Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

“Ode to a Yo-Gi “ by Nance Thacker

I am a yo-gi.
I walk in slow motion,
Don't cause no commotion
In body or mind,
Of whomever I find,
Except for the occasion
When I might be raisin'
A little hell.
Oh well.
Even too much
As such
Is no moderation
At all. And it seems
I'm a woman of extremes.
But that's me
A paradoxical yo-gi.

I'm a yo-gi.
Asleep by eight.
Oh, isn't it great
To be up at four
For the pranayama I adore,
Or, at least up at six
To get my fix
And stand on my head
Instead of laying in bed
But, I can't you see
Cus I'm still awake at three
I am.
Oh, why isn't the sun
Rising at one
Just like me
The late-night yo-gi.

I am a yo- gi.
And celibacy
is the key,
To keep my mind free
Of base thoughts of the flesh,
Or of lust, or passion, or sex,
All of the above.
But keep only thoughts of love
Of the noblest kind,
Of limbs entwined...
Sigh... AAUUGH be gone from my mind!
And leave in my head
Sounds of chants instead.
But, is that really for me
This lusty yo-gi?

I'm a yo-gi.
And poverty
'S not new to me.
But lately I've a yen
For a Mercedes Ben
'Z, a vacation in the sun,
Seems I'm just about done
With just getting by.
I'd rather have a high
A home
Of my own,
A bed, a T.V., a hot tub, a sauna.
I guess I don't wanna
Be poor
No more.
Just call me
An aspiring yuppie yo-gi.

I'm a yo-gi.
The serious type.
Don't get off on the hype
Of fun and laughter.
It's the "other realm" that I'm after.
Don't want the distraction
Of comic interaction.
But... would it be heresy
For me to say
That the spirit within
Might observe with a grin
How I fumble and stumble so seriously
With this life so laden with glee?
Must admit to be
A cosmic/comic yo-gi.
A version of this poem was first published as "Retreat Reflections of a Meandering Mind (For the unenlightened only)" in the summer 1985 edition of the Yoga Centre of Victoria Newsletter. Nance has also published "A House for My Soul," in Stories from the Yogic Heart.  Check it out here: To order the book click on Contact.  On Septermber 13, Nance gave a reading of “Ode to a Yo-Gi “ at CJ's Cafe.

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

Friday, October 29, 2010

2010 Human Potential Non-Fiction Contest

This photo has nothing to do with the contest,
I just happen to like it. - Brian
INHOUSEPRESS invites essay entries for the Human Potential Writing Competition. The essays (or articles) are limited to 1000 words max. The winner (first prize) will be published on-line. Open to Canadian and International entrants

Deadline for submissions: November 15, 2010 (postmark date).

Please indicate word count on the first page.

Subject matter is Human Potential, no restrictions as to approach apply. For example, the entry may be personal memoir, cultural criticism, or literary journalism, but NOT fiction.

Entry is free.  Previously published material accepted.

Contact information (including an email address) should appear on the submission. Submissions should be on the body of the email (no attachments please).

The winner and finalists will be notified via email at the end of December 2010.

The winner and finalists will be announced on the January 2011 Human Potential Newsletter, INHOUSEPRESS facebook site, and on INHOUSEPRESS website, with the publication of the winning entry.

Send entries to:

Te keep up to date with all the annual writing contests in Canada, get the 2011 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar. To reserve your copy, email

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

The Ottawa Citizen invites short story submissions

The Ottawa Citizen invites you to contribute short stories for The Wrap – an advertising feature that’s literally wrapped around the weekly flyers inserted in the newspaper.

Adults are invited to send fiction of less than 1200 words to:
No payment, but excellent distribution throughout the Ottawa area.

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Julie Just joins Janklow & Nesbit, seeks children's and young adult books

Atheneum art director Ann Bobco, author/illustrator
Ian Falconer, literary agent Brenda Bowen, & Julie Just
Janklow & Nesbit Associates
445 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022-2606

Children's book editor of the New York Times Book Review Julie Just will join Janklow & Nesbit as an agent in November.

Mort Janklow says in the announcement, "It has been our intention for some time to expand the range of agency services we offer to include in a major way children's and young adult literature."

Lynn Nesbit calls Just "the ideal person to spearhead this new effort."

Janklow & Nesbit are a powerhouse literary agency with offices in New York and London. Clients include Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire), William Goldman (The Princess Bride), Bill O' Reilly (The O'Reilly Factor, Culture Warrior), Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink), David McCullough (Truman), Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11), etc.

Total number of clients: about 1,000. "Some of them are deceased, but only a tiny fraction," says agent Luke Janklow.

“We do look at everything,” adds Janklow. “What gets invited in is a very small portion of that."

Query Julie at:
Attach the first chapter of your manuscript. She is not interested in long synopses -- two or three paragraphs, tops.

Brian Henry has a couple of "How to Get Published" workshops coming up. The agents guest-speaking at these workshops are looking for new clients. Brian will be in London on November 6 with guest Tina Tsallas of Great Titles Literary Agency (details here) and in Mississauga on December 4 with guest Martha Magor Webb of the Anne McDermid literary agency (details here).

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

Monday, October 25, 2010

Goose Lane Editions

Susanne Alexander and Julie Scriver,
managing partners of Goose Lane Editions,
Canada's oldest independent book publisher.
Goose Lane Editions specializes in high quality Canadian literary fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. The company considers submissions from outside Canada only when the author is Canadian and the book is of extraordinary interest to Canadian readers. Goose Lanes does not publish books for children or for the young adult market.

Goose Lane publishes works by both established and up-and-coming Canadian authors with established publishing history in literary journals and magazines (such as The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, Grain, The Malahat Review, or Matrix, or e-zines such as Broken Pencil or other online magazines.)

Non-fiction writers should have some experience in publishing articles in magazines, newspapers or other periodicals.

Al l submissions should include:
• A brief profile of yourself (one page or less) summarizing professional and personal information relevant to this book.
• A list of previous publications, including any portions of the manuscript that have been published elsewhere.
• A synopsis or outline of the whole book.
• A sample of 30-50 consecutive, double-spaced, numbered manuscript pages.
• For short story collections, send enough stories to achieve the sample size mentioned above.
• Non-fiction submissions should include ideas for illustration with your outline and photocopies or printouts of illustrative material with your sample (if applicable).

For poetry, submit the entire manuscript, double-spaced with numbered pages.

Send submissions to:
Managing Editor
Goose Lane Editions
Suite 300, 500 Beaverbrook Court
Fredericton, N.B. E3B 5X4

A response to your submission will often takes from six to eight months.

Full submission details here:

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Dissolution" by C.J. Sansom, reviewed by Gillian Butcher

Pan Macmillan Limited, mass market paperback, $9.99 (Originally published by MacMillan, London)

I recently met a friend at Heathrow airport; Jo, heading to Canada, me heading to points in the UK. I'm really glad we met or I may never have got to read this book!

“You'll love this,” she said as she handed it to me. I saw it was a good thick volume, seemingly just the right size to get through my vacation, so I accepted it gratefully. I had no idea then that by the time my vacation ended I would not only have read this book, but almost finished the next two Mathew Shardlake mysteries, as well!

The book's title refers to Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries; the action occurs towards the end of Archbishop Thomas Cromwell's heyday and not long after the execution of Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife.

Historically accurate and getting right down to the nitty-gritty of Tudor life, C.J. Sansom transported me to those faraway days with the skill of a true storyteller.

I journeyed with the protagonist Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer, from Lincoln's Inn to Cromwell's office, where Mathew is commissioned to investigate a murder, then to the depths of the Kent countryside and a Benedictine monastery. There I watched him as he trod warily but with great courage through the corridors of religious intolerance, dishonesty, disloyalty and murder, determined to find the truth.

I really, really like Matthew. He is a person who has spent his life enduring taunts and ridicule because of a handicap, and yet has emerged without a chip on his shoulder, and with much compassion for the unfortunates he meets. He has weaknesses as well as strengths which add to the interest of his character and help the reader identify with him. I found the story itself fascinating, full of details about daily life in Tudor times, both among the rich and the poor, and with the kind of conclusion that left me wanting more.

I invite you to meet Matthew Shardlake in the pages of this book and walk with him as he works through his own doubts and misgivings, weaving his way through the political and religious turmoil of his day. If you do, I guarantee you'll be reading the whole series:

• Sansom, C.J. (2003). Dissolution. London: MacMillan. ISBN 1-4050-0542-4.
• Sansom, C.J. (2004). Dark Fire. London: MacMillan. ISBN 1-4050-0544-0.
• Sansom, C.J. (2006). Sovereign. London: MacMillan. ISBN 1-4050-0548-9.
• Sansom, C.J. (2008). Revelation. London: MacMillan. ISBN 1-4050-9272-2.
• Sansom, C.J. (2010). Heartstone. London: Mantle. ISBN 1-4050-9273-4.

Gillian Butcher started writing late in life, that is, post retirement. She likes to attempt different genres. For example, biography, short story, poetry and essays. This is her first venture into the ‘review’ scene. Gillian lives in the GTA with her husband of 50-plus years . In another life she was a registered nurse but hasn’t attempted writing about that – yet.

Guidelines for contributing a book review – or other book related articles here.

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

Friday, October 22, 2010

Excerpt from “Time’s Fool,” a novel in progress by Susan Crossman

Some say a marriage promise must be kept until death and they might be right. I did die. A slow death, one that occurred by imperceptible degrees, like temperature falling on the glass tube of a thermometer, one lingering black tick after another until the reading of life was gone.

It was a surprising death, since I still walked the Earth, spoke in sentences and took out the garbage but it was a death all the same, marked by absolute fatigue and a distinct disinterest in anything remotely connected to me.

I always figured women like that weren’t trying very hard, that they were the kind of ladies that had been complaining of headaches since birth, ladies who had become experts in the gentle art of complaining. Limp-wristed, weak-willed, lily-livered and any other clichĂ© you can imagine, they were just lacking in will, determination, fortitude and goals.

I used to think they needed to try harder to make the magic work, to recast the spell that had fallen over their men and themselves as they lurched along on the adventure of their love. Now I think that even if they were a little bit like me, they probably did try.

God knows I tried. I loved the man, the institution, the house I lived in, my sheets, towels, dishes, and plants. I fought to save it all.

Well, maybe I didn’t fight; David and I never disagreed and fights were what small people did when they couldn’t solve their petty problems rationally. I felt very mature clamping onto this opinion, and I guess I was so busy proving how broad-minded I was that I agreed with just about everything my husband suggested. I wanted his happiness more than my own.

Isn’t that what love does?

No, David — of course we don’t have to stay home if you don’t want to. I love going out!” Well, I did!

“Yes, David — of course we can have your department over for dinner Saturday night.” I loved entertaining!

“Well, David, if you want blue in the living room instead of green, it’s fine with me.” It’s just paint — what difference does the colour make?

Sometimes, on a cheerful Sunday afternoon, we would go for a walk in Allan Gardens. We would admire the spring blossoms or fall colours and David would breathe deeply of the fresh cool air that blew on our faces as we strolled. Sometimes we would absentmindedly link arms or hold hands, David’s large black-leather glove gently retaining my small blue mitten. He would smile at me and I would smile back.

David hated to see me cry, and he wasn’t very helpful when I did, although I think he tried to make me feel better when he wasn’t the cause of the distress. After one of our very rare disagreements, if he felt an unpleasant prickling of guilt rubbing at the back door of his conscience, he might trot home with a fistful of flowers for me. If the guilt were actually knocking on his brainstem, and he remembered saying some vaguely nasty things that should probably have stayed unsaid, the flowers might be something other than daisies.

I have never liked daisies, but David loved them, and I think daisies were his way of saying, “Hang in there, kid.” Personally, I would have preferred a flower that said something a little more poetic. For example, a clutch of purple and gold pansies would tell me how sweet he thought I was. Pink and white tulips would have hinted at the fact that he thought I possessed a quality of ethereal beauty. Wild roses — red ones with seven leaves and a thousand thorns — would have said he found me a tremendously untameable woman, mysterious and headstrong but complicated and wildly gorgeous.

Daffodils would say that I was cheerful and warm and close to his heart. Orchids, violets, petunias, lilies-of-the-valley, gladiolas, primroses, buttercups . . . the list could go on and on for chapters, but the common (yet uncommon) denominator, would be the implication of beauty, dignity, fragility, strength, the gentle reminder of how much a man loves a woman, how he admires, treasures, respects and loves her, wants her to look at something beautiful tomorrow, when he’s not even in the room, and think about him, and smile.

Daisies just aren’t that kind of flower.

For one thing, they are about the most plain and ordinary weed growing in your average vacant lot. They live right there at the corner of Elmhurst and Main Streets and people walk by and toss cigarette butts and old chewing gum in their direction without even noticing that they are there. The daisies nod dumbly in every passing breeze as if to say, “Thank you for almost noticing me.”

They live there in that scraggly forgotten lot with last year’s candy-bar wrappers, and an old gray running shoe, doggy doo-doo and a broken umbrella, shards of brown glass left over from one more beer for the road, a soggy blue mitten, an old leather glove. Daisies grow up through the detritus of other people’s lives. Hang in there, indeed.

Daisies have long scraggly stems that usually have brown spots on them and they have very few leaves, Leaves are nice, a critical part of the unspoken phrase “I love you” that giving flowers is supposed to say. Daisy leaves are rare, as though the flower was worried about spending too much effort producing something that didn’t have a really great return on investment. The flower itself is composed of numerous pointy white petals, as though it’s meant to give stabs of pain, not joyful, unexpected ripples of pleasure.

Compare that with, say, a rose. A rose petal is all curvy and foldy

However, daisies were, I suppose, better than nothing. David always sent his secretary, Anita, a dozen red roses on her birthday “Got to keep her motivated, you know,” he’d say. The roses were very expensive, but, as he pointed out, he could deduct them as a business expense. Daisies were David’s way of saying something that didn’t involve too much emotion, dependence, admission of guilt, or gush. And roses?

David was not one to apologize verbally after a fight, unless he had cuffed me or shoved my shoulder just a little too hard as he broiled out of the room in a huff, and this happened so rarely it’s hardly worth mentioning. I think he probably felt quite sorry on those occasions. But in general he felt justifiably committed to defending his point of view from anyone, anywhere, anyhow. He expected his woman to be tough enough to take what he dished out, and sure, if she wanted to dish it right back, she was welcome to try. There was a puritanical self-righteousness to David’s determination to remain unswayed by anyone else’s opinion or interests, and this I did not share.

I never worried about being swayed because swaying was the way I passed my life. You sway a little one way and sooner or later you’ll be swaying back in the opposite direction, no harm done. If you really wanted something in life, you just had to sway towards it and sooner or later you’d sway your way up to it. Of course, you might sway into the path of an oncoming disaster or sway into a disgusting patch of something sticky that was tough to sway out of…but that was just part of the normal risk of life. In any event, all that swaying did not imply a lack of opinions, it just meant they were not always show-stoppers.

David wasn’t like that. His opinions were very strong and endlessly important. David did not sway. He spear-chucked. He would set his sights on something he wanted and then throw the biggest damned spear he could find. If the first spear didn’t bring down his prey, he would run headlong after it and sling another one. If that still didn’t work, he’d bring out axes and daggers and even a rusty old shovel, if need be, until he got exactly what he wanted. What he wanted might be dead by that point. And the process was not a pretty one. But it made David happy and that was what counted to David.

So, you see, between his spear-chucking and my swaying, it was very hard — no, impossible — for me to deny him anything. Why cause a big ruckus over something that wasn’t all that important to begin with? David almost always kept his voice reasonable and when I was alive I didn’t have a bottom line, really, so a calm voice and a persuasive spear or two were all it took for him to get what he was after. Sometimes it took more spears or bigger spears and once a really big rusty shovel…but obviously those were times when I didn’t sway very well and he won anyway. He always won.

