Quill Pen

Everyone has a story in them. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to tell our stories on the printed page. That done, the best thing that can possibly happen is to receive feedback on the writing. It is wonderful to hear positive comments from readers who enjoyed the finished product, particularly those who take the time to tell a writer what they liked about the piece and why they liked it. Even more valuable to writers who want to improve is information on what didn’t work for a reader, and why.

If you have read The Rock in the Water or The Promised Land or short stories in any anthologies or periodicals, I would very much like to hear from you. Drop me as many lines as you wish in the Contact form following the comments below, and thanks for taking the time to do it.


Just read the promised land on my kindle. Bill, I loved it! Beautifully written, touching, funny, heart warming and a great read. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Having lived in Moncton for five years and having had the pleasure of visiting and touring Cape Breton a few times I enjoyed the local flavour and identified!! You brought the lifestyle and the people to life in a respectful and loving way. I still miss down east even though I’m an upper canadian now lol.
Karen D.M.
Brockville, Ontario
Well I can start by saying that I enjoyed the book.  As I was born and raised in Cape Breton, it brought back some very wonderful memories.  I like that the characters were just like people from home, no fuss no muss, and kind to most….  The book was descriptive in all ways, from the homes, the people and the land.  It is a beautiful but rustic part of Canada, and I felt like I was there when I was reading.
 I am so sorry that I did not get this written before, must be old age, however, I do want to let you know that it was  a great read, and I am sure by the book that you enjoy life there.
Dale MacDonald
Good Afternoon Mr. Conall,

We met a few weeks ago at your book signing at the Chapters in Halifax. You may recall me breezing by when I noticed the fish and turned back (I hope you told your wife there a fellow very complimentary of it). We struck up a conversation and I'm happier for it. I believe the term serendipity was mentioned. 

I've read your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I certainly was engaged by your method of mixing the stories, then tying some of the characters together in subsequent chapters. I wanted to read the next section to see which characters or relations would come out of the woodwork. I also found some of the history interesting and it is always great to learn more. I had no idea about the emigration to Waipu, New Zealand in the 1800's.

Best of all, your novel puts a reader in the place and gives them a sense of it. I've been to Baddeck many times and only have experienced it as a tourist, but I can feel the community through your words. Reading it makes me want to get in the car and take a trip back up to Cape Breton. 

Again, congratulations on your Leacock Award and your future efforts. 

Thank you for the wonderful read.

Jon Cusick


Well Bill, I've never been one to re-read a book very often but I've promised myself to do that with your "Promised Land". I know you to be a very clever, funny and sensitive man and all that came shining through. I thought I was going to laugh all the way through, which I did, but I didn't expect to cry either.Can't wait for anything else that you may write. 
Brenda Sullivan
Port Hope, Ontario

I LOVE The Promised Land! It is a sweet, dear, real novel filled with gratitude and simple pleasures expressed throughout. It is an expression of things I have been worried humanity has forgotten, reading this novel is a pleasure. So much so that I don’t want it to end, so at some point I started limiting myself to one chapter a day to make it last longer. Now I m looking forward to reading it again! Elizabeth Bremer

  Good morning to you Mr Conall. I have just finished reading your book, The Promised Land. I loved it. I found myself wishing that these people were my neighbours. I admired their compassion, their views on others in their community, their honesty and candor and the adventures they got into – and out of. Their deep love of home permeated the book. Yes, I found myself laughing often but I also was wishing the story would not end. Wonderful. Sequel? Janet Skomorowski

