Thursday, February 27, 2020

You're invited to an author reading Saturday, April 4, in Oakville ~ to read from your work or just to listen


Author Reading
Saturday, April 4, 2020
1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Adonis Mediterranean Cuisine, 487 Pinegrove Road, Oakville, Ontario (Map here).
At this reading, 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.)
We meet 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 (or they might not want us back).
And if you want to read from your own work, email me, and I’ll put you on the roster. (But you must arrange to read in advance; you can’t just show up on the day and hope to read.)
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


Starting soon, there's a whole new round of classes from Introductory to Intensive, plus Writing for Young Audiences starting this spring:
Toronto: Welcome to Creative Writing, April 10 – June 19. No class June 5. Details here.
Oakville: Welcome to Creative Writing, Thursday evenings, April 16 – June 25. No class June 4. Details here.
Burlington: Writing Kid Lit, Thursday afternoon, April 23 – June 25. No class June 4. Details here.
Burlington: Next Step in Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, April 14 – June 23. First readings emailed April 7. Details here.
Georgetown: Intensive Creative Writing,  Wednesday evenings, March 25 – June 24. First readings emailed March 18. Details here.
Toronto: Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings, March 27 – June 26. First readings emailed March 20. Details here.
            Details of all spring courses here.

See Brian’s full 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, February 26, 2020

How to Write Great Dialogue, Saturday, June 20, in Kitchener

How to Write Great Dialogue
Saturday, June 20, 2020
1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Forest Heights Public Library, 251 Fischer-Hallman Road, Kitchener, Ontario (Map here)

Accessible to beginners and meaty enough for experienced writers, this workshop will show you how to use dialogue to make your stories more dynamic and dramatic.
Whether you’re writing fiction or memoir, you need to be able to write great dialogue that both sounds natural and packs dramatic punch, and you need to know how to mix your dialogue and narrative so that your characters come alive. 
Come to this workshop and learn all about writing dialogue – both the basics and the best tricks of the trade. 

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 St. John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.
Read reviews of Brian's Saturday workshops, weekly courses and weekend retreats, here {and scroll down}.

Fee: $37.17 + hst = $42 paid in advance or $39.82 + hst = $45 at the door
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s full 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.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

“I thought I knew how to speak English. Then I moved to Canada” by Johanna Montilla



There is a song I learned when I was in kindergarten in Venezuela; it goes something like this: “Pollito – chicken; gallina – hen; lapiz – pencil; and pluma – pen.” Apparently, the songwriter considered these key words to learn in a new language. For me, it was pretty much everything I knew in English until I started high school. Then, for five years, I spent two hours a week immersed in understanding the verb “to be,” numbers, colours and the difference between saying “good evening” and “good night.”

I thought two hours was enough time invested in learning a foreign language. After all, do you know how long two hours are in teen-girl time? Really, really long.

Buen Trabajo! my teachers said, and the grades on my tests were always A-plus. My friends said I was awesome because I let them copy the homework about irregular verbs – completed with the help of a dictionary – or because I taught them how to say besame, kiss me, to their girlfriends. That’s how the nerdy girl who spoke English gets popular.

My English-speaking delusions continued as an adult, thanks to a few trips I made overseas where I was able to read restaurant menus. It wasn’t that hard though, especially if the menu had pictures. I also used to work at a legal firm and, once or twice, I could whisper to my boss the meaning of swear words and expressions that came out of the other angry party’s mouth.

Yep, that used to be me, walking like a queen among Spanish-speaking mortals, just because for brief instances here and there, I was able to understand another language.

“Bring it on, life,” I said. “I can handle whatever you’ve got, I’m a rock star.”

And then I moved to Canada, and life punched me so hard that it knocked me down. Years later, I am still recovering.

Living in a new land, with different people, a new culture, new rules, new weather and language, I was no longer a queen.

Did I speak English?

No, not at all.

So, I went back to school, which wasn’t a bad thing. I still liked learning and I convinced myself that it was a challenge I would conquer in record time. But the reality was different. English was more like a wall in my path, which I hit again and again.

After a while, I felt confident enough to ask for a “sheeeet” instead of “a piece of paper” without being worried that somebody would show me where the toilets were located. More time passed before I decided to apply for a job talking to the public. When I got it, it took all my courage to stop myself from hiding in the washroom during my lunch break, crying, completely overwhelmed and scared.

It hurt. That’s the truth.

Learning English, speaking, listening – it hurt me. Not the language. Not the unkind people, it hurt because I wasn’t good. Despite my efforts, I wasn’t the best.

I’ve been bullied, I’ve been called stupid on the phone and I’ve been at the end of condescending looks while some intolerant person spells a word out that, for a second, I didn’t understand. Those reactions made me shy, which I wasn’t before. They made me afraid of public speaking, which I used to do on a daily basis. I forgot that once I was a fighter.

Now, after almost seven years in Canada, I am better, but I still need to feel more confident about myself.

That is why I’ve made a decision. I’m not going to apologize for my bad English any more or to hide behind my endless learning process. I’m going to chase my dreams of becoming an author and perhaps go back to law school. I’ve decided I’m going to enjoy a beautiful, rich and fascinating language without being ashamed.

So, here I am, a Latin girl with bad grammar, a terrible accent and awful pronunciation. The one who doesn’t understand the difference between on, at, onto, into or any other prepositions, and the one who has accepted that I need to look up the spelling of “definitely” because I never remember how many “Es” the word has.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get frustrated when I order a grilled cheese and the person at the counter asks me how I would like my green tea. Or when I am texting in Spanish to a relative as I’m speaking in English with somebody else and my brain screams, “Give me a break!” Or when I need to stop reading a wonderful book just to find the meaning of a word because the idea of not knowing drives me crazy.

I know it’s going to take a while, but with time, it won’t matter. What will matter is my work on accepting myself – not the perfect person that once I wanted to be but the real me, as simple as I can be.

Johanna Montilla B. is always Lawyer and University Professor, sometimes a writer and Poet. She also loves books, T.V. shows, movies with happy endings and chocolates. Born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Johanna is a believer in new beginnings. In 2012 she, along with her husband and daughter found a new home in Burlington, Canada. She tweets at: @jhmontilla and blogs at: www.poetryandlaw.blogspot.com  
“I thought I knew how to speak English. Then I moved to Canada” was originally published in the Globe and Mail in their “First Person” feature. For information on submitting a personal essay to the Globe and Mail (and to 21 other places), see here.

See Brian’s complete 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.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Spring classes: Introductory, Next Step, and Intensive creative writing, plus Writing Kid Lit: Picture Books to Young Adult Novels


Welcome to Creative Writing
10 weeks of discovering your creative side
Offered in two locales:
Thursday evenings, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
April 16 – June 25, 2020 (No class June 4)
St. Cuthbert’s Anglican Church, 1541 Oakhill Dr, Oakville, Ontario (Map here.)
And
Friday afternoons, 1:15 – 3:15
April 10 – June 19 (No class June 5)
Glenview Church, Bethlehem Room, 1 Glenview Ave,  Toronto, Ontario (Map here.)
This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment. This course will open the door to writing short stories and writing dialogue, writing in first person and writing in third person, writing just for fun and writing all kinds of things. 
You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe setting, where your words will grow and flower.
Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Author Sylvia McNicoll
Writing Kid Lit
~ Picture Books to Young Adult Novels
Thursday afternoons, 12:45 – 2:45
April 16 – June 18 (No class June 4)St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd,  Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
From picture books to young adult novels, this weekly course is accessible for beginners and meaty enough for advanced writers. Through lectures, in-class assignments, homework, and feedback on your writing, we’ll give you ins and outs of writing for younger readers and set you on course toward writing your own books.
We’ll have two published children’s authors as guest speakers: 
Sylvia McNicoll is the author of over thirty books, many of which have garnered awards. Her most recent YA novel, Body Swap, won the 2019 Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction. Crush.candy.corpse was shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis YA Crime Novel of the Year Award, the Red Maple Award, the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award, and the Snow Willow Award, and was selected as one of the Ontario Library Association's Best Bets and Resource Links' Year's Best for 2012. 
Most acclaimed, though, are her three middle grade books about fostering guide dogs:  Bringing Up Beauty, Beauty Returnsand A Different Kind of Beauty which won and were nominated for many children’s choice awards. See the trailer here.
In 2019, Sylvia completed her middle grade series The Great Mistake Mysteries by adding the Diamond Mistake Mystery (see the trailer here). The three earlier books in this series were: The Best Mistake Mystery, The Artsy Mistake Mystery, and The Snake Mystery foreign rights for which were recently sold to Russia.

Author Kira Vermond signing books
Kira Vermond is an award-winning writer with over 1,500 articles to her name. She has been a frequent contributor to the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, CBC and Today's Parent.
Kira is the author of five nonfiction books for young readers {with a sixth on the way}:  Why Don’t Cars Run on Apple Juice (more here); Half-Truths and Brazen Lies, (more here); Why We Live Where We Live (more here); Growing Up: Inside and Out (nominated for on Ontario Library Association Forest of Reading Award); and The Secret Life of Money: A Kid's Guide to Cash (which was my son’s and daughter’s favourite book  the year it came out, although my kids are four years apart). Plus, coming in March 2020: Trending: How and Why Stuff Gets Popular (more here).

Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Next Step in Creative Writing
10 weeks of growth as a writer
Tuesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45
April 14 – June 23 (No class June 9)
First readings emailed April 7
St. Elizabeth's Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Rd,  Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)
The Next Step in Creative Writing is 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 ten weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in five 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.
Fee: $184.96 + 13% hst = $209
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Intensive Creative Writing
13 intense weeks of writing & critiquing
Offered in two locations
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
March 25 – June 24 (No class July 1)
First reading emailed March 18
St. Alban's Church, 537 Main Street, Georgetown, Ontario (in the village of Glen Williams (Map here.)
And
Friday mornings, 10:15 – 12:30
March 27 – June 26 (No class June 5)
First reading emailed March 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 thirteen weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in five pieces of your writing for detailed feedback – including three longer pieces. 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.
Fee: $229.20 + 13% hst = $259
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. Brian is the author of a children’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Tribute Publishing). But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published. 
Read reviews of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

See Brian’s complete 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.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

You're invited to an author reading in Toronto, Sunday, March 29 – to read from your work or just to listen



Author Reading
Sunday, March 29, 2020 
12 noon – 4 p.m.
The Wallace Gastropub, 1954 Yonge St, Toronto (Just north of Davisville. Map here.)

At this reading 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!
Doors open at 12 noon. Arrive for lunch by 12:15, or if you’re just having a drink or coffee and a snack, please arrive by 12:45. But because we’re monopolizing their second floor, you can’t order just a coffee (or they might not want us back). The actual readings will start at about 1:30 and we’ll go to about 3:30 / 3:45 p.m. 
And if you want to read from your own work, email me, and I’ll put you on the roster. (But you must arrange to read in advance; you can’t just show up on the day and hope to read.)
If possible, RSVP as soon as possible and let me know you’re comingbrianhenry@sympatico.ca
I look forward to seeing you all there! ~Brian

Starting soon, there's a whole new round of classes from Introductory to Intensive, plus Writing for Young Audiences starting this spring:
Toronto: Welcome to Creative Writing, April 10 – June 19. No class June 5. Details here.
Oakville: Welcome to Creative Writing, Thursday evenings, April 16 – June 25. No class June 4. Details here.
Burlington: Writing Kid Lit, Thursday afternoon, April 23 – June 25. No class June 4. Details here.
Burlington: Next Step in Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons, April 14 – June 23. First readings emailed April 7. Details here.
Georgetown: Intensive Creative Writing,  Wednesday evenings, March 25 – June 24. First readings emailed March 18. Details here.
Toronto: Intensive Creative Writing, Friday mornings, March 27 – June 26. First readings emailed March 20. Details here.
            Details of all spring courses here.

See Brian’s full 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.