Welcome! I love to write, and I love sharing what I write with my readers. I vary my style as much as I can-posting events, creative non-fiction, prose and poetry and the occasional video. Enjoy!



Monday, October 29, 2012

Photo of Louise Erdrich and Book Review of The Roundhouse

Book Signing with Louise Erdrich at IFOA Festival: Photo By Nathan Adler  

 I finally met my favorite author, Louise Erdrich at the International Festival of Authors at the Fleck Dance Theatre Harbourfront Centre (October 28, 2012)

Book Review: The Roundhouse
By: Christine McFarlane

Written By: Louise Erdrich
Published By: Harper Collins Canada
317 Pages

Louise Erdrich, the author of fourteen novels, as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood has written another great book “The Roundhouse.”

The Roundhouse is a brilliant novel that illuminates the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibway and white live uneasily together. Louise Erdrich writes about tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of the characters, the Coutts family, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what still happens on reserves across North America.

The story begins in the summer of 1988, when Geraldine Coutts living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. After not coming home right away from a run to the tribal offices on the reserve, Joe and his father go out to find her. As they are driving around looking for her, they see her car tear past them in a cloud of dust. Thinking that there is nothing wrong, they laugh, follow her car back to their house and take their time to park the car and walk up the hill to greet her.

It is when they notice that Geraldine is still sitting in the driver’s seat, and not moving; that they realize something is wrong. Joe’s father opens the car door and sees the blood. Prying his wife’s hands from the steering wheel and lifting her from the car, they jump into the car once again and bring Geraldine to the hospital.

It is heartbreaking to read about the journey to the hospital and how 13-year-old Joe is transformed from a kid to a caregiver in a matter of seconds, as he holds his mom in the car and tries to soothe her. After a stay in the hospital, Geraldine is understandably traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal the details of what happened to anyone.

The Coutts family dynamic shifts after the attack. Where Geraldine was once a very active tribal council member on the reserve, the attack leaves her lying in bed and slipping further into an abyss of solitude and depression, that Joe and his father cannot seem to help her out of. Joe’s father struggles with anger and grief and tries in vain to heal his wife, and increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world in which he is ill prepared to cope with.

It is when Joe’s father, who is a tribal judge invites Joe one night into his study to read old cases with him, in order to try and find clues of who his wife’s attacker is, that more and more questions pile up. Joe, tiring of just reading and not doing anything,  goes to his friends, Cappy, Zack and Angus to see if they can get some answers on their own. This takes Joe and his friends to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibway.

Louise Erdrich’s novel “The RoundHouse” is very deep and thought provoking. It’s a book that pulls you right into the Coutts family and how a young boy deals with a terrible crime that forever transforms his family. 

(Previously Published on

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

App Review: Fairy Tales for Clever Kids

Fairy Tales for Clever Kids

App Review: Fairytales for Clever Kids
By: Christine McFarlane

Do you need a great way to engage your children, especially when it comes to reading? Technology these days is amazing, and there is one app that you can download from ITunes onto your Iphone, Ipod Touch and/or IPad to help your children with their reading that also involves interacting directly with the story before them.

Fairy Tales for Clever Kids is a great collection of world famous fairy tales that are accompanied by questions and the stories themselves involve dragging and dropping different objects within each scene in the story. While your child is reading, he/she is constantly interacting with the characters of the fairy tale. In order for your child to advance to the next page, they need to answer a small educational question, and in turn this helps stimulate your child's overall reading process.

Within Fairy Tales for Clever Kids you will find

·      Professional illustrating to make the reading enjoyable and unforgettable
·      Educational questions for children about the surrounding world
·      Answers to the question involving moving objects
·      Stories that will help your kid feel right in the middle of the magic world of fairy tales.

Fairy Tales for Clever Kids is available in ITunes under the books section. The first book-The Ugly Duckling is free and you are given a catalogue in your download to go through for other books, such as Cinderella. One glitch that I did find was that the catalogue doesn’t open up as quickly as the book, but then again it could have to do with the speed of my own Internet server.

This app was released on September 19, 2012. Version 1.0 and its size is 39.2 MB. It requires i0S 4.0 or later and is available in the following languages: English, French, German and Russian.  Stanislav Ustymenko at designs Fairy Tales for Clever Kids.

To check out more app developments by Stanislav Ustymenko please visit

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Film Review- Seeking Bimaadiziiwin

Film Review: Seeking Bimaadiziiwin ( Seeking the Good Life)

"Suicide is now among the leading causes of death in First Nations peoples in Canada between the ages of 10-24."

"Seeking Bimaadiziiwin" (Seeking the Good Life) is a 31 minute film meant to be used as a therapeutic tool to promote understanding and start a discussion with youth. It is also an award winning film that illustrates the diversity within modern Anishinaabe culture and demonstrates the resiliency of First Nations people despite the many issues that they face on a regular basis. Issues represented in the film include racism, historic trauma, depression and suicide.

Life on the reserve, family problems and the death of a close friend pushes the main character of this film-Kaitlyn into a deep depression. Following a suicide attempt and a lengthy hospital stay in a city away from her reserve, she goes into group therapy with three other Anishinaabe youth. Though Kaitlyn and the other youth have a long way to go before recovering, the steps they make are enough to make you tear up inside.

Depression, suicide and racism are all very delicate issues but "Seeking Bimaadiziiwin" does a great job of showing the diversity of First Nations youth, and how despite differences in their backgrounds and personal struggles, all the youth  in the film,  learn to find strength and support with each other. Especially poignant is when the youth all go to a drum circle, and you see the smiles on their faces as the drum beat fills the room they're in and they witness the singing and dancing.

This community film project was written by Michelle Derosier of Eagle Lake First Nation (Thunderstone Pictures) and was shot on Super 16mm film for maximum production value and filmed in 2007. 

"Seeking Bimaadiziiwin" was part of a multmedia initiative that includes a documentary and a workbook and was commissioned by the First Nations Initiative organization. The First Nations Initiative organization is dedicated to promoting, celebrating, and enriching First Nations culture and values.

For more information regarding this film, please visit the following link:


And please...don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help if you or a loved one needs it. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

An Exercise in Memory: I Remember

The exercise below comes from my all time favorite book "Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir," written by Natalie Goldberg.

Starting an exercise with "I Remember" for ten minutes hits smack dab into the heart of memoir. It produces a smattering of unconnected memories, and Goldberg relates that  "because memory doesn't work so directly, you need to wake up different angles."

"I Remember" is one of those exercises that wakes up memory in many different ways. Here is what I came up with, after ten minutes of writing.

I Remember:
By: Christine McFarlane

I remember long gray days where the rain wouldn't stop and I just wanted to hide.

I remember tears sliding down my face and trying to compose myself when I heard over the phone that you had passed on.

I remember days where we would sit in comfortable silence. No words were necessary, we were just happy to be with each other. I miss you.

I remember my first cell phone. A gray clunky Motorola that I couldn't just fit into my back pocket like the phone that I have now. Oh remembering that, brings a smile to my face and makes me laugh at how technology used to be and how it has advanced so much.

I remember the day you entered my life and you told me you would always cheer for me because you knew I had the potential to succeed.

I remember my first interview and how I couldn't sit still. My nerves were just shot with the question "will I get this job or not?"

I remember drinking the first extra large coffee from Tim Horton's when they first changed their  cup sizes and how I buzzed around afterwards.

I remember my first cigarette. I didn't even inhale, I thought it made me look cool but now I understand why its so hard to quit something that has become an addiction.

I remember the day I called my sister when I was ten years old and the phone had been disconnected. I felt shattered and all alone. No one understood why.

I remember....I remember....

the memories are plentiful.  some sad, some happy. some making me laugh and some making me cry.

I remember...I remember...

Memories can be hard, but I would rather have some than have none at all.