The Southwest Booster
Local writers shine in the Write Out Loud spotlight
A diverse quartet of writers took to the Lyric Theatre stage on February 15 to share their literary talents during the Local Writers Night hosted by the Write Out Loud committee.
The evening of written word entertainment last Wednesday allowed both seasoned published writers and relative newcomers to the world of publishing to share their material with a live audience.
Shaunavon’s Dianne Greenlay was a returning voice to the Write Out Loud stage, this time sharing the book series she launched as a COVID pandemic project.
Greenlay shared that her seven children’s book series titled the Grooty Fledermaus Read-along series, broke all the rules when it comes to writing for younger children.
She shared the pitfalls and challenges of her first foray into writing for younger children. Over a decade ago she wrote ”Quintspinner: A Pirate’s Quest”, which was shortlisted for the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards in the First Book Award category, so this series was a departure from her previous efforts.
At the time when she launched the series, she was taking an on-line course on writing for children. One of the course recommendations as to look at what currently is of interest to young readers. She found cats and kittens at the top of the list, while a close second was creatures such as unicorns, dragons and trolls or monsters.
“I didn’t know which I should pick and so I thought I will just do a book highlighting each one of those things. Which I learned after I’d done it is a no-no.”
She shared she broke other rules for children’s books, including rhyming all the books in the series. She was aiming to write for children between the age of three to eight, and while those books were recommended to be about 800 words, her books were 1,000 each. Additionally, each book should be a stand alone story, but her book series extends a story arc through all seven books.
“I didn’t do that,” she laughed, “because I didn’t pay attention I guess.”
Her books share the adventures of young girl Katie and her hairless cat Grooty Fledermaus and the fanciful adventures they have in Katie’s dreams.
“I broke all of those rules, and in spite of that its been fairly successful and fun.”
Greenlay is now doing research into how she could get the book series into paediatric hospitals across Canada.
Her target audience is kids in general, but particularly ones in school being taught to accept the differences of others.
Lindy Enns was on stage to share the opening pages of her debut novel “When Shadows Fall” which will be released this spring or early summer.
“I have been writing fantasy since I was in High School. I enjoy reading it. And this book I have been working on for maybe four or five years, so I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be standing here reading from a book that is going to be published in the next couple of months, and getting to share it with you,” Enns said.
Her suspenseful opening pages painted a descriptive picture of the surroundings and setting of her book. The young
adult fantasy is described as a story about an ancient teenager who must face her fears and brave a perilous shadow world to save her sister.
Enns asked people to sign up for her newsletter and to learn more about her writing at the website www.lindyenns.com.
J. Charles Griffin of Stewart Valley shifted gears on the evening while sharing the in depth factual details of local war veterans he researches as a professional genealogist and local historian.
Griffin did exhaustive research while compiling his first book titled “8th Reconnaissance Regiment (14th Canadian Hussars)” which shares historical information of the local military regiment and is a memorial to the men who lost their lives during the Second
World War. He also is the writer of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #56 Veteran of the Week Program.
Griffin’s reading last Wednesday night shared some of the data he has compiled for a yet to be published book tentatively entitled “We Will Remember Them: Heroes of Burnham”. This project will feature the stories of service and sacrifice of the eight men from Burnham who gave their lives during World War I and World War II.
“Each story is as unique as the individuals themselves. And the purpose behind the publication is not only to remember these men, but give insight into the lives and experience of our local soldiers during these conflicts.”
His reading gave insights into the military data of Private George Arthur Wellesley Halifax White from the Burnham area who served during World War I before losing his life at the age of 43.
His extensive research has located Private White’s full military background, including transportation connections in moving from training in Swift Current to deployment to the front lines. He enlisted in Swift Current on March 15, 1916, having previously served in the South African Campaign.
On April 28, 1917, the 10th Battalion Alberta Regiment in which he was assigned to, launched an assault on enemy held positions near the village Arleux-en-gohelle, France.
“Unfortunately on the 28th, a mere eight days after having met up with his unit, Private George Arthur Wellesley Halifax White would initially be reported as missing in action, and then later that same day would be confirmed to have been killed in action at Arleuxen-gohelle in what was his first taste of combat on the Western Front.”
Griffin also noted that Canadian and British forces were ultimately successful in their military objectives on April 28 of capturing the village of Arleux-en-gohelle. And while the overall offensive was a success, over two days on that battlefield there were over 1,000 Canadian casualties recorded. The Battle of Arras was offensive part of larger British effort to push the Germain lines back to aid the French.
Wendy Brown Thienes shared readings from a selection of columns she has written over the past year for the Shaunavon Standard newspaper. Thienes initially wrote a pair of community interest articles for The Standard
before branching into her regular submission “The View from an Empty Nest”.
“Its given me the time I guess to put down in writing some of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for a couple of decades,” she admitted from the stage. “I did love writing in High School. I thought of pursuing journalism at that time.”
She grew up reading the Herbert Herald, followed by the Shaunavon Standard, so she is adamant about the importance of newspapers to a community.
“I guess finally I really believe that local weekly papers are really important in telling the stories of our community.”
“If I was able to add a bit of content to the paper to make it more interesting to read, that’s kind of what my I guess end goal was.”
She said that topics covered in “The View from an Empty Nest” aren’t exclusively about being an empty nester with two children away at University.
“What I write about is influenced by my childhood, current events, things I might see on Facebook, the seasons and holidays, families, empty nests and even grief,” she said. “My style is I keep it light and humorous. I connect seemingly unrelated things and it all kind of comes together at the end with some sort of theme or message.”
“So really it has become reminiscence therapy for me. I just do it ultimately for myself and my own mental health. And everybody seems to be able to relate to something that I’ve written in different ways.”
Thienes is currently working on her 50th column for the Shaunavon Standard.