Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Aftermath of Loss: A Guidebook for Widows by Sharon Lennox and Deborah Marsh, reviewed by Gail M Murray

Self-published, 110 pages, available here and here

This slim volume is an informative and practical guide through the maze of widowhood. It offers sensible suggestions for managing the many issues ahead: finance, wills, funerals and the reams of paperwork while providing coping skills for daily living.

Authors Sharon Lennox and Deborah Marsh, both widows, met at the Writers Community of Durham Region. Realizing the need for practical support and finding none at the time of their loss, they pooled their resources to create this guide.

I was surprised to discover that 56 is the average age for widowhood.

The language is simple. Perhaps that is because grief can render one numb, like walking through heavy fog. They validate feelings of shock, pain, sadness, then offer hope. You don’t have to walk this path alone. Ask for help. Friends and relatives are eager to help, but often they don’t know how. Rely on who is there for you.

They offer concrete strategies. Of the strategies set out I find the following most helpful:
Be kind. Expect kindness. Smile. It helps the healing.Get out. Get physical – walk, exercise, take a yoga class.

They pepper their book with inspirational sayings and poetry:
Miss me a little…..but not for longAnd not with your head bowed love.Remember the love that we once sharedMiss me but let me go
They surmise that you don’t get over the loss; you get through it. “Sometime during each day, try to forget what is gone (lost), appreciate what beauty remains and look forward to easier days to come.”

The ultimate sadness will lift. Remember the love you shared and go on to re-discover you. Be open to new friends, new experiences. The future is yours.

Note: The ladies are also available for presentations. I heard them speak at Don Mills Library in Toronto. ~Gail

Note that Quick Brown Fox always welcomes your book reviews (or any kind of review). You can read an essay about how to write a book review here and see guidelines about submitting reviews of any kind to Quick Brown Fox here

QBF also welcomes essays about a favourite book or your experience of reading or writing. Read a few essays on the blog to get a taste of what other writers have done (see here and scroll down), write your own, and submit it to me at: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Gail M. Murray seeks to capture the essence of the moment; her writing is a response to her natural and emotional environment. Her poems have been published in Blank Spaces, Wordscape, Arborealis and on CommuterLit.com. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Trellis, Heartbeats, Renaissance, NOW Magazine, Blank Spaces, Our Canada and More of Our Canada.

See Brian Henry’s schedule hereincluding writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How to Write Great Dialogue, Saturday, Feb 11, in Windsor

How to Write Great Dialogue
Sunday, February 11, 2018
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Includes lunch!)
Windsor, Ontario. Location to be announced

Accessible to beginners and meaty enough for experienced writers, this workshop will show you how to use dialogue to make your stories more dynamic and dramatic. Whether you’re writing fiction or memoir, you need to be able to write great dialogue that both sounds natural and packs dramatic punch, and you need to know how to mix your dialogue and narrative so that your characters come alive. Come to this workshop and learn both the basics and the best tricks of the trade.

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 Sarnia to St. John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.

Fee: $65 (Registration includes lunch)

To reserve a spot now, email: pamelajeangoldstein@gmail.com

And mail a cheque to:
Windsor International Writers
c/o Goldstein Debiase Law Firm
475 Devonshire Rd.
Windsor, ON  N8Y215

Or, soon, you’ll be able to register on the Windsor International Writers website here  

 See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Paradise for the Soul: Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat, Paradise Island, Bahamas, by Kyle Williams Gonsalves


In the mid-60s, there was a swami convention in the Bahamas attended by swamis from all over the world.  A wealthy Bahamian mother begged Swami Vishnudevananda to help her addicted daughter get off drugs and get her life back on track.  He agreed and took the daughter back to his yoga centre in Quebec to teach her his yogic way of life.  The following year at the next convention, to thank Swami Vishnudevananda for taking her daughter under his wing and successfully helping her return to a clean and sober life, the mother offered the swami her parents’ abandoned property and home for 100 years, rent free.  Her wish was that Swamiji build an ashram, teach his yoga and help others find their way.

Today fifty years later, the Sivananda Ashram on Paradise Island is flourishing, growing, teaching and most importantly, helping others find their way.  Their mission is to share peace, health, and joy through yoga.  This particular location is the most traditionally Indian of the nine Sivananda ashrams worldwide, with a tropical heaven-on-earth setting.  The yoga practice is based on the Hindu faith teachings, a religion you are born to, not one you can convert to.  There is such an ease for all guests around that, perhaps the only downside is that you may leave wishing that you could convert.  It certainly crossed my mind. 

