Tag Archives: promotion
I have enjoyed a nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, Malta, South Africa, USA and Spain, before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.
After a career in customer facing roles in the hospitality, retail, advertising and telecommunications industry, I wrote and published my first book in 1999 called Size Matters, about my weight loss journey, losing 150lbs in 18 months. This was followed by 11 further fiction and non-fiction books, including a number of short story collections.
My first book release resulted in a radio interview in Spain that led to four years as a nutritional consultant for an English language station, and this was followed by four years with my own health show and Sunday morning show on local radio station in the UK and then as station director, newsreader and presenter for an online television station.
As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books and from 2002 I have been working with authors on their book launches and publicity. At that time it was very much physical book launches and press coverage locally to stimulate national interest.. Today it is very different with a global market via the worldwide web.
As important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others within our community. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog, linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.
I first met Sally Cronin online, because of the offer she extended (above) to help other authors with their promotion. Over the years, Sally has been very generous with that promotion – to me and to so, so many other authors located worldwide, and I just can’t thank her enough for her unending work in this field. But Sally is also a good writer in her own right, and I’ve had the great pleasure of promoting her work as well and in reading her books … this one in particular I enjoyed! (Read below to see what Sally is working on next concerning this book.)
Sally Cronin has also been supporting this series of author promotion, Authors-Readers International, by reblogging several on her own blog and sharing and reTweeting almost all of my posts! Thanks, Sally, for all you do to promote authors and their books, and for continuing to write and publish yourself!
Life’s Rich Tapestry
Life’s Rich Tapestry is a collection of verse, microfiction and short stories that explore many aspects of our human nature and the wonders of the natural world. Reflections on our earliest beginnings and what is yet to come, with characters as diverse as a French speaking elephant and a cyborg warrior.
Finding the right number of syllables for a Haiku, Tanka, Etheree or Cinquain focuses the mind; as does 99 word microfiction, bringing a different level of intensity to storytelling. You will find stories about the past, the present and the future told in 17 syllables to 2,000 words, all celebrating life.
This book is also recognition of the value to a writer, of being part of a generous and inspiring blogging community, where writing challenges encourage us to explore new styles and genres.
What Sally Cronin is working on now: “I have two books in process at the moment. One is a sequel to my 2004 Just an Odd Job Girl which follows Imogen as she begins a house-sitting service along with her husband … with some adventures along the way.
The second is a departure for me into the murder mystery genre set in the mid 1970s onwards to the present day.
The current promotions for authors and bloggers are doing well, but based on the popularity of the Christmas book fair in 2019, I will also be putting on a Summer Book Fair with guest posts from authors, as well as promotion for every author on the shelves.
For more information about Sally Cronin’s books, writing, and promotions, please visit her website.
Lee Kvern is an award-winning author of short stories and novels. Her stories in 7 Ways To Sunday have garnered the national CBC Literary Award, Western Magazine Award, Hazel Hilles Memorial Short Fiction Prize, and the Howard ‘O’ Hagan Award. Afterall was selected for Canada Reads (Regional), and nominated for Alberta Books Awards. The Matter of Sylvie was nominated for Alberta Book Awards and the Ottawa Relit Award. Lush Triumphant was a finalist for 2018, and nominated for Best of the Net 2018. Her work has been produced for CBC Radio, published in Grain, Event, Descant, Air Canada enRoute, Tishman Review, Globe&Mail, subTerrain. On-line her work has been published in Joyland.ca, Foundpress.com, LittleFiction.com.
Lee Kvern is the past Alberta Writer’s Guild Mentor 2014 and former Writer-in-Residence for the Canadian Authors Association 2013.
Lee Kvern was one of the authors I met after I moved back to Calgary in 2008. She was a friend of Betty Jane Hegerat, Barb Howard, Lori Hahnel (all three have been promoted here on A-RI) along with many other Calgary-area authors I was promoting at the time. Lee’s novel, The Matter of Sylvie, was published then, and Lee was taking part in blue pencil cafes as an instructor, as well. I signed up for her help with one of my short stories and really appreciated the insight she gave that reading of my work.
Lee was also asked to take part, along with Barb Howard, in a launch of Bruce Hunter‘s reboot of Country Music Country (published by IslandCatEditions!) in Calgary in May, 2019. (Bruce has also been promoted as part of this series.) Here’s a photo from that evening …
7 Ways to Sunday
Lee Kvern’s collection contains stories which revolve around humanity in all its flawed glory: an artist’s girlfriend dies by mistake; a mother holds surveillance on her son’s foray into drugs; a sibling’s jealousy toward her sickly brother; a father’s death; a mother’s fear for her unbridled, grade-two son; a woman with a hijab in the modern world of Save-on groceries. An arborist, his wife and a Shar-Pei are in need of an attitude adjustment; a dying senior looks back over her life, her children, her lost love; RCMP and prostitutes come for tea on a Wednesday afternoon.
People can connect with Lee Kvern via Facebook/Instagram/Twitter @LeeKvern
What Lee is doing now: “I’m currently teaching short story writing at Alexandra Writers Centre Society in Calgary, also working on short stories in-between learning to paint over the last three years. Find my art work on Instagram #leekvern.
Lee Kvern was previously promoted on Reading Recommendations in March 2015.
