Yesterday, 25th February, marked my twenty-fifth anniversary of moving to Canada. I didn’t celebrate, in fact, it was only when I was preparing for bed that I realised the date. However, it did get me thinking about how my life has changed in the last quarter of a century.
After working customer service jobs, in England, for nearly ten years, first in a bank, and then later at British Airways, I was tired of dealing with the general public. People, individually, are great, the general public, on the other hand, can be rude, obnoxious, and difficult. So, by the time I moved here I had become a malcontent.
I needed a fresh start and I got one in Vancouver. I didn’t stay there. Within a few years I had moved to Kelowna, in the interior of British Columbia, with my new boyfriend. Then as a young married couple we moved to Northern Alberta.
I won’t bore you with the details, but my personal journey in Canada has been one where I got married, and had two children, and became a Canadian citizen. We also purchased a modest house that makes a wonderful home.
I started the proceedings to emigrate in 1987 but, due to red tape, couldn’t actually move here until 1989. In those two years I was amazed at how many people, some I hardly knew, would walk up to me and tell me all the reasons I couldn’t possibly move to Canada on my own. What was the biggest reason? It was scary to them. How could I possibly do something that was so terrifying? But for me it wasn’t frightening at all. It was and still is a fantastic journey. I love the life I have here. The last twenty-five years have flown by and I’m looking forward to the next twenty-five.
In southwestern China on the shores of Lugu Lake there is a remarkable people known to outsiders as the Kingdom of Women. They call themselves the Mosuo. They are an agrarian society, practice Buddhism and there are only thirty - fifty thousand of these indigenous people left.
What makes this society so unusual is that they are matrilineal, meaning property is owned by the women and passed down to their daughters. Now, there are other matrilineal societies in the world, most notably in Africa but the Mosuo are unique because they don’t believe in the traditional form of family, whereby a man and a woman marry and raise their offspring. They practice what is called a walking marriage. At the age of thirteen a girl becomes a woman and gets a room of her own in her mother’s house. She can then invite any man that interests her and refuse those who don’t. But her lover must arrive at her house after dark and leave before dawn. All liaisons are kept private and talking about them in mixed company is a social taboo.
In this way their working lives and their nocturnal activities are kept totally separate. Children are raised by the mother’s family. Their uncles, on their mother’s side, act as their male role models. Father’s rarely see their children and there is no word in the Mosuo language for husband or father.
What can we make of all this? Truthfully, I don’t know. But this is such a fascinating culture I had to write about it. I was also touched by the fact that in their society there is no such thing as an illegitimate child. No questions are ever asked about paternity and all children are welcomed and accepted, regardless of gender.
In recent years, due to improved roads, tourists from China have flocked to this region to meet the Mosuo, endangering this unique culture. They are spurred on by tour guides who claim that the Mosuo people are promiscuous and that the women are willing to sleep with any man, but this is simply not true. The Mosuo see their way as romantic and beautiful. They do not have a walking marriage for money, social standing, or familial pressure. They sleep together purely because both parties want to.
Most women in the West have had this freedom for the last fifty years. Mosuo women have been in charge of their lives for the last thousand years, perhaps there’s a thing or two to be learned from them.
If you want to know more about the Kingdom of Women I’ve provided a link to a wonderful PBS documentary.
This week, in preparation for my upcoming novella, I thought I would ask your opinion on marketing. I have done a little research and found a few ideas that appeal to me.
1. Social media. Of course, we already do this, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading my blog, and I wouldn’t have written it.
2. A contest with a twist. There is a point in my story where my hero tells the heroine to be quiet and yell if she gets into trouble. She’s just about to ask how she can keep quiet and yell at the same time when he takes off.
Perhaps a contest for “The best comeback you never said” might be an idea or maybe “The best comeback you ever heard” could be better.
3. Blog interviews with other romance writers. I like the idea of connecting with, and helping to promote, a fellow author.
4. Garnering reviews – I’m a bit fuzzy on how to accomplish this, so if any of you have any advice I would be grateful.
5. Attend conferences and book signings. This is already a problem for me because I’ll be in London in August and can’t attend the When Words Collide Conference in Calgary. (This is a real bummer because many of the wonderful writers from ARWA will be there and I so wanted to connect with them.)
And I have no idea about book signings, especially as I will be e-published and am not sure how that would work. I can also imagine sitting there, all on my lonesome, drinking coffee – sigh.
Okay, that’s as far as I’ve got. I know it’s pitiful.
So, for all you authors out there I have to ask, what do you do? What works for you and what doesn’t?
And for the readers, I want to know what promotional ideas have caught you eye? Have there been any? Or do you just pick books based on their covers at the bookstores. If you buy eBooks what prompts you to take a chance on a new author?
I would love to know what you think. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your opinion in the comments section please feel free to go to my contact page and leave me a private message.
I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to tell me your opinions. I will share any ideas in a later blog.
Here’s the final cover from The Wild Rose Press cover artist, Debbie Taylor. You can see her work on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dca.graphics or go to her website www.DCAGraphics.com
I was going to write about clothing this week, but my plan came undone when I was distracted by a story I read online regarding Muriel Calder of Cawdor. It seems that at her birth, in 1498, Muriel inherited the lands of Cawdor, an estate near present day Inverness. Most of Scotland’s high and mighty seemed to covet these lands. She was kidnapped as an infant by Archibald Campbell, the Earl of Argyll, who held who held her captive for years. When she was old enough, some sources say twelve years, she married John Campbell, Archibald’s son. This was done to ensure the Cawdor lands would come into possession of the Campbells.
This story raised many questions for me. It seems that Muriel had uncles, at least four of them. Why didn’t they inherit? In Medieval England a woman rarely owned property until she became a widow, but in Scotland things were obviously different.
I know that in Medieval Ireland women had much greater rights than their counterparts in the rest of Europe. They had the right to own property, address a court of law, lead their clan, and divorce their husbands. Was it the same in Scotland? Maybe.
It seems that in Highland Scotland if there were no male heirs the land passed to the daughters instead of male relatives, and so Muriel became a very rich little girl. I’m amazed she wasn’t murdered by her family to prevent her wealth going to whomever she married.
So what happened to this poor, little, rich girl? Well by all accounts Muriel and John had a happy marriage. Some say they had eleven children, others say they only had three. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Despite being married Muriel stayed in procession of her lands until her death in 1575, when they passed to her grandson also named John Campbell, her eldest son being already dead by this time.
On reflection, I think I’m most surprised by how compliant she seems. She was taken as a baby, and forced into marriage as an adolescent. I can’t imagine going along with that. By Scottish law all she had to do was object to the marriage and that would have been the end of it. Did she really love John Campbell? Did he love her? That truth has been lost in the sands of time, but I like to think they did care for each other and despite her terrible childhood Muriel led a very happy life.