Welcome! I love to write, and I love sharing what I write with my readers. I vary my style as much as I can-posting events, creative non-fiction, prose and poetry and the occasional video. Enjoy!



Friday, April 24, 2015

Book Review: SPIKED by Steven Barwin

Review: SPIKED: You've got to stay in to play
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)

Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to learn who your real friends are. Emma is an eighth grader who finds out that she can either be popular or a jock but never both.

Emma used to be into sports in a big way but after becoming friends with two other girls in her class- Hailey and Claire, she puts sports aside because her friends like clothes, make up and boys and think its YUCKY to be involved in sports and sweat from playing.

But after an incident that gets Emma roped into volunteering for the girl’s volleyball team, she begins to feel pressure to play again, not only because she is the tallest girl in her class, but because her coach believes she can be a real asset to the team.

Discord between her friends happens when they find out that she has turned into a jock. Her friend Hailey becomes a huge bully towards her, and tries to set her up in the theft of Emma’s coach’s gym bag.  There is also a bit of bullying on the volleyball team on the part of the volleyball team captain because she believes that Emma doesn’t really want to be there, and she needs everyone to be a team player and work together for the team.

In the end, Emma learns that it is important to be herself and not only go after what she wants, but to not be afraid of changing. She gains new friends on the volleyball team and she regains her friendship with Claire after they both realize that Hailey is a bad influence on both of them.

Spiked is a part of the Lorimer Sports Stories Series, and is for readers age 10-13. It is published by James Lorimer & Company Ltd. Publishers and is 117 pages long.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Call for Submissions- Briarpatch Magazine

*Help us out and share this widely*

* * *
Briarpatch is seeking submissions for our September/October issue. We are looking for feature articles, provocative essays, investigative reportage, interviews, profiles, reviews, humour, and photography rooted in an anti-colonial and anti-capitalist analysis. If you’ve got a story in mind, Briarpatch wants to hear your pitch!

Queries on any and all topics are welcome but we would like to highlight interest in:
  • visions of the future
  • youth un/employment | youth mental health | youth radicalism
  • racialized policing in Canada
  • critical perspectives on the politics of the guaranteed basic income and/or the welfare state
Queries are due May 8, 2015. If your query is accepted, first drafts will be due by June 10. Your query should outline what ground your contribution will cover, list the interviews you plan to do, give an estimated word count, and indicate your relevant experience or background in writing about the issue. If you would like insight into how to write a successful query, there is an example with explanations here. If you haven’t written for Briarpatch before, please provide a brief writing sample.

Please review Briarpatch's submission guidelines before sending your query to editor AT briarpatchmagazine DOT com.
Our standard rates of pay are as follows:
  • $50 – Profiles, short essays, parting shots (generally <1000 li="" words="">
  • $100 – Feature stories, photo essays
  • $150 – Research-based articles and investigative reportage (generally 1500-2500 words)
Briarpatch reserves the right to edit your work (with your active involvement) and cannot guarantee publication.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review: Rabbit Ears By Maggie DeVries


Book Review-Rabbit Ears
Written By: Maggie DeVries
Reviewed By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)

Rabbit Ears is a young adult novel inspired by the true story of one of Vancouver’s Missing women. It is told through the eyes of two young girls who are not only struggling to come into their own after losing their father but are also learning to deal with the loss, grief and change that comes with living in a one parent home.

Kaya, a 13-year-old girl carries a painful secret, a secret her older sister Beth believes involves a mysterious neighbourhood older man Mr. Grimbsy, who later kills himself. The secret Kaya holds inside is never really told, but the reader is left guessing.

The story is narrated between the two sisters Beth and Kaya. You can’t help but feel empathy for these two girls as you follow their distinctively different paths in how they deal with the things that come their way. Beth goes back in time to when her grade four teacher taught her magic card tricks and tries to master the tricks he has taught her a few years later, and turns to food for comfort.
Thrust into more responsibility around the house, Beth has to deal with her younger sister’s constant running away, and how her mom deals with all of it. She is made to grow up faster than she has to because her younger sister who is fighting her own demons decides that running away is one of the answers to dealing with the pain she feels inside.

Typical of a thirteen-year-old girl, Kaya doesn’t understand the impact she is making on her family by the decisions she is making and the reader feels the pain of her decisions on the rest of her family.

Kaya also turns to shoplifting, gets sent to juvenile detention, and gets into drugs and prostitution. It is while spending time on the Downtown Eastside, she is made to witness things no thirteen year old girl should encounter-her best friend being injected with drugs, encounters with older men who don’t care how old you are as long as you make them some money, and a sex worker Sarah, addicted to heroin who tries to save Kaya from herself and keep her safe from a terrifying new threat to the women on the streets. In the end, Sarah, goes missing herself.

Rabbit Ears is published by Harper Trophy Canada and is 222 pages. ISBN: 978-1-44341-662-7 and retails for $14.99.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Event Posting- Thursday April 2, 2015 @ 12 noon Ministry of Attorney General

Cindy Gladue was an Indigenous mother and 36 years old when she was murdered in an Edmonton motel room 4 years ago. Last week an all white and almost all male jury decided to acquit her killer, a white Ontario man, because they believed that Cindy had consented to the violence that left an 11 cm wound in her vagina causing her to bleed to death.
Cindy's death is a reminder that Indigenous women' lives and sex workers' lives are not valued in this deeply racist, sexist and misogynist society.

We support the calls for an appeal and other forms of justice!

Join us to express our outrage!

Endorsed by No More Silence STRUT, Maggies TO Families of Sisters in Spirit South Western Ontario Sex Workers

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Book Review- The Back of the Turtle By Thomas King

Review: The Back of the Turtle
Written By: Thomas King
Reviewed By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)

The Back of the Turtle is Thomas King’s first novel in 15 years and as usual he does not disappoint. He draws upon Native and Christian mythology in his book and his play of words is interesting and intriguing.

The plot of King’s novel moves back and forth in time, and is told through five points of view, and though sometimes it can be a bit difficult to follow, overall the story is an interesting one- one that draws upon not so much about creation but about betrayal, disaster, salvation and the resilience of life.

Gabriel Quinn is a scientist who works for a company called Domidion-a company that deals with various environmental developments and disasters. Just think of Monsanto or Exxon. Quinn feeling tortured by what the company does abandons his laboratory to return to Smoke River Reserve, where his mother and sister lived. He finds upon his return that almost everyone in the community has disappeared. They and the natural wildlife surrounding the reserve have been poisoned by an environmental disaster known as the Ruin.

Quinn is a tortured soul and wants to commit suicide. We learn the reason why he wants to end his life and it’s because he is responsible for the environmental disaster that hit his reserve, and he is there to witness the destruction he created and walk into the sea and die.

Upon his arrival at Samaritan Bay (the beach and waters where he attempts to take his life), Quinn finds the only signs of life are a stray dog named Soldier, an Indigenous artist Mara, a kid named Sonny who runs a dilapidated motel with an absentee father and an old man named Nicholas Crisp.

Quinn strikes up an unlikely relationship with Soldier and Mara and you learn to favor Quinn and Mara more than you would Dorian Asher, the CEO of Domidion, who is the villain in The Back of the Turtle. Asher is the type of person who becomes wealthy presiding over Domidion, the Ruin and other disasters, and he treats everything personal and corporate like they are deals with certain levels of priority to them. Oil spills, no big deal, tar sands disasters, who cares etc.

Mara and Gabriel are the characters I learned to like because they are more human and feel things on a deeper level than Dorian Asher. When you witness the interplay between Mara and Gabriel, you find yourself caught up in wondering where their relationship is going to go and what’s going to happen to them, especially when Gabriel has his off and on again wish to die.

King tells the story in The Back of the Turtle in his usual witty and mischievous way, just like in his books The Truth About Stories, A Short History of Indians in Canada and other works. King is one of those authors you want to read no matter what.

The Back of the Turtle is the winner of the 2014 Governor General’s Award and is published by Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. It is 518 pages.

ISBN: 978-1-44343-162-0

Event- Toronto Council Fire Bake Sale March 13, 2015

Some of Toronto Council Fire's  Residential School Survivors will be having a bake sale this Friday the 13th! All funds raised will be supporting their trip to the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico!

Come grab a treat and support this group!

Monday, March 9, 2015

News Flash: 1st Aboriginal Writer in Residence at North York Central Library- Award Winning Metis Author Cherie Dimaline!!

 Photo By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)

Award Winning Metis Author Inaugural Writer in Residence:
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)

The Toronto Public Library has made huge strides in celebrating Aboriginal writers  by appointing their 1st inaugural Aboriginal writer in residence at North York Central Library.

In the first appointment as a writer in residence, at the Toronto Public Library , awarding winning Metis author Cherie Dimaline says "It’s such a great opportunity to be the inaugural writer for the Aboriginal literature residency. I really see it as a tremendous beginning for a partnership between the Aboriginal literary community and the busiest library system in the world."

Cherie Dimaline is Metis from the Georgian Bay area. Since 2007, she has written prolifically, with three books under her belt and another collection of short stories called “A Gentle Habit” being released in the fall of 2015. She is the founding editor of FNH Magazine and Muskrat Magazine and is a rising star in the Aboriginal literary field. Cherie’s second book, “The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy,” was recently shortlisted for the 2014 Burt Award. and was named the 2014 Emerging Artist of the Year, the Ontario Premier ‘s Awards for Excellence in the Arts.

Her appointment as writer in residence runs from March 2015 until June 2015 and will involve the reading of manuscripts, one on one appointments with emerging writers, discussions and workshops.

Deborah Richardson, the province’s first Indigenous female Deputy Minister who was at the event said “Media often portrays First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in a negative light and it’s really important to celebrate the successes of our people, and that is one of the reasons why it is really exciting to see Cherie’s appointment or residency here at the library. ”

Dimaline is excited about her appointment and said "We are the people of story and the library, in this context, is the keeper of stories for the wider population. I think its a tremendous gift to the people of Toronto for the library to dedicate a residency program where Lee Maracle, Susan Blight, Giles Benaway and other incredible storytellers are involved. It opens up the beauty and expertise of Indigenous story to a whole multicultural city."