From Bequia … All the Best for 2018!!!

So reads the Chinese curse that seems to have been operative during this past year we’ve all just endured. Let’s hope that, rather than continuing to be “interesting”, 2018 is instead a year full of hope and health and joy for everyone around the world, and that the good feelings at midnight tonight last far longer than simply the first 24-hours of the new year ahead of us.

Personally, I wish to thank all readers of this blog, and everyone who has read and enjoyed my publications! No author can write without readers … so suffice it to say that – YOU READERS KEEP ME WRITING!!! Thank you for all your support!

From our verandah on Bequia, Dennis and I wish everyone all the best for 2018!

Now … LET’S DANCE!!!

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2017 – My Favourite Blogs and Bloggers!

Out of necessity, I had to cut down drastically on the number of blogs I subscribe to and read – the number of good blogs out there was becoming impossible to keep up with on a daily basis! So I’ve narrowed down my list here to the truly GREAT blogs I continue to follow and read (and comment on and share) on a regular basis. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you will notice many familiar names. Some bloggers publish posts more than once a day and others are sporadic. But I can guarantee you will always find something of interest to read on these bloggers’ sites. Do check out each and every one of them and see if you agree with me, and I also hope you find a few new favourites to follow and read. (Sorry to those I didn’t list. There was a point where I had to cut off this list!!)

* Denotes the blogger is also a published author and it would be well worth it to check out what they’ve published!

** Denotes the blogger has promoted me and my books on their blog at some time or another.

**Chris, The Story Reading Ape – *Christopher Graham

**Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life – *Sally Cronin

**WHAT THE HELL – *Kevin Brennan

**A Creative State of Mind – *Tricia Drammeh

**blindoggbooks – *Tim Baker

**Seumas Gallacher – *Seumas Gallacher

**South Branch Scribbler – *Allan Hudson

**Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge – Karen Parker

**theshammuramat – *Felicity Harley

beetleypete – Pete Johnson

Leaving Ourselves Behind – Ginny & Stephen

**Betty Jane Hegerat: Canadian author of literary fiction – *Betty Jane Hegerat

Camino De Tim – *Timothy L. Phillips

*Brian Brennan Writer

Books Unpacked – *Merilyn Simonds

**Matilda Magtree and **The Litter I See Project – Carin Makuz

Paul Butler Novelist – *Paul F. Butler

Seth’s Blog – *Seth Godin

My Peacock Books – Cat Peacock

Marathon Mouth – *Bill Corbett

**Owlish Books – Loes M.

BookMarketingBuzzBlog

Canadian Bookworm

MYSTERIES in PARADISE

Interview with: Susan Toy

Thanks to reader and blogger, Loes Keimes, for asking the questions and posting this interview she conducted with me recently! Loes is a Belgian reader I “met” when she won a copy of “Island in the Clouds” through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thanks, Loes, for reading my books and for wanting to tell your own blog readers about me!

Owlish Books

I wanted to do another author interview, since it has been a while and I had so much fun with the previous ones. So I went out on a limb and contacted Susan M. Toy, whose book Island in the Clouds I won a few years back through the Goodreads giveaways. At the time, she wrote me a lovely personal letter that she was happy someone from Belgium won, since her grandparents were also originally from here.

Susan Toy.jpg

Susan is very experienced and has seen all sides of writing, publishing and promoting books. Based on her background, I decided to ask her a bunch of questions, not only about writing but also about publishing and promoting books. She shared a lot of advice and tips, here below. If you want to keep up with her, follow her blog for insights and tips!

And more good news: Susan agreed…

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2017 – the other Best Books I read this year!

I have already posted a list of some of the authors whose books I read this year and found to be outstanding. You will find that link here.

But I read so many books in 2017, and many were great reads indeed, so I’ve divided the list into two: that first list covered authors I have promoted on my blog,
Reading Recommendations; this second list is everything else.

Because I tend to be an eclectic reader, you will find on this list: old books and newly released books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s picture books, graphic novels, memoir – even a couple of political biographies, and many books about books and reading (because I’ve been researching a series on Reading for my blog). What I have not listed are the classics and cookbooks (yes, I even read cookbooks!) that I read this year. And I read all of these books in eBook and print format, sometimes bought, sometimes gifted copies, some even won through Goodreads Giveaways, or they were from my own personal library, and many more were borrowed from the public library.

All are considered to be 5-star ratings, as far as I’m concerned. The very, very best books of the lot though are marked, along with the author’s name, in bold.

(The links attached to these titles will take you to more information on that specific book. These books are listed in the order I read them. )

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman

The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michi

Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon

Judith by Aritha van Herk
(Reread after almost 40 years since it was first released! From Wikipedia: Van Herk’s writing career began with the publication of her M.A. thesis in 1978. Judith, a novel that explores a feisty female protagonist’s experiences in both rural and urban Canadian spaces, was the first winner of the Seal First Novel Award (C$50,000) from McClelland and Stewart, which granted the book international distribution throughout North America and Europe. )

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Between Them by Richard Ford

Town is by the Sea by Joanne Scwartz

The Secret Place by Tana French

Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi

This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren

Before, During, After by Richard Bausch

American War by Omar El Akkad
(If I were forced to make a selection of the very best book I read this year, this would be it!)

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

The End of Your Life Book Club, Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
(The End of Your Life Book Club is the best non-fiction I read, and it really changed the way I read books and think about my reading, and even about my life.)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley & Kate Berube

The Little Paris Bookshop, The Little French Bistro by Nina George

All We Leave Behind: A Reporter’s Journey into the Lives of Others by Carol Off

The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Arrival: The Story of CanLit by Nick Mount

2017 – Some of my favourite Authors whose books I read this year!

