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, March 18, 2021

An Important YA Book about Reconciliation

As I began to proofread a new e-book version of Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, written by Saskatoon author Mary Harelkin Bishop, I intended only to quickly check the pages to make sure all the content was there.

That's my job, after all, as the editor and publisher of this and every other book I've produced.

But this is no ordinary book.

This is no ordinary story.

And this is no ordinary author.

The words of the book drew me in and I began to read... and read... and read some more.

Even though I've read these words of the Mistasiniy book a half dozen times already in my roles as editor and publisher, I needed to read them again. I was thrilled to be reminded of the great work that Mary and I have accomplished as partners in writing and publishing this and other books of Canadian historical fiction for young readers.

Mary wrote Mistasiniy as a follow-up to Seeds of Hope: A Prairie Story, her first book published with my company, DriverWorks Ink, in 2008. In Seeds of Hope, the main character, Danny, loves growing up on a family farm in Saskatchewan. He is learning about the difficulties of farm life while also dealing with some troubles at school with some other children who are bothering him.

A few years later, in the book Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, a new teacher at the school pairs Danny with one of the Indigenous kids, Zach. Danny and Zach don’t like one another, but they’ve never bothered to get to know one another either. They have to work as partners on a school project in which they have to research and report on their families' histories of coming to Canada.

Neither of them is happy about this pairing, but Zach is especially unhappy.

The assignment raises emotions in Zach and he isn’t sure why.








Author Mary Harelkin Bishop has been a teacher, a teacher-librarian, and an educational/ instructional consultant with Saskatoon Public Schools and spent more than half her career working in core neighbourhood schools. She is best known as the author of the bestselling Tunnels of Moose Jaw series of Juvenile/ Young Adult adventure books (which my company, DriverWorks Ink, is updating and republishing).


In 2014, Mary earned a Master of Education degree. Her thesis was titled "Soul-to-Soul Teaching: Deconstructing Dominant Thinking in the Classroom". She has mentored young writers and adults as they work on their writing and find their voices. Most recently, she has been involved in a writing project with seven schools within the umbrella of the Saskatoon Tribal Council. Working in classrooms on the seven reserves, she has helped teachers and students research and write about their history.

Mary feels strongly that three of her newest books – Gina’s Wheels, Mistasinîy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone, and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather – are all Calls to Action toward the Reconciliation of all Canadians.

Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone received Honorable Mention in the Young Adult categories of both the 2017 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards in Michigan and in the 2017 Hollywood Book Festival which recognizes books that would make great films or movies. Gina’s Wheels and Skye Bird and the Eagle Feather have also won several awards, including Skye Bird being named one of the Best Books for Kids and Teens in 2018 by The Canadian Children's Book Centre.

Mary Harelkin Bishop will continue to write books for young people aimed at helping young readers, teachers and parents have conversations about the Calls to Action, Reconciliation and relationship-building within all of our communities.

DriverWorks Ink will continue to publish those books.

Order your copies today from http://www.driverworks.ca/shop.html


*****

Reader comments about Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone:

“A must-read book for all youth. This touching novel told from two youth perspectives of courage and hope, brings together a First Nations and non-First Nations family who demonstrate the true spirit of Reconciliation.”

 - Joanna Landry, Coordinator, First Nations, Inuit and Metis Education, Regina Catholic Schools

 

“I was ready to recommend this book to teachers even before it was published. I hope that it will impact the way teachers connect with Indigenous children.”

 - Amy Basaraba – FNIM (First Nation, Inuit and Métis) Consultant for Saskatoon Public Schools

 

“Teachers will read this and become better teachers. Kids will read it and become better friends. Parents will be better parents and neighbours will be better neighbours. Families are honoured.”

- Lorraine Chapman, Grade 3 teacher, Saskatoon, SK




Friday, March 12, 2021

A Family Connection or Just a Good Story

I meet the neatest people in the course of my work as a writer and book publisher.

A gentleman in British Columbia contacted me about a fascinating pilot I should interview for Volume 3 of the Flight book series about people involved in Canadian aviation.


I agree that this man's stories are fascinating and worthy of recording and publishing in my book series. But that's not the cool thing that happened today...

The gentleman I spoke with is Harry Driver. Yes. Driver. Same last name as mine. No relation to my family as far as I know.

Or is there?

Although we've never met and never spoken before, Harry joked that he says this about me: "At least we have one talented person in our family!"

I laughed and replied that I only joined the Driver family by marriage (45 years ago), but I will gladly accept his compliment.

Then Harry and I talked a little about our respective Driver family histories.

Harry's family story is one of three Driver brothers - Charlie, Art and Fred - who came to Canada from England. A fourth brother died in the war.

My late husband Al's grandfather also came to Canada from England. I joked that we might be related. I told Harry a story about how Al and I watched an episode of the TV show "Who Do You Think You Are" many years ago in which actress Minnie Driver was searching for her family's roots.

Near the end of that show, a photo popped up on the TV screen showing a man who was related to Minnie. My husband Al quickly stopped the TV recording we were watching and ran from the room. He came back in carrying a photo of what I swear was the same man - or perhaps a twin of the man on the TV screen! This man in the photo Al was holding was a relative of his grandfather, I think, but we were never able to corroborate that because Al's father had passed away and his mother was unable to verify the details.

Al and I mused about possibly being related to a celebrity and then carried on with our lives. We never got around to searching his family's genealogy.

After speaking with Harry Driver of B.C. about the gentleman he thinks I should interview - Doc Payne - I typed up a few notes about our conversation plus what we agreed were the next steps in the process of getting this story for Volume 3 or 4 of the Flight book.

As I was typing, it hit me - Art!

One of Harry's relatives was Art Driver! Al's grandfather was Arthur Driver!

I grabbed our children's baby books to find our family tree details. Arthur Driver of our family came from a different community in England - three hours north of when Harry's family originated. Is there a connection? Could they be from the same family? Or is it fluke? Or a coincidence? Or just a happy conversation about possibilities?

As a follow-up to our conversation, Harry kindly sent me a family history that one of his cousins compiled. His family's Arthur is not from my family's direct line, but their Arthur and his two brothers served in the First World War at Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele (Al's grandfather also served) and they all returned to homestead in Saskatchewan. A small world indeed.

After our conversation, Harry invited his family historian cousin to share some of her research with me.

I then received a detailed email from Harry's cousin Mary, who included some letters she received from Driver families in Saskatchewan whom she contacted in 1978 when researching her family's history.

Among them was a nice surprise - a letter in my late father-in-law's handwriting as he stated "I DO NOT KNOW IF WE ARE RELATED. THE ONLY INFORMATION I HAVE REGARDING MY ANCESTRY GOES BACK TO MY GRANDPARENTS." (Dad always wrote in beautifully sculpted capital letters.) He then relayed information about his family's background - which at first glance appears to not be from the same family tree, but Mary explained that "Driver" is a common name in England and if I can trace my husband's family back to a certain town in England, there is a possibility that we are relatives.

Mary then went on to tell me another connection to me or, more specifically, my work as an author and book publisher. Mary lived in southern Saskatchewan before moving to British Columbia. Her father's cousin is related to Graham Warner. "I am familiar with your book Never Leave Your Wingman and the story of Dionne's brave struggle with cancer. I was sorry to hear of her passing recently. What a legacy she left!"

It's been a wonderful series of communications that began with a possible story for the next volume of the Flight book and our conversations are only beginning. I'
ve invited myself to visit these Drivers in B.C. the next time I am in that region visiting my sister.

It seems fitting that the last word should go to my new friend and possible relative many times removed, Mary Driver, formerly of Saskatchewan: "It is a small world, isn't it?





Thursday, February 4, 2021

Sad news - Passing of 9-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner

Beautiful, extraordinary, fun-loving, nine-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner passed away on Monday, February 1, 2021. She was 55. Her husband, Graham, shared this eloquent obituary. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knew Dionne that she co-wrote her obituary with Graham, and she also made decisions about what her last day on Earth would look like.

Dionne Warner was a remarkable woman. Strong. Courageous. Inspiring.

Since her first cancer diagnosis in 1995, Dionne chose to be upbeat, positive, and grateful for every moment of every day. Through eight more diagnoses over the next 25 years, Dionne shared her hope, laughter, courage, and strength with thousands of people in Canada and around the world. With every new diagnosis, she gave herself 24 hours to say, "Why me?" and then she focused on "Why not me? And what am I going to do about it?"

Dionne Warner, Never Leave Your Wingman book subject
Dionne Warner went into her first chemotherapy treatment
for her Stage IV cancers dressed up and ready to fight, Dec. 17, 2009

I am honoured to have written and published part of her story - up to her seventh cancer diagnosis - in Never Leave Your Wingman - Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope. This book is a book of hope, courage, laughter, and love. It will live on for generations, and I am very proud to have put it out into the world for all to enjoy.

Author Deana Driver with Dionne and Graham Warner at one of Dionne's chemo treatments, July 2010
Author Deana Driver with Dionne and Graham Warner at one of Dionne's chemo treatments, July 2010

Author Deana Driver with Dionne and Graham Warner at the book launch for Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope, June 16, 2011
Author Deana Driver with Dionne and Graham Warner at the book launch
for Never Leave Your Wingman: Dionne and Graham Warner's Story of Hope, June 16, 2011

Dionne and Graham Warner dance into one of Dionne's chemo treatments, July 2011
Dionne and Graham Warner dance into one of Dionne's chemo treatments, July 2011

I will always cherish the many hours of sitting with Dionne at book signings and laughing and laughing - with each other and with folks who stopped to buy the book or just visit with us. Weird for a cancer story, I know, but that was Dionne's story and that's how we approached this adventure. Those 24 hours of feeling sorry for herself had long passed.


Dionne Warner and Deana Driver at a Never Leave Your Wingman book signing, Feb. 7, 2013
Dionne Warner and Deana Driver at a
Never Leave Your Wingman book signing, Feb. 7, 2013

Dionne Warner and author Deana Driver at a book signing, "Movember" 2016
Dionne Warner and author Deana Driver at a book signing, "Movember" 2016
Dionne's story has helped many people during their cancer battles. This includes my family as we lost my mother and then my husband to cancer. I shared Dionne's story with my mom while I was finishing writing the book in 2011, and Al quickly decided he would "fight like Dionne" when he was diagnosed in 2015. Many of us gained strength and courage from Dionne's story. Knowing her story took away some of the fear and brought us more peace on that path. I will forever be grateful to Dionne for showing us the way.

We all need hope. We all need love. We all need courage. We all need laughter. This was Dionne Warner to the core.

There is a moving poem about what cancer cannot do. It was read at my husband's memorial service and it applies again and again. Paraphrasing the pieces of one version that speaks to me today: "Cancer cannot cripple love... shatter hope... kill friendship... shut out memories... silence courage."


Cancer can never take away Dionne Warner's "Live your life to the fullest - No regrets!" mantra or the exuberant "Woo Hoo!' that marked her entrances and celebrations. It will never diminish the good work she did in raising funds for cancer research or in raising the spirits of thousands of cancer patients and their families. Many will remember that forever.

I extend my deepest condolences to Dionne's wingman, Graham, and their family and friends. Dionne was much loved and will be sorely missed.

Fly high and free, Angel D. Thank you for the light you shone in our lives. We will never forget you. We will continue to carry that light for you.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Buy the Never Leave Your Wingman book from DriverWorks Ink
Buy the e-book: KoboAmazon Kindle
----------------------------------------------------
An article in the Regina Leader-Post on Dionne Warner's passing
An article by CBC Saskatchewan on Dionne Warner's passing


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Monday, February 1, 2021

A Funny Thing Happened at a Craft Show

I miss craft shows. Actually, I miss seeing real people with their faces visible, but that's another story.

I miss the busy craft show atmosphere of talking with all variety of folks and selling books to interested readers. Craft and trade shows on the Prairies have been part of my life every fall since 2009 when I published The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story by Alan J. Buick. That fall, the author and I and our spouses (Carol and Al) went on an epic author tour through parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta to launch this wonderful book about a Canadian soldier from Olds/Calgary and a Dutch girl who received his troop's wartime gift of a child's coat made from a Canadian Army blanket. 

The Little Coat is still one of our most popular titles - for good reason, including the fact that the coat is now an artifact in the Canadian War Museum thanks to Alan's writing efforts - and it launched us into the world of selling our books at trade shows and craft shows as well. We had a trade show booth at big events like Canadian Western Agribition for many years and we took our books on the road to various craft shows in all regions of Saskatchewan as well as southern Manitoba and Alberta. Fun stuff for sure.

The Little Coat: The Bob and Sue Elliott Story by Alan J. Buick

But people do say the darnedest things sometimes.

One of the funniest - or maybe strangest - moments that happened came during a show in a Saskatchewan town in November 2012. The craft show was held in a large gymnasium-like room and there was plenty of space for craft tables and for customers to wander among them. (Sigh. Did I mention that I miss people?) 

Anyway, I returned to the room after a short break and an older woman greeted me at the door. She called to her friend to follow her and they both walked behind me, following me for the entire length of the large room until I got to my table. They stopped in front of my table and waited until I sat down in my chair behind the table.

Then the woman picked up my Never Leave Your Wingman book - about fun-loving, inspiring, seven-time cancer survivor Dionne Warner and her wingman husband Graham - and held the bright pink book up for her friend to see.


"They say this is a really good book," the woman said to her friend.

Then she put the book down and they both walked away.

What... was... that? I wondered for a long, long time - when I wasn't laughing and shaking my head, that is.

She never did buy the book. Not that weekend anyway.


At another craft show - in a city this time - a woman came up to my booth and asked if she could buy "that big book." 

I was confused. All the books I publish are of a standard size - either 6 inches wide by 9 inches high or slightly smaller. I have published only a couple of books that are 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches, so I didn't understand what she was wanting. I asked her to repeat herself.

"I want to buy that big book. There!" she said as she pointed to the 12-inch by 18-inch poster of a book cover that was hanging on the booth wall behind me.

"Um... those are just posters of the book covers. The books are here," I said as gently as I could while I motioned to all the books covering the tables between us.


I don't remember if the woman ended up buying an "actual" book or not - I think she did - but I distinctly remember that she was not the only person who asked if they could buy one of the book posters. One other person inquired at a different trade show a few years later.

So maybe there's a market out there for oversized books. Hmmm...


As my publishing business grew and my display table of books by various authors expanded during the past 10 years, my routine of briefly introducing the books on my table became more complex. Sometimes the words that came out of my mouth were confusing for craft show visitors and for myself as well. (I'm better at writing than I am at talking.)  As I honed my publishing preferences to focus only on non-fiction books and other genres related to non-fiction, it became easier for me to describe the books on my craft show tables. At least that's what I thought was happening.

"Hello. These are all books I publish," I'd say. "They're all written by Saskatchewan and Prairie authors, including me. These ones are all true stories (as I pointed out the books), these are healing and wellness, these are children's fiction and non-fiction, and these are humour and cowboy poetry over here. They're all true stories or based on true stories."

It sounded simple enough to me but, then again, this is my business and I deal with these books daily, so it should sound understandable to the person who creates the books. Let me tell you, it definitely boggles the minds of some folks who wander up to my craft show tables. Usually, I can sort out their questions and help them understand whatever it is that they want to know about the awesome books written by awesome writers. (Shout out to my authors!)

But sometimes, nothing I say really matters.

I recall spending five or ten - or maybe it was a hundred - minutes one day talking to a man about the different books he appeared to be interested in on my craft show tables. He had asked about some of the story lines, whether this one was a Saskatchewan story or not, whether these people were still alive... and more. Then came the question that floored me.

"So, have you read any of them?" he asked.

Uh.... What?

"Yes," I replied, trying to keep him from seeing how astounded I was at his question. Hadn't I just told him about almost Every. Single. One. Of these books?

"I edited and published all of these books, so, yes, I've read every word in every one of them. Many times," I said.

The guy eventually walked away. I was glad to see him go. Sometimes you just can't help people.


The final memorable funny moment came when two young girls, about 10 years old, stopped at my booth one evening and began looking at the children's and young adult books. They picked up one kids' book and then another and began conversing with me.

And that's when my "I've read every word in every one of these books" line came back to haunt me.

One of the young smarty-pants girls picked up The Inquiring Reporter by Clay Stacey (a book that is still available as an e-book, by the way) and randomly opened it up. "Okay, I'm on page 68. The word starts with a p and ends with r. What is it?" the youngster brazenly asked as she looked straight at me.

"Publisher," I replied, without hesitating.

The little girl's eyes opened wide as she looked at her friend in shock. "Wow! She really does know every word in the books!"

She quickly put the book down and they almost ran as they left my booth.

I smiled.

Yes, of course I got lucky with "publisher", but it was a pretty easy guess. The book's author, Clay Stacey, was a publisher, editor, and reporter in all four Western provinces for 50 years - so "publisher" seemed like a reasonable option for a word that starts with p and ends with r - in a book about a publisher!

However, I am glad that she didn't look a little farther down the page and pick out the word starting with a u and ending with a y...

Unpredictability.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Students learn about Reconciliation from Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone book by Mary Harelkin Bishop

Saskatoon author and educator Mary Harelkin Bishop wrote Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone with the hope that it would give readers of all ages a better idea of the concept of reconciliation - a path of respectfulness between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

It has been gratifying to see the book receive awards at the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards and Hollywood Book Awards, but the greatest gifts have come when students and teachers send messages about what they learned from reading this book.

Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone tells the story of Danny, who lives on a family farm homesteaded by his great-great-grandparents, and Zach, a Cree boy who lives in the nearby town. When their Grade 6 teacher assigns a Canadian heritage project in which students must write about their family histories, Danny is paired with Zach, the only Indigenous boy in the class. At first, Danny and Zach can’t seem to get along. Then Danny finds out that his great-great-grandmother’s journal talks of breaking the land and building and living in a sod house. She also tells of how the First Nations people in the area helped her save her infant son’s life by using traditional medicines when he was very sick. The more Danny digs into his family’s history, the more he realizes that his and Zach’s pasts are complicated and connected.

A Grade 5/6 classroom in Saskatoon recently read Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone and used a Literature Circles learning format. In images sent via a PowerPoint slideshow, the teacher shared with us what the class learned from this important book:

Students learned about Reconciliation from Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone book

Some of the valuable lessons the students learned from Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone by Mary Harelkin Bishop are:

  •        People can change.
  •          You should give everyone a second chance.
  •          Every child is different and has unique experiences.
  •          Everyone’s culture, race, and religion is valuable.
  •          Don’t judge someone based on their past.
  •          Everyone makes mistakes.
  •          We learned about marginalization and how it harmed Indigenous Peoples.
  •          It is important to learn about the true history of Canada, which has not always happened in Canadian schools.
  •          It is never too late to do the right thing.
  •          Reconciliation is learning to heal, learn and move forward together.
















-

Thank you to the teacher and Grade 5/6 class for sending us their work and responses to this book. 

Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone has been called “a must-read book for all youth” and a book that will help teachers become better teachers, kids become better friends, parents become better parents, and neighbours become better neighbours.

The author, Mary Harelkin Bishop, is a retired teacher who spent much of her career working in core neighbourhood schools. She has also been a teacher-librarian. Most recently, she was an educational consultant with Saskatoon Tribal Council, with a focus on helping students research and write the history of their families and reserves, and their hopes for the future.

Mistasiniy: Buffalo Rubbing Stone is available from www.driverworks.ca
(ISBN 978-1-927570-32-6, Juvenile fiction, Ages 10 and up)  
Schools and libraries should contact DriverWorks Ink
directly for discounts on orders.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Submissions Call - True stories of Canadian Aviation and Funny Stories about Farm Life

Send in your true stories of adventures in Canadian aviation and your funny stories about life on a farm!

DriverWorks Ink wants to publish your stories in the third volumes of the Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation book series and the Fun On The Farm: True Tales of Farm Life book series.

Here are the details and deadlines:

Send your story submissions for Flight: Stories of Canadian Aviation, Vol. 3

If you or someone you know has a great story of Canadian aviation to contribute to the next volume of Flight, please send your submission by email or mail. Submissions must be true short stories (no poems please) about events that occurred to Canadian pilots or other aviation personnel. We want true stories of danger, heroism, helping, joy, adventure, silliness, misfortune, etc.

Flight - Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 1

Flight - Stories of Canadian Aviation, Volume 2

Send your story submissions for Fun On The Farm 3

DriverWorks Ink is pleased to invite you to share more of your true short stories (or poems) about funny things that have happened on Prairie farms for volume 3 of the Fun On the Farm series. Tell us about events, interactions, people, or pranks that have happened to you or someone you know related to life on a Prairie farm. We want to make readers giggle, shake their heads in wonder, or downright belly-laugh when reading this book, just as they did with Volumes 1 and 2. Note that we've said "Prairie" farms since most of the stories have happened on the Prairies, but we will entertain stories that occurred on other farms in other Canadian provinces and territories.

Fun On The Farm - True Tales of Farm Life

Fun On The Farm Too - True Tales of Farm Life

Submission guidelines for the books:

  • They must be true stories.
  • Stories should be 750 to 2,500 words.
  • Please provide details including your name, address, phone number, and email address, as well as the names, dates, location, and other details of the people and places in your story. Be sure to get permission to share the stories of others.
  • All submissions will be accepted, but not all will be published.
  • Photos may be submitted upon acceptance of your story.
  • Those whose stories are published will receive two complimentary copies for each story published in that volume of the book and can purchase more copies at a 40% discount to sell at venues not already supplied by DriverWorks Ink.

Please send your submission ideas before Jan. 27, 2021 by email to: ddriver at sasktel.net or by mail to: DriverWorks Ink, 110 McCarthy Blvd. N., Regina, SK S4R 6A4. You don’t have to have the entire story written, but we do need to know what will be coming so we can plan our new releases.


Please contact Deana Driver of DriverWorks Ink if you have a story to share but you do not wish to write it yourself. She would be happy to consider writing the story to share it in that way. Thank you in advance.