Thursday, May 6, 2010

Globe and Mail to publish Dolores Kivi's essay "The Glasgow Photograph"

Dolores Kivi, a freelance writer based in Thunder Bay, writes with wonderful news that The Globe and Mail has accepted her essay "A Soldier's Portrait" for publication in its "Facts and Arguments" section on Friday, May 7, 2010. (See the online version here: A Soldier's Portrait.)

Says Dolores: "One should never hesitate to carry out a potentially kind deed even if it involves a bit of work. In 2005, with pending major surgery, I had realized that I had two photographs of Second World War soldiers - soldiers to whom I had written for several years but had never met either before or after the war. As a nurse I realized that no surgery is without risk and it seemed a shame for my children to probably be tossing out perfectly preserved (in my album) studio photographs because they meant nothing to them.

"With a lot of luck, because they had uncommon names for this area and because I knew the soldiers had originally come back to what is now Thunder Bay, I started searching for descendents. Both had stories to tell me but for one the story was exceptional and the photograph was - if I may be so bold as to say it - far more than the word 'appreciated' can convey.

"I wrote the first drafts of the story last year after I had spoken to the principal descendant, and received encouragement to write it; he saw the draft before submission."

Former workshopper Dolores Kivi pens a weekly column for Thunder Bay's The Chronicle-Journal for COPA (Council on Positive Aging). This will be her second "Facts and Arguments" essay. Read as well her essay "About Writing" (archived on this blog April 25, 2008) by clicking here: About Writing, by Dolores Kivi.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sabino Springs Writers' Retreat, Tucson, Arizona, January 2011

Journeys and Discoveries: Writing From Your Life
Sabino Springs Writers’ Retreat

Tucson, Arizona

January 22 to 28, 2011

Join editor and instructor Allyson Latta for this unique one-week retreat open to travel-loving writers of all ages. At Sabino Springs you’ll enjoy a series of entertaining and stimulating workshops and the opportunity to explore your own creative writing, while taking in sunshine, desert and mountain scenery, and irresistible Arizona culture.

Interested in developing your memoirs, or using life experiences to enrich your fiction or other writing? This retreat could be the inspiration you need.

Relax in shared accommodation at the luxurious Casitas, with views of the Santa Catalina Mountains and the fairways of the Arizona National Golf Club. Condos are over 1200 square feet and feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms, state-of-the-art kitchen, dining area, great room with queen-size pullout couch, and outdoor patio. There’s also a heated outdoor pool, hot tub and fitness centre. Our workshop venue is a 15-minute walk away at host Gail Rudyk’s welcoming Southwestern-style home.

Registration fee covers 7 nights’ accommodation, most meals, 12 hours of workshops, 1 private consult with Allyson, a Q&A session with a Tucson-based literary publisher, group activities such as an evening Reading Salon, and transportation for planned sightseeing.

Optional excursions include a tram-ride and hike in picturesque Sabino Canyon, a visit to Tanque Verde Dude Ranch, a trip to Colossal Cave Mountain Park, a guided tour of San Xavier del Bac Mission and historic downtown Tucson, lunch at the charming Arizona Inn and gardens ... and more. Use free time to focus on your own writing, commune with other writers, and re-energize in these beautiful surroundings.

Space is very limited and some workshop spots may be reserved by local writers. Accommodation availability is based on booking order. Contact Allyson at  for rates, Program, and Detail Sheet. For more about Allyson, visit the site for Days Road Writers Workshops.

Early-bird registration special: Register before August 15, 2010 [new date], and receive a written critique of one piece of writing (max. 2,000 words).

Writers' Community of Durham Region member discount: 10% off registration fee

Friday, April 16, 2010

Memoirist Mary McIntyre's poem accepted for publication

Guest post by Mary McIntyre

I fit my grandmother-sized brain into the head of an angry, frustrated teen. Why do that? you might ask. The exercise was in response to the Writers' Circle of Durham Region's broadcast email from Susie Berg of Pearson Educational Publishing. In the fall of 2009 the publisher was looking for poetry for their May/June edition of applied language arts, English 9-10, Poetry Module, "Live Lines." The topic: teens in family conflict, and the poem had to appeal to 15-year-olds, most of them boys, and could have no profanity. I threw on a "hoodie," slammed shut my office door, shoved iPod ear pieces into my ears, slouched in front of my computer, and wrote a poem titled "Ugly Like A Scar."

After a couple of months I received by email from a Pearson representative a permission request to include my poem in the textbook. It was then that I realized the scope of the edition: 45,000 copies (approx. 80 pages), 1,500 teacher guides, audio rights downloadable to MP3 player – 1,500 users (classrooms), and electronic rights, student password-protected website – 1,077 users (classrooms).

On receiving the news, I emitted a grandmotherly whoop of satisfaction, and as a former teacher, thought about the impact my poem might have on troubled teens. Then I switched gears and thought about the impact the publication offered to me as an emerging writer.

I solicited members of my writing group, Life Writers Ink, and Allyson Latta, Writing Coach, and Deborah Windsor, President of The Writers' Union of Canada, to learn about how I should handle the offer. With their help, I concluded the negotiation to my satisfaction.


MARY MCINTYRE has been published in Parry Sound's The Beacon newspaper, and won first prize in the 2008 Days Road Writers' Workshops memoir contest, for her short story "Scugog at Dark." In her forthcoming book, Washburn Island: A Memoir of Childhood, the strong ties of a British immigrant family are torn apart by a violent tragedy at Washburn Island, Lake Scugog, where several generations of her family summered for over thirty years.

Mary has participated in a number of Allyson Latta's workshops, live and online, since 2004.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mary Judith Ress's "Blood Flowers" honours sisters killed in 1980 in El Salvador

Mary Judith Ress is pleased to announce the publication of her novel Blood Flowers. Her publisher iUniverse has designated it an  "Editors' Choice." The book is available on and

Says Judy: "I have been writing this novel since 1983. It was inspired by the assassination of the four religious sisters in 1980 in El Salvador -- especially by the life of Ita Ford, who went from Chile to El Salvador as a missionary. I was a member of the mission team in El Salvador in those years, you see -- and two of the women killed were my "compaƱeras" -- one of them actually replacing me. So in a real way, this novel is to honour their memory. While it started out as an historical novel, in the end I concentrate more on the relationships among my characters -- always complex, always surprising."
Judy Ress is a journalist, editor and ecofeminist theologian, as well as a member of Santiago Writers, a Chile-based group founded by Canadian writers Ellen Hawkins and Susan Siddeley. Judy has previously published non-fiction; Blood Flowers is her first novel. She was a participant in my 2010 Santiago, Chile memoir workshops as part of Susan Siddeley's Los Parronales Writers' Retreat.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jane Boruszewski Based Novel "Escape from Russia" on Her Memoirs

Escape from Russia, a dramatic and inspirational memoir-based novel by Jane Boruszewski of Syracuse, New York, has been published by Pennywyse Press, and is now available on and

This announcement is a bittersweet one, because Jane did not live to see her book in print. Sadly, she passed away on August 1, 2009, at 82 years of age.

Born in Poland, Jane was just 13 years old in 1940, when following the invasion of her country by first Germany and then Russia, she and her family were deported to Siberia. Escape from Russia is a fictional rendering of their struggle to survive and transcend this harrowing ordeal.

Jane worked on early versions of some of the chapters in Escape from Russia while taking part in several of my online memoir workshops through Ryerson University between 2004 and 2006. Even in writing about the adversities she and her family had faced, Jane managed to weave threads of hope, love and faith. Her strength of spirit shone in her stories. I remember her fondly, as do her fellow students from those courses.

Some of Jane’s short stories, both memoirs and life-based fiction, also appeared in the annual anthology OASIS Journal, published by Imago Press of Tucson. Following her death, her husband, Walter Boruszewski, worked closely with Leila Joiner – editor of OASIS Journal, and publisher of Imago Press and Pennywyse Press – to produce Escape from Russia, a beautiful book that’s a tribute to the author's memory and her long-time love of writing.

“My mom had been writing all her life and she worked on this story for years,” says Jane and Walter’s daughter Linda. “My dad, in her honour, had the book self-published. It’s fiction, but a lot of it is true. I’m very proud of my mom for never giving up on it, and proud of my dad for making her dream come true.”

From a review on “This is a very simply written, yet powerful book written from the perspective of a young girl who, with her family, is taken from her homeland and deported to Siberia during World War II. It tells the story of the family’s deprivations and struggles to eventually return to Poland.... For all the suffering detailed throughout the book, the message that comes through is one of hope....” [Chuck Raynor]

The 2009 edition of OASIS Journal is dedicated to Jane Boruszewski.


