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Bloggers Helping Bloggers

It’s one of the big surprises of my writing life.

Discovering that becoming a blogger meant I was joining a worldwide community.  A community that cares, and helps.

I became a blogger because my daughters thought I needed to “get myself out there”. I was struggling with the effects of a head injury and damage to my body; I’d become ashamed of myself and extremely reclusive.

Blog Photo - Pink Phlox and Butterfly

Blogging helped pull me out of hiding by giving me pen-pals all over the world.  As I read their stories — or their comments on mine — we started getting to know and care about each other’s projects and well-being.  They inspired and uplifted me.

Bloggers also help each other in practical ways:

Tweeting: Some bloggers often/routinely retweet my (and others’) posts. Take a bow, Wendy MacDonald, Sally Cronin, Sarah Vernon, Tina Frisco, Annika Perry, D.G. Kaye and all of you who do this!

Reblogging: It’s a great compliment when followers reblog a post. Props to Sally Cronin; Chris (The StoryReadingApe); Marcia Meara;  Bernadette; and many others who do this routinely.

Blog Photo - Sally Cronin2
Sally Cronin

Helpful insights: Bloggers such as Gallivanta, Clare Pooley and Lavinia are likely to share a helpful insight, fact or contact in their comments. I always take note!

Writing Tips: Bloggers share tips to improve our writing — blogs or books. Props to Michael Dellert, Sue Uttendorfsky, and many others.

Connections: The best story I know is my own. Chris Graham connected me with Jo Robinson to illustrate Myrtle the Purple Turtle. A great partnership was born. I’ve been recommending Jo as an illustrator and editor ever since.

Author Services:  Jo, Kev Cooper,  Jeanne Balsam and others offer one or a range of services at affordable rates:  editing, design, illustration, publishing, promotions and promotional materials such as bookmarks and posters.

Recognition:  Blogger-reviewer-author Kev Cooper reads many books and started the Diamond Book Awards. Other bloggers give book/blog awards too.

Blog Photo - Diamond Book Award 2017

Promotions: Sally and Chris are the best I know, generously promoting what seems like hundreds of authors each year. How they find the time, I don’t know, but  — take a bow, you two!

Featuring other Bloggers: I do this on my blog, as do many others.

Blog Photo - Yvonne at Desk
Yvonne Blackwood

Blog Photo - Gift of memoir front cover

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Diane Taylor

Deliberately Buying each other’s Books:   All my purchases/requested Christmas gifts from family are books from small presses and especially by indie authors who blog.  I borrow books by the big-name authors from the library.

Blog Photo - Sally Cronin book

Blog Photo - Maya and the book of everything

Blog Photo - Donna K Mind Book

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Giving feedback on Manuscripts: When the draft is done but you’re still not sure and a blogger gives feedback, that’s a major gift.

Reading and Reviewing each other’s books: When a blogger reads my book then reviews it on Goodreads, Amazon or even better – their own blog — that’s a gift! Take a bow, everyone who does this! Thanks to bloggers who’ve done this for me.

Blog Photo - Lavinia Album cover

Spreading the Word:  We spread the word about each other’s books in circles beyond blogging. Lavinia Ross and Gallivanta: Thank you for spreading the word about Myrtle in your own circles and beyond.

Praying/holding faith for each other: We celebrate other bloggers’ “wins”. Invariably, we also learn about their life struggles. When my husband was critically ill, bloggers around the world expressed concern. Many were praying. And when my blogger friends or loved ones face troubles, I do the same.

Been helped by bloggers or helped? Please share!

 

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Remembering Austin

Photos by Hamlin Grange

~~This is an abbreviated version of a 2013 post~~

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

Feeling a bit lost among strangers, is what.  The program book for the prestigious International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront in Toronto reveals names like Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden and Margaret Drabble.

Blog - IFOA Reception

I, meanwhile,  am new to this author thing: my first book, “A Good Home” was only recently released. Hamlin Grange and our friend Leonie McKnight-Copeland accompany 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.

I once possessed the fine skill of mixing and mingling with celebrities.  I’ve been away from that world for such a long time since the accident, I’ve forgotten how.  

I see a young woman who looks as shy as me, and I say a warm hello. Other people surround her,  so I move on.

A relaxed-looking man greets us. 

Blog - With Attila

He introduces himself: Attila Berki, associate publisher of Quill and Quire magazine. He says the young woman I  greeted is Eleanor Catton, whose book, The Luminaries, just won the Man Booker Prize.

 

Blog - Small group

I recognize another famous author, but he’s wearing someone else’s name tag. Despite the disguise, he too is surrounded.

“Come say hello to Austin,” Hamlin says, returning to my side. “He’s across the room.” I am thrilled to see Austin Clarke, whom I know.  In fact, Austin is one of my heroes. Born in the Caribbean, the man and his books are known for ‘speaking truth to power’ about racism in our society. 

The literary giant — winner of the Giller Prize and other prestigious honours — sits by himself in the shadows, removed, yet regal. “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.

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 out at the crowd,  I, the brand-new author, am surprised but happy to have this famous Canadian man of letters all to myself.

We chat, but not about books. Austin’s a famously great cook, and I’m infamously not. We both use canes to walk around. He claims his cane is superior to mine; I reluctantly, laughingly, agree. (See above photo, extreme right.)

A waiter approaches. He’s a fan of Austin’s Giller-winning novel, The Polished Hoe, and he greets Austin as if meeting a head of state. He almost-kneels, almost-reverently, to shake Austin’s hand. 

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

~~

Austin Clarke died yesterday. His recently completed memoir is titled Membering.

Thank you, Austin, for paving the way.

Rest in peace.