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Gwen Tuinman

Novelist Speaker Advocate

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Gwen Tuinman

Gwen Tuinman is a novelist, born and raised in rural southern Ontario. She draws on her psychology background to create complex characters shaped by nature, nurture and circumstance. Her storytelling is influenced her interest in bygone days.

The Truest Sentence

There is nothing more daunting—yet beckoning—than a blank page. I wrote this line while journaling in the voice of my new protagonist. Funny how, without intending to, our characters become a writer’s confessor.

Each time I sit down to begin a new chapter or essay, gremlins begin whispering. You’ve lived only one life. How much can you have left to say? I wonder if I’ve milked every original thought in my head. The last piece is surely the best I’ve written. How will I rise to the occasion again? Then I remind myself, that I am a writer and creativity is a sustainable resource. The more I drink from the cup, the faster my creativity replenishes itself. This has proven true again and again. New ideas crystalize, words flow, and a new piece is completed. But the next time I start anew, I’ll look back on that work with fondness, then gaze worriedly at the blank page. What now?

Continue reading “The Truest Sentence”

Goal: Informed Feminism

I recently came across the term pop-feminism. It refers to the enthusiastic hearting and sharing of feminist slogans on social media posters–but without investing oneself in learning about the highlighted issue. I may or may not have been guilty of that time to time. (Cough!) A certain level of self-awareness urges many of us to look beyond our own bubble and grasp what’s going on in the Continue reading “Goal: Informed Feminism”

For Erie Belle

I’ve been thinking of my grandmother lately. Each summer of my childhood, I escaped the forces of home to enjoy two carefree weeks in her presence. This poem is for her. I wrote it following a vivid dream that she’d come back to me. Erie Belle, always in my heart. Continue reading “For Erie Belle”

Learning to be Lost

So many of us feel lost and rudderless. Blind faith with which we’ve lived the routine of our lives now waivers. The uncertainty of not knowing where to set our foot next leaves us trembling. This is a year of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

We live inside and outside ourselves. There are so many ways to get lost in either region. Our emotional or intuitive compass loses its due north. Words like must and should erode dreams, the Continue reading “Learning to be Lost”

Novel Writing–Refining My Process

This growing stack of index cards will become my third novel. I recently posted on social media about how I’ve been writing plot points, research references and character profiles on them. A sweet friend commented, “Oh, that’s how you write a book.”

It is part of how I write a book—this time around. My approach to writing earlier books was different. During The Last Hoffman years, it came as a complete surprise that I was writing a book. The story began with inspired doodles, Continue reading “Novel Writing–Refining My Process”

The Wild Nellies Online Meet-up for Womxn Creatives

Dear womxn creatives, whatever you’re doing—actively creating, reflecting, or resting in stillness—we’re your people. If you’re passionate about your art–or want to be–please join us for an inspiring discussion about creativity.

Conversations with other artists replenish my soul and my imagination which is why I love this event. Hang out with us online at The Wild Nellies Meet-up for Womxn Creatives and enjoy inspiring insights from our creativity panel featuring:

Sacha Visagie, Canadian Country Artist and philanthropist
Helen Leach-Edwards, visual artist
Premika Leo, dancer, circus aerialist, actor, activist
FJ Doucet, poet and fiction writer
Gwen Tuinman, novelist and creator of The Wild Nellies Continue reading “The Wild Nellies Online Meet-up for Womxn Creatives”

Nova Scotia’s Bessie Hall: Mariner and Heroine

I’ve been reading Women at Sea in the Age of Sail by Donal Baird, a fascinating account of seafaring women from Canada’s east coast in the 1800s. For reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I was drawn to the book at a Halifax book store in 2018.

Gender roles of the Victorian era barred women’s aspirations taking to the sea for the purpose of being part of a ship’s working crew. None the less, a number of women in the 1800s travelled along with their husbands for some semblance of family life rather than be left behind to raise children alone. They often gave birth at sea without the care of doctor or midwife, suffered the lack of female companionship, and endured stormy weather and shipwrecks.

Continue reading “Nova Scotia’s Bessie Hall: Mariner and Heroine”

Character Therapy

Poet William Stafford wrote, “So the world happens twice—once as we see it as is; second, it legends itself deep, the way it is.” So, the writer first experiences the event, then processes details, and retells the story, teasing out the subtleties to make a point. She holds up the magnifying glass. See, this is how we are! We’ve all been hurt this way.

To have lived an experience is not enough. Writers are led by an urge to re-examine, find meaning, dig deeper. We are forever looking forward, forecasting, reflecting, being present, watching for those fire flies of an idea.

Continue reading “Character Therapy”

Story Behind a Book Cover

When you’re ready to publish your novel, choosing an image for the cover is no small feat—especially when the story is literary and explores a variety of themes. I faced that challenge when preparing The Last Hoffman for publication. Here’s a peek at my journey to selecting an image.

The Last Hoffman is a tale of sacrifice, betrayal and desolation that begins in 1950’s and ends thirty years later in a floundering papermill town where an awkward widower and a young mother band together to overcome their tragic pasts. A lot of the conflict in the story centres around water, so at first I thought of a waterfall Continue reading “Story Behind a Book Cover”

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