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

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.

book-photos-cards-from-readers[1]

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.

~~

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.

~~

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. 

~~

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

A Good Home, An Honest House, Book Blessing and Launch, Book launch, Book lovers, Canadian Authors, Canadian Books, Canadian Homes, Canadian life

Book Blessed and Launched

Last weekend, my book was blessed and launched.

By our priest, Rev. Canon Claire Wade at St. Thomas’ Anglican in the village of Brooklin, Ontario

Book Photo at Launch Rev Canon Claire

And our church community, family and friends

Book Photo at Launch with Reader D

At 9.a.m in the morning of a long weekend, no less!

Book Photo at Launch Cynthia Reading

It was a full house. The food was great, the speeches were short, and I didn’t stutter or cry while reading.

Book Photo at Launch Small Group 4

Book Photos at Launch small group smiles

Book Photo at Launch Group applauds

Book Photo At Launch with Jane .JPG

Thanks to Hamlin for the photos and to publisher Don Bastian for his beautiful speech below:

Book Photo at Launch Don B
Publisher Don Bastian

“I’ve attended many book launches, but this is the first book blessing I’ve ever heard of.  I think there should be more of them!

In my experience as an editor and reader, memoir writers fall into one of two camps.

In one camp are those who create a book. Their book falls somewhere on the spectrum from boring waste of space to keen insight into a life well spent. But in the end, all they have created is a book.

Book Photo at Launch Small Group 3

 

In the other camp, and this camp is less populous, are those who create a book, of course, but who also create a world. In some mysterious way, in telling the story of their own life, they tell the story of their readers’ lives, as well.

I think you know into which camp Cynthia Reyes has pitched her tent.

Book Photo at Launch 2

Opening the pages of AN HONEST HOUSE is like opening a colourful gift. Yes, we do grapple with the pain we are subject to, having messed things up in the Garden of Eden. But we do get closer to the border of that wonderful garden. We are drawn into Cynthia and Hamlin’s literal garden and into their big-hearted marriage and church relationships and extensive set of friendships. And we are so much the better for it.

And so I am honoured to congratulate Cynthia on her new book. To congratulate her for displaying:

  • great skill as the writer of a book;
  • supreme artistry as the creator of a world;
  • and amazing grace to confer on us, her readers, honorary citizenship in that world.”

~~

Thank you, Don, Hamlin, Rev. Canon Claire, Sharon and everyone who took part.

 

 

 

A Good Home, Author Interviews, Authors, Canadian Authors, Canadian Books, Canadian life, Newly Released Books

At Home With Author Paul Nicholas Mason

2015 isn’t even half-way through yet, but it’s already a big year for author-playwright Paul Nicholas Mason.

His third book, The Night Drummer, was launched to acclaim.

Blog Photo - Paul Nicholas Mason at book launch for The Night Drummer

He became a grandfather.

He retired from teaching.

He’s writing his fourth novel and his umpteenth play.

Wow.

~~

Paul lives north of Toronto. He writes in his study at home.

Blog Photo - Paul with TND book

“It looks out on conservation lands at the back of my property, so my view is of trees.  Trees are very important to me.”

Not surprising that one of his most favorite places is the Rotary Greenway Trail, near his home.

“During the summer I’m on the trail almost every day.  That trail, incidentally, is the setting for my first novel, Battered Soles.

The setting of an earlier home also provided inspiration — for the new book. The setting and some characters in The Night Drummer  are linked to Kingston, Ontario where he lived.

“Indeed, one of the characters – but only one – is based solidly on one of my high school classmates…  I don’t altogether understand my own creative process, but I can tell you that the character of Otis, the Aboriginal young man, came to me first.”

The Night Drummer tells the story of two teenagers in small-town Ontario: Peter Ellis, a white boy and Otis James, who is Aboriginal.

Blog Photo - Paul N Mason Book Cover TND

An excerpt from the Publishers Weekly review:

“Ellis’s memories of first loves and jobs and an endearingly oddball assortment of friends, including Otis, a preternaturally wise and kind Ojibwe boy adopted by devout Caucasian parents, give this portrait a welcome sweetness that draws attention to the innocence, sheer possibility, and blithe lightheartedness of youth. ‘Small towns can be ugly places,’ Ellis remarks, ‘but they can be warm communities too.’  Nostalgic but not sanitized, this novel shows the interplay of the two, with captivating results.”

Blog Photo - Paul in study

Paul taught high school students for 32 years.

“I loved the young people I taught, and I loved my colleagues. Teaching is a noble profession, but it is, at times, stunningly stressful.  I knew that I needed to get out while I was still whole.”

Having retired from teaching, Paul plans to write, of course.  He’s blessed with a deep and melodious speaking voice, so he’ll also do some voice work.

He’ll spend more time with family. For Paul, family is the real ‘home’.

“I am, first and foremost, a family man:  father to two children and two step-children;  grandfather to an infant granddaughter;  son to Michael and Muriel;  brother to Robin and Angie;  uncle to a niece and two nephews;  and partner to Denise.” 

Blog Photo - Paul with first grandchild 2

Underpinning the different parts of his life is what Paul calls his “moral scaffolding”. He describes himself as a liberal Christian.

“I’m the furthest thing imaginable from a Bible-thumper, but I am, quietly, a believer.  I don’t think a reader would necessarily pick up on that from reading any of my books, but my faith provides a kind of moral scaffolding.”

And his hopes for The Night Drummer?

“I hope it will move many readers to laughter and, perhaps, to tears.  And I hope, beyond that, that it will encourage them to be a just a little kinder to each other.”

Bravo, Paul.