A Daughter’s Gift – 10th Anniversary Edition
A Daughter’s Gift – 10th Anniversary Edition

Every summer while I was growing up, we would spend two weeks at the most beautiful beach in the world. It wasn’t sandy, and the waves that crashed into the shore to awaken me every morning as I lay in my dark green sleeping bag were far too cold to surf or swim through. Sometimes the sun shone and it was hot. Other times the beach was shrouded in a cold, bone-chilling fog that all but hid the nearby rugged cliffs. Sometimes there was even cold, driving rain, the kind that comes at you sideways and makes it impossible to stay dry. It didn’t matter. This beach called Bellevue on the rugged island of Newfoundland was, to me, the most beautiful place in the world. Whether the sun was shining or fog swirling through the campsite, I would awaken in … Continue reading

The Champions of 1940
IPPY Silver for A Daughter’s Gift
IPPY Silver for A Daughter’s Gift

WATERLOO, ON – Ten years after its original release, the powerful story of a father-daughter relationship that defies the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease has won an international award. The special tenth anniversary edition of A Daughter’s Gift, by Canadian author Jacqui Tam, has won an Independent Publisher Book Awards –– or ‘IPPY’ –– silver medal.

“This book is my dad’s story,” Jacqui says. “I’ve always hoped sharing our experiences could help the families of people struggling with Alzheimer’s. To receive this kind of recognition is truly an honor.”

The IPPY awards accept submissions from independent and university publishers, and this year received more than 5,200 entries from 10 countries. A Daughter’s Gift took silver in its Memoir category, with gold going to a title published by Michigan State University Press. Other winners came from publishers such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the White House Historical Association, and Princeton University Press.

A Daughter’s Gift, Jacqui’s first work, serves as the cornerstone for the book list of her family’s award-winning independent publishing house, Iceberg Publishing. With Tam as its editor-in-chief, Iceberg celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2012, and has been noted for its innovative approach to the use of new storytelling platforms, such as ebooks.

“We’re a small, family-run publishing company, but we like to punch above our weight,” explains Kenneth Tam, Jacqui’s son and fellow Iceberg author.

Recent days have indeed been busy for Waterloo-based Iceberg Publishing. Last week, the company won a Hermes Gold marketing award for one of its book websites, championsof1940.com, while Kenneth was invited to Halifax to specially donate a selection of his science fiction novels to the Royal Canadian Navy, and Canada’s Naval Memorial, HMCS Sackville.

While still accommodating Iceberg’s current release schedule, both Jacqui and Kenneth plan to travel to New York City later this month, for the IPPY Award Ceremony in Manhattan on May 29, 2013.

“We’re very glad of the opportunities we’ve had, and recognition we’ve received of late,” Jacqui concludes. “We look forward to continuing to tell stories that encourage people to look beneath the surface. Forgive the pun, but A Daughter’s Gift is just the tip of the Iceberg.”

Friday Favorite: The Gift of Maya Angelou
Friday Favorite: The Gift of Maya Angelou
It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a new Author Note, and I offer an apology to my regular readers for that. I’ve actually been writing a lot in the last couple of months –– a project that had been idling for quite some time is back in full swing, and that’s occupied any time I’ve had at the keyboard. There's also a tight deadline I'll explain another day. When I grabbed my MacBook Air last night I had initially intended to dive back in and get started on the next chapter, but I realized I needed to give my subconscious a little more time to do its work so that the words would be ready to come. In return, my subconscious reminded me there was an Author Note I’d been planning to write for close to two months now… which just happened to be perfect for a Friday Favorite: I was at my desk when I read the Facebook post in late May saying Maya Angelou had died. I'd picked up her most recent book for my iPad just a few weeks before, as well as a new ebook compilation of all the memoirs that already sit on my shelf –– I wanted to re-read the earlier works after I’d read the new. When I read the news I literally felt shivers all over my body. As I told Peter when I got home, they lasted so long I began to wonder if they were ever going to ease. All I could think was what an incredible voice we had lost. All I could think was how fortunate the world was to have had her voice at all. I first became familiar with Angelou and her work when she read On the Pulse of the Morning at U.S. President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. I was in Chicago at the time, and was riveted in front of the TV when I should have been in a conference session. The power of her words and her delivery was staggering. Listening to her was like listening to music that wasn’t music. Rhythmic. Intense. Rich. Authentic. Beautiful. And silence that demonstrated how the space between words serves to amplify their meaning… if you allow it. Not long after watching that broadcast I purchased a small hardcover version of Pulse and kept it with me at my office so I could pick it up from time to time and read through. Over the next months and years, I acquired and read all the memoirs published to that point. Then, at an International Association of Business Communicators conference in Boston in the late 1990s, she was the closing keynote speaker. I was in the room when she held thousands of people spellbound with her story –– her years of silence, her beautiful grandmother, her years of dancing, and singing. And her words... words that would have left the world so much poorer, had she never uttered them. Words, like those in the favorite quotes and video below… that serve always to inspire me.

