Friday, August 18, 2017

Writing Kid Lit ~ Picture Books to YA, Thursday mornings, Oct 5 – Nov 30, in Oakville, with authors Sylvia McNicoll and Jennifer Mook-Sang as guest speakers

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong, a
New York Times #1 bestselling author
and one of Brian’s students
Writing Kid Lit ~ Picture Books to Young Adult
 Thursday mornings, October 5 – November 30, 2017
9:45 – 11:45 a.m.
Woodside Branch of the Oakville Public Library, 1274 Rebecca St, Oakville, Ontario (Map here)

See details of all 7 weekly courses offered this fall here

From picture books to young adult novels, this weekly 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 have two published children’s authors as guest speakers: 

Sylvia McNicoll is the author of over thirty books, many of which have garnered awards and Her YA novel Crush.candy.corpse was shortlisted for the Arthur EllisYA CrimeNovel of the Year Award, the Red Maple Award, the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award, and the Snow Willow Award, as well as being selected as one of the Ontario Library Association's Best Bets and Resource Links' Year's Best for 2012. 
Most acclaimed, though, are her three middle grade books about fostering guide dogs  Bringing Up Beauty, Beauty Returns, and A Different Kind of Beauty which won and were nominated for many children’s choice awards. Her 2015 YA novel Best Friends Through Eternity tells the story of an adopted Chinese teen for whom an ill-fated shortcut along a rail track leads to the discovery of some uncomfortable truths. 
In 2017, Sylvia launched her new middle grade series The Great Mistake Mysteries beginning with The Best Mistake Mystery in January and The Artsy Mistake Mystery in September and finishing with The Snake Mystery in January 2018.

Jennifer Mook-Sang grew up in Caribbean 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 in 2015. 
Speechless won the Surrey Schools Book of the Year Award, was shortlisted for many other awards, and was recommended by the Ontario Library Association, the Canadian Childrens’ Book Centre, the CBC, and the TD Summer Reading Club. Jennifer’s spent the past year giving numerous school and library presentations and meeting her many young readers.  
In October, just in time for her to bring copies to our class, Jennifer's picture book Captain Monty Takes the Plunge will be released by Kids Can Press.
Jennifer lives in Burlington, Ontario. You can find out more about her at: jennifermooksang.com 
Speechless is available online here.

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 courses and workshops here.  

Course fee:  $176.11 plus 13% hst = 199
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

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, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Two new editors at Sterling Lord Literistic seek YA and Middle Grade fiction and nonfiction

Sterling Lord Literistic
115 Broadway
New York, NY 10006

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in the “Follow Brian by Email” box in the right-hand column under my bio, and get each post delivered to your Inbox. Also, if you’re not yet on my newsletter, send me an email, including your locale, to: brianhenry@sympatico.ca ~Brian

The Sterling Lord Agency was founded in 1952 and counted Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey among his early clients. Peter Matson founded his firm, Literistic, in 1979 and rose to prominence representing such writers as John Irving and Dee Brown. In 1987, the two agencies joined forces to create Sterling Lord Literistic. The agency now has 18 agents, representing the full range of fiction and nonfiction authors. The two newest members of the team are Elizabeth Bewley and and Sarah Landis, who both joined the agency in July 2017. Like all new agents, they need authors.

Elizabeth Bewley represents young adult and middle grade fiction and nonfiction. After graduating from Northwestern Univesity in 2002, Elizabeth got her first job as an editorial assistant at St. Martin’s Press. She went on to hold editorial jobs at HarperCollins, Intervisual Books, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, where she was an executive editor. Elizabeth has worked with many bestselling and award-winning authors.
Elizabeth is especially looking for upmarket commercial fiction and accessible nonfiction that illuminates real world issues for young readers. She loves books that transport readers to foreign lands, explore family dynamics or capture the feeling of first love.
Elizabeth would also like to represent memoirs geared toward young readers.
Query Elizabeth at: ebewley@sll.com
Include a synopsis and the first three chapters or a brief proposal for nonfiction

Sarah Landis worked as an editor for fifteen years, holding roles at G.O. Putnam Son’s, Hyperion Books, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, and has worked with many talented authors.
Sarah is looking for middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction across all genres. She is particularly drawn to middle grade fantasy and to contemporary MG with heart, humour, and magic.
In young adult, Sarah has an affinity for southern voices, high-concept plots, grounded sci-fi/fantasy, historical, mysteries & thrillers, and emotionally compelling contemporary fiction.
Query Sarah at: slandis@sll.com
Include a synopsis and the first three chapters or a brief proposal for nonfiction

See Sterling Lord's submissions page here.

Join us for the Fall Colours Writing Retreat in Algonquin Park, Sept 15 - Sept 17. See here.

Brian Henry will lead a Writing Your Life and Other True Stories workshop on Saturday, Aug 19 in Brampton (see here)

Join us for a Fall Colours Writing Retreat, at the wonderful Arowhon Pines Resort in Algonquin Park, Friday, Sept 15 – Sunday, Sept 17 (see here).

Starting in September, Brian will lead a full range of courses, introductory to advanced: 

Welcome to Creative Writing, Thursday afternoons, Sept 28 – Nov 30, in Burlington. See here.
Writing Personal Stories, Wednesday evenings, Sept 27 – Nov 15, in Burlington. See here.
Writing Kid Lit, Thursday mornings, Oct 5 – Nov 30, in Oakville, with guest authors Sylvia McNicoll and Jennifer Mook-Sang. See here.
Next Step in Creative Writing, Tuesday afternoons Sept 26 – Nov 28, first readings emailed Sept 19; Burlington. See here.
Intensive Creative Writing, Monday mornings, Sept 25 – Dec 4/11, first readings emailed Sept 18; Toronto. See here.
Intensive Creative Writing, Thursday evenings, Sept 28 – Nov 30 / Dec 7, first readings emailed Sept 20; Georgetown. See here.
Extreme Creative Writing, Wednesday afternoons, Sept 20 – Dec 6/13, first readings emailed Sept 13; Burlington
See details of all seven courses offered in the fall here.

Also, in the fall, Brian will lead a “How to Make Yourself Write” workshop on Saturday, Oct 14, in Toronto (see here), a “Writing a Bestseller” workshop with New York Times #1 bestselling author Kelley Armstrong on Saturday, Oct 21, in Oakville (see here), and a “How to Get Published” mini-conference, with author Hannah McKinnon, literary agent Martha Webb, and HarperCollins editor Michelle Meade on Saturday, Nov 18, in Guelph (see here).

For more information or to reserve a spot in any workshop, retreat, or weekly course, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops 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, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Navigation tips: Always check out the labels underneath a post; they’ll lead you to various distinct collections of postings. Also, if you're searching for a literary agent who represents a particular type of book, check out this post. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Free Meet-Ups for Writers, Wednesday afternoons at the Burlington Library

Meet Ups for Writers
Wednesdays, November 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2017
3:30 – 5: 30 p.m.
Holland Room, Burlington Central Library, 2331 New Street, Burlington, Ontario (Map here)

I’m hosting five writing support sessions at the Burlington Central Library. When you get a warren of writers all writing together, the room buzzes with energy and it’s a great motivational boost. So we’ve booked the Holland Room at the library where we can all write together for a couple hours each week. Or join your fellow writers at the Café in the library’s foyer, where we’ll be chatting about writing and the projects we’ve got on the go (leaving the Holland Room quiet for those getting words on paper).

This event coincides with National Novel Writing Month, but you don’t have to be taking part in NaNoWriMo to participate in our meet-ups. All you need is an urge to hang out with some fellow writers. 

This event is free, but phone the library and tell them which days you plan to attend so that we know how many to expect. Call: 905-639-3611 ext 1321

(Though if you decide to come at the last minute, that’s fine with me. Just show up with your laptop or pad and pen. It’s unlikely we’ll fill the room, but if by chance the Holland Room does overflow, there will always be room at the café.) ~Brian

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, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

“Portrait of a Reader,” by Wendy Simpson

It had been raining for several days but Id been housebound so I hardly noticed. Being a mom was much harder than Id imagined and my baby girl was not one to sleep much. I was exhausted and trying to figure out how to get everything done so I could at least put the “sleep when she sleeps” platitude to the test. She was fed and safely swaddled in her bassinet so I dashed downstairs to put in yet another load of washing. How does one tiny creature create so much laundry?
     I smelt the mouldy odour before I realized the basement had flooded. It was always a little damp and heavy in this dungeon but now wed sprung a leak. Luckily the old house was so lopsided that all the water had drained away from the stairs and the appliances but our boxes had not fared so well. I abandoned the laundry and set to work pulling the soggy cardboard boxes out of the water. But only for a minute – I had a baby waiting upstairs.
     At nap time I gave up my hope of extra sleep and headed downstairs again to deal with the mess. Most of the boxes were full of notes, essays, books and more books. I loved books, and choosing to study English literature had provided me with the opportunity to accumulate many. I hoped I could salvage most of them. I moved some of the boxes to drier ground and set to work on the soggiest.
     The first box was all the hard covers I loved or felt I should have loved. It would be heartbreaking to lose any of them, but hopefully time had given me a bit of perspective.  Chaucers Canterbury Tales were a little waterlogged but I could live with that. Sadly, Gulliver had to go; his travels ended here. James Joyce fared much better so I could still claim to have finished Ulysses, with marginal notes and highlighted paragraphs as proof. Finnegans Wake had drowned. Yay!
     My heart sank as I extracted my most cherished book from the box, The Diviners. The dust cover was a mess but maybe the book was salvageable, I opened it carefully and saw the inscription. Ah, the memories…
     My favourite professor had been Clara Thomas. She was an extraordinary teacher and mentor. Can Lit was a bit of joke back then, but she infused so much love and life into here course that was hard not to be intrigued. It was a small class, a group of students more interested in getting out into the working world than dwelling on the perils of early Canadian settlers Roughing it in the Bush.
     The curriculum moved chronologically into the 20th century examining poets and authors, many interesting, some not, and then, Margaret Laurence. She captivated my mind and my imagination. I read everything I could, fiction and nonfiction, entering worlds both familiar and exotic.
     Just before Christmas break,Professor Thomas invited us all to her home for a literary evening, a potluck dinner and discussion; so pretentious and grand!  I arrived right on time, carrying my carefully prepared cheddar cheese ball (so perfect for 1976). As I rang the doorbell I was more than a little intimidated by the beautiful house with the Lawrence Park address but was soon welcomed into a charming and comfortable home.
     I wasnt the first but many of my classmates hadnt yet arrived. As I walked into the living room I first noticed the beautiful Christmas tree and then the remarkable woman standing by the fireplace. She greeted me warmly with a huge smile and the offer of mulled wine. Margaret Laurence had come to our soiree! She and the professor were longtime friends, she explained and she was visiting for the holidays.
     I was flustered and awestruck. I watched but barely spoke to her the rest of the night, pretending to be occupied by sipping the surprisingly spicy wine. She was friendly, witty and full of really good stories. She managed to draw all of us into her circle with tales and laughter. Clearly some of my classmates were not as shy as I, but she took it all in stride. She was warm, genuine and engaging.
     The next day Margaret Laurence came to our seminar class and we learned her perspective on Canadian literature. Again, I was mesmerized by her presence, her voice, her colourful caftan and even her jewellery. I certainly don’t remember all of her discourse that day, but I do know she spoke passionately about our heritage and our nation and how they are reflected in all we do and write. This has stuck with me.
     Id boldly brought my Diviners with me that day. After class I collected my wits and my courage and asked her to sign it. I will never forget how friendly, gracious and lovely she was.
     And now my book was wet. Id try to save it, but it really didn’t matter. The words, the story, that special world could be easily replaced at my local bookshop. The inscription was nice, but the actual, physical book was of little importance. I’d always remember the author and the worlds she’d created. It was the dramas, the characters, the fantasies that I longed to collect. Not the books!
     As I dashed up the stairs I felt refreshed, eager to tend to my little girl, hoping one day shed love reading too.

Wendy Simpson lives and sells real estate in Oakville. Although her university days are long behind her she’s never lost her love of reading. She is the mother of three adult children and three (soon to be four!) grandchildren. She travels as much as possible and loves to spend several weeks each year in Victoria and the Cayman Islands.


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, August 14, 2017

Writing Personal Stories workshop, Aug 19, in Brampton


From Pininterest
Writing Your Life & Other True Stories
Saturday, August 19, 2017
1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Cyril Clark Branch, Brampton Library 20 Loafer’s Lake Lane, Brampton, Ontario (Map here)

Have you ever considered writing your memoirs or family history? This workshop will introduce you to the tricks and conventions of telling true stories and will show you how to use the techniques of the novel to recount actual events. Whether you want to write for your family or for a wider public, don't miss this workshop.

Fee: 37.17 + hst = 42 paid in advance or 39.82 + hst = 45 if you wait to pay at the door
To reserve a spot now, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Workshop leader Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers and is the author of a children’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde(Tribute Publishing). But his proudest boast is that he’s helped many of his students get published. 

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, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Woodstock, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York Region, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

“Our Garden of Eden” by Adrienne Zoe


After spending weeks taming the overgrown garden of our new home in Ontario, I thought knew everything about it.  Then a striped serpent rustled by. I leapt back, stifling a scream.
It slithered onto the deck and much to my consternation it started wiggling into our back wall. Whoa! Was it going to get stuck and end up dying inside the wall of our home? As it squeezed its three-foot length into the finger-sized hole, I had a split second decision to make: Yank it out by the tail or not? It wasn’t a poisonous snake – slim – nothing like the plump Massasauga Rattlesnake, Ontario’s only venomous snake. Still, I didn't want to get bitten.
I watched it disappear.
I ran over to consult our neighbour who works for the building industry. Why was there a hole in my wall and could I seal it up to stop the snake from going in? Linda said the hole was built-in for aeration. She laughed and assured me the snake couldn’t live in the wall. No need to worry.  
My husband suggested blocking the hole with steel wool. However, we didn’t want to inadvertently seal the snake in. So we did nothing, hoping the snake would just leave. It didn’t.
Linda was wrong – It continued to slither in and out of the hole.
“This is also one of God’s creatures,” I reassured myself whenever I saw it. 
Six years passed. It was no longer just the one snake. Snakes of all lengths traversed our yard. On sunny days they beat me to the deck to sunbathe. Even though I knew they were harmless, it jolted me to see them there. They weren’t exactly a problem as they always politely disappeared and left the deck to me.
We – my husband, our two boys, and I – proved we could live with these serpents. However, visitors squirmed when we mentioned them. I resorted to keeping the creatures a secret. But what if one showed up at the wrong time, like when my mother-in-law was visiting? My husband was sure she’d have a heart attack.
 “Let’s call the trappers,” I finally said.
“Why?” My husband replied.
“I checked the internet. We’ve got garter snakes. A female can have fifty live babies. They’ve been here at least six years. Do the math.”
“We could have thousands!”
“I see three or four each time I go out on a warm day. They’re definitely multiplying.”
“Any way of dealing with them ourselves?”
“Ah, a cat will catch them. A dog can scare snakes away.” 
Well, we didn’t have a cat or dog.
“I don’t want to kill them,” I said, shuddering.
“How about trapping and releasing them ourselves?”
“We could try,” I said.
This led to more googling. I saw alarming YouTube videos of wall-climbing snakes. In the American South, some got into attics. Then, I came across the “snake house of horror,” an Idaho house built over a snake den. There were so many snakes the ground outside moved, and the sound of snakes sliding inside the walls kept the new owners awake at night. After three months they fled “satan’s lair.”
That did it. Now I knew why our snakes had to go. What if we had to sell our home? Would snakes sunning on the deck bust a deal, or cause our property value to plummet? Maybe our house would become like “satan’s lair” – unsellable.
When I asked for help to build the trap and catch the snakes my husband claimed he had to go to work and my older son negotiated an alternate task. I resorted to bribing my ten-year-old son − $10 per snake. Thank God, Scott’s eyes lit up.
Our trap-and-release design had to work without our needing to touch the snakes, I decided. Sticky glue ones were out of the question. Of the designs I googled, the funnel trap seemed the simplest to construct and use. Snakes venture into the box trap through the wide end of the funnel, and they are too befuddled to find their way out through the tiny end.  
The top half of a sawed-off pop bottle served as our funnel. Scott cut a hole in the side of a large cardboard box and pushed the funnel halfway through, keeping the funnel’s small end inside the box. That was all there was to making our snake trap, besides taping up the box and taping the funnel in place.
The next morning, we pressed the trap’s wide funnel mouth over the snake hole and waited. The suspicious snakes only played peek-a-boo. Through the clear plastic of the funnel, they spotted our movements six feet away where we were watching from the back door, and none dared come out.
Then Scott yelled, “One’s coming out!” Where he pointed to was not the usual hole, but another one in the same wall. How many other holes could they escape from?
I grabbed a container to catch the emerging snake which quickly retreated back in the wall. Leaving the bin below the second hole, Scott and I sat on the deck and waited. Eventually, they came oozing out, one by one, like striped Crest toothpaste squeezed from the tube.  As soon as a snake dropped in, I slammed the lid on.
Those we saw slithering on our deck we chased into another awaiting bin below the deck. Acting fast, none escaped. I found myself panting, as scared and exhilarated as a first-time sky-diver.
Scott and I transferred the captured snakes to our tall recycling bin. At one point, five snakes were in there, all attempting to get out, repeatedly trying to stand on the tips of their tails and teetering before falling over. Mesmerized by their movements, I felt at once fascinated and repelled. 
An overpowering musty odour made me gag and I was forced to close the bin. Like skunks, some garter snakes have a gland to produce a stink to ward off predators, another reason to get rid of them. After relocating them in the woods, Scott helped to wash the bin using the garden hose, a broom, and lots of liquid soap. Fortunately the stink went away, leaving only the smell of Dawn.   
On the third day, our trap finally caught one. I’d been warned about not using masking tape to construct the trap. The reason became clear: Trashing around to free itself, the snake instead got more and more bound by the tape I’d used.
Not daring to touch it, I used a mop handle to help it. How could masking tape stick so poorly to the box and funnel and yet be like super glue to the snake? I sweated – my instinct was to run, not get up close for the ten minutes it took to free it. It was all my fault for using the tape, Scott reminded me.
The poor snake endured the tugging and pulling ordeal silently. It never struck at me or hissed. I felt sorry for it. My entire experience with these gentle shy garter snakes was that they only wanted to be free and run away. I hadn’t expected to like them, but in a way I did.
Over three days, we trapped and released seven snakes to the wild, and then there were no more.  I congratulated myself. I could finally step out into the garden without first checking left and right.
“The snakes were so nice,” Scott said. “Did we really have to send them away? Are they going to be okay?” His caring remark came weeks later.
“Do you miss them?”
“Yeah.”
Our garden had become ordinary, no longer the potent Garden of Eden. I understood.  “You know, I’m surprised,” I said, hugging him. I miss them too.”

Adrienne Zoe was born in the Sabah, a state of Malaysia on the Island of Borneo, but is now a resident of Waterloo, Ontario.  She is currently writing a memoir of what is was like growing up in Borneo, and maintains a Facebook writer’s page here. She is a fine art photographer who exhibits year-round.  Visit her photography website here for information on her photography and shows, and follow her photography journey on Facebook here.

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.