A Good Home, Book Stores, Friendship, Galilee, Great Prices on Books, Kindness, Kitchens, Landscape Art, Nature, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day, Words

Colin and Justin in Cottage Country

Cottage country will never be the same.

Those talented, funny and likable designers – Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan  (the duo who gave my book such a good review last fall) – have bought into the Canadian dream: owning a cottage.   It’s on a lake in Muskoka, three hours north of Toronto, and every time I look at the photo below, I burst out laughing.

Blog Photo - Colin and Justin in the WoodsColin and Justin, “Cabin Pressure”, Cottage Life TV

As usual, they’ve gone whole hog.  No modern Muskoka Mansion for these two.  They’ve bought the quintessential Canadian pioneer dwelling:  a log cabin.

A log cabin, you might ask? Are we talking about the same Colin and Justin? The famously jet-setting designers known for creating glamorous interiors and sporting oversized flowers in their lapels on their previous TV series, Colin and Justin’s Home Heist?

Blog Photo - Colin and Justin Design

Yes.   They co-purchased the log house with two friends.  And they’ve made a TV show about their adventures, called “Cabin Pressure”, (Tuesday nights in Canada on Cottage Life TV).

Of course, no matter where they go, they’re still Colin and Justin, after all.   The same witty Scottish-accented pair who live in Scotland, England and Canada and make us laugh while sharing their clever design skills.

So, as they told the Canadian Press:  “I think we scared the living bejesus out of a lot of people. Because we arrived in fake-fur, floor-length coats and trailed around the lake in the middle of summer like the Kardashians on crack.”

Oh, dear.

Colin and Justin Cabin Pressure
“Cabin Pressure”

But if there’s one thing I know about these two, it’s that they’re very talented. And another: they’re smart.  They’re also very knowledgeable about the deep feelings people have for their homes. (See Colin and Justin’s review of my book, A Good Home.)

So what can we expect? You’ll have to watch the series to find out.  But I’m betting you’ll learn a few things about log homes, cottage life, and a lot about interior design. After all, many of us would find decorating a log home very challenging.  As did Colin and Justin.

They visited a dozen cottages before settling on this one.  It passed inspection.  But when the renovation was starting, they encountered a rotting deck, dangerous wiring, and several other problems.  Their new purchase seemed to be “a pig in lipstick”.

Still, they describe the experience as “brilliant. It’s made us better people.  We’ve learned such a lot about ourselves.”

Cabin Pressure on Cottage Life TV
“Cabin Pressure” on Cottage Life TV

So cottage country may never be the same, but it appears that our famous designer duo will never be quite the same, either.

Get ready for a new take on “Canadiana” – Colin and Justin style.

A Good Home, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Thank you, Readers

Who was to know that a book completed in a time of such pain and agony would become a comfort and inspiration to so many readers? Not me.

The earlier parts of my book, A Good Home, had been written over 25 years. Some of those stories are hilarious, and I hoped that readers would recognize their own experiences and foibles in these stories, and laugh along with me.

But home isn’t always a fun place to be, and my editors, first readers, family and health professionals felt I also had to write about what happens when a home becomes a prison – as was the case after a car accident left me injured and house-bound for long stretches of time.

Stack of JournalsI finally decided to crack open the journals I’d kept. I hated reading them at first and wept often.

But the insights I gained — from transcribing parts of those journals into story form — are priceless additions to the book. Once added, it became clear that the story I’d been writing for decades – a story about home and family – was finally complete.

Book photo - stack of books

I hoped the book would offer some insights to people going through big changes in their lives – whether it was moving to a new home or dealing with a major life challenge. In fact, this was my main reason for releasing a book that is so personal. But I wasn’t sure how readers would respond.

I got my first clue when a few readers wrote to say “I just couldn’t put this book down” and had stayed up all night to read it.  Several readers said they didn’t want the book to end, and actually slowed down their reading of the last few chapters to savour every word”!


Book photos - cards from Readers

Merri Lynn wrote: “I do not often finish a book sensing a longing for it to continue, a sadness that I have finished it, a desire to know more. Although I read constantly and on a wide variety of subjects, that feeling does not occur often. It just happened with your book.”

On the phone, another reader, Allan, told me:

“Cynthia, your book made me laugh a lot. 

 And then it made me cry. I wept.”

“I’m so sorry, I replied.

“No need, Allan said. “What a wonderful book you’ve written. I’ll probably read it again.”

That’s been a common theme. Many people are re-reading the book. The letters have been pouring in from readers in Canada, the US, the UK, the Caribbean, S. Africa, Denmark and elsewhere. Many are long e-mail letters. Some are short notes — a paragraph or two. Some come in the form of cards and letters, sent in the mail.

