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


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.



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:
Email info@thewritersconference.com
Call 905-985-4409


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).


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.


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


Friday, May 4th from 7 to 10 pm


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.


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!