Thursday, June 30, 2022

Last call for Online Intensive Creative Writing classes Wednesday afternoons and Thursday mornings, July – August

Intensive Creative Writing

 ~ Grow as a writer

Online ~ 2 different sessions: 
(On Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)

Wednesday afternoons, 2:00 – 4:30 p.m. 
July 6 – August 17 (or to Aug 24 if the class is full)

and

Thursday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
July 7 – August 18  (or to Aug 25 if the class is full)

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 four pieces of your writing for detailed feedback, including two 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: $211.50 + hst = $239

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 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, June 29, 2022

“What to REALLY Expect: Emily’s Guide to Parenting” by Lisa Bailey

Once you have children you may never sleep again. THAT was a truth they leave out of the parenting manuals, Emily thought. Probably out of fear that no one would ever sign up to have kids again, and the human population would dwindle to extinction. Emily looked around the room at the younger women at the baby shower  – young, beautiful, eager mama’s to be or mama wannabes, most of whom had no clue what they were getting into. 

“Okay, everyone, as you know, Hannah is due any day now, and she’s going to need all your helpful advice!” chirped Katie, Hannah’s energetic friend.

Clearly, she didn’t have kids yet – waaaayyy too bubbly and cheerful. Give her a few more years and sleepless nights and we’ll see how perky she is, Emily thought as she yawned.

Emily started to write out her thoughts on sleeping on the “Advice for new parents” card. Her friend Sophie looked over her shoulder.

“You can’t tell them that! They’ll want to put the kid up for adoption before it’s even born.”

“Well, it’s true though.” Emily replied.

“Of course it’s true,” Sophie agreed. “But you don’t need to be the one to tell them.”

Emily thought back to all the stages of parenting she had gone through so far. She estimated she hadn’t slept through the night in 20 years, six months and three days; the exact amount of time since Maisy was born.

“Wouldn’t you rather know what you’re getting into? Remember when Maisy was a baby? She had colic. She would scream for hours. Usually at night. I started to relate to parents who throw their kids out the window.” 

“Annnnnd, your point is? Wait! THAT’S a truth no one admits – sometimes you will feel like throwing your kid out the window! Write that down – no wait –I’m using that one,”  declared Sophie, as she added, “And it’s okay to feel that way, as long as you don’t actually do it.“

“Well, it got easier for a bit, once I gave up the pressure of breast feeding and switched to formula” remembered Emily. “Just don’t tell the ‘breast is best’ mafia about that.” 

“Totally,”  Agreed Sophie. “I never understood why women turn against each other when it comes to parenting – shouldn’t we just want what’s best for the baby?” Everyone’s got an opinion and they think theirs is the right one.”

“More excellent advice. Everyone will try to give you advice,” Emily said. “They’ll even give you advice cards. Honestly though, it’s better if you just do what works for you and your baby, right? OOH – that needs to be written down too.”

Emily thought back to the early years. Things actually settled for a bit, and then … the toddler stage. Just when she thought she might sleep again the kid started to get up on her own.

Emily sighed. “Once Maisy was out of her crib she was always up and running around early in the morning.”

Sophie laughed, “Oh yes – all kids do that once they’re out from behind bars. Ha, ha. Too bad there aren’t cribs for all ages.”

“And why is it once they get up, they always, ALWAYS go to Mom’s side of the bed? There were two of us – go wake Daddy up! But NOOO – it’s always, ‘Mommy – are you awake?’  ‘Mommy I had a bad dream.’  ‘Mommy I can’t sleep.’ I ended up letting them crawl into bed with me, because I knew If I got up, I’d never get back to sleep.”

“Same,” confessed Sophie, “But usually I regretted it. I would wake up with an elbow in my neck, being punched in the head or freezing without any blankets. Jack NEVER stayed still. I did get smarter when Sara came along though – she would always call ‘Ma-Ma, Ma-MAAA.’ from the crib, but if I waited long enough, she would switch to ‘Pa-pa PAPA.’ Then I would just poke Sam and tell him she’s calling for him - ha-ha.”

“HEY! that’s more good advice,” chuckled Emily. “Write that down too. If you wait long enough, they will call for Dad”

“Okay, so far we have: don’t throw the baby out the window, everyone thinks they are an expert on babies (but do what works for you), and if you wait long enough, the kid will call for Dad.  What about the tween years?”

“Right. If you thought you couldn’t sleep with babies and toddlers, just wait for the tweens. We always seemed to have children who did not belong to us sleeping over. And the noise! They girls would be up all night giggling or freaking over the littlest thing. I remember one time Maisy let out a blood curdling scream. We thought something terrible had happened. It did, according to Maisy and her friends. One of those many-legged, creepy, speedy, centipedes dared to join their party. Seriously. You would have thought someone died for the all the hysteria over that bug.”

“Boys are no better,” argued Sophie. “Jack and friends laughed for HOURS one night sitting on whoopee cushions and seeing who could make the best fart noises. But all that all seems innocent enough in hindsight’” sighed Sophie. “Then came the teen years.”

“God help all parents of teens,” shuddered Emily. “I used to say, for teens, moms are nothing but a chauffer, cook, and ABM.”

“You forgot to mention emotional punching bag,” added Sophie.

“Oh yeah! There’s some good advice to come from that thought,” Emily agreed. “How should we phrase it?’

“Hmmm. How about something like, ‘Your teen will tell you she hates you. Maybe more than once. This is normal. A good sign actually’.”

“Yes! It means you set boundaries and had rules. Rules like, ‘No sleepovers on a school night, or no you can’t stay out till 2 am.’ And that you voiced unpopular opinions, like ‘No, I DON’T care if ALLLLL your friends are allowed to.’”

Sophie and Emily dissolved into a giggling fit.

“These girls have no idea what they are getting into do they?” said Sophie

“Maybe some things are just better to figure out as you go along?” wondered Emily. “Or MAYBE – we should rewrite the parenting guide. What to Actually Expect. With a warning – You may never sleep again!”

“We’ll make millions!” Sophie predicted.

“See,” Emily said. “Kids are definitely worth it.”

Smiling, they submitted their advice cards into the box at the shower.

***

Lisa Bailey is a busy mom, wife and healthcare worker from Burlington, Ontario. In her spare time (which currently amounts to about 3 hours, 2 minutes and 30 seconds a week), she enjoys baking, golfing, reading and writing. She frequently daydreams about winning the lottery so that she can retire and do more of the things she loves.

***

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

Monday, June 27, 2022

In-person: Extreme Creative Writing course, Thursday afternoons, Sept 29 – Dec 1 in Burlington

Extreme Creative Writing

 ~ For more experienced writers 

In-person: Thursday afternoons, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m
Sept 29 – Dec 1, 2022, and adding another week or two if the course fills up {no class Oct 13}

St. Elizabeth’s Anglican Church, 5324 Bromley Road, Burlington, Ontario {Map here
Note: Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, it's possible this class could be forced online.

Extreme Creative Writing is for experienced writers who have been writing for a while or who have done courses 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, we’ll have discussions on topics of interest to the class. 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. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Four online courses starting soon: Exploring Creative Writing, Writing Personal Stories, and Intensive Creative Writing at two different times

Attention teens: Join us this summer for

    ~ Exploring Creative Writing

Online: Wednesday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12 noon
July 13 – August 17, 2022 (And we'll go to Aug 24 if the class fills up)
Offered on Zoom and accessible anywhere there's internet 

This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment We’ll explore writing short stories and writing true stories, writing in first person and in third person, writing technique and getting creative, getting down your very best 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 setting, where your words will grow and flower.

Fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Writing Personal Stories 

 ~ Eight weeks of writing and sharing

Online: Thursday afternoons, 2 – 4 p.m.
July 14 – August 18, 2022 (We'll go to Aug 25 if the class fills up.)
Offered on Zoom and accessible from anywhere there's internet 

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.

With guest speaker Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt. Details here.

Fee: $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Intensive Creative Writing

 ~ Grow as a writer

Online ~ 2 different sessions: 
(On Zoom and available wherever there's Internet)

Wednesday afternoons, 2:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Classes run July 6 – Aug 17 (or to Aug 24 if the class is full)

and

Thursday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Classes run July 7 – Aug 18 (or to Aug 25 if the class is full)

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 four pieces of your writing for detailed feedback, including two 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: $211.50 + hst = $239

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.

Friday, June 24, 2022

"Bookworm" by Barbara Stokes


My sister Mary was (and still is) the bookworm in our family. Two years older than I am, she went through books like sand through a sieve. Her memory is prodigious, so she can recall a character, a bit of dialogue or plot point from a book we read when we were kids. Reading was as natural as breathing or eating.

In most families, stories are told about the kids and their funny sayings. In my family, one was repeated many times. This story comes from when I was not yet a reader, maybe four years old. We were all in the living room at our cottage; a place that never had a television set, a place for reading. My parents and my sister’s noses were all buried in their books.

“It’s not fair,” I declared to the silent room.

A long pause. Nobody wanted to stop reading. After a minute or two, my mother looked up.

“What’s not fair, sweetheart?”

“Everybody can read, except for me and Putzi.”

Putzi was our dog. I had no idea if she could read or not, but she couldn’t argue the point.

“Nobody wants to play with me.”

I didn’t want to die of boredom. Learning to read seemed a much more sensible alternative. I just didn't know how this reading thing worked. Until I did. 

I don’t even recall learning to read. It was as if one day it all made sense, all the letters had their innate character and when you lined them up in different ways they told you a story. Learning the correct pronunciations was sometimes a challenge. When I explained to my family that someone was a fanatic – they all laughed – it’s not fanatic but fanatic. English is hard and I feel sympathy for people learning it for the first time.

Once I learned, as we all know from experience, the world was an open book. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) Everything my sister read, I read. Often we’d read together. Lying on the twin beds in our room we would devour books and sometimes read aloud in order to make fun of the characters and make up our own stories about them.

Swallows and Amazons, Treasure Island, Ivanhoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Nancy Drew, Five Children and It, The Railway Children, the Narnia books many times over … so many I can’t possibly pick a favourite, although I still love “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge. All her books were wonderful and the titles themselves were brilliant and seductive; The Scent of Water, Pilgrim’s Inn, Linnets and Valerians. You could not resist taking them off the shelf. Now that I’ve learned publishers and editors choose titles, I don’t want to believe that was true back then. I want to give Elizabeth all the credit.

Our comprehensive reading list included the greats and not so greats, such as the Famous Five adventure series, which we read as comedy and set each other off in gales of giggles over Julian and his strong jaw.

Our local library was the Yorkville Branch, a handsome sandstone building with impressive stone steps that led to heavy wooden double doors. It sits next door to the historic Yorkville fire station a half block west of Yonge Street. It is the oldest library in the City of Toronto, built in 1907, thanks to the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie. With its classic columns and weighty presence, it speaks with authority of the importance of knowledge and the value of the world it holds inside.

Growing up three blocks away, visits to the library were part of our regular schedule. Being part of the younger cohort, it was likely that the older girls (who were the majority on the street) brought us along with them as soon as they were allowed to cross Yonge Street on their own. Many of the girls had their first jobs at the library, and I’m not sure why my sister didn’t get a job there. She haunted the place, she should have been paid for it.

I can still conjure up the breathlessness when we climbed those steep steps, hand on the round metal railing, pushed through the heavy doors and filed into the welcoming silence. Inside was the magic key of the Dewey Decimal system and a world cloaked in the scent of dust, paper and bindings. Light streamed in through the tall windows. It was warm in winter and cool in summer.

Now I have a digital reader and download books. It is convenient, but not magical.

***

Barbara Stokes enjoys bringing memories to the surface and polishing them. Barbara writes short essays and poems and has had It’s Not Over Yet and Stones and Clouds published on the Quick Brown Fox blog. Barbara lives in Burlington, Ontario and is working on a crime thriller loosely based on something that really happened to someone in Saskatchewan.

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

New Canadian Literary Agency Ballpoint Literary seeks fiction and nonfiction

Ballpoint Literary Agency

Toronto, Canada

https://www.ballpoint.agency/

Note: Don't ever miss what’s happening with Quick Brown Fox. If you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale to:  brianhenry@sympatico.ca   ~Brian

The Ballpoint Agency is a new, “artist-centred literary agency with many enthusiasms, but mostly books.” They currently serve a small roster of just 8 writers – so they certainly need authors .

The agency has made three sales so far: a memoir, Things I Came Here With by Chris MacDonald to ECW Press in Toronto, a middle grade novel to Orca n Victoria (which has been optioned by Banger Films), and a memoir to Random House Canada. They are also shopping around three novels (one of which is fantasy) and have two nonfiction projects in the works.

The three founders have 75 years of professional experience between them, but note that none of it is in the book-publishing side of the industry:

Dave Bidini is the only person to have been nominated for a Gemini, Genie, and Juno as well as CBC's "Canada Reads." A founding member of Rheostatics, he has written thirteen nonfiction books, including On a Cold RoadTropic of HockeyAround the World in 57 1/2 Gigs, and Home and Away

He is a three-time National magazine award-winner, and his play, The Five Hole Stories, was staged by One Yellow Rabbit Performance Company, touring the country in 2008. He last book was Keon and Me and he is the publisher of the West End Phoenix community newspaper in Toronto. He’s spent 25 years writing books, earning valuable insight into the industry from an artist’s perspective. 

Query Dave at: dave@ballpoint.agency

Put “Query” in the subject line of your email and include a 2-page maximum excerpt of your project in the body of your email.

Warren Sheffer has 20 years as a lawyer, representing authors and performers and specializing in intellectual property law. He’s the Secretary of the Board of Toronto’s West End Phoenix.

Query Warren at: warren@ballpoint.agency

Put “Query” in the subject line of your email and include a 2-page maximum excerpt of your project in the body of your email.

Janet (on right) with The Billie Hollies

Janet Morassutti has been both rhythm guitarist for Randwiches and occasional co-writer with Rheostatics – she narrated the band’s 2000 album, “The Story of Harmelodia.” She has copy-edited a wide range of editorial titles, including the National Post and Maclean’s.

Altogether, she has 30 years of publishing industry experience, most recently as a founder and managing editor of Toronto’s West End Phoenix community newspaper.

Query Janet at: janet@ballpoint.agency

Put “Query” in the subject line of your email and include a 2-page maximum excerpt of your project in the body of your email.

Full submissions guidelines here.

Kids Can Press senior editor
Patricia Ocampo

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

Online: How to Write Great Dialogue, Sunday, June 26. Details here.

In-Person: Writing for Children and for Young Adults, with Kids Can Press senior editor Patricia Ocampo, Saturday, July 16 Details here.

Online: Writing and Revising, Sunday, August 14. Details here.

***

Weekly classes: {See all writing classes offered this summer here.}

Online: Exploring Creative Writing, Wednesday mornings, 10 a.m. – 12 noon; July 6 – August 24. Details here.

Online: Writing Personal Stories, Thursday afternoons, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m., July 7 – Aug 25. Details here

Online: Intensive Creative Writing, Wednesday afternoons, 2:00 – 4:30 p.m. First reading sent June 27; classes July 6 – August 17  (or to Aug 24 if the class is full). Details here.

Online: Intensive Creative Writing, Thursday mornings, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. First readings sent June 28; classes July 7 – Aug 18  (or to Aug 25 if the class is full). Details here.

For more information or to register for any class, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca 

Writing Retreats:

Summer in Algonquin: Writing Retreat at Arowhon Pines Resort, July 8 – July 11, 2022. Join us for a weekend of creativity and fine dining in the midst of the Algonquin wilderness. Details here. Waiting list only.

The Briars

Lake Simcoe Writing Retreat at The Briars resort, Friday, Sept 16 – Monday Sept 19, 2022. Enjoy a weekend of writing at an elegant southern Ontario resort. Details here.

Muskoka Writing Retreat at Sherwood Inn, Friday, Oct 14 – Monday Oct 17, 2022. Details here. Reserve early before it fills up! 

To reserve a spot or for more details about any course, workshop or retreat, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

***

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