Writing is an occupation that is at once gratifying and frustrating; gratifying because most who write are driven to do it and when you do what you are called to do it is fulfilling; frustrating because most of the rest of the population does not understand nor appreciate what you do.
Writing in Canada is at once a blessing and a curse; a blessing because this is home and writing about and for it is a type of grace; a curse because our country is flooded with the work of those who do not live here to the extent that home-grown writers are often ignored.
As a Canadian writer I have experienced all of the above. That's why I was excited when The Word Guild's N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Nelles announced that they were going to edit and publish an anthology of Canadian Christian writers. Hot Apple Cider was the result. It was so well received they went on to do a second edition, titled, aptly enough, A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. Both books have become national best sellers.
I recently had occasion to ask a few of the fiction writers in A Second Cup why they wrote their stories and how they felt about writing in and about Canada. These are their responses:
Jayne Self writes fiction because "my brain thinks in stories." She had been doing a lot of reading to prepare herself for the next stage in her life, that season known as the "empty nest." Her research resulted in What's Next, published in A Second Cup. When asked why she sets her stories in Canada, Jayne replied, "This is what I know. This is who I am. To pretend to be other than Canadian opens my writing to all sorts of unexpected errors in things I automatically assume, in details I've never thought to question."
Jayne was thrilled that her story was chosen to be included in A Second Cup. "God opened the door to this amazing opportunity. Whenever He opens a door I try my best to step through.” Jayne has also been successful as a novelist. Her two cozy mysteries, Murder in Hum Harbour (Harbourlight Books 2011) and Death of a Highland Heavyweight. (Harbourlight Books 2012) are doing well in the marketplace. They can be purchased online (Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Christianbook.com, Harbourlight Books) or through Jayne's website (www.jayneself.com). Jayne also writes about other Canadian authors on her blog www.christianswhowrite.ca
Dorene Meyer lives in an isolated northern community and her fiction is a reflection of that reality. She recently teamed up to teach a writing class with N.J. Lindquist called “When I write, I feel God’s pleasure.” The title was gleaned from a quote by Eric Liddel, when he says that he feels God’s pleasure when he runs. "I guess I feel the same when I’m writing fiction," Dorene says, "I feel happy and fulfilled as if I am doing what I was born to do."
Of her short story in A Second Cup Dorene says - "it is a story that has been working its way out of my heart and onto the paper for most of my life. I spent the first four years of my life in a First Nations community then my mother was a foster parent to hundreds of First Nations children. Today, I once again live and work in a First Nations community. Bannock and Sweet Tea is about a woman named Gracie. It is her story. But it is also my story, and yours, too. There is no them and us; there is only us."
When Dorene heard about the Hot Apple Cider books she was thrilled because she felt it was a rare and great opportunity to work together with other Canadian authors. Dorene has had stories in several other anthologies and her award-winning novels are published by Goldrock Press. Her newest release is Rachel’s Children. You can get an autographed copy through Dorene's website: www.dorenemeyer.com but you can also find them all on Amazon.
N. J. Lindquist says she writes fiction because "many of the positive influences on my life were fiction. Hans Christian Andersons’ and Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Little Women, In His Steps, The Narnia series, and many, many others. That led me to major in English and teach High School English. Plus I’ve been making up stories since I was very small."
N.J. had two true stories published in the first edition of Hot Apple Cider but she felt that since she is better known as a novelist, she should submit a piece of fiction for A Second Cup. Her story, Twenty Five Years Later, has an authentic Canadian setting in Winnipeg, known as Canada's windy city. "I set most of my fiction in Canada because that’s what I know," N.J. explains, "and my stories will be more realistic because of that."I decided to set my story in Winnipeg (I’m originally from Manitoba) and to put four women who hadn’t seen each other for 25 years together and see what happened. The result is a tear-jerker which even gets me every time I read it."
N.J. is passionate about supporting, mentoring and encouraging Canadian Christian writers. "As a Canadian, I believe that if most of us set our books outside of Canada, we’re cheating our grandchildren and future generations because there will be little evidence of our unique Canadian Christian culture." That's why she decided to co-edit the Hot Apple Cider books "to provide a showcase for some of the voices of Canadian writers who are Christian, and to promote excellence in the Canadian Christian community."
N.J's first book, Best of Friends, a coming-of-age novel for teens, was published by Moody Press in the US. The next four were published in Canada. Her first adult mystery, Shaded Light, was also published in the US, and then it and the second were re-published in Canada. N.J. has also published a number of short stories—the latest in The Whole She-Bang, published by Toronto Sisters in Crime. Her books can be ordered any place books are sold, or bought directly from the Canadian publisher http://thatslifecommunications.com/store/ They will all be out as ebooks soon. You can learn more about N.J. at http://www.njlindquist.com
A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider will also soon be released in ebook format. If you live in Canada or the U.S. you can order a hard copy at http://www.vinemarc.com/Store.htm
If you live elsewhere you can order your copy from Amazon.