To mark World Down Syndrome Day, the Canadian Down Syndrome Association launched a beautiful campaign showcasing older adults, portraits captured by photographer Hilary Gauld. Visit the CDSS website and have a scroll down for a look through these images. Jim is 48, soon to be 49 in May. We’re starting to notice white in his whiskers and eyebrows. It seems it was yesterday when I joined the family; he was 12 and decided my name would be “Dear.” For his 49th, he says he would like a party with “shrimp, brownies, chardonnay, and friends.” Some photos below of our recent wonderful visit to our California and Oregon families. So to celebrate this day, and so many people we know whose lives are touched by that extra chromosome, here’s just a little slice lately of our family with Jim as the centerpiece.
Small Reckonings available soon
I’m excited to announce that beginning April 11, my debut novel, Small Reckonings, is getting a new life through Shadowpaw Press Reprise in Regina. It’s going to be released as a Kindle, eBook, and a print version. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon and from Shadowpaw. So for those who have been asking, you can get a copy soon! And to my brother Nels, whose dog Emmie ate his copy (seriously), another is on the way shortly.
Thanks so much to Ed Willett at Shadowpaw for this opportunity for a wider audience. Violet is very happy to be meeting new readers.
One more HOME
You’ll love this issue of Saskatoon HOME magazine. First, it’s the 15th anniversary issue. Congratulations to my great bosses, Amanda and Rob Soulodre, for keeping this wonderful magazine flourishing all these years. It is an honour to work with you. Second, there are some really interesting local bits and pieces for readers this time around including the story behind the wild tulip display at the corner of University Drive and McKinnon. It’s a must-see stop for you this spring. I had fun talking with Larissa and Sarah about their gorgeous 115-year-old character home, and we were happy to discover the house’s true origins. And when I say “we” I mean Jeff O’Brien, the City’s intrepid archivist. There’s a piece by one of my favourite writers, Julie Barnes, about a dark and dramatic home in Greenbryre, and one from my equally favourite writer Jeff about the bygone days when Saskatoon springtime meant mud up the the axles, if not kneecaps. We talk about Saskatoon’s urban forest and planting ideas, and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, Maureen Haddock whips up some green dishes in her busy kitchen. Grab your copy of HOME from any of many racks around the city, or better yet, get yourself a very affordable subscription.
I just leaked into a bag my 115th blood donation at my favourite Canadian Blood Services clinic on 8th Street. It’s easy, fast and I hear it’s good for you. Not to mention good for those who need it. Make donating one of your New Year’s Resolutions and get into a happy habit.
Well, more like furry and spikey. We were sad to lose two of our Forestry Farm Park and Zoo favourites this past year. Georgia the porcupine was a grand 16 years old, and Buddy the wolf always came to sniff us through the crack beside the window. We’ll miss them both on our regular walks around the zoo.
Saskatoon HOME again
We’re back with another installment of Saskatoon HOME magazine and the winter issue is out just in time for you to cozy up next to the fireplace for a good read with an afghan or a furry pet on your lap. Enjoy the variety of stories we have for you. Get a subscription here and you’ll never miss an issue (or have to go out looking for one when it’s -30). But if that’s your thing, you can pick up a copy at any one of a number of racks located in Saskatoon and area. I hope you enjoy the winter Saskatoon HOME. Should you ever have a clever idea for a story in a future issue, do let me know.
SWG weekend, the Hicks celebration
Thank you to the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild for not only putting on a great conference this past weekend in Regina, but also for offering the John V. Hicks Award, this year in the Long Manuscript Fiction category. I guess it’s not happened before, but my first novel, Small Reckonings, won in 2019. And I was very happy to receive the same award this time for the sequel, Inheriting Violet. What an honour and I’m quite giddy and humbled by it. Congratulations to the other winners; I was proud to be on the podium with Kate O’Gorman (May I Myself Be Not Lost and Other Stories), Byrna Barclay (Everything is Under Control: Birdy & Jock-o Short Stories), and Beth Goobie, who received the Honourable Mention (The More Stories). I’m so looking forward to reading their books. I was thrilled to meet one of the two judges, Kagiso Lesego Molope, an award-winning novelist and playwright from South Africa. She was lovely and I found myself soaking up every comment she made about my manuscript. Kevin Hardcastle, a fiction writer from Ontario, was the other judge for this year’s competition. Lisa Bird-Wilson was the MC, and it was an honour to meet her, too.
