I’m taking a bit of a liberty by reprinting an article by Saltwire on my father’s first foray into publishing here, mainly for posterity (as these articles tend to disappear after a while, and I don’t want to lose this one).
Thanks so much to journalist Kristin Gardiner for taking the time to interview my father.
Should someone from Saltwire stumble upon this and take exception to me posting it here, simply let me know and I will remove it asap. Of course, I am hoping you will look the other way. See how heavily I’m promoting your site in return? 🙂
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — When 87-year-old Tom Mahoney picks up the paperback placed on his coffee table, his name in large font on the front cover, he can’t help but feel proud.
“To see the book there,” he said, “it’s just unreal.”
Publication had never been Mahoney’s end goal when he first sat down at his new typewriter 40 years ago. He never imagined his stories would ever be read by anyone.
Instead, the retired Summerside teacher had merely wanted to practise his typing; stories inspired by his father and his own childhood in Bath, N.B., were a good place to start.
“All the old stories I’d written out in pencil, I had to type them all out,” he said. “What great fun, learning how to type and telling stories at the same time.”
Although Mahoney moved his family to Summerside in 1966 after being offered a teaching job at Summerside High School, the years he lived on the mainland always stayed in his mind.
“When I was a kid, my dad used to sit and tell stories,” said Mahoney. “Then, when I got older, I used to sit and tell stories.”
Some of those tales would have taken place in the recent past – others, 100 years prior. A few were more fictionalized than others, but each one drew from the rural New Brunswick experience Mahoney and his father had lived.
When he thinks back to those days, he remembers his childhood home, a farm without electricity.
He remembers when he and his family would spend much of the day in the forest near the house collecting firewood for the stove. They would pack a lunch while they were out in the woods, telling stories while they ate.
“I had no intention of ever making a book out of them … But my son came home this summer, gathered up all the stories that he could find that I’d written, and he spent the summer putting them into a book.”
– Tom Mahoney
It’s memories like that that Mahoney cemented on the pages that were eventually tucked away in a folder, all but forgotten.
His children knew about them, had even read a few. For the last few years, Mahoney’s son, Joe – who has written a book of his own – was determined to compile them all into a collection for others to enjoy.
“I had no intention of ever making a book out of them,” said Mahoney. “But my son came home this summer, gathered up all the stories that he could find that I’d written, and he spent the summer putting them into a book.”
While he knew what his son was doing, Mahoney pictured the anthology would be more akin to a small pamphlet than the 250-page paperback the 29 stories ended up being.
“It’s unbelievable,” laughed Mahoney.
Connecting through creating
Although it was Mahoney who wrote the stories and his son who got the ball rolling, the whole self-publishing effort quickly turned into a family collaboration.
The cover art – a picture of a deer – was drawn by Mahoney’s granddaughter.
His daughters, as well, each took a turn at copy editing all the stories – including his daughter Susan Rodgers, a writer herself.
“It made me want to just set the computer aside and go spend a lot more time in the woods, you know? … The stories were that real, that you felt like you could just almost walk outside and walk into that life.”
– Susan Rodgers
Although storytelling runs in the family, Rodgers said she hadn’t even known her father was a writer until she began writing in her 40s.
“I don’t think I saw one of (his) stories until maybe around the time I first published,” she said. “So it wasn’t something we grew up with. To us, our dad was always a science teacher … so I think I was surprised when I first discovered that my dad was also a short story writer.”
For Rodgers, she loves being able to share a common interest with her relatives. She and her father have always found common ground in literature – previously more reading than writing – and now, it’s “cool” to know that she can connect with her father over storytelling, as well.
“First of all, we’re just really proud of Dad,” she said. “Second of all … I think I was really amazed (by) how good of a writer my dad actually is.”
As much as she’s excited to have all her father’s tales in one place, what Rodgers loves most is how it gives her a glimpse into what her father’s life was like as a child, teen and young adult.
“It really intrigues me that all those people would want to read it,” said Mahoney. “And then I hear the comments from them. It’s unreal.”
Although the book was completed and ready for self-publishing in the fall, it wasn’t until the tail end of December that Mahoney got to hold a physical copy in his hands.
Now that his work is out there, he loves having something to show for his efforts.
“It feels terrific,” said Mahoney. “I never thought it would happen.”
Kristin Gardiner is a rural reporter with the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.
I’m putting together a glossary of terms related to broadcasting, mostly about radio, for an upcoming book. I’ve attempted to put the definitions in my own words.
Here’s a draft.
Anybody care to check my work?
Any and all suggestions welcome.
Acoustic chamber: A small enclosed recording space with sliding glass doors located in Studio 212 (the drama studio) in the Toronto Broadcast Centre. It was used to replicate specific acoustic environments such as the interior of cars. No longer in existence.
Analog audio: The word analog itself (sometimes spelled analogue) means something comparable (analogous) to something else. In the case of sound, analog means recordings in a format (such as tape or vinyl) capable of reproducing continuous, uninterrupted vibrations comparable to the original sound waves.
Audio console: An electronic console used to combine audio from separate sources (such as microphones and musical instruments) and send that audio elsewhere, such as for broadcast or to a public address system or to record it. Sometimes called a “Board” or a “Mixing Desk.”
Audio Systems: What the CBC radio maintenance team used to be called.
Backtime: An instrumental piece of music used to end a radio show or part of a radio show over which the announcer spoke.
Baffles: An object or device used to reduce sound. We used large sound baffles on wheels in Studio 212 to create smaller acoustic environments simulating living rooms, offices etc. on the large studio floor.
Board: See Audio Console
Bounce: Create a two–track (stereo) version of a sound file from multiple tracks.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC): Canada’s public broadcaster, a federal Crown Corporation funded by (but operating at arm’s length from) the Canadian government. “CBC” refers to the English language service; Radio-Canada refers to the French language service. CBC/Radio Canada also broadcasts in multiple aboriginal languages.
Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (CRBC): Canada’s first public broadcaster. It came before the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).
Capsule distortion: When a microphone overloads creating an unpleasant sound because it’s receiving too much acoustic information (everything is too loud for the microphone).
Carbon granule microphone: The first type of microphone. Essentially granules of carbon in an enclosure, one side of which is a thin metal or plastic diaphragm that compress the carbon granules when struck by sound waves. Capable of producing high level audio signals with very little power. Used in early AM radio and early telephones, and still used today in certain applications.
Cart: An industry standard endless-loop tape cartridge developed in 1952 under the brand name Fidelipac. From the fifties until the late nineties, radio stations used them to play every kind of audio material from music to stings to station IDs to sound effects.
Compression: A low concentration of air particles moving through space.
Compressor: A type of audio gear or software used to reduce dynamic range, which is the difference between low and high levels in a piece of audio.
Condenser microphone: A type of microphone that requires power (called “phantom power”) to function. Generally higher quality than dynamic microphones and used to record more delicate sounds.
Confidence clock: A clock in a studio connected to Radio Master Control with a countdown timer and a light (typically red) to let you know when you’re going to be on and off air.
Console: See Board.
Continuity: When audio can pass successfully from one location to another, such as from a studio to Radio Master Control.
Cue speaker: A small speaker on an audio console for auditioning audio before using that audio for a broadcast or recording. Also called pre-fade listen, or PFL.
Dalet: A networked desktop audio editing system used by CBC Radio from 1996 until it was replaced by DaletPlus .
DaletPlus: The networked desktop audio editing system that replaced Dalet, essentially a more sophisticated version of Dalet.
Digital Audio Tape (DAT or R-DAT): A recording and playback medium that was developed by Sony in the mid ‘80s.
D-Cart: Also called Digital Cartridge Editing System. A digital audio editing platform developed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in the early nineties that CBC installed in 1993 and used until replacing it with Dalet in 1996.
Dead air: Unintentionally broadcasting silence.
Dead Room: An acoustic environment in Studio 212 with no hard surfaces for actors’ voices to reflect off, simulating an outdoor environment. No longer in existence.
Delay System: A system to record everything CBC Radio broadcasts to Atlantic Canada that plays that content back an hour later for the Eastern Time Zone, and so on to time zones further west until the content has been played back for the entire country. In this way every Canadian can hear their favourite show at exactly the same time, subjectively at least.
Destructive interference: When longitudinal sound waves are 180 degrees out of phase and cancel one another out, resulting in no sound.
Dialogue Edit: A small CBC Radio studio used primarily for editing dialogue tracks for radio plays. No longer in existence.
Digital Audio: A means of reproducing sound waves by accurately measuring and recording sufficient sonic information over a specific period of time to record the information as a sequence of numerical samples.
Direct Box: Instruments such as guitars can be connected directly to audio consoles via these small electronic devices, eliminating the need to mic the instruments.
Discrepancy: A deviation from the broadcast schedule as it was supposed to air. For example, when an announcer doesn’t show up for their show in time, resulting in dead air. See “Fault”.
Distortion: When the original shape of a sound wave is altered, often by increasing the gain. This can sound good with musical instruments, but it usually sounds bad with voices.
