Local Support

Winnipeg is an amazing city for us writerly-types. Maybe it’s the winters that promise long, cold nights conducive to curling up with books. Maybe it’s the prairie horizons that spread out and invite
us to expand our own horizons. 

Last weekend I attended the AGM for the MWG.  (Love those acronyms!)  It was the Manitoba Writers’ Guild annual general meeting. First time I’ve gone! I felt bad that last year’s AGM didn’t have enough members for quorum. Obviously, others felt the same way, because this year the AGM was well attended.

Arts’ organizations, like other non-profits, run on shoe-string budgets. They deserve moral support because they sure aren’t in it for the money. I wish Susan Rocan, the new president of the board, much success. She’s a generous soul, hard worker, and talented YA writer.

A couple of the new board members, Mindi Friesen and Deborah Froese, are members of the Anita Factor writing group, along with Mel Matheson, the Guild’s executive director. (Mel also happens to be the designer of my Katya books.)  

All these talented women work incredibly hard in the local writing community. I’m honored to know them. They (and others!) inspire me to keep writing, exploring and imagining.

Writing Projects

I spent this past summer re-working Amber Stone (tentative title). It will be the third book in my series which follows the life of Katya Halter from about 1930 onwards. It’s inspired by my mother’s tumultuous youth beginning as a kulak in the Soviet Union. Amber Stone focuses on the years just before the Second World War. It’s set in East Prussia, which in those years was Germany’s most eastern province. 

(Map created by Matthead based on East_Prussia_1939.kpg from English Wikipedia)
File:East Prussia 1923-1939.png

After the war, East Prussia was divided amongst Lithuania, Russia and Poland. My mom’s territory around Königsberg (now called Kaliningrad) now belongs to the Russian Federation. I’m saving my dollars for a trip over there…hopefully by the fall of 2018.  (Fingers crossed that unexpected expenses stay away!) Traveling is such a great way to research…even if the country is no longer a political reality and its people all expelled and by now mostly dead. Memories stay caught in the trees, the stones along the beach, and in the very soil of the land.  

I learned a lot while exploring the 1930s in Nazi Germany. What a     frightening time…especially because we all know what happened later. It’s hard to keep the shadow of the imposing future out of the story…but I tried my best to look at it from their shoes…from Katya’s view.

The image of the East Prussian coat of arms, which I found while wandering through Manitoba's Interlake this summer, proves that East Prussian memories still exist more than seventy years later...and a continent away.

Now I’ll spend the winter revising my fourth book of the series. Tentatively titled Crow Stone, it begins in January, 1945 as the Third Reich collapses. It follows Katya into Soviet captivity and explores her more than two years in the Ural Mountains. It’s been a lot harder to find information about women prisoners in the Soviet Union and I’m relying a lot on my mom’s memories.  Of course I’d love to visit the Urals and see some of the former prisoner of war camps. That’ll be my next savings goal. For now, I have books, the internet, Mom’s stories, and my imagination.

German female prisoners of war being released July, 1947 in Soviet Union. My mom could possibly be part of this group.
File:Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1983-0422-308, Heimkehrerlager Polte Nord.jpg
Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1983-0422-308 / Donath, Otto / CC-BY-SA 3.0

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