Monday, October 14, 2019

Finding Your Voice workshop, Saturday, March 7, in Burlington


Finding Your Voice
Saturday, March 7, 2020
1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Road,  Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)

If you do any kind of creative writing, fiction or nonfiction, this workshop is for you. What do publishers and agents all look for? Voice. We’ll tackle the nitty-gritty of creating a voice that’s all you while avoiding common errors that the drain life from your prose.
You’ll see how to put words on paper in a way that will grip the reader’s imagination, and you'll discover how to make your writing more vivid, more elegant and more powerful.

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 Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.
See reviews of Brian’s weekly courses, weekend retreats and Saturday workshops here

Fee: $37.17 + hst = $42 paid in advance or $39.82 + hst = $45 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.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Intensive Creative Writing courses, Jan 15 – March 11 in Burlington and Jan 17 – March 13 in Toronto


Intensive Creative Writing
Offered in two locations:
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
January 15 – March 11, 2020
First reading emailed Jan 8
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Road Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Friday mornings, 10:15 – 12:30
January 17 – March 13, 2020
First reading emailed Jan 10
Glenview Church, Bethlehem Room, 1 Glenview Ave,  Toronto, Ontario (Map here.)
Intensive Creative Writing isn't for beginners; it's for people who have been writing for a while or who have done a course or two before and are working on their own projects. Over the twelve weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in five pieces of your writing for detailed feedback – including three longer pieces. All your pieces may be from the same work, such as a novel in progress, or they may be stand alone pieces. You bring whatever you want to work on. 
Besides critiquing pieces, the instructor will give short lectures addressing the needs of the group, and in addition to learning how to critique your own work and receiving constructive suggestions about your writing, you’ll discover that the greatest benefits come from seeing how your classmates approach and critique a piece of writing and how they write and re-write. This is a challenging course, but extremely rewarding.
Instructor 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 Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published. 
Read a review of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

Fee: $184.96 + 13% hst = $209
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, 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.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

