Brian Brennan – 3 new reprints now available

Brian Brennan has been featured previously on Reading Recommendations five times, and is back now with information on how he’s managing to keep his traditionally published out-of-print books in print.

Don’t Let Your Books Go Out of Print!

By Brian Brennan

That’s the advice I would give to any author who receives a statement from their trade publisher listing their book’s status as “OP.”

I received three such statements from my publisher, Fifth House, in 2014:

One was for Alberta Originals: Stories of Albertans Who Made a Difference, a book of biographical profiles that had sold more than 5,000 copies after it was published in 2001.

The second was for Scoundrels and Scallywags: Characters From Alberta’s Past, which had become the most successful of all my books, with more than 10,000 copies sold after publication in 2002.

The third was for Boondoggles, Bonanzas and Other Alberta Stories, which sold a comparatively modest 3,000 copies after publication in 2003.

I didn’t like the idea of my titles going out of print. I was particularly saddened to see Scoundrels disappear from the catalogues because it had been my favourite. Villains always make for more interesting stories than those who walk the straight and narrow. I decided I would keep all my titles available by self-publishing them as ebooks.

Human Powered Design, an independent Canadian company that specializes in turning manuscripts and print-design files into ebooks, did the EPUB conversions for me. It then sent the titles to Amazon (Kindle), Kobo, Apple (iTunes) and OverDrive, the American company that distributes ebooks to libraries across North America. That put the books back into circulation, at least, but left me feeling it was not enough. As much as I enjoy reading books on my iPad – especially while away on vacation – I still like to hold a print book in my hands and savour the tactile enjoyment of leafing through the paper pages. I believe others feel the same way.

Enter CreateSpace the on-demand publishing company owned by Amazon. I sent CreateSpace the press-ready cover and interior PDFs I had asked Human Powered Design to generate for me after it did the EPUB conversions. And for no charge, CreateSpace uploaded the PDF files onto its platform, making them available as print-on-demand books that could be purchased from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ingram, indiCo and other retailers.

So how does CreateSpace make money if it doesn’t charge anything upfront for publishing books on its platform? It waits until the paperbacks start selling and then collects a percentage. In most instances, this works out to about 60 per cent of list price for CreateSpace, which leaves 40 per cent for the author. This arrangement suits me just fine. Fifth House used to pay me a royalty of 10 per cent for my paperbacks.

The CreateSpace versions of my three books resemble the Fifth House versions because I have the PDFs of the original designs. Without these, I could still have republished the books because CreateSpace provides do-it-yourself authors with free tools, including a cover creator and interior reviewer. For a fee, I could also have availed of the professional services CreateSpace offers for designing book covers and interiors.

All three of my books focus on the colourful personalities and social history of Alberta. If you’d like to learn more about or purchase any of them, either as paperbacks or ebooks, here are the links:

Alberta Originals
Scoundrels and Scallywags
Boondoggles and Bonanzas

My thanks to Susan for allowing me to take up some of her valuable online space to post this.

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Mary Smith – an update on a new book

Mary Smith was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in March 2016. She’s back now to tell us of a non-fiction book, on which she collaborated with photographer Allan Devlin, that’s just been published.

Castle Douglas Through Time
by Mary Smith and Allan Devlin
Published by Amberley Publishing
Genre: Non-fiction, local history, photography

The market town of Castle Douglas, beside Carlingwark Loch in the southern Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway, is relatively new, though the area has been inhabited from prehistoric times and the Romans had a military base close by. In the fourteenth century, Archibald the Grim, the 3rd Earl of Douglas, built Threave Castle nearby.

The town came into being thanks to fertiliser found in the loch and wealth merchant William Douglas, who laid out the present town in 1792. Though his dream of creating a cotton industry failed, Castle Douglas became a flourishing market town. The opening of the rail line to Dumfries in 1859 improved the town’s connections.

Castle Douglas from Dunmuir Hill. The imposing spire of St George’s Free Church dominates the old picture of the town. Houses have been built along the old railway line and a green space, Burghfield Park, has been created.

Though the railway closed in 1965, the A75 trunk road ensured the town’s survival as a major stopping point for travellers. Today, it is a major tourist destination, with many visitors using it as a base for exploring this beautiful part of Scotland.

All these changes are recorded in this unique and fascinating series of new and old photographs, making this book essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Castle Douglas.

                                                                   Douglas Arms Hotel, King Street. The picture shows the many changes in transport over the years. The hotel was owned for 83 years by the Payne family who offered to send a bus to meet all trains. Charabanc outings to the countryside were popular.

 

 

Background to writing the text: Amberley Publishing approached me about four years ago to ask if I was interested in working on a book, Dumfries Through Time. Of course, I said yes. I teamed up with photographer Allan Devlin who is a stunning landscape photographer and together we began to search for the 90 old images needed. After it was published, Amberley asked if we’d be interested in another book and so we began to work on Castle Douglas Through Time. We both search for old images, Allan takes the photos of the places as they today and I do the research, write the introduction and captions for each pair of images. I loved doing the research but writing the captions is extremely frustrating as there is an 80-word limit. I find it almost impossible to tell the history of some of the images in 80 words!

Where to purchase copies:
The paperback edition of Castle Douglas Through Time is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon CA

Mary and Allan at the book’s launch party.
Photo credit: Keith Kirk

Myrna Kostash

Myrna Kostash

What is your latest release and what genre is it? The Seven Oaks Reader. Nonfiction.

Quick description: The Seven Oaks Reader, forworded by Heather Devine, offers a comprehensive retelling of one of Canada’s most controversial historical periods, the Fur Trade Wars, the Selkirk settlement and the explosive Battle of Seven Oaks in 1816. As in the companion volume, The Frog Lake Reader, Kostash incorporates period accounts and journals, histories, memoirs, songs and fictional retellings, from a wide range of sources, to weave a compelling historical narrative.

Brief biography:
Life-long Edmontonian, Myrna Kostash is a fulltime writer, author of the classic All of Baba’s Children, and of the award-winning The Frog Lake Reader and Prodigal Daughter: A Journey to Byzantium. Her latest book is The Seven Oaks Reader (NeWest Press, 2016). Her essays, articles, and creative nonfiction have been widely anthologized. She is a recipient of the WGA’s Golden Pen Award and the Writers’ Trust Matt Cohen award for a Life of Writing. She is a volunteer barista at the Carrot Community Arts Café.

Links to buy Myrna’s book:
NeWest Press
Ebooks: Amazon Kindle ; Apple ; Kobo ; Nook
Distributor: LitDistCo
Overdrive for Libraries

Myrna’s promo links:
Website
Facebook

What are you working on now?
A playscript for the Edmonton Fringe

Myrna’s reading recommendation:
Betsy Warland’s latest book, Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas (Caitlin Press, Vancouver)

Linda Granfield – release of a new book

Linda Granfield has visited Reading Recommendations previously, here and here. She returns now to tell us about a new book on a little-known story from WWI.

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The Vimy Oaks
by Linda Granfield, illustrated by Brian Deines
Published by Scholastic Canada
Genre: History, Ages 7-12

A soldier, a handful of acorns — and a hundred-year legacy of hope, remembrance and renewal.

“I am writing seated at the foot of a large oak,” wrote Leslie Miller in his diary in 1916, while war raged around him. Little could this Canadian soldier have imagined how future generations would come to enjoy the majestic oak trees he grew after his return to Canada.

Standing amidst the devastation of war, Leslie picked up a handful of acorns and mailed them home, where they were nurtured. This small but amazingly hopeful act continues to be felt just as powerfully today, one hundred years after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The living legacy of Leslie Miller’s “Vimy Oaks” inspires hope as the world remembers and honours the soldiers who served in the First World War.

Également disponible en édition française

Where to purchase Linda’s book:
Scholastic Canada
Amazon
Chapters/Indigo

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Dr. Adrian Fraser

1487973_10151936597240369_950821918_o Dr. Adrian Fraser

St. Vincent and the Grenadines historian Dr. Adrian Fraser has published a new book with The University of the West Indies Press that recounts the events leading up to and following the 1935 Riots in St. Vincent.

The book, titled The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage, is currently available in paperback from Amazon.com.

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St Vincent was among the earliest of the British Caribbean colonies to have experienced labour disturbances in the 1930s. While disturbances in the other Caribbean colonies were largely associated with the plantations and with strikes, in St Vincent the riots broke out on the grounds of the court house during a meeting of the Legislative Council on the upper floor. The 1935 Riots in St Vincent: From Riots to Adult Suffrage is the first comprehensive treatment of those disturbances. Fraser’s analysis is to a large extent informed by the use of newspapers and of oral history. In St Vincent, the plantations no longer had total dominance of the colony’s export economy. Instead, peasants, farmers and agricultural labourers were major players in an export economy that had shifted from sugar production to Sea Island cotton and arrowroot, crops that were suited to the lands to which they had access. Of added significance to the events following the riots was the fact that political leaders unearthed by the riots failed to maintain popular support with the advent of adult suffrage in 1951. Interpretations of British West Indian colonial history have to a large extent been informed by the experiences of the larger colonies. An understanding of the St Vincent riots will make a valuable contribution to the literature of the rebellions of the 1930s.

Dr. Fraser is the former Head of the Open Campus, University of the West Indies (St Vincent and the Grenadines). His publications include Chatoyer (Chatawae): First National Hero of St Vincent and the Grenadines; From Shakers to Spiritual Baptists: The Struggle for Survival of the Shakers of St Vincent and the Grenadines; and (in collaboration with Keith Joseph) Caribbean Social Studies: St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Andy Marshall

thinpower-authorandypic Andy Marshall

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Thin Power – Political, biography, Canadian history

Quick description: Thin Power is the unauthorized biography of former Calgary mayor Rod Sykes, featuring the achievements and bitter controversies of his eight-year term ending in 1977. Publicly revealed for the first time are details of Sykes’ unorthodox upbringing in Victoria, B.C., his rise to the mayoralty, and his doomed attempt in provincial politics as leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party in the early 1980s. It offers an entertaining look into one of Alberta’s most controversial public figures.

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Brief biography:
Andy Marshall served as a staffer for part of Rod Sykes’ term as mayor of Calgary, and later for his stint as leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party. As well as spending two decades as a reporter and editor with Alberta dailies, Marshall founded and operated his own weekly newspapers. Born in England, he holds a degree in German from the University of Durham. After immigrating to Canada in 1965, he’s spent most of his life in Alberta.

Links to buy Andy’s book:
Friesen Press
Direct from author – Email: camarshall3(at)shaw.ca

Andy’s promo links:
Facebook
camarshall3(at)shaw.ca

What are you working on now?
Personal memoir. Rough working title, The Path to Non-Belief

Andy’s reading recommendation:
I enjoyed and referred to for my Sykes book, Calgary author Brian Brennan’s The Good Steward (Bowness Press, 2008) and Scoundrels and Scallywags (Fifth House 2002). Impressed by The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King (Anchor Canada 2013) and All Our Sisters by Calgary author Susan Scott (Broadview Press 2007). More broadly, I’ve been devouring work of British author Julian Barnes in past year.

Brian Brennan has been featured a number of times on Reading Recommendations.

Stephen Bown

When I was a publishers’ sales rep, I represented Douglas & McIntyre, a company that at the time published several books written by Stephen Bown. Dennis and our neighbour Rodger especially enjoyed reading sample copies I brought with me to Bequia. I was pleased to discover Stephen is still writing and publishing historical biographies and non-fiction and invited him here to tell you about his latest!

[Craig Douce photo]

[Craig Douce photo]

Stephen Bown

What is your latest release and what genre is it? White Eskimo: Knud Rasmussen’s Fearless Journey into the Heart of the Arctic – Historical biography

Quick description: White Eskimo is the first full-scale biography of the visionary Danish explorer and ethnographer who unveiled the culture, the language and the life of the Arctic – for lovers of adventure, remote cultures and timeless legend.

“This compelling book is a marvelous tribute to an extraordinary explorer and the lands and peoples that made him great.” Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest.

White Eskimo-CDN

Brief biography:
I am a critically acclaimed author of eight literary non-fiction books on the history of science, exploration and ideas. I take a biographical and narrative approach to my writing, using the techniques of fiction writing – strong storytelling, creative language, emphasizing people, their decisions, actions and motivations – to tell factually and historically accurate stories. I believe that people and their behaviour never change, only the context is different. My lifelong interest in history is fueled by the lessons to be learned from studying the successes and failures of history’s greatest thinkers, leaders and innovators, those who challenged conventional thinking and entrenched power structures to change their world. My previous book was The Last Viking: The Life of Roald Amundsen.

