Friday, July 23, 2021

“Lethal Injection” by Jo-Anne Robertson

When I was young, I had a nearly fatal reaction to a needle wielded by my mother. I swear that what follows is the true account. My mother, however, does not remember and swears it never happened. We swear a lot in my family.

I was four years old the year I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, and it led to great upheaval in my family. While I'd previously waken up early to eat cereal with my dad, I now had to stop eating Lucky Charms and wait for my mom to get up and give me my insulin shot so I could eat oatmeal.

As recommended by my doctor, Dr. Hart, who was as endearing as his name suggests, my mom rotated my injection sites to avoid scar tissue. Unlike my present body, where ample rolls of needle real estate surround my mid-drift, as a trim preschooler, we stuck to six locations: left upper arm, right upper arm, left thigh, right thigh, left bum, right bum. 

Just to clarify, bum described the fleshy part of your hips that appears when you are seated. It was a great place for an insulin injection but hard for my mom to access. So we worked out a system.

I would drop my drawers and flop over her lap, and she would pinch up a roll of skin. Together we would chant in unison: “One, two, three, go!” Then my mom would impale me with what felt like a yardstick but was closer to a 2 cm (or ¾ of an inch, if that’s your persuasion) needle. Day in, day out. “One two three go!” After a few years, we had become an outstanding team of injection partners.

The day of my brush with death was a right bum morning. I was now about seven years old and I continued our routine as I dropped my pj pants and eased over my mom’s lap. Mom was sitting on the edge of her and my dad’s bed, and I was facing their moss green plush carpet. My bum up, we began to count. “One, two, three, go!” and I felt the needle go in. When the plunger should have expelled the insulin, my mom started shrieking,

“Lift your legs, lift your legs!”

I froze. Something very, very bad was happening, and my mom was performing a life-saving emergency move that I didn’t know. The first thought that came to my mind was blood. I was bleeding to death.

“Joey, lift your legs!”

And I did. As agile as Nadia Comaneci, I bent my legs into the air while remaining across my mom’s lap.

Heart racing, chest constricting, my breath came in short gasps. I couldn’t see what was happening to my backside, and while I couldn’t feel the flow of blood, this only doubled my fear.

“What’s wrong?” I shrieked back. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s okay,” said my mom breathlessly. “There was a spider crawling towards your feet.”

If there was a single moment that I was old enough to be really, really pissed off at my mother, that time had arrived. Bursting into tears, I howled at her: “I thought I was dying!” and ran to get away, the now drooping needle falling out of my bum. On my way out, I saw the world’s tiniest spider scuttle across the carpet. When we had to redo my shot that morning, I opted for a left arm. Soon after, I learned to give the needles by myself, and rather than calling on my dad, I also learned how to kill spiders.


Jo-Anne Robertson is a daughter, a sister, an aunt and the proud mother of fur babies who are good at training her. During Covid, her passion for writing has re-emerged.


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


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Fall courses ~ Welcome to Creative Writing, Personal Stories and Intensive Creative Writing ~ offered online and in-person

Welcome to Creative Writing

10 weeks of discovering your creative side

(On Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)

Tuesday afternoons, 1 – 3 p.m.
September 28 – December 7, 2021 {no class Oct 26}

This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment. This course will open the door to writing short stories and writing dialogue, writing in first person and writing in third person, writing just for fun and writing all kinds of things. 

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 setting, where your words will grow and flower.

Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email:

Writing Personal Stories

9 weeks of sharing and writing

Online (on Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)Monday afternoons, 12:45 – 2:45 p.m.
Sept 27 – Dec 13, 2021 {no class Oct 11 or Oct 25}

In-Person: Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 8:45 p.m.
Sept 29 – Nov 24, 2021
St. Elizabeth’s Church, 5324 Bromley Rd, Burlington, Ontario. Map here.
{Meeting in-person, we’ll be observing any public health rules still effect – smaller numbers, masks or whatever – and given the unpredictable nature of the Pandemic, it’s possible this course will have to revert to being online.}

If you've ever considered writing your personal stories, this course is for you. We’ll look at memoirs, travel writing, personal essays, family history ~ personal stories of all kinds. Plus, of course, we’ll work on creativity and writing technique and have fun doing it. 

Whether you want to write a book or just get your thoughts down on paper, this weekly course will get you going. We'll reveal the tricks and conventions of telling true stories, and we’ll show you how to use the techniques of the novel to recount actual events. Weekly writing exercises and friendly feedback from the instructor will help you move forward on this writing adventure. Whether you want to write for your family and friends or for a wider public, don't miss this course.

For the in-person, Tuesday afternoon class, we'll have Jennifer M. Smith, author of Green Ghost, Blue Ocean for our guest speaker. The guest speaker for the online, Monday afternoon class isn't confirmed yet. 

Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email:

Intensive Creative Writing

12 weeks of growth as a writer

(On Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)

Thursday afternoons, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Sept 23 – Dec 16, 2021 {no class Oct 21}
Friday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Sept 17 – Dec 10, 2021 {no class Oct 22}

Intensive Creative Writing isn't for beginners; it's for people who have been writing for a while or who have done a course or two before and are working on their own projects. You’ll be asked to bring in five pieces of your writing for detailed feedback, including three long pieces. 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, the instructor will give short lectures addressing the needs of the group, and 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: $229.20 + hst = $259

To reserve your spot, email:

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada's most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he’s has helped many of his students get published.   

Read reviews of Brian's various courses and workshops here (and scroll down).

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Places to send your fiction, essays, poetry, and travel writing

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox.  Fill in the "Follow Brian by Email" box to the right under my bio and get each post delivered to your Inbox.  

Also, you can hang out and chat with quick brown foxes and vixens on my Facebook page (here). Just send a friend request to Brian Henry

Finally, if you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale, to: ~ Brian


Motherwell is an online publication that tells all sides of the parenting story, with original content on family life, culture, obstacles and the process of overcoming them. Additionally, every day we curate the best, most interesting, and most thought-provoking parenting-related content across our social media platforms. 

At Motherwell, we believe that modern parenting is a complicated entity and, as such, every single mom and dad out there has a unique voice that can contribute to our understanding of it. This means we feel strongly about showcasing a full spectrum of parenting experiences, but also that we do not shy away from conflicting perspectives.

Current calls for submissions:

New! Motherwell Books. We are excited to announce the launch of Motherwell Books, a new platform on the site where we will be curating and showcasing the best books for parents and parents-to-be. We’re currently looking for posts related to reading and writing, themed book lists (e.g. for new moms, parenting teens, empowering girls), and articles and essays that are centered around a parenting book (or books) that aren’t your own. Please familiarize yourself with our site and the vertical before submitting and include word count (we tend to cap at 1,200).

Parenting and Food. Our new weekly column, we are looking for stories that delve into all the ways in which these two areas of life can intersect. Interpretations might include: cultivating cooking skills with your kids; body image around pregnancy; raising picky or limited eaters; managing food allergies; coping with weight concerns, at either end of the spectrum. Completed essays only and please include word count (we tend to cap at 1,200).

Pandemic Little Lessons. What have you learned during this strange time? Tell us about the ways in which you or your family has grown and/or changed with regard to parenting, relationships/friendships, work-life balance in 500 words or less. We will be featuring your stories across our social media platforms and in our newsletter. All formats accepted, this is an unpaid opportunity.

Full submission guidelines here.

The Sun
107 N. Roberson St.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

The Sun is a reader-supported ad-free magazine. “We’ve been described in many ways: celebratory, fierce, unflinching, thoughtful, truthful, dark, darkly funny, tender. Contributors tell us that after their work reaches more than 70,000 engaged Sun readers, they often hear from old friends and new admirers.

Seeks essays, fiction, and poetry. The Sun is also seeking black and white photography, pitches for interviews with provocative thinkers, and in the Reader’s Write column, nonfiction on given themes: on Haircuts by Aug 1,  on Being Stubborn by Sept 1, and on Concerts by Oct 1.

The Sun pays  $300–$2,000 per piece.

Full guidelines here.


Travelers’ Tales are yearly anthologies of travel writing. "We’re looking for personal, nonfiction stories and anecdotes – funny, illuminating, adventurous, frightening, or grim. Stories should reflect that unique alchemy that occurs when you enter unfamiliar territory and begin to see the world differently as a result. Stories that have already been published are welcome as long as the author retains the copyright to reprint the material.”

Release date for Volume 12: Sept 2021. Deadline open

Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana got lots of laughs, so we’re seeking funny stories for another volume. The book will include stories from both women and men. No length restrictions but for humor, shorter is usually better. Deadline: open.

Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures and other books such as The Thong Also Rises and More Sand in My Bra have been huge hits. We’re always looking for hilarious, outrageous misadventures for future books, so send us your stories. Deadline open.

Pays $100.

Guidelines here.

Travelers’ Tales also accepts book length manuscripts. Guidelines here.


Backpacker magazine seeks feature articles, first person essays, and pieces for many departments. First time writers often break in through writing a piece for one of the departments: “Life List,” “Done in a Day,” “Weekend,” “Skills,” and “Gear.” Department pieces run 100–1,200 words.

Payment for pieces varies.  Guidelines here.


Quick Brown Fox Quick Brown Fox welcomes your book reviews and your short stories, poems, and essays about reading, writing, favourite books, and libraries. Read a few essays on the blog to get a taste of what other writers have done (see here and scroll down).

Quick Brown Fox also welcomes reviews of any kind and of anything, anywhere or anybody. If you want to review your favourite coffee shops or libraries, babysitters or lovers (no real names please), go for it. See examples of book reviews here (and scroll down); other reviews here  (and scroll down).

Submit to:

Include a short bio at the end of your piece and attach a photo of yourself if you have one that’s okay.


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

Monday, July 19, 2021

This coming Sunday, July 15: How to Write Great Dialogue ~ online workshop

How to Write Great Dialogue

Sunday, July 25, 2021
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Offered online, so you can attend from wherever there's Internet

Accessible to beginners and meaty enough for experienced writers, this workshop will show you how to use dialogue to make your stories more dynamic and dramatic. 
Whether you’re writing fiction or memoir, you need to be able to write great dialogue that both sounds natural and packs dramatic punch, and you need to know how to mix your dialogue and narrative so that your characters come alive. 
Come to this workshop and learn all about writing dialogue – both the basics and the best tricks of the trade. 

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to St. John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.

Read reviews of Brian's Saturday workshops, weekly courses and weekend retreats, here {and scroll down}.

This workshop will be offered on Zoom. Orientation provided, but you will need a computer, tablet or smartphone with a mic and, preferably, a camera {i.e. a webcam}. 

Fee: $37.17 + hst = $42 advance payment only. 

To reserve a spot now, email:

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding online and in-person writing workshops, weekly writing classes, and weekend retreats in Algonquin Park, Alliston, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Georgina, Guelph, Hamilton, Jackson’s Point, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Southampton, Sudbury, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

8th House Publishing seeks novels, poetry, and distinctive nonfiction

8th House Publishing

Montreal & New York

8th House Publishing seeks exemplary fiction, philosophy, esoterica, books of verse, and other earnest works.  They want writing that is modern, radical, enduring, insightful, and inventive.


Include two or three chapters and a full table of contents

8th House also need graphic artists for covers and illustrations.
Send your e-portfolio to:  

See full submission guidelines here.

Note: If you’re interested in meeting an agent and in getting published, don’t miss our How to Get Published workshop ~ online ~ Saturday, Aug 14, with literary agent Gordon Warnock of Fuse Literary (see here).

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

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Eight agents at Fuse Literary seek fiction and nonfiction, picture books to adult books

The Iron Raven by Julia Kagawa
represented by Fuse Literary

Fuse Literary

Silicon Valley, California

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the Follow Brian by Email box to the right under my bio, and get each post delivered to your Inbox. If you’re not yet on my newsletter list, send me an email, including your local to ~Brian

Fuse Literary is a full-service west coast literary agency based in the Silicon Valley, with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Dallas, and Vancouver. Fuse has ten agents, most of whom are seeking new authors. Here are three that might be of special interest:

Gordon Warnock is a founding partner at Fuse Literary and is based in Vancouver, so he may be of special interest to Quick Brown Fox readers. Gordan brings years of experience as a senior agent, marketing director, editor for independent publishers, publishing consultant, and author coach. He frequently teaches workshops and gives keynote speeches at conferences and MFA programs nationwide. He is an honors graduate of CSUS with a B.A. in Creative and Professional Writing.

Gordon is interested in both fiction and nonfiction, both for adults and young adults.

In fiction, Gordon is looking for fresh concepts that excite him before he even starts reading and tension-filled prose that won’t let him stop. “Plot is very important, as is an authentic voice that makes me believe your protagonist is a real person.” Novels must be completed, polished and between 55,000 and 100,000 words long. For all text-based works, please paste in the first chapter below your query. For graphic novels, please attach a 10-page sequential PDF excerpt of the finished artwork, not to exceed 50 MB.

Genres he considers include:
High-Concept Suspense
Book Club Women’s Fiction
Literary Fiction for Adults through YA
Graphic Novels for Adults through MG

Some of his favorites are: The Good Girl, Gaijin, The Weight of Lies, Freakboy, and We the Animals.

In nonfiction Gordon is looking for large-platform projects in which the book represents something bigger than the book itself, of which you are the expert, the one best fit to bring it to the page. “I prefer to work with socially-responsible books that raise new issues or illuminate common issues in new ways. I love books with strong charity tie-ins and celebrities coming together to promote a good cause on a large scale.”

For memoir, please paste in the first chapter below your query. For graphic nonfiction, please attach a 10-page sequential PDF excerpt of the finished artwork, not to exceed 50 MB. For all other genres, please email your query letter only.

Genres he considers include:
Memoir (Adult, NA, YA, Graphic)
Cookbooks/Food Narrative/Food Studies
Illustrated/Art/Photography (especially graphic nonfiction)
Political and Current Events
Pop-Culture (especially punk culture and geek culture)
Business and Career

Some of my favorites are: Wreck This Journal, Steak and Cake, Digging Up Mother, Drinking at the Movies, and Paper: Paging through History.

He’s not looking for Genre Fiction (Western, Romance, Sci-Fi), Satire, Legal Thrillers, New Age, Children’s and MG, Novellas, Screenplays, Collections of essays, short fiction, or poetry (unless you also write full-length works)

Query Gordan via  email at: 

Follow him on Twitter, but unsolicited submissions via social media will get you blocked without notice.


Note: Gordon will be our guest speaker at our online How to get Published workshop Saturday, August 14. If you're interested in getting a book published don't miss it. Details here


Karly Dizon is an Associate Agent, and like all relatively new agents, she needs authors. Karly has a deep love for characters with a strong voice and seeks out stories she can get lost in. Diversity in genre fiction is {of course} a major bonus.

She specializes in picture book, middle grade, and young adult genre fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary).

Karly was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Northern California as a child. She obtained her Business Marketing degree and has been a Freelance Graphic Designer for over 10 years. In addition to designing a wide range of print and web promotional material for clients, Karly creates book covers for Short Fuse and promotional graphics for Fuse authors.

Professionally, Karly began her career in the publishing industry as a reader for Tricia Skinner at Fuse Literary. Her responsibilities quickly grew and she was promoted to Literary Assistant, a role that also included a spot on the production team of Short Fuse.

Karly is also the Marketing Coordinator of the San Francisco Writers Conference, held every President’s Day weekend. In her spare time, Karly is an Adobe Technical Trainer, freelance graphic designer, Young Adult author, video game geek, and art noob.

Query Karly through her query manager here.

Ernie Chiara has recently been promoted to Associate Agent, and like all new agents, he needs authors.

Ernie first joined the Fuse Literary team as a writer, signing on as a client with Michelle Richter. Then, when his interest in the agenting side of the business grew to match his love of writing, Ernie gained experience as an Assistant Agent under the guidance of Tricia Skinner. Ernie has previously served as Communications Director for Pitch Wars, a writer mentorship program, where he was also a Mentor in the Adult category.

Ernie is outspoken about the issues of equality, accuracy in representation, and the raising of marginalized voices, both in society as a whole and as they relate to the publishing industry.

Ernie specializes in Fantasy and Science for adults and young adults. 

In Fantasy, Ernie is looking for High Fantasy, Low Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, and Science Fantasy. “I'm looking for second world fantasy with unique world-building elements, original settings, or based on peoples and histories that are traditionally underrepresented in the genre. In urban fantasy, I prefer stories that feature gritty action, complex characters, unusual plot structure, or any combination of the above. Retellings, but only if it's a fresh take on a concept that hasn't been overdone.”

A few specifics:
Anything that comps THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY, or WARRIOR (HBO Max)
Fantasy that comps Peaky Blinders or Harlots or both
Fantasy with cultural roots like BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF by Marlon James
LGBTQIA+ Adult Fantasy
Fantasy that blows me away with a brand new, entirely unique magical system
IP MAN meets THE MAGICIANS with magic martial arts schools or clans instead of a magic university
Adult Asian-based or Asian-American fantasy
Historical fantasy like JONATHAN STRANGE but from a different culture
Afrofuturist Fantasy or any BIPOC Fantasy story with BIPOC characters. Send me everything that comps N.K. Jemisin
Urban Fantasy-Mystery like MAGIC FOR LIARS or RIVERS OF LONDON. No werewolves or vampires please
Magical libraries, magical bookstores, magical book stalls with back alley portals to magical worlds
Fantasy set in Boston or an alternate-Boston. Give me a Boston version of THE CITY WE BECAME, UN LUN DUN, or NEVERWHERE
Contemporary fantasy or magical realism like BIPOC ADDIE LARUE or THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

His science fiction interests include, Science Fantasy, Climate SF (Cli-Fi), Time Travel, Alternate/Parallel Universe, and Speculative Fiction

“I'm especially excited for cerebral our-world stories, distant future stories, near future stories (must have exceptionally unique elements or be something unusual and original). I'm also receptive to Science Fantasy with original concepts, Military SF, AI, and some cyberpunk. 

“I'm not particularly drawn to dystopian, post-apocalyptic, science-based zombie/vampire effect, or superheroes/powers, unless they're completely unique and based on peoples or histories that are traditionally underrepresented in the genre.”

A few specifics:
Rescue mission from poor/dying Earth upward through each distinct orbiting level of society to the uppermost/richest hardest-to-penetrate level. Think race/gender-flipped SENLIN ASCENDS meets Altered Carbon S1.
Climate Fiction like Paolo Bacigalupi's THE WINDUP GIRL and THE WATER KNIFE
Anything that comps SPACE SWEEPERS or MANIAC (Netflix)
Time travel stories with strong characters at their heart, think 11/22/63 by Stephen King or KINDRED by Octavia Butler
SF 'one room'–style mystery set in the future, where near-ageless conniving matriarch is the prime suspect in deaths of all her adult offspring. Like Speculative KNIVES OUT flipped on its head
LGBTQIA+ Adult Sci-Fi
Mars rovers meets Battlebots
Fabulist Urban Spec Fic like China Miéville's PERDITO STREET STATION
Africanfuturist SF, or any BIPOC SF story with BIPOC characters. Send me everything that comps Nnedi Okorafor

His magical realism interests include Literary and Upmarket Fiction, Fabulism, and Fantasy/Speculative crossover

“I'm not so much into stuffy, self-important literary fiction, but if your adult literary or upmarket fiction sits firmly within magical realism, fabulism, speculative, or out-of-the-ordinary retellings, I'd be all over it. In those, I prefer full characters with genuine issues and needs, inner-city settings, gritty and strange, inexplicable or experimental, not just from communities I know, but from those you make me want to know more about.”

A few specifics:
Contemporary fantasy or magical realism like BIPOC ADDIE LARUE or THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY
Black version of UTOPIA AVENUE featuring Magical Realism in Motown or the golden age of Rap
Anything that comps Claire North
Literary or Upmarket Magical Realism like Carlos Ruiz Zafón's THE SHADOW OF THE WIND
Magical Realism set in Boston or an alternate-Boston
He’s not interested in Greek mythology or derivative adaptations, ghosts or supernatural/paranormal

Like everyone else, Ernie would especially like to see “writers whose characters share their marginalizations, with stories that come from a place of truth. I'd love to see more true diversity in SFF, more BIPOC or LGBTQ+ characters in Fantasy stories with unique, underrepresented settings.” If writing from one's own experience is not something you believe is important, he says he may not be the right agent for you.

Stalk him via his website here.

Query Ernie via his query manager here.  

See details for all Fuse agents and their submission requirements here.

Brian Henry’s schedule continues to take shape...


Online: How to Write Great Dialogue, Sunday, July 25. Details here.


Online: How to Get Published, with literary agent Gordon Warnock of Fuse Literary, Saturday, Aug 14.  Details here.

In-Person: How to Write Great Characters,  Saturday, Aug 21. Details here.

September ~ Weekly classes

Online: Welcome to Creative Writing, 10 weeks of discovering your creative side, Tuesday afternoons, Sept 28 – Dec 7, 2021 {no class Oct 26}. Details here.

Online: Writing Personal Stories, 9 weeks of creativity and companionship, Monday afternoons, Sept 27 – Dec 13 {no class Oct 11 or Oct 26}. Details here.

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

Online: Intensive Creative Writing, a challenging course to help you grow as a writer. 
Offered online at two different times: Thursday afternoons, Sept 23 – Dec 16, 2021 {no class Oct 21}, and Friday mornings, Sept 17 – Dec 10, 2021 {no class Oct 22}. Details here.

Writing Retreat:

Lake Joseph in Muskoka: Writing Retreat at Sherwood Inn Resort.  Join us for a writers’ getaway at one of Ontario’s most elegant inns. Friday, Oct 23 – Monday, Oct 25. Details to come. But to reserve a spot, email


 Navigation tips: Always check out the Labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. If you're searching for more interviews with literary agents or a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post.