Posts filed under ‘authors’

Book Promotions

This season I’ve been busy promoting my picture book, Harry’s Trees. When I take those books to places, I’m also taking along several others.

Recognizing the connection between trees and plant nurseries, I decided to contact plant nurseries. Several were glad to be asked and accommodated me and a few other places had already booked sufficient activities to fill their spaces at an extremely busy time of year. Fair enough. I’ll check back in with those later when their pace is a little less harried.

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This little doll will have my book read to her as she grows. And one day she’ll read it herself. At Belgian Nursery, Breslau.

For the nurseries where I did  go, I had a variety of guests come to see me, some I had invited and others who came to the nursery for plants, albeit on a cold May day, and wandered in to see what was happening in the classroom area of the building.

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Invited guests who travelled a distance, and of course my illustrator, Maja, on the left. At Sheridan Nursery, Kitchener.

 

Sheridan Nursery, the first to accept my idea of shared promotion, gave me the space and opportunity to read part of my book to children, including four of my own grandchildren.

It seemed most of the children, if given a preference, liked the spring and summer seasons best, but a few liked the colours of fall as well. Maybe it’s that they could be outdoors then.

All children coming to my table with their parents get a colouring sheet to decorate in their favourite season, but only the first location provided opportunity for hearing part of the story.

 

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I was glad I had brought along markers so these two girls could colour their tree picture while their mom shopped.

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See the birds flying to and from the tree? And the new leaves sprouting on the tree?

 

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Another young reader in the making. For now, it’s the colours in the book and this little one already loves trees and the out of doors.

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And long-time friends (since 4-H days) coming to celebrate with me and taking pictures for me.

Sheridan offered opportunity on Earth Day weekend for advance promotion of my book, Harry’s Trees. As my calendar was already filled, Judy, a friend of mine, was willing to read my book at the event. She reported some interesting conversations, especially one with a girl who was interested in the art in my book.

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And Amanda, my helper at two of my events thus far. Thank you.

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Thank you, Amanda, for taking such a great photo for me. You’ll see this one on my new website very soon.

Belgian Nursery generously provided maze pens that I could give out to people, especially children, coming to my table. There were engaging conversations and people admiring Maja’s art in my book and getting to choose a bookmark, hand stamped or decorative ones created by my illustrator. And a colouring page too. One of the employees told me that the children were delighted with the page to take home.

 

Then there was the turtle pond and the fish pond at St. Jacob’s Country Gardens and Plant Nursery.

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And the fish pond with a small waterfall too, because they also have a pond specialist.

 

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And here I was stationed between the two. It’s a lovely place to sit and chat with people.

Thus goes my book promotion for this spring. I’ve been offered the opportunity to return to this third place as often as I wish, and I will take them up on the offer.

Thank you all who came or helped, and for purchasing a book. I hope you will enjoy reading it to your children or just to share with others who you know.

May the children who hear the story come to understand the value of trees to humans and nature. When they do, I know my father would be smiling because he loved them too.

 

 

 

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May 14, 2018 at 1:12 am 2 comments

Garden in Bloom and More

After what seemed like a long cold winter, then a late ice storm here in Ontario, our gardens are erupting with colour.  First the narcissus, then the hyacinths. It seemed like they were patiently waiting for the snow and ice to disappear. The stems were up and the blossoms ready to open when the sun warmed the air. Spring has finally arrived.

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My garden stone, made at a women’s retreat, is back in place for the season

My granddaughters wait to set up the fairy garden again. We need to wait for some of the plants to emerge to give the fairies shade when they make their appearance. This year when we plant, we’ll have a new addition to the gardeners when another small one gets to help with planting. She’ll have her own fairy too, of course. Guess she’ll need a shovel as well, for digging holes.

 

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fairy home last year

 

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Our snow shovels still out last week when my husband put up the window box

 

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I love the yellow daffodils in spring. They bring such a burst of colour. Then the little grape hyacinths around them give a purple backdrop.

 

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And now the tulips are opening too. Such a riot of colour

 

These past few weeks, I’ve been busy writing content for my new website. Things are shifting and so is my blog, Storygal, back here at WordPress. The posts at my current site are backed up and may appear at this site from time to time. The new website will be launched soon. I’ll announce when it’s ready.

Meanwhile, I’ve been promoting my picture book, Harry’s Trees, at local plant nurseries. Tomorrow at the St Jacobs Country Gardens and Plant Nursery. I launched the general market version last fall after initially starting the story as a family project after my father died in May 2011, two years ago today, as I write.

 

Carolyn's Book Front Cover layout

Harry’s Trees, a children’s picture book dedicated to my father

My garden beds are dug up and raked, ready for the plants. After my book event this weekend, I’ll purchase plants. I have a date with three granddaughters to help me plant. First will come a conversation with the two oldest about what we’ll grow this year. Perhaps there’ll be a request for something new.

Enjoy the spring weather and don’t plant those annuals too soon. They don’t like frost.

 

May 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm Leave a comment

Harry’s Trees, the picture book

 

Carolyn's Book Front Cover layout

 

Nearly two years ago at my  father’s funeral service, I looked around at all the preschoolers in our family and realized, though they’d been here this day, most of them wouldn’t remember their great grandfather and what was important to him. Family was topmost, but there was another significant interest in his life, as an individual, as a father and grandfather and farmer, and that was his care and concern for environment and his respect for what trees mean to us. They provide fruit, shade, they hold the soil together and they put oxygen into the air we breathe.  And they’re beautiful to look at when they’re full of blossoms in spring and as the leaves open. I love to watch that process too.

As a young boy, he’d climbed many of the trees on his parents’ farm—the farm that he would manage one day with our mother. There are more stories than I can share here in one post, but one I will share. When one of our black walnut trees was struck by lightning, it had to be cut down. Using his skills and tools, he used wood from that tree and lined a space in the kitchen wall as a china cabinet for some of Mom’s special plates and dishes and anything else worthy of showing off. That space is still there though the farm has been sold.

Back to the funeral day and my thoughts. That following week, I began to write a story for those small children. I didn’t know how it would evolve, but it did. It went through many versions and I submitted it to my critique groups, both the Revision group online with The Word Guild and my face-to-face group. I received so much helpful guidance for my revision. I named the book after my Dad and called it Harry’s Trees.

When my story neared completion, I got in touch with a young woman I’d met at a writer’s event. She was a trained artist and she was definitely interested in illustrating my book. The process took several months. In early January 2017, I had a book to distribute to my family. Then, of course, several friends who saw it wanted one too, and cousins and people outside that circle too.

With great thought, I decided to put out a general market version. The story and the art are the same, but the dedication is slightly different. and I had some help with the packaging by Angel Hope Publishing in Drayton, Ontario. In this version, my artist and I would be featured on the back cover, as on any picture book.

I had help promoting it by a journalist, Helen Lammers-Helps who wrote about it in Ontario Farmer and Oxford Review. But also the Tavistock Gazette, our hometown weekly editor who got first chance at spreading the news.

In June, when I received that shipment of books, I thought my heart would burst with happiness. (The first order was emotional.) There also rested some recognition of my father and respect for what he had taught us, and many memories. And a bit more grief too. But it was good grief and honouring.

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As of this month, three plant nurseries in Waterloo Region have welcomed my promotional efforts of Harry’s Trees in their location and willing to host a book signing there. I’ll be at Sheridan Nursery, Kitchener location, this Saturday, April 28th, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Two more events will follow on Saturday, May 5th and Saturday, May 12th and I hope several more. For spring is a time of growth and renewal.

My book was also a feature of Earth Day events at Sheridan Kitchener this past weekend. My friend Judy read the book as part of those events since I was already committed elsewhere.

So, Dad, if you’re checking on us, know that what you taught us has had great effect and  is going out to many other readers beyond your family. In your humble way, you would not have asked for recognition, but it’s there all the same.

 

 

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April 25, 2018 at 12:26 am Leave a comment

Write Canada 2016

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Linda Hall, Indie publishing

Next week is Write Canada in Toronto. The committee has been working for months to get it organized and the registrar’s been busy too.

Instead of the intensive like last year, I’ll offering a two-part workshop on writing Creative Nonfiction and another on what you can do Before the Editor Steps In (not the one on your shoulder that taunts you about your writing, but the one who helps get your work ready for publication).

As far as I know registration is still open. Sign up for Professional Day, Saturday, or the whole conference, here.

Looking forward to it and hope you can join us.

