Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Muskoka Authors Association presents: The Publishing Extravaganza Event

The Publishing Extravaganza Event

Saturday, June 22
9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Doors open at 8:30 am
Bracebridge United Church
46 Dominion Street, Bracebridge, Ontario (Map here)
Enter by door on the northside driveway. 

Muskoka Authors Association, is hosting an all-day one-of-a-kind Publishing Extravaganza Event. This event will be one of the largest gatherings of professionals related to the publishing industry ever held in Muskoka.

No matter the stage of your writing project, this is a must-attend event where you will hear from industry specialists covering all aspects of the publishing journey.

Publishers will walk you through the publication process (whether you’re looking to publish with a traditional publisher or self-publish) and Literary agents will share the secrets on how to attract an agent and the benefits of being represented by an agency.

Also included are special presentations on everything from writing that critical query letter (presented by Brian Henry), to the ins and outs of accounting for writers, to marketing your book for maximum impact and more.

There will also be an opportunity for a limited number of participants to have a one-on-one evaluation of 5 pages of their manuscript by a literary agent or publisher. This is a priceless opportunity to avoid the slush pile and get in front of a literary agent or publisher to pitch your work and get vital industry feedback.

These spots are offered on a first come first serve basis at a nominal additional charge. You will be advised if your submission will be evaluated and how to submit the fee.

Your registration includes lunch (although we can’t guarantee that special dietary needs can be met.  

You won’t want to miss this event if you’re serious about having your work published and out in the world.

 MAA Members: $35, Non-Members: $80

Manuscript Evaluation Fee: $40

Register through eventbrite here.

Note: If you’re looking to get your manuscript published – or you’re just curious about how it all works – you may also be interested in “How to Get Published,” with guest speaker Gordon Warnock, founding partner and literary agent with Fuse Literary, Sunday, July 21, online. Details here

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

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Sparkles and Karim by Dave Moores, reviewed by Michael Joll

(Sparkles and Karim by Dave Moores, 261 pages MiddleroadPublishers. Available from Amazon here.

Buckle up!

Iraq, 2014. Outside the wire, there are three types of people: bag guys, worse guys and victims, doing whatever it takes to survive in a country dominated by ISIS, the dregs of the Muslim world.

It’s a time and a place where you can trust no one unless you have a death wish, where money can buy you a “Get out of jail free” card, but only for so long.

Repeat: Trust no one. If you can buy someone, so can others with a different, competing agenda. Loyalty comes with common blood ahead of everything, but don’t count on it.

Now inject USAF Major Michelle “Sparkles” Wilson and Iraq-born, California-raised Karim Hamid into this human-made cesspool of corruption, betrayal and hatred. Faced with a dishonourable discharge for disobeying orders, a court martial and a jail sentence in an armed forces prison for women, Sparkles chooses to accept a near-impossible CIA mission deep inside Iraq as the lesser of two evils. Her chances of success, which will include her survival? Not good.

Regular army soldier Karim Hamid, recruited by the CIA to penetrate ISIS in Iraq, has a different motive – to rescue Miriam, the girl he left behind as a child in ISIS-controlled Mosul. He, too, feels pressured into accepting the CIA assignment as his best chance of finding her.

Competing agendas and incompatible motives, to say nothing of diametrically opposite personalities, do not make for a cohesive team. Karim’s an immature, impulsive daredevil; Sparkles is a controlling, by-the-book perfectionist. Matches and gasoline somehow have to get along without killing each other.

Text to Karim: Earn my trust, hotshot.

Text to Sparkles: Stop acting like you own the show.

Ahead of them is the imperative to find a stolen consignment of radioactive cesium sufficient to make a dirty bomb that could change the outcome of the ISIS-fuelled insurrection. The CIA wants it.

Author Dave Moores

The man who stole it intends to sell it to buy his way out of Iraq. ISIS wants in on the Weapons of Mass Destruction business. And no one in Washington will want to admit they were careless in relinquishing control of the material or complicity in the implementation or threat of the use of a dirty bomb against the civilian population of their ally.

Behind them is a financially troubled Texas oil company looking to make a killing on energy futures. A dirty bomb exploding in Iraq’s biggest oilfield, rendering it uninhabitable for years, will do just that.

Running parallel is the CIA duo with their own interests and the Pentagon with theirs.

Sparkes and Karim takes the reader on a wild ride through Iraq, mainly in Toyota Hiluxes, the mode of transport favoured by ISIS. Arabic-speaking, Quran-quoting, nominally Christian Karim has spent months inside ISIS and passes himself off easily (sometimes with the help of some serious graft) as an ISIS fighter.

To form a team, if less than a partnership, to survive and give the mission any chance of succeeding, broomstick-up-her-ass, Air Force issue, Sparkles swallows her pride and masquerades as his wife.

Moores’ strength is his ability to bring the reader along with Sparkles and Karim on their stomach-turning rollercoaster ride through atrocities and the ever-present threat of capture, torture, and death. He places the reader firmly behind the wheel of the Hilux as Sparkles and Karnm dodge gunfire, strafing, and bombing.

His vivid descriptions of the towns, cities, and countryside inject life into what would be mere backdrops in the hands of a less gifted writer. His minor characters, never intrusive but always convincing, bring a sense of ever-present menace to the narrative.

The story unfolds over about a week, so there is little time for character development or epiphanies on the road to Damascus. Instead, Moores offers plot twists, hairpin bends, box canyons, and serious, bloody mayhem. Prepare to be blindsided by the unexpected and have your senses assaulted by the visceral cruelty and depravity of what passed for life in Iraq under ISIS in 2014.

Sparkles and Karim provides a terrific and often terrifying read.  

Those of a nervous disposition might prefer Jane Austen. 


Sparkles and Karim by Dave Moores is available at Amazon here.

Michael Joll is a novelist and short story writer with four published novels and two collections of short stories to his credit. His latest novel is “Hacker.” He lives in Brampton with his wife of nearly fifty-five years and an elderly springer spaniel, a retired member of the Toronto Police bomb squad.

Note: Quick Brown Fox welcomes your reviews and your pieces about reading and writing, the writing life, and other literary-themed pieces. See other book reviews here (and scroll down) and pieces about writing here (and scroll down).

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

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The International Court of Justice rules the hostages should rot ... and that Israel may try to save them

On May 24, the International Court of Justice did or did not give its blessing to Israel’s military operation in Rafah. The court asked Israel to …

Immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. 

Showing its usual bias, international media took this as meaning the court wants Israel to stop its military action in Rafah. Not so, according to four of the five judges who opted to explain the phrasing. ... Read the rest here.

Note: If politics isn’t your thing (and who could blame you), please know that I do write about other things. For example, read my account of my first stay at Arowhon Pines in Algonquin Park here or of my first sport's injury here

It’s just that of late, I’ve been pre-occupied with politics because Israel is at war and because Hamas’s atrocities on October 7 unleashed a wave of Jew-hatred around the world – and even here in Canada. See here.

Monday, June 3, 2024

You're invited to "How to Get Published," an online workshop with literary agent Gordon Warnock

The Off Season by Amber Cowie
represented by Fuse Literary

How to Get Published

An editor & a literary agent tell all

Sunday, July 21, 2024
1:15 – 5:00 p.m. Toronto time
Online and accessible wherever there's Internet

If you've ever dreamed of becoming a published author, this workshop is for you. We’ll focus on the process of submitting to an agent or publisher, and show you exactly how to write a query letter that will get a “yes.” Bring all your questions. Come and get ready to be published!

Special Option: Participants are invited to prepare a draft of a query letter you might use to interest an agent or publisher in your book. You don't need to prepare anything, but if you like, email me a draft of your query prior to our workshop. Gordon and I will critique several queries, perhaps half a dozen, so everyone can see what works, what doesn’t and how to improve your query. Do remember that agents come to these events wanting to hear what you’ve got. ~Brian

Guest speaker Gordon Warnock is a founding partner at Fuse Literary, a full-service literary agency based in the Silicon Valley, with offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Dallas, and Halifax. Fuse has seven agents, four of whom are currently accepting queries.

Gordon represents New York Times bestsellers and debut authors alike, seeking to amplify historically marginalized voices and grow sustainable, long-term writing careers with an eye on actively creating change in the publishing industry and the culture as a whole. 

He's interested in both fiction and nonfiction for adults, young adults, and middle grade.  He’s looking for fresh concepts that excite him before he even starts reading and tension-filled prose that won’t let him stop. 

His fiction list focuses on high-concept suspense, book club women’s fiction, and literary fiction for adults as well as graphic novels for adults, teens, and tweens. He’s interested in a variety of nonfiction and wants projects in which the book is part of something larger, of which you are the expert, the one best fit to bring it to the page.

Workshop leader 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 Windsor to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get their first book published and launch their careers as authors.  

See reviews & reflections on Brian's classes, workshops, and retreats here.

Fee: $45.13 + 13% hst = $51 paid in advance by mail or Interac

To reserve a spot now, email:

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

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Both agents at the Helen Hellen Agency are looking for authors

The Helen Heller Agency

216 Heath Street West, #4 
Toronto, ON  M5P 1N7   

The Helen Heller Agency has maintained a global reputation for success for more than thirty years, with authors regularly appearing at the top of international bestseller lists.

The titles they represent include multiple New York Times, UK Sunday Times, and Globe and Mail bestsellers and many Richard and Judy selections, among other outlets. The agency represents major best sellers in numerous languages, and many of their titles have been optioned for film and TV. Authors include Linwood Barclay, Tracy Sierra, and Shari Lapena.

The agency is a mother – daughter team. Both are open to queries:

Helen Heller worked in senior positions at various publishers before opening her agency. Widely recognized as a top tier agent for thrillers and major front-list fiction, Helen is always open to books that meet the sweet spot of commercially successful literary fiction, and is of the strong belief that popular fiction can have serious literary quality. 

Helen loves to work with new voices, and in addition to thrillers she is always ready to look at historical, domestic, and contemporary novels with a strong story arc.

Helen does not include high fantasy, science fiction, dystopian or juvenile fiction. She is, however, happy to look at a good ghost story!

Helen is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives.

Follow her on Twitter here.

Query Helen at:

Include a synopsis and the first three chapters of your work.

Sarah Heller has developed a list of New York Times and international bestsellers. She specializes in establishing new authors, with a focus on front list fiction, and places an emphasis on working editorially with her authors. Sarah is open to all genres if there is a strong narrative and a relatable voice, and is highly experienced in working with authors at all stages of their career. 

Prior to joining the agency, Sarah worked in advertising design and copywriting; she also founded and continues to run Traverse Press, a digital Press division of the Agency.

Sarah is open to all genres if there is a strong narrative and relatable voice, and is highly experienced in working with authors at all stages of their careers.

Query Sarah at:

Include a synopsis and the first three chapters of your work.

Full submission guidelines here.

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

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.

Friday, May 31, 2024

You're invited to the book launch for We Were the Bullfighters by Marianne K. Miller

Hi, Brian.

Everyone’s invited to my book launch on June 12th at Massey College. Ben McNally Books will be selling We Were The Bullfighters at the launch, but you can also pre-order  from them (here) and they will deliver your book to the launch.

Please let me know if you plan to come. There will be wine and hors d'oevres and a slightly nervous author.


P.S. Besides the book launch on June 12, this Saturday, June 1, there’s a book signing at the Indigo at the Cataraqui Centre in Kingston, 12–3 p.m. 

But if you can’t make the launch, you can order your copy from Ben McNally Books in Toronto here or from Chapters/Indigo here.

See more new books by your fellow authors – and invites to their book launches – here (and scroll down).

We Were the Bullfighters
by Marianne K. Miller

Sent to cover bank robber Red Ryan’s daring prison break, a young Ernest Hemingway becomes fascinated with the convict.

In 1923, Ernest Hemingway, struggling with the responsibilities of marriage and unexpected fatherhood, has just made a big mistake. He decided that for the baby’s first year he would interrupt his fledgling writing career in Paris and move his family to North America. No longer a freelancer, he now has a gruelling job with a difficult boss, as a staff reporter for the Toronto Daily Star. On his first day, already feeling hemmed in by circumstances, he's sent to cover a prison break at Kingston Pen.

The escaped convicts, led by notorious bank robber Norman “Red” Ryan, are on the run, making their way from the bush north of Kingston, to the streets of Toronto, and then through towns and cities across the United States. Their crimes become more brazen, their lifestyle increasingly glamorous. Growing more and more preoccupied with Ryan and his willingness to risk everything to be free, Hemingway ponders duty, freedom, and what stops a man from pursuing his dreams.

What People Are Saying...


Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife: 

“In her debut novel, Marianne K. Miller renders a little-explored time in Hemingway’s life with the accurate eye of the Hemingway scholar she happens to be, but also with boldness and keen imagination. I turned every page of We Were the Bullfighters with great pleasure and admiration.”

 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of Wait Softly Brother:

“Intriguing. Hardboiled. Cinematic. We Were the Bullfighters is a truly fine romp of a novel!”

 Lee Gowan, author of The Beautiful Place:

“A window into Canada's role in the making of Ernest Hemingway in clear, clean prose.”        

Kim Echlin, author of Speak, Silence:

“In this wonderful story, the young Ernest Hemingway is a Toronto Daily Star reporter who feels a strange connection to legendary bank robber, Red Ryan. Miller’s expertise on Hemingway and her penetrating observations about our responsibilities to our talents makes this a must-read historical fiction in which “artists are like convicts” and people choose what they will sacrifice for freedom.”

J.R. McConvey, author of Different Beasts:            

“Marianne Miller brings a deceptively light touch to this evocative and finely researched story of a colourful moment in the life of a burgeoning literary giant. With efficient language that Hemingway would have liked, she gives us a rollicking tale of escaped convicts on the run from Kingston Pen, and the young Toronto crime reporter in pursuit of a story and a literary path. We Were the Bullfighters wonderfully captures the character of Hemingway and the atmosphere of Toronto in the 1920s.” 

Barbara Fradkin, author of the Inspector Green and Amanda Doucette mysteries:

“Skillfully capturing the wild, rum-running 1920s, Marianne Miller creates a fascinating, fictionalized tale of two men fighting to break free; one a young Hemingway dreaming of his first great novel and the other, a daring bank robber on the run from Kingston Penitentiary.”

Note: For information about submitting to Dundurn Press (Marianne’s publisher), see here.

See our upcoming weekly writing classes, one-day workshops, and four-day writing retreats here