Category Archives: Writing

From the Archives

One of the neat things about keeping a blog is the ability it gives you to look back in time and see what you were doing in past years.  Here’s what I was writing about on each September 26 during the seven years I’ve been keeping this blog. 

selkirk settlers

Selkirk Settlers by Gerald Laing

September 26, 2011-I wrote about a statue of the Selkirk Settlers at the end of my street. 

charlene diehl thin air

Thin Air’s mastermind Charlene Diehl introducing authors at The Forks on Sunday night

September 26, 2012- I was  maintaining a second blog called Destination Winnipeg and there I wrote about attending the Thin Air writing festival. 

dave and dannySeptember 26, 2013- A friend we had taught with in Hong Kong and later visited in Cambodia was in Winnipeg and paid us an unexpected visit. 

chicken soup reboot your life

I have a story in this book

September 26, 2014  -I was announcing my second appearance in a Chicken Soup Book, this time in an anthology called Reboot Your Life where I wrote about our 2003 move to Hong Kong.  construction on rorie street 2015

September 26, 2015- This post certainly remains timely because it is about all the construction going on in our neighbourhood, repairing streets and infrastructure.  That is still happening. 

manitoba-by-joe-fafard-1975September 26, 2016–  I wrote about a statue called Manitoba and why artist Joe Fafard had chosen a Metis man to represent our province. rainbow in my mouth

September 26, 2017-Last year at this time we were in Iceland and I did a post about how my husband made me pose for a photo with a rainbow in my mouth. 

I wonder what I will be writing about next year on September 26th?

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Writing is the Way I Think And Remember

Dora Dueck ended a recent post on her delightful blog Chronicles of Aging with the statement “writing is the way I think and the way I remember.”  I could resonate with that completely!  Writing about an event, a book, a movie or a trip helps me to process it and to remember it.  During a recent clean up of his home my father found two small daily diaries that belonged to my maternal grandmother. Grandma’s journals made me suspect that the need to write about life experiences is something I may have inherited.  

Writing in a house we rented in Iceland

Someone I know who is trying to help a partner struggling with memory loss is encouraging them to keep a journal.  There is evidence that journaling not only improves memory but also helps your emotional and mental health.

I often consider whether it may be time to stop writing this blog, to end a nearly 35 year assignment as a newspaper columnist or to take a hiatus from other long standing writing gigs. But I think even if I did give up those public forms of recording and reflecting I would need to journal privately in order to keep on living in a meaningful way.  I know many people who have other ways of thinking through things and remembering them- whether it is through photos they take, sketches they do, discussions they have, songs they compose, collections of memorabilia they treasure, time spent in meditation, scrap booking or prayer.  But for me writing is the way I think and remember. 

Other posts……

A Honeymoon Adventure

Writing Dividends

Mailboxes of Distinction

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Connecting with Rejoice

rejoiceThis week a series of reflections I wrote are featured in Rejoice a publication of Menno Media.  The first one was scheduled to be read yesterday, July 9.  I was surprised when I woke up in to find a note on Facebook Messenger from a former college classmate. He had read my words that morning, found them interesting, and was sure he remembered me.  He wondered what years I had attended college in Winnipeg and if they coincided with his attendance.  Turns out they did! Both my husband and I remembered the man who now lives in Indiana. 

rejoice 2018I really enjoy writing for Rejoice.  I’ve done it for some twenty years now. There are lots of reasons it’s been a good experience for me, but my favorite part is still connecting, or as in this case reconnecting, with people who are my readers and hearing their ideas and opinions. It is especially affirming to discover that what I’ve written resonates with my audience.  That’s the goal whenever we write something for public consumption and its gratifying when that goal is realized. 

You can download or buy the Summer 2018 edition of Rejoice here. 

Other posts……

This Week in Rejoice

Eighteen Years of Rejoice

 

 

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What’s A Twitter Pitch Party?

On Thursday I was part of my first Twitter Pitch Party. A Twitter Pitch Party is a way for writers to try and get their work seen by potential publishers.  The pitch party on Thursday was for picture books.  Here’s the idea.

Writers of picture books create a 280 character pitch or summary of their story written in a way that they hope will intrigue book publishers, editors and writing agents.  They post it on Twitter.  Then publishers, editors and agents who are interested in your book based on your description can ‘like’ your pitch and if they do you can send them a query or submission asking them to consider your book for publication.  

I followed the Twitter Pitch feed during the day and literally hundreds of different pitches for picture books were being posted each hour.  What was the chance an editor, publisher or agent would even happen upon mine in an amongst the many thousands posted ?

I realized that just like the more traditional avenues I’ve already tried for getting a picture book published you have about a one in a million chance your twitter party pitch will lead to a book deal. So why do people participate when the odds are so stacked against them?  I guess many of the authors are in my position where they have submitted their picture books to dozens of publishing houses and contests and explored endless avenues for publication.  They may have received lots of positive feedback and accolades as I have, but no interest in a book deal. At that point you are willing to roll the dice and try a Twitter Pitch for getting your book published. 

The next step for many of the picture book authors as well as me may just be self-publication – a pricey and time consuming option because you need to hire an illustrator and book designer and pay all the publishing costs yourself.   But that option is becoming more and more common. 

It was good practice for me to have to pitch my book in one short phrase but I don’t think I will participate in a Twitter Pitch again.  Finding success there I think is kind of like planning your future around a winning lottery ticket. I need to pursue more concrete avenues for publication. Getting a picture book published is still on my bucket list and for now it’s staying there. 

Other posts………

The Cube

Learning From Judy Blume

The Artist’s Way

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Family of Spies

family of spies“You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”   That quote from the Bible was the theme of a  commencement address given at a Virgina college last week by recently fired American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  Tillerson warned that when leaders lie and people accept those lies, it won’t be long before freedom is lost.  

jodi book launch

I attended the launch of Jodi Carmichael’s book Family of Spies 

Interestingly that same Bible verse about truth and freedom appears a number of times in a new novel for middle grade readers by Winnipeg author Jodi Carmichael. Much of the story in her Family of Spies is set in 1944 just before the end of World War II.  The action happens during a period of time when Hitler is trying to conceal the truth and make the German people accept his alternate reality.  

edward crawford

 Jodi’s grandfather who inspired her book

Jodi’s inspiration for the book grew out of the fact that the records detailing her grandfather Edward Crawford’s service in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II remain sealed to this day. Why? Could he have been a spy? In her book Jodi imagines that three of Edward’s great-grandchildren have arrived in Paris on a family vacation. They have a suitcase of their great grandfather’s belongings and hatch a plan to try to figure out the mystery surrounding his military service. 

war medals family of spies

Jodi’s grandfather’s military service medals

I attended the launch of Jodi’s book at the end of April and she had some of her grandfather’s memorabilia on display, including his war medals and a photograph of him after the Newfoundland native was named a Rhodes Scholar. 

cookies jodi's launch

The cookies served at the book launch for Family of Spies featured the Eiffel Tower.

Jodi wrote Family of Spies while living in Europe so she was able to visit the important sites in Paris where the action in her novel takes place. That  ‘feet on the ground’ research is evident in her vivid descriptions of French landmarks. 

As Jodi’s heroes Ford, Ellie and Gavin explore Paris, trying to discover the truth about their great grandfather’s past, they also discover some truths about themselves and their relationships with one another. I really liked that about the book. 

jodi signing her book

Jodi signs books for her fans

Jodi is a member of the children’s writers group I meet with twice a month. I have just finished the first draft of a novel based on an event in my own grandfather’s life.  Jodi’s success with  Family of Spies gives me a tiny bit of hope that I may be able to get my novel published as well. Jodi is a successful writer and I so appreciate her willingness to share her expertise with our writing group.  You can find out more about Jodi and the other books she has published on her website. 

Other posts……..

A Glamorous Night For Manitoba Writing

The Cube

Who Do Family Stories Belong To?

