Archives for posts with tag: World War One

 

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A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void goes to the Byward Market July 19th to sell itself alongside other tempting produce rooted in Ontario farmland.

An Unlikely Pair

  • JACK Kell, an acronym, left the family soil in Cookstown, ON and sailed to the barracks of Portsmouth, England in crucial WWI year 1917. He was invited for tea at the home of genteel school girl Kathleen Ward who, 10 years later, left all she knew to marry him. They had kindled romantic love via handwritten transatlantic letters sent by surface mail and riddled with suspense.
  • She began being Canadian on a train from Montreal via Toronto and Cookstown to Winnipeg, then a steamship to Norway House, and  a canoe up to Oxford House where JACK evangelized the Swampy Cree as a United Church missionary.
  • They had faith and book knowledge in common, and dedication to building a better world in this beautiful peaceful country of optimism and opportunity. Both met challenges and experienced transportation and climate adventures no other person, white or native, ever dreamed up.

 

A Real Life Detective Story

  • In genre, A Book of Kells is a family history written as a novel and detective story. It sets out to solve the mysteries of the hero and heroine’s lost egos and why Kathleen wouldn’t give JACK one of her chocolates the week before he died even though he pleaded for it.

Please Come If You Can to the Authors’ Tent July 19th

  • I appreciate the Market’s help in my ongoing efforts to talk to people and find moments of connection and assimilation amid our individuality and multiculturalism. I’ll be in the pink at the author’s tent from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19 and hope you will drop by and chat if by chance you can be out relaxing or shopping for healthy sustenance for body and soul.
  • The companion book Kathleen’s Cariole Ride differs from A Book of Kells in being written as a love story and tribute to a war bride’s bravery. It consists of  their early story plus 12 authentic pictures. I’ll also sell copies of my heritage cookbook Eating at Church.

Tip: A recent buyer was a man looking for a wedding present for an octogenarian couple. JACK and Kathleen’s combined life ends with him dying in her arms after they had spent almost 61 years together.

Happy Reading from CozyBookBasics!

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

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My father wore a Canadian sailor suit and my mother wore her English high school lab coat when they met in the middle of WWI and preserved love letters we can now read.

My father wore a Canadian sailor suit and my mother wore her English high school lab coat when they met in the middle of WWI and preserved love letters we can now read.

Patricia Zick of  Author-Wednesday interviews Margaret Kell Virany whose books include A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, the love story of an English young woman and a Canadian young man set during World War I. Kathleen’s Cariole Ride is set during the same time period.

Q. How do you envision yourself in this role of writing romantic historical books based on your life and that of your parents?

A. Lover of life, language and literature. Note-taker, journalist, editor, author. I write. Little things turn me on, like scraps of paper in a keepsake box and the memory of strawberry socials, harvest suppers and silver teas. The act of being a witness, a record-keeper, a storyteller, and the one who remembers has always excited me.  I feel like I am part of a wider community. My ideal is to help others “see eternity in a grain of sand” (William Blake) and gain access to the best truth we have. As the historian, Sallustius said in 4 A.D, “What happened is what always happens.”

Q. I love that. It’s very poetic, which is very fitting based on your style of writing. Do all your books have a common theme or thread?

A. Yes. Love is my theme. It comes in various specialties: the romantic love of a young couple, parental love, filial love, family bonds, charity, love for other human beings, and the all-embracing divine love brought to earth and presented as an ideal by the Gospels. For me, it was a personal pilgrimage of going home to my parents after finding their love letters had been left in a keepsake box, surely for some purpose.

Kathleen Ward let her lover sail home after he came back to court her after WWI. Later they married and their daughter wrote their story, based on love letters (A Book of Kells).

Kathleen Ward let her lover sail home after he came back to court her after WWI. Later they married and their daughter wrote their story, based on love letters (A Book of Kells).

