WORDWORKS BRITISH COLUMBIAâ€™S MAGAZINE FOR WRITERS
THE FICTION ISSUE
Haida Manga 6 Occult Special Investigator 8 Crime Fiction 10 Edgy Urban Fantasy 12 Flash Fiction 11 Romance 13 Historical Fiction 14
The Winning Story of the BC-Yukon Short 16
2020 Volume III Free In selected markets
2 WORDWORKS ï¸± 2020 Volume III
WORDWORKS BRITISH COLUMBIA’S MAGAZINE FOR WRITERS
2020 VOLUME III POETRY
21 Joanna Streetly
Prose Poetry: the Mystery Cat of Poetic Forms
22 Cornelia Hoogland
Each Quivering Heart: A Poetic and Sculptural Collaboration
8 Jes Battis
Trust Your Characters: Balancing People and Plot
18 Pat Dobie
Getting Unstuck: Strategies for Writing Fiction
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas Telling an Ancestral Story with Haida Manga
J.G. Toews 10 Breaking into Crime John Gould 11 Finding the Haiku of Fiction W.L. Hawkin 12 Plotting Your Novel Using Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey Ev Bishop 13 Fall in Love with Romance Jerena Tobiasen 14 On the Search for Authenticity Lenore Rowntree Top Tips for a Writer Producing Theatre 15
19 Michelle Barker and David Brown Backstory: Handle With Care
20 Faye Arcand
Show Don’t Tell
2 The President’s Letter 3 A Letter from the Executive Director 3 Jenn Ashton: Artist’s Statement 4 Jacqueline Carmichael: Digital in a Pandemic 24 Contributors
26 The Classifieds 27 Launched 32 Prompts by Mary Ann Moore and Cory McRae
WINNER OF THE BC-YUKON SHORT 16
Wiley Ho: Masquerade
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acqueline Carmichael The President’s Letter
Chris Hancock Donaldson photo
I’d like to thank the board of directors for the opportunity to serve as the president of the Federation of British Columbia Writers. I look forward to building on the good foundations laid by the directors who have worked hard to build our capacity to serve the writing community. Please join with me in welcoming Bryan Mortensen as the new executive director! Bryan brings twelve years of experience in leadership of not-for-profits and at the University of Alberta. His expertise is at work in everything from membership to fundraising, and we’re looking forward to good years ahead for this organization, making sure that a time of change is one of growth as well. It’s been a strange season: the spring and summer of the pandemic blurred together, flattened by the absence of the usual milestones: vacations, conferences, reading events, even hair appointments, cancelled. It’s at times like these we need connection more than ever—a way to keep honing craft and assembling face-toface, even if it’s by teleconferencing. That includes our annual general meeting (AGM) set for Zoom on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2020, at 2:00 p.m.
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Our keynote speaker is Wayde Compton, award-winning author of 49th Parallel Psalm, Performance Bond, After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region, and The Outer Harbour. He edited Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature and The Revolving City: 51 Poems and the Stories Behind Them. Compton co-founded the Hogan’s Alley Memorial Project, to raise awareness about the history of Vancouver’s Black community. He teaches creative writing at Douglas College. The Federation of BC Writers offers online continuing education classes at a bargain price of $20 for members. Barb Drozdowich develops the Fed’s popular continuing education programming for writers, and her events continue with the September 13, 2 p.m. Sunday Webinar with Gone Viking author Bill Arnott. Bill outlines foolproof strategies to maximize your book’s success with tools to brand, promote and market your book and enjoy doing it! As of September 1, entries are open for the flash fiction contest, the BC-Yukon Flash 2020. Our judge for this event is Karen Schauber. She is the editor and curator of The Group of Seven Reimagined: Contemporary Stories Inspired by Historic Canadian Paintings (Heritage House, 2019), celebrating the Canadian modernist landscape painters. For a complete list of upcoming events, find registration at bcwriters.ca/ events-for-writers. See you online!
WordWorks is published by THE FEDERATION OF BC WRITERS PO Box 3503 Courtenay, BC V9N 6Z8 970 View Avenue Courtenay V9N 5R2 www.bcwriters.ca | firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Copyrights remain with original copyright holders. All other work © The Federation of BC Writers 2020. All Rights Reserved. ISSN: 0843-1329 WordWorks is provided free three times a year, to members of the FBCW and to selected markets. It is available on our website and in BC libraries, schools, and historical societies. Join us at www.bcwriters.ca. FBCW Annual Membership Rates Regular: $80 | Senior: $45 | Youth: $25 FBCW BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Jacqueline Carmichael Vice President: Doni Eve, Treasurer: Francesca Gesualdi, Secretary: Sheilagh Simpson. Directors: Barbara Drozdowich, Ruth Lloyd, Wawmeesh Hamilton, Andrea Guldin, Randy Fred, Bill Arnott and Jenn Ashton Advisory Committee: JJ. Lee, Steven Price, Esi Edugyan, Alan Twigg, Gail Anderson Dargatz, Anne Tenning, Betsy Warland, Darrel McLeod. WORDWORKS STAFF Managing Editor: Ursula Vaira, Advertising Manager: Jessica Cole, Typesetting and Graphic Design: Ursula Vaira Cover Execution: Mario Vaira/Five Fathom Studios Editorial Board: Chelsea Comeau, Barbara Pelman, Caitlin Hicks, Adelia MacWilliam, Christine Lowther, Clare Appezzato UPCOMING THEME 2021 Vol I: Non-Fiction. Pitch article ideas and cover art to by October 15, 2020. CONTESTS The FBCW runs annual writing contests. Please check the website for details. ADVERTISING WordWorks advertises services and products that are of genuine interest to writers. Email Jessica Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Federation of BC Writers acknowledges that Indigenous writers have not been able to take their deserved place in the literary culture due to wounding by colonization, by racism, and by the failure of the gatekeepers to recognize a rich culture of storytelling, to nurture Indigenous writers, and to share opportunities to be heard and honoured. We will continue to invite those writers and their stories; to read, to listen, include, support, and recommend. As well, we know the power of the written word and strive to recognize and call out biased language; to use instead the language of inclusion and dignity and autonomy when we speak about reconciliation. The Federation of BC Writers gratefully acknowledges the support of the Province of BC, the BC Arts Council, The Canada Council for the Arts, and the Magazine Association of BC.
The Executive Director’s Letter
After serving in leadership roles in not-for-profits and at the University of Alberta over the last twelve years, I’m excited to be the new executive director for the Federation of British Columbia Writers. Like many of you, I am an emerging writer. In my case, that is code for “hoping to be published in the not-too-distant future.” Our work as writers is vital to our communities. We are the storytellers shaping not just our history, but ideas and experiences. We shape the world by doing our work as artists. And I want to help each of you tell your story, regardless of what medium you use. As executive director, my primary objective is to continue supporting our members while seeking opportunities to enhance and expand our programming and services. My greatest wish in this role is that members feel they are getting true value for their memberships. I look forward to getting to know you all as I settle in and am excited to see what we can accomplish together. I am honoured to join such a unique and vibrant community.
The Cover Artist
"Who are all these people?" my husband asks me regularly, which is always answered with a shoulder shrug on my end. I began my life as a visual artist in 2015 and it quickly became my full-time work, my passion, and our income. Thankfully, being a beginner, I feel I am always in practice mode and so have the freedom to play and experiment every day. This is where the faces come in. Usually, as I learned in the 6-week online class I took, I paint intuitively, that is to say, I make marks, slop on colour, and after a minute or a day my pareidolia kicks in and I see what my painting will become. With the faces it is a bit different, as ninety percent of the time they are planned. "I am going to do a face," I say, and I do. I use faces as my practice because of course I have one and can use myself as a model. I have done so many selfies you might think me narcissistic, but I promise you, it is only so I can learn about shape and shading. Although I set out to draw a face, there is no saying who it is unless you count the maybe half a dozen times I have tried to copy a photo. In the end, I don't know who they are, or what language they speak and it doesn't matter, they are all my friends. 2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 3
acqueline Carmichael Digital in a Pandemic World
That giant closing sound we heard in mid-March? Scheduled brick-and-mortar events imploding. It got the attention of the literary world globally. Poetry readings, fiction book launches, the Fed’s own Spring Writes meet-up—postponed, delayed, cancelled for the pandemic moment. Binge-watching Netflix became a respected strategy for dealing with sudden, enforced isolation as COVID-19 shredded plans for craft-honing, and personal travel used to re-energize and reconnect. Enter a company we might have bought shares in six months ago. Tech lovers and Luddites alike had to quickly figure Zoom out, for family and business reasons. “When the going gets tough” … ”When life gives you lemons … ” The answer for many was … “You go digital.” That “aha!” moment came for the FBCW when three poets in the Kootenay region were going to be out a launch and League of Canadian Poets funding for readings at a Castlegar Fed event organized for World Poetry Day. After drafting a “cancelled” version of the poster, it was time to think outside the brick-and-mortar box. Individual videos,
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made by the poets, were uploaded to a YouTube channel, which was then “launched” with a social media blitz. A flurry of notes from members confirmed the comfort of cocooning was diminished by fear and anxiety. Worries were compounded by questions: Was it safe to pick up the mail? When could I see my friends and elder relatives again? It was obvious we needed to step up; the BC-Yukon Quite Determined Eco-Friendly Online Literary Road Trip was born. A series of Zoom-based events bringing us together, across the miles, from the safety of our own home offices and patios. Initially, a room to hang out, to read our work, to see each other’s faces, to be heard, informal Zoom orientations let members dip toes into videoconferencing. Topical chats (“how to record your work”) led to experts who could inform and answer questions. We enlisted the help of other volunteers willing to share with fellow writers from the far-flung corners of the BC-Yukon region and beyond; three different streams of
A flurry of notes from members confirmed the comfort of cocooning was diminished by fear and anxiety. quickly developed some strategies for keeping sanity while hosting Zooms: sharing the link via message or email, but NOT posting publicly, to avoid “Zoom bombing,” where unfriendly pranksters use chaos to disrupt. During the events, muting mics avoided ambient noise hijacking the camera. Since we serve writers a thousand kilometres away from each other, we plan to keep Zoom as an important tool in our mission to serve our members by letting them know they’re not alone, showcasing their work and their successes, helping them hone their craft, and helping them get published. We’re adding more programming, and enlisting volunteers equally fascinated with the potential online programming has for our members. Drop me a line if you’d like to have a part in our online work, or if you’re interested in volunteering in another area. I’d love to hear from you at email@example.com.