Susan Crossman is a career writer with decades of experience in journalism, government communications, PR and marketing. She currently runs her own freelance writing business through which she produces newsletter and web content, speeches, reports, profile pieces and other custom documentation for clients in the corporate sector. On September 13, she gave a reading of this excerpt from Time’s Fool at CJ’s CafĂ©.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Two new agents at Pippin Properties seek children's books

Pippin Properties 
155 East 38th Street
Suite 2H
New York, NY 10016

Pippin Properties is a small agency devoted primarily to picture books, middle-grade, and young adult novels, but we also represent adult projects on occasion. Pippin represents publishing greats such as Kate DiCamillo, David Small, Peter H. Reynolds, Kathi Appelt, and Doreen Cronin, among many more. We are always on the lookout for writers and illustrators who take the challenge of creating books seriously and are willing to give the publishing world nothing less than their very best. 

Joan Slattery
Joan Slattery will join Pippin as literary agent and contracts manager on November 1st 2010! Joan has been at Random House for 20 years, most recently as senior executive editor for Knopf Children’s.
She can be reached at

Elena Mechlin began her publishing career in subsidiary rights, moved on to children’s book marketing and then a stint in audio and joined Pippin Properties in June of 2009.  Like all new agents, she needs authors.  Elena loves funny picture books, is averse to rhyming texts, likes goofy middle grade, and is on the hunt for some hot YA!

If you are a writer who is interested in submitting a manuscript to Pippin, please email a query letter to

Include a synopsis of the work(s), your background and/or publishing history, and anything else you think is relevant. Unfortunately, we are not a large enough agency to respond to each query individually. If you don't hear from us within three weeks, please understand that we have read and considered your query, and have concluded that we are not the right agency to represent your work at this time. If we do request additional material, we would appreciate the exclusive opportunity to review it for one month.

For illustrators interested in submitting their work, please send an initial query letter detailing your background in publishing or illustration and any other pertinent information. Links to websites with examples of your work are extremely helpful. If we are interested in seeing more of your work, we will either request that you send digital files, such as jpegs, or hard copies to be mailed to our office.

Complete submission guidelines here.

Brian Henry has a couple of "How to Get Published" workshops coming up. The agents guest-speaking at these workshops are looking for new clients. Brian will be in London on November 6 with guest Tina Tsallas of Great Titles Literary Agency (details here) and in Mississauga on December 4 with guest Martha Magor Webb of the Anne McDermid literary agency (details here).

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Order your 2011 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar now!

Updated Monday, November 15:

Whether you’re a beginner or advance writer, if you’re looking for places to send your work, you should put contests on your list. The Canadian Writers’ Contest Calendar gives a full listing of contests in Canada arranged by deadline date. It lists contests for short stories, poetry, children’s writing, novels, and non-fiction – contests for just about everyone.

The 2011 edition will be out within a week or two, and I’m taking orders now. If you pay in advance, the fee is just $23, including taxes and shipping, and I’ll mail your calendar straight out to you as soon as I get them.

To reserve your Calendar now, email

For information about my writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"How to Build Your Story," Saturday, January 22, Oakville

Plotting novels and writing short stories
~ an editor & an author explain it all ~
Saturday, January 22
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Oakville Central Library, 120 Navy Street, Oakville
Good all-day parking on Water Street, just north of the library. Map here

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.

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and George Brown College and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Moncton. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.

Guest speaker Lynda Simmons has published seven novels and has an eighth coming out in December.  Her most recent novel, Getting Rid of Rosie (from Berkley Books, a Penguin USA imprint), came out in August 2009. Rosie is an outrageously entertaining novel of life, love, death and the afterlife. (Book review here.)

Lynda’s next novel with Berkley, Island Girl, will be out in December.  Island Girl represents a departure for Lynda in that it's a much more serious book.  Set on the Toronto Islands, the novel recounts the emotionally riveting story of a 55-year-old mother, Ruby Donaldson, who fights to reunite her family as she struggles with the diagnosis of early on-set Alzheimer's and her determination to control her own future.. (More here.)

Before going mainstream, Lynda served her apprenticeship as an author by writing six romance novels, published by Harlequin, Silhouette and Kensington. Lynda specializes in comic novels and her presentations are known for their humour. At the workshop, she'll share her insights into plotting novels and creating a character arc.

Fee: $38.94 + 13% hst = $44 paid in advance
Or $42.48 + 13% hst = $48 if you wait to pay at the door

To reserve a spot now, email

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crow Toes Quarterly, the new face of children's lit – magazine & contest

Crow Toes Quarterly
Staff portrait
Crow Toes Quarterly
186  8120 No. 2 Road
Suite #361
Richmond, BC, V7C 5J8

Update: Crow Toes ceased publication in January 2011. It's sorely missed.

If you are searching for stories about fluffy bunnies, puppies and happy birthday parties, then you have come to the wrong place. 

Welcome to Crow Toes Quarterly, a playfully dark arts and literature e-zine and limited-edition print magazine for children ages nine and up. At Crow Toes Quarterly, things are sometimes funny ... and often frightening. If this makes you nervous, simply hit the back button. If this makes you curious, read on... 

Crow Toes Quarterly is looking for playfully dark, intelligent, descriptive literature written for children ages 9 and up. Stories can range in length, but must not exceed 3000 words and please, pretty please, send only your best, most carefully edited work.  The theme for the upcoming 16th issue will be "Lost."  (This theme is open to interpretation.)  Only submissions sent by snail mail will be considered.

CTQ also accepts illustrations and other types of artwork for the magazine's Art Interludes. These must be dark and imaginative...a continuation of the themes Crow Toes Quarterly embraces.

Crow Toes Quarterly is a very small magazine that runs on a shoestring budget. Sadly, CTQ is unable to pay its contributors. Well, that's not totally true. CTQ will throw in two copies of the limited edition print magazine in which the contributor's work appears. CTQ will also give contributors a hearty pat on the back. And who doesn't like a hearty pat on the back? Seriously.

Full submission guidelines here.

"There's a ghost standing at the foot of my bed" contest

There's a ghost standing at the foot of your bed.  What does it look like? What does it want? Is it a nice ghost or a mean ghost? In 250-500 words, tell us a little story about your experience with this ghost. Be sure to include a description of the ghost and some brief dialogue between you and the ghost. And be sure to have the words: "there's a ghost standing at the foot of my bed" somewhere in the story.

Our two favourite ghost stories will receive copies of the last two "Special" Print Editions (The 14th and The 15th Issue), a one-year subscription to our e-zine and publication on our website.

Email your ghost story to our Staff Villain at:
Please place your story into the body of the email and be sure to include a brief bio with the story.

Contest deadline: Friday, October 29 11:59 p.m.

Te keep up to date with all the annual writing contests in Canada, get the 2011 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar.  To reserve your copy, email

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

"Fall" by Colin McAdam & "This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall" by Gordon Korman, reviewed by Jennifer Smith Gray

Fall by Colin McAdam, Hamish Hamilton Canada, $32.00 (358 pages)
This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall by Gordon Korman, Scholastic Canada, $6.99 (115 pages)

In some ways, Colin McAdam’s novel Fall struck me as a grownup version of Gordon Korman’s popular children’s novel, This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall. Both stories are about roommates in a boys’ dormitory at a Canadian boarding school. Both involve pranks, mischief, girls, and police.

Korman gives a light-hearted look inside the world of private schools and adolescence that kids 9 to 12 will enjoy, and after they laugh their way through This Can’t Be Happening, there is a whole series of Macdonald Hall books for your kids to enjoy,

In contrast, McAdam is writing challenging prose for adult readers, and his book unveils a layered and sophisticated account of residence school life.

This 2009 Giller Prize finalist is about Julius, a popular athlete, and Noel, a quiet loner, paired as roommates for their last year at St. Ebury School, outside of Ottawa. Fallon Fitzgerald DeStindt – Fall – is the girl who draws the boys together and simultaneously widens the divide between them.

The story is told by both boys, with alternating narrative that effectively reveals each one’s character. Julius’s simple stream-of-consciousness telling as the events unfold reveals the immature and predictable child he was at the time. Noel’s descriptive version is written from the perspective and understanding of adulthood. The grownup Noel portrays himself as having been thoughtful, peculiar, and misunderstood.

Realistic teenage dialog between the two and convincing, awkward interactions with supporting characters—shared friends Chuck and Ant, and especially Fall—enable readers to witness both the growth and the devolution of the boys.

The tale begins as a coming of age story, but quickly reveals itself to be a perverse love story and a clever mystery, both fully enticing. The characters’ portraits, vividly painted through their shared narration, are laden with revelations that engage, horrify, and ultimately satisfy the reader.

Jennifer Smith Gray is a graduate of the University of Waterloo's English Rhetoric and Professional Writing program, and has extensive business and technical writing and editing experience. In recent years, she has been nurturing her inner creative writer, working on short stories, personal essays, and a memoir.  Born and raised in Northern Ontario, Jennifer transplanted herself to the big city 15 years ago and is inspired by all of the personal and professional writing-development opportunities in and around Toronto. When she's not putting pen to paper, Jennifer enjoys exploring her East York neighbourhood with her husband and kids.

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

Notes to writers:  Hamish Hamilton Canada is part of Penguin Canada and does not accept manuscripts for consideration except through agents.  More about Hamish Hamilton hereScholastic Canada publishes a limited number of children's books.  Currently, they say they're not accepting submissions, but if you have a manuscript that fits their publishing program, I might send it to them anyway.  More about Scholastic Canada here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

YA stories – science fiction, fantasy and horror – wanted for Tesseracts 15

Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, is open for submissions thru November 30, 2010.

"We've decided to do something different with Tesseracts Fifteen," says Brian Hades, owner of the EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing imprint. "This volume will focus on Young Adult Speculative Fiction - which can include science fiction, fantasy, and horror. However submissions must appeal to the YA audience and be PG-14 in content. As usual, Tesseracts Fifteen is open to both short fiction and poetry submissions."

Payment is $20 for poetry, $50 for stories under 1,500 words, rising to a maximum of $100 for stories up to 3,500 words and $150 for stories between 3,500 and 7,500 words.

Submissions:The Tesseracts anthology series is open to submissions in either English or French: from Canadians, landed immigrants, long time residents, and expatriates. French stories must have been translated into English for publication. The maximum length for stories is 5,500 words, with shorter works preferred.  Full submission guidelines here.

About the series
The first Tesseracts anthology was edited by Judith Merril. Since its publication in 1985, 240 authors/editors/translators and guests have written 483 pieces of Canadian speculative fiction, fantasy and horror for this series. Some of Canada's best known speculative fiction writers have been published within the pages of these volumes - including Margaret Atwood, William Gibson , Robert J. Sawyer, and Elisabeth Vonarburg (to name a few). Tesseracts Fifteen is the sixteenth volume in the series. The entire series includes Tesseracts One through Fifteen, and Tesseracts Q, which features translations of works by some of Canada's top francophone writers of science fiction and fantasy.

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

Two 55-word stories by Isabella Symphony Cesario

A Flicker
Tick. Tock. The clock was the only sound she heard. She tried to squirm out of the ropes. Her kidnapper had gone upstairs. The basement she was in was dark, dingy. She looked for escape. Footsteps pounded back down the stairs, matching her heartbeat. Her life didn't flash before her eyes. It merely flickered. Out.

The Last Straw
She looked at the blood-soaked body. It was only a matter of minutes before the police arrived. Her hands still stained with blood, she ran outside and buried the knife. She ran to her car, hands shaking, she pulled out of the driveway. It was his fault. He didn't let her have the remote.

Isabella Symphony Cesario enjoys writing all types of stories but mostly mysteries. For an assignment in her high school creative writing class, she was required to write 10 stories, each 55 words long. These are two of those stories.

Isabella loves the number 13, and her favourite book is Harry Potter. She’s a dancer, singer and guitar player. She is also an actor but she hates talking in front of people. Isabella has never been sky diving or swimming with sharks but she will one day. She is going to live in New York City, her favourite place in the world.

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beverley Slopen Literary Agency

Beverley Slopen with her e-reader
Article here.
131 Bloor St. W., Suite 711,
Toronto, ON  M5S 1S3 

Beverley Slopen represents a list of internationally published and acclaimed authors in fields ranging from literary and commercial fiction to history, narrative non-fiction, anthropology and biography.  Beverley also handles some true crime and self-help.

Some readers will have met Beverley at the "Strategies for Gettting Published" seminar I hosted at Ryerson University in 2006 when she was on a panel with Ellen Seligman of McClelland & Stewart and Joy Gugeler of ECW Press.

Like most Canadian agents, Beverley doesn't take on many new authors. "Our clients usually come to us by referral or we approach them," says Beverly. "Occasionally, we do respond to very short email queries (to, , but we don't open attachments or long electronic files.

"We don't handle poetry, and almost no works in the categories of fantasy, horror, romance or illustrated books."

Update, Nov 17, 2011:
Editorial Assistant, Andrea Seto, building a client list

Dear Brian,
I am working on building my own client base, but I'm still relatively new at this game and haven't developed much of a list yet.

I'm hoping to develop a Children's/YA list, which the Slopen Agency has not focused on in the past, but I look at submissions for all types of genres both fiction and non-fiction, for all ages.

We're not really taking on any new clients at the moment as we're quite busy with our existing list of authors, I would suggest to your readers to wait until the new year before submitting queries.

We've also changed our submissions policy. We've gone paperless and no longer accept hard copy submissions. Authors should email queries (for either me or Beverley) to

Include a bio, brief synopsis and a few sample pages of writing. If we want to see more we will contact the writer by phone or email.

Andrea Seto
Editorial Assistant
Beverley Slopen Literary Agency

Brian Henry will be leading a "How to Get Published" workshop on Saturday, December 3, 2011, in Oakville with guest Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory literary agency (see here).

Also, Brian will lead a "Writing for Children and for Young Adults" workshop in St. Catharines on January 14, 2012 (see here).

See Brian's full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, OrangevilleGravenhurst, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt wants children's books

The Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group encompasses three award-winning imprints and accepts unsolicited manuscripts.

Houghton Mifflin (home) introduced its list of books for young readers in 1937. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children published luminaries such as H. A. and Margret Rey, Virginia Lee Burton, Bill Peet, Holling C. Holling, Scott O'Dell, and James Marshall; its contemporary authors and illustrators include Steve Jenkins, D. B. Johnson, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Nelson, Eric Schlosser, Brian Lies, Chris Van Allsburg, Allen Say, Lois Lowry, and David Macaulay.

Houghton Mifflin is also home to some of the best-loved children's book characters: Curious George, Lyle the Crocodile, George and Martha, Martha of Martha Speaks, and Tacky the Penguin.

Clarion Books (home) became an imprint of Houghton Mifflin in 1979. Clarion's award-winning authors include David Wiesner, Linda Sue Park, Karen Cushman, Katherine Paterson, and Gary Schmidt.

Harcourt Children's Books (home), known for classics such as The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge and The Little Prince, features notable authors and illustrators such as Avi, Janell Cannon, Margaret Chodos-Irvine, Lois Ehlert, Mem Fox, Han Nolan, Gennifer Choldenko, David Shannon, Janet Stevens, Susan Stevens Crummel, and Helen Oxenbury.


Clarion Books and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Books are both accepting unsolicited manuscripts. However, they’ll no longer respond to an unsolicited submission unless they’re interested in publishing it.

Please submit by conventional mail only. We do not accept e-mailed or faxed manuscripts. Because confirmation postcards are easily separated from the manuscript or hidden, we do not encourage you to include them with your submission.

Please do not include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Submissions will be recycled, and you will not hear from us regarding the status of your submission unless we are interested. We regret that we cannot respond personally to each submission, but we do consider each and every submission we receive. If we're interested, expect to hear back within 12 weeks.

You do not have to furnish illustrations, but if you wish, copies of a few comprehensive sketches or duplicate copies of original art will suffice.

For fiction we prefer to see the entire manuscript, and for nonfiction a synopsis and sample chapters.

We prefer a typed (letter-quality), double-spaced manuscript on unfolded plain white paper in a 9 x 12 envelope. We do not accept manuscripts that are handwritten or submitted on computer disk.

Please send your submission(s) to:

Clarion Books
215 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10003
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Books
222 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116-3764

Submitting art for children's books:
• Do not send original artwork or slides
• Send color photocopies, tearsheets, or photos
• Send a SASE if you would like your samples returned to you
Please submit only your strongest work. As to subject matter, illustrations that feature children or animals are always welcome, but feel free to submit other subjects as well. It is also a good idea to look at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt books in your local bookstore or library to get a sense of what kinds of books we publish.

Please send art submissions to
Art Department
Children's Trade Books
222 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116-3764

Complete submissions information here.

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

"Exploring Creative Writing," Tuesdays, Jan 25 – March 22, Burlington

Nine weeks of fun and discovery
Tuesday afternoons, 12:45  2:45 p.m.
January 25 – March 22
Appleby United Church
4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington (Map here.)

In this course you'll explore all kinds of creative writing. We’ll visit short story writing and personal writing, children’s writing, memoir writing, and just for fun writing. You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe environment, where your words will flow and flower.

Fee: $115.04 plus 13% hst = $130. Advance registration only. Number of attendees strictly limited.

To reserve your spot now, email
Note: Brian's writing classes tend to fill up, to avoid disappointment, register early.

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

Come to a book launch - Oct 16 in North Bay or Oct 30 in Sturgeon Falls

Hi Brian,
Your workshops and feedback have helped me on several occasions over the past decade, and I am happy to announce that my debut novel, Swampy Jo, is being launched this month by Scrivener Press. Since taking your sessions, I've published a number of short stories, including "Grumble" in the 2006 YSP anthology Bluffs: Northeastern Ontario Stories from the Edge. I illustrated La Laineuse by Rachel Desaulniers (Le Centre FORA, 2006), and was also invited by my publisher to illustrate the cover and interior illustrations for Swampy Jo.

Thanks for all your good advice and objective information about the writing industry.

Also, I want to invite all your readers to my book launches: Saturday, October 16th from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. in North Bay at Gullivers' Quality Books & Toys
and Saturday, October 30th, 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. in Sturgeon Falls at Mac's Office Supplies on King Street

All the best,
Jennifer Rouse Barbeau

About the book:
Can you grow up sane if the adults in your life are crazy?

Swampy Jo is the wry coming-of-age story of fourteen-year-old Sarah Jo (nicknamed Swampy Jo for her poor hygiene) whose obsession with diet and exercise is slowly erasing her. Can she piece together the puzzle of dirty secrets that have led to her parents’ divorce, her mother’s nervous breakdown, and her aunt’s obsession with cleaning? Left alone to cope, Swampy Jo must decipher the sign of the Mystic Cross in time to save the life of a remote but compelling boy, whose fate, she learns, is mysteriously linked to hers.

Swampy Joe is published by Scrivener Press, a regional publisher in Northeaster Ontario.  Check out their website here.  And submission requirements here.
Swampy Joe is available for sale at book stores and on-line from Chapters here.
For information about Brian Henry's writing workshps and creative writing courses, see here.
Open Book Ontario has an interview up with Donna Marrin of the Markham Village Writers' Group.  Donna Marrin established the Markham Village Writers in 1999. In 2004 she arranged a collaboration of the Markham Village Writers and the Markham Group of Artists to produce an anthology of short fiction and juried artwork titled, The Collected Works.

To celebrate the Markham Village Writers' 10th Anniversary, Donna launched a zine-style website for writers:

The site provides a listing of current literary events in Ontario, along with stories and poetry, monthly interviews with people in the industry, and loads of helpful resources for writers. Check out the interview with Donna here.

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

“Darkness at the Stroke of Noon” by Dennis Richard Murphy, reviewed by Bob Young

HarperCollinsCanada* trade paperback $21.95

Many Canuks (including yours truly) loathe winter’s darkness, but this novel thrives on it. In this genre-bending tale, the almost twenty-four-hour darkness of a remote Arctic island becomes a character in itself, affecting the plot and creating a stark yet enchanting mood.

Darkness at the Stroke of Noon is suspenseful crime fiction, but it’s also Murphy’s musing on several themes: imperial Britain’s hubris, current Canada-US relations, the geopolitics of global warming, and the beauty and harshness of the far north.

Beyond the story’s themes, it’s hard to pigeonhole this book into a single sub-genre of crime fiction. By my count, Murphy mixes together four of them.

First, as a cozy, the plot’s catalyst is a sort of village murder, but the “village” is an isolated archaeological dig site, peopled by a small group of scientists, students, and support staff. Second, as a classic puzzle mystery, the novel has enough suspects, possible motives, and confusing details to satisfy fans of the play-fair detective story.

Third, fans of suspense will revel in the multiple and shadowy threats to Booker Kennison, an RCMP sergeant and the main protagonist. Fourth, the story is a thriller in that the archaeological dig’s findings may result in Canada losing ownership of the Northwest Passage and in the Inuit losing their reputation as a peaceful people.

Dennis Richard Murphy
September 6, 1943 – June 15, 2008
Structurally, Murphy took a risk by interweaving the real-time action with events from the Franklin Expedition of the 1840s. (That doomed sea excursion was a British attempt to find the Northwest Passage through the Arctic.) In gory detail, these long-ago events play out in the diary of a Franklin-Expedition crew member.

The narrative voice of the British nineteenth-century diary is pitch-perfect, and the journal’s contents are key to the overall plot. They’re also suspenseful, horrifying, and tragic. In fact, Murphy’s handling of the journal device—with its harrowing first-person telling of a crew member’s initial idealism, disillusionment, and ultimate despair—elevates this novel above the average mainstream mystery.

If there are weaknesses, I found that the motive and behaviour of the murderer and the accomplice sometimes strained credibility. Perhaps deeper characterization of them would have helped. Also, the denouement bordered on sentimentality in the character’s thoughts and the dialogue. But any blemishes don’t diminish Murphy’s accomplishment in telling a fresh, complex, and politically relevant story of Canadian crime. 

Will you be seeing sergeant Booker Kennison again, in a series? Unfortunately not, because Dennis Richard Murphy died in 2008, shortly after finishing the manuscript for this novel. Murphy had a successful career in film and television as a writer, director, and producer of documentaries; he also taught in the field. It’s a shame that his promise as a novelist and the potential for a Booker Kennison series weren’t fully realized before his untimely death.

Bob Young is an emerging writer who is interested in crime novels and how they can be about more than just “who/why/how done it.” Bob has lived in Toronto and Vancouver, and currently calls Guelph, Ontario, his home. He lives with his wife and a mischievous tabby cat.

For information about Brian Henry's writing workshops and creative writing courses, see here.
*Note to writers: Unfortunately, HarperCollins only accepts agented material. It does not accept unsolicited submissions or query letters.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Extreme Creative Writing, Wednesday evenings, Jan 26 - April 13

12 weeks of inspiration, creativity & growth
First set of readings distributed by email Jan 19.
Classes run Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
Jan 26 to Apr 13
at Sheridan United Church
2501 Truscott Drive, Mississauga (Map here.)

This course is for people who are working on their own writing. The format is similar to the "Intensive" and "Intermediate" courses: You’ll be asked to bring in 6 pieces of your writing for detailed feedback. All your pieces may be from the same work, such as a novel in progress, or they may be stand alone pieces. You bring whatever you want to work on.

Besides critiquing pieces, I'll also be giving short lectures at the start of each class, addressing the needs of the group.

In addition to learning how to critique your own work and receiving constructive suggestions about your writing, you’ll discover that the greatest benefits come from seeing how your classmates approach and critique a piece of writing and how they write and re-write.

This is a challenging course, but extremely rewarding.

Fee: $170.80 plus 13% hst = $193
Advance registration only. Brian's courses usually fill up, so enroll early to avoid disappointment.

To reserve a spot now, email:

For information about all off my creative writing courses and writing workshops, see here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Caryn Karmatz Rudy & Adam Korn of DeFiore literary seek authors

DeFiore and Company
47 East 19th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003

Caryn Karmatz Rudy joined DeFiore and Company in the fall of 2010. Prior to becoming a literary agent, Caryn spent 17 years as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction for Warner Books/Grand Central Publishing. During that time, she edited a number of New York Times bestsellers. She believes falling shamelessly in love with a book is the ultimate weapon in any agent, author, or editor's arsenal. Caryn graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and currently sits on the Board of Kelly Writers House at the university.

"I gravitate towards fiction with memorable characters, captivating voices, and original plotting, and I relish a great page-turner as much as a literary masterpiece," says Caryn. "I am intrigued by a wide range of nonfiction, from narrative to practical, especially focusing on lifestyle, parenting, women's issues, and memoirs that exhibit quirky perspectives. In both fiction and nonfiction, if you can make me laugh, you've won half the battle."

Please email at
Use the word "Query" and your book's title in the subject line. Please include a brief, compelling description of the book in the email, along with a short bio, and for fiction and memoir, please include the first five pages of the manuscript in the body of the email. Attachments will not be opened unless requested.

Adam Korn
Adam Korn also joined DeFiore and Company within the past year, after a short stint as an agent at Vigliano Associates. He had been a Senior Editor at HarperCollins and, before that, an editor with Crown and Random House. “Adam's general non-fiction areas of interest include pop culture, humor, pop psychology, pop science, sports, music, investigative journalism, feisty memoir, and young business leadership/inspiration. And while he's very selective about the fiction he takes on, strong young literary novelists shouldn't be afraid to reach out!”

To query Adam, please send an email to
If your concise pitch letter interests him, he'll request material.

General submission guidelines:

Note: Brian Henry has "How to Get Published" workshops coming up in London on November 6 with guest Tina Tsallas of Great Titles Literary Agency (details here) and in Mississauga on December 4 with guest Martha Magor Webb of the Anne McDermid literary agency (details here).

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