Tag Archives: fiction

Meeting Poe in Dearborn, Michigan, USA

“If ghost trees could speak in tongues/they would speak here and now/converse with Poe’s spirit sailing/rolling inland from Lake Huron” –Debbie Okun Hill

Halloween faded like a tree spirit at the stroke of ‘midnight dreary’ but the image of American poet/short story writer Edgar Allan Poe and his raven remain at my desk.

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American poet/short story writer Edgar Allan Poe attended The Big Read Dearborn festivities in ‘cardboard spirit’.

He’s dead of course. The Poet! He’s been gone since October 7, 1849. Not sure about his ‘nevermore’ quipping raven. However, at this time of year, Poe and his fascination with the macabre and other mystical happenings often resurface in social media photos, quotes, and posts.

Last Tuesday, October 25, the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn, Michigan, USA, celebrated Poe’s literary contributions through the “Dreaming Dreams Author Meet and Greet” event. The BIG READ DEARBORN festivities included a welcome and a refreshment table plus readings by 18 of the over 150 contributors of the 454-page Poe-themed anthology. According to the event program, “All the proceeds (from book sales) go toward future community-wide reading events in Dearborn.” Definitely, a good cause to support.

Bravo to all the Big Read Dearborn partners and sponsors and contributors who made this project come alive!

My own contribution was small: a two and a half page poetic dream sequence inspired by Poe’s poem “The Raven” and a visit I took to Canatara Park in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada on January 30, 2013. At the time, the Carolinian Forest was losing its ash trees to the emerald ash borer and I was struck by the loss and how the fog was rolling in like Poe’s spirit from Lake Huron. This magical image or gift, as I like to call it, happens seldom, so I knew I had to record the sensation before the words dissipated back into the fog. The sighting of two crows (not ravens) stirred my imagination even more.

Now almost four years later, my Poe-inspired poem shares a home with other literary offerings in a beautiful anthology Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared to Dream Before. However, what made this journey to the Henry Ford Centennial Library even more special was that I had never stepped into this beautiful building before. If you are a visitor to the area, I strongly recommend that you stop by. The natural light from all the windows is especially noteworthy and I liked how parking was not an issue.

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The Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn, Michigan, USA.

Although, I’ve visited the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village on several occasions and even toured the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, I never knew that the library’s 15.3 acre property was deeded by the Ford Motor Company with construction of the memorial building made possible with a generous grant from the Ford Foundation. An additional grant helped with equipment and supplies.

Once inside the building, the first floor Rotunda area warmly welcomes visitors. On this occasion, Edgar Allan Poe stands life-size in ‘cardboard spirit’ for photo opportunities with emerging and established writers. The auditorium was also spacious and filled with spectators and readers. To sit in the audience and listen to all the writers (from the young fellow who needed some added help to reach the microphone to the retiree who shuffled to the podium) was inspiring. Creativity is alive and well. To single out just one or two works would be inappropriate as all the readers deserved applause. Overall the creative contributions rose from eight chapters: Celestial, Dreams, Ghost, Horror, Madness, Mystery, Poetry and Tribute.

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Eighteen contributors shared their work during the Dreaming Dreams Author Meet and Greet event held Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at the Henry Ford Centennial Library in Dearborn, Michigan.

If I may quote from the anthology’s back cover: “In this collection of Poe inspired stories and poems, you will find dreams (and nightmares), ghost stories, horrors, madness, mystery, imagination, and even some humor. Read these pages, and dream dreams never dreamt before.”

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“If ghost trees could speak in tongues…”

In the anthology’s introduction, Wolf Disner wrote: “The purpose of this collection is to honor him (Poe) and celebrate his works. Maybe it will even bring him back to life. Stranger things have happened. Trust me.”

If you are a writer, I hope you will keep your eyes open for such magical gifts and experiences. If you are a reader, keep reading….for reading opens up the imagination, takes you places and teaches you insights you may never have thought possible.

For additional information about the Henry Ford Centennial Library, check out their website.

For additional information about Big Read Dearborn and the Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared to Dream Before edited by Henry Fischer, Patty Podzikowski, Dan Lodge and Kathryn Takach ISBN 978-1-53529-090-6 click here. The anthology was published by the Dearborn Public Library as part of The Big Read Dearborn, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and managed by Arts Midwest.

*quote is from the poem “Meeting Poe in Canatara Park” by Debbie Okun Hill published in Dreaming Dreams No Mortal Ever Dared to Dream Before, page 403 Copyright © Debbie Okun Hill 2016 used with permission from the author.

Canadian Author Profile: Gloria Pearson-Vasey – Blends History with Fantasy

Now in plain view, Black Springs Abbey loomed before them, a neglected neo-gothic structure. Ivy wrapped itself protectively around the building’s pale yellow brick exterior, creeping across windows and partially obscuring ornate brackets under the roof’s projecting eaves. Third-storey dormer windows gazed blankly from the once-elegant mansard roof, slate tiles now faded and chipped. – Gloria Pearson-Vasey*

Canadian author Gloria Pearson-Vasey begins her new book Black Springs Abbey with the tires of a police cruiser crunching on gravel. Within one page, her storytelling hooks me.

“Was it some kind of ghost,” he said.

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen a person who fades in and out before.”*

Gloria Pearson-Vasey has published 9 books including Black Spring Abbey/ Early Days of Oil Springs, the double-book recently released with historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy.

Gloria Pearson-Vasey has published 9 books including Black Springs Abbey/ Early Days of Oil Springs, the double-book recently released with historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy.

Several pages later, the police officer drives Hilma down a twisted laneway where the protagonist catches her first glimpse of the abbey, a setting that plays a prominent role in this page-turning novel. Who lives in this abbey and what secrets lie hidden on its grounds? You’ll need to read this historical fantasy to find out.

A seasoned writer and a member of the Lambton Writers Association, Pearson-Vasey is the author of 9 published books: two speculative fiction, two literary fiction/mysteries, three non-fiction books and two historical fantasies including The Bells of Prosper Station and Black Springs Abbey. The latter is part of a double-book published with Early Days in Oil Springs, a historical fiction novel by Sarnia’s Bob McCarthy. The tête-bêche was launched last spring as a commemorative edition celebrating the sesquicentennial of The Village of Oil Springs. See more information about McCathy and the book here.

Gloria Pearson-Vasey’s book tour included a double-book signing, Saturday, May 9, 2015 at The Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ontario. Additional presentations are planned for the fall 2015.

Gloria Pearson-Vasey’s book tour included a double-book signing, Saturday, May 9, 2015 at The Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ontario. Additional presentations are planned for the fall 2015.

Earlier this month, Pearson-Vasey with McCarthy began a series of joint presentations at the Point Edward Library. Additional library presentations are planned for

Petrolia – Thursday, October 15 at 11 a.m.

Wyoming – Wednesday, November 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Courtright – Wednesday, November 18 at 7 p.m.

Watford – Monday, February 29 at 1:30 p.m.

I asked Pearson-Vasey to share her thoughts on her writing process. Below are her responses:      

(1) Describe your book. Why did you publish it?

Black Springs Abbey is an historical fantasy written to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Oil Springs, once known as Black Springs.

I was drawn into the fantasy genre by a creative writing group at LCCVI who set me wondering if the local oil heritage could translate into fantasy. Might the fumes from 19th century oil gushers, fires and nitroglycerine explosions cause some citizens to evolve into timeriders, psychic vampires or guardians?

The result became The Bells of Prosper Station and its sequel, Black Springs Abbey. In the first book, Azur Moonstorey and her companions exit the town library, board a midnight ghost train, and are transported to nineteenth-century Prosper Station (aka Petrolea). Their mission is to rescue Azur’s sister, Hilma, from the psychic vampire, Vek.

