Page 1


2018 RCLAS Write On! Contest Judges (Our 2017 Winners) Sylvia Symons grew up in northern BC. She now lives with her family in Vancouver where she rides a bicycle with a rusty chain, volunteers as a collective member at Room magazine and teaches ESL at a community college. Her poetry appears in EVENT, Geist, Room, Best Canadian Poetry 2016, and the Sustenance anthology (Anvil Press).

Clara Cristofaro works as a cheerful bureaucrat by day and a writer and parent by night. She is a recent graduate of The Writer's Studio at SFU, with work published in emerge16 and the Cheese Issue of SAD Magazine. The 2017 Write On! contest is the first she's won since eighth grade. She lives in New Westminster, BC.

Grayson Smith was born in Alberta, but spent most of his school years in Germany before moving to the Lower Mainland to attend Simon Fraser University. For the vast majority of these years, he spent time writing stories when he should have been paying attention in his various classes. He is currently a police officer, and also the primary at Peppermint Toast Publishing, an independent small press in New Westminster that produces children's books in active partnerships with local charities. Grayson lives in New Westminster with his wife and three sons, each of whom are smarter and better-dressed than he is.


C.J. Prince

C.J. Prince, Bellingham, Washington, picks her own pockets for words, wears a shawl of metaphors, and a wide brimmed hat of grammar. Prince most recently published Fox, a chapbook, and is author of the poetry book Mother, May I?, a novel Canvas Angels, and Twenty Four Houses, a chapbook. Under the pseudonym of Deirdre H. Moon, she is published in “Fondis Chronicles.”

Prince is currently working on a poetry book “Where the Cancer Can’t Get You: Leiomyosarcoma and other Poems.” She has written a screenplay and hundreds of TV scripts. Her poetry has been published in Clover, a Literary Rag, Raging Waters, Whatcom Writes.

Prince received the Distinguished Poet Award from Writers International Canada. She is a co-founder of World Peace Poets and Peace Poetry Postcards. She cofounded and MCs Creekside Open Mic. She teaches Tai Chi and writing practice groups and paints in oils.


Thank you to writer Jacqueline Carmichael! Thanks to everyone who came out to “Tellers of Short Tales” on January 11, 2018. We hope to see you all at our next ToST THURS FEB 7, 2018 featuring author Ica Iova,6 to 8 pm at Anvil Centre.

THANK YOU to all our open mic readers! We appreciate you sharing your stories with us!

A Winter Storm Š Jerena Tobiasen

The 11:00 a.m. ferry from Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay was one of the older, smaller vessels used to convey passengers to Vancouver Island. The usual sailing took one hour and thirty-five minutes, and straddled the lunch hour. We had decided to grab a light lunch on board and, as soon as we had safely discharged our vehicle, we headed for the cafeteria, queuing up behind the dozen or so other passengers who had arrived before us. Outside the cafeteria window, we watched as rain poured down in sheets. Heavy rain is common during West Coast winters, and locals are accustomed to it. Unfortunately, a heavy deluge can be accompanied by a wicked and powerful wind, and winter storms and ferry crossings do not mix well. We were travelling to Victoria to visit my mother-in-law, a pleasant task conducted once a month to ensure she would not forget that she was remembered. We always hoped for, and expected, an uneventful crossing, and were likewise rewarded. However, this day, our expectations were considerably misplaced. § Standing in a lunch line-up is not so bad, unless one is hungry. We were, but we occupied the wait by watching the weather activity outside the large window. Seagulls were the only creatures senseless enough to be out in it. They thrilled at riding the swirling wind currents like a roller coaster, diving and gliding with enviable skill. The gale-force wind blustered stiffly from the southwest, plastering the windows with a mixture of salty seawater and monstrous rain drops. At seventy kilometers an hour, the wind picked up the top of

