Sharon Butala – update on a new book

Sharon Butala was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in Oct. 2015. She’s back now to tell us about a new non-fiction book just being released.

Where I Live Now: A Journey through Love and Loss to Healing and Hope
by Sharon Butala
Published by Simon & Schuster Canada
Genre: Memoir

An intimate and uplifting book about finding renewal and hope through grief and loss.

“It was a terrible life; it was an enchanted life; it was a blessed life. And, of course, one day it ended.” — Sharon Butala

In the tradition of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Diana Athill’s Somewhere Towards the End, and Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal comes a revelatory new book from one of our beloved writers.

When Sharon Butala’s husband, Peter, died unexpectedly, she found herself with no place to call home. Torn by grief and loss, she fled the ranchlands of southwest Saskatchewan and moved to the city, leaving almost everything behind. A lifetime of possessions was reduced to a few boxes of books, clothes, and keepsakes. But a lifetime of experience went with her, and a limitless well of memory—of personal failures, of a marriage that everybody said would not last but did, of the unbreakable bonds of family.

Reinventing herself in an urban landscape was painful, and facing her new life as a widow tested her very being. Yet out of this hard-won new existence comes an astonishingly frank, compassionate and moving memoir that offers not only solace and hope but inspiration to those who endure profound loss.

Often called one of this country’s true visionaries, Sharon Butala shares her insights into the grieving process and reveals the small triumphs and funny moments that kept her going. Where I Live Now is profound in its understanding of the many homes women must build for themselves in a lifetime.

An Evening with Sharon Butala
Tuesday Apr 11 2017 7:00 pm, Winnipeg, Grant Park in the Atrium
McNally Robinson Booksellers

Where to purchase Sharon’s book:
Simon & Schuster Canada
Amazon Canada
Chapters Indigo
Independent bookstores across Canada
Amazon UK

News from Sharon:
I have been invited to be a keynote speaker at a small conference in Boise, Idaho whose theme is “Wallace Stegner and the Consciousness of Place.” It is hosted by the Idaho Humanities Council, will be held at the Boise State University July 16-21, and is for K-12 teachers. I’m invited because of my connection to Stegner and his family home in Eastend, Saskatchewan, a place about which he wrote Wolf Willow: A History, A Story, and a Memory of the Last Plains Frontier. As I too, have written about that world but from a purely Canadian perspective, we share a lot, but we also diverge because he went back to the United States to live out his long life, and because he was a man, and didn’t see the Western world quite as I do. I am truly looking forward to this adventure, and not least because years ago on a writing trip, I spent a night there and did a reading and thought I’d never seen a place in the US I thought prettier or more green or more peaceful. I have always wanted to see it again. And besides, once you begin to age you start to see that the small adventures are often much richer than the big ones, that tends to just knock you for a loop.

Ron Smith

I was a sales rep for Ron Smith’s publishing company back in the day, and was shocked to learn recently that Ron had suffered from a massive stroke a few years ago. The good news is that I discovered this news when reading an announcement for this book Ron wrote about the experience and his recovery. So I’m now very pleased to be able to bring attention to readers around the world about this very important book by Ron Smith.

rons-photo Ron Smith

What is your latest release and what genre is it? The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke Non-fiction: Memoir

Quick description: “What is a stroke?” This is the question that plagues Ron Smith as he emerges from the carpet bombing of his brain. The Defiant Mind: Living Inside a Stroke is a first-person account of a massive ischemic stroke to the brain stem. Smith takes the reader inside the experience and shows how recuperation happens ― the challenges of communication, the barriers to treatment, the frustrations of being misunderstood and written-off, the role of memory in recovering identity, the power of continuing therapy, and the passionate will to live.

Full of arresting anecdote, enlivened by a vivid and vigorous style, the book tells of successes and failures and draws on the newest research in stroke treatment.

This is a necessary book for stroke survivors still dealing with the effects of their trauma and for care-givers, vital to the process of recuperation, who feel hampered and harried by concern and confusion. The book is a caring companion, offering support to people navigating the fear and bewilderment that accompanies a stroke. For medical professionals, the book offers insights into the workings of the brain, the power of the brain to heal, critiques of conventional limits imposed on therapy, and suggestions for ways to improve care.

More than an evocative memoir, more than a breathtaking journey out of stroke and back to a literary life, The Defiant Mind is a beautifully written love story; it is a glimpse inside the tender and fulfilling relationship between the author and his wife. Smith makes clear that defiance (with unconditional support) is the first step to making hope a reality.


Brief biography:
Ron Smith the author and editor of several books. For close to forty years he taught at universities in Canada, Italy, the States and the UK. In 2002 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of British Columbia and in 2005 he was the inaugural Fulbright Chair in Creative Writing at Arizona State University. In 2011 he was awarded the Gray Campbell Award for distinguished service to the BC publishing industry where he has played an essential role in the growth of literary, historical and public policy publishing. He now lives with his wife, Patricia Jean Smith, also a writer, in Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island.

Links to buy Ron’s book:
At most bookstores, on Amazon, or directly through the publisher, Ronsdale Press

Ron’s promo links:
The Defiant Mind Journal
Ronsdale Press
The World Stroke Organization
CBC News article: ‘They’re little steps, but they all add up’: Stroke survivor sends a message of hope in new book
CBC Radio North by Northwest interview
CBC Radio On the Island interview
Vancouver Sun review (appearing also online at Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, and other Postmedia publications)
BC BookWorld review

What are you working on now?
A new children’s book and a novel

Ron’s reading recommendation:
Anything and everything by John Berger. I particularly like A Fortunate Man and here is where we meet.

Glenn Dixon

author-head-shot4Glenn Dixon

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Juliet’s Answer is a memoir. Published by Simon & Schuster in Canada and the United States, in May it will be released in Australia and New Zealand, Spain (Spanish translation) and China (where the story of Romeo and Juliet is quite famous).

Quick description: I taught Shakespeare to high school students for more than twenty years but when my heart was unexpectedly broken, I did something unusual. I went to Verona, Italy, to help answer the famous letters to Juliet. I was the only male among the secretaries of Juliet (a group of Italian women who have been answering the letters for decades). And, of course, I discovered a few things there that completely changed my life.

Verona old town and ponte pietra

Brief biography:
An author, musician and documentary film maker, Glenn Dixon has travelled through more than 75 countries and written for National Geographic, the New York Post, The Walrus, The Globe and Mail, and Psychology Today. He holds an M.A. in socio-linguistics and his second book, Tripping the World Fantastic, was shortlisted for the W.O. Mitchell Award. A high-school English teacher for 20 years, he left that to become a full time writer.

And reviews for Glenn’s book have already begun rolling in! Here’s a review that was just published in Canada’s The National Post. Also, Anne Logan has posted a review to her blog, I’ve read this.

Links to buy Glenn’s book:
Or your local independent book store

Glenn’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I’ve only just begun the next book, which will be a novel. My thinking is that I’ll never have a true life story to rival Juliet’s Answer again. That was one in a million.

Glenn’s reading recommendation:
My book has been described as a male version of Eat, Pray, Love. The thing is, I didn’t like that book very much. On the other hand, I recently read The Signature of All Things by the same author – Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a novel and is absolutely brilliant. That one should have been the big best seller. It reminds me a little of Jane Eyre. It has that kind of classic quality.

Timothy L. Phillips

IMG_0643_2 Timothy L. Phillips

What is your latest release and what genre is it? My Camino Walk – A Way to Healing is a travel memoir

Quick description: Timothy Phillips celebrated his sixtieth birthday by hiking Spain’s Camino de Santiago. The almost eight hundred kilometer trek became a month-long test of physical stamina, with weather extremes, a range of fellow pilgrims, and hours of introspection that caused him to question his childhood, his life, and many long-held ideas and beliefs. These challenges shook loose the very foundations of his being. Timothy brings a photographer’s eye to detailed descriptions of the trek that appeal to all the senses and invites the reader to join him on his healing journey.


Brief biography:
I was born in London, England. After schooling I embarked on a career in the hospitality industry working in luxury hotels and restaurants in London and Paris. Further opportunities took me to Toronto, Vancouver and Stratford, Ontario. In 1992, (the big midlife crisis hit at age 42) and I changed career, went back to school to study the healing arts and became a shiatsu and registered massage therapist. That healing has become my healing. I love and am enriched by the experience of travel to all parts of the world, sampling their food and culture along with human interaction.

Links to buy Timothy’s book:

Timothy’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I am drawn to examine other healing journeys as part of my ongoing Camino. Travel plans this year are taking me to the UK, to Japan, to the southern USA and to Mexico and these experiences will form the basis of my next writings.

Timothy’s reading recommendation:
Therapy by David Lodge (Penguin 1995) and I am enjoying the quirkiness of the character telling the story. He reminds me of an English version of Woody Allen – equally as neurotic but with an incredible sense of human absurdity.

Alison Ripley Cubitt

ARC Profile Pic 2015Alison Ripley Cubitt

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Castles in the Air: A Family Memoir of Love and Loss – memoir, non-fiction

Quick description: A daughter is forced to confront the uncomfortable truths about her mother’s seemingly ordinary life. By trying to make sense of the past, will she feel able to move on with her future? Honest yet unsentimental and told with abundant love and compassion, Castles in the Air is a profoundly moving portrait of a woman’s life, hopes and dreams, in an era when women couldn’t have it all.


Brief biography:
I’m an author, memoirist, novelist and screenwriter who co-writes thrillers (with Sean Cubitt) as Lambert Nagle. I spent fifteen years in the film and TV industry, working for companies such as the BBC and Walt Disney. But I’d always wanted to be a writer.