One reader, Diane, even sent me a sweet little card of a pink house! (My first childhood home was pink.)

All reveal how deeply they have been touched by A Good Home.

A Godo Home - reader card pink house

I read every letter carefully. Some take my breath away as they describe the depth of feeling and memory evoked by the book. Some surprise me at the insights they got from A Good Home. And then there are those who re-read whole parts of the book for comfort. One of them is Muriel, a gifted artist who struggles with chronic pain. She’s read the book three times. She’s even turned a few quotes from my book into daily mantras that help her cope.

“As Oprah used to say, wrote Sandra, “I want to buy all my friends a copy of this book.” And that’s exactly what a number of readers have been doing. Mae, Anne, Lorna, Carol, Keith, Shirley, Karlene and Lloyd all read the book and loved it, and immediately ordered more copies as gifts for family and friends.  Many of those friends have done the same.  That may explain why some independent bookstores are on their second or third order in a matter of weeks.

Libraries and book clubs are also doing their part. The London Public Library was the first to order my book, followed by public libraries in Waterloo, Kitchener, Toronto and others.  And book clubs are selecting A Good Home . What an honour! Thank you.

I didn’t know what to expect when I completed and published this book.  I am thankful to you, my readers, for the fabulous way in which you have responded to A Good Home. There will be more news to share in the months ahead, and I will. Thanks again.


Northumberland County – something to write about!

The rolling hills of Northumberland County in Ontario, Canada, have drawn artists of all kinds for centuries now.

Something about the bucolic countryside of places such as Warkworth and Roseneath — and quaint villages and towns such as Grafton, Cramahe and Port Hope, or lakeside resort living in places such as Cobourg — something about Northumberland has tugged at the hearts of creative people and brought them here in droves.  Many well-known painters, sculptors,  illustrators, photographers, writers – including famous names such as Farley Mowat, David Blackwood and others have called this area home.

So it’s a great privilege to be invited to be the guest author at the monthly gathering of the Spirit of the Hills Writers group. It represents a wide variety of Northumberland artists. It was a bit nerve-wracking too.

Cynthia signing book spirit of the hillsThese are serious artists, some with several books and other works of art to their names. Some are publishers. A very discerning group.

Authors at book reading Spirit of the HillsAnd there was even more at stake: Northumberland County – its villages, countryside, homes, people and way of life — are vividly described in my book, A Good Home. What would this illustrious group of Northumberland residents think about me and my book?

Well – Yippee! – Were they ever welcoming of  A Good Home, and me!  The event took place in the elegant-but-homey Grafton Village Inn,  and there were times during my reading when you could have heard a pin drop. Seems I nailed it. Whew!!

Cynthia talking to authors at Spirit of the Hills

Thanks to Felicity Sidnell Reid and her Spirit of the Hills team, who invited me to read excerpts of the book to this group long before anyone knew that A Good Home would become a success, months before it was even published. Spirit of the Hills member Susan Statham and the Writers group are also behind Northumberland’s new book festival, being held on September 7 in Cobourg’s historic Firehall Theatre. Word Northumberland features readings from well-known local authors and others, and a wide variety of books for sale.

I’ll see you there. It’s worth the drive to beautiful lakeside Cobourg! For more information, contact: Susan Statham,  sstatham@eagle.ca

A Good Home, Uncategorized

A visit to The AVID Reader bookstore in charming Cobourg, Ontario

 Do people who work in bookstores just have a way with people, or is it their love for books that shines through when they talk to their customers?

Hamlin and I visited the charming waterfront town of Cobourg, Ontario recently, and dropped into the Avid Reader bookstore on Division Street as you enter the town off the highway. We were greeted by Julie and Kelly, two knowledgeable and friendly staff members who immediately welcomed us warmly. Since my book A Good Home is now being sold in the store, and the magazine I write for (Arabella Magazine) is also carried by Avid Reader, it was great to visit the store and meet the staff.

Avid Reader
Visiting Julie Maynard and Kelly Lenahan at Avid Reader Bookstore.

Avid Reader sells a wide selection of books and magazines.  Like many bookstores these days, the store has also added a range of gifts to its stock. But there’s no question: books and magazines are their main stock in trade.  In fact, they have the largest selection of magazines I have ever seen in a bookstore. These people love books and magazines, and love to answer their customers’ questions about them.

The Cobourg area is one of the places my family called home in earlier years. We have watched this historic resort town develop, while maintaining the old world charm and great beachfront that have drawn summer visitors and home-buyers to the area for decades. Today, Cobourg boasts a fabulous promenade, as well as pergolas and gardens along the waterfront, and the town has managed to preserve its history even while adding new housing developments and interesting places to dine, be entertained, and shop. One of those interesting places to shop is The Avid Reader. Drop in sometime and say hello to the helpful people there!