Category Archives: Last Mountain Lake

What I’m up to

I haven’t given much time to blogging over the past several months.  Seems I’m more caught up in getting my life back to normal.  The writer-in-residence gig was fantastic!  I’m grateful for the joint initiative of the Saskatchewan Arts Board and SaskCulture Inc. and the funding provided by the Saskatchewan Lotteries Trust Fund for Sport, Culture and Recreation to make it possible.  The residency was an opportunity to do a lot of things I have always wanted to do, including giving back to a rural community and to solicit and edit work for an anthology.  A GIFT OF THE PRAIRIE: Writings from the Southern Shores of Last Mountain Lake gave several writers in the area their first publication credit as well as their first opportunity to give a reading of their work.  How wonderful that would have been when I was growing up in rural Saskatchewan!  And, SaskBooks gave the book a lovely review, too!  If you’d like to purchase a copy, contact them or the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre (LMLCC).


Though I worked with other writers during the course of the residency I also had time to do my own writing. My new work continues from this hot place, in a way.  The “love-whisper of the creek” in the last poem of thp refers to my love of Wolverine Creek which is one of several smaller streams that flow into Last Mountain Lake. The LMLCC sits on the southern end of the lake, as does my inlaws’ cottage where we’ve spent a portion of each summer for the past 25 years.  And, as a child, I spent a lot of time on that lake; our farm was just 20 miles east of it.  Suffice it to say that the lake and the Qu’Appelle Valley feature in some of the new poems.


However, I’m nowhere near finished the manuscript!  But I am on retreat at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, SK to consider the feedback I’ve recently received on the manuscript and to write some new poems.  Im also hoping to get some revisions to a children’s manuscript I’ve been working on with the Regina Public Library’s writer-in-residence, Art Slade, while I’m here.  And yes, retreating here in the cold of February is part of returning to normal.  I think this is my 15th year of doing so, give or take a year.  It’s a gift of the prairie, too. 🙂

an image of trees and sky framed by a window

The view out my window at St. Peter’s



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Filed under Books, Last Mountain Lake, Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, Literary Arts, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, St. Peter's Abbey, Writer-in-residence

Back at the LMLCC!

Hi folks! I’m so happy to be back as Writer-in-Residence at Regina Beach! It’s wonderful to be able to stay in my inlaws’ cottage at Lumsden Beach and wander over to the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre to work.  This summer marks the end of my stint here and it’s been so much fun! I’ve met so many creative, loving and compassionate people during my time here.  All the years (25+) I’ve been coming to RB from LB to get groceries I had no idea the amazing community I’d been missing!  So, even though I’ll be finished at the end of this summer, I know I’m not finished with this community.

But while I’m here now, I’m working on final edits for the anthology project, setting up readings for the launches and encouraging people to keep on writing.  Today I met with our designer, Amber.  Later this week, I’ll be setting up official launch dates.  And on Monday night, from 7 to 9 pm I’ve invited local writers to gather at the LMLCC for Write On!  I see it as an unstructured time to talk about writing, share writing, and do the writing thing.  We’ll try it for a few weeks and see how it goes.  And, I’m hoping we’ll all be able to take in the Poetry Slam and banquet that local artist, Carol Daniels, is organizing because I told her I’d be one of the judges.

Never a dull moment in this community, I swear!

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Filed under Events, Last Mountain Lake, Literary Arts, Ramblings, Regina Beach, Writer-in-residence

Midwinter at the Beach!

Blue sky out the studio windowIt’s very different being here, in Regina Beach, in the middle of winter.  I’d forgotten.  Yesterday was clear skies and balmy weather.  This morning, it was white on white on gray.  It took me longer to clear the snow off my car than it did to drive to the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre where I am again serving as writer-in-residence.  I am so pleased to be back for another stint!  It’s such a great gig!  I love being out here, even with the snow and winter and all that means on the Prairies.  But it’s really quite lovely.  Yes, I mean that.

Looking out the kitchen windowI’m not staying in our rustic cottage at Lumsden Beach this time.  That would require a prairie constitution I don’t quite have.  I mean, if I had to, I could stay in an uninsulated place, chop wood, haul water, etc.  But I don’t have to.  I have made the acquaintance of many wonderful people here in Regina Beach and one such wonderful person, Audrey, offered me the luxury of her spare room. This is the view from her kitchen window this morning.  Beyond those trees is the lake, long frozen over and dotted with fishing shacks.  A couple of them will be attacked with art during the Ice Fishing Derby & Winter Festival the first weekend in March.  I look forward to seeing how the Shack Attack transforms the fishing shacks.

