Sunday, March 31, 2019

Google Home, by Heather Conley





Rachel chewed her thumbnail, the damp receipts limp in her hand. “Hey, Google, how long does it take to get to Queen West in Toronto right now?”

“The travel time by car is 50 minutes with moderate traffic.”

Not enough time to get there and back before John got home.

The receipts had been shoved into the kitchen garbage, right to the bottom.  She had noticed one of them through the cheap plastic garbage bag that John had picked up when they ran out of the massive Costco box last week. It caught her eye because its ink was bright purple and fluorescent pink. She lay the bag on the floor and dug down through the non-recyclable plastic and slimy food that somehow didn’t make it into the compost. When she reached for the receipt, her fingers closed around a crumpled mass of paper and she pulled it out.

It was a bunched mass of six receipts. The first one, the pink and purple one, was from a place called Tryst Lingerie in Toronto. It had the stylized image of a shapely woman’s torso on the top. The receipt was for $350 but Rachel couldn't understand what the item codes meant. Valentine’s was coming up. Had John bought her some new lingerie? She certainly could use it, having worn white Hanes Her Way from Walmart for the past six years. Was he trying to rekindle the spark that had dimmed since the children were born?

But $350? That was a lot. Not that they couldn't afford it, but still.

She unwrapped the second, third and fourth receipts. They were for restaurants in Toronto. John worked in sales so eating out made sense. But the last two receipts were for hotel stays, one in Toronto and one in Niagara on the Lake. Rachel squinted at the dates. Both in the last month. When had he been away?

Life was just a blur for Rachel. With four children in four years, her life as a sales executive had slowed with the first child, halted with the second and fallen off a cliff with the third. With the fourth ... Well, she'd known she'd never again have a career. 

When she'd go to visit her old boss, she often heard the words “Mommy Track,” sometimes in conversation and sometimes staged-whispered as she walked by the cubicles. Back when she still went in to visit. But then came the weight gain that wouldn't budge and a surprise fourth baby and then the brain fog.

She had once been so sharp and focused; now she was disorganized and lackadaisical.  She went from custom made suits from the finest bespoke tailor in the city to yoga pants and leggings from Costco. She had tried to get in with the yummy mummies in the neighbourhood but found them boring and catty. And she didn’t fit their mold. They considered themselves to be “Doing it all and Looking Good while doing it.” In fact, one of the mothers had t-shirts made that said just that and invited the gang to her place to try them on.

Rachel found that hers pinched her arms and encased her like a sausage. One mom had told her she should thank the group for the motivation to get fit. When she got home, John had complained about how hard it had been for him with four kids on his own but congratulated himself for giving his wife a night out. Rachel had cried for hours that night while John,  oblivious, worked in the office downstairs.

Several of the women ran businesses from home and crowed about their success at the various get-togethers. But these businesses were dependent on the group and their family members buying their product and often, becoming an agent as well. Rachel had no desire to sell cookware, jewelry, clothing or knives (no matter how special) and despite buying more of their stuff than she needed, it was never enough because she refused to host parties or get more involved.

Slowly, the group made its disapproval known and at subsequent get-togethers, she’d felt less and less welcome until the last time she went, the hostess opened the door and acted surprised and dismayed even though Rachel had been on the guest list and rsvp’d. After that, Rachel stopped going and shortly after was removed from the email list.


Now, Rachel pulled out her phone and opened her calendar to check what she was doing on the dates of the receipts. Nothing except for dentist appointments for the kids. She had nothing to go on.

But really, John had so many meetings, so many people to see. Sometimes the company would rent a room to conduct interviews in. It showed up like a bedroom on the receipt but it was a room with a desk and bookshelves, designed for meetings. She was sure it was nothing and crumpled the receipts in her hand and threw them on top of some tangerine peels.

Then she glanced again at the Tryst receipt. It lay on the granite counter still damp from the garbage. She hadn't checked the date on it. Looking closer, she saw it was from six months earlier. Why would John buy her lingerie and store it for six months? And with her birthday in between. What had he gotten her for her birthday? What had they done? Again, it was all a blur. 

Her weight had been steadily going up in the past year so it made no sense to buy anything too far in advance. But John was a guy and probably wouldn't think of that. He hadn't mentioned her weight gain and when she asked him, he had said he hadn't noticed. He said she was as beautiful as always to him, but he’d said it with a far-away look. Of course, they were both so tired….

Rachel looked at the receipt, crumpled it and tossed it in with the others. She tied the bag which gaped open where it had torn. Cheap bags, Rachel cursed. The pink and purple receipt lay in the opening, the svelte torso arching up towards her. Rachel looked at it for several seconds. Then she picked it back out, folded it neatly and put it in her pocket.

She was not going to drive all the way to Toronto to find out what this damn receipt was for, not when she could just ask John.

Heather Conley lives in the suburbs of Toronto with her family and an ever expanding array of furry pets, some of them named after famous authors and artists.

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding 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, March 29, 2019

Véhicule Press seeks literary novels, novellas, and short story collections


Véhicule Press
P.O.B. 42094 BP Roy 
Montreal, Quebec H2W 2T3

Since 1973 Véhicule Press has published award-winning poetry, fiction, essays, translations, and social history. Simon Dardick and Nancy Marrelli are the publishers and general editors, Vicki Marcok is Office Manager and Maya Assouad is Marketing & Promotions Manager.
Simon Dardick is the nonfiction editor
Carmine Starnino  is the editor of the Signal Editions poetry series. Since 1981, over one hundred titles have been published in the series; a quarter of them by first-time authors.
Montreal novelist Dimitri Nasrallah is the editor of Esplanade Books, Véhicule's fiction imprint.
Currently, Vehicule Press is not accepting poetry manuscripts. But Vehicule’s fiction imprint, Esplanade Books, is looking for literary novels, novellas, short story collections, and translations from Canadian authors.  
Send your submission to the fiction editor, Dimitri Nasrallah at: esplanade@vehiculepress.com
Attach the first 25 pages (double-spaced, 12pt font as a doc or pdf) of your manuscript, along with a one-page synopsis and brief author bio.

Literary agents Meg Wheeler of
Westwood Creative Artists
If you’re interested in getting published, soon or somewhere down the road, don’t miss the How to Get Published workshop Saturday, June 8, in Waterloo with literary agent Meg Wheeler (see here). 
For updated listings of How to Get Published workshops see here (and scroll down). 

And don’t miss these other great workshops coming soon: You Can Write Great Dialogue, Saturday, March 30, in Burlington (see here), Secrets of Writing a Page-turner,Saturday, April 6, in Alliston (see here), and Writing Your Life, with guest speaker Ross Pennie, Saturday, April 13, in Guelph (see here). 
In May, two Writing for Children and for Young Adults workshops are coming up, both with guest speaker Erin O'Connor, senior editor, Scholastic Books. On Saturday, May 5, in Toronto, the workshop will also feature young adult author Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (see here), and on Saturday, May 11, in Brampton the workshop will feature young adult author Tanaz Bhathena (see here).

But the best way to grow as a writer may be with a weekly course. A full range of classes start in April: 

Burlington: Welcome to Creative Writing,  Thursday afternoons, April 18 – June 20. Details here.
Toronto: Welcome to Creative Writing, Friday afternoons, April 26 – June 28. Detailhere.
Oakville Central Library: Writing Personal Stories, Thursday evenings, April 18 – June 20. Details here.
Burlington: Intensive Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, April 16 – June 25. First readings emailed April 9. Details here.
Georgetown: Intensive Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings. First readings emailed April 10. Details here.
Toronto: Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings, April 26 – June 28. First readings emailed April 19. Details here.
     See details of all 6 courses here.

Add caption
And later in the spring, come enjoy the most sublime writing experience of all…
Algonquin Writing Retreat, Friday, May 31 – Monday, June 3, 2019: four days in the luxurious isolation of Arowhon Pines Resort to get down to some real creative growth. Details here. 

And in the fall, join us at the ... 
November at the Briars Writing Retreat.
Friday, November 1 – Monday, November 4; four days of creativity in a setting that provides the warmth of a country estate steeped in history while providing all the benefits of an extensive, modern lakeside resort. Details here.

To reserve a spot in any upcoming weekly course, weekend retreat, or Saturday workshop, email Brian at: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
Read reviews of Brian’s courses, retreats, and workshops here.

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding 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.

Navigation tips: Always check out the Labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. 
For a listing of twenty-one American & Canadian publishers accepting unagented manuscripts for children and young adults {and other things} see here.
For a listing of one Canadian and eight British publishers  and book publishers, accepting unagented manuscripts for children and young adults {and other things} see here.
For most recent postings of publishers of Kid Lit {and other sorts of books}, see here {and scroll down}.
For all posting of book publishers, see here {and scroll down}.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Secrets of Writing a Page-turner workshop, Saturday, Aug 10, in Mississauga


Secrets of Writing a Page-turner
Techniques for making any story more compelling
Saturday, August 10, 2019
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Unity Church, Unit 8, 3075 Ridgeway Drive, Mississauga, 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 Charlottetown. 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.

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

See Brian’s complete current schedule here including 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, March 27, 2019

“Sensitivity Reading” by Gila Green

My novel Passport Control was accepted last fall by a small New York press, a subsidiary of one of the Big Five. 

Dreamy, right?
Passport Control was originally a short story written while at Bar Ilan University in author Steve Stern's class. It was about a Canadian, Jewish girl with a Yemenite-Israeli father, who studies for one year at Haifa University. There she finds herself with one Druze, one Palestinian, and two Israeli roommates, none of whom get along.
The contract was signed. We finalized a cover. Got down to revisions with an editor I adored. Six months passed. My release date was within reach.
But it was not to be. The publisher went bust. My book was passed along to one of the Big Five. All in one email.
I was told a Palestinian would have to read my manuscript, then a Jewish-Israeli, then an American sensitivity reader would step in.
Soon every second word was underlined in red. I'll spare you, but there wasn't much in my novel that wasn't deeply offensive and by extension I was deeply offensive. It was impossible not to feel that way.
I got several emails like: "What are you trying to say with this novel? Surely, what you want to say is that deep down we are all the same."
Anyone who has ever been married, had a child, sibling, friend or gone outside surely knows that deep down we are not anywhere near the same.
Who would want to live on a planet in which everyone was the same? Would growth even be possible in such a place? But I suppose robots don't need to grow.
I was advised to go "toward them" and "to be flexible." I didn't want to ruin my reputation, come off as difficult, destroy my career.
Author Gila Green
I tried to please them. I revised. Revised again. I wrote things that I knew belonged to some other novel, not mine. You already know, nothing worked.
Then I was advised to make my Jewish-Israeli-Canadian heroine an Arabic-speaking Syrian Christian. It would work so much better and be so much more original, if my heroine wasn't Jewish at all. An Arabic speaking Christian! Are Arabic-speaking Christian writers ever advised to make their heroines Hebrew-speaking Jews?
I looked at things from their point of view. They are a young adult imprint in a time of identity politics and political correctness. They need to protect themselves.
I asked if I could be moved to one of their many adult imprints, no matter how small. I had a signed contract, I had now gone through two novel covers. I had already agreed to pushing my release date forward only months before it was meant to be published. I was asking only for them to press the forward button with a short note that I was an author on contract and could another imprint consider this novel. My thinking was that my heroine was originally twenty and I would return her to her former age and thereby place my novel in a less sensitive age group for publication.
The answer was 'no time for that.' They declined to publish my novel.
I won't pretend it wasn't a deep disappointment. But one small press had loved the novel, the USA was a big place, if one loved it there had to be another out there.
I put the novel back into its pre-sensitivity reading shape. I made a strong coffee and a long date with Google.
I sent it to a small American/Palestinian publisher in Virginia. 
This woman married a Palestinian 50 years ago and has put out two books about her experience living in a refugee camp for 11 years.
She's a pro-Palestinian activist and guess what?
She LOVES the book.
"This is a good story," she wrote after the first reading.
King of the Class, Gila's last novel
She did say that she would have written "the war with Syria differently and can we negotiate that?" (She never mentioned it again.) She also said she is considering adding it to her Palestinian series because "it might alienate some of her readers, but also generate curiosity."
How is that?
Signing with her, the irony was palpable,
Exactly twelve months after one of the Big Five asked me to make my heroine not Jewish at all, Passport Control was released on Amazon by S&H Publishing.
What does that tell you about sensitivity readings?
***
This article was originally published on Fiction.
Passport Control is available from Amazon here.
Read more about Passport Control and Gila Green on Quick Brown Fox here.

For more about "sensitivity reading" and related topics read "On Cultural Appropriation, some answers for worried writers" by Brian Henry here.

Note: Quick Brown Fox welcomes your essays about your experience of reading or writing or about favourite books, and other essays, too. Read a few essays on the blog to get a taste of what other writers have done (see here and scroll down).Quick Brown Fox also welcomes book reviews – or any kind of review of anything, of anywhere or of anybody. If you want to review your favourite coffee shops or libraries, babysitters or lovers (no real names please), go for it. See examples of book reviews here (and scroll down); other reviews here (and scroll down).
Include a short bio at the end of your piece and attach a photo of yourself if you have one that’s okay.

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.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Congratulations to Johanna on the publication of her 1st short story and to Nancy and Pam on getting honorable mentions in the 15 Stories High Contest


Note: If you’ve had a story (or a book!) published, if you’ve won or placed in a writing contest, if you’ve gotten yourself an agent, or if you have any other news, send me an email so I can share your success. And be sure to let know if you're looking for a writers' group or beta readers; a notice in Quick Brown Fox, will help you find them. Email me at brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Hi Brian, 
I have received an Honourable Mention in the Canadian Author’s Association 15 Stories High contest. This means that my story, “The Hike,” will be published in their 2019 anthology. 
All the best,
Pam Nowina

Hi, Brian,
I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I won an Honourable Mention in the CAA Niagara 15 Stories High contest! The bad news is that the launch is on March 30th, so I will have to miss your Dialogue workshop. Next time, I hope!
Thanks,
Nancy Taber

If you’re not attending the launch for the 2019 Fifteen Stories High anthology, I’m running a How to Write Great Dialogue workshop, Saturday, March 30, in Burlington. Good dialogue is hard to write and it’s often what agents and publishers look at to separate the sheep from the goats; the authors they want to work with, from the authors who still need to learn more. See details here. ~Brian
 
Johanna
Hi, Brian.
Finally, I was brave enough to send one of my short pieces, “Upstairs Balcony,” to CommuterLit, and Guess what? 
They’ve published my short story! I’m so excited!!!
Thank you so much for all your help to improve my writing! 
You’re awesome! 
Cheers
Johanna Montilla 
Read Johanna’s story here.



Writing teacher wanted
Dear Brian,
I am looking for a creative writing/ essay writing and/storytelling teacher for a group of kids. Since you coach the writers in Waterloo area I thought you may know some writers who might be interested in this position. Can you please spread the word or recommend someone.
Thanks in advance.
Heidi
Director of DeRin Eduaction
Those interested in this position should contact Heidi at: heidiyao@derinedu.com

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding 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, March 22, 2019

Signature Editions publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama

Signature Editions
P.O. Box 206, RPO Corydon
Winnipeg, MB

Signature Editions is a literary press with an eclectic list of quality fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. Originally named Nuage Editions, the press was formed in Montreal in 1986 as a 16-person publishing collective. But for the past sixteen years, the press has operated as a sole proprietorship run by Karen Haughian and has published six to nine titles a year. In 1997, after eleven years of operation in Montreal, the press moved to Winnipeg and in the year 2000 was renamed Signature Editions.
Signature Editions is a literary press and publish primarily poetry, fiction, drama, and nonfiction work with literary merit – by Canadian authors. It does not publish children's books, romance novels, or self-help books.
The Cat Vanishes, a mystery novel by
Louise Carson, published by Signature
While they do many first books, almost without exception, their authors have already seen their work in print elsewhere and are not novice writers.
“If your work has never been published before, start sending your poetry, short stories or excerpts to literary magazines, most of which will accept unpublished authors. When you've got some other publications under your belt, we'll look at your manuscript.”
Signature Editions does not accept submissions by fax or e-mail. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama manuscripts should be submitted by mail to:
Signature Editions
P.O. Box 206, RPO Corydon
Winnipeg, MB R3M 3S7
Submit the full manuscript or a sample (5 stories or chapters, 25 poems, or approximately 50 pages). Also include a synopsis of the work, and curriculum vitae specifying previous publications, as well as copies of reviews from previous publications. For drama submissions, please include copies of reviews from professional productions of your play.  Full submission guidelines here.

Literary agent Meg Wheeler
of Westwood Creative Artists
If you’re interested in getting published, soon or somewhere down the road, don’t miss the How to Get Published workshop Saturday, June 8, in Waterloo with literary agent Meg Wheeler (see here). 
For updated listings of How to Get Published workshops see  here (and scroll down). 

And don’t miss these other great workshops coming soon: You Can Write Great Dialogue, Saturday, March 30, in Burlington (see here), Secrets of Writing a Page-turner, Saturday, April 6, in Alliston (see here), and Writing Your Life, with guest speaker Ross Pennie, Saturday, April 13, in Guelph (see here). 
In May, two Writing for Children and for Young Adults workshops are coming up, both with guest speaker Erin O'Connor, senior editor, Scholastic Books. On Saturday, May 5, in Toronto, the workshop will also feature young adult author Laurie Elizabeth Flynn (see here), and on Saturday, May 11, in Brampton the workshop will feature young adult author Tanaz Bhathena (see here).

But the best way to grow as a writer may be with a weekly course. A full range of classes starts in April: 
Burlington: Welcome to Creative Writing,  Thursday afternoons, April 18 – June 20. Details here.
Toronto: Welcome to Creative Writing, Friday afternoons, April 26 – June 28. Details here.
Oakville Central Library: Writing Personal Stories, Thursday evenings, April 18 – June 20. Details here.
Burlington: Intensive Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, April 16 – June 25. First readings emailed  April 9. Details here.
Georgetown: Intensive Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings. First readings emailed April 10. Details here.
Toronto: Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings, April 26 – June 28. First readings emailed April 19.  Details here.
     See details of all 6 courses here.

And later in the spring, come enjoy the most sublime writing experience of all…
Algonquin Writing Retreat, Friday, May 31 – Monday, June 3, 2019: four days in the luxurious isolation of Arowhon Pines Resort to get down to some real creative growth. Details here. 

To reserve a spot in any upcoming weekly course, weekend retreat, or Saturday workshop, email Brian at: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
Read reviews of Brian’s courses, retreats, and workshops here.

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding 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.

Navigation tips: Always check out the Labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. 
For a listing of twenty-one American & Canadian publishers accepting unagented manuscripts for children and young adults {and other things} see here.
For a listing of one Canadian and eight British publishers  and book publishers, accepting unagented manuscripts for children and young adults {and other things} see here.
For most recent postings of publishers of Kid Lit {and other sorts of books}, see here {and scroll down}.
For all posting of book publishers, see here {and scroll down}.