Book Blessing and Launch, Book launch

Double Book Launch Day!

Hello, Friends!

I’m not blogging as often as I should, but I have good reasons!

We’re in the busy period of launching not just one, but two books: Twigs in My Hair and the third in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series, Myrtle Makes a New Friend.

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Myrtle Makes a New Friend - Cover Front 3 Sept 2019

This evening, the Toronto launch is being hosted by A Different Booklist, the iconic bookstore and cultural centre that carries exciting books from around the world.  Owners Itah Sadu and Miguel  San Vicente and their team have sold our books for years, and I am always glad to visit with them and their customers.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Friends at A Different Booklist

All of this is happening as younger daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange, co-author of the Myrtle books, and her husband Dan, are expecting their first child this month.

So we’re all hoping Baby holds off a bit longer so it won’t be a triple launch tonight! 

Twigs photographer Hamlin Grange, Lauren and I started out a few weeks ago in the most special way: our church, St. Thomas’ Anglican, held a double blessing for the books and us.

Blog Photo - Book blessing and launch

Our priest Canon Claire (above left),  and Corinne Sargent, head of the Women’s Reflection Group and the team of volunteers, and dozens of enthusiastic parishioners made it a wonderful breakfast event in the parish hall.

Blog Photo - Book blessing and launch 2019 - Lydia & Francois and Rosie

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Myrtle poster

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Blog Photo - Book Blessing - Muriel and Cynthia and Joanne

Every detail was a celebration of the books and their key messages.

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Rudbeckia

Even the hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, was slightly altered to include a purple turtle!

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Hymn

As always, Canon Claire’s prayer made us feel blessed and supported.

Tonight, at A Different Booklist, we will celebrate with a whole other set of friends and acquaintances (some of whom we haven’t seen in way too long), and meet new people who love books. 

Blog Photo - Twigs & Myrtle - Toronto Launch

Hamlin, whose beautiful pictures grace the pages of Twigs in My Hair, will play a slide show he has created for this purpose. Lauren and I will read short excerpts from the books and perhaps make a few remarks.

Writing is a lonely activity. But I am lucky to have a truly caring and professional team: Lauren and Hamlin as key creative partners, fabulous illustrators (Jo Robinson on the Myrtle books, and Les Lawrence who did the humorous sketches for Twigs), excellent beta readers, proficient editors, proofreaders, and our book designer Clif.

So it’s a double celebration this evening. And we hope the biggest celebration of all — a brand new baby in our family — holds off just a little.

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Hamlin & Cynthia and Lauren

I’ll keep you updated. Meanwhile, please wish us well!

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Photos of the St. Thomas’ Church event were taken by Joanne Schuetzl.

Thank you, Joanne!

A Good Home, Family, Family Moments, Pets

The One & Only Jerome

If you’ve ever lived with a pet, or loved a pet, you already know that each one is a unique character, much like humans.

And if you have been owned by a cat, or been a servant/companion to one, you have a bag of stories to share.

Blog photo - Jerome CU

Pets usually become beloved family members. You may recall meeting some of ours here.

Our daughter Nikisha and son-in-law Tim have lived with two cats for nearly 18 years.  Jerome, aka Jerry, and Simon.

Blog Photo - Jerome sitting

Jerome and Simon have been a beloved part of all our lives — though in recent years, mainly through pictures and phone calls with us, since they now live in the US.

Blog Photo - Jerome and Nikisha

We still have a recorded phone message of Jerome meowing a strong “hello”.

Blog Photo - Jerome and Tim2

Jerome was, as Tim says, “a big orange cat with a sunny disposition” who met the neighbours and made friends before they did. “He had a knack for knowing when Nikisha and I were feeling down, and would comfort us.”

Blog Photo - Jerome on injured knee

“When I broke my leg, he would come and sit with me, sometimes on the broken leg, and purr away.”

Jerome was adventurous, outgoing and loved long walks.  Days after Tim and Nikisha moved house, he disappeared for several days.  We all launched a search, some of us doing so online.  My mother-in-law even put Jerome’s name on a prayer list.

It turned out that Jerry was trying to find his way home — to their former place. He was found and returned to the new home, tired and hungry.

Blog Photo - Jerome back safe and sound

Nikisha describes him this way: “An enthusiastic yet curmudgeonly host, he was always in the thick of every social event, though refused to give up his chair to guests as a matter of principle.”

Blog Photo - Jerome on Sofa 1

So you can understand that we have all watched with sadness as the cats have aged, and Jerome struck with diabetes and other ailments. 

We mourned along with Tim and Nikisha when Jerome died last week. Simon, his brother for almost all his life, was upstairs at the time, and began wailing at that moment.

Blog Photo - Simon 2

Nikisha says “It’s amazing how he knew almost immediately that Jerry was gone.”

If you’ve loved a pet, I know you’ll understand. If you haven’t, you may be surprised to learn how profound the loss is. After all, it’s saying goodbye to a beloved member of the family.

Rest peacefully, dear Jerry. Thanks for being in our lives.

 

A Good Home, Canadian Gardens, Garden Scenes, Twigs in My Hair - A Gardening Memoir

The Garden at Summer’s End

There’s a  freshness and tranquility in the late summer garden that extends into early autumn.

