Tick, Tick, Tick…Time is slipping away! Ontario Writers’ Conference

It is time to register for the Ontario Writers’ Conference! Our registration closes officially on March 31st. If you have not yet registered, you’ll want to get in under that wire.

We have a very exciting line-up this year. Amazing facilitators, speakers, agents and mentors! For a full list of those involved, and their bios, please visit the LIST OF SPEAKERS page of our site.

To name a few, here, it is REALLY hard to decide who to showcase. I want to list every single one of them! We are very fortunate to have every one of our presenters! I will try to give you a smattering of an idea:

One of the biggest names in Science Fiction in the world, ROBERT J. SAWYER will be presenting the lecture — BOOKS WITH BUZZ!

Acclaimed journalist and W5 favourite, PAULA TODD will be our closing speaker!

Beloved children’s book author ADRIENNE KRESS (who is soon entering the Young Adult market with her new novel, THE FRIDAY SOCIETY, will be presenting the workshopHOW ABSURDITY, MAGICAL REALISM AND STEAMPUNK CAN CHANGE YOUR (WRITING) LIFE!

Internationally renown author SUSANNA KEARSLEY will be presenting the workshop BEST EVIDENCE: DIGGING UP THE FACTS!

For a full list of workshops offered, please follow this link: WORKSHOP/PRESENTATION DESCRIPTIONS

REGISTER TODAY!

Click on the logo below to be taken to the Ontario Writers’ Conference website. Don’t delay! The registration deadline is fast approaching. Don’t miss out Saturday May 5th, 2012 conference!

June 16th is Save the Bookstore Day…

…or as we like to call it here in Durham Region, the 2nd Annual BLUE HERON BOOKS BOOKSWARM!

Before explaining the details, I’d like to give credit where credit it due:

Save the Bookstore day is the brainchild of literary agent KELLY SONNACK of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Ms. Sonnack was tired–like everybody else–of seeing independent bookstores closing their doors. Save the Bookstore Day was created as a way to bring people into their favourite brick & mortar bookstore…to encourage them to support that bookstore before the unthinkable happens.

Here is a blurb from last year’s Facebook Event page for SAVE BOOKSTORES (I’ve updated it with this year’s info)!

Who: You
What: Buy a book (or 4)
Where: Your local bookstore (or Powell’s ships)
When: June 16th (The Saturday before Father’s Day!)
Why: Because we need to support our storefronts. No more obituary section in publishing news, please!

That WHY is a very good reason to get thee to your favourite independent bookstore on June 16th and buy some books!

You can click on the poster below to go to LAST YEAR’S Facebook Event page for Save the Bookstore:

I will post a link to the event page for this year, once it is created. This is a North American event…so wherever you are, all you have to do to participate is go to your fav independent on the date and buy a book (or 4).

You can also organize an event for your local store. It’s extremely easy. You just talk to the owner to let them know what you’re doing. Then, you advertise. Use Twitter, Facebook, a blog if you have one, email, etc. Just get the word out there that everybody’s meeting up at your fav indy bookstore to show support and celebrate its existence.

I organized one for my fav bookstore last year. You can read about it here. If enough people show up, there’s nothing like a party in a bookstore. You can meet new locals who share your interests…you can have great conversations about your favourite books. Last year was an amazing day. It was great to see BLUE HERON BOOKS filled with booklovers. Our fav. bookstore is well and truly loved. They support the arts in our community like nobody else. We’re lucky to have them. Participating in Save The Bookstores Day was a no-brainer for Uxbridge, Ontario and the surrounding area.

So, on to the 2nd annual!

BLUE HERON BOOKS in Uxbridge, Ontario.

