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:

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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

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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

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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

Ontario Writers’ Conference – A Legacy of Creativity and a Labour of Love…

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The Ontario Writers’ Conference Gang Through the Years! – LIsa Craveiro, Deborah Rankine, Barbara Hunt, Sherry Hinman, Rosalyn Cronin, Cynthia Rattey, Sylvia Chiang, Dorothea Helms, Cathy Minz, Collette Yvonne, Lana Cutrara, Sandra Clarke, Janet Kopp Boccone, Jessica Outram, Karen Cole, Kevin Craig, Naomi Mesbur, and, last but not least, Wayson Choy. (missing from the picture, and unable to attend last night, is Anne MacLachlan)

Last night the members of the various Ontario Writers’ Conference planning committees and Boards of Directors assembled in one place to celebrate the legacy that the organization has become. And, of course, we brought our Wayson along for the ride!

We met at the lovely Nice Bistro in Whitby, just north of the four corners. The din in that restaurant was quite staggering, considering it was a closed gathering comprised only of those you see in the swarming selfie animation above. All were excited to see one another and catch up on life in general as well as our various writing lives.

Missing from the collage of selfies above are the hundreds and hundreds of attendees who made the conference the success it was, as well as the amazing array of workshop presenters and speakers and readers the organization has amassed over the years of its existence. Each and every person who moved through the conference served to make it what it was—a thriving nurturing hotbed of creativity inspiration.

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When the opportunity for speeches arose, Wayson Choy was soon front and centre. He has always been mesmerized by the vitality of the OWC. Once again, he spoke to the passion involved in assembling such a space for the growth of creativity. He was all gratefulness and grace, as always.

As organic as the conference was, though, it was also a well-oiled machine run flawlessly and with a constant drive and desire of making it better. Attending the Ontario Writers’ Conference had become the must do event of every spring and the reason to leave the house after another long cold Canadian winter. Upon the arrival of the 2016 conference, it was announced that there would be no more conferences. And a collective sigh rose up against this sad news. An event that connected its participants year after year was no longer going to be an impetus to create, and impetus to meet, an impetus to discover an impetus.

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OWC – Friends!

Some of the patterns of attendance at the conference throughout the years spoke to its vitality and strength. What I affectionately referred to as the Ottawa Contingent seemed to pick up more writers along the way each year, perfectly demonstrating the they’ll-tell-two-friends-and-they’ll-tell-two-friends-and-so-on-and-so-on phenomenon first acted out in the old Faberge Organics Shampoo commercial. And we also saw workshop presenters become attendees as they looked around themselves at the conference and recognized the value in it.

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A Selfie with Wayson.

The jewel in the crown was always the Honorary Patron, our very own Wayson Choy…with the conference from beginning to end. Wayson always delivered inspiration in his talks…an inspiration that would lift attendees’ souls and give them motivation to continue, to accept themselves on their individual paths, and to reach for more. In his caring and nurturing Wayson way, he reached down into the hearts of each of us and said, “It’s okay to write, to be a writer…tell your story.” Everywhere I go, I hear stories of how Wayson touched people who had been present in the audience at an Ontario Writers’ Conference event. He gave himself freely to all those in attendance, with grace and wit and light.

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It will be sad not to have this annual meeting of like-minded creative people assembling in celebration of this thing we love. But from the ashes of the fire rises the phoenix. The OWC is not gone…it is merely changing. No, there won’t be a yearly conference like there was in the past. But keep an eye out for announcements. I’m sure they’ll come. The OWC promises more…

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Keep your eye on Naomi Mesbur – The Future of the OWC Organization is Coming!

 

 

ONTARIO WRITERS CONFERENCE, The Last – Are You Registered?

It’s coming up on the very last ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE. Have you registered yet? You won’t want to miss out on this phenomenal GTA area writers’ conference. It’s got everything…amazing speakers, great workshops, food, panels, interviews and discussions. AND…the beautiful Wayson Choy. He has been the honorary patron of the conference since its inception in 2008. Just to be inside his orbit for the day makes it all worthwhile.

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The Incomparable Wayson Choy! The 2014 conference. Having fun with Wayson and selfies. 🙂

Wayson will once again be one of the conference’s speakers. His talks are always inspiring, thoughtful, gracious, and meaningful. I spoke with Wayson a month or so ago and he was really looking forward to attending the conference…as usual.

INSPIRING. EDUCATING. CONNECTING.

THE ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

April 30 – May 1, 2016

Ajax, Ontario

If you’re a GTA area writer, or don’t mind traveling to the GTA area, you should really treat yourself to a day immersed in what it is you love—WORDS. It will re-ignite your writing life and kick-start your creativity into full swing. Just in time for spring!

REGISTRATION DEADLINE IS TOMORROW! March 31, 2016.

Click on this link to go right to the REGISTRATION PAGE.

If you would like to peruse your workshop options, check out this link to the WORKSHOP CLASSES.

If you would like to see a list of speakers, facilitators, agents, mentors, etc, check out this link to the SPEAKERS & FACILITATORS.

For the open to the public portion of the conference, there is the FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS.

The conference takes place at Deer Creek Golf and Banquet Facility in Ajax…just off the 401…and just EAST of Toronto. Click here for directions.

With the amazing workshops, master classes, agent pitches, manuscript mentoring, speakers, etc…I think you will find that there is something for everyone at the Ontario Writers’ Conference. At the end of this year’s conference, we’ll be saying goodbye to this amazing yearly event. Don’t miss out on your last opportunity to be a part of it.

See you there!

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So Many Things! #MNM2016 #OWC2016

I received an email this past Friday that had me in tears. I know I walked away from the organizing of the Ontario Writers’ Conference, but it was never because I fell out of love with the organization. My life became a hot-mess. And then, as I picked up the pieces, I became more engaged. And then life became too valuable. I just did not have the time I once had to engage in extra-curricular activities. The OWC was our baby. We strove extremely hard to make it better each and every calendar year. Even after I left the committee and Board, I attended…and I served as a Manuscript Mentor. But my involvement ended there. It had to.

The email was to announce that THIS, 2016, would be the last Ontario Writers’ Conference. It is the end of an age. I just thought it would always carry on. It makes me very sad to see it go.

So, this is your last opportunity to take part in this amazing fantastic writing conference. If you are anywhere near the GTA, you should do whatever you can to take in the event.

Some Photos of OWC Past. One Last Year to Make Memories…

The conference takes place April 30-May 1.

INSPIRING. EDUCATING. CONNECTING.

THE ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

April 30 – May 1, 2016

Ajax, Ontario

REGISTRATION PAGE

THIS YEAR’S SCHEDULE

FACILITATORS & SPEAKERS

It really is a fabulous conference. Rumour has it Wayson Choy will be at the conference again this year as the Honourary Patron…a role he has held proudly since the conference’s inception.

Do yourself a favour and register today. We should all indulge our creativity through workshops and conferences. The benefits are numerous. You will not regret it. This last one, I’m sure, will be the best one.

My thanks and gratitude to ALL who ever worked on this conference. You have made magic happen. You have changed writers for the better. You have orchestrated lasting friendships. You left the world a better place…

Long live the legacy of the OWC!

NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…

I would like to ask you to consider sponsoring my efforts to raise funds for literacy through the Muskoka Novel Marathon. I go up to Huntsville, Ontario, in July for the yearly 72hour novel writing marathon. This will be my 9th marathon! It’s an incredible event for writers…we get to focus on creativity for a whole weekend while a volunteer staff of kitchen angels feed us and provide us with a non-stop supply of coffee. 40 of us take part in the event. As much as it’s a retreat for writing, it is MORE SO a fundraiser event. We raise much needed funds for YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka…for their literacy programs. ALL funds go directly to helping those who find themselves under the repressive cloud of illiteracy. With YOUR help, we could brighten their day. Please consider sponsoring my marathon. Any amount would help. Click on the image/link below to go directly to my donation page:

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Upcoming Events! #Trafalgar24 #AuthorsForIndies #OWC2016

Just a quick shout-out to the 3 upcoming events in my calendar. I am extremely fortunate to get these moments in my life where I get to fully immerse myself in the thing I love–THE WRITING LIFE. My immediate future is bountiful with writerly stuff.

Listed To Do List:

  1. TRAFALGAR 24 BY DRIFTWOOD THEATRE: Right around the corner–coming at me like a freight train–is Trafalgar24. This incredible play creation festival at Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario, is a highlight of the year. I can’t believe I get to participate yet again! My 7th kick at the can. I love the fear, the tension, the excitement, the horror, the panic, the joy of it. Being locked in Trafalgar Castle overnight and needing to write a 10-minute play before the sun comes up? Yes, please. I still haven’t figured out who the Elf is and who the Shoemaker is in this scenario. Sometimes I feel like the Elf, cobbling a play together overnight and leaving it behind for the shoemaker (the actors and the directors) to discover in the morning. And sometimes I feel like the Shoemaker…leaving my unmade shoes in the castle and having the Elves (the actors and the directors) come in and cobble my play into something presentable. Either way, I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it! And I love that I get to go back to the castle on the Friday night and see all 6 Trafalgar plays performed. Not to mention the cheese and cracker spread, the neverending flow of wine, and the beautiful dessert table! And…the amazing silent auction items! This is THE premiere event of the year in Durham Region. GET. YOUR. TICKETS. NOW:  Trafalgar 24 – Driftwood Theatre – Friday March 11, 2016 @ 6:30pm They do NOT make the audience stay overnight in the castle. Do not fear!
  2. AUTHORS FOR INDIES: This is a country-wide event. Authors hang out at bookstores and pimp their favourite books. It’s a way to thank independent bookstores and talk books. It’s a beautiful thing! I was invited to BLUE HERON BOOKS in Uxbridge, Ontario. The date is SATURDAY APRIL 30th, 2016. No matter where you live in Canada, make a trip to your local bookstore that day. Show the independent bookstores that you love and appreciate what they do! Also at Blue Heron Books on this day, will be: Linda Granfield, Ted Barris, Marissa Campbell, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jan Dolby, Rebecca Bender, Kate Hilton, and, Ann Douglas. JOIN US! BLUE HERON BOOKS
  3. ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE – Another year, another OWC! I was a founding member on the Board of Directors for the OWC. I worked on the organizing committee for a number of years. Though no longer affiliated with the conference, I have been facilitating as a Manuscript Mentor for the past two conferences. I get to take on that role again this year! And, naturally, I will also be attending. Who in their right mind would miss it? The conference takes place over 2 days. The FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS gala is on SATURDAY APRIL 30th, 2016 and it is open to the public. You need to attend the Sunday conference to attend the Festival. Tickets are $20 and anyone can attend. But get them fast. This is a much lauded literary event. The conference proper takes place on SUNDAY MAY 1st. Take a look at the day’s SCHEDULE HERE. Here are the WORKSHOP TOPICS. And HERE is the REGISTRATION PAGE. If you are a writer in the GTA (or beyond), GIVE YOURSELF THIS MOMENT…go to the Ontario Writers’ Conference this year. You won’t regret it. And a heads up for all—I went to dinner with Wayson a couple of weeks ago to celebrate Chinese New Year, and he is over-excited for another year at the Ontario Writers’ Conference. The Honorary Patron since its inception, Wayson brings an element of love and light to the conference that no other person could bring. SEE YOU THERE!

Ontario Writers’ Conference – A Season to Witness

This image was stolen from the Instagram account of Mel Cober. This is me attributing the photo to her.
This image was stolen from the Instagram account of Mel Cober. This is me attributing the photo to her. This is OWC Workshop Facilitator Andrew Borkowski and I reading dialogue together that I wrote during his workshop…

This past weekend, I attended the Ontario Writers’ Conference at Deer Creek Golf & Banquet Facility in Ajax, Ontario. The theme this year was WRITER AS WITNESS. Oddly, this was a subject I covered in my most recent (and upcoming) WCDR Wordweaver newsletter article. I am feeling a heavy weight of late. That weight being the responsibility the writer has to bear witness to the life around them…to echo it forward for others to examine. It could not have been a more fitting and timely theme for me.

My first experience with the theme came Friday afternoon when I arrived at Deer Creek for the Masterclass with Richard Scarsbrook. It was subtle at first. I suppose it was simply in the act of showing up. One cannot bear witness if one does not show up. I felt this overwhelming spirit within me, growing as the day went on. I was in the place I knew I needed to be. I had surrounded myself with the people I knew I needed to surround myself with. My people.

After the Masterclass, and a quick meal, came the Friday evening FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS event.  I was immediately reunited with my friend and mentor, Wayson Choy. As we embraced and began to talk, I realized something. I had been keeping Wayson at arms length throughout the years. For no other reason than because I had put him on a pedestal. He is a beacon in the Canadian literary landscape. So in admiring him, I had not allowed us to connect on a deeper level.

When Wayson said, “I’m sitting with you! Come on, where should we sit?” I knew the pedestal between us was unnecessary. This lovely man who had always presented himself with a heart wide open wanted to chat with me. And, of course, I wanted to chat with him. He’s a fascinating and interesting man. And, like nobody else…he listens. He is a writer who fully understands and embraces this year’s OWC theme. Mr. Choy bears witness every day.

After a lovely evening of authors at the festival, I was eager with anticipation for Saturday to arrive. The full day conference! And it began with a bang for me. I was a Manuscript Mentor this year. I had meetings with three different writers, where they presented me with three pages from their works in progress and I offered feedback and advice. And each piece had a unique and exciting voice. I was well pleased to be able to bear witness to their words. It must be an incredibly difficult thing to do…to present yourself to a stranger and entrust your work to them at a vulnerable time when you’re in a new and unfamiliar setting. It was an absolute pleasure to read their words.

From there, I went on to a workshop with Andrew Borkowski. I first met Andrew when he and I were both doing a reading at McLaughlin Literary Festival at McLaughlin House in Oshawa, Ontario…way back in 2011. I was taken with his reading…not only were the words amazing, but the delivery of them was flawless. I was on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Writers’ Conference at the time…and I struck up a conversation with Andrew about the possibility of him doing a workshop at the conference. All the board members had their antennae up back in those days…scouting talent for our beautiful new baby. Andrew fit the bill flawlessly.

Andrew has been with the OWC ever since. He consistently delivers amazing workshops for the organization. He has become a favourite of the conference attendees, myself included. This year, he wowed us with a workshop on DIALOGUE. It was informative and hands-on. I even got to read aloud a piece I wrote during the class, with Andrew taking on one of the two roles in the conversation. The workshop truly ignited the writer in me. I felt ready to bear witness…

I attended two other workshops… a short-story workshop by another conference favourite– Gwynn Scheltema. I left that one ready to submit my shorts! Gwynn is one of the writing instructors with WRITESCAPE.CA The other, from the lecture series, was with literary agent Olga Filina of The Rights Factory. I really loved her talk on all things YA and MG markets. I found it both informative and entertaining. Three for three!

Wayson Choy and I, from a previous year at the OWC...
Wayson Choy and I, from a previous year at the OWC…
The Incomparable Wayson Choy!
The Incomparable Wayson Choy! OWC2014

Add in the amazing buffet lunch (the best meal yet out of all the years I attended the conference), a great luncheon speaker in Linden MacIntyre and an equally wonderful closing speaker in Paula Todd…and it was an out-of-the-park success this year. Both Linden and Paula were edgy, hard-hitting and thematically on-course. Add in the prizes, the always fantastic emcee DOROTHEA HELMS, and, of course, the annual message of hope, love, praise, and inspiration by the Honorary Patron himself, Wayson Choy, and you have a perfect celebration of words.

And if all those things were not enough to make my day a magical one, I also had the company of friends. Old ones, new ones, close ones…some from near, some from far. Every year I find myself saying, “This was the best year yet!” But it was, it really was. I was open to this one so much, so ready to bear witness. Thanks to the organizing committee of the OWC for making this year so incredibly special. And thank you for allowing me to be a small part of it by taking me on as Manuscript Mentor…it was an honour and a joy.

See you next year!