Monday, June 24, 2019

“You Should Give Back That Money You Stole from Your Wife” by Alan McKenzie


I was incensed that my brother was accusing me of being a thief. I could only assume that my wife, Sadie, had told him that $3,000 was missing off her bank account. He guessed that as I had been spending money and had very little in the way of income that I had stolen it from her.

I know it had been a couple of years since I borrowed the money from Sadie, so on receipt of that rude note from my brother I immediately told Sadie that the reason I had not bothered her was that I was expecting a large sum of money from the sale of some valuable books. Priceless volumes I was selling on Kijiji.

That was why I was so mad at my brother’s note implying, falsely, that I was a thief.

It was a horrendous misrepresentation of the fact that those funds were a loan to me. And a loan cannot be a theft, can it?

I was seriously thinking of suing my brother for libel. Or was it slander?

Anyway, the point was he needed to be taught a serious lesson. You cannot go around calling someone a thief. If one borrowed money from another person, then clearly that was a loan. To my mind that was clearly what I was doing. And do not forget I was borrowing from my wife. Husbands and wives do this all the time.

And let’s not forget these precious books I am selling on Kijiji would make anyone’s jaw drop. For instance one book is a History of Iceland and is a first edition dated 1810. You would have to hunt forever to find a book like that. It only has damp stains on the bottom half of the volume. Must be worth thousands of dollars.

So you see, once these books sell I will be able to repay that loan I borrowed from her bank account. I took Sadie to one side and explained these details to her so that she could see quite clearly that a loan is not the same as stealing! I must admit I was a little perturbed when she looked me in the eye and snorted, and then walked away.

Do you understand what I am saying here? My brother has fed her mind with his slander. Or is it libel? He is going to pay for this. I will make sure of that!

In the meanwhile, though, my beautiful books took longer to sell than I expected. Two years later they were still on Kijiji. It seems as though Kijiji buyers are not cultured enough to want to buy good books. I ask you, is that my fault? Of course not! Do these uncultured people make me a thief? What utter rot! It was a simple loan. Any reasonable person can see that!

Right?
***
Alan McKenzie is retired but  has privately published two non-fiction books on the history of the Scottish Mackenzie Clan Society. As the writer and Editor of the Canadian Mackenzie Society he produced four magazine (20 pages) for over 30 years. Alan has plans to write a fictional crime novel based on his four years' experience as an inspector with his bank's Inspections Department which dealt with a number of frauds and thefts during that time. 

See Brian Henry’s 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.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Intensive Creative Writing courses ~ starting soon!


Intensive Creative Writing
Offered at two times:
Wednesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45
 July 3 – August 21, 2019
1st readings emailed June 26. Details to come.
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church
5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
 July 3 – August 21, 2019
1st readings emailed June 26.
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
Note: For information about the introductory creative writing class offered this summer, see 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 eight weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in three 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, emailbrianhenry@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, June 20, 2019

"Get thee to the Briars," a review of the Briars Writing Retreat, by Mark Baker



You go to a writer's retreat to write, right? Well, sure, that's part of it. I've written some stuff I'm fond of at retreats. But I can write at home too, and I’m really not going to finish that novel in a weekend. No, for me, writer's retreats are really about the things I can't do at home, even about the person I can't be at home. 

See, writers are nuts. We work for a pittance that Oliver Twist would turn his nose up at. We spend hours alone between four walls imagining worlds full of light and color and adventure, worlds peopled by the good and the beautiful, the pious and the damned. And yet there is just such a world outside the room in which we sit scribbling. We're mad, mad I tell you!

The world knows we’re nuts. They treat us as they treat all crazy people, with gentle condescension. "Would I have read anything of yours?" they ask, knowing full well that they haven't read anything other than the back of a cereal box in ten years. "Oh, I doubt it," you say modestly. And there ends the conversation. The normal person can now escape safely without troubling their conscience. They asked a polite question about writing; their social obligation has been met. 

The Briars Resort, full of nooks and crannies,
ideal for curling up with your laptop and writing
Of course, there is one other question we get from time to time. "Where do your get your ideas from?" If you hear this one, back away slowly. People who ask this are crazier than you are. 

But you know the one place that no one will ever ask you these inane questions? A writer's retreat. Because we all get it. Of course we haven't read each other's books yet, because we haven't cracked the best seller list yet. And we have no clue where our ideas come from: life, the universe, everything?

That is why we go to writer's retreats, for there, like Hamlet in England: "Twill, a not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he."

A writer's retreat is a place where everyone is just the same amount of crazy as you are, which is almost like being in a place where everyone is sane.

You can sit staring out the window with a notebook idle in your hand and a well-bitten pencil between your teeth and no one will assume you are bored and in want of conversation. No, they will tiptoe by you in silence because they instantly recognize that you are WRITING!

 A writer's retreat is a place where you can sit the the bar, supping wine and discussing the relative merits of Hamlet, Hornblower, and Harry Potter and no earnest grad student will derail the conversation with a Marxist critique or semiotic blither blather. 

What makes a great writer's retreat? It comes down to two things: the facilities and the company. The best place to find both? Probably some literary salon in Paris, London, or New York in the 1930s. But in Ontario in the 21 century, it is Brian Henry's annual retreat at the Briars in November.


(With all due respect to Brian's summer retreat in Algonquin Park, if I want endless grey-green forests and sunrises on still, misty, silent lakes disturbed only by the cry of a loon, I can write them myself, but I can't write a decent glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. The Briars has a well stocked bar with comfortable seating. Algonquin park has trees.)

The Briars also has history, character, endless nooks and crannies where you can install yourself to write or to chat, as the mood takes you. There are even trees and grass and a lake outside, if you are into that sort of thing. It has good food and good wine. 

Most importantly of all, it has the company of aspiring writers: people who are exactly the same amount of crazy as you are. You can talk about the craft and about books and about your ambition for that book contract that will leave you in penury for many years to come.

You can read your work aloud if you wish. No one will laugh (except at the jokes). No one will back away nervously. Here they are all as mad as we. Get thee therefore to a retreat. Specifically, get thee to the Brian's retreat at The Briars in November. See you there. 
***
For information about upcoming writers’ retreats, at both the Briars on Lake Simcoe and Arowhon Pines in Algonquin Park, see here (and scroll down). For a report on Arowhon Pines resort where the annual June retreat is held, by someone who does like trees, see here.

Mark Baker is a writer living in Kitchener. His stories have appeared in The Rockford Review, Storyteller, Solander, Our FamilyNew England's Coastal JournalFantasy Book, and The Atlantic Advocate. He is the author of several non-fiction books and is working on a novel (or two).

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

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Starting soon! Introductory & Intensive creative writing classes


Exploring Creative Writing
Tuesday afternoons, 1 – 3 p.m.
July 2 – Aug 13, 2019
Woodside Library, 1274 Rebecca St, Oakville, Ontario (Map here.)
This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, 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, totally safe setting, where your words will grow and flower.
Fee:  $167.26 plus 13% hst = 189

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Intensive Creative Writing
Offered at two times:

Wednesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45
 July 3 – August 21, 2019
1st readings emailed June 26. Details to come.
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church
5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
 July 3 – August 21, 2019
1st readings emailed June 26.
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, 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 eight weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in three 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: 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. 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, 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.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

"Just Turn" by Sheena Whitworth


His oblivion to her pain crippled her
Doubling her over to contain her grief
Why did he choose to not see her need?
Why did he sit impenetrable in ignorance?
Why did he not turn and embrace her?

Why did she try to conceal her anguish?
Why did she not recognize their pain was mutual?
Why did she not see his need was as deep as hers?
Why did she not know that his strength was a facade?
Why did she choose to suffer alone and in silence?

There was a barrier between them stronger it seemed than stone
It could be shattered with one small step towards the other
Arms, eyes and hearts open and vulnerable
First she would have to look up and see a man outwardly strong but inwardly fractured
First he would have to look over his shoulder and see a woman silently pleading with him
Paralyzed by the grief of their lost child they would remain in solitude

Sheena Whitworth is new to writing and is finding her voice, and as retirement approaches, she is looking forward to spending more time on this. She is most comfortable with humour and also loves to take readers on a path with an unexpected twist at the end. But she also has a darker side which sometimes takes over her mind and pen. She is looking forward to long summer days at her cottage on the lake, developing her writing style, accompanied by her four-legged but one-eyed dog, Toby.

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

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Fall Creative Writing Courses: Introductory, Personal Stories, The Next Step, and Intensive,


Welcome to Creative Writing
9 weeks of discovering your creative side
Thursday evenings, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
September 26 – November 28, 2019 (No class Oct 31)
Woodside Library, Oakville, ON
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 your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Writing Personal Stories
9 weeks of sharing and writing
Offered in two locales:
Thursday afternoons, 12:45 – 2:45 p.m.
September 26 – November 28, 2019 (No class Oct 31)
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Friday afternoons, 1:15 – 3:15 p.m.
September 27 – November 29, 2019 (no class Nov 1)
Glenview Church, Bethlehem Room, 1 Glenview Ave, Toronto, 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: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Next Step in Creative Writing
10 weeks of growth as a writer
Tuesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45
September 24 – Dec 11. (no class Oct 8 or Nov 5)
First readings emailed Sept 17
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

Intensive Creative Writing
12 intense weeks of writing & critiquing
Offered in two locations:
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
September 18 – December 11 (no class Oct 9)
First reading emailed Sept 11
St. Alban's Church, 537 Main Street, Georgetown, Ontario (in the village of Glen Williams (Map here.)
And
Friday mornings, 10:15 – 12:30
September 20 – December 13 (no class Nov 1)
First reading emailed Sept 13
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.
Fee: $229.20 + 13% 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. 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, 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.