Sorry, friends! I’ve been a bad girl — not posting or visiting much.
Books and family are keeping me busier than a one-armed paper-hanger! (And you may recall only one of my arms works really well, so an apt descriptor there …)
The double-launch went very well indeed — a full house, great readings, excellent questions from the audience, all at Toronto’s iconic bookstore, A Different Booklist.
The following photos were taken by the ADB team. It’s great when a prominent bookstore team is so obviously thrilled to host a launch!
Then there’s the Festival of the Arts, happening this weekend in lakeside Cobourg, Ontario. My family and I are privileged to both support and take part in this wonderful event. And yes, our books and I will be there!
All this while we await first grandbaby ‘with baited breath’, and also support family and friends, some going through tough times right now.
Thanks for being there, and for your many messages of support. Be kind to yourself and others, please. I’ll be in touch again when I come up for air!
Accepting a blogger friend’s challenge, I painted my nails purple to attend the Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, Ontario last weekend.
Of course, my friend won the challenge hands-down (hands-up?) because in this picture below, she’s also wearing a purple shirt!
I’m a volunteer with the Festival and it was a great success! Painters, photographers, authors, actors, musicians and others shared their talents with enthusiastic audiences.
Above 6 photos by Hamlin Grange
In the photo just above, publisher Jennifer Bogart(right) and I are presenting gifts to Felicity Sidnell Reid (left) and Susan Statham (2nd from right), the hard-working co-chairs of the Festival’s organizing committee.
It’s also been a great ‘Myrtle week’. I dropped into A Different Booklist – one of Toronto’s best-known book stores. Owners Itah and Miguel introduced me to customers Shay Lin (holding a copy of Myrtle), an international student from China, and Qing, her mother.
Earlier, CBC Radio interviewed daughter Lauren and me about Myrtle. Metro Morning host Matt Galloway and his team were terrific. They pre-interviewed us, and, when we arrived, made us welcome. Then they talked us through the journey the interview would take.
They were so kind, I suspected that someone in the team must have read An Honest House, which describes my struggles with PTSD, cognitive difficulties and pain following a car accident. So I asked producer Morgan Passi.
Imagine my delight to discover that this is just the way they operate!
Next, Lauren and I were skilfully interviewed by the wonderful host of Ontario Morning, Wei Chen. She greeted us warmly, made us feel entirely at home and the interview began.
Bravo, CBC Radio!
A few days ago, Seattle’s Allen J. Mears posted on Facebook a photo of his daughters, Megan, 8, and Hailey, 6, with Myrtle. I loved it! Thanks to the Mears family for allowing me to share it here.
I love photos of children reading Myrtle, courtesy of kind parents and grandparents.
In these photos, Ashly Dixon in Wisconsin is reading Myrtle to her daughters Denali, 9, Anika, 6, and son Vincent, 2, while their father Damien takes the photos.
Ashly says they all love the book, including the brilliant illustrations and Myrtle’s “message of acceptance and knowing one’s self-worth” .
Thanks, Dixon family.
And don’t you just love the pyjamas?
Carl Randall, a veteran marathon runner, did something unusual to spread the word about Myrtle.
He and his wife Jackie have brought Myrtle to libraries in various cities — including New York, where he recently ran the marathon.
Thanks, Carl and Jackie!
Finally, Kev Cooper – blogger, book reviewer, author and musician — has made Myrtle “Book of the Month” on his website, Books & Music. Wow, Kev! Thank you!
I don’t go out much. But I recently got ‘volun-told’ to help my artists’ group. You can blame Felicity Sidnell Reid. I joke that she twisted my arm — most graciously.
An author and radio interviewer, Felicity is always involved in the arts.
She and her husband John moved from big-city Toronto to Northumberland County 20 years ago.
“I love the country,” she says. “And I love the atmosphere of a small village. I feel more relaxed here.”
Felicity lives in “a small house on a large lot with a stream that runs year-round.”
Her book, Alone: A Winter in the Woods was published in 2015 by Hidden Brook Press. Skilfully written and illustrated, it’s a survival story about a teenager left alone to look after his family’s cabin and livestock in 1797 while his father fetches the other family members from abroad.
Welcoming and kind, she took my sometimes-strange speech and always-strange walk in stride, and made me feel at home at my first meeting.
The monthly breakfast-meeting is supportive, fun and opinionated. As chair, Felicity sets the tone.
“I love chairing the writers’ group,” Felicity says. “Although one might want to shut oneself up in an attic sometimes — to escape from all the email and phone calls – it’s a great bunch of people. And a lot of fun.”
“Doesn’t it sometimes feel like you’re herding cats?” I ask. “How can you be so unflappable and gracious with us all the time?”
“I taught high school for years,” she says. “You have to be unflappable. I’m not sure how gracious I am, but I’ve noticed that if you are, people tend to be gracious back.”
SOTH’s membership includes writers, artisans, musicians, performers and a variety of painters and other visual artists. They come from as far away as Toronto to the west and Kingston to the east.
But most, like Felicity, live in Northumberland County, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
“Driving through the countryside is always exciting because the hills themselves are so lovely,” Felicity notes. “There’s invariably another incredible view, maybe of a small lake or of Lake Ontario, or the next pretty town, or more hills covered with forest or farms, fields and animals.”
The Festival will be held in lakeside Cobourg, one of Canada’s most beautiful towns.
“We wanted to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday but, more importantly, the creativity and diversity of the arts in this region.”
Felicity and SOTH president Susan Statham are co-chairing the Festival. It includes arts competitions, a musical play, a concert and book launch, a book fair and art show, a panel discussion and exciting workshops.
“What do you hope it’ll do for Northumberland?” I ask her.
“Northumberland, like most places in Canada, is always changing,” Felicity replies. “It becomes more diverse and interesting because of change. We all profit from this. And the influx of artists in the last 30 years has led to increased vibrancy and innovation in the artistic community.
“I hope our programme will engage people from our many communities. We want to appeal to young and old, those who have lived all their lives in this area as well as newcomers.”
Although some Northumberland arts organizations recently folded, SOTH remains strong.
“An Ontario Arts Council study (June 2017) encouraged us. It reported that 90% of those surveyed agree that an active local arts scene helps make a community a better place to live and 97% agree that engaging children in the arts is important to their overall development.”
As for my involvement? A year ago, Felicity invited me to join the Festival committee. Committee members feel privileged to help, as does she.
“I love working with others and building a team, so conceiving and planning the festival have been exciting and very fulfilling.”