Two Aldergrove-area authors have had their work selected to appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s new book celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.
The Spirit of Canada features one story from Pamela Kent of Aldergrove and two stories from Frances McGuckin of West Abbotsford.
The pair met in a small writing group in West Abbotsford and are both brain injury survivors.
McGuckin, 66, was Google’s number one “small business expert” and “small business author” in 2005 with her book Business for Beginners when she was injured in a car accident.
She had been a columnist with the Langley Times and was ready to “springboard” into the next level in her business when she was seriously injured in that car crash.
“At 54-ish I lost my life’s work,” McGuckin says. “It was instant memory loss, I thought I would never write again.”
She moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2009 with her 100-year-old mom, but returned to the Lower Mainland in 2015 after her mother passed away at 107, settling in Abbotsford.
There, in her tiny complex of 15 homes called Eden Quarter, she found a writing group of four people, hosted by her mentor, Loreena Hutchinson.
In that group, she met Kent, 86.
With glaucoma threatening and other age-related health issues, Kent’s dry sense of humour belies her age and challenges.
Kent suffered an aneurysm at age 28 and became paralyzed on one side. She found solace in writing at the age of 60 and hasn’t stopped since.
She has had works published in various magazines, a column in The Surrey Now newspaper, and, recently, a piece in The Globe and Mail.
“There is neuroplasticity, the brain can rebuild itself,” said McGuckin. “It came back to me as I began to speak without notes and started work on 5,000 words for a literary contest.
“You have to adapt and accept, you can’t afford to look back. I am so grateful for every minute of every day, so totally content today.
“Some never get to feel that good, but be grateful for what you have,” says McGuckin.
The pair had their Chicken Soup selections chosen from among thousands of submissions.
There are a total of 101 stories in the book.
McGuckin’s stories are titled This is How We Do It! – about the 2015 Old Sechelt Mine fire, to honour the people of the Coast and the Sechelt Indian band – and My Log Home Critters.
Kent’s story is tilted The Last Night of the Proms, about her memories of a special evening with the Vancouver Symphony. This is the second Chicken Soup story she has had published.
The Spirit of Canada was released June 6, and McGuckin attended the official book launch in Toronto on June 13. She was among 32 of the book’s 95 authors in attendance.
She will also attend various book signing events in B.C., including in Sechelt on Canada Day, when she will present copies of the book to the Sechelt Indian Band.
Also while there, she will help the Sechelt Downtown Business Association sell books to raise funds for a piece of street furniture in honor of John Phare, who died fighting the Old Sechelt Mine fire.