Sunday, December 29, 2019

Last night of Hanukkah



In the year 3596 on the Jewish calendar {165 BC in the common reckoning}, Jews under the leadership of Judah Maccabee liberated the city of Jerusalem from their Syrian Greek overlords, and on the 25th day of Kislev, {December 25}, rededicated the temple to God. Celebrations continued for eight days and have continued every year since as the celebration of Hanukkah. {Read a short history here.}
Israeli paratroopers at the Western Wall, June 7, 1967


During Israel’s War of Independence, 
Jordan invaded and occupied the provinces of Judea and Samaria {and renamed them the West Bank}, including the eastern side of Jerusalem, the site of the old city, where the temple once stood.

Then in 1967 {5727 on the Jewish calendar}, Jordan joined with Egypt and Syria in a war  against Israel, the stated intent: to push the Jews into the sea. Israel counter-attacked, and on the 28th of Iyar {June 7}, liberated all of Jerusalem. Since then Jerusalem Day – Yom Yerushalayim – has been a national and religious holiday, a sort of second Hanukkah, but one lasting only a day. {Read a short history here.}

“Fellie’s Escape” by Nancy Taber



Fellie mashed her green and red striped cap onto her pointed ears and stomped out of the workshop. 
     “Fellie do this, Fellie do that,” she mocked as she hopped on the conveyor belt built for transporting toys. She shoved away a train so she could put her feet up on a building block set as she travelled through an inner tunnel towards the administrative section. She reveled in the blackness that hid her from prying eyes. She was in enough trouble as it was for her lax quality check on tricycles – she’d been demoted to stuffing stockings - and didn’t need to get caught contaminating the toy supply with dirt from her floppy shoes or, Santa forbid, sneezing on anything. The decontamination procedures had become candy crazy after the Molly Dollies were infected with the flu last Christmas. All those kids puking the day after they opened their presents. It was not a good look for the North Pole. They’d ended the season with 13 fewer elves who’d been forced to spend a year in banishment with the Abominable Snowman. Fellie might have thought it was actually a reward if it weren’t for living in a cave and pooping in a crevice.
     So when the conveyor belt arrived next to the big guy’s office and she heard shouting, Fellie made the only decision she could. Hide. She jumped off and snuck under a gingerbread desk, which was difficult to do when wearing mandated bells on your shirt and cuff sleeves. But over the years, Fellie had learned how to keep them quiet. It was a skill that came in handy more often than one would think. 
    As she waited, she picked off a jujube and three M&Ms. She was searching for a Hawkins cheezie, the secretary’s personal favourite and not a standard ingredient, when the overheard argument stopped. She froze, waiting for Mr. Head-of-the-Elfs to throw out whoever dared challenge his kingdom, but no one exited. She considered leaving then but had found the cheezie section so wanted to wait until she polished it off.
   Several moments later, as she wiped orange dust on her face – easier to clean than her clothes – the door creaked open. She froze, watching as stocking feet crept past her. 
    She peeked out and looked up, past red pants, a black leather belt, a massive belly that shook like a bowlful of jelly, white undershirt, and red suspenders, towards a grey beard and then blue eyes that were most definitely not jolly.
“Fellie, what the red-nosed reindeer are you doing here?”
“Dusting?”
“Listen here.” He crouched down to her level and his belly bounced her back a few feet farther under the desk.
“Stay here for ten minutes, then go into my office, find my empty red coat, and declare my death.”
“Huh?”
“I just got fired by the Fantastical Creatures board. Tooth Fairy called me herself. It’s that flu fiasco we never recovered from. But they can’t fire me! I’m leaving for Florida. Let Mrs. Claus mop up the mess. She’s always wanted to do more than make cookies anyway. You say I disappeared in a puff of eggnog smoke. The FC board will believe anything.”
“On one condition,” said Fellie. “Take me with you.”

Nancy Taber is an academic at Brock University and a retired military member. Her research explores the intersection of gender, militarism, and learning in daily life. She has published multiple journal articles, books, and book chapters but is most proud of her published short stories, one in Fifteen Stories High and one on CommuterLit. She is currently working on two fiction-based research projects: a collection of short stories about women, war, and war museums and a book of historical fiction about Acadian women in 1759, 1864, and the present.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including 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.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Short stories, poetry, reviews, and creative nonfiction wanted ~ Themes include the body, illness, health & healing, Christmas, and much more


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Finally, if you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale, to brianhenry@sympatico.ca ~Brian

Bellevue Literary Review is a literary journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry about the human body, illness, health and healing. This journal is currently seeking submissions for a theme issue on "Reading the Body."
“We are seeking writing that explores various ideas of the body—through metaphor and language (‘heartsick,’ ‘lily-livered’); as first responders (to illness, stress, culture, religion, freedom); and as agents of change. When we change emotionally or spiritually, our bodies alter; when our bodies alter, our attitudes and spirit do too. Our bodies tell us our truths, reveal our truths, and sometimes blindside us with truths we may not have known. They sing an eloquent, often unconscious song.”
Deadline: January 1, 2020.  But after that deadline, the journal will doubtless open up for submissions for its next issue. Guidelines here.
This journal also offers annual literary prizes. Submissions for that will open March 1, 2020. See pieces by previous winners here.

Ars Medica is a literary journal that explores the interface between the arts and healing, and examines what makes medicine an art. Content includes narratives from patients and health care workers, medical history, fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. The journal also include sections on writing by and about children, and writing about international health.
Deadline: Always open for submissions. Guidelines here.

Pixie Forest Publishing is looking for short stories for an upcoming anthology: Phobia! An Anthology of Fear.  Try to think outside the box. Think of phobias that are rare, or write in a genre you don’t think others will.Stories should be between 1,500 and 4,000 words. Pays  $10. 
Deadline: January 15, 2020. Guidelines here.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for true stories on various themes:
Stories about Self-Care and Me Time. Deadline December 31, 2019.
The Magic of Cats. Deadline January 15, 2020.
The Magic of Dogs. Deadline January 15, 2020.
Stories About Christmas. Deadline January 30, 2020.
Be You {Previously this theme was “You Go, Girl!”}. Deadline January 31, 2020.
Listen to Your Dreams. Deadline February 28, 2020.
Pays $200. Guidelines here.

The Stinging Fly magazine was established in 1997 to seek out, publish and promote the very best new Irish and international writing. Seeks fiction and poetry. Pays €25 per magazine page for fiction; €40 for single poem or magazine page; and €200 to a featured poet
Deadline: January 16, 2020. Guidelines here.

Rattle publishes poetry and translations. General submissions are open year-round, always welcomed, and always free. 
Currently Rattle is also seeking Postcard Poems: "The poems may be any style or subject, but must have been written on and be accompanied by a related postcard. Homemade postcards, artists you know, or public domain/Creative Commons licensed art is preferred. Our goal is to support and encourage the act of writing poems on postcards and sharing them in this personal and intimate way." Pays $100. 
Deadline for postcards theme: January 16, 2020. General submissions always open. Guidelines here.

Quick Brown Fox Quick Brown Fox welcomes your short stories, poems, and essays about reading, writing, favourite books, and libraries. Read a few pieces 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, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Southampton, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

“My first White Christmas” by Kay Vollett



As a young child in Australia, I impatiently awaited Christmas, counting down the days until my mother took me to the city to visit Santa Claus so I could give him my list of wants, those gifts which I hoped he would bring me on Christmas Day.  Afterwards, we had lunch at Cahills restaurant and my treat was a bowl of vanilla ice cream smothered with their famous caramel sauce. It was then off to see the magnificent Christmas window displays at David Jones department store. 

It never concerned me that it was summer, even though the radio played  North American songs whose words expressed the hope of a white Christmas. I am sure my mother often wished it would snow, as she slaved over a hot stove, keeping up the English tradition to which Australians then adhered of a hot Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, including plum pudding with custard and fruit cake. 

Every year Mother wove a beautiful wreath of eucalyptus leaves from the trees in our backyard, which she tied with a silver ribbon and hung on the front door.  A medium- sized pine tree adorned with home-made decorations took pride of place in the dining room.  I hung a Santa sack on my bedroom door so that the minute I opened my eyes on Christmas day, I could see it bulging with my presents. 

Christmas Eve was open house with friends and neighbours coming and going at various times to share a few drinks. Mother and her best friend, then attended midnight Mass. As Dad was not Catholic, he babysat me. 

On Christmas Day evening, after our big lunch, we joined Aunts, Uncles and cousins at my maternal grandmother’s home for dinner, a giant potluck.  Everyone brought leftovers but instead of being hot, the turkey and ham were served cold with salads and lots of desserts.  

It was a time to relax after the Christmas celebrations, share laughter, love and the joy of one another’s company.

