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Pictou County writers to publish Canadian anthology

The cover art for the Where Pines and Maples Grow – an anthology of Canadian stories written by local authors in Pictou County.
The cover art for the Where Pines and Maples Grow – an anthology of Canadian stories written by local authors in Pictou County.

Carolyn MacIsaac is no stranger to writing – she has been doing it since she was in Grade 7.

The first time she formally put her writing out into the world was when she published a series of journal entries documenting her family’s struggles in Ontario, when her son was diagnosed with leukemia.

MacIsaac will be releasing more of her writing. She, and a circle of eight local writers –including Donna Belanger, Ray Burns, Sarah Butland, Nancy Larsen, C.G. Mann, Heather Mackenzie and Bonnie Rose – have created an anthology to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday that will soon be released.

With the help of Advocate Publishing in Pictou, the authors, who call themselves Write Intentions, have created Where Pines and Maples Grow – an anthology that documents life with a quintessentially Canadian twist.

When asked what inspired the idea of an anthology, MacIsaac said the idea came when she and her fellow authors decided they wanted to do something to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. They were inspired by the lyrics of the original version of the national anthem, which alludes to the trees of Canada, with the line, “…where pines and maples grow.”
That line ended up inspiring a series of unique stories, ranging from a tale about the Ship Hector’s landing in Pictou to more far-flung tales set in other provinces. The “common thread” that runs through the entirety of the anthology and its tales is the Canadian maple leaf. The maple leaf serves as the simple, recurrent unifying theme for all the stories.

“It’s got a Canadian theme, so there’s a maple leaf in each (story),” said MacIsaac. “It’s a common thing running through each story. Whether it’s the story about maple sugar or someone sitting under a maple tree, you’ll find the maple leaf mentioned in every story.”
Most of the stories in the anthology are around 1,500 words, and MacIsaac noted that in the case of a few of the stories, they were already written and just needed to be tweaked to reference the maple leaf to fit in with the anthology’s theme.

“Some of us wrote our stories in a week or two – but the editing took forever,” said MacIsaac.
It was MacIsaac whose responsibility entailed finding a publisher. She knew that if the anthology was to be published before the end of 2017, she had to move fast – and that working with out of country publishers would not be a practical approach.

“We knew we didn’t have much time. I looked at online publishing companies – we wanted someone local, since the book was local and the theme was Canada,” said MacIsaac. “Advocate in Pictou was the obvious choice, since it was so close. We were looking at online companies, but those were in the States – and it was important for us to have that local name behind our work.”

The anthology will be released on Oct. 14 – which also happens to be Indie Author Day at the Pictou and New Glasgow libraries. The anthology will be available for $11.50 – another nod to Canada’s 150th anniversary.

During the launch, a couple of the authors of Write Intentions will be present to read some of the stories from the anthology, from 2 to 4 p.m. – at both the Pictou and New Glasgow libraries.

Looking forward, MacIsaac said she is already working on a book about her father – a British home child – work that includes editing, corrections and consultations with a publisher.

“It takes a long time to do corrections,” noted MacIsaac, who said there are plenty of potential distractions and roadblocks to writing books. “It’s easy to get sidetracked – it usually takes two to three years to get a book finished, if you have a life, and you’re not working all day, every day on a book,” said MacIsaac.

MacIsaac said that this winter the book about her father’s life emigrating to Canada and working is going to be her primary focus, adding, “I know I’m going to keep writing – we all will.”

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