Warning … This blog post has COOTIES!!

No, not really. Please have no fear of catching anything deadly and do read on …

Remember when we were standing around in a group of friends in the school yard before school began at 9 a.m. or during recess? There was always that one girl or boy we shunned, using the excuse that they had COOTIES and we would all catch cooties, too, if we associated with them in any way.

Now, we knew these kids, our peers and fellow classmates, were not actually carrying a communicable disease, but the thought that they might gave us all an excuse for excluding them from our circle. (And I admit I was also one of those who shivered at the thought of catching cooties, although later I did become friends with at least one of those girls who had been thus named as a Cootie Bearer. And I’m pretty sure I never caught cooties from her.)

I look back on that time now and realize many schoolkids never left that school yard, and the bullying that went on there. Because declaring someone had cooties and shunning them from our little society really was a form of bullying, of excluding someone from the group just because they were different in some way from the rest of us … or, worse, because just one of those kids in the group had decided they didn’t like the kid and got the rest of us to go along with saying it was simply because that kid had cooties.

But, unfortunately, this is still happening every day, but now with the difference being that those school yard bullies have gone on to become influential leaders in our society who continue to call people names, who group their “enemies” into undesirable factions (simply because those perceived enemies disagree with the leaders or voice an opposing opinion), who use “name calling” as a method of demeaning, objectifying, vilifying, and actually ostracizing those people from the mainstream – which ultimately makes the bully look better in the eyes of his/her followers, those “sheeple” who never question, but support and laugh at all the jokes – and the names – the leader comes up with to deflate any opposition. Without any thought as to what they are actually agreeing with or justifying through their compliance.

WITHOUT ACTUALLY THINKING.

I want to emphasize this point because, while the bully or leader has come up with all these “nasty” names and encouraged others to join in on the bullying, it’s those followers who blindly follow, who parrot what they’ve been told to believe, and who never question what is being said or the validity of the names these “others” are being called – names that very conveniently dehumanize entire groups of people, simply because they “think” differently – who ultimately give the bully permission to continue bullying, who make that bully feel as though the name calling and ostracizing is valid and welcome by the majority.

I don’t know when it was during primary school that I stopped following the others and became friends with the cootie-ridden. That decision likely had something to do with my mother. As a young child, she and her parents emigrated from Belgium after the first World War, and my mother always set the example in our house of being accepting of everyone, no matter what their background. Plus, we spent every summer at the cottage north of Toronto, and far away from my classmates. Often, when returning to school in September, my circle of friends would change as families moved away from the neighbourhood or former friends changed allegiances during those summer months I was away. So it was never a conscious decision on my part to stop following the school yard bullies. I wish now I could say it had been, but during the early 60s we didn’t know what bullying was and, while many were victims of bullying at the time, society had not yet put a name to it or realized the problem of it. Bullying was just a part of growing up. At that time.

Now we know though that bullies are a bad influence on a “civilized” society, and that they should be stopped in their tracks. We cannot allow them to dictate – through their damaging words – what the rest of us should think, or that the rest of us may actually be wrong because we don’t think the way the bully thinks. And the best way I know to stop them is to stop repeating verbatim what they say, stop calling others by those names the bullies use, stop grouping people into presumed enemies, and start looking at everyone as individuals who have just as much right to their Considered and Thoughtful opinions as everyone else. (I have written previously about deflating bullies here: Let’s Bully the Bullies!)

After all, bullies are just seeking power and control ( or “ratings”) – but they can’t get all of that without our permission. Even passing legislation or ordering that others give them that power and control can only last as long as we all give them permission to do so. Once people … individuals, see the bullies for what they are, and start calling them by the name of “Bully”, and stop following them, and begin thinking for themselves, we might actually begin to move towards a civilized and inclusive society/world in which everyone feels they play an important part and are welcoming of each other – and are not afraid of catching cooties …

I should mention that it has not gone unnoticed by me that I’m suggesting we use the bullies’ own tactics and call them by a name, group them as a group, and attempt to dehumanize them as they have done to everyone who opposes them. But perhaps fighting fire with fire is the only way they will ever understand that what they’ve been doing all along is wrong.

(I also realize that I’m likely just preaching to the choir here, but my hope is that the choir will sing out loudly and further share my message so that others, those who are not so like-minded, may see my message and at least give it some thought.)

And, finally, I’m going back to the 70s now, to a great speech from a movie of that time that needs to be replayed for everyone to watch and consider. What Peter Finch’s character, Howard Beale, says here still rings remarkably, even chillingly, true today, more than 40 years later …

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What is it good for …

I’m reblogging this post by another author whose work I admire, Kevin Brennan, because he is also standing up and speaking the truth. And I agree with what Kevin says here 100%.

