We’re pretty excited to read about Publishers Weekly’s BookLife Prize assessment of our latest book, Bay State Skye. We’ve gotten wonderfully positive comments from readers, and now to hear that critics like it as well, we couldn’t ask for anything more. Below is their assessment:
Publishers Weekly BookLife Prize Review:
Inspired by true events, this well-researched intriguing novel exposes the occupational hazards embedded in the Gloucester, Mass., fish and seafood trade in 1990. Vivid, pungent, and layered in deceit, the story verges on a whistle-blowing, eye-opening look at a lucrative industry as opposed to a work of fiction.
Backed by countless interviews and the author’s firsthand knowledge and experience, the carefully-edited narrative reveals time and place through authentic descriptions and colloquialisms. The author’s tendency to hyper-focus on minute details creates an experience to be savored, rather than quickly devoured.
Illegal acts on the ocean, a popular theme in fiction, may encompass any profession, yet this memorable book stands apart—an intricately-planned historical immersion in Cape Ann that will make an indelible impression on a jaded connoisseur of adventure novels.
Candid protagonists in this character-saturated novel take the story in many directions, with shady personalities at the helm. Their development spins doubt and suspense and triggers double-takes.
Thrilled to see my interview with Wendall Waters on the front page, above the crease. What’s exceptional about this interview is that Wendall not only showcased my books, but also asked questions to discover why I’ve chosen to work on the books that I’ve published. Check it out!
A new word for my vocabulary, maybe yours as well? I am very much a thalassophile!
Crossing the Bar Again
– A poem written by Ken Bowker (11/30/2014). This poem beautifully characterizes the life and sentiment of a modern day Gloucester lobsterman, as is depicted in the Bay State Skye. Thank you Roy Spittle for bringing this poem to my attention.
In the slosh and tumble of waves, around ledges,
at the favored lobster spots close to shore, the white working boat
maneuvers about rocks, gear shift growling,
runs down on pots, the men scooping them up,
hauling traps aboard, pulling the writhing bugs out, checking length
sometimes tossing most of them back in
thinking its time to shift the pots further offshore.
It seems the hold is never quite full,
when they turn the helm to home.
It’s not all work, for there is a time for awe and wonder in going
to and fro, in foggy uncertainty, or clear air
when the horizon is crisp and stark,
or when clouds boil, flowering in blue sky,
or when the black of a coming storm menace,
or in the calm of sunrise, waters flat as can be,
never the same from day to day,
but same never-the-less. You’re on your own out there,
with faith’s wafer and wine certainty and protection
warding off threat of wave and rock
in the heave and thrust of swells
uneven footing, a dangerous winch cable
screaming on its spool.
There is a muscle taut energy
in this small 35 foot lobster boat
heir to the fast Grand Bank fishing schooners,
proud large trawlers, the great hauls.
These rock crawling scavengers
are all that’s left to harvest now, bend the muscles to.
It’s traps now, was nets then, always the haul,
the heft of the prey on the deck
in the heave and rolling wave of the sea.
The big thing to think about
what many of us do not
is who and where we are in this world.
So few know, but those whose working rhythm
is embedded in it, do.
A Saint Joseph medallion dangles from the rear view mirror
of their pickup loaded with traps and pots
and its ‘screw you’ bumper stickers.
But when some ignorant ass**** on autopilot
with cutters on his floaty yacht’s prop
tears through a line of pots all the day’s money’s gone
What’s Saint Joseph to do then
you have to keep asking.
Oh, they’re not paying what they used to, 3 buck a pound,
not worth it sometimes when they’re 10 bucks afterward.
Everyday, passing by the Dog Bar, offloading the stuff,
tired, returning to the slip, tie up, disembark
and, bone hope weary, might take to drink again.
In the coherence of this life,
(the faith and ceremonies, a cardinal’s blessing
once a year doesn’t do much)
no matter how small it seems
faith punctuates the daily chores,
but it’s the rhythm of the lobsterman’s life
out and back again, bait and reap
that sustains as it does for all working men,
the doing of it.
A new crop of freshly hatched horseshoe crabs disappearing into the ocean. Wonderful to see!
The Seine Boat Race is another time honored event that takes place every summer in Gloucester during St. Peter’s Fiesta. It was from this event that the dory race teams were selected to compete against the strong teams from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Both these events are featured in our new book, Bay State Skye. Enjoy the video!
Guaranteed to make you smile! A short video of the 2017 Greasy Pole Contest, a Gloucester tradition that’s included in my new book, “Bay State Skye.” You’re welcome!
I most often blog about seaside topics, but I thought I’d put my publisher hat on for a moment and speak to the dilemma of submitting an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of a book for review. Most of us who have published books in the past have sent advanced reader copies to newspapers, magazines, and review houses in hopes of scoring a review. More often than not, when the book’s publication date arrives, you find, to your dismay, that most of your ARC books haven’t been reviewed, yet many of them have been posted on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s marketplace for sale, priced below your selling price. It’s difficult to swallow the reality that books that you’ve sent to reviewers in hopes of receiving a review are now for sale against your own book on the very first day of your book’s debut.
The solution for many author/publishers is to take out their medium point, black Sharpie and write on their book in a firm hand, “Advanced Reader Copy Only – Not For Sale!” But is this a fair solution to the problem of pirated books? As Linda Richards states, “People who review books love books. This is fact. If you try to take away a book’s value before sending it out to reviewers, you will show reviewers a book without value. And a book without value is certainly not worthy of review.” James A. Cox, editor-in-chief of Midwest Book Review adds, “Most (if not all) of my volunteer reviewers are book lovers for whom books are not mere merchandise but objects of art and beauty in their own right and that figures into their selection decision—and quite often into their review commentary as well.” What a dilemma!
So I sit here with my soon to be released book (6/22/2018), Bay State Skye, in hand, wondering what I should do. I don’t begrudge anyone who has taken the time to read and review a book that I’ve written the opportunity to sell it and earn some compensation for their time. But to those large and small reviewing systems who glance at your book’s cover, or notice your book is from an independent publishing house and immediately discard it without cracking it open, I don’t feel they are entitled to compensation because there was no service provided. In these cases, I feel that the firm or individual could donate the book to one of the many schools or organizations begging for books. That way, the author/publisher won’t lose precious sales, where the proceeds could make the difference of whether that author can afford to keep writing as a profession or not, and it would also help some very deserving books reach the hands of children or adults who would really enjoy them. This would be a win-win for everyone involved.
So will I deface my ARC copies of Bay State Skye that have just arrived back from the printer? After reading a few articles about the subject, I don’t believe I will. Instead, I’ll limit the quantity of books I send out for editorial reviewers.
How can you, as a book lover, help out this situation? If you see a book advertised on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s marketplace for an unusually low price, or with the proceeds promised to go to charity, or one of my favorites, “New, never read, from a smoke-free warehouse” (in other words, their home), please resist the temptation to purchase from these “businesses.” Instead, buy the book from the publisher who has burdened the cost of producing the book and developing the Amazon webpage at which you’re looking. And don’t forget to write reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and the like. They help out more than you can imagine and are so very much appreciated!