NEW course for writerswebworkshop!

In the month of November, WritersWebWorkshop is offering a new “holiday writing” course. In it, each writer will produce one short story. It can be fictional or memoir; it can be traditional or reveal the raw edges that such times can draw out (!); it can be humorous or romantic, dark or light… 4 weeks, just in time for long evenings.

Jewish Child

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letter to Vancouver Sun

I wrote a letter to the Sun in response to an article by Nimmi Takkar, representing Canadian post-secondary¬†students, concerned with the usual in September: tuition, and student debt-load. The Sun edited my letter, and what remained was a very brief sessional-gripe…so here it is in entirety:

I am in agreement with Nimmi Takkar in her concern that tuition can be a roadblock for lower-income students.

However, as an ex-sessional faculty member, I feel a need to point to another side, one that students do not often think of–one of which, for the most part, they are unaware.

When I left sessional life two years ago, there was a total of 654 sessional employees in my institution, many teaching full-time, most too busy to do research and activities that might propel them to another job elsewhere. These sessionals make approximately 36,000 per year, and my guess is that most students like to think their annual salary will be a touch more than that post graduation. True, the sessional employee works 8 months of the year (interestingly, the exact same number of weeks that a public school teacher works) but if they are at all conscientious of the demands of their work, their hours extend well past the 30th of April. When these institutions can actually afford to pay for the teachers who are currently teaching, then perhaps we can revisit tuition.

What needs to change and will affect student well-being: cost of living. This is where the real debt comes from. There should be some partnerships in terms of housing and simple grocery shopping. This really needs to be brought to the table. The U-pass, for instance, is brilliant, and I’m pleased to see it extended to other institutions. Can we do more in this direction?

With a global view, Canadian tuition is still some of the lowest in the world, and basic first year research skills should allow anyone to discover that in parts of the world where tuition is low or nonexistent, there is a connection between that and the number of placements in the institutions…which also quite effectively raises roadblocks for those with low-income. You don’t need to think too far to realize that when a young person might have to hold a job to help with familial basics, it affects their GPA…and if there are fewer seats in an institution, the level of acceptable GPA rises, and those who must work suffer–again. Too often, it is the young people who have had to be resourceful who bring the most to their studies in terms of creativity and mental strength. We need to see more of these young people in the classroom, and more support for them…not just those who can learn to re-package teachers’ words and who have parent-resources to spend hours at homework. For some, hours at homework is a luxury.

Bursaries can make a significant difference in such a young person’s life (or older person, returning). Bursaries–not scholarships–are a means to recognize that resourceful quality and work ethic and creativity. Bursaries are an equalizing force in a world in which true equality is still not where it should be.


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Autumn falling again

We’ve had such a short summer. Particularly so, after last year, that stretched from April through to October, one long lazy stretch and yawn–a wonder. But this, was rain and sog through June. Shining in July, sure enough, but blasting us with November jolts now and again to keep us in line, and then such an abrupt end.

I know it’s come when the boys haven’t gone in the pool for a four day stretch. It’s over, and putting it off is only that: putting it off.

It takes a solid day and half and two nights to empty the pool–two hoses, and the drain open for the last night. With apologies to the neighbours…but my guess is, with the rain, they never noticed. Such planning: add no chemicals the last week.

There’s a sudden brightening of the grass then. Always surprising how quickly. This year, the morning I awoke and it was empty (just as at the end of June, there’s a morning I awake and it’s full), the raining was sluicing over it. There was a sense of overness, some futility. I couldn’t finish the process, clean, and pack it up; not in the rain.


So I pulled the box of Okanagan preaches from the fridge, and began to slice, thin, thin slices, for the dehydrator. An hour later, the house had the heavy sweet fragrance of drying peaches–a definite fall smell–and I was torn, by missing summer, wanting to hold to summer, feeling some burgeoning sense of fall.

I was to meet a former student for a coffee, she just returned from Korea, and now in our summer cold. Starbucks. I’m in there once a year whether or not I like it. I make a point of going to the independent coffee places, but Jeyn was already there. With her coffee, at a table. I stood at the counter, the rain down, coming down outside. I ordered my coffee from the wee chalkboard on the counter. The woman behind me ordered her strawberry-banana smoothie–should have sounded refreshing, but just sounded cold. I picked up my pumpkin spice latte BIG…and realized maybe I was more on my way to fall than I liked to think…

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contests, contests…and Savvymom

Wireless working outside

There are so many voting contests. I try to take them seriously when friends and rellies contact me about them, so long as they’re about more than getting an iPad…such as the one my niece was involved in, in Kelowna last year. I was diligent about voting every day. Her project was a solid act of Community.

So I found out about this “Savvymom” project: a way of promoting and supporting home-based businesses. The prize is cash, that would go a long way to paying my amazing webmaster, Diane Askin of Netclimber Web Design, as well as a host of google and net resources.

I’m thrilled with the fact that both of my summer courses–the time of year I thought least likely to flourish–are full and happy, with productivity and creating…but I need to continue to “grow” writerswebworkshop, so that it’s healthy, as businesses–even little ones–need to be. Business vitamins, you could call it. This contest could be multi-Bs and C!

So here’s the link:

Please vote, and if you have an extra minute (!) leave a comment, and pass the word.

And thank you, thank  you, thank you!

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summer writing…working 5 to 9…what a way to make a living!

In the past two years I’ve fully developed the habit of awakening at 5. Once 8 o’clock hits, I can’t see my screen anymore. But if I don’t run away, and keep my eyes on it, I can eke out another hour…

p.s. yes, I’ve been told that the barbecue is spying on me. I’m on to it now…

p.p.s. no, I’m not sucking my thumb. I’m thinking. Big part of writing. That and staring. And yes, I do type one handed or two-fingered.


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What’s with the Dummy?

One of the first things you learn when studying ventriloquism is Don’t Call it a Dummy!!

Dummies don’t like that.

Or rather, Ventriloquial Figures don’t like that.

At 15, I took Ventriloquism by Correspondence. I was well-acquainted with correspondence at the time, as I’d taken grades 4, 8, and 9 in the same way. Felt natural to study little workbooks, practice, send off the lessons neatly filled in and, in the end, have a piece of paper for the wall.

But why a picture of me with Angie, my old vent figure?

Well, you’ll have to read MOLLY’S CUE to find out. Let’s put it this way: it’s a good thing I hang on to stuff. I’ve actually packed around all thirty lesson plans from that course (MAHER VENTRILOQUIST STUDIOS) for all these years (me being ancient and all) and I pulled them out and used them in the writing of the novel. This will now be my primary example as to why I don’t throw away and purge. Non-writers don’t get why writers just can’t purge…

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Less than a week…

…and the first course in begins! (Writing for Children; Novel- Writing begins on July 19.) I’m very excited about this. It’ll build on what began with the previous workshop site. Summertime can be such a wonder-full time to begin such a path. It seems relaxed and rather lulls you into a sense of not really doing all that much…and before you know it, you’ve accomplished something; this is my experience of awakening with the sun, sitting alone, but with a cup of coffee and a pen out on the deck. Page after page, even just a couple each day…and then a thin pile, a bit thicker, another chapter, a story…ready for the [word omitted–see comments!] re-write of Fall.


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