More about OASIS Journal:

OASIS Journal is an annual anthology of short fiction, non-fiction including memoir, and poetry by writers age fifty and over. Produced in coordination with The OASIS Institute, a national non-profit organization in the U.S. that promotes ongoing education for seniors, OASIS Journal has showcased the work of older writers since 2002. Oasis Journal editions 2008 and 2009 are available at and The book currently runs approximately 350 pages. A contest is held each year for Best Fiction, Best Non-fiction, and Best Poetry with a $100 prize in each category. Prose submissions are limited to 5000 words. Original illustrations (both artwork and photographs) are also accepted for consideration if they accompany a poetry or prose submission. OASIS Journal considers entries from Canada. Submissions are accepted from May 1 to July 31 (postmark) each year, and are judged anonymously.

To obtain a 2010 submission form, write to anthology editor Leila Joiner, after May 1, at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Telling Life Stories, by Seymour Eliesen (Guest Blogger)

“Dad, I don’t really know you” began the conversation I had a few years back with Michael, my eldest son. This made me realize that I wanted to tell my children, grandchildren and the rest of my family about my life when I was a toddler, teenager, young adult, maturing parent, and now a senior. I wanted them to know what it was like for me. I needed to jump-start my memory.

I rented a tiny, secluded cabin appropriately named SHALOM, Hebrew for “peace.” The wooden structure was musty, without running water or electricity, and I loved it. My guests were a family of Canada Geese, chattering red squirrels, hummingbirds, blue jays, and a red fox that the owner told me was named Daisy Mae.

So on a warm day in July 2007, a bright sun beaming infrared rays into my body, I set up a folding table and chair in a field surrounded by yellow buttercups with the crystal waters of Aylen Lake on one side and the forest treeline on the other. I opened my coil-bound notebook, remembered to apply number 30 sunscreen, as I’m not stupid, and with pen in hand, I began to write. I wrote and wrote. I had a great time recording every memory I could recall.

In the middle of the afternoon, dark, ominous clouds appeared out of nowhere and within ten minutes a heavy downpour interrupted my writing. The thundershower was brief. To my pleasure, as the clouds moved to the west a beautiful double rainbow appeared. It seemed a sign to go on with my story.

I've continued to write about events I've experienced, people I've known, and what life was like for me "in the olden days." I've developed a real passion for Life Story Writing.

Telling stories has taken a number of forms for me. Some are primarily documentary in nature, recording various details of life and the times for posterity. Others are about aspects of my family background and heritage of which my children and grandchildren are not aware. My writings have become a learning and healing process and before I’m done I’ll write how I have grown from this. Some stories are quite personal, and may not be finished or shared for decades. My favourites, the ones that are the most fun to write, are vignettes of specific times, about the neighbourhood where I grew up, friends, happy occasions, sad ones, when I became a hippie, and then a farmer.

As I write, I'm finding that decorating the stories with photos, a family tree, old documents, recipes and whatever else strikes my fancy brings the level of my storytelling up a notch. I’ve gone to the Internet for some photos and artwork and I’ve researched libraries for other bits of information. I’ve interviewed cousins, former employers, business associates and friends. I had never thought that being involved in this task would give me so much satisfaction and enjoyment. To leave a legacy like this for my family makes me feel very proud of myself. There is an inner artist in me that I wasn't fully aware was there.

People ask if these stories are true. The answer to that question is yes, and the answer is also no. Sometimes my brother reads a story I've written and says, “That's not what happened at all.” I generally grin and reply, "Write your own story!"

These stories represent my memory of what happened and what the events meant to me. Therein lies their truth. In the end, the value of memories is the meaning they hold for us. But these are more than memories, they are stories. Beyond the twists of memory, storytellers learn not to let a few puny facts get in the way of a good tale.


Seymour Eliesen was born and raised in the 1940s in the St. Urbain Street district of Montreal. The first son of working class Jewish immigrants, he went to Baron Byng High School. At 15 he began a successful 52-year career in the apparel industry. He and his second wife, Lydia, were back-to-the-land organic farmers in the 1970s. Seymour is writing his memoirs as a gift to his children and grandchildren for his 75th birthday.

Seymour took part in my workshops at North York Central Library (memoir) and online (dialogue writing), and in February 2010 flew to Santiago, Chile, to participate in the two-week residential writers’ retreat workshops I led there: "Journeys and Discoveries: Writing from Your Life." His ever-present binder already brims with completed stories, drafts of others, photos and more, and the collection continues to evolve. This guest blog is the introduction to those stories.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Write Your Memoir in the Sun -- Writers' Retreat in Santiago, Chile - Feb 2010

Gazing out your window and dreaming of an escape from the winter chill ...? There's still time!

At LOS PARRONALES WRITERS' RETREAT in Santiago, Chile, you’ll be treated to sunshine, South American hospitality and culture, and, each morning, one of a series of entertaining and stimulating memoir-writing workshops. Journeys and Discoveries: Writing from Your Life, a two-week getaway open to writers of all ages, runs from February 7 to 21, 2010.

Los Parronales -- the name means "vineyards" -- is situated on a 60-hectare property with a spectacular view of vineyards and the Andean foothills. Fee includes 10 workshops, some one-on-one consultations with me, accommodation, meals and (Chilean, of course!) wine, transportation to and from airport, and accompanied excursions, such as one to the homes of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. (Airfare to and from Santiago is not included.)

Afternoons and evenings afford plenty of time for you to focus on your own writing; enjoy the facilities, which include a swimming pool and hiking trails (bring your camera); commune with others in your small group; or simply relax and soak in the bucolic surroundings. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet local writers with similar passions.

Canadians Gordon and Susan Siddeley are engaging hosts who have welcomed many returning writers to their Chilean residence. Journeys and Discoveries is their tenth retreat. Space is limited but there are still rooms available. Contact Susan at for details -- and to reserve your escape.

To view a flyer and more photos, click the link on the main page of this blog.

I look forward to seeing you there!


ALLYSON LATTA is an independent editor of award-winning literary fiction and non-fiction, and a writing instructor specializing in memoir. As a freelance editor she worked on The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon, which recently won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Several books she edited were selected for the 2009 “Globe Books 100.” She teaches life writing for the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, and for the past several years has offered a popular biannual workshop series through North York Central Library, as well as speaking to literary festivals and writers’ groups. Allyson was a judge for U of T Magazine’s 2009 short fiction contest (see Winter 2010 issue). She is also a lineup consultant for radio-host Stephanie Dickison’s “Portraits on Paper” memoir/biography segments on CKLN-FM’s In Other Words.

Portraits on Paper -- Memoirs on the Radio

Guest Blog by Stephanie Dickison

Getting to write for a living is just about the best thing in the world.

And it just got better, as I have been named a host on CKLN 88.1 FM’s In Other Words, a show about the written and spoken word!

The show airs every Tuesday at 2 pm and has a rotation of five hosts:

Week 1 - Charlie Huisken
Week 2 - Myna Wallin
Week 3 - Stephanie Dickison
Week 4 - Jennifer LoveGrove
Week 5 - Diana Kiesners

My audition for the show was a live broadcast that aired on November 17, 2009. I found out only days before so I had little time to prepare. I chose the focus of my show to be memoirs, biography and real-life stories -- Portraits on Paper.

I thought Allyson Latta would be the perfect guest, what with her memoir experience, as both an editor and a writing teacher. [Click the link on this blog to hear my interview with her.] And though I love speaking with authors, my goal with the show is to showcase everyone in the industry – booksellers, teachers, publishers and simply people who have a story to tell.

Allyson was so amenable and affable, both on and off the air, that she made my first show incredibly easy. You know, as easy as your first live on-air show can be!

As a result of that broadcast I was chosen to be a continuing part of In Other Words, and my next show was, again, just days later. On December 15, 2009, I interviewed co-manager of Nicholas Hoare Books in Toronto, Maxeen Paabo, about books and book clubs. It was fabulous. And I am pleased to say that I have had more time to prepare my next show on January 19 – what a feeling!

My upcoming guests will include Catherine Gildiner, Ian Brown, Wayson Choy, and Charles Foran to speak about their latest books, as well as many others. Throughout the show I also play music and spoken word CDs.

Allyson has been a freelance editor on numerous acclaimed memoirs and biographies, and some of my future guests, including Gildiner, Brown and Foran, are authors she's worked with. Catherine Gildiner will join me on-air in March. Her second memoir, After the Falls, has received enthusiastic reviews and earned a place on The Globe and Mail's 2009 "The Globe 100." Her first memoir was the bestselling Too Close to the Falls.

In Other Words airs weekly. You can listen over the Internet by clicking


or pasting this URL into your browser:

and then clicking the "Listen Live" icon.

I am grateful for this opportunity to speak about memoirs. It is nice to give a radio voice to what I believe is important literature. It’s also a helluva lot of fun!

I hope you will listen in.


Stephanie Dickison, author of The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working from Home, is a freelance lifestyle writer. See more at