In the heart of the cozy wildly artistic community of Uxbridge, Ontario sits a sentinel. (Ha…sounds a little too Star Warsy. But it’s true.) Blue Heron Books is in the centre of town and in many ways it is the town’s pulse! Owner Shelley Macbeth is a whirlwind. She’s the bookseller for the annual nearby Ontario Writers’ Conference, and the bookseller at the monthly nearby Writer’s Community of Durham Region Breakfast Meetings. She has writing workshops running at the bookstore. She organizes zany and wonderful events such as the HUNGER GAMES reaping in the streets of Uxbridge last week to celebrate the release of the blockbuster movie that began life in independent bookstores across North America (Thankfully nobody died in the playing out of that particular reaping)! Shelley also hosts author talks and lectures. Her BOOKS & BRUNCH series is extremely popular. In a word, Shelley Macbeth and her crew at Blue Heron Books HAVE IT GOING ON! (That’s four words, but I hope you’re not counting)

Blue Heron was recently named in the TOP 10 BOOKSTORES OF NORTH AMERICA. If you think that’s a small feat, you’re crazy.

In appreciation for all Shelley and her fine employees do for BOOKS, WRITERS, READERS, UXBRIDGE, DURHAM REGION and BEYOND…I ask that you mark June 16th on your calendars. AND that you make EVERY EFFORT to get to Blue Heron Books on that day. We’re going to celebrate them in the way that they spend the rest of the year celebrating books and the creative community.

2nd Annual BLUE HERON BOOKS BOOKSWARM – In participation with SAVE THE BOOKSTORE!

DATE: SATURDAY JUNE 16th, 2012

TIME: 10:00am – 1:00pm

PLACE: Blue Heron Bookstore – 62 Brock Street W. Uxbridge, Ontario (905) 852-4282

Please come. Please bring friends. Please tell everybody you know about it. Please buy a book (or 4) while you’re there. (-:

Get Ready to Swarm!

Muskoka Novel Marathon – Writers Helping Readers

A short post to request your help. In July, I’m participating in my 5th Muskoka Novel Marathon. 30 writers get together to write novels in 72 hours. We all collect sponsors and aim at reaching our goal of $10,000 in donations. All monies collected go to fight literacy. Hence, we are writers helping readers. Please consider clicking on the link below and helping me reach my own sponsor goal for donations to the cause. Thank you so much in advance! Together, I truly believe we could wipe out illiteracy.

Muskoka Novel Marathon – Writers Helping Readers.

 

Who Do YOU Write For?

(Full disclosure: As some of my posts tend to do, this one rambles. As, so, it should.)

I always tell myself that I am writing for the benefit of Mr. Kite. And also for Lucy. And Charlie. Little Charlie Bucket with his bucket of dreams, all riding on a pretty gold ticket and a mouthful of chocolate. BUT, most importantly, I must write for the fat lady.

  • For the benefit of Mr. Kite
  • Lucy
  • Charlie Bucket
  • Fat Lady (Don’t you dare tell anyone that the fat lady is actually the skinny old Bessie!)

Mr. Kite needs a benefit. He just does. And there must be much trampolining and hoops and garters. And horses will dance the waltz.

Mr. Kite tells me to be ridiculous. Whoever said writing is noble and pristine and honourable has to give their head a shake. Writing is a trip on a psychedelic bus. Mr. Kite reminds me to jump through hoops of fire and embrace the part of my brain that just plain doesn’t care about decorum.

And, Lucy. As a dweeby little kid I actually thought this poor girl had colitis. There she is, ‘the girl with colitis goes by’. But who am I? Of course she had kaleidoscope eyes. When I enter the world of creativity—the world where I must bring something that is mere mist in my mind to life on the fictional page—I’m walking in forests of tangerine trees. I’m on the lookout for falling marmalade. I’m waiting for a newspaper taxi to pull up to the bumper, baby. Lucy reminds me of the same thing Mr. Kite reminds me of—throw it all out the window. Just let the breeze in your thoughtscape bring to you what it will. Go with the flow. Sure, newspaper taxis get wet in the rain—but that never stopped Fred Astaire from singing. Okay, maybe he didn’t have to jump into one of those taxis, but the point there is—when you have rain, make applesauce. I think I’m mixing metaphors and mayhem today. I get that way when I think about Lucy & Mr. Kite. But, that’s the point…isn’t it.

