Sunday, July 31, 2011

Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar ~ now $10 off regular price

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced writer, if you’re looking for places to send your work, you should put contests on your list. The Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar gives a full listing of contests in Canada arranged by deadline date. It lists contests for short stories, poetry, children’s writing, novels, and non-fiction – contests for just about everyone.

The contests listed or annual competitions, so the book remains useful for longer than just the calendar year.

The 2011 edition is now available for just $10 at one of my workshops or classes or $13 by mail (all taxes and shipping included).

To order, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca  

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

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Classifieds: Email critique group wanted; Artist creates covers for self-published authors


Hi, Brian.
I'm here to offer my services to all of you who are in the process of self-publishing their work. It's a bit of a daunting task, I know. I've done it. I'd like to collaborate with you. I'm an artist and I design book covers.

I live in Northern Ontario and freelance. I've had the pleasure of working with Audrey Austin, author of Sarah, A Canadian Saga, Reawakening and The Silent Star as well as a collaboration with Gerald A Servais; The Coriolis Effect: The Second Law and The Thistles and Thorns of Blackcreek.

I'm relatively new at this genre but have been commended for my work.

I feel every book deserves a cover and despite the hundreds of illustrators possibly clamoring for your book, I would love an opportunity to make it a standout! Feel free to contact me at susaruby@sympatico.ca  

Thank you everyone! Keep the ink flowing!
Susan Ruby K
www.yuneekpix.com

Hi, Brian.
I'm looking for some like-minded individuals interested in exchanging pieces of our work for the comments, critiques, and opinions of other writers, via email. Like so many of us these days, my schedule is hectic with family, household and work commitments, so finding the time to attend an actual group meeting is very difficult, but I'd really appreciate the feedback of others, and would be happy to offer the same in return. I hope this method will allow us the time flexibility to participate in an experience we might not be able to otherwise.

I must be clear: I have no professional or educational credentials regarding writing, I can offer only my personal opinion. I, myself, write journalistic and personal essays, literary fiction novellas and short stories. My reading tastes are very eclectic, and I'm hopeful I can be unbiased by the genre of a piece, in favour of the substance of the work.

If anyone’s interested, please contact me at: clynh@shaw.ca

Yours,
Celynne Hinzmann

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

You're invited to a book launch for Canadians at War: A Guide to the Battlefields of World War I by Susan Evans Shaw

Please join Susan Evans Shaw for the release of her unique heritage travel guide Canadians at War: A Guide to the Battlefields of World War I (Goose Lane Editions).

August 4 at 7 p.m.
at Bryan Prince Bookseller
1060 King Street West, Hamilton

Canadians at War follows the route of the Canadian Expeditionary Force from its first encounter with German forces at Neuve Chappelle to the site of the 1915 gas attack at St. Julien, from the Somme to Vimy and Passchendaele.

In this informative guide, Susan Evans Shaw, collaborating with photographer Jean Crankshaw, provides an historical overview of each battlefield as well as maps, photographs, and information on the memorials and cemeteries. The first book of its kind, Canadians at War fills a gap in heritage travel literature that has existed since the Armistice.

Both Susan and Jean will be launching Canadians at War at Bryan Prince Booksellers. Books will be available for purchase, and both Susan and Jean will be happy to sign your copy.

Signed copies of Canadians at War can be purchased at the launch; otherwise, copies can be purchased at bookstores or online here. For more about Canadians at War and about Susan's first book, Heritage Treasures, see here. For information about submitting to Goose Lane Editions, see here.

Brian Henry will be leading "How to Get Published" workshops on August 27 in Woodstock, (see here), on September 24 in Guelph with guest Monica Pacheco of the Anne McDermid Agency (see here), on Sunday, Oct 23, in Sudbury (see here) and on December 3 in Oakville with guest Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory literary agency (see here).

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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lauren Ruth of BookEnds literary agency seeks literary & commercial fiction, YA, memoir, and popular nonfiction

Lauren Ruth started her publishing career as an intern at Simon & Schuster's Touchstone/Fireside imprint. Shortly thereafter, she completed her second internship at BookEnds, where she fell in love with the literary agency side of the publishing industry. In February 2011, she joined BookEnds as a full-time literary assistant. She will soon have her master's degree in book publishing. Lauren blogs at http://slushpiletales.wordpress.com/

Lauren is looking for literary fiction, romance, women's fiction, chick lit, young adult, middle grade, mystery, historical fiction, and steampunk.

On the nonfiction side, she's looking for memoir, parenting and family, relationships, food and lifestyle, business, popular science, popular culture, and popular psychology.

Query Lauren at: lruth@bookends-inc.com. Include your query in the body of the email.

For more about other agents at BookEnds seeking clients, see here. BookEnds home page here. Submissions page here.

Brian Henry has a "Writing for Children and Young Adults" workshop coming up on on August 20 in Oakville (see here), in Gravenhurst in Muskoka on October 1 (see here), and in St. Catharines on January 14, 2012 (see here).

Also, Brian will be leading "How to Get Published" workshops on August 27 in Woodstock, (see here), on September 24 in Guelph with guest Monica Pacheco of the Anne McDermid Agency (see here), on Sunday, Oct 23, in Sudbury (see here) and on December 3 in Oakville with guest Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory literary agency (see here).

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

"Writing for children, juveniles & young adults," Saturday, January 14, 2012, St. Catharines, Ontario

The Canadian Authors Association, Niagara, presents...
"Writing for Children
& for Young Adults ~ the world's hottest market"
Saturday, January 14, 2012
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
St. Catharines Central Library, 54 Church St, St Catharines (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. Recenlty, 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."
~ 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 – Business in Bangkok, a picture book by Lynn Westerhout, and The Awakening, a young adult novel by Kelley Armstrong.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sono Nis Press

Sono Nis Press
PO Box 160
Winlaw, BC V0G 2J0
http://www.sononis.com/

In 2011, Sono Nis celebrates 43 years of publishing: 43 years, more than 400 titles, 200 authors, and a fabulous string of Canadian poetry and history prize nominations and awards including the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, Eaton's Book Prize, BC Book Prizes, Governor General Awards, Lieutenant Governor's Medal for History, CAA Award, BC History Prize and others.

Sono Nis Press publishes Juvenile Fiction for ages 9 - 14 (not picture books or young adult fiction), British Columbian History, First Nations, Transportation History (Railway, Nautical, Aviation), Historical Biography, and Pioneer Autobiography.

We do not publish adult fiction, poetry, political, self-help, or out-of-country authors.


Sono Nis accepts unsolicited manuscripts, but we prefer initial inquiries consisting of cover letter, outline, a sample chapter or two, and a brief author bio. We prefer not to receive multiple submissions and do not accept or consider email submissions. Full submission guidelines here.
 
Brian Henry has workshops on "Writing for Children, Juveniles and Young Adults" coming up on on August 20 in Oakville (see here), in South Carolina on September 10, and in St. Catharines on January 14, 2012 (details to come).

Brian is leading "How to Get Published" workshops on August 27 in Woodstock, Ontario, (see here), on September 24 in Guelph with guest Monica Pacheco of the Anne McDermid literary agency (see here), on Sunday, Oct 23, in Sudbury (see here) and on December 3 in Oakville with guest Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory literary agency (see here). Both Monica Pacheco, the guest speaker in Guelph, and Ali McDonald, the guest speaker in Oakville, specialize in representing authors of children's, juvenile and young adult books.

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

Monday, July 25, 2011

The notorious 3-Day Novel Contest, Labour Day weekend (register by Sept 2 or, for discount, by Aug 5)

Can you produce a masterwork of fiction in a mere 72 hours? The International 3-Day Novel Contest is your chance to find out. The contest has run every Labour Day Weekend since 1977 and now attracts writers from all over the world.

It's a thrill, a grind, and an awesome creative experience. How many crazed plotlines, coffee-stained pages, pangs of doubt and moments of genius will the next contest bring forth? And what might you think up under pressure?

Deadlines:
The 34th Annual International 3-Day Novel Contest takes place Labour Day weekend, September 3 – 5, 2011. You must submit a registration form, with the entry fee, by September 2. The is $50 if sent by Aug. 5 and $55 if sent after that.

Prizes:
Grand Prize: Publication by 3-Day Books
2nd Prize: $500
3rd Prize: $100
(And, for everyone who commits to the contest, a big creative rush. Plus a fancy certificate!)

Complete rules and entry forms here. Home page here.

To keep up to date with all the annual writing contests in Canada, get the 2011 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar – now just $13 including tax and shipping (or $10 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, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, Kitchener, Orangeville, Barrie, Woodstock, London, Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Come Fly with Me," by Jihad (Jim) Zaiter

Flying nowadays must be one of the least favourable human activities in North America, followed closely by root canal extraction. Don’t get me wrong now; people still crave vacation time and getting away from the hustle and bustle of their stressful everyday lives.

Yep, most people still love nothing more than stretching on a sandy beach, strolling through an amazing new city, eating at gourmet restaurants, and other kinds of highly anticipated vacation related activities. It’s the part where they have to fly from miserable A to wonderful B and backwards, that they dread the most.

In a time when terrorism became trendy in some parts of the world and when a few fanatical thugs have garnered the will, knowhow, ability, and determination to fulfil their life dream of blowing passenger airplanes out of the skies, the rest of us have been left to deal with the ugly post 9-11 realties of airports and flying.

Travellers now face a stringent and ever changing system of long line ups, multi-layer security checks, ridiculous restrictions, dos, don’ts, cautions and rainbow-color threat levels. Just mix those ingredients with a healthy dose of horror to keep us terrified like chickens and obedient like sheep, courtesy of the completely scared and paranoid group of security agencies running the whole new iron-clad misery show. Serve with fresh uncertainties and enjoy.

I have to admit that our protectors probably have the best intentions at heart, but are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, because “patting down” toddlers, just outside the gate, have another legal term: Child molestation.

Yes, all of us are victims and there is very little we can do except pack a lot of patience, resilience and “suck it up” approach every time we head to our next flight.

But while all travellers nowadays suffer, the suffering is not equal. A small group of chosen ones get the VIP treatment “in reverse” at most US entry ports. These poor souls are blessed with additional screening and waved into obscure back rooms filled with very apprehensive security personnel thinking that the 75-year-old Anglo-Saxon lady in front of them is the next Osama Bin Laden, in disguise.

I happen to belong to that group (not the old White ladies, but the poor souls). My venture into any US-bound flight is pretty much a bitter medicine that I have to swallow. Every single time I travel to the US, Border Services personnel, give me an offer that I cannot refuse, called Random Secondary Screening, making the word "random" here, an insulting oxymoron.

Of course, their executives still go on national TV, declaring that they never profile “ethnic minorities,” the politically correct description for suspicious, dark-skinned, Middle-Eastern aliens with creepy names. So I sit through a long session of questioning about daring to venture into the US of A.

Questions start with my motives and travel plans, which is expected. Then they get on to my name.

“Jihad?” says the Border Services agent. “Your name is Jihad Zaiter?”

“My friends call me Jim,” I suggest.

No good. I always end up in a little room, trying to explain to a border agent that Jihad is a common name for Arabs – Muslim and Christians alike.

I tell them my parents sent us to Catholic schools and decorated our house with a Christmas tree every December. It doesn’t really help.

It doesn’t help, either, to mention that I’m a secular person, fond of visiting churches and cathedrals when I’m travelling or that my wife is Catholic and we had a civil union because we are way past religions in our lives. And no, having chosen Hebrew names (Daniel and Sarah) for my kids doesn’t help either.

It could be worse. In Germany in the 1930s, Adolf must have been quite a common name for baby boys. Imagine the nightmare that turned into in the late 1940s.

Next, the border agents question me about the other dodgy era of my life. Before coming to Canada, I was a vending machines salesman based in Dubai, and I wandered around those eerie Middle Eastern countries all year round. Most border agents seem amazed that the extraterrestrials in Pakistan and Sudan enjoy carbonated soft drinks. They’re surprised Ethiopia even has electrical current to run vending machines.

One agent could not believe that my 70-year-old dad, now retired in his home village in Northern Lebanon, goes fishing in the morning then enjoys a cold Heineken on his porch in the afternoon while he barbecues lamb chops.

I have been even also asked, by a serious and well fed officer, about the real origins of hummus and whether tabouleh can be made with curly leafed parsley? No, you must use Italian flat-leafed parsley.

Nevertheless, I have been lucky enough that I was not denied entry to the US, so far, and for that I let out a huge breath of relief every time I receive my long-awaited entry stamp and I’m waved in the direction of the terminal, not back to the parking lot. What follows is a hurried dash through the airport to my gate, with less than a 60% chance of making it, then a walk of shame up the aisle to my seat, facing the nasty looks of fellow passengers who probably think that I was getting drunk in the terminal pub, ignoring repeated last calls for my flight.

Traveling south is certainly not my cup of Tim’s, but I have to do it occasionally for business purposes. Nevertheless, let me shock you all by revealing that I also travel south a couple of times a year for pleasure. Why, you ask, after telling you about my travel plights?

Well, the answer is weird but simple. I love flying. No, not the vacation part; but rather the flying element itself. And no I am not losing it from all those homeland security episodes. You see, since I was a little boy growing up in war-ravaged Lebanon, traveling has been my true and only passion. I dreamt of visiting faraway places where tall, pretty people spoke other languages, ate different food, and lived in modern, clean and most importantly safe cities. Moreover, America was my ultimate dream destination. I watched the movies, read the comics, wore the jeans, imitated the accent and just existed so that one day, I could fulfil my dream of travelling to Uncle Sam’s main land.

Unfortunately, my first flight came at the tender age of 22, as a fresh graduate from university, packing his suitcases and moving, not to New York as I hoped, but to the very hot, dry and sandy deserts of Kuwait in pursuit of wealth and success. And while I was broken-hearted to leave my family and friends behind, I was super excited about the plane ride, because the kid inside me never grew up.

Since that summer day in 1991, I’ve flown to 62 countries, visited amazing places and met wonderful people of all colors, shapes and backgrounds. And through my travels, flying became my gateway to these marvellous adventures.

I learned to enjoy the features about flying that other people just hate: Planning, researching, booking, deals, packing, transportation, terminal, lounges, expensive airport food, boarding, dry peanuts sachets, claustrophobic restrooms, coach seats, frustrating passengers, mean crew, cabin pressure, noises, jetlag, etc.

Have I missed much? I guess not. Every annoying flying component of these is just one piece in a puzzle, each quite awful on its own, but for me, they come together to create the magic of travel. Even the flight home is a pleasure. I am always glad to fly back home, even if it was from sunny Florida to freezing Toronto. I just love flying.

I believe that we should all face today’s unpleasant flying conditions like an adventure. Adventures are risky endeavours filled with danger, incidents, mishaps, and uncertainty. But the unexpected events are what make excitement. Delays, cancellations, alternative routes, lost luggage, bomb threats could be quite annoying, but in most cases, aren’t you super glad that you – eventually – reached your destination or that your suitcase arrived, though three days late?

I know that travelling is sometimes as fun as smashing your thumb with a hammer, but a car accident or a leaking roof can be just as miserable. Rediscover the adventure of flying and learn to enjoy it – you’re lucky to live in this time and age. Most of the world was discovered by sailing ship, on horseback, or on foot by plain regular folks wading through jungles, swamps and death traps.

Sorry if flying to California will take five hours of your precious times. Would you like it more if you were a 17th century pioneer struggling through a six-month road trip that had a fifty–fifty survival chance? So stop the whining, complaining and negative feelings, and praise your fortunes, the skies or God for your good luck and your blessings. Just remember to pack your suitcase yourself, making sure all your liquids are under 100ml and stashed in a clear Ziploc bag, and come fly with me.

Jihad (Jim) Zaiter is a fashion-marketing entrepreneur based in Toronto and one of the founders of the Los Angeles based MNM Couture label. Jim's other passion is writing poetry, short stories, sarcastic essays, and stand-up comedy. Jim's background as an international citizen and world traveler, as well as his fluency in three languages, enables him to observe, catch and report on the stranger parts of our world.


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

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New agent Halli Melnitsky of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth seeks literay & commercial fiction and YA


"Let's Take the Long Way Home"
by Gail Caldwell, represented by
Zachary Shuster Harmsworth 
Zachary Shuster Harmsworth
1776 Broadway, Suite 1405
New York, New York 10019
and
535 Boylston Street, 11th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
http://www.zshliterary.com/

Halli Melnitsky joined Zachary Shuster Harmsworth in February 2011. She began her publishing career at Time Inc. and with an internship with the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

Before joining Zachary Shuster Harmsworth, Melnitsky was an Assistant Editor at Amy Einhorn Books with G.P. Putnam and Sons. There she assisted with authors such as Kathryn Stockett, Sarah Blake, and Eleanor Brown. She worked on several titles, including Neil Pasricha's internationally best-selling Book of Awesome series.

Halli is currently seeking fiction, both literary and commercial, with a smart, engrossing voice. She is also interested in compelling YA—both stand-alone titles and series. In non-fiction, she is particularly looking for work that takes readers inside an unusual phenomenon or an unfamiliar world.

How to contact: You can query her via the contact section of the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth website here.
Select Halli Melnitsky from the pull-down menu for “To whom would you like this message sent?”

Brian Henry has a "Writing for Children and Young Adults" workshop coming up on on August 20 in Oakville (see here) and in Gravenhurst in Muskoka on October 1 (see here).

Also, Brian will be leading "How to Get Published" workshops on August 27 in Woodstock, (see here), on September 24 in Guelph with guest Monica Pacheco of the Anne McDermid Agency (see here), on Sunday, Oct 23, in Sudbury (see here) and on December 3 in Oakville with guest Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory literary agency (see here).

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

Friday, July 22, 2011

David Johnston, Communities Editor of the Montreal Gazette, seeks stories about how travel has transformed you

Jerusalem, a city of ruwach - wind & spirit
Transformed by Travel: A sense of the divine in ancient Jerusalem
by David Johnson, Montreal Gazette

Although the word “tourism” didn’t enter the Oxford English Dictionary until 1811, people have been travelling for business and for pleasure since the beginning of time.

I got a sense of this long history of travel when I visited Jerusalem in May 2009. At the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where Christian faith holds that Jesus was crucified, I noticed a piece of graffiti on one of the front columns of the church, which was built in 324 and has been rebuilt and renovated many times since. It said: “Piero 1389.”

Hundreds of years ago, pilgrims who went to Jerusalem would typically walk or travel by horse to Venice or Rome, take a boat from there to Jaffa (now part of Tel Aviv), and then go eastward by donkey up into the hills to Jerusalem. The trip would take months. Today, you can fly to Tel Aviv direct non-stop overnight from Toronto.

I visited as part of an ordinary tour group composed of Canadians, Americans and Australians. It was the spring after the 2008 economic downturn, so tourism to Israel had slowed down somewhat. We were about a dozen people, and fit into a large minivan. We spent nine days touring the country, including four nights in Jerusalem.

There’s a municipal building code in Jerusalem that requires construction to be carried out exclusively with Jerusalem limestone, which is blond in colour – unlike Montreal limestone, which is medium grey, or Quebec City limestone, which is light grey. The colour uniformity gives Jerusalem an overall look of unity, despite ongoing uncertainty over the future political status of east Jerusalem, where the city’s Arab population is concentrated.

At night, the blond limestone is transformed into a more brilliant golden shine by light from the city’s street lights, floodlights shining up at buildings from lawns, and pot lights that have been designed into the buildings. A lot of careful attention has been paid to night lighting, and as a result the holy city has a heavenly aura after dark.

I was completely unprepared for this powerful sensorial aspect of Jerusalem.

But there’s something else about the city: the wind.

Jerusalem is a city that sits on the very top of a mountain range that slopes down to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and to the Dead Sea in the east. And so it is a city that tends to catch a lot of the prevailing winds. I will never forget walking up from the walled Old City on my first night in Jerusalem, past the King David Hotel to trendy Ben Yehuda St., and noticing how there was a steady, gentle rustling of the leaves in the trees, no matter what street I was on.

Listening to that sound against the city’s golden backdrop, I thought how easy it is to imagine that there is a divine force behind the wind.

This thought came back to me last month when I attended a mass in LaSalle at which a prayer was said in memory of Mike King, a friend and colleague who died suddenly in June last year at age 51. Mike, a reporter in the business department, had worked at The Gazette for 22 years.

During that mass, Father Mike Shaw talked about the power of the Holy Spirit, and pointed out how there was one word in Hebrew to signify both “wind” and “spirit.”

To be sure, other spiritual and religious traditions have interpreted divine meaning in wind. But the Holy Spirit, as a proper noun, is something that exists only in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths.

Father Shaw led us in prayer. He asked God to “breathe” the Holy Spirit into us so that our thoughts and our actions can remain faithful to His will.

Had I never walked the streets of Jerusalem at night and experienced wind as I did in the holy city, I’m not sure if Father Shaw’s words would have resonated with me. But because of travel, because of Jerusalem, and because of the memory of Mike King, I am starting to see wind now as a companion.

How have you been transformed by travel?

Vacations are good for us – everyone knows that. In Quebec, vacations have official calendar status, with the provincial government mandating an annual two-week “construction holiday,” a period when industry and commerce slow down.

This summer, the Opinion page will be publishing personal stories about vacation travel – stories that show the power of travel to provoke new insights into the way we look at life, or the lives we lead the rest of the year.

If you have a story to share about how travel and/or vacations have affected your life, please send it to me at djohnston@montrealgazette.com

Submissions should be 600 to 800 words long. You are welcome to submit photos as well; please make sure to include caption information for them, as well as some details about yourself (for example, where you live and what you do), and your daytime contact information.

We will choose the best submissions for publication along with stories from our own writers.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"How to make yourself write" workshop, Saturday, November 26, Kitchener

"How to Make Yourself Write"
~ A creativity workout ~
Saturday, November 26, 2011
10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Forest Heights Library, 251 Fischer-Hallman Road, Kitchener, Ontario (Map here.)

Let's get motivated! This workshop is designed to help you find the time and the inspiration to write. No more staring at a blank screen. Come to this workshop and give yourself a kick-start, and then learn how to keep going. This creativity workout will get your words flowing and help you make the breakthrough into the next level of writing.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book 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 a spot now, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca  

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Guest, or How I tempted my husband with the charms of another," a true story by Patricia Howard

“No.”

“No? Isn’t that a little harsh?”

“No, it isn’t. I don’t want to get into it. It will probably be very disruptive and I just don’t want to get involved or have that commitment.”

How to persuade a stubborn man? I wondered. Would there be no changing his mind? What if I reasoned with him a little more? Would that help to soften his attitude, or would it make him more stubborn and resistant to my suggestion? It was a chance that I had to take. Time was of the essence.

“Are you sure? It would be very much appreciated, you know,” I reasoned, hopefully with a persuasive tone in my voice.

“Definitely not. I just don’t think it is a good idea, that’s all.”

This wasn’t going at all well. I’d have to try another tack. Perhaps a little more on the offensive?

“I don’t know what your problem is. I don’t think it would be a problem at all. It is offering a kindness to a stranger who will really appreciate it. Don’t you think that you would appreciate such a consideration if you were in her position?”

“But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? I am not in her position,” he went on, “and she is a complete stranger coming into this house. You don’t know her and I don’t know her. It could be a disaster.”

“But we have the room to spare. The bedroom isn’t being used at the moment, it’s just sitting there, empty,” I countered. She just needs a little time to recouperate from her surgery. It won’t be for very long. Ten days, max. How disruptive can that be? I’m sure she will stay in her room and not bother us at all. How can you say no to that?” I implored.

“Easily. No. That’s my final answer,” he said, and resumed reading the newspaper.

Oh boy. I’d already half-promised the hospital that this would be a done deal, and here I was, bickering with Richard over it. I really couldn’t see the problem. Although I didn’t know this individual – we will call her Miss A to avoid embarrassment – I knew that her need was great. She was a homeless young lady and just needed a place to rest and recover following major surgery. That surgery had saved her life. When asked, how could I not offer to lend a hand when she most needed it? I had to try again to persuade my stubborn husband that he should reconsider.

“Is it because she is homeless? Is that the problem? There but for the grace of whatever, we could any of us be in that situation one day. Would you then not be very glad of someone lending you a helping hand?”

“Maybe. But I am not living in a gutter,” Richard reasoned, “and I don’t want someone in our home who is going to perhaps be disruptive and antisocial. It isn’t fair to expect that of me. I have not had enough time to think this through, and my first reaction is to say no. Please, just leave it for now, will you?” Once again, his head turned to the newspaper.

So – there was a glimmer of hope after all! Perhaps I am just rushing him too much, when a little time to think and reflect is all he needs. Maybe I should just back off for an hour or so, say nothing for awhile. However, I had to give an answer to the hospital soon, because Miss A was being discharged later today. She needed to have somewhere to go to; she could not go back on to the street. Oh, how can men be so damned stubborn! I just didn’t have the luxury of time, to let Richard ponder for too long.

“OK,” I demurred. “But I have to give an answer by lunch time today. I had said that I would collect Miss A from the hospital, so if you won’t let me do that I will have to let them know. I don’t know what she will do if she can’t come here. All the other places that would normally be able to offer her somewhere to stay are full.”

Richard seemed exasperated. “Why do you persist in giving me ultimatums? You’ve already made your mind up, so why even bother to ask me? Don’t you think this is all just a little bit unfair?” he complained.

Unfair! Unfair is having surgery and finding yourself with nowhere to go. No refuge from a life of uncertainty. An unpredictable future! That’s what was so unfair about all this! But maybe Richard had a point. Maybe I wasn’t giving him any ‘wriggle room’, presenting this whole house guest thing as a fait accompli with no opportunity to decide for himself. It was a done deal – wasn’t it?

“I’ll look after her,” I said. “You won’t have to do anything. It won’t interfere with anybody else. I’ll make sure the door to the bedroom remains closed so that she can rest. I’ll take care of her dressings and her medications. You won’t need to worry about any of that stuff.”

“You are kidding, aren’t you?” Richard replied, clearly exasperated. “How can you say that? The very fact that she is in this house makes it my responsibility, too, doesn’t it?”

“You won’t regret it, I promise.”

“I already do”, he replied, with a hint of a smile – or was that resignation?

And so, dear friends, that is how my significant other fell in love with her. It was all my fault for putting Temptation in his path. He simply couldn’t resist her charms. On that hot August day nearly four years ago our final feline joined our happy family of cats and two dogs and three tanks of tropical fish.

Miss Twinkle, as she is now known, because of her “I’m so cute” face with twinkling eyes, came to our home to recover from her surgery, and never left. She waltzed into our hearts and into our lives, her dainty ways and beautiful green eyes were more than we could resist.

Miss Twinkle made a full recovery, but I am not sure that we ever will. We have, however, sworn off ever fostering another sick animal – the consequences are too great!


Patricia Howard has been writing short stories based largely on her life's many mishaps and mis-steps along the way. She has been encouraged to commit these sometimes humourous misadventures to paper, often to the chagrin of Richard, her long-suffering husband. Patricia gave a reading of this story on June 23, 2011, at CJ's Cafe in Bronte. Our next reading night will be Sept 13, and we're looking for readers. If you're interested, see details here.

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

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leap Local’s 2011 Travel Story Competition ~ free contest

Deadline: midnight August 31st in your time zone

If you have a travel story involving local people, or a tale of mishaps because you didn't use a local expert - whether the story be hilarious, exciting, gorgeous or terrifying - you are invited to enter this competition. Your submission will be judged by authors, travel writers, journalists, and other industry professionals. First prize is 500 USD and there are two $150 runner-up prizes.

The three winning stories will also be published in the Leap Local Newsletter which is sent to travellers around the world, and will be displayed on the website. The top ten stories will all be published on the Leap Local website Should the quality of stories be as high as it was in 2010. The top 25 stories will be featured in Monday Escape.

All competitors must post a recommendation or rating (http://www.leaplocal.org/recommend.html) about a local guide or service on the Leap Local website. Provide the name of the local you have reviewed and link to your review when you submit your story.

Please note your website recommendation or review of the local on the Leap Local website does not have to be connected to the experience that you are writing about for the travel writing competition. Some writers might be writing about a travel incident from years ago and thus do not have up to date information about guides or services in the location of their story. We encourage you then to review a guide or service from your own back yard – something that tourist visiting your home locale might find of interest.

While the reviews are not judged, the quality of review will be taken into consideration. The local that you recommend/rate will automatically be entered into the other competition, the guides and services competition, so your recommendation matters to them.

Complete contest rules here. Read the 2010 winning entry here.

To keep up to date with all the annual writing contests in Canada, get the 2011 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar – now just $13 including tax and shipping (or $10 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, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Peterborough, Kingston, Orangeville, Barrie, Sudbury, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond

Sunday, July 17, 2011

“The Storm” by Joan Alderman

Encroaching,
green tinged
smells of anticipation.

Black and white
jagged spasms.

Screeching winds.

Biting rains.

Rapidly abating.

Life resumes,
in its exhausted wake.
*
Joan Alderman is a resident of Georgetown, Ontario, and an avid storm watcher.
 
See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Peterborough, Kingston, Orangeville, Barrie, Sudbury, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"Cherry Beach Express" by R.D. Cain, reviewed by Charlene Jones

ECW Press, Toronto, Hardback 240 pages $24.95 / PDF or ebook $9.95

If you like your villains corrupt and corrosive, replete with greed and unremitting ambition, action tumbling through scenes like a continual car chase spilling off a movie screen, smart, sassy and independent female characters, and male heroes both tough and tender, read this book.

Cain’s novel Cherry Beach Express explodes with masculine energy, providing the kind of satisfaction from page one that makes you return to the story with happy anticipation.

Cain’s theme hits the heart, but rather than capitalize directly on a reader’s natural thrum of disgust, he treats pedophilia, but not pedophiles, with respect, rendering what might have been a cheap shot into underlying motivation for his protagonists dilemma. In doing so, he offers readers the advance satisfaction of knowing his fictional perp has already met a horrible end, even if that death tosses the life of Nastos, our hero, into chaos. Thus the story circles around Detective Nastos and how he will undo the injustice served upon him.

Cain clearly sends up some male characters as losers by putting in their mouths the kind of sexism that rings like old commercials: empty, stupid and irritating. With another writer, this might come off flat but with Cain, the language of sexism serves to profile these men with small, sloping foreheads and slouching shoulders: Neanderthals. The image offered by these men satisfies the feminist in a reader, but avoids resolving into caricature through the very dangerous power these characters wield in the story.

For example, Cain demonstrates the narcissistic, psychopathic thrill his character North gets as he anticipates the kind of power violent, forced sex will yield to him. Cain’s protagonist Nastos, on the other hand reveals the qualities of a true man: protective, tender, and as tough as men get.

It is to Cain’s credit that none of the scenes in the book resolve in gratuitous violence, but careen just closely enough to provide an edge.

Finally, Cain includes strong, smart female characters, whose contribution anchors the story’s action and who meet danger with intelligence. These are women you’d like to know.

The ending of this inclusive “who dun it" surprises, as it should. But what surprises and delights all the way through the novel is the humor. Cain’s ability with irony, his sense of the off-kilter humor that emerges under the sort of extreme tension his characters encounter, their smart-mouthing retorts in less intense moments, affords the reader continual pleasure in reading their unexpected, but totally believable language.

If you enjoy crime novels, this is a must for your summer reading.

Purchase Cherry Beach Express here. Information about submitting to ECW here. Quick Brown Fox welcomes book reviews and other book-related articles. Guidelines here.

Charlene Jones has been a practicing psychotherapist and meditation teacher for thirteen years. In addition, Charlene writes for the Musselman’s Lake Residents Association website (here), is the Musselman Lake Correspondent for the Stouffville Free Press, and is at work on her first novel. She has two books of poetry to her credit, as well as several individual poems published in many North American magazines.

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, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Peterborough, Kingston, Orangeville, Barrie, Sudbury, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Love Letters

Hi again, Brian.
Just found out my new book, The Meaning of Children, is a “Hot New Book” at one of my local libraries, the Eleanor London Cote St. Luc Public Library, and learned that 6 people were waiting to read it very exciting!

And I wanted to share some great news I received last weekend: the Professional Writers Association of Canada, a national non profit representing over 650 magazine, newspaper, and corporate writers and freelancers, met in Montreal June 17 19th. Saturday night was our Gala Dinner and Awards night and I won PWAC’s Short Articles Award for "Woman's murder exposes need to raise age for gun ownership," which appeared in the April 20, 2010 edition of The Toronto Star (here).

I was also an honourable mention for the Features Award for my essay “Six Pixels of Separation,” published in Grain magazine. Melissa Martin won in this category with “La lang di Michif Ta-pashipiikan,” which appeared in the September 25, 2010 edition of The Winnipeg Free Press.

I’m still looking for an agent or publisher to help me get the book into the US I’m scouring your listings!
Hope you’re doing well,

Beverly Akerman
http://beverlyakermanmscwriter.blogspot.com/

Congratulations, Beverly!

Brian:
I attended your Summer 2010 workshop in Sudbury, "Writing and Revising," and learned a great deal. Since that time I've been doing a lot of both writing and revising.

I'm happy to report my first professional sale. Highgrader Magazine bought my cozy mystery story "Drawn Towards the Light."

Thanks for the great workshop. Look forward to your upcoming Sudbury visit.
Matthew Del Papa

I'll be in Sudbury on Sunday, October 23, to lead my "How to Get Published" workshop. Details here.

See my full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Peterborough, Kingston, Orangeville, Barrie, Sudbury, Gravenhurst, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

You’re invited to a book launch for “Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang” by Sheila Gale

Brian,
I am delighted to announce the launch of my first book, Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang. A mystery caper, the book features two wacky senior citizens who are total opposites. The one thing they have in common is getting into trouble with the law. It’s a perfect summer read.

The launch will be held...
Tuesday, July 26, between 1 and 4 p.m.
Chapters, Oakville Town Centre
310 North Service Road, Oakville (Map here.)
(Tel. No. 905-815-8197)

There’s plenty of parking space. An array of finger foods will be served, along with coffee and cold drinks.

So that we have enough books and plenty of refreshments on hand, could you please RSVP no later than July 19. Should you be unable to make the launch, let us know if you’d like us to reserve a copy for you.

We look forward to seeing old friends and new on July 26.

Sheila and Ted Gale
sheilatedgale@aol.com

Read a review of Dottie Flowers & the Skinner Gang here.

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

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Writing your life & other true stories" workshop, Sat, Nov 19, in Kingston

Writing your life & other true stories
Saturday, November 19, 2011
1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Lions Club, 935 Sydenham Road, Kingston. (Map here.)

Have you ever considered writing your memoirs or family history? This workshop will introduce you to the tricks and conventions of telling true stories and will show you how to use the techniques of the novel to recount actual events. Whether you want to write for your family or for a wider public, don't miss this workshop.

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 workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Moncton. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.

Fee: $32.74 + 13% hst = $37 paid in advance
or $35.40 + 13% hst = $40 if you wait to pay at the door.

To reserve your spot, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Groundwood Books seeks novel-length fiction for children

Groundwood Books
110 Spadina Avenue, Suite 801
Toronto, ON M5V 2K4
Canada
http://www.groundwoodbooks.com/

Groundwood Books, established in 1978, is dedicated to the production of children's books for all ages, including fiction, picture books and non-fiction. We publish in Canada, the United States and Latin America.

We are always looking for new authors of novel-length fiction for children in all age areas. Our mandate is to publish high-quality, character-driven literary fiction. We do not generally publish stories with an obvious moral or message or genre fiction such as thrillers or mysteries. We do not publish high-interest/low-vocabulary fiction or stories with anthropomorphic animals or elves/fairies as their main characters.

Due to the enormous number of submissions we receive, Groundwood Books regrets we can no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts for picture books.

Full submission guidelines here.


Brian Henry will lead "Writing for Children and for Young Adults" workshops in in London, Ontario, on April 21, 2012, (see here) and in Oakville on June 2, 2012 (see here).

Also, Brian will lead "How to Get Published" workshops on Saturday, May 21, 2012, in Newmarket with Meghan Macdonald of Transatlantic Literary Agency (see here), Saturday, June 9, 2012, in Brampton with Monica Pacheco of The Anne McDermid literary agency (see here), and Saturday, June 16, 2012, in Hamilton with Carly Watters of P.S. Literary Agency (see here).

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

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dottie Flowers & the Skinner Gang by Sheila Gale, reviewed by Sherry Isaac

Multi-Media Publications, paperback, 228 pages, $19.95 / ebook $12.95

Vincenzo the smooth-talking Italian, Enrique the swash-buckling Spaniard, Harley the gleaming Davidson. When Dottie Flowers, winner of a casino jackpot and witness to murder, runs afoul of the notorious Skinner Gang, all three come to her rescue.

Only one is who he seems.

In the quiet of country horse stables, the wineries along Niagara’s peninsula, the shaded streets of Oakville or the luxury condos of Toronto. Who can tell where Dottie, a flower child of the sixties now in her sixties, and her speed-loving, white water-rafting friend Mabel Stattergood, will dig up trouble next?

Zip up your leather jacket and strap on your helmet. Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang is a light-hearted caper with an endless list of shady suspects. Even Dottie is unsure who to trust, including the police.

Kidnapping, jewelry heists, forgery, fast cars, mistaken identity, snoopy neighbours, jealous wives, poisoned cats, murder and a lovesick Englishman. Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang has it all in one easy, fun-filled read that will breeze you through any summer weekend.

Dottie Flowers and the Skinner Gang is available for sale here. Or come to the book launch, Tuesday, July 26, between 1 and 4 p.m. at the Chapters in the Oakville Town Centre and buy a signed copy from the author. More here.

Sherry Isaac has published several pieces in Quick Brown Fox. You can read one of her short stories here and other book reviews by Sherry here, here, here, and here. She’s also been published in The New Mystery Reader and in Canadian Voices, Volume One. Her short story, “The Forgetting,” placed first in the Alice Munro Contest in 2009. Her first short story collection, Storyteller, will be released this summer. Visit Sherry's website here.

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

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