Wednesday, December 6, 2023

In-person “(Not so) Extreme Creative Writing” class, Thursday afternoons, Jan 11 – Feb 29, in Burlington

“(Not so) Extreme Creative Writing”

 ~ For more experienced writers 

In-person: Thursday afternoons, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
January 11 – February 29, 2024 {or to March 7 if it fills up}
Burlington Anglican Lutheran Church, 3455 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario {west of Walkers Line. Map here

Extreme Creative Writing isn't like an extreme sport – it doesn't demand something crazy – but it is meant for writers who have been writing for a while or who have done a course or two before and are working on their own projects. You’ll be asked to bring in several pieces of your writing for detailed feedback, including a couple longish pieces. All your pieces may be from the same work, such as a novel in progress, or they may be stand-alone pieces. You bring whatever you want to work on. 

Besides critiquing pieces, we’ll have discussions on topics of interest to the class. 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: $255.75 + hst = $289

To reserve your spot, email:

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 various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

See all of Brian’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

New book: This Spells Love, by Kate Robb

Hi, Brian.

I was one of the Tuesday night regulars in Burlington before the pandemic. I started writing romance in your intensive class and my debut, This Spells Love, comes out today with The Dial Press/Viking UK. Thanks for giving me a wonderful head start. 

All the Best,

Kate Robertson (writing as Kate Robb)

This Spells Love, by Kate Robb

What if one little wish changed everything?

When Gemma gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she reacts the way any reasonable twenty-eight-year-old would: by getting drunk with her sister, kooky aunt, and best friend, Dax. After one too many margaritas, they decide to perform a love- cleansing spell, which promises to erase Gemma’s ex from her memory. They follow all the instructions, including a platonic kiss from Dax to seal the deal.


When Gemma gets dumped by her long-term boyfriend, she reacts the way any reasonable twenty-eight-year-old would: by getting drunk with her sister, kooky aunt, and best friend, Dax. After one too many margaritas, they decide to perform a love- cleansing spell, which promises to erase Gemma’s ex from her memory. They follow all the instructions, including a platonic kiss from Dax to seal the deal.

To reverse the spell and get back to her old life, Gemma must convince her once-best-friend-now-near-stranger to kiss her. But as she carries out her plans, she finds herself falling for him—hard. Soon, Gemma begins to wonder whether she even wants to go back to the way things once were. What if Dax was The One all along?

“A romcom-meets-magic delight!” – Sarah Adams, New York Times bestselling author of Practice Makes Perfect

This Spells Love is available from Chapters/Indigo here.

Note: Post-pandemic, the Burlington classes have switched from Tuesdays to Thursdays: (Not so) Extreme Creative Writing on Thursday afternoons and Enjoying Creative Writing on Thursday evenings.  See all upcoming classes (online and in-person), workshops and retreats here.

P.S. TikTok fans, you can see a review of This Spells Love here.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Kudos to Marianne and Dale on their new books and to Norma who's had three(!) short pieces published

If you’ve had a story (or a book!) published, if you’ve won or placed in a writing contest, if you’ve gotten yourself an agent, or if you have any other news, send me an email so I can share your success. As writers, we’re all in this together, and your good news gives us all a boost. 

Also, be sure to let know if you're looking for a writers' group or beta readers; a notice in Quick Brown Fox, will help you find them. 

Email me at:


Hi, Brian.

It's six months to publication by Dundurn Press of my novel formerly known as The Prisoners' Tale. It has a new title: We Were the Bullfighters, and I'm very excited to reveal the cover.

It is the story of Ernest Hemingway's time working for the Toronto Daily Star in 1923. On his first day, Hemingway, feeling somewhat penned in by circumstances himself, is sent to cover a prison break from Kingston Pen and becomes fascinated with the escaped convicts who have risked all for freedom.

Thank you for all your support. Looking forward to the day I can get back to your classes.

Marianne Miller

We Were the Bullfighters is available for advance order here.

For information about submitting to Dundurn Press, see here.


Good morning, Brian.

Just wanted to let you know that three of my stories that were accepted earlier this year have now been published. “The Plural of Moose” is in the current issue of Our Canada Magazine, “Stranger Danger” is in the 2023 issue of Bocapa Literary Review and “The Surprised 25th Anniversary” is in the first volume of The Bad Day Book.

Thanks, as always, for your help and inspiration.

See you in class,

Norma Gardner

For information about submitting to Our Canada (and a few other places), see here.

For information about upcoming weekly writing classes, see here.


Hi, Brian:

I wanted to let you know that One Winter at Ril Lake, my next novel in the Muskoka Cottage Novel Series, is now available on Amazon in both print and e-formats. It is also available in e-format on a host of other places including Barnes and Noble, Kudoo. I believe overdrive has now accepted it as well.

People should be aware that they don't have to read this series in any specific order. The location of the series is what makes it that, and not the characters. The main characters in One Summer are Felicity and Ben and they appear in all the books, but after One Summer, their roles are minor.

Hope all is well with you and your family and my best wishes for the coming season of Hanukkah.

Gail (Margery) Reynolds

One Winter at Ril Lake and One Summer at Ril Lake are both available here.


See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

2024 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar available soon

Whether you're a beginner or an advanced writer, if you’re looking for places to send your work, you should put contests on your list. 

The Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar is a book that gives a full listing of annual writing contests in Canada arranged by deadline date. It lists contests for short stories, poetry, children’s writing, novels, and nonfiction – contests for just about everyone. 

The 2024 edition will be available soon. Get your order in now, and we'll ship it out to you the day after it arrives.

The Calendar costs just $29 by mail within Canada, all taxes & shipping included, or just $25 if you buy it at an in-person writing workshop, class or retreat.

To order, email

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

P.S. Check out 7 great gifts for writers here; and 77 more  here.

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Seventy-seven-plus Great Gifts for Writers

Sleep tight – you know you want a comfy, fleecy writer's blanket here

Stocking Stuffers
A gift bag of coffee or tea and snack foods, because writers have long thought that caffeine and sugar are their best friends. At one of our writing retreatswe determined that Hawkins Cheezies are the best junk food ever – and they're Canadian. Yum.
Healthy snacks, because sugar is not truly your bff. If you're crafty in the kitchen, try some of these homemade treats here.
A bottle of Writers' Tears Copper Pot Irish whisky here.

Time away – a motel or hotel room for the weekend or the week. It doesn't have to be somewhere fancy; better if there are few distractions, as the idea is to get away and write. Alternatively, you could volunteer to take over a spouse's responsibilities for the weekend: walking the dogs or getting the kids out of the house in the morning, chauffeuring them to their activities, cleaning the house, cooking meals & doing the dishes etc. Or go big and send the writer you love off for a writing retreat (here).

More books of course! Always a great idea for writers. According to Chapters you can find the best books of the year here. And don't forget that writers have kids who also like books.
If you're looking for Christmas books, Penguin has a boxed set of six Christmas classics: A Christmas Carol by Dickens, Christmas at Thomspon Hall by Trollope, The Night Before Christmas by Gogol, The Nutcracker by Hoffman … here.
You can find a selection of kids' Christmas books here or here or here. Sixteen Canadian Christmas books for kids here ... There are a lot of Christmas books for kids.

Good lists of Hanukkah books for kids are hard to find. Try here or here, or see what's recommended on The Book of Life podcast here, or just buy all of Eric Kimmel's books here. 

Gift certificates

A gift certificate to your local café, because a comfortable café is often the best place to write.

Gift certificates for the favourite take-out restaurants of the writer you love, because who can stop and cook or even sit down for a meal when they're in the middle of a creative frenzy?
A gift certificate to your local bookstore.

Random good ideas

Fingerless gloves (type and have warm fingers). You can also get a Pride and Prejudice scarf, a Sense and Sensibility pillow cover, a Black Beauty baby blanket ... here
Reading is Sexy button … here
Timer for writing sprints
AquaNotes waterproof notepads (for shower ideas—yes, these really work!)
A stamp with a happy face for critiquing your fellow writers 

Board Games & Creativity Helpers
Apples to Apples is a great creative game; you need to match a noun card in your hand to a given adjective card and convince the dealer that your (absurd) choice really is the best. We had a hoot playing this at the end of the day at the Algonguin Writing Retreat last June. ~Brian

“The Story Engine” deck of cards with extension packs. Very helpful for new ideas here.

Dixit may be the most popular writing board game out there. Players have to convince other players that their story card is the best way to tell the story.
With 540 cards, the Storymatic feeds the imagination. Just pull out cards from each category (such as “Obstacle” and “What-choo-want”) and let the storytelling begin. Great for writers experiencing writer’s block and collaborative writing groups.  
Writer Emergency Pack. It includes 52 cards with fantastic illustrations and loads of ideas. Whenever you’re struggling with a story, you can pull out a card and get inspiration! (Or at least a giggle.)
The Game of Things  makes everyone write. You’re given a category like “Things that Jiggle” and everybody has to write down a funny or crazy answer. Then the leader of the round reads them anonymously and you have to guess who wrote what. If you play with the right people, it’s fun and funny.
In The Writer’s Toolbox, there are 60 games to play to inspire writers to create — be the first to create a story based on “First Sentences, Non Sequiturs, and Last Straws.” Also, use one of two spinners to generate a random detail that you have to include in your story. 
In Once Upon a Time, the leader plays cards to start a story, trying to guide the story toward his end card. Other players try to jump in and play their cards. First one to use all their cards up wins! Great fun for creative writers.
Bananagrams anagram game … here
Scrabble Magnetic Refrigerator Tiles … here
The Writer's Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the 'Write' Side of Your Brain ... here

For Writers Who Outline
Index cards
Post-It notes
Corkboard &  pushpins
Whiteboard with dry erase markers and eraser

For writers who procrastinate

Start using the Pomodoro method: book here, Pomodoro Planner here, and a timer here, or if you don't like the tick, tick, tick of a mechanical kitchen timer, you can use an online timer here. {Many thanks to Kira Vermond! I'm getting  lot more done on the computer these days using the Pomodoro method ~Brian}
Or if you like procrastinating, give yourself a break from your screen time and get some magnets to mess around with while you're supposed to be writing here.

For Writers Who Don't Always Write on Computers

Notebooks! Book stores often have great selections of notebooks and other essential writerly tools. Personally, I have a pile of gorgeous notebooks, but I can't bring myself to just write in them. Instead, I go to the dollar store and look for something cheap, with a spiral binding so that it will open all the way and a stiff cover so that I don't need a desk.

Inspirational pencils here.

Technology Helpers
Programs like Scrivener for organizing and word processing
Typing program (learn to type faster!), such as KeyBlaze.
Wireless/ergonomic keyboard or mouse
Virtual keyboard for mobile use
Multi-dock charging stand for the truly addicted here.

Big Ticket Items
New computer
Bigger computer monitor
Ergonomic desk chair
Cover design or editing costs for self-published authors

Writing Craft and Publishing-Related Books
The Art of Fiction, John Gardner
The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell
The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron
Bird by Bird: some instructions on writing and life,  by Anne Lamott.
Conflict, Action and Suspense, William Noble
The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E.B. White
The Fiction Editor, Thomas McCormak
How Stories Work, James Woods
On Writing: a memoir of the craft, Stephen King
The Sense of Style, Steven Pinker
Spunk and Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold Contemporary Style, Arthur Plotnik
Writing Down the Bones, Natlie Goldberg
The Thesaurus books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (The Emotion ThesaurusThe Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus)
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder or Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
The Power of Point of View by Alicia Rasley
And don't forget, books are available at actual book stores.

Miscellaneous Suggestions
Comfort clothes (robe and fuzzy slippers, sweat pants, but be careful; you may never change out of them. See here!)
Gift basket full of writing-related ideas (pens, notebooks, special beverage and glass, inspirational items or quotes, etc.)
Gift cards for books
Gift cards for office supply stores
Subscription to music source; such as Spotify
Lithographs: Shirts and totes printed with images and the text of your favourite novels. Tattoos available, too … here.

Out of Print Tee’s: T-shirts, tote bags, iphone cases – all sorts of things, decorated with your favourite book covers (here).
Premium level of online service (Dropbox for automatic backups, Amazon Prime for free shipping/lending library, etc.)
Entry fee for a writing contest
Massage gift certificates, a back or foot massager
A head scratcher  – which surely no writer can do without! (Dogs love them, too. Cats will tolerate them.)
Earrings, t-shirts, candles, wax seals ... Etsy has a potpourri of trinkets for writers here.
And don't forget pajamas, because you don't need to dress up to write, but you do want to be comfortable here.

P.S. Check out “Books make some of the very best gifts
 ~ Part 1 here. Part 2 here.

See the best Jewish Canadian books for kids and teens here and here.  

Gifts to make the world a better place here

And check out some of the very best gifts for writers here. 

Plus, don't forget, try to shop local. Buy your books straight from the publisher or from a book store

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.