Spring Publishing News: Writing on Skirtboarders, Seder, Songs, Shame and More

Photo credit: FreePHOTO.ca

Here’s a spring roundup of recent publishing and writing-competition news from my former students and workshop participants, along with details of a new contest for poets (see HEIDI STOCK, below). I share these success stories here to celebrate these writers’ accomplishments and also to encourage other emerging writers.

The opportunities to reach a reading audience through memoirs and other forms of creative nonfiction, fiction based on life stories, poetry and fiction are almost limitless. As you’ll see …

(Names appear alphabetically.)


CHRISTINE BARBETTA’s memoir “The Party” is second-prize winner in the recent writing competition co-sponsored by the Canadian Federation of University Women (Aurora/Newmarket) and The Era/The Banner, with the topic Life Lessons. A reception for winners and finalists will take place April 17. Christine’s story was one she’d begun writing in my University of Toronto Memories into Stories course.

SHARON BROOKS-WALLACE’s memoir “Keikikane” (Son) is a finalist in the CFUW/The Era/The Banner competition. Her story is a mother’s reflection on the near-drowning of her two-year-old son on the island of Kauai.

Sharon, a student in the Fall 2011 session of Memories into Story, has founded the writers’ group OMG (Online Memoir Group) with others from her class: Ruth Fitzsimmons, Stephen Goldberg and Sarah Calvert. A fifth member will join this spring. Sharon’s current project is a book about her Scottish great-grandmother, Nellie, who sailed to Canada at age nineteen, and she is writing an article for the Troon Ayrshire Family History Society about her research and writing process.

SARAH CALVERT’s memoir “Eat, Pray, Songwriting … Keep It Simple,” about the pleasures and perils of being on tour as a songwriter, has been published online on the Songwriters Association of Canada website (6 Feb 2012). Also: Watch for an interview with Sarah here on my website soon.

JAN CSILLAG’s poem “Missing at This Time” appears in the Canadian Jewish News Literary Supplement (April 2012). Her poem is about the joyful expectancy of the Passover seder when the family gathers as well as the feelings of loss over loved ones who are no longer here.

STEPHEN GOLDBERG’s memoir “Silence Isn’t Golden,” a surprising story about his son’s speech therapy, has been published online at The Write Place at the Write Time. Steve told me and his fellow students that he enrolled in Memories into Story so he could get one work published and call himself a writer. And so he has, and is. (Don’t stop now, Steve.)

TILYA GALLAY HELFIELD’s memoir “Shame” appears in the recent Canadian Jewish News Literary Supplement (April 2012). “Shame” is an excerpt from Tilya’s memoir collection Metaphors for Love, currently seeking a publisher. Tilya’s describes her recent experience recording another of her memoirs, “Sweet Adeline,” for CBC’s The Sunday Edition in “On the Air.”

AMY MATTES’s  memoir “10 Years of Skirtboarders” has been published in Color Magazine. Amy is an original member of this Quebec-based group of female skateboarders. Her piece celebrates the Skirtboarders’ decade of accomplishments, which include making movies, organizing contests, and touring California, Sweden and Mexico to showcase their talent. The Skirtboarders range in age from 17 to 40 and are still thriving. Read more about them here.

MARY E. McINTYRE will see her short story “Kidnapped” published in Whispered Words, the latest anthology by Writers’ Community of Durham Region. “Kidnapped,” one of two stories by Mary to make the semi-finalists’ list, is about a young woman, distraught from a still birth, who steals another’s baby and hears her guilty conscience whispering in her head. The anthology is the published result of WCDR’s annual short story contest and comprises stories from the top 25 semi-finalists.

Mary’s memoir “Harmless” received an Honourable Mention in the CFUW/The Era/The Banner competition mentioned above. In the story, a farmer forces her to confront her irrational fear of cows.

Iron Horses: The Forging of Old and New Paths

VICTORIA SCHELE, of Santiago, Chile, is the author of Iron Horses: The Forging of Old and New Paths, a book of photo essays about the history of South American railroads that launched March 21. Iron Horses is published by Ceibo Ediciones. You can read more about it, and about Victoria, here:

LORYNNE SCHREIBER’s memoir “Internal Compass” will be published in the upcoming anthology Living Legacies IV: A Collection of Writing by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women, edited by Liz Pearl and published by PK Press of Toronto. The story is about a gift from her grandmother that influenced her life.

SUSAN SIDDELEY read this week from her book Home First: A Memoir in Voices at the Parliament Street Library as part of the Toronto Public Library series “Keep Toronto Reading.” She’ll read soon as well at the Ryerson University Library & Archives. Home First, which begins in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, is a memoir of “three generations spread over three continents.” Find out more about her writing and self-publishing journey here: Writing “Home First”: A Memoir in Voices. Susan is founder of Los Parronales Writers’ Retreat in Santiago, Chile.

HEIDI STOCK recently launched the Canadian Aspiring Poets Contest, a competition for as-yet-unpublished writers. The contest opened April 1st, the first day of National Poetry Month and closes June 1, 2012. Evelyn Lau, Vancouver’s Poet Laureate, is the contest’s honorary patron, and poet Catherine Graham is judge. Winners will share $1,000 in prize money to be directed toward individual online mentoring with Catherine, and I’ll interview the first-prize winner here on my website. Contest guidelines can be found here.

Happy spring, everyone, and keep writing.

Writers mentioned above have participated in one or more of the courses or workshops I’ve led for University of Toronto [in partnership with the New York Times Knowledge Network; online], Koffler Centre of the Arts, North York Central Library (Canadiana Department), Otter Lake Writers’ Retreat in Ontario, Canada; Los Parronales Writers’ Retreat in Chile; Sabino Springs Writers’ Retreat in Arizona; and Namaste Gardens Writing & Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica.




  1. Mary says:

    We’ve come a long way, Allyson. And you’ve connected me with my wonderful writing group, Life Writers Ink (Cheryl Andrews, Ruth Zaryski Jackson, Anahiat Nepton-Printer, Dace Z-G), plus members of WCYR who have taken your courses (Christine Barbetta, Dace Z-G, Tilya Helfied)… and the list goes on. I met Sharon Brooks-Wallace at the CFUW Awards Night and I can see you’ve had a hand in turning her on to memoir. The ripples keep rippling.

  2. liz pearl says:

    As we begin a New Year 5773 – I begin a new collection: Living Legacies – A Collection of Writing by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women – Volume IV! Please contact me directly if you or someone you know wishes to be included as a contributing author. The submission guidelines are available upon request.
    Liz Pearl
    PK Press

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