Tag Archives: Canadian Author

Watch the Tears – Phyllis Humby’s New Novel Old Broad Road

Phyllis L Humby’s gritty new novel Old Broad Road (Crossfield Publishing 2020) rattled more than a few old windows in a thunderstorm. It made me cry like a sudden outburst of rain, earning a five-star rating on Goodreads for its ability to move me so unexpectedly.

How did she do it?

By slowing the pace and quietly introducing the reader to Newfoundland’s warm hospitality before unrolling the yellow caution tape and hammering the reader not once but several times towards the end of the book.


Humby’s debut novel Old Broad Road was released by Crossfield Publishing in 2020.

The novel opened innocently enough with Torontonian protagonist Sylvia Kramer seeking a fresh start in Newfoundland after divorcing her husband of several decades. The reasons for the divorce are not clear at the beginning but it was obvious Sylvia was traumatized enough to want to leave her adult children and young grandchildren behind.

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Two Debut Books in 6 Months for Canadian Author Phyllis L Humby

A movement. A sound. I held my breath. There it was again. A scratching sound in the ductwork next to me.– Phyllis L Humby*

From lingerie boutique owner to Eden Mills fringe reader to First Monday columnist to published author, Lambton Shores writer Phyllis L Humby continues to forge a strong literary presence.

In April during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, Crossfield Publishing released Hazards of the Trade. This debut memoir is being marketed as Humby’s “personal disclosure of nearly twenty-years of humorous and sad reflections from the naïve start-up of a small-town lingerie boutique to the ultimate farewell.” What a career! Bravo, I say! My review of her book appears here.

Congratulations to Lambton Shores writer and First Monday columnist Phyllis L Humby who (in April) launched her memoir Hazards of the Trade. Later this fall, her debut novel Old Broad Road will appear in bookstores across Canada.

And while some writers only dream of having their work published, Humby will see her second book, a debut novel released by Crossfield Publishing in the upcoming weeks.

Titled Old Broad Road, this is the first manuscript she wrote and shared with her Sarnia, Ontario writing critique group several years ago. Numerous drafts later, her dream to be published came unexpectedly like an avalanche with two books in two different genres released within six months of each other.

That’s amazing but her enthusiasm continues to drive her. She has already completed the draft of her sequel to Old Broad Road and is currently working at revising a psychological thriller. She is indeed multi-talented!

Earlier this month, I chatted with Phyllis (via e-mail) about her new memoir, her journey as a writer, her writing space, and her plans for the future.

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Introducing Elizabeth F Hill and All ‘Bout Canada

Visitors have 50,000 years to visit Niagara Falls before it disappears – Elizabeth F. Hill*

She’s a walking encyclopedia! Canadian author Elizabeth F. Hill’s love for reading, researching, and writing is evident in her latest project  All ‘Bout Canada: A Compendium of Canadiana. Recently released by Nimbus Publishing, her 200-page non-fiction book is being described as “a resourceful, quirky, and illuminating read, featuring vibrant illustrations….an abecedary of Canadiana for all of us.”**

An avid traveller! Canadian writer Elizabeth F. Hill recently launched her non-fiction book  All ‘Bout Canada.

The back cover states: “Using a blend of prose, poetry, posters, jokes, and quizzes, and featuring dictionary-style entries and witty poems for each letter in the alphabet, this collection of Canadian facts and anecdotes takes readers on a cross-country cultural tour from “Aurora Borealis” to “Zellers”, with delightful detours along the way.”**

Talk about conversation starters!  Her ABC book tempts the reader with trivia: “Did you know? …On average, the inside of the igloo is 65 degrees warmer than the outside air with wind chill.” (p. 69)

I could chat with this author for hours and I have. She is most entertaining and because she’s my sister-in-law (big disclosure here which is why I will refrain from posting a review), I know how hard she works behind the scenes to expand her knowledge about Canada and other parts of the world. Ever since I have known her, Beth has had an amazing capacity to remember details: she’s an academic researcher who holds a master of library science and a PhD in intercultural education. Yet, her interests and mannerisms are down to earth, and her writing is infused with a touch of dry humour. She makes me laugh.

