Tag Archives: Books

Readers … resolve to read more in 2019!

HUGE THANKS to Allan Hudson for hosting me once again on his blog, South Branch Scribbler!
Following is much of that original post. Please visit Allan’s link to read in its entirety.


I am a reader and I read a lot of books! No matter how many I read however I never seem to catch up with my ginormous to-be-read stack/list of books. Even though I try to follow Dr. Seuss’s advice:

I never manage to come even close to catching up.

But then that’s part of the fun in reading, isn’t it? The search for new books to read, test-driving new authors’ writing, the joy in “discovering” a new-to-you book or even a genre that you’ve never read before. I’ve spent my entire life reading and working with books and authors and am an author now myself, yet I never tire of reading, thinking about, discussing, recommending and discovering new books!

I know there are many others out there just like me, too, so that’s why I say to you now – Make it your New Year’s resolution to read even more in 2019! You don’t need to count the books you do read, or compare numbers you’ve read with others. We are all different, we readers, not only in how fast we can read, but also in when and where we like to read, how we approach our reading, and even why or what we read in the first place. So no judgement calls here at all, folks! Just the suggestion that if you enjoy reading, you might want to make it a priority in your life to read even more.  I won’t go into the many ways that you can make more time to read. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.

To help other readers along a little bit with suggestions as to what they might consider reading, I recently created a Facebook Group Your next great read … suggestions for readers and authors that I hope will not only generate lists of books and authors for other readers to enjoy reading, but also some discussion about books and reading in general. It’s an open group and anyone may join – authors too, because authors are (or should be!!) readers themselves. Self-promotion is allowed, but authors are requested to contribute information on other books and authors, as well. I would love to see – eventually – a large membership of readers from all around the world (and we already have the beginnings of an international group) who benefit from the reading experience of everyone. I’m particularly interested in world literature (although only what is available in English, in my case) so I would love to hear about authors in other countries, especially non-English-speaking, who are publishing books that are available in English translation. I know other members already contributing to the site are also interested in particular genres or types of writing. Why not join us and see if you find something new-to-you that becomes Your Next Great Read!

So, Readers, are you ready to resolve to read more in 2019? I hope so, and that you will consider joining us. And, if you’re not on Facebook but are still looking for ways to encourage yourself to stick with this resolution of reading more, I suggest you consider following these blogs …

(This one, of course!) Allan Hudson’s South Branch Scribbler

Seumas Gallacher’s blog

And my own blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing (I’m planning on writing a series, actually, about all the How, When, Why, Where, What, and Who on reading – subscribe to my blog and Stay Tuned!)

I mention these blogs primarily because we three authors make a habit of promoting other authors and their books. We also all write or have written about writing and publishing as self-published authors and we reblog interesting articles and blog posts written by other authors as well. As my personal interest has swayed from selling books to finding more readers for writing in general, I’ve written a number of posts aimed at readers (as well as addressing directly authors who continue to promote their own work too much!). You might find something interesting in one of these articles:

Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?

A challenge to all Readers …

HOW to get promotion for yourself and your book … 

The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee


The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: a memoir, a history
by Lewis Buzbee
Published by Graywolf Press
Where to Purchase
(oh, so much more than just a list of links!)

This also is so much more than just a review or a recommendation of a book and why I am posting about it here on my main blog first before reblogging on Reading Recommendations. If you are an author or have worked in any aspect of the book business, you will want to read this book for a better understanding of how books have generally been sold (both to bookstores and through them) over past decades. It will also give you a concise history of the book trade in general – something I’ve railed on about for years! If you want to write and publish a book and then sell copies to readers, you need to know something about the business in order to be successful.

3. Learn something about how the entire publishing and bookselling business works

Recommended Books on the Publishing Business and Book Sales
The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson (Hyperion, 2008)
The Perilous Trade: Book Publishing in Canada 1946-2006 by Roy MacSkimming (McClelland & Stewart, 2007)
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, A History by Lewis Buzbee (Graywolf Press, 2006)

These reasons alone should be enough to read Lewis Buzbee’s book.
But, in case you need more …

Those of you who have read my bio know that before I began writing and publishing my own books, I spent my entire working life in and around selling books written by other authors and published by traditional publishers. I was a bookseller in Calgary (and even ran my own mail order book business for the few years I lived in Elkford, BC). Then I became a publishers’ sales rep for an agency that sold books for more than 30 Canadian-based publishers. Some of those publishers in turn were agents for US and UK-based publishers. That was from 1989-1994 and my territory was Southern Alberta and Southern Saskatchewan. I left that job to move to the Caribbean. In 2008, I was asked to come back and cover the territory of Alberta for the same agency. Among the books left in storage when I took over this job was Lewis’s. (It had been published in 2006 by Graywolf Press, St. Paul, MN, which was distributed at that time by Vancouver-based Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.) I kept the copy, mainly because it’s a beautiful paperback edition with an attractive cover, the US publisher had always published excellent literature, and the topic – a memoir about the book trade and books – was something that was of immense interest to me. I set the book aside and didn’t get around to actually reading it until after I’d quit my job as a sales rep, for the second time. I was still in the book business, but by that time I worked directly with other authors, concentrating on promoting rather than selling their books.

