It’s never too late to put pen to paper.
That lesson's not learned in school, but rather at Askennonia Senior Centre where members of the Let’s Write group have published a 100-page Christmas anthology entitled Christmas Miracles.
“It’s been said that 81% of the population has aspirations to publish a book someday, but that only 1% ever do,” explains Let’s Write member Beverley Hanna, who led the project by encouraging other members to participate by submitting their work and then compiled the book’s material.
“The book comprises twenty-five short stories and nine poems that celebrate the magic of the season and affirm our faith in love, joy and the wonder of Christmas.”
Let’s Write was one of the first groups formed at Askennonia.
It began as a discussion group led by John Philips, an English teacher at Midland Secondary School.
“In the early 2000s, a visiting Mormon couple presented a genealogy workshop to the group, encouraging people to write their personal histories, and the group became Let’s Write,” Hanna recalls.
“It has been a vital and ever-changing club for 20 years, attendance at its meetings fluctuating between six and more than 20 members, due to weather, travel seasons and attrition. Some are even second-generation members following in their writer parent’s footsteps.”
And while the pandemic might have presented an obstacle to a group where members enjoy sharing their work with others, Hanna points out a number of members embraced technology in order to continue getting together once a week online.
“Now that they are able to meet again in person, some continue to attend through Zoom, including a former member now living in Montreal,” she says.
For Hanna, 74, publishing the book is the culmination of a dream and an important remembrance of her father Bill, who was one of the group's original members. She says her father always wished that he could have his worked published, but, sadly, passed away before being able to fulfill that dream.
In honour of her father’s legacy, Hanna was determined to provide that opportunity for other members of the group her dad so enjoyed.
“Can you imagine the thrill of holding your very first published work in your hands, at the tender age of 95?” Hanna asks, referring to the age of another writing group member.
“For the members of the Let’s Write club, that elusive dream has become a reality with the publication of Christmas Miracles.”
Participating authors include: Lorelei Blane-Smith, Robert DeWolfe, Lydia Ehmcke, Katrine Gorissen, Beverley Hanna, Nancy Kristufek, Chris Lyons, Shirley Murray, Diane O’Hara, Pat Schofield, Uma Smith and Susan Wicks.
“For most of the members, this will be the first time they have ever been published, though at least three have done so previously,” Hanna notes.
Hanna says that like one’s favourite Christmas tree ornaments, the anthology’s stories and poems come in a variety of shapes and sizes, transporting readers to ancient Bethlehem, outer space and even a small cabin in the Canadian north.
Over the 100-page anthology, readers will have the opportunity to visit Santa’s reindeer stable, get lost in a snowstorm and find out where lost socks go for the holidays. They'll also be able to imagine Christmas through the eyes of a tiny mouse, a grieving father and a glass angel.
Christmas Miracles is available on Amazon.ca. The Kindle version is $6.99 and the print version is $16.99. All proceeds will be donated to Askennonia.