Sunday, November 17, 2019

You're invited to 2 author readings: Sunday, Nov 24, in Toronto, and Saturday, Dec 7, in Oakville


Author Readings
Sunday, November 24, 2019 
12 noon – 4 p.m.
The Wallace Gastropub, 1954 Yonge St, Toronto (Just north of Davisville. Map here.)
And
Saturday, December 7,  2019 
1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Adonis Mediterranean Cuisine, 487 Pinegrove Road, Oakville, Ontario (Map here).
At these readings, graduates of Brian Henry's writing classes get to strut their stuff. Come hear some of the most amazing emerging writers in the Toronto area reading some of the best work you’ll hear this year. This will be a fun get-together and everyone’s invited. Don’t miss it!
And if you want to read from your own work, email me, and I’ll let you know if there’s still room on the roster. (But you must arrange to read in advance; you can’t just show up on the day and hope to read.)
On Nov 24 at the Wallace Pub in Toronto, we'll begin arriving around 12 noon. We're taking over their upstairs room. Arrive for lunch by 12:15, or if you’re just having a drink or coffee and a snack, please arrive by 12:45.The actual readings will start at about 1:30 and we’ll go to about 3:30 / 3:45 p.m. 
On Dec 7, at the Adonis restaurant in Oakville, plan to arrive at 1 p.m. for lunch (or a little earlier if you want to beat the rush), or if you’re just having a drink or coffee and a snack, please arrive by 1:45. The actual readings will start at about 2:15 and we’ll go to 4:30 p.m. 
Note: Because we’re monopolizing their space, you can’t order just a coffee at either venue (or they might not want us back).
If possible, RSVP as soon as possible and let me know you’re coming: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
I look forward to seeing you all there! ~Brian

This winter, there's a whole new round of classes from Introductory to Intensive: 
Burlington: Exploring Creative Writing, Thursday afternoons, Jan 23 – March 19. Details here.
Oakville: Writing Personal Stories, Thursday evenings, Jan 23 – March 19. Details here.
Burlington: Next Step in Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, Jan 21 – March 31.
  1st reading emailed Jan 16. Details here.
Burlington: Intensive Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings , Jan 15 – March 11. 1st readings emailed Jan 8. Details here.
Toronto: Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings, Jan 17 – March 13.  1st readings emailed Jan 10. Detail here.
    See details of all winter courses here,
To reserve a spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Workshops soon: How to Get Published with literary agent Stephanie Winter; Writing Conflict; and Secrets of Writing a Page-turner

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop
represented by P.S. Literary
How to Get Published
An editor & a literary agent tell all
Saturday, November 23, 2019
10:00 a.m. – 3:45 / 4:30 p.m.
(Open at 9:30 a.m. for registration & coffee)
Niagara on the Lake Public Library, 10 Anderson Lane, NOTL, Ontario (Map
 here.) 
If you've ever dreamed of becoming a published author, this workshop is for you. Book editor Brian Henry and literary agent Stephanie Winter will explain how to approach an agent or publisher to give your book the best possible chance. We will go deep into how to write a query letter that will get you a yes. Bring your questions. Come and get ready to be published!
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, three copies could be helpful.
And be sure to bring your elevator pitch! Following the end of the formal workshop at about 3:45, Brian Henry will be staying to help interested attendees, rewrite their query letters, while literary agent Stephanie Winter will be listening to your pitches. Agents come to these events wanting to hear what you’ve got and hoping to find authors they want to represent.
Stephanie Winter is an Associate Agent at P.S. Literary. Established in 2005, P.S. is a growing Canadian agency with seven agents, representing fiction and nonfiction by debut and established authors. Stephanie first joined the agency as an intern before becoming P.S.'s Agency Relations Assistant. Stephanie holds a BA in English Lit from the University of Toronto and an MA in English: Issues in Modern Culture from University College London. 
Stephanie is acquiring both fiction and nonfiction. She particularly appreciates strong characters who bend stereotypes, genders and more. Within fiction, she’s actively seeking Upmarket, Commercial, Historical, and Women’s Fiction, and also urban and magical fantasies, cozy mysteries, dramatic comedies, light romances, and genre-bending narratives. Within nonfiction, she’s interested in Humour, Pop Culture, Pop Psychology, Memoir, cultural or event-base History, select Dessert Cookbooks, LGBTQ+ narratives, and essay collections.
Fee$49.56 + 13% hst = $55  in advance or $53.10 + 13% hst = $60 at the door
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca


Writing Conflict: Fight scenes, Dialogue scenes & Love scenes
Saturday, November 30, 2019
1 – 4 p.m.
London Central Library, Stevenson & Hunt Room B, 251 Dundas St, London, Ontario (Map here).
This workshop is geared to both beginners and more experienced writers. We'll look at how to create the most difficult scenes of all: the fight scene, the dialogue scene, and the love scene.  You’ll learn how to use great dialogue and how to mix it with your narrative so that the interaction between your characters comes alive, and you'll go home with some of the best tricks of the trade so that you'll never write a lifeless scene again.
Fee: $37.17 + hst = $42 paid in advance or $39.82 + hst = $45 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Secrets of Writing a Page-Turner
Sunday, December 1, 2019
10 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Includes lunch!)
Arrive at 9:30 to check in and for coffee and snacks
Sho – Art Spirit & Performance Centre, 628 Monmouth Road, Windsor, 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.
Fee: $65 in advance or $75 at the door (Registration includes lunch)
Reserve a spot now by emailing brianhenry@sympatico.ca
And mail a cheque to:
Windsor International Writers
c/o Sho
628 Monmouth Road, Windsor, ON  N8Y 3L1


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, he's led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown, and he's the author of a children's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors. 
See reviews of Brian's classes and workshops here.


See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor,  Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, November 15, 2019

A new book from contract from Harper Collins, a movie based on a personal essay hits the Toronto Film Festival – and much more to celebrate


Hi, Brian.
Hope all is well.
Great news – MIRA (HarperCollins) acquired another two of my books! Books 5 and 6 will most likely publish in 2021 and 2022, and are both psychological suspense.
Meanwhile, Her Secret Son (book 3, May 2019) became a Canadian bestseller, and we’re slowly gearing up for the release of Sister Dear (book 4), which will be in May 2020.
Exciting times indeed!
Hannah McKinnon
Oakville, Ontario
Note: Hannah’s books are available at bookstore everywhere and online here {including Sister Dear on pre-order}. 



Hi Brian,
Deb
I don't know if you remember that, during the Welcome to Creative Writing course in Oakville, you suggested I submit one of my essays to the Globe? I followed your advice and I heard back from them! My first published work. Thanks for the push :)
Deb Stock
You can read Deb’s First Person Essay, “Serenading Dad” in the Globe and Mail here, but you can also read it in Quick Brown Fox, with much better images here.
For information about submitting a First Person essay to the Globe and Mail (and to 21 other places), see here.
Note: This winter, I’ll be offering Introductory, Writing Personal Stories, Next Step, and Intensive creative writing courses. Check out the details here. ~Brian

Jill
Hi, Brian.
I’m pleased to tell you that Twelve House has decided to include my story “Sick Day” in an upcoming anthology titled Quirks. I’m not sure when it will be published (it could take a year or more) but wanted you to know since it’s a story you helped me with!  
By the way, Twelve House is looking for stories for several themed anthologies. They don’t pay but they don’t charge and copyright stays with the author. You might want to let your readers know about this opportunity. See here.
Best
Jill Malleck

Hello Brian,
I'm excited to announce that my short story “Gin and Vin's Last Ride” is in the Haunted anthology! The anthology is about vengeful female ghosts, and it’s available here.
I've taken your workshops in the past and they have been extremely helpful. Thank you for all the insight you've shared.
Take care,
Elesha Teskey
Note: Pen and Kink is continually looking for pieces for anthologies. For more information about submitting to them, see here.

Hi, Brian.
It's been a good month.
First the film made from my First Person essay in The Globe and Mail – Life Support – was featured at the Toronto International Film Festival. Thanks to Carousel Pictures for that exciting news!
Today I got the copy of Our Canada with another short story called “Holy Cow in the Kitchen.”
And I just heard from Our Canada that their February 2020 magazine will include my short story, “A Regal Encounter,” with a few of my Gray Owl pictures
If only I could find an agent for my YA novel, No Reception (insert laughing emoji because I don't know how to do it in Gmail).
Barbara Wackerle Baker
Note: At the writers retreat at the Briar’s Resort this November, we all watched Life Support, the short film that’s been made based on Barb’s first person piece in the Globe and Mail. It was fabulous! No wonder it’s making a splash at film festivals.
You can see the film yourself here {though unless you’re already a subscriber, its costs $1.99 for a week’s subscription to the Globe and Mail}.
For information about submitting a First Person essay to the Globe and Mail (and to 21 other places), see here.
For information about submitting to Our Canada, see here.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor,  Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

“The Toggle Switch” by Julie Shaw


“Gentlemen and young lady, start your engines!” the race announcer called out.

This is it, I thought.   What the fuck am I doing?

My stomach turned and my heart was racing. There was no turning back now. All the hype around tonight, all the work the guys had gone through to get me here.
All the work I had done to get here.

I was actually on the track. Lined up with 20 other cars, our front ends facing the track wall.  I looked up at the stands and there they all were, cheering and waving and jumping up and down!  My friends. The gang.

I was on the track instead of in the stands for a change. And boy was I ready to kick up some dirt!

I leaned my right hand down to turn the key.… Oh shit, I forgot, it’s the toggle switch!  I quickly flicked it up. Nothing. Again, up and down. Still nothing. Grrrrrr this stupid bloody…

Vrrrooooom.

Whew, ok there we are. Ahhhhh, I’m really going to do this!

I heard the announcer again, “And can we point out that tonight we have a lovely young lady in car #17.  She’s from Bolton and this is her first time in our Smash-Up Derby. Good luck Miss.”

A couple of months before, just after my 17th birthday, I’d casually mentioned to my sisters’ boyfriend that I wanted to join him the next time he went in a Derby. In retrospect, I never really thought he took me all that seriously. I was his girlfriends’ younger sister. 

But one day he showed up with not one but two cars from the wrecking yard. Mine was $50. Not bad.  Only problem was there were no keys. “But don’t worry, Jules, we’ll come up with something,” Dan said.

He had been in these Wreck ‘em races before and won. He was the typical type of guy we seemed to hang around all our lives. Talking cars, fixing cars, talking to my dad about cars. I felt left out. 

Let’s face it, I was bored to tears with the girls and what they always talked about, which was usually how the guys had done such and such to piss them off. Yawn. I just couldn’t stand it. Thank goodness I wasn’t one of the girlfriends. I didn’t want to be in that box – well, not really.

Problem was, I grew up in a garage. Not literally of course, but our garage holds a large portion of my memories.

I still think about the way it was carefully organized so we could find whatever tool my Dad asked us to get. I think about the smell of engine grease and the warmth of the furnace on a cold winter’s night heating the workshop. Always set to a temperature that welcomed you to stay for a while.

It was bigger than our house. Which wasn’t hard given our house was a three bedroom, 900-square foot bungalow. But the garage could house four vehicles and had a small workshop in one corner as well and an oil burning furnace in the other. It was home. At least a very significant part of our home I would come to realize more and more.

I grew up wanting so badly to make my dad proud of me, to the point of never really worrying what my mother thought. I was definitely not a girly girl. It just wasn’t in the cards. Not when your dad calls you “Ralph” and asks you to help him from the time you could hold a wrench in your tiny hand.

The garage was just a stone’s throw from the house, but at times I’m sure my mother felt it might as well have been 1,000 miles away. It was his mistress in many ways. Not just a hobby. But a long, passionate love affair.

Or maybe she didn’t mind as he was out of her hair and she had the house to herself.
Who knows? It worked for them.

It was part of my foundation. And even if I didn’t realize it at the time, it shaped a large part of the path I would take.

Anyway, that was how I found myself in this smash-up derby, cars all around me revving their engines.

Dan instructions had been simple: “Jules, make sure you don’t hit with your front end so the engine can keep going and you can stay in the race.”

Easy for him to say; he was driving an old station wagon with a good size rear end for just this purpose. My Oldsmobile was going to have to be good enough.

The flag went down. Here we go!

I backed out fast and tried to quickly get out of the path of those who had already made contact. I turned my head around and started reversing, aiming for no one in particular. I’d eventually have to hit someone. I built up speed, a lot of speed. How had not yet touched a single car?  Where did they all go?

And then it came.

That I had been able to go a fair distance meant I was at a good clip by the time I smashed into the car. Wham!  My neck whipped backwards; I could feel it tear in several places from my chin down to my chest. Yikes that was bad. And it’d only just begun.

I put the gear in drive and started to move forward, but someone had spotted me and was reversing at full speed into my front end. Wham again!  He put his car in forward and I switched to reverse. But we weren’t going anywhere. Our tires spun up dirt as we both swayed back and forth – a tug-of-war with tin.

Our bumpers were locked. We were stuck together like glue!  Shit. What now?

The next thing I knew there were hits on me from every angle. I felt it on my right side, then my rear end. You were never supposed to go for a driver side door – those were the rules – but I was now engulfed in a huge cloud of smoke. A driver couldn’t see where my door was or which side they were hitting. Dammit. Someone’s engine was overheated – wait it was mine!

I reached over with my right hand to feel the fire extinguisher and make sure it was there. Regulations were to have one strapped to the floor at arms-length from the driver. That along with no other seats, the door welded shut, and no glass – we had kicked out the windshields and windows.

I flick the toggle switch to stop my engine.  It broke off in my hand!

I could hear cars still whizzing by me, the crunch of metal on metal. But I couln’t see a thing, barely even my gloved hands gripping the steering wheel while I hope the madness will be over soon.

Finally it ended. They announced the winner. I think it was Dan, again. Ha, of course.

The smoke finally subsided enough and I knew the drivers were climbing out of their cars, so I clumsily followed. I could see the guy who had connected bumpers with me heading over at a rapid pace. He was pissed. I would’ve been too. His engine was fine to keep going but I couldn’t get out of the reverse gear in order for him to at least drag me with him.

I quickly reached for my helmet and yanked it off. He stopped dead in his tracks. I could see it on his face. Shit. I was the girl! He stood there looking at me. I stood there looking at him. I think he wanted to punch me – in fact I’m sure of it.

Maybe that was the one good thing about being the only girl on the dirt. He really couldn’t do a damn thing.

I had no idea that during all this, my sister was yelling and crying in the stands to stop the race, as she couldn’t see me through the smoke. Apparently, it was upsetting to see your younger sister getting smashed by two-ton vehicles over and over and over again.  

She didn’t even care that her boyfriend Dan had won, just that I was okay.

Later that night, after the cars had all been towed off the track and people were packing up, I leaned against my truck and stared up at the sky. It was filled with stars.

I had done something fun.

I had done something unexpected.

I had done something I will never do again.

My neck was already stiff and sore, backwards whiplash the doctor called it a few days later. Nonetheless, I had done it. I wished my Dad was there to watch me, but he’d refused.

“Come on, Jules,” dan said. “Hurry up. We’re all heading back to Johnny B’s.”

I snapped out of my thoughts and started to pull off the blue mechanics coveralls. Something fell to the ground. Reaching down I grabbed it quickly and looked. It was the toggle switch.

Now, it’s almost thirty years later and I don’t have a single picture or video from that night. Nothing captured I was even there, that it actually happened. There were no smart phones back then – back when we lived to just live. In the moment. Just for the night.

But I did keep that toggle switch. It did happen.

Julie Shaw has taken time away from her career in media and advertising to adopt and raise her son. She’s also taken this time to reignite her creative side.  Julie’s love of writing began at a young age, alongside her passion for restoring classic cars. Julie’s adventures in life have kept her busy writing personal essays she hopes to one day share in a memoir. She lives in Oakville with her husband, son, and their beloved dog, Maggie.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including Saturday writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, New Tecumseth, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor,  Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.