Friday, October 30, 2009

"Where the Water Is," Linda Laforge

I sit here in the black of night beside the graves of those who came before me. Unfortunately, they left before me too, or I wouldn’t be here lamenting on days past. Both my brothers and my dad lay here beneath the earth.

I remember planning these funerals with my mother. The funeral directors – glorified salesmen – tried to sell us the most expensive caskets, with satin pillows, for comfort I suppose, and lead lining so the worms and bugs wouldn’t have a meal of our men.

I’d have to admit, I’m not the best of Catholics, but as I understand the premise, when we die, our souls are going elsewhere. We’re saved, providing we’ve been good enough to get through the pearly gates.

I had difficulty looking at my brother’s dead body. Cerebral Palsy jailed him within his body, unable to say “Hey, how are ya,” and unable to grow up to run, play, learn and unable to ever have a life of his own. I watched him suffer his whole life and I watched him find joy in chocolate birthday cake and family visits to his nursing home. I had to pray beside his dead body with my family and when I looked at it, I didn’t see him there. It wasn’t in the absence of breath or movement. He just wasn’t there.

David died a few years later. He had AIDS, so the funeral home insisted that he be cremated. That disease ravaged the body of a young, strong, vibrant man who died in the presence of my parents. When I got home, to my mother’s annoyance, I wouldn’t go downstairs to see him. I already knew. He wasn’t there. Seeing his broken carcass would do nothing more than make me sick to my stomach over what he had endured. A broken heart was enough.

Seven years later I watched my father deteriorate for a month in the hospital. This time I got to tell him how much I loved and admired him. I got to tell him I was sorry for the times I was a selfish, rotten daughter. I got to say goodbye before they pulled the plug. At that point, the machines were keeping him alive in a clinical sense, but I felt his presence too.

At his funeral I watched his casket from a distance. He wasn’t there. Christopher wasn’t there. David wasn’t there when they burned him to ashes. None of them are in the ground as the worms and the bugs make a meal of their bodies. Their souls are soaring off in some magnificent journey, while we’re here, left to try to make sense of this world as we bury them and try to let them go.

That’s why I come here. To sit by their headstones and talk to them. I know I can talk to them from anywhere. This black night I sit here and almost see their rotting corpses beneath me and their brilliant spirits in flight above. I’m in the middle, but what makes me so different? I’m alive and so are those ghosts of fancy. The worms and bugs below are alive, and don’t they have a right to a good meal?

Life, even unseen and imagined is around me as I seek a meager understanding of it. I think the only difference between my life and those of the spirits is water. From what I hear a human being is 75% or more water, not unlike the planet we live on. We need at least a few litres a day for good health and energy.

We use it to bathe in and to clean most of our things. We use water to cook with and to eat with. Water relaxes us. It calms us as we swim in it and even as we watch it reflect the blue sky. Oceans, seas and lakes provide a source of food to us, with all its critters swimming and wriggling around in it. We drink it and we pee it out almost as fast. It feels good as we drink it and even better as we relieve ourselves of it.

We like to talk of how we reinvent ourselves. Nothing reinvents itself with the fluidity of water as it’s poured into a glass or as it pours from a river into a lake or an ocean. Nothing is more immense or more attractive. Even the sky, almost as big, if it wasn’t the purveyor of rain that it is. Like God, it is everywhere and in everything. Only the desert knows different, and is likely the reason hell is often described as burning.

Water is the difference between us and them.


Angels are usually depicted with great wings and pleasant faces. Cherubs pointing darts at peoples, I suppose because love hurts. When a movie ghost has a drink, the liquid runs through their non-corporeal selves onto the furniture. These guys don’t live here the way we do. They don’t have thirsts to quench. They don’t need to take a shower. They don’t need water.
Do they need love? Do they have jobs to do up there in the heavens? They must; otherwise they’re living the lives of house cats and everybody knows cats have the brains the size of chicken eggs. Thinking of these brilliant beings soaring the heavens with messages to deliver and papers to file is the only way I can find for it to make any sense. They’re not like us, but maybe we could be a bit more like them.

I sit here by the graves of my boys in the dark of night, I take a swig of beer and I realize I should probably be drinking water. A tear comes to my eye. We even need water to cry.
Do spirits cry? I take another swig and remember stories of religious icons crying. A statue of the Virgin Mary crying blood and even a marble Jesus with true tears.

There’s my proof.

I shed another liberating tear, just because I miss my brothers and my dad. I shed a tear because the world is so full of uncertainty and contradiction.

When the spirits cry, it’s because of us. When they cry, they have to do it here, on earth, where the water is.


After 15 years in the marketing industry as a graphic designer, Linda Laforge now devotes herself to painting, writing, and teaching drawing classes for kids and adults at the Huronia Arts Academy in Barrie. Check out her website here:

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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Canadian Stories, a literary folk magazine

Canadian Stories features family stories, personal experiences and memories of the past. It is written by "ordinary" Canadians sharing material that is extraordinary.

Publisher Ed Janzen says: "Readers identify strongly with our stories and reach back into their own memory banks to find pleasure and strength in their own histories.

"In Canadian Stories, you will find excerpts from olden-day memoirs alongside new material set in the present. We have also published essays speculating about the future. We like family stories about pioneer days, and about life during the Great Depression and the World Wars. Country life, the joys of moving, encounters with animals, vacation experiences, the significance of Remembrance Day – these are just some of the themes that have been presented in Canadian Stories.

"Traditional, structured poems and free verse sprinkle our pages. Children's stories are welcome; in fact, we have a young writers' page for authors aged ten to nineteen. Some fiction is also offered, particularly if it is Canadian in setting, plot or characters."

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

George Bick joins Doug Grad Literary Agency

Doug Grad Literary Agency
156 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215

George Bick has joined the Doug Grad Literary Agency as an associate agent. A sales and marketing veteran of over twenty years at Warner Books, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins, he was most recently svp, director of sales and associate publisher.

George is actively looking for narrative non-fiction, business, diet/self-help, pets/animals, science, humor, pop culture, travel, and memoir.

In fiction, he wants science fiction, horror/paranormal, thrillers, military, romance and comics and graphic novels.

The Doug Grad Agency is new. It opened for business on May 1, 2008, after Doug had spent the previous twenty-two years as a senior editor at four major New York publishing houses: HarperCollins, Penguin, Ballantine, and Simon & Shuster.

The agency handles a mix of non-fiction and fiction. In fiction, Doug has mainly handled first novels - mostly mysteries or crime fiction.
See a list of the agency’s sales here:

Submission guidelines: Query by email:
Please do not send more than a brief letter explaining your book. No sample material unless requested.


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

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jennifer Bushman, Eat Planet

Jennifer Bushman is one of the most talented emerging writers I know. You can check out a chapter from her novel in progress, The Ming Bowl, here.

Over the course of a year, Jennifer's attempting to cook a recipe from every country in the world, and she's writing about it on her blog, Eat planet. Discover the world.
She doesn't just give the recipe, she also writes about the country the recipe's from, so her blog becomes part memoir, part travelogue and part fabulous recipe book.

Recently, I've especially loved her posting about Bhutan, where they eat seriously spicy food and "embrace the concept of gross national happiness as opposed to gross national product." But my favorite recent posting is on Benin, Voodoo and Lagos ...

When I was five we moved to Lagos, Nigeria. I loved living there, but my mother was relieved when we finally left two years later. We had to deal with coups, power shortages, American hatred, and bouts of hepatitis. There was always the fear we’d stumble across a dead body lying around. They were common on Ikorudu Road near the airport where there was lots of heavy traffic; people would get hit by cars and left lying in the street. Bodies were also seen floating in the harbor washed up along the beach. And then there was always the chance you’d have a juju put on your house ... more

Photo: Kewa Datshi and Ema Dashi, two dishes from Bhutan

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

Writers' Union Short Prose Contest

The Writers' Union of Canada
Short prose contest for developing writers

Entries restricted to Canadian citizens or landed immigrants who have not been published in book form.
First place: $2,500
Entry fee: $25
Submit nonfiction or fiction up to 2,500 words.
Deadline: November 3

Note: To keep up with all the annual writing contests in Canada, order The Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar. Details here.

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

Saturday, October 24, 2009

You're invited to a book launch

Hi Brian,

We wanted to let you and the readers of Quick Brown Fox know that our second novel, Ciao Bella, is available in Canada and the U.S. from St. Martin’s Press as of October 13, 2009.

We will be having two launch parties, to which all are invited:

Sunday November 1
2-4 pm
Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, 55 Ontario Street, Kingston
Hosted by Novel Idea Bookstore
Wednesday November 4
7-9 pm
Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay Street, Toronto

Thanks for all your support!

Gina Buonaguro & Janice Kirk

About Ciao Bella

When her husband, Ugo, joins the Italian Resistance, the Canadian Grace becomes Graziella and goes to hide with Ugo's family in the countryside. When Ugo fails to return, even after the war is over, Grace begins to feel stranded and isolated, especially since Ugo’s family has never approved of his marriage. The arrival of a young American soldier makes her remember her long-lost life as Grace, and she begins to dream about leaving Italy. Are love and loyalty permanent, or does the horror of war remove certain obligations? A compelling combination of romance, adventure, and serious thought, this slim novel is sure to appeal to many audiences.

Gina Buonaguro was born in New Jersey and now resides in Toronto. Janice Kirk was born and lives in Kingston. Ciao Bella follows up on their first successful novel, The Sidewalk Artist. They are now working on their third novel together. Gina and Janice are represented by John Pearce at Westwood Creative Artists.  For information about Westwood, see here.

For more about Ciao Bella, please visit:

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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"My Last Tweet," Gene Wilburn

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t get Twitter. But with everyone advising you to use it in conjunction with Facebook and other social media to keep an Internet profile, I gave it a try.

I located some friends and ‘followed’ their ‘tweets’. I followed the tweets of some well known personalities. I tried Twitter as an ‘update service’ to let me know about articles, news items, and new web entries.

I understood all this, but I still didn’t get it ... more

If you've come to any of my workshops at the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, you may have met Gene. He blogs here.

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

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gwendolyn Heasley joins A&A

Artists & Artisans
244 Madison Avenue,
Suite 334,
New York, NY

Gwendolyn Heasley has joined A&A as a literary agent. Gwendolyn is the author of the upcoming YA novel, Confessions of a Teenage Recessionista, which will be published by HarperCollins.

She earned her B.A. from Davidson College in North Carolina, and her Master’s degree in Journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia where she wrote her thesis on why women read Us Weekly. In the past, she has sold greeting cards and taught creative writing to young adults.

You'll notice Gwendolyn's bio inculdes no publishing experience at all, and so far as I know, she hasn't made any sales yet, so she's as green as they come. On the plus side, she's certainly in need of authors.

Gwendolyn is actively seeking authors of Young Adult manuscripts of all genres, specifically manuscripts that have a sharp voice and vivid settings.

Adam Chomry and Jamie Brenner, the other two agents at A&A, are seeking authors of adult fiction, narrative nonfiction and practical nonfiction.

Submission guidelines: Query via email. For fiction, include a brief author bio and the set-up or premise of the book. For non-fiction, begin by reading Larsens's "How to Write a Book Proposal" and Deval's "Publicize Your Book."

Note: On Nov 14, Brian Henry will be moderating the seminar, Strategies for Getting Published, at Ryerson University in Toronto. This is your chance to get your questions answered by the most knowledgeable people in the publishing industry. Our three panelists will be literary agent Marie Campbell of Transatlantic Literary, Beverley Daurio, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Mercury Press, and Jack David, co-publisher, ECW. Full details here.

For information about all of Brian’s writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Cynic online magazine

The publishers of The Cynic are anything but cynical. They welcome beginners and define their mission as: "To give people a voice, a place to publish their work and share it with others. In fact, our goal is to help people polish their work. We try to be as unbiased in the content we accept as possible. Our major criteria are that the work is well written, does not promote racism and is in moderately good taste."

The Cynic accepts short stories, novels for serialization, opinion pieces, poetry, parodies, and artwork.
Submission guidelines here:

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

We’re reading out loud at CJ’s Café

Tuesday, Dec 8
6:30 p.m.CJ's Café in Bronte
2416 Lakeshore Rd W, Oakville
(On the south side of Lakeshore, next to Lick’s ice cream)

Participants in the Advanced Creative Writing course will be reading aloud from their work. Come and be blown away!

Meanwhile, be sure to check out all the other great stuff going on at CJ’s, home of the best lattes in North America :

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

Friday, October 16, 2009

Canadian Authors Festival, Oct 16 - 18, Ottawa

Ottawa, Canada will play host to the Canadian Authors Festival October 16 through 18, 2009. Presented by Baico Publishing Inc., this exciting first-ever annual event will be an excellent opportunity for Canadian authors to gain valuable exposure and expand their marketing and networking opportunities.

The festival will feature special guest authors, including best-selling author Peggy McColl, and will include live entertainment, author readings every half-hour, and information sessions for authors.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Teresa Kietlinski joins Prospect Agency

Prospect Agency
285 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, New York
(Near the Bronx Zoo)

"Prospect Agency represents adult, young adult, and children's literature, we are currently looking for the next generation of writers and illustrators to shape the literary landscape.

“We're a young agency and that's good for you because we're definitely looking for new talent! Agency specialties are romance, women's fiction, literary fiction, urban fantasy and sci-fi, mysteries, young adult/children's literature, and picture book writers and illustrators. We are also open to strong memoirs, narrative non-fiction and selective works of non-fiction from authors with strong established areas of expertise”

Teresa Kietlinski joined Prospect Agency in 2009 after thirteen happy years of working in the publishing industry at Disney-Hyperion, Dial Books for Young Readers, Viking Children's Books, William Morrow and Company, and St. Martin's Press. Teresa has designed and art directed hundreds of children's books of all sizes and shapes, and has worked with amazing talents including Kevin Sherry, David Sonam, LeUyen Pham, Boris Kulikov, Kadir Nelson, Brian Karas and Amy Young. She is now very excited to be on the other side of the fence, representing illustrators and authors whose work she really admires.
As an agent, Teresa is particularly interested in artists who both write and illustrate, but she's looking for anyone who will inspire and spark great things in both children and adults. Now what can you do with a pencil or mousepad?

Teresa lives with her husband and daughter in New Jersey. She loves to laugh really hard, drink margaritas, and get caught in the rain (not necessarily in that order). She reads and writes poetry, has a fondness for cupcakes, and listens to international music. Cesaria Evora and Coraline Clement are always playing while she works. She is a huge Roald Dahl fan and is inspired by all the wacky, witty, and wondrous things around her. To see some recent books that Teresa designed or art directed, click here. Happy Creating!

Submission guidelines: Submit a query letter, three chapters and a brief synopsis through the website here. (Don not submit via mail or email.)
Note: On Nov 14, Brian Henry will be moderating the seminar "Strategies for Getting Published," at Ryerson University in Toronto. This is your chance to get your questions answered by the most knowledgeable people in the publishing industry. Our three panelists will be literary agent Marie Campbell of Transatlantic Literary, Beverley Daurio, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Mercury Press, and Jack David, co-publisher, ECW. Full details here.

For information about all of Brian’s writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

“Spain in Burlington,” by Jennifer Mook-Sang

Let me take you on a trip to Spain. Well, at least to our friends, Carla and Glen’s, house where the Gourmet Supper Club is meeting this month. Earlier, there was a series of e-mails arguing the relative merits of Mediterranean versus Polynesian cuisine. In the end, the tie was broken by the wine possibilities of Spain.

Dishes are approved by Carla so everyone doesn’t show up with a big pot of paella. My husband, Jay, is in charge of alcoholic beverages and happily wanders off to the LCBO.

The morning of our supper, I chop onions, garlic and tomatoes. Fillings and garnishes are prepared and I tuck them into the fridge, along with the sangria, ready to be assembled at Carla and Glen’s. I feel faint from hunger, even though I’m quite well-fed from brunch.

Over the years, we’ve developed a drill. Arrive late at the hosts’ house (I don’t know why, but there’s always something we remember we have to do at the last minute), do greetings, apologies and updates. We learn that Melanie and Rob will be late. Rob’s stitches from a recent surgery are acting up and they’re at the doctor’s.

The first order of business is to open and pour the wines. Once we have our drinks in hand, those who need the oven negotiate times and temperatures with our hostess. We jostle for counter space and begin unwrapping. We sneak peeks in each others’ casseroles, steal a taste, and unpack. Magically, tapas cover the kitchen table. A terrine of gourmet sardines, sliced onions and roasted red peppers bathed in olive oil are offered with hunks of crusty bread. Slices of spicy meat, wedges of creamy cheese, and chunks of peppery, tomatoey pork are set off by crisp crackers. Nibbles of dark, soft, wrinkly olives and crisp, cumin-scented almonds sit beside thyme marinated mushrooms and whole smoked oysters.

The fruit-laden, brandy-fortified sangria is poured and we munch on the appetizers and clink glasses. Some of us get bites in between rolling the puff pastry for the chicken pie and grilling the kebabs for the main course. We catch up on mutual friends and what the kids are up to now. The edges taken off our hunger, we move to the dining room. Carla’s best china and crystal sparkle under the chandelier. Dark reds and forest greens on the plates are picked up by the tinted wine glasses and accented by the silver chargers under the bottles of wine.

The first course is brought in as the second course is popped into the oven. We cut into juicy pork tenderloin and alternate tangy lemony bites of meat with cool, sweet salsa. The melon in the salsa is perfectly ripe and juicy, the bits of cucumber crisp, and the hit of red pepper flakes contrasts perfectly with the rich meat.

Frank regales us with tales of his Dale Carnegie course. Our outspoken friend shares his secret for getting through the motivational course without slitting his own wrists. We listen skeptically as Frank explains how he goes with the flow. He explains that as others burst into tears while speaking to the group, he refrains from bursting into laughter by going to his happy place. When he is called on to introduce himself and is asked to repeat his name ten times, well of course he does. Rachael confirms the outrageous exercises to which her poor husband is subjected. We chuckle at his re-enactment of the first day of his class and clean our plates.

We sit back, satisfied. Melanie and Rob arrive straight from the doctor’s. There was no catastrophe but Rob needs ice for the stitches on his inner thigh. Glen makes up a bag of ice and the arrivals sit down to catch up with the conversation and the food. Dishes cleared, we are treated to a fusion of Spain and Morocco. Puff pastry encloses a soft moist filling of chicken, raisins, pine nuts and almonds, spiced with cumin, chili and cinnamon. A dusting of confectioner’s sugar brings up the sweetness of the fruit and the warm spices. Mixed green salad sharpened by soft goats’ cheese and pomegranate seeds complements the pie. They both disappear. As I help Carla take away the plates, I hear Frank reading from his Gold Dale Carnegie pocket book that, “An unearned criticism may be a compliment.” I decide to try this out.

“I don’t like your top,” I say to Carla. She is taken aback. I tell her that Dale says it’s really a compliment. She is absolutely unconvinced. Dishes have to be washed now. Not many families have enough to serve more than three courses in an evening. Rob comes out to help with the dishes and is the cause of great merriment. The icepack in his pants has sprung a leak, and he looks as though he’s taken a leak. Some rude comments are made and Rob wanders back to the dining room saying sheepishly, “I’m sorry, Melanie…” We are highly entertained.

Despite the huge quantities of food and liquor consumed, our appreciation for the fine cooking always allows us to polish off each dish with only mild protests of fullness. And so the seafood, spicy sausage and chicken paella served with orange avocado salad is given a moment of regard, and then devoured.

No-one has ever turned down dessert. And what a dessert. Dense almond cake soaked in rum syrup and smothered in chocolate ganache. Accompanied by Spanish coffee, of course. Heavy glasses prettily embossed with bees are rimmed with lemon, then a thick coat of sugar. A healthy splash of Kahlua topped with strong coffee and a generous dollop of whipped cream. Heaven.

We talk about funny last names and how names get changed with time. Rob tells us about the woman he worked with named Sharon Grocock. "Grow-cock". She got teased a lot about her name and was finally relieved to get married to a fellow named ...Richard Tucock. "Two..."

As the evening winds down, our thoughts turn to our next dinner together. We’ve been to so many countries that there are not many major cuisines we haven’t sampled. Melanie is the keeper of the book, each dinner’s menu carefully recorded along with the comments and exclamations penned in. Either we’re very good cooks or very generous with our praise. I think we’re extraordinary cooks.

We consult the book to see which country needs to be revisited. As it goes round the table, comments are scratched in beside outstanding dishes. I am pleased. My sangria has been voted “best sangria I ever tasted.” Wait a minute, has the critic has ever tasted sangria before? Carla has a turn at the book and exclaims, “Rob, what a funny comment.”

Rob is bemused. “I didn’t write anything. I haven’t had the book yet.”

“Well, it has your name beside it.”

“What does it say?”

“I think you’d better read it yourself.”

Rob takes the book and reads out loud, “The food was so great, I wet myself.”

Good thing I’ve been to the bathroom or I would have wet myself. Glen eventually confesses to the forgery. Oh the hilarity.

Someone looks at their watch. It’s almost midnight. We agree on Vietnam for next time. We clatter and clash with our dishes and pans out into the night. Goodbye, see you next time. Thanks for having us. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Update, Aug 2016: Since writing this short piece, Jennifer has gone on to write a wildly successful middle grade novel published by Scholastic and has a picture book scheduled for publication with Kids Can Press in 2017. Read about the accolades Jennifer is receiving here. Also, Jennifer will be a guest speaker at the Writing Kids Lit weekly course starting Sept 27, 2016, in Burlington (see here).

When Jennifer Mook-Sang finds a spare moment to spend in her little writing nook, invariably her thoughts turn from the blank page to the beckoning fridge. This is not a surprise since her writing nook is in a corner of the kitchen. Someday she will have a proper desk in a proper study wherein to create wonders of modern language. In the meantime, her desire to write stories to make you laugh and cry does battle with her desire to sit in front of the Food Channel and stuff her face with gourmet cheeses and homemade bread. Writing and cooking. Well, sometimes you can combine the two. Jennifer wrote “Spain in Burlington” as a tribute to her friends in the Gourmet Supper Club. On September 16, she read it aloud at CJ’s Café in Oakville.

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

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Upcoming Writing Workshops

“How to Build Your Story”
~ Plotting novels and writing short stories ~

Saturday, Oct 17 (Details here)
~ Only a couple spots left! ~
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Community Room in Your Independent Grocers
290 First Street North, Gravenhurst, in Muskoka (map)
Fee: $41 in advance ; $45 at the door

Sunday, Nov 1 (Details here)
1 - 5 p.m.
The Oddfellows Hall, 24 Elizabeth Street, Orangeville (map)
Fee: $37 in advance; $40 at the door

This workshop will show you how writers plot a novel. You’ll also get the best tips on writing short stories, where to get them published and how to win contests. Best yet, you’ll see how to apply the story-building techniques you’ve learned to your own writing.
To reserve a spot now, email:

“Writing with style”
~ With guest author Jean-Rae Baxter ~
Saturday, Nov 7
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Port Nelson United Church, 3132 South Drive, Burlington
Discover how to make your writing more vivid, more elegant and more powerful. (Details here.)
Fee: $41 in advance; $45 the door
To reserve a spot now, email

“From the Horse’s Mouth”
~ Strategies for Getting Published ~
Saturday, Nov 14
1 - 4 p.m.
Ryerson University, Toronto
Bring all your questions, and get answers from the most knowledgeable people in the publishing industry. (Details here.)
Moderator: Brian Henry
Marie Campbell, Agent, Transatlantic Literary Agency
Beverley Daurio, Publisher, The Mercury Press
Jack David, co-publisher, ECW Press
Fee: $84
To reserve a spot now, email

Note: For information about all of Brian Henry’s up-coming writing workshops and creative courses with Brian Henry see here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All-Nighter Short Story Writing Contest

Hi Brian,

We’d really appreciate it if you could pass this information along to anyone who may be interested in participating in this unforgettable night for a bunch of really creative people who love a fun challenge!

Do you have a short story to share with the world? Characters to bring to life? A world you’ve created, waiting to see the light of day? Come “pull an all-nighter” at the Burlington Central Library.

Write your mini-masterpiece, starting Friday evening, October 30 at 6 pm and working through till Saturday morning, October 31 at 9 am. Details here.

Best regards,
Lauren Arkell
Burlington Public Library

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

Friday, October 9, 2009

Granta Magazine

The magazine of new writing
12 Addison Avenue
London, UK

Granta is one of the oldest and most prestigious literary journals around. It originated in 1889 at Cambridge University as a student journal and enjoyed a long, distinguished history, publishing everyone from A. A. Milne to Sylvia Plath. In the 1970s it ran into financial trouble and was re-launched in 1979 as a magazine of new writing, with both writers and audience drawn from the world beyond Cambridge. It’s been a huge success (as literary journals go), with every issue still in print.

Granta publishes essays, fiction, memoirs, poetry and reportage and is committed to discovering the finest new fiction and non-fiction from around the world. Its contributors have included Martin Amis, Bill Bryson, Milan Kundera, Ian McEwan and Arundhati Roy.

But Granta doesn’t just publish literary lions. “Every week,” the editors write, “Granta receives short stories from new writers all over the world. We are delighted to be able to showcase the best of those stories on in our New Voices series.

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

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adriana Dominguez joins Full Circle Literary

Full Circle Literary
7676 Hazard Center Drive
Suite 500
San Diego, CA 92108 U.S.A

Adriana Dominguez, former Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children's Books and manager of the children's division of their Latino imprint, Rayo, has recently joining Full Circle Literary, making the transition from editor to agent. Adriana is based in New York and serves as the agencies east coast representative.

Adriana is interested in building a strong list of children's picture books, middle grade novels, and (literary) young adult novels. On the adult side, she is looking for literary, women's, and historical fiction, and in non-fiction, for multicultural, pop culture, how-to, and titles geared toward women of all ages. Do remember that new agents need authors.

Since joining the agency, Adrianna has taken on both adult and children's authors, including award winning author
Reyna Grande, petitcollage founder Lorena Siminovich, and bilingual newcomer Mara Price.

About Full Circle Literary

"We work with a wide range of nonfiction books, as well as children's books, young adult books, and graphic novels. We are particularly interested in new and diverse viewpoints, voices and authors. We welcome literature with a global or multicultural perspective, or work that generally provokes thought in a new and dynamic direction. We are delighted to review work with a Latino or Middle Eastern angle and books related to pop culture or music.

"We do not represent genre fiction (science fiction, fantasy, westerns, crime, horror, mystery, thrillers, detective novels, category romance) screenplays or poetry."

To submit to Full Circle please email a brief, one-page query (in the body of the email, no attachments please) describing your book project and author highlights. To:

About the agents at Full Circle Literary:

On Nov 14, Brian Henry will be moderating the seminar "Strategies for Getting Published," at Ryerson University in Toronto. This is your chance to get your questions answered by the most knowledgeable people in the publishing industry. Our three panelists will be literary agent Marie Campbell of Transatlantic Literary, Beverley Daurio, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Mercury Press, and Jack David, co-publisher, ECW. Full details here.

For information about all of Brian’s writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

"Frostbitten," Kelley Armstrong

New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong returns with the tenth installment of the Women of the Otherworld series, this one set in the Alaskan wilderness. This is the book Kelley Armstrong fans have been waiting for, as Elena Michaels, the narrator of Kelley's very first book Bitten, returns as the star.

Kelley Armstrong used to program computers and attend Brian Henry workshops. Now she's a bestselling novelist. Besides the ten books of the Otherworld series, Kelley is writing a young adult trilogy, Darkest Powers, and a crime series featuring the hitwoman, Nadia Stafford.

Kelley has long been accustomed to being on the New York Times bestsellers list with her Otherworld books, but it was a wonderful surprise when her second book for teens, The Awakening, shot to number one on the NYT children's bestsellers' list the very first week it came out.

Kelley lives in Aylmer, south of London, Ontario, with her children, her husband and far too many pets. Check out Kelley's website here.

Kelley will be the guest speaker at the "How to Write a Bestseller" workshop in Oakville on Saturday, Dec 5. Details here.

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Call for submissions – Niagara Moments on-line magazine

Hi, Brian.
We are looking for a couple of contributing writers for Niagara Moments. Can you circulate this request? To view our zine, please visit the website at
Click on niagara moments magazine.
Dean Tedesco,
The Niagara Gallery
4323 Queen St, Niagara Falls, Ont.

Submission guidelines: Niagara Moments is published by the Niagara Gallery. They need articles, poems, stories, memoirs, digital images of artwork, reviews of art exhibitions, concerts etc. and anything else you can think of that fits the format.

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

Monday, October 5, 2009

"Strategies for Getting Published," Nov 14, Ryerson U

"From the Horse’s Mouth"
~ Strategies for getting published ~

Saturday, November 14
Registration: 12:45 p.m.
Seminar: 1 - 4 p.m.
Room 305, The Victoria Building
Ryerson University,
285 Victoria Street, Toronto (Map here.)
Photo: Ryerson's cool engineering building  (not The Victoria Building)

Bring all your questions. Get them answered by the most knowledgeable people in the publishing industry.

Moderator: Brian Henry, editor, writer, creative writnig instructor.
Brian has been a book editor for more than 25 years. He teaches creative writing at Ryerson Univeristy and George Brown College. He conducts private weekly classes in Mississauga, Oakville and Burlington and has led writing workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Sudbury. But his proudest boast is that he's helped many of his students get published.

The Panel:

Marie Campbell, Agent, Transatlantic Literary Agency Inc.
Marie Campbell began her publishing career at Octopus Children’s Books in the UK, returning to Canada to work at Penguin Books Canada, then at Quill and Quire magazine and later HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., where she was children's book editor and subsidiary rights manager. Marie joined Transatlantic Literary Agency as an agent in 2003 in London, UK, and has been agenting based in Toronto since 2005.
Marie specializes in children’s writers, with a particular interest in middle-grade fiction. She represents two dozen writers, including such well known juvenile authors as Eric Walters, Cary Fagan, Harry Endrulat, Jan Andrews, Rachna Gilmore, Liam O’Donnel, and Teresa Toten. (More about Transatlantic Literary Agency here.)

Beverley Daurio, Publisher and editor-in-chief of The Mercury Press

Publisher and editor-in-chief of The Mercury Press for over 20 years, Beverley Daurio is also the author of three books (including Hell and Other Novels, Coach House/Talon) and a widely published literary critic (Globe and Mail, Books in Canada, etc.). She has published and edited literary magazines, and works to bring the writer's point of view to editing and publishing.Mercury's national list includes award-winning Kenneth J. Harvey from Newfoundland, to Toronto Guggenheim Fellow M. NourbeSe Philip. Books acquired and edited by Daurio have won or been shortlisted for the Governor General's Award, NARSC Award for best researched music book, City of Toronto Book Award, Stephen Leacock Award for Humour, Arthur Ellis Awards from the Crime Writers of Canada, and many others.

Jack David, co-publisher, ECW Press
Jack David taught English and then Book Publishing at Centennial College from 1976 to 2001. He started the journal Essays on Canadian Writing in 1974 and ECW Press in 1979. ECW has 500 books in print and has published more books about Canadian writers and their works than any other press.

ECW publishes poetry, including the winner of the 2008 Governor General’s award: More to Keep Us Warm by Jacob Scheier; fiction, including the runner-up in this year’s Canada Reads contest: Fruit by Brian Francis; and mysteries, including Tainted by Ross Pennie. ECW also publishes books on pop culture, pop science, and memoirs. As an editor, Jack has worked with Catherine Gildiner, Neil Peart and John McFetridge and he has edited over 40 anthologies and critical works.

Fee: $84 (GST Included)

To register: If you’re a Ryerson student, register on-line here.
Otherwise, reserve a spot by email:
And bring a cheque made out to Ryerson University (no cash or credit cards please) on Nov 14.

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

“The Space Between,” Patricia Faithfull

Chapter 1 of The Space Between, a juvenile novel by Patricia Faithfull

It was Tuesday, only day four of the twenty-one days they would be trapped on so-called vacation at the beach. It was day one hundred and thirty-three of forever of the so-called new family. Lily checked her watch: 1:18pm. The sun was directly overhead. It was as hot as the family counseling room when they look at you and ask you how you feel, and you know nothing you say will be right.

Breakfast had been at 8 am. They were all starving. They had been digging for over four hours. She ruffled through the cooler bag. All that was left were empty wrappers and crumpled juice boxes. Even the dog had moved under the shade of the rock face to lay belly down in the sand to stay cool.

At least the rain had not come last night to undo all their work. Rain had a way of displacing sand and smoothing it over quickly. They had worked hard to see how close they could get. A hollow had been dug. The hollow became a trench. The trench became a crater and it was now big enough to lose a small car in it. Not bad for two-days work. Not bad for kids who did not like being in the same room with each other, let alone the same family.

Being isolated at the beach – away from friends, television, video games or anything remotely civilized, including the privacy of their own bedrooms – had pushed them all down the warpath. Their parents banished them to the beach – out of earshot.

The only outdoor things they could find to play with were kindergarten sand toys and a few of gardening tools. Autumn, Lily’s new step-sister, wrote the first page in her beach journal: “Haw wii dug 2 cina,” and showed it to River, her older brother. He was 12, like Lily; Autumn was only 5. River never really played with her or anyone for that matter; but given the circumstances, digging an enormous tunnel to China seemed as good an idea as any.

So, there they were, Thursday, noon, and no idea how close they were to China or the Arctic, or Middle Earth, and waiting for Jack to return with lunch.

River had chopped up the straws of the juice boxes with his pocket knife. Jack had drawn the short one. Begrudgingly, he went to pickup their lunch to bring it back. For spite, he was taking over an hour to walk a mere 10-minute round trip,

Jack announced his return by throwing his shovel to the bottom of the quarry. He usually stopped short of physical contact when antagonizing River. He just wasn’t always that accurate at judging his skills. He tried to narrowly miss River’s head. He didn’t. The handle smacked River in the forehead causing him to cry out in anguish.

“OUWWWWWWWW!” When River looked up, Autumn’s eyes were wide. Jack looked like he was going to pee his pants. River touched the cut and saw his fingers were damp with blood. He shot out of the pit like a Ninja, and straight into Jack’s face.

The dog went berserk, jumping and barking, but not knowing what to do.

All that martial arts sure paid off, Jack noted, as he felt River’s breath on his face.

Lily pushed Jack aside, and held her ground between the two of them.

“It was an accident,” she lied. “Let it go.” River’s advantage was 11 pounds and 5 inches. It was obvious he could pummel Jack at any time.

“I wasn’t gonna do anything,” River started disdainfully.

“I don’t need you to defend me!” Jack shrieked as he vaulted into Lily, knocking her through Autumn’s sandcastle and flat onto her stomach. His eyes were on fire and his body shook with anger. River seized Jack’s shoulders squarely and drove him down to the ground onto his behind. His voice dropped an octave: “DON’T….. HIT…. GIRLS.”

Jack was stunned. River had never made Jack fear him, until now. The red in Jack’s cheeks began to burn. He blinked back tears. Older, bigger, stronger – Jack hated him. The humiliation smoldered, and there was nowhere to go to be alone.

A drop of blood dripped from River’s brow down his nose. He released his hold on Jack to wipe it away. Jack shook his shoulders in defiance to get the last of River off of him.

“Quiet!” River yelled at the dog. Amber lay down and whimpered. River felt the bump above his eye. It would probably turn purple or yellow or brown. The cut was small. Head cuts always looked worse and bled more than anywhere else. He wasn’t worried, just irritated. Maybe it would scar. That would be cool.

River turned to Lily, who was staring at his cut. “You okay?” he asked, offering her a hand up.
She glared at Jack, took River’s hand and let him pull her to her feet.

“Just winded,” she answered. She stared at Jack. He would not return her glare, but instead stared at his feet. He was only ten, two years younger than her and River. She was growing tired of his stupid games. His defiant, provoking behavior was getting them all punished lately. To make matters worse, she was now as much of a target of his frustration as their step brother and step sister. He sat there, wounded because she had accepted help from the enemy. This would make for yet another silent, brilliant waste of an hour with the family counselor.

“What’s in your beach bag?” River asked Jack, his tone and curtness returning.

“Lunch. And it’s a backpack, idiot,” Jack answered with contempt, rubbing his shoulders. They still pinched. He hoped there would be massive bruises because it was too far back to tell on him right now. Besides – he didn’t dare leave all the lunch behind. It would be all gone before he got back.

Amber was quiet now as River gave her some water and a biscuit.

Autumn, being dwarfed by the rest of them, wisely avoided these scuffles. She half jumped, half fell into the dig site, which was way deeper than she was tall. Egg sandwiches were awful, anyway. They smelled funny. And she couldn’t imagine eating a chicken before it was even born. River would save her a ham and cheese sandwich which her Mom always packed for her.

Autumn moved around the pit, pushing the bits of sand around the bottom. She picked up the shovel and let the weight of it smack down - and it wasn’t the usual thud. It was hollow sounding, like banging on wall. She looked up excitedly at River, who had stopped chewing. Raising the shovel, she awkwardly thumped it again. Again, the hollow thump.

Tossing aside the sandwich, River dove into the pit as Autumn scurried out with Lily’s help. Jack leapt in alongside River.

River and Jack started digging so quickly, there was a sandstorm! Sand flew everywhere. It was over their heads, scraping their eyes, and filling their ears. Autumn and Amber ducked the shovelfuls being flung up onto the wall. Autumn was keen to get a good look at the discovery.

“A treasure chest!” shouted Jack.

“A treasure chest?” repeated Autumn.

“It’s too big!” retorted Lily. Lily was unearthing the edges, which ran in a rectangle about the size of her Dad’s desk.

“It is! It is!!!” affirmed Jack, who was animated and giddy with excitement.

“Do you know the odds of actually finding treasure digging in the sand are a gazillion times a gazillion to one!” Lily condescended.

Jack used a beach towel to rub the sand off it which was surprisingly effective. The exposed surface was old wooden slats, held together by metal strips. It looked dilapidated, ancient, exhilarating!

“They found the Queen Anne’s Revenge in Beaufort over 10 years ago and they’re still bringing up treasure from it! Mom told me,” continued Jack. “They found gold and silver doubloons, pirate shillings, fossilized shark teeth and cursed gold coins, and rubies and emeralds…”

“Cursed?” repeated Autumn. She looked at River for clarification. As with most things Jack said, River just shook his head slightly as if to blow him off. Autumn looked relieved. River searched along each edge seeking a clasp or hinges.

“Maybe it’s a coffin for somebody’s pet,” suggested Lily.

“Look at it! It’s hundreds of years old,” rebuffed Jack.

“Maybe it’s a pet coffin that’s hundreds of years old!” Lily insisted.

“Don’t be stupid,” continued Jack. “People didn’t bury pets hundreds of years ago.”

“It’s too big for a pet,” River stated bluntly.

“SEEEE!!!! And Besides Beaufort’s just up the coast!” stated Jack, not realizing he had just deferred to River’s authority.

“Yeah, I know, I finished grade four geography two years ago. So what did they do with their dead pets?” Lily still ached from being hit in the spleen and then catapulted onto her face. Bashing Jack verbally felt good.

River found a padlock the size of a discus. It was rusted. It was amazing. Autumn sketched it. River loosened it from the wet sand and smashed it with the shovel until it shattered.

“I don’t know… Burn them at sea. Maybe they ate them…” Jack wasn’t sure he just didn’t want Lily to have the last word. “Wait, what did you mean it was too big for a pet?”

They all stopped dead. River shrugged.

“It’s too flat to be a treasure chest,” Lily observed.

“What, did you write the book on them?” Jack was snarky. He really wanted River to answer him.

“You two. Less talk and more help? Give me the trowel thingy.”

Lily passed it to him, “It’s a spade.”

“Whatever,” he stated as he leveraged the tip at the lid. He pushed down with all his body weight. He pried it around the edges. It would not give way.

Lily picked up a shovel and passed it to River, “Here,” she said. She held one herself, placing the sharp edge at the lip and pointing to a similar spot in front of River. “We just need a more leverage.” He put his edge in place. “On the count of 3. One, two….”

“NOOOOO!!!,” Autumn interrupted in a panic. “What if it is a coffin? Wouldn’t it be…. wrong to open it?”

River looked at his little sister. “If we find a body, we’ll all leave it alone. Agreed?”

He looked at the others, who each nodded and muttered, “Yeah.”


Autumn nodded and smiled.

Jack couldn’t wait to see a real, live, decomposing, actual dead person. Maybe it was Blackbeard or Anne Bonney. Jack knew they had never been seen him since the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground in a storm hundreds of years ago.

“C’mon, let’s see what’s in here,” River said as he and Lily braced their weight onto the shovels. Autumn ran around behind them to get a better look. Jack readied himself to catch the opened lid. “One, two, threeeeeeeeeee…….”


Patricia Faithfull acquired a BA in English Literature from the University of Toronto before attending the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York City. She has studied screenwriting with Robert McKee and John Truby of Los Angeles and is pleased to be studying creative writing with Brian Henry. Before returning to Canada, she lived in the US, France and England. Currently, she is writing “The Space Between” for middle-grade readers and has two screenplays in progress: “Talia the Lionhearted Mouse” and “The Second Law of Thermodynamics.” Primarily, she is a parent, a partner, and an avid student of Kabbalah. Her next labour of love will involve an exploration of the Dead Sea Scrolls. On Sept 16, she read Chapter 1 of her middle-grade novel, The Space Between at CJ’s Café in Oakville.
Note: For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and courses, see here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Transatlantic Literary Agency

Transatlantic Literary Agency72 Glengowan Road
Toronto, ON M4N 1G4

TLA has offices in Canada, the United States, and The Netherlands. The agency started out exclusively representing children's authors and now represents a premier list of more than seventy multiple-award-winning children's authors and thirty acclaimed illustrators. TLA has also become a major force in adult fiction and non-fiction with more than seventy critically acclaimed, award-winning adult trade authors. TLA has eight active agents on staff but only two are accepting queries from new authors:

Marie Campbell
Marie began her publishing career at Octopus Children’s Books in the UK, returning to Canada to work at Penguin Books Canada, then at Quill & Quire magazine and later HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., where she was children's book editor and subsidiary rights manager. Marie joined Transatlantic Literary Agency as an agent in 2003 in London, UK, and has been agenting based in Toronto since 2005.

Marie specializes in children’s writers, with a particular interest in middle-grade fiction. She represents two dozen writers, including such well known juvenile authors as Eric Walters, Jan Andrews, Harry Endrulat, Rachna Gilmore, Liam O’Donnel, Teresa Toten and Cary Fagan.

Although she is not actively acquiring new clients at this time, Marie is open to concise query letters via email:

Samantha Haywood
Samantha represents adult authors of literary fiction and upmarket commercial fiction. Getting more specific, yes to literary thrillers and upmarket mystery, historical fiction, smart contemporary fiction, upmarket women’s fiction (but no romance writing), and cross-over novels (but no young adult novels unless they have adult trade potential as well).

Non-fiction: Seeking narrative non-fiction, especially on culturally relevant topics. Some examples: investigative journalism, politics; women’s issues; memoirs (must be truly original or well known subjects); environmental issues; historical narratives handled in refreshing ways; sexuality; and true crime with societal implications. Essentially I’m looking for a strong narrative drive and distinctive voice at all times.

Graphic Novels (fiction/non-fiction): Preferably full length graphic novels, although story collections will be considered. Memoirs, biographies, travel narratives and other nonfiction graphica also welcome.

TLA submission guidelines: Authors are encouraged to email a cover letter with an attachment of maximum 20-page writing sample/excerpt (Microsoft Word document), along with a publishing history and synopsis. Please note if other agents are also considering the project. Due to the volume of submissions received, replies will be sent only for submissions being actively considered.
Agent bios, clients and submission guidelines:

Note: Marie Campbell will be a panellists at the “From the Horse’s Mouth” seminar hosted by Brian Henry at Ryerson University in Toronto on Nov 14; 1 – 4 p.m. The other panellists will be Beverley Daurio, publisher and editor-in-chief of The Mercury Press, and Jack David, co-publisher, ECW Press.
Fee: $84.
Ryerson students should register on-line here. If you’re not a Ryerson student, you must reserve a spot by email: And bring a cheque (no cash or credit cards please) on Nov 14. Dtails here.

For information about all of Brian’s writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.