Double-ender: When an interviewer back in the studio talks to a guest on the phone while an audio technician records the guest out in the field. Afterward, back in the studio, a tech eliminates the poor phone-quality recording of the guest, replacing that recording with the high-fidelity recording done in the field.
Dubbing: Making a copy of a piece of audio.
Dynamic microphone: Dynamic microphones operate by suspending a coil of wire connected to a diaphragm inside a magnetic field. When sound vibrates the diaphragm, the coil vibrates and produces an electrical signal.
Equalization: Increasing or decreasing the volume of different frequencies of a selection of audio.
Euphonix System 5: A high end digital audio mixing console. The Euphonix System 5-B replaced the Neve Capricorn in Studio 212 in the summer of 2003. We liked it so much that in December of that year we put one in our Music Mobile recording truck.
Fader: A device used to increase or decrease the volume of audio. Physical faders typically slide along a track in a console. Virtual faders in digital consoles appear on screen.
Fault: See Discrepancy.
Feed: Audio content distributed across Canada, and sometimes to and from other countries, to be used on various CBC Radio shows.
Feedback (acoustic): An unpleasant screeching noise usually considered undesirable (except in certain kinds of music) created when a microphone picks up an audio signal and broadcasts it via a speaker back into that same microphone at sufficient gain and at just the right frequency to ensure a feedback loop. Also known as the Larsen effect after the Danish scientist Søren Absalon Larsen, who first discovered the principles of audio feedback.
Foley: Creating sound effects for radio plays, television and film. Named after sound effects artist Jack Foley, who originated the technique for film.
Gain: How loud the audio (input) is before it’s processed.
Hourlies: CBC Radio newscasts broadcast at the top of very hour, four and a half minutes long, and read by a single news announcer.
ISDN(Integrated Services Digital Network): At CBC Radio we used ISDN units at to broadcast remotes. They were basically high falutin’ phone lines. We’d plug the output of our remote console into an ISDN unit which would in turn be connected to a phone line to transmit the audio back to the Toronto Broadcast Centre, from where it would be broadcast. The official definition is “a set of communication standards for simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video, data, and other network services over the digitalised circuits of the public switched telephone network.”
Lavalier mic: A small microphone intended to be unobtrusive, usually with a clip allowing it to be attached to clothing.
Lining up: Making sure the audio from a studio can reach radio master control before a broadcast. Involves a time check as well to ensure the studio clock is showing the correct time to ensure the broadcast starts on time.
Mix: Adjusting multiple sound elements into a pleasing whole via an audio console by a sound engineer, such as for a piece of music or a radio play, either live or for a recording.
Mixing desk: See Audio console
MS Stereo: Stands for Mid/Side microphone recording. A way to record in stereo that allows recording engineers to control the width of the stereo spread and that can be adjusted after the recording. Patented by EMI engineer Alan Blumlein in 1933.
Nagra: The world’s first portable tape recorder, invented by Polish inventor Stefan Kudelski, introduced in 1951. Heavily used in the film industry from the sixties to the nineties. “Nagra” is Polish for “will record.”
Neutral Room: A room in Studio 212 that could be used to replicate multiple neutral interior acoustic environments. No longer in existence.
Neve Capricorn: A high end digital audio mixing console. Used in Studio 212 until it was replaced by the Euphonix System 5-B console in the summer of 2003.
NGCN (Next Generation Converged Network): Developed by Rogers Cable Communications and Evertz Microsystems for the CBC to replace existing landlines, and launched in 2011, the NGCN network carries audio, video, and data content between CBC locations.
Packaging: Putting a radio show together for broadcast later.
Phantom Power: Provides power via microphone cables to condenser microphones and active direct boxes.
Pickup: Recording material either in a conventional studio or in a remote setting. It also means an actor or announcer redoing a line either because they’ve made a mistake or want an alternative take.
Polarity: Two possible choices that are mutually exclusive. In sound, polarity is a question of direction of flow of electrical current
Pot: Short for potentiometer, and another word for fader.
Potentiometer: A position sensor used to measure displacement in any direction. Potentiometers that slide up and down (faders) measure linear displacement and potentiometers that turn (rotary pots) measure rotational displacement.
Presentational Radio: Presenting content to listeners in a straightforward, unambiguous manner, such as on a newscast or interview show.
Pre-tape: Taping material for broadcast before the actual show.
ProTools: Professional digital audio editing software sold by Avid Technology
Public Address System (PA): A system of speakers, amplifiers, microphones and other assorted equipment to broadcast audio material such as voice and music in public spaces, either indoors or out.
