Category Archives: Uncategorized

Into My Father’s Hands

After years of working on a manuscript, I imagine that most authors strive to get noticed by a publisher and land that first book deal, but publication was not my original intention. Since I was a teenager, I knew my father had an extraordinary story and I’d wanted to write it, but I worried that asking him about his life during the war would dredge up all too painful memories. Twenty-five years later, driven by fears of escaping time, diminishing memories, and increasing health concerns, we decided Read more [...]

Lessons From My Father: Lesson #2

Lyrics keep floating through my head lately, reminding me that time is like a well-loved play. You don’t want it to end, but you know the curtain will eventually fall. How does that song go again? Oh yeah. “When you only got a hundred years to live.” My father turned eighty-eight last June and I turned forty-four a few months earlier. Although I’m no mathematician, something about numbers and patterns has always fascinated me, so the fact that I’m almost exactly half my father’s age Read more [...]

Lessons From My Father: Lesson #1

Last week I spoke to a group of mostly seniors, residents of Finlandia Village, for Reading Town. Coincidentally, it was the day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and only a few days after the seventy-first anniversary of my father’s liberation from Stutthof Concentration Camp. In the days before the talk, I thought about what I would focus on. Sometimes at these events I discuss the method of interviewing my father, the process of writing and rewriting, the stumbling blocks and challenges Read more [...]

Farewell, Reading Town

Reading Town Ville Lecture wraps up this weekend in Sudbury. It was such an exciting week filled with opportunities to engage with readers and writers that it was impossible to be everywhere at once. If you haven’t heard of Reading Town, let me give you a few details. It’s a week long event organized by the National Reading Campaign to promote reading, books and authors. As a reading promoter in both my roles as a writer and teacher, I was thrilled to hear that my hometown was hosting this Read more [...]

Dusting Off the Cobwebs

Looking back at some of my old posts I realize that much of my thinking is connected to the changing seasons. Am I so influenced by the barometer, temperature, and precipitation? Does it really matter whether the colour scheme outside my sliding door is shades of white or tints of green? Apparently, I am and it does. I don’t think I’m alone, either. Many of us get a sudden urge in the spring to clean and sweep every nook and cranny of our homes or ravage our closets to rid ourselves of Read more [...]

Interview with Renny deGroot

Renny deGroot is a first generation Canadian of Dutch parents. She is a published poet and song lyricist, with Family Business being her first novel. She studied English Literature at Trent University. Her strong Dutch roots continue to influence her while the love of her Canadian homeland with its beauty and freedom, flavours all that she does. Tell us a little about your first novel, Family Business. It’s a story about a young man who struggles to learn the meaning of freedom amidst family Read more [...]

Five Effective Ways to Procrastinate

For writers, but feel free to adapt. Locate your favourite pen. It should fit perfectly in your fingers with just the right weight and glide smoothly across the page. Crack open the spine of that new, beautifully decorated notebook you purchased weeks ago, but that so far has remained in pristine condition. Soak in the new-page scent. Position yourself comfortably on a chair, preferably with an oversized feather pillow on your lap and feet resting on a coffee table or ottoman. Rest your Read more [...]

A Community of Writers

It’s been a long winter. Record low temperatures in Northern Ontario gripped us early and just wouldn’t let go. Biting cold days followed by dark nights left me huddled inside seeking warmth.  Despite my good intentions and a fairly well-established routine, extended illness, family issues, and the pressures of work smothered my writing goals like the thick layer of snow covering my summer garden. I was having trouble shovelling past all of the excuses to just sit down and write. Last week, Read more [...]

We Are Our Stories

In the last six weeks or so I’ve been reminded about the importance of our individual and family stories, of recording and sharing them with our family members and friends. I count myself among the lucky who can still ask the questions, find answers, and delve deeper into my family’s past. Since December I have attended two funerals. Both individuals were parents and grandparents, dearly loved by their respective family members, friends and colleagues. Both died too young, as though there Read more [...]

Start Writing a Family Memoir

You’ve heard it before: everyone has a story.  I believe it’s true.  Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to share their past with family members or is willing to write their memories down for future generations.  What a lost opportunity.  A family memoir is a chance to capture a moment in history that is both important to an individual, his or her family members, and often others outside the family circle. It only requires a storyteller and a willing listener. What makes a family Read more [...]