A Good Home, Books

Saving a Local Bookstore

If you love books, and value bookstores, you’ll want to read this remarkable story. It started with a single tweet:
Petersfield Bookshop@The_PBS

…Tumbleweed…

Not a single book sold today…

£0.00…

We think think this maybe the first time ever…

We know its miserable out but if you’d like to help us out please find our Abebooks offering below, all at 25% off at the moment….

View image on Twitter
Read the story here:
Book Blessing and Launch, Book launch

Double Book Launch Day!

Hello, Friends!

I’m not blogging as often as I should, but I have good reasons!

We’re in the busy period of launching not just one, but two books: Twigs in My Hair and the third in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series, Myrtle Makes a New Friend.

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Myrtle Makes a New Friend - Cover Front 3 Sept 2019

This evening, the Toronto launch is being hosted by A Different Booklist, the iconic bookstore and cultural centre that carries exciting books from around the world.  Owners Itah Sadu and Miguel  San Vicente and their team have sold our books for years, and I am always glad to visit with them and their customers.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Friends at A Different Booklist

All of this is happening as younger daughter Lauren Reyes-Grange, co-author of the Myrtle books, and her husband Dan, are expecting their first child this month.

So we’re all hoping Baby holds off a bit longer so it won’t be a triple launch tonight! 

Twigs photographer Hamlin Grange, Lauren and I started out a few weeks ago in the most special way: our church, St. Thomas’ Anglican, held a double blessing for the books and us.

Blog Photo - Book blessing and launch

Our priest Canon Claire (above left),  and Corinne Sargent, head of the Women’s Reflection Group and the team of volunteers, and dozens of enthusiastic parishioners made it a wonderful breakfast event in the parish hall.

Blog Photo - Book blessing and launch 2019 - Lydia & Francois and Rosie

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Myrtle poster

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Blog Photo - Book Blessing - Muriel and Cynthia and Joanne

Every detail was a celebration of the books and their key messages.

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Rudbeckia

Even the hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, was slightly altered to include a purple turtle!

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Hymn

As always, Canon Claire’s prayer made us feel blessed and supported.

Tonight, at A Different Booklist, we will celebrate with a whole other set of friends and acquaintances (some of whom we haven’t seen in way too long), and meet new people who love books. 

Blog Photo - Twigs & Myrtle - Toronto Launch

Hamlin, whose beautiful pictures grace the pages of Twigs in My Hair, will play a slide show he has created for this purpose. Lauren and I will read short excerpts from the books and perhaps make a few remarks.

Writing is a lonely activity. But I am lucky to have a truly caring and professional team: Lauren and Hamlin as key creative partners, fabulous illustrators (Jo Robinson on the Myrtle books, and Les Lawrence who did the humorous sketches for Twigs), excellent beta readers, proficient editors, proofreaders, and our book designer Clif.

So it’s a double celebration this evening. And we hope the biggest celebration of all — a brand new baby in our family — holds off just a little.

Blog Photo - Book Blessing and Launch 2019 - Hamlin & Cynthia and Lauren

I’ll keep you updated. Meanwhile, please wish us well!

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Photos of the St. Thomas’ Church event were taken by Joanne Schuetzl.

Thank you, Joanne!

A Good Home, Author Cynthia Reyes, Gardening Books

Doing What Scares You

Sandra Whiting has a way about her. When she asks for a favour, it’s hard to refuse.

Blog Photo - Sandra Whiting

Between her personality and track record for getting things done, she’s admired by many.

Add her contributions as an arts-supporter and artist (Sandra is a storyteller with a great sense of humour)  to her voluntary work for Canada’s Black and Caribbean communities, and you get the picture. 

But that didn’t make me immediately accept her invitation to give the keynote speech at the premier annual event of  PACE, the charitable organization she leads.

Blog Photo - PACE Children

I love PACE.  It’s helped tens of thousands of children in Jamaica and Canada. But I hadn’t given a keynote speech since the car accident of over a decade ago and the very thought was frightening.

My husband intervened.  He reminded me that at each stage of my recovery, I have done something that terrified me, and that, even when the results were miserable, I usually felt better for trying. 

Further, the topic was something I knew well: What we can teach children and ourselves from gardening and nature.

Blog Photo - PACE Strawberry Social

“What if I stutter?” I asked, panicked. “And what if they hate me?” “What if….” 

“You won’t stutter and they won’t hate you,” he reassured.

So, with a lot of help and encouragement, I said “Yes”.

 ~~

Having said “Yes”, I was even more scared. What to do? 

For inspiration, I went searching for stories I’d written about gardening in earlier years. And here’s where I got a big surprise: I came across a whole manuscript I’d written about gardening, growth and healing — years earlier.

Surprised, for two reasons. First, it was almost completely written. I’d thought it was only partly done. Even more surprising? It had been professionally edited. How could I have forgotten that? 

The answer came quickly. I had forgotten because my beloved husband had become ill and nearly died of a pulmonary embolism. I had put everything aside in the frantic weeks and months that followed. 

My husband is a courageous man. I watched him fight to recover, despite frequent frustration over his illness.  His bravery and sheer grit were so obvious, they inspired me to return to a tough subject I’d been avoiding: what it’s like to keep pushing ahead, to try to squeeze every moment of joy from a life painfully changed. 

Book cover - An-Honest-House

So, instead of the gardening book, “An Honest House”, based on my personal journals, was published in 2016.  It won The Diamond Award for book of the year.

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My husband recovered and returned to being a highly-regarded consultant and public speaker. This man knows how to create a strong speech.

We chose three excerpts from the unpublished gardening book, and built a speech around them.  I realized I could simply read whole parts of the speech, as I’d done at author-readings.

Blog Photo - PACE Guests at the Enchanted Gardens Sale

We arrived at the event. Inside, people were already admiring the flowers at the Enchanted Gardens sale. There was a joyful feeling everywhere.

Blog Photo - PACE Guests at Strawberry Social

Several people approached me. They had bought their tickets because I was the speaker, they said.

The pressure intensified.

~~

My husband helped me up the steps to the podium. At our table, my daughter and son-in-law sat, supportive, encouraging.

As I looked out at the large audience, I recognized several people I knew. They were smiling, beaming love and support.

Even strangers beamed encouragement, I think. Though they might have still been smiling over the introduction. Maxine, the woman who introduced me, told everyone what I’d written in my bio but also forgotten: that I’m a terrible cook, knitter and floral arranger.

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I started to speak, then read, growing more confident as I went along. There were times when people seemed glued to what I was saying. They even laughed at the right times. That was a relief, because I’m a terrible joke-teller too.

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It still feels like a miracle that I got through it, and that it was well-received. But I did and it was. 

Blog Photo - PACE - Cynthia and Diana Burke

And now, in a touch of grace, I will have two books published this year. 

First, of course, is the new children’s book in the Myrtle the Purple Turtle series, co-written with Lauren Reyes-Grange and illustrated by Jo Robinson. 

The gardening book will also debut. Years after it was put aside, this book will see the light of day — because I said “Yes”, and decided to do what scared me.

~~

Dedicated to Sandra Whiting and the children supported by PACE.

 

 

 

 

 

Childhood, Childhood Memories, Myrtle The Purple Turtle

What Makes You Different….

No child wants to be different. To be taunted for something you can’t change.

I know.

I wanted dark hair, like everyone else. Instead, during childhood, I had flaming reddish hair. “Reds” was the kindest of my nicknames.

I loved playing — boisterously — with my sisters and friends. Suddenly, I was struck with childhood epilepsy, and — over several years — would have to frequently retreat to quiet spaces. While my friends played, I read books, kept a journal and sometimes wrote little stories.

I grew to love reading and writing and — thank goodness — my family nurtured this love.  I read so well that my mother and grandmother sent me to read the Bible and newspaper to elderly patients in the local infirmary. 

It was my first “job” as a volunteer, but a weird role for a small child. I didn’t want to do it at first. I wanted to be out playing, like the other children.

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How was I to know that the very things that made me odd would also make me strong? 

That having reddish hair in childhood would strengthen my empathy towards “different” people, persisting long after my hair colour had gradually darkened on its own?

That having epilepsy — being forced to slow down and read — would nurture my love of stories and words and expand my view of the world outside our small village?

That all of it, even reading the news to elderly people, would help prepare me for rewarding careers in television, community service,  and — more recently — in publishing?

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If I could, I’d tell every child in the world:

Don’t hate the things that make you different. Love them. Because the very things that you’re teased for, even excluded for, will provide some of your greatest strengths.

I’d say:

See the teasing and strange looks as proof that you’re wonderful.

It’s painful now, I know.

It’s hard to believe now, I know. 

Try to believe it anyway.

I know.

~~

Dedicated to every child who feels different, including a very bright young girl with purple glasses whom I recently met.

#loveyourshell