Friday, February 22, 2019

Book review in Compulsive Reader

My review of Kick Kennedy's Secret Diary, by Susan Braudy, and The Kennedy Debutante, by Kerri Maher, was published in Compulsive Reader. The link is below.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Grace in Love at the Miller's Oven

 On Wednesday, February 13th, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.,
 I'll be at the Miller's Oven restaurant in Manotick
 with copies of my novel,Grace in Love,
 the ideal gift for St. Valentine's Day.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

On being acknowledged

Recently I received a lot of positive reaction from several sources on my novel, Grace in Love.  It’s a delight to have one’s accomplishments acknowledged, something that doesn’t happen all that often in adult life. Sometimes in life we are fortunate in being part of a circle “where everybody knows your name and everybody’s glad you came,” to quote the theme song from Cheers. If you are part of one, cherish it.

As a teacher, both of children and of adults, I tried to remember to praise people for what they did well. In writing classes especially I pointed out excellent aspects of participants’ stories and poems so that the authors would know what worked well, and repeat it in other projects.

Writers come to realize over the years that their work will be criticized and grow a thick skin. Instead of depending on others’ praise, we learn  to congratulate ourselves when we’ve brought all our skill and talent into play and executed something well.

Why do some people - our colleagues, our friends, some relatives - deny us acknowledgement and recognition for our successes. Well, when I was growing up, it was bad to be “struck on oneself”. Too much recognition might spoil a child, the thinking went; children might imagine that they could do no wrong and that the world would always applaud them. At some point the child would have a rude awakening, so it was best to teach him or her some humility. That kind of parental thinking seems to have faded away in favour of raising children to have high self-esteem. Those who were deprived of acknowledgement as children may not like praising others'  achievements because they long to be the chosen one.

Some people are stingy with praise because it feels to them like admitting that they themselves are lacking. Others, and we’ve all met them, have to put others down to feel good about themselves. Beware of them. Run far and run fast!  That sort of thing doesn't make a better world.

Sometimes we look for praise in areas that others take for granted. It's certainly all right to ask for praise,  because too often drudgery on behalf of others is taken for granted and it's good to point out the contribution you make. That can be carried to extremes, though. I remember many years ago an adult who drew my attention to the kitchen sink and accusing me of never noticing when it had been cleaned. I  should have said, "Oh, it's lovely! So shiny!" Instead, I remarked that sink-cleaning was part of housekeeping and that I'd never expected a medal for doing it.

Others may not praise your successes because your area of endeavour is utterly foreign to them; they don’t understand why it’s important and think you’re fiddling away your time. Instead of talking to them about my interests and achievements I just don't bother, but don't bother to make time to hear about theirs either.  At the same time, I try to be interested in and aware of a lot of things in life. I have no interest in hockey, for instance, but on my grandniece’s tenth birthday, I went to an arena for the first time in half a century to watch her play, and after the game I congratulated her on playing well. I still have zero interest in hockey but I want her to grow up healthy, to show initiative and to enjoy games, so I said, “You were great!” and meant it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Grace in Love at the Book Chat

On Monday December 10th my novel, Grace in Love (Ottawa, Baico, 2918) was the book under discussion by the book chat group at the Emerald Plaza Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.  It's an honour to have one's book chosen, and I was happy to see that everyone present was interested in this novel about Grace Woodsworth MacInnis. The participants asked insightful questions and made perceptive comments. With fourteen present, the library may soon have to find us a bigger room to meet in.  The whole experience was a great Christmas present.

One of the participants emailed me the following:

Hi Ruth,
What a delightful session this afternoon! I really appreciated how you conducted the meeting. I enjoyed learning the background of your interest in Grace and seeing actual pictures of her and others in the family.  The novel was a fun way to learn history of Europe and Canada in the late 20s / early 30s. The book and your presentation certainly stimulated lots of interesting discussion.

 I look forward to your next novel!

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Way We Were

On December 4th, 2018, Roger and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. This poem by Anne Bradstreet expresses my feelings.

To My Dear and Loving Husband

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay; 
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

My review of Clock Dance

My review of Anne Tyler's new novel, Clock Dance, appears in the current issue of the online magazine, Compulsive Reader.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

OPL Short Story Contest winners' picture

Eight co-winners of the 2018 Ottawa Public Library 50 Plus Short Story Contests read their entries at the Good
 Companions Centre on Tuesday September 25, 2018

I'm in the front row, first one on the viewers' left.

For the names of the other winners, please visit the Ottawa Public Library website.