Signal boost

Gentle reader, do you love a book and/or its author? Do you want to support said book/ author? There are so many ways! Author Amy Stuart blogged about this very thing on her own website and it inspired me to write a post script.

1. Obviously if you can afford it, buy copies for all your friends and family. Give the book out to random strangers at Christmas time while shouting "ho, ho, ho" in a jolly voice.

2. Borrow the book from your library. Writers get royalties for every copy the library buys. And there's also a system that tracks how often a book is borrowed and we get a bit of money for each of those loans as well.

3. If a book isn't available, ask your librarian to order it in. This year, I've taken to ordering books that have flown under the radar. Small press authors, writers who are trans, brown, black, queer, graphic novelists...these are the authors whose books are less likely to get attention. (Don't be fooled by the few of us who you see in the spotlight. We are the minority of the minority.)

4. And speaking of libraries! If you've bought a book and loved it but aren't a hoarder like me, donate it to your local library. You might even get a tax receipt.

5. As Amy said, good reviews on Amazon, Chapters, Barnes and Nobel, and GoodReads are the gifts that keep on giving.

6. Do you have teacher/ professor friends? Maybe just slip a copy of the book into their hands and whisper: curriculum. You'll be doing the author and the students a favour.

7. Come to our events. We love meeting readers.

8. If you really love a book, don't be shy about telling the author.

And now a story. One evening in the spring, I was waiting to deplane in the St. John's airport, feeling emotionally and physically wrung out from book promotion and travel, missing home and my mathemagician something fierce, cross-eyed from a headache, and desperate for the loo. And I was feeling sorry for myself. It's only May, I thought. How am I ever going to keep up this pace until Christmas? Wah, wah, wah. A tiny violin played a sad song for me. And then a total stranger with the face of an angel stood up from her seat, looked me right in the eyes, and said (apropos of nothing): "I loved your book, by the way." In that moment it felt like the kindest words ever spoken. Before I became a writer, I was meek about reaching out to authors. I only did it twice. Don't be shy. You have no idea how much it means, those four magical words: "I loved your book."

Status of the Artist

This morning the provincial government announced their new Status of the Artist legislation in a press conference at the Arts & Culture Centre. I was pleased to be asked to give a reading at the event. To be offered a podium and a microphone is to be given a position of privilege. So I used that privilege to say a few words before my reading. Here they are:

"I grew up in a home with very few books. My parents are not big readers and back when I was a kid there wasn’t a lot of money for extras. But my town had a great library so there was always a tower of paperbacks on the floor by my bed. Without those books, I would never have discovered the joy of reading. And without the vibrant cultural institutions in this province, I would never have become a writer. The Writers' Alliance, ArtsNL, the Arts & Letters Awards, the classes at MUN and their writers-in-residence - these were the crucial resources that made my career possible.

As writers, we have been very concerned about the impact of austerity, not just on our livelihoods but on the options available for tomorrow’s writers and artists. I hope that in enacting this Status of the Artist legislation the government is signalling a renewed commitment to the arts. We stand, just steps away from a public library, my public library, and I hope this too has meaning, that it indicates a commitment to literacy and the government-funded resources that make literacy possible."