A Good Home

Colin and Justin

In 2013, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan made me cry.

And then they made my husband cry.

But our whole family loved them for it.

colin and justin

I had followed their writing and TV shows: they are brilliant designers. But they didn’t know me.  How surprising then, that  Colin and Justin should have done something special that helped launch my career as an author.

It happened at a time when I was coping with serious injuries from a car accident. I badly needed to believe in myself.  

Book Cover - A Good Home

My first book, A Good Home, became both critically acclaimed and a bestseller.

In the years since then, I continued to follow Colin and Justin’s projects, cheering them on when they launched a new TV show and an excellent home accessories line.

Blog Photo - colin and Justins Log Cabin

Occasionally, I dropped them a note. But I still never met them.

Yesterday, an appointment fell through. I ended up strolling through a nearby store, delaying the long drive back home.

I looked up at two men and recognized them instantly.

With several books to my credit, I now know what it is to have fans and I know what it’s like to be approached by strangers. But no fan could have behaved as bizarrely as I did yesterday. 

I think I yelled something like “Colin and Justin! It’s me, Cynthia Reyes!”

And then I hugged them.

They probably should have called store security.

But Colin and Justin hugged me back as if deranged women with windswept hair, absolutely no makeup and no attempt at sophistication,  attacked them in stores every day.  

Blog Photo - CR with Colin and Justin

They asked about my writing, and whether their support had helped. I was so proud to tell them that it had. 

If you look at the back cover of my first book, A Good Home, you’ll see a lovely testimonial from Colin and Justin. But if you want to know the full story, and why my family and I are so grateful to these two men, please read this:

https://cynthiasreyes.com/2013/09/07/the-review-that-left-my-husband-speechless/

Thanks again, Colin and Justin. For your brilliant designs. For being kind to a stranger. And for being you.

A Good Home, An Honest House, Author Cynthia Reyes, Book Reviews, Books, Great books, New Books

A Summer of Great Reviews

What a precious gift from a reader to an author! Taking the time to buy, read and review their book.

My great thanks to:

Hilary Custance Green (UK), acclaimed author of Surviving the Death Railway and The Green Writing Room blog.  An Honest House was her companion during her own book tour:  

AN HONEST HOUSE AND AN ALBRIZIA

I loved Cynthia Reyes’s first Memoir  A Good Home, so I picked up the continuing story An Honest House in happy anticipation. This is a book with a perfect title and has been my companion during a more than hectic summer….                         Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 20.22.10

I laughed over the Valentine, I wept over Keats, I laughed over ‘a job that pays’. There are few easy-walking meadows in this story, because it is about the mountains and valleys. Among the things that struck me was Cynthia’s insistence on facing up to something we all know – it is never a good time for a difficult or dangerous conversation – and dealing with it so courageously….

Read More at:  https://greenwritingroom.com/2016/08/05/an-honest-house-and-an-albrizia/

 ~~

Tina of Chase N Chance Ranch (USA), who took An Honest House along on her summer vacation:  

BOOK SUGGESTION

On our vacation I brought along the new book (An Honest House: A Memoir, Continued) of one of my favorite authors and bloggers, Cynthia Reyes.

Living on a small hobby farm, working part time, having two children who play multiple travel level sports, and trying to fit in a little me time is always a challenge.  I figured I would be able to get in at least a chapter or two while away for those 6 days.  After the third day, my family threatened to hide my book as I finished it and was starting it over again.  I did not want to put it down!!

 Read More at:  https://chasenchanceranch.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/book-suggestion/

~~

Chip Barkel, realtor and writer (Canada), who made both A Good Home and An Honest House his summer picks:  

SUMMER READING: CYNTHIA REYES’S A GOOD HOME & AN HONEST HOUSE

“Ambercroft Farm, the sign out front said. Hamlin was on a first name basis with the grand old farmhouse right from the start, calling it Ambercroft. For years, I didn’t call it anything at all. The tall, two-story Victorian house seemed sealed off from the rest of the neighbourhood. Within a solid wooden fence and gates, massive maples waved big leafy arms. Pines and dense blue-green spruces soared. A cedar hedge ran the length of the property on one side. This was a private place, sure of its personality and power.”

blog-photo-garden-circle

I often think as I walk through neighbourhoods that behind every shuttered window is a story. Often those stories are ones only the walls and maybe a few select people ever witness. For some a house is a sanctuary, but when life presents a crisis….

Read More at:  http://www.chipbarkel.com/blog/summer-reading-cynthia-reyess-good-home-honest-house/

Chip, Tina and Hilary: I thank you all. 

Note to Readers:

If you’ve recently read a book you like, especially one by a new or Indie author, would you please consider reviewing it online

A Good Home, Old Friends

Good Friends

 

 

The problem with old people is that they have a habit of dying.

And the problem with me is that I know this, but I keep loving old people.

~~

Last time I checked, roughly half of my close friends were over eighty.

I’m decades younger myself, but from hanging out with these friends, eighty has come to seem positively young to me. Not to mention fun.

So I don’t temper my naughty jokes because a person is eighty or ninety.

I only realize that I’ve referred to octogenarian Jane as “Kiddo” or to Muriel as “my dear girl” if someone else points it out.

They are my pals. Jane, Muriel, Mae, Marion, Merle are among my closest.  Harry, Mr. Smith, Henry, Bryan were also my pals. My mother, Louise, most of all.

I love them. I loved them.

Elderly people make the best friends and I love being in their company.

Which makes The Grim Reaper my big enemy.

I find myself wanting to fight off The Grim One, wrestle him to the ground, or at least tell him to take a hike.

~~

Old people speak their mind.

“I’m not elderly. I’m old!” says my 80-something friend. “It’s okay to use the word. I don’t mind.” I can almost hear her shrug into the phone.

It’s as if being candid is not an option at this stage in their lives, but mandatory. After all, with a relatively short time left on the earth, who has the time to lie?

Yet they have also learned to temper their frank assessments with grace. At least the old people that I love do.

They have a way of passing on affection with criticism, of pointing out the error of my ways without drawing blood.

Sometimes, it’s delivered in an observation so astutely phrased, it makes me want to rise above my knuckle-headed ideas about how to solve a problem.

~~

“With your manner, Cynthia, I just know you could manage to get the point across without causing hurt”.

Gosh, that’s diplomatic.

“Have you ever thought that this person may just be very shy and intimidated by all your qualifications?”

Well no, I hadn’t thought of that. But now that you’ve mentioned it, I’ll have to review my harsh assessment of that person we were just discussing….

Offering criticism in such a positive way is a skill you can learn in school or in the great learning-place of life. Most of my elderly friends have learned at the latter, and that makes them experts.

~~

Elderly people have tons of insight to share, if you’re willing to listen.

It may take a little time. They may have to insert a story from long ago, a memory of something or someone that helped them learn an important life lesson.

“I remember when…”

The moment you hear these words, you may think “Here goes another long story… how much time do I have?”

But chances are, whatever I’m about to learn is more than worth my time.

Elderly people keep in touch, sensing when you need them to call and make you laugh at life’s travails.

One moment I’m howling with pain, a long-term gift from a car accident. But minutes later, the phone rings and I’m howling with laughter.

It’s one of my old friends, telling me a dirty joke, knowing that I need to laugh.

~~

When I reconsider, I think what I’m trying to say is that my elderly friends are wise and kind people. And that I’m blessed to have their friendship.

~~

But, there is still that problem: the fact that they tend to die.

I should temper that blanket statement with this explanation: It’s not that they necessarily want to.

Some, though barely mobile, still love life. They love to do things, to hang out with their friends, to go shopping, to share a good joke. They’d like to stick around much longer. 

But some people, it’s true, simply want to die. I had one such friend.

He was ill, with no improvement in sight. He depended on others to take him around, sometimes even to get from one room to another. He couldn’t enjoy the activities that gave him pleasure.

In some cases, there’s no-one left who shares the person’s memories. No-one to remember the people they grew up with, the times they lived. They’re left trying to explain an era to younger people like me, who love them but don’t remember.

Worse is when the person him/herself can’t remember.  In their clear moments, they’re terrified of a future in which they’ve lost their ability to recognize loved ones, or even themselves.

Whatever the reason, they’ve had enough of living. They’re tired. It’s time to go. 

~~

I’ve come to understand this: the problem isn’t theirs.

It isn’t just that they die, or that one or two may really want to.

The problem is mine. That even as The Grim One makes his plans for us all, I love my friends, and I’m never quite ready to let them go, no matter what their age.

I have to work on that.

Luckily, some old friends will still be around — with wisdom to share. Bless their hearts.

In Memory of Harry.

A Good Home, Books, Canadian Gardens, Food, Gardens of An Honest House

When Readers Write

Photos by Hamlin Grange

One of the most enjoyable experiences I have as a writer of a newly published book is hearing from readers. It happened with my first book, A Good Home: I got hundreds of notes and cards from readers.

Book photos - cards from Readers

This time, a new thing happened: readers started emailing me while still reading the book. Bloggers whom I knew and many readers whom I didn’t, wrote as they finished a chapter or part (the book has 3 parts).

I love it! 

I also love the surprises involved.

Jeanne at Still A Dreamer posted a beautiful remembrance of her dad’s garden.

I savoured every flower, every memory she described. Then, at the end of her post, came a surprise connection to An Honest House. A smile warmed my soul.  I was glad that reading about our farmhouse gardens had triggered Jeanne’s happy memories.

Blog Photo - White garden Bridal Wreath and Arbour

But when – over just 2 days — readers in 3 different countries wrote to praise “all the great food” in An Honest House, I was stunned.

The only great cook in this house is my husband. Could I really have written so much about food? It sent me scurrying to reread my own book. 

Eureka! There it was, dozens of mentions:

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea Ladies

blog-veggies-in-basket2

Food growing and being harvested from the garden.

Blog Photo - Garden harvest Basket tomatoes pumpkin

Food cooking on the stove or fresh-baked from the oven.

Blog Photo - Cake 2

Pots of jelly burbling.

Blog Photo - Jelly in Pot

blog-photo-verandah-red-currants

And there it was: 

Blog Photo - Apples in Bowl

The joy of making apple pies, apple crepes and jellies – from our own rare apples.

Blog Photo - Kitchen harvest table

The delight that comes from knowing that almost every ingredient in a meal has come from one’s own garden.

Blog Photo - Tomato Yellow

blog-photo-herb-garden-parsley

Family and friends having supper — cooked by our resident chef.

Blog Photo - Robert Family Visit Dish CU

Blog Photo - Robert and Family on the Verandah
Above 2 photos by Robert Vernon

And, of course, the hilarity that follows my guests’ discovery that I’ve ruined yet another simple dish.

~~

Running gag among family and friends:

Me: Hi there. Will you please come over for supper?

Them: Ah…hmm… who’s doing the cooking?

~~

I learned that sometimes, what you think you are writing and what the reader is getting may be not exactly the same. I knew that I wanted to infuse this (sometimes painful) book with my family’s gratitude and joy in life’s simple pleasures. But it took my readers to tell me how much I’d written about food.

So:  ever wanted to write to an author whose book you enjoyed?

Do it. You might tell them something they didn’t know.