Freelance February / March 2014 Volume 44 Number 2
In this issue:
Saskatchewanâ€™s New Poet Laureate Dues Doing You In? To MFA or Not to MFA - That is the Question Storytelling
Vol. 44 No. 2/SWG Freelance February / March 2014 ISSN 0705-1379
© Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, 2014 President’s Report................. ..............................................................................1 Executive Director’s Report...............................................................................2 Saskatchewan’s New Poet Laureate..................................................................4 To MFA or Not to MFA- That is the Question...............................................6 School Readings: A Primer (Part One)...........................................................8 Dues Doing You In?.........................................................................................10 Storytelling........................................................................................................12 Finding and Writing the Creative Nonfiction Short Story..........................14 Poetry and Imagination...................................................................................16 Space-Time Continuum..................................................................................18 In Memoriam....................................................................................................20 Books By Members...........................................................................................22 Member News...................................................................................................25 Calls of Interest.................................................................................................25 Professional Development...............................................................................26 SWG Highlights................................................................................................28
Contributors to this Issue Shirley Byers Edward Willett Robert Currie Michelle Greysen Gerry Hill Rodger Ross Jeanette Lynes Dianne Young
On the Cover: Circles of Care, 2006. Artist Leah Dorion This painting celebrates how knowledge and wisdom passed forward from the community and family circle can lift the various members of the society into a magnificent state of being. Correction: Last Freelance should have been marked Volume 44, Number 1.
Freelance is published six times per year for members of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. Submissions to Freelance are welcome for editorial review. If accepted, articles will be edited for clarity. The basic criteria to meet in submitting materials are readership interest, timeliness, and quality and following the standard submission format (see Guild website). Viewpoints expressed in contributed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the SWG. We do not accept poetry or prose at this time. Copyright for articles, reports, photographs, and other visual materials or text remains with the creator and cannot be used or reprinted without permission. SWG pays for one time rights/use only. Payment for articles and reports is 10 cents a word. Photographs and other visuals are paid at a rate of $25 each. Cover art payment is $75. Deadline for the next issue of Freelance: March 4, 2014. SWG BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jeanne Alexander (President), Regina; Gina Rozon (Vice-President), Regina; Harriet Richards (Secretary), Saskatoon; Bevann Fox (Treasurer), Regina; Heather Getz, Regina; Tekeyla Friday, Swift Current; Marianna Topos, Regina; Brian Cobbledick, Regina. Design & Layout Jessica Riess
Contact Us SWG Regina Office Contact P: 306-757-6310 Toll Free: 1-800-667-6788 F: 306-565-8554 E: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.skwriter.com Mailing Address Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Box 3986, Regina, SK S4P 3R9 Regina Courier or Drop-Off Address 1150 8th Avenue, Suite 100 Regina, SK S4R 1C9 SWG Saskatoon Office Contact P: 306-955-5513 F: 306-244-0255 E: email@example.com Mailing Address Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild Bessborough Hotel Suite 719- 601 Spadina Cresent Saskatoon, S7K 3G8
The Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild gratefully acknowledges the support of SaskCulture, Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund and the Saskatchewan Arts Board
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
SWG President’s Report
ttending the induction ceremony of Judith Krause as Saskatchewan’s new Poet Laureate at Government House with a goodly number of people from the writing community and several government officials was a pleasure. Thank you to Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield and her staff for hosting the evening. Judith graciously read from the works of former Saskatchewan Poet Laureates as part of her presentation. Personally and publicly she expressed her gratitude to the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild for the support it provides to the writing community of Saskatchewan. She stated that without the resources provided by the SWG her journey as a writer would have been far more difficult. As your President I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the offerings provided by the SWG and avail yourself of the assistance they can either provide for you or the places the SWG can direct you to in order to build on your unique talents.
The Access 7 interviews conducted at the SWG’s fall conference are now being aired with other episodes of material on Access 7 weekdays. Please be reminded to contact Judith Silverthorne, our SWG Executive Director, if you have any suggestions, concerns or questions. The SWG staff and facility exist to assist you, the members.
the new board in November to review board governance policies. Thank you to the Saskatchewan Lotteries, through SaskCulture for the recent awarding of the Capacity Building Grant that will assist us in holding a facilitated board strategic planning retreat, and allow us to do an economic study on the status of writers. The arts serve the public interest and it is good to know that our contribution is not only recognized, but is supported by government. Condolences are extended to the family of Gertrude Story. I recall attending a seminar with her in the late 1970s. As a young person I remember her talking about the writer’s voice or that urge to tell a story. Her short stories about plain folks were part and parcel of early Saskatchewan writings that began to have credence with the artist community. Many years later, I was privileged to have her as an instructor for a writing workshop in Sherman Park. At that time, she exhorted us to listen to the writers voice within and not deny the rich gift we’d been given. She was a great walker and walked all over the city revelling in the here, the now, and the ordinary. Our lives and writing are much richer for having had her in our midst. Sincerely, Jeanne Alexander
Words on Air will now air at 12:30 noon, Wednesdays on CJTR. Thank you all for the excellent response from writers. We may have to go to a one-hour format to accommodate all the interest. How appreciative I am to have received all the thank yous from the writing community about the program. Just a reminder, when you catch someone doing something right, tell them. Positive affirmations are excellent motivators. As a writing community it is important to keep our works and ourselves front and center. Please let us know about your group, new works, events etc. via Ebriefs, Freelance or any of the other places and ways that promote the craft of writing. For example, how great is it to open a copy of your local newspaper and see stories about local writers or to search the cyber-world and find a trove of Saskatchewan writing. The next SWG Board Meeting will be held in February. We thank Rose Gilks, General Manager of SaskCulture, for attending our board orientation and the first meeting with
Eugene Stickland reading at Writing North. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Executive Director’s Report 2014 is upon us with the harsh reality of brutal winter weather, yet we Saskatchewan writers persevere [despite danger of frozen fingers and a touch of frost on the brain — what other reason might there be for us remain in this province during the winter?] With any luck, by the time you read this, we will be in a state of thaw, or at the very least, feverishly anticipating one.
Mary Balough presenting at the SWG’s Write After Lunch session, in Regina. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
REE Noon Hour Talks We bid you a warm welcome to participate in what’s new on the horizon for Guild members this year. First is our FREE noon hour talk series being held at the Regina Guild office the first Tuesday of each month. No registration is required. Just drop in with your bag lunch for a relaxing time to hear a favourite writer talk about the craft of writing in their genre. Our plan is to live stream these talks around the province in the near future for those who have high-speed access to the internet. You may even hear about this before you receive this issue of Freelance. We also anticipate posting these talks on the Guild’s YouTube channel in the months to come.
“Live Streaming” Professional Development Workshops Once we have the talk series running smoothly with the live streaming process, we will introduce professional development workshops in this format. They will run live in Regina or Saskatoon as usual with registration and fees required, and then we will send you the link to be able to participate from the comfort of your own home, regardless of where you live, provided you have the necessary access to the internet. We have the City of Regina’s Community Capital Partnership grant to thank for providing the funds to purchase the equipment necessary for the Guild to
connect to the far regions of the province and beyond. Renewed Lottery Agreement On January 13th, Parks, Culture and Sport Minister, Kevin Doherty, announced a renewed lottery agreement, (of 3.75%) which guarantees that sport, culture and recreation organizations will continue to receive and benefit from Saskatchewan Lotteries proceeds over the next five years. “We appreciate the Government of Saskatchewan’s commitment to this new lottery agreement,” SaskCulture President James Ingold said. “Lottery-funded organizations help communities access, embrace and celebrate the province’s cultural diversity, contributing to the growth of inclusive and engaged communities where Saskatchewan people can live, work and play.” The Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild is especially grateful for this announcement, as the potential is there for the Guild to continue receiving lottery dollars for our operations. Letters of thanks are in order, and the Guild gratefully acknowledges the many valuable programs and services we are able to offer through lottery funding and our funding administrators, SaskCulture and the Saskatchewan Arts Board.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
More Thanks to Funders Another funder we thank whole heartedly is SaskCulture for their most recent awarding of another Capacity Building Project grant. The Guild will use it partly for a board strategic planning meeting in the spring, with the majority going to fund a study on the economic status of writers in Saskatchewan. The objective is to gain an accurate picture of economic conditions for writers in the province as the first stage in identifying deficiencies and solutions. We will then use this material to advocate for economic stability for writers, creating information that speaks to the provincial government’s emphasis on economic stimulus and growth, including the province’s Plan for Growth. We will be sending a survey to our members in the near future to ask for your assistance in gathering information for this study.