I live in Canmore in the Canadian Rockies with my wife and two kids, and enjoy hiking, skiing and mountain biking when not writing.

Links to buy Stephen’s book:
Douglas & McIntyre – Canada
Da Capo Press – US
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Chapter/Indigo

Stephen’s promo links:
Website
Facebook
Goodreads
Douglas & McIntyre Q&A with Stephen Bown
Interview with Daybreak Alberta, CBC Radio

What are you working on now?
Island of the Blue Foxes: Disaster and Triumph on the World’s Greatest Scientific Expedition, about the Bering expedition across the Pacific to Alaska in the 1740s, and the scurvy, shipwreck, starvation and eventual survival or some of the members – an incredible true story.

Stephen’s reading recommendation:
Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive, by Mark L. Winston. I was on the jury for the Governor General’s Award in 2015 and this is the book we chose as the best in the non-fiction category. It is a beautifully written exploration of honey bees, nature, the environment and our place in the world by a leading naturalist and researcher.

Maria N. Rachwal

Maria_0004 crop Maria N. Rachwal

What is your latest release and what genre is it? From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, published by Second Story Press. It belongs to the Non-Fiction genre.

Quick description: From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra, documents the amazing true story of the first all-women’s orchestra in Canadian history. In the 1940s, it was unheard of for women to be members of a professional orchestra, let alone play “masculine” instruments like the bass or trombone. But Ethel Stark, a talented violinist, and Madge Bowen, a wealthy socialite, broke convention by pulling together a rag-tag group of women from all walks of life—housewives, secretaries, and grandmothers—to create The Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra (MWSO). For years they lugged their old instruments from their living rooms to store basements to hold rehearsals. Cynics sneered and family members frowned. Yet despite these formidable challenges, the MSWO became the first orchestra to represent Canada in New York City’s Carnegie Hall in 1947 to glowing reviews. One of its members also became the first Canadian black woman to play in a symphony in Carnegie Hall. While the MWSO has paved the way for contemporary female musicians, the stories of these women are largely missing from historical records. From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall illuminates these revolutionary stories, including the life of the incredible Ethel Stark, the co-founder and conductor of the MWSO. Their work opened doors of equal opportunity for marginalized groups and played an important role in breaking gender stereotypes in society at large.

From Kitchen to Carnegie Hall

Brief biography:
Maria Noriega Rachwal is a music teacher and musicologist living in Toronto, Ontario. She has given many lectures on women in music throughout the country and written articles on the subject for professional organizations. She is also an accomplished flute player who has performed with The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra, and various chamber groups in Alberta. Her work on the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra was featured on the CBC Radio documentary, “It Wasn’t Teatime: Ethel Stark and the Montreal Women’s Symphony Orchestra.”

Links to buy Maria’s book:
Second Story Press
Amazon

Maria’s promo links:
Official webpage
Book Trailer
Facebook
Twitter

What are you working on now?
I am busy editing the memoirs of violinist and conductor, Ethel Stark.

Maria’s reading recommendation:
I recently enjoyed reading Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

David Poulsen Recommends Ted Barris

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Fire Canoe: Prairie Steamboat Days Revisited
by Ted Barris

Genre: Canadian History

Barris chronicles the history of the vessels that traversed the waters of the western Canadian plains by bringing to life the voices of those on board and on shore whose lives revolved around those prairie steamboats.

ted_barrisWhy I recommend this book: Painstakingly researched and compellingly written by one of Canada’s most important historians.

David Poulsen’s review of Fire Canoe:
Fire Canoe: Prairie Steamboat Days
Review by David A. Poulsen

Fire Canoe—Another Barris Literary Treasure

Ted Barris’s recently released Fire Canoe (Dundurn, Toronto) confirms once again the writer’s position as one of Canada’s pre-eminent purveyors of our nation’s history. In the tradition of Pierre Burton (and others), Barris once again combines exhaustive research, compelling story-telling with his clear love of this country’s stories to create a thoroughly readable look at the largely forgotten story of the steamboats of the Canadian prairie waterways.

