By Cal Braid
Sunny South News
Summer Fest was in full swing on Main Street and throughout the town when Savannah Wiebe, 12, stepped to the microphone before an audience at the Coaldale Public Library. On Aug. 6, the library featured author readings as part of its summer reading program. For Wiebe, who has already authored two books, it was a brave step to publicly read from one of her novels. Her books are entitled My Horse, One Summer (2020) and Mandy’s Summer (2021), and both she and her sister, Heidi, 11, read the first chapter of Mandy’s Summer during their presentation.
Her parents, Abe and Helena Wiebe were there along with two other siblings. Heidi, a budding artist herself, illustrated Savannah’s first book and their grandma, Marja Kostamo, drew the pictures for the second. The family lives on an acreage and hobby farm in the M.D. of Taber. They lived in Coaldale for the first ten years of Savannah’s life before moving to the farm that they share with their cows, chickens, and horses.
When asked how she began writing, she answered, “Honestly, all I really did was sit in front of my mom’s computer and start typing.” She takes walks to give her mind and imagination space to work, and her mom Helena said, “If she’s gone for an hour and a half, a book’s coming up.” Savannah is currently working on her third book.
At their property, there is room to roam, and Savannah explained her creative process. “When I am out on my walks, I work on these three things above all: characters, setting, and plot,” she said. “For characters, I mostly work on the feelings and the emotions that the character is expressing. Settings can be difficult at times because some of the stories I write take place in different parts of the world. I want to make the settings seem realistic, making sure the readers can understand what these places are like.”
“For the plot, I try to make it interesting so it will catch the reader’s eye. I also add a ‘surprise plot’ for the readers. It is often at the end of the book; it is unsuspected and keeps the book interesting.”
Grandma Kostamo explained her involvement in guiding Savannah’s novels from the editing process to a bound book form. They used Lulu.com, a self-publishing book and e-book company that a writer can use to publish, print, and sell their books worldwide. It’s a print-on-demand network that removes the hassle of carrying inventory. Once a writer signs up, they have access to templates and guides to help them through it.
Kostamo explained, “Once we had the manuscript ready (including illustrations), I downloaded it onto their online publishing site. I did not have to pay anything except the price of a proof book to double-check it over before final publishing. Then we purchased our books at wholesale price to sell them at the price we chose. They are also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble (because we also chose that option, getting an International Standard Book Number), as well as on Lulu’s online bookstore.”
Most artists, young or old, enjoy the creative process for its own sake. In the process, it’s the encouragement and appreciation from others that often sparks a passion for the arts that lasts a lifetime. At 12, Savannah is already an author with a bright future. “After coming in from my walks, I feel satisfied most of the time. I am really happy with my stories.”
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