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Retired Summerside teacher’s book of short stories was 40 years in the making

This is a reprint of an article by Saltwire

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.

You can find the original article here.

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? 🙂

Tom Mahoney’s The Deer Yard inspired by childhood in Bath, New Brunswick Kristin Gardiner · Journalist | Posted: Jan. 12, 2022, 9:29 a.m. | Updated: Jan. 12, 2022, 9:29 a.m. | 7 Min Read

When Tom Mahoney first sat down at his new typewriter and began writing a story, he never imagined his work would be published. Now, 40 years later, he has a physical copy of his 29 stories, and can't help but feel proud of his accomplishment.
When Tom Mahoney first sat down at his new typewriter and began writing a story, he never imagined his work would be published. Now, 40 years later, he has a physical copy of his 29 stories, and can’t help but feel proud of his accomplishment. – Kristin Gardiner

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.”

When getting the book ready, Tom Mahoney, left, had help from his children, including fellow writer Susan Rodgers. For Rodgers, it was neat to have found more common ground with her father, and even better to get a glimpse into what life in New Brunswick was like for him as a child. - Kristin Gardiner
When getting the book ready, Tom Mahoney, left, had help from his children, including fellow writer Susan Rodgers. For Rodgers, it was neat to have found more common ground with her father, and even better to get a glimpse into what life in New Brunswick was like for him as a child. – Kristin Gardiner

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.

The Deer Yard Status Three Weeks In

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 KoboBarnes & 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.

Everything else is gravy.  

For Immediate Release

Eighty-Seven Year Old Publishes First Book

Tom Mahoney is an eighty-seven year old retired teacher. “The Deer Yard and Other Stories” is his first book, eighty some years in the making.  

“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. 

 “…reading these stories brought back memories of listening in on heartwarming reunions when the aunts and uncles gathered around the kitchen table out at the farm. Your stories have brought rural farm life from the last generation to life. Every family, every small community has a character or two that can be seen in your stories and like good storytelling, encourages more. I’ll put on the coffee pot…”

~Excerpt of review on Kobo.com

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.

The Deer Yard and Other Stories is available via all major online book retailers including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and more, in both e-book and print. Contact: Joe Mahoney 416-705-8843  ilanderz@gmail.com

Review of Alpha Max by Mark A. Rayner

Available on Amazon and other online retailers


Great cover design by Xavier Comas

As I sat down to write the initial version of this review on Amazon, it prompted me by asking, “What did you like or dislike? What did you use this product for?”

I’ll answer the last question first. Oddly enough, I used this product for reading. I believe that’s what it’s best suited for. That can’t be said for all books; happily it’s the case with this one. Alpha Max is a book for people who like to read funny, thoughtful novels written in an engaging style.

Alpha Max is about a man, Max Tundra, who is recruited to help save the multiverse. Doing so he visits many different versions of Earth and meets many (sometimes unusual) iterations of himself. The story moves at a brisk pace with not a single dull passage toward an engaging conclusion as Max gradually figures out what’s really going on.

Mark Rayner has many strengths as a writer, among them charm, humour, and inventiveness, all of which serve a higher purpose, to explore ideas in a fun way. It’s all on display in Alpha Max as Rayner fires on all cylinders with perhaps his finest work to date.

What did I like? I liked it all, including the softcover copy, which looks and feels good. I love the cover design and the interior layout was a pleasure to read.

What didn’t I like? Struggling to come up with something here. Maybe the ISBN number could have been better. A few more 7s would have been nice. But hey, nothing’s perfect, at least not in this version of the universe.

Five out of Five for Alpha Max by Mark A. Rayner.

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