Q. What a wonderful and powerful perspective. Why has it been so important to explore this theme of love?

A. If people don’t get or give enough love they go searching for it, and a good book can be their voyage. When I was coming of age in the fifties, it was still a bit of an anomaly for a woman who had children to work outside the home. Women like my mother came out of a world, both deprived and romantic, that had untold, inestimable influence on the direction of children, husbands, and society. Such love practices inspired the line, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” (William Ross Wallace, 19th century Indiana poet)

Q. That’s a perfect quote to express what you’ve done in your writing. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

A. “Virany’s account of their (her parents’) adventures … is riveting. (She) has the natural gifts of a born storyteller who keeps you caring about the characters no matter where they are. When the Kells finally return to civilization the pace of the narrative doesn’t flag.” From a review by Ellen Tanner Marsh, New York Times bestselling author.

Here's the picture of my mother I used on the cover of Kathleen's Cariole Ride.

Here’s the picture of my mother I used on the cover of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.

Q. I’d be very proud of that review as well. Very nice and I’m sure rewarding. How did you choose the title, A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void?

A. In my years spent studying English literature at the University of Toronto, I noticed certain things about classics. I wanted to do things that would identify my memoir as that category of book. Fortuitously my family name, Kell, is the same as that of the most famous manuscript of ancient western civilization, The Book of Kells. Millions of tourists go to look at it in Dublin each year, so it would have a familiar ring even for those who couldn’t pin it down. Beginning the title with “A Book of …” gave it a serious, nonfiction tone. My literary background also led me to load my title with words that had multiple meanings and associations which would give clues to the type of content inside. My parents lived their married life as if it were a book. There is an ancient concept of life being one’s “book of days.” For dates and events, I leaned on my parents’ daily diaries. The title could also refer to the Bible, the book that most guided my ancestors and parents. I hit the jackpot, I felt, when I disovered that the root of the name Kells was, according to some scholarship, a synonym for all Celts or Kelts, the dominant tribe who inhabited the region north of the Mediterranean Sea in 500 B.C. This was generic; anyone with a name with the Kell prefix is one of the tribe so the word should have wide appeal. Another meaning for “kell” was a hair net or covering and that was an appropriate symbol for my upbringing as a minister’s daughter. My title might make people think it was a family history, which it partly was, at least for the most recent four generations.

It would be a long, lonely journey for my father from the white cliffs of Dover back to the Indian reserve in Oxford House, MB. But he was not one to give up hope too easily.

It would be a long, lonely journey for my father from the white cliffs of Dover back to the Indian reserve in Oxford House, MB. But he was not one to give up hope too easily.

Q. That’s fascinating. I’m always interested in the creative process, so how did you decide to write this book?

A. I wanted to write it as a romantic novel while sticking rigorously to the facts as I knew them or was able to reconstruct them by careful logic. It should have a beginning, middle, climax and end but these should not be superimposed. They should emerge from what I could find out; the story must be allowed to tell itself. It was a test to see whether the literary structures I had been taught really worked. I had to discipline myself not to make things up. I already had on my hands a self-described knight and lady who had rubbed shoulders with real prime ministers and princes. They courted and treated each other accordingly. I did not have to manufacture their raw emotions because I had their seventy-two authentic love letters from the 1920s. I had been blessed by a bonanza in a keepsake box; I just had to call forth my muses to elicit it and do it justice.

Here is a beautiful quote I just received as a comment on my “About” page of my blog. “Memories are a nursery where children who are growing old play with their broken toys. Kells is an extraordinary book, presenting the extraordinary story of extraordinary people living in extraordinary times.” John W. Bienko

Q. That is lovely. I’m so glad you stopped by today, Margaret. Yours is a unique story and one worth telling. Won’t you tell us  more about yourself?

Oceanbound to a Family Reunion in 1937 (illustration from A Book of Kells)

Oceanbound to a Family Reunion in 1937 (illustration from A Book of Kells)

A. About Margaret Kell Virany: Born on a farm on the northern fringe of Toronto, I got a degree in English Language & Literature and married my Varsity heart throb. Early employment was at the Toronto Telegram, Maclean-Hunter and freelancing for the Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Montreal Star, and Montreal Gazette. My most fun jobs were as professional public relations secretary first of the Montreal YMCA and then of the Toronto YMCA, and as a program organizer of CBC-TV’s first live nationally televised conference The Real World of Woman (1961). Following a move to Canada’s capital region, I became editor/co-owner of the weekly newspaper in my home town of Aylmer, QC and had the busiest, best career of a lifetime. Upon discovering the keepsake box full of love letters, journals and photos my parents left, I published A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. It records my family’s lives and my uneasy coming of age as a minister’s daughter. Then I wrote Kathleen’s  ariole Ride recounting my parents’ transatlantic courtship and adventures living on a Cree reserve in the north. At the 2012 Centennial Conference honoring the literary critic, Northrop Frye, I learned that my notes of his lectures would be among those posted on the fryeblog, available for public download. This success brought me back to the day when I dropped out of college for a year and learned shorthand on my very first job, as a receptionist at the ‘Tely’.

Thank you for dropping in. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Author’s tips are offered by word and writing advice by example.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics! http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany  www.margaretvirany.com

Final Proof of a paperback edited with phone help from Createspace

Screenshot of a paperback edited with phone help from CreateSpace

You can do a near-perfect job of self-publishing a paperback, or converting an e-book to print. Here are last-minute tips about how I made use of phone calls:

 1. Help! My pictures are blurry. They don’t have 300 dpi (dots per inch)!

Answer: If you want to have images in your book, CreateSpace guidelines ask you to go back to your original photos and save them at a resolution of at least 300 dpi. I did this but CS sent a message saying that, except for one, they were only from 75 to 176 dpi. What was happening? By Googling around, I found out many authors have this problem. If you are typing your manuscript in Microsoft Word, the final step before submitting it is to change it into a pdf. At this point, apparently trying to be helpful, MSW ‘compresses’ or ‘resamples’ the file to save space and that means they reduce the dpi. After a long discussion with the CS representative who answered my phone call (a 24/7 service), he finally suggested I could submit my manuscript as a docx instead of a pdf. It worked and my old, authentic pictures came through clearly.

2. Help! This is my second book cover design (on right below) but it still looks terrible!

My first and second front cover design attempts

My first and second front cover design attempts

Answer: I phoned to talk to one of the ever-helpful CS representatives and told him that my cover proof was a big improvement over my first one, with the horse’s head chopped off, except for one thing. I would like them to superimpose a black and white photo of my mother on the landscape. That would make it engagingly human, and give an inkling of the kind of authentic, historic tale that lay inside. He said “No”. I would have to search through the pre-designed templates and images they offered and find another one. It seemed like a hopeless task until I found something very simple (photo at top). From the huge palette of background colors they offered, I chose sea-foam for the background and midnight blue for the font — both of them just right for my content and theme! The quirky font was one of the immutables in the template. I like it because a cariole ride is a bumpy, incongruous thing, like my mother’s life.

3. Help! No imprint logo appears because there’s no spine and no space provided for it on the back. This looks unprofessional!

Answer: Patient as always, the CS rep at the other end of the line (in some faraway part of the world) told me my paperback had no spine because it was no more than 120 pages. What other authors do, he said, was to insert their logo on page two beside the copyright and ISBN information. He assured me it would look very professional, so I did it.

4. Help! I’ve received the new-covered proof in the mail but I still see inconsistencies in the interior copy.

Answer: Obviously the dozen or so times I and others had proofread the book were not enough, so I went through it carefully two more times. The mistakes I found were often things I thought had been corrected by using the ‘Find’ and ‘Replace’ options in MSW.  However, when I changed ‘JACK’s name (it’s an acronym) to ‘Jack’ for easier reading, it didn’t always do it. Also, I had decided at one point to write out numerals up to 100, instead of just up to ten, and had missed some of them. I was shocked to find a mistake that had not been caught in the e-book version. In places I still referred to ‘Mother’ instead of  ‘Kathleen’ as I had called her in my original book about my parents. Another error was that the capitalization and italics lacked consistency. As an author, I believe in being fastidious because your mistakes are multiplied with every copy and every buyer so you might as well be your own best friend and get a reputation for being smooth and accurate.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertaining. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

(Next week I will write about how I plan to promote and sell the paperback.)

