A Salute to These Kind, Fabulous Authors

A few weeks ago, I thanked all of you who’ve read my book,  A Good Home,  so far. (Many of you also take the time to send me letters and cards, which I love.)

But did I ever tell you about the authors who have also graced my journey? What a gift that’s been!

First, Louise Penny. This Canadian author is known for her Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mysteries.  Her lyrical, emotional, insightful writing has won several big awards and put her books on the New York Times bestseller list.

The day I discovered my first Louise Penny book was shortly after I’d turned in my latest feature story to Arabella Magazine. That feature story – written several years before – was titled Possession. It was about the deeply rooted hunger to possess precious things. Louise’s book, The Brutal Telling, was about a deeply-rooted hunger to possess precious things. I was amazed by the serendipity.

Blog - The Brutal Telling

Louise bravely explores that borderland place where the unexplained and the divine intersect with the here and now, the temporal. It’s something I try to do in some of my own writing.

But it was Louise’s own back story – and the similarities between her life and mine — that most surprised me.

We are, I discovered, both Ryerson graduates, both former CBC journalists. But that’s just the stuff that goes into resumes. As I read about her, I realized that we’d both also known what it was like to hit rock-bottom. I was still going through a harrowing fight against painful injuries from a car accident and the very painkillers that were meant to help me cope. Louise had fought a lengthy battle against alcoholism.

I took all these similarities as a sign from above – one of those borderland moments where the divine intersects with the temporal.  It was time, I decided, to get serious about the book I’d started writing a long time ago. But first, I wrote to Louise herself.

Blog - Louise Penny

“The publisher sent me the story layout for my final sign-off just one day before I started your book”, I wrote, referring to the Arabella story, “and as I read your novel, I thought – with a shiver – ‘this is another of my life’s unexplained coincidences’.”

She wrote me back right away: “We seem like sisters,” she said. “I’m glad you’ve discovered my books – and suspect you are a gifted, fabulous writer.”

Such kind encouragement. Louise’s next email contained advice for me as a would-be author. Before you send your manuscript to a publisher or agent, she urged, polish, polish, polish. It’s your one chance, so make it the best it can be.

As I neared the completion of the manuscript, other authors helped.

Blog - Yvonne Blackwood

Yvonne Blackwood, author of Into Africa: The Return, repeatedly helped me polish. She suggested small improvements throughout the text.

Lee Gowan, creative writing professor at the University of Toronto and author of Confession, paid me a precious compliment: he read the manuscript to his mother.

“It was a very moving experience, I can tell you,” Lee wrote.  “Often had a tear or two in my eyes and a hitch in my voice as I was trying to read through.” Lee also stopped me from editing out a whole section of the book that, it turns out, readers love.

Blog - Lee Gowan

When the book was completed, and in the hands of the publisher, I wanted to find out from an author what this next period would be like. Given my need to pace myself, and still attend therapy for long-term injuries, I wanted to make the best of limited resources. Enter Ann Preston, author of The No-Grainer Baker cookbook.

Blog - No Grainer Baker

She was introduced to me by a friend. Ann became a guardian angel, telling me what to expect, and, with her own book on its way to becoming a bestseller, sharing tips by the week.

Blog - Ann Preston

Jan Wong (who self-published her most recent book, Out of the Blue) had experienced both traditional and self publishing. She openly shared her experience with promoting and distributing her books, while I made notes of everything from postage rates for books to dealing with invitations for book readings.

Blog - Jan Wong

Authors Merilyn Simonds, Olive Senior and Donna Kakonge also encouraged me.

With wise words of support, small notes of caution, and precious bits of common-sense, these authors helped me to make A Good Home a success. Bravo and Thanks to them all. 

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1 Comment

Filed under A Good Home, Arabella, Authors, Books, Famous people, Great books, Inspiration, Thanks

One response to “A Salute to These Kind, Fabulous Authors

  1. Always lovely to meet authors, old and new – I know Louise Penny and Jan Wong from their books and I look forward to ‘meeting’ the others through their books.

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