Monday, February 28, 2011

"Recreational Writing," an ebook by Gene Wilburn

Hi Brian,
I've self-published a little ebook called Recreational Writing. It’s is a minibook about writing for fun and insight. It explores journals and diaries, memoir, blogs, poetry and fiction, and nonfiction.

In addition, it explains how to turn your recreational writing into an ebook or printed book. If you’ve ever felt the itch to write, Recreational Writing will help you find the type of writing best suited to your personality.

It’s available for $1.99 US through Smashwords, Kobobooks, Sony, and Barnes & Noble.

I'm looking forward to your next course downtown.
Cheers,
Gene Wilburn
http://genewilburn.wordpress.com/

Note: If you've had a writing success, such as an article or book published, let me help you blow your horn. Email me at brianhenry@sympatico.ca

For information about my writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Ten Stories High Short Story Competition

"Do you have the write stuff ?"
The Canadian Authors Association, Niagara Branch, is holding its Twelfth annual "Ten Stories High" short story competition - open to all Ontario residents. Stories can be of any genre but must be previously unpublished and between 1,000 and 3,000 words. (No personal essays, memoirs, children's literature or non-fiction please.)

For first Canadian rights, the top ten finalists will have their stories published in an anthology in the fall. The award for first place is $300; second, $200; and third, $100. Winning entries will also receive story evaluations.

Deadline: March 31, 2011. Entry fee: $15 per story. Full details here.

To keep up to date with all the annual writing contests in Canada, get the 2011 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar – just $23 including tax and shipping (or $20 at any of Brian Henry's workshops or classes). To order your copy, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca. More details here.

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stephen Barr and other agents at Writers House seek adult and kids' books

Writers House
21 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
U.S.A.
http://writershouse.com/content/home.asp

Writers House was founded by Al Zuckerman in 1973.  It has since grown to be one of the world's largest literary agencies.

Writers House represents fiction and nonfiction, for both adult and juvenile books. Their agents work with literary and commercial fiction, women's fiction, science fiction/fantasy, narrative nonfiction, history, memoirs, biographies, books on psychology, science, parenting, cookbooks, how-to, self-help, business, finance, young adult and juvenile fiction and nonfiction, and picture books.

Stephen Barr joined Writers House in 2008 and started taking on his own clients in 2010.  Stephen says: "I'm a pretty omnivorous agent—I've got a permanent hankering for unexpected memoirs with itchy voices, narrative nonfiction that tackles hard-to-tackle issues, wry and rarely paranormal YA, laugh-until-you-squirt-milk-out-of-your-nose middle grade, sweet and wacky (but still logical) picture books from author/illustrators."

Plus, he likes: "fiction that rewards the reader line-by-line and gets to know at least one character really, really well (recent favorites include Jeff In Venice, The Lazarus Project, Diary of a Bad Year, and Horns, which was awesome).

"I'm also willing to be a sucker for smart, unconventional thrillers, mysteries that bend reality, ghost stories that blow reality to hell, fictional or not-so-fictional portrayals of abnormal psychology, and humor that's more than just an infinitely repeated gag in sheep's clothing."

Send a friendly, honest e-query, anchored by the first five or ten pages of the manuscript to sbarr@writershouse.com with the word "Query" in the subject line.

Senior agents at Writers House are also seeking new clients.

Daniel Lazar says: "I'm actively seeking new clients.  I'm always on the lookout for distinct fiction and great, lively non-fiction. I represent adult and children's books (and for children's books, I focus mainly on middle grade and YA). For fiction, I love stories that introduce me to new worlds - or even better, recreate the ones I may already know. I also especially love historical fiction of all kinds.

"For nonfiction, I enjoy memoirs, narrative non-fiction, all stripes and studies of pop-culture, and even small gifty books that strike my fancy and make me smile. I'm a huge fan of graphic novels and memoirs. And as the oldest child of six who has changed many, many diapers in his life, I'm equally intrigued by any book with unique views on parenting and family life.

"If you think your pages can make me hold my breath or miss my subway stop or even laugh out loud, please read my submission guidelines and check out some of my clients' books listed below. I'd love to hear from you."

Query: dlazar@WritersHouse.com
"Please include the first 5 pages of your manuscript with your query letter. No attachemnts unless requested. If you query by mail, no need to send materials double-sealed in bubble wrap. (It's paper, not anthrax.) We respond to every query - you'll hear from me or my assistant. And our response time is 1 minute to several weeks."
More about Daniel Lazar here.

Author Jill Santopolo (left) & Jodi Reamer (right)
Jodi Reamer: "I'm an agent and an attorney and have been at Writers House for 15 years. I handle both children's books, from young adult to picture books, and adult books. My focus is commercial fiction. I would love to represent a legal thriller.

"Please mail me the first 10 pages of your manuscript (or until the end of that chapter) along with your query letter or email the material to my assistant, Alec Shane, at ashane@writershouse.com

Among other well-known authors, Jodi represents Stephanie Meyers, author of the Twilight series.  For more information about Jodi, see  Jodi represents Stephanie Meyers, author of the Twilight series.  For more information about Jodi, see here.

Rebecca Sherman: "As I continue to build my own list of middle grade and young adult novelists, I'm looking for books with something to say, books that make me laugh, and characters that truly remind me of how confounding and wonderful (ridiculous! frightening! glorious!) adolescence can be. I am also looking for picture books by author/illustrators that can hold up to readings night after night.

"In addition to books for the children's market, I'm a huge fan of all things pop-culture and looking for non-fiction books in this genre as well as lifestyle, humor and narrative non-fiction for the 18-35 audience."

Query: rsherman@writershouse.com
- Middle Grade and Young Adult submissions should include a sample chapter (approx 10 pages) and a synopsis.
- Middle grade, YA, and adult non-fiction submissions should include a proposal.
- For picture book submissions, please include the entire text and sample illustrations or a link to an online portfolio or a dummy. I do not accept picture book texts by authors only. You must be an author/illustrator to submit picture book material.
- Email submissions should not include attachments, because viruses are scary
- Snail mail submissions must include a SASE.
- Please be patient as I consider your work. My response time varies, but my assistant or I will attend to your submission as soon as possible and respond.
- Please tell me on the query if it is a multiple submission. Please keep me informed about other agents' interest or offers for representation via email. Do not accept representation until you have given me a fair chance to extend an offer as well.

For more about Rebecca Sherman, see here.

Brian Henry has a few "Writing for Children and Young Adults" workshops coming up: on February 26 in Barrie (see here), on March 5 in Toronto (see here), on April 9 in Peterborough (see here), and on April 10 in Kingston (see here).

He will also be leading: "From the Horse's Mouth ~ Strategies for Getting Published" at Ryerson University on May 7 (see here).

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kids Can Press seeks picture books and chapter books

Kids Can Press
25 Dockside Drive
Toronto, ON M5A 0B5
http://www.kidscanpress.com/Canada/

At Kids Can Press, we are interested in reading quality picture books and nonfiction manuscripts for children, as well as chapter books for ages 7 – 10. We do not accept young adult fiction or fantasy novels for any age. To ensure that your manuscript is appropriate for our publishing list, please familiarize yourself with the books that we publish.

Submissions
For picture book submissions, please send a copy of the entire manuscript. For chapter book submissions, we require a synopsis and approximately three sample chapters. Please do not send the entire manuscript unless requested to do so.

It is not necessary for art to be created in advance of a manuscript being accepted for publication. Should a manuscript require illustrations, Kids Can Press will make arrangements for the artist. However, if you are a professional artist, please include photocopied samples of your work along with a brief résumé outlining your experience.

You are welcome to send your proposal simultaneously to other publishers rather than submitting it exclusively to Kids Can Press. Submit by mail only.  Full submission guidelines here.

Brian Henry has a few "Writing for Children and Young Adults" workshops coming up: on February 26 in Barrie (see here), on March 5 in Toronto (see here), on April 9 in Peterborough (see here), and on April 10 in Kingston (see here).

He will also be leading: "From the Horse's Mouth ~ Strategies for Getting Published" at Ryerson University on May 7 (see here).

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Love in 140 characters" a true story by Margaret Carey

A fortune teller was at the pub he took me to on our first date. She came over at the same time as my third drink. Shuffling cards, she insisted that love was cheap that day.

*
This micro-story by Margaret Carey was originally published in the Hamilton Spectator's Valentine Day's edition, along with several other Twitter-length stories of true love.


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

“Come Thou Tortoise” by Jessica Grant, reviewed by Jamie Turner

Vintage Canada, 412 pages
For a quirky adventure that leaves lingering awe long after you’ve finished reading it, treat yourself to Jessica Grant’s, Come Thou Tortoise.

Audrey Flowers (a.k.a Oddly) has been living in Oregon with her pet tortoise, Winifred, when she finds out her father has been knocked into a coma. Despite her fear of flying, Audrey boards a plane for Newfoundland and travels back home.

During the plane ride Audrey suspects her seatmate of being a terrorist, chiefly because he is reading yet not turning the pages of a Shirley MacLaine book. MacLaine’s “a good writer,” Audrey theorizes, “so what’s up?”

Audrey spots a gun under the man’s jacket. She heroically steals it and locks herself in the washroom –to be told only minutes later (through the washroom door) that she’s just disarmed an air marshal and could she kindly come out and return his weapon?

From this point on, the story just gets whacky and funnier. Get ready to laugh. With a mouse that never dies, a fruit fly with a passion for toothpaste and a peeled orange that has a name, Grant lays out a buffet of hilarious antics.

But what makes this book so extraordinary is that it’s just as poignant and moving as it is funny. Yes, the antics are hilarious, but always prevalent is an underlying theme of the unconditional support that comes with family. Audrey’s relationship with her father and Uncle Thoby is so achingly tender it can take your breath away. This book is about love. Lots and lots of it.

Occasionally the narrative switches to Audrey’s pet tortoise, Winifred. In the course of a long, “perhaps 300 year” lifespan, Winnifred has lived in a homemade castle, enjoyed rides on warm car dashboards and found herself in the pages of a Shakespearean play.

Grant’s writing is masterful. She captures entire characters and situations with mere snippets. Anger is expressed simply as “Accent-grave eyebrows.” Misspelled and misused words, with the occasional childlike drawing, make this book an art form.

From beginning to an end that reveals a family secret so subtly that it almost dares the reader to miss it, this book is astoundingly unique. Take the plunge and enter this world Jessica Grant has created. It is more than a read, it’s an experience.

Jamie Turner lives in Burlington, Ontario, where she enjoys books of all kinds. Her passion for writing has been awakened by the fun and supportive environment of Brian Henry's creative writing class. When she doesn't have a novel in front of her Jamie can be found in the kitchen with a cookbook instead, whipping up healthy delights – sweet and savoury alike.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Strategies for Getting Published ~ for writers who want to become authors," Ryerson U, Toronto, Ontario

Kerr Hall West
From the Horse's Mouth
Strategies for getting published
Saturday, May 7
Registration: 12:45 p.m.
Seminar: 1 - 4 p.m.
Ryerson University, Kerr Hall West, Room 61, 379 Victoria Street, Toronto (Map here.)

Bring all your questions. Get them answered by the most knowledgeable people in the publishing industry.

Moderator: Brian Henry, editor, writer, and creative writing instructor

Brian has been a book editor for more than 25 years. He teaches creative writing at Ryerson Univeristy and conducts private weekly classes in Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington. He's led writing workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he's helped many of his students get published.

The Panel:

Lynn with author Gil Adamson
 Lynn Henry, publishing director, Doubleday Canada.
Lynn Henry started at Doubleday Canada in March 2010. She oversees the acquisitions and work of the senior editors, provides vision for the overall list, and acquires a select list of her own books.

Previously, she was the publisher at House of Anansi Press.  Lynn books included Rawi Hage’s multiple-award winning, bestselling first novel, De Niro’s Game, and Hage’s  second novel, Cockroach; Peter Behrens’ 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award winner The Law of Dreams; Gil Adamson’s multiple-award winning, bestselling first novel The Outlander; Lisa Moore’s Giller-shortlisted novel Alligator and her bestselling, Booker Prize nominated novel February; Margaret Atwood’s award-winning, bestselling Massey Lectures, Payback; and Wade Davis’s multi-award winning, bestselling Massey Lectures The Wayfinders.

In all, books Lynn edited and published during her 5 years at Anansi were nominated for eight Scotiabank Giller Prizes and more than 20 Governor General’s Literary Awards.

Before joining Anansi, Lynn was the associate publisher for five years at Raincoast Books in Vancouver, where she oversaw the production of the Canadian editions of the Harry Potter books and edited fiction by (among many others) Governor General’s Literary Award nominee Colin McAdam, and Giller Prize nominees Bill Gaston and Shani Mootoo.

Lynn has taught at the Simon Fraser University Summer Editing Workshop and the SFU Summer Publishing Workshop, and has been a guest lecturer at the Masters in Publishing Program at SFU and at many other undergraduate and graduate classes for writers. In 2007, Lynn won a Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Editor of the Year, while Anansi Press won Publisher of the Year. In all, Anansi won Publisher of the Year three times under Lynn’s tenure (in 2007, 2009 and 2010).

For more about Lynn Henry and Doubleday Canada, see here.

Mike doing what publishers do best - selling books
Mike O'Connor, publisher Insomniac Press
Mike O’Connor is the founder and publisher of Toronto-based publishing house, Insomniac Press. Before starting Insomniac Press he worked for Firefly Books and McClelland & Stewart.

He teaches creative writing and publishing at the University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario, York University and Ryerson University.

In 1992, Insomniac started as a small press that published poetry chapbooks. Insomniac is now a medium-size independent press based in London, Ontario, that publishes eye-catching nonfiction titles as well as the great fiction and poetry. Insomniac's books are sold in 40 countries around the world.

Insomniac always strives to publish the most exciting new writers it can find. Celebrated authors like Natalee Caple, Lynn Crosbie, Stephen Finucan and A.F. Moritz either got their start at Insomniac, or have published important books with them.

Insomniac has developed special niche areas in which it publishes unique books. For example, its black studies books, gay and lesbian books, personal finance books, celebrity writer-as-musician books (including titles by Matthew Good, Jann Arden and Terri Clark), and gay mysteries have developed devoted followings.

For more about Mike and Insomniac Press see here.

Margie Wolfe, publisher Second Story Press,
and Marilyn Biderman
Marilyn Biderman, principal agent, Marilyn Biderman Literary Management
Before starting Marilyn Biderman Literary Management in September 2010, Marilyn Biderman worked at McClelland & Stewart Ltd for twelve years, most recently as Vice President, Director, Rights and Contracts. There she represented many authors, including Leonard Cohen, Alistair MacLeod, Anne Michaels, and Madeleine Thien.

She has guest-lectured at the publishing programs at Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University, Humber College, and Centennial College. She has also mentored many publishers under the auspices of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council. She is also a lawyer, the author of several papers on copyright law, and has been a juror for literary competitions.

Marilyn is developing a small and select list of commercial and literary fiction, narrative and expert nonfiction, memoir, and YA.

Among other authors, Marilyn represents Dimitri Nasrallah, whose first novel, Blackbodying, was published in 2004 by DC Books and who has sold Canadian English-language rights to his second novel, Niko, to Véhicule Press. Marilyn is also representing UBC Creative Writing Program grad Ben Hart, who will have a collection of short stories ready to go on offer in 2011; and Marguerite Pigeon, whose debut novel, Open Pit, is currently on submission. Her agency also represents Breakwater Books of St John’s, Newfoundland.

For more about Marilyn Biderman Literary Management, see here.

Fee: $94 (HST Included)

To register: If you’re a Ryerson student, register on-line, starting March 7, here.
Otherwise, reserve a spot by emailing: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
And bring a cheque made out to Ryerson University (no cash or credit cards please) on May 7. Please be sure to arrive by 12:45.

See Brian's full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Etobicoke, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Kitchener, Woodstock, London, Orangeville, Barrie, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, London, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gemini Magazine short story contest deadline March 31: $1,000 prize.

Hi, Brian.
We invite all quick brown foxes and vixens to check out the most recent issue of Gemini Magazine http://www.gemini-magazine.com/

And it’s time for our annual short story contest. No restrictions on content, style, genre or length. Flashes, novel excerpts, experimental, mainstream, literary, noir, romance—all types of short fiction are welcome. Simply send your best unpublished work by email or snail mail.

Grand prize: $1,000. 2nd place: $100.  All five winners and finalists will be published in the June issue of Gemini. Deadline: March 31, 2011.
Entry fee: $4. Enter here.

All the best for the new year!
David Bright, Ed.
Gemini Magazine

Image: Painting of John Coltrane by Debra Hurd.

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"The Meaning of Children," a short story collection by Beverly Akerman

Dear Brian
Just wanted to let you know that my new book, The Meaning of Children, a short story collection published by Exile Editions, is now available through Amazon.ca and Chapters.ca. (And, hopefully, coming soon to a bookstore near you!)

I’m looking for an American and a UK publisher, so I really value the agent update information your website provides! I’d like to invite you and your readers to look me up on my website or at Facebook (the book has its own page), where I’ll be putting launch, reading(s), and other information as it becomes available.

Best to you,
Beverly Akerman MSc
http://beverlyakermanmscwriter.blogspot.com/

A manuscript version of The Meaning of Children won the 2010 David Adams Richards Prize from the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick. Judge JoAnne Soper-Cook said the work shows: "a keen, incisive vision into the hidden world of children as well as intimate knowledge of the secret spaces that exist between the everyday events of life. There is knowledge here, knowledge of those important, life defining moments of puberty, the birth of a sibling, an encounter with a possibly dangerous stranger. Overall, a work with a brilliant sense of story."

