Monday, October 27, 2014

A press release comes to life

So here's what I've been doing of late: writing press releases and other promotional material.

What do you think of this one?

New Brunswick Christmas novel supports McAdam Railway Station restoration

When he sat down to begin writing his latest work of fiction, Fredericton author Mark Walma knew he wanted to create a Christmas story “about New Brunswick, for New Brunswickers”.

The 49-year-old transplanted Ontarian is responsible for the successful Abigail Massey at McAdam Station children’s stories which, over the past two years, have sold more than 2,000 copies in support of the restoration of the historic McAdam Railway Station and Hotel in southwestern New Brunswick.

When it came to penning the next instalment in the Abigail Massey series, however, Walma decided he wanted to write a broader tale that not only would feature the characters he brought to life in the original three story books but would also bring together New Brunswick’s three major cultural groups – French, English and First Nations – in a Christmas story.

“This province has a rich literary tradition, with many wonderful poets, playwrights and authors, both past and present,” Walma explained. “I’m hopeful that my new Abigail Christmas novel will be considered worthy of taking its place with some of the wonderful New Brunswick Christmas stories that have been written in the past.”

Mark spent much of the latter part of 2013 researching and planning his new novel, culminating in A McAdam Station Christmas, a thrilling but heart-warming tale set against the background of a blizzard that paralyzes the province the day before Christmas.

The new book is, like the earlier Abigail Massey books, beautifully designed and illustrated by the author’s sister, Lynn Walma. Net proceeds, after printing costs have been paid, go to the McAdam Historical Restoration Commission.

“It’s an adventure story, first and foremost,” Walma said. “As a result of the massive storm, a varied group of people from different backgrounds is thrown together and forced to work together to attempt a daring rescue.”

Like all of the Abigail stories, the new novel takes place in 1941, with Canada at war and the McAdam Station serving as the gateway to the east for Canada’s war effort. It is written for young people (ages 8 and up) but, Walma hopes, adults will enjoy it too.

“I like to think it has something for everyone,” he said with a smile. “And the proceeds are still going to help restore one of New Brunswick’s historic and architectural treasures – the McAdam Station – so everybody wins.”

The novel is priced at $15, GST included, and is available at Artful Persuasion (York Street) and Covey Basics (Prospect Street) in Fredericton, at Simply Local, Eh (Water Street) in Saint John, in Woodstock at the Farm and Craft Market and Covey Basics, at W.W.E. Smith Store in Harvey Station and at several locations in McAdam (the Village Office, the Scotiabank and the Station itself).

There will be a pre-launch event, held in cooperation with Artful Persuasion and NB Liquor’s Saturday Sips wine-tasting event, on Saturday, November 1 from 11 to 3 at The Station on York Street in Fredericton.

The official launch of A McAdam Station Christmas will take place the following week, on Sunday, November 9 at 2 p.m. at the McAdam Railway Station and Hotel.

The author will also be making book-signing appearances on specific dates in November and December at the Boyce Farmers’ Market in Fredericton and at the special Sunday Christmas Markets, also at the Boyce Market. Check out for details.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Alumni magazines might just want to feature you...

Here's an idea on how to promote your writing: contact the alumni magazine of any and all colleges or universities with which you have been affiliated and see if they'd be interested in writing a feature about you and your creative endeavours.

Even if they're not, they will likely want to mention you in their "Books by XXX School Authors" section.

It's cheap and fairly easy. And I'm as surprised as anyone to find myself writing that.

I was back in Ontario this past week, you see, and thought, "Why not?" So first I dropped in on the editorial people at the alumni magazine for the law school I attended in the early 1990s. I expected yawns and suspicion.

What I got was keen interest, a modicum of excitement and a tape recorder dropped on the table in front of me for an on-the-spot interview. How exciting!

And when the editor told me that, once the article was written and published (both online and in the print magazine), it would be her job to try to interest other media in the story, including national media like the Globe and Mail and CBC TV and Radio.

Wow. I never thought they'd take that on for me.

Emboldened by that success, I then approached the alumni magazine of the University where I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees in English. Would they be interested? Certainly would. It might not be until sometime next year but still...

I know the fact that my books are published to raise money to support a historic and architectural gem probably makes the story all that more enticing but I think it is still worth a try even if you're writing and publishing for your own benefit.

And you get to meet some interesting, talented writers along the way!