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, September 18, 2014

The Best Introduction I've Ever Received

Having spent most of my adult life as a freelance journalist who has listened to numerous speeches of others, I have had to adjust my mindset considerably since I became an author in 2001 and began giving speeches about my books. I usually talk about my background a bit, then get into my writing history and focus on one or two books, depending on the audience and their initial request of me.

Instead of asking the questions, I am now attempting to answer them - during and after my presentations. Instead of listening to others being introduced, I am hearing how others introduce me.

Usually, they take information from the About Us page of our website and add a couple of lines.

That is not what happened in Swift Current, Saskatchewan on September 17, 2014.

Several months ago, I was contacted by Betty McDougall, chairperson of the Write Out Loud Committee in Swift Current, to see if I would be willing to speak at their Write Out Loud event, which is part of the regular programming for the Southwest Cultural Development Group (Lyric Theatre). They wanted me to talk about writing the Never Leave Your Wingman book, my work as an author and perhaps even a bit of information about my work as a publisher.

I agreed and confirmed that Al, my husband and DriverWorks Ink publishing partner, could come as well to sell our books to anyone who was interested in purchasing them. And so it was settled.

On September 17, Al and I arrived in Swift Current and met Betty McDougall and another committee member, Terry Toews, for supper before the event. We had a great visit and, as most Prairie people do, we quickly became comfortable with each other and were laughing and telling stories in no time.

After supper, we drove to the historic Lyric Theatre building in downtown Swift Current, and took a few photos of the poster announcing my speech/reading.

One of the committee members kindly made some adjustments to the book's cover ...

... to get all the information in for the evening event.

We also took a couple photos of me with the sign outside the theatre, which hosts local artists, including a husband/wife musician team who performed before my reading. They were the opening act, if you will.

While Al and I were setting up our table of books inside, people were flocking over to look at our numerous titles and purchasing numerous books before Al could even get them all out of the boxes. We were thrilled! (Thank you, Swift Current! You are the best!)

After the opening act, it was time for Terry Toews to introduce me. 

This is what she said:


It is my pleasure this evening to introduce the first author for our brand new Write Out Loud season. 

Deana Driver is an author, editor, book publisher and freelance journalist based in Regina.  She is the author of five non-fiction books and the founding partner of DriverWorks Ink publishing, which specializes in non-fiction stories, and helps authors self-publish their work.  It is of special interest to us that DriverWorks recently published Bryce Burnett’s first book of cowboy poetry, Homegrown and Other Poems.

Since 1983, she has published more than 2,000 articles (while raising three kids - so she's kind of an underachiever), in addition to her non-fiction books.  Her latest release is also her first children’s book.  The Sailor and the Christmas Trees is the true story of a Manitoba sailor who cut down trees in Newfoundland, hid them on his ship, and surprised his shipmates and some small English children while at sea during the Second World War.

Ms. Driver has a passion for sharing the stories of fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes.  She enjoys speaking to audiences of all ages, and uses her own experiences and those of people she has interviewed to show the importance of reading and writing as the path to learning and a better future.

When I read Never Leave Your Wingman, I was impressed by the degree to which Deana Driver is willing to take a back seat to the story she is telling.  Throughout the book, I was thinking about introducing Deana and what I would say about her, and then I would realize that I was accidentally introducing Dionne Warner in my imagination, so successfully has Deana written herself out of the book!  It takes real skill and a willing sublimation of ego to be able to do that. 

The fact that the book is definitely Dionne’s story says a lot about Deana Driver.  It tells me that she is dedicated to giving these unsung heroes their own voice, without imposing her voice or value judgments.  It tells me that she is secure enough to be willing to disappear into a story in order to be able to tell it with authenticity, and it tells me that she is, herself, something of an unsung hero.

It is no small thing to want to tell the stories of prairie folks and amazing people who otherwise escape the notice of the world.  And it is no small thing to want to help other writers move forward with their work.  When I came to the end of Never Leave Your Wingman, I concluded that it was no accident that Ms. Driver wanted to write about Dionne Warner.  In many ways, they are cut from the same cloth, in their willingness to help others and their responsiveness to reactions and emotions that sometimes go unnoticed by others.

We are very fortunate to have Deana Driver with us tonight.  Please join me in welcoming her to the Write Out Loud stage.

Wow. That was very high praise ... and I was a little taken aback. 

Last fall, during our large tour of schools and libraries in which I made 62 presentations in 27 communities across the Prairie provinces, a high school teacher in Prince Albert introduced me as 'a humanitarian' - and I was thrilled and honoured with that reference. 

In Swift Current, with Terry's introduction, I had never heard so many kind words about my work, my writing, or my person from someone who had never met me before.

Her introduction made me a little emotional ... which led to a rather emotional speech about a very emotional topic - the amazing eight-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner and fighting cancer with laughter, courage, and above all, hope.

I calmed down after a few minutes and by the end of my ad-libbed speech, the audience had heard a bit about my own story, plus some excerpts from the book, some background to those excerpts, and more. One woman kindly told us later that she "could have listened to that all night. Dionne's story is great, but to hear how Deana went from freelance writing to publishing was really good. And when she started talking about the different books, I could have listened to that about each one of them.
Some of these authors just come and read from their book. This was really entertaining - but more than that, it was educational, too."

