Tag Archives: books

Stitched Illustration

I’ve always sewn clothes, made pictures, sculptures–tactile, physical objects that I could share with others pretty easily.


The lakeshore, formerly at 76.5 metres above sea level had risen by 15 metres and was lapping at Queen Street West. From The Bones, Chapter 2, by Laura Wythe

For a number of reasons, writing has become a great creative and personal outlet for me.  But how to show and share words? Contests, blogging, writing plays and joining writing groups have worked for short fiction.

Recently I finished a novel, inspired in part by a street in Wortley Village. Tecumseh Avenue is the only native name among so many traditional English names. It took a lot of research to find out the story behind the name, and I used the presence of this First Nation man in The Bones.

The main character is Catherine Blackwood, the textile curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She grew up on a farm next to the battlefield north of Chatham where Tecumseh died in the War of 1812. She heads back to the farm, now in Flood Zone 4, obsessed with making one last search for Tecumseh’s bones. (I’ll blog more about the Tecumseh story.)

I’m used to showing and telling what I’ve been up to. The logical thing — for me — was to make a series of illustrations and launch a book with pictures! Catherine, the textile curator, came to mind as having the perfect point of view for the illustrations.


gathering materials for The Bones Laura Wythe

For more than 2 years, I have collected textiles–table linens, threads, and other bits and embellishments. I have pored over maps and charted the travels of the characters through a flood ravaged land. I have joined London branch of the Canadian Embroiderer’s Guild to bone up on my stitching techniques.

I have 4 months left to finish the illustrations, and literally thousands of stitches to go.


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Indie Publishing


A long time ago, in the town I grew up in, I had my first Indie publishing moment in Mr. Smith’s Canadian Lit class. I wrote the story, drew the pictures, hand printed the words, and bound the pages with red electrical tape. Pretty cool. An excellent teacher, Mr. Smith went through the pages with pencil and pointed out my not-too-numerous spelling and grammar mistakes. He whispered to me (I was a class-slacker) that I should get this book published. I thought it was.

Little did I know at the time “nurd” would be become a part of our vocabulary, and have a different spelling!

Now with online printing platforms, I can go beyond a short children’s story and print out a whole novel, and many copies! In my case, I used CreateSpace, and being a pencil and paper girl, I had a hard time until I just followed the instructions. Oh yes, and I enlisted a friend’s help!

Talking out design problems and getting the book just right was a great experience, and now it’s done. I have a BIG book.

Mind you, I also booked a venue to hold an art show in 2018 — can’t resist illustrating a novel. Deciding how to include illustrations is still to be decided. I’d like it to have some of the charm of an “old-school” book, maybe with colour plates pasted onto blank pages opposite the text, or scattered through more randomly. It won’t be hand printed, but the illustrations will be hand-made.

I’m proud to announce the release of The Bones, and will be among the small presses and indie authors at London Ontario’s Wordsfest — Southwesto Book Expo — held November 4 and 5th at Museum London. A cool start for a book.

Meet local author_landscape



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C publishers: ChiZine and Coach House Books

So, I’ve finished writing a novel, The Bones, and of course I want to put it out there.  But the business of writing differs hugely from the craft, so it’s time to to do some research. The overall goal is to find a kindred spirit who will love to get my  book out there.

At this time, I’m going through the directory of Canadian Publishers. B was interesting, with one nibble.  Then it was time for the Cs. I almost went down to Sarnia’s GenreCon in April to pitch my novel to ChiZine, publisher of DARK works. The World More Full of Weeping by Robert Wiersemaon was on their list, but the book wasn’t in the LPLibrary, so I got out Before I Wake by the same author. Really cool story, which I found not so DARK but rather hopeful.

After ChiZine, comes Coach House. They unabashedly like Toronto and all things related in their non-fiction. I do situate the beginning of my novel in Toronto, so that’s good. For research, I started with Andrew Kaufman’s All My Friends are Superheroes. From the title and book cover, you may guess this novel is a weighty tome about the existential angst of Canadian identity involving world events in the Middle East–or perhaps Brighton. You would guess wrong! It’s a perfect darlin’ of a love story.

Another title in the Coach House list that caught my eye was And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier and translated from French by Rhonda Mullens. It’s a story about the northern bush north of Timmins, but not in the usual CanLit way. There is suffering, but the woods are the remedy for Saucier’s characters. I don’t know a lot about translations, but I feel like I would enjoy this more in the original French, as the English feels awkward at times. The interspersed history of the Great Fires that raged through the area 100 years ago is pretty interesting.

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