Writers’ BLOC Celebrates 30th Anniversary

How does a local writing group celebrate its 30th Anniversary during a pandemic? Simple. Publish a novella.

Since 1991, members of Writers’ BLOC have been sharing words in many formats. Writers’ BLOC grew from the inspiration of two Port Elgin women, Diana Armstrong and the late Isabel Sturgeon. Writers from across the region (Port Elgin, Southampton, Kincardine, Hanover, Chesley, Allenford, and the Bruce Peninsula) have gathered monthly. They brought writing to share for feedback, and responses to a challenge or theme. More than 60 writers have been members of Writers’ BLOC. Their names are listed in the new book, N.C.R. A Novella and Other Works.

              (L-R) Rachel Hepburn, Anne Judd, Suzanne Selby, Jean Lagace, Marylee Cross & Kim Dixon

With the 2020 restrictions under Covid-19, Writers’ BLOC adapted from in-person gatherings to on-line exchanges of writing and feedback.

“Seven members of our group penned the novella as a writing experiment and completed it this year,” said Rachel Hepburn. “The story is set in Bruce and Grey counties and takes readers on a wild ride with unforgettable endings.”

“Publishing our novella at the same time as the 30th anniversary was just a natural fit,” added long-time member Jean Lagace. An artist as well as writer, Jean created the cover illustration for the book, which includes a few literary selections of poetry and prose from present and previous BLOC writers.

The group will donate copies of the book to libraries in Port Elgin, Southampton, Kincardine, Tiverton and Wiarton. Copies of the novel are also available for $10 directly from the writers. (Refer to the attached bio sheet.)

Writers’ BLOC meetings are currently held on-line on the last Tuesday of each month and are open to all writers no matter what their skill level or genre. Contact Writers’ BLOC at writersbloc1991@gmail.com

Biographies of the N.C.R. Novella Writers

Marylee Cross, Southampton:  Marylee Cross, a retired nurse, was born and raised in Bruce County. Her love of writing has been lifelong. In every location that she and her family lived, there has been a Creative Writers’ group that has allowed her to share with others, her passion for writing. Writers’ BLOC has been that place since moving to Southampton, Ontario.

Kim Dixon, Kincardine:  Kim Dixon is the new kid on Writers’ BLOC joining in 2020. Writing is her first love. Kim started her career as a reporter for a small Manitoba town newspaper. She’s been a communicator ever since for non-profit and corporate businesses, and has received several national business writing awards. Now she is learning to write for herself in Kincardine, Ontario.

Rachel Hepburn, Wiarton: Some of Rachel Hepburn’s poetry, fiction, and non-fictional pieces have been published in The Brucedale Press The Leaf. She draws her inspiration from nature, and the peculiarities of human behaviour. A member of Writers’ BLOC for only a handful of years, Rachel looks forward to the monthly writing challenges which yield the opportunity to simply create.

Anne Judd, Saugeen Shores: Anne Duke Judd writes, edits, and gardens in rural Saugeen Shores. She has participated in BLOC since 1991, and also with groups including The Ontario Poetry Society, Bruce County Historical Society, and Editors Canada. Her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in regional publications and national journals. Having written several books and contributed to numerous anthologies, she refuses to retire.

Jean Lagace, Tiverton: M. Jean Lagace is an artist. Her paintings of multimedia, photos and jewellery design as well as other works of arts, hang in her gallery. She enjoys photographing nature and the countryside. Jean attended the Writers’ BLOC group as a guest with Isabel Sturgeon and later joined the group in 2009. She has been inspired since.

Alan MacLeod: Alan MacLeod is a retired clinical psychologist with Bruce County roots on both sides of his family going back to the “109” families cleared from the Isle of Lewis in 1851. Alan notes, “It’s been fun and inspiring to be part of Writers’ BLOC group for the past decade or so—a talented bunch of writers and nice people as well.”

Suzanne Selby, Southampton: Suzanne Selby, a retired school teacher, enjoys writing poetry and has great fun playing with lyrics and rhyme. Inspired by her children and grandchildren and by her love of nature, she has created several children’s stories, using animals as her characters. Writers’ BLOC has encouraged her to venture into prose and, playing with characters in this story has been fascinating.