Betty Jane Hegerat recommends Dianne Harke

dianne-harkepic Book title and author: Incognito: The Astounding Life of Alexandra David-Neel by Dianne Harke

What genre is it? Fictional biography, with a foreword by the author explaining the rationale behind adding and imagining detail about both the subject and the time and place.

Quick description:
“This is the biography of Alexandra David-Neel (1868-1969), spiritual seeker, opera singer, feminist, journalist, intrepid explorer, Buddhist scholar and prolific author of over thirty books.” – from Sumeru Books

David-Neel travelled incognito all over Asia, spent several long periods in Tibet, and lived as a hermit in a cave in the Himalayas.

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Why I recommend this book:
This is the beautifully rendered story of an extraordinary woman whose wanderlust and deep seeking spirituality took her across vast territories, sometimes under arduous conditions, and danger so extreme that she survived by travelling “incognito.” The author captures the voice with eloquence and provides astonishing detail that speaks to years of research.

Although the book is designated “Young Adult Fiction” and I believe there are young readers who would find this a fascinating life to explore, I feel even more strongly that there is a broad adult audience who will engage with every aspect of Alexandra David-Neel’s “journey.”

Betty Jane interviewed Dianne Harke on her blog, which is how I found out about the book. After reading An Interview with Dianne Harke, author of: Incognito, The Astounding Life of Alexandra David Neel. (Sumeru Books 2016) I asked Betty Jane to also recommend the book to you, the readers of my blog.

Links for people to buy it:
Available from Chapters/Indigo
Amazon
Even better, check with your local indie bookstore to see if they can order for you.
And of course, it’s always a good idea to contact your local public and suggest a title you’d like them to order.

jan-2014-2 Guest reviewer’s latest title or project: My most recent book is a Young Adult novel, Odd One Out (Oolichan Books, 2016). Currently, I have returned to short fiction and have been rewriting, editing, and venturing into a new story.

Betty Jane Hegerat has been a frequent guest on Reading Recommendations, beginning in April 2014 and with updates in Jan. 2016 and May 2016, as well as news about being the 2015 Recipient of the WGA Golden Pen Award in April 2015. She is also listed among the All-Star Authors on this site.

Betty Jane Hegerat – update on a new novel

Betty Jane Hegerat is a fine author as well as a very good friend who I’ve had the great pleasure to represent and promote since we first met in 2009. I have featured her work previously on Reading Recommendations in April 2014 and Jan. 2016. I also wrote a special post about Betty Jane when she was named the 2015 Recipient of the WGA Golden Pen Award on my main blog. She’s back now with the announcement of publication of her new novel!

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Odd One Out
by Betty Jane Hegerat
Published by Oolichan Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

“There’s a person here, Roof. You need to come home.”

“Here where? In the house? You let a stranger in the house?”

“Well she’s just a girl. Or like a young woman or whatever.”

My phone was fading again. It does that. Mom got it as a cheap add-on to her own cell.

Or: Maybe the stranger had her hands around Josie’s throat?

Every single lesson we’d been taught about what to do when we were home alone–and our mom and dad take their child-rearing way more seriously than any normal parents–was racing through my head. 911 flashed in big red numbers. “Josie!” I shouted. “Can you hear me? Should I call the police?”

“No! You idiot!” No problem with the volume now. I held the phone a few inches from my ear. Then Josie’s voice dropped to a whisper. “This isn’t dangerous, Roof, only kind of… weird. Just come home, ‘kay?”

Rufus Peters has never felt exceptional in any way. How could he, with a twin sister who outshines him at everything they do? His two problems are finding a way to wiggle out of a student exchange to Quebec, and liberating Boreas, his skateboard, from the principal?s contraband cupboard. After Amelia knocks on their door, life in the Peters family goes from plain old “Just Cheese Please” to Nick’s Pizza’s “Grand Slam and More.” Roof makes it his mission to solve The Mystery of the Mexican Stranger.

Where to purchase copies:
Oolichan Books

Betty Jane Hegerat Recommends Glen Huser

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Book title and author:
Time for Flowers Time for Snow
Written by Glen Huser
Illustrated by Philippe Béhe
Music by Giannis Georgantelis

What genre is it?
A children’s book—the retelling of a myth— but one that will surely delight all ages.

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Quick description:
Time for Flowers Time for Snow is the retelling of the myth of Demeter and Perspephone. This book is the collaboration of author and lyricist, Glen Huser, composer and director Giannis Georgantelis and a choir of more than 180 Quebec children, and the Orchestre Symphonique Pop de Montréal. Illustrations are by Philippe Béha. The book includes a CD of the music, and narration by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. The book is an enchanted telling of the myth in narrative and song. As well as the story of Demeter and Persephone it is a contemplation of why seasons change; the cycles of plenty and scarcity, and joy and sorrow.

Far more than a children’s book, this is a work of multi-disciplinary art of the highest calibre.

Why I recommend this book:
Everything about Time for Flowers Time for Snow delights me. I believe the best of books for children are equally appealing to adults and beg to be read aloud and shared. This book has the added eloquence of song—opera by children. I recommend it because I want it in my own library and I want to give it to every special child in my life.

