Connie and Lily’s Book Club

My book, Gifts of the Crysnix, is for people with big imaginations and big hearts. It is for people who feel compelled to root for a fallen champion and feel compassion for a lost soul. One who is in search for greater ideals and who is always willing to learn more about themself and be a better person can identify with the life-lessons that are gently persuaded from the pages.

When I wrote the book I targeted the message to young people at the brink of adulthood. I thought that reading a book with new heroes who are just trying to figure out the labyrinth of life would appeal to them. Although I have appreciated positive kudos from all ages, I had the immense pleasure of meeting six young ladies who I really wrote the book for. I was the guest author at a mother/daughter book club and got to meet my target audience up close and personal.

 

I have to admit, I was a little nervous because it was the first time I would have honest feedback from several people at once. You just never know how something like that will turn out! The girls were very organized with their questions and critiques. Exploring the origins of my inspiration and the depths of my research, we had a lively and spirited discussion. I was so impressed by the maturity of these 11-year-old girls and the intelligence of their questions and comments. All in all, the book passed with flying colours and I didn’t have to slink out of the room with my tail between my legs.

My young target audience is a group of people with literally the weight of the world on their shoulders. They are our leaders of tomorrow and they have a lot on their plates. I appreciate the steep learning curve they are on. The primary reason why I wrote the book is to remind the reader to fight the fear that holds them back, to advocate their moral compass and to realize that by just being your true self is enough to gain respect. I dreamed up the Crysnix to personify our inner voice. We all have to listen to it because somehow it knows the future and is always right.

If I can share a little wisdom to our future leaders, it is to trust our instincts, believe in ourselves and dig deep to create and live our best lives. These are heavy lessons and I used a beautiful world of fantasy and imagery to get the point across.

 

Thank you to Connie and Lily for an evening I will never forget. Thank you to all the girls and moms who were there that night. I absolutely loved the interaction! It was a real thrill for me to sign the books to the girls after they read it with them exclaiming to each other in the background about how much they loved it!

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What a treat for an author. For all those countless hours I spent conjuring up the story alone in front of my computer with only my imagination and hope for company, this night was a wish come true.

To see a video of me reading the Prologue set to the beautiful music of Thomas Newman, please click here

 

My New Fan

The students file into the library and I smile at the eager faces. I am at my old neighbourhood school and I marvel at how time has passed so quickly since my kids were attending Robert H. Smith School.

The familiar brick walls and corridors call out to my memories of when I was one of the moms who was a permanent fixture, helping out when and wherever I could just to get a glimpse of my kids during their school day.

This is from the letter I sent to the principal, to introduce myself:

I grew up in River Heights and brought up my family there. My three children went through Robert H. Smith in the ’80’s and I was very involved with the school. At the time, I had a video production company and I created a video about the building of the new school and the historic accolades of the original. It was a great fundraising project but also became a testament to the legacy of the presence of the school in the community.

Although I now live in Calgary, my son still lives in River Heights. When I visit him, I love how the memories flood in as I drive by the school. Memories of a very happy time in my life as I raised my young children as part of a loving and thriving community.

My book, “Gifts of the Crysnix”, is about a small community and the people trying to live with purpose. It is about choices and making the right ones to better their lives. Targeted to your middle-grade students, it promotes the message that they have tremendous power over their lives

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by trusting their instincts and believing in themselves. This is the gist of my presentation to them. I will talk about life choices, the science behind a wish and also the components of creating a good story. 

My presentation went well and I was thrilled to have the kids line up to buy the book. There were so many, I was struggling to come up with original notes to write alongside my signature!

As I was leaving, I realized I didn’t have a picture of the school. The children were all streaming out of the school, on their way home for the day. I asked one of the boys who bought my book if he would mind taking a picture of me. I asked his name and Daniel smiled and took this great picture of me. IMG_2001Thanks, Daniel!

I was loading my things into my car as Daniel and his mom came running up to me. Daniel’s mom asked if she could take a picture of Daniel and me. I was so touched.

After, as he was running back to his mom’s car, Daniel called out to me, “I’m your new fan!”

Wow, what a high point of the day! When I think of the years it took me to have the guts to publish this book, I wonder – honestly, why did it take me so long?

Old School

With a couple of weeks to go before school lets out for the summer, the students at Balmoral Hall School must have thought I was crazy when I exclaimed how GREAT it was to be back!IMG_2012

But, really, it was.

I began in Kindergarten and left in Grade 7. The memories are rich and textured and, although the school has changed quite a bit with brilliant new wings and lofty ceilings,

 

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the exterior of the old school is still there and the memories are visceral as I remember how it felt to push out the heavy doors and run down the stairs to the playground.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2007 I was struck by the feeling of belonging as I noticed the beautiful, bronze plaque from a capital campaign years ago, and chuckled at my name engraved on it. I felt proud of the connection

 

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My presentation in the beautiful Sifton Theatre Auditorium went off without a hitch as I reminded the girls to believe in themselves and to fight the fear that holds them back from living their best lives.

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After, I really enjoyed meeting the girls and hearing their DSC00675.JPGdreams of being a writer. There was zero doubt in my mind they would go places and have a significant impact on the world.

DSC00674It was an honour to put a note in a beautiful writing journal.

 

 

 

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I stood under the pictures of the Head Mistresses who were there so many years ago with me. There have been five more Heads of School since and I felt like I entered a time warp.

There is nothing left of the old senior school as I signed in at the new entrance. Complete with a buzz-in system and guard at the front, I wondered, what has the world has come to? as I clipped on my visitor tag.

 

Gone are the days when I used my crutches with my broken leg in Grade 1 and won at “Mother, My I?” under the glass passage. The old swing sets are gone and with them the original and all engrossing pastime of swing tag. The kilts are still there, though, and the prefects and Closing Exercises, and I am convinced the facilities, ethics and dedication toward our leaders of tomorrow are new and improved.

As I walked to my car, I glanced at the old Junior School. Still the tindlestone brick and the many windows we all looked out of, almost every day of our formative years. I paused and looked at one window in particular and a hilarious memory flooded in of when a schoolmate climbed out of it, causing quite a stir as she inched along the outside of the building and climbed in the next one. I remember telling my mom about it and she just laughed along with me. She was definitely NOT old school.

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Many thanks to Balmoral Hall for the warm welcome and the warmest of new memories. There is something definitely intriguing about going back … to the place of your foundation and the seat of your ideals and values and friendships and aspirations … to your old school.

Reviews with a personal touch.

I knew that when I finally published my book, Gifts of the Crysnix, I would be “putting myself out there”, leaving myself open to criticism (both good and bad) and becoming vulnerable to sharing my life with the masses. Being a very private person, I think that is the reason it took me so long to pull the trigger, so to speak.

I took so many years, in fact, I began to ask myself if I would live to regret not publishing it at all? My answer was, YES, and so I steeled myself as I went about answering the promotional questions my publicist put to me with honesty, candor, and the silent hope that I was doing the right thing. Although it went against my core of being happy to stay under the radar, I realised that I would never be able to reach my potential readers and share my message if I didn’t just suck it up and go for it.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the tremendous, positive response and support I have received from friends, strangers and (wow?!) the reviewers. Below are a couple of reviews I have received recently.

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I am so touched that someone took the time to snap a couple of pictures of my book in their home – on a table and in the hands of a reader who is my target audience. My heart swelled to see that picture! My book … there in the hands of a young woman comfortably settling in for a good read …

Thank you so much to the gals at GROOVINMOMS for the time and effort they put into the review.

Here it is:

GROOVINMOMS review

 

The second review reveals some personal points from my past that are tender issues. After I lost both of my parents, I grew into womanhood feeling that no one had my back. I had to figure out life on my own. The life lessons I learned are some of the ones I wrote the book around. They are the reason why I wrote it. If I can help a young person figure out life a little by reading Gifts of the Crysnix, then I will have had their back. It means everything to me.

Many thanks to the people at Mystic Living Today, an e-zine about our mystic life. They wrote a very sensitive article about my book and me.

Have a look:

The Gift of Life Lessons

The Crysnix made a visit to Webber Academy!

Heading out the door, early Monday morning last week, I drove alongside school buses, kids with loaded backpacks and moms holding hands of little ones while walking through the green light traffic. I was headed to school too and loved the early morning anticipation.

I was going to Webber Academy, one of Calgary’s leading private schools. Lucky me! I knew I was in for a treat.

Nerves started to set in as I thought about the presentation I was about to give to 154 eager-eyed middle-grade students. Would the timing work? Would the message work? Would the projector work? Would my voice work?

Then I thought of the opportunity to look into the faces of the people I wrote Gifts of the Crysnix for and connect with each of them! My nerves disappeared as my excitement grew. As I pulled into the parking lot I couldn’t wait to get started.

The library is a huge, beautiful space with soaring windows and lofty heights, comfortable sitting areas and thousands of books! Smiling faces of greeting staff welcomed me as we set up.

The students were wonderful. I saw three groups and each was attentive, polite and really fun to discuss the book with. Their questions were bright and one stumped me when I was asked which character was most like myself! Had never thought about that angle before – but after some consideration, I realized that all the characters had a bit of me in them.

I handed out bookmarks with a wish candle attached to them. Homework that night included lighting the candle at the dinner table and have all the family members make a wish to blow into the universe!

I hope all the wishes come true. Maybe a Crysnix was watching?

 

The Calgary Book Launch

 

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This week I had my first Calgary launch party at Self Connection Books. The store has a private event room and the facilities to webcast so I was able to connect with my readers in person and through the web. It was so cool to know I was reading to people across the United States and Canada.

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Of course, I made too much food but I had to provide a feast! I printed out excerpts from a couple of feasts from the book and displayed them on the tables along with the food.

 

 

And who could forget the purple frosted sparkly cupcakes and the shortbread cookies with the fancy purple “C” from the cover? Ok, I get a little crazy when there is a chance to decorate with icing as my friends and family can attest …

 

The day was really fun and, as always, it is such a treat for me to share bits and pieces from the book. For my reading, I chose the scene where Princess Amethyst is interpreting the Laws of Light in her Volare Solus ceremony.

As I began, Princess Amethyst took the podium and cleared her throat… I smiled to myself and read on.

The reading began on page 180 and included the first five Laws:

‘know thyself’

‘be a vessel of harmony’

‘live in a state of gratitude’

‘leave the world in a better state’

‘never forget our purpose’

During the Volare Solus, which is a coming of age ceremony, the young adult Crysnix demonstrates his or her maturity by not only reciting all the Laws, but offering a personal interpretation of them.

How would you explain them apply them to your life?

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Thanks so much to everyone who joined us in person and through the webcast. I really appreciate your ongoing support.