Individual stories have also won or placed in contests, including the Sheldon Currie Prize and Best New Writing 2011 (Editor's Choice Award). Here’s a sampling of the feedback received from editors and judges on individual stories:

“Emotional and tightly written.” David Bright, Gemini Magazine;

“Solid and very funny. Great stuff!” Karl Jirgens, Rampike;

“Oh, it's lovely. I like it when my body responds to writing; right now there's an ache in my throat.” Susan Rendell, EarLit Shorts;

“The judges liked…the resistance to the happy ending, and the idea that there is often something or someone waiting for the small mistake.” The Writers’ Union of Canada, 2007 Short Prose Competition Jury

“I love the mystery and the fear in this story—the ending works so well.” Colleen Donfield, The Sun;

“...beautifully unbearable...” Nancy Zafris, Flannery O'Connor Awards.

Note: You can buy The Meaning of Children on-line from Chapters.ca here or from Amazon.ca here.

If you've had a writing success, such as an article or book published, let me help you blow your horn. Email me at brianhenry@sympatico.ca


For information about my writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Limo by Brian Henry


I admit to being proud of my kids, Leah and William. Could happen I even boast about them.

William is an actor and model, which is cool in itself and doubly cool when you consider that, at eight years old, he makes more money than I do.

William has never starred in a Hollywood film and I don’t expect him to. But every morning I can catch him on TV as the voice of Tiny Pig in the Wibbly Pig cartoon series. In the evening, when a Cracker Barrel commercial comes on, there’s William, handing a plate of cheese cut in a daisy shape to a little girl actor who’s almost as cute as he is. And junk mail comes with William posing next to tents from Canadian Tire and wearing clothes from Zellers.

All of this is more than enough. We don’t dream of Hollywood – though his agent does. Once she even managed to land William an audition for a role in Little Fockers. He would have played opposite Robert DeNiro.

But guess what? He didn’t get the part.

We don’t dream of glamour, either. Not anymore. Turns out 95% of being an actor consists of driving about Toronto and waiting around to audition. At eight years old, William doesn’t drive. So he travels by family limo, and his manager pulls double-duty as his chauffeur and also as his mother and, on her evenings off, as my wife.

Last summer, we put a lot of kilometres on the family limo as William had auditions, call backs and jobs almost every day – often twice a day.

With Mom driving William around in Limo 1, it was up to me to chauffeur our daughter Leah in Limo 2. Unfortunately, Limo 2 is an ancient asthmatic Ford with expired air-conditioning and 400,000 kilometres on it. With temperatures soaring above 30 for weeks in a row, Leah and I sweated off the pounds as we drove to summer camp, swimming lessons – and the occasional audition. For Leah, too, is an actress and model, though not so successful.

Limo #2
Demographics conspire against her. The market demand for cute eight-year-old boys far exceeds the market for pretty twelve-year-old girls. Besides, like many second-born children, William has been hamming it up since birth. Leah has determination, confidence and talent. But these amount to nothing beside a second-born’s biological imperative to command attention.

To date, Leah has gotten just one paying job, as an extra in an episode of the cop show Flashpoint, in which she plays one of a gaggle of panicked school children.

Leah doesn’t get a lot of auditions either and the ones she does get aren’t good.

This summer, the agency sent her to audition for a lead in a major new kids’ TV show – to be made by the same people who created the Hannah Montana show. Which sounds fabulous, except it was an open call. Anyone who could play a thirteen-year-old girl was welcome to audition. As it turned out, 900 adolescent girls thought they’d be perfect for the part.

The line up just to sign in snaked out the front door of the Latvian cultural centre, around the side of the building to the parking lot, then around the entire lot, back down the driveway and out onto the sidewalk.

We joined the line-up just after 9 a.m., pulled out our books and baked in the sun. Every few minutes, one of the early birds would exit and the line would shimmy over a couple steps to allow their car to pass. A few minutes later, the crew on traffic duty would allow a new vehicle into the parking lot and the line would shimmy to the side once more. Arriving at nine, we were far too late to grab a spot in the parking lot, but we’d found street parking for Limo 2 just six blocks away and hiked in.

At noon, we finally entered the air-conditioned bliss of the Cultural Centre and staggered up to the sign-in desk. There Leah presented her publicity shot and resume.

At 12 years old, Leah already has a long list of acting credits from school plays and community theatre, plus sundry items unrelated to acting: her job leading an after-school jewellery-making class, the book club she organized back in grade 2, her fund-raising for Sick Kids hospital, her bronze star in swimming and her first aid certificate.

A member of the sign-in crew glanced at her resume to check she’d listed her agent’s name, then invited us to find a seat. “You’ll have a bit of a wait,” he said.

No kidding. We were in a large auditorium filled with adolescent girls with a parent in tow, slumped in chairs scattered in a many-layered ring around the auditorium. The chairs were the kind you find in auditoriums everywhere – steel and plastic stackables without any pretence at comfort. But when I finally got to sit down, it felt like sinking into a LazyBoy. I could have used a nap.

“Daddy!” Leah said. “Your face is all red!”

“Sunburn,” I reassured her.

Fortunately, I’d packed us a good lunch and a variety of cold drinks, and pretty soon even I was feeling human again.

Off in a corner a bunch of girls had arranged an impromptu hopscotch game. Many more were practicing their audition script.

Beside us, a redhead with pigtails who might have just come from an Anne of Green Gables production was holding her script and projecting her huge voice at her mother, seated a foot away. “I can’t be-lieve it!”

Echoes came from girls practicing the same script all over the hall: “I can’t believe it!” “I can’t believe it!” “I can’tt believe itt!”

“You want to practice?” I asked Leah.

She rolled her eyes.

“Want to join that hopscotch game?”

This didn’t even deserve an eye-roll. Apparently, the embarrassment factor of that suggestion was right off the scale.

I calculated how long it might be before we moved to the next stage of the line-up. Leah was number 539. Numbers 361 to 380 had just marched out of the auditorium, and the crew were rounding up numbers 381 to 400. Eighteen minutes later, that bunch marched out and the crew started marshalling the next twenty.

Hmm, 139 more to go in bunches of 20, every eighteen minutes. “Leah,” I said. “I think we’ve got about 126 minutes. How about if I go move the car before I get a ticket?”

Complete panic lit up her eyes.

“Umm, of course, I don’t have to...”

“Will Mommy get upset? How much is a ticket?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, Sweetie. Two bucks. I’ll stay here.”

Big sigh. “Thanks, Daddy.” A pause. “We could play hangman, if you’re bored.”

“Sure.”

Two hours later numbers 521 to 540 were called, and we got into the final line, second from the end. A crew member led us out of the auditorium and into a hallway where we lined up outside a door. One by one, the girls disappeared into the room for their audition, then emerged from a second door a few paces farther down the hall.

Leah finally deigned to practice, mouthing the short script under her breath, tapping out the pace on her leg to make sure she didn’t gush it out too fast.

This line went swiftly. Soon we were right outside the door. Then the door opened and a young woman invited Leah in. I caught a glimpse inside – two guys with clipboards seated in office chairs, encouraging smiles still on their faces after all these many hours. God, they must be good.

The door closed. Ninety seconds later, Leah emerged from the second door.

“How’d it go?” I asked.

“Good!”

And that was the last we heard about that audition.

Weeks later, we sat down as a family and watched the episode of Flashpoint in which Leah landed the bit as an extra. We got all excited when the scenes at the Science Centre started showing. Then there was the shot: a group of school girls moves across the screen from right to left.

“There!” shouted Leah. “I’m in that group, right there.”

We all applauded and Leah flushed with pride.

Since then, I’ve replayed that scene on the computer several times. I’ve yet to distinguish Leah from the crowd of girls around her. But I know she’s there. So does she. And I guess we’ve done an okay job of instilling confidence in her, because for Leah, just knowing she’s in that scene is as close to fame as she needs to get.


Brian Henry is a writer, editor and creative writing teacher in Toronto. This is his blog. William can currently be seen in a Tim Horton’s commercial and as the voice of Tiny Pig on the Wibbly Pig cartoon series. Leah continues to teach jewellery making and is now enrolled in a bronze medallion class. She plans to be an assistant swim instructor by the time she gets to high school. For further adventures with William, see here.


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

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Letters

Hi Brian,
Just wanted to let you know that I've had a second story under my own name accepted for publication by the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series. This one, "Too Happy to Die," will be appearing in It's A Dog's Life, hitting the bookstores in April.

And I'm making a full-time living as a ghostwriter.

Best wishes,
Marya Miller

Note: The publishers of Chicken Soup for the Soul are currently looking for Canadian stories (and for stories on many other topics). For information on submitting, see here.



Hi Brian,
I sent an excerpt from my manuscript to CommuterLit.com and they are posting it mid-February. Yahoo!

I'm still looking for a publishe for Recession Proof. It's a fictional comedy about the recession.

Thanks so much,
Jason Lawson
Main River, New Brunswick

Read Jason's story, "The Date" here.
For information on submitting to CommuterLit, see here.

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

You're invited to an evening of prose & poetry, Feb 22, at Prana Cafe

Prana Café
2130A Queen Street East, Toronto
At Queen and Hammersmith in the Beaches
Tuesday February 22nd @ 6:30

Featuring: Kristine Atterbury, Jasmine D'Costa, Thomas Scott, Candice O'Grady, Wayne Tedder and Sherry Isaac
Host: Topaz

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul wants Canadian stories (and many other topics) - Deadline for Canadian stories: Feb 28

If you are Canadian, the publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series are looking for stories from you! Send your inspirational, humorous, or heartwarming stories. They don't have to specifically be about Canada - they just have to be Chicken Soup for the Soul stories that take place in Canada or are written by Canadians.

If you are not Canadian but you have a great story that took place in Canada (examples would be American college student at McGill, stranded travelers in Newfoundland on 9/11, great vacation stories) that is fine too.

Deadline for story submissions is February 28, 2011.

Other soul stories wanted:

Devotional Stories for Times of Trouble
Life has always been filled with trials, including illness, job loss, grief, addictions, and much more. God never promised that our earthly lives would be without difficulties, but he assured us that he will always be with us to share our burdens. If you have a brief true story (up to 500 words) that shows God's presence during a time of trouble, please share it along with an applicable Bible verse and a 2-3 sentence prayer. You will receive $100 for each published devotion. ($100 due to the shorter word count than our regular books.) Deadline date for submissions is February 28, 2011.

Brides and Weddings
You are engaged! How lucky you are to have found that one person you want to share the rest of your life with. We are looking for stories about this very special experience in your life. From the proposal, to the planning, to actual wedding day events – both touching and hilarious - these stories will capture your heart and your emotions. Stories from the groom or the proud parents would be great too! Please share the memories that were created during this special time in your life.
Deadline date for story submissions is April 30, 2011.

Find Your Happiness
How have you found happiness in your life? Share your stories about how you found purpose, passion, and joy in your life. Stories can be serious or funny, but definitely inspirational. Attitude adjustments, gratitude, a new way of handling your daily life, major realizations, and other great ideas to inspire readers to find their own paths to happiness would be appropriate.
Deadline date for story submissions is May 15, 2011.

Marriage and Married Life
Whether you are newly married or have been married for years and years, the stories in this book will capture your imagination, inspire you, make you laugh and touch your heart. We are looking for stories that will celebrate the commitment two people make when they say their vows. Tell us about your relationship. What makes it work? How did the comfort of your mate guide you through challenging times? What is the most important thing in your relationship? How did you try to change your mate? Did it work?! The deadline date for story submissions is May 30, 2011.

Christmas Stories
We are collecting stories for our newest Christmas book. Everyone has special memories and stories to tell about the Christmas season - from inspirational and joyous, to heartwarming and humorous. We want to hear about your special Christmas memories and traditions. Please note: if you have submitted stories to our Christmas books in the past, we have your stories in our database. Please make sure that the stories you are submitting to this book are NEW stories that our editors have not read before.
Deadline for story submissions is June 30, 2011.

Home Sweet Home
Whether you rent your home or own your home, home is where your heart is. It is your safe place in the world. We are looking for stories about getting your first home, returning to your childhood home, do it yourself repair disasters and successes, downsizing, moving day or any heartwarming or funny stories associated with home. This book will make the perfect housewarming gift.
Deadline date for story submissions is August 30, 2011.

Think Positive for Kids
Where do your children find the inner strength to stay positive in these challenging times? The world today is fast-paced and filled with choices, temptations and challenges. The values that children, ages 7 to 12, learn today will stay with them for the rest of their lives. We are looking for stories that show children how to make good choices... even when no one is looking, respect the needs and feelings of others and focus on hope. The stories will remind kids that each day holds something to be grateful for and show them that they are not alone in dealing with difficult issues. We hope that adults will take the time to read these stories with their children as together you share special times and expand communication.
Deadline date for story submissions is December 31, 2011.

For full guidelines and to submit a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul, see here.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Toronto, Etobicoke, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Kitchener, Orangeville, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Peterborough, Kingston, London, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

"Writing Characters," a full-day workshop, Sat, June 4, Orangeville, Ontario

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - now there's a character!
How to find and create great characters
Saturday, June 4
10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Tweedsmuir Presbyterian Church
6 John Street, Orangeville (Map here.)
Pesented by the Headwaters Writers Guild


Whatever you're writing – fiction or nonfiction – readers will care about your story only if they care about your people. In this workshop, you'll learn techniques for creating fictional characters and depicting real people. You’ll learn how to breathe life into the page so that your characters start telling you how the story should go.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and has led creative writing workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown.  But his proudest boast is that he's helped many of his students get published.

Fee: $38.94 + 13% hst = $44 paid in advance
or $42.48 + 13% hst = $48 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve your spot, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Our love story almost never happened" a true story by Susan Crossman

We all know the life of a single mother is full of challenges and disappointments. As the self-employed mother of a lively six-year-old, I’d had enough. It was the endless winter of 1993 and I’d been fighting fatigue, bill collectors, my ex-husband and the clock – for years. I needed some goodness in my life.

Actually, I needed a miracle and I arrived at my home office late one afternoon after an especially tough day to find it: My high-school sweetheart had left a message on my voice mail wanting “to shoot the breeze,” as he put it ... more


Susan Crossman is a career writer with decades of experience in journalism, government communications, PR and marketing. She currently runs her own freelance writing business through which she produces newsletter and web content, speeches, reports, profile pieces and other custom documentation for clients in the corporate sector. You can read another of her pieces here. And check out Susan's website here.

To submit to Facts and Arguments at the Globe & Mail, see here.

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Two new Canadian literary agents at TLA: one looking for adult books; one for children's books

Transatlantic Literary Agency
72 Glengowan Road
Toronto, ON M4N 1G4
Canada
http://www.tla1.com/agents.php

Meghan Macdonald is accepting queries for adult fiction and nonfiction. She does not handle children's books, poetry, screenplays, YA, or YA/crossover manuscripts.

Meghan is new to the publishing world.  She lived in the UK for two years,working for literary agent David Grossman.  Upon returning to Canada in 2009, Meghan began working for TLA as an administrative assistant, researcher and assistant to the agents. She has recently begun building her own list as a literary agent with TLA with excellent clients she is proud to work with.

Meghan says: "My particular interests are in literary fiction, mystery novels, historical fiction (that has been impeccably researched but is still a fictional narrative), and topical exposé non-fiction that is persuasive and/or a sustained polemic. I am also interested in scholarly non-fiction, particularly historical treatments, that are intelligent but accessible without being simplistic (examples are Augustus by John Buchan, Apocalypse by Neil Faulkner, The Sea Kingdoms by Alistair Moffat, and Sailing The Wine-Dark Sea by Thomas Cahill)."

Query by email to meghan.macdonaldtla@gmail.com
Put your name and the title of the manuscript in the subject line (example: Query: John Smith - My Manuscript). Please send a 1-page cover letter in the body of the email and as an attachment, and attach a 1-page synopsis and the first 30-pages of the manuscript or thereabouts where a natural break occurs. Make sure all your attachments are free of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Meghan wantw to see a polished excerpt or manuscript (double-spaced please), not your first draft
More about Meghan Macdonald here.

Patricia Ocampo with author Kenneth Oppal
and his wife Philippa Sheppard
Patricia Ocampo represents children’s books (picture books, early readers, middle-grade, young adult), both fiction and non-fiction. But absolutely no poetry or verse.

In her first position in publishing, Patricia Ocampo divided her time between the children’s editorial departments at HarperCollins US and HarperCollins Canada, working out of the Toronto office. Since 2008, she has worked in sales, both at HarperCollins and Hachette Book Group. Patricia is currently president of IBBY Canada, one of 72 national sections of the International Board on Books for Young People, a non-profit organization that helps children in crisis through literacy initiatives.

Please email your complete manusript in PDF to: patricia@tla1.com
Submissions with only a summary or sample chapters will be immediately deleted. This applies to all submissions, not just picture books. The body of your email should include a short synopsis and your current city. Due to the volume of submissions received, further enquiries will be sent only for submissions being actively considered. More about Patricia here.

Other agents at TLA accepting new clients:
Samantha Haywood represents both fiction and nonfiction. In fiction, she represents literary fiction and upmarket commercial fiction. Getting more specific, yes to: literary thrillers and upmarket mystery, historical fiction, smart contemporary fiction, upmarket women’s fiction (but no romance writing), and cross-over novels (but no young adult novels unless they have adult trade potential as well).


Samantha also represents nonfiction She prefers narrative nonfiction, especially on culturally relevant topics. Some examples: investigative journalism, politics; women’s issues; memoirs (must be truly original or well known subjects); environmental issues; historical narratives handled in refreshing ways; sexuality; and true crime with societal implications. Essentially I’m looking for a strong narrative drive and distinctive voice at all times.

Samantha also represents graphic novels (fiction and nonfiction, preferably full length graphic novels, although story collections will be considered. Memoirs, biographies, travel narratives and other nonfiction graphica also welcome.

Query by email only to: sam@tla1.com
Authors are encouraged to email a cover letter with an attachment of maximum 20-page writing sample/excerpt (Microsoft Word document), along with a publishing history and synopsis. Please note if other agents are also considering the project. Due to the volume of submissions received, replies will be sent only for submissions being actively considered. More about Samantha Haywood here.

Marie Campbell specializes in children’s writers, with a particular interest in middle-grade fiction. She is not actively acquiring new clients at this time but is open to concise query letters via email.  No non-fiction or poetry collections. Query by email only to: marie@tla1.com

Highlight past publishing credits and/or referral from published authors/TLA clients. Do not submit further writing samples, either by post or email, until contacted. More about Marie here.

Brian Henry has a "How to Get Published" workshop coming up in Burlington on February 19 with agent Alisha Sevigny of the Rights Factory (see here). On May 7, he'll be hosting the "From the Horse's Mouth" seminar at Ryerson University, with literary agent Marilyn Biderman, Mike O'Connor, publisher of Insomniac Press, and Lynn Henry, Publishing Director of Doubleday Canada (details here).

Brian also has a few "Writing for Children & Young Adults" workshops coming up, on February 26 in Barrie (see here), on March 5 in Toronto (see here), on April 9 in Peterbrough (see here), and on April 10 in Kingston (see here).

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

Claire Gerus Literary Agency seeks fiction for adults and kids

Claire Gerus Literary Agency
8010 N Casas Place
Tucson, AZ 85742-9775


Claire Gerus, president of the Claire Gerus Agency, has been Editor-in-Chief of two publishing houses, worked for seven major publishers, including Harlequin, Rodale, Random House, Doubleday, John Wiley, Kensington, and Adams Media, has written articles for U.S. and Canadian magazines and newspapers, and has taught corporate communications to such clients as IBM, Kelloggs, Mutual of Omaha, and Procter & Gamble.

In 1996, she established a literary agency in New York, representing books on a variety of subjects: business, history, memoirs, religion, health, spirituality, psychology, politics, pop culture, and women's studies.

She sold a 3-million copy health bestseller and brought film star Esther Williams’ story to Simon & Schuster. It went on to become a New York Times bestseller.


In 1999, she joined Kensington Publishing in New York and founded TwinStreams Books, a complementary healing imprint. Later, as Executive Editor at Citadel Press, she acquired and edited titles on celebrity biography, self-help, relationships, spirituality, new age, diet, Judaica, and health.

From 2001-August, 2002, she was Executive Editor at Adams Media, where she published the first biography of Laura Bush. She also published a wide range of new age, business, self-help, and inspirational books.

She is presently working as a literary agent and book development consultant. Among her clients are an ex-CIA agent, three psychologists, a policewoman, a District Attorney, an Assistant Attorney-General, a business communications consultant, a women's safety advocate, a best-selling psychologist,the Wall Street Journal's Soviet specialist, and a former Miss Connecticut who now works as an inspirational columnist.

Claire is always interested in books that can change readers’ lives for the better. She is open to assisting authors as an agent, a book developer, or an editor.

Specialties: Biography; Business/investing/finance; History; Religious; Mind/body/spirit; Health; Lifestyle;  Science; True crime; Psychology; Politics

For nonfiction, submit to Claire at
gerus.claire@gmail.com
Include overview and author bio.
For more information about Clare, see her Publisher's Market Place listing
here.

Update Sept 5, 2011: Lora Rivera used to be an agent with the Claire Gerus agency, but she's left agenting to pursue her own wirting. Good luck, Lora!

Brian Henry has "How to Get Published" workshops coming up soon. For information about these and all of Brian's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2 postings in one: Doubleday Canada, and Ryerson University seminar for writers on strategies for getting published

"The Guardians" by Andrew Pyper,
published by Doubleday Canada
An imprint of Random House Canada, Doubleday publishes literary and commercial fiction titles and has a strong list of memoirs, social and political journalism, history, business, and sports books. Many of Canada’s finest and best-known writers publish with Doubleday, including Pierre Berton, Wayson Choy, Joy Fielding, Linda McQuaig, Nino Ricci, David Adams Richards, and M.G. Vassanji.

Doubleday is also proud to have nurtured the work of some of the country's most exciting new talents, such as Lynn Coady, Michael Crummey, Shree Ghatage, Camilla Gibb, Andrew Pyper, Michael Redhill, and Russell Smith.

Doubleday Canada maintains a Young Adult publishing programme that features such popular writers as William Bell, Douglas Cooper, Paul Kropp, Sheree Fitch, and Ting-Xing Ye.

Like many big publishers, Random House only accepts manuscripts submitted by an agent or by invitation.

On Saturday, May 7, 2011, Lynn Henry, Publishing Director of Doubleday Canada, will take part in From the Horse's Mouth, a panel discussion at Ryerson University moderated by myself, Brian Henry. (Full details here). At this event, you'll have the opportunity to ask all your questions and get the inside scoop on how to get your book published. Lynn will share the stage with literary agent Marilyn Biderman and Insomniac Press publisher Mike O'Connor.

"From the Horse's Mouth" will run 1 - 4 p.m. Ryerson students can register on-line here starting March 21.  If you're not a Ryerson student, reserve a spot by emailing brianhenry@sympatico.ca
Then on May 7, arrive 15 minutes early and bring a cheque or money order made out to Ryerson University for $94 (no cash or credit cards, please!), and we'll register you on the spot. (Yes, I know the Ryerson website says you can't register on the spot, but I do it every year, so don't worry.)  I'll let you know what room we're going to be in as soon as I know.

Lynn Henry (left) with author Gil Adamson
About Lynn Henry
In March 2010, Lynn Henry was appointed Publishing Director at Doubleday Canada where she oversees the acquisitions and work of the senior editors, provides vision for the overall list, and acquires a select list of her own books.

For the five years previous, from 2005 to February 2010, she was the Publisher at House of Anansi Press, where she acquired all the books for the list, managed the in-house staff and budget, and did hands-on editing for the press’s award-winning fiction list and the lead non-fiction, including the prestigious CBC Massey Lectures.

Anansi books published by Lynn include Rawi Hage’s multiple-award winning, bestselling first novel, De Niro’s Game, and Hage’s similarly lauded second novel, Cockroach; Peter Behrens’ 2007 Governor General’s Literary Award winner The Law of Dreams; Gil Adamson’s multiple-award winning, bestselling first novel The Outlander; Lisa Moore’s Giller-shortlisted novel Alligator and her bestselling, Booker Prize nominated novel February; Margaret Atwood’s award-winning, bestselling Massey Lectures, Payback; and Wade Davis’s multi-award winning, bestselling Massey Lectures The Wayfinders.

In all, books Lynn edited and published during her 5 years at Anansi were nominated for eight Scotiabank Giller Prizes (5 made it to the shortlist) and more than 20 Governor General’s Literary Awards (including 4 winners). All the books mentioned above, and many others, were sold internationally into numerous territories. Most recently among the books Lynn edited at Anansi, Kathleen Winter’s first novel Annabel was nominated for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and sold into numerous territories (including Cape in the UK and Grove Atlantic in the US.

Before joining Anansi, Lynn was the Associate Publisher for five years at Raincoast Books in Vancouver, where she oversaw the production of the Canadian editions of the Harry Potter books, and edited fiction by (among many others) Governor General’s Literary Award nominee Colin McAdam, and Giller Prize nominees Bill Gaston and Shani Mootoo.

Lynn has taught at the Simon Fraser University Summer Editing Workshop and the SFU Summer Publishing Workshop, and has been a guest lecturer at the Masters in Publishing Program at SFU and at many other undergraduate and graduate classes for writers. In 2007, Lynn won a Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Editor of the Year, while Anansi Press won Publisher of the Year. In all, Anansi won Publisher of the Year three times under Lynn’s tenure (in 2007, 2009 and 2010).


Note: Besides "From the Horse's Mouth" at Ryerson, I also have a "How to Get Published" workshop coming up in Burlington on February 19 with agent Alisha Sevigny of the Rights Factory (see here).
For information on all of my creative writing courses and writing workshops, see here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Crayon Magic" by Heather Eby

Crayons are magic.
Crayons can do anything.
Crayons come in lots of colours.
Crayons come in small boxes or big boxes.
Big boxes have more colours.
Really big boxes have even more, plus a sharpener.
Old crayons still work. Even after eighty years.
You can collect them and be crayon rich – if you share.

You can take crayons anywhere and nobody needs to know that you have them.
Crayons don’t leak.
Crayons don’t make noise.
Crayons don’t need batteries.
Crayons don’t have to be wound up.
Crayons never die; they just end up in pieces. But all the pieces still work.

You can write with crayons.
You can draw a picture.
You can go places you have never been.
You can do whatever you want, because you are powerful with a crayon.

You can write about a picture you made.
Or you can make a picture about a story you wrote.

You can tell your favourite colour, because it’s the shortest crayon in the box.
Or maybe it’s the longest one because you never use it because it’s your favourite.

Crayons have their own smell.
Unless you have a box with scratch and sniff crayons.
Then it gets all mixed up with weird smells like bubble gum.

Stick people look good in crayon.
So do stick animals.
You can draw a barn.
You can draw a field.

You can draw farmer Bryan in the field.
Bryan was born in ’37. 1537.
That means he’s really old.

You can draw your own line picture and colour it in with your crayons.
You can draw a horse.
Or you can draw a house.
Or you can draw a castle.
You can make own your own rainbow and stick it on your wall.

You can get a colouring book you like and colour in it.
You don’t have to use the colours the book tells you to.
And you don’t have to stay between the lines, because there’s no teacher with a switch.
You can go really far outside the lines.

You can have someone else draw a picture for you
And colour it in.
And then you can write about it.

You can share your crayons with others.
If your box is big enough, no one will get stuck with the white crayon.
White crayons are stupid – unless you have a black piece of paper, and it’s dark, and your flashlight is fading.

Hand a crayon to someone and they might make a mask and turn into someone else.
If they turn into Michelangelo or Rembrandt, they might make you a really nice picture with your crayons.

There are only three rules with crayons – and nobody knows what they are.
You can make the horse blue, and the grass orange, and the sky purple and the sun pink.
Or make them all green and say they are from Mars – or Oz.

You can take your crayons to an important meeting, like maybe a cabinet meeting, pull one out and make a smiley face.
Pink is nice. Or blue. Or maybe red.
Then pass your box of crayons around the room and start a trend.
Or get ushered out – with your crayons.

But before you leave, stick the smiley face to the door as a gift.
You can always make another because you still have your crayons.

You can imagine miraculous things with crayons.
Like, what would happen if we replaced all the guns in the world with different coloured crayons?
Would everyone learn to share?

You are a magician if you have a crayon.
Your crayon is your magic wand.
You can change your world with a crayon – at least for a while.


Heather Eby lives on the small family farm with a bevy of birds and animals. She had the pleasure of taking Brian Henry’s “Welcome to Creative Writing” class and is currently enrolled in his "Exploring Creative Writing."


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