Tag Archives: Betty Jane Hegerat

Remembering Michael Fay …

In memory of
J. Michael Fay

December 18, 1945 – June 7, 2020

Early Monday morning, I heard from a friend in Minden that Michael Fay had died the previous day. I knew he had not been well for quite some time, but still … it was a jolt, and I was very sad. So I decided to turn on the most relaxing and soothing programme I know – Bob Chelmick’s The Road Home online at his website. (I’ve written about Bob and this show previously.) It was an entire programme dedicated to the poetry of Rumi, most of which was read by Coleman Barks. Almost immediately after I’d tuned in, Barks began reading the following poem that I had never heard nor read before … and yet it felt as though Michael was speaking to me.

No Room for Form
by Rumi

On the night when you cross the street
From your shop and your house
To the cemetery

You’ll hear me hailing you from inside
The open grave, and you’ll realize
How we’ve always been together.

I am the clear consciousness-core
Of your being, the same in
Ecstasy as in self-hating fatigue.

That night, when you escape your fear of snakebite
And all irritations with the ants, you’ll hear
My familiar voice, see the candle being lit,
Smell the incense, the surprise meal fixed
By the lover inside all your other lovers.

This heart tumult is my signal
to you igniting in the tomb.
So don’t fuss with the shroud
And the graveyard dust.
Those get ripped open and washed away
In the music of our final meeting.

And don’t look for me in human shape,
I am inside your looking. No room
For form with love this strong.

Well, maybe not the “love” part, but certainly “high regard” and mutual understanding and appreciation of written words and publishing … Normally, with anyone else, I would have put this experience of hearing that particular poem at that exact moment down to coincidence. But this was Michael Fay! A man I did not know at all before we met through Facebook in around 2011-12 and who I didn’t meet in person until about a year later. And yet we had many friends in common, plus our paths in life had criss-crossed several times – we discovered we had both lived in Calgary, Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, and Minden at different periods in our lives, but never at the same time. We became fast friends! Neither our original meeting online nor this poem being read at the moment I needed to hear it were ever mere coincidence!

I met Michael when I was exploring ePublishing as an option for my own writing, and Michael and I began sharing articles about eBooks being considered the perfect platform for longform stories. Michael told me he was reviewing and rewriting a number of stories he’d first written in Banff in the 70s and at other writing conferences, and asked what I thought about publishing them. Thus was born the imprint IslandShorts, and I have Michael to thank for being my inspiration, counselor, sounding board, and critic of everything we did to put this series of eBooks together. (Here’s a more in-depth explanation of the imprint.) I truly could not have accomplished this without Michael Fay!

Michael was also always very quick with the “atta-girl!”s for my own writing. He provided me with a brilliant blurb for the back cover of the first print edition of my novel, Island in the Clouds. He wrote and posted reviews of all my books, provided me with photos of my novel in-and-around Minden, and wrote about me, my connection to Minden and the IslandShorts imprint for the local newspaper, The Minden Times. (See below.) He also heartily supported the three other authors I published through IslandCatEditions: Timothy L. Phillips, Bruce Hunter, and Betty Jane Hegerat.

And, if that were not already enough, Michael and his wife, Fay Martin, always provided me with a bed, plenty of coffee in the morning, and two cats to pat, whenever I visited Minden. Plus, they loved my crazy notion to start up Literary Salons once again by opening their home and inviting friends to a reading and launch of our eBooks we had just published. A truly generous gesture!

So, while Michael Fay may have now left this mortal coil, he will never be forgotten, as he lives on for me through his generosity, kindness, sense of humour, thoughtfulness, and friendship he shared with me, and so many others, throughout his life.   And he will be remembered through his fine writing in the number of publications it was my great privilege to help him bring to the attention of readers worldwide! Michael Fay was the first author I promoted in the series Authors-Readers International for good reason … He had entrusted me with his own writing, but he also gave back to me just as much by supporting my own writing and publishing endeavours – and for that I could never have thanked him enough! So I will pay tribute to Michael Fay for the rest of my life, and will continue to promote the man and his work.

For more information about Michael Fay’s ePublications and where to buy them, please see this link. And for his print publication, click on this link.

Michael also wrote three guest posts for this blog: On Banff, 1976; On Bread Loaf, 1978; On Remembering Alexandra Centre.

And words from a few of Michael’s friends and fellow writers …

Shirley Black (blurb for Michael’s print book, Tenderness and Other Stories): It all started with a small ad in the community newsletter: Writing Lessons, contact Michael Fay, and that is why eight of us were gathered around a large wooden table. We were there to learn W.O. Mitchell’s Freefall method as modified by Michael. Put your pen to paper and write, he told us, don’t worry about grammar, sentence structure or paragraphing – just write. And so we did, memories poured forth, the smell of freshly washed laundry, the sound of a train whistle on a cold winter night. For six days we wrote and on the seventh we rested while Michael studied every single word we had written and picked out the best phrase, sentence or paragraph that he read back in class. With Michael’s gentle encouragement we gained confidence, reality turned into fiction, short stories emerged and we were on our way to becoming writers.

Bruce Hunter: On Sept. 29, 2013, I had the pleasure of reading with Susan Toy and Michael Fay. It was a sunny afternoon at a literary salon hosted by Michael and Fay at their home with their friends from Minden. Although, I’d not known him long, Michael’s grace and generosity of spirit and intellect made every visit special. He was a remarkable and talented gentleman. He is missed by many.

Timothy Phillips: I was very sorry to hear of Michael Fay’s passing.  Fay, you wrote “his gift to writing was probably the writers he supported …” Yes, that is true and I was one of those writers he supported. He read my memoir, reviewed it with a true understanding of my journey and endorsed it on the back of my book. As a new writer, he helped give me credibility.

However, he was no slouch when it came to his own writing and I particularly liked his story, Passion, of being called to enter a seminary when quite young and his journey there.

I only met Michael and Fay once at their house in Minden. I drove up from Toronto for the day because they had organised a reading for authors. It sort of reminded me of how the French Salons might have started in 17th and 18th century Paris – an invite to elegance and sophistication and a chance for an author to be heard.

Thank you Michael for all that you have contributed to encourage us all to take risks and put pen to paper. You are missed.

Chad Ingram wrote this about Michael Fay for The Minden Times.

And I was thrilled beyond belief when Michael wrote this article about me and my connection to the town of Minden! My family owned a cottage on a neighbouring lake from the year I was born (1953) until just after Dad died and we decided to sell in 1996.

One last bit to add to this tribute, and that’s a song I know Michael – the political activist part of Michael, that is – would have loved to hear again during these current troubling times …

And to leave you a more positive note, I know Michael would have approved
of this song as well …

A-R International: Sharon Clark

Sharon Clark
Authors-Readers International


Sharon Clark has lived in Alberta for over 50 years. Born in Medicine Hat to an Air Force father, Sharon moved with her family to a number of bases across Canada during her childhood. She eventually settled in Calgary. The first books she was introduced to in elementary school, the Dick and Jane series, began her lifelong love of reading. As a pre-teen, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames were all favourites that she devoured over summer holidays. At about the age of 13, she submitted comments about an article in a previous issue to Ingenue Magazine. She was thrilled the magazine published what she wrote and this began her love of writing.

Sharon has had four children. Her first book, Not Our Baby was published in 1984 by Detselig Enterprises (now Temerin Books). She wrote it after her first-born child, a boy, died of a brain tumour just before his second birthday. This devastating experience made her want to work in cancer research. So, when her youngest daughter began Grade 1, she returned to university to obtain a degree in Cell, Microbial and Molecular Biology. The degree allowed her to follow her dream and she worked for seventeen years in cancer or immunology labs.

During Sharon’s research career, an idea for a novel formed, persisted and pestered her. Finally, she relented and began writing Timelag, a novel about a researcher who discovers a gene that controls the aging process. Then in order to test the topic’s appeal and her writing abilities, she decided to submit a few chapters to a contest (inspired by Susan Toy) called Coffee Shop Author. She was surprised and thrilled to win second prize, which was a weekend writers’ conference in Fernie, British Columbia. Winning the prize was a validation of the novel’s potential, so she renewed efforts to finish it. Unfortunately, the death of her second child in 2013, her oldest daughter, brought the project to an abrupt halt. The grueling task of writing and editing the novel became impossible.

Yet, keeping her mind busy became imperative to retaining her sanity. Over the next few years, she wrote a series of fun science (nature) and math books for elementary school-aged children. Two of them won Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards and her last book, 11X Magic, also won Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards.

Since retiring from the University of Calgary, Sharon continues to live in Calgary and now spends most of her time marketing her children’s books.

~

I first met Sharon Clark when she entered Coffee Shop Author the second year the contest ran and won second place. But I had already heard about Sharon and, more importantly, of the strength of her writing, from Betty Jane Hegerat (previously promoted in this A-RI Series) with whom Sharon was studying creative writing at the University of Calgary. Sharon went on after the contest to publish five fun and educational picture books for kids, and has continued to receive recognition for her work through these books. (I really hope Sharon will one day complete her novel Timelag. I want to know how that story ends!)

~

11X Magic

A Children’s Picture Book That Makes Math exciting by showing some cool secrets
for multiplying by 11
Educational Science (Math) Series
Recipient of
Pinnacle Book Achievement Award
&
Finalist-Book Excellence Awards

This award-winning book will appeal to any child between the ages of 7 to 10. Inside, a wizard shows the magic of 11X math of one-digit, two-digit and three-digit numbers, by revealing some amazing tricks to help kids find the solutions easily and without the use of a calculator.

Children will be able to amaze friends by obtaining the answers using only mental math. But best of all – kids will see that math can not only be magical, but also FUN!

Math is a subject that many children hate because they find it difficult and a challenge to learn. But this world is becoming more dependent on technology and demand for people with math skills is increasing. So how can we interest kids at an early age in this subject?   Make it FUN!
11X Magic won one of two  Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards in the category of Children’s Educational (summer 2017). It will delight children of all ages, but will be especially appealing to any child between the ages of 7 to 10. It demonstrates how magical 11X math can be. In this book, a wizard has a castle with 3 different floors where 11X math of increasing difficulty is done. It is fashioned after video games where a child can progress to the next floor after 11X math at each level is mastered. The first floor features 11X math with a one-digit number. The second floor demonstrates 11X math with a two-digit number and the third level is 11X math with a three-digit number. But the ultimate goal of 11X magic is to allow kids to see math from a new perspective – it can be FUN!    For additional information and a peek inside this book, go to this website.

For information on Sharon Clark’s books and how to order them, please see her website.

Sharon Clark has twice been a guest on Reading Recommendations: May 2014 and Jan. 2016.

A-R International: Betty Jane Hegerat

Betty Jane Hegerat
Authors-Readers International

Betty Jane Hegerat is a Canadian Author who I first met when I was representing her publisher and selling their books to bookstores and libraries throughout Alberta. She has since become a good friend and also provided me with some editing and mentoring over the years, wrote a blurb for the front cover of the print edition of my first novel, and was the one who said, “Oh, Susan, I would pay you to look after promoting my books for me so I could just write …” – which she did, and thus began my career as an author impresario! She’s still always offering sage advice on the many ideas I come up with to promote authors and their books, and gave her approval of this current idea, Authors-Readers International. (Although she is quick to point out the real stinkers: “Susan, you’ve always had many good promotion ideas, but hiring authors to entertain at adult birthday parties isn’t one of them.”)

Betty Jane likes to say that she loves books and libraries so much that she gave birth to a librarian! I know too that Betty Jane’s entire family avidly reads. Even her cat Rosie has good taste in literature.

