Monday, September 25, 2023

Honeymoon at Sea is Launched; the Reviews are Starting to Come in

Hola and Ahoy! 

My memoir Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat is out from Re:books of Toronto and there's plenty of buzz.

 Check out this excellent review written by Joel Dennstedt on the Medium platform. 

There are also plenty of editorial reviews on the book's Amazon page and some reader reviews are coming in, too. 

Follow my book marketing journey, including links to the podcasts and interviews I have done so far on my Substack page Honeymoon at Sea—it is free to join!

I hope to see you on my Substack page or meet you at a conference or a book talk in the near future.

hasta pronto!

Saturday, July 15, 2023

The Big Cover Reveal Post is Here!

Click this link to visit my new Substack newsletter site, Honeymoon at Sea, where you can see the full book cover, read all the archived posts from this website, plus see new posts each week. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

I'm moving to Substack, please join me there!

Here is the link to my new Substack newsletter and site, Honeymoon at Sea, where you can read all the archived posts from this website, plus see new posts each week. 

It is free to subscribe, so I hope you will join me there, so I can welcome you aboard on this new voyage!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

What We All Lose When We Ban Books

 Recently, I was writing the Acknowledgements for my upcoming memoir, Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself Living on a Small Boat. Before I got into the myriad people and groups who helped me, I wrote this: "My first and last gratitude is to my parents, who taught me to love reading and writing. They read a lot. They read widely. Most important, they never forbid us to read any book." I wasn't expecting that last sentence when I started typing. Sometimes, we don't actually know how important something is to us, until we start writing about it. 

    In the last few years, I've been appalled to see how large swaths of our country have been slipping backwards in terms of human rights, by limiting the personal rights and freedoms of certain citizens. One way this is happening is through banning books. Let's face it, banning books is basically banning thought. As someone wisely said, "If you're afraid that books might change someone's thinking, you're not afraid of books, you're afraid of thinking."  


    Looking back, I can't imagine my childhood without books. Certain books I read helped me to deal with issues in my own life, like Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. I would have hated to have that book be unavailable, deemed too adult for my ten-year-old self. Or Blume's book Forever, for that matter, which I read a few years later. I've always believed that shielding children from reading books on controversial subjects is like bleeping out "bad" words; it makes no sense, since kids who already know the word won't be harmed by hearing it, and neither will those youngsters who don't know the word—though it might trouble the parent who has to deal with the question of what that word means, when they are asked. And of course, troubled parents are the people who most often start these book bans, often backing up their fears with religion.

    I was so moved by reading the book Melissa (previously published as George), and I kept thinking, as I read it, of the immense good it could do to some scared, lonely child who read it and figured out why they were always so confused and unsure about their gender. I cannot imagine that any book could make someone confused and unsure about their gender, but reading about the subject might engender some empathy for other people, or it might raise questions about gender, and aren't caring and curiosity still considered good things?

    The strange thing about all the fear people have about everything from "dirty" books to the supposed "grooming" and "sexualization" of children is that untold generations of people have grown up surrounded by nothing but heterosexual role models and a significant percentage of those generations of people have grown up to realize (and some have realized long before they were grown) that they were different, that their life was going to diverge from the lives of their parents and their peers. No one knows why, but what does that matter? It is clear that, over many many years, most LGBTQIA+ people were raised by people who were heterosexual, or at least behaved as if they were.

    Naturally, not all book banning has to do with sex. Lately, books have also been challenged due to the inclusion of what some people call "woke ideology." Often this means simply that the subject of the book —perhaps an unvarnished aspect of actual history, such as slavery and genocide in America—makes an adult uncomfortable, or guilty, and they want to spare their child the same feelings. But isn't the ability to experience the trials and woes of someone who is not like you one of the wonders of reading? I remember crying as I read The Diary of Anne Frank, and I wouldn't want to have grown up without that experience. I also cried when I read Sounder as a child, and, in my teens, when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Roots.

    How will we move forward as a society if we are unwilling to accept that all of our history, good, awful, and tragic, was a part of what led us to the present day? If being awakened to that is considered a bad thing, then what are we, as a people, to celebrate—staying asleep under a comforting blanket of ignorance? That is not a society that I want to be a part of, and I am willing to fight to keep future generations from growing up uneducated, unconscious, and unaware. I hope you will join me.

One way we can fight back is by joining groups who are actively resisting censorship and book bans. One of those groups is Pen America, others are Unite Against Book Bans and EveryLibrary. There are many others, both local and national; please search out a group in your community and support them in whatever ways you can. I will be grateful, and so will future readers.

I'll be posting more about my book's upcoming publication, along with a couple more book reviews, very soon. Hope your summer is going swimmingly.

Hasta pronto!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Perfect Summer (Beach-and-Poolside) Read: "Most Hated" by Kara Alloway

For those of you who want to reconsider what a "summer read" really is, and what it might also be or become in our changing times, check out this great LitHub article by my friend and client Jasmin Iolani Hakes, author of the debut novel Hula. You know from my last post here that I am a big fan of Hula; I highly recommend the article, which really resonated with me.

For those of you who just want me to recommend a fun, light, catty summer book for reading by the pool or ocean (or lounging by the fire, if you're in New Zealand or Australia), you are in luck, since the debut novel by Kara Alloway, Most Hated will fit the bill perfectly. Alloway, the self proclaimed "villain protagonist of the Real Housewives of Toronto" is also a former fashion and beauty editor, television and radio host, and most important in the context of Most Hated, a reality TV show producer.  

Clearly, the woman knows her stuff. The book has all the drama—and melodrama—of a reality TV show, but with plenty of insight into what makes someone choose to air their dirty laundry (and clean lingerie!) on air for the whole world to dissect their actions and reactions. So, if you like your beach books to be full of intrigue, and to keep you guessing until the last few pages, pre-order Most Hated  right now; it hits the streets May 30.

I have to add that this fast and funny read is as timely and perfect for the zeitgeist as some much more serious (and truly boring) books out there. The moment we are in might just be the perfect time to examine our society's obsession with not just reality TV and influencers, but the pursuit of perfection in our bodies and in life, as it is viewed/judged by an audience. And the price we all risk paying, as far as our mental and physical health.

In case you wonder what else I've been up to, when I am not reading books for review, it is quite a lot, which is why you didn't see a post in April (was there an April this year?). This soon-to-be published author has been hard at work with Deanna, my editor—who I thankfully respect and admire—doing the final content edits and rewrites to my memoir, currently titled Honeymoon at Sea: How I Found Myself on a Small Sailboat (get the double entendre?). 

The manuscript is going off to the copyeditor this week to correct all the little errors my final content corrections have no doubt introduced, and also has been sent to my first pre-production reviewers. Now I wait...for the next pass, for some feedback, and hopefully for some positive blurbs for the book cover. Waiting is something I am very good at. NOT!

Stay tuned for more on my book's progress, and perhaps next time a blurb or two. And then there's the fun of seeing the book cover. Needless to say, I'm very proud and excited, and I hope you'll be here with me for all of it.

Hasta pronto!

In the interests of full disclosure, Most Hated is the next book coming out from my fabulous publisher re:books, a woman-owned small press based in Toronto, Canada. Re:books is the brain child of Rebecca Eckler, a prolific author who has a great sense of humor, which is one of my prerequisites for any team I join, in any pursuit. She's also a dynamic book coach, so for those of you who need an extra push to help you get that darn book out there, check the link on the re:books home page.