This coming SATURDAY (NOVEMBER 25th, 2017), I will be on the YOUNG ADULT PANEL at the BOOKAPALOOZA event in Whitby, Ontario. This is a yearly massive book sale with vendors from all over the GTA. It’s brought to you by the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION (WCDR). Hope to see you there! The YOUNG ADULT PANEL DISCUSSION begins at NOON. I’ll be on the panel with fellow authors M.E. GIRARD and MELANIE FISHBANE.
Social Media: TWITTER: @bookapaloozaGTA
Bookapalooza – Saturday, November 25, 2017 – 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Durham College, Whitby Campus – Centre for Food 1610 Champlain Avenue, Whitby, Ontario Free admission!
A GLIMPSE AT THE DAY’S PROGRAM:
Non-fiction – You Can’t Make this Stuff Up!
Panel to include Phil Dwyer, Ted Barris, Kristen den Hartog
YA Panel to include Kevin Craig, M-E Girard and Melanie Fishbane
Women’s Fiction Panel to include Marissa Campbell, Joan Frantschuk and Sharon Overend
2 – 3 p.m.
Bookapalooza Exhibitor Showcase: Yusuf A., Deja Beals, Jennifer Bogart, Bryan Davies, Dr. Michelle Dickie, Maria Jemmott, Angie Littlefield, Maighread MacKay, Clair McIntyre, Joe Mahoney, Jason Shannon, Cindy Stone and Maaja Wentz.
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 allthe 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.
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.
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!
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:
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).
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!
The 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!
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:
Yep! 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.
Centre for Food
1610 Champlain Ave.
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!
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!
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:
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.
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!
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?
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!
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!
So, I’m about to step into a new role on the Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR) Board of Directors. This was something I considered for a couple years. I was on the board several years ago, when I first joined the organization. After finishing an approximate 8 year stint on the Ontario Writers’ Conference Board of Directors, I felt it was time for a change. I cherish both organizations. I’ve seen a lot of growing pains and wonderful achievements through my stretch on the OWC board. The yearly conference is now running extremely smoothly. I’m extremely proud of what we accomplished. (click on the logo below to go to the OWC site)
It’s easy to walk away from something when it’s sparkling with achievement. And it’s easy as well to step onto another project when it too is sparkling with achievement. I’m going from one golden goose to another. Both of these organizations have much to be proud of…as both are run by dedicated and passionate people who do their best to present the public with a shining example of what an organization should be and how an organization should be run. The move, for me, is so simple. Though two completely separate entities, both organizations’ boards are populated with friends who are like-minded in their determination to make the creative writing community in their area among the best writing communities in the world. Both the WCDR and the OWC have become synonymous with par excellence.
Though I have finished my tenure with the OWC, I will continue to promote the conference here and elsewhere. You may be hearing a lot more about the WCDR from this point onward. What some nearby communities need to know is that the WCDR hosts monthly breakfast meetings that are an excellent source of networking and learning for writers. I hope to help spread the word about the organization and make its reach a little broader over the next couple of years. I would like to see Torontonians heading east to Ajax to take advantage of our community. These breakfast meetings are open to anyone who would care to attend. They are welcoming to writers of all levels and they have excellent industry speakers delivering valuable information in an amazingly friendly atmosphere of camaraderie.
I wish the Ontario Writers’ Conference a lifetime of success. I’m planning on attending now that I will be free to take it in from the other side of the desk and I’m really looking forward to that experience. Working with the organization has been such an amazing gift…I will miss the people and the process and the excitement of putting the yearly event together.
Come June, I will be the Vice President of an organization that has helped my growth as a writer TREMENDOUSLY over the past decade! As I step onto the Writers’ Community of Durham Region board, I urge others who have benefited from a non-profit volunteer organization to VOLUNTEER. It’s the best way I know of to show appreciation for the gifts you have received from said organization. You will find that by volunteering, you enrich your own experience with the organization too. By giving, you receive more! 🙂
I just came back from the monthly breakfast meeting hosted by the extraordinary Writers’ Community of Durham Region (WCDR)!
Sometimes these meetings prove to be more brain food than you’re expecting, but just the right amount you need. I was in the right place at the right time this morning. The guest speaker was DANIEL SCOTT TYSDAL, a man who gingerly walked us all out onto a taut tightrope, asked if we were comfortable and then snipped the end with a honkin’ huge pair of clown scissors. Well, at least figuratively speaking. Actually, I can imagine him sneaking up on the rope with said scissors, stopping to snicker, tip-toeing forward ever so slowly, and then POW! 100 writers free-falling to the death of their comforting yet stagnating common-sense.
Not exactly what he did, but I felt the security of the rope under my feet…and I felt the free-falling giddiness of having lost my breath by amazement. Like all great poets, Daniel Scott Tysdal seems to understand the need to leave the security of the laws of physics and normalcy behind when donning the POET hat. He left me feeling the need to get back into some poeting. That’s a good thing.
Every once in a little while you need someone to cut that string that holds you to the sharp-edged confines of reality. Judging by the air in the room at the Ajax Convention Centre this morning, that was handily accomplished. I felt these little cement balloons of normalcy lightening, melting, snapping and transforming into helium balloons of wild mind. Daniel held the secrets of the universe and he fed them to us one tiny little lie at a time. I walked away from the breakfast thanking the universe for offering up such a wizard this morning. I really really needed this. I have missed the juggling of words, the loose-lipped word leaves falling into the unstructured structure of poetic lines.
Here’s a poem for you to enjoy. Daniel Scott Tysdal on the Toronto Quarterly Journal’s website:
If you live in the GTA, don’t miss a WCDR Breakfast. Each meeting is a gift to creativity. They pump you up and ready you for your next adventure in writing. Community is such an important aspect of writing. And to think, for decades…nay…millennia, we thought it was a solitary act. The sitting, the foraging, the writing, the words on papering…sure…that’s solitary. But before the segregation…that’s the secret the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION has realized together. Before the segregation comes community. Together, we prepare ourselves for the rigueres of our solitary acts. We enter our offices and our dining rooms and our basements and our garages alone…but we all know that the writing community we leave behind is with us. We’re here for each other.
When the group has such profoundly explosive creative types as Daniel Scott Tysdal to entertain us…we know we’re doing the right thing. We’re widening our circle, exploring our craft and loosening the grip that reality has on us. We’re preparing ourselves for the cave. Today, when I crawl into that little cave to create, I will have new knowledge with me. I will have the memories of this breakfast meeting to spur me on. I’ll do my best to snip that concrete balloon that holds me to this earth, to float effortlessly into the wild mind needed to explore creation. And if I’m really lucky, I won’t be interrupted by any of that cumbersome spam that attacked Daniel today while he attempted to give his talk to his enthralled audience. (-:
While I enter the solitary silence, I’ll leave you with the book trailer for my second novel, SEBASTIAN’S NOVEL…a book I wrote in solitary confinement with a head filled with community.
It’s official. I’ve been taking writing seriously now for TEN WHOLE YEARS! I found it extremely hard to believe this fact. During the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION January Breakfast Meeting, I was presented with a certificate of appreciation for being a member in good standing for 10 years. I was shocked when they called my name. I had no idea ten years had gone by since I first found the courage to admit to myself (and others) that I was a writer. When I mailed in my membership form to the WCDR I thought for sure they would send it back to me with a gruff little note on it stating something about them only allowing REAL writers to join their exclusive club. I was CERTAIN of it, in fact.
I stayed away from the organization’s events for the first few months. I was too afraid of being turned away at the door. What is it about some writers who just can’t seem to accept the fact that ANYONE can write. All you need is the desire to do so. I didn’t believe that was true. I imagined myself infiltrating this writing organization. I had to sneak into one of their events…unnoticed and unassuming. So…after several months of seeing their Breakfast Meetings being promoted in the local newspaper, I finally gained the courage to register. I would show up and if they grilled me too badly and discovered that I wasn’t a REAL writer, I would just quietly slither away and disappear into the dark crevice from which I had come.
It didn’t happen. I was immediately accepted. I was sat down with some newbies and some veterans. Everybody was so nice and inviting. I FOUND MY COMMUNITY!
When I returned to my seat last month with my certificate, I first experienced a bit of sadness. 10 years. On the trip back from the front of the room I kind of took an inventory of the accomplishments I made in those 10 years. It was a bit of a mood crusher at first.
Then I thought, “Shut the hell up!” I no longer want to listen to that negative voice that makes me miss out in the good things. Had I listened to that voice 10 years ago, I would not have found the friends I made through the WCDR. I would not have had the awesome experiences I had through WCDR events and networking. My life is RICHER because of this organization. I’m proud to be a member. They have helped me as a writer and as a person. I couldn’t imagine not being a member.
A community is as good as its people. There are so many beautiful people in the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION. I encourage anybody in the area to take the plunge. You will thank me. I thank myself all the time for finally gaining the courage to take those first steps. Walking into this writing community was one of the best things I’ve ever done. So, at this 10th anniversary of my membership, I say to myself, “many happy returns!”