Tag Archives: Friday Reads

2012 – A Year of Alberta Books Canada Literary Salons

Since Nov. 2011, Alberta Books Canada hosted a series of literary salons in Calgary that brought together readers with Alberta authors in the intimate setting of a private home for readings and discussions about books and writing. Now that this series has come to an end, I wanted to recap all the salons and share with everyone a list of the authors who took part.

What made these salons different from the usual readings in bookstores and libraries, besides being held in private homes, is that they were based on the model of music house parties where the audience is charged an admission fee and all money collected is paid to the artists. My intention in setting up the salons in this way was so the authors would receive payment for having entertained us, and the audience would realize they should not expect authors to perform for free. After all, the amount any author receives from the royalties of book sales is a mere pittance. We need to show our appreciation for their work in more ways than just by buying a copy of their book – although that does help. As one author said when asked how much she made from each book: “I’m lucky to see a dollar, if that.” And we all know that a book published in Canada these days is considered as selling well if it passes 500 copies. 200 copies for poetry.

We experimented with Skype at a couple of these salons, with audience members able to attend and participate from a distance. Pearl Luke of Book Club Buddy took an active part during one discussion while still in her Thailand home. I also read from, and sold (through the cooperation of Monkeyshines), my new eBook that was not yet available in print at that time. At one salon, two of the authors showed videos they had created. And we invited two musicians to join the authors at two other salons and play some of their own music.

Thanks to everyone who was involved in this series. To Sue Hill of Monkeyshines Children’s Books for selling books at each of the salons, and to all the hosts who graciously opened their homes to us so we could enjoy these get-togethers in the true fashion of a traditional European artistic salon.

But a special thanks to Anne Sorbie for creating and publishing limited edition chapbooks that offered a commemorative collection of writing by the authors involved in each of the salons.

And a huge THANK YOU to our very dedicated audience (some of you attended every salon we offered!!) for being so attentive, for buying the books, and for reading! And, as well, to all the authors who participated. We could not have done any of this without your fine writing and generosity in sharing that writing with us!

Nov. 29, 2011

Betty Jane Hegerat
Lori Hahnel
Rosemary Griebel
Bob Stallworthy

Dec. 14, 2011

Aritha van Herk
Anne Sorbie
Gordon Sombrowski
Tom Phillips, singer/songwriter

Jan. 18, 2012 – Current and former Calgary Distinguished Writers’ Program Writers-In-Residence

Jeramy Dodds
Rosemary Nixon
Marcello Di Cintio
Richard Harrison

Mar. 27, 2012Self: No longer a four-letter word

Claudette Brown
Derek Donais
Collin Paulson
Susan M. Toy
Andrew Riches, musician

June 13, 2012 – New offerings by established authors

Barb Howard
Maureen Bush
Steve Owad
Weyman Chan

Sept. 30, 2012 – Mentors and Mentoring

Barb Howard and Sudhir Jain
Betty Jane Hegerat and Ali Bryan
Discussion led by Robyn Read and Pearl Luke (via Skype)

Nov. 18, 2012 – Working with a publisher’s editor (cosponsored by University of Alberta Press)

Alice Major
Kath MacLean
Geo Takach
Peter Midgley


From our final salon, Back L-R – Peter Midgley, Kath MacLean, Susan Toy, Geo Takach; Front L-R – Sue Hill (Monkeyshines), Alice Major, Cathie Crooks (UofA Press)

Friday Reads – In the Teeth of the Gods by Glenn Dixon

In the teeth photo cover final

This weekend, I’ll be reading a new novel written by Calgary author (and friend!), Glenn Dixon. Glenn not only sort-of cheered me on (as I remember, his actual words may have been, “Are you crazy???”) and took photos while I had my head shaved during the Bare Naked Noggins Head Shave for the Epilepsy Association of Calgary on Nov. 15th, but he also has the distinction of being one of the few authors from Calgary who has visited me on Bequia!

Glenn previously wrote and published an excellent non-fiction title, Pilgrim in the Palace of Words: A Journey Through the 6000 Languages of Earth, and in 2013, he will be releasing a new non-fiction, Tripping the World Fantastic: A Journey Through the Music of Our Planet. (Research for this book was what brought him to my part of the Caribbean.) Both books are published by Dundurn Press of Toronto.

In the Teeth of the Gods: The great ballgame and the apocalypse of Mayan thrones is currently available as a Kindle eBook. For more information and to order a copy, check out Glenn’s website. Glenn is also an accomplished videographer and musician. Have a look at the book trailer on the site.

So, before the world ends on Dec. 21st – according to the Mayan calendar – I’ll be spending what time I have left reading about the first and real Mayan Apocalypse. Although I hope the world doesn’t end as predicted, because I’m looking forward to reading that new book of Glenn’s coming out next year about the music of the world!

ABC Friday Reads – A Recap

This past couple of weeks my time and energy have been consumed with preparing to leave Calgary for warmer climes for at least the winter months. I’d decided to temporarily suspend operations of Alberta |Books Canada, move back to the Caribbean, and figure out how I will reorganize my time and my life. Oh, and also to work on the second novel of my Bequia Perspectives series.

So I won’t be posting any new ABC Friday Reads suggestions to my blog for now, other than this Recap today of all previous posts, just in case you missed any of them. There’s lots of fine reading here that should continue to keep you busy throughout the winter – Enjoy!

ABC Friday Reads – University of Alberta Press Authors!

Alberta Books Canada and the University of Alberta Press are hosting a literary salon on Sunday afternoon this weekend at a private house in Calgary. There will be readings and presentations by all four guest authors followed by a discussion of the topic, Working With a Publisher’s Editor.

UAP’s acquiring editor, Peter Midgley, who is himself a published author and professional storyteller, will be joined by Alice Major, Kath Maclean and Geo Takach. Each will read from their work, show videos and book trailers, or tell us a story. Should be a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon in November!

For Friday Reads this week, I’m recommending you click on the links above, discover more about these Alberta authors and their books, and join us by settling in to read one or more of these great books published by University of Alberta Press!

ABC Friday Reads – Brian Brennan and Lee Kvern

This week, I’m recommending books for your weekend reading pleasure that are written by two Alberta authors who are currently serving as writers-in-residence in Calgary. I have had the opportunity this week to consult with both authors on my own writing, so I wanted to give them a shout-out for making themselves available to emerging writers and so ably helping all of us improve our writing, as well as continuing to write and publish their own fine work.

Brian Brennan is this year’s Calgary Public Library Writer-in-Residence with an office in the Memorial Park Branch. Brian’s most recent books are his own story and the history of the Calgary Public Library.

Leaving Dublin: Writing My Way from Ireland to Canada
Paperback ISBN: 978-1926855745
Published Rocky Mountain Books
Inspiring Life Stories: 100 Years of Calgary Public Library
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1926832-11-1
Published by Calgary Public Library

Lee Kvern is the Canadian Author’s Association writer-in-residence this year and is meeting with writers at Owl’s Nest Bookstore in Calgary. Lee’s most recent novel was published in 2011.

The Matter of Sylvie
Paperback ISBN: 9781926972220
Published by Brindle & Glass

ABC Friday Reads – Thomas Wharton

Since I am attending the Rural Libraries Conference hosted by the Peace Library System in Grande Prairie this Friday, I thought it would be appropriate to recommend the writing of Albertan author, Thomas Wharton, for your Friday Reads pleasure this weekend. Thomas was born in Grande Prairie!

I have two of Tom’s books on the Alberta Books Canada display table at this conference. Both are volumes in his The Perilous Realm YA Fantasy Trilogy. The third book in the series will be published next year.

Thomas is an award-winning author who has previously published critically acclaimed fiction for adults. He received his PhD from the University of Calgary after working with Aritha van Herk, another ABC Friday Reads author. Wharton is currently a professor of writing and English at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and head of the creative writing department.

Here’s a link to a great book trailer created for his latest release, The Fathomless Fire.

And here’s a post that Thomas wrote for his blog on being an Alberta writer.

And there’s a double-barreled reason for reading Thomas’s books this weekend – he will also be reading and signing books at Word on the Street in Lethbridge on Sunday!

ABC Friday Reads – Myrna Kostash

Myrna Kostash has just delivered her keynote address to the Northern Lights Library System Conference, so I am recommending her books for this week’s Alberta Books Canada Friday Reads.

I’ve known of Myrna’s writing since I first moved to Alberta in 1978 and began working at The Guild Gallery of Artists and Authors in Calgary. She had published a very successful book with Hurtig Publishers of Edmonton, All of Baba’s Children, that we could not keep on the shelf. It sold out almost as soon as we unpacked new stock. As Myrna told us today, that book still remains in print.

Her most recent book, The Prodigal Daughter, A Journey to Byzantium, was published by University of Alberta Press in 2010 and follows a return to her spiritual sources in Byzantium and the Eastern Christian Orthodox Church.

Myrna is an acclaimed writer of literary and creative nonfiction and she lives in Edmonton. For a complete bibliography and biography, please visit her website.

An excellent speech, by the way. Almost like a mini-writing lesson in many ways. Another time I met and spoke with Myrna was when she taught the nonfiction class at the Fernie Writers’ Conference.

ABC Friday Reads – Still Not Conforming!

In June, I wrote a blog post about the book, The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau extolling its virtues BEFORE I had even read the book.

Since then, I met Chris when he spoke in Calgary, bought both his books and asked him to sign them, have read them and written another blog post about AONC… and am now reading ANOC again. I brought both books with me to Bequia and am leaving them for Dennis to read.

I really can’t stress enough that neither of these books is for everyone. You need to have a certain mindset, and be open to making a change in your life, because what Chris talks about throughout is NOT CONFORMING – breaking the accepted rules and setting new ones that suit you alone, so that you may live the life you want to live, unconstrained by a job you don’t enjoy or by being in a place you don’t want to be.

Oh, yeah… and then there’s the Change the World part of Chris’s books.

I read an article this morning in Canada’s newspaper, The Globe and Mail. The writer points out that “one in two Canadian adults falls short of the desired proficiency level in English or French, while close to three in five lack the desired level of numeracy skills.” While I was living on Bequia during the late 90s early 00s, I taught literacy to both adults and teenagers. The rate of illiteracy in St. Vincent & the Grenadines holds steady at about 40%. I had always said then that if every one who could read taught one person who cannot read, we would wipe out illiteracy.

So, back to Chris’ books and changing the world… I’m, at this moment, sitting on my Bequia verandah, looking out at Admiralty Bay, drinking a second cup of coffee, and organizing myself before I catch a plane later this morning to fly back to Calgary – and it hit me! What Chris calls creating a legacy and what I could be giving back to the world while I’m not conforming in the rest of my life, is literacy. Once again, I could work at teaching others to read by developing a promotional campaign to educate the literate people of the world about my every-one-who-can-teaches-one-who-can’t motto. I’m trying to come up with a snappy name for this, something like “One to One” or 1-2-1 (for the illiterate who recognize numbers only). Any suggestions on this will be gratefully appreciated and considered. Just comment below. The name isn’t as important, though, as the message that I hope to spread – that illiteracy is a problem, but something can be done about it, if everyone pitches in.

Just think of the number of people who would then be able to join us each Friday and not only read these blog posts of mine recommending weekend reads, and those suggestions offered by others in the FridayReads network, but also the number who would then be able to read all the books being written and published in the world. So, perhaps a bit self-serving on my part since I hope to increase the audience for books I’ll be publishing through IslandCatEditions and those written and published by my friends and Alberta Books Canada colleagues, but really and truly, I do want this to become my legacy, because it is dear to my heart and a program if which I will be proud to build awareness throughout the rest of my life. Thanks, Chris!

Read Chris Guillebeau’s books this weekend and find out how he will inspire you to act!

ABC Friday Reads – Writing Not Reading This Weekend!

Tonight at midnight marks the beginning of the International 3-Day Novel Contest and I am an entrant!

So I’m preparing myself today to begin writing a novel that I have completely plotted out (in my mind, at least). I will draw up an outline later today then begin filling in the blanks after midnight tonight. This will be my fourth time entering this particular contest. I managed to complete and submit manuscripts twice out of those three previous attempts and now have two decent and complete novellas and a collection of linked short stories that still needs work. This contest is a terrific way to kickstart your writing. It’s nowhere near as gruelling as you may think. As long as you have someone around willing to make coffee for you and look after preparing meals – one who doesn’t disturb you during the rest of the time – and you’re prepared with a complete storyline in mind then you have it made!

In fact, the most difficult aspect of the entire weekend is avoiding the total distraction of the internet… at least, that’s the greatest difficulty for me!

Will be back on Tuesday morning to let you all know how I fared…

ABC Friday Reads – Robert Kroetsch

One of the most influential Canadian authors, Robert Kroetsch wrote about this place called Alberta, even though he spent much of his life living outside of the province. The number of Alberta authors, in particular, who were mentored, instructed, encouraged, or even just befriended by this man are far too many to list. He touched all of us in different ways – but I can attest that even a slight touch from Kroetsch was enough to make a difference in the way we write and approach this business of publishing. Readers, as well, were introduced to this place called Alberta, a place that Kroetsch’s eastern publishers (and that would be Toronto) thought he must have made up. It couldn’t exist, they told him. (Click here to listen to many archived podcasts of wonderful interviews conducted by Bob Chelmick on his The Road Home programme on CKUA.)

Well, he did make up some of what he wrote, because that’s what all good fiction writers do – they lie. But he was one of the first to actually write about this place we call home, and write about it very well.

We lost Robert Kroetsch in a car accident last year, on my birthday. The entire book community was stunned, shocked, when we realized that this wonderful man was no longer with us. I wrote a blog post about this, and of my experience of having known the man.

In recent years, University of Alberta Press had been working with Robert Kroetsch in reissuing all his earlier works, and they published what turned out to be his last collection of poetry, Too Bad in 2010. Cathie Crooks, Sales and Marketing Manager at UAP, was also creating a dedicated website for Kroetsch and all of his books at the time of his death. This comprehensive site has finally been launched, so to help celebrate, I am recommending the writing of Robert Kroetsch for this week’s Alberta Books Canada Friday Reads selection.

We still miss you fiercely, Robert Kroetsch!