Saturday, April 19, 2014

“Winter” and “Loser,” two poems by Day Merrill

Winter
November 16, 2013

The Old Man blew into town last night,
two fingers of Canadian whiskey over ice in one hand,
two fingers of the other hand crooked around the faux-fur steering wheel cover
of his Caddie DeVille).
His cruel companion sat at his side, laughing wildly as they careened and spun out
on the road down the mountain into town.

Just like that old bastard to show up at least two weeks before we expected him,
making us look bad with leaves still brimming the gutters and
dead pumpkins on the porch.
Jesus! Does this guy have no shame? Drunk on possibility,
he slammed right into our driveway, blocking the car and making everything if not impossible, at the least a real pain in the ass.

He plans to stay “a while,” he informed me as he slid out from behind the wheel, his breath curling up into the frigid air like smoke from a cheap stogie.
His blowsy lady friend settled down a bit, stretching her long legs as she got out of the car, but you never know when she’s going to blow, unpredictable as she is.
What a bitch! As if the cold and snow weren’t enough on their own.

I opened the screen door to greet them, rueful that we’d left changing it out for the glass panel just one day too late. As they swept into the house, they tossed me the newspaper, frozen in its little blue plastic bag and covered with frost—
like something left in the freezer beyond all recognition.

I sighed as I dug out my boots, long underwear and shovel. Keeping up with these two is never easy, and if they’re already settling in by mid-November,
it’s gonna be a long, cold winter.

And good riddance
Loser
March 28, 2014

Ha! Old Man, your days are numbered.
You can bluster as much as you like,
but we’ve got you on the run now.
We had as much as we could countenance
of your cold, dour face a while back.
But you refused to leave,
like some high-maintenance house guest
who’s long overstayed his welcome.

You showed up four months ago with such panache, such élan.
At this point, youre merely tedious and pathetic.
Just look at yourself!
Petulant and mean-spirited,
You’re no match for the enlightened days we’re seeing now.

Your time is over – at least for another year –
and we are so over you.
So scram, vamoose, melt away like the wicked witch.
Spring ahead, fall back – whatever.
Leave behind the foul detritus you hid for months underneath
your cold butt – we don’t care!
We’ll gladly face the mess just to get you gone
and good riddance.

Day Merrill is an American who has lived in Canada since 1995. While her first published poem appeared in her college literary magazine in 1969, Day set aside writing for decades to pursue career and family and didn't take up the craft again until age 60. Now 65, she is working on several volumes of poetry and a first novel. Day lives in Collingwood with her husband and a rescued dog and cat. Her hobbies include shovelling snow and cursing the weather gods.


See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Caledon, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.
  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis, reviewed by Susan Thomas

Pajama Press, 223 pages, paperback $12.24 from Amazon

Moon at Nine is set in Iran shortly after the Iranian revolution. The pervasive aura of political unrest creates a situation where social injustice and religious intolerance build tension and form the backdrop for a young girl’s rite of passage. 

Fifteen year old Farrin has much to hide.  Her parents’ support of the exiled Shah forces her to live a life of secrets, their illegal activities leaving them all in constant danger of discovery by the Revolutionary Guards.

Born to a wealthy family, Farrin is exposed to many forbidden treasures, videos and books delivered by the mysterious “man with a suitcase.”  She attends an academy for girls where enrollment was formerly coveted by families of good standing. Its reputation has since fallen and because of her life of privilege, she is not accepted by her fellow students. Though her resilient character allows her to survive the marginalization she suffers at the hands of her peers, her restless spirit demands more.

Sadira, a strong and passionate young woman, becomes part of Farrin’s life in a whirlwind of friendship and excitement when she enrols at the school. The girls feel an immediate connection but it is this attraction which presents Farrin with her most dangerous challenge yet. Drawn to each other in a way that is condemned by the religious police, the girls snatch private moments when they can.  Soon, Farrin becomes tired of living a lie, and empowered by the depth of her feelings for Sadira she risks everything to proclaim her love.

Discovery leads to isolation and discipline, and looking at the moon at nine each night from their separate locations offers them their only form of emotional connection, until they devise a plan to be together once again.

Deborah Ellis
From a formerly prestigious girls’ school to the horrors of Evin prison, the girls pay a high price for their disobedience.  Meagre subsistence in a refugee camp in Pakistan may offer the last resort.

Canada is a country that sparkles with diversity, and the dynamics created by the coming together of cultures can be unique and exciting.  A glimpse into the background and traditions of new Canadians is always an educational and sometimes intoxicating experience.

Looking deeper though, it can be brutally shocking to become aware of practices that are accepted as cultural norms in other countries.  In this book we get a glimpse of some of the harsh realities that are imposed on others in their native homelands.  

Accepting persecution or escape are the two certainties which present themselves to those who suffer the oppression of bias and persecution. Is this really much of a choice?

Gay and lesbian youth have suffered the world over, sometimes driven to desperate measures and even suicide, to gain the recognition and acceptance they deserve.  Movements across North America are finally beginning to offer the support and develop the awareness needed to form a truly inclusive society. This is sadly not the case in other countries.

Multi award-winning author Deborah Ellis excels in creating stories of determination in the face of adversity and social injustice. Here, she presents us with a sensitive and passionate tale based on the true life experiences of a young woman in Iran, where execution is the accepted form of punishment for gays or lesbians.

This is a story of love, courage, perseverance and ultimate betrayal by family, friends and country. Beautifully told, Ellis’s work represents the struggles and efforts of young people everywhere to gain acceptance in a world where inclusivity is not just a dream, but a reality.

Susan Thomas can’t imagine a world without books and loves to share the adventure by creating stories of her own.  She is a school administrator who spent many happy years as a Teacher/Librarian, immersed in the world of children’s literature. Susan was born in England but emigrated to Canada as a child, and now live in Southern Ontario with her husband and her three children. 

She is very pleased to have recently published her first young adult novel, Incarnation, with Evernight Teen, under her maiden name of Susan Nolan. Check out Incarnation hereFor information on submitting to Evernight see here. And for information on submitting to Pajama Press, see here.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Caledon, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Cambridge Writers Collective welcomes new members

Reading night
The Cambridge Writers Collective invites writers of all levels of experience to join us as we share our passion for the written word, our experience, and knowledge of the craft through critiquing and networking.

The group is a well-published and recognized literary force in Waterloo Region and beyond and was a founding member of the Cambridge Centre for the Arts. Many of their writers have earned publishing recognition and are often invited to judge various literary competitions.

Meetings consist of a short warm-up exercise, sharing member news and announcements, a homework segment, and critiquing.

Throughout the year, the group also hosts a number of events including workshops, literary readings, talks by guest speakers on topics of literary interest, and an annual retreat. On June 7, the group is sponsoring a “How to Build Your Story” workshop led by Brian Henry. For this workshop, Brian’s guest speaker will be the well known novelist Lynda Simmons. (Details here.)

Visit the Cambridge Writers Collective’s blog here and visit them on Facebook here.

For more information, email us at cwc.writershelpingwriters@gmail.com

See Brian Henry’s full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Caledon, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Heritage House seeks nonfiction about the Canadian Northwest, other Canadian themed books, and children's lit

Heritage House
103 - 1075 Pendergast Street
Victoria, BC, V8V 0A1

Heritage House began telling Canada's stories in 1969. Many of our books celebrate the pioneer spirit and colourful history of western Canada, particularly the Cariboo region in which the company's roots are founded. 

Others delve into contemporary themes, focusing on significant cultural, social, political, environmental and recreational subjects. Heritage House also has a range of full-colour pictorials and recreational guides, and a series of shorter narratives designed for younger readers, new Canadians and casual readers, called Amazing Stories.

Heritage House publishes 20-30 new titles per year. Most of authors are Canadian citizens or residents, as the company’s mission is to publish and promote distinctive nonfiction works by Canadian authors. 

Submissions:
1. Before submitting your proposal, do your best to determine that your subject matter fits our publishing program. Browse our website to see the kinds of books we publish; pay particular attention to recent titles.

2. Include the following in your submission:
  • A 200-word (approximate) synopsis of the book. A good synopsis should generate interest. If you were in a bookstore reading the back-cover text on your book, what would it say? 
  • A marketing summary. Who is the intended audience for your book? What makes your book unique? How does it compare to existing books on a similar topic or of a similar nature? Why do you believe it will be a publishing success?
  • Copies (or a detailed list) of the photographs you'd like to use. When we evaluate a manuscript, we consider the illustrative materials that will be available to support it. 
  • Biographical information: your background, experience, interests/expertise pertinent to this project. In short, what qualifies you to write this book.
  • A table of contents, and either the entire manuscript or two to three sample chapters. 
3. If you want your submission materials returned, include a self-stamped, self-addressed envelope. Be sure that the postage affixed to your SASE is sufficient to cover the cost of returning the material.

4. Mail your submission to our editorial office. Do not send it as an email attachment, and please do not query by telephone.

Full guidelines here.  

Heritage House is a member of The Heritage Group, an affiliation of five separate entities. In addition to our company, it includes our distribution partner, Heritage Group Distribution, and publishing houses TouchWood Editions, Brindle & Glass and Rocky Mountain Books. By sharing select resources, The Heritage Group is better able to generate publicity, expand promotional activities and serve retail customers and readers alike

Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary Agency
Brian Henry will lead “How to Get Published” workshops in London on April 19 with literary agent Olga Filina (see here), in Stouffville on May 24 with literary agent Carly Watters (see here) and in Ottawa on June 22 with literary agent Maria Vicente (see here).

And Brian will lead a "Writing for Children & for Young Adults" workshop on May 31 in Burlington (see here).

But the best way to get your manuscript ready for publication is with a weekly course. Check out the details of  courses starting in April  here. See details of the summer session of The Next Step in Creative Writing here and of Intensive Creative Writing here.

To register or for more details of any course or workshop, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian's full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Next Step in Creative Writing course, Wednesday evenings, July 2 – Aug 19, in Burlington

The Next Step in Creative Writing
 ~ Time to take a step up!
Summer session

Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m.
July 2 – August 19, 2014 
First readings emailed June 25
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)

Note: “Intensive Creative Writing,” a similar but slightly more demanding course will be held Wednesday afternoons, July 2 to Aug 19 at Appleby United Church. Details here. To register, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

The Next Step in Creative Writing will challenge you to take a step up in your writing.  Over the eight weeks of classes, you’ll be asked to bring in three or four 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 at the start of each class, addressing the needs of the group.

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.

Instructor 
Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and has led writing workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he's helped many of his students get published.

Fee:  140.71 plus 13% hst = 159 Advance payment only, by mail or Interac
Note: These courses fill up, so enroll early to avoid disappointment.
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca


See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Caledon, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Literary agent Taylor Haggerty of Waxman Leavell seeks YA, historical fiction & historical romance

Waxman Leavell Literary Agency
443 Park Ave South #1004
New York, NY 1006

Taylor Haggerty has joined Waxman Leavell as a literary agent, and like all new agents, she’s looking for authors. Taylor is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and received a master’s degree from Emerson College’s Publishing and Writing program. Before joining Waxman Leavell, she worked at the Gersh Agency.

Taylor seeks young adult fiction, historical fiction and historical romance.  Taylor especially wants historical fantasy and historical fiction with great female characters, dual contemporary/historical narratives, family secrets, or anything with a unique perspective on a major historical figure or event);  YA fantasy, and smart, funny, contemporary realistic YAs; novels with a unique settings.

“I love anything with a gothic feel, and am a sucker for gorgeous international settings,” Taylor says. “I also have a soft spot for unreliable narrators and books with interesting, non-linear structures.
  
For fiction include 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your e-mail. No attachments.

Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary Agency
Brian Henry will lead “How to Get Published” workshops in in London on April 19 with literary agent Olga Filina (see here), in Stouffville on May 24 with literary agent Carly Watters (see here) and in Ottawa on June 22 with literary agent Maria Vicente (see here).

Also, Brian will lead a "Writing for Children & for Young Adults" workshop on May 31 in Burlington (see here).

But the best way to get your manuscript ready for publication is with a weekly course. Check out the details of all course starting in April here. And read details of the summer session of Intensive Creative Writing here.

To register or for more details of any course or workshop, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian's full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Intensive Creative Writing course, Wednesday afternoons, July 2 – Aug 19, in Burlington

Intensive Creative Writing
An adventure in creative growth
Summer session

Wednesday afternoons, 12:15 – 2:45 p.m.
July 2 – August 19, 2014 
First readings emailed June 25
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (Map here.)

Note: “The Next Step in Creative Writing,” a similar but slightly less demanding course will be held Wednesday evenings July 2 to Aug 19 at Appleby United Church. To register or for information, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Intensive Creative Writing is for people who have done a course or two before and are working on their own writing. Over the eight classes, you’ll be asked to bring in four 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, each class will begin with a lecture/discussion, addressing the needs of the group.

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.

Instructor 
Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing teacher for more than 25 years. He teaches at Ryerson University and has led writing workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Charlottetown. But his proudest boast is that he's helped many of his students get published.

Fee:  140.71 plus 13% hst = 159 Advance payment only, by mail or Interac
Note: These courses fill up, so enroll early to avoid disappointment.
To reserve a spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Caledon, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

“Happiness” by Patricia Lawrence


Sun rising, sending rays
golden light moves into
my early morning life.

Stretching out kinks,
Cramps, left by
the gods of night.

Sleep walking into the kitchen,
make a cup of tea, half asleep
half awake, take time
feed the cat.

Leftover dreams swirling,
try to make sense.
colourful wisps of fancy
dancing playfully.

Blue light radiates
blank screen blinks
beckoning me.

Fingers drawn to
indented keys, making
involuntary movements.

The day has started, the cat
is out, tea’s gone cold
I’ve started to write

Nonsense flows, automatically
lines of letters stretching
across a blank screen.

A stretch a yawn, a thought
swims through confusion
words form, It’s beautiful
within, without


Patricia Lawrence is an Ontario poet, born on Christmas day 1938.   Her father ran a local corner market, where  the sign above the cash register that stated: "Since man to man is so unjust, we do not know just who to trust.  We trusted many to our sorrow, so pay today and trust tomorrow."  Yet despite this stark message, her father would extend credit and help to his many neighbours in their times of need.  There is no doubt that this planted the seed of empathy and wisdom in Pat that grew into her poetic talent.  Now retired, Pat devotes herself to local writing and poetry groups to share and refine her vision as expressed through her poetry.

See Brian Henry's schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Kingston, Peterborough, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Bolton, Caledon, Georgetown, Milton, Oakville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Dundas, Kitchener, Guelph, London, Woodstock, Orangeville, Newmarket, Barrie, Orillia, Sudbury, Muskoka, Peel, Halton, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.