WORDWORKS BRITISH COLUMBIAâ€™S MAGAZINE FOR WRITERS
WRITING AND PUBLISHING THROUGH THE PANDEMIC
2020 Volume II $6.95
WRITE. EARN. REPEAT. The Writersâ€™ Union of Canada promotes the rights, freedoms, and economic well-being of all writers. We welcome applications from writers working in a range of formats â€” from lit mags and chapbooks to award-winning bestsellers, and almost everything in between. Discover what the Union can do for you at writersunion.ca.
WORDWORKS BRITISH COLUMBIA’S MAGAZINE FOR WRITERS
2020 VOLUME II PUBLISHING
The Launch That Wasn’t
Katherine Fawcett tries to launch a book during COVID-19.
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Unlocking the Door
Fern G.Z. Carr shares resources that helped her be published over 700 times worldwide.
Pat Buckna claims it is easier than writing your book in the first place.
Keith Liggett’s guide to writing the marketing report for your query or proposal.
The Dos and Don’ts of Getting an Agent
How do you get an agent? Do you even need one? Cadence Mandybura explains all.
The Cultural Conversation of #Podcasting
It’s a publishing avenue with huge audience potential—Caitlin Hicks grabs a mic.
Before You Write an Adaptation
Ten Steps Toward Increasing Your Publication Odds
Rachelle Stein-Wotten discusses rights and agreements for those attempting this exciting market of opportunity.
Janine Cross explains how each one increases your chances of a successful manuscript sale.
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The Marketing Report
Sarah Selecky: Filtering Jennifer Manuel: Recipe for Scene Structure Wendy Laura Belcher: What Is Paraphrase Plagiarism? Prompts: Adelia MacWilliam and Betsy Warland OTHER STORIES
Chelsea Comeau: Christine Smart Literary Writes Winner
Sally Jennings: PEAVI—going strong at 25 years. How can we help?
Elisabeth Weigand: Circumpolar Duet: Singular/ Plurality
On the Cover Tom Pope, owner, The Mulberry Bush Bookstore
On Being Interrupted by Silence: Notes from WordWorks staff
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Faces Contributors Launched
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Members’ Corner We’ve got your back. The Federation of BC Writers wants to assure members that if you are unable to renew your membership due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand. We encourage you to keep writing. Board member Randy Fred says “stories can be healing” and recalled a hospital that prescribed books for patients. Writing can be therapeutic for you as a writer, and can also help others. At the Federation of BC Writers, we have activities and opportunities underway for you to hone your craft, write, keep connected, and promote your work. Follow our Facebook and other social channels, watch for the WriteOn newsletter in your email, and check our website for up-todate information on exciting events such as our new Sunday Workshops—coming up on May 24th “The
Monster—er, ART—of Marketing and Promotion from a Small Town,” with author Ev Bishop and on September 13th “The Power of Cross Promotion” with author Bill Arnott. If you have been adversely affected by the virus and are unable to renew your membership at this time, please be assured that we will continue your membership up to at least the end of August. Your benefits that will continue include: exclusive, deep discounts on writing workshops (most are online now), many free online learning events, promotion of your book and/or events, member profile where you can promote your profession, WordWorks magazine three times a year, and monthly WriteOn newsletter packed full of news, events, and opportunities for writers. If you do not want those benefits to continue, just send us a note at fbcw. email@example.com.
We are sorry to hear that Tom Baxter, who once served as advertising manager here at WordWorks has passed away. Tom was a recipient of Canada’s prestigious Chalmers Award for artistic merit, and one of only of a handful of magical performers in the world who worked with no painted boxes, no smoke and mirrors. His expertise led him to work with Robertson Davies to create the magic and illusions for the premier stage
adaptation of Davies’ book, World of Wonders. He also provided research to Pierre Berton for an article on psychic phenomena, and taught Al Pacino and Colin Farrell sleight of hand for film roles. Tom authored nine books on the history, philosophy and techniques of his art form, and taught performers in places as far away as Greece and Hong Kong. We offer our condolences to Wenda Crawford and to the family.
Writers benefit from membership! Write for WordWorks, get paid. Get discounts on ads. Promote your events for free on FBCW Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Subscribe to newsletters to keep up to date on events and opportunities. Enter our annual writing contests. Launch your book in WordWorks. Sell your
books in the online book market. Get discounts to attend online conferences and workshops. Advertise your skills in the professional directory. Find and collaborate with like-minded writers in the searchable member directory (or let people find you). Attend Meet and Greets. Join a writers’ group. Write together.
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WordWorks is published by THE FEDERATION OF BC WRITERS 3383 Rockhampton Rd, Nanoose Bay BC V9P 9H4 www.bcwriters.ca 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 Federation of BC Writers. 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 Vice President: Doni Eve, Treasurer: Francesca Gesualdi, Secretary: Sheilagh Simpson. Directors: Jacqueline Carmichael, Cynthia Sharp, Luanne Armstrong, Barbara Drozdowich, Ruth Lloyd, Wawmeesh Hamilton, Andrea Guldin, Adelia MacWilliam, Sheilagh Simpson, Randy Fred, Bill Arnott. 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: Sherry Conly, Cover Designer: Chris Hancock Donaldson, Typesetting and Graphic Design: Ursula Vaira. Editorial Board: Doni Eve, Chelsea Comeau, Barbara Pelman, Jacqueline Carmichael, Caitlin Hicks, Adelia MacWilliam, Christine Lowther, Ann Graham Walker UPCOMING THEME 2020 Vol III: Fiction. Pitch article ideas and cover art to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 15, 2020. CONTESTS: The FBCW runs annual contests. Please check the website for details. ADVERTISING: WordWorks advertises services and products that are of genuine interest to writers. www.bcwriters.ca 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.
