David Elias – My Manitoba Book Awards experience

David Elias was shortlisted for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction so we asked him about his experience:

  1. How did you hear about the Manitoba Book Awards?

Answer: I received an email from my publisher, ECW Press, informing me that my book, Elizabeth of Bohemia:  A Novel about Elizabeth Stuart, The Winter Queen, had been nominated for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction.

  1. How was the process for submitting your book? If you submitted to previous Book Awards, how did the process differ, for better or worse?

Answer: ECW Press took care of everything.  They submitted the book for a number of other awards, as well.  As it turned out, the novel was also selected as a finalist for the Foreword Reviews Indie Awards, which is American.

  1. Have you attended Book Awards Galas, in the past? If so, what were your impressions of the evenings. With the COVID-19 situation putting a damper on our ceremony this year, is there something you think we should have done instead of simply announcing the winners in an online forum?

Answer: I’ve attended a number of Book Awards in various cities.  In 2005 I attended the Amazon First Novel Award ceremonies in Toronto when my novel, Sunday Afternoon, was one of the finalists.  It was an elaborate affair, with special guests and plenty of food and refreshments.  That year I also attended the Manitoba Book Awards because the same novel was nominated for both the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year.  It was held at the Hotel Fort Garry in one of the ballrooms, with all the accoutrements of a gala event.  I’ve attended the Manitoba Book Awards on other occasions, as well, including the year Brenda Sciberras, to whom I am married, won the Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book for her collection of poetry, Magpie Days.

This year’s nomination for the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction was great, but to say that Covid-19 put a damper on things is putting it mildly!  Nothing compares to a live in-person event.  Other than a couple of congratulatory emails, it was basically “crickets”.  There was some mention of interviews with the nominees that would be posted online, and I thought the local media might step in and do a bit more to promote the awards, but none of that materialized.

  1. How did you feel when you received the email announcing that you’d made the shortlist?

Answer: I was certainly happy to receive the nomination, but I didn’t anticipate it.  I’ve written other books that I thought might be nominated that got passed over, so I’ve learned not to get my hopes up.

  1. What more can we do to help you receive the accolades you deserve?

Answer: I think what you are doing now – interviewing me you about my experience, featuring me in your newsletter, and your plans to have me as the Featured Author at an upcoming virtual Book Chat are all terrific.  I really couldn’t ask for more.

  1. What else would you like to say about the experience?

Answer: When you’re nominated for an award, it’s certainly an affirmation, which can really be a boost.  But what about all those accomplished writers who never get to have that experience?  When I was writing Elizabeth of Bohemia, I reached a point where found myself in something of an existential crisis, and had to stop and think about what I was up to.  It was taking years of research and effort to write the book – with no contract, and no prospects that it would ever be published.  What if nothing came of it?!  After not writing for a while, I realized how much I missed Elizabeth.  And she missed me!  But what I missed most was the work, the process.  I decided let go of my expectation, my striving for “success”, and soon I was back at work.  It changed me as a writer.  I felt calmer after that, quieter.

Thanks, David, for the insight into your experience. I hope what we are doing will help you as a writer.

Also, congratulations on your upcoming virtual launch on October 20 through McNally Robinson Booksellers (https://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/event-18012/David-Elias-Online-Book-Launch#.X4dzu9BKjIU). Hope your new book, The Truth About The Barn does well.

Upcoming Virtual Program Line-up

Unless stated otherwise, most programs are for members only. If you’d like to attend any events, please consider joining the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. (see Membership section of website)

If interested in attending any of the virtual programs listed below, email the Guild for the links at manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com 

October Book Chat
with David Elias

Wednesday, October 14, 7 pm

David Elias has been a frequent Mentor for the Manitoba Writers Guild Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program, has worked as a creative writing instructor, editor, and writer-in-residence. He is the author of short stories, novels, poetry, and nonfiction.  His most recent title is a historical novel, Elizabeth of Bohemia: A Novel about Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen.  His first work of nonfiction, The Truth about the Barn: A Voyage of Discovery and Contemplation, by Great Plains Publications, will be launched virtually  on October 21, 2020, through McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Halloween Special
Open to the Public

Tuesday, October 27, 7 pm:

Join us to listen to the spooky readings of our line-up of writers:

Matthew Komus (Haunted Manitoba, Haunted Winnipeg and operator of Winnipeg Ghost Walks), Chris Rutkowski (science writer, educator and author of such books as Big Book of UFOs When They Appeared: Falcon Lake 1967) and L.V. Gaudet (author of dark fiction and member of the Manitoba Writers’ Guild, Horror Writers Association, and Authors of Manitoba, best known for her McAllister Series, Latchkey Kids (AKA Vivian Munnoch).

There will be a Q&A and Open Mic to follow. To get your free ticket, follow the link:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/halloween-special-book-chat-tickets-124471257883

 

November Book Chat
with Barbara Lange

Wednesday, November 18, 7 pm

Barbara grew up in a railway family in England. Her father was a conductor for British Railways. After Winnipeg became her new home, she married a Canadian National Railway employee from the Transcona Shops.
As she and husband Larry Lange travelled on Canada’s ribbons of steel, they heard many stories.  Barbara decided to help preserve a slice of Canada’s railway history. With the help of 30 other Canadian authors, she published her first book Through the Window of a Train: A Canadian Railway Anthology, (Borealis Press, 2010). Her interest in all things railway increased and she soon found herself working on a second book.  Memories of the Moonlight Special and Grand Beach Train Era (Borealis Press, 2018) captures the flavour of the first half of the 20th century, when trains transported people to beaches on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, and passengers felt part of one big family.

Kids Book Chat

Saturday, November 7, 2 pm:

Brett Huson – Hetxw’ms Gyetxw, also known as Brett D. Huson is from the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Growing up in this strong matrilineal society, Brett developed a passion for the culture, land, and politics of his people, and a desire to share their knowledge and stories. Brett has worked in the film and television industry and is a volunteer board member for such organizations as Ka Ni Kanichihk and Sakihiwe Festival. The Sockeye Mother (winner of The Science Writers and Communicators Book Award) was Brett’s first book for children. His current book, The Grizzly Mother won accolades at this year’s Manitoba Book Awards. This book is part of the series called Mothers of Xsan.

As Brett continues creating new art and working on new books, he is also working with the Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg. With the support of his wife, Jeri, and their children Warren and Ruby, Brett endeavours to continue sharing stories with an engaging look at how the animals, people, and seasons within an ecosystem are intertwined. To the Gitxsan people of Northwestern British Columbia, the grizzly is an integral part of the natural landscape. Together, they share the land and forests that the Skeena River runs through, as well as the sockeye salmon within it. Follow mother bear as she teaches her cubs what they need to survive on their own.

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Saturday, October 17, 11 am

Come see what the Manitoba Writers’ Guild has done for its members in the past year and what our plans are for the future. All are welcome to attend, but only Members who have joined or renewed 60 days prior to the meeting will have voting privileges. We will also be deciding on changes to the Governance Manual, particularly those clauses relating to pandemics, as well as the slate of Board Members, including two new people who have tossed their hats in the ring. If you wish to be involved in Board &/or Committee matters, please email us your resume and reason(s) why you want to become a Board or Committee member.

Halloween Writing Contest

Halloween is right around the corner and, with Covid still rampant in our society, we figured we should bring you something fun to take your mind off of it, so how about a short story contest?

We’re asking for stories about Halloween, be they the traditional stories about monsters and horror that’s common around this time of year, or stories about celebrating Halloween in other parts of the world.

Feel free to send your stories to the Manitoba Writers’ Guild email address below. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Submission Guidelines

  • Short story must be 5000 words max.
  • On each page, please include page numbers in the upper right corner of your document with the story title in the header.
  • Please include a separate cover letter that includes your name, home and email addresses, telephone number, story title and word count. Please specify whether you are a Guild member, non-member, or member of another writing organization inside or outside of Manitoba.
  • We are only accepting email submissions for this contest. Please make sure the file is sent as a PDF or Word document.
  • Send submissions to manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com

Deadline: November 6th, 2020
Prize: $100 McNally Robinson Gift Card
Your story published in our newsletter

State of the Market

November 2020, Date/Time TBA:  Ever wonder about local publishers and what they’re all about? Now’s your chance to find out. This new initiative will host a panel of publishers from Manitoba who will discuss publishing trends and what to expect from the field in the future. If you ever wanted the chance to learn about the local publishing scene, now is your chance. We hope to host these events quarterly.

How to Create a Docudrama
with Sharon Hamilton

– February 2021, Date/Time TBA:

Bring your story to life by developing your writing craft through DOCUDRAMA. Create a finished piece of publishable or performable writing in six 3-hour sessions that includes:

  • A tightly-plotted exploration of an issue, concern, or question that interests you
  • Realistic and engaging dialogue
  • Authoritative knowledge or research that informs but does not overwhelm
  • Collaborative and independent work.

Workshops are designed for small groups of 2-4 people working together. However, they can also accommodate those who prefer to work independently.

YOUR COURSE LEADER: Dr. Sharon Hamilton, Professor of English (Emerita), has enjoyed a lifetime of writing, drama, and teaching. In addition to her published memoir and over a hundred professional articles and book chapters, she is working on her fifth novel and has written two plays, performed in Winnipeg, Indianapolis, and Texas.

She developed a senior level docudrama course at Indiana University and has adapted it as a six-session workshop for the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. She created a docudrama for the 2019 launch of her fourth novel, Manitoba MAID, at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

 

 

 

AGM 2020

Save the date: Saturday, October 17, 2020 at 11 a.m.

We will be holding this year’s AGM virtually, for obvious reasons. To attend, please email the office (maitobawritersguild3@gmail.com) to receive instructions.

Sorry, unlike previous years, we can not offer refreshments other than what you have at home!

Members who joined or renewed their memberships before August 17, 2020 will be allowed voting privileges.

Looking to be a part of a great writing community?

Photo by Green Chameleon

The Manitoba Writers’ Guild is looking for great people to be a part of our Volunteer Board or one of our active committees.

Please send your letter of intent with resume and area of interest to Kelly Ross at klross3568@gmail.com

 

Northern Writers

Over the last few years, Goldrock Press (https://goldrockpress.com/ ) has published some wonderful books by Northern Manitoba writers, with an emphasis on Indigenous writers. The publishing house is owned by Dorene Meyer,  who was featured in a previous MWG newsletter.

This year, one of their more recent titles made it to the shortlist at the Manitoba Book Awards: Entawi Kiskinomakawiyan by Pauline Apetagon. I want to introduce you to Pauline and some of her fellow writers from northern communities.

Pauline Apetagon is a Cree and Nursery teacher at Jack River School in Norway House Cree Nation, Manitoba. Pauline has two children and two beautiful grandchildren. She was married to the late Byron Apetagon, a renowned artist and storyteller.

Pauline believes that the Cree language needs to be preserved. She is the author of Niwanawin, a Cree language book also designed for young children.

Nikiwan – “I go home” – introduces children, ages 5-7, to basic Cree words associated with their home. These include words such as mother, father, pets, bed, plate, and spoon. Vivid photos depict real objects for easy identification. Nikiwan is a valuable instructional tool for Cree language teachers and parents who would like to help their children learn the Cree language.

Entawi Kiskinomakawiyan – “I Go to School” – introduces children, ages 5-7, to basic Cree words associated with school. These include words such as classroom and library, teacher and principal, book and pencil, and also eight primary colors. Vivid photos depict real objects for easy identification. Entawi Kiskinomakawiyan is a valuable instructional tool for Cree language teachers and parents who would like to help their children learn the Cree language. It was shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award – Younger Category in 2020.

Another prolific author from the north is Brenda Fontaine, who has written articles and poems published in North Roots magazine, First Nations Voice, Urban NDN, Maranatha News, First Nations Christian Writers and all six of the Northern Writers anthology series.

Brenda has also written a contemporary novel entitled Tyranny in Our Times, three children’s books in her Babs’ Adventures series (Stranger at the Creek, Storm on the Lake, and Christmas on the Trapline) books which tell the story of a young girl growing up in a Cree community in the 1950’s, and most recently, a Cree book about winter titled Pipon.

Pipon – “It is winter” – introduces children, ages 5-7, to basic Cree phrases about winter including the weather, winter sports and activities, and other delights of the season. Vivid photos depict real objects for easy identification. Pipon is a valuable instructional tool for Cree language teachers, and parents who would like to help their children learn the Cree language.

 

ANN-MARGARET DAY-OSBORNE is a Cree language teacher. She was born and raised in Norway House, MB. Her mother, Mary Margaret Osborne, is a resident elder at the University of Winnipeg, and her father, the late Riley Osborne, was an Aboriginal artist. While growing up in Norway House, Ann-Margaret learned about traditions, music, storytelling, and influences that would help her become who she is today. Altogether, she would use her knowledge and memories to help teach children, and those who would listen, the lessons that she was taught. Ann-Margaret has previously published Akihtásowina (a children’s picture book), and Pisiskowak (Cree Language Resource Cards in Instructor/Student sets).

Tânisi êspitaman ininîmowin ᑖᓂᓯ   ᐁᓰᐢᐱᑕᒪᐣ   ᐃᓂᓃᒧᐏᐣ “How you pronounce Cree” introduces children, ages 3-5, to the Cree alphabet written in Cree (Roman orthography), Cree Syllabics, and English. Vivid photos depict real objects for easy identification. Tânisi êspitaman ininîmowin is a valuable instructional tool for Cree language teachers and parents who would like to help their children learn the Cree language.

About the publisher, Goldrock Press

They are a small company located in northern Manitoba, that publishes and promotes northern writers, with an emphasis on Indigenous writers. Their books are all of the best quality, printed in Canada by Art Bookbindery, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Most of their books are in English but some are in Cree or Ojibwa, and some also contain syllabics.

They Love Schools and Libraries!

For more information, contact info@goldrockpress.com.

Kids Book Chat #3 with Larry Verstraete

*Please note: Our Kids Book Chats have moved to Saturdays, now that school is back in session. The next one will be held October 3, at 1 pm. For this virtual event only we offer it free for ANYONE and their children.

Email the Guild manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com to ask for the Zoom instructions.

October’s Featured Author is Larry Verstraete.

Biography:

Writer and educator Larry Verstraete has always lived in Winnipeg. A former middle grade teacher with a background in science and a penchant for stories, he began writing for youngsters while still teaching.  For his first books, he dipped into a familiar subject to share stories about discoveries, inventions and daring scientific exploits.  Later, Larry widened his scope by writing true adventure stories and, more recently, middle grade novels.

Larry’s seventeen books have been on recommended reading lists and many have received honours. The most recent novel, Coop the Great, was voted MYRCA’s 2020 Honor Book by youngsters in the Sundog group. He is a two-time winner of the McNally Robinson Book of the Year for Young People Award (for S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet & Lost Treasures: True Stories of Discovery). Larry is also a two-time winner of the Silver Birch Award for Non-fiction (for At the Edge: Daring Acts in Desperate Times & Survivors:True Death-Defying Escapes). Honours for other books range from nominations for the Norma Fleck Award (Accidental Discoveries) and the New York Reading Association Charlotte Award (Surviving the Hindenburg) to designations such as Outstanding Science Trade Book of 2011 by the National Science Teachers Association and Children’s Book Council (S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet).

Larry has presented at conferences and festivals including Calgary’s Wordfest, Winnipeg’s International Children’s Festival, Thin Air, Winnipeg’s International Writers Festival, and to literacy groups like the Winnipeg Children’s Literature Round Table and Manitoba School Library Association. As well, he has toured several times with TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and in connection with B.C.’s Red Cedar, Ontario’s Silver Birch, the Maritime’s Hackmatack Children’s Choice Award, and the Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award.

Between writing pursuits, Larry indulges in other favourite pastimes especially traveling and hiking with his wife, Jo, and spending time with his children and grandchildren.

You can find more about Larry and his books on his website  www.larryverstraete.com

Publications:

  • Coop the Great (Great Plains Publications, 2018)
  • ‘Dinosaurs’ of the Deep: Discover Prehistoric Marine Life (Turnstone Press, 2016)
  • Innovations in Everyday Technologies (Crabtree Publishing, 2016)
  • Innovations in Transportation. (Crabtree Publishing, 2016)
  • Missing in Paradise (Rebelight Publishing, 2014)
  • Life or Death: Surviving the Impossible (Scholastic Canada, 2014)
  • Surviving the Hindenburg. Illustrated by David Geister (Sleeping Bear Press, 2012)
  • Case Files: 40 Murders and Mysteries Solved by Science (Scholastic Canada, 2011)
  • S is for Scientists: A Discovery Alphabet. Illustrated by David Geister. (Sleeping Bear Press, 2010)
  • At the Edge: Daring Acts in Desperate Time. (Scholastic Canada, 2009)
  • G is for Golden Boy: A Manitoba Alphabet. Illustrated by Brian Lund. (Sleeping Bear Press, 2009)
  • Lost Treasures: 25 True Stories of Discovery (Scholastic Canada, 2006)
  • Survivors: True Death-Defying Escape. (Scholastic Canada, 2003)
  • Extreme Science (Scholastic Canada, 2000)
  • Accidental Discoveries: From Laughing Gas to Dynamite (Scholastic Canada,
  • Whose Bright Idea Was It? (Scholastic Canada,1997)
  • Mysteries of Time (Scholastic Canada, 1992)
  • The Serendipity Effect (Scholastic Canada, 1988)

Insider view of the Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program – part 2

With the Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program about to call for submissions for another year (starting in September with the deadline being November 30, 2020), we thought you should hear from the Mentor who helped Joy this past spring. Not only has he been a Mentor for the SOMP, but has also been an apprentice, so he is able to give some insight from both sides. Let me introduce Keith Cadieux:

As an apprentice: In my early experiences as a writer, the Sheldon Oberman Mentorship was perhaps the largest single influence which taught me that I could take writing seriously and that it was worth pursuing. My mentor was Jonathan Ball, a writer with whom I am still friends. We continue to share work back and forth, many years after the program. The long-term one-on-one interaction that the SOMP provides is an incredibly valuable experience. It allows the apprentice to see how the advice and lessons from the mentor are shaping their writing. Spending months on a single project with a mentor allows for tremendous progress, both for the project itself but also the career trajectory of new writers. The SOMP is a once in a lifetime experience that I wish I could have again.

As a mentor: I’ve been lucky enough to be chosen as a mentor several times now for the SOMP. What always surprises me is how much I get out of the experience and how much my own writing motivation increases while working with new writers. The selection committee has an uncanny talent of pairing mentors and apprentices. Though sometimes, on the surface, it would appear that our writing styles or subject matter are at odds, the apprentices with whom I’ve been paired have always been wonderful people and our work ideas have complemented each other in exciting ways. The SOMP is an experience that I’m glad to return to, as many times as they’ll have me.

Thanks, Keith, for sharing your thoughts on your experiences with the Sheldon Oberman Mentorship Program!