Thursday, April 28, 2016

How to Make Your Stories Dramatic, Saturday, Aug 20, in Oakville

How to Make Your Stories Dramatic
Saturday, August 20, 2016
1:00 – 4:30 p.m.
St Cuthbert's Anglican Church, 1541 Oakhill Drive, Oakville, Ontario (Map here.)

This workshop is geared to both beginners and more experienced writers.  We’ll look at the most important part of all stories whether fictional or true: the fully dramatized scene. You'll learn some of the most successful tricks of the trade to make sure that you'll never write a lifeless scene again.

We’ll look at both dialogue and action scenes. You’ll learn how to write great dialogue and how to mix it with your narrative so that the interaction between your characters comes alive. But the most difficult scenes of all are climactic action scenes. Using fight scenes and love scenes as our examples, you’ll learn how to ramp up the tension you need for one of these high-octane performances. 

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada’s most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.

Fee: 35.40 + 13% hst = 40 paid in advance by mail or Interac
or 38.05 + 13% hst =
 43 if you wait to pay at the door

To reserve a spot now, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian Henry’s full schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, 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, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Summer writing classes: Welcome to Creative Writing and Intensive Creative Writing

Welcome to Creative Writing
8 weeks of exploring your creative side
Summer session
Tuesday afternoons, July 5 – Aug 23, 2016
1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (map here.)
This is your chance to take up writing in a warm, supportive environment. This course will open the door to all kinds of creative writing. We’ll visit short story writing and children’s writing, writing in first person and in third person, and writing just for fun. 
You’ll get a shot of inspiration every week and an assignment to keep you going till the next class. Best of all, this class will provide a zero-pressure, totally safe setting, where your words will grow and flower.
Note: For a pair of reviews of the "Welcome to Creative Writing" course, see here.
Fee: 140.71 plus 13% hst = 160
Number of attendees strictly limited.
To reserve your spot, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Intensive Creative Writing
8 weeks towards mastering your craft
Offered at two times:
Wednesday afternoons, 12:15 – 2:45 p.m.
July 6 – Aug 24, First class emailing sent out June 30
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (map here.)
And
Wednesday evenings, 6:45 – 9:15 p.m.
July 6 – Aug 24, First class emailing sent out June 30
Appleby United Church, 4407 Spruce Ave, Burlington, Ontario (map here.)
This Intensive course isn't for beginners; it's for people who have been writing for a while or who have done a course or two before and are working on their own projects. Over the eight weeks of 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.  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.
Check out a review of the Intensive course here. More reviews here.
Fee: 159.29 + 13% hst = 180
Number of attendees strictly limited.
To reserve your spot now, email: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
This course will fill up; enroll early to avoid disappointment.

Instructor Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada's most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published. 

Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the box to the right 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

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, 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, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Monday, April 25, 2016

New literary agent Amanda Jain seeks adult fiction, narrative nonfiction and some YA & MG; six other agents at Inklings also need authors

Inklings Literary Agency
Michelle Johnson, lead agent at Inklings
3419 Virginia Beach Blvd
#183
Virginia Beach, VA 23452

Note: Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the box to the right 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

Inklings Literary Agency is a new agency, established just four years ago, staffed by seven relatively new agents all seeking authors  both established authors and talented new authors. The agency represents a broad range of commercial and literary fiction, plus memoirs, true crime and some narrative nonfiction, as well as young adult and middle grade fiction.

Amanda Jain is the newest member of the team and like all new agents, she needs authors. Amanda has loved books for as long as she can remember. When she was a kid, Amanda always had her head in a book. In her room, in the car, in the bathtub – wherever. She probably would have brought a book to the dinner table every evening if that were allowed. 

After earning a BA in English, she worked in the trade department at W. W. Norton for seven years before leaving to pursue graduate studies. She graduated in 2011 with a MA in the history of decorative arts. Amanda then joined Inklings in 2014, first as an intern and then as Michelle Johnson’s assistant.

Amanda is primarily interested in adult fiction in the following categories: historical fiction (in all genres), women’s / book club / upmarket fiction, romance (particularly historical, suspenseful, or with a comedic bent), mysteries (particularly historical or cozy, or historical cozies).

She’s looking for narrative nonfiction in the areas of social history, archaeology, art history, material culture, etc.

She is also interested in select young adult and middle grade projects with unique hooks and a strong voice. 

In all cases, what Amanda is most looking for is a story that completely immerses the reader in the world of the book. She wants to feel the sun on her shoulders, smell the smoke of the battlefield, and hear the horses galloping in the distance.

Query Amanda at: query@inklingsliterary.com
Put “Query, Amanda Jain,” plus the title of your novel in the subject line. Also paste the first 10 pages of your manuscript and a brief synopsis (1-2 pages) into to email (no attachments).
Full submission guidelines here.

Bhavna Chauhan, editor with
Penguin Random House Canada
Brian Henry will lead Writing for Children & for Young Adults workshops on Saturday, April 30, in Guelph, with Yasemin U├žar, senior editor, Kids Can Press and authors Jennifer Mook-Sang and Kira Vermond (see here), and Sunday, May 29, in Ottawa with acclaimed author Alan Cumyn (see here).

Brian will be part of the Windsor International Writers’ Festival May 5 – 8, where he’ll be leading Writing Query Letters that Get a Yes and a Query Letter Clinic (see here). 

Brian hosts From the Horse's Mouth ~ Strategies for Getting Published on Saturday, June 18, with Barbara Berson of Helen Heller Agency, Michael Mirolla, publisher Guernica Editions and Bhavna Chauhan, editor, Penguin Random House Canada, at Ryerson University in Toronto (see here).

Other upcoming workshops include  How to Write Great Characters, Saturday, May 14 in Toronto (see here) and Sunday, June 5 in Georgetown (see here), and Writing and Revising, May 28, in Mississauga (see here).

Finally, Brian has two Writer’s Retreats coming up at Arowhon Pines Resort in Algonquin Park: Friday, June 10 – Sunday, June 12 (see here) and Friday, Sept 16 – Sunday, Sept 18 (see here).

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

But the best way to grow as a writer may be with a weekly class. This spring, Brian still has openings in one class: “Writing Personal Stories,” Wednesday mornings, May 4 – June 22, in Mississauga (see here)

This summer, Brian will offer a variety of classes:
“Welcome to Creative Writing,” Tuesday afternoons, Tuesday afternoons, July 5 – Aug 23, in Burlington
“Intensive Creative Writing,” Wednesday afternoons, July 6 – Aug 24, in Burlington
“Intensive Creative Writing,” Wednesday evenings, July 6 – Aug 24, in Burlington 
See details of all three classes here.
To reserve a spot, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

Read reviews of Brian’s courses and workshops here.
To register or for more information for any class or workshop, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, 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, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

“This Little Chair” by Lorena Perkins


There is a little chair which sits nestled in a corner near the warmth of my fireplace.   Most days, its serves as nothing more than a decorative piece in the family room.  But some days, as I’m cozied up on my couch, ready to enjoy some quiet time to read a book, I find myself looking its way.  It sits there, an inanimate object, oblivious to the history it represents.  Yet it carries a wealth of memories of my summers in Italy as a young child. It is my nonno’s chair.  

I often wonder how my grandmother has managed to live over 30 years without the love of her life.  It can’t be easy.  She is 92 years old now, and whenever I visit her, I cherish the quiet moments together when we sit and she speaks of past memories – particularly the stories courtship with my grandfather. 

As I listen, my imagination is ignited with scenes reminiscent of an old black and white film.  Visions of a young girl peddling her bicycle through her crumbling town as bombs drop in the near distance, the vibrations almost knocking her off her bicycle.  But she is determined to reach the post office – she has to get there – her beloved will be waiting for a care package to make its way to him.  Then … scenes of complete happiness as he returns from war safe and unharmed … scenes of forbidden kisses they would steal as they secretly meet in the cornfields.  

I look at her as she recounts these stories – I see a vibrant young woman, so in love and devoted to this man that even the bombing of her village couldn’t stop her. Love does give one courage.   I see a side of her I never knew.  

She takes a handkerchief out of her apron pocket and wipes away tears that well up.  She slowly gets up and makes her way into the kitchen – time for an espresso.   I know the story telling is over now, for she is thinking back to the day she lost him, and she has no words for this.    

He was 58 years old when he passed away, sadly by his own hand. He was a proud man – worked hard and was relied upon by his family and his friends.  For him, the sole purpose of existence was to provide – he was the patriarch; that was his role.  The cancer took that away and it broke him.  But I try not to think about all that.

I look at this chair, now in my own home, and recall how it always sat under the grapevine-covered pergola of my grandparents’ house and how, during the summer months, on those long hot and humid days when it was too hot for me to play, I would retreat to this little place of shade and watch my grandmother in the garden. 

As a child, I always timed the day by my nonna’s daily routine.  Collecting the eggs from the chickens, followed by watering the garden was early morning.  Hand-washing the clothes by the water pump and hanging them up to dry was mid-morning. Entering the house and heading for the kitchen was close to noon, and it meant that my grandfather would be home soon from working the fields.  So I would sit in my place of shade, anxiously waiting.  I would hear that sound.  The sound tires make on gravel.  My grandfather coming up the driveway in his little white mini Fiat.  It was now officially lunchtime.

After lunch, my grandfather would head for this little chair under the shade, always wearing his straw hat, He would light a cigarette and wait for my grandmother to bring out his espresso, which she would, on a small tray, placing it on the round table next to him.  There were no words spoken – but loving looks were exchanged with a mutual smile.  I wouldn’t bother him.  Instead, I would be playing in the garden, watching him from afar. He was a tall, thin man always tanned from working the fields.  I knew this was his resting time before he headed back to work.

As a child, spending summers in Italy, I had no concept of days of the week.  But I knew that when the routine changed it was the weekend. This was my time with him.  On those summer weekend days, he would sit on this chair and watch me as I ran around playing in the garden.  I knew he’d soon call out for me and I would run to him.  

He would hoist me up to pick the succulent grapes which hung from the pergola.  As he sat on this little chair he would laugh as I popped the grapes out of their skin and into my mouth.   He was not a man of many words, and I have to admit that as a young child, he intimidated me a bit, but when he helped me reach for those grapes and we laughed together, I always felt safe and loved.

After my grandfather passed away, I asked my grandmother to keep this chair for me. I made her promise.  She couldn’t understand why I had such an attachment to it, but she kept her word.

Whenever I returned to Italy, I would go to the chair. There it was, stored in the shed in a corner all by itself. It aged more each year. The straw seat frayed, became too weak to be sat upon; the wood grew brittle, a little weather beaten.  But when I saw it, sentimental emotions overwhelmed me and, ultimately, brought a smile to my face. I’d bring the chair outside and place it in the shade. What was once a grapevine pergola was now a patio with an awning, but nonetheless was still the chair’s spot.  My grandmother would smile – she knew I missed him, too. 

Two years ago, my uncle, my grandfather’s brother, ever so carefully and meticulously dismantled the chair, to prepare it for its journey to Canada.  My mother brought it back with her.  My stepfather put it back together again. Of all this, I had no idea.  One summer day as we were sitting in my mother’s backyard, she smiled and said, “Wait here...don’t go anywhere. I have something for you.” 

The little chair had found its way to me.  I was speechless.     

Lorena Perkins was born near Venice, Italy and goes “home” to visit whenever she can.  In June, she will return to spend time with her 92-year-old grandmother and hopes to hear more stories about her courtship with her grandfather and write more about the family history.  Lorena had been writing journals since the age of 12 and has amassed quite a collection! With the encouragement of her husband, she decided it was time to venture into the world of creative writing.  Joining one of Brian Henry’s creative writing workshop was the first step. 


See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, 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, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Reading Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle ~ A blessing in disguise by Shazia Afzal

Free time! The kids had gone to school and my husband wasn’t back from the U.S. until Thursday. I could do whatever I wanted, which is why I opened the folding chair and set it in front of the glass doors that lead to the backyard. I placed a bottle of coconut water in the holder because that was the only liquid that still tasted good. I put the home phone, my cell and my wig on the sofa right next to me so I didn’t have to get up if the phone rang or someone came to visit and I picked up The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

The book starts with a three-year-old boiling hot dogs and getting burnt which was strange enough, but as I kept reading, I started feeling uncomfortable. If the story was fiction, I wouldn’t mind but this was a memoir. It was about parents who didn’t know anything about parenting, a mother who was bipolar and obsessed with her painting while the father was an alcoholic who couldn’t hold a steady job.

At times the descriptions were so vivid that I would cringe as if it was happening in front of me. The poverty, the neglect, the abuse – it was a miracle that the children didn’t turn out like their parents, at least most of them. That’s what I liked best about the book, the siblings. They stayed close, helped each other till the very end and never gave up.

One of the most painful parts of the story is when the Walls family moves to their grandparents’ in Welch, West Virginia. The state of the family is so horrific – I couldn’t believe that grandparents and uncles could be so … rotten.

When I came to the part where the kids have nothing to eat except some food with maggots in it and the mother tells them to just pull them out and eat the food, I actually gagged. Once there is nothing in the house to eat and the mother eats a bar of chocolate, all by herself. The last straw for me is when the dad takes Jeanette to the bar and uses her to gamble with his friends.

I shut the book and pushed it away on the sofa. I held my head in my hand, trying to take in what I had read. I took deep breaths to ease the nausea and took some sips of the coconut water.

What was I thinking? I’d been diagnosed with cancer and was now undergoing chemotherapy. My hair was all gone, my nails had turned black and here I was sitting, reading a heart-wrenching memoir of childhood abuse and neglect! I was taking strong medication to stop the nausea from chemo yet reading a book that was causing me to feel like throwing up. Couldn’t I find something better to get my morale up?

Jeanette Walls
There wasn’t much to do during chemotherapy because of my immune system was depleted, as was my energy, so I had pulled out the list of memoirs that I had received from one the workshops done by Brian Henry. The Glass Castle was one of books on that list.

I looked out at the green grass in the backyard and began to think about my family, my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and my in-laws.  Each one of them had called me on the phone, on Skype, on Whattsapp to talk to me or had emailed me to check if I was okay. They’d all cried for me and prayed for me. Even though I was alone at home fighting cancer, I wasn’t alone.

What a blessing! My hand reached forward not to the book but to my cell phone and I dialed a number.

Assalam-o-alaikum,” Sana said, picking up the phone, “Peace be with you, older sister.”

Walaikum us salaam. Peace be with, you too” I said. “Are you busy?”

“What’s up?”

“Nothing. I just realized something and wanted you to know. I’m reading this memoir. If you get a chance, read it.”

“Oh yeah, what’s it about?” she asked.

“The author had a terrible childhood with abuse and neglect, and reading it I realized how blessed I am to have a loving and caring family. I can’t thank God enough for all of you. If you ever have any complaint against anyone in the family, just read this book and be grateful.”

We both cried as we talked about our families and compared them to Jeanette’s family.

After, I hung up with Sana, I looked at the sky and said a prayer for Jeanette and her siblings and for my own family. Then I reached for the book to finish reading it and to continue my quest for unknown blessings.
* * * 

Shazia Afzal is an elementary and Montessori teacher. She has a very weak stomach and reading uncomfortable graphic material results in nausea. She hopes to write about her cancer journey so that it would be beneficial for others. You can read another of her pieces here.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, 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, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

Friday, April 22, 2016

From the Horse's Mouth with literary agent Barbara Berson, publisher Michael Mirolla and editor Bhavna Chauhan, Saturday, June 18, Ryerson University

From the Horse’s Mouth
~ strategies for getting published ~
Saturday, June 18
1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Ryerson University
Ted Rogers School of Management, Room 1077
575 Bay Street, Toronto (At the corner of Dundas Street, one block 
west of Yonge Street, 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:
Barbara Berson, Literary Agent with the Helen Heller Agency.
Barbara has been an editor for the past 30 years, first in her native New York, then in Toronto, where she was most recently a senior editor with Penguin Canada, one of Canada’s premier general publishers. Barbara has worked with both established and emerging authors of literary fiction, nonfiction, and young adult books. Her authors have been the recipients of numerous prizes, including the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award. “I’m looking for literary and YA fiction, as well as narrative non-fiction,” says Barbara. “I’m keen as well on YA fiction – dark, funny, energetic, compelling  and narrative non-fiction, too.” (See more on the Helen Heller Agency here.)

Michael Mirolla, Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, Guernica Editions.
In 2010 Michale and his partner Connie McParland took over Guernica Editions from its founder. Guernica was the first press in Canada to consciously feature a multicultural blend of Canadian and foreign literary authors in translation. Michael has also created a new imprint, MiroLand, which is open to how-to books, memoirs, speculative fiction, graphic novels. At Guernica, Michael does a bit of everything from evaluating and assessing incoming manuscript submissions to dealing with author contracts; from making decisions on the type and number of manuscripts to be published annually to working with the publicist for marketing and promotion; from dealing with the distributors and sales reps to overseeing the grant application process. 
Michael has also written a clutch of novels, a novella, and short story and poetry collections. His most recent poetry collection, The House on 14th Avenue, won the 2014 Bressani Prize for Poetry. His novel Berlin took the same prize (for fiction) in 2010. His short story, “A Theory of Discontinuous Existence,” was selected for The Journey Prize Anthology; and the short story “The Sand Flea” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Bhavna Chauhan, Editor with Penguin Random House Canada.
Penguin Random House Canada is the Canadian division of Penguin Random House, the world’s most global trade book publisher, which was formed on July 1, 2013, by the merger of Penguin and Random House. Worldwide, the company employs more than 10,000 people, and it’s the biggest publisher in Canada. It publishes all kinds of books for both adults and children. Bhavna has been involved in the publishing industry since 2008 when she started as the Assistant to the Publisher at Doubleday Canada. She moved to McClelland and Stewart in 2011 and then to Penguin Random House in 2014. As an editor, Bhavna acquires and commissions manuscripts, both fiction and nonfiction, and works directly with the authors to develop their books.

Moderator Brian Henry has been a book editor and creative writing instructor for more than 25 years. He publishes Quick Brown Fox, Canada's most popular blog for writers, teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and has led workshops everywhere from Boston to Buffalo and from Sarnia to Saint John. But his proudest boast is that he has helped many of his students get published.

Fee: $115.72 (includes hst)
Register online with Ryerson here.
Or reserve your spot by emailing me at: brianhenry@sympatico.ca
And on June 18, bring a cheque made out to Ryerson University for $115.72 (No cash and absolutely no credit cards, please)

Don't ever miss a post on Quick Brown Fox. Fill in your email in the box to the right 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

See Brian’s full schedule here, including writing workshops, writing retreats, and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, 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, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.