Thursday, July 30, 2009

“In the Cards,” Lori Simeunovic

“Tarot 911,” I recited, “where dreams are told and wishes realized. This is Desiree, what is your question today?” I spoke slowly, the better to rack up precious minutes and fill my quota.

“Um, hi,” a young woman’s voice breathed in my ear. “I have a question? About a guy?”

I automatically flipped to the red tab (‘romance’) in my “consultant” binder and started shuffling a deck of playing cards near my mouth piece.

“Okay,” I said as I scanned the page before me. “The two of hearts has come up, indicating a new relationship.” I paused. “Or perhaps one that recently ended…”

My binder had been provided by the owners, a couple from New Jersey with sketchy morals and questionable credentials (as if one could even have credentials in such a venture).

The caller jumped in where I’d left off, just like she was supposed to. “Yes! I’ve just started seeing David…”

My heart clenched like it always did when I heard that name. Why couldn’t I have married a Denzel, or a Sigmund?

“I’m wondering if he’s ‘the one,’” She was still babbling, just like they all did, eager to provide all of the necessary information required to get the answers that they craved.

“We actually met when he was still married? So he doesn’t want to jump into something serious even though he’s been separated for, like, months.”

My headset suddenly felt too tight, my cubicle too constricting. “His, err, wife…”

“Ex-wife,” she interrupted.

“Right. Whatever. I’m, uh, sensing her name begins with an…S?”

“Yes!” she exclaimed. “It’s Sara! And she’s a total nut job, too. She’s, like, practically a stalker.”

“Really?” I asked, my tongue suddenly like sandpaper against my teeth. I took a quick sip of my Big Gulp. “The cards show him to be rather tall, with dark hair…” Okay, it was time to stop messing around, “… and he works with animals.”
“OMIGOD!” she bellowed into my ear. “That’s amazing! How did you see…?”

“It’s all in the cards,” I answered in a stronger voice. “He’s coming through very clearly.” So clearly I could punch him, I thought in disgust. If it wasn’t for that douche bag, I wouldn’t be here. I didn’t even get to keep the damn cat.

“So, um, what was your name again?” I inquired. “Sherene.”
Of course.

“Well, Sherene,” I said, as the perfect plan suddenly struck me. “I have good news and I have bad news.”

“Oh no,” she moaned. “I knew he was too good to be true.”

“You’re half right,” I assured her. “Only it’s you who’s too good for him.”

“I don’t understand,” she replied.

Oh, but you will, I thought, closing the binder and leaning back in my chair.

“Let me tell you a little bit about Dr. Dave…”


Lori Simeunovic is currently waking daily at 4:30 a.m. in an attempt to finish her first novel while simultaneously raising two young children and working full time. She is probably napping at her desk as you read this.

Photo: Lori with one of her children, Maia, aged 2 (going on 27).

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Today’s Parent

Today's Parent
One Mount Pleasant Road
8th floorToronto, Ontario
Canada M4Y 2Y5

Today's Parent is a consumer magazine for parents with children up to the age of 14. The circulation is approximately 215,000. There are 12 issues per year.

The magazine relies on freelancers for its content and is a good market both for experienced writers and newcomers.

Departments Assigned to Freelancers

Your Turn (every issue): a first–person forum for parents to share their experiences. Please note that we prefer to reserve this column for our readers (i.e., beginners) rather than professional writers. (650 words; $200). Submit complete article to Your Turn: For all other departments, query first.

Mom Time (every issue): recognizes that mothers are women, too, and deals with topics not directly related to parenting, including health, fitness, wellness, relationships, beauty and fashion. (1,200 words; $1,200)

Education (every issue, except possibly July and August): tackles both straightforward subjects – helping with homework, field trips – and controversial or complex topics such as French immersion or phonics vs. whole language. The writer should avoid taking an academic or politicized approach. Education issues (e.g. standardized testing, public vs. private schools) are also occasionally covered in feature articles. (1,200 words; $1,200)

Health (every issue): deals with common health issues affecting children – how to take a temperature, common baby ailments, ear infections – but also includes some investigative topics (e.g. are parents overusing the hospital ER?) The tone should be helpful, not alarmist. Health issues (including controversial ones) are also occasionally covered in feature articles. (1,200 words; $1,200)

Behaviour (semi–regular): focuses on child development and discipline. Again, experiences or problems common to many families are preferable to extreme cases. We're looking for a supportive, constructive tone that acknowledges a variety of parenting styles. (1,200 words; $1,200)

Several departments are written by regular contributors and are not open to freelancers. These include Uncommon Sense, Nutrition, Cooking With Kids and Steps and Stages.

Today's Parent runs features of varying lengths in each issue, with a balance between the practical and the reflective, the light–hearted and the investigative. All articles should be grounded in the reality of Canadian family life. Without claiming to know all the answers, we try to leave the reader with a sense of positive direction.

Feature topics can include such diverse stories as the evolving role of fathers, choosing the discipline technique that's right for your child, dealing with picky eaters, postpartum depression, returning to work, sex after childbirth, birthday party ideas, surrogate motherhood and child poverty. With some topics, the writer's personal experience as a parent adds a rich layer to the storytelling.

Word length and fees vary depending on the length complexity of the story – usually 1,500 to 2,500 words, $1,500 to $2,500.

How to Submit Queries
Please do not telephone queries. Send a detailed proposal by e-mail, mail or fax rather than a completed manuscript (except for Your Turn). If it's your first contact with us, enclose samples of previously published work. Queries should have a specific hook, not just a subject area (e.g. the pros and cons of the family bed, not just "kids' sleep") and should have wide appeal for a national audience (camping in New Brunswick is too local; coping with cystic fibrosis too specialized). Please indicate the word length you consider appropriate for the story. Please note that if we are interested in your story idea, we will contact you within six weeks.

