Kevin Brennan – update on a new collection of essays

Kevin Brennan has previously been featured on Reading Recommendations a number of times, as well as being an All-Star Author and on the list of
Reading Recommendations Revisited.

I don’t make any bones about it – Kevin Brennan is one of my very favourite authors writing today! So it’s always a pleasure to promote any new books he happens to publish, like this one right here …

In No Particular Order: A Memoir
by Kevin Brennan

It’s true that life is linear, but the living of it is all over the map. In this memoir-in-vignettes, novelist Kevin Brennan (Parts Unknown, Yesterday Road) examines his life the way memories occur in the wild: in no particular order. Whether it’s recalling high school humiliations, ups and downs in love and romance, or unique interactions with the human race at home and abroad, Brennan both entertains and moves the reader with moments of unexpected poignancy and full-tilt humor. In No Particular Order is a deconstructed memoir, like no other because it looks at life as it really is — a kaleidoscope of individual moments.

For more information about Kevin and his publications, as well as more about this new eBook, check out his blog, What the Hell.

Purchase a copy from:
Amazon

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Margaret Mackey

Margaret Mackey

What is your latest release and what genre is it? One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography / nonfiction

Quick description: “The miracle of the preserved word, in whatever medium—print, audio text, video recording, digital exchange—means that it may transfer into new times and new places.” — From the Introduction

Margaret Mackey draws together memory, textual criticism, social analysis, and reading theory in an extraordinary act of self-study. In One Child Reading, she makes a singular contribution to our understanding of reading and literacy development. Seeking a deeper sense of what happens when we read, Mackey revisited the texts she read, viewed, listened to, and wrote as she became literate in the 1950s and 1960s in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This tremendous sweep of reading included school texts, knitting patterns, musical scores, and games, as well as hundreds of books. The result is not a memoir, but rather a deftly theorized exploration of how a reader is constructed. One Child Reading is an essential book for librarians, classroom teachers, those involved in literacy development in both scholarly and practical ways, and all serious readers.

Brief biography:
Margaret Mackey is Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. She has published widely on the subject of young people’s reading and their multimedia and digital literacies. A voracious reader, she lives in Edmonton.

Links to buy Margaret’s book:
University of Alberta Press
Amazon

Margaret’s promo links:
Website
What are you working on now?
University of Alberta Press

What are you working on now?
At this moment (apart from moving house and closing my office), I’m just getting started on a project that has the potential to be very intriguing. In the fall I will be recruiting some undergraduates to create a digital map for me of a place that was very important to their early literacy. It can be a real-life landscape or a fictional one (acknowledging that some urban children don’t spend much time out of doors). I will invite them to annotate their map with any kind of records they can come up with – written comments, photographs, videos, audio, interactive ways to “travel” around the landscape, and anything else they can think of. I’ll interview them about the map: why they chose this landscape, what makes the annotations meaningful to them, what they remember more broadly about their literate lives at the time this map was meaningful to them. Pilot work has established that this method of approach can bring out expanded memories of an important stage in developing literacy; and while it is a tool to help articulate these memories, it also allows for some very eloquent forms of expression in its own right. I’m excited to get going on the full-stage project. The idea arose from the work I did for One Child Reading; I was very surprised to re-discover how important my own landscape had been to me and I began to wonder if it was the same for other readers. The pilot work suggests that the answer is yes.

Margaret’s reading recommendation:
I am very happy to recommend a wonderful book called Lakeland: Journeys into the Soul of Canada. It’s by Allan Casey and was published in 2009. Casey talks about the huge significance of lakes to many, many Canadian psyches. He begins with his “own” lake in Saskatchewan and visits at least one lake in every province except PEI. Some of these are working lakes, others are cottage country lakes, and some are just wild. I haven’t been to every lake he mentions but I’ve been to a number of them, and I’ve also driven across Canada three times, which certainly gives anyone a strong sense of what a lake-bound country this is. I don’t think you would need this level of experience to enjoy the book, but it would certainly help a reader if they loved at least one lake, wherever it is.

Mike Robbins – update on a timely essay

Mike Robbins has visited Reading Recommendations a couple of times previously, here and here. He’s back now to tell us about a very timely essay he has just published. (Mike also answered my recent call for book reviewers, for which I am extremely grateful!)

Such Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies
by Mike Robbins
Published by Third Rail
Genre: Non-Fiction Essay

“When the people shall have nothing more to eat,” said Rousseau, “they will eat the rich.” But the rich are rather good at getting the poor to eat each other instead. In this provocative novella-length essay, Mike Robbins looks at how the British electoral system, social media, bullying by business, and a growing gap between rich and poor have led to deep fissures in British society. These have been exploited by those with an agenda of their own. As a result, democracy is now fragile. To repair it, we must look hard at the way information cycles through our society, and how our opinions are formed.

Cover picture: J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16th October, 1834 (Detail)
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Where to purchase copies:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
(also available on the other Amazons)
Google Play
Barnes & Noble
Scribd
Kobo

Bob Van Laerhoven – Stories of Inspiration anthology

Bob Van Laerhoven has been previously featured several times on Reading Recommendations. He’s here now to tell us of him inclusion in a new anthology of mystery writers.

Stories of Inspiration: Mystery Fiction Edition
mystery fiction writers trace their journeys from starting point to finished work

Volume 1
edited by Suzanne Fox
Published by Stories of You Books
Genre: Anthology of non-fiction

Where do works of mystery fiction find their starting points? How are those seeds, sources and inspirations transformed into a well crafted, compelling story? Why is murder such an enduring starting point for fiction? How do elements such as setting, period and milieu help drive and define mystery writers?

Collecting insights from both established authors and new voices and reflecting mystery moods from the cozy to the chilling, Stories of Inspiration: Mystery Fiction Edition charts the often surprising journey from an original point of departure to a finished mystery novel.

Illuminating the writing of exceptional authors, celebrating one of fiction’s most long- and deeply loved genres, and illuminating the nature of the creative process itself, Stories of Inspiration: Mystery Fiction Edition will appeal to readers of literature and fiction, lovers of mystery, and writers seeking inspiration for their own work.

Contributors include:
Diana Bretherick, Frances Brody, Elizabeth Buhmann, Nancy J. Cohen, Christine Goff, Steven Gore, Erin Hart, Linda Hengerer, James Tate Hill. Andrew Hughes, D.E. Ireland, J. Sydney Jones, M.R.C. Kasasian, Jennifer Kincheloe, Mary Lawrence, John Mackie, ​Edith Maxwell, Grant McKenzie, Camille Minichino, Joe Moore & Lynn Sholes, Toby Neal, Chris Nickson, Ann Parker, Eliot Pattison, Michael Ransom, Holly Robinson, Barbara Ross, Joanna Campbell Slan, Maggie Toussaint, Wendy Tyson, Bob van Laerhoven, Tina Whittle, Michael Wiley, Max Wirestone, Michael Zolezzi.

Bob Van Laerhoven says: I’m honored to have been invited to contribute, as the only Belgian author, to this American anthology of essays on writing mysteries, from inspiration to the final result.

Where to purchase:
Amazon
Stories of You Books

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.

Merilyn Simonds

merilyn-simonds_hi-res Merilyn Simonds

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels & the Lasting Impression of Books – Narrative nonfiction

Quick description: eReader in one hand, perfect-bound book in the other, author Merilyn Simonds asks herself: What is lost and what is gained as paper turns to pixel?

Gutenberg’s Fingerprint trolls the past, present and evolving future for an answer. Part memoir and part historical exploration, the book follows the production of her collection of flash fiction, The Paradise Project, as both a book-arts edition hand-typeset and hand-printed on Hugh Barclay’s antique press, and as a digital eBook designed by her son Erik. Her assumptions about writing and reading and the nature of creativity and change are toppled as she works alongside these two born-again Gutenbergs, one on either side of the digital divide.

A timely and fascinating exploration of the myths, inventions, and consequences of the current shift in how we read, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is at its heart, the chronicle of one woman’s lifelong love affair with books.

gutenbergsfingerprint_cov

Brief biography:
Merilyn Simonds is the author of 17 books, including The Convict Lover, a Governor General’s Award finalist; and the novel, The Holding, selected a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her work is published internationally in eight countries. The Founding Artistic Director of Kingston WritersFest, she writes a biweekly books column in the Kingston Whig Standard and teaches creative writing, mentoring emerging writers across the continent. She divides her time between Kingston, Ontario, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Links to buy Merilyn’s book:
Buy this book at your local independent bookseller. Or order from:
Merilyn’s Website
ECW Press
Amazon

Merilyn’s promo links:
Website
Blog: Books Unpacked
Facebook
Twitter

From Quill & Quire: Personal Essay: Merilyn Simonds on digital technology and new immersive literary experiences

What are you working on now?
I have a novel, Refuge, coming out next year with ECW Press. I have just finished the first full draft of another novel, ~then~ , set in Mexico in 1994 in the early days of the Zapatista War and in 2016, shortly after the election of US President Trump.

Merilyn’s reading recommendation:
I am currently reading Mexican women writers. I just finished Here’s to You, Jesusa! by Elena Poniatowska, a brilliant example of “testimonial fiction,” a genre she created and perfected.

Stonehouse Publishing

Alberta-based Stonehouse Publishing began operations in 2016 and I promoted their first 5 publications here on Reading Recommendations shortly after a very successful company launch. I thought readers would be interested in hearing more about this new publisher and the direction they are taking their company, so I asked Netta Johnson to provide us with details.

stonehouselaunchparty-62

Stonehouse Publishing
Co-owners, Netta Johnson & Julie Yerex
Intern, Olivia Latta
Design team, Janet King and Anne Brown

Introducing Stonehouse Publishing History and Founding of Stonehouse Publishing

After years of being avid readers, writers, book collectors, and overall literary enthusiasts, friends and colleagues, Julie Yerex and Netta Johnson, took a brave plunge into the publishing world, founding Stonehouse Publishing. Netta brings to the house a work ethic unmatched, a passion for historical literature, and an unabashed entrepreneurial spirit. Julie adds to this with a background in copyediting, a taste for adventure, and a love for the written word that runs deep. Bolstered by the support offered to them from within the industry, and just a touch of naiveté, they have been humbled by the success of the launch of their first 5 titles, released in May 2016.

Stonehouse Publishing Mandate

Stonehouse Publishing is a small press publishing 3-5 titles per season, 5-8 titles per year, specializing in literary, trade, and historical fiction. The Stonehouse mandate is to increase the internationally-themed historical fiction published in Canada. Although historical fiction is the primary passion and focus of the Publishing house, Stonehouse is also committed to bringing budding new Canadian authors into the literary realm. Stonehouse Publishing’s final objective is to broaden the readership of some of the lesser-known classic authors, via their forthcoming Classics line, beginning with one classic title in the start of their second season.

First Year, First Titles, Upcoming Seasons

Stonehouse’s inaugural list is an eclectic selection of European-themed literature (the house’s special interest) and Alberta-themed literature from new authors. The first five Stonehouse books range from European-based fiction set in the 18th Century (Mary Green, League of the Star) to thrillers (Course Correction, Edge of Wild), rounded out by Kalyna, a historical novel dealing with Canada’s policy of interning Ukrainian settlers during the First World War. All 2016 books are authored within Alberta, reflecting both Stonehouse’s commitment to local literature and the inspiring degree of undiscovered talent located in our province. All books have been positively reviewed, and thus far, Mary Green and Kalyna have appeared on the weekly Bestsellers list in Edmonton and Calgary.

Looking ahead to their second season, Stonehouse will be augmenting the Stonehouse Originals list with Stonehouse Classics, designed to breathe new life into the range of classical works available in most bookstores. Spurred by a passion for historical fiction, contemporary and otherwise, Stonehouse is excited to place their favourite classical novels alongside classical sections already well-stocked with Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The Stonehouse Classics imprint will begin with Evelina, by Fanny Burney. The Stonehouse Originals imprint will continue to release compelling original works, starting with Encountering Riel, by David Orr and Something Unremembered, by Della Dennis in February 2017. In August 2017, Stonehouse will publish two additional titles, including the already announced, Jesus on the Dashboard, by Lisa Murphy-Lamb August.

For more information about Stonehouse Publishing, please view their website.

Here are links to their authors’ promotions already featured on Reading Recommendations.

Pam Clark
N.R. Cruse
Melanie Kerr
Douglas Morrison
Danika Stone

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)

Robin Summerfield – Winnipeg Cooks

Robin Summerfield

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Winnipeg Cooks: Signature Recipes from the City’s Top Chefs – cookbook

Quick description: In Winnipeg Cooks, thirty-four of the city’s finest chefs share stories and recipes from the front lines of an emerging culinary hot spot. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next meal, look no further. Featuring the stunning photography of Ian McCausland and seventy mouth-watering recipes, Winnipeg Cooks will leave you hungry for more.

Brief biography:
Robin is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in newspapers across Canada. She is a former features writer and columnist at the Calgary Herald, and editor of Ciao! magazine. She is food contributor to CBC and writer for Flavours magazine. Robin was also the writer and photographer behind pegcitygrub.com, a culinary tourism website for Tourism Winnipeg. Her stomach and palate have been frequently enlisted to judge culinary competitions.

At home in Winnipeg, she often freestyles in the kitchen, throwing in most any ingredient and leaving out little. This cooking approach has been met with moderate success. It has, however, given her an appreciation for the talent of chefs everywhere, including the remarkable crew assembled here. These days she cooks for a husband who will eat anything and a young son who eats pretty much nothing.

Links to buy Winnipeg Cooks:
Figure 1 Publishing
Amazon.ca / Chapters/Indigo.ca / independent bookstores

Robin’s promo links:
Figure 1 Publishing
Facebook
Twitter

What are you working on now?
I’m writing a pop-culture memoir about the death of my husband, and my life as a young widow and only parent. What’s a pop culture memoir? Before his death, my husband wrote a list of his favourite things inside a journal. So now I’m watching and reading, and listening to my husband’s favourite movies, TV shows, books, albums. And I’m travelling to his favourite places around the world.

It’s light and dark, and real and raw. And funny too, I hope.

Robin’s reading recommendation:
Nemo in Slumberland and The Spirit – Both are graphic novels. I am reading Nemo in Slumberland to my six year old son. The Spirit was my one of my husband’s favourite characters. We named our son after the author.

I am a big fan of long-form, creative non-fiction so I tend to read meaty magazine pieces. I love the New Yorker, and New York Times Magazine, for example. Macleans Magazine also does some amazing work. Recently, they published a story about Manitoba’s underground railway. It was incredible, compelling storytelling and journalism.

Other titles in this series from Figure 1 Publishing:
Calgary Cooks
Toronto Cooks
Montreal Cooks
Ottawa Cooks
Edmonton Cooks