Summer Writing by Brit Griffin

There are writers that can both focus and find inspiration in public places – cafes, on crowded subways. And there are those who can grab a few minutes of their day and make them productive, snatches of text and inspiration here and there. I am not one of those. There are occasionally times when I am going about my day and characters intrude, say something or do something I had not anticipated. But for the most part, I go to them. I need the time and space to travel to the place that I am writing in, to have room for my mind to drift and settle there, and then I write what I see and hear. I need a dedicated place and I need to be alone. Right now that place is on my front veranda, with the scent of birch from the woodshed and the zipping back and forth of birds, chipmunks and two red squirrels. I started writing because I loathed summer. An unsociable teen-ager, I was quite content with the isolation of my semi-rural home. Country mornings could be pleasant enough, the smell of stables and leather, shady tree-lined trails. But those long, hot afternoons, the Prairie light just not letting go, dragging so long into the evening that we had to have blinds over our windows so we could sleep. Curtains drawn during the afternoon. That Somerset Maugham stuffiness to everything. Like all sensible creatures, I got in the habit of hiding from the sun. Found the shadiest room in the house: my Dad’s den. Where the old Smith Corona typewriter lived. I soon found the afternoons drifted by faster if the keys clacked their way through landscapes of demons and detectives and monsters and horses. Romance and violence. Who knew where a girl’s mind would go? The power to create was addictive. So many years later and I still find summer the easiest time to write. I surround myself with the beautiful things the season has to offer – the scent from my prolific Apothecary’s roses, colours of goldenrod and asters, birdsong – and retreat from what each year seems like a yet evermore merciless sun. Not the sun’s doing of course, she is just minding her own scorching business, it’s the likes of me and my species that have torn down all the blinds.
This summer I am moving on from my winter books of an apocalyptic future and am wandering into the past. A new novel, a western fable that rambles through revenge and romance, monsters and violence; a novel that wonders if there is a different way of being in nature that is life-giving. It is reassuring to me that after all these years, there are still so many fine characters to meet in that landscape of my childhood imaginarium.

Acquisition Reality by Emma Jay

As a student in the Publishing program at Centennial College, I imagined how I would one day determine the manuscripts to be published. I had a very romantic idea about the whole thing. I envisioned a gigantic slush pile in the form of hundreds of emailed queries that I would have to go through, wading through story after story and only choosing the most well-written, interesting, impactful stories to put out into the world. I thought evaluating submissions came down to looking at just writing quality and the author’s ability to tell a good story. However, the reality of working in acquisitions ended up being very different. Overall, it was a lot less romantic than I expected; it required a far greater focus on business, evaluating a book as a marketable product instead of just a meaningful story. Like being an author, I think careers in publishing are easy to idealize. People who love books but don’t work with them see them as having an almost whimsical quality — the author writes this amazing story, and suddenly it’s printed and bound and put out into the world, ready to be loved by hundreds of people. The reality is that publishing is a business like everything else. Behind every book is a process that involves a whole team of people who work very hard to get it into the hands of readers. It’s a process that takes a lot of time, money, and other resources. The most important question asked at the acquisition table is: do we invest in this author and story? When I started my internship at Latitude 46, I really began to understand the reality of the acquisitions process. Looking at submissions, I had to think of so much more than whether the story had merit or if it was well written. Determining whether or not I thought a book had potential was only the first consideration; if the answer to that question was yes, I had to step out of the role of the reader into the role of a business person. I had to look at the story and ask myself if there was a market for this kind of work. Would people buy it, and if so, who is that buyer? Will the book sell enough copies to justify the cost of putting it through the rigorous and expensive publishing process? Am I confident that the writer will put in the effort to promote the book and get themselves more readers? For a publishing house to survive, they need their books to make back the cost of the whole process, from hiring editors to printing and binding to marketing and distribution. A book holds a lot of sentimental meaning to an author, but it’s also a product in the marketplace. At the end of the day, thinking a manuscript is good just isn’t enough to get it selected for publication. Still, even if a manuscript is well written and will likely sell successfully, there is one last consideration that needs to be made before it’s selected for publication. Does it meet the mandate of the publishing house? This factor carries a lot of weight. The books a publisher puts out are not only a reflection of the author’s ability, but also the values and merit of the publisher itself. At Latitude 46, that mandate comes down to two very important criteria: whether the manuscript has a strong connection to Northern Ontario and whether the story itself is one we have yet to read. The first part of that is fairly self-explanatory, while the second requires more thought. Evaluating whether or not we, as a publisher, wanted to publish a manuscript and share its story came down to considering Latitude 46’s values. Representation was always a very important quality to look for; underrepresented and marginalized voices need to be heard and included in Canadian literature, so those stories were always prioritized. Other considerations involved looking at the overall message that the manuscript was trying to communicate and what kind of impact it may have on the reader. These were the things that made evaluating submissions most intimidating. Published books have a significant role in shaping culture, so I always felt a degree of responsibility if I was going to endorse a book to be published. Was this book going to make a positive contribution to Canadian literary culture in some way? Does it provide insight into important conversations that need to be had about our society? I took these questions very seriously every time I looked at a new submission and gained a whole new understanding of the business of publishing.  

Mindfulness in a pandemic by Gary Petingola

When I received the box of “my” newly published book, I used all of my senses to simply be with it. I felt the cover, touched each page, read parts of it out loud and looked at the cover’s artwork. The dragonfly artwork originally hand painted by my daughter “Brown Eyes,” seemed to almost jump off the cover as a symbol of new beginnings. Incredible, I was now officially an author! Thinking back to that Saturday morning stroll through the outdoor market, coming across Latitude 46 Publishing’s table laid out with books is how this journey all started. I had quickly gathered enough courage to approach the table and pitch my idea to write a book compiled of weekly stories and insights on the topic of mindfulness. I shared how a book like this could be a rich addition to the literature, something not yet done as far as I knew in the realm of mindfulness literature. The publishers seemed interested, took my card and said they would be in touch. A few weeks later, I received an email inviting me to come by their office to discuss the book proposal further. I was ecstatic! I arrived at their offices armed with an eight-inch-thick binder filled with almost nine years of weekly meditation stories. Not sure how we could possibly turn this scribbling into a book, but they sent me off with suggestions to work on the first draft. I often pondered what I had gotten myself into as I watched the seasons go by. Yet, I found it comforting to review the stories and reflect on the real people who influenced my writing. In my naivety though I had the illusion I would simply package my writings and I would have a book. This was far from reality. The ordering of chapters and stories changed. Chapter titles were redrafted. I learned to remove unnecessary uses of the word “that” and I slowly introduced mindfulness practices at the end of each story. I knew it had reached its completion when I read it from cover to cover for the fifth time and it made me smile. In the end, I could hand over the final draft and feel pride at what we accomplished. The book launch took place in late February 2020, and after the celebration my wife and I hopped on a plane for Portugal with plans to return to Canada in a month and continue promoting the book in person. However, instead of the original plans, the global pandemic shut the world down and I was forced to return early and within weeks life as we knew it changed in an instant. This felt like a grey and heavy time. Like many others around the world, we were numb, frightened and anxious. During this time, we practiced yoga and meditation daily. The Body Scan mindfulness practice outlined in my book became our new late-afternoon friend. I read excerpts from my book and they made me reflect and find comfort. It was uncanny that the book I had written and hoped would benefit others, was now helpful to me. These last six months have been exceptionally challenging, trying to find balance between wishing things were different, reminiscing about Pre- COVID-19 days, worrying about the future, and simply carrying on. As I shared in The Response, I find grounding in small everyday encounters. This summer we had a chipmunk in our front yard who dug a hole under our stone walkway. Every so often he nudges his head up, checks out his surroundings and after a quick perusal returns to his place of safety. I smile as I secretly witness this behaviour. It occurs to me that it is similar to how many of us are coping during this pandemic time. Hiding away for safety with occasional forays into the community. As a first born, type A male, I find it hard to not want to fix. It is difficult to just be with. Yet, this is precisely what mindfulness has taught me. To be with the present moment, purposefully, with full presence in a particular way without judgment. It means being with both the pleasant and unpleasant circumstances of life with curiosity and spaciousness. To ride the wave, vulnerable to ebbs and flows without capsizing. It allows for one to live life with stability and calm, particularly in times of high stress. Mindfulness helps us to not dwell in the past or worry about the future. I have felt at times the pandemic has cheated me of exciting new author opportunities, yet part of me is happy to know this book is even more relevant during these historical times. Mindfulness practice is a useful tool amid a pandemic that can cause us to feel strong emotions like fear, sadness, and anger, perpetuated by ruminative thinking; to cope with self-isolation, physical distancing, and change; to reduce daily anxiety, improve sleep and to reduce inflammation. I have come to realize The Response – Practising Mindfulness in Your Daily Life has arrived just at the perfect time. Gary Petingola MSW, RSW    

