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Regional Reads

author: Conrad Beaubien

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“The truth about stories is that that’s all we are.” - Thomas King

A Compendium of Local Books published in 2015.

I KNEW BY READING AND HEARING THE STORY ALOUD and I knew by the energetic chord, that the passage had stuck with the audience at the open mic event,” author Ken Murray recounts. “There under pressure of a publishing deadline for my novel and on a freezing midweek night in the middle of the so-called down season, I found a community gathering in Wellington. I found an audience right when I needed it.”

The public library, publisher, print media, the bookstore, community radio, café and pub or writer’s groups are front porches for writers. There are dozens of these literary dens in Watershed territory; second homes where local writers share their work with audiences, where sentences are built one upon another to form books that ultimately take hold in the same soil. Watershed checked out these haunts and asked for suggestions of new titles to look out for in this season. Here’s what we uncovered:

Do you have a personal or family story to tell? Diane Taylor’s most recent book, The Gift of Memoir: Show Up, Open Up, Write, gives practical advice for aspiring biographers. Her personal experiences and insights offer the reader an understanding of how, regardless of skill, writing a memoir can also be a path to healing. The book was financed by crowd-funding, described by Taylor as “a form of modern barn-raising where timbers get hoisted into position, one at a time.”
The Gift of Memoir: Show Up, Open Up, Write, by Diane Taylor
PUBLISHER: BPS Books
CATEGORY: How-To, Personal Growth

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A life-long traveller and educator, James Ronson is a member of Spirit of the Hills writers group. In Power and Possessions, the high stakes of the computer gaming world overlap with the fine art world in Toronto. “This is a stunning book of what happens when you have a triangle of love, money and crime,” says Richard Grove, author and principal of Hidden Brook Press in Brighton. "It is one of my crowning achievements as a publisher, designer and editor. By the way, my mother loved it and she’s a tough critic.”
Power and Possessions, by James Ronson
PUBLISHER: Hidden Brook Press
CATEGORY: Crime Fiction

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“There are many great authors residing in Prince Edward County,says Christine Renaud, Manager of Communications and Outreach for the County’s library and archives system. “Storyteller extraordinaire, Janet Kellough is one.” Kellough’s family has lived in PEC for over two hundred years. Her relationships and sense of connection give her an intimate insider’s view of a close-knit community. Old stories, new stories, even street-corner gossip all find a place in her repertoire, whether she’s telling it from the stage or on the page. The Burying Ground is the latest in her mystery series set in 1840s Upper Canada, featuring Thaddeus Lewis, an itinerant “saddlebag” preacher. The book takes us from the Strangers Burying Ground in Toronto – the resting place of criminals, vagrants and indigents – into the unknown, when the graveyard sexton enlists Lewis to help unravel the place’s secrets. What unfolds is a trail of corruption and blackmail tied to a sexual scandal and an enemy intent on vengeance.
The Burying Ground: A Thaddeus Lewis Mystery, by Janet Kellough
PUBLISHER: Dundurn Press
CATEGORY: Mystery

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Also drawing on the mystique of the County is Vicki Delaney, who began her career as a Sunday writer, with a full-time finance job and three young children. Eventually she took early retirement to settle in Prince Edward County, where she’s become one of Canada’s most prolific crime writers. Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, a first in a new series by Delaney, is set in Rudolph, New York, where it’s Christmas-time all year round. But this December, a murder is about to ruin everyone’s holiday cheer.
Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen (A Year Round Christmas Mystery #1), by Vicki Delaney
PUBLISHER: Berkley Books
CATEGORY:Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

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(New titles in Delaney’s Lighthouse Library Series include By Book or By Crook, Booked for Trouble and the upcoming Reading up a Storm.)

