Saturday, July 31, 2021

Muskoka Writing Retreat, Friday, Oct 22 – Monday, Oct 25


October in Muskoka Writing Retreat

Friday, October 22 – Monday, October 25, 2021
Sherwood Inn on Lake Joseph
1090 Sherwood Road, Port Carling, Ontario, Canada (Map 

Give yourself four days of writing time – a long weekend of instruction, inspiration and creativity. Award yourself with time away from distractions, with no dishes to do, delicious food at every meal, and with the leisure you need to sit with your feet up and write.

The retreat will feature both instruction and guided writing exercises, plus one-on-one critiquing and coaching from Brian.  You’ll also have lots of time to relax, rejuvenate, and reconnect with your creativity. All writing levels welcome. Whether you’re just beginning or have a novel in progress, please join us. 

The setting: Sherwood is an elegant resort started some eighty years ago by Harry Draper, a Toronto lawyer who fell in love with the Muskoka’s. He envisioned Sherwood as a charming estate rather than as a sprawling hotel and wanted guests to feel as if they were staying at a friend’s cottage.  Sherwood Inn, especially the Inn itself, still maintains that warm, old-Muskoka charm.  

Thomas B. Costain, author of numerous best-selling historical novels, including The Chalice and The Black Rose, was a regular guest, so the Inn has a track record as a good spot for writing. Lawren Harris and George Thomson (brother of Tom Thomson) both painted here, though the century-old pines surrounding the Inn would have been a bit younger then.

Rates include accommodation. Rooms are located in the main Inn. Each room includes a queen bed, an en-suite three-piece bathroom, and a desk (for writing).

For double occupancy, there are a limited number of rooms available in the Maplewood building, with two double beds.

All meals – Friday dinner, Saturday and Sunday breakfast, lunch and dinner, Monday breakfast and lunch – are provided, as are coffee & snack breaks on Saturday and Sunday. Alcoholic beverages are extra, as are golf and Spa treatments.

Activities included: We’re between seasons – too late for swimming, too early for cross-country skiing – but if we have a warm fall so that the water is not yet too cold, canoes and kayaks will still be available. There are also hiking trails, fat bikes, tennis courts and shuffleboard, and a regular bonfire. Unlike our Algonquin retreats, there is also Internet (alas), so if you must know what’s going on in the world, you can keep up.  We recommend, though, that you relax in one of the many strategically place Muskoka chairs throughout the property, enjoy the soothing wilderness sounds and let your creative juices flow.

Additional activities: The Inn also features a comfortable licensed lounge and a spa. “True North MVMNT is dedicated to getting you moving towards your happiest and healthiest self! We provide professional Massage Therapy and Esthetic services for all ages and backgrounds. Spa treatments are not included in the package, but if you're interested, you should certainly book an appointment (here).  

There are various attractions in the area, including the Muskoka Lakes (Cranberry) Farm and Winery, just 8 minutes down the road, cruises out of Port Carling, weather permitting, plus one outstanding golf course that will still be open, depending on the weather. (Something of a theme here.)  

Check-in on Friday is 4 p.m. Our first writing get-together will be at 5 p.m. Check-out on Monday is at 11 a.m.. Followed by lunch. Feel free to arrive early – your room may well be ready, andin any case, before 4 p.m. on Friday and after lunch on Monday, you're welcome to use the resort's facilities. 

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 has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.

Read about previous retreats here {and scroll down}.

Fees: including both the writing retreat and accommodation, meals, coffee & snack service, and all resort amenities: $1,185.84, plus 13% hst for the three nights.

Not included: alcoholic drinks, spa services, golf, or other extras.

Double occupancy: If you’re coming with a friend, partner, or spouse and you’re both participating in the retreat, there are a limited number of rooms in the Maplewood building which include two double beds. Fee per person, including both the writing retreat and accommodation, meals, coffee & snack service, and all resort amenities: $1,044.25, plus 13% hst for the three nights.

Bring a (non-participating) significant other along for the weekend to share your Inn room for an additional $135.40 plus hst per night  (includes accommodation, meals and all resort amenities, but not the writing part of the retreat or our coffee breaks). If you and your significant other want to upgrade to a Maplewood room – either a king bed or 2 doubles – add $120 plus hst for the three nights.

Book early – space is limited! 

Note: Participants should be double-vaccinated (unless of course you're unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons) . Full receipts issued.

For more information or to register, email:

Note: Bookings for accommodations for this retreat must be done through Brian (unlike our retreats in Algonquin, where you book your accommodations through the resort). Participants may tack on additional nights at the resort before or after the retreat; these are offered at a special discounted rate. Additional nights need to be booked directly with the resort, after booking your space in the workshop.

Who can attend the retreat?

Everyone interested in developing their writing skills is welcome to attend, whether you're aspiring writer or an accomplished author or simply enjoy writing as a hobby. There is no requirement for you to have been previously published or even to have an intention to publish.

Should I bring my work in progress?

Yes! If you have an on-going writing project, bring it with you. Bring more than you expect to get to; you'll have lots of time for writing. Besides, you may want to switch projects or share a project that’s just started or one that’s all done, except for reading it to a small, appreciative audience. If you’re not currently working on anything, don’t worry, we’ll get you writing.

Should I bring my laptop?

Yes! Unless you only work on paper. Or bring both – your laptop and your writing pad. No sense being short of essential supplies.

I'm a poet / playwright / other writer. Is this retreat for me?

The retreat is open to anyone who enjoys writing. Instruction will focus on narrative writing; i.e., stories, whether fiction or memoir. But if you’re an essayist or poet or whatever, you’re entirely welcome.

Can you cater to specific dietary requirements?

Yes. But please let me know ASAP. The resort would like those sorts of details a month in advance. 

I want to stay longer or arrive early. Is that possible?

If you want to arrive early or stay longer, that’s fine. You’ll book the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night with Brian, and arrange any additional nights with the resort; just make sure they know you’re with Brian Henry’s writing group – they’ve got a good rate for you.

Is there cell phone reception and WIFI?


How about alcohol?

The resort serves alcohol with meals and has a licensed lounge. Guests are also welcome to bring their own wine, beer or whatever for consumption in their room. (Though do note that Hemingway’s advice to write drunk, mostly produces drivel.)

Can I use the spa at the resort or play a round of golf?

Yes, you can certainly book a spa treatment, though that’s extra, and you book these directly with the resort {not through Brian}. I'll get back to you on whether golf courses in the area will still be open. It may depend on the weather.  

Can I bring my spouse (or partner or friend)?

If you want to share your room with a partner, they’re very welcome. Inn rooms each have one queen bed. If you want a king bed or two beds, upgrade to a room in the Maplewood. Just let your partner know you’ll be spending most of your time writing, (though you will have some free time every day).

For more information or to register, email: 


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

Friday, July 30, 2021

“Decent Dippers are Going Extinct” by Brian Henry

Under Jagmeet Singh, the NDP has positioned itself as hostile to Israel, and the thing that most concerns party activists is to defend antisemitism. Yes, there are still decent Dippers. Even a few short years ago, though, it would have been easy to name half a dozen NDP members of parliament who were genuine friends to Israel. Now as far as I can see, there’s just one: Randall Garrison, the NDP member for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke in BC.

Garrison is one of three Canadian MPs (plus one former MP) on the Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism (see here). He’s the only member of the NDP caucus who refused to sign a pledge put out by a number of virulently anti-Israel organizations to sanction Israel when it was considering annexing parts of the West Bank in 2020. Within the NDP Garrison has been a consistent voice of sanity on the topic of Israel.  

And within the NDP, sanity has become hard to find. Consider: at its April 2021 policy convention, the issue activists were most concerned about was to reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s definition of antisemitism. The IHRA is an association of 34 countries, including Canada, that developed a definition of antisemitism which includes antisemitism’s modern manifestation as an obsessive hatred of Israel.

This is the sort of antisemitism that defines Israel as an apartheid regime, when it’s the only liberal democracy in the Middle East. This is the sort of antisemitism that singles out Israel, the one state in the world that happens to be Jewish, for largely imaginary human rights abuses while ignoring far, far worse abuses elsewhere.