This book was a personal read for me, because as it turned out, Lewis’s experiences, both as a bookseller and as a sales rep, corresponded and intersected with my own. Lewis never mentions the publisher he represented, but at one point in the book he describes a “heated discussion” he’d had with a bookseller about a particular children’s book – and I realized I had also sold that same book for that particular publisher … and I still have the book in my collection! So it seems we were contemporaries, with Lewis representing in California and me in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

I brought my copy of The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop with me to Bequia in October and reread the book a few weeks ago. After that, I contacted with Lewis through social media and told him I would be writing this review. Aside from the professional connection I had with Lewis, I was reminded of how well-written the book is, and how important a book it is for any and all authors to read. I had previously included the title on lists of recommended reading I’d created for authors so they could learn more about the business. Now I’m even more adamant that you seek out and read this book. Here’s the main reason …

When I was a rep and had the opportunity to introduce myself to authors I was representing, they often said, “I didn’t know I had a sales rep.” I always wanted to reply, “How do you think your book has made it onto the shelves of bookstores and libraries?” The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop explains just that, and more. Finally! Sales reps like me had validation after long being the unsung heroes and heroines of the book business! Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away here, but you get the picture. Plus, as being in the business of repping has done for me, with this industry knowledge perhaps you’ll also be able to think of new ways to promote and sell your own books and those of other authors as we lose more and more of the traditional brick and mortar bookstores, and publishers’ sales reps go the way of the dinosaurs.

Aside from the personal aspects of this book, I also enjoyed reading it, twice, because it was so well written and interesting. It will appeal to readers in general and, like me, you’ll likely be checking out and reading the other books Lewis Buzbee has written. Here’s a link to his website. Besides, first and foremost, Lewis is a READER and The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is filled with titles and authors’ names and the complete lifelong delight in reading good books. You’ll find yourself making lists.

Thanks, Lewis, for writing such an important book! (And did you also sell Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine series?)

My personal copy with that "questionable" rabbit book.

My personal copy with that “questionable” rabbit book.


On Writing, Part 1 – getting started

This is the first blog post in a 3-part series in which I have compiled links to articles and blogs that I hope will be helpful for the beginning Writer – and may even be of interest to you seasoned Authors out there, too.


Why we feel compelled to write …
From Advice to Writers: Five Common Traits of Good Writers by James J. Kilpatrick
From Interesting Literature: 10 Great Quotations from Writers About Writing
From wordserve water cooler: Want to Write a Book? The Next Patch of Light by Gillian Marchenko
From Carving Out a Space: Great Wall of Husks: Utopia in the Making by Candice Mizell
From Writer unBoxed: Why We Write by John Vorhaus
From chazzwrites.com: Proving Dead Moms Wrong: Writing a book is among the least cynical things you can do by Robert Chazz Chute
From MorgEn Bailey’s Writing Blog: Guest post: The Seven Things You Need to Become a Writer by Melodie Campbell

Why we struggle with writing …
From men with pens: The Real Reason Why You Can’t Write by Esther Litchfield-Fink
From chazzwrites.com: Top Ten: Some things no one tells you about writing (#4 is my favourit.)
From Writer unBoxed: How to Uncage Your Inner Writer? Ask Your Inner Pulitzer-Prize-Winner by Julianna Baggott
From Nathan Bransford: Writing and Depression


What we must do when we have a story that needs to be told …
From MorgEn Bailey Writing Blog: Francine Silverman interviews writer Patricia Fry
Very important advice from this interview: I always recommend that hopeful authors study the publishing industry before getting involved in this highly competitive business.
From Andrew Wille: Tell Me a Story
From Writers Write: Dear Writer – A Story of a Story

How we get started …
From Green-Fingered Writer: 7 great books about writing
I’m adding the following to this list: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
From Writer unBoxed: The Lessons I Should Have Learned from Stephen King’s On Writing …
by Jeannie Ruesch
From Anne R. Allen’s Blog: Six Pieces of Bad Advice New Writers Need to Ignore and Six More Pieces of Bad Advice for Writers to Ignore
From The Elephant in the Writing Room: Writing rules I no longer follow


And, after all that, if you still want to write, be sure to read my next blog posts in this series: On Writing, Part 2 – following through and On Writing, Part 3 – getting help …

Hello, old friends …

So good to see you again! To dust off our friendship, rearrange, put you back into order, reminisce …

I decided that, since it’s raining this morning and looks as though it’s likely not to stop anytime soon, today is a good day to begin the arduous task of cleaning the bookshelves in the living room. Arduous, I say, because there are one hell-of-a-lot of books in this house – approximately 1500-2000 in the living room and 500 in the kitchen – so it’s not an easy task to get around to doing this on a regular basis.



