Peace Arch News story on Gary Karlsen and his memoir No Ordinary Seaman

2nd Printing of No Ordinary Seaman


Book sales are good.

All the positive reader responses are very gratifying!


Writing a book, publishing it, and getting it into the hands of readers is a whole lot of work, but for this writer, it’s fun work. I am doing all the marketing and promotion, the administration and the bookkeeping myself – work that publishing houses do for their authors. The comparatively big footprint of a publishing house is much larger than my shoes could ever fit into, and its long-established industry networks are much more pervasive than the small database and knowledge base of this lonely writer-cum-publicist. Nevertheless, I prevail.


Why did I self-publish? A few answers come quickly to mind, but in a word, I would say “patience”, or the lack of it was what motivated me to “go it on my own”. I knew when my book was ready for readers and I wanted to get it into their hands as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for a first-time writer to have his or her manuscript rejected many times by publishers before eventually succeeding in getting through the door of a publishing house. I did submit early manuscripts to a couple of local (BC) publishers, who thanked me with a letter replying that it did not fit with their needs or interests at that point in time, wishing me well with my interesting project, and so on. I have no doubt that I would have eventually been given entry, but I was kind of on fire at the time, and had to jump while the flame was burning hot. I am glad I did. I thank the agents now for their sentiments because their wishes have come true: the book has been doing well. In the first six months since publication I have sold almost 300 copies, and I am now in my second printing.


The journey so far has included some pitfalls and pit-stops, hurdles and hunger, the latter for sales and recognition in places that matter for a writer. So far, so good. And I just keep on truckin’.


These blog posts are markers for milestones, large and small. They are updates on things that are happening with the book, including reader comments, all of which continue to be very gratifying. In the blog, I also try to include interesting behind-the-scenes anecdotes about how the book came to be, about some things that did not find their way into the manuscript, and what may come next. No Ordinary Seaman is not merely a collection of stories between two covers, but it is an organic thing that, after hatching, will continue to develop in a variety of ways. My preliminary forecast is for more creative growth. In the meantime, I have set myself the task of rolling it out to a community of readers across Canada from coast to coast to coast, and beyond.




After much lobbying, I finally got interviewed by the Peace Arch News, our local newspaper. I landed the Arts & Entertainment interview of the year (in my humble opnion) with almost a full- page story and colour photo. And my editor said this would never happen. (I just made a pest of myself, Sylvia).

Check out the Peace Arch News August 10, 2018 (Vol. 43 No. 64)





No Ordinary Seaman has been getting around a lot since the last post. A presentation to the Rotary Club of Semiahmoo (White Rock) in the first week of September went well despite the early hour: it was a 7 AM breakfast meeting – a time of day when my brain and my tongue are usually not very well connected. I was somewhat challenged by a large assembly of members in an equally large room. My first words from the podium were, “If you can’t hear me from the back of the room please hold up your hand.” That clever opening fell a little flat, evoking only a couple of harrumphs.

Then I got right into the book, relating an exceedingly important bit of information about the plot, about the reason I sailed away from home right after graduating from high school: I left the safe harbour of Vancouver, crewing as a lowly deckhand on a Norwegian ship. The Norwegian flag flapping on the mast at the back of the boat, above its Norwegian name: Havkatt was embossed on the stern, and below it, Oslo, the city of its registry, the capital of Norway. I was on that ship because I wanted to go to Norway, the land of my paternal ancestors. Three days out of port with a cargo of grain for Japan, nearly half way across the vast Pacific Ocean, and I found out I was on the wrong ship. The Havkatt had never been to Norway and it was never going there.


The Rotarians were audibly and visibly amused by this anecdote. I shall use it again. I sold a bunch of books that morning.



Book Sales

I try to keep track of who has bought the book and who has had one bought for them. It is pretty cool knowing that I have readers not only in BC, but also in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Washington, California, Arizona, England, Wales, France, Norway, and Denmark.

It has been years since I was in Canada’s Atlantic provinces and I really wanted my wife to see some of that part of our world. We did an eastern Canada trip this fall, visiting friends in Tweed, Ontario, in Montreal, and making new ones in Newfoundland. Of course, I took a few books with me. Sold one at the dinner table to a wonderful Quebecois couple we dined with at the Bonavista Social Club (near the really cool city of Bonavista, a few hours’ drive northeast of St. John’s). Then, on the way to catching our plane, we stopped at Chapters book store. They now have No Ordinary Seaman in stock. While the book is not coast to coast to coast yet, this is a good start – eh bye?


This was a surprise. Stavanger Drive in St. John’s, Newfoundland? It’s just around the corner from Chapters. Stavanger is where No Ordinary Seaman’s ancestors are from and where the author lived and worked between ships.




Still available at the Vancouver Maritime Museum gift shop





Curious, I went online to the libraries that have my book in their collections. On October 11, it was not available at any of the seven branches of the four libraries that carry it.

All copies were out on loan. Six were on hold.











Maybe they should buy some more copies.









I am thinking that by January (2019), No Ordinary Seaman ought to be available as an eBook, probably from AMAZON. Maybe iBook too?

In the meantime, blog readers, do recommend the book to all your friends and relatives. Should they want a “collector’s edition”I have a few remaining of the first printing, typos and all, that have since been corrected in the 2nd Edition.