WHAT THE HELL

My wife and I have been watching the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick PBS series on Vietnam, reliving the grim. Every episode sits in my belly like a spiked ball, forcing me to recall and regret (on behalf of our country) the errors that contributed to that nightmare.

Fortunately for me I was too young to be drafted when the war still involved Americans. In fact, South Vietnam fell in ’75 shortly after I turned eighteen. I had dutifully tried to get the forms from the high school office to register for the draft (dragged there by some other guy), but the lady behind the counter said, “Oh, aren’t you guys adorable. No, you don’t have to do that anymore. It’s all over and done with, the draft.”

I’d been a peacenik all through high school, putting together numerous special projects about the peace movement and how come we can’t all just…

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Let’s Talk About Taking a Knee

An excellent blog post from Tim Baker, and I agree with him 100%!

blindoggbooks

One thing I’ve never been accused of is shying away from an argument – and judging by my six siblings (four brothers and two sisters) it’s a family trait.

However, I got some advice from a fellow author a few years back about engaging in hot-button arguments on social media. His tip was simple, and it made perfect sense…

To paraphrase; If you argue something really controversial you run the risk of alienating potential readers.

This was (is) good advice for an author trying really hard to increase his fan base – so I heeded his advice. Regardless of the topic (and let’s face it…there have been some whoppers on social media in the past few years) I kept my distance. I posted cute pictures of puppies, funny memes, useless trivia and the occasional “save the shark” comment – but I steered clear of the big three – religion, sex…

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Author Spotlight: Susan Toy

I paid another visit to Amy Reade’s blog, Reade and Write! Thanks to Amy for interviewing me!

Reade and Write

Waaay back in April, 2015, I hosted a guest blog by Susan M. Toy, a multi-published and talented writer (if you’d like to read the post, you can find it here).

Susan is back today, this time answering my questions about her writing and her lifestyle, which consists of dividing her time between Canada and the Island of Bequia, which is a Caribbean island and part of the Grenadines (pronounced “Bek-way”). Susan is the author of Islands in the Clouds: A Bequia Perspectives Novel 1; One Woman’s Island: A Bequia Perspectives Novel 2; and That Last Summer: An IslandShorts ebook.

Welcome, Susan!

I know I’m not the only person who’s envious of your lifestyle- dividing your time between your home in Canada and your home in Bequia. I’d never heard of Bequia before I started reading your blog. Tell me about the first time you visited the island.

The first…

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Reading Is My Superpower!

Since I’ve been back in Canada, spending the summer months at my trailer, now aptly named, “Another Page” …
I’ve been borrowing print books like mad from the Bruce County Public Library, specifically at the Kincardine and Lucknow Branches, which happen to be almost equidistant in driving time from the trailer park.

And … WOW!! What a summer it’s been, catching up on books that were not available as eBooks or that I otherwise might have had to wait a long time to borrow as eBooks. I’ve also caught up on watching movies too as the system has a terrific selection of DVDs in their collection. It’s been a busy summer, driving back and forth, picking up holds and taking back materials I’ve read/watched. I’ve been into both branches so often and borrowed so much that the librarians all seem to know me by name now (and one told me yesterday that they will miss me after Oct. 1st when I leave the park for the winter). I’m starting to feel like Norm in the TV series, Cheers!

Or an addict surrounded by a group of happy pushers. Hmmm.

But all of this has now made me realize that …

READING IS MY SUPERPOWER!!

(Even though I always secretly wanted to be Wonder Woman)

In fact, I wish I had been able to figure out a way to become a PROFESSIONAL READER – and be paid for all the reading I have done in my life. That would have been cool … (As it was, I was a bookseller and a publishers’ sales rep, and was paid to SELL books, not to read them. I actually didn’t have much time to read those books I was selling. I wish I’d been given time during my days of being paid and was sent off to read those books I was selling. I would have been even more effective than I was at convincing customers, booksellers and librarians to buy those books. I was always very convincing when promoting a book I had enjoyed …)

At the beginning of the summer I made a concerted effort to research, source, and track down as many books as I could that I wanted to read, both new releases and those by favourite authors, and used the library’s handy “My Lists” section on their website to create my own list of book and DVD titles I was hoping to borrow. I also went through a hefty “Want-To-Read” list I had compiled on the Goodreads site over the years I’ve been a member and discovered many of those books were available in print from Bruce County, so on to the lists they went!