Alison Acheson has published eleven books, ranging from picturebooks to short fiction and memoir for adults, historical fiction and young adult. She lives on the East Side of Vancouver in a little house with a woodstove, and has taught in the writing program at University of British Columbia for a very long time.
I live, teach, and write in Vancouver, British Columbia. I grew up with three brothers in the nearby Delta ‘burb, and have lived with three sons. I suspect this is why quite a number of my stories are written through the eyes and minds of boys.
My life has been filled with turns. An academic might say it’s been “recursive.” A kid would say I’ve been going around in circles. But it’s—so far—been an interesting path. The one thing that has been consistent throughout is my need to write. That’s what distinguishes a writer from other folks: the need to put words on paper. Because really, that’s all it is: just words on paper.
I met Alison Acheson in person for the first, and only, time when we both attended a conference in Banff, Alberta. Alison was in need of a ride back to Calgary where she was catching the bus to return home to Vancouver, and I was driving back home to Calgary when the conference ended, so … we spent a most enjoyable hour or so talking about books, and writing, and authors, and publishers – all that good stuff book people always connect through! I have been following Alison’s writing and publishing over the years, and we were connected on Facebook, but it wasn’t until I saw an announcement about a children’s picture book she had written the text for that I sat up and took closer notice. That book was A Little House in a Big Place, and it was this beautiful cover that grabbed my attention!
First I borrowed a copy from the library, just to have a look, but by the time I’d driven back to my trailer (about 15 minutes from the library to my door!) I knew I had to buy this book for my own personal library! Whenever I look at it, I’m reminded of my years driving across the Canadian prairies, sometimes at night, when I was a sales rep. As I said in my review of the book: A truly great book, and one that will possibly appeal to adults even more than children. Beautifully illustrated, but the story line was also excellent at evoking what it’s like to be a small child in a big place, and how people themselves make contact to bring each other closer together. While I grew up in a big Canadian city and not on the prairies, I did criss-cross those prairies by car for work later in life and I always wondered about those lonely little houses with the lights in the windows. the people who lived in them, and what they were doing. A quiet book, but one that offers a slice of life that most will never have the opportunity to experience in this now too-crowded and noisy world.
This children’s book is definitely a keeper! (And it was published by Kids Can, one of the publishers I used to represent!) Now I plan to go back through and read the other books Alison has written and published, and I also want to read the most recent book she published in Sept. 2019, a memoir of caregiving …
Dance Me To The End
Ten Months and Ten Days With ALS
A profoundly honest and intensely personal story of a woman who cares for her husband after the devastating terminal diagnosis of ALS.
When middle-aged Marty—husband, dad, musician, golfer—is diagnosed with ALS, he and his spouse, Alison, feel cracked open and numb. From that first irrevocable day until Marty’s death ten
months and ten days later, the weeks and months have the family keeping time with unpredictable and overwhelming rhythms. To find her feet, and to bring her body, mind, and soul in harmony, Alison began to keep a journal.
Etching out a jumble of old and new memories and conflicting emotions, Alison chronicled the difficult realities of caregiving for her spouse while processing her experiences with grief and joy and anger and laughter and intimacy. The starkness of caring for a loved one wrestling with a neurological, degenerative, terminal disease in contrast to the sustaining guidance, shifting roles, and enduring love of family, friends, and community characterizes the mesmerizing and nuanced chords of Dance Me to the End.
Dance Me to the End is for people whose lives have been touched by any kind of illness and grief, and are looking for a book that effectively mirrors the experience in all its heartbreaking confusion and pain.
Inspired to pursue creative writing by his high school English teacher, Marty has been a professional writer for over 25 years. He writes books, stage plays, radio dramas, television scripts and humour articles, and his career has taken him around the world from New York to Los Angeles to Galway to Beijing.
From 1994 to 2000, Marty was a regular contributor to CBC Radio with his weekly commentary series, The Dim Sum Diaries. Later, this series was adapted into a half-hour television program (The Orange Seed Myth) which won a Gold Medal for Best Television Pilot at the Charleston World Film and Television Festival.
Marty’s first young adult novel, The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, is a hit with young readers across Canada. Resource Links magazine listed it as one of the BEST BOOKS OF 2004 for grades 3 to 6. Another three books in the Marty Chan Mystery Series followed, including The Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul, which won the 2007 Diamond Willow Award. In 2014, his steampunk fantasy book, Demon Gate, received nominations for best young adult novel from the High Plains Book Awards as well as the Aurora Awards.
Marty has served as a writer in residence at the library systems in Edmonton, Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan, and St. Albert. He was the Citadel Theatre’s first playwright in residence. In 2016, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts named Marty one of the 25 most influential artists in Alberta.
Marty lives and works in Edmonton with his wife, Michelle. When he’s not writing, Marty dabbles in his other passions: learning stage magic and playing video games.
I was promoting Alberta authors at library conferences when I first began promoting Marty Chan’s books. I finally met him in person at one of those conferences, and was fortunate to see him in action, speaking to children about reading and writing. He’s very enthusiastic and gets the kids really super-charged excited about books! Marty Chan shared some of his experiences on Facebook recently when he was a writer-in-residence at an Edmonton school for a few of weeks. He gave me permission to share some of those anecdotes here:
Day 1 of a three-week residency at an elementary school. Wow, I forgot how much energy I have to bring into a workshop. Ten sessions in a day. I think I might have to ease up on any writing work I had planned for January. Such a reality check when I plan an agenda full of writing projects and speaking engagements and then realize I don’t have the energy of my 20-year-old self.
