Friday, June 30, 2017

“Canada – True Citadel of Multicultural Ethos and Values” by Shankar Swaminathan

This is a particularly pleasant morning.  Just the four of us in the tennis court while the world still seems to be in deep slumber. My usual early morning Canadian pals assemble at the Erin mills lawn tennis court as we have been doing religiously with great fervor for the past five years.

The same faces, same place and the same game. We have all been so closely acquainted during this period and known each other so well that there is nothing more to discover about each other. Or so it seems.  But still strangely the excitement of gathering at the same spot week end after week end doesn’t seem to wear off or wane.

The fact that we are four different personalities from four wildly varying cultural backgrounds – Ukrainian, Chinese and Egyptian and, myself, South Asian – doesn’t bother any of us or make us feel uncomfortable with one another. In fact I find it exciting and spiritually uplifting to interact with others who look different from myself. At times, I wonder if I do not have a better vibe with these associates and feel closer to them than even my own family members.  Never mind our variations in facial features, color, religion, cultural beliefs and practices, race or even the way English is spoken etc.

As one who has had a peep into the world of psychology, I can say that psychological truths and factors governing human relations apply equally to everyone without exception, whatever culture or whichever region of the world one belongs to. The only requirement to be able to appreciate this is a willingness to see and understand things different from one’s own with an open mind.

On a lighter note, the numerous different ways the supposedly same language is spoken makes me wonder sometimes if all of us are speaking English at all. I am not saying this out of any prejudice; it’s just a statement borne out by reality - one that I find exciting and enjoyable. 

Sometimes, of course, it takes quite an effort to decipher what someone is saying, even if the ideas are quite straightforward, and for sure, I realize that I stand on the same footing myself. I am very conscious that one’s native tongue influences one’s accent and pronunciations while speaking another language. But after all, language is only a means to convey ideas, and if that purpose is served reasonably well, why bother about other insignificant variables; accents in particular?

Catching up again on my tennis club culture, let me say this: If a non-Canadian wants to understand the multicultural character of Canada, all he or she needs to do is visit our tennis club on any given summer evening when the majority of members congregate for a game of tennis, friendly chatter and banter. A representation of the multicultural ethos and unique values of Canada can be seen being practiced in our tennis court, with fraternal feelings running strong. Members stretch themselves to be appreciative of the culture of people different from their own without being condescending. Of course, they are all bound by the common thread of love for tennis and, even better, proud of their common identity as Canadian.

I think the best way to explain anything is through one’s own first hand experiences. So speaking a little about my own story and experiences after I migrated to Canada from India about a decade back would be in order. No change is absolutely easy to manage. The more drastic the change, the harder it is to face up to it with equanimity. So when someone tries to uproot the whole of his being and that of his close family members from one’s culture to something vastly different, it is bound to cause a flurry of disturbing emotions and psychological responses in ever many different ways.

This is so in spite of the best preparation. Fear of the unknown causes tremendous anxiety and, to be sure, is only one of the many factors causing great stress and perhaps distress at times.

I still remember the day when I first placed my foot on Toronto soil at Lester Pearson along with my wife and young son on the 1st August 2006, lugging ten big suitcases, and not a soul waiting expectantly for us at the airport. I knew no one in Toronto. The money we had on hand was substantial by Indian standards but hardly enough to survive for long in Canada. The fact that the responsibility was all mine and mine alone for the well-being of, not just myself, but my family members as well weighed heavily on me. Fortunately I did have a small dingy basement apartment in a far corner of the city rented y prior arrangement through the internet.

Now for someone like me who was very well settled professionally and personally and well provided for financially in my native land, choosing to migrate for reasons that may appear questionable or unwise to some, you would expect the initial experience to be really nerve-wracking. But let me assure you that it was far from being unpleasant. Canada, the country of immigrants, seemed to know all about my predicament and the struggle every new immigrant wages to settle down and find his or her feet.

I found Canada and whoever I had to interact with welcoming from the word go. Completing the initial formalities of getting a SIN card, opening of bank accounts, attending acclimatization training programs, attending job fairs, presenting myself for interviews, etc. – wherever I went or whatever I did, I realized that as long as I remained earnest in whatever I wanted to accomplish and strove sincerely, the society and system here would take care of the rest.

Certain environments encourage creativity and others discourage creativity. The Canadian environment, without a doubt, is one which reaches out to encourage creativity and enables newcomers to slide smoothly into the community and to identify with the larger society.

Lastly, I must say this: While every country on this planet may be able to claim with justification and pride that it is better than others on some count or the other, for me no nation comes even close to Canada on a variety of parameters, particularly on the inclusive nature of the society; the multicultural ethos and values; the egalitarian and sophisticated culture; in welcoming immigrants, refugees and the displaced from all parts of the world; and in much more – Canada is indeed in a league of its own

Shankar Swaminathan immigrated to Canada from India in August 2006 along with his wife and younger son. Besides being a HR and Training Consultant in India, Shankar was a freelance writer for over a couple of decades and a regular contributor to various national dailies in India. He also edited and regularly wrote for a monthly journal by name, Nandini Voice for the Deprived run by the nonprofit organization he was closely associated with. Presently Shankar is active as a freelance counselor and writer and has his Counseling website  

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Six literary agents who represent short story collections (and many other things: literary and commercial fiction, MG and YA fiction, narrative nonfiction, memoir, etc )

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the box to the right under my bio, and get each post delivered to your Inbox. ~ Brian

It’s difficult finding agents who represent short story collections, because there’s not much money in short stories. But I’ve uncovered half a dozen agents who are seeking short stories and who are currently accepting submissions:

Chad Luibl of Janklow and Nesbit. This is a large firm with many well-known authors. Chad Luibl is an assistant there, very low on the totem pole. But that’s okay; it means he needs clients. 
He says: “I tend to lean more toward darker tales and gritty settings, culture-crossing perspectives, structures that are a bit experimental (see David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas), and always narratives with a strong emotional core. Having lived in Poland and Hungary, I have a niche-interest in books that feel Eastern European in voice/perspective (or explore post-Soviet and Cold War themes), and I find anything that deals with exile and expatriation immediately arresting.”
Specifically, he’s seeking : Commercial and literary fiction, horror, fantasy and, science fiction, crime fiction, mysteries, thrillers, LGBTQ, and military fiction. plus middle grade and young adult fiction. His favourite sub-genres: magical realism, military, southern literary, speculative fiction, and westerns.
In nonfiction, he’s looking for humor, LGBTQ, memoir, pop culture, sports, travel and true crime.
Query Chad at:
Include the word “Query” in the subject line. Send your query letter, a synopsis and the first fifty pages of your manuscript attached as a word document. 

Katie Grimm of Don Congdon Associates: This is a prominent well-established agency that’s been around since 1938. They represented Ray Bradbury (author of Farenheit 451 among other well-known science fiction books) and currently represent such well-known authors as David Sedaris (Theft by Finding) and Kathryn Stocket (The Help)
Katie joined Don Congdo Assoiciates in 2007. She represents literary fiction (be it voicey, historical, speculative, or mysterious), up-market women’s fiction, cohesive short story collections, and graphic novels.
The key is “cohesive” collections of stories – there needs to be something strong holding them together.
Katie says: “Most generally, I focus on adult literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, middle grade, and young adult fiction.  Across all genres and ages, I’ll always be interested in the darker and weirder side of the human condition as well as previously under- or misrepresented experiences and voices.”
Query Katie at:
Include the word “Query” and the agent’s full name in your subject heading. As always in a query, include a short description of your work and your relevant background information and must all fit easily on one page. Also paste the first story of your collection into the email. No attachments.
Full submission guidelines here.

Christopher Rhodes has been involved in the publishing business and agenting for years, but only recently joined The Stuart Agency. Prior to that, he was an agent at The James Fitzgerald Agency. Previous to that, he worked at The Carol Mann Agency and in the sales and marketing departments at Simon and Schuster.
Christopher specializes in literary fiction and nonfiction. He’s actively seeking queries in the following areas: literary fiction (including thriller and horror); connected stories/essays (humorous and serious); memoir; creative/narrative nonfiction; history; religion; pop culture; and art & design. 
“What would I dearly like to see right now?” says Christopher. “Horror. I really want to read and advocate for a smart and literary horror novel. I don’t get many submissions in this area.” 
You can read an interview with Christopher here.
Query Christopher at:
For fiction, include the first 50 pages; for nonfiction, include a proposal. A Word document or a PDF is fine.

Waverly Place Literary Agency. This is a one-woman outfit for literary agent Debbie Carter, Who doesn’t seem to have many (or perhaps any) sales. She’s seeking short story and poetry collections with popular appeal.
Update: Debbie has written me a note to correct this posting: 
Brian Henry -- I wish you had called me before posting your article. I sold the award-winning children's story collection The Adventures of Molly Whuppie & Other Appalachian Folktales by Anne Shelby. {To University of North Carolina Press; see here.} As a result of my promotion efforts, the collection won an Aesop Award from the American Folklore Society and a state reading award--the Delaware Diamond from students in grades 3-5. The book was also published in China. 
I wish I had a long list of sales, but I have very specific tastes which you'll find on my website under "Areas of Interest." I'm look for quality short fiction for adults and children (excluding short short fiction and short genre fiction) that will sell. I don't want junk, but that doesn't mean junk can't get published. 
Query Debbie at:

Sarah Yake has been with Frances Collin Literary Agency since 2005 and handles foreign and subrights in addition to her own client list.
“A quirky, interesting voice is my number one consideration,” says Sarah. “I love a touch of humor, whether overt or sly. My reading tastes are wide-ranging and my goal is to keep building a similarly diverse, multi-genre list.”
Specifically, in fiction, she’s looking for action/adventure, commercial, fantasy, general fiction, historical, literary, science fiction, women’s fiction and short story collections.
She also seeks middle grade and young adult fiction.
In nonfiction, she’s looking for biography, history, LGBTQ, memoir, and pop culture.
See more at Manuscript Wish List here and at Publishers Marketplace here.
Query Sarah at:
Paste the first five pages of your manuscript into the email. No attachments.
Full submission guidelines here.

Renée Zuckerbrot founded the Renée Zuckerbrot Literary Agency after working as an editor at Doubleday and Franklin Square Press/Harper’s Magazine. She is a member of the AAR and Authors Guild. She serves on PEN’s Membership Committee, and is a Board member of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) and Slice Magazine. You can read an interview with Renée and her colleagues at Poets & Writers. See her top ten list of short stories at Storyville.
Authors represented by Renée have won or been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, the PEN Jacqueline Bograd Weld Prize for Biography, the National Magazine Award, the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, B&N’s Discover Great New Writers Award, the Story Prize, the PEN/O. Henry Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, the Locus, the Hugo, the Nebula, the Pushcart, and others.
Renée’s own boutique agency, seems to be part of Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agency, which means she has the backing of a much larger agency.
Renée is seeking literary and commercial adult fiction and narrative nonfiction, with a particular focus on science, history, and popular culture.
Query Renée at:
Include a synopsis of your project, your publication history (if any), a brief bio, and your contact information. Please also attach an excerpt, up to three sample chapters (or three short stories), as one Word document. The attachment should be paginated and double-spaced.

Bringing Up Beauty by Sylvia McNicoll,
one of the guest speakers for
the Writing Kid Lit class
Brian Henry will lead “You can write great dialogue," workshops on Saturday, July 15, in Mississauga (see here) and Saturday, July 22, in London (see here).

And there are three weekly creative writing courses, introductory to advanced, starting soon:
Exploring Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, July 4 – August 22, in Burlington. See here.
Next Step in Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings, July 5 – August 23, in Burlington. See here.
Intensive Creative WritingWednesday afternoons, July 5 – August 23, in Burlington. See here.
      Details of all three courses  here.  

Brian Henry will lead a Writing for Children & for Young Adult workshop on Saturday, August 12, in Collingwood with literary agent Monica Pacheco (see here). 
In the fall, Brian will lead a weekly Writing Kid Lit class, Thursday mornings, Oct 5 – Nov 30, in Oakville, with guest authors Sylvia McNicoll and Jennifer Mook-Sang (see here).
Note: For updated listings of Writing for Children & for Young adult workshops and for weekly Kid lit classes, see here (and scroll down).

Join us for a Fall Colours Writing Retreat, at Arowhon Pines Resort in Algonquin Park, Friday, Sept 15 – Sunday, Sept 17 (see here).

Also, in the fall, Brian will lead a full range of courses, including (for the first time) a creative writing course in Toronto:
Speechless by Jennifer Mook-Sang,
one of the guest speakers for
the Writing Kid Lit class
Intensive Creative Writing, Monday mornings, Sept 25 – Dec 4, in Toronto. See here.
Next Step in Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons Sept 19 – Nov 21, in Burlington.
Extreme Creative Writing, Wednesday afternoons,Sept 20 – Dec 6, in Burlington
Writing Personal Stories, Wednesday evenings, Sept 27 – Nov 15, in Burlington. See here.
Writing Kid Lit, Thursday mornings, Oct 5 – Nov 30, in Oakville, with guest authors Sylvia McNicoll and Jennifer Mook-Sang. See here.
Welcome to Creative Writing, Thursday afternoons, Sept 28 – Nov 30, in Burlington
Intensive Creative Writing, Thursday evenings, Sept 28 – Nov 30 in Georgetown. See here.

For more information or to reserve a spot in any workshop, retreat, or weekly course, email
Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops here.
See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Navigation tips: Always check out the labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. Also, if you're searching for a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Four paying markets for short stories, poetry, creative nonfiction and reviews

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the box to the right under my bio and get each post delivered to your Inbox. Also, if you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale, to: ~ Brian

Crannóg is Ireland’s premiere fiction and poetry magazine. Cronnog’s mission is to publish the work of Irish writers alongside the best available worldwide. Pays: €50 per story, €30 per poem. 
Deadline: Submissions open July 1, close July 31, 2017.  Submission guidelines here.

Pantheon magazine publishes fiction and poetry inspired by the gods and goddesses. Pays 1 cent/word for fiction, $5 for poetry.
For the fall, they’re seeking pieces prompted by Tethys, Titaness of fresh water: Tethys is the Titan daughter of the sky and the earth, guardian of fresh water, mother of the river gods and sea nymphs.
“Tell us stories about rivers and inland seas, about water caverns–and those who protect them. Tell us about what happens to those who trespass against Tethys. We want to read about the delicate creatures blooming in rain puddles and about the dark awareness at the bottom of cenotes.
“Pantheon Magazine is interested in fresh, creative, and powerful fiction that grips us and doesn’t let us go. We like it quick and concise, dammit. Longer work is also considered, but brevity is appreciated. We have short attention spans. Please include a note as to how your story is inspired or relates to the theme/prompt you are submitting to. If you do not do this, we cannot guarantee your story will be read. A single sentence is sufficient.”
For poetry, Pantheon is “fond of form and very partial to poems that end in fireworks – literal, figurative this is open to interpretation. We want poems that dazzle, that leave us breathless, that explode with meaning and beauty.
“We’re primarily a fiction magazine, but as we are also music and movie lovers, we always welcome music, movie, and book reviews, so long as the music/movie/book you are reviewing is relatively new. Preferably within the past month or two. We’re a little more lenient with music and book reviews, as there’s so much good stuff out there that’s overlooked. Please follow the same formatting guidelines (more or less) as fiction submissions. Please keep reviews under 1000 words.
“Would you like to be our featured cover artist for one of our issues? Email a sample of you work to:
“We’ll get back in touch.
“Every so often, we will do interviews with authors/musicians who we like. Feel free to email us if you are working on a project that you would like to chat with us about.
Deadline: July 31, 2017. Submission guidelines here.

Barking Sycamores is a literary journal entirely edited and operated by queer, neurodivergent people of color. Publishes Poetry, short fiction, hybrid genre, creative nonfiction, book reviews, and artwork submissions. They also welcome and publish essays about neurodivergence and the creation of literature. Payment not specified. 
Deadline: July 31, 2017. Submission guidelines here.

Room Family Secrets issue. All families have secrets. Rooted in guilt and shame, and passed on through the generations, these secrets can have unexpected reverberations in the present. We're seeking your best poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. and
visual art that explores and exposes the dark and tangled secrets that haunt and shape family narratives. Room publishes original work by women, including trans persons, gender-variant and two-spirit women, and women of non-binary sexual orientations. Men not welcome.
Pays: $50 CAD for one page, $60 for two pages, $90 for three pages, $120 for four pages, $150 for five or more pages. 
Deadline: July 31, 2017. Submission guidelines here.

See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Secrets of Writing a Page-turner, Saturday, Oct 28, in Caledon at the Bolton Library

Secrets of Writing a Page-turner
~ Techniques for making any story more compelling ~
Saturday, Oct 28, 2017
10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Albion-Bolton Branch, Caledon Public Library, 150 Queen Street South, Bolton, Ontario (Map here.)

Ever stayed up all night reading a book? In this workshop, you’ll learn you how to build that kind of tension.  And we'll help you put into practice the techniques professionals use – on every page and in every kind of story – to create drama and tension.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.

Fee:  43.36 + 13% hst =49 + $6 for pizza lunch = $55 paid in advance by mail or in person 
or 46.90 + 13% hst = 53 + $6 for pizza lunch = $59 if you wait to pay at the door

To pay in advance, make your cheque out to the Caledon Public Library and mail it to:
Attention:  Laura Nolloth, Caledon Public Library, Albion Bolton Branch, 150 Queen Street South, Bolton, ON, L7E 1E3
Or you can pay in advance in person at any Caledon Library branch. (Branch locations here.)
To reserve a spot now, email:

See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.