2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference, IF YOU DARE!

The Ontario Writers’ Conference have done it again! This week they announced the addition of Canada’s Horror King, Andrew Pyper, to their list of speakers! (click on the image below to go to the OWC website’s bio of Andrew Pyper)

Andrew-Pyper

Pyper is no stranger to the Ontario Writers’ Conference stage. He spoke a couple years back. He’s charming and extremely funny, the perfect addition to what looks like an extraordinary year for the conference!

In case you have not yet registered for the conference, now is a great time to do so. With a little over a month left to go before the conference date, I’m quite sure space is filling up fast. You DON’T want to miss Andrew Pyper.

Along with Pyper, of course, you will also get to see the wonderfully gregarious and charming WAYSON CHOY, the conference’s Honourary Patron. Wayson has been with the conference since its inception. He’s a dear friend to all of us involved with the conference, past, present and future. I thoroughly enjoy my Wayson time. There is something absolutely magical about that man. You will have to attend the conference to experience it. I always joke about being a member in the Church of Wayson, but to tell you the truth…it is never a joke. I adore him completely. (Click on the picture below to view Wayson’s bio at the OWC website)

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These are just two of the many amazing facilitators/speakers that the Ontario Writers’ Conference has lined up this year. You can head over to the Speaker/Facilitator page for the full listing:

ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE 2014 SPEAKER & FACILITATOR LINE-UP!

You can check out the conference schedule here:

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

 

Treat yourself to a remarkable writing adventure this May. Give yourself the gift of knowledge and register for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. You’ll be glad you did.

REGISTRATION PAGE

Don’t forget that there’s a gala event on Friday that is open to the public. You do not need to attend the conference to take in the FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS.

I’m excited that my writing instructor and mentor from Kenya, Catherine Bush, is in the line-up for Friday’s Festival of Authors. I adore her writing, and it’s always amazing to hear the words directly from the author. I’m so looking forward to it! (Click on the image below to go to Catherine Bush’s bio on the OWC website)

Catherine-Bush

This event takes place in Ajax, Ontario…which is mere minutes from downtown Toronto. VENUE & DIRECTIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE. Hope to see you there!

 

 

2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference – Give Yourself a Gift that Keeps on Giving!

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If you’re a writer living in Ontario (OR BEYOND), I hope you are considering attending this year’s Ontario Writers’ Conference. You owe it to yourself to register. This year’s schedule is looking top notch, yet again. Even when I was on the OWC Board of Directors, I was always surprised and thrilled that the conference attracted such amazing speakers and facilitators. But then, I shouldn’t be. I know how diligent the worker bees behind the conference are. They are always striving to bring registrant writers the best of the best of Canadian literati…to help them along on their own personal writing journeys. We always looked at the conference in a ‘who-would-we-want-to-see?’ sort of way. If we could create the perfect environment for learning, who would we surround ourselves with? And then the building of the next conference would begin. I so miss that part! The planning was so exciting.

This year, they really outdid themselves. Just look at the schedule! On Friday, there are THREE MASTER CLASSES in the afternoon:

NICHOLAS BOOTHMAN – PACKAGE YOUR EXPERTISE

WAYSON CHOY – LIVING DANGEROUSLY: WRITE WHAT MATTERS

SHERRY COMAN – TRANSFORMATIONS: THE ART OF ADAPTATION

Let me tell you a little something about Wayson Choy. He’s a natural teacher/nurturer. He could read you his grocery list and you would come away filled with new knowledge, beautifully given. He’s a tremendous soul who shares everything he has. No holds barred. When he is in a room, he is 100% present…and it shows. I’m registered for Wayson’s Master Class. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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Wayson Choy – Ontario Writers’ Conference Honorary Patron since its inception. Master Class Facilitator for 2014.

Friday Evening will once again be a time for celebration! The FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS is always an exciting element of the conference. It’s the let-your-hair-down party that comes after the intensive Master Classes of Friday and before the full day of workshops on Saturday. Every year the organizing committee rounds up an impressive list of readers from the literati well and has them read from their latest offering. Always a great time to be had by all!

Facilitators on hand this year for Saturday’s workshops and plenary session are: Allyson Latta, Anne MacLachlan, Annette McLeod, Andrew Borkowski, Brett Savory, Allison Baggio, Sam Hiyate, Shannon Moroney, Gwynn Scheltema, Erin Bow, Rich Helms, Priscila Uppal, Jodi White, and, Christina Potter.

There will also be Blue Pencil Mentors and Literary Agents on hand to give Practice Pitches and Manuscript Mentoring. For a full description of these value added features to the conference, and a full mentor list, CLICK HERE.

The lunch speaker and closing speaker have yet to be announced, but you can rest assured that they will be fantastic. They always are. If you haven’t registered yet, I honestly don’t know what’s stopping you. This is the year. The time is now. Give yourself this gift. You deserve to enrich your passion!

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CLICK HERE TO BE TAKEN TO THE REGISTRATION PAGE!

See you there!

2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference – A Must Attend Event!

I cannot believe that the Ontario Writers’ Conference has made yet another journey around the sun! It is once again on the horizon, folks! This year, for me, it’s going to be a totally different ballgame. (-: This will be the first year since the conference’s inception that I am not involved in the organization of the event. This gives me a great SAD! But I was not turfed from my space at the Board of Directors table. I left willingly. Sometimes, one has to step aside from their passions in order to allow a new infusion of blood. Change is the cornerstone of success for things like this. After about eight years, it was time for me to step down and allow room for somebody else to feel the passion. So, there you have it. I will NOT be organizing the conference this coming year.

Having said this, I am more than thrilled to announce that I will be in attendance at the conference. I just signed the contract to be a BLUE PENCIL MENTOR. My heart broke a little–in a good way–last evening when Madam President put forward the invitation. I responded immediately in the affirmative.

This means I can talk up the conference as much as I always have, without looking a bit like a stalker for doing so. With my foot in the door for this 6th OWC event, I can sing its praises until the cows come home! (-:

So…wherever you are in Ontario–or the world, for that matter–make it your duty to register for the 2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference! You will thank me…and you will thank yourself. The tireless & passionate volunteers involved in this conference create a more wonderful experience each year for those who attend. Since its inception, I have heard the same refrain every single year from registrants– “THIS WAS THE BEST YEAR EVER!”

Make sure you’re there in 2014 for “…THE BEST YEAR EVER!”

Though I am not involved in the organization this year, I’ve a feeling the website will soon be blossoming forth with next year’s details. So visit them now and bookmark the site, so you can be kept abreast of any announcements!

Give the logo below a little click to swing on over!

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From Ontario Writers’ Conference to Writers’ Community of Durham Region…

So, I’m about to step into a new role on the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) Board of Directors. This was something I considered for a couple years. I was on the board several years ago, when I first joined the organization. After finishing an approximate 8 year stint on the Ontario Writers’ Conference Board of Directors, I felt it was time for a change. I cherish both organizations. I’ve seen a lot of growing pains and wonderful achievements through my stretch on the OWC board. The yearly conference is now running extremely smoothly. I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished. (click on the logo below to go to the OWC site)

It’s easy to walk away from something when it’s sparkling with achievement. And it’s easy as well to step onto another project when it too is sparkling with achievement. I’m going from one golden goose to another. Both of these organizations have much to be proud of…as both are run by dedicated and passionate people who do their best to present the public with a shining example of what an organization should be and how an organization should be run. The move, for me, is so simple. Though two completely separate entities, both organizations’ boards are populated with friends who are like-minded in their determination to make the creative writing community in their area among the best writing communities in the world. Both the WCDR and the OWC have become synonymous with par excellence.

Though I have finished my tenure with the OWC, I will continue to promote the conference here and elsewhere. You may be hearing a lot more about the WCDR from this point onward. What some nearby communities need to know is that the WCDR hosts monthly breakfast meetings that are an excellent source of networking and learning for writers. I hope to help spread the word about the organization and make its reach a little broader over the next couple of years. I would like to see Torontonians heading east to Ajax to take advantage of our community. These breakfast meetings are open to anyone who would care to attend. They are welcoming to writers of all levels and they have excellent industry speakers delivering valuable information in an amazingly friendly atmosphere of camaraderie.

I wish the Ontario Writers’ Conference a lifetime of success. I’m planning on attending now that I will be free to take it in from the other side of the desk and I’m really looking forward to that experience. Working with the organization has been such an amazing gift…I will miss the people and the process and the excitement of putting the yearly event together.

Come June, I will be the Vice President of an organization that has helped my growth as a writer TREMENDOUSLY over the past decade! As I step onto the Writers’ Community of Durham Region board, I urge others who have benefited from a non-profit volunteer organization to VOLUNTEER. It’s the best way I know of to show appreciation for the gifts you have received from said organization. You will find that by volunteering, you enrich your own experience with the organization too. By giving, you receive more! 🙂

(Click on the logo below to go to the WCDR site)

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The Progression of a Play, a Conference and a Novel

I know my 3rd novel just released under a week ago! I know I should be promoting it like crazy. I feel guilty for not doing more. But I have my reasons.

Yesterday was the last day for registrations for the 2013 Ontario Writers’ Conference. I’m the registrations coordinator. I spent most of my ‘free’ time copy/pasting info to create attendance sheets for all the workshops, master classes, etc. AND last night I attended the first rehearsal for my 2013 InspiraTO Festival play, PERFECT TIMING. The play is being directed by Kim Sprenger. I won’t announce the actors yet, as I’m not sure that’s appropriate.

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I venerate actors so much it’s ridiculous. I can’t help it. Having said that, I don’t think I venerate actors enough. After a short greeting at the rehearsal last night, the two actors for my play began a run-through of the lines and it was brilliant. I am always amazed by the way actors can immediately interpret a role. They were both just SO perfect. The female character is extremely off-the-wall and out there. If you’ve seen any of my previous 5 plays, this won’t come as much of a surprise to you. (-: But last night, watching the ‘sedate’ male character come to life on the stage…I realized just how much talent is involved in bringing every nuance of a character to the role. My droll little character got a serious injection of hilarious in the more than capable hands of _____________. (Really…once I know it’s okay, I will definitely let you know who the performers are.)

As the night progressed, each actor added little bits of stage business that infused the play with life. And the director seemed to know each infinitesimal moment that something could be tweaked just right. She’d say, “maybe you could just…” and sure enough, it would be the PERFECT addition.

I honestly don’t know how they do it.

I felt like an idiot just sitting there and laughing. I arrived with the notion that the writer is the bottom of the totem, that I should be seen but not heard. Apart from the laughter, I think I did a pretty good job. I was observer. And I was in awe of all three of those present. I could tell that PERFECT TIMING was in perfect hands. These 3 are going to knock it OUT OF THE PARK! Brilliant people!

Enough of plays! I feel a plug for my novel is now in order. Speaking of brilliant, I was blessed to have an exceptional editor for my 3rd novel, THE REASONS. Helen Hardt was a complete blessing during the editorial process. Like Kim Sprenger knew just how to tweak my play, Helen Hardt knew just how to tweak my novel. I suppose that’s what an editor is, really…the director of the book. Anyway, I am extremely pleased about THE REASONS. It’s been getting some excellent feedback this week. The 5-stars are appearing! It’s such a quirky book, I was afraid what would happen to it once it saw the light of day. It’s dual narrated, and one of the narrators just happens to be certifiably insane. I took chances with this one. I’m beginning to hear that they have paid off!

If you click on the book cover below, you will be taken to my AMAZON page, where all three of my books will be listed. If you purchase The Reasons, you will be saving me from my guilt! I should be promoting this more…my publisher, MUSA PUBLISHING, is fantastic. They deserve my full attention and I certainly wish I could give it to them. (You can also purchase the book directly from the publisher…at this time it seems to be the first book listed on their home page, in the FEATURED BOOKS section.)

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So with registrations closed for the 5th ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE, we are on the home stretch. The conference is, at the time of this writing, eight days away! Friday night’s FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS will be a splashy gala with wonderful authors reading and entertaining. The amazing TED BARRIS will be interviewing the readers this year. Festival attendants are in for a great surprise. Ted’s a fascinating interviewer…highly respected! If you’re not registered for Saturday‘s conference, you CANNOT come. Sorry. You missed the deadline. The good news is, tickets are available at the door for the Festival of Authors! ($20 each)

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I think it’s okay to mention here that this will be my last year on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. Having served on the board since its inception, the conference is–and will always be–a passion of mine. I just felt it was time to move on for now. A great board is one that changes. I will definitely be attending the conference next year…as a registrant. I’m looking forward to it…seeing the conference from the other side. (-: Speaking of board changes, I have put my hat in the ring to serve–once again–on the Board of Directors for the WRITERS COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION. This community is another passion of mine. With any luck, I will get a board position. It’s time for change–for me. I felt the perfect transition from serving on the OWC board would be to serve on the WCDR board. Wish me luck!

This concludes my regularly scheduled convoluted post about all the things going on in my writing life!

5th Anniversary Conference – Ontario Writers’ Conference

When I first met with the rest of the planning committee for the Ontario Writers’ Conference, I had no idea the conference would be so successful, so appreciated, so fulfilling. Coming up on our 5th conference (and our 7th year of planning), I see that we have become a vital part of the writing landscape of Ontario. And I’m so very proud of this fact.

We recently announced the recipient of our 2013 Student Scholarship to the conference. If you missed the boat on this one this year, keep your ear to the ground next winter. We announce the nomination process for this scholarship early in the winter. You can read a bit about this year’s recipient, SPENCER HAZE, here: OWC STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP ANNOUNCED

We’re thrilled to have WAYSON CHOY back with us this year. Wayson has been with us since the OWC’s inception. His giving heart and open soul have supplied many a magical memories for our attendees (not to mention the committee–who are still thoroughly enthralled with Wayson). Never was this more visually obvious than when those leaving Wayson’s lecture series last year came out of the room waving origami butterflies in the air. It was an amazing moment. Adults went into that lecture, but children came out. Wayson has that ability.

The committee is always committed to finding the best speakers, facilitators, panelists, agents, mentors, venue, etc. We do it because we attempt to create the one yearly event that we ourselves would want to attend. We do not get paid for this. We are an army of volunteers…and we love creating this space for writers to converge on every year. Yes…it’s a tiring job. But it’s also an exciting thing to see the conference come together every year. I am constantly amazed on the day of the conference–to see it all operate so efficiently. Sometimes I just sit there and think, “we did this!”

That we is a royal we. Not only does the committee come together every year to knock this thing out of the park, but we are also blessed with an amazing cavalry of student volunteers, sponsors, venue staff and the like. It takes a community to run such a stunning ship. And I do believe that we are blessed to have the greatest group of registrants one can imagine. Every year, it’s the people who attend our conference that make it special and magical. I can’t wait to see what this year’s crowd brings to our abundant table! I hope you count yourself among our fearless attendees!

REGISTRATIONS FOR THE MAY 3-4 CONFERENCE ARE STILL BEING TAKEN. BUT YOU MUST REGISTER BY APRIL 24th! DON’T MISS OUT IN THE MAGIC!

Don’t forget to LIKE us on FACEBOOK!

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OWC Honorary Patron - WAYSON CHOY
OWC Honorary Patron – WAYSON CHOY

Ontario Writers’ Conference May 2013

Today, I’m sharing a media release from the ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE. I’m a founding member on their Board of Directors. If you do one thing for your writing self this year, it should be register and attend our 2013 conference on May 3rd-4th in Ajax, Ontario. The release follows:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Where writers gather, stories grow

Ontario Writers’ Conference full schedule announced, deadline to register is March 31st

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TORONTO, MARCH 18, 2013

Writers of all genres from across Ontario and beyond will be congregating to develop their writing, editing and marketing skills in Ajax, Ontario, on May 3rd and 4th at the fifth annual Ontario Writers’ Conference.

The final lineup of workshops and lectures has been announced and the roster offers something for every writer. Back by abundant demand and favoured for their in-depth knowledge and exceptional coaching skills are conference veterans Gwynn Scheltema (How Many Characters Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?), Annette McLeod (Casting Your Characters), and Mark Leslie Lefebvre (The Ins and Outs of Digital Self-Publishing).

A recent addition to the schedule will have Young Adult authors racing to Lynne Missen’s workshop, ‘Working Between the Lines: Y/A Editor & Author Relationship.’ Workshops for screenwriters, memoirists, fiction and non-fiction writers also top the bill.

With so many factors affecting the publishing world and creating a paradigm shift, a powerful plenary session is scheduled at the conference to discuss ‘What is the New Literary?’ Two of the industry’s most thought-provoking professionals, Maria Cootauca from Wattpad and Christopher Frey from Hazlitt Mag, will share from their experience and advise based on their wisdom (with a little gut instinct thrown in!).

For skilled writers who want to transport their craft to the next level, the Ontario Writers’ Conference offers Master Classes on Friday, May 3rd: ‘We Write Who We Are,’ facilitated by Jessica Outram, explores “autoethnography”– writing about the self within the context of culture, politics and environment. Writers can get ‘Voice Lessons’ from Sue Reynolds, who will skillfully clarify what voice is and the elements that contribute to it. Ed Greenwood will help storytellers ‘Make a BIG Scene!’ with pacing and long-term plotting for a series to bring stories to life.

OWC delegates will be thoughtfully encouraged to write from their hearts by delightfully charismatic honorary patron Wayson Choy. Mr. Choy, an iconic Canadian and author of The Jade Peony, Paper Shadows and All That Matters: A Chinatown Childhood, has won the Trillium Book Award, and been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and Governor General’s Award. He has also been named a member of the Order of Canada.