Links for people to buy it:
Always, I recommend that readers first seek books from local independent booksellers who are usually delighted to order the book if they do not have in stock.
Online: Amazon
Tradewind Books

HEGERAT BR09Guest reviewer’s latest title or project:
My newest title Odd One Out (Oolichan Books) is a book for young teens to be released this spring 2016. Betty Jane Hegerat has been featured a number of times on Reading Recommendations, most recently announcing this new about-to-be-published book she mentions.

Betty Jane Hegerat – an update on a new novel

Betty Jane Hegerat is a Canadian Author who I first met when I was representing her publisher and selling their books to bookstores and libraries throughout Alberta. She has since become a good friend and has also mentored me with my own writing and business development, always offering sage advice on the many ideas I come up with to promote authors and their books. (“Susan, you’ve always had many good promotion ideas, but hiring authors to entertain at adult birthday parties isn’t one of them.”) I’ve featured Betty Jane on Reading Recommendations previously in April 2014 and April 2015 when she received The WGA Golden Pen Award. Betty Jane is preparing for the release of a new novel this spring and wrote the following blog post about her experience of writing and publishing Odd One Out. With Betty Jane’s permission, I am reposting her original blog post, but I encourage you to click on the link and go directly to Betty Jane Hegerat’s blog, subscribe to it, and read some very fine writing from a talented Author!

Betty Jane Hegerat: Canadian author of literary fiction

My UBC Hat Trick

unnamed Now, I am a pitiful specimen of a Canadian, because I do not love hockey; I don’t watch hockey, I know very little about the game or the lexicon thereof, and my interest in the Calgary Flames involves periodically asking the true fan in the house how “our” team is doing. But there’s a hockey term that always makes me smile—“hat trick.” Although I’m sure there is no one out there who needs a definition of hat trick: the scoring of three goals in one hockey game by the same player.

So, I’m calling the publication of my newest book, Odd One Out (Oolichan Books 2016), the completion of my UBC hat trick. I’m borrowing this as a literary term. The game has been a long one beginning with the publication of my MFA thesis, Delivery, a novel, (Oolichan Books 2009) the year after I completed the MFA Creative Writing through UBC’s low residency program. For literary purposes I’m going to say the game has three periods, and can go on for even longer than a cricket match—in my case, for seven years.

In the second period, The Boy (Oolichan Books 2010), a hybrid of investigative journalism, fiction and memoir was published.

This spring, 2016, Odd One Out, a novel for teens, will be out.

Each of these three books owe huge thanks to the exceptional mentors I had access to at UBC. The gracious and talented Catherine Bush was my thesis advisor and guided me through the final draft of Delivery.

The irascible journalist, Terry Glavin, was one of the instructors who drew me to apply to UBC when I was struggling with non-fiction, with writing the story that ultimately became The Boy. Not only did Terry teach me how to “construct literature from the found materials of the known world,” he baptised me in the belief that TRUTH MATTERS.

I had no intention of writing for young people until I took a summer session course, Writing for Children, with Glen Huser. As in all writing courses, there is that basic requirement— write! And it was in the ten days in the summer of 2007 that I began to think about a boy named Rufus, to hear his voice in my mind, and to get a sense of what was troubling that poor kid. The kind and generous Glen Huser, in my estimation one of the finest Canadian authors of children’s book as well as an outstanding teacher, read the first draft of Odd One Out and helped me find the right sized boots I needed to write for a teenage audience.

I’ve noticed a recent surge of discussion about the value of the MFA in terms of a writer’s skill and success. I will go on record, as I have many times, in saying, “No! One does not need a university degree to be a good writer.” But what’s troubled me lately is that many of the people who are making that same declaration are doing so with a kind of reverse-snobbery that gets a tad offensive. Don’t apply to graduate programs if you feel they’ll be of no value to you, but please don’t peer down the length of your nose at those who have taken that path for their own personal reasons.

I applied to the UBC MFA Creative Writing Program and was accepted on my second try (this for those of you who are inclined to toss in the towel after first attempts). My motive was simple. There were important things I didn’t know and felt sure I couldn’t accomplish without the help of some wise people who would hold my feet to the fire in my efforts to earn a degree. I didn’t need any more letters to tack onto my name, I didn’t need a new community of writers, although I’ve been ever grateful to have met so many gifted and supportive people. I was at an age when I wasn’t looking to gain extra credibility in order to teach. I wanted to be immersed in that academic world just long enough to find answers to my questions.

Am I glad I made the decision to apply to the MFA program? You bet I am. Would I have continued to write and to publish without the degree? Of course I would have. I am determined, tenacious, and thick-skinned and not particularly humble when it comes to believing I have a gift and a responsibility to use it.

Thank you UBC for helping me tighten the laces on my skates. Hat trick.

Here’s the advance sales listing for Odd One Out in Oolichan Books Spring Catalogue.

