Archives for category: Canadian Writer

shopping

We’ve just returned from a first visit as house guests at a beautiful friend’s circa-1923 lodge and garden in Gulfport, Florida. These few bits of advice helped us wise up and fit in fast:
1. For a few dollars, you can buy a pair of aqua shoes to wear in the water. They protect your feet from the sharp edges of broken shells, for example.
2. Sunny Florida is also often windy. It’s good to have a hat that ties underneath the chin, especially for boating. The Gulfport marina was celebrating its Funday, so we were invited on a private yacht cruise with hot dogs and iced tea afterwards. I learned this tip the hard way; my mauve hat with the wide brim is now bobbing up and down on its way back to China.
3. The way to swim in the ocean waves is to proceed sideways, parallel to the shore. It is much more exhausting if you try to let the tide push or carry you. Try it and you will be amazed!
4. Keep your eyes open for manatees bathing below the surface in a quiet stream while you are kayaking, pelicans fly overhead and an egret watches from shore.
5. Florida wild life often shares the same inner premises as people in a way not seen or tolerated in northern cities. A possum nonchalantly passed through the semi-open patio of a trattoria as we ate appetizers. The black non poisonous snake lurking around the mansion court’s garbage bin is regarded as a valuable guardian who keeps the rodent and beetle population down.

6. The northerner who moves in with cans of pesticide is looked at askance as someone needing to be educated. It is important to keep the delicate natural world in balance. Wasps and bees don’t just sting, they are also pollinators, some of them super and endangered. “If you don’t bother it, it won’t bother you,” is the motto to
follow.

7. Little gheckos, something like lizards, are everywhere so learn to love them! Fortunately they are cute, charm a lot of people and eat annoying small insects. It’s upsetting if they die from pesticides aimed at other targets.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first extended visit to Florida and look forward to returning some day soon.

Happy Reading from

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

newspaperdress

Author Margaret Kell Virany in newspaper dress sets up before selling books at Ottawa’s Singing Pebble bookstore. In answer to queries, she told them a dear friend/fan gave her the dress after seeing it on a dummy in a Rockefeller Center boutique. Virany also sold a book or two at this lovely social, civil, cosmopolitan bookstore alive with fresh air.

Victoria_College

This fairy tale castle of a university has a text engraved over its entrance (left). Pretty vines at times obscure it but make a lasting picture to hang in a home to inspire kids.

A child made cozy with books from the earliest age will do well at school and live a good life. This is true and vital especially  in the midst of the electronic revolution. Here are six cues to help make old-fashioned happiness come to your young ones:

  1. Post a beautiful picture, not just a framed text, containing a good book quote that is meaningful to you on a prominent wall in your home.
  2. Tell a circle of children a classic story relevant to them. Then have them each draw a picture of it.
  3. Give them each a colorful sticker to decorate their work as a seal of approval so they’ll be proud of it.
  4. Read a story to a child at night so she or he relaxes and falls asleep peacefully. Do not allow electronic phones, i-pods, etc. in the bedroom.
  5. Build a bookcase out of  boards and bricks someone else is discarding if you have no other way of getting one. It adds color, can hold things and even divide areas.
  6. Fill it with enticing books bought cheaply at community sales. Let the books’ spines expose their titles and their cover graphics excite curiosity. If they are good books, they will find takers.

My Particular Story

What set me up to writing this blog post was news received on Palm Sunday that our church is headed for closure because of indebtedness. For me it is a loss of literature and I will fight not to let that happen. 

When our congregation started nearly two centuries ago, the one book that needed to be taught to a child as early as possible was the Bible. At age four in 1937 I recall emerging from Sunday nursery school into the spring air feeling happy and confident. My story picture had a singing robin on it. I too was one with nature. God saw the little sparrow fall and counted every hair on my head. We were both that important!

When I learned to read I made out the words, “The Truth Shall Make You Free”, not quite hidden by vines clinging around the imposing door of Victoria College at the University of Toronto in a picture hanging in our front hall. 

That pretty much explains the path my life took. God really went up in my estimation when I learned the text was biblical. He had nothing to fear from my intelligence, my curiosity, my independence, my desire to be free, read, study and write to my heart’s content. In fact, that’s what He wanted. Somehow I had no trouble growing into the habit of metaphorical thinking. The spirit of love and creation would always be the strength inside, ahead of, around and behind me — even if churches close and we have to regroup around family and more literary ways.

