Tag Archives: Hazel Hutchins
This is the fourth 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. Here are links to Part 2 and Part 3. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)
David Poulsen created a YouTube video for his reading of his book, I Wish I Could Be Like Tommy Blake. As David says on his website: Because it’s written for the little guys, we always have a lot of fun with the character (who like me) wants to be like the cool kid in the school, and, of course, Ron Desnoyers’ amazing illustrations are hugely popular as well. I thought that with kids forced to miss school, sports and a whole lot of other activities, this might be a good time to have some fun with me reading the book exactly like I do in schools.
Hazel Hutchins has also created a video in which she reads from her new book, The Truth About Wind. Publisher Annick Press says of the book: Co-author Hazel Hutchins reads her new picture book The Truth About Wind. A story filled with imagination and the importance of telling the truth even if that means letting go of something you love. And Hazel says: I love the way the new book turned out! But it’s a difficult time everywhere and please know that the globe in the background is placed there purposefully, just as a small note of acknowledgment and support.
I have handed in my new manuscript. It’s fiction, entitled DECEPTIONS but that may change as we go along the editing process. It’s scheduled to be published next March but, as you know, there are very few certainties in today’s Covid-ridden world. I have been reading a great deal, doing some reviewing, and serving on the jury for the National Business Book Awards (more reading). Yes, some ZOOM meetings and FaceTime – not sure which app I hate the most. I am also doing some interviews still with Hungarian media for the Forbes edition of Buying a Better World, my book about George Soros and his foundations. I find that speaking relatively intelligent Hungarian is a huge challenge. I also give some editorial and publishing advice online but do not charge for it because I don’t want it to become a professional service (been there, done that). Love your posts about Bequia! (Thanks, Anna!)
Thanks so much for all you do. You really are a dynamo.
I spent the first few weeks of the pandemic adrift. My thoughts scattered to the wind. The only thing I could grasp onto was the endless loop of bad news, which only compounded the feeling of helplessness. People dying and sickened, people losing their livelihoods, companies failing. Writing felt inconsequential in comparison. My creativity flagged along with my energy. It wasn’t until I saw pictures of the skies clearing over the Great Wall of China and dolphins returning to Italy’s waterways that I was finally able to break free of the negative hold the pandemic had on me. That silver lining, fragile as it might be, helped me find shore again and anchored me.
But I didn’t get back to writing immediately. First I got busy in the garden. There’s something primal about digging in the soil and nurturing plants that soothes me. I also got busy cleaning. The house and yard have never looked so good, and that too, soothes me. And then I tackled a few projects that had been on my to-do list for a couple of years. It took all of that to make me feel like I was in control again. Best of all, my energy came back online and my imaginator kicked in.
I’m still not writing anything more substantial than blog posts, but I’m back to working on the outline for my next book. In addition, I’m scribbling out ideas for a short Christmas story. I’ve taken our local writers’ group of twenty + members online with ZOOM, and my volunteer work on the board of our local Activity Centre, Gym, and Museum has also gone online.
I’m loving ZOOM. Even after this pandemic is over, I won’t be giving it up. In fact, I’ve joined two other authors in a weekly share and brainstorming session. My critique group, also three authors, are local and we’re planning a proper socially-distant meeting on my deck with a glass of wine in the very near future.
I’m reading more and tuning into webinars and live training sessions and learning new skills. Our small island community has pulled together. We’re buying as much as we can locally, but when one of us has to go off island, we shop for as many other people as we can manage. I shopped for six of us at Costco a few weeks ago – could barely push the cart up to the till. In that sense, COVID19 has brought us closer.
This pandemic has been difficult, and it’s not over yet. The future is unsteady for all of us. It takes effort every day to stay positive. Keeping the news loop at bay helps, as does this super supportive writing community. So thank you all, and especially Susan, who’s a ray of sunshine on the darkest days. XO (Thanks, Jo-Anne!)
Please join me for two programmes:
In the third week of July for a one-week online Meditation and Writing Retreat at the Summer Writing School, University of Toronto.
A two-week intensive on Mindfulness and Writing for Discipline & Productivity this July. Time=Life. Learn to master time and live life in accordance with your values and aspirations.
I hate to admit how much work I’ve done these past weeks. But the time has been good, and writing is a distraction from any anxiety… it makes the time feel to have some worth.
So here is my update:
I have been WRITING!
Of course, my teaching moved to being online, but I have taught online before…so it really was about switching modes, and being there to support the students…many of whom have not worked online before. And then grades went in.
Here’s an article I wrote for The Writing Cooperative: Optimal Writing Time: Making time — micro and macro — work for you
In addition to working on a novel for adults, I have been writing short pieces, articles—for Medium—something I’ve not done before—and also for a small number of calls for submissions. I was so pleased to have a story win Sub-Terrain’s Lush Triumphant fiction prize this year, and have been enjoying “writing short” while working on the novel. While I can’t imagine working on more than one long (deep!) project at a time, I feel a need to work long and short simultaneously. It’s an old habit, to deal with writer’s block, and to make use of time (an urge borne of the busy time of raising three children). In the midst of this pandemic time, I have also had another book for young children accepted—a book of sacred texts, a “lectio divina” for children. The research for this project was an amazing journey into so many faiths. As I age, I am finding even more pleasure in setting myself down self-chosen research paths
After having a number of readings and presentations cancelled—as have we all—I have been busy with ZOOM promotion, most recently for All Lit Up, and a woman from the ALS Society in Texas, who has put together an amazing book club every Thursday evening for ALS Awareness Month. I am also taking part in a written Q&A for the Vancouver Writers’ Fest Newsletter. I am so grateful for these opportunities to share my work. And most grateful for this opportunity too, Susan!
