BRITISH COLUMBIA’S MAGAZINE FOR WRITERS
WINTER 2015 $4.95
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Shaleeta Harper Quiet Creation
Moira Gardner Writing for the Young
Coco Aders-Weremczuk The President’s Pen
Katherine Wagner A Writing Circle
Shaleeta Harper Illustrators in BC
Jodie Renner 20 Tips for Writing...
Lana Hill Valerie B- Taylor
Lynn Foster 8 Tools to Help...
Carol Sokoloff Jess Speaks Up
Coco Aders-Weremczuk S.I.W.F.
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Roger N. LeSage Rat Race
Maya Greier Code
Loreena Lee Illustration
Kristen Small Not My Body
Naomi Beth Wakan Poetry & Young People
Sheila Rosen Most of All Not Water
Letters to the Federation
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WordWorks is published quarterly, distributed by mail to members of the FBCW who request it, and is fully accessible digitally on the FBCW website, bcwriters.ca.
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CONTRIBUTORS Carol Sokoloff
Carol Ann Sokoloff is a Peabody award-winning Victoria, BC writer, editor, songwriter and jazz vocalist. The author of books in several genres including children’s (Colours Everywhere You Go, Anything You Want to Be), poetry (Eternal Lake O’Hara, A Light Unbroken) and metaphysics (New Sufi Songs and Dances), she also released the jazz CD “Let Go!” containing original songs in the style of jazz standards. Carol teaches “Writing for Children” and “Write Now!, a creative writing survey,” through the University of Victoria’s Continuing Studies department. She works as an editor at the literary publishing house, Ekstasis Editions
Loreena Lee has a background in visual arts, which she taught for 35 years. Her paintings hang in corporations and private collections in North American and Europe. She has written textbooks, biographies and made instructional videos. Her essays and short stories have been published in several venues. She also illustrates, for both children’s books and other genres. She has three published novels and an illustrated cookbook. She lives in Abbotsford, BC.
Kristen Small was born and raised in Creston B.C. She is a world traveler who has lived in Bangkok, Kelowna, and currently resides in Surrey B.C. With a BSc. degree in biology, Kristen enjoys incorporating elements of science into her writing. She is excited to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an author.
Andrea McKenzie Raine
Andrea McKenzie Raine was born in Smithers, BC and grew up in Victoria, BC where she still resides with her husband and two young sons. She earned a B.A. in English Literature at the University of Victoria in 2000. She has attended the successful Planet Earth Poetry reading series in Victoria, BC since 1997, and participated in the Glenairley writing retreats led by Canadian poet and novelist Patrick Lane in Sooke, BC. She is the author of a poetry book titled A Mother’s String published by Ekstasis Editions and two novels titled Turnstiles and A Crowded Heart published by Inkwater Press.
Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 2
Ben Nuttal Smith
Publications: historical novel – Blood, Feathers & Holy Men, Libros Libertad, 2011, an autobiographical novel, Secrets Kept / Secrets Told, Libros Libertad, 2012, several books of poetry including A Moment in Eternity and Postcards, Silver Bow Publishing 2013, Flying With White Eagle, a biography of pioneer homesteader and bush pilot Pat Carey, as well as two illustrated children’s books. Ben’s poems and short stories have appeared in national and international magazines, anthologies and online publications. Awards include The Surrey Board of Trade Special Achievement Award in 2011 for outstanding service.
Moira Gardener, a native Calgarian, lives on Vancouver Island. She’s published locally in Seaside Magazine, Seniors Living, and the e-zine Life as a Human. In 2014 she won a Fairy Tale writing contest, and co-authored parenting articles. She is currently working on a pre-teen chapter book. Her interest for children’s literature began in 1986 with a Diploma in Writing for Children and Teens. She’s completed 2 years of a BGS and in 2015 finished a certificate in Writing Children’s Stories. She is a child at heart who loves children’s books.
Naomi Beth Wakan
Naomi Beth Wakan has written more than forty books, including The Way of Haiku, A Roller-coaster Ride (Thoughts on Aging), Sex After Seventy, And After 80…, and A Gabriola Year. Naomi is the Poet Laureate of the city of Nanaimo, and her most recent book, is A Gabriola Notebook. Her essays and poetry have appeared in Resurgence, Geist magazine, Room of One’s Own, Kansai Time Out and Far East Journal. She has read her work on CBC radio.
Sheila Rosen is a poet living in Burnaby BC. Her development in the craft of poetry has been assisted by Burnaby Writers Society, Regent College, poetry retreats with Patrick Lane and Richard Osler. She has self-printed several chapbooks and has one published book of poetry: Silence, The Breaking Of It.
Jodie Renner is a freelance fiction editor and the award-winning author of three craft-of-writing guides in her series An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Captivate Your Readers, Fire up Your Fiction, and Writing a Killer Thriller. She has also published two clickable time-saving e-resources to date: Quick Clicks: Spelling List and Quick Clicks: Word Usage, and compiled and edited two anthologies, including Voices from the Valleys – Stories & Poems about Life in BC. You can find Jodie at JodieRenner. com, JodieRennerEditing.com, her blog, jodierennerediting.blogspot.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Katherine (KT) Wagner writes science fiction, Gothic horror and steampunk with occasional forays into other genres and her garden. Several of her short stories are published. She lives in Maple Ridge, organizes Golden Ears Writers, is the Federation of BC Writers area rep for Maple Ridge to Coquitlam, and attended SFU’s Southbank Writers program in 2013 and The Writers’ Studio in 2015. Online she can be found at www.northernlightsgothic.com
Coco holds a BA in Modern Languages and a MA in Communications and Media Technology from UBC; was vice-president of a film production company in Vancouver; wrote and produced scripts; acted in film; and for over 10 years her column, “Anastasia’s Annotations,” was published in international and national dog magazines. She has won numerous awards for her photography.
Roger N. LeSage
Roger Lesage has a career in training and developing adult learners. He also has an MA in adult education, but he never out grew his love for children’s stories.He is slowly collecting a series of poems and novel length books for middle grade readers.
Lynn Foster Lana Hill Maya Greier
EDITORIALS & OPINIONS
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Quiet Creation SHALEETA HARPER
aiting for the bus, the air seems to crack every time I breathe. The bench is too glazed with frost to bother sitting; and I’m focused on staying absolutely still, so my legs don’t touch my pant legs. It’s cold, and being outside frankly sucks. I’m headed home. This is the season of indoors, of reading and writing huddled in a nest of throw blankets. For those with children, it’s time to spend nights huddled over books, explaining the quietness of mice, or the shrewdness of wolves. For me, this is the time of quiet creation. For several weeks before this magazine found itself in your hands, I was on my couch with my laptop, editing and designing its pages until I was seeing square lights when I looked away, and enjoying every minute of it. It’s worth going cross-eyed for a day, for the chance to read all of the high-quality submissions from our members, and to work with some of the best writers, copyeditors
and proofreaders in BC throughout its creation. Mostly, this magazine is worth any small struggle because of what it brings to our community of writers. This glossy slip of papers and staples is a tangible voice of and for BC Writers. It speaks out about our society, and brings up an opportunity for learning and for teaching. This is proof that we’re here to help each other, and to improve ourselves. This season, as everything becomes quiet and still, we’re focusing on the loud and brazen—the young. Whether they’re beginning their journey in writing, or we’re starting them on the path to reading, they are an integral piece to our society of writers. Nurturing young potential writers is how we know this legacy of words that we’re working so hard to construct will mean something in the decades to come. Those Lilliputian people reading books with just a dozen words between the pages
could be the ones who will fill up a creative writing class, or teach at our universities, or construct the next great classic novel. Even if they’re not any of those things, the act of encouragement benefits everyone involved. At the least, they will appreciate the written word. I want to also commend children’s writers as a whole—The act of writing as simply and clearly as possible, while remaining engaging enough to inspire interest in children is a challenge that you have taken on, and obviously excelled at. To everyone else, consider nurturing a child or youth this winter by reading with them, or creating words for them. Start early with them, the next generation of writers. As the cold tries to seep in my doorways, and I reach home, I look forward to my warm couch, and to relaxing and reading long after the sun has been put to bed. Enjoy this issue of WordWorks.
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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS
THE PRESIDENT’S PEN Holidays, Bygones, and Books COCO ADERS-WEREMCZUK
ell, the weather outside has become frightfully cold and the fire inside is delightful, so I’m going to curl up in a chair, with the flames in the fireplace dancing reflections on the wall, a cup of hot cocoa on the table beside me, and contentedly enjoy my copy of WordWorks, Winter 2015. This publication has aptly been themed “writing for and by children” because Christmas really is for the children. Each year my grandparents gave their little girl, my mother, several beautiful books, among them The Girls Own Annual. It was the hardcover version, the amalgamation of the English magazine published weekly by a company called Women’s Magazine and it was full of stories of adventure, mystery and mayhem, all the things proper girls at English boarding schools loved. It was chock-full of articles on handicrafts, hobbies, science, sports and travel. My mother always spent Christmas Day reading about the escapades of mad-cap Pam, the leader of the Sixth Form, as well as far-away places and safety with camping trip cook-outs, or the proper way to take a horse around the dressage ring in the morning and knit a capelet in the afternoon to wear to the theatre in the evening. It was a veritable Martha Stewart Manual before Martha Stewart even thought of it. I always found it strange, however, that the subscription to the magazine was considerably more costly than the final hard-bound, cloth edition with coloured jacket, gold lettering on the spine, and black and white and colour illustrations throughout. Even though money was scarce during The Great Depression, my mother always looked forward to one of these wonderful permanent copies which we still display on our bookshelves some 70 years later! Being a product of the television era, I did not have the same voracious desire to read, yet over the Christmas holidays Mom would pull out one of her books and together we would explore the 700 plus pages of faraway places and fun things to do. My best friend in grade seven was confident she was going to be a doctor, so we followed the directions in one Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 4
of these special Christmas books and spent hours learning how to roll bandages or apply a tourniquet to prevent someone from bleeding to death who had lost—shriek horrors—a leg during the bombing! Not exactly things two little girls in the 70’s needed to learn! Now with the onset of cold weather, an e-reader just doesn’t hold the romance of a beautifully illustrated tangible book. Last week, turning the slightly yellowed pages of A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Moore, I was transported back to my childhood when my whole life was ahead of me and everything was possible. It was a magical time. Come read with me: …When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer. With Christmas fast on our heels as I write this, I’m trying to figure out what I can give a generation who is umbilically connected to electronic devices. Toys will be broken in no time, but perhaps a few good old-fashioned books under the tree will be just perfect. Maybe I can give them something timeless that they, too, will never forget: He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!” I hope you have had a wonderful, happy, Holiday Season. My best to you all!
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ILLUSTRATORS IN BC Resources for Childrens writers
Loraine Kemp lorainekemp.com Sheena Lott sheenalott.com Dean Griffiths deans-art.com Mike Deas deasillustration.com Joan Larson joanlarson.com
Carol Ann Shaw carolanneshaw.com Glen Huser glenhuser.com Chris Tougas christougas.com Kristi Bridgeman kristibridgeman.com Loreena Lee dragonlee.ca
Bernice Ramsdin-Firth ramsdinfirth.com cwill.bc.ca Is the website for the Childrens Writers and Illustrators of British Columbia Society. They keep a list of both authors and illustrators, as well as other topical information.
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EDITORIALS & OPINIONS
VALERIE B- TAYLOR As We Remember Her LANA HILL
t the time of her unexpected death in October 2014 Valerie B- Taylor had edited, published and recently launched her much-loved final production of the book, Saving Seeds: A Collection by New West Writers. Valerie was past president and facilitator of New West Writers’ organization, founder and facilitator of Renaissance Book Writers, host and presenter for Metro Author Book Launches and Events, Federation of BC Writers Area Representative for New Westminster, and Literary advisor to Surrey Muse, a writers’ collective. In 2013, Valerie was the recipient of the Writer’s International Network (WIN) Canada’s Best Distinguished Writer/Poet and Dr. Bhargava Memorial Award. Previously as a documentary writer and producer, Valerie was the recipient of five prestigious national and international
awards for the documentary Born Too Soon (1989). Both this and the companion documentary Victims of Addiction (1989) are currently being used as teaching aids in institutions across North America. As a naturally gifted and hard working writer, Valerie loved the process of doing research, whatever the subject. She took on issues that concerned her personally, as a woman; socially, as an active community member; spiritually, as a person open to the beliefs and possibilities of the universe — known and unknown! Her commitment to writing was a constant passion and her enthusiasm for writers drew many to become involved as well. Every writer’s efforts for improvement and success of a piece were celebrated and sincere, whether it be for a memoir, poem or novel. Every writer received Valerie’s positive encouragement.
As a mentor and facilitator for many groups, Valerie modeled a writer with passion, commitment to excellence, an open mind to learning and—perhaps most important and valued—an always ready sense of humour! Her practice emphasized that writers understand that critiques are not to criticise the written work or the writer, but to offer constructive feedback to support both. A favourite memory is of a morning of critique feedback: the group was duly intent on considering grammar, sentence structure, dangling modifiers, and any number of serious issues of form and function, when someone pointed out that a word in a poem was not, in fact, an actual, conventional word. Valerie’s innate insight, creative interpretation, and sense of fun responded immediately with, “Well if it wasn’t a word before… it is now!” followed with her hearty laughter. —
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Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 8
WRITTEN FOR THE YOUNG
JESS SPEAKS UP CAROL SOKOLOFF
kay girls, give us some breakfast,” Jess sang as she bent down to enter the chicken coop. Why did she have to live on a farm, and why was it always her job to get the eggs? The chickens looked at her with anxious eyes. They know I’m here to steal their babies, Jess thought. “I don’t want to get the eggs anymore,” she declared when she returned to the warm farmhouse kitchen. “I’m feeling sorry for the chickens. How would you like it if someone stole and ate your babies?” she asked no one in particular. “Oh Jess,” her Mom replied. “We couldn’t possibly hatch all those chickens. We only keep chickens for the eggs. You like eating them as much as anyone.” “I suppose, but why am I always the one who has to collect them? Why not Brian or Lacey? I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it. I’m not doing it.” “We live on a farm, Jess,” her Mother said, mixing up a batch of muffins. “Everyone has to help. What would you rather do?” “I’d rather not live on a farm,” sulked Jess. “That’s not a decision I had any control over.” “Come on, Jess,” her Mom sighed. “Everyone is born somewhere. You were born on a farm. Think of all the good things about it.” Jess thought hard and couldn’t think of anything about the farm she liked. She had to get up early every day and do chores before school. After school there were more chores. Her Mom and Dad had always wanted a farm, and bought one just before Jess was born. But that was their dream. It wasn’t anything Jess wanted and there was nothing she could do about it. It simply wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that parents got to control things and kids were at the mercy of their decisions. Jess was ten now. She loved her
Mom and Dad and even her little brother and sister, but she was already counting the days until she could finish school and leave the farm. * “I’m going to go live in a big city. New York or Paris,” Jess told her friend Eleanor, the next day at school. “I want to be able to go sit in cafes, and see plays and go to art galleries – all the things we can’t do on the farm.” Eleanor’s eyes widened in surprise. “I think the city is scary,” said Eleanor, as she munched an egg salad sandwich at lunch. “It’s noisy and dirty and kind of dangerous.” “That’s just what I like about it,” laughed Jess. “There’s nothing to do here and no time to do it anyway. It’s not fair. Think of those kids in the city. They study ballet and go to skateparks, see movies every week and get to ride subways to the mall. What do we do? Feed the animals, day after day. There’s got to be more to life than that.” * After school that day, Jess’ Mom asked for help with the laundry. As they folded the sheets together her Mom said, “Jess, I know that you are not very happy here on the farm.” “Oh, so you figured that out,” Jess mumbled. “Dad and I thought that maybe you would like to spend some time with Aunt Flora in Vancouver. Maybe over the spring break you could stay with her and Uncle Walter. Your cousin Serena is almost your age and you two get along well. You both enjoy art and I’m told there’s a special program at the art gallery there. In the summer Serena can come and stay on the farm.” “That would be amazing,” said Jess. Her cousin Serena was everything that Jess wished she could be. She studied violin at the Conservatory and was already playing in concerts. Aunt Flora was a graphic
designer who dressed with a wonderful style and Uncle Walter worked for the newspaper. Jess often wished that she had been born into that family instead of her own, although she really did love her parents and didn’t actually want to trade them. * “I’m spending spring break in Vancouver,” Jess told Eleanor as they walked to the lunch room the next day. “That’s great, Jess. What will you do?” Eleanor asked. “I’ll stay with my cousin and her family. They’ve got this cute little townhouse right by the beach, close to the stores and cafes. We’ll do an art program right at the Vancouver Art Gallery all week. How cool is that?” “Your dreams are coming true,” said Eleanor, as they plonked themselves down at the table. Jess reflected that sometimes a person just had to ask for what they wanted. Even though you couldn’t always control every part of your life, sometimes just letting others know about your wishes could make a difference. * When Jess got home that afternoon, she gave her Mom a hug. “Don’t worry, Mom. You’ve got a lot to do. I’ll get the eggs. I bet those chickens are missing me.”
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WRITTEN FOR THE YOUNG
RAT RACE ROGER N. LESAGE
he world is a very big place, but the five laboratory rats had only lived in the university laboratory. All day they ran through mazes for scientists. They turned left, then right, then left. Their reward was a chunk of cheddar cheese. At night the rats talked about the outside world. Pellet heard of monsters called cats. Professor Camembert believed the human world would be a fascinating study. Sneakers read there were many different cheeses. Ritzie and Crackers had dreamed of seeing what was out there. One night, after the scientists left, Ritzie announced, “Tonight, Crackers and I are going to the outside world!” “But the….CATS!” gasped Pellet. Professor Camembert remarked, “How fascinating, but be back by morning or you’ll be replaced by other rats.” “Tell me how many kinds of cheese you find,” said Sneakers. Ritzie packed some dinner cheese into a sack. The other rats wished them well and waved goodbye. She and Crackers squeezed out of the cage and jumped off the counter. They scurried through a crack in the wall and made it to the hallway. “Let’s find a door to the outside,” whispered Ritzie. They ran down the empty hallway, then turned left, then right, then left again until they found a door. It all seemed familiar to the two little lab rats.
Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 10
As a woman opened the door Ritzie and Crackers jumped on the back of her overcoat. They held on as she walked to towards a big yellow taxi. When she opened the door the two rats jumped onto the roof and stood behind the TAXI sign. They looked towards the front wondering where they might be going. The taxi roared down the street past the university bus. “Yippee!” they screamed. It was their first taste of freedom. The taxi turned left, then right, then left into a grocery store parking lot. “Wow!” cried Crackers, “People get a reward for driving through a maze!” “Let’s go to the cheese section!” shouted Ritzie. They leaped off the taxi and scampered through the door. The store was a huge maze, but they found what they wanted—cheese! On the left was cheddar, swiss, and feta. To the right was havarti, mozzarella, and a hundred more. They ate cheese for hours and fell asleep. What a reward! It was almost morning when they heard a deep growl. They opened their eyes and were horrified to see the hungry store cat! “RUN!” screamed Ritzie. They ran straight to the locked door! “We’re in big trouble,” said Crackers. “It’s almost morning, the doors are locked, the cat is coming, and the taxi is gone!” “Look!” cried Ritzie, “The university
bus has stopped outside. I have a plan!” Ritzie took the dinner cheese out of her sack. “Crackers, when I tell you, throw the cheese at the cat. I’ll hit the button to open the door. Then we’ll run to the bus!” The cat came straight at the two little rats. “NOW!” Ritzie screamed as she jumped for the button. Crackers tossed the cheese, stopping the cat dead in its tracks. The door slowly opened as the cat bit into the cheese. Ritzie and Crackers bolted to the bus just as it was leaving. They jumped from the curb and squeezed through the doors as it sped off. It turned right, then left, then right and stopped in front of the lab. The two rats left the bus, ran down the hallway and went through the crack in the wall. Professor Camembert yelled, “They’re back, and just on time. The scientists will be here soon!” Ritzie and Crackers told Pellet about the cat. They explained to Professor Camembert that humans are very interesting, but not that different than rats. They told Sneakers about all the cheese they ate. The five rats sat together as Ritzie and Crackers told them about their amazing adventure. “Next time, we’ll all go!” Ritzie said. Copyright © 2014 by Roger N. Lesage
CRAFT AND EDUCATION
ILLUSTRATION, AS AN ARTIST AND A WRITER Show Don’t Tell Given New Meaning LOREENA LEE
he first comic book I remember reading was the story of Lorna Doone. I was eight or nine years old at the time, and I studied every line, every colour and every scene with a hungry eye. I marvelled at the raven curls tumbling over the smooth shoulders of the heroine, elegant in her frothy gown. I studied the swash-buckling stances of her hero and the gloomy, mysterious backgrounds. I made a vow that I would learn to make images just like that. In my art classes, I tried to instill that wonder into my students. Even today, as I create visuals for a children’s book, a magazine cover or other designs, the long-ago details of those hand-drawn pictures hover in the back of my mind. When working with a publisher, writers most often are given a staff illustrator whom the publisher thinks is best suited to the story. In self-publishing, authors have a choice, and can work with an illustrator whose work they like, to make sure that their concepts are translated into the vision they see. I have written novels, cookbooks, instruction manuals, and short stories, but not stories for children—yet. Therefore, when authors choose my illustrations it is a realization of a life-long dream to bring their words to life. It is extremely satisfying and an amazing privilege. But sometimes finding the ideal illustrator can be tricky. Where do they lurk? The FBCW has a register of illustrators listed in this magazine. Or perhaps someone in your organization can draw and paint well enough to meet the requirements. Select one whose work you like and can afford. Depending on the circumstances, they don’t have to be a pro-
fessional illustrator or artist; we all had to start somewhere. Working together is an adventure and there are some specific issues that should be addressed before you begin. First of all, make sure the story has been properly edited. Good advice for any story before publication. Second, an agreement of some kind should be drawn up. I use a contract form; there are several examples available on the internet to guide you. Even if you’ve known each other for years, this will ensure there’s no misunderstanding, no hard feelings to spoil the relationship if things don’t go according to plan. Items to consider are: the manner of payment, including deposit and final date, finished sizes, and time frame for the illustrations to be completed. There is the issue of copyright which automatically, by law, belongs to the artist. Then decide who retains the originals, (usually the artist since the copyright is theirs anyway) what restrictions apply as to advertisement, and if the images will be used in whole or in part for other retail projects. If that is the case, what percentage of profit, if any, will go to the artist? Will there be any free copies due to the artist? Will the artist get a break on price for resale if required? What happens to the originals if/when the author or illustrator dies? Not a preferred line of thought unless you’ve ever been involved in an estate situation where grief has affected the actions of otherwise logical, sensible people. With the legalities and contracts out of the way you can settle in and have some fun. The illustrator’s job is to “show” what has already been “told”, adding a new di-
mension to the admonition “show don’t tell” that writers are familiar with. A meeting to discuss strategies is a good start. Getting into the head of the author is essential—it is their vision after all. I prefer to work step by step with the author until I almost feel as if I’m looking out through their eyes. I begin by making small, rough sketches, then meeting to discuss and make any changes that are needed. The sketches are then worked into the finished-image size that we both go over again and work and re-work if needed, until the image is exactly what the author intends. It’s surprising how many little things come up, how many images are adjusted or changed, added to or discarded. From there the drawings are transferred to illustration paper in black and white. A final okay by the author, and it’s time for colour, either by hand in watercolour, coloured pencil or acrylic as I do, or with a computer design programme. Hand-done, finished images should be a bit larger than the final product, to enable the reproductions to be of top quality. This seems like a lot of back-and-forth, but I’ve known writers who have been “happy” with other artists’ illustrations, those with a more straightforward process, but there were little things… Still, the finished product was “satisfactory”. Doing it the way I do, the writer is involved in every aspect of the piece, and can be assured that his or her concepts are portrayed as accurately as possible. The next steps will be up to the author. Does the printer require the images scanned or photographed and put on a disc or USB drive, or does he (or she) do it as Page 11 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
part of the printing contract? My illustrated books have been printed in China, USA, and Canada—there are lots of choices. And then there’s distribution…but that’s another story. To me, illustration has many meanings. As an artist, I respond to the written or spoken word with images. I “see” what’s being said. The phrase, “I see,” means more than just to understand. For some of us, it means a visual connection has been made, consciously or not. When a story isn’t in the form of movie, television or stage play, or applied to canvas or paper, I visualize from words, phrases and sentences. I must feel as if I am right in the action. For this, illustrating with words and sentence structure are used instead of pens and brushes. Some stories are little more than essays of fact and/or opinion. But to smell the earthy mildew of rain-wet leaves, taste iron-salted blood on a cut lip or feel the vibration of a fully-loaded semi under one’s feet as it growls around a corner—these are the images that place readers in the story and keep them there. Our senses are often forgotten in the economic rendering of a tale, but to make it a whole, visceral experience, they are needed. Not enough to put the readers to sleep, as in the minute detail of dry poetic prose. Just enough will keep them awake and wondering. For instance, the following words are informative, but…? l. Rain 2. The room Design the scenes through actions. A way to illustrate them is by creative choice of words. “She tugged her collar up and ducked her head, wishing she had brought an umbrella.” “Putting the breakfast dishes in the sink, she moved to the freezer, hesitated, then reached for the handle…” In the first, I can see the rain making her uncomfortable and want to know more about why she’s there and what she’ll do. In the second, I am right in the scene like a fly on the wall, waiting to find out what’s in the freezer. Another method used to place a scene in the reader’s inner landscape is the way sentences are constructed. Here’s a couple Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 12
of ways to enter a building: “Bursting through the door, he ran along the dim hallway, heart beating in time to his footsteps. Leaping up the stairs two at a time, he ducked around the corner, landing hard up against the wall as voices echoed in the stillness. A bead of sweat trickled down his chin and his chest constricted, lungs begging for air.” “He shut the door with a soft click. Tip-toeing down the dim hallway, he paused at the stairway. No sounds. Up the stairs to the landing. Echoes of soft voices. Stop and wait. He began to sweat.” Manipulating the length of the sentences creates different tensions. The first consists of long statements designed to carry the reader along with a speeding character. The second uses short reports for
tension and drama. To me, it’s like using subdued hues to create a solemn, even mysterious atmosphere or bright colours that pop with movement and action. A small yet intriguing portrayal can make all the difference to the reader’s enjoyment of your story. It produces an intellectual reality of character through body language, or intriguing scenes through description. It can even enhance dialogue, as the way a character speaks paints a picture of where they’re from, their age or the kind of person they are. Whether I use a brush or a keyboard, paper or canvas, I try to portray that which engages the reader/observer. And when the images I create remain in the mind’s eye of the observer/reader, that is the best reward of all.
From The Many-colored Invisible Hats of Brenda-Louise written by Annie Daylon, Illustrated by Loreena M. Lee
POETRY AND YOUNG PEOPLE NAOMI BETH WAKAN
was invited to speak to the Grade 12 English class at Nanaimo District Secondary School (NDSS) on poetry, and decided to describe the event for my poetry column in the Nanaimo Daily News:
This month, for a change, I’m compiling a column about youth and poetry. What can you tell 30 Grade 12s about poetry in 30 minutes? Not much, I thought, but I was wrong—I didn’t reckon with the talent at NDSS. I decided to discuss haiku-writing by using three haiku that I wrote on the board. They were:
WISHING FOUNTAIN OUTSIDE THE CANCER CLINIC SOME HEADS, SOME TAILS Alice Frampton
EMPTY CABIN THE BEACHED CANOE FULL OF LEAVES Devar Dahl
OVERCAST MORNING RIPE BLACKBERRIES OUT OF REACH Alice Frampton I explained how haiku do not directly express any feelings, or ideas. They just record what one is sensing at a moment in time. I then asked the students to let me know what feelings and ideas these haiku brought up in them as they read them. Sud-
denly I got a deluge of original and interesting comments. So then I asked them to add two lines to each haiku. Those two lines could express all the feelings and ideas that the haiku hadn’t overtly stated. I got such wonderful responses. Here are my favorites. The best response to the first haiku, I thought, was by one of the teachers, Maryah Bell: wishing fountain outside the cancer clinic some heads, some tails under the water they all sink the same To the second haiku, I liked Isabella Dominelli’s very much: empty cabin the beached canoe full of leaves summer laughter has faded cold winds bring change and the third was completed well by Ryan Elhorn: overcast morning ripe blackberries out of reach frustration builds yet I can’t stop There were many other fresh responses to the haiku. These five-liners are called tanka. So in 30 minutes I managed to touch on one of the oldest forms of poetry (tanka) and one of the most difficult to write (haiku). If we can persuade them to stay around Nanaimo for a few years, this bright and imaginative class will be sure to have added some good writers to the local scene. Thank you NDSS Grade 12’s for being such a great class, and thank you teachers Dean Darbyshire and Maryah Bell for having such an eager class and to teacher-librarian, Deborah Graham for inviting me to speak to them. Page 13 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
MOST OF ALL NOT WATER BY SHEILA ROSEN
I wake half-filled with last night’s rain the drought having broken while I swam in liquid sleep. I praise the wet as I’ve praised the sun for breaking through and for its faithful returns. Don’t say the sun is still and we the ones who circle and return; nothing is still, not sun, not earth, most of all not water. Everything is aquiver. The birdbath waits, brimming. My window is open, has been all night. Nothing is amiss. A visitor is coming through the rain; he will come to me wet or dry, sun or moon, and when I wake brimming, all will remain aquiver, though differently.
