Vivian De Winter | writer & artist

way back when

Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, my parents moved back to Ontario while I was still quite young. I have a photo of my father, outfitted like a cowboy from a John Wayne movie, standing alongside a few horses.

For the most part, we spent our formative years living in rural areas, on the outskirts of small communities situated in Southwestern Ontario. One property included ten acres of forest. Another with three acres of weeds, trees and a pond.

initial attempts at writing

At the tender age of eleven, I wrote about wild horses, just as you'd expect from a pre-teen girl during the '70's. A story about danger, honour and innocent equine romance.

Two years later, I wrote about getting lost in a forest. Our entire family (six of us) stopped in to view a piece of wooded property that was for sale. We ended up on a dead-end dirt road with the sun disappearing on the horizon and mosquitoes coming out to enjoy their fresh buffet of naive town dwellers.

A helpful stranger drove us back to where we had started out, all the while telling us tales about cougars being spotted in those woods.

My teacher liked the story so much I had to get up in front of the school and read it out loud.

With shaking hands and trembling voice, I recited our tale. Most of my class mates were impressed when I mentioned the cougars.

learning the art of writing…

It’s a life-long journey, not an over-night stop.
I’ve been a reader all of my life. That certainly helps!

During the spring of 2004, I enrolled in a part-time course with Conestoga College in Kitchener, “Writing a Novel.”

Over the course of two years, I completed the first draft and two polishing edits of my first novel.

After receiving rejections in answer to a few queries I’d sent out during the fall of 2006, I’d reached the point where I needed a professional’s objective opinion. I contacted an editor, thinking he’d be able to point out the weak areas in my story. As he was more concerned with grammar and structure, he suggested I enlist the aid of a manuscript evaluator. I’d never even heard of such a service. Evaluators look at the story from a marketing point of view. Will it sell? Why not? Following up on most of the recommendations, I re-worked that manuscript for the next twelve months.

Practicing on that first story gave me the insight I needed to improve my craft and to move forward with the beginnings of a second novel--a strong enough beginning, I gained acceptance into The Humber School for Writers, graduating from the program in 2008.