Tuesday, August 8, 2017

what's your book about?

What’s your book [or story or article] ABOUT? Why do authors find this question hard to answer? Why is it important? Good article here: http://tinyurl.com/y9vr2ztb .


Monday, August 7, 2017

review of book A HOUSE WITHOUT WALLS by B. L. Jensen

The author has a unique tone, often humorous and serious at the same time. She intersperses heavy-duty scientific and mathematical discussion with poetry, stories, and autobiographical references.


I don't pretend to understand the more heavy-duty parts of this book. One thing I do grasp is the idea that the author is making extended comparisons between creation and geological eras, and between creation and fetal development.


Here are a few of my favorite quotations from the book:


-"Whatever we go in search of, either physically or spiritually, is probably what we're going to find. Consequently, if God isn't what's wrong with things, but what's right with them, then always looking at what is wrong with the world probably won't help us to find him." Page 36


-"If one of my young children asked me Mommy, where did I come from? I would try to tell the child the truth from my own perspective but in terms that the child could understand...and any God of mine would be expected to do no less. Why complicate the matter with DNA, dinosaurs, plate tectonics, etc. when the child wouldn't have a clue as to what I was talking about...or a need to know about it at that point in time, anyway." Page 49


-"I would be hard pressed to argue against an omnipotent being, particularly after having spoken to him." Page 165


Mennonites from Russia to Saskatchewan

I'm a child of Agatha & Peter Martens, Mennonites who emigrated from Russia to Saskatchewan as children in 1925 & 1926. They told many stories about Russia & their new life in Canada. My 1940s novel Consider the Sunflowers is partly based on these stories. It’s available from Amazon, Chapters Indigo, & the publisher, Borealis Press of Ottawa.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Writing awards won by Jacquie McNeil & Rita Dozlaw

Winners of the 2017 Dr. Robert & Elma Schemenauer Writing Awards were announced at the Interior Authors Group summer social held July 22. Congratulations to Jacquie McNeil of Savona and Rita Joan Dozlaw of Kamloops. To see their smiling faces & read their winning entries, please visit http://elmams.wixsite.com/awards/2017-winners .

Friday, July 21, 2017


The following review of my 1940s-era Mennonite novel CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS was written by Karen Burgess, who also made these sunflower potholders for me. Thanks, Karen!


This book, though based in the 1940 era, is very typical of the relationships of husband and wives today.  In other words, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s sadly lacking God’s grace.  This couple and their issues are often typical of misunderstandings between husbands and wives.  I could identify with many of their communication issues.


I really loved the abundance of similes and metaphors.  The author has such a unique way of portraying everyday events with the likes of:  he sure insults me, frowning at me like I’m a weevil in a wheat bin  (p.23); as aimless as the fog that swirled off the bay (p.36); Frank’s laugh was as sharp as a Russian thistle. (p.191);  that his dad’s storytelling was like a leaky faucet.  Once it started running, it was impossible to turn off.  (p.271) ;  I can just hear the gossip: That Gypsy – unstable as molasses (p.123) ;  They’re already busier than a one-armed paper-hanger with the chickenpox. (p.165)  These are just a few of the many vivid word pictures the author works into this homey story.  Positively delightful!


I appreciate the fact that in chapter 64, Tina herself (the obvious Christian) realizes her own sin and shortfall, and comes to a genuine repentance.  I appreciate the fact, too, that life does not automatically become a bed of roses once she invites Christ into her life.  But it’s easy to see that Tina’s decision to follow Christ wholeheartedly does make a profound difference in her life afterwards.  The fact that Frank doesn’t follow in his wife’s footsteps is a very realistic outcome.


I would gladly recommend this book for a realistic and down-to-earth read, and a good insight into the thinking of Mennonites in that day, and sometimes even today.


Big SiWC News!

The following message is from Kathy Chung of SURREY INTERNATIONAL WRITERS' CONFERENCE:


From: newsletter=siwc.ca@mg.siwc.ca [mailto:newsletter=siwc.ca@mg.siwc.ca] On Behalf Of Surrey International Writers' Conference
Sent: July-21-17 11:13 AM
To: elmams@shaw.ca
Subject: Big SiWC News!



From conference coordinator Kathy:


WOW! What a summer it's been so far here at SiWC Central. We've never seen a registration rush as busy as this year's, and we're incredibly gratified by it. Registration has been open a little more than a month, and we're already 90% sold out! Thanks to all who've registered!

If you haven't signed up yet, NOW is your chance. Currently, we still have basic packages and Sunday only available, as well as space in most of our master classes. We're taking wait list requests for all of our sold out packages and classes at registration@siwc.ca. Note that priority on our full package wait list will be given to those who are registered for basic packages. 

Don't forget that our scholarship applications are still open, as is our writing contest. Get those entries in! And ad space is now available in our conference brochure. Contact Tricia at siwc@triciabarker.com for rates and details.

Some of you have noticed that we've been dropping hints about something new and special for our 25th anniversary year. Of course we're working hard to make our 25th annual conference special, but a milestone like this seemed to need even more than a stellar SiWC in October. 

For years, one of the frequent suggestions on our conference evaluation forms has been to offer you MORE SiWC by giving you another chance to get together with your conference friends and keep the writing inspiration going year-round. We listened, and we decided that our 25th anniversary was the perfect opportunity to bring you a bonus event. SiWC will continue as always, every October at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, BC. But as a special treat for this special anniversary, we're also going to bring you

SiWC at Sea!

That's right. You wanted an SiWC writing retreat and more workshops. So we've planned exactly that aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean! How cool is that? Imagine writing on a lounge chair, staring out at the deep, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, or having a brand new story inspired by a wander around Roatan. Sounds good, doesn't it? Add to that dinners with presenters, workshops, dedicated writing time, socializing and lots of fun, and you get some idea of what attendees will experience next April.

We'll sail from Galveston, Texas, aboard Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas. 

April 8, 2018 – depart Galveston

April 9 – Sea day – workshops and writing time!

April 10 – Sea day – workshops and writing time and fun!

April 11 – Port day – Roatan, Honduras

April 12 – Port day – Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico

April 13 – Port day – Cozumel, Mexico

April 14 – Sea day – workshops and writing time and more!

April 15 – Arrive in Galveston

On port days, we'll have some group excursions available, and we'll still sneak in writing time, dinner with the group including with presenters at your table (faculty to be announced), socializing, and more. 

Note that this event has limited capacity compared to SiWC, so register early to avoid missing out! Registration will open Wednesday, August 9 at noon. Check out all the info on our SiWC at Sea page at siwc.ca. 

Please join us on this amazing, special adventure. And, of course, at SiWC this October, too. Looking forward to seeing you!


Kathy Chung

SiWC Conference Coordinator


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Surrey International Writers' Conference Society
Suite #544 | 151-10090 152nd St | Surrey BC V3R 8X8 | Canada

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

story-writing contest: confessions from my summer vacation: FBCW

Interesting contest from the Federation of BC Writers, open to members and non-members:

http://www.bcwriters.ca/contest/ .


Monday, July 17, 2017

Robert Service, Kamloops, & YesterCanada

Thanks to the Kamloops monthly newspaper The Connector, which published my article about poet Robert Service in their June 2017 issue. Here's the article:

An "agreeable" last stop for Service 

Submitted by Elma Schemenauer

Robert Service was a shy awkward thirty-year-old when the Canadian Bank of Commerce transferred him to Kamloops in July 1904. He was sorry to leave Victoria, but found Kamloops "even more agreeable." 

In his autobiographical book Ploughman of the Moon, Service describes his time in Kamloops, which he characterizes as "a town in the heart of the cattle country, with a river running alongside."

He and other employees lived in rooms above the bank. At that time the Kamloops branch was located at the southeast corner of Victoria Street and First Avenue, where Brendan Shaw Real Estate now makes its home. A Chinese cook prepared meals for the "bank boys."

Service wasn't a natural banker. He was too much of a dreamer to concentrate on numbers. He wrote in Ploughman of the Moon, "I knew I was not suited for the job; yet I had no hope in any other direction, and I was intensely grateful for the safety and social standing it offered."

Banking was a welcome change after the years he had spent as a drifter, wandering minstrel, potato-digger, orange-picker, cowboy, and "cow-juice jerker."

Service was pleased with the bank's undemanding schedule. It gave him lots of time to ride his pony over the area's "rolling ridges, or into spectral gulches that rose to ghostlier mountains....like the scenery of Mexico." He reports "meeting Indians, superb horsemen" and "making friends among the cattle ranchers. They gave dances in their lonely homes, and we (Service and pals) would ride back in the early hours of the morning."

Service also played polo in Kamloops, though he wasn't good at it. He says he "never could hit the ball with certainty."

What was he good at? Poetry-writing had tugged at his soul during his years of poverty and wandering. However, he hadn't developed his poetic gifts to a great extent.

As it turned out, Kamloops was the last stop on Service's road to literary fame. In the fall of 1904, the Canadian Bank of Commerce announced it was transferring him to Whitehorse in the Yukon. When other bank employees heard the news, they envied him. They had heard exciting stories about the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896-1899. The rush was over, but the thrill and romance lingered.

Service was sorry to leave Kamloops. He wrote that "life there had been delightful." Yet he felt a sense of destiny leading him on. He travelled to the Yukon with "an idea that a new and wonderful chapter in my life was about to begin."

It did. In the Yukon, Robert W. Service's gift for poetry blossomed like wildflowers in the brief Arctic summer. One of his best known ballads is "The Cremation of Sam McGee." It begins:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold.

This grisly but entertaining ballad was inspired by a true event. Both the event and the writing of "The Cremation of Sam McGee" are described in my book YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure. For more info about the book, which presents 30 historical tales spanning Canada and the years from the 1200s to the 1900s, please see http://elmams.wixsite.com/elma .

1st photo shows the Service plaque in Kamloops. 2nd shows him about the time he arrived (credit Library and Archives Canada). 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

free photos

Kim Garst is an author, marketing strategist, business advisor, etc. In the following post she lists 31 places to find free photos on the Internet: http://tinyurl.com/y9em5uvg .

Monday, July 10, 2017

contest: 5-minute comedy quickie

If you’re quick & funny, this contest may interest you. Deadline Aug 15, 2017.



Saturday, July 1, 2017

free periodical for authors: Opal Magazine

Opal Magazine for Canadian Authors & Writers is published in Calgary. It's free online! Lots of informative articles. July 2017 issue is here: http://www.opalpublishing.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Opal-July_spread-view.pdf . My article about memoir-writing appears near the end of this issue.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Consider the Sunflowers, YesterCanada, Saskatoon, & points north

North-of-Saskatoon, SK communities Warman, Martensville, Hepburn, Dalmeny, Langham, Rosthern, & others regularly appear in the paper Clark's Crossing Gazette. The Gazette just ran the following article about my most recent books. Thanks! The books are available online & in stores including Whimsy on 33rd Street in Saskatoon.


Prairie life and Russian past inspire love story

Posted on June 29, 2017

In “Consider the Sunflowers,” Tina Janz finds the guitar-playing half-gypsy Frank Warkentin much more exciting than the “boring as turnips” man her devout Mennonite parents want her to marry. She leaves her job in Vancouver to launch a campaign to get Frank to the altar. That done, life on Frank’s farm in the prairie community of Coyote, Saskatchewan turns bliss to loneliness.

Schemenauer’s grandmother, Agatha Siemens Martens some years after emigrating to Saskatchewan


Their love story was written by author Elma Schemenauer, who was born and raised in the Elbow-Loreburn area of Saskatchewan. Those prairie roots and the experience of some of her Russian forbears inspired Schemenauer to write the 1940s-era novel.

“As I was growing up in our little Mennonite community, I heard many stories from my grandparents and other Mennonite relatives,” she said. Those relatives were tremendous storytellers and when they got together, they told stories of what happened in the old country of Russia, what happened on the ship coming over, and what happened in their new life in Canada.

Schemenauer earned a B.A. at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Toronto. In Toronto, she moved into a publishing career and wrote 75 books including Yesterstories and Native Canadians Today. Today, Elma and her husband live in Kamloops, BC, where she writes and blogs.

Schemenauer started out writing her own memories. She began with a child’s point of view, but later wanted to look at those early years from an adult point of view. “My childhood meant a lot to me on the farm because we were very isolated out there. We were a long way from town and just being on the bald flat prairie made a huge impression on me in those early years.” Those memories and stories from Russia form the backdrop for Consider the Sunflowers.

Tina is crazy about Frank. “I know what its like to be crazy about somebody,” said Schemenauer. Tina’s parents want her to marry dependable and rich Roland Fast, a church-going guy with a good background, whose family had an estate back in Russia. Many Russian Mennonite immigrants left behind large estates to escape the Russian revolution beginning in 1917, and the Civil War.
The book traces the first seven years of Frank and Tina’s marriage. The influence of World War II is felt on the home front. Britain suffered from food shortages, and a lot of food – pork, beef, wheat – was sent over from Canada, Schemenauer said.

The unorthodox Frank has mixed parentage, a troubled background and doesn’t fit the mold. He was abandoned by his brother back in Russia and is haunted by the experience. The character grew out of Schemenauer’s knowledge of her father. “He never felt at home in the Mennonite community. I could never figure out why.”

Schemenauer’s mother went to work as a maid in Saskatoon in the 1930s, which was not uncommon for Mennonite women of that time, to earn extra income. She had an aunt there and when this aunt went to Vancouver, her mom went along. She enjoyed the nice weather, the fruit trees and always had a boyfriend in the back of her mind. The Tina character in the book is modeled after Schemenauer’s Mom. Tina moves to Vancouver and works as a secretary for a physician. She visits Saskatchewan periodically and gives up her Vancouver job to be with Frank. Schemeauer ends her novel in a realistic way.

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Elma Schemenauer drew on her prairie childhood and the stories she heard from Russian relatives who emigrated to Canada, to write “Consider the Sunflowers.”

“I’m after real life. I like to show life the way it really is. It’s not idealized.”

Schemenauer has given workshops and written an article on “Fictionalizing Real Life.”
She loves Canada and its history, and channeled that love into a book celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary, YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure. From her ‘sagebrush-dotted’ hillside in Kamloops, she uncovers mysteries of Canada’s past and identifies adventurers like Dr. Elizabeth Scott Matheson of Onion Lake, Saskatchewan.

Interest in the Canada 150 book has generated renewed interest in Consider the Sunflowers, released in 2014. It contains a Mennonite history timeline in the back. Besides Russian Mennonites, some history of Swiss and Southern German Mennonites is also included.
Consider the Sunflowers can be found at the Waldheim library, at the Whimsy Store on 33rd in Saskatoon, and at the Station Arts Centre in Rosthern.



book swag

I just learned a new term, book swag. I gather it refers to objects, posters, etc. used to help sell books in a bookstore. I think it could be extended to things authors use personally to help sell books. For example, when I speak about my historical book/s CONSIDER THE SUNFLOWERS and YESTERCANADA, I sometimes bring along historical pictures, an old lantern, a washboard, old license plates, etc. This article discusses book swag from a booksellers’ viewpoint:

http://tinyurl.com/yckchvmd . It may give us ideas.


Monday, June 26, 2017

CITXW NLAKA’PAMUX ASSEMBLY Youth Multi-Media & Arts Conference - Summer School

From: Victoria Weller [mailto:vweller@tnrd.ca]
Sent: June-26-17 3:58 PM
Subject: CITXW NLAKA'PAMUX ASSEMBLY Youth Multi-Media & Arts Conference - Summer School


Hello Secwepemc & Nlaka'pamux First Nations stakeholders and Friendship Centres, TNRD Libraries, Arts Councils and for information, TNRD Directors, Filmmakers & Theatre Companies and other motion picture stakeholders,


Please print and post the poster, or share info in newsletters and social media.