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CRAFT AND EDUCATION
IMPORTANCE OF TEACHERS MENTORING YOUNG WRITERS ANDREA MCKENZIE RAINE
hen I was a child, I enjoyed writing journal entries, stories, and poems. It was a pastime that didn’t go unnoticed by my parents and teachers, and in the third grade I was fortunate enough to have a teacher who celebrated my creative writing soul. I vividly remember her telling me, “Andrea, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw an entire book written by you one day.” Can you imagine the impact that had on me at
the tender age of eight? Thirty years later, I published my first novel, and prior to my novel I published a book of poetry. Most likely, I would have continued to write and aspire to publish my work without her encouraging words and attitude. Still, she helped ignite a spark that remains lit. Throughout my third grade year, she showcased my work to the school principal, inspired me to keep a journal
record of my family Disneyland vacation (she had half-jokingly told me I couldn’t go unless I kept a daily journal). Not surprisingly, I took the task to heart, and wrote in careful cursive handwriting about my time spent in the Vancouver ferry terminal, all the way up to the last day of our trip, including postcards and stickers and photographs in my half-page inter-lined exercise book. At the end of the year, after the offiPage 15 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
cial school awards assembly, she presented to me a handmade certificate of achievement in Creative Writing in the intimacy of my classroom setting. Yes, she definitely ignited a spark. My parents were also influential. Whenever a greeting card was being sent to family and friends, my mom would ask me if I could come up with a little poem to include. Years later, I studied writing at college and university, attended open mic poetry readings, workshops and writing retreats, and found a vibrant writing community. The journey begins with the self, the heart, the joy invested in writing… and, in turn, the writing flourishes, strengthens and develops with the support, encouragement, guidance, recognition and championing from others. — Maya Grier, age twelve, is the author of the short story “Code,” which is featured in this issue. Her teacher encouraged her to submit her story as she, too, recognized Maya’s love of writing and her gifted ability to weave imaginative stories. Maya became interested in writing at an early age. “I began writing stories in primary school,” she recalls. “We had journals and I asked if I could tell stories in my journals and my teacher let me.” Naturally, her teacher, Mrs. Shinde, and her parents were supportive in the process of submitting her story for publication. “Mrs. Shinde has provided positive comments and feedback on my assignments and she sent my story to a publisher. I have received praise for my writing from my parents and other students.” Maya said, adding that “my mom has edited and typed my stories when I wasn’t feeling well.” When asked about her inspiration or process for writing, Maya said “I usually get inspired to write when I am required by my teacher as an assignment. I start with a small idea and continue to add to it; then I find myself inspired and enjoying it.” Maya’s teacher, Mrs. Shinde, commented on her student’s writing aspirations and the success of her story publication. I asked Mrs. Shinde about when she noticed MaWinter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 16
ya’s spark for creative writing. She replied, “I noticed from her very first responses. When she wrote any responses she was more detailed and creative.” Her teacher celebrates her students’ writing in a meaningful way by having them read their writing in class. “Students would go to share their work with a principal,” Mrs. Shinde said. “I would also put stories on my class website.” With regard to Maya’s writing in the class, she expressed that “Maya’s writing was very imaginative and she would add detail to her responses, any responses.” Mrs. Shinde expressed that in her class she strives to do a variety of writing activities with high interest topics. “We would read novels, such as The Maze Runner and I am #4. I would use pop songs for figurative language and Pixar shorts to teach elements of stories. We also do slam poetry rather than regular poetry,” she said. “Even with short stories, I didn’t use text book short stories. Instead, we used ones that were more interesting. We would also use picture prompts, ideas from stories we are reading, topics that the students enjoy, such as dystopian themes, etc. In grade seven, you have to peak their interest.” I was curious about whether or not Maya also kept a journal to jot down her story ideas or simply unload and reflect on her daily experiences, thoughts, feelings and surroundings. She replied, “No, I do not keep a journal because I have other ways of expressing myself and directing my creativity. I usually feel inspired if I am writing and I often paint or draw afterwards. Writing inspires me to do other arts.” The ability to have a creative outlet is a special gift; whether it is writing, painting, music, dance, or any art form that allows us to venture inside ourselves and then take a handful of what dwells deep inside and express that imagination, spirit, passion and emotion to others. If children don’t have a natural inkling to explore creative, artistic ways of expressing themselves, school is usually the first place where these ideas are opened up to them. Teachers are instrumental not only in the growth and nurturing of young minds to be able to process and understand the world, but also to mentor and encourage
future generations to think creatively and contribute to the world in an artistic and innovative way. When asked if she thought the school system placed enough emphasis on creative writing in the curriculum, Maya replied “I think there is a balance between all subjects; but this is only in my school and in my class. There is not always enough emphasis [on creative writing] in elementary school.” Mrs. Shinde also commented by saying, “In our district we have been focusing on writing. There are also writing contests that I share with my students.” Maya enjoys writing about dystopian worlds and “descriptive paragraphs about nature and things that I have seen.” Maya also expressed that she would like to “write novels in the future and to travel, but I think that I will have another job and write on the side.” She is already thinking strategically about pursuing her future in writing—balancing the fine art of integrating a creative outlet, which may or may not pay the bills, with all of the other facets and responsibilities in life. For now, she can relish in her writing pastime and schoolwork, and bask in the thrill every author feels when she sees her work in print.
EDITORIALS & OPINIONS
LETTER FROM AN OCTOGENARIAN BEN NUTTALL-SMIT H
hen I was somewhat younger than I am today, Time required little if any accounting, and I let the hours and days slip through my fingers. I didn’t miss the moments as they tumbled into my past. I was forever looking to a magical “tomorrow”. Only yesterday, I was young and newly married. I blinked and two children arrived without instructions. Of all the university courses, no one offered a course on parenting. Time flew by and I found myself three times a grandfather. Grandchildren are magical creatures and so much smarter than I ever was. How did it all happen? I remember older people through those years and thinking how behind the times they were and how little they knew.
Of course, they were years away from me and winter was so far off I had no idea what it would be like to be old myself. Suddenly, tomorrow has arrived and, at last, I realize how valuable every moment is and has been. I meet people I once knew and they’re all retired and getting gray. Some are in better and some worse shape than I. We are now those older folks we used to see and never thought we’d be. I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done. Mostly there are things I wish I had done. Then again, there are many things I’m happy to have accomplished. I have entered into this new season of my life unprepared for the aches and pains and the loss of energy and the ability
to do the things I wish I’d done but didn’t. At least I know that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last, I’m not afraid of death. I’d like to say to those of you still waiting for tomorrow: don’t hold back. Whatever it is, do it now. Forswear all those reasons “why not.” Don’t wait to say, “I love you”. Say it today and prove it while you still have the energy. Don’t wait for others to appreciate and love you for the things you did for them in the past. You want to write a book, paint, travel, explore new hobbies? Start today. The way you live this part of your life is your gift to those who will want to be like you. Make it amazing and relish every moment you have left.
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CRAFT AND EDUCATION
WRITING FOR THE YOUNG Genres, Age Groups, and Other Aspects MOIRA GARDENER
he world of children’s literature is vast and diverse, and if you’re thinking of writing for children, this article is merely an overview to whet your appetite. Writing for people of a younger age is not as easy as it may sound. Children’s literature must hold their young audience’s interest, while
words per page. These are read to the child by an adult. They may also be tactile in nature Picture Books—Toddlers –these books encourage the child to think more about the world around them. Topics may reinforce a
CHILDREN’S LITERATURE MUST HOLD THEIR YOUNG AUDIENCE’S INTEREST, WHILE APPEALING TO THE ADULT WHO MAY PURCHASE IT FOR THE CHILD OR THEMSELVES. appealing to the adult who may purchase it for the child or themselves. Those adults will be teachers, librarians, parental figures, and anyone else who works with children. To these challenges, add the choices of numerous genres, and the various development stages, and you have an idea of what it is to write for the young. So, you know how to write? It’s a start. Now what genre appeals to you? What age group are you drawn to? In the world of children’s literature there are some basic categories and ages, but always check specific publisher’s guidelines, as various publishers have their own ideas about age groups. Age groupings and categories may look something like this: Board Books(*)—Infants — these are primarily illustrations with no more than 10 Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 18
new skill, promote early learning of colors or numbers, or instruct about self-care. Early Chapter Books—Ages 7-11— these come as the child learns to read. This group is often broken down further into reading levels, and age appropriate language becomes important. Middle Readers (tweens)—Ages 11- 13— these are the pre-teens where the plot can be more complex. Some examples of story types are: school stories, sports, historical, mysteries with a logical solution, science-fiction, and fantasy. Teen and Young Adult (YA)—Ages 12 and up—the plot and language is progressively complex. They enjoy science fiction, experimentation of all kinds, values, personal relationships. Romance for girls usually starts
at this age. A note about illustrations: Unless you are going the self-publishing route, be aware most publishers like to choose their own illustrators. You do not need to be an illustrator to write a children’s book, you just have to be a good wordsmith, giving the illustrator inspiration. Me? I read lots of books as a child and simply never stopped. My passion is reading, writing, and studying the fascinating world of children’s literature. I’m a kid at heart who never outgrew C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. Currently, my favorite read is Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain. In the past I’ve enjoyed Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Game trilogy, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. I’m awaiting the 3rd novel in young writer J. Neven-Pugh’s self-published The Dragon Tail Series. I could go on and on, so my last tidbit will be to suggest a couple of fabulous local children’s authors: Julie Lawson and Kit Pearson. So, look for the child within and step into the world of the young. It’s a lot of fun. — Some on-Line Courses I’ve taken: (*)Writing Storybooks for Children http://www.writestorybooksforchildren. com/ Institute of Children’s Literature https://www.instituteforwriters.com/ourschools/institute-of-childrens-literature/
CRAFT AND EDUCATION
CREATING A WRITING CIRCLE KATHERINE WAGNER
wo writing friends sat across from me at the kitchen table, pens and paper in front of them, their eyes closed, heads bowed. It was noon on a sunny Tuesday in June, but we were inside. My voice delivered instructions from the smart phone lying between us. “Allow yourself to settle into your chair…” my recorded voice intoned. “Take breath in. Let breath out.” A shaggy white dog lounged on a nearby rug, watching the proceedings, his head cocked to one side. My writing circle uses “The Hour” meditations and cards to guide our sessions together. “Breath in is inspiration and breath out is expression and release…” The dog made a low noise in his throat. One of the writers, Ronda Payne, cracked an eyelid and firmly told him to be quiet. He thumped down onto the floor with a huff. For close to ten minutes the instruction to relax and warm our awareness continued. “Allow yourself to imagine before you a portal of story…” A series of visualizations followed and then an instruction to take a story card. The youngest of us, Caszie Schoeber, opened her eyes and picked up a card. She read a passage asking that we each picture an object that called out to us, and then announced, “this is the beginning.” Ronda pressed the start button on a timer. We picked up pens and wrote for twenty minutes. Again, another passage and, “this is the middle”. Another twenty minutes of writing, repeated a third time for “the end”. Just over an hour had passed when all three of us took turns reading out loud what we’d written. Everyone made comments, but there was no critique. The com-
ments were positive and pointed out areas that worked. Both before and after the writing session, we brainstormed around a few plot points. Ronda, Caszie, and I used to be a critique group, modelled on the many writing critique groups that can be found in most communities. For years, we met once a month after exchanging work in advance. We pointed out perceived flaws and encouraged each other, all in the hopes of improving our stories and writing. It worked, to a point, but the biggest complaint we all had was around our individual writing production. We often scrambled to produce sufficient work for critique and sometimes group members took part, but didn’t submit anything. The editors of a Vancouver-based magazine Pulp Literature offered a workshop in The Hour Stories, www.thehourstories. com, which is a set of guided meditation cards created in 2001 by British Columbia author, Dale Adams Segal: “In this threehour workshop you will generate approximately 1000 words of either a new story or a section of your work-in-progress. We will share our stories and inspiration over tea and good food, and walk away with fresh inspiration. The Hour story cards are excellent tools to promote deeper insight, unstick a writing block, or take your story in a new and exciting direction.” Intrigued by the description, Ronda, Caszie and I signed up. One morning, two summers ago, we arrived at the home of Pulp Literature editor Susan Pieters. Her fellow editors Jennifer Landels and Melanie Anastasiou were also there—Jennifer in person and Melanie via Skype from England. We spent the first hour chatting, learning about the process and each other. Then,
we started. I hadn’t known what to expect and arrived without a clear idea of what I would write. During the ride over, I’d brought up the vague idea of writing a horror piece involving bees. Ronda—who also writes for Country Life magazine—shared what she knew about bee habits. I felt a momentary panic when I realized I’d be expected to write for an hour. I had visions of writing “Katherine should have done some pre-work” as penance, over and over again. Then, I learned that we’d be reading our work out loud after the hour long session. The pressure was on to write something coherent. Clammy and nervous, I realized I had no choice but to trust the process. Susan led us through the process and I found myself relaxing and opening up to the idea of simply writing. By the time we picked up pens, I was in the zone and the words flowed. True to the workshop’s promise, I wrote eleven hundred words during the hour and by the time it was my turn to read, I wasn’t even slightly nervous about sharing first draft words. Previously, I had refused to share my writing until I revised it at least twice, but this was different. We all shared raw, rough drafts, and there was no judgement, only support for those parts that held promise. Ronda and Caszie reported equally positive experiences. We decided to transform our critique group into a writing circle. After more than a year, we can report with confidence that the approach works. We meet twice a month and, on average, generate at least one thousand words each. We brainstorm in advance of writing and we share and discuss our output. Ronda feels the process, “Opens doors to bigger ideas I may not have come up with Page 19 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
on my own.” She adds with a laugh, “And it shuts down the ‘editor’ voice in my head.” Several times we have all worked to writing prompts including specific submission calls. We find we are submitting more than we used to and that our writing production has increased. We are building new skills. A couple of our short stories have been picked up by on-line and print publications. When I write on my own, I can now focus with only minimal effort where I used to find it very difficult to settle into writing. Caszie describes the experience this way, “The Hour creates a flow that gets me into the story and brings me through it.” The Hour is an excellent tool for groups of writers looking for new ways to support each other, and it can also be used in private. Most smart-phones have a feature to record and play back the meditation. While the cards facilitate the process, a writing circle could develop their own guided meditations. The keys to a successful group are supportive writers who regularly meet to write in company, and then share and discuss the words immediately. I treasure my writing circle and highly recommend forming one or transforming your current writing critique group. Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 20
CRAFT AND EDUCATION
20 TIPS FOR WRITING A WINNING SHORT STORY JODIE RENNER
s a professional editor, writer, and publisher, I edit short stories, judge them for contests including Writer’s Digest, and choose and edit them for anthologies. I’m also the judge for the fiction category of the FBCW Literary Writes 2016. Here are some tips I’ve gleaned from my reading, editing, and judging of short fiction: 1. Keep the story tight. Unlike a novel or even a novella, a short story is about just a small slice of life, with one story thread and one theme. Don’t get too ambitious. It’s best to limit it to one main character plus a few supporting characters, one main conflict, one geographical location, and a brief time frame, Short stories are usually between 2,000 and 6,000 words long. Many contests only want between 1,500 and 4,000 words. 2. Create a main character who is charismatic and at least somewhat sympathetic, so readers can relate to him and start bonding with him right away. Give him some flaws, secrets, fears, regrets, inner conflict, and vulnerability to make readers worry about him. If readers don’t care about your character, they also won’t care about what happens to him. 3. Give your protagonist a burning desire. What does she want more than anything? This is the basis for your story goal, the driving force of your story. 4. Decide what your character fears most. This will be the basis for the challenge or dilemma you throw at her, your main story conflict. 5. Put your protagonist in hot water right away, on the first page, so the readers start worrying about her early on. Give her a significant problem or challenge. No conflict = no story. The conflict can be internal, external, or interpersonal, or all three,
against one’s own demons, other people, circumstances, or nature. 6. Become your character. Develop a unique “voice” for this story by getting to know your character really well. Write in his secret diary, expressing his hopes and fears and venting his frustrations. Let the ideas flow, in his point of view, using his words and expressions. Then carry that voice through the whole story, even to the narration and description, which are really the character’s thoughts, perceptions, observations and reactions. 7. To enter and win contests, make your character and story unique and memorable. Try to jolt or awe the readers somehow, with an atypical, enigmatic, even quirky or weird character; an unusual premise or situation; and an unexpected, even shocking revelation and plot twist. 8. Start right out in the head of your main character. It’s best to use his name right in the first sentence to establish him as the point-of-view character, the one readers are supposed to identify with and root for. And let readers know really soon what his rough age and role in the story world is. 9. Put your character in motion right away, in a scene with someone else. That’s much more compelling than starting with a character alone, musing. Don’t start with background information (backstory) or an explanation of their world or situation (telling). And don’t start with a description of the setting. Start with your protagonist in a scene, with action and dialogue, with some dissonance and tension. 10. Situate the reader early on. To avoid reader confusion, establish your setting (time and place) within the first few paragraphs. On the first page, work in the 4 W’s – who, what, where, when– in a natural
way. But as mentioned above, avoid starting with a long descriptive passage. 11. Hook ’em in. Your first line, opening paragraph, and first page need to be as gripping and as intriguing as you can make them, to compel the readers to read the rest of the story. They need to arouse curiosity and raise questions that demand to be answered. 12. Use close point of view. Get up close and personal with your main character and tell the whole story from his point of view, whether it’s in first person (I) or third person (he or she). Show his thoughts, feelings, reactions, and physical sensations. And don’t head-hop by suddenly showing another character’s thoughts or inner reactions. You don’t have time or space to get into the viewpoint of other characters in a short story. Show the attitudes and reactions of others through what the point of view character perceives – their words, actions, body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, etc. Even the narration is your POV character’s thoughts and observations. Don’t intrude as the author to describe or explain anything to the readers in neutral, “correct” language. Interrupting as the author will burst the bubble of make-believe that readers crave. 13. Show, Don’t Tell. Don’t use narration to tell your readers what happened. Instead, show them through scenes with lots of dialogue and action and reactions, in real time. Telling is summarizing a scene after the fact, telling the readers about it. Showing is putting us right there in the scene as it unfolds, with characters interacting. Showing brings your characters to life. And skip past transitional times and unimportant moments. Just use a few Page 21 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
words to go from one time/place to another, unless something important happens during the transition. 14. Your character needs to react! Show your character’s emotional and physical reactions, both inner and outer. When something important happens, make sure your character reacts to it. And to bring the character and scene to life on the page, evoke as many of the five senses as possible. 15. Every page needs tension of some sort. It might be overt, like an argument, or subtle, like inner resentments, disagreements, questioning, or anxiety. If everybody is in agreement, shake things up a little. 16. To add intrigue, withhold key information, especially about character secrets, fears, weaknesses, or regrets. But hint at them from time to time to arouse reader curiosity. Then reveal critical info bit by bit, like a tantalizing striptease, as you go along.
17. Dialogue is war. Skip the yaddayadda, blah-blah, “How are you?” “I’m fine, and you?” and add spark and tension to all your dialogue. Avoid using complete, correct sentences in casual dialogue. Use plenty of one- or two-word questions and responses, incomplete sentences, contractions (I’m, he’s), evasive replies, abrupt changes of subjects, and even silences. Each character should speak differently, and not like the author. Each character’s word choices and speech patterns should reflect their gender, age, education, social standing, and personality. 18. Go out with a bang. Don’t stretch out the conclusion – tie it up pretty quickly. Your ending needs to be memorable and also satisfying to the readers. Try to create a surprise twist at the end – but of course it needs to make sense, given all the other details of the story. Ideally, it should be both
VOICES FROM THE VALLEYS Stories & Poems about Life in BC’s Interior A high-quality anthology of short fiction, memoirs, and poetry, depicting various experiences in BC’s Interior. 51 contributors; includes drawings and colour photos. * All net proceeds go to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders Canada (MSF). * Available through Cobalt Books.net, Amazon, and bookstores. Wholesale: Red Tuque Books. ISBN: 978-0993700439
Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 22
unexpected and inevitable. 19. Write tight. The short story requires discipline and editing. Trim down any long, convoluted sentences to reveal the essentials. Make every word and image count. If a sentence or line of dialogue doesn’t advance the plot, add intrigue, or develop a character, take it out. Also, use strong, evocative, specific nouns and verbs and cut back on supporting adjectives and adverbs. 20. Read it as a reader. Change the font and print your story, then go through it in a different location to proofread for spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, word choice, and verb tense agreement. Read the whole thing aloud for natural, easy flow. Wherever you stumble needs to be changed. Good luck with your story!
AWARD-WINNING EDITOR’S GUIDES
Captivate Your Readers ISBN: 978-0993700415 225 pages, trade paperback: $14.95 Concrete advice for engaging readers through techniques such as deep point of view, showing instead of telling, avoiding author intrusions, and creating authentic dialogue.
Fire up Your Fiction ISBN: 978-0993700408 191 pages, trade Paperback: $14.95 Tips with examples to help you hone your style, bring your scenes to life, tighten your writing, pick up the pace, and develop a more authentic voice.
Also by Jodie Renner: Writing a Killer Thriller and Quick Clicks reference guides. Editor of Voices from the Valleys anthology. All available in bookstores & through Amazon.
CRAFT AND EDUCATION
8 TOOLS TO HELP CHILDREN WITH THEIR WRITING SKILLS Using the Web for your Children’s Benefit LYNN FOSTER
oung minds are like a sponge; they absorb information quickly, and observe everything. They are yet to be desensitized to the world, and their imaginations are free to run wild. Writing can be an excellent way for kids to express themselves. But, writing is not simple to teach. Writing is a skill that’s necessary to begin learning at a young age, and necessary for future success, but one that takes practice and extreme effort. Writing can help to expand creativity and brain development in children, but languages are complex. There are exceptions to every rule, unknown vocabulary and structure specifics to remember. This can be an understandably difficult task for young minds. The web provides teachers and parents with excellent resources to help in the learning process. Kids deserve our best efforts, so let’s give it to them. Check out our list of 8 useful resources available to enhance your child’s learning experience. 1. Interactive Sites For Education interactivesites.weebly.com Interactive Sites provides an endless source of fun games and lesson plans for children of all ages. There are interactive exercises, visual cartoons, and other entertaining features that are easy to use and understand. There is a reading comprehension test for the older children as well. 2. ReadWriteThink readwritethink.org Interactive learning is imperative to your child’s development. ReadWriteThink provides thorough and effective lessons for children grades K-12 and story map exercises for
preschool age children. Use their interactive strategies to engage your children in the writing process and to jumpstart their writing education. 3. Teen Ink teenink.com Teen Ink is an onlineliterary magazine geared towards teenagers. The site includes fiction, poetry, non-fiction, art, and photography submissions, and also offers summer programs and camps. Teens can find inspiration on teenink.com, and engage with other students who have similar passions. Again, this emphasizes the importance of interactive and collaborative learning. 4.Teach The Children Well teachthechildrenwell.com This site is created by a teacher, is simple in structure, and is composed of a variety of links for elementary-aged children. Each link will guide you to a specific online resource of entertaining and engaging activities. The site is great for all elementary aged children and a perfect index reference for parents and teachers. 5. Kids Essays kidsessays.com Kids Essays has categories for children aged 6-10 and 10-15 and is composed of essays, poems and stories. Use the topics set for the appropriate age group (on a regular basis) to monitor your child’s progress. 6. MyKidsWay mykidsway.com Sample essays for young children are not always easy to find. MyKidsWay is an excellent source of content and includes narrative, persuasive, expository, and descriptive essays. You can encourage children to take part in the
site’s weekly essay contest as well. Winners are published in the mini essays section and this could motivate students to practice their writing skills. 7. Hemingway Editor hemingwayapp.com The Hemingway app and editor is effective for more advanced writers. The app highlights issues in bright colors, making it easy to figure out where to begin when proofreading and editing. Young writers have a tendency to use run-on sentences and lengthy wording, and this app focuses on eliminating these issues. Hemingway editor also offers an overall readability score for extra help. 8. AskPetersen askpetersen.com AskPetersen covers the basics of the essay writing process. It will explain simple structure as well as what should be included in each paragraph. If children have advanced past the basics, they can practice with the Writing Worksheets or other fun activities provided by this engaging blog. These online tools can enhance skills and help children achieve success in many areas of life. Creative and critical thinking are both improved by practicing writing skills. Give the kids the education and opportunities they deserve. Invest the time and effort in teaching and watch what these tools can do to expand the learning process. Remember though that each child will learn in a different way. Try these sites and use them for your and your child’s benefit; if one does not work for you, then try another. Happy learning!
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CRAFT AND EDUCATION
AN EVENT YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS The Surrey International Writers’ Conference COCO ADERS-WEREMCZUK
he Surrey International Writers’ Conference, Canada’s most comprehensive symposium, is held every October in our beautiful province of British Columbia. Created by our dear and recently departed friend Ed Griffen, it offers all genres of writers, from beginners to experts, the opportunity to hone their craft and reveal their work to professionals in the global literary marketplace. They boldly claim: “We have something for everyone, whether your focus is fiction of any sort, non-fiction, freelancing, social media, poetry, pitching your work, or simply absorbing as much information about all
experts, an attendee was offered an overwhelming choice. In addition to the main conference, 6 pre-conference master classes were offered as advanced study options. Six keynote speakers shared their experiences with writing and the writing life, one at the beginning of each day and another at its close. There were also unconference sessions and the all-important pitch and blue pencil sessions. The Surrey International Writers’ Conference is always workshop-based, designed to improve writing skills and encourage actual publication. If you are already a published author, you can hone your skills,
IT IS A VERITABLE 8 RING CIRCUS, YET WITHOUT EVEN A MODICUM OF CHAOS. areas of writing and the writing business as you can over three days”… and they are not kidding. It is a veritable 8 ring circus, yet without even a modicum of chaos. The only problem is deciding on which of the 81 workshops to attend, no small feat. There are generally 8 going on at the same time, each about 90 minutes long, led by industry professionals. Thankfully there is enough variance in the subjects to help narrow the choices. With 54 presenters this year, 33 of which were writers, 13 agents, 9 editors, 3 film writers and 4 social media Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 24
learning more about the markets and networking for future sales. Many find the Pitch Session to be one of the most enlightening opportunities of the conference, and although somewhat intimidating, it provides the writers with the opportunity of pitching work to an acquiring editor, agent, producer or publisher. Within 10 minutes they gain valuable feedback and some have even been asked for a submission on the spot! This year one friend was devastated by what she was told but when she came to the FBCW table at
the trade show we all pitched in to help and hashed over her previous 10 minutes while it was still fresh in her mind. Walking up to our table she was crushed; however walking away from our extrapolation session, her outlook was different: her genre was changed, and the volume she had already written was shown, in fact, to be a trilogy and therefore not wasted. In the end she was quite encouraged by the whole experience. On the fun side there is a Friday night themed dress-up feast and a Saturday evening formal banquet, author signings, networking lunches, and a Friday late-night show for the insomniac. The trade show runs right through the whole conference and there is always a table reserved by the Federation of BC Writers. There are booksellers, writing groups, gift items, jewellery, and small presses. And if all that isn’t enough there is a silly writing contest, a silent auction, and door prizes. The Surrey International Writers’ Conference is clearly an exhausting weekend event; some attendees laughingly express the need to book a holiday just to quietly absorb all the information they have gleaned and regain their strength. But you can’t keep them away. Serious successful writers return year after year, eager to sharpen their skills and update knowledge of the latest trends in their field.
FICTION BY YOUTH
BY MAYA GRIER
wake up and examine my wrist—still there. 15 years and I still haven’t gotten used to the line of numbers and letters on my arm. I’ve always been more curious than everyone else about the codes. The government tells us it’s so we can be born with intelligence, we don’t have to go to school, we can get jobs at the age of seven. But I’ve always known that there was something more to those codes. As I walk down Main Street, Vancouver, to my job at a computer store, I see a beige envelope addressed to the government, O.P.S., just lying on the sidewalk. And you know that voice inside your head that tells you to do the right thing? Well, I don’t listen to it this time. Instead, I tuck the envelope in my bag and keep walking. When I get home later that night, I plop down on my bed and rip it open. Numbers and letters cover twelve full pages, double-sided, and in tiny print. They look like codes, but on the corner of the last page I see: delete. What is that supposed to mean? Confused, I call my friends Ryan and Jane. They come over about ten minutes later. “So, Kelly, what’s the occasion?” Ryan says, with a bit too much enthusiasm. “Well... I found this, abandoned on the side of the street.” I hold up the envelope, with all the pages. “And why does this concern us?” Jane asks. “Just take a look, would you?” I say. “Fine.” She sighs and takes the letter. “So you just found this on the road, Kelly?” “Yeah, it was on the sidewalk, it’s addressed to O.P.S. so I got curious,” I explain to Jane as she examines it. O.P.S. is the name of our government system. It stands for Our People Services. “Are these codes?” Jane asks. “I think so, but look on the bottom of the last page.” “Hmm.... Weird.” She says, “Maybe that’s not supposed to be there. It could be an accident.” “Let me see.” Ryan snatches the papers from Jane’s hands. He looks them over. “Those are definitely codes. Look here is mine... and Jane, yours is here too.” “Is mine on there?” I ask. Ryan scans the papers, “No.” he says, “and I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that the word ‘delete’ is on
the very bottom of the last page. But, I think I know someone who can help us with this, my cousin works at the C.S.S.—follow me,” Ryan says as he shoves us out the door. Jane and I trail behind Ryan as he tries to find his way to the Code Specialty Services building. When we finally get there, after stopping to ask for directions three times, Ryan acts as if he owns the place. “Payden! Good to see you!” he shouts in the direction of the receptionist, who is alone in the long, white lobby. She looks up from her see‐through computer and shushes him, her eyes narrowed, “You know that the government does not tolerate shouting.” She looks around anxiously like there is someone watching her. “What do you want Ryan?” We walk to the front desk and Ryan hands the girl – Payden – the letter. Payden studies it and gasps, “Oh no” she says, starting to hyperventilate. “Oh no, oh no.” “What is it? What’s wrong?!” I ask. “I didn’t think they were still doing this!” she says, completely ignoring me. “What are you talking about? Who are they?” I ask her. “What is your name?” she asks, her breathing starting to regulate. “Kelly,” I reply innocently. “Kelly, do you know what O.P.S. stands for?” “Yes, it stands for Our People Services.” I say, surprised she asked that question. Didn’t everyone know what that stands for? “Oh, yes. That’s what they’ve told you,” she says, sounding proud to know something we don’t. “O.P.S. stands for Over Population Solution.” Jane laughs. “And where are you getting your facts from, lady?” she says, rolling her eyes. I nudge her in the arm, “Don’t be rude,” I tell her under my breath “We need to talk about this somewhere else. How about the diner across the street?” Payden asks. “Why should we go anywhere with you?” Jane mumbles rudely. Ryan sighs impatiently, “Shut up Jane.” “Sure, Payden.” I say, a little annoyed and embarrassed by Jane. She walks around the desk and over Page 25 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
to the wooden coat hanger by the door. She picks up a chestnut-colored coat and we follow her through the revolving glass door and across the street. As we walk into “Shine”‐ the diner themed like the decade of 7080, I notice the reflection in the window. I see in the crowd behind us the slightest movement of a shadowy figure stalking in our direction. But, I’m known for my imagination and I assume it’s only my mind playing tricks on me again. Inside the diner we sit down in a bright red booth and a waitress comes by and asks us what we would like to drink. We ask for water, but Payden orders a cup of coffee. “So why did you drag us all the way over here, Payden? Why couldn’t we have discussed this in the lobby?” Ryan asks. “Well.... Where to start? It really goes back to when they first created the codes, back in 7020. The human race was having serious issues mainly because there were too many people and too little resources. Anyway, something had to be done and it had to be done soon, so, that’s when the codes were introduced. The government has full control of whether you live or die and they can end you at any time.” “But.... that doesn’t make sense...” Ryan says. “Why should we believe you anyways? We don’t even know you!” Jane says, on the verge of shouting. “It makes complete sense, and I’m not asking you to believe me, I just needed to... warn you,” Payden says. “How do you even know all of this? You’re only a receptionist and if this is true I don’t think they would just tell you all of this.” l blurt out. “I... I just know, okay,” Payden states. There is a brief moment of silence and then the bell rings announcing a customer entering the restaurant. The shadowy figure from the crowd enters and I do a double take. He holds up a laser gun towards us and says, “Give me the letter.” “Lenny... what are you doing here?” Payden asks casually. “Shut up, Payden, you know why I’m here.” “Boss, this really isn’t necessary.” Payden exclaims. “Give me the letter, Payden, if you want to live!” “It is not right what you are doing, and I can’t just stand by and let millions of innocent people die letter by letter!” Payden says, raising her voice. “I will shoot you!” he snaps at her. “Then I’ll die fighting for what I believe in!” There weren’t many people in the room besides us, only an older couple with a little boy and the young, blonde waitress. But, all of them were staring at the gun and the dark‐haired, middle‐aged man holding it. Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 26
“Payden, give him the letter. He has a gun,” I say, fearing the lives of others and my own. Payden hands him the letter. “Come with me, all of you,” he says. By now, I think I understand what is going on. O.P.S. does in fact stand for Over Population Solution and the letter was so important because that was the list of codes they were going to delete. O.P.S. was going to solve the over population crisis by deleting people; I knew that there was something about those codes. O.P.S. probably studied us for decades deciding who to keep around and who to get rid of. I feel a false sense of security when I remember my code not being on the list, because chances are I’ll die anyways. I know too much. It’s amazing how you can avoid death by just listening to the voice in your head. My parents would be devastated. My mother was supposed to be giving birth to my baby brother tomorrow, and I would be wherever you go when you die. I can’t run. He would shoot me without thinking twice. I will do whatever I can to stay alive. We all walk in front of a gun, as “Lenny” pushes us across the street; luckily the boy and the couple run and get lost in the crowd. But, the rest of us go into the C.S.S. building and have an elevator ride with a gun pointed at our heads. The blonde waitress starts bawling her eyes out and I am lost in thought. I don’t dare look back to see how Ryan, Jane, and Payden are holding up. He shoves us in to a bright hallway with a short, stubby, green carpet and walks us to his office where he sits us down. As he goes to close the door, I turn to Ryan and whisper, “Distract him.” Ryan nods. Once Lenny sits down in his big, leather chair, Ryan makes a run for it. Lenny starts to go after him, but I jump on top of him. I take his gun and it goes off in the process, but I don’t think it hits anything. My adrenaline pumping, I have no time. I shoot him in the leg, and he falls to the ground. I race to Payden and Jane. “Is there a system with all the records and codes?” I ask Payden. “I think I have a key, and the machine is in the basement. We’ll take the stairs, come on!” We sprint down the dim staircase, and follow Payden into a dark hallway. She runs her hands on the walls until she gets to the right door then unlocks it and turns on the light. Screens cover the walls, and silvery machines sit below the screens covered in a variety of different colored buttons with numbers and letters. There are tiny little metal chips and cubes with different labels stating what they’re for. I have no idea what to do, in all of my years fixing computers I have never seen anything quite like this. I walk over to a screen that is labelled, “code information” but it requires a
finger print and a password to open it. “Will it take your fingerprint?” I ask Payden. “I don’t know. But I know the password is 8s46ybf4qtln772,” she replies. I type in that password but the screen just says, fingerprint ID needed. “I have an idea... the machine would take Lenny’s fingerprint, right?” Jane says. “Yeah, I’d think so,” Payden says. “Jane, we are not cutting off his finger,” I say, “I don’t care how angry you are at him, that’s just wrong.” “We don’t necessarily have to cut it off, and you’re telling me that’s wrong. You’re the one who shot him in the leg!” Jane shouts. “Well, I was under pressure,” I say. “Do you think that Lenny is still there? He couldn’t have gone far with his leg,” Payden mumbles. “It’s our only hope,” Jane says, “I’ll go find him but one of you will need to help me carry him.” “I’ll go,” Payden volunteers. “Okay. Kelly, you stay here and make sure that the machines don’t run away,” Jane says with a smirk on her face. “Very funny, Jane,” I tell her, “Now leave.” I point to the door. I close the door behind them and then turn off the lights. If anyone besides them comes down here, at least they won’t know I’m here. About fifteen minutes goes by and I’m already worried about them. Anything could’ve happened by now. They could be dead. But, just as I start to worry, I hear eight quick knocks on the door and I know it’s Jane because as little kids, that was always our secret knock. I open up the door to see Payden and Jane in tears carrying a passed out Lenny. “He’s gone! He’s gone!” “Why?!” Jane moans a loud sob. “Jane calm down, what’s wrong? Who is gone?” I ask. “Ryan. Is. Dead.” Payden sniffles. “What?! How?! That can’t be...” I say. “He’s dead, Kelly! The laser went straight through his head! It all happened so quickly, no one bothered to go find him!” Jane screams. “No... no... that... no!” I say, “How? How could he have died? I took the gun from Lenny! It’s not possible!” “If you don’t believe us then go look upstairs!” Jane says, crying so loud her voice starts cracking. “No. If Ryan really is dead then I have to do this,” I yell, pointing back at the machines. “It’s what he would want! Put Lenny’s pointer finger on that sensor and leave the room to let me work.” Payden and Jane struggle to find their footing as they make their
way across the room and press his finger on the machine. The screen turns bright blue and then turns on. I open a couple of files and continuously press delete. Then I wipe the machine of all its information. I do the same thing with the rest of the screens. I smash all of the silver chips and cubes and shoot at everything until the heat on the laser gun runs out. I make sure that there are no remains, and then I walk outside to find Payden and Jane still crying, on the floor. “Did you do it?” Payden asks. “I hope so.” It turns out that, that one free laser did hit something; it found a home in Ryan’s head. We take him to the emergency room but it’s too late. Ryan is dead and it’s my fault. I feel terrible. “How are we going to explain this to our parents and his parents?” Jane cries, as we walk back to Sallena Street ‐ the street where Jane, Ryan, and I grew up and still live on. “I should be the one to tell them, he is my cousin,” Payden says, “and they’re my aunt and uncle.” “I... I just can’t believe he’s gone. I... it’s my fault he’s dead, I should tell his parents.” I say. “Kelly, it’s not your fault, stop blaming yourself for what happened. Ryan died to save the world, and for that he is a legend. I swear they’re going to have statues of him all over the place,” Jane says, smiling through her tears. ”Yeah, Kelly it’s been a long day. I think you two should just go home. I’ll tell his parents,”Payden says. “It doesn’t seem right though.” I start to cry very loud and Jane hugs me. She’s crying too. “I guess I should get home and see my mom. She could burst at any moment.” “Wouldn’t want to miss that,” Jane says, smiling again. We walk to my driveway and I hug Jane and Payden. “Nice to meet you, Payden, and good luck.” I say, “Bye, Jane.” I wave goodbye as they continue to walk down the street, then I go inside. “There you are Kelly! Where have you been? Your mother’s in labor, we have to go!” My dad rushes me out the door and into the hover car. My mom is in the backseat with my older brother, Kyle, and breathing very loudly. “Ryan passed away today,” I tell my dad. “Oh, no, sweetie. Are you okay?” my mom says. She must have overheard me. Before I can say anything we’re at the hospital carrying my mom through the parking lot. We bring her in and a nurse gets her to a room. I’m not allowed in, though. On September 4th 8012 at 11:27pm my baby brother, Ryan, was born without a code on his wrist. Page 27 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
FICTION BY YOUTH
NOT MY BODY BY KRISTEN SMALL
could hear the slow beep beep beep of a machine beside me. I felt disoriented, like I had just woken from a dream. And I could smell something. That sanitary yet infectious smell of a hospital or a doctors office. What am I doing here? I knew the next step was to open my eyes, but even lifting my eyelids enough to see seemed to be a monumental task. I cracked open my eyes slightly so that I could peek through my eyelashes at what was in front of me. I was lying in a bed, covered only by what appeared to be a hospital gown, and a crisp, white sheet tucked in so tightly around me that I couldn’t move. I opened my eyes a little more. It kind of resembled a hospital room, or maybe a prison? The walls were painted that typical hospital blue, but the paint was old and cracked and there were stains on the walls that looked liked blood or other bodily fluids. I tried to turn my head to the side to get a better look around the room. I couldn’t. My neck didn’t feel sore. But maybe there was something wrong with it and that’s why I couldn’t turn my head. Maybe whoever put me in the place had also put some sort of neck brace on me to prevent me from turning it and causing further injury. I tried to lift my arms so I could get a better feel of what was happening with my neck. I couldn’t lift my arms. I couldn’t wiggle my toes or fingers. I opened my mouth to yell for help, and discovered that I couldn’t even scream. The machine beside me starting beeping faster. I heard a door quickly swing open somewhere to my right, and the sound of two distinct treads entering the room. “Oh my gosh, she really is awake,” a female voice said excitedly. Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 28
A bright, white light was shining into my eyes. It nearly blinded me. I closed my eyes and saw spots. “Good. Good response,” a male voice said to himself. I opened my eyes again and strained them as far to the right as possible. I saw a greasy looking middle-aged man writing something on a clipboard. His nametag said “ED” and he was holding a flashlight in one hand. Hovering behind him was a perky young female dressed in a nurses outfit that reminded me of a “sexy nurse” Halloween costume. I caught her eye and tried asking her, “where am I?” but nothing came out. “Oh my gosh, she is trying to speak. Doesn’t she know she can’t speak anymore?” The nurse muttered to the man. “Why don’t you call her husband? I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear that Angela has finally woken up,” he replied, staring again at his clipboard. The nurse mumbled something that I couldn’t quite hear, and then rushed out of the room. Ed spent a few more minutes examining the screen of the machine going beep beep beep beside me. He wrote some more notes on his clipboard, and then quickly strode out, the door swinging closed behind him. Where the hell am I? A few minutes later Ed returned with a tall, handsome man in a lab coat. “Angela, it’s nice to see you awake again,” the handsome man said. “You were a trooper through the surgery, and all went well with no complications. You have been asleep for quite a few days though. I just need to check some of your vitals to make sure everything is in order.” His nametag read “DR. REID”. He pulled back the white sheet that was tucked in so tightly around the bed, and
pressed the cold end of a stethoscope to my chest, listening to my heartbeat. I had so many questions I wanted to ask him. Was I in some kind of horrible car accident? What was this surgery he kept talking about? Dr. Reid finished listening to my chest. He reached behind my shoulders and pulled me forward ever so slightly, sliding the stethoscope down my back to listen to my lungs. Not being able to control my head movements on my own, my head flopped forward. My arms were lying on either side of my torso. My skin looked pale, my veins shining blue beneath my translucent skin. I noticed something on my left wrist. It looked almost like a tattoo of a name, but since I couldn’t move my arms I couldn’t rotate my wrist to read what it said. All I could make out were the upside down letters “LEY”. These are not my arms. My parents always threatened me that if I ever got a tattoo while they were alive they would write me out of their will, and I sure as hell wasn’t going risk being the family outcast over something like a tattoo. There is no way that tattoo, or those pale, veiny arms belonged to me. This is not my body. The door swung open again. Dr. Reid was still listening to my back, and I wasn’t able to see who was now entering the room. “Angela, I’m so happy you’re okay,” a familiar voice said, and I felt the hand of my husband, Jake, brush my hair back from my face. But I wasn’t okay. I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move, and I was in the wrong body. Dr. Reid slowly lowered my torso back onto the bed. I looked at Jake in the eyes and tried to convey to him that something was wrong. “Where am I?” I mouthed to
him. “Where are you? You mean you don’t remember?” Jake said, looking sideways at Dr. Reid. “She might still be foggy from the surgery,” Dr. Reid said. “She’s been through a lot these last few days, I’m sure her memory will come back to her. But she seems to be recovering beautifully and seems to be taking to the donor body quite well.” “That’s excellent. Thank you doctor,” Jake replied. “I’ll let you and Angela have some time together,” Dr. Reid said. “If you need anything just let me know.” “Thank you.” Jake and I were alone. He sat down on the bed next to me, reached under the sheet and pulled out one of the hands that didn’t belong to me. He laced his fingers through the fingers of the hand, pulled them up to his face, and kissed them gently. He had tears in his eyes. He was always such a stoic
person, and seeing him cry made me uncomfortable. “You know, Angela, I never wanted you to know how scared I was of losing you. After all these years of being single I felt like I finally found the person I was meant to spend the rest of my life with. Seriously, you are the love of my life. And I just, I mean, I wanted to be strong for you when you were sick,” he said, staring at the strange hand. “I was so scared that they wouldn’t find a donor body for you in time, and that I would lose you. And then it all happened so fast,” he was sobbing, “but I guess that’s all behind us now. Now we can get on with our lives. The doctors say you’ll be able to live for at least another ten years. You’ll probably be in the hospital for a couple of months, and then you’ll be able to come home. The kids are going to be so happy to see you.” It was weird, not being able to reply to him. It must have felt strange to him
too, and that’s why he just kept talking. I wanted to interrupt him, to tell him that it was all coming back to me now. My cancer diagnosis at age 27, and the exact words of the doctor telling me that I had “a month, maybe two” left to live. The decision to undergo a new procedure that the doctors told me was the “future of organ transplants”—a whole body transplant. The doctors must have had previous careers as salespeople because they made it sound great. I could extend my life for another ten or twenty years, long enough to see my children grow up and get married and start families of their own. They made it sound like such a perfect option. Well, then again, my only other option was dying so of course it seemed great. I looked at Jake’s face. He seemed so relieved, so happy that I was okay. I smiled. He kissed me. I made the wrong decision.