In addition, the Guild was fortunate to be awarded a separate SaskCulture project grant—the Multicultural Initiatives Fund (MIF)—to develop policies and procedures on Equity and Diversity around our operations, programs and services. Although the Guild has been active in this area for some time, there is still a great deal of work we can do to welcome more diversity throughout the organization. We hope to have a healthy chunk of work done on this project by late spring.
GST on Guild Programs and Services Please note that as of Sept 1, 2013 and effective from now on, according to CRA regulations, the Guild must charge GST on all of our programs and services, with the exclusion of membership fees. (Donations are also exempt). For example, the current rate of 5% GST is to be added when calculating payments for all registrations for conferences, workshops, retreats and manuscript evaluations and publications. This is something we are required to pay by law as we have reached a threshold point of revenues from our professional development and other sources. The Guild thanks you for graciously accepting this new change. The Guild reluctantly has accepted Melanie MacKay’s resignation. We will miss her fine work in her role as the Aboriginal Program Coordinator. We are pleased that she is engaging in a full-time position in her career path and we wish her every success. According to ‘those in the know’ 2014 is supposed to be a year of transformation. I take this as a positive prophecy, so it might be an exciting time for us all. Keep watch for new and motivating adventures the Guild has to offer this coming year. May your writing be even more productive and prosperous in the future. Best regards, Judith Silverthorne
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SASKATCHEWAN WRITERS’ GUILD DONATIONS
Help us continue to serve Saskatchewan’s writing community swg General Donations for pressing or imminent needs in administrative, equipment and programming Writers/Artists Retreats to help provide a quiet refuge for uninterrupted writing uninterrupted writing time and thought-provoking exchange of ideas after working hours. Grain Magazine to assist in publishing SWG’s nationally and internationally recognized literary quarterly. Andrew Suknaski Writers Assistant Fund (WAF) to assist members in an urgent and immediate need Patricia Armstrong Fund to support educational programming for rural writers. Make cheque or money order payable to: Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, Box 3986, Regina SK S4P 3R9 You can also donate via Paypal at: www.skwriter.com/payments-and-donations
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Saskatchewan’s New Poet Laureate By Robert Currie
udith Krause was officially recognized as Saskatchewan’s fifth Poet Laureate in a January 13th ceremony at Government House under the patronage of Lieutenant Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield. On that occasion, Ms. Krause said, “To grow a poet takes a lot of nurturing” and went on to dedicate her reading to all the nurturers, and especially to her mother, the well-known Regina writer, Pat Krause, who taught her daughter to read before she entered kindergarten and early on turned her into a book-lover. While still in her teens, the daughter returned the favour by signing them both up for a creative writing class with Ken Mitchell. The nurturing has continued throughout her life, making Ms. Krause well-qualified for the Poet Laureate position; she has taken creative writing classes and workshops from many other fine instructors, including Anne Szumigalski, Patrick Lane, Paulette Jiles, and Sharon Olds. Two poetry workshops in the summer program at the University of Iowa led her to the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina where she earned
a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. However, Ms. Krause also credits much of her learning to her membership in the Moose Jaw Movement (now called the Poets’ Combine), a writing group that she helped found back in 1975. Members of that group also learn from her, and often comment on the value of her poetic criticism as well as her broad knowledge of North American poetry. For example: when the group deals with guest poems by unnamed authors, it is Ms. Krause who most often identifies the poet who wrote the poem. Because of her long association with the Saskatchewan writing community, Ms. Krause was a popular choice for the Poet Laureate position. She has taught creative writing classes for the Extension Department at the University of Regina, the Saskatchewan School of the Arts at Fort San and the Sage Hill Writing Experience in Lumsden, and has worked three times as a mentor in the SWG Apprenticeship Program. She has served as a member of the Sage Hill board and the Grain advisory committee, as Literary Arts Consultant to the Saskatchewan Arts Board, and as President of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. She also has broad editing experience, having worked on a variety of Saskatchewan periodicals and anthologies and edited six collections by individual poets. Currently, she teaches at SIAST in Regina. It’s important, of course, that, first and foremost, the Poet Laureate be a gifted poet, and Judith Krause has proven herself exactly that over a long career. She has published four exceptional books: What We Bring Home (Coteau, 1986), Half the Sky (Coteau, 1994), Silk Routes of the Body (Coteau, 2001), and Mongrel Love (Hagios, 2008). A fifth book, tentatively entitled Homage to Happiness, will be available this fall from Hagios Press. Over the years Ms. Krause’s poetry has twice won the City of Regina Writing Award, as well as winning prizes in the SWG Literary Awards and “Short Grain” competitions, being shortlisted for Saskatchewan Book awards, and co-winning the Ralph Gustafson Poetry Award. She has also been awarded residencies and fellowships in the US at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her poetry, which is warm, wise and witty, has prompted admiring comments from many contemporary writers. Here are three examples:
Judith Krause, new Poet Laureate. Photo Credit: Tom Bartlett.
Garry Geddes notes that, “like the Bluethroated Sphinx Moth she admires, Judith Krause has developed the
SWG Freelance February / March 2014 equipment needed to dip into the labyrinthine flower of the human ear and stir us once again to love, for each other and for the natural world.” Mary di Michele says, “you simply cannot read Judith Krause’s poetry without being touched by ‘something simple, something blessed.’” Jeanette Lynes adds, “there is a subtle, yet rich lyric architecture in [her] poems that house past loves, present loves, memory, and the ‘favourite rooms’ of the heart. These poems are rooms I will return to and inhabit many times.” Judith Krause takes a down-to-earth approach to writing poetry that should appeal to writers and readers alike. “Writing,” she says, “is a lot like gardening. It requires hard work, patience, a passion for creating, a willingness to experiment, ruthless weeding, acceptance that there are no guarantees, and a crazy desire to keep trying.” Asked what she is most looking forward to as Poet Laureate, Ms. Krause said that, “one of the most exciting things is the opportunity to introduce to a wider audience the work of some of Saskatchewan’s finest poets who are not household names.” She plans on reading a few poems by others wherever she is asked to appear.
Note: Those wishing to invite the Poet Laureate to an event should email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Tracy Hamon, the SWG Program Manager, at (306) 7917743.
Judith Krause, new Saskatchewan Poet Laureate reading from her work. Photo Credit: Shelley Banks.
Robert Currie was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in 2009. His latest book is a novel, Living with the Hawk.
Get the word out! Advertise in Freelance, and receive a 25% discount with your SWG membership! To learn more, visit our website. www.skwriter.com
The new Saskatchewan Poet Laureate, Judith Krause and her Honour the Honourable Vaughn Solomon Schofield. Photo Credit: Shelley Banks.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
To MFA or Not to MFA – That is the Question By Jeannette Lynes
hanks to the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild for the opportunity to weigh in on the topic, ‘MFA in Writing Programs – Benefits to Writers’. This is, in fact, a longstanding debate. Some people enjoy brandishing lists of famous writers who did not study an MFA in Writing, or even attend university. Good for them. There are also lengthy – and probably growing – lists of writers who are celebrated and who did earn a graduate degree in creative writing. Of course one does not have to study writing at a university, either at the undergraduate or graduate level, in order to become a writer. A graduate degree in writing does not guarantee a livelihood or even full-time employment, as most writers know – unless the writing is supplemented by teaching or some other day job, an inheritance or lottery win.