So, little Charlie Bucket, sad little boy. I write for him because we can all picture having nothing and wanting more. Well, except for Prince Pondicherry. When you have a chocolate castle, what more do you need? Charlie Bucket is in every character I write. He is their desire and innocence. My job is to either smack that out of them or give in and allow them to be fulfilled. So, in a way, Charlie is a sliding scale from which I can compare happiness. If my character is hopeless, clearly they are not going to find the golden ticket. They won’t even find the coin that will buy them the chocolate bar that will be enrobed in the golden ticket.

Once I have Lucy and Mr. Kite in my pocket, I am free to be silly when and while I write. Charlie allows me to gauge each characters’ emotional mood, their dreams, their goals—Charlie brings common sense to the table in a very nonsensical way. I mean, clearly Charlie Bucket would have no problem hopping into a newspaper taxi. You need to write for someone with their head in the clouds. These three people are really the same person, are they not? The father, the son and the holy ghost of who I write for.

And then we have the most important person of all! THE. FAT. LADY. Never stop writing for the fat lady.

Franny & Zooey is my ALL-TIME favourite book. Of all time. Seriously. J. D. hit this one so far out of the ballpark, nobody is ever going to get that ball and freeze it in a glass box for the mantle.

Before I get into WHY I write for the fat lady, I want to share my favourite F & Z quote:

“What? Who doesn’t? Exactly what don’t I think isn’t beautiful?” A minor groundswell sounded behind the shower curtain, as though a rather delinquent porpoise were suddenly at play. “Listen, I don’t care what you say about my race, creed, or religion, Fatty, but don’t tell me I’m not sensitive to beauty. That’s my Achilles’ heel, and don’t you forget it. To me, everything is beautiful. Show me a pink sunset and I’m limp, by God. Anything. ‘Peter Pan.’ Even before the curtain goes up at ‘Peter Pan,’ I’m a goddam puddle of tears.” ~ ZOOEY ( ZACHARY MARTIN GLASS) Franny & Zooey by J. D. Salinger

That passage captures Zooey PERFECTLY! That whole bathtub scene—that’s the reason I would love to be a screenwriter, the reason I would love to have just enough money in my bank account to fund the making of a movie. It is the most stunning cinematic moment on the landscape of my own tattered little brain. Franny & Zooey is the most perfect movie never made.

“I want an honorable Goddam skull when I die, buddy.”

Why do I write for the fat lady? Because Zooey told me to do everything I do for the fat lady. (& yes—I can read between the lines. I can guess that Zooey’s fat lady isn’t just that Christ guy, but also his drab little skinny shell of a momma.) I love allegories.

‘Seymour’s told me to shine my shoes just as I was going out the door with Waker. I was furious. The studio audience were all morons, the announcer was a moron, the sponsors were morons, and I just damn well wasn’t going to shine my shoes for them, I told Seymour. I said that they couldn’t see them anyway, where we sat. He said to shine them anyway. He said to shine them for the Fat Lady.’

This fat lady is a good person to write for—because writing for her suggests that you write your best work whether or not anybody will ever see it. You don’t write it for money. You don’t write it for glory. You sure as hell don’t write it to get in on the latest trend—please, mother of God, don’t do this. The next trend has already sailed before you sit down to write! You don’t write it to sit on a shelf beside that trend. You don’t write it for kudos or notoriety or slaps on the back or NYT bestselling status or for your old Aunt Aggie who’ll tell you how fabulous it is. Hell, you don’t even write it for yourself. You write it for that old ball of glory, that fat lady. She sees everything.

WHO DO YOU WRITE FOR? Who you write for says a lot about what you write.

Hey WRITERS! Get Your Game Face On! – Trent U. Oshawa Campus Agent Pitch Workshop!

This one is for everybody in Southern Ontario who will be seeking an agent in the next year or so! It’s a MUST attend workshop that will help you nail the 30-second pitch. Ever try to put together an elevator pitch for your novel? Ever want to jump off a tall building in a single bound out of frustration when trying to get your pitch nailed down? Then this workshop is for you.

Let’s get one thing straight right out of the gate—YES, this workshop is sponsored by the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & YES, the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE is having Blue Pencil Sessions and Agent Pitches at this year’s May 5th conference–BUT this workshop is for EVERYONE. You do not need to be attending the conference to register for the workshop. All you need is a desire to nail down that elusive pitch!

