Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Online How to Get Published workshop with literary agent Paige Sisley, Saturday, Nov 27

The Diamond House by Dianne Warren
represented by CookeMcDermid

How to Get Published

An editor & a literary agent tell all

Saturday, November 27, 2021
1:15 – 5:00 p.m. Toronto time
Online and accessible wherever there's Internet

If you've ever dreamed of becoming a published author, this workshop is for you. We’ll focus on the process of submitting to an agent or publisher, and show you exactly how to write a query letter that will get a “yes!” Bring all your questions! Come and get ready to be published!

Special Option: Participants are invited to prepare a draft of a query letter you might use to interest an agent or publisher in your book. You don't need to prepare anything, but if you like, email me a draft of your query prior to our workshop. Paige and I will critique several queries, perhaps half a dozen, so everyone can see what works, what doesn’t and how to improve your query. Do remember that agents come to these events wanting to hear what you’ve got and hoping to find authors they want to represent.

Guest speaker, Paige Sisley, is a literary agent with the CookeMcDermid agency.  

CookeMcDermid represents more than 300 writers, among them Man Booker nominees, Giller and Governor General’s award–winning authors, prize-winning journalists, New York Times bestsellers, international authorities in their field, and some of the literary world’s most notable names. 

Clients include Jen Agg, Omar el Akkad, Michael Crummey, Cherie Dimaline, Robyn Doolittle, John Irving, Rupi Kaur, Scaachi Koul, Karen Le Billon, Geddy Lee, Robert Munsch, Maye Musk, Alison Pick, Nino Ricci, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Jeff VanderMeer, and Jesse Wente.

Paige joined CookeMcDermid (then The Cooke Agency) in June 2013 following an internship. Paige has her Master of Arts from Ryerson University's Literatures of Modernity program and a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of King's College and Dalhousie.

Paige is currently building her list as a keen and market-focused reader. When it comes to fiction she is looking for smart, well-written commercial novels that both entertain and have something to say (e.g. Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies and Eliza Kennedy’s I Take You). She’s seeking books that can compete with Netflix for people’s time, but that someone like Reese Witherspoon might in turn be interested in adapting for Netflix.

Paige also represents nonfiction books in the lifestyle and health and wellness space. In both categories, Paige is attracted to books that enhance lives, either through a practical application or by shifting and expanding their reader’s worldview.

When Paige’s head isn’t in a book you can find her baking, at a concert, or simply watching the world go by in her busy downtown Toronto neighborhood. A born and bred Torontonian, Paige loves to travel and has also lived in LA, a sleepy New Zealand surf town, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

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 Windsor to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.    

See reviews of Brian's classes and workshops here.

Fee: $43.36 + 13% hst = $49 paid in advance by mail or Interac

To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.


Monday, September 27, 2021

“Rescuing Rusty” by Connie Taylor


I hated her. I hated her until I wanted to kill her. Listen, I’m a nice guy, but my wife is Wicked Witch Wanda. She had the money, I had the charm.

Now, she’d stopped my allowance.

“What are you doing today, Jackson?” she asked, peeking over her newspaper.

We didn’t talk much these days. In fact, I was rather pissed at her. She hated it when I didn’t talk to her. She was thirty years older than me, richer than God. Did she think I was here for wrinkles and red hats? Jesus.

“I’m not doing much today,” I responded, refusing to make eye contact with her over the sports section. She hated that too. Good! She could rot in hell. Cutting off my allowance. Reneging on the promises she’d made me. Come on. What the hell did she think this was? True love?

I cut up a piece of breakfast sausage, held it under the table for Rusty. My dog was the only thing I liked in this bloody house.

I waited. No Rusty. In fact, I hadn’t seen him this morning.

“Oh,” Wanda said. “Rusty isn’t here.”

“I can see that.” She knew I loved my dog. Rusty and I had been through thick and thin. When my first wife died of cancer and I’d lost everything I owned, Rusty had been there. When I had to live in my car for a year, Rusty had been there. For everything that mattered, Rusty had been there.

“Rusty’s not coming back,” Wanda said. She actually sounded happy about it.

“What?” I glared at her across the table.

“Well, look who’s giving me his full attention. It’s about time,” she whined. The type of whine only a born-rich debutante who’s never endured any significant suffering in life can whine. “I deserve respect.”

“Yeah. We all deserve a lot of things, Princess and I deserve my dog. Why are you being such a bi…”

“Stop it, Jackson! Your precious Rusty can come back. As soon as you come back to my bedroom and do what you’re paid to do.”

“I haven’t been getting paid lately,” I said. “So I’m not particularly motivated.”

“Well, Dearest, I thought that might be a problem.” She pulled a wad of bills from her pocket and threw them at me. I caught them with one hand, started counting the bills. Generous. This was about a month’s worth of generous. “Tonight. My bedroom,” she demanded. “Eight p.m. and you’ll have your dog back tomorrow. Otherwise, I don’t think poor Rusty will survive.”

I felt my face heat up. What a bitch. Damn it. I had done this to myself. To Rusty. Things needed to change. Today.

I stalked out of the house without saying another word. I knew where Rusty was. Wanda thought I was stupid. I wasn’t. Gloria, her housekeeper, had Rusty stashed at her apartment in Glenview. As I drove away from the house, I figured Wanda would be having her one allotted cigarette in about ten minutes. I hated smoking, but today, it was going to change my life. I felt a great sense of satisfaction. Thank god for gas leaks. Especially the ones that looked accidental.

I’d just reached the road when the house exploded in a huge ball of fire. Wanda had her cigarette early I guess. I smiled. My wife was literally toast. I slammed the brakes, skidded to a stop as neighbours came running. Time to act sad. Time to go through the grieving husband routine. After that, me, Rusty and Gloria were going to live happily ever after -- Anywhere else but here.


Connie Taylor is an Operations Manager by day, a writer and reader by night. Her writing aspirations began in grade school with her heroine, Pantoulia, who leapt over football fields of fire. She’s contributed to the Journal of Integrated Studies and the Fifty Word Stories website. She enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction stories.

“Rescuing Rusty” was originally written as an assignment for one of Brian Henry’s writing classes and was previously published on Close to the Bone. For information on submitting to Close to the Bone {and a few other places} see here.

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Evolving schedule of writing classes, workshops, and retreats


September ~ Still space in one weekly class:

In-Person: Writing Personal Stories, 9 weeks of creativity and companionship in a very small, intimate class. Wednesday evenings, Sept 29 – Nov 24, in Burlington. Details here.


Online: Writing for Children and for Young Adults, Saturday, Oct 2, with guest Anne Shone, executive editor, Scholastic Books (see here). ~ full, but still space in the Nov 14 kid lit workshop 

Online: How to Write Great Characters, Saturday, Oct 16. Details here.


Online: Writing for Children and for Young Adults, Sunday, Nov 14, with guest Katie Hearn, editorial director, Annick Press (see here).   

Online: How to Get Published, Saturday, Nov 27, with guest, literary agent Paige Sisley. Details here.

Writing Retreats:

Neighbourhood fox at Arowhon Pines Resort

Lake Joseph in Muskoka: Writing Retreat at Sherwood Inn Resort.  Friday, Oct 23 – Monday, Oct 25.   Details here~ Full, but still space in our upcoming retreats.

Jackson's Point on Lake Simcoe: Writing Retreat at The Briars Resort and Spa.  Get away to this modern lakeside resort built around a historic country estate.  Friday, March 4 – Monday, March 7, 2022. Details to come.
     But to reserve your spot, email:

Algonquin Park: Writing Retreat at Arowhon Pines Resort, June 3 – June 6, 2022. Join us for a weekend of creativity and fine dining in the midst of the Algonquin wilderness. Details here.

To reserve a spot or for more details about any course, workshop or retreat, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Saturday, September 25, 2021

“What a Car!” by Carolyn Wilker



A car pulled into the driveway, tires crunching in the snow that crisp January evening. Its headlamps lit up my bedroom window, but since I wasn’t expecting any company, I paid no attention. I heard the car door close, and soon after the doorbell rang.

My landlady called upstairs and said that I had a visitor.

Who it could be?

There was Dad with a huge grin on his face, a sparkle in his blue eyes, and a set of keys in his hand.

I didn’t expect to see my father that night – and much less did I expect him to be there with a car for me to test drive.

“I made a deal at Elliot’s today,” he said. “Thought you’d like to see it.”

On the weekend, we had talked about the possibility of trading my trusty Corvair for another car, but I hadn’t expected anything this soon.

“Want to go for a drive?” he said.

Of course, I wanted to drive it! I ran up the stairs and pulled on my winter coat, taking a quick look out the window as I put it on. Under the reflection of my landlady’s outdoor light was a ’68 lemon yellow Camaro. Whooee!

I hurried down the stairs and out the door to where Dad waited, keys in hand.

I got in, readjusted the seat, rearview mirror, and side mirrors, and off we went for a drive around Waterloo.

“Do you like it?” he asked. “Is it a good fit?”

I agreed on both counts. I liked it very much.

When we returned to my landlady’s home, we sat in the car and talked about how much it would cost and how soon I could have it. One thing was for certain, I’d have to get a loan from the bank. Dad was willing to co-sign. All he needed was my approval and he could complete the deal. We would make the appointment at the bank the next week.


I had been driving a silver 1960 Corvair that once belonged to my grandfather Ted. My parents bought it from him when he decided to move to Florida. The Corvair had taken me safely and reliably to my weekend job at the nursing home during my last year of college, and then on the commute to Waterloo, where I boarded while working in a day care centre.

The Corvair was an experiment, with its engine in the back, and the trunk under the front hood. Ralph Nader had criticized General Motors soundly for it, but as it had been for my grandfather, the Corvair was a good little car that delivered a smooth ride. Its seat was just right for my short stature as it had been for my grandfather.

Grandpa Ted had always driven slowly down the freshly gravelled country roads so the car wouldn’t get stone chipped; its body was still in excellent shape. Dad said that it might run awhile yet, but sooner or later it would require some new parts and getting parts would be an issue, since the car was no longer being made. My favour, once set on the Corvair, was shifting rather quickly to the sporty Camaro, both for its appearance and for the practical reasons that Dad had explained.

The Camaro had just been traded in by a priest, who had purchased a brand new vehicle. The lack of stone chips on its shiny fenders and hood meant that the priest had treated the car with as much care as my grandfather had with the Corvair. The interior was clean and the upholstery looked like new. The Camaro was set low and the seat was easily adjusted. I felt like a queen behind the wheel, even if my bank book didn’t reveal a queen’s pay.

Dad and Mom said they’d cover the down payment temporarily, but I’d have to pay it back by March, so they could buy fertilizer for spring planting. I’d also need new snow tires to navigate the country roads. I was getting poorer by the minute and I hadn’t yet paid a cent for the car. Of course, I still wanted it. It was a dream car.

Dad drove the Camaro home that night and closed the deal the next day. I drove home for the weekend in my soon-to-be-retired Corvair, and Dad gave me lessons on changing tires, testing spark plugs, checking the oil level, and knowing when to add oil, as he had when I first drove the Corvair.

On Monday, after a trip to the bank, and an offer from the manager to work there, I left for the day care centre. When I drove into the parking lot, Penny, a fellow teacher, was out supervising children in the playground area. She whistled as I got out of the Camaro and approached the gate.

“Where’s the fancy clothes to match the car?” she asked, with a cheerful grin.

“Spent it all on the car,” I said, and I had.

Dodge Dart Swinger
I took good care of my lemon yellow Camaro, gave it regular maintenance, and far from the notion of cars being lemons, it proved reliable and took me many miles safely and in style.

It eventually needed a paint job, after someone backed into it in a parking lot at another day care centre. The driver had mistaken the Camaro for a snow bank on a dark winter morning. The supervisor, arriving in daylight, noticed the dent in my car. The parent admitted to his error and offered to pay for the repair and paint job, and I had it painted the same lemon yellow as before. The colour reminded me of sunshine – a particularly cheering sight on a gloomy day.

My future husband noticed me driving this car, so I suppose it was good for more than taking me places in style. We continued to drive the Camaro after he sold his fancy, gas-guzzling purple Swinger. 

When our first child was born, she had to ride in her baby seat up front, since her car seat didn’t work on the narrow back bench. About the same time, my car showed signs of rust, and so we agreed it needed to be patched and painted. I loved the lemon yellow and only grudgingly let my car be painted an electric blue. That wasn’t as painful as the white hood stripes and the wire trim that my husband said would suit it. He must have been missing his Swinger more than he let on.

We had barely brought the car home with its new paint job, when our neighbour, Larry, came across the street and offered to buy it. I was glad he liked it so much, because I didn’t. Those white hood stripes and wire trim had turned my car into something foreign. We made the deal with our neighbour, and we went out that week and bought our first family car – a station wagon.

But I always remember the first real car that I bought with my own money: a sporty, lemon yellow Camaro that turned heads when I drove by.


Carolyn Wilker is an author, editor, and storyteller from Kitchener, Ontario.  She blogs at https://www.storygal.ca/

See Brian Henry’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Online Writing Kid Lit workshop with Katie Hearn, editorial director, Annick Press, Sunday, Nov 14

Wolf's Curse a YA novel by Kelley Armstrong,
a NYT #1 bestselling author
and one of Brian's students

Writing for Children and for Young Adults

   ~ The world’s hottest market

With Annick Press editorial director

   ~ Katie Hearn

Sunday, November 14, 2021
1:15 – 5:00 p.m.
Online via Zoom and accessible wherever there’s Internet

If you want to write the next best-selling children’s books or just want to create stories for your own kids, this workshop is for you. Learn how to write stories kids and young adults will love and find out what you need to know to sell your book. Be sure to bring all your questions – we'll have lots of time for interaction.

Special option: Participants are invited to submit the opening couple pages (first 500 words) of your children’s book or young adult novel (or up to 1,000 words if that gets you to the end of your picture book or to the end of your first chapter). Email your pages to me prior to our workshop. We want to do some peer critiquing for everyone, and Katie and I will publicly critique half a dozen submissions so everyone can see what works, what doesn’t, and how to improve your story-telling. If you’re not currently working on a children’s story, don’t worry, we’ll get you started! ~Brian

Guest speaker Katie Hearn is the editorial director at Annick Press. Annick publishes fiction and nonfiction for children of all ages, including board books, picture books, early readers, middle grade, and young adult.

Annick is perhaps best known for classic picture books, including Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess and Kathy Stinson’s Red is Best.

Annick’s middle grade nonfiction titles cover a wide range of topics, from personal stories such as Fatty Legs, by Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton & Christy Jordan-Fenton, to fact-filled science books such as Why Does My Shadow Follow Me and Why Don’t Cars Run on Apple Juice by Kira Vermond.

Annick is also proud to publish award-winning young adult titles that speak to the complex issues young people deal with every day, including Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugess, #NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American WomenFire Song, and Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic: A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum.

As editorial director, Katie’s responsibilities include overseeing the acquisition and development of Annick's publishing program, which consists of 20–25 new titles a year. She also acquires and edits select titles in a wide range of formatsPrior to her time at Annick, Katie worked in both educational and adult trade publishing. 

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor, author, and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers and is the author of a children’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Tribute Publishing Inc). But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published.

Read reviews of Brian’s classes and workshops here.

Fee: $43.36 + 13% hst = $49 paid in advance by mail or Interac

To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See all of Brian’s upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and weekend retreats here.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Kids Can Press seeks Picture Books, Nonfiction, and Early Fiction

What if Bunny's Not a Bully by Lana Button,
illustrations by Christine Battuz, published by Kids Can

Kids Can Press

25 Dockside Drive
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5A 0B5


Kids Can Press publishes picture books and fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for young readers. It’s been around since 1973 and is the  home of beloved, best-selling series such as Franklin the Turtle, Scaredy Squirrel and CitizenKid.

Currently Kids Can is seeking:

Non-rhyming picture books for ages 3 5, 3–7, and 4–8  

Nonfiction for ages 5–8, 7–10, 8–12, and 10–14

Early fiction for ages 6–9

Graphic novels (fiction and nonfiction) for all ages.

They especially like funny, genuine, thoughtful, heartfelt and clever approaches to all sorts of stories and subjects. {Or any combination of those qualities}. That goes for nonfiction, too, with particular interest inhSTEM/STEAM, global citizenship and awareness, and the environment.

Submit by mail to Acquisitions:

For picture books: send the entire manuscript (and remember, no rhyming!) 

For nonfiction: outline + 2–3 sample chapters/sections
For fiction: synopsis, outline + 3 sample chapters
For graphic novels (whether fiction or nonfiction): synopsis and/or outline + 3 sample chapters

Full submission guidelines hereIllustrator guidelines here.

Literary agent Olga Filina

If you’re interested in meeting an agent and in getting published, don’t miss our online How to Get Published workshop with literary agent Olga Filina of 5 Otter Literary, Saturday, Sept 25. Details here.

If you’re interested in writing for children or for young adults, don’t miss out Kid Lit workshop Sunday, Nov 14, with guest Katie Hearn,  editorial director, Annick Press. Details here.

Beyond that, Brian Henry’s schedule continues to take shape...

September ~ Weekly classes ~ Still space in one class:

In-Person: Writing Personal Stories, 9 weeks of creativity and companionship. Wednesday evenings, Sept 29 – Nov 24, in Burlington. Details here.


Online: Writing for Children and for Young Adults,  Saturday, Oct 2, with guest Anne Shone, executive editor, Scholastic Books (see here– This workshop is full.  

Online: How to Write Great Characters, Saturday, Oct 16. Details here.

Writing Retreats:

Algonquin Park: Writing Retreat at Arowhon Pines Resort, Friday, June 3 – Monday, June 6, 2022. Details here.

Jackson’s Point on Lake Simcoe: Writing retreat at The Briars Friday, March 4 – Monday, March 7 – to be confirmed. But if you’re interested, let me know.

Email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca


Navigation tips: Always check out the Labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. For more children’s and young adult publishers, see here {and scroll down}. For book publishers in general, see here {and scroll down}