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Jun. 15, 2019 | Saturday
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Hermine Steinberg: Novelist and founder of NOTL Writer’s Circle Spreads joy of writing
Hermine Steinberg, NOTL Writer's Circle Founder. (Brittany Carter/NiagaraNow)

Hermine Steinberg, a part-time Niagara-on-the-Lake resident and founder of the NOTL Writer’s Circle, uses her words to inspire and effect change. She has been writing for as long as she can remember, unable to recall a time when the craft failed to evoke joy.

Whether it was submitting stories and articles to newspapers and magazines, writing newsletters as a volunteer for organizations, or creating short stories to inspire and educate her children, writing has been present in every phase of Steinberg’s life.

She always manages to infuse writing in her work, she says, even throughout more than a decade in the financial industry, where she became vice-president of corporate development for a commodities firm.

After having her first child she decided to slow down, making the career switch to childhood education. She says she’s grateful she did.

“I love working with young people and they inspired me every day, and hopefully I inspired them a bit.”

Her love of writing is evident through her passion for the NOTL Writer’s Circle, which she founded in 2013 to connect with the community and to provide a forum to workshop her own and other’s writing.

With her husband, Barry, she bought a house in NOTL 10 years ago, planning to spend vacations and holidays in town. Residing in Toronto, she travels back and forth for family obligations. She says she considers this town her home, noting the contrast between life in Toronto and time spent in NOTL.

It wasn’t until the Writer’s Circle was formed that Steinberg truly understood the wealth of knowledge and artistic talent NOTL residents possess.

“There are so many creative people in this town and so many people are connected to the arts. So many of our members are talented in so many different ways,” Steinberg says, recalling the various forms of artistic expression she’s witnessed.

“They do visual arts, they write. Some act and other things. They teach. It was quite a surprise to me, though, and we’ve been growing ever since (the group began).”

Steinberg, wanting to acknowledge all the organizations supporting and making the Writer’s Circle a possibility, and the exceptional members who make the group what it is, had to stop listing them off — or she would have to name them all, she says.

With 64 members now, she says the group takes an active role in the community.

“We have participated annually in the Strawberry Festival and were active during the (Canada) 150.”

With one novel under her belt, The Co-Walkers: Awakening, a story published in 2011 geared toward mid-grade children in the 10 to 14 age range, Steinberg is working on two more manuscripts simultaneously, both of which are nearing completion, she says.

The first is a sequel to Co-Walkers. The second is geared toward the older young adult genre, with some more mature themes.

Co-walkers started as a short story that grew into a novel. She says she slowly kept adding to the story until she realized it had grown into something she could publish. The book is dedicated to her four children.

“At the time three of them were with us – Ashley, Brian and Matthew – which the characters are named after. When I wrote the first version of the short story, they were 11, nine and seven respectively. It is dedicated to all our kids – including Jillian, our eldest.”

She wants to inspire kids with her writing. Through the Writer’s Circle annual contest, Rising Spirits, one aspect of which focuses on youth writing, she also wants to encourage them to demonstrate their own unique talents by giving them a voice through creative writing. She says that’s something kids are lacking these days – they don’t have an effective outlet to be heard.

“I think kids really need a place to express themselves beyond a couple hundred words. I think fiction is also a great place where they can express themselves safely.”

The contest has been running annually since the Writer’s Circle’s second year. This year, Steinberg says the group is changing the timetable of the contest to better align with the school schedule.

“We will be launching/announcing a bit later in the year and the deadline for submissions will be at the beginning of December. The celebration will be in early 2020.”

Long ago, Steinberg says she discovered it was important to hone personal uniqueness and allow herself the ability to be herself. Writing has helped her achieve that, she says. It has given her an outlet to work through anything that has come up throughout her life. Concerned about the state of the world and focused on educating herself on the latest issues, she frequents seminars and conferences. Eager for constant education, she is never short of opinions of how society can improve and how we can leave a better world for the next generation.

In spending so much time writing, it’s difficult to conceal her thoughts and feelings, she says. Family keeps her grounded, though. No matter what happens around her, she says she can always come back to family. Her three grandkids rejuvenate her, she says. “I call them my crack,” noting that she feels invigorated and restored after spending time with them. 

The Writer’s Circle meets twice a month in the Rotary Room of the NOTL Public Library from 2 to 4 p.m. For dates of meetings and events, or to join the group, visit the NOTL Writer’s Circle website.

A public reading will be held on April 28 during the scheduled meeting. On May 25, a workshop will be facilitated by editor/writer/creative writing instructor Brian Henry.

Steinberg’s novel, The Co-Walkers, can be found in the NOTL Public Library. It is also available for purchase through her website and Amazon. 

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