Remembrance Week Events for, Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman

Bonfire liked to carry caps and swagger sticks

Book signings in Calgary:
Thursday, November 8 – Chapters/Indigo Signal Hill 6 – 10
Saturday, November 10 – Chapters/Indigo Signal Hill 12 – 4
Friday, November 16 – Chapters Shawnessy 4 – 8
Tuesday, November 20 – Owl’s Nest Books in Britannia 7:00

Also available at:

Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman launch, launched successfully!

MMWG member, Marika d’Ailly and launch MC, Karen Gimbel

I’m not quite recovered but I still did a book event at beautiful Bluerock Gallery today. The launch at Lougheed House on Friday night was wonderful. A full house, a classy MC – Karen Gimbel, special guests, and robust book sales before and after. After a brief talk by me about the McCrae journey, our teenaged readers from Oilfields High School in Black Diamond began the program by reading a short chapter from the book, followed by Captain Reg McMichael of the PPCLI who gave a powerful and moving talk about his service in Afghanistan and what remembrance means from a “young” veteran’s point of view. I’m trying to create awareness that not all veterans are in their 80s and 90s! No disrespect meant, but veterans are all around us and are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, etc.

CSM Brodeur, Captain McMichael and me

Then he was followed by the men’s vocal ensemble, Il Sono, who performed for the first time a setting of McCrae’s last poem, The Anxious Dead 1917 – music by me, and arranged by Steven Baric.

Il Sono sings McCrae poem, The Anxious Dead

To hear it for the first time was very emotional for me. Gave me goosebumps. A cappella and in four part harmony. After that their bass soloist sang two pieces from the book that John McCrae liked; The Minstrel Boy and Drink to me Only With Thine Eyes.

Attentive guests

Historian, Victor Taboika generously provided two WWI uniforms from outfits that feature in the book; one from the 10th Battalion and one from the 1st Brigade CFA – Canadian Field artillery, as well as a CAMC, Canadian Army Medical Corps cap, and field medical kit.

“Fighting 10th” Btn uniform on left and 1st Bde CFA on right

It was an exciting beginning to the marketing of this book. I really believe that this book will be on bookshelves for a few decades. It is basically the beating heart behind the poem, In Flanders Fields. Monday Morning Writers Group member, Angela Simmons took these pictures and there will be more great photos to follow from photographer, Monique de St.Croix. Monique took the head shot of me on the cover of the book. Stay tuned for more book news!

Bruce Nickel, PPCLI veteran and President of the 3rd CAV, Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit/Ypres that I belong to as a Supporter, and Suk Wong

the author looking chuffed

me with the choir, Il Sono

The books have arrived!

The Bonfire books arrived today and they are gorgeous! It’s a slim volume, but it packs a punch, is full of amazing archival photographs, and contains the very soul of the story behind the poem, In Flanders Fields. Another precious item arrived today too, on loan from award winning author, Terry Fallis.

It is one of John McCrae’s actual spurs, brought home after his death by Fallis’s grandfather who served with McCrae from 1916 until his death. Given that all of McCrae’s personal effects from the war went to the bottom of the ocean with the sinking of the hospital ship, Llandovery Castle, this is too special for words.

More praise for Bonfire:
“I enjoyed the book! Well done.” – Major (ret’d) Marc George, Director – Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, Shilo, Manitoba

“Could not put it down. I sobbed like a baby through much of it. Well done girl!” – Wendy Dudley, author and journalist

Three days until launch. Stay tuned!

Bonfire book news

Had the first book event for the Bonfire book at Okotoks Public Library’s Parade of Authors yesterday. Fun event and great chatting with readers and the other writers, too. The books were diverse; from fiction and science fiction, to history and memoir. Lee Kvern’s book, Afterall, is on the CBC Canada Reads list which is HUGE! Wendy Dudley read a charming excerpt from her book, Don’t Name the Ducks. The title is based upon a warning she was given by a neighbour when she moved onto her wilderness acreage, who knew of the possibility of “pets” being consumed by wild, four-legged residents. I had this driven home lately by my very last two cats disappearing this spring. One, 16 year old female Isis, was my very first cat when we bought this farm in 1997! She had survived so much over all these years but maybe her age made her a good target. Her nephew, Tyrone – 14, disappeared, too. Pretty sure they were dispatched by coyotes, or maybe the fox I saw several times this year. Although he’s not much bigger than they are, correction…were.

Anyway, it was a fun event and I gave the first public reading from, Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman. We authors were served a unique and delicious cake as well!

As for reading, I need to slow down and enunciate better. I was a little nervous. Good practice for event number 2, Sheep River Library’s, Authors Among Us event, 27 October in Turner Valley, Alberta.

In the meantime a couple more reviews have come in:
I read your manuscript, great story!!!!(reviewer’s exclamation marks) A great perspective on Canada’s WWI war efforts and should be a must-read for anyone interested in Canadian history, especially Remembrance Day. I have to admit, I wanted the story to go on…
– Christian McEachern, 42, Canadian Army veteran

Raby-Dunne tells an incredible and very human story which will be enjoyed immensely by readers of all ages. I couldn’t put it down! – Karen Robinson, 64

Also today I was back in touch with General (ret’d) Ernie Beno, about restoring Major-General Sir Edward Morrison’s gravestone in Beechwood Military Cemetery in Ottawa. We began this initiative in 2008 but have been delayed because we can’t find a drawing or photo of what it used to look like. Morrison was a hero of WWI and figures prominently in Bonfire – The Chestnut Gentleman. He and John McCrae were best mates since the Boer War. I plan to try and track down that information this spring when I do a book event or two in Ontario.

Morrison’s decrepit marker at Beechwood. Something used to be on top of it, like a bronze cross or something. We need to find an original image to proceed with restoration. Or come up with something new; classy, but subtle, in keeping with his down-to-earth way of going.