Sand Dollars

A Store Full of Cape Cod Authors

Written by Brian Tarcy

MASHPEE – The night itself was a gift for readers – five Cape Cod authors in one book store in a poetic mingling of stories that even had a plot twist. One author was selling a game, not a book.

“The folks that come into my shop love to read and love to meet the authors,” said Cynthia O’Brien, owner of Market Street Bookshop in Mashpee.

Local Authors gather at Market Street Bookshop. Left to Right: Jim Coogan, Terri Arthur, Bookshop owner Cynthia O'Brien, John Bonanni, Gemma Leghorn, and Jamie Cat Callan

Local Authors gather at Market Street Bookshop. Left to Right: Jim Coogan, Terri Arthur, Bookshop owner Cynthia O’Brien, John Bonanni, M.L. Wolters, and Jamie Cat Callan

Bringing all the authors in, said O’Brien, was her store’s effort to participate in a night of gratitude with other independent stores in Mashpee Commons. “I deal with artists, authors and poets,” she said. “This is a thank you to my customers, to my authors, and to my employees.”

So yeah, five authors walked into a bookstore. They had books of poetry, quirky Cape Cod history, the riveting true story of a World War I nurse, and, the aforementioned game, called, “The Writer’s Toolbox.” about writing.

“As a writer, I’m alone a lot,” said Jamie Cat Callan. “For me, this is entertaining.” Callan is the creator of the game, which, she said has sold 300,000 copies. Callan is also the author of “Ooh La La! French Women’s Secrets to Feeling Beautiful Every Day,” but she was in the store because of the game, which she described as “intuitive right brain exercises.”

All of the authors said they were thrilled to be at the bookstore meeting readers. As a steady stream of customers came through to ask about their books, or game as the case may be, the authors moved more smiles than books or games, but they moved those too.

“If I sell ten books in two to three hours, I’m very happy,” said Jim Coogan, author of several books of quirky Cape Cod history and the co-owner of the publishing house, Harvest Home Books, which he owns with Jack Sheedy.

The idea is more to meet readers than to sell product, said all the authors. “Any writer is looking for exposure,” said Coogan. “One of the most valuable things is meeting one on one in a book store.”

And Terri Arthur, the author of “Fatal Decisions,” the story of Edith Cavell, World War I nurse, agreed that meeting readers is nice. And she lamented that there used to be seven book stores in the Falmouth and Mashpee area and “and now there are only two.”

The only book store in Falmouth is Eight Cousins, a Cape Cod Wave favorite.

Arthur’s book, based on a true story, has sold 5,000 copies, she said, and a British version (with different vocabulary) is being published in England.

John Bonanni, founder and editor of the Cape Cod Poetry Review, was also at the opening, along with M.L Wolters, selling a second edition of the Review, which features 38 poems and three pieces of fiction.

“Poetry is a tough sell, and it always has been,” said Bonanni. Nevetheless, he said, creating a book important. “On the Cape, it’s important to have a visible document of the life that exists here in terms of the literary arts.” The Review was published through a grant from the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod, he said.

Each author has had a different level of success, but, as Bonanni pointed out, a visible document is success in itself.

Coogan said he has made money selling books, but added, “Thank God for the pension.”

And Coogan had one interesting observation about pricing. “If you price a paperback above $15, it’s just going to sit there,”  he said. “The best selling price is $11.99. For some reason, people buying something with a 20-dollar bill like to get a five back with their change.”



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— Brian Tarcy



About the author

Brian Tarcy

Brian Tarcy is co-founder of Cape Cod Wave. He is a longtime journalist who has written for the Boston Globe, Boston magazine, the Cape Cod Times and several other publications. He is the author of "YOU CAN'T SELL RIGHT FIELD; A Cape Cod Novel." He is also the author or co-author of more than a dozen mostly non-fiction books, including books with celebrity athletes Cam Neely, Tom Glavine and Joe Theisman. His previous book was, "ALMOST: 12 Electric Months Chasing A Silicon Valley Dream" with Hap Klopp,who created the iconic brand, The North Face.
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Brian is a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan with a long-running NFL predictions/political satire column connecting weekly world events to the fate of his favorite team, now at


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