Blog Photo - Late Summer Garden Hosta and J Maple

The colours are more muted now, but no less impactful.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden hosta and birdbath MCU

Blog Photo - Late summer garden Hydrangea and chairs

Green leaves are greener, the pinks of sedum and blues of caryopteris can be seen more clearly.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden deep pink sedum

Blog Photo - Late Summer garden blue flowers of caryopteris

Even the trees are slow to turn orange and red this year, as if ceding the moment to the softness of this season.

Many tomatoes are still green on the vine.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden tomatoes

So this is how the summer ends:

Not with a bang, but a flower. A flower and some fruit…

Blog Photo - Late summer garden apples turning on tree branches

… and a branch of colour, peeking out to signal that autumn is on its way.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden Small Maple branch turning orange

I wish I were the kind of person who totally absorbs herself in the great now of it all, blocking all thought of the passage of the season.

But you may remember: I failed Mindfulness & Meditation 101.

As with the great times with loved ones, I’m greedy to want this moment to last.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden hosta white fragrant CU2

And when autumn blazes in with its glorious colours, I’ll find myself wanting to fix that in stasis too. For just a few more weeks.

It’s all a wan thought, a vain attempt, at holding off winter, you know.  We are a winter country but I’m not a winter person.

Blog Photo - Late summer garden - chairs and umbrellas CU

Note to blogger friend, September 9, 2019

“Yes, Laurie, there is a bittersweetness in the air, a time when we lose one thing and gain another, and even the flowers that bloom now are a reminder of the end of the flowering season.”

Note to my journal:

“I’ve long thought that gardening is a form of art. The soil is our canvas; we paint with flowers, shrubs and trees — always paying respect to Mother Nature. So let us add gardening to the canon of visual and natural arts, and recognize that we are, perhaps, the most fortunate of artists.”

 

Author Interviews, Authors, Book Interviews, Lauren Reyes-Grange

Interview with Lauren Reyes-Grange

 

I’ve been wanting to interview my co-author, Lauren Reyes-Grange.

But how do you do that when she is your daughter, as well as the person who inspired the first Myrtle the Purple Turtle book?

I decided to put on my professional interviewer’s hat — after all, I’d done thousands of interviews in my journalistic work.  Here goes:

When did you first realize you loved to tell stories?
LRG: I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love to read stories, write stories or tell stories. I am fairly certain I was born with a wild imagination. Pair that with two parents who were superstar journalists (and naturally fantastic storytellers), and I think I was bound to catch the bug, too. 

Blog Photo - Lauren headshot

What was it like growing up in a house of storytellers and writers?
LRG: It was wonderful. I loved hearing stories about my parents’ work, about their day. My parents also encouraged my sister and me to read, be curious, stand up to injustice, and look for the humour in everyday things which I believe makes for great storytelling. 

Do you remember any of the stories you first wrote?
LRG: Yes. One of the first stories I wrote was about a bird who, after overcoming some obstacles, learns how to fly. 

Blog Photo - Lauren and Quentin and CR
Cynthia, Lauren at 5, and her beloved doll Quentin

A story your mother wrote for you when you were nearly five, was published many years later and became an immediate bestseller. What was that like for you?
LRG: Pretty emotional in all the best ways possible. Myrtle the Purple Turtle was a lifesaver for me when I was going through a tough time at school. Myrtle’s story made me feel proud, confident and strong. I feel very lucky that 28 years later we were able to share this gift with children who may need a reminder that they should be proud of what makes them different/unique. 

Myrtle - Cover latest at 2MB

You are now the co- author of the Myrtle series, and you are the one who comes up with the new story ideas. Where do your ideas come from?
LRG: After visiting numerous schools and speaking with children of all ages, it’s clear that messages of inclusion, kindness and friendship are still very much needed. This is what’s inspired us to continue writing more books and has made the ideation process relatively simple.  

Myrtle - Cynthia and Lauren and Students

How did you react the first time you saw your name on a book cover?
LRG: Incredibly proud. I still can’t believe I’m an author. I also feel very fortunate that I get to collaborate with my mum on this. It’s made the entire experience even more meaningful for me. 

Book Cover on Amazon - Myrtles Game

Why are the messages in the Myrtle books so special to you – and what do you hope children will get from the books?
LRG: The messages in Myrtle’s books are how I was raised. I hope the Myrtle series inspires children to act with kindness, to make their peers feel included, to be a good friend and to embrace their own differences. 

Myrtle Makes a New Friend - Cover Front 3 Sept 2019

What are your hopes for the series?
LRG: I hope we continue writing books! At least 1-2 books every year for as long as there’s an audience who wants to read them. I would love to speak with even more children and continue to inspire young people to act with kindness and self-esteem.

Your own daughter is due to be born soon. Can we assume you will be reading the Myrtle books to her when she gets old enough?
LRG: Absolutely. I’ve already started reading the books to her, but she likely doesn’t know that yet. I hope she falls in love with Myrtle’s message and is as proud of me as I am of my mum.

Blog Photo - Lauren and Dan