It’s the sort of antisemitism that attacks Israel as a racist, colonial, imperialist, genocidal, Nazi entity – as a state that should be wiped out. As for the Jews who live there and for Jews the world over who support Israel’s continuing existence, they’re seen as racist, Jewish-supremist, Nazis, with how de-humanized we are depending on how far down the antisemitic hole they’ve fallen.  

This is an antisemitism that’s potentially genocidal, and it’s an antisemitism that NDP activists want to protect.

Former NDP leader Tom Mulcair was a world leader
in the fight against the sort of antisemitism current 
NDP activists want to protect. 

Consider: at its policy convention, NDP activists brought forth, not one resolution, but three of them, sponsored by 42 different riding associations, all dedicated to rejecting the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism. 

By way of comparison, resolutions concerning China’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims had the backing of just two riding associations, while all resolutions concerning China, including resolutions on the Uyghurs, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Kashmir, had the backing of a total of six ridings.

There were no resolutions at all about most of the gravest human rights abuses on the planet. Not a word about Syria, where half a million people have been butchered since the start of the Syrian Civil War and where arbitrary detentions, torture and enforced disappearances continue daily. 

Not even a murmur about the two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, kidnapped by China.

No resolutions condemning Iran for its oppression of its own people, its support of terrorism and conflicts far beyond its borders, or even for shooting down a passenger jet and killing 85 Canadian citizens and permanent residents. The only resolution concerning Iran called for resuming diplomatic ties.

Not every Dipper has lost their mind. Three NDP members of parliament, Randall Garrison, Alastair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford), and Charlie Angus (Timmins–James Bay) openly opposed the attempts to defend antisemitism. (Though more recently Angus has been defending convicted murderer and terrorist Khalida Jarrar as a “human rights campaigner.” See here.) 

Also, party members from 17 different ridings sent a letter penned by Noah Tepperman, president of the Windsor-Tecumseh Federal NDP, to other NDP riding presidents, saying: “The NDP policy convention, where at least 99 per cent of attendees will not be Jewish, is neither the time nor the place to debate a resolution that condemns the definition of this pervasive hatred for the Jewish people.”

Or in other words, the NDP shouldn’t pretend to explain to Jews what antisemitism is – especially since the real problem Dippers have with the IHRA definition is that it labels their anti-Israel obsession for what it really is.

NDP MP Niki Ashton met with former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corby, March 2021,
to discuss how to "build strong progressive politics." After moving his party deep into
the antisemitic left, Corbyn led Labour to its worst defeat since 1935. Following a
report noting "unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination" under his leadership,
Corbyn was expelled from the party. This isn't a route the NDP should emulate.

None of the resolutions against the IHRA definition came up for a vote at the convention. Party brass clearly decided it would be too embarrassing to allow an overwhelming vote in support of antisemitism. And most especially embarrassing to have this ugly obsession thrust in the face of the millions who vote for the NDP.

The resolution they did allow to come to a vote was the second most popular resolution at the convention: the one clearly placing the NDP on the Palestinian side of the conflict. The resolution called for a cessation of all arms sales to Israel and for the NDP to boycott Israeli products produced beyond the Green Line.

For the past 20 years, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions has been the signature campaign of groups wanting to eradicate Israel. Never before has the NDP bought into this attempt to cut Israelis off from the rest of humanity. The resolution also accused Canada of violating international law because we have a free trade agreement with Israel.

It was backed by 36 riding associations and it passed with the support of 80% of the delegates, with 15% voting against.

What’s worse, since the convention, Jagmeet Singh has acted on the resolution. He’s called on the government to ban all arms sales to Israel, and the Federal NDP website has a petition for the public to sign calling for the same.

Consider: During its war against Israel this past May, Hamas fired 4,340 missiles into Israel, trying to murder as many innocent people as possible.

And the NDP wants Israel to be defenceless.

Image from the No IHRA webstie. The group co-ordinating the NDP
opposition to the IHRA definition of antisemitism also favours BDS, 
the campaign to cut Israel off from the rest of humanity.  

On its northern border, Israel faces Hezbollah, an even more formidable terrorist group, with ten times as many missiles – missiles that fly farther, with more accuracy and carry a deadlier payload. 

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are funded and armed by Iran, which continually proclaims its desire to wipe Israel off the map and is developing nuclear weapons.

And the NDP wants Israel to be defenceless.

The only excuse anyone might give the NDP is that they have little chance of ever winning an election and, militarily, Canada carries no weight, so who cares what their foreign policy is.

But I do care. I care for myself and for Israeli friends. It is tough to be reviled, and to know that people are indifferent as to whether Jews live or die.

I have great admiration for Dippers trying to change the party from within, people like Kamila Graczyk a young convention delegate from Kanata-Carleton who spoke against the anti-Israel resolution at the convention. If I lived in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, I might even vote for Randall Garrison. But otherwise, voting for the NDP is impossible.

It’s ironic. The NDP was once known as the conscience of the nation. Now, a vote for the NDP is unconscionable.


For a history of the IHRA definition and a defence against its detractors, see this brilliant interview with Dr. David Hirsh here.


Brian Henry is a writer, editor, creative writing instructor, and publisher of the Quick Brown Fox blog. He’s written opinion pieces for the National Post and The Toronto Star. He was also a regular contributor to the (now defunct) Jewish Tribune and the Engage and Harry’s Place websites in the UK. This piece was previously published on, the Canadian Jewish community's online journal of news and opinion.  

Monday, July 26, 2021

New Literary Agency with 4 agents seeking new authors

Author Kristin Vayden
is represented by ArtHouse Literary

ArtHouse Literary Agency

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

Latoya Smith from LCS Literary and Felice Laverne from Art + Deco have launched a new agency, ArtHouse Literary Agency, which will "acquire talent across genres in the adult and young adult markets while proudly standing at the forefront of our cultural shift." In addition, they have two associate agents: Shauna Turnmire and Danielle Colburn. None of the four agents seems to have nuch of client list yet, so they're all in need of new authors.

Shauna Turnmire graduated with her masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. She is currently back home in Orlando and is excited to help authors develop their stories and be their biggest cheerleaders.

Shauna is looking for New Adult Fiction, Young Adult Fantasy, and Historical Fiction, including books that give a particular glimpse into the Holocaust and the French Revolution. Favorites in this genre: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris and Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Shauna is often drawn to stories that are a little strange, and especially ones that use speculative or fantastic elements in beautiful, original ways. Across the board, she’s looking for an inclusive cast of characters, across gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and mental health spectrums. Of course, if any manuscript that is submitted to Shauna makes her see the world through a new perspective (i.e. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi) then this is an extra plus plus!

Shauna is mostly looking for YA and New Adult fantasy with major character development. She loves to see fantastical and unique worlds but needs to see the characters overcoming challenges and learning about themselves. If there is an epic or dark romance interspersed, even better! She loves reading about strong, badass women as well in all genres! Favorites in this genre: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Hibiscus Daughters Series by Lana Popovic

Shauna is also looking for contemporary or commercial romance. She is extremely interested in books that delve into complicated relationships and don’t have a pretty bowtie ending. Shauna has a background in the music industry and loves stories centered around bands writing music.  Favorites in this genre: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.

She would love to see anything centered around Irish or Celtic history and lore/mythology.

Query Shauna through the agency’s submissions page here.

Danielle Colburn is actively building her list of authors. She graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in English Language & Literature and History, and she also completed previous internships at Candlewick Press and the Quarto Group. 

A fan of SFF and historical fiction, Danielle is currently looking for manuscripts that feature layered world building and conflict or which place LGBT+ characters and narratives in the spotlight.

Danielle is fascinated by science fiction/fantasy that breaks the mold and pushes the speculative genre past what is to what could be, à la Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the Ninth and This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. She is looking for dark thrillers, brainy mysteries, and select literary/upmarket fiction. She’s interested in both genre and highbrow fiction that can provide complex, fully realized characters and an addictive narrative and, like everyone else, especially wants stories with leads from underrepresented communities. Sapphic or otherwise LGBTQIA+ characters will always turn her head, but any story with compelling conflict and a distinctive central voice is welcome. 

Danielle can easily get lost in historical fiction that questions dominant historical narratives while focusing on marginalized perspectives, such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith (and its film counterpart, The Handmaiden). Women-centric stories of any kind – especially well-researched feminist or queer retellings, like Madeline Miller’s Circe and Song of Achilles – are after her own heart. She gravitates towards speculative fiction that draws inspiration from fresh sources, particularly non-medieval or non-European history, such as R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War. Layered world building that focuses on postcolonial tensions or the impact of empire, with a keen understanding of structural oppression in our own world, is also a huge plus for Danielle. She’s a fan of cross-over/hybrid books as well, seeking manuscripts that can skillfully combine genres in new and fascinating ways to strengthen the story.

Query Danielle through the agency’s submissions page here.

Loytoya C. Smith began her career as an admin assistant to New York Times bestselling author Teri Woods at Teri Woods publishing. In 2006, she got her first full-time publishing job after graduating at Kensington, then moved to Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette. She moved to Samhain Publishing as Executive Editor and acquired short and long form romance and erotica.

Latoya is looking for projects in both the fiction and nonfiction categories. For fiction, she absolutely loves a good women’s fiction story, chock full of relatable characters, plot twists, and of course, a compelling voice. She is also open to LGBTQ stories, fast-paced thrillers, suspense, and horror. Romance is her first love, so she’s always on the hunt for a good story, driven by love, but with strong emotional conflicts. She prefers the following subgenres in the romance category: contemporary, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, cowboys, and sweet romance.

Latoya is also looking for young adult fiction across the spectrum.

For nonfiction, an established platform is a must! She is open to the following subgenres: Memoir, How-to/Advice and Relationships, Health and Wellness, Politics/Current Events/Social Justice, Sports, Pop-culture, Business/Entrepreneurship.  

Query Latoya through the agency’s submissions page here.

Felice Laverne earned her bachelor’s degree in English, Creative Writing, from Georgia State University. She started her career at About Words Agency directly after college where she worked as an agent until leaving to complete her master’s degree in Publishing at Kingston University in London, England. There, Felice specialized in Diversity & Inclusion in Publishing.

For fiction, Felice focuses on contemporary literary, upmarket, commercial fiction and select fantasy novels. Fiction that explores the subtleties and complexities of language, while still being firmly rooted in modern or futuristic living – whether character or plot-driven.

Felice is also looking for select nonfiction with a unique viewpoint by authors with a well-developed media platform, particularly in the areas of foodie culture/cookbooks, incisive commentary on marginalized cultures and pop culture essay collections.

Bottom line: Felice is looking for art on a page and fresh perspectives, writing that says “NO!” to clichés and formulaic tropes, and you can wow her with writing that offers an energetic voice and a deep sense of place.

Felice has a soft spot for brainy novels set on college campuses à la The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker and Loner by Teddy Wayne; clever whodunits set on estates like The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton and the 2019 film Knives Out; highbrow fiction written around characters of color such as The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter and A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara; contemporary Southern Gothic fiction such as Catherine Lacey’s Pew; novels featuring multicultural Millennials in high-powered workplace situations; and witty and satirical upmarket women’s fiction that reveals a nasty side to a major industry (i.e. fashion, film, etc.) as in The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger. 

She is intrigued by novels that can introduce readers to a new world, make us think differently about one we already know or tap into the cultural climate. Like everyone, Felice is interested in finding and uplifting writers from marginalized communities, particularly writers of color.

Query Felice through the agency’s submissions page here.

Literary agent Gordon Warnock

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

Beyond that, Brian Henry’s schedule continues to take shape...

August workshops

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: Sherwood Inn Writing Retreat: this elegant little resort in the heart of the Muskoka’s will be the site for our fall retreat. Friday, Oct 22 – Monday, Oct 25.  Details here.