The beautiful Saguenay Fjord on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, Canada

The beautiful Saguenay Fjord on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River at Tadoussac, Canada. Image courtesy of Saguenay Fjord National Park

While I vacationed on the beautiful Saguenay Fjord this month my baby, otherwise known as A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, was in the hands of Dunlop House Books. Their background in teaching English and History, and their expertise in writing prehistoric fiction was turned to reviewing my work and accepting me as a member associate. Here’s what they have to say:

“A unique story, all the more compelling because it is true.  A young seaman marries an English bride and carries her off to his preaching and teaching Mission at God’s Lake, a community of 328 Swampy Crees located six hundred miles northeast of Winnipeg, Canada.  The reader is swept along with them, paddling the fur trade routes and keeping tabs on a mission, establishing a church and a farm, suffering terrible winters and thriving on northern summers. They find themselves alone in a frozen universe trying to find a place for their baby to be born.

The story does not stop there. The Great Depression and World War II intervene.   The missionaries’ grown child must find a delicate balance between ego and soul. The adults, away from the romance of the North must live a difficult life and perhaps it is only in the future that their daughter will rescue her parents’ lost egos.

This is not just a northern adventure, it is a journey into the souls of its characters.”

Written by Donella Dunlop

http://www.dunlophousebooks.com/

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon, Goodreads or my website. To order a copy of Kathleen’s Cariole Ride  for Christmas or Valentines giving, please contact V&V Publishing, editingexcellence.virany98@gmail.com. Bookstores selling my books in the Ottawa area are Black Squirrel, Books on Beechwood, Brittons, Michabou, Octopus and Perfect Books.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

MargBookSurgeA woman (me) whose life World War One created, not destroyed will chat with customers and sign copies of her family/social history books at Britton’s Glebe in Ottawa on Aug. 9. Bookstore owner Ted Britton, an avid supporter of veterans, Canadian history, local authors and events for his customers, is in sync with the start of the WWI Centennial Anniversary. 

Canada, as part of the Commonwealth, was ‘in’ when Britain declared war on Germany on Aug. 4, 2014.The United States stayed neutral until three years later.The book signing at 846 Bank Street will go from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., when the vibrant neighborhood is alive with shoppers.

My father enlisted in the Royal Navy Canadian Volunteer Reserve and was invited to tea at my grandfather’s house in Portsmouth, England.Nine years later my mother started to write to him — but I wouldn’t want to spoil the story by telling you what happened next. They courted like a romantic hero and heroine and lived their life together like a book, as if what they did was for others. All I had to do was put the pieces together after I got into the letters, journals and photos they left behind.
Only 19 copies are left of the original edition of A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void which went with me to the Frankfurt Book Fair and was exhibited as one of the earliest BookSurge POD books in 2003. I will also take orders for Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, the abridged e-book version of the story, with 12 authentic pictures and no subtitle.
Please come if you can. It will be nice to chat with you and the worst thing that could happen is that you might inadvertently buy a book — or maybe that would be the best in the long run!

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void,  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon,  Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

100 Years Ago Some of the Young Thought World War Was Fun (An excerpt from A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void by Margaret Kell Virany, based on the diaries of her father, an Ontario farmer’s son)

JAC Kell in WWI cadet uniform

JAC Kell in WWI cadet uniform

Students debated whether the liquor trade was worse than war The First World War broke out in 1914 when JAC was in his last year at Barrie Collegiate. He was boarding with the family of his friend, Ezra Parkhouse, and busy with math, history, sciences, English, Latin, literary society, school newspaper and debates. (One topic was “Resolved that the liquor trade is worse than war.”)

The cadets marched to the railway station to see their teacher off Social life revolved around the church, picnics and skating. All male students were issued the khaki uniforms of the Cadet Corps and drilled regularly. Then came the day when they marched to the railway station to see “the boys” off, including their favorite teacher.  

JAC  signed up but his father said “No” JAC and his older brother, Clifton, signed up at a patriotic meeting but John said “No” to JAC; he had to stay on the farm. For nineteen months, while the Parliament Building in Ottawa burned and Clifton fought overseas in the trenches, JAC hayed, hoed, hauled, chopped trees, sawed wood, shoveled manure, repaired fences, dug up potatoes, took cattle and pigs to market, picked beans and plowed with four horses at a time.

