Thursday, November 30, 2017

Seven great gifts to put on your wish list or to get for a writer you love

Seven great gifts for the writer in your life
1) A weekend writing retreat at the luxurious Arowhon Pines Resort in Algonquin Park – get two, one for you and one for your spouse, sibling or best friend, because this is going to be a wonderful weekend. See here.

2) A manuscript critique: Your spouse has spent a couple years writing a manuscript, and now she’s pretty sure it still needs work, but doesn’t know how to proceed. Time to give it over to a professional for a critique. Brian will explain what’s working, what’s not, and how to fix it.

See details of manuscript critiques and consults here

3) For a smaller investment, get a gift certificate for a short consult. Maybe the love of your life has a picture book manuscript, a short story, or an opening chapter that needs professional critiquing. Or maybe they're working on a query letter – odds are they'd love to have a professional rewrite that query and make it irresistible. Or maybe they’d just like to have a chat about their career. These are all things that can be done in about an hour and are ideal candidates for a consult.

See details of manuscript critiques and consults here
To arrange a consult, email brianhenry@sympatico.ca

4) For a great stocking-stuffer, give a gift certificate for a Saturday workshop. See what’s coming soon here or just give a certificate for your special someone to hang on to until that special workshop they’re looking for comes around.

5) Or get them The 2018 Canadian Writers' Contest Calendar. See details of the 2017 Calendar here. And just let me know you're interested and I'll send you the 2018 Contest Calendar as soon as it comes out.

6) For a really special present, get a gift certificate for a weekly course. See details of classes starting in the new year here.

7) Or you might just give one of these presents to yourself. It’s a good time of year to consider what you want. Have you been thinking about writing? Well, it’s time to start! So give yourself that most important gift – which happens to be entirely free  space and time to get your creative self in gear.

P.S. Check out 66 more gifts for writers here

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Bolton, Barrie, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, 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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Writing Conflict workshop, Saturday, April 7, in Midland

Writing Conflict: Fight scenes, Dialogue scenes & Love scenes
Saturday, April 7, 2018
10:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Askennonia Senior’s Centre, North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre, 527 Len Self Blvd, Midland, Ontario (Map here)

This workshop is geared to both beginners and more experienced writers.  We look at the most important part of all stories whether fictional or true: the fully dramatized scene. 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. 
As a bonus we'll look at how to create the most difficult scenes of all: the fight scene, the dialogue scene and the love scene. Best yet, you'll learn some of the successful tricks of the trade so that you'll never write a lifeless scene again.
  
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.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Three agents at Canadian literary agency P.S. Literary seek authors; Maria Vicente promoted to full agent

Definitions of Indefinable Things
YA. by Whitney Taylor, represented by
Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary
P.S. Literary Agency
2010 Winston Park Drive
2nd floor
Oakville, Ontario, L6H 5R7 
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. ~Brian

The P.S. Literary Agency was established by Curtis Russell in 2005. P.S.  represents literary and commercial fiction, Young Adult and Middle grade fiction and picture books, and nonfiction.
P.S. is headquartered in Oakville (a suburb of Toronto), but one of its associate agents Maria Vicente is located in Saint John, NB, making her the only literary agent in Atlantic Canada, while Carly Watters is in Ottawa. Geography doesn’t matter a lot these days, but for writers in Atlantic Canada or our national capital region, it’s good not to have to go all the way to Toronto to have coffee with their agent.  
Currently three of the five agents at P.S. are actively looking for authors:

Maria Vicente ~ Agent
Maria was recently promoted from associate to full agent. She’s dedicated to managing authors’  literary brands for the duration of their careers and providing support to her clients through all stages of the writing and publication process.
In nonfiction, Maria is looking for projects for readers of all ages (both the children and adult markets); specifically, she’s interested inpop culturesciencedesign, and lifestyle. “I expect any nonfiction book proposal to offer a new perspective on an entertaining topic,” says Maria.
In Young Adult, Maria is interested in a variety of genres: contemporarymagical realismhorrormysterylight science fiction, and light fantasy. She’s always looking for diverse characters. and enjoys literary prose and a strong, unique voice. She’s currently looking for fun YA projects rather than issue-driven stories.
In Middle Grade, Maria is looking for all genres.  “Yes, really!” she says, including graphic novels (preferably illustrated).
In Picture Books, Maria is currently looking for projects that are high concept, written in prose (no rhyming text, please), and not didactic.
She also represents illustrated picture books, or even just professional illustrators. If you are  an illustrator or author/illustrator, please provide a link to your portfolio when sending a query letter.
Topics on Maria’s picture book wish list include: biography; other nonfiction topicsgeek culture; and unusual animal protagonists. “I gravitate towards quiet, lyrical prose,” says Maria; Kyo Maclear, for example.”
For more about Maria’s preferences and her current wish list and to read various articles she’s written about writing and querying, visit her website here.
Query Maria at: query@psliterary.com 
No attachments unless specifically requested.

Kurestin Armada ~ Associate Agent
Kurestin began her publishing career as an intern with Workman Publishing and spent time as an assistant at the Lofts Agency before joining P.S. Literary. She holds a B.A. in English from Kenyon College and a publishing certificate from Columbia University. Kurestin is based in New York City.
Kurestin is actively acquiring Upmarket and Commercial Fiction, Magic Realism, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternative History, Historical Fiction LGBTQ (any genre), select Young Adult, Graphic Novels, Mystery, including mystery with element of science fiction or fantasy, and Romance.
In nonfiction, Kuristin is looking for Design, Cooking, Pop Psychology, Humour, Narrative Nonfiction, Photography, and Pop Science.
Query Kurestin at: query@psliterary.com 
No attachments unless specifically requested.

Curtis Russell ~ President & Principal Agent
Curtis began his publishing career a decade ago as proprietor of a micro-press. In 2005 he crossed to the other side of the desk and founded the P.S. Literary Agency. 
Curtis is currently acquiring both fiction and nonfiction. In terms of fiction, he is seeking Literary, Commercial, Romance, LGBT, New Adult, Young Adult and Middle Grade novels, and Mysteries & Thrillers.
In terms of nonfiction, he is looking for Business, History, Politics, Current Affairs, Memoir, Health, Wellness, Sports, Humour, Pop science and Pop psychology.

Query any agent at P.S. Literary at: query@psliterary.com 
No attachments unless specifically requested.  Limit your query to one page and include...
Paragraph One – Introduction: Include the title and category of your work (i.e. fiction or nonfiction and topic), an estimated word count and a brief, general introduction.
Paragraph Two – Mini-synopsis: A concise summary or overview of your work.
Paragraph Three – Writer’s bio: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background (awards and affiliations, etc.).
Full submission requirements here.

Simon & Schuster editor Patricia Ocampo
If you’re interested in and finding an agent or publisher (someday soon or down the road), don’t miss From the Horse’s Mouth ~ Strategies for Getting Published, with literary agent Stacey Donaghy, House of Anansi Press editor Douglas Richmond, and Simon & Schuster managing editor Patricia Ocampo on Saturday, Dec 2, 2017, at Ryerson University in Toronto (see here).

In the new year, you’ll also be interested in our How to Get Published workshop with literary agent Martha Webb Saturday, Feb 24, in Oakville (see here).

And don’t miss Writing Great Characters on Saturday, January 27, in Mississauga (see  here) and a Writing and Revising on Saturday, February 10, in Guelph (see here), How to Write Great Dialogue, Sunday, February 11, in Windsor (see here), and How to Write a Bestseller with New York Times #1 bestselling author Kelley Armstrong on Saturday, March 24, in Caledon at the Bolton Library (see here).

Also in the new year, Brian will again offer a full range of weekly writing classes, from introductory to intensive:
Exploring Creative Writing, offered at two times:
Thursday mornings, Jan 25 – March 29, in Oakville (see here)
and Friday afternoons, Feb 2 – March 23, in  Toronto (see here).
Writing Personal Stories,  Thursday afternoons, Jan 25 – March 15 in Burlington (see here).
Intensive Creative Writing, offered at three times/locales:
Tuesday afternoons, 12:30 – 2:45 p.m. Jan 16 – March 20, at Appleby United Church, in Burlington (see here)
Thursday evenings, 6:45 – 9:00 p.m., Jan 18 – March 22, at Appleby United Church in Burlington (see here)
and Friday mornings, 10:15 – 12:45, Jan 19 – March 23, Glenview Presbyterian Church in Toronto (see here)
See details of all six classes offered in the new year here.

For details 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.

Hey, everyone.
On Wednesday afternoons, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m., throughout the month of November, a whole warren of writers are gathering at the Burlington Central Library to bang out novels, short stories, memoirs – wild words of all sorts – and to swap advice, encouragement, and tales of the writing life. And you're invited. Come for one Wednesday or for all of them. And, yes, it’s absolutely free. Just stop by or you can read more details here~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.

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.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Three poems by Emily Zarevich: I can be a witch, Green eyes, and Small change

I can be a witch. I can do it too. 
I can lead wannabee kings to their doom
with prophecies. I see their weaknesses.
I know what they want to hear.
I’ll post them online in our
convenient age and meet up
with my girlfriends in the rain.
I can twist truth with riddles
and sell them off at a reduced price.
I have a cauldron, and forbidden
knowledge, and my own
space to work under the cover of night.

I see your face, your condescending little smirk.
Do you think I’m joking, speaking lightly?
I can be a witch, you know. Don’t you dare doubt me.

Green Eyes
I only wanted green fields. Green ice cream.
A row of green lights on the road to replenishment.
If I wanted a rude, decadent pair of green eyes
begging from me, forever seeking me out,
I would have loved
cats, only cats. Never you.
I would have liked you better if your eyes were blue.

Small Change
A jar full of small change.
A beacon of hope or a petty well
to stick a come-hither hand into when a longing sets in.
You were saving those coins? Well, that’s too bad.
Your dearest best buddies are enjoying themselves
at your expense.
*
Emily Zarevich lives in Burlington, Ontario. She attended Wilfrid Laurier University, where she studied English literature, and went on to Humber College where she studied TESL/TEFL (Teaching English as a Second Language). She used to write creative pieces for her school’s arts magazine Blueprint and now writes for fun. 

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.

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.

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.