Thoughts on the End of a Year

As 2018 draws to an end, I suppose it’s time for another one of those all-encompassing posts of reflection and upcoming things. It’s been an exciting year in several ways. Not the least of which was our trip to India and Nepal this past September. Hard to believe it was so long ago, but it’s been my experience that the BER months come in and out of existence in the blink of an eye. Just as they are the most dreaded months on the calendar for me, they are also the ones that race by the quickest. I suppose it’s the old tired year making that last ditch sprint to the finish line, eager to be done with itself. Maybe the year itself doesn’t even like its last few months.

lake ontario.jpg
I sometimes forget that we have beauty right here at home, in our own backyard. Though I found myself on the other side of the planet this year, I also discovered beauty here in Ontario. If we close our eyes to our own beauty, we miss so much. Don’t forget that you can TRAVEL at home. All you need is time and a sense of adventure. Discover the world, yes…but don’t close your eyes to the world around you because it’s too near. Wanderlust begins at your front door…not necessarily at the airport. (Waterfront Trail – Ajax, Ontario. October, 2018)

2018 has been a year filled with writerly stuff, even though I feel I did so very little actual writing. I don’t know how that keeps happening, but it does. I think it’s the mark of a true charlatan to pull off something like this…to appear to be something you wouldn’t really be under close scrutiny. Does one have to constantly practice the art of the thing they brazenly call themselves to actually be that thing? Does writing need to take place before one can call themselves a writer? Who polices these things anyway?

received_1826002547513324.jpeg
Nepal. After visiting the birthplace of Buddha in Lumbini (Once in India, but now in Nepal), we stayed at Barauli Community Homestay. A bike-ride through the village was the most delightful thing you could imagine. I have no idea why I’m not smiling in this picture. I felt euphoric the whole time I was on that bike.

But not everything is about writing. Sometimes a writer is merely a collector of memories. We meticulously store and catalogue the world in our unreliable memory banks so that we can access the information at a later date and spew it out inaccurately through our own renditions of truth and memory. We bury memories and unearth them later, tarnished and dented, and pound them into a slightly accurate rendition of what they really were when we lived them. Is that a close description of fiction? Truth in the lies…a crooked lens portraying something that could pass as plausible if we manage to suspend our disbelief and mis-remember just enough to cloud it all over in a whimsical world that wouldn’t accurately sit atop the one in which we actually live? Anyway…I lived some in 2018 so that I may write about it later…

I believe we fell in love with Nepal in 2018. It was a little unexpected, but not a surprise. First it was Pokhara, with its simple orderly streets calming our hearts after the whirlwind insanity of the heart-breakingly beautifully chaotic streets of India. Don’t get me wrong, I could LIVE in the streets of India. The beauty stole my breath on countless occasions. But getting out of the bus in Pokhara was like releasing a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. It was a relatively calm environment juxtaposed against India. There was a new order we somehow didn’t realize we didn’t have up to that point in our journey. In Pokhara, we exhaled. The pictures above are mostly of Kathmandu, but the one with us in a boat was taken in Pokhara on a magical day when we climbed a mountain to see a gorgeous stupa majestically claiming the peak as its forever home.

20180927_124306-EFFECTS.jpg
The Shanti Stupa at the top of the world, overlooking the peaceful beauty of Phewa Lake and the wonder that is the city of Pokhara, Nepal, just beyond its idyllic waters.

Before Nepal, came INDIA. It was a lifelong dream of mine to visit India. I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to go there. I hoped I would eventually get there, but with most big ticket bucket-list items…one sometimes worries they won’t ever check it off. It being at the top of my list, I’m so happy to have fulfilled the lifelong dream. And we saw so much of it. Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Varanasi…it was all beautiful, all breathtaking, all heartwarming. But the jewel, for me, was a place that had never made it to that childhood wish and hope and dream place of stepping foot in India. The jewel, for me, was ORCHHA. What a wonder. You can read about our time in ORCHHA HERE.

20180920_125730.jpg
My feet failed to touch the ground in mesmerizingly beautiful and magical ORCHHA. I’ll never forget this city.  One gets to discover only a few heart homes in their lifetime, if they’re lucky. This was definitely one of mine.

Yes, 2018 was a fantastic year for world travel. We had a blast. Even our own Ottawa, Ontario was a highlight for me. I had never been there, though it is only a few hundred kilometres away. Travel your doorstep…if you don’t, you’re missing out on some fantastic stuff.

IMG_20180811_170231_212
MY first trip to Ottawa was this past summer. We did the Hop On Hop Off. I LOVE Ottawa! Especially the market!
IMG_-ssk4nq
Did I mention I walked in my first Pride Parade this summer? Toronto. Amazing experience!