It’s wonderful to have you doing this work on our behalf. I am truly grateful.
Here’s what I’ve been doing during the last eight weeks of self-isolation:
First, I’ve been sorting my papers and tossing them by the ton, or else piling them for shredding, whenever I can make that happen, or putting them in neat piles with labels for the millions of hungry scholars who will descend on them – hah hah – for what, I don’t actually know except that throwing them out is just not in me. I’m leaving that up to my son and heir.
Second, I discovered that the difficult and unusual (for me) novel I’d been researching and had begun writing when COVID-19 hit does not respond to my efforts to woo it into compliance. I have had to put it on hold for now. The reason, or the additional reason for this, is that almost at once a great idea for a COVID-19 novel hit me, and like a wood tick, burrowed in, would not let go, until I finally wrote a hundred pages of it. Then I had to stop to gather my thoughts, such as they are, and try to find a way to put the next hundred or so pages into my computer. I hope to start writing Part Two tomorrow. In the meantime, I have written a short magazine piece about the pandemic (500 words) and an essay to go at the end of my as yet unpublished essay collection: This Strange Visible Air.
Third, I have had four literary engagements cancelled or postponed, three of which will (eventually one hopes) still take place in the fall and that will earn me in total a couple of thousand, maybe. I haven’t really been worrying about my writing income because I get OAS and CPP and have a bit of money otherwise – a sadly diminishing pile, though. My heart bleeds for anybody whose entire income is from writing. It’s criminal what’s been done to Canadian writers in terms of income. And just today I got myself a judging gig for summer – one literary competition – with some financial compensation.
Fourth, my agent, Marilyn Biderman at TLA, Freehand Books and I have signed an agreement and I am now a Freehand author. This had to be done because my previous publisher, Coteau Books of Regina went bankrupt in late February. Season of Fury and Wonder will be back in print shortly. In the meantime, copies of it must be floating around in bookstores and libraries. I’m very happy about this, and have always been a big admirer of Freehand and I count myself lucky. That collection, by the way, was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Prize and the Georges Bugnet Fiction prize. With the bankruptcy I was afraid it was simply dead in the water, but nope, Butala rises again, like the phoenix! (Definitely a joke.)
And, finally for this 4th post of updates, this is the way I like to see things work with all the authors I promote …
Mike Robbins, on his blog, had reviewed the latest novel, Eternity Began Tomorrow, by Kevin Brennan. Then Kevin returned the favour on his blog with a shout-out and a review of Mike’s collection of novellas, Three Seasons.
Now Kevin has just announced that the paperback edition of Eternity Began Tomorrow is available to purchase!
I asked Kevin if he would send me a calming and peaceful photo from one of his walks that I could post here and he said: You could show the nice people this pic of a hiking destination Sue and I made it to recently. Didn’t see another soul, and it was utterly gratifying. Now that they’ve reopened the parks, places like this are packed. (Below is the Middle Fork of the American River, just a stone’s throw from our house.)
After I posted to my blog yesterday, Dear Author … thank you for writing!, with the recommendation that readers take this time of self-isolation to write to their favourite authors, I received the following letter via email:
This was written by Nzarah Trimminham, my young NYC friend as I call her, who visits her grandparents on Bequia every year. Nzarah is a great reader and lover of books and no stranger to my blogs, having appeared in two posts previously … She was the first reader to answer the question “What are you reading?” on my blog of the same name, and Nzarah also appeared as a “guest reader” (swinging in that same hammock, or “hanmik” she mentions in my fan letter!) when I promoted Hazel Hutchins as part of the Authors-Readers International series.
And, as if that wasn’t enough of a connection, Nzarah’s “Granny in Bequia” is my friend and fellow author, Felicity Harley, who I have promoted a number of times on my blogs, and most recently on the Authors-Readers International series, as well!
It was Felicity who sent me Nzarah’s letter, since the entire family is currently self-isolating together OUTSIDE OF New York City where Nzarah usually lives with her mother. I have been sharing various sites and podcasts with them about books and reading so that Nzarah can continue with her studies during this time. As Felicity wrote when she sent the letter:
She was required to write a letter to someone. I suggested her Granny in Mustique, but she picked you and thought it up herself and wrote it. She’s in kindergarten and just learning to read and write – she’s a great reader. So glad you love it – I do too. Isn’t the tiny hammock so sweet!
So THANK YOU, NZARAH!!! My reading buddy, you have made me so very happy with your kind thoughts and words! I like to think you mean I am an amazing reader/writer! (“ridte”) I’ll take that compliment! The rat and cat book – “Strat and Chatto” – will be here for you on Bequia to read again when you next come back to visit. The hammock will still be hanging and, I hope, the cats and I will still be here, too! Until next time, My Friend!
But, in the meantime, I just have to ask … WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Your Bequia Friend,
I was born and raised on farms in southern Alberta, Canada. My family was kind and loving but, as the youngest by several years, I spent quite a bit of time on my own. For those times I invented two imaginary friends, Juty and Barrett. And I remember how excited I was to be a flower girl at my aunt’s wedding!
I loved the many animals on the farm – cows, chickens, baby crows, rabbits, wild ducks (including one who took a swim in our bathtub!) and the burrowing owls we watched while lying in the prickly prairie grass. I also loved my pony.
And I loved books. My mom read to us every night. My dad recited dramatic poetry. When I began to read on my own, some of my favourites were Just Mary Stories, Little House on the Prairies and The Dana Sisters Mysteries. Already I knew I wanted to be a writer.
That feeling took a huge leap forward in grade seven when I began to read all kinds of amazing literature written for adults. The words of those authors formed my sense of how truly wonderful the written word can be; how powerfully it can convey ideas, enlarge one’s world and touch one’s heart.
Ever since that time, I have always written stories of one kind or another. I’ve been interested in many other things too–science, history, psychology, drama. After a few years at University of Calgary, I moved to live with a wonderful husband in the mountains. We hiked, biked, skied, canoed and enjoyed the outdoors in all kinds of ways. We also raised three great kids, now all adults with lives of their own.
More than a few years have passed. I still spend part of every day strolling along one trail or another, just because I enjoy being outside. I still find all kinds of amazing books to read, all kinds of subjects to research.
And I still love to write.
Hazel Hutchins is another author I met because I was her sales rep for the novel After when it was published in 2008. And since she was living close to Calgary, in Canmore, I often had reason to visit her there when passing through on sales trips, or later when I set up Alberta Books Canada and was attending library conferences being held in the area. I could always count on Hazel to offer me a place to stay, a delicious dinner, a walk along the side of the Bow River, and a rousing game of Scrabble … although she never actually let me win! I still consider Hazel to be a good friend; she’s been very encouraging about my books (even attended an event in Canmore in which I was taking part as an author!), and we always have lots to talk about whenever we do manage to get together. When Hazel published Anna at the Art Museum in 2018, I requested a signed copy and that was delivered to me in Bequia. My little New York Friend, Nzarah Trimmingham, was visiting at the time with her grandmother, author Felicity Harley, and she just loved the book, especially as she lives in the same city as the main character, Anna! (Nzarah was also my first guest on the blog, What Are You Reading?)
Here’s Nzarah, swinging in our hammock, enjoying Hazel’s book …
Going to the Art Museum with her mom is no fun at all for Anna. Everything is old and boring and there are so many rules: Don’t Touch! Do Not Enter! Quiet! A vigilant guard keeps a close eye on the energetic little girl, but even so, Anna manages to set off an alarm and almost tip over a vase.
A half-open door draws Anna’s attention, but the No Entry sign means yet again that it’s off-limits. This time, however, the guard surprises her by inviting her to go in. Here she finds a “secret workshop” where paintings are being cleaned and repaired. Staring out from one of the canvases is a girl who looks grumpy and bored—just like Anna herself. With the realization that art often imitates life, Anna discovers the sheer joy to be had from the paintings on the wall, especially those that reflect what is happening all around her.
Filled with representations of paintings from many world-class galleries, this charming book is the perfect prelude to a child’s first visit to an art museum.
For more information about Hazel Hutchins, her books and writings, her presentations and school visits, and for an explanation of how she writes, please see her website.
Hazel Hutchins was also a guest on my blog Reading Recommendations on April 25, 2015.
Keeping with my Stampede theme, since the annual Calgary Stampede – which is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year! – is still running until Sunday evening, I’m recommending a book of horse cartoons that was recently published by Dave Elston of Calgary, and a novel for teens written by Hazel Hutchins of Canmore.
I know some of you hockey and sport aficionados will be scratching your heads, saying, “Hey, isn’t he the guy who used to be the Sports Cartoonist??” During the 90’s, Dave’s cartoons were syndicated in local Calgary newspapers as well as national and North American publications, and featured on TV on Hockey Night in Canada and TSN. When he retired, he became manager of horse stables west of Calgary and, after years of observation, he has now put together a collection of horse cartoons that get at the very essence of equines – as any horse lover will completley understand and agree!
Published by Dave Elston
$1 from every book sold will be donated to the Cochrane and area Humane Society
Since Dave’s book is really just for viewing, I thought I would include another this week for your reading pleasure, so I suggest Hazel Hutchins’ book for teens, After, in which horses figure greatly. Hazel grew up on a farm east of Calgary, in Strathmore, Alberta, and has been a rider all her life. She definitely “gets” Dave’s cartoons! In this novel, two teens lives are connected by a shooting at a local convenience store. While the book was written for teens, it is equally appealing to adult readers.
Published by Smith, Bonappetit
Distributed by Second Story Press, Toronto