Where oh where do I begin, to say it’s one of the best books I’ve read would not be a lie. And I’ve read a LOT of books. When I read a book, I want to have a relationship with it, for it to somehow have an effect on me, that it should bend my mind, to see something a little different. This book did all that and more. From the moment I began reading your book, so graciously gifted to my by Bill Prosser, I was hooked. It took me through every emotion, I felt the joy, pain and laughed along with the situations that I could relate to so well. The characters described were either so like people I know, or were people I would have loved to have known. I felt very grounded by and connected with the events, and wished I was there to witness them myself. Reading your book, was like talking to an old friend, telling stories just like we would in conversation. There was just the right amount of detail that I was able to visualize each scene, feel the temperature of the air, sense the atmosphere in the room. It contained just enough twists and turns to keep the story balanced. So many times it had me laughing out loud. Some chapters were too good for me to keep to myself so I read them out loud to my partner who was trying to drive at the time, tears of laughter running down his cheeks. We would love to read a sequel. I love to learn. Much learning can come from stories if you’re listening. This book was a surprise in that I did not expect to learn or be reminded about how and what life should be like. To really appreciate what is important. The things you should hang on to and the things you should let go. This book should be handed to every child to read before setting off in the big world. Thank you for a great book. You are an amazing story teller – and the comma-kaze editor pilot too! Penny Samec Manitoba


Congratulations on the Leacock Award!! I couldn’t be happier for you. It was a great book that I thoroughly enjoyed and every once in a while a passage will pop into my head and make me smile, and it’s been over a year since I read it. Keep up the great writing. Look forward to the next one. S. Horsley Vancouver, B.C.


Dear Bill:
Hope you are settling down to Earth after your whirlwind month. It sure was fun though, eh?
I just finished your delightful book—very Leacockian!–and it had me smiling all through it, as well as giving me some good belly laughs. Loved the characters. It was very much your personal love letter to Baddeck and Cape Breton. Like the hippies you wrote about, you have clearly discovered a place where it was easy for you to plant yourself and sprout roots. Your own promised land.
It took me a little while to start your book because Colin, who does not tend to read books (argh!!) wanted to read yours. He really liked you and Douglas and that had a big influence on him wanting to read your books. He is just starting on Douglas’. He really enjoyed The Promised Land, and I am grateful that your book has hopefully kick-started his interest in reading more books.
We so enjoyed meeting you and Rosemary in Orillia. Have a lovely summer, and all the best to you on your next writing project! I hope our paths cross again.
Jane Christmas, Author of “And Then There Were Nuns”, 2014 finalist for the Leacock Medal for Humour
I loved everything about this book...the characters, the stories!  
I didn't want it to end! Awesome entertainment, as always! Thank you, Bill.
Donna M. Baddeck, N.S.

Dear Mr. Conall,

Just finished reading your wonderful book, The Promised Land – a novel of Cape Breton. It was thoroughly enjoyable, cover to cover. You did all the right things and I responded appropriately, I laughed, cried, said “Oh No!” more than once, and was sad when the end came too soon.
Please keep doing what you do so well, and keep me posted for the next book.


Robin Murphy

Our mutual friend Bill Prosser gave me “The Promised Land” to read and I’ve just finished it.
It is enormously entertaining. I smiled and shed a few tears thanks to the wonderful cast of characters within the pages. My only complaint is that it isn’t long enough! Please follow up
all of these characters and their stories with another book!

Judy Creer

Just finished reading “The Promised Land”. My wife, Bettina gave it to me for Christmas.  Loved it!
My favorite paragraph is on page 80:
“Weather and seasons and tides came and went as they always have done. Sun and rain brought the crops to fullness and to harvest. And year after year, like a boy at his first dance, the snow came cautiously forward, shied away, worked up its courage, tried again and finally crossed the floor to take the hand of winter. And they danced until they could dance no more”.
Thanks Bill

J. Carothers

My sister came to visit me and left a copy of The Promised  Land, promising a great read. Ever the dutiful brother, I left it sit for a couple of weeks before dusting it off and entering this wonderful world. These stories flowed off the pages, with characters and situations all too familiar. Such an easy enjoyable read it ended much too soon. It brought tears to my eyes, with its depth and poignancy. I love music and fell in love with Cape Breton the one and only time I visited there. Your novel had me longing to return, and I will. I look forward to reading more of your books and wish you great success in the future, you are truly a gifted storyteller.

J Davidson

I devoured it (The Promised Land) like a box of bon bons in two days. Once or twice I enjoyed the poignant beauty of your stories with a Guiness!


