A Good Home, Arts, Libraries, Myrtle The Purple Turtle, Spirit of the Hills - Arts Group

A Busy Week and Purple Fingernails

Accepting a blogger friend’s challenge, I painted my nails purple to attend the Festival of the Arts in Cobourg, Ontario last weekend.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Purple Nails

Of course, my friend won the challenge hands-down (hands-up?) because in this picture below, she’s also wearing a purple shirt! 

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Mandy and Purple Nails

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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.

Blog Photo - Festival Marie-Lynn playing guitar

Blog Photo - Pat Calder Stall at Festival

Blog Photo - Festival Mandy Bing paintings

Blog Photo - Festival Book Fair

Blog Photo - Festival Sharon Ramsay Curtis

Blog Photo - Festival Kim aubrey reading

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival Performers

Blog Photo - SOTH Festival gifts for Chairs
Above 6 photos by Hamlin Grange

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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.  

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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.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Friends at A Different Booklist

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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.

Blog Photo - Myrtle Interview by Matt Galloway

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!

Blog Photo - Myrtle interview by Wei Chen

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!

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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.

Blog Photo - Myrtle with Megan and Hailey

I love  photos of children reading Myrtle, courtesy of kind parents and grandparents.

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read to 2 daughters

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. 

Blog Photo - Myrtle being read to children by Ashly

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?

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Carl Randall, a veteran marathon runner, did something unusual to spread the word about Myrtle.

Blog Photo - Myrtle and Carl at Brunswick County PL

He and his wife Jackie have brought Myrtle to libraries in various cities — including New York, where he recently ran the marathon.

Blog Photo - Myrtle held by Carl at NYPL 2

Thanks, Carl and Jackie! 

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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!

A Good Home, Books, Lauren Reyes-Grange, Social Media for Authors, Social Media Strategist

How a Social Media Strategist Saved My Book

In August, a radio interviewer asked me what I had expected to happen after my book, A Good Home, was published in 2013.

“Seriously?” I asked. “My plan was to go back to bed.”

She laughed.

agoodhome_cynthiareyesBut that was indeed my plan. I was in bad shape, from head to toe, injuries from a car accident. Completing the book was a huge task. Even speaking was a challenge at the time.

What saved  my book?

A skilled and caring social media strategist.

Lauren and Gentle Giant
Lauren and a Gentle Giant

Lauren was the person in charge of social media strategy for one of Canada’s biggest English language magazine publishing companies. She had helped magazines such as Style At Home,  TheHockey News and Elle Canada increase their social media traffic by up to 1200% year over year.

Blog Photo - Style at Home Kitchen

In other words, Lauren knows her stuff.

Image via Elle Canada
Image via Elle Canada

She patiently explained to me what was required.

I think I rolled my eyes at times. What was this thing called a “blog”? And who had time for Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Goodreads, etc. etc.

“Not to worry,” she said. “I’ll set it all up for you.”

It was a necessity: my ‘book tour’ stopped soon after it started.

I was in full-blown relapse and my doctor had firmly stopped all my book-related activities outside the home.

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Lauren designed my blog, Facebook and Twitter pages, etc.,  and taught me how to use them.

Blog Header

“Your blog should be informal and personable,” she said.

But I was too scared at first.  So, to show me what was possible, Lauren did my first several posts on WordPress and other platforms.

All the time, Lauren kept teaching me, sending me simple instructions till I took over the work.  She even created a marketing calendar that combined  social media with other forms of promotion.

Today I have an international following.

My blog alone is approaching 40,000 views in just over a year of serious effort on my part. I have more than a thousand followers on Twitter, and many more through the other platforms I use.

I value this outcome for the many books I’ve sold, yes. Even more valued, though, are the supportive social networks that I’m part of today.

My social media expert saved my book. In the process, she gave me so much more.

Thank you, Lauren. I’d have been lost without you.

*Lauren is also my daughter.*