Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Suesstivus Holiday Twitter Challenge Today!

Check out the Canada Writes Website and have some fun in this Twitter Challenge. You can find all of the information at the above website. I am so swamped with writing and Christmas, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to participate, but I’m going to try my best. I could use a little fun today.

Leave a comment

Filed under writing contests

Canada Writes! Creative Nonfiction Competion

Nonfiction Prize

Bookmark and Share

The competition opens December 1, 2012.Deadline to submit: February 1, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. ET

This prize is awarded once a year to the best original, unpublished, work of Creative Nonfiction that is submitted to the competition. All Canadians can participate.

The Creative Nonfiction Prize includes memoir, biography, humour writing, essay (including personal essay), travel writing, and feature articles. While the events must be real and the facts true, creative nonfiction conveys your message through the use of literary techniques such as characterization, plot, setting, dialogue, narrative, and personal reflection. In works of creative nonfiction, the writer’s voice and opinion are evident. The work should be accessible to a general reading audience (i.e., not written for a specialized or academic audience).

The competition is blind. A jury composed of well-known and respected Canadian authors will select a 1st place winner and 4 runners-up.

The First Prize winner will receive $6,000, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts, and will have his/her story published in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and on the Canada Writes website. He or she will also be awarded a two-week residency at The Banff Centre’s Leighton Artists’ Colony (details about the residency here), and will receive exposure on CBC Radio.

The 4 runners-up will each receive $1,000, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts, and their stories will be published on the Canada Writes website.

Submissions to the Creative Nonfiction prize must be between 1,200 and 1,500 words.

A fee of $25.00 (taxes included) for administration purposes is required for each entry.

For more information visit the CBC Webpage for the Creative Nonfiction Prize

Leave a comment

Filed under Stuff to do, Uncategorized, writing contests

there is no why, only is

there is no why, only is.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gun Violence and Mass Murder: The Terrible Aftermath

The news out of the United States this week about the latest massacre in a small town called Newport, Connecticut brought back a flood of memories for me.

Just after the killings in an American high school in 1999, (Columbine) I wrote this piece for the Globe and Mail newspaper. Since then, gun violence in the States has reached unacceptable levels. I care becasue they are our neighbours. I care because each time someone is gunned down, a family is destroyed. I care because I know that it doesn’t have to be this way.


May 10 1999, Globe and Mail

What Happens After the Media Leaves Town?

Violent death draws the media to the crime scene like vultures to a carcass, but what happens when the story dies and the media move on to the next big tragedy? There are two dates that haunt my family, now and forever: June 17 and December 3. The former is the day that in 1954 my brother Eddie was born. The latter is the day in 1974 when he was gunned down in cold blood, aged 20 by a 13-year-old boy, just because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

That date burns in our family’s collective memory, even though 38 years have gone by since Eddie was left to die on the floor in the Christmas tree-trimming department at a downtown Vancouver store.

Eddie was working nights as a maintenance man at Woodward’s department store. The boy had broken into the store, and it’s believed Eddie surprise him stealing ammunition. My brother was shot seven times with a 22-calibre rifle. His body wasn’t discovered until the morning. The boy was caught the next day and charged with what was then called juvenile delinquency.

In 2013, my brother would have turned 58. I struggle to imagine what he would be like now. Would he have children of his own? He was so young when he died. Young enough to dream big dreams about his future, but a young teen took away those dreams before he could realize them.

The local media were there on that terrible day only weeks before Christmas in 1974. A picture of his half-exposed body was splashed over the front page of the Vancouver Sun. Reporters talked about his education at St. George’s private school for boys, about his heart-broken parents and two loving sisters, 14 and 16 at the time.

My parents hid the newspapers from us in a futile attempt to protect us from seeing what no human being should ever have to see, especially two teenage girls whose family had just been violently reduced by one.

I think the story ran for a week or two in the papers across Canada. For us the story is still being written. My mother walks with the memory of my brother hovering beside her. Framed photos of a hopeful young man just into his twenties decorate her living space. A mother does not forget. Ever. Not even for a second. My children, his niece and nephew do not have an uncle. I wish they did. I wish I had more than a memory to offer them. Memories don’t help to celebrate birthdays, graduations, sports days, new babies or go for long walks on the beach.