Kendall J. Larson design
on-line events emerged: Coffee Break, Mondays at 7:00 p.m. Pacific, the Author Connection on Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. Pacific, and an open mic event. Additionally, board member Barb Drozdowich was already scheduling monthly Zoom continuing education workshops for members, such as the Sunday, Sept. 13, session on cross-promotion with Bill Arnott. Charlene Patterson’s brick-and-mortar spoken-word venue, Alberni Valley Words on Fire, was enlisted. Emcee Stephen Novik stepped up to double the number of open mic events to the second and last Wednesdays of the month at 7:00 p.m. That meant more feature readers from the FBCW membership. Without the ferry ride and the hilly highway lovingly known as “the Hump,” Zoom allowed writers to take the open mic from places like Whitehorse, Ontario, Ohio, via one link at charslanding.com. For the Coffee Break and Author Connection, we
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WW: Tell me why you wanted to bring this story to a wider audience.
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas A Tale of Two Shamans Telling an ancestral story with Haida Manga
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MNY: Well, let me just work backwards a little bit and just say that this story seems to take place in Sk’a.aaws, which is located near Naden, which we now call Naden Harbour, which seems to be the only clear geography that I could see in the three accounts of the story. Interestingly, Sk’a.aaws is in the news right now this very same day because of Queen Charlotte Lodge, a commercial sport fishing, or as we call it, fish for funners operation is scaring people in the area. And so it in a way speaks to the story, which is about being blind, and sightedness as well. It’s about our characters in this parable coming to realize that there is an Unseen World that is existing simultaneously with everything that they see, and I think that the situation that’s occurring right now between the Queen Charlotte Lodge and the women from Haida Gwaii really speaks to the fact that there are different ways of looking at the same world. It’s the sort of arrogance of thinking that we have full understanding of everything that’s going on, and that can cause fear and consternation amongst other people around us. As I say in the foreword, all good stories serve a purpose and if an old story serves no purpose it withers on the vine and disappears. So this story, I think, with the situation in Naden Harbour, can serve a purpose. Just the fact that you are reaching out and we’re doing this interview. I think the challenge for us is how do we explain this story as being relevant? Not being archaic. It’s not a sweet little bobble from some distant past, or a bobble that hangs from the headdress of an imaginary Indian. Somehow we need to find a way to express the stories having relevance to all of us, regardless of ethnicity, and that is very much what drives me in the whole art adventure I’ve been calling Haida Manga: how do we represent indigeneity in a way that people from other ethnicities can see the humanness of the Indigenous ethnicity? The theory that I have is if people can see through all the filters and fabrication and see the human, see the mother, the father, the daughter, the son, the sister, the
All good stories serve a purpose, and if an old story serves no purpose it withers on the vine and disappears.
brother, then the ongoing horror of being an Indigenous person in the Canadian experience will be much minimized and that would apply to any sort of conflicts, whether they are true or fabricated based on ethnicity and class, you know, you demonize the other, to hide a more difficult situation, a ruse. This relationship in the Canadian experience between Indigenous and settler peoples and state institutions is not unique to this time or unique to this geography. This is the human condition. The fortunate thing, I think, based on my experience at home on Haida Gwaii and the political world there, is that the driving force for identity and expression amongst Indigenous peoples, and perhaps I just need to say Haida because I don’t want to sort of do the pan-Indian talk, but the driving force is not seeking revenge or retribution, and I know that to be so because I’ve been inside, you know, I’ve been inside that world for almost thirty years. And it really is to try and do something better. And I think that’s really important for us to reflect on, because often when one is hit the desire to hit back is so overwhelming that we just re-energize the violence. So all the loss, the population loss, the onslaught, the assault on every element of Indigenous identity—without exception I don’t know of any that have not been attacked and marginalized—all that loss has not been so much a loss if we can actually realize that the Haida articulation of Haida views on fish for fun for example, or BC Timber Sales logging, or mining, or offshore oil drilling, or pipelines, that the articulation of the Haida position is not to injure other people. It’s not revenge and assault, it’s actually trying to say look, we’ve got a real serious problem here collectively, and we need to figure out a system change. We can’t just tinker this way and that way, we’re really in a very leaky boat and everyone has to pay attention to this leak and we have to repair the damage. Otherwise we all perish. Seeing the situation that way I think is really quite hopeful. Yeah, so the reason why we have Haida Mzanga is basically to try and present these older narratives, these living
narratives, and narratives yet be constructed, and ethnic identity of Haida in a way that people can see us as markedly different than we have been presented previously. WW: Thanks for telling me about it, Michael. It’s an awesome book, and I’m so happy to have had this chance to talk with you. A Tale of Two Shamans is told with parallel texts in the Old Massett, Skidegate and Kaigani (Alaskan) dialects of Xaad Kil/ Xaayda Kil/Xaad Kil, the Haida language. Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas spoke to WordWorks by telephone. The interview was edited for length.
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es Battis Trust your characters: Balancing People and Plot
do most of my writing in the fantasy and mystery genres, and both of these traditions are often criticized for being “plot-based.” Despite the fact that such forms are enormously popular and have rich histories going back to the origins of storytelling, they’re still seen as lacking in characterization. But it’s more than possible to find a balance between world-building, plot pacing, and characterization. I talk about this a great deal in my creative writing classes, where the majority of students are often writing some form of genre fiction (to be clear: genre fiction is just fiction that a lot of people read, and can’t be considered as a monolithic whole). There’s no secret formula to create a healthy medium between plot and characterization. But there are some strategies which have helped me—even if I don’t always follow them to the letter (it’s your story, after all). Judy Blume tells us to care about our characters, which is deceptively simple advice. To care about these people, you have to know them. I make D&D-style sheets for my characters, listing their abilities, hopes, fears, wants, needs, mistakes, and connections across the story. Don’t roll the dice with your characters, though. They should do things for a reason. Neil Gaiman says that the most basic form of a plot is when two characters want different things. You can weave an entire story around this struggle, and it works especially well if the characters are close. As you figure out why this conflict exists, you’ll develop both your characters and your plot. You should know what they sound like, how they’ll react in different situations. Find ways to distinguish them—in rapid-fire dialogue, you need the reader to understand who’s who. Read it aloud to ensure that everyone has a particular sound and feel. In her book Little Fish, Casey Plett includes a character who’s very precise in her speech, and her voice is always distinct. Does your character swear? Mumble? Monologue? Ask yourself why, and how it makes them unique. Multiple perspectives can also help you to link character and plot. In her fantasy epic The Winged
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Histories, Sofia Samatar tells the story from four points of view. Each of these women experiences similar events in radically different ways, and we learn about them by how they react to key moments (for example, one character gets drunk and rants, while her future love interest watches unseen in the background). If you’re going to include characters whose lived experience isn’t your own, be sure to consult with communities and hire sensitivity readers to assess your work. N.K. Jemisin has some excellent resources on her author site for writing about Black characters in the fantasy genre, but you have to do more than just research. Ask yourself why you need to tell this character’s story, and if you’re the best person to tell it. If you’re simply reflecting the diversity in your own communities, then you should know people that you can consult with (as long as they’re willing). If not—maybe it’s not your story to tell.
You can weave an entire story around this struggle, and it works especially well if the characters are close.
A good mystery novel seems to hinge on plot, but it’s often the characters that drive these stories. In her own character-driven work, Tana French creates a complex relationship between the detective and the victim, so that the deceased is more than just a body. Her detectives are always learning about themselves as they approach each case. Sara Gran incorporates elements of deconstruction in her Claire Dewitt mystery novels by creating an imaginary detective school that unites her flawed protagonists. She uses minimalism to tell us about her characters: “I looked normal. Or as much as I ever would.” She also makes use of dream sequences, and this is a fun way to reveal character information. I do this in my novel Bleeding Out to show how each character behaves at an imaginary fair, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer devotes a whole episode to a shared dream vision. Eden Robinson uses dreams in her Trickster series to develop her central character, Jared, while also tying in significant elements of his shared Haisla and Heiltsuk worldviews. My agent once told me that every scene should have some tension, however subtle. As writers, you can weave in that tension while exposing your characters as well. Why are they nervous about a trip? Why do they need this conversation to go in a certain way? What nagging doubt is lodged in the pit of their stomach? By figuring out what your characters want (and what they fear), you’ll be able to tell a story that reveals who they are. They’re going to be different from you—need different things—but you still must empathize with them on some level. Especially the villains (since a good villain thinks they’re the hero). Tell a story that lets your characters shine, and they’ll help you discover the plot along the way. Trust in their knowledge, and in your own, as well. 2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 9
Breaking into Crime
WW: First of all, Nelson, the beautiful Nelson. How do people like having their town be the background for your books? JGT: You know, the response from the community has been fantastic. At first I was nervous about calling Nelson, Nelson. I mean, it’s a small town. I get advice on procedural issues from the local police department. I’ve also shadowed the reporters at the Nelson Star, which made me probably the world’s oldest intern. But Nelson is such a special place. My editor, my first reader, and my husband all urged me to be up front about where my stories are set. And I have to say, it feels right. WW: How did you learn to be a crime writer? JGT: The forensic angle caught my interest, maybe because I have a background in science. My first stab at writing fiction was a bit of a departure, but when I borrowed a book called Forensics: A Guide for Writers by D.P. Lyle, I was hooked. He is a cardiologist who writes mysteries, and he started writing about forensics for writers because he was frustrated with some of the improbable scenarios that turn up in crime fiction. I was really happy to make a connection between what I studied and practised in my career and this new writing of mysteries. My big break came when I was shortlisted for an Arthur Ellis Award for best unpublished manuscript. That got the attention of an agent and he connected me with Mosaic Press. I always encourage aspiring crime writers to enter the Crime Writers of Canada contest. And to seek professional advice for how to write a good synopsis and application. 10 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
WW: Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for emerging writers trying to break into the genre? JGT: Well, I guess to read read read, which is what everybody says. And nowadays it’s so easy to get to know writers you admire through author websites and social media. One of the Author Ellis jurors encouraged me to attend a big event called Bouchercon when it was in Toronto. It was a terrific opportunity to meet fans and other authors. She told me to take a friend—it can be overwhelming to find yourself surrounded by hundreds of people from all over the globe. At Left Coast Crime, another big festival, which was held in Vancouver in 2019, there were back-to-back panels and loads of opportunities to run around plugging books, handing out bookmarks and such, lots of face-to-face chats with fans and authors. A.J. Devlin and I were shortlisted for Best Debut Mystery Novel, a huge honour in a predominantly American conference. At present COVID is putting the kibosh on events like that, but there is no lack of opportunities to connect online. WW: Any other advice? JGT: I belong to the Writers Union of Canada as well as to the FBCW and Crime Writers of Canada—an important network for crime writers of all stripes. During the pandemic, I’m finding Sisters in Crime to be an excellent resource. They do loads of webinars and have a really useful newsletter, and again, it’s another super way to connect with other writers. All this networking takes time but it’s fun too, and the connections can be invaluable. WW: Thank you Judy. This is so useful for emerging writers in the genre. Congratulations for the recognition Give Out Creek received. I’m looking forward to Lucky Jack Road coming out this month.