2014-02-19 11.45.50Though the view out my office could be considered rather glum today, I’m loving it.  There’s nothing quite like a storm in the country.  And I have a great view of the countryside from this second storey perch!

I’m here for four weeks this time.  The call for submissions to the anthology we’ll publish this fall has resulted in a nice stack of reading for me.  I will be reading through it, suggesting edits to the contributors’ work, if needed, and divining a way to put it all together.  And doing the administrative work on it, too.

I’ll also be teaching a couple of classes while I’m here.  One is a make-up class from the fall.  I was unable to teach The Realm of Nonfiction because I came down with the flu at the end of my previous session here so I’m offering it next Wednesday, February 26 at 7 pm in the Cultural Centre.  Two weeks after that, on March 12, I’m offering a session on Marketing Your Work, which really should be entitled Sharing Your Work, because that’s how I have to look at it or I’d never send anything out!  And I’ll be doing a Women’s Words & Art Workshop with the Lumsden & District Arts Council for International Women’s Day on March 8.

And now I shall read.

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Filed under Last Mountain Lake, Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre, Literary Arts, Ramblings, Regina Beach, Workshop, Writer-in-residence

Good Books on Writing

I thought it would be useful to develop a list of recommended books about writing for my writing students.  And so, I posted the question on Facebook.  I am pleased to report that the list spans more than two pages.  Even more surprising was how many of them I’ve already read!  Best surprise is that some of them are available in the ABE Books current sale and I’ve ordered them!  I have also sent the list to the local librarians in Regina Beach, Lumsden and Bethune with a request that they make them available in their library during September and October.

And now, with thanks to Brenda Schmidt, John Oughton, Andréa Ledding, Maureen Bush, Betty Jane Hegerat, Nora Gould, Marian Shatto, Nairn McKay, Jonny Pigeau, Amanda Davies, Aydon Charlton, Beth Gobeil, Carla Braidek, Kathleen Whelan, Catherine Owen, David Bolduc, Don Wren, Dave Margoshes and Lisa Kuzma for the help, here is the list of good books on writing:

Addonizio, Kim. Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within. W. W. Norton & Company, 2009. ISBN: 0393334163 (ISBN13: 9780393334166).

Atwood Margaret. Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing. Cambridge University Press, 2002) ISBN: 1844080277 (ISBN13: 9781844080274).

Bender, Sheila and Killien, Christi. Writing in a Convertible with the Top Down: A Unique Guide for Writers. Blue Heron Publishing, 1997.ISBN: 093608538X (ISBN13: 9780936085388).

Cameron, Julia. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. Tarcher, 2002 (first published 1992). ISBN: 1585421464 (ISBN13: 9781585421466).

Chandler, Raymond. Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler. Delta, 1987 (first published 1981). ISBN: 0385295316 (ISBN13: 9780385295314).

Dillard, Annie. The Writing Life. HarperCollins, 2009 (first published 1989). ISBN: 0060919884 (ISBN13: 9780060919887).

Forster, E.M. Aspects of the Novel. Mariner Books, 1956 (first published 1927). ISBN: 0156091801 (ISBN13: 9780156091800).

Friedman, Bonnie. Writing Past Dark: Envy, Fear, Distraction and Other Dilemmas in the Writer’s Life. Harper Perennial, 1994 (first published 1993). ISBN: 0060922001 (ISBN13: 9780060922009).

Glover, Douglas. Attack of the Copula Spiders: Essays on Writing. Biblioasis, 2012.ISBN: 1926845463 (ISBN13: 9781926845463).

Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Shambhala, 2006 (first published 1986). ISBN: 1590303164 (ISBN13: 9781590303160).

Goldberg, Natalie. Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. Bantam, 1990. ISBN: 0553347756 (ISBN13: 9780553347753).

Heighton, Steven. Workbook: Memos & Dispatches On Writing. ECW Press, 2011. ISBN: 1550229370 (ISBN13: 9781550229370)

Hirshfield, Jane. Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry. Harper Perennial, 1998 (first published 1997). ISBN: 0060929480 (ISBN13: 9780060929480)

Hodgins, Jack. A Passion for Narrative: A Guide to Writing Fiction. McClelland & Stuart, 1993 (Revised 2001). ISBN: 0771041888 / 0-7710-4188-8.

King, Stephen. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Pocket Books, 2002 (first published 2000). ISBN: 0743455967 (ISBN13: 9780743455961).

Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Anchor, 1995 (first published 1994). ISBN: 0385480016 (ISBN13: 9780385480017).

Le Guin, Ursula K. Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew. The Eighth Mountain Press, 1998. ISBN: 0933377460 (ISBN13: 9780933377462).

Leonard, Elmore. Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules Of Writing. HarperCollins, William Morrow, 2007. ISBN: 0061451460 (ISBN13: 9780061451461).

Lopate, Phillip. The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Anchor, 1997 (first published 1994). ISBN: 038542339X (ISBN13: 9780385423397).

Lopate, Phillip. To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction. Free Press, 2013. ISBN: 1451696329 (ISBN13: 9781451696325).

Oliver, Mary. A Poetry Handbook. Mariner Books, 1994. ISBN: 0156724006 (ISBN13: 9780156724005).

Oliver, Mary. Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse. Mariner Books, 1998. ISBN: 039585086X (ISBN13: 9780395850862).

Owen, Catherine. Catalysts: Confrontations with the muse. Wolsak & Wynn, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-894987-59-2.

Pressfield, Steven. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles. Grand Central Publishing, 2003 (first published 2002). ISBN 0446691437 (ISBN13: 9780446691437).

Pressfield, Steven. Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work. Black Irish Books, 2012. ISBN: 9781936891030.

Rilke, Rainer Maria and Kappus, Franz Xaver and Norton, M.D. Herter (Translator). Letters to a Young Poet. Norton, 1993 (first published 1929). ISBN: 0393310396 (ISBN13: 9780393310399).

Sarah, Robyn. Little Eurekas. Biblioasis, 2007. ISBN-10: 1-89723-129-6 ISBN-13: 978-1-89723-129-6.

Smyth, Ethel. Female Pipings in Eden. P. Davies, 1934. LCCN: 34017982.

Stenson, Fred. Thing Feigned for Imagined: A Self-Directed Course in the Craft of Fiction. Banff Centre Press, 2002 ISBN: 0920159931 (ISBN13: 9780920159934).

Strunk, William Jr. and White, E. B. The Elements of Style. Longman Publishing Group, 1999 (first published 1918). ISBN-10: 0205313426 (ISBN13: 9780205313426).

 Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Penguin, 2006. Group (first published 2003). ISBN: 1592402038 (ISBN13: 9781592402038).

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One’s Own. Penguin, 2012 (First published Hogarth Press, 1929). ISBN: 0241961904 (ISBN13: 9780241961902).


Here’s the PDF version.


Filed under Books, Last Mountain Lake, Literary Arts, On Writing, Regina Beach, Writer-in-residence

I love small town Saskatchewan!

And I love my job!  You never know what might be happening!

arts frenzyToday, I’ll give a reading at the Arts Frenzy being held in Regina Beach.  You can catch me on the Rudy’s Stage, 115 Centre St, just after 3 pm.  I’m up against the Riders’ game but I promise to update the score.  And that’s got me thinking that I should probably write a Riders’ poem one of these days.

But before the reading, I’m going to check out the 3rd Annual Regina Beach Show & Shine at the Buena Vista Ball Park.  My husband and I used to attend a lot of car shows, particularly Volkswagen events.  We used to have a 1967 VW Beetle and now we have a 1974 Westphalia, which is in parts because hubby is fixing the body.  I do have a poem about it in the works but it’s not yet ready to share.

See you later, folks!

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Back at the #LMLCC!

LMLCC-BuildingHeadersJoy of joys! Thanks to the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre for the invitation and to the Saskatchewan Arts Board for the funding to have me back for another, longer term as Writer-in-Residence!  I’ll be here for five months over the next year, working within the schools and communities the Centre serves, including South Shore Elementary School in Regina Beach (which also serves the communities of Kinookama, Buena Vista and Lumsden Beach), Clive Draycott School in Bethune, as well as the Elementary and High Schools in Lumsden.  I’m looking forward to a great year!

For the first stint, from now until October 15, I’ll be available to the schools and community groups and writers in the area from 2 pm to 9 pm every Tuesday and Thursday as well as from 9 am to 2 pm every Saturday.  I can make myself available at other times, too.  Simply ask.  I hope folks will feel free to contact me for a one-on-one consultation or to visit your group of friends, your classroom, and/or local organization.  If there are any homeschoolers in the area, I’d love to see if we can work something out for your children, too. view-summer

I’m also keeping Thursdays, from 4 to 8 pm, open for writers and artists to drop in at my studio space upstairs in the Cultural Centre for a visit and/or conversation about writing and the arts.  If nothing else, we can let the view out the window inspire us!

On Tuesday, September 3  from 7 to 9 pm, I’ll start a series of classes on various aspects of the craft of writing.  These will take place downstairs at the Cultural Centre and run weekly until October 15.  There is no fee and pre-registration is not necessary.  But if you want to send me an email to let me know that you’re interested, that’d be great.  I’ll share more information about the classes next week, when the poster is available.

Until then, I have work to do!


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Spin-off of WIR

Two things have come about as a direct result of the writer-in-residence position I held at the Last Mountain Lake Cultural Centre. Both leave me thrilled and deeply touched.


The first, an invitation to participate as a guest poet at Creating in the Qu’Appelle, a 2.5 day creative writing workshop for youth, came as a surprise.  When making arrangements to work in Lumsden High School during the residency, the Creative Writing teacher, Heather Winter, asked if I’d like to participate in the event.  I’d heard about this fantastic writing camp for youth a few years ago in conversation with former Saskatchewan poet, Jennifer Still.  A regular on faculty at C in the Q, she could not say enough about how wonderful it is!  So I gave Heather an immediate YES!


Sanctioned, but not greatly publicized, by the Prairie Valley School Division, and funded by the school division, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, Coteau Books, Lumsden High School, and the Lumsden Cultural Council, this event saw 40 students from across the province come together for instruction and support in writing prose, poetry and songs.  Along with Jennifer, three other artists served on the faculty.  Chris Fisher, from Lumsden, provided expertise on writing fiction.  Michelle Muir, a Toronto-based spoken word artist, covered performance art.  And Little Miss Higgins, from Nokomis SK, was the singer/songwriter on faculty.


The faculty had done their work.  I walked through the doors of the Dallas Valley Ranch Camp’s main entrance and felt the energy right away.  It was electric!  Dallas Valley sits on the edge of the Qu’Appelle Valley, that sacred land on which Saskatchewan writers have a bit of a tradition hanging out.  The young people were on supper break, hanging around the tables talking and laughing.  Some played card games.  Others sat, feet up, taking it all in.  In the main room downstairs, a few played guitars and sang, not a whole song, but part of one I didn’t recognize.  Still, I had to stop myself from joining in with a descant line that called me.  Everything I witnessed was strong evidence of a solid community in place.  It felt, immediately, like a safe place to practice art.


And practice art they did!  30 individuals — students and some of the teacher support staff — took turns standing at the front of the room to present their work.  I recognized a handful of the students as those I’d worked with in Heather’s classroom during the residency, some whose work I’d published in the chapbook, TALES FROM THE LAKE. Oh, there were some great lines, lines I wish I’d written!  I also wish I’d had the good sense to write a few down for future reference.  I was struck by the presentation skills of a few of the students, too.  Courageous and fantastic presenters, they could give a few writers I know a lesson in presentation skills.  Oh, and that song, when they put the whole thing together, well, it brought tears to my eyes.  So beautiful!


I feared my talk and reading, in which I focused on my grandmother and land poems and an excerpt from my Wolverine Creek essay, would pale in comparison.  But I gave it my all and hope that someone found something they needed in it.  I started by inviting them to help me work through Notes Toward Goodbye: A Lullabye, which is a poem that’s becoming a song, I think.  I asked them sing a chorus, “Rock me,” or give a bass line or echo words that I spoke.  I liked the chorus, think I should have given more direction for the bass line — or more freedom — and loved their eagerness! It felt so good to be nurturing young writers; it always does.


Actually, it doesn’t matter what age the writers are.  Any time I can encourage others in their writing, I try to do so.  And that brings me to my second spin-off of the residency.  A group of women regularly attended the classes I offered at the LMLCC.  Last night, we had the first meeting of the writing group that formed as a result of it.  Not only were we happy to see each other, visiting and laughing and sharing stories, but we also talked about writing and wrote.  I think I may have an ice cream poem as a result.  Another spin-off! The plan is to meet again in a  month.  And I’m looking forward to it because I’ll be at the beach, working on my writing, and wanting feedback on it, too.


One final thing, speaking of community…  I attended the Creative NonFiction Collective’s Annual Conference and General Meeting at the Banff Centre last weekend.  Because of the political nature of some of the material, I have posted my notes from it in a series of posts on my other blog, the regina mom.




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Filed under Creating in the Qu'Appelle, Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan Writers Guild, Workshop, Writer-in-residence