Fiction Inspired by Ancestry by Eleanor Albanese

My mother had never visited the cemetery where her grandmother, Mary Mohan, was buried. My mother knew some things about Mary—she arrived in the United States from Ireland on board a coffin ship and was the only surviving member of her family. All died of typhus and all were buried at sea. My mother also knew Mary had died while giving birth and her husband had a drinking problem. But other than these few details, she knew little else. A decade ago, my sister who lives in Winnipeg, offered to drive my mother to Ardoch, North Dakota where Mary had raised her family. The two of them set off on their day-trip adventure, hoping to locate Mary Mohan’s resting place. The cemetery was set in a cozy grove, with trees and headstones and rambling pathways typical of small-town America. Mary Jane’s headstone was found with little effort. What surprised my sister and mother wasn’t the epitaph, or the fact that the tombstone indicated that she had died in childbirth—rather, it was the date that left them astonished. There they were, staring at the tombstone exactly one hundred years from the day  she had passed away. It was a significant moment, not only for my mother, but also for me when I heard tell of it. I grew up with dozens of visitors gathered around my grandmother’s kitchen table, drinking coffee from the ceramic blackened percolator, or some of us dipping into the case of beer tucked beside the fridge. There was always plenty of storytelling and “good humour” but no one ever touched on the life of Mary. It was too far in the past—it belonged to another time and place.  After hearing of the 100-day coincidence, however, I found myself intrigued. Could I bring her story to life? Could I conjure up the details, the hardship, and what it meant to be a mother long before my time? These questions compelled me to give Mary Mohan a voice, even though I had only a few crumbs to go on.  And so, I began to write her story in first person. Through my pen, both Mary and her dear friend Fiorella shared their version of events. I found myself jumping almost two decades to WW1 France, with my grandfather—Mary’s son—taking over the narration. Following that, his wife, Primrose from northern Ontario, spoke. And on it went, with one narrator after the other, eager to share their part in the storytelling. Though the first draft was completed, I knew  in order to do the story justice, I had years of research ahead of me. I had strung the warp, but now needed to weave in the yarn. I had never felt the slightest interest in military history; yet suddenly I was diving into it with an obsessive interest. I also unearthed papers from a variety of academics that had explored midwifery and herbology in a historical context, as well as folk remedies and practices from old world southern Italy where my paternal grandparents came from. The novel moves through the generations, and with the passage of time, the history became more accessible to me. I found myself interviewing all my living aunts and uncles to see what gems I could unearth. I’m not sure if it was the home-grown vegetables or the severity of surviving a northern climate with nothing but a wood stove to keep them warm, but either way, my aunts and uncles seemed to live longer than most. After many drafts, many cuts, I felt the novel was ready to share with a publisher. What stays with me most about this process is the understanding I now have about the creative process. With an emotional and familial connection to the characters, there was a well from which to draw; but without the rich layers of historical fact and oral storytelling, there would have been no story.