So 38 years have passed since Eddie died – since the story died. The gore, the shock, the police cars, the detectives, the crank phone calls, the memorial service, the court case – all faded into the past. I used to be the middle child. Am I the oldest now? I don’t really know. My parents had three children. Do they still? Rebuilding a family identity after such a wrenching tragedy takes a lifetime or more.

Things happened because of Eddie’s death. Gun laws in Canada were changed so that a child could not walk into a store, pull a gun down from an unlocked rack, load it and shoot to kill. My mother fought for that. After she identified Eddie’s bullet-torn body, she decided that no parent should ever have to live with such horror. For our family everything changed.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

I have learned about loss and love and forgiveness. I know nothing is guaranteed and life is precious. I know not to read the headlines or look at the front page pictures, or watch American news for hours, because there is no truth or integrity in this kind of reporting. It is voyeurism pure and simple.

In the end, it does not matter whether it took one bullet or seven to extinguish my brother’s life. Do not be fooled by colour photos and live reporting. Remember, long after the terrible crime has been committed, after the cameras and reporters have rushed off to the next massacre, that is when the real story begins.

Ask anyone who has been blessed enough or cursed enough to know.



Filed under Give Me a Break, Uncategorized

“Education’s pu…

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.”

— Malcolm Forbes

I am learning all about the fishing industry for a documentary we are creating here at Screaming Black Dog Productions. It’s quite frightening, but there is some hope for our marine animals. As soon as people understand the problem, they will do something about it. In the meantime, why not remove tuna from your diet and check out this other doc: The End of the Line.

Leave a comment

December 11, 2012 · 3:28 pm

Great Review of The Freedom of Jenny

It’s really great to see one of my books positively reviewed a whopping seven years after it was published. Read the review on Margriet’s Book Blog here. It popped up at the perfect time. I am sitting at my computer working really hard on my next book, and sometimes writing can be lonely. Feedback, especially good feedback means so much.

Now it will be much easier to return to my keyboard tomorrow morning 🙂


1 Comment

Filed under My Books Reviewed

Writers’ Union of Canada Call for Submissions


20th Annual Short Prose Competition

for Developing Writers

$2,500 PRIZE


The Writers’ Union of Canada is pleased to announce that submissions are being accepted until March 1, 2013 for the 20th Annual Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers. The winning entry will be the best Canadian work of up to 2,500 words in the English language, fiction or non-fiction, written by an unpublished author.




$2,500 for the winning entry, and the entries of the winner and finalists will be submitted to three Canadian magazines.




Writers Ami McKay, Rosemary Nixon, and Mark A. Rayner will serve as the jury.




This competition is open to all Canadian citizens and landed immigrants who have not had a book published by a commercial or university press in any genre and who do not currently have a contract with a book publisher. Original and unpublished (English language) fiction or non-fiction is eligible.




  • ·         Entries should be typed, double-spaced, in a clear twelve-point font, and the pages numbered on 8.5 x 11 paper, not stapled.
  • ·         Submissions will be accepted in hardcopy only.
  • ·         Include a separate cover letter with title of story, full name, address, phone number, email address, word count, and number of pages of entry.
  • ·         Please type the name of entrant and the title of entry on each numbered page. This is not a blind competition.
  • ·         Make cheque or money order payable to The Writers’ Union of Canada. Multiple entries can be submitted together and fees can be added and paid with one cheque or money order, $29 per entry.
  • ·         Entries must be postmarked by March 1, 2013 to be eligible.
  • ·         Mail entries to: SPC Competition, The Writers’ Union of Canada, 90 Richmond Street East, Suite 200, Toronto, ON M5C 1P1.


Results will be posted at in May 2013. Manuscripts will not be returned.

1 Comment

Filed under writing contests, Writing Tips

BC Arts Council Quick Survey – Be Heard!

The BC Arts Council is surveying its “stakeholders” to help formulate its strategic plan. This is your chance to let your opinion be heard. If you are a BC artist this is an important survey. It takes only five minutes or so. Head over to their survey page:

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized