Tag Archives: manitoba writers guild

You Don’t Have to Die in the End

After reading the first five chapters of Anita Daher’s new book You Don’t Have to Die in the End I considered not finishing the novel because Eugenia Grimm, the teenage protagonist has such a troubled life! It was tough allowing myself to be drawn into her dark world. Her father has committed suicide and her mother has abandoned her. Eugenia’s brother and his wife, who live in a small Western Canadian town, have taken her in, but Eugenia is understandably angry and confused. She is making such bad decisions! Eugenia seems to be hurtling towards an early death but……… the title of the book You Don’t Have To Die in the End assured me she’d survive. So I kept reading.

You Don’t Have to Die in the End is from Great Plains Publishing

The novel becomes much more hopeful both for the reader and our heroine Eugenia when she is arrested and qualifies for a special youth program that sends her winging up on a plane to a remote ranch in northern British Columbia. There Eugenia’s relationship with the caring but tough staff, the other kids, and the ranch horses help her begin to pull her life together.  The wilderness setting is like a breath of fresh air and inspires optimism, but Eugenia still faces enough pitfalls and obstacles to keep readers intrigued with her story.

On Wednesday Anita Daher, the author of You Don’t Have To Die in the End was the featured guest for an online event sponsored by the Manitoba Writer’s Guild. Anita has fifteen published books to her credit and is the current chair of the Writers Union of Canada.    It was great to be able to take advantage of her expertise and ask questions about the writing and publishing process and how to access writing grants. Anita also talked about some of the unique challenges of having your book published during a pandemic.

Anita is an enthusiastic and interesting speaker and it was so valuable for a developing children’s writer like me, to have access to the insight of an author with Anita’s experience. I hadn’t met Anita in person before, even though I have belonged to a children’s writers’ group named in her honour for many years.  The Anita Factor was founded by a cohort of Winnipeg authors who had taken a writing course with Anita. 

My Manitoba writer friend, Mitch Toews who used to play basketball with my husband, colourfully noted in a recent rant on his Facebook page that the path to publishing your work affords no easy lay-ups.  He’s right! But……. organizations like the Writers Guild and experienced authors like Anita Daher who are generous with their advice and interest make the challenging journey a collegial meaningful learning experience that enriches the writer’s life. 

Other posts………..

Top Ten Pieces of Writing Advice from David Robertson

A Top Ten List From Ruth Ohi a Top-Notch Writer

A Glamorous Night For Manitoba Writing




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Snowbirds, Little Free Libraries and Sharing Writing

Our grandsons were SO excited when we talked on Face Time on Thursday because they had just seen the Snow Birds fly in formation over their yard in Saskatoon. They told us all about the planes and what they looked like and how close they had seemed. The Snow Birds are out on a nationwide Operation Inspiration tour to cheer and encourage Canadians during the pandemic. 

I have been talking with the community outreach pastor at our church about whether we should open our Little Free Library.  I am the church librarian and take responsibility for stocking the Little Free Library shelves with books I have collected from a variety of sources. I also check the library weekly to be sure the books people have donated are ones that will appeal to our users. Currently, our Little Free Library is temporarily closed due to COVID-19.  

Our church’s Little Free Library

A CBC article this week says Little Free Libraries can serve an important purpose especially while public libraries remain closed.   I agree, but the Little Free Library organization recommends wiping down shelves, doors and latches regularly with disinfectant, ideally after every use. How would we facilitate that? I conceived the idea of the Little Free Library as a way to serve the community and I would really like to continue doing that now.  I just want to be sure we can do it safely.

I was talking to a friend on Wednesday who said she had wept while watching Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Netflix.  The former first lady’s grace and kindness and hope are exactly what so many people need to see and hear in these uncertain times. I know I have already written about the film which chronicles Michelle’s book tour last year but as my friend talked, I remembered something else that had really impressed me about Michelle.  

Michelle Obama with Kaitlyn Saunders an 8-year-old who told the former First Lady at a book signing that she wants to be a competitive figure skater. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin

There is a scene in the film where Mrs Obama is greeting people and signing their copies of her book.  I marvelled as she looked at each person with interest and warmth in her eyes, and asked them each a question about themselves so she could connect with them.  She only had about a half a minute with each person, but she made each one feel special and recognized and heard.  What a gift!

Margaret Sweatman photo by Jay Gaune from University of Winnipeg website

On Wednesday I took part in a ZOOM author sharing circle sponsored by the Manitoba Writers Guild.  Winnipeg author Margaret Sweatman shared a section from her book  When Alice Lay Down With Peter which has scenes that take place right around the time Manitoba was becoming a province, very appropriate since we were marking Manitoba’s 150 birthday this week. 

After Margaret read from her book we could ask her questions. I had read her book FOX about the Winnipeg Strike and was glad to have the opportunity to learn more about how she had balanced fact and fiction while writing it. Later six participants read from our own writing. Such a lovely variety of pieces -a poem about raking the lawn, a memoir about a Manitoba woman sent to an asylum years ago, a story about a woman leaving an abusive relationship, a rather creepy tale about a very self-centred man and a story about the striking similarities between a photo and a painting. I read an excerpt from a series of stories I am working on about a girl growing up in the 1960s. 

I just submitted my novel Lost on the Prairie to a nationwide contest for emerging Canadian writers for children.  I am finding the pandemic is giving me time to do more writing and to continue trying to promote and find a publisher for work I have already completed. 

Other posts……...

Little Free Library

Love These Guys

The Winnipeg Strike – Fact And Fiction

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Filed under COVID-19 Diary, Writing

A Glamourous Night For Manitoba Writing

manitoba book awards programI attended the Manitoba Book Awards on Saturday.  It is an annual event organized by the Manitoba Writers Guild. I have been a member of the guild ever since I moved to Winnipeg six years ago.  It was through the guild I heard about Vast Imaginations the first children’s writers’ group I joined in Winnipeg.  The friends I made there helped me find my way into The Anita Factor a collective of talented and published children’s authors who have been mentoring me in my quest to learn the fine art of writing picture books and novels for young people.  So I was delighted to be able to attend the Manitoba Book Awards last Saturday with members of The Anita Factor.  

at the manitoba book awards (1)

Here I am with some of the members of my writing group The Anita Factor. Larry on the far right is a former Manitoba book award winner, Jodi was a Manitoba book award nominee last year and Pat who is standing next to me just published a book with Pembroke Publishers.

This was the first year the event was held in the elegant Fort Garry Hotel and it was a first class evening in every way.  

centerpieces manitoba book awards

These creative candleholders spotlighted the names of previous Manitoba Book Award winners.

It featured great musical entertainment, professional Winnipeg broadcasters Terry MacLeod and Lara Rae as hosts, a delicious meal expertly served, good wine, and polished and articulate presenters that included last year’s Book of The Year winner Wab Kinew and Rochelle Squires the Manitoba Minister of Sports, Culture and Heritage. We each received a complimentary copy of the latest issue of Walrus Magazine.  They  were one of the offical sponsors of the evening.  That chocolate book in the corner is real and oh so deliciously decadent.   Each attendee received one  from the talented chocolatier Constance Popp

tell them it was mozartAfter the meal I bought Angeline Schellenberg’s book of poetry Tell Them It Was Mozart at the table set up by McNally Robinson Book Sellers.  Angeline’s debut into the literary world garnered her three awards on Saturday night and I consumed her moving book of poems in one fell swoop on Sunday morning. I want to go back and read them all again. 

manitoba book awards 2 (1)It was great to see Manitoba authors celebrated.  Kudos to my fellow Anita Factor member Melanie Matheson who is the executive director of the Manitoba Writers Guild and Ellen MacDonald the guild’s event coordinator who did such a fantastic job organizing the evening. I’m already looking forward to next year’s awards night. 

Other posts……..

Not One Book Launch But Three

So Excited

Writer or Palaeontologist?


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Filed under Books, Winnipeg, Writing