Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Dalhousie Review

The Dalhousie Review
Dalhousie University
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3H 3J5 Canada

The Dalhousie Review is a venerable Canadian journal designed to appeal to an educated, but not exclusively academic, audience. It’s been around since 1921 and remains a prestigious journal. Publishing a short story here adds an impressive literary credit to your list of publications.

In general, works of fiction should not exceed 5,000 words, and poems should not exceed 40 lines, but there will be valid exceptions to these rules. Initial submissions are by means of hard copy only.

The Dalhousie Review also publishes book reviews and essays concerning history, literature, political science, philosophy, sociology, performing arts, and visual culture.

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Transcending the Legacy, Nancy Brown

Nancy is a dear friend. She lives and writes in Kingston, around the corner from the central library. Nancy, Congratulations on publishing your second book!

In Transcending the Legacy (Penumbra Press), Nancy continues her search for self-understanding that she began in her memoir Facing Life. Her subject is once again the life-long effects of the sexual abuse that she suffered as a very young child, the decades of addictive behaviour that nearly destroyed her, and the recovery process that has been the central project of her life in recent years. Her impulse is again autobiographical, but instead of a chronological narrative we are given incident-based meditations in which she analyzes the strategies, many of them futile and counterproductive, but the most recent of them hearteningly effective, by which Nancy has struggled to live and find joy again.

"MOST OF US have either complained about the bad deal life has handed to us, or have heard others utter such a complaint. We wish we could have a ready answer, an anti-complaint potion. I found one. It is Nancy Brown's book, Facing Life. After reading this book, you are left wondering how Nancy Brown could still be alive, never mind vibrant enough to write inspirational books. And you are also left with a most powerful and resounding message—what, me complain?!" —Rabbi Reuven P. Bulka, Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Ottawa, Host of Sunday Night with Rabbi Bulka on 580 CFRA, author of more than thirty books, and regular columnist for the Ottawa Citizen

Transcending the Legacy is available at bookstores or through direct order from Penumbra Press here:

Facing Life is also available through Penumbra here:

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

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Every Day Fiction

Every Day Fiction is an on-line magazine headquartered in Vancouver that specializes in bringing you fine fiction in bite-size doses. Every day, we publish a new short story of 1000 words or fewer that can be read during your lunch hour, on transit, or even over breakfast. There’s no such thing as too short. if you can tell a story in 50 words, have at it!

There is also an Every Day Poets magazine.

All fiction genres are acceptable for Every Day Fiction, and stories that don’t fit neatly into any genre are welcome too. While personal experiences and other non-fiction can be great sources of inspiration, please turn them into fiction for us, or send them elsewhere.

Our readership is adult, so children’s stories are unlikely to be accepted unless they are relevant to adults as well. On the other hand, we are not impressed by gratuitous sex and violence, or pointlessly foul language; edgy content should be necessary and appropriate to the plot and characters.

It ought to go without saying that any story submitted to Every Day Fiction must be your own unpublished original creation. If you publish a story on a blog, even your own personal blog, we consider it published and therefore inappropriate for our market.

Unfortunately, simultaneous submissions are not possible: when you submit using our online form, you must grant us the right to publish your story if we select it for Every Day Fiction, which you cannot do if you have offered that same right elsewhere.

We believe in the importance of being paid for your writing, even if it’s only a token amount. At this time, we are able to offer three dollars for each published story.

In addition, if requested we will set up a free Author Forum for you right here at EDF where you will be able promote your own writing. More importantly, publication also includes an opportunity to promote your writing beyond Every Day Fiction. We will gladly provide a link to your blog or website, and if you have a book on Amazon, we can link to that as well.

Finally, the author whose story is the most read in a given month will be featured in Every Day Fiction’s monthly Author Interview–a chance for our readers to get to know you, and a further opportunity for you to promote your blog or website and any books or other publications you may have out there.

Everyday Fiction home:
Complete submission guidelines:
Photo: The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008, an anthology of the best 100 stories from the first year of Every Day Fiction, published as a genuine hardcover book.

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and courses, see here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

American Short Fiction magazine & contest

American Short Fiction is a prestigious literary magazine. It has published, and continues to seek, short fiction by some of the finest writers working in contemporary literature, whether they are established or new or lesser-known authors.

Unsolicited submissions are accepted year-round. There are no set guidelines as to content or length {but 2,000 to 15,000 words would be the ball park}. The editors suggest: "Anyone wishing to send a story to American Short Fiction should first become familiar with the work previously published by the magazine. Our standards for acceptance are extremely high."
Young adult and genre fiction not welcome, but they're open to publishing mystery or speculative fiction if they feel it has literary value.

Pays $250 – $500 American
There is a $2 submission fee.
Submission guidelines here.

American Short Fiction Contest:

First Prize receives $1,000 and publication.
Second Prize receives $500.
All entries will be considered for publication.

Final Judge: Rick Moody, author of Purple America, The Diviners, Demonology, The Ice Storm, and Garden State, for which he received the Pushcart Editor’s Choice Award. Moody’s work has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, the New Yorker, and many other publications. His most recent work, Right Livelihoods, is a collection of three novellas that has garnered extensive critical praise.

Deadline: December 8, 2009
Length: All entries must be unpublished and 6,000 words or less.
Entry fee: $20. The fee entitles the entrant to a copy of the contest issue.
Complete rules here.

American Short Stories home:

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and courses, see here.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Shockwave," Kathy Milne

Chapter One of Fire’s First Breath
by Kathy Milne


If Ryan Harte had known what was waiting for him, he’d have stayed in bed. Had he understood what was really happening, he’d have hidden under the bed.
Unaware of the events aligning around him, Ryan pushed out through the back doors of Yorkcliffe Academy for Young Men and trotted down the stone steps. It was the final day of high school. He grinned to himself. He’d already finished one exam this morning, and all he had to do was avoid Dick for another hour until his last exam started.

Then four years of torment would finally be over.

The five-hundred year old oak tree towered above him as Ryan crossed the driveway and strode onto the grass. His fingers brushed against the bark in a downward stroke, a gesture of good luck all the Yorkcliffe boys made before stepping onto the adjacent playing field. He couldn’t wait until -

The fist shot out from behind the tree, filling his vision for a millisecond before slamming into his face. Ryan hit the grass with a thud, rolling onto his back. Stars sparkled in front of his eyes and his vision grew dim. He had to get up, get away. But the pain spiralled out from his forehead until his whole head thumped with each tiny movement.

As he squinted up, Richard Preston-Merritt loomed over him. Dick. Four years older than Ryan and four years bigger. Dick took a drag from his cigarette then flicked the stub away. A steel ring protruded from his nose, at odds with his blond movie-star looks.

With a groan, Ryan held his forehead with both hands so Dick wouldn’t see the wetness in his eyes. A lump was already emerging. He wanted to scream, to yell, to curse. It should have been safe out here. Ever since he’d developed the Bully Alert website six months ago, it had been safe. The system sent text messages to all the boys whenever one of them posted an alert on Dick’s whereabouts. And it had worked. They all knew what was at stake.

“Bully Alert and Detection – A Safety System,” Dick smirked as he prodded Ryan with his foot. “Quite the little business you’ve got going. Just like your father.”

A block of ice formed in the pit of Ryan’s stomach. “How…?”

“Jeremy and I had a little talk. Did you know his password’s teddybear?” Dick sneered as he held up Jeremy’s phone. “Your system’s not very reliable. Says here that I’m at the front of the school. See, right here…” Dick shoved the phone down into Ryan’s face.

His vision was still fuzzy but Ryan could read ‘Dick out front’, the same alert he’d seen a few minutes ago on his Blackberry, right before he’d decided to head out behind the school. He swallowed the bile that heaved up into his throat. He never should have allowed Jeremy into the system.

Dick was still smirking. “Gotta say, I’m flattered. All this effort just to avoid me.”

If Ryan didn’t know better, he’d have thought there was grudging respect in Dick’s voice.
“But I can’t let it go. Not today.” Dick stalked back and forth as though pondering what new torture to inflict.

Ryan staggered to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a crowd of boys gawking at them from the driveway.


Why had he opened his mouth? He should have run, should have escaped while Dick wasn’t looking.

Dick stopped pacing.

“What did you call me?” His nose ring quivered as his nostrils flared and contracted.
Ryan winced as a jackhammer pounded in his brain. Splinters of light stabbed at his eyeballs and images danced in his vision, glimmers of some other place. He squeezed his eyes shut, but the images played like a movie in his head. A man with long pale hair was speaking to him although Ryan couldn’t understand the words. The strange man gripped a sword with both hands, his mouth open in a roar. He whirled, his sword a blur, but it was too late…

Ryan blinked and the images vanished. He swayed unsteadily.

Dick peered at him. “You don’t look so good, like you’re going to fall over again. I can help with that.” He pulled back his fist.

Ryan held his swirling head, ignoring Dick. What in the world? It was the second time in a week he’d had that vision, the same man with the sword and everything. And he’d been having some really weird dreams lately. He had a feeling the man had been in those too.

“Hey!” Dick snapped his fingers. “Pay attention while I’m talking to you.” He patted Ryan’s cheek with his open palm then struck it forcefully.

The slap reverberated through Ryan’s head as all the blood in his body surged up to his face. The whole school must be watching by now. That man in his vision wouldn’t have just stood there looking stupid, he was sure.

As Dick stepped towards him again––

He punched Dick.

Mesmerized, he watched as Dick’s head snapped to the side and his new school ring snagged the edge of the bully’s nose ring. The ring ripped from Dick’s nose and soared through the air, landing with a metallic clink on the driveway.

Dick screamed, a high pitched inhuman sound, like a wounded animal. Blood ran down his face.
Ryan cradled his throbbing fist with his other hand. “I… uh… I didn’t mean to…” he stammered. What had he done?

Dick swiped at the blood with his cuff then tore off his school jacket. Tattooed dragons writhed around his arms.

“Jerkhead!” Dick shrieked. “Stinkin’ rich boy teacher’s butt-licking pet…”

Run! Ryan tried to move his feet, but his legs wobbled and his head still swirled.
He took a faltering step back, then another, but before he could make his legs move any faster, Dick lunged at him. Ryan thudded backwards into the old oak tree, the air bursting from his lungs. The bark gouged into his back as he slid down the tree.

“You’re dead.” Dick’s breath was hot against Ryan’s ear. He grabbed Ryan’s school tie, wrapping it around his hand, then yanked up.

Ryan gasped for breath, fearing he might never draw another. Dick’s blood dripped onto his face, each drop freezing him, rendering him incapable of movement. Sweat rolled down his back, stinging the cuts from the bark and soaking his shirt. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think straight. No one was going to help him; none of the other boys would dare interfere. Dick really was going to kill him.

Ryan’s fear bubbled close to the surface. He could feel a pressure building. Panicked now, he thrashed his arms and legs violently, and something inside him burst free. When he shoved Dick hard, the bully let go of his tie, and Ryan could breathe again. The air around them grew hot. Dick shuddered, his eyes wild.

And everything exploded into flames.

Ryan flew through the air and landed hard on the ground with a muffled oomph. He couldn’t see. The fire was everywhere. He scrambled up and ran but he had no idea if he was moving away from the fire or not. His feet tripped over something and he sprawled, landing on Dick. Frantically, he rolled to his feet again, dragging a stunned Dick with him.

As they stumbled clear of the flames and smoke, Ryan let go of Dick and dropped to the ground, coughing uncontrollably. With shaking hands, he quickly checked himself but he didn’t appear to be burnt at all.

He stared in horror as the fire raced up into the branches of the school’s lucky tree, crackling and spitting. Shrivelled black leaves were whipped away by the breeze like tiny birds escaping. Bits of ash rained down all over the place. The heat was overwhelming.

Ryan couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Within minutes the fire had consumed the entire tree. All that was left was a blackened trunk and bare branches stark against the blue sky. The pungent smell of scorched wood lingered.

Gradually Ryan noticed that a crowd had gathered at the edge of the grass, a sea of faces staring in disbelief. There was movement upstairs in the third floor library too, faces pressed against the windows. Dick sat on the ground beside him, his shirt scorched and holes burnt out in several places. Soot streaked across his face, mingling with the blood from his torn nose, and his blond hair was full of ashes.

Ryan eased away from Dick and stood up. His stomach lurched in protest at the sudden movement. Now would be a good time to leave...

“What did you do?” Dick screeched as he staggered to his feet.

“Me?” Ryan yelled back. Why did Dick think it was his fault? He wasn’t the one who carried a lighter. “You set the tree on fire with your cigarette.” It made sense. He looked at the ruined tree, then back at Dick. “It was an accident. I’m sure they’ll believe you.”

“I don’t know how you did it, you little freak…” Dick shook his head then stopped. He gave Ryan a strange look. “You pulled me out of the fire.”

“You’d have done the same...” Ryan mumbled. Maybe not, he decided, as he watched Dick’s eyes.

“That was a stupid thing to do,” Dick told him. He backed away, a weird expression on his face. Then he turned and ran across the field.

“See Dick run,” Ryan muttered in relief as he walked over to the tree. His fingers brushed the charred bark then he pressed his hand against it. Oddly, it already felt cool to the touch. So much for school luck. “Sorry,” he whispered to the tree then wondered what he was apologizing for. The whole thing was clearly Dick’s fault.

Sirens sounded in the distance, but Ryan knew it was too late. The fire was out and the tree was gone. Without a backward glance, he ran across the grass and into the mass of gawking boys. Everyone stared at him.

“Hey, look!” someone said to him.

Several more of the boys called out to him and tried to stop him as he pushed through the crowd. There were ooooh’s and awwhh’s, but he ignored them, hurrying across the driveway towards the school and up the stone steps. His head was throbbing and he had to make an effort not to throw up in front of them. He still couldn’t believe what had just happened. It had to be Dick’s cigarette that caused the fire. What other explanation could there be?

Ryan grabbed at the handle of the school door but his hand, covered in soot and sweat, slipped. As he wiped his hands on his pants, the door opened from the inside and a woman’s wrinkled face peered out at him, blocking his way.

Ryan frowned, certain he didn’t know her.

“Are you alright?” the woman asked. She smiled at him in a motherly sort of way.

Ryan nodded. “Excuse me, I’m a little dirty,” he said as he squeezed past her and in through the narrow opening. He turned back to her and tried to smile in return, but his lips trembled. He frowned again. She seemed a bit familiar now.

Then he smothered a gasp as he realized who she was: the head librarian. Her pointy features were softened by the grey hair that curled around her shoulders. Usually it was pulled back so tightly, they all joked that it was her idea of a face lift. Everyone called her Monster McCauley because she was so nasty all the time. Why was she being so nice to him?

“I… um, yeah, I’m fine,” he managed to get out. Her smile was creeping him out. She’d never done anything more than hiss at him before. “I… uh… need the bathroom.” Then he turned and ran down the hall, ducking through the nearest door and into the washroom.

Ryan sagged back against the door. He’d run too fast and his head pounded, each time worse than the last. His stomach heaved again and he staggered to the sink, leaning over as he breathed slowly in and out. The room tilted and he had to hold on to the sink to keep from falling over.

Once the nausea had subsided and the room stopped spinning, he straightened up. His reflection stared back at him from the mirror: his pale face covered in soot, eyes too brilliantly blue. Tall for his age but skinny, with sandy hair so long it flopped down into his eyes. The youngest boy at Yorkcliffe for the last four years. For the millionth time, Ryan cursed his father for accelerating him through school so quickly that he was graduating from high school at fourteen.

How could he have been so stupid? He’d actually punched out the school’s biggest bully. He’d be lucky to survive the day.

He threw some water on his face, again and again, until the water swirling down the drain was no longer grey. The cold water felt good. The pounding had stopped, but the bump on his forehead had grown to the size of an egg, the pain hovering there as though waiting to escape.

The door opened and a boy he didn’t know came in.

“Hey, did you see – ?” the boy asked.

“Yeah.” Ryan was already halfway out the door, in no mood for conversation.

The hallway was clear. Everyone must still be outside staring at the tree and the fire trucks that would have arrived by now. He ran down the hall, slid around the corner and burst in through the library doors. He’d be safe in here. Dick would never come in the library, like a vampire would never enter a church.


Ryan almost leapt out of his skin.

Even in a library-sanctioned whisper, Monster McCauley’s voice could tear a strip off at fifty feet. She glared at him, a vein pulsing in her bony forehead, her look of concern from earlier nowhere in evidence. Her hair was up again and she perched on her stool behind the front desk like a grey-bunned gargoyle. There was a rumour going around that she had wings hidden under those hunched shoulders. With an effort he pulled his eyes away from hers. He let the door swing shut and hurried over to the table where Colin Roberts sat. Colin was two grades behind him but two years older, the only boy in the entire school who had risked becoming his friend.

A buzzing rose over the hush of the library. Several boys scuttled from between the rows of books, quickly choosing a seat at nearby tables. Everyone stared at him and the whisperings grew louder. Monster McCauley glowered at him in particular, her thin lips compressing into a straight line.

Slouching down in his seat, Ryan wished he could just disappear. Obviously they’d all had a front row view of the whole Dick incident from the window.

“Did you see the tree?” Colin whispered to him, his eyes bright with excitement.

“Yeah, I was there, remember?” Ryan frowned. Why did everyone keep asking him that?
Suddenly he sat up straighter. Colin said something else to him, but he was no longer listening.
She was there, standing behind the long front desk. The reason none of the boys sat in the back now: the new afternoon librarian – Miss O’Neil – the headmaster’s daughter.

It had taken two weeks, but he’d finally found out her first name.


She was much too pretty to be hidden away in a library, he thought. Delicately beautiful, she had green eyes and blond hair that curled down to her waist. He desperately wished she’d come out from behind the desk, but she never did.

Ryan gaped in amazement. She was motioning to him to come up to the desk!

He swallowed, his throat suddenly dry. She’d never spoken to him, or to any of them for that matter, and she wanted him, the geekiest boy in the school! Grinning, he stood up to the envious glares of every boy in the room. Colin stared up at him, his mouth hanging open. Ryan ran his fingers over his hair, making sure it covered the goose egg on his forehead. Then slinging his backpack casually over his shoulder, he sauntered up to the desk. At least he hoped he sauntered; he wasn’t sure his legs were working properly.

Up close she was even prettier. His eyes followed the curve of her fuzzy black sweater as it flowed all the way down over her hips and out of sight below the desk. Monster McCauley glared at him so hard in disapproval that Ryan thought the vein in her forehead might pop.

“Yes, Miss O’Neil?”

“Your books,” Sabrina whispered to him.

“Huh?” Ryan asked. Huh? The first time he’d spoken to her and that was the best he could come up with?

“The books your father donated to the school library. We’ve put them out on a big bookcase in the back, with a plaque – The Harte Legacy.”

Ryan tried not to roll his eyes. That was Rupert alright, generous when he could get credit for it. Leaning on the desk, he couldn’t help but stare. She was the most incredible girl he’d ever seen up close. Her skin was flawless, and spiky black lashes outlined the bottomless pools of her sea-green eyes. A scent wafted about her, something spicy like cinnamon. He was starting to feel a bit lightheaded.

“You should go back there and see the display.” Sabrina smiled at him and a dimple melted into her cheek.

No! I want to stay here with you!

Had he said that out loud?