In its fifth year, the Ontario Writer’s Conference continues to celebrate all forms of art. Partnering in previous years with playwrights and songwriters, the 2013 Ontario Writers’ Conference will feature visual arts. The conference website has displayed three extraordinary works by a three Ontario artists and invited writers to enter a piece of writing inspired by these works.

The top five entries for each of three Story Starters writing contests (that have been selected by author/instructor/local celeb Ruth E. Walker) will be displayed at the conference on May 4th at Deer Creek Golf and Conference Centre in Ajax, Ontario. Delegates will review and vote for their favourite. The three winning entries will be announced and each winner will be awarded a prize.

Registration deadline for this year’s Ontario Writers’ Conference is March 31st, 2013. Those interested in attending are encouraged to register quickly to secure their desired workshops. For more information, visit thewritersconference.com, email bhunt@thewritersconference.com, or phone 905-985-4409.

Presented by Ontario Writers’ Conference, an annual event held the first weekend in May in the Greater Toronto Area. Writers of all abilities and genres enjoy educational, challenging and interactive workshops led by industry professionals and an impressive range of speakers on the art and skill of writing and related industry topics.

Email bhunt@thewritersconference.com for interviews.

We hope to see you there!

 

Word by Word – A Song Collaboration with my Brother!

Every year for the Ontario Writer’s Conference, the organizing committee chooses a handful of people to participate in an exercise that highlights some form of writing. It’s a little treat that we put on for the attendees. In 2011, we had some playwrights create skits and some volunteer actors perform them. In 2012, we decided to have songwriters put together songs and invite an artist to perform them. Being on the Board of Directors, I had some sway. (-: I was one of the songwriters and my brother, George Craig, was the performer. Here is my brother performing WORD BY WORD for the 2012 Ontario Writers’ Conference attendees. I wrote the lyrics, and George put them to music. I’m extremely proud to share my talented brother with you all! Enjoy!

September – #1 With a Bullet

Another hectic September. Surprise, surprise. I should have seen this coming. Not that I’m complaining!

I think this coming week is the busiest. Tonight is a committee meeting for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. We are heading into full-swing planning and organizing for our May, 2013 conference. This is a labour of love for each and every one of us on the committee. Our vision was to create an atmosphere of learning and a celebration of words. Even at our busiest, this is a wonderful project we deeply love. Look for 2013 updates to start springing up soon on the OWC website, as well as through social media.

Maybe I should have used a more apropos word when I said HECTIC. Is a string of parties, celebrations, etc. really something one could call hectic? September is always busy, but it’s also always the best time of the year. Lots of great things happening.

This coming weekend, we are off to Huntsville for the 2012 Muskoka Novel Marathon Wrap Party! Best Novel Award winners will be announced, as well as all the participant-voted prizes for things such as B.I.C. and Spirit Award. It won’t matter in the least who wins any of these things. Clearly, everybody who took part in the marathon has already won (as evidenced by the photo below!)!

$15,000 raised for literacy! From left to right: Rob Armstrong, CEO, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Fiona Cascagnette, Vice President, Child Development, Family Support and Community Programs, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Nancy West, Team Leader, Huntsville Employment and Literacy Services, YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka; Paula Boon, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor; Karen Wehrstein, Muskoka Novel Marathon 2012 Co-Convenor.

Yes. That is a cheque for $15,000.00. That’s what the marathon raised this year to put into the ring and fight against illiteracy. The MNM is such an amazing event. I can’t say enough about it…but in the end, it’s the money raised for literacy that matters. Everything else is just the icing.

There will also be a workshop on Saturday, after the wrap party…and the MNM contingent will probably walk to the next leg of the three event day—Supper at THE COTTAGE. We’re a pretty big family, the MNM contingent—so I feel for the poor restaurant. They’re in for quite a swarming. (-: I do think it’s great that we will be able to break bread together again, though. A lot happens during the July marathon weekend. In 72 hours, you write a novel AND discover that you are a part of a new family—a family that eats and sleeps and laughs and cries and sings together. We probably do so much more than that also, but—it’s complicated. (-;

To explore the history and the future of the MNM, click on the chair! (-:

There are happenings right up to the end of September…some big and some small. They’re all awesome, though. Hope you’re enjoying YOUR September. Just like every other month on the calendar, blink and it’s gone. Remember to capture the moments. (-:

(If you’re in Oshawa this coming Thursday, drop into Boston Pizza on Taunton just east of Harmony. My younger brother will be jamming there in the evening. (-:)