Archives for the month of: September, 2012

What a day we had for the second annual The Word On The Street Festival in Lethbridge last Sunday! The weather was perfect, the authors and performers were amazing, the food was yummy… what more could I have dreamed of…

I’ll let the pictures tell the story. Thanks to photographers Lorelei Hoffarth and Wendy Devent for capturing so many beautiful moments from our day…

Author and Lethbridge WOTS presenter Dan Kazakoff

Author and Lethbridge WOTS presenter Dan Kazakoff

Word On The Street self publishing panel authors Jason Mehmel, Susan Toy, and Suzanne Petryshyn

Kids find treasure at WOTS

Alberta Magazine Publishers Association gave away cases of Alberta Magazines representing their diverse membership


It’s always interesting to go back in time and hear the background behind some of well known public figures and events, and Paul Serup is an expert in the events surround Abraham Lincoln’s death.He’ll be at Word On The Street Sunday, and would love to meet any fellow history buffs so make sure to stop by.

Paul Serup is an independent researcher and author based in central British Columbia, Canada. Though he didn’t know it at the time, the simple act of reading a book almost thirty years ago changed the direction of his life. He recounts:  “After reading Charles Chiniquy’s autobiography, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome in 1986 I was so fascinated and curious about what Chiniquy had said, particularly about President Lincoln’s assassination that I began researching the ex-priest’s life.”  Serup has spent 22 years researching the connection between Charles Chiniquy and President Lincoln, the result being the book Who Killed President Lincoln?

About the Book

In 1885, the former Catholic priest Charles Chiniquy, published his autobiography Fifty Years in the Church of Rome. A 2009 biography declares that he remains Canada’s best-selling author of all time. Thirteen years after it was first printed, 70 editions of the book were circulating and it had been translated into at least nine languages. In it, Chiniquy made the startling claim that officials and laymen from the Catholic Church had, in fact been responsible for the murder of his very close friend, Abraham Lincoln.

Over a period of some 22 years, author and independent historical researcher Paul Serup assessed Chiniquy’s claims. The result of his meticulous research makes a strong and compelling case that a Catholic plot led to the assassination of one of history’s most famous heads of state. It’s a story of a conspiracy that seems to be much more than ‘just a theory’

With all the mystery and suspense of a classic thriller novel, Who Killed Abraham Lincoln? Is an exciting addition to the literary landscape- with the added bonus that it’s an actual real-life whodunit!

Paul Serup
This 424 page tome is meticulously researched by independent researcher and author Paul Serup and also comes with a CD of more than 3,300 pages of additional documentation. It’s a must read for fans of true crime, history buffs and mystery lovers alike!


What a week it has been! Just a couple of days left and while there have been some fairly typical glitches along the way every challenge has created a solution, often even better than the original plan.

Lethbridge Public Library WOTS FestivalI am so grateful for all the support the Festival has received from our community; sponsors for everything from bottled water for the Green Room to a semi truck and driver to pick up and return the 40 tables and 350 chairs we are borrowing for our tent seating. Every day I see new examples of the generosity and resourcefulness of our business community as they step forward to offer money, services and troubleshooting on some of the really interesting challenges that come with transforming a downtown city neighbourhood into a magical space that come Sunday will be filled with people, performers and authors.

Looking forward to seeing you all there…



The third in a series of author interviews by guest blogger Megan Shapka. This will probably be the last one, in spite of how much she’s enjoyed the conversations, because somehow we have run out of time with the festival just days away. Thank you Megan, and thank you to the authors for sharing their talents with us all.

There’s something really speciMargaret Pokiak-Fentonal about picking up a book to read a true story, particularly a true story with positive messages. In two books, “Fatty Legs” and “A Stranger at Home,” co-authors Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton share Margaret’s experiences as a child in a residential school in the North and her return home after her studies. While many stories about residential schools are sad and disturbing, Margaret’s is filled with triumph. When Margaret told her daughter-in-law the story of being called Fatty Legs at the school, Christy knew it was a story that needed to be shared and she was excited that it was one that could be told to young children. “I got instant goose bumps,” she says.

Margaret’s story helps children learn about the history of residential schools, while remaining relatable to their own lives and acting as a guide for navigating tough times. Christy says both books share the story of the First Peoples of Canada, but also include many universal messages that speak to all children. “In ‘Fatty Legs’ there are lessons about being tenacious in the face of resistance, of following your dreams, and of keeping your spirit strong when the world tries to break you,” she says. “In ‘A Stranger at Home’ there are messages about not forgetting who you are, of being proud of where you come from, and of staying connected to your community even after you have ventured far from what you know.”

These award-winning books are popular with both children and their parents. Christy says they filled a gap where few resources existed before, but it’s the messages in Margaret’s stories that make them stand out. “They appeal to everyone who has ever been bullied, or had someone stand in the way of something they really wanted, or felt lost and didn’t know how to fit in.”

Christy Jordan-Fenton Christy says she has learned a lot about Margaret and the Inuvialuit while working on the books.

“This has been so wonderful because it has aided me in helping my children better understand their grandmother and their cultural roots,” she says. “But the greatest part of the journey has been seeing the transformation in Margaret. She has gone from a quiet farm wife and grandmother to a confident woman who can take a stage and share some of her most painful experiences in a positive and enlightening way with hundreds of strangers at a time.”

Christy and Margaret will be at The Word On The Street in Lethbridge this weekend sharing “Fatty Legs” and “A Stranger At Home.” They may even share a bit from “When I Was Eight,” which is the third, soon to be released, book documenting Margaret’s story. Margaret will also be sharing some her personal photographs and stories not included in the books. The books are also featured in a music video for the song “Say Your Name” by Keith Secola; so be sure to check that out too when you stop by to say hi to Christy and Margaret on Sunday! “

Megan Shapka is a freelance writer and editor with a background in journalism and post-secondary education support. Megan provides professional and efficient writing and editing services, meeting the needs of customers in diverse industries, genres and styles. Many of her contracts are with Lethbridge College, where she writes and edits online curriculum and writes for Wider Horizons magazine. Megan has edited books for self-published authors and is writing two books. Contact her at

Creating a 16 page full color program guide isn’t quite like giving birth to a baby, but it’s close! Thank you to the Library team for their focus on details and spelling, and to our designer for her vision and talent.  And just like any other new parent, I’m now feeling entitled to a nap…. Click here to see the online version

Just one week left to go before The Word On The Street Lethbridge next Sunday September 23rd. There’s still a few odds and ends to take care of this week but overall we are in pretty good shape bcause of some dedicated help from several Lethbridge Public Library staff and a handful of volunteers helping with advance tasks.

Francophone rap artist Webster Agent performs live at WOTS Lethbridge

Francophone rap artist Webster Agent performs live at WOTS Lethbridge

There’s so much I am looking forward to seeing, with literally dozens of new exhibitors, vendors and community organizations. Check out the entire list of authors and exhibitors on the Lethbridge section of The Word On The Street national website, and watch for the program guide to be posted online Monday. (fingers crossed :-))

Here is a sampling of the activities happening:

Webster Agent – Internationally known francophone rap /recording artist Webster performing live in the Teen Lounge
The Medieval Club – once again, dressed in period costumes with the woollen tunic under a chain mail vest club members will be doing sword fighting demonstrations and roasting meat on a traditional spit throughout the day.  I think their efforts were particularly heroic considering the 35°C temperatures last year.The Medievel Club in full period costume

The Fairy Tale photo booth in the Family Centre tent. Kids can have their picture taken against the magic fairyland backdrop wearing a choice of costumes including fairy wings, dragon costume, princess or knight in shining armor.

The Drop’nBeats display featuring information on their mobile recording studio where young people from our community can write lyrics and record their own original tracks, learn to add in a back beat and musical accompaniament, and even dub in layers of harmony while recording their own custom CD’s.

Haiku Magnet Poetry Death Match – watch the U of L compete against Lethbridge College in front of the Main Stage along with 4 other teams as they strain their brains to come up with instant, but brilliant, Haiku poetry under the pressure of a ticking clock while the audience cheers for their favorites…

Crazy Cakes…. real butter icing. Need I say more?

2012 WOTS Lethbridge Festival site mapThese are just a few of the fun and interesting activities planned for WOTS 2012 Lethbridge. Come visit the 53 exhibitors and vendors who will be joining us, along with 34 amazing authors featured on one of the five performance areas known as the TD General Tent Stage,  the Listen & Learn Theme Tent, Most Vocal Poets Tent, Children’s Tent and the Teen Lounge downstairs inside the Library, as we celebrate the second annual Word On The Street Lethbridge.

It’s going to be a big day…

Another in a series of author interviews with our featured authors by journalist Megan Shapka.

ZO, the latest novel from writer Murray PuraSometimes we read books simply to get lost in a story. Other times we crack a spine to learn something about the world around us. A truly great reading experience can offer us both.

Murray Pura is that type of author who effectively blends fiction with truth and the acquisition of knowledge. In his last three novels, “The White Birds of Morning,” “The Face of Heaven” and “The Wings of Morning,” he addresses themes of war and peace and pacifism and war atrocities. Not light subjects by any stretch, but topics he feels are important to discuss.  

“War is ongoing in the world. How people choose to act and react during times of conflict reveals both the best and the worst in the human race – best when we see stories of sacrifice for others, going into harm’s way to defend or save others, the courage required to be a physician or medic or nurse under fire; worst when we see barbarism and torture and massacre and genocide coming to full ugly flower during conflict.”

Through his historical fiction, Pura encourages his readers to think about their roles in conflict. “War is never romantic and should never be glamorized,” he says. “You may feel you have no choice but to fight when your life and the lives of those you love and care for are threatened but war should never be gold-plated.”

Mizzly Fitch, by author Murray Pura speaking at The 2012 Word On The Street LethbridgeHe acknowledges that the questions are complicated and may incite moral ambivalence. “I want people to consider that it takes as much courage to fight for your country by being a pacifist as it does to go into battle with a gun. Ultimately, I would hope my readers see through my characters lives that the issues are not one-dimensional; that it might not always be right to avoid conflict if the end result of not resisting is more tyranny, slavery and unlimited atrocities against thousands or millions of people.”

While his last three novels share common themes, they address different time periods and conflicts. “The White Birds of Morning” is based on the lives of two of Pura’s aunts. It is the second book in a projected four book series and is set in the 1930s and 1940s in Ukraine and Russia.

“The Face of Heaven” is about the American Civil War. Pura says it speaks to issues of slavery and children raised to embrace a Christian path of non-violence over choosing to bear arms.

“I have wanted to write a book on the American Civil War for many, many years and when I was offered the contract I jumped in because of my interest to understand why the war started and how it felt to a soldier or a nurse or a civilian when the battles were going on. I also wanted to explore pacifism, for example what the Amish did in response to such a war since they are committed to non-violence.”

In “The Wings of Morning” Pura discusses the persecution of Quakers, Amish, Mennonites and Hutterites in the United States during World War I. “I had known for years that some Mennonites and Hutterites had been tortured and even killed for refusing to enlist and fight Germany in 1917 and 1918,” he says. “I decided it was time to tell their story, as this is an aspect of war that has tended to be under the radar and also very relevant to us here in southern Alberta.”

Pura says readers respond favourably to his historical fiction in which we see the best of human nature, not just the worst. Publishers Weekly has released enthusiastic reviews for “The Wings of Morning” and “The Face of Heaven” and most recently “The White Birds of Morning” won a prize for top historical novel at a literary event in Toronto in June.


Murray Pura has published a dozen fiction and non-fiction books. He will be sharing his work at The Word On The Street in Lethbridge on September 23, 2012, focusing on “The White Birds of Morning,” “The Face of Heaven” and “The Wings of Morning,” as well as talking about the struggle and wonder of the writing life.

Megan Shapka is a freelance writer and editor with a background in journalism and post-secondary education support. Megan provides professional and efficient writing and editing services, meeting the needs of customers in diverse industries, genres and styles. Many of her contracts are with Lethbridge College, where she writes and edits online curriculum and writes for Wider Horizons magazine. Megan has edited books for self-published authors and is writing two books. Contact her at

Lethbridge Public Library Bookmobile

You too can drive the Lethbridge Public Library Bookmobile September 23rd at The Word On The Street Festival

Last year, this was one of many of my favorite WOTS memories, even if the construction was somewhat less than perfect. For 2012, Milestone Mazda and Lethbridge Volkswagen have partnered to sponsor the creation of a new Bookmobile ‘peek-a-boo bus’, and PixelWorks is creating the over-size graphic to make sure that we will have a beautiful new (pretend) Bookmobile for everyone to drive.

See you September 23rd!

Shaela Miller & Treeline at the 2011 The Word On The Street Festival

Shaela Miller & Treeline at the 2011 The Word On The Street Festival

Another amazing talent from right here in southern Alberta, Shaela Miller has been building a following of loyal fans who love the twangy ripples and rifs of her unique voice belting out an eclectic mix of covers and original tracks backed up by local band Treeline.  Together, they’ll be performing on the main stage on September 23rd. Take a listen to Shaela singing Lonely and her album Love is Brave available on iTunes.

“For the past four years the Southern Albertan quartet has been marinating in the underbelly of the Western Canadian Music Scene. Drawing comparisons to successful prairie artists to come before them like the Corb Lund and Old Reliable, it’s no surprise that Treeline cites the pioneers of the country-roots tradition like Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons as primary influences. Joining Treeline for a forthcoming split album (a follow up to 2011’s “Prairie Sentimentalist” with Sean Brewer) is fellow Lethbridge artist Shaela Miller. Honed during nearly ten years in which she has defined her unique style, Miller’s voice is reminiscent of country greats like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. In the vein of her primary influences, Miller employs lyrical themes ranging from subtle overtones of heartbreak to candid observations of reality. But when asked to describe her music Miller simply replies “Honky Tonk.” 

To find out more, visit:

It’s amazing what a lot of great live music we get to experience in Lethbridge, and we are thrilled to have booked several of these talented groups for The Word On The Street this year! Watch for the online program guide featuring the full schedule of authors and other entertainment happening September 23rd, and in the meantime check out the singer/songwriter (s) partnership of Bryant & Watson.

Bryant & Watson perform live at The Word On The Street Lethbridge Sept 23rd, 2012An acoustic duo from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, Joel Bryant and Pete Watson are 2 friends brought together by their common love for playing and writing music. The Bryant & Watson duo play an array of original songs and cover songs, infusing pop music with multiple genres such as blues, funk, rock, and soul music. The duo has performed regularly in southern alberta since the inception of the band last spring, including performances at the Cancer Relay For Life at the Exhibition Grounds and the World Dance and Music Festival at the Yates Memorial Centre.”
See you then…


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