Sunday, August 31, 2014

Reviewing The Delusionist by Grant Buday

In 2006, with the help of my amateur sound-man husband, I self-published an audio book short story collection. It was my first publication of size; my first book. And I was so proud. After that, when people asked me what I did, I said, "...and I'm an author."


Grant Buday celebrating the release of The Delusionist

Grant Buday and I live on the same island. So it didn't take long for someone to point out, "You're not an author; Grant's an author"--like the joke about the knife in Crocodile Dundee And that's how Grant Buday became the walking, breathing example of my goal--to become a published author. 

Last year or the year before, I attended a literary event where I listened to Anvil Press talk about their future publishing plans. "And Grant Buday's new book," they said and I didn't need to hear any more. I was ready to buy that book even before it was published. A few months after that, I was a member of a captivated audience, listening to Grant Buday read excerpts from his soon-to-be released book. This August I bought The Delusionist. And it was well worth the wait. 




The Delusionist is about a beginning: establishing a career in the arts; developing a loving relationship. 

In the opening chapters we are introduced to Cyril. And we learn that he is a gifted artist. But in order to claim this gift Cyril must discover who he is. He must learn to value himself. He must have the courage to stand-up and say, "Yes, this is who I am." How does he learn to do that without the example of a strong, adult male?

In the opening chapters Cyril is drawn to Connie. Unlike Cyril, Connie is unafraid of being different. In fact, she rebels in it. And Connie is driven to succeed. How can Connie build a relationship with Cyril and be free to reach for this success? 

These are the story questions but the tale is much more then the sum of these parts. 

The urban Vancouver setting comes to live at the hands of a master. The reader is treated to a complete sensory tour of the city--sights, smells and tastes. 

I would highly recommend The Delusionist to all artist--but especially to painters.

Thank you, Grant Buday, for this book. For me, it was a gripping ride--with lows of grief and highs of laughter. Please keep writing.


Grant Buday reading a scene from his new book--The Delusionist


Grant Buday will be reading from The Delusionist at Word Vancouver. Here's the festival's schedule. (Sunday at 2 PM)

More about this book...

Literary Press Group of Canada


Sharing my author journey...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fireship Press by Michael James

What is Fireship Press' mandate?

Our mandate is to produce good quality books based upon  fact or fiction that is within the bounds of 'Historical' or Nautical reading.



How/why did you decide to become a publisher?

Tom Grundner [lately passed on] disliked the general attitude of Agents who acted as unimaginative gate keepers for large publishing houses and wanted Fireship  to be accessible to more of the middle of the road authors with something to say.

When was Fireship Press established? And why the nautical theme? Are you solely interested in American history?

The company was established about four years ago. The Nautical name was because Tom was avid about nautical tales but while we are still very much nautical we have moved well beyond that genre to almost every other medium but stayed within the bounds of Historical as the core . Definitely interested in history from anywhere in the world if it is a good, well written and compelling book.



Share some of Fireship Press' challenges and victories...

Our challenge has been to grow in a very competitive market holding onto our niche which we value. We are POD.[Print on Demand] and that has been stigmatized by the big publishers although it is good business sense. If the book shops paid more attention to planning they might not be going out of business and the big publishers might not be holding tons of paper in warehouses that they cannot sell. We would quickly go out of business if we allowed the bookshops to order what they liked and to return what they were too lazy to plan for. We have begun to attract some good authors who bring with them more readers .

It is interesting to note that the ships at sea and the Napoleonic wars are still very popular but so are our books on the crusades and the Middle Ages.



This is a challenging time for a publisher. How are you uniquely equipped to meet these challenges?

We run a very lean operation and do not spend where we don't have to. We are as aggressive as possible, within our budget, about getting our books out there and more  selective about what we publish.

What do you see as the benefits of being a publisher?

It is exciting and very hard work but the reward is to see a good book that the large publishers and agents would have rejected go out there.



How does Fireship Press market their books? Do you have a global reach?

We use the blogging system which we are still learning how to use at its best. Blog Tours and Netgalley are some of the tools we use. We are thinking through our marketing strategy on a fluid basis.

We have a global reach via : Ingrams, Lightning Source world wide distribution in paperback and ebooks : Amazon : Apple : Barnes and Noble and Kobo and Sony



Please describe a typical work day...

Start at 0900 Hrs and work all day administering, paying, ordering for our authors and invoicing then working with the editors on problems and manuscripts. Allocating books for the editors, keeping track of their work and then working with the design team on the covers. Working with the authors on approvals, covers , Blurbs, information for our web site and the book. Working with our Marketing person to try to get the best for our authors.

Keeping track of the 85 tasks that are needed to make it happen and generally working like dingbats. Finish at 9 pm at night.



What genres do you publish?

Nautical, Military,  Worldwide historical topics, US Stateside history both genders, Civil war any country , Empire, Colonial, Personalities in history, Air . Sea and Land historical stories

Who pays the publishing cost--the author or the publisher?

Fireship pays all the costs.

Do you pay both an advance and royalty? What is the ratio?

No advance but yes Royalties are paid three times a year: The amount is confidential and between Fireship and the authors but it is higher than the average.

Please take us through Fireship Press' submission process..

Please read the web site details ..They are there for people to see :  www.fireshippress.com

How do you choose the authors you publish?

With as much care as we can. It is a subjective process but we hold to certain rules that are flexible it is true but over time they have proved valuable.

Are you a print or E book publisher?

Amazon. Apple. B&N Kobo and LSI



Words of advice for aspiring Fireship Press authors...

First: Write a good story and make sure it is well Edited before submission as a badly edited manuscript can color the process against the author. We want a new author to succeed but they have to help themselves to do so by conforming to certain requirements in order to do so. Everyone is busy so if a poor quality manuscript comes over the transom then it is greeted with impatience which is a bad start to the process. The submission instructions are fairly clear.



Parting words...

 Places like Fireship Press came about because the big boys are not very interested in anything but the established writers. We are interested in taking a look. Our standards are high as we are not a Self publishing company nor a Vanity Press. Our reputation is important to us, and our authors, so we don't take just anything that comes over the transom. Keep writing and don't give up. If you are passionate about your work sooner or later someone will sit up and take notice.

Thank you for your interest.  Michael James 



Sunday, August 24, 2014

Visiting B.C. (the conclusion)--a short story by Leanne Dyck

Twenty-two years ago this month we did this...

The following story is a fictionalized account of how he popped that question...

(In case you missed them or want to re-read them, parts one, two)

Floyd's parents were waiting for us on the other side. "Congratulations. You crossed the bridge. We didn't know if you were going to be able to make it."

"Neither did I," I told them and they laughed.

"Lyndi, come with me. I want to talk with you." Floyd sounded so serious.

So this is it. This is when he tells me that it's been fun but he's dumping me. We left his parents on the other side of that lookout tower and walked over to the other side. Well, I'm not going to cry. Oh, who am I kidding. I love him; I'm going to bawl like a baby. 

He cupped my hands in both of his. "Lyndi, we've known each other for several months now."

"But I just don't love you," I imagined him saying. My mind was so full of worry that I barely heard him.

"Things seem to be going okay," he told me.

My world began to spin. All I could do was nod. I guess he took that as I sign that I was understanding him because he continued, "I love you with my whole heart and."

What is he saying? What does he mean? I don't understand.

"I want to marry you."

He wants to... What?

"Lyndi, what I'm trying to say... What I want to ask you is, will you marry me?"

Then his words slowly started to make sense. He...wants...to...marry...me. The heavens opened, angels sang, doves flew, the entire world rejoiced--but I think that was all in my head. I wanted to dance. I wanted to jump around wildly. But then I remembered where I was and kept my feet firmly planted on that piece of lumber that was balanced on a few tiny boards a million miles in the air. The most I could do was lean over to him and give him a tight squeeze. "Can I think it over." I said because I wanted to make him laugh.

It worked. He laughed. We kissed. And then I said, "Of course, are you kidding. You don't have to ask me twice."

He dug into his jacket pocket. "You know." He pulled out a box. "This is the reason the security guards stopped me." He opened the box. "This is the reason we almost didn't make it out of the airport." A diamond caught a ray of sun.

"But we did," I said, between giggles. "And we made it across that bridge. And now... And now we're..."

We said the word together. "Engaged."

"But I only have one question," I said. "With our heads in the clouds, how are we going to be able to make it back across that bridge?"

"Together," he told me--and we did. And we still are...

Guest Post Friday:  Towerbabel by Anthony Chan

Sharing my author journey...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Introducing Towerbabel – an online collaborative writing and publishing platform by Product Manager Anthony Chan

Introducing Towerbabel – an online collaborative writing and publishing platform
We all have stories to tell. Ever since the writing system was invented in ancient civilizations, people have been recording stories on clay tablets, scrolls, codexes, manuscripts and the like. These are early forms of books.
We are now at the Internet age, with the emergence of social media and mobile devices, it’s become ever easier to share and distribute information to the mass. However, very little has been created from the writers’ perspective and solve their needs in writing and publishing. That's why we created Towerbabel, with the vision that digital platform is more than just a distribution channel, instead, it can facilitate the way we create content and help you to reach your target audience more easily.
At the heart of our platform is the focus on helping aspiring writers to improve their craft and bringing them and their works to readers. While writing is often viewed as a solitary experience, producing a book is never a lonely endeavor. Even with self-publishing, you will need alpha/beta reader, editor, book cover artist, book marketer, etc in order to become successful. We want to be your partner in your writing career and help you along the way.
On Towerbabel, we design our platform to help authors to grow. The challenge for many independent authors, especially first time aspiring writer is the lack of feedback they get on their works. As part of our strategic plan to grow with our authors, our Editor Georgina Parfitt is now providing free book review to selected books on Towerbabel. The review will be posted on Towerbabel and Goodreads. The feedbacks from authors are positive.  Check them out from our recent blog post.

The other focus is to help you to get exposure and build an online presence.  By registering an account and publishing your books on Towerbabel, you are creating an extra channel to market yourself which also serves as a showcase of your writings online and will help you to get more followers. You may take Author JJ Kendrick's Towerbabel Profile page as reference.  And as mentioned by Hugh Howey, bestselling author of WOOL, giving away content is an essential way for authors to find their readers. Our platform let you run giveaways campaign with ease by adding or removing chapters any time after you post. See how authors use Towerbabel to promote their books creatively here.

We also make writing and creating content online a breeze. Instead of typing up in Microsoft word and emailing the docs around, you can write directly on our beautifully designed writing pad. You can drag and drop a photo or embed a video within the text for rendering a richer reading experience. If you have an existing documents or text files, you can import them as well. Everything is stored on the cloud so you can work on any device, any time so long as you have Internet access.
We really want to create a more social experience for both writers and readers. We are still at an early stage but we are constantly listening to our users and improving our product. So come join our community and publish your works with us today. We would love to hear your thoughts. 


Anthony Chan
Product Manager
Tel: (852) 9309 7035  
Skype: anthonycyl  
Twitter: @anthonycyl
Towerbabel.com - Find us on Twitter and Facebook

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Visiting B.C. (part 2)--a short story by Leanne Dyck

This month my husband and I are celebrating our twenty-something (we kind of lost count) wedding anniversary. And I'm sharing a story about our special relationship with this place...



Capilano Suspension Bridge

If you missed or would like to re-read the first installment, here's the link.


Visiting B.C. (part 2)

The rain stopped, the sun shone but I was glad I hadn't packed flip-flops or shorts. There was a chill in the air. B.C. was definitely part of Canada. One of the best parts, I began to think.

Floyd's parents took pride in showing us their province. There was so much to see and do. We took a water taxi to Granville Island, a sky train to the Science World, and visited the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Floyd and I were still hawking at the scenery when his parents crossed the bridge. I followed him onto the bridge. This is such a beautiful place. I took another step. Look at that blue sky, it sure is a beautiful day. I took a few more steps. Just look at how tall those trees are. I was half-way across that bridge. Look at that river. Gulp. That raging river. The bridge started to sway more and more. I could fall. What will stop me? I wrapped my hand tighter around the rope rail. This flimsy thing? Um, no. Not. I tried to take another step but I just couldn't. I was blocked by a clear image of my death. There I was--a leg bent unnaturally one way, an arm bent unnaturally the other, and a bolder-sized dent in my skull. Oh, why did I leave Manitoba? It's so beautiful there. And the snow is so soft. I shut my eyes really tight but when I opened them I was still in B.C.; I was still on that bridge.

"Hey, Lyndi, what's the matter?" I guess he'd noticed that I was no longer following him.

Oh, nothing. Just my sure death, I wanted to tell him but all I managed to say was, "I can't--"

"You can't what?"

"This bridge. I want to get off this bridge."

