My world of writing...

By Loretta H Houben


The world of books has always fascinated me. From an early age I've been intrigued with stories of people, both fictional and real, and the worlds in which they dwell. All types of scenarios catch my imagination; mystery, fantasy, true life, romance, and children's stories.
Yes, I never tire of reading children's stories, whether it's Harry Potter or Anne of Green Gables. My dream when I was twelve years old was either to be a children's book writer, or a book illustrator.

I majored in Art in High School, but never went on to further my education in that subject. A business career and marriage intervened. And although I feverishly wrote my innermost thoughts in a journal since the tender age of ten, I never thought of furthering my writing goals until the 1990's, when a few letters I wrote to a  community paper happened to be published, and I thought my name looked rather nice in print. But I didn't follow my dream of writing until the year 2000, when it struck me with force that I was turning 40 that June, and unless I began to follow my heart's desire, I wouldn't get one thing published in my life time. While pondering that profound thought, I flipped through my mass of junk mail one day in March, and I noticed a little piece of paper with the question: Do you have what it takes to write?

I sure didn't know the answer to that, but the little piece of paper asked a few questions that encouraged me to try by taking their little test. "They" turned out to be the Institute of Children's Literature located in West Redding, CT. The article assured me that I had nothing to lose; the teachers only chose people who would pass the test and they wouldn't waste my time or my money if I had no talent.

I sent the test off and waited. I didn't expect any reply. Lo and behold, I received one, saying that I had passed the test and the Institute would love to have me for a student. After debating with myself, I signed up for the course, which usually is finished within two years. I sent my first assignment off in August 2000, and waited with some anxiety for the reply.

It took me 2 1/2 years to finish the course. I graduated in May 2003. I was pleased with the instructor's help, and with the course material. I learned a lot from it and would truly recommend it for anyone interested in pursuing a writing dream at their own pace. Check out their link: Institute for Children's Literature


My printed articles:

The year 2000 was a special one. The city of Vancouver initiated a V2K project, and asked for stories from Vancouverites. I submitted an article online, which was put on CD, on a website, and in a book; Hurricane in the Basement. You may view my story here: Portrait V2K. To the left, in the sidebar, click on "View Stories and Photos". Under "Enter Keyword and click Search", put in my full name, Loretta Houben. My story will appear, along with the photo. The editor of the book wished to have my photo included in the book,  but the design editor said there was no room. However, I'm delighted to have this story in a book, which is still being sold at Vancouver bookstores!

In July 2002 I entered an online contest for Vancouver's local PNE (Pacific National Exhibition). They were asking for favourite memories so I submitted mine. In August I was contacted by phone and my story was chosen along with 2 others as being the best out of thousands, and my prize was a special day at the PNE; special VIP treatment, free parking, and free all day ride tickets. The total value was worth $260.00. It was a day to remember!

In December 2004 I was interviewed by a local newspaper, The Vancouver Courier. A letter I had written about a water conservation problem in the area was looked into, and a reporter came and took my photo. Here is the article: December 8th 2004

More news...


I made it my goal this year to produce two published articles. That dream has come true! On May 1st I received my first cheque for an article I wrote for the Institute for Children's Literature. Here is the link:
My local critique group has been an immense help to me, so I felt qualified to submit an article about critique groups to the ICL. I queried first and the editor informed me that such articles were needed. The link will be available until April 2007.
I am a member of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and also the web mistress for the Canada West group. In April 2006 we published our first newsletter for our Canadian chapter. I am the editor and the April edition was my first attempt at publishing in PDF format. Without my husband Robert's helpful assistance I can say it wouldn't happen! 
Western Tale Spinner Spring 2007


Renfrew Collingwood
Community News
June 2006

In May 2006 I attended the 50th anniversary of my elementary school, Sir Wilfred Grenfell in Vancouver BC. I enjoyed the event and asked the editor of our local newspaper if he would be interested in an article and photos about it. He said yes, and so I wrote a few paragraphs and submitted six photos by email.
The edition came out June 1st, and I picked up a copy at the neighbourhood coffee shop. There was my article on the back page, with two photos. It was exciting to see my name in print in the local paper.

I am interested in our neighbourhood history and am currently working on more articles.



An article I wrote titled "A Nasty Neighbourhood Nemesis" was published in the March 2007 edition of the Renfrew Collingwood News. It contains information about the European Chaffer Beetle, and the devastating effect it's having in Vancouver and the surrounding towns. Also included are two photos I took.









Copyright 2009
LH Houben