Tag Archives: Kevin Brennan

A-R International … Self-Isolating Authors Edition: Part 4

This is the fourth part of a series in which Authors who I’ve promoted in the Authors-Readers International series tell Readers what they’ve been doing during these past few months of self-isolating … See the introduction to Part 1 for a further explanation. Here are links to Part 2 and Part 3. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)

David Poulsen

David Poulsen created a YouTube video for his reading of his book, I Wish I Could Be Like Tommy Blake. As David says on his website: Because it’s written for the little guys, we always have a lot of fun with the character (who like me) wants to be like the cool kid in the school, and, of course, Ron Desnoyers’ amazing illustrations are hugely popular as well. I thought that with kids forced to miss school, sports and a whole lot of other activities, this might be a good time to have some fun with me reading the book exactly like I do in schools.

Hazel Hutchins

Hazel Hutchins has also created a video in which she reads from her new book, The Truth About Wind. Publisher Annick Press says of the book: Co-author Hazel Hutchins reads her new picture book The Truth About Wind. A story filled with imagination and the importance of telling the truth even if that means letting go of something you love. And Hazel says: I love the way the new book turned out! But it’s a difficult time everywhere and please know that the globe in the background is placed there purposefully, just as a small note of acknowledgment and support.

Anna Porter

I have handed in my new manuscript. It’s fiction, entitled DECEPTIONS but that may change as we go along the editing process. It’s scheduled to be published next March but, as you know, there are very few certainties in today’s Covid-ridden world. I have been reading a great deal, doing some reviewing, and serving on the jury for the National Business Book Awards (more reading). Yes, some ZOOM meetings and FaceTime – not sure which app I hate the most. I am also doing some interviews still with Hungarian media for the Forbes edition of Buying a Better World, my book about George Soros and his foundations. I find that speaking relatively intelligent Hungarian is a huge challenge. I also give some editorial and publishing advice online but do not charge for it because I don’t want it to become a professional service (been there, done that). Love your posts about Bequia! (Thanks, Anna!)

J.P. McLean

Thanks so much for all you do. You really are a dynamo.

I spent the first few weeks of the pandemic adrift. My thoughts scattered to the wind. The only thing I could grasp onto was the endless loop of bad news, which only compounded the feeling of helplessness. People dying and sickened, people losing their livelihoods, companies failing. Writing felt inconsequential in comparison. My creativity flagged along with my energy. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of the skies clearing over the Great Wall of China and dolphins returning to Italy’s waterways that I was finally able to break free of the negative hold the pandemic had on me. That silver lining, fragile as it might be, helped me find shore again and anchored me.

But I didn’t get back to writing immediately. First I got busy in the garden. There’s something primal about digging in the soil and nurturing plants that soothes me. I also got busy cleaning. The house and yard have never looked so good, and that too, soothes me. And then I tackled a few projects that had been on my to-do list for a couple of years. It took all of that to make me feel like I was in control again. Best of all, my energy came back online and my imaginator kicked in.

I’m still not writing anything more substantial than blog posts, but I’m back to working on the outline for my next book. In addition, I’m scribbling out ideas for a short Christmas story. I’ve taken our local writers’ group of twenty + members online with ZOOM, and my volunteer work on the board of our local Activity Centre, Gym, and Museum has also gone online.

I’m loving ZOOM. Even after this pandemic is over, I won’t be giving it up. In fact, I’ve joined two other authors in a weekly share and brainstorming session. My critique group, also three authors, are local and we’re planning a proper socially-distant meeting on my deck with a glass of wine in the very near future.

I’m reading more and tuning into webinars and live training sessions and learning new skills. Our small island community has pulled together. We’re buying as much as we can locally, but when one of us has to go off island, we shop for as many other people as we can manage. I shopped for six of us at Costco a few weeks ago – could barely push the cart up to the till. In that sense, COVID19 has brought us closer.

This pandemic has been difficult, and it’s not over yet. The future is unsteady for all of us. It takes effort every day to stay positive. Keeping the news loop at bay helps, as does this super supportive writing community. So thank you all, and especially Susan, who’s a ray of sunshine on the darkest days. XO (Thanks, Jo-Anne!)

Ranjini George

Please join me for two programmes:
In the third week of July for a one-week online Meditation and Writing Retreat at the Summer Writing School, University of Toronto.

A two-week intensive on Mindfulness and Writing for Discipline & Productivity this July. Time=Life. Learn to master time and live life in accordance with your values and aspirations.

Alison Acheson

I hate to admit how much work I’ve done these past weeks. But the time has been good, and writing is a distraction from any anxiety… it makes the time feel to have some worth.

So here is my update:

I have been WRITING!

Of course, my teaching moved to being online, but I have taught online before…so it really was about switching modes, and being there to support the students…many of whom have not worked online before. And then grades went in.

Here’s an article I wrote for The Writing Cooperative: Optimal Writing Time: Making time — micro and macro — work for you

In addition to working on a novel for adults, I have been writing short pieces, articles—for Medium—something I’ve not done before—and also for a small number of calls for submissions. I was so pleased to have a story win Sub-Terrain’s Lush Triumphant fiction prize this year, and have been enjoying “writing short” while working on the novel. While I can’t imagine working on more than one long (deep!) project at a time, I feel a need to work long and short simultaneously. It’s an old habit, to deal with writer’s block, and to make use of time (an urge borne of the busy time of raising three children). In the midst of this pandemic time, I have also had another book for young children accepted—a book of sacred texts, a “lectio divina” for children. The research for this project was an amazing journey into so many faiths. As I age, I am finding even more pleasure in setting myself down self-chosen research paths

After having a number of readings and presentations cancelled—as have we all—I have been busy with ZOOM promotion, most recently for All Lit Up, and a woman from the ALS Society in Texas, who has put together an amazing book club every Thursday evening for ALS Awareness Month. I am also taking part in a written Q&A for the Vancouver Writers’ Fest Newsletter. I am so grateful for these opportunities to share my work. And most grateful for this opportunity too, Susan!

Sharon Butala

It’s wonderful to have you doing this work on our behalf. I am truly grateful.
Here’s what I’ve been doing during the last eight weeks of self-isolation:
First, I’ve been sorting my papers and tossing them by the ton, or else piling them for shredding, whenever I can make that happen, or putting them in neat piles with labels for the millions of hungry scholars who will descend on them – hah hah – for what, I don’t actually know except that throwing them out is just not in me. I’m leaving that up to my son and heir.
Second, I discovered that the difficult and unusual (for me) novel I’d been researching and had begun writing when COVID-19 hit does not respond to my efforts to woo it into compliance. I have had to put it on hold for now. The reason, or the additional reason for this, is that almost at once a great idea for a COVID-19 novel hit me, and like a wood tick, burrowed in, would not let go, until I finally wrote a hundred pages of it. Then I had to stop to gather my thoughts, such as they are, and try to find a way to put the next hundred or so pages into my computer. I hope to start writing Part Two tomorrow. In the meantime, I have written a short magazine piece about the pandemic (500 words) and an essay to go at the end of my as yet unpublished essay collection: This Strange Visible Air.
Third, I have had four literary engagements cancelled or postponed, three of which will (eventually one hopes) still take place in the fall and that will earn me in total a couple of thousand, maybe. I haven’t really been worrying about my writing income because I get OAS and CPP and have a bit of money otherwise – a sadly diminishing pile, though. My heart bleeds for anybody whose entire income is from writing. It’s criminal what’s been done to Canadian writers in terms of income. And just today I got myself a judging gig for summer – one literary competition – with some financial compensation.
Fourth, my agent, Marilyn Biderman at TLA, Freehand Books and I have signed an agreement and I am now a Freehand author. This had to be done because my previous publisher, Coteau Books of Regina went bankrupt in late February. Season of Fury and Wonder will be back in print shortly. In the meantime, copies of it must be floating around in bookstores and libraries. I’m very happy about this, and have always been a big admirer of Freehand and I count myself lucky. That collection, by the way, was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Prize and the Georges Bugnet Fiction prize. With the bankruptcy I was afraid it was simply dead in the water, but nope, Butala rises again, like the phoenix! (Definitely a joke.)

And, finally for this 4th post of updates, this is the way I like to see things work with all the authors I promote …

Mike Robbins, on his blog, had reviewed the latest novel, Eternity Began Tomorrow, by Kevin Brennan. Then Kevin returned the favour on his blog with a shout-out and a review of Mike’s collection of novellas, Three Seasons.

Now Kevin has just announced that the paperback edition of Eternity Began Tomorrow is available to purchase!

I asked Kevin if he would send me a calming and peaceful photo from one of his walks that I could post here and he said: You could show the nice people this pic of a hiking destination Sue and I made it to recently. Didn’t see another soul, and it was utterly gratifying. Now that they’ve reopened the parks, places like this are packed. (Below is the Middle Fork of the American River, just a stone’s throw from our house.)

A-R International: Kevin Brennan

Kevin Brennan
Authors-Readers International


“Kevin Brennan” is the author of six novels: Parts Unknown, Yesterday Road, Occasional Soulmates, Town Father, Or, Where Graceful Girls Abound, Fascination, Eternity Began Tomorrow.

Kevin Brennan (sans quotation marks) lives in Cool, California, in the shadow of the magnificent Sierra Nevada, where he cavorts among the pines and writes anomalous indie songs for his wife and dog.

