The Random Booking–Two Gifts in One

51kEq4rNMJL._AA160_Recently a good friend of mine, Gisela Sherman, enjoyed a great triumph: the publication of a project that I had watched grow from research and through workshops. This book, The Farmerettes, recently launched at Second Story’s “Stories from the Shoa” event. (It will launch again in Burlington at A Different Drummer Books on May 24) I wanted to get her a small token to celebrate the event, I’d already bought a book, but then decided that the best gift to give her was to buy another copy.

It is not so bizarre to own two copies of a book I treasure, one for the bedroom, one for the living room or one to keep in the car or a purse in case of sudden bursts of waiting. But in this case I remembered another friend, an exercise pal, remarking that she enjoyed historical fiction and she was bored by recent long, depressing bookclub picks.

Enter The Random Booking.

I asked Gisela to autograph the novel to my friend and put it in one of those recyclable little bags which I tucked in her mailbox while she was away at work.

At Aquafit last night, the second friend told me about the terrible day at work she had that began at 7 am and how she wanted to quit and then when she returned home at 7 pm, how she slumped at the dining room table too exhausted to move.

Then she spotted the bag on the table; her husband had taken it in for her.

She discovered her new book! Her day turned around. The Farmerettes is an emotional yet hopeful WWII novel that celebrates the contribution of women in agriculture on our local farms.  By the back blurb, she knows she will enjoy it and looks forward to reading it.

Go on.  Try Random Booking a friend.  It doesn’t have to be in their usual genre of reading choice.  Make it a local author whom you enjoy.

As for the next launch of this story–guess I’ll pick up my purse copy.


Teaching Writing–Inviting New Stories into Your Life

IMG_1587Someone said I was returning to square one, teaching writing at night. It’s been about a decade since I passed the creative writing torch at Sheridan College to other authors.(During that time I’ve continued to visit classrooms and libraries and instruct and conduct various workshops.)

But teaching at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre is not the same.  Just look at my classroom. It doubles as a visual arts studio. Imagine having to shut the door so we can hear ourselves over the symphony practising across the way.  (instead of the cleaning lady vacuuming).  A weekly routine was  asking the members of the orchestra to clear their palates of drums from our classroom’s front door. Another routine was to collect my attendance papers by walking past a row of parents and their daughters in tutus, most of them reading, some from traditional books,  others devices, as they waited for class; later returning these same papers, passing through the same hallway this time listening to classical piano while these children danced, parents still reading outside the door.

But it’s never about the setting. It’s not even about the learning that you do when you try to articulate your passion through notes and exercises to your students.

It’s about the students themselves.IMG_1589

On our last night together four dedicated people,of the original six,shared homemade butter tarts, cinnamon buns, and non-alcoholic bubbly. It is such a privilege to be able to get to know these four individuals so closely over eight weeks. (The cut off number to run a course is five not ten as it is for credit courses at colleges.)

We toasted creativity. I am so delighted not to have to mark and grade stories (the way I would have had to do for a college credit course.)It takes away that level of imposing values and passing judgment on writing just meant to be listened too and celebrated.

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To Ryan, Glorien, Sarah and Sneya, thank you for sharing your stories with me.

IMG_1596Is it a sunset or a sunrise returning to teaching at night? Interesting that when you look at a photo, you can never really tell the difference.  Can you?