So why would someone undertake an MFA in Writing? Reasons vary. People have a range of agendas when they apply for graduate study. The most frequently cited reasons for undertaking graduate work in creative writing include: the motivating factor of deadlines; the incentive of having readers for one’s work; the accreditation and validation afforded by a degree from an accredited institution; the mentorship that informs a writing project; the opportunity to work with professional writers; the building of community and networks; the challenge of it all. When I undertook a low-residency MFA in the United States, it was to impose on myself a reading program. I have never needed motivation to write. Oddly, perhaps, I needed motivation to read. The program’s reading assignments opened a whole new world to me. In her recent book, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett argues that doing an MFA in Writing helps writers learn from the mistakes of others. While I understand Patchett’s point, I would like to think that an MFA also helps us celebrate the successes of others. True, we can learn what is not working in a piece of writing, but I think we also learn what is working. Our peers, in an MFA program, are also our muses and inspirations. This is not to say that writers are not competitive; we often are – but this is balanced, in my experience as both a student in an MFA in Writing and a teacher – by a ‘do unto others’ ethos. An MFA in Writing can be an emotional rollercoaster. Some weeks a writer will feel on top of the world, and other weeks that same writer will question why they ever thought it was a good idea to do a graduate writing degree. But life is a rollercoaster; as long as there are a few ‘high’ days, I’d say, keep going. No, keep going no matter what. Keep going until the universe tells you not to keep going, and even then don’t listen. Keep going. Signing on for a course of study in writing forces you to stand up for your work and take ownership of it. This doesn’t mean closing your ears to constructive criticism, but rather, asking yourself hard questions – what is this story really about? What is this poetry collection really exploring? What is this play really about? Sometimes we don’t want to hear the answers. A course of study in writing may bring us closer to the point of listening to our own voices, our own existential questions, our own loves, pathologies, aversions. This makes it sound like therapy; it’s not. It’s about being invested, and engaged. It’s about caring about a subject enough to be willing to drill down, to ‘go there’.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
It’s a new year, launched auspiciously in the wake of Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize last fall. The University of Western Ontario, Munro’s alma mater, has just announced the establishment of the Alice Munro Chair in Creativity. Creative writing programs in Canada are entering a dynamic new era. Corporate-speak might even call these programs a growth industry. Venerable writing programs such as those run out of the University of British Columbia, the University of New Brunswick and, at the undergraduate level, University of Victoria, blazed the trail for graduate-level creative writing studies at universities in Guelph, and recently, Saskatchewan. Individuals who care deeply about our culture have also blazed the trail. Dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s excellent article on the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan will soon be posted online. Then there are the renowned writing programs offered by the Humber School for Writers, the Banff Centre, and our own Sage Hill Writing Experience. These are only illustrative examples; space precludes an exhaustive list – and these examples do not factor in specializations in writing offered within English Departments, Writer in Residence programs, workshops offered through writers’ organizations, and events like The Word On The Street. Nor do they include the grassroots phenomena of writers’ groups or on-line discussion forums. It is not unusual to catch a glimpse, at a public event, of a Poet Laureate. New awards have been established for writing, and regular events are held that celebrate literary culture; I don’t need to tell any of you that Saskatchewan has been in the vanguard when it comes to honouring our writers. Within educational institutions, creative writing is heating up in this country. Perhaps, in our quiet Canadian way, we are moving towards our own “program era,” a term Mark McGurl applies to creative writing programs within the United States. As McGurl notes, there were 300 graduate writing programs registered with the national writing organization (AWP) in 2004 (25). All right, we’ve got a ways to go yet, but there is movement. Momentum. Several years ago the CCWWP (Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs) was formed in Canada. Digital technology has facilitated the unprecedented speeds to which writers can be networked together. Despite these new resources within literary culture, writing remains a slow and often painful process. A writing program offers mentorship and community to writers. It is a kind of incubator. Like the majority of graduate writing programs, it is workshop-based. But the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan also offers a mentorship that enables students to work with a Saskatchewan author. We have been fortunate to have mentors like Sandra Birdsell, David Carpenter, Sean Virgo, Dave Margoshes,
Arthur Slade, and others. We have also been able to host visiting writers and, through the ICCC (Interdisciplinary Centre for Culture and Creativity) at the U of S, visiting fellows. By Ken Mitchell An MFA in Writing such as the growing program at the U of S thrives through partnerships, collaborations, and community engagement – through membership in a matrix of literary cultures within and outside the university. Conferences such as Writing North, sponsored by the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and the University of Saskatchewan take place annually. The Saskatchewan Festival of Words is a hub of literary activity every summer. The University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan’s Departments of English share the ‘Literary Eclectic’ conference. The Writing Life lecture is now an annual event at the University of Saskatchewan. Exciting new partnerships are being developed as I write – between the Sage Hill Writing Experience, for example, and the University of Saskatchewan – sorry, can’t resist an advert – check out the new Digital Storytelling course. It’s easy to succumb to gloom and negativity at times. Yes, the publishing industry is going through really challenging times. Yes, workers in the arts must always remain vigilant. I could go on, but thankfully, I don’t see many writers locking away their pens or computers, bless us all. Jeanette Lynes is a writer and coordinator of the MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan.
Works Cited McGurl, Mark. The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. Patchett, Ann. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. New York: HarperCollins, 2013.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
School Readings: A Primer (Part One) By Dianne Young
Former Poet Laureate Bob Currie reads at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon.
f you're going to demolish a building with dynamite, you know that once you light that fuse, something is going to happen. The more planning you do beforehand though, the more likely the building's going to fall the way you want it to. School readings are like that. Planning is the key if you don't want them to blow up in your face.
"How do I get asked to do a reading?" First you need to have a reading to give. This does not mean you have to have a published book, although it is easier to get readings if you do. But whether or not you have something published, you still need enough material to fill forty-five minutes to an hour, which is the normal length of a reading. If you have a picture book, you're going to need something more. If you have a novel, you're going to have to choose which part(s) to read. In either case, don't just read. The teachers and/ or kids could do that on their own. Make sure you spend some time talking about you and your process. How do you write? Why do you write? If it's published, how did that happen? Do you have any props that tie in with your
reading? What about a PowerPoint presentation? How much time will you leave for questions? (How can you get questions started if no one seems to have any?) If you're just starting out doing readings - please don't wing it. Figure what you want to do, then practice it and time it. Have a little extra prepared in case you get nervous and speak faster than normal (which is very likely). Know what you can cut out if things are running behind schedule. Whatever you do â€” do not run overtime. Schools run on schedules and if you go on too long it messes up the rest of the day for everyone else. In fact, before you start, clarify with the teachers what time you have until. And wear a watch! "Okay, once I have a reading, how do I get invited to a school to present it?" Do you have a profile on the SWG (Saskatchewan Writersâ€™ Guild) website? Is it up-to-date? Teachers do use this resource to find authors to bring in to their school. Do you belong to any other writing organizations, such as TWUC (The Writers Union of Canada) or CANSCAIP (Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers) or CCBC Canadian Children's Book Centre), that allow you to post a profile? Do you have a website? A blog? It definitely helps to have an online presence. Actually, make that "an online presence that would make teachers want to invite you to their school." 'Nuff said.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Some people make up a flyer and send it out to schools. If you want to do this, I would advise you to fax the schools rather than email. I work in a school and I know how many emails teachers get and how much of it gets caught up in spam filters. Faxing your flyer will more likely get it noticed. Clearly address it to the teacher-librarian (even better to an actual name). The fax numbers of schools can usually be found online with a little googling. "Should I fax every school in the province?" That's up to you. Are you willing to go to every school in the province? If you're just starting out, I would suggest staying local. Being a local author gives you a leg up. "When should I fax schools?" My suggestion would be January and/or September. There is no longer a deadline when schools have to apply to the SWG for readings, other than being required to apply at least four weeks before the event. In January, your flyer has a better chance of being looked at. In September, it may interest those schools that have not yet made plans for Education Week (third full week in October), but September is a crazy time at schools and your flyer may not get noticed.
Mary Bishop and class.
"Do I have to go through the SWG to do readings?" No, but schools can get a subsidy through the SWG, so it makes it more attractive to them. Know the rules! Read up on the Author Readings Program on the SWG website, so you can answer any questions a prospective school may have. "Can't I just charge them less?" You can, but please don't. The standard fee for one reading in Saskatchewan is $175 plus mileage. Many authors, myself included, will give a slight discount for two readings in the same half-day ($300 instead of $350) if we're arranging it privately, but please don't try and get readings by simply undercutting others. You may "win" in the short term, but everyone ends up losing in the long term. Schools can afford it. And you're worth it. Part Two will cover the planning you need to do once you are invited to do a reading, and the reading itself.