It was Kevin Brennan’s second novel over which we connected online. He had self-published it as an eBook, I read it, loved his writing, and immediately promoted Kevin on my blog, Reading Recommendations. Kevin kept writing, and I continued to read whatever he published: four more novels, stories (Our Children Are Not Our Children), a memoir (In No Particular Order), and a longform essay (Gatecrash: liberating creativity in the age of boilerplate fiction) – all three of these books are available free on Kevin’s website. Before I got to know Kevin though, he had already traditionally published Parts Unknown. And since discovering this author, I have now read everything he has published, as it’s been released, plus I own every novel that’s available in print form. (Just his latest novel, highlighted below, is still only available as an eBook.)

I’ve enjoyed our online association since 2014 – we’ve never met in person – as Kevin is a great one to converse with about ideas concerning writing, writing styles, literature and favourite authors and what we like and don’t like about certain books. Kevin Brennan is also the only author I know who has set out to write novels in different genres and covering widely different topics and subject matter, usually told from the perspective of a character who is NOT Kevin Brennan, or even a man, for that matter. And he’s been very successful in pulling this off, as far as I’m concerned. All this about the man, and I haven’t even mentioned yet how very supportive he has been of my own books, writing, and promotion thereof! I could go on, but instead have added a couple of links below to illustrate the other areas, besides his own writing, in which Kevin has excelled! Here’s information about Kevin Brennan’s most recent publication:

Eternity Began Tomorrow

From Kevin Brennan: I’ve already told you that this book is quite a departure for me. It’s a political thriller. Or at least that’s the closest category I could find for it, considering that it touches on all kinds of themes and has the sniff of literary fiction about it too.

Once again, I try my hand here at a first-person female protagonist, the indefatigable Mollie “Blazes” Bolan. Usually when I use a female pov, whether first person or third person, it’s because the character really speaks to me somehow, in a voice that can’t be mistaken for a man’s. Almost always they’re idiosyncratic or sui generis enough that people can’t say “he can’t write female characters worth poo!” I write individual characters, so my Blazes Bolan, my Sally Pavlou (Fascination), and my Sarah Phelan (Occasional Soulmates) are all exactly as I saw them in my mind. I just hope they’re believable as humans.

As I’ve been telling you leading up to this launch, the main theme of Eternity Began Tomorrow is climate change and how we, as a culture, seem to be dragging our feet in dealing with it (even if the University of California has divested from fossil fuels). Seems to beg the arrival of a messianic climate-change guru like John Truthing, which, let’s face it, opens us up to manipulation and the possibility of double dealing. It’d be so much better if we’d all just accept the reality of global warming and not play politics with it, but, then again, in this country we play politics with everything from guns to cotton candy. We fiddle while the ozone burns.

Be that as it may, I hope this book entertains while opening up a little discussion of our contemporary crisis.

And since I’m self-publishing this book, without the delays of traditional publishing, it’s so fresh it mentions the Mueller Report and Greta Thunberg. How’s that for “hot off the presses”?

SPECIAL OFFER!
Eternity Began Tomorrow is currently available to download in an eBook (mobi) format from Amazon.com (US$.99), Amazon.ca (CDN$1.32), and Amazon.co.uk (£0.99)!

And here’s a terrific interview with Kevin Brennan about the new book conducted by Marie Bailey on her website 1WriteWay.

Kevin Brennan has also been editing and publishing an online journal, The Disappointed Housewife.

The Disappointed Housewife is a literary journal for writers, and readers, who are seeking something different. We like the idiosyncratic, the iconoclastic, the offbeat, the hard-to-categorize. Out of the universe of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, we want to attract work that plays with form and presentation. Work that’s not just outside the box but turns the box inside out.

We believe that imagination and the creative drive can guide literature toward a new stage in its evolution — a growth spurt. Multi-media, mash-ups, music, photography as writing: anything is possible.

As we like to say around here: Don’t disappoint the disappointed housewife.

Kudos to Kevin Brennan, too, for having nominated some of the pieces he’s published in the magazine for The Best Small Fictions anthology and the Pushcart Prize.

(Here are the Submission Guidelines.)

And, if that isn’t enough, Kevin also began an editing service for Indie-Authors.

For more information about Kevin Brennan, his writing, books, journal, editing services, and his music, please see his website, WHAT THE HELL.

Kevin Brennan made a number of appearances on my Reading Recommendations blog – too many to list here! His first guest spot was on Mar. 20, 2014.

One Woman’s Island – more advance praise!