"Don't be silly. You  have to walk--"

"I'm not being silly. And I'm not going to walk one step more."

He started to walk toward me--the bridge swayed wildly with each step. 

"Don't do that," I roared.

He stopped. "Okay but you can't stay there. Other people want to cross."

"I really don't care what--"

"Just look at me."

I love you so much, for you--only for you. I took one step and another and another. 

"That's right, very good. See you can do this."

I didn't cross that bridge. I walked to Floyd and together we made it safely to the other side.

What hinderous thing happened to us on the other side of that bridge? I will reveal all...
Next Monday:  the conclusion of Visiting B.C.

Guest Post Friday:  Anthony Chan introduces us to Towerbabel

Sharing my author journey...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My First Writing Sabbatical by Dean K Miller

Dean will be giving away a copy of And Then I Smiled to one U.S. or Canada resident who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday August 17, 2014. Winner to be announced on Monday. Look for Dean's next book titled, Echoes: Reflections Through Poetry and Verse in mid-September. Visit www.hotchocolatepress.com or Dean's website for release information.


Dean is a freelance writer and member of Northern Colorado Writers. His work has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood, TROUT magazine, Torrid Literature Journal and other literary magazines. His essays won three separate contests at www.midlifecollage.com.
For 26 years, Miller has kept the skies safe as an air traffic controller for the FAA and received the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) Northwest Mountain Region 2010 Archie League Safety Award. In his spare time, he enjoys fly fishing and he is an avid supporter and volunteer for the veteran’s support group Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. He lives in Colorado with his wife and their two dogs, Bear and Snickers.
Dean K Miller's Author website
Twitter:  @deankmiller


My First Writing Sabbatical by Dean K Miller

I enter my hotel room in Shenandoah, TX. It is modernized late ‘70s, only because they’ve removed the avocado green from the decor. Orange, gold, and red tones dominate the furnishings and floors. The shower curtain logo says it all: “wake up on the bright side.”™ There is no other option. On the plus side, the slight musty smell is definitely early ‘90s. Regardless, I am full of anticipation, for the next three days this is not only my home, but site of my first writing sabbatical. I plan hours of uninterrupted writing around my daughter’s swim meet, which is why I’m in town.
Finally, I am ready to begin, except the hotel’s Wi-Fi has dumped. That means no access to Hearts of Space, my favorite writing music. As the ever-prepared traveler, I have a back-up plan. Out comes my IPOD and I fire up MS Word on my laptop. Who needs the Internet anyway?
I settle into the orange mesh “office” chair and gaze across the room at the large red lounge chair. Hmmm…That might be more comfortable. Too late; I’ve already set up my writer’s station: Inspirational chips and salsa, enjoyed with a fine 5.5 ounce plastic bottle of Chardonnay that’s chilling in a Styrofoam cup. Can it get any better?
But then, Jams from “tech support” calls. Okay, that’s not his name, but it’s short for “Just a minute, Sir,” which he states repeatedly. Emboldened by my half-cup of wine (so delectable in a foam cup fresh from its plastic wrapper) I politely end the call. I haven’t time for this. I’m a writer on sabbatical. There are words shouting to be heard on screen. If I need Internet service, I’ll get it at Starbucks. I’d been there twice already.
The internet problem did get solved, and over the next 72 hours I enjoyed long blocks of solitary writing time. I used most of it wisely and moved my works-in-progress forward. I also finished off the bag of chips, ninety percent of the salsa, four bags of microwave popcorn and the remaining three mini bottles of wine (thank God for twist-tops.)
Despite my last hour of writing being repeatedly interrupted by the maintenance man trying to shut off the bathtub hot water, I’ve written well and learned several valuable lessons. These include, but are not limited to: (1) long periods of solitary writing time are invaluable; (2) I have the discipline to sit and write; (3) focusing on one project at a time works better (for me) than scatter braining four simultaneously; and finally, (4) that I enjoy wine from small plastic bottles.
I am already looking forward to my daughter’s next travel swim meet. I hope she’s as happy with her results from this trip as I am with mine.



buy this book 

or 

Dean’s debut book: And Then I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete contains over 50 personal essays and stories along with 10 original poems. The essays and poems, “. . . find grace in life’s simplest moments and transport readers on journeys ranging from beaches, mountain streams, city parks and to destinations in realms we seldom visit, both inside and outside the physical world. Seemingly average moments of life create the backdrop for Miller’s keen observations and discoveries, touching on various facets of life, family, nature and the energy that surrounds us.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Visiting B.C (part 1).--a short story by Leanne Dyck

This month my husband and I celebrate our twenty-something wedding anniversary. Woohoo! Party--in our own quiet, well-mannered, unassuming way. : ) And along those lines, I will be serializing the fictionalized story about our special relationship with the Capilano Suspension Bridge 

Photo:  circa 1950s my grandparents with (possibly) your uncle photo bombing in the background and (possibly) your dog's great grandpa photo bombing in the foreground. 