Quarter-inch tape machine: Devices to record and playback audio using quarter inch tape. Sometimes called reel-to-reel machines. The workhorses of CBC Radio, usually four to a studio, during their heyday before the advent of digital desktop radio (D-Cart, Dalet, DaletPlus).
Radio: See Chapter Three.
Radio-Canada: The French language service of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Radio Master Control: The central hub, through which most CBC Radio shows passed before hitting the transmitters and the radios of the nation.
Radio Play: A story told by means of sound often employing multiple actors accompanied by sound effects and music.
Radio technician: An individual whose job it is to record, manipulate and broadcast sound
Rarefaction: A low concentration of air particles moving through space
Recording Room: A room in the basement of the Jarvis Street Radio building where radio technicians received and recorded audio feeds for later broadcast and for archival purposes. The room existed in the Toronto Broadcast Centre as well until the adoption of digital technology when it was replaced by a digital virtual recording room.
Reference Tone: A continuous tone, usually 1Kilohertz (1K) used to “line up” audio equipment (adjust playback and record levels). Reference tone is also used to ensure that the audio signal is travelling successfully from one location to another (i.e., one studio to another). This is referred to as “establishing continuity.”
Remote: A broadcast or recording outside of a conventional studio, often for a special event.
Representational radio: Content representing something other than what it actually is, such as the fiction of a radio play.
Rev 5: A type of outboard audio gear capable of producing multiple types of reverberation dating back to the 80s. In other words, it can make a person or music sound like it’s in different sized rooms anywhere from a closet or a theatre.
Reverb: Short for reverberation, reverb is the sound we hear bouncing back from various surfaces in our environment not including the source of the sound.
Rotary Pot: A device used to increase or decrease the volume of audio on a console, like faders only round. “Pot” is short for potentiometer.
Shure FP42: A small portable stereo mixer with four inputs and two outputs, great for remotes.
Sound check: Testing a sound system before a performance or broadcast to ensure that everything works and sounds good.
Splitting the board: Using an audio console for more than one purpose at time, such as recording a pickup with the main inputs and outputs while simultaneously dubbing separate content using auxiliary busses.
Sting: A brief piece of sound or music used to punctuate a radio program and/or separate two different sections of a radio program in a pleasing way.
Streeter: Short, snappily edited interviews with people out in the real world, “on the street.”
Studer 963: An analog console, quite common in CBC Radio packaging and live studios from the 90s on until the advent of digital consoles.
Studer On Air 2000: A digital audio console
Swap tone: Low frequency, barely audible tone added to the end of a recording on quarter inch tape for automation systems to detect to trigger a “swap” to the next tape containing additional programming.
Switched 56: A high quality telephone line.
Top and tail: insert leader tape before and after audio for broadcast on quarter inch tape to make it easier for technicians to cue them up.
Travelling Shot: A scene in television, film or radio in which the camera/microphone follows characters on the move without interruption.
Two-way: A recording usually involving a host in a studio in one location and a guest in another.
Video Switcher: Hardware used to switch between different audio and video sources such as television cameras, used during live or live-to-tape television productions.
Video Tape Recorder (VTR): Hardware used to record and play back video and audio from magnetic tape.
Voice track: A track in editing software containing voices, either actors, guests, or otherwise.
Voice tracking: Recording the voices of actors, performers, announcers and guests.
VU Meter: Stands for “volume unit” meter. Displays a representation of the level of audio in audio equipment.
Volume: How loud audio is after it’s been processed (i.e., put through a piece of gear such as an amp or speaker).
Wallbox: Usually located near the floor in studio performance spaces, wallboxes provide a means of plugging microphones and other audio gear to the console in the control room.
My sister Susan Rodgers and I published the Kindle edition of my father’s collection of short stories, The Deer Yard and Other Stories, on Dec 9th 2021, less than a month ago. The paperback edition came out the following day. We also distributed an ebook edition via Draft2Digital to a whole range of other distributors such as Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and so on. A couple of weeks later another we published another softcover edition via IngramSpark.
We published it using my own imprint, Donovan Street Press, in association with my sister Susan Rodger’s company, Bluemountain Entertainment. Because Dad is an author from Prince Edward Island, and Susan’s company is also based in PEI, we are hoping to use grant money from PEI for this purpose, though that has yet to be confirmed. If that doesn’t pan out, the entire enterprise will be financed by me, which is perfectly fine, and the least I can for Dad, who has certainly done much more for me during my life.
