Category Archives: Reading Recommendations
Felicity Harley has been previously promoted on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and was also a guest on this blog, writing about book clubs. I recently assisted Felicity by beta-reading and polish-editing this latest novel of hers and was struck by the fact that she told me she was referring to it as “Science AND Fiction” rather than the better-known genre of Science Fiction, so I asked her to explain why.
I’ve always been a fan of science fiction. My favorite writers are Herbert, Asimov, Bradbury and Orwell. I tend to like science fiction writers who explore what happens to human beings within the context of societies like ours which divorce us from our essential humanity. That’s why I like Farenheit 451, 1984 and The End of Eternity.
I think Herbert was quite prescient when he wrote Dune, because he imagined a planet and human beings living there who had to exist without water. In fact, he was one of the first authors to popularize the importance of preserving our planet’s ecology. In my mind as well, all these authors in one way or another, examine the relationships between religion, politics and power, and also between bureaucracy and government.
Because of my own fascination with these themes, and because I’m also a student of social science by training, I set out to write a quartet of novels placing a group of humans in a futuristic society that had failed to stop runaway climate change. I was fascinated by Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything, and both she and her book served as inspirations to me.
Before reading Naomi Klein however, I had written what is now the fourth book in the quartet, My Quantum Life. This book was based on Michael Talbot’s book, The Holographic Universe. I have always been fascinated by the spiritual aspects of quantum physics, and Talbot’s book put the science of it all into perspective. It was very readable for a neophyte like myself, and it clicked.
The Burning Years is the first book in my four book series titled Until This Last and has just been published by Double Dragon Press. It explores a lot of hard science around space travel, bionics, and what is causing climate change. Besides Klein, my mentor for this book was Dr. Rachel Armstrong. On my site for the book you’ll find out all about her. She is a remarkable woman and a brilliant scientist. Dr. Rachel Chen, who in my novel is captain of the world ship Persephone, is based on how I imagine Armstrong to be. In my book, Persephone is a human ark; this actually exists, and is being conceived of right now by Rachel Armstrong and a team of scientists. It’s built around the idea of a renewable chemical technology called protocells. In the future, protocells could replace plastics and also animal products and will be essential in the preservation of our planet.
My ark explores Mars and Europa then sets sail for Alpha Centauri. The Australian scientist Wallace Thornhill was very helpful to me as I wrote these sections. He introduced me to an electrical universe and warm nuclear fusion technology, and I learned more from him on this subject than I ever thought I was capable. He would send me wonderful emails that took me several days to decode. His final words to me were, “Don’t worry about the science, leave that to scientists, use your writing as a springboard for your imagination.”
Besides hard science however, The Burning Years explores lots of ways we could live on a burnt out planet in the future, and it has two re-engineered transhuman beings who do just that. Introducing them as characters allowed me to explore the whole field of Artificial Intelligence and how two super humans, a male and female, might think and act. Again the social scientist at play. How would their biology, psychology and past influence them. How would their male and female genetics and gender-biases, play a part?
The arc of the plot is set against a U.S. government of plutocrats that has fled underground, who have saved themselves and a few others, the brightest and the best. Of course there are insurgents, and one of them is a female scientist who is heavily involved in geo-engineering the weather. The book takes place about sixty years in the future, just around the time when we may experience dramatic effects from climate change.
I deliberately did not want to write a dystopian book, but one that was full of hope based on our finer instincts as a species, our desire to return to smaller communities, and our current and future knowledge of technology. I am not good with violence, unlike George R.R. Martin who very skillfully explores all those dark sides of humanity and creates fabulous villains. My villains tend to be more grey and struggle internally with a lot of philosophical and moral dilemmas. My women are very strong, just like Martin’s, and my main female character, Inanna. would definitely be friends with Daeneyrs Targaryen.
Now I just have to figure out how to get people to take climate change seriously. I plan to use the book as a tool to get readers involved. The Burning Years is being published as an eBook by Double Dragon Publishing in April 2017. I chose Deron Douglas as my publisher because he loved the book on first read, and I just couldn’t take a chance waiting for other big-name SF publishers to give me an answer.
Please check out my site to buy the book and I would appreciate it if you review it on Amazon for me. And, while on my site, see how you can become involved with 350.org or any other organizations working to stop elements of man-made climate change, so as to keep our planet safe and livable in the future.
Felicity’s new novel has recently been promoted on Reading Recommendations. She is also a fellow-Bequian!
READERS will also find this interesting (and they can *see below how they may help), but …
This post is mainly for all you angst-ridden authors out there who moan and groan about how little promotion and publicity you receive for the books you publish. Yes, it’s true, there are definitely fewer outlets reviewing books or interviewing authors. So what are we supposed to do to get the word out and attract new readers to our work?
I have a cunning plan!
When I ePublished my first novel, I received “some” attention (i.e. Not a lot …) for my efforts, but I carried on regardless and continued to promote other authors, as well as my own books, through my business Alberta Books Canada. Then I moved back to the Caribbean and become much more involved in the online writing community, especially with regards to indie authors around the world who were in the same boat as me – wondering how the heck to promote our books effectively. And how to attract new readers to books in general.
Once I became part of that community – of bloggers as well as indie authors – I realized there really WAS a lot of promotion available out there, and simply for the asking. We bloggers all usually have the same problem: what to write about for the next blog post. I discovered there were many sites looking for authors to interview and books to review, and also that were interested in posting guest spots on various subjects. So I began searching for blogs that would be interested in me and my books. Once I had a few links collected of my own promotions, I created a dedicated page for the novel on my own blog. If you click on Island in the Clouds and scroll down the page you’ll see I’ve added every link I could find. (Hint … Use Google to seach not only your own name, but the title(s) of your book(s). You’ll be amazed what comes up there!) This list on my blog is for the benefit of readers who may be interested in finding out more about me and my books. Only now I’m letting all those other sites do the talking for me.
In Nov. 2013, I began publishing another blog, Reading Recommendations, and have promoted more than 300 authors there for over 3 years. Many, many, many of these authors have “paid” me back in kind by reading and reviewing my books, interviewing me, or allowing me to post a guest spot on their blogs. I promote them, they promote me back!
So that’s how I managed to amass such an impressive looking list of promotion links for my novel!
But rather than just sit on my laurels and allow that page and those promotions to go unnoticed, I have regularly gone back to ensure those links were still valid and even reposted them all, one at a time, to social media, either Facebook or Twitter for me, thereby breathing new life into what were at the time (and still are!) excellent promotions of me and my books.
So … here’s my cunning plan for all of you out there looking for FREE ways to continue promoting your work – Do as I have done and repost any links to promotion you’ve received in the past. To make it easier on yourself, I suggest you create a page, as I did, and list everything there. That way it’s easy-peasy to go to the page, click on each link, and share it again, and at any time. I also have a Facebook page for my novels now, Bequia Perspectives Novels by Susan M. Toy, and post to that first then share on my personal Facebook page. My reasoning for reposting all of this early promotion is that I’ve attracted new readers and friends and fans over the years since these links were first published, so there’s bound to be someone out there who will be interested in reading them.
But the other thing I hope will happen – and this is the kicker, is that one of those readers who sees my reposting of promotion on social media will think enough of it to want to share with their own friends. And that, folks, is the beauty of social media … you just have no idea how far these shares will travel or who might be introduced to you and your books simply because you reposted an old promotion. Remember … no matter how long ago you may have published, your book is always new to a reader who has never read it!
Now, because I also promote other authors on my Reading Recommendations blog, I decided to start the repromotion ball rolling for that group and ran this announcement to the Facebook page, Reading Recommendations – a blog for Readers:
Here’s a promotion tip for all authors who have been featured on Reading Recommendations and reading recommendations reviewed … You’re always most welcome to re-post your promotion links anywhere, on your own website, blog and social media. You might just manage to attract new readers to your own work. I’ve been working through the lists alphabetically, trying to repost all of your promotions, but if each of you were to do this for yourselves, as well as for one or two of your fellow authors I’ve featured, there’s no telling how far the reach would be – for everyone! Besides, it’s free promotion and you’ve gotta love that!
That was a couple of days ago and, so far, I’ve noticed only 1 (ONE!) author has taken my suggestion and reposted all her RR promotions to social media. But she’s an author who constantly promotes my blog as well as promotions for other authors, so I wasn’t surprised. I am disappointed, however, that no one else has taken me up on the suggestion. So that’s why I decided to write this blog post, explaining the idea once again, and I hope to reach more of you out there. I encourage you to do as I do, in this case, and promote the pants off of whatever promotion you already have! And, while you’re at it, promote one or two – or more!, of your fellow authors, as well, because it’s not all about you, ya know … and it’s the right thing to do, so let’s share that love around!
The other thing that will happen is you will draw attention to those original links again, to the bloggers and sites where you were promoted – and, believe me, that renewed interest and increased traffic for old posts will not go unnoticed by those bloggers! You’ll be doing them a favour by attracting new readers to their sites, as well.
There you go! How to ensure FREE continuing promotion that’s right under your nose … Now get out there and share!
(And, please, I absolutely, positively encourage you to reblog this blog post on your own blog!)
*READERS, I haven’t forgotten you! Please consider getting in on this idea of free promotion by helping your favourite authors reach new readers. Whenever you see a promotion link posted, share it among your own friends, tell your book club/local library/local bookstore about the author and their books. We appreciate all the help we can get, but when you recommend our books to other readers and make them fans, that’s just pure gold! And we can’t thank you enough!
These past few years (2015 and 2014), I’ve wrapped up twelve months of blogging by listing my favourite bloggers who I have subscribed to and read, and whose blogs I believe would be of interest to my readers. Chris Graham (aka The Story Reading Ape) created this nifty badge that any of the bloggers on my list are welcome to add to their own blogs!
This year’s list is going to look a bit like a roundup of the usual suspects, as so many of my favourite bloggers continue to post to their blogs and write so well. A few of those old favourites have stopped blogging, but there are a few new discoveries this year, and one is a former book publishing colleague who is absolutely new to blogging just this week! So I’ll begin my list this year with the newbies-to-me, for variety sake.
Please do click on the links and check out these great bloggers, if you have not already discovered them yourselves. Follow them! Some offer promotion and they review books or interview authors or host guest posts, many post valuable information on writing and the book biz, even about food and restaurants, and not just a few are also authors in their own right and have been featured on my blog (I’ve linked to their promotion pages), a couple are editors, and there are a couple of longtime personal friends (meaning, I’ve actually met them face-to-face!) in this list, as well.
And a new blog by retired publisher Ginny Miller and her husband that I look forward to following. Leaving Ourselves Behind will report on their travels throughout the world.
And the Usual Suspects!
Matilda Magtree – Carin Makuz
Canary Gal – Gwenith Whitford
Bill Corbett – Marathon Mouth
And a very special mention goes to two extremely inspired blogs that are still being published:
If you happen to be looking for some great books to read, check out my Best Books Read in 2016 series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Or have a look at my two other blogs: Reading Recommendations and reading recommendations reviewed.
When I posted Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I didn’t take into consideration that the year was not yet over and I might read more books I highly recommend in those remaining weeks – and, indeed, I have! (I also discovered a few books I had overlooked when compiling my first two lists.) Links for authors featured on Reading Recommendations are included. Every book listed here is rated at 5 stars from me.
So, here we go with THE REST OF THE LIST!
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women by Mary Smith
(No More Mulberries, also by Mary Smith, is listed as a Best Book Read in Part 1 of this series.)
Baudelaire’s Revenge, a novel by Bob Van Laerhoven
Celtic Lightning: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation by Ken McGoogan
Belle of Batoche by Jacqueline Guest
And BIG congratulations to Jacqueline Guest who has just been named a Member of the Order of Canada by Governor General David Johnson!
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts
by Joshua Hammer
And … the very-most-recent book, a novella, by Fredrik Backman that has been translated into English!
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
See my rave about Fredrik Backman’s other books I read this year in Part 2 of this series.
And, looking ahead into 2017, I’ve had the great pleasure, and honour, of reading an advance copy of Felicity Harley‘s new novel, The Burning Years, which will be published in the spring. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you hear about this book the moment it becomes available. Not only is it well written, but I believe it’s going to be a very important book for everyone to read. (Felicity has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations and has had a lifelong association with the island of Bequia.)
It’s lovely, and somehow very fitting, to receive the first photo in the Where/Who in the World is Reading One Woman’s Island??? from none other than the great Seumas Gallacher – the author, reader, blogger, singer, supporter, pal, Billy Connolly-loving, Glaswegian-speaking, kilt-wearing Scotsman who now happens to live in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi!
Here he stands with my eBook cover visible on his eReader …
Says Seumas: From one island to another .. . from the shores of Bahrain to those of Bequia… Master Gallacher… proud owner of his Kindle copy of m’Lady, Susan’s masterpiece! Cheeeeeeeers 🙂
Thank you, Seumas!
Seumas has been a guest over at my other blog, Reading Recommendations, several times now. Head on over there to see what he’s been writing and publishing. I’ve read every book That Man has created and I tell you truthfully I’ve immensely enjoyed reading every single one!
Earlier in the summer, I wrote and posted this to my blog: Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?
Then I asked Chris Graham, aka The Story Reading Ape, to create three memes that promoted three of the ideas I’d covered in this post: Ask for a meme …
For the purpose of this challenge, I want to focus on the suggestion in one of these memes …
Why not, indeed?
I recently began following two Facebook pages that were set up for the benefit of Readers. The gist of both sites was an exchange of reading recommendations and a place where readers could find out what they might want to read next. On the one site, there were a lot of rules posted restricting Indie Authors as to how much they could self-promote. Understandably so. However, authors were also restricted from posting links to our own blogs, and I was reprimanded by admin., even though my blog link in question was a list of the best books I had read this past year and not self-promotion at all. I’d apparently over-stepped the limit of one self-promotion post per week on the site. I’ve removed all my previous posts from that site and have stopped posting there altogether. I know, it is their site and they are allowed to make and administer the rules. But, in the meantime, other site members will never see that list of books by other authors I was recommending they consider reading. Not my own books, mind you, but the books of many other fine authors.
Meanwhile, I continue to read posts by other site members in which they’re asking for reading recommendations – and contributing to discussions surrounding reading books written by the same-old bestselling authors or series or genres that the members have already been reading. And no one is asking for something new, something different, something outside of their comfort zone. An author who is new-to-them who will make the reader stand up and take notice and have that reader recommending the author to every other reader they know.
So, this is my challenge to all readers out there … And this includes all authors, as well, because you’re all also readers, right? (If you answer “No” to that, then SHAME ON YOU! You SHOULD be reading. You can’t write well if you don’t read. But that leads us to another blog post: Writer = Reader. And I digress …)
Here’s what I challenge all Readers to do:
1. Discover a new-to-you author. Look for authors who write a different genre than you usually read.
2. Purchase a copy of their book or borrow from the library. (Preferably purchase. I understand if you can’t afford to buy. However, I give you the inimitable Seumas Gallacher as an example of someone who supports Indie Authors by making a point of purchasing one Indie-Authored book a month. That kind of committment is not going to break the bank.)
4. If you enjoyed what you read, tell your friends and other readers. And if you REALLY enjoyed what you read, become a champion of that author. Read more of their books. Follow them on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, their blog. Write a review if you like to write reviews. Post your recommendation to your own blog or social media sites. Spread the word about this new-to-you author as far as you possibly can. (If you want to write a review and don’t have your own blog or don’t like posting to Amazon, contact me about publishing your review on reading recommendations reviewed or this blog.)
5. Write to the author directly to tell them how much you enjoyed their book. Trust me! We love receiving fan mail!!
6. Repeat #s 1-5. Many times.
I know you’re probably thinking, “It’s easy for her to say. She’s an author who has connections to lots of other authors and knows where to find new books to read. Where the heck am I going to find these new-to-me authors and their books?”
Well, yes, I am well connected, but I have discovered many of the authors I now enjoy reading by watching for listings on Goodreads, Facebook, and mainly through other bloggers. So here’s a list of places where you might consider looking for suggestions on the next great book you’re going to read so you may become part of my challenge!
And blogs written by many friends who support their fellow authors:
Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life, Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore
Chris The Story Reading Ape – Authors Hall of Fame
Allan Hudson – South Branch Scribbler
Tricia Drammeh – Authors to Watch
Dylan Hearn – Suffolk Scribblings: Recommended Reads
Anne Logan – I’VE READ THIS
Mary Bailey – 1WriteWay: A Different Kind of Book Review
There are many, many more. I leave it up to you, Readers, to discover the best places for finding your own new-to-you authors. Don’t forget the local library, too! Most libraries have websites, and librarians are always eager to create and post lists of books that will be of interest to their patrons. (And, thanks to Calgary Public Library, my novel, Island in the Clouds, has been listed on two such lists, their Around the World in 14 Mysteries and Accidental Sleuths recommendations!)
One other source for discovering new-to-you authors – especially poets, in this case – and even new-to-you music, as well, is Bob Chelmick’s The Road Home. This is 24-hour streaming of Bob’s radio program’s that have long been featured on CKUA Radio. Give it a listen. It’s addicting!! (I’m listening as I write this and just heard one of my favourite authors, Robert Kroetsch, reading his poetry.)
So, off you go! You’ll find a lot of fun in the discovery, but I hope you find even more enjoyment in the reading!
Ready, set … READ!
(No need to comment here that you’re taking my challenge, unless you do find a new-to-you author you’d like to crow about. I always welcome accolades for authors! And if you already review books and authors on your own blog, please include your link in the comments section below.)
In Part 1, I listed all the Indie-Authored Books I had read this year that I considered to be the Best Books I Read in 2016.
During 2016, I was fortunate to read many other books, traditionally published, that I considered to be excellent. Some authors I list here are new-to-me and were recommended by reader friends – who definitely did not steer me wrong! Other authors are long-time favourites, some who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations and this blog (links to those promotions are included here), and a few are personal friends who I have known for many years in real life and whose writing I have always enjoyed.
These books are not listed in any particular order at all, but every one receives at least a 5-star rating from me.
So I give you Part 2 of the Best Books I Read in 2016!
A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, Brett-Marie Was Here
by Fredrik Backman
Without a doubt, Backman is one of the very best “discoveries” in years! Not only are all three novels good, the writing is consistently good and I am now a fan for life, eagerly waiting for the next book by this author to be translated into English and available to read. If I were to rate books, I would give this author 11 stars on a scale of 10.
Running Toward Home and Odd One Out by Betty Jane Hegerat
I recently reread Running Toward Home, Betty Jane’s first published novel, and read her new novel, Odd One Out, shortly after it was released. As with everything Betty Jane writes, i enjoyed both immensely!
Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
Sadly, this was his final book as Doig died earlier this year. He had long been one of my favourite authors.
Brief Encounters by Brian Brennan
What’s Left Behind by Gail Bowen
The 16th book in Bowen’s Joanne Kilbourn novels and I have every one! I was Gail’s sales rep for the first book way back in the early 90s.
Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
Mennonites Don’t Dance by Darcie Friesen Hossack, published by Thistledown Press
I reread this book recently and it’s now available as an eBook. Darcie and I first “met” online when we were students in the Humber School of Creative Writing, but did not meet in person until she published this collection of short stories in 2010.
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
The Ballroom by Anna Hope
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Well-deserved winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Number 6 in the Department Q series of crime novels by an accomplished Danish author. I’ve read them all and am eagerly awaiting the next in the series.
In the Woods (series) by Tana French
I thought so highly of the writing of this first novel by French that I immediately read the next three in the Dublin Murder Squad series and have the fifth book on hold at the library.
The Three Sisters Bar & Hotel by Katherine Govier
Nutshell by Ian McEwan
McEwan is another long-time faourite author who never disappoints. With this book, I think he may win the award for “Most Unusual Narrator Ever”! (AND … I just discovered Ian and I share the same birthday, June 21st!)
Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: an organizing guide by Daniel Hunter
I received a free download of this book and found it a fascinating read on organizing activists. An excellent book for these current times …
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
Lewis and I not only worked at similar jobs during our careers (bookseller, sales rep, writer), we repped the same publisher at the same time during the 1990s! The link above will take you to the blog post I wrote about Lewis and his book.
And here’s a link to Part 3 in this series.
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.
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?)
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.
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 …
Not because they’re written by a man or a woman,
Or by a non-white or a person of a particular ethnic group,
Or written by someone from a specific country … or not THAT SAME country, yet again.
Or because someone else has told us that we MUST read it, or it has won a big award. (Awards are not always the best indicator of the quality of the writing.)
Why not read a book that’s from a different genre than you usually read?
Or non-fiction instead of fiction (or vice versa), poetry instead of memoir, children’s books (to recapture your childhood!) instead of academic and scholarly.
Or how about choosing a book with a different setting, one you’re not familiar with, or possibly a setting that doesn’t exist in this world at all?
Or read a book about people and events you don’t relate to in your life, but instead one that introduces you to new experiences and new people, new possibilities.
Leave your comfort zone behind … Read dangerously!
Don’t read a book because you’re told it’s the next Gone Girl or Girl on a Train. Harry Potter or Twilight.
(You do realize that these are marketing ploys dreamed up by publishers to encourage more sales, right? That’s what bestseller lists are all about. Or “If you liked this then you will like that …” all to convince you to try something you may not have otherwise picked up, simply because it compares favourably to something you’ve already enjoyed.)
Why not read a book BECAUSE it’s unique, it’s different from what you normally read, and is written by a new-to-you author?
What’s so wrong, or scary, about that?
I’m suggesting you reconsider your criteria for choosing what to read next and go with a book you have heard is simply well-written instead of for the reasons listed above.
Perhaps you’ve heard that the author has told the story well (fiction) or has handled the material in an expert manner (non-fiction) so the book is convincing and a pleasure to anyone who may read it.
And that the book is well-written regardless of who may have written it – no matter what their background, how many bestsellers they’ve published, or their writing experience.
If you only read traditionally published books, read a book written and published by an indie author. If you only read print books, read an eBook. Mix things up a bit. Discover something new!
When we judge a book by the quality of its writing, we are giving that author their due. We are giving them credit for all their hard work in mastering their craft of writing, because they’ve managed to use that craft to entertain, enlighten, and possibly even educate us in a way we might never have realized was available to us before as readers. That book has opened new doors and convinced us of more that can be available, if we just open our minds to the possibilities.
As for where you may find these well-written books … The more you read and and the further afield you explore what’s available to be read, the better you will recognize what is good writing – for you! What YOU consider to be a well-written book. Because, in the end, it really is up to you, the reader, to decide.
If, after you begin reading, you realize the book is not as well written as you hoped, give yourself permission to set it aside, knowing that at least you gave it a try.
But always be adventurous! Check out some of the books I’ve recommended on my other blog, Reading Recommendations. Read some of the books that the authors I’ve promoted on the site have in turn recommended. Talk with your local librarians and other readers you trust.
Eventually you will become the best judge of what is a good book FOR YOU.
And now, please excuse me while I go back to reading a few well-written books!
(This rant was brought to you by my having read yet-another article “telling” readers that we MUST read more books written by this particular group of writers [insert nationality, ethnic group, gender here] … with no suggestion in the article at all about the quality of their writing being a factor. Harrumpf!)