Monday, May 2, 2016

Love letters ~ Shauna lands an agent and Denise and Don get stories published.

Yay, Shauna!
Hi, Brian.
I'm writing to let you know that I've just signed with Morty Mint at the Mint Literary Agency in Nelson, B.C.  I was about to throw in the towel but decided to send out one more query based on a posting I read on your blog. To my shock, Morty phoned the next day to ask for the full manuscript. Within a few days, he offered representation.
I can't thank you enough for the insight and guidance you have so kindly provided over the past few years. I know I still have a long road to go but this is a great first step. Thanks so much!
Shauna
For information on the Mint Literary Agency, see here.

Hi, Brian.
I took one of your writing workshops in October in Guelph and you put a challenge out to the group to get our work published.  You even made it easy for us but suggesting multiple places to submit.  I’m really excited to let you know I had my story “The Hike” published in CommuertLit. Here’s the link if you wish to read it.   
The story was based on your writing prompt, a chance encounter.  Thank you for the encouragement.  If you hadn’t said that we should take a chance and send out our work, I wouldn’t have had the courage to put myself out there.
I’ve been watching your website for future workshops and hope to be in one soon.  If you ever offer a multi-week writing course in the Guelph/Kitchener area I would be interested.
Sincerely,
Denise Boyd
I’ve got a Writing Personal Stories course starting in Mississauga on Wednesday (see here), then in July, a Welcome to Creative Writing course  Tuesday afternoons, and Intensive courses Wednesday afternoons and evenings, all in Burlington (see here), but no weekly courses in Guelph, I’m afraid. But I do a Writing and Revising workshop July 23 in Kitchener (see here). ~Brian
Note: For information on submitting to CommuterLit, see here.

Hi, Brian.
Just a quick note from one of your former students in Peterborough. After I saw that info on Canadian Stories looking for fiction submissions, I sent the editor one of my short stories for consideration. I’m happy to report that he accepted the story for publication sometime in the summer. Thanks for letting all your Quick Brown Fox readers and fans know about these opportunities.
 All the best in your mentoring and teaching projects this spring and summer.  
Don Herald
Writers’ Group of Peterborough
Note: For information on submitting to Canadian Stories, see here.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

“Jungle” by Saurabh Ananth


“Isn’t this where that woman was murdered?” Dev said with glee in his voice.
“What woman?” I asked.
“Look.” He pointed to the trees lining the dirt trail that we were on. One of them had a dark red stain high up on it. The stain looked like it was a part of the tree, falling into the bark’s grooves. There was a lighter stain below it, which had faded under the hot Indian sun.
“I heard about this,” Dev said. “She lived close by. Then one day, when she was all alone, some man snuck in and cut her throat. But she didn’t die. She just walked out into the jungle and put her handprints on the trees so that the police could follow it back to the house.”
“Did they catch the murderer?”
“No, they never knew about the blood.”
“How did you know about it, then?” I asked.
“Shut up! My brother told me about it, okay? He heard it from one of his friends who was here last year and they found the blood, too.”
“Yeah, your brother is always right, isn’t he? Like the time he told you to—“
“Why is it so high on the tree?” Amir interrupted, his neck straining as he looked up at the mark. We were the shortest boys in class so it might not have been as high as we thought it was, but it certainly looked like a giant had put it there.
“Who cares?” Dev said. “Let’s look for the other ones.”
Logic and reason often evades nine year-old boys when there’s something gruesome to see. We knew that this story was probably just as made up as the rest of them, but we did everything in our power to believe it was true. We loved having a new mystery to solve, a new adventure to go on, and most importantly, a story to tell the others.
We carried on, drifting even further away from the main tourist area where our class was. The entire fourth grade had come out on a field trip to the national park so that they could teach us how they were trying to preserve this natural habitat. There were five classes altogether, so we had to take turns doing different things at the park. Our class had spent the morning travelling on a bus along the safari route, looking at lions, monkeys and some rare, white Siberian tigers hiding in the shade of their little caves. When we broke for lunch, the three of us snuck off from the rest of the group to do some exploring in the jungle.
Further down the path, the trees thickened and expanded out over a hill to our right. I tried looking for a trail into the jungle that might lead to a house. Scanning the tree line, I felt a strange sensation, like we were being watched. I looked closer and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw it.
“Hold on,” I said quietly, feeling my voice tremble—more out of awe than fear.
The other two, having walked a few paces ahead of me already, turned back with annoyed looks on their faces.
“What is it?”
They followed my gaze to a tree not far from us. There, crouching on one of the branches of a giant fig tree, was a large feline. Black spots speckled its golden fur, which shone bright where the sunlight came in through the leaves. Its big, dark eyes stared into mine, not blinking once.
“Leopard,” I whispered softly.
The leopard had definitely been stalking us for a while. It froze when we made eye contact. Maybe it thought we hadn’t seen it. Then, when we moved along, it could inch itself closer, pounce and take one of us off into the dense jungle where we’d be lost forever.
“What do we do?” Amir asked.
“Just stay still and look into its eyes,” I said. “It’s working so far. Maybe it’ll give up and go away.”
“Oh God, we’re going to die.” Dev was sobbing.
The sound of a car rumbling down the trail from where we had come broke the minute-long stalemate. A Jeep, completely caked in mud, pulled up beside us. The dust it kicked up hung in the humid air. The park guide shouted, “There you boys are. You had everybody worried; we told you not to go out into the jungle alone, it’s dangerous. Who knows what could have happened to you. Come on, get in and I’ll take you back.”
We gratefully ran up and pulled ourselves in. The seats were hard and the leather hot against our skin but it was a relief to be in the safety of the Jeep.
“I thought I told you not to go down the trail with the red markers,” he said.
“We forgot.”
As we started to drive off, I looked back at the tree. The branch was bare; its leaves just blew in the breeze.

Saurabh Ananth is a former graphic designer and recent graduate in advertising and marketing. Being in an industry that’s driven by storytelling, he was naturally drawn to fiction. When not writing, he’s usually trying to learn something new. He hopes that he can develop his writing skills in 2016 and publish more short stories throughout the year.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Make Your Stories Dramatic, Saturday, Aug 20, in Oakville

How to Make Your Stories Dramatic
Saturday, August 20, 2016
1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
St Cuthbert's Anglican Church, 1541 Oakhill Drive, Oakville, Ontario (Map here.)

This workshop is geared to both beginners and more experienced writers.  We’ll look at the most important part of all stories whether fictional or true: the fully dramatized scene. You'll learn some of the most successful tricks of the trade to make sure that you'll never write a lifeless scene again.

We’ll look at both dialogue and action scenes. You’ll learn how to write great dialogue and how to mix it with your narrative so that the interaction between your characters comes alive. But the most difficult scenes of all are climactic action scenes. Using fight scenes and love scenes as our examples, you’ll learn how to ramp up the tension you need for one of these high-octane performances. 

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 has helped many of his students get published.

Fee: 35.40 + 13% hst = 40 paid in advance by mail or Interac
or 38.05 + 13% hst =
 43 if you wait to pay at the door

To reserve a spot now, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian Henry’s full schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Summer writing classes: Welcome to Creative Writing and Intensive Creative Writing

Welcome to Creative Writing
8 weeks of exploring your creative side
Summer session
Tuesday afternoons, July 5 – Aug 23, 2016
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (map here.)
This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment. This course will open the door to all kinds of creative writing. We’ll visit short story writing and children’s writing, writing in first person and in third person, and writing just for fun. 
You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe setting, where your words will grow and flower.
Note: For a pair of reviews of the "Welcome to Creative Writing" course, see here.
Fee: 140.71 plus 13% hst = 160
Number of attendees strictly limited.
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Intensive Creative Writing
8 weeks towards mastering your craft
Offered at two times:
Wednesday afternoons, 12:15 – 2:45 p.m.
July 6 – Aug 24, First class emailing sent out June 30
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (map here.)
And
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:15 p.m.
July 6 – Aug 24, First class emailing sent out June 30
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (map here.)
This Intensive course 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 eight weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in four 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.  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.
Check out a review of the Intensive course here. More reviews here.
Fee: 159.29 + 13% hst = 180
Number of attendees strictly limited.
To reserve your spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
This course will fill up; enroll early to avoid disappointment.

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 has helped many of his students get published. 

Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the box to the right under my bio, and get each post delivered to your Inbox. Also, if you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale, to: brianhenry@sympatico.ca ~ Brian

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, April 25, 2016

New literary agent Amanda Jain seeks adult fiction, narrative nonfiction and some YA & MG; six other agents at Inklings also need authors

Inklings Literary Agency
Michelle Johnson, lead agent at Inklings
3419 Virginia Beach Blvd
#183
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the box to the right under my bio, and get each post delivered to your Inbox. Also, if you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale, to: brianhenry@sympatico.ca ~ Brian

Inklings Literary Agency is a new agency, established just four years ago, staffed by seven relatively new agents all seeking authors  both established authors and talented new authors. The agency represents a broad range of commercial and literary fiction, plus memoirs, true crime and some narrative nonfiction, as well as young adult and middle grade fiction.

Amanda Jain is the newest member of the team and like all new agents, she needs authors. Amanda has loved books for as long as she can remember. When she was a kid, Amanda always had her head in a book. In her room, in the car, in the bathtub – wherever. She probably would have brought a book to the dinner table every evening if that were allowed. 

After earning a BA in English, she worked in the trade department at W. W. Norton for seven years before leaving to pursue graduate studies. She graduated in 2011 with a MA in the history of decorative arts. Amanda then joined Inklings in 2014, first as an intern and then as Michelle Johnson’s assistant.

Amanda is primarily interested in adult fiction in the following categories: historical fiction (in all genres), women’s / book club / upmarket fiction, romance (particularly historical, suspenseful, or with a comedic bent), mysteries (particularly historical or cozy, or historical cozies).

She’s looking for narrative nonfiction in the areas of social history, archaeology, art history, material culture, etc.

She is also interested in select young adult and middle grade projects with unique hooks and a strong voice. 

In all cases, what Amanda is most looking for is a story that completely immerses the reader in the world of the book. She wants to feel the sun on her shoulders, smell the smoke of the battlefield, and hear the horses galloping in the distance.

Query Amanda at: query@inklingsliterary.com
Put “Query, Amanda Jain,” plus the title of your novel in the subject line. Also paste the first 10 pages of your manuscript and a brief synopsis (1-2 pages) into to email (no attachments).
Full submission guidelines here.

Bhavna Chauhan, editor with
Penguin Random House Canada
Brian Henry will lead Writing for Children & for Young Adults workshops on Saturday, April 30, in Guelph, with Yasemin U├žar, senior editor, Kids Can Press and authors Jennifer Mook-Sang and Kira Vermond (see here), and Sunday, May 29, in Ottawa with acclaimed author Alan Cumyn (see here).

Brian will be part of the Windsor International Writers’ Festival May 5 – 8, where he’ll be leading Writing Query Letters that Get a Yes and a Query Letter Clinic (see here). 

Brian hosts From the Horse's Mouth ~ Strategies for Getting Published on Saturday, June 18, with Barbara Berson of Helen Heller Agency, Michael Mirolla, publisher Guernica Editions and Bhavna Chauhan, editor, Penguin Random House Canada, at Ryerson University in Toronto (see here).

Other upcoming workshops include  How to Write Great Characters, Saturday, May 14 in Toronto (see here) and Sunday, June 5 in Georgetown (see here), and Writing and Revising, May 28, in Mississauga (see here).

Finally, Brian has two Writer’s Retreats coming up at Arowhon Pines Resort in Algonquin Park: Friday, June 10 – Sunday, June 12 (see here) and Friday, Sept 16 – Sunday, Sept 18 (see here).

For more information or to register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

But the best way to grow as a writer may be with a weekly class. This spring, Brian still has openings in one class: “Writing Personal Stories,” Wednesday mornings, May 4 – June 22, in Mississauga (see here)

This summer, Brian will offer a variety of classes:
“Welcome to Creative Writing,” Tuesday afternoons, Tuesday afternoons, July 5 – Aug 23, in Burlington
“Intensive Creative Writing,” Wednesday afternoons, July 6 – Aug 24, in Burlington
“Intensive Creative Writing,” Wednesday evenings, July 6 – Aug 24, in Burlington 
See details of all three classes here.
To reserve a spot, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops here.
To register or for more information for any class or workshop, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

“This Little Chair” by Lorena Perkins


There is a little chair which sits nestled in a corner near the warmth of my fireplace.   Most days, its serves as nothing more than a decorative piece in the family room.  But some days, as I’m cozied up on my couch, ready to enjoy some quiet time to read a book, I find myself looking its way.  It sits there, an inanimate object, oblivious to the history it represents.  Yet it carries a wealth of memories of my summers in Italy as a young child. It is my nonno’s chair.  

I often wonder how my grandmother has managed to live over 30 years without the love of her life.  It can’t be easy.  She is 92 years old now, and whenever I visit her, I cherish the quiet moments together when we sit and she speaks of past memories – particularly the stories courtship with my grandfather. 

As I listen, my imagination is ignited with scenes reminiscent of an old black and white film.  Visions of a young girl peddling her bicycle through her crumbling town as bombs drop in the near distance, the vibrations almost knocking her off her bicycle.  But she is determined to reach the post office – she has to get there – her beloved will be waiting for a care package to make its way to him.  Then … scenes of complete happiness as he returns from war safe and unharmed … scenes of forbidden kisses they would steal as they secretly meet in the cornfields.  

I look at her as she recounts these stories – I see a vibrant young woman, so in love and devoted to this man that even the bombing of her village couldn’t stop her. Love does give one courage.   I see a side of her I never knew.  

She takes a handkerchief out of her apron pocket and wipes away tears that well up.  She slowly gets up and makes her way into the kitchen – time for an espresso.   I know the story telling is over now, for she is thinking back to the day she lost him, and she has no words for this.    

He was 58 years old when he passed away, sadly by his own hand. He was a proud man – worked hard and was relied upon by his family and his friends.  For him, the sole purpose of existence was to provide – he was the patriarch; that was his role.  The cancer took that away and it broke him.  But I try not to think about all that.

I look at this chair, now in my own home, and recall how it always sat under the grapevine-covered pergola of my grandparents’ house and how, during the summer months, on those long hot and humid days when it was too hot for me to play, I would retreat to this little place of shade and watch my grandmother in the garden. 

As a child, I always timed the day by my nonna’s daily routine.  Collecting the eggs from the chickens, followed by watering the garden was early morning.  Hand-washing the clothes by the water pump and hanging them up to dry was mid-morning. Entering the house and heading for the kitchen was close to noon, and it meant that my grandfather would be home soon from working the fields.  So I would sit in my place of shade, anxiously waiting.  I would hear that sound.  The sound tires make on gravel.  My grandfather coming up the driveway in his little white mini Fiat.  It was now officially lunchtime.

After lunch, my grandfather would head for this little chair under the shade, always wearing his straw hat, He would light a cigarette and wait for my grandmother to bring out his espresso, which she would, on a small tray, placing it on the round table next to him.  There were no words spoken – but loving looks were exchanged with a mutual smile.  I wouldn’t bother him.  Instead, I would be playing in the garden, watching him from afar. He was a tall, thin man always tanned from working the fields.  I knew this was his resting time before he headed back to work.

As a child, spending summers in Italy, I had no concept of days of the week.  But I knew that when the routine changed it was the weekend. This was my time with him.  On those summer weekend days, he would sit on this chair and watch me as I ran around playing in the garden.  I knew he’d soon call out for me and I would run to him.  

He would hoist me up to pick the succulent grapes which hung from the pergola.  As he sat on this little chair he would laugh as I popped the grapes out of their skin and into my mouth.   He was not a man of many words, and I have to admit that as a young child, he intimidated me a bit, but when he helped me reach for those grapes and we laughed together, I always felt safe and loved.

After my grandfather passed away, I asked my grandmother to keep this chair for me. I made her promise.  She couldn’t understand why I had such an attachment to it, but she kept her word.

Whenever I returned to Italy, I would go to the chair. There it was, stored in the shed in a corner all by itself. It aged more each year. The straw seat frayed, became too weak to be sat upon; the wood grew brittle, a little weather beaten.  But when I saw it, sentimental emotions overwhelmed me and, ultimately, brought a smile to my face. I’d bring the chair outside and place it in the shade. What was once a grapevine pergola was now a patio with an awning, but nonetheless was still the chair’s spot.  My grandmother would smile – she knew I missed him, too. 

Two years ago, my uncle, my grandfather’s brother, ever so carefully and meticulously dismantled the chair, to prepare it for its journey to Canada.  My mother brought it back with her.  My stepfather put it back together again. Of all this, I had no idea.  One summer day as we were sitting in my mother’s backyard, she smiled and said, “Wait here...don’t go anywhere. I have something for you.” 

The little chair had found its way to me.  I was speechless.     

Lorena Perkins was born near Venice, Italy and goes “home” to visit whenever she can.  In June, she will return to spend time with her 92-year-old grandmother and hopes to hear more stories about her courtship with her grandfather and write more about the family history.  Lorena had been writing journals since the age of 12 and has amassed quite a collection! With the encouragement of her husband, she decided it was time to venture into the world of creative writing.  Joining one of Brian Henry’s creative writing workshop was the first step. 


See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.