A Good Home, Authors, Book lovers, Books, Following your dreams, Great books, Great Prices on Books

YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog posts, and/or has read my book, A Good Home. It matters!

A few weeks ago, A Good Home stood at #33 in Women’s Biographies, and #85 in Biographies and Memoirs overall on amazon.ca.  Welcome news indeed – especially for a book produced by a small publisher on a very small promotion budget.

But just as my book was speeding up the ranks of all books on amazon.ca (the primary link on all my Christmas promos), I learned a painful lesson: in the book business, you can’t take anything for granted. The online bookseller ran out of stock. It posted an advisory telling buyers that the book would not be shipped to them till after Christmas.  I contacted amazon.ca over and over – and watched my book’s ranking slide down the charts. Not surprisingly, buyers wanted the book before Christmas.

All this happened just days after I’d  cancelled all public book events (doctor’s orders) and stayed home to rest.

Today, Amazon has finally  fixed the problem, and both it and Chapters Indigo are selling A Good Home at a great price this week. My great thanks to Chapters Indigo.ca who ordered enough stock, and whose service to buyers of A Good Home has been terrific.

But time’s running out for people to buy their Christmas gifts.  So, I’m asking your help: could you please a) consider buying the book as a gift and b) forward the link to this post to your networks? 

A GOOD HOME: A Great Gift. A Great Price.

A Good Home - A memoir by Cynthia Reyes
A Good Home – A memoir by Cynthia Reyes

Please click on these links for great deals:

Chapters Indigo

Amazon  (Canada)

amazon.com

The book is also available on amazon.co.uk., barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers. If A Good Home makes it to the bestseller list, it will be thanks to you and others who buy it.

HUGE THANKS TO YOU, AND MY BEST WISHES.

REVIEWS OF A GOOD HOME

 A Good Home has attracted great reviews, including these:

Anne Day, Company of Women:

“This is a beautifully-written book that demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of faith and love.”

Susan Marjetti, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

“Read 14 books this summer. Most memorable? A Good Home, by Toronto’s Cynthia Reyes. An enriching and lasting experience.”

Gail Scala, Writer and Gardener:

“From her childhood home in the hills of Jamaica to the various country-like settings in Toronto and surrounding areas, Reyes bares her soul as she describes each home in loving detail while she searches to find meaning and significance in the path her life leads her on. Her homes and the gardens that surround them are described in exquisite detail and they take on personalities of their own as they become her sanctuary, her prison or her saviour. A wonderful piece of work that resonates a long time after you close the cover.

Jacqui Denomme, London Public Library:

“As exciting as fiction but even more so because these stories are real and true, unique and universal at the same time. I found myself wanting to tell everyone to read this charming and beautifully written book.

For more informationcynthia.reyes@rogers.com or visit: www.csreyes.wordpress.com/agoodhome/

Cynthia.

A Good Home, Authors, Book Festivals, Books, Famous people, Great books, Poetry

The Introvert at the Party

Photos by Hamlin Grange

What’s an introvert like me doing at a party with famous authors?

Feeling a bit lost among strangers, is what. The room is packed with authors – the very well-known and not-so-well known –  from around the world.  A quick look at the program book for the prestigious International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront in Toronto and you’ll see names like Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden and Margaret Drabble.

Blog - IFOA Reception

I, meanwhile,  am new to this author thing: my book, A Good Home” was only recently released. Hamlin Grange and Leonie McKnight-Copeland, a childhood friend visiting from Connecticut, are with me. As usual, several people recognize Hamlin from his frequent appearances on CBC Television where he was a news anchor and journalist. But none of us knows anyone here.

We join the line for appetizers and drinks.  I use a cane and  can’t manage it plus a plate and a glass, so Leonie and I head to a table in a connecting room while Hamlin  goes back inside for the drinks.

Finally, we return to the party. I once possessed the fine skill of mixing and mingling with strangers and celebrities at cocktail parties.  I’ve been away from that world for such a long time since the accident, I’ve forgotten how;  I’ve become an introvert.  But my eye catches a young woman who looks as shy as me, and I go over to say a warm hello.  Then I realize that there are other people with her,  so I move on.

My companions and I are glad to bump into a relaxed-looking man who greets us warmly.  We spend several minutes chatting with him.

Blog - With Attila

He turns out to be Attila Berki, associate publisher of Quill and Quire magazine. He says that the young woman I  approached was Eleanor Catton, the Canadian-born author whose book, The Luminaries, just won the Man Booker Prize.

Feeling a bit foolish, I return and apologize to Eleanor for not having recognized her.