I was pretty tired this morning for my residency presentations until kids started to run up to me to show off their stories. Wow! I’ve never seen so many kids excited about writing. It was infectious.
Day 2 of my residency. A trio of Chinese kids ran up to me at the start of the session and asked, “Are you Chinese?” When I told them I was, they high-fived each other and cheered. Representation matters.
If you thought you had a rough start to the week, imagine dodging a flying shoe from a third grader having a meltdown in the middle of their classroom. Then imagine being the kid’s teacher for the rest of the day. Then imagine being that upset kid. Bet your Monday doesn’t look so bad now, does it?
Week 2 of my residency at an Edmonton school. I’m testing out my new workshop for division 2. So far, so good. I’m hoping it will ignite some great stories. They are a chatty bunch, so they should have no shortage of things to write about.
Today’s chaos brought to you by the elementary kid who wondered what would happen if he pulled the fire alarm.
Day 1 of a residency started with a third grader who was so upset that his routine had been changed that he threw a shoe at me. He was removed from the class during my workshops. Last day of the residency, the same boy sat in the doorway of the classroom just so he could hear me tell a story. I’ll take that as progress.
And here’s a great video made about Marty Chan, his books, and his magic tricks!
Marty Chan is a very busy guy, and in high demand for his workshops, school visits, and the general encouragement he gives kids to join him in his love of reading and for telling stories! And he still continues to write and publish his own books. It’s a pleasure knowing and promoting an author like this who gives so much more back to readers … and then some! Thanks, Marty!
Kung Fu Master
Everyone assumes that because he’s Chinese, Jon Wong must be good at math and science and a first-class nerd. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t seem to shake the stereotypes. After a kung fu action movie, Jon and his best buddy pretend to be martial-arts warriors. Word soon spreads that Jon is a kung fu master, and the kids begin to treat him differently. Rather than correct the mistake, Jon plays up the role and basks in the positive attention from his classmates. But when the school bully challenges him to prove his skills, Jon must figure out a way to somehow keep his status as the cool kid. Without getting pulverized.
What Marty Chan is working on now: “My next book is Haunted Hospital, an Orca book for reluctant reading teens. It’s about a group of teenagers who dare themselves to explore an abandoned hospital to find out if there are really ghosts in the building. As for stage magic, I’m currently developing Chinese folktales that blend storytelling with stage magic and improv.”
For more information about Marty Chan, his books, writing, school visits, and magic tricks, please see his website.
Frank Beltrano starts his day with a gourmet cup of freshly hand-ground filter-dripped coffee, usually in a cup stamped with the word “create”. As he sips and writes his early morning pages, a drop or two of coffee slips between his lips and the lip of the cup, runs down over the word “create” creating a Jackson Pollack-ish masterpiece. Mr. Pollack rolls over in his grave, mumbles, “Great, you fucking thief” and Frank’s day moves on from there.
Lately his love, Marie-Claire Roussel, brings him a glass of “sunshine”, freshly squeezed orange juice sprinkled with coconut, in a glass decorated with Joan Miro-ish designs. Miro’s grave is not disturbed by this. The glass comes from a museum in Barcelona that honors him. It was given to Frank by his youngest daughter, Julia who greatly appreciates visual art and is a wizard with computers. Frank is not. Frank has another, slightly older daughter, Vicky who in turn has two daughters, Beatrice and Lucie. Vicky is an architect applying her skills to designing family and small structures in lego.
But we digress. The question has been put to us by Ms. Toy, “What and where has Frank published?” Frank pauses to let his busy mind wander… to 1981, the University of Toronto, Childe Thursday Press, Thursday’s Voices, 2 short stories, “Museum Piece” and if memory serves us well, “The Visitor” in Thursday’s Voices #2. That was so long ago, he was paid $10 for each, a fortune.
But wait further back in time Frank was a teen writer in high school for the Sault Daily Star. For 10 cents a word and $2 for a picture suggestion, he pounded out copy about local rock bands, high school drama reviews and other cool stuff pertinent to a teen crowd in a northern Ontario town.
More recently Frank has been published in numerous journals, Toward the Light (Editor’s Choice Award, and Honorable Mention), Geist Magazine 2nd place in their erasure contest, Carousel Magazine, twice in London Wordfest Zines, and in anthologies like That Other London and More Challenges for the Delusional. His poems have twice ridden the London, Ontario, buses. And after coming third in the Coffee Shop Authors’ Contest in 2011 he turned several of his poems into visual art and showed them at the Black Walnut Café and Bakery in Wortley Village, London and the Patina Studio in Bayfield, Ontario.
Susan Toy enjoying coffee with Frank Beltrano at the coffee shop where he wrote his contest entry.
Frank was born June 14th (same date as Donald Trump, Oh lucky stars) 1954 in Sault Ste. Marie, moved to Toronto in 1973 to attend the University of Toronto and earned a BA in liberal arts. He managed for many years to eek out an existence as a museum guard at the Royal Ontario Museum, as a Locksmith for more than a decade, and then he moved to London, Ontario where he worked at a Chapters bookstore for another decade and then 3 years at the Home Depot until he retired at 65 in 2019.
While in London Frank was an active member of the dynamic poetry community, teaching creative writing at art galleries after hours to adults, and reading regularly at Open Mics and other public events.
However, the time came to run away from all the fame, fortune and celebrity of the poetry world in London, Ontario, and run he did to Jupiter, Rue de Jupiter, Lévis, Quebec across the St. Lawrence river from Quebec City. Here to be closer to Marie-Claire’s 10 brothers and sisters he is an island of English in a sea of French. Now Frank is working at attracting other islands of English and they are forming a movement tentatively called the “English Poets of Lévis”, or some such thing. The group is too young to be formally named just yet.
New coffee shop, still writing …
Frank Beltrano and I did not meet in person until a while after he had placed 3rd in the Coffee Shop Author contest I had run. He also actually paid to be a sponsor, along with his wife Marie-Claire Roussel, of the first printing of my novel Island in the Clouds, and for that I am forever grateful! I believe the first time we met in person was in London, ON, at the Chapters store where Frank was working at the time. And I was extremely fortunate that the three of us became good friends after that, so I always had a place to stay with them whenever I went to London, and accompanied them both many times at open mics and author promotions and events around the city over the years. And through Frank I managed to meet many other authors who were writing and publishing in London and area. Frank and Marie-Claire also visited me at the trailer park numerous times. So you can imagine just how much I sorely miss them since they moved to Quebec! Fortunately, we manage to keep in contact through email and on social media.
Something Frank only made passing mention of above in his bio was the “visual art” he created out of his poems. I thought this to be a very unique and “artistically” effective way of presenting his writing, and I have bought two of his pieces … so far. As Frank recalls: “My submission [to Coffee Shop Author] was a collection of poems written to the theme of coffee shop related sights, sounds, smells and experiences. After winning the contest I wanted to share with the regulars at the sponsoring coffee shop, The Black Walnut Bakery and Café in Wortley Village, London, Ontario, my poems about this place that we knew so well. Rather than just print off the poems on a computer and perhaps post them on the bulletin board I came up with a novel presentation. I gave the printed poems to a calligrapher who copied them in black ink onto wooden coffee stir sticks. I took burlap coffee bean bag material and covered the mats in black shadow-boxes with the colorful graphics-laden fabric. Then I mounted the lines of poetry to the burlap . . . out of those stir sticks and coffee bean bags came these poetic creations in shadow-boxes.” And, of his collaboration with photographer Al Sugarman, Frank says: “I had also been asked by my friend, photographer Al Sugerman, to consider a series of photos he had taken of our mutual friend Tony Eyamie turning clay. The black and white photos were close-ups of his hands working the clay into the shape of an urn. My wife, Marie-Claire, and I visited Tony and Joan Bailey’s gallery, the Patina Studios in Bayfield, where my shadow-boxes are currently hanging, and Joan talked to us about the funerary urns Tony makes. All this came together in a second square foot piece entitled, “Hands and Clay”.”
In total, Frank has had about four public showings of this work at two art galleries (in London and Bayfield, ON), and I was very pleased to attend the opening of at least one of those shows! Frank and Al Sugarman also created a poster of a poem super-imposed over a photo.
So Frank Beltrano has yet to publish his poetry in actual book form … yet. But we’re working on rectifying that situation!
And, on an even more personal note, not only do Frank and I share the experience of Coffee Shop Author, but we also discovered we rode in on the same horse! Or pony, actually. These photos were taken a couple of years apart as well as many miles (I was in Toronto and Frank was living in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario), but it is most definitely the SAME pony!
As Frank said when he discovered we’d had similar pictures taken: “That pony sure did get around!”
Frank Beltrano now writes in the coffee shop, Subtil Café, in St. Romuald, Quebec.
What Frank is working on now: Projects, projects…Frank is assembling a book-length manuscript of poems for publication. He is attempting to get more poems into literary journals, always writing more and starting a second book-length poetry project based on the architecture of the I-Ching hexagrams.
Very soon, March 15th to be exact, he is going to the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida to once again write with his American poetry buddies. The week is hosted by Murphy Writing Seminars of Stockton University. He has been there before and the coffee was good, the orange juice fresh.
Frank Beltrano has had a poem featured in the online magazine, The Disappointed Housewife, the brainchild of Kevin Brennan, who has also been promoted during this Authors-Readers International series.
If you are interested in Frank Beltrano’s art/poems, and wish to purchase any of these or his art poster, or would just like to talk with him about writing and poetry, please send an email: frankbeltrano (at) gmail.com (Or contact me).
Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing stories, travelling the world and meeting interesting people. She also believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true. It’s no surprise that she’s now an award-winning author. Her exciting Amanda Travels series features spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Readers from seven-to-seventy-plus enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene, her husband and their dog, Dot, divide their time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, Spain.
I have never met Darlene Foster in person, even though we were both living in Alberta at the same time. I first discovered Darlene’s books, in fact, because of that shared Alberta experience. I was scanning the Goodreads book lists for new releases and happened upon her book, Amanda in Alberta. I thought it would be a great addition to my Reading Recommendations blog to promote a new-to-me Alberta author who was writing books for children about the province, so I contacted Darlene, and she has since appeared twice on my blog. Darlene Foster has also been an avid promoter of my books and blogs as well as the writing of many other authors we’ve both met online over the years. She continues to share and like and comment upon just about every author’s promotions I’ve posted to this A-RI series. As well, like me, Darlene now spends half of each year outside of Canada – in her case, living in Spain. Plus, the main character of her books travels to many other countries. (Arabia, Spain, England, Alberta Canada, the Danube Germany, New Mexico USA, Holland) So Darlene Foster has truly become an “international” author herself!
Amanda In Holland – Missing in Action
Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah. She travels the canals of Amsterdam, visits Anne Frank House, checks out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and takes pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. While she’s there, she is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald.
Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.
What Darlene Foster is working on now: I published book #7 in the Amanda Travels series, Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action in September 2019 and returned to Canada to do a successful book tour. I´m currently putting the finishing touches on Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady which is scheduled for release Spring, 2021. Amanda will continue to travel and have adventures. I have just started Amanda in France (no subtitle yet) I also have a collection of short stories about growing up in the prairies I plan to publish. Hubby and I are enjoying life in Spain and love being able to explore other wonderful European locations. We will be visiting Venice next.
For more information about Darlene Foster and her books, please see her website.
Author, musician and documentary film maker
Glenn Dixon’s third book, Juliet’s Answer (Simon & Schuster) has been published in eleven countries and translated into five languages including Chinese, Spanish and German. He was the 2014 writer-in-residence for the Vancouver International Writers Festival and his second book, Tripping the World Fantastic was shortlisted for the W.O. Mitchell Award. He has traveled through more than 75 countries and written for the New Yorker, National Geographic Magazine, the New York Post, Walrus Magazine and the Globe and Mail. He lives In Calgary, Canada.
I was Glenn Dixon’s sales rep when he published Pilgrim in the Palace of Words in 2009. Even though we both lived in Calgary at the time, we didn’t meet until he took part in a multi-author event in downtown Calgary. (I still have the paperback ARC of this book.) I continued to promote Glenn after I left repping, and we had some friends in common so I saw him around town occasionally.
During this time, Glenn was retiring from teaching and planning his next book, Tripping the World Fantastic, for which he’d be travelling to music venues around the world. It just so happened that Dennis and I were going to be on Bequia while Glenn was travelling in South America and the Caribbean, so he took a side trip to visit us! Glenn has the distinction of being the only author I knew before-hand who has come specifically to visit us here! (I’ve already promoted two other “Bequia” authors on Authors-Readers International, Betty Caroli and Felicity Harley, but I met them here first before knowing they were authors.)
Glenn Dixon has also had great success with his most recent book, Juliet’s Answer, which I have read as well, and found it to be an exceptionally good story!
Juliet’s Answer – A Memoir
One Man’s Search for Love and the Elusive Cure for Heartbreak
In fair Verona where we lay our scene…
When Glenn Dixon is spurned by love, he does something unusual. He travels to Verona, Italy, to become a scribe of Juliet, Shakespeare’s fictional character, all in an attempt to understand his heartbreak. Once there, he volunteers to answer the thousands of letters that arrive addressed to Juliet, letters sent from lovelorn people all over the world who long to understand the mysteries of the human heart.
Glenn’s journey takes him deep into the charming community of Verona, where he learns the traditions of the townspeople and becomes involved in unravelling the truth behind Romeo and Juliet—Did these star-crossed lovers actually exist? Did they live in Verona? Why have they remained at the forefront of hearts and minds for centuries? And what can they teach us about love? At the same time, we learn about Claire, Glenn’s unrequited love, the source of his heartbreak. Was she truly his soul’s match, or was she, like Rosalind in Shakespeare’s classic play, a mere infatuation who pales in comparison the moment his real Juliet enters his life?
When Glenn returns home to Canada and resumes his duties as a Grade 10 English teacher, he undertakes a lively reading of Romeo and Juliet with his students, engaging them in passions past and present. But in an intriguing reversal of fate and fortune, his students—along with an old friend—instruct the teacher on the true meaning of love, loss, and moving on.
An enthralling tale of modern-day love steeped in the romantic traditions of eras past, this is a memoir that will warm your heart.
And here’s a link to a short video about the book.
What Glenn Dixon is working on now: I do have a novel coming out – probably the spring of 2021. It’s signed to Simon & Schuster in Canada and the United States (so far – Juliet’s Answer has been published in eleven countries so I’m hoping for something similar).
For more information about Glenn Dixon, his books, films, and travel please see his website.
Glenn Dixon was a guest on Reading Recommendations in Jan. 2017.