But she was still smiling and no one behind him was snickering. He might have imagined it, but he thought Sabrina had flushed slightly when she spoke to him. She was much younger than all the other teachers, looked barely out of high school herself.

“Okay, thanks Sab… er… Miss O’Neil.”

He forced himself to turn and walk away. Who cared about a bunch of old books? As he swung around for a farewell glance, he saw she was still beaming at him. Raising his hand, he gave her a little wave then strode straight into one of the wooden tables, sprawled across the top, rolled off and landed right in Cyril Brownridge’s lap.

Laughter rippled around the room, even Sabrina was giggling with her hand over her mouth.
“Get off me, pervert!” Cyril hissed.

Ryan shoved himself up and ran, not stopping until he was deep in the stacks near the back of the library. His breath heaved in and out as he fought to control it.


Why did that have to happen in front of Sabrina? He paced back and force in frustration. Now he wouldn’t be able to leave the library until she was gone, even if it meant missing his last exam. A flash of silver on the corner shelf caught his eye. There it was, that embarrassing little sign Sabrina had told him about: The Harte Legacy. Good thing it was his last day here. He smiled though. Rupert would be annoyed his legacy was hidden far in the back and the plaque was very small.

He walked over to the enormous bookcase with the glass doors. In front of it, a red velvet-covered rope hung between two metals stands. Ryan moved the rope out of the way and yanked the bookcase doors open. A stale mustiness rushed out, tickling his nose, as if the books had been closed up somewhere for millennia instead of just sitting in Rupert’s rarely used library.

Ryan glanced at the books, not really seeing them. What had he been thinking? That Sabrina might actually like him? She’d probably just felt sorry for him. One day he was going to meet a girl and not make a complete fool of himself. He just wished today had been that day.

The books appeared to be his father’s collection of business and reference volumes. Rupert had probably convinced the school these were the books that had been used to build his vast empire. At the outer edge of the shelf, the books were more colourful. Ryan ran a trembling hand along the leather bindings, scanning the titles – Robin Hood, Treasure Island, The Hobbit. He could remember reading that last one with his mother, just before she died, and the title blurred in front of his eyes. These were all his old books. Why had Rupert given them away? Didn’t he understand they weren’t just books, but his memories?


Ryan bunched his fist then shoved the glass door. When it bounced back at him, he stalked away from the books to the back of the library. Sunlight streamed in through the arched windows. He leaned his forehead against the warm glass. Three floors below, he could see the stone stairway, with its spiked iron railing curving like a horned serpent down the stairs and around the side of the building. Everything appeared slightly dreamlike, distorted by the old leaded glass panes.

He thumped his head over and over against the window, the pain from the lump on his forehead like small daggers piercing his brain. This last day of school, which had loomed in his mind as the one bright thing in his life, had turned out all wrong. As he banged his head again, one of the small panes jiggled loose. When the next thump knocked it out of the window, he jerked back. A moment later he heard the glass smash on the stone far below. Ryan looked around, hoping no one had noticed him breaking it. He stared out the window again, wishing –

Then his eyes widened.

On the other side of the driveway, the ancient oak tree was whole again, its leaves glowing bright green in the sunlight. He goggled in disbelief. The tree was perfect, not one scorch mark or charred leaf.

How was that even possible?

He turned away then back again. The tree was still green. The fire trucks were gone and there was no one outside. Had he imagined the whole thing? He must be having a breakdown. It would explain everything.

Except the smell of soot on his hand.

Ryan backed away from the window. Was that what everyone had been talking about? He had to go outside and see if the tree really was okay.

Ryan jumped as his Blackberry vibrated and he yanked it out of his pocket.

YOU OWE ME! screamed across the screen in bright red letters.

Ryan glanced around nervously. Was Dick here? No, he could have sent that message from anywhere. He was just a bit jumpy, that was all. Shoving the Blackberry back in his pocket, he ran towards the bookcase of his father’s books, rounded the corner and skidded to a halt, almost tripping over his own feet.

“Did you get my message? I’m here to collect, princess.”

Dick was leaning against the shelf at the end of the row and he didn’t have a friendly expression on his face. His school uniform had been replaced by a black leather jacket and pants. “We can have a private chat back here. You wouldn’t dare make any loud noises in your precious library, would you?”

Dick took a step forward and Ryan stepped back.

“You know what today is, of course. It’s been a long time coming, ever since your father fired mine,” Dick murmured. “It’s too bad. I might have liked you otherwise.”

“What?” Ryan’s mind whirled. Dick’s father worked for Rupert?

“Did Rupert remember the ten year anniversary today? I’m sure he boasts about it even now. The public termination, the gory suicide. I watched him die, you know.” Dick paused to catch his breath, or perhaps it was for effect.

“Who…?” Ryan struggled to remember if Rupert had ever mentioned a Preston-Merritt.
“Pallen Hornsby. Don’t pretend with me. You knew all about it.” Dick paused, watching Ryan carefully. “No? Well, no matter. It’s time for my anniversary present to Rupert Sterling Harte.”
Dick strode towards him, his glassy black eyes jittering feverishly.

Was Dick right? Ryan could easily imagine Rupert firing someone without a second thought. Just as he’d sent his only son off to school like a lamb to the slaughter.

As Ryan scrambled back, he knocked over the stand with the velvet rope. He grabbed a book from the bookcase and held it out in front of him like a shield. His arms ached with the strain. How could a book be so heavy? Unlike his father’s books, which were all in mint condition, this book was old and scuffed, bound in dark leather with strange symbols on the cover. He’d never seen anything like it before.

“We’re going to end this now,” Dick yelled. “I’ve been waiting for ten years.”

Ryan kicked the rope from around his feet and staggered back again, but he was near the window now and there was nowhere else to go. Nothing left between him and Dick. An icy hand squeezed at his heart. Should he cry out? He’d already made a fool of himself several times today. Voices approached, louder than the usual library voices. It sounded like the headmaster among them. They’d heard Dick yelling, Ryan thought with relief.

Dick cursed, pulled something from inside his jacket and whipped it at him.

Time seemed to slow and Dick appeared very far away now. Ryan stared as the knife flipped end over end, spinning towards him, motes of dust swirling oddly around it in the sunlight. Shouldn’t his life be flashing in front of his eyes? Oh yeah, he didn’t have a life. He could see the headlines now. Billionaire’s Son Assassinated by Psychotic Classmate – Never Kissed a Girl Yet. He wondered vaguely who would play him in the TV movie.

The sounds of the library faded away. He could no longer hear anything except the beat of his heart and the echoing rush of his blood as it whooshed in and out of his head. The knife was very close now. He jerked the book up in front of his face and the blade pierced the cover with a loud thunk.

A wind rose, swirling his hair on end, as it sent a shudder rippling down his back. The book convulsed and suddenly disintegrated in his hands, ripped apart from within. A shrieking noise tore at his ears as if the words on the pages were screaming at him and a shockwave of blinding incandescence slammed into him. Ryan blew backwards through the library window, shards of glass like tiny projectiles all around him.

And then he was falling through the warm spring sunlight.

The white of the soccer goal stood sharp against the vivid green of the field far in the distance. As he somersaulted over backwards, he could see bits of glass sparkling below him, dropping towards the stone steps bordered by the black iron railing.

The glass hit the stone below with a twinkling sound, pieces bouncing every which way. The spikes on the top of the railing seemed to reach up for him then, to caress him. He felt an instant of shock.

And everything went black.


Kathy Milne has always been a voracious reader but it never occurred to her to write anything herself until she saw an article in the Oakville Beaver entitled “How to Get Published”, about a workshop being led by Brian Henry. It took 10 months (and several more workshop articles) before she finally got up the nerve to attend one of his Saturday classes. That was 5 years and many workshops and Intensive Writing courses ago. Her novel in progress, Fire's First Breath is a fantasyadventure for juveniles. On Sept 16, 2009, she read the first chapter, "Shockwave," at CJ's Cafe.

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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nancy Yost says thanks

Dear Brian,

You'd be gratified to know of the number of queries generated by your QBFox site; clearly you're reaching a pretty substantial audience.

Thought you - and your readers - might like to know that the agency is actually up and running, and has been since July. Designing the website has taken a backseat to more immediate concerns (authors first, bells and whistles later!), but it is finally up on the web (, and is really the best place to direct queries.

Also, fyi, two colleages from Lowenstein-Yost have joined me here: Zoe Fishman Shacham, Foreign Rights Mgr/Agent, and Natanya Wheeler, Associate Agent. They are accepting queries as well. We're all looking forward to finding new and interesting writers.

Thank you so much for passing along the word about my new (ad)venture! It's a supportive and generous thing to do - but, then, I happen to think publishing people are among the most generous and supportive!

All best,
Nancy Y.

Photo: Nancy Yost (centre), Carrie Ferron, Executive Editor, Avon Books (left), and author Laura Lippman (right)

Notes: For the scoop on Nancy's new agency and what she and her two co-agents are looking for see here.

On Oct 4, I'll be leading a “How to Get Published” workshop on in Toronto, with a literary agent for a guest speaker. Details here.
For information about my writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Myrsini Stephanides joins the Carol Mann Agency

Carol Mann Agency
55 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10003

For the past 10 years, Myrsini Stephanides has been a nonfiction editor and book packager of illustrated books. Now she's switched to the agenting side of the business, joining the Carol Mann Agency. Myrsini will focus on pop culture, music, humor, popular science, narrative nonfiction, and memoir, as well as offbeat literary, graphic, and YA fiction.

Hitherto, the Carol Mann Agency has mostly represented parenting books, history/politics/current affairs, business/investing/finance, and health books. So looks like they’ve brought Myrsini in to broaden their range and spice things up.

And of course as she’s new to the agenting world, Myrsini needs authors.

Submission guidelines:
Illustration: Pop culture to the rescue.

Note: On Oct 4, Brian Henry will be leading a “How to Get Published” workshop on in Toronto, with a literary agent for a guest speaker. Details here.
For information about all of Brian’s writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How I started writing, Sharon Bernas

When I first decided to take writing seriously, I was all alone wondering how to connect with other people who don’t yawn at the mention of back story or point of view. A friend mentioned she’d seen an ad in our local library for ‘How to Write and Sell a Romance Novel’, a workshop being offered in our neighbourhood.
I eagerly registered even though I didn’t write romance. I didn’t care. A writer’s workshop would have writers—genre was unimportant ... more

Note: I still lead the "How to Write and Sell a Romance" workshop that Sharon refers to. I'm offering it this Saturday, Sept 26, in Brampton. Details here.
You can find information about all my writing workshop and creative writing courses here.

Call for submissions - Stories of Faith and Prayer

Do you have a story to tell? As part of a fundraiser for Eramosa Eden Retreat Centre, I am compiling a book of inspiring stories for a Christian organization.

If you have a story between 100 words and 1,000 (approximately) about how prayer or your faith either sustained you or inspired you to greater heights, I would love to see it. References to scriptures that were particularly significant or meaningful to you are most welcome.
Editorial suggestions may be made, but any changes would be done with your approval, so don't worry about grammar or punctuation. We want the heart and soul of your story and how your faith or a specific prayer got you through a troubling time.

Author retains full rights to their story. Please let me know if you are using a pseudonym or wish to remain anonymous.

When the book is accepted each author will be paid $50 for their story.

I need your story as soon as possible. If you can send it by October 10, that would be great. You can either paste it in the body of an email or attach it as a Word file or an Rich Text Format file. I will let you know if your story will be included in the collection.

Thank you,Gloria Nye

President, Eramosa Eden Retreat Centre

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

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Unhanged Arthur

In the world of Canadian crime novels, winning an Arthur Ellis Award puts you at the top of the heap. Besides the awards for published novels, the Crime Writers of Canada also award the Unhanged Arthur for the best unpublished manuscript.

Last year, the due date for submitting your manuscript was Nov 1. It’s probably the same this year, but the Crime Writers of Canada haven’t updated their website or replied to my email asking for details of this year's contest. This is good news - disorganized contests tend to have few entries, giving you a good chance to win!

So start polishing your mystery novel.

Assuming all is the same as last year, the contest winner will receive a special Arthur Ellis Award, a cash prize from McArthur and Company, and Kim McArthur will critique the winning manuscript. Also, McArthur and Company will have first refusal on the work (meaning they will have the option of being the first to make you an offer on your manuscript, which you can accept or not).

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

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy New Year

The New Year – 5770 on the Jewish calendar – begins this evening at sundown. Known as Rosh Ha-Shannah, the new year commemorates God’s creation of the world. Specifically it’s the anniversary of the creation of man and woman.
The most important part of the holiday is to listen to the blowing of the shofar – a hollowed-out ram’s horn. The sound of the shofar reminds us to return to God or, in secular terms, to pay attention to what’s important in life.
Those of you familiar with your bible will have read about shofars, translated as “trumpets,” such as the trumpets that knocked down the walls of Jericho or the great trumpet that will usher in the end of days.
If you're wondering what that will sound like, and what Rosh Ha-Shannah sounds like every year, have a listen here.
Shana tova! A good year to one and all.

"The Proposal," Patricia Howard

Engagements are the place where romantic dreams of eternal love and devotion become reality, where couples promise to be wonderful lovers and friends, to enjoy a lifetime of togetherness and fulfilment. When a man plans to propose, he brings his beloved to a tropical paradise or out for a candlelit dinner at a five star restaurant. When Clive – for that is what we will call him for the sake of this story – proposed to me, those many years ago, all those thoughts about a rose-coloured future flashed through my heart and then, in an instant, reality dawned.

Clive. Six feet seven inches tall, and every inch of that frame a lawyer. He was as unromantic as the day was long, with a huge inferiority complex about his personal life, if that is not a contradiction in terms for a lawyer. He had until that time been unlucky in love, and it showed. He saw me as his last chance for a married life, his step up in the world of the small English town in which we lived. Lawyers there were big fish in a small pond, and a wife was the prerequisite for advancement not only on the social ladder but on the road to partnership in the firm.

Until the late 1970s I, too, had been a late bloomer. But in my mid-twenties and having spent several years in college, I was about to realise the dream of carving out my own career. I was about to embark upon a new adventure that would take me far from home, into the unknown, and without much of a safety net. Could I be turned from my path by a promise of a future in a small urban town? As I faced stepping into the unknown, perhaps I, too, fleetingly saw marriage as a lifeline.

The Proposal, when it came, took me by complete surprise, hard though it is to believe that someone of Clive’s nature could have a sudden flash of emotional attachment and surprise anyone. In retrospect, I now put that flash down to pure panic.

We had spent the evening before my departure having dinner at a small restaurant. We discussed how very sensible we were not to make any future plans, as long-distance relationships rarely worked. We would wait and see, and if our attachment to each other proved to be a bond that time and distance could not sever, then we could re-think the whole situation upon my return in a year’s time. Yes, very sensible indeed. Was I therefore prepared for The Proposal the next morning when Clive came to drive me to the airport?

Uh, no. Ever the romantic, Clive simply stowed my suitcases in the trunk and in silence turned the car in the direction of the highway. We had only been driving a few minutes when he casually asked: “You know how sensible we were last night at dinner, when we discussed the future and making no commitments?”

Somewhat taken aback by this matter of fact question and with absolutely no inkling of what he was leading to, I replied simply, “Yes, I do remember.”

“Well,” said Clive, “would you like to change your mind?”

“All right,” I said. And that was it. The Proposal.

A flash of Michael Schumacher then suddenly gripped this staid individual as he became a driver possessed. The car screamed all around the roundabout, exiting not towards the airport but towards his mother’s home in completely the opposite direction. Luckily, during this frenetic drive on an early winter Sunday morning, there was little traffic and no police car to witness our break-neck dash away from our original destination. When we arrived at the house, Clive’s mother was jumping up and down at the window, beaming from ear to ear. Clive had told her that if I said no to his marriage proposal, he would drive straight to the airport; but if I said yes, we would come back home first to let her know.

Kisses all around. Beaming smiles. And then we remembered that planes don’t wait and had to make a low-flying dash to Heathrow Airport. I boarded the plane and headed off to pastures new, still not wholly believing what had happened in the preceding few hours. Had my unromantic Clive suddenly found a spark of emotion? Was that the end of the story? Did we live happily ever after?

Uh, no. A month later Clive came to visit me for Christmas. The initial euphoria of our rushed change-of-mind had diminished, and the reality of being a small-town lawyer’s wife, spending my days making preserves, organising teas with the Mayor’s wife for suitably noble charitable causes, rubbing shoulders at fetes and other social events with the wives of senior partners in the firm, all developed a slightly surrealistic air in my mind’s eye. It did have a certain charm about it. It smacked of respectability and stability, of safety, and of a ready-made, mapped-out future that would probably be beyond my control. But, if I could toe the line and be the perfect lawyer’s wife, would that be a life I could enjoy? It would be so very different to the path I had chosen for myself, a career in a foreign land, where the hostile and unfriendly natives were not to be trifled with. Yet, at times the life Clive offered did indeed seem quite attractive.

Two months later, I was able to return to England for a week’s vacation. This trip gave us an opportunity meet the Vicar and book the church, as well as to buy an engagement ring to officially cement our future union. I rather hoped that Clive would make up for his somewhat unromantic initial proposal, and while we doubtless would not have the palm trees, sea and sand, with an orchestra playing softly in the background – this was England in a dreary February, after all – I thought at least that Clive would arrange something a little special. Did it happen that way?

Uh, no. It was a Saturday afternoon. We parked the car in the town centre and made our way through the crowded shopping mall to the local jeweller. I had no idea what Clive had in mind for an engagement ring, but he was apparently prepared to leave the choice to me. However, that rather left open the question of exactly how much he wished to spend. When he said twenty pounds – which is about $40 – I thought I hadn’t heard him correctly. Even 30 years ago this wasn’t exactly extravagant.

“Twenty pounds?” I asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “I thought ten pounds would suffice, but Mother said she doubted we’d find anything for that price.” After a pause, he added: “Just remember, whatever I spend on your ring will mean there is less to spend on bricks and mortar for a house.” Ever practical, that’s Clive.

For a fleeting instant I wondered what it would be like to wear a house brick on my third finger, but put the question out of my mind. We found the jeweller, found a ring even, though it cost Clive eight pounds more than he had budgeted. Back we went to the car. He put the tiny box in my hand and said, simply, “There you are.”

“Well, aren’t you going to put it on my finger?” I asked.

So, Clive removed the ring in all its sparkly splendour from the velvet-lined box, and slid it on to my third finger, while we sat in the multi-storey car park on a cold February afternoon with condensation dripping off the concrete walls and ceiling. As he placed the ring on my finger, Clive quoted the law to me, chapter and verse, about should the marriage not take place, the engagement ring would legally be his property and should be returned to him.

Well, you may be asking, do I still have the ring? Uh, no. After a great deal of soul-searching I realised that a life of social teas as the wife of a staid lawyer without a romantic bone in his body would not be in my future. Even though the church was booked, the dress ordered and my grandmother had made the three-tiered wedding cake, it was time to be brutally honest and admit that my heart beat to a different drum.

Clive went on to marry someone else and have a family and, years later, he is now a senior partner in the firm. I went on to a career that took me far from that old market town, to different challenges and to far-from-safe environments. I did, eventually, meet my lover, with all the violins playing and the palm trees swaying in my head.
Was the next proposal the same as the first? Uh, no... But that is a whole new story.


After a career that took her to many parts of the world, Patricia Howard has found that Brian Henry's courses have been the catalyst for her to write about her experiences. She now lives in Burlington with her husband and menagerie of cats, dogs and tropical fish. Patricia read “The Proposal” at the reading night at CJ’s CafĂ© on Sept 16.

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and courses, see here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stacia Decker moves to Donald Maass Agency

Donald Maass Literary Agency
Suite 801
121 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

A few months ago, I reported that editor Stacia Decker had moved over to the agenting side of the business and had joined Firebrand Literary (here). Now Stacia has moved up in the agenting world and has joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

But she's still a new agent, and new agents need clients. She represents mystery, suspense, noir, and crime fiction and is looking for a strong voice, dark humor, fast-paced plotting, and unpredictable violence.

Email her at with the query letter and first 5 pages pasted into the body of the e-mail.

The Donald Maass Literary Agency specializes in fiction. "All genres are welcome. We handle many authors of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, horror, romance, historical, literary and mainstream novels. mainly writing commercial fiction."

Do they work with previously unpublished writers? "Yes, all the time."

Profiles of all the agents at the Donald Maass agency and submission guidelines here.

Note: On Oct 4, in Toronto, I'll be leading a seminar on "How to Get Published" with literary agent Alisha Sevigny as my guest speaker. Details here.

Find information on all Brian Henry's upcoming writing workshops and creative writing courses here.

Photo: Stacia Decker (left) with Harcourt editors Jennifer Bassett and Gregory Henry

The Cooke Agency makes a smart move

Dean Cooke and Sally Harding, co-owners of The Cooke Agency, announced they’ve formed a new company, the Cooke Agency International. CA International will sell foreign rights on behalf of Canadian publishers and literary agencies. McClelland & Stewart and Random House of Canada will be the new agency’s first customers.

Suzanne Brandreth, the Subsidiary Rights Director for the Cooke Agency, will oversee the new agency. Many Quick Brown Fox readers will know Suzanne as one of the guest speakers at a “From the Horse’s Mouth” seminar I hosted at Ryerson University. Congratulations, Suzanne!

Obviously this new business is good for the Cooke Agency, and I think, good for the publishers, too. Outsourcing the sale of foreign rights and other subsidiary rights will save the publishers money that they can invest in their authors and staff. Also, with the combined Random House and M&S list to play with, CA International should be able to get more attention from large foreign publishers.

Read the full announcement on Canada Newswire here.
Photo left to right: Suzanne Brandreth, Mary Hu (reader), Dean Cooke, and Sally Harding.

About the Cooke Agency: The Cooke Agency, one of Canada's leading literary agencies representing bestselling and award-winning authors from Canada and around the world including Guy Vanderhaeghe, Richard Wright, John Irving, and Sarah Waters.

Unfortunately, The Cooke Agency isn’t accepting queries or submissions except by recommendation. But many agents are actively looking for authors, and keeping track of such agents is one of the purposes of this blog. Check out the list here.

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

Monday, September 14, 2009

McArthur & Company

McArthur & Company
322 King Street West, Suite 402
Toronto, ON M5V 1J2
(416) 408-4007

McArthur & Company is a Canadian-owned and operated publisher and distributor of Canadian and international fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Besides its impressive general list, McArthur publishes many mysteries and distributes internationally renowned crime writers such as Ian Rankin.

It was founded in May 1998 when Time Warner closed Little, Brown Canada, the company Kim McArthur had started in Canada and run since 1987. McArthur found initial investors, hired most of the Little Brown staff, bought the backlist of books and author contracts from Time Warner and started the new company three weeks after the closure.

In its first eight years, the company has had 63 bestsellers, 21 of them #1 bestsellers evenly split between Canadian and international authors.

McArthur & Company does not accept unsolicited submissions. Your best routes into this company is through an agent, a recommendation from someone in the business, such as one of their authors, or through becoming a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada’s Unhanged Arthur Award for best unpublished crime novel.

McArthur & Company home:

Note: for information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and courses, see here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

James McIntyre poetry contest

This poetry contest is open to of all ages, everywhere: JK and SK, all school grades, and Adult.

Suggested subjects for poems: Cheese poems and dairy odes; the Town of Ingersoll today; the history of Ingersoll; famous people of Ingersoll; anything that stirs your poetic imagination

Categories of poetry for the contest: Rhyming verse, Limerick, Haiku, Free verse

James McIntrye possessed a genius for writing truly awful verse. The way to win this contest, though, is to write an excellent poem (or two or three). Your poem may be serious or silly and related to Ingersoll or not. With many different age groups and different categories of verse (sometimes invented on the spot by the judges), this contest has lots of winners, and it’s open to everyone.

Contest judges: Brian Henry for the school age division, and Stephanie Gunter for the adult division.

Entries due by: October 9

Winning poems will be published in the Ingersoll Times.
Winning poets will be honoured at the James McIntyre Poetry Evening on November 26.

About James McIntyre and more on the contest here:

For your amusement, Arc Poetry Magazine has an article by Zachariah Wells about James McIntyre and how very bad poems work here:

Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and courses, see here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Glimmer Train Stories

Glimmer Train is a prestigious literary quarterly that particularly likes short stories by new and lightly published writers. Publishing industry professionals take great notice of Glimmer Train. When a new issue comes out, an average of 15 agents call, asking to contact the authors featured inside.

Glimmer Train accepts submissions in July and October with no reading fee and pays $700 for published stories.

Each month also features a themed contest (or two), for which there are reasonable reading fees and substantial prizes.

Themes for September (stories accepted Sept 1 – Sept 30):

Best Start
Best Start is meant to encourage new writers to tackle that story! The piece should be an engaging and coherent narrative, but it does not need to be a complete story; it needs to be an important part of a story in progress. You could think of it as a writing sample, but we hope you'll feel free to reach a bit. Maybe you're experimenting with a new voice, developing a character, working on clarity in a complex bit of plot or trying to make your dialogue believable and significant. You could be playing with point of view, working to build tension, or looking for a satisfying ending. Or you might be two pages into something brand new.
Reading fee: $10 per piece.
Prizes: The 50 most engaging pieces will each win $50 and make Glimmer Train's Best Start list, which will be announced in our bulletin and in a number of other online publications.

Fiction Open:
Open to all writers, all themes, so have at it! Word count: 2,000 - 20,000
Reading fee: $20 per story.
1st place wins $2000, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue.
2nd-place: $1000

Themes for October (stories accepted Oct 1 through Oct 31):

Family Matters
We are interested in reading your original, unpublished short stories about family! Stories not to exceed 12,000 words.(No minimum, though it's rare for a piece under 500 words to read as a full story.)
This category has stimulated lots of questions about fiction/non-fiction/creative nonfiction, since many people have significant real-life stories they want to write. It seems to us that a substantial proportion of fiction submissions are heavily rooted in actual experience, which is entirely fine with us, but we do want stories to READ like fiction and anything we publish is presented as fiction. (Also, sticking too tightly to "truth" can limit the larger truth that fiction is able to reveal.) I would certainly recommend changing details that would allow the real-life people to say, Hey, that character is - without a doubt - me. I hope that makes sense.
Reading fee: $15 per story.
1st place wins $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue.
2nd place: $500
3rd place:$300

Standard Story Submission:
We are interested in reading your original, unpublished short stories!
Free – no reading fee.
Payment for accepted stories: $700, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 10 copies of that issue.
Stories not to exceed 12,000 words.(No minimum, though it's rare for a piece under 500 words to read as a full story.)

Note: for information about Brian Henry’s writing workshops and courses, see here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kasma Magazine - call for submissions

There’s a new quarterly journal starting up. Kasma Magazine of Ottawa will publish its first issue in print and on-line December 1, 2009. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

“Welcome To Kasma Magazine. We are dedicated to publishing only the best fiction from established and new writers from all over the world. Each issue will feature four new and original works.
Currently accepting submissions.

"We do not limit ourselves to any specific genre, although admittedly, we do have a soft spot for science fiction. We ask that the work submitted is original and thought provoking, and is limited to under 5000 words.

“We only accept email submissions. Please put “Submission” on the subject line and paste the submission in the body of the email. We do not open attachments.

“We do pay a token amount to the author for every story that we accept, which averages about seven to ten dollars. We wish we could pay more, but at the moment we are a small magazine.

“If Kasma Magazine buys your story, we buy first rights to publish it in both our print and online magazines, as well as the right to publish it in any subsequent anthologies.”

Send submissions to:

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

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"Writing Your Life," London, Nov 28

The London Public Library presents…
“Writing your life and other true stories”
~ With guest, author Ross Pennie ~

Saturday, November 28
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
London Central Library, 251 Dundas St, London
In the Galleria Mall (Map here.)

Have you ever considered writing your memoirs or family history? This workshop will introduce you to the tricks and conventions of telling true stories and will show you how to use the techniques of the novel to recount actual events. Whether you want to write for your family or for a wider public, don't miss this workshop.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He has helped many of his students get published, including our guest speaker, Dr. Ross Pennie...

Ross Pennie is the author of The Unforgiving Tides, a doctor’s memoir of Papua New Guinea (Manor House Publishing). Ross has also signed a contract with ECW Press for three medical mystery novels. The first of these, Tainted, came out in April. Dr. Pennie will speak on how to turn ordinary life into dramatic material and will answer questions about how he wrote his memoir and got it published. Check out Ross's website here:

Register and pay by credit card simply by phoning the Program Registration Office: 519-661-5122

Fee: $45

Or you can pay by cheque or credit card at the Program Services Desk at the Central Library, or mail your cheque to…

Attention: "Writing Your Life" seminar
Program Services Desk
London Public Library
251 Dundas Street
London, ON N6A 6H9

Please do register in advance. If we don’t have enough people paid in advance, the program won’t go. On the other hand, this is usually a popular workshop. If you don’t pay in advance, there is no guarantee you’ll get a seat.

For more information, email:

Note: For information about all of Brian Henry's upcoming writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two new agents for children’s lit

Barry Goldblatt Literary
320 7th Avenue, #266
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Barry Goldblatt Literary specializes in children’s lit – picture books, chapter books, middle-grade books, and teen books. The company has two new agents, who have recently moved from the publishing side of the industry into agenting. Do remember that new agents need authors.

Beth Fleisher was formerly an editor with The Berkeley Publishing Group. Her passions are science fiction, fantasy and graphic novels, but she handles all kinds of kids' stuff. She is particularly interested in finding new voices in middle grade and young adult fantasy, science fiction, mystery, historicals and action adventure. She is also looking to represent “select children's and adult nonfiction" – whatever that means.

Beth says: "As both a reader and an agent (it’s the same thing, really – you have to represent books you are passionate about) I am looking for forward-thinking writers with a strong individual voice. A writer must not write to a perceived marketing trend. (Dare I say vampire novels?)

"What perhaps the novice writer doesn’t know is that it is so very, very apparent when an author is not fully engaged with their work — when they are writing for a market. The writing rings false, and that translates to a very dissatisfying read.

"So, my words of advice: Only write what you love. Think forward: a new creative voice, not a re-telling of a previous bestseller. And on of my pet peeves: Take the time and effort to fully render the setting of your story. It strikes me as very amateurish when the writer develops plot and characters, but not setting. Setting is a character in the best of books (think everything from Wuthering Heights to Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, to Harry Potter)."

Joe Monti was the Director of Paperbacks at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and before that he was the Children’s Fiction Buyer (age 7 and up) for Barnes and Noble, so Joe knows what sells in the market.

Joe wants children’s and teen fiction, but he’s also wants some genre fiction for adults, especially fantasy and science fiction. Plus Joe wants to represent writer-artists, working on everything from picture books to graphic novels.

Joe says: "What I'm looking for and not getting is great non-genre middle grade fiction, because as much as I love genre fiction with a fierce passion, there is nothing finer to me than reading a middle grade novel that can accomplish so much, so elegantly, and with minimal word choice. I like to cite Jerry Spinelli’s Loser as my example of this.

"Another deep interest is YA science fiction. While I think Burgess’s Smack, followed by Anderson’s Speak were the two biggest initial, critical successes, Von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl series deserves equal time as a herald, as it proved to publishers that there was a large female readership here and that they should publish towards it.

In other words, Gossip Girl was the gateway fiction the YA category needed to jumpstart it. I feel that smart, high-action science fiction (and action thrillers) will help to do the same for male readers. Give me some smart military science fiction for teen boys."

How to submit: Send an e-query to

Include the word "query" in the e-mail subject line. This agency accepts simultaneous submissions, but exclusive ones (designated with the word "exclusive" also in the e-mail subject line) will get priority. Paste your query, your synopsis, and the first five pages of your book into the body of the email. No attachments. You can specify which agent you’re submitting to.
Responds in four weeks to queries and eight weeks to manuscripts.

Note: Brian Henry has two seminars coming up on "How to Get Published" – on Sept 12 in Ingersoll (details here) and on Oct 4 in Toronto (details here).
For information about all of Brian's upcoming writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here