My personal experience with pitches is that they are impossible for me to write. Or, I should say were impossible for me to write. Last year, though, I took a workshop through the WCDR. It was an elevator pitch workshop facilitated by NOELLE BICKLE. In the course of that workshop I went from being extremely frustrated trying to distill a novel down to a pitch to being able to write pitches for two of my novels. GOOD pitches. Really good pitches. Noelle is an excellent facilitator. She took the impossible languages of pitches and queries and helped me to make sense of them.

I wanted others to experience this. It only seemed fitting to get Noelle to develop a workshop for the Ontario Writers’ Conference this year, seeing as we were having agent pitch sessions for the very first time. The conference is thrilled to be hosting this workshop. Noelle’s wisdom could be yours—register today for this April workshop. You’ll be grateful you did!

Writers! Get your Game-Face On

A workshop to help you create a captivating 30-second pitch!

WHEN: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 6:30 – 9 pm

Learn how to pitch a story idea, manuscript or screenplay to editors, publishers and producers WITH CONFIDENCE!!!

Cost: $45 ($40 WCDR/WCYR/WCSC/HHWEN)
Location: Trent University – Oshawa
55 Thornton Road South – Right off the 401 and only 25 minutes east of Toronto!
(parking is free)

To register:
Go to the Ontario Writers’ Conference GET YOUR GAME FACE ON LINK HERE AND REGISTER ONLINE THROUGH PAYPAL
Email info@thewritersconference.com
Call 905-985-4409

DON’T FORGET! WE CREATED THIS WORKSHOP FOR THOSE ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE ON MAY 5th–TO HELP THEM PREPARE FOR PITCHES, BUT ANYONE CAN ATTEND. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO REGISTER FOR THE CONFERENCE TO TAKE THE WORKSHOP.

About the facilitator:
Noelle Bickle is a writer, editor, and certified AWA creative writing facilitator. She is a graduate of Journalism and Public Relations, and alumni of the Humber School for Writers Summer Workshop. She is a certified as a writing workshop facilitator and for almost ten years, has served as guest speaker on achieving leadership and building a thriving business. Noelle has mastered the art of shameless self-promotion.

Workshop sponsored by:

Literati Gala in Durham Region – All are Welcome!

With the arrival of spring comes the annual ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE! This event takes place in the writing hub of Ontario. For those who do not know, Durham Region is a bustling writing community!

The conference takes place in Ajax, Ontario, at the Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility. This blog post, however, is about an Ontario Writers’ Conference hosted event that is open to everybody! Each year the conference has its FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS and it’s ALWAYS open to the public.

Saturday May 5th Conference attendees attend the Friday Evening Festival of Authors for free. The non-conference attending public pays $20 and MUST book ahead (This is because we need numbers for the event venue).

HOW TO REGISTER FOR THE FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS (and pay online via Paypal):

To register for the Festival of Authors, the general public can go to the OWC registration page and CLICK HERE FOR ONLINE REGISTRATION button. This will open a new window. Scroll down to STEP #2 and click the CLICK HERE TO PAY button. This will open again a new window.

In the new window, go here:

Click on the BUY NOW button beneath FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS (if not attending conference). This will take you to Paypal, where you could pay for the Festival using either Paypal or one of the many credit card options.

Once you make the Festival payment, the OWC will receive confirmation and then send you an email verifying your attendance.

WHERE:

Al Dente Restaurant
1305 Pickering Parkway
Pickering, ON L1V 3P2
(905) 839-1200

WHEN:

Friday, May 4th from 7 to 10 pm

WHO:

MARINA NEMAT Author of Prisoner of Tehran & After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed. Marina will be talking about her CANADA READS experience.

EVA STACHNIAK Author of Necessary Lies, The Winter Palace & Garden of Venus.

BRAD SMITH Author of All Hat, One-Eyed Jacks, Busted Flush, Big Man Coming Down Road & Red Means Run.

…AND MORE!

Networking opportunities and superb food will be rounded out by this public event including:

  • entertaining and inspiring author readings
  • opportunities to mingle with Canadian and fellow writers, Indie Presses, Literary magazine reps and traditional publishers
  • exciting prizes and more…

All this in a café-style atmosphere with tantalizing refreshments.

THIS EVENT IS A MUST SEE FOR READERS AND WRITERS ALIKE! And being that it is in Pickering, Ontario, it is mere minutes from Toronto! SO worth the drive!

Remember, you MUST register ahead!

SEE YOU THERE!

The Reasons, The Castle & Whispered Words

Why can’t I get this manuscript to expand!? I’ve pulled it in every direction. I’ve yanked it, stretched it, squeezed it, pinched it. Nothing helps. I love the story, I love the twisted broken family portrayed in the story…but no matter what I try, I can’t get it to grow. The story is what the story is. I keep thinking to myself, ‘You know what, in today’s ebook world…it doesn’t matter. You can sell it as a short story, a novella. You don’t have to stretch it just for the sake of stretching it.’ But then I know…somewhere deep down, I know this is a novel. A novel in hiding. A novel in waiting. These people just won’t tell me any more than they have already told me.

As a writer, do you ever feel like part of your job is to be a seer? A fortune teller? An all-seeing being?

Because I NEVER feel that way. I never feel like the arcs of my characters are my responsibility. I start off thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to have character one do this and character 2 react this way. Then character three is going to come in and glue up all the works’. That’s about all I start with, but by page three character three doesn’t even exist and character one forgot what he was supposed to do and character one hasn’t arrived on the page yet. I always have this thought for a story and then I sit down. From that point on, I’m always at the mercy of the story that wants to be told…not the one I thought I wanted to tell.

The novel I’m griping about right now is one called THE REASONS. I wrote it for the 2008 Muskoka Novel Marathon. It’s the story of a broken dysfunctional family trying to repair itself. I said broken dysfunctional because although all families are dysfunctional, they’re not all broken. The Reasons (Sir name of the family and the title of the book) are a family in a downward spiral. Everything is falling apart. I want to hold off submitting the short novella I have written because something is always telling me that it’s meant to be a full length novel, but that something is not sharing anything else with me. It’s not telling me HOW to make it a full length novel. It’s really quite aggravating, actually.

Maybe it’s time to do what I sometimes do when I’m struggling with a novel. Write dialogue. In essence, write little mini-scripts, little plays getting the characters to open up to me and tell me what they want to say. When I write solid dialogue, I find it’s easier to let the characters take over. So maybe I should take Maggie, Marcy, David and Tobias Reason out of the novel for a few hours and play with them on stage…get them moving around and gesticulating with one another…get them babbling in each others’ faces. If I can concentrate on their conversations for a while, it may just unlock this problem I’m having with trying to expand upon the novel.

I honestly don’t have a problem with novellas. This is not my problem with The Reasons. I just know that it is NOT a novella. I know there is more that this family wants to say and do. I just can’t see around the corners. If I place them on a stage looking at each other, they will have no choice but to start talking. If I can pay attention to what they say, I may just be able to scrape more story together, close the play and get back to the novel in waiting.

It won’t be the first time I took a novel to the stage to stretch it. I suggest this plan of action to anyone who is stuck trying to write their novel. Just take the characters out of the confines of the book long enough to have fun with them. Playwriting is so much different than novel writing…but the one thing that they should both have in common is excellent dialogue. For me, writing dialogue lines for a play comes so much easier than dialogue in a novel. While writing the play, I imagine the characters, I see their movements, their directions…they come to life. So try that…just make sure you put them back into the novel when you’re finished. Don’t let them run willy nilly around while you’re patting yourself on the shoulder for the good effort.

Speaking of playwriting, this past Thursday was the Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival at Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby, Ontario. It was another great event put on by Driftwood Theatre as a fundraiser for their travelling theatre company. I wrote a play for the science lab this year. When I first arrived in my room I think I was a little overwhelmed. There was just so MUCH STUFF! Everywhere I looked, there were props. It was insane. For me, too many things are just as bad as too few. Every year I write a Trafalgar play I get a little worried about what room I’m going to get. You can only use the props inside the room at the time you arrive. If there is nothing there, you rely completely on the actors. If there are piles and piles of props, you kind of run the risk of incorporating too many things into the script.

Last year, my play took place on the stage of the auditorium…hence, having only a podium for a prop. After panicking for about 20 minutes, I relaxed and wrote my play. The year before, I was in the piano room. Obvious props…back to back pianos. YES…I incorporated them into the play. My first year, I found myself in the castle basement…down a dim dark hall that looked like it was neglected for the past 75 years. There were props…but touching them meant the actors would be getting dirty. But, hey, I wasn’t the actor…so, yes, I had them stuffing themselves into dirty closets, and picking up objects that were mostly made of dust and grime.

Fast forward to this year. I walk into the science lab and immediately realize there are a thousand and one things I could use in my play. My first feeling was, “ALRIGHT!” Then I thought, ‘wait a minute…prop overload!!’ It’s kind of like being a fat kid in a candy store. You want everything at once, but you don’t know what to grab first. So, two minutes in…the fat kid is on the floor of the store crying. He doesn’t know what to do! He’s too overwhelmed.

So, though I love that I get a new room every year, I really discovered that the science lab was the hardest one I’ve ever been given. Not because I had nothing to work with, but because I had too much to work with!

I think it turned out okay, though. I had amazing amazing actors yet again! I have never seen a so-so actor at Trafalgar 24. There are no other creative people I have more respect for than the respect I have for actors. And Trafalgar 24 actors are at the top of that respect chain. Screw Brad Pitt and Wynona Ryder…they’re great on screen…but can they come into a castle and see a script for the first time and put on 6 performances of that script that very evening?! I’m guessing no. The Trafalgar 24 actors are amazing! I bow to them. And the directors…I can’t say enough. Every year, this is the year’s best event for me. By the time the gala evening rolls around, it’s almost like I had no part in it at all. I’m just another lucky audience member who gets to take it all in.

SO, this year, my play was ACRONYMS FOR HAPPINESS. I entered the castle at 9pm Thursday night, started writing it at 10pm, after arriving at the science lab. I left the castle at 6am Friday morning. Like every year before, I spent the day horrified, thinking that either my actors or my director—or possibly all of them after forming a posse—were planning to kill me upon my arrival at the castle later Friday evening. I’m always 100% sure I leave behind me an unactable–impossible play. I visualize the actors spending the entire day crying. I see the director tearing the room apart in frustration. This year, since there were SO MANY props in the science lab, my director–in my mind’s eye–spent the day tossing bunsen burners and microscopes and petri dishes around. I was afraid to see the lab…I knew it would be a mess of broken science equipment, and I knew it was all my fault.

Yes…that’s how positive I am every year that I write a bad play. I’m afraid to speak to my actors and director—terrified, actually. But—honestly, I LOVE TRAFALGAR24. Really, I do.

Not only is it a wonderful wonderful evening of great entertainment, but it also helps to fund DRIFTWOOD THEATRE…it helps them take their BARD’S BUS around Southern Ontario and give the public the gift of modern Shakespeare!

I just looked at the title of this post and realized I had one more thing to talk about! Whispered Words! This is the WCDR’s yearly writing contest. Two years ago, they had WICKED WORDS (I received an honourable mention in that contest and my short story, Rabacheeko, was included in the Wicked Words anthology). Last year, they had WILD WORDS (I was a first round judge for Wild Words. I was honoured to have that role. There were so many entries and you really do realize how hard it is to judge a contest like this. The writing was excellent. I loved SO MANY of the entries!). This year, it was WHISPERED WORDS. At next Saturday’s WCDR Breakfast Meeting, the winners of this contest will be announced. I was fortunate enough to make the short list

I still can’t believe my little story made it this far in the competition! I’m hoping this means it gets to be in the anthology, though I’m not sure. Why do I hope this? Because the cover is incredible! The winner of the cover art contest was revealed at a previous breakfast meeting and I immediately fell in love with it. We’ll find out next Saturday who the winners are. I’m hoping a new writer wins…I know it would help them to gain confidence in their writing. I only enter the WCDR contests in order to support the group. My piece already went way further than I expected it to go. I will be excited to see the results played out at the breakfast meeting…everybody in the group is SO supportive of one another. It’s great to see everybody sharing in the wins. We are a large group, the WCDR, but we are also a group of 1. (-:

Check out the world’s greatest writing group:

Hey TORONTO, You Should See What’s Happening in Durham Region’s Thriving Writing Community!

