Saturday, April 30, 2011

“How to Get Published,” Sat, Aug 27, Woodstock, Ontario

How to Get Published
Saturday, August 27, 2011
10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Royal Canadian Legion, 576 Brant Street, Woodstock (Map here.)

If you've ever dreamed of becoming a published author, this workshop is for you. We’ll cover everything from writing your opening 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: $38.94 + hst = $44 paid in advance
or $42.48 + hst = $48 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve a spot now, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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

"Daughter's Diary" by Liz Crockett

Hi, Brian.
I have written and self-published a wee book titled A Daughter's Diary. One hundred percent of the money from my profits will be donated to cancer research.

This book chronicles the journey my dad and I embarked upon when learning of his diagnosis of terminal cancer. I needed to do something. I learned of my dad's cancer a year after losing my mom to cancer. Then three months after losing my dad, I received my own diagnosis of cancer.

If anyone is interested, they can purchase it in one of two ways, either in paperback form for $13.11, or by reading it online for $7.24. Either way, after publishing costs, I will profit $5 per purchase, which will then be donated. You can download the printed book version here or download pdf file download version here.

I thank everyone for their consideration.
Sincerely,
Elizabeth (Liz) Crocket

Note: You can read some of Liz’s poetry here and here.

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

The writers bloc literary magazine wants good stories told in everyday words

Effective art uses words which most people are able to readily understand. If it doesn't, it is dismissed. It fails to make an impact and people ignore it, continuing on with their days and lives unaffected.

At The Writers Block, we think that affecting people should be the main point of creative writing. We will publish work that engages the average reader, with the knowledge that complex ideas do not necessarily require complex language to be effective. Writing which balances impact and innovation must be recognized and given a legitimate venue in which to voice itself. The Writers Block is intended to provide such a venue.

Submissions
- Keep fiction pieces shorter than 1500 words.
- Don't send more than 1 fiction piece or 2 to 3 poems.
- No limit on photography or artwork.
- Please send a short bio up front.
- Attach everything in one file, with one piece per page.
- Send all submissions to: the.writers.block@hotmail.com

Full submission guidelines here. Home page here.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kathryn Beaumont joins Kneerim and Williams literary agency, seeks authors

Kneerim & Williams (http://www.kwlit.com/) is a full-service literary and dramatic rights agency with offices in Boston and New York and affiliated agents in Los Angeles, Sante Fe and Baltimore. "We handle the placement of American and foreign publication rights as well as film, television, audio, digital media, and merchandising rights for a wide range of clients.

"Since its founding in 1990 by Jill Kneerim and Ike Williams, our mission has been to help talented writers achieve their publishing goals. We welcome both first-time writers and well-established authors. Over the years, our client list has grown to include New York Times best-selling novelists, prize-winning historians, scientists, and journalists.

"We believe in supporting the author's whole career as a writer. Our agents work collaboratively, so every author gets the benefit of the whole team's thinking in terms of publishing strategy. We're proud to represent outstanding and widely recognized writers in every category we handle."

Kathryn Beaumont joined Kneerim and Williams in April 2011 as an agent in the firm's Boston office. Kathryn's interests include commercial and literary fiction and a range of nonfiction, including memoir, personal growth, women's issues, history, travel, and current events.

For the past ten years, Kathryn has been a reporter, writer, and editor for publications including People magazine, Technology Review, and the Idaho Mountain Express. Her writing has appeared in the Washingtonpost.com, The BusinessWeek Guide to Best Business Schools (McGraw-Hill) and, most recently, Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & Modern Motherhood (Coffeetown Press).

As a practicing attorney, Kathryn also represents legal clients on a range of general intellectual property matters, including publishing, film, and television, as well as nonprofit organizational concerns.

Query Kathryn at: beaumont@kwlit.com

Note: Brian Henry will be leading: "From the Horse's Mouth ~ Strategies for Getting Published" at Ryerson University in Toronto on May 7. (See here).

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Welcome to Creative Writing course, Tuesday afternoons, July 5 - Aug 9, Mississaga

Six weeks of inspiration
Tuesday afternoons, 1 - 3 p.m.
July 5 - August 9
Unity Church
3075 Ridegeway Drive, Unit 8, Mississauga
(Just north off Dundas St, east of Hwy 403, west of Winston Churchill Blvd. in a business plaza. Map here.)

This course will open the door to all kinds of creative writing. We’ll visit short story writing and personal writing, children’s writing, memoir writing, and just for fun writing.

You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe environment, where your words will flow and flower.

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and has 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.

Fee: $94.69 plus 13% hst = $107
Advance registration only. Number of attendees strictly limited.
To reserve a spot now, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca
Note: Brian's writing classes tend to fill up. To avoid disappointment, register early.

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Roses" by Leila Meacham, reviewed by Judy Samuel

Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group, New York, (first edition hard cover January 2010) first trade paperback edition January 2011, 609 pages, CAD $15.50

Roses caught my eye as I was searching the store shelves for a new read. Its cover is fresh with vibrant red rose petals, framing the title which is fashioned in an old American font. The top of the cover is stamped with “The New York Times Bestseller” while a quote from People magazine frames the bottom: “Like Gone with the Wind, as gloriously entertaining as it is vast… Roses transports.”

Now that is a steep promise. I picked up the paperback and read the summary inside. It even passed my usual test method of randomly selecting passages from the middle of the book to sample the writing style. Everything looked stellar, and I couldn’t wait to get home to start on this six hundred page delight.

The story begins in the early 1900’s when eighteen-year-old Mary Toliver, the younger daughter of an East Texas cotton tycoon becomes the benefactor of her father’s will, much to her mother’s and brother’s shock. Her father made his decision knowing that Mary was the only one in the family who cared about the plantation and was the only hope for his family legacy to flourish into the future. Her mother is furious at her husband for leaving her to depend on Mary for her livelihood, and at Mary for inheriting what should have been hers.

The epic unfolds, taking us into the lives of the two other powerful families in town. These three families had together founded the town in the early 1800’s, built its economy and upheld its society ever since. Mary struggles with loneliness as she is ostracized by her mother and brother. She eventually falls in love with Percy, heir of the town’s booming timber empire. He has secretly adored her since she was a child and has tried his utmost to conceal it, leaving Mary with the impression that he has disliked her for years. Ollie, the heir of the third founding family is also in love with her, but has never shown it, thinking that Mary loves Percy. Mary’s brother, William, and the two other boys have been best friends since they were toddlers.

Thus begins a rapturous read, taking the reader into complicated depths of love, ambition, destiny and propriety. The three boys soon leave for war, and Mary is left to manage the cotton plantation on her own. The story continues through the war, the strained mother-daughter relationship, passionate love triangles, and their aftermaths. The simmering drama does not end with this generation of the three families, but continues into the next two, as circumstances demand desperate measures and sacrifices are made to preserve propriety and sometimes pride.

My own grandfather actually owns rubber, cocoa and rice plantations in South India, and he is faced with the reality that none of his children are inclined towards the business. I can’t imagine his heartbreak in knowing that the family legacy will literally be divided and sold upon his demise. I can see how Mary’s father felt the need to leave his estate to Mary.

I am sure that you are going to love this book, with its southern charm, captivating characters and tumultuous plot. It will be hard-pressed to find a chapter that your curiosity does not devour, and don’t be surprised if, like me, you wish the story never ended. Leila Meacham does a stellar job, and I hope that a good movie maker picks up the book one day, and lets us all experience another wonder such as “Gone With the Wind.”

Judy Samuel is recently married and lives with her husband, Eric Lau, in Toronto. Reading has been her passion since as far back as she can remember. She also loves languages, travelling and fashion. In addition to being an aspiring writer, she also owns her own jewellery business as a Stella & Dot stylist. (See here.)

You can read another of Judy’s book reviews here.

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival & Short Mystery Story Contest

The Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival will be held on Saturday August 13, 2011. Registrations are now being accepted. Maureen Jennings, author of the William Murdoch Series (from which T.V.'s Murdoch Mysteries have been derived) is our Grant Allan Award Winner fro 2010. Guest authors are Elizabeth Duncan, C.B. Forrest, R.J. Harlick, and Howard Shrier.

Join us for a day on bucolic Wolfe Island (a short ferry ride from Kingston, Ontario) for author readings, a panel discussion, meet and greet breakfast, lunch, and our famous church supper as well as the award presentation to Maureen and a guest lecturer on matters criminal.

The contest:
First Prize: $100
Second Prize: $50
Third Prize: $35

Guidelines
• Contest open to Canadian citizens or those resident in Canada and not previously published in the mystery or crime fiction genre.
• Previous 1st place winners are ineligible.
• Only one story per author per year
• Submission deadline June 1st, 2011
• Story must be in English and must not exceed 3500 words
• Winners will be notified by email on or before June 30, 2011 and results will be posted on the Scene of the Crime website: http://www.sceneofthecrime.ca/

See full contest rules and instructions for submitting your entry here.
Good luck!

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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book launch for “A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider,” May 7, Sarnia

Hi Brian,
I have some exciting news to share. I submitted two articles to an anthology and they were both chosen to be included in “A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider.” It contains stories of true-life experience, thought-provoking drama, light-hearted humour, imaginative fiction, and touching poetry, all written from a Christian perspective.

A nationwide book launch is planned between April 30th and May 7th. The Book Keeper in Sarnia is hosting a book launch for me on Saturday, May 7th, 1pm-2pm, 500 Exmouth St in Northgate Plaza. Everyone's invited.

The book is already available for pre-order on Amazon and will also be available at Chapters/Indigo stores. More information is available on our website here.

Thank you for sharing your expertise!
Ann Brent
http://www.writerbrent.wordpress.com/

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

Saturday, April 23, 2011

“Camping…!?” by Jamie Turner

When my boyfriend called me into the living room, I walked in to see a jungle of camping equipment and my boyfriend’s proud smile.

“Here’s all the stuff.” He gestured. I didn't even know what half of it was.

“So, we’re really going to do this?”

My boyfriend loved camping, and wanted me to share the passion. It’s so fun, he would say. It’s so romantic, he’d insist. I had never been camping, nor did I ever want to. I just didn’t get it. Why give up my soft bed for hard ground? I had been watching a lot of Dr. Phil lately though and on his relationship episode he said compromise was the key ingredient to a successful union. “Okay,” I said, looking at the equipment strewn across living room floor. “Let’s go camping!”

“I booked us for next weekend!” Nick practically hollered. “We leave Saturday afternoon. Just you, me and the great outdoors!”

It was Saturday afternoon. I had put off getting ready for as long as I could but Nick was out getting groceries and wanted to leave as soon as he got back. So, with a sigh I retrieved the largest overnight bag I had and opened my closet door. Was there fashion etiquette in the camping world? Was ripped clothing bad or expected? Would my Lulu lemon hoodie be too pretentious? Would my gold flip flops be too ‘city’? Maybe people just went barefoot like cavemen.

In the end I grabbed an old pair of cutoff jean shorts, a couple of t-shirts and a sweatshirt. I then filled the entire rest of my bag with band-aids, gauze, Polysporin, room deodorizer, hand sanitizer, bug spray, calamine lotion, a bear whistle and a twenty-sixer of vodka.

I heard the front door open. “Ready?” Nick yelled.

No. “Yes,” my mouth yelled. I took a last look at my plush, queen-sized bed and walked the plank to the front door.

“Hi camping buddy!” my boyfriend enthused, taking my bag and heading back outside.

“Can I bring my laptop?” I asked.

Nick turned and gave me a look. I let it drop.

“What about mosquito netting? Do we need that? I’ve heard we need that.”

“We’re not going to Africa. We’re going to Northern Ontario.”

“Okay, okay.” I started to close and lock the door. “Wait!” I stopped. “Should I have brought toilet paper?”

Nick gave me another look. This look I couldn’t read though. Did it mean, of course you need to bring toilet paper, or of course there will be toilet paper, or campers don’t use toilet paper!

I was scared.

The drive was endless. Three hours of long highway and nothingness. I was sick of the radio, sick of the CD’s we brought. I didn’t complain though. Dr. Phil’s influence? Nah, I was afraid Nick would suggest car games and I would have to jump and roll out of the moving vehicle.

We arrived at the camp. “Cool Breeze Campground” it was called. Nick parked the car in front of a small, rundown shack. “The head office,” he smiled sweetly. We had to stop here, I was told, to receive the site number where we could set up camp.

"You mean it matters?” I asked quite seriously.

Nick ignored this, got out of the car. He was back out in minutes. We continued farther into the grounds, driving down a narrow strip of dirt road surrounded by woods. The car made dust puff up in clouds. I coughed hard, hoping campground was not now embedded in my lungs and rolled up the window.

Then we came upon it…the community. Rows and rows of pitched tents. Big ones, small ones, close together yet a polite distance apart. People were all around. Laughing, chatting, reading, lounging. It was Boonie Land suburbia!

Nick stopped at a vacant slice of trampled forest and turned off the car. “Here’s our site!” he cried and bounded from the car. He ran to the small bit of space and walked its perimeter over and over in circles. Was he marking his territory? Oh god, was he going to pee on it?

I got out of the car.

“First we put up the tent.” Nick opened the trunk and started unloading all of all our stuff.

“Okay,” I said. “So a guy comes and does that?” I looked around for someone in some kind of authoritative orange vest.

“Noooo. We do it.”

Nick proceeded to pull out a whole bunch of poles and sticks. Some of them looked rusty. When was my last tetanus shot? I wondered. Had I ever had a tetanus shot? Oh god, I should have called my mother and asked before we left.

After a whole lot of pounding, hammering, fitting and stretching, our sleeping quarters were erected.

“Done,” Nick said and I went over to look.

I touched the side of the tent. “This is all that keeps me from being eaten by something?”

“What something?” he asked.

“I don’t know, whatever gets hungry out here.” I was given another look. “Okay,” I said determined to be a sport. “Now what do campers do?”

“We get wood and build a fire.”

This turned out to be pretty easy as the last campers had a fire pit and some wood leftover beside it.

“Now we eat,” Nick announced

He got out the cooler, put some chicken in a pan and added some foil wrapped potatoes. He put it over the fire and hummed while it crackled and spat. After a while he plopped a piece of chicken, and still hard potato on a paper plate and handed me some plastic cutlery. “Camping food,” he smiled.

I poked around at some charred parts, trying to miss the raw parts. “That was great,” I said, putting my near full plate in the garbage. “Now what? Songs around the fire?” I asked jokingly.

“Well, no. We can stay by the fire though. Perhaps invite over our neighbours, be social. That’s what people do up here. Get to know other campers, talk about camping stuff, tell camping stories.

“I’m going to bed.” I got up and walked toward the tent.

“It’s six-thirty.”

I zipped open the tent and got inside my sleeping bag fully dressed.

Nick stuck his head in. “You just want this to be over with, don’t you?”

“No, no,” I protested. “Early to bed, early to rise, right?”

“Uh huh. Well, I’m staying up. Enjoying the fire. The stars are gorgeous out here at night.”

“Oh, okay well maybe I’ll get back up when the stars begin.”

“When they begin?” Nick sighed with disgust and I could hear him settle back by the fire.

I should get up. I should go back out there and join him. I like stars. At least I enjoyed them at the planetarium in my reclining chair and air conditioning. Go back out there. Be supportive. You’re being closed-minded. You’re being a snob.

“Hey!” I heard a voice exclaim loudly. “Is that a Sabre?”

“Good eye,” I head Nick answer warmly.

Who was that? What they were talking about. Was it an animal? Did they spot something wild?

“A two man or a four man?”

The tent, they were talking about the tent. The voices were coming closer. Were they going to come in? Would Nick give a tour of the tent? Did campers do that?

“Two man.” Nick answered. “What’s yours?” The voices grew fainter as the men walked away.

I breathed a sigh of relief and closed my eyes. Okay, so I guess I didn’t exactly compromise on this. Still need to do some work on achieving that perfect relationship.

Note to self though, I thought as I pulled the sleeping bag over my eyes trying to block out the sun, tomorrow write in to Dr. Phil and make a show suggestion - that he and his wife go camping.

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. You can read another piece by Jamie 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, Barrie, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, London, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Orca Books seeks books for children and young adults

Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 5626, Station B
Victoria, BC V8R 6S4
http://www.orcabook.com/

Orca Book Publishers is Western Canada's premier children's publisher. With over 500 titles in print and more than 60 new titles a year, Orca publishes award-winning, bestselling books in a number of genres. The Orca main warehouse and editorial office are located in Victoria, British Columbia. Orca prides itself on publishing Canadian authors and bringing them to a wider market. The international recognition garnered has shown that Canadian authors can compete on a world stage while writing for, and about, Canadians.

Orca Book Publishers is presently seeking manuscripts in the following genres:
Board Books
Children’s Picture books
Orca Echoes: Early chapter books for ages 7-9
Orca Young Readers: Chapter books for ages 8-11
Juvenile Fiction: Ages 9-13
Orca Currents: For reluctant readers ages 10-14, with a reading level of grade 2.0-4.5
Orca Sports: For reluctant readers ages 10 and up, with a reading level of grade 2.0-4.5
Orca Soundings: For reluctant readers ages 12 and up, with a reading level of grade 2.0-4.5
Teen or Young Adult fiction: Ages 12 and up
Graphic Novels
NonFiction
Rapid Reads

Orca only accepts manuscripts from Canadian writers. Bo seasonal stories (Christmas, Hallowe'en, Easter, etc.), "I Can Read" books or collections of poetry. Submit by mail only. Faxed or emailed submissions will not be read or responded to. Submissions without a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) will not be read, returned or responded to. No editorial comment will be given unless we feel the submission has the potential for publication with Orca. Full submission guidelines, including details of what Orca is looking for in each category here

Brian Henry has a "Writing for Children and Young Adults" workshop coming up on on August 20 in Oakville. (See here).

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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to Write Great Characters workshop, Saturday, August 13, Barrie

The girl with the dragon tattoo – now there's a character!
How to find and create great characters
New date: Sat, August 13, 2011
(No longer July 30 as originally posted)
10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
The Community Room in Zehrs
472 Bayfield Street, Barrie (next to Wal-Mart, across from Georgian Mall – map here)

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  

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jeff Ourvan joins the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency


The Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency
151 West 19th Street 3rd floor
New York, NY 10011
http://www.jenniferlyonsliteraryagency.com/

Attorney Jeff Ourvan has joined the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency as a literary agent. Jeff 's interests are varied: he represents non-fiction works, especially memoirs, histories, biographies, international current events and sports. He also represents fiction works, particularly in the young adult, thriller and international fiction categories. Prior to his career as a literary agent, Jeff was a litigator for many years at two large New York-based corporate law firms; a communications consultant working in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo; and an editor of Living Buddhism magazine.
 
Query Jeff at: jeff@jenniferlyonsliteraryagency.com
 
Brian Henry will be leading: "From the Horse's Mouth ~ Strategies for Getting Published" at Ryerson University in Toronto on May 7. (See here).

He also has a "Writing for Children and Young Adults" workshop coming up on on August 20 in Oakville. (See here).

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

“The unforgiving tides” by Ross Pennie, reviewed by Jennifer Smith Gray

"The unforgiving tides: A young doctor encounters mud, medicine, and magic on a remote South Pacific Island,” Ross Pennie. Rhodococcus Press, $15, paperback 191 pages, 2009. Originally published in hardcover by Manor House, 2004. 

As promised, mud, medicine, and magic are delivered in this thoughtful, engaging, and entertaining account of Ross Pennie’s two-year stint as a young doctor on a remote South Pacific island.

Looking back more than twenty years, Pennie tells of his adventures volunteering, fresh out of medical school, at a clinic in Papua New Guinea. Each chapter tells the story of one event, usually a remarkable medical procedure the young Canadian doctor – “Dokta” in New Guinea Pidgin – performs on a desperate island resident.

Through these individual but intertwined tales, readers are treated not only to a gripping medical drama, but also to glimpses of the way of life in this remote place. The audience hears intriguing, realistic dialogue and witnesses the interactions of Pennie with his colleagues, mostly Roman Catholic nuns from around the world, with the locals that he treats, and with a group of international expatriates who gather for dinner and cards.

Author Ross Pennie
The mud is apparent in the shabby conditions Pennie lives in, complete with cockroaches in the kitchen and animals at his doorstep, and the even more scant living conditions of the local people, who often show up at the clinic filthy and malnourished.

The medicine is the reason that Pennie ends up in Papua New Guinea. The stories he reveals are his first experiences as a doctor, and readers undergo a trial by fire alongside the young physician as he employs innovative techniques out of desperation.

The magic is in the people he encounters and the impact they have on him, on his early experiences as a doctor, and on the rest of his career and life. More importantly, the magic he finds on the island, and even more so in retrospect as the tale dramatically comes full circle, is in knowing the difference that he made in the lives of those who called him Dokta.

Pennie’s story is a compelling read for those interested in medicine or remote parts of the world, and for all who appreciate touching stories of human interactions and triumph.

Jennifer Smith Gray is a graduate of the University of Waterloo's English - Rhetoric and Professional Writing program, and has extensive business and technical writing and editing experience. In recent years, she has been nurturing her inner creative writer, working on short stories, personal essays, and a memoir.

Born and raised in Northern Ontario, Jennifer transplanted herself to the big city 15 years ago and is inspired by all of the personal and professional writing-development opportunities in and around Toronto. When she's not putting pen to paper, Jennifer enjoys exploring her East York neighbourhood with her husband and kids.

Note: Ross Pennie has also published a mystery novel, Tainted; he has has a second mystery, Tampered, coming out in May, 2011; and a third mystery under contract.  Ross will be Brian Henry's guest speaker at upcoming "Writing Your Life & Other True Stories" workshops: on Sat, May 14 in Gravenhurst (details here), Sat, May 28 in Kitchener (details here), and Sat, June 11 in Hamilton (details here).

See Brian Henry's full 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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

West End (Vancouver) Writers Workshop annual contest


Barclay Manor,
meeting place of the Vancouver West End Writers
 The West End Writers Workshop is proud to announce the 2011 Writing Contest!

Three prizes in each of two separate categories - Prose and Poetry: $75 First Prize, $50 Second Prize and $25 Third Prize.

Online Submission Deadline May 15. Mailed Submissions postmarked no later than May 13
Awards Announcement and Ceremony at Barclay Manor - Wed., June 22, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. After-Ceremony Party at the Sylvia Hotel Bar at 8:30 pm

Entries may be submitted online at http://www.wewriters.org/  with fees paid to Paypal. All entries must be in the English language. Contest entries may cover any topic as there is no official theme. Prose word count is limited to 750 words. Poems are limited to one page each. Fees are $10 Canadian per prose entry or $10 for two poems. Full submission guidelines 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.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Love letters

Hi Brian,
Here's some news about how my writing is progressing: My short story, "The Night Belle Walked Along Spadina," will appear in TOK 6: Writing the New Toronto, to be published in April.

I'll be reading from this story at the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge Street in the Atrium on Friday, April 29, at 7 p.m. The event is part of the Keep Toronto Reading Series, hosted by Diaspora Dialogues.

Hope to see you soon. And thanks for all your support.
Best,
Joyce Wayne

P.S. Everyone's invited to the launch of TOK 6. Wednesday, April 20, 7:30pm at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto.

Note: Diaspora Dialogues is looking for short fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction. Selected authors will receive mentoring and your piece may appear in TOK 7. See here.

Hi Brian,
Some good news for me. I submitted a piece to Ars Medica and it will be published in their June magazine. No money for this, just the thrill!
Donna Kirk
For information about submitting to Ars Medica, see here.

Hi Brian,
I won third prize in a writing contest that was sponsored by University Women of Canada and yorkregion.com. You can read my story here.
Thanks Brian!
Heather Anne Lambert
Information about this contest for people living in York Region was posted on Quick Brown Fox on Jan 23. Hopefully, they'll run the same contest next year. Details here.

Hi Brian
I submitted two pieces to Chicken Soup for the Soul (O Canada version) and I’m thrilled that both pieces have been accepted.

"Manitoulin Connections" tells how I decided that my ancestral connections to Manitoulin Island were strong enough to merit buying the family cottage.

"Forgiving Miss White" tells about how I accepted a position as assistant to a stalwart female east coast pastor. I was just in my early twenties at the time, and the whole experience wasn't a happy one. In my story, I share how, years later, with God's help, I came to forgive, understand and have true affection for Miss White (not her real name)

The book comes out in November. Changes are possible up until a month before publication, but here's hoping neither of these pieces get booted from the final manuscript.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Exploring Creative Writing course this winter in Burlington. Thanks so much. It was also a treat to meet so many great people and talented writers in the class. I plan to join you again soon.

Rose McCormick-Brandon

For information about submitting to upcoming volumes of Chicken Soup, 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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Writing Great Characters" workshop, Saturday, July 16, Burlington, Ontario

Here's a collection of short stories full
of great characters – not all of them nice.
How to find and create great characters
An editor and an author tell all
Saturday, July 16, 2011
10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
St. Christopher's Anglican Church
662 Guelph Line, Burlington (Map here.)

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

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

Two reading nights at CJ's Cafe – come to read your work or just to listen

Come and hear some of the best writers you'll hear this year read their work.
We have 2 nights of readings coming up:
Thursday, April 21
& Thursday, April 28
Both evenings start at 6:30 p.m.
at CJ's Café, 2416 Lakeshore Rd W, Oakville.

Besides coming to hear the readings, you're also invited to come as a participant, to give a public reading of your own writing – if you’ve ever published a piece on Quick Brown Fox (or you have a piece in the queue waiting for publication) or if you’ve taken any of my “Intensive,” “Intermediate,” “Extreme” or “Advanced” creative writing courses.

If you’ve done this before, you know what a charge it is. If you haven’t done it yet, don’t miss this opportunity! To reserve your spot on the readers’ list, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

We can have only a limited number of readers in an evening. We have two spots still open for April 21, and half a dozen open for April 28. But don’t delay, these nights will fill up.

We also have our monthly writers' get-together coming up at CJ's on Tuesday, April 19. Details 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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang" by Sheila Gale

Hi Brian:
When we arrived back from wintering in South Carolina this past Tuesday, a parcel was waiting for me. Inside were two copies of my book Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang. What a feeling to hold your own book in your hands!

Thank you for your tremendous encouragement, Brian, and your shrewd comments. I also learned a lot from your writing programs (Intensive and Extreme creative writing) and found the critiquing from fellow writers very helpful.

It took hard work and lots of rewrites to achieve this goal. And patience. For me, patience was the biggest challenge!

The second book of the series, set in Tuscany and Provence, is complete. I'm now working on the third one, set in Savannah.

Sincerely,
Sheila Gale
Oakville, Ontario

P.S. Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang is available for downloading on Kindle here, from Kobo here. The paperback version will be available through Amazon in July.

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.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Copernicus Avenue" by Andrew J. Borkowski reviewed by Peter Unwin

Cormorant Books, Toronto, 2011. Paperback, 204 pages

“When a Pot Is An Angel of God”
For thirty years I’ve lived in Toronto’s Polish district, centred around Roncesvalles Avenue, a street that teems with paczkis, perogis, strudel, cabbage soup, and fading memories of an old war. Some time ago now, I witnessed these memories come to life on the porches and front yards of my neighbours; sudden furious outbursts of rage, usually in Polish but not always. Angry accusations followed by counter accusations, very elderly women gesticulating, screaming even, at some other very elderly person, male or female.

Years later, researching a piece on the Katyn Monument which stands at the foot of Roncesvalles, I visited the local High Park library and encountered the conflict again. For decades the world had allowed a fiction to take place around that terrible event, insisting it was German soldiers who took 30,000 Polish officers, hands bound and in pairs, and murdered them in the Katyn Forest. It was, of course, the Soviet Union, not the Germans who perpetrated this atrocity, and it would take forty years for the Soviet Union, to admit it.

In the High Park library which contains a large number of Polish language titles, I found two books, in English, about the Katyn Massacre. When I opened them, the shouting and the anger that had taken place on those front lawns was taking place all over again, this time on the pages in front of me. Every page of each book was defaced with furious markings, “Lies, lies, lies …. Nazi propaganda… Nazi pigs…Russia swine…” I can only assume that the scribbles written in Polish carried the same message. The battle raged on in these pages, literally between the printed words. One defacer would be answered by another, only to be answered in return. It was an unpleasant experience and seemed to undermine the integrity, even of reading.

Author Andrew Borkowski
It is those memories of war and devastation that lie, barely, beneath the surface of Andrew Borkowski’s first collection of stories, Copernicus Avenue. Set implacably and exclusively here, on these streets, in these staid houses, we encounter men and women struggling to stand up beneath the weight of memories that are frankly unbearable.

It is a tribute to these stories that this horror is made apparent to the reader not by the recitation of despicable acts, but by the struggles of the characters themselves to simply live with all of this swirling around inside them. Only once, in the haunting lead story “The Trees of Kleinsaltz” does that buried fury break out; it is a terrifying moment, as if the character in the story has himself reached out from the page and struck you in the face.

The danger of packing this much power into the first story of any collection is that the reader will come to expect it in the next one and the one after. This rarely happens in any book, and it does not happen here. It is it not meant to. What happens instead is a nuanced re-examination of average folk in a typical Toronto neighbourhood, one that has been wounded by history, but really is just a neighbourhood. It is that everyday quality that gives these stories their dignity, the steady investigation of the lives of the men and women who hold insufferable memories; the embattled widow who turns unfathomably on the children she is babysitting and cries,

“You think I am crazy when I tell you a pot is an angel of God?”

In the end, we do not think she is crazy at all. We think that she is someone who, against all odds, has managed to cling to her sanity.

Purchasing information for Copernicus Avenue here.

Peter Unwin is the author of four books, The Rock Farmers; Nine Bells For A Man; The Wolf’s Head: Writing Lake Superior, and most recently, Hard Surface; In Search of the Canadian Road. He is a longtime Toronto resident (living in the Republic of Parkdale) and a longtime friend, and colleague of Andrew Borkowski. Together they constitute two thirds of the spoken word musical trio; Zero Horse Town, which also features Brantford guitarist Dave Dafoe. Their first full length album “Broken Book,” is available on iTunes here. The video for “Broken Book” can be viewed here. Peter is also the inventor of the world’s first “Book Launcher,” a device that helps the author dispense with tedious and predictable book launch speeches. It can be viewed here.

Quick Brown Fox welcomes book reviews and other book-related articles. Guidelines 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.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Diaspora Dialogues seeks short fiction, creative nonfiction & poetry - deadline May 16

Diaspora Dialogues invites submissions to its annual publishing/mentoring program from emerging GTA writers of short stories or creative non-fiction less than 3,000 words in length; or up to 5 poems, with each poem being no more than 75 lines. Applicants are welcome to enter more than one category, but no more than one submission per category, please.
Diaspora Dialogues is committed to supporting a literature of Toronto that is as diverse as the city itself. The setting of the works must be, at least in part, the greater Toronto region. First and second-generation immigrants and First Nations writers are especially welcome.

Approximately 15 writers will be chosen and each assigned (free of charge) to an established writer in a mentoring capacity to gain feedback on their work. The writers will each be given an opportunity to read their work in Diaspora Dialogues’ popular multi-disciplinary performance series, which takes place across the city throughout the year in partnership with venues like Luminato, The Word on the Street, Nuit Blanche, Harbourfront, Toronto Public Library and others.

Writers may choose to submit the finished pieces to be considered for publication in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, the annual Diaspora Dialogues anthology available in bookstores across the country.

Eligibility:
Writers must not have been previously published in a full-length manuscript of their own (although appearances in magazines and/or anthologies are acceptable).

You must be living in the greater Toronto region, which includes York, Halton, Peel and Durham.

Deadline is May 16, 2011. Full submission guidelines 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.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers welcomes your fiction

Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers is a site for writers of thrillers, crime, horror and mystery stories to share their short story or flash fiction with others of a like mind.

Stories should be no more than 2,000 words long, edited to the best of your ability and (to cut down on spam emails) pasted in the body of an email. Stories should be submitted to: SubmissionsTKnC@Gmail.Com

In the subject line please write one of the following:
Submission: Crime (for all crime and noir)
Submission: Horror (for all horror, weird, ghost, spooky, supernatural etc)
Submission: Thriller (for all action, thriller, and spy)
If your story doesn't fit any of the above, place Submission: Thriller in the subject line (this would include humorous, slice of life etc).
If you want to add a bio with links to your own sites, paste them in the mail after your story.

Because of the nature of the site violence and profanity (in reason) will be tolerated. But  no handsome, tormented vampires with a heart (or bushy eyebrows) stories. (Unless, of course, as one witty reader suggested: "Is it okay if the heart isn't his own?").
Because of the adult nature of the site you must be 16+ to submit work.

There will be no payment, only the knowledge that others are reading and enjoying your work. The author retains all copyright to the works (be aware that some publishers will not take works previously published on the web), but we encourage feedback from our readers, the kind of support that is invaluable.

Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers home page here. Submissions page 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 in Muskoka, Peterborough, Kingston, London, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Great creative writing courses and workshops starting soon

"Writing & Revising"
~ a workshop to help you become a more successful writer ~
Saturday, April 16
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
London Central Library, Stevenson & Hunt room A
251 Dundas St, London (In the Galleria Mall - map here)
If you want to refine your story-writing skills and cut the time you'll need to spend editing, this workshop is for you. You'll learn how to rethink, rework and rewrite so that your manuscript lives up to your vision. More here.
To register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

“Welcome to Creative Writing”
Offered in three locations:
Tuesday afternoons, 12:45 - 2:45 p.m.
April 19 - June 14
St Cuthbert's Anglican Church, 1541 Oakhill Drive, Oakville
Fee: $115.04 plus 13% hst = $130. More here.
Monday evenings, 7 - 9 p.m.
May 2 - June 20
Glen Williams Town Hall, 1 Prince Street, Georgetown
Fee: $101.77 plus 13% hst = $115. More here.
Monday afternoons, 12:45 - 2:45 p.m.
May 9 - June 20
Islington United Church, 25 Burnhamthorpe Road, Etobicoke
Fee: $94.69 plus 13% hst = $107. More here.
This course will open the door to all kinds of creative writing. You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe environment, where your words will flow and flower.
To reserve a spot now, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

"Intensive Creative Writing"
~ A course for people working on their own writing ~
Offered Wednesday afternoons in Burlington (more here) and Wednesday evenings in Mississauga (more here), April 27 to June 15.  Both classes are full, but if the waiting list grows much longer for either of them, I may be able to offer this class in a third location.

"From the Horse's Mouth"
 ~Strategies for getting published ~
Saturday, May 7,
12:45 - 4:00 p.m.
Ryerson University, Toronto
(Room number to be announced.)
Bring all your questions. Get them answered by the most knowledgeable people in the publishing industry. This panel discussion will be moderated by Brian Henry.
The panel:
Lynn Henry, publishing director, Doubleday Canada
Mike O'Connor, publisher Insomniac Press
Marilyn Biderman, principal agent, Marilyn Biderman Literary Management
Biographies of panellists here.
Fee: $83.19 plus hst = $94
Reserve a spot by emailing: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian Henry's full schedule here, including writing workshops or creative writing courses in Brampton, Hamilton, Kitchener, Orangeville, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Peterborough, Kingston, London, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Canadian Writers’ Journal short fiction contest – deadline April 30

For this contest, you may submit a story in any genre. Maximum length 2,500 words. Entrants must be Canadian citizens or landed immigrants.

Cash awards: first place $150, second $100, third $50. First, second and third place and honorable mentions will be published the new annual Canadian Writers’ Journal and as a chapbook in the Choice Works series.

Deadline: entries must be postmarked by April 30, 2011. Entries received too late for one deadline will be held over for the next deadline date.

Entry fee: $5 per entry. No limit for number of entries.

Manuscripts should be typed, double-spaced, and prepared in standard form except that no identification of the author is to appear on the manuscript itself.

Name, address and a short biography (200 words) of the author are to be submitted on a separate sheet to accompany the entry.

Winners to be announced and prize winning stories are published in the Canadian Writer's Journal. Entry gives permission to include all the contest winners in Choice Works which is published and available separately. Winners receive a complimentary copy.

Mail entries to:
Short Fiction Contest
Canadian Writer's Journal
Box 1178
New Liskeard, ON P0J 1P0

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.

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 in Muskoka, Peterborough, Kingston, London, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Writing for Children & for Young Adults, Saturday, August 20, in Oakville

Writing for Children
& for Young Adults ~ the world's hottest market

Saturday, August 20, 2011
10:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Oakville Central Library Auditorium (on middle floor)
120 Navy Street, Oakville. (Good all-day parking on Water Street, just north of the library. Map here)

Whether you want to write the next best-selling children’s books or just want to create stories for your own kids, this workshop is for you. Learn how to write stories kids and young adults will love, and find out what you need to know to sell your book.

Special option: You may, but don't have to, bring 2 or 3 copies of the opening couple pages (first 500 words) of your children’s book or young adult novel. (Or if 1,000 words will get you to the end of your picture book or to the end of your first chapter, bring that.) If you’re not currently working on a children’s story, don’t worry, we’ll get you started on the spot!

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He is also the author of a children’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Tribute Publishing Inc).

"Brian’s the real deal. He isn't just an inspiring teacher – he's plugged into the publishing world! He got me an agent who sold my first novel, Bitten, to publishers around the world. Last May, my young adult novel, The Awakening, hit number 1 on the New York Times bestsellers' list. And Random House Canada, Bantam U.S. and Little Brown in Britain have contracted my next seven books. So it looks like I’ll be writing for a while."
~ Kelley Armstrong, Aylmer, Ontario, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Awakening, The Reckoning, The Gathering, and other supernatural thrillers for teens and adults.

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 a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca  

Photos: Two books by Brian's students – The Awakening, a YA novel by Kelley Armstrong and Business in Bangkok, a picture book by Lynn Westhout.

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Sarah’s Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay, reviewed by Maria Mallozzi

St. Martin's Press, 2008, Trade Paperback, 320 pages

Children’s questions have a way of stripping down a situation and getting to what’s important. In Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay uses the questions of a ten-year-old girl to make readers feel the inhumanity of the Vel D’Hiv roundup of Jews in 1942 Paris.

A young girl’s playtime with her little brother is interrupted by the appearance of French policemen, and she locks him in their favourite hiding spot, promising to return.

What makes this book unforgettable is de Rosnay’s ability to convey the girl’s confusion about the arrest and her fear of not being able to keep her promise to her brother.

In 2002, Julia Jarmond, a journalist on assignment begins to ask her own questions about this period in Holocaust history. Her quest to find out what happened to the young girl and her family after they were arrested becomes the reader’s quest. Julia’s modern problems serve to heighten our awareness of very different lives and very different problems in France in 1942.

Julia had never heard of the French cooperation with the Nazis, so she is also searching for the opportunity to apologize for “not knowing.” “Knowing" and reactions to “knowing” are what this book is essentially about and De Rosnay uses the reactions of her secondary characters to further this theme. Julia’s personal decisions and actions demonstrate that hope comes with knowledge – hope that we may learn from history and the unjust deaths of so many will not have been totally in vain.

Maria Mallozzi lives and works in Mississauga Ontario. Her writing was shortlisted in the 2008 CBC Literary Awards in the creative non-fiction category. She would now like to apply some of her creativity to fiction and to that end has enrolled in a Brian Henry writing class.

Quick Brown Fox welcomes book reviews and other book-related articles. Guidelines here.

See Brian Henry's current 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.