A Good Home, Author Cynthia Reyes, Children's Books, Children's Story, Illustrations by Jo Robinson

Behind the Scenes of A Picture Book

Jo Robinson lives and works in South Africa.

I worked there repeatedly in earlier years. (I even bought this favourite tablecloth in Johannesburg.) But I live in Canada. 

Blog Photo - Dining table with tulips
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Jo and I have never met in person.

Well-respected in the independent publishing world, Jo is an author, editor, book designer and illustrator. I follow her blog so I’d seen this small photo of her there.

Blog Photo - Jo Robinson

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In early January I told my husband: “I’m sending Myrtle to Chris Graham as a guest post for his blog.”  

The printed story of Myrtle the Purple Turtle had been in my desk drawer for 27 years, surviving our family’s house moves.

Hamlin shook his head. “I’m telling you — it should be a book.” 

I sent it to Chris in the UK anyway. 

Chris replied quickly: “I think your husband is right – you should get an illustrator to help you get this made into a children’s picture book.” 

“Trust you men to support each other!” I told Hamlin, hiding a grin.

~~~

On Chris’ recommendation, I sent the story to Jo Robinson. 

Jo quickly replied:  “I love your story and would love to have the opportunity to illustrate it!”

Within days, she sent a few sketches, including this one:

Blog Photo - Myrtle1

And our family knew: this was Myrtle.

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I had difficulty describing the images I wanted.  So back I went to Hamlin, pouring on emotional blackmail: “Since you and Chris are the ones who got me into this trouble, can you help? Pleeease?”

Blog Photo - Garden White Lilac Flowers in Vase
Photo by Hamlin Grange

Hamlin runs a busy company, but he knows photography. Studied it, worked in it and now is my blog photographer.  He understands images. So, next thing you know,  Jo was working with Hamlin and me both… entirely by email.

Our daughters and sons-in-law also have an eye for these things.  So when Jo sent us sketches, I asked their opinions too.

Poor Jo! She was now working with a whole family! (Except for the pets.) 

Blog Photo - Jerome sitting.jpg
Photo by Tim McCarthy

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In August, Jo sent us several versions of the book cover. The picture of Myrtle was the same, but titles and fonts can make a cover look very different.  

We narrowed it down to two then chose one.

Hooray!

I dashed off an email to Jo.

~~~

Minutes later, my friend Jean called.

“I have a vanload of kids here,” she said, sounding breathless — as you’d expect from a woman surrounded by 7 grandkids on a very hot day. “Did you decide on your book cover yet? Would you like me to ask which they like?”

Seven kids, ages 3 to 7. Girls and boys.

Sounded like a focus group from my target readership! 

“I’ll ask them individually, so they don’t influence each other,” Jean said.

I sent her two covers, almost sure which they’d like.

~~

Are you ready for this?

Every child chose the one the adults had rejected!

Back to Jo I went.

“The kids have spoken!” I said. 

“Fabulous!” she replied.

It was the first version she’d created.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle Cover

~~

Daughter Lauren, an expert in digital marketing strategy, took over next.

She and Jo devised banners for my social media platforms, finalized the text and illustrations — and other stuff that I don’t really understand.

Blog Photo - Lauren profile picture

It meant that Jo was now working with the person for whom this book was written 27 years earlier.  Wow. 

laurenreyesgrange_cynthiareyes_blackdoll
Photo Credit: Toronto Star Newspaper

Big thanks to Jo!

And to Chris, Hamlin, Lauren, Dan, Nikisha, Tim and Jean for your contributions. 

 

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A Good Home, Author Cynthia Reyes, Children's Books, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, New Book by Cynthia Reyes

Cover Reveal!

Heeere’s Myrtle!

Sharing the cover with you. I hope you like it.

Myrtle the Purple Turtle will be released in October.

Big thanks to illustrator-designer Jo Robinson.

Myrtle Book Cover

 

A Good Home, Architectural Conservancy, Author Cynthia Reyes, Barns, Canadian Families, Country Homes, Doors Open, Family Moments, Farms, Home Decor

Home at The Grange – Part 4

The house that the Elliott family built back in the late 1850’s fell into the right hands nearly 130 years later.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Apples and Wendy

It’s a good thing it did.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early photo of family and chickens

In 1986, the place was so dilapidated that another buyer might have either demolished the house and barn, or renovated the character out of them.

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Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick early photo of Verandah etc

But the Boothmans had the vision, patience — and resources needed — to bring the property to new life, without destroying its character.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange House CU Hamlin

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Allow me to digress a little at this point, please…

Remember that the Boothman kids refused at first to to move with their parents into the family’s farmhouse? It was Hallowe’en 1986, and with a cemetery for a neighbour, the children were afraid the ghosts would come next door to their home. (See Part 2)

Blog Photo - Doors Open Clarington Photo Cemetery

That historic cemetery is also on the Doors Open tour this year.  

It was the Elliott family who donated the land for this cemetery and the church that once stood there  — Kendal’s first church, New Connexion Methodist.  It was later named for the Elliotts and their neighbours, the McLeans.  

Of the two neighbouring families, the McLeans achieved greater fame.

A McLean grandson, (James Stanley McLean), became founder and president of the well-known Canada Packers company.  Wealthy and influential, James and his wife built a stately Georgian-style house on 50 acres in Toronto.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Estates of Sunnybrook photo of McLean House front

They called it “Bay View” — which later inspired the name of one of Canada’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Bayview Avenue.

Today their former home belongs to world-famous Sunnybrook Hospital.  Renamed “McLean House” in their honour, the house is used for events — a fundraiser for Sunnybrook’s medical research.

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But let’s return to the main story of how the Boothmans saved the Elliott house and created a beloved home for their own family.  

In restoring and renovating the property as they did, Nick and Wendy preserved its history, and went far beyond.

They gave it a new life, deserving of a new name: “The Grange”.  The Boothmans have therefore created a legacy of their own.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick Panorama of House

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Three generations of the Boothman family — and their friends — have enjoyed The Grange.

Wendy remembers that “one of the children’s friends called and asked if he could get married here, saying: ‘The Grange is top of our list because of the memories and the setting. Is it doable?’ “

“Yes”, she replied.

In all, five weddings have been held here. Son Thomas, and 4 of the children’s friends, all held their weddings at The Grange.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of wedding

Much has changed in 31 years.

 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Bernice Photo The Grange2

Wendy has launched a variety of ground-breaking projects. She’s assisted on some long-distance projects too. Born in S. Africa, she’s proud of helping her brother-in-law Mike with a project, led by Nelson Mandela, to develop effective volunteerism in S. Africa.

Blog Photo - Doors open MikeandMandela

More recently, she won, on behalf of Durham Region, the Guinness world record for the longest picnic table in the world.

Nick, meanwhile, has become a well-known author of several books.

Blog Photo - Nicholas Boothman Book 2

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The Boothman children have grown up. Wendy and Nick now have 5 grandchildren.

It’s the grandchildren’s time to explore and enjoy The Grange — this home settled by the Elliotts and transformed by the Boothmans, more than a hundred years apart.

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Grandkids and kites.JPG

It doesn’t snow as heavily as it used to, and Wendy misses the snow. But she and Nick cherish their home, with its “peace and quiet, the gardens and the views”.

On June 10th, 2017, as part of Doors Open Clarington, The Grange hosts its biggest audience: hundreds of people from the area and far beyond will explore this storied home. 

Blog Photo - Doors Open Nick photo of Grandkids at mailbox

Wendy and Nick will warmly welcome everyone, happy that they took the risk, 31 years ago, of restoring a property that many would have rejected.

What an achievement.

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Photo Credits:

McLean House photo from The Estates of Sunnybrook

Photo 5 by Hamlin Grange

3rd, 6th & 11th  photos by Bernice Norton

9th, 10th and 12th photos by C. McSorley

14th photo by Marilyn Morawecz

Other photos provided by Nicholas Boothman

~~

To contact Doors Open Clarington:

Co- Chairperson Bernice Norton

905-623-9982

bernice_norton@hotmail.com

~~

Thanks to Doors Open Clarington and the Boothmans for research assistance.

A Good Home, An Honest House, Author Cynthia Reyes, Book Reviews, Books, Great books, New Books

A Summer of Great Reviews

What a precious gift from a reader to an author! Taking the time to buy, read and review their book.

My great thanks to:

Hilary Custance Green (UK), acclaimed author of Surviving the Death Railway and The Green Writing Room blog.  An Honest House was her companion during her own book tour:  

AN HONEST HOUSE AND AN ALBRIZIA

I loved Cynthia Reyes’s first Memoir  A Good Home, so I picked up the continuing story An Honest House in happy anticipation. This is a book with a perfect title and has been my companion during a more than hectic summer….                         Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 20.22.10

I laughed over the Valentine, I wept over Keats, I laughed over ‘a job that pays’. There are few easy-walking meadows in this story, because it is about the mountains and valleys. Among the things that struck me was Cynthia’s insistence on facing up to something we all know – it is never a good time for a difficult or dangerous conversation – and dealing with it so courageously….

Read More at:  https://greenwritingroom.com/2016/08/05/an-honest-house-and-an-albrizia/

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Tina of Chase N Chance Ranch (USA), who took An Honest House along on her summer vacation:  

BOOK SUGGESTION

On our vacation I brought along the new book (An Honest House: A Memoir, Continued) of one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Cynthia Reyes.

Living on a small hobby farm, working part time, having two children who play multiple travel level sports, and trying to fit in a little me time is always a challenge.  I figured I would be able to get in at least a chapter or two while away for those 6 days.  After the third day, my family threatened to hide my book as I finished it and was starting it over again.  I did not want to put it down!!

 Read More at:  https://chasenchanceranch.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/book-suggestion/

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Chip Barkel, realtor and writer (Canada), who made both A Good Home and An Honest House his summer picks:  

SUMMER READING: CYNTHIA REYES’S A GOOD HOME & AN HONEST HOUSE

“Ambercroft Farm, the sign out front said. Hamlin was on a first name basis with the grand old farmhouse right from the start, calling it Ambercroft. For years, I didn’t call it anything at all. The tall, two-story Victorian house seemed sealed off from the rest of the neighbourhood. Within a solid wooden fence and gates, massive maples waved big leafy arms. Pines and dense blue-green spruces soared. A cedar hedge ran the length of the property on one side. This was a private place, sure of its personality and power.”

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I often think as I walk through neighbourhoods that behind every shuttered window is a story. Often those stories are ones only the walls and maybe a few select people ever witness. For some a house is a sanctuary, but when life presents a crisis….

Read More at:  http://www.chipbarkel.com/blog/summer-reading-cynthia-reyess-good-home-honest-house/

Chip, Tina and Hilary: I thank you all. 

Note to Readers:

If you’ve recently read a book you like, especially one by a new or Indie author, would you please consider reviewing it online