Danie Botha

Danie Botha was born in Zambia and completer his school education and medical training in South Africa. He has called Canada home for the past 22 years and is still learning to speak proper Canadian. (It’s similar to English.) He has published three novels, a novella and a poetry collection. If he’s not working at the hospital or busy writing, ha can be found cycling, land paddling, and cross-country skiing in winter (if it’s not too bitterly cold).

Summary of Publications

Be Silent – novel, 2016
Be Good – novella, 2016
Maxime – novel, 2017
An Unfamiliar Kindness – novel, 2018
Two Bowls of Joy – poetry collection, 2019
Chicken Soup for the SoulAge is just a number, 2020

Social Media Sites

https://daniebothawriter.com
https://www.linkedin.com/in/danie-botha-writer-166ab1ab/
https://www.instagram.com/daniebothawriter/

Bob Chrismas

Bob Chrismas, PhD, has written prolifically on justice issues, and recently trying his hand at fiction writing. Bob is a Staff Sergeant in his 31st year with the Winnipeg Police Service. He completed his Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the U. of Winnipeg and U. of Manitoba in 2009 (distinction) and Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Peace and Conflict Studies at the U. of Manitoba in 2017. Bob was awarded the University of Manitoba Distinguished Dissertation Award for my doctoral research on modern-day slavery in Canada’s criminal sex industry. Bob is married with four kids.

Bob publications include numerous peer-reviewed book chapters, journal and magazine articles and books on justice related topics. His first book Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes (McGill-Queens University Press, 2013), is a widely used text on modern policing. Bob’s newest book, Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada’s Youth (University of Toronto Press, 2020), provides a gut-wrenching account of sex trafficking in Canada and many tangible strategies and solutions. Bob has also co-edited collected editions including Our Shared Future: Windows into Canada’s Reconciliation Journey (Lexington, Rowman and Littlefield, 2020), and is currently working with a colleague on Hope Dignity and Human Rights (in progress, University of Manitoba Press).

Bob’s newest project is a literary fiction novel about a missing person case, giving deep insights into sex trafficking and Indigenous-police relations in Canada. Learn more about Bob and his publications and speaking events at his webpage at bchrismas.com.

Book publications:

Chrismas, R. (2020). Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada’s YouthToronto, ON, Canada:   University of   Toronto Press. https://utorontopress.com/us/sex-industry-slavery-2

Reimer, L. & R. Chrismas. (2020). Our Shared Future: Windows into Canada’s Reconciliation Journey. New York: Lexington, Rowman & Littlefield. https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793603470/Our-Shared-Future-Windows-into-Canada’s-Reconciliation-Journey

Chrismas, R. (2013/14). Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes. Montreal, Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press. https://www.mqup.ca/canadian-policing-in-the-21st-century-products-9780773542747.php

I gratefully acknowledge that I live on Treaty 1 territory which is the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Bob Chrismas is married with four adult children, and completed over 35 years in law enforcement service, all within Manitoba. He completed his Master of Public Administration jointly at the University of Winnipeg and U of Manitoba in 2009 (with distinction), and his doctorate in peace and conflict studies at the University of Manitoba in 2017. Bob was awarded the University of Manitoba Distinguished Dissertation Award for his doctoral research on modern-day slavery in Canada’s criminal sex industry. Bob has written prolifically on social justice and policing related issues. His publications include numerous peer-reviewed journal and magazine articles and news op. eds. His first book Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes, was published with McGill-Queens University Press in 2013 and is a widely used text on modern policing. His most recent book, Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada’s Youth, was just released in November 2020 by the University of Toronto Press. It is based on Bob’s dissertation and aims to raise awareness and bring tangible solutions to modern-day slavery, exploitation and trafficking in the sex industry. Bob has also co-edited editions, including Our Shared Future: Windows Into Canada’s Reconciliation Journey (Lexington Books, Rowman and Littlefield, 2020) and Hope Dignity and Human Rights: Research from the Mauro Institute (in progress, University of Manitoba Press). Bob is also an avid blogger on social justice issues. Visit Bob and learn more about his publications at bchrismas.com.

Susan Nicol

Susan Nicol has been a professional writer since she graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications (CreComm) program mentioned in her first novel, Sagas & Sea Smoke. After launching her career as a scriptwriter and production assistant for a syndicated TV show, she became one of the first women sportswriters to cover the WHA and NHL. After five years in radio as a copywriter and assistant producer, she became an ad agency creative director and marketing strategist for a couple of decades. In between, Susan scripted TV documentaries, wrote magazine features, and penned speeches for Canadian cabinet ministers. Then she returned for a year to RRC’s CreComm program to teach advertising and marketing. Now she has revived her first passion, storytelling, with a well-intentioned purpose: to intrigue, inform, and inspire.

New virtual workshops

Save the Dates for…
…a new and exciting series of virtual workshops presented by the

World Building – May 15, 2021 at 2 pm
Creating Compelling Characters – June 19, 2021 at 2 pm
Copyright Law/Publishing Contracts – July 17, 2021 at 2 pm

 

With Den Valdron, a speculative fiction writer, pop-culture essayist and aboriginal rights lawyer, living and working in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As a writer, his short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies in North America, Britain, Australia and Russia.  He has several collections of speculative fiction and horror stories and novels. He’s also published extensive nonfiction about Canadian Sci Fi – LEXX and Starlost, Cult television and movies, including Doctor Who, and topics as diverse as writing, publishing, self publishing, 1930’s pulps, Lovecraft, Burroughs, Godzilla and nerd culture. His website and blog are at denvaldron.com.

MWG Members receive a discount on workshop fees.

If you are interested in these writing topics and want to join us,
please email the Manitoba Writers’ Guild at
manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com
for more information.

International Women’s Day 2021

I was recently reminded that March 8th, 2021 is International Women’s Day. I checked the website and found that this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. According to them, “A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.” They are requesting people to send in images of themselves with a hand up high to their #ChooseToChallenge  site at: http://www.internationalwomensday.com

This made me reflect on all the awesome women writers in Manitoba and specifically those who belong to the Manitoba Writers’ Guild. I went over our membership list and found almost 75% of our members identify as female. Half of our Board of Directors are female. In the past year, almost 72% of our members, who were featured in our newsletter and in our Book Chats, have been women. These statistics make me proud to be a member of the Guild. Please take the time to tell the women in your life that they are loved and appreciated.

Gaylene Dutchyshen Interview

Last fall, the Manitoba Writers’ Guild held a writing contest with the theme of Halloween. Our winner was Gaylene Dutchyshen. Her bio and winning story were featured in one of our recent newsletters. She will be our guest at next month’s Book Chat, March 10, 2021 at 7 pm, if you would like to hear her read her from her work. Email the Guild (manitobawritersguild3@gmail.com) to receive the Zoom instructions.

In addition to publishing her story and bio, we arranged for her to be interviewed by Danielle Somack. Here is an introduction to Danielle,  Gaylene and their interview:

My name is Danielle Somack and I’m an emerging writer and high school student residing in rural Manitoba. As a mentee of Creative Manitoba’s 2020-21 Rural Youth Mentorship program, I started to explore writing from different angles and perspectives. My mentor, Anita Daher, has given me the opportunity to meet many amazing and talented local authors at the monthly Book Jam we cohost together on Zoom. I am very keen on expanding my skills and learning about other writer’s creative pursuits and the stories that move them, whether through a conversation or by interviewing Manitoba authors with the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.
– Danielle

Gaylene Dutchyshen loves a good mystery. Born in Dauphin and raised in Gilbert Plains, Manitoba, Gaylene takes inspiration from the solitude of the prairies and her fascination with the inner workings of the mind to create compelling characters with hidden pasts and family secrets.

Before publishing her first novel, A Strange Kind of Comfort, in 2020, Gaylene had written a short story for a University of Manitoba creative writing course in 2008, titled Dream Job, a haunting, gothic tale that recently won her first place in the Manitoba Writer’s Guild Halloween Short Story Contest.

 

Danielle Somack: What do you want readers to take away from Dream Job?

Gaylene Dutchyshen: I wanted to portray the power of the mind and show how what we think/feel/experience during the day is expressed in our dreams. The two main characters are drawn to each other by a mutual experience, night terrors, and I wanted the reader to identify and sympathize with each of them. Cate’s mother is aloof and Jamie senses that Cate is neglected. Jamie’s father is judgmental and Jamie’s night terrors recur when she is stressed. Sam Talbot is a “villain” only in Jamie’s and Cate’s imaginations, yet they are compelled to silence him. I wanted to create a sense of danger in a place where patients should feel protected and safe. In protecting Cate from a perceived danger, Jamie acts on her unconscious fears with unintended consequences for Sam. Instead of a vampire (supernatural) or serial killer, I wanted to create unease in my readers by fashioning killers that would be perceived as harmless. If a reader is left unsettled by the end of the story, then I achieved what I set out to do.

DS: What is the inspiration behind your story?

GD: I actually wrote the story in 2008 when I was taking an Advanced Creative writing course at the U of M. At the start of the first semester, we were writing our short stories anonymously so, to disguise myself, I wrote each story in a different voice/genre. Dream Job was my horror/gothic tale. A few weeks before I wrote this story, I had a sleep study at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, and it struck me as a creepy experience. I arrived after dark, parked in a nearly empty parking garage. It was quiet and nearly deserted on the floor where I was hooked up with cords. I knew I would be watched and monitored as I slept. It made me wonder about the sleep technician and her job and what she thought about all night as she watches people sleep. She’s always on a night shift, having to stay mostly silent while she works, with very little interaction with the sleep study patients or her co-workers. The patients are completely vulnerable. It seemed a good premise and setting for a spooky story.

DS: You mentioned in your bio that you’re a bit of a bookworm. What do you look for in a good book?

GD: I like books about families and secrets; which is why I write such novels myself. I like knowing what makes a character “tick”, so I tend to like stories where the main character’s childhood is revealed, and we learn what shaped them. Characters must be compelling and multi-faceted. I also prefer books where I “see” physical details. A truly beautiful description or metaphor always pulls me into the author’s world. Suspense keeps me turning the pages, even if it’s a novel about ordinary people in everyday situations.

DS: You also mentioned that you love to travel with your husband Wayne (in non-COVID times). How have these travels influenced your writing?

GD: So far, I’ve been drawn to write about the Manitoba rural community. It is the prairies and the people who populate small rural towns that I know best. Travel does broaden one’s perspective, though. Seeing other cultures and different styles of living expands the mind and creates curiosity about and empathy for others, which is important for a writer. I’d like to include a European destination in my writing one day.

DS: When you’re not writing, what do you spend your time doing?

GD: I am still actively involved in our farm operation, so I’m busier in the spring, summer and autumn. I am the farm accountant and operate a combine during the harvest season. Besides traveling, I love gardening and have designed two beautiful flower gardens with ponds and waterfalls on the properties where we’ve lived. I’m a visual person, which is reflected in my writing, and it’s my passion to create beauty in my surroundings. I like biking and we enjoyed exploring more of Manitoba this summer. Like every grandmother, I cherish time with our grandchildren. Our 8- and 10-year old grandkids and I had a blast making a movie—Covid Catastrophe starring Superkids vs the Coronavirus—this spring when school was out (they wrote the script, found the costumes, designed the credits, etc) so creative activities are also on the list of things to do at our house.

Thanks to both Danielle and Gaylene for their insight into a writer’s life. There is still time to send in submissions to our Bloody Valentine writing contest (deadline: February 19th, 2021). Check out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/manitobawritersguild) for details.

 

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.

Attention all writers!

Manitoba Winnipeg Writer's Guild Association

Winnipeg’s finest writers festival, Thin Air, is happening now until October 12, 2020. The events are virtual, for obvious reasons, but they have a huge line-up of writers from across Canada, including a few French authors, who will talk about the craft of writing, give workshops and present their books, so please check out their events by clicking on Thin Air.

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!