Tag Archives: Darcie Friesen Hossack

A-R International … Self-Isolating Authors Edition: Part 2

This is the second part of a series in which Authors who I’ve promoted in the Authors-Readers International series tell Readers what they’ve been doing during these past few months of self-isolating … See the introduction to Part 1 for a further explanation. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)

Fred Stenson

Pincher Creek, Alberta, is my home since last summer, as I believe you know. The advantage is that Pincher in Iso is quite a bit like Pincher not in Iso. Have to watch my step only at the post office and Co-op. And strictly avoid Walmart. Two hour walks are frequent—to offset my beer consumption.

Working on a film with Tom Radford. Great fun.

 

Marcello Di Cintio

I’ve been reasonably busy during the pandemic. My book about the secret lives of taxi drivers has been delayed due to all of this chaos, but this has given me a chance to add pandemic-related material to the manuscript. I also taught an online class on travel writing at Pandemic University, and one on nonfiction for the Alexandra Writers Centre. I landed a short piece about COVID brides-to-be on the CBC Calgary website and had a personal essay published on May 18th in the CBC Books’ “Transmission” series. All the while, I’ve been pitching COVID-related stories to various magazines. I am also working on a profile for a US-based medical cannabis journal, and a feature story about sex work in Calgary.

 

Lori Hahnel

I have a new short story collection coming out this fall with Enfield & Wizenty. The book is called Vermin: Stories, and expected pub date at this point is Oct. 22. Here’s a link to the publisher’s page.

I also finally got a new headshot! (credit Jodi O Photography)

Lori Hahnel continues to add posts to her blog and is going to be offering a webinar on writing in June. See her blog for details. 

 

Don Gillmor

I wish I could say I’ve been spending my covid time learning a new language, or taking piano lessons, or bullfighting classes online. I have finished a draft of a novel though, and am adapting to online yoga classes. Though I was self-isolating more before the pandemic, when everyone left the house in the morning. Now all four of us are here all day, every day. So an adjustment. Playing my monthly poker game via Zoom has been an adjustment as well. And perhaps it’s a good thing that this is the coldest spring in memory (it snowed yesterday) as fewer people are tempted to go out. But it would be nice to at least have the back yard as an option. And the snow may be keeping the murder hornets at bay.

 

Felicity Harley

Again thanks for doing this for us – it is so incredibly generous of you.  As for me I’m editing the next two books in my series – Rebirth and Tesla’s Dream, as you know, and hoping to get that done by the fall. The coronavirus has slowed down the process since I have my daughters and granddaughters at home, and there are lots of interruptions. However I’m finding bits and pieces of time to do my work and am also okay with giving some of it up since this is a unique and precious time to be with my granddaughters (note: granddaughters) that I won’t have again. (One of Felicity’s granddaughters even wrote me a fan letter!)

I haven’t written anything on the virus but in my books I predict pandemics as part of the effects of climate change. There is a typical tension between the needs of businesses to make money and the working poor who facilitate that.  It’s never been very different; those with less resources have always been sacrificed on the altars of the rich.

 

Bob Stallworthy

Again, thank you for all you are doing to promote Canadian/Alberta authors. It is a huge amount of work. I do appreciate all you’ve done to promote my books.

What have I been doing during the pandemic?

My book, Impact Statement, has been published and is now available from Alpine Book Peddlers in Canmore as well as the independent bookstores, Pages, ShelfLife and Owl’s Nest in Calgary. I believe it will be available through Amazon and Indigo as well, but I haven’t any idea just when that will happen.

Frontenac House and I are talking about having some kind of internet launch. No date or time as yet. It may be a ZOOM event, but that hasn’t been settled yet either. Will let you know when all is sorted out. Here’s a link to the book on the publisher’s site.

Of course, I am still a full-time care giver for my wife, Marilyn. Things are going as well as they can, but some of the work has to be done carefully.

As well, I am now into the gardening season. Trying to get my yards and flowerbeds into shape.

 

Darlene Foster

Like me, Canadian author Darlene Foster was in her winter home (Spain) when the pandemic disrupted the world, and she has also not been able to travel home to Canada for the summer months.

During the very strict lockdown in Spain, I have kept busy reading, writing, blogging, reviewing, critiquing, editing, and supporting other writers on-line. I’ve finally had time to reduce my towering TBR pile and have read some classics I’ve wanted to read for a long time. One of the best books I´ve read during lockdown was The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. Here is my review on Goodreads.

I’m helping other writers with short stories and novels they’re working on and helping promote others who are already published. It’s always important as a writing community to support each other, but especially now during the global pandemic and resulting isolation. Thankfully, technology has kept me in touch with my family, friends and writing community. I hosted a ZOOM meeting for 14 English-speaking writers here in Spain last week and meet via ZOOM with my Canadian critique group on a regular basis. I individually chat with writers on Skype and FaceTime so I have not felt lonely at all. In fact, I´m busier than ever and working on Amanda in France, the ninth book in my Amanda Travels series, writing short stories, and even tried my hand at writing poetry. I was delighted to learn that some parents have been using my books as part of homeschooling. Life is whatever we make it and mine is good!

You can see what I´m up to by following my blog or checking out my website. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter. I would love to hear from you.

Stay safe and well. We´ve got this!

 

Darcie Friesen Hossack

A bear sat on my deck. No photographic proof of that other than the calling card she left. I wrote a haiku, but it had one too many syllables. So it’s not a haiku at all. I also adopted my 21 year old nephew, who had a liver transplant when he was 16. He’s much safer here than he would be in Calgary, and he wants to apprentice with Dean as a cook. When it’s safe to go back into the kitchen.

I think of you on Bequia so often, knowing you’ve made the best decision for yourself. Traveling home, when you have a home … and a moat, and cats and all your books. I’m glad you’re there, just like I’m glad we’re pocketed away here in Jasper National Park, in the Canadian Rockies. Although, restaurants are re-opening, and guests will be returning soon. To a different experience, but they’re coming, and I’m worried. Of course.

I was worried, at first, that the gravity of a pandemic would pull all creativity to itself and leave me sitting in the dark. About a week in, however, Betty Jane Hegerat (an A-RI-promoted Author), one of my favourite writers and people, posted an offer of Blue Pencil Sessions: up to eight pages, for a handful of writers who might need a fresh look at a work in progress. I gratefully put up my hand and sent her the synopsis of the novel I’m working on. Anyone who knows Betty Jane knows she is the kind of person, writer, teacher who brings out the best in others. She asked for the first chapter after that, and now that she’s reading the sixth, I find myself not only picking up my pace to keep ahead of her (or is it that she’s generating a wave?), but learning to trust myself and the characters I’ve known, now, for so long. I’ve also taken on some web and business writing for a local mountain cabin resort, helping them to communicate with their staff and guests in these far too interesting times.

As well as the bear, I also have four squirrels and a chipmunk who visit my deck, and have been visited by a pair of bluejays (I thought these parts, like where I’ve lived in BC, would only have the blue-black Stellar’s Jays), assorted woodpeckers, thrush, cheeky little nuthatches and chickadees, and a flock of Juncos. Now that the snow is finally gone, my hiking boots have replaced my winter boots, and my camera and I are going out into the park, looking for and finding spring colours. Spring comes later here than I’m used to, but it’s so ridiculously beautiful that it doesn’t really matter.

 

A-R International: Darcie Friesen Hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack
Authors-Readers International


Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers where she studied under Giller Finalist Sandra Birdsell.

Darcie has been a food columnist for the Kelowna Daily Courier and Kamloops This Week as well as The Prairie Post, thepeartree.ca, Calgary Beacon and Surrey Beacon. Darcie’s first book of short fictions, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was published by Thistledown Press in September 2010. As the book was being completed, Susan Musgrave was Darcie’s editor, helping to weed out the flowers (the dandelions stayed). Mennonites Don’t Dance was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Prize and was a runner-up for the 2011 Danuta Gleed Literary Award.

Individual stories published before the book include “Ashes,” which appeared in Half in the Sun: anthology of Mennonite writing (Ronsdale Press), edited by Mennonite poet Elsie K. Neufeld. “Loft” was printed by Rhubarb magazine in January ’08; “Little Lamb” in Prairie Journal, November ’08. “Little Lamb” was also nominated for the McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize. “Dandelion Wine” and “Ashes” placed 3rd and 2nd, respectively, in the Okanagan Short Fiction Contest (University of British Columbia-Okanagan).

Born Darcie Coralee Sayler (1974) in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Darcie lived with her mother until she was thirteen, visiting her grandparents on their farm in Schoenfeld, SK, most weekends. She lived with her father in Calgary, then Kelowna, through high school, before marrying her high school sweetheart, Dean Hossack, when she was nineteen. Friesen, her mother’s maiden name, was chosen as a pen name to honour her Mennonite grandparents. She has a sister, Daphne, who’s responsible for a few of the best lines in Mennonites Don’t Dance (though neither sister can remember now which ones they are). The sisters also have a younger brother.

Though Darcie converted to the Seventh Day Adventist religion of her father’s family for several years, she returned to the Mennonite Brethren faith some time after beginning work on the stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance. Being Mennonite, with its accompanying experiences of farm and food, shaped much of the author’s deep faith and love of land (even though she’s never successfully grown anything in dirt). Growing up in cities, Darcie has never had to kill a chicken, though she’s plucked more than a few, and once brought a pig’s snout to school for show and tell.

Mennonites Don’t Dance has been both celebrated and censured in the diverse Mennonite community since its release. For the most part, though, it has been graciously received. When asked whether the stories are, in fact, thinly-veiled memoir, Darcie often replies, cryptically, that, “Sometimes the stories that are most true are also the most fictional.”

~

I met Dacie Hossack when we were both online students in the Humber School for Writers Programme … but we bonded on the student chat board! Those early exchanges involved discussions about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago.  We didn’t have the opportunity to meet in person until a number of years later, when Darcie published Mennonites Don’t Dance and came to Calgary for promotion. I wrote about that encounter here on my blog in the post, I met my best friend for the first time (which still stands today as the second-most popular post on my blog, after one I wrote on making pizza in a pizza oven …) I also posted a photo essay of that day with writing pals because we met with other authors and did some fun foodie things, like visit a chocolate shop where Darcie posed with the sacks of cocoa beans piled up behind the front counter.


And about that food connection … Darcie and her Chef-Husband were always interested in my food escapades and experiments whenever I was back on Bequia, and I helped when she received a request from a reader for an extra-sour sourdough recipe – then wrote about it on her own food blog, Nice Fat Gurdie!
~

Mennonites Don’t Dance

This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together. Darcie Friesen Hossack’s stories in Mennonites Don’t Dance offer an honest, detailed look into the experiences of children—both young and adult — and their parents and grandparents, exploring generational ties, sins, penance and redemption.

Taking place primarily on the Canadian prairies, the families in these stories are confronted by the conflict between tradition and change — one story sees a daughter-in-law’s urban ideals push and pull against a mother’s simple, rural ways, in another, a daughter raised in the Mennonite tradition tries to break free from her upbringing to escape to the city in search of a better life. Children learn the rules of farm life, and parents learn that their decisions, in spite of all good intentions, can carry dire consequences.

Hossack’s talent, honed through education and experience, is showcased in this polished collection, and is reflected in the relatable, realistic characters and situations she creates. The voices in the stories speak about how we measure ourselves in the absence of family, and how the most interesting families are always flawed in some way.

Here’s a link to the review written by Jim Bartley that appeared in The Globe and Mail in Feb. 2011.

What Darcie Hossack is working on now:  Darcie’s first (in progress) novel, What Looks In, visits both Mennonite and Seventh Day Adventist faiths, as they clash and intertwine, before and after the loss of a family member. As in Mennonites Don’t Dance, the pages are not without their fill of food.

For information on where to purchase Darcie Hossack’s book, please click on the Thistledown Press website.

 

Best Books Read in 2016 – Part 2

In Part 1, I listed all the Indie-Authored Books I had read this year that I considered to be the Best Books I Read in 2016.

During 2016, I was fortunate to read many other books, traditionally published, that I considered to be excellent. Some authors I list here are new-to-me and were recommended by reader friends – who definitely did not steer me wrong! Other authors are long-time favourites, some who I have promoted on Reading Recommendations and this blog (links to those promotions are included here), and a few are personal friends who I have known for many years in real life and whose writing I have always enjoyed.

These books are not listed in any particular order at all, but every one receives at least a 5-star rating from me.

So I give you Part 2 of the Best Books I Read in 2016!

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A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, Brett-Marie Was Here
by Fredrik Backman
Without a doubt, Backman is one of the very best “discoveries” in years! Not only are all three novels good, the writing is consistently good and I am now a fan for life, eagerly waiting for the next book by this author to be translated into English and available to read. If I were to rate books, I would give this author 11 stars on a scale of 10.