Betty Jane Hegerat

Jan 2014 #2 Betty Jane Hegerat

What is your latest release and what genre is it? My latest publication is an essay in the brave and wonderful anthology, a family by any other name; Exploring Queer Relationships (Touchwood Editions 2014) Bruce Gillespie, the editor of this anthology, was previously featured on Reading Recommendations

Quick description: The book explores what family means to people today and includes a wide range of perspectives on queer relationships and families. My essay, Finding My Grace, deals with my coming to terms, both emotionally and spiritually, with my daughter’s coming out.

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Brief biography:
In a previous life, I had a career as a social worker, but twenty years ago I decided to put my storytelling talent to the test. I took some writing courses, wrote and wrote and wrote, and finally enrolled in UBC’s optional residency MFA in Creative Writing. I’ve taught creative writing in various places. As well as numerous stories in literary magazines and some in other anthologies, I have four books: Running Toward Home (a novel, NeWest Press 2006), A Crack in the Wall (a collection of short stories, Oolichan Books 2008) Delivery (a novel, Oolichan Books 2009) and The Boy (a hybrid of non-fiction, fiction, and memoir, Oolichan Books 2011).

Links to buy Betty Jane’s book:
The link for a family by any other name: Touchwood Editions
Links to the publishers of my books are on my website.

Betty Jane’s promo links:
My Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
Goodreads link to a family by any other name

What are you working on now?
Primarily short pieces of non-fiction that I hope I’ll be inspired to expand into essays some day. I am also looking forward to the publication of my first YA novel which is tentatively scheduled for release in fall 2014.

Betty Jane’s reading recommendation:
I always have a pile of short story collections on the bedside table, and another next to my “reading chair”. I’ve recently revisited Alice Munroe’s earliest books, and one of my favourite more recent collections is Western Taxidermy by Barb Howard. Barb is a friend and colleague but I recommend her book without bias. A novel which held me in its thrall for reasons I have never been able to pin down and is at the top of pile of “re-read” is David Guterson’s The Other, published in 2008. (Barb Howard was a featured author previously on Reading Recommendations.)

Here are a few photos (taken by Robert Hegerat) from the very successful Calgary launch of a family by any other name!

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Bruce Gillespie

I’d like to make a personal comment about today’s Reading Recommendation. I have not yet had the opportunity to read this book, but I believe it is a very important publication. A Family by Any Other Name first came to my attention when my good friend, Calgary-author Betty Jane Hegerat, told me her essay had been accepted for inclusion in the anthology. Ever since that day, I have been doing my best to help spread the word about the book, and since it was officially published on April 8th, I am very proud to now be able to include it’s editor, Bruce Gillespie, as my Reading Recommendation for today. smt

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Bruce Gillespie

What is your latest release and what genre is it? My latest book is A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships, an anthology of personal essays, published by TouchWood Editions.

Quick description: At no other time in history have lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) relationships and families been more visible or numerous. A Family by Any Other Name recognizes and celebrates this advance by exploring what “family” means to people today. The anthology includes a wide range of perspectives on queer relationships and families—there are stories on coming out, same-sex marriage, adopting, having biological kids, polyamorous relationships, families without kids, divorce, and dealing with the death of a spouse, as well as essays by straight writers about having a gay parent or child. These personal essays are by turns funny, provocative, and intelligent, but all are moving and honest. Including writers from across North America, this collection offers honest and moving real-life stories about relationships and creating families in the twenty-first century.

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Brief biography:
Bruce Gillespie is an award-winning Canadian writer and editor and an assistant professor in the digital media and journalism program at Wilfrid Laurier University’s Brantford campus. He is also the editor-in-chief of J-Source.ca, a hub for news, analysis, and commentary about Canadian journalism. Bruce, with Lynne Van Luven, was the co-editor of two previous anthologies of personal essays: Somebody’s Child: Stories About Adoption and Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids.

Links to buy A Family by Any Other Name:
Amazon.ca – Canada – eBook and print
Amazon.com – US – eBook and print
Indigo.ca – print
Kobo – eBook
iTunes

Bruce’s promo links:
BruceGillespie.com
Twitter
A Family by Any Other Name Facebook group
A Family by Any Other Name: TouchWood Editions
Goodreads
An interview on Metro Morning, CBC Radio Toronto
Report on the Toronto launch

What are you working on now?
With A Family by Any Other Name now hitting bookshelves, I’m in between projects at the moment, but I have a few ideas in mind that I intend to start working on just as soon as I catch my breath.

Bruce’s reading recommendation:
As you might guess from my publishing history, I’m a big fan of personal essays. So, I was delighted when one of my favourite novelists, Ann Patchett, released a collection of essays recently called This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her nonfiction is every bit as good as her fiction, and it’s the sort of book you want to read as slowly as possible, to enjoy each and every word and make it last as long as possible. (I absolutely agree with Bruce’s recommendation. I recently read the book and thought it to be an excellent collection of essays. smt)

Betty Jane Hegerat and ‘Nathan Burgoine, two of the contributors to A Family by Any Other Name have been featured on Reading Recommendations.