Students at an author reading program. Photo courtesy of Alison Lohans.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Dues Doing You In? ...the many writing associations, memberships, unions and more vying for your hard earned writing dollars By Michelle Greysen As professional writers in this ever changing business world of words and the struggle to maintain rights and yet secure paid work there are few perks to having a writing lifestyle and many costs associated with a hallway commute. The further consideration of aligning one’s area of writing with an association has to bring with it benefits that outweigh the high cost of membership. It is a competitive market out there for the hard earned writer-dollars and picking and choosing just where to put down your money to best benefit your professional writing goals gets more difficult to select each year.
Being a dual province resident with a working writer lifestyle in Alberta and Saskatchewan while crossing both fiction and non-fiction, I try to be supportive of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta and the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild and at least alternate years of membership from one to the other when the dollar is stretched. The Writers’ Guild of Alberta (WGA), founded in 1980, strongly hovers around the 1000 member mark for many years now and serves to inspire, connect, support, encourage and promote writers and writing. The modest $70 year fee is open to all writer residents or former residents of Alberta. The Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild has a comparable $75 a year fee and the Guild is open not to just Saskatchewan resident writers and former residents, but to anyone in the province who may simply be interested in supporting Saskatchewan writers or staying current with the Saskatchewan literary scene. A prairie writer at heart, I feel an equal allegiance to the Canadian Farm Writers Federations (CFWF), and hold membership via their provincial offshoot, the Alberta Farm Writers Association (AFWA) dedicated to serving the common interests of agricultural journalists, reporters, editors, broadcasters and those in business and government in agricultural communications. Many Canadian writers also working across the continent or globally hold memberships in the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), the professional association of independent nonfiction writers claiming to give freelance writers the confidence and connections to prosper since 1948. With a $50 application fee and a $210 annual fee this is a serious consideration for those seasoned professional freelance writers working beyond Canada. It is no longer a choice of simply supporting your local writing group and your provincial guild but instead has
become a juggle of the dollars out spent to the benefit of securing more dollars in. As a long standing member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) it has made sense for me to align my freelance writing with this over thirty year old organization. PWAC was founded in 1976 originally as the Periodical Writers Association of Canada, and this nation-wide non-profit organization continues to play a leading role in the writing industry. A point system qualification for the currently 700+ membership of non-fiction writers ensures a strong working professional membership. The $240 a year rate is not considered lightly in any writer’s budget but for me the referral to a well paying market as a direct result of my membership connections each year more than pays for supporting PWAC while it in turn supports my writing business. The benefits are many fold according to Sandy Crawley, PWAC Executive Director, “Before I took on the senior staff position I was a member of PWAC and sat on its board as treasurer. This organization is unique in the sense that it straddles the Arts and Cultural Industries sector. Our members write in every genre imaginable including some that may not even have a name yet.” Crawley sees the association from many sides, “As a lifelong freelancer working in live performance and recorded media I have found the same generosity that exists among apparent competitors to be a remarkable force that engages the community of writers and drives the creative impulse in a field that can otherwise lead to a sense of isolation.” The colleague support benefits go hand in hand with the PWAC alignment of many industry partnerships and a forefront stance in striving for industry standards, fair contracts with fair rates s well as co-lobbying for freedoms and rights of professional writers in Canada. As a believer in fair dealing and an Access Copyright rights holder I understand the need for clear contract, copyright holdings and the value in striving to protect the plummeting income of independent communications professionals. I hold a member card in the Canadian Freelance Union (CEP Local 2040) that was created to help independent media workers deal with the growing inequities for those working as a contractor in media, print, radio, TV and web. The CFU also recognizes the pool of associated partner societies and offers a reciprocal partnership with PWAC members and as well as a special rate partnership with The Writers Union of Canada (TWUC), Crime Writers of Canada (CWG), Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild (SWG),
SWG Freelance February / March 2014 Superior Scribes (SS), Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS), Writers’ Guild of Alberta (WGA), and the Visual Researcher’s Society of Canada (VRSC). Membership in any of these organizations will garner a writer a 10% discount for each off their $125 a year membership in the CFU. The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) offers exclusive membership to all Canadian residents or indigenous persons with a book published by a commercial or university press. The $205 annual dues, reduced to $100 for the first year, is a hefty price to support the Union which strives to improve conditions for all writers in Canada. Their hard working strong lobbying has produced industry guidelines for authors and has brought about the creation of the Public Lending Right in Canada and Access Copyright both keeping money in author’s pockets for use of their work.
PEN Canada also offers writers a membership alongside their stance for a world where writers are free to write, readers are free to read, and freedom of expression prevails. This nonpartisan organization works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right at home and abroad. This past spring PEN conducted a Canada-wide survey with over 600 writers taking the time to weigh in on many issues around freedom of expression but also on the cost of membership into PEN. Although the work of PEN was well appreciated the survey showed that the $75 annual fee for membership was considered too high by most writers. According to Tasleem Thawar, Executive Director of PEN Canada, “Many writers expressed a strong belief in PEN but a serious lack of writer dollars to offer support,” adding that many perceived the fee as a charitable donation they could not afford to make rather than a membership fee to support the organization. As a result of the survey PEN launched an awareness campaign focusing on local issues of freedom of expression affecting Canadian writers, paired with a significantly reduced fee writer membership drive during June and brought about 60 new members in a month that normally averages ten. There are many choices for the niche writers in all genres. The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) offers up a $55 US membership and a more than a thirtyyear history of networking personal and professional empowerment of women through writing and open to all regardless of their portfolio. The Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) proudly declares the organization to be the home of Canada’s travel experts and brings together over 450 Media and Industry members not restricted to Canadians, claiming to be the country’s most highly respected professional travel writers, bloggers,
photographers, videographers, and tourism industry experts. Their point system qualification ensures travel professionals but their $125 non-refundable application fee plus their $150 annual fee might be a stretch for many writers. There are organizations and associations for medical writers, romance writers, sci-fi writers, business and finance writers, screen writers, poets and about every genre one can imagine. Your bottom line is as individual as your writing style. Choosing where you invest your hard earned dollars in those memberships and dues need to be placed strategically not only where your writing goals are taking you, but also where you are socially aligned with those colleagues and causes you personally choose to support. There is no right or wrong path but I do know that where there is an investment there should be a balancing benefit in your business of writing and strong writer karma in both the giving and getting back. Michelle Greysen ... is a professional freelance writer based on the southern prairies and is serving on the PWAC board for consecutive two year terms, currently as the newly elected National President of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC). More on her writing, links to her blogs and details on her many professional memberships and writing associations she belongs to at www.MichelleGreysen.com
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SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Storytelling By Rodger Ross
ince I was a child I have always been fascinated with stories. I remember going to the old Met Theatre on 11th & Broad Street to watch the double bill, Boris Karloff 's Frankenstein and The Wolfman, I was terrified but I loved that theatre. The old Capitol Theatre was another venue I enjoyed. On television, I enjoyed watching Cecile B. De Mille's films, Samson & Delilah, The Ten Commandments of course and Ben Hur. They were grand spectacles. Another favorite I saw at the Roxy theatre was Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Beneath The Sea. A few years later I would spend an entire day watching Bruce Lee movies when I lived in Winnipeg from 19701975. Back then you didn't have to leave the theatre except when they were cleaned between showings. I can't even tell you how many times I saw Enter The Dragon.
It wasn't just movies, it was books too. I loved to read back then and I still do to this day. In 1973 I met W.O. Mitchell. He was a guest lecturer for a week at our school for our English class. Mr. Mitchell shared with me a secret to writing prose, which I still use. He asked me to close my eyes and write whatever I saw in my mind’s eye, “Don’t worry about where the words land on the page”. After five minutes I opened my eyes and he told me to grab another piece of paper and find the story in the scrambled words. Prior to this exercise I used to try and rhyme my poems, I never tried rhyming again. I continued to write throughout high school and added Chinese philosophers and prophets to my selections, which added a whole new dimension to the prose that I wrote. In 1981 I started my training in Journalism and electronic media, learning to make films myself and produce radio shows. Since then I have travelled across Canada hearing and recording stories of all kinds. In 1983 the video crew worked with the “Little Red Hen Theatre Group” led by Marla Dufour, to produce a series of Wasakechak (Trickster) stories using shadow puppets. It aired on CBC Regina.Through the years I have been gifted with stories by some of the storytellers I had met in my travels and every now and then I share them when I am asked too.
Prior to receiving my first story in a semi-formal way, I had never considered myself a “Traditional Storyteller.” I was just repeating things I had heard. In the 80s I was fortunate enough to meet and hear some wonderful storytellers, Winston Wuttunee, George Tuccaro, Maria Campbell, Joe Charles, and Richard Wagamese. Joe Charles was from LaRonge and he was a keeper of many Wasakechak stories. Joe could entertain you from sunup to sundown or in our case, sundown to sunup. Back then we were usually in the midst of a celebratory state and it was a wonderful way to pass the time. In fact we lost all sense of time being entranced in Joe’s incredible ability to spin a yarn. Winston and George used music to tell their stories. They were consummate performers and I was fortunate enough to share the stage with them as co-emcees of the Back to Batoche Days. Maria Campbell is a matriarch in the Métis community. Her roots go back to Gabriel Dumont and in fact she still maintains a home at Gabriel’s Crossing near Batoche. She is a Métis historian and award winning author, who’s book Halfbreed is required reading at a number of high schools and universities across the nation. I am honored to call her my friend and I was blessed to have been able to sit with her and her now deceased husband Shannon Two Feathers on numerous occasions to listen to them reminisce. For a year and a half Rick Wagamese and I produced a weekly radio show called “Wehta Matowin” Radio for the Saskatchewan Native Communications Corporation. It was a news, information and music program that we researched, wrote and produced from our recording studio on 11th Avenue and McIntyre St. The show was delivered on reel to reel to the CBC Broadcast Centre where it was then broadcast through Keeweetin Country in LaRonge at what is now known as Missinippi Radio as well as CJUS –University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Richard is an incredible writer. He has a wonderful voice for radio and if you ever get to listen to him live you will
SWG Freelance February / March 2014 see an amazing example of how he transforms into his characters and brings them to life, it’s like watching a one man play. Richard has gone on to become an award-winning novelist with fourteen books to his credit and more to come. We are planning a reunion of sorts in the not too distant future and I am looking forward to the experience. My point to all of this is that a true storyteller draws on his life experiences and weaves them into tales of mystery and intrigue, not by the mere subject but through the telling. It is the responsibility of the teller to introduce himself, where he comes from, and acknowledge where the story came from as well. True Indigenous Storytellers earn the right to tell a story and they do it from memory. They are not written down, they are nurtured in the mind and delivered from the heart. Part of earning a story is offering a gift to the one who gave you the story, usually that gift consists of tobacco and whatever you feel is a good trade. Stories have a spirit of their own and the storyteller is just a vessel for that spirit.
Rodger Ross at a speaking engagement. Photo courtesy of Rodger Ross.
The stories where this protocol would be acknowledged include Creation stories, Raven stories, Wasakechak (Trickster) or Coyote stories, and Ceremonial stories. Sometimes they are one and the same. Many of these stories would only be told in the winter season because of the characters that are called out during the telling. For many years our stories went underground because of the oppressive policies that governed the people under the Indian Act. Resurgence of the stories has begun and the stories are being celebrated at events across Turtle Island. Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective in Regina will be presenting their Annual Storytellers Festival Feb. 16 -21, 2014 where a fine collection of contemporary and traditional Indigenous Storytellers can be seen and heard. Ekosi. Rodger W. Ross. Rodger Ross is a Métis/Nehiyaw (Cree) born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan. A member of the George Gordon Cree First Nation, Rodger is an independent film, video, and audio producer with more than 30 years experience in the industry.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Finding & Writing the Creative Nonfiction Short Story By Shirley Byers
n his book, Writing For Story, two time Pulitzer Prize winner, Jon Franklin, talks about the non-fiction short story and why he has written a book about this form: “I chose it because I believe it to represent the revival, in new form, of the old fiction short story — the traditional training ground for writers.” That’s good news for writers. The short story is one of the most satisfying and rewarding forms of our craft. But there is a downside, or not, depending on how you look at it and that is that a creative nonfiction story must be true.
Finding a series of true events that are compelling and story shaping can be a challenge as Franklin points out. A story requires a complication and a resolution. Melanie is diagnosed with a cancer is a complication. Melanie overcomes cancer is a resolution. In real life, complications don’t always come with resolutions. Nevertheless, our own lives can be rich sources of compelling stories. And so too can the lives of our friends and families. My parents met and fell in love during the London Blitz in the middle of World War II and I grew up hearing the story of a letter gone astray. When I decided to write “The Letter,” I captioned it “by Doris Byers as told to Shirley Byers,” and wrote the story in the first person past tense. Speaking as Doris, (with her permission) I described their meeting, the fun they had exploring London together, the ever-present tension in a city under siege, her growing feelings for Jack. The major complications were the war itself and the fact that he would be going back to Canada; she was not for leaving England and one or both of them might not survive the war anyway. Before she left the city to visit her family in the North of England for two weeks, she wrote Jack a letter breaking off the relationship, explaining why it couldn’t work. He was stationed in Brighton, a short distance from London. He should have received the letter within a couple of days. But he didn’t. And when he learned she had gone up North he pursued her, and wooed her and she realized that complications notwithstanding, she couldn’t live without him. As they said good-bye, promising to meet again back in London, she told him she had written him a letter and asked him not to read it, to just rip it up. That was the resolution. The fact that they eventually married and lived happily ever after — even though the letter was waiting for him back in Brighton and he read it — was icing on the cake. Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul bought this story and it was later adapted for Chicken Soup for TV.
Where to find CNF stories
As well as your own life and your immediate circle, news stories can be a rich source for the writer of creative nonfiction. Franklin says most news stories are endings without beginnings attached. They present us with resolutions. For example, a few years ago news stories told of a B.C. man who had arrived in Ottawa, having driven a combine across Canada. Nobody wakes up in B.C. one morning and says, “I think I’ll get on my combine and just keep going till I get to Ottawa.” Nobody drives a combine across this vast land without running into a few complications. What complications built to this resolution? What motivated that man to drive a combine across Canada? What characteristics, what traits, what other events drove him? “What makes resolutions so valuable,” writes Franklin, “is that while a majority of complications don’t have resolutions, resolutions almost always have complications . . . When a writer finds a resolution, he should singlemindedly pursue the complication and not stop until he’s found it. He should make it his business to thoroughly understand his story, the nature of the basic deed and the source, the motivation that lies behind it.”
Other elements of the CNF short story
Action is another valuable component of the CNF short story. Show, don’t tell, the actions taken to bring about the resolution. As in fiction, character is the most important element. Portraying character involves interviewing your character(s), asking and answering questions based on your previous observations. The actions chosen by your character—that he chose to drive a combine across Canada in an effort to draw attention to the financial plight of Canadian farmers tell us something about him and how he viewed the complication of low farm incomes. You might infer that this is a determined and adventurous person, who’s not afraid to take extreme action to bring about change. Knowing something about how your character views the complication, the next step is to ask why he views it that way. Almost inevitably that will take you into the past. Did
SWG Freelance February / March 2014 he grow up on a farm? Was activism a way of life? Who were his childhood heroes? A fiction writer creates a character from the ground up; a CNF writer interprets and portrays character that already exists. Both processes can be equally challenging for a writer. And equally rewarding. Anthologies such as Cup of Comfort (http://www. adamsmedia.com/cup-of-comfort/) and Chicken Soup for Soul (http://www.chickensoup.com/) are often looking for CNF short stories. Literary magazines such as Grain and the Malahat Review also buy CNF stories as do magazines such as Readers’ Digest, Red Book and Family Circle.
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For a decade, Shirley Byers was a contributing editor for WITH, a U.S based teen magazine. She has also published works in publications such as Brio, Clubhouse, Listen, and Discover Trails.
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SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Poetry and Non-Imagination By Gerry Hill
n uttering a poem, let’s call what we use, or what we draw from, imagination. Thank you for staying with me so far. Now let’s jump to lack of imagination, which is what surrounds us. I refer to the lack—anywhere from public policy to individual choice re- culture, self or word, no matter what the walk or run of life—of trajectory that opens rather than closes in. Just now I walked toward Regina’s City Square, which the City tries hard to screw up. This is the latest view: fencing.