Richmond Hill, Ontario

Just a short note regarding The Promised Land. I found it to be a refreshing story, well written with several good chuckles along the way. Having lived through that particular era myself, I could identify with some of the characters and goings on. Keep up the good writing Bill, looking forward to the next one.

Kind Regards
Kent Larsson

Oshawa, Ontario

I`ve just finished reading The Promised Land – a novel of Cape Breton, for the third time.

It`s like listening to a favourite piece of music or reading “a letter from home” that talks about people you`ve known for decades.
A few of the chapters and characters could be the basis for their own short stories.
It`s  a great novel and calls for at least one sequel, if not more.
I`ll look forward to reading it again a few more times in the years to come.

Bill Prosser
Toronto, Ontario

I just finished your novel. What a great read – a page-turner for sure. I laughed, I cried and experienced all emotions in-between. Congratulations and Good Luck with the Stephen Leacock awards. After ________ left this morning, I tucked in and left the couch only for tea refills and more Kleenex
M. McLean
October 2013
So a friend stayed over last night.
 By the time I`d gotten up, he`d been up for a couple hrs and was 25 pages into your book.
 He wouldn`t leave without taking it. My copy. MY COPY!
 Said he loved it and will write a comment.
Bill Prosser
October 2013

Great set of stories! As a Transplanted Cape Bretoner, I’m old enough / young enough remember similar stories in my own family. I laughed and I cried. Congratulations, Bill!


October 15, 2013

That brings me to another point – your delightful book.  Yes, I have finally read it – and of course, as I did so, I realized that nothing else should have been more important (or at least, shouldn’t have seemed more “pressing”).  I love your kind of clever humour.  Not the kind that necessarily makes you laugh out loud every second, but the kind that makes your face hurt from smiling.  I forgot how much I missed reading your stories – especially in the case of your novels, how you blend those stories all together.  I love your characters – they feel real, and I can see parts of you in many of them.  You have a true gift, Bill.  As I read through, I underlined, hi-lighted and folded corners down – I got so into it.  I recognized references to people (maybe even me), and cheered on all the characters.  Still, I was mortified when Emmaline died (those pages got a little smeared) – but as you do so well, you made it OK.  I loved the way you tied everything up!  It was wonderful.  The absolutely best part though (again with the tears!) was when I read the end of your biography, “…loving my life in the wilds of Cape Breton.”  To answer your question, it was a pretty great biography – you deserve a life that you love, Bill.  (Not just a happy life and perfect biography, but a wonderful book!!)

K. Murray, Ontario

October 5, 2013

Bill Conall is a writer.  He will tell you that himself.  But I’ll tell you he’s a lot more than that.  He is a sociologist is what he is….a man with a gentle heart and soul that can’t help but come through in his storytelling.  He knows people, knows their complexities, their strengths and weaknesses, their fears and doubts and their love and their humour.  These traits are always present and are doing their best to break through the clouds and shine.

Bill Conall has captured that spirit in both his books….his first “The Rock in the Water” was on the short list for the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour.  And his second book “The Promised  Land” subtitled “A Novel of Cape Breton” should be on the 2014 list as well.

The plots of both books are delicately interwoven with a rich cast of characters sprinkled throughout the many plots and subplots. “The Rock and the Water” takes us to Quadra Island off the coast of B.C. while the subtitle of “The Promised Land” tells us we are in for a treat featuring a cast of thousands, well a few dozen characters anyway, on that jewel of an island on our East Coast, Cape Breton.

This is 100 % Canadian content at its best written by an author born in Ontario who has lived on the Prairies, British Columbia and now resides in Cape Breton.

Personally, I look forward with much anticipation to his next release.  Could the next story location be Nunavut?

Write on!

Dennis Alexander

Penetanguishene, Ontario

October 1, 2013

This is a book (The Rock in the Water) in the tradition of Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, except that where Leacock primarily pokes fun at folks, Conall combines humour with empathy for the colourful folks that populate this novel. For starters, how more colourful can you get with a character named Sparkle Orange? The Rock in the Water drew me into the lives and intrigues of the people in this community and left me impressed with their ingenuity and courage in bamboozling the local RCMP.

Gen Dugas

Congratulations on your second book, and on the success of your first (short-listed for the Stephen Leacock Award!)

You have a way with words … humorous and pithy. And you are obviously a keen student of human nature.

Your books are very hard to put down until the last page is turned!

And why am I not surprised that the WordPress theme of your site is “skeptical.”

Nickie Polson, Campbell River, B.C.

Hi Bill,

I finished reading your book a couple of weeks ago but am just getting down to writing to you now. I made notes as soon as I finished, so I’m writing from my notes.

Love the title. The Promised Land conveys all the hope of the hippies as well as the love of the land that the long time dwellers feel. Also, I think there’s a hint of the author’s love in there too.

The ending, of the young lad going to New Zealand is perfect. Full circle. A new promised land where his ancestors lived.

Your humour as always is delightful. I experienced many warm smiles and a few belly laughs. I can hear in my mind the delight of a live audience. And I could hear your deep voice reading to me as I read. Lovely experience.

Your humour is sometimes quick wit, sometimes the long circuitous route of building to a climax, an uproarious event that brings the threads of the plot together as one would weave a tapestry — the art of storytelling at its fireside best. Your wit is never depending on crass or crude words, but on the sparkling truths of humanity.
Speaking of humanity, your cast of characters is broad and varied, from young to old, male and female. The ones I like best are the old men; the writer understands so well what makes them tick, eh. And I loved the doctor; she’s perfect. Gummer, Killer the dog, Tillie and Arthur, the hippies’ ceilidh, the truck rescue from atop the rock — all are memorable.

I enjoy reading your prose also for the rhythm, the cadence; it rolls so beautifully off the tongue. I think your stories are meant to be read aloud to an audience, say at a ceilidh. Not that I didn’t enjoy reading your book solo, but at times I wished for someone to laugh with, to share the moment, someone to dig with my elbow and say, “Did you hear? Wasn’t that brilliant?”

In short, thank you, dear Bill, for another great read.

Patricia Calder

Colborne, Ontario

My Dear Mr. Conall with one ‘n’
I was planning an early evening after our workshop today, and thought that a couple of chapters of The Promised Land would relax me and give me a start on the book. Well, here it is 12:30 a.m the book is read and I am so impressed I could just spit. My friend, you captured “us” better than many of “us” could ever hope to come close to doing. Thank you for a wonderful read that will continue to be a wonderful read as often as I pick it up and discover many new bits and pieces in the pages. When’s your next one? Cheers,

Sandra Dunn

Sydney, N.S.

Hi Bill,

I just finished reading “The Promised Land”. It was the perfect title.

To me, a good book makes me laugh and cry and is hard to put down. Yours ticked all the boxes.

I LOVED the hippies!  I actually wanted the whole book to be about them.

The Hippies’ Ceilidh was great fun and Seizure the bull’s part took the cake! (Or should I say, the brownies?)

The page of the bridge between the hippies and the present was very well done.

Dr. Ellen Coulter was a very interesting character and I’d love to read a book about her and what happens to her after your story ended. In fact I’d love to read more stories about all of the characters.

Emmaline’s death and how it affected Gavin was very touching and I used up a Kleenex or two while reading that part.  Perhaps because my Dad just died on May 1st but I think it would have affected me much the same if I’d read it before that. I love the last page of the notice Gavin put in the paper about a memorial for Doris. The Memorial we had for my dad on May 25th was more formal than Emmaline’s but a number of people told stories about him and he was remembered with love and humour.

You made the characters so real and have given us such a great insight to customs from another place. It’s as if you lived there all your life.

Thanks so much for sending me your book. I’m looking forward to the next one. Please make sure I get a copy, okay?

Susanne Pacey

Port Hope, Ontario

Bill, your book arrived the day after you mailed it and I’ve enjoyed the read. What a delightful story. You are a master of characterization, reminiscent of that of Frank MacDonald of Inverness. I’m thinking in particular of Mrs. Big Sandy in Frank’s latest book, A Possible Madness. Such mastery is a tremendous accomplishment for you considering you’re not from Cape Breton originally. Well done

Marney Simmons

Mulgrave, NS


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