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

Enhancing-ImagesIt is one thing to have your blog flashed across the earth on the world wide web and another to have someone actually read it. Cozybookbasics has reached a peak of attracting readers in 95 countries of the world, enough to turn the WordPress Stats map orange with delight all over. Come with me to celebrate and see what trips any blog post may be able to take. The link shows the colorful flags of my readers’ countries:

https://wordpress.com/stats/day/countryviews/cozybookbasics.wordpress.com?startDate=2017-03-29&sum
marize=1&num=-1

Gray patches in the Middle East and Central Africa still challenge my blog’s universal presence as a reminder of passionate love for written creatures.

Two Observations and Tips

I’d love to know what magic search word lit up a single reader living in each of  Cameroon, Costa Rica, Albania, the Ivory Coast, Honduras, Brunei, Puerto Rico, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Qatar, Venzuela, Moldova, Kuwait, Haiti, Mauritius, Kenya, Afghanistan, Barbados, Papua New Guinea and Egypt. Thanks for their initiative. It’s worth spending time on a careful choice of tags; I usually have ten or twelve.

It’s good for a blog to have an all-inclusive title. I used ‘cozybookbasics’ to write two posts — one on ‘How we Fell in Love, Built a Canoe and Got a House’ and one on ‘How to Build a Canoe the Aboriginal Way.’ A freelanced article on the latter topic started our home-based business on top of our journalistic careers. This blog post is our most successful, attracting over a thousand readers. Most of them live in 15 former USSR countries. The blog is shared on wooden boat building sites in the Russian and Polish languages. It was written in short cutlines underneath pictures so was easy to translate.

  • If you are a WordPress blogger, here’s how to get your map:
  • Click on My Sites at the left top of your edit page
  • Click on Years at the right of the top line
  • Scroll down and click on Countries on the right
  • Click on All Time at the right of the top line
  • If you are not yet a WordPress blogger, look on Google to find out how to become one. I found it free and easy to arrange.

Voilà! Smile and admire your own collection of big numbers and trophy flags — even if, like me, you’re still near the beginning of becoming a truly global blogger.

Happy Reading & Writing

www. amazon.com/author/margaretvirany  www.margaretvirany.com

1. Keep your eye on the ‘events’ calendar in newspapers and online if you are an indie author of a nonfiction paperback book. This genre sells best person-to-person. It doesn’t sell as well as fiction does in e-book form. My income tax figures show I made 80% of my money selling books on the ground from September to December and perhaps you are the same. March is the time to start making phone contacts for another successful year.
2. Go back to your 2016 phoning lists. You may have missed some events because you were too late calling. I just phoned about one such event planned for late September each year and discovered the registration opens April 1st.
3. Many cultural organizations have annual conferences with book tables authors can rent. This is a new venue for me to try this year and I’m very excited about it. Last year I missed out on selling to the West Quebecers and members of the British Isles Family History Society but I won’t make the same mistake in 2017!
4. Even if you go into book stores for signings, it is still seasonal. You have to go when they are busiest. There’s fierce competition between authors to get one of those good spots. I was missing a receipt for my income tax return so, just now, I phoned the bookstore where I had sold nine books to get it. I took the opportunity to arrange to sell my books there again on the Saturday before Mother’s Day in May.
5. The store clerk put a bee in my bonnet by asking, “Do you really think it’s worth it? I mean, if you have already been here?” I must try to get into some bookstores where I failed before, not always the same ones. However, last time I was in her store I sold to every person I tried to persuade, except one, and I’ll try my best to do that again.

I remain optimistic. I’ll let you know. There are many wonderful readers out there and I hope you’ll have the joy of meeting and selling to them, just as I do year after year!

www.margaretvirany.com   www.amazon.com/author/margaret virany   www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

 

It was much cozier in my breakfast nook on the other side of the kitchen window this week. Today the icicles shriveled in the sunlight and the overweight snow load slid off the roof. It’s time for the spring thaw and a white flag of surrender from winter. Going skiing today.

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

http://www.margaretvirany.com

waltwashpost

http://www.observer-reporter.com/20170127/peters_student_honored_for_lifesaving_cpr_on_friend

Heroes don’t exist everywhere, everyday but they can spring up anywhere, anytime. One of them could even be  you. Eighteen hundred grade-ten students learned this lesson last week at a joyous assembly in a Pittsburgh school auditorium. Two of their classmates, 15-year-old Parker and Walter, had played real-life roles of  survivor and hero in a fateful disastrous instant in October.

The Fateful Event

  • The two best friends were sitting side by side on a bleacher in the local skate park on a Saturday morning. Suddenly Parker turned to Walter and said, “My heart stopped.” When he dropped his phone and collapsed onto the concrete below Walter knew he wasn’t joking.
  • He screamed his head off for help from bystanders and a call was made to 911. Walter told the dispatcher Parker’s nose and lips were blue and the dispatcher said he needed CPR right away. Walter said, “I can do that. I learned it in health class last year.”
  • For 10 minutes he gave Parker CPR and kept talking to him until the police and emergency workers arrived and took over. With Parker on a stretcher and Walter in a panic, the ambulance carried them off.
  • En route Walter phoned his father who rushed to join him at the hospital. Parker was induced into a coma and airlifted to a trauma center. Walter wanted to go with his friend but a nurse convinced him he had done all he could. His father dropped him off at his mother’s to find consolation.
  • With the help of surgery to attach an AED (automated electronic defibrillator), and rest, Parker recovered and was back at school within weeks. His heart is strong; the cause of his cardiac arrest is unknown. He looks forward to resuming playing soccer.

The Commendation

  • Emergency workers and police at the scene and doctors and nurses at the hospital showered praise on Walter for his presence of mind under pressure and trying circumstances.
  • Teacher John Valvala who had taught him CPR was “thrilled” by what Walter had done, thanked and congratulated him.
  • The chief of the Allegheny County Police department saw this as a chance to show heart and strengthen community. It could be used to inspire other teenagers to play the important bystander role which is as vital as any other to a patient’s survival.
  • He announced in January that Walter would receive a Citizen Service Award. The commendation ceremony would be at the school in co-operation with everyone else who had been involved.
  • This event would attract the attention of the community through the media. It was a rare opportunity to put the police in a good light, pointing out what people do that is right, not just what they do that is wrong.
  • The St. Clair hospital announced it would give Walter a Health Hero Award at the same ceremony.

The Heroic Drama & Inspiration

  • It was an exceedingly happy, inspiring occasion. A roar of thunderous applause and cheers went up from the student body and family members as police and doctors presented the awards and shoulder patches.
  • Parker and Walter modestly thanked everyone else, from friends to GoFund donors, in their speeches.
  • Audience happiness got noisier with each inspiring speech aimed at them. It was deafening when the three personal wellness (health) teachers were called up on stage.
  • Police superintendent Coleman McDonough said Walter’s extraordinary act “changed his life forever and changed all of us. One person who is here wouldn’t be.”
  • “It is important for all of you to see one of your peers being honored. It was a service rendered to the citizens of the county. His actions are a credit to himself and all citizens,” McDonough said.
  • Surgeon Kevin Friend said he had been inspired to go into medicine after a classmate saved his life by applying the Heimlich maneuver. He choked on a hot dog he was eating while exerting himself as the anchor man in a school tug of war contest. Ironically, up until then he didn’t like the boy who saved  him  — they had a crush on the same girl.
  • Assistant principal Lesnett got the last round of applause as he challenged the students to  “Be alert. A moment can make a difference. You can make a difference. Don’t just let things happen.”

Follow-up for Walter

  • I had a front seat at this milestone event for our family. We have been fractured by divorce proceedings for four years. This proud happy occasion brought both sides together unexpectedly.
  • Stepbrother Derek joked with brother Robert (both older than Walter), “You and I are just ‘the other brothers’ now”.
  • Father Leslie said, “I think I deserve a little bit of the credit here. I always told my boys to listen to what their teachers said.”
  • Two years ago Walter started an entertaining YouTube channel of videos about “whatever interests me.” It has a growing following among his peers. His ambition is to become an actor or film director. He is a good enough student to take any direction he chooses.  But, most of all, he wants to  make people laugh.
  • Thank you, Walter. You have succeeded.

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

http://www.margaretvirany.com

Marty 2

Posted by a merely human, loving, grateful, sorrowful admirer. You were too noble and beautiful to die so young.  Happy New Year to all furry friends and their two-legged owners. They humanize and socialize us too. (Achoo, achoo, I still love you.) Marty’s kind owner did not have him put down because of his incurable throat tumor but gave him a natural death, caressing him and laying his remains to rest under the snow.

A couple whose lasting love started because of an infernal war.

To present my parents’ life story and my growing-up story I hit upon two ways. First, I could combine the stories of two generations — but only if I could find a beginning, middle and end for a unified structure.

  • It couldn’t just be that they were born and died and did something fantastic as a climax near the end. I had important things to say about their effect on me as I grew up. I saw flaws in their relationship.
  • The central theme I wanted get at was one of ego. Altruism is without a doubt the greatest virtue. But babies need to suck in, see and exercise a healthy dose of ego joy in order to become competent, confident, caring adults.
  • My solution was to frame the book as a psychological detective story/family biography. I began by saying I was on a search for my parents’ lost egos. One question I wanted to figure out was why my mother denied him  one of her chocolates the week before he died, even though he begged for it.
  • That way I could keep the reader in suspense and also make the book an honest critique. That’s my way as a nonfiction writer.
  • The title was easy because our family name was KellThe Book of Kells is the famous ninth century manuscript that illuminates the gospels. I point out my parents and ancestors aimed to do that too, by the way they lived.41khlscocglSecond, I could write the book just as an inspiring love story — the quintessential Canadian romance. This approach might appeal more to a different group of readers. 
  • Like the first book, it contains excerpts from their love letters but the theme is a tribute to my mother’s courage and my parents’ idealism.
  • I tossed out the subtitle and included a dozen authentic pictures of my mother’s adventures instead.
  • The title comes from a hazardous five-day trek on a cariole toboggan made by my mother, my father and an aboriginal guide. The temperature dipped to 30-below-zero. If there was no one to take them in, they slept outside. She had to get to the hospital for her baby to be born.
  • Digital technology made it easy for me to do this. Both books are published under our V&V logo but printed-on-demand and distributed by CreateSpace (originally called BookSurge.)
  • Revisions are quick and simple to make. Then I order just the number of  books I think I can sell at bookstores, fairs, shopping malls, reunions, book clubs, seniors’ residences, libraries, book clubs, etc.
  • Most customers have a definite preference for which printed edition they want for themselves or as a gift.
  • I take my i-pad with me and can download an e-version of either book if that is what they prefer.

cozybookbasics.wordpress.com

www.margaretvirany.com

www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

Credit: Library & Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1982-124

Lucky me. I’ll be selling my books and displaying aboriginal artifacts this Sunday afternoon at a site once inhabited by the tribe who greeted the pilgrims on the Atlantic shore. No. The above picture is not a Currier & Ives Christmas card. It is a steel engraving by William H. Barlett famously published in Canadian Scenery Illustrated in 1842. As in the picture,  people will be gathering at the Lake Deschenes bend in the Ottawa River to be warmed and refreshed amid the nostalgic aura of dormer windows, conjoint staircases and veranda vistas.

  • The event this time (Dec. 4) is a light show and artisans’ sale after the Santa Claus parade down Main Street and the Christmas Bazaar at the British Hotel.
  • The Kitchi Sibi Anishinabeg first inhabited this site thousands of years ago. Chief Tessouat was a busy commercial middleman in the years of the fur trade. Champlain and his voyageur explorers rested at this pleasant spot in 1613. They thought they had found a route to China but at least were the first to get as far as Lake Huron. Charles Symmes from Woburn, MA built the Inn in 1831 and helped his uncle Philemon Wright found the townsite. Pioneer settlers made their way to Aylmer from Montreal by stage  coach and stayed overnight before continuing their journey. This was the landing place for busy steamboat traffic.
  • When we moved to Aylmer in 1976 we built a sailboat (from a kit) and berthed it at the Marina (above). One day after sailing I saw one of our municipal councilors, Denise Friend, charge across the parking lot to accost some gentlemen stepping out of a black limousine. They were officials of the Quebec government and had a purse to spend on heritage projects. Soon news came that the historic Inn reduced to rubble after being used as a flea market and consumed by a fire was to be restored. It re-opened in a good imitation of its former glory in 1978.
  • Today it is a Museum with fine exhibits as well as being a heritage gem of the Outaouais region. It will always be at the heart of the townsfolk of the Aylmer sector of the city of Gatineau. That’s why my books, indigenous artifacts and I will be smiling so happily from the inn-side this Sunday. The artifacts I have include a birch-bark basket, two birch-bark trivets, an ermine hat and scarf set and a pair of embroidered moccasin slippers. They’re from my parents’ days as missionaries on the Cree reservation at Oxford House, MN in the roaring twenties. Their story is told in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.
  • Merry pre-Christmas season to you too!

margaretvirany.com

cozybookbasics.wordpress.com