Visiting B.C. (part 1)

The bus jerked to a stop, threw me out and I landed in a snow bank. Winter's icy fingers pinched my flesh—through, it didn't care how many, layers of clothes. My boots couldn't gain traction and so like an ice cube, I skated from streetlight to streetlight until I slid into my apartment.

“Cold out?” my boyfriend, Floyd, greeted me with a kiss.

“Too.”

I slowly began to thaw as we watched T.V.

He waited for a commercial and then asked, “Would you like to go to--”

I would have gone anywhere with him.

“B.C.?”

I visualized green grass and heard Hawaiian music. “When?”

“You don't even have to think about it, eh?” Floyd smiled. “We'll spend Christmas with my folks.”

Days, hours, minutes dragged passed but finally it was time to pack.

“No, Lyndi, it'll be too cold for flip-flops and shorts. B.C. is still part of Canada. It's still winter.”

But I didn't pack my long underwear.

We left our city of snowflakes, flew over Saskatchewan and caught turbulence over Alberta. It felt like shooting rapids as one air current bounced us up and then another slammed us down. I loved every minute of it.

Side-by-side and hand-in-hand, Floyd and I walked from the corridor to the airport. The metal detector didn't kick up a fuss about me. But the same couldn't be said about Floyd. He unwound his belt from his pants. But the machine still wasn't pleased. He emptied his pockets--dimes, nickels, pennies. No change. The security guards surrounded him and I began to panic. How well do I know this guy? He could be a serial killer. Is he carrying a gun? I bowed my head and offered a silent prayer, Please, God. Please keep me safe.

Laughter. One of the guards slapped Floyd on the back. And he was free.

"Have a romantic holiday," the guard called to me.

I thought that was a rather personal thing to call but just smiled. 

Floyd lead me away from the security area. "Where you worried?"

"Who? Me? Oh, no--not at all," I lied.

There was a woman with glasses and curly brunette hair standing beside the luggage carousel. Floyd steered us right toward her. "Hi, Mom." Floyd gave her a hug. "This is Lyndi."

"Welcome, Lyndi." She greeted me with a smile. "Have you been to B.C. before?"

"Yes, once when I was twelve, but never in the winter."

"Oh, well, you better bundle up. It's minus ten and raining."

"Mom, we just left minus thirty-five and snow. We'll be fine." Floyd's jacket remained folded over his arm.

As we walked through the parking lot, I felt a raindrop on my shoulder. What felt like five minutes later, one landed on an eyelash. This is rain in B.C.?

"Liquid sunshine," Floyd said as we piled into the car. "At least I don't have to shovel it."

Guest post Friday:  My First Writing Sabbatical by 
Dean K Miller 
Leave a comment and win a book

Next Monday:  Part two of Visiting B.C.

Sharing my author journey...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Interview with Shirley Hershey Showalter

How/why did you start to write?

I remember enjoying creative writing projects in school. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Lochner, gave each child a black and white photo and said, “Write a story.” My photo depicted a dilapidated barn. I scratched my head. Who cares about an old barn? Then my eyes lit up. I wouldn’t write about the barn itself. I would become a mouse inside the barn! All of a sudden, my hand moved fast, and soon ink was flowing across the page. I loved the feeling of being inspired.

How did you become an author?

I published my first essays while I was a college student. I was a reporter and then co-editor of the student newspaper. (I later married the editor!) At every stage of my life I wrote and published a few articles. After graduate school most of my writing was academic and published in journals. And as a college president and foundation executive, I wrote narratives that illustrated the missions of my respective organizations. I also published a number of precursors to my book-length memoir in the form of personal essays.