A few days ago, I chatted with Elizabeth (via e-mail) about her new book, her journey as a writer, her writing space, and her plans for the future. Continue reading

A Strong Collection – Sharon Berg’s Naming the Shadows – Stories

 “Don’t shake your head, shadow, I’m serious.” -Sharon Berg*

Canadian author/publisher/poet Sharon Berg* prefaces her short story collection Naming the Shadows (Porcupine’s Quill 2019) with a quote by C. G. Jung: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

Not everyone yearns to peer or dig deep into the darkness but for those readers who appreciate great literature and take the time to analyze the content in more detail, they shall be rewarded.


Naming the Shadows: Stories (Porcupine’s Quill 2019) by Sharon Berg ISBN 9780889844292 (softcover) was officially launched September 29, 2019 at The Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

Berg never flinches from tough subjects nor sugar-coats her work. She pushes boundaries and draws attention to such inequalities and injustices as betrayal and infidelity, bullying, manipulation, torture and assault, rape and sexual deviance, the exploitation of Midgets in a freak show, street living and abuse, theft and consequences, love lost and grief, adoption and single parenting, ageism, plus the heaviness of dark secrets and confessions. These are the shadows that Berg clearly names and wants to bring to light.

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Introducing Naming the Shadows by Sharon Berg

We were breaking strict rules, heading towards the high, crumbling hillside that was the northern face of this valley called Cedar Vale – Sharon Berg*

 What happens next for Elke, the young protagonist in Sharon Berg’s fictional tale “Trespass” is a heart-wrenching account of how quickly innocence can slip into a dangerous and dark abyss. The tension builds and as a reader, I am left scarred similar to my feelings after reading Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Will the horrors between bullies and victims never end?

However with shadows comes light and for this Sarnia writer her ability to shock (and move readers into action) is offset by her caring and strong interest in portraying the human experience in its painful as well as its tender, healing moments.

For almost a year, Facebook followers have received teasers about Berg’s upcoming short fiction collection Naming the Shadows to be published by the established trade publisher The Porcupine’s Quill based out of Erin in Wellington County. She’s proudly shared the cover depicting a painting by Alvinston artist Liana Russwurm and has created on-line posters for her upcoming book tour. “Trespass” is part of this new book which includes 9 short stories and two novelettes.

September 29, 2019 in Sarnia

Launching September 29 at The Book Keeper in Sarnia: Naming the Shadows (Porcupine’s Quill 2019) is the debut short fiction collection by Sarnia writer Sharon Berg. Special guests include Berg, artist Liana Russwurm, and poet/musician Tom Gannon Hamilton who will offer background music as she reads from the book.

Now the real work will begin!

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Gardening Words – A Literary Spring Cleaning

“North wind yanks her long skirt./A hand-knit scarf covers/her tulip-shaped face.”  -Debbie Okun Hill*

Call it a brain freeze or an ice-cream headache: that sensation of eating or drinking an ice cold substance during a hot summer’s day! (Insert laughter here!) Last week, the temperatures soared above 30 degrees Celsius: much too hot for planting seeds!

Lost in Reality TV Snow - Okun Hill - January 9, 2018

This week, the wind off the lake numbs my fingers. Words pile up like snow, like unread books on a shelf, like autumn leaves clogging the eaves trough, like spring cleaning that never gets completed!

Quick, grab me a broom and a rake to smooth out this unruly tangle of rejection slips and word roots gnarled and snarled on my desk and in my yard.

I’m waiting for my garden-gloved fingers to unthaw.

In the meantime, browse through the good news gathered in my in-basket:

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Sarnia Writers James Deahl and Norma West Linder Launch Three New Books

So much of our journey occurs/between two great silences./We must either walk the path/of the blood-red moon/or go down to the river/and welcome whatever rises/from its black depth – James Deahl*


Toronto Launch – October 18, 2016                                      Sarnia Launch – October 23, 2016

Summer’s heat lingers-clings to the windshield, to the steering wheel, to the green autumn leaves dipped in brilliant yellow paint and crimson red stain. Prolific Sarnia writer James Deahl tugs the knot in his tie and opens the power windows as he drives his car along Highway 402 towards London, Ontario.


James Deahl chats about love and death during the Toronto launch of To Be With A Woman (LUMMOX Press, 2016)

His tour schedule includes the launch of three new books at the Toronto Public Library’s Parliament Street Branch and, for the next three hours of his trip, he speaks (almost non-stop) about Ontario’s landscapes, love and death. His passion for both poetry and his partner the prolific Canadian writer Norma West Linder rises with each breath as perspiration beads like liquid pebbles along his forehead.

“When Gilda died very shortly after her fifty-third birthday, I thought I would also die,” he says. He emphasizes this at the Toronto book launch and again in the introduction of his book To Be With A Woman: A Journey of Love & Death, Poems, 2007-2010. Gilda Mekler was Deahl’s second wife and his business partner for the now defunct small press Mekler and Deahl. After his long mourning period, he developed a close friendship and fell in love with Linder. “I love and honour my Norma and strive to be the man she deserves.”

His new 134-page poetry collection, published by LUMMOX Press, focuses on these two women. As stated in the Toronto Public Library flyer: the book “begins with the death of his second wife, Gilda Mekler, in early 2007 and ends with his engagement to Norma during the summer of 2010.”


Guest reader and poet Pat Connors reads from his second Lyricalmyrical chapbook during the October 18, 2016 launch at the Toronto Public Library’s Parliament Street Branch.

Toronto launch’s guest reader Pat Connors, author of Part Time Contemplative (Lyricalmyrical), wrote that “James Deahl’s newest release is philosophical and ironic. It tells of love lost, and then of new love found, all leading to a great appreciation of an even more foundational relationship. He writes about the events which have marked his life with such clarity and honestly that it speaks to all of us.” Connors’ full review appears in the Volume 19, Number 111, October-November 2016 issue of Canadian Stories. 

Linder’s new and 26th book and 6th novel Tall Stuff (Hidden Brook Press, 2016) also focuses on love and has been described as “a romantic novel based on ‘little theatre’” or as the back cover states: Tall Stuff is “Singing in the Rain” meets “Love Story”.  Additional information about Linder’s book appears in this Lambton Shield article written by Sarnia writer Sharon Berg and posted on October 10, 2016.

The third book launched in Toronto is Landscapes: Poems from the seasons of Ontario’s soul published by Israel’s Cyclamens and Swords Publishing. The 74-page collection includes the poetry of both Katherine L. Gordon and James Deahl. According to Ottawa writer Ronnie R. Brown, “In Landscapes, two well-respected poets join forces to present a stunning display of places and ideas, “giving a tongue to the world around them”…”To read Landscapes, is to experience Canada from the comforts of your armchair.”


Norma West Linder shares her work October 19, 2016 during CADENCE, Sarnia’s newest reading series with a little music.

Brantford’s Poet Laureate John B. Lee in his review published in the August/September 2016 issue of Canadian Stories concludes: “Like Anteus who takes his strength from the earth – they seem to be writing –I am here – in Ontario – standing on worthy ground –ground as good as any – inspired and inspiring – a place on which to stand from when you might move the earth with the fulcrum and lever of these fine poems.”

The Sarnia launch of all three books will be held this Sunday, October 23 from 1 to 2 p.m. at The Book Keeper, 500 Exmouth Street. Stop by and meet these prolific writers in person!

An earlier blog post about James Deahl and his poetry book Unbroken Lines (LUMMOX Press, 2015) appears here.

An earlier blog post about Norma West Linder and her novel The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015) appears here.

An earlier blog featuring their joint poetry collection Two Paths Through the Seasons (Cyclamen and Swords Publishing, Israel, 2014) appears here.


Canadian writers James Deahl and Norma West Linder will be reading in Sarnia on Sunday, October 23, 2016.

*epigraph is from the poem “Our Travail” published in To Be With A Woman: A Journey Of Love and Death, Poems, 2007-2010 (LUMMOX Press, 2016) Copyright © James Deahl 2016

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Norma West Linder Adds Second Children’s Book to Her Diverse Literary Portfolio

But right until the end of the period, all Katie could think about was Mindemoya. What a funny name! It sounded like the sort of place where strange things could happen. –Norma West Linder*

For over fifty years, Canadian writer Norma West Linder has surrounded herself with words. Books spill from shelves in her living room. Tabletops hold magazines and other reading material. Not only is she an avid reader but she has produced an impressive and diverse portfolio of literature during her prolific writing career. Her contributions to the literary community include 5 novels, 14 collections of poetry, a biography on the former Ontario Lieutenant-Governor. Pauline McGibbon, a one-act play, a children’s book and a memoir on Manitoulin Island. She also taught English and Creative Writing for 24 years at Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada and wrote a monthly column for The Sarnia Observer for 7 years.

Norma West Linder

Canadian Author Norma West Linder

Retirement is far from her mind. In fact, her latest book The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015) is a 77-page ‘chapter book’ that transports her back to her youth, to Manitoulin Island where she spent her formative years, long before she settled in Sarnia.

It’s the same setting she showcased in Morels and Maple Syrup: A Memoir of Manitoulin Island (Vesta Publications, 1977) and in her poetry chapbook Magical Manitoulin (Beret Days Press, 2006). This love for her childhood haunt is reinforced in her poem “Going Back” where she states: “when I was twelve/we moved from Manitoulin/yet somehow I remained an Island girl/and each time I go back I live again/those carefree days**”

Linder’s imagination soars with her latest novel. Marketed for children ages 8 to 10, the book follows the fictional story of Caleb Larkin and his step-sister Katie Lambert who witness a spaceship landing on the island. Her chapters are beautifully enhanced with 10 full-colour images by Calgary resident and artist Afsheadeh Abbasnezhad.

According to poet, publisher, literary judge and reviewer Katherine L. Gordon, “Norma West Linder has written a tale imbued with the historic magic of Manitoulin, a place alive from the ancient of days with spirit power. A perfect setting for adventure and self-discovery.”

Book - THE PASTEL PLANET - Norma West Linder - F and B Cover

The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015) by Norma West Linder

The Pastel Planet will be officially launched Saturday, January 16 starting at 2 p.m. at The Book Keeper, Northgate Plaza, in Sarnia. James Deahl, Linder’s biggest fan and significant other will also be reading from his new poetry book Unbroken Lines: Collected Poetic Prose 1990-2015 (LUMMOX Press, 2015). More details about Deahl’s book appears here.

Additional details about Linder’s The Pastel Planet appear here.

Below is an interview conducted with Linder earlier this month:

1)      Describe your new book The Pastel Planet. What inspired you to write it?

My book takes two youngsters, Katie and Caleb, on space trips over Manitoulin Island with friendly aliens who resemble huge Gumbo babies. I wanted to write another novel for children because my first one about our family dog was well received.***

2)      How does your work differ from other writers? What makes it unique and special?

Even though it’s said there’s nothing new under the sun, each writer has his or her own voice and a unique way of seeing the world, as unique as our fingerprints.

3)      What is your writing process? And why do you write the way that you do?

I’m erratic in my writing habits; some days I’m at it for hours, other days I accomplish nothing. But if I’m not writing, I’m usually thinking about it.

4)      What are your plans for promoting your book?

The Book Keeper in Sarnia will do a launch for me on January 16th at 2 o’clock, when James Deahl, my Significant Other, launches his book of poetic prose pieces, Unbroken Lines.

Norma West Linder & James Deahl Photo 1 by Okun Hill

Norma West Linder and James Deahl travelling together on their literary journey.

 5)      Who are/were your mentors and why did they inspire you?

Other writers inspired me, novelists like Margaret Laurence and Ernest Buckler, and poets like Ray Souster. James inspires me on a daily basis. 

6)      You are a prolific writer. What advice would you give to a young writer just starting his/her career as a writer?

The best advice I can give beginning writers is to know everything there is to know about your characters in short stories or novels. For poems, it’s a good idea to put the first draft away for a day or two, let it get cold, then revise if necessary. Oddly enough, you may have to discard the very line that prompted you to write the poem in the first place.

7)      What are some of the challenges facing writers today?

For writers of short stories, a form I’ve always enjoyed doing, the market today is lamentably small. When I was able to sell stories to Chatelaine, the pay was good, and often the stories would be picked up for publication in England and Australia, again, with substantial payment. Much of what is written today appears only online with minimal payment or none at all. To me, that is less satisfying than holding a magazine or book in my hands.

8)   What future writing project will you be working on following/during your tour?

I’ve written articles, essays, stories, novels and plays. However, the publication of poetry has given me the most satisfaction, although the reward is not a monetary one. But unlike other kinds of writing, one has to wait for Erato, the poetic Muse, to come to call. And she can stop calling for long stretches when you might think she has abandoned you. Just wait. She always comes again.

Thank you for sharing your comments. I wish you continued success with your writing!         

*epigraph is from the end of Chapter 1 of The Pastel Planet (Hidden Brook Press, 2015). Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright ©2015 Norma West Linder

**from the poem “Going Back”, Magical Manitoulin (Beret Days Press, 2006). Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright @2006 Norma West Linder

***Linder’s first children’s book was titled Corey (Vesta Publications, 1979). It was 91 pages long and was illustrated by K. Herb Linder.

Watch this blog for additional Canadian Author and Poet Profiles.