A Good Home, Authors, Books

When an Author Has a New Book

In Canada, autumn is when a lot of new books are released.

But completing a book, and publishing it, can take an author years. It’s a huge achievement.

Blog Photo - Lee Gowan Book cover

Blog Photo - Yvonne Blackwood book cover

So you can imagine that when a writer releases a new book, messages of support and encouragement matter – a lot.

“Congrats! How may I find out more about it?”

“Wow! I’m happy for you!”

“Where can I buy it?”

“What can I do to help you spread the word?”

“I’ll recommend it to my local library.”

Blog Photo - Laurie's book covers

It’s the way to an author’s heart.

Writing is a lonely act. And when it’s done, you hope the book is great, but you secretly fear others will think it’s awful.  So when others deem my book worthy of buying?  Wow.  I’m honoured.

Book Cover - An Honest House

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By the way:  If you’ve bought and read someone’s book (and especially if you liked it), a short review on Amazon — or a blog, or social media — helps. 

Blog Photo - Robbie Cheadle new book

Blog Photo - Bette Stevens Book Cover

Explain why you like the book and why you are recommending it to others.  And if there’s something you didn’t like, say so as well. That’s really all you have to do!

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There are some responses that will disappoint an author with a brand-new book:

1: “You know, I’ve always wanted to write a book on that same topic. Maybe I still should.”

2: Start talking about the book you’ve already written that’s so similar, then ask: “Can you help me get my book published?” 

3: “I wrote a book just like that and I didn’t sell many copies. But I wish you luck.”

It’s not that you shouldn’t say any of the above. (Most authors are happy to help others.) But not as a first response. Take the time to acknowledge their achievement first.

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Please join me in congratulating three more authors who have written new books in recent months:

Jill Weatherholt, author of Second Chance Romance, has published “A Father for Bella”. Jill describes her books as “stories of love, faith and happy endings”.

Blog Photo - Jill Weatherholt Second Chance Romance - CoverBlog Photo - Jill Weatherholt A-Father-For-Bella - Cover

Annika Perry has published The Storyteller Speaks, a compelling mix of short stories, poetry and flash fiction. Annika says the one common thread that binds them all is“the belief that there is no such thing as an ordinary life; they’re all extraordinary.

Blog Photo - Annika Perry The Storyteller Speaks - Cover

And, coming soon from Toronto author Nadia Hohn, is Harriet Tubman: Freedom Fighter.  Written for young readers, this illustrated book follows the much-praised Malaika stories.

Blog Photo - Nadia Hohn Harriet Tubman book cover

Congrats, authors! I’m happy for you!

Cynthia.

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A Good Home, Aging, Authors, Book lovers, Books, Children's Books, elderly Parents, Parents, Reading, Relationships

Please Read to Me

Lee Gowan, author of Confession and other novels,  lives in Toronto, while his mother lives in western Canada. Time spent with her is very precious to Lee.

One day several months ago, Lee and I were part of a small group of writers invited to read excerpts from our books and chat with an audience in a large Toronto bookstore.

Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Out of the blue, Lee said something that moved me nearly to tears. (That’s Lee, extreme right, and that’s me, third from left, trying to compose my face — and failing.)

Lee told the audience that he’d read A Good Home to his mother.  She’d loved it, he said.   Day after day, he read the book to her.  They laughed together at some of the comical parts.  And at certain points, Lee said, he and his mother were both so choked up with emotion that he had to stop reading for a bit.

As Lee spoke, the image formed in my mind: of an adult child reading to a parent.

agoodhome_cynthiareyesWhy did I find that a remarkable thing?  Well – for one thing –  my relationship with my own mother is one of the major themes in A Good Home. But she died before the book was completed.  As Lee spoke, I realized that I’d never get the chance to read the book to my own beloved mother – who’d always encouraged my writing.

I also knew that Lee’ s mother’s health was already declining — and I felt happy that he had been able to read my book to his mother while she could still enjoy it.

**

We know that children love to be read to.  We read books to our children when they are young.  They clamour for more, even when their eyes are full of sleep.

via childcarealgoma.ca
via childcarealgoma.ca

But sometimes we forget that many adults – especially elderly people – like to be read to as well.

Letters and cards from readers of A Good Home have reminded me of this fact.  It turns out that a good many people have read my book – or parts of it — to a parent, other relative or friend.

Reading is a cherished past-time for many people.  Mother’s Day in Canada, the US and many other parts of the world is just around the corner and Father’s Day follows in June.  If your Mom or Dad (or favorite older relative or friend) is still alive, you might consider buying them a book.

Most people prefer to read a book by themselves — and it’s great if they are still able to do so.   Others would like to, but can no longer do so.  Whatever the situation,  consider offering to read a chapter of a favorite book to a relative or friend. Whether or not they need the help, the sound of a beloved voice reading to them might just be a balm to a person’s soul.

 **

 This post is dedicated to everyone who loves reading, or being read to.  And to those who read to others.

 

 

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

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.