When Betty Jane decided to ePublish her first novel (first published in print in 2006 by Newest Press), she asked for my help, and the eBook edition of Running Toward Home was released in Dec. 2017.

Twelve year old Corey Brinkman is, as his great grandfather knows for sure in his heart, En goede jongen, such a good boy. In fact, everyone else with a place in Corey’s life would describe him so. How, then, does a good boy end up at the Calgary Zoo, feeling utterly alone as he darts here and there during the night? Corey Brinkman is also a runner. The file on the social worker’s desk is thick with events that eventually brought Corey to the zoo. It’s a long narrative of dysfunction set into motion long before his birth. There’s one person Corey will, without hesitation, always blame for his chaotic life, one person he hates. But Corey is also not easy on himself, and blames his feet for his current troubles. Without knowing that people who care about him are circling around the zoo, hoping to find him safe, Corey waits. Tigers, monkeys, peacocks, and the great stony-faced dinosaurs are his only company.

I also wanted to mention here another of Betty Jane Hegerat’s books, because it was a ground-breaker when it was published, being a combination of fact (history), fiction, and memoir – quite a hybrid, actually. Here, in an interview with Jane Sillcott in The Malahat Review is an explanation of why this book is so good:I’ve just finished reading The Boy by Betty Jane Hegerat. It’s an amazing amalgam of forms. Hegerat uses fiction, creative nonfiction and a bit of fantasy to investigate the story of the last man hanged in Alberta. I find this incredibly exciting. It raises all kinds of questions for me about how I receive information, how a story inhabits me. Does it do so more fully in fiction or nonfiction? Do I need the connection with character to be drawn in fully? At first the fiction drew me emotionally and I found the investigation less compelling. Gradually I began to feel the tension in the narrator (Hegerat) as she was drawn deeper and deeper into this story, and the emotional component was there too, which is interesting to me — the different pacing and levels of tension and engagement in the two forms. The book wrestles with: how could this happen, what about this boy who was hanged? At the same time it takes us inside different parts of our minds, which is brilliant. That’s the great thing about good creative nonfiction — you can do whatever you want to do — you can write about dreams; you can fantasize; you can imagine; you can make things up — as long as you’re straightforward about it.

For more information about Betty Jane Hegerat, her books and writing, please see her website.

For more information about the new eBook edition of Running Toward Home, see IslandCatEditions.

Betty Jane Hegerat has been a guest on Reading Recommendations three times: Apr. 21, 2014, Jan. 25, 2016May 5, 2016

Betty Jane was the recipient of the Writers Guild of Alberta 2015 Golden Pen Award for Lifelong Achievement in Writing.

 

Authors-Readers International

Authors-Readers International is the name of a new means of online promotion I have developed to help the many great authors I’ve met, previously promoted, have worked with online, or whose books I’ve published, to reach a wider audience – worldwide, I’m hoping! – and receive more attention for their published books.

I’m going to begin this promotion (which will run as a series of blog posts here on my main blog, reblogged on Reading Recommendations, and shared on social media) with a daily post on individual authors, beginning on
Dec. 1 and ending with Dec. 31. Then any further promotions will be less frequent, maybe one a week. Inclusion of authors promoted here will be by invitation only. I want to present the authors I’ve met in person or who I’ve had a connection with online, but also, and more importantly, authors whose books I have enjoyed reading. I want to share their work with readers around the world and give them as much exposure as I can muster. I’ve already come up with a complete list of authors for the Dec. blog posts and I’ll be contacting these authors all within the next couple of days to explain this new promotion to them and ask if they would like to participate.

But really, this is all about the readers out there, and providing all readers with information on good books and authors who may not have previously been on their radar. The crucial part of this promotion though is in the sharing of blog posts and attracting more readers to pay attention to this information I’m compiling.

Eventually I’d like to include online interviews with the authors, encourage all authors to create their own podcasts and videos about themselves and their writing, and allow them to “give a brief reading” from their books via a podcast or video. Online literary “salons” are also a possibility in the future. (I have a lot of ideas for developing this promotion series, and all ideas have already been approved, I’m happy to say, by Betty Jane Hegerat! I’ve promised her that no dressing up as clowns will be involved.)

I’m up for suggestions from readers, too … What would you like to know/hear about new-to-you authors?

Links will be provided to all published work and author websites. These promotion pieces will be brief, but I’m hoping they will offer enough information to encourage more readers to seek out and read books by authors who I personally recommend.

Best Books Read in 2016 – Part 2

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!

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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.

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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

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
I reread this important book on writing and wrote a blog post about it.

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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

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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.

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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 …

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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.

Tropical Fiction – a genre whose time has come!

This is actually a “From the vaults” post, because I’m reblogging most of the original post, Announcing Tropical Fiction – a new genre, from Aug., 2013, with a few changes and an update, after discussing with Tim Baker again about how to best market novels like ours that are set in tropical climes. So, here goes …

I’ve had more than my fair share of ideas in my time – some great, some good, some worth forgetting (although we won’t tell my readers about those ideas, will we, Betty Jane?). No matter what the idea, though, I’ve always tended to think outside the box and come up with a new way of considering every matter at hand.

I was listening to Surf 97.3, Flagler Beach Radio on the Internet recently and the DJ kept talking about all the Trop Rock this station plays. It took me a moment, but then I realized he meant Tropical Rock, beach music – you know, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Jimmy Buffet. And if this can be a category for music then why not …?

Take categorizing fiction, for instance. I have written and published one novel, Island in the Clouds, in a projected series set on the Caribbean island of Bequia, where Dennis and I own a home.

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The setting itself is central to the novel. The story would never have been the same had I set it back in Calgary or Toronto or any other place I’ve lived. I know there are many other books like mine that are set in tropical climes and in which that setting becomes very important to the actual telling of the story.

The real property manager reads about a fictional property manager while in the exact same setting as shown on the book's cover! Life imitating art imitating life?

The real property manager reads about a fictional property manager while in the exact same setting as shown on the book’s cover! Life imitating art imitating life?

So, I thought, what if we were to coin a new name for this genre? I came up with Tropical Fiction and, since it was my idea, after all, I’m going to stretch the parameters to include any writing set in-on-or-near, or written by an author who lives within proximity to, a beach. That way, I can include the books of my good buddy Tim Baker who, coincidentally, writes about Flagler Beach, FL, Home of Surf 97.3 for which he also now works as a DJ! (There’s even a beach on the cover of one of his novels, Unfinished Business, so he gets bonus points!) And W.K. Blais who lives near a beach in California. After all, what’s the point of having a great idea if you can’t spread around the benefits among your friends? (Since first writing this, I have created the promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, and have featured both Tim Baker and W.K. Blais there. And Betty Jane Hegerat for that matter, too!)

Here’s the complete description of my new genre:

Tropical Fiction – Set in the Tropics or Written by a Tropics-based Author – The Ultimate “Beach” Read

I particularly like the Ultimate Beach Read part, because what better reading material is there for enjoying a beach visit (or virtual visit) than a book about or set on a beach? I ask you!

A show of hands now … How many of you remember the novel The Beach by Alex Garland, set in Thailand? (I’m not talking about the movie, but the book.) This book fits very well into my new genre, this new category I’m developing. And how about Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not and The Old Man and the Sea. Or Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night and the writing of Dominican-born Jean Rhys. Can you think of any others? Please add the titles below in the comments section.

And let’s start bandying about this new genre classification, okay? I’d appreciate your help with getting the word out so this becomes an accepted name for the style of books that I write , and that many others have written – in the past, currently are writing, and will publish in the future.

Or … if you’ve written a book that fits into this category, please tell us about it, and you! Are you living in a tropical place and writing books? Tell us!! Please post a link below. I would eventually like to collect authors’ names and their titles, and will think of a way to list these links, possibly on a permanent page on this blog. That way, we can promote ALL of these books and this new genre of Tropical Fiction to the world!

And here’s the likely cover we’re going with for my next novel … that’s a photo taken by Dennis at least 20 years ago of Industry Beach on Bequia looking out towards the islands of Balliceaux and Battawia. This view still looks pretty much the same today. (Cover designed by Jenny Ryan!)

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(I’d better get that second novel finished and published!!)

Reading Recommendations 2nd Anniversary Congratulations From Two Readers!

Violet Gaspe and Cheryl Schenk are two of the reasons Reading Recommendations still exists after two years of operation. It’s because of dedicated READERS like these women that I continue to promote and recommend books and their authors. They not only subscribe to the blog, but read the posts and find many of their next-great-reads on the site – and they pay attention when I recommend a book, even those by authors I’m not actually promoting on the site! Plus they talk about the books and authors they discover on RR with their friends and other readers. This site would not be what it is today without READERS like Violet and Cheryl who actually read and enjoy the books I promote there. Here they are to tell you what the site means to them …

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From Violet Gaspe …
Congratulations Reading Recommendations Year Two!

This milestone is achieved through the dedicated effort of my old friend Sue. I have known Sue for over thirty years; back to the days when she held home parties to promote books and writers. Sue now has a much broader audience through social media. She has introduced me to so many writers. Who would I begin to name? Who will I forget to mention? So, I decided to name the last six fiction writers I have read or am presently reading.

Tim Baker, Seumas Gallacher, Kent Haruf, Sue Monk Kidd, J.P. McLean and Diana Stevan (who was recommended by J.P. McLean). Some of the writers had me in tears (Haruf), some had me waking at dawn to continue the adventure (Stevan). I lost sleep trying to figure out what happens next (Baker, Gallacher, J.P. McLean). And there were books I didn’t want to end because I loved the story so much (Sue Monk Kidd). Writers unite, promote each other and continue letting readers such as myself discover your creativity.

Titles: The Gift: Penance; Ours Souls at Night; A Cry From the Deep; Secret Life of Bees; Eyewitness Blues; The Violin’s Man’s Legacy.

From Cheryl Shenck …
Congratulations Reading Recommendations on this, your 2nd Anniversary

Every writer needs a friend, someone that understands, promotes and enlightens. Someone that isn’t family and doesn’t necessarily LOVE everything we do, but will offer fair and creative criticism.

Susan Toy is that friend, and her creation of Reading Recommendations is invaluable to writers and readers alike. She is not only a kind-hearted soul, she is also a wealth of information and a continuously strong supporter of authors, both established and up and coming.

I was fortunate to meet Susan at a writers’ conference several years ago and from that time I have followed her on Facebook and Twitter, and I have since become addicted to her Reading Recommendations. Through her blogs I have been turned on to authors I feel privileged to have read and to books I am proud to promote as well.

I hope to follow these recommendations for a long time to come and maybe one day, if the Writing Gods are kind, will find myself featured as one of her authors.

The following are a few of my favourite writers (all of whom have been promoted through Reading Recommendations) and the books that got me started. If you haven’t read them, check them out. I think you’ll be pleasantly impressed with what you find.

Susan M ToyIsland in the Clouds (it had to be said)
Betty Jane HegeratThe Boy
Kevin BrennanYesterday Road
Tim BakerLiving The Dream
Seumas GallacherSavage Payback
Chris TuckerLost Voyage
L G PomerleauBecoming Sand

Again, congratulations, Susan. I am happy to call you “friend”.

Cheryl Schenk can be contacted on Twitter @cherylschenk

Thank you to Violet and Cheryl! It’s READERS like you who are the reason we WRITE!

If you have discovered a new-to-you author through Reading Recommendations who then became a personal favourite, please share their name below in the comments section. I’d love to hear from READERS who have found this site to be helpful in recommending new reading selections. After all, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Spreading the word about Great Authors and their books!

