Prelude to Canada Reads.

Prelude to Canada Reads.
Victoriaville March 24

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Yes! Ma-nee Chacaby's memoir A Two Spirit Journey on short list for Lambda Prize.

Lambda Literary Awards (also known as the "Lammys") are awarded yearly by the US-based Lambda Literary Foundation to published works which celebrate or explore LGBT themes. Categories include Humor, Romance and Biography. To qualify, a book must have been published in the United States in the year current to the award. The Lambda Literary Foundation states that its mission is "to celebrate LGBT literature and provide resources for writers, readers, booksellers, publishers, and librarians - the whole literary community."[1] The awards were instituted in 1988 - Wikipedia
Many Canadian nominees this year and listed here. 
  • Lesbian fiction category: Tears in the Grass by Lynda A. Archer 
  • Lesbian memoir/biography category: A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby
  • Transgender fiction category: Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl's Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom and Small Beauty by jia qing-wilson
  • LGBTQ Children's/Young Adult category: Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard 
  • Transgender nonfiction category: You Only Live Twice: Sex, Death and Transition by Chase Joynt and Mike Hoolboom
  • Transgender poetry category: even this page is white by Vivek Shraya
  • Lesbian mystery category: Under Contract by Jessica L. Webb
  • LGBTQ SF/F/Horror category: The Devourers by Indra Das and Kissing Booth Girl by A.C. Wise
  • LGBTQ graphic novels category: The Case of Alan Turing by French authors Arnaud Delalande and Eric Liberge, translated by David Homel 
  • LGBTQ anthology category: The Remedy by Zena Sharman and Building Fires in the Snow: A Collection of Alaska LGBTQ Short Fiction and Poetry edited by U.S. scholar Martha Amore and Lucian Childs
  • LGBTQ drama category: Freda and Jem's Best of the Week by Lois Fine
See all the finalists at the Lambda Literary Awards website.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Francophones! A contest for you!

AFNOO (Association des francophones du Nord-Ouest de l’Ontario) recently launched a French writing competition open to the residents of the Northwestern Ontario region:
For all details and rules of this contest please visit evenements/concours150
The deadline for submissions is April 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm EST.
Whistler Independent Book Awards (March 1 to April 30 submissions)
''Once upon a time in Northwestern Ontario...''
This writing contest is to promote the unique history of the Northwestern Ontario region and celebrate the 150th anniversary of Ontario. The competition is open to every resident of the Kenora, Rainy River, and Thunder Bay districts. Texts should be between 1000 and 1500 words and involve noticeable landmarks, historical events or characters from the region's past.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Rough notes from a Richard Wagamese Workshop. Thunder Bay. May 9, 2015

Richard Wagamese – workshop, Saturday, May 9, 2015 – rough notes.

Held at MJB library, with about 30 participants

Wagamese said he read a lot and copied copiously from the books whenever he found a section he liked. He copied into a big notebook by hand. He tried to find out the titles of good books and took down the names in a small spiral notebook that he carried everywhere. He stayed up late copying.

He has no degree in writing and never attended a writing course. He did not finish high school. A homeless youth, he found the public library a blessing where he could read at a carrel and was never disturbed. He went every day to read and copy. He could not take the books out because he had no library card.

"To write – go to the energy." He compares the spontaneity of children, their energy and their “guess what happened” and the key word, the answer, “what?” When you say “what” you are agreeing to a story. Children pour the tale out unselfconsciously, usually in one long sentence with and, so and but to keep the thing going. “What” is the magic word, the key to the story.

The child just strings words together. She can’t stop talking. The child ponders, wonders, questions.

Wagamese works with oral stories. He never rewrites. The oral gets you away from the concept of failing, bad negative thoughts about writing, judgment rules.

"You have to be out of your head to be a writer, that is out of the judging brain. You must go by heart and emotion." He has his students do oral story telling for two days. 

At this point, we did a exercise by writing down ten words and making sentences of out neighbours first three. Then the first five. We also took a key word, circled it and crated other words radiating from it like a sun. Then made a sentence using all the words.

“As soon as you stop and think, stop. Writing should not be a struggle.”

 Wagamese writes four or five hours in the morning but if he stops to think he stops. He goes to another activity such as breathing, stretching. Later he fixes the stuff up but he may decide to leave it alone. Later, taking these ideas and blowing them up gives you a feeling of energy. He makes word maps (see sun above).

He is insistent that the more you practice the better you become at attaining this spontaneity. He seldom revises. You want your language to be unfiltered, open and flowing. “Open the lens of understanding. See life with a wide child-like lens.”

If he has an idea for a novel he tells the story by speaking it out loud to his dog on walks. He does this for 6 weeks, over and over. As he is speaking, his logical brain is organizing, his abstract brain is creating and his psychological brain is pushing the enemy (self doubt) out.

He believes story telling is spiritual. Speaking out loud is better than silent thought. He discovered the title, Quality of Light, by speaking out loud on a walk when he saw mist on the river. Through oral story telling we can write without struggle.

He believes we all come from an oral tradition. He says once we all sat around a fire and listened to stories. We are geared to out loud. We are geared to story telling. Every time we ask a question, we are asking for a story.

When he is writing his characters take over. They start to dictate the story.  

Tell your story of bad things that happened. He wrote about being homeless in Miami and later he remembers that Muhammad Ali gave him a meal. Patted him on the head. He was fifteen but before he wrote that down he had just remembered his sad plight and had forgotten the boxer. So write the sad things and look for the light.

When you tell a story, certain steps occur. 1. Telling– the energy of telling sparks 2. listening gives it energy. 3. hearing which is different than listening because it has emotional, mental, spiritual or physical reactions connected to it and so in turn 4. You are incorporating the story which gives energy to 5. Tell it again to someone you know and so a circle from tell to tell.

Richard Wagamese, author of Indian Horse, dead at 61

Award-winning author and journalist Richard Wagamese, an Ojibway from the Wabaseemoong First Nation in northwestern Ontario whose work was deeply influenced by Indigenous experiences in Canada's residential school system, has died.
Wagamese, 61, called himself a second-generation survivor of the government-sponsored schools, attended by his parents and extended family members.
In many of his 13 titles from major Canadian publishers, he drew from his own struggle with family dysfunction that he attributed to the isolating church-run schools.
One of his many novels, Indian Horse, was a finalist in CBC's Canada Reads in 2013, bringing it to wider attention. It also was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award.
It tells the story of the intergenerational trauma that played out in the lives of those who attended residential schools in the 1960s and '70s. It's the story of Saul Indian Horse, a boy who finds release through his passion for hockey.

Two years after its release, in 2014, he spoke to Carol Off, host of CBC Radio's As It Happens, about the psychological impact of being separated from family and how the trauma is passed on to the next generation.
"The nature of their experience, their common experience in residential schools, really robbed them of their tribal and cultural ability to be nurturing and to be loving parents," Wagamese said.
"They had suffered the scrapes and woundings of their souls and their spirits that was not readily healable. And when we were born as children, we were subjected to the neglect and the pain that that generation had suffered, so intergenerationally, residential schools infiltrated my generation in my family, and that's true across the country."
The film Indian Horse, adapted from the book, is currently in production, directed by Dennis Foon (Life, Above All, Double Happiness).

Father-son themes

Wagamese's 2014 novel Medicine Walk also addresses efforts to preserve culture and heal a divided family — as a teenage son and dying father who barely know each other embark on a journey through the backcountry of the B.C. Interior so that the father can be buried according to Ojibway custom.
After its release, the author, who lived in Kamloops, B.C., spoke to friend and CBC host Shelagh Rogers about Medicine Walk on B.C.'s Gabriola Island, where she lives.


A Playful Evening: 10 x 10 Plays 

Join us for a varied selection of 10 x 10 plays. Always entertaining! Written by local

playwrights and performed  

Brodie Street Resource Library: Fireside Room
Tuesday March 21, 201 7:00 p.m. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Critiquing Workshop - A great opportunity for writers

NOWW Critique Workshop for Writers
Tuesday, March 14
7:00-8:45 p.m.
Waverley Auditorium, Thunder Bay Public Library
Interested in finding out about how to work with other writers to share feedback on your writing? In this free workshop, members of the long-standing Writers Guild will show how they go about critiquing one another's work. Sign-up sheets will be available to see if you can find a critique partner or maybe form your own group.
No registration necessary.

For more information contact 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Duncan Weller's latest - for young people "Flight of the Silk"

Flight of the Silk. I'm planning a book launch at my gallery (barely opened yet) at 118 Cumberland. Maybe just as school ends. It's a middle reader, ages 9 and up, with just over a hundred illustrations. Check here for news of the launch. And also news of the new gallery.

Young Adult Novel by Donna White.

My new young adult novel, Bullets, Blood and Stones: the journey of a child soldier, has just been released in December. The book is available at Chapters, Coles, Gallery 33 and The Book Shelf, here in Thunder Bay. It is also available on People can get more info from my website: . The blurb on the back of my book reads: The first rule for survival when you're a child soldier carrying an AK-47 is kill or be killed. But after you look at the blood of your first victim, you realize two things, one, you hate yourself. And two, there is no turning back.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Right to be Cold, a hot Item in Thunder Bay

The books were flying off the Chapters Table at Waverley library as the large audience lined up to buy 'The Right to be Cold" by environmental activist, Shelia Watt-Cloutier.  The book is on the short list for Canada Reads.

The author was introduced by Cathy Alex who talked about her own adventures in the arctic. Watt-Cloutier discussed her childhood growing up in the arctic living a traditional Inuit life until she was sent down south to school at an early age. She outlined the problems faced by the northern peoples caused by global warming and her work with various organizations including the UN to press the message that global warming is a human rights issue for the people who live there. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize for her work She noted that climate change does not only affect the animals of the north but also the people who live there. For many years the local people have noticed the changes caused by global warming: the thinning of the ice, the changes in marine animals, the arrival of new species.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Thunder Bay Library Interview with author Michelle Krys

Michelle Krys is the author of Dead Girls Society,Hexed, and Charmed. When she’s not writing books for teens, she moonlights as a NICU nurse. She lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, with her family. You can visit her online at
Shauna Kosoris: What inspired you to write your newest book, Dead Girls Society?
Michelle Krys: Ideas rarely come to me organically. I often have to go after them with a club, which is what happened in this case. I knew I wanted to write a book with the mystery and intrigue of Pretty Little Liars, but with a fun competition element à la Panicby Lauren Oliver, so I sat down and brainstormed ideas until I landed on something I liked. Not very romantic, but if I waited around for ideas to strike me I would probably write a book a decade.
Hope, your heroine with cystic fibrosis from Dead Girls Society, seems very different from Indigo, the cheerleader heroine of your first series.  Where did you get the ideas for these very different characters?
Indigo’s personality is one of the first things I knew about Hexed. I wanted to subvert the gothic witch stereotype, and having the protagonist be a popular, sarcastic cheerleader felt like the natural first step.
With Dead Girls Society, I really wanted to explore what it would be like to be a normal teenager in a lot of ways, experiencing all the normal teenager things, like love and angst and a desire to push boundaries and rebel, while also living with an incurable illness that really limits your experiences.
Dead Girls Society takes place in New Orleans, while Hexed is in LA. What’s the appeal of using big American cities for your novel settings?
I mentioned that one of my goals with Hexed was to subvert the gothic witch stereotype. Besides making the protagonist a popular cheerleader, I thought it would be fun to use a setting that most readers wouldn’t normally associate with witchcraft. Sunny L.A. seemed like a great fit for that. As for Dead Girls Society, I got the idea for the setting while roaming the French Quarter in New Orleans while attending a writing festival. I just fell in love with the rich, vibrant culture of the city.  
You wrote your first book while on maternity leave.  Was it difficult fitting in writing during that time?
Not at all! My son slept 12 hours through the night and took 3-4 hour naps during the day. His incredible sleeping habits are actually what prompted me to try my hand at writing. I found myself with all this free time, and I figured there would be no better opportunity to write that book I’d always been thinking about.

Michelle Krys

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Memoir by Carl Goodwin. Growing Up in a Company Town.

Memories of the Coal
by Carl Goodwin

Post world war, 1950’s. At age ten, I’m living in a small mid-sized port midway along the north shore of Lake Erie in Southern Ontario. Our community is comparatively small, perhaps a thousand in winter and a summer population of about two thousand if one counts visitors who arrive from the city to “cottage” and swim in the lake.
            Kettle Creek flows through the village. The creek is dredged to remove silt that has been washed down from the farmland upstream. Dredging allows access for large lake freighters that come to offload massive tonnages of coal shipped across the lake from Ohio. Large piles of coal are dumped on both sides of the creek along the docks.
            Some of the coal is destined for homes but most of it is taken to industries and hospitals  in cities to the north, We live alongside the east dock, four houses up the street from where the bulk of the coal is offloaded and stockpiled pending sale. The coal is graded and screened before being trucked out through the village. My uncle is superintendent on the east dock and has worked his way up through the ranks of the coal company. For profit to be made, the coal must be reloaded and trucked to waiting customers as quickly as possible. 

Strongly anti-union, my uncle decides which drivers get what loads. A “good” load is one that is a short trip to places that have good turnaround areas. A “bad” load is a load that must be trucked a greater distance sometimes over snow-clogged country roads in winter and muddy pot-holed roads in spring time.
            The trucks are loaded using cranes and, as the coal is dropped into the trucks, large clouds of coal dust drift in off the lake. Fine and penetrating, the dust vibrates from the trucks and onto the street in front of our house.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Good-bye Stuart McLean

Good-bye great story-teller.  Your wonderful stories will be missed. Your humour and compassion will be missed. You told us about every day people and made us laugh and we still laugh when we think of that Christmas turkey. It's good-bye to Dave and Morley too. Good-bye to all your characters and to the Vinyl Cafe itself. It's been a blast. Just wish you could have stayed around longer. Rest in peace, radio friend.

Stuart McLean, bestselling author, humorist and host of CBC Radio's The Vinyl Cafe, died on February 15 at the age of 68, just over a year after his skin cancer diagnosis. McLean suspended his radio show in December 2016 to focus on cancer treatment.
For 40 years, McLean told stories on the radio. He began his career making documentaries for CBC Radio's Sunday Morning. In 1979, he won an ACTRA award for his work on a documentary about the Jonestown massacre.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fantastic News

Letter from John Pateman, CEO Thunder Bay Public Library to the Chronicle Journal

Further to the piece on Sheila Burnford (CJ, Feb. 5) your readers may be interested to learn that Thunder Bay Public Library (TBPL) is working in partnership with Lakehead University to bring the Sheila Burnford collection to Thunder Bay. LU is liaising with the Burnford family to acquire Sheila’s personal archive which includes manuscripts and the typewriter which she wrote her famous books on. The aim is to establish a Sheila Burnford Study Room at TBPL which will complement our local history and genealogy collections.
Sheila Burnford is a literary figure of local, provincial, national and international significance and bringing her collection to Thunder Bay will help to boost tourism and the local economy. This will be a community-led and -driven project and we will aim to engage and involve as many individuals and organizations in the community as possible. There will be the potential for many spinoff projects encompassing the performing and visual arts, young people and First Nations communities. We will keep the CJ updated on news of this exciting project.

John Pateman, CEO Thunder Bay Public Library