Links to buy Alison’s book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Alison’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a second thriller, Nighthawks, set in Italy and is about the trade in looted antiquities.

Alison’s reading recommendation:
On our recent annual holiday, we went to Costa Rica and I took with me Piers Alexander’s The Bitter Trade, although set in London, is about a coffee racketeer. It’s a rattling good yarn, is beautifully written, and the author has a wry wit.

R. Matthias

R_Matthias R.Matthias

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Trials Elsewhere: Stories of life and Development in West Africa – Travel memoir

Quick description: In Trials Elsewhere, R. Matthias vividly describes his experiences as a 21st century traveler. Moving from Canada to Washington D.C. to take on the inner city, Matthias then finds himself invited to apply his skills and idealism in The Republic of the Gambia. Working first for a human rights NGO and then for a Gambian-owned Internet service provider, he begins to question his conceptions of how the world works — is the Western way of doing things viable in other parts of the world? Is the Western way of work even a good idea? Is there any real value in idealism as Westerners understand it? As he ponders these questions Matthias is cursed at a wedding, survives a coup d’état, avoids the state’s secret police, wanders for a year stateless without a passport or way home, and is sentenced by a tribal court. Matthias’s experience in West Africa increasingly becomes an unpredictable adventure.


R. Matthias is currently holding a Goodreads Giveaway for 10 copies of his print book, open to members from the US and Canada to enter until Jan. 31.

Brief biography:
Robin started his library career working at the Washington DC Public Library as Head of Intranet Development. Following that, he lived many years overseas, primarily in West Africa, building IT infrastructure in The Republic of the Gambia, Sierra Leon, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry. He also worked in Ethiopia and Uganda on a telehealth project on behalf of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada.

Links to buy R.Matthias’s book:
Amazon US
Amazon Canada

R.Matthias’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on a collection of short stories primarily concerning my life while I worked in Washington DC.

R.Matthias’s reading recommendation:
I’d strongly recommend Wallace Stegner’s Collected Stories. Each one is a wonderful insight into some aspect of the relationships young people are a part of.

Caroline Woodward

I have known of Caroline Woodward’s writing since the early 90s when I was a bookseller in Calgary. She published Disturbing the Peace and Alaska Highway Two-Step with Polestar Press of Winlaw, BC. Our careers have managed to intersect a couple of other times, as Caroline opened a bookstore in the West Kootenays of BC – I had already operated a mail order bookstore in the East Kootenays – and then as publishers’ sales reps for the same agency, with Caroline travelling about schlepping books on Vancouver Island and the northwest coast of BC, and me in Alberta. Polestar was always one of the publishers we both represented. And we are also now writing and publishing books! I was so pleased to see that Caroline had published Light Years, and it found a home with one of the other publishers we had both represented. Here she is to tell you more about this new book.

a2014-11-15 17-24-43 - 0078Caroline Woodward

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper (Harbour: fall 2015) – Memoir

Quick description: The very true story of a writer who always chose adventure over security, love over logic, and who (naturally) quit her best job ever to go off with her equally peripatetic husband to live at a lighthouse and write all the stories she always wanted to write, including this one.


Brief biography:
Caroline Woodward grew up on a B.C. Peace River homestead and began her writing career as a weekly columnist for two years at the Alaska Highway News while still in high school. While toiling at many white, blue and pink collar jobs ever since then, she wrote eight books for adults and children (so far). She now lives, works as a relief lightkeeper, and writes like a spring unsprung from her home-base at the Lennard Island Lightstation near Tofino, B.C.

Links to buy Caroline’s book:
Harbour Publishing
Bolen Books
Mosaic Books
Mulberrybush Book Store
Coho Books
Munro’s Books
Laughing Oyster Books
Volume One Bookstore
McNally Robinson
Bookmark Bookstore

Caroline’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
I have two nautical picture book mss. for little ones on the go at the moment, with photographs by Jeff George, who also contributed most of the beautiful photos for Light Years (and is also a writer and my husband, a trifecta of talents!) I have about three other books in various stages of readiness so when I get stuck with one genre or project, I move on to another. It’s amazing how much manuscripts improve when left alone for a few months or even years!

Caroline’s reading recommendation:
I was lucky enough to get an advance reading copy of The News of the World by Paulette Jiles (HarperCollins: 2016). Unforgettable characters, brilliant language. (Paulette Jiles was also published early-on by Polestar Press!)

Alison Wearing

AWearingheadshot Alison Wearing

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up With a Gay Dad is a memoir

Quick description: A passionate memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love. Balancing intimacy, history and downright hilarity, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is a captivating tale of family life: deliciously imperfect, riotously challenging, and full of life’s great lessons in love.

Confessions FINAL cover

Brief biography:
Alison Wearing is an award-winning writer and performer. Her first book was the internationally acclaimed travel memoir Honeymoon in Purdah – an Iranian journey. Her most recent work, Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter, is both a bestselling memoir and a multi award-winning one-woman play. Alison performs, speaks and teaches across North America. She is based in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

Links to buy Alison’s book:
McNally Robinson
Amazon Canada
The Village Bookshop, Bayfield, Ontario, Canada
Fanfare Books, Stratford, Ontario, Canada

Alison’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
Oh, nothing… (Alison is much too modest. She’s been starring in a one-woman performance of her memoir, to great acclaim! Upcoming performances)

Alison’s reading recommendation:
The Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant

(NB: I previously read both of Alison’s books and enjoyed her writing immensely. I highly recommend them. smt)

Ian Lowell


What is your latest release and what genre is it? Son of Sam Was My Catcher and Other Bronx Tales – historical memoir of the 1960s

Quick description: A card-carrying member of the free-spirited Greenwich Village counterculture, Lowell’s photographic memory and attention to detail makes for a fascinatingly fresh perspective on the major events of the 1960s, from JFK to Motown to Jimi. Son of Sam Was My Catcher and Other Bronx Tales is alive with the rapid-beating pulse of that decade. A rich kaleidoscope of little-known facts, outrageous opinion and dubious hearsay, this must-read memoir is entertaining, enlightening and essential reading for any history or music buff.


Brief biography:
Ian Lowell was born in the Bronx in 1952. As a five-year-old, he began to develop a deep and enduring love of music and his passion for it provides an abundance of material for him to write about in deeply reverential fashion. He grew up in a low income Bronx housing project and frequently incorporates this experience and upbringing into his writing. He has lived in Colorado for many years.

Links to buy Ian’s book:
Paperback edition will be available soon.

Ian’s promo links:

To those of us who grew up during the sixties, no matter where in the world we lived, the music of the decade was extremely important. While Ian was writing and preparing this book, he compiled a number of playlists covering the major songs released and performed during each year of that pivotal decade, from 1961 to 1970. These lists are available on Ian Lowell’s YouTube channel and they provide the perfect background while reading this book. Thanks, Ian!

What are you working on now?
A novel based on two lawyers, one of whom is a D.A., the mob and a roving murderer combined with some courtroom drama and a deep story of love and devotion.

Ian’s reading recommendation:
Todd Thiede’s Lies to Die For is a brilliantly written tale of mystery and a serial killer

Kevin Cooper

HeadshotKevin Cooper

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Miedo 2: A Reckoning With Fear – it’s a memoir that falls into the paranormal drama genres

Quick description: In this chilling sequel to Miedo: Living Beyond Childhood Fear, Miedo comes into young adulthood and is confronted with new challenges and more demons while he searches for answers to his past through Spiritualism. But, rather than finding answers, he is left with more questions as a plethora of paranormal experiences and supernatural phenomena occur in his life once again. He is eventually led down the path to Christendom, but will he be able to face his fears and find equilibrium in his life?


Brief biography:
Kevin was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, England in 1963

He moved to the USA in 1985 when he was 21 years old. He graduated with a BA in Psychology from Asbury College in Kentucky with recognition on the Dean’s List. He continued his studies at the Grand Canyon University in Arizona, where he obtained a Research Fellowship and graduated with a M.Ed.

While in America, Kevin had been a Tutor, a Substitute Teacher, a Manager for The Hertz Corporation, who acknowledged him with awards of recognition for his service and dedication to the company, and a College Lecturer of General Studies.

He now resides in England and is an established Author of several works. He founded Kev’s Author Interviews, has an Author of the Month feature and does book reviews to help promote fellow authors worldwide through his website and across the social media networks.

Links to buy Kevin’s book:
Kindle US
Paperback US
Kindle UK
Paperback UK

Kevin’s promo links:
My main blog previously known as Kev’s Blog is now called, Great Indie Authors.
I showcase my works here.
And for those who are interested, I have a music blog for the songs I write where I promote my lyrics, Youtube vids, and music clips.
Goodreads Author Page
I tweet a lot at Twitter.
I am also available on LinkedIn.


What are you working on now?
I am still in the process of updating my rebranded blog to offer more services to authors.

As for my own work, I have started on Miedo 3: Fragmented Fear which will cover my nineteen years in America up to my return to England and will conclude the Miedo Trilogy. I’m also working on a couple of songs I’ve written while redecorating the house.

Kevin’s reading recommendation:
I am currently reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’m just past the half-way mark and have to say, it’s bloody brilliant! I’m also reading, Never Turn Back by Lorna Lee, which I find fascinating to say the least and I’m only about a third of the way through it. I like to have at least one hardcopy and one e-book on the go at the same time and of completely different genres. I sometimes have several books open.