As I prepare the manuscript to be sent off for eBook formatting and online sales, I’m also receiving great blurbs about the new novel, One Woman’s Island, from advance readers who offered to write a review for promotion purposes.

onewomanisland-cover-draft-3

Great news, Susan Toy fans! The long-awaited sequel to her acclaimed novel, Island in the Clouds, has finally arrived. With a sharp eye for description and a well-tuned ear for dialogue (and local dialect!) Toy tells how a recently widowed Canadian woman moves to the tiny Caribbean island of Bequia to find solace, only to discover it’s not quite the paradise she hoped for. A tasty meal of storytelling that comes with complementary recipes!
~ Brian Brennan, Postmedia newspapers best-selling author

One Woman’s Island blends up a splash of sun and fun, with a hearty dose of reality about island life and its people. Toss in a murder or two and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable visit in paradise. Susan Toy has once again toured us around the island of Bequia, where she’s shown us that all is not as it appears in this lush and tropical setting, and that people often hide their flaws and indiscretions not only from the world, but also from themselves. P.S. I think this book should come with a warning that snacks will be necessary to stave off the hunger incited by the contents!
~ Cheryl Schenk, author of The Stibil Forest Adventures: Little Synni’s Moonlight Mischief

I just finished reading One Woman’s Island and thought it was splendid. Once again, Susan Toy brings the real Bequia to a fictional world and uses that combination to great effect. Toy does a wonderful job with the characters’ emotional lives and backstories, using a certain level of implication about a lot of it, which I always like. This wasn’t just the main character, Mariana’s, romp in Bequia. It was a powerful effort to make sense of her life up till then and to figure out, in many ways, who she really is. It’s a character study and an exploration of a foreign culture, maybe on the order of Under the Tuscan Sun. Congratulations to Susan Toy on another feather in the Bequia Perspectives cap!
~ Kevin Brennan, editor and author of Parts Unknown, Yesterday Road, Occasional Soulmates, Town Father

And here’s the link to a previous review I received from Felicity Harley!

Thanks to all reviewers! I’ll share more reviews and blurbs with you here as I receive them.

Resources for Authors …

I’ve gathered together the Best of the Best! Here’s a list of bloggers – friends of this site, every one! – who offer services to authors, mainly in the area of promotion (guest blogs, reviews, interviews), but also design covers design, create trailers, and edit. Most of these services are free, but for some there is a charge. With the exception of Chris The Story Reading Ape, all are authors themselves, and they have been promoted on my own blog, Reading Recommendations. I’ve included links back to their promotions on my blog. I encourage you to check out their blog links to see what they have to offer, and also buy and read their books, while you’re at it!

tsra-sketch-02-1024x684 Chris Graham (Friend to all Indie Authors!) – Chris The Story Reading Ape

Seumas Gallacheron Reading Recommendations fd96ze6tg1l3gzy1ha93

11942321_415085482024566_2343643988952741064_o Sally CroninSmorgasboard – Variety is the Spice of Life

Tricia DrammehAuthors to Watch me

logo Janice SpinaJemsBooks

Allan HudsonSouth Branch Scribbler 12821608_1743938849173975_3479675423719876312_n

me Don MassenzioAuthor Talk

Kevin BrennanScribable: Indie Editing Service sonoma-county Kevin also posts a lot of great information on his blog about writing, publishing and the direction we’re moving in with regards to creating books and finding readers for them.

If you’d like to be listed on a future blog post and outline services you offer to authors (and I’d particularly like to list book reviewers here) please let me know your link (email me at susanmtoy (at) gmail.com) and tell me what it is you can do for us. If you’ve already been promoted on Reading Recommendations … Bonus!

Best Books Read in 2015

By July 3rd of this year I had read so many good books that I wrote about the best of those in this blog post. (See the original post for details of these titles.)

As with the first half of the year, the following books are listed in the order I read them and, with one exception (that I have marked), I rate them all at 4 out of 5 stars … because, you know, you have to have written a VERY good book, or be Richard Ford, to receive all 5 stars from me. I am a discerning reader.

So here’s my list of Best Books Read for the second half of the year … I’ve linked to their promotions all Authors who have been featured on Reading Recommendations.

12095120_626933277448055_9033175093362345310_o Killer City by Seumas Gallacher – I read this new novel in advance of publication and thought it a fine addition to Gallacher’s Jack Calder series.

10994976_796292483760006_2976227424109873861_nThe Gift: Awakening by J.P. McLean – I have a complete set of JP’s books in The Gift Legacy series and began at the beginning. An excellent premise to this series and very well-written!

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – 5-star – Sadly, Kent Haruf passed away in 2014 shortly after completing the proofs of this book. I’ve been a fan of his writing for many years and have read everything he has published. This book was a high note in a stellar writing career, as far as I’m concerned. A bitter-sweet story, it’s simply told but nonetheless powerful, about love and growing old. Others to whom I’ve recommended this book have come back to tell me how much they enjoyed it. If you love great writing, and you have a heart, this will make you weep to read for its sheer beauty – in the storyline, in the characters, in the way Haruf tells us about this episode in lives of plain people, lives that are so utterly full of grace.

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann – I received an ARC of this novel about the Hemingways and Fitzgeralds and their set of friends vacationing at a real-life house in France during the 1920s and I enjoyed reading it very much. Great descriptions of the times, the place and the people.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald – I read the ARC of this novel about a Swedish reader who travels to the US to visit the woman who has been recommending, by letters, books to read. A delightful read that anyone who enjoys reading books will also love!

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd – This is a book that had been sitting on my shelf for a number of years. I finally picked it up and was pleasantly surprised at how well-told it is, this story of South Carolinian women.

12283279_10200858274536262_516233112_n Full Circle by Tim Baker – Tim Baker has been promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations, since the beginning – and for good reason! I’ve read everything Tim has written, and now read his manuscripts before they are published, as was the case with this latest novel. Interestingly, this was the first novel Tim wrote a couple of decades ago, but it didn’t see the light of day until just recently. What can I say? Tim sure knows how to write! I own copies of all Tim’s print books, I have the T-shirts, and I’m a big promoter of all his work. Read this book!

town-father-3d-copy Parts Unknown and Town Father by Kevin Brennan – Kevin Brennan’s writing has impressed me since he first promoted Yesterday Road on Reading Recommendations. I have read everything he has written and own all the print copies available, except this most recent title – a problem I will rectify when I return to Canada in the spring. Kevin is an intelligent writer, well-steeped in literature and history, and he’s not afraid to experiment with genre and style. I liken him to a cross between two of my favourite authors, Ivan Doig and Kent Haruf (see above), with a sprinkling of Margaret Atwood’s exploration of craft and genre. Town Father, his most recent novel, is a foray into historical fiction and I say Kevin has done a brilliant job of presenting a story that’s new and fresh, considering it’s set in the 1880s US Sierra Nevadas. If you’re looking for versatility in a writer, look no further! Kevin is your guy!

AtlantisFNLweb The Road to Atlantis by Leo Brent Robillard – I was approached by the publisher of this book to promote it on my blog and was sent a PDF of the book to read in advance. I had never heard of this Canadian author previously and was very taken by the quality of his writing and the story he tells. I am also happy to see that, since I promoted Robilliard in Sept. 2015, this book has now also been released in eBook format, so it’s available for the entire world to read.

That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx – I discovered a hardcover edition of this book in the campground library and decided to read it, because I had enjoyed Proulx’s Shipping News when it was first published. I enjoyed this novel just as much. Great writing!

The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths – I won an ARC of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I had never heard of the author or the book previously and so was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a very good read.

18634588 My Temporary Life by Martin Crosbie – Martin Crosbie promoted a how-to book on my blog, but he also writes great fiction, like this novel I read and enjoyed. And it’s the first in a series, too, so more great books to come!

The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King – I was a sales rep for one of Thomas King’s earlier books and had the great pleasure of meeting the man for lunch when he was in Calgary. He is one of the most interesting, intelligent, funny and genuine “gentleman” I’ve ever met. And I don’t use the term gentleman lightly here. He is a Gentle Man in all respects. This latest novel (I had an ARC) was published last year and won the GG Award for Best English-Language Fiction. Very well done!

coverThe Piano Teacher by Eugene Stickland – I know Eugene from my days in Calgary, so when he announced a new book’s release I asked him to promote it on Reading Recommendations. Then when I went back to Calgary for a visit this autumn I bought a copy of the book from the man himself in his natural habitat, Cafe Beano, over a couple of cups of coffee. Eugene is well-known as a playwright and this was his first foray into novel-writing. A terrific job, I thought! And the good news is … he’s writing a second novel!

2161163 Better Than Perfect by Tricia Drammeh – Tricia has long been an internet pal and fellow blogger/promoter who I turn to regularly for help, advice, and just general comradery. I’ve read several of her novels so far and enjoyed all of them, but Better than Perfect was exactly as the title says, I thought. True life and genuine characters brought perfectly to the page (or screen, in my case) by a very accomplished author.

Sweetland by Michael Crummey – I had the pleasure of attending an event held in London, ON, this autumn at which Crummey read from his new novel. A well-told story of a little known (outside of the province) episode in Newfoundland’s history. Funny in places, but sad throughout. Definitely worth reading, especially if you’re open to learning a new dialect and turns of phrase. (I’m fortunate in knowing a native Newfoundlander so a lot of the speech in this novel was very familiar to me.)

The Quiet American by Graham Greene – I’m not sure I actually read this novel previously, although Greene is a favourite author, but I did see the film starring Michael Caine. I have to say, they did a fine job of casting Caine for the part of Fowler. The novel is an excellent introduction to the French occupation of Vietnam during the years leading up to US involvement in the region.

Sundown, Yellow Moon and Orchard by Larry Watson – I’m catching up on the books by this favourite US author that I missed reading at the time they were released.

What about you? Was there one outstanding book you read in 2015? Or have you posted to your blog a similar list as I have here? Please leave your comments below and tell us what you enjoyed reading. And leave a link to your Best Books post.

Thanks for reading!

I should mention that I tried reading some of the many books that were long-listed, short-listed, and won prizes in the various big book awards that were handed out this year, but in a number of cases I just could not read the books at all and was disappointed in their having been selected. I’m still waiting for holds to come in at the library for a number of other prize-winners I anticipate reading and enjoying in the near future. But I must say that, overall, I was generally disappointed in most of the titles that made those prize lists. I don’t believe it has as much to do with my changing taste in reading as I grow older (and become a more experienced reader all the time) as it does with the judges’ different taste from mine in choosing the lists and winners. That’s a topic for a whole different blog post, however.

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!

27 Author Recommendations for Holiday Gift-Giving …

No, wait! I didn’t mean you should wrap up an Author and give THEM to your friends, although I’m sure any of us mentioned below are flattered for having been considered gift-worthy … Let’s start over.

What could be better than giving or receiving A BOOK (or several) – at any time of the year and for any occasion? If you’re stumped as to what to give people on your list, or if you’re looking for something new for your own reading pleasure, please allow me to make a few suggestions …

I highly recommend the writing and books published by the following six Authors who have previously been featured on my other blog, Reading Recommendations:

Tim Baker and another book (featuring contributions from 6 Reading Recommendations Authors, including ME!)
Kevin Brennan and another book
Seumas Gallacher
Dylan Hearn and another book
Rebecca Heishman
S.K. Nicholls

But wait! There’s more … I asked each of the Authors listed above to also give me their recommendations of other Authors whose writing they enjoy, and here’s what they each had to say:

Tim Baker: Steve Boone, Robert Chazz Chute (and another book) and Linton Robinson (Steve and Robert have been featured on Reading Recommendations)

Kevin Brennan:
Zero, by J.S. Collyer — I’m no sci-fi nut, but this was a ripping story set in a strangely familiar future.
Memoirs of a Dilettante – Volume 1, by Helena Hann-Basquiat — An unclassifiable collection of anecdotes. Fact or fiction? Who knows? Who cares?
Dolls Behaving Badly, by Cinthia Ritchie — This novel was beat up pretty badly by the Amazon/Hachette conflict, and it’d be great if Cinthia could get a second wind now.
Shaping Destiny, by Destiny Allison — A poignant memoir of a woman’s evolution as an artist.

Seumas Gallacher: Chaos is Come Again by John Dolan and Fiona Quinn, Outsourced by Eric J. Gates, Subtraction by Andrew Peters (Andrew has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations)

Dylan Hearn:
The Me You See by Shay Ray Stevens – a fantastic mystery, cleverly written, which has a brilliant ending that I just didn’t see coming.
Othella by Therin Knite – a hard-edged and uncompromising dystopian thriller, as if Raymond Chandler decided to have a go at re-imagining Hunger Games. (Therin was previously featured on Reading Recommendations)
Duck by Stephen Parolini – a wonderfully warm coming-of-age novella about a boy and a bomb.

Rebecca Heishman:
Haven Kimmel: A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana
This author is one of Indiana’s hidden gems. I have been a fan of her writing for many years. Her intimate and tender style of writing has influenced my own. This gal has never gotten the credit that her lovely writing deserves.
Silas House: Eli the Good
Silas House is an award-winning Kentucky author whose beautifully-crafted prose touches many hearts. Eli the Good is a novel written for young adults, but the message is so strong and so beautiful that it resonates with me and many other adult readers. It would make a lovely Christmas gift for young or old.
Bill Bryson: A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Part travelogue, part memoir, and full of humor, this book takes you along on Bryson’s trudge through one of America’s most rustic, brutal, beautiful, and storied trails. The book is filled with colorful characters that he meets along the way, giving us a portrait of what makes us proud to be American, despite our steady force-fed diet of negative media.

S.K. Nicholls:
Misha Burnett has a sci-fi/urban fantasy series that is absolute genius. Here is his author page and he also has a blog.
Carrie Rubin has a great medical thriller, The Seneca Scourge. She also has a blog.
Patrick O’Bryon is one of my most favorite authors. His historical spy thrillers set in Germany and France during WWII are based on his own father’s life as a journalist/spy during that time. He is a self-proclaimed Europhile and has lived and visited abroad frequently. His two books have done very well and a third, Fulcrum of Malice is due out next year. Corridor of Darkness is the first, and Beacon of Vengeance is the second. He is one of the most successful indie authors I know and his work is impeccable. He’s one of my beta readers. He also has a blog.
Luccia Gray has an awesome sequel to Jane Eyre. All Hallows at Eyre Hall: The Breathtaking Sequel to Jane Eyre (The Eyre Hall Trilogy Book 1) new on the market, and I loved it. She lives in Spain and has a blog.

And please indulge my being so bold as to recommend myself, Susan M. Toy, and my books for giving as gifts. While I have never been featured on Reading Recommendations, I did create the blog in the first place and continue to present you with great Authors to discover. Besides, this is my blog post, so I may recommend whomever I want to … to paraphrase a song. 🙂

So, there you go! 27 Authors recommended and umpteen possibilities for books to give to anyone who is on your list. Plus, books are much easier to wrap than an Author, and – Bonus! – eBooks and audio books don’t have to be wrapped at all!

Dylan Hearn’s Pay It Forward for self-published authors …

This morning, I received an update from Dylan Hearn’s blog, Suffolk Scribblings. In Pay It Forward – an update, Dylan has followed through on his earlier promise to “support my fellow self-published authors by buying their books and promoting those that I enjoyed both on this blog and through leaving reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.”

pay_it_forward_11304

After having bought and read them, Dylan has listed a number of Authors on his blog post whose books he now recommends.

I had commented on one of his first blogs on the subject, even reblogged on this blog, then promptly forgot about the idea (beacause that’s the way my brain seems to be working these days …). I have, however, continued to promote Authors and their books over on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and I have been reading books by these Authors whenever I have a chance. A few of these books I have purchased, but most have either been free downloads or gifts from the authors themselves. I have always rated these books on Goodreads when I finish reading (mainly because I’m taking part in a reading challenge there to complete 175 books during 2014) and sometimes I have also written a review, when the book struck me as being particularly good. Occasionally, I have included that same review on Amazon.

If I am really impressed by a book, I write to the Author directly and tell them how much I enjoyed reading their writing. That’s what I would hope a Reader would do for me, if they were equally engaged when reading my books. With a few of these Authors, I’ve now struck up a much deeper friendship than what we had after I promoted them on my blog. And that friendship has become a two-way street as these authors continue to promote me, my blog and my books through social media and to their friends. A few have even paid me the honour of asking that I read an advance copy of their new books, or beta-read a manuscript, or even write a blurb or intro for them. I’ve been more than happy to do so, because I know they will do the same for me, when the time comes. (And if I actually ever get back to rewriting that second novel … tap, tap, tap!)

So, returning to Dylan’s Pay It Forward idea … I’ve decided to make a list of the self-published Reading Recommendations Authors whose books I’ve read and enjoyed immensely – and there’s the key word … IMMENSELY! I don’t want to play favourites among the RR Authors, but I have discovered a number deserve a bit more of a shout-out, as well as a pat on the back for having done such a good job in self-publishing. Because I, too, am a self-published Author and I know what these people have all had to do to get their books out there for Readers to read.

So, without further ado and in alphabetical order, here’s my personal list of GREAT AUTHORS!! (All links take you back to their RR promotion pages.)

Tim Baker
Kevin Brennan
Robert Chazz Chute
Michael Fay (I enjoyed Michael’s stories so much that I published them!)
Demetra Angelis Foustanellas
Seumas Gallacher
Dylan S. Hearn
Thomas Wharton

These are all self-published Authors whose books I have had the pleasure of reading. I still have a few unread eBooks on my eReader to get to that were written by other Reading Recommendations Authors, so I have no doubt I will be adding to this list at some point. And, after having read through the complete list today of all the Authors I have promoted on my blog, I see a number of traditionally published Authors whose books I’ve read and equally enjoyed. I think I may need to put together another list in the very near future …

What about you? Are you a blogger, either Author or Reader, who is willing to Pay It Forward by purchasing books (perhaps beginning with those written by Authors I’ve featured on my Reading Recommendations blog … Hmmmm?) and reviewing those that you really have enjoyed reading?

We Authors truly do depend upon your opinion – and your support!

Adam writing Eve … and vice versa

Kevin Brennan was previously featured on Reading Recommendations on March 20, 2014. That was how I first “met” him. We’re now following each other’s blogs and reading each other’s books.

One of his blog posts hit home with me, because it was about whether women could write successfully about a male protagonist. Painting Adam: Gimme some male protagonists written by women, posted on March 31, 2014, was a followup to an earlier post from July 10, 2013, Drawing Eve: Can male authors write female characters? Kevin had been struggling with writing a novel in the first-person voice of a woman. He makes a good point by saying, “My position is that everything revolves around character and that the character’s gender is simply part of a constellation of factors that go into the creation of a three-dimensional figure.” I agree with Kevin.

Kevin goes on to wonder whether women can write convincing male characters, and he asked, “So I’d love to hear from you. What’s your favorite book written by a woman that features a major male character with point-of-view duties (either first or third)?”

I reblogged Kevin’s post on my blog and offered up my book, Island in the Clouds as an example.

“Interesting blog post … My novel, Island in the Clouds, is written in first person from the perspective of a male character. Would love to hear what my readers think of how successful I was with this. Please comment below as well as on Kevin Brennan’s original blog.”

And Kevin replied, “Thanks for the reblog, Susan, and I’ll have to grab your book and put it to the test! 😱”

So I sent him a copy!

