Tag Archives: author promotion

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.

A-R International: Bill Engleson

Bill Engleson
Authors-Readers International

Bill Engleson is a Canadian author and retired child protection social worker. He was born in Powell River, BC, raised in Nanaimo, and spent his first year of life trapped aboard his parents leaky fishboat. He resided in New Westminster for most of his adult years, retiring to Denman Island in 2004.

He writes long fiction, flash fiction, essays, poetry, letters to the editor, and, of late, the occasional book reviews for the Ormsby Review, a new online journal about B.C history and literature.

He has been writing most of his life. His first couple of efforts, poetic in nature, were printed in his mid-teens (quite a long time ago) in the, now, sadly defunct Nanaimo Daily Free Press.

He self-published his first novel, Like a Child to Home in 2013. Silver Bow Publishing released his second book, a collection of humorous literary essays titled Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul, in October, 2016.

Additionally, he has had flash stories published in a few modest publications including two Centum Press anthologies, One Hundred Voices Volumes One and Two.

As a side note, he appeared in a locally produced music video two years ago as a portly, slightly balding, suspendered, card playing (cribbage) human prop. Thus far, the five minutes and change Conrad Campbell video of his song, Big Electric Jesus, has had over 100,000 views. Nothing to do with Bill’s appearance, however. Half of our island (a slight exaggeration) also appeared.

Here is the link for the rock and roll curious.

~

I first “met” Bill Engleson through an introduction from JP McLean, an A-RI Author who also lives on Denman Island. When I asked Bill for his updated information for this post he added the following: Incidentally, Jo-Anne McLean and another local writer/videographer, have been filming a few of us to be a part of a virtual Denman Island Readers Writers Festival. A very energetic, community-minded author is Jo-Anne.

I promoted Bill’s books on Reading Recommendations and quite enjoyed his writing. When he was about to publish his second book, a collection of essays, he asked if I’d like to read an advance copy with an eye to reviewing it for him to coincide with publication. As the book was about life on an island, I said yes! My review was eventually published in the Denman Island newspaper, which was kind of cool for me! (Review is below.)

~

Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul

Published by Silver Bow Publishing

When I moved permanently to a small Caribbean island, there was a saying within the long-term expat community: Why would we want to change what brought us here in the first place? Unfortunately, those outsiders who arrived during the decades following me didn’t get this same memo. So I approached Bill Engleson’s new collection of essays with complete understanding and empathy.

Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul is writing with a glint in its eye and an upwards curve to the lips. Yes, these are rants about the inevitable changes that come to any small place once it’s discovered, but through these rants Engleson manages to also preserve the memory of that which brought him to Denman Island in the first place. With this collection, we have a unique opportunity to see what life was like before those other gentrifying souls moved into “Ruraltania” and changed it into something that closer resembled their way of life they left behind back in the big cities.

Peppered with relevant quotes from famous authors, comedians, and other thinkers, these essays (both previously published and new) on island and small-town life, cover subjects as diverse as: libraries, librarians and unusual objects found inside borrowed books; the usefulness (or not) of committees; censorship; tradition; the generation of ideas; local characters and curmudgeons; movies and old episodes of Leave It To Beaver.

So even though you have never lived on an island or in a small place, there’s still a great deal of insight into life in general to be gained from reading Confessions of an Inadvertently Gentrifying Soul. Engleson’s writing is comfortable, and very much like chatting over coffee while sitting in mismatched upholstered chairs in front of a wood fire. In fact, the entire book is like reminiscing with an old friend.

~ Susan M. Toy, author of the Bequia Perspective novels
(This review was previously published in the Island Tides newspaper of Denman Island)

What Bill Engleson is working on now: At the moment, Bill is working furiously, in between moments of sloth, on several new projects, including a prequel to his first novel entitled Drawn Towards the Sun, a mystery, A Short Rope on a Nasty Night, and, a bit of a longshot, a collection of home-grown, satirically tinged essays, DIRA Diary: Tall Tales of Democracy in Traction.

For more information about Bill Engleson, please see his website.

Bill Engleson has been a guest on Reading Recommendations twice, in Jan. 2014 and Dec. 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

A-R International: JoAnn McCaig

JoAnn McCaig
Authors-Readers International


The unusually bookish JoAnn McCaig writes, edits, teaches, reviews, talks about, publishes, and sells books.

Over the course of her working life, JoAnn McCaig has become an established literary authority in Western Canada. She began her writing career as an ad copywriter, and eventually earned three degrees in English literature. In her 20 years of teaching English at the University of Calgary, JoAnn ensured that hundreds of students not only overcame their fear of poetry, but also learned how to use the semicolon correctly. JoAnn published her first novel in 2000, and in 2007 became a founding board member of Calgary literary press Freehand Books. In 2010 she realized a lifelong dream by opening Shelf Life Books, an independent bookstore in Calgary’s inner city Beltline area, thereby making the circle of bookishness complete.

“I like to involve the reader in the making of meaning, rather than handing the reader a story in a neat little package.”

I’ve been a book nerd all my life, from my earliest memories of snuggling with my mom and brother to hear the latest adventures of The Bobbsey Twins. In elementary school, I loved to find library books about historical figures like Lady Jane Grey and Spain’s Little Infanta, and I started high school in the late 60s with a copy of a Hemingway biography under my arm. In grade 11 psych class, I chose to read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment for an essay assignment on conscience.

My university years were devoted to the study and teaching of English literature. I taught English as a sessional lecturer for twenty years, and the course I enjoyed most was the historical survey class for honours and majors students, affectionately known as ‘From Beowulf to Virginia Woolf.’ When my kids were young, it was not unusual to have their viewing of the Simpsons interrupted by me yelling over the kitchen counter, “Did you catch that reference to King Lear?”

For me, having a role in introducing students to the wondrous language of Shakespeare and Keats, to the power and drama of the Brontes and Faulkner, to the visionary genius of Blake and Atwood, is a joy and a privilege. In my own work, I tend to create the kind of complex, layered structures I enjoy reading – like Swann: A Mystery by Carol Shields, or Joshua Then and Now by Mordecai Richler, or Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

~

While I was a sales rep for Calgary-based Freehand Books in 2008 when they first began publishing, I didn’t actually meet JoAnn McCaig, the founder of the press, until a few years later, and that was through mutual friends, Audrey and Doug Andrews. JoAnn was beginning to set up Shelf Life Books by that point, and I was no longer a sales rep, but was promoting authors directly through Alberta Books Canada. I attended a number of events at Shelf Life, including their grand opening – always a lot of fun, and the store has continued to do a great job of supporting local authors and publishing.

~

An Honest Woman

Stories nest inside stories in An Honest Woman, JoAnn McCaig’s very bookish novel about the writerly process and about the places where literary ambition collides with erotic desire.

If there ever was a time and place to explore the territory of mature women and their journeys this would be the time. The subjects of sex, passion, confidence in JoAnn McCaig’s An Honest Woman are beautifully played out against society’s stereotypes of women as they age and as they confront the truths of themselves outside the societal frameworks in which they have been boxed. There are metafictional elements turned loose in this novel. First, there is an intensely self-conscious narrator and second, there are characters who live inside fictional worlds and travel outside those worlds for intense real-life encounters. Their storytelling draws attention to themselves as both living, breathing people but also fleshed-out fictional world characters. The structure of the novel is complex, layered, and interwoven. There are several narrators, stories within stories, and writers making things up and fantasizing while living real (albeit fictional) lives. There are literary allusions galore and cameo appearances by thinly disguised famous authors. It can all get a little crazy, so McCaig has provided a few support materials: an infographic that maps out the different characters, and relationships and authorships, a fairly detailed table of contents, a few postscripts, and a couple of appendices. Watch for symbols that indicate that the narrator has lapsed into fantasy and for when she returns to her “real” life, such as it is. That said, An Honest Woman has enough grounded familiar plot lines to keep a general reader interested and layered ambiguities to keep the well-read interested. While there is some undermining of traditional literary conventions, there is nothing lost in McCaig’s exploration of the relationship between literature and life. The novel is humorous, and sometimes really funny; it is also a smart and warm and moving read.

“An immensely gutsy novel that works to both undermine and expand its own story through an entertaining and teasing literary puzzle\u2026. This is an intelligent and, especially, a brilliantly written novel.”
Sharon Butala (an Authors-Readers International series author)

What JoAnn McCaig is working on now: A forthcoming publication is an essay called “Mastery of the Instrument” which will appear next year in a University of Alberta Press anthology called You Look Good For Your Age. The novel I’m working on now is called The Venus Hum. It’s a trio of linked novellas that follow the life of a woman named Seren.

For more information about JoAnn McCaig, her writing, books, publishing, and bookselling, please see her website.

 

A-R International: Antony Millen

Antony Millen
Authors-Readers International

Antony Millen is a Nova Scotian living and writing in New Zealand.

Originally from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada, he moved to New Zealand with his wife and two children in 1997. He has lived in Taumarunui since then, working at St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School and, more recently, as the head of the English department at Taumarunui High School.

During his early years in New Zealand, he wrote sporadically, but with a dream to write novels as a major part of his life-style if not as a career. In 2013, he launched his first novel, Redeeming Brother Murrihy. He followed this in 2014 with Te Kauhanga: A Tale of Space(s). The Chain is his first novel for young adults.

He has since seen several short stories and articles published in literary journals. He is currently stalled, but chipping away on the draft of his 4th novel.
~
I first “met” Antony Millen online when he was featured on the site Canadian Writers Abroad, curated by Canadian Debra Martens. An excellent website, Debra features interviews, reviews and information about Canadian authors who live and work outside of their native country. My first novel was reviewed on the site in 2013, and Antony Millen came to my attention when he first appeared on the site in 2017. A Canadian living and writing in New Zealand! I read his novel The Chain and really enjoyed it. We began corresponding and I promoted Antony on my Reading Recommendations blog. (Link below.) More recently, both Antony and I were included in a post Debra wrote titled, Where Are They Now? in which she finds out what we who were living abroad at the beginning of the pandemic would do – whether we would heed the call to repatriate to our home and native land, or stay put. Darlene Foster, a Canadian writer who lives in Spain and has been promoted on Authors-Readers International, was also mentioned in this CWA post.
~
The Chain

Two brothers. One mission: Restore privacy to the world.

The year is 2043. Empowered by the anti-encryption program, ICALL, and the world-wide wireless Blanket, the Global Domain reigns over all colocation centres with its Connectivist ideology, enforcing mandatory online activity for every eartizen and disabling attempts to secure privacy. The Domain’s slogans are: “Secrecy Threatens Security” and “Privacy Prevents Prosperity and Peace.”

From his death-bed in New Zealand, Fenton Ouvert commissions his sons, Topia and Lukan, to locate a flash drive containing the files of Jeremy Winterton, files stolen thirty years earlier from international surveillance agencies. A former investigative journalist, Ouvert hid the flash drive at the end of a chain of clue-bearers around the world. Contacted by the resistance movement known as Arachne, Ouvert believes the drive contains original plans for the ICALL program and thus, hope for a free world.

Travelling the globe, the Ouvert boys locate the links, but what will their journey reveal about their father and the effects of the Global Domain’s dominance? And what will their quest mean for the world when they reach the end of the chain?

Antony Millen has also been writing poetry … This too

For more information about Antony Millen’s writing, his books, and life in New Zealand, please see his website.

Antony Millen was a guest previously on my blog Reading Recommendations in Apr. 2017.

 

A-R International: Joan Barfoot

Joan Barfoot
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Ken Wightman

Joan Barfoot was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, and graduated with a degree in English from the University of Western Ontario in 1969. She worked as a reporter and editor for various newspapers in Ontario including the Windsor Star, the Toronto Sun and the London Free Press. As a child, while she and her mother watched a squirrel in their back yard from their kitchen, her mother told Barfoot to tell her the squirrel’s story and she’d write it down. Barfoot doesn’t remember the story but remembers her delight when her mother read the story back to her and the power of creating it. Barfoot was also encouraged to write by a teacher who told Barfoot she wrote well and to consider some word-related career. In addition to writing Barfoot occasionally teaches creative writing classes though she believes writing ought to be an entirely private pleasure and a puzzle. She lives in London, Ontario.

Joan Barfoot is the award-winning author of 11 novels, ranging from Abra, which won the Books in Canada (now Amazon) prize for first novels, to Critical Injuries, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Trillium Award, to Luck, shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Her work, which reviewers have variously called ‘harrowing and hilarious’, and ‘gloriously subversive’, has been compared internationally to the fictions of Carol Shields, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood and Margaret Drabble, and also include Dancing in the Dark, which was adapted into an award-winning Canadian entry in the Cannes, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals, Duet for Three, Family News, Plain Jane, Charlotte and Claudia Keeping in Touch, Some Things About Flying, Getting Over Edgar, and Exit Lines.

Translations include French, German, Italian, Russian, and various Scandinavian languages. In English, the novels have been published in the U.S. and U.K., as well as Canada.

Professional Activities, Awards:

Shortlisted, 2005 Scotiabank Giller Prize – Luck

Longlisted, Man Booker Prize, 2002 – Critical Injuries

Shortlisted, Trillium Book Award, 2001 – Critical Injuries

Marian Engel Award, 1992

Books in Canada First Novel Award – Abra

Honorary doctorate, Western University, 2013

Huron University College Medal of Distinction, 2005

London YM-YWCA Women of Distinction Award, 1986

Member: Writers’ Union of Canada and P.E.N. Canada

A recipient of the Marian Engel Award (presented to a female Canadian novelist in mid-career for her entire body of work), Joan Barfoot has also been a journalist during much of her career. She lives in London, Ontario, Canada.

~

Joan Barfoot first came to my attention in 1978 when I was a brand-new bookseller in Calgary and she won the Books in Canada First Novel Award for Abra. I loved that book, and I credit it for sowing the seed in my brain that I might one day try writing my own stories. Many years later, when I became a sales rep, I was selling a number of Joan’s reprint and original novels for both Lester & Orpen Dennys and Key Porter Books. (Anna Porter, who was the publisher of Key Porter Books, is listed on this Authors-Readers International series.) I don’t remember actually meeting Joan in person though until she was in Calgary in 2010 to promote Exit Lines at the Memorial Park Branch of Calgary Public Library. While I only own six print copies of Joan’s books, I have read most of the rest online as borrowed eBooks from the library! She’s always been one of my favourite authors to read, and her stories and storytelling are an influence on my own writing. Thanks for writing, Joan Barfoot!

~

These are Joan Barfoot’s books I have on my Bequia book shelf!
Several are signed copies.

And I have a copy of Exit Lines at the trailer!

What Joan Barfoot has been up to lately: In renewal news, e-books of the Barfootian oeuvre have just been redesigned, and my website’s being updated, presumably as I type.

For more information about Joan Barfoot, please see her updated website.

 

A-R International: Steve Boone

Steve Boone
Authors-Readers International

I never gave much thought about becoming a professional musician. I always loved music and admired my older brother Skip and his bands, and playing at beach parties and with the Kingsmen was totally cool. Once I found out I was 4F and ineligible for military service though I did not know what would come next!

In December 1964, Peter Davey and I had just come home from spending 4 months riding around Europe on motorcycles. We had a blast of a time, met some great new friends and went places most tourists never go!
Starting in January 1965 I was enrolled in the Spring semester at the new Southampton College in the hills overlooking Shinnecock Bay on the south fork of Long Island. In our trip around Europe, Peter and I came across an incredible adventure where we got to see up close and personal the race cars in action that would soon put the Ford Motor Company at the pinnacle of auto racing success. That event sort of cemented in my mind the decision to go back to school and get my engineering degree in Automobile Design. That would not mean I had to give up playing in a band but the thought of joining up with other musicians to start a band with the sole goal of getting a hit record became further and further from my plans for the future. My brother Skip and Joe Butler my bandmates from the Kingsmen had started a new band and moved into New York City and were playing in Greenwich Village. I would not be able to join them and go to college at the same time. I had a great steady girlfriend Lynn Bishop who lived in Westhampton Beach and some local friends that I could join up with on occasion to play some local gigs out in the East End and I could still go to college. So that was my plan as I headed into New York City to pick up my motorcycle that had been shipped back from Spain just before Christmas 1964. I got to New York on a cold rainy day and didn’t go back out to Westhampton for 3 years. Oh I went back to collect my belongings and tell the college that I wouldn’t be attending that spring but in the space of about 3 or 4 days my whole world changed and it would never again be the same. It would be the summer of 1967 before I could take the time to rent a little beach house in E. Quogue, LI and spend more than a weekend there, and a designer of race cars I would never be!

