Tag Archives: Tom Phillips

Why do you write?

I wrote a similar blog post on July 9th, 2014, with the exact same title, but it seems like the right time to remind Authors of these thoughts of mine …)

Why do you write?

That’s a simple enough question, isn’t it? Why do you “create” could also be asked of all artists – musicians, visual, photographers, sculptors, authors … What is is that makes you want to create something? It’s a question every creator should ask themselves from time to time, but especially when they’re down, after having checked non-existent sales for the umpteenth time, or when reading lackluster reviews.

Why did you get into this in the first place?

If it was with a plan to write the next big bestseller and make untold fame and fortune then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell to you.

But if it was for the sheer joy of creating something, of using your imagination, or your experience or your skills, to form something tangible out of your vision … well, then! Now you see the ultimate value that no one – and I mean NO ONE! – can ever put a monetary value on or judge in any way to make you feel less than you should about realizing your dreams.

I’m asking this question, Why do you write?, because there are far too many authors out there who are agonizing over the $$$ (or £££ or €€€) and the numbers of copies sold and not considering what it is about writing and creating that got them into this in the first place.

And it all had me remembering a song written by Michael Burton, Night Rider’s Lament. The chorus pretty much sums up what I’m trying to say here … (Lyrics)

Here is my Calgary pal, Tom Phillips, accompanied by Shaye Zadravec (with the very talented Mr. Dwight Thompson on guitar in the background!), instead. Great song! And there’s a bonus – Tom yodels, too …

So … don’t tell me why you write. But be sure to tell yourself – over, and over, and over again.

2012 – A Year of Alberta Books Canada Literary Salons

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nov. 29, 2011

Betty Jane Hegerat
Lori Hahnel
Rosemary Griebel
Bob Stallworthy

Dec. 14, 2011

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

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

Jeramy Dodds
Rosemary Nixon
Marcello Di Cintio
Richard Harrison

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

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

June 13, 2012 – New offerings by established authors

Barb Howard
Maureen Bush
Steve Owad
Weyman Chan

Sept. 30, 2012 – Mentors and Mentoring

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

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

Alice Major
Kath MacLean
Geo Takach
Peter Midgley


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

ABC Friday Reads & Listens – David Poulson and Tom Phillips

Since this Friday just happens to be the opening of the Calgary Stampede and the Calgary Stampede Parade has just finished winding its way through downtown Calgary, I thought I would recommend not only some good Alberta reading for your weekend, but also some great Alberta music to enjoy, whether you’re stampeding in Calgary or wishing you were!

For the reading portion, I recommend Don’t Fence Me In, A Romance of the New West by David Poulson. I sold this book many years ago when I was a rep and it was published by Red Deer College Press. It’s no longer in print, but I happen to know where you can buy a copy, so send me an email, if you’re interested or can’t find it at your local library. David has been a bareback rider, a rodeo clown and also a professional rodeo announcer, and this book draws on his experience. It’s about Doc Allen who is at the end of his rodeo career, and it’s very funny! Poulson has lived his entire life in Alberta and currently makes his home in the foothills southwest of Calgary.

Tom Phillips, too, has lived most of his life in Alberta and now resides in Calgary. I’ve known Tom for a bit longer than I’ve known David – I sold David’s book to Tom when he managed Canterbury Bookstore in Penny Lane (neither place is there any longer). Tom is better known around the province now as a singer/songwriter, and he and his band, The Men of Constant Sorrow, play many gigs – especially during this annual week of Stampede! Tom has produced a number of CDs, but the one in the photo above includes my favourite song he wrote with the appropriate title, Like a Rodeo. Click here to hear Tom perform this. Beautiful! I’ll be catching Tom’s performance at the annual Schooners’ Stampede Party this weekend. (Oh, and I forgot to mention that Tom is also writing a novel…)

So there you have it… a little taste of the Calgary Stampede for all of you to sample over this weekend of July, 2012! YAHOO!!

Island in the Clouds – *UPDATE* Print Book Launch, Memorial Park Library, June 21st!

Please join me, and some very special guests – including Tom Phillips!, at Memorial Park Library in Calgary, June 21st – also my birthday! – to help launch the print publication of my novel Island in the Clouds! We’ll be serving birthday cake and wine, tea and coffee, and books will be available to purchase, thanks to Pages Books on Kensington.

Place: Memorial Park Library, 1221 2nd. St. S.W., Calgary
Time: 7 – 8 p.m.
No registration required

Baking in Bequia 2

It’s been socked in and coolish, all morning. A big wave of rain just passed through, and it looks as though it will continue raining, on-and-off, for the rest of the day. I hope it’s not enough of a storm to delay flights from Barbados, because we have a visitor arriving in St. Vincent at 1:30 who will be taking the ferry over to land on Bequia at 5 this afternoon – just in time for drinks at the Tommy Cantina bar.

It’s Glenn Dixon, Calgary author, who is flying in. He landed in Barbados the same day I did, and is in this part of the Caribbean for their Crop Over (carnival) that begins on Sunday. How could he not come to visit me on Bequia when he is so close? Check out his website for more information about Glenn, his books, and his travels. (This really is the southern office of Alberta Books Canada – I’m still promoting Alberta authors, it seems, even though I’m not presently in the province. Old habits die hard…)

So, today’s baking will involve making something to serve Glenn at dinner tonight. And since I used the last of the yeast yesterday, it looks as though the recipe I will be baking is Cracker Bread, an old favourite that I have always served as an appetizer. I first had cracker bread, years ago, at an Italian restaurant here on Bequia that was run by a crazy Italian chef/free diver/disco DJ. At one point, an even crazier Italian friend of the chef was doing the baking. He made this fabulous cracker bread – nice and crispy, and delicious – so good that I had to try to duplicate it. I searched through my cookbooks and, again, this is another recipe I discovered in Baking With Julia, but I’ve adapted it a bit and have perfected my own method of rolling the dough out thin and long using the pasta machine. Yes, strange, I know, but I also use this machine to roll out perogy skins, and Dennis’ good Ukrainian mother would be shocked by that information, so please don’t tell her. The hand-cranked machine really does work best for more than just making pasta.

It was a no-brainer picking out the perfect music to accompany my baking today. I immediately grabbed the CD by Tom Phillips and the Men of Constant Sorrow, because Glenn and Tom played in a band together in Calgary oh so long ago. This will be almost like having Tom here with us as well – without the cigarette smoke and expense of providing too much tequila.

To serve with the cracker bread, I’m making a dip of some kind, and will add some roasted peppers Dennis had already prepared. For dinner, we’re going to go a bit local and make a Calaloo Soup, Lime and Thyme BBQ’d Fish, Peas and Rice, Coleslaw, and a local recipe for Lime Pie that is a favourite dessert for my Toronto-friend, Jim.

Here’s the finished Cracker Bread, ready to eat.

And there’s the boat, coming around the headland. Gotta go!