In Black Springs Abbey, Hilma is still beset by anxieties and insecurities five years after being rescued. Encouraged to take a position at a dilapidated abbey, she soon discovers that life at Black Springs Abbey can be as unsettling as she feared.

Black Springs Abbey/ Early Days of Oil Springs is a double-book, a tête-beche published by Quinn Riley Press, 2015.

Black Springs Abbey/ Early Days of Oil Springs is a double-book, a tête-beche published by Quinn Riley Press, 2015.

(2) What are you currently working on?

I’m in the final stages of editing my son’s book, Living in the Eye: Life with Autism. The process of updating Kevin’s past book, while integrating his more recent writings and convictions, proved to be more difficult than I’d expected. I hope I’ve done it justice.

At the same time, I’ve amused myself by doing research for my next novel. The characters and storyline are already taking shape although the genre remains a bit hazy. It will not be fantasy or speculative…maybe family saga with a touch of mystery.

(3) How does your work differ from other authors?

I’m a multi-genre author, and I get totally caught up in whatever I happen to be writing. Readers tell me that in both fiction and non-fiction, I have a lyrical voice. I suppose that my love of music, nature and literature contributes to that. Using words to paint scenes and settings can be incredibly satisfying.

(4) Why do you write the way you do? How does your writing process work?

I’m a storyteller, preferring fiction to non-fiction because it provides both adventure and escape from the mundane. And as storytellers do, I write to entertain. Often I weave contemporary issues (social justice, ecology, human foibles) into my novels. I like a story – be it speculative, literary, mystery or fantasy – to be authentic and to end on a note of hope. Before I ever settle down to write, I do months of preparation that includes endless research. I take photos and jot down random thoughts in note books. The anticipation is exciting!

Canadian author Gloria Pearson-Vasey

Canadian author Gloria Pearson-Vasey


Once I steel myself to begin writing seriously, I keep research notes and pictures close at hand for inspiration. In order to immerse myself into the development of characters and the setting in which they dwell, I need to be truly present to both. Blocks of time free from interruption are critical.

Usually I work from an outline with chapters briefly plotted out. As the story develops, the chapters change and move about. The more I write, the more the characters take over, often communicating to me while I sleep. Sometimes they force me to change course, eliminate whole chapters and add new ones.

(5) Is there anything you’d like to add? If so, please share with the readers.

Writing is hard work. Discipline is essential because many writing days, at least for me, start off slowly. But languor ultimately gives way to wisps of enlightenment which in turn grow into periods of happily flowing prose.

If you’re a writer, seek out readers to proof and critique your finished drafts. Be genuinely appreciative of everything they suggest and mull over their words of wisdom. Correct the typos they find and incorporate ideas for change when it feels right. Then follow your heart. It’s your book.

If you’re a reader, please remember that authors love feedback and honest reviews of their work.

Thanks Gloria for the interview.

Additional information about Pearson-Vasey can be found on her website/blog here.

Additional information about McCarthy can be found on his website.

*from the book Black Springs Abbey (Quinn Riley Press, 2015) epigraph from page 11, quoted dialogue from page 6. Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright ©2015 Gloria Pearson-Vasey

Watch this blog for additional Canadian Author and Poet Profiles.

 

 

A Canadian Author Profile: Bob McCarthy – A Fascination with Lambton County History

In a hushed voice, she said, “Now, imagine that the woman on trial today is your own mother or your own sister. Try to picture in your mind your own mother or sister being mistreated, suffering for so many years, forced to accept such abuse almost from the day of her birth. If you or no one else did anything to prevent this, would not your mother or sister, forced to live under these conditions, eventually break and knowingly or unknowingly act or react in order to protect the children involved, to break out of this horrible cycle.” – Bob McCarthy

Early Days of Oil Springs/Black Springs Abbey is a double-book, a tête-beche published by Quinn Riley Press, 2015.

Early Days of Oil Springs/Black Springs Abbey is a double-book, a tête-beche published by Quinn Riley Press, 2015.

Sarnia’s historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy writes and publishes books faster than I can read them. With 11 self-published books behind him, he’ll soon be launching Generations, a new historical novella. However, first he will be touring numerous Lambton County libraries, sharing his historical knowledge and promoting his most recent project, a reprint of Early Days in Oil Springs, a commemorative edition celebrating the sesquicentennial of The Village of Oil Springs. The double-book also includes a novel Black Springs Abbey by Petrolia-author Gloria Pearson-Vasey. (Her profile will be shared in the near future.)

Local historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy is touring the Lambton County area with his commemorative edition of his historical novel Early Days in Oil Springs.

Local historical fiction writer Bob McCarthy is touring the Lambton County area with his commemorative edition of his historical novel Early Days in Oil Springs.

Before I continue, I need to disclose that McCarthy and I have been writing friends for almost a decade. Although he is not a poet and my interest in history was soured by the dry presentations of my high school history teachers, we have a mutual respect for each other’s work.

“I only like rhyming poetry,” he admits with a big grin on his face. I laugh because it’s a standing joke between us. I seldom include end rhymes in my work. He often injects humour into his conversations and presentations.

As a retired high school teacher turned writer, McCarthy makes history (especially Lambton County facts) come alive. Although he is best known as a regional writer, he wrote his book Case 666 – Travesty of Justice – The Elizabeth Workman Story to appeal to a wider audience. As stated in this book: “The story of Elizabeth Workman is of national interest, a story about the only woman in Canadian history to be executed after being found guilty of a crime, even though the jury strongly recommended clemency.”

One of McCarthy’s strengths is his ability to promote his work and the work of other writers. He cares about people and recently created a new writers’ workshop group “Writers Helping Writers (WHW)” held Monday afternoons at the Point Edward Library. The open group is composed of writers who are serious about having their work torn apart and edited by fellow scribes. Mutual respect and laughter is encouraged.

He is also a regular reader at Sarnia’s Spoken Word event held the last Friday of every month at the Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.

Earlier this month, Bob was one of four featured readers at the Saturday, October 3rd Bluewater Reading Series event.

Bob McCarthy’s book tour included a double-book signing, Saturday, May 9, 2015 at The Book Keeper. Additional presentations are planned for the fall 2015

Bob McCarthy’s book tour included a double-book signing, Saturday, May 9, 2015 at The Book Keeper. Additional presentations are planned for the fall 2015

Future joint presentations with Pearson-Vasey have been scheduled for five Lambton County Librairies:

Point Edward -Wednesday, October 7 at 10 a.m.

Petrolia – Thursday, October 15 at 11 a.m.

Wyoming – Wednesday, November 18 at 1:30 p.m.

Courtright – Wednesday, November 18 at 7 p.m.

Watford – Monday, February 29 at 1:30 p.m.

I asked McCarthy to share his thoughts on his writing process. Below are his responses:          

(1) Describe your book. Why did you publish it?   

This year is the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the Village of Oil Springs. I wondered what it was like in the mid 1800’s in the mosquito ridden swamps of Enniskillen, who I might have met in the bog a century and a half ago? Early Days in Oil Springs is a retelling of the years from 1858 to 1863, the era of the Tripp brothers, James Miller Williams, Hugh Nixon Shaw, John Shaw, John Henry Fairbank, Robert McBride and others. I wanted to narrate a novel about the first days of oil, a story about the lives of real people who were a part of the historical past of Lambton County.

Since 2001, Bob McCarthy has self-published 11 books including two illustrated short-story anthologies by Lambton County children and Early Days of Oil Springs/Black Springs Abbey the double-book recently leased with Gloria Pearson-Vasey

Since 2001, Bob McCarthy has self-published 11 books including two illustrated short-story anthologies by Lambton County children and Early Days of Oil Springs/Black Springs Abbey the double-book recently released with Gloria Pearson-Vasey

Early Days in Oil Springs is an account based on a few facts and a gusher of imagination.

Why did you decide to publish it as a double book with another author?

When I found out Gloria (Pearson-Vasey) was writing a fantasy about Oil Springs, we decided to combine our two stories into one book, a double-book, a tête-beche, to commemorate the sesquicentennial of Oil Springs.

(2) What are you currently working on?

CASE 666-Travesty of Justice, a novel I wrote in 2013, is the story of a woman convicted of murdering her husband. Elizabeth Workman, a battered woman, was hanged, in spite of the jury’s strong recommendation for mercy. While trying to locate living descendants, I found a great-great-great-granddaughter, also a battered woman, sexually abused as a child and subjected to both mental and physical abuse as a wife.

My next book, Generations, written as historical fiction, will explore a possible story of the impact of nature and nurture on the descendants of Elizabeth Workman’s two children.

Bob McCarthy writes and publishes books faster than I can read them.

Bob McCarthy writes and publishes books faster than I can read them.

(3) How does your work differ from other authors?

When I am writing a story, I gather known facts, lore or legend and try to imagine how they came about. Then I create characters to hopefully present these facts in an entertaining, interesting and informative manner. I usually write by dictating through Dragon Naturally Speaking, letting my imaginary characters take over and tell the story. Then, it’s on to editing.

Thanks Bob for the interview.

 Additional information about Bob McCarthy can be found on his website.

*from the book CASE 666 – Travesty of Justice – The Elizabeth Workman Story (Quinn Riley Press, 2013) page 164. Reprinted with the author’s permission: Copyright ©2013 Bob McCarthy

Watch this blog for additional Canadian Author Profiles including one on Gloria Pearson-Vasey. Her website/blog appears here.

 

 

In Winnipeg, Three Cheers for the Book Marketing Wizards at McNally Robinson

“Books launched at McNally Robinson often catapult to our local best-sellers list.” – statement from the McNally Robinson Booksellers website

In a few short months, I’ve fallen in love with McNally Robinson Booksellers, an indie bookstore located in Grant Park Mall, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Call it a long distance friendship, an admiration for a company that understands the value of customer service.

Guest readers Brenda Hasiuk, Brenda Sciberras, and Carmelo Militano with Tarnished Trophies author Debbie Okun Hill at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg.

Guest readers Brenda Hasiuk, Brenda Sciberras, and Carmelo Militano with Tarnished Trophies author Debbie Okun Hill during a recent launch celebration at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg.

Perhaps all indie bookstores have this same charm. The Book Keeper in Sarnia, Ontario certainly works close with its local literary community and the owner Susan Chamberlain often brings in authors from out-of-town. You expect this with smaller centres but I was pleased that the “Friendly Manitoba” license plate slogan extended to this McNally Robinson retail store located in a major Canadian city with a population of over 700,000* people.

The best part of launching a book in your hometown is seeing friends and family you haven’t seen in a long time.

The best part of launching a book in your hometown is seeing friends and family you haven’t seen in a long time.

I shouldn’t have been surprised but I had forgotten how warm and rich in spirit this community could be. Yes, I was heading home to my prairie roots where my grandparents sowed potatoes for a living and where I first penned editorials for a high school newspaper. What happened to some of those familiar faces in my yearbook, my university friends who continued on when I took some time off, my college classmates and colleagues I worked with in the public relations field?

Like the Red River, memories of smiling friends and relatives flowed through my mind. Many of us still corresponded. Would any of them be interested in a combined reunion/launch/celebration of my first poetry book? When I asked their opinions, the name ‘McNally’ kept rolling off their tongues.

Familiar faces...

Familiar faces…

I hadn’t considered working with a large bookstore. At first my thoughts circled around a local library or a church hall because many Canadian bookstores don’t carry poetry collections from unknown poets. Selling a poetry book with a sport theme is rather challenging like trying to place a basketball in a hoop when your eyes are glued closed. Not all athletes like poetry. Not all poets like sports. Not everyone wants to wander into arenas to discuss competition, bullying, ageing, and even suicide.