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Steve Bell performing at the 2015 Awards gala

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Fern and Ruth share a table at one of the workshop sessions

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NJ Lindquist, ready for gala

CN Intensive Class with CW and SBN

Members of the Creative Nonfiction Intensive group last year with my co-leader, Stephanie (left)

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Sharing photos at gala, l. to r.: Donna Mann, me and Sara Davison

 

 

photos by C. Wilker and others at 2015 conference

June 17, 2016 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Why hospice is a good thing

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VON Sakura House Hospice

Sakura (‘SAH-ku-ra’ or ‘sah-KUH-ra’), the Japanese word for cherry blossom…The cherry blossom reminds us of the fragility and impermanence of life and seemed the perfect symbol for our hospice.

It’s just two weeks, as I write this, that we said our goodbyes to our father. Still emotional, but so very grateful to have had our father for 90 years, a kind and  gentle man who both protected us and loved us. Who made time for us in his chosen life as a farmer. Together, he and our mother took good care of us.

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We are also grateful to the   doctors, nursing staff and volunteers for the wonderful care Dad (Harold) received in his time there. And to them, this blog post is dedicated.

Early in Dad’s stay, when the snow was mostly gone—making travel back and forth much easier—I resolved that I would eventually promote the facility on my blog, and so I took photos of the place.

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Dining area where we could sit awhile, eat and just have tea, coffee and a conversation, if we wished. We also had a game of Mexican Train one afternoon while Dad slept.

 

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My niece with Lois, a regular volunteer, whom we came to know, next to the kitchen area. We could often smell the wonderful aromas down the halls emanating from fresh baking. There were usually fresh cookies and sometimes tarts too.

 

As the weeks went on, we saw the blossoms come out on the trees around the building, the birds that stopped at the feeders, and Dad was able to look out from his bed and see the outdoors. When nursing staff wheeled his bed to the sunroom, he could look out over the fields and see signs of spring and people on tractors getting the soil ready for crops as he had done for so many years himself.

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The sunroom where patients could be wheeled for a change of scenery

 

From his bed in his own room, Dad could turn on the large screen television and keep in touch with what was going on in the outside world, including the US primaries where we joked about a certain candidate who will not be named here. We also played and replayed family slide shows and videos, including from a family wedding, and one evening we used Skype to connect with Mom and Dad’s friends and family members in Kapuskasing, Ontario.

 

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One of the lounge areas for families to sit and take a break

We had much time for conversation, allowing our patient to rest when his eyes became heavy. We even had a jigsaw puzzle set up for awhile in his room, knowing there was another one set up in the common area for anyone to work on. And we did that too.

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Coffee and tea ready where we could help ourselves, and offer a donation for it

 

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Room with a view and a  baby grand piano that I played sometimes. A bell choir rehearsed here and a fellow who had played for a musical group for years came to play the piano.

 

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An entertainment room to watch a movie, or nap, and toys for small children to play with. Small children were welcome there and our three grandchildren were among them.

We spent many hours in the hospice, visiting and later sitting with Dad when he slept more than he was awake. It was comforting to know that such wonderful caring people worked and volunteered around him—including staff who were well fitted to this kind of nursing who treated patients with dignity and respect. One of the nursing staff called my father “Dude” in a most kind way. They made room for us too and answered our questions when we had them.

 

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In that place there’s also a library, filled with many books for pleasurable reading and resource material on grief. [And for those who wish to have help with getting through grief, the volunteers can help  you connect with a group. They are also trained.]

 

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On those shelves, alongside Chicken Soup for the Soul books and others, is a copy of Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon, by Canadian authors (ed, NJ Lindquist). The theme is “Finding Love in Unexpected Places.” I was privileged to have a story published in that book.

I felt this was a perfect place for such short stories, because we did find love and caring there. I hope that readers will find hope within those pages as well as in that place, even at the end of a loved one’s life. It may be that a person will read stories of hope to patients, or that it may be of  comfort to family members who sit at the bedside of a father, mother, wife or grandparent.

Thus I say thank you to doctors, nursing staff and all the volunteers who made our time there with Dad such a blessing. If Dad could say thank you now, I know that he would do it. Thank you also to  nursing staff who came to Dad`s visitation to say a more formal good-bye. You know who you are.

