Thursday, May 28, 2020

Quick Brown Fox is on Twitter!



See this is what happens when your 20-something is quarantined. She sets up a Twitter account for her dad and drags him into the 21st century.
Thanks, sweetie!
Follow me on @Bquickbrownfox_ 
Retweet me, please. And make me positively viral – which sounds disgusting and dangerous but is actually a good thing, right?
See you in the Twitterverse
~ Brian

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Raising the Stakes workshop, Saturday, July 18, in Burlington


Raising the Stakes
How to increase your story's tension 
Saturday, July 18, 2020
1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
St. Elizabeth Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario (Map here)

Ever stayed up all night reading a book? In this workshop, you’ll learn you how to build that kind of tension.  And we'll help you put into practice the techniques professionals use – on every page and in every kind of story – to create drama and raise the tension in each scene they write.

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. 
See reviews of Brian's classes and workshops here.

Note: By July 18 it seems almost certain that small gatherings will be allowed, though with physical distancing and participants wearing masks. But given the pandemic, it’s always possible this workshop will have to be rescheduled. On the plus side, we will of necessity be a small group and enjoy ample opportunity for interaction.

Fee: $40.71+ hst = $46 paid in advance 
or $44.25 + hst = $50 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding 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.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Writing for Children and for Young Adults, Saturday, Sept 12, in Mississauga


Guest speaker Anne Shone
Writing for Children and for Young Adults
  ~ The world’s hottest market
With Scholastic Books Executive Editor
  ~ Anne Shone 
Saturday, September 12, 2020
{Originally scheduled for Saturday, June 13 in Alliston}
10:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. {or maybe a bit later}
St Stephen’s on the Hill, 998 Indian Rd, Mississauga, Ontario, in the Common Room (Map here)

If you want to write the next best-selling children’s books or just want to create stories for your own kids, this workshop is for you. Learn how to write stories kids and young adults will love and find out what you need to know to sell your book. Be sure to bring all your questions – we'll have lots of time for interaction.
Special option: You may, but don't have to, bring 3 copies of the opening couple pages (first 500 words) of your children’s book or young adult novel (or up to 750 words if that gets you to the end of your picture book or to the end of your first chapter.) If you’re not currently working on a children’s story, don’t worry, we’ll get you started on the spot!
Note: This workshop was originally scheduled for June in Alliston, but we needed a larger space to allow for physical distancing. But even with the larger space, we will still need to be a small group, so this will be an outstanding opportunity to network and get feedback on your manuscript from one of the most experienced Kid Lit editors in Canada.
Guest speaker Anne Shone is the Executive Editor at Scholastic Canada, where she acquires books for publication. Scholastic Canada does not usually accept un-agented manuscripts, unless you’ve heard Anne speak at a workshop, so for anyone considering submitting to Scholastic, this workshop is a great opportunity.  
Anne has worked in book publishing for over twenty years, concentrating on children’s books for the last fifteen. In that time, she has worked with many of Canada’s top children’s book authors and illustrators. 
Recent highlights include: picture books (Friends for Real by Ted Staunton, illustrated by Ruth Ohi; Can You Imagine? by Wallace Edwards; and Nibi’s Water Song by Sunshine Tenascoc , illustrated by Chief Lady Bird); novels (My Best Friend and Other Illusions by Suri Rosen; Waiting Under Water by Riel Nason; and the Almost Epic Squad series); nonfiction (Keep Up, Katmai by Barrett Hedges and Pili Palm-Leis; and It Seemed Like a Good Idea….  by Ted Staunton and Will Staunton), to name just a few. 
Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor, author, and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers and is the author of a children’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Tribute Publishing Inc). But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published. 
"Brian’s the real deal.  He isn't just an inspiring teacher – he's plugged into the publishing world! He got me an agent who sold my first novel, to publishers around the world.  My 13th novel, The Awakening a YA urban fantasy –  hit number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers list. Currently, Random House Canada, Bantam U.S. and Little Brown in Britain have contracted my next seven books.  So it looks like I’ll be writing for a while."
~ Kelley Armstrong, Aylmer, Ontario
Read reviews of Brian’s classes and workshops here.

Fee: $45.13 + 13% hst = $51 paid in advance by mail or Interac
or $48.67 + 13% hst = $55 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 complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Southampton, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Two poems by Sandy Martin - "A Prayer on the the Tundra, Early Fall," and "My Mother's Bones"


A Prayer On The Tundra, Early Fall
On the treeless plain, the growing season begs
for more time, yearns for a place to bury

deep roots, a place to marry seed and water.
Hunched against freezing winds, the earth’s own

beat slows, a drummer marking stillness.
Young birthed in the short summer sun

learn lichen, reindeer moss, grasshopper
and salmon, know these will nourish

the long sleeps, the treks across the plains
and across again. Falcons turn southward

ahead of the first deep freeze, calling
sandpiper, calling artic tern.  The devoted

face north and say, stay. Always this leaving
and returning, as if forgetting were forgiveness.


My Mother’s Bones
My mother’s bones began crumbling
before she knew the words
that would describe the curve
of her spine, the transparent lace
of her bones. Somewhere the broad strokes of her life,
color bright on every canvas, bled reds
and blues and purples, began naming themselves
white, white, white.

I imagine my mother’s skeleton knowing
its own voice, communing
in the graveyards of coral reefs:
the dead zones of our birthplace.
I imagine mollusks white and naked,
their shells corroded, their seas too acidic
for building.

Calcium, the new gold.

My mother’s bones hold her, small and curled.
Does she dream of Turtle Bay, the jeweled
coral flashing morse code? Does she
smell the seawater in her own blood, does she
turn her ear to the palm of her hands
and whisper, listen, listen, listen?


Sandy Martin lives in BC on a small island in the Salish Sea between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. She shares her life with her husband, an everchanging number of dogs and two donkeys. She has worked in creative nonfiction, short stories and, her first love, poetry. Sandy is currently working on her first novel.

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

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Algonquin Park Writing Retreat at Arowhon Pines Resort July 9 – July 12




Algonquin Park Writing Retreat
Thursday, July 9 – Sunday, July 12, 2020
Arowhon Pines Resort, Arowhon Pines Rd, Little Joe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada

Give yourself a long weekend of writing time  a weekend of instruction, inspiration and creativity. Award yourself with time away from distractions, with no dishes to do and wonderful food at every meal, as you sit with your feet up and write in the most beautiful wilderness setting in Ontario. This is where the Group of Seven got its inspiration (Tom Thompson is buried just a couple of lakes over); it’s a wonderful place for you to find your inspiration, too.
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 are just beginning or have a novel in progress, please join us. 
This year, the retreat will be limited to eight participants to allow for physical distancing. As a bonus, this will mean more one-on-one time with the instructor.
The setting: Arowhon Pines is a peaceful, quiet resort nestled in the woods on Little Joe Lake inside Algonquin Park. There are no motorboats on the lake, except for the resort’s own pontoon boat which takes guests on occasional wildlife tours.
The resort is without TV and is far from the roar of traffic. The cry of a loon is the loudest noise you’re likely to hear all day.
Rates include charming accommodation (cabins have a mix of queen beds for one person or couples or twin beds for two people rooming together; rooms also have private bathrooms and each cabin has a lounge with fireplace to share with your fellow writers). 
Three all-you-can-eat gourmet meals per day are provided, featuring an abundance of fresh food prepared by master chefs and an inspired kitchen staff. (Bring your own wine or beer!)
All activities included. When you’re not writing, or for spouses who accompany you, there is plenty to do: canoe or kayak a series of lakes or hike trails to see wildlife (moose, loons, beaver, turtles, fox, deer), swim in the lake, sail, stand up paddleboard, play tennis, relax. For indoor activities there is a games room with table tennis, shuffleboard, books, board games. Your stay also includes access to all Algonquin Park programs and activities including a car pass for you to fully enjoy the park.

Check-in isn’t until 3 p.m., but guests can arrive in the morning to fully take advantage of the facilities (though the meals included in your package don’t begin until after check-in time, so lunch on Thursday is extra if you arrive early). Each guest can borrow a day pass for Algonquin Park. The formal retreat will begin late Thursday afternoon. On Sunday, we'll have our last formal get-together at 11 a.m., ending at 12 noon. Check out time is at 1 p.m.  Most guests have lunch while the bellhops load the car. But once you’ve had lunch, don’t feel you have to rush off!
Participants are welcome to bring spouses, partners or friends, as there will be plenty to do while you’re writing – canoeing, kayaking or sailing, swimming if warm enough, tennis, reading and just plain resting and unwinding, enjoying the wilderness.

Read about a stay at Arowhon Pines 
here.

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 reviews of previous writing retreats at Arowhon Pines here (and scroll down). 
To see more reviews of Brian’s weekly courses and Saturday workshops, see 
here

Seminar fee:
For the full 4-day, 3-night retreat: $185.84 plus hst = $210

Accommodation fee (including accommodation and food, plus use of all the resort’s facilities):
$345 per person per night
Plus 15% service charge (in lieu of tipping), then plus 13% hst.

Book early – space is strictly limited! Full receipts issued.
For more information or to register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
If you have questions or need more information about the accommodations,
phone the resort: 1-866-633-5661

Note: At this point, it seems almost certain that restaurants and resorts such as Arowhon Pines will be operating by July 9 and that small gatherings will be allowed, with whatever physical distancing practices required in place. But should there be some setback in the battle against Covid-19, the retreat will move to a laer weekend.

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. 


Should I bring my work in progress?
Yes, if you have an on-going writing project, bring it with you! If you’re not currently working on anything, don’t worry, we’ll get you writing.

Should I bring my laptop?
Yes, if you prefer to work on your laptop. If you prefer to work on paper bring that. Or go crazy and bring both.

Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?
Yes, just let the staff at Arowhon Pines know beforehand about your needs.

I want to stay longer or arrive early. Is it possible to do that?
If you want to arrive early and stay longer, that is fine. Just arrange it with the resort. There is plenty to see and do in the park, and Arowhon Pines is a lovely place to base from.  Arowhon will keep the same rate throughout your stay.

Is there cell phone reception and WIFI?
Arowhon Pines is an island of luxury, but in the midst of wilderness, so no cell phone reception and no WIFI, though there are landlines and there’s access to the resort’s Internet connection. (Contact the resort for details.) But be sure to have your writing projects on your laptop when you come, not stored in the Cloud.

How about alcohol?
Arowhon doesn’t serve alcohol, but guests are welcome to bring their own wine, beer or whatever to have with meals or back at your cabin or wherever. (Though do note that Hemingway’s advice to write drunk, mostly produces drivel.)

Can I bring my spouse?
Certainly. Just let them know you’ll be spending most of your time writing, (though you will have some free time every day), and make sure they enjoy superb food, beautiful wilderness, and relaxing on the deck or the dock or out on a canoe as they glide past a moose munching on water lilies.

For more information about the resort, visit their website here.

For more information or to register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca 
To book your accommodation at Arowhon Pines, phone toll free: 1-866-633-5661
And be sure to tell them you're with the writing retreat!
Or you can book on-line here~ But be sure to also phone and tell them you're with the writing retreat!

Friday, May 22, 2020

"Quarantine of the Gods" by Catherine McKenzie


Mount Olympus
Dear Aphrodite,
       Hey, sis.  You were right to get out of here before lockdown.  This might be a mist-shrouded, lush paradise, but even paradise gets tiresome when you’re stuck inside all the time.  Especially with our family. 
     Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful Hera stocked up on ambrosia and nectar, but I’m dying for some variety.  Grilled octopus would go down pretty well.  Or a slice of that lemon loaf they sell at Starbucks.  Don’t tell anyone, but I’m beginning to have more sympathy for Grandpa Cronus over the whole baby-eating episode – it’s like, sometimes you just want something different, you know.   
     I was dumb enough to think it would be peaceful to stay in the palace for a few weeks.  I have an infinite tapestry I’ve been weaving for a few millennia, and was looking forward to finally getting it finished.  But peaceful?  Ha! 
     Dad – well, you know Dad.  King of the Gods and Men – he never does anything half-way.  He’s wearing a face mask around the house, and nagging all about handwashing.  If you get closer than six feet – WHAM! – thunderbolt to the side of the head.  I’m like, “Dad, you’re immortal!  What are you so worried about?”  And he’s all, “Plank the curve, Athena!”
     Hera won’t stop fighting with him.  I knew there was going to be trouble the other afternoon when he mentioned taking a walk down to the goose pond.  I think the man honestly just wanted some fresh air, but it set her off ranting about how he was probably going to meet up with Leda.  Then she cornered him by a fountain and started listing off ALL his affairs.  Yes, seriously.  All. Of. Them.  Every Goddess, semi-divine, mortal, nymph and nature spirit. 
So that took until sundown. 
The really big argument happened yesterday.  Just before noon, we heard the muses yelling and singing, the way they always do when there’s an Amazon delivery.  I’ve told Dad a million times, just get a doorbell like ordinary people, but NO, he says he likes the noise.  Go figure. 
And there it was on the top step.  An enormous box.  With no address label!
Hephaestus stepped forward and started picking at the tape.  Said he’d ordered more metalworking tools, so it must be for him.  Dad rolled his eyes and was like, “More tools?  They already fill a whole wing of the palace.”
Hephaestus started whining about how he needed them to make a super special present for you, his beloved Aphrodite.  (I guess he hasn’t noticed you don’t live here anymore.)  And Hera shot Dad a nasty look and put on her mommy voice.  Wasn’t Hephaestus a TREASURE for making something for his wife?  What a fine boy they had!  Isn’t it LOVELY when husbands give their wives gifts?  Ugh, I wanted to vomit.
Dad mumbled something about decluttering, and Hera stamped her foot and said she could think of a few things around the house that hadn’t sparked joy lately.  Then he told her to back off and stop speaking moistly at him.  And in the middle of all that, Hermes came in playing the lyre, sang two verses about the Trojan horse, and walked out.  Totally random.
But then I looked back at the box. 
“What if it’s a trap?” I said. “That box is big enough to fit a small army.”
Dad started stroking his beard.  “True.  And have you seen our delivery boy?  You know what they say about geeks bearing gifts.”
Hephaestus wouldn’t budge though, he was all “muh tools”.  And Hera told Dad to “leave the poor boy alone.”  She said she had no concerns about the contents, and insisted we bring in the box at once.
Let’s face it, Hera’s beautiful and an awesome dancer and she bakes a mean loaf of banana bread, but she’s also one vengeful woman.  Turning his lovers into bears or monsters, or tricking them into incinerating themselves.  And I know we’re not supposed to talk about it, but remember when she lottedpay to have him illedkay?  Dad must have been thinking of all this, because he turned towards the package and raised his arm.
“No!” Hephaestus yelled.  “You’ll damage my new anvil!”
Dad ordered him to move out of the way in his Sky God voice, and Hera tried to grab Dad’s arm, and in the middle of it all, WHAM! – thunderbolt to the box, missing Hephaestus by a golden hair.
Red liquid started to seep through the cardboard and form a puddle on the ground.  Hera put a hand to her mouth, and Hephaestus cocked his head to one side and said, “What in Hades?  Those aren’t my tools.”
We all stood there in horror for a moment, imagining what – or who – was inside that box.
Then we heard a sleepy voice from behind saying, “Oh man, you trashed my stuff.”
So guess what?!  It was Dionysus’s package!  And that wasn’t blood coming out … it was wine!  He’d ordered a shipment of a thousand bottles of Nemea Agiorgitiko, as well as some theatre props (he’s trying to put together a virtual performance of The Bacchae on Zoom with his friends). 
He threatened to curse us all, but once we actually opened the box and realized half the bottles were salvageable, he went back to his usual mellow self.  
All’s well that ends well.  I guess.
You were smart, you know – getting out of here and going to Asgard for the quarantine.  You’re probably sitting on Thor’s lap right now, playing with that beautiful hair of his, and popping grapes in his mouth.  I bet you’d be happy staying there forever.
For me, though, this can’t end soon enough. 
Athena

Catherine McKenzie is a mere mortal, currently social distancing in Oakville, Ontario, far from Mount Olympus.  She has three kids, aged 16, 12, and 6, who provide her with lots of inspiration for the YA and children's fiction she loves to write.  


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



Thursday, May 21, 2020

Dishevelment: A Sonnet by Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt



Dishevelment
While all the salons are closed and we’re closeted at home,
our hair continues to grow. It pushes forward,
reaches record lengths, exposes shameless roots.
Shipwrecked, desperate, we scour our cupboards for sheers,
study YouTube tutorials. Make feeble attempts to snip, pluck, trim. 
Alas! We’ve lost our shape, our bob, our look. Our colour has faded.
And hair dye—that most magical potion—is nowhere to be had.
Store shelves are bare. Even Amazon’s pockets are empty.
Some small-minded, nefarious soul has hoarded it all.
Let the universe pronounce a sentence! Show no mercy.
Like the envious in Dante’s Purgatorio, let the sinner’s eyes be sewn shut
while we, in our despondent, humbled state, reach for beanies,
scarves and baseball caps. Turn our mirrors to the wall.
Yield to our collective dishevelment.


Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt’s stories, poems and essays have been published in Best Canadian Essays 2019 and Best Canadian Essays 2015The Antigonish Review (forthcoming), Grain, EVENT, Prairie Fire, Malahat ReviewsubTerrain, carte blanche, Room, Crux, The Centrifugal EyeQarrtsiluni, The Occupy Anthology and Water Lines: New Writing from the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Tanya has been nominated for a National Magazine Award as well as a Western Magazine Award and received a Canada Council Grant for her memoir manuscript, Peacekeeper’s Daughter. She holds an MA from McGill and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC.
Read more about Tanya and her writing at https://tanyaallattbellehumeur.com/

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