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

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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!

Immerse Yourself – Do Writerly Things and You Will Be a Writer!

This past weekend was a major ‘Writerly Weekend‘ for me. Well, technically the weekend actually began Thursday night. That was the night I was locked into Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. As one of six playwrights taking part in Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival, I was given headshots of two actors, a theme and a room in the castle in which to set my play. Oh, and eight hours to write it! (-:

This is the first of my 5 Trafalgar24 playwright gigs where I knew of the actors prior to writing my play. Let me tell you how much more intimidating that is! I had the amazingly talented Christopher Kelk and the equally stunning Adriano Sobretodo JR. I think I spent the first thirty minutes or so just looking at their headshots and thinking, ‘I have to write words that will come out of these two mouths!!!???‘ I have seen Adriano in various TV roles and I have had the good fortune of witnessing Christopher lob one after the other of his Trafalgar24 roles out of the park…not to mention some of his other works. They are both veterans in their field.

After my initial shock, I sat down to write a play. I really was incredibly fortunate to get two such talented actors. To be honest, I have yet to see a Trafalgar24 actor I wasn’t totally impressed with. The event attracts the best of the best to the ever-shifting ‘stages’ of Trafalgar Castle.

This was the first year I tackled a drama for Trafalgar. I just couldn’t put Christopher in a comedy. Talk about taking chances! But I believe the risk paid off. After seeing the play performed on Friday night, I knew I had made the right choice. Both actors performed beautifully, and the director, Carly Chamberlain, made some excellent choices in choosing the business of the play. I loved the direction. It’s the same every year. On Friday morning, I feel as though I am leaving the castle having left behind this meager offering of a few words on paper. And then the elves show up and make my Walmart flip-flops into Jimmy Choos. Every year, the director and actors transform my play into something far more spectacular than it was when I was finished with it. Theatre is such an extremely interactive and collaborative thing, and I am always amazed by the contribution that goes into a play once the words are on paper. It’s sheer magic.

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I did say it was a writerly weekend, right? Well, the WCDR Roundtable Meeting took place on Saturday. This was a special edition Roundtable. I was part of the planning committee for the WCDR U25 Panel Discussion, and it was an absolute pleasure to see it come to fruition. The panel was made up of Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) authors. And my own agent, Stacey Donaghy, moderated the event (quite beautifully, I might add).

When we set out to create this particular Roundtable Meeting, we had the concept of a mini half-day conference in mind. And that is exactly how it panned out. We had 3 agents on hand, taking pitch sessions from hopeful authors. We had the panel discussion, and workshops for both adults and young adults. There is a writing contest for the young adults who attended, we had a tremendous load of giveaways which were collected by various sponsors. The whole thing just had the feel of a conference, tightly compacted into a few hours on a Saturday morning.

To get the whole story of what you missed, click here. (-:

We were thrilled to have the following authors on the panel: Deborah Kerbel, Joanne Levy, K.A. Tucker, Norah McClintock, and Lesley Livingston. And sponsorship! We had sponsorship. (-: Penguin Random House, Writescape, and Ink Slingers were all generous in their sponsorship of the event.

The Panel - A Phono
The Panel – A Phono

I can’t really take all that much credit for U25. The brains behind the event was my writing friend, M-E Girard, someone who, herself, will be sitting on panels in the very near future. Remember her name. She’s a kickass writer who is about to explode onto the horizon. (-: As I recently stepped down from the WCDR Board of Directors, M-E did the lion’s share of the work on U25. And she did it up beautifully. I was happy to be slightly involved.

M-E and I, being silly at the podium. If Ellen can do it at the Oscars, we can do it at the WCDR Roundtable Meeting. (-:
M-E and I, being silly at the podium. If Ellen can do it at the Oscars, we can do it at the WCDR Roundtable Meeting. (-:

For those in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) who missed the WCDR U25 Panel Discussion, don’t forget that the WCDR Roundtable Meetings happen every month but one…throughout the year. Every one is a nugget for writers. You should seriously check them out. They take place in Ajax, Ontario…which, believe it or not, is only about half an hour from downtown Toronto. If you’re in Toronto, don’t be shy…because the Writers’ Community of Durham Region welcomes EVERYONE. And, honestly, there is life EAST OF THE CITY. The WCDR is only a short ride away. And it is a VAST and welcoming community. So over the top worth the drive. CHECK OUT THE MONTHLY MEETINGS HERE.

Whatever you do, and wherever you do it…make sure you’re getting enough WRITERLY things into your life. They validate the journey. Trust me! The more you live the writing life, the easier it gets. And TAKE CHANCES. Stretch your limits. Try things you never thought in a million years you could pull off. When I first petitioned Driftwood Theatre to take part in my first Trafalgar24 event, I had exactly ZERO plays under my belt. I didn’t let that stop me. We grow when we push ourselves. We discover that we’re stronger than we thought we were. Next time you see a writerly opportunity that sounds amazing, whether or not you feel confident enough to tackle it, take it on! You may have to put on your superhero suit…but that’s okay. Whatever works, right. Now go forth, and conquer your writing life. It’s waiting for you…

March WCDR Roundtable Meeting – U25 Panel Discussion!

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Don’t let the name fool you. The March WCDR Roundtable Meeting is NOT just another Roundtable Meeting. Not that there’s anything wrong with all the other great Roundtable meetings put on by this fabulous organization! Each one is fantabulous! But MARCH, 2014—Now this one is a beaut! Think–WRITING CONFERENCE! Think CELEBRATION OF YOUNG ADULT, NEW ADULT, and MIDDLE GRADE FICTION! Think MUST SEE EVENT! You don’t want to miss this one! Why, this promises to be the best thing to happen for writers since Mr. Magorium opened his Wonder Emporium up for a writers’ sleepover pajama party back in ’07! BUY. YOUR. TICKETS. NOW!

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Let me fill you in on what you can expect to see at this extravaganza. First…let’s dissect the name, shall we. U25- This refers to the body of readers covered by the writers in attendance on the panel. UNDER 25. We have Middle Grade authors, Young Adult Authors, and New Adult Authors. In order to encapsulate all 3 markets, the name U25 was born. If you do NOT write for these markets, don’t count yourself out of this event! It is going to be geared towards these markets—but also, away from them. The panelists will be giving advice that will resonate for writers of all markets. Writing advice will not be YA/MG/NA specific.

Who will the panel be comprised of, you ask?

  • Joanne Levy
  • K.A. Tucker
  • Deborah Kerbel
  • Norah McClintock
  • Lesley Livingston

This panel is a who’s who of the Canadian YA/NA/MG landscape. You will want to be on-hand to hear what these authors have to say about the writing process!

CLICK HERE TO READ PANELIST BIOS

My literary agent, Stacey Donaghy, will be on hand to moderate the panel discussion.

It doesn’t stop at the panel, though. This Roundtable Meeting is set up like a mini-conference. You can sign-up ahead of time for PITCH SESSIONS WITH LITERARY AGENTS.

Agents in attendance on the day of this unique WCDR Roundtable WCDR U25 MINI-CONFERENCE are:

  • Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group
  • Sam Hiyate of the Rights Factory
  • Ali McDonald of The Rights Factory

CLICK HERE TO READ AGENT BIOS AND THEIR CURRENT INTERESTS!

This is an amazing opportunity! It’s not every day one gets to pitch their work to a literary agent. You don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

For young writers, there is yet another aspect to the day. From the WCDR U25 Webpage, here’s the special invitation to young writers:

A special invitation to young writers

We’d especially like to invite local young people to join us, and have some great things planned specifically for young writers:

  • Join WCDR members and guests to listen to the panel discussion, and have a chance to ask questions of the panelists.
  • Receive a bag of writing-related swag, which will include a ticket to our young-writers-only raffle.
  • Opportunity to participate in a special writing challenge. Those who enter the contest have the chance to win and be published on our website—and get paid!
  • Attend a one-hour workshop after the meeting to learn more about writing.

Note:

  • Young writers from grade 8 to 25 years-old are invited to attend this event.
  • Registration fee for the RoundTable meeting only: $25
  • Registration fee for the RoundTable meeting and the special workshop: $35

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE U25 PAGE AT THE WCDR WEBSITE

Here’s something to remember about the WCDR:

ALL writers are welcome to attend. You do not need to be published AND you do not need to be a member of the organization to attend a WCDR Roundtable Meeting. The WCDR Mission Statement is as follows:

Mission statement: The Writers’ Community of Durham Region encourages writers at all levels; offers opportunities for support, education and networking; and promotes the value of writers and writing.

So, what are you waiting for? Today’s the day you should consider becoming a member of this vibrant organization! And for those writers in TORONTO reading this, trust me…these meetings take place in AJAX. That’s only a 20 minute ride, tops, from downtown. If you’re in Toronto, there’s no reason you shouldn’t attach yourself to the WCDR. You’ll thank yourself for doing so. They will propel your writing career to the stratosphere!