The fact that anyone buys into such a sham reflects a desire to festival, yes, but also a plentiful lack of vision for how to do it (though that power-tent of a beer garden seemed to work, judging by the line-ups). Another example nagging along these lines comes from my English classroom where, the other day, an inquiry re “wild” (via Don McKay’s “Pond” and Karen Solie’s “Sturgeon” and Alden Nowlan’s “The Bull Moose”) didn’t get far. My fault for not pushing it, theirs for speaking of “tiger” in cuddly terms, for not even getting to the edge of the clearing, so to speak, never mind into the woods. It’s getting to the point that every decision we make, at any level, lacks a chance to get new. We’re non-imaginers, too many of us, too often. I suppose I’ve been hanging out in the wrong classrooms, worksites, neighbourhoods, cities, continents, and planets. Planet Obvious, Planet Far Too Rigid. Doesn’t matter what the question in these parts, the proposed solutions or responses take us nowhere new.
The bigger the festival, the higher the fence, seems to be the policy. The fencing had been put there to contain one of the most substantial failures to imagine in recent memory: the so-called Grey Cup Festival which, in its attempt to offer a representation of Canada, or something, installed inflatable beavers, inflatable Mounties, and an obstacle course for children in fatigues, supervised by adults in fatigues.
Enter poetry. It’s not just that the reading of poems, for example, has been taught as disease control—a dose is ok, if we don’t get sicker. Or that for some teachers we should do to poems what we do to peppers—scrape away inside. Or that in a Liberal Arts-devalued scene like, say, a university, the poem has the status of the penny, but without the charm, without even the CN locomotive out of Canora bearing down to flatten it. Even if we get by those things, the non-imaginers refuse adventure. If we add up how the non-imaginers read, feel a word, see, reach with their vocab or voice, we get a reader who cherishes the “relatable” or a citizen who loves “what the City has done with City Square”. The sublime’s a dun deal for these folks. Re-enter poetry. If a poem frustrates or at least challenges how we read—if the moment of contact between reader and poem can be allowed to turn, maybe even take one look at the word sense and head south—the result might be a new way of reading. Doesn’t have to be what you did before. That takes imagination. What does this have to do with craft. Trouble is, craft I mistrust, if it implies systematic closing in—on image, figure, statement, or other specific effect. Which, to the non-imaginers, is license to repeat what we already know,
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
to practice non-imagining. Instead, I wonder if where to look, the moment we write, is not craft but approachâ€”our perceptual apparati shorting, which they like, through walls. In other words, or the same ones again, put this urge to yourself: throw down your language, throw it out, snap it past where you think you go. How much can your own language change you? Find out!
See what you do about the Square while youâ€™re at it. Long-time SWG member Gerald Hill (www.geraldhill. ca) lives, writes, and grandparents in Regina.
Alex Porco does a craft talk at Writing North. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
The Space-Time Continuum By Edward Willett
hen someone writes a hardboiled police procedural novel, we expect it to adhere to correct police procedures in the city in which it is set. When someone writes a historical novel set in 19th-century India, we expect the details of life and governance in 19th-century India to be well-researched and correct. When someone writes a sliceof-life story set in present-day Regina, we expect to be able to recognize everyday life as we know it to be. In other words, even though fiction is, by definition, not real, we expect it to contain substantial doses of reality. Yet somehow, too many people, when they decide they’re going to write fantasy, decide that because it is set in an entirely made-up world, they don’t have to worry about realism.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, nothing kills a fantasy tale faster than a lack of realism. If anything goes—if the author can make up anything he or she wants out of that ever-popular speculative fiction building material “handwavium”—the reader quickly realizes that nothing really matters, and if that’s the case, why should he or she care? The holy trinity of fiction comprises setting, character and plot. And all of them, if your fantasy fiction is to succeed, must contain a sizeable dose of realism. Let’s start with setting. Yes, your tale may be set in an entirely made-up medieval kingdom: but medieval kingdoms existed in the real world, too, and can be thoroughly researched. What was the class structure? How was the city policed? How was sewage dealt with? Food distributed? Defenses organized? The other reason for doing some research and trying to make your settings as real as possible is that the details you discover in you research find their way into your story in unexpected ways. In my most recent fantasy novel Masks (written as E.C. Blake), I had need of a way to move people up and down the levels of a mine. Initially I was going to go with ladders, but a little research revealed the existence of a waterwheel-driven people-mover called a “man engine” used in old mines in Germany. That enhanced the scenes set in the mine immensely, I think, and also provided me with an intriguing sound effect: the constant rumble of the waterwheel is mentioned several times as my characters move around the mining camp.
Keeping characters real in fantasy is the same challenge faced by all fiction writers. No matter how real they seem to you, your characters are in fact nothing but figments of your imagination. No matter how much you may know about them, how much you invent, how many spreadsheets you fill with information about them, they can never even begin to approach the complexity of a real person. Still, carefully chosen details, dialogue, and incidents can make a fictional character sometimes seem more real to us than many of those we meet in our day-to-day lives. In fantasy, the problem of making a character seem real is exacerbated by the fact that he, she, or it may have attributes one never encounters in the real world. You may be dealing with someone who can change shape, or wield magic, or fly, or read thoughts, or turn invisible. If your readers are going to relate to that, you have to make sure that in other ways, the character is very real: that his or her or its motivations (love, hatred, lust, revenge, ambition, etc.), actions, and reactions all seem like those of an actual human being—even if the character is not actually a human being at all, but an elf or dwarf or werewolf. Much the same can be said of plot. While the plot of a fantasy—furry-footed height-challenged everyman must journey to an active volcano in order to dispose of magic jewelry—is less “real” than, say, a tale about the midlife crisis of an English teacher in a small Saskatchewan town, and quite likely a great many more events happen in the former than in the latter (and certainly there are more swords involved), events must happen for a reason, must arise realistically from the characters and the setting and situation in which those characters are situated, and must not be just a series of incidents but actually advance the storyline or change the characters in some significant way. If not, we won’t care—no matter how spectacular the authorial special effects may be. Fantasy is sometimes called escape literature (a topic for another column), but while it may serve that purpose for some readers, for the writer there is no escape; however, fantastical your literary creation, it must always be built on a solid foundation of realism, an anchor for the lifeline from which your readers willingly suspend their disbelief. Edward Willett is a freelance writer and performer in Regina. He is the author of 50 books of some sort or another.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Gertrude Story (1929-2014) By Glen Sorestad
he death of Gertrude Story on January 18th in Weyburn marked the passing of a most remarkable Saskatchewanian. A long-time member of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, Story became one of the province’s highly original and recognizable literary fiction voices. She began her writing career having shorter prose pieces published in The Western Producer and then gained a sizable listening audience by writing colourful commentaries on life in small town Saskatchewan that were broadcast on CBC Radio. In the 1980s she burst onto the Saskatchewan literary scene with a number of books by Thistledown Press, with whom she published most of her work. I was one of those involved with the publishing house during Gertrude’s productive years and served as her editor for a number of her books. She insisted on referring to me as “Father Thistledown”, just as her title of affection for John V. Hicks was quite simply “Himself ”.
Editing Gertrude Story was a most intriguing challenge because of her unique writing process and resultant prose style, which so often involved very long sentences that were, as Story would maintain, not really hers at all, but those of the voice that dictated them to her. In her determined attempts to capture with veracity and absolute authenticity the voice she insisted was delivering the stories to her, Gertrude was a kind of prose equivalent to Andrew Suknaski in much of his distinctive voice narrative poems. So, for an editor, suggesting changes was like dealing with two people: the woman whose name was on the manuscript and that other unseen presence that gave the story to her, word by word, as she insisted. So I learned that any altering of the writing could only be effected when I could convince Gertrude that a change was essential for clarity or accuracy. Actually, we got along famously in the process of arriving at a finalized manuscript and always worked together with great mutual respect. Gertrude lost her husband Joseph in 1973 and it was after his death that she fully immersed herself both in her writing and in academics. What many people do not know or may have forgotten about Story is that she was a distinguished graduate in Arts at the University of Saskatchewan. In 1981, in addition to her B.A., she received both the Arts Prize and the President’s Medal. She was 52 and her literary life was just taking off. The same year, her first book, The Book of Thirteen, a unique volume of poems, appeared. Before the decade was out, Gertrude had added the trilogy of Alvena Schroeder stories that began with The Way to Always Dance in 1983 and a book of personal reflections on her life in Vanscoy, The Last House on Main Street. A late bloomer indeed! In the 1990s she added several more prose volumes.