Death By Triangulation, by John Oughton is another title suggested by Christine Renaud. A photographer with three solo shows and several book and magazine covers to his credit, Oughton has previously published five books of poetry. His first novel is set in Prince Edward County, Toronto, upstate New York and the Dominican Republic. It features cultural investigator Aaron Miles, a motorcycle-riding poet who is hired by a wealthy family to suppress any scandals following the death of a blacksheep uncle. In doing so, he opens the lid on a conspiracy surrounding a major crime of the 20th century.
Death by Triangulation, by John Oughton
PUBLISHER: NeoPoiesis Press
CATEGORY: Crime Fiction

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Alone: A Winter in the Woods by Felicity Sidnell Reid is a recommendation from Mia at Lighthouse Books in Brighton. Sidnell Reid is a writer of both poetry and fiction, an editor and co-host of Word on The Hills, a weekly radio show that interviews local writers. Her poetry and short stories have been published in anthologies and online. “Alone took me back to when I was 13, reading a novel about Daniel Boone and being told to turn off the light and go to sleep – I couldn’t put it down,” says publisher Richard Grove. “I put myself into the story and wondered how I would cope as the son of a pioneer, left at the homestead to not just survive but to take care of the house and livestock. The illustrator for Alone, Jirina Marton, lives in Colborne and is a recipient of The Governor General’s Award for children’s book illustration.
Alone: A Winter in the Woods, by Felicity Sidnell Reid; Illustrated by Jirina Marton
PUBLISHER: Hidden Brook Press
CATEGORY: Children’s Fiction

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Jim Christy has been a globetrotter for most of hislife. He has lived with natives of the Amazon and natives of the Fiji Islands and, as a freelance reporter, he covered seven wars and armed conflicts.Now living in Belleville, Christy is the author of over 35 titles of short stories, essays and poetry. Bad Day for Ralphie is his newest collection of short stories. Sometimes idiosyncratic and quirky, often funky and strange, they are always poignant and emotionally provocative.
Bad Day for Ralphie – Stories: New and Selected, by Jim Christy
PUBLISHER: Hidden Brook Press
CATEGORY: Fiction

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Brian Way recently returned to the north shore of Prince Edward County, living in a small house (on the poor side of town) that he has named “Here”. redirection, Way’s new book of poetry, explores the Canadian psyche and that of the world beyond. This engaging collection of poetry is grand and complex, its language sharp as a Canadian season.
redirection: The Prime Sonnets and Other Poems, by Brian Way
PUBLISHER: Hidden Brook Press
CATEGORY: Poetry

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A former librarian, Peggy Dymond Leavey is the author of nine novels for young readers, a book of non-fiction for adults and biographies of Mary Pickford and Laura Secord, the latter shortlisted for the Speaker’s Book Award in 2013. Molly Brant is Dymond Leavey’s latest work. Molly, a Mohawk girl born into poverty in 1736, became the consort of Sir William Johnson, one of the wealthiest men in 18th century America. Suspected of being a spy for the British during the American Revolution, Molly was forced to flee with her children or face imprisonment. At Fort Niagara, she worked to keep the Six Nations on the side of the British throughout the war. Although she was seen as fractious and demanding at times, her remarkable stamina and courage gained the respect of the highest levels in Canadian government.
Molly Brant, by Peggy Dymond Leavey
PUBLISHER: Dundurn Press
CATEGORY: Biography; History

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Suggested by Kate Davis, Manager of Public Services at the Cobourg Library, Above the Pigsty by Peter Van Essen is a firsthand account of the author’s years spent in hiding to escape forced labour imposed by the Nazis during WWII. He would later marry the resistance movement leader’s daughter and emigrate to Canada following the war. Van Essen translated his diaries into English to preserve his story for future generations. A hobby writer, he currently lives in a retirement residence in Cobourg. Illustrations for Above the Pigsty were created by his granddaughter, Miranda Van Essen.
Above the Pigsty, by Peter Van Essen
PUBLISHER: FriesenPress
CATEGORY: Biography; History

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Cobourg resident Margaret Bain was one of a number of local citizens disturbed by the damage from dredging on the headland of the town’s west-harbour area. Now that some remediation has been done, she said, “I thought it would be a good time to let the people of Cobourg know what they had managed to preserve.” The Wildlife of Cobourg Harbour is an informal look at the natural heritage of the harbour, its headland, ecology garden and west beach – a restorative place to take in the constantly changing lake and the wide sky. The book illustrates some of the delights to be found through each season. From the bright wood-warblers racing north in spring, to winter’s diving ducks and white-winged gulls from the Arctic, you will find much to savour in these pages.
The Wildlife of Cobourg Harbour, by Margaret Bain
http://www.mattholderfund.com/shop/
CATEGORY: Nature

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Ken Murray’s love of water drew him to his present home on East Lake where he teaches writing and is a member of the Roadhouse writing group. In Eulogy, the controlled life of William Oaks is shattered when his parents die. The reclusive paper conservator at a Toronto museum must face the obsessions and denials that formed him: delusional family history, religious fundamentalism, and get-rich-quick schemes. Memory and facts collide, threatening to derail his life and career as he prepares for an important exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Eulogy, by Ken Murray
PUBLISHER: Tightrope Books Inc.
CATEGORY: Literary fiction

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Much-lauded novelist Jane Urquhart, whose family roots are in the Colborne and Castleton area, needs no introduction. Her new book, The Night Stages explores the meaning of separation, the sorrows of fractured families, and the profound effect of Ireland’s wild and elemental landscape on lives shaped by its beauty. Grounded by fog during a flight layover in Newfoundland, a woman heading to New York recalls growing up in wartime England and the lover she has just left in Ireland. Running parallel is the story of Canadian artist Kenneth Lochhead’s mural in Gander airport that is Tam’s only companion through three long days and nights.
The Night Stages, by Jane Urquhart
PUBLISHER: McClelland & Stewart
CATEGORY: Literary fiction

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Known in Brighton as the local “history guy”, Dan Buchanan uses his background as a genealogist and historian in Murder in the Family: The Dr. King Story, where he weaves a true-crime tale of poison and philandering in 1850s Ontario. Respected Dr. William Henry King astonished the countryside with the murder of his wife and his subsequent attempts to evade justice. Buchanan, a blood relative of Dr. King, reconstructs this story of crime and punishment which shocked the province more than a century and a half ago.
Murder in the Family: The Dr. King Story, by Dan Buchanan
PUBLISHER: Dundurn Press
CATEGORY: True Crime; History

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The Language Thief is Cobourg resident Pat Arato’s personal story, one that has taken a lifetime to unfold – from the early years of her estranged husband’s life, through his debilitating stroke and eventual death in 2011. Armed with patience, perseverance and creativity, Pat Arato not only assumed responsibility for the care and rehabilitation of her aphasic husband, she became the driving force behind an independent speech recovery centre, which helped stroke victims regain their voices. Today, the Pat Arato Aphasia Institute serves as a model for similar centres around the world.
The Language Thief, by Pat Arato
PUBLISHER: Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
CATEGORY: Memoir

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First Words

jane kelly P8191289

IT’S ALWAYS DIFFICULT TO TRANSITION FROM SUMMER INTO FALL FOR ME. I’m never prepared for the abrupt change in temperature and I’m loathe to say goodbye to the endless ease of summer days..…... read more

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A PLACE CALLED LOCH-SLOY
I enjoyed the article on the Loch-Sloy Business Park in your Summer edition. Having lived in the County for some 10 years, I was quite familiar with the old RAF....

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carl wiens

cwportraitCarl lives in Belleville, teaches iIllustration at Sheridan College in Oakville…

meghan sheffield

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Meghan is a Cobourg writer, web producer and social media manager....

norm wagenaar

Norm DSC 0763Norm has been a reporter, photographer, editor, freelance writer and gardener....