Interview with Author P.H. Oliver of THE GYNESAURS

Author P.H. Oliver

Today I’m hosting the hilarious P.H. Oliver whose book, THE GYNESAURS, was the ONLY self-published novel to hit the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour long-list (ie. Top 10 funniest books in the country and one of Canada’s oldest literary awards). Full disclosure: I was lucky enough to be the freelance editor on this book (because who doesn’t like snorting coffee out of their nose when working?) and trust me – it’s extremely entertaining. So if you’re interested in all things GYN, giggling in bed (whilst reading 😉 ) and maybe, just maybe, finally writing that novel that’s been inside you all these years, then read on, my friend. (Or maybe you’re just bored at work and/or hiding from the children in the bathroom?)

Tell us a little bit about THE GYNESAURS.

THE GYNESAURS tells the story of four single women, past their reproductive prime, who work in an ob-gyn office. For that reason, they call themselves “The Gynesaurs”. They are united not only by their work, but by their personal lives, which are often as colourful as the patients who seek their counsel. One national critic described the book as “a bold, delightful, strangely edifying read,” perhaps because although it is a fictional work, it is inspired by true stories and medically factual, so it gives its readers a peek behind the sanctity of the clinic doors.

Who was your favourite character to write?

Choosing your favourite character is a bit like choosing your favourite child. You hope that you have invested all of them with something compelling, memorable and worthwhile – even the most minor of them (the characters, not your children). There are a couple of characters who were closely patterned after real people and these are the two that readers seem to have the most fun with. I asked the woman who inspired Carolina, the Italian Mafia member’s daughter, to read the book and tell me if there was anything she would like me to take out, in case anyone recognized her. She chastised me, saying that I hadn’t put her “best stuff” in. Auntie Ceri was my sister Christine, who died before the book was published. I didn’t need to make much up about these two intriguing women, they are unforgettable. Many of the other characters are composites who eventually become independent of the author’s will and dictated their own personalities.

How did you get so hysterical and what’s your best recipe for laughter?

The author and editor at THE GYNESAURS launch

I was a middle child of four, with three very accomplished sisters – being funny as what I was good at. My father was a strict, somewhat stern man who was easily undermined by his own sense of humour. Most people feared his disapproval, but I learned that I could manipulate him (and many other authority figures) by making them laugh. It became my singular pursuit to try to either get attention or get out of trouble by making people laugh. We also moved a lot and being funny helped “The New Girl” fit in fast. I got away with a lot. My best recipe for laughter is to surround yourself by people funnier than you – as someone once said, “If you’re the best in the class, you’re in the wrong class.”

How did you find the self-publishing process?

As a first timer, I found it frustrating – largely due to my inexperience and poor computer skills. I made a lot of errors which cost me extra money to change. It would be much easier the second time, as I would know and understand the process. Now, I hear that Createspace is no longer providing the service I purchased and that is disappointing. Also, they don’t pay foreign royalties unless hey amount to over $100.00 – with no alternative (last time I asked) to get that money back. Personally, I would probably investigate a local publisher or certainly a Canadian self-publishing organization for my next book. The good part is, is that I have a book on my shelf and that alone, is a great reward – well worth the money and effort spent.

How did it feel to be the only self-published book Long-Listed for the Stephen Leacock medal of Humour Award?

When I researched the 70 authors on the Stephen Leacock submission list, I felt like a fraud amongst so many impressive, award-winning authors, “a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake, into a drawing room full of dukes,” as W. H. Auden put it. I shook my head and contented myself with seeing my little effort listed beside their names. At least I had finally full-filled two of the three New Year’s Resolutions I had made for the last 20 years which were:
1. to write a book
2. to submit it to the Leacock Medal of Humour Competition
3. to lose weight.
Apparently the first two of these are easier to accomplish than the third. Upon hearing that I had made the Long List – Top Ten in that august list of writers, I literally ran around the house howling like a mad woman. It was a heady moment, and still is.

Any advice for aspiring authors out there?
I am 64 years old. The woman who won the Leacock Award, Jenifer Craig for GONE TO POT, is 84. . . keep writing.

Where can people purchase your book?
THE GYNESAURS is sold on all Amazon and Indigo sites.

Thanks P.H. and good luck with THE GYNESAURS!

*PS. If you’re looking for a freelance editor for your next project please don’t hesitate to reach out! Here’s what P.H had to say about working with Wildflower Literary (no wine was involved in the bribing of this message):

“Alisha combed through my 140,000 word manuscript offering many different strategies that I could employ to bring it down to  the recommended maximum word count  (under 100,000) for the genre in which it would be classified.  Readers have since told me that they were most impressed with the tightness and pace of the book, feeling that every line was worth reading.  There is no doubt in my mind that this high praise was due to Alisha’s keen instinct for what a reader wants and needs in order to keep turning the page.  Indeed, this, I would say, is the hallmark of Alisha’s own writing. She pointed out plot and character inconsistencies that I had missed, even after much scrutiny and gently curtailed my penchant for overly verbose descriptions.
She provides a thorough and discerning voice that will allow you to reconsider and/or validate your work from a fresh and knowledgeable perspective, always keeping the writer’s delicate ego in mind.  A pleasure to work with from beginning to end.”

 

CM Magazine Reviews SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS

Excerpt:

I really shouldn’t. I should be going home. I need to stop this. Whatever it is. But his gaze has a gravitational effect, like the moon on the waves, pulling me toward him.

“I thought you wanted to go for a swim.” My voice comes out as a whisper.

“I do,” he says, reaching for and pulling me up against his chest, lifting up my chin with a finger. “But first I want to do something else.”

“What’s that?” I hear myself ask. Only it doesn’t sound like me. The voice is low and throaty, and, dare I say it, seductive?

“This.” His lips settle on to mine. Sensations overwhelm me, all of them highly pleasurable, but there’s anxiety underneath.

He’s playing you. He’s good-looking. He’s rich. He can have anyone he wants. You’re so naïve. Why would he want a freckly little redhead with bruised shins and tree sap in her hair? Because he wants something from you.

 

Summer Constellations is Toronto based author Alisha Sevigny’s second young adult novel. Like Kissing Frogs, Summer Constellations is aimed directly at the hearts of young teen girls. This time Sevigny locates her novel in a less exotic location, a family run campground in Canada instead of the mountains of Panama. And, like Kissing Frogs, Sevigny again squeezes an environmental theme into her mostly romantic tale.

A looming financial crisis threatens the viability of the campground and drives the action of the story. Julia’s single mother is worn out from the maintenance of the campground, and the bills are piling up. While the summer begins with excitement for Julia – her summertime crush is due any minute – her mood switches to anger when her mother announces the possibility of selling the campground. Sevigny excels at pacing and is not afraid to pack a lot of action into a few pages. In rapid succession, Julia learns of her mother’s new plan, meets summertime boyfriend Dan, and guess what? – his new girlfriend Taylor and then runs off in a huff to the lakeshore where she promptly falls flat on her face in front of Nick Constantine.

In this moment, the only real flaw of the novel is exposed – and that is that we can smell the rest of the plot from here. From the moment Julia looks up and sees Eyes like midnight, jet-black hair and olive skin: he is the absolute definition of tall, dark and handsome, we know as surely as the stars twinkle in the sky on a warm summer’s night that Julia and Nick will end up together. We share Julia’s skepticism about Nick’s intentions – how could we not? But we learn to marvel right along with Julia that this rich, good looking, sophisticated, kind, funny young man – did I mention he plays in a band? – might fall for a much younger, temper tantrum prone teenager.

But once we’ve given in to this inevitability, the rest of novel goes down like a cool summer treat. Julia and Nick’s romance is sexy but not graphic, and most readers in the target demographic will be well satisfied with the many sensual, physical scenes.

Nick and his father are the brokers on the potential sale of the campground, adding a mysterious dimension to the plot. Is Nick romancing Julia to facilitate the sale? Will Nick dump her – like Dan did? Like Julia’s father did? Compounding Julia’s doubt is Nick’s enthusiastic involvement in her efforts to save the campground from the developers, the same developershe works for. Meanwhile, Julia’s little brother is fixated on a finding the treasure their grandfather once hinted at. Julia and Nick’s romance heats up as the plot complications pile on, and the novel races to an exciting, satisfying conclusion.

Summer Constellations is fun, romantic and might even stimulate some debate about the relationship between development and the environment. Sevigny also delivers interesting characters that we care about and who have problems that are reasonably relatable. More than anything though, this is a classic, steamy summer romance that young teen girls will love.

Highly Recommended.

BUY A BOOK HERE! ALREADY HAVE A COPY? GIFT IT TO A FRIEND!

Charlotte Duggan is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

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SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS = The Perfect Summer Read!

Sevigny’s (Kissing Frogs, 2014) portrayal of the emotional and financial struggles that can accompany illness in America ring true. Julia is a brave, independent, and competent female character who shows that you don’t need to be a femme fatale to be lovable. A pleasant coming-of-age story for fans of teen romance.
– Kirkus Reviews

This is a fast-paced, humorous and romantic story, with realistic dialogue and a cast of interesting and relatable characters. The relationship dynamics between Nick and Julia are immensely readable, but teens will also be driven to keep reading to discover what happens to Julia and her family’s campground. VERDICT Recommended for collections serving teens, especially where romance is in demand.
– School Library Journal

Readers will enjoy Julia’s droll narration and appreciate her tough situation and conflicted feelings for Nick. Sure, the story evolves into a fairy-tale romance with a miraculous resolution, but who wouldn’t want to daydream about a perfect prince showing up to help save the day?
– Booklist

I devoured this story in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down and found myself captivated by the romance sparking between Nick and Julia. There’s so much bad in their past that it helps them to bond and it’s also very real to others who have dealt with relatives dying or the impending loss of a home. The ending is one of the best I’ve read in a while and I loved how everything came together.
– YA Bookshelf

A coming of age tale with an environmental angle, Summer Constellations, sparkles with humour and sizzles with a dreamy romance, hitting all the right notes, leaving the reader satisfied. An excellent choice for those who enjoy a smart summer romance layered with varied and well developed characters who are as natural and refreshing as a summer breeze off the lake.”
– BR Myers

If you have never been so far into the wilderness that there was no light pollution at all, you are missing out on an incredible experience. Those of us who have been there, will recognize the author’s authenticity. It is impossible to fake a proper description of the vastness of the summer sky at night if you’ve never seen it with your own eyes. This setting is the perfect place for romance to bloom… This is a feel good tale about overcoming adversity when the odds are stacked against you, with a side of young love that will have teen readers sighing with anticipation and older readers looking back at that time in their lives with nostalgia.
– Amie’s Book Reviews

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Book Trailer for SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS (extended version ;)

Watch the author make a fool out of herself promoting her new book, SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS!

Available for 30% off at Chapters Indigo!!! (Methinks it’s a Mother’s Day promotion?)

The hardcover is also discounted on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble

Also available at fine book retailers everywhere! Order a copy, support a Canadian writer and get a great read in the process.

And if you’re lovely enough to have already bought the book, please leave a review and help keep this author writing!

xoxo

Alisha

 

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Book Tour & Giveaway Links for Summer Constellations

I’m excited to announce the book tour for SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS, which will be taking place over the next two weeks. KCP Loft will be partnering with Rock Star Book Tours to feature author interviews, guest posts and sneak-peak excerpts in advance of the book’s May 1st release date. Join in the fun for the chance to win great prizes and take part in exciting giveaways!

April 23 – Bookhounds – Author Interview  & Giveaway ALISHA SEVIGNY has wonderful words! SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS Ends 5.7

April 24 – Jessica’s Reading Room – Review 
“If Summer Constellations  had been published when I was a teenager, it would have most likely been one of my favorite books! It is a perfect summer read for a teen girl… I am not the target demographic for this novel, but I still enjoyed it! If you have a teen daughter, let her read this novel.”

April 24th – Review & Giveaway from UK site Books and Ladders!
“Overall, this is a great novel. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a good beach read and summer romance novel.”

April 25th – This is One for The Books – Review
“The imagery was so well written that I felt like I was sitting on the dock at the cottage—meanwhile it was probably close to -20 degrees Celsius and snowing outside…its target audience is 14-18; however, it can definitely be enjoyable for someone older than that.”

April 26th – The Candid Cover – Review 
“Summer Constellations tells the story of a headstrong girl fighting to save her family’s campsite while also falling for its potential buyer’s son. I always love summery reads, but I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in which the main character owns a campsite. This book is light yet serious, and it contains a strong bond between siblings bound to make you smile.”

April 27th – Here’s to Happy Endings – Review & Giveaway
“This is such a beautiful and emotional novel, from the inside out… I loved it from the very beginning.  The emotional story that the author has created, with both plenty of focus on the family and yet a summer love interest, really tugs at the heart.  This is the perfect book to enjoy for the summer, whether you are reading it at the lake or beach or curled up on a porch swing with a glass of iced tea on a warm summer night.”

April 29th – Hello Jenny Reviews Review & Author Interview
“This book is such an amazing story. It definitely isn’t your every day summer contemporary.. this is the perfect book to read when you are looking for a summer read with more depth… This book really took me by surprise. I am not HUGE into contemporaries. They all seem like a regurgitation of a previous contemporary with some name changes. But not this book. I found the authors writing to be a breath of fresh air and the story, while ordinary, was still extraordinary. If you are building a Summer reading list then please make sure this book is on it!”

April 30th – Wonder Struck Synopsis and Giveaway

May 1st – Novel Novice – Author Interview and Giveaway

5/2/2018- laura’s bookish corner – Review and Giveaway

5/3/2018- Simply Daniel Radcliffe – Review and Giveaway

5/4/2018- Pretty Little Library – Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

 

 

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German Cover of Summer Constellations!

Check out the gorgeous German cover of SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS (translated to MY SHOOTING STAR SUMMER) coming May 20th/18 from the fabulous Ravensburger. And below, my beautiful North American cover, which is available now for pre-order from KCP Loft and launches May 1st! (Fun Fact: Pre-orders count towards the first week of sales, helping to make it more likely a book will hit bestselller lists!)

Out May 20/18 with Ravensburger in Germany.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Available for pre-order on Amazon, Chapters, B&N and other fine retailers in Hard Cover AND Paperback!

5 Reasons to Pre-Order a Book

Available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, Chapters Indigo and other fine retailers!

Summer Constellations comes out in two months! If you’ve pre-ordered the book, please let me know and I will send a signed postcard of this gorgeous cover designed by the talented Emma Dolan! (It makes a fab bookmark 😉 )

How does pre-ordering help authors? Lots of ways! Here are some below:

1. Lock in discount prices and great giveaways! 

Most publishers will offer discounted rates for pre-orders, so it’s a win-win! In addition, they or the author may throw in fun incentives for readers. For example, see postcard promo mentioned above.

2. Pre-orders help build buzz for launch day.

Giving people the chance to buy the book in advance increases anticipation and allows for buzz to (hopefully!) build. Plus, there’s the added bonus of not having to remember to buy the book – it just shows up on your doorstep. Who doesn’t love seeing the Amazon delivery person pull up with a package that you’ve half-forgotten about ordering? (Or is that just me? 😉 ).

3. Pre-orders increase the odds a book may hit a bestseller list.

This one’s huge! Pre-orders count toward first-week sales, and since many bestseller lists are calculated on a single week’s worth of sales, bundling those early sales into that first week gives authors their best chance of hitting a bestseller list, which in turn, helps the overall life of the book (and the author).

4. Pre-orders encourage retailers to increase the amount of books they order.

When buyers for retailers like Amazon, B&N and Chapters Indigo see strong pre-order numbers, they’ll likely increase their initial order, which brings more books into stores and increase the chance of people coming into contact with the author’s work.

5. Support your Author Friend/Family Member/Person You Used to Go to High School With and Kinda Like Still

Let’s get personal. Writing can be a solitary, intense and extremely tumultuous gig, (there’s a reason Hemingway drank 😉 ). Most authors never make over a few thousand a year (if that!) or sell more than a couple hundred copies of their book. Pre-ordering demonstrates your love and support for the author, who, more often than not, leans heavily on their friends and family to encourage them to keep making their art, even when times are tough. (At least I know I do!)

So there you have it! Five reasons to pre-order from your favourite author person. Of course, ordering the book at any time is still just fine and dandy, and definitely deserving of a profuse amount of hugs and kisses.

xoxo

Alisha

PS. Kirkus reviews Summer Constellations below!

KIRKUS REVIEW

Recent high school graduate Julia Ducharme’s summer is off to a rough start.

Her best friend, Paige, is traveling to Japan to visit relatives, her longtime crush has shown up with a gorgeous girlfriend, and her mom has announced that she is thinking of selling their family campground and home. Julia’s little brother Caleb is recovering from Guillain-Barré syndrome and is old enough to realize—with distress—that their financial troubles are connected to his long illness. After receiving the terrible news that her home may be sold, Julia meets a beautiful black-haired, olive-skinned stranger on the docks and spills her guts to him. She is shocked and angry to discover that the young man is Nick Constantine, son of the property developer who is looking to buy their campground. Julia and Nick are thrown together, and Nick falls in love both with the campground and Julia, deciding to do all that he can to help them keep their place, or at least keep its integrity intact. Sevigny’s (Kissing Frogs, 2014) portrayal of the emotional and financial struggles that can accompany illness in America ring true. Julia is a brave, independent, and competent female character who shows that you don’t need to be a femme fatale to be lovable.

A pleasant coming-of-age story for fans of teen romance. (Fiction. 14-18)

 

Tips and Tricks for those Writing (or thinking about writing) a Book!

Hi, Everyone!

Being a writer is full of ups and downs – aching disappointments like when your lovely indie press closes up shop 🙁 and pee-your-pants happy moments like when someone tells you how much they loved your work! 🙂 (*I may have several more of this type than the average person, having had two children).

I plan to share it all here from the very beginning, from inspiration to publication with a series of posts on everything from writing habits, choosing your setting, developing your characters, plot escapades, editing, editing and more editing, and the arduous road to getting published. Drawing on my experiences from both sides of the coin as a writer AND a former literary agent, my mission is to inspire anyone out there who has ever thought about or wanted to write a book, or who just wants to be entertained!

If there are any particular subjects you’re interested in or would like to learn more about (for example: What are agents really looking for in a query letter?), please leave a comment below and I will do my best to cover them!

I leave you with one of my favourite (and very popular) quotes on writing from Ernest Hemingway.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.”

Let’s bleed together!

Alisha

(PS. That sounds a little creepy, but you get the idea).

An image evoking the world I wanted to create for readers of Kissing Frogs!

 

Giveaway Winner Announced!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered last month’s giveaway! Watch the video to see who won an autographed copy of John Green’s TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN and signed ARC of SUMMER CONSTELLATIONS!

Stay tuned for more fun contests and giveaways as we gear up for launch May 1st! Links to pre-order below!

xoxo

Alisha

Pre-order Summer Constellations in hard cover or paperback on Amazon (US)

Pre-order Summer Constellations in hard cover or paperback on Amazon (Canada)

Pre-order Summer Constellations in hard cover or paperback on Chapters (Canada)

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