Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Excerpt from Peacekeeper’s Daughter by Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt

Peacekeeper’s Daughter is Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt’s memoir of when, as a 12-year-old child, her family was stationed in Israel and Lebanon in 1982-1983, just following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and in the midst of Lebanese Civil War. It’s a coming-of-age story, as well as an exploration of family dynamics, the shattering effects of violence and war – and the power of memory itself to reconcile us to our past selves, to the extraordinary places we have been and sights we have seen.

It will be published September 30 by Thistledown Press. Pre-order your copy now from the publisher here, Chapters here, or order it through your local bookstore here.

Excerpt – Beirut, 1983.

At school that Monday, I sat in the library after lunch. My grade seven class was in the basement for band practice, but I had a free period. Since I’d only started at the school in January and didn’t play a band instrument, I was exempted from music class. I spent my free time on the top floor in the reading lounge, next to Mr. Thierry’s classroom. After that, I would study advanced French while my class did beginner, baby French in our regular classroom downstairs. At dinner time at home, I took perverse pleasure in imitating the way they counted to ten with their thick accents.

Suddenly, there was a deafening boom, a sound louder than I’d ever heard before. Everything shook. The room went black. Books fell off the shelves. The chairs next to me rolled over. A window cracked and split, sending shards flying.

After the huge sound of the blast, there was a thick quiet. I sat alone in the darkened library, assessing the damage. What just happened? Was it an earthquake? What should I do?

A light shone around me. “C’est l’heure du fran├žais,” Monsieur Thierry announced. I stood up, eyes blinking, and followed his flashlight beam into the classroom adjacent to the library. For the next hour, we conjugated French verbs by candlelight. “Que je puisse, que tu puisses.” Monsieur Thierry’s lips pushed forward when he spoke, as if all the words were teetering on the edge of his mouth, ready to dribble out. I thought of Richie and how puisse sounded like the English word kiss.

Whether Monsieur Thierry had forgotten about the blast that had just shaken our school or decided that his curriculum was more important, we carried on covering the board with our white-chalked declensions made visible by the candles on the teacher’s desk and the shafts of faint afternoon light coming in from the upper casement windows.

We were a small group, our numbers at the American Community School greatly reduced by both the civil war and the war with Israel. As tensions in the city escalated, most diplomats packed up their families and returned to their own countries. The only new influx of expats to the city were fifteen hundred U.S. Marines sent by President Reagan to man the five U.S. warships anchored a few kilometres offshore.

Tanya Bellehumer-Allatt by Louise Abbott

After Advanced French, I joined my class on the first floor for grade seven English. Mr. Turner examined us with his one good eye, while his glass eye stared straight ahead. Its fixed look unnerved me. It was like staring at a camera. I imagined it photographing my secret thoughts—a bionic eye with special powers.

“A bomb has exploded nearby, at the American Embassy,” Mr. Turner informed the class once we had taken our seats. “Fortunately for us, our school remains unscathed.” He paused, but only for a breath. “Please take out your copies of Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. We will read aloud, beginning at Chapter Three.”

My hands picked up the paperback and flipped mechanically to the correct page while my mind wrestled to process this new information. I raised my hand. “How close did we come to being hit?”

 Mr. Turner’s glass eye stared at a distant spot behind my head while his good eye looked out the window. “We’ll find out soon enough,” he said.

It was a relief to get lost in the story of a faraway place and forget about what was going on in the city around us.

 “Be careful on the way home,” Mr. Turner said before dismissing the class for the day. “See you tomorrow.”

Our regular route through the campus was blocked off by red tape marked DANGER. We were shepherded into two lines and made to show our identity cards and hand our schoolbags over for inspection by armed French military police at three different makeshift checkpoints inside the gate, before finally being given permission to exit onto the street. Sirens blared nearby, and traffic on the main street was barred. The empty street was an eerie sight compared to the usual noisy tangle of cars and pedestrians.

My brother walked a few paces ahead of me. “Did you hear it?” I asked him. I watched the back of his head nod yes.

“I was in art,” he mumbled. It was hard to hear from behind. I got as close to him as I could, but the passage was only wide enough to walk single file.

“We left class and went there.” He stepped onto the street to avoid a pile of garbage on the sidewalk. In the absence of waste removal services, the citizens of Beirut piled their garbage in huge stinking mounds on the sidewalk. Those nearest to the beach threw it into the Mediterranean. After almost ten years of anarchy and civil war, the city resembled a massive dump.

“What do you mean? Where did you go?” Our school never went on field trips of any kind; it was too dangerous to leave the gated compound.

“Mrs. Gunthrey wanted to see what had happened. Her husband works at the embassy, and she needed to make sure he was all right. So she took us there.”

“Was he okay?” I kicked at an empty sardine can, shuffling it back and forth between my feet like a soccer ball.

“Took a while, but we found him. He was all white. Covered in dust. He thought his arm might be broken. He was holding onto a woman whose face was cut up. Her eyes were full of blood.”

After that, my brother was quiet for a long time. I kept my head down and followed his footsteps exactly, walking in the street to sidestep more garbage and a car parked on the sidewalk, also a common occurrence in this city without traffic lights or police surveillance.

“I saw a car wrapped around a telephone pole,” my brother said in a voice so low I thought maybe I hadn’t heard him properly.

 “What? How?”

“It’s the force of the blast,” he said. “It picks up anything in its way.”


Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt’s stories, poems and essays have been published in Best Canadian Essays 2019 and Best Canadian Essays 2015The Antigonish Review, Grain, EVENT, Prairie Fire, Malahat ReviewsubTerrain, carte blanche, Room, Crux, The Centrifugal EyeQarrtsiluni, The Occupy Anthology and Water Lines: New Writing from the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Tanya has been nominated for a National Magazine Award as well as a Western Magazine Award and received a Canada Council Grant for her manuscript of Peacekeeper’s Daughter. She holds an MA from McGill and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC.

Read more about Tanya and her writing here.

Pre-order your copy of Peacekeeper’s Daughter from the publisher, Thistedown Press here, from Chapters here, or order it through your local bookstore here.

For information about submitting to Thistledown Press, see here.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Five agents at Greene & Heaton seek new authors

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson
represented by Greene & Heaton

Greene & Heaton

37 Goldhawk Road
London, UK
W12 8QQ


Twitter: @GreeneandHeaton

Note: If you’re not yet on my newsletter list, send me an email, including your locale to:  brianhenry@sympatico.ca ~Brian

Founded in 1963, Greene & Heaton is a literary and media agency with a diverse range of clients. The agency works closely with their clients, where necessary or desired, to polish their proposals, edit their texts, and to give advice about positioning in the fast-changing publishing landscape. They also handle all manner of activities from straightforward book representation and contract negotiation to film and TV adaptations.

Five of their agents are currently looking for new authors, including three relatively new agents – and like all new agents, they especially need authors:

Imogen Morrell joined Greene & Heaton in 2017. As well as handling the agency’s contracts, she is actively building a list of fiction and non-fiction authors.

She is particularly interested in representing upmarket and literary fiction with an edge – a tight plot, clever writing and even an element of suspense. Think SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid, FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters, or FATES AND FURIES by Lauren Groff.

In nonfiction, she’s looking for proposals that find unexpected ways to talk about interesting things (architecture, food, nature, politics, history, identity) from academics, critics and journalists who are writing their specialist subject for trade publication.

She also accepts submissions for narrative non-fiction, essay writing and food writing.

See more of Imogen is looking for here.

Query Imogen at: submissions@greeneheaton.co.uk

Include her name in the subject line. Attach the first three chapters or about 50 pages, plus a synopsis.

Laura Williams joined Greene & Heaton as an agent in 2018. She worked at Peters Fraser and Dunlop from 2011, after completing a degree in Classics at Oxford.

She is actively building a fiction list and a small non-fiction list. She is currently looking for literary fiction, edgy commercial fiction, psychological thrillers and high-concept contemporary young adult.

She’s also seeking narrative nonfiction of all types.

Her taste is quite dark; she loves gothic, ghost stories, horror and anything sinister. She also loves books that make her cry, from big love stories to intense family dramas.

I’d love to find more in the upmarket/reading group space for commercial fiction – either something funny or moving, or a bit of both!,” says Laurs. “I’m a huge fan of Emma Jane Unsworth, who brilliantly combines the grittiness and complexity of city living with real warmth and humour.

See more of Laura is looking for here.

Query Imogen at: submissions@greeneheaton.co.uk

Include her name in the subject line. Attach the first three chapters or about 50 pages, plus a synopsis.

Holly Faulks joined Greene & Heaton in 2015 after graduating and is actively building a list of fiction and nonfiction clients. In nonfiction she’s looking for writing on current affairs, language, lifestyle and popular science as well as memoir. She’s also looking for literary and upmarket commercial fiction.

She works across both the literary and media sides of the agency so is always keen to hear from people who have ideas that might extend beyond the written word. In all genres she is particularly keen to hear from under-represented writers and to champion stories that may have been overlooked.

You can follow her on twitter: @hollycfaulks

See more of Holly is looking for here.

Query Holly at: submissions@greeneheaton.co.uk

Include her name in the subject line. Attach the first three chapters or about 50 pages, plus a synopsis.

Antony Topping joined the agency in 1995, having begun his professional career working as a fiction buyer for one of the major chain bookstores. He studied English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. Antony`s interests span the full breadth of the agency’s activities, from literary representation to TV to brand consultation. 

His list of writing clients is split evenly between fiction and nonfiction and  includes historical thriller writers, contemporary and historical literary novelists, science writers, food writers, and humorists. His clients include Suzannah Dunn, Jeremy Duns, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (and River Cottage), Andrew Holmes, William Leith, Leon Restaurants, James McGee, Thomasina Miers (Wahaca Restaurants), the Royal Society, CJ Sansom, and Marcus du Sautoy.

Are you writing something brilliant – brilliantly timely, or odd, or clever, or original, or moving — in an area where I might have room? I’d like to see more contemporary fiction, both literary and popular – in the latter category I’m still looking for an “up lit” author. And I always want to see contemporary crime novels and thrillers.

See more of Anthony is looking for here.

Query Imogen at: submissions@greeneheaton.co.uk

Include her name in the subject line. Attach the first three chapters or about 50 pages, plus a synopsis.

Judith Murray joined the agency in 1995. She studied at Wadham College, Oxford and has a First in English Literature. She has worked as an editor at a number of UK publishing houses and as a talent scout for translation publishers. Her authors have been shortlisted for or have won major literary prizes, including the Man Booker, the Man Booker International, the Women’s, the Wellcome Trust and the Costa prizes.

Judith loves literary fiction and well-written genre fiction, including thrillers, crime, historical novels and women’s fiction; and literary nonfiction including history, biography, memoirs, cookery and travel writing.

See more of Judith is looking for here.

Query Judith at: submissions@greeneheaton.co.uk

Include her name in the subject line. Attach the first three chapters or about 50 pages, plus a synopsis.

Full agency guidelines here.

Anne Shone

If you’re interested in meeting an agent and in getting published, don’t miss our online How to Get Published workshop with literary agent Olga Filina of 5 Otter Literary, Saturday, Sept 25. Details here.

If you’re especially interested in writing for children or for young adults, don’t miss out Kid Lit workshop, Saturday, Oct 2, with guest Anne Shone, executive editor, Scholastic Books (see here). 

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

Jackson's Point: Writing Retreat at The Briars Resort and Spa on Lake Simcoe.  Stretch out your summer for an extra weekend and join us for a writers’ getaway at this modern lakeside resort built around a historic country estate. Friday, Sept 10 – Monday, Sept 13. 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.  – still room in this class

Online: Intensive Creative Writing, a challenging course to help you grow as a writer.
Offered online at 3 different times: 
Tuesday evenings, Sept 14 – Dec 7, 2021 – still room in this session;  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.

          Details of all upcoming classes here.


Online: Writing for Children and for Young Adults, Saturday, Oct 2, with guest Anne Shone, executive editor, Scholastic Books (see here). 

Online: How to Write Great Characters, Saturday, Oct 16. 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 hereNote: This retreat is now full. Next fall, we’ll offer two retreats at Sherwood to accommodate everyone. In the meanwhile ... 

Neighbourhood fox at Arowhon Pines Resort

We've arranged an end of summer retreat Sept 10 – Sept 13 at The Briars on Lake Simcoe (see here) and we'll also offer an end of  winter retreat at the Briars if people are interested. Finally, we'll have our usual spring retreat at Arowhon Pines in Algonquin Park, May 27 – May 30, 2022. See details or our 2020 retreat at Arowhon retreat here. If you’re interested in any of these upcoming retreats, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Online Intensive Creative Writing class ~ offered at 3 different times

Intensive Creative Writing

12 weeks of growth as a writer

3 different sessions online: 
(On Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)

Tuesday evenings, 6:30 – 8:45
Sept 14 – Dec 7, 2021 {no class Oct 26}
 – still room in this session

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: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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.