Thank you to everyone at SWG; I hope you got home okay. It was such a wonderful evening. We felt a bit cheated having to make the decision to go home even before the reception was over. So did my fellow winner Kate and her husband Darren, also from Saskatoon. When we heard 10 to 20 cms of snow and freezing rain would arrive during the night, we thought we’d get out of town while the getting was good. Jim was looking forward to a hotel overnight, only the second in three years since the world went wonky. Turns out it was the right move to get on the road, though we hated to leave the party. Thanks again to everyone at the SWG!
A new lease on life
I’m very happy to say that Small Reckonings will now be out in the world as part of the Shadowpaw Press family with the Reprise imprint. Our revised edition is nearly sold out, just as the first two printings were with the original publisher. Now with Shadowpaw Press Reprise, the novel will be re-released, coming soon in 2023.
Thank you to Ed Willett for accepting the novel and for seeing its potential for an even wider readership. I’ll post the news when it’s available for purchase.
Visiting the old homestead
We attended an event the other day at the Western Development Museum and took the opportunity to visit the Winning the Prairie Gamble exhibit. If you’ve never been, it’s really a fascinating look at how the province was built after the homesteaders arrived. I like to visit the soddy, which the WDM generously allowed me to photograph and use for the cover of the revised edition of my novel. It’s such a familiar image now that going to the ‘real thing’ feels like a trip back to the family farm. For anyone who has seen the book and wondered what was just beyond that window, here’s a view from the outside, too!
Then this happened
I’m very honoured to have had Inheriting Violet, the sequel to my debut novel, Small Reckonings, chosen for the 2022 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award for Fiction. It’s a surreal full circle with the debut novel winning the prize in 2019. Congratulations to the other winners on the Fiction podium: Kate O’Gorman for May I Myself Not be Lost and Other Stories, and Byrna Barclay for Everything is Under Control: Birdy and Jock-o Short Stories. More about the authors here. I’m looking forward to celebrating with them at the SWG Annual Conference in Regina in October, and also excited to meet one of the judges, Kagiso Lesego Molope, who will be there. Here’s what the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild sent me and I’ve had to keep under wraps for several days:
Congratulations on winning first place in the 2022 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Award in Fiction for your submission Inheriting Violet.
The judges offered the following comments on your manuscript:
A generational prairie epic that follows a family of homesteaders in rural Saskatchewan as they strive for survival and happiness in a hard but often beautiful place. Throughout this novel, the titular protagonist, Violet, is treated with great respect and care by the author. Those in Violet’s orbit carry the weight of their troubled histories, sorrow and heartache, in a way that demands the reader’s empathy, and explores the complicated dynamics of family and community. Difficult subject matter is presented with both ease and great sensitivity by this promising author, and the jury looks forward to reading more of her work.
Our jury consisted of Canadian fiction writers Kevin Hardcastle and Kagiso Lesego Molope. Here are the jury bios:
Kevin Hardcastle is a fiction writer from Simcoe County, Ontario. He is the author of the novel In the Cage and the short story collection Debris, which won the Trillium Book Award and the ReLit Award for Short Fiction. His writing has been published widely in Canada and the US, with translations published in French, German, and Italian. He lives and works in Toronto.
Kagiso Lesego Molope is an Indigenous South African, an award-winning novelist and playwright. She writes post-apartheid, feminist and resistance literature. Her work centres the history and experiences of indigenous South Africans and tackles issues of race, class, sexuality and identity, and her books are read in schools across South Africa as well as in parts of Europe. Her published novels are Dancing in the Dust, The Mending Season, This Book Betrays my Brother, and Such a Lonely, Lovely Road. Her play, Maya Angelou: Black Woman Rising, has been produced and staged at Oslo’s Nordic Black Theatre. She became the first indigenous South African writer to be on the IBBY List in 2006 and to win the Patrick Fitzpatrick Award for Young Adult Literature. In 2019, she won both the Ottawa Book Award and the Inaugural Pius Adesanmi Memorial Award for her third and fourth books respectively. She has been living in Canada for the past two decades.