Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Summer courses: Writing Personal Stories 101, Writing Little Kid Lit, and Intensive Creative Writing

“Writing Personal Stories 101” 

 ~ A class dedicated to the pleasures of writing your stories & insights

Online: Tuesday afternoons, 1 – 3 p.m.
July 2 – Aug 13, 2024
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're writing 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.

We’ll also have a published author as a guest speaker.

Fee: $212.39 plus 13% hst = $240

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

“Writing Little Kid Lit”

Board Books, Picture Books & Middle Grade Books

Online: Wednesday evenings, 7 – 9 p.m.
July 3 – Aug 14, 2024
Offered on Zoom and accessible from anywhere there's internet 

This course is for adults {or teens} interested in writing board books, picture books, Chapter Books, or Middle Grade books. This course is accessible for beginners and meaty enough for advanced writers. 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 your own books.

We’ll also have a published author as a guest speaker for this course.

Fee: $212.39 plus 13% hst = $240

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

“Intensive Creative Writing”

Offered online at 2 different times:

Tuesday evenings 6:30 – 9:00
July 2 – August 13, 2024 (extending to Aug 20 if it fills up).
First readings emailed June 25.


Wednesday afternoons, 12:30 – 3:00
July 3 – August 14, 2024 (extending to Aug 21 if it fills up).
First readings emailed June 26

Intensive Creative Writing isn't for beginners; it's for people who are working on their own writing projects. You’ll be asked to bring in several pieces of your writing for detailed feedback. 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: $247.79 + hst = $280

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, taught creative writing at Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan 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 has helped many of his students get published.  

Read reviews and other pieces about or inspired by Brian's writing courses, workshops, and retreats here (and scroll down).

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

Monday, April 29, 2024

Join us for a Fall Colours Writing Retreat at the Briars on Lake Simcoe

Fall Colours Writing Retreat

Friday, October 18 – Monday, October 21
The Briars Resort & Spa on Lake Simcoe
55 Hedge Road, Jackson’s Point, Ontario, Canada (Map here)

Give yourself a 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 Peacock House
The setting: Originally a Regency-style Manor House built by Captain William Bourchier in 1840, the estate was purchased in 1870 by Dr. Frank Sibbald, who added two wings to the manor house, a coach house, a brick stable and of course a peacock house, because where else are you going to keep your peacocks?

The Briars also has a storied literary history.  Humorist Stephen Leacock was a great friend of the Sibbalds, visited often, and is buried just down the road from the resort at the pretty St. George’s churchyard, as is author Mazo de la Roche. De la Roche’s Jalna series were worldwide bestsellers, making her one of Canada’s bestselling authors ever. Indeed, her books are available to this day from Dundurn Press.

Today, the Briars still offers the warmth of a country estate steeped in history while providing all the benefits of an extensive, modern lakeside resort.

Rates include accommodation. Each room has a king, queen or two twin beds, and an en-suite four-piece bathroom.

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 Spa treatments – but you might want to check those out (see here).

All activities included. When you’re not writing, or for spouses who accompany you, there is plenty to do. The resort has an indoor and outdoor pool, a well-equipped exercise room, and a games room with pool, shuffleboard, ping pong, and foosball. The beautiful Lake Simcoe setting offers idyllic opportunities for biking and hiking, with the resort featuring its own nature trails and with other trails three kilometers down the road at Sibbald Point Provincial Park. And of course, there are plenty of nooks around the resort that are ideal for reading, resting and unwinding.

Check-in on Friday is 4 p.m. Our first writing get-together will be at 5 p.m. On Monday, we'll have our last writing get-together at 10 a.m., ending at 11 a.m. Check out is at 12 noon. (though we may push the Monday schedule an hour later if the resort isn't full and they can accommodate a 1 p.m. check out) But once you’ve had lunch, don’t feel you have to rush off! You can stay for the rest of the day, enjoying the amenities of the resort. Participants are welcome to bring a non-participating significant other. 

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}.

Fee, including both the writing retreat and accommodation, meals, coffee & snack service, tips and all resort amenities, for all three nights: $1761.06 plus 13% hst.

Or if you're sharing a room with another participant in the writing retreat, the fee is $1,274.34 plus 13% hst each for all three nights 

Not included: alcoholic drinks (or any drinks bought at Drinkwaters Lounge), spa services, golf or other extras.

Bring a (non-participating) significant other along for the weekend to share your room for an additional $283.19 plus hst per night (includes accommodation, meals and all resort amenities, but not the writing part of the retreat). This is special reduced pricing offered by the Briars for conference participant spouses.

Book early – space is limited! So that we can maintain physical distancing, we'll have fewer people at the retreat than we’ve had in the before-times, so it will be a more intimate experience and participants will have more opportunity for one-on-one coaching with Brian. Full receipts issued.

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

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).

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.

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.

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 you need to let me know ASAP, so I can let the staff know about your needs.

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.

Is there cell phone reception and WIFI?

Alas, yes.

How about alcohol?

The resort serves alcohol with meals and has a licensed lounge called Drinkwaters. 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 (here) or a round of gold, though that’s extra, and you book these directly with the resort {not through Brian}.

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

If you want to share your room with a partner, they’re very welcome. Just let them 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: brianhenry@sympatico.ca 

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

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Independent Bookstore Day is April 27, but every day is a good day to visit a bookstore. Here are a few favourites....

Ben McNally Books, Toronto
Saturday, April 27, 2024 is Independent Bookstore Day. But the other 364 days of the year are also good times to go. Here's a few of the bookstores in Ontario:

A Different Drummer Books, Burlington

BOLTON: Forsters Book Garden


BRIGHTON: Lighthouse Books

BURLINGTON: A Different Drummer Books {which hosts many book launches}; 
By the Lake Books (A great used bookstore just around the corner from where I teach my in-person classes in Burlington. ~Brian) 

ELORA: Magic Pebble

GODERICH: Fincher's

Want some ideas on what books to buy? Check out this post and this one, and for more books and 70+ other gifts for writers, check out this post.  

GUELPH: BookShelf

HALIBURTON: Master's Bookstore

Indigo/Chapters has branches all over the place. {Yes, I know it's not an independent, but it's not Amazon, either.)


KINGSTON: Novel Idea

Bookshelf, Guelph

MISSISSAUGA: The Book Wardrobe 



ORILLIA: Manticore Books

PARRY SOUND:Parry Sound Books

PETEROROUGH: Hunter Street Books

Novel Idea, Kingston

ST. CATHARINES: Someday Books

UXBRIDGE: Blue Heron Books

WINDSOR: Biblioasis

Looking for gifts for writers? See here {and scroll down}

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