So to all you authors out there, please add those extra touches to your readings. Tell the audience something they won't read in the book. Who are you and why do you write? Where did the story idea come from for this book? What is your favourite part of the book? Was one part more difficult to write than another? 
It's all about engaging the reader, at every level.

Swift Current's Write Out Loud was an amazing experience and Al and I are so grateful to have been invited, welcomed, and appreciated by these wonderful Prairie people. 

Thank you, Betty, for inviting me to speak at Write Out Loud and thank you, Terry, for that remarkable introduction. It's the best!

(L to r) Betty McDougall, Deana Driver, Terry Toews - Sept. 17, 2014.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Pens from Europe - 2

'The pen is mightier than the sword.' This is my second of two blogs (here's the first blog) about the souvenir pens I bought while in Europe last summer, and it was Al's idea to start this blog with that old familiar saying. Since I am a writer who dislikes fighting and believes we can truly heal the world through written words, the saying seems to fit, so I went with it.

After a wonderful time in Nice and Monaco last summer, we travelled to BarcelonaWe would have loved to stay there longer, but maybe we'll do that next time.

This pen has a great pull-out strip that has photos on both sides, featuring various sites of Barcelona and area.

Oh my gosh, Paris was next! We LOVED Paris. It was the best experience with so many beautiful sites and experiences. 
We bought this pen at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum. It is the most unique-looking pen we purchased.

  At the Eiffel Tower, I bought this pen...

 ... it lights up, just like the tower.

At the gift shop on the second level of the Eiffel Tower, I couldn't resist this pen that names some of the historic sites in Paris. 

Mont Saint Michel is a fascinating island in France, and we met another author while there.

The day we spent in the Normandy area of France was one of the most significant days of our travels. We walked on Juno Beach, and set a copy of Alan Buick's book The Little Coat - a true story of an Alberta soldier and a little Dutch girl - down on the sand at that historic spot.

We couldn't find a pen to purchase at any of the spots we visited in Normandy. Frankly, we didn't look too hard either. We were far more interested in the history, and too overwhelmed in absorbing the pain and the emotion of those places. What a feeling it was to view those sites in person, to see those many, many graves, and to honour those who have fallen for our freedom.

We travelled to Belgium next. Bruges is very pretty. We would have liked another day or two to explore that city.

But we had a couple of very important stops that we wanted to make in the Netherlands, so we had to keep going.

Our first stop was the National Liberation Museum in Groesbeek, Netherlands.

 A parachute sits on the outside of the museum building, and the parachute on the pen goes up and down as you move the pen.

We saw a special exhibition that featured Sue Elliott, the subject of our The Little Coat book.
Then we met the amazing and still feisty Sue Elliott. Incredible.

We went on to Amsterdam and enjoyed those days a lot as well.

Back into Germany, Berlin was next on our list. 

We were attracted to this dark, strong pen from Germany.

I fell in love with the Ampelmann (please forgive the written misspelling below), and had to buy a green and a red version of this popular figure displayed on pedestrian walk signals there.

We felt the war in Prague, Czech Republic, and we loved this historic city.

Back into Germany now, we visited the site of the Dachau Concentration Camp. Nothing but pain and sadness came from that site. We were glad to move on. 

To a happy, elaborate, over-the-top set of castles at Fussen

This pen from Switzerland was a challenge to find. But it was worth it. Look at this beauty...

Then we stayed in Colmar, France - just down the street from the Statue of Liberty.

The stork is a symbol of the region.

This was the hotel we stayed at in Frankfurt before flying back to Canada. 

So this is my collection of pens from Europe. I can't wait to use them all in my writing for years to come ... and to add to them the next time we travel to Europe.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Pens from Europe - 1

Last year, Al and I took the vacation of our dreams and explored nine countries and one municipality on our first trip to Europe. We saw parts of Austria, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany, and Monaco. (Notice I said 'first trip', because we definitely plan to go back to Europe and do more exploring.)

We took a copy of the Never Leave Your Wingman book that I wrote with us to Europe, and the book has blogged about all the wonderful adventures we had. We have memories of the trip in photos and in other ways, too. We didn't want to buy a lot of things that we'd have to carry with us from country to country, so this is what I purchased as the first souvenir of our trip:

... a pen from Grossglockner National Park in Austria.

It seemed only right from that point on that I should continue buying a pen from each community or country that we visited - if we could find a pen specific to that place. My sister in Edmonton suggested that I write with each pen to show you how they work (or don't work), so here's my penned note about the Grossglockner pen:

Here's my pen from Austria:

 The word 'Austria' floats up and down as you tip the pen. Pretty cool.

Next stop was Florence, Italy...

... and Venice. The gondola moves, too!

We visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa - one of the wonders of the world!

We went to other parts of Italy, then on to Nice, France.

One of our favourite days was spent in Monaco.

So those are my pens from the first part of our Europe adventure.