 

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A Chicken Soup Story For Mothers Day

Years ago someone critiquing my writing style told me I should try to make my pieces less “chicken soupy”.   That critic was right on the money.  My writing does have a certain “chicken soupy”  quality and to prove it I’ve just had my fourth story published in one of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. 

This time my story is in a book called My Amazing Mom and I’ve written a story about my own amazing mother.  I am grateful to my Mom for so many things but my story is about the wise and gentle way she introduced my sister and me to the ‘facts of life’ by reading us the book Susie’s Babies which tells the story of a mother hamster giving birth.   My sister and I were ages nine and seven at the time and after she read us the book Mom told us she was going to have a baby too and we could ask her any questions about it we wanted to.  She also explained what would happen to us as we became young women .  It wasn’t till I was older that I realized not nearly all mothers in the 1960s were so open and honest with their daughters and how very lucky I was to have a mother who was.   

I enjoy writing Chicken Soup stories and usually have at least one I’m in the process of working on.  Not all of them make the cut from the thousands submitted for each book, but Susie’s Babies is the fourth one that has and that’s enough to keep me penning in my “chicken soupy” style. 

You can buy the books from Simon and Shuster   or Amazon   or Barnes and Noble 

My Other Chicken Soup Books…….

I’m in the Latest Chicken Soup Book

In Chicken Soup Again

Back in Chicken Soup

 

 

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The Cube

I admire my friend Kelly so much.  We got to know each other when we both worked at the same international school in Hong Kong and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.  

quiz-night-crew

Here are Dave and me sitting across from Kelly and her husband Aaron at a Quiz Night we used to go to together in Hong Kong.

Kelly is much younger than I am but she’s equally passionate about writing and over the last decade I’ve been following her determined efforts to write and publish a book.  Kelly is the kind of person who doesn’t just talk about doing something, she takes action.  During a job transitioning period she planned for time off from her career to finish her manuscript.  Then she hired an experienced editor to help her hone her science fiction novel.  

kelly

Check out Kelly’s blog at https://www.kellyfumikoweiss.com

She started a blog where she detailed her writing journey. She joined a writers’ association to make connections and grow professionally. She sought advice from other writers by interviewing them and then writing about what she had learned on her blog.  Kelly fine- tuned the art of writing query letters and started sending them out to publishers. She went to writing conferences and met with publishers there. 

symbols in the cube

As you read Kelly’s novel The Cube you are going to be just as intrigued as Kelly’s protagonists who are trying to figure out this coded message after gathering the symbols from locations all over the United States.

She hired a designer to help her create the intriguing symbols which are at the heart of her novel’s plot. After a period of determined effort to find a publisher for her book she decided to publish it herself with the assistance of Windy City Publishers and set about planning her book launch and a publicity campaign to bring attention to her book. After all that hard work her dream has been realized and her book is now in the hands of readers.  

the cube by kelly weissOf course as soon as I heard the news I ordered Kelly’s book and I’ve just finished reading it. I’m a sucker for a good romance and The Cube certainly offers that so I was hooked right off the bat.  Because I am not a gamer at all,  I admit the intricacies of The Cube which is a virtual reality game, initially confused me, but when I reached the section where the book’s hero Will enters The Cube and tries his hand at the various tests of intellectual skill and physical endurance I was completely caught up in his quest and read furiously to see if he would be successful.

Dave and I have visited Kelly’s family in Chicago and so the fact that the book is set in that city made it even more interesting to me, and will appeal to others who either live in Chicago or who have traveled there and been charmed by its history, geography and culture. Although Kelly’s book is an entertaining mystery it also makes you consider ethical questions around the success of large social media entities who know so much about our personal lives, and as the last American election showed, have so much power.   Will they use their power to make the world a better place? Is it safe for them to have so much influence?  Kelly’s two main characters have different opinions about that and it really gets the reader thinking. One thing I appreciated about Kelly’s book is that it gives readers hope for the future while many other novels present such a dark, dystopian picture of what is to come.  

Kelly is a role model for me as I write new manuscripts, hone others and attempt to get them published. Her determination and dedication to the writing craft is inspirational. You can order her book The Cube from Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Other posts………

Visiting Chicago

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