Tuesday, August 14, 2018

How to Build Your Story – Plotting novels & Writing short stories, Saturday, Nov 24, in Alliston


How to Build Your Story
Plotting novels & Writing short stories
Saturday, November 24, 2018
10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
New Tecumseth Public Library, Memorial Branch, 17 Victoria St. E, Alliston, Ontario  (Map here.)

This workshop will show you how writers plot a novel and will give you the best tips on writing short stories. We’ll also look at where to get your stories published and how to win contests. Best yet, you’ll see how to apply the story-building techniques you’ve learned to your own writing.

Workshop leader Brian Henry  has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University, and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.
See reviews of Brian's classes and workshops here.

Fee: $43.36 + 13% hst = $49paid in advance by mail or Interac
or $46.90 + 13% hst = $53 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s complete current schedule here including writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Six Canadian literary agents at CookeMcDermid looking for authors

The Dutch Wife by Ellen Keith,
represented by CookeMcDermid

CookeMcDermid Literary Management
320 Front St. W., Suite 1105
Toronto, Ontario

CookeMcDermid was created in 2017 by the amalgamation of two preeminent Canadian agencies, The Cooke Agency and The McDermid Agency. CookeMcDermid is a full-service literary agency representing authors of literary, commercial and speculative fiction; a broad range of narrative nonfiction; health, wellness and lifestyle resources; and middle-grade and young adult books.
CookeMcDermid represents more than 300 writers, among them Man Booker nominees, Giller and Governor General’s award–winning authors, prize-winning journalists, New York Times bestsellers and some of the literary world’s most notable names, including: Jen Agg, Omar el Akkad, Deborah Campbell, Michael Crummey, Robyn Doolittle, John Irving, Rupi Kaur, Scaachi Koul, Karen Le Billon, Geddy Lee, Robert Munsch, Jordan B. Peterson, Alison Pick, Andrew Pyper, Bob Rae, Nino Ricci, David Adams Richards, Amy Stuart, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Jeff VanderMeer, Sarah Waters, and Jesse Wente.
There are nine agents with CookeMcDermid including:

Paige Sisley joined CookeMcDermid (then The Cooke Agency) in June 2013 following an internship and is now an associate agent. Paige has her Master of Arts from Ryerson University's Literatures of Modernity program and a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of King's College and Dalhousie.
Paige is currently building her list as a keen and market-focused reader. When it comes to fiction she is looking for smart, well-written commercial novels that both entertain and have something to say (e.g. Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies and Eliza Kennedy’s I Take You). She’s seeking books that can compete with Netflix for people’s time, but that someone like Reese Witherspoon might in turn be interested in adapting for Netflix.
Paige also represents nonfiction books in the lifestyle and health and wellness space. In both categories, Paige is attracted to books that enhance lives, either through a practical application or by shifting and expanding their reader’s worldview.
When Paige’s head isn’t in a book you can find her baking, at a concert, or simply watching the world go by in her busy downtown Toronto neighborhood. A born and bred Torontonian, Paige loves to travel and has also lived in LA, a sleepy New Zealand surf town, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. She's on Twitter here.
In the subject line, you must include “Author Query” are welcome to include the first 4 pages of your manuscript pasted into the query. No attachments. Please do not send any further material unless invited.. Full submission guidelines here.

Note: Paige will be the guest speaker at the How to Get Published workshop Saturday, August 18, 2018, in Collingwood. Details here

Rachel Letofsky joined the Cooke Agency in 2010 and is now an associate agent. She frequently travels throughout Canada and the US to various writer’s festivals and literary events such as Bloody Words, PNWA, CanSCAIP, SiWC, VWF, NorthWords and Quick Brown Fox workshops.
Rachel is actively seeking ground-breaking and heart-breaking middle grade and young adult titles in all genres. She is drawn to works with a whimsical nature or a grounded, gritty edge in equal measure, though in either instance, unforgettable characters and original concepts are a must. Rachel also has a natural soft-spot for exquisite literary fiction.
In nonfiction, Rachel is looking for narrative-driven memoirs, and anything quirky and life-affirming. Rachel is particularly committed to working with previously unpublished authors in a focused, collaborative and hands-on manner.
Read an extended interview with Rachel here.
In the subject line, you must include “Author Query” are welcome to include the first 4 pages of your manuscript pasted into the query. No attachments. Please do not send any further material unless invited.. Full submission guidelines here.

Ron Eckel is a literary agent at Cooke-McDermid and co-owner of Cooke International, an agency specializing in foreign rights management for a diverse group of publishing clients. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s Master of Publishing program and a twenty-year veteran of Canadian publishing. Ron worked with Penguin Group Canada, Westwood Creative Artists, and Random House of Canada before joining CookeMcDermid and Cooke International. 
As an agent Ron is particularly drawn to dark fiction, both commercial and literary, in the areas of horror, suspense, and psychological thriller. 
On the nonfiction side, Ron loves pop culture, entertainment, music, pop science, and story-driven current affairs. 
Ron’s client list at CookeMcDermid includes bestselling author Scaachi Koul, CBC Radio columnist and pop-culture critic Jesse Wente, RUSH bassist and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Geddy Lee, and horror writers Eric McCormack and Michael Rowe. On his bedside table you will find equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction, but always, always at least one biography (authorized or not) of the Ramones.
Ron is the sitting Vice-President of PACLA (the Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents) and you can find him on Twitter @roneckel.
In the subject line, you must include “Author Query” are welcome to include the first 4 pages of your manuscript pasted into the query. No attachments. Please do not send any further material unless invited. Full submission guidelines here.

Suzanne Brandreth is an agent with CookeMcDermid and a co-owner of Cooke International, an agency specializing in foreign rights management for a diverse group of publishing clients. She has worked in publishing for over 20 years, as an independent bookseller, an editor, and, since 2003, an agent. 
Suzanne has close working relationships around the world, frequently travels to New York and London, and has participated in numerous publishing fellowships in Frankfurt, Jerusalem, Taiwan, Turin, and the United Arab Emirates. Suzanne is a hands-on agent and works with her clients to brainstorm and fine-tune book ideas and substantively edit proposals or manuscripts before submission. 
Whether literary or commercial novels or evidence-based and narrative nonfiction, Suzanne seeks stories that challenge the mind and/or move the heart. She is the agent for Rupi Kaur’s international bestseller the sun and her flowers, CS Richardson’s perennial bestseller The End of the Alphabet, and Emily White’s ground-breaking LonelyLearning to Live with Solitude.
Query Suzanne at: submissions@cookemcdermid.com
In the subject line, you must include “Author Query” are welcome to include the first 4 pages of your manuscript pasted into the query. No attachments. Please do not send any further material unless invited. Full submission guidelines here.

Chris Bucci represents bestselling authors such as Bob Rae, Timothy Caulfield, Susan Delacourt, Jowita Bydlowdka, James Grainger, and Kerri Sakamoto.
Chris began his career at the University of Toronto Press and soon became an acquisitions editor in social sciences and cultural studies. Chris joined HarperCollins Canada in 2003 as a nonfiction editor. Moving to McClelland & Stewart in 2004, Chris helped revitalize their nonfiction program, establishing relationships with international authors, agents and publishers.
Chris represents both fiction and nonfiction. In particular, he’s looking for  literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, commercial literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. For nonfiction, he seeks popular science, sports, popular culture, politics, essays, and history.
In the subject line, you must include “Author Query” are welcome to include the first 4 pages of your manuscript pasted into the query. No attachments. Please do not send any further material unless invited. Full submission guidelines here.

Martha Webb is a literary agent and part owner of CookeMcDermid. She represents a wide range of booksbut her list focuses primarily on literary fiction, narrative nonfiction (including memoir and true crime) and ideas-driven nonfiction. She is especially drawn to approaches that are thought-provoking, controversial, change the conversation on a given subject or have a positive impact on people’s lives.
Her clients include Jen Agg, Michael Crummey, Robyn Doolittle, Cathal Kelly, Tima Kurdi, Saleema Nawaz, Pasha Malla, Zoey Leigh Peterson, and Shannon Lee Simmons.
In the subject line, you must include “Author Query” are welcome to include the first 4 pages of your manuscript pasted into the query. No attachments. Please do not send any further material unless invited. Full submission guidelines here.

Author Kira Vermond
If you’re interested in getting published, soon or somewhere down the road, don’t miss upcoming  How to Get Published workshops on Saturday, Aug 18, in Collingwood with literary agent Paige Sisley (see here) and Saturday, Nov 17, in Mississauga with literary agent Stephanie Sinclair (see here). 
For updated listing of How to Get Published workshops, see here (and scroll down).

If you’re interested in Writing for Children & for Young Adults, Brian Henry will lead a mini-conference with Yasemin U├žar, senior editor at Kids Can Press, children’s author Kira Vermond, and YA author Tanaz Bhathena, Saturday, Sept 22, in Oakville (see here), a Writing Kid Lit weekly course on Friday afternoons, Oct 5 – Nov 30 in Toronto (see here), and a Writing for Children & for Young Adults workshop Saturday, October 12, in Sudbury (see here).
For updated listings of Writing for Children & for Young adult workshops and for weekly Kid lit classes, see here (and scroll down).

Also coming soon: Writing Conflict: Fight scenes, Dialogue scenes & Love scenes, Saturday, Sept 15, in Toronto (see here), and Writing and Revising, Saturday, Sept 29, in St. Catharines (see here)

New: November at the Briar’s Writing Retreat, Friday, Nov 2 – Sunday, Nov 4. Three days to put up your feet, recharge your creative batteries, and get some great writing tips – all in the supportive company of your fellow writers. Details here.

This September, Brian is leading a full roster of courses, Introductory to Intense (Details of all six courses here):
Welcome to Creative Writing, Thursday, afternoons, Sept 27 - Nov 9, in Oakville. See here.
Writing Personal Stories, Thursday evenings, Oct 4 – Nov 29, in Burlington. See here.
Writing Kid Lit, Friday afternoons, Oct 5 – Nov 30, in Toronto. See here.
And Intensive Creative Writing, offered in three locales:
Tuesday afternoons, Sept 25 – Nov 27 (first readings emailed Sept 18), in Burlington. See here.
Wednesday evenings Sept 26 – Dec 5 (first readings emailed Sept 19), in Georgetown. See here.
Friday mornings Sept 28 – Nov 30 (first readings emailed Sept 21), in Toronto. See here
See details of all six courses here.

To reserve a spot in any workshop, or weekly course, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca
Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops here.

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Navigation tips: Always check out the labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. Also, if you're searching for a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post.           

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks, reviewed by Debra Porter


Published by Knopf Canada, October 2017. Available  in hard cover for $20.37; in Kobo e-book for $12.99; audio for $14.99 here.

I just finished Tom Hanks’ book of short stories. I’m a big fan of his, both as an actor and a human being, so I was anxious to see if it was any good. Short stories are also my favourite genre to write, which made me doubly curious.
The book title is completely apt. Not only are they good, unique stories, they range from being set in the 1950s to several years in the future, and each story mentions a typewriter. Sometimes it’s crucial to the plot, but more often you just catch the reference in passing. It took me a few stories to notice.
I enjoyed “Uncommon Type” as an audio book read by the author and felt this was the ideal way to experience it. When books are read by the authors, I get a much better sense of the message they want to get across.
The stories could be enjoyed as stand alone pieces, but there were some linked ones, starting from the first story, “Three Exhausting Weeks.” There were four characters introduced here that recur twice more in the book, MDash, Anna, Steve Wong and an unnamed narrator. They also appear in “Alan Bean Plus Four” and “Steve Wong is Perfect.”
I felt the weakest of these was, “Alan Bean Plus Four.” It speaks to Hank's well know obsession with all things space related, but I couldn’t summon up the suspension of disbelief required to truly enjoy this one.
On the other hand, I did like “Steve Wong is Perfect” and it is set in various bowling alleys which are not places where I would expect a short story to receive life.
 The other linked pieces, “Our Town Today by Hank Fiset” are formatted like newspaper columns. They were enjoyable and provided a breather on a couple of levels. The rest of the stories were quite long and some dealt with difficult circumstances; these ones were lighter in tone and shorter.
If I were to try to pick a favourite, it would be a draw between “A Special Weekend” and “A Month on Greene Street.” Totally different perspectives, an almost 10-year-old boy and a newly divorced single Mom, but they were quiet, character-driven works.
An added attraction to the audio version of the book was the final piece, “Stay With Us.” It was set up as a radio program rather than a short story read by Hanks. He incorporated other actors playing the characters,  including Peter Scolari, Holland Taylor, Peter Gerety and Wilmer Valderrama.
Overall, I thought this collection was strong, Hanks touched on themes of love, betrayal, family, war and where we might evolve as humans in the future. He also wrote from various points of view including both male and female at different stages of life.
Some of the stories were humorous, some were straight up drama, others a blend of the two, but they were good examples of the short story genre.

Note:  Quick Brown Fox always welcomes your book reviews (or any kind of review). You can read an essay about how to write a book review here and see guidelines about submitting reviews of any kind to Quick Brown Fox here
QBF also welcomes essays about a favourite book or your experience of reading or writing. Read a few essays on the blog to get a taste of what other writers have done (see here and scroll down), write your own, and submit it to me atbrianhenry@sympatico.ca

Debra Porter has been writing short stories for several years, but thought she’d try something different, hence this book review, her first. Debra is looking to further branch out when she takes Brian Henry’s “Writing Personal Stories” course starting in October.

See Brian’s complete current schedule here including writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, August 10, 2018

On Aug 18, join us in cottage country for: How to Get Published with literary agent Paige Sisley of the CookeMcDermid agency

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline,
represented by CookeMcDermid
The Collingwood Public Library presents....
How to Get Published
An editor & a literary agent tell all
Saturday, August 18, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 4:00
Collingwood Public Library, 55 Ste Marie St, Collingwood, Ontario (Map here)
If it's past Aug 18, you can see details of upcoming "How to Get Published" workshops here (and scroll down).

If you've ever dreamed of becoming a published author, this workshop is for you. We’ll cover everything from getting started to getting an agent, from getting your short pieces published to finding a book publisher, from writing a query letter to writing what the publishers want. Bring your questions. Come and get ready to be published!

Special Option: Participants are invited to bring a draft of a query letter you might use to interest an agent or publisher in your book. You don’t need to bring anything, but if you do, three copies could be helpful.

And be sure to bring your elevator pitch! Following the end of the formal workshop at about 3:45, Brian Henry will be staying for at least half an hour and helping interested attendees, who didn’t have their queries critiqued earlier, write query letters that will get a yes, while literary agent Paige Sisley will be listening to your pitches. Agents come to these events wanting to hear what you’ve got and hoping to find authors they want to represent.

Guest speaker, Paige Sisley, is a literary agent with the  CookeMcDermid agency, a new company formed through the amalgamation of The Cooke Agency and The McDermid Agency.
CookeMcDermid represents more than 300 writers, among them Man Booker nominees, Giller and Governor General’s award–winning authors, prize-winning journalists, New York Times bestsellers and some of the literary world’s most notable names, including: Jen Agg, Omar el Akkad, Deborah Campbell, Michael Crummey, Robyn Doolittle, John Irving, Rupi Kaur, Scaachi Koul, Karen Le Billon, Geddy Lee, Robert Munsch, Jordan B. Peterson, Alison Pick, Andrew Pyper, Bob Rae, Nino Ricci, David Adams Richards, Amy Stuart, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Jeff VanderMeer, Sarah Waters, and Jesse Wente.
Paige joined CookeMcDermid (then The Cooke Agency) in June 2013 following an internship. Paige has her Master of Arts from Ryerson University's Literatures of Modernity program and a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of King's College and Dalhousie.
American War by Omar el Akkad,
represented by CookeMcDermid
Paige is currently building her list as a keen and market-focused reader. When it comes to fiction she is looking for smart, well-written commercial novels that both entertain and have something to say (e.g. Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies and Eliza Kennedy’s I Take You). She’s seeking books that can compete with Netflix for people’s time, but that someone like Reese Witherspoon might in turn be interested in adapting for Netflix.
Paige also represents nonfiction books in the lifestyle and health and wellness space. In both categories, Paige is attracted to books that enhance lives, either through a practical application or by shifting and expanding their reader’s worldview.
When Paige’s head isn’t in a book you can find her baking, at a concert, or simply watching the world go by in her busy downtown Toronto neighborhood. A born and bred Torontonian, Paige loves to travel and has also lived in LA, a sleepy New Zealand surf town, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. She's on Twitter here.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishesQuick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University, and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors. 
See reviews of Brian's classes and workshops here.
Fee: 43.36 + 13% hst = 49 paid in advance by mail or Interac
or 46.90 + 13% hst = 53 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

“The Next Big Thing” a review of a gallery showing by Amir Yani



It’s been three years since I last visited an art gallery, so I’m not exactly a professional critic. In 2015, I attended an exhibit with my art history class to see various works of art from past eras. I didn’t enjoy it much at that time.

Last week, I got a chance to visit The Next Big Thing, a show at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre art gallery. This time I went with my creative writing class and I was given the opportunity to view contemporary art made by young, aspiring artists. I enjoyed these modern pieces a lot more than the historical ones I saw before, as most of the art was inspired by present day events and political issues. I particularly liked the image of artist Sage Szkabarnicki-Stuart, which depicted her draped in a garbage-bag swimsuit surrounded by numerous other plastic bags.

Foreground: "Musikbox" by Katja Sporri
Large portrait: "Subhash" by Michelle Peraza
As she lies in the dark, polluted water, it appears she’s no different than the waste surrounding her. It really makes you think of how carelessly people pollute the very same environment in which we live and breathe. 

I found the image of her lying still, seemingly dead, very powerful. To me, the image shows that, while pollution can easily be ignored, something as valuable as a human being’s life stands out much more. Sage manages to deliver a strong message through a single photo, beautifully captured, with each item carefully placed in the frame.

The other works of art were also very creative with each artist having their own unique style. This gave a nice overall diversity to the show, as each piece offered something different. Since we visited the gallery after hours and we had the place to ourselves, the atmosphere was very relaxing and we were given enough time to examine each piece thoroughly. 

Each work of art was also accompanied by a short description to give visitors more information about the artists and their work. One suggestion I recommend that would enhance the mood in the gallery is the addition of calm, soothing music to further immerse visitors in the experience.

Overall, I thought the class trip to see The Next Big Thing was a great experience. Wandering around the exhibit and examining the different works of art helped expand my creativity by taking in inspiration from these talented artists. I would recommend visiting this gallery to anyone who appreciates contemporary art and prefers a cozier atmosphere rather than a large, crowded exhibit.

Note: The Next Big Thing runs through to August 18, 2018, at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre Gallery. Details here.

Amir Yani is an aspiring journalist currently living in Mississauga, Ontario. He discovered his passion for writing in high school. Amir enjoys writing reviews and sharing his opinions about his hobbies and personal experiences. He recently graduated from McMaster University with a Commerce degree and is now pursuing a career in writing.


See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond