A Good Home, Book Festivals, Book Interviews, Book lovers, Books, Children's Books, Paul Mason

The Multi-Talented Paul Mason

Paul Nicholas Mason is an actor, playwright and novelist. He’s acted in multiple films but confesses he has few photos of himself because he is bad at self-promotion.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason MCU

So I told him to have some taken! He sent a few, apologizing:

“With nearly 35 projects (including ten feature films) under my belt, you’d think I could offer you more.”

Blog Photo - Paul Mason in character as a butler

I wanted to introduce Paul on my blog for three reasons. He’s created a new career in film for himself after taking early retirement from teaching;  he will be appearing at the Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, east of Toronto on Friday Nov. 3 and Saturday Nov. 4; plus he has a new book on the market.

Paul’s published books include the novels  Battered Soles, The Red Dress and The Night Drummer. 

Blog Photo - Poppy book cover

The new book, A Pug Called Poppy, is his first chapter book for children. It’s illustrated by artist Sarah Berrino.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason Poppy and Human

Paul says he’s excited about the book because he feels its central characters — Poppy the Pug and Smudge the Maine Coon Cat — “will meow and snuffle their way into a great many hearts.”

“I have such fond and powerful memories of the books I enjoyed as a little boy — Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington Bear, The Borrowers, Swallows and Amazons, the Narnia Chronicles.  It would make me happy to feel that I had introduced a character into the imaginative life of children.”

Blog Photo - Paul Mason and Reader

A Pug Called Poppy is meant to appeal particularly to 8 to 10-year-olds. But then there are adults like me, who love it too.

“There are a lot of little grace notes, little touches, that will amuse adults,” Paul says.

Yes!  I stand amused.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason Poppy

 

But let’s head back to Paul’s acting career. He has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard, and as a result, does a great variety of voice-over work for film. (One of his first roles was playing the part of a “lecherous duck”.)

To be closer to his beloved family and have greater access to movie shoots, Paul recently moved from Peterborough to Newcastle, a quaint lakeside town east of Toronto. Though he misses his Peterborough friends, he says he’s delighted with his neighbours, with the town’s library and swimming pool, and by being closer to family.

Blog Photo - Paul Mason and Granddaughter

If you’re in the Cobourg-Northumberland area this weekend, you can meet Paul at the book fair at the Festival of the Arts, November 3 and 4.

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival of the Arts Photo

And if you haven’t yet, then one of these days, you just may hear/see him in a movie.

 

 

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A Good Home, An Honest House, Author Cynthia Reyes, Book Interviews, Books, Canadian life, Inspiration, PTSD

Up Close and Personal

I have good news to share: my second book comes out this spring.

I can hardly believe it.

When a radio interviewer asked me in 2014 about a second book, I told her I’d started a sequel to A Good Home but had run away from it. In the new book I had bravely/foolishly decided to confront what it’s like to live with PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder — and it terrified me.

I embarked on a gardening book instead. After all, I love gardening. But I hate PTSD!

~~

No-one pushed me to return to the book I’d dropped, but something happened that made me see that I had to face my monsters again — in writing.

My thanks to everyone who has encouraged and helped me along the way. In addition to family and close friends, I’ve had one doctor encouraging me to “Write!”; one therapist-researcher-writer who directly contributed to the book; two mentors, two editors, one publisher; one painter and one photographer; great beta readers and one discussion guide producer.

Book Cover AHH - Painting by S. MacKendrick
Cover painting by S. MacKendrick

I hope the book will inspire discussions – among families and friends; in book clubs and workplaces; among therapists, doctors and others. I imagine some will discuss what happens in a  family when one member is seriously incapacitated; some may talk about the nature of survival and faith; therapists and doctors may discuss the treatment of PTSD and Chronic Pain and why both are so hard to accept, especially by the people afflicted with them.

And I hope all readers will reflect on love and courage. Both are recurring topics in this book.  (And most of the courage isn’t mine, by the way.)

The Canada Council for the Arts recognized my writing with a small grant to pay for some of the expenses involved in writing a book like this. Thank you, Canada Council, for that vote of confidence. 

Above all, this book is an up-close and personal look at a much-changed life.  Some of it is painful, some parts hilarious, and some are both.  

The book – An Honest House – comes out in June. 

Book Cover Promo - Coming Soon

 

 

 

A Good Home, Book Interviews, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Christmas Decorations, Good wishes, Gratitude, Kindness, Laughter, Life Challenges

Incredible You

Readers of this blog and A Good Home have encouraged my family and me through some crazy times this year. 

Blog photo - Winter arrsangement cu 3

You’ve consoled and encouraged me in the domestic arts, including the two times I tried making outdoor Christmas arrangements!  Several readers offered compliments, tips, commiseration, inspiration.

And Arna sent me this photo. 

Blog Photo - Reader Arna's Planter

“I told you I have a planter like yours!” she said.

Yes, Arna, but yours is far more assured. 

**

From last fall to this spring, I had to abandon virtually all my book-related activities and take to my bed.

Some of you decided to help.  You bought my book, and wrote wonderful reviews.

Phil reviewed A Good Home for an American book website last year, then created computer-assisted images promoting the book. 

Book - Philip Young's photo

Blog Photo - Reader Philip's Owl Photo

John G. took my book with him on his annual canoe trip, then wrote a review too.

Book - with bagel and gloves in Johns canoe

**

In Avery, Texas, 90 year old Lou Mathis and his wife Aggie were themselves struggling this September.  Their farm business was suffering because of its name, “Isis”.  (Isis was the ancient Egyptian goddess, but in today’s climate, not a popular name.)

Lou asked on their blog: “WHAT DO YOU THINK? For some reason I refuse to give up the… ISIS FARMS. But would painting the sign OVER IN GREEN……”

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

I asked you to reply to Lou and Aggie and many of you did.  Wonderful, caring replies that helped them make their decision. It’s now  called “Aggie’s Farm”.

Photo by Aggie's Farm
Photos by Aggie’s Farm

**

In October, Canada’s national radio network, CBC,  aired my interview with celebrated host Shelagh Rogers.

Blog Photo - Shelagh Rogers and The Next chapter

I’d been nervous about it. But people like John V. wrote to my blog afterwards:

“I heard you speak on the radio about healing and it gave me perspective and hope for my own circumstances. Sincere thanks for sharing.”

Such validation for a book completed in dire times!

**

On crazily painful days, I often forced myself to write poems, making fun of myself and my home life.  Some (like Stiletto Heels) became blog posts, which made you laugh, uplifting me in return.

Image via shopflyjane.com
Image via shopflyjane.com

Andra wrote: “I absolutely howled with laughter reading this. Thanks, Cynthia! Have had similar thoughts watching the young ladies strutting about in high heels and skimpy dresses in inclement weather. And like you, I recall being just as foolish back in the day. Great poem.”

**

Then, without warning this fall, life changed perilously. My husband nearly died.

Titled No Words, my poem expressed the raw agony our family experienced.

In reply, you warmly supported us with prayers, consolation and good wishes.

Incredible kindness, especially because I’ve never met most of you in person.

**

“Thank you” hardly seems enough. But thank you, anyway.

For your kindness.

And for being part of my world.

My best,

Cynthia.

A Good Home, Author Interviews, Book Interviews, Books, Interview Shows, The Next Chapter

WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE

Pushing the limits is risky, even reckless.

But I learned early that pushing the limits was the only way to succeed.

Book launch Cynthia reads and smiles closeup

It took long-term injuries from a car accident for me to learn – angrily, grudgingly – that some mountains aren’t surmountable.

Along the way, I gave my doctors, therapists and family a helluva time.

Apologized sincerely each time.

And yet, here I was, pushing the limits again.

**

You have to hand it to chronic pain: it’s cruel, but consistent.

Post traumatic stress disorder lives in the shadows, striking unexpectedly.

It’s my own personal terrorist.

I’ve had therapy and medication. But just when I think I’m improving, the damned thing strikes again.

Book cynthia closeup reading at Evas

It gives me nightmares, and in the daylight, jumps out of memory bushes I didn’t even know were there. Then I become terrified, and if I speak at all, it’s a tortured stutter.

Can you imagine that happening on a radio or TV interview about my new book?

agoodhome_cynthiareyesThis was one limit not worth pushing.

**

ONE YEAR LATER

Radio hosts Felicity Sidnell Reid and Gwynn Scheltema just wouldn’t quit.

Blog Photo - Felicity Sidnell Reid

Blog Photo - Interviewer Gwyn Scheltema

In late summer, they finally got me into their studio for their show,  Word On The Hills.

They’d agreed to accommodate my restrictions.

And I used every tool my therapist taught me – even making fun of myself.  

Listen to all or part of it here:

  http://wordonthehills.com/2014/08/31/cynthia-reyes/

**

Then came the second interview.

I had foolishly said “Yes” a year earlier — then prayed it wouldn’t happen.

My family and friends were the ones pushing me this time.

Blog Photo - Shelagh Rogers and The Next chapter

“Shelagh Rogers is a wonderful interviewer,” they kept saying. “She’s skilled and compassionate. She won’t let you fall on your face.”

It wasn’t Shelagh’s skills or compassion that worried me.

It was the fact that she’s been so candid about her own struggles that I knew I had to open up about mine.

Worse, she’d be coming to the place where I am most myself: my home.

All of this meant that I was headed for disaster.

**

We walked around the garden, chatting pleasantly.

Flowers bloomed, birds sang, the sun shone.

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Shelagh and Cynthia in Garden

And then it was time.

**

Afterwards, my friend Marilyn arranged afternoon tea for all of us. I remembered most of that lovely event, but almost nothing of the interview that preceded it.

I know an interview took place.  I know I cried at times. And I remembered kindness from Shelagh and her team. 

I later heard the interview along with CBC Radio listeners across Canada. Listen here
Blog Photo - Cynthia Reyes on The Next Chapter

So, what did I learn?  

That laughter helps. (And tea.)

That pushing myself remains risky. 

But sometimes, I have to take the risk.

**

Thank you, Shelagh, Felicity, Gwyn and your teams.