The problem, or actually PROBLEMS, with keeping print books in the tropics is/are: sea spray, sun, wind, humidity, rain, dust, leaves, lizards, spiders, bookworms, and other kinds of insects and rodents you don’t want to know about. (Not to mention well-meaning housekeepers who remove the books to dust, but don’t realize they are all placed on the shelves in a strict genre-and-alphabetical order … ) It means that those shelves end up looking like this:

new 117

(Trust me, much more gross in real life than the few cobwebs/insect bodies shown here … but I didn’t want to show you the truth and have you thinking I’m a total slob. )

And the books, generally look like this, requiring that EACH ONE be vacuumed, pages fanned to release critters (both dead and still crawling), wiped clean with a damp cloth, some disintegrating dust covers thrown out altogether:

new 116

In other words, time-consuming, so the job only gets completely done (by me) every year or three.

But, really, the time-consuming part is in handling each book separately, lovingly – okay, fondling the books! – remembering why I’ve kept each one all these years, what I loved about the authors and their writing, visitng again with those authors I’ve met during my bookish life, those who became, and have remained, my friends … It’s really more than just an accounting and listing of the books I own; more an assessment of what’s there, what I’ve kept by me throughout my life, and why. Aside from all the dust, dirt, grime, and lizard guano (or skeletons) involved in the job, it’s the most pleasurable thing I can think of to do on this rainy day on Bequia. (And it’s also a good excuse to avoid writing novel #2, now that I think of it!)

new 113

Here are some further thoughts on specific books (from the first shelf only – mostly fiction) that are in my possession, just in case you’re at all interested:

What’s on my shelf – 1

And a picture of Mr. Griz, when he was just a wee mite, and loved hanging out behind us on the shelves just above our heads whenever we sat on the couch watching TV. What better place for a kitten to hide than behind all those books! And see what good taste in books he has – he’s perched on top of my Cormac McCarthy collection. Smart cat!


Publishing in 2010

There was a good article in the Globe & Mail today (NB. Kim McArthur, quoted in this article, closed her Canadian publishing company in 2013) about the future of publishing in Canada, and the effect, during their very brief life, so far, that e-readers and e-books have had, are having, are expected to have, on publishing of traditional print books. Not surprisingly, it’s actually the older readers who have embraced this new technology, and for the very reasons why trade format paperbacks became a popular alternative to mass market format a couple of decades or so ago, and not only for publishing “serious” literary fiction – but because they offered bigger print for failing eyesight. Mine is also the group (Boomers) who read the most “books” (in any form), and buy the most books, because we have a disposable income; we belong to book clubs in larger numbers than any other generation; and, while I haven’t checked my facts on this next statement, I’m going to throw out there that we are also a more educated group overall, the majority of us having studied liberal arts, rather than receiving specialized learning, or job preparation, that seem to be the norm now. (i.e. We received an education that not only encouraged us to read, but also encouraged us to think about, and discuss, what we were reading, and we value print books.) Plus my peer group is proving to be lifelong learners, with many of us going back to school in order to study “for fun” and/or personal enrichment. Again, that disposable income, as well as retirement.

I was one of the most vocal naysayers, not too long ago, who was dismayed at the thought that a computer might one day replace all of my lovely print books that take up a great deal of room on my shelves. But I too have come around to seeing the many benefits of reading a book online (mainly from having read advance manuscripts in PDF format and finding that very convenient indeed, not to mention being a cost-saver for the publishers), and of having whatever I want to read next available at a click. Environmental concerns alone should be enough to send most people out to buy an e-reader. Think of all the paper that will eventually be saved.

My real concern about the publishing business, though, and where I believe we should all be concentrating our efforts, is in getting the word out as to who is currently writing, and what books are available to be read. You can’t believe the number of people who ask me, “What should I read next?” There are fewer places that promote or review books, or maybe it’s just that the promotion being done is not all that effective. Whatever the reason, the information just isn’t getting to the people who want to read. So that’s where I see the challenges in 2010. Many people still do read, and whether they read books in traditional print form or as e-books really shouldn’t matter – so long as they’re receiving the information as to who is writing, about what is being published, and what might interest them enough to want to plunk down the money to buy a print book or an e-book. It’s time to start thinking creatively here, and promote outside the box. We need people who will champion books, authors, and reading in general.