Haliburton resident, Deborah J Reed, has put her last 12 months of waiting into preparing another book.

It wasn’t COVID that kept Reed busy writing this time around. Instead, it was a full year of dividing her days between temporary shelter in West Guilford and her flat in Toronto, as she and her partner waited for their house to be rebuilt after a fire last year.

Reed said the fire claimed almost everything she and her partner owned, so she focused on fiction.

After an art collective she belongs to suggested last November’s creative challenge be a read-aloud piece of flash fiction (a complete story of extreme brevity), Reed composed a piece and called it Unchained Melody.

“This little story, also shared aloud on CanoeFM, relates a tense moment in the life of a city 10-year-old,” Reed said.

She added she enjoyed the initial flash fiction assignment so much, she carried on writing until 31 more little stories were completed and make up the new book, Instant Soup.

Reed said it’s, “a thoughtful collection of tales and editorials, with my own black and white illustrations, based on almost everyone and everything I’ve ever encountered. Many settings involve cottage country, and my special love of simplicity here.”

Speaking of simplicity, she added that each story contains only and exactly 500 words.

As for the title, Reed said it is “so that each ‘flavour’ can be sipped on, briefly visited, and slightly felt. These are simple and varied scenarios about life itself, and would nicely serve a class of literature students, or a mind which still loves books but can’t focus for too long these days, or an out-loud reader who appreciates a good discussion.”

As for the project helping her to heal from the house fire, Reed said, “healing because it distracted me, and kind of kept me company as a project I could work on anywhere I went with my phone.”

Reed majored in literature at the University of Toronto, and taught ESL, French, and mostly Grade 5s for 31 years. She’s written and contributed to the illustrations of three other books, Field Hooky, Ontario Wizard and Rhymes with Haliburton, and continues to compile her newer poetry for a second volume.

Instant Soup is available at The Rails End Gallery & Arts Centre, Master’s Book Store, Rowan and Oak, Organic Times and online at Amazon.