Tuesday, January 31, 2023

New book: The Sound of a Rainbow by Sharon Frayne

Happy New Year, Brian! 

I hope that 2023 is a good one for you.

I'm very happy to announce that Latitude 46 is releasing my new YA novel, The Sound of a Rainbow, this spring. The prize winning first draft of this book was written in 72 hours during the Muskoka Novel Marathon in 2020.

The novel follows the journey of failed teen pop singer Raven, whose life has been destroyed by vicious social media trolls. On the advice of a therapist, her divorcing parents send her to Rainbow Wings, an inclusive performing arts camp set on a remote island in Northern Ontario. Even the charms of the quirky staff and beautiful environment don't win Raven over, and she plots to run away. When she meets Ash, a younger teen with autism, she begins to develop empathy. Their impulsive decisions and actions lead them into a dangerous situation. Raven is forced to make choices that impact the future of the camp, and others she cares about.

I've attached the cover, and would be so grateful if you can pass on my information to your readership.

I'm thankful for the many helpful courses I've taken with you! It made a positive difference for me.

Best wishes,

Sharon Frayne


You can pre-order The Sound of a Rainbow here.

Save the dates July 14–17, 2023 for this year’s Muskoka Novel Writing Marathon – see here

For more information about Latitude 46 Publishing, see here.

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


Sunday, January 29, 2023

“Sanctuary” by Susan Bédard

“Teach me to read,” I begged my teacher mother. “

“Yeah, teach her,” dad said.

“No, she’s too young. She’ll be bored when school starts if she can read already.”

The highlight of each week in my young life was going to the public library with my mom and siblings. Usually, when others came to visit or we were away from home I would hide behind my parents or peer cautiously around a doorframe. Visits to the one-story brick building that housed the library were different. There were other people there but we all knew that this was a place of peace and quiet. Maybe that’s what made it a sanctuary for me. It was a far cry from the noisy confusion when hordes of relatives would periodically descend on our farm and much less confusing than trying to keep track of dad at the co-op or mom at the local department store.

In the library we left the real world outside to enter an enchanted world. Once the doors swished closed behind us the magic began. I tilted my head up to watch the dusty motes of sunlight stream through the window. It was set high above the bookshelves showcasing rows of books of all sizes and colours that my four-year-old eyes found miraculous. I crouched in a corner to peek more closely at the pictures and mysterious letters, their secret treasures igniting my imagination.

Picture books fascinated me. Giraffes and hippos in dusty savannahs contrasted with seals and polar bears on glaring ice packs. My hunger to learn to read grew. Chapter books with all those letters waited to be unravelled into words and sentences and stories of far-off places and adventures.

Every week we lugged piles of books to the front desk and plopped them in front of the librarian. She whipped open each cover, pulled out the card and stamped it with the due date. The smack and thump of the rubber stamp hitting the ink-soaked pad then the paper was the loudest sound in the building.

At home again, I pointed to the pictures and words as mom read to us from the library books. I desperately wanted to be able to read for myself.

Grade one finally arrived. Now I could learn to read. Another first grader Michael, and I walked the dirt road between fields and woods to get to the town school. It was fun to swing our lunch bags and poke sticks at the grasses waving along the path. Once we surprised a turkey hiding in the fencerow into frightening flight. Learning with others the same age proved tiring but fulfilling.

Two months later, without warning, I was uprooted from my grade one world in town and thrust into despair at the two-room school in the village. The noisy yellow bus now picked me up. I lost Michael. I lost my nature walks. I lost my sense of comfort and security. I cried. All morning, every morning in those first weeks, I cried. Labelled by teachers and students alike as a crybaby made me cry even more.

Gradually, the lure of learning to read began to win me over. I hunkered down at my desk and began to decipher the squiggles on pages into letters and words and sentences: 

See dog run. The dog chased the cat.

I had found my passion, the lens through which I could see and identify the world. I now knew how to read. There was no need to be continue to be teased by kids on the bus. There was certainly no need to go back to the two-room schoolhouse.

That afternoon I announced to my parents and siblings that I was done school because I could now read. My earnest statement did not meet with much success. They all just laughed. The next day, heartbroken, I was back in school.

Until grade three ended, the public library was my only library sanctuary. Books were available on shelves in the classrooms but once I had read them all, and I did, there was nothing else available. Grade four brought big changes. The two-room schoolhouse had been renovated to have classrooms for each grade up to grade six. Best of all, there was a library. My sanctuary space had expanded. I could safely hide between the stacks and find lots more to read during those increasingly boring classes. 

The teacher tried to pin the label “retarded” on me. Testing resulted in the diagnosis: “She’s reading at a grade twelve level. She’s just bored.” That year I began to fine-tune how to tune out lessons and classmates while reading a book tucked into the shelf under my desktop. I didn’t get caught most of the time.

By grade six I was scrunched down behind my desk, so bored with the lessons but continuously reading, reading, reading. My new name, bookworm, was given by teachers and students alike. It only increased my desire to burrow through written material of all kinds. I gobbled up books, magazines and newspapers, cereal boxes, encyclopedias and dictionaries.

I missed most of my own birthday party that year. Someone made the mistake of gifting a book to me before the party was over. I managed to distance myself from the rest of my guests at an outdoor skating party in February. Mom found me curled up in a nest of straw in a wooden calf hutch near the skating area, happily engrossed in the antics of the fictional characters of my new book while the real characters of my life laughed and slid all around me. Shamed into abandoning the gift to rejoin the party brought tears from me and knowing looks from the guests. Crybaby and bookworm.

I finished the book later that night. Sanctuary was between the pages.


Susan Bédard lives in Listowel, Ontario, with her husband and mom. Mom to three adult children and newly retired, she loves connecting with her first grandchild, reading, nature, travelling and exploring all forms of creative writing.

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

Thursday, January 26, 2023

New book: One Summer at Ril Lake by Dale Rutherford writing as Margery Reynolds

Hi, Brian: 

I am happy to announce the release of One Summer at Ril Lake, under my pen name Margery Reynolds. It is the first in my Muskoka Cottage Read Series and is something entirely new from the manuscripts I was working on in class. The lessons learned and knowledge gained were invaluable and apply to writing of any genre. And so, inspired by the atmosphere during visits to a cottage on Ril Lake, many trips to the Huntsville area and by your writing retreats at The Briars and Algonquin Park this novel falls into the light romance genre.

It was described in a review by author J. J. Richardson as a, “gentle love story about family dynamics, secrets kept and secrets revealed. The characters are likeable, the plot isn't rushed and there are a few twists to keep the reader guessing. Great debut for this author.”

Here is a short synopsis:

Dale aka Margery Reynolds

All Felicity Jefferies wants is a little serenity and some alone time at her cottage to regroup after her husband’s passing. But her son’s endless questions give her anything but what she went to Ril Lake to find. Instead, they force Felicity to delve into, and reveal, family secrets she hoped would never come to light. 

All Ben Pierce wants is to mend a wounded relationship with his estranged daughter, but she wants nothing to do with him and cannot forgive him for walking away over a decade ago.

Newly acquainted neighbours at cottages on Ril Lake, Felicity and Ben unpack the baggage of their respective past relationships, while kindling a new relationship of their own. Will this new and unexpected friendship stand the test of the final secret Felicity must reveal to her family and to Ben? A secret kept buried for more than twenty years that has the ability to either heal the past or tear apart the present. The future is anybody’s guess.

The book is available in e-book or paperback format on Amazon here.

One Spring at Ril Lake, the second in the series, is slated for a May release.

With appreciate and with gratitude,

Dale M. Rutherford

Aka Margery Reynolds

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


Monday, January 23, 2023

New YA novel: Missing by Susan Thomas

Dear Brian,

I've got a new YA Novel coming out on Evernight Teen on January 20.  It's the one called Missing that we worked on in your Creative Writing class last year.  It was wonderful having the thoughtful input of you and the group. So nice to have another book out there. l'm halfway through my third one already!

Many thanks to you and the crew!



Becky May goes missing on her sixteenth birthday and only her cousin Madison knows how and why. The police investigate – but only until the trail runs cold.

Madison hears her cousin’s been sighted, but Madison is so ridiculed on social media that she begins to doubt her own sanity. Her only offer of support is from her brother’s best friend, Jake Stewart. Madison is attracted to Jake but not sure she trusts him, so how much of what she knows can she reveal?

Forced to recognize that events from her past have come back to haunt her, Madison is faced with a terrifying question. Is Becky dead or alive? She and Jake put their own lives in danger in order to solve the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of Becky May.

Available from Evenight Teen here.

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


Sunday, January 22, 2023

Happy Lunar New Year!

May the Year of the Rabbit bring you good luck and good fortune!


Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Gong Hey Fat Choy!

(Mandarin and Cantonese, if you're wondering,
written with the same characters in both, I'm told.)

And to our Vietnamese friends, Happy Year of the Cat!


Chúc mng Năm Mi!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Online course: Writing Little Kid Lit, Jan 24 – March 21, with guest speakers Jennifer Mook-Sang and Erin Silver

Writing Little Kid Lit

~ Board Books, Picture Books, Chapter Books and Middle Grade Novels

Online: Tuesday afternoons, 1 – 3 p.m.
January 24 – March 21, 2023
Offered on Zoom and accessible from anywhere there's internet 

See other classes starting this winter here.

This course is for adults {or teens} interested in writing Picture Books, Chapter Books, or Middle Grade books. Accessible for beginners and meaty enough for advanced writers, we’ll focuss on helping you develop your own writing projects. Through lectures, in-class assignments, homework, and feedback on your writing, we’ll give you ins and outs of writing for younger readers and set you on course toward writing books kids will love and parents will buy.

We’ll have two published children’s authors as guest speakers:

Jennifer Mook-Sang is the author of two picture books and a middle grade novel. For this class, she’ll focus on what she’s learned about writing picture books (unlike other classes where she’s mostly talked about her journey as an author), and of course she’ll also be answering whatever questions participants have.

Jennifer grew up in Guyana and moved to Canada when she was fourteen. While reading bedtime stories to her two sons, she fell in love with picture books and decided to write one of her own. In one of Brian Henry's classes, she found the beginnings of a story.  

That story grew into the humorous middle-grade novel, Speechless, published by Scholastic Canada, and since translated into Portuguese for Brazil (Não Cale! Fale!) and Turkish (Bir Konuşabilse).

Speechless won the Surrey Schools Book of the Year Award, was shortlisted for many others, and was recommended by the Ontario Library Association, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, the CBC, and the TD Summer Reading Club. 

Jennifer has also published a picture book, Captain Monty Takes the Plungewith Kids Can Press. Captain Monty is the boldest, stinkiest pirate to sail the six or seven seas; in fact, he’s never had a bath. Naturally, the Junior Library Guild immediately selected him for its fall list of recommended books; it was short-listed for the Rainforest of Reading Award; and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre put it on its best books of the year list.

Jennifer’s next picture book, The Care and Keeping of Grandmas, is coming April 4 from Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada.

Erin Silver is a children’s author and freelance writer with nearly 20 years of professional industry experience. Her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Today's Parent, Chatelaine, and The Washington Post, among others.

Erin has five books out now: Just Watch Me (Common Deer Press), a middle grade novel about the perils of the online age; What Kids Did: Stories of Kindness and Invention in the Time of COVID-19 (Second Story Press), a nonfiction picture book about the amazing ways kids around the world helped during the pandemic; and Proud to Play (Lorimor), featuring outstanding Canadian LGBTQ+ athletes and allies who have made a difference.

Plus, she has two more books that came out in 2022: Sitting Shiva (Orca Books), a picture book about a child grieving his mother, and Rush Hour: Navigating Our Global Traffic Jam (Orca), a nonfiction book for kids 9–12. More books are on the way.

Erin has a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from King's College in Halifax, a postgraduate journalism degree from Ryerson University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. She's a member of IBBY, The Writers Union of Canada, CANSCAIP and SCBWI. Visit her at erinsilver.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.  Brian is the author of a children's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  (Tribute Publishing). 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).

Fee: $176.11 plus 13% hst = $199

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

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


Friday, January 20, 2023

“The Sculpture” by Jeff Heal


I was nine years old when my father and grandfather took me to Steam Era, a weekend show of old farm equipment and technologies that were primarily steam-driven.

I still remember the smell of wood burning, heating the water to a boil inside the tanks of these large machines to power the movement of the traction engines, later replaced by the modern tractor on the family farm.

But the one memory that still stands out today while the others are fading away is of a man striking a hot piece of steel on a large anvil, the sparks flying with every hammer blow.

He mesmerized me. This man shaped a piece of steel into a tool. This was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and I knew this was something I wanted to do.

Thirty years later in Sept 2012, my wife Colleen and I went to the International Plowing Match in Roseville, Ontario. While there, we came across a small booth in the middle of the field with two blacksmiths - one running the forge, the other working the steel on the anvil into the shape he wanted.

The smell of burning wood and coal, the pinging sound of the hammer striking hot steel on an anvil’s surface, transported me back to when I was nine years old.

I looked over at Colleen and noticed she was as focused as I was, watching the man work on the piece of hot steel.

“You like blacksmithing?” I asked.

Without taking her eyes off the blacksmith she said, “I’ve always wanted to try blacksmithing.”

We’d been married for twenty-three years and neither one of us knew the other wanted to try our hand at this trade.

The gentleman working on the anvil that day was Mick Smith.  He came up to us and introduced himself, then said, “I overheard you saying you were interested in trying blacksmithing,” and handed me his card for the Ontario Artisan Blacksmith Association.  He let us know that there was a meeting in a few weeks.  

We went, and after that first meeting we left as members.

From that point on we picked up tools and equipment of the trade from swap meets and flea markets around southern Ontario and started our journey in the blacksmithing hobby.

We received our first membership newsletter from the blacksmithing association. They were looking for volunteers to help forge a Love Lock sculpture in Fergus Ontario.  Fergus is blessed with bits of iron work around town. They have iron railings across bridges and iron works around businesses and homes in the town.

Locals had taken to snapping love locks on random pieces of ironwork-in imitation of Europe. In cities such as Paris, lovers write their initials on locks, snap the lock to the ironwork of a bridge railing, then toss the key in the river, to symbolize they’d be joined forever.

Fergus town council decided they liked this custom but asked the Blacksmiths Association to please build an appropriate sculpture in the park, for love-locking. We were there to oblige.

Colleen and I were both reluctant to volunteer due to our lack of experience compared to the other members of the club. But the other members who were arranging the event were happy we wanted to help, so we said yes and jumped in with both feet.

On a Saturday morning in August 2015, we loaded our equipment and supplies for the days demonstration of forging the Love Lock sculpture in Fergus Ontario.

It was a beautiful drive and as we arrived at the site in Fergus there were several blacksmiths already there getting set up. We set our equipment up nearest the road and got the coal heating up in our portable forge.

Our forge is equipped with a hand-cranked blower that forces air up through the opening in the base of the forge and into the burning coal, super-heating it. You place the metal into the coal, to bring it to the proper temperature so you can shape it on the anvil, but if you’re not careful you can overheat and melt the metal, making it no good for anything.

With anvil and hammer at the ready we all gathered around Mick (the gentleman who designed and set up the blacksmithing demonstration of the Love Lock sculpture.) Mick handed out assignments to all the Blacksmiths there, and as Colleen and I were the least experienced in the group we got one of the easier pieces to do, to our relief.

The sculpture would be a silhouette of a man and a woman facing each other holding a heart up between them with a gate just below. I expect the gate had some symbolism, but what struck me about design was that it resembled the ironwork of a bridge railing-the sort of thing you’d see in Paris decorated with love locks. 

The part of the silhouette we were assigned was the woman’s pony tail. It didn’t sound like much and I figured we would be done in under an hour and get on to the next piece. To my surprise it took us the whole day to complete, but we learned a lot.

Through out the day one of the master blacksmiths present, (named Larry) would go from anvil to anvil helping and teaching the younger blacksmiths new techniques to move the metal more efficiently.  The technique he was showing us was flattening, this gives the smooth finish on steel after it has been hammered into the shape you want.

 While teaching the technique, Larry explained, that at the beginning of his blacksmithing career back in the early 1900’s machine production of parts and hardware was new and was what everyone wanted, so the blacksmith and his trade was slowly being replaced. The blacksmith came up with ways to clean their pieces up so they looked like a machine produced the product and not hand made.

The product now a days is normally produced by machine so this flattening technique is rarely used by the artisan blacksmith anymore, because people want to see the hammer marks so they know it was hand made.

At the end of the day all pieces for the sculpture were completed and ready for Mick to take back to his shop in town and finish up the assembly. With assembly complete a few weeks later, Mick brought the sculpture back and mounted it on the base in James Square, in Fergus ready for the first love locks to be fastened to it.

It still feels like a dream being able to do what I watched being done at nine years old by a master blacksmith.

Every once in while I look out into the crowd when demonstrating at a show and see my nine-year-old self mesmerized watching a blacksmith move metal into whatever shape he wants.


Jeff Heal has been a diesel mechanic for over 33 years with pretty much all his hobbies leaning to the mechanical trade. He has been focusing more on blacksmithing for the past few years now and has seen some improvements in his steel shaping – as long as he can get the fire lit in the forge. He has been writing for some time now, what is new to him is trying to get it so more then just his eyes see it. Short stories and Poems have been his focus now he is diving into writing his first middle grade novel. 

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