Tag Archives: writing
Here’s a guest post from one of my favourite authors, Seumas Gallacher, published here on the occasion of the release of his new autobiography, STRANGELY I’M STILL HERE! I purchased and read a copy immediately upon its being listed, and I include my review here of the book, as well as an original piece that Seumas has provided to me for this guest blog post. (Links to purchase a copy of this book and all others written and published by him will be found at his own blogsite: Seumas Gallacher – Author
This is my review of Strangely, I’m Still Here: An Autobiography …
What A Life!
I previously read everything Seumas Gallacher had written and published – fiction, non-fiction, poetry. So I was very motivated to purchase and read his autobiography and to find out more about this author whose work I had enjoyed so much. I thought I already knew quite a bit about the man, having followed him for many years on Facebook and through reading his blog. But this new book proved to be so much more, and gave me great insight into the life path and experiences, around the world as it turned out, that led to Gallacher becoming such an accomplished and engaging author.
If you have read anything previously published by Seumas Gallacher then you will definitely be interested in this autobiography. If you are new to his writing though and read Strangely, I’m Still Here first, and enjoy it as I’m sure you will, I’m positive you will want to read all his other books, too!
Seumas Gallacher’s Guest Blog Post:
Just over six weeks ago, I self-published my life story, STRANGELY, I’M STILL HERE, on Amazon Kindle. As with my other writing exploits, the Jack Calder crime thriller series, my book of poetry, and my author’s guide to publishing, an immense sense of pleasure engulfed me when I had finished the manuscript. However, the aftermath has been decidedly different with the memoir.
The ‘pink cloud’ sensation of elation has yielded to a much stronger feeling of having written something truly for myself and it is having a profound effect on me. When I broached the thought of penning my own experiences, I had no inkling of the cascading torrent of ‘after-light’ that has followed.
I find my mind rummaging back though many of the passages in the book, with powerful re-visitations of feelings and memories which had all but disappeared. Some of the people involved have long since passed away, but I have a deeper sense of how much gratitude I owe to their presence in my story.
Even the apparently negative episodes provided marvellous life lessons, which I only now have come to appreciate and respect at this distance in time. I also understand how much impact certain events and interludes with others have had on shaping my thinking and my attitude to living.
Although all of it was, and still remains, highly personal to me, it has been said many times before that nothing in this universe is absolutely brand new. It has all been seen, done and felt before. I am but a tiny speck on the planet, amongst billions of ‘fellow-specks’, whom I regard in a much different way than when I was a young man.
I have grown up. Older? Yes. Wiser? Who knows. Certainly, more experienced. Writing the memoir was the best therapy for life that I could ever have imagined, and I heartily recommend the exercise to anyone, writer or non-writer – I think they will much the richer for it.
I can never resist a man in a kilt!
WITHOUT spending any money!
I know, I know … finding the money to support authors by buying their books is not always easy. I have a hard time in that department myself.
However, there are many ways that Readers can help Authors of books they’ve already read and enjoyed. These ideas are every bit as valuable to Authors as actual sales can be – and they will cost you absolutely nothing to do. They just require an investment of your TIME, and your ENTHUSIASM to make things happen. Never underestimate what a READER of books can accomplish when they choose to champion a particular book or an Author.
So, here you go! 10 ways you can invest in Authors and Books without spending any money …
1. Borrow and read books from the library. Rate those books on the library’s system. Request that the library purchase other books by that same author. Encourage your friends to use the library. (And, don’t forget, most libraries are now online and offer eBooks for borrowing.)
NB Authors: Library patrons are the biggest group of buyers of books, so it’s definitely worth it to you to get your books into library systems …
2. Tell your friends whenever you discover a great book or a new Author. Post links to the Author’s website/Facebook page/Goodreads listing in your own social media. This does not need to be a full-blown review of the book, but just a shout-out to your friends that this was a great book. (If you’ve read a book that has really knocked off your reading socks, but you don’t want to write a full-blown review – and I can understand that many Readers don’t want to write reviews of what they read – then consider posting something brief to my new blog, What are you reading?.)
3. And speaking of that … Ask your friends the question, “What are you reading?” to start a conversation about books. Then you can easily slip in about what you’ve been reading. 🙂
4. When your favourite author announces the release of a new book or information about what they’ve been up to lately, do these simple things …
a) “Like” their blog post/status update/Tweet
b) Make a comment – something like: “Congratulations!” or “Can’t wait to read it!”
c) Reblog/share/retweet whatever the author has posted, with the added message to your followers that you are excited about this new book being released and that they may want to check it out, too.
d) Repeat however many number of times that the author posts updates.
(Most authors who use social media will be very aware of your engagement with what they post. You can’t imagine how much of a boost that will give them, knowing someone out there is eagerly awaiting their latest. And you can do all of this without ever seeming like a stalker … 😉 )
5. Become a champion of the author’s books. As I said above, recommend to your local library that they add the author’s books to their collection. You can also mention the author and their books to local bookstores, if the store is not already carrying copies. Don’t badger the store to stock the books, but do ask whether they would consider the possibility. And if there’s another local business that might carry a book because it has a local theme or the author is local then ask that store to consider the same. This idea works well for gift shops in tourist areas. (A friend recently arranged for my books to be sold in a Bequia hotel’s giftshop!)
6. Use Goodreads as a means of keeping track of what you read (and for rating those books), but also enter their giveaways. Then mention those giveaways to your friends by sharing the links on social media. (I have discovered many new-to-me books and authors by entering these Goodreads Giveaways – and I’ve created a number of my own giveaways for my books there, too. I’ve been fortunate in that, as a Reader, I’ve won a lot of books from the site. But I also keep track of titles for all contests entered on my “to-read” list and go through that from time-to-time to see what I may be able to borrow and read now.) Do not discount being a “stat” on Goodreads. I can’t be the only author who checks their stats on that site regularly; it definitely means a lot to me when I see an increase in the number of Readers who have added any of my three published books to their lists – yes, even when someone new simply adds one title to their “to-read” list. That’s yet another reader who has been attracted to what I have written, and that makes my heart sing every time!
7. Recommend to your book club that they consider reading and discussing your favourite Author’s book(s). Invite that author to speak to your club via Skype, if that’s a possibility.
8. Working with that Skype idea of the Author calling in to speak with a group, ask whether your local library or bookstore would be interested in setting up an event such as this. Let them deal directly with the Author on the logistics, but put a bug in their ears about the possibility for such an event. And then, if this idea actually does happen, help the venue to encourage interested Readers to attend!
9. If you write a blog, consider talking about the Author and their books there – even if the blog is not book-or-book-review-related. Interview the Author, or allow them to write a guest post. Your blog readers will thank you for your honesty in telling them about a new Author and a book you’ve enjoyed.
10. Contact the Author privately (usually their websites will offer a way of connecting) and tell them how much you enjoyed their writing and books. It’s one thing to receive a positive public comment from a Reader, but if you make the effort to tell that Author, one-on-one, what you really think about their writing and their books … Well!! I know I’m thrilled whenever anyone takes the time to compliment me! I usually ask that Reader if I may quote them, even anonymously if they so choose, because it’s wonderful to be able to share praise I receive with everyone else. Praise in a private email is so, so much better than in a public review! Because again – it’s honest and heartfelt!
So, all easy-peasy stuff to do that will be an “investment” into the Author and their writing, because it will all help that Author to grow their reader-base and, more importantly, to keep writing!
Just to prove that I practice what I preach here, and have done this for many, many, many years, in fact … Here are the links to the blogs I’ve set up:
reading recommendations reviewed
What are you reading?
Do it! Do it NOW! And you may begin by liking and sharing this blog post, telling other Readers how they may make a non-monetary investment in their own favourite Authors that will be much appreciated by both Readers and Authors alike!
SPREAD THE LOVE!!
(and on that note, here’s a little earworm for you …)
I have already posted a list of some of the authors whose books I read this year and found to be outstanding. You will find that link here.
But I read so many books in 2017, and many were great reads indeed, so I’ve divided the list into two: that first list covered authors I have promoted on my blog,
Reading Recommendations; this second list is everything else.
Because I tend to be an eclectic reader, you will find on this list: old books and newly released books, fiction and non-fiction, children’s picture books, graphic novels, memoir – even a couple of political biographies, and many books about books and reading (because I’ve been researching a series on Reading for my blog). What I have not listed are the classics and cookbooks (yes, I even read cookbooks!) that I read this year. And I read all of these books in eBook and print format, sometimes bought, sometimes gifted copies, some even won through Goodreads Giveaways, or they were from my own personal library, and many more were borrowed from the public library.
All are considered to be 5-star ratings, as far as I’m concerned. The very, very best books of the lot though are marked, along with the author’s name, in bold.
(The links attached to these titles will take you to more information on that specific book. These books are listed in the order I read them. )
Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Slow Horses by Mick Herron
The View From the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michi
Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon
Judith by Aritha van Herk
(Reread after almost 40 years since it was first released! From Wikipedia: Van Herk’s writing career began with the publication of her M.A. thesis in 1978. Judith, a novel that explores a feisty female protagonist’s experiences in both rural and urban Canadian spaces, was the first winner of the Seal First Novel Award (C$50,000) from McClelland and Stewart, which granted the book international distribution throughout North America and Europe. )
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Between Them by Richard Ford
Town is by the Sea by Joanne Scwartz
The Secret Place by Tana French
Sidewalk Flowers by Jon Arno Lawson
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi
This Fight is Our Fight by Elizabeth Warren
Before, During, After by Richard Bausch
American War by Omar El Akkad
(If I were forced to make a selection of the very best book I read this year, this would be it!)
Darktown by Thomas Mullen
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate by Al Franken
The End of Your Life Book Club, Books for Living by Will Schwalbe
(The End of Your Life Book Club is the best non-fiction I read, and it really changed the way I read books and think about my reading, and even about my life.)
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Roughneck by Jeff Lemire
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley & Kate Berube
The Scarred Woman by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Arrival: The Story of CanLit by Nick Mount
I have read many, many books this year! Some were written by authors I have promoted previously on my other blog, Reading Recommendations, and these books I considered to be outstanding! And, in a few cases, I read more than one book by the same author. So, without further ado, here’s a list of those authors’ names and the titles of their books I read in 2017 …
(The links below will take you to that author’s original promotion on Reading Recommendations.)
Thanks to all Authors for continuing to write so well!
Gail Anderson-Dargatz – The Spawning Grounds
Tim Baker – 24 Minutes (to be published in 2018)
Gail Bowen – The Winner’s Circle
Kevin Brennan – In No Particular Order
Sharon Butala – Where I Live Now
Paul Butler – The Good Doctor, The Widow’s Fire
Sally Cronin – Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story
Tricia Drammeh – The Fifth Circle, Firebound (Spellbringers Book #2)
Seumas Gallacher – A Few Poetry Stops in a Life’s Journey
Felicity Harley – The Burning Years
Betty Jane Hegerat – Running Toward Home
Allan Hudson – Shorts Vol. 1
J.F. Kaufmann – Ellida, Once Upon a Night (To be published in 2018)
Ken McGoogan – 50 Canadians Who Changed the World, Dead Reckoning: The Untold Story of the Northwest Passage
J.P. McLean – The Betrayal
Antony Millen – The Chain
David A. Poulsen – Serpents Rising, Dead Air
Mike Robbins – Such Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies, Three Seasons
Merilyn Simonds – Gutenberg’s Fingerprint
Mary Smith – Donkey Boy and Other Stories
Check out Part 2 of this series here.
Both my Bequia Perspectives Novels are now available
worldwide from Amazon in print editions!
All links to purchase both titles in print or in eBook formats
(or to borrow from libraries) can be found here:
Bequia Perspectives Novels
Here’s the background as to how all this came about …
In Feb. 2012 I published the first eBook edition of Island in the Clouds. It had been my idea at the time that we should ePublish first, work out any bugs in the files, create a market for the writing and for a print edition, and then go to print once a demand was established. So I didn’t print Island in the Clouds until June 2012, and at that time I went with a traditional publishing company to do so. This cost me a considerable amount of money up front, leaving me in proud possession of 800 copies of the book – which I then had to store, distribute, and sell myself. Five-and-a-half-years later, I still have about 200 copies left in various locations. I have not been paid at all by several places that took copies on consignment to sell for me, and I have no reliable means of selling those remaining copies. Fortunately, I sold enough of the original 800 to cover my expenses of having the books printed, but I’m nowhere near having made enough money from this enterprise to pay myself back for everything I put into writing, promoting and selling the book by myself.
But then we do it for the love of it, right? This was never intended to be a money-making enterprise. But it was also never intended to be a money-LOSING enterprise …
When it came time to think about printing One Woman’s Island, I had to consider long and hard whether I wanted to travel down that same road. First of all, I did not have the several thousand dollars I knew a traditional printing was going to cost. Plus, I really didn’t want to have to store copies anywhere, or find a new distributor for this new book.
Fortunately for me, I received a blog post from Calgary author, Brian Brennan (who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations), in which he explained how he went about reprinting books of his that had been declared out of print by the original publisher. He worked with our mutual eBook formatter, Human Powered Design (Gina McCreary), to create the print files, and then went to a self-publishing service to have copies printed POD (print-on-demand). I reblogged Brian’s explanation of all this here: Brian Brennan – 3 reprints now available
So, I decided to look into this myself for my own print books. In the meantime, Gina had heard of a new service being offered by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing Paperback Beta Program – that we could sign into through our existing eBook accounts (which Gina has always maintained for me) and it seemed as though it was exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t need to pay anything upfront to Amazon, Gina was able to create the necessary print files and cover designs from my original eBook files and look after the listings for me, and I will receive payment from Human Powered Design for sales made, along with any sales of eBooks, every month, as I have done all along since first listing my eBooks in Feb. 2012.
Plus … I now have the benefit of WORLDWIDE distribution of my print books!! That, to me, is the biggest benefit of printing books in this way.
Here’s another article I discovered about this new service that ran on The Digital Reader site.
Hooray!! The print version of my second novel in the Bequia Perspectives Series, One Woman’s Island is now listed with Amazon as being available to order!
Since I went with POD (print-on-demand) with this book, here’s how it works if you prefer to read the novel in a paperback format: you place an order with Amazon; Bingo-Bongo! a copy (or copies) is/are printed specifically for you; you receive your order by mail directly from Amazon. (Yes, you pay Amazon directly, but I will eventually receive my royalties on every copy sold.) I won’t be stocking quantities of this book (or lugging them around with me), so your best bet to get a copy quickly is to order from Amazon. Eventually, there should be a listing for every Amazon sales site and I will update the list as I discover new sites.
Here’s a complete list of where to purchase One Woman’s Island in both the print and eBook formats. Also listed there are libraries where you may be able to borrow the eBook.
Now, let’s have some fun! When you receive your copy of One Woman’s Island from Amazon, please send me a photo either of you holding the book or of the book set in a recognizable place that suggests where you happen to be at the moment … you know, the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, the Rocky Mountains. I’ll then post all the photos on this blog as I receive them. Send your photos to me via email: susanmtoy (at) gmail.com
Thanks to all my supportive and very enthusiastic readers! You are the reason I keep writing …
At least, not that I know. It’s a phrase I repeat to myself with each new book I begin reading. Just to put the amount of reading I do into perspective …
Last summer, someone who shall remain nameless and who does not really know me at all, told me that my problem is I read too much and need to find myself a new hobby. You can imagine how that made me feel. (In case you’re wondering, my snappy comeback was that I thought I wasn’t reading near enough as I could be reading … That was met with a blank stare.)
So, instead of heeding her suggestion, I began to read even more than I had up until then. My entire life has been about books and reading: studying them, selling them, representing them to bookstores and libraries, promoting them, and now even writing them myself.