By the time you step in the ashram water taxi to the island, you already feel like you are on holidays.  The warm, dazzling sunlight bounces between the heavenly turquoise water of Nassau Bay and the puff ball clouds floating in a sea of azure blue sky.  

Six or seven enormous docked cruise ships provide an imposing back drop to harbor life as they patiently wait for their passengers to return.  For those of us vertically challenged folks, the step down to the bobbing taxi when the tide is low can feel like quite a free fall, but rest assured there are helping hands to make the journey safe. 

After a two minute zoom across Nassau Bay, you are struck by two thoughts.  First, you must have somehow proceeded to the wrong gate at the airport and have landed in India.  When your eyes take in the bright, vibrant colours on the dock, the welcoming arch, and the waterfront yoga platform you know you are far from home and indeed somewhere special.  

The second thought is for the immediate feeling of inclusiveness and welcome for all who come to this paradise. Both an exquisite lotus-shaped sign and peaceful green-rimmed pond at the entrance to the ashram are full of symbols or statues of gods and saints worshipped by many world religions.  For those of us on a return trip to the ashram, it simply feels like coming home. 

The ashram stretches its five and a half acres of lush tropical gardens from Nassau Bay on one end and the Caribbean turquoise of the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  The soft pristine white sandy beach beckons when you have a moment to dip your toes or take a stroll down the beach.  Worn foot paths between buildings have been paved in recent years but they still retain their lush dense charm.  

Gardens appear wildly full of native plants yet manicured at the same time.  They edge every pathway, making you feel you are always connected to this sanctuary of peace.   While the original family home has been renovated over the years to expand the kitchen and divide original quarters into guest rooms, there has been an explosion of accommodation builds which melt seamlessly into the tropical setting.

Accommodations are simple and clean, in line with yogic living.  The number of choices has expanded over the years.  From an eight-foot square piece of ground to pitch your own tent to a luxury beachfront suite with private bath, there is a room for every budget.  There are three two-floor tent condos with 32 tents per condo.  These 10-foot rooms are thoughtfully appointed but this author found the nocturnal noises from other guests disturbed her piece of mind and a good night sleep.  From tin cans being used as porta-potties, tent zippers going up and down for bathroom visits, to departing guests packing at all hours of the night, one thing was clear; next time, private room. 

Indeed, the many private and semi-private rooms are much quieter and warmer in the February chill with more comfortable beds.  Most accommodations include a shared bath, either in a building or rows of outdoor shower and toilet stalls standing back to back.  Even for a particular guest like myself, the setup somehow felt normal, they are decently clean, you work out a low traffic time to suit you and have your flip flops available for any shower visit. 

The vegetarian meals are good and there’s plenty of food to eat.  Fresh homemade bread, fresh herbal teas, homemade granola all made a great addition to the menu.  Responding to feedback from their guests in 2015, the ashram tripled the food budget and hired new chefs.  Now the food is absolutely fabulous!  Tastier salad dressings, more creative main dishes, a real treat for your taste buds, whether you’re a practicing vegetarian or not.

The ashram provides a complete immersion into their classical yoga tradition and yogic lifestyle, with a daily schedule that includes two meditations (6am and 8pm), pranayama (yogic breathing practices), asana (yoga postures), and education.  They host hundreds of courses, trainings, talks, performances, and special events each year with teachers highly regarded within the Sivananda family, as well as other guest teachers, presenters, and performers.  

There is a Yoga Teachers Training Course at the ashram which is an intense month long, offered eight to ten times a year and to date has graduated more than 26,000 certified yoga teachers.  The core staff is a group of residents, swamis and swamis-in-training who have devoted themselves to a spiritual path, living, practicing, and working together to run the ashram and promote peace in the world through their philosophy and practice of yoga.  It is so much more than a yoga centre.

Whether you spend a few days, a week or more at the ashram, it is truly a vacation for your soul.  Some guests come by themselves, some with a friend or partner.  There are those who come together with a group of friends.  Many guests have made an ashram visit an annual event. 

No matter the number of people you travel with, everyone experiences their own unique spiritual journey.  Often times you come away with knowledge or enlightenment you didn’t even realize you were looking for…. the courage to make a change in your life, an aspiration to take what you’ve learned and create a more peaceful life back home, a vision to start something new.   

There are plenty of spaces and places to be alone and absorb the journey if needed.  Having a private room all to yourself is a welcome gift at the end of a long, full day with others. 

When the courses or special events headline famous guests like Deepak Chopra or Krishna Das, the ashram is fully booked and the energy goes from peaceful haven to electric spiritual joy.  Both energy levels are equally fun to experience.  Because there are no restrictions to choosing the dates of your stay, you are free to choose the exact number of days that completely suits your energetic needs.  Some might prefer a quieter time in the schedule to visit the ashram and some are keen to attend a big event, it’s up to you.

Having visited the ashram two years in a row, I thought it was time to give it a break and experience something new.  I was wrong.  This year I’ve missed the peace, the me-time, the chanting, the food, the yoga, the kindness of like-minded people, the walking sunrise beach mediation that leaves you floating on air and the unique fragrance of the place, a blend of incense, fresh sea air, tropical plants, sunshine  and a blend of spices you can’t put your finger on.  Most of all I missed the spiritual journey my soul would surely have been on.  That enlightenment stays with you long after you get the sand washed off your yoga mat. 

Kyle Williams Gonsalves is a perky, bubbly, happy soul with a vision to become a writer.  She loves life after 50, is devoted to her spiritual path and embracing the wisdom of her years. Kyle lives in Burlington with her husband Mark and is dedicated to her dream job of mom to their two entertaining, loveable teens. 

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Strategies for Getting Published, for writers who want to become published authors, Saturday, December 2, Ryerson University, Toronto

From the Horse’s Mouth
 strategies for getting published
Saturday, December 2
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Ryerson University, Room TRS1-073
Ted Rogers School of Management, 7th floor 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, Ontario (Map here)

From the Horse’s Mouth is a round table discussion with three members of the publishing community, moderated by writing instructor, writer and editor Brian Henry. Following the presenters' introductory remarks, discussion will be opened up to the floor to address the concerns and questions of those aspiring writers present, both of fiction and nonfiction, interested in improving their chances of getting published. Questions addressed will include: What are the editors looking for?

Our panel:

Stacey Donaghy is the lead agent with Donaghy Literary Group.  Donaghy Literary  has four agents to choose from: Stacey Donaghy, Valerie Noble, Sue Miller, and Amanda Ayers Barnett.  Representing New York Times, USA Today, Amazon and international bestselling authors, they’re focused on commercial fiction and are always interested in new and upcoming talented writers. Donaghy Literary Group agents represent a full spectrum of genres and age categories.
Stacey Donaghy began her career with an agency in New York, before opening her own agency in Canada. Asked what manuscripts she’d like to get right now, Stacey said, “I’d love to see more diverse and #ownvoice stories.” More generally, Stacey is seeking Adult, and Young Adult fiction. Specifically, she’s looking for romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and thriller/suspense  (think Gone Girl, Girl on the Train and The Couple Next Door).  In young adult she is open to most areas, and is particularly fond of
contemporary YA.


Patricia Ocampo joined Simon & Schuster Canada as Managing Editor in 2015. She was also named Children’s Book Editor in 2016. She is a past president of the Canadian division of the International Board on Books for Young People and a former literary agent.
Patricia is currently accepting agented submissions of early readers, middle-grade fiction, young adult fiction, and parenting books.

Douglas Richmond is an editor at House of Anansi Press. He previously held editorial positions at University of Toronto Press and HarperCollins Canada, where he worked on a diverse list of bestselling and award-winning titles ranging from literary and commercial fiction to memoir, sports, and narrative nonfiction. Current authors include Nicole Lundrigan, Jonathan Garfinkel, Nick Mount, Deon Meyer, Melanie Raabe, Liam McIlvanney, Stefan Ahnhem, and Scott Thornley, among others.
Douglas actively acquires upmarket commercial fiction, crime/psychological thrillers, memoir, pop culture, and cookbooks.

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.
Note: See reviews of Brian’s weekly writing classes and Saturday workshops here (and scroll down).

Fee: $121.51 (including HST)

Register online with Ryerson here.
Or reserve your spot by emailing me at: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
And on December 2, bring a cheque made out to Ryerson University for $121.51 (No cash and absolutely no credit cards, please)

See Brian’s complete current schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

“Tap Shoes” by Paula Aicklen


Tap dancing lessons were on the bucket list I kept in my brain. Not one to have actually written a bucket list, I was also not one that you’d ever imagine dancing on a stage. But musicals and choreography have always been a love of mine.  Think Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in old musicals. Happy, upbeat and silly – a perfect antidote to life’s daily ups and downs.

The past two years, having been rather bumpy and somewhat painful, inclined me to dust off my tap shoes and return to dance class last September.

My class consisted of a friendly group of mostly extroverted and lifelong tap-dancing women.  Our teacher was fun, mischievous and able to encourage a middle-aged woman at the back of the class whose paradiddles were not quite para-diddle-ing.

Through the fall and winter, Monday nights found my brain and toes struggling to keep up, to shuffle and tap at the right times, sometimes meeting with success but often just providing me with sore muscles and a laugh at my lack of talent.

Come March it was time to learn recital routines for the annual show. This was typically my time to exit from class, stage right. The thought of dancing in a show for all to see,  in a garish costume, to music too fast for my feet, struck terror in the pit of my stomach.  However, this year the troupe was short of dancers and they pleaded with me to stay and to dance – albeit in the last row, right corner, a filler of sorts. This was peer pressure at its best, or worst, depending on how you view things.  I was in!

Two evenings a week, we tore through step after fast step to a song I really could not bear.  After class, “River Deep, Mountain High” would play over and over in my mind as I fell exhausted into bed. My daughter’s “Celine” impression kept me seeing the humour in it, but oh, to sleep without that soundtrack stuck on repeat.

In tandem (pardon the pun), that spring time marked a very difficult journey for a dear friend and his family. My husband and I had stepped in to help, in any little way that we could, as Larry struggled valiantly with his Gord Downie type brain tumour. 

Larry’s ability to speak had become very limited, his principal way of conversing being with a beautiful smile and a thumb’s up. He and his family were a sight to behold – the efforts made, the choreographing of his every movement from arm chair to car for a drive, to wheelchair, to bed.  A beautiful dance of love and care, each and every day.

June arrived and with it my ever growing anxiety.  With each rehearsal and costume fitting, I asked myself, What was I thinking to sign up for this?

Living between these two worlds of bright lights and loud music, juxtaposed against diminishing life was like being suspended in an alternate universe. There were meals to be made, pep talks and hugs to give, tears to be shared. It felt surreal.

Show week finally arrived. Dress rehearsals, sound checks, final touches all complete. I silently worried now, not so much about making a fool of myself, but more, I worried about Larry. He had been moved to hospice the first day of show rehearsals.

Each day that week as I showed up to the theatre, I felt a bit lighter, distracted from the sad reality that existed outside of the dance show world. I muddled my way through the nights, costume fitted, dramatic stage make up applied, toes tapping.

Friday arrived, a big night for the show.  It was an exquisite day, the kind one associates with the month of June. Bright sunlight, budding gardens – all the promise of summer ahead. I decided to take a quick swim before leaving for the performance, pausing to take in the beauty of the moment.  A bright red cardinal alighted on the pool’s edge, and for a fleeting moment I wondered if it was a sign, if Larry was okay.   A cardinal is meant to be a good sign, wasn’t it?

I jumped out of the pool, dressed, grabbed my costume bag and my phone, calling out to my husband that I was leaving, was on my way.


Midway out the door, I saw that I had missed a text. From my very dear friend, it simply read, “Larry is gone.”

Gone? I thought Gone where? He was in hospice, how could he be gone? Then it dawned on me. My heart felt as though it stopped. I called out to my husband.

What was I to do? I wanted to run to our friends but knew this was their private time, a time to be together in their grief as a family.

Meanhwile, in my alternative universe, the show clock was ticking loudly inside my head. I made a quick decision, jumped in my car, body trembling, and drove to the theatre.  Backstage, everything was bustling, teeming with life, music, and colourful dancers everywhere.

I found my group. I didn’t say a word other than hello, fearful that I wouldn’t be able to keep it together. I smiled, lined up for group photos, sharing nervous glances with my fellow dancers. We entered the dark and mysterious world that is backstage. My heart was racing more than usual as I struggled to keep my tears at bay.

I thought of Larry, wondering what his advice to me would be. A man small in stature but large in presence, Larry had had a successful life in every way. A committed community builder, he’d made many an appearance on stage. Not a grandstanding man; rather, a measured, intelligent man.

Our music was cued, the first beats of the “Celine loop” started up. It was time to perform. I took a deep breath, looked up and silently vowed that this was for Larry. Miraculously, I danced the whole way through, smiling, not missing a beat as images of Larry happily smiling kept me on time and focused. Suddenly, it was over, the audience applauding generously.  We took a final bow and ran from the stage as we had rehearsed.

In the darkness that constitutes the back stage, I blew a teary kiss heavenward. “Thanks Larry,” I breathed. “See you on the other side.”

My tap shoes and I went home.

Paula Aicklen is a budding writer who engages in many creative ventures and has always had a love for the written word. Paula works in Oakville as a design consultant and floral designer and hopes to mesh her writing with these pursuits.

 See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

“In her eyes” by Rebecca McTavish


Heather knew she was in trouble when the water turned to glass and she was still only half way across the bay. She was racing the sun to the horizon but her shoulders ached with each stroke. Without her glasses, she felt acutely vulnerable. Her nearsightedness blurred the oranges and reds of the fall foliage lighting the shore ablaze.  
A late afternoon swim had seemed like a great idea in light of the unseasonably warm temperatures. She needed to stop hearing the gunshot and seeing his bloody eye in an endless loop.
Earlier, while gardening, the rustle of pine needles had alerted Heather to an unexpected companion. Looking up from her bed of hydrangeas, she had found a young buck watching her, not 20 feet away.  She struggled to disentangle the image; parts were all wrong. The buck’s early-budding antlers were caught in the hammock, so tightly twisted that the hammock resembled a clothesline. Though the deer sat on his haunches, his back leg stuck out at an unnatural angle.
As she approached, she could see that his left eye was bloodshot, a window to his pain. She sensed his desperation and stopped short of the hammock unsure of how long the buck had been there and how his fight-or-flight instinct might manifest. Watching him, a rind of sadness settled at the pit of her stomach. He was a beautiful animal, unaware of the human implement that had stood in his path. Heather, his inadvertent hunter, had set the snare. She felt his powerlessness, and her own, as she went to the cottage to call for help.
She swam faster, hoping to outpace her memories. While she glided with her left arm, she turned her head, sipping air from the corner of her mouth. Her right arm posed to strike.  
Zach, a representative of the nearby wolf centre had driven up the driveway in a compact European style pick-up, followed by O’Brien, a police officer, in his cruiser. Zach was tall, edging on 6’5, in his late 20’s with a dark beard. O’Brien was middle-aged and balding, his uniform neatly pressed, hands on his hips. Both had a gentle confidence to them that denoted years of experience. 
The two men followed Heather down to the hammock. The deer was as still as when she had left him, though he had managed to reorient himself 180 degrees. His fractured leg now shielded underneath his body. He could have passed for dead, save for the gentle swaying of the hammock in time with his breath.
In the water, Heather tried to level her breath, to keep her strokes even.
“Stand up-a-ways, please,” said O’Brien, “In case the bullet ricochets.” Zach and Heather obliged. O’Brien held his pistol aloft, steady, aiming between the buck’s antlers. Heather braced herself. O’Brien fired.
The deer’s body went limp; his left eye had rolled back into his head. Only the red was visible, an unblinking siren. Zach and O’Brien chatted amicably as O’Brien held the antlers and Zach cut-away the threads of the hammock. O’ Brien shifted the antlers from left to right, though the deer’s head remained still. “This ol’ boy had a lot of fight in him,” said O’Brien. “You can see here that the scalp has been torn from the skull.” He repeated the gruesome action of wiggling the antlers. “Must have ripped it off when he tried to free himself!”
Heather’s eyes expanded to contain her shock. O’Brien scrambled to assuage the situation. “Now we did the right thing,” he said. “This guy may even have been struck by a car, and wandered here in delusion. We’ve seen that before.”
“You’ve seen other deer get trapped in hammocks?” Heather asked.
“Well, no, but certainly a lot end up on the side of the road.” O’Brien looked down as a mark of punctuation, putting an end to the conversation. Heather appreciated his sentiment, though she doubted the buck had tussled with a car. His hide was unmarred.
Within minutes Zach had finished cutting the deer’s antlers loose. “Ready, on my count. One, two, three,” he said. Zach and O’Brien each hoisted an antler and started dragging the 200-pound carcass up the gravel path towards the truck, a trickle of blood left in their wake. Soon the buck would be fed to the wolves. His hooves made sickening clicks of protest as the two men climbed the flagstone steps.
The familiar drone of a motor brought Heather back to the open lake. She had misjudged how much daylight was left and cursed herself for being so irresponsible. At this point she would be invisible to boats passing by. She shuddered, envisioning a propeller tear through flesh. Heather slowed her front crawl and scanned the lake’s surface. 
The drone grew louder, but she did not see any boats. Heather followed the sound and looked up. There, above her, making a beeline in her direction was a float plane. It was coming for her, the fronts of its pontoons like beady eyes staring her down. She inhaled as much air as her fear-constricted lungs would allow. Then she dove, deep into the cold waters. 


The darkness was disorienting. She swam and swam, the adrenaline supplanting her need for oxygen. She felt like she had been submerged for minutes, hours even. Whatever light had been in the sky didn't follow her into the depths. Terrified that she was swimming in the wrong direction, deeper into the abyss, Heather fought her impulses and simply let herself float. Her natural buoyancy brought her to the surface. It was pitch black, save for the twinkling lights of the cottage, beckoning her home. Water streamed down her face; tears of relief, she thought.
Heather was confused to see that the plane had already vanished. The lake had repaired its glass ceiling.
When she emerged from the shower, Heather was cloaked in steam. She cleared a section of the mirror with her forearm. Through the haze her reflection stared back at her, she gasped. Her left eye stood stark red against her garish complexion. She leaned in. Every blood vessel had released its wares into her eye, like a poppy cultivated by the underwater pressure. A cold chill knotted her spine. She tried to forget, still, the plane looming overhead flashed through her mind. Her recollection was embodied as a full body shiver that she could not shake.
As the wee hours of the morning crawled closer, Heather let the coals burn down. Her unease had not subsided and she hoped that sleep would offer some refuge. The lone candle flickered in the great room, ready to be blown out, but Heather found she had no breath. Instead, drops from her sopping wet hair extinguished the flame. With the fire’s exit, Heather’s senses were heightened. A rhythmic creaking drew her attention to the window. Cupping her hands to combat the glare, Heather looked out onto the lawn. 
There, regal in the moonlight, was her buck. His red eye honed-in on hers, his back leg jutted out bearing no weight, a clean bullet wound oozed between his antlers. Heather was filled with a familiar sinking feeling at the sight of him, like she had already sunk.

Rebecca McTavish  is a young professional, currently living in Mississauga, Ontario. She has started writing in her spare time to explore her interests in authoring different types of fiction. This is Rebecca’s first short story. 


See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, November 17, 2017

How to Build Your Story: Plotting Novels & Writing Short Stories, Saturday, Nov 25, in Burlington, with guest author Hannah McKinnon

How to Build Your Story
Plotting novels & Writing short stories
Saturday, November 25, 2017
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Burlington Central Library, Centennial Hall, 2331 New Street, Burlington, Ontario (Map here)

This workshop will show you how writers plot a novel and will give you the best tips on writing short stories. We’ll also look at where to get your stories published and how to win contests. Best yet, you’ll see how to apply the story-building techniques you’ve learned to your own writing.

Guest speaker Hannah McKinnon, the author of Time After Time (published by HarperCollins in Britain), a novel about love, loss and second chances that’s full of humour. Her second and third books have been acquired by MIRA (a North American imprint owned by HarperCollins). The first of these, The Neighbors, a novel about the implosion of two families, is scheduled for March 2018, and her third book a year later. 

When she’s not writing novels for adults, Hannah’s three boys give her plenty of material for children’s books. You can read a review of Time After Time hereAt the workshop, Hannah will be speaking about the different trial and error approaches she’s used to plot her novels and short stories. She’ll also be sharing her story of her writing career so far.

Image by Mary Steer
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 Sarnia 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 of Brian's classes and workshops here.

Fee: 43.36 + 13% hst = 49 paid in advance by mail or Interac
or 46.90 + 13% hst = 53 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s complete current schedule hereincluding writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.