Monthly Archives: March 2010

“Dear Lucky Agent” Contest: Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

Today marks the kick-off to the fourth “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. The agent judge for this round is Regina Brooks, founder of Serendipity Literary in Brooklyn. She is the author of Writing Great Books for Young Adults.

I’m submitting my novel, BILLIE BOOTS, YOUR ROOTS ARE SHOWING to the contest. If you happen to be writing a book-length kids novel, this contest is for you too—check it out!



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I meant to post these as they happened but, as often happens, s**t happened.

Anyway, someone asked what I write (besides the odd post on this blog). Here are some short examples of my writing (and the sites are great resources for writers looking to get published!) that demonstrate my writing voice:


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The top 10 reasons writers write

Why do writers write? Why do sculptors chisel stone? Why do fish swim? 

I doubt that if you ask any dedicated writer, they’ll tell you they write “for the money!” Most of us realize that writing will most likely not make us rich (unless of course, your name is J.K. Rowling). But it WILL feed the “fire in the belly”—the passion that drives us. 

In speaking to other writers and eavesdropping on a number of author posts, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 reasons writers write, check it out:

Why do writers write?

1. To live. Writing is a source of life—a basic need to express oneself. It is what keeps us up at night.

2. To feel connected. To feel grounded. To feel centred.

3. To inform, educate, and give an audience something to enjoy.

4. To understand and be understood. To learn, and to heal—for the pen is mightier than the sword.

5. To rid the brain of “voices” (we writers do have a certain someone whispering in our ears, a muse perhaps).

6. To leave a legacy and make a mark in the world.

7. To be able to tell everyone they’re a writer (because writer’s are cool)

8. To give birth to a cast of characters and travel to far away places.

9. For the fun of it.

10. To live forever. To achieve immortality through the written words left behind… a bit vampish, yes.

According to Doris Lessing, writing is a delicious compulsion–one that perhaps only fellow writers can truly understand. And so, the sun rises. The grass grows. The stars come out at night. Bats fly. And I write. 

Fellow restless writers, why do YOU write?



Filed under Inspiration, Life and stuff

Tweet dreams and literary alchemy

I have a Twitter account. There, I said it.

This post is inspired by today’s Tweet from Paulo Coelho. Rumi: “What you seek is seeking you.” (o que você procura também está lhe procurando)

I have quickly learned that Twitter is simply another form of procrastination. A mild, yet amusing distraction to pretty much everything else. But what an enlightened day when I see a Tweet from novelist Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist, The Zahir, Veronika Decides to Die, The Winner Stands Alone).

Coelho is an inspiration. A true advocate of seeing the world through your own eyes and not others. I’m in a 3-year struggle (seeking publication) on my first novel, while Coelho writes a new book every two years, is translated into a ba-zillion languages and publishes short stories for Ode Magazine (with every issue devoting a page to him for his writing pleasure). His dream, shared by many—including myself, always was, and still is, to be a writer.

Change your day. Transform your outlook. Follow Paulo’s Tweets:


P.S.  And wish me luck as I continue to seek an agent for Billie Boots, Your Roots are Showing (Middle-Grade Fiction).

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Does this count?

TypewriterI finally tracked down the person to whom my favourite writing quote is attributed:

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

If you agree with Gloria Steinem, chime in!



Filed under Motivation

Truth is stranger than fiction

Sometimes Real life can be more amazing and difficult to believe than made-up stories. Here’s a little nugget from award-winning sci-fi author Nancy Kress.

Fiction is about stuff that’s screwed up.
~Nancy Kress

For more truth-telling insight (and of course, “how to get your stories off to a roaring start, keep them tight and crisp throughout, and end them with a wallop!”), check out: Elements of Writing Fiction – Beginnings, Middles & Ends, by Nancy Kress. Or better yet, find Nancy at her blog.


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Our superhero and scholarly friends

Do you struggle with naming your heroine? Do your dangling participles grasp the closest noun? Or perhaps, like Beyoncé, you have difficulty making sense of a ‘sweet dream vs. a beautiful nightmare’.  We can help! Check out our new and hot resources page. We have compiled a “top-30-and-growing” list of some of our favourite writing resources to help you stay out of the rejection pile. Sources like: Urban Dictionary, the Curious Dreamer, and Grammar Girl are just a few of our superhero, and scholarly friends. We invite you to send us some of your faves. Write on!

Resources for Writers: Check it all out here!


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Changing of the guard at A Different Drummer

According to last weekend’s Burlington Post, one of the things that Richard Bachmann is looking forward to in retirement is having more time to read books.

Hearing about Richard’s retirement, and about Ian Elliot’s new role as owner of A Different Drummer bookstore, led me to reflect on some of the things I learned in the nine months I worked at the best little bookstore in the GTA.

Simplify your life. Live where you work, or work where you live. Don’t lose valuable reading or writing time to long commutes.

Take long lunches whenever you can. This is especially important in the summer. And if you can get a craft beer named after your store, á la “Different Drummer Ale” as brewed by Pepperwood Bistro, enjoy a pint with your midday meal. Just don’t count on getting any work done in the afternoon.

Politeness counts. On my first day working the cash register, Jane taught me to say hello whenever a customer came into the store and to say thank you whenever a customer handed me their payment. It’s amazing to think that such little things can make a difference in a person’s day, but they really do.

A cat makes every space better. I still think fondly of Manda, the bookstore’s recently departed torti, but Abigail, the new(ish) kitten, is quickly stealing my heart.

Canadian authors are larger than life. Literally. Pierre Berton was really tall and intimidating, and I was honoured to have met him at a Different Drummer event.

I’m looking forward to reading Richard’s memoirs if he ever does write them.

Best wishes to both Richard and Ian.


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Filed under Author events, Books and stuff

Overcoming my “prejudice against poetry”

I had a wonderful meeting with the other two winners of the BPL all-night short story contest over the weekend. Karen Kachra, Jennifer Mook-Sang, and I met up at CJ’s Café in Bronte to get to know each other and read our prize-winning stories. (Which were lovely, by the way! I’m looking forward to reading more of their work in the future.)

Child covering eyes

You can't make me read it!

We chatted about what we liked to read for pleasure, and Karen mentioned feeling like she had a bit of a “prejudice against poetry”. (Love that phrase, Karen!)

The three of us agreed that poetry made us feel a bit dense. We expect it to be full of symbolism and deep thoughts and references that we just won’t get. Poetry seems like a lot of work.

Being required to take a graduate seminar on the long poem (think T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound) during one dark, Montreal winter may have ruined me for poetry. By that time, I had already finished my undergraduate degree in English Literature and published a few poems—I had had my fill.

Ten-plus years later, and I still generally skip the poetry in the literary journals I read. I’m drawn to the stories, the dialogue, the action.

But every once in a while, I’ll catch a word or a phrase in one of the poems I’m passing over—“violet night”, “vainglorious”, “this gritty pearl”—and sigh over the sensual power of language. I remember being amazed, way back when, by how poets more than anyone else get to play with words and use them in surprising ways to elicit emotional reactions.

It’s time I started reading poetry again. I’m looking for recommendations to help me get over my poetry prejudice. Jennifer and Karen recommended Billy Collins. Any others I should check out?



Filed under poetry