Now, on to my WRITER life in 2018. I stepped up to the WCDR Board of Directors this year, as well…part of my writerly-stuff immersion. I am currently the Membership Coordinator for the writing organization. I recently sat on a panel at a WCDR Monthly Network Meeting, too. As an industry professional, if you can dig it. 2018 also saw the birth of NOVEL #6 for me! Though I signed the contract for PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE in the closing month of 2017, it hit the world in February of this past year. I also sold NOVEL #7 I WILL TELL THE NIGHT in 2018. It will see birth into the world in the opening months of 2019.

IMG_eq0dsb
Book Baby #6 PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE! February 6, 2018.

It wasn’t an entirely unproductive year for me. Two books placed and one looking for a home. I’m extremely hopeful of the one on submission. It was such a thrill to write…my baby. Oh, and I also began another novel…at the 2018 Muskoka Novel Marathon. I swear, if I didn’t do this once-a-year 72 hr novel writing marathon I probably couldn’t call myself a writer at all. It’s where I do the lion’s share of my yearly writing. That’s bad, isn’t it? That I could distill my entire writing year into 3 days? Ugh. I need more discipline. I need a more solid writing schedule. Do we still make goals for ourselves in JANUARY? Maybe my resolution should be to WRITE MORE.

I already know what’s in store for me in January, though. EDITING! I begin the editing process of bringing I WILL TELL THE NIGHT to the stage. I adore the book, actually…and I’m looking forward to working with my editor on it. It’s a shift from my recent spat of YOUNG ADULT novels…as it’s an adult contemporary. We shall see how this goes. I’m told it will be releasing sometime in the new year. I look forward to the arduous editing stage AND, even more so, to finding out how the publisher interprets the story into a COVER! Muse did a lovely job with my PRIDE cover.

Any more writerly things in 2018? Let’s see. I DID work on several short stories. One of which I published on Amazon and Kobo. LIGHT NEAR THE END OF THE WORLD is available to read. It’s a short story I set on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The Camino is a passion and an obsession for me. I wrote several stories set on its sacred pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

I believe that rounds out the year for writing. In the new year, I hope to complete my 2018 MNM novel…though I’m not sure what I will do with it. It’s a middle grade novel and I’m not quite sure the world is ready for it. We shall see. (-;

Here’s to a wonderful 2019. May you reach your goals and set new and exciting ones. May you have some dreams come true and nightmares end. Whatever you seek, my hope is that you find it. Open yourself to possibility and wonder. I find it helps you to discover it. HAPPY END OF 2018!

Now go forth and pick up a copy of my 2018 novel PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, if you haven’t yet done so. Really, it’s on sale at Amazon at less than the price of a latte. Also, you might actually enjoy it more…just click on the cover below…

36315117
PICK IT UP AT AMAZON TODAY!

 

 

I’m on a Panel! At the December WCDR Monthly Network Meeting

I’ve been talking about the WCDR ever since I began blogging. For those who missed it, the WCDR is the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. They are one of the most vibrant writing organizations in Canada, if not the world. I’m biased, I’m sure…but it’s a very active writing community just outside Toronto (East of the city). They’re about 300 members strong and they meet once a month in Whitby, Ontario for an interesting and informative hands-on writing event. Each meeting, there’s a guest author/speaker/agent/publishing professional/etc that leads the group into a morning of writing craft discussion. I’ve been a member since 2003. I am currently serving on the board of directors for the organization, as Membership Coordinator.

On Saturday December 8th we’ll be meeting for our annual special holiday gathering. This is the month where the WCDR puts together a panel of WCDR members who have some knowledge of their own to share with the rest of the writing community. As all families do, we also celebrate the holiday season at this last meeting of the year. I’m honoured to have been asked to sit on the panel this year. I’ll be there answering any writing related questions that might come up from the membership and guests in attendance, alongside RICH HELMS, JACKIE BROWN, and BARBARA HUNT.

It’s not too late to register for this meeting…and you don’t have to be a WCDR member to attend. Come check it out. It’s worth getting out of bed early on a Saturday morning and it’s ALSO worth sneaking across that chasm east of Scarborough into the land of Durham Region. I know…it’s hard to imagine there’s a world EAST OF THE CITY…but there is…and it’s extremely friendly to writers of all levels of achievement. If you’re on the writing path or even just considering jumping into the path, the WCDR is the place for you!

REGISTER FOR THE WCDR HOLIDAY PANEL NETWORK MEETING HERE!

Registration for this meeting is $15 for members online or $17 for non-members. You can even just show up at the door and pay $18. Typically the December meeting is the most populated one…so I suggest registering early!

Learn more about the WCDR HERE

 

Book Giveaway and Update…

Just a quick post to let you know I’m having a book giveaway contest over at my TWITTER ACCOUNT. To enter to win a signed copy of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, all you have to do is RETWEET my PINNED TWEET and FOLLOW ME if you’re not already doing so. You have until April 20th, 2018 to enter!

books.jpg
Copies of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE, my 6th novel!

Also, while I have you, I will be at the APRIL WCDR NETWORKING MEETING in Whitby, Ontario, and I will have copies of PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE for purchase.

The April Network Meeting is on:

Saturday, April 21st – Monthly Network Meeting with Megan Beadle on Agents – Find One. Sign One. Scholarship winners will also be announced.

Registration is not yet open, but if you keep checking back on the WCDR website…it should be opening soon. If you’re in the GTA, you should come check it out. April sounds like a pretty good meeting to try out the organization. Hope to see you there!

Don’t forget to head over to Twitter to enter the giveaway!

Looking to purchase an e-copy of Pride Must Be A Place? You can find it here:

AMAZON KINDLE USA

AMAZON KINDLE CANADA

KOBO

BARNES & NOBLE NOOK

 

Brussels Bound & Making Use of Member Benefits (WCDR)

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but it’s always good to throw out a reminder to WCDR members that they should take advantage of all the benefits membership opens up to them.

For those who have not yet heard of one of Canada’s most vibrant writing communities, the WCDR stands for Writers Community of Durham Region. Durham Region is JUST east of Toronto, Ontario. The group for writers is over 300 strong. Membership is open to all, whether or not you live in the area…though if you do live in the area you would more easily get to participate in many of the writing events that take place there. They have an almost monthly Roundtable Breakfast Meeting in Whitby, reading events, workshops, small writing circles, etc, etc, etc.

By taking part in some of the member benefits, writers can gain experience, knowledge, connections, publishing credits and more. One of the best benefits is the Wordweaver Newsletter that the organization puts out. It is ONLY open for members to submit to, and it’s a paying publication. This benefit gives new writers a great opportunity to gain publication credits, as well as helps to offset the cost of membership.

Another great benefit that WCDR members have is access to the great array of writing grants. Their Grants & Scholarships Program is open only to members and they are always free to apply to.

As well as all of these things, there is always a discounted member fee on the workshops and writing programs on offer through the WCDR. And it’s always a good idea to upgrade your writing skills by attending workshops.

So, if you happen to be a WCDR member and you’re not taking advantage to all the benefits the organization has to offer you, start doing so today. Hit any of the links above for more information on the things I listed, or navigate the WCDR at your own pace to discover everything there is to know about the organization. It’s a powerhouse on the Canadian writing landscape. Take advantage of it.

This brings me to the fact that my upcoming trip is fast approaching. 19 days before I depart for Belgium! I will be spending a week in Brussels in lieu of attending the Muskoka Novel Marathon this coming July. I wanted to shake things up a bit this year. I still plan to marathon a novel, but I thought I would try it on my own this time, see how my self-discipline is holding up. ALL writers desperately need self-discipline. It’s the thing that makes the difference between success and failure sometimes. Skill is only part of the equation. You can have all the skill in the world and do all your writing in the form of Twitter tweets and Facebook updates and Instagram posts. When the chips are down, what you really need to do is get BUM IN CHAIR and write. And that’s just what I will be doing in Brussels.

But I’m not crazy. I’m not going halfway around the world to lock myself in a room to write. NOT ONLY. I booked two days in which to see the world around me. A walking tour of Brussels and a walking tour of Bruges. And in between I hope to write not ONE but TWO novels in a week. If I can write the better part of one in 72 hours, I don’t see why I can’t stretch myself to write 2 in 7 days. I’m sure the math doesn’t work that way, though…but it’s not going to prevent me from trying.

IMG_20160731_095611
This picture is apropos of nothing, really, except maybe my desire for wanderlust. Life is a journey…get out there. Explore! Find your passion–your path–and take it.

Another thing about Brussels. It was the impetus for me to finally consider applying for a WCDR writing grant. I always thought I’d leave the grants and scholarships alone…leave them for others to use. After arranging my writing schedule for the trip, I thought, why not? So I applied. And I was awarded a grant this past Saturday. SO it is with much appreciation to the organization I have already come to love so much over the years that I thank the WCDR for their contribution to my solitary European writing retreat. I will be writing with the knowledge that the organization stands behind my efforts. For that I am grateful.

I’m sure I’ll be back to tell you how it went. I won’t say I’m not nervous. I get this nervous every year before I head to the Muskoka Novel Marathon too. What if I sit down and I have nothing to write? What if the muse does not appear? What if I become too distracted to write? What if? What if? What if? You can’t live your life by what ifs, though. I will get to Belgium, I will sit down in a strange place and I will open my laptop and I will write.