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photos © C. Wilker

 

 

May 26, 2016 at 4:24 pm 2 comments

Dreaming of spring but living in the now

We can well dream of the season ahead when plant life begins to poke its head above the soil and the sun warms them and helps them grow, yet we must live in the now and not in dreamland. For as Janice L Dick says in her post today, then we have material to write about. She wrote:

“No matter who we are, we will experience uneven roads on our respective journeys. Writing is living out our thoughts, dreams, fears..

 

 

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some of the gaillardia from my garden last year

 

Canadian Networker Fall Business Expo photo courtesy of KW Snap 2015

March 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Turning us upside down

Gayleen and Frank, 25th anniversary - Copy

Two years ago today, we were preparing to attend the funeral of my childhood friend, Gayleen. Since then, I’ve endured the loss of friends— Kathy, Susan and Pat— this year, and others, and of course, Samantha, who died much too soon at the age of 16 years old. Today I dedicate this blog post to anyone who has lost a family member or friend in the past year, because I know I am not alone.

Turning me upside down

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Life is a strange thing. Just when we think we’ve got things sorted out and life is ‘humming along,’ there comes a change. A boss says, “We don’t need you anymore” or a change in economic times makes us reconsider our spending, and even where we live. Along with that sorting and packing up of our belongings come feelings of bewilderment and sometimes anger and a lot of sadness.

Big events change things and force us to make new decisions that we might not have made otherwise, such as when a tornado turned the barn on our family farm into a shambles of wood and cement and broken beams. We were fortunate that no one was in the barn at the time and that the animals were in the field that August day when the storm passed through. It was clear that the barn had to come down afterwards for safety reasons, but my parents had to decide what to do next for their farming operations.

There was no death on account of the tornado, but there was some trauma for the house got a good shaking too. Everything my parents had worked for had changed. If there were any blessings, it was the way people in the community worked together to help out those affected by the storm.

Grief, as a part of life, is even stranger. We get settled into a lifestyle, while knowing we won’t have forever, but someone close to us dies and it sets everything we know on end. Time is marked ‘before’ and ‘after’ the event. Before the tornado, before the cancer diagnosis, before the accident… and after.

When friends offer their condolences or bring a meal for a family upended without their beloved, those are difficult times, but healing begins with those comforting hugs and help.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, named the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What was once was believed to be an orderly pattern, people soon learned that there’s a back and forth, not necessarily in that order. Still it’s helpful to know what feelings are part of the terrain.

I don’t pretend to know how it feels to experience the death of a child or spouse, but I do know it in relation to the death of a good friend or close relative outside my single family unit. There’s an empty place where that person once was, and even when we know the person has believed in God, and whom we presume to have gone to their heavenly home, there’s the ache that’s left—an emptiness.

In a conversation with a fellow church member this past year after yet another death of a friend, I said, “We’re never ready.” She was quick to agree and cited two examples from that very week, one of them being Samantha, who at 16 had already shown much promise.

We cry ‘too soon’ or ‘it’s not fair.’ We may plead and bargain, but this is our new reality and our life is thrown out of its routine by something so large that’s beyond us.

Society, at least in North America for the most part, would have us rush back into living, to try to forget our trauma, to keep busy and move on. While there is a comfort to routine, even that has been upset, whether in job loss, tornado’s destruction or the death of someone close. The grief moves with us. Ross says:

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

Christians believe that the person, loved by God and accepted as his child, will go to that perfect home where there are no more tears and where Jesus wipes away those tears. Hard as it is to go on without the beloved, we believe that Jesus walks with us through that grief and that if we’re crying, it’s quite likely he sheds tears with us as he did for his friend Lazarus.

This may not be overly theological, but I’d like to think of Jesus as having one very large handkerchief that he uses to wipe away our tears, as well as a big warm hug to help us along the way. He`s gone to prepare a place for us, a place where there will be no more tears.

The ‘hanky,’ as my grandmother would have called it, may very well belong to a friend and the hug from those around us, in his stead. And I might ask, as I did in this part of a poem I wrote this fall for another storyteller whose grandson died in October:

 

“Is that handkerchief big enough

for our tears too?

for Mom’s, Dad’s, Grandma’s and Grandpa’s

my tears

and those of all our friends?”
May you be comforted this day by someone’s love and not be afraid to call on God for his love and peace as you grieve.

 

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a bouquet for you today

January 31, 2016 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

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