I am so proud to have received this comment from a former senior executive at Imperial Oil (Esso) which played a major role in all things oil and gas in the NWT, during Gordon's time in the north (and before and after, of course) specifically at Hay River, their Norman Wells Refinery and in the Arctic:
"I read your book a couple months back and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really interesting to hear about many of the places that I’ve visited over the years during my career and to hear about a remarkable man who came from nothing but was able to accomplish so much in such harsh conditions. You did a great job laying out the timeline of his life in an informative and entertaining way. The unique writing style of interspersing Gordon’s commentary was a novel approach. I also thought the pictures and maps were of great value. Many writers don’t take full advantage of these features in a story. (Sometimes imagination isn’t enough!!). Last but not least, it’s a high quality book that is both lovely to look at and handle unlike many paperbacks. So well done!! 10/10!"
Happy to say that I have just restocked INDIGO South Edmonton Common with A Métis Man's Dream! So far, we have sold over 25 copies from this location alone!
I "blogged" about insecurity the other day. Trapped in the dog days of a too smokey summer and a bit at loose ends, I was thinking my book selling had stalled and ideas were hard to come by. I was, to be honest, feeling pretty blah, when what to my "wondering (ears) should appear" but a call from Edmonton's Indie bookseller premiere that they had a cheque for me! And that they needed more books! So, thank you to Audrey's Books at 107 st and Jasper Avenue (with lots of parking right there!).
It was a good cheque too, the best so far and more money for the donations Gordon and I are giving to United for Literacy and Métis Education and betterment!
Audrey's has been wonderful to work with and they have a tremendous 'local' author section, a very extensive Edmonton, Alberta and Canadian history component and some very nice and knowledgeable people. Let us all do what we can to support local and Canadian retailers!
An author's thought: There is much to discourage anyone from writing a book. The time, worry and funds invested in your masterpiece far outweighs any possible financial or public result, unless your name happens to be King or Grisham, or the like. Most of the people who didn't know you before you became an author still don't know your name, and those who do are likely to be friends or critics. Some of the things you said you wish you could re-say, and many of the things you forgot or didn't find, or think of at the time haunt what you did say. And all of that is before you even think about approaching booksellers, magazines, the CBC, land other potential reviewers or promoters of your great efforts.Still, there is a pride and a sense of accomplishment to it all and a purpose that can become obsessive. I admit in my own case that my boldest daughter's complaints about me talking almost exclusively about "the book" to the exclusion of other important things is correct.
Then there is the human brain's strategic brilliance in the face of doing something with your writing. My own brain is quite adept at recalling negative comments from a potential agent, for example, just before I start to make a presentation. I also own a strong capability to talk myself out of approaching a bookseller. Rationalization kicks in. My book really wouldn't be of interest to his or her customers - it takes place too far north, it has too much on Cree Métis history and not enough on the Blackfoot; there is too much on tugboats and barges and not enough on exploration, or not enough on the captains, tugs and adventures North of 60. I seem to be able to actually find specific reasons why each individual book store or museum or gift shop should individually reject taking my book, well before I get to their doorstep.
So, it is with true thanks that I acknowledge a couple of dear friends who have stared into the abyss of the entrance of bookstores and museums and gift shops with me and then often almost literally pushed me to 'Go in there and talk to them!" Often, with the admonition, "What's the worst they can do?" (And it is true. Usually, the best happens). So far, the worst thing is that I buy more books and gifts than I leave behind!)
This insecurity is all related to promoting A Métis Man's Dream; From Traplines to Tugboats in Canada's North, which is an actual good and true story about important places, events and people. Imagine what will happen when I start to introduce my current writing project, which deals with the much more personal story of paddling my Red Canoe in an almost empty land?
We will jump off that bridge, as Lester Pearson used to say, when we get to it.
In the meantime, after all the angst about A Métis Man's Dream, consider how wonderful it is for an aspiring writer to receive, absolutely unsolicited, words like the following, from people you respect?
Here are a few of them:
" I had a chance to read your book, fittingly at Nonacho Lake this summer. Thoroughly enjoyed it..."
-Rob Kesselring, International tour guide, author of books and magazine articles, speaker, consultant.
"I am reading the Gill biography like I used to read Reader's Digest. Sort of all over the place. Chapters nicely sort [into] single stories. I am enjoying your writing Neil. Immersive, tight. Well done. Your Gill biography is a great read".
"Many talk of such an achievement [writing a book] but few have the courage and the persistence to actually do it. A great summer read! Two or three chapters a day, in my early morning hours, just when I need inspiration to just breathe- your book, the Gordon story, is a gem."
"Both Allan and I truly enjoyed the book. Thank You for writing such a Treasure. Much is seared in my mind."
-Margaret G. P.
"Congratulations, Neil on a compelling story of a northerner and the development and decline of “the old way” of business in NWT. I especially liked how you weaved Gordon’s fascinating story into the inevitable transformations wrought by economic, technological, infrastructure and political change over 100 years or so. There were lots of reminders of places that I have been up north, and some reminders that places like Liard Highway route that I have never driven. A major undertaking, and you can be proud of this accomplishment".
"Thoroughly enjoyed your tome. Fascinating story. Liked the reference to the big meeting with everyone stating their academic credentials and Gord bringing out his grade 11".
- John F.
"I enjoyed your book very much. So well written, and because I remember Gordon well, it awoke many memories. My ancestry too is Métis...What a privilege to have grown up in the north".
A Métis Man's Dream; From Traplines to Tugboats in Canada's North will be featured in the FriesenPress Catalogue distributed to bookstores and libraries throughout North America in early 2024. You can preview the spread below. Once published, the full catalogue will be free to view online.