I am fortunate that most of my books have been chosen for publication by professional publishing companies. Not all, however. This has drawn me into the world of self publishing. The technology for every step of the publishing process — design, layout, printing, sales, publication of ebook and audiobook formats — is moving quickly, making self publishing more accessible than ever to authors, although it’s also a chaotic field when it comes to marketing, distribution and reviews. However, the lack of commercial interest in some of my work has led me to wade in. The result, so far, is two books:
The Sweetholm Story
Remembering an Ontario Family Farm
My mother enjoyed researching and writing local histories for churches and communities in the rural area where she lived. She started Drumlin Press as a vehicle for publishing them. She also taught memoir writing classes at her public library and began working on writing down her own memories of growing up on an Ontario farm. It expanded to include a detailed account of her parent’s lives and stories of her ancestors, interspersed with detailed accounts of how things were done on a farm before motor vehicles and electricity. She spent the last five years of her life, when she knew she was dying, completing the manuscript and choosing pictures for it from her family’s huge collection of photographs, going right back to the beginning of accessible photography. The earliest photograph in the book was taken in 1843.
After her death, I edited, laid out and published it. Mom designated some money in her will to print copies for every member of the family, but the book has also be purchased by individuals, museums and libraries with an interest in rural history. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
Gene and Aleta Sweet were an energetic and creative couple whose lifetime spanned a period of breathtaking change. When they began farming in 1914, methods had not changed greatly from those of Ontario pioneers. As they became available, the internal combustion engine, electricity and electronics transformed their lives and at the same time brought major changes to the society in which they lived The couple who began their married lives by moving their barn across the creek and up a hill to a new location using a horse and capstan, lived to witness a man walking on the moon.
The Sweetholm Story can be purchased for $36.95 from my Etsy shop, Crone Books. Etsy calculates the shipping cost based on your location.
The Little Dragons
Before the Kings came, the People of the Land had an agreement with the Dragons negotiated by the Dragon Priestesses, who could communicate with those fearsome beasts through their familiars, the Little Dragons. The Kings, however, knew only the way of the sword. In their war against the Dragons, they killed their smaller cousins as well, along with the Priestesses who cared for them. The revenge of the Dragons was disastrous for both peoples, forcing everyone to live their lives at night, when the Dragons sleep in their caves in the mountains.
Mother Peg, a Senior Healer of the Earth People, is determined to track down the persistent rumours that some of the doomed Dragon Priestesses shared their knowledge with Healers who sheltered them. On the other side of the Realm, powerful King Anglewart of the Westlands, as determined as Mother Peg to find the Little Dragons, sends a search expedition to the mountains.
Others become caught up in the quest: Kind Anglewart’s spirited wife, Queen Melisande, and their daughter, Liandra, apparently pregnant, although she denies ever lying with a man; Mother Peg’s servant, Maida, who dreams of becoming a Healer despite her origins as the daughter of a cheesemaker; Gleve, a newly confirmed Healer worried about what will happen to his beloved elderly teacher, Father Mallory, when he leaves; Keiran of Hanford, who survives the dangers of the King’s expedition to the Dragon caves, only to be beaten and left for dead by his own companions; Jessa and Ev, two lowly servants in the Women’s Retreat House, where young noble women commit themselves to craft and prayer, and widows retire to live out their days.
Danger surrounds each of these people, from not only the Dragons, but one another. They cannot know that each bears a unique clue to the secret knowledge of the Dragon Priestesses.
There are at least four published authors named Anne Bishop. One writes cookbooks, another writes nursing texts. The best known writes fantasy fiction. Our shared name has given rise to occasional questions, but has not been a problem. When I decided to experiment with writing fantasy fiction, however, this became an issue. As many readers of fantasy will know, Anne Bishop is very well known, with almost thirty novels to her credit, including the well-known Black Jewels Trilogy, and at least one collection of short stories. She has also copyrighted her/our name. I have no idea if a name copyright, an American one at that, would stick legally, but I would rather avoid the question. I decided I needed a fantasy pseudonym.
When I took the Humber College Creative Writing course in 2009, a few faculty and students were experimenting with attending international readings and workshops in Second Life, an online, user-created, virtual world. I chose the name Rowan Starsmith for my Second Life avatar and enjoyed creating her. When I decided to publish my experimental fantasy novel, it seemed natural that Rowan Starsmith would become my nom-de-plume.
Tigh na Cailleach
My tiny press is called Tigh na Cailleach — House of the Old Woman in Gaelic – after a mysterious structure in Glen Lyon, Scotland. A small artificial cave contains a set of eroded rocks representing the Cailleach (Earth Mother, Crone or Old Woman), her husband and children. They are moved outside on May 1 (Beltane) and back inside on October 31 (Sahmain), the traditional dates for moving cattle and sheep to their summer pastures in the hills and back to the crofts for winter, by some mysterious person. When we visited the area in 2011, the claim was that no one knew who did it, but I have since read that when the estate manager was dying, he confessed that it was him and passed the task on to the new estate manager. I used a photograph of the Tigh na Cailleach as the banner for my Etsy shop, Crone Books.
Individual copies of The Little Dragons can be purchased from Ingramspark Friends and Family Bookstore.
The audiobook and ebook are available from the Scribl website. Scribl has a “crowd pricing” system, where books start out free and gain a price as more people download them.
Bookstores can purchase the book and ebook from Lightning Source/Ingram Content Group