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Here on Vancouver Island, when we go north, we call it up-island. And last week, for the first time in two years, I went north to put my book Tea at the Empress on the shelf in some of the charming bookstores that are there.

If you live in Nanaimo, Courtney or Comox, you are lucky, and not just because you can find my book in your local independent bookstores!

First of all, I have to mention Window Seat Books ( 309c Wesley Avenue. You must meet owner Andree Bizier. She is knowledgeable and congenial, someone it's really fun to talk to in English or in French. You're in for a treat if you visit her shop, and Wesley Avenue is the loveliest street in Nanaimo in my opinion.

Then there's Blue Heron Books in Comox ( I'm sorry I didn't get the name of the owner, but he's a German fellow, and just as easy to talk to as Andree. He's very supportive of local writers and I'd encourage you to check out his shop at 1775 Comox Avenue whenever you're in town.

That brings us to the independent bookstore in Courtenay. Laughing Oyster Bookshop, ( owned by Evelyn Gillespie is another marvelous place where you could spend hours browsing. Evelyn said she'd just sold the last copy of my previous book, House of Crows, and took three more of Tea at the Empress. Laughing Oyster is at 286 5th Street in Courtenay.

Thank you to all of these bookstore owners for supporting local writers and shelving my books. To the rest of you in Duncan, Parksville and Qualicum Beach, you have lovely bookstores too, but since they won't promote me, I won't mention them. You can go to their stores, though, and make a point of ordering Tea at the Empress from them. I would certainly appreciate it.

If you're in Victoria, Tea at the Empress is still available at Bolen Books, Munro's and Russell's Books.

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