Dad is eighty-seven years old and has been writing stories like those included in The Deer Yard his entire adult life. He’s had lots of time to perfect the tales. Editing them was mostly a question of correcting grammar and punctuation (as he put it, he spent his career teaching physics, not English grammar). He did have a penchant for writing in the passive tense that I took the liberty to address. Beyond that my ethos was just to make the stories shine, and change as little as possible. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere it felt very much like mining precious gems. I just needed to wipe the soil off and polish them up a bit.
We didn’t have a launch, virtual or otherwise. Dad wasn’t really interested in that. He just wanted to get the stories out there. We got the word out via Facebook to family and friends. There might have been a few texts, a few phone calls. An email to a writing group or two.
When you’re publishing a book you need to choose which categories it belongs to. Generally you start with a couple, though there are ways to get it into more categories. For The Deer Yard and Other Stories, I chose Short Stories and Family Life. Amazon determined it belonged to Canadian Short Stories. Niche categories like that are important because it’s easier to rank higher when there isn’t much competition. If you search Google for Hot New Canadian Fiction right now you’ll see that The Deer Yard ranks #38 and #39 for the Kindle and print versions. If you narrow it down to Hot New Releases in Canadian Short Stories you’ll see that it ranks #2 and #3, after sitting comfortably in the #1 and #2 positions for the last couple of weeks, beating out collections by such luminaries as Stuart McLean and Margaret Atwood. It is #8 in the Most Gifted category, having once or twice soared as high as #6.
You might think, gee, it must be selling thousands of copies to be ranked so high, and perhaps I should leave it at that. Smoke and mirrors. But that is not the reality of publishing, certainly not Indie publishing. The Deer Yard and Other Stories has achieved those ranks having sold fourteen ebooks and sixteen physical copies on Amazon, and an additional six ebooks on Kobo, for a total of thirty-six books and earning approximately $158 for Dad and a third of that for Amazon and Kobo. Still, that’s not bad for a book by an unknown author by an Indie publisher launched with zero fanfare and out less than a month.
Interestingly, Publisher Rocket (software that helps you analyze the competition and pick categories and keywords for your indie books) tells me that The Deer Yard and Other Stories has 15 competitors in its categories and is on track to earn $2602.00 this month. The former is probably close to the truth, but we are a long way off from earning the latter, I can tell you.
In fact, the book will no doubt take a while to earn back the investment we put into it, even if the PEI government does come through with their grant. The Deer Yard and Other Stories cost just over $800 to put together. Here’s the breakdown:
Cover Design (all formats): $401.16
Cover Illustration: $100
Vellum (Publishing software, one time expense): $361.59
Total = $862.75
My daughter Erin drew the deer. I believe in paying people for their work which is why she got the $100, though she would have done it for free. The cover itself was designed by a professional, Valerie Bellamy, using Erin’s illustration. The publishing software, Vellum, went on sale days after I purchased it (d’oh!) so I could have saved some money there had I been smarter and more patient. Beyond that, it doesn’t cost anything to upload your book to Amazon and Draft2Digital. IngramSpark does charge a small fee, but I belong to The Alliance of Independent Authors who provide a promo code waiving that fee.
So, just another $2444 in Royalties between now and end of day tomorrow and we’ll have lived up to Publisher Rocket’s rather optimistic projection. Something tells me we won’t quite make that. But I’m perfectly happy with where we’re at. The important thing was getting the book out there and a physical copy in Dad’s hands so he could hold his first book.
“The Deer Yard and Other Stories” is a collection of stories, anecdotes and observations about growing up in a farming family in northern New Brunswick in the years after the second world war. The stories are funny and charming, about bears and ghosts and log drives and wayward handymen and trips in Model Ts and collectively bring that bygone era to life in a way that only someone who lived through it can.
Tom didn’t intend to create a book; it just came together organically after many years of writing his stories down, many of them based on stories told to him by his father. After years of enjoying their father’s tales, his son and daughters came together to package them up in a single volume and publish them independently.
From the back cover:
Tom Mahoney grew up on a small family farm in Johnville, New Brunswick. Despite a lack of modern conveniences such as running water and electricity, he wouldn’t have had it any other way. Tom’s was a world of natural beauty; of soft and lonely quiet. Life was never dull. His active imagination was nourished by ghosts and demons, intrepid priests, drunken neighbours, redneck bullies, frightened deer, angry bears, wannabe circus dogs, and plenty of shenanigans. From these seeds great stories grew. Drawing on his own experiences and those of his family — his father was also a gifted storyteller — Tom’s humorous and touching tales, spanning decades, brim with colour and authenticity.