Now just imagine my absolute thrill when Kevin sent me an email yesterday that read:

I just finished reading Island in the Clouds and really enjoyed it. Vis-a-vis our discussion about men writing women and women writing men, I think Geoff came off as utterly believable and I never once came away from the page saying, “Clearly some chick wrote this guy!” If there were any small moments of confusion, it was only because he was Canadian. (Ha ha!)

Your depiction of the setting was really great. I felt like I was getting a truthful glimpse of the fabric of life there, with the exiles among the natural population. Complex. If you’ve ever read Bob Shacochis, he did similar things with his stories and at least one novel I recall, Swimming in the Volcano. (I have read both the book of short stories and the novel by Shachochis and they very much reflect real life in St. Vincent. smt)

I don’t typically read thrillers — tend to rely on movies for that experience, I guess — but I enjoyed reading yours. Am I wrong, or does it feel like the sociopathic Hermut is going to reappear in a sequel? 😉

Thanks for the opportunity to read your novel.

No, thank YOU, Kevin!! There’s nothing better than to receive comments such as yours! I’m floating on air!

And, for the record, I would say that none of my male reviewers has yet quibbled about my portrayal of Geoff in the novel. What they do disagree on, however, is which of them will be the most suitable actor to play the part of Geoff, if a film were ever to be made. Funny!

And here’s a link to my review of Kevin Brennan’s own brilliant novel, Yesterday Road!

Island in the CloudsSmall cover

Reading Recommendations – 56 Authors promoted!

On my other blog, Reading Recommendations, I have been posting promotion for my fellow authors, recommending their books to readers, and offering the authors’ suggestions on good books to read. Since Nov. 18, 2013, I have posted information about 56 Authors! Thanks to everyone participating and sharing these blog posts, the number of readers visiting this site and now following has increased by leaps and bounds. I still have many more authors scheduled to promote over the coming weeks, so please continue to check out the new blog posts I publish, discover some interesting reading suggestions, reconnect with favourite authors, and learn what they all have to tell us about themselves and their writing as well as their own reading recommendations.

So far, I have published two recaps of the first 16 authors and the next 20. Here then are the most recent 20 Authors who have been featured on Reading Recommendations!

For those who read according to an author’s nationality …

Canadian authors: Lise Guyanne Pomerleau, Barb Howard, Sagan Jeffries (Ed Lukowich), David A. Poulsen, Collin Paulson, K.L. Silver, Janice Blaine, Linda Granfield

US Authors: Ben Ditmars, Michael J. Martineck, Rebecca Heishman, Mary Cunningham, Kevin A. Ranson, Terri Reid, John W. Evans, Donna Glee Williams, Kevin Brennan, N. Jane Quackenbush

UK Authors: Andrew Peters, Carole Gill

And here is a list of genres …

Fiction:
Lise Guyanne Pomerleau (Historical)
Barb Howard (Short Story Collection)
Sagan Jeffries (Ed Lukowich) (Futuristic Science Fiction)
David A. Poulsen (Crossover Novel – Teen/Adult)
K.L. Silver (Romantic Erotica)
Janice Blaine (Short Story Collection – Fantasy)
Michael J. Martineck (Science Fiction)
Rebecca Heishman (Humor, Family Fiction)
Kevin A. Ranson (Vampire Mystery Horror Thriller)
Terri Reid (Paranormal Mystery)
Donna Glee Williams (Fantasy Novel)
Kevin Brennan (Literary, Humor)
Andrew Peters (Crime Novel)
Carole Gill (Gothic Horror and Romance)

Poetry
Ben Ditmars (Poetry Collection)

Non-Fiction:
Linda Granfield (Fact-based Picture Book for Young Readers and Adults)
John W. Evans (Memoir)

Children’s and Teens:
Linda Granfield (Fact-based Picture Book for Young Readers and Adults)
David A. Poulsen (Crossover Novel – Teen/Adult)
Collin Paulson (Young Adult Fantasy Novel)
Rebecca Heishman (Humor, Family Fiction)
Mary Cunningham (Adventure Fiction for Middle-Grade)
N. Jane Quackenbush (Children’s Picture Book)

And a list of the authors/books each featured author has recommended …
Candace Savage’s book, A Geography of Blood
Dominant Traits by Eric Freeze
Contact by Carl Sagan
The Alienist by Caleb Carr
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Poets Vincent Moore and Baron James Ashanti
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America, 1927
Vacen Taylor’s fantasy series, Star Child
Suzanne Church’s Elements
The Cynthia’s Attic Series by Mary Cunningham
Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
Linda Mooney
Ann Charles
NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
The Good Son by Craig Nova
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
The Tenth Saint by D.J. Niko
Gumshoe by Paul D Brazill
Ann Rice

If you are a published author (self or traditional, in print or eBook format) and would like to be featured on the Reading Recommendations site in 2014, please read the About Page on the site and contact me.

And if you are a Reader or an Author and have not yet subscribed to Reading Recommendations – what are you waiting for???