Please distribute this email to persons who you believe may be interested.


2nd Annual Youth Multi-media & Arts Conference (summer school)

·       Tuesday, August 8 – Friday, August 18, 2017

·       Ages 10 - 18

·       Premiere of Films: Sunday, August 20, 2017


·       Where: Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (Dorm rooms available)


The Multimedia & Arts Conference is an outstanding opportunity for First Nation youth to engage and be mentored by successful artists, filmmakers, actors, writers, directors and elders in exploring and expressing their culture, history and universal themes through filmmaking, art and other mediums. A screening of youth films will take place after the conference, on Sunday, August 20.


For registration forms or further information please contact CITXW NLAKA'PAMUX ASSEMBLY at 250-378-1864 or go to www.cna-trust.ca


Friday, June 23, 2017

basic formatting issues in Microsoft Word

Some authors try to use a computer like a typewriter. This can result in some basic formatting issues discussed in this article: http://tinyurl.com/y97mbfxv

Deadline extended to July 22, 2017 for 55-pus writing award

Strathcona Place





Deadline now July 22 for award for writers 55-plus


The deadline for entries for the 2017 edition of the John W. Bilsland Award has been extended to July 22. The award was inaugurated in 2015 by the Strathcona Place Seniors Society of Edmonton to celebrate and foster the creativity of older writers.


Writers aged 55 years and older who live throughout Western Canada are eligible to submit work to be considered for this year's award.  Prizes of $500 will be awarded in each of three categories: short fiction, short non-fiction and poetry.


The deadline for award submissions is July 22, 2017.


For entry rules and regulations, and to download an entry form, go to www.strathconaplace.com. Entry forms are also available at the Strathcona Place Senior Centre, 10831 University Avenue. For further information email strathconaplace@outlook.com.


The late John W. Bilsland, MA (British Columbia), PhD. (Toronto), was Professor of English at the University of Alberta. In addition to his 30-year professional teaching career, as a volunteer he taught creative writing at the Strathcona Place Senior Centre for more than 25 years. During that time seniors who attended his classes produced more than 20 publications, including books.


Strathcona Place Seniors Centre has been serving older adults in south Edmonton for 43 years, providing a range of social and recreational programs.


Please publish in your newsletter and/or circulate to your membership.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

first lines of a story

How do you capture reader attention with your story starter? This article gives many examples. Which ones do you like? Which give you useful ideas?  https://tinyurl.com/y9ssxfxf


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

On memoirs & editors: Robert L. Bacon

I’m reading and enjoying TOO CLOSE TO THE FALLS, a memoir by Toronto psychologist Catherine Gildiner. That made me pay special attention to the following comments by a long-time online friend, editor/writer Robert L. Bacon, regarding his experiences with editing memoirs. I’m not sure about his contention that “memoirs are impossible to sell to a bona fide royalty publisher unless the author is a celebrity or a Holocaust survivor,” but his comments are still interesting and useful.


During the past year I've received a spate of memoirs to either edit or to critique.  Just recently, someone even phoned me to present material deemed worthy of the "life coaching" tag as a result of this person's "worldly" experiences.  I've often explained in my Newsletters that memoirs are impossible to sell to a bona fide royalty publisher unless the author is a celebrity or a Holocaust survivor, and I continue to stand by this contention.  My stance is not based on a bias against someone's wanting to tell the story of his or her own life, but the reality that this sort of narrative doesn't lend itself to much of any form of editing beyond correcting basic grammar.  To support this contention, I've also learned that memoir writers don't want their material revised beyond copyediting, so what is a developmental editor such as myself supposed to provide?  

To elaborate on that point, it's no different from when a character is "real" and I haven't been told this upfront by the author.  I edited a book some years ago in which a character was an absurdly despicable brat who was patently unlikable.  Yet this child carried a crucial story thread that ran throughout, and in the end was to "save the day."  The character was so unredemptive in every way that by the story's finish no reader would possibly care one way or the other.  I had no choice but to soften this child's rough edges.  However, the author was upset at my revision even though I'd discussed the suggested changes in considerable detail beforehand.  I later learned that this character was a relative whom the author always believed could do no wrong.  The writer ultimately "returned" this character to original form and, in my opinion, reduced the entire narrative to little more than pedestrian mishmash.

I've turned down memoirs by some really accomplished writers because of what I just discussed.  I had my first encounter with author "adamancy" when I changed the dropping of a plate of food at someone's feet to dropping the plate and the food on the other person's feet.  I was told in no uncertain terms that the physical plate had never touched Aunt Edna's feet, only the mashed potatoes.  (I altered this scene to protect the integrity of the client/author relationship even though in this case there is no nondisclosure agreement in force.)  I still laugh at this.  The primary issue involves what an editor can provide a memoir writer.  My answer is not much beyond correcting basic grammar and punctuation, and no one needs me for this.

Longtime editor Peter Ginna's book, "What Editors Do," is a compilation of material provided by more than two dozen respected editors.  I don't know if it's any better than what highly regarded editor Jerry Gross (who sadly recently passed away) wrote some years ago.  Any writer who's worked with a credible editor recognizes what the job entails.  In the simplest of terms, editing is the ability to make a story fluent from the perspective of continuity.  Accomplishing this, however, is anything but simple, and why I often spend a couple of hundred hours on a client's narrative.  Ignoring my drivel, Mr. Ginna's book might be worth a look, should anyone be on the fence regarding hiring an editor, and this has nothing to do with my being one of these unholy creatures.


Robert L. (Rob) Bacon, Founder

The Perfect Write®





Please contact me with any questions or comments, and let me
know if there is anything in the field of professional writing you
would like addressed in a future Newsletter.

For authors, The Perfect Write® is now providing

FREE 3-PAGE LINE-EDIT (if applicable).  Paste your material
(up to 5,000 words) to theperfectwrite@aol.com (no attachments).

For Authors, The Perfect Write® is continuing to offer

Paste your query to theperfectwrite@aol.com (no attachments).
and visit the Sample Letters Page for examples of successful queries.


The Perfect Write® offers comprehensive editing services, from

manuscript critiques to complete revisions, including substantive editing,

line-editing, and copyediting along with query letter design and composition. 

For pricing, send your project requirements to theperfectwrite@aol.com.

Monday, June 19, 2017

writing & reading opportunity: uplifting stories

I don’t know anything about the new online site storiesfromtheheart. However, it sounds like an interesting opportunity to write and/or read uplifting stories and maybe even winning a prize. Here’s the link:



Monday, June 12, 2017

Mennonite background & YesterCanada

The following article about my Mennonite background & my book YesterCanada appeared in QC [Regina Leader] & Bridges [Saskatoon Star Phoenix] Feb 10, 2017.




“Who wants to move to Canada?” asked my grandfather, Jacob Peter Martens. He glanced around the table at his wife and five children. Were they willing to leave their familiar Mennonite village in Russia and sail across the Atlantic to the new land?


“Yes, Canada!” the children said. Their mother shook her head. The majority won and the Martens arrived in Saskatchewan in May 1926. At first, they lived with relatives in the Swift Current-Herbert area. Later, they settled in the Elbow-Loreburn area, where I was born and grew up.


Life in the new land was challenging, but my relatives’ prevailing attitude was “Yes, Canada!” That’s my attitude, too. Love for this country and its history inspired my new book YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure.


Published by Borealis Press of Ottawa, the book presents 30 historical tales spanning this great land and the centuries from the 1200s to the 1900s.


Some of the mysteries in YesterCanada involve eccentrics whose motives puzzle people to this day. One was a Finnish farmer who built an ocean-going ship near Macrorie, Saskatchewan, far from any ocean. Another was a hermit obsessed with the beauties of Niagara Falls.
Elma (Martens) Schemenauer, author of YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure.


