Sunday, July 3, 2022

Stretch out your summer with a Writing Retreat at The Briars, Friday, Sept 16 – Monday Sept 19

 

The Briars Writing Retreat

Friday, September 16 – Monday, September 19, 2022
The Briars Resort & Spa on Lake Simcoe
55 Hedge Road, Jackson’s Point, Ontario, Canada (Map 
here)

Give yourself a four days of writing time – a long weekend of instruction, inspiration and creativity. Award yourself with time away from distractions, with no dishes to do, delicious food at every meal, and with the leisure you need to sit with your feet up and write.

The retreat will feature both instruction and guided writing exercises, plus one-on-one critiquing and coaching from Brian.  You’ll also have lots of time to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with your creativity. All writing levels welcome. Whether you’re just beginning or have a novel in progress, please join us. 

The Peacock House

The setting: Originally a Regency-style Manor House built by Captain William Bourchier in 1840, the estate was purchased in 1870 by Dr. Frank Sibbald, who added two wings to the manor house, a coach house, a brick stable and of course a peacock house, because where else are you going to keep your peacocks?

The Briars also has a storied literary history.  Humorist Stephen Leacock was a great friend of the Sibbalds, visited often, and is buried just down the road from the resort at the pretty St. George’s churchyard, as is author Mazo de la Roche. De la Roche’s Jalna series were worldwide bestsellers, making her one of Canada’s bestselling authors ever. Indeed, her books are available to this day from Dundurn Press.

Today, the Briars still offers the warmth of a country estate steeped in history while providing all the benefits of an extensive, modern lakeside resort.

Rates include accommodation. Each room has a king, queen or two twin beds, and an en-suite four-piece bathroom.

All meals – Friday dinner, Saturday and Sunday breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday breakfast and lunch – are provided, as are coffee & snack breaks on Saturday and Sunday. Alcoholic beverages are extra, as are Spa treatments – but you might want to check those out (see here).


All activities included. When you’re not writing, or for spouses who accompany you, there is plenty to do. The resort has an indoor and outdoor pool, a well-equipped exercise room, and a games room with pool, shuffleboard, ping pong, and foosball. The beautiful Lake Simcoe setting offers idyllic opportunities for canoeing, paddle-boarding, biking and hiking, with the resort featuring its own nature trails and with other trails three kilometers down the road at Sibbald Point Provincial Park. And of course there are plenty of nooks around the resort that are ideal for reading, resting and unwinding.

Check-in on Friday is 4 p.m. Our first writing get-together will be at 5 p.m. On Monday, we'll have our last writing get-together at 10 a.m., ending at 11 a.m. Check out is at 12 noon. (though we may push the Monday schedule an hour later if the resort isn't full and they can accommodate a 1 p.m. check out) But once you’ve had lunch, don’t feel you have to rush off! You can stay for the rest of the day, enjoying the amenities of the resort. Participants are welcome to bring a non-participating significant other. 

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 their first book published and launch their careers as authors.

Read about previous retreats here {and scroll down}.

Fee, including both the writing retreat and accommodation, meals, coffee & snack service, tips and all resort amenities, for all three nights: $1,691.15 plus 13% hst 

Or if you're sharing a room with another participant in the writing retreat, the fee is $1,246.90 plus 13% hst each for all three nights 

Not included: alcoholic drinks (or any drinks bought at Drinkwaters Lounge), spa services, golf or other extras.

{Note: you may notice all prices have gone up about 5% since last year, as the resort has increased its fees – but I haven't increased mine ~Brian.} 

Bring a (non-participating) significant other along for the weekend to share your room for an additional $125.66 plus hst per night (includes accommodation, meals and all resort amenities, but not the writing part of the retreat). This is special reduced pricing offered by the Briars for conference participant spouses.

Book early – space is limited! So that we can maintain physical distancing, we'll have fewer people at the retreat than we’ve had in the before-times, so it will be a more intimate experience and participants will have more opportunity for one-on-one coaching with Brian. Full receipts issued.

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

 Note: Bookings for accommodations for this retreat must be done through Brian (unlike our retreats in Algonquin, where you book your accommodations through the resort).

The Briars serves delicious food, elegantly plated

Should I bring my work in progress?

Yes! If you have an on-going writing project, bring it with you. Bring more than you expect to get to; you'll have lots of time for writing. Besides, you may want to switch projects or share a project that’s just started or one that’s all done, except for reading it to a small, appreciative audience. If you’re not currently working on anything, don’t worry, we’ll get you writing.

Should I bring my laptop?

Yes! Unless you only work on paper. Or bring both – your laptop and your writing pad. No sense being short of essential supplies.

Who can attend the retreat?

Everyone interested in developing their writing skills is welcome to attend, whether you're aspiring writer or an accomplished author or simply enjoy writing as a hobby. There is no requirement for you to have been previously published or even to have an intention to publish.

I'm a poet / playwright / other writer. Is this retreat for me?

The retreat is open to anyone who enjoys writing. Instruction will focus on narrative writing; i.e., stories, whether fiction or memoir. But if you’re an essayist or poet or whatever, you’re entirely welcome.

Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?

Yes. But you need to let me know ASAP, so I can let the staff know about your needs.

I want to stay longer or arrive early. Is that possible?

If you want to arrive early or stay longer, that’s fine. You’ll book the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night with Brian, and arrange any additional nights with the resort; just make sure they know you’re with Brian Henry’s writing group.

Is there cell phone reception and WIFI?

Alas, yes.

How about alcohol?

The resort serves alcohol with meals and has a licensed lounge called Drinkwaters. Guests are also welcome to bring their own wine, beer or whatever for consumption in their room. (Though do note that Hemingway’s advice to write drunk, mostly produces drivel.)

Can I use the spa at the resort or play a round of golf?

Yes, you can certainly book a spa treatment or a round of gold, though that’s extra, and you book these directly with the resort {not through Brian}.

Can I bring my spouse (or partner or friend)?

If you want to share your room with a partner, they’re very welcome. Just let them know you’ll be spending most of your time writing, (though you will have some free time every day).

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

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

 

Friday, July 1, 2022

Attention teens: Join us this summer for Exploring Creative Writing

Teens welcome to Exploring Creative Writing ~ Discover your creative side

Online: Wednesday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12 noon
July 13 – August 17, 2022 (will go to Aug 24 if full)
Offered on Zoom and accessible from anywhere there's internet 

This is your chance to take up writing in a fun, supportive environment We’ll explore writing short stories and writing true stories, writing in first person and in third person, writing technique and getting creative, getting down your very best writing and just for fun writing.

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 setting, where your words will grow and flower.

Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

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 reviews of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

See all of Brian’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Last call for Online Intensive Creative Writing classes Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings, July – August

Intensive Creative Writing

 ~ Grow as a writer

Online ~ 2 different sessions: 
(On Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)

Wednesday afternoons, 2:00 – 4:30 p.m. 
July 6 – August 17 (or to Aug 24 if the class is full)

and

Thursday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
July 7 – August 18  (or to Aug 25 if the class is full)

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. You’ll be asked to bring in four pieces of your writing for detailed feedback, including two long 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.

Fee: $211.50 + hst = $239

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 helped many of his students get published.  

Read reviews of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

See all of Brian’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

“What to REALLY Expect: Emily’s Guide to Parenting” by Lisa Bailey

Once you have children you may never sleep again. THAT was a truth they leave out of the parenting manuals, Emily thought. Probably out of fear that no one would ever sign up to have kids again, and the human population would dwindle to extinction. Emily looked around the room at the younger women at the baby shower  – young, beautiful, eager mama’s to be or mama wannabes, most of whom had no clue what they were getting into. 

“Okay, everyone, as you know, Hannah is due any day now, and she’s going to need all your helpful advice!” chirped Katie, Hannah’s energetic friend.

Clearly, she didn’t have kids yet – waaaayyy too bubbly and cheerful. Give her a few more years and sleepless nights and we’ll see how perky she is, Emily thought as she yawned.

Emily started to write out her thoughts on sleeping on the “Advice for new parents” card. Her friend Sophie looked over her shoulder.

“You can’t tell them that! They’ll want to put the kid up for adoption before it’s even born.”

“Well, it’s true though.” Emily replied.

“Of course it’s true,” Sophie agreed. “But you don’t need to be the one to tell them.”

Emily thought back to all the stages of parenting she had gone through so far. She estimated she hadn’t slept through the night in 20 years, six months and three days; the exact amount of time since Maisy was born.

“Wouldn’t you rather know what you’re getting into? Remember when Maisy was a baby? She had colic. She would scream for hours. Usually at night. I started to relate to parents who throw their kids out the window.” 

“Annnnnd, your point is? Wait! THAT’S a truth no one admits – sometimes you will feel like throwing your kid out the window! Write that down – no wait –I’m using that one,”  declared Sophie, as she added, “And it’s okay to feel that way, as long as you don’t actually do it.“

“Well, it got easier for a bit, once I gave up the pressure of breast feeding and switched to formula” remembered Emily. “Just don’t tell the ‘breast is best’ mafia about that.” 

“Totally,”  Agreed Sophie. “I never understood why women turn against each other when it comes to parenting – shouldn’t we just want what’s best for the baby?” Everyone’s got an opinion and they think theirs is the right one.”

“More excellent advice. Everyone will try to give you advice,” Emily said. “They’ll even give you advice cards. Honestly though, it’s better if you just do what works for you and your baby, right? OOH – that needs to be written down too.”

Emily thought back to the early years. Things actually settled for a bit, and then … the toddler stage. Just when she thought she might sleep again the kid started to get up on her own.

Emily sighed. “Once Maisy was out of her crib she was always up and running around early in the morning.”

Sophie laughed, “Oh yes – all kids do that once they’re out from behind bars. Ha, ha. Too bad there aren’t cribs for all ages.”

“And why is it once they get up, they always, ALWAYS go to Mom’s side of the bed? There were two of us – go wake Daddy up! But NOOO – it’s always, ‘Mommy – are you awake?’  ‘Mommy I had a bad dream.’  ‘Mommy I can’t sleep.’ I ended up letting them crawl into bed with me, because I knew If I got up, I’d never get back to sleep.”

“Same,” confessed Sophie, “But usually I regretted it. I would wake up with an elbow in my neck, being punched in the head or freezing without any blankets. Jack NEVER stayed still. I did get smarter when Sara came along though – she would always call ‘Ma-Ma, Ma-MAAA.’ from the crib, but if I waited long enough, she would switch to ‘Pa-pa PAPA.’ Then I would just poke Sam and tell him she’s calling for him - ha-ha.”

“HEY! that’s more good advice,” chuckled Emily. “Write that down too. If you wait long enough, they will call for Dad”

“Okay, so far we have: don’t throw the baby out the window, everyone thinks they are an expert on babies (but do what works for you), and if you wait long enough, the kid will call for Dad.  What about the tween years?”

“Right. If you thought you couldn’t sleep with babies and toddlers, just wait for the tweens. We always seemed to have children who did not belong to us sleeping over. And the noise! They girls would be up all night giggling or freaking over the littlest thing. I remember one time Maisy let out a blood curdling scream. We thought something terrible had happened. It did, according to Maisy and her friends. One of those many-legged, creepy, speedy, centipedes dared to join their party. Seriously. You would have thought someone died for the all the hysteria over that bug.”

“Boys are no better,” argued Sophie. “Jack and friends laughed for HOURS one night sitting on whoopee cushions and seeing who could make the best fart noises. But all that all seems innocent enough in hindsight’” sighed Sophie. “Then came the teen years.”

“God help all parents of teens,” shuddered Emily. “I used to say, for teens, moms are nothing but a chauffer, cook, and ABM.”

“You forgot to mention emotional punching bag,” added Sophie.

“Oh yeah! There’s some good advice to come from that thought,” Emily agreed. “How should we phrase it?’

“Hmmm. How about something like, ‘Your teen will tell you she hates you. Maybe more than once. This is normal. A good sign actually’.”

“Yes! It means you set boundaries and had rules. Rules like, ‘No sleepovers on a school night, or no you can’t stay out till 2 am.’ And that you voiced unpopular opinions, like ‘No, I DON’T care if ALLLLL your friends are allowed to.’”

Sophie and Emily dissolved into a giggling fit.

“These girls have no idea what they are getting into do they?” said Sophie

“Maybe some things are just better to figure out as you go along?” wondered Emily. “Or MAYBE – we should rewrite the parenting guide. What to Actually Expect. With a warning – You may never sleep again!”

“We’ll make millions!” Sophie predicted.

“See,” Emily said. “Kids are definitely worth it.”

Smiling, they submitted their advice cards into the box at the shower.

***

Lisa Bailey is a busy mom, wife and healthcare worker from Burlington, Ontario. In her spare time (which currently amounts to about 3 hours, 2 minutes and 30 seconds a week), she enjoys baking, golfing, reading and writing. She frequently daydreams about winning the lottery so that she can retire and do more of the things she loves.

***

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Monday, June 27, 2022

In-person: Extreme Creative Writing course, Thursday afternoons, Sept 29 – Dec 1 in Burlington

Extreme Creative Writing

 ~ For more experienced writers 

In-person: Thursday afternoons, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m
Sept 29 – Dec 1, 2022, and adding another week or two if the course fills up {no class Oct 13}

St. Elizabeth’s Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Road, Burlington, Ontario {Map here
Note: Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it's possible this class could be forced online.

Extreme Creative Writing is for experienced writers who have been writing for a while or who have done courses before and are working on their own projects. You’ll be asked to bring in five pieces of your writing for detailed feedback, including three long 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, we’ll have discussions on topics of interest to the class. 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: $229.20 + hst = $259

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 reviews of Brian's various courses and workshops here {and scroll down}.

See all of Brian’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.