Because we promote ourselves as a Canadian magazine, we favour Canadian writers.

Email queries to: E-mail:

Full submission guidelines available here, inclduing guidelines for Today's Parent siste publications, Pregnancy & Birth and Baby & Toddler.

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Electric Literature anthology

Electric Literature
325 Gold St.
Suite 303,
Brooklyn NY 11201.

We are a bi-monthly anthology of short fiction. We select stories charged with wit and emotional gravity right from the first sentence. You choose how you want to read them. We deliver content in every viable medium: paperback, Kindle, eBook, iPhone and iPod.

If you have a story you would like us to consider for Electric Literature, send it our way. But before you submit your work, please purchase a copy to familiarize yourself with the publication. First issue available now.

Payment: Every other month, we select five stories for publication. Each writer receives $1,000. This is a payment, not a prize. We value writing, we know how hard it is, and we believe writers are entitled to fair compensation.

No Cover Letters: We don't need to see your resume. All we care about is the story.

Grab Us: We are looking for work with a strong voice which hooks us in the first paragraph and doesn't let go until the final sentence.

Electric Literature accepts fiction only. Length should be between 500 and 7,000 words.

Submissions info here.
Submissions are welcome all year long. Simultaneous submissions are fine.

Note: For information about writing workshops and courses with Brian Henry see here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Creating Suspense," Dunnville

The Dunnville Area Writers’ Group presents…
“Writing a Page-turner”

Thursday, August 20
7 – 9 p.m.
Dunnville Community Theatre,
101 Main St. E, 2nd floor, Dunnville (Map here.)

Ever stayed up all night reading a book? This seminar will show you how to build that kind of tension. And we'll help you put into practice the techniques professionals use - on every page and in every kind of story - to create drama and tension.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for 25 years. (More about the instructor here: here.)

Fee: free!

But please register in advance, email Brian Henry:

About the Dunnville Area Writers

DAWG is a new writers’ group that offers writers a supportive environment to help one another work on independent projects. In addition to positive support and critique sessions, writers will learn to stretch their abilities from the valuable insights of guest speakers and focused workshops.

Hosting workshops and having guest speakers is one way that group organizer, Donna Blanke, hopes to help with the development of aspiring – and inspiring – area writers. "I'm committed to giving writing enthusiasts a hand with the confidence to take that first step to publication faster than I did.”

Membership to the writing group is free. DAWG currently has ten members, but Blanke says there's room for everyone interested. “More members means we can form subgroups for focused genre and styles." Only two meetings have been held so far, and already a playwriting and scriptwriting subgroup is set to begin this month.

Meetings, workshops and guest speakers are held at the Dunnville Community Theatre, located at the corners of Main and Cedar, on the second floor of the Optimist Hall. All writers are encouraged to attend: from novice to professional, including folks exploring the idea of perhaps beginning to write.
For additional information, please contact Donna Blanke:
Photo: The Town of Dunnville is on the Grand River, just north of where the Grand empties into Lake Erie. Click on the photo to see it in larger format – it's an incredible shot.

Note: For information about other writing workshops and courses with Brian Henry see here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Literary Traveller magazine

As it's summer, I thought I'd post another market for travel writing. Payment is nominal, as is usually the case with on-line magazines (if they pay at all), but you get the writing credit, you write off your expenses, and for writers, this magazine is a natural:

Literary Traveler was launched in March of 1998. We currently have around 80,000 visitors per month and over 5,000 subscribers. Our audience is made up of people who love to read and travel and who are interested in literature and the arts.
We are seeking articles that capture the literary imagination. Is there an artist or writer that has inspired you? Have you taken a journey or pilgrimage that was inspired by a work of literature? We focus mainly on literary artists but we welcome articles about other artists: composers, painters, songwriters, storytellers, etc.

Subject matter can be anything artistic or creative. Each one of our articles in some way is about someone who creates. Some of our articles are subjective first person travel pieces. Some take a meditative slant on a visit somewhere, and reflect on a theme. Others are objective articles about places or writers, or artists.

Article Guidelines:
- 1500 - 2000 words in length
- First-person narrative that inspires our readers
- Please send accompanying jpegs (sized small)

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to read our current articles before writing. New writers to LT often make this mistake and we have to ask them to rewrite. Our articles have a unique style (i.e. no travel guide writing).

Rights: We run material that has not been previously published. We hold exclusive rights, and will keep your article archived on the web.

Payment: Currently, we pay $50 US per article.

Photo: House of Green Gables, PEI - an obvious Canadian destination for the literary traveller.

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Family Fun magazine

Travel writing and restaurant reviewing are the ideal writing jobs – imagine getting paid to travel and eat! Actually, I don’t have to imagine it, as I’ve done it. My favourite was a beer tour of Britain, in which I sampled local brews from London to Orkney. Publishing the piece didn’t pay for my whole trip, but on my tax return, I wrote off every pint I drank – that's what I call a pleasant after taste.

There are many markets for travel pieces. Here's one – and you can sell them all sorts of other pieces, too, as long as its got a family focus:

Family Fun
47 Pleasant Street
Northampton, MA 01060

FamilyFun is the country’s number one magazine for families with children ages 3 to 12, with more than 2 million subscribers. On every page, FamilyFun gives parents the information and inspiration they need to create unforgettable family moments. We are the trusted experts on family cooking, vacations, parties, holidays, crafts, learning and travel – all the essentials that enrich the precious time families share.

FamilyFun is unique in the marketplace, delivering real ideas for – and from – real families. Our readers see the magazine as a reflection of their own lives and priorities, a place where they can find a community of like-minded parents and discover ideas for building strong, healthy families.

Family Getaways Department:

Briefs are probably the best way to introduce yourself to our travel editors. They are newsworthy announcements of family events or attractions such as a new children’s museum, a great deal at a well known family resort, a festival or arts event, a new museum exhibit, a hidden gem, a fun nature outing, or an offbeat roadside attraction. We also run tips on travel concerns such as saving money on car rentals or whether to buy travel insurance. You should be personally familiar with the destination or event.

Length: 100 to 200 words

Compensation: $1.25 per word upon acceptance ($75 for the idea if we opt to use a staff writer)
Submissions: Manuscripts and queries; direct to Travel Editor:

Full submission guidelines for travel pieces here:

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Science fiction contest & the Short Story Library

ReadMe Publishing asks you to imagine, What if? And so you ask yourself, what if... what? Well you tell us! We want science fiction short fiction (micro, flash or short stories) that tell us a science fiction story around the idea what if. Where ever you take it, take it interesting!

The word limit is 5,000 words.
Submission deadline: August 31, 2009.
Awards: Winning stories will be paid $50.00, Second place $25.00, Third Place $10.00. The top stories will be published in a science fiction collection to be published in October of 2009. All accepted entries will receive an eBook version of the final collection.
Entry fee: Free!
ReadMe Publishing home:

Short Story Library

Casey Quinn, publisher of ReadMe, is also the publisher and editor of Short Story Library, a free weekly online magazine which offers poetry, microfiction, flash fiction and short stories on the web.

Short Story Library accept submssions all year round and tries to respond to submission within six weeks. Short Story Library also accepts art work, general articles, book reviews and writing articles for consideration in our publications.

Photo: Snapshots of Life, poetry by Casey Quinn

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jenny Bent Leaves Trident to start own agency

The Bent Agency
204 Park Place
Number Two
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Formerly a literary agent with Trident media group, Jenny Bent has just started her own agency. She likes books that sell, whether fiction or non-fiction. This is what she has to say about herself:
In a career spanning 15 years, I have made a practice of making bestsellers - either by spotting new talent or developing careers for multi-published authors. My list is varied and includes commercial fiction and nonfiction, literary fiction and memoir. All the books I represent speak to the heart in some way: they are linked by genuine emotion, inspiration and great writing and story-telling.

I sell books like New York Times bestselling author John Kasich’s upcoming EVERY OTHER MONDAY, about his twenty years in a bible study group; the upcoming WHOM NOT TO MARRY by Father Pat Connor, an 80-year-old Catholic priest featured in a recent Maureen O’Dowd column; the #1 New York Times best seller THE RED HAT SOCIETY; the New York Times bestseller LOST AND FOUND, a book about loss and grief and how our pets can help us to heal; and humor writing including the New York Times bestseller IDIOT GIRLS ACTION ADVENTURE CLUB by Laurie Notaro and the manyNew York Times bestsellers by Jill Conner Browne of Sweet Potato Queen fame. And among many other titles for this author, I sold the New York Times bestseller A TREASURY OF GREAT AMERICAN SCANDALS by Michael Farquhar which links history to humor in a tradition of great storytelling.

In the realm of commercial fiction I represent many New York Times bestselling novelists including Lynsay Sands, Julia London, Sandra Hill and USA Today bestsellers Kathy Caskie and Janelle Denison.

Photo: Literary agent Jenny Bent (left) with Kathryn Falk, CEO of Romantic Times magazine (right)

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Frank McCourt dies at 78

Francis "Frank" McCourt died Sunday afternoon in New York City. He was 78.

McCourt didn’t publish his first book until the age of 66. Then he came out with Angela’s Ashes, a detailed account of his childhood in Limerick, Ireland.

The memoir achieved great success, winning the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award, followed by a Pulitzer Prize in 1997. The book went on to sell over five million copies and was turned into a movie.

McCourt continued to narrate his life in his other works 'Tis (1999), Teacher Man (2005) and Angela and the Baby Jesus (2007).
Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"The Reluctant Stripper," Janis Coulis

I knew I was in trouble when I sat my skinny haunches down at my computer and felt a spasm of giddiness slip down my spine. I began typing, my fingers flaying the keys, but could barely continue as outbreaks of laughter overtook me each time I tried to compose a credible opening sentence. I was attempting a review of the restaurant I had just returned from, food-drunk on memories both savory and sweet and giggle-struck by the absurdity of it all – someone might actually pay me to eat – and tell – and eat again!!
I had been successfully interviewed for the job of food editor for the Toronto Star. This first column was my probationary piece and, if I did a convincingly good job, the position was mine. I was ecstatic – a restaurant review written by a woman who hadn’t actually eaten in twenty-five years! What delicious irony!
Food had all but vanished from my life about the same time as my husband, a man who had left me alone with two small children, with neither a roof over my head nor the education to obtain one. How could I earn the money I so desperately needed – me, a girl who hadn’t finished high school? Not at my part-time Seven Eleven gig. No, what I needed was the education I’d so happily spurned back in my teens in my desperate hurry to marry a loser.
How could I make enough money to support my family, pay for an education and still find time for my children? The answer to all of these questions – and the path that eventually led to my ruminations tonight – was to be found around the corner at the local Solid Gold Exotic Dancing Emporium and my new-found employment as a stripper.

I had never before entertained the idea of stripping – unless it was the stripping of wallpaper from my kitchen walls, the re-finishing of a piece of old furniture, or the removal of the husks from an ear of corn. This type of stripping, I discovered, involved the peeling away of all clothing from a well-tuned, curvaceous body, followed by rhythmical writhing, thrusting and gyrating movements across a small stage, erotically performed to loud, titillating music and concluding in a bare all, spread-eagled finale – (hopefully with several tens and twenties tucked firmly into a tiny G-string)
This strange entertainment was to be performed in front of many sexually aroused, hard-breathing, sweating men of assorted ages and sizes, who would encourage me enthusiastically to “take it all off” – a job not that different, I concluded, from my current employment – pumping gas during the midnight shift at the Seven-Eleven. I was confident I was up to the job, and the owners of the establishment approved my audition.
Three years later, as a well-paid stripper with surprisingly good tips, I returned to school as a day-student, home for my children during the evening and able to slip away once they were soundly asleep under the watchful eye of my sister, who believed I was still gas-jockeying at the convenience store. Thusly, I stripped my way through my final two years of high school, peeled my way into university and finally bare-assed it into Ryerson’s School of Journalism – as I became more educated I discovered a talent and interest in writing. And I had enough money left over to provide for all my family’s needs. On reflection, my job sounds beautiful, although some might question the morality of it – but believe me – in great success there’s always a catch.
Firstly, I needed to keep my occupation a secret from my children and religious parents, a feat which became increasingly harder and necessary as my offspring grew older. In terror I often imaged my son sneaking into a strip joint on his eighteenth birthday only to encounter his naked mother, writhing her way around a pole, breasts bobbing and weaving, mouth all pouty in phony provocation, whispering dirty little nothings enticingly into the ears of …his school friends? OH MY GOD! To keep his sanity, he’d have to blind himself with a stick, while I, equally traumatized, would have to run away to an old-fashioned, hair-shirt wearing nunnery.
Increasingly distressed by my imagined fears, I began stripping out of town as he grew older – supposed weekends with friends in Montreal, pretend shopping expeditions to New York City and day trips to wherever the need for a talented and well-seasoned stripper might take me. Somehow I got away with it – and the money poured in.

The other serious problem encountered in my chosen line of work was its demanding physical requirements and need for eternal youth. I had to look good continuously – good enough to salivate and fantasize over – and I found that although I could now afford to eat, I could no longer partake in the luxury.
Every minute of every day, of every week, of every month, of every year in which I remained an exotic dancer, I also remained on a diet – calories in versus calories out – and every available hour not spent studying, stripping or parenting was spent in the gym – eternally exercising. The exercising was difficult enough – tiring and demanding – but the real penance was the end of eating as I had once known it. No more delectable Amish baking, five-course chicken dinners, large platters of schnitzel and gravy, nor hot buttered noodles. Everything the least bit delicious was struck from my palate.
I began to live on low fat, no fat, low sugar, no sugar, artificial sweeteners and imitation fats, low-calorie soy protein drinks, high fiber cardboard energy bars and bland, sodium-free fish poached just enough to render it tasteless – along with an unlimited supply of rabbit food. Celery can be a girl’s best friend, I discovered, just not the soul mate I wanted.

You play you pay, I reminded myself, quoting the last words from my ex-husband just before his incarceration – and indeed I did pay. I am a woman who loves food; it would not be wrong to say that eating has always been my obsession – and even more so when the meal preparation was completed by someone else. “You stew it: I’ll chew it” could have been my motto back in the day when eating was still a daily occurrence. In fact, one of the reasons I’d foolishly married my ex – and left my strict Amish religion behind – had been his lasagna; in the face of all that homemade sausage, rich marinara sauce and four full-fat cheeses, I’d willingly overlooked the fact that he was a petty thief.
Once I'd taken up the profession of a stripper, I soon understood the true meaning of suffering, as hungry days passed hungry days, famished months, and even ravenous years, as aching, over-exercised muscles throbbed and burned, my shrinking stomach growled and panged, and my hitherto sunny disposition slowly dissolved into bitter, unfulfilled longings for that which I could not have – food and rest.

But the voracious need for money drove me on, until one day I realized that I had reached forty years of age, still going strong in the profession, but too soon forty-five arrived and finally, and unexpectantly, the unbelievable age of fifty overtook me. I was overwhelmed by the prospect of growing old, but, thanks to cosmetic surgery, food deprivation and a severe regimen of exercise and diet-drugs, fifty found me well-preserved and I remained employed in the only occupation I knew how to do well.
However, I was over-exhausted, over-educated and over-exposed, with nothing to show for it – except the obligation to show everything – and bored beyond belief. If one more young man suggested lewdly that “he had what I needed”, while slipping his ten dollar bill into my G string, I feared that instead of winking back appreciatively I might inquire if that “something in his pants” could possibly, and pleasantly, be a fat ham and Swiss on rye.

For my entire adult life I had carried on stripping, making money for the family, relying on the sexual stimulation of horny strangers, but always dreaming of retirement – of a life spent writing wonderful stories and novels in which my characters interacted over scrumptious meals – even as my gravity-challenged body and luteinizing hormones sent messages of protest to my oblivious brain. My rebelling hips, longing to gyrate no more, threatened to spread, my softening “abs-of- steel” belly endeavored to pout, my long, luxuriant hair struggled to grey and my arches continued to fall. But once again, there was all that need.

My widowed mother still had a mortgage that she struggled to pay, my children, now grown but dealing with post-university loans, required financial help, my sister’s leaking roof required re-shingling, my brother’s chimney re-bricking, and my antiquated air conditioner was emitting Freon into the ozone layer at an alarming rate. New government regulations and an eroding environment demanded that I replace it, and yet all of that was just the icing on the liposuction, as we say in the business.
My own personal upkeep remained a terrible expense and my cosmetic surgeon had already booked me for my second breast augmentation – breasts were becoming larger and larger in the stripping arena and I struggled to keep up – even as he reminded me that last year’s butt lift was barely paid off. I could see that my future, so full of silicone, collagen and Botox that I would soon become more plastic than flesh, was hanging over my head like the sword of Damascenes, while I, the little Dutch boy with his finger stuck in the dyke, fought off the inevitability of aging.

I finally understood that my life was out of control, that beautiful job (at one time my salvation) now nothing but a vicious parasite, gobbling up my hard-earned money as fast as I could exotically disrobe. On my fifty-sixth birthday I came to a stunning realization – I simply had to find another job – and the Gods above took pity upon me and led me straight to the Toronto Star where I came across a huge advert for the new job of food editor for their illustrious paper.
Rather than passing up the opportunity as something completely out of my reach, I came to the startling realization that I should apply for it. Theoretically, at least, as a Ryerson grad, I was qualified for the job, and because of my unrequited lust for calories, I knew more about food than the average person.

I walked into that interview in a tight, yet classy, designer suit in just the right shade of persuasive blue. In one hand, my Mother’s Amish apple strudel; in the other, my ex-husband’s authentic Italian lasagna. I spoke non-stop “food” for more than an hour, with promises of articles based on delicious dishes that tasted fabulous, and yet would leave the eater with a body not unlike that of my own.
I lied my little well-toned ass off – I lied about past jobs in the food industry, I produced my mother’s book of Amish traditional recipes that I claimed as my own, with promises of scaled-down, lighter versions that would delight both the palate and the waistline and boost his readership. I committed myself to honest restaurant reviews with a strict eye on health as well as gastronomical delight. I would have offered the moon on cream cheese if it would have helped me land the job. And yes, I employed every sexual nuance that I had picked up over my stripping career to sell myself – and my writing abilities, which were authentic; I had been an A+ student.

My enthralled future employer hastened to inform me that I had successfully procured the job, but requested that I see myself out as he seemed loath to stand up from behind his desk at that moment, and so I left, newly and joyously employed. In gratitude, I lifted my skirt at the doorway and flashed him my thanks…he smiled.

And so, here I sit at my computer, after partaking in a delicious meal with four mouth-watering courses, during which I never removed a single article of clothing nor felt the compunction to shake my titties for the world to see. I was offered soft white bread, real heavy cream, thick salty butter and sweet authentic sugar. None of it taboo – it was part of the job! I gratefully accepted, practically weeping for joy as my nipples arose in an elated salutation.
Later, my appetite completely satiated, I left that hollowed establishment in a state of culinary enlightenment, with the shirt on my back still intact, my appreciation profound and my gluttony fully glutted, having decided that I was going to use all my writing skills and all my brain power to write the best restaurant review I was capable of composing. A sophisticated French restaurant such as Francoise’s deserves an equally sophisticated review.

After hours of attempts, though, it seems all I can come up with is a heart-felt assessment based on the only standards I have come to trust. I am therefore giving this excellent eatery, known as Francoise’s, a well-deserved rating of four and a half lap dances out of five. Bon appétit!


Janis Coulis loves to eat, but the rest of the story she just had to invent.
Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and courses see here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rebecca Gradinger joins Fletcher & Company

Fletcher & Company
78 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011

Rebecca Gradinger joined Fletcher & Company in 2009. Previously she was an agent with Janklow & Nesbit Associates, a foreign literary scout at Mary Anne Thompson Associates, and a lawyer, practicing media and intellectual property law, at Frankfurt Garbus Klein & Selz.

Rebecca has eclectic taste in the books that she represents but a common thread in almost all of her projects is a strong emotional core. She is interested in projects that fall into the following categories: literary fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction, self-help, memoir, humor, parenting, YA, and pop culture.

Rebecca's particular areas of interest are: health and medicine, memoir that takes you into unfamiliar worlds, women’s issues of all kinds, cultural studies, and fiction that is simply impossible to stop reading (and if it makes you weep, all the better!).

Some of Rebecca’s recent clients include Dr. Pauline Chen New York Times columnist and author of the New York Times bestseller Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality (Knopf), Amy Silverstein's Sick Girl (Grove), Kathleen Grissom's The Kitchen House (Simon &Shuster) Catherine Hanrahan's Lost Girls and Love Hotels (Harpercollins), D.G Fulford's Designated Daughter (Hyperion), and Lilit Marcus' Save the Assistants (Hyperion).

Rebecca is originally from Montreal.

About Fletcher and Company: here
Details agents on staff and their preferences: here
Submission guidelines: here

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hastings House / Daytrip Publishers

Hastings House has been around for 70 years. It specializes in non-fiction, especially guidebooks for travellers.

It's most successful series is Daytrips, which accounts for more than half of Hastings House’s sales. This series was created with the needs of the busy tourist in mind and lays out one-day, self-guided adventures that are easily taken from convenient bases. Daytrips titles span the globe, including most of the U.S. and Europe.

Hastings House also publishes:
Architecture and Interior Design
Children's Books
Arts Books
Cookery and Wines
History and Americana
Religious History
Visual Communications Books
Full description of Hasting House’s publishing program: here
Before sending work, please query:
Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Canadian Writers Group

This new Canadian agency represents freelance writers. Principal agent, Derek Finkle, has a background both in writing for and editing periodical publications, including Saturday Night magazine and the Globe and Mail. He is also the author of No Claim to Mercy, a book examining the Robert Baltovich murder case.

CWG's writers contribute to Canada’s most prominent publications, including The Globe and Mail, Maclean’s, enRoute, Canadian Geographic, Report on Business, Food and Drink, Toronto Life, Vancouver Magazine, Today’s Parent, Canadian House and Home, Reader’s Digest, Toronto Star, Chatelaine, Walrus, and Zoomer. They are a talented group that recently garnered 59 nominations at the 2009 National Magazine Awards.

CWG’s writers are also highly successful in the commercial sphere, producing award-winning copy for advertising campaigns, medical and pharmaceutical companies, real estate developers, blue-chip software firms, insurance providers, banks, fashion designers, professional sports franchises, universities, and clients in many other areas.

The agency has also helped clients find the ideal speechwriter, interviewer, editor, researcher, ghostwriter, investigative specialist, story producer, and screenwriter.

Masthead has an article about this new agency, including reactions from magazine editors:

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Jenny Waring," Julie Whitley

Jenny Waring had a recurring dream. Someone else would have called it a nightmare. Jenny might have, too, if the dream hadn’t been about her husband.
In the dream, she could see herself preparing his lunch. Her husband was unimaginative to the point of obsession, so his lunch requests never varied. He wanted a fresh salad and a sandwich of cold cuts: one slice of turkey breast and one slice of pastrami with Dijon mustard on cracked wheat bread. Always an apple for dessert and four Oreo cookies for coffee-break.

Jenny saw her hands reach into the spice cupboard, digging under various loose packages of spice. Loose packages always stirred her husband's compulsiveness into a frenzy. She took out a small, double-wrapped plastic bag and slowly unwound it. In the bottom of it were three peanuts. She crushed the peanuts into a powder, then took apart two of the cookies and drizzled the powder onto the centre icing. The cookies, once again whole, were wrapped and placed with the others. He insisted that the cookies be wrapped in two bundles so that he could have one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Just before she woke up, Jenny saw herself reach into her husband's pants' pocket and remove his EpiPen.

As usual, Jenny woke up and looked over at her husband and as usual, he was sound asleep, on his back, mouth slack. One eye, the one on her side, was eerily half open, the result of a childhood accident that always made her feel like she was being watched – twenty-four hours a day.

The luminous face of the clock said five-thirty. Jenny sighed and eased herself out of bed, anxious not to disturb her husband so that she could have a few minutes of uninterrupted peace. Her worn fuzzy slippers fit her feet like a second skin; there wasn't much warmth in them anymore, only scant protection from the cold linoleum floor. Her bathrobe was equally worn and patched, no longer warm but at least giving the illusion of shelter.
In the kitchen, she poured a bowl of cereal, cut a banana over the top and added a half cup of skim milk – any more was an unnecessary waste according to her husband. Even though he was still soundly sleeping, his constant harping had made economizing to the nth degree an integral part of even her unsupervised moments.
Guiltily, she took her paperback book out from behind the stack of Hunter's Digest on the only occupied shelf of the bookcase. He’d skimmed that stack of magazines when they’d first arrived and then ignored them. But his tenets of economy wouldn't allow her to throw them out, so they made a safe hiding place for her book. She read a page while she ate her cereal and then put the book back in its hiding spot before she put the coffee on. Her husband had a keen sense of smell. The smell of coffee was better than an alarm for waking him up.

"Jenny! Get a move on. You don't want me to be late for work." He always greeted her with the same loving words every morning. She barely nodded an acknowledgment while she set the pot on the stove for his hot cereal. While the water was heating, she put three slices of bacon into the frying pan and placed two eggs on the counter ready. At just the right moment she put two slices of bread in the toaster. With a magician's timing, lacking only the appreciation, Jenny quickly placed a perfect breakfast before her husband. A breakfast fit for a king – Henry the Eighth, maybe.

"I want my good shirt ironed for my lodge meeting tonight, and I'll have a roast beef sandwich before I go." Through slitted eyes, he glanced around the immaculate living-room and added in a razor-edged voice, "I'm bringing Sam and Big Jake and a new guy home with me tonight, so for Pete's sake clean this place up. It looks like a pig-sty!" His instructions for the day delivered, he left, swearing as the screen door slammed behind him. Jenny stood in her wifely spot by the door, her hand dutifully raised in an unacknowledged salute.

She closed the door against the sunny morning. There was so much to do and she hadn’t any energy. Still, half an hour later, the dishes were washed and the counters gleamed. She sat down for her first cup of coffee. She felt guilty, but the ache in her back begged for a break. He didn't know about her back, the degenerating disc that the doctor said wouldn't get any better without rest.

With a sigh, Jenny rose to start the ironing and jammed her fists into the depths of her bathrobe pockets. A multitude of expressions washed through her: confusion, disbelief, fear, amazement ... peace.

Jenny took her hand out of her pocket and held it up before her eyes. She looked at the object dangling from her fingers.

It was his EpiPen.


Julie Whitley Pamerleau was born in London, Ontario and grew up in Stoney Creek where she wrote stories and poems from the age of nine. After many years of work as an RN at McMaster Children's Hospital, Julie returned to university for undergrad and graduate degrees. Creative writing was put on hold until her retirement last year. She has been thrilled to get back to the fulfillment and challenge of creative writing. Julie still lives in Stoney Creek with her husband, daughter and mother – a multigenerational household.
Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Mounties bag a literary scam artist

In a burst of activity, Melanie Mills – long known to be a scam literary agent – has promoted a nonexistent writers’ conference in South Carolina, which she then cancelled without sending anyone their promised refunds on memberships they’d bought; faked her own death while masquerading as her own assistant and possibly as her own daughter as well; shut down her operation in North Myrtle Beach SC, and decamped to Canada.

Operating under the name “Elizabeth von Hullessem,” she fraudulently promoted and sold memberships in a nonexistent literary conference in Banff (trading on the reputation of the prestigious Banff-Calgary Wordfest), plus an equally nonexistent charity concert in Banff to benefit autism; and vanished from Banff with tens of thousands of dollars in convention fees.

The happy ending to this story is that she has now been tracked down and arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Her real name, it turns out, is Roswitha Elizabeth Von Meerscheidt-Huellessem. The Canadian courts have first dibs on her. Next up after that are Missouri and Arkansas, where she’s wanted on multiple charges of fraud and assault, including attempted murder. Only after all that does South Carolina get to take a crack at her.

At the point that word went out about Elizabeth von Hullessem decamping with all the Banff conference money, it wasn’t known that von Hullessem and Mills were the same person. However, the intrepid crew at Writer Beware spotted the similarities in Mills’ and von Hullessem’s con-running styles. When they heard she’d been arrested, they got in touch with the RCMP, filled them in on Mills’ South Carolina activities, and put them in touch with the North Myrtle Beach detective in charge of the Mills case.

You can read the backthread of the developing story in the Melanie Mills thread on the Bewares Board, or get a nice summary of it on the utterly indispensable Writer Beware page. There’s a secondary tracking site at Preditors & Editors, too. It’s the most lurid scam agent case in years.


Reblogged from Making Light.
Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Annick Press launches new series

Annick Press
15 Patricia Avenue
Toronto, ON M2M 1H9
Annick Press has recruited Melanie Little as editor-at-large for a teen fiction series, Single Voice. Already launched in France by Actes Sud, three English translations will be published in spring 2010, and Annick will acquire original titles to extend the series. “Delivered through the authentic voice of a teen narrator, these stories resonate with emotional honesty.”

Little will also acquire and edit essays for a forthcoming young adult anthology.
Submission guidelines: Annick Press is committed to publishing Canadian authors. Sorry, but we cannot accept unsolicited manuscripts from outside Canada .

Picture books: We are not accepting picture book manuscripts at the present time.

Teen Fiction: Annick Press invites writers to submit proposals for teen novels which possess a high degree of originality and capture strong and distinctive contemporary voices.... Please mail a synopsis, together with a sample chapter.
Middle Reader Fiction: Annick Press seeks middle reader fiction (ages 8 – 11) which captures the imagination of readers and readily engages their interest. The story must be memorable, well-written and notable for its originality. Humor, even if used occasionally, is an asset. Please mail a synopsis, together with a sample chapter.
Middle reader and Teen Non-Fiction: The degree of originality in an idea or in the approach to a subject is key to our non-fiction program.

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Alisha Sevigny promoted at the Rights Factory

The Rights Factory
Box 499, Stn C
Toronto, ON M6J 3P6

(Updated Jan 27, 2010) Alisha Sevigny is a Literary Agent at the Right’s Factory in Toronto. Since becoming a full-time agent in March 2009, Alisha has signed twenty clients and is actively seeking more.

She's open to all kinds of material. “I don’t like people who say, ‘I’m only going to do this,’” she says. “I’m open. I love literary fiction, I love non-fiction. I did a lot of creative non-fiction in university, and I like women’s fiction. Basically, if the writing is good, if the story is good, it does not have to fall into any kind of specific category.”

As she is a new agent most of Alisha's clients are debut authors. They include fiction writer Susan Glickman whose first novel, The Violin Lover, won the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction and was listed by The National Post as one of the best books of 2006; and non-fiction author holistic beauty guru Kristen Ma’s prescriptive non-fiction book, Beauty, Pure and Simple, as well as The Next Eco-Warriors: The 21st Century Battle to Save the Planet by Emily Hunter.

Note: Alisha Sevigny will be the guest speaker at “How to Get Published,” Saturday, May 15, in Hamilton.  For details, see here. 

Beyond being a traditional literary agency, The Rights Factory deals in intellectual property rights to entertainment products, including books, comics and graphic novels, film, television, and video games.

Sam Hiyate, the principal agent, represents about 40 clients. Margot Berwin is one author Sam represents. He sold her first novel, Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire, to Jennifer Jackson at Vintage and recently sold the film option to Julia Roberts and Columbia Pictures.

The Rights Factory’s clients also include distinguished literary authors such as David Gilmour (The Film Club and A Perfect Night to go to China, winner of the 2005 Governor General’s Literary Award in Fiction), Mariko Tamaki (Skim, nominated for the 2008 Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature), Andrew Kaufman (All My Friends are Superheroes and The Waterproof Bible), Claire Letemendia (The Best of Men).

The Rights Factory also represents notable non-fiction, including Vanessa Farquharson’s Sleeping Naked is Green, Arkadi Kuhlmann & Bruce Philp’s The Orange Code - How ING Direct Succeeded by Being a Rebel with a Cause, and J.M. Kearns’s Why Mr. Right Can’t Find You and Better Love Next Time.

About the Rights Factory:

Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mark McVeigh launches new agency

The McVeigh Agency
345 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10011-3035

Representing writers, illustrators, photographers and graphic novelists of books for adults and children.

Mark McVeigh was an editor for Simon & Shuster's Aladdin imprint. Before that he was an editor with Dutton, Scholastic, Random House and HarperCollins. He has now opened his own literary agency.

Adult writing areas of interest: Fiction of all kinds, nonfiction (especially) biographies and history), memoir, photo books on fashion, art, architecture, and more, graphic novels.

Juvenile areas of interest: Picture books that are character driven, funny, and with a totally kid-centric hook; chapter books, middle-grade books for both boys and girls, especially manuscripts that have series potential; young adult of all sorts, from comic to angst-y, from envelope-pushing, issue-based to swooningly romantic; graphic novels; unusual or very topical nonfiction."
For both adult and children's: Illustrators with an arresting look and a versatile style who are capable of illustrating picture books, covers, and interior art. Photographers with the skill to handle both commercial and more literary projects.

McVeigh especially wants: "Books with particular appeal to children and adults of color. This country is based on the idea of a melting pot, and I want my clients and their books to reflect that. No matter what color you are, I want to represent books that resonate with you and your world. Writers shape the books they write, but these books shape the people who read them: I’m totally aware of this and committed to growing the list of successful authors and illustrators of color."

Submissions: Unsolicited queries should go to


Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

"I ‘fess up to a love affair," Tessie Lagtapon

I wouldn’t call it torrid because torrid is x-rated.

Clandestine would be giving it an illicit flavour; it would denote a forbidden love, a love affair concealed in the shadows of darkened alleys. No, it isn’t. However, this affair is all consuming, relentless, even distracting as my thoughts stray to it as I drive home in the darkness of the night. But I wouldn’t call this love sordid. In fact, it is ultra clean, pristine, pure. This love affair transcends time and place, age and weight, wrinkles and love handles. It is enduring, and exquisitely passionate.

I have a love affair with the English language.

In university I inhaled words then exhaled them into simple messages like: “…the winner of the recent contest, sang ‘Allelluia’ with such rejoicing that one can imagine a staircase from heaven descend among the clouds with our Saviour’s hands spread out to welcome everyone to His kingdom.” As you can see I was a drama queen. Like a kid in a toyshop I couldn’t get enough words to string together.

I have come down from the heavens a tad since.

English is a vibrant language. Where else can I describe the varying degrees of my anger? The fact that I’m upset does not preclude a smile on my face; when I turn sullen you better not be talking to me; when I start fuming I need you out of my sight; when I’m raging mad all the knives better disappear; and watch out when I start foaming at the mouth!

Every thought has a nuance, every action a measure that can be peeled off layer by layer like the petticoat of a wedding dress, exposing just enough until the next level of revelation. What power!

…the gentle quiver of a leaf; the muted sigh of helplessness; the serene face of acceptance. Life at its best is the translucence of the newly sprung leaves of spring; the angelic grin of a toddler; the rapture of first love; the impassioned rhetoric of a politician; the wild and frenzied leap of a triumphant athlete. Such infinite shades of being!

… a baby cries, a widow weeps; the action is the same and yet different. I can only imagine a witch’s cackle, but I hear my daughter chuckle, my grandchildren giggle and my men’s earthshaking, belly-wrenching guffaws. And talk about a sexy language; a young girl’s coquetish look, a young man’s tremulous caress…

Actions are graphic realities; easily understood; emotions are brush strokes on a painting.

‘I hate you” is trite but to loathe is to nourish a caustic venom in ones insides. It permeates its host with impunity, feeding on the excruciating anguish of a broken heart, crushed expectations, a tragedy; to fall into despair, alone into the dark abyss of hopelessness.

English grew some more, while I was busy scrounging for a living. A hundred years ago, I knew only ten figures of speech; now I can understand only the top twenty among hundreds. Oxymoron is my current favourite. True lies (Arnold’s movie) comes to mind first, then ‘brawling love, loving hatred’, (Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet); ‘deliberate haste’ (Obama).

I remember the onomatopoeias when I hear the commercial “snap, crackle and pop” and those that make me shiver: the slithering snake, slime, the screetch of nails on a blackboard.

Dr. House, MD (a TV show) is a master in metaphors. “Saying there appears to be some clotting is like saying there's a traffic jam ahead. Is it a ten-car pile up, or just a really slow bus in the center lane? And if it is a bus, is that bus thrombotic or embolic?”

Given these infinite expressions of being, how then can anyone not love the English language?

Yet, for all the words of love I can find in the thesaurus, I always revert to my mother tongue when I say I love you.

Somehow ‘You are my palangga (beloved) just seems right.
As a child in the Philippines, Tessie Lagtapon’s earliest artwork consisted of a stick picture of a sailboat merrily sailing along the calm waters of the ocean. A bright yellow sun smiled down at little Tessie. Tessie grew up and crossed this vast expanse of water into Canada. In Canada, Tessie brought up four children, 3 boys and a girl, and more recently got a bonus with two grandchildren. Tessie rediscovered her love for the written word when she wrote about her bout with shingles, and it was published by the Toronto Star in January 1, 1999. The following year, she submitted an essay about her mother to the Brampton Guardian, and they published it on Mother’s Day, 2000. Since then, between selling real estate, she’s been writing once a month for The Brampton Guardian. It is her dream to be able to compile all these columns into a book. On June 18, Tessie gave a reading of “I ‘fess up to a love affair” at CJ’s Café.
Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

"An Afternoon at Chop-Chop Square," Tanaz Bhathena

Tanaz Bhathena works at a trading company during business hours and writes fiction and travel articles during non-business hours. Her work has been published by Glossolalia, Sotto Voce Magazine, The Toronto Star and The National Post. She is currently working on a collection of short stories based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. One of these pieces, "An afternoon at Chop-Chop Square," won the Whidbey MFA Writers' Students Choice Award. On June 18, she gave a reading of “Chop-Chop Square” at CJ’s Café...

The executioner stifles a yawn and shuffles to the centre of the mosque’s deserted parking lot. His rubber slippers slap the tarmac with each tread and his mouth quivers, as if invaded by a swarm of invisible dancing ticks. He longs for a cup of tea, for the strong, soothing burst of tannin on his tongue, but it will have to wait until after the executions, when the owners of nearby tea-shops roll up their doors to do business after Friday prayers... more
Note: For information about Brian Henry’s upcoming writing workshops and classes see here.