Archives for posts with tag: margaret virany

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:

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




Getting interviewed on local radio boosts an author up onto the Cloud.

  • Even if you do not get a big live audience, it will be stored on the Cloud
  • From there you down can download it via iTunes to your computer and pass on the link
  • Your interview can end up being heard anywhere at any time.
  • For me, the secret was to find a publicist to give me a contact list, advice on how to write a pitch and put in a good advance word.

The happy result was I spent a  Sunday Night with Rabbi Bulka on his radio program of that name. He is a world-famous psychologist and congenial talk show host. Now, thanks to the miracle of pod casts, everyone can “listen live” to the secrets of my parents’ love affair, the subject of our chat and my books.

A long list of his expert interviews with all sorts of people is available on CFRA  so you need never again spend a Sunday evening alone, not being wrapped up in an absorbing topic.

As well as having a PhD in Logotherapy and having authored some 30 books, Rabbi Reuven Bulka is famous for converting American radio talk show host Laura Schlesinger to orthodox Judaism some years ago. (Years later she recanted.)

He asked such good questions that even I experienced new, exciting emotions when I tuned in later to hear myself retell the story. The Rabbi started our chat by tackling the problem of competing with the Super Bowl. He told the audience he had an interesting, fascinating guest who was a “young senior.”  They all wanted to watch the football game, he knew, so he would make a deal. They could keep the TV on with the sound off and listen to us at the same time. He would give them an update on the score after each break. It would be the best of both worlds. “Let’s do it,” he said, “this is more important”.

To land this interview, I contacted a publicist friend, Randy Ray. For the modest amount I could afford, he  gave me a list of local media people and some phone consultation. I promised not to share the list of 10 news outlets, 33 programs, names, job descriptions and co-ordinates I could never have found on my own. Even though I have lived in this area for over 45 years, and so has Rabbi Bulka, I had never discovered him.

I emailed my two-page pitch to the likeliest prospects and got three good results. Just as Kathleen’s Cariole Ride was published in 2012,  Daytime TV on Rogers community cable channel  booked me  on Jan. 10 and  Sunday Night with the Rabbi on CFRA radio on Feb. 5. The online newspaper, True North Perspective, ran my entire pitch, carefully edited, on Jan. 20.

Tapping into local media is one of the best moves I’ve made as an independent writer marketing a Kindle book.

The instructions for downloading our interview to your own computer are clear. Scroll down to Feb. 5, 2012. I had no trouble listening online, then downloading iTunes for free, and then the program . It took only about two minutes, although the interview lasts 45.

With modern technology, interviews survive on blogs, websites, social media and the Cloud. Users of local media are beaming up at the world and it is beaming back.

Thank you for spending some of your precious time reading this post. Please browse around from tip to toe and, if you like, write some comments.


NF Northrop Frye Statue

As a writer, it’s freeing to learn that the natural habit of the human mind is to think metaphorically. Lately I  have ‘encountered’ many quotations on this subject from two men I would never have put in the same ‘boat’. Let me call them Norrie and Dan, since I’ve been ‘spending’  a lot of  time in their ‘company’. Frankly, I am sick of fruitless debates over subjects such as the literal account of ‘Creation’ and whether ‘God’ exists.

You might as well question whether we need words. Here are some quotations which ‘nail down’ answers to the wobbly question of  what a metaphor is. Of course the quotes are taken out of context, but they are exact. Take  your pick:

From Northrop Frye: Myth and Metaphor (Selected Essays 1974-88), edited by Robert D. Denham:

  • My own view is that every form of speech can be reduced to metaphor, but metaphor is primary language, and metaphor cannot be reduced to another kind of language: as long as we use words at all we can never escape metaphors, but only change them.
  • Our primary thinking…is not rational but metaphorical, an identifying of subjective and objective worlds in huge mental pictures.
  • Metaphors are statements of identity: they tell us, for instance, that the poet and the lady he loves are shadow and sun.
  • Metaphor does not evoke a world of things linked together by overstated analogies; it evokes a world of swirling currents of energy that run back and forth between subject and object.
  • (Metaphor) is also a primary structural effort of consciousness. (It) may be followed by or even translated into more continuous rational thinking.

From The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown:

  • Those who truly understand their faiths understand the stories are metaphorical.
  • Every faith in the world is based on fabrication. That is the definition of faith — acceptance of that which we imagine to be true, that which we cannot prove. Every religion describes God through metaphor, allegory, and exaggeration from the early Egyptians to modern Sunday School.
  • Metaphors are a way to help our minds process the unprocessable. The problems arise when we begin to believe literally in our own metaphors.
  • By teaching through a metaphorical game (Tarot cards), the followers of the Grail disguised their message from the watchful eyes of the Church.
  • Magdalene’s story has been shouted from the rooftops for centuries in all kinds of metaphors and languages. Her story is everywhere once you open your eyes.

For an example of a practical application of this wisdom Frye says, “The account of creation in the Bible does not describe the origin of nature and was probably never intended to. If it were, it would have been a little cleverer and not had the trees created the day before the sun was.”

Have you written any metaphors lately you would like to brag about here? Please use the comment box to tell us!,,,,

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Cover of "Life on The Mississippi"

Cover of Life on The Mississippi

In his autobiographical memoir Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain says there’s been nothing else in the world like the marvelous science of piloting a steamboat on the world’s longest river.
Starting out as a teenager, he found he had got to learn “more than any one man ought to be allowed to know.” A pilot had to “get the entire river by heart and know it like abc.” Not only that, but because of the shifting currents and winds and tides, he must learn it again every 24 hours. An old landmark tree might have fallen over or a new shoal been formed.
In his tribute to pilots and Memory he writes,
“What a tremendous thing it is to know every trivial detail of 1200 miles of river and know it with absolute exactness.”
“Astonishing things can be done with the memory if you will devote it faithfully to one line of business.”
“I loved the profession (of piloting) far better than any I have followed since and I took a measureless pride in it.”
As a writer, I love to exercise my memory but it is not the only profession dependent on it. What about television reporters and actors who memorize their lines with grace at the same time as they address an audience?
Another fact of our society is widespread concern over ending up as an Alzheimer victim. At a recent video conference on memory I learned that 75% of elderly people will not suffer from it. However, the memory does age and become less acute, just as eyesight and hearing do. Tips I picked up to help cope are:

  • – your chances are good; cheer up and don’t worry
  • – slow down; expect multitasking to become difficult
  • – keep a notebook and write things down
  • – do physical exercise; it’s good for the brain too
  • – when you park your car, key the number of the spot into your phone or other device

This aspect of forgetfulness turns up in Life on the Mississippi too. Twain jokes, “For a long time I was on a boat that was so slow we used to forget what year we left port in.”
He was a multifaceted genius and one of my favorite writers.

You’ve just read, and I hope enjoyed, the latest of 45 posts and 95 pictures delving into the themes of cozy book basics and lives well lived. By clicking on the orange title at the top of each post you can read the previous one; or try opening the posts in  my annual report

Consider buying my family memoir A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void to relive a war bride’s adventures on a Swampy Cree reserve in the ’20’s and an Ontario minister’s daughter’s  turmoils in the ’30-’50’s.

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