Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Self-Publishers - Easy Doesn't Make It Right


As a trained professional who has been writing, editing and publishing for many years, my stomach ties in knots when I see some of the self-published books being printed these days. Don't get me wrong. There are some great self-published books out there - and we have helped add to the pile of great ones - but there are some that could have used a lot more 'fixing' before they were printed. And that's being polite.

With advances in technology and ever-expanding options for printing books (and thus self-publishing any old thing or just printing whatever is written or compiled), it is now easier than ever for anyone to self-publish - often without any idea of what's right and what's wrong, what's legal and not, what's better and what should never be done.

It concerns me.

Without even going into the dos and don'ts of actual content and storylines, I sometimes see these errors in self-published books: incorrect spelling; improper capitalizations; incorrect use of hyphens; quotes and excerpts and photos and maps that are not accredited to their originators; inconsistent layout styles throughout a book; the use of unreadable fonts; images with no identification at all or the names in the wrong order for the photo. Sadly, the list goes on.

While it is wonderful that you are so passionate about your story that you are taking steps to self-publish it - which I have been doing as well, by the way - this is my plea to aspiring self-publishers:

Please, please, PLEASE hire a trained, knowledgeable, experienced editor (like us at  DriverWorks Ink, of course) who can advise you on the rules, help you fix your mistakes (we all make them) and polish your book so it imparts your message in the best way.

There are ever-changing rules and ideas on: grammar and spelling, attribution and copyright, libel (written work) and slander (spoken about your work), fonts, text, photograph resolution and placement, use of colour, layout strategies and more. Some of these apply to an editor. Some are for the layout designer. If you're a self-publisher, you need to know it all.

Find an editor who keeps up with the industry, sits with a dictionary at her or his side, and can work closely with you to make sure your message gets out there in the most positive way possible.

Just because you love to write doesn't make you a writer ready to be published. It's not that simple. It can take years to hone writing skills and it's not wise to self-publish without a trained editor examining your work. A good editor can make suggestions on how to improve your writing both in general and in the piece you are intending to self-publish. An editor can also help you avoid legal pitfalls with your work - which should be an item on the agenda for every writer of every genre. Do it right the first time.

Now I'm not saying all editors are perfect. We know that's not possible. But we try. And we editors would really like to help you as best we can. Please find one of us and get our help before you self-publish.

You'll be glad you did.

Okay. Now get back to your project.

We're wishing you well in putting out a great book!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lovin' the Connections

In our work as book publishers (and my work as a writer), we meet or talk to some great people. We hear the most fascinating stories and there are often strange, wonderful connections between us.

On the last day of Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan, a woman came to our booth and accepted one of our leaflets containing information about all our Prairie books. She said she was travelling and didn't want to take too much home with her, so she probably would not buy a book, but she was interested in what we had on our table.

We chatted more and I asked her where she lived.

In Ontario, she said.

"Where in Ontario?" I asked.

She said, "Near London and Stratford."

I replied that when I was a teenager, I was part of a youth exchange and I spent 10 days on a farm near a little town named....

Her reply? "I live in that town."


That's just bizarre.

Of all the communities in Ontario, she lives in the small town that I stayed in 40 years ago? Come on. That's a crazy coincidence.

We chatted further. I tried to recall the name of my host family and we exchanged email addresses to keep in touch.

Cool, huh?

Oh, yeah. She ended up buying a book after all.

What can we say? Our stories are irrestible.

Here's Al, chatting with one of our many wonderful customers at Agribition.
(I'm the photographer most of the time, so that's why you seldom see me chatting with customers, unless you're there in person.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Awesomeness at Agribition

I first attended Canadian Western Agribition - the premiere agricultural show for producers - in Regina, Saskatchewan, in the 1980s when I was doing interviews for World of Beef magazine. That's right, World of Beef - for and about people who raise purebred cattle. Now that was a learning experience for me!

For the past three years, Al and I have had a trade show booth at Agribition, sharing information about and selling our Prairie books. Come take a walk with me and see what I saw earlier this week at...

Arriving Sunday evening to set up - the sun was setting on a parking lot that had only a touch of snow that was melting.

We're ready to welcome customers and random passersby to our booth (#141 in the Agribition Building).
Apples seemed to be the fruit of choice for the show this year. They were being sold at one booth (with samples available for everyone) . Other apples were being given away at another booth just around the corner from the first one.
Yummy either way!
I was intrigued by this bull that was just hanging around as I walked to another area of the show. After I took this picture, the man in the photo informed me that this was the bull that Heath Ledger rode in the movie Brokeback Mountain. I seriously considered climbing up on that air-filled platform to touch the place where Heath Ledger's back side had been. Sigh. I decided against it, valuing my front teeth more than the chance to touch great(behinded)ness. Curse you, klutzy body!
Around the corner from the fake bull was this real live animal - a horse named.....
Get it? Winn Dixie - the U.S. store?
Pretty punny.
And this was the reason for my early-morning travels to another area of the show - an interview with CKRM Radio's Colin Lundquist (on the right & below with me).
As an aside, I worked at CKRM in 1978, writing radio commercials for a year or so. (How many ways can you advertise a tractor? Turns out there are many.)
Thanks, Colin, for the great interview. Deja vu all over again.
You have to have saddles at Agribition.
And cowboy hats.
And huge belt buckles. (This one's attached to a winning bull-rider.)
Cool, huh?
And now to the business at hand.
Here, Al is chatting with some customers about our books.
A young lady is checking out Dave Driver's book SuperMom and the Big Baby.
This Aussie who now lives in Alberta bought some books and wondered aloud if it was politically correct for him to own The Little Coat, written by Alan Buick, a Kiwi. After much consideration and some guffawing, he decided it would be okay and assured us that he would likely enjoy this bestselling true Christmas story as much as others have.

Here I am (on the left) with seven-(no, wait!)eight-time-cancer-survivor Dionne Warner (the 'bald chick' in the centre) and Eleanor Sinclair (on the right). Dionne came by to sign Never Leave Your Wingman books and laugh with us for a few hours. Eleanor stopped by for a few minutes to sign some of her fast-selling book Our Lamps Were Heavy before checking out the rest of Agribition. I am holding a copy of my newest book The Sailor and the Christmas Trees. It's a Christmas story (did the title give you a hint?) about an event that actually happened during the Second World War. I wrote the book for children ages 7 and up, but it's being enjoyed by adults and seniors as well.
By the time we left Agribition on Wednesday night, the melting snow had turned to ice and was covered with fresh snow... which continued to come down for the next day, making travel all over the province quite treacherous.
Still, these are hearty Prairie people, so we're sure they'll shovel out or wait for a bit for the snowplows and gravel trucks to make the roads safe again. Then they'll come take in the last two days of Agribition.
If you're planning to attend Agribition on Friday or Saturday, November 23 and 24, be sure to stop by our booth (#141) in the Agribition Building. We'd love to see ya.
Drive safe, everyone! And Yee Haw!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

More fave phrases from our Prairie books

These are more of my favourite phrases/lines from our great Prairie books:

Running of the Buffalo by Ron Petrie:
      On the kitchen wall is a large pattern of brown splatters. In the centre is our triplets' school calendar of helpful daily kindergarten reminders, which I saunter over to read every morning with my first sips of coffee. Some days are library days, in which case I rustle up the books Spencer, Stuart and Hayley must return to school; sometimes the higher grades have popcorn sales, for which I make sure every child has 25 cents, and sometimes --
     -- sometimes the stain on the wall is enhanced by yet another 534-p.s.i. spray of coffee from my startled face. Sometimes, moments before the bus arrives, the calendar says the day's big kindergarten event is the monthly show-and-tell. Every child is to have an object beginning with the specific letter of the alphabet -- and there I am, with not one, but three students, and not foresight, but only three minutes left on the scavenger hunt clock.

My Zayde and Other Memories of Growing Up Jewish by Ricki Segal:
     Every time my mother offered you something to eat, it was as if she was getting a commission from the sale. If it was apple cake, she’d say, “Have a piece of apple cake. It’s only fruit.” She’d also say, “Oh, you know you like it,” even if I had never seen the dish before.

The Inquiring Reporter by Clay Stacey:
     I worked two more weeks in Killarney. I finished work at The Guide on Friday afternoon and quickly loaded an old suitcase with my meagre belongings for my trip west the following morning. It would not have been possible without a $100 loan from my nursing sister.
     Before leaving, I was asked by editor Tom what I would ultimately like to accomplish in the newspaper business.
     “I want to be a full-time reporter – and break an exclusive story that will be printed in newspapers all over the world,” I said, serious as all get-out.
     “Good grief. You certainly have your sights set high. Good luck to you.”

Moving Forward: The Journey of Paralympian Colette Bourgonje by Mary Harelkin Bishop:
     She had big plans and things she wanted to do with her life. Those plans didn't include an accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. After all, she was an incredibly talented athlete. She was only 18 years old and she was on the threshold of her adult life.
     Stunned and shocked, Colette couldn't quite get her head around the fact that she would never walk again, let alone never run. Within a short time, though, her tears and fears dried up on the outside and she quietly begain considering how she could move forward from the tragic event.

Egg Money: A Tribute to Saskatchewan Pioneer Women; Edited by Deana Driver:
     In the late 1920s, Saskatchewan farm women sold eggs for about three cents a dozen to buy essentials or, in some cases, extras for their families. One Saskatchewan woman recalls as a child being sent into town by her mother to sell a dozen eggs for three cents and purchasing a one-cent stamp to mail a letter to family in Ontario. Anyone purchasing eggs from a store in those days paid about 36 cents a dozen.
     At the unveiling of the Egg Money statue in Saskatoon on the afternoon of September 20, 2009, Ellen Remai commented on her own family’s heritage. “I feel extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to sponsor this meaningful and loving tribute to the pioneer women who gave so much and asked for so little in return. When I first heard of the Egg Money sculpture, I thought, ‘What a great idea. What a wonderful way to honour and celebrate the pioneer women of Saskatchewan!’ I knew instantly that I wanted to be part of this project."

Seeds of Hope: A Prairie Story by Mary Harelkin Bishop:
     Mama bent and kissed his cheek. “Prairie farmers, especially the Camerons, are survivors, Danny. That’s how we’re made; tough and strong and stubborn. It’ll take a lot to chase us away.” She turned out the light and closed the door, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
      “Then why is Papa thinking of selling out?” Danny whispered after her in the darkness.
Lying flat on his back, Danny stared up at the ceiling. Faint light seeped into the window from the yardlight across the way. A gentle breeze blew through the branches of the cottonwood tree, rustling the leaves. Patterns of light danced across his ceiling. He felt as if he carried a huge burden of worry on his shoulders. He felt 100 years old, stooped and bent.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Favourite phrases from our great Prairie books

I am privileged to spend my days doing three things that I love: (1) writing and (2) sharing stories about fascinating, inspiring people (3) written by Prairie authors including myself.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes/lines from some of our great Prairie books:

The Sailor and the Christmas Trees by Deana Driver:
     "As long as I live, I will always remember those wee children standing at the railing on that ship. They must have been only four to six years old and some were wearing adult lifebelts. Those life jackets were way too big for them, but they were wearing them to be safe in case of trouble on the crossing."
                  - John Hanlon about his December 1944 crossing from England to Canada

The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story by Alan J. Buick:
     Bob Elliot was at the controls of his Sexton SP as the 19th Field Regiment and the 55th Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Army moved into Alphen that day. Bob was worried he might run over the local people as they swarmed around the monster machine he was driving and climbed onto the tank to hug their liberators. He had to stop the machine on many occasions to avoid crushing some of the people who welcomed the Canadian soldiers so warmly.
     As Bob looked at the crowd of happy faces, he knew that all the pain and suffering he had endured since landing in Normandy had been worth every moment. Tears came to his eyes as he saw the joy and gratitude on the faces of these people who had endured five years of oppression. Being a member of the Army that had freed them was a humbling experience. He knew he would never forget these moments.

SuperMom and the Big Baby by Dave Driver:
     “Nice outfit, Mom…” said Dad, “Or should I say… SuperMom! Now let’s go get our son back!”

 Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope by Deana J. Driver:    
      Suddenly, there is a commotion around the corner in front of the admissions desk. A song is playing very loudly – a country song – and into view comes a strikingly beautiful woman in a cowboy outfit, riding on a man’s back, shouting “Woo Hoo! Yee Ha!” at the top of her lungs.
     She’s swinging a lasso and yelling, “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy!”
     What the heck is going on? This is a cancer clinic. The patients who come here are very ill. They seldom smile and they NEVER cheer.
     Obviously, no one told that to Dionne Warner.

Letters to Jennifer From Maudie & Oliver by Sharon Gray:
     This is Maudie speaking.
     I also help Oliver with his grooming, in particular his ears. Have you ever noticed how big his ears are? Don’t know why, he never listens. He is having problems with his pee-pee works again. He was whisked off to see Dr. Peter the other day – they didn’t even tell me that they were leaving me ALL ALONE. Sometimes they are so inconsiderate about me and my feelings.
     Oliver has to take pills for his condition. YOW! Is he ever funny! He staggers around after he has his pills and he has a glassy haze to his eyes – he is cross-eyed, so it looks even more funny. (I’m not cross-eyed. I’m beautiful and lovely. But you know that.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Winter wonderland

Most days, these are my tools of choice:

But not this past weekend. These were the items I used the most:
We had a huge snowfall - and I mean HUGE! It started snowing on Friday morning and really didn't stop until Sunday afternoon. The previous one-day record for snowfall in Regina, Saskatchewan was in 1941 - at 23.6 centimetres (about 9 inches for you non-metric types). By Sunday evening, November 11, we'd received at least 14 inches of snow.

We shovelled our walkway and driveway five different times - to keep the snow shovel loads down to a manageable level.
This is one of the benefits of living on a major street in the city - your street is cleaned after a snowstorm well before other residential areas get cleared.
I find it interesting how the snow sticks to the evergreens....


... but not to other trees, like this mountain ash. I guess those leaves are too wimpy to hold the snow.

Well, this isn't the first time we've seen snow so we'll all just get adjusted to it for the next few months and enjoy the beauty that comes with this time of year. We'll definitely have a white Christmas ... and we are enjoying these gorgeous cactus flowers.

Have a safe and happy winter, everyone!


Monday, November 5, 2012

SuperMom and the Big Baby - The creation of a book

Imagine that you are a young husband and father ... and that your wife talks in her sleep... especially when she's overtired from looking after your two young boys.

And imagine that your youngest son has a temper and causes a little bit of drama at your home some days.

What's a guy to do?

Well, if you're Dave Driver - a mortgage broker by day but a creative man at all times - you record some of the silly things your wife says in her sleep. You then use those phrases in a funny story that you write for your wife to show her that you love her and your children, including your youngest son, no matter how exasperating his temper can be at times.

You give the story to your wife as a Christmas gift.
Then you read it aloud to your family - including your parents, who happen to publish books. 
And a year later...
Ta Da!
Your funny and imaginative tale is now a popular children's book!

You see, your parents convinced you to let them turn your story into a book. Then they hired a talented artist named Guy Laird to illustrate your story.
And his artwork helped turn your creative story into a beautiful 32-page children's book that is attracting the attention of children and adults alike!

All in all ... it's pretty cool.

Readers can buy your SuperMom and the Big Baby book here, among other places.

The End ...

Or is it just the beginning?

Your wife still talks in her sleep, after all ...