Author Catherine McKenzie is one in a million.
Even though (or perhaps, because) her own book SPIN debuted last year at #15 on The Globe and Mail Canadian Bestsellers list, she has devoted much of the last three weeks promoting another author.
So, you see: one in a million. But to Facebook, she’s more like one in 400 million.
Catherine launched the Facebook group “I bet we can make these books best sellers” 18 days ago, in an attempt to set ablaze the “Author Effect.” At regular intervals, Catherine will promote an author whose work she feels deserves an exposure boost. And Facebook, a venue of 400 million active users, isn’t a bad place to start. Versus a single-click phenomenon like the Betty White/SNL campaign, “Bet we can make best sellers” requests that new members buy and discuss the author’s work. This makes for a deeper engagement with the work, the author, and the positive intent behind such a community. As of this post, 516 people have joined.
Wyoming author Shawn Klomparens wrote the first books featured on the group’s page: JESSICA Z. and TWO YEARS, NO RAIN. When I first heard of the Facebook group, all I’d read were snippets of Shawn’s work on Goodreads. Impressive snippets. But, I wanted to wait on sharing my take until I’d fully read JESSICA Z.
I’m certain I’m not the first to say Shawn’s work doesn’t feel written, it feels told. Lived.
JESSICA Z. is a departure from the young-adult reading and research I normally do. Where YA characters may obsess over just what sex is or could be, Shawn’s characters are having it (gasp!). Beyond that, good lit is universal. Shawn’s unique perspective closely revolves around my favorite part of any story: characters. Relationships. I’d describe Jessica as coming-of-age, honestly, something that can totally happen when you’re a 28-year-old, city-dwelling, redheaded Copywriter… qualities I share, plus a few years. Ahem.
As for Shawn’s world-building in JESSICA Z., I am a fan. Details, subtle and not-so-subtle, weave into the plot as they would from any well-constructed contemporary setting. This one just happens to include near-daily terror threats. “Seamless” may be an unfortunate descriptor, but the environment makes sense. It underlines and gives dimension to the characters and story; it doesn’t overpower.
Aside from all this, I almost can’t believe that JESSICA Z., this strong, first-person present voice – a woman’s voice – comes from a dude who lives in the mountains. What? Okay, sure, let’s give him that. He does it. But he does it well. A unique sort of tension arises from his gift with dialogue, a real-time quality you don’t notice until you’re reading and reading and almost miss an appointment or a train. His paragraph breaks can speak volumes. Page 244 brought tears to my eyes on a landing airplane. I will never look at sand the same way again, or maps. And I did a happy dance this morning about moving on to his second book, TWO YEARS, NO RAIN.
Thank you, Catherine, for spreading the word about Shawn’s wonderful work.