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Running Toward Home and Odd One Out by Betty Jane Hegerat
I recently reread Running Toward Home, Betty Jane’s first published novel, and read her new novel, Odd One Out, shortly after it was released. As with everything Betty Jane writes, i enjoyed both immensely!

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
Sadly, this was his final book as Doig died earlier this year. He had long been one of my favourite authors.

Brief Encounters by Brian Brennan

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
I reread this important book on writing and wrote a blog post about it.

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What’s Left Behind by Gail Bowen
The 16th book in Bowen’s Joanne Kilbourn novels and I have every one! I was Gail’s sales rep for the first book way back in the early 90s.

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift

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Mennonites Don’t Dance by Darcie Friesen Hossack, published by Thistledown Press
I reread this book recently and it’s now available as an eBook. Darcie and I first “met” online when we were students in the Humber School of Creative Writing, but did not meet in person until she published this collection of short stories in 2010.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

The Ballroom by Anna Hope

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Well-deserved winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Number 6 in the Department Q series of crime novels by an accomplished Danish author. I’ve read them all and am eagerly awaiting the next in the series.

In the Woods (series) by Tana French
I thought so highly of the writing of this first novel by French that I immediately read the next three in the Dublin Murder Squad series and have the fifth book on hold at the library.

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The Three Sisters Bar & Hotel by Katherine Govier

Nutshell by Ian McEwan
McEwan is another long-time faourite author who never disappoints. With this book, I think he may win the award for “Most Unusual Narrator Ever”! (AND … I just discovered Ian and I share the same birthday, June 21st!)

Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: an organizing guide by Daniel Hunter
I received a free download of this book and found it a fascinating read on organizing activists. An excellent book for these current times …

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The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee
Lewis and I not only worked at similar jobs during our careers (bookseller, sales rep, writer), we repped the same publisher at the same time during the 1990s! The link above will take you to the blog post I wrote about Lewis and his book.

And here’s a link to Part 3 in this series.

Popular posts … Who knew?

For the longest time now, since about 5 or 6 years ago, the two most popular phrases used on search engines that have brought people to my blog are “baking bread in a pizza oven” followed closely by “meeting my best friend for the first time”. Here are the two posts that those searchers click on: Baking Bread in the Pizza Oven and I met my best friend for the first time.

The first search always made sense to me, because home pizza ovens are becoming popular among foodies, Dennis had built one here on Bequia, and I had written a number of blog posts featuring our experiments in using it, both for making pizza and baking bread.

The second search I always took as being very flattering. There seemed to be a lot of people out there on the internet who were nostalgic for that first meeting with a best friend in their own lives and wanted to read about and enjoy my personal experience.

At least, that’s what I thought … until recently, when those same search words came up with “writing an essay about …” attached to them. Then I saw a site link attached to those searches, and noticed that some of my hits and views were being directed from – a writing instruction site!! So, instead of being flattered, I became worried those students could be plagiarizing my essay and turning it in as their own work. I considered taking down the post altogether.

But then I realized that my experience was uniquely my own, and perhaps these students were being sent to my sight to read an example of how to write about meeting your best friend for the first time. (Oh, how we can delude ourselves at times …)

So I decided to leave things as they were and write this post about my findings instead. Perhaps … just perhaps, one or two of those students have come to my blog, read that post and more, have liked what they read and became subscribers. That’s a big “perhaps”, I know, but we can always hope the intentions that bring readers to read our work are ultimately good.

And maybe there’s an online writing instructor out there who actually did find my blog post to be a compelling example of how to write an essay about meeting your best friend for the first time, so much so they are recommending that all their students check out my blog!

And here’s the subject of that original blog – Darcie Friesen Hossack!

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Five years since … I met my best friend for the first time – Feb. 9, 2010

This is a post I wrote in Feb. 2010. I’m reposting it now, because I’ve noticed that, after “pizza ovens,” “meeting my best friend for the first time” is still the second-most popular phrase entered as a subject into search engines that brings readers to my blog. Curious, I thought. Then I checked the stats and this post has garnered 1982 views since it was first published on Feb. 9, 2010. There must be a lot of other people out there who are meeting their best friends for the first time!

Monday was a very good day – an historic day, I should add. In the same way as the meeting between Livingstone and Stanley, Lennon and McCartney, Lewis and Clark – okay, maybe I’m stretching this a bit here, but bear with me… For me, this was definitely a significant turning point in my life, to finally meet, in person, the person I’ve long considered my best email writing friend, but had never had the opportunity to actually meet.