On Being Interrupted By Silence Notes from WordWorks Staff Adelia MacWilliam Retreat can be a powerful rite of passage. Ancient Sumerian myths speak of travel to the underworld followed by renewal, as does the Odyssey. Calypso kept Ulysses “in one place/in a hollow cave” (Odyssey, IX 29–30) for seven years before Ulysses was finally freed with the help of Mercury (who is, among other things, the god of writing). Now, all over the world, we’ve been sent to our caves “in a sudden strangeness” (Pablo Neruda), to wait the horror out. Aerial photographs show a trickle of pilgrims circling the Kaaba in Mecca’s Grand Mosque, an empty Tiananmen Square. Here in Desolation Sound the loudest sound coming from the sky is the whoosh of ravens’ wings cutting through air’s butter. Coming from the sea, geese saxophone. It’s spooky, but there’s a gift here. Neruda, imagining what it would be like if we all simply paused at the same time, wrote: Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive. from “Keeping Quiet”
Let this time, with the earth floating free of our noise,
be a rite of passage for us. Perhaps the earth will show us something. Perhaps Mercury will help us write it down.
q Jackie Carmichael Inspired by an anxious late-night chat with a writer friend as the seriousness of the pandemic hit home, I created The Pandemic Panacea Online Book Club, a Facebook page to give readers ideas for books to read—and to help writers missing out on readings and launches to showcase their work digitally. Turns out, it was a universal idea. In the States, authors Caroline Leavitt and Jenna Blum formed A Mighty Blaze. In BC, FBCW member Eileen Cook and the Creative Academy for Writers offered a virtual “Sea Cruise” for writers to make the most of the isolated moment. As the new Islands rep for the Fed, I write a newsletter updating about events. But with the scourge of the coronavirus came cancellations. After chatting with a couple friends who were experiencing anxiety in isolation and uncertainty, I asked five hundred members on my mailing list to share how they were doing. As answers poured in, I shared them in quick-turn notes dubbed “The Coffee Break.” Continued on page 4
Cover Photograph: Marianne Smith The Mulberry Bush Bookstore All of us who want to be published hope to end up in a bookstore very much like The Mulberry Bush Bookstore in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. Tom and Barbara Pope have been in the business thirty years, having thrived despite competition from Chapters, Amazon, and e-books. They and other resilient bookstores in BC are deeply committed to readers, writers, and publishers—and to their communities. At this publication, the store is closed to walk-in traffic due to COVID-19! Tom and Barbara and their staff are
behind closed doors busy fulfilling online orders (their bookstore has over eight million titles), taking phone orders, and talking to people “through the glass” by phone, helping them choose a book for curbside delivery. Retirement will have to wait, though they are ready to retire and have the business up for sale. “We’re not in any hurry. We want to find the right buyers, and we’ll mentor them as long as they need help. Our primary concern is to look after our staff and make sure that their jobs are secure. Our professional booksellers are like family; they’re the centre of the business and we couldn’t run it without them.” Tom and Barbara are looking forward to retirement but will continue volunteering and working for literacy. “We’ll always want to be part of the community, and we have two beautiful communities to be part of.” 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 3
“I really enjoyed reading what my friends and kindred spirits like everyone else were doing to cope with social distancing and unexpected time on their hands,” wrote author and lighthouse keeper Caroline Woodward.
Chelsea Comeau This is the first time I’ve written in two weeks. I’m able to let ideas percolate, and consider projects I’d like to start when I’m ready, but actually sitting down to write is hard now. At first, I thought I’d get a lot done during self-isolation. My day job is essentially non-existent at present, and my income has dried up, so I’ve spent the past week, especially, feeling guilty for not doing more. I typically try to enter as many paid contests as possible, which is something I might not be able to afford to do, so, in that way, my practice will also be temporarily changed. I’ve learned that, although the anxiety I’ve worked so hard to control is back for now, there are some truly brave people in the world doing what they can to provide some sense of normalcy and comfort until we recover from this. There are options for us to continue doing what we love, despite drastic limitations. I’m grateful to be in a position to access these things, and I’m grateful for everyone who is doing what they can right now to help writers and the world in general. Stay safe, everyone.
Doni Eve In early March, plum trees were blooming, maples budding, and apple branches swelled with promise. I had withdrawn from many activities—after years juggling work, writing, art, and life, I stepped from full-time work into the comfortable shoes of a writer. I’m in The Writers Studio Online with eleven others, located around the world. We were shocked when one student, based near Milan, described her experience staying home, not able to visit her grandmother. As COVID-19 and isolation spread from country to country, city to city, our online group became more than a classroom. We scheduled extra sessions to discuss our fears. Being together, even online, reading to each other and sharing tips on coping, provided comfort and inspiration. I learned when distraction becomes overwhelming, if you sit, fingers on keyboard or pen on paper, and wait ten minutes, you will write. I’m grateful to mentor and author Stella Leventoyannis Harvey for that wisdom. Learning and adapting helps us survive, as individuals and organizations. Resilience isn’t bouncing back, it’s springing forward into new ways of coping and doing things. I wonder how we will have changed by the time plums soften and fall, maples turn gold, and apples ripen. 4 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
Barbara Pelman If I look at the forest and not the trees, I am overwhelmed: when will I see my family again? How will my 103-year-old mother deal with her isolation? How is my poor grandson, deprived of his Spring Break camps, dealing with it? Why am I still not being productive? What if I get the virus and die alone? But if I look at the trees, the maple unravelling its leaves, the Garry oak starting to bud, the cherry blossoms on the streets of the city, then it’s just another day in the life of a happy retiree. Minus, of course, the coffee dates and lunches with friends, the walks side by side, talking poetry or not. Minus the visits across the Salish Sea to daughter and grandson and family. Minus the ballet and symphony and movies. But otherwise it is business as usual—get up sometime or other, check email, do some exercise, write a poem, practise piano, maybe plant some beans. But now, because we can’t visit, we make phone calls, we email each other, encourage various artistic games with each other. Right now I am responding to a daily call from a friend, an art therapist, who lives now in Crete (can’t visit, maybe never): send images or write a poem about a colour. Yesterday orange, and before that, red and green and blue and pink. Today, it’s a shape—circles. So I wrote a poem, posted it, and quite excitedly anticipate tomorrow’s prompt. As Anne Lamott reminds us, Bird by Bird. As my grandmother used to say, Little by Little. Day by day by self-isolating day, colour by colour and shape by shape, and hopefully poem by little circular, colourful poem.
Ann Graham Walker Coronavirus is a devastation still not fully imagined and yet to be told. And we are the witnesses. What will our role as writers be when we have gathered ourselves? How will we soothe and guide each other forward into a changed world? I feel overwhelmed by the pandemic and my need to see human faces. Zoom and Skype seem suddenly to be the tribal fires where we gather. The FBCW was already using Zoom—a lot. Our board members live in every part of the province and this is how we meet. But now there is more to it. Zoom, Facebook, YouTube have become antidotes to isolation. They are the tools that enable us to share our writing and even hold book launches in a world where all normal connections have been severed. It is awesome how isolation, sheltering in place, have become catalysts for some of the most spirited outpourings of caring, love, and ingenuity I’ve seen in our writing community. And it makes sense. We go into a place of deep isolation every day to do our work. What makes us different as writers is our peculiar drive to share that inner world with others. To connect and to give by connecting.
Writers, we’ll survive this extraordinary pause in history and, together, we’ll help others to survive. The expressions of concern for one another out there right now are beautiful. I hope you are writing. The FBCW is a non-profit society, a federally registered charity, eight hundred members strong. Please email us at email@example.com if you need help or support (a real person will answer your email) or have a great idea to share.
Ursula Vaira Every day my screen fills with poems and stories and anecdotes, writers writing their way through the pandemic, gifting each other with solace, humour, and ways to be. I also see notes from writers who are frozen, shocky, unable to do anything at all. We are writers. If we can’t make art just now, let each of us serve as witness. Keep a journal even if it is written in point form. It will become a valuable document for the detail it contains. We are seeing alien landscapes. People behaving in ways we wouldn’t have believed earlier. Speaking new languages of fear and anxiety—see how they are cloaked in denial and in bravado or aggression, and how they are expressed in the body. Children speak with higher-pitched voices, they run, run, up and down the halls. We are being called to look the monster fear right in the eye. It’s vital that we do; we must return to write the stories and poems and memoirs that share what we’ve learned. Don’t forget the power of journal writing to bring clarity and to ease anxiety by allowing us to face it and to express it. Invite the whole family to journal. Promise
you’ll never spy. Have sharing sessions but never insist. Build a hut for the small ones out of cardboard, put pillows and a light in it. They can draw their stories in this safe, private cocoon. Let them tell you what they drew, then write their words beside their art so that they, too, can share by reading in the family circle. This is mommy’s heart, she is scared.
Chris Hancock Donaldson I was relying on drugs, alcohol and socializing to numb pain before COVID-19. Clarity came in fits and starts on another hungover hike, dragging my heavy legs up another hill after another sleepless night. Each day renewing my promise to wait for the little girl who was trying to catch up. Each night leaving her behind. Then this fucking pandemic hit and my first reaction was—and it was a punch to the gut— that I was going to be alone with her without the usual distractions. That first week … it was so hard to loosen that little girl’s grip on my hand. I’d been in my head for so long trying to make sense of my unfamiliar behaviour and bad decisions and then COVID hit, and I quickly realized things are as they are and the only way to look after myself and the little girl was to accept the reality of the situation. It’s April 11 and the COVID virus has given me a big push into adulthood. I have only myself to reach out to when I need a friend, hike in the woods, play music even when it falls flat, take pictures though they’re mostly of my dog, get back into therapy, rest. I’m creating a structure for survival during a pandemic. And the more dedicated I am to that process, the more I can give to the structures of those I love. Stay safe, folks.
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We congratulate the winner of the 2020 Literary Writes Contest
Christine Smart Interview by Chelsea Comeau Hummingbird Ethereal in my hand, an iridescent female, feathers fanned, beak wide open. I place her in the hollow arbutus stump, a stupa, covered with wild rose petals.
Did she expect a long life, more sugar water at the feeder, more buzzing and display? The glass tricked her as images beguile us into believing this life will go on and on, this body will endure in a certain way of being. Like the bird, enticed into flying fast, we dash full force toward something glimpsed some truth longed for, just out of reach, on the far side
Author photo: Jens Roland
where nothing is clear or certain.
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inning this prize affirmed Christine’s poetry writing. She is grateful to writers who have supported and mentored her over the years and to the FBCW for recognition. Scenic hikes in the woods leading to the nearby viewpoint or along the ocean provide her with inspiration. She “enjoys walking alone when ideas, images and metaphors arise.” When she is “working on a poem, being outdoors clears her head and grounds her.” The practice of being calm and present tunes her senses. Fortunately, she lives in a community that hosts readings, book launches, and guest authors. She’s been a member of a poetry group for twenty-five years. Although COVID-19 initially caused lack of focus, she has delved deeper into her writing. With the news updates, she feels her mortality and she is cognisant that “this life and the time we have are precious.” “Hummingbird,” which was selected by Jude Neale, comes from “sitting still and watching these unique nectar-licking birds. In March, the Rufous hummingbirds return to the feeder hanging near the arbutus where they can hover in one spot, appear motionless, and then fly off in any direction. When the young hatch, there can be ten or fifteen hummers jostling for sugar water.” Unfortunately, “something inside the house attracted the bird and it flew full force into the window.” Christine says that “like the bird, humans are often attracted to something just out of reach and it’s this longing that can cause harm or suffering.” She honoured the dead bird by providing a burial. It’s essential “to recognize that our true nature is like the hummingbird: pure beauty and wholeness in itself.”
Marten Berkman photo
Circumpolar Duet: singular/plurality A Yukon-made collaboration that connects visual and literary art and ties into a 500-year-old global book event. Elisabeth Weigand
ukon Writers’ Collective Ink and Yukon Artists at Work have collaborated on a project titled Circumpolar Duet. The facilitator, poet kjmunro, selected twenty artists, ten from the visual arts and ten from the literary arts, who had to start out with the creation of one piece of their own, letting themselves be inspired by the theme singular/plurality. Then each artist was randomly paired with one from the opposing genre and creations were exchanged. The second round asked each artist to create another work inspired by the piece given, but still connecting to the theme. “As I sat listening to all the poems, I closed my eyes and saw so many paintings in my mind that I couldn’t keep up,” explains Heidi Hehn, one of the participating visual artists. “That was when I decided to try to organize a joint art project and show between visual artists and writers.”
“It has been fascinating to see the ways in which each artist responded first to the initial theme and then to the resulting artwork, especially as Yukon artists and writers are so diverse in their styles and the materials they use,” says Munro. “It’s rare that artists get a chance to respond to each other’s work so directly—it’s incredibly inspiring.” The visual artists taking part in the project were Nicole Bauberger, Marten Berkman, Heidi Hehn, Jackie Irvine, Astrid Kruse, Françoise La Roche, Leslie Leong, Lillian Loponen, Joyce Majiski, and Martha Jane Ritchie. The participating literary artists were Ellen Bielawski, Corinna Cook, Lily Gontard, Jamella Hagen, Susanne Hingley, Ruth Lera, Joanna Lilley, Kirsten Madsen, Laurel Parry and Elisabeth Weigand. All forty works were published in an anthology and presented in a three-week show in Whitehorse at the Yukon Artists @ Work gallery. Please contact kjmunro for copies of the anthology: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Singular/Plurality” is the theme our government chose for Canada’s presence at the October 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair—the world’s largest and most important literary fair, held annually in Germany. Each year one country is chosen to be the Guest of Honour at the fair, which dates back to the fifteenth century, when, during the Reformation, the Gutenberg press was invented, launching a revolutionary step in literary history from manuscripts to printed books. In 2020 Canada is the Guest of Honour and will be given a whole pavilion at the fairgrounds to showcase its historical and cultural, but most of all its literary heritage. 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 7
PEAVI—going strong at 25 years. How can we help? Sally Jennings
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Many of us can guide you from initial editing to the final pdf to be taken to the printer. Writers Society of Victoria, for whom we offer blue-pencil sessions and editing advice. We are associated with Island Blue’s Printorium Bookworks, where many of our edited books are printed. We liaise with the University of Victoria, the Greater Victoria Public Library, West Coast Editorial Associates, Royal Roads University, Camosun College, and the Editors Association of Canada, which occasionally provide speakers at meetings or workshops. Every year PEAVI offers a workshop in editing matters to promote professional development. Workshops and meetings are open to the public. The subjects are chosen for writers, for beginner and experienced editors, and for those in the communications field. The workshops include everything from grammar to technology. In turn, members of PEAVI attend conferences and give presentations to other editors and writers. PEAVI sometimes has a table at conferences to publicize edited books, share business cards, and contact prospective writers. In 2020 we are celebrating our 25th anniversary. Thankfully, there is no way any of us use peaveys in our editing work. Whether or not PEAVI resembles a logger’s cant hook with a spike at the end is a matter for debate and/or lost in the mists of time, but we certainly feel as though we balance on logs in cold water and carefully guide them downstream to the printer.
Olaf Sztaba photo
EAVI began in 1995, when a group of dedicated editors from Vancouver Island, mostly members of the Editors Association of Canada (EAC) branch in Vancouver, decided to form a local editing group. No one wanted to go to meetings in Vancouver. These twentyone editors met monthly in friendly living rooms. When I joined PEAVI someone told me the early members had coined the name based on a tool called a peavey. I had to look up the word and found it was a logger’s cant hook with a spike at the end. Odd, I thought. Apparently, this was deemed appropriate because it was linked to the lumber industry on the Island and the initials could be manipulated to stand for Professional Editors Association of Vancouver Island. No one remembers who the joker was. The association grew to include editors and writers of all sorts; membership now hovers around ninety, involving freelancers as well as those “gainfully employed.” We are in-house editors, proofreaders, project managers, Hansard transcribers, indexers, graphic designers, journalists and communication specialists. PEAVI is a voluntary association of independent professionals. As proven by its long history, PEAVI meets a vital need for writers, for editors who often work alone as freelancers, or for those who would like to become an editor but don’t know how to start. PEAVI functions as the hub of a wheel, allowing writers to contact a wide variety of specialists through the searchable members list on our website. Writers can access editors to get their spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word use checked (copy-editing). Other editors will help with restructuring the book (structural editing) or guiding you in the development of your ideas (developmental editing). Some PEAVI members are graphic designers and can design both the interior and the cover of your book, inserting photos and diagrams. Still others will format your book ready for publishing. We guide you in the process of getting an ISBN (international standard book number) and turning it into a bar code. In fact, many of us can guide you from initial editing to the final pdf to be taken to the printer. We have a Facebook page. We maintain links with the
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For more info, visit:
10% OFF PASSES FOR FEDERATION OF BC/YUKON WRITERS MEMBERS!
ferniewriters.org 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 9
The Launch That Wasn’t
Releasing a new book during COVID-19 Katherine Fawcett
y box of author copies arrived at the Brackendale post office on March 5th. I raced home, ripped it open and pulled out a copy of The Swan Suit. I was giddy. I’d poured so much time, thought, emotion and energy into this collection of short stories. I ran my hand across the cover, flipped through the pages and marvelled at the centuries-old process that translates ideas into these wonderful packages we call books. It was exhilarating. I couldn’t wait to share this book with readers. However, there was something in the air that dulled my joy. This crazy new virus. I was horrified by the news out of Wuhan. I tried to focus. China was a world away. I had an extravagant book tour planned. Six communities, two provinces, libraries, bookstores. Live music. Readings. Wine. Snacks. Discussions about magic, feminism, fairy tales, essential oils, sex and swans. Open jams for musicians afterward. A new pair of boots for me. And then, Italy. It broke my heart to read how the virus was hitting the northern part of that country so hard. Still, I closed my eyes. My publicist Annie Boyar had designed gorgeous invitations and posters for the tour. Social media was ablaze. She’d also arranged newspaper interviews and worked out details for booksellers to be at each venue. The first event was planned for the Pemberton Library on Saturday March 14, official launch day. My friend Suzanne Wilson had offered to play guitar. I’d launched my first book, The Little Washer of Sorrows (Thistledown, 2015) at the same venue. Until—Seattle. The dreadful contagion was coming closer. There was state of emergency in Washington. Could this come to Canada? Call me an optimist or call me naive, but I didn’t think it would. I was more worried that venues might not be big enough for all our guests. That we’d run out of wine. I’d suggested booksellers place big orders, so they’d have enough copies for me to sign. I bought packages of goldtipped white feathers to give out as bookmarks. 10 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
Then, Lynn Valley Care Centre in Vancouver. People were getting infected. People were dying. COVID-19 was here and I had to step out of my bubble. On Tuesday before launch day I called my elderly parents in Calgary and suggested they not come to the event at Shelf Life Books the following week. In my heart, everything I do and create I dedicate to them. I still love making them proud—making them laugh—so this was a big deal. They didn’t argue. We knew we’d be able to spend time together between the Canmore and Calgary events. On Wednesday, my publisher said that if I felt uncomfortable and wanted to postpone any travel or events, they would support my decision. I thanked them but didn’t feel it was necessary. On Thursday, COVID-19 was officially declared to be
a global pandemic. We decided to nix drinks and snacks at the Pemberton event. On Friday morning, I had my hair done. From the chair at Concrete Blonde, I talked on the phone to the librarian about seating people farther apart from each other. On Friday evening the Pemberton Community Centre, which houses the Library, closed. There would be no launch. On Saturday, the book’s official birthday, I drove to Pemberton and delivered a copy to Suzanne, the musician. We tapped elbows awkwardly. The next few days were a blur. Schools closed. A state of emergency was declared. People were urged to self-isolate. All public Swan Suit events were cancelled. Annie and the team at Douglas & McIntyre dove into revamp mode. They quickly organized a Facebook Live Launch, which I hosted from my home in Squamish. This was to coincide with the cancelled Calgary event. CBC Radio requested a telephone interview with me on “The Homestretch” show. I chatted with host Doug Dirks about reaching an audience via an online platform; about reimagined fairy tales in worrying times. The Facebook event went well. Hundreds of people watched, as I read excerpts and answered questions. A short video I made on “Bad Timing” has been viewed
nearly 3000 times. The publisher set up BookConcierge@ douglas-mcintyre.com to direct people to independent bookstores near them that will deliver. My first Zoom book club meeting is set for next month. Yes, people are still reading. But I’m worried about how the COVID-19 crisis will affect small bookstores and the publishing industry in general. I’m worried that The Swan Suit will miss that crucial first few months and won’t reach an audience. I’m worried about my parents’ health. My teenager’s final year of high school. My music students. My neighbours. Florida. New York. Overworked doctors and nurses. The list is so very long. But I still believe that good books can help carry us through times of crisis. Maybe a twisted little fairy tale from The Swan Suit will bring relief to a reader somewhere. I hope that’s not too optimistic now.
