Wednesday, June 20, 2018

This summer, 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:

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.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“The Gift” by Michelle Eaket

“Hello,” I said into the phone, picking it up on the third ring.

“Hello. Is this Michelle Deschamps,” said the voice on the other end.

“Yes,” I said reluctantly, but thinking, Great, a telemarketer. Definitely not what I was in the mood for after a long day of work.
“I found your name in the phone book,” he said. “My name is Donat Villeneuve and I think we might be related.”

Now I was feeling more concerned than annoyed. Who was this man who’d looked me up and called me at home?

“Are you related to Bruno and Louise Deschamps?” he continued.

“Yes, they’re my grandparents.”

“I’m Bruno’s second cousin,” he explained. “Perhaps you remember me from my last visit to Saskatchewan, ten years ago.”

As soon as he mentioned that, I remembered who this guy was – Uncle Donat. He’d visited my dad’s family when I was 13. My cousins and I had spent the day outside at my aunt and uncle’s farm, the adults sitting nearby on lawn chairs, visiting. It was only after the sun went down that we moved inside, gathering in the quonset.

“I’m here to surprise your grandparent’s for their 50th anniversary,” said Uncle Donat. “I came in on the train earlier today, after spending three days traveling from Cornwall, Ontario.”

My heart sank a little. Grandpa and Grandma had had a big celebration three months earlier. Donat hadn’t been invited. Now here he was in Saskatoon to surprise them for their anniversary, which was this weekend.

I spent every Sunday at my grandparents’ house for dinner, and had gotten the sense Grandma didn’t really care for Donat. If his name ever came up, she would wrinkle her nose a little in distaste. What would she think when she found out he’d traveled all this way without even letting her know he was coming? I wasn’t going to tell him they’d already celebrated their anniversary, so I simply said I looked forward to seeing him on the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon, I arrived at my grandparents’ suite like always, and like always, Grandpa was waiting in his doorway for me to get off the elevator and round the corner. He gave me a gentle hug, brushing his whiskery cheek against my own.

Inside the apartment, Donat was sitting in my grandma’s chair. Grandma was in the kitchen, taking appetizers out of the oven; bacon wrapped water chestnuts, my favourite. Donat looked the same as I remembered, smiling broadly. I knew he didn’t have much family, and he seemed happy in our company.

“You know, I didn’t take my shoes off the entire three day train ride,” he told me over dinner. “My feet are swollen and sore, but I didn’t think it was gentleman-like to remove my shoes, even while trying to sleep in my seat.”

“Oh no,” I said. “Be sure to take them off on the return trip.”

“I will,” he replied. “I learned my lesson the hard way on that one. Anyway, I have two weeks for my feet to heal before I get back on the train.”

“I didn’t realize you were staying in town that long,” I said.

“No point in coming all this way and not staying for a while.”

I wondered what Grandma thought of that, but if it bothered her that Donat had arrived unannounced and would be visiting with them for two weeks, she never let it show. That was one of the things I loved most about her: when you were in her presence, she always made you feel special. She loved entertaining and being around people.

While at a friend’s wedding in the early 90s, my mom told me I reminded her of Grandma, the way I bounced around the room from person to person. It was likely the cheap, red wine I was drinking that had turned me into a social butterfly, but I took it as the highest compliment.

Even now, I do my best to emulate my grandma. She was doing yoga decades before it was fashionable, and trying out new recipes every chance she got, which was generally during the Sunday dinners I spent with them. Grandpa’s idea of a meal was meat and potatoes, so Grandma loved to experiment on me.  

She also enjoyed traveling and made a trek to the Holy Land when she was 70. I was with her when she booked that trip. Her excitement that day was energizing. When she returned, she swore she would never leave Grandpa for that long again, but I know she was glad to have had that opportunity. She was deeply religious, so getting to experience the places she’d read about in her Bible was a dream come true for her.

On my last real visit with Grandma, one when I had a couple of hours alone with her to chat, she told me she wanted me to have her Bible when she passed away. Knowing it was her most prized possession, I was honoured.

She always had her Bible with her. In it, she wrote down the dates of every religious retreat she attended, including one in Edmonton in 1978. I was in kindergarten then. We were living in Leduc, just outside of Edmonton. Only a few months earlier, we’d been living in Swift Current, mere blocks away from all four of my grandparents. I remember missing them so much that I would stand by the window and imagine them pulling up in front of our new home.

My grandma did come for a visit when she attended that retreat in Edmonton. We moved back to Swift Current shortly after. Perhaps seeing her reminded us all how much we missed it.

After Grandma told me she wanted me to have her Bible, she showed me how she’d marked an “M” beside several verses from Psalms. The “M” stood for Michelle. She’d marked one next to every verse she’d read in a daily book of readings I’d given her one Christmas. What she hadn’t pointed out that day, was that she’d also written hundreds of notes in the margins of her Bible. It’s filled with the insights she had as she studied it over the years.

I can see a shift in her writing in those notes, following her stroke. She spent months learning to write again, using her left hand, instead of her right. There’s a history of her life captured in those pages; the struggles she faced, the questions that haunted her, the comfort she sought when Grandpa passed away. She didn’t merely give me her Bible, she gave me a glimpse into her soul.

One day I’ll sit down and read every word she wrote in the margins of that Bible. For now, I simply pull it out when I want to feel close to her again. Opening up a page at random takes me on a journey into her heart. Perhaps she knew I would draw comfort from those pages, in the same way she did. I always thought we’d have been the best of friends if we’d grown up together as peers, instead of as grandmother and grandchild. Seeing the tremendous gift she gave me, I think she must have thought that too.

Michelle Eaket is currently taking time off from full-time work to spend more time with her 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. She's loved writing for as long as she can remember, composing poems in her head as a child when she was supposed to be sleeping. Michelle’s grade 11 English teacher told her to “never stop writing,” words she continues to hold dear to her heart.

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.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fall Creative Writing Courses, Introductory to Intensive, plus Writing Personal Stories and Writing Kid Lit

Welcome to Creative Writing
Ten weeks of discovering your creative side
Thursday afternoons, 12:45 – 2:45
September 27 – November 29, 2018
Woodside Branch of the Oakville Public Library, 1274 Rebecca St, Oakville, Ontario
 This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment. This course will open the door to writing short stories and writing dialogue, writing in first person and writing in third person, writing just for fun and writing all kinds of things. 
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.
Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199
To reserve a spot now, email:

Writing Personal Stories
8 weeks of sharing and writing
Thursday evenings, 7 – 9 p.m.
October 4 – November 29, 2018
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
If you've ever considered writing your personal stories, this course is for you. We’ll look at memoirs, travel writing, personal essays, family history ~ personal stories of all kinds. Plus, of course, we’ll work on creativity and writing technique and have fun doing it. 
Whether you want to write a book or just get your thoughts down on paper, this weekly course will get you going. We'll reveal the tricks and conventions of telling true stories, and we’ll show you how to use the techniques of the novel to recount actual events. Weekly writing exercises and friendly feedback from the instructor will help you move forward on this writing adventure. Whether you want to write for your family and friends or for a wider public, don't miss this course.
Fee:  $167.26 plus 13% hst = $189      
To reserve your spot, email:

Author Jennifer Mook-Sang, signing bookmarks
Writing Kid Lit
 ~ Picture Books to Young Adult
Friday afternoons, October 5 – November 30, 2018
1:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Glenview Church, Bethlehem Room, 1 Glenview Ave, Toronto, Ontario (Map here.)
From picture books to young adult novels, this weekly course is accessible for beginners and meaty enough for advanced writers. Through lectures, in-class assignments, homework, and feedback on your writing, we’ll give you ins and outs of writing for younger readers and set you on course toward writing your own books.
We’ll have two published children’s authors as guest speakers:
Jennifer Mook-Sang grew up in Guyana and moved to Canada when she was fourteen. While reading bedtime stories to her two sons, she fell in love with picture books and decided to write one of her own. In one of Brian Henry's classes she found the beginnings of a story. That story grew into the humorous middle-grade novel Speechless, published by Scholastic in 2015. 
Speechless won the Surrey Schools Book of the Year Award, was shortlisted for many others, and was recommended by the Ontario Library Association, the Canadian Childrens’ Book Centre, the CBC, and the TD Summer Reading Club. 
Then in October 2017, Jennifer published her first picture book Captain Monty Takes the Plunge with Kids Can Press. Captain Monty is the boldest, stinkiest pirate to sail the six or seven seas; in fact, he’s never had a bath. Naturally, the Junior Library Guild immediately selected him for its fall list of recommended books. Captain Monty has also been nominated for the Rainforest of Reading Award and Jennifer will be travelling to St. Lucia for that Festival in March.
Jennifer lives in Burlington, Ontario. You can find out more about her here. 
Speechless is available online here. And Captain Monty Takes the Plunge is available here.
Author Kira Vermond
Kira Vermond is an award-winning writer with over 1,500 articles to her name. She has been a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, CBC and Today's Parent.
Kira is the author of four nonfiction books for young readers: Half-Truths and Brazen Lies, (read more about Half-Truths here); Why We Live Where We Live (more here);   Growing Up: Inside and Out, (nominated for on Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading Award) and The Secret Life of Money: A Kid's Guide to Cash (which was my son’s and daughter’s favourite book  the year it came out, although my kids are four years apart).
Kira lives in Guelph, Ontario. 
Course fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = 199
To reserve your spot, email:

Intensive Creative Writing
Ten weeks towards becoming a better writer
Offered in three locations:
Tuesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45 p.m.
September 25 – November 27
first reading emailed Sept 18
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
September 26 – December 5 (no class Oct 31)
first reading emailed Sept 19
St. Alban's Church, 537 Main Street, Georgetown, Ontario (in the village of Glen Williams – Map here.)
Friday mornings, 10:15 – 12:30, September 28 – November 30
first reading emailed Sept 21
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 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: $176.11 + 13% hst = $199
To reserve your spot, email:

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. Brian is the author of a children’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Tribute Publishing). 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 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.