the ten-foot swells creating ghostly sprays that danced and dissipated into drops that fell along the shore and over the ferry. The small ferry pulled away from the dock slowly, almost too slowly. In the stillness of the movement, one could imagine the skipper and his crew struggling to keep the vessel straight as it cleared the dock, but the wind was relentless and drove the ferry back, slamming it against the dock with a bang and a shutter that reverberated throughout the ship. I looked at my husband as I reached for something sturdy to grasp. “That’s not good,” I said. “I’ve never seen a ferry pushed into a dock by the wind.” The impact evoked a collection of astonished squeals and gasps, and other remarks similar to my own. Like me, standing passengers staggered to stay upright, reaching for anything that would offer anchorage. Two trays clattered to the cafeteria floor and dishes rattled in the galley. The ship’s engines powered on, scraping the hull along the bollards until it finally cleared the dock. § In the open Strait, the gale blew with anger, increasing in strength and power. The sea swells amplified. Free from the confines of the dock, the ferry began to roll, side-to-side, first up, then down. Still in line waiting to be served, we watched through the window as the ship rolled starboard into the sea, and wondered whether we were about to get our feet wet. The horizon disappeared. The roll stopped. The motion hesitated, then began again, up-righting the ship and continuing to roll to port, with only roiling gray clouds in view. The roll stopped. The motion hesitated again, then began a return roll to starboard. The relentless rolling continued as the ship edged across the Strait of Georgia. People staggered through the food line. We bought drinks in paper cups with lids, and some unmemorable finger food, paid the cashier and struggled to reach the nearest table before our purchases parted company with the tray on the next swell.

“Attention all passengers,” a voice announced over the ship’s speakers. “As you are aware, we are experiencing some weather this morning. The captain asks that, for your safety, you find the nearest seat and make yourselves comfortable, until further notice.” Passengers scrambled for seats. We stayed where we were, in the cafeteria, and held onto the table to keep from sliding onto the floor. A young woman turned away from the cashier, having just paid for a meal that she intended to share with her small boy. She staggered toward the tables, balancing her tray of food in one hand and holding onto her son’s hand with the other. My husband reached for her tray. I extended my hand and encouraged her and her son to sit with us. “Sorry to barge in,” she said. “Don’t even think about it,” my husband said with welcoming smile. “It’s too dangerous to search for another table.” § The swells intensified. Something crashed in the galley. Loud shouting and commands filled the eerie quiet. A rope suddenly appeared at the entrance to the food line, and static from the ship’s speakers filled the air. “This is the captain speaking. Due to the rough weather, all ferry services are suspended until further notice. In the meantime, I ask that everyone – passengers and crew – find a safe place to sit, immediately.” The half empty cafeteria promptly filled with concerned galley crew. For thirty-five minutes, the small ferry pressed its way across the Strait, rolling this way and that on swells that seemed to be half its height. Like the little engine that could, its engines pumped ‘I think I can, I think I can,’ and headed towards the shelter of Active Pass between the Islands of Mayne and Galiano. No one moved from their seats. The galley crew had abandoned spilled soup and gravy, broken dishes and everything else that was not battened down when the captain gave orders to sit. Some crew, even seasoned ones, turned as green as the weakkneed passengers singled out to suffer the bite of seasickness. The

eerie quiet continued. Only murmured reassurances could be heard as parents tried to comfort wide-eyed children, or terrified worriers were coaxed to relax with calming words of trusted friends. Others prayed quietly for divine intervention. Some of the crew muttered amongst themselves that they had never encountered such heavy weather; while others marveled that, despite years of service on the open seas, they had never had such an experience. § Twenty minutes later, the captain announced, “Folks, we’re just about to enter Active Pass. Please remain in your seats. It may get a little bumpy through the turn.” A burst of nervous laughter followed as a few of the more quickwitted crew and passengers processed what the captain had said. In turn, they repeated his words to others and the laughter spread. The tension of a very long half hour had been broken, and a collective sigh rippled through the ship as she began the turn. While, no one moved, people began to chatter about the unusual crossing. As the gale became a wind and the rolling swells became a choppy sea, the galley crew regained their sea legs, and set about restoring the cafeteria. Trays and dirty dishes were collected. Broken glass and the muck of soup and gravy was scraped and washed from the floor, and, in time, the rope was removed from the entrance to the food line. “Phew! I’m glad that’s over!” I said. “Why don’t we go for a walk? I need to stretch my legs.” My husband pushed himself up from the table. “We’ll be docking soon enough, and I bet a lot of folks will be looking for their lunch now,” he said. “They won’t have much time, but we should free up the seats for those who are brave enough to try,” I said, relieved that we were out of the storm. Indeed, a few hearty passengers found their way to the cafeteria. The majority, however, remained in their seats.

We walked around the entire deck, marveling at the quiet of the sea compared to the crossing. We had sailed out of rough weather into the brilliant sunshine warming the Gulf Islands. The skipper had out-maneuvered the storm and kept the small ferry, its crew and passengers safe. § Nearing the cafeteria once again, we spied a bank of seats, enough for six and occupied only by two. As we approached, I discerned quickly the reason for the available seats. Both occupants had vacant faces with glazed eyes. Each clutched a paper bag by the throat. The smell of fresh vomit permeated the air around them. These poor souls were true examples of those weak-kneed passengers singled out to suffer the bite of seasickness. We silently sent them thoughts of compassion and left them to their misery. Having walked full-circle and found nowhere to sit, we returned to the cafeteria, assumed some still-empty seats and waited for the captain’s docking announcement. § The rain had poured in sheets. Gale-force winds had blown. The sea had churned. Despite the weather, the small ferry had sailed true, and delivered us safely to the dock at Schwartz Bay. Passengers and vehicles disembarked and, like the weather, dissipated, carrying us along with them.

---------------------------------------------------------------- A Winter Storm copyright Jerena Tobiasen

Upcoming Events –February 2018 Info: RCLAS Write On! Contest 2018 Call for Submissions Important Dates: • Submissions open January 15, 2018 • Deadline April 1, 2018 • Winners will be announced April 30, 2018 3 Categories: o Non-Fiction (1500 words max) o Fiction (1500 words max) o Poetry (1 page single spaced max) RCLAS presents “Songwriters Open Mic Night” Date: Tuesday, February 6, 2018 Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Free admission. Location: The Heritage Grill, Backstage Room, 447 Columbia St, New Westminster, BC Hosts: Enrico Renz, Lawren Nemeth and Poul Bech More info Description: Original music only, performed by the songwriters! Great venue: good sound, food, beverages and a friendly, supportive audience that actually listens. RCLAS presents “Wordplay” Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2018. 7:00pm – 9:00pm, Free admission. Location: Buy-Low Foods Community Room, 555 – 6th Street, New Westminster Host: Julia Schoennagel More info Description: Wordplay is our monthly idea-generating drop-in series for writers of all kinds. Find new approaches to your writing; unlock that treasure chest in your head! This group generates some fabulous first drafts; all you need to bring is writing tools, paper, and a ready mind. This is not a critique group; let’s have some fun!

RCLAS presents “Tellers of Short Tales” Date: Thursday February 8, 2018. 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free admission. Location : Anvil Centre, Room 411B, 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster Host: Deborah L. Kelly with Open Mic Feature Author: Ica Iova Open Mic Sign Up will be available for writers who would like to share their stories. More info Description: A program of monthly readings designed to engage fans of the short story genre with emerging and published short story writers. BIO: Ica Iova is a self and traditionally published award-winning author of several books. She writes what she enjoys reading. In her novels, she brings to life powerful relationships, flawed but gripping characters, and of course, happy endings, that remind readers that life is too precious to waste on insignificant things. She is currently a member of Federation of BC Writers, as well as three critique groups. When she is not writing, editing, or marketing, she’s a proud wife, mother, and grandmother, with a substantial sense of humour. She loves spending time with her family and pets, shopping for shoes, or just lazing around with a good book. Website:

RCLAS Writing Workshop: NOT-ALL-ABOUT-ME MEMOIR: Keeping the Reader

Engaged. Facilitator: Patricia Donahue Reserve your spot: Date: Saturday February 10, 2018, Time: 1:30pm – 3:30pm Location: Anvil Centre, Room 411 A, 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster Workshop Fees: RCLAS Members $15/Non-members $25 Pay via Paypal here: Description: The writing of memoir - one’s own history - can take various forms. Life events outlined chronologically, by critical events, or tracking migration, are some examples. Tempting as it is, to simply document what happened, when and where, the author who wants an ear to their unique story, must structure for a successful telling. Reader engagement, even if the target audience is only one’s family members, is a vital consideration. The workshop will explore alternative approaches to telling one’s story. Alternating instruction with related writing exercises, participants can experiment to discover the best approach to their definitive memoir. Examination of at least one page-turner memoir, will highlight the elements that sets it apart. The participant will be challenged to write what’s real and personal to them, using the minimum of

‘me’ and ‘I’ usage; an approach that is certain to plumb deeper levels of creativity. And, instead of relying solely on one’s own point-of-view, alternates will be explored. This fun-filled workshop is an opportunity to draft your memoir blueprint, or sharpen your story-inprogress. BIO: Patricia A. Donahue is published academically in international journals on Morita Therapy. Turning to fiction, she penned the Mighty Orion Series, focused on mending family relationships. The third installment, Mighty Orion - Accord, (Borealis Press) was recently released. Her shorter literary pieces are in anthologies, local magazines and in newspapers. Following an extended stay in Argentina, Patricia wrote Claudia, an e-novel (; a coming-of-age story set on the pampas in 1810. An instructor in formal and creative writing at university, she is a presenter & panelist at writers’ festivals, and continues to present writing workshops. She was the featured author for the University of British Columbia’s (Kelowna Campus) Fifth Anniversary celebrations, and won the Okanagan Literary Arts Award, 2012. In 2017, she won the Global Peace Alliance Literary Prize for her story ‘My Little Sister Marte’. Patricia judged the prose entries for the latest Cecelia Lamont Literary Contest and was one of the featured authors for LitCafe, Alexandra House, 2018. A memoir workshop to remember was one she presented to an enthusiastic group in Dalhousie, northern New Brunswick, the very setting of her series. For their anniversary celebration, Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival (formerly the Shuswap Writers’ Festival) invited Patricia to present a workshop in May 2018.

RCLAS presents “In Their Words: A Royal City Reading Series” Date: Thurs, March 15, 2018, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Free admission Location: Anvil Centre, 4th Floor, Rm TBA, 777 Columbia St, New Westminster Host: Ruth Kozak 3 Featured Readers: Sylvia Taylor reads Pamela C. Ball (historical fiction) KB Nelson reads Susan Blackwell Ramsey (poetry) Janene White reads A.A. Milne "Winnie the Pooh". Description: In Their Words happens on the 3rd Thursday of every other month. Feature speakers present their favourite author from any genre in poetry, fiction, non-fiction or drama. Presentations include a brief commentary about the author and a reading of selections that exemplify what the presenter loves about the author’s work. A short Q&A follows each presenter. ...and a reminder for all you poets and poetry lovers: “Poetic Justice/Poetry New West” Sunday Afternoons (except Holiday Weekends) Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm, Free admission. Location: The Heritage Grill, Backstage Room, 447 Columbia St, New West Description: Two Featured poets and Open Mic. Admission is free but donations are welcomed. For information visit and Email


Janet Kvammen, RCLAS Vice-President/E-zine OR

RCLAS Members Open Call for Submissions No theme required to submit. Suggested themes include Spring Blossoms, Solstice, Rain, Form poetry. Ongoing Submissions for upcoming a “New Westminster” Theme Special Feature. Poetry, Short Stories, Book excerpts, articles & lyrics are all welcome for submission to future issues of Wordplay at work.

Submit Word documents (Please include YOUR NAME and Title on document name) to

Thank you to our Sponsors & Venues 

City of New Westminster

Anvil Centre

Arts Council of New Westminster

Buy-Low Foods

The Heritage Grill

New Westminster Public Library

The dragonfly can't quite land on that blade of grass.


See upcoming events at


February 2018 Wordplay at work ISSN 2291- 4269 Contact: RCLAS Vice-President/ E-zine

February 2018 RCLAS Ezine issue 51  

February 2018 EZINE ISSUE 51 ISSN 2291- 4269, 77 pages. Writer of the Month: C.J. Prince. Write on! Contest News & Announcement of Judge...

February 2018 RCLAS Ezine issue 51  

February 2018 EZINE ISSUE 51 ISSN 2291- 4269, 77 pages. Writer of the Month: C.J. Prince. Write on! Contest News & Announcement of Judge...