Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Antiginosh Review

P.O. Box 5000
St. Francis Xavier University
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
B2G 2W5
http://www.antigonishreview.com/

The Antigonish Review is a quarterly literary journal published by St. Francis Xavier University. The Review features poetry, fiction, book reviews, and critical articles from all parts of Canada, the US and overseas. It publishes both emerging and established writers.

Many young writers have been given a start here. And some of these writers have gone on to become recognized in the larger literary community, such as Wayne Johnston, David Adams Richards, Carol Shields and Leo MacKay.

Canadian luminaries Irving Layton, Dorothy Livesay, Milton Acorn, Louis Dudek, R.Murray Schafer, and Rohinton Mistry have all published in this review. Internationally acclaimed writers of the stature of Thomas Merton, Marshall McLuhan, Annie Dillard and Jane Jacobs have contributed their work as well.

Fiction should be less than 3,000 words. For poetry, submissions of 3 – 4 poems are preferred. Book reviews should be of Canadian poetry, fiction or non-fiction published in the past year. Reviews run roughly between 1,000 and 2,500 words. A reviewer might choose to review a single book or review two – four books that invite connections.

Payment:
For fiction and articles, pays $100 plus two copies of the issue in which your piece appears.
For book reviews and translations, pays $50 plus two copies of the issue in which your piece appears.
For poetry, pays $30 plus two copies of the issue in which your piece appears.

Mail submissions to Bonnie McIsaac, Office Manager. No email submissions.
Full submission guidelines: http://www.antigonishreview.com/submissions.html

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Call for Picture Book Submissions!

Lobster Press
1620 Sherbrooke St. West
Suites C&D
Montreal, Qu├ębec H3H 1C9
http://www.lobsterpress.com/

Lobster Press publishes high-quality fiction and nonfiction books for children, tweens, teens, and their families.  We are presently looking for picture book manuscripts (written by Canadian authors only). Please send a brief bio, the book synopsis, and the full text of your picture book – via email only – to LobsterPressSubmissions@gmail.com

Please include all text within the body of your email as we are unable to open attachments. In the subject line of your email, please write “Picture Book Submission.” We will only contact you if we are interested in your work.

We are also seeking:

Original fiction for readers 7–9, 9–12, and also for young adults (YA) ages 13+. We are especially interested in comedy, “chick lit,” mystery, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and vampire submissions, but we are open to all fiction queries.

High-interest fiction for reluctant readers, especially boys, ages 9-–12 and also 13+. Strong submissions will feature high-interest, fast-paced plotlines, and will use a widely accessible vocabulary.

Series for readers 7–9 and 9–12.

Graphic Novel submissions - any age group.

Nonfiction books or children's reference books for readers 4–8, 8–12, 12–15, or 15+.

Full guidelines for authors & illustrators here: http://www.lobsterpress.com/index.php?page=31

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing worskhops and creative writing courses, see here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

“A letter to my stomach,” by Laurie O’Halloran


Dearest Stomach,

We have had a love/hate relationship for as long as I can remember... mostly hate on my part. You are the one body part over which I seem to have absolutely no control. No diet, no amount of exercise, no magic elixir has ever been able to tame you.

You protrude after every meal, bloat when I least expect it, and often cast a shadow over my feet. You are relentless! And every time I look in a mirror, or see myself reflected in a window, I am always shocked by the disproportionate size of you.

How can we ever forget that horrible afternoon when my daughter was 5 years old and we decided to visit some old friends. As I climbed out of the car in my A-line denim dress, they walked over to offer their congratulations. They said they had no idea I was expecting again. I wasn’t. Sadly, the friendship has been somewhat strained ever since.

So five years ago I decided to wage war with you. I added flax seed to my oatmeal every morning. I stopped eating white bread and white rice and white potatoes. Every day before lunch I drank two full tablespoons of unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. You refused to budge an inch.

Then I decided to join a jazzercise class and spend one hour every morning on an intensive workout with 20 other women, most of whom had flat bellies already. I was the classs standout, literally. Yet after hundreds of hours and gallons of sweat, you have barely changed. But I have.

My weight may be the same, but my attitude is completely different. I don’t care if you refuse to reveal those hidden abs under all that excess flab because daily exercise has given me so many more benefits. I’ve made some wonderful new friends, I’ve developed muscles I didn’t know I had, I feel stronger than ever and best of all, I have twice the energy.

Rather than rant about your stubborn roll of fat, I’ve learned to appreciate tummy tucking jeans, stretchy waist bands and bathing suits with control panels. From here on in, I’m determined to look on the bright side, and always remember the two beautiful children you carried for me and kept safe and warm and healthy for nine months. For that I will always be grateful.

You have been granted a reprieve, dear stomach. As I approach my 50th birthday, I’ve learned to like myself for who I am – all of me. It’s time to call a truce, stop fighting you and acknowledge that you are a vital part of a healthy body that has served me well. You win.

Sincerely,
Laurie
*
Laurie O'Halloran has been the editor and publisher of Home Style, Canada's Housewares Magazine, for the past 21 years. She is the recipient of several business writing awards, including three Kenneth R. Wilson national awards. She is the Canadian sponsor of the Global Innovator Awards sponsored by the International Housewares Association, a member of the McMichael Art Gallery Volunteer Committee, Toasters Internationa.l and the journalism advisory board of Sheridan College.  Laurie is also an avid jazzerciser. She lives in Oakville, with her husband Michael, and two children, Jesse (17) and Haley (11).

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writng courses, see here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Twist of Malice by Jean Rae Baxter, reviewed by Iuliana Andriescu

I confess I was biased toward liking Jean Rae Baxter’s short story volume A Twist of Malice. For one thing she is my latest discovery of a late blooming writer, a list which I started a long time ago with Daniel Defoe and of which I secretly hope to become part.

For another, I relate to the settings, the small town Ontario locations which give the volume a mundane, familiar air. But most importantly I was mesmerized to see a reflection of the people around me, maybe even of myself, that we most often pretend does not even exist.

But that reflection was there all right in Jean Rae Baxter’s world populated by musicians and baseball players, the neighbour next door and architects, nurses and teachers, pensioners, adolescents and children, sick or downright psycho people.

I couldn’t help feeling the ordinariness, pervasiveness and fascination with evil which is shown to be so much a part of life and woven subtly but inextricably into the everyday, like an exquisite crochet. In this collection, children tread mires of cruelty and murderers give first person accounts that would make Poe very proud of all these literary descendants.

The tone is amazingly unifying for the whole volume, secretive, intense, dark, that’s why there sometimes seems to be even voice transfer from one story to the next, for all the other meticulously achieved changes.

In ultimate authorial twists of malice, Jean Rae Baxter vanishes abruptly at the end of the steep climb she’s taken you along and you, the reader, find yourself all alone on the verge of the cliff with an amazing view, never closer nor more distant than your eyes can see. Her endings are open and breathtaking and contribute excellently to the overall impression that each piece is chiseled so as to make the most of the short story form.

And the same for every other structural element: one or two characters are developed to inhabit fully their episodic appearances, the focus is on atmosphere building, the pieces are intense and short enough to be gulped in one sitting, words are economically but poignantly chosen, the beginnings foreshadow the story and then the endings. Well, they leave you wanting more.

A Twist of Malice is a delightfully twisted read.
*
Iuliana Andriescu found it very tempting to review A Twist of Malice and gave in to temptation. She had just discovered that Quick Brown Fox was looking for book reviews and had just met the author of A Twist of Malice at Brian’s “Writing with Style workshop.” Jean’s presentation intrigued, inspired, and energized her, so she went straight home and read the book. Iuliana is currently trudging over a few short pieces of her own and planning on taking more workshops to refine her voice and vision.

Note: If you'd like to write a review, check out the guidelines here. If you'd like to join our on-going conversation about good reads, go here.

Jean Rae Baxter will be the guest speaker at the "Writing with Style" workshop, Saturday, March 13, in Orangeville.  Details here.
For information about all of Brian's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

New agent looking for Young Adult and Middle-Grade books

D4EO Literary Agency
7 Indian Valley Road
Weston, CT 06883

Mandy Hubbard has joined D4EO Literary Agency, where she is now building her list, focusing on Young Adult and Middle-Grade fiction. Mandy is interested in a broad range of YA/MG, whether they be contemporary or historical, fantasy/paranormal or realistic. She loves books with a heavy focus on romance, as well as “issue books” with a strong voice. If your book has a high concept or a big hook, she wants to see it.

If your story includes portals to fantasy worlds, wizards or dragons, it’s probably not for her. Please, no chapter books, pictures books, poetry, non-fiction, or books for the adult market.

Before joining D4EO, Mandy interned at The Bent Agency, but she began her career in publishing on the other side of the desk: as an author. Her debut novel, Prada and Prejudice (Razorbill/Penguin) is a teen novel. Released in June of 2009 it’s now in its fifth printing. She has four other books under contract, divided among Harlequin, Llewellyn Flux, and Razorbill/Penguin.
Check out Mandy's Blog here: http://mandyhubbard.livejournal.com/  

Submissions: Send your query letter, along with the first five pages of your manuscript (both pasted into the body of an e-mail) to mandy@d4eo.com

D4eo Literary was founded by Robert (Bob) Diforio in 1989. Diforio has been in the publishing industry for 40 years, including 17 years at New American Library Dutton\Penguin USA from VP Sales to President and Publisher, Chairman and CEO. D4EO doesn’t have a website.

Note: In the spring, Brian Henry will be leading a number of "How to Get Published" workshops: in Gravenhurst on April 17, Moncton, NB, on April 23, Peterborough on April 24, Kingston on April 25, in Uxbridge on May 8, and Hamilton on May 15. Email for details: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

For information about all of Brian's upcoming writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"I’m getting over my fear of writing," Sheila Ludgate

Hi Brian,
Just wanted to tell you that an essay I submitted to the Facts & Arguments page will be published in the Globe & Mail this Tuesday, Feb 23. I thought you might be interested because it's about enrolling in one of your creative writing classes! Hope to be able to take another of your classes later this year...
Cheers!
Sheila Ludgate,
Burlington

Congratulations to Sheila!  Check out her essay here.  Be sure to click on the "Recommend" button, because it's important to support your fellow writers. And, hey, anyone who wants to plug my courses in the Comments or give a Thumb's Up to a comment already there, will get my eternal thanks.
- Brian
P.S. For information about submitting a piece to Facts & Arguments, see here.
For information about my writing workshops and creative writing classes, see here.

“How to Get Published,” Sat, May 8, Uxbridge

The Uxbridge Public Library presents...
“How to Get Published”
Saturday, May 8
10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Uxbridge Public Library, 9 Toronto St. S, Uxbridge (Map here.)

If you've ever dreamed of becoming a published author, this seminar 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!

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. But his proudest boast is that he’s helped many of his students to get their first book published and to launch their careers as authors.

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.

Fee: $38.10 plus gst = $40

To Register: Please register in advance at the front desk of the library or mail your cheque to:

Uxbridge Public Library
9 Toronto Street South
PO Box 279
Uxbridge, ON L9P 1P7

Please do register and pay in advance. Uxbridge is a small town, and if we don’t get enough registrations, the workshop won’t be a go.

For further information, phone the library: (905) 852-9747
or email Brian Henry: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Note: For information about all of Brian's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Call for nominations for the 2010 MARTY awards!

The MARTY Awards will hand out over $10,000 this year, $1,000 to each emerging and each established artist in their field.  So it's time to nominate whoever you think are the best writers (and other artists) in Mississauga. (People who lived in Mississauga for 10 years or more but who have moved away are also eligible.)  Deadline for nominations is March 31, 2010!

Produced by the Mississauga Arts Council, the MARTYs are Mississauga's premiere arts awards. Categories include Visual Arts, Literary Arts, Media Arts, Performing Arts, Performing Arts Group, Patron of the Arts, and Arts Volunteer of the Year.

Last year, Tanaz Bhathena won the award for best emerging writer. If you've been in a class with Tanaz or have heard her read at CJ's Cafe or at Prana Coffee Bar, you'll know why this award was so well deserved.  This year, let's nominate some more great writers we know.  Full details here.
Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing classes, see here.

FreeFall literary magazine, submissions and poetry & prose contest

FreeFall
9 Avenue SE
Calgary, AB T2G 0S4
http://www.freefallmagazine.ca/

FreeFall is a literary magazine that is published twice a year in print. It publishes poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, visual arts (artwork and photography in high contrast black and white format), literary reviews, author interviews, and pieces focusing on authors. Accepts new, emerging, and experienced writers. Although this journal accepts work from all over the world, it’s committed to maintaining 85% Canadian content.

Contest: Poets: submit up to 15 pages of poetry. Prose: submit fiction or creative non-fiction up to 5000 words. Complete a contest entry form and include the $10 reading fee.  Winners will have their work published in a limited edition Chapbook and receive 25 copies.
Deadline: March 31, 2010.  Complete rules here.

Regular submissions: The deadline is June 30 for the Fall/Winter Issue
Prose: Maximum length 3000 words.  Accepts short stories & novel excerpts, Non-fiction addressing writing-related or general audience topics, Creative Non-fiction, Plays, and Postcard Stories.
Poetry: Submit 2 to 5 poems, any style. Length of any individual poem cannot exceed 6 pages.
Query first with a proposal for the following:
Author Interviews or Author Focus (guidelines supplied when proposal approved), Book Reviews (guidelines supplied when proposal approved)
Payment is $5 per printed page in the magazine to a maximum of $50 and one copy of the issue that your piece is published in. FreeFall only accepts unpublished material. Payment is made upon publication.
Full submission guidelines here. 

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Serving Life" by Lori King

Hi, Brian.

I’m thrilled to announce that I have ePublished my first novel, Serving Life, on www.eBookGuides4Life.com
This is the novel that was born in your “Getting Started” workshop and that I worked on during the “Intensive Creative Writing” course. You also provided me with editorial services early on which really helped bring it together. Thank you once again for all of your guidance and support on this journey. I would also like to thank my classmates from the Intensive Creative Writing course for their valuable input and support.

Serving Life is a modern day novel that follows a woman seeking revenge while under constant threat from a convicted killer. Consumed with guilt over a secret that could have saved her sister’s life, she teeter-totters from self-destructive thoughts to her obsession for retribution. Follow her journey as she struggles to overcome this vicious cycle and move to a place of empowerment where she can discover the strength that lies within her.

Serving Life is available at www.eBookGuides4Life.com, but I’m open to offers from literary agents and print publishers.

Lori Anne King
www.LoriAnneKing.com

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, reviewed by Jennifer Mook-Sang

Green Grass, Running Water is a most excellent read. It's a funny, subversive book about Indians, Christians, and politics. I loved the crazy, mystical plot; the everyday interspersed with the magical. The title means "forever" and implies that everything changes, yet stays the same.

The story is told, and told again by four ancient Indians. The story (a story we all know) is always the same, but each time it becomes twisted in a ridiculously logical way that explains so much about who we are and where we came from. Green Grass, Running Water reminds us that although we all share the same story, our interpretation of it shapes us from the inside, out.

*
Jennifer Mook-Sang lives in Burlington and is currently working on a novel for young readers. She blogs here.

Note: If you'd like to write a review, check out the guidelines here. If you'd like to join our on-going conversation about good reads, go here.
For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Reviewed by Sherry Isaac


When Clare and Henry meet, Henry is captivated by the beautiful young woman so eager to have dinner with him. A first date is alive with possibility, mystery. For Clare, it is the chance to evolve at last into a ‘normal’ relationship with the man she has known and loved all her life.

Henry is a time traveller. For reasons unknown his older self travels repeatedly to the clearing on the land behind Clare’s childhood home. As past and present converge in their adult relationship, Henry finds a notebook in which Clare, age 5, recorded the dates Henry visited her. Since he has no control over his travel, fading away in the blink of an eye with no evidence of his existence other than the heap of clothing he leaves behind, this is a rare gift. He commits the dates to memory, and on his first encounter with Clare years later (when she is a child), asks her to write them down. Ms. Niffenegger deftly guides us through back and forth through the years, so it is no effort at all to remember that for Clare it is the past, yet for Henry it is his future.

No romance is perfect, marriage has its ups and downs, but few wives look up in mid-conversation to find their husband has vanished, either for a moment, days, or sometimes weeks at a time. This element raises the stakes in Clare and Henry’s story. Clare knows not where, or when, her husband is, and often neither does Henry, nor does he know if or when he will make it home alive. While Niffenegger weaves through time and space with precision and consistency make no mistake—The Time Traveller’s Wife is at its heart a love story.

As a lover of suspense there were a few times where, for me, the pace dragged and I was tempted to shout, “Oh come on Audrey, get on with it!” yet as a whole I enjoyed the voice and style of this rare romance. The mystery hound in me revelled in the twists of fate, the subtle plot points where past and present came together.
*
Sherry Isaac has been published in Quick Brown Fox, New Mystery Reader and Over My Dead Body. Her short story, "The Forgetting," placed first in the Alice Munro Contest in 2009. She is also co-host of Prana Presents, a venue featuring the work of Toronto’s hottest new authors and poets. Visit Sherry on the web at www.sherryisaac.com

Note: If you'd like to write a review, check out the guidelines here. If you'd like to join our on-going conversation about good reads, go here.
For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New agents at Trident Media Group

Trident Media Group
41 Madison Ave
Floor 36
New York, NY 10010

Trident is a large New York agency founded in September 2000 by Robert Gottlieb and Dan Strone, who had previously been with the William Morris Agency. In 2002, Trident merged with the Ellen Levine Literary Agency.  Trident has a couple of new agents in need of clients:

Stephanie Maclean was promoted to Literary Agent in June of 2009. Stephanie came to Trident as CEO Dan Strone’s assistant.  With Strone, she had the opportunity to work on some of the biggest and most prestigious book deals in the industry. She is now collaborating with Robert Gottlieb and Kimberly Whalen and is actively seeking Romance, Women’s Fiction and Young Adult.

Stephanie says: “I am actively seeking new clients. Please include a cover letter, synopsis and the first chapter of the manuscript with your query. I only respond to queries I am interested in.”

Email: smaclean@tridentmediagroup.com

Don Fehr comes to Trident as a 20-year publishing veteran in editorial and various executive level publishing positions. He has held senior level editorial jobs at Atheneum, Addison-Wesley, Viking Penguin, Basic Books, and was the Publisher of Smithsonian Books/HarperCollins. Don had published over a dozen New York Times Bestsellers and his authors and books have won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the P.E.N. Faulkner Award, and The L.A. Times Book Award among others. He holds degrees from Gordon College and Harvard University.


He is seeking: new literary and commercial novelists, narrative nonfiction, memoirs, biography, travel, as well as science/medical/health related titles. And since he reads alongside is ten-year-old daughter, he has also developed an interest in young adult authors.

Query first. Please send mss or proposals only upon request. Email:  dfehr@tridentmediagroup.com

Full submission guidelines here: http://www.tridentmediagroup.com/submissions.html

Note: In the spring, Brian Henry will be leading a number of "How to Get Published" workshops: in Gravenhurst on April 17, Moncton, NB, on April 23, Peterborough on April 24, Kingston on April 25, and Hamilton on May 15. Email for details: brianhenry@sympatico.ca  

For information about all of Brian's upcoming writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

“How to Get Published,” April 25, Kingston

An editor and an author tell all
Sunday, April 25
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Lions Club, 935 Sydenham Road, Kingston
(Just north of Princess St. 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 publishing your short pieces to publishing your book, from writing a query letter to writing what the book publishers want. Bring your questions. Come and get ready to be published!

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.

Guest speaker Violette Malan writes fantasy novels for adults and short mysteries. DAW Books (a Penguin USA imprint) recently released Violette’s fourth novel: The Storm Witch. Violette has also published short mystery stories in various journals and is the co-editor of Dead in the Water: An Anthology of Canadian Mystery Fiction (Rendevous Press). “The really nice thing about editing a short story collection,” says Violette, “is that you get to slide in one of your own stories, too.”

Violette is the co-founder of the Scene of the Crime Festival on Wolfe Island, a single-day event focusing on Canadian crime writing. She lives in Elgin, north of Kingston, and is represented by Joshua Bilmes of JABberwocky Literary Agency. Visit her website here: http://www.violettemalan.com/

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.

Fee: $39.05 plus gst = $41 paid in advance
or $42.86 plus gst = $45 if you wait to pay at the door

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

Note: For information about all of Brian's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Three contests, one on-going market

The 2010 Toronto Star Short Story Contest
Open to all residents of Ontario who have attained the age of 16.  One entry per person.
Deadline: 11:59 p.m., Sunday, February 28, 2010.
Word count: no longer than 2,500 words.
This is a free contest. No entry fee required
First Prize: $5,000, plus the tuition fee for The Humber School for Writers 2011 Correspondence Program in Creative Writing. Approximate retail value: $2,750
Second Prize: $2,000
Third Prize: $1,000
Complete rules here. 

Gemini Magazine
Gemini is an on-line magazine that publishes fiction and poetry. They’re open to whatever you send them. Editor David Bright says that If he likes it, he’ll print it. No payment ; glory only.
Email submissions to: submissions@gemini-magazine.com
Home: http://www.gemini-magazine.com/
Full submission guidelines here.

Gemini magazine Short Story Contest
No restrictions on content, style, genre or length. New and established writers welcome. First place: $1000; second place: $500. Winners and three runners-up will be published in Gemini Magazine.
Deadline: March 31.
Entry fee: $4.
Contest details: http://www.gemini-magazine.com/contest.html
Image: "Back Bay Doorway" by Ruby Pearl, featured on the Gemini site

Lulu Poetry Contest
LuluPoetry, an on-line site affiliated with the POD publisher http://www.lulu.com/, is accepting poetry submissions in an ongoing, free poetry contest. One award of $25 will be awarded each day, one award of $250 will be awarded each month and one award of $5000 will be awarded annually. Fee: none.
Details here: http://www.poetry.com/

Note: For information about all the annual writing contests in Canada, order The Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar. Details here.
For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

"Snakes," by Eunice Perneel Cooke

I am going to talk about snakes.

If you share the sentiments of Emily Dickinson when she said, “ But never met this Fellow/ Attended or alone/ Without a tighter breathing/ And Zero at the bone”, you had better leave the room or if you are reading this, you may want to crumple up the paper and be on your way.

Are you still there? All right, then.

I want to make it clear that I am not in love with snakes. My encounters with these reptiles, however, do not give me a feeling of horror, but rather a delicious fear and a kind of fascination.

Even an encounter with a poem about snakes raises goose bumps on my arms and a shiver down my back. Karen Connelly, in her “The Lesser Amazon” thrills me with this excerpt:

I found a nest of baby snakes beneath
the bathmat, living red leather,
tongues flicking an ancient orange.
They covered my feet in an exotic reptile weave,
wound up my shins and looped themselves
around my waist and neck and slid anxiously
through my slick hair.
It took me an hour to comb them out
and send them slithering to the garden.

At the risk of dating myself, I will tell you this. The boys at the one-room school I attended as a child used to catch garter snakes by their tails and chase the girls with them at recess. We all screamed mightily and ran as fast as we could. I guess I didn’t run quite fast enough once and got a little snake down the back of my dress. It slithered out readily but I have never forgotten the feel of it. It was very weird.

When I was training to be an elementary schoolteacher, the master in charge of science informed us that we needed to be acquainted with snakes so that if a student brought one in for “show and tell” we wouldn’t have hysterics. One day he brought a live garter snake to class and made us touch it. We discovered its scales were very dry, not slimy as we expected. It flicked its tongue out at us, but we were assured that this particular species was perfectly harmless. I thought I had it made after that experience and would never be afraid of snakes again.

I discovered I hadn’t quite reached that blase dimension when after two years of freedom from wildlife in my classroom, it happened. A freckle-faced youngster brought a small garter snake in a big pickle jar for the edification of his peers one Thursday. Bravely, I reached in and stroked its green and yellow striped sides. I had the boy pass the jar around so every pupil could do the same. Oh, I felt proud of myself.

At the end of the day, I suggested that it be taken home and the seven-year-old procurer of snakes set the jar on the back counter while he got ready to catch the bus. After all the children had lined up and left, the jar with its occupant was still there! It had been forgotten in the rush.

I checked that the airholes were still open, gathered up my marking for the evening and left. Surely, the boy would take his snake home the next afternoon. I would put the jar into his hands myself.

On Friday morning, I was in my classroom early. The jar was empty. The snake had escaped. The classroom door was locked. I had locked it myself when I left the night before, so the snake had to be somewhere in the room. I checked all the obvious places, like the waste basket, leftover sneakers i2n the cloakroom, and under my desk. No snake. Then, I started on the pupils’ desks. I felt inside each desk among all the paraphernalia that grade ones collect. It was impossible to just look in desks because they were too close to the floor. I hoped I wouldn’t feel the cold dry scales of a coiled-up reptile and I didn’t. It was a mystery where that snake had got to until I remembered the art cupboard at the back of the room. It had open shelves for all kinds of paper.

And, of course, there it was, in the corner of one of shelves, coiled up on a pile of red construction paper! Courageously, I reached it and it wound itself around my wrist. Heart pounding, I carried it to the empty jar and gently eased it off my arm into it. I avoided looking at its beady eyes and flicking tongue. The top was screwed back on with alacrity.

With a satisfied sigh, I continued preparing the lessons for the day albeit with shaking hands.

Now, that wasn’t too bad, was it? Oh, you say that even so, you wouldn’t want to comb baby snakes out of your hair! Neither would I, that’s just waaaaay too creepy!
*
Eunice Perneel Cooke is a retired teacher-librarian and is the author of "Foxfire," "Summer Cousins" and "Serendipity." These are books for children in the seven to ten year-old range. She has just finished "A Very Mousey Tale" which is a picture book for five to eight year-olds. She illustrates her books with line drawings and has tried a photo and text arrangement for "A Very Mousey Tale."

Eunice had a small book signing at Good Books last spring, and has sold several copies through her website and by word of mouth. She has had a story published in Canadian Stories and two pieces in Halton Herald.  She has taken two courses is creative writing with Brian Henry and credits his lessons for whatever success she has had.

Check out her website here: www.retrotales.ca

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

WritersAdvice seeks submissions, holds flash prose contest

WritersAdvice (www.writeradvice.com) is a zine that publishes author interviews and has expanded into book reviews, poetry and prose.  No payment just glory.

Guidelines: We love to hear from new voices as well as our regular contributors. We are interested in writers of all ages, authors with carefully crafted, beautifully told, evocative, startling stories of discovery or wonder. Our goal is to take on a more literary tone. Send your best writing.

We prefer flash prose (750 words or less) and poetry under 32 lines. Please query for longer pieces. Please include a short bio, 40 words or less plus a URL (web site address) if you have one, with each submission. Please cut and paste your submission into the body of an e-mail, since we do not open files.

Only review books you recommend. While balance is good in a review, the ones for Writer Advice should be at least 80% positive. Honor the thought, effort, and creativity of authors. Make at least one positive comment about the author’s style. Write about what makes the book appealing, different, unique, worth the time it takes to read it. Reviews should run only 150-250 words since it is 25% harder to read online. The editor reserves the right to cut it or ask you to cut it if it is longer.

Flash Prose Contest:

Submit flash fiction, memoir, or creative non-fiction that grabs, surprises, and mesmerizes readers in fewer than 750 words. If you have a story or memoir with a strong theme, sharp images, a solid structure, and an unexpected discovery, please submit it to the WriterAdvice Flash Prose Contest.

Deadline: April 15, 2010

Prizes: First place $150; second $75; third $50; fourth $25; honorable mentions will also be published.

All entries should be typed, double-spaced and submitted in hard copy, not e-mail. Entries must be postmarked by April 15, 2010. Send them to B. Lynn Goodwin, WriterAdvice, P.O. Box 2665, Danville, CA 94526.

You may enter up to three stories. Enclose a $10 check for each entry made payable to B. Lynn Goodwin. This will help defray the costs of the contest. If no prizes are awarded, checks will be refunded.

Include a separate cover sheet with your name, address, phone number, current e-mail address, and each story title. Please include only your title top of each page of your story. Finalists will be asked to submit a brief biography as well as an e-mail copy of the story. Names of all winners will be announced in the summer issue of WritersAdvice http://www.writeradvice.com/ 

All entries accompanied by an SASE will be returned with brief comments. E-mail questions, but not submissions to editor B. Lynn Goodwin at Lgood67334@comcast.net

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Restaurant and hotel reviews wanted

Here's a good excuse to try your hand at restaurant (and hotel) reviews:  ReviewBLUE.com, which styles itself as the "review anything anywhere website,” is looking for written reviews of Canadian restaurants and accommodations. And it will pay $5 for each approved review. (But you need to write at least 5 approved reviews before you get paid.)

Here’s how it works:

1. You are a Canadian resident.

2. You want to receive a token payment for writing restaurant and accommodation reviews.

3. You read and agree to the ReviewBLUE.com registered reviewer agreement.

4. You set up a writer profile with ReviewBLUE.com.

5. You sign-in and write reviews that follow our guidelines (please note: reviews must be a minimum of 75 words, and you must upload a copy of your receipt with each review).

6. We pay you $5 for each approved review (once they’ve approved 5 of your reviews).

Full details: http://www.reviewblue.com/registered/registered-writers.html

ReviewBLUE also reviews Art Galleries, Attractions, Rental Companies, Shopping, Tour Operators, Transportation and Businesses. For details on reviewing any of these, see here: http://www.reviewblue.com/writer_guidelines.html

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

"How to Get Published," April 24, Peterborough

The Canadian Authors Association, Peterborough, presents…
“How to Get Published”
Saturday, April 24
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Trinity United Church
360 Reid Street, Peterborough (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!

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.

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.

Fee: $39.05 plus gst = $41 paid in advance
or $42.86 plus gst = $45 if you wait to pay at the door

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

Note: For information about all of Brian's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kimberley Cameron & Associates

1550 Tiburon Blvd. #704
Tiburon, CA 94920

Kimberley Cameron Associates represents both fiction and nonfiction. (For a list of titles represented by the agency, see here.)  All three agents are actively seeking clients and are open to queries from first time authors.

Kimberley Cameron, the company president, is an experienced agent who’s been in the business for years. She says she’s looking for exceptional writing in any field, particularly writing that touches the heart and makes us feel something. She's been successful with many different genres, and especially loves the thrill of securing representation for debut authors. She represents both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts, with the exception of romance, children's books and screenplays.

April Eberhardt is fairly new to agenting, having joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates as a Literary Agent in 2008 after five years of work at another agency and with Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary magazine. She moved to agenting in order to help new voices find their place in the literary world.

Her specialty is adult commercial and literary fiction, particularly contemporary urban fiction, ironic family dramas and realistic midlife tales, often with a twist, preferably involving strong female characters. She is attracted to collections of interlinked stories with a common character or theme. An original voice and smart, speedy delivery are critical, as is a subtle sense of the absurd. She enjoys working with new authors to edit and streamline their manuscripts before submitting them to publishers.

While April does consider selected non-fiction and YA crossover works, she generally does not represent mysteries or murders, thrillers or fantasy, Westerns or romances, nor does she represent children's titles.

Amy Burkhardt is the company’s most junior agent and is most hungry for clients. She joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates as an intern in the fall of 2007 and was taken on staff as an agent at the end of 2009. She represents both fiction and nonfiction projects for the adult market. In fiction, she looks for literary and commercial fiction, upmarket women's fiction, mysteries with a twist or an unusual protagonist, and historical fiction.

In nonfiction, she seeks narrative nonfiction and memoirs as well as prescriptive nonfiction written by experts in their field. She has a soft spot for lifestyle, humor, food, and current events topics.

In any genre, she looks for accomplished writing, compelling characters, fresh voices, and timely themes. She enjoys books that teach the reader about human nature and the world, as well as stories that open new perspectives to the reader. She reads to be transformed.

Submission guidelines: All are welcome to submit. Email queries to: info@kimberleycameron.com

Please include a query letter in the body of the email clearly addressed to the agent of your choice. Include "Author Submission" in the email's subject line.

For Fiction queries: Attach a one-page synopsis and the first fifty pages of your manuscript. Please attach the synopsis and manuscript sample as separate Word or PDF documents. We have difficulties opening other file formats.

For Nonfiction queries: Attach a full nonfiction book proposal and sample chapters. (Sample chapters should include the first chapter of the book and should not exceed fifty pages.) Please attach the proposal and sample chapters as separate Word or PDF documents. We have difficulties opening other file formats.

Full submission guidelines here.

Note: In the spring, Brian Henry will be leading a number of "How to Get Published" workshops: in Gravenhurst (April 17 - see here), Moncton, NB (April 23), Peterborough (April 24), Kingston (April 25), and Hamilton (May 15). Email for details: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

For information about all of Brian's upcoming writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Exploring Creative Writing," Apr 28 – June 23, Burlington

Wednesday afternoons, 12:45 - 2:45
Apr 28 – June 23
Appleby United Church
4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington. (Map here.
(Note this class is also offered Tues afternoons in Oakville. See here.)

In this course, we'll explore different forms of creative writing and different techniques. We'll try fiction writing and memoir writing, children's writing, travel writing, and whatever else looks like fun. The class will feature a combination of lecture and discussion, exercises and sharing - all designed to help you find yourself as a writer.

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years.

Fee: $120. Advance registration only. Numbers strictly limited.

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

Note: For information about all of Brian's creative writing courses and writing workshops see here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Exploring Creative Writing," Apr 27 – June 22, Oakville

Tuesday afternoons, 12:45 - 2:45
Apr 27 – June 22,
St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church
1541 Oakhill Drive, Oakville (Map here.)
(Note: This course is also offered Wednesday afternoons in Burlington.  See here.)

In this course, we'll explore different forms of creative writing and different techniques. We'll try fiction writing and memoir writing, children's writing, travel writing, and whatever else looks like fun. The class will feature a combination of lecture and discussion, exercises and sharing - all designed to help you find yourself as a writer.

Fee: $120. Advance registration only. Numbers strictly limited.

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

Note: For information about all of Brian's creative writing courses and writing workshops see here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Prana Coffee Bar presents an evening of prose & poetry

Tuesday, February 16
6:30 p.m.
at Swirls/Prana Coffee
4158 Dudas St. W. in Etobicoke
Featured authors: John Lukachkio, Joyce Wayne, Irving Ellman, Iddie Fourka, Phashow, Steven Jacklin, Nancy Kay Clark, Karen Kachra, and Fran MacKenzie.

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill, reviewed by Tim Callighen

The Book of Negroes is first person narrative of a young woman kidnapped in Africa as a young girl who passes most of her life in slavery in America. She is a very old woman looking back on her life and telling/writing her story, ostensibly at the request of British anti-slavery workers around 1802.

It is an incredibly well researched book full of vivid detail and real stories. It also has the most balanced account of the history of slavery I have ever read. It is at times violent, revolting, disgusting, upsetting, horrifying and frightening. And the Western reader would usually, I think, say to themselves, “thank god we’ve come so far and this horror is banished from our world.” But it isn’t. It’s alive and well all over our world.

And that’s why this book is so important. Because without saying so, it asks for your condemnation of slavery, in all its forms. It has a point and it makes it. But subtly so. It didn’t hit me for several days, until I was reading about the war in the Congo. And after that, I saw it everywhere.

It is presented in a fictional format because this character is an amalgam of many others. Plot-wise, it is unrealistic that all the events could really happen to one person. But the events all did happen. And so the reader is carried away on the waves of a powerful story and disbelief is willingly, and happily, suspended.

The dialogue rings true. I felt truly a part of the story, like I was really there. When the slave owner talks to another white man in the slave’s presence, I am quite sure that they really did talk and think that way.

The main character, Aminata Diallo, is so real that I felt her looking over my shoulder, watching as I read. She was surprised that I didn’t know the detailed history of slavery in America and elsewhere. But she was resigned to reality and was content that things are improving, if only with glacial slowness.

The story is well paced. It lingers long enough on each stage of her journey through life to make you feel what she must have felt. It establishes events and timelines that ring true and, for me, answered questions just before I realized that I had them. The first person narrative stayed mostly in the past, but slipped into the present in a believable and never-confusing manner.

Except for people of overwhelming cruelty and greed, Aminata never condemns anyone. She understands them. She sympathizes with them, even as they do bad things. She forces herself to be rational where others get incensed or angry or carried away by their convictions. She is always the voice of the sane and the reasonable, even when those around her aren’t.

And so I think that there lies the message, or theme. Calm and rational behaviour is the way to overcome the evils of slavery (and maybe other societal evils?). Perseverance, over time, will take us to where we should be. A world without the horrors we do to each other or the animals we share existence with. Resist when you think you are right, fight only if you must against others whose aim is to hurt or enslave.
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Note: If you'd like to write a review, you're very welcome to.  Check out the guidelines here.   If you'd like to join our on-going conversation about good reads, go here.

For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.