When I travelled overseas in my early 20s, I wanted to experience a European white Christmas so my first December away, I stayed at a ski lodge in a small village in Austria.  I learned that Christmas Eve was the main event and was enthralled to see the local children arrive at the church in the village square on their skis closely followed by the adults and younger children in their sleighs.  I felt I was in a Hallmark movie. The church was intimate and at the end of each pew, adorned with boughs of greenery, there were large metal holders containing a candle which cast a warm glow.

After the service, everyone gathered in the village square, including guests from the lodge, many of whom were from North America, The locals sang their carols with Silent Night bringing tears to my eyes, and we foreigners sang our well loved hymns and songs. It was enchanting and I wrapped myself in the ambience.  So this is a white Christmas, I thought.

I stayed snuggled in bed Christmas Day, missing breakfast.  I couldn’t shake the overwhelming feeling of homesickness.  Hunger finally drove me to the dining room for lunch. I pasted on a smile for the guests who joked I must have been nursing a hangover.

I had sent Christmas cards and presents to my family and promised I would telephone them on my return to London, where I was living at the time.  Family and friends in Australia filled my thoughts.  I saw my mother fanning herself after she opened the door of the oven to check on the turkey in the 90 degree Fahrenheit heat, my sister playing with Cleo, her small daschund pup, and Dad in charge of the well loved Christmas records, Loretta Young’s The Littlest Angel and Bing Crosby’s Small One, listened to without fail every year on Christmas morning.

I couldn’t wait.  I didn’t care how much it cost.  I ran to reception and breathlessly said, “I need to place a call to Australia.”  The clerk looked surprised, but asked for the number and did as I requested.

The operator asked if he would he accept a reverse paid call from Austria.  “What!” he exploded.

She asked again and he accepted in a calmer voice.

“Hello Dad,” I said.  “How are you?  How was Christmas?  

“Do you realize what time it is Kay?” he demanded in a stern voice.

I suddenly realized Australia was ten hours ahead of Austria and it was midnight there. “Sorry Dad, I just wanted to speak with you and Mother.  I miss you terribly.”  My voice was quivering as Mother took the phone. 

“Did you enjoy your first white Christmas, darling?” she said. 

“It was certainly different,” I said, “and charming, with lots of snow, but very cold.  How was yours?”

“Not the same without you, darling.”  I could hear the yearning in her voice.

My sister, who is ten years younger than I, came on the line and excitedly told me that she had received everything she wanted.

After enquiring about extended family and friends, and their summer holiday plans, tearful goodbyes were finally made. I returned to the lounge and found a chair in the corner where I could be alone, savor the voices of my family, and feel warmed by the memories of those past glorious summer Christmases.

Kay Vollett was born in Australia.  She travelled extensively in her early 20’s, including two years living in Europe before moving to Canada, where she worked for a number of years at the Ontario Legislature for various Cabinet Ministers. On returning to Australia with her Canadian husband, she worked for several State and Federal Cabinet Ministers including a former Prime Minister of Australia. She is now retired and resides in Canada again to be near family.

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding 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, December 23, 2019

Intensive Creative Writing courses, Jan 15 – March 11 in Burlington and Jan 17 – March 13 in Toronto


Intensive Creative Writing
Offered in two locations:
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
January 15 – March 11, 2020
First reading emailed Jan 8
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Road Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Friday mornings, 10:15 – 12:30
January 17 – March 13, 2020
First reading emailed Jan 10
Glenview Church, Bethlehem Room, 1 Glenview Ave,  Toronto, Ontario (Map here.)
Intensive Creative Writing isn't for beginners; it's for people who have been writing for a while or who have done a course or two before and are working on their own projects. Over the nine weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in four pieces of your writing for detailed feedback. All your pieces may be from the same work, such as a novel in progress, or they may be stand alone pieces. You bring whatever you want to work on. 
Besides critiquing pieces, the instructor will give short lectures addressing the needs of the group, and in addition to learning how to critique your own work and receiving constructive suggestions about your writing, you’ll discover that the greatest benefits come from seeing how your classmates approach and critique a piece of writing and how they write and re-write. This is a challenging course, but extremely rewarding.
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).

Fee: $184.96 + 13% hst = $209
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Happy Hanukkah!



We lit the first candle tonight - seven more to go :-)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Algonquin Park Writing Retreat at Arowhon Pines Resort, Friday, June 5 – Monday, June 8,




Algonquin Park Writing Retreat
Friday, June 5 – Monday, June 8, 2020
Arowhon Pines Resort, Arowhon Pines Rd, Little Joe Lake, Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada

Give yourself a long weekend of writing time  a weekend of instruction, inspiration and creativity. Award yourself with time away from distractions, with no dishes to do and wonderful food at every meal, as you sit with your feet up and write in the most beautiful wilderness setting in Ontario. This is where the Group of Seven got its inspiration (Tom Thompson is buried just a couple of lakes over); it’s a wonderful place for you to find your inspiration, too.
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 are just beginning or have a novel in progress, please join us. 
The setting: Arowhon Pines is a peaceful, quiet resort nestled in the woods on Little Joe Lake inside Algonquin Park. There are no motorboats on the lake, except for the resort’s own pontoon boat which takes guests on occasional wildlife tours.
The resort is without TV and is far from the roar of traffic. The cry of a loon is the loudest noise you’re likely to hear all day.
Rates include charming accommodation (cabins have a mix of queen beds for one person or couples or twin beds for two people rooming together; rooms also have private bathrooms and each cabin has a lounge with fireplace to share with your fellow writers). 
Three all-you-can-eat gourmet meals per day are provided, featuring an abundance of fresh food prepared by master chefs and an inspired kitchen staff. (Bring your own wine or beer!)
All activities included. When you’re not writing, or for spouses who accompany you, there is plenty to do: canoe or kayak a series of lakes or hike trails to see wildlife (moose, loons, beaver, turtles, fox, deer), swim in the lake, sail, stand up paddleboard, play tennis, relax. For indoor activities there is a games room with table tennis, shuffleboard, books, board games. Your stay also includes access to all Algonquin Park programs and activities including a car pass for you to fully enjoy the park.

Check-in isn’t until 3 p.m., but guests can arrive in the morning to fully take advantage of the facilities (though the meals included in your package don’t begin until after check-in time, so lunch on Friday is extra if you arrive early). Each guest can borrow a day pass for Algonquin Park. The formal retreat will begin late Friday afternoon. On Monday, we'll have our last formal get-together at 11 a.m., ending at 12 noon. Check out time is at 1 p.m.  Most guests have lunch while the bellhops load the car. But once you’ve had lunch, don’t feel you have to rush off!
Participants are welcome to bring spouses, partners or friends, as there will be plenty to do while you’re writing – canoeing, kayaking or sailing, swimming if warm enough, tennis, reading and just plain resting and unwinding, enjoying the wilderness.

Read about a stay at Arowhon Pines 
here.

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 reviews of previous writing retreats at Arowhon Pines here (and scroll down). 
To see more reviews of Brian’s weekly courses and Saturday workshops, see 
here

Seminar fee:
For the full 4-day, 3-night retreat: $185.84 plus hst = $210

Book early – space is limited! Full receipts issued.
For more information or to register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Accommodation fee (including accommodation and food, plus use of all the resort’s facilities):
$268 per person, based on double occupancy ($536 per couple)
Or
$335 per night, based on single occupancy
Plus 15% service charge (in lieu of tipping), then plus 13% hst.

Book early – space is limited! Full receipts issued.

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

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 go crazy and bring both.

Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?
Yes, just let the staff at Arowhon Pines know beforehand about your needs.

I want to stay longer or arrive early. Is it possible to do that?
If you want to arrive early and stay longer, that is fine. Just arrange it with the resort. There is plenty to see and do in the park, and Arowhon Pines is a lovely place to base from.  Arowhon will keep the same rate throughout your stay.

Is there cell phone reception and WIFI?
Arowhon Pines is an island of luxury, but in the midst of wilderness, so no cell phone reception and no WIFI, though there are landlines and there’s access to the resort’s Internet connection. (Contact the resort for details.) But be sure to have your writing projects on your laptop when you come, not stored in the Cloud.

How about alcohol?
Arowhon doesn’t serve alcohol, but guests are welcome to bring their own wine, beer or whatever to have with meals or back at your cabin or wherever. (Though do note that Hemingway’s advice to write drunk, mostly produces drivel.)

Can I bring my spouse (or partner or friend)?
Certainly. Just let them know you’ll be spending most of your time writing, (though you will have some free time every day), and make sure they enjoy superb food, beautiful wilderness, and relaxing on the deck or the dock or out on a canoe as they glide past a moose munching on water lilies….

For more information or to register, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca 
To book your accommodation at Arowhon Pines, phone toll free: 1-866-633-5661
Or you can book on-line here~ But be sure to also phone and tell them you're with the writing retreat!