R.J. MCMILLEN’S DETECTIVE SERIES STRESSES COASTAL CLIMES AND CULTURAL CONNECTIONS BY CHERIE THIESSEN
rior to turning her hand to West Coast mysteries featuring a former cop as a reluctant detective, R.J. (Rachel) McMillen and her husband have explored B.C.’s coastal waters for the past 30 years on a 36-ft. sailboat they built, called Maquinna. Many of the scenes in her first novel, Dark Moon Walking, feature scenes from the mid-coast (Namu, Klemtu, Hakai Pass area). Now Nootka Island and Friendly Cove on the east side of Vancouver Island figure prominently in Black Tide Rising (TouchWood $14.95). Again Dan Connor is unwillingly in-
volved in a murder mystery when he discovers blood at the site of a destroyed sacred totem on the beach where Captain Cook landed at Friendly Cove (aka Yuquot) back in 1778, along with his naval trainees George Vancouver (junior midshipman on the Discovery) and William Bligh (master of the Resolution). Cook’s mainly amicable visit likely resulted in the term Nootka being erroneously introduced to describe the people he met, but Friendly Cove, as the English name for Maquinna’s summer village at Yuquot, wasn’t introduced until the visit of the En-
glish fur trader James Strange in 1786. With the comings and goings of four unsavoury villains, Nootka Island’s Friendly Cove is not living up to its name. Here, Chief Maquinna with Captain James Cook had the first documented European contact with coastal First Nations on land—and for several hundred years afterwards about 1500 Mowachaht/Muchalaht spent their summers at Friendly Cove, whaling. But now this spooky and historic beach is almost deserted except for a lighthouse and a self-elected First Nations caretaker Page 29 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
named Ray Williams and his wife who greet the tourists who arrive on the MV Uchuck 111 from Gold River. When retired cop Dan Connor arrives in his converted fish packer, Dreamspeaker,* he’s hoping to revisit some happy childhood memories of fishing in the area with his father, visiting the lighthouse and its long-time keepers, Gene and Mary Dorman. It has been 30 years since he saw them, as a child of ten. But as soon as he arrives, he learns that Margrethe, the wife of the Assistant Lighthouse keeper, Jens Rasmussen, has gone missing. It’s a desolate, remote place. Was she mentally unstable? Was there a bear attack? The risk of foul play has to be considered when Connor finds blood near a mysteriously defaced totem pole. Who the hell would want to carve up a Nuu-chah-nulth totem? Surely not Ray and Terry Williams’ son Sanford, himself a carver, who is visiting his parents from his home in Campbell River. Short staffed and under the gun to solve the case, Connor’s old boss, Mike Bryant, is soon deputizing the reluctant retiree, who had been looking forward to his upcoming get together in Kyuquot with the new romance in his life. It gets worse. Soon there is news of a body found near Kyuquot, identified as a missing troubled native youth from Gold River. The 14-year-old often ran away to Nootka Island, the traditional territory of his people. So did the currents take his body from Nootka to where it was found? It’s clear the author knows the area, the waters and the people tucked into remote coastal areas. Her insider knowledge and experiences bring a confidence and authenticity that add a much-welcomed documentary dimension to the book. Even some of her characters, mostly notably the Nuu-chah-nulth carver, Sanford Williams, are real people (he granted McMillen consent for him to appear in the novel.) Readers will find the rain, the squalls, the currents, and the tang of the sea stay with them after putting the book down. “Moving constantly between our home and work in the city, and the tiny, isolated, coastal communities, I realized that if I Winter 2015 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Page 30
continued to ignore all the knowledge and richness that other cultures offer, my life would be much poorer,” says McMillen. “So my husband and I started to sail the west coast and were exposed to First Nations’ knowledge and traditional culture, as well as their warmth and generosity— not to mention their patience and understanding with our ignorance.” In both her mysteries we are introduced to Walker, a First Nations protagonist who works alongside Connor, and on his own, to help solve the mystery. He’s a loner, someone who was severely disabled years before. It happened when he fell off a roof while he was being chased by Connor for a robbery. Walker has turned his life around. He now mostly lives in accordance with the old ways, living off the land and sea, embracing the mythology and spirituality of his ancestors, and somehow showing up whenever Connor heads into western waters and finds himself embroiled in crime. “While the plot may be that of a thriller, the story is also about the conflicts between two cultures—represented by Dan and Walker—and different lifestyles,” McMillen says. It’s also a tale rich in the supernatural. Justice can be meted out in different ways and nature is always a palpable force. Often in a thriller, the ‘who-dun-nits’ are not disclosed until the ending. McMillen gives us the bad guys from the get-go. So the suspense that arises from not knowing the criminals and their designs, so often the driving force for the reader, is missing from Black Tide Rising. “I wanted to provide more than a plot
that enthralled readers,” says McMillen. “I wanted to add depth and complexity in the characters, so by giving the thugs more depth and reality than is common, I wanted to add another layer.” Some readers may nonetheless feel some of the characters remain one-dimensional. Conversely, there is also a mysterious fourth man, who remains as an unknown figure. Possibly his identity will be divulged as the series continues. Tables will be turned in the third mystery in the series, Green River Falling, in which Walker will be asking Dan for help in finding a friend of his who is a suspect in a series of murders. These murders will occur along the proposed route of the northern pipeline. “The quest takes them from Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert,” says McMillen, “and onto the revived ghost town of Kitsault. It will challenge them both on three levels: physical, mental and spiritual.” Now a Summerland business owner and a freelance magazine writer, R.J. McMillen was born in England and raised in Australia. Cherie Thiessen regularly reviews fiction from Pender Island. [*Dreamspeaker is also the name of a 1977 movie, directed by Claude Jutra, featuring George Clutesi, that won seven Canadian Film Awards. It was written by Anne Cameron, who released Dreamspeaker as a novel in 1979. Anne and Laurence YeadonJones sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Southampton, England in 1985 in their 36foot sail boat named Dreamspeaker and have since published their Dreamspeaker sailing guides.]
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LETTERS TO THE FBCW WORDWORKS WOULD LIKE TO OFFER AN OPEN COLUMN TO ALL OF ITS READERS! Send us a question to firstname.lastname@example.org about anything somewhat writing related. If applicable, someone from the Federation will try to answer any questions.
Hi there, I have a self-published novel. I wanted to know if I should incorporate to be able to claim expenses. Is that the best way to go? I have to purchase and sell my books so I thought that’s a business along with having to pay editor fees etc. What do you think? I know there’s the distinction between hobbyist and business. But if I’m investing money to promote myself, isn’t that a business. I appreciate your help. I’ve spent from 4-5:15 am online researching and I’m still not confident with what to do. Hello, I am a Director at the Federation of BC Writers and have a presentation that I give across the province to writers. It is called Taxing Writers, which deals with, of course, the obligations for writers regarding taxation. The short answer to your question is that it is not necessary to incorporate, except for other reasons such as wishing to reduce any liability from the business perspective. As I also teach Small Business Operations at Langara College, I can say that there is a great deal more that could be said in that respect, but not in this venue. For regular writers, if you submit your personal income tax form and then elect to be called a “professional writer”, you will also include a T2125 form. This is for sole proprietors. The act of stating that you are a professional writer, and submitting the form, allows you to access a range of tax easements. It is not necessary to actually make income for a number of years as long as you have the intention to make an income as a writer. They trust us. I hope you are able to attend one of my presentations. There is supposed to be a schedule on our website soon. Cheers, George Opacic Director; FBCW
Hello, Im looking for a writer/editor to help me finish my book. It is autobiographical and almost finished. Im not a writer so I need a professional to help me complete it. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you Hi, Are you a member of the Federation? I have a few suggestions for you, either way. If you’ve written a book, I’d call you a writer! Maybe you don’t have the experience to know all of the tips and tricks, but still, writer. Anyhow, I digress. If you’d like to find that perfect person to ghost write for you, then I would consider advertising. You could either advertise with our magazine, WordWorks, as an individual or join, and advertise as a member. Also, if you join, you will receive notifications of workshops and tutorials, which might help you finish that book on your own. If your book is mostly finished, but needs just editing, consider contacting an editing association like PEAVI. They can suggest a local professional to help you edit your manuscript. Please let me know if I can help in any other way. All the best, Shaleeta Harper Communications; FBCW Hello, Does the Federation offer resource information and experience with maintaining personal privacy, ie legal name and home address, while self-publishing as a sole proprietor under a pen name? I live in Vancouver, am not a member, but am considering joining the Federation and would like to know if this is something the Federation can assist with. The copy edit of my non-fiction manuscript has just been completed, I’m now looking at the design and marketing and before going any further, need information on how to establish an online identity and website, while protecting my personal privacy.
If this isn’t something the Federation can assist with, can you recommend any resources that might? Thanking you in advance. Hello there, You bring up a point that writers do face on occasion. I have to start by saying that, not being lawyers, we cannot give legal advice. This next site is the closest we have in BC to lawyers who have concentrated in something close to the field: artistslegaloutreach.ca The problem for the legal community is the very low activity (and income) outside of Toronto, so lawyers are not drawn to this specialization. What I can say is something that comes from personal experience, so it may, or may not, be applicable to your situation. I give a presentation on behalf of the Federation of BC Writers around the province on Identity Theft as a general topic. If you wish to see that presentation, it will be given in the fall in select community libraries – please do check back on dates and locations. We writers have the difficult tightrope walk of wanting to maintain our privacy, and needing to market our publications. Most say, “Ah the heck with it!”, and just live with the spam and hack attempts. Those who need to keep their heads below the security parapets will consider using a pen name. This site has a very good overview, and check out the Comments: writersrelief.com/ blog/2008/06/pen-names-what-you-need-toknow-about-using-a-pseudonym/ I know a fellow—If he becomes a writer he may consider adopting a pen name. Were he to do that, he would follow the advice in the website and maintain his legal relationship with the publisher and as copyright holder under his real name. The book would be “authored” by Simpson Lipshitz, or Larry Simpson, or… I hope this gives you something to chew on. Cheers, George Opacic Director; FBCW
Page 31 ◆ WordWorks ◆ Winter 2015
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