J.P. McLean was first featured on Reading Recommendations in January, 2014 after she had published the third book in The Gift Legacy trilogy. Since she has now just published the fourth book, making this a full-blown series, I decided it was time to invite J.P. back to update us on what she’s been doing in the past year-and-a-half. Besides, this is a woman who writes in a space with a view that rivals my own on Bequia! She must be an inspired writer!
I’ve been hunched over a quill in a dusty corner of my hovel, scratching away for untold hours in the dark, deprived of all sustenance, devoid of human touch …
Ah! Just kidding – I LOVE this writing gig and I’m happy to report that The Gift Legacy is growing. Penance, the fourth book in the series is now out, and I’m grateful, Susan, for this opportunity to shout it to the heavens, or through Reading Recommendations, which is kind of the same thing.
Though the writing will always be my favourite part of this process, the research for these books is never dull. Research for Penance included a visit to Vancouver General Hospital to investigate the morgue; a private tour of UBC’s Cecil Green Park House, which was built in 1912; a lesson at Cliffhanger’s Indoor Climbing facility; and learning more than I cared to know about dangerous drugs like MDMA. To top it off, I was invited on an exhilarating sailing trip around False Creek and English Bay. In fact, Penance’s cover shot is from a photo I took that day as we sailed under the Granville Street Bridge. Viona Halim is the talented graphic designer who produced all the covers in the series.
Outside of writing and research, I’ve taken on the chairperson role for our local writers’ group. We’re quite fortunate that our small island is home to The Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival. Each year, the festival provides an opportunity for local writers to share their work in front of an appreciative audience. If you’ve ever performed in public, you’ll know how panic-inducing that experience can be. This writers group was originally formed to provide an opportunity for writers to practice reading their work but it’s grown beyond those roots and is now both a safe place for writers to perform, and also to get feedback on the work they share. Being a part of that growth has been rewarding. (Fred Stenson is one of the guest authors at this year’s Festival! Fred was previously featured on Reading Recommendations.)
RRR: Is there one marketing tip or trick you discovered while promoting your own books that worked particularly well and that you’d like to share with other authors?
J.P.: I have two. The first falls into the “do as I say, not as I do” category. If a fellow author is kind enough to post a review of your book, and you use that review in your promo material, don’t forget to reference their book. Not only does it add some weight to the review, but it gives them a shout-out and an opportunity for some cross promotion. I fell asleep at the wheel recently and overlooked this easy marketing tip, but I plan to rectify it at the next opportunity.
The second is just a small tip, but if you’re using Create Space to publish a print copy of your book on Amazon, you have to select Expanded Distribution to get your books on Canada’s Amazon site, Amazon.ca.
RRR: Please recommend three other authors whose work you have “discovered” or rediscovered this past year.
J.P.: I’ve come across some fabulous writers since my last posting here on Reading Recommendations—some of them I discovered through this very blog.
Seumas Gallagher, for example, first caught my attention right here! So when a friend recommended him, I knew I had to buy his book. I was impressed enough to write a review. If you like fast-paced thrillers with an international flare, you’ll enjoy Seumas Gallagher’s Jack Calder series (The Violin Man’s Legacy, Vengeance Wears Black, and Savage Payback)
If Canadiana is more your thing, check out Elinor Florence’s A Bird’s Eye View. Her depiction of a Prairie girl being pulled into WWII is as fascinating as it is heart-wrenching.
And if you like a little comedy with your thriller, you’ll get a kick out of Tim Baker‘s Living the Dream. You’ll be amazed at how wonderfully uncomplicated your own life will seem in comparison to Kurt, the novel’s protagonist. Tim Baker is another author I first learned about through Reading Recommendations. I haven’t read his more recent work, but it’s on my Kindle!
I could go on and on. Your own book (Susan M. Toy), for example, Island in the Clouds, Diana Stevan’s A Cry From the Deep, Therin Knite’s Echoes (on Reading Recommendations), Bill Engleson’s Like a Child To Home (on Reading Recommendations). The list is huge, and growing, thanks to you!
And thanks once again, Susan, for having me on your blog, and for all you do for indie authors. Cheers!
Thanks, yourself, J.P. for being such a congenial guest on Reading Recommendations and for supporting the site and your fellow authors – not to mention my own writing! – loyally since we first “met” online. Just look at all those other RR authors you’re reading and recommending! I thank you on their behalf!
I recently received all of J.P.’s books, signed by the author, and began reading at the beginning, of course. Wow! is all I can say at this time! Great writing, compelling story and characters, and I can see this will be one terrific series! Thank you so much for writing, J.P.. This view of yours is definitely working well in inspiring you! smt