Saturday, August 8, 2020

Post-lockdown schedule for writing workshops and retreats continues to change

Fox kits in Algonquin Park
The pandemic turned my schedule upside down, and it continues to evolve. Here's what it looks like now:

August
Online: "Psst  here's how to write great dialogue," Saturday, August 15. Details here.
Online: How to Make Yourself Write,"  Saturday, Aug 22.  Details here.

August and September
Algonquin Park Writing RetreatsJoin me for a magical weekend at Arowhon Pines Resort, an outpost of luxury in the middle of the wilderness,  for a writing retreat. Two more sessions:  Friday, Aug 28 – Monday, Aug 31 (see  here) and Labour Day weekend, Friday, Sept 4 – Monday, Sept 7 (see here).
Mississauga: Writing for Children and for Young Adults with Anne Shone, Executive Editor, Scholastic Books, Saturday, September 12. Details here.
Burlington: Raising the Stakes: How to increase your story's tension, Saturday, September 26. Details here.

For information on weekly writing classes starting in September, see here

Paige Sisley en route to our 2018 workshop
in Collingwood
October
Toronto: How to Get Published with Evan Brown of Transatlantic Literary Agency, Saturday, Oct 3. Details here.
Guelph: How to Get Published with literary agent Paige Sisley of CookeMcDermid, Saturday, Oct 24. Details here.
Online: How to Write Great CharactersSaturday, Oct 31. Come in costume.  Details here.

November
Jackson's Point: Writing Retreat at the Briar's Resort on Lake Simcoe, Friday, Nov 13  Monday, Nov 16. Details here.

See Brian’s complete current 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.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Revolutionary Road by Robert Yates reviewed by Jennifer Reichow


Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1961. Paperback available at Chapters/Indigo, $19.27, here.  

Great literature is always relevant.  The oldest known fictional story, created 4,700 years ago, is an adventure-filled mythic poem centred on a king, Glilgamesh, who goes on a classic hero’s journey. It's worthy of any bestsellers list. As long as it’s a good, there will always be readers, no matter a story’s age or origins.
We are story-loving creatures.  Long before there were computers that allowed a writer to spell-check a whole manuscript in minutes, there were cave dwellers recording their lives on cave walls.   People told stories around the hearths, handing down stories from generation to generation. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians carved their stories into their buildings. 
As time marched on, we developed better ways to write and circulate writing to the public.  We still love the stories of the ancients and handed-down tales that are the basis of our modern fairy tales.  The themes and characters of those stories engage the imagination just as easily today as they did thousands of years ago.  The epic poems of Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey, still inspire readers and writers today, as do the works of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Dickens, Twain, Austen, and Dostoyevsky, to name a few. 
It doesn’t always follow that a classic story will appeal to every reader, but there’s a reason they became classic.
In this spirit, I read the Revolutionary  Road by Robert Yates.  First published in 1961, the novel was adapted into a two-thumbs up film in 2008, starring movie power couple Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.  The movie propelled the novel into renewed fame.  I found it on Stephen King’s book list.  
I hadn’t seen the movie, so I could approach the novel with no preconceived ideas other than the expectation of it being educational, entertaining and influential, as recommended by King.
A few pages into the book and I tossed it aside, doubting King’s taste. The primary characters, April and Frank Wheeler, were unsympathetic and immature.  I continued reading only because I enjoyed Yate’s use of language.  It sure wasn’t because of the characters.  Further on into the book, it felt like a typical soap opera.  Melodrama at its finest with love/hate relationships, arguments, unrequited love, sexual tension, extensive alcohol intake, an inmate from a mental hospital, adultery, and misunderstandings the average child could resolve.  
Then it grew uncomfortable. Yates found my soft underbelly.  I am no different from the characters in Revolutionary Road. 
Robert Yates in 1960
In the novel, April Wheeler desires to escape her empty, hollow suburban life and reinvent her family by moving to Paris.  While not as miserable as April, I too once felt as if I were running on a hamster wheel, everything the same and no expectation of change.  It took a lot of courage and time, but unlike the Wheelers, I fulfilled my dream of reinvention. I quit my job and moved across the country to begin the next phase of my life.
With this realization, I discovered I had sympathy for the characters and could easily empathize with their misery. Most readers will commiserate with the Wheelers, just as we can understand Achilles’ anger and pride in The Iliad, the sorrow and guilt of Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet or Robert Langdon’s search for the truth in The DaVinci Code.
I am inspired now to return to novels I read years ago and did not appreciate. It’s likely that I needed some maturity to understand those stories. I will continue on with suggested readings whether the recommended book this week’s #1 New York Times bestseller list or the 400-year-old Don Quixote. What drives humanity hasn’t changed in all the years we’ve been telling stories. A well-written book will always be worth reading. 
***
Note: Quick Brown Fox welcomes your 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). Read about how to write a book review here.
QBF also welcomes essays about a favourite book or about your experience of reading or writing. To get a taste of what other writers have done, see 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. 

Jennifer Reichow knew as a child she was going to university and be a writer. As so often happens, life interrupted her plan. But now that she’s just retired from a fulfilling nursing career, she’s realizing her dream of becoming a writer. It feels like coming home.

See Brian Henry's schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly online writing classes, and weekend retreats in Alliston, 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.


Thursday, August 6, 2020

November at the Briars Writing Retreat



November at the Briars Writing Retreat
Friday, November 13 – Monday, November 16, 2020
The Briars Resort & Spa on Lake Simcoe
55 Hedge Road, Jackson’s Point, Ontario, Canada (Map 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! So that we can maintain physical distancing, we'll have fewer people at the retreat this year, so it will be a more intimate experience and participants will have more opportunity for one-on-one coaching with Brian. Under current rules, masks will also be mandatory, except while eating and drinking. 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, though that’s extra, and you book these directly with the resort {not through Brian}. The golf course will be closed for the season, unless we have a truly miraculous fall. 

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 Henry's complete schedule hereincluding online and in-person 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, 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, August 5, 2020

Four places that pay for your short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, plus a contest for flash ficition


HorrorTree.com is currently looking for contributions to:
When Robots Dream, “the ultimate collection of robotic art and stories.” Seeking flash prose, poetry, short fiction, illustration, drawings, sculpture, mixed media, digital, etc. Contributors will receive a copy of the 9” x 12” full-colour book. Deadline August 14, 2020.
The winter issue of The Wire’s Dream Magazine seeks fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry art, photography, and combined work. Pays $5. Current deadline Sept 1, 2020. Submission period for summer issue: March 2 – April 30.
Mystery & Horror, L.L.C., an annual collection of funny paranormal stories – HorrorTree’ flagship publication.  Length: 2,000–5,000 words. Pays $5US. Deadline Aug 31, 2020. Submit to: mysteryandhorrorllc@gmail.com with “Strangely Funny” in the subject line.
Water: Selkies, Sirens and Sea Monsters, an anthology of stories about magical beings associated with water. Pays $50Cdn for fiction under 7,500 words; $20Cdn for poetry. Deadline Sept 30. Submit here.
Full details for all projects here.

Hi, Brian.
Got a great short-short story? Consider entering our 12th annual Flash Fiction Contest for the chance to win $1,000 and online publication. Maximum length is 1,000 words. We are open to any topic or style. The entry fee is $6.
Deadline: August 31. Contest details here.
Just want to read? All 60+ previous winners/finalists going back to 2009 may be read here.
The results of our Short Story Contest have been delayed due to the illness and death of a family member, and will be published online in August. Apologies for the delay. We have read many exciting entries so far.
No-fee general submissions remain open year round.
Peace, and be well!
David Bright

Westerly magazine seeks short stories, poetry, memoir and creative nonfiction, essays and literary criticism. Pays: Poems: $120 for one poem or $150 for two or more poems; Stories: $180; Articles: $180; Visual art/Intro essay: $120; Reviews: $100; Online Publication: $100. "We expect our contributors to be subscribers of the Magazine. While we will accept submissions from non-subscribers, should your work be accepted for publication in this instance, you will be asked to accept a subscription to the Magazine as part payment for your work." 
Deadline: August 31, 2020. Full submission guidelines here.

Split Lip Magazine seeks flash fiction, short stories, memoirs, and poetry with a pop-culture twist. Pays $50 per author (via PayPal) for web issues. Payment for print is $5 per page, minimum of $20, plus 2 contributor copies and a 1-year subscription. 
Deadline: September 30, 2020. Note: Submit early to avoid submission fees. Guidelines here.

Chicken Soup for the Soul always has new books in development.
A Chicken Soup for the Soul story is an inspirational, true story about ordinary people having extraordinary experiences. It is a story that opens the heart and rekindles the spirit. It is a simple piece that touches our readers and helps them discover basic principles they can use in their own lives. These stories are personal and often filled with emotion and drama. They are filled with vivid images created by using the five senses. In some stories, the readers feel that they are actually in the scene with the people.
Chicken Soup for the Soul stories are written in the first person and have a beginning, middle and an end. The stories often close with a punch, creating emotion, rather than simply talking about it.
Here’s what they’re currently looking for:
Miracles, Amazing Coincidences & the Unexplainable
While the book is tentatively titled Miracles & Divine Intervention, we do not intend for this book to be for religious readers only. It is for everyone who loves to hear about miracles, amazing coincidences, and the mysterious and unexplainable good things that can happen to us.
Based on the submissions we have received we realized that many people thought we only wanted religious stories. Not the case! Please submit all your cool stories about those miraculous good things that happen in our lives.
We want your stories to make people say “wow" and give them chills. Covid-19/lockdown stories are welcome, too. We are all living through this together and if something miraculous occurred related to the disease or the lockdown or the financial impact of Covid, our readers will be very interested.
Deadline: August 31, 2020.
Submit through their online submissions form here.
Upcoming:
Making Me Time and Taking Care of Yourself. Deadline September 30, 2020.
Tough Times. Deadline October 31, 2020.
Cats. Deadline November 30, 2020.
Angels. Deadline December 15, 2020.
Eldercare. Deadline January 30, 2021.
Counting Your Blessings. Deadline February 28, 2021.
Full guidelines here.

See Brian Henry's schedule hereincluding online and in-person 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, 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, August 4, 2020

Online course for adults: Writing Kid Lit – Picture Books to Young Adult Novels, Sept 24 – Nov 19

The Calling a YA novel by Kelley Armstrong
a New York Times #1 bestselling author
and one of Brian's students
Writing Kid Lit
Picture Books to Young Adult Novels
Thursday evenings, 7 – 9 p.m.
September 24 – November 26, 2020 {no class Nov 12}
Offered online and accessible from anywhere there's internet 
Note: “Welcome to Creative Writing” is also on offer this fall. See here.

 This course is for adults {or teens} interested in writing picture books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade books, or Young Adult novels. This 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:


Guest speaker Jennifer Mook-Sang grew up in Guyana and moved to Canada when she was fourteen. While reading bedtime stories to her two sons, she fell in love with picture books and decided to write one of her own. In one of Brian Henry's classes she found the beginnings of a story. That story grew into the humorous middle-grade novel Speechless, published by Scholastic Canada.
Speechless won the Surrey Schools Book of the Year Award, was shortlisted for many others, and was recommended by the Ontario Library Association, the Canadian Childrens’ Book Centre, the CBC, and the TD Summer Reading Club. 
Since then, Jennifer has also published a picture book, Captain Monty Takes the Plunge, with Kids Can Press. Captain Monty is the boldest, stinkiest pirate to sail the six or seven seas; in fact, he’s never had a bath. Naturally, the Junior Library Guild immediately selected him for its fall list of recommended books; it was short-listed for the Rainforest of Reading Award; and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre put it on its best books of the year list.
Jennifer has discovered another facet of being a children's author: she's traveled across Canada speaking to hordes of kids about her writing journey; encouraging them to read, write, and revise. Who knew that Brian's nudging to read aloud to the class would come in so handy someday?
Jennifer lives in Burlington, Ontario. You can find out more about her here. 
Speechless is available online here. And Captain Monty Takes the Plunge is available here. And of course they’re both available in book stores everywhere.
  
Kira Vermond is an award-winning writer with over 2,000 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 six nonfiction books for young readers: Trending: How and Why Stuff Gets Popular (more here)  Why Don’t Cars Run on Apple Juice (more here); Half-Truths and Brazen Lies, (more here); Why We Live Where We Live (more hereGrowing 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 2021, Why Does My Shadow Follow Me?


Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199
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 current schedule hereincluding writing workshops, weekly online writing classes, and weekend retreats in, Alliston, 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.