Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Fly Away Snow Goose--Dreams

An Excerpt from Fly Away Snow Goose-The runaways have braved the wilderness together, hunting, evading capture, often hungry, often footsore. Now, after an entire summer of traveling, and encountering many dangers, they have entered the Tlicho homeland. Here they've found safety and a delicious supper at the campfire of an old man and his wife.  Falling asleep in one another's arms, the young couple experience powerful dreams. 


They walked among the stars, she and Sascho. They went hand in hand, their feet upon a shining path that led across the night. As one, they gazed downward, and Yaot’l saw all the paths they had walked, all the way from Dehcho, following the Horn River until it turned west, and then their wandering through the little groves, the bush and the muskeg, where the animals had watched them pass. 

The beautiful deer lifted his head, leapt across their path and vanished among the stars. He too, was now a soul, wandering the sky. He would travel there until he faded into the body of the Great Spirit, which contained earth and all its creatures, both two-legged and four.

Then, Sascho’s hand was gone and she was alone. For a moment, Yaot’l was afraid, but now she was winged, flying. And although his hand was gone, she saw that, there, flashing beside hers was another wing, tipped in black, bravely sculling the heavens! A pure joy welled inside, for she knew that she and her husband were but two among a great flock of others, flying just below the stars, as she and her tribe went soaring toward True North…

* * *

And Sascho dreamed...

He was a bear, a young brown bear, lying down, hips up and belly flat down on earth, paws extended toward a central fire. Fire—a strange companion for a bear—but in this case it was blue and cool and it barely flickered at all.

Across the fire sat another bear, very large, and back on his haunches. He was bluish in color and his great muzzle was speckled with white. He was big, broad shouldered and old.

A long silence lay between them. The strange cool fire set the shadows dancing. Sascho wanted to hang his head, but it was soothing to stare into the light. The great bear slowly eased his front legs down until his belly too rested on the ground. Then he curled his paws against his chest and settled with a deep sigh.

“Now you feel the burden of leadership. You and all your friends might have died in that flood. Never forget; as you walk through the Tłı̨chǫ dèè, trials of life and death are always waiting.”

Another long pause followed. A shower of small glowing objects fell all around him. They reminded Sascho of hail, except for the glitter. They hissed as they landed, and when Sascho reached a curious paw to touch one, it was cool. As he gazed at it in wonder, the old one spoke again.

“You are a young bear with much to learn, before the gift of ink’on is given. You are fortunate to have found a hard-working, wise mate who will help you.”

Ink’on! The old bear had said it would be his—the gift that had come to his Uncle John, the gift which had made him a fortunate hunter, the gift that had given him power to see what others did not, to be a fount of giving to his tribe….

And Yaot’l too—the old one had said that Yaot’l would ever walk at his side! The weight upon his young heart lifted.

* * *

~~Juliet Waldron
Juliet Waldron's Website

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Indian Horse, a review

Netflix, the other night, popped up an interesting title: Indian Horse. As soon as I discovered that this was a Canadian offering that had premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film festival, I was more than ready to give it a try. My first guess, from the image, was that it was a hockey story with a First Nations' protagonist.

CBC Image

All I know about hockey is--not much! I watched the "big boys" play on Skaneateles Lake long ago. These young men played with vigor, a lot of shoving, falling and shouting. It was an exciting game to watch, which is what I did from a venue well beyond the area marked out for the game. No walls led to occasional danger for onlookers, as you can imagine.

I loved to be out-of-doors, even in the coldest weather. That 1950's lake, once frozen to a gleaming sheet, was a fabulous playground, as long as there hadn't been too much sticky snow to cover it up. Hockey is a sport of fabulous grace and violence, pretty equally mixed.  We all know the ancient joke: "I went to see a fight, but then a hockey game broke out."

It turns out that hockey is an important part of Indian Horse, but it wasn't "embattled underdog, Saul Indian Horse, finds glory and acceptance through sports" kind of tale.  Instead, the central subject is racism and the related residential school cruelty. None of the abuse portrayed in the film--or in the original book, brilliantly written by Richard Wagamese--was new to me because of the things I'd learned -- from John Wisdomkeeper and from research -- in order to become part of the Canadian Historical Brides project and work on Fly Away Snow Goose.  

Familiarity with these stories, however, doesn't stifle the horror of the medieval punishments inflicted upon terrified children who have just been ripped away--often by men with guns--from the only world they've ever known. Residential Schools, in the U.S.A. and in Canada, have a lot of sins to answer for.