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you. ••• When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we're capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. ••• You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ••• The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.

Kenneth Tam: Special Guest Star
Kenneth Tam: Special Guest Star
It's been a quiet season for author notes, but with good reason. New projects are waiting in the wings (one of which I'll be blathering about soon) but in the meantime, the regular schedule for Champions continues: Tuesday, July 29, will see the launch of Outports. And it'll feature a special guest star. One of the great privileges any writer enjoys is the ability to include real people in his or her fictional worlds. Obviously I've done this a lot –– Defense Command is riddled with the stolen souls of my friends, including everyone from Wes Pellew (I wonder who he is) to the irrepressible Schwartz T. Babcock. But for the most part, the inclusion of these characters has been to reduce my workload. Why dream up an unbelievably young and overachieving political operator when you happen to know a real one? Creative effort loses to intellectual laziness, every time. But in Outports, we have a guest star who actually isn't included because I'm lazy; she's included because I'm a great admirer of hers –– you might say I have the ultimate May-December crush on her, since she's well over 70 now –– and because I hope other people will take more notice of her. If you're reading these author notes with any regularity, you'll know who she is... but because it's been a while, I'll be plain: it's HMCS Sackville. Last May, I was in Halifax at the invitation of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust –– the organization that maintains this country's last remaining corvette –– and based on these tales, you can probably guess I had a good time. But as I was wandering around the ship before our infamous Battle of the Atlantic dinner, I was troubled by the fact that I was writing a series set in the 1940s, and yet had no way to include Sackville. Too many aspects of the alternate Champions timeline were (and are) different from our actual history, so there seemed no logical way for a vessel basically built as a wartime expedient (for a war that wasn't even taking place) to exist. But Champions (like His Majesty's New World before it) is stacked with so many historical conceits that I had no excuse; a way needed to be found. And it was while I was standing alone on Sackville's bridge for a couple of hours (I was very early for dinner) that the answer became obvious: Alex likes to swim in coastal waters. Sackville was conceived of to patrol coastal waters. They're both undersized heroic ladies, both possess a poor sense of humor, both are apt to be underestimated by their bigger peers... but neither is willing to do less than her best. One is made of steel, the other of flesh, but both are stronger than their years suggest. They even dress the same –– blue and white coat and blouse, blue and white dazzle camouflage. What better pair could be asked for? And where else would they meet, but at sea? It was settled, but I had to wait over a year for schedules to work out, so I could finally get them together. Now it's happening. The inclusion of a Flower-class corvette in Champions might be my biggest historical conceit yet, but if the naval historians I studied under have a problem with it… well, honestly, they probably won't. Either way, Alex and Sackville are totally swimming together. And as we'll see in Outports, their collaboration does grant a fine opportunity to explore some of the realities of the 1940s Royal Canadian Navy. I don't believe it's widely known, but the Second World War RCN became the Allies' third-largest fleet (behind just the Royal Navy and the United States Navy). From a handful of destroyers at the start of the war, Canada's armada grew at a blinding rate, so that the convoys keeping Britain alive could be defended against German U-boats. This rapid expansion meant that many of the crews on those ships were (to put it mildly) short on experience, young, and prone to improvisation, and when you read the official histories you realize how unbelievable some of their deeds had to be. Boys who were often too young to serve, some of whom had never seen the sea, were thrown into a desperate war in the worst sort of conditions, but they proceeded to do what we all hope we'd do in their place: they found ways to win. It got ugly, and crazy, and I'll share some of the particular tales in a note after Outports is released, but suffice to say that Sackville and Alex will show us the tiniest microcosm of the real Battle of the Atlantic, and the very young men who fought it. The excerpt online today is mostly about those very young men, and about how 'old' Alex is feeling… plus how awkward she still seems, at least to herself. We also get to meet the Captain of HMCS Sackville, Commander Jim Reddy, who I promised a cameo in the story in exchange for navigation advice. If he reads this, I'll probably never be able to show my face aboard the real ship again. But it'll be worth it. Outports launches on Tuesday, July 29; for now, click here to see how it goes when our whitecoat, and our white ship, meet up in the fog.
A Daughter’s Gift – 10th Anniversary Edition
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