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 [...]

Maritime Disaster: May 3, 1945

  I remember one evening when I was a teenager, although the exact occasion escapes me now, sitting around the dining room table with my family. We fell silent when my father’s voice filled the space, as he drifted into memory and then into story, as he was apt to do. He recalled a day from long ago and I wondered what had dredged up such a terrifying tale. I could see the pain on his face, hear the tremor in his voice, feel the tension in the air. My mother remained silent, her eyes cast Read more [...]

The Story of a Photograph

Last week, as I was getting ready to go to work I was listening, as usual, to Markus Schwabe on CBC Morning North, when I was struck by one of the topics of the day. Vale’s recent decision to take down the Superstack, Sudbury’s iconic landmark, reminded me of a treasured photograph of my father sitting atop the completed chimney. So, later that day I shared the picture through Facebook. The result of that quick and simple action led to a radio interview on CBC, an interview with my dad with Read more [...]

From Self to Traditional Publishing

  Around this time two years ago, I began the process of self-publishing the manuscript I’d spent the better part of three years working on. At the time, my father’s health was failing and I was driven by a need to complete the work we’d started together. By the following March, my father’s health had improved and we had a book. Nothing could have pleased me more than placing his story into his hands. That spring, a new local publisher started their business with the focus 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 [...]

Quick and Slow Writing

When I’m teaching writing to my high school students, I often have them start with quick writes. I give them a prompt, an object, a visual or a video and a short space of time to create a response, a poem, a scene, or a story. I remind them to keep the pen on the page or fingers on the keyboard, silence their inner critic, and ignore errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation (we’ll fix that later). Instead, we focus on letting our ideas flow. It’s a great way to jumpstart the creative Read more [...]