Fred Stenson is a novelist, non-fiction writer and film writer (born at Pincher Creek, Alberta). Stenson was raised in ranching country near Twin Butte, AB, and attended school in Pincher Creek. He has a BA from the University of Calgary. He published his first novel, Lonesome Hero, in 1974 (Macmillan of Canada). Last One Home followed in 1988. Stenson’s third novel, The Trade (2000), is a richly imagined recreation of the fur trade in western North America. It was the first of a trilogy of novels set in the 19th century Canadian west. The second of these novels, Lightning (2003), featured the cattle frontiers of Alberta and Montana. Both The Trade and Lightning won the Grant MacEwan’s Author’s Prize. The Trade was a finalist for the prestigious GILLER Prize and was nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Award. The final novel in this historical trilogy is The Great Karoo, in which western Canadian cowboys sought an end-of-century adventure in South Africa’s Boer War. In his three historical novels, Stenson simultaneously mythologizes and demythologizes the West. He focuses on the lives of ordinary people, the fringe players of history, leaving the larger legends, big ranchers and political personalities to others. Before turning to historical fiction, Stenson wrote several works of fiction set in rural and urban western Canadian contemporary settings: Lonesome Hero (novel, 1974), Last One Home (novel, 1988), Working Without a Laugh Track (short fiction, 1990), and Teeth (short fiction, 1994). Stenson’s numerous non-fiction works include The Story of Calgary (1994), RCMP: The March West (1999), The Last Stack (2000), Glenbow Provincial Park (2012) and Rotary in Calgary (2014). Thing Feigned or Imagined (2002) is a guide to the writing of fiction, published by The Banff Centre Press. Stenson is the author of more than 150 film and video scripts, including two seasons of the documentary series World of Horses (first aired by Discovery Canada). He has edited two collections of Alberta writing, Alberta Bound (1986) and The Road Home (1992). Stenson was a founding member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, serving as its president in 1996. He has been on the council of The Writers’ Union of Canada three times. Since 2001 he has been director of the Wired Writing Studio at the Banff Centre, which ended in 2016. He has been the humor columnist for Alberta Views Magazine since its inception in 1999.
Fred Stenson lives in Pincher Creek, Alberta.
I first heard of Fred Stenson and his writing when I was working in bookstores in Calgary. A book Fred had edited, Alberta Bound, was launched to great fanfare at an event held in 1986 at Sandpiper Books, and I was thrilled that so many of the contributors – some of the top authors in the province at the time, attended that evening! Now, some 30 years or so later, I look over that list of contributors and realize that I’ve promoted a number of the authors during my book career, a few have since died, and a couple became friends. (Shirley Black, were you at this launch party???)
Over the decades since that book was published I’ve known Fred through his own writing, mainly the novels, and also because he was living in Cochrane where, when I was repping for publishers, I paid regular visits to one of my more “interesting” bookstore clients, George Parry at Westlands. Fred was a regular at the coffee shop next door, and everyone in Cochrane knew everyone else at that time. Fred was also a friend of another sales rep I’d known since I first began selling books, Greg Gerrard (whose photo of Fred is above). This business is so intertwined!
It wasn’t until much later, when I returned to Calgary as an Alberta sales rep once again in 2008, that I actually repped any of Fred’s books, and then it was only for a reprint of his novel, The Trade. In the meantime, I had been taking online writing courses and Fred Stenson had written what I thought was one of the most useful books on writing I’d read, and one that will always remain in my personal library, Thing Feigned or Imagined. This blurb says it all: “Somebody commissioned to design the perfect writing mentor would probably come back with Fred Stenson. Stenson is wise, funny, and blessedly enthusiastic about the craft of writing. This is a book real writers are going to use, again and again.” And that is so very true!
During that same time, Fred Stenson was a faculty member at The Banff Centre where he was the director of the Wired Writing Studio for eleven years. And he continued to write his own fiction, and commissioned non-fiction, to great acclaim.
Who By Fire
Fred Stenson’s most recent novel is Who By Fire (Doubleday Canada, 2014). It is the story of a southern Alberta farm family who suddenly have a dangerous gas plant on their doorstep. The only son in this family pursues a career in the oil industry, a career that ends in the present day Alberta oil sands. It is a story of community and industry, and the tragedy of lives lived too close to industry’s fire. But it is also a novel about loyalty: what loyalty means in a family, a community, a corporation, a country—or in the tormented mind of one individual who feels he has betrayed his own.
Ella Ryder has never known another home. Her three children are growing up in the same house as she was born in. Suddenly, that is a very dangerous place to be. From the award-winning, bestselling author of The Trade, Lightning and The Great Karoo, comes a powerful, passionate novel about two generations of a family caught in the path of progress.
Who by Fire is a novel of rare emotional depth and profound resonance. With unflinching truthfulness and precise detail, Fred Stenson portrays the crunching impacts between people and industry, of lives left twisting in the winds of change.
One more of Fred Stenson’s novels I’d like to mention here is The Great Karoo, because although it’s again based on Canadian history, there’s also an international aspect to it, as part of it takes place in South Africa during the Boer War. “The Great Karoo begins in 1899, as the British are trying to wrest control of the riches of South Africa from the Boers, the Dutch farmers who claimed the land. The Boers have turned out to be more resilient than expected, so the British have sent a call to arms to their colonies — and an a great number of men from the Canadian prairies answer the call and join the Canadian Mounted Rifles: a unit in which they can use their own beloved horses. They assume their horses will be able to handle the desert terrain of the Great Karoo as readily as the plains of their homeland. Frank Adams, a cowboy from Pincher Creek, joins the Rifles, along with other young men from the ranches and towns nearby — a mix of cowboys and mounted policeman, who, for whatever reason, feel a desire to fight for the Empire in this far-off war.” Another piece of Canadian history that, to me, had been previously unknown.
What Fred Stenson is working on now: “Right now I’m buried in work on a documentary film, I am still a humour columnist at Alberta Views Magazine, and I’m looking forward to getting back to my fiction when the film work is done.”
For more information about Fred Stenson, please see his website.
Fred Stenson has also been a guest on my blog Reading Recommendations in Sept. 2014.
Marcello Di Cintio
I was born in Calgary and studied Microbiology and English at the University of Calgary. I was also a member of the university wrestling team. I graduated in 1997 with a pair of degrees (a BA and BSc).
Later that year, I traveled to West Africa with a volunteer organization and taught biology in a Ghanaian village for three months. When my volunteer placement was complete, I wandered through western and northern Africa for nine months. My stories from Africa resulted in my first book, Harmattan: Wind Across West Africa. This won the Henry Kriesel Award for Best First Book.
In December 1999, hot with millennium-fever, I traveled to Jerusalem to watch the clock turn on 2000. I wandered throughout Israel and Egypt before returning to Calgary to begin a career as a freelance writer. Since then, I’ve published articles in numerous magazines and literary journals including Afar, The Walrus, EnRoute, Geist and Reader’s Digest Canada.
I traveled to Iran in the summer of 2003 seeking the connection between Persian poets and traditional wrestlers. This trip, and a subsequent return to the country the following year, yielded the stories that make up my travel memoir Poets and Pahlevans: A Journey Into the Heart of Iran. Knopf Canada published Poets and Pahlevans in 2006. The book won the Wilfred Eggleston Prize for Best Nonfiction at the Alberta Book Awards and was nominated for the Edna Staebler Award.
My last project was a book about walls, fences and other ‘hard’ barriers – and the people who live in their shadows – called Walls; Travels Along the Barricades. For this book, I visited walls and fences in Algeria, Morocco, the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, Israel, Palestine, India, Cyprus, Montreal, Belfast and along the US-Mexico border. Walls won the 2013 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, among a few other awards, and has been published in Canada (both in English and French), the US, the UK and Bulgaria.
My newest book is called Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Palestine in the Present Tense. The book reveals life in contemporary Palestine as seen through the lens of the region’s rich literary culture.
I live in Calgary with my beautiful wife and son, Amedeo.
I first became aware of Marcello Di Cintio’s writing after I had already left Calgary (the first time) to live full time on Bequia. One connection with the city I could not give up was the local food magazine, The City Palate, published by Gail Norton (owner of the bookstore, The Cookbook Company) and edited by longtime restaurant reviewer, Kathy Richardier. They mailed a subscription of the magazine to me and I’ve kept all those copies over the past 25 years. Marcello Di Cintio had contributed a number of travel pieces that involved food, and I remember being quite taken by his writing. (While preparing to write this part of the promotion, I was about to haul all my copies of the Palate off the shelves to flip through them and look for any articles written by Marcello, but then realized I had a copy of the book The Best of City Palate: 10 years of good eats and good reads (by Gail Norton and Kathy Richardier), and discovered it contained six of these articles!) Anyway, long preamble to explain that I was aware of Marcello’s writing long before I moved back to Calgary and was working to promote authors. When I did finally meet Marcello in person, it was because he was the writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary. At the same time, Betty Jane Hegerat (who I promoted here previously on A-RI) was serving as the writer-in-residence at the Calgary Public Library. An event was organized and held at Memorial Park Library at which both WIRs were invited to speak about what they had been doing, working on, and how they had been consulting other writers on their work. Over the few years after, while I was still living in Calgary, I promoted Marcello Di Cintio’s (then) new book Walls, and invited him to speak at a literary salon I had organized, named “In the Shadow of the Wall,” that featured four previous University of Calgary writers-in-residence, part of the Calgary Distinguished Writers Program – I had been serving on their selection board. (The chapbook for this salon is the one in the top right corner in the photo.)
Since that time I have also featured Marcello Di Cintio on my blog Reading Recommendations (see link below), and I’ve continued to read his writing, which just keeps getting better! His latest book, Pay No Heed to the Rockets, just proves he is a writer who deserves to reach more of an international readership, not only as his subject matter is international in scope, but also because his writing is very good indeed!
Pay No Heed to the Rockets
Celebrated author Marcello Di Cintio first visited Palestine in 1999. Like most outsiders, the Palestinian narrative that he knew had been simplified by a seemingly unending struggle, a near-Sisyphean curse of stories of oppression, exile and occupation told over and over again.
In Pay No Heed to the Rockets, Di Cintio reveals a more complex story: the Palestinian experience as seen through the lens of authors, books, and literary culture. Using the form of a political-literary travelogue, he explores what literature means to modern Palestinians and how Palestinians make sense of the conflict between a rich imaginative life and the daily tedium and violence of survival.
Di Cintio begins his journey on the Allenby Bridge that links Jordan to Palestine. He visits the towns and villages of the West Bank, passes into Jerusalem, and then travels through Israel before crossing into Gaza. En route, he meets with poets, authors, librarians, and booksellers. He begins to see Palestine through their eyes, through the stories of their stories.
Following the lives of past literary giants like Mahmoud Darwish and Ghassan Kanafani and the contemporary authors whom they continue to inspire, Di Cintio travels through the rich cultural and literary heritage of Palestine. It’s there that he uncovers a humanity, and a beauty, often unnoticed by news media. At the seventieth anniversary of the Nakba, the “catastrophe” of the Arab-Israeli War, Pay No Heed to the Rockets tells a fresh story about Palestine, one that begins with art rather than war.
Published by Goose Lane Editions (Canada), Saqi Books (UK) and from Counterpoint Books (US).
What Marcello Di Cintio is working on now: “I am currently working on the second draft of a manuscript about the “secret” lives of Canadian taxi drivers. I spent about a year traveling around the country meeting with cabbies and getting to know their back stories. The book is still untitled – though I am open to suggestions – and is scheduled for publication by Biblioasis in Fall 2020.”
For more information about Marcello Di Cintio, his writing and books, please see his website.
Marcello Di Cintio has previously been promoted on my Reading Recommendations blog in Jan. 2015.
I was born on Islay. My family moved to the mainland when I was seven and I grew up in Castle Douglas in south west Scotland.
I worked for ten years with Oxfam in Lancashire, fundraising and campaigning on development issues. The next ten years were spent first in Pakistan, then Afghanistan, where I worked for a small health organisation primarily concerned with leprosy and mother and childcare. My experiences living in those countries inform much of my writing.
I returned to Castle Douglas when my son was five years old so he could have somewhere to put down his own roots.
I have always written. As a child I wrote adventure stories in my own books made from wallpaper off-cuts and as a teenager I wrote very bad love poetry. For most of my life I’ve kept a journal. While still working in Afghanistan I began submitting features to various publications including The Herald and The Guardian Weekly.
When I settled back in Scotland I began to realise there might be a possibility to earn my living as a writer. As a freelance journalist I published articles in national and local newspapers and magazines covering a variety of topics from Afghanistan to local history to disability issues. At the same time I decided it was time to complete my education, having had possibly the longest ‘gap year’ ever and studied for a degree in Liberal Arts: Health and Social Studies at the newly opened University of Glasgow Crichton Campus.
On a creative writing module at Glasgow University Crichton Campus, Tom Pow, ignoring my protests, made me write poetry and I am so glad he did. Since then I have had poems published in a number of literary magazines, broadsheets and anthologies.
In 2006 I graduated with an MLitt in Creative Writing from Glasgow University.
The novel on which I was working during my course was published in 2009. No More Mulberries is a story of love, loss and divided loyalties, set in Afghanistan.
I work part time as a reporter/feature writer for Dumfries and Galloway Life, which allows me some free time to focus on other writing projects.
I have only met Mary Smith online, and that was through fellow bloggers, Chris the Story Reading Ape, Sally Cronin with her Smorgasbord Blog Magazine, and Seumas Gallacher (Seumas has already been promoted as part of this A-RI series), but since meeting we have followed each other for a number of years and helped to promote our collective books. Mary Smith is a perfect example of the “international” author I wanted to promote through this series: She was born and now lives in Scotland, but has also lived in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has written books set in those countries. I’ve read both No More Mulberries and her collection of non-fiction stories about Afghan women, and found them to be well-written and fascinating, opening up a part of the world to me that had previously been unknown. Mary has also been one of several loyal followers of this author-reader series since I began posting to it on Dec. 1st, and has retweeted pretty well every authors’ promotions throughout the month and a half it’s been running. Mary personally has an extensive, and international, following, so I know she is managing to share all this information with so many more readers than I could ever reach, and for that I am extremely grateful!
More about Mary Smith’s writing …
I write non-fiction – both full length and features for a variety of publications – fiction and poetry.
I enjoy working in collaboration with artists from other art forms and have worked on projects with print maker and visual artist Silvana McLean and sculptor Matt Baker. I have also enjoyed working on a number of community-based oral history projects and exhibitions for Dumfries and Galloway Women’s Forum, Community Learning and Development, Poverty Alliance and the National Theatre of Scotland‘s inaugural ‘Home’ project.
My novel No More Mulberries, set in Afghanistan, was published in 2009 and is available in both paperback and eBook formats.
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women (Indigo Dreams Publishing) is a non-fiction account of my time in Afghanistan and provides a unique insight into the lives of Afghan women before and immediately after Taliban’s rise to power.
My poems have been published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies and my first full length poetry collection, Thousands Pass Here Every Day was published in 2012 by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
No More Mulberries
No More Mulberries is set in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan where British-born Miriam finds her relationship with her Afghan husband, Dr Iqbal heading towards crisis.
From the opening chapters the reader is drawn into Miriam’s family life and her circle of friends, joining her in the clinic where she carries out her role of health worker for the women of the village. It is a life in which Miriam is clearly at home; after spending several years in Afghanistan she no longer feels conscious of the impact of what, to the reader, may seem a strange and difficult existence. However, the problems in her marriage – its silences and evasions – unsettle Miriam’s equilibrium.
When asked by her boss to attend, as translator, a teaching camp for Afghan paramedics and foreign doctors she goes despite Dr Iqbal’s opposition. While there, a friend from her past arrives, urging her to visit his village and the place where she worked some years earlier.
No More Mulberries is about commitment and divided loyalties. It is also a story of love, isolation, coping and learning to live with loss and grief, all of which are further exacerbated by cultural differences, and all set against the shadow of a country moving through the transition from earlier conflict to the new Taliban threat.
What Mary Smith is working on now: “On my blog MarySmith’sPlace I am doing a weekly post on the first trip I made to Afghanistan. It’s from a few years before the time I wrote about in the memoir. I have all my diaries from back then so thought I might as well use the material.
New projects – I have said 2020 is the year I’m going to use the material from the My Dad’s a Goldfish blog to write a memoir about Dad and dementia (but don’t hold me to that – I’ve said it every year for four years!).
For more information about Mary Smith, her writing, teaching, and where to purchase her books, please see her website.