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 .

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: [] On Behalf Of Surrey International Writers' Conference
Sent: July-21-17 11:13 AM
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 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 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 

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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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: .


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 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 .

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: .

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: . My article about memoir-writing appears near the end of this issue.