Telling the Untold by Dieter Buse

When Graeme Mount and I researched and wrote Come on Over:  Northeastern Ontario we discovered that our area had many local cenotaphs listing hundreds of soldiers who had served. Yet, somehow Northeastern Ontario received no mention in Canadian military histories. We wondered why, given the attention to local participants in Canada’s various wars on Remembrance Days. In 2014 we decided to research the subject and put together a book, Untold: Northeastern Ontario’s Military History, Volumes I and II, showing the participation from this region. We knew so little then and were surprised at how much we found. As a wise man said “dig where you stand”, so we started with the public library. In Sudbury we found lists of individuals who had served compiled by librarians, Legions, and school groups. In Sault Ste. Marie we found hints at the structure of the military in anniversary booklets and memoirs from POWs. In Timmins the archivist allowed us to go through original newspapers. Soon we knew two things, the region had a much longer military tradition than anyone had noted due to the militias that had units over most of the northeast for all the 20th century. Further, we found that the men from northeastern Ontario were recruited in local battalions but then put into those identified with south, central and eastern Ontario. We next tried to find the lists of men or nominal rolls of the original battalions to let us answer basic questions, such as who were the men that enlisted and where did they fight or when? Most important were the service and medical files held in Ottawa. Summaries of the enlistment files for the First World War had been digitalized and the complete files were being done when we started and all are now available via the Internet. The summaries of the deceased of the Second World War had also been digitalized. Then we learned a trick: if we did not go to the Library and Archives Canada website, but to the Ancestry genealogical site for the service files, we could manipulate the data. We could ask for a list of all soldiers who had served from specific places by birthplace or who had lived there. That way we found who served and died from, say Moose Factory or Timmins or Algoma and Nipissing districts. Another trick was to use the registration number after or before the one we already had, say a soldier from Chapleau or Massey. Suddenly we discovered how many Indigenous served and seemed to have enlisted together. With that information, a careful look let us see patterns of when recruited, where placed and when died. The individual medical files revealed special cases and by coordinating with dates of battles we knew where they served on the front. Hence our books have sections on Indigenous, Francophones, Forestry Corps, Railway Troops and Tunnelers. War diaries of units, personal memoirs, and newspapers all provided stories and soon our collection of information grew into a mass that needed structure and organization. Instead of the usual chronological approach, we decided our study would have more impact if we did it in three parts. The first, is the wars which shows that Northeasterners participated, contributed and sacrificed in all the major Canadian battles. The second, is their experiences, demonstrating the interesting stories which emerged on the battle and home fronts. The third is remembrance, showing the special aspects of commemoration in this area. While putting together the books we went to legions, asked media to announce our project and started asking for more stories by revealing some of what we had collected to date about POWS, women’s roles, special units in which Northeasterners were represented. Writing, reorganizing, discussing what to emphasize, following hints on good materials. What was most interesting is family members digging out old diaries, newspaper articles, service records and photographs that helped us tell the untold stories of those who served in the military. These books finally highlight the contributions made by men and women from northeastern Ontario to military service.

Poetry lets us know we are not alone by Thomas Leduc

At this moment we are a world of poets. When our emotions are struggling, we search our words to make sense of what’s happening around us. The news drips, a leaky tap to our ears, as we huddle up in our homes and search for answers. We scroll through social media, listen to our leader’s speeches, and talk with one another. From our neighbours and loved ones we witness actions of weakness and bravery. Hidden in all these words and actions is poetry. A limerick to make us laugh, a haiku to have us ponder, a few lines to remind us we are all human, connected and loved. Recently my wife was scanning some of my grade school photos and she came across a poem I had written when I was about eleven years old. The poem is titled Bravery To Me. I forgot this poem existed. There was no reason for my parents to keep this poem. They kept no other school papers except report cards, so why did they keep the poem. Why did we find it now? Was it because now the definition of bravery is being test around the world?
In our songs, in our speeches, in our war cries and on our tombstones. The oldest piece of writing ever found is of a poem. We keep them because we need them. They touch the truth; the soul of what it is to be human. Words are what define us so choose them wisely, share them, write them down and keep them. When you need to define what you see happening in the world around you, poetry will find you. Poetry lets us know we are not alone. A world of poetry means I see you; I hear you; I feel you and I will connect with you.   Thomas Leduc, author of Slagflower: Poems Unearthed from a Mining Town

Journey Into the Realm of Bookselling by Cory Gaudette

I’ve been a reader since I can remember. Even before I was an avid reader, my mother would read to me every night. The Harry Potter series being one of our favorites. As a teen, I was obsessed with classics. The Bronte sisters and Jane Austen were my go-to novels. And, as an adult, I dove deep into the worlds of fantasy and historical fiction. It’s no surprise to me that I got hired at my favorite, local bookstore, Bay Used Books. I’ve been shopping there since I was 12 or 13. Working as a bookseller only confirmed my love of literature. With a constant flow of recommendations from other readers, and one-on-one book discussions with readers who loved the same titles and genres as me, the values of reading became much more apparent to me. Being a reader and a bookseller went hand-in hand. Here’s what changed. In 2016 I started in the Public Relations program at Cambrian College. I was adamant about getting some education and experience to better myself and lifestyle. Unfortunately, during this time, the only reading I could get in was textbooks with similar titles like “Intergrated Marketing Communications” and “Introduction to Marketing”. I much preferred Isabelle Allende, Barbara Kingsolver, Susan Cokal, and of course, J.K Rowling, but I had to give them up to focus on my studies. At the end of my three-year college program, I was tasked with finding a suitable position in the Public Relations field for a seven week placement. I had some ideas, but was thankful when I found a lead at Latitude 46 Publishing. After a quick interview with the publisher, Heather Campbell, my placement was confirmed, and I was delighted to stay in the book industry, which I didn’t think was a possibility for me. Being a reader and a bookseller aided me in the basics of being a publicist for local, Northern Ontarian authors. However, being a reader and a bookseller made me blind to all the hard work that happens behind the scenes in the publishing process. As a reader/seller, you only see the completed work, as though the book is written by the author and handed directly to the reader. As a publicist, you start at ground zero. I work with the author and a designer to get a finalized product. This includes the layout, cover design, re-reading and editing, finding a printer to get copies, and the never ending deadlines. Then comes the hard part. Marketing the book so that booksellers are aware of it and buy it for their stores to sell to readers. This includes book launches, social media marketing, and making hundreds of connections to festivals, podcasts, blogs, etc, that coincide with the book’s theme and author. I learned quickly that selling books is not an easy task. However, after my seven week placement with Latitude 46, I understand the need for their work. Latitude 46 is dedicated to publishing Canadian Literature, something that large book sellers tend to write off. Large booksellers want best-sellers and guarantee buys. But this doesn’t stop the small publishing press. They continue to publish titles that enrich Northern Ontario’s literary community and work hard to get great Canadian content out there. Being a publicist for local authors, and supporting their books has been an amazing opportunity for me. Ultimately, my goal as a publicist is to sell more books, but in a much different way from when I work at the bookstore. At the bookstore, people walk in with the intention of finding a book, whereas a publicist must find a reader. Two different stories, all for the love of a great read.

Writing in the Anthropocene by Brit Griffin

My imagination has been tuned into the ticking of the Doomsday clock for some time. The crucible of extreme events, of catastrophe and Armageddon, have always been of interest. How we behave in these worst moments says something about us as human beings. That interested me. And so it was natural that my first work of fiction would be speculative fiction. The Wintermen series started out as speculative fiction about climate change. I probably started thinking about the storyline in 2010, intrigued more by the idea of perpetual winter than climate change. As the first book went from draft to final version it evolved, more preoccupied by a warming climate, by the consequences of our addiction to fossil fuels. I spent the next several years imagining and writing about a possible future, exploring a cautionary scenario that helped me think about what might be and how we could act to avoid that future. Problem is, it is no longer speculative. There is no more future tense when it comes to climate change, there is only the here and now. As I write, Antarctica recorded its hottest day ever. Climate change rages through our daily media coverage; maybe even now reaching a toxic tipping point of media saturation. Too many animals reduced to ash, too much of the mass extinctions. Too many homes washed away or burnt. It is not possible for me to write about climate change as a what if, and that changes the project. So when I came to write the third, and final, book in the Wintermen series (At the End of the World, fall 2020), it was with an understanding of it as a book of transition and uncertainty. So how then to write about climate change now? It is time maybe to shift from the dystopian project to the utopian one. If we could tear it all down, what would we want instead? Art can help us imagine a different way of being, to resist an apocalyptic machismo that turns a select few into successful preppers and the rest of us into victims. The imagination can be a sharp weapon. We could use it like a crowbar, to pry open the narrow vision of how humans and non- humans can be in the world together. To see more wholistic visions, and versions, of ourselves.

Telemarketing: The Bottom Rung

In the fall of 1996, while between theatre directing gigs, I was employed by a telemarketing call centre in Toronto to sell long distance phone packages to small businesses over the phone. During my eight month tour of duty I was indoctrinated into the high pressure world of telephone sales and the fight for survival in that wild and woolly call centre. It was an opportunity to meet and study the people who worked in those ridiculously stressful jobs which I equated with a military unit. The pressure was intense. You had to make 150 to 200 cold calls per day. You had to get at least three sales a day, five days a week, for a total of 15 sales a week to get your commission. If you fell short, if you got 14 sales, you didn’t get your commission. It was all or nothing. In order to hit your 15 sales there was pressure to slam (con a customer by switching their telephone service without their knowledge or authorization). The experience provided the framework for much my new novel, A Matter of Will, providing the reader with a behind-the-scenes look at the world of telemarketing fraud as seen through the eyes of Will Crosswell, an out of work actor, and the men employed by a fictitious long distance phone company provider in the mid-nineties. A Matter of Will unfolds at a time when internet sales, cell phone long distance, and the new long distance providers like Telus and Fido were still on the horizon. The characters in the book are bound up in a dysfunctional brotherhood of isolation and competitive one-upmanship. They are Darwin’s apes battling for survival in an old technology world on the verge of extinction.  They are weeds at the bottom rung of the Great Chain of Being. And so they hustle onward – bantering, zinging, barbing, and jabbing away at each other, held in time and place by the nature of their unrelenting, repetitious telemarketing jobs. Telemarketing calls are one of society’s most irritating pet peeves. Who hasn’t received an annoying telemarketing phone call right in the middle of their dinner? Telemarketing replaced the door-to-door salesmen of the fifties. Why? You can’t shoot someone over the phone. Telemarketing is criticized as unethical due to the high-pressure sales and slamming techniques used during unsolicited calls. Because of the volume of complaints against the telemarketing industry, the American Government responded with increased protection for consumers and regulations for telemarketers. The Telephone Commission Protection Act, enacted in 1991, stated that telemarketers had to abide by a series of rules to stop fraudulent practice and slamming. The CRTC followed suit a few years later. Even despite the regulations, unscrupulous telemarketing companies did not comply with the laws. And the slamming continued. Jump to twenty-seven years later. Time: the present. In a January 23rd, 2018 news article, CBC announced that its investigation of the sales practices of major telemarketing companies has prompted growing calls to hold a public inquiry. On the heels of more allegations of wrongdoing inside the industry, dozens of telecom workers contacted Go Public, revealing intense pressure to upsell customers. The CRTC responded by saying that examining sales practices of Canada’s telemarketers doesn’t fall under its mandate. In wake of the CBC’s recent investigative report, sadly, nothing has really changed in the tele-sales industry… only the technology. By Rod Carley      

Into my father’s hands

After years of working on a manuscript, I imagine that most authors strive to get noticed by a publisher and land that first book deal, but publication was not my original intention. Since I was a teenager, I knew my father had an extraordinary story and I’d wanted to write it, but I worried that asking him about his life during the war would dredge up all too painful memories. Twenty-five years later, driven by fears of escaping time, diminishing memories, and increasing health concerns, we decided it was time to record his memories before they disappeared altogether. At the time, I thought little about what the finished project would look like, focusing only on remembering and recording. As our project evolved over months and years, I considered many options for sharing his story with our family, and even some close friends who had expressed interest. We discussed printing out copies, and maybe even binding it at a local print shop. During that period, I shared parts of the manuscript with teachers and classmates in my creative writing classes at University of Toronto. They encouraged me to complete and publish his story in book form. When the manuscript was complete, and with my father’s blessing, I sent it out to a few small presses and crossed my fingers, but that winter my father’s health declined and I felt that there was no time to lose. That’s when I decided to self-publish. The decision to become an indie author was the right one for so many reasons. There is no way to describe how I felt when I placed a copy of my father’s story into his hands or the look on his face when he saw his image on the cover. Fortunately, my father’s health improved enough that he could participate in book launches and other events with me after publication. As an author, self-publishing also taught me so much about the other side of writing: interior design and layout, various types of editing, cover design, shipping, distribution, sales, promotion, and a host of other issues I hadn’t thought about while I’d spent hours writing at my laptop. Months after self-publishing, I learned that a new small press had sprung up in my hometown with a focus on northern writers. As is my nature, I threw my hat, or in this case my manuscript, into the mix. What was there to lose? It turned out that it was a chance worth taking. When the publishers at Latitude 46 presented me with a contract, I received much more than that. All those roles I’d had to learn were now divvied amongst a group of passionate individuals whose purpose was to nurture my father’s story and support my efforts as an author. My book received a fresh interior layout, careful and respectful editing, and a lovely new cover, while I received a supportive team of individuals who believed in the book as much as I did. I’ll never regret self-publishing, but the transition to traditional publishing has been beyond my expectations. This time, I recognize the need for stories like my father’s to be read and shared beyond our circle of family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is an author out there that doesn’t dream of getting that first book deal, but placing the book in my father’s hands was more important to me than waiting for years for a publisher that might never arrive. To my delight and surprise, as if by magic, a publisher did arrive, and in my own backyard. They had faith in me and in my project. Now, I’m looking forward to the moment when, once again, I can place a copy of my father’s story into his hands. For that I am forever grateful. –Liisa Kovala Surviving Stutthof: My father’s memories behind the Death Gate will be available Sept. 28 2017. Pre order your copy on May 1 2017.    
photo credits: Gerry Kingsley