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.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Serving Our Audience

When I began freelance writing almost 30 years ago, I travelled to all corners of Saskatchewan to conduct interviews for my writing in various Canadian magazines and newspapers. I spoke with funeral directors, farmers, ambulance drivers, doctors, lawyers, housewives, miners, church ministers, business owners, ranchers, politicians, children and more.

It was a wonderful way to find out who lived in this province, what their interests were and what they were doing that I could share with others who might want to know.

Today, as a book author and publisher, I still believe in the need to know your audience. We can't effectively serve our readers unless we find out who they are, what they care about and what they think of our efforts to serve them.

Often, I am pleasantly surprised by the people we meet in our work as publishers. I am also pleased but not necessarily surprised by the personal connections we have that we did not know existed. In November, for example, I answered a telephone call from a woman in Alberta. We began chatting.

She lives in Olds - the town where the child's Canadian Army-style coat in our best-selling book The Little Coat by Alan J. Buick resided for many years (at the Olds Legion. In fact, we held our Alberta launch for The Little Coat at the Olds Legion on Remembrance Day 2009). She and I have another interesting connection regarding Olds, Alberta. My brother attended Olds College some years ago and she once worked at Olds College. Wild, isn't it?

So after chatting for a couple of minutes about our interconnections, she said she was calling to order our Prairie Pilot book. It's 100 true short stories written by a man in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan who was an unofficial air ambulance pilot and flying taxi service in the 1950s. She told me that her husband was a pilot and she was sure he would enjoy the stories of Walter Williams and his adventures. We chatted a bit longer, then I hung up and we sent her the book.

It was great to talk with her that day and be assured once again that the books we publish are being appreciated by readers on the Prairies and beyond.

So to our readers, again I say thank you for your support and making an effort to tell us of our connections and shared stories. Please keep those calls and comments coming, and we look forward to reconnecting and meeting more of you in 2013.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Writing with a Cold

Never write when you're sick. You'll come off sounding grumpy and annoying. Unless, of course, you have a deadline to beat and you really need to get a story done or a manuscript finished to please your editors or publisher. Then you have to write. So here's what you do...

(Note: Details apply best to those who work in a home office, are self-employed or have a great boss who understands that sick workers are not the best people to have around the office.)


- Write down (type) your thoughts in the order they come to you or, in the case of a newspaper or magazine article, the order in which you recorded them.

- Take a break to make a cup of hot tea. Blow your nose while you're waiting for the water to boil.

- Put some honey in your tea. It's good for what ails you - or so I've been told. If nothing else, it tastes good.

- Have a cookie. One won't hurt, right? You're sick. You deserve it.

- Go back to your computer and read what you've typed. Spend the next while moving the points around (as best you can, given your slightly compromised condition) to create what could most logically be a sensible story. Example - try to find the most important point(s) in your article/text/story and single those out as the beginning. Line up the other pieces from there.

- Take another break to go to the bathroom and get rid of some of the tea you've been drinking all day.

- Go back to your office and... blow your nose again - as if you haven't been doing this constantly for the last 15 hours anyway.

Stupid cold/flu/sinus infection/whatever.

Yes, take a moment to grumble. It's good for the soul. Just don't do it in your story. No one likes a whiner.

- Go for a short walk.

Not outside!

It's winter and you're sick. What were you thinking?

- Walk around your office/desk/bathroom/wherever. Just STAY INDOORS, silly.

- Okay, now that you have cleared your head a bit more, you can tackle a little more of your story.

- Re-read what you have typed and change the order of the phrases and points again if needed. (It's almost always needed.)

- Add some segues between the points and move another two or three things around. Before you know it, you'll be sooo into your work that the story will be writing itself and you'll have forgotten all about being sick and ...

and ...

... AH CHOO!

Oh, well. At least the story's done.

Now go back to bed.

Tomorrow's a new day... and hopefully you'll feel better.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The amazing Children's Wish Foundation

We meet some of the most wonderful people through our work with various charities. And we always learn something we didn't know - that we are happy to share with others.

Today, The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada - Saskatchewan Chapter invited author Dave Driver (who happens to be our son as well) to speak to a luncheon of health care workers at the Regina General Hospital. Dave is the author of SuperMom and the Big Baby ... and DriverWorks Ink is donating a portion of the proceeds of each SuperMom book sold to Children's Wish Saskatchewan.

The audience members were folks who care for pediatric patients, including those children who have life-threatening conditions and can be referred to Children's Wish to make a wish of theirs come true.
It's a pretty noble profession and a pretty amazing charity.

Wishes have included trips to Disney World, special vacations, meeting a favourite celebrity or sports hero, purchasing snowboards or hockey equipment or the latest in stereo and video games technology. Families are included in the wishes and that has to make everyone feel a lot better!
Saskatchewan Chapter Director Gay Oldhaver (above right) spoke to the group about some of the fundraisers held by the Foundation, including a golf tournament and the fun-based Exile Island, a new adventure/venture for Regina-area folks but one that has happened in Saskatoon for a few years and raised $203,000 in 2012! Good job, Saskatoon!
(Here's a story by the Regina Leader-Post's Emma Graney about her involvement o-n the media team in Regina this year.)
Wish Co-ordinator Stacey Driedger (left) and Chapter Director Gay Oldhaver (seated centre) spoke to the group about the details of granting wishes. They also thanked them for their referrals of sick children and answered questions about the Children's Wish Foundation in general.
- The average wish costs $10,000.
- The Saskatchewan Chapter is granting about 50 wishes a year but could double that amount if the funding was there. (Sadly, that's a lot of very sick children in a province of one million, isn't it?) Funding comes from corporate donations and fundraisers.
We watched a video produced by Children's Wish Foundation. In it, a physician who works with sick children said: "I can treat these children but I want to heal them ... take them beyond the pain to hope." Another health care worker in the video said she loves what she does for a living. "It gives you a perspective of what a bad day is."
Here's an inspiring music video that I learned about today. It's the Saskatchewan group Foxx Worthee singing Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - raising money to help a little boy named Nixon get the health care help he needs. You'll be hearing more about their connection to Children's Wish Foundation in the coming months.
And now back to our particular involvement with Children's Wish Foundation....
As mentioned, DriverWorks Ink donates to various charities from the sale of many of our books. When we asked Dave Driver, our son, if there was a particular charity that he would like us to consider with the publishing of his children's story SuperMom and the Big Baby, Dave chose The Children's Wish Foundation.
Dave and his wife (SuperMom - the woman whose sleep-talking phrases appear in Dave's funny children's book) have a niece who has received a wish from the Foundation. This niece is a very special person. Dave and his wife have seen the joy she experiences every time she gets into the swimming pool that Children's Wish provided for her. Thank you, Children's Wish Foundation. We will do our best to repay the gift.
So Dave shared his book and the story of his niece with the health care workers at Regina General Hospital.
And then, after Dave was finished speaking, one of the workers came over and introduced herself to him.

She told us that she is the person who referred Dave's niece to Children's Wish Foundation.

We were speechless - which doesn't happen often.

She told us, 'You came here today for a reason. It was meant to be."

That happens a lot to us in what we do.

Pretty amazing.

Thanks again, Gay, for inviting Dave and me to the event today. It made our week... and more.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Need a Christmas gift for Grandpa? Grandma? Baby?

Hello! Our experiences selling directly to customers at craft and trade shows have given us an excellent insight into which of our books are purchased for and appreciated by specific audiences. So with that in mind, let us help you make some gift choices for the people on your Christmas list:
For Grandpa or Dad (& adults in general):
Prairie Pilot: Lady Luck Was On My Side
by Walter D. Williams; Compiled and Edited by Deana J. Driver
Yes, this is definitely a man's book - although women like it, too. We can't count how many times we've been told that Grandpa or Dad or some other man really enjoyed this book of  100 short stories written by the late Walter Williams about his adventures as an unofficial air ambulance pilot in the 1950s in west central Saskatchewan and into Alberta. Walter landed in farmers' fields and picked up pregnant women and injured children and took them to the hospital. He also transported corpses, criminals, doctors, RCMP officers, wedding cakes, Sask Tel and Sask Power employees, shot coyotes from the air, etc. I tease men that they love Prairie Pilot because they live vicariously through Walter's fascinating, daring adventures. But we love this book, too. Walter was an unsung Prairie hero who helped a lot of people, and we are pleased to share this piece of Saskatchewan history.
We at DriverWorks Ink have donated $1,500 from sales of Prairie Pilot to the KLD Wellness Foundation in Kerrobert, SK
Men also particularly enjoy our books The Little Coat (below) and Ron Petrie's Running of the Buffalo humour columns (making light of everything from learning to drive on a Prairie farm to enjoying Grey Cup to raising 'triplets and one more on the bonus round').

For Grandma or Mom (& anyone else ages 10 and up):
The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story
by Alan J. Buick
This book is a beauty. It's a national bestseller that received an Honourable Mention in the Hollywood Book Festival for stories that should be made into movies or films.
Bob Elliott was a young soldier in the Second World War, fighting the Nazis in the Netherlands when he met 10-year-old Sussie Cretier and her family. Sussie became a good-luck charm and sort of a little sister to the Canadians. They wanted to give her a Christmas present in December 1944, so they asked a seamstress in that little town to make a wool Army blanket into a coat for Sussie. It was the most precious gift Sue had ever received. Almost 40 years later, Bob and Sue reconnected as adults and fell in love. Sue still had her little coat. She brought it to Canada when she married Bob.
DriverWorks Ink has donated $4,000 from sales of The Little Coat to the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command's Poppy Trust Fund. A donation from future sales will go to the  Canadian War Museum, where Sussie Cretier's little coat is now preserved - displayed on special occasions.
For Women and Men (& all who enjoy inspiring true stories):
Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope
by Deana J. Driver
I'm kinda partial to this story - because I wrote it and I have special memories of using Dionne's story to help myself and my family through the difficult time of my mother's cancer diagnosis, which occurred while I was finishing the writing of this book.
This book chronicles the inspiring true story of Dionne Warner, a seven-time cancer survivor from Ontario, and her fun-loving husband Graham, who wooed Dionne to Saskatchewan from Ontario with the statement that it never gets below minus 10 degrees in Saskatchewan. (He was joking, right?) Dionne was diagnosed with liver cancer shortly after arriving in Regina, SK. She told Graham he did not have to marry her - she would return to Ontario. A businessman and pilot, Graham replied, "You never leave your wingman." He and Dionne have dressed in costume and danced into her chemo treatments, bringing hope and laughter to everyone they meet. This is a love story full of laughter, hope and courage. As Dionne would say, "Live your life to the fullest. No regrets!"

DriverWorks Ink is donating $1 from every Never Leave Your Wingman book sold to various cancer programs.

Here are some proven perfect gifts for children - from Toddlers to Teens 
(Click on the book cover images & go to our web page for more details.)

Perfect for children ages 2 and up:
SuperMom and the Big Baby by Dave Driver; Illustrated by Guy Laird
When an 18-month-old becomes a giant baby, only SuperMom can save him!
 Perfect for children ages 7 and up, adults & seniors:
The Sailor and the Christmas Trees by Deana Driver; Illustrated by Catherine Folnovic
This is the true story of how a Canadian sailor surprised his fellow crewmates and some small children while at sea on Christmas Day 1944.
 Perfect for children ages 10 and up, adults & seniors:
Letters to Jennifer From Maudie & Oliver by Sharon Gray
These are funny, tender and clever letters written by two lovable Siamese cats.

Happy Shopping!