From Wallace Stegner … on writing

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“Young writers should be encouraged to write, and discouraged from
thinking they are writers.”

-Wallace Stegner

Every writer – young, beginning, established and accomplished – would be wise to read and reread Stegner’s On the Teaching of Creative Writing (1988), then read any of his own novels, short stories or non-fiction for an excellent crash-course education in “how to write creatively” from the master himself – the man who studied at the University of Iowa and founded the creative writing program at Stanford University, where he in turn taught many great authors.

My personal favourites of the many books Wallace Stegner wrote and published are Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety. I have reread both many times, but am never able to decide which I prefer – they are both that good! The other non-fiction book I have always enjoyed is Wolf Willow: A History, a Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier covering the short period the Stegner family spent living at Eastend, Saskatchewan. When I was a publishers’ sales rep, I made a detour during one of my road trips so I could visit the town and see his homestead, which has since been refurbished and is available as a retreat for authors. My friend, Betty Jane Hegerat (previously featured on Reading Recommendations), spent a very reflective and productive month living in the house for a month a number of years ago, and still speaks fondly of that time.

For more information on Wallace Stegner please visit this website. Click here for a bibliography.

Traditionally Published Authors on Reading Recommendations

I recently reblogged a post by Dylan Hearn in which he pledged to support his fellow self-published Authors and “Pay It Forward” by buying, reading and reviewing their books. In that blog post, I listed eight self-published Authors who had been promoted on Reading Recommendations – Authors whose writing had impressed me.

I also said I’d be back with a list of traditionally published Authors I have featured on my blog … again, those whose writing has impressed me, or whose books I’ve read and enjoyed immensely. (I am only listing Authors here if I’ve actually read one of their books. I still have many books yet to read, so I will no doubt be adding to this list at a later date.)

So, in alphabetical order, here is my list of traditionally published Authors! (All links take you to their promo page on Reading Recommendations.)

Brian Brennan
Katherine Govier
Linda Granfield
Jacqueline Guest
Betty Jane Hegerat
Rebecca Heishman
Barb Howard
Dave Margoshes (While I have not yet read this book nor the latest being published in Sept., I do know that Dave is a fine writer!)
David A. Poulsen

Now that I look back over this list, I realize most of these Authors have been writing and publishing for many years (a few of them for many, many years!) and I know most of them personally, having met all but one during my career as a bookseller and sales rep. In fact, I was a sales rep for four of these authors! So many good memories, and I’m pleased that all are still writing and publishing.

I highly recommend the books by all of these traditionally published Authors!

On editing and writing and agents

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On Editing
From Jeff Goins Writer: Why Writers Can’t Edit Their Own Work
From wordserve water cooler: Editing Tips by henrymclaughlin

On Writing
From terribleminds: 25 Things to Know About Your Story’s Stakes
If you’re looking for a way to write really popular, commercial fiction, here’s a cheat sheet of rules that all the movies seem to follow … that is, if you don’t mind your story sounds like those written by everyone else. From Slate: The Save the Cat! beat sheet
From C. Hope Clark: Why Do You Write? AND Make Yourself Good
From The Writing Corp: How To Write Well
From wordserve watercooler: What Does Your Hero Yearn For? by henrymclaughlin
From IndieReader: 8 Moments When You Swear You’ll Never Write Again by jleff
From Aerogramme Writers’ Studio: 23 Tips From Famous Writers for New and Emerging Authors

On Agents
From Books & Such: Let Your Agent Be the Bad Guy by Rachelle Gardner AND Query Letters: Why request? Why reject? by Rachel Kent
From Rachelle Gardner: How to Impress an Agent

And a wonderful short story written by Calgary writer Betty Jane Hegerat for your weekend reading pleasure, and to celebrate the impending birth of a little princess or prince … The Queen is Coming. Enjoy!