Gertrude was a very proud Saskatchewanian and a huge booster of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. She availed herself of many writing workshop opportunities and in turn became a noted workshop leader herself. She was the writer chosen for the SWG’s first writing residency in Prince Albert and also served as a writer-in-residence in Moose Jaw, Winnipeg, and Whitehorse during her career. She received numerous writing awards including the CBC Radio Literary Award.
Gerturde Story. 2007. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
If you ever went to listen to Gertrude Story give a public reading, you knew that you were in for an entertaining
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
time because she was, above all, a lively performer and she prepared her readings with meticulous attention to detail. I have no doubt that Gertrude practised her delivery and memorized her lines for hours before stepping to the podium to perform. What the audience witnessed was an amazing transformation from a smallish quiet greyhaired woman to this animated dynamo who became part-comedian, part-literary evangelist. Her readings were events and she had a large following, especially throughout this province. Gertrude was blessed with a lively wit and tongue that had a mischievous and even feisty edge to it, along with a decided penchant for coming up with the unexpected. As her many-time publisher, with the launching of each new book, we would have moments of nervous anticipation as we wondered just what outrageous or off-the-wall observations Gertrude might have for the occasion. No one ever fell asleep when Gertrude Story was on stage and holding forth. She could play an audience with great verve and flair.
When I think of Gertrude Story and all the many times I had occasion to be in her company, I am always brought back to the expression “salt of the earth”, She was a downto-earth Saskatchewan woman who certainly knew what it was to be a wife, mother and grandmother. She was a lively conversationalist and an equally good listener. She was “of the land” and she loved that land of which she was so much a part. She was a very intelligent and determined student of literature and of life. Above all, she was extremely grateful to everyone who helped her along the way. A humble and caring woman she most certainly was and those of us who knew her well are so much the better for her presence in our lives. The SWG has lost one of its notable members and we have all lost one of our truly original literary voices.
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SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Books by Members
The Counting House By Sandra Ridley Publisher: BookThug ISBN: 9781927040843
Akin to a bookkeeper’s accounting of what’s given and taken in a fraught, uncertain exchange, The Counting House goes on to record the pageantry and pedantry of courtly affection gone awry. Symbols and origins of traditional rhymes involving kings and queens serve as inventory, alongside elements of Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. In forensic sequences of inquisition, scrutiny, and reckoning, Ridley reveals the maiden as muse as modern darling – unhoused and exacting – in “all of her violet forms.” Sandra Ridley’s first full-length collection of poetry, Fallout, won the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for publishing, the Alfred G. Bailey prize, and was a finalist for the Ottawa Book Award. Her second book, PostApothecary, was short-listed for the 2012 ReLit and Archibald Lampman Awards. Also in 2012, Ridley won the International Festival of Authors’ Battle of the Bards and was featured in the University of Toronto’s Influency Salon. Twice a finalist for the Robert Kroetsch Award for innovative poetry, Ridley is the author of two chapbooks, Rest Cure and Lift, for which she was co-recipientof the bpNichol Chapbook Award.
Intent to Kill By Ryshia Kennie Published by: Beyond the Page Publishing, October 2013 as an e-book ISBN: 9781937349837
The Literary History of Saskatchewan Volume 1 ~ Beginnings David Carpenter, Editor Coteau Books ISBN-13: 9781550505153
Fatal Intent took romance and suspense to the dark reaches of Borneo. Now, Intent to Kill takes danger to the heart of Cambodia. A ruthless band of smugglers will stop at nothing to strip Cambodia of its artifacts. With the death count rising, journalist Claire Linton is on the story of a lifetime. Simon Trent is an Interpol agent forced to disappear after his last case turned fatal. Now he’s ordered to finish the job that’s haunted him. What he doesn’t expect is Claire, the beautiful and headstrong reporter who threatens it all. As Claire and Simon reluctantly join forces, they fight to stay one step ahead of a brutal killer—and one step away from the dangerous feelings building between them.
The rich history of a province’s literature is outlined in the essays of well-known writers from across the Prairie and Canadian literary landscapes. A valuable addition to any bibliophile’s collection.
Ryshia Kennie is an award winning romance author. Her fiction has taken her characters from the depression era prairies to the ancient stones of Angkor Wat and beyond. The too long prairie winters occasionally find her with travel journal in hand seeking adventure on foreign shores. For more, visit her website at http://www.ryshiakennie. com. www.ryshiakennie.com | ryshia. blogspot.com
The Literary History of Saskatchewan Volume 1 ~ Beginnings can be found at
Saskatchewan’s literary history is both colourful and complex. It is also mature enough to deserve a critical investigation of its roots and origins, its salient features and its prominent players. The collection of scholarly essays in Volume 1 examines the Saskatchewan literary scene from its early Aboriginal storytellers on through the decades to the burgeoning 1970s.
Coteau Books by contacting the office on 2517 Victoria Avenue or ordering them online at http://coteaubooks.com/ index.php?id=12.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
The Literary History of Saskatchewan Volume 2 ~ Progressions David Carpenter, Editor Coteau Books ISBN-13:9781550505672
Progressions carries on the story of Saskatchewan literature begun in Volume 1, presenting another batch of erudite and entertaining essays covering Saskatchewan’s literary development, as well as more tributes to major contributes to that history, and a pictorial glimpse into the past. The Fort San school ended, but the Sage Hill Writing Experience was born from the ashes. Saskatchewan literary presses found their feet. The Saskatchewan Festival of Words and the Saskatchewan Book Awards came into being. The Saskatchewan writing community stormed out of the 20th Century in a frenzy of creativity and accomplishment.
The Literary History of Saskatchewan Volume 2 ~ Progressions can be found at Coteau Books by contacting the office on 2517 Victoria Avenue or ordering them online at http://coteaubooks.com/index. php?id=12.
Masks By E.C. Blake (Edward Willett) Publisher: DAW Books ISBN: 978-0756407599
Shoebox Poems By Bill Blum Houghton Boston ISBN: 978-09878029-1-0
Mara Holdfast is fast approaching her fifteenth birthday and her Masking ceremony. Once she receives her Mask, Mara will be recognized as an adult and never go unMasked in public again. Gifted with magical abilities, she will take her place as an apprentice to her father, the Autarch’s Master Maskmaker. But something goes horribly wrong on the day of the Masking, and instead of celebrating, Mara is torn away from her parents, imprisoned, and consigned to a wagon bound for the mines. Cut off from everything and everyone she knows, not even her Gift can show Mara the future that awaits her—a future that may see her slaving in the mines, recruited to a rebel cause, or trained to use her powers at the Autarch’s command…
Shoebox Poems is Bill Blum’s recently released second collection of poetry following Picking Roots, which was shortlisted for two Saskatchewan Book Awards in 2011. Shoebox Poems is a natural extension of Blum’s previous work. Here is a collection of both lyric and narrative poems about rural life, growing up and finding out who you are, about coming of age. Bill Blum takes us along with him on the journey, introducing us to the people he knows, the places he has been. Irving Layton said “a poem when you are done with it, must be able to get off the page, turn the door handle, and walk directly into the lives of people.” Bill Blum’s poems do exactly that.
First book in a series that continues with Shadows in August 2014 and Faces in April 2015. “Sharp characterization, a fast-moving plot, and a steady unveiling of a bigger picture make this a welcome addition to the genre.” – Publishers Weekly E.C. Blake (Edward Willett) is the award-winning author of more than 50 books of science fiction, fantasy and nonfiction for children, young adults and adults. He lives in Regina.
Bill and his wife Linda live on a farm near Carrot River where they own and operate Blum’s Greenhouse. For more information or to purchase books please contact Bill Blum at blumsgh@
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You About Foods Book One By: Paulette Millis, Registered Nutritional Consultant Published by: Soul Food Publishing ISBN: 9780968364741
What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell Book Two By Paulette Millis, Registered Nutritional Consultant Published by: Soul Food Publishing ISBN: 978096834758
Did you know?
Did you know?
That eating orange squash helps in the removal of age spots?
That carrots can prevent the formation of cancer causing compounds called nitrosamines?
that the anti-cancer mineral selenium has been found to be 390% higher in organic grains?
that pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E and the immune system builder zinc?
that salmonella contamination in chickens has steadily increased due to the way chickens are raised?
that eating a baked potato before you go to bed at night raises the insulin level in the brain, causing serotonin levels to rise in the night?
That butter contains antifungal and antimicrobial substances? That powdered ginger capsules are more effective at preventing nausea than some drugs? This 195 page coil bound book features 18 informative articles and 98 recipes, including: • brief history of foods • nutritional and medicinal values
• how to buy, cook and store this food • no sugar • all natural sweeteners
This 229 page coil bound book features 18 informative articles and 115 recipes on specific foods.
“Nutty About Nuts”; Organic Poultry! Yes!”; Choosing Natural Sweeteners; “Bread, the Staff of Life, or Not!”; “Raving About Raw Seeds”; “A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” are included and more!
• no white flour • unprocessed and whole foods • no trans fats Topics include: “Butter is Better”; Sprouts – a Live Adventure”; Update on Soy”; “Cooking with Quinoa”; “Glorious Beans”; Garlic – Powerfood Excellance!” and more.
that coconut oil contains 8% caprillac acid, an anti-microbial fatty acid used for decades as a remedy for intestinal yeast infections?
What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell Book Three By: Paulette Millis, Registered Nutritional Consultant Published by: Soul Food Publishing ISBN: 978096864765 Did you know? That eating 3 – 4 tablespoons of chia seeds daily may lower blood pressure and thin the blood, making it less prone to clotting? That varying the diet with gluten-free grains and/or flours may protect our bowels from many diseases? That apples contain quercetin, a flavonoid that works as an antiinflammatory, anti-allergen, antihistamine, and an anti-oxidant? That organic free run eggs contain inositol, choline, and lecithin, all involved in balancing cholesterol metabolism? This 223 pages coil bound book features 17 informative articles and 114 recipes on specific foods and/ or topics, including: “Beets! Beets! Beets!”; “Baking Gluten-Free and Why”; What’s the Fuss About Yogurt? “Will the REAL Egg Please Stand Up?”; “No Meat! What Do I Eat?”; “Rah! Rah! Raw Food!” ; “Carbohydrates: The Real Story”; “ The Mighty Chia Seed”; “Fermenting Foods for Flavor, Fun, and Nutrition!”; “The Great Milk Debate”; and more!
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Member News SWG Welcomes New Members! Sarah Trevor Therese Lloyd Tanya Miner Edith Bannister Tara Gereaux Matthew Stone
Oren Robison Gaelyn Kennedy Camille Gibney Carla Barkman Barb Gonie
Stay connected with Saskatchewan’s
writers and enjoy member discounts! Renew your Guild membership online at www.skwriter.com
Calls of Interest
Radio Book Club on CFCR in Saskatoon
Call for Applications: Writer-in-Residence
Radio Book Club, formerly known as The Book Show, is looking for interview subjects. Whether you’re a writer with a book to promote, or have thoughts to share about storytelling on TV, film or other projects, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact Ann at annabelle. email@example.com.
Radio Book Club airs on Wednesday evenings at 7:00p.m. on CFCR 90.5 FM in Saskatoon and streaming at http:// www.cfcr.ca. Past episodes are available online at http://elbookshow.podbean. com
September 1, 2014 - May 31, 2015 The Regina Public Library invites applications from Canadian Creative Writers for the Writer-in-Residence position. The successful candidate will be working with the public through consultations, community/school visits, and workshops/seminars while devoting 70% of their time to personal writing projects. They must live in Regina or surrounding area during the term. Include résumé, 10 page writing sample, and three letters of reference from the writing community. Clearly explain experience working with the public, literary publications history, literary
field background and importance of this opportunity to you and your writing. Experience as a writer-inresidence or teacher an asset. All literary writing genres considered. Salary: $40,000/annum Deadline: 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 5/14 Apply to: Writer-in-Residence Search Committee c/o Marketing & Communications Regina Public Library P.O. Box 2311 (2311 -12th Avenue) Regina, SK S4P 3Z5 www.reginalibrary.ca
Writing North Panel, Eugene Stickland, Rosemary Nixon, Yvette Nolan(moderator), Catherine Bush and Alex Porco. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Professional Development Write After Lunch: SWG launches a new talk series! Did you ever wish you could lunch with an author? Dine on words? The SWG has just the program for you! Join us at noon on the first Tuesday of every month for our new luncheon craft talks. Talks begin at 12:15 p.m. and end at 12:45 p.m., and you have two options to participate. You can attend in person at the Regina office (Suite 100, 1150-8th Avenue). Or if you prefer, you can participate from your home, office or favourite Wi-Fi spot as long as you have access to high speed Internet. The SWG is pleased to announce that we are now able to broadcast our sessions around the province and beyond using a live streaming video platform. We’ve chosen Livestream as our delivery system. This is a free service, but you do need to Login with your email and a password to access content. Instructions can be found on the Guild website. If attending in person, bring a bagged lunch and listen to some of your favourite authors talk about the craft of writing. We’ll provide coffee, tea, and water. Write After Lunch is a public event open to everyone and there is no need to register. The series started on January 7 with a talk by a celebrated romance writer Mary Balogh, followed on February 4 with Cassie Stocks’ talk on humour.
Join us for the next installment in the series on March 4 with Anthony Bidulka chatting on an aspect of writing mysteries. More talks will be announced soon! Visit our website for more information: www.skwriter.com
Weaving Words participant Leonardo De Lima Soares reads from his work. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
Adam Pottle reads at Writing North launch at Amigos. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
4. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Rosemary Nixon craft talk at Writing North. Photo Credit: SWG Staff. Launch of Literary History of Saskatchewan Vol. 2 Jeanette Lynes and Dave Margoshes. Photo Credit: SWG Staff. Philip Adams MC of the readings at Writing North. Photo Credit: SWG Staff. Weaving Words: Stories of the World, some of the participants who shared their work. Photo Credit: SWG Staff. Lucille Nawrocki at the SWG Outrageous Sweater Party. Photo Credit: SWG Staff.
SWG Freelance February / March 2014
Backbone The SWG Thanks Our Donors Andrew Suknaski Writers Assistance Fund Sandra Birdsell Judith Krause Glen Sorestad
Felicia Daunt Marilyn Matice
Benefactors (($200-$499) Robert Calder Mary Harelkin Bishop Lyn Goldman Charitable Trust
Mona Bacon Cheryl Kloppenburg Rea Tarvydas
Patricia Armstrong Fund Alison Lohans Sharon MacFarlane
Patron (over $500)
David Carpenter William Galbraith Frances Greenslade Lewis Horne Honor Kever Anne Lazurko
Gail Bowen Brian Cobbledick Robert Currie Margaret Durant Betty Hegerat Karen Klassen Alison Lohans Helen Mourre Terry Toews Larry Warwaruk
Kloppenburg Award Donations Cheryl & Henry Kloppenburg
Rita Bouvier Ted Dyck Joanne Epp Elinor Florence
Gillian Harding-Russell Doris Hillis Bonnie Logan Alex MacDonald David Poulsen Alma Wagner Roberts Dianne Young
Contributors (up to $50) Linda Biasotto Myrtle Conacher Jeanette Dean Todd Devonshire Adele Dueck Jean Fahlman Wesley Funk Glenda Goertzen Lisa Guenther Susan Harris Robert Leech Bonnie Logan Ken Mitchell Kathleen Morrell Evelyn Rogers Edda Ryan Anne Slade
The SWG Foundation Thanks These Donors Facilitated Retreat Susan Hogarth
Judy McCrosky Bursary Fund Allison Kydd Judy McCrosky
Legacy Project: Gloria Boerma Robert Currie Rodney Dickinson
SWGF Legacy Project Gloria Boerma Robert Currie Rodney Dickinson Cathy Fenwick George Jeerakathil Alison Lohans Lynda Monahan Judith Silverthorne Glen Sorestad
Caroline Heath Memorial Fund Candace Savage
February / March 2014 Volume 44 Number 2
Publication Mail Agreement #40063014 Return Undeliverable Canadian Addresses to: Administration Centre Printing Services 111â€“2001 Cornwall Street Regina, SK S4P 3X9 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We gratefully acknowledge the support of SaskCulture, Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund and the Saskatchewan Arts Board