Fire Canoe—the name came from the First Nations people, some of whom were terrified at the noise and sight of the wondrous vessels while others were employed to pilot them through often tricky waters. The ships themselves were the very definition of multi-taskers and their stories leap off the pages of Barris’s book. The vessels played important roles in war (The Riel Rebellion), in transporting the goods needed for a growing west , in dredging for gold at river’s bottom and in providing fun, not only for those who toiled on the ships but those on shore as well. But perhaps, most of all, the steamboats were home to a cast of characters–rascals, builders, villains and heroes and Barris, as he does so well, has them leaping off the pages and into our hearts.

One of those characters, Jimmy Soles (his father had rafted his family over six hundred miles from Medicine Hat to Prince Albert) eventually became part of the crew of the Hudson Bay Company’s stern-wheeler, the Saskatchewan.
“We danced at every place we stopped downriver—The Pas, Cumberland, Chemahawin, Cedar Lake—if we were going to be there overnight, we had
a dance. . . . The Indians called them fiddle dances,” mused Soles, who called
at all the dances “especially if I knew I didn’t have to get up ’til about noon
the next day. . . . Oh those square-dances. . . . The first trip I made with the Saskatchewan, we had a dance at Cumberland and there was an Indian fellow
playin’ the fiddle. He had a fiddle alright, and a willow bent with horse hair on it.
And he only could play the one tune, ‘Little Brown Jug.’ We danced to that all night.”

Ted Barris has become one of the most important and gifted chroniclers of Canada’s often fascinating and sadly, just-as-often forgotten past. Barris is doing all he can to remedy that unfortunate reality, and Fire Canoe is another feather in his well-decorated cap.

Links to purchase Ted’s book:
Dundurn Press

DavidPoulsen Guest reviewer’s latest title or project: Serpents Rising, Dundurn, October, 2014

David A. Poulsen has been previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Feb. 2014 and Oct. 2014.

Brian Brennan – an update

Brian Brennan has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations in Nov. 2013, and with two updates in Dec. 2014 and on my other blog in Feb. 2015.

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Rogues and Rebels: Unforgettable Characters from Canada’s West
by Brian Brennan
Genre: Non-fiction, biography, history

Published by The University of Regina Press

Brian Brennan will be launching the republication of Rogues and Rebels in Calgary at Owl’s Nest Bookstore on Thurs. Oct. 8, 7-8:30 p.m.!

Biographical profiles of 32 larger-than-life Western Canadians – some from recent history, some from the distant past – who dared to be different. These were mavericks, iconoclasts, risk-takers and adventurers who threw away the rulebook, thumbed their noses at convention, and let their detractors howl.

It’s a sequel to Scoundrels and Scallywags, a book I published in 2002 that became a Canadian best-seller. In Canada, a book is commonly acknowledged to be a best-seller if it sells 5,000 copies. Scoundrels has sold more than 12,000 and is hailed by my wine-drinking buddies as one of the most successful books of regional history published in Canada during the first decade of the 21st century.

The characters in Rogues and Rebels include political leaders such as Ralph Klein and Tommy Douglas, social justice advocates such as Nellie McClung and Ruth Gorman, crusading journalists such as Heather Robertson and Gladys Arnold, entertainers such as Billy Cowsill and Shay Duffin, and the woman who co-invented the Bloody Caesar, which is now officially designated Canada’s national cocktail.

Updated brief biography:
I’ve been writing professionally for most of my adult life. I spent more than 30 years as a staff writer with daily newspapers in British Columbia and Alberta, and have been freelancing for the past 15. I have published 11 books of non-fiction and seen my byline in such publications as The New York Times, the Irish Times, The Globe and Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star.

Links to buy Brian’s new book:
University of Regina Press
Amazon
Chapters-Indigo

Brian’s promo links for the new book:
Rogues and Rebels Trailer
CBC Radio’s Daybreak Alberta
Brian’s Website

What Brian is working on now:
A book of celebrity profiles based on interviews I did during the 1970s and 1980s with such stars of stage, screen, literature and music as Tennessee Williams, Sophia Loren, Chuck Berry and Richard Harris.

Brian’s current reading recommendation:
Fred Stenson’s Who by Fire, the latest novel to deal with how Alberta’s oil and gas industry affects the people of the province. Great storytelling from an accomplished scribe who knows the industry and knows his fellow Albertans. (Fred Stenson has also been featured on Reading Recommendations.)