Gail Anderson-Dargatz offers FBCW members a 10% discount on online creative writing courses, blue pencil sessions and fiction mentorships. To purchase, use the discount code: BCWRITERS
For details visit Gail’s website: gailanderson-dargatz.ca Or email: email@example.com Twitter: @AndersonDargatz Gail Anderson-Dargatz is the internationally bestselling author of The Cure for Death by Lighting and The Spawning Grounds and has twice been a finalist for the Giller Prize.
2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 11
Unlocking the Door— Publishing Tips and Resources Fern G.Z. Carr
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Keith Levit Photography
fter having been published approximately seven hundred times worldwide, I’m finally feeling more comfortable about scouting out publishers and publications. The field is so expansive though, knowing where to begin can be daunting. I therefore would like to share what I personally have found to be the most valuable sources of information for writers. My absolute favourite “go-to” resource is Duotrope at www.duotrope.com. Their market listings are up-to-date and at the time of writing this article, contained 7,246 entries for publications and agents. While I tend to utilize Duotrope primarily for poetry, their massive database also displays fiction, non-fiction, and visual art markets for audio, electronic, print, and video publications in multiple countries. The amount of information to be obtained from this site is incredible. Although I use my own submission tracking system, I do take advantage of Duotrope’s. I report my acceptances and rejections (admittedly preferring the former) and by doing so, have the additional benefit of free publicity—“Duotrope Weekly Wire,” their online newsletter, publishes the names of its subscribers who have received acceptances during the previous week. This newsletter is worth its weight in platinum in terms of content. The “Duotrope Weekly Wire” covers a vast array of topics and statistics such as paying and non-paying markets, submission windows, literary agents, themed submissions and publisher status changes. Admittedly, however, my small sampling of the newsletter’s content does not do it justice. If this combination of a weekly newsletter and a comprehensive database weren’t enough, there is a tremendous wealth of relevant information packed into each individual listing. That makes the annual subscription cost of $50 USD well worth the expenditure. Duotrope does offer a free trial period though for those who are interested in subscribing but are a bit unsure as to whether or not they want to commit. Poets & Writers, www.pw.org, is another favourite
of mine. This site is run by the USA’s largest non-profit organization serving creative writers. Its mission statement is “to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public.” They do this with their huge databases of literary magazines, small presses, grants and awards, MFA programs, writers retreats, searches for literary venues, literary agents, and review outlets. Their print magazine, also entitled Poets & Writers, is available for purchase. There is no fee for writers to use the Poets & Writers website and no obligation to buy the magazine. A plus is that the organization is gracious enough to offer every writer their own directory profile page which can be personalized. (For a better sense of what is provided, I’d invite you to visit my Poets & Writers page at www.pw.org/directory/writers/fern_g_z_carr). Named “One of the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers,” Winning Writers, www.winningwriters.com, not only has a healthy supply of information for writers, but also issues a free monthly newsletter which provides some additional publicity in “Recent Honors and Publication Credits for Our Subscribers.” The Winning Writers website contains a fairly extensive list of resources which, in addition to the expected whereto-publish listings, includes materials for students and educators, as well as for those who would like
The amount of information to be obtained from this site is incredible. to self-publish, enter contests, blog, and avoid scams, to name a few categories. NewPages, www.newpages.com, describes itself as “news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more.” They also supply a monthly “eLitPak” which is fairly informative. Although I subscribe to their free weekly online newsletter which does contain some useful information, I find that it tends to constantly refer the writer back to the NewPages website. By contrast, the Duotrope newsletter is much stronger and can stand on its own. Submittable, www.submittable.com is an extremely reliable submissions manager. The company also issues a free newsletter, “Submishmash Weekly.” Regrettably, their newsletter is not particularly comprehensive in terms of publishing opportunities and instead, tends to highlight a few rather quirky articles in its “Publishing and News” section. I subscribe to this newsletter mainly because I enjoy reading the articles they select. Savvy social media users themselves are often a good source of information as to where to submit. I tend to gravitate to Facebook which I find to be the
most practical. As BC writers, we are fortunate to have groups like BC Writers, Authors & Editors; Writers West; Federation of British Columbia Writers; League of Canadian Poets BC; BC Poets; and Poetry around BC. I enjoy reading these posts, which frequently unlock ideas I haven’t even considered. Of course there are many additional Facebook groups of interest. I have found several quality calls for submissions on Writers Post No Fee Call (sic) for Submissions. Another popular group is Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art). There are many generous people who want to share tips and calls via their blogs. Trish Hopkinson’s blog, Trish Hopkinson—A Selfish Poet, at www.trishhopkinson.com is a marvellous source of information. I can certainly assure you that the name of her blog is playful; she definitely is not a selfish poet. Trish frequently contributes as well to the Writers Post Call for Submissions group on Facebook. It goes without saying that while it is easy to navigate the internet to scan for resources, there is an embarrassment of riches assisting writers at all stages of their careers. Consequently, I’ve attempted to zero in on those I have found to be the most effective. Over the years, they have proven to be quite invaluable to me. It is my hope that they can be for you as well.
