Category Archives: Authors-Readers International

A-R International: Sid Marty

Sid Marty
Authors-Readers International

Cowboy poet and musician Sid Marty
Photo Credit: Western Folklife Center – 27th Annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Thursday, January 27, 2011. (Photograph by Jessica Brandi Lifland)

Sid Marty’s writing is strongly associated with the Rocky Mountains,
where he previously worked as a park warden in the mountain national
parks. Since l978, he has earned his living as a freelancer, writing
about natural and human history for national magazines. Sid Marty is
also known as a poet and musician and as the author of five
nonfiction titles and four collections of poetry, as well as two CDs
of original songs. His poems have appeared in a long list of school
textbooks, literary magazines and poetry anthologies such as The
Oxford Book of Canadian Verse and Colombo’s Poets of Canada. As a
musician and singer, Sid performs on guitar, mandolin and harmonica.

The Edmonton Journal, responding to Switchbacks (l999) calls him
“… a magnificent storyteller. Like a bush-camp cook, he throws
everything into the pot–high adventure-comedy, tragedy, even the
lyric adjective…” Sid Marty’s third prose title, Switchbacks
(l999) was on the National Post bestseller list for 47 weeks while
Leaning on the Wind (l995) and The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek
(2008) another bestseller, were both short-listed for the Governor
General’s Award in Nonfiction. His award-winning book Men for the
Mountains (l978) has been cited by the National and Provincial Parks
Association as one of the influential books in the Canadian
environmental movement. Sid and Myrna Marty live in southwestern
Alberta at the foot of the Livingstone Range. He is currently at work
on a long MS of new and collected poems tentatively entitled Bull
Pine Courage.

~

I was a newly minted Calgary bookseller in 1978, the year Sid Marty published his award-winning book, Men for the Mountains. I’m sure he came by the store to do a signing. I didn’t really get to know Sid though until much later when we were both involved with the Fernie Writers’ Conference. He led a workshop on non-fiction writing. One memorable evening during the conference, in a local Fernie watering hole, we all gathered around to witness a “poetry duel” between Sid Marty and poet/publisher Ron Smith. The challenge was that a poem was read by one of the men, then the other had to respond with one of his own poems that echoed the final line of the first poem. And on it went, for quite a while that evening, too! A lot of hilarity for the audience as well as for the two poets! I believe they agreed on a truce by the end of it all. At library conferences, I also displayed a couple of reprints of Sid Marty’s poetry books that had been re-released by Frontenac House.

While I was never a sales rep directly for any of Sid Marty’s books, I remembered just now while writing this promotion for him that I did rep for Red Deer College Press when they published the anthology, Riding the Northern Range: Poems from the Last Best West, edited by Ted Stone. Four of Sid’s poems are included in this book and he was among the contributors to read at a launch of the book held at The Longhorn Saloon in Calgary.

It wasn’t until well after that book was published that I noticed this mention on the copyright page: The publisher gratefully acknowledges … Special thanks to Patricia Roy and Susan Toy for their assistance in the preparation of this book. Unbeknownst to the two of us, Pat (now Couture) and I had been badgering Dennis Johnson to publish a book of cowboy poetry, because we knew it was hot at that time! Pat told me later that Dennis said something like this to her: “You and Susan Toy! You’re both driving me crazy about this need to publish cowboy poetry!” That was actually the extent of our “assistance” though – badgering! But it did feel good to eventually prove to Dennis Johnson we were correct about something! The book sold well!

~

The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek

Many citizens of Banff, Alberta, valued living in a place where wildlife grazed on the front lawn; others saw wild bears as a mere roadside attraction. None were expecting the bear attacks that summer, which led to one man’s death. During the massive hunt that followed, Banff was portrayed in the international media as a town under siege by a killer bear, and the tourists stayed away. The pressure was on to find and destroy the Whiskey Creek mauler, but he evaded park wardens and struck again and again. When the fight was over, the hard lessons learned led to changes that would save the lives of both bears and people in the coming years.

Sid Marty’s The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek is an evocative and gripping story that speaks to our complex and increasingly combative relationship with the wilderness and its inhabitants.

About Sid Marty’s music: Sid Marty began playing folk music and original songs in Calgary long before there was a Calgary Folk Music Club or an Edmonton Folk Festival. People in those days were indifferent to local songwriters, to put it mildly. Sid is a fourth generation Albertan and a former park warden who worked in the mountain national parks for many years. The songs on his second album, entitled Elsewhere, range from laments for third world child soldiers to a celebration of Alberta’s vanishing ranching culture to passionate love songs and up-tempo celebrations of Rocky Mountain days and nights

 

For more information about Sid Marty, his books and his music, please visit his website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A-R International: Clem Martini

Clem Martini
Authors-Readers International


Clem Martini is an award winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter.

Martini has over thirty plays, and ten books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit, including the Calgary Book Award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness and the internationally acclaimed young adult trilogy, The Crow Chronicles. He has served on the boards of numerous writing organizations including the Alberta Playwrights Network (Vice President), the Playwrights Guild of Canada (President), and the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (founding President). His texts on playwriting, The Blunt Playwright, The Greek Playwright, and The Ancient Comedians are employed in universities and colleges across the country. In addition to writing, he is the Former Chair, now Professor, of Drama in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.

From the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia:

Playwright, screenwriter, and fiction writer, born in Calgary, Alberta, Clem Martini has written over thirty plays, many of which have been produced nationally and internationally, including: Afterlife (Lunchbox Theatre 2005, directed by Johanne Deleeuw); The Secret Life of the Octopus (Quest Theatre 2005, dir. Duval Lang); The Replacement (Lunchbox Theatre 2004, dir. John Cooper); Turnaround, co-written with Cheryl Foggo (Lunchbox Theatre 1999, dir. Duval Lang); Selling Mr. Rushdie (Workshop West Theatre 1997, dir. David Mann); Bite Me (Lunchbox Theatre 1997, dir. Bartley Bard); Borrow Me (Lunchbox Theatre 1997, dir. John Cooper); Exit Othello (Workshop West 1996, dir. Mann); Illegal Entry (Alberta Theatre Projects 1995, dir. Daniel Libman); Up On The Roof (Lunchbox 1995, dir. Bartley Bard).

The Devil We Know, co-created with Cheryl Foggo (Blyth Festival 2012, dir. Eric Coates) is set on the edge of Regina in 1944, the home of a small group of African-Canadians determined to live with dignity despite hard times. When teenage twins, Vivian and Verna are left home alone for the weekend, they share stories of their hardships and romances, and tales of murder and hidden treasure right in their own neighborhood.
Then evil comes calling on them.

Martini’s plays exhibit a strong social conscience, and a quirky sense of humour, often focusing on the lives of troubled teens. They also have a fine sense of the absurd, expressing the world as unconventional and fantastical. Selling Mr. Rushdie (published in The Alberta Advantage, Playwrights Press, 2008) explores Western culture’s obsession with fame and wealth. Three teens from a residential school for young offenders, working in a seedy bar, kidnap a man who claims to be Salman Rushdie. They stash him in a barn and attempt to figure out how they will claim the million dollar fatwa reward, even though the man now denies that he is Rushdie; however, he proves to be a formidable opponent. The play challenges the notion of freedom of speech – whether it can go too far, or whether it is ineffective compared to violent action. The director of the Rogues Theatre production (Calgary 2004) compared the characters’ patter to the dialogue of Quentin Tarantino and of playwright-filmmaker David Mamet.

Martini is a three-time winner of the Alberta Writers Guild Drama Prize, and a Governor General’s Award nominee for his anthology, A Three Martini Lunch (Red Deer Press, 2000). Martini With a Twist: 5 Plays by Clem Martini was published by NeWest Press in 2012.

Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness (Freehand Books 2010) recounts his two brothers’ 30-year struggle with schizophrenia and with the health system. His novel, The Comedian (U of Calgary Press, 2018), an imaginative interpretation of the life of the Roman playwright, Titus Maccius Plautus as he tries against all odds to mount a play, was nominated for an Alberta Literary Award in 2019.

Martini is a professor in the Division of Drama at the University of Calgary, where he teaches Playwriting, Screenwriting and Theatre for Young Audiences. He works with troubled youth as a drama consultant through the charitable organization Woods Homes. He is a past President of the Playwrights Guild of Canada, and author with Kathleen Foreman of an “unauthorized” oral history of Theatresports, Something Like a Drug (Red Deer Press, 1995); and of the playwriting texts The Blunt Playwright (Playwrights Press, 2006) and The Greek Playwright (Playwrights Press, 2009).

He lives in Calgary with his wife, Cheryl Foggo.

~

I was a sales rep for the new Calgary publisher, Freehand Books, when Clem Martini and his brother, Olivier Martini, published their collaborative Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness. They have since released a second book with Freehand, The Unravelling: How Our Caregiving Safety Net Came Unstrung and We Were Left Grasping at Threads, Struggling to Plait a New One. I have read both books and thought them to be excellent! I displayed the first at library conferences and conferences. (I was also a sales rep for The University of Calgary Press, which has since published his novel, The Comedian, and for Red Deer Press and Kids Can Press that have also published books by Clem Martini.) I had known of Clem Martini prior to this, of course, as he was (and still is!) teaching at the University of Calgary. But I also came to better know him when I began promoting his wife, Cheryl Foggo, who is also part of this Authors-Readers International series.

~

The Comedian
Published by The University of Calgary Press

edited by Aritha Van Herk (also an A-RI author!)

Titus Maccius Plautus’ career is on the decline. Once renounced for bringing Greek comedies to the Roman world, now he struggles to stage a single play. Unlucky with money and unlucky in love, Plautus faces the world with wry dignity. This could be the performance that brings back fame and fortune, or the one that ends it all.

Engaging, thoughtful, and funny, The Comedian dives into the rough and tumble world of arts in its infancy. Clem Martini draws on his talent and experience to bring to life the signs and sounds of a world where playwrights suffered and succeeded–but mostly suffered.

What Clem Martini is working on now: I’m presently working on a theatrical adaptation of The Unravelling.

 

A-R International: Cheryl Foggo

Cheryl Foggo
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Mike Tan

Cheryl Foggo is a multiple award winning author, playwright and filmmaker, whose work over the last 30 years has focused on the lives of Western Canadians of African descent. The 30th anniversary edition of her book Pourin’ Down Rain: A Black Woman Claims Her Place in the Canadian West, has just been updated and released by Brush Education Press. It is also available as an audiobook read by acclaimed Canadian actor Karen Robinson through ECW Press. Cheryl’s other books include two young adult novels, One Thing That’s True, (1997, Kids Can Press) and I Have Been in Danger (2002, Coteau Books) as well as a children’s picture book, Dear Baobab (2011, Second Story Press).

She has also been published in dozens of anthologies, most recently The Black Prairie Archive: An Anthology (2020, WLU Press, edited by Karina Vernon) and Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers (2018, Rocky Mountain Books, edited by Shaun Hunter).

She recently directed the short film Kicking Up a Fuss: The Charles Daniels Story. Her full length National Film Board documentary John Ware Reclaimed will be released this fall.

Cheryl Foggo’s play, John Ware Reimagined, won the 2015 Writers Guild of Alberta Award for Drama and was produced most recently at Workshop West Theatre Company in November, 2017. Also in 2017 she was recognized by the YWCA as one of 150 outstanding Calgary women. She is a past recipient of the Sondra Kelly Screenplay Award from the Writers Guild of Canada. In 2014 she co-produced Alberta’s first Black Canadian Theatre Series with Ellipsis Tree Collective Theatre Company.

Cheryl Foggo lives in Calgary with her husband Clem Martini (also listed in this Authors-Readers International series).

~

I first met Cheyl Foggo in Calgary when she published her children’s picture book, Dear Baobab, with Second Story Press, which I had been representing. I displayed this book for her at library conferences through my promotion business Alberta Books Canada. I love Dear Baobab! Here’s a promotional trailer from the publisher:

~

The 30th anniversary edition of Cheryl Foggo’s landmark work
about growing up Black on the Canadian prairies

Published by Brush Education Inc.

Cheryl Foggo came of age during the 1960s in Calgary, a time when a Black family walking down the street still drew stares from everyone they passed. She grew up in the warm embrace of a community of extended family and friends, with roots in the Black migration of 1910 across the western provinces. But as an adolescent, Cheryl struggled against the negative attitudes towards Blackness she and her family encountered. She struggled against the many ways she was made to feel an outsider in the only place she ever knew as home.

As Cheryl explores her ancestry, what comes to light gives her the confidence to claim her place in the Canadian west as a proud Black woman. In this beautiful, moving work, she celebrates the Black experience and Black resiliency on the prairies.

What Cheryl Foggo is working on now: Cheryl is working on a book mapping Calgary’s Black history and communities from 1880-1960 and a new book about John Ware that will conclude her trilogy of works (play, film, book) on his life and legacy.

For more information about Cheryl Foggo, please see her Facebook author page.

 

A-R International: Randy McCharles

Randy McCharles
Authors-Readers International

RANDY MCCHARLES, is active in Calgary, Alberta’s writing community. An award-winning writer of speculative fiction, usually of the wickedly humorous variety, his short stories and novellas are available from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, Tyche Books, House of Anansi, and Reality Skimming Press. He is the recipient of several Aurora Awards (Canada’s most prestigious award for speculative fiction). In 2013, his short story Ghost-B-Gone Incorporated won the House of Anansi 7-day Ghost Story Contest.

In addition to writing, Randy chairs the award-winning When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers as well as organizing various reading and craft events for writers.

His most recent publications include the Peter Galloway detective series, and Aurora Award finalist Much Ado about Macbeth.

~

I met Randy McCharles through the Calgary writing community where he has always been very active in organizing writing retreats and the annual festival, When Words Collide. During the first two festivals I set up display tables of books by Alberta authors and attended a number of the sessions and panel discussions. These were always extremely informative. But what I commend Randy for the most is that he has created a very cohesive community of readers, writers, publishers, promoters that caused an electricity in the air I have never felt at any other conference I’ve attended. And it was SOLD OUT EARLY EVERY YEAR!! This year, due to the pandemic, When Words Collide has moved online, but will now attract a worldwide audience. Randy was quick to reply when I asked for information about the online version for a 3-part blog series I was planning on writing. Here’s a link to Part 1 of Online Writing and Reading Festivals.

Randy McCharles, along with J. F. Kaufmann (another Authors-Readers International author), also took part with me in a well-attended talk and discussion held at the Calgary Public Library, The 12-Step Programme to Successful Self-Publication – Talk and panel discussion at CPL

~

A Connecticut Gumshoe in King Arthur’s Court

Sam Sparrow is a lousy cop and a worse private eye. But when the magician Merlin magicks him away from Hartford Connecticut to work cases in King Arthur’s Court, it may be just what Sam needs to address his trust issues, while at the same time proving himself worthy of his elusive idol, Sam Spade.

The Maltese Falcon meets A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court in this rollicking hard-boiled detective satire.

Stay tuned for A Connecticut Gumshoe in Sherwood Forest. (Expected release in 2021)

Much Ado About Macbeth

When drama teacher Paul Samson decides to put on a High School production of Macbeth, he forgets that it isn’t just The Scottish Play, it is The Cursed Play. And Paul soon learns just how cursed. After grappling with his principal, the PTA, his family, and his students, he must contend with witches, ghosts, and skeletons from his past. The show is destined from the outset to end badly, but no matter how desperate or dangerous circumstances become, Paul cannot cancel the play. Theatre has but one rule and one rule only: the show must go on.

The Peter Galloway Detective Series

What Randy McCharles is working on now: Preparing for the 2020 When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers.

For more information about Randy McCharles, his writing, publishing, and events, please see his website.

Randy McCharles has previously been a guest twice on Reading Recommendations:
Aug. 2014, Aug. 2015.

 

 

 

A-R International: Rohini Sunderam

Rohini Sunderam
Authors-Readers International

A Canadian of Indian origin living in Bahrain, Rohini Sunderam dabbles in all kinds of verse, satirical, funny, and contemplative as well as prose if the mood so grabs her. She has contributed to several anthologies by Robin Barratt.

Rohini is a semi-retired advertising copywriter. She has written two books as commissioned assignments, had articles published in The Statesman, Calcutta, India, The Globe & Mail, Canada, and The Halifax Chronicle Herald, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Her poems have been selected in international competitions for publication in Poetry Rivals (Remus House, UK) 2012; Dilliwali (Bushra Alvi Razzak, India) and Quesadilla & Other Adventures (2019 Somrita U Ganguly).

Her books Corpoetry, Desert Flower and Five Lives – One Day in Bahrain are published by Ex-L-Ence UK. Her poem Birth Pangs and her entry in a Rhyming Riddle contest (7th place) are featured in The Society of Classical Poets Journal VII (May 2019) & VIII. Her story: Your rebirth, My death short-listed in The Atlantis Short Story Contest 2013 was published by Expanded Horizons (September 2018). Winner: Oapschat, U.K (2014). Participant in the Colours of Life annual poetry festival in Bahrain since 2012. She is a founding member and recently retired director of the Bahrain Writers’ Circle.

~

Even though we share Canadian nationality, I have only met Rohini Sunderam online through her fellow-Bahrainian author, Seumas Gallacher, who has previously been promoted in the Authors-Readers International series. I promoted Rohini’s books on my blog Reading Recommendations (see links below) and then she honoured me by asking if I would judge the entries for one of the writing challenges held by the Bahrain Writers’ Circle. Here’s the blog post I published about the experience that includes a link to the BWC challenge results.

~

Five Lives – On Day in Bahrain

Five Lives – One day in Bahrain is set in the year 2007, but it’s a story that could apply to almost any time. It traces the lives of five very different people, a housemaid from Sri Lanka; a municipal garbage truck driver from India; a Filipina hairdresser and beauty salon manager; a British banker, and a young Bahraini man.

The five prayer times that Muslims observe are used to punctuate the different periods in the day and the story’s action. Through the course of the day, we learn of the individuals’ lives and hopes until a point when they are all brought together and their lives intertwine.

Who connects with whom? Discover unsung heroes. This is an uplifting story that celebrates ordinary people in extraordinary ways.

Desert Flower
by Zohra Saeed

A Short Story – Love blooms in 1930s Bahrain…

“His deep voice was soft as the waters in the bay on a summer night and his words were the most magical I had ever heard. They sent a thrill racing through my body like a hundred tiny Arab horses galloping down my spine.

I closed my eyes with an effort to shut out his face, then opened them again, the tension of his loving words made me want to touch his lips and trace the soft bow of his mouth…”

1930s Bahrain, oil has just been discovered in the Middle East and Andrew MacInnis from Canada has come to work there.

Andrew visits a Bahraini carpet merchant, who does not speak English. The merchant calls for his daughter, Noor, to act as interpreter.

Noor is a devout Muslim and as such must not expose her face to men outside of her immediate family.

She acts as translator for her father and although he never leaves the two alone, under his very nose, Andrew and Noor get to know each other and fall desperately in love. The lovers secretly plot to run away but the risks are terrible. Noor’s father may send members of the family to hunt them down and kill them.

Do they escape? Will Noor have the nerve to follow Andrew’s plan or will centuries of a formidable culture and Noor’s upbringing prevent these two young lovers from following their hearts?

Here’s an interview with Rohini Sunderam with the Najla Qamber Designs website.

And here’s a video of Rohini reading her poem Perfect Ice Cream at the Bahrain Writers’ Circle conference in 2018.

Rohini Sunderam is currently working on: Finishing my longtime work in progress (in search of an agent!) a full-length novel set in Bahrain during the Second World War, as well as ghost-writing a book for a prominent Bahrain-based businessman.

Rohini Sunderam has twice been a guest on Reading Recommendations: in Nov. 2015 and Jan. 2017.

A-R International: Blaine Greenwood

Blaine Greenwood
Authors-Readers International

Blaine Greenwood, born in Viking Alberta 1951, is an educator by profession – with a career spanning from classroom teacher to museum educator and event planner. It is from this foundation that Blaine’s poetry has come to reflect his interest in psychology, history and spirituality. His verse has been described as “dark, homespun, sensual, rich with images

Blaine was one of the Coordinators of MOST VOCAL Poets Society. He was until very recently one of the artistic directors of Lotos Land spoken word / poetry venue at Fort Macleod Alberta’s South Country Fair and a past main stage performer. He is currently the DJ for CKXU’s Not Your Mother’s Poetry and as that show’s host, participated in 100 Thousands Poets for Change event 2013 – 2015.

The title of Blaine’s first chapbook Walking Naked Down the Street describes the experience of a writer baring his soul to the public as well as some of Blaine’s earliest attempts at poetry. Blaine’s first book was Black Cat in the Shadows. Second to be published by Ekstasis Editions The False Mirror is Blaine’s collection of prose poems about Matisse, Magritte and Dali. There are at least fou more manuscripts in various stages of writing and editing.

Blaine holds a B.Ed. and Diploma in Educational Media from the University of Alberta and lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with his wife, Dee.

~

I met Blaine Greenwood when the first Lethbridge Word on the Street Festival was being organized. Blaine interviewed me for a weekly show he hosted on CKXU Radio, Not Your Mother’s Poetry. Blaine has always been a very supportive and encouraging force within the Alberta poetry community.

~

The False Mirror

Imagine three artists sitting at their easels about to represent the world around them. Take a subject as common as the human eye. Matisse just suggested the eye with two or three strokes of bold color and often hid his initials within those strokes. Magritte took the eye and turned it into a gigantic advertising poster – with clouds floating in the iris. And then there was Dali … the eye appears, suspended in mid-air over a sky, like a bruise glassy and weeping.

The title The False Mirror is taken from the painting by Magritte. Magritte’s work takes ordinary objects and turns them into thought provoking mysteries. Dali, an ultra-surrealist. is an artist of dreamscapes that seem to scream for psychoanalysis. Matisse, who appears to be more serene of the three, is an artist that uses flat patches of intense color and tends towards an economy of line and shape.

These three artists –Matisse, Magritte and Dali – having experienced many common life experiences, represent their views of reality in radically different ways. Hopefully what this collection of poetry will cause you to do is see reality not just with your eyes but your mind and your imagination as well.

For more about Blaine Greenwood, please see his website.

Blaine Greenwood has been a guest previously on Reading Recommendations in Dec. 2015.

A-R International: Lisa Bowes

Lisa Bowes
Authors-Readers International

Lisa Bowes has been recognized across Canada for her work as a sports reporter, live host, anchor, play-by-play announcer and producer. While working for CBC, she was nominated for a Gemini Award for best writing in an information program or series.

She began her career as an editorial assistant at TSN in 1989. She later became a reporter for TSN in Winnipeg and Calgary. From 1997-1999 she was a commentator for TSN SportsDesk. She then joined The Score as weekend anchor & host/producer of Sports Axxess.

A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, she made Canadian broadcasting history in 2000 when she became the play-by-play voice for the National Women’s Hockey League. She later called basketball games for The Score, WTN & TSN2.

At the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, Lisa was CTV’s host/reporter for women’s hockey.

She worked as an anchor/reporter at CTV Calgary from 2004–2017.

~

I think I may have originally met Lisa Bowes through the Calgary publicist who set up media for publishers I represented, and who knew all the media personalities in the city. In any case, Lisa contacted me for advice when she had the idea of writing a series of children’s books about Olympic sports. She has gone on since then to successfully write and publish five books in the series, and has plans to write more! I did promote Lisa on Reading Recommendations several times, as well. Recently though, during this current pandemic, Lisa Bowes has found a unique and brilliant way to reach out to her readers and promote books to children and their families – safely! – by offering what she is calling “curbside readings” held in driveways around Calgary! Masks and social distancing required, of course! (See below for video link.)

~

Lucy Tries Sports

Created by veteran sports journalist Lisa Bowes, the Lucy Tries Sports series aims to promote inclusive physical literacy and encourage young readers to get involved in sports. Endorsed by elite athletes, the series focuses on participation and the importance of play. The books follow Lucy and her friends as they learn introductory skills in a variety of exciting sports, guided by coaches and teachers. Lucy’s eagerness to try new things will inspire all children to get outside and play.