Only after retiring from those executive roles, however, was I willing to concentrate on the story of my childhood. I wrote about my own magical years exploring one hundred acres of our family farm as I held my first grandson in my arms.

What was your first published piece?

“The Sins of the Fathers.” It was published about 1971 and was about my experience of trying to be a good teacher to black students in the recently-integrated public school system just after I graduated from college.

Where was it published?

In Christian Living, a church publication.


What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I’m the oldest of five children, and my first career followed naturally from my birth order. I became a teacher. First high school. Then college. Then, as president and foundation executive, I continued teaching but found a wider classroom. Teaching, learning, and writing are three legs of a stool for me. I can’t separate them. I discover truth by writing about it. I test truth in the classroom and by engaging with my readers.

What inspires you?

Ultimately what inspires me most is the certainty that I am going to die. Knowing that, I want to cherish every minute. My mission is to prepare for the hour of my death, one good day at a time. And to help others do the same.

That may sound morbid, but it isn’t! I am also inspired by grandbabies and sunsets and flowers and laughter and great writing and beautiful art and music. Like Keats and Wordsworth, however, my joy is intensified by the sadness of the evanescence of life.

Please share one of your successful author platform building technique

As a passionate learner, I naturally sought out teachers when I knew I wanted to write a book-length memoir. I started at the 2008 Santa Barbara Writers Conference, where I first heard the word “platform.” Then I took classes from Dan Blank and Michael Hyatt on platform building. The single best thing I have done to build platform has been to create a simple “newsletter” called Magical Memoir Moments that people sign up for on my website.

Come to think of it, that newsletter is a lot like the photo of the old barn my teacher first inspired me with. Anyone who subscribes to my email list gets a picture every Tuesday at 9 a.m. I ask a few questions at the end to stimulate the imagination of the reader. The group has grown slowly, and it is inspiring other people to write their own stories. I love that.

It has also helped me to sell books. Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World went into its second printing one week after publication. After four months, it still hits number two in the Amazon bestseller list under religion/Mennonite.

Parting words

This is a marvelous time to be a writer. Think of writing and publishing as a form of school without walls, grades, and classes.

Publishing is like the old barn. But YOU are like the sly little mouse who has a story to tell!


Writer, Speaker, Blogger
Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World (memoir)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ShirleyHersheyShowalter
540.746.4044 (c)  

Shirley Hershey Showalter (1948 - ) grew up on a Mennonite family farm near Lititz, Pennsylvania. The first person in her family to go to college, she eventually became the first woman president of Goshen College in Indiana, a national liberal arts college noted for its commitment to peace and international service learning. She joined the Fetzer Institute in 2004, a private operating foundation with this mission: "to foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community." In 2010 she became a full-time writer living in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She has won awards for excellence in each of the fields she entered: teaching, higher education, leadership, and writing.

Her memoir "Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World" (September 19, 2013) tells the story of a little girl who dreamed big and was transformed by dreams much bigger than her own. It was named a Best Spiritual Book of 2013 by Spirituality & Practice.

"I promise: you will be transported," says Bill Moyers of this memoir. Part Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, part Growing Up Amish, and part Little House on the Prairie, this book evokes a lost time, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, when a sheltered but feisty little girl entered a family and church caught up in the midst of the cultural changes of the 1950's and '60's. With gentle humor and clear-eyed affection, the author tells the story of her first encounters with the "glittering world" and her desire for "fancy" forbidden things she could see but not touch.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reviewing Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

My one sentence review:  Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese is like a slap shot--a quick and powerful read. (stroll down for more...)

Blurb from the back cover:  Saul Indian Horse is in trouble, and there seems to be only one way out. As he journeys back through his life as a northern Ojibway, from the horrors of residential school to his triumphs on the hockey rink, he must question everything he knows. In Indian Horse, author Richard Wagamese has crafted a wise and magical novel about love, family and the power of spirit.



I took notes as I read...

'Many hearts beating together make us stronger.' (p. 2)

I'm so glad I decided to read Indian Horse after The Orenda--they are very compatible books. 

Wagmese's matter of fact writing style is very easy to read and before I know it I'm on page 30. And I'm not full; I hunger for more.

The narrator speaks in a simple, straight forward manner but words like 'ministrations' are off putting. They make you question your assumptions regarding the narrator's background. I read on... 

Saul:  'I read once that there are holes in the universe that swallow light, all bodies. St. Jerome's [Indian Residential School] took all the light from my world. Everything I knew vanished behind me with an audible swish, like the sound a moose makes disappearing into spruce.' (p. 43)

If you've ever wondered about the cruelty inflicted on students at residential school read chapter twelve. It's hard to but read it. And while you read remind yourself that these are children they are physically and mentally abusing.

'When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human. That is hell on earth, that sense of unworthiness. That's what they inflicted on us.' (p. 81)

Saul on Hockey:  'I can't explain how it came to me, but I could see not just the physical properties of the game and the action but  the intent. If a player could control a measure of space, he could control the game.' (p. 58)

It's very important for the reader to see what Saul had to give up (his life with his family) and to see what he had to endure (in the residential school) so that we can appreciate what hockey gave to him. It gave him a reason to spring out of bed each morning; it instilled in him a love for life. 

This book would make a wonderful movie.

Wagamese love for the game of hockey rings out page after page. And it's infectious--even for this decidedly non-sport-minded woman. 

I want everything to work out for Saul. I want him to live happily ever after with the Kelly's. But I know it's not to be. I know because I'm only half-way through the book and I know because of the way this book began. 

Wagamese skillfully uses foreshadowing on page 140.

This would be an excellent book for a reluctant reader--especially one that loves hockey.

Chapter 48 is so powerful and underlines a message I firmly embrace as true--to heal you must remember.

Chapter 49 reads like a hard slap across the face. How could  be so naive? Why didn't I know? Why didn't I see?

I couldn't stop reading, but I didn't want it to end. Thank you, Richard Wagamese.

Friday's guest post:  Interview with Shirley Hershey Showalter (memoirist)

Sharing my author journey...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Who Me Idle? (part 2) by Joel Harvey

(continued from an article posted on this blog on July 25th)


Joel Harvey with his granddaughters

During the Clayquot Sound anti-clearcut protest (summer 1993) I noticed thick mists of sympathy for First Nations wisping around, but these mists evaporated easily at talk about how those ancient forests could provide jobs for native loggers rather than corporate ones. So I helped to put together a First Nations / environmetalist conference at UVIC, and was kvetching over coffee to North Island Chief Francis about how much static I had to endure from government officials, consultants, and environmental activist folks, just for suggesting that First Nations views needed to be heard - from themselves. He commiserated quietly with "You suffer a lot that way?" Much much later, his centuries deep irony hit me.

At a circle meet for the South Island Treaty table, having been invited as a witness, in the initial round of intros I said I was not sure exactly why I was there. Chief Bill (well known then for his punchy "we should have killed you all" quip) grinned and gruffed - well why are you here? ( 'here' obviously taking in all of North America).

Later, a high point was hosting Nisg'a folks, especially Chief Joe Gosnell, for the grand treaty signing ceremony at the Legislature. On 2 Dec 1998 Chief Gosnell, in majestic red and black traditional regalia, made an all-Canadian greatest speech at the bar of the legislature, reminding BC how far we have come since 1887 when Premier William Smithe told aboriginals from northern BC their land-claims were meaningless: “When the white man first came among you, you were little better than wild beasts of the field”. Gosnell summarized the progress: "Under the treaty we will no longer be wards of the state, no longer beggars in our own lands."

It was an honour to watch his immense civility and negotiation skill, and then help nominate him for the Order of Canada, which he received about the time the redneck backlash (``One Law fer All`) in BC started. Out of these negotiations came one charming leaked comment about loss of "our" forest access from a Forest company exec: "I suppose there is no need for Natives to worry about tomorrow, the government will always look after them. They see it as today's lifestyle being better than yesterday's. Proof that white people owe them something."   The backlash was also expressed in the Campbell government's attempt to nullify the Nisga Treaty in court. That case was dismissed then. Campbell tried again with an absurd, expensive treaty referendum (2002) - which failed as well. 

While that treaty may be a model for others to come, a recent attempt to nullify it was initiated - and lost - by a group of Nisga citizens, unhappy in their own way about the whole thing. Can't life be hard, and unfair, sometimes?

The BC Treaty Process, too, has not been productive, running into constant roadblocks, more government 'studies', etc,etc. In 2013, there are just 3 done treaty deals out of over 50 First Nations in BC, many now opting to risk more court action rather than rely on the process.  Recently the Commissions' chief commissioner, Sophie Pierre, pondered  “If we can't do it, it's about time we faced the obvious – it isn't going to happen, so shut 'er down.”, though she is staying on - with hopefulness - for another term. Locally, the Hul'qumi'num (South Island) Treaty Group  process has been stalled for years. This group has taken a complaint against BC & Canada's insincere, obstructionist approach to an international tribunal  (Inter-American Commission of Human Rights). Now, whoever might have suggested such a thing?

And so, things keep on moving on, and from what I can see some have got much better over 20 years (in business, media, education,  attitudes, even activist collaboration). But while 'retired' in a tranquil rural island hideout, I know there's way longer to go, even when there are so many other places to shine our care. All us many real heroes and leaders,  allies, sympathizers, supporters, letter writers, well wishers in government and out, on reserve and off, and those just interested in artistic works, seeking authentic spirituality, collecting bits of lore, curios and dreamcatchers, or even cool native place names  - dear gentle hearts - can we just keep on pushing more in our own small ways?



Your journey may be like mine, you may not be fast but you are slow, learning very late about the nasty-shadowy-mindless easily enraged beasties that still snooze lightly in the culture out there. I probably should have paid that $10 to get the lowdown early in life. Ahead there remains serious deprogramming of 2 centuries of Imperial tinged religion, paternal land acquisitive legalism and repression, cartoon injun stereotyping ("they" are so spiritual, cute/exotic/wasted but noble - and almost extinct or assimilated).  Like, "we" are not yet out of "our" own swampy woods. So that 'we' may continue moving - being non idlers - and maybe challenge ourselves, not be dumb as rocks about this stuff, I offer suggestions from my own encounters:

·          "A Long and TerribleShadow" (1990), a relentless look at our real history, by former BC Supreme Court Justice Tom Berger (Swedish/All-Canadian).
·          "The Orenda" (2013) by Joseph Boyden (Anishinnabe/Scottish), a fictional history of early Canada, on personal impacts of devastating native wars and spiritual clashes (at the library).
·         "The InconvenientIndian" (2012) by Thomas King (Cherokee/Greek), of CBC's Dead Dog Cafe, for sparkles of wit and good dark storytelling (laughter along the trail of tears), a fun and crisp de-mything read  (at the bookstore and library).
·          "First Nations and theFuture of Canadian Citizenship" (2013, CBC.CA/Ideas, Search: Ideas Atleo), Massey Lecture by Shawn Atleo (Ahousat/National Chief AFN). Our Precious Lives and Founding Relationships, Past Disasters, Work Ahead. Could you need more Clarity?
·          "Peace, Power,  and Righteousness" (1999) by Dr. Taiaike Alfred (Mohawk), toward a truer moral calculus for our land, that even newcomers can follow. Showing a people's ancient deep and sure dignity, that newcomers can also aspire to.
·          "They Called MeNumber One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School " (2013) by Chief Bev Sellars (Xat'sull/BC), Unsparing stories of women in BC residential schools - genocide, eh? say no more. Preface by Chief Bill.
·          "This Ragged Place" (1998) by Terry Glavin (Cannuk/MayneEscapee), Essays on awesomely crazy BC, especially Native & Forest Issues, the Fisheries Fracas.
·          "First Nations?Second Thoughts?" (2002) by Dr. Tom Flanagan (Wildrose/Yankee), background philosophy and arguments for the Harper Government's nouveau assimilationist, market-on-the-cheap-solutions,  Alberta-Oil Rampant. Like? UnFriend??
·          Some links (including these books at Amazon) and references (& your comments?) on my (Clan Keith/Geek) own rough, evolving topical aggregator web site  (IdleWatch.MayneHome.Net).

My point: Who was Idle? Is Idle Now? Me? So Many others? You? How much is enough?

While we've yet to see the noonday brilliance of a Nelson Mandela's (Madiba) smile to guide our way on, this agelong struggle continues within us, and without us.  Peace.

Joel / jpharvey@shaw.ca

Dec 2013. Thanks to the writing group - Amber, Leanne, Catherine, Gail, David - for listening & helping to coax this peice out of me, unplanned as it was, unperfected as it may stay. I should add - thanks to Annette for organizing that initial IdleNoMore event , and to Bill for provoking my interest in writing a short note about it and giving a few gold stars for style. Then it grew.

(For more information regarding this Joel's article please visit his web site.)