Publishing the true stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan, Canada.
We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by
Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also assist authors in self-publishing their work. Visit our website and buy our books at driverworks.ca.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Two Lines & Some Photos

So I feel like mixing it up a bit. Here's ONE LINE pertaining to our booksONE LINE about whatever comes to mind, and A FEW PHOTOS thrown in because I love photography. Enjoy!

I'm excited to join the inspiring eight-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner and her wingman/husband Graham tomorrow at Relay For Life in Lumsden, Saskatchewan to hear Dionne speak and then we'll all sign our Never Leave Your Wingman books!

Dionne & Graham Warner arriving at Relay For Life in Yorkton, SK last year.

I love this photo I snapped quickly from the car while we were coming home from Yorkton last June:


We have a contest on our DriverWorks Ink Facebook page that you can enter before June 4th - if you live in Canada - where we're giving away a Running Of The Buffalo and a The Little Coat book to celebrate Father's Day.

I dislike dandelions. Immensely. (I know that's two sentences, but it's still one line. Stupid dandelions.)


I love many other non-pungent flowers, however, including African violets that grow for me (above) and the brilliant hibiscus (below) which remind me of my mother and her green thumb.



If you are a TEACHER or a LIBRARIAN in or near one of the following communities and would like us to visit and speak about our books this fall (at no cost to you) - please contact me: Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Winnipeg, Prince Albert, Tisdale, Yorkton, Saskatoon, Rosetown, Weyburn, Estevan, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lloydminster. Email ddriver@sasktel.net with your ideas.

OK, that was more than one line - but we really want to hear from teachers and librarians as well as info about TRADE/CRAFT shows in those regions that we could attend... And I did throw in a few beautiful photos!


Shout out to Blondie's Gift and Garden Centre in Dunmore, Alberta - where the hibiscus above and the great signs below can be found!


This sign in particular made me smile. How often do we not recognize a sign when  it's in front of us?

It's raining here. I appreciate the rain's cleansing power... Less allergy problems and more greenery very soon!



I can hardly wait. Happy growing season, everyone!




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Bathroom Reader?

We've received many great compliments about my book Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope - and many of our other Prairie books, too.

So thank you for all those responses and keep 'em coming!

Tonight, I was chatting with a woman who commented that she hadn't read this week's selection for her book club and she wondered if she should even attempt it since there are only two days left until the Friday meeting. I replied that the book they chose might be one that is a page-turner that hooks her right away and causes her to stay up all night until she's finished the book. Those are the best books!

Then I remembered a great story that we heard shortly after Never Leave Your Wingman was published.

A woman told us that she was reading the Wingman book at bedtime and didn't want to stop reading when it was time to turn out the lights. While her husband went to sleep, she grabbed the book and snuck into the adjoining bathroom in the dark, turning on the bathroom light only after she'd closed the door to the room.

She read for a little while, then her husband awoke and called out to her. She turned out the light to the bathroom, then grabbed a flashlight and snuck away - to their closet! - where she sat on the floor and read the rest of the book with the aid of a flashlight!

Now THAT's a page-turner - and a great response to our book!

We don't care where you read our books - just as long as you read them!

Our friend and author, the late Ron Petrie was a talented newspaper humour columnist. He used to call his Running of the Buffalo book a 'bathroom reader' - because you can take it into the bathroom and read one or two of his humour columns while doing your business, and then leave the book there until your next visit. As Ron used to say, "The bathroom is better than some places that my work has ended up - such as training puppies, the bottom of birdcages..."

So we hope you continue to enjoy our Prairie books - with or without a toilet nearby.




Sunday, May 12, 2013

Remembering Mom

I once asked my mom why I got the unusual name in our family. And why didn't she spell it with two 'ee's - as in Deena - so people would pronounce it correctly?

"I was going to call you Mayris," she said. (Pronounced My-riss.)

"Umm... Deana is good," I replied. "Thanks, Mom."

My mom was a creative person with a crazy sense of humour. She loved to tease and invent stories, and I am thankful that she passed this gift of creativity on to me. She encouraged me at a young age to not take life or myself too seriously, but to work hard at what I do. I learned many things from Mom, including how to sew and embroider, write and create, laugh and tell stories, tease and love. She encouraged in me a strong faith and a desire to share what I have learned, to teach and help others.

My mom passed away in July 2011 of inoperable pancreatic and liver cancer, just a few weeks after we launched my book Never Leave Your Wingman - the true story of a seven-time cancer survivor in Regina, Saskatchewan who dances her way into her chemo sessions dressed in costume with her wingman husband. Dionne Warner's beautiful story of hope and love helped me and my family get through that very difficult time of my mom's illness.

I still had two chapters left to write of the book when I received a call that my mom had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. We visited her in an Edmonton hospital the following day and I was able to show my mom and siblings the photos of the beautiful, exuberant Dionne and her fun-loving husband Graham dressed as cowpokes, pirates, rock stars and much more as they faced Dionne's cancer treatments head-on with laughter and hope. Their joy took some of the fear out of Mom's cancer diagnosis for us. We saw it more as a part of life and something that we all now had to face together as a family.

I had numerous telephone conversations with my mom in the following months as she became progressively sicker. She asked about complementary treatments that Dionne had taken and she visited a practitioner who gave her hope. 

The oncologist initially told Mom she had six months to live. My mom honestly responded with: "I'd be surprised if it was that long." She died peacefully three months later.

Mom was ready to go, but we weren't ready to say goodbye. We will always miss her, but we will also always carry a large piece of her in our hearts and in our actions.

I will never know if my mom was joking when she told me about the Mayris name, but it doesn't really matter. I will think of the smirk on her face as she told me all these silly stories, and the love in her eyes as she taught me all she knew.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone.




Friday, May 10, 2013

A Day in Saskatoon


So there I was, sitting at the table at the Coles book store in Saskatoon’s Midtown Centre mall last Sunday when a number of very interesting things happened:


A nine-year-old girl came up to me with her mom and they gladly accepted my leaflet describing our books. The girl, who was well beyond her years in intelligence, was excited that I am an author. I asked her if she liked to write and was told that she does. I encouraged her, as I do all young writers, by telling her that writing is a wonderful way to learn and develop your skills.

“Do you like to read?” she shot back at me.

Why, yes, I do. This young lady reads all the time apparently. (I wasn’t surprised.) “I’ve read the whole Harry Potter series and the Kane Chronicles,” she said. Good for her. At age nine, that was impressive.

We spent a few more minutes chatting and admiring each other’s talents and gifts. We had a mutual admiration going on for quite a while.

Some time later, the young man working at the cellular phone booth in the middle of the mall kept looking at my table full of DriverWorks Ink books. Finally, he walked over and picked up The Sailor and the Christmas Trees, which I wrote and Catherine Folnovic illustrated.

“This intrigues me. What’s it about?” he asked.



I told him the brief description of the book. It’s about a sailor from Manitoba who cut down some evergreens in Newfoundland in November 1944 and hid them on the ship for a month so he could bring them out on Christmas Day in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, surprising his crewmates and some little children on another ship in that convoy who were coming to Canada from England. 

       




“It’s a children’s book but adults are enjoying it as well because of the War connection and the inspiring story,” I told him.

“So it’s a children’s book!” he said, even more interested now. “My nephews and nieces love it when I read to them. I’m always looking for books for them.”

This prompted me to introduce him to SuperMom and the BigBaby by Dave Driver.


 “It’s a great children’s book for ages 2 and up, about a little guy who grows and grows into a giant baby terrorizing the neighbourhood,” I told him. “The parents have to figure out how to get him back home, so Mom grabs a mask and cape and becomes SuperMom and saves the day. The other thing is that the author’s wife talks in her sleep and everything that SuperMom says in the book is something his wife said in her sleep. It’s a funny story, kind of like a Robert Munsch book.”

“I love Robert Munsch,” he said, “but I’ve already got all his books… 

"The artwork’s amazing,” he said. 

I agreed. Guy Laird is a very talented artist.





Then the young man had to get back to work, but I watched him at his spot, reading our entire leaflet later that afternoon. Who knows if he’ll ever buy one of those books, but I had fun telling him about them and that was my goal for the day - to tell more people about our books and keep spreading the word about our great Prairie stories.

Next up on my list of interesting experiences was a pre-teen girl and her friend, who wandered by my table and then came back (once they decided I would be agreeable to their proposal, I guess). They attend St. Edwards School in Saskatoon, which has a focus on eco-justice issues. One of the girls had a class assignment that involved interviewing 20 people and taking their photograph. I didn’t ask a lot of questions (unusual for me, I know), but I did answer such things as my age, where I live, who I live with, what is my favourite colour (red, by the way), and what is my favourite thing to do (it took one second for both her and me to answer together - ‘write’).

So that was a new experience.

Then I chatted with a United Church minister that I have known as an acquaintance for decades in my work freelance writing for the United Church Observer magazine. I have not seen him for years, though, so it was nice to reconnect. He and his wife happened to be shopping at Coles that day, and there I was. Surprise!

I handed out bookmarks to numerous children who came by with their parents, which is something we always do at signings and trade shows. One of the funniest incidents happened when a boy about five years old accepted a bookmark and then showed it to his mom. As they were leaving the store, the mom asked if the boy had said 'thank you' to me. He had, but she didn’t know that, so he said it again. 

Being a grandma, I automatically replied, “No problem, hon. You’re welcome.” 

The little guy stopped walking, turned around and looked at me and announced, “I’m not hon. I’m….. (and then said his name).” He cracked me and his mother up. We burst out laughing and they carried on their way.

About an hour later, this little guy and his mom came by again and he proudly waved the bookmark at me as if to say, “See! I still have the bookmark you gave me! THANK YOU!” It was very cute.


The most fascinating event that day occurred when three teenage girls came up to the table to chat with me. They were thrilled to talk to a writer. One of them announced that this was the second author signing she’d been at within a few days. Her grandmother had just released a book and had a signing at another Saskatoon store, she said. (I made a mental note to check out the book.)

All three of these girls like to write, but the two on the outside agreed that the girl in the middle was the best writer of all of them. This led me to ask questions about the kind of writing this girl does (romance novels for teens), if she’s ever been published (yes, but not paid), if she wants to be a writer as a career (yes) etc. We chatted for a while and then they left.

Some time later, they came back and walked to the back of the store behind me. Soon, the girl with the grandmother author came up to me and handed me a cell phone, explaining that her friend is shy but wondered if I would read part of one of her stories – so I did.

And my official pronouncement is that – this girl has talent. To make a long story short, I gave this young writer some words of advice, starting with “people are 'who' and objects are 'that' ” and including suggestions of Saskatchewan publishers that she could approach about getting her work published - including us at DriverWorks Ink. 

I also advised her, as I suggest to all young writers, that she should keep track of every piece of her writing that is ever published. This helps to build a portfolio and credibility in the writer’s work. I recently had to dig up my records of my work 20 years after the pieces were published to submit information to a particular national project, so keeping track is valuable.

Also, don’t throw out your old poems, short stories or other written work. Find a place to store it so that decades from now, you can look back on it and know the answer (when you’re making speeches at schools, libraries and the like) to the often-asked questions: “When did you start writing?” and "What kinds of things have you written?" Then you can not only answer, but you can show them as well!

And finally a Coles Saskatoon that day, this great phrase came from a woman who asked me to tell her about Never Leave Your Wingman, which I wrote. 

After my brief explanation that this book is the true story of a fun-loving seven-time cancer (Dionne Warner) who dances into chemo with her husband, both dressed in costume like it’s Halloween every day, the woman said this:

“That is crazy. That’s a pretty triumphant story.”

I had not heard Dionne and Graham Warner’s Story of Hope described as ‘triumphant’ before, but it certainly is. 

It made me smile all the way home. And that’s a long drive.


P.S. If you'd like to win either a SuperMom and the Big Baby book or a Never Leave Your Wingman book from us, post a simple message (even a "Pick me! Pick me!") as a Comment on the Thank you blog below BEFORE MAY 15 to enter your name in the draw. Thanks!





Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Draw to Thank My Blog Readers!


Yahoo! Yippee! This little blog of mine that began in July 2011 has just surpassed 9,000 page views!

I have no idea if that is a puny number or not in the world of bloggers, but I'm going to celebrate anyway - by GIVING AWAY A BOOK!

No, WAIT! I'm going to GIVE AWAY TWO BOOKS!

Post a comment on this blog before May 15th and you will be entered into the draw to win one of these two great books published by DriverWorks Ink:



SuperMom and the Big Baby by Dave Driver
Illustrated by Guy Laird
Incorporating the amusing ramblings of his sleep-talking wife into the story, author Dave Driver has written a whimsical children’s book for all ages.
Easton is a ‘big’ little boy with a bit of a temper. One day, after a disagreement with his brother Cooper, a strange thing happens. Easton begins to grow … and grow … and GROW! As he bursts through the roof of the house and runs down the street to terrorize the neighbourhood, his worried family wonders how to get their Big Baby back … back to the house and back down to his ‘normal’ size again. Suddenly, it’s SuperMom to the rescue! In the end, only a mother’s love can save the day.

The phrases spoken by SuperMom in the book are phrases actually spoken by Dave Driver's wife while she was sleeping! A fun book for the whole family, but especially for children ages 2 to 9!



Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope 
by Deana J. Driver (that's me!)

Dionne Warner is a fun-loving seven-time cancer survivor who, along with her devoted humour-filled husband Graham, has danced into her weekly chemo treatments in Regina, Saskatchewan in costume – bringing laughter and hope to everyone she's met. When Dionne was diagnosed in 2001 with her third cancer, she told Graham (her then-fiancĂ©) he did not have to marry her ... she would return home to Toronto, Ontario. An experienced pilot, Graham quickly replied, “You never leave your wingman.” Since then, they have battled her cancers head-on together, with humour, courage and a zest for life. This is an inspiring true story and a lesson in love.


So go ahead - post a comment below to enter your name to win one of these great books!

Good luck! 

P.S. These two books would make great Mother's Day gifts, along with some of our other titles: The Little Coat and Letters to Jennifer in particular. See all our books at www.driverworks.ca