Trying to stomach being humble and getting no glory He told himself that a man in the most humble place could be a credit to the worth and dignity of the human race. A work horse got no glory but was just as valuable as a race horse who made the headlines at Fort Erie. ‘The Runt’ grew into a strong, 163-lb, five foot ten inch man.

Finally free and off with his buddies  JAC and his pals, Bill Orchard and Ezra Parkhouse, saw a poster-sailor looking them in the eye, pointing and saying “Help Britannia Rule the Waves.” They took a train to Toronto to enlist in the Royal Navy Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR.) Never mind that news of fatalities was pouring in, their teacher had been killed or that farmers were exempt.

It was the sporting thing to do and a real deal It was the sporting thing to do and quite a deal. No experience was necessary. You just needed to be the son of a natural-born British subject and between the ages of eighteen and thirty-eight. You got a free kit, free uniform, free trip abroad, sweethearts kissing you good-bye, military bands playing and $1.10 a week in pay.

The Kaiser was barring the seas and cutting England off  The brutal truth behind the posters was that German submarines had sunk one-hundred and sixty-nine British ships, including merchant and combat ships, in one month. The Kaiser was barring the seas and cutting England off from the rest of the world and all her allies.

Eager to go to the aid of a motherland in distress The British responded by building forty-eight trawlers and one hundred drifters for anti-submarine work and put out a call for volunteers. Seventeen hundred Canadians came to the aid of a motherland in distress.

Sad, enigmatic send-off When they parted, John told his son he would never see him again. “Oh, I’ll be all right,” JAC replied.

Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. Writing advice is squeezed in between. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void,  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church on Amazon,  Goodreads or my website.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

I’ll be at Britton’s Glebe, 846 Bank St., Ottawa on Sat., Aug. 9, 2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to honor the WWI 100th anniversary. Please drop in if you would like to chat and pick up a signed copy of my book.

Susanna Wesley (1669-1742) was a role model for generations of British woman

Susanna Annesley (1669-1742), mother of John Wesley, was a role model for British women

A surprise comment from some women who read my book is, “Margaret!   We had the same mother!” What we seem to have in common is not that we have the same DNA, but that our mothers were British. They wonder, as I do, why their mother never talked about herself, and never talked to them about their selves. “What were our mothers thinking?” they ask.

Susanna Annesley http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susanna_Wesley was so conscientious  (a trait of the mothers we’re talking about) she set down her ideas about child raising so she could be a good example for all women. In this excerpt from A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00440DQNA it was 1955 and I lived in a student residence at the University of Toronto that bore her name:

“In my senior year, I was elected president of Annesley Hall, the girls’ residence a.k.a. the Bastion of Virginity. This home to sixty Victoria College co-eds was named after John Wesley’s mother, Susanna Annesley, who set the Methodist pattern for raising children. She considered obedience the basis for all other virtues, since children must learn from their parents until old enough to form their own judgments. They must clean up their plates, speak softly to the servants and be honest, knowing that forgiveness was at hand. She taught her eight children the alphabet on their fifth birthdays, although two of the girls took one-and-one-half days to master it. They learned to pray and read the Bible, and each evening she spent an hour with one child alone. She paid particular attention to John, God’s special child who had been saved from a fire in the rectory at the age of six. He grew up to be called ‘the most influential Englishman since Shakespeare.’”

It was not a warm relationship between the egos of mother and child but a strict training in obedience, humility, appreciation, honesty, redemption, literacy, Biblical mythology and worth. My mother lived from 1900 to 1990 and was still dedicated enough to the Methodist pattern to try to instill these virtues. Traumatized by  World War I, she particularly emphasized security, based on trust in God. It took six years of research before I could understand her, celebrate our love and take real joy in having had her as my mother.

What do you think? Were these ideas horrendous or sound? Too cold and radical?

In later years John Wesley said,  “My mother was the source from which I derived the guiding principles of my life.” But maybe he would envy his contemporary, Benjamin West, who said, “One kiss from my mother made me a painter.”

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

http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com  http://www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany   http://www.amazon.co.uk   http://www.amazon.ca   http://www.margaretvirany.com

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