Friday, July 25, 2014

It's easy to arrange a get-together with your fellow writers...

Rural writers get together for a picnic
Wouldn't it be great to get together with other writers on an in-formal basis to network, maybe do some writing in each other's company, or just hang out? For anyone wanting to arrange a get-together with your fellow writers, Quick Brown Fox maintains MeetUp pages to help you organize it. 

Just sign-up with the relevant MeetUp group (see below). Then click on +Schedule a New MeetUp (right under where it says Welcome writers!) and post the proposed time and place for your get together and the purpose; e.g. to drink too much coffee or just enough beer and shoot the breeze. to network, to write in good company, or whatever.

Send me an email, too, to bring your proposed get-together to my attention at brianhenry@sympatico.ca 
I’ll publicize your proposed get-together on the Quick Brown Fox blog and in the newsletter, too. (That will work best if you give me at least three weeks lead time.)

Quick Brown Fox maintains MeetUp Pages for Halton and Peel here, for Guelph, Georgetown and Brampton here, and for Toronto and points north (including York Region and Simcoe) here.  
– Brian

See my schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How to Write Great Dialogue workshop, Sunday, Oct 19, in Ottawa

“How to Write Great Dialogue”
~ The writer’s most important tool ~
Sunday, October 19, 2014
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tentative venue: Nepean Sportsplex, Hall E, 1701 Woodroffe Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario (Map here.)

Accessible to beginners and meaty enough for experienced writers, this workshop will show you how to use dialogue to make your stories more dynamic and dramatic.  

Whether you’re writing fiction or memoir, you need to be able to write great dialogue and need to know how to mix your dialogue and narrative so that your characters come alive.  Come to this workshop and learn both the basics and the best tricks of the trade so that you'll never write a lifeless scene again.

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 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.

Clint Eastwood gets some of the best movie lines of all time.
Fee: 40.71+ 13% hst = 46 paid in advance
or 43.36 + 13% hst = 
49 i at the door

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

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Children's books conquer the publishing world (or at least get the respect they deserve) by Brian Henry

Two developments have dominated the publishing world in recent years: the rise of digital publishing and the rise of the children’s book market.  Most people have paid more attention to the digital revolution, but today, I want to stop and look at the children’s book market.

It’s not a trend. Think of it more as the realignment of the continents that make up the book world. Certainly the start of this massive reordering should be dated from 1997 when J.K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 

But the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter series didn't move the publishing world all by itself. Indeed, I don’t think the tectonic plates actually started to slide until 2005 when Stephenie Meyer published Twilight.

That’s when New York finally woke up. Holy cow! they thought. There’s money in children’s books. And with that revelation, they realized they hadn't paid nearly enough attention to this side of the market.

For writers this has been a huge opportunity. Never before have so many publishing houses been pursuing so many children’s authors, so vigorously. And this has also been reflected in the agenting world. Readers of Quick Brown Fox will have noticed what an extraordinary number of new agents are looking for children’s lit – Young Adult and Middle Grade, of course, but even picture books – picture books!

Not long ago, I used to advise new authors not even to bother trying to get an agent for their first picture book because they simply wouldn’t find one – no one was interested. Well, no longer.

Picture books remain expensive to produce and so the market has not exploded like YA, but it’s robust, and with the advent of e–picture books for tablets, the explosion of this market may come soon.  

Also, Middle Grade authors are finding themselves in growing demand. To date, the children’s books revolution has focused on Young Adult books; this was the area of the publishing world expanding most aggressively and that was most hungry for new writers.  And financially, YA continues to lead the pack. 

For example, the AAP recently released sales statistics for both February and March 2014, showing overall trade sales of $1.414 billion, rising 7 percent compared to a year ago, up $92 million. All of the market growth and then some is due to children's/YA books, thanks to robust sales for both Veronica Roth (author of the Divergent series) and John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars and many other YA books).

Still, the eyes of agents and publishers are turning increasingly to Middle Grade authors. It may be that, for new authors, the Middle Grade market is now even hotter than YA, and certainly, this remains the best time in history to be writing children’s books – of any sort.

By the way, I have a “Writing for Children and for Young Adults workshop coming up on Saturday, November 8, in Guelph (see here) - Brian

See my full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Algoma, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Write a Bestseller with New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, Sat, Dec 6, in London

"How to Write a Bestseller"
With book editor Brian Henry
 & New York Times #1 bestselling author 
Kelley Armstrong 
Saturday, December 6, 2014
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
London Central Library, Stevenson & Hunt Room A, 251 Dundas Street, London, Ontario.  Details here
This workshop will give you the inside scoop on what gives a novel best-selling potential. You’ll learn how to get readers emotionally involved in your story, how to raise tension, control your pacing and keep your readers turning the pages. But you won't just hear about some of the best secrets of the trade; you'll learn how to apply them to give your own writing a sharp new edge.
Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher 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 Moncton. He has helped many of his students get published, including guest speaker Kelley Armstrong...
Kelley Armstrong lives in Aylmer, south of London, Ontario, with her husband and three children. She used to program computers and attend Brian Henry workshops. Now she writes international bestsellers. Kelley has hit the New York Time’s bestseller list with both her supernatural thrillers for adults and her urban fantasy for teens.
Laura Vandervoort and Greyston Holt 
play Elena and Clayton on the set of Bitten
Kelley's principal publishers are Random House Canada, Dutton and HarperCollins in the U.S. and Doubleday in Britain. To date, she's published more than two dozen books, most recently Wild Justice, a crime thriller for adults, Sea of Shadows a fantasy novel for teens, and Odin’s Ravens a fantasy novel for Middle Grade readers. 
Visions, a contemporary gothic novel for adults, will be out in August 2014 and Otherworld Nights, a collection of short supernatural stories for adults, will be out in October 2014.
Bitten, A TV series based on Kelley’s first 13 novels, started broadcasting in January 2014.
Fee: 40.71+ 13% hst = 46 paid in advance by mail or Interac
or 43.36 + 13% hst = 
49 if you wait to pay at the door
Reserve a spot now. Email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian's full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Literary agent Siobhan McBride of Serendipity seeks fiction, memoir and nonfiction, including adult and YA and especially darker fiction

Siobhan McBride with Baxter
Serendipity Literary Agency
305 Gates Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Siobhan McBride joined Serendipity Literary Agency in 2014, and like all new agents, she needs authors. With an affinity for literary fiction, Siobhan believes voice and character development are the foundations of every good story. 

Although she appreciates a good laugh, Siobhan is at home in the sinister. With a special interest in the darker, macabre aspects of life, she sees paranormal fiction and horror as underappreciated forms deeply rooted in psychology. She appreciates authors unafraid of delving into these inner workings of the human psyche.  

Siobhan was raised in New York's Hudson Valley region and studied painting, drawing, and ceramics before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz. She began her career in Publishing as an intern for the literary agency Objective Entertainment, and from there went on to work as a writer in the Editorial departments of various magazines including MovieMaker and Chronogram. Her passion for music and film led her to becoming the Music Editor of CriticalMob, and eventually moved on to do freelance work with their parent company, Company Cue. Recently she has been tutoring young adults as a volunteer with 826NYC.

Siobhan looks forward to creating lasting relationships with her clients and wants to work closely with them to give life to the vision of their work. Holding positions on both sides of the editorial field gives her a strong grasp of what an audience is looking for and the knack to balance that with a writers' artistic drive. 

You can check out Siobhan’s Facebook page here.

Siobhan is looking for voice driven works whether Fiction, Memoir, or Nonfiction. She is open to a broad range of genres, but holds a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Thrillers, Historical, and daring Young Adult works. She is also looking to represent a range of Memoir and Nonfiction titles, with an interest in Investigative and True Crime.

Query Siobhan through Serendipity’s submissions page here.
You can direct your submission directly to Siobhan by requesting her in the body of the submission form.
Full guidelines for fiction here, nonfiction here, and children’s lit here. Serendipity also has separate guidelines for artists.

Carly Watters
Brian Henry will lead a “How to Get Published” workshops in Oakville on Saturday, Sept 27, with literary agent Carly Watters (see here) and in Niagara on the Lake on Sunday, March 1, with literary agent Olga Filina (email brianhenry@sympatico.ca for details.)

Brian also has one more great workshop coming up this summer: 
“You Can Write Great Characters” Saturday, August 16, in Hamilton (details here).

But the best way to get your manuscript ready for publication is with a weekly course. This fall, Brian will be offering weekly classes for writers from beginning to advanced. Check out details of all six upcoming classes here

Specifically, Brian is offering “Welcome to Creative Writing” class on Tuesday mornings in Burlington (see here), “Writing Your Life & Other Personal Stories” on Tuesday afternoons in Burlington (see here), “The Next Step in Creative Writing” on Wednesday evenings in Burlington (see here), on Thursday afternoons in Mississauga (see here) and Thursday evenings in Georgetown (see here). He’s offering “Intensive Creative Writing” on Wednesday afternoons in Burlington (see here).

To register or for more details of any course or workshop, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian's full schedule 
here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

“Gold Rush” a short story by Muhammad Javed


“He that is not handsome at 20, nor strong at 30, nor rich at 40, nor wise at 50  will never be handsome, strong, rich or wise.” - George Herbert

I read this quote and pondered. I became handsome, strong and wise somewhere during my high school days. My late grandmother used to tell me so every time she kissed my forehead. However,  I am over forty now and I am not yet rich. My wife reminds me this every morning at breakfast. I’d take her views with a grain of salt, but a history of bounced cheques, collection accounts and relentless borrowing supports her hypothesis.

So … have I missed the train? No, there are always exceptions to the rule. There are always anomalies. I can still be rich. I just have to find a way.

It has to be quick, but I do not want to start a Ponzi scheme or get caught in one. I cannot buy a lottery ticket or go to the casino; I am a devout Muslim, or at least my long beard gives that impression. 

There is money in tennis and soccer, but my legs will probably protest at that. Professional wrestling? I am a bit short for that, plus there is the risk of dying. I need something that I can keep doing well into my sixties.

I googled and narrowed the list of possibilities to three: Poker, golf and writing.

But to succeed at poker, one must have luck and a poker face. I have neither.  Well, then it was a tie between golf and writing. I tossed a coin then bought a bag of used golf sticks from a thrift store. A listing on Kijiji offered golf lessons for beginners from someone named Tiger Woods, so I called him and booked an appointment for the next Saturday.

Saturday came and it rained all day. While waiting in the club house for some thirty days, I picked up a novel from the club library: Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. It included a short interview with the author, Jeffrey Archer, in which Mr. Archer talks about how that novel helped him get out of bankruptcy. For the first time in my life, I experienced a Eureka moment. I demanded a refund Mr. Woods, came home, went online, and booked a creative writing course.

On Monday I went for my first class. Our ring leader was an accomplished editor and writer, or so he told us. But is he rich? I wondered.

He had long white unbridled hair. White hair seems to be to intellectuals as tattoos are to rock stars; it shows they belong to the clan. He told us that he would be dealing with fiction only. Now that was a problem.

I cannot write fiction. I cannot make up stories. I cannot lie. You can ask anyone other than my wife, my in-laws, my brother, my neighbour Scot, my manager, or a dozen estranged relatives. I wanted to write non-fiction. I already had a title, A briefer History of Time in a Nutshell. 
Disappointed, I left early but returned the next week, when I found out that there was no way to get a refund of my $150. Golf sticks cost me just five dollars.

In the next few weeks I discovered my dark side. I can write fiction. I have made up stories before, mainly for my wife's pleasure or otherwise. Writing fiction is much easier. Lying to your wife is like doing it with a pistol to your head. One mistake and that’s it. Here, I could tell a lie carelessly. I was not even in danger of getting caught. They all knew it was a lie and still said bravo.

There were about ten of us, mostly females. Hmm, was writing is manly enough? Also, none of my classmates seemed to be out for a gold rush. The hustle of the land grab was missing. Had I made another wrong decision? Would I ever be rich?

At the beginning, most of the class did not take me seriously. No, I am lying. They didn’t take me seriously as a writer. They did wonder why Al-Qaida was trying to infiltrate writing circles in Canada. What made me abandon my sleeper cell? 

After 9-11 came the letter bombs.  Was it time for book bombs – words jumping from the lines and exploding into the eyes, story lines that could inflict irreparable physiological damage? Imagine, the President of the USA receives a book from a friend, reads a bit at night and wakes up insane.

Hey, how about that for a novel? That’s quite a leap of imagination. I know. My imagination has grown leaps and bounds. I am astonished with myself, and pleased. I think my 150 dollars were well spent But I was not yet rich.

As I approached my car after attending the last class, I opened up the trunk to see if the golf sticks were still there. I knew I had to find Tiger's number again.

Next weekend at the club house, Tiger told us of the ten thousand hours rule. According to the rule, it is impossible to attain excellence in any skill or trade, without spending at least ten thousand hours on it. I am thinking, that’s a lot of time. A few years, even if you include weekends. I will have to hit the tiny white ball for millions of times before winning the Masters.

We went out and I teed off. As I searched for the ball in the bush, I convinced myself that I could make it to the Masters in less than ten thousand hours. After all, there are always exceptions to the rule. There are always anomalies.

Muhammad Javed is an IT professional from Oakville, Ontario, and a PhD candidate at Ryerson University.  He’s planning to start his own blog soon: www.discretely.org.  He fears it may not be as popular as, say an adult hookups blog, Previously his writing has mostly been academic and technical. With the blog, he plans to take it further, away from the professional and academic realms, though he has doubts about how popular topics in Discrete Mathematics can possibly be. He had never wanted to write fiction until he took a creative writing this spring. “But now,” he says, “I have tasted blood.”

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

"What The Dog Thought" and "One Thing No Frog Should Forget," two poems for children by Bruce Lenton

What The Dog Thought
The muddled moon does nothing right,
At him I bark, by dark of night:
He has no tail to go wagging by,
He has no smell there in the sky.
Should he come down here for a fight,
I’d lift my leg and fix him right,
And this is why I bark and yelp,
The thoughtless thing just needs my help!


One Thing No Frog Should Forget
A little green frog, all slimy and wet,
Forgot one thing no frog should forget.
When he ate a beetle, there was no doubt,
His bright golden eyes turned inside out,
But it was by downing that fat old toad,
Our poor green froggy could not but explode.
So listen wee froggies and learn as you might,
Don’t chew off more than you’re able to bite.


Bruce Lenton of Sault Saint Marie aims to carry on the long tradition of humorous children’s rhyming poetry Bruce is a retired elementary teacher who has written three poetry books, several short stories, and a book of Children’s songs.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.