Much of the film was set in a stark, industrial wasteland, which could be anywhere in North America, those dark working men's bars in mining/lumbering towns whose business is to chew up the landscape for money and spit out earthly ruin. "Glory" is a word which reoccurs. It is used by Indian Horse's abuser, the Catholic priest who also introduces him to a game where he can fly. "Glory" also appears in the scenes at God's Lake, the secret place where his ancestors once lived and to which Saul travels in one of the penultimate scenes of his spiritual rebirth.

The movie was beautiful and sad, but I knew from the hurry at the end that the source would have even more to say. I am just now finishing the book, read in the last twenty-four hours in one giant bite. What a powerful, spare writer was Richard Wagamese, for, sadly, he's already gone. I'm looking forward to reading more of his work and truly sorry he's not still here, busy sharing his hard-won wisdom and poetic prose.

The life of the author seems to have been as full of suffering and struggle as that of Saul Indian Horse.  One of four children abandoned in the bush by parents gone off on a drinking bout, the older ones took the younger to shelter in a railway station when their supplies ran out. Here the children were found and taken into custody. Richard and the others went to foster homes. He was adopted at nine by Presbyterian zealots who refused to allow him to connect with his 1st Nations past and attempted to beat the Indian out of him. At sixteen he ran off to live on the streets. Here, drugs and drink claimed him, and he went to prison a couple of times. 

Sheltering in libraries, he began to read, and through reading found his way to his talent for writing. Against such terrible odds, eventually, Mr. Wagamese became a successful journalist. He published his first novel Keeper 'n' me in 1994. When he died in his sleep in 2017, he was sixty-two and had published thirteen books, some meditations on life, some novels. Richard Wagamese was born Ojibway, of the Wabasseemoong tribe of Northwest Ontario, and how deeply grateful I am to have discovered his true and graceful writing.

~~Juliet Waldron

All my novels at Books We Love

18th and 19th Century novels, some romances, some fantasies, 
many semi-biographical novels about my heroes--and heroines.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Canadian Authors Past and Present by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey--British Columbia


Canadian Authors Past and Present
Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017. To commemorate the occasion my publisher, Books We Love, Ltd (BWL) brought out the Canadian Historical Brides Series during 2017 and 2018. There are twelve books, one about each province, one about the Yukon, and one combining the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Each book was written by a BWL Canadian author or co-authored by a Canadian and an international BWL author.
Each province and territory of Canada has spawned many well-known authors and my series of posts this year will be about them-one or two from the past and one or two from the present, the present-day ones being the authors of the Brides book for the corresponding province or territory. The posts are in the order that the books were published.

British Columbia

Stephen Reid was born in Massey Ontario (ON) on March 13, 1950. He is the author of two books but his main claim to fame is that he belonged to Canada’s notorious Stopwatch Gang of bank robbers. The gang which also included Lionel Wright and Patrick Michael "Paddy" Mitchell who was the leader, was given its name because of the stopwatch Reid carried during the robberies. The gang was also known for their politeness to their victims and their non-violent methods.
     During the 1970s and 1980s the three men stole an estimated $15 million from more than 140 banks, gas stations, and shops across Canada and the United States. With the help of an inside man they robbed the Ottawa, ON, airport of $750,000 in gold in 1974. They were arrested but by 1979 they had all escaped from prison.
     Stephen Reid was arrested in Arizona in 1980 and returned to Canada where he began serving a twenty-one year sentence at the Kent institution in Agassiz, B.C. He started writing in 1984 and sent his manuscript to Susan Musgrave who, though her home was on Haidi Gwaii off the coast of the B.C. mainland, was the writer-in-residence at the University of Waterloo at the time. They developed a relationship and were married at the prison in 1986. Reid’s first book, Jackrabbit Patrol was published that year.
     When Stephen was released on full parole in 1987 the couple lived in Sidney, B.C. where he taught creative writing at Camosun College. He also worked as a youth counsellor in the Northwest Territories. Unfortunately, he became addicted to heroin and cocaine and returned to his old ways, robbing a bank in Victoria in June 1999. This time he was sentenced to eighteen years in prison. In 2007, a National Film Board of Canada produced a documentary film titled Inside Time about Stephen Reid’s life. His second book, A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden: Writing from Prison, was published in 2012. It is a number of essays about his life in prison and he won the Victoria Butler Book Prize for it in 2013. Reid was granted full parole in 2014. He lived on Haidi Gwaii with his wife, Susan, until June 12, 2018 when he died from pulmonary edema and third degree heart block.
Note: Patrick Mitchell wrote his autobiography titled, This Bank Robber's Life, while he was in prison. He died of lung cancer on January 14, 2007 and his manuscript was published posthumously in 2015.
Lionel Wright, was nicknamed ‘The Ghost’ because he had the ability to blend into a crowd and disappear. He was released from prison in 1994 and his whereabouts are unknown.