“And I really should have, because I was very proud to hear that a Canadian-born author won the prize. You live in – is it Australia, or…?”

The moment I say this, I know I’m wrong, and Eleanor corrects me gently. “New Zealand,” she says.

“I know that”, I groan.

But Eleanor smiles warmly at me. We part, with me feeling only slightly idiotic.

And then it occurs to me that there’s a whole roomful of other authors who don’t know anyone else here either.   I force myself to smile brightly and say hello to everyone I come across who looks a little lost. Each person smiles back warmly, almost with relief, it seems.

Blog - Small group

Ironically, the only famous author whom I recognize is wearing someone else’s name tag. Going along with this little deception, I pretend not to notice.

“You have to come say hello to Austin,” Hamlin says, returning to my side. “He’s across the room.” I go off to see Austin Clarke, a huge smile on my face.

Austin’s sitting in a dark corner. The winner of the Giller Prize and several other prestigious honours sits by himself on a black leather bench, looking regal yet removed. “Like a sort of eminence grise?”  I tease him.

“Or the lion of Judah,” he offers, laughing softly. I slip my arm through his and we laugh together companionably. I’ve known him for years.

Blog - Austin and Cynthia

Austin’s new book of poetry, Where the Sun Shines Best, is nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award, and he’s at work on his memoirs. As we sit together, looking at the crowd,  I, the brand-new author, am honoured to be chatting quietly with this famous Canadian man of letters. We laughingly compare the canes we use to walk around, and I have to agree that his brown wooden African cane is much nicer. (See above photo, extreme right of frame)

A man who works at Harbourfront approaches, bringing Austin a more comfortable chair. He almost-kneels, almost-reverently, to shake Austin’s hand. He’s a fan of Austin’s Giller-winning novel, The Polished Hoe, and he greets Austin as if meeting a head of state.

Leonie and Hamlin join us to chat with Austin. No-one else approaches us, and I realize that this roomful of mostly younger or foreign authors probably does not realize that this black man with the shoulder-length grey dreadlocks is Austin Clarke, one of Canada’s greatest.

Hamlin, Leonie and I take turns giving Austin a goodbye hug.  As we leave, we look around for Attila, to say thanks and goodbye. We don’t find him. But it’s been a good evening, and – introvert though I am –  I am grateful to Harbourfront  and the IFOA for  inviting us to take part.

A Good Home, Arabella, Authors, Books, Famous people, Great books, Inspiration, Thanks

A Salute to These Kind, Fabulous Authors

A few weeks ago, I thanked all of you who’ve read my book,  A Good Home,  so far. (Many of you also take the time to send me letters and cards, which I love.)

But did I ever tell you about the authors who have also graced my journey? What a gift that’s been!

First, Louise Penny. This Canadian author is known for her Inspector Gamache/Three Pines mysteries.  Her lyrical, emotional, insightful writing has won several big awards and put her books on the New York Times bestseller list.

The day I discovered my first Louise Penny book was shortly after I’d turned in my latest feature story to Arabella Magazine. That feature story – written several years before – was titled Possession. It was about the deeply rooted hunger to possess precious things. Louise’s book, The Brutal Telling, was about a deeply-rooted hunger to possess precious things. I was amazed by the serendipity.

Blog - The Brutal Telling

Louise bravely explores that borderland place where the unexplained and the divine intersect with the here and now, the temporal. It’s something I try to do in some of my own writing.

But it was Louise’s own back story – and the similarities between her life and mine — that most surprised me.

We are, I discovered, both Ryerson graduates, both former CBC journalists. But that’s just the stuff that goes into resumes. As I read about her, I realized that we’d both also known what it was like to hit rock-bottom. I was still going through a harrowing fight against painful injuries from a car accident and the very painkillers that were meant to help me cope. Louise had fought a lengthy battle against alcoholism.

I took all these similarities as a sign from above – one of those borderland moments where the divine intersects with the temporal.  It was time, I decided, to get serious about the book I’d started writing a long time ago. But first, I wrote to Louise herself.

Blog - Louise Penny

“The publisher sent me the story layout for my final sign-off just one day before I started your book”, I wrote, referring to the Arabella story, “and as I read your novel, I thought – with a shiver – ‘this is another of my life’s unexplained coincidences’.”

She wrote me back right away: “We seem like sisters,” she said. “I’m glad you’ve discovered my books – and suspect you are a gifted, fabulous writer.”

Such kind encouragement. Louise’s next email contained advice for me as a would-be author. Before you send your manuscript to a publisher or agent, she urged, polish, polish, polish. It’s your one chance, so make it the best it can be.

As I neared the completion of the manuscript, other authors helped.

Blog - Yvonne Blackwood

Yvonne Blackwood, author of Into Africa: The Return, repeatedly helped me polish. She suggested small improvements throughout the text.

Lee Gowan, creative writing professor at the University of Toronto and author of Confession, paid me a precious compliment: he read the manuscript to his mother.

“It was a very moving experience, I can tell you,” Lee wrote.  “Often had a tear or two in my eyes and a hitch in my voice as I was trying to read through.” Lee also stopped me from editing out a whole section of the book that, it turns out, readers love.

Blog - Lee Gowan

When the book was completed, and in the hands of the publisher, I wanted to find out from an author what this next period would be like. Given my need to pace myself, and still attend therapy for long-term injuries, I wanted to make the best of limited resources. Enter Ann Preston, author of The No-Grainer Baker cookbook.

Blog - No Grainer Baker

She was introduced to me by a friend. Ann became a guardian angel, telling me what to expect, and, with her own book on its way to becoming a bestseller, sharing tips by the week.

Blog - Ann Preston

Jan Wong (who self-published her most recent book, Out of the Blue) had experienced both traditional and self publishing. She openly shared her experience with promoting and distributing her books, while I made notes of everything from postage rates for books to dealing with invitations for book readings.

Blog - Jan Wong

Authors Merilyn Simonds, Olive Senior and Donna Kakonge also encouraged me.

With wise words of support, small notes of caution, and precious bits of common-sense, these authors helped me to make A Good Home a success. Bravo and Thanks to them all. 

A Good Home, Book lovers, Book Reviews, Great books, Libraries, New Category Nam

Red Shoes At The Library

The woman at the London Public Library wore red.

Red shoes.

She was supposed to attend another event that evening, but came to my book reading at the library, wearing her red shoes. It was a direct reference to a highly charged passage about red shoes in my book, A Good Home.  It was also a sign of camaraderie and support to an author whom she’d never met.

Image via: Google Images
Image via: Google Images

 

She was not the only person who had already read the book. There were several in the room, including library professional Jacqui Denomme. Exactly one year before this event, Jacqui, who works with the London Public Library, read my short story (about two much-loved homes) in the Globe and Mail newspaper. She immediately wrote a letter of praise about the story to the editor. That letter was passed on to me.

Through the months leading up to the publication of A Good Home, Jacqui and I kept in touch by email. When the book was released, she was one of the first people to read it. She then showed it to her supervisor, Elizabeth Egleston.

I therefore should not have been surprised that the first library to order the book was the London Public Library.

“You’ve started a trend,” I told Jacqui and Elizabeth. “More and more libraries in Canada have now ordered copies of A Good Home.”

A Good Home - A memoir by Cynthia Reyes
A Good Home – A memoir by Cynthia Reyes

Libraries have meant a lot to me since childhood. And decades later, my local public library became one of the few places I visited repeatedly in the years after the car accident. At a time when I had difficulty walking, talking and when even trying to read a book gave me blinding headaches, the librarians there guided me to audio books.

When I started reading books again, they often helped me choose. Some days, when I stumbled into the library, mumbling incoherently,  two librarians rushed to help me at once. And so, when A Good Home was finally published, my husband and I brought a copy of the book for each librarian, with heartfelt thank-you notes.

Knowing how much libraries had helped me, I wanted my book to be in libraries. With this strong desire, and my close connection to public libraries, I was thrilled when the invitation came from the London Public Library.

On September 25, my husband and I traveled to London for the reading at the Stoney Creek branch of the London Public Library. We met Jacqui and Elizabeth in person for the first time.

I started the session by reading the short story from the Globe that had started the connection between the LPL and me.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange

Just minutes earlier, Jean, an audience member, had stuck out her feet, clad in pretty red shoes for me and everyone else to see. Somehow, those red shoes and Jacqui’s warm introduction kicked off the event in just the right way.

It was a perfect evening.

My thanks to Jacqui and Elizabeth, to Jean (and her red shoes), and all the patrons and local residents who came out to meet me, buy my book, and hear me read.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange

The evening reinforced my impression that the best of these events are a true give-and-take between author and readers. It was a terrific discussion, and I appreciated both the laughter and the moving comments  that were made about homes and family relationships.

Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange
Photography Credit: Hamlin Grange – Photo shows Jacqui Denomme on right

p.s. If A Good Home isn’t in your local library, please ask the librarian to bring it in.  I’ve found that libraries are very helpful in bringing in books for their patrons.