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.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Beautiful St. John's, NL - Sailors & icebergs - Part 2

When I wrote The Sailor and the Christmas Trees in 2012, I never imagined that I might someday see the spot in Newfoundland where the young John Hanlon went up a hill and cut down some trees to surprise his fellow shipmates on Christmas Day 1944. 

Yet it happened. In June 2014, I attended the Association of Canadian Publishers meeting in St. John's, to represent the Saskatchewan Publishers Group (of which I am on the board of directors). My husband (and DriverWorks Ink publisher partner) Al came along on that trip, and we had some great adventures. 

One of my favourite moments was when I looked at St. John's Harbour and imagined what it must have been like for John Hanlon - a Prairie boy from Brandon, Manitoba - who had enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War. 
This is St. John's Harbour today.

The site for the Canadian docks was directly across from where we were standing. 


That hill behind us is likely the one that John and three of his friends climbed to cut down some trees in November 944. They hid the trees on their ship for almost a month, as the frigate sailed with the convoy to England, and then headed back to Canada. On Christmas Day 1944, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, John pulled out those trees and surprised the rest of the crew as well as some small children on another ship, who were coming from England to find safety in Canada.

What a nice story and what a neat experience to see that hill for myself! I was deeply moved.

This photo on a boardwalk sign in St. John's Harbour shows a convoy preparing the leave St. John's Harbour during wartime.




A German submarine surfaced in the harbour after surrender in May 1945.


Here's a fun fact for ya:


The Newfies have their own lingo and their own names for Prairie folks like me and Al.
We were introduced as 'mainlanders'. 
"Either that," said a new Newfie friend, 'or we call you 'come from away'."

Makes sense to me!


Signal Hill National Historic Park and Cabot Tower are among the most noted tourist attractions of St. John's. 
There's along long line-up to drive up the hill, and only a few parking spots on top, so be prepared for a hike - up and down!

Beautiful views make this trek worthwhile. We saw our first-ever view of icebergs from the Hill in early June. A large chunk of ice had broken off a glacier in Greenland, we were told, and this was causing more icebergs to appear off the coast of Newfoundland than in a normal year. 

A few days later, we took a tour on that boat to see the icebergs up close and personal. 

These photos are the view looking back at parts of St. John's as we left the harbour.


As we approached the icebergs closest to the Harbour, we were surprised and a little freaked out to see two kayakers paddling IN BETWEEN the two pieces of this large berg!

See them? Follow my arrows.
A Coast Guard staff person who worked part-time on the tour boat told us this is a very dangerous activity since bergs may look stable but are constantly moving. Only one-tenth of an iceberg is visible above water. Imagine how big that thing is!

Mother Nature proved that point about 15 minutes later, as we circled the biggest berg from a distance...

...we saw a large crack on the one end.

Seconds later, that piece - as large as our house and weighing tons, because the ice is so dense - broke off and hit the water. It would have crushed the kayakers. "We'd be pulling their bodies out," the one Coast Guard worker said. He also told us that he had recently seen a man walking on an iceberg ... with his dog. Some people are just plain dumb.

Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America. Next stop - Ireland!
We saw it from the ocean, then visited it by land a few days later.

Icebergs may be dangerous up close, but they certainly have a beauty to them.


We stopped to admire a statue honouring those who have died in various battles.

Once again, I thought of John Hanlon, and the experiences he must have had fighting for our freedom.

This beautiful wall mural depicting some of the colourfulness of St. John's, Newfoundland. 

Part 3 of my Newfoundland blogs.



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beautiful St. John's, Newfoundland - Part 1

In early June, I was pleased to represent the board and membership of Saskatchewan Publishers Group/SaskBooks at the annual meeting and professional development sessions of the Association of Canadian Publishers in beautiful St. John's, Newfoundland. (To see what I learned there, read my blog - Hug A Canadian Book Publisher Today!)

My husband/DriverWorks Ink publishing partner Al Driver came with me to St. John's, so we could have a little vacation at the end of the meetings.

What a gorgeous city and province!


Our first view of St. John's was from our taxi ride to our hotel. The hills, rock and bountiful trees were a welcome sight to this girl raised in the forested area of central Alberta.

The street-level mural in front of these colourful houses stopped us in our tracks several times as we walked by, enjoying the history of this, Canada's oldest city.

Downtown St. John's is known for its brightly coloured, historic rowhouses that are all referred to as 'Jellybean Row'.  (There is no specific street by this name.)

The CBC-TV series 'The Republic of Doyle' has made these rowhouses even more popular. We were stopped one day by a women who asked us to take a photo for her and her husband as they stood by one of the bright blue rowhouses near our hotel. She was excited when we said we would. "I just love Republic of Doyle and I've been sick on this vacation and I really needed to see this before I go home tomorrow!"

The rowhouses can be seen on local mailboxes...

as the subjects of local art (we saw this one in a gallery window) ...

and as knick knacks for tourists.

Look at the above picture again.
Do you see the 'Newfoundland chain saw?' That cracked me up!

And of course, this is why I was in St. John's - to attend the ACP meetings. Various hotels, restaurants and shops displayed these welcome signs in their windows. 
I wish our city would do something this more often to welcome travellers and conventions. It's an easy, wonderful way to welcome guests when you aren't physically in their presence. Hey - I was so pleased that I took a photo of this sign!

On the first night, we attended a welcome reception hosted by four local publishers - Creative Book Publishing, Breakwater Books Ltd., Boulder Publications, and Flanker Press. The Screech Room in the historic Masonic Temple in downtown St. John's boasted this great sign above its door. Strangely, we did not sample screech or kiss the cod during our trip, but we did enjoy a few other local treats.

We enjoyed the music of local singer-songwriter Pamela Morgan...

the storytelling of author Andy Jones...

and the music of local artists Duane Andrews and Craig Young.

Oh, and I LOVED the fish and chips in Newfoundland! A little too much. By Day Three, I'd had cod and chips four times! Overdoing it, maybe?
Well - two were intentional and two were not. I enjoyed the tasty cod and chips dish above on our first two evenings there, from the Duke of Duckworth pub (the best fish and chips in St. John's, we were told). On my third day in St. John's, cod and chips was served as the lunch during the conference. Who knew? That evening, Al and I ordered crabs' legs at a restaurant to celebrate his birthday, then were told they ran out of crab. We were a bit astounded by that, but what can you do? We ordered a seafood platter - which included ... you guessed it - cod! Mmmm good! 

What were some other meals we enjoyed, you ask? 
Seafood chowder with huge chunks of local salmon in it.
Seafood au gratin. Unbelievably wonderful. 

And touton - a local treat that tastes like french toast combined with a donut. The locals eat this with molasses,  and we did try that - see our sample of molasses on the right side of the plate. We enjoy syrup more than molasses, though, so we devoured this tasty treat with syrup. 
We were told that touton came from what is left of the bread dough when making loaves of bread. They fry it up and enjoy.

Maritimers kept encouraging us to try cod tongues, which look like little balls of deep-fried cod, but we were admittedly cowardly about that. Just as I've never tasted prairie oysters (bull testicles which are considered a delicacy in some Western Canadian restaurants), I wasn't interested in tasting the real tongues of Maritime cod either.

The American Hockey League St. John's IceCaps were playing the first game of the finals one night, and these avid fans were encouraging passing motorists to come into the game - or at least honk their horns in support of the team!
There wasn't much danger that these enthusiastic fans would be hit by the traffic while on the boulevard. We found St. John's motorists to be overwhelmingly gracious in stopping as soon as a pedestrian might even be thinking of crossing the street at a corner. Apparently, there are serious fines in St. John's for not stopping for pedestrians at an intersection. There are in other cities, too. People in St. John's actually obey those rules, though!

A sign in a shop window. Heh heh heh.

The view from our hotel window in downtown St. John's on our first night there. It rained a bit the second evening of our trip, but then turned sunny and warm for the remainder of our stay in St. John's.


Here's Al, reading the sign for Angel's Corner, which reminds everyone they have a role to play in ending violence and abuse against women.



Oh! Al caught a big one!

Stay tuned for St. John's and area - part 2.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Radio Book Club podcast on writing and self-publishing




Have you ever wondered what would lead a Canadian journalist to become an author and book publisher? Well, here's your chance to find out how that happened for me.

Grab a snack and a beverage, then sit back and listen to this 26-minute podcast of a Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Radio Book Club interview.

I talk about my 35-year career as a writer; my 13-year career as an author and self-publisher/publisher; three of the five non-fiction books I've written (two of which are pictured below); our DriverWorks Ink publishing company; how prospective authors can bring their manuscripts to us for self-publishing services and advice; and near the end of the interview, I offer some tips to aspiring writers and authors.

I hope you enjoy the interview but more importantly, that you learn something from it.

My work seems to be leading me more and more into an aspect of teaching and helping people either help themselves or help others by sharing their stories. Sometimes that means that they are the author of their book. Sometimes, someone else writes their story, as I did with Never Leave Your Wingman, about amazing seven-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner and her wingman husband Graham Warner.

I believe that we can all learn from and teach others, and we can all benefit from being nurtured spiritually, emotionally and mentally. In the toughest of situations, we Prairie people, in particular, work together to overcome obstacles and reach our goals. Through humour and love, we can grow and we can heal.

What a fun job I have!

After you listen to the podcast, please let me know what you think.

Did I answer all YOUR questions?

What else would you like to know?

I hope to hear from you...


These are three of the four books I spoke about in the interview:
(Just a Bunch of Farmers is out of print, but available from Weyburn Inland Terminal.)