Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Writing and Publishing Beginnings





Hi Elma, I'm trying to reconstruct the Young Cooperators Club page on Facebook since it mysteriously disappeared several months ago. Elaine Shein and I thought we should start up another one, and since the interest is there with members, we did! Here is the new Facebook page if you would like to rejoin. We'd love to see you there!

I read the message from Carol MacKay over a second time. Young Cooperators (YC) Club sounded familiar to me, but who was Carol and how did she get my contact information?  YC Club took me back many years…

The Western Producer


My dad had a subscription to the Western Producer, a weekly farm paper, when I was growing up. Since he was responsible for raising our colony’s poultry and water fowl, he was interested in most of the farm news.   My sisters and I usually just paged through each new edition, not really getting much involved in the agricultural articles. 
One day however, things changed for my sister Linda and me.  We were both avid readers and also enjoyed writing, so when we discovered the YC pages, we felt this might be where we could have our ramblings published! We sent a letter to Sister Anne, the YC editor and soon received a letter welcoming us to send in our contributions.  Both of us submitted stories, poems and also a bit of art work and were as excited as young children watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis when we received YC crests for our first publications and then certificates and 5th contribution stamps.  Feedback given to us by fellow YCs, (leaders or poet laureates) was another aspect that added to our enthusiasm.  For months, we anxiously waited for each weekly paper to see if our contributions had been published.
A dozen or more years later, I enrolled in Brandon University’s Bachelor of Education program.  Towards the end of the four-year program, I took a course on children’s literature.  It was here we were assigned to write a children’s book.  Immediately, I knew I wanted mine to be published!  I found an illustrator who did a fabulous job adding pictures to my words.  Although I sent query letters to numerous publishers, it took ten years for me to find the right one, or more accurately, for the right publisher to find my manuscript and me!  I’ve since published a second book and have a third one ready to be published.  Since I belong to a writers’ group, I’m always writing something, so I have a few more stories in the back burner that I hope will be published one day.

Publishing

I teach kindergarten to grade eight at Elm River Colony where I grew up and still live; therefore, when I started planning my first book, I knew I wanted it to serve three purposes:
1)    Provide my Hutterite students with a book where they could connect and identify with the characters.
2)    Offer non-Hutterite children a glimpse into my unique culture.
3)    Create something I could use in my teaching to introduce different concepts.

The main characters in my books are an inquisitive mouse named Marty and his friend Lizzie, a Hutterite girl.  The text is written in rhyme and is interspersed with words in the Hutterite dialect.  Cynthia Stahl from Odanah Colony, my illustrator, captures just the right balance of whimsy and Hutterite culture.  In the first book, Marty learns about shapes, in the second one it is colours and in the third one, he’ll learn to count.

Since our YC days, my sister Linda (Lucky Lynn) has had several books published: Linda’s gl├╝cklicher Tag, a picture book written in German and Hutterite Diaries, a collection of short stories about Hutterite life.  She’s also written articles for Herald Leader Press, Winnipeg Free Press and Manitoba Cooperator.  My books and also Linda’s are available at hbbookcentre.com.

Little did we know when we wrote our introductory letters to Sister Ann that our contributions to the YC pages would be just the beginning of our writing careers.
Thanks Carol, fellow YC contributor, for inviting me to join YC on Facebook.  Although I never met any of the YC members in person, it’s wonderful to connect and discover the writing journeys different members are taking – journeys that found their beginnings in the YC pages of The Western Producer.


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