Archives for category: Canadian author

Prospects for selling my book at the Byward Market in Ottawa when I arrived at 10 a.m. Wednesday looked as dim as the thunderstorm forecast. Still, I bet myself I could sell enough copies (five) in the next six hours to buy tickets for a big treat. I defied the skies to clear in time for a picnic with our granddaughters and their parents before watching the preview performance of theater under the stars on the banks of the Rideau River that night. mmarket.jpgWork crews carrying partitions, shopkeepers rushing with arms full to set up for the day, twosomes and threesomes speaking languages other than English brushed past. Where were my buyers?

  • The atmosphere enlivened at lunch time, with music and dancing in the adjacent square attracting a noisy, lively crowd. A quarrel between someone not quite in his right senses and a big truck disrupted the self improvement, creative atmosphere I was trying to inject.
  • A dreary-eyed, homeless man with his bundles and bags slouched up against the bricks, heritage plaque and sesquicentennial posters on the market building facing me. Where were my readers?

It was discouraging and my devoted hubby of 61 years decided I was crazy and he might as well abandon ship and go home.  While he hesitated, I was ready with my elevator pitch to summarize my book in two sentences.

  • Anyone drawn to the table for a closer look at my framed newspaper article headlined “Call of Love in the Wilderness” got it. An old toothless man mesmerized by a 1904 picture of my mother as a child in a sailor outfit stayed because he wanted to hear her full story.
  • With a cheery “Hi Margaret!” up strode author Stevie Szabad, eager to buy two of my books and pick up advice from someone she perceived as having accomplished things she wanted to do. We plotted to sell together at the Galeries Aylmer Christmas market. 

Hubby stayed when I reminded him I was there to get my parents’ exemplary story out, not just sell the product. A take-out lunch of chicken sandwiches and smoothies fortified us both. 

  • Then a ray of sunshine, a tourist from Vancouver, suddenly appeared. He wanted to know more about why I called my book “A Book of Kells” and gave me advice on genealogy. He bought a signed copy as a gift and souvenir of Canada’s 150th.
  • A particularly friendly face came to the table confidently and I was able to engage her in conversation. For the next twenty minutes Tom and I found we had much to share with her and vice versa. Gale O’Brien is a lovely, avid reader who lives in Britannia by the Ottawa river. She now owns one copy of A Book of Kells and one of  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride which I hope she will enjoy reading.
  • When Kelly Buell turned up because she had been following me online, Tom was getting the car because it was 4 p.m., time for us to pack up. Kelly and I chatted and hope to help each other in future as writers so often do.

When I first met the organizer of the Byward marketing team and showed her my book, she told me she is a ‘Kell’ on her mother’s side. I was able to inform lovely, competent Megan Sartori that we are second cousins twice removed. 

By the way, the outdoor performance in Strathcona Park was superb. My granddaughters, aged 10 to 16 were absolutely thrilled with The Amorous Servant by Carl Goldoni staged by Odyssey theater. Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed its humor and sensible advice for all ages, too.

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Happy Reading & Writing from Cozy Book Basics until We Meet Again!

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Cookstownchurch

Watercolor by Cookstown artist Jay Kirk-Young

On May Day I fled my computer to go sit in the pew where my grandfather sat when he was raising a family in the early 1900’s in Cookstown, ON, north of Toronto. I was not alone. We were a flock of 200, the size of church needed in 1825 by a tiny rural village of 500 (not counting the animals) which had only three churches.

  • We sang the old hymns. We listened to memories. We seized this last inspiring moment. We and the old building with its organ pipes and choir loft harmonized and rode into the sunset with the Churchill Boys country music group. We squirmed during a too-long yet relevant sermon. We knew after two hours it was time to say the closing prayer’s “Amen”. We lingered over the last potluck in the basement. We hugged our relatives and new friend, the funeral director, whom we will meet again.
  • My grandpa (a speaker had reminded us by citing ‘A Tribute to Our Parents‘ written by my father) read the Bible every morning at the breakfast table.When hushed, everybody in the family, even the two hired men, got off their chairs and knelt to pray.
  • I wonder if I was sitting in the pew where grandpa sat before he died when he fell from an apple tree, where father sat the day he was sponsored as a candidate for the ministry, where mother sat on her first Sunday in a strange country as part of a family she didn’t know, or where I was held the day I was baptized.
  • We say thanks by celebrating occasions like the decommissioning of an old church, or by writing books about our families. The Cookstown United Church people, now comprising only 25 families, will continue to worship with the Countryside United Church people in the town of Thornton just up the highway. The building will not be destroyed because the core of the village, still of 500 but just about to be developed, has been declared a protected zone.
  • This is the heritage I celebrate in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. Then I wrote a second book, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, singling out my mother’s winter bush adventures in northern Manitoba and including pictures.
  • Like the Lady of Shalott in my avatar, my creative efforts died while I fled from my writing web but now they are alive again.

On June 4 I will join other authors selling their wares at Prose in the Park, a wonderful, free outdoor family literary event in the market on Parkdale Avenue in Ottawa. I will be with friends from the Media Club of Ottawa and Ottawa Independent Writers.
What will really make it special is if you can be there too (in spirit, if not body).

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Marty again

Marty gets a sneak preview of his Christmas presents

Marty is the pet of a loyal fan of this author. He wants to be the mascot of cozybookbasics and I think I’ll take him on. He has wonderful, fuzzy white fur, reminiscent of the snow we’re not getting here this Christmas. He’s serious, intelligent and appreciates the good things in life.

We hope you will have a wonderful season of celebration in your home. May many good books come your way as gifts!

As a treat, here are poems about two things besides books that come to mind with the word pets and love.

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’

Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The Owl And The Pussy-Cat
Edward Lear

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love’s sake only. Do not say
‘I love her for her smile—her look—her way
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day’—
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity’s wiping my cheeks dry,—
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love’s sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love’s eternity.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861)

Happy  Holidays from Cozybookbasics!

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No good concerts were on in Ottawa when we celebrated our Diamond Jubilee last week, so we put our savings into a Magic Circle and dinner at Hy’s Steakhouse instead. Both were well worth it, for ever.

magiccircle

A custom-made Magic Circle by Iris tenHolder

An artistic photographer and friend who is vice president of the Media Club of Ottawa also designs and knits mini rugs while others sleep. Her husband William tenHolder, former owner of upscale Café Wim and author of the book by that name, hosts open houses in Iris tenHolder’s heritage studio where her work is shown. As a memento of our sixtieth anniversary, we asked her to make a Magic Circle for our home. It’s the perfect gift for people who love to have something unique.

Starting from scratch, she and Wim came to our house with samples of designs and yarn colors to see what blended into our rooms and what we liked. It was completed on time and delivered in person.  Now our ugly little coffee table/footstool is a gorgeous focal point admired by all, a constant reminder of our big day. The price, based on the size, the yarn and the time it takes, is right too.

A serving of Beef Wellington at Hy's Restaurant

A serving of Beef Wellington at Hy’s Restaurant

The Citizen of Sept. 10, 2015 ran a front page headline, “Hy’s Steakhouse Closing in February”. We were shocked to see this hub of the capital’s political life was mortal, like Café Wim. The story said the owners had been unable to come to an agreement with the landlord over the lease.

We discovered it in 1985 after Arthur Mantell asked me and Tom to be his and his wife Kitty’s partners in the Aylmer Bulletin. A weekly newspaper has to hold an annual meeting of shareholders. This meant the four of us went out for dinner at Hy’s and charged it as a business
expense. Since the Mantells ran the business side and we did the editorial side, the decision wasn’t ours to question. From our curved, upholstered couches, we just ate and gaped at the beautiful guests, open fire chamber, fabulous decor and competent staff.

We headed to Hy’s near Parliment for our sixtieth anniversary dinner and dared to order what we really wanted from the menu, i.e. Beef Wellington. It tasted heavenly but the occasion was bittersweet for some. Our waitress said they received news of the closing a few days ago. She had worked there for 29 years and her colleagues were like family. We asked her what she would do and she said she didn’t know but she couldn’t afford to retire. After we finished eating, we lingered to soak up the atmosphere which was not as crowded and upbeat as in 1985.

The Hy website is sweetening the blow for customers by announcing an online contest worth $1500. If you win, you might be able to plan having a blast there before February and inviting all your friends! The contest is Hy’s way of celebrating their Diamond Jubilee, since the company was founded in Calgary 60 years ago and none of its other stores is closing down.

Ironically, part of our family too is closing down. We reach this milestone just as a child of ours goes to court to settle a divorce after 17 years. So life goes on. We celebrate our big occasions as exuberantly as we can while remembering others are not so lucky.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

IMG_1461Here it is in a hotel room in Edinburgh.

In World War I Kathleen Ward of the city of Portsmouth, England meets Jack Kell of a farm in Cookstown, Canada. From love letters, journals and photos left to her, the author unfolds their romantic, daring story in A Book of Kells. It starts with William and Mary Kell who immigrated to rural Ontario in 1850 and follows the lives of their most adventurous descendants. The subtitle Growing Up in an Ego Void reveals the other-worldly expectations put on a minister’s daughter in her growing-up years. This book of love is wrapped in a reference to the ninth-century monks who copied and illuminated the famous holy manuscript, The Book of Kells. Generations of the author’s devout family of the same name strove to illustrate the gospels by the way they lived their daily lives. 

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

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http://www.margaretvirany.com