In June, 2011, I wrote a blog post about just how dynamic Durham Region, Ontario is, when it comes to writing. It’s really quite unbelievable, the amount of things going on! And we are just east of Toronto…close enough to make the trip, and SO worth it!

I wanted to revisit that, as there are about to be quite a few events of interest to writers AND readers alike. As well as the theatre crowd!

Click here if you want to read my past post about THE WRITING LIFE EAST OF TORONTO

The first thing I wanted to mention today is something I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of for the past 3 years, and something I will be a part of again in about a week’s time.

Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario

For those who did NOT know, there is an AMAZING castle in Whitby, Ontario, just east of downtown and just off Hwy #2. During the rest of the year, it is an all-girls school. BUT during one wonderful weekend every March it becomes the haunted castle in which TRAFALGAR 24 takes place. This year, that weekend is MARCH 8-9. Trafalgar is a play-creation festival. On Thursday night at 10pm, 7 playwrights will enter the castle. When they are released at 6am Friday morning, they will be leaving 6 brand new plays behind (one of the plays will be written by two playwrights, the other 5 plays will be written by individual playwrights).

At 6am, the directors and actors will enter the castle. They’ll have 8 hours to rehearse the new plays. Once they are finished, the castle will be prepared for the evening gala. This gala includes an audience of some 350 people (split up into 6 smaller audiences who will travel together throughout the castle to view each of the 6 plays), a silent auction filled with WONDERFUL items AND a mile-long dessert table that would make any bakeshop close in shame.

Trafalgar isn’t ONLY a wonderful yearly event that takes place in the thriving creative community of DURHAM REGION, it is also a fund-raising event that allows DRIFTWOOD THEATRE to bring its own unique brand of community to locations throughout Ontario during the summer months. Driftwood has THE BARD’S BUS. Every spring, the theatre group boards the bus and takes SHAKESPEARE to the people! Trafalgar 24 is one of the ways they can do this. Driftwood is a pay-what-you-can travelling theatre group. Watch for them in your Ontario community this coming summer. Make sure you catch their show when it hits your town. You will NOT regret it!

Jeremy Smith is the man behind DRIFTWOOD THEATRE. This morning, he appeared on local radio station CKDO to talk about the Trafalgar 24 event. You can listen in here:

JEREMY SMITH OF DRIFTWOOD THEATRE TALKING TO TERRY JOHNSTON ON CKDO – FRIDAY MARCH 2, 2012

To learn more about Trafalgar 24, including ticket information, visit the Trafalgar 24 page of the DRIFTWOOD THEATRE website here: T24

Event #2 – This is an ongoing event and all are welcome. The WCDR (Writers’ Community of Durham Region) has a monthly breakfast meeting for writers. This event takes place at AJAX CONVENTION CENTRE, which is located just off the 401…and minutes east of Toronto. You can watch a video that showcases these breakfast meetings on Youtube:

WCDR breakfast meeting have guest speakers who are from the spectrum of the writing world. Every meeting is a must see for writers at any stage of their writing path. They meet on the 2nd Saturday of the month. EXCEPT for this month! The March WCDR Meeting will be held on Saturday, March 17th. If you live WEST of Durham Region…it is WORTH the drive to Durham Region to take in this event!

For full information, visit the breakfast page of the WCDR website.

Event #3, #4 & #5 – These three events all have to do with the Ontario Writers’ Conference. I am a board member of the OWC. This year I am looking after conference registrations. We have an incredible line up for the 2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference, but we also have events happening ‘around’ the conference date.

The 1st OWC event, I’ve already featured today on my blog. I’ll just quickly cover it here. GET YOUR GAME FACE ON – Agent Pitch Workshop – This workshop is sponsored by the OWC and will take place Tuesday April 3rd at Trent University, Oshawa Campus. This is open to EVERYONE…not just conference attendees. Full details on the GET YOUR GAME FACE ON page of the Ontario Writers’ Conference

The 2nd OWC event is the FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS! We are taking this to a different location this year. This popular event will now take place on the evening prior to the Ontario Writers’ Conference. This years authors include; MARINA NEMAT, EVA STACHNIAK & BRAD SMITH. Friday May 4th, from 7PM -10PM at Al Dente Restaurant, 1305 Pickering Parkway, Pickering, Ontario. ALL CONFERENCE ATTENDEES CAN ATTEND THE FESTIVAL FREE OF CHARGE. If you are not coming to the Saturday conference, you can still attend the festival, but you MUST register ahead! You can pay the $20 fee at the OWC Paypal page. Click here for full FESTIVAL INFORMATION.

The 3rd OWC event is the conference itself. This takes place on Saturday May 5th at the beautiful DEER CREEK GOLF AND BANQUET FACILITY in Ajax, Ontario. You can check out ALL speakers and workshop presenters here. Workshop descriptions are here.

For REGISTRATION information, click HERE.

There is an EXCELLENT assortment of Ontario Writers’ Conference videos to be found at the OWC Youtube page here. For your immediate viewing pleasure, here’s a look at last year’s guest speaker Andrew Pyper:

So, if you live in Toronto…know that you are missing out on an AMAZING thriving artistic community just outside your doors. Don’t be afraid to make the trip east. We’re JUST OUTSIDE Scarborough.

Dr. Seuss is a Birthday Cake We Should Always Eat & OWC Agent Pitch Workshop!

Oh, the fun you will have. Oh, the places you’ll go. If you just let your hair down, at least on one side.

Is one ever too old for Dr. Seuss? This may be one of the most fascinating philosophical questions of the 21st Century. Or it may just be a device I thought up to write this blog post. But it truly is a very good question to ask—especially if one is a writer. In fact, I might just be a genius to have come up with it. Especially on such a Seussical day as this. If the good Dr. were alive today, I’d make him the biggest great cake that he ever did see. I’d decorate it in such an extravagant way, and perch it way high in the highest big tree.

Happy Birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, you finest of men, you elegant worder. You wielder of pen, you magic rhyme herder!

A note to all writers out there in the land of Seuss: Go to the bookstore, go to your shelf, pick up a Seuss book, go back to your core! Be a fine word elf, indulge in a language that turns in on itself. ABCs or Horton or Who! Wherever you wander, you’ll run into you.  “From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere” in the great land of Seuss.

Be a child today, pick up a Seuss. Try to remember that this thing you do, this writing thing, is something you do because you love words. If you’re anything like me, Seuss has a lot to do with your love of language. Don’t forget your roots. And whatever you do, never grow up! And when words drive you crazy, just never give up!

One more thing before I go!

There is a fantastic Ontario Writers’ Conference PRE-CONFERENCE workshop taking place on APRIL 3rd, at the Oshawa Campus of Trent University! Noelle Bickle will lead workshop attendees through the agent pitch! I’ve taken a WCDR After Breakfast Mini-Workshop in which Noelle taught the elevator pitch. It completely opened my eyes, both to the importance of the pitch and the essence of distilling your manuscript down to the size of a pitch. Now, you too can attend a workshop that will walk you through the agent pitch. Learn how to approach an agent properly. This is an Ontario Writers’ Conference sponsored workshop—which will nicely prepare those OWC 2012 Conference attendees for agent pitches on conference day, but it is also open to any and all who would like to attend. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to improve your chances with an agent. All the details are available on the Ontario Writers’ Conference website (along with a Paypal Link to allow you to register online for the workshop).

The gist is:

A workshop to help you create a captivating 30-second pitch!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
6:30 – 9 pm

Learn how to pitch a story idea, manuscript or screenplay to editors, publishers and producers WITH CONFIDENCE!!!
Cost: $45 ($40 WCDR/WCYR/WCSC/HHWEN)
Location: Trent University – Oshawa
55 Thornton Road South
(parking is free)

CLICK THE LOGO BELOW TO GO TO THE SITE AND LEARN ALL THE DETAILS: