Sunday, March 1, 2015

“The Lost Family” by Sarah Brisley


“Daddy, where's Mummy?  Where is she, Daddy?  Have we lost her?”
            “Don't worry, Arthur. She'll catch up. We'll go to the cafe and wait for her.”  Dan wasn't worried.  They always lost Beth in museums and galleries.  She stopped at every bloody painting, pored over the brochure, and then peered into the picture, lost to the world. As usual.  Where the hell was she now? The last time he had seen her she was looking dreamily at a painting of a garden, with a pond and some sort of bridge over it. To him, it had looked really boring.
            Arthur pulled at his arm, “Daddy, can I have ice cream in the cafe?  A bubblegum ice cream. Please, please...''
            “Only if you're a good boy, but don't get it all over yourself this time or on me again.  That bloody stuff is full of blue dye.  You'll have to be careful, I've got my good suit on. You hear me?”
            “Yes Daddy, I will, I promise.” Arthur said, and skipped along holding tight on to his Dad's hand.
            The National Gallery cafe was nearly empty.  Arthur had devoured his large bubblegum ice cream cone, but now his blue-stained mouth was trembling. Tears were trailing through the creamy blue smudges on his cheeks and chin. 
            “Where is she, Daddy?  Where’s Mummy?”
            Damned if he knew. Her cell had gone straight to voice mail.  They'd have to go back and find her. Retrace all their steps. Bloody woman.
            It was four-thirty, they still hadn't found her, and the gallery would be closing soon.  They had been around it all twice. 
            Arthur clung to Dan and sniveled into his damp rumpled suit. “I want Mummy,” he cried.
            “I know, Arthur, I know. We'll find her, buddy.” He hoped.
            Would Beth do it again? Maybe lose herself for good this time?  He knew she wasn't happy.  But it wasn't all his fault.  Goddamn her.  He did his best. Someone had to be the sensible one in the family.
            Would the bridge painting have tempted her?  It was time to go back and have a better look at it, but he didn't want to worry Arthur.  Dan gingerly grasped his son's sticky blue hand as they walked slowly towards a Monet painting on the back wall.
            A brochure lay discarded on the floor. Dan's heart skipped a beat as he drew closer to the painting of the bridge.  It looked different.  Was that a tiny figure on the bridge?  The bridge had been empty before, hadn't it?  Dan thought the shadowy and indistinct figure looked like a woman.  Could it be Beth?  The figure's arm was raised. It seemed to be beckoning to them.
            Arthur tore from his hand, and ran towards the painting. “Its Mummy.”
            “No Arthur, wait, stay here.  Arthur!”
            “Mummy...”
            Arthur crashed into the wall, clambering up with his hands towards the ornate gilt frame.   His sticky pudgy blue fingers gripped on to the frame.  Dan saw the painted figure on the bridge shift, and the paint rippled, the figure's hand grew larger, bulging out of the painting. 
            “Mummy, Mummy.”
            The painted hand gripped Arthur's. Dan dashed forward, desperately reaching out to his dangling son. But Arthur's body suddenly flattened and began to flow with his mother's hand back into the painting, melding into the oily surface, creeping up towards the bridge. 
            Dan stood numbly, glaring at the painting. How could she? How could she take Arthur? Stupid, selfish woman. Dan's hands felt empty and cold as he stared helplessly at the blue ice-cream smears on the wall. Then he tentatively stepped forward and peered deep into the painting.
            Two shadowy gray figures now stood on the bridge, a little figure was holding on to a bigger figure.  Both of them seemed to be looking straight at him. The bigger figure still had its right arm outstretched, beckoning and inviting. The sun-speckled painting looked lush and beautiful. The pond was banked by yellow-green foliage, and a delicate dark green bridge spanned the sparkling blue water.  Pale pink and white water lilies calmly floated on the pond's surface.  It looked so peaceful and inviting, so tempting, like a Garden of Eden.  He could almost feel the warmth of the sun, hear the soft ripple of the water, and smell the sweet scent of the flowers.

Breaking News in the Art World, London Daily News
            Three figures have been added to the Monet “Japanese Footbridge” painting, which hangs in the National Gallery, London.  A family of three now stands on the bridge, gazing down into the pond.   Their faces are clear, and the figures are distinct.  A man stands with his arm around a woman, and a little boy stands between them.  Their clothes look oddly modern and the boy has strange blue streaks on his face.
             Art experts say these figures were definitely not in the painting before and have no explanation as to how the figures got there.  Investigation is underway.

Sarah Brisley lives in Burlington, Ontario, and has worked in various clerical, banking and secretarial positions within the GTA for 38 years. She is currently unemployed but is enjoying having some time to write, paint and draw.  Recently she has become a new grandmother, to a lovely little five-month old grandson called Arthur.

See Brian Henry’s 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, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Exploring Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings, April 15 – June 17, in Burlington

Exploring Creative Writing
10 weeks of discovering your creative side
Wednesday evenings, April 15 – June 17, 2015
– 9 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. We’ll explore writing fictional stories and writing true stories, writing technique and creativity technique, getting down your very best writing and just for fun writing. 

The class has the same format as "Welcome to Creative Writing," but we look at different aspects of writing. With either course, you 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.

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 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 details of all five courses, from introductory to advanced, starting this spring here.
Read reviews of Brian's courses here.

Fee: 149.56 plus 13% hst = 169
To reserve your spot, 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, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New short story collection by Ed McDermott: Crossing the Lake and Other Stories

Hi, Brian.
Crossing the Lake and Other Stories is now available on Kindle and on Smashwords. Eight historical stories for only $1.99.  You can buy it on Amazon here.

The stories:
Crossing the Lake In 1837, in Upper Canada, The failure of a rebellion left its leaders no choice but to flee.
A Debt of Honor In 1920 in County Cork, the bitter war between the IRA and the Black and Tans spilled onto Patrick’s farm. Patrick was a pacifist but not a coward.
Number 21 Rue le Sueur In Paris after the war, an American Colonel questions a Gestapo agent about the events at 21 Rue le Sueur.
The Theater Conundrum In January 1597 William Shakespeare has a problem. The lease on the Blackfrairs is running out and he doesn’t have any alternative.
Shirley Winters During the Blitz, a young woman with a secret drives an ambulance through the night under blackout.
The Duel Vienna after the WWI is a romantic fairyland and the best place to be is at the Sophina Salon to flirt and dance the waltz and fight a duel.
Mother of a People She never bore a child but became the mother of a people, the wearers of the blue veil.
Attack Along the Road In May 1940, a SU87 strafed the civilians fleeing on the road and brought the war home to Madeline.
Enjoy!
Ed McDermott

See Brian Henry’s 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, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Literary agent Victoria Selvaggio seeks picture books, middle-grade, YA, new adult, and adult fiction

Victoria Selvaggio
Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency
31 East 32nd Street
Suite 300
New York, NY 10016

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. ~ Brian

The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency is a full-service literary agency founded in 2001.  The agency represents children’s literature for all ages – picture books and middle-grade and young adult novels – but also represents high-quality adult fiction and non-fiction in a wide range of genres. JDLA is proud to represent illustrators, as well as screenwriters for both television and film.

Victoria Selvaggio is the newest member of the team, and like all new agents, she needs authors. Victoria was a volunteer and Regional Advisor for Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, Northern Ohio. Vicki has been reading manuscripts for the agency and is now building her own list of clients.

"I am currently looking for lyrical picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction, new adult, mysteries, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, narrative nonfiction, adult fiction,” says Victoria. “But I’m especially drawn to Middle Grade and Young Adult. I especially love thrillers and all elements of weird, creepy stuff. If it’s out of the box, and it will make me think and think, long after I’m done reading, send it to me! On the flip side, I yearn for books that make me laugh, cry and wonder about the world.

Query Victoria at: vselvaggio@windstream.net
Put "Query" in the subject line of your email. For queries regarding children's and adult fiction, please send the first twenty pages in the body of your email, along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis.
For queries regarding a non-fiction book, please attach the entire proposal as a Word document (the proposal should include a sample chapter), along with a one-paragraph bio and a one-paragraph synopsis of your book in the body of your email.

Martha Magor Webb
Brian Henry will lead "How to Get Published" workshops in Niagara on the Lake on Saturday, March 7, with literary agent Olga Filina of The Rights Factory (see here), in Windsor on Sunday, May 31, with Martha Magor Webb of the Anne McDermid Agency (see here), and in Mississauga on Saturday, June 20, with Martha Magor Webb of the Anne McDermid Agency (see here). 

Also, Brian will lead a “Writing for Children & for Young Adults” workshop with Anne Shone, Senior Editor at Scholastic Canada, on Saturday, May 2, in Oakville (see here).

For more information or to register for a workshop or class, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Other upcoming workshops, include  “How to Build Your Story,”  Saturday, February 28 in Collingwood (see here), Saturday, March 14 in Burlington (here), Saturday, May 9 in London (here) and Saturday, May 30 in Guelph (here), and “Writing great characters & From fact to fiction,” Saturday, March 28 in Brampton (here).

The spring session of Brian’s Weekly creative writing courses begins in April See details of all five weekly courses for beginners to advanced writers here.

Welcome to Creative Writing” will be offered Wednesday evenings in Burlington (see here), “Writing Personal Stories” on Tuesday afternoons in Georgetown (here), “The Next Step in Creative Writing” on Thursday afternoons in Mississauga (here) and on Thursday evenings in Georgetown (here) and “Intensive Creative Writing” on Wednesday afternoons in Burlington (here).

Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops here.
For more information or to reserve a spot, 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, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, February 23, 2015

How to Get Published workshop with literary agent Martha Magor Webb, Saturday, June 20, in Mississuaga

Sweetland by Michael Crummey,
one of Martha's clients
“How to Get Published”
~ An editor & an agent tell all ~
Saturday, June 20, 2015
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Unity Church, Unit 8, 3075 Ridgeway Drive, Mississauga, Ontario
(Don’t look for a steeple. Unity Church is a unit in a business mall and looks nothing like a church. Map here.)

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, 3 copies could be helpful.

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.

Guest speaker, Martha Magor Webb, is a literary agent, director and full partner at Anne McDermid and Associates.

The McDermid agency represents literary novelists and commercial novelists of high quality and writers of nonfiction in the areas of memoir, biography, history, literary travel, popular science, investigative journalism and true crime. The agency also represents a certain number of children's and YA writers and writers in the fields of science fiction and fantasy.

The McDermid agency's clients include distinguished literary novelists such as David Adams Richards (Winner of the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award for both fiction and nonfiction), Nino Ricci, Andrew Pyper, Michael Winter, Michael Crummey, and Alison Pick.

The agency also represents nonfiction authors, such as Charles Montgomery, Andrew Westoll, and James MacKinnon, all three of whom won the prestigious Charles Taylor prize for literary nonfiction in their years of publication. And the agency represents upmarket commercial fiction writers, such as Leah McLaren from the Globe and Mail, Andrew Pyper, Robert Wiersema, and Peter Darbyshire. (More about the McDermid Agency here.)

Martha represents a growing list of writers, focusing on literary fiction, narrative nonfiction (including memoir and true crime) and ideas-driven nonfiction.

Her clients include Michael Crummey (multiple award-winning author of Sweetland), Alison Pick (long-listed for the Booker Prize), Robyn Doolittle (Bestselling author of Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story) Pasha Malla (long-listed for the Giller, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, winner of the Danuta Gleed and the Trillium awards), Damian Tarnopolsky (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Amazon.ca award), Russell Smith, Jessica Grant, (winner of the Amazon.ca First Novel and the Winterset awards), Grace O'Connell, Matt Lennox, Andrew Westoll, and Karen Le Billon, whose first book French Kids Eat Everything sold into thirteen countries and translated into ten languages.

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

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

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. ~ Brian

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, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bankers Town by Joel Hames reviewed by Charlene Jones

Amazon Digital Services, 326 pps, Kindle only $3.46 or paperback $24.84 here.

This book serves up an economical read. By putting two books into one Hames feeds his readers a fictional account of one man’s rise and fall and a factual narrative about how banks and international finance work.

The first fifty pages brim with the factual. Hames treats his readers to a complete explication of how global financial markets work. Soon the reader is also treated to the fictional world of Alex Konninger, a lively psychopath who strings us along by the brilliance of his lies.

This fictional character’s impressively psychopathic, or psycho-pathetic, tendencies,
 hook the reader into wondering how exactly his life will unfold. Protagonist Alex’s ability to forego any moral considerations, his capacity to act upon nothing but greed and self-interest since, as he points out (in the manner of narcissistic personalities everywhere) “THEY” are all doing the same thing, boggles the reader’s mind.

Really? People in high finance are really that driven by avarice? Maybe. Or maybe that answer satisfies our desire (excuse me, I mean those of us who do not reap millions of dollars per year in wages and bonus) to see those very wealthy people as spiritually bankrupt. That satisfaction gets massaged repeatedly as Alex falls from one pitiful, drunken disaster to another without taking the consequences. 

It is the amount of alcohol, the number of mornings sacrificed to body paralyzing hangovers that keeps the picture in our mind straight. Here is a character who deeply deserves what we begin to see will befall him. Again, a very satisfying sense of completeness, of the universe unfolding as it should.

That is the fiction. In the world in which a global recession hit apparently out of the blue, no one at the top took the fall. We all know that. We all know that and we all keep investing in the casino known as the stock market, because we too, wish to be the winners who rake in many, many dollars. In this way we forgive those who created the monstrous recession that saw millions lose their homes, their jobs, their way of life; we forgive those who orchestrated this suffering, because we know given a chance, we’d love to have our dirty hands on those wheels of power.

The book describes those wheels and the hands that turn them. Hames is a skillful writer, carefully executing the actions, and justifications of a morally deficit individual working within what may be the most morally corrupt area of our times. At least, those of  us who don’t reap millions of dollars by playing in those areas like to believe it so. 

Quick Brown Fox wants your book reviews. Details hereRead how to write a book review here.

Charlene Jones’ poetry has most recently appeared on Commuterlit. This, poem, “Visitors to the ROM” was a runner up in the Ontario Poetry Society’s annual Arborealis poetry contest. Charlene also writes for her radio program Off the Top with Whistle Radio, 102.7 fm, aired every second Tuesday from 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. (Note: Whistle Radio and CommuterLit have recently teamed up to run a monthly contest. Details here.) You can see Charlene perform her poetry and prose at Portobello Restaurant and Bar the first Saturday every month in Toronto. Finally,  Chalene’s first novel, The Stain was released in September.

See Brian Henry’s 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, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.