Fundraiser Day

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Saturday dawned beautiful. Clouds painted white streaks high across the sky, a sky coloured a deep vibrant blue that we haven’t seen in awhile. People emptied out of their homes to soak up the warm sun and be refreshed by the breeze moving through their light jackets and sweaters. Some flocked to nurseries, others into their gardens, in a belated Victoria Day orgy of gardening. Some lounged in cafés, checking out the street action. And many were the street action: young couples holding hands, large groups ogling buildings usually closed to the public or learning about the city’s trees, families with hefty strollers and kids running around and very pregnant mamas. Meanwhile, the stores were quiet. Waves of people came into Marilyn’s, looked around, and left again. And in between the waves, all was quiet. Not too many shopped, for a good day outside means poor sales inside. Still, for the first time in my life I saw a serious shopper in action. Dedicated, single-minded, she tried on top after blouse after dress with no slowing down for what seemed like the whole afternoon, but I’m sure was only a couple of hours. Boyfriend finally got frazzled; she quit with only a medium-sized wardrobe of clothes. Impressive.

Not too many were that interested in the fundraising aspect of my book sale/signing at Marilyn’s on May 24th. As one lady told me, every time she turns around someone has their hand out for money. If not cancer, then heart and stroke, or the homeless. Those who bought, decided quickly; many looked interested but hemmed and hawed until they said they’d buy later. Apparently, my John Hancock isn’t all that valuable. Imagine! The biggest surprise for me is that everyone who stopped by my table at Marilyn’s were surprised that I was the author.

By the time I left, the defibrillator fund at Marilyn’s had begun. Marilyn is still stocking a few copies of Lifeliner for sale in her store at 200 Spadina Avenue, and $3.00 from every sale will continue to go towards the fund.


Fundraising for Heart and Stroke Foundation

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Marilyn Wetston, who mentioned me on her Sunday morning AM740 radio show, has invited me to sign books at her monthly Women for Women Event on Saturday, May 24th. I’ll be there from noon to 3:00 pm, signing books and, even more importantly, helping to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s AED mission: a portion of the sale of every copy of Lifeliner will go towards purchasing a defibrillator for the Spadina-Queen community.

In an effort to save lives, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has set up a program to place defibrillators in public places everywhere. A defibrillator is the small piece of equipment that is often the difference between a heart restarting or staying still after a heart attack. And timing in using a defibrillator is key in making the odds lean towards a restart. So many times we’ve heard a person has died for lack of a defibrillator nearby. Marilyn aims to change that in her community.

She has set her goal to raise $4,000 to purchase a defibrillator as part of the Foundation’s ReStart a Heart, Restart a Life AED program. The Foundation’s initial goal was to place 1,000 units across Ontario. As of May 2nd, they’ve doubled that goal, and I hope to surpass that goal just a little bit more, but like every little bit, a crucial bit.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, in Canada, about 40,000 people experience cardiac arrest each year; 7,000 cardiac arrests occur in Ontario alone.  The odds of survival for an out-of hospital cardiac arrest are approximately five per cent. With each passing minute, the probability of survival declines by seven-to-10 per cent.  Using an AED, combined with CPR within the first few minutes, can improve survival rates from five per cent to 50 per cent or more.”

So please come out to the Women for Women Event on May 24th, say hello, and help us reach Marilyn and the Foundation’s goal, help us save lives.


A Book Signing Précis

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The food was yummy! I was very good while at Mela Café, noshing on only two breaded-eggplant mini-baguette sandwiches, and of course, having a cappuccino; but once home with the few left-over sandwiches in hand, I quickly plunked myself down in front of the Rick Mercer Report and polished off Roberto’s addictive creations, while trying not to choke when watching Mercer’s antics. Felt like a total pig, but they were such a heavenly mix of crunchy breaded eggplant, soft bread, mild mozzarella, sweet tomato, and the fresh snap of basil that I couldn’t resist. Roberto, the wonderfully kind and talented chef/owner of Mela, also made pizza with sweet, thin slices of zucchini for the book signing attendees.

We got there early, giving ourselves plenty of time to get there. thinking the inevitable Shireen-book-signing snow storm would slow traffic down, but surprisingly it didn’t. Two men, who had found my event information on Facebook I believe, showed up first. Very chatty, took a couple of bookmarks, and promised to buy my book at the World’s Biggest Bookstore. Here’s to hoping they will. As one man who came into the café to buy a cup of tea said, after all the time it took me to get Lifeliner finished, there should be glasses of champagne raised all around. Alas, no sale with him either, but a bookmark he did take. A friend of my parents showed up in support, which really touched me, and she helped me not to notice the clock so much as she, my parents, and I talked about errant radioactive mice and the obesity gene.

Two ladies who came in later were very interested, after my mother nudged me to be more bold and approach them, and bought a copy. Alright! You see, they too had come in for Roberto’s flavourful coffee, not for the book signing. But they left with stomachs happy and book in hand. I finished the late afternoon event enthusiastically chatting with Carmelina, a Tri Delta sister who came out to support me. In true Tri Delta fashion, we only stopped gabbing after we exited the warm café in to the chilly night and our shivering finally got us to say good night and part ways. That was a good end to the event.


The Launch Party is Over!

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After all these weeks of endless waiting and days of breathless watching of the big day’s weather forecast, I cannot believe that the Book Launch Party has come and gone. But it has. And it was a success.  In spite of…

…the fact that the weather forecasters being so focussed on the big storm coming got the day’s forecast wrong. A few flurries, they said. Only lake effect and not for very long, they said. The sun shall come out. Uh-huh. The weather interpreted that to mean snow, snow, snow all day long until the party was over, requiring lots of bundling up, slogging through drifts, crawling along the roads, and wiping the windshields. Still, Judy’s special Reverend — Rev. Ed Bentley — drove all the way in from Belleville to join the celebration and to encourage me to keep on writing; Marlene Close, her nurse and good friend, drove in from north of the city to pick up a copy for herself and several as Christmas gifts; Judy’s first surgeon Dr. Michael O’Dwyer and a retired colleague beat the snow back to make it; her hospital mate and long-time friend Gloria Snyder drove in from beyond to see me and my father; Miriam and Cyndy Taylor, Judy’s youngest and oldest daughters, came with entourages and enlivened the party, just as their mother would have; and even a TPN Fellow from Thailand, soon to study under my father, came to purchase Lifeliner so as to learn about the very first TPN case. She read it last night until 5:00 am, intending only to read a little but before she knew it, she was on Chapter 28. Now that’s an e-mail that makes an author grin from ear to ear!

My parents and I intended to get there early, well before the stated 2:00 pm start, so that we’d have time to settle in and ensure all was in readiness. (We didn’t have to worry about the latter as the church’s social representative had everything in order, even the hot coffee and tea.) But our plan went awry as soon as we drove up to the church — we saw a threesome open and enter one of the doors. They can’t be here for our function, we thought. Yes, they were! And then, within minutes of us walking in, others arrived. I’d barely taken off my coat and put my shoes on and sorted out the signing table with my special pen and camera before I was asked to plant my butt and start signing a pile of books. As I hesitantly looked at the pile, Miriam observed, “You’re not ready for this.” No, I wasn’t. But now that the party is over, I am ready. It’s finally sunk in, this whole book business. I wrote it. I published it. It’s out. It’s selling. People are reading it. I am an author. And, most importantly, I fulfilled my commitment to Cliff. For so many years, both he and I thought it was a lost cause. I started to believe this day would not pass, even when I received my first box of copies from the man in brown and I opened that box and reached in to extract my very first copy. And then yesterday, there it was. Reality.

To  all those who came out, thank you!


How to Autograph Your Book

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Writers write, right? So you’d think they’d have plenty to say about the book signing thing. Wrong. For starters, it took me several attempts to try and find any advice on what pen to use, and I ended up asking the associate at Loomis and Toles. Then forget trying to Google the question, “How to autograph your book?” or variations thereof. You’ll get references on autographing your book or, even better, autograph books, but not much about what people actually write. This is when the popular media really helps.

I was watching the Rick Mercer Report the other day and guess what popped up into the scene: Jean Chretien and Mercer autographing their books! Mercer just signed his full name. Chretien wrote “Best wishes” and signed his full name. I’m not a Chretien fan, but I liked that little extra.

Then I’m reading the comics today, and lo and behold For Better or For Worse’s storyline this week is of Mike autographing his books! Today, I learnt what not to do.

So in a nutshell fellow writers, use either the Pilot Hi-tecpoint V5 grip gel pen or the Prismacolor Premier pen to sign your books. I was told the gel pen is better for autograph sessions when the pen can remain uncapped and unused for awhile when readers engage you in conversation. They both come in a range of colours, so don’t be afraid to get creative and sign in purple instead of the usual blue. Don’t parrot mindlessly in your signature what the reader says — that can lead to interesting double entendres. And sign your full name, or if your name is really long, just your first name. After all your full name is going to be right above your autograph in nicely rendered type.