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)

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.

thin-power

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.

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.)

Ken McGoogan

I first met Ken McGoogan in Calgary almost 3 decades ago (!) when he was Books Editor at The Calgary Herald and I was manager of Sandpiper Books. I was honoured when he later agreed to write a blurb for the print edition of my novel. It gives me great pleasure to be able to present to all my readers Ken’s new book on the day it is being released in Canada!

ken in tarbert again (2) Ken McGoogan

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Celtic Lightning: How the Scots and the Irish Created a Canadian Nation

Quick description: With Celtic Lightning, best-selling author Ken McGoogan plunges into the perpetual debate about Canadian roots and identity: who do we think we are? He argues that Canadians have never investigated the demographic reality that informs this book — the fact that more than nine million Canadians claim Scottish or Irish heritage.

McGoogan writes that, to understand who we are and where we are going, Canadians must look to cultural genealogy. He builds on the work of Richard Dawkins, who contends that ideas and values (“memes”) can be transmitted from one generation to another. Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived in Canada with values they had learned from their forebears. And they did so early enough, and in sufficient numbers, to shape an emerging Canadian nation.

McGoogan highlights five of the values they imported as foundational: independence, audacity, democracy, pluralism, and perseverance. He shows that these values are thriving in contemporary Canada, and traces their evolution through the lives of thirty prominent individuals — heroes, rebels, poets, inventors, pirate queens — who played formative roles in the histories of Scotland and Ireland.

final cover celtic

Brief biography:
While researching Celtic Lightning, Ken McGoogan spent several summers driving around Scotland and Ireland, and also circumnavigated both countries. His dozen previous books include How the Scots Invented Canada, Fatal Passage, and Lady Franklin’s Revenge. Ken has won the Pierre Berton Award, the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography, the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, and the Canadian Authors’ Association History Award. He voyages with Adventure Canada as an author-historian, and teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Toronto and in the new MFA program at University of King’s College in Halifax.

Links to buy Ken’s book:
Any good bookstore
Harper Collins Canada

Ken’s promo links:
Website/Blog
Facebook
Twitter

What are you working on now?
A fifth book about Arctic exploration.

Ken’s reading recommendation:
Margaret MacMillan’s History’s People: Personalities and the Past.