I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …

(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)

Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!

Gail Anderson-DargatzThe Spawning Grounds

Tim Baker24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)

Gail BowenThe Winner’s Circle

Kevin BrennanIn No Particular Order

Sharon ButalaWhere I Live Now

Paul ButlerThe Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire

Sally CroninSam, A Shaggy Dog Story

Tricia DrammehThe Fifth Circle, Firebound (Spellbringers Book #2)

Seumas GallacherA Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey

Felicity HarleyThe Burning Years

Betty Jane HegeratRunning Toward Home

Allan HudsonShorts Vol. 1

J.F. KaufmannEllida, Once Upon a Night (To be published in 2018)

Ken McGoogan50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage

J.P. McLeanThe Betrayal

Antony MillenThe Chain

David A. PoulsenSerpents Rising, Dead Air

Mike RobbinsSuch Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies, Three Seasons

Merilyn SimondsGutenberg’s Fingerprint

Mary SmithDonkey Boy and Other Stories

Check out Part 2 of this series here.

All I want for Christmas is … a good book and quiet time to read

During the early 80s I worked in a bookstore in Calgary – a rather eclectic shop that sold no bestsellers or books for children, but instead did a booming business in world literature, poetry, philosophy, science, armchair travel, gender, vegetarian cookbooks, and LPs of New Age music … I remember one pre-Christmas season (oh, and the store also did not get into any kind of festive mode, either) when one of our regular customers, a middle-aged professor at the university, walked into the store, clapped his hands together, and said, “Right! I’ve finished shopping for all the presents for everyone else. Now it’s time to shop for ME!” And with that, he delved in among the shelves and came back to the front desk loaded down with some weighty (both physically and in content) tomes on whatever subject it was in which he speciaized. I always think back to the glee in his eyes at the thought, no doubt, that he was going to be gifting himself exactly what he wanted for Christmas (or whichever present-giving-based holiday he and his family were celebrating).

As a reader who definitely knows what she enjoys reading, and who has had many years of experience in finding and discovering her own reading material, thank you very much!, I’m not big on taking direction from others when I choose what to read next. I enjoy the search almost as much as the actual reading, so to speak. In other words, I don’t like to receive books as gifts. Nor do I want to give books as gifts to other readers. I believe that they, like me, prefer to discover reading material themselves. (Besides, we don’t do the gift-giving thing in our house, not even for birthdays. Buying the land and building this house on Bequia was gift enough that Dennis and I gave to each other to last a lifetime.)

So, instead of posting a list of suggestions of books for your gift-giving this year, I’m offering here a list of recommended reading FOR READERS out there! It’s actually just a link to my Reading Recommendations blog and all the wonderful authors who I have promoted there over the years, but still worthwhile checking out for the day you too can say,

“There! I’m finished with everyone else … Now I can treat myself with some excellent books to read!”

Authors Promoted – alphabetical listing (A-L)
Authors Promoted – alphabetical listing (M-Z)

Sorry I can’t help you with finding quiet time to read those books – you’ll need to carve that out for yourself!

Oh, and I want World Peace, too, while we’re at it!

Print copies of my books … the NEW way!

Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!

All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels

Here’s the background as to how all this came about …

In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.

But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …

When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.

Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available

So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.

Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.

Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.

…Jack Calder, past… Jack Calder, present… Jack Calder, future…

From the inimitable Mr. Seumas Gallacher, and another aspect of this indie publishing business to consider …

Seumas Gallacher

…if there’s anything this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler has learned in ten years of producing his wee literary masterpieces is that NUTHIN stands still in the publishing industry for long, whether that be in the realm of the self-publishing tribes, or the mystic corridors of the ‘Large Houses’with stables of contracted authors… like many of us, I’ve dabbled, and more than dabbled at times, with self-publishing eBooks on Auntie Amazon Kindle… with paperback printed copies through the slalom of censorship in the Middle East, involving hand-to-hand combat with head buyers at the major retail book distributors in this part of the WURLD… engaged for a short while with a small publishing house… experimented with an agent arrangement for an equally brief spell… both of these latter experiences ending with amicable partings of the way… comes now the latest foray for Master Gallacherthe beckoning universe of…

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Ads in “Bequia This Week” throughout the winter!

These are the two ads Wilfred created and Nicola will be running for me in their weekly flyer.


And here’s the link to the magazine flip version of
Bequia This Week
Everything you need to know that’s going on in and around the island of Bequia!
New editions available every Friday.

Free Books/ARCs Help the Publishing Industry so Stop Complaining!

An excellent post on the misconception of “free copy reviews” …

My Peacock Books

user satisfaction Image from Pixabay.com

After a pretty rough week health wise I decided to log into my Amazon UK account where I’ve been leaving reviews for books and other items for several years now. Unlike most days which are uneventful on the site though, yesterday I was met with a harsh ‘unhelpful’ vote on one of my most recent reviews along with a comment which stated:

“Your review would have carried more weight if you had put your hand in your pocket and actually bought a copy yourself!”

The book I reviewed was sent to me courtesy of the publisher Walker Books and is a book I rated 5 stars as I enjoyed it so much.

Having been a top reviewer on Amazon UK for several years now I got used to the complaints against my reviews for products I’d received from sellers. Although my reviews have always been and remain…

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