WCDR, Writers Community of Durham Region

2018 WCDR Grants and Scholarships

Each year around this time the Writers’ Community of Durham Region has a call for its members to apply for writing grants and scholarships. Until last year, I always thought, ‘let someone else have it.’ Last year, though, I thought to myself, ‘I’m going away. I’m going away TO WRITE. So, why not? Why not me?’

So, I applied.

Earlier in the year I had this romantic notion of returning to Europe to begin work on a new novel. I sort of closed my eyes and pointed my finger at a map of Europe and landed on Belgium. By the time the WCDR Grants & Scholarships announcement came out, I had already booked a water-closet of a hotel room in the very heart of Brussels for a week. When the call came out, I jumped at the opportunity—NOT for the money, but for the support. There’s a big difference between those two things. I wanted a scholarship because it would be like the WCDR (an organization I love to my very tip-toes) was saying, “WE BELIEVE IN YOU! GO…WRITE!”

If you’re a WCDR member, don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Imagine yourself investing in your own writing life—put yourself in a workshop, at a writing conference, on a deserted island somewhere with the soul purpose of writing. And then believe in yourself enough to reach out to your writing group for validation. APPLY FOR THE GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE TO YOU!

I found the best part of receiving a grant was the way it felt like a permission slip to get on that plane and disappear into the streets of Brussels with my laptop TO WRITE. I swear, I worked harder knowing the honor was bestowed upon me by my fellow WCDR peeps.

Click on the WCDR image below to go to the Grants & Scholarships page of the website. Yes…you’ll have to send in a writing sample. Yes, you’ll have to fill out an application. Yes, it’ll take some time. You’re looking for WRITER VALIDATION. They are looking for a reason to validate you. It’s a process…and it’s worth the time it will take you to follow it properly. Just make sure you follow the guidelines to a tee.

cropped-New-logo-and-type-for-WCDR-at-approx-1150-1024x325.jpgThe WCDR is there for US. Don’t forget that. It’s the members who make it the nurturing organization it has grown into. Take advantage of the great opportunities the WCDR puts into our writing community. I did…and it was INCREDIBLE!

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The Grand-Place, Brussels. I stayed in a tiny hotel just two minutes from the heart of the gorgeous city of Brussels. Two minutes from this spectacular place. And I wrote! The WCDR validated my self-made retreat by awarding me a writing grant. They will do the same for you. Just ask. Fill out your 2018 WCDR Grants & Scholarships application today!

DEADLINE TO APPLY IS: FEBRUARY 28th, 2018

PS: It’s NOT TOO LATE to pre-order Pride Must Be A Place. It releases Feb 6th! (FYI-I worked on it in Brussels)

Bruges, Brussels, On Writing, WCDR, Writers Community of Durham Region, Writing Life

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.

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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.

Ann YK Choi, Festival of Authors, On Writing, Ontario Writers' Conference, OWC, Wayson Choy, WCDR, Writers Community of Durham Region, Writing Life

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
Muskoka Novel Marathon, WCDR, Writers' Community of Durham Region, Writing Life

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: