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A Busy Week and Purple Fingernails

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Myrtle and Cynthia zooming around.

Cynthia Reyes

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 NailsOf course, my friend won the challenge hands-down (hands-up?) because in this picture, 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 talent with enthusiastic audiences.

Blog Photo - Festival Marie-Lynn playing guitarBlog Photo - Pat Calder Stall at FestivalBlog Photo - Festival Mandy Bing paintingsBlog Photo - Festival Book FairBlog Photo - Festival Sharon Ramsay CurtisBlog Photo - Festival Kim aubrey readingBlog 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.

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Myrtle the Purple Turtle

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Myrtle the Purple Turtle

Myrtle the Purple Turtle is the first, of I hope will be many, children’s books in the Weaverback Press stable. I’ll tell you more about Weaverback soon.

This is a very special story, and is already doing great things. Children all over are absolutely loving it, and it has had only glowing reviews, as well as lots of wonderfully complimentary communications with Cynthia from top educators and librarians. There is so much hatred and cruelty in this world of ours, and sometimes we unintentionally teach our children that any kind of different to what we are is not quite right. It’s not always easy to show our children that we are actually all just the same, and little ones get hurt all the time for being different in all sorts of different ways. Cynthia has made it a lot easier with her little purple love. Apart from the educational power of this story, it is a tale of love and of friendship that all can enjoy for what it is—a wonderful childhood adventure.


I fell in love with Myrtle the very first time I read through the story. My heart broke a little when the mean turtle laughed at her simply because she was purple, and then her fabulous mother and friends healed it right up again for me. Myrtle’s creator, Cynthia Reyes, had sent it over to me with a view to me illustrating it. I really wanted to do it, but as I had never before illustrated a whole book before it was most definitely a leap of faith for both of us. It’s odd being terrified of taking something on at the same time as just knowing that it’s meant to be. As things turned out, Myrtle became real right out of the gates. She must have been hanging around in the ether since she was first dreamed into being by Cynthia many years ago, and become even more real as Cynthia and her lovely family told and retold Myrtle’s tale.


The entire process has been a learning curve for all of us, but Myrtle actually taught me a major lesson. I’m confident with my writing ability—that is definitely my comfort zone, and I can’t think of any part of anything to do with writing that frightens me in any way—I love all of it. I’m also confident with my work with putting books together and getting them published for Indie authors. That stuff all takes me to my happy place, but art was another animal altogether. I’ve always loved it, but have never, ever attended any sort of art class—not even at school level. As a teenager I had it in my head that any “real” artist should be able to paint anything from straight out of their head, and that what they produced should be pretty much photographic quality. I, on the other hand, loved drawing dragons, fairies, and Disney folk and flora, which ornate as they were, didn’t strike me as proper art at all. Then Myrtle arrived and showed me that putting the adventures of gorgeous little purple turtles into images in the pages of real books is most certainly art, and she is very real to me, bless her little purple heart.


I was hoping, as I completed the final image in the book of Myrtle and her friends heading off to the big pond, that that wouldn’t be the last I’d see of her, and I’m very, very pleased to tell you that Cynthia has let me know that not only will there be a French translation very shortly, but also another adventure for Myrtle and friends early in 2018. I can’t wait to see what she gets up to next!


Below is the story of how Myrtle came to be.

Cynthia has two daughters. One day her four year old daughter Lauren came home crying.
She had brought her “Cabbage Patch®” doll, Quentin, to nursery school, but the other children refused to play with Lauren and him because of Quentin’s skin colour.
The children had never seen a dark-skinned doll before, and thought he was dirty.
Lauren, who also has brown skin, felt hurt.
Quentin used to go everywhere with her, and slept on her bed beside her. Now, she would not bring Quentin anywhere with her.
Cynthia, her husband Hamlin, and older daughter Nikisha all tried to comfort Lauren, but she was still hurt. So Cynthia made up a story about a turtle who was purple (purple was Lauren’s favourite colour).
Myrtle the Purple Turtle became a favourite story in the family. With each telling, the family helped improve the story through their questions and suggestions. Myrtle the Purple Turtle served as an effective way for the family to talk about differences in not only skin colour, but several other differences as well.
Weeks before Christmas, Lauren surprised the family by requesting “a black doll” as her gift. Such dolls were so rare back then, that the story of the family’s difficult search and ultimate success was featured in Canada’s largest newspaper, The Toronto Star, and revisited in a follow-up story in 2015.
Cynthia and her family decided to publish the story of Myrtle to give parents, grandparents, and teachers a way to talk to children about difference.

Click on the cover image to buy your copy of Myrtle, and visit Cynthia’s website to find out more about this awesome lady and her fabulous turtle.

 

New Things

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Busy Birds
Busy Birdies

After this past year of epic chaos interestingness, I am happy to say that  I have learned a lot, and strangely, even the really unpleasant lessons are now showing me their value – retrospect is a fine thing indeed. Now, tempered to the strength of old boots, while hopefully not looking too much like one of them, I am happy to say that there is quite a lot of fabulousness to come over the next few weeks. Beginning with the epic launch in the next weeks of the beginning of her public life, Cynthia Reyes’ amazing Myrtle the Purple Turtle, closely followed by some unadulterated genius of science-fiction by the one and only Joelle LeGendre there is a lot coming up – all happy and wonderful beginnings from some very talented people.

I’ve made sure this time, that failing the actual end of the world (wasn’t that supposed to be today by the way? – ah well – maybe later – the day is still young) no internet or other problems will be tolerated. Calmness rules now….mostly…..ahem.

Zen Birdie
Zen Birdie

I haven’t been twiddling my thumbs while being mostly in internet darkness. I have found ways, which include zooming around the bush, swearing in ways that only writers can, in my car holding my laptop out of the window looking for signal, to ensure that the important things don’t get lost or undone because of internet devils ever again. I’ve mainly concentrated on work, such as illustrating, editing, proofing and so on over the past months, relegating my social media activity to the last place in the line – obviously focusing on making sure that I don’t let any of my authors down with the surreal things that have happened to try and knobble me – that red guy with the tail and fork kind of overplayed his hand though – it’s impossible for those kinds of problems to win when you’re looking at them and giggling hysterically – hah!

First up. Look out for Myrtle’s introduction here in the next day or two, where I will share the story of how she came to be, and the amazing woman who created her, together with her wonderful and inspiring family, and the honour and pleasure of being allowed to bring that gorgeous little turtle to life with illustration. I will tell all in Myrtle and Cynthia’s own post though – I’m just saying Hi Again to all of you lovely bloggers with this one. Hiiii there guys!!!

Myrtle the Purple Turtle

 

My WIP – Tales from the Irish Garden- with Illustrations by Donata Zawadzka

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A wonderful tale, as only Sally Cronin can weave, and a gorgeous illustration by Donata Zawadzka – fabulous!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

I first published the following story in February of this year and at the time Donata Zawadzka had just been introduced to me by Paul Andruss.  Tales from the Irish Garden was just a twinkle in my eye, but I was already writing some stories down to be included.

Eight months on and I am delighted to say that Donata has now produced four wonderful illustrations that I will be using as part of the artwork for the collection. Because I loved this illustration so much, I have also bought the original to use in the book with this story.

Tales from the Irish Garden, follows on from Tales from the Garden which was set in Madrid Queen Filigree will be forced to relocate from her home in the sun in Spain to her cousin’s kingdom in Ireland… expect some misadventures along the way. New characters such as…

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Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – Music, Dancing, Headliners and You…and #Free books

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How wonderful to come back to blogland with a party throw by the fabulous Sally – thank you my dear friend! XX

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to three days of activities where I hope to introduce you to some headlining acts who have contributed and supported the blog since the early days in September 2013. These last four years have been such an adventure and I hope that it will continue for many years to come.

However, I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who has dropped in and left their mark on the blog. That interaction has motivated me to keep writing and to continue to build a book promotion site that helps other authors get their books noticed. With hundreds of thousands of new titles each week it is a challenge to grab the spotlight, but I hope that in some small way, I can help with that.

In September I will be increasing the number of opportunities to showcase your work with a new author interview series.. with a…

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Working With Formatters

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Lit World Interviews

Quite a few of my clients have come to me to have their books formatted, and then found themselves unable to update their already published works with their latest releases because they don’t have the formatted Word manuscripts on file. That’s fine if the formatter who worked on your previous books is available to do the updates. Hopefully the formatter is still in business and findable, or even alive. Things happen. If you have the formatted manuscripts, either your current formatter, or yourself, can do the updates in minutes and have the incarnations required by the various publishing platforms quickly. If you don’t then you either leave them as they are minus any future updates or have whatever manuscripts that you do have on file reformatted, which is a wast of money.

When hiring people to work on your book, here are a few things to take note of before…

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Better Late Than Never

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So far recently, every time I’ve thought that I would be back to blogging often, some weird and terrible thing has happened. Lots of bad things. Now I’m sure that I will be back, even though that’s not to say that everything is all unicorns dancing on moonbeams for me, I’m OK, happy, and I’ve finally realised that change, no matter how toothy and scary it appears at the time, is best embraced and worked with rather than fought with. Change can be beautiful when viewed over your shoulder I think—the trick is to keep on moving no matter what and believe that it will be. Life is often about hard choices, and sometimes life can be so hard that the choice becomes whether to stay upright and carry on walking at all through that terror-filled valley or to find a suitably large rock to hide behind for the duration.

Problem with the rock is that the longer you stay with it the longer you stay in the valley. I reckon too that if you do spend a whole long time quivering in fear behind it, wondering how to get rid of the bulls-eye on your forehead and the sign on your back that says “Kick Me Really Hard All The Time”, you get to thinking that you’ve missed your chance altogether. That’s never true—it’s never too late. The hardest two parts about getting through to the sunshine are probably getting rid of that feeling of waiting for the next disaster, believing that of course more horribleness is surely on the way, and secondly believing that you deserve all horribleness issued to you anyway because you really are not only not fabulous, but you could indeed be the very epitome of anti-fabulousness.

Not easy peasy, but once you transform that rotten duo of beliefs, you might just be able find the rest of the trip not as petrifying as you imagined, and quite a lot of fun. Of course, some people’s valleys aren’t quite so deep and dark, but even though all people will have some level of tribulation in their lives, not all are properly equipped to deal with it depending on what they’ve learned one way or another, so I’m feeling quite excited about my upcoming non-fiction projects. Yes—finally! Late, yes, but at least not never. More on that and also epically late fiction launches to follow.

The past couple of years have been pretty surreal, and I’m really grateful to have actually not totally crumbled and expired. The worst happened this year when I lost one of my feathered horde, who those of you who have followed this blog for several years will know are my constant, very, very much beloved companions and fabulous feathered joy blessings. Little Button zoomed off to await the rest of us in Heaven. The worst thing is the way Jelly still mourns him. Those two little guys used to have the most appalling fights—feathers literally flew—but still, weeks and weeks after the fact, Jelly refuses to go to the places where they sat together, and would not bath in their bath either. I eventually threw it away, and now he will only bath in my cupped palms under running water. He looks at the ceiling fan that was Button’s domain, with a proper look of hope that his buddy will be there, and cried too, for a long time while holding on to one of my fingers very tightly with his tiny claw. I’ve never seen an animal grieve the way Jelly has, but it has taught me that without any shadow of a doubt, those of God’s creatures who we bring into our lives and love so much, will most certainly not “just die”. We will most certainly see them on the other side. I was going to post a RIP Button tribute, but as with when Angus died I couldn’t do it, those things just make everyone cry. I will instead be posting more photies of the whole horde in future regardless of “where” they are. Just the happy guys that they are should be shared. We place too much emphasis on mourning when we lose a love to what we see as the grim reaper, when I believe now that we should rather focus on the joy of their lives, and the knowledge that they really are in another place now—a good place—looking forward to seeing us again. Death is just a doorway, not an ending. It’s our job to move on positively, enjoy the time we have left here, and be as productive, helpful, and loving as we can while we do so.

BUTTON
BUTTON

Weirdly, even though the thought of my little yellow angel is still like a hot knife through my heart, after a couple of weeks of thinking that I would expire too from the pain of his absence, his death kicked me right out of my own weird head thing. Sometimes when the worst thing that you can think of happens, you have to either move forward with joy—or give up and camp out in the valley, forever in pain and misery. So moving on to new things for my horde and I. New things for Jelly will have to be found to take his mind off the past. New joys, and sometimes sadness too, but never hiding too long again behind anything.

I keep in mind now that when you expect only the horrible, the horrible is exactly what you will get. I’ve made a couple of fabulous discoveries—one especially, astoundingly simple, and almost instantly healing—all of which I’m very hard at work compiling into books for this year. Lots of fabulous publishing and design projects have been coming my way from my fabulous Indie authors. Thank you to all of you for your support, for allowing me to work with you on all of your wonderful books, and for your patience the couple of times I dived behind a rock or had a couple thrown at me.

When the trials of life do delay you one way or another, remember that it’s never too late to get moving again. Even if you drop some of your luggage on your way through your wilderness, that’s not always a bad thing, when you walk through the darkness concentrating on the light ahead, often there is a wonderful blue sky waiting for when you take that first step towards the exit of that valley.

Sky