Other mysteries in the book involve the supernatural, or seem to. For example, who rang the chapel bell in Tadoussac, Quebec one foggy April night in 1782? What mysterious power told an Atlantic Sea captain to change course and “sail to the nor’west?” Who put a jinx on Alberta’s lost Lemon Mine?


I’ve always been interested in faith, values, and the adventures they inspire. Stories in YesterCanada that especially reflect such themes include “Dr. Elizabeth of Onion Lake, Saskatchewan,” “A Nova Scotia Noah and His Ark,” “Lily of the Peace River,” and “Abigail Becker, Heroine of Lake Erie.”


I’m also interested in animals. Among those in the book are Manitoba’s haunted horse, the ten-armed monster of Newfoundland, and the camels of British Columbia’s Cariboo gold rush.


The narratives in YesterCanada are based on Canadian history, biography, folklore, and Aboriginal traditions. The bibliography in the back of the book lists my sources for each story.


YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure is a 248-page paperback with 30 illustrations, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-88887-650-8. Ask for it in a store or library. You can also order it online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo, or Borealis Press. For more information, please visit http://elmams.wixsite.com/elma .






opportunity: short stories about community, ON THE PREMISES, deadline Sept 1. 2017

The online publication ON THE PREMISES is running another short story contest. Here’s their announcement:

Short Story Contest #30

It's time for another short story contest!


They say it takes a village to raise a child, but that's just one example of a kind of community and just one way a community can affect your life. There are plenty of others--good, bad, and otherwise. So for this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which the idea of community (or some kind of community) plays an important role.

One entry per author. No fee for entering. Maximum length of 5,000 words and minimum length of 1,000.

Deadline: Friday, September 1, 2017, 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Hyphenated Words: If the hyphenated word is generally considered a single word, it counts as one word. (Like "twenty-five" or "jack-o-lantern.") Otherwise each part of the hyphenated word counts separately.

Prizes: $220 for first, $160 for second, $120 for third, $60 for honorable mentions. We will publish between one and three honorable mentions.

To submit, use this link  https://onthepremises.submittable.com/Submit  and follow the instructions. If you don't already have a (free) Submittable account, you'll be prompted to make one.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Calling homeschoolers, parents, & other educators

Lisa Marie Fletcher publishes The Canadian Homeschooler, which is chock-full of useful information. Here’s her review of my historical book YesterCanada.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

poetry opportunity & website about BC literary landscape

A new poetry magazine, Nourish, invites submissions of poetry and haiku. Info at https://nourish.submittable.com/submit

The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC) announces a new website that focuses on the authors, publishers, bookstores, and libraries that make up the province’s literary landscape. It’s here: http://www.readlocalbc.ca/#



Monday, May 29, 2017

Saturday, May 20, 2017

social media marketing tips for authors: Rick Snyder

How do you promote your book on social media? Good article here: http://tinyurl.com/mosy42e .


Saturday, May 13, 2017

free online writing course from University of Iowa



The University of Iowa’s IWP (International Writing Program) course begins Monday.

On May 15 at 12 pm CDT, we will open our first free online writing course:

Power of the Pen: Identities and Social Issues in Fiction and Nonfiction!

We are so excited to get started, and we hope you'll join us!


            Study and write fiction and nonfiction.

Explore and discuss the social issues that matter to you.

Work with a dedicated team of instructors.

Learn from international authors.

Build new friendships with writers around the world.


            If you are studying English, creative writing offers an exciting way to practice and expand your skills. Your classmates in the course are from countries all over the world, and your instructors are ready to support your progress!

            Please share this with your friends, colleagues, students, and classmates. Everyone is welcome! We hope to see you on Monday! More information at https://app.novoed.com/fiction-and-nonfiction-2017


Questions? Email us at distancelearning.iwp@gmail.com.


Friday, May 12, 2017

how to write suspense

Good article here by Bryn Chancellor: http://tinyurl.com/lh9yoov .

active versus passive voice

Some writers use passive voice when active voice would be stronger. Example:

-The horse was ridden by him. PASSIVE

-He rode the horse. ACTIVE

Some are confused about what passive voice and active voice actually are. Here’s an excellent article on the topic. (It’s from The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.) http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/passive-voice/ .


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Surrey International Writers’ Conference: 25th Annual SiWC!

From conference coordinator Kathy:


25 years! Can you believe it? #SiWC17, coming up this October 20-22, with master classes and intensives on the 19th, marks the 25th annual Surrey International Writers' Conference. I'm excited to be bringing you the first newsletter of this milestone year. 

It means the world to us to continue the legacy started by Ed Griffin with a handful of helpers (our own Betty White of the North, Carol Monaghan, among them) and a small group of attendees in a borrowed school classroom. So you know we couldn't let this anniversary go by without a few special happenings.

First up, we have a brand new website, which is going up even as I write this newsletter. Along with all the content you're used to, we're excited to finally have a dedicated photo gallery for pictures of past years. And we know you'll be as thrilled as we are to know the new site is fully responsive. No more struggling with checking us out on your smart phone or tablet. No matter the screen size, the site will work for you. Check it out at www.siwc.ca

Also up at the new website is this year's presenter roster. We are SO excited about the people who are coming to teach, listen to your pitches, and spend their time with us this year. We hope you will be, too. 

Among the notable things at this year's conference are an unprecedented number of master classes and intensives and more workshops and panels than ever before. But don't worry: some things at SiWC never change. We'll never charge you for pitch or blue pencil appointments. And along with offering the best conference we can, we always strive to make everyone feel at home.

Whether you're a first-timer looking for a warm, welcoming place to dip your toes in a conference pool for the first time or a seasoned veteran eager for inspiration and professional development, SiWC has something for you. 

Registration for this year's conference opens at noon on Wednesday, June 7, so mark your calendars! Last year, we were halfway sold out by the end of the first day and entirely sold out by partway through the summer, so don't procrastinate.

Our annual writing contest is already open, with a $1000 first prize, and stories judged by none other than Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte. 

We have two different scholarships on offer again this year: the Tan Seagull Young Writers' Scholarship and the SiWC Diversity Scholarship. Check them out on our website and get your applications in! 

We'll be posting more information about this year's conference over the coming weeks. You can keep up with SiWC news on our website, our twitter feed (@siwctweets), and on our Facebook page. If you've been to the conference before, you're welcome to join our private Facebook alumni group for year-round community and encouragement. If you haven't been to SiWC before and would like to be a part of that group, all you have to do is attend this year's conference!

And make sure you stay tuned for a very exciting announcement, coming very soon.

Kathy Chung

SiWC Conference Coordinator



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

how much to charge for your e-book

You’ve jumped through the hoops & created an e-book. How much should you charge for it? Some ideas in this article: http://tinyurl.com/l77uf5a .


Monday, May 1, 2017

Festival of the Book 2017 in Fort Langley




Join us for the Fourth Annual Festival of the Book


New This Year

Prime Location

·        Adjacent to the main entrance to the Fort 

Writing Contest

·        Give us your thoughts on a Canada Day theme in two paragraphs or less

·        1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes awarded 

·        Winners will be announced at 3 pm

Children's Programming

·        Face-painting

·        Story time in the gazebo 


Saturday, July 1, 2017 from 10 am - 3 pm

Over 10,000 people routinely attend Canada Day ceremonies at Fort Langley. As an affiliated event, Festival of the Book is well attended by both local and regional readers and writers. This is a rare opportunity for independent authors to connect with new audiences. 

Registration fees for this year's event remain unchanged - $35 for a six-foot table and two chairs plus a half-page listing in the event catalogue. Full-page catalogue listings  are available for an additional $10. Authors are encouraged to bring their own table linens and display material. While we hope to enjoy the beautiful weather that has graced this event in prior years, this is a rain-or-shine event. Sun/rain protection is recommended. 

Site access will be available at 9 am and designated parking is provided. During the Festival, authors will be expected to manage their own sales and will retain 100% of the proceeds.  

Space is limited and will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration closes June 16. 

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