Authors benefit from Anita Factor

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This article was published 10/07/2015 (2704 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A local writers’ group is throwing a big bash to celebrate a sucessful year for its members.

The Anita Factor is a writing group made up of “about 10” members who meet every second Thursday at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Grant Park Shopping Centre. The group focuses on writing for children and young adults. This past year saw many of the members publish works, so on Sat., July 18, the group is hosting their Summer Reading Blast in the Forks Market Building.

“It’s a celebration really at heart,” explained Melinda Friesen, a member of the group. “When do you have a writers’ group like this and almost all of us manage to publish something in one year?”

Sheldon Birnie Local authors Deborah Friesen (left) and Melinda Friesen are members of the writing group The Anita Factor. The group will be reading from their published works and signing book at the Summer Reading Blast at the Forks July 18 (SHELDON BIRNIE/CANSTAR COMMUNITY NEWS/THE HERALD)

“And there were four of us shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award,” added Deborah Froese, a member of the group who lives in North Kildonan.

“There’s a kind of synergy with writers connecting like that,” Froese said. “You have a community who understands why you’d spend an hour on one paragraph, or why you’d throw those five pages out. And also who’ll commiserate with you as you do.”

A Transcona resident, Friesen had her debut novel, Enslavement, published last fall through local imprint Rebelight Publishing. Friesen credits the feedback and encouragement she got through the Anita Factor meetings with helping her manuscript see the light of day.

“Some of the members of the Anitas did a full manuscript critique,” Friesen said. “For me it was a last ditch effort. But I put it through the critique and they were very encouraging. They suggested some things to work on, so I didn’t give up on it and here we are.”

Froese’s latest is Mr. Jacobson’s Window, a children’s book that she wrote and illustrated. Like Friesen, Froese said she benefited from the encouragement of the group in seeing the project through to publication.

“If it hadn’t been for the Anitas, this book would never have come out,” she said. “I would have just left it in my drawer.”

Froese said she’d written the book years ago, initially as an advent story to read in her church. She’d submitted it many times over to the same response.

“(Publishers) all said, ‘We don’t do seasonal stories,’” Froese recalled. “I figured it was a nice story, but it wasn’t going anywhere.”

But after a fellow group member encouraged her to try local publishing house Peanut Butter Press, the project took on a second life. Froese was even inspired to pick up a paintbrush for the first time in 20 years to illustrate the title.

“There’s not a chance I would have done that without the Anitas behind me encouraging me,” Froese said.

Both Froese and Friesen are relatively recent additions to the Anita Factor, which was founded five years ago by a group of six writers who had taken a writing course from Winnipeg author Anita Daher. They both said they’re naturally drawn to writing for young adults.

“That’s where my voice seems to be when I tell stories,” Froese said. “In most people’s lives, being a teenager or young adult there is so much transformation going on, so I feel I’m able to draw on that.”

“I also like to read YA myself,” Friesen, who has teenage children, said. “That’s the first thing I go to when I go to the book store. I find them fast paced, I like the characters, the way the stories move. If you’re a person who doesn’t have a lot of time to read, YA is the thing to read.”

The Anita Factor’s Summer Reading Blast takes place on Sat., July 18 in the south atrium at the Forks Market building from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Guests will have an opportunity to meet the authors, and to have books signed.

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Twitter: @heraldWPG

Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie
Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time. Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com Call him at 204-697-7112

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