Monday musings: Observations at book signings

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By Scott Bury

Scott Bury showing off his display at his latest book signing event.

Last Friday, I did a “meet the author,” book-signing event at Coles Carlingwood bookstore in a mall in western Ottawa. That was the fifth such event I have done in 2018. Most of them were outdoors, but now that snow remains on the ground, I won’t be doing outdoor signings until spring, at least. I probably won’t be doing any more in a store, either before the end of the year. Bookstores in these parts doesn’t do in-store events because they’re just too crowded with shoppers and all the non-book stuff they promote during this season. An author at a table stacked with just their books would be more of an obstacle than an attraction.

After five book signing events, there are some patterns I have observed.

I have to admit that I always feel a little trepidation as the date for a book signing gets closer. What if no one comes? What if no one buys a book? I’ve ordered a quantity—will that expenditure be in vain?

But over the year, I count nearly all the events as successes. I don’t always sell a huge number of books, but with one exception, more than I feared would be the worst-case scenario.

I learned a lot through this. I saw how some other authors, experienced in these things, who brought big fabric banners on collapsible frames. Some rented or bought big tents for protection from the elements. One, a horror writer also from Ottawa, has a little Cthulhu figurine that sparks conversation.

It’s astounding how many independent writers there are. Some come to events like the Authors’ Market at the ByWard Market with embarrassing self-printed little books, but most have learned the importance of investing in their own work with professional editing, design and production.

I have also learned that it’s nearly impossible for independent authors to get the attention of major media. Thank goodness for community and independent newspapers.

Another thing I learned after five book signings in eight months is that people like to talk to writers! Many are delighted to meet the person whose name is on the cover of a book. They are almost always amazed that someone actually wrote a whole book—never mind seven.

Another thing I have learned is that people have very different reasons for buying a book. One lady bought four different books as Christmas presents for her sons. She wanted me to sign them with not only my name, but also that of one of the characters within.

Another reader wanted an inspirational message with the signature. Still another wanted the date and place of the signature.

They asked the usual questions: what inspired the story, how long it took to write, why I wanted to be a writer.
It’s rewarding. I learn more about readers and why they choose to read the books they do.

Often, a personal connection is what it takes to get someone to buy a book. Over the summer, a number of current and former military people bought the Eastern Front trilogy. I also remember a lady with a British accent who told me about hiding in bomb shelters during the London Blitz.

At Arts in the Park in June, a man who had bought a book the previous year came back and bought a copy of Wildfire.
Everyone seems to have their own reason to read books, and to choose which to buy.

Thankfully, sometimes the chance to meet the writer is enough.

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Thursday teaser: Finding You

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Read on to find out how you could win a free e-copy of the new romantic suspense novel

By D.G. Torrens

Eden’s eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness enveloping her. Her heart pounded in her chest when she realised she could hardly move. Her breaths quickened and panic was setting in fast. She could just about move her arms. She extended her arm above her and felt around. She was enclosed… Fear consumed her. Her body trembled. She screamed – but her cries were ignored. She utilised all the force she could muster in the tight space. She tried to push the top of the box, but all that achieved was a rush of loose soil slipping through the cracks covering her face. She shook her head vigorously feeling the impending danger. Her lower lip trembled. Her eyes were gritty and sore. She sobbed. Who would do this? What is happening to me? Where am I?  Her eyes widened, aware that someone was there… She froze. The person is silent – not a sound. Then all she could hear was the sound of footsteps fading into the distance.

About Finding You

Eden Marshall catches the eye of the wealthy and mysterious bachelor, Noah Ainsworth. Noah has been hiding away in his ivory tower for far too long. He decides it’s time to start living again. Eden Marshall is his motivation – captivated by her, he begins to trust in love again. Until a dark secret from his past threatens all that he loves…

Find this romantic suspense on Amazon.

Win a free e-copy

Author D.G. Torrens will randomly choose one person who leaves a comment below to receive a free e-copy of the romantic suspense novel, Finding You.

D.G. Torrens

is a mother/writer/blogger who has a dream to inspire as many people as possible through her story. To show those with little hope that dreams can come true.

Born in England, passionate about writing, D.G. Torrens is married with a daughter. Her first book, Amelia’s Story, has inspired people all over the world. Amelia’s Destiny, book #2 is the sequel and is followed by Amelia The Mother book #3 in this awe-inspiring trilogy. A memoir that remains with D.G.’s readers long after they have put the book down …

D.G is a prolific writer. In 2013, her works were recognized by BBC Radio WM, where she has given several live interviews in the BBC studios in Birmingham, UK. Thereafter, D.G. became a regular Headline Reviewer for the radio show for the next 12 months.

Visit her:

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Monday musings: The bookstore as tourist attraction

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By Scott Bury

In days of yore, I used to love hanging around in bookstores. Whether they sold new or used books, I could while away hours ambling down the aisles, perusing the obscure titles, poring over the pages, admiring cover typography and wondering about the authors. Sadly, it’s a pastime I haven’t enjoyed for a very long time.

Until last September, when I visited Portugal with my lovely wife. From the time we started planning the trip, one of the must-see spots was the Lello & Irmão bookstore in Porto. This is the bookstore that’s famous as the place that inspired J.K. Rowling’s setting of Hogwarts for her Harry Potter series.

The evocative double curving staircase is not the only reason it’s an inspiring bookstore. The inlay ceiling, the baroque woodwork, the antique lanterns—and the incredible range of books! There are books in many languages, bestselling books, books of great age and prestige, beautiful editions and even comic books.

But what is the most immediately striking thing about this bookstore is the crowd inside. Because of the Harry Potter-inspired fame, hordes of tourists cram into it daily. Lello & Irmão bookstore actually charge admission and limits the number of people they let inside at once. If you buy a book, they’ll refund the price of admittance.

Lello & Irmão was not the only bookstore I visited on that trip. Roxanne and I also popped into Livraria Bertrand in the Chiado section of Lisbon, known as the world’s oldest still-operating bookstore. It was first opened in 1732 by Pedro Faure, who took on the Bertrand brothers as partners some time later. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 destroyed the bookstore and the Betrands moved to a different part of the city. In 1773, the Bertrands returned to the rebuilt Chiado section of Lisbon, its current location on Rua Garret.

Bertrand today is a chain of 53 bookstores across Portugal, and is owned by the Porto Editora publishing company. a

Livraria Bertrand in Lisbon, the oldest still-operating bookstore in the world. Photo: Wikipedia

I rediscovered the joy of spending time in a bookstore in Portugal. And on coming back to North America, I understood one reason that I don’t enjoy that activity as much at home anymore. It’s because bookstores here aren’t much in the way of bookstores anymore.

Every time I enter one in Canada or the U.S., there seems to be more space turned over to knick-knacks, coffee and food at the expense of books.

I have no problem with coffee in a bookstore. Books and coffee are a natural combination. But seeing more space for things that are far less important than books taking away space for them—that’s disheartening.

What about you? What are your favorite book places in the world?

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Thursday teaser: Confessions from the Road

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This week’s travel teaser comes from the collection of stories gathered 

By Caleb Pirtle III

The Hope Prophecy

HE CAME TO the ancient land of his people because of the saucers in the sky. Dan Katchongva had always known this day would come.

He didn’t know where.

He didn’t know when.

Now he knew.

Dan Katchongva was a Hopi chieftain, and he had heard the stories handed down, sometimes in whispers, for centuries, and he had never doubted them.

Home was not the earth.

Life was temporary.

He would someday live among the stars.

He didn’t know where.

He didn’t know when.

Now he knew.

He told the newspaper in Prescott, Arizona: “Our people believe other planets are inhabited and that our prayers are heard there. We, the faithful Hopi, have seen the ships and know they are true.”

The Hopi has long had a connection with sky.

The Hopi has long been touched by the people who live among the stars.

They watch the skies.

And they wait.

“It is coming,” the chief said.

“What is coming?”

“The Day of Purification.”

He is stoic.

His face is solemn.

“The prophecies tell us,” he says, “that nature will speak with a mighty breath of wind. It will be the final decisive battle between good and evil. The oceans will join hands and meet the sky. It is the day when all wicked people and wrong-doers will be punished or destroyed.”

He pauses.

He gazes into a calm blue sky.

The sky is calling him, he says.

It’s been calling for a long time.

“The Hopi believes,” he continued, “that those who survive Purification Day will travel to other planets.”

The saucers will come for them.

He will be ready.

He waits no longer.

The saucers have come again.

The True White Brothers, he said, are coming to take the faithful away.

Have they come for him?

Some listen to Chief Dan Katchongva.

Others scorn him.

Mostly, his words fall on deaf ears.

He walks out of Prescott early one morning.

He heads across sacred lands.

He moves toward sacred mountains.

It is the tall country where the saucers are seen.

His head is held high.

His steps are strong.

The chief does not hesitate.

He walks all day and into the night.

He is one with the darkness.

And Prescott waits for him to return.

Prescott is still waiting.

No one ever saw Dan Katchongva again.

He left no footprints upon the earth.

Confessions from the Road

I grew up in a world occupied by storytellers. Their stories were better than books. Their stories became books. After all, life is just one story piled on top of another with page numbers.

In those days, storytellers did not know they were telling stories. They were simply carrying on a conversation. I never outgrew their stories. Nor did I ever stop listening to conversations that hopscotched their way along the side of a wayward road.

The voices stay with me. So do the stories they told me.

The voices may come from down the road apiece, at the counter of a diner, on the bar stool in a beer joint, sitting in the front yard of a mountain cabin, along a stretch of spun-sugar sand, back in the darkness of a pine thicket, amidst the downtown traffic jam of a city at sundown, or from the faint memories of a distant past.

Everyone who crosses my path has a story to tell. It may be personal. It may be something that happened last week or the year before. It may have been handed down for more than a single generation. It may even be true, but who knows anymore?

For decades I’ve collected the stories I hear and can’t forget those whose names are often long forgotten. But at one time in my life, they came my way, and I wrote down their confessions from the road.

Did you like this travel teaser? Find the book on 

Caleb Pirtle IIIBestselling author Caleb Pirtle III

is the author of more than seventy books, including the Ambrose Lincoln series.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has written three teleplays, and wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild.

Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third best selling art book of all time.

Learn more about Caleb on his:

And follow him on Twitter @CalebPirtle.

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Monday musings: Why do we love to read horror?

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Photo: Capture Queen (Creative Commons)

Pandemic. Totalitarianism. Climate change. Terrorism. Jihad. Illegal immigration. Socialism. Job loss.

Judging from hyperbole in social media, we are out-and-out terrified of these things. As evidence: people advocate shooting refugees to keep them from crossing their border.

As (occasionally) the author of horror, my job is to reflect my audience’s fears back to them in symbolic way. This can be a way to help deal with them, but mostly, through fantasy, we can take some joy from our fears. It’s like riding a roller-coaster: it’s fun because it scares us, but we’re really safe.

A long, grisly, nasty yet honourable tradition

This is what fantasy and horror writers have always done: create stories that give us another way to look at what’s really bothering us. It has a long history in a technological era:

Godzilla, the monster awakened by atomic radiation and that could breathe out “atomic fire,” reflected our fears of nuclear war and radiation.

Zombies, like those in The Walking Dead series and World War Z, reflect our fear of incurable, virulent and especially contagious pandemics, made even more horrifying and destructive by their ability to instantly render their victims as vessels of further transmission.

Hereditary is the fear of what you don’t know about yourself, which you may have inherited from your parents.

Horror movies like Predator and Venom play on the most primeval fear of all: getting killed and eaten by a predator. Other horror movies play on more modern fears of surveillance, mortgage foreclosure, and of course, the old standby, the Other—people not of our tribe, and therefore a threat. Don’t forget the 2001 horror movie actually called “The Others,” with Nicole Kidman.

Have you not noticed how terrified some people are of people from other cultures?

Fear of sex

Dracula, the Un-Dead, the progenitor of nearly all the vampire books since, plays on several fears. First is the fear of contagion—Bram Stoker’s heroes thought Lucy’s affliction was a blood disease, after all – but also the fear of being infected with something that will change your nature (becoming a vampire). There is also the fear of the Other, the foreigner, the intruder who by his very nature is dangerous. But mostly, Dracula was a sublimation of the greatest fear of the Victorian era: sex.

Yes, I am saying that sucking up blood was the only way that a Victorian era writer would portray sexual lust without getting banned or arrested. Don’t believe me? The vampire was ultimately defeated by a woman’s sexual attractiveness. Oh, sure, Dracula said he was only interested in her blood. But he was lured to his doom by a beautiful young woman, who invited the vampire into her bedroom and made him stay all night long. Now tell me Stoker was not writing about sex.

Image: Vancouver Sun

Still holding onto that argument? Watch Francis Ford Coppola’s film based on the book and try to sustain it.

Today, there’s a lot of fear about crowds of refugees or migrants getting past the border. I don’t understand the fear, myself. Which means there is already a really bad book or movie, or both, based on exactly that idea in development right now.

The biggest fear, though, that I can see is the fear of change. Any new idea still evokes howls from predictable corners. How could writers deal with that?

What about readers? What fears would you like your favourite authors to write about?

Leave your suggestions in the Comments.

Scott Bury

just can’t stay in one genre.

After a 30-year career as a journalist and editor, Scott Bury published a children’s story, and a story that bridged the genres of paranormal occult fiction and espionage thriller. Since then, he has published 12 novels and novellas without regard to staying in any one genre: fantasy, satire, mysteries, thrillers and biography.

In 2012, he published his first novel, the historical magic realism bestseller The Bones of the Earth. His next book, One Shade of Red, was a satire of a bestseller with a similar title.

From 2014 to 2017, he published the Eastern Front Trilogy, the true story of a Canadian drafted into the Soviet Red Army in 1941, and how he survived the Second World War.

He wrote four Hawaii mystery titles for Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World; Jet: Stealth for Russell Blake’s Jet Kindle World, and two for Emily Kimelman’s Sydney Rye Kindle World. Since the cancellation of the Kindle World program, he has revised and published the first title, Torn Roots, as the first volume in a stand-alone series, Hawaiian Storm.

He has also launched a new mystery series with Wildfire, featuring the smart and passionate Tara Rezeck.

Find out more about Scott and his writing:

And follow him on Twitter @ScottTheWriter.

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Thursday teaser: The Crazy Girl’s Handbook

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This week’s romance teaser is from the bestseller

By DelSheree Gladden

I could have sunk down through the bleachers in that moment, gum and all. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to this guy now, but he was trying to get gum out of my hair and I felt like I owed him some sort of explanation for that. “You’re that guy, aren’t you? The one Lydia tried to set me up with?”

Roman laughed. At me, I was sure. “Unsuccessfully, but yes. That would be me.”

Of course it was. “She never even asked me before setting that up with you,” I said defensively. “I already had something going on.” Actually, I had nothing at all going on, as usual, but that hadn’t stopped me from spurning Lydia’s pity blind date.

Roman tugged on my hair. It didn’t hurt, but it yanked my head back enough that I almost lost my balance and fell on him. Awesome. Just what I needed right now. Hooking my fingers under the bleacher seat, I held on for dear life.

“I got the impression Lydia expects people to do what she says within the first five minutes of meeting her and she didn’t disappoint,” Roman said as he tugged my hair again. “I figured that’s what had happened. It’s not a big deal.”

He said that, but I was still mortified. Right now he was probably thinking he was lucky I’d refused to keep the date Lydia set up. Whatever. This would be just another part of a story you tell your friends and have a good laugh about. Him, not me. I was not telling this story to anyone. Ever.

“Well, I got most of it out,” Roman said. “You might want to try peanut butter when you get home for what’s left.”

“Peanut butter?” I wrinkled my nose at the thought of putting peanut butter in my hair, on purpose. “How many times have you had to do this?”

Laughing, Roman said, “You’d be surprised.” He tossed the napkin into the nacho tray and I reached back to feel my hair. There was still some stickiness, but he’d actually managed to remove most of the gum wad.

I turned to thank him despite my embarrassment after realizing who he was, but my words and pride stuck in my throat when I saw him. Expecting some balding, nice-personality, let-himself-go single dad like Lydia usually tried to set me up with, I wanted to die right there on the bleachers when I looked at Roman. He looked to be in his early thirties, had dark thick hair that demanded to have fingers run through it, a casual weekend kind of stubble on his face, and bright green eyes I knew were laughing at me. His smile was the worst. Holding a hint of amusement, his lips curled up at what he saw.

Sweaty, possibly sunburned by that point, covered in gum and slobber and watered down soda, I was sure I looked like every guy’s definition of a bullet dodged. Heat was creeping up my neck and I knew I was half a second from breaking out in a full body blush. I wasn’t cute when I blushed. I looked like I had some sort of spotted fever when I blushed like that. Could this encounter get any worse?

About the Crazy Girl’s Handbook

Watching her two nephews and a puppy named Thor for the weekend was supposed to be fun for Greenly Kendrick. Sweating to death at a never-ending baseball game while getting gum in her hair, soda down her shirt, and an ice cream pedicure wasn’t part of the deal. Neither is finding out the best blind date she’s ever stood up is there to witness it all.

Longest. Weekend. Ever.

Except it doesn’t stop at one crazy weekend. Embarrassment turns into mortification, a head wound, and being patch up by her amused knight in shining armor.

Roman Carpenter can’t help laughing at Greenly’s mishaps, but for some reason, he sticks with her through it all. At least, until his ex-wife shows up and starts causing trouble. What started off as a strange, yet promising relationship, might be able to survive spiteful exes, but adding in a stalker that puts everyone on edge and pulls the police into the mix, might push everyone past their breaking point.

Buy the full novel

DelSheree Gladden

was one of those shy, quiet kids who spent more time reading than talking. Literally. She didn’t speak a single word for the first three months of preschool, but she had already taught herself to read. Her fascination with reading led to many hours spent in the library and bookstores, and eventually to writing. She wrote her first novel when she was sixteen years old, but spent ten years rewriting and perfecting it before having it published.Native to New Mexico, DelSheree and her husband spent several years in Colorado for college and work before moving back home to be near family again. Their two children love having their seventeen cousins close by. When not writing, you can find DelSheree reading, painting, sewing and trying not to get bitten by small children in her work as a dental hygienist.
Check out her latest books, get updates and sneak peeks of new projects at
And find her on social media

 

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