While a major portion of my life has been my involvement in The Lovin’ Spoonful, I have gone on many adventures, before, during and ….well so far there is no after the band’s life yet. Finally I have, with the help and co-operation of one terrific person, Tony Moss, completed a book that encompasses much of what I have seen since my arrival at Jacksonville Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on September 23, 1943. So if you dare come on in and look around. It is just getting started, so expect changes.

IN 1970 I bought a 56′ sailboat and headed out for who knows where. After nearly 4 incredible years sailing the eastern Caribbean I returned to the States and resumed my life in the music business. I took over operation of a fabulous recording studio in Hunt Valley, MD and eventually moved it to a customized houseboat in Baltimore’s historic Inner Harbor. I began playing in a band again and as I adjusted to a life once more on shore a voice kept whispering in my ear “you need to write a book about all of this”. And so began the collection of notes and pictures and conversations with friends and associates that up to that point in time, 1977, comprised a full life by any standard. The Lovin’ Spoonful had effectively ceased to exist as a touring band and I thought I had found a comfortable niche wherein I could stay in music and make a living in Baltimore. Then came Christmas 1977 and everything changed. It was like I had started a new life very different from my old one but in many ways the same. What happens after Christmas 1977 until I make contact with my co-writer Tony Moss in 2009 could make an exciting book on its own. Essentially there are two life stories in one book. Writing it proved to be the very catharsis that I needed and I am very proud of it.

~

Thanks to Tim Baker, himself an Authors-Readers International Author and longtime online pal, I “met” Steve Boone when Tim interviewed him on his Surf 97.3 FM Friday evening radio program, making it possible for me to connect with Steve. Steve was promoting his new book at the time and talking about his life after the Spoonful. When he mentioned he had sailed for a number of years in the eastern Caribbean. I sent Tim a question to ask and Steve confirmed he had been to Bequia! After that interview, Steve sent me a signed copy of his book, which I loved reading … After all, Steve was one of the founding members of a musical group that was very important to many of us who grew up during the 60s – The Lovin! Spoonful! But the rest of Steve’s story itself was a real page-turner! I promoted Steve and his book on my Reading Recommendations blog, and have followed his career since the book’s story ended, as he’s continued to tour with the band, including gigs on cruise ships, his recording and performing with The Cherry Drops, hosting a Monday evening radio show on Surf 97.3 called “A Spoonful of Hits” and participating in a sold-out reunion concert in Feb. 2020 with original band mates from The Lovin’ Spoonful, Joe Butler and John Sebastian. (Links and information for all of this below.)

~

Hotter Than A Match Head: Life on the Run with The Lovin’ Spoonful
Steve Boone with Tony Moss

Steve Boone’s memoir comprises two nearly separate lives in one book with his role as a founding member of the Rock Hall of Fame band The Lovin” Spoonful as he charts it’s way from conception to now 50 years later, and his other life as a high seas pot smuggler with the drama of sinking boats and eluding Coast Guard interceptors.

For more information about Steve Boone, his music, and how to get a copy of his book, see his website.

Steve Boone’s radio show on Surf 97.3: “I plan on using a timeline of my life from the early 1950’s to today to show how popular music has evolved including of course my time in the Lovin’ Spoonful and beyond. You can tune in locally at 97.3 fm or streaming online. So tune in and comment or call me up at the station when I’m on live. I look forward to being on the airwaves each Monday night from 6 PM to 7 PM E.S.T.”

Here’s some information from Steve’s blog about life touring more recently with The Lovin’ Spoonful.

On Feb. 29, 2020, a benefit concert was organized that brought together the three remaining members of the original band of The Lovin’ Spoonful. The evening was a great success!

As well, Steve Boone has been playing bass and performing with the band The Cherry Drops. I promoted Vern Shank, the owner of radio station Surf 97.3, and his band on Listening Recommendations in Sept. 2014. Here’s their video of a recent recording of one of Steve Boone’s songs, “You Didn’t Have to be so Nice”:

Steve Boone was a guest previously on Reading Recommendations in Nov. 2014.

A-R International: Eugene Stickland

Eugene Stickland
Authors-Readers International

I arrived in Calgary in 1994 when I began a ten year residency at Alberta Theatre Projects, establishing a reputation as one of western Canada’s most prominent playwrights. All in all, I have written twenty plays, some of which have been produced many times across North America and beyond. My play Queen Lear, for example, had a two year run in Istanbul in Turkish translation and is currently running in Russia in Russian translation. While still at ATP, I began writing a feature column for the Calgary Herald’s Saturday Entertainment Section which allowed me to write about theatre and any other arts-related topics I chose for a potential weekly audience of up to half a million people. At the same time, I have always had a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring the next generation. I have taught or held residencies at a number of institutions and situations, including the National Theatre School of Canada, the University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, York University and the University of Regina. I was for ten years writer in residence at St. Mary’s University in Calgary where I taught creative writing, both drama and prose. For a number of years I was the Canadian delegate to the World Interplay Festival in Australia and in that capacity worked with and mentored young playwrights from around the world. In 2015 I published my first novel, The Piano Teacher, which was awarded the 2016 W. O. Mitchell Award. I am currently writing a new book titled In My Time of Dying and a play about Saskatchewan-born American artist Agnes Martin, titled Agnes.

2018 – 2020 – Last year I worked with the Stardale Woman’s Group to oversee the writing of The Make Believer Project that was produced numerous times throughout Calgary in May and June of 2018. This involved encouraging and guiding some twenty First Nations adolescent girls to share their experience of growing up in Calgary, and then creating a script from their writings. This year I am working on a new project with them titled The Road.

2020 – Overseeing publication of my play First and Last by St Mary’s University Press.  It was to have been launched in April, 2020, although now this is going to be more virtual than actual.

2019 – I am finishing a new novel, In My Time of Dying, which I expect will be published in the fall of 2020.

2016 -2019 – Collaborated with Calgary musician Morag Northey to help her create and perform her theatre piece titled 17, which we performed in BC, around Calgary and in Taos, New Mexico.   We will be consolidating and publishing the script this fall.

2017, 2019 — Appeared as the ghostly presence of Gordon Lightfoot in Alberta Ballet’s Our Canada. This season, I made an appearance in Alberta Ballet’s Frankenstein, October, 2019.

2009 – 2018. Instructor of creative writing and Writer in Residence at St. Mary’s University College, Calgary, AB.

2009 – Present. Instructor of English and Canadian Culture at Alberta Business & Educational Services. I teach a class of Internationally Trained Professionals, mostly doctors, to help them integrate into the Canadian medical system. In this capacity I have taught students from some forty countries and learned much about the experience of immigrants in Calgary.

2008 – Present. Founding Editor of B House Publications, a boutique publishing house based in Calgary with a mandate to publish plays, poetry, spoken word compilations and other work we feel is deserving of publication. Our first book was my play Writer’s Block, published in April, 2009.  Our most recent publication was my novel The Piano Teacher, which was awarded the 2016 W.O. Mitchell Award.

2003 – 2009. Featured Guest Columnist for The Calgary Herald “City Scene” Column. I have also written features for various magazines in Calgary such as Alberta Views and Avenue Magazine.

~

I didn’t meet Eugene Stickland in person until I was back in Calgary, around 2010 or so, and was promoting Authors and their books directly through Alberta Books Canada. As I remember, that meeting was made possible through a mutual friend at Caffe Beano, Eugene’s coffee spot of choice … where I like to think of him as the Artist-in-Residence. Eugene was founding editor of an independent company called B House Publications and I remember attending a “street” launch outside Beano‘s celebrating all the books they had published to date. I promoted Eugene on Reading Recommendations after he published his novel The Piano Teacher, which went on to win the W.O. Mitchell Award in 2016. Come to think of it, I have only ever met with Eugene at Caffee Beano over coffee. That’s the book business for you, in a nutshell!

~

First and Last

First and Last was commissioned for St. Mary’s University, and premiered in 2017. The successful run was followed by a performance by Company of Rogues Theatre in Calgary that same year.

“First and Last” is a new comedy by highly acclaimed Calgary-based playwright and novelist Eugene Stickland. At the heart of “First and Last” is displacement, loss, the search for sanctuary and the nature of belonging.

Recording artist Lenny returns from a West Coast tour to find his apartment empty of both furniture and his girlfriend. He’s heartbroken. While trying to write his next album people begin to show up at his door with lease in hand. A young couple, a hipster, a synchronized swim team and 2 refugees all lay claim to the same sanctuary – Lenny’s apartment. Hilarious and touching , “First and Last” is a welcome return of Eugene’s Stickland’s warm and human world to the stage. Almost a world premiere!

The first-ever Eugene-A-Thon was held on Wordfest‘s Facebook page June 18th, a  6-hour fundraiser, featuring Eugene Stickland at Caffee Beano, in support of teen literacy and arts education. And to promote the publication of his new book! You may watch some of the video here.

Here’s a great article in The Guardian, a Saltwire Publication, about how this Eugene-A-Thon came to be

Lisa Wilton of CKUA Radio interviewed Eugene Stickland about this play in April 2020.

What Eugene Stickland has been doing lately: Eugene has been painting! Check out this blog post for a sample of some of the art he has created.

You may see more information about Eugene Stickland on his website.

Eugene Stickland was previously a guest on Reading Recommendations in May 2015.

A-R International: Steven Biggs

Steven Biggs
Authors-Readers International

I help people grow food
MY PASSION is incorporating edible crops into the landscape to create beautiful, edible landscapes with a long and varied harvest. I was recognized by Garden Making Magazine as one of the “green gang” of Canadians making a difference in horticulture.
My yard includes a driveway straw-bale garden, rooftop kitchen garden, wicking beds, an edible-themed front yard, and fruit plantings.
My gig is communications. I work as a horticulturist, college instructor, broadcaster, speaker, and author. The common thread is that I share ideas about how to creatively use edible plants in the landscape. And I make it fun.
I have worked in horticulture and agriculture for more than 25 years.
After getting a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Guelph, I worked in greenhouse and nursery production, plant propagation, biological controls, horticultural supplies, and farm marketing.

• Children. Raising three children (my teenage daughter Emma and I co-wrote the book Gardening with Emma, a book to inspire kids to garden).
• Food. Admission—I actually enjoy grocery shopping. Food really interests me. So I’ve been known to do unconventional things like make parsnip wine or come home with a few laying hens.
• The Outdoors. I love foraging for mushrooms with my kids, camping, or just going for a picnic.
• Community. Toronto is an amazing city for food. Southern Ontario has diverse agricultural and horticultural operations, giving me lots of neat things to write about. I live in a part of Toronto called Willowdale, where I’ve found that one of the best ways to meet my neighbours is to garden in my front yard.
• Music. I’m no musician … just a hack. But I have fun jamming with my boys (they play electric guitar and drums, and tolerate me on bass guitar.)

I NEVER THOUGHT I’d be a writer or speaker. I’m a horticulturist.
But every so often I get impulsive (and that can drive my wife, Shelley, crazy). Luckily for me, one of those impulsive moments brought me to where I am today.
I can still picture the look of surprise on Shelley’s face the day I came home and casually mentioned that I’d quit my job as a recruiter. I sucked at that recruiting job. I left a job….
Here’s the rest of Steve’s story about that!

~

I first promoted Steven Biggs when he co-authored No Guff Vegetable Gardening with Donna Balzer, who has been a guest on Reading Recommendations. Since that time, Steven has written several books of his own and has recently helped his daughter Emma write and publish a book (see below). Steven and Emma agreed to to be promoted by me in a 3-part series on my blog that I called The Next Gen Authors, featuring Authors whose daughters had gone on to write and publish their own books. I also promoted Anna and Catherine Porter, and Ken and Keriann McGoogan in this series. (Anna Porter and Ken McGoogan have both been previously promoted as well on Authors-Readers International.)

~

Grow Lemons Where You Think You Can’t
THE Lemon BOOK FOR COLD CLIMATES
Grow Lemons EVEN IF YOU’RE IN A COLD CLIMATE!

In this fun, plain-language book, I share my passion for growing lemons to help other gardeners in cold climates see that lemons are a fantastic potted plant in cold climates—and that they are much easier to keep over the winter than many people expect.

Get tips, techniques, and anecdotes—along with the insights of other lemon experts in Canada, The USA, and the UK. This book simplifies lemon growing in cold climates.

DID YOU KNOW that some gardeners store lemons in a cold, dark garage for the winter? Others keep them as houseplants. Ever thought of Christmas lights as a way to help lemons overwinter? That’s in the book too.

Steven Biggs was recently featured on this blog, along with his daughter Emma Biggs, as part of the series The Next Gen Authors.

Steven Biggs is now Working on Growing Figs in Cold Climates: 150 of Your Questions Answered, for release within the month.

Steven was a guest on Reading Recommendations in Apr. 2015.