Category Archives: Non-fiction

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 [...]

Reflections on a Memorable Year

A year ago, last December, I decided to pull my manuscript from the small presses I had approached earlier that spring and self-publish my father’s memoir.  Looking back, it was a decision I made because of concern for my father’s health and a desire to share his story with others while he could still participate. In fact, at the end of January, my father was hospitalized after my mother found him splayed out on their frozen driveway.  Within a few days of hospitalization, the colour returned Read more [...]

Travel to Write

The more I write, the more I want to travel. The more I travel, the more I must write. Writing my family memoir brought me to many unexpected places: the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.; the port town of Gdansk, Poland; Stutthof concentration camp in Sztutowo, Poland; the bay of Lűbeck, Germany. I tasted the salt of the sea air, felt the fine sand between my toes, heard the squawking of sea birds, and breathed in the scent of pine forests. Of course, historical documents, old Read more [...]

The Universe Conspires

Paulo Coelho wrote, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I always liked this idea, but I didn’t really know how it could be possible.  The whole universe? Conspiring? Really?  A month has passed since I launched my family memoir about my father’s experiences as a young Finnish sailor in a Nazi concentration camp.  Before its release on March 19, two months ago, I blogged about the process of self-publishing and all of those things I Read more [...]

My Little Book Goes to Washington

I had a full-circle moment a few days ago when I entered the industrial steel-encased elevator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  A fellow teacher and I had travelled to Washington, D.C. on a school trip with a group of twenty-four grade twelve English and Literature Studies students who were eager to explore the museum for the first time. It was our first stop. This was my third visit to the USHMM, but I was no less excited. Tucked into the pocket of my travel purse I had a copy Read more [...]

How My Book Almost Didn’t Happen

The following is a version of my talk at the book launch for The Day Soon Dawns on Sunday, April 19 at Parkside Centre. I thought I’d tell you a little about how the book came to be . . . or rather how it almost didn’t happen. I was about fifteen, my daughter’s age, when I learned about World War II in history class at Lo-Ellen. Even then, I knew my father had stories, but I couldn’t really make sense of them. He didn’t say too much, and I was afraid to ask. Even then, I vowed to Read more [...]

One Journey Ends and Another Begins

Spring has finally arrived, although it is difficult to tell as a layer of fine icing sugar snow fills the air and clusters on the deck outside my patio doors.  It has been a whirlwind of a week now that my book is finally published. Appropriately, I think, the official publication date was on the last day of winter.  I started self-publishing at the beginning of December and what a journey it has been!  Like waiting for spring, it took several weeks longer and was more blustery than I initially 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 [...]