Darcie Hossack and I “met” online for the first time on the Humber student discussion board. Those early exchanges involved talking about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly, Firefly – oh, yes, and writing, too. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago. During the past four years (now seven!!), we’ve offered each other advice, editing, encouragement, connections, and confidence that what we write, and the way we’re writing it, is not only good, but will eventually be published. I’m so proud that Darcie is first this fall with a collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance, to be published by Thistledown. **Update – Here’s Darcie’s book on a playdate with mine, which I have since published, as well!

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And read this terrific review by Jim Bartley Of MDD that appeared in The Globe & Mail.

But we’ve also been collaborating all this time on another idea. I don’t think it’s stretching things too much to say that we complement each other. And that’s what best friends should do, right?

So meeting Darcie, finally, yesterday was just a matter of putting a physical presence to someone I felt I have really known all along. And now I have the added bonus of being able to hear her voice when I read emails she writes to me. She’s no longer my imaginary friend. But she is still my best writing friend!

Thanks, Darcie!

(And here’s the addition of a photo essay I posted not long after that day.)

Home and a sense of belonging

My writing pal, Lisa McGonigle, published an article, In It For the Long Haul, in the Feb. 2012 issue of The Fernie Fix about her long-distance lifestyle. I met Lisa several years ago at the Fernie Writers’ Conference, before she published Snowdrift, and I’ve followed her travels since that time.

This particular article resonated with me because, although my travels have not been as far-flung as Lisa’s, I have maintained two residences, one in Calgary and the other in Bequia, and spent these past five years flying back and forth between the two. Most of my worldly possessions have remained at the house in the Caribbean, along with the cats and Dennis, while I’ve moved around between Calgary apartments to house-sitting situations, accumulating more stuff in an attempt to make a home for myself in the city where I actually worked. Because of the nature of my business, I was able to manage three trips to Bequia every year, usually during their off-season. I told myself I didn’t mind the Calgary winters – really – and I was able to build a good business as well as an extensive network of friends and colleagues that always made me feel “at home” again every time I returned to Canada.

Unfortunately, my circumstances changed in the fall of 2012 and I decided to return to Bequia – at least for the winter months – and reassess my business and my life. I gave away most of what I’d accumulated over those five years, stored the rest in a locker as well as with several friends, and flew off at the end of November. (I have Vincentian citizenship, so I am allowed to stay there indefinitely. And the immigrataion and customs agents usually say, “Welcome home!” upon my arrival. I never hear that from Canadian officials.)

The plan was always to come back in April, because I had committed to giving a presentation at a Calgary library on the 12th. I’m also planning on attending my high school reunion in Toronto in May. I figured 7 weeks was lots of time to see everyone I needed, and wanted, to see and to visit with family.

The reality is, though, that Thomas Wolfe was right: You Can’t Go Home Again. Or once gone, easily forgotten? I feel as though I no longer belong in Calgary. People are too busy; appointments and dates are being cancelled; all plans I made previous to the trip have suddenly dissolved. It’s left me wondering why I’ve come back.

But then I never felt as though I belonged on Bequia either while I was there over the winter.

So now I really wonder where home is for me. Sometimes I think it’s in the air, on a plane, somewhere between Calgary and Bequia. If I were Lisa’s age (which is about half of mine), I would consider a new start in a brand new place, creating a new life for myself. New horizons, new possibilities.

But I find I’m too old for that now, so I’ll have to be content to live vicariously through Lisa as she continues on with the adventures of her own life. And create and invent reality in my mind by writing stories.

… when you remember that You are the author of Your own Life story, You enter into the beautiful process of becoming, as You should be, the author of Your own life, the creator of Your own possibilities …
Mandy Aftel

(And here’s another article about Lisa written by our mutual writing pal, Darcie Friesen Hossack.)

From the archives – I met my best friend for the first time … – Feb. 9, 2010

This is a repost from 2010. I’m posting it now, because I’ve noticed that, after “pizza ovens,” “meeting my best friend for the first time” is the second-most popular phrase entered as a subject into search engines that brings readers to my blog. Curious, I thought. Then I checked the stats and this post has garnered 816 views since it was first published on Feb. 9, 2010. There must be a lot of other people out there who are meeting their best friends for the first time!

Monday was a very good day – an historic day, I should add. In the same way as the meeting between Livingstone and Stanley, Lennon and McCartney, Lewis and Clark – okay, maybe I’m stretching this a bit here, but bear with me… For me, this was definitely a significant turning point in my life, to finally meet, in person, the person I’ve long considered my best email writing friend, but had never had the opportunity to actually meet.

Darcie Hossack and I “met” online for the first time on the Humber student discussion board. Those early exchanges involved talking about food, specifically white chocolate and berry scones and an exchange of recipes, if I remember correctly, Firefly – oh, yes, and writing, too. We quickly realized that while we come from different backgrounds, are separated in age by a couple of decades and (at that time) several thousand miles physically – not to mention that Darcie’s writing is leaps-and-bounds more accomplished than mine, we definitely clicked, and became fast friends all those years ago. During the past four years (now seven!!), we’ve offered each other advice, editing, encouragement, connections, and confidence that what we write, and the way we’re writing it, is not only good, but will eventually be published. I’m so proud that Darcie is first this fall with a collection of short stories, Mennonites Don’t Dance, to be published by Thistledown. **Update – Here’s Darcie’s book on a playdate with mine, which I have since published, as well!

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And read this terrific review by Jim Bartley Of MDD that appeared in The Globe & Mail.

But we’ve also been collaborating all this time on another idea. I don’t think it’s stretching things too much to say that we complement each other. And that’s what best friends should do, right?

So meeting Darcie, finally, yesterday, was just a matter of putting a physical presence to someone I felt I have really known all along. And now I have the added bonus of being able to hear her voice when I read emails she writes to me. She’s no longer my imaginary friend. But she is still my best writing friend!

Thanks, Darcie!

From the archives – More Than 2-Raisin Bread for Rodger – Apr. 10, 2010

I realized I haven’t written much lately about food … but then I haven’t been cooking a great deal either. So I decided to pull another post from the archives for today. And, hey! I actually feel like baking some bread now!

Not long after I arrived on Bequia this time, our neighbour, Rodger, had a special request: Would I make raisin bread that had more than just two rainsins in each loaf? He said he’d been buying the local bread in town, but was disappointed with the miserly amount of raisins included. I told him I knew of just the recipe for that, but needed to contact Darcie Hossack as she had published it earlier in a food column. When I made this bread that first time, Rose and her crew were here at the house working for a few days to varnish all the railings on the verandah. The smell of cinnamon and baking bread nearly drove the crew nuts, so when I offered to share they knocked off one entire loaf in about 10 minutes. Everyone agreed with Dennis and me that it was the best Raisin Bread they’d ever had. What’s not to like, though, about home-baked bread fresh out of the oven?

When I asked Darcie for the recipe again the other day, because I had left my printed copy in Calgary, she couldn’t remember how long ago it had been since she’d published that particular column. At least two years, I figured, because it was certainly before I moved back to Calgary in 2008. Turns out it was four years ago, when we were still both enrolled in the Humber programme. Time flies! And I’ve only ever made this recipe that one time. I have a feeling that if Rodger loves these loaves as much as Rose’s crew did that day, I’ll be baking many more for him to store in his freezer before I leave here in a couple of weeks.

Blogs, articles, reviews, videos, inspiration, and a boot in the seat of the pants!

From Islam Abudaoud

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From The Atlantic Wire
What Kind of Book Reader Are you?

From Off the Shelf Book Promotions
How to Build a Great Relationship With Your Local Bookstore

From Anne R. Allen’s Blog
Self-Editing 101 – 13 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Opening Chapter

From Masters in English
100 Essential Sites for Voracious Readers

From HuffPost Books
Omission, Insanity, and Half-Truths: Unreliable Narrators in Literature

From Kill Zone
What My Cat Has Taught Me About Writing

A review of Lisa McGonigle’s Snowdrift (and a recipe!) by Darcie Friesen Hossack, author of Mennonites Don’t Dance From Ski Bum to PhD

From Good eReader
The Digital Book Club – Long Neglected by Major eBook Companies

From Seth Godin
Hooked on Hacking Life

From Open Book Toronto
At the Desk: Ann Ireland

Some humour from GalleyCat
Performance Enhancing Drugs of the Literary World

From MetaFilter
The 100 best mystery novels of all time

From Glenn Dixon, a book trailer promoting his soon-to-be-released
Tripping the World Fantastic: a journey through the music of our planet

Lucky Larry the Lobster – revisited

(Since we enjoyed a lobster dinner on New Year’s Day at Tommy’s on Bequia yesterday, I thought I would repost this story I wrote about lobster, originally published to this blog on Mar. 1, 2010.)

My good friend, Darcie Hossack, writes a weekly food column that appears in Kamloops This Week. She’s sometimes in need of ideas, and occasionally will turn to me, or more specifically, something I’ve written to her, for inspiration. Case in point is this column from Feb. 19th, which I snagged off the internet… and have reprinted here with her permission.

Kamloops This Week
Quick dip didn’t delay quicker dip in butter
By Darcy Hossack – Kamloops This Week

Published: February 19, 2010 8:00 AM
Updated: February 19, 2010 8:58 AM

Q: I read your column online from my home in the Caribbean (Bequia) and thought you’d enjoy a story about a lobster that recently got a short reprieve from becoming our dinner.

I’d spent all afternoon baking bread in the pizza oven — mostly baguettes.

Some were for the Tommy Cantina restaurant, so I suggested Pammy, the owner, stop by and stay for a drink.

“Can’t. The trunk’s full of live out-of-water lobsters. They’re tonight’s special.”

I thought for a moment.

“But the pool is salt water. Toss them in. That’ll keep them happy. Besides, it’s only sporting to allow them one last wallow of freedom.”

I dumped the lobsters into the pool, then joined Pam and my partner, Dennis, at the rum shack (fancy name for pool cabana) to make and consume Painkillers.

“I think they’re frolicking,” I said, glancing at the dark pile-up forming in the deep end.

“More like safety in numbers,” Dennis said, laughing.

It turned out releasing the lobsters into the water was much easier than packing them back into the car.

These aren’t the claw-wielding North Atlantic variety, but they still pose a problem by living up to their name of Spiny.

But what they lack in claw meat is more than compensated for by an extra-long tail and sweeter flavour.

After Pammy and the lobsters drove away, we noticed one had managed to escape by tucking itself away in shadows of the pool’s far corner.

Lucky Larry.

I phoned Pammy, who suggested we keep him “in exchange for these scrumptious baguettes – I’ve already scarfed one.”

So, while I fired up the barbecue and mixed mayonnaise with a dollop of Erica’s Country Style Pepper Sauce, Dennis sharpened his cutlass.

One deft swing split Lucky Larry down the middle, dispatching him with a speedier and more merciful death than plunging him head-first into a boiling lobster pot, and thereby transforming him into dinner for two.

It seemed Larry’s luck had run out. But we believe he died a noble death.

Lucky us!

By the way, splitting and grilling is usually the way everyone cooks lobster on Bequia.

We slather the meat with melted butter and grill the halves meat side down.

The chef at Tommy Cantina had the absolutely brilliant idea to fill the empty cavity (from where the guts are removed) with stuffing and the restaurant serves lobster halves as well as turkey for Christmas, New Year’s, and American Thanksgiving.

I personally prefer butter or mayo with lots of garlic.

— Susan from Bequia

A: With regrets whenever we see people cracking into their big red sea bugs and sucking buttery meat out of giant claws, we’ve never been seafood folk.

It’s unfortunate, too, because the plastic bibs are really cute.

On the other hand, anything featuring butter and garlic, or mayonnaise and garlic, is worthy of attention.

And so, for everyone who’s going to be salivating over the thought of dear, departed Larry (to say nothing of eating said Larry in the Caribbean), we thought we’d end your story with a pair of recipes.

Spiny lobsters may not be on the menu this far north, but we’re sure there are some smooth ones out there, just ready to be macheted in half, grilled and served with garlic.

Garlic butter, mayo

Garlic butter:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 tsp minced garlic

2 tbs freshly grated parmesan

Beat together butter with garlic and parmesan. Place in a butter warmer to melt and hold before dipping and slathering.

Garlic mayonnaise (Aioli):

3 large cloves garlic, minced

three finger pinch of coarse kosher or sea salt

1 large egg yolk at room temperature

juice from 1/2 lemon

1 cup virgin olive oil

fresh ground pepper

Into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, add garlic and salt. Pulse for just a couple of seconds. Add egg yolk and lemon juice, pulsing until blended.

Turn processor to “on” and gradually add olive oil in a constant, thin stream, until all of the oil has been added and mixture is emulsified. Season to taste with pepper and, if necessary, more salt.

Darcie Hossack is a food & fiction writer. Dean Hossack is an internationally award-winning chef and former member of Culinary Team BC. Send your questions about food and cooking to onepotato2potato@shaw.ca

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