The other thing that happened was I promoted a book on my Reading Recommendations blog by Margaret Mackey titled, One Child Reading: My Auto-Bibliography. This reminded me that I, long ago, had the idea to write a series of blog posts, On Reading, in which I compile information on Who reads – and How, What, When, Where and Why they read. So I decided, while I had access to a great print selection of books on the topic of reading, that I would borrow even more books and do the necessary research for this series I’ve been meaning to write.

It was like a Perfect Storm for anyone who loves books and reading as much as I do!

So, I’ve been thinking about that PROFESSIONAL READER job, and figured that … just as libraries and other organizations designate, and often pay a stipend to, a writer-in-residence, maybe it’s time to consider creating a Reader-in-Residency Programme – in which someone who reads a lot of books (as I do) and can review and recommend those books to other readers is given office space and the opportunity to set up a reading programme for anyone interested in learning about available books. (I actually had this idea when I promoted Shaun Hunter’s blog and her efforts to gather up all the reading material she could that was set in or about the city of Calgary. I think Shaun would be a terrific Reader-in-Residence for the city to hire – especially a city like Calgary where the current mayor, Naheed Nenshi, reads a lot of books himself and publicly promotes reading and the Calgary Public Library.)

So, what do you say, folks? I figure that anyone who encourages others to read, and to read well and a lot, should be designated a SUPER HERO! I am willing to continue reading and recommending books for no payment at all, but … Should anyone ever be in need of a person who possesses the Superpower of Reading, then I’m your Reader, and I’m available!

Just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?

This post is an introduction to the series, “On Reading”, which you will be able to follow on this blog page.
The series is dedicated to the memory of a great reader and blogger, roughseasinthemed.

roughseasinthemed becalmed …

It’s been more than a week now since I heard the very sad news that a blogger I had come to know over the past few years and whom I highly respected had died. I’m still gobsmacked by this loss … (although I’m not entirely sure that the editor in her would have approved of my use of the word “gobsmacked” here)

roughseasinthemed had been a huge support of authors and their books through her intelligent, informed and, at times, wickedly funny blog. Being a professional editor, journalist, and book reviewer, she did know a thing or three about good writing and, in meting out her criticism and praise, she was not shy to say when an author did not measure up to her exacting standards. But … if she did like your writing – and she only ever gave out 4 stars of a possible 5 – then you knew your work was top-notch! She gave my books, and a few others I recommended she read, 4 stars!

roughseas (as I always referred to her) became a great champion of my first novel early on when she mentioned on another blogger’s blog that she thought she might like to read it. (And she laughed when I mistakenly referred to her as roughseasintheMUD!) She really was attracted by, and liked, the cover design. I began reading and commenting on her blog after that and realized what a huge following of readers she had gathered there. (Her blog site is still available to be viewed, for now.) One of those followers, Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge, also became a reader and reviewer of my books, and a friend as well, and for that I am truly grateful.

Here are a couple of blog posts roughseas wrote about me and my books …
Views and reviews
Bequia? Where on earth is Bequia?
And her review on Goodreads …
One Woman’s Island

I’m so disappointed to not be able to share with roughseas the progress I’m making, albeit slowly, on the third novel in this series. And to have no further blog posts written by her to read and comment upon. She was interested in the series on reading I’ve been researching and preparing to post on my blog. I will be dedicating the series to roughseas, since she was such an exacting reader herself!

Kate, you are already sorely missed …

Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – One last fling with Fantastic Writers, Music and more FREE books from Susan Toy.

Here is Sally Cronin with the final day of the End of Summer Party celebrations on her blog, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life! And I have a giveaway going on over there, so please read through all of Sally’s blog post (leave a comment of congratulations there) then come back here to enter in the comment section on my blog. I’ll be choosing the winners on Sept. 1st. Once again, Happy Blog Anniversary, Sally! Thank you for all you do to promote everyone, especially for supporting and promoting me, and also for writing your own books!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

For some of you it is the last bank holiday of the summer and this is the last post in this three day festival. Yesterday my guests included D.G. Kaye, Tina Frisco, Janice Spina, Marjorie Mallon, Teagan Geneviene, The Story Reading Ape, Ali Isaac,Tess Karlinski and Brigid Gallagher.

Here is the link to the previous two days of posts

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/smorgasbord-end-of-summer-party-music-dancing-headliners-and-you-and-free-books/

And I filmed the proceedings yesterday and lovely to see so many up there on the dance floor.. thanks Nerd Fest UK for their speedy editing services

To start off us today is a request from Judith Barrow for a track from The Travelling Wilbury’s from their official Youtube channel… Judith has been a wonderful friend and motivator for both my blog and books and as the organiser of the  Narbeth Book Festival she is taking that support to a new level. https://judithbarrowblog.com/category/narberth-book-fair-2017/

Head off and check out all of…

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Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – Day Two – Three musketeers, The A Team and Free book

And here’s Day 2 of Sally Cronin’s End of Summer Party she’s holding over at her own blog, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life! If you read my blog, Reading Recommendations, you’ll also be meeting up with many familiar faces, and their books!, throughout this celebration …

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Thank you so much for joining the party on day two and hope you are not too exhausted. Yesterday I featured William Price King, Paul Andruss, with some of the very early visitors to the blog who are still an important part of my support today. There was some food from Robbie Cheadle to keep everyone going, some music from Status Quo,Queen and Bette Midler.. and a FREEbook.

My novel Just an Odd Job Girl is available in eBook – Mobi for Kindle and epub for all other devices. You just have to email and tell me which version – sally.cronin@moyhill.com.

I would love you to participate and if you have not already taken this short quiz and left your answers and links in the comments then now is your chance.

My experience with most of you reading this, is that you are very modest, and…

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Smorgasbord End of Summer Party – Music, Dancing, Headliners and You…and #Free books

Join Sally Cronin, and many other authors, as she celebrates the Smorgasbord End of Summer Party on her blog!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to three days of activities where I hope to introduce you to some headlining acts who have contributed and supported the blog since the early days in September 2013. These last four years have been such an adventure and I hope that it will continue for many years to come.

However, I have to say a huge thank you to everyone who has dropped in and left their mark on the blog. That interaction has motivated me to keep writing and to continue to build a book promotion site that helps other authors get their books noticed. With hundreds of thousands of new titles each week it is a challenge to grab the spotlight, but I hope that in some small way, I can help with that.

In September I will be increasing the number of opportunities to showcase your work with a new author interview series.. with a…

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No One Ever Died From Reading Too Much…

At least, not that I know. It’s a phrase I repeat to myself with each new book I begin reading. Just to put the amount of reading I do into perspective …

Last summer, someone who shall remain nameless and who does not really know me at all, told me that my problem is I read too much and need to find myself a new hobby. You can imagine how that made me feel. (In case you’re wondering, my snappy comeback was that I thought I wasn’t reading near enough as I could be reading … That was met with a blank stare.)

So, instead of heeding her suggestion, I began to read even more than I had up until then. My entire life has been about books and reading: studying them, selling them, representing them to bookstores and libraries, promoting them, and now even writing them myself.
It’s no surprise I prefer the company of books (and their authors and other readers) over someone like this “someone”. Actually, I believe this person figured I was being selfish of my time – I’ve been accused of this before – in choosing not to be sociable by joining the crowd for chit-chat, but instead sequestering myself away with my ever-growing reading list.

Or, perhaps it’s a case of me being too kind to this person, who has declared publicly that she never reads. Maybe the fact I spend so much of my time reading and am so very well-read makes her feel somewhat inadequate, because she chooses, for whatever reason, not to read books at all. So she blames me for making her look bad and I am responsible for her own failure to match up to me and what I choose to do with my own life.

Who knows.

This is all a long preamble to tell my blog readers I am changing tack and heading in a new direction in what I write about here.

READING will now become the focus, and I plan to write a series of posts on various aspects of the subject, both from my own perspective and that of other readers. My recent blog post, How to Help an Author received an incredible number (for me) of views, likes, shares, and reblogs – plus many comments, so I can see I’m heading in the right direction with this idea. (I’ve been trying to get this series going for a long time now … This time for sure, Rocky!)

I won’t be discussing any longer the issues of how to write, edit, get published, or promote books. I believe I’ve written myself out on those topics and there are plenty of old posts in the archives of this blog, in case anyone is still interested in reading what I’ve had to say. Besides, many other bloggers and websites continue to offer great advice. I’ll leave it up to them to tell you how it’s all done.

But I see little to no information on reading books – both from the perspective of readers and authors (who should always be readers as well, right?). I plan to cover the “Who, What, Where, When and Why”s of reading, as well as “How” we read. I hope readers of this blog will join in on the discussion and add their thoughts about their own reading habits.

I have a funny feeling that, rather than me seeming like an oddity for the number of books I “consume” as a matter of course in my life, I’m going to discover I am far from alone, and that many other readers approach reading in the same way I do …