A little Italy

Wow. This could become addictive. Beppi’s Gelato


A little shop around the corner on 10th Street just off Broadway. Beppi’s Gelato has the best gelato we’ve tasted since we were in Italy. Try the grapefruit! Try them all. All because of Nono Beppi—my granddaughter Pearl calls me Nono. Who knew I was an Italian grandfather?

Beppi's gelato


Wow, then this happened

Still trying to wrap my head around this! Congratulations to fellow Hicks Long Manuscript for Fiction Award winners Tim Blackett, Beth Goobie and dee hobsbawn-smith. I’m anxious to read your novels! My gratitude to my editor—and, as it turns out, my publisher—Byrna Barclay of Burton House Books. Two years ago, she agreed to read my manuscript, came back in two weeks after having torn it in two: “This is your first novel. This is your second.” Just a few weeks ago, Sandra Birdsell completed a substantive edit of the manuscript. I am in awe of Byrna and Sandra who guided me to take this story deeper than I ever thought possible. And thank you so much to the judges Elisabeth de Mariaffi and Rabindranath Maharaj. I am humbled by their comments about a story I began long before I had any grey hair. And a special thank you to a lovely man—Hank Buck of Abbey, Saskatchewan—who told me the true story of Violet and her father, and gave his blessing to me to fictionalize. And I think I should get a t-shirt made with the photo of John V. Hicks on it! Violet, renamed Small Reckonings, will be published by Burton House Books in 2020.

My thanks, too, to my long-suffering family. Husband Rick, son Jim, daughter Erin and Michael, son Ben and Julia, grandkids Alexander and Pearl. Violet has been a big fat part of our family for many years and I really appreciate their support, suggestions, critiques and cheerleading.

This on the SWG website today:

The SWG is pleased to announce that the winners of the 2019 John V. Hicks Long Manuscript Awards in Fiction are:
First place: Karin Melberg Schwier for Violet
Second place: Tim Blackett for Grandview Drive
Third place: Beth Goobie for The Good Intentions Emporium
Honourable Mention: dee hobsbawn-smith for Dryland Diaries.

The awards will be presented at our Fall Conference at the Hicks Award luncheon on Saturday Oct 19 from 11:45 am – 1:00 pm at the Regina Travelodge. Lunch tickets are available at skwriter.com. Congratulations to our winners, and thank you to all the writers who submitted their manuscripts. We were overwhelmed with your interest and pleased to see such an engaged Saskatchewan writing community!


Leaving a legacy

Very proud of Jim these days. As a Saskatoon YMCA volunteer for the past 24 years, he was part of the 50th anniversary celebrations this past weekend to mark five decades in the downtown building. Rick and I did an early morning interview with the wonderful Jennifer Quesnel of CBC Radio about what Jim has contributed to the Y and what the Y means to our family. You can hear it here. On Friday night at an elegant event at Calories–ooo shrimp skewers–Jim was sworn in as one of the 14 inaugural members of the Caribou Legacy Club. Each member has pledged to name the YMCA in their will. Jim got a placque that he put up in his room, right next to his 2017 Volunteer of the Year certificate. Then to top it off, we enjoyed a great Y social at the Hilton Garden Inn. Lots of hugs from old friends, staff, and volunteers. Jim was happy to see Jack, who is enjoying retirement, Gail and even his old boss Ken, who is now with the Edmonton YMCA. The best part: cookies with the YMCA logo!

Lolo and the Barbershop

Lolo Saldana has been a barber on Catalina Island forever. We met him years ago and decided on the spot he is probably one of the most decent, sweet and compassionate men we’d ever met. He is featured, along with his pal Tony who manages the flag at the iconic barbershop in Avalon, in my book Flourish: People with Disabilities Living Life with Passion (2012). Lolo just turned 90 this summer. He still golfs. He still drives his golf cart to his shop every day, and now he’s going to be a movie star. I can’t wait to see Lolo and the Barbershop. Enjoy the trailer, and have a look at a few of the photos I took one of the last times we visited him in his shop. That’s me with Lolo, bottom centre. I could happily spend hours there, watching the parade of people, listening to his stories.

Fall HOME and Prairies North

The fall issues of Saskatoon HOME and Prairies North magazines have just hit the streets, and they are packed with interesting stories and beautiful photography.

I’m so pleased that my story about a Saskatoon couple who converted a church and now call it home made the HOME cover. I also did the article about the breathtaking timber house in Grasswood, owned by the Fourney family. Have a look at both stories and any small reno you are planning will seem a lot easier! If you are planning a reno, mind the words of advice I gathered from a variety of building experts so you can avoid après reno regrets. HOME’s great writers also offer you other stories about what it’s like to live in a converted bus, how to decorate with local loyalty, how to decide to love or list a home, and how to make yummy hummus at home. Just in time for hibernation, there’s even a piece on how to get a better sleep. And one of my favourite people–Jeff O’Brien–takes on the second part of a wistful journey through several Saskatoon lost treasures that succumbed to the wrecking ball. To be sure you receive every issue of HOME, get your subscription.

The beautiful Prairies North issue is packed with great stories and photos. An annual subscription for the quarterly is only $25, with additional subscriptions (think holiday gift giving) at $20. Don’t forget to order your 2020 Saskatchewan Scenes calendar (again, gifts!) for $20. In this fall issue, I’m proud to honour my lovely friend and neighbour, Lorna Russell, so beloved for her gorgeous paintings that celebrate the colour of Saskatchewan’s autumn. That story pairs so well with a story by Robin and Arlene Karpan on how to photograph fabulous fall colours. Among other stories, go hiking in the Valley of 1000 Devils, take a Qu’Appelle Valley Road Trip, visit to Stanley Mission, and remember what harvest was like in the old days. Watch elks in rut; yes, really! And did you know Saskatchewan’s flag turns 50? Meet the man who designed it. Don’t miss an issue. Get your subscription.