It’s no surprise I prefer the company of books (and their authors and other readers) over someone like this “someone”. Actually, I believe this person figured I was being selfish of my time – I’ve been accused of this before – in choosing not to be sociable by joining the crowd for chit-chat, but instead sequestering myself away with my ever-growing reading list.
Or, perhaps it’s a case of me being too kind to this person, who has declared publicly that she never reads. Maybe the fact I spend so much of my time reading and am so very well-read makes her feel somewhat inadequate, because she chooses, for whatever reason, not to read books at all. So she blames me for making her look bad and I am responsible for her own failure to match up to me and what I choose to do with my own life.
This is all a long preamble to tell my blog readers I am changing tack and heading in a new direction in what I write about here.
READING will now become the focus, and I plan to write a series of posts on various aspects of the subject, both from my own perspective and that of other readers. My recent blog post, How to Help an Author received an incredible number (for me) of views, likes, shares, and reblogs – plus many comments, so I can see I’m heading in the right direction with this idea. (I’ve been trying to get this series going for a long time now … This time for sure, Rocky!)
I won’t be discussing any longer the issues of how to write, edit, get published, or promote books. I believe I’ve written myself out on those topics and there are plenty of old posts in the archives of this blog, in case anyone is still interested in reading what I’ve had to say. Besides, many other bloggers and websites continue to offer great advice. I’ll leave it up to them to tell you how it’s all done.
But I see little to no information on reading books – both from the perspective of readers and authors (who should always be readers as well, right?). I plan to cover the “Who, What, Where, When and Why”s of reading, as well as “How” we read. I hope readers of this blog will join in on the discussion and add their thoughts about their own reading habits.
I have a funny feeling that, rather than me seeming like an oddity for the number of books I “consume” as a matter of course in my life, I’m going to discover I am far from alone, and that many other readers approach reading in the same way I do …
Buy/Borrow, Read, Promote to other readers
… those books you enjoy.
Never expect the author to give you a free copy. But, if they offer to do so, you shouldn’t feel you are under any obligation to either read the book or give it a rave review. Unless you truly enjoyed reading that book. (As far as I’m concerned, I’m always thrilled to death with the thought that someone else may be reading my book!)
Buying or borrowing a copy from the library is the best show of support. (And if your local library does not have the book in their collection or the bookstore doesn’t have it in stock then this is a good time to mention the book to them. Did you know that most libraries encourage their patrons to recommend books that may be added to their collections? Both print and eBooks in most cases … )
If you can’t find the book to purchase or borrow then write to the author and ask if you may purchase direct. (I’ve supplied a number of print copies of my novel to readers worldwide, outside of Canada, who wrote to request them.)
If you didn’t enjoy the book, tell the author and list all the reasons why. This is how authors learn to write better books. (I remember seeing a sign in a fast food outlet that read: If you like us, tell your friends. If you don’t like us, tell us!) We know that not every book will appeal to all readers – we get that. But we do definitely appreciate receiving constructive criticism.
Sometimes that lack of enjoyment can result from the author not having been clear in their writing. In the case of my own writing, I would appreciate hearing whether someone has misunderstood any aspect of my stories or just not enjoyed the way I’ve written them. That way, I will be sure to make my writing crystal clear in the future. (And the beauty of eBooks is that authors can easily go back and correct any mistakes discovered after publication, and anyone who has already purchased a copy will receive the updated version as soon as it’s uploaded.)
Promoting can be as simple as telling a friend that you enjoyed a book. Reviews online are always welcome, but not necessary if you don’t feel comfortable posting your opinions online. If you are a member of Goodreads, even just listing the book as “currently reading” or “read” and assigning it a number of stars is enough to make me happy. (Please do go that one step further though and mark the book as “currently reading” or “read” when you have finished reading. At the moment, there are 1027 readers listing my novel Island in the Clouds as “to-read”. Imagine if only half of those actually followed through to read and rate that novel. I’d be a very happy author, indeed! Heck! I’d be happy if only 10 readers did this!)
It all seems very simple, doesn’t it? I wonder whether sometimes Readers don’t realize how important they are to Authors. Speaking for myself, you are the reason I write. It’s never been about stroking my ego, fulfilling a dream, or selling lots of books and making a fortune (Yeah, Ha! Ha! As if … ), but about telling a story as well as I can tell it, having it read, and enjoyed, by as many Readers as possible. As long as I know Readers are reading and enjoying what I write then I will keep writing more stories.
So I ask you to think about the authors whose books you’ve enjoyed reading … Would you be willing to do the above to keep them writing more books?
I hope that your answer is YES!
And, on behalf of all Authors, I thank you for wanting to read what we write …
We would not be Authors without READERS!
If you have read Island in the Clouds or One Woman’s Island or That Last Summer (or all three!) and enjoyed reading them – but you haven’t yet posted any reviews online, I would appreciate you doing so now, on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, your library’s website, or your own blog. I’m hoping to build up awareness for my writing in general to create a solid fan base in place to do the heavy-lifting of informing and, hopefully, exciting different and new-to-me readers about any future publications. If you have already posted something to do with me or my writing on your own blog I have likely added that link to this page, this page, or this one. If your interview or review are not listed there, please let me know so I can include you.
Now, I know some readers are shy and don’t want their thoughts and opinions posted in public, and especially not online. I appreciate and understand that feeling! If you have read my books though and enjoyed them enough to want to tell me about that enjoyment, then please send me an email (susanmtoy (at) gmail.com). Your review can be as brief as you’d like to make it. And I promise never to divulge your name if you want to remain anonymous, but do let me know if I may post and quote your comments on my blog – without your name attached! – so potential readers have a chance to see what “someone” thinks of my books and my writing. Whatever you decide, please do write and tell me whatever it is that you think. The best way for any author to improve is to listen to comments made by their readers. After all, it’s you we’re writing for in the first place!
What I hope to achieve by all this, of course, is a build-up of word-of-mouth promotion. You who are already satisfied readers will become, I hope, the foot soldiers in my campaign to promote my books. If you DO want me to quote you in future publicity then let me know I may use your name. A review with a real name has so much more credibility, and I’ll be using the best of those as bullets (not real gun bullets, of course!) and endorsements.
The other way for you to become involved in this promotion campaign of mine is by personally telling your friends about my books, and encouraging them to read what I’ve already published. Then, if they like what they read, they will anticipate my future publications. A readership is something we authors build one reader at a time … and by writing books readers enjoy reading.
So thanks to everyone for reading through my post, and for any help you may be able to offer.
And remember … I am but one author out here who is writing and publishing. There are many, many others who can also use a hand in the promotion of their books. Never discount the effect your personal recommendation has on any book you read and enjoy. Please don’t keep that enjoyment to yourself – tell others about it! An author’s success may just depend on your initial recommendation! (I feel so strongly about this concept that I created the Reading Recommendations blog.) And for those of you who would like to take this a step or two further, here are 99 Ways to Spread the Word About a Book You Love.
Thanks for reading – and commenting and reviewing! I could never have come this far without all of you loyal readers, and I appreciate every single one of you!
I’m hoping that readers of this blog will take my request seriously and consider reading to write reviews for the more than 150 Authors I’ve promoted on my blog, Reading Recommendations. I posted to that blog today and addressed all the authors there, Reading Recommendations … Spring Cleaning, telling them I’ve cleaned up the lists a bit. I immediately received messages from several of those authors, offering me reciprocal promotion for my own writing, and one also requesting titles he could review.
So I thought I would open this up to everyone, readers included – those who don’t happen to also be authors themselves. I ask that you look through the lists on that blog and consider writing a review of books you may have already read, or let me know if you have written a favourable review of any that I may then repost on the reading recommendations reviewed blog. Or, if you discover an author you’d like to interview or review, let me know and I will help you contact them.
Thanks for any help with this. All we authors need reviews, but most important of all is that we find readers who are interested in reading what we write! If you find some new-to-you authors through this blog of mine then I am very happy indeed!
But if you then tell your friends about this great author and their books, that will be pure magic!!