John Toews, Event Coordinator, McNally Robinson Booksellers received an honourary membership from the League of Canadian Poets during a joint conference with The Writers Union of Canada in late May 2015. Congratulations! Photo by Okun Hill

John Toews, Event Coordinator, McNally Robinson Booksellers received an honourary membership from the League of Canadian Poets during a joint conference with The Writers Union of Canada in late May 2015. Congratulations! Photo by Okun Hill

However, McNally’s on-line marketing material razzle-dazzled me and the rest is history.  Bravo to McNally Robinson’s event coordinator John Toews and his book marketing wizards who did an amazing job. This is what impressed me and this is why I would recommend McNally’s to others. Feel free to use the guidelines for evaluating launch options in other parts of the country.

McNally’s has a Winnipeg event coordinator who coordinates almost everything. Talk about placing your trust into someone else’s hands. John Toews was friendly, patient, efficient, organized and a great listener. He made you feel like your event was special even though McNally is host to one or two book launches or events a day.

They are experienced. If you don’t believe me, see how many events they plan in a week, in a month, in a year.

They know the Winnipeg market! When the event coordinator heard I had moved away from Manitoba, he strongly suggested that I find some local writers to read with. This was one of the best suggestions I’d receive. Not only did I meet several local writers in the process but I was equally impressed by the local publisher Turnstone Press as well as Manitoba poet Carmelo Militano who accepted this outsider/stranger and made me feel welcome in this literary community.

Check out these Manitoba authors and their books Morning After You, Boy Lost in Wild,  and Magpie Days.

Check out these Manitoba authors and their books Morning After You, Boy Lost in Wild, and Magpie Days.

They started marketing the event immediately! As soon as the launch date was booked, information was posted on McNally’s calendar of events.

They are strong social media users. McNally has a large following with over 2900 likes on Facebook and 6300 followers on Twitter. What a great way to communicate with readers. For those who prefer newsletters, they also have an extensive mailing list.

They submit promotional material to the media. They have updated contact lists that would take days to prepare if you had to do it yourself.

They create posters and book displays. Imagine seeing your event notice posted prominently on their bulletin boards and stacks of your books displayed to customers as soon as they walked into the store.

McNally Robinson Booksellers are experts in organizing book signings and readings.

McNally Robinson Booksellers are experts in organizing book signings and readings.

They offer catering on location through their in-store restaurant Prairie Ink Restaurant. A variety of food and refreshments are available as an optional feature for your event.

They are honest! When I sought advice for food and refreshments, they told me my order was too large. They were right. The portions were generous. Even after downsizing my order, I still had many leftovers which my family enjoyed for days afterwards.

They share some of the expenses. Not all services are free, but the cost of a basic plan for the author is minimal ($25) and is good value for all the work that they do.

Kristian Enright, author of sonar (Turnstone Press, 2012) was emcee.

Kristian Enright, author of sonar (Turnstone Press, 2012) was emcee for the May 25 event.

Extra help is provided free during the event. Not only do they supply the chairs, mic, podium, signing table, posters, but someone can also be assigned to emcee the event.

They pay attention to little details. For example, they provide water for the guest readers and use their company name on the podium as well as logos displayed in a prominent location near the readers.

They are team players. They are problem-solvers and work well with numerous personalities.

They deliver results! What a nice surprise to not only see family and friends at the event but also strangers in the audience. For me, the smiling faces made it all worth it. McNally’s and my publisher Black Moss Press must have also been happy. For the week of May 31, 2015 my sport-themed poetry book Tarnished Trophies was ranked fifth in the Paperback Fiction category of McNally’s Winnipeg Bestsellers list.  Imagine a poetry book listed in the fiction category!!

Three weeks ago, the Winnipeg launch of Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) was held Monday, May 25 at McNally Robinson Bookseller, Grant Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. For the week of May 31, the book was ranked fifth in the Paperback Fiction category of McNally’s Winnipeg Bestsellers list.

The Winnipeg launch of Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) was held Monday, May 25 at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Grant Park Mall, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. For the week of May 31, the book was ranked fifth in the Paperback Fiction category of McNally’s Winnipeg Bestsellers list.

Special thanks to McNally Robinson Booksellers and everyone in the audience and behind the scenes who made this Winnipeg launch a highlight of my Manitoba visit! Special thanks to guest readers Brenda H., Brenda S. and Carmelo! Also thank you to my cousin T. G. Holmes who captured so many memories with his cameras. Some of these photos have been displayed on this blog. Others will be shared privately with the guests.

Finally, because I love to play with words:

If Dorothy (from the Wizard of Oz) played hockey with the Winnipeg Jets, she might have clacked her red skates together and cheered, “There’s no place like home ice”. If she played baseball with the Winnipeg Goldeyes, she might have shouted, “There’s no rush like a home run.”  Hmmmm, sometimes it just feels good to be back home in Manitoba.

Back home in Manitoba.

Back home in Manitoba.

Additional information about the photographer T. G. (Todd) Holmes can be found here.

Additional information about the May 25 readers (Brenda Hasiuk, Debbie Okun Hill, Carmelo Militano, and Brenda Sciberras ) and their work and publishers can be found here.                      

Information about booking an event at McNally Robinson Booksellers can be found here.

McNally Robinson Booksellers, Grant Park hosts literary events and launches on a regular basis. See here.

*Population stats prepared by The City of Winnipeg and retrieved from here.

What Do The Words ‘Beatlemania’ and ‘Second Pregnancy’ Have In Common?

 If you guessed that ‘Beatlemania’ and ‘Second Pregnancy’ will be spotlighted in an upcoming literary event in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, then you are absolutely right!!!  Check out the media release that just crossed  my desk….

AWARD-WINNING POET JOHN B. LEE TO PRESENT NEW BOOK ON BEATLEMANIA

Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press) selected and compiled by John B. Lee.

Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press) selected and edited by John B. Lee.

John B. Lee, the Poet Laureate of Brantford and one of Canada’s most prolific poets will travel to Sarnia to join three other award-winning writers for this fall’s Bluewater Reading Series event Saturday, November 8 from 3 to 5 p.m. at John’s Restaurant “Famous Room”, 1643 London Line. His reading will focus on two new books Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook Press), a commemorative anthology on this British rock band’s invasion into North America and Burning My Father (Black Moss Press), a poetic reflection on Lee’s life as a farmer’s son.

Burning My Father (Black Moss Press, 2014) by John B. Lee

Burning My Father (Black Moss Press, 2014), a poetic reflection on John B. Lee’s life as a farmer’s son.

Lee will be joined by three other readers: League of Canadian Poets member and former Black Moss Press editor Vanessa Shields (Windsor, Ontario), and local award-winning writers Diana Koch and Grace Vermeer. Shields and Vermeer will be reading in Sarnia for the first time.

“We are excited about the calibre of authors reading for this free public event,” said Venera Fazio, committee spokesperson for the Series. “Not only will we be featuring professional out-of-town writers with emerging local talent but the afternoon will offer a varied program of fiction, poetry, memoir and humour.”

Lee, who is also the Poet Laureate of Norfolk County, is the author of seventy plus published books.  His work has appeared internationally in over 500 magazines, literary journals and anthologies.  A two-time recipient of the CBC Literary Award for poetry, he has won over eighty prestigious literary awards for his work.

Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy: a memoir (Black Moss Press, 2011) by Vanessa Shields

Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy: a memoir (Black Moss Press, 2011) by Vanessa Shields

Shields is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada and will be reading from her humourous memoir Laughing Through a Second Pregnancy as well as her new poetry collection I Am That Woman. Both books were published by Black Moss Press. She is also the anthology editor of Whisky Sour City, a Windsor-themed anthology. She has received two Judge’s Choice Awards for her poetry from The Ontario Poetry Society (of which she is also a member). Her most recent interviews with writer/astronaut Chris Hadfield have her feeling out-of-this-world in her writing life!

“Local writers Koch and Vermeer may be fresh new voices,” said Fazio, “but they are already being recognized by various literary organizations.”

Koch won first place in the Ten Stories High Short Story Contest (Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association). She will be reading from her recently completed manuscript The Button Girl: a historical fiction/coming of age story that is set in World War II, Germany.

I Am That Woman (Black Moss Press, 2013) a collection of poems by Vanessa Shields

I Am That Woman (Black Moss Press, 2013) a collection of poems by Vanessa Shields

Vermeer is the winner of numerous Ontario Poetry Society awards plus the Monica Ladell & Juror’s Choice Awards from the Scarborough Arts Big Art Book 2014. She will read a selection of new and previously published work.

The Bluewater Reading Series is a new literary offering organized by Sarnia writers: James Deahl, Venero Fazio, Debbie Okun Hill, Norma West Linder, and Lynn Tait. The organizers acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and The League of Canadian Poets. The emcee for the November 8 event will be Sarnia’s award-winning poet/photographer Lynn Tait.

CCFA_RGB_colour_fThe League of Canadian Poets new_logo_2

SPOTLIGHT READERS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

Diana Koch

Diana Koch

Diana Koch is a retired educator who lives on the beautiful shore of Lake Huron. She graduated from the University of Western Ontario and also holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Windsor. Since childhood she has dreamed of becoming a writer and now spends many pleasurable hours writing short stories, essays and poetry. Her efforts have been rewarded with the winning of a first prize for one of her stories and by the publication of some of her work. She has recently completed her first novel, a historical fiction/coming of age story set in WWII, Germany.

 

John B. Lee

John B. Lee

John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County is the author of seventy plus published books. His work has appeared internationally in over 500 magazines, literary journals and anthologies.  Two time recipient of the CBC Literary Award for poetry, he has won over eighty prestigious literary awards for his work. The most recent of his titles include Burning My Father, (Black Moss Press, 2014); In This We Hear the Light (poems by John B. Lee with photographs of Cuba by Tai Grove) (Hidden Brook Press, 2014); the anthology Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania, (Hidden Brook Press, 2014), and forthcoming in 2015/2016 Alice Munro a Souwesto Celebration (a special issue of Windsor Review dedicated to Nobel Laureate Alice Munro co-edited by J.R. (Tim) Struthers and John B. Lee); The Beauty of Being Elsewhere (the travel poems of John B. Lee) (Hidden Brook Press, 2015); and The Full Measure (Black Moss Press, 2016).  He lives in a lake house in Port Dover overlooking Longpoint Bay on the south coast of Lake Erie where he works full time as an author.

 

Vanessa Shields (Photo Credit: Katie Hawkins)

Vanessa Shields (Photo Credit: Katie Hawkins)

Vanessa Shields has made her home, her family and her work life flourish in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She discovered her passion for writing at a very young age by keeping a journal. Her first book, Laughing Through A Second Pregnancy – A Memoir, was published by Black Moss Press in 2011 to rave reviews. In April 2013, Shields edited a poetry anthology entitled, Whisky Sour City (Black Moss Press). I Am That Woman, her first book of poetry, was published in January 2014, also by Black Moss Press. Her poetry, short stories and photography have been published in various literary magazines. She mentors other writers, guest speaks and teaches creative writing. She also does Poetry On Demand, on-the-spot poetry that helps make poetry fun and accessible for all.

 

Grace Vermeer

Grace Vermeer

Eleven years ago, Grace Vermeer crossed the Bluewater Bridge to take a Creative Writing class at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron, Michigan.  She hadn’t planned on writing poetry and credits Professor Cliff Johnson for fostering her love of poetry and encouraging her early efforts which won the Eleanor B. Mathews Award.  She attended Western where her poetry won the Lillian Kroll Prize in Creative Writing.  Recently her poems appeared in Scarborough Arts Big Art Book 2014 where she was awarded the Monica Ladell Prize.  She lives in Sarnia with her husband Peter and feels lucky to be part of Sarnia’s After Hours Poets.