ohn Gould’s Sudden Stories Finding the Haiku of Fiction
WW: Amy Reiswig, writing in Focus Magazine, said that The End of Me is a hybrid of haiku and short story. Do you like that definition? JG: I do, I do. It’s illuminating because it’s actually how I came to write in this form. I was reading a lot of the old masters of haiku, and writing haiku, just sort of playing around, and I realized I was having more fun doing that than writing stories. Somehow getting closer to what I wanted to do in fiction. So I decided to try to see what the haiku of fiction would be. What if I brought some of the same principles, the quickness and lightness, the openness to paradox and irony, and just this huge pressure on concision that you find in haiku—what if I brought that to my stories? It was later on that I realized that there were other people working in the very short form, that of course there’s a history to it. WW: That’s so interesting because your sudden stories have got all the elements of fiction and they’re powerful enough to handle philosophy—just like poems and haiku. How do you achieve this in such small spaces? JG: I don’t know, is the short answer. I think writers looking to try it should, as with any form, do a lot of reading, and spend a lot of time experimenting. In a short story the idea is to begin in the middle. In a very short story you really have to begin very close to the core moment of the story, right? A lot of the skills of a shortstory writer would be sharpened by the extra compression required of the very short story.
One thing I’ll say about my approach is that it may be a bit distinctive, even heretical. Most writing guides these days tend to encourage a writer to do a whole bunch of writing, get heaps of material down and then start weeding through—start cutting back to locate the good stuff. In my case, I actually do a fair bit of the work of compression before I start writing. My sense of haiku is that you don’t sit down and slog at it, you don’t pound out fifty lines and then cut it down to three. It’s more about an attentive, open waiting for an experience to coalesce in some way that you can articulate. There’s a waiting and a preparation, and for me, that’s an important part of the process of composition. I’ll have something on my mind, something that’s puzzling or unsettling, a human predicament that intrigues me. I’ll sit with it for a while, trying to let that idea find a way to be expressed. Through what character, in what fictional situation, in what voice, and so on. When I do start putting words down, I want there to be quite a bit of force behind them. So, again, the idea of the haiku is to try to execute it in one go. That doesn’t mean you nail it right away, but you try to get the essence down all at once. Then it might be months or years of work, not just tinkering but continuing to drill down into the material. With flash or sudden fiction, I think the process of revision is extra important, because there’s a huge premium on language. You have to make it count, and keep finding a way to go deeper. WW: I really like that idea. Thank you, John, for spending time with me. Congratulations on being a finalist for the Giller—I wish you every other success with the book too.
Visit johngould.ca to find links for three films by Corey Lee of enriquePoe Moving Pictures adapted from Kilter: 55 Fictions. A useful resource for people in BC is Vancouver Flash Fiction and their FaceBook page run by Karen Schauber. Interview edited for length. 2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 11
Plotting Your Novel Using Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey
WW: I love your tag line for this series: “Meet the Hollystone witches—a Wicca coven who solve murders using ritual magic and a little help from the gods.” I’m curious about how you arrived at using the Mythic Hero Journey to structure your novels. WLH: Thirty years ago I ran into Joseph Campbell’s work and just started reading everything I could find by him. He became a mentor for me. What I found later was that his work on the hero’s journey, which is brilliant, is kind of inaccessible because he’s such a scholar, right? It’s deep reading. Then I read Christopher Vogler’s book—he took Joseph Campbell’s work and made it accessible to everybody. He’s a Hollywood screenwriter. His book is called The Writer’s Journey, Mythic Structure for Writers. It’s a really great book, and I find that if I have some inkling of a project I want to do, I start reading his book and it just all starts to fall into place. It’s a very inspirational tool. WW: You suggest that this model can be used for other forms of writing too—mystery and romance? WLH: It is a really flexible structure and I use it really flexibly myself—is that a word, “flexibly”?—maybe it is now. I know this structure so well in my head. Once you learn it you start analyzing movies as you’re watching—Oh, the cat’s out of the bag … I see what they’re doing there. Okay. I understand that. My favourite part of the whole hero’s journey is the ordeal scene where the hero looks like they’re going to die or lose. 12 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
WW: Where can I send readers to learn about your workshops? WLH: I have detailed outlines and flow charts including examples of the hero’s journey structure in movies at https://prezi.com/p/edit/v_k4w1ac-xps/ Anyone can see them there for free. WW: So generous, Wendy. Before I let you go, can you tell us about the latest covers? Beautiful! WLH: You know, it’s so amazing because the young woman who did those, Yasaman Mohandesi, I was doing a lot of work with her last year in mediumship and psychic development. I knew she was a graphic artist, so I texted her and said, Would you be interested in doing the covers? We sat down in a brainstorm Zoom meeting and came up with the series Tattoo Editions. I wrote a journal entry about the process here: bluehavenpress.com. Aren’t they stunning? WW: Yes, I agree! I love all three of them. Thanks for doing this with me Wendy.
Fall in Love with Romance WW: How did you find those first few readers?
WW: First of all, congratulations on the River’s Sigh series. Eight books! They must have quite a following by now. EB: My hope was that it would grow book by book, and I’m lucky that seems to be what happened. WW: I noticed that Greenridge is actually your fictionalized home town. Has anyone identified with a character? EB: Funny, someone told me she had been upset about what a friend was going through, when she realized she was talking about a character in one of my books! She said, “Yeah, they just feel like friends to me!” WW: Wow. What a great compliment. EB: That was, yeah. It was my favourite. I remember it very well. WW: What inspired you to write romance? EB: Well, one of the things is that there is such a voracious appetite in romance readers. They tend to read all over the board and they tend to read at least a book a week, or sometimes multiple books a week. It’s a struggle for every writer, regardless of genre, trying to find those first few readers. I think your chances of growing your readers through word of mouth are greater with romance because there are so many people who read it. Interestingly, many people never say they read romance. But sales don’t lie— people read it.
EB: The number one technique is the newsletter. It’s just the very best way to connect with someone who has already expressed interest in hearing about your next book. Every other author I talk to says exactly the same thing. Sometimes people feel intimidated by one more thing to do, but I think of it as, Wow, I have people who actually want to hear from me every month. WW: Can you recommend any resources to help emerging writers learn about writing romance? EB: The FBCW has always been a great resource for writers of all genres. Also most cities and even quite a few small towns have writers’ groups. Online there’s a wealth of romance writing organizations like Romance Divas. If you have questions, they’ve got a really good forum. I made lots of really helpful connections that way. Romance Writers of America has a chapter alive and well in Vancouver. On the Island I can’t say enough good things about Vancouver Island Romance Authors, VIRA for short, and they are a great group—super knowledgeable, super friendly. And, for anybody wanting to jump in and start their own book, if you plug “how to write a romance” into your internet browser, you’ll get tons of good information. What I did is I looked up a romance publisher and used their writing guidelines as my “how to write my first romance.” It was totally different than anything I’d done before—I just winged it, trying to incorporate the things they said romance books should have. It was super fun to do and I thought it was pretty good. So I sent it to them. I heard back in less than forty-eight hours. That’s the quickest return I’ve ever had on a query! So that’s another way, and it would work for any genre. Find a publisher and see what they’re specifically looking for in a book and use that as a writing prompt. WW: That’s such good advice. Such a good idea. Thank you very much, Ev. It’s been wonderful talking to you. 2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 13
WW: I first want to say congratulations on the series and on the awards you've won. It's wonderful to see! And I understand that you wrote The Prophecy saga after you retired? JT: In the summer of 2015 I took a writing course at SFU just to be more familiar with what's required in writing something of a volume because I'd only ever written short stories or essays or poems. This saga is based on true stories I’d been carrying around with me for about thirty years. It was written in my head. Just a matter of putting it on paper. And so I finished my previous work just before Christmas and the first Monday in January I sat down and started writing. I finished the manuscript by the end of February. Then I gave it to a structural editor and she said it was too big, I’d have to split it in half. But I said I couldn’t do that, it had to be three. Then my husband and I went to Europe and we travelled in the path of my characters, following in their footsteps. When I came back, I took those three stories and embellished them based on my experiences and perceptions and ended up with three novels. WW: That's an amazing story in itself. 14 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
JT: Well, I figure if I'm going to be writing historical fiction, I want it to be as authentic as I can make it, and yeah, there might be the odd bit in there that requires a leap of faith, but the historical characters referenced were real, and what they said is a direct quote from something I read. I don't know if your characters talk to you but mine do. They've been with me forever. My husband always says, “I don't just live with one person. I live with families and people I've never met before but I know a lot about them.” WW: I noticed that you published your own books. So besides beginning a new career as a writer, you also had to learn how to publish and market and distribute. JT: I've learned a lot more than I planned on that’s for sure. I self-published and I had a reason for that. My motherin-law, who was in her nineties, and my mother both really wanted to read the story they were already so familiar with. So I was driven—I didn't have time to find publishers and take two or three years to convince somebody that it was a
worthwhile project. I cast about until I found somebody who was comfortable to work with and they helped me publish. Then I engaged another branch of their office to help me with the marketing. They had great advice and were ever so helpful. I don't know if you've ever heard of Cascadia Author Services in Victoria. They have all sorts of packages that you can pick and choose from. WW: Any advice for new writers? I truly believe in courses that help you get started, but when it comes to whether you plot or you write by the seat of your pants, I don't think that is so important. What's important is listening to your heart and writing what you think or you feel and just get your thoughts on paper. Then worry about the rest. If you've got a good story just write it…what’s that term, stream of thought? Let it go. WW: Is that how you wrote your book in two months? JT: Yes. That’s what I did. WW: Thank you for telling me about it Jerena. I enjoyed this time with you.
Photo by Robert Douglas
On the Search for Authenticity
op Tips for a Writer Producing Theatre Lenore Rowntree
Finding a producer can be tough. A few of us co-wrote a piece of documentary theatre on the tricky subject of mental health. We intended to act too, and then everyone, myself included, got stage fright. But I got determined to see the play mounted. A steep learning curve and a lick of luck later, I became a first-time producer and director. Don’t wait to be ready. You’ll never be ready. Great things happen when you dive in. Don’t worry whether your play is relevant. Tapping into what is trendy is impossible; once you’ve figured out what’s “in,” it’s usually on its way “out.” If you’re interested, the rest will come. Beg for money. Grants. Grants. Grants. Find those that fit your project. Study websites and attend information sessions. Call or meet with granting officers, and pay attention to what you’re told. Hit all the items on the funder’s checklist, but also find a way to tell your story. Make sure your budget balances. Don’t tell the granting officer you don’t believe in grants, or that the project won’t happen if they don’t fund. And don’t sell yourself short—if you omit including a budget item for yourself as producer, it smacks of desperation. Funders want to support artists, not keep them in poverty. Spend longer writing your application than your limited patience thinks it can stand, and have a business-minded friend look over the budget. Keep begging. Theatre is expensive. If someone wants to help with a go-fund-me project, costume-making, advertising, or set design, let them. Look for partners to provide items you need (avoid sponsors out for themselves, e.g., those who want to market the homebrew kombucha you’re not set up to serve and will make a sticky mess). Do not hold yourself up to the altar of mainstage theatre with its quality sound, lighting and sets. Remember doing the Front Porch Players or Backyard Bards as a kid? Those productions worked out just fine. Find a Festival. The thing that let me produce with eight paid actors and a stage manager on a $4,000 grant was finding a friendly festival. The festival took care of some or all of venue, front of house, marketing (you’ll still need to spread the word), lighting, sound and ticket sales. Research festivals and find one that fits your production. Having a borderline ridiculous title is sometimes enough, especially if you’re going for a Fringe. Our title was SRO Stars. SRO
means single room occupant, which is how many people with disabilities live in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside including the majority of the playwrights. We found the Heart of the City Festival. Our play was a match! Made in “the heart of the city.” Be afraid. It will motivate. You’re not crazy to be afraid. Double-check everybody’s availability, the props, advertising deadlines, and give as long a timeline as possible on rehearsal and production dates. Talk logistics every time you assemble to make sure all are still on board. If you’re running the sound or lighting system, keep checking it works as expected. BUT remember the Front Porch Players didn’t have any of this. Neither did the Backyard Bards. Hire the finest people you can afford. Don’t rely on your best friend’s kid’s drama teacher to round up kid actors. Experienced actors help immensely. Google “drafting a casting call.” Make your call enticing; tell your story so actors want to be involved. Don’t be shy to ask for headshots, and specify age, sex and other needed characteristics. The Vancouver Pubic Library has a free postings website. If possible, hire one person who’ll tell you everything you’re doing is great. Maybe your best friend’s kid’s drama teacher will come in handy after all. Be generous. Especially with the actors. Generosity with time, support and encouragement is important. Actors give a lot; if the role is emotionally demanding, it can come at a personal cost. Staged readings are effective and take the heat off the need to memorize. At some point get really mad. Not necessarily at someone—unless they deserve it—and then, take it back when you cool. But if you’re angry with a situation, it’s a sign. You won’t be able to grapple with it later. Have an after-party. Drink alcohol or kombucha. Budget for it, but not necessarily in the grant application. We are writing in difficult times, but more than ever the world is in need of content. Granting agencies still have funds, and many festivals are still occurring but reformatting. As always do your homework and find the matches that fit. Redo your budget to include expenses needed for adaptations, such as a videographer or more runs with smaller audiences. Don’t let the unknown undo you. 2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 15
iley Ho Winner of the BC-Yukon Short
Masquerade We see each other infrequently now, usually at your parties. Or whenever you need a good cry on my shoulder. You adore fancy parties, cooking for everyone, being mistaken for a woman of leisure with all the time in the world to make dinner for twelve or more. I know better than anyone you’re not a trophy wife, despite your pearl-lacquered nails and perfectly toned body which you’ve wrapped tonight in a champagne-coloured gown, the plunging neckline outlined in angora. I see you’ve invited new friends this evening, and their plus ones. As you gradually bring out—like fresh canapés— little details about yourself throughout the evening, these acquaintances will be genuinely surprised to learn that you’re a single mom. How, besides a busy career, you make time for bake sales, sports games, the arts, and—of course—friendship. At this, you catch my eye even though I’m standing apart from the others, raise your glass of sparkling water and send me a wink. You introduce me as your oldest friend, leaving “oldest” to interpretation. You don’t mention how far back we go. Or the rehab. Your expensively dressed guests turn to take stock of me. Loose grey hair, faded sweater, saggy pants. I can tell, from their slightly bemused looks, that they are surprised we are friends. I tolerate the smirks because I have dressed for myself, despite your warning it would be a dressy affair. It’s my protest costume, a subtle middle finger at the one-percenters masquerading as the middle-class, the put-together pretending to be all together. I know that you—the flying phoenix tonight in your resplendent dress—grudgingly admire this about me. We know each other, after all. I am so proud of how far you’ve come, how high you’ve clambered from those bottomless nights, gripping the toilet, retching and shivering uncontrollably, bawling you would never do it again. Those pre-dawn phone calls when you bled out your anemic heart, your voice a cracked whisper in my ear, trying not to wake your sleeping daughter dropped off for the weekend by your ex. I yelled at you 16 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
then. I implored for you to keep your seams together so you wouldn’t lose your daughter. Trust me. If you lose your child, you will never forgive yourself. I have watched you transform, bit by bit, marshalling the madness in a new direction, into a different addiction. You went from getting high to getting promotions, from a rented basement to a penthouse suite. I know that I have become the single incongruity in your life. Yet you hold onto me like cool porcelain. A touchstone. Tonight, your place feels like a gala reception. The living room is an eruption of fresh flowers, hothouse beauties in reds and purples to resuscitate the hibernating pulse of winter. A jazz trio massaging the air from a corner. Tables laden with finger food: baby quiches dusted with paprika, rosettes of prosciutto, spears of grilled asparagus, cheeses hard and soft flown directly from Europe. A forest of green wine bottles on the granite island, their grown-up labels facing the world. No inferior grape here. The doorbell chimes again, and you pull me with you towards the door. More guests arriving. Blinding smiles, half-kisses, introductions. “Welcome, please make yourselves at home. Allow me introduce you to my oldest friend.” This is my cue. Curving my lips into a smile, I extend a damp palm. Over and over again. Pulling me aside, you ask what I think so far. I gush that the place looks gorgeous, that you look lovely. I know how much work you’ve put in. No, no, you laugh, tilting your head towards your new man who is leaning against the fireplace, chatting with a group of his tribesmen all in the uniform of the sports jacket. I do not say that he looks like X or that he sounds like Y. Or am I confusing him with Z? It’s not only their names I’m forgetting but also their faces. The preternaturally well-preserved faces of the distinguished gents I’ve met across your threshold are blending together. Tanned visages creased by midday golf and convertible coupes. Clean-shaven and cologned, their gazes are accustomed
to holding prolonged eye contact. Bodies that attend the gym but whose generous torsos betray a weakness for latenight scotch. They have hobbies from lifestyle magazines at the doctor’s office, pursuits involving powerful engines or large sails. They seem pretentious, the lot of them, unexamined and dull, ideologies that end with tax receipts. But I don’t wish to cause a scene tonight. The last time I came clean, you snapped and said what did I know about success or love? I haven’t forgotten. You are looking expectantly at me now. I know what you want from me, even though it is not what you need. “He seems like a great guy,” I say, popping a tiny quiche into my mouth. “Handsome,” I sputter flakes. You smile gratefully, squeeze my arm and glide back to your guests. The room drones with elegant chatter. There is a great deal of talk about travel to exotic locales, off the beaten path—if only slightly. Your new beau is saying, “Can’t be too far from a decent winery, though, can you?” Keeping my eyeroll in check, I edge towards the stand of expensive bottles, find the cranberry juice you’ve tucked behind for me, and pour a large goblet. Your new man appears alongside, looking for a Barolo. “How are you enjoying the party?” he asks like he owns the place. Without waiting for a response, he says, “You know, you’re lucky to have a friend like her.” I know the subtext of his words to mean because I am clearly a charity case. Drawing a full breath, I turn to give him my best smile, showcase my fake front teeth. “Yes, you too.” I sip my juice and wait for him to talk about himself, which he does. I have to bite my tongue to resist enquiring after his sick afghan hound or his rare knife collection or whether his son has graduated from Princeton, because really, he could be X, Y and Z. Figuring I should say something, I ask about his business.
“Looks like someone’s had a bit to drink,” he offers but cannot keep his eyes from skimming over my shapeless clothes like the balance sheet of a bankrupt company. He donates a smile and saunters back to the glitterati. From across the room, you catch my eye. It has not escaped your notice that your new man and I have just had an exchange. You look so hopeful, like a starlet waiting to be called onstage for her award, so I raise my glass in a salute to your obvious success. I know, in a few weeks, you will be weeping on my shoulder again. And I will rub your back, make soothing sounds. I will try telling you the truth again. That this one will not last, just like the previous clones. That men who care about power and glamour don’t care for vulnerability. After the initial weeks of romance and hedonistic sex, after you finally remove the flawless layers, what remains will curdle the man’s interest. Your raw need will send him stumbling out of your bedroom with vague promises to call later. But, like the others, he won’t because you will have revealed too much. Despite appearances, you and I are alike. Ashes don’t transform into birds. And, you’re wrong, I do know something about love. Isn’t that why I’m your oldest friend? For now, though, it’s time for me to leave. I have had my fill of bedazzlement and fool’s gold. As I pull on my coat, you walk over to say goodnight. There is a tightness about your face. “I hope the evening hasn’t been too tedious?” You say this rhetorically which makes me smile. A glimmer of you has appeared and I wrap my arms around this old ally, but I can smell the new man on your skin. You open the door for me and ask again. “What do you really think of him?” Looking into your apprehensive eyes I catch myself reflected there. Have I been too protective—watching and listening but not understanding? When did I forget that recovery is a long and unsparing process? Somewhere a bird flutters among the ashes. It occurs to me that hope is yet another addiction. When I answer, there is conviction in my voice. “I think he’s perfect.”
I do not say that he looks like X or that he sounds like Y. Or am I confusing him with Z?
He snorts and says didn’t he just finish explaining he sold his company? Then he lets out a hearty guffaw that suggests he is willing to be magnanimous because I am his lover’s friend.
2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 17
at Dobie Getting Unstuck: Three Strategies for Writing Fiction
If you’ve ever been stuck on a story or a novel, or don’t even know where to start, here are three strategies that will help move your fiction from your imagination to the page. Start with Character. Plot might seem to be the most important thing in a story, but consider this: what if the protagonist is only four years old? Now even a very simple plot is interesting, because the four-year-old has built-in vulnerabilities. Suddenly you have a story that is already halfway to the page. The core of every compelling tale comes from its characters’ strengths, weaknesses, and goals. From Character, Create Plot. Plot is how the story is told: what scenes, in what order, from whose point of view. Develop your plot by making the protagonist try to get what they want or prevent what they fear, encountering obstacles and conflict that, in the end, force them to transform. Take index cards or open a document and write a sentence for each scene you already know must be written. Sort them into the story’s beginning, middle, and end. If you have only one scene in mind, then use your characters’ goals and obstacles to brainstorm additional events. What
is the worst thing that could happen to your protagonist? Make them fight to solve their problems. Conflict and tension, whether internal or external, force readers to turn the page. Build a Scaffolding. Give the story an arbitrary scaffolding ,such as a certain number of scenes or chapters. For short stories, contest guidelines can be a good starting point—use submission deadlines and word limits to get yourself rolling. For novels, keep in mind that a reasonable goal for a first novel, depending on genre, is around 75,000 words in (say) thirty chapters. The scaffolding will change as your novel develops, but that’s fine. The point is to have a shape in mind so you can find a place to start. These three strategies have consistently helped me go from a story’s first glimmer to a completed draft. Try them and see what happens!
Sean Arthur Joyce
author / poet / editor / writing coach 4 substantive manuscript editing and writing coaching 4 personalized commentary on manuscripts 4 book design & layout to print production stage 4 freelance magazine articles 4 writing workshops “Joyce... significantly influenced me as a novice writer. His editorial feedback was consistently clear, respectful and insightful.” —Susan Dunnigan, author of Warrior Angel
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18 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
ichelle Barker and David Brown Backstory: Handle with Care
Backstory can be an effective tool for developing character and adding tension, but it often gets mishandled. In simplest terms, backstory becomes a problem when there’s too much of it, and when it comes too soon. Backstory can include information about a character’s personal history and interpersonal conflicts, or it might have to do with establishing a broader historical context: this includes world-building or explanations about the setting, real or fictional world history, and tidbits from the author’s research. Why is it a problem? Here’s a simple guideline to consider: if readers don’t care about what a character is DOING, they aren’t likely to care about who they are, why they are, or where they are. As such, readers should want to know more about a character’s backstory before the backstory appears on the page. This relates to the writer’s maxim: show, don’t tell. Backstory is a form of telling, which reduces a reader’s participation in the narrative. By explaining backstory rather than hinting at it, readers lose the opportunity to play the detective: observing, noticing, and coming to their own conclusions. Similarly, by frontloading your manuscript with backstory, you are stalling the story and cutting your readers out of the process of discovery. RUE: Resist the Urge to Explain. This is particularly important at the beginning of your novel. Let readers connect directly with the protagonist in dynamic scenes where the characters are taking action and making decisions. This is the strongest storytelling mode for creating plot momentum AND conveying character. Let the story come first. Backstory, world-building, and research work best when they serve the story, and not the other way around.
Use backstory effectively. There will be times when you’ll need to use backstory in fiction, so here are some strategies for slipping it in unobtrusively: Proceed on a need-toknow basis. Ask yourself: what does the reader need to know right now? If they don’t need to know it, leave it out. Integrate it into a scene—sneak some telling into your showing. Sprinkle information around. Don’t put it all in one place. Keep it brief. Try something drastic. Literary agent Donald Maass suggests combing the first fifty pages of your novel for any sections of backstory, cutting them, and pasting them into Chapter Fifteen. Those sections might not actually belong in Chapter Fifteen, but you may find one of two things: You don’t need them at all, or they might be better placed somewhere after the midpoint of your novel. In this way, you can use backstory to deepen an existing problem or answer a long-standing question—illuminating a character rather than just using backstory as set-up. As a fiction writer, you have one job: to tell a story. You are not writing an essay, a history book, or a biography. Anything you choose to include must serve the story. If it doesn’t, then it belongs on the cutting-room floor. If you use only a minimum of backstory or none at all, you will create a gap between what’s happening in the story and why it’s happening. This gap serves to heighten tension. Readers don’t need all the answers at the beginning of a novel. They like to put things together based on the clues you give them. Reading then becomes a process of discovery that includes the reader; the anticipation of finding things out slowly is part of that process. 2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 19
aye Arcand Show Don’t Tell
As a writer, have you ever been told to “show don’t tell”? You eagerly nod in agreement—yeah yeah—of course you do that, right? But really you don’t have a clue as to wth they’re talking about. Believe me, you’re not alone. The first time an editor scrawled SDT across my page, I had no idea what was going on, and I was afraid to ask. Crazy, I know, but when she told me it meant show don’t tell I was seriously confused because I felt like I had been “showing.” Let’s examine the simple dictionary definitions. Tell: “communicate information, facts, or news to someone in spoken or written words.” Show: “be, allow, or cause to be visible.” It’s also about perception in quality, emotion, or characteristic. I learned that what I’d been doing was using a bunch of adverbs to describe communicated actions. For example: He angrily walked across the room. In this example, I’m telling the reader how the man is feeling. Contrast it with this: He stomped across the room with his hands balled into fists. This is “showing.” I’m not telling you anything but rather conveying a picture for you to draw your own conclusion. Once the concept is understood, it becomes easier to paint a scene with words that illustrate the emotion and action within it. Writers need to internalize the notion of show don’t tell because it will make their work stand out in a positive and professional way.
It begins with taking ownership of the lens through which the reader is viewing the story. Ask yourself: what do I see? How do I know how a character is feeling a certain way without stating it? Is there a better way to convey this behaviour or emotion? So, keep in mind, what you want to do is consider the actions that convey (show) a particular scene, sentiment, or emotion. Practise on these sentences. Some of these are tough. Think of spaces—only two steps across the room—that shows the room is small. What does the cold actually do? What do you wear? Imagine yourself observing things through the lens of the camera and show the emotion instead of naming it. 1. It’s a cold winter day. 2. The room was hot and humid. 3. The woman was surprised when everyone jumped out and shouted Happy Birthday. 4. The dog looked very big and mean. 5. The kitchen was small and cramped. 6. The cookie was delicious. 7. On the mantle there were at least one hundred pictures and figurines. 8. She was an elderly woman pushing a grocery cart through the store. 9. “Get out of my house,” she said angrily. 10. I felt so happy when I saw him get out of the car.
West Coast School of Writing A Place for Enlightened Being
Year-round courses and workshops for writers, poets, and deep thinkers dedicated to personal and creative improvement through observation, introspection, and analysis. We combine informative lectures and readings with writing practice and editing in a supportive community atmosphere for writers and individuals of all experience levels. Located on beautiful Vancouver Island in the historic waterfront District of Oak Bay For upcoming classes go to www.joeleneheathcote.com To register: 250.516.6903 | email@example.com 20 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
oanna Streetly Prose Poetry: the Mystery Cat of Poetic Forms
B: The thing is it doesn’t have a definition. B: Sure it does. A poem without lines. B: Well that includes all of prose. B: Right. “Conversation About the Definition of a Prose Poem on Woodpecker Trail at Coralville Lake at the End of March, the Wind Rising” —Robert Hass
One night in bed I searched “prose poetry” on my phone after reading the work of Robert Hass. This gave me answers like: a composition written in prose that contains elements of poetry. Clearly, if I wanted specifics I wasn’t going to find them from my bed. I pulled out In Fine Form, by BC poets Kate Braid and Sandy Shreve. I was not alone in seeking clarity; the authors wrote: “When we began looking into prose poetry for this edition, it seemed few poets agreed precisely what distinguishes it from prose. Often it came down to ‘it just feels like poetry to me.’” Intrigued, I called Kate Braid, who referred me to Robert Hass’s A Little Book on Form. This book details prose poetry from Coleridge in 1802 and Baudelaire in the 1860s, to present day. “It is part of an evolution,” Kate said. “When free verse came in everyone said, ‘That’s not poetry because it doesn’t rhyme.’ Now people say, ‘That’s not poetry because it doesn’t have line breaks.’ But in fact it’s just another move. Poets are curious and we want to know what’s underneath so we push the edges.” I reached out to Eve Joseph, whose brilliant collection of prose poems, Quarrels won the 2019 Griffin Prize. “Those definitions do not catch the essence of the form,” she sympathized. “The form argues against narrative and demands something else of the poet. The prose poems I love make enormous leaps in logic and ask the reader to go along for the ride. They are not ‘nonsensical’ pieces; rather, they tap into the illogical in order to reveal the ordinary strangeness in all of our lives.” With prose poems the lack of line breaks makes reading them a new experience for the eye. “The prose poem, written in sentences, not lines, immediately challenges the writer to make a block of text into something other than a paragraph,” says Eve. “It’s where the magic of
the form comes in. The square block of text visually sets up an expectation that the poet has to work against. It’s this internal tension that one reaches for when working with the form.” About the form, Robert Hass writes: “The paragraph as a formal device differs from the stanza in that the proposition of the paragraph is unity.” Eve seeks to create that unity through association. “One of the great opportunities,” she says, “is that the form forces you to explore ways to explode narrative into pieces at the same time it demands that you follow the unconscious and make it visible. In his book about writing, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, David Shields suggests that momentum can be derived not from narrative, but from a build-up of thematic resonances. I worked at placing nonlinear lines close to each other, trusting that a deeper, associative thread would develop. I also tried to place clauses or phrases one after another without conjunctions. I wanted sparks to fly between words and sentences without being slowed down.” Of course definitions cannot capture prose poetry; poetry has always resisted capture. Understanding a form requires reading it and writing it. But there is also the thrill of the future—the opportunity to participate in prose poetry’s evolution. Red-Winged Blackbird In Frost This morning I saw a photograph of a red-winged blackbird in frost. It was singing and the silhouette of its beak formed the mathematical symbol for greater than. At first I thought it was serenading the husk of a flower. Then I saw that the shape was song made visible. In the frosted glow of winter sun, breath flowed out like ectoplasm, the ghost in the song—generations of ghosts making notes as distinct as the red wing on a black bird. I saw this after making breakfast for my teenaged daughter, stirring oats at the stove while she gazed at last night’s snowfall, wondering if the school bus would be cancelled. I don’t want to go to school, she said, and already she was listing the things she could do with this snowy day. She leaped so far into the future with her plans that when I told her school was open, she argued with me as if I were the school board. Tell it to the birds, I said, our song floating there.
2020 Volume III ︱ WORDWORKS 21
ornelia Hoogland Each Quivering Heart: A Poetic and Sculptural Collaboration
Recently I collaborated with Ted Goodden, a visual artist, to create a book of poems paired with photographs of Goodden’s sculptures, titled Cosmic Bowling (Guernica, September, 2020). This process has been unexpectedly joyful, an extraordinary writing experience. Here’s how it happened. Goodden created sixty-four sculptural variations with a single male figure and a ball in an attempt to capture the gestures of each of the sixty-four hexagrams in the I Ching, an ancient Chinese text. The balls can be viewed as a plaything, as the world in its roundness, as an obscure object of desire, or as an embodiment of the circumstances that surround a person at any given moment. Goodden speaks of an early memory. “In an early black and white photo, as a one-year-old,” he says, “I am seated and holding a ball. It’s not the expression on my baby face, but the particular way that I am holding the ball that gives a sense of personality, or personhood, to the photograph. It is the whole body, animated by the ball into meaningful postures and gestures. That’s how the ball comes into play. Who would Sisyphus be without his ball?” My poetic effort to capture a moment in time is sometimes echoed by gestures embodied in the sculptures. I intended my six-line poems to attract the viewer with their haiku-like brevity, and with a sense of withholding. Many of the poems engage the viewer with a question, and a glimpse into the interior world, or the emotions, of the ceramic figure. They direct attention to sculptural form and individual gesture. For example, Like playing cards, the jelly girls flip over the lawn. Somersault, backbend. Each fanning rib is a ruffling wake. Each quivering heart on its high wire over Niagara. Difficult and mysterious to be alive? Maybe. But when you’re nine years old, easy to gamble in handsprings. The third corner to our collaboration is the I Ching. Cosmic Bowling positions itself within the tradition of commentaries of the I Ching, such as those by Confucius and Lao Tse, and newly interprets archetypal human situations found in the hexagrams. 22 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
Michael Mirolla, editor-in-chief at Guernica, liked the photographs and poems we submitted. He said: “Artistic collaborations point to and highlight the spirit of community engagement that was the original impetus for humans’ first forays into symbolic expression. The art created was communal; the engagement was communal; the catharsis was communal. It’s an ideal that’s more difficult in this time of fractured individualism but the gain is well worth the effort.” His emphasis on the communal aspect of co-creation helped me see subtle changes in my new work, in which the self is embedded in natural, social and political frameworks, all of which condition self-expression. The relationship between self and the world, and where and how individual actions can effect change, is primary in Cosmic Bowling as it asks the perennial question: How should we live now? Along the lines of John Cage’s aleatory or chance-based compositions, these 64 poems invite a broader spectrum of forces to inform my poetry, and the resulting first-person voice feels more broadly representative of cultural experience. Similar to classical Chinese poems that don’t recognize the Western distinction between poet and subject, my poems attempt the mysterious unity of opposites. It’s as if I’ve finally understood that metaphor works in two directions at once; subject and predicate modify each other simultaneously. I rewrote my poems and Ted reworked the sculptures in order that they together “not simply serve as illustrations of each other,” as Mirolla requires of a collaboration. He explains, “There needs to be a symbiotic relationship between the poems and the visuals. In other words, the poems shouldn’t serve merely as explanations of the visuals and the images as visual representations of the poems. Each needs to have its own creative juices and they need to play off each other in ways that enhance both.”
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Contributors Faye Arcand is an award winning short story writer, columnist/blogger, freelance writer/ speaker, and the author of a contemporary young adult novel under contract to The Rights Factory. She’s currently editing her next two novels. She has two blogs: My Twisted Writer Brain which is all about writing and Auntie Says which is an ongoing discussion with young people. Arcand has a BA in Criminology and worked in “the system” for many years. She loves to travel the world to study people, cultures, and places. Arcand lives in the south Okanagan with her family and ever-faithful golden retriever. Jenn Ashton is an award-winning author and visual artist living in North Vancouver, BC. She is the author of the prize-winning “Siamelaht” in British Columbia History in 2019 and of the forthcoming People Like Frank, and Other Stories from the Edge of Normal by Tidewater Press. She is a Director on the Board of the Federation of British Columbia Writers as well as The BC Indigenous Writers Association. Jenn is currently completing a book about the history of family in Vancouver and is a Teaching Assistant in The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University, where she is helping others learn how to tell their stories. JenniferAshton.ca and jennashtonart.com. Michelle Barker is the author of The House of One Thousand Eyes, which was named a Kirkus Best Book of 2018 and has won numerous awards, including the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. Her newest novel, My Long List of Impossible Things, was released by Annick Press in the spring of 2020. Michelle holds an MFA in creative writing from UBC and works as a senior editor at the Darling Axe (www.darlingaxe.com). She is represented by Westwood Creative Artists and lives in Vancouver. Jes Battis (he/they) teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Regina. They are the author of the Occult Special Investigator series and Parallel Parks series, both with Ace/ Penguin. Their next book is an Arthurian murder mystery set in Vancouver. Ev Bishop is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author. Best known for her small-town contemporary romance series, River’s Sigh B & B, Ev was a columnist with the Terrace Standard for almost twenty years and is a prolific scribbler of …other things.
Her articles, essays, short stories, and poems appear in a variety of publications, and she also writes under the pen name Toni Sheridan. www.evbishop.com David Brown founded the Darling Axe in 2018 after working as a freelance editor for more than fifteen years. He is an award-winning short fiction writer, and his debut novel is represented by the Donaghy Literary Group. He has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in magazines and literary journals, and he has an MFA in creative writing from UBC. David lives in Victoria, Canada, in the traditional territory of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. Pat Dobie is a writer and professional editor who works with writers from all over the world. She’s the author of Fiction Editing: A Writer’s Roadmap and the novella Pawn to Queen, and her recent fiction has been shortlisted by the Historical Novel Society and the International 3-Day Novel contest. She teaches writing, coaches serious writers one-on-one, and blogs at awritersroadmap.com John Gould is the author of The End of Me—a collection of 56 sudden stories about mortality—and of two previous collections in the same form, including Kilter, a finalist for the Giller prize. A teacher, editor and arts administrator, he’s also written a novel, and published fiction in periodicals across Canada and abroad. He lives on unceded Lekwungen territory in Victoria, BC.
W.L. Hawkin writes
“edgy urban fantasy with a twist of murder.” Her Hollystone Mysteries follow a coven of West Coast witches who solve murders using ritual magic and a little help from the gods. A lover of mythology and the mystical arts, Wendy has a background in Indigenous Studies and English literature. Although she is an introvert, in each book her characters go on a journey where she’s travelled herself.
Cosmic Bowling (Guernica, 2020) is Cornelia Hoogland’s collaboration with the visual artist, Ted Goodden. Trailer Park Elegy and Woods Wolf Girl were finalists for national awards, and Sea Level was originally short-listed for the CBC Literary awards. Hoogland was the 2019 writer-in-residence for the Al Purdy A-Frame and the Whistler Festival. She lives and writes on unceded Puntledge and K’omox territories on Hornby Island in the Salish Sea. www.corneliahoogland.com Lenore Rowntree co-wrote SRO Stars with Jaeger Cormack, Ali Khan, Sandra Yuen MacKay and Ana Smith. Her novel Cluck (Thistledown Press) is a darkly comic story about Henry whose mother lives with mental health issues. She is co-editor and contributor to the anthology Hidden Lives: true stories from people who live with mental illness (Brindle & Glass), and her short story collection Dovetail Joint (Quadra Books) is cut from an entirely different piece of wood. Joanna Streetly’s most recent book, Wild Fierce Life: Dangerous Moments on the Outer Coast, is a BC Bestseller published by Caitlin Press. Other titles include Paddling Through Time (Raincoast Books,) Silent Inlet (Oolichan,) and This Dark (poetry, Postelsia). Her work is published in Best Canadian Essays 2017 and in anthologies, magazines
and literary journals. Joanna lives afloat in the Tofino harbour, where she served as the 2018–2020 Tofino Poet Laureate. Jerena Tobiasen is a graduate of SFU’s Southbank Writer’s Program. In early 2016, she began writing The Prophecy, a multi-award-winning historical fiction saga. Research took her to foreign lands where she explored museums and libraries, conducted interviews, and followed in the paths of her characters. Her first novel was published in 2018. Many of her short works appear in issues of RCLAS’s ‘Wordplay at Work’ and on her website jtobiasen.ca. For J.G. Toews, the stories her dad and grandmother told inspired a life-long delight in reading and writing. A health professional turned crime writer, Judy sets her Stella Mosconi mysteries in her adopted city of Nelson, BC. Give Out Creek (Mosaic Press, 2018) was a finalist for an Arthur Ellis Award and the 2019 Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel. Next up is Lucky Jack Road (September release).
Lisa Seyfried Photography
Wiley Ho is a writer in North Vancouver. She is in the throes of completing her first collection of short stories entitled “Sticky Rice and Grilled Cheese,” which is based on her Taiwanese-Canadian childhood. Her stories have been published in anthologies and magazines. Wiley works as a freelance technical writer and blogger. When not writing, she is likely stomping around in the mountains, actively ignoring her desk and garden.
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is a hybridized Haida by birth and Canadian by aspiration. He is the author of A Tale of Two Shamans and War of the Blink by Locarno books. His Haida Cosmic is the first chapter in Native Art of the Northwest Coast: A History of Changing Ideas, edited by Charlotte TownsendGault, Jennifer Kramer, and ķi-ķe-in. RED, a Haida Manga and the most recent title Carpe Fin were published by Douglas McIntyre. RED, un Häida Manga published by Les Éditions du Pacifique Nord-Ouest (and now exhibiting in Nantes France), Flight of the Hummingbird was published by Greystone Books, and performed by Pacific Opera Victoria in collaboration with Vancouver Opera, and being translated into German. His artwork is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, British Museum, Seattle Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, Museum of Anthropology and the Vancouver Art Gallery. Studio representation by Galley Jones, Vancouver, Madrona Gallery Victoria, Trépanier Baer Calgary.
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The Classifieds— Affordable spaces for connecting with writers For rates & measures: firstname.lastname@example.org 15% discount for FBCW members This page accepts ads for anything of interest to writers, including: retreat space for rent writing books for sale editing, design, proofreading beta reading workshops presenters technical help collaborations EDITING AND PROOFREADING
Clare Appezzato is a Master’s graduate of English Literature, who is currently accepting freelance editing and proofreading jobs. Clare has a large background in editing, having worked in academic and mainstream publishing houses. Please email her at email@example.com with any questions and for more details.
New #PODCAST: SOME KINDA WOMAN, Stories of Us. A variety of characters at pivotal moments in their lives. One moment at a time. The grief of life, the laughter, mystery and history. A theatrical podcast based on fivestar international touring shows. www.caitlinhicks.com/ wordpress/podcast ONLINE PRESENTATIONS BY LYN HANCOCK
Online presentations via Zoom available for youth, school and civic groups by best-selling author of Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon, There’s a Seal in My Sleeping Bag, There’s a Raccoon in My Parka and other wildlife classics. Contact Lyn Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org
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I shepherd your book from concept to print. I’m an experienced and versatile freelance editor who has also worked in publishing houses. Contact me for an evaluation, substantive work, copy editing, production assistance. Or a portrait, of pet or person! Lenore Hietkamp, https://heatherfieldediting.com, https://portraitsbylenore.ca
Adelia MacWilliam: MFA, University of Victoria (Writing) 2018, teaching assistant first, second and third-year undergrad classes, poetry editor for a self-publishing firm, poems in three anthologies, most recently Sweet Water: Poems for the Watershed. Caitlin Press, 2020. $30 an hour Full manuscripts negotiable. email@example.com
REMOTE TECHNICAL TROUBLESHOOTING
When working as a beta reader I don’t look for technical errors; I’m totally concerned with how your storytelling holds me in its spell and where it lets me go. I curl up with your manuscript and let the magic take me away. $4.00 per thousand words. ursulavaira.ca. . 26 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
Computer/internet /uploading/printer/phone issues? Remote technical troubleshooting consultation for writers and editors, via Zoom or phone, remote access. Excellent references available. $20 per half-hour. Text Brad Larson at 250-266-0567, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Launched! New titles by FBCW members Food Floor: My Woodward’s Days Margaret Cadwaladr | ISBN: 978-1-9995465-1-9 | $15.95 A memoir of working as a cashier at Woodward’s Food Floor in downtown Vancouver in the 1960s. Colour and b&w images, both historical and contemporary,
Lucky Jack Road JG Toews | Mosaic Press, 2020 | ISBN: 9781771615082 | $19.99 When Stella Mosconi escaped her hometown straight out of high school, she hoped she’d seen the last of Jack Ballard. A teenage fling between the two ended badly, and the fear still lingers some twenty years later. Back in town and hitting her stride as a reporter for the local paper, Stella briefly flies under Ballard’s radar. But once her cover is blown, the former pro mountain biker won’t give her any peace. Then his body is discovered beneath the lookout of a popular hiking trail, and Stella puts everything on the line to unravel the enigma that was Jack Ballard. Second in the series, Lucky Jack Road is a sequel to Give Out Creek. www.jgtoews.com. Flight Into The Unknown—Dreaming of Life and Love in Canada Giselle Roeder | May, 2020 | ISBN: 978-0-9949977-5-3 | $21.95 Giselle married her (unknown) Canadian penfriend. She flew to Vancouver. Her husband used her savings to pay his debts. With limited English and her earthly belongings in a container crossing the high seas, she had no choice. She overcame trials and tribulations. Her dream of Canada had not been in vain. She lost everything through a nasty divorce, her home, her business, her family. Her lawyer warned her: “In Winnipeg, you are a big fish in a small pond. In Vancouver, you’ll be a small fish in a big pond. Is that what you want?”
Calling My Spirit Back Elaine Alec | July 2020 | ISBN: 978-0228830696 | $22.99 Calling My Spirit Back is an exceptional piece of Canadian writing by an Indigenous author that addresses our particular period in Canadian history when the conversations about systemic racism and abuse of women and the historical and ongoing trauma of our First Nations are finally starting to resonate beyond their typical boundaries.
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The Lure Frank Talaber | July 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-7770928-7-0 Ever go out for the evening and not remember what you did? What if there was a bar where spirits can enter your inebriated body and use it until you sober up? Well such a bar exists in Stanley Park, where the city’s mayor has been murdered, his family missing, a dangerous witch has been released from her centuries-old imprisonment and an intriguing and extraordinary shaman shows up, only to vanish after leaving cryptic clues. So begins Detective Carol Ainsworth’s first case.
The Likely Future: Short and Long Term Guidance from the Source Carole Serene Borgens | Waterside Publications | ISBN: 9781949001167 | $8.95 The Likely Future Volume 2 is an urgent message from the Divine Source about the greatest plague of our time, COVID-19. The Likely Future gives insight that cannot be found anywhere else. Pax answers direct questions and provides vital information, including the virus origin, that a successful vaccine will be a long time coming, and what scientists should consider in order to fully eradicate the virus. This dialogue is the truth we’ve been asking for, the clear warning we need, and a celestial love letter that speaks to each of us and the future of humanity. It’s provocative and awe-inspiring—and it’s what people around the world need to know about this pandemic.
Geoff Strong | Climate Crisis Publications, 2020 | ISBN: 978-0-9952883-2-4 | $21.75 Inconvenient Pipeline features a thirteen-year old teen (Julia) along with her parents and younger brother. The setting is in and around the town of Merritt in south-central British Columbia. Julia solves several preliminary mysteries, then teams up with a First Nations teen from the Coldwater Band, and together they uncover deceptions by the petroleum industry. A greater environmental concern for British Columbia is realized in the end with an oil tanker disaster on the Salish Sea.
Ian Kent | Tellwell, 2020 | ISBN: 978-0-2288-2914-0 | $20.00 The second of the Westcoast Series includes a sequel to Westcoast Legacy, and a prequel going back to the Spanish in the late 1600s. Answers some of the questions posed by the first book, as descendants of our 1850s pioneer lady in Fort Victoria learn more of her adventures on the west coast involving Spanish Gold! As in Westcoast Legacy, the author claims the story still remains about 90% true to events and characters of the times. Includes many dramatic, factual historical events rarely known by most readers.
The Brideship Wife Leslie Howard | Simon & Schuster Canada, 2020 | ISBN: 9781508259350 | $24.99 Inspired by the history of the British “brideships” this debut novel is a coming-of-age story about the pricelessness of freedom and the courage it takes to follow your heart.
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Lighting the Lamp Reed Stirling | BWL Publishing, 2020 | ISBN: 9780228612001 | $24.95 Lighting The Lamp dramatizes the efforts of Terry Burke, a sympathetic, at times critical, but ordinary old guy, to come to grips with what his life has been. His struggle to accept retirement spreads to concern over the mysterious death of a wanderer in Cowichan Bay. Terry’s obsession to solve the mystery fuses directly with his personal history and leads him in and out of fascinating, half-remembered mythological landscapes. Family dynamics of the present, mirrored in Irish heritage of the past, come into play as do contrarian opinions encountered among cronies, distant friends, and lost loves. Motivated by his muse to tell all, what he seeks in addition to understanding is truthful voice and the purest possible point of view. Letters to a Son and a Daughter Kamal Parmar | October, 2019 | ISBN: 978-0-9867199-1-2 | $15.00 These letters are a small attempt at highlighting some basic tenets for facing Life and to show the children and youth the path towards becoming responsible citizens of a community. Peppered with gentle parental advice and written in an easy going conversational style, these letters will inspire them to live fully. The book is in soft-bound book cover with an eye-catching look.
Animusings Ian Cognitō | Repartee Press, 2020 | ISBN: 978775133926 “In Ian Cognitō’s hands, wonder becomes a malleable thing. His writing beckons with such curiosity, joy and respect for life, in all its expressions, that it encourages us, as readers, to strip off our threadbare excuses and jump into the teeming currents of our common kinship with all forms of life. Animusings is like a lush water hole with an eclectic cast coming and going—or just milling around looking for a spot to sip, splash or to bask on its banks.” —Anne Marie Carson, Blue Mountain, Ontario. Contact: email@example.com.
Much Adieu about Nothing Pat Smekal and Ian Cognitō | Repartee Press, 2020 | ISBN: 978775133933 After their successful pairing on 2017’s flora, fauna & h. sapiens, Pat Smekal and Ian Cognitō have reunited for a chapbook on the subject of Death and Dying. This collection explores this rather lofty topic through elements of humour, introspection, and compassion. Contact repartee@telus. net for more information.
mother talk Martha Warren, ed | Carnation Publishers, 2020 | ISBN: 987-1-7772113-0-1 | 19 pages | $2.99 mother talk is a short collection of poems by emerging Vancouver poets, and the first in a series of ebooklets that connect people with poetry, for the price of a card. Poems by Barbara Carter, Trish Gauntlett, Zofia Rose Musiej, Steffi Tad-y and Martha Warren. These fresh local voices explore and celebrate the complexities of motherhood from many angles. Carter’s images of chromosomal tracing, and Gauntlett’s snapshot of mother and child listening to cello music together, move the reader to reflection; while Musiej’s haunting refrain of “my girl” and Tad-y’s portrait of mother-as-typhoon deconstruct key moments of motherhood.
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On Their Own Terms Haley Healey | Heritage House, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-77203-325-0 | 144 pages | $9.95 On Their Own Terms will delight and empower anyone looking for true stories of nineteenth- and twentieth-century women who confronted uncertainty, challenged gender norms, and excelled in their respective vocations. Whether you are an entrepreneur, an educator, a rebellious spirit, or an armchair adventurer, these incredible women who thrived on Vancouver Island will captivate you.
Fiction Editing: A Writer’s Roadmap
P.S. Dobie | November 2019 | ISBN: 978-1-775-2056-1-6 | $13.50 Fiction Editing Demystified: If you write fiction, this essential guide to the world of paid editorial help will save you time, money, and effort on the road to publication. Learn what fiction editors do and how they do it, decode editorial terms, gather insider tips and tools, assess your publishing goals, prepare yourself and your manuscript for the editorial process, and come away with a simple, step-by-step plan for finding and working with a good editor when you’re ready. Whether you’re seeking an agent or planning to publish yourself, this lucid and insightful guide provides crucial information for fiction writers at any stage, from first-time novelists to veterans in the art and craft of writing. My Long List of Impossible Things Michelle Barker | Annick Press, 2020 | ISBN: 9781773213651 | $19.95 HC $12.95 SC The arrival of the Soviet Army in Germany at the end of World War II sends sixteen-year-old Katja and her family into turmoil. The fighting has stopped, but German society is in collapse, resulting in tremendous hardship. With their father gone and few resources available to them, Katja and her sister are forced to flee their home, reassured by their mother that if they can just reach a distant friend in a town far away, things will get better. But their harrowing journey brings danger and violence, and Katja needs to summon all her strength to build a new life, just as she’s questioning everything she thought she knew about her country.
Death of a Doppelganger
Rod Deakin-Drown | Silver Bow Publishing, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-947271-36-4 | $20.00 Vancouver private eye, exiled Hungarian aristocrat Count Jason Kereso, has a problem: is a murder victim really who he claimed to be? The Count has to answer other important questions too: Can he trust his assistant, the capable and beguiling, but former Squamish Five hanger-on, Farrah Sunday? She insists she saw typecast actor Lawrence Paddon shot from behind in Victory Square. Why had Paddon, the one-trick-pony star of a 1980s stage play failure, been killed? Readers will recognize Vancouver neighbourhoods and landmarks including Gastown, English Bay, the Sun Tower, the Dominion Building, and MacLeod’s Books in this novel of danger, deception, and death. —Richard Mackie, editor, The Ormsby Review Cultivated Time Rose Willow | Weaver of Words Publishers, 2020 | ISBN: 978-0-997449-7-6 Rose Willow uses poetry to pry behind the walls and corners of homes and institutions to expose harsh realities along with tenderness, love, and compassion. From Saskatchewan wheat fields, to beach slippers on Canada’s west coast, Cultivated Time confronts gender inequality, generational differences, family conflict, and religious complications while growing up. All happens in the context of the displacement of original peoples, and the degradation of the natural environment. Her vivid imagery paints a history which lingers within living memory, the acceptance of loss, and coming to terms with one’s ultimate mortality in a search for a place to rest the soul. Print copies available from firstname.lastname@example.org 30 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume III
Writing to Map Your Spiritual Journey Mary Ann Moore | International Association for Journal Writing | Digital PDF 111 Pages | $29.95 USD Writing to Map Your Spiritual Journey, created by poet and writing mentor Mary Ann Moore, is a pilgrimage on the page through eight chapters, full of inspiration, stories, and many writing practice suggestions, beautifully designed in full colour. Mary Ann shares her expansive knowledge of earth-based practices and goddess spirituality to connect you more deeply to your writing and your own story. To learn more and to purchase visit iajw.org and look under Products: Journal Writing Tools or access from this direct link: https://iajw.org/journal-writing-products/ writing-to-map-your-spiritual-journey/ Circumpolar Duet: singular/plurality kjmunro, Facilitator | Leslie Leong, Whitehorse, 2020 | 978-0-9681715-6-1 | $20.00 The idea for the first Circumpolar Duet project, in 2017, came from artist Heidi Hehn, who had attended the Whitehorse launch of a Finnish anthology called poem.a. Listening to the words inspired by the circumpolar north, she envisioned visual art. She shared her idea with poet kjmunro and the first ekphrastic project was born. This time the initial inspiration is the theme that Canada has chosen as guest of honour country at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020, “singular/plurality.” Ten visual artists and ten literary artists created a piece to the theme. Then each received one of these pieces to inspire a second piece. This publication showcases the resulting forty works. (contact kjmunro — email@example.com) Dead Crow & the Spirit Engine Sean Arthur Joyce | Chameleonfire Editions, 2020 | ISBN: 978-0-9952401-4-8 | 82 pp, $20.00 Dead Crow and the Spirit Engine answers the call for a “new mythology” by making use of Crow archetypes found the world over to create a unique new character, Dead Crow. It’s appropriate that Dead Crow would appear now, during a pandemic—he feeds off both the culture and the collective consciousness to seek meaning wherever it may be found. This is his “memoir” told in a series of linked narrative poems. Dead Crow is published in a large format edition (8”X10”), lavishly illustrated with original photographs, and printed on high-quality coated paper stock. $20 plus $5 shipping within Canada. Order through the author’s website: www.seanarthurjoyce.ca. Vancouver’s Women in Blue Carolyn Daley | Ruddy Duck Press, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-9992792-0-2 | $49.95 A ground-breaking account of the history of the women who served with the Vancouver Police Department between 1904 and 1975. Theirs is the story of women who first joined as matrons, and the slow, rather twisting path their role in policing travelled as it evolved into assignments of fully operational police constables. The story concludes with the women of 1975, as they were the first VPD women to be hired under the new rules regarding hiring and training of municipal police officers.
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I’m sure you’ve been told many times by several teachers not to convey emotion with language (abstractions, adjectives, adverbs), but through the senses. When it comes to describing abstracts like disappointment, sadness, envy, even love, it’s best to “show” what’s going on for you or the persona in your poetry or prose. Rather than naming it in your piece of writing, disappointment say, describe your day as if you’re making a journal entry. You can start with this morning. You’ll find that it’s all there in the empty mailbox, the unanswered text, the cat that doesn’t return home when called, the rain clouds surrounding the mountains. You may have more than you need but you will find many images to suit the feeling of disappointment as you describe your day. This is a useful and creative approach for the poem you’re writing, your memoir or your novel. I have found even with writing fiction, that starting with what I’m seeing in front of me leads me back in to the story. This writing practice prompt came about as I wrote in my journal each morning facing a mountain known as the Grandmother of All Surrounding Mountains to the Snuneymuxw First Nation on whose unceded lands I live. I was missing my daughter, and writing about what I saw provided all the metaphors I needed.
Writing has always been a very raw, visceral, and solemn experience for me. Coming packaged as I am with the suite of disabilities, life was not kind, not that it ever was illusioned as such before I came along. Still, that life also flavoured the way I approach my writing, and in a sick sort of way I’m grateful, as I would hardly be the writer I am today without both the suites of double-edged superpowers and experiences. What I can offer is this: For prose… I craft a virtual simulation—places, people, plot within my mind. I very much become my characters, slotting myself into their brain-cage. The depth of emotion and experience of becoming someone else is jarring at first, but how else could you ever craft anything true to whom you are writing if you do not live as them? Depersonalization definitely comes easier for some folk, so practise. Begin your poetry in a different way. Find a space where you feel safe and comfortable. Sit in silence. Then call upon your emotions. Call forth your love, anguish, terror, beauty, hatred, and the ghosts of everyone dead that you have ever known. Name those people, those feelings. Describe them with as many adjectives as you can. Feel it as true to yourself as possible. Let it roil up and consume you. Then write. Let it pour forth in torrent. Speak truth. Be you. Let the poetry reflect your inner self.
Mary Ann Moore leads poetry writing workshops and a women’s writing circle called Writing Life in Nanaimo. Her book of poetry is Fishing for Mermaids (Leaf Press, 2014) and she has a new writing resource called Writing to Map Your Spiritual Journey available at iajw.org. Mary Ann writes a blog at www.apoetsnanaimo.ca.
Cory McRae teaches and writes within British Columbia, and is very excited for his debut novel The Marionette Man to come out via Oghma Creative Media! He is inspired by hundreds—Kay, Pullman, Leckie, Bradbury, Asimov, Vonnegut, more. You can find him at www.McRaeWrites.com.
ary Anne Moore Describe Your Day
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Visceral and Raw
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