Extraordinary journey

Kay McCracken

I don’t know what it was exactly that pushed me over the edge but I pulled up stakes and moved to a small town in south central British Columbia known as Salmon Arm to start a bookstore. The time had come to make a change. I felt if I didn’t do it then, I never would.

What happened over the next five-and-a-half years was great material for a book. My bookstore, called Reflections, was peopled by quirky and wonderful human beings, one ghost, and mysterious happenings involving a raven—a story that begged to be told. After closing Reflections (the irony was that I never had time to reflect on much while I was managing it), I spent the next ten years reflecting and writing about the experience.

Hundreds of drafts later I finally had a book and a title to hang on it: A Raven in My Heart. The symbol of Raven, the great Trickster, was most appropriate and that becomes apparent when you read the book.

Publishing my memoir has taken me to some lovely places. On Saturday, May 15, I had the pleasure of returning to my hometown, Revelstoke, to do a book signing at Grizzly Book and Serendipity Shop. Mackenzie Avenue buzzed with festive energy as hundreds of people strolled sunny streets, stopped to pick up goodies from the farmers’ market and sidewalk sales, or to buy my memoir and have it signed.

My cousin Ken English dropped by to say hello. His wife Cathy, curator of the Museum, had a previous engagement. On the McCracken side, my grandparents lived further down Mackenzie Avenue long ago. Grandpa “Mac” McCracken was a CPR man, as was my father, Bill. My father and my mother, then Marion English, brought our clans together.

While I ruminated on the ancestors, chatted with people, and admired more pretty dogs and babies than I’ve seen in a long time, friend Sarah Weaver, president of The Shuswap Association of Writers—and one of the coordinators of the Salmon Arm Writers’ Festival—handed out flyers and put up posters promoting The Shuswap Lake International Writers’ Festival, May 28-30. We’ve been working hard to make this years festival the best one yet. Our hope is that the line up of stellar authors and workshops, and the two evening events—readings by award-winning authors, a storytelling party with live music and more—will entice people from Revelstoke to joint us for some fun and inspiration.

Have you dreamed of writing your story but don’t know how or where to start? My workshop “From Memories to Memoir” may be just the ticket. You don’t have to be eighty years old or famous to write a memoir! It’s great that ordinary people are writing, for they record the times we live in. Future generations need our stories.

Or perhaps you’re interested in writing children’s stories, short stories, novels, or poetry? How about an excellent journal-writing workshop? Want to learn about romance writing, nature writing, writing non-fiction with online resources, writing with humour, the art of storytelling, or exploring the idea of “truth” in historical fiction or creative non-fiction? We have something for everyone, from beginners to experienced writers, at this year’s festival. There will be a panel discussion about the state of publishing today. Several publishers and editors will be offering workshops and most of them, and the authors, will be available to look at your work in a blue pencil session. Don’t hesitate to register because it’s first come first served and the sessions are limited.

Half-day registrations will only be accepted on a walk-in basis at The Harbourfront Resort. Please let Sarah Weaver know by way of an email or a phone call if you intend to sign up for a half day otherwise go to www.saow.ca for the program and to register.

Phone: 250-832-7405. Email: sarah.weaver@xplornet.ca

Thanks to all those people who bought my book, the people who have yet to buy it, and to Vanessa Smith for offering me the opportunity to share her sidewalk sale space. I enjoyed every minute of it.

Kay McCracken is a native-born Revelstokian and writer who now makes her home in Salmon Arm. Her website is at www.gracespringscollective.ca.