“A Murder of Crows” by Deborah Stock



There were 47 of them. They looked like sentinels in long black jackets, perched along the fence and dotting the Manitoba Maple in the corner of the yard.
Agnes grabbed a bucket and filled it with peanuts that she had stored in a large Rubbermaid garbage can. The can stood beside a door that led to the backyard. She hobbled out the door, across the deck and down to a crispy patch of anemic grass. The crows watched as she scattered the peanuts and then as she shuffled back onto the deck. It wasn’t until she dropped into a rusty lawn chair that the crows parachuted amongst the peanuts, squawking violently as they foraged their daily treat.
Roger was still inside the house. He stood tentatively on the opposite side of the screen door, a little freaked out by the scene that was unfolding.
It was a call, yesterday, from a neighbour that prompted Agnes’s nephew Roger to check on his old aunt.
“I hope you don’t mind, I got your number from your old girlfriend, Michelle.” She said “Michelle” like it was a question. “She’s my hairdresser’s neighbour’s cousin.”
This was how Mrs. Cheeseman began when she’d called him yesterday.
“The neighbours are awfully worried,” she’d said.
And now he could see why.
He’d let himself in when his aunt didn’t respond to the doorbell. His jeans draped over his legs like deflated balloons hanging limply from a string and he’d hiked them up over exposed Blue Jays boxers and skinny ankles as he navigated his way over heaps of unread mail, yellowed newspapers – and who could be sure what else. Taking off his Nikes hadn’t even crossed his mind.  
He found her in the small bedroom in the front corner of the house with the curtains blacking out the morning sun. In the dim light, he could see the single bed pressed up against the wall and mounded with bunched up clothing and plastic bags stuffed with more plastic bags. Dotted throughout the heap was a cacophony of random items: a dishpan, a carjack, assorted scraps of paper, a bunch of tin pie plates, a flattened Bran Flakes box, a golf club.
It briefly crossed his mind that he’d never known his aunt to play golf.
She was sitting in a threadbare recliner in the corner of a bedroom, flanked by a couple of TV trays piled high with moldy tea cups and crusted over soup bowls with sour milky spoons stuck to their edges. Empty cookie packages had been dropped amongst the crumbs that littered the floor around her feet. The glow of a tiny television illuminated her in a ghostly blue light, eerily accentuating the deep furrows on her somber face and setting her stringy grey hair ablaze.
“Aunt Agnes, it’s me Roger.” He had yelled to be heard over the staticky din of Suzanne Somers demonstrating a ThighMaster. “Just came by to say hi.” A weak smile hadn’t quite disguised his consternation, and it took some work to choke down the nausea being churned up by the dense rancid air.
Aunt Agnes had never really cared for Roger and she’d never worried about letting him know it. As far as she was concerned, he was completely lacking. She’d always compared him to a button hole: okay for the smallest of tasks but, without a button to help him out, he was useless. A zipper had a lot more pizazz and was entirely self-sufficient – and a zipper didn’t leave any gaps.
Roger’s older brother, William, was a zipper.
This was one of the reasons Roger had been avoiding her. The scant bit of self-esteem he clung to struggled hard enough already to keep him going; it didn’t need another kick in the head.
The last time he saw Agnes was at the funeral of her sister, Celia. At that time, she was her classically adorned, pink lipstick-ed, seamlessly bouffant-ed, surly self. He wasn’t sure what had possessed him when he’d decided to embrace her. It was something he’d played over and over in his mind since it happened. Had he simply acted out of obligation? A socially normalized conveyance of sympathy done without ulterior motive? Or was he hoping beyond hope that their mutual grief about the loss of the gentle-hearted Celia would somehow reach beyond their years of discord and finally melt away her disdain for him?
It turned out exactly how he would’ve expected had he given it proper forethought. The embrace was met with a stiff, stone-faced silence. When he let go of her, she literally brushed the Roger off her suit dress, smoothed back her hair, cleared her throat and then turned abruptly away from him. When he was out of her line of vision, her countenance swiftly transformed and she scurried, grinning and gushing into the Gucci-suited arms of William. Roger stood alone, sensing the humiliating gaze of empathetic onlookers and once again felt pathetic.
So now -- even beyond the strange and disturbing circumstances in which he now found his old aunt -- he was stunned when she turned toward him and broke out in a huge scraggly-toothed grin.
“Roger! I’m so happy to see you! You’re just in time.”


She wiggled her way clumsily out of the recliner, shuffled through the litter to where he stood and grabbed him by the hand. She chattered gleefully about this, that and the other thing as she pulled the perplexed Roger through the house. As they moved further from the noise of the television and made their way into the kitchen, Roger began to hear the piercing squawks coming from the back yard.
“Come and meet my friends,” she said.
Roger’s breath caught in his throat when he spotted the massive cluster of birds through the kitchen window. He pulled his hand free from Agnes’s arthritic grip and stepped back. He was not a fan of birds of any kind, much less creepy beady-eyed, cackling evil ones.
“It was just that one, at first.” She pointed with her gnarled finger toward the fence. “I heard him tapping at my window. Called him Edgar – you know, as in Poe?” She searched his face for acknowledgement but his stare was blank.
“Like the raven…in the poem?”
Again. Blank.
Once upon a midnight dreary?”
Nothing.
She sighed and carried on.
“Anyway, there were 47 of them when I counted the other day! Can you believe it?”
When she grabbed the bucket of peanuts and headed outside, Roger considered stepping out and pulling her back to safety, but then the funeral came to mind. Instead, he quickly reached over and pulled the door closed behind her. He watched through the screen with his mouth agape, hugging himself with wobbly arms, playing in his mind what he should do if things began to go horribly wrong. He held his breath as she completed her task.
When she returned to the deck to watch the birds feast, she noticed him hiding behind the screen door.
“Oh Roger,” she said. “They’re perfectly harmless. Don’t be a ninny.”
Roger stayed where he was. “Well, yeah, I see they really do seem to be appreciating the peanuts,” he tittered.
He was completely unconvinced that these birds were harmless. In fact, it crossed his mind that this uncharacteristically affable demeaner of Agnes’s was just a ploy to draw him out there into the yard so that they could attack him. Wouldn’t she just love that? To see him being pecked to pieces by these creepy creatures.
When the peanuts were devoured and the birds headed back to the trees, Agnes grabbed a nearby rake and ventured back down to the lawn where she commenced raking up the peanut shells. He knew she would look more favorably upon him if he went and helped her but the birds continued to linger in the trees so he stayed where he was.
“Roger, could you be a dear and fill that bucket up with peanuts again. I think they’re still hungry.” She smiled sweetly.
Panic gripped him and he swallowed his gum. This would be another one of those complicated tests of manhood. Time to buck up, he decided. He eased the screen door open and, reaching with his leg, he hooked the bucket onto his foot, pulled it into the house and quickly shut the door. He filled the bucket, steadied himself --- And then, heart pounding, brow sopping, in one swift and breathless motion he charged intrepidly out the door and down the steps with peanuts in tow.
It was just as he got to the bottom of the steps that he realized that the hastiness with which he lunged out the door and down the steps had startled the waiting crows. They blackened the air around him, screeching and swooping and diving at his head.
“Roger, you idiot!” He could hear Agnes’s squawks as clearly as those of the birds. “What the..? You stupid nincompoop, button hole ….”
That was all he heard because at that point he flung the peanuts into the air where they flew toward Aunt Agnes who was shaking her rake viciously at Roger. The crows snatched some of the peanuts out of the air. Some peanuts landed on the lawn. But many landed on top of Aunt Agnes. They were caught in her hair and on her clothing, some of them had worked their way down her shirt and a few fell into her rubber boots and into the pockets of her cardigan.
Roger flew up the stairs and into the house. When he looked back to pull the screen door closed behind him, he saw a massive mound of flapping, squawking, pecking crows, below which could be seen wisps of a struggling Aunt Agnes. He turned his back and ran full tilt through the house, kicking through the debris, out the front door and into the safety of his car.
He sat for a moment until his heart slowed and then he looked down at his shirt and noticed that he’d lost a button in his struggle.
He brushed himself off. And then he went home. Perhaps manhood wasn’t so complicated after all.

Deborah Stock is from Waterloo, Ontario. After leaving her career as an elementary school teacher, she is having a blast hiking with her dog Finn, travelling, reading, harassing her 3 grown daughters and exploring this whole captivating world of writing. She is currently working on her self-discipline so that she will finally finish the novel that’s been floating around in her head for almost a decade now.

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Next Step in Creative Writing course, Tuesday afternoons, Jan 21 – March 31, in Burlington


Next Step in Creative Writing
10 weeks of growth as a writer
Tuesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45
January 21 – March 31, 2020. (no class March 17)
First readings emailed Jan 14
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
The Next Step in Creative Writing is for people who have been writing for a while or who have done a course or two before and are working on their own projects. Over the ten weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in five pieces of your writing for detailed feedback. All your pieces may be from the same work, such as a novel in progress, or they may be stand alone pieces. You bring whatever you want to work on. 
Besides critiquing pieces, the instructor will give short lectures addressing the needs of the group, and in addition to learning how to critique your own work and receiving constructive suggestions about your writing, you’ll discover that the greatest benefits come from seeing how your classmates approach and critique a piece of writing and how they write and re-write. This is a challenging course, but extremely rewarding.
Fee: $184.96 + 13% hst = $209
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Instructor 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 Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published. 
Read a review of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, 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.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Congratulations to Lena, Liz, Andrew and Andy! Plus services for writers

Liz

Hi, Brian.
I hope you had a great summer!
I'm excited to tell you that the piece that I wrote for your Writing Personal Stories class, "Masochistic Jockeys" has just been published by Penmen Review! I'm thrilled about it.
I wanted to thank you for your wonderful class. It really motivated me to write, but best of all, it helped me find my voice.
I'm writing more pieces like this and hope to put them together in a collected works. I'm also just finishing up a Middle Grade fantasy manuscript, so I've been very busy writing. I'm hoping to send out to agents over the next few months and will definitely be attending some more of your classes soon.
All the best,
Liz
You can read Liz’s very funny essay Masochistic Jockeys at the Penman Review here or you can read it on Quick Brown Fox {with way better images} here.
The next Writing Personal Stories course starts in January – details here, or for information about all upcoming writing class, introductory to intensive, see here.


Hi, Brian.
Lena
Great to see you at the How to Get Published workshop in Barrie and to have the opportunity to pitch my query letter to Meg Wheeler.
As I mentioned on Saturday, back in April I placed second in the Toronto Star short fiction contest with a piece that was originally a chapter from a Women’s Fiction novel I’d been working on for years. (And which you and the Burlington gang helped me with in so many ways! Please send my best wishes to the Wednesday afternoon class. They may recall these characters!)
You can read my winning story, “North of Us,” here.
Thanks for all the encouragement.
Lena Scholman
For information about the Toronto Star Short Story Contest, and five other places to send your short fiction, see here.
For information about upcoming writing classes see hereand for information about the next How to Get Published workshop, {on November 23 in Niagara-on-the-Lake with literary agent Stephanie Winter}, see here.


Andrew
Hi, Brian.
EVENT Magazine just bought two of my poems, and am in negotiations with Brick Books and Grey Borders for my novel. I love what you do.
You're a cornerstone for all us aspiring author.
Be well,
Andrew Lafleche
Editor-in-Chief of Gravitas
For information about submitting to EVENT Magazine, and 5 other places to send your short prose and poetry, see here; for info about submitting to Grey Borders, see here; and for information about submitting to Brick Books, see here.  

Hi, Brian.
Andy
I recently attended one of your “Find an Agent” seminars {actually called How to Get Published}. It was excellent. I'm still searching for an agent, but I do have a publisher for my first novel, Bay of Blood, the opening book in the North Noir series.
I found that publisher {Black Opal Books} last year thanks to a post on Quick Brown Fox. Thank you! BTW, I tell everyone I know that QBF is the best Canadian publishing site/blog. Bar none.
If you could post my author site/blog link, I'd appreciate it greatly:
Readers can get a free Bay of Blood PDF teaser here
Thanks kindly,
Andy Potter
PS: The book is doing well. I was on CBC Radio One talking about it and my North Noir detective series. I recently got an excellent blurb from a Governor General’s Award Winner, Steven Heighton: “Bay of Blood is a vivid page-turner of a procedural – and one that promises more from both its writer, A.M. Potter, and its feisty protagonist, Sergeant Eva Naslund.”
Bay of Blood is available through many online sites. You can find links to them on Andy’s web page here.
For information about the next How to Get Published workshop, {on November 23 in Niagara-on-the-Lake with literary agent Stephanie Winter}, see here.


Writer to Writer
Hi, Brian.
I hope you’re doing well!
I run a marketing agency and we are now offering marketing services specifically for authors, such as manuscript typesetting, book cover design, head shots and digital marketing. 
Our website is https://macneilmarketing.ca/ 
and our contact email for inquiries is info@macneilmarketing.ca 
Thank you,
Courteney MacNeil

Hey, everyone.  If you’ve had a story (or a book!) published, if you’ve won or placed in a writing contest, if you’ve gotten yourself an agent, or if you have any other news, send me an email so I can share your success. And be sure to let know if you're looking for a writers' group or beta readers; a notice in Quick Brown Fox, will help you find them. Email me at brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s schedule here, including writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, 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.