Saturday, August 17, 2019

“The Library” a short story by Nicoletta Korstanje



It must have been twenty years
 since Sue had set foot inside her town's public library, long ago having traded in her library card and the familiar smell of the old books for a Starbucks coffee and fresh clean novels under fluorescent lighting. But now her daughter's class assignment required a visit and then report about the library and its resources.
     Sue couldn't wait for her daughter to end the school year. Her teacher was new and full of passion. That, combined with the fact that her daughter was a teacher's pet and worked hard to keep that status, meant that on top of her full-time job Sue spent her weekends feeling as though she was back in elementary school. At parent-teacher night, she'd begun scoping out the fifth-grade teachers in search of the less engaged faculty so she could put a request for her daughter to be in their class next year.
     As soon as they passed through the library’s automatic doors, her daughter spotted some girls from her class and left Sue standing alone next to some self-checkout stands. She had become used to seeing self-checkouts at the grocery store but it was a surprising discovery at the public library. Certainly a long way from bringing the book up to the circulation desk for a date stamp. Who would reassure you about what a great book you were checking out?
     Sue had only meant to drop her daughter off, but she decided to take a quick peek around at what else had changed since she studied here with her own classmates. Many things were new to her. Workstations that used to be full of computers were replaced by empty spaces equipped with a plug and USB port. Out of the fifteen workstations, she counted only five that had computers still. Next to the printer was a large glass box that was quite peculiar. Upon further inspection she realized it was a 3D printer. A soft "wow" escaped her lips as she bent over to watch in awe is it printed.
     The little library was barely recognizable, but somethings still felt familiar. Sue imagined that no matter how many things changed around them, the stacks of books would always remain consistent. 
     A smile formed across her lips as she reminisced about visits to this same library as a child. Her father was a teacher, so she spent most of her days in the summer with him. They would ride their bikes to the library together each morning. At first, she sat in an attachable seat on the back of his bike, then she graduated to a bike of her own, complete with training wheels, and eventually the training wheels came off and she rode alongside her father with streamers happily flowing in the wind.
     With one memory another followed, and she moved towards the art section. She often thought about her father but rarely spoke of him. Having passed away long before she married and had children, he somehow seemed a part of an old, separate life in her past. As she passed through the various book stacks she paid careful attention to the books sitting on the shelves, nestled into their protective plastic covers with matching stickers. Walking through the aisles felt like traveling back in time. The workstations and circulation desk flaunted new technology, but the stacks revealed a library she had known intimately in the 1980s.
     It didn't take long to find the book she was looking for. The thick book was heavy to pull from the shelf, heavy with glossy photographs it housed within its covers and heavy with the memories it conjured up. As a child, her father would drop the book into her arms and laugh as the weight of it would nearly topple her to the ground. "Easy there," he'd say as he pulled on her arm to help her regain balance, chuckling from the moment he first let go of the book until the moment she was standing upright again.
     Her father's absence in this moment was palpable. She remembered how she'd sit on his lap as they flipped through the pages together. Once she asked if they could check the book out and take it home, but he said no. "My favourite thing about this book is riding our bike here and hunkering down in our favourite chair to look through it," he said as he pinched her cheek. At that time, she was still riding on the back of his bike, and through all the stages of graduating to her own bike and then losing her training wheels, she never asked again to bring the book home.
     Now, years later, she found herself sitting alone staring at Normal Rockwell, artist and illustrator. A familiar thrill rose within her as the plastic cover crinkled and shifted as she opened the book. The pictures were colourful and lived on smooth glossy pages that added to their beauty. 
     Sue took a quick look to her left then right. People milled about around her but she decided she didn't care and lifted the book to her nose, taking a deep breath in. The distinct smell that only a library book has rose up into her nostrils and she swore he father whispered, "Take a big breath in and smell it, Susie. Nothing smells better than a library book." 
     As a kid, she'd thought he was crazy. When she'd been old enough to ride alongside him with no training wheels on her bike, she'd roll her eyes and giggle. "You're so embarrassing, Dad," she'd say. But embarrassed or not, she loved every moment of those afternoons together.
     "Here you are!" shouted her daughter as she came barrelling around the bookcase. "I've been looking everywhere for you. I got all my stuff done, we can go now," she said. 
    Sue was quickly pulled out of her trance. "Sh," she whispered. "Don't be so loud." 
   Time to get back to her responsibilities, she thought. Still, she took her time pushing the collection of Rockwell paintings back into place, letting her finger catch on the sticker bearing the book's catalogue number. "Hey, have they taught you about the Dewey decimal system in school yet?" she asked. 
    Her daughter looked at her with a confused expression. 
    "Come on, let's go," Sue said motioning her daughter towards the door. "I need to get groceries on the way home." But as they passed the circulation desk, she said. "Hold on." Then she asked the librarian, "Excuse me, may I have an application for a library card?"

Note: Quick Brown Fox welcomes your short stories, poems, and essays about reading, writing, favourite books, and libraries. 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.

Nicoletta Korstanje is a writer from Grimsby, Ontario. After obtaining a "practical" career in education she returned to her passion for writing and not taking herself too seriously. She is currently working on a collection of short stories focused on the experiences that shape our relationships with those around us. 

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.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Writing Personal Stories weekly classes, offered in Burlington and Toronto


Writing Personal Stories
9 weeks of sharing and writing
Offered in two locales:
Thursday afternoons, 12:45 – 2:45 p.m.
September 26 – November 28, 2019 (No class Oct 31)
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Friday afternoons, 1:15 – 3:15 p.m.
September 27 – November 29, 2019 (no class Nov 1)
Glenview Church, Bethlehem Room, 1 Glenview Ave, Toronto, Ontario (Map here.)
Other Creative Writing courses, from Introductory to Intensive, are also offered this fall. See the details here.

If you've ever considered writing your personal stories, this course is for you. We’ll look at memoirs, travel writing, personal essays, family history ~ personal stories of all kinds. Plus, we’ll work on creativity and writing technique and have fun doing it. 
Whether you want to write a book or just get your thoughts down on paper, this weekly course will get you going. We'll reveal the tricks and conventions of telling true stories, and we’ll show you how to use the techniques of the novel to recount actual events. Weekly writing exercises and friendly feedback from the instructor will help you move forward on this writing adventure. Whether you want to write for your family and friends or for a wider public, don't miss this course.
Fee: $167.26 plus 13% hst = $189
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Instructor 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’s has helped many of his students get published. 
Read a review of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

8 markets for your short fiction, nonfiction and creative nonfiction, book reviews, poetry and more – most of them pay

Scarlet Leaf Review seeks all sorts of things – fiction, essays, true stories, reviews, poetry and more.
Deadline: ongoing. Guidelines here.

Underland Press seeks mystery, crime, dark fantasy, horror, and other speculative fiction for an anthology called Eighteen. Pays 1 cent/word. 
Deadline: September 1, 2019. Guidelines here.

NPHZone seeks speculative fiction stories on the intersection of elder gods, old monsters and new technology. Pays $15.00 to $25.00. 
Deadline: September 1, 2019. Guidelines here.

Griffith Review seeks nonfiction writing that reveals the ways our institutions are transforming, reshaping, renewing. Payment to be negotiated. 
Deadline: September 1, 2019. Guidelines here.

Bethlehem Writers Roundtable
seeks poetry and fiction on Family Functions (or Dysfunctions). Payment: $20 for featured author stories; $10 for stories published on &More page $5 for poems. 
Deadline: September 1, 2019. Guidelines here.

SubTerrain Magazine
seeks fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, essays, and commentary on theme of 1984Pays $50 per poem or $.10 per word for prose (to a maximum of $500.) Canadian dollars. Charges fee for online submissions; no fee for snail mail.
Deadline: Ongoing; deadline for next issue September 6, 2019. Guidelines here.

Event Magazine seeks fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and reviews:
Fiction: We look for compelling characters, plots that surprise us, narratives that move us, stories that have something new to say.
Poetry: We love poems that are lyrical without being overwrought, and profound without being pretentious. We look for honesty of emotion, and images that arrest us.
Nonfiction: The creative non-fiction we publish mainly comes through our annual Non-Fiction Contest due to limited page space. We look for real-life experiences told as riveting narratives with distinct voices. We publish essays that feel artful and true.
Reviews: If you have opinions on books and know how to articulate them, we’d like to feature you as a reviewer! Read samples reviews on our blog for an idea of our style, and contact our Reviews Editor.
We have two open submissions periods during the months of August-September and December-January.  Guidelines here.

Quick Brown Fox welcomes your writing about a favourite book or about your experience of reading or writing. Read a few pieces on the blog to get a taste of what other writers have done (see here and scroll down), write your own, and submit it to me at brianhenry@sympatico.ca
QBF also welcomes your book reviews – or any kind of review. If you want to review your favourite coffee shops or libraries, babysitters or lovers (no real names please), go for it. You can read an essay about how to write a book review here and see guidelines about submitting reviews of any kind to Quick Brown Fox here


See Brian Henry's schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Cambridge, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

November at the Briars Writing Retreat



November at the Briars Writing Retreat
Friday, November 1 – Monday, November 4, 2019
The Briars Resort & Spa on Lake Simcoe
55 Hedge Road, Jackson’s Point, Ontario, Canada (Map here)
Note: We also have a late spring retreat, May 31 – June 3, 2019, in Algonquin Park at Arowhon Pines resort. Details here.

Give yourself a four days of writing time  a long weekend of instruction, inspiration and creativity. Award yourself with time away from distractions, with no dishes to do, delicious food at every meal, and with the leisure you need to sit with your feet up and write.

The retreat will feature both instruction and guided writing exercises, plus one-on-one critiquing and coaching from Brian.  You’ll also have lots of time to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with your creativity. All writing levels welcome. Whether you’re just beginning or have a novel in progress, please join us. 

The setting: Originally a Regency-style Manor House built by Captain William Bourchier in 1840, the estate was purchased in 1870 by Dr. Frank Sibbald, who added two wings to the manor house, a coach house, a brick stable and of course a peacock house, because where else are you going to keep your peacocks?

The Briars also has a storied literary history. Humorist Stephen Leacock was a great friend of the Sibbalds, visited often, and is buried just down the road from the resort at the pretty St. George’s churchyard, as is author Mazo de la Roche. De la Roche’s Jalna series were worldwide bestsellers, making her one of Canada’s bestselling authors ever. Indeed, her books are available to this day from Dundurn Press.

Today, the Briars still offers the warmth of a country estate steeped in history while providing all the benefits of an extensive, modern lakeside resort.

Rates include accommodation. Each room has a king, queen or two twin beds, and an en-suite four-piece bathroom. There is also a hospitality room, where we can congregate and that includes a wet bar and refrigerator (so do bring your own soft drinks,  wine or beer if you like).

All meals – Friday dinner, Saturday and Sunday breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday breakfast and lunch – are provided, as are coffee & snack breaks on Saturday and Sunday. Alcoholic beverages are extra, as are Spa treatments – but you might want to check those out (see here).


All activities included. When you’re not writing, or for spouses who accompany you, there is plenty to do. The resort has an indoor pool, whirlpool and sauna, a well-equipped exercise room, and a games room with pool, shuffleboard, ping pong, and foosball. The beautiful Lake Simcoe setting offers idyllic opportunities for biking and hiking, with the resort featuring its own nature trails and with other trails three kilometers down the road at Sibbald Point Provincial Park. And of course there are plenty of nooks around the resort that are ideal for reading, resting and unwinding.

Check-in on Friday is 4 p.m. Our first writing get-together will be at 5 p.m. On Monday, we'll have our last writing get-together at 10 a.m., ending at 11 a.m. Check out is at 12 noon. (though we may push the Monday schedule an hour later if the resort isn't full and they can accommodate a 1 p.m. check out) But once you’ve had lunch, don’t feel you have to rush off! You can stay for the rest of the day, enjoying the amenities of the resort. Participants are welcome to bring a non-participating significant other. 

Instructor 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 their first book published and launch their careers as authors.


Read about previous retreats here {and scroll down}.

Fee, including both the writing retreat and accommodation, meals, coffee & snack service, and all resort amenities: $345.13 per night plus 13% hst {same as last year}
or $1035.40 for all three nights, plus 13% hst
Not included: Tips (probably easiest just to leave about $30 for the wait staff when you check out), alcoholic drinks (or any drinks bought at Drinkwaters Lounge), spa services, or other extras.

Bring a (non-participating) significant other along for the weekend to share your room for an additional $119.47 plus hst per night (includes accommodation, meals and all resort amenities, but not the writing part of the retreat). This is special reduced pricing offered by the Briars for conference participant spouses.

Book early – space is limited! Full receipts issued.

For more information or to register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Note: Bookings for accommodations for this retreat must be done through Brian (unlike our retreats in Algonquin, where you book your accommodations through the resort).

Who can attend the retreat?
Everyone interested in developing their writing skills is welcome to attend, whether you're aspiring writer or an accomplished author or simply enjoy writing as a hobby. There is no requirement for you to have been previously published or even to have an intention to publish.

I'm a poet / playwright / other writer. Is this retreat for me?
The retreat is open to anyone who enjoys writing. Instruction will focus on narrative writing; i.e., stories, whether fiction or memoir. But if you’re an essayist or poet or whatever, you’re entirely welcome.
Should I bring my work in progress?
Yes, if you have an on-going writing project, bring it with you! If you’re not currently working on anything, don’t worry, we’ll get you writing.

Should I bring my laptop?
Yes, if you prefer to work on your laptop. If you prefer to work on paper bring that. Or bring both.


Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?
Yes. But you need to let me know at least a week ahead of time, so I can let the staff know about your needs.

I want to stay longer or arrive early. Is that possible?
If you want to arrive early or stay longer, that’s fine. You’ll book the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night with Brian, and arrange any additional nights with the resort; just make sure they know you’re with Brian Henry’s writing group.

Is there cell phone reception and WIFI?
Yes.

How about alcohol?
The resort serves alcohol with meals and has a licensed lounge called Drinkwaters. Guests are also welcome to bring their own wine, beer or whatever for consumption in our hospitality room. (Though do note that Hemingway’s advice to write drunk, mostly produces drivel.)

Can I use the spa at the resort or play a round of golf?
Yes, you can certainly book a spa treatment, but that’s extra. The golf course may be closed for the season, but if not, you can certainly play, though, again, that would be extra. And you’d book these directly with the resort {not through Brian}.

Can I bring my spouse (or partner or friend)?
If you want to share your room with a partner, they’re very welcome. Just let them know you’ll be spending most of your time writing, (though you will have some free time every day).

For more information or to register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca 

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.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Congratulations to Frank, Jill and Gary on getting published

Yo!  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 hope you and your family are well.
Scarlet Leaf Review has picked up my short story “Number Crunching”. It was the first story I brought to one of your Next Step in Creative Writing classes.
You can check it out here.
Cheers,
Frank Beghin
You can join a Next Step in Creative Writing course this fall. Details here.
See all the courses offered this fall, Introductory, Personal Stories, and Intensive, here.
  
Hey Brian.

Just an FYI that one of my stories was posted this month to Fifty Word Stories.

Thanks for recommending this as a place to have our stories featured - it was a lot of fun to write and to have actual strangers read something I wrote is pretty amazing.

Cheers!
Gary Thomson

For information about submitting to 50-Word Stories, see here.


Hi Brian.
Wanted to let you know that Commuter Lit has published a short of mine this week! 
Best, 
Jill Malleck
Read Jill's story, “All the Danger in the World,” here.
For information on submitting to CommuterLit, see here.



See Brian’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.