Bowes points out that the Lucy books can be resources to encourage kids and families to try a variety of activities and live healthy lifestyles. A recent report in Canada indicates that many kids do not spend enough time doing physical activities. Only 39 per cent of children (aged five to 11) and youths (12 to 17) met the national physical activity guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, according to ParticipACTION, a non-profit group that promotes healthy living.

“Physical literacy is as important as math and reading,” Bowes said. “Being active means you can have a healthy life. Have kids try many different sports as opposed to specialization. Build a love of activity into your life.”

Lucy and Friends

Even though some kids cannot access ice rinks or sports fields, Bowes says introducing children to sports in any form is crucial to their physical, social, and emotional well-being.

“It breaks my heart when kids do not have access to sports and athletic opportunities. Because an active start equals an active life. But you can still teach children fundamental movement skills from the beginning, like catching and throwing. This can help give kids the confidence to try sports as opportunities arise.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, exercise is even more limited. However, Bowes stresses that being active with family members can build good habits later. “If people are walking and playing together more with their families, that’s something that will carry over once we’ve passed this.”

And when kids can join group activities again, Bowes emphasizes that enrolling in programs with friends means more opportunities for fun, socializing, and growth.

“Sign them up with friends. Make it easy for them to want to participate. Focus on the importance of having fun. No one needs to win at all costs.”

Here’s an article from #CampCaribu‘s summer reading program.

And this is a video from Calgary CTVNews about Lisa’s curbside readings.

 

What Lisa Bowes is working on now:
In addition, Bowes is collaborating on a dance book with First Nations communities that teaches indigenous dances.

“This is a chance for Lucy and Friends to learn about the power of dance and culture in First Nations communities. I see this as an opportunity to participate in the reconciliation efforts with First Nations communities in Canada.”

Bowes leads writing residency programs for school-age children, and gives them a chance to write their own Lucy stories. They have contributed self-made books featuring a variety of “Lucy Tries” activities, from surfing to archery to yoga. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Bowes has led curbside readings of her books, sharing the Lucy stories from a safe social distance.

For more information about Lisa Bowes and the series, please see Orca Books‘ website.

Lisa Bowes has been a guest on Reading Recommendations three times: Dec. 2013, Feb. 2014 and Dec. 2014.

A-R International: Lee Gowan

Lee Gowan
Authors-Readers International

Lee Gowan is a Canadian novelist.

Gowan grew up on a farm near Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and studied at the University of British Columbia, where he received a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. Gowan is presently based in Toronto where he heads the creative writing program at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto.

At the 1996 Gemini Awards, Gowan was nominated for his screenplay Paris or Somewhere. In 2002 his novel Make Believe Love was nominated for the Trillium Award for Best Book in Ontario.

In 2006 his novel The Last Cowboy was published by Albin Michel in France as Jusqu’au bout du ciel.

Lee Gowan is the author of the novels Confession, The Last Cowboy, and Make Believe Love.  He also published the critically acclaimed story collection Going to Cuba, and wrote the award-winning screenplay for Paris or Somewhere.

Also, you may read about his multimedia story, My Father’s House, on his website. Here’s an excerpt:

My Father’s House is a multimedia story that explores impermanence. What else can we count on in this life but change?

On the other hand, the house I grew up in was the house my father lived in his entire life, so it represented permanence for him.

It goes without saying, all of the writing is mine. What use would it be to you? If you do have some use for it, please ask my permission before using.

The photos are mostly mine too, though I have borrowed a few from family (Ray Gowan, Jessi Gowan) and friends (Laura Murray and Ranjini George Philip) and from the public domain.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

~

I was the southern Saskatchewan sales rep for Fifth House when Lee Gowan published his first book, Going to Cuba. But it wasn’t until decades later that we actually met in person, and in Toronto … I had arranged to meet with author Ranjini George who has already been featured in this Authors-Readers International series. Ranjini had recently married Lee, so it was my great pleasure to be able to chat with both of them over coffee!

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Confession

Eight years since I’ve seen my parents’ graves, and if I haven’t visited it’s a safe bet that neither has anyone else. Maybe a few of the curious, assuming that anyone is still curious about such things. Not a week goes by that I don’t think of them there, under their shared granite slab. They died a day apart, my mother the one day and my father the next, so one stone seemed appropriate and more cost-effective. Not that I paid. I just mean that it must have seemed more appropriate and cost-effective to the man who did pay for the pretty pink rock and the engraving and had them buried side by side. They’re within reach, but they never touch. How so like the world of the living.

You don’t entirely appreciate how alone you are until you’ve lost your parents.

In the beginning, we piled stones on graves to stop wild animals from digging up the remains of our loved ones. I suppose those rough mounds served as markers as well, but the principal reason we piled them so high and wide was because we didn’t want to come back to find our parents’ bones strewn around like any other animal’s. Nowadays, with coffins and fancy fenced-off graveyards in the middle of the city, you don’t have to worry about anything eating your dead parents. We’ve almost run out of things to worry about.

I’m kidding. I wouldn’t even mention it, but down east here, people tend not to know when you’re kidding.

From this award-winning, acclaimed writer comes a searingly powerful novel that portrays how one fateful, brutal day in the life a young prairie man reverberates far beyond imagining – a brilliant portrayal of the struggle between fate and faith.

In the suffocating town of Broken Head, Saskatchewan, Dwight Froese confesses to having killed his father in a duel, maintaining that he was avenging the murder of his mother, whose body had been found floating in a nearby creek the day before. But when the coroner rules the woman’s death an accident, Dwight’s certainty is shattered. In the explosive tale that follows, he attempts to reconcile the violent legacy he has inherited with what it will take to forge a new life for himself – and the complicated relationships with the various townspeople that develop as a result.

What Lee Gowan is working on now: I’m working on a new novel, but it is still very much in progress.

For more information about Lee Gowan, his teaching, writing and books, please see his website.

A-R International: E.C. Bell

E.C. Bell
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Ryan Parker of PK Photography

I write paranormal mystery and urban fantasy in many different forms — novels, novellas, short stories and flash fiction. Sometimes I play around in crime fiction and dystopian fiction (and I wrote a couple of really strange magic realism stories a while back) but I keep coming back to the paranormal, because ghosts are a laugh riot. Right?

I have two grown children, two dogs, and one husband. (I live with the dogs and the husband. The children I let loose on the world quite a few years ago.)

The two dogs are both rescues. Buddy is a 3 legged border collie, and Millie is a Shih Tzu with very few teeth and a bad attitude when it comes to Buddy. (Which is too bad, because we got Millie as a buddy for Buddy.)

I live in a round house that is in a perpetual state of renovation. Sometimes I would dearly love a straight wall or two, because I do have some nice paintings and photos I’d love to hang — but beyond that I quite like the place. The renovations I put up with, because my husband seems to LOVE doing same. Who am I to stop him?

This year we had to renovate because the house got hit by lightning. Really. (And yes, it’s just as scary as it seems on TV.)

Most years I am an Edmonton Oilers fan. This year we are back to sadness and sorrow, but that’s all right. October is just around the corner, and I can again feel hope.

Do I play sports myself?  Not so much.  I tried to learn darts — is it even a sport? — but it didn’t go well. The only sport I partake of is “walking the dog,” which can get a bit more energetic than I like when a rabbit hops by. (That happens more than you’d think.) Even a 3 legged dog can run like a bat out of hell when he sees a rabbit.

But mostly, I write, which makes my life one of coolest on the planet.

My debut paranormal mystery, Seeing the Light(2014) won the BPAA Award for Best Speculative Fiction Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Award for Light Mystery. The fourth in the series, Dying on Second (2017) won the Bony Blithe Award for Light Mystery, and was shortlisted for the Book Publishers Association of Alberta award for Best Speculative Fiction.  Book 5, Hearing Voices, was released into to wild in October 2018. Book 6, Haunting the Haunted, was published in October, 2019. (I sense a trend here!)

When I’m not writing, I’m living a fine life in my round house with my husband and our two dogs.

~

I believe I likely met Eileen Bell at one of the first When Words Collide conferences held in Calgary. She had collaborated on a book with three other Alberta authors, and they collectively called themselves The Apocalyptic Four. I posted a promotion of the book to my Reading Recommendations blog. Then later, I promoted Eileen and her own books three more times on that blog. (See links below.) When I was back in Alberta for a visit and heading up to Edmonton to visit family there, I put out a call on social media to meet up with authors who I’d promoted and get-together over coffee. Eileen Bell was the only author to show up for that, so we had a good private chat about writing, books, and promotion. I’m so happy to see that Eileen has continued to write and publish her own series of books, has just finished writing #7, and is working on #8!

~

Haunting the Haunted

A Marie Jenner Mystery #6

Marie Jenner just wants things to stay the same.

Life is finally starting to look up for Marie. Her brand-new business—moving on ghosts for actual money—is taking off. Her relationship with James Lavall is rock solid. All she has to do is find the last two poltergeists from the ball diamond and move them on to the next plane of existence and, as far as she’s concerned, everything will be perfect.

The problem is, life has a way of kicking Marie in the teeth. Patrick Whitecroft, professional psychic debunker, shows up at the Jimmy Lavall Detective agency, out to prove that she’s a fake—live, on TV—and he doesn’t care who he hurts to do it. Even worse, he has over a hundred desperate spirits bound to him, and they want something completely different. They want to be saved.

As Marie tries to help the spirits and keep Patrick from dismantling her life, she finally finds the poltergeists. But they’re not interested in moving on. They want Patrick Whitecroft’s spirits for themselves. If Marie can’t figure out a way to move all the spirits on to the next plane of existence, the poltergeists will happily take them, so they can create an army bent on revenge.

Looks like Marie’s life is going to get interesting. Again.

What E.C. Bell is working on now: I just finished Book 7 in the series. I don’t have a title for it yet—or should I say I have too many titles, so my publisher gets to pick! In this one, Marie goes on a holiday. She ends up in Las Vegas, to move on James Lavall’s Uncle Jimmy, and it doesn’t go well. (As usual.) This one will be out at the beginning of 2021.

Usually the new books come out in October every year, but we put back the publishing date for this one so that the rest of the books could be relaunched with new ebook covers. It was all very exciting, but I’m ready for the new book to be out!

Right now I’m working on Book 8, (working title Saving the Girl,) the last book in the series. I’m feeling some feelings about the whole thing, because I’ve lived with Marie Jenner and her crew for a long time now. It’s hard to say good-bye!

This book will be out in 2022, and I have no idea what I’ll do after that!

For more information on E.C, Bell, please see her website.

E.C. Bell has been featured (as Eileen Bell) on Reading Recommendations three times, Oct. 2014, Feb. 2016, May 2017, and as a member of The Apocalyptic Four.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A-R International: Antanas Sileika

Antanas Sileika
Authors-Readers International

Photo credit: Irmantas Gelunas

Antanas Sileika (Antanas Šileika) is a Canadian novelist and critic.

He was born in Weston, Ontario.

After completing an English degree at the University of Toronto, he moved to Paris for two years and there married his wife, Snaige Sileika (nee Valiunas), an art student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.  While in Paris,  he worked as part of the editorial collective of the expatriate literary journal, Paris Voices, run from the upstairs room of the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company.

Upon his return to Canada in 1979, Antanas began teaching at Humber College and working as a co-editor of the Canadian literary journal, Descant, where he remained until 1988.

He became involved through journalism  with Lithuania’s restitution of independence during the fall of The Soviet Union 1988-1991, and for this activity he received the Knight’s Cross medal from the Lithuanian government in 2004.

A past winner of a national magazine award, he retired in June of 2017 as the director for the Humber School for Writers in Toronto.

After writing for newspapers and magazines, Antanas published his first novel, Dinner at the End of the World (1994), a speculative story set in the aftermath of global warming.

His second book, a collection of linked short stories, Buying On Time (1997), was nominated for both the City of Toronto Book Award and the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, and was serialized on CBC Radio’s Between the Covers. In 2016, almost twenty years later, it was long-listed for Canada Reads and the translation was short-listed in Lithuania for Book of the Year. The book traces the lives of a family of immigrants to a Canadian suburb between the fifties and seventies. Some of these stories were anthologized in Dreaming Home, Canadian Short Stories, and the Penguin Anthology of Canadian Humour. Antanas has published three more novels and a memoir.

Antanas Sileika has worked frequently as a reviewer of books for radio, television, and print.

~

When I enrolled in the Humber School for Writers in 2006 to their online programme (I was living full-time on Bequia then, so online learning was new to me and very convenient), Antanas Sileika was the director. I did not meet him in person during the course, but I attended a session at Humber College later when I was back in Toronto for a visit, and I met him then. We also met up years later at the University of Calgary when we both attended a Canadian conference on creative writing programmes. I had set up a table displaying books by authors I was promoting, many of whom were also present at that conference. Antanas is now retired from that position of director and is concentrating on his own writing. I’ve read his most recent novel (below) and found the historical fiction about his parents’ homeland of Lithuania fascinating. And, needless to say, very well written! (While Antanas was born in Canada and has lived most of his life in the country, I’m going to add to his A-RI listing that he is descended from Lithuanians, because that country plays a large part in all of his writing.)

~

Provisionally Yours

After World War I and the collapse of Czarist Russia, former counterintelligence officer Justas Adamonis returns to Lithuania, a fragment of the shattered Empire. He’s not entirely sure what he’ll find. His parents are dead, he hasn’t seen his sister since she was a teenager, and Kaunas has become the political center of the emerging state. He’s barely off the train when he’s recruited back into service, this time for the nascent government eager to secure his loyalty and experience. Though the administration may be new, its problems are familiar, and Adamonis quickly finds himself ensnared in a dangerous web of political corruption and personal betrayal. Antanas Sileika’s Provisionally Yours is a vivid depiction of realpolitik—as well as an unforgettable story about treachery and the enduring human capacity for love.

Read the review of Provisionally Yours in Publishers’ Weekly.

“Offers the delightful unearthing of a little-known corner of the world—post-war Lithuania. Espionage, illicit love, bureaucratic bungling, marvelous descriptions of food and drink, strong women, desperate men. And subtle humour. And ultimately sadness, brought on by amorality in the struggle for power. A fine read.” —David Bergen, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Time in Between

What Antanas Sileika is doing now:  I have a novel manuscript called Skylark, Badger, Mole out for consideration, set in The Soviet Union in the late fifties. And while the acquisition editor is thinking, I am completing a comic novel-in-progress called The Seaside Cafe Metropolis, loosely based on the opera, La Boheme and the Broadway Play, Rent.

For more information about Antanas Sileika, his books and writing, please see his website.