Emily Carr was born on December 13, 1871, in Victoria, B.C. She was the second youngest of nine children and she and her siblings were raised by parents who kept the English customs they had been used to in England. Their home had high ceilings, decorative mouldings, and there was a parlour. Sunday mornings were for prayers, and there were evening Bible readings. Emily’s mother died in 1886 and her father in 1888.
     Emily’s father had encouraged her in her artistic pursuits but it wasn’t until two years after his death that she enrolled at the San Francisco Art Institute. She returned to Victoria in 1892 and over the next twenty years she alternated between travelling to aboriginal villages in British Columbia to sketch and paint their lifestyle and going to England and France to study art. During that time she took a job teaching at the Ladies Art Club in Vancouver but the students didn’t like her because she smoked in class and cursed them. She left after a month.
     She continued to paint and even opened a gallery in Vancouver. However, it was not a success so 1913, she once again moved to Victoria. For the next fifteen years Emily ran a boarding house called the House of all Sorts. She continued to do a little painting and over time her work was recognized by influential members of the art world and she put on an exhibit at Canada’s National Gallery. She is best known for her paintings on Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and later in life her modernist and post-impressionist styles.
     Emily Carr suffered heart attacks in 1937 and 1939. She had a serious stroke in 1940 and another heart attack in 1942. These left her unable to paint so she concentrating on her writing. Her first book Klee Wyck was published in 1941 and she won the Governor-General Award for non-fiction for the book. The Book of Small came out in 1942 and The House of all Sorts, named after her boarding house which provided material for the book, was published in 1944.
     Emily Carr died from a heart attack On March 2, 1945. She had three books published posthumously: Growing Pains (1946); Pause, The Heart of a Peacock (1953); and Hundreds and Thousands (1966).
     As an author, Emily Carr was one of the earliest story tellers of life in the province of British Columbia.

Book 4 of the Canadian Historical Brides Series:  Barkerville Beginnings (British Columbia) - A.M. Westerling) - June 2017
A.M. Westerling grew up in a small Alberta town. She loved to read and when she was in her teens, her mother introduced her to romance novels, then her father got her reading historical romance novels. Historical novels are still her favourite today. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, from the University of Calgary, married and worked in the oil industry. She tried writing but when she and her husband had two children and began an engineering business in Calgary she set that aside.
     After selling the business years later, A.M. began her full-time writing career, concentrating on action-adventure, historical romance. Her aim is to take her readers away from their every-day lives and transport them into a different time. Her first two novels, A Countess’ Lucky Charm and Her Proper Scoundrel both came out in 2012. Since then she has had three more books published with Books We Love, Ltd.
     Besides writing, she enjoys gardening, camping, yoga, going for walks, and watching sports, especially her hometown Calgary Stampeders and Calgary Flames. She belongs to the Romance Writers of America, and is active in the Calgary chapter of the RWA.
     As she says: “History is romantic. To combine history with a love story is my ultimate joy and, I hope, yours as well.”

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Queen Elizabeth II is 94

My Mother, a staunch Anglophile, would have been 100 this year.  On April 21, a woman she very much admired, Queen Elizabeth II, became 94.   Queen Elizabeth II has had the longest reign of any English monarch.  A few years ago, she also became the world's oldest living head of state.

I can trace my own love of English history back to the year of 1952, the year Elizabeth came to the throne. My parents subscribed to the Sunday New York Times. That early morning car trip to the drug store to pick up the paper with my Dad, into the picturesque lakeside town of Skaneateles, NY., was part of our weekly routine.  I went along to ogle little china animals that were for sale there and to attempt to wheedle a candy bar out of Daddy before he'd picked up the paper. 

My Uncle Leo, Aunt Judy, myself & my Dad, 1952

As the coronation approached, The NY Times was full of historical pieces about the royal families who had preceded the Windsors. There were images of the many monarchs who were her predecessors, and lots of snippets about the famous and the infamous.  I was a voracious reader and sufficiently interested in the historical background they were printing to not only read, but scissor out and paste into a scrapbook I'd begun, everything I could find pertaining to the royals and the coming coronation.

Anne Boleyn

Of course, the tales of Henry VIII and his doomed Queen Anne Boleyn, made for exciting reading, as did the stories of their daughter,  Elizabeth I. The first Elizabeth, I learned, had almost as many lives as a cat as she survived various plots to dispose of her during the reigns of her half-brother, Edward VI, and her half-sister, Queen Mary. The later was the most dangerous enemy, because Mary's mother had been dispossessed of both husband and crown by Anne Boleyn.  It wasn't long after that I was cutting my historical novel teeth on "Young Bess," "Elizabeth, Captive Princess," and "Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain" by Margaret Irwin, one of my favorite writers. 

Three images of the first Queen Elizabeth

The Second World War was only seven years distant in 1952. My Mom was very proud of the way the English royal family had comported themselves during the German bombing campaign. At one point, after Buckingham Palace was bombed, it was suggested that the Queen Mother and her two daughters should leave England for the safer Canada, which was more closely enmeshed with the English government than it is today. The Queen Mother refused to leave the country, saying:

"The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave."

At sixteen, the war ongoing, Elizabeth signed up with the British Labour Registry, even though her parents, King George and Queen Elizabeth, had to be persuaded. In this "all hands on deck" moment, the Princess was soon in military coveralls, working as a truck driver and a mechanic. Today, Elizabeth II is the only living head of State who served in World War II. 

Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor
& the Queen Mother during World War II

Queen Elizabeth has seen enormous changes in the world during her long rule. She's presided over decolonization as the British Empire has been eroded away by popular political movements. This list --(Ceylon/Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) also includes Canada. The Canada Act of 1982 finally severed the country's legal dependence upon the British parliament. 

Despite a 94th birthday being a momentous occasion for the monarch, the traditional gun salute was foregone this year because of our current pandemic. The Queen's official birthday, in June, which is normally marked with a magnificent display of trooping of the colours, has also been cancelled. 

~~Juliet Waldron

All my historical novels

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Canadian Authors Past and Present by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey--Yukon


Canadian Authors Past and Present
Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2017. To commemorate the occasion my publisher, Books We Love, Ltd (BWL) brought out the Canadian Historical Brides Series during 2017 and 2018. There are twelve books, one about each province, one about the Yukon, and one combining the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Each book was written by a BWL Canadian author or co-authored by a Canadian and an international BWL author.
Each province and territory of Canada has spawned many well-known authors and my series of posts this year will be about them-one or two from the past and one or two from the present, the present-day ones being the authors of the Brides book for the corresponding province or territory. The posts are in the order that the books were published.


Pierre Berton was born on July 20 in Whitehorse, Yukon. His family moved to Dawson in 1921 and then to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1932. He attended the University of B.C. and during the summers returned to work in the Klondike mining camps to earn money. He became a journalist in Vancouver and at the age of twenty-one he was the youngest city editor on any Canadian daily newspaper.
     Berton moved to Toronto in 1947 and went on to write for, and was an editor at, Maclean’s magazine. He appeared on many television shows including the long-running Front Page Challenge (1957-1995) for thirty-nine years. His first book The Royal Family was published in 1953 and his second, a young reader novel, The Golden Trail: The Story of the Klondike Rush, came out in 1954. Between then and 1993 he wrote more than fifty fiction and non-fiction books about Canadian history and popular culture, including coffee table books, children’s books, and historical novels for young adults. He received over thirty literary awards one of which was the Governor-General’s Award for Creative Non-fiction. In 1994, Canada’s National History Society established the Pierre Berton award to be given to an author who has written about Canadian history in an absorbing and charming way. Berton was the first recipient.
     Pierre Berton’s childhood home in Dawson has been restored and is now called the Berton House. It opened as a writers’ retreat in August of 1996. Four writers a year are chosen to reside in the house for three months each. During that time they can work on their newest manuscript while giving writing workshops and readings in Yukon communities.
     Pierre Berton passed away in Toronto on November 30, 2004.

Edith Josie was born on December 8, 1921 in Eagle, Alaska, and moved to the small village of Old Crow, Yukon, when she was sixteen. Old Crow is 193 kilometres (120 miles) south of the Arctic Ocean and 129 kilometres (80 miles) north of the Arctic Circle and is occupied mainly by the Loucheaux Indians of the Vuntut Gwich’in peoples. The sun doesn’t set for two months in the summer and the temperature can reach as high as +35C. In winter it is total darkness for three weeks and the temperature can drop to -50C.
     Miss Josie was appointed Justice of the Peace for Old Crow in 1957 and served for seven years. She began her writing career as the Old Crow Correspondent for the Whitehorse Star late in 1962. Her column for the Star was called Here Are The News (sic) and Edith reported the events of the village in an unpretentious and informal way, much like she spoke English. Correct grammar and punctuation were not part of her writing, it was the story that was important. Her stories were published exactly the way she composed them.
     Edith wrote for the Star for thirty-eight years and during that time her column was syndicated to papers in Edmonton Alberta, Toronto Ontario, Fairbanks Alaska, and in California. In 1965 Life magazine did a feature on her, titled Everyone Sure Glad. The article brought her world-wide recognition and her stories were translated into German, Italian, Spanish, and Finnish. She received letters from fans in Texas, Florida, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
     Edith Josie received the Canadian Centennial Award in 1967, the Yukon Historical Museums Award in 1994, was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995, and was honored by the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards (now the Indspire Awards) in 2000. She died on January 31, 2010.
Here are some examples of her work as she wrote them: Even now the spring has come cause it is daylight around 11 o'clock p.m. Pretty soon we won't use light for night time. Everyone glad to see plane every day. Even the same plane come in one day, they all have to go down to see what is going on and what come in on plane.
John Joe Kay and his family and Dick Hukon and family came into town from their ratting camp. They reported no rats around there but they say too many mosquito. Too bad no prize on mosquito.
Since last week all the leaves are getting yellow. That mean autumn is coming. When the leaves grow green sure nice but at fall time it’s turn to yellow-more beautiful.
I go to McPherson on Friday and went back to Inuvik Sunday afternoon. When I was there I went to visit my Auntie Sarah Simon she was happy to see me and also myself too.
I write my big news. That’s how all of the people know where is Old Crow. Before the news go out nobody know where is Old Crow. Just when I send my news people know where is Old Crow.

Book 3 of the Canadian Historical Brides Series:  Romancing the Klondike (Yukon) - Joan Donaldson-Yarmey - May 2017
Joan Donaldson-Yarmey began her writing career with a short article, progressed to travel and historical articles, and then on to travel books. She called these travel books her Backroads series and the research for them had her camping throughout Alberta, B.C., the Yukon, and Alaska. While researching her Backroads of the Yukon and Alaska book, Joan and her husband hiked the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway, Alaska, to Lake Bennett, the Yukon. The year was 1997, one hundred years after the Klondike Gold Rush. They did it in the summer time with one 35lb backpack each as opposed to the Klondikers who are pictured hauling their 1200lbs of supplies in the winter. On the hike she passed many artifacts that were left by the men and women on their way to the gold fields.
     Joan switched to fiction and has written ten books: four mystery novels, Illegally Dead, The Only Shadow In The House, and Whistler's Murder in a series called the Travelling Detective Series and Gold Fever her stand-alone novel which combines mystery with a little romance; three Canadian historical, Romancing the Klondike, West to the Bay, and West to Grande Portage; two science fiction The Criminal Streak and Betrayed in her Cry of the Guilty-Silence of the Innocent series; and a holiday romance/comedy titled Twelve Dates of Christmas.
     Joan’s story, A Capital Offence, was published in Ascent Aspirations Magazine and won first place in their flash fiction contest.
     Joan was born in New Westminster, B.C. Canada, and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. She married soon after graduation and moved to a farm where she had two children. Over the years she worked as a bartender, hotel maid, cashier, bank teller, bookkeeper, printing press operator, meat wrapper, gold prospector, warehouse shipper, house renovator, and nursing attendant. During that time she raised her two children and helped raise her three step-children.
     Since she loves change, Joan has moved over thirty times in her life, living on acreages and farms and in small towns and cities throughout Alberta and B.C. She now lives on an acreage on Vancouver Island with her husband and two cats. When she is not writing she is picking fruit, walking on the boardwalk through the tall trees on her property, dragon boating, entering 5K and 10K walks and runs or playing with her two cats.