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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cream Money book launch among the best for DriverWorks Ink

We recently launched our newest non-fiction book, Cream Money: Stories of Prairie People - and it was the most fun book launch ever. At least that's what the people in attendance said, and who are we to argue with them? It definitely was a great time!

Thirteen of the 30 people who contributed stories to this fascinating book were at our launch. Some of them drove almost three hours to be there! It was the first time I had met a number of these folks in person - I'd only talked to them by phone or email when editing the stories they submitted - so I was thrilled to shake their hands and thank them in person for contributing to our book. 

The launch began with a happy, casual atmosphere that continued throughout the afternoon. But first I'll bring you up to speed on what the book is about and why we published it.

Cream money was an important source of income for farm families on Canada's Prairies in days gone by. Farm women in particular - including my mother - milked the cows, separated the cream from the milk, then sold that cream and/or milk to neighbours, friends, and townspeople to earn a little extra cash. The money earned was used to purchase groceries, fabric, farm supplies, and other items that could not be produced on the farm. 

DriverWorks Ink, our publishing company based in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, produced this book to record some of this Prairie history and pay homage to this long-ago way of life. We're also making a donation to the Lung Association of Saskatchewan from some of the book's proceeds, by the way. I thought I'd add that detail before I forgot.

In the book's introduction, I wrote that my mother sold cream in pint and quart jars to families in town and in cream cans to the local creamery about once a week from the 1950s to the 1970s. With this money, she paid bills and purchased sugar, salt, fresh fruit, canning supplies and other grocery items that could not be grown or made on our farm. She bought fabric and sewing notions and, if we children happened to make a rare trip into town that week, we were sometimes allowed to spend 10 cents in any way we wished. As we grew older and farm finances allowed, we were sometimes each given a shiny quarter, which led to lengthy deliberations about whether we should spend it on bubble gum or chewy Mojo treats. Or should we spend our entire allowance on one bag of potato chips or one chocolate bar? Often we would make deals with each other and share our purchases after we returned to the farm with our bounty. (From Cream Money, "Introduction - My Family's Story" by Deana J. Driver)

The Cream Money book contains 29 short stories and two poems written by a variety of Prairie folks who talk about events on their farms during the 1920s right up to the mid-1980s. There are stories of hard work, fun, and adventure that honour family and community. You'll read humorous tales of children falling into full milk pails or mice falling into cream cans, and explanations of cream money well spent or other adventures during those years on the farm.

While I was compiling and editing the stories for the book, those who contributed their family's stories often expressed their gratefulness that these pieces of family history will be preserved through the book's publication. It has been a central piece to the work I do as a non-fiction writer and Prairie books publisher, so it was nice to hear that they understood the reasons that my husband Al and I published the book. Our contributors brought this grateful attitude and their excitement to our book launch and we were off to a great start when we saw two of the contributors at the launch venue, raring to go, as we were arriving to get set up!

We were fairly busy during the launch so we didn't take a lot of photos, but here are a few to give you a flavour of that great afternoon:

We set our Cream Money cake and a few lemon tarts on a table in between two old, empty cream cans. Just looking at those cream cans brought back a lot of memories and began some storytelling for folks.

I welcomed everyone and shared a bit of my family's story and the reasons we published this book. Some of what I said was similar to what you'll hear in this CTV Regina interview I did leading up to the launch.
Eleanor Sinclair of Fort Qu'Appelle, SK, (author of Our Lamps Were Heavy) spoke about the dairy cooperative's strike in the 1970s, which led to their farm having to get rid of vast quantities of milk and cream in any way possible while the strike was on.

Bryce Burnett, a rancher and cowboy poet from Swift Current, SK (who published his award-winning book Homegrown and other poems with DriverWorks Ink), shared his poem "Cream Cans," outlining the many uses these cans have had throughout their long lives. (Later, one of our other contributors told us that he had heard Bryce speak before but was excited to meet him at our launch. We were happy this event enabled the two of them to have a visit.)

Next, Dexter van Dyke of Regina, SK, shared his story of being involved in the milking process and benefiting from cream sales proceeds when he was a child.

Above are some of the people at our Regina launch. Janice Howden, a contributor from Saskatoon, spoke about the book on Saskatoon's Global TV. Here's that interview for you to enjoy.
Among the connections that were made between the people at the launch were some priceless moments that occurred between these two contributors. Roy Tollefson of Moose Jaw, SK, born in 1926, met Clara Puddell of Moose Jaw, born in 1924, at our launch. Their daughters work together in Swift Current, but these two had not met before. They quickly discovered that Clara knew one of Roy's siblings. They enjoyed talking about mutual acquaintances and much more. Amazing.

When the speeches and readings were finished, we asked all the contributors who were present to please get together for a group photo. As family and friends stood in front of us and snapped photo after photo with their cellphone cameras, we proudly held our books and grinned like the happy authors we are!
Back row l to r: Dexter van Dyke, Truus de Gooijer, Irene Bingham, Jerry Holfeld, Glenn Swallow, Maurice Giroux, Marlene Hunter, Bryce Burnett.
Front l to r: Roy Tollefson, Deana Driver, Clara Puddell, Ruth Wildeman.

(The cream cans on the book's cover came from Allan and Elisa Jackson and the book's cover design is by Erika Folnovic of Regina, SK. We also thank Creative Saskatchewan for assistance in producing the book.)

At one point in the afternoon, my husband and publishing partner, Al Driver, asked 89-year-old Roy Tollefson, "What does it feel like to be a published author?"

Roy replied, "I never thought that would happen. I helped with a community history book and I wrote a little piece for that but that doesn't count. This is really special."

We couldn't agree more.

Thank you to Roy and all the other contributors to our Cream Money book.  We hope all of you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed writing our stories and getting the book published.

Don't forget, you can purchase a signed copy from us here.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Liberation Day Netherlands 70th Anniversary and The Little Coat book

May 5th is Liberation Day in the Netherlands. Today - May 5, 2015 - is the 70th Anniversary of the end of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War. Canada played a major role in ending that occupation. For this reason, Canadians are still highly revered by Dutch citizens.

My husband/publishing partner Al (not pictured) and I (left), along with author Alan J. Buick (centre) and his wife Carol Buick (right), were privileged to be invited by Saskatchewan Honorary Dutch Consul Judie Dyck to attend a celebration ceremony last week in Moose Jaw, honouring some Saskatchewan veterans who fought to free the Netherlands. We were invited to bring our award-winning, best-selling book, The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story to honour Canadian soldier Bob Elliott's heroism and the historic coat given by Canadian soldiers to the then-10-year-old Dutch girl Sussie Cretier during the war.

This was the program for the Saskatchewan event celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Canadian Liberation of the Netherlands, at Moose Jaw's Western Development Museum, April 24, 2015.

 Judie Dyck, Saskatchewan's Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Canada, organized the celebration.

Judie Dyck, standing on the left as Lt. Colonel Christa Oppers-Beumers, Defence Attaché, Kingdom of the Netherlands, addressed the crowd.

Saskatchewan veterans were thanked for their service.

Lt. Colonel Christa Oppers-Beumers presented 70th Anniversary Liberation pins to veterans.

A veteran introduced herself to the crowd.

Author Alan J. Buick signed copies of The Little Coat book. (Publisher Al Driver is seated at left.)

 Author Alan J. Buick chatted about the inspiring story of The Little Coat.

The veterans and guests were treated to a tour of Canadian Forces Base 15 Wing Moose Jaw in the afternoon.

Maria McNair (nee Van De Werf) chatted with author Alan J. Buick at 15 Wing Moose Jaw. Maria came to Canada from the Netherlands in 1949 as a war bride, settling in Coronach, Saskatchewan. 

Maria's image (above) is one of those - along with Sue Elliott of The Little Coat book (below) - painted in the Canadian-Dutch War Brides exhibit created by Calgary artist Bev Tosh. 

Sue's special little coat (on display previously at the Canadian War Museum below), has been loaned by the Canadian War Museum to Calgary's Military Museums to be a companion to Bev Tosh's Canadian-Dutch War Brides exhibit from May 5 until August 28, 2015. The exhibition is called Trees Heeft een Canadees (Teresa has a Canadian). 

Al and I were privileged to see Bev Tosh's exhibit (above) in Groesbeek, Netherlands in 2013, and to meet Sue Elliott / Sussie Cretier of the book (below) in person in 2013. Here is my blog about that wonderful experience.

The final words go to the late Bob Elliott and to Sue Elliott, from the final pages of our book. Below, they are shown at a 2010 Liberation Day celebration in the Netherlands.

"I see this book as a tribute to all my wartime comrades. It
also expresses my feelings for the people of the Netherlands
who suffered so much under the Germans during the war years.
I am also thankful I have my Sussie."
- Bob Elliott

"My gratitude for the young men who gave up their youth
and their lives for the freedom of our country. I never, ever will
Veterans, thank you all so very much. You all were heroes
and always will be for the Dutch people. I have one veteran for
myself and I sure love him.
Much love to you all."
- Sussie Elliott