writing for newspapers and magazines, Antanas published his first novel, Dinner at the End of the World (1994), a speculative story set in the aftermath of global warming.

His second book, a collection of linked short stories, Buying On Time (1997), was nominated for both the City of Toronto Book Award and the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, and was serialized on CBC Radio’s Between the Covers. In 2016, almost twenty years later, it was long-listed for Canada Reads and the translation was short-listed in Lithuania for Book of the Year. The book traces the lives of a family of immigrants to a Canadian suburb between the fifties and seventies. Some of these stories were anthologized in Dreaming Home, Canadian Short Stories, and the Penguin Anthology of Canadian Humour. Antanas has published three more novels and a memoir.

Antanas Sileika has worked frequently as a reviewer of books for radio, television, and print.

~

When I enrolled in the Humber School for Writers in 2006 to their online programme (I was living full-time on Bequia then, so online learning was new to me and very convenient), Antanas Sileika was the director. I did not meet him in person during the course, but I attended a session at Humber College later when I was back in Toronto for a visit, and I met him then. We also met up years later at the University of Calgary when we both attended a Canadian conference on creative writing programmes. I had set up a table displaying books by authors I was promoting, many of whom were also present at that conference. Antanas is now retired from that position of director and is concentrating on his own writing. I’ve read his most recent novel (below) and found the historical fiction about his parents’ homeland of Lithuania fascinating. And, needless to say, very well written! (While Antanas was born in Canada and has lived most of his life in the country, I’m going to add to his A-RI listing that he is descended from Lithuanians, because that country plays a large part in all of his writing.)

~

Provisionally Yours

After World War I and the collapse of Czarist Russia, former counterintelligence officer Justas Adamonis returns to Lithuania, a fragment of the shattered Empire. He’s not entirely sure what he’ll find. His parents are dead, he hasn’t seen his sister since she was a teenager, and Kaunas has become the political center of the emerging state. He’s barely off the train when he’s recruited back into service, this time for the nascent government eager to secure his loyalty and experience. Though the administration may be new, its problems are familiar, and Adamonis quickly finds himself ensnared in a dangerous web of political corruption and personal betrayal. Antanas Sileika’s Provisionally Yours is a vivid depiction of realpolitik—as well as an unforgettable story about treachery and the enduring human capacity for love.

Read the review of Provisionally Yours in Publishers’ Weekly.

“Offers the delightful unearthing of a little-known corner of the world—post-war Lithuania. Espionage, illicit love, bureaucratic bungling, marvelous descriptions of food and drink, strong women, desperate men. And subtle humour. And ultimately sadness, brought on by amorality in the struggle for power. A fine read.” —David Bergen, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Time in Between

What Antanas Sileika is doing now:  I have a novel manuscript called Skylark, Badger, Mole out for consideration, set in The Soviet Union in the late fifties. And while the acquisition editor is thinking, I am completing a comic novel-in-progress called The Seaside Cafe Metropolis, loosely based on the opera, La Boheme and the Broadway Play, Rent.

For more information about Antanas Sileika, his books and writing, please see his website.

A-R International: Alison Wearing

Alison Wearing
Authors-Readers International

Alison Wearing is a Canadian writer and performer.

Her celebrated Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is both a bestselling memoir and a multiple award-winning solo play. The memoir was shortlisted for the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Nonfiction, nominated for the RBC/Taylor Prize for Non-Fiction, and was selected as an Indigo Books Top 50 Pick. The solo play has been featured in international theatre and literary festivals. Its numerous awards include Best Dramatic Script at New York City’s United Solo, the largest festival of solo theatre in the world.

Her most recent memoir, Moments of Glad Grace, has been heralded as “a wise, funny, and tender book, beautifully written and perfectly executed from first to last sentence” by Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi. She is also the author of the internationally acclaimed travel memoir Honeymoon in Purdah: an Iranian Journey.

~

I met Alison Wearing through Bequia-friend Anna Landry, who knew Alison because they were both living in Statford the summer I visited Anna there. Anna told me about Alison’s books, both of which I subsequently read and enjoyed, and I invited Alison to be promoted on Reading Recommendations. A week after that post was published, I wrote another post about my trip to The Bayfield Writers’ Festival. I mainly went to see, again, Marina Endicott (already promoted on this Authors-Readers International series) who I knew from my other life as a sales rep back in Alberta. Alison Wearing was also in the audience, so we finally met in person in Bayfield! Here’s a link to the blog post I wrote about that Festival.

~

Moments of Glad Grace: A Memoir

published by ECW Press

Moments of Glad Grace is a moving and witty memoir of aging, familial love, and the hunt for roots and belonging. The story begins as a trip from Canada to Ireland in search of genealogical data and documents. Being 80 and in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, Joe invites his daughter Alison to come along as his research assistant, which might have worked very well had she any interest — any at all — in genealogy.

Very quickly, the father-daughter pilgrimage becomes more comical than fruitful, more of a bittersweet adventure than a studious mission. And rather than rigorous genealogy, their explorations move into the realm of family and forgiveness, the primal search for identity and belonging, and questions about responsibility to our ancestors and the extent to which we are shaped by the people who came before us.

Though continually bursting with humor, Moments of Glad Grace ultimately becomes a song of appreciation for the precious and limited time we have with our parents, the small moments we share, and the gifts of transcendence we might find there.

“This is a wise, funny, and tender book, beautifully written and perfectly executed from first to last sentence. It’s about a daughter and her ageing father, it’s about genealogy and identity, it’s about Ireland, but actually it’s about how we love the ones we love.

Moments of Glad Grace is a travelogue of the heart.
It’s a road you’ll want to travel.”

~ Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi

What Alison Waring is working on now: Alison’s current project is Memoir Writing, ink., a 12-week online writing program, which guides people through the process of transforming personal stories into memoir.

For more information on Alison Wearing, her writing and books, performances, and writing program, please see her website.

Alison Wearing was a guest on Reading Recommendations in July 2015.