Category Archives: An Honest House

The Private Responses of My Readers

People who read my books tell me the darndest things. 

Perhaps instinctively knowing that I’ll never let them down — or simply because I’ve written a lot of personal stuff in my books — some readers write very personal responses in their letters and cards.

I feel privileged to read them. Every one.

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Some weeks ago, one particular letter arrived. It accompanied a card, and was totally unexpected.

You see, it came from a prominent person, and the fact that he took the time to read my book — and write to me — was a huge surprise.

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As you may know, I live with a strange thing called post traumatic stress disorder — one of the outcomes of a car accident of years ago.  Only very recently have I written about it.  When I did, I deliberately crafted my book, An Honest House, to provide a balance between the beauty, love and support that surrounds me in our old farmhouse, and the uncontrollable terror that always hovers, just out of sight.

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I wanted book lovers to read my book, and I particularly wanted people who struggle with PTSD to read it.  I wanted them to see, in an ‘up-close and personal’ way, how someone else lives — with and, in spite of, PTSD.

But here’s the problem: if you have it, reading about PTSD can be a death-defying thing — or so it feels. It wasn’t until after writing An Honest House that I finally read an article about PTSD – written by my own therapist, for the back of my own book! Even then, I only read it because I had to.

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Shortly after my book went to print, I saw a news story about a prominent person who lives with PTSD. I wrote to commend him on revealing it in public, and also mentioned my upcoming book. He replied warmly — then warned that he’d most likely not read my book. 

Imagine my surprise and pleasure, then, when I recently received a letter and card from him — just like that, out of the blue!

The letter was warm and revealing.

A beloved relative, he wrote, had recently died, and in his grief, he decided to read An Honest House. He found himself immersed in it. 

I alternated between smiling and feeling choked up as I read. How moving to learn that he actually read the book and that it gave him comfort in a challenging time! And how gratifying to know that An Honest House will have a place of honour on his bookshelf. 

As with the vast majority of my readers, I’ve never met this man in person, never even talked to him on the phone. I likely never will.  Yet, in a way, we know each other. 

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Dedicated to everyone who writes to an author whose book they’ve enjoyed.

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Filed under A Good Home, An Honest House, Beauty, Book lovers, Book Readers, Canadian Authors, Canadian Books, Coping, Gratitude, Inspiration, Writers

The Library: My Home Away from Home

Thank you, Toronto Public Library, for including me in your ongoing feature about the people who frequent the library.  I am ‘a bit’ late to post this on my blog, but as you know from the many late fines I’ve paid over the years, I’m always ‘a bit late’!

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Meet Sarah and Cynthia…

“I’m a bookworm and I’ve loved public libraries since I was a child. Steeles branch has a special place in my heart. Why? Because of the kindness of the librarians there over the years when I struggled to recover from injuries caused by a car accident.

“Sarah and I bonded over a book. It was a PD James book and I really wanted to read it. But I was shocked at the long waiting list. I was #1341 on the list! I showed up at the library every two or three weeks to ask a version of the same question:

“What’s my number now?”

“After a while, I didn’t have to ask any more. Sarah would see me arrive and hurry to her computer to start checking.

“We’d share a laugh and sometimes I’d pretend to be outraged that I was nowhere near getting that book.**

“When my book was published, my librarians were among the first people to receive their own signed copies.

I think they were both happy and proud – after all, they had seen me on days when I could barely use a computer.”

**And yes – I did also get the PD James book! It was “Death Comes to Pemberley”, a perfect blend of Jane Austen sensibilities and PD James’ wonderful murder mystery skills.

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Filed under A Good Home, Books, Book lovers, Libraries, Authors, An Honest House