On the Horizon – Events of Writerly Interest

Every now and again I write a catch-all post to include some of the things on my writerly horizon. The ones in my immediate future may be of interest to those of you in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area for visitors from elsewhere on the globe).

Event #1 – Ontario Writers’ Conference FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS

Originally birthed at the Ontario Writers’ Conference, this legacy event of the now defunct annual conference promises to be an exciting evening out for writers and readers alike. The event takes place at Creative Math & Music (1064 Salk Rd., Units 5-7 Pickering, ON, L1W 4B5) on Friday March 31st, 2017 from 7;00pm-10:00pm. From the OWC website:

The Festival usually features:

  • entertaining interviews and inspiring author readings (see below)
  • opportunities to mingle with Canadian Authors, fellow writers and avid readers
  • voting for the winners of our Story Starters Contest
  • exciting prizes !

Announced thus far for the festival is the amazing TED BARRIS as emcee and award winning debut novelist ANN Y.K. CHOI. You can read more about the festival, including bios for both announced authors at THIS LINK FOR OWC FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ted Barris, and of seeing him in action as an author interviewer and interviewee. An evening with Ted Barris is worth the price of admission. And I am right in the middle of reading Ann Choi’s KAY’S LUCKY COIN VARIETY from Simon & Schuster Canada. It’s a lovely coming-of-age story that takes place in Koreatown in Toronto in the 80s. I’m thoroughly enjoying it and hope to have it completed by the Festival on the 31st. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book from Goodreads:

30089407.jpg

A bittersweet coming-of-age debut novel set in the Korean community in Toronto in the 1980s. This haunting coming-of-age story, told through the eyes of a rebellious young girl, vividly captures the struggles of families caught between two cultures in the 1980s. Family secrets, a lost sister, forbidden loves, domestic assaults—Mary discovers as she grows up that life is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. Her secret passion for her English teacher is filled with problems and with the arrival of a promising Korean suitor, Joon-Ho, events escalate in ways that she could never have imagined, catching the entire family in a web of deceit and violence. A unique and imaginative debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety evocatively portrays the life of a young Korean Canadian girl who will not give up on her dreams or her family.

Keep watching the OWC website further further author announcement. And get your TICKETS soon, as they just may sell out!

Even#2 – WCDR Words of the Season

words-of-the-season-flowers-spring-2017-1-768x690

This is a regular feature of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. It’s an evening of readings from WCDR members and it features fiction, poetry, memoir, non-fiction, etc. Taking place this time around in Whitby, Words of the Season will happen on Tuesday April 4th, 2017. This is an open event and anyone is invited to attend. Simply show up at:

La Rosa Ristorante
3050 Garden Street
Unit 102
Whitby, ON

Arrive as early as 6:00 pm. Socialize, eat, enjoy a beverage – food and drink available for purchase. Performances start at 7:00 pm. Fully accessible venue.

Maaja Wentz will be emceeing this event. Members read, but anyone can come and listen. And stay for a meal.

I will be one of the readers this time around, reading from an upcoming novel.

Event #3 – April WCDR Roundtable Meeting

Untitled-300x164.png
WCDR Blue Pencil Extravaganza

This mostly monthly breakfast menu for the Writers’ Community of Durham Region is always lively…and always filled with approximately 100 writers from Durham and the rest of the GTA–an amazing feat in itself for a Saturday at 8:30am.

The APRIL meeting will feature what the WCDR is calling a BLUE PENCIL BONANZA. Foregoing the usual format of a GUEST SPEAKER, April will be set up as a hands-on critiquing meeting. Each table will feature a different genre and a professional in that genre will facilitate the table through a critique of sample pages submitted by members at the time of registration. Meeting attendees could either choose to participate by submitting their work ahead of time OR observe at the table of their choosing. Please note that NON-MEMBERS will not be permitted to submit samples. This is only open to WCDR MEMBERS.

This event takes place:

BISTRO 67 – Durham College, Centre for Food
1604 Champlain Avenue, Whitby ON

REGISTER TODAY!

ALL DETAILS ARE HERE.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE:

The May 6th WCDR Roundtable Meeting will feature Guest Speaker TREVOR COLE. He will talk about “the early days of organized crime in Canada, before the First World War, when the Italian criminal underworld was known as the Black Hand. He’ll describe how it dovetailed with the beginnings of prohibition and led to the rise of Rocco Perri as the most powerful bootlegger and mob boss in southern Ontario.”

If I wasn’t leaving the continent on the very day this event is happening, I would most certainly be there. I hate to miss it.

Mr. Cole will also facilitate the AFTER-BREAKFAST MINI-WORKSHOP on May 6th >>>

How to Write Great Dialogue with Trevor Cole

WCDR Events, MNM Event, and Stuff of Goodness…My September Cornucopia Mash-Up Blog Post

So much going on of late! The fall is always a busy time when it comes to a writer’s life. A writer with an orbit in the Durham Region in Ontario, anyway.

The Writers’ Community of Durham Region just had its 20th Anniversary Gala last weekend. What a milestone. Together, we have been supporting each other for two decades. Some literary giants past, present, and future have been involved with this amazing organization. It is, perhaps, the best run community for writers in the world. I don’t say that in passing…it is a phenomenal resource for writers. And not just the acclaimed ones…the door is open for writers on all levels of the journey.

Hi-jinx may have ensued at the Gala. There’s a camaraderie in this organization like no other. When we get together we tell stories…on walls!

wallstory

And there was, apparently, a crime committed at the event. I received an email from an offshore account with a picture attached. It seems somebody is attempting to ransom some doohickey things. They want me to let the organization know that they want $100,000.00 in unmarked bills dropped off at a garbage can in downtown Oshawa in exchange for the return of their tree tchotchkes. But I refuse to help bargain with thieves. I’m so above that kind of nonsense. I do, however, wish to share exhibit A:

The nerve of some people! Seriously!
The nerve of some people! Seriously!

Speaking of the WCDR…five more things to add on that front.

Their Phoenix WCDR Short Story Contest is now open! Top Prize is $750. It’s open internationally. Closes to submissions on Oct 25th! Submission fee is $20. Click on the image below to go to the site to see the FULL SUBMISSION GUIDELINES (which you must always follow to a tee).

Click to discover PHOENIX WCDR Short Fiction Contest!
Click to discover PHOENIX WCDR Short Fiction Contest!

Also coming down the pike for the WCDR clan is the next WORDS OF THE SEASON! This is a regular member reading event that takes place in Pickering. This one will be the Culture Days edition.

Date: Friday, September 25th, 2015

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: The Bear (A Firkin Pub) located at 1294 Kingston Road, Pickering (Liverpool and Kingston Road).

Admission: Free! Food and drink are available for purchase.

MEMBER READERS are already lined-up, but this event is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC and there will be an OPEN MIC session after the scheduled readings. SO, bring some work…come join us. Read for the crowd!

Culture-Days-version-2-300x294The WCDR will also be present at this year’s TORONTO WOTS! That’s WORD ON THE STREET…the cross Canada celebration of words. Rain or Shine. Come out to our booth to meet some of the WCDR people (MYSELF INCLUDED). You can find out just how vibrant this amazing organization is. You can see for yourself why we members keep drinking the Kool-Aid!

The WOTS is at HARBOURFRONT CENTRE on Sunday September 27th (11am-6pm). Come on down and look for the WCDR booth!

ALSO coming down the tracks is the next WCDR ROUNDTABLE MEETING! This is our monthly breakfast meeting. About a hundred of us get together and break bread and listen to the guest speaker and socialize. It’s a great event…the glue of the organization, really. There are also mini-workshops after each meeting for the eager to learn writer.

The Roundtable Meeting happens on the second Saturday of every month. They are open to everyone…not just members. And you will be warmly greeted and welcomed to the fold. The next one is Saturday October 10th. It’s not on their website yet…but will be shortly. Keep your eye out for it…the venue is changed for the October meeting.

Okay…so, NOVEMBER…the 5th thing to mention about the WCDR:

bookapaloozaYep! It’s happening again!

BOOKAPALOOZA 2015 takes place SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21st at The Durham College, Centre For Food/Bistro 67 at 1604 Champlain Avenue, Whitby.

I will have a table at this event and I will be selling a few of my books: SUMMER ON FIRE, BURN BABY BURN BABY, and, HALF DEAD & FULLY BROKEN. This is a great event to showcase local talent…and to discover resources for writers and readers. YOU SHOULD COME!

WHEN:

Saturday, November 21, 2015
10:00 am to 4:00 pm

WHERE:

Centre for Food
Durham College
1610 Champlain Ave.
Whitby, ON

On to other events!

Tomorrow I head to HUNTSVILLE, ONTARIO for the MUSKOKA NOVEL MARATHON WRAP PARTY!!! I talk about the marathon non-stop to whoever will listen, but just to sum up…it’s a yearly novel writing marathon where 40 writers get together in one room and each attempt to write a novel. AND…more importantly…it’s a fundraiser for literacy programs in Simcoe County/Muskoka region. We have raised over $135,000.00 so far for literacy. No small feat! It takes place every JULY. The wrap-party takes place every SEPTEMBER. The writers get back together, celebrate each other…hand out awards, do readings, make merriment! It takes place tomorrow…and I can’t wait! (-:

That’s it. Not so much, really. (-: Oh…also…I’m writing. My agent, STACEY DONAGHY of the DONAGHY LITERARY GROUP currently has my 2015 Muskoka Novel Marathon novel on submission. It’s called PRIDE MUST BE A PLACE and it’s an LGBTQ YA novel. I will be reading from this novel at tomorrow’s MNM event, and at the WORDS OF THE SEASON event. I’m excited about this one…so much fun to write. We’ll see if it finds a home. (-:

I’ll leave you with a song, but first—

I always say that writing is absolutely a solitary and lonely endeavor. It is, well and truly. It is something one must do alone. BUT…if you choose a writing community lifestyle, as opposed to solitary existence as a writer, you will enrich your life ten-fold. If you’re not close enough to the WCDR community (AND TORONTO IS CLOSE ENOUGH…JUST SO YOU KNOW!), find a writing community in your area. It will change your life. Community is everything!

I leave you with my favourite writerly song:

CULTURE DAYS — WCDR Words of the Season! September Event for Writers and Those Who Love Them…

Culture-Days-version-2

Further to the WCDR lovefest, I will be reading from my latest novel at the next WORDS OF THE SEASON. I will be test-driving Pride Must Be a Place, my new LGBTQ young adult novel.

This regular event takes place at the Bear and Firkin pub in Pickering, Ontario…just east of Toronto.

WORDS OF THE SEASON IN POETRY, PROSE AND SONG

Date: Friday, September 25th, 2015

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: The Bear (A Firkin Pub) located at 1294 Kingston Road, Pickering (Liverpool and Kingston Road).

Admission: Free! Food and drink are available for purchase.

My friend Kate Arms will be emceeing the event for the first time. Really looking forward to Kate’s voice at the helm.

All the slots for readers are booked, but this is the first WOTS event where there will be an open-mic for poets. So, if you’re a GTA poet with a desire to read to the assembled masses…this would be an excellent event to show up to. You do not need to be a WCDR member to participate, either as an open mic participant or simply as an audience member. Hope to see you there!

Community – The Writer’s Lifeline! WCDR Birthday…

Revised-Anniversary-Logo1-e1437960977898Somebody I love is having a birthday!

When I discovered the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) around the turn of the millennium, I didn’t even have the courage to identify myself as a writer. Watching WCDR announcements in my local newspaper was the extent of my connection to the group for the first two or three years. I thought it was an organization for ACTUAL writers, so I kept my distance. I imagined attending their events and becoming a member. I read the ads and articles over and over again…with a great sense of anxiety and desire.

Me? A writer? No way…nope. Not me.

Then the desire just got too strong. I could not fight it. I sent in my membership request. I actually used the Canada Post to do it. Old school! With the membership cheque, I submitted the form. I am still embarrassed by the way I filled out that form. I know it was a pleading missive. I articulated my anxiety on that form. I’m surprised to this day that they actually accepted my membership plea. Had that form come across my desk, I might have flagged its author as insane. I would have stamped NOT FRIGGING LIKELY across the form before forwarding it on to the RCMP for the investigation.

But they said yes.

And the love affair began.

The Writers’ Community of Durham Region (then called the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region) opened so many doors for me that I have since lost count. Just being a part of that community allowed me to eventually accept the title of writer for myself. I made connections professionally, I learned how to read my work in front of an actual audience, I have made lifelong friends, I had many many publications as a direct result of my membership. The benefits are non-stop. From the moment I became a member, I felt indebted to the organization…just for accepting me among them.

The group is 20 years old! I have been a member since—I believe 2003, but it might have been 2002. It’s hard to recall. I was a silent member for quite awhile. After gaining the courage to send in the membership form, it took me quite a while longer to gain the courage to make actual contact through workshops, breakfast meetings, etc. So my actual start year has always been a bit foggy.

For ALL GTA (and beyond) WRITERS (and supporters of writers), the WCDR is having a birthday celebration! I suggest that you attend. It is sure to be an amazing night in celebration of words and community. If you’re an area writer and you are not yet a member of the WCDR, I encourage you to check it out. They will do wonders for your identity as a writer. They welcome all writers…whether you are a beginner or a national bestseller. There is nothing like finding your place in the world. Being a part of one of the world’s most vibrant and active writing communities will enhance your writing life beyond measure. Whether you jump into the deep end or just dip a toe in to check the waters, I assure you…you won’t look back. It’s infectious.

DETAILS ON THE UPCOMING BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

Come celebrate 20 years of The Writers’ Community of Durham Region with an evening of friends and festivities in the lovely, eco-friendly environment that is Bistro 67 (Durham College’s Centre for Food).

Champagne toasts and a satisfying sweet-table will tempt your tastebuds and the companionship of fellow writers will warm your heart.You won’t want to miss the party of the season:

Saturday, September 12, 2015 7-10 p.m.

Tickets are just $45 each

Durham College – Centre For Food/Bistro 67

1604 Champlain Avenue, Whitby

(just off Thickson Road & the 401)

Visit the WCDR WEBSITE for more information and to book your tickets!

Don’t be shy. You will be accepted with open arms. There are no secret handshakes. They take your word for it if you say you’re a writer. They don’t even punish or admonish non-writer friends. Take that first step into the community of writers…it’ll be the best step you ever take.

Writers Need Community…

There. I said it.

I would love to dispel the myth that writers are solitary creatures who wince at the light of day and run from the possibility of community with other writers. The problem may well be that not all writers know this. Not all writers have a community like the writing community that I am a part of. This makes me terribly sad.

My community is the Writers’ Community of Durham Region. We are over 300 strong. And we support and nurture one another in our writing goals. Competition and jealousy do not survive within this community. We do not knock each other down to get to the finish line, to achieve our writing and publishing goals. On the contrary. We carry each other over the hurdles and finish lines. We celebrate our individual achievements as a whole. We celebrate each other as we celebrate the written word. And…believe it or not…we are NOT a cult.

We are a club, yes…but we are not inclusive. ANYBODY can join. ANYBODY can participate. ANYBODY can benefit.

I’m talking about the Writers’ Community of Durham Region because our monthly Roundtable Meeting is fast approaching. About 100 or so of us get together once a month (except for August) on an early Saturday morning to break bread and network. It’s an amazing opportunity to put on the WRITER hat and BE a writer. AND, there’s a special guest speaker at every meeting! And the opportunity to take both a workshop and a Blue Pencil manuscript session.

The best part, for those in the city (TORONTO), is that this takes place JUST east of the city. The meetings are held at the AJAX CONVENTION CENTRE just off highway 401 in Ajax, Ontario. And EVERYONE is welcome to attend. You don’t even have to be a WCDR member.

As writers, one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to treat ourselves to writerly things. Like these breakfast meetings. Like workshops. Like conferences. When we are living the writing life, we become better writers. We immerse ourselves in the lifestyle.

Check out the WCDR. You owe it to yourself. And if you’re from Toronto, please don’t do yourself the disservice of thinking you live too far away to become involved in this stupendous organization.

CLICK ON THIS LOGO TO BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY!
CLICK ON THIS LOGO TO BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY!

Watch the Youtube video about the Roundtable Meetings:

The WCDR Roundtable Meetings take place on the second Saturday of every month but August. Visit the WCDR site by clicking on the logo above to discover more about the organization. There are always events going on. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to live the writing life in one of the world’s most vibrant and active writing communities…

I Know I Know for Sure That Life is Beautiful Around the World…

I have done so many things lately. Writing isn’t really one of them. But that’s okay. One doesn’t have to be writing to be writing. If you’re a writer, you know what I mean.

I do have to mention one exception, however…as I wrote the beginning of my 2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon in Wayson Choy’s Friday Afternoon Masterclass at the Ontario Writers’ Conference. The novel will be a Young Adult novel and it will be titled JUMP. I have the first three or four paragraphs on paper…and the rest is percolating.

I thought I would do this in pictures today, as I’ve been a bit camera happy lately.

As mentioned above, I went to the 2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference. This was an exquisite opportunity to grow as a writer. And it was also an excellent opportunity to see writer friends I only see once or twice a year at the OWC and events like it. This year I had the extreme pleasure of being a Manuscript Mentor at the conference, as well. I read some great work in my role as mentor. And I’m wise enough to know that everything is a learning opportunity. I learned so much from the writers I met with. All in all, the conference was spectacular…as per usual. Every single year, the organizing committee outdoes themselves.

For a full rundown on the conference, I’m going to send you over to my friend LORI TWINING’s website. Her recap is one of the most fabulous recaps of an event I have ever had the pleasure of reading. (-: AND she gives me a nod at the end, so…there’s that. (-;

On to the pictures:

Caroline Wissing - The OWC would NOT be the same without her! Read her YA novel VOICELESS. It's wonderful!
Caroline Wissing – The OWC would NOT be the same without her! Read her YA novel VOICELESS. It’s wonderful!

CAROLINE WISSING – VOICELESS, a Young Adult Novel

Mel, Naomi & Lori...three awesome women! Future Canadian Literati. I love photobombing. (-:
Mel, Naomi & Lori…three awesome women! Future Canadian Literati. I love photobombing. (-:

I’m fortunate enough to share a music blog with Naomi. She’s a musical twin of sorts. (-: You can read her latest musical escape to Kaskade at our SKY CHURCH MUSIC. Lori and I have done the Muskoka Novel Marathon together a few times. She’s a crazed-maniacal twin of sorts. She has a lot of fun with capes. Mel…what can I say about Mel? I love her…she’s awesome and she doesn’t hate us for picking on her. We have not done any heavy writing together as of yet, but I’m looking forward to discovering her words. She’s my orange twin. Together, the four of us ran amok at the Ontario Writers’ Conference…and we didn’t even get asked to leave.

Merriam-Webster defines amok as: “an episode of sudden mass assault against people or objects usually by a single individual following a period of brooding that has traditionally been regarded as occurring especially in Indonesian culture but is now increasingly viewed as psychopathological behavior occurring worldwide in numerous countries and cultures”

Yep. That’s what happened…only it was en masse.

The Incomparable Wayson Choy!
The Incomparable Wayson Choy!

I could talk all day about Wayson. It’s been an absolute pleasure spending time with him every year at the conference. Having been on the Board of Directors for approximately 8-ish years, I was able to get to know Wayson a bit. He’s the most generous person I’ve ever met. I say that as an absolute. In his presence, one gets to feel the true meaning of Namaste. He is someone who is THERE. ALWAYS. He is All That Matters.

The conference was wonderful. I highly recommend it to writers everywhere. Check it out: ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

Barbara Kyle - May, 2014
Barbara Kyle – May, 2014

Now, for another writing event. Every month but one the Writers’ Community of Durham Region puts on their RoundTable Meeting. If you have not yet been, you should seriously consider it! For May, they had the incomparable BARBARA KYLE. She gave a charged inspirational talk on writing. She offered 10 TIPS TO SURVIVING FIRST DRAFT. Her first was Get Dressed: “When I sit down to write, I don’t do it in a ratty old dressing gown and slippers. I get dressed as if I’m going into the world to work.”

GO TO THE WCDR WEBSITE TO READ THE FULL ROUNDTABLE MEETING RECAP

Barbara Kyle, addressing a captive audience of writers at the May 10/14 WCDR Roundtable Meeting
Barbara Kyle, addressing a captivated audience of writers at the May 10/14 WCDR Roundtable Meeting

Barbara has done a few things right. To date she has sold over 425,000 books! She is always gracious and inspirational to other writers, wherever they may be on their path.

Barbara Kyle
Barbara Kyle

I have been immersing myself in writing without writing. It CAN be done. When writing isn’t happening, one is always collecting grist for the mill.

Colleen Knight - Fellow WCDR Writer
Colleen Knight – Fellow WCDR Writer

I had to share that last photo. Someone saw me taking shots at the RoundTable Meeting and wanted a piece of the action. I MUST spend more time with Colleen Knight. I have a feeling she’s my kind of people. (-:

My dear friend Karen Cole
My dear friend Karen Cole

Karen Cole was a member of my longtime writing circle WIP. She now runs the circle herself. She is also an ex-nun who lifted her veil. (-: You can check her out at her BLOG. Lifting the Veil is her memoir of her life as a Benedictine nun.

My BOY - Edward!
My BOY – Edward!

The dude of dudes. Ladies and gentlemen, Edward Jacob Anthony! My grandson. He’s about to have a brother… CHARLIE THOMAS ANTHONY. Another Thomas! I’m a Thomas and my son is a Thomas…the name comes from my Nana’s Daddy…which makes me very happy. Edward and I chilled at Starbucks recently with his ‘rents. 1/2 price Frapps. We couldn’t resist. Edward likes the Strawberries and Cream. And I like Edward!

Tobin Elliott - Fellow MNM marathoner!
Tobin Elliott – Fellow MNM marathoner!

I thought I would photobomb my own blog-post with a shot of Tobin Elliott’s back. He definitely would have photobombed it if he could…

My Male Survivor Weekend of Recovery Rock
My Male Survivor Weekend of Recovery Rock

Now for a bit of seriousness. I spoke previously about attending Male Survivor Weekends of Recovery for men who were sexually abused either as children or as adults. At the end of the weekend, survivors do a small rock ceremony. I went home from each of my weekend retreats with a rock or two. The one above…I will be taking with me to Spain. I fly there tomorrow… I will be walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostela. So my blog will be very quiet for the rest of May. I will be taking a spiritual journey across Spain. And I will be leaving my rock there, somewhere along the way. Here’s a link to MALE SURVIVOR –If you or someone you know needs it…there’s no time like the present. Freedom is just a click away. They will help you reclaim your life.

I think that’s all I have to share today.

Oh wait. The title. Remember one thing above all others…life is beautiful.

See you in June!