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org
2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 13
Self-Publishing— It’s Easier than Writing Your Book Pat Buckna
elf-publishing is much simpler than it was even a decade or two ago. In August 2019, I published a 362-page memoir in Powell River. There were technical challenges, none insurmountable. Research before you start—it will save considerable time and money.
people to purchase from Amazon for print-on-demand, which costs them far less. I have the option to buy author copies through Amazon and ship them to customers. Even though I make less per book than from the ones I had printed, it evens out because of reduced shipping fees.
Design considerations. Many decisions need to be made: book size, margins, gutters, headers, footers, justification, leading, fonts, binding (perfect or stitched), paper stock (type and weight), cover finish, print run size (more units=lower unit cost), print on demand, or digital. For images, you’ll have to understand resolution, colour depth, bleed, and compression. If you lack technical skills, hire design or graphic specialists to help with some aspects. Being a good author doesn’t automatically make you a good book designer. I chose to design my own book and cover and bought an Adobe subscription so I could use InDesign and Photoshop software. I purchased an inexpensive book design template to save tons of time and allow me to turn my manuscript into a professional layout. I published in four methods—print, print-on-demand, and two e-book formats (Kindle and Kobo)—which meant creating four different files with differing settings. Each company provided good online instructions about how to prepare files for upload. Each format requires a unique ISBN which can be obtained at no cost from Library and Archives Canada: www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/services/isbn-canada.
Lessons learned. Avoid “one-stop” self-publishing companies who try to sell you design, publishing, and marketing. Their services include hefty markups and the distribution services they offer do not guarantee any sales over what you can do yourself. (I made the mistake of contacting one and had to fend off their marketing people several times after I told them I wasn’t interested.) Digital formats and print-on-demand have no upfront costs other than the cost of proof copies. Regardless of what method of publishing you choose (print, print-on-demand, e-book) always check with each service provider to ensure you create files with specifications they require. This typically means saving or exporting your manuscript into a pdf, rtf, or EPUB format. If you find this to be too technical, consider hiring someone with the expertise to do it for you. If you decide to have your own copies printed, make certain you deal with a book printer, not a brochure or poster printer. I used a local BC book printer in Victoria who provided excellent technical and pricing advice, and helped me avoid some common pitfalls. Order proof copies—expensive but worth the cost. I ordered one from my printer and one from Amazon—one with gloss cover, one with matte. As a result I was able to modify the layout and reduce the page count to save significant per-book cost. Proofreading in final book format allowed me to catch several typos I missed in my four previous proofreads. (Kindle Direct has a built-in spell-check for digital pdf files, but none for print-on-demand.) Be prepared to spend far more time marketing your work than you expected. Is self-publishing a lot of work? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely!
Cost and pricing. Research books with similar genres, formats and page counts to set a reasonable retail price to charge. Your costs are determined by the size of your print run and shipping costs. Make certain your retail prices are the same for each print and print-on-demand. Your retail price will determine what percentage you receive when print-on-demand or e-books are sold. For printed copies, consider shipping costs. I originally planned to mail out my own books to purchasers, but Canada Post charges $14 per copy, so I now direct 14 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
The Marketing Report in Your Query or Proposal Keith Liggett A short cover letter that describes why you think your book should be published. Give us some examples of similar books that are currently on the market, and then tell us how yours is going to be different. Who is your target audience? Are you an expert on the subject matter of your book? What are your credentials? Rocky Mountain Books, rmbooks.com/submit-a-proposal
ost publishing houses, as part of their submission packet, ask for a marketing plan. “But I thought that was their job?” is the most common writerly comment. Yes. And no. The publishing house is asking the writer to submit a detailed account (see above) of how the proposed book will fit in the market in general and with the publisher’s catalogue in particular. What are the current successful titles and why will your book be more successful than the others on the market? And last, why you should be the one to write it. A friend once submitted a collection of short stories, mostly about couples having relationship issues. A number of her friends had been published by this house, and she thought she had a good shot at getting through the door by dropping their names and with their support. The short rejection letter made the point her characters were all heterosexual. The press was an LGBTQ press and, as such, the collection would not fit with their catalogue. A bit of basic marketing research would have uncovered that fact. You wouldn’t submit a book on building chairs to a cookbook publisher. You wouldn’t submit a book on gardening to a publisher focused on computer science. Or maybe you would, if you didn’t do your marketing research. First. What is your book? Define it succinctly and in a manner placing it within the world of literature as a whole and your genre in particular. Two. What similar books are in the market and why is yours different? Why will yours be more successful?
In researching Two, you will discover publishing houses specializing in your genre. Look at what they publish. Buy some books. Read them. If you write poetry like Emily Dickinson, don’t send your collection to the folks publishing Shane Koyczan. Know your book and learn about your prospective publisher. Three. What publisher fits? If you’ve written a trail guide or a climbing guide, Rocky Mountain Books is a perfect fit. If you’ve written a novel placed in the mountains, that doesn’t fit. RM Books specifically does not publish fiction. No matter how great your book, you are not going to be the one that breaks that established mould. Don’t even try. Four. Is it a query or a proposal? The difference between a query and a proposal is essentially length. In a query you ask, “Do you want to see my book?” In a proposal you ask, “This is the first part of my book, do you want to see the rest?” In a query, your marketing section should be short and concise, but have concrete details. In a proposal, your marketing plan should be concrete, detailed with several examples of relevant books (publishers and market in general), and contain sales figures showing the success of the books. The very last. A friend worked for a major department store chain as the head of their merchandising department. Merchandising is marketing to people walking by. When they were revamping a store, he wore the same t-shirt every day. “Presentation is Everything.” White bold block letters on a black shirt. Present your manuscript professionally. One-sided, white paper, 12 pt, serif type, black, one-inch margins and so on. Make it easy for the reader to evaluate the manuscript without a bunch of extraneous bs. Believe in your project. Show it is unique. Show how it meshes with the publisher’s current catalogue. Show it is a viable project. And don’t get discouraged if (when) it comes back. It will. Time after time. Have a backup publisher (or two) in your pocket. Send it out again … and again … until it finds a home. 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 15
The Dos and Don’ts of Getting an Agent Cadence Mandybura A good pitch session “can bypass years of slush piles…”
ublication. It’s a dream and a goal for so many writers—and many publishers will only look at your work if you’re represented by a literary agent. But getting an agent is a hurdle all its own. I asked Robert Mackwood, Director and Principal Agent at Seventh Avenue Literary Agency in Vancouver, and Sam Hiyate, President and CEO at The Rights Factory in Toronto, for their advice for writers. Before we start, let’s clear up what agents can and can’t do. First of all, consider whether you need an agent at all. In Canada, writers can approach small and medium-sized publishers without an agent and get published. Mackwood shares that the majority—he estimates over 80%—of books published in North America are unagented. Also, agents don’t really have a role for authors looking to self-publish. Agents can help place your work with a publisher, and will then negotiate the best possible deal for you. Some agents may provide editorial guidance on your work and help strengthen your manuscript. An agent can’t guarantee publication, big advances, or turn your book into a bestseller. But if you find a good fit, an agent can prove to be an integral part of your writing career. Do. Your. Research. If there’s one thing you take away from this article, this is it. Make sure your book matches what the agency is looking for. Sending your YA sci-fi book to an agency focused on adult self-help won’t get you anywhere. Do write a good query letter. Bring the same level of rigour to your query that you do to the rest of your writing. Make sure it’s clear who you are, what your book is about, and how it fits into the market. Do write the best book or proposal you can. Especially for fiction, your manuscript “should be the best possible thing you can submit, because we’re only going to look at it once,” says Hiyate. This means reviewed by beta readers and possibly a professional editor. Do have a platform for your work (especially for non-fiction). “Having a platform with depth and width is very important—show me what you have done and, even more critical, what you have written and published. Show me you have methods to get attention for your book,” explains Mackwood, whose agency specializes
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in non-fiction. What constitutes a platform varies, but it can include elements like an author website, a social media presence, past publications (including self-published books), a blog or regular column, being recognized as a spokesperson or expert on your subject matter, and having an established audience relevant to your book (e.g., students, clients, business networks). Don’t spam every literary agent out there. Mass emailing a bunch of agents is a big no-no. It looks unprofessional and shows you haven’t taken the time to tailor your query to a specific agency. Don’t give agents material that they haven’t requested. Follow the agency’s guidelines, keep your emails concise, and don’t send them anything they don’t want. “If an agency doesn’t want material yet, then don’t force it upon them. That leads to an instant delete,” comments Mackwood. Don’t make outlandish claims. Telling agents to drop everything on their plate (right now!) because your book is poised to make millions…will not go over well. Hiyate comments, “I want to have a book that I can turn into money, not the promise of money.” Don’t take it personally if an agent declines you. Agents can get hundreds of queries every week, and there are lots of reasons an agent might pass on your work. Look for opportunities at conferences to learn from and connect with agents. The Surrey International Writers’ Conference, taking place this October, offers a popular “Pitch Session” where writers pitch their work to an acquiring editor, agent, producer, or publisher. Camille Netherton, SiWC’s chair, says that a good pitch session “can bypass years of slush piles and also create a ‘buzz’ for your work, with the agent anticipating receiving your full manuscript.” It’s also a great way to practise your pitch. Every agency is different. Research agents and pitch to the right ones; follow their guidelines, and write a compelling query letter. Signing with an agent is the beginning of a relationship, so make sure you start it off right. Most importantly—write the best book you can. “The most important thing is that we love the work and we think we can sell it,” says Hiyate. “That’s the nature of the relationship.”
The Cultural Conversation of #Podcasting Caitlin Hicks The good news? It’s fairly simple: for me, a good microphone and a quiet room.
ith COVID-19 keeping us all at home, what better time than now to share our stories? Podcasting offers so much! Fiction, non-fiction, every genre, every kind of topic to satisfy your interest—and it’s easy to access! It’s perfectly sterile! And it connects us to each other with empathy. Story is so powerful. With story we participate in a shared experience that is as old and enduring as our existence. Voices around a fire, urgent news delivered, one voice at a time by horseback, camel or elephant; bedtime and family stories—a ceremony of our beliefs. Rumour, gossip, legend, legacy, history. Herstory. The oral tradition of storytelling and its instinctive pull is only one reason I was attracted to podcasting. At this stage of my life, I want to continue to be part of the cultural conversation. Theatre, which is my point of entry into storytelling, takes place in the present: it’s only alive while the sound of the word can be heard in the room. And here’s the thing: you have to gather that audience every single time—it’s costly, it’s tricky, it’s life-consuming. And nowadays, we’re forbidden to gather! But when I first heard Michelle Abraham, a guest speaker at our local women’s entrepreneur’s network, introduce her “Idea to iTunes in 30 Days” workshop with the latest news about Google, I decided to figure out how to podcast. Her opening comment: “In late 2019 Google began indexing podcasts in their search engine. For podcasters, this equals visibility. Although there are now 700,000 podcasts on iTunes, the industry is still in its infancy, with only 6% of the population podcast listeners. It’s the Wild West for podcasting!” The stories I told in my life as a creator of theatre, these stories are silent without a constant effort to put them into the
world. The podcast form offers a viable outlet for these works. Listen to them again, like a favourite song; how do they connect to today’s world? Podcasts are consumed repeatedly in a piecemeal fashion, like a song; each is a glimpse of a complete world. As a playwright, all my produced work was in the first person. So my body of work and the idea of a podcast created an opportunity: I decided to break up my theatrical plays into pivotal moments in each character’s life. One moment, one character at a time. Here’s the bad news: the world of podcasting is nothing without technology. The good news? It’s fairly simple: for me, a good microphone and a quiet room. And there is already so much how-to information “out there” if you simply type your question into the Google bar at the top of the page. There’s advice on how to get started, how to find your followers, how to market your work to your followers, and how to get paid for podcasting. How to format your podcast, who to invite as guests! Or not! And there’s the required listening: just like every writer needs to be an avid reader, every podcaster has to spend the hours listening to what’s out there. It’s planning; it’s defining the product/podcast; it’s figuring out your platform (just like trying to find an agent for your novel). You have to come up with your slogan, your mini-description. You have to plan your content and learn who your audience is. And you should have enough content to produce one professional podcast a minimum of every couple of weeks. But once you find your audience, you can grow it without having to scour the corners for new eyes and ears every time you come up with something different. My creator/partner is an essential part of my equation. He creates the score: editing, design, and choice of music. With the help of Amplify You (email@example.com) we launched our “theatrical podcast” in December on iTunes: SOME KINDA WOMAN, Stories of Us, by Caitlin Hicks. We don’t have guests yet, like so many podcast shows do, but my website/blog has backstory, download and pictures. During your sequestered hours, settle into your imagination for the world of podcasting. Caitlin Hicks blogs at www.caitlinhicks.com/wordpress/blog. She invites questions about her learning curve: caitlin(at)caitlinhicks(dot)com.
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Before You Write an Adaptation Rachelle Stein-Wotten Penning an adaptation is an exciting market of opportunity.
he screen fades to black. The credits roll: Screenplay by Alice Adams. Based on the book by John Jacobs. Before the creative process of turning a book written by John into a screenplay written by Alice began, Alice had to get permission from John. In Canada and other countries, copyright law permits the owner a bundle of rights to their work, meaning he or she can sell those rights to someone else to reproduce their work in a new form: an article can become a stage play, a book can become a theme park. Penning an adaptation is an exciting market of opportunity. Perhaps a short story written by someone else sparks something in you. You imagine it would make a great film, and it’s a script you want to write, but if that initial work you base your script on is not in the public domain, you need to get permission, the underlying rights, to use that material before you start crafting your adaptation. Reach out to the owner. First, determine who owns the underlying rights. In the case of a published book, it may be the publishing house that owns the specific rights you want to obtain. I spoke with Ben Silverman, managing director of Integral Artists talent agency; he suggested starting with Google. If you have a literary agent or manager, they can investigate further, if necessary. Once you determine the owner, sometimes it helps to have lawyers, agents, and management sit an inning out, and make direct contact with the original writer. Silverman told me he had a client reach out via Twitter to an author who agreed in spirit to grant the client the underlying rights to adapt her novel into a screenplay. Establish a connection and express why you want to adapt the writer’s work. Make it clear that you are “being respectful of their art, giving them a vision of what you want to do, and giving them confidence in your ability, not only as a writer who can adapt their underlying work, but also as a resourceful person who understands what is required and is capable of helping see it to fruition commercially,” said Silverman.
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Enter into an agreement. Once you get permission, a formal offer replete with legal contracts comes next. This typically comes in one of two forms: an option agreement or a shopping agreement. An option agreement specifies your exclusive right to develop or produce your adaptation over an agreed-upon time frame for a negotiated amount. “In an option agreement,” explained Silverman, “one might say, I’ll give you x numbers of dollars today for the exclusive rights for the next year, or whatever period of time, to exercise that option—also referred to as the purchase price—which might cost x dollars.” A shopping agreement, however, is less specific, he said. “It basically just says that we’re going to negotiate in good faith later, but the author, or whoever controls the rights, still grants you the right to try and set it up commercially.” Whichever way you go, writers without representation can usually hire a lawyer at an hourly rate to draft contracts. Consult a professional to determine a pathway that will work for you. Who is buying what you’re making? Whether you choose to secure a buyer prior to writing your adaptation or are writing on spec, do your research to know who is looking for material and if your work fits with their mandate. There is no one repository to find out who is accepting material, so network with producers and development executives in the field of what you’re writing (a video game? A graphic novel?) and connect with industry professionals who have the scoop on who’s looking for pitches. If you have the vision and the drive, writing an adaptation can be as rewarding as developing an original concept. Aviva Stein-Wotten photo
Ten Steps Toward Increasing Your Publication Odds Janine Cross Each one increases your odds of a successful manuscript sale to a traditional publishing house.
opularity trends, mergers, budget cuts, staff turnovers, and surplus inventories can influence whether a writer’s manuscript is purchased by a publishing house. Yet these factors are entirely beyond the writer’s control. The good news is, there are aspects of selling a manuscript that are entirely within the writer’s control. Each one increases your odds of a successful manuscript sale to a traditional publishing house. 1: Know your genre. When you’re selling your manuscript, you need to target genre-specific agents and editors or else suffer superfluous rejection letters. Furthermore, each genre has tropes and reader expectations that must be met. 2: Have the appropriate word count. Agents and editors use word count as a quick filter for rejection purposes. If your word count is significantly outside the standard in your genre, you’ve decreased your odds of being read. Yes, there are exceptions to every “rule,” but do you want to gamble on being an exception? 3: Edit your manuscript. Bill Contardi, powerhouse literary agent, says it best: “As the book market gets tougher for selling both fiction and nonfiction, it is imperative that all submissions be polished, edited, and almost ready for the printer.” As you edit, address the creative content of your novel (for instance, does your protagonist display character agency and show a clear character arc?) and technical flaws (such as spelling and grammar errors). 4: Have a reader vet your manuscript. An agent or editor should never be your first reader. Because you’re so close to your story, you need an outside perspective to help you see issues with plot, pacing, logic, and character motivation. A beta reader can also advise if your climax has your intended emotional impact. 5: Create a synopsis of your manuscript. Whether the agent or editor requests one, you should condense your complex, nuanced novel into a two- to three-page
summary that reveals the ending. When describing events in such an abbreviated cause/effect manner, any plot flaws are quickly revealed, along with gaps in character motivation and lack of story structure or character arc. Don’t fear this fantastic tool. 6: Create a riveting pitch line. Don’t underestimate the importance of this one-sentence summary! Agents use them when pitching to editors, editors use them when pitching to sales teams, sales teams use them when pitching to booksellers, and readers use them when pitching to friends. 7: Create a solid query letter. This is your crucial first impression! Comb the internet for examples on how to write a succinct, compelling query and devote ample time and energy on incorporating spark into these few paragraphs. 8: Get an agent … or not. Major New York publishers read only agented material. Canadian publishers usually don’t require an agent. Regardless of where you hope to publish, schedule one-on-one agent interviews at writing conferences to receive valuable feedback on your pitch and the commercial viability of your manuscript. 9: Have a game plan. Create page-count goals and first draft deadlines. Apply for grants and writer residencies. Schedule time for online learning and research. Create a submissions chart to keep track of who you’ve sent what to, and when. Think business. Think career. 10: Keep on … While trying to sell the manuscript, keep on reading, inside your genre and outside it, and keep on writing by moving on to the next project. