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This virtual event will take place Wednesday, November 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. The online event will give you a chance to get to know the more than 20 authors taking part as they talk about the books they have for sale. You’ll have all the fun of attending a book fair and none of the worry about social-distancing.

Keep checking back for updates as we add more authors to the list

Barrie Doyle

Musick for the King

The incredible true story of George Frederick Handel’s struggle to compose and produce The Messiah becomes entertaining and powerful novel. 


Robert White

Christmas With Hot Apple Cider


Christmas with Hot Apple Cider: Stories from the Season of Giving and Receiving is an eclectic collection of true stories, short fiction, and poetry that features the short story “No Room?”


Ann-Margret Hovsepian

Restore My Soul: A Coloring Book Devotional Journey

Devotional (or Colouring Books)

Restore My Soul is a beautiful, interactive devotional designed to celebrate our unique creativity and connect us with the ultimate Creator. Find refreshment in short reflections on Scripture and be inspired as you color accompanying intricate illustrations created for meditation and prayer. Both contemplative and imaginative, Restore My Soul is the perfect space for the artist in us all. /


Josh Tiessen

Josh Tiessen: A Decade of Inspiration

Hardcover coffee table art monograph

The story and art of Josh Tiessen, the only known male art prodigy in North America, are presented for the first time in this 200-page hardcover coffee table monograph, featuring over 60 full-colour original works of art and their accompanying stories, which reflect Tiessen’s love for God’s creation. With design and layout by Tiessen, the book itself is a beautiful keepsake and makes a great gift for artists, art-lovers, and anyone interested in a story of finding artistic inspiration amidst adversity. /


Janis Cox

Tadeo Turtle

Children from birth to 7

Tadeo (TAHD-ay-OH) Turtle longs to be different. Through an adventure find out how Tadeo learns to accept how God created him. There are activities in the back of the book and more activities on the author’s website: Children need to know they are special. Tadeo helps them see clearly that they were created perfectly just how they are made. Watercolour pictures by the author.


Ruth Smith Meyer

Chains of Shame


Chains of Shame, tackles a very sensitive, largely ignored subject matter of husband abuse with great sensitivity and empathy.  Abuse is a fact, and children who are the victims of abuse often become abusers in adulthood or continue to be victims. Ben’s and Alma’s reactions to their childhood ill-treatment takes them in different directions and results in a dysfunctional family. smithmeyerbooks@gmail   Smith Meyer Books on facebook


Janet Sketchley

Tenacity at Christmas: 31 Daily Devotions for December

Nonfiction: Christmas Devotional Book

Need a little daily encouragement this December? Give yourself five minutes and pour a cup of your favourite hot beverage. Let’s read a Bible verse or two and remind ourselves of the Reason for the Season. In your busyness and life circumstances, good or bad…In your relationships, sweet or strained…These short, uplifting readings will strengthen your spirit and inspire your heart. May this Christmas season bring at least one new treasured memory, and may you be blessed to be a blessing. Available in ebook and print. Print version includes prayer journal pages.


LD Stauth

Snowsqualls and Missing Elves (Lighthouse Landing Trilogy #3)

Mystery/Romantic Suspense

From the moment Coral Prescott encountered the agitated man, warning bells dinged. Why wouldn’t Officer Luke Degroot trust her intuitions? Compelled by an inner urging, Coral set out to search for the missing elves in a twenty-thousand-acre swamp … alone … and weaponless. Fear clawed it’s way up Detective Jace Kelly’s throat. Why had she taken such a foolhardy risk? Darkness closing in and bad weather hampering, Jace was frantic to locate Coral and the missing twins. Was the swamp truly haunted as his partner Luke feared? If something happened to Coral, Jace didn’t know how he’d ever survive. / / /


Ruth L. Snyder

Equipped: Ephesians 6 Devotionals to Empower and Make You Victorious in Everyday Struggles

Adult Devotional

Is spiritual warfare real?  Are you aware of how you’re being attacked? If so, what can you do about it? Equipped takes a detailed look at God, at our enemy, and at our response. Everyday struggles happen, but you can be victorious. In Africa, people believe in spirit beings. Witch doctors cast spells. People dance barefoot over red-hot coals without being burned. Spiritual warfare is obvious. In other cultures, the spiritual battle is not so evident. Still, it is very real. Homes are divided by discord and divorce. Parents are overly busy. Children are lured into drugs and sex-trafficking. Churches are complacent and powerless. Is there hope? Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). What’s stopping you from living life to the full? Read Equipped. Become aware. Put on your spiritual armour as described in Ephesians six. Stand firm. Pray. /


Angela C Charles

When God is Silent 


Naomi Sullivan has all the visible trappings of success, but her life is a mess. As a wife and mother, she tries to navigate her way through the storms that threaten to overwhelm and plunge her into darkness.  Her husband, Peter, a successful lawyer, is dealing with the consequences of a temporary lapse in judgement. Their only hope for happiness is to find a way to heal the rift and mend the marriage. As Naomi faces one tragic event after another, instead of leaning more on God, she pulls further and further away, to the point of despair. Will Naomi learn to forgive? Will she renew her faith and find hope for tomorrow?  When God is Silent is a passionate story of redemption, forgiveness, hope and second chances. /


Laurie Haughton

Through the Lens of Motherhood


It wasn’t supposed to unfold this way. Raising kinds was to be all about playdates at the park, kitchen-table crafts, with the odd scraped knee and late-night stomach flu posing the greatest threat. It was to be a great adventure, not a terrifying ordeal. In a daily battle on the frontlines for the life of her son, Laurie Haughton faces a parent’s worst nightmare: a critically ill child. Expecting their first child and dreaming of the future, Laurie and her husband Tim were stopped in their tracks when a 20 week ultra sound and fetal echocardiogram revealed that their son had a rare complex congenital heart defect that made survival unlikely.  Trusting in God and committing young Joshua to him, they continue the pregnancy and, after Joshua’s arrival, walked through multiple surgeries and terrifying moments. Through her blog and in these pages, Laurie transparently shares the raw anger, fragile hope, and crushing disappointment that were her constant companions for years. She shares her journey in a way that is real, hard-hitting, inspiring and even humorous. Readers will witness faithfulness of God in the lives of his servants as they continually bring their hearts to him. A story that acknowledges the lack of easy answers yet the presence of God in their lives. Through the Lens of Motherhood will touch lives, inspire faith, and encourage understanding of those who walk through some of life’s darkest valley’s.


Eunice Cooper-Matchett

Behind Her Name

Christian Fiction

Pain from a beating ebbs in days, but emotional abuse lingers a lifetime. In a few short years, Sage Bush become a best-selling author, traveled the world, and built the home she’d dreamed of owning all her life. But in one moment at a book signing event, three teenagers unknowingly sent her world on a one-way collision course. Physical and emotional wounds from an abusive parent and the bulling she’d suffered in school she’d safely hidden in a vault somewhere in her subconscious broke loose, threatening her life as she knew it until one of her worst teenage tormentors helped her find healing.


Glynis M Belec

Jesus Loves Me When I Dance

Juvenile Picture Book

The sweetness and innocence of childhood echoes throughout the precious photo illustrations and the gentle rhythm of JESUS LOVES ME WHEN I DANCE. Turn each page and celebrate Jesus through the eyes of a child. Whether in stripy socks, boots or shoes with ‘Jesus love’ we’ll never lose!


Sally Meadows

Beneath That Star

Children’s Picture Book ages 5-9

Saray longs to be a shepherd just like her three older brothers. But when God speaks to her in a dream to look out for and follow the bright star, what she finds underneath it is of far greater value than anything she could ever have imagined. An uplifting story for all ages about obedience, patience, trust, healing, and above all, God’s immeasurable love for each one of us. For more of Sally’s award-winning/nominated children’s books, visit


Tandy Balson

Another Perspective

Creative Non-Fiction, Inspirational Adult

“Tandy is a master at turning the everyday into an inspiration in such a relatable way. In this book she shares from her own personal experiences in a way that is open and vulnerable, as well as captivating and motivational. She has a gift for finding a nugget of wisdom in each experience. This is a book that can be read many times, as its lessons will continue to unfold with each reading.” /


Lynne Collier

Abundant Life – If you see it does it exist?

Christian Suspense

Maddie wants nothing more than a quiet, peaceful life in her small Canadian town but her husband is getting bored with his early retirement and searches for a project that will pocket him a few extra dollars for a trip abroad. He accepts an invitation from a newcomer to the church who has been talking about an innovative business opportunity. When Maddie gets drawn into the marketing group, she begins to see things which shouldn’t be happening and fears she may be losing her mind but others suspect it may be something much worse. /


Grace Wulff

Words of Faith to Live By


This little spiral-bound book is designed to be a devotional guide, to reflect, to pray, to journal, even to colour! It began as a monthly resource for a support group for women with cancer, but I soon realized that it could be shared with many. I have found it helpful to pick a word for each year, and reflect on that word throughout the year. This devotional guide breaks it down to 12 words: a word for each month, or you could dwell on a word each day, if you choose. There are verses for each word, and I like to choose a verse each week to think about. However you use this resource, my prayer is that it will encourage you and be a reminder of God’s faithful words to each of us.


Sara Davison

Lost Down Deep, book one of The Rose Tattoo Trilogy

Inspirational Romantic Suspense

BCC: She is the only one who can tell the police who attacked her in her home. If only she could remember …Summer Velasquez is on the run from a man she has no recollection of after an attack she can’t recall. Every face in the crowd is a potential suspect, so how is Summer supposed to know who is a threat to her and who isn’t? After fleeing her assailant and the parents who lied to her about what happened, she changes her name and seeks refuge in Elora, Ontario. The small town feels familiar, although she has no memory of ever having been here. Even in what should be a safe place, she can’t shake the feeling that she is being watched. When Ryan Taylor strolls into the Taste of Heaven Café where she works, Summer is immediately drawn to him. However, he may not be who he says he is either. As her suspicions grow, Summer prepares to run again. But at least one person is determined to stop her. Permanently. And if she can’t remember who he is, this time he may succeed.


Barbara Heagy

10 – A Story of Love, Life, and Loss

Inspirational memoir/cancer journey/love story

10 – A Story of Love, Life, and Loss is the true story of a couple in midlife who found each other and then, after receiving a cancer diagnosis, learned to face losing each other. Their story is a reminder to all of us to live life with gratitude and zest, fulfilling all our hearts’ desires in the time we are given. /


Donna Mann

Discover your Story: Family History or Memoir

Non-fiction, 12 and up

Are you wanting to discover a story? Whether you’re looking deep within your memory or considering someone’s life – you will find your way in this book. /  / 


Carolyn R. Wilker

Sophie and the Giant Boy

Picture book for children, age 3-7

Sophie’s biggest thrill is to swing as high as she can and let her imagination fly! When a giant boy tumbles into her back yard, she is neither imagining it nor is she afraid. Instead she is glad to find a friend. The fun begins when Sophie does what she can to to help the giant boy who is lost, hungry and tired.  /


Susan Harris

Touched By Eternity: A True Story of Heaven, Healing, and Angels.


Most people have to imagine what Heaven would be like. Susan Harris doesn’t have to imagine. She knows. Not once, not twice, but three times she has entered the other life, and came back to tell about it.

On October 16th, 1998, at thirteen weeks pregnant Susan collapsed in her doctor’s office. Immediately she found herself walking on green grass in Heaven. On November 3rd, 2015 while in hospital she tunneled up to Eternity and witnessed divine mysteries of God. On June 24th, 2017, in the aftermath of dental surgery she is rendered unconscious and crosses to the other side as Jesus, the Light of the World, approached her. 

Touched By Eternity invites readers into the dramatic and awe-inspiring accounts of Susan’s miraculous healings— two of which occurred in Heaven—visions, including one of Hell, and encounters with angels. Together with the insights she received from her visits, the reader is lifted on a faith-filled and inspirational journey as none other recorded. This book will bring hope to the broken, challenge skeptics, and enthrall believers. A must read for anyone longing to know more of the life that awaits us. /


Marcia Lee Laycock

Christmas and Love in the Room

Short stories and Devotionals

Love in the Room, is a collection of 30 devotionals centred on the Christmas theme, plus 2 pieces that deal with looking forward to the New Year. Most are reflections on my own experiences, like a story about the time my son-in-law put a specific set of baseball cards on his Christmas wish list. Or the time God and I had a conversation in my car as I drove home after sitting at a Christmas market where I sold only two books.
Christmas is a collection of 4 short stories, which have also appeared in various publications. Two of these stories, which are set in the far north, in Dawson City, Yukon, have won awards from the Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. These are 2 slim little books that can easily fit into a Christmas stocking, like this one. They’d make great gifts for the readers on your list this year. /

The latest, but hopefully not the last, of the Oak Grove Conspiracies series


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As Micheal Corleone said, in The Godfather: Part III, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”

In The Prince Madoc Secret, book three of the Oak Grove Conspiracies series by Barrie Doyle, just as journalist Stone Wallace and the historian father-daughter team of Huw and Mandy Griffiths think they’ve rid themselves and the world of the Druids, they discover otherwise.

Two deaths set the stage for the rest of the book’s events: the successful assassination of a key political figure in Wyoming and an unsuccessful attempt on Wallace in London, England. And, while seeming unrelated, Wallace and the Griffiths are offered an assignment from the BBC to produce a documentary about a long-forgotten Welsh royal, Prince Madoc. Research into the prince, who supposedly discovered America before Christopher Columbus, leads the trio to discover a Druid plot behind Prince Madoc’s disappearance and their current circumstances.

Author Barrie Doyle has the ability to surprise the reader with unexpected twists and turns.

As with each of the books in the Oak Grove Conspiracies, once the Druids are involved, danger, seen and unseen, abounds. Doyle is one of the best action adventure writers there is. I agree with the the reviewer compared him favorably to Tom Clancy (creator of the Jack Ryan stories): Doyle has the ability to draw a reader into the plot, cheer for the heroes and hiss at the villains. He has the ability to surprise the reader with unexpected twists and turns. As cliched as it may sound, The Prince Madoc Secret is a page-turning, keep-you-up-at-night novel that you just have to keep reading until you’re finished.

The Prince Madoc Secret can be read as a stand-alone adventure, but it really helps to have read the other books in the series: The Excalibur Parchment and The Lucifer Scroll. The background of the previous Druid plots isn’t essential because Doyle fills in gaps, but if you enjoyed The Prince Madoc Secret, you’ll want to find out what happened before.

When I interviewed Doyle at the release of The Excalibur Parchment, he said he planned on a trilogy. With this third book, and a few cryptic curves thrown in, I’m hoping for a fourth installment…and maybe even more. As a fan, I say let the Oak Grove Conspiracies adventures continue.

Hope on the “Road to Dawn”


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Growing up about 30 minutes from Dresden, Ont., visiting the Uncle Tom’s Cabin historic site in high school, and reading a long-lost copy of The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself, I thought I had a good grasp on the story of this former slave and, as the subtitle states, “the story that sparked the Civil War.”

Then I read The Road to Dawn by Jared A. Brock where I discovered there was more to Henson’s story than I’d grew up believing.

Brock’s interest in Henson began when he bought his wife a book she said she’d wanted to read: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“She read it, and was moved by it, and I decided to do a little more research…I was surprised to discover that her novel was based on the life of a real man named Josiah Henson,” writes Brock, who made his own visit to Henson’s Canadian home. He also began extensively researching Henson’s life. (A side note: Brock and co-author Aaron Alford shared a precis of Henson’s story in the book Bearded Gospel Men.)

I discovered there was more to Josiah Henson’s story than I grew up believing

Brock starts with the well-known story of Henson, who grew up as a slave in Maryland and, due to a natural intelligence, became a trusted overseer for his master, Isaac Riley. This trust led to Henson being chosen to lead a group of slaves to the plantation of Riley’s brother in Kentucky.Yet, for all this trust and goodwill, Henson is mistreated and cheated. When he finds out his new master plans sell Henson’s family separately, he decides to escape to Canada and freedom.

Throughout Henson’s story, Brock doesn’t shy away from describing the brutality of slavery and notes how even those who showed kindness to their slaves still found their compassion restricted by an oppressive and pervasive system. After Henson arrives in Canada, Brock shows how Henson’s trusting nature is frequently taken advantage of as he tries to establish a self-supporting community for escaped slaves.

This is where I discovered more about Henson’s life. At the Dawn settlement, the community near Dresden he founded (and is buried), Henson endures the self-serving machinations of (sometimes) well-meaning abolitionists and an onslaught of attacks by fellow escapees who disagreed with his methods. Brock shows that, along with his tendency to be to trusting, much of Henson’s problems came from his lack of a formal education and financial acumen, which weren’t uncommon for slaves. What I found surprising were the unfounded accusations that Henson was profiting from both the Dawn settlement and the separate British-American Institute (BAI) training school.

While packed with facts about Henson, slavery, pre-Civil War American society, pre- and post-Confederation Canada, The Road to Dawn reads like a novel, not history book. The style keeps the reader engaged and wanting more, and his footnotes provide a good trail of books and documents about these topics for further reading. I only wish, especially when trying to follow the trail of the trials around Dawn and the BAI, there was a list of key players available for reference.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin sounded a call against slavery that led to the Civil War. In The Road to Dawn, Brock provides a clarion call to remedy the effects of racism and slavery that exist 135 years after Henson’s death. He calls for, among a list of items, a change in name of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic site to the Josiah Henson National Historic Site, a National Underground Railway Museum and financial reparations by Canada, Britain and the United States.

One point Brock made, “we have yet to see a person of color adorn our currency,” has been fulfilled with the 2018 release of the $10 bill featuring Nova Scotia civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond. Perhaps there still is hope on The Road to Dawn.

“The Watched” – a refreshing take on traditional fantasy themes


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Charles Dickens. Arthur Conan Doyle. Murray Pura. Lisa Hall-Wilson.

This is a short list of authors who began novels as a serialization. For Lisa Hall-Wilson publishing her novel The Watched as an on-line serial was a matter of reclaiming a work she felt strongly about, but couldn’t find a home among traditional publishers. To paraphrase Larry Norman’s famous line, her novel was too worldly for Christians and too Christian for the world.

In The Watched Hall-Wilson creates a fantasy world in which good and evil are personified and belief in a omnipotent, omnipresent and all-loving God had been reduced to a small handful of faithful followers. Complete with its own language (for which she has thoughtfully included a glossary), the novel tells the story of Edric and his task to save Aralyn, whose gift of prophecy marks her as her race’s last hope.

From the first paragraph the reader is immediately transported into Hall-Wilson’s world and is riveted by the events which unfolds.

I’ve been a sci-fi/fantasy reader since my teens and The Watched was a refreshing take on an old theme. The world Hall-Wilson creates is as real as C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth or Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Land. From the first paragraph the reader is immediately transported into Hall-Wilson’s world and is riveted by the events which unfolds.

Into this world Hall-Wilson places characters the reader soon identifies with and cares about: Edric, the doubting protector; Aralyn the young prophetess who’s looking for love; and Barric, her father who is wracked with guilt. Each must overcome their own faults and failings as they strive to reach their homeland while staving off a relentless enemy.

The serialized format of The Watched over the space of three-plus months, led to short chapters (at a guess, averaging between 700 to 1,000 words per installment). This led to the novel’s one weakness: truncated narrative and character development questions. Either a longer serialization or longer chapters would have allowed Hall-Wilson: 1) to further build the novel’s universe by creating fuller word pictures; and 2) more fully develop the characters by adding more backstory. Hopefully this will be taken care of in subsequent sequel(s).

Cudos to Lisa Hall-Wilson for persevering and finding a way to get The Watched into the hands of readers. The result is well-worth reading.

Clarification: Lisa Hall-Wilson sent the following to me via Facebook: “I didn’t create the ‘old language’ used in the book. I took a class in etymology in university and studied Old English (pre 1066) so that’s the language I use.” My apologies and thank you for the clarification.


For more information about Lisa Hall-Wilson and The Watched check:

To listen to an Art Connection interview where Lisa Hall-Wilson talks about The Watched check:

“Shelter Me” – everything you’d expect from two seasoned performers


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When I first heard Hamilton, Ont. guitarist/singer/songwriter Jacob Moon was teaming up with Niagara region keyboardist/singer/songwriter Joel Parisien I was excited about the prospect.

Moon uses looping technology to sound like a one-man band. The video of his cover of Rush’s “Subdivisions” has over half a million hits on YouTube and garnered praise from the trio itself. Parisien had fronted Newworldson, whose CD Rebel Transmission earned four 2012 Covenant Awards including Folk/Roots Album of the Year.

Juggling performance schedules and other projects, the pair performed as the yet-to-be-named band at last year’s Supercrawl in Hamilton, found time to begin recording and started releasing videos of the work in progress. By the end of 2016, The Commissionaires were launched and the band’s debut CD Shelter Me was released.

Shelter Me is everything you’d expect from a band fronted by two seasoned performers

Shelter Me is everything you’d expect from a band fronted by two seasoned performers who have surrounded themselves with solid backup musicians. The CD’s eight songs are a showcase of rhythm and blues/soul/gospel songs from traditional classics like “His Eye is On the Sparrow” to Stevie Wonder’s 1970 hit “Heaven Help Us All.”

Parisien has earned the nickname “Soul Joel” for a reason. While researching some of the tracks on the CD, I happened to come across a YouTube video of singer/songwriter Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free.” Listening to it and then the Commissionaires version back-to-back, I found little difference between the two vocalists.

Two tracks stand out for me:

“None of Us are Free,” an R&B song first recorded by Ray Charles in 1993 which was also covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1997 and Solomon Burke in 2002 (with the Blind Boys of Alabama providing backing vocals).

The title track “Shelter Me” is a perfect opening to the CD showcasing both Moon’s guitar, Parisien’s keyboard and both of their vocals in solo and harmony sections.

I grew up listening to R&B giants like Earth, Wind & Fire, the Commodores, Chicago (all before the days of disco and pop popularity) and, of course, the Blues Brothers who reminded us of the power of the blues and R&B. Listening to Shelter Me takes me back to those days. The only thing that could be added to make the Commissionaires’ debut CD better than it already is, is a horn section.

I’ve always said the sign of a well-produced CD is the number of times I play it. With the Commissionaires Shelter Me, I’ve lost track.


For more information about the Commissionaires and Shelter Me check

For an Arts Connection interview where Jacob Moon talks about the Commissionaires check

Two new books to get your year started right


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Two books crossed my desk last year I thought would make great start to 2017.

As The Ink Flows: Devotions to Inspire Christian Writers & Speakers is a compilation by five writers who connected with each other through The Word Guild: Glenda Dekkema, Melony Teague, Carol Ford, Claudia Loopstra and Marguerite Cummings.

A finely crafted book, As the Ink Flows comprises 90 devotions which touch on every aspect of a writer’s or speaker’s life in a variety of categories: The Craft (with the most devotions), Inspiration, Know Yourself, Well-Being, Personalities and Faithfulness.

Each devotion follows the traditional format: scripture, devotional, prayer. Then As the Ink Flows adds a unique twist: at least two writing prompts. Instead of just giving the reader something to think about, it encourages them write about what they read. Not only do they read the word, they’re given ways to act upon it.

The book works for both experienced and new writers/speakers. For veterans, some of devotions (including the prompts) will be a reminder and refresher of lessons learned long ago. For newer writers the book will help them grow in their craft, identity and calling as a writer.

Two books crossed my desk last year I thought would make great start to 2017

Elma Schemenauer’s YesterCanada: Historical Tales of Mystery and Adventure will get you in the mood to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial.

I’m a Canadian history buff and expected to have read most of the stories in this book. I was surprised to find there were probably less than half a dozen stories that I’d read before. The majority of the 30 tales were tidbits of Canadian history I wasn’t aware of and I thoroughly enjoyed reading them.

The stories are quick reads but packed with a lot of information. If there was one shortcoming to YesterCanada it’s the shifting of viewpoints from one story to the next. Some were written from a first-person perspective, others from a third-person perspective. I found the switching back and forth somewhat off-putting and, at times, confusing. I would have preferred if Schemenauer had chosen one point-of-view and stuck with it.

That said, YesterCanada is well worth reading to find out more about this great land of ours that turns 150 this year.


For more information on As the Ink Flows check

To listen to an Arts Connection interview with As the Ink Flows contributor Melony Teague, check:

For more information on Elma Schemenauer and YesterCanada check

To listen to an Arts Connection interview with Elma Schemenauer check

Latest Steve Bell CD a treat for the ears and food for the soul


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The first thing that hit me, when I listened to Steve Bell’s Where the Good Way Lies for the first time, was a warmth to the sound that I hadn’t heard for a long time.

I grew up listening to music recorded, edited and mixed using 2″ reel-to-reel tapes. There was always a warmth to those records which has yet to be replicated by today’s digital technology.

For Where the Good Way Lies, Bell and his fellow producers Murray Pulver and Dave Zeglinski pulled out, refurbished and used Signpost studio’s now “ancient” analog equipment. The result is a CD which is a treat for the ears.

But Where the Good Way Lies is more than an aural treat. Bell is a master craftsman when it comes to songwriting and his lyrics are food for the soul.

While much of Bell’s music falls within the folk/roots category, the CD takes a few musical chances

Where the Good Way Lies opens with “Bring It On,” co-written by Murray Pulver which includes verses like “Fumbling forward on the way/Why regret, just journey on/In the end it’s all okay/Bring it on, bring it on.” The song’s lyrics affirm Bell’s comment in the CD’s notes: “We wanted to write something lighthearted to celebrate the wide swath of extreme weather that is the Canadian experience, as it mirrors the bracing depth and complexity of our lives.”

Bell finds inspiration in everything from the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation isolation (“Freedom Road”), the Church calendar (“Bethany in the Morning” and “Ash Wednesday”) and the words of Robert Louis Stevenson and N.T. Wright (“Let Beauty Awake.”)

While much of Bell’s music falls generally within the folk/roots category, the CD takes a few musical chances. “Bring It On” has a more upbeat vibe than some of his latest works. Adding to the enjoyment of this song are the trumpet parts, played by Bell (who was well on his way to being a jazz trumpet player before turning to guitar). Listeners will hear the influences of bands like Chicago, Lighthouse and the Tower of Power in the trumpet arrangements in both this song and elsewhere on the CD.

Another surprise is the title track, “Where the Good Way Lies,” which combines the stylings of First Nations vocalist Co-Co Ray Stevens and rap artist Fresh IE in a jazzy little number that takes some of its lyrical influence from a “hand-stitched quilt…that memorializes the seven sacred teachings of Indigenous wisdom.”

Where the Good Way Lies successfully straddles that dangerous ground between providing the music fans look forward to and recording music that stretches the artist’s creative muscles. And that makes it worth listening to over and over and over…


For more information on Steve Bell and the Where the Good Way Lies CD check:

To listen to the Arts Connection interview where Steve Bell talks about recording of Where the Good Way Lies check:

Top 2016 posts feature artists, musicians, playwrights and authors


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This past year has been a busy year for Christians in the arts, complete with new works by new artists to new works by veteran artists. My personal favourites include: Faye Hall’s ART begets ART (which combined text and art), Mike Janzen’s Nudging Forever CD, Lost & Found Theatre’s production of Pocket Rocket, Barrie Doyle’s latest novel The Lucifer Scroll, the debut of the CBC comedy series Kim’s Convenience base on Ins Choi’s award-winning stage play and artist Josh Tiessen’s first monograph: Josh Tiessen: A Decade of Inspiration.

While these posts were my favourites, a few others gained the attention of my readers and became their favourites. So, in chronological order, here are the top read Arts Connection blog posts of 2016:

February 9, 2016

More “Hot Apple Cider” to warm the soul

Like a cup of hot apple cider warming the body on a cold day, the Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon anthology will warm the soul.

The fourth in the Hot Apple Cider series, the latest volume contains 67 stories – some true, some fiction and a few are poems – all based around the theme, and subtitle, of “finding love in unexpected places…


February 17, 2016

Artist’s book a visual look at her inspirations

When interviewing artists for the Arts Connection radio show, I usually ask them “where do you get the inspiration for your art?”

Winnipeg-based artist Faye Hall’s new book ART begets ART is a 40-page answer to that question….


March 15, 2016

Film will move viewers close enough to hear God breathe

With the words “We waited until the last of my children arrived before taking my father off of life support…” Jason Hildebrand’s portrayal and Mike Janzen’s piano breathe life into Greg Paul’s words in Breathe…

Breathe… is a film version of the stage play co-created by Hildebrand and Tom Carson with music by Janzen. Inspired by Paul’s award-winning book, Close Enough to Hear God Breathe, the play explores the “story of a man who never heard ‘I love you’ from his father, searching through the characters of his life to find – ‘I love you’.”…


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Singer/songwriter Ali Matthews plumbs the depth of her spiritual experience for new CD

“I have travelled this road/I have wrestled these fears/I have carried this load/And cried a sea full of tears/Though I may rise, though I may fall/You are my hope, You are my all/Forever this be my song and my story/To God be all of the glory.”

With those touching words, and equally touching keyboard backing, Ali Matthews opens her latest CD: So Shall We Love: Songs of Worship and Faith


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Young artist chronicles a decade of work

Artist Josh Tiessen has packed more into his 21 years than some of us have packed into two, three or four times as many.

The Stoney Creek, Ontario resident was born in Russia to missionary parents, moved to Canada and has traveled internationally…


Young artist chronicles a decade of work


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josh-tiessen-a-decade-of-inspiration-coverArtist Josh Tiessen has packed more into his 21 years than some of us have packed into two, three or four times as many.

The Stoney Creek, Ontario resident was born in Russia to missionary parents, moved to Canada and has traveled internationally.

He began creating art as a pre-schooler under the tutelage of his Russian nanny. After moving to Canada, Tiessen, mentored by a retired wildlife and pet portrait artist, created his first significant wildlife work at 10: a chalk portrait of Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A year later, “Aslan” and other works were displayed the Artway on Two in Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital.

Tiessen how has a decade of exhibitions under his belt, along with a number of national and international accolades: at 15 he was mentored by esteemed Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman in a Master Artist Seminar, at 17 he was the youngest person juried into the International Guild of Realism (IGOR) and at 19 received IGOR’s “Creative Achievement Award.” With these accomplishments and a number of requests from friends and fans, Tiessen has put together and published his first monograph: Josh Tiessen: A Decade of Inspiration.

Josh Tiessen hopes people looking at his art will feel the sense of ‘wonder and awesomeness’ that is in the natural world all around us

About half of the book is an intimate and detailed biography which includes family photos, samples of his early work (including “Aslan”) and photos of Tiessen working at his craft or out in public. While someone might think this would be self-indulgent for a 21 year old, in Tiessens case it isn’t. I’ve had the chance to interview Tiessen on a number of occasions and reading through the book found myself learning even more about his life than I had in the interviews. By the time you’re finished reading these chapters, you find yourself amazed by a competent, intelligent and professional young artist.

The second half of the book chronicles Tiessen’s art from some of his early still life images, beginning wildlife paintings (his specialty) to his latest works which combine realism, fantasy and metaphor. Tiessen accompanies each image with a note about it’s development and, in many cases, the spiritual meaning that can be drawn from it. As he states at one point in the biography:

“Although Josh’s art is not necessarily religious in subject matter, he tries to illustrate the beauty and diversity of creation and the image of God in human creativity. He sees his artistic ability as a gift from God. As a contemporary artist in the 21st century, he would like to be a positive and uplifting presence in the art world. Josh says that he hopes people looking at his art will feel the sense of ‘wonder and awesomeness’ that is in the natural world all around us.

As he begins each painting Josh prays, asking God to work through the process. As a result, just like the little penguin family, metaphorical and spiritual meaning seem to be infused into his paintings and people often comment on the analogies they draw from them.”

While I only had a chance to view an electronic version of Josh Tiessen: A Decade of Excellence, I can only imagine what the print product will look like. I’ve watched, through social media and his e-mail newsletters, the progress of some of Josh’s works. This monograph is a fitting tribute to the life of a young artist who has just begun a lifelong journey.


For more about Josh Tiessen and A Decade of Excellence go to

To listen to the latest Arts Connection interview with Josh Tiessen, go to



The Honour Drum: a children’s book with a grown-up message


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the-honour-drum-cover-tn-jspIn the first two books of the Compassion Series, author Tim Huff looked at homelessness and the disabled. The third book in the series, The Honour Drum, explores Indigenous peoples’ issues and was co-authored with speaker, teacher and singer/songwriter Cheryl Bear.

The pairing of Huff and Bear is neither inconsequential nor accidental. In the introduction they write of their shared values of home, the Creator’s goodness and Canada’s beauty and diversity, but note that:

“The history of our lineages surely tells a different story. The sacred bloodline of an Indigenous woman from Canada’s west coast and the branches of a Toronto-born Anglo-Canadian man’s family tree cross at complex intersections. Canada at-large knows this uneasy kind of reality from east to west, north to south, only too well.”

Out of these shared values and complex intersections, though, comes a beautiful book that uses images, story, commentary and discussion questions to, as the subtitle states, share “the beauty of Canada’s Indigenous People with Children, Families and Classrooms.”

The Honour Drum hits shelves at a critical time in the relationship between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The Honour Drum hits shelves at a critical time in the relationship between Canada’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. Events over the past few years – the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the establishment of the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and a renewed focus, thanks in part to Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, on the residential school abuse and runaways issues – have brought the themes presented in The Honour Drum to the forefront of Canadians’ minds.

While classified and promoted as a children’s book, The Honour Drum reaches people of all ages. As Bear and Huff explain in a note to parents and teachers, the book can be approached on a number of levels. An initial reading of the rhyming stanza, accompanied by Huff’s inspired illustrations, introduces the book’s content and themes.

An understanding of the book’s themes is enhanced by the discussion guide and questions which provide depth and context to each stanza. For example, in the discussion guide accompanying the stanza “Pow Wow is a time to gather and meet/To sing and remember, to dance and to eat” readers discover that pow wows are “a time for the communities to gather, sing, dance, socialize and honour and celebrate their cultures.” Discussion questions ask readers What kind of “all are welcome” celebrations they’ve been to.

The Honour Drum is an important and integral book for those Canadians grappling with the issues it raises. As Christians it’s even more important because past actions of those associated with the church have been the source of some of the hurt that needs healing. As I read The Honour Drum and thought about the themes it raised, I became more and more convinced of God’s hand in its collaboration and timing.

Everyone, whether they have children or not, needs to read, study and meditate on The Honour Drum with this question in mind: what is God calling me to do?


For more information about The Honour Drum go to