Sunday, October 21, 2018

"The Waiting Game" by Jan Collis



It’s October 5, and today’s the day we’re supposed to find out. All day long I wait, checking every email ping. So far, none of them is The One, the email that will tell l me if my short story is one of the final three.
I play solitaire, answer emails, edit a story in the works, eat and watch CNN. I’m like the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. This is how I imagine it must be for writers waiting to find out if their agent sealed a deal for their book. Nerve-wracking.
It all began in an afternoon writing class when Brian mentioned some contests for short stories. The 2018 John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award was one of them.
I looked up the website. A prize of $2,000 (nothing to be sneezed at); not less then 3,000 words (I have one of those); $10 entry fee (I can handle that). On a whim and two days before deadline, I dropped my story into the mailbox with a great amount of trepidation because the story hadn’t been read or edited by anybody. Oh dear, I probably just wasted ten bucks and $2.85 postage.
A few weeks later I received an email announcing that Charley’s Bench was one of the twelve semi-finalists in Galbraith national competition. I was astounded – and sure the email was a hoax.
When I found out that it was for real, I was elated. Even though I’d sent various full-length manuscripts out to agents, I’d never had any feedback. I likened writing to fishing. You never knew when you’d get a bite. Now I had a bite – a big one. My story had a shot!
Ping. I eagerly open the email. The waiting is over. My story was not one of the final three.
I take a few minutes while Dejection washes over me, but then I step out of the River of Wait, shedding Anticipation as I would shed droplets of water and wrap myself in the damp blanket of Sadness. Once again, I wasn’t good enough.
But wait, an inner voice declares, you were good enough to be one of the semi-finalists. Your story just didn’t resonate with this year’s judges. And this isn’t the only contest; it was your first contest. Change your way of thinking, Jan. Making the semi-finalist group on your first try means your writing is good enough.
As my Dad used to say, “shoulders back, chin up, march on.”
But …  will the Waiting and Anticipation get any easier? I doubt it.

Note: The John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award is the best big-prize writing contest in Canada. It’s not well-known (except maybe to followers of Quick Brown Fox) and pays out a $2,000 prize. Details here.

Jan Collis has attended most of Brian’s writing classes and workshops plus a script-writing course from Laurier University. Though she’s had three feature-length articles published in The Hamilton Magazine, her main focus is writing period fiction for adults and she’s been known to cross into picture books, middle grade fantasy and a psycho-thriller movie script. She’s currently working on a series of short stories, one of which was recently a semi-finalist for the 2018 John Kenneth Galbraith Literary Award.

 See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding 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.

Friday, October 19, 2018

How to Write a Bestseller, with New York Times #1 bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, Saturday, Oct 27

The Burlington Public Library presents…
How to Write a Bestseller
 With book editor Brian Henry
  & New York Times #1 bestselling author 
   Kelley Armstrong 

Saturday, October 27, 2018
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Burlington Central Library, Centennial Room, 2331 New Street, Burlington, Ontario (Map 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, Ontario, to Saint John, New Brunswick. 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 Times bestseller list with both her supernatural thrillers for adults and her urban fantasy for teens. 
Kelley's principal publishers are Random House in Canada, St. Martins and HarperCollins in the U.S. and Doubleday and Little Brown in Britain. To date, she's published more than 32 books, most recently  Portents, gothic tales for adults, This Fallen Prey, a thriller for adults, Rituals, a gothic novel for adults and Missinga fantasy novel for teens; and coming in May, Aftermath, a mystery-thriller for young adults.
Bitten, a TV series based on Kelley’s first 13 novels, has been broadcasting since January 2014.

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: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Carrion Vine by Erane Elizabeth Scully, reviewed by Mary Rabot


This short book (237 pages) is a self-printed memoir of a little known event that occurred during World War II.  The author was a 14 year old girl visiting her Polish relatives in August, 1939, when the Nazis invaded the country.  Her father was a Polish diplomat stationed in Switzerland, and her mother was Swiss.  Mother and daughter were both in Poland when war was declared.

The onset of war drove them from their relative’s home to Warsaw in a futile attempt to reach the Swiss embassy.  They arrived during the blitzkrieg and found themselves targeted by Nazi dive bombers, which appeared to enjoy strafing any Poles, civilian or military.  There was no resistance from the Polish Air Force.  Their planes were destroyed while still on the ground after the surprise German attack.

The author and her mother moved east from Warsaw to escape the bombing and in so doing met several notable characters on the way.  They were eventually captured by Russian troops who had invaded Eastern Poland almost at the same time the Germans invaded Western Poland.  The Russians were making a sweep of the area and deporting hundreds of thousands of Poles to work in the forests of Siberia.

The journey mother and daughter endured was brutal, and fraught with drama.  The Russians were uninterested in the author’s mother’s Swiss nationality.  She and her daughter were placed in a cattle car and transported to Siberia.  Some historians estimate the number deported was as high as one million.

This is the story of the day to day life of these unfortunate people and how they coped with almost unbearable challenges.  The death rate was extremely high, from starvation, injury, disease, and vitamin deficiency.  .Workloads were inhumane and the Russian camp guards mostly indifferent, though still open to bribes.  Fortunately for the author, her mother had hidden some jewelry pieces in her bag and could use these to bribe the guards. 

Erane Scully
The author’s mother risked her life to keep an accurate diary of all that was occurring.  Paper was precious, almost non-existent, making the task both risky and .daunting.  A long prison sentence if not death would have been the penalty if the notes were ever discovered.  Fortunately for historians they were not.

Release from this hell came after the German invasion of Russia.  Stalin slowly realized there were hundreds of thousands of able bodied young Poles, both male and female, languishing in Siberian work camps, who would be happy to fight Nazis.  He was desperate for additional troops to repel the Germans, and so ordered the camps closed.  A new Polish military unit was formed to fight against the Germans...

After being liberated from their Siberian work camp, mother and daughter started on the many thousand mile trek from Siberia through Russia, Tehran, Karachi, and finally Mumbai.  It was an epic journey and vividly told in the third person by the author who was an eyewitness as well as a survivor. 

The writing is clear, characters are well defined, and the story riveting.  Anyone interested in more knowledge of World War II would find this book valuable to them.  It is available on Kindle (here) and a new edition of 100 self-published paper copies will be released soon.

The author is now 93 years old, and lives in a retirement home in the US.
 ***
Mary Rabot lives in Mississauga, is interested in World War II history, and is trying to learn how to tell stories.

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding 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, October 17, 2018

Intensive Creative Writing courses offered this winter on Tuesday afternoons, Wednesday evenings, and Friday mornings


Intensive Creative Writing
Ten weeks towards becoming a better writer
Offered at three times:
Tuesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45 p.m.
January 22 – April 2, 2019 (no class March 12)
first reading emailed Jan 16
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
January 23 – April 3, 2019  (no class March 13)
first reading emailed Jan 16
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Friday mornings, 10:15 – 12:30
January 25 – April 5 (no class March 13)
first reading emailed Jan 18
Glenview Church, Bethlehem Room, 1 Glenview Ave, Toronto, Ontario (Map here.)

See details of all five courses offered this winter, including Introductory and Writing Kid Lit courses, 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: 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. But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published. 
Read reviews of Brian's Intensive course here and here and of his various courses, workshops and retreats here (and scroll down).

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding 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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Half a dozen American and Canadian literary agents at Transatlantic seek authors, both for kid lit and adult

Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky
represented by Transatlantic

Transatlantic Agency
2 Bloor Street East
Suite 3500
Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the Follow Brian by Email box to the right under my bio, and get each post delivered to your Inbox, and if you’re not yet on my newsletter list, send me an email, including your locale to: brianhenry@sympatico.ca ~Brian

Transatlantic Agency is a full-service literary agency that recently absorbed the Jill Literary Agency. Transatlantic has 15 agents located across North America, with U.S. agents in New York, Boston, and Portland OR, and Canadian agents in Toronto, Vancouver and Nova Scotia.

Transatlantic agents who are looking for new authors include:

Stephanie Sinclair, is growing her own author list and simultanesously manages international rights for Samantha Haywood's client list as well as for Page Two Books, a separate company owned and operated by Transatlantic agents Jesse Finkelstein and Trena White.
In fiction, Stephanie represents literary fiction and upmarket women’s and will consider literary thriller and suspense and YA crossover. 
In nonfiction, Stephanie represents narrative nonfiction, memoir, investigative journalism and true crime.
Attach a 20-page writing sample in Word or PDF format. See Stephanie’s full guidelines here.
Note: Stephanie will be a guest speaker at the How to Get Published workshop, Saturday, Nov 17, in Mississauga. Details here.

Léonicka Valcius recently joined the Transatlantic Agency as assistant agent. After completing the publishing program at Centennial College, Léonicka interned at HarperCollins Canada before working at Scholastic Book Fairs Canada for nearly 4 years as a book buyer and marketer. She then joined the Online and Digital Sales team at Penguin Random House Canada where she sold ebooks and audio books. Léonicka is eager to draw from these experiences to return to her original passion: working with writers.
As the founder of #DiverseCanLit and the Chair of the Board of the Festival of Literary Diversity, serving readers and writers of colour has been the core of Léonicka’s career. She brings this same mandate to her work at Transatlantic. As an Assistant Agent, Léonicka will be working closely with Samantha Haywood, Stephanie Sinclair and Amy Tompkins with whom she will be co-agenting new clients.
Léonicka is interested in commercial fiction (especially fantasy, romance, and historical fiction), general nonfiction, and YA & children’s books.
In Adult and Young Adult fiction, Léonicka likes fun commercial fiction, romance that ranges from sweet to steamy, otherworldly fantasy, and sweeping historical fiction. She does not represent mysteries or thrillers.
In Adult non-fiction, she like narrative nonfiction that explains complex issues through the lens of a personal story. She is also seeking books that straddle the self-help/lifestyle line (#selfcare #liveyourbestlife) and the self-help/business line (#productivityhack #riseandgrind).
For Middle Grade, she loves humour, adventure, and make believe. She also enjoys stories about children navigating their changing relationships with family and friends. She strongly prefers books with at least one human character.
“I am eager to work with people of color,” says Léonicka, “including (but not limited to) trans people, disabled people, religious minorities, and queer folks.
Query Léonicka at: leonicka@transatlanticagency.com
Include a synopsis and a 20-page excerpt.
If you are comfortable, please include your social and cultural identities in your bio, especially if you self-identify as a person of color and/or part of another underrepresented group. If you are submitting a nonfiction proposal, please include information about your expertise and platform, as well as a detailed table of contents.

Jesse Finkelstein specializes in upmarket, accessible nonfiction that challenges current conceptions, whether through a “big ideas” book or narrative. “I am drawn to entrepreneurs and people who are innovators in their fields and writing about current affairs, business, culture, politics, technology, religion, and the environment,” says Jesse. And she is most interested in authors who have an existing platform.
Authors are encouraged to attach a maximum 20-page writing sample of their work as a Word document. See Jesse’s full guidelines here.

Trena White specializes in upmarket, accessible nonfiction that challenges current conceptions, whether through a “big ideas” book or narrative. 
“I am drawn to entrepreneurs and people who are innovators in their fields and writing about current affairs, business, culture, politics, technology, and the environment,” says Trena. 
“Journalists who are obsessed with a particular beat (gangs, climate change, etc.) always welcome. Fascinating, exceptionally well written life stories, usually with a current affairs hook. I am most interested in authors who have an existing platform.
Authors are encouraged to embed a maximum 20-page writing sample in their email. No attachments. See Trena’s full guidelines here.

Elizabeth Bennett is currently closed for submissions but will be open again soon.
Elizabeth is generally interested in fiction and nonfiction submissions with series and franchise potential, board books, novelties, graphic novels, middle grade, and YA fiction. I tend to be partial to books with humor; books that approach contemporary issues in a fresh, new way; books that are inspired by pop-culture and current trends. I’m very interested in finding young chapter books and early readers, especially illustrated projects. If you are submitting as an author-illustrator, you must include a link to your online portfolio and/or dummy as a sample of your work.
Query Elizabeth (when she re-opens) here.

Marilyn Biderman is closed to queries until 2019. Then Marilyn will be open to literary fiction and sweet-spot fiction, that is, fiction that’s accessible but literary in intent (often found at book clubs). She’s also looking for literary crime fiction and women’s commercial and historical fiction.
“I love memoir with an utterly unique story and brilliant writing,” says Marilyn. Plus “narrative non-fiction on compelling and newsworthy topics that anticipate trends; expert non-fiction of wide appeal from authors with established social media platforms; and biographies of fascinating lives.” 
She welcomes both debut and established authors and diverse voices.
Query Marilyn (when she re-opens) at: marilyn@transatlanticagency.com
Attach a brief sample of your work (up to 1,500 words) as a Word of PDF file. See Marilyn’s full guidelines here.

Andrea Cascardi represents both children’s authors and author-illustrators and adult authors, both for fiction and nonfiction. 
Fiction: I have eclectic taste, so my submissions wish-list is broad-ranging, but any fiction submission must, first and foremost, have a compelling voice driving the story. Beyond that, I look for smart writing, and amped-up emotions: for example, if you’re writing a warm, heartfelt story, I want it to leave me emotionally spent at the end. Ditto for romance: I want to feel the heat! I’m hoping to discover funny books that literally make me snort with laughter throughout. And books that take unexpected turns that surprise or shock me in a good way. 
I look for unique yet relatable characters, and I want those characters to come from a full range of diverse backgrounds and time periods. More specifically, I’d love to see boundary-pushing stories, dark humor, literary, and clever commercial fiction.
I am open to nonfiction for young readers of all ages, and I’m keen to find innovative presentations and compelling, creative nonfiction that illuminates a broader topic by viewing it through a smaller lens. I’d like to see some “out there” nonfiction ideas that dazzle with their brilliance yet connect immediately with kids.
Author-illustrators: I’m excited to bring new storytelling talent into the field, as well as to work with artists who have experience in other fields such as animation or editorial work and are ready to send their own projects into the world.
Adult fiction: I’m a voracious reader, and I’m looking to represent what I’d love to read, which for lack of a better term I will call commercial books that beg to be discussed. As with children’s fiction, it must be superlative in one or more ways: smart, fierce, commercial, emotionally-hooking, clever, heart-pounding, diverse…the bar is high but I’m eager to discover exciting new voices.
For more about what Andrea likes, visit her website here.
Note: Andrea is currently closed to queries except by referral or from someone attending a conference or a pitching contest that she participates in where she request queries.
 I’ll update Quick Brown Fox readers when Andrea re-opens to queries. ~Brian


See Transatlantic’s submissions page here and agent bios here.

New York Times #1 bestselling author
Kelley Armstrong will be a guest speaker
at How to Write a Bestseller workshop,
Saturday, Oct 27. See here.
If you’re interested in getting published, soon or somewhere down the road, don’t miss the upcoming How to Get Published workshop Saturday, Nov 17, in Mississauga with literary agent Stephanie Sinclair (see here). 
For updated listing of How to Get Published workshops see here (and scroll down).

If you’re interested in writing for children or for young adults, Brian will lead a Writing Kid Lit weekly course on Thursday evenings, Jan 24 – March 28, in Oakville (see here). 
For updated listings of Writing for Children & for Young adult workshops and for weekly Kid lit classes, see here (and scroll down). 

Also coming soon: How to Build Your Story: Plotting novels & Writing short stories, Saturday, Oct 20, in Waterloo (see here), Saturday, Nov 24 in Alliston (see here) and Saturday, Jan 19 in Oakville (see here).

And don't miss How to Write a Bestseller with New York Times #1 bestselling author  Kelley Armstrong Saturday, Oct 27, in Burlington (see here)

One of the locals hanging out by Arowhon Pines Resort in Algonquin Park
Two weekend writing retreats:
November at the Briars Writing Retreat, Friday, Nov 2 – Sunday, Nov 4: two nights and three precious days of writing bliss. Details here.
Algonquin Writing Retreat, Friday, May 31 – Monday, June 3, 2019: four days in the luxurious isolation of Arowhon Pines Resort to get down to some real creative growth. Details here.
In both these retreats, you’ll recharge your creative batteries and get some great writing tips – all in the supportive company of your fellow writers.

Winter courses  (Details of all 5 classes here):
Tree at the Briars resort
Exploring Creative Writing, Thursday afternoons, Jan 24 – April 5 (no class March 14), in Burlington. Details here.
Writing Kid Lit, Thursday evenings, Jan 24 – March 28 (no class March 14), in Oakville. Details here.
Intensive Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, Jan 22 – April 2 (no class March 12); first readings emailed Jan 15, in Burlington.
Intensive Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings Jan 23 – April 3 (no class March 13); first readings emailed Jan 16, in Burlington.
Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings Jan 25 – April 5 / 12 (10 or 11 weeks, no class March 13); first readings emailed Jan 16, in Toronto.
            Details of all 5 classes here.

Read reviews of Brian’s courses, retreats, and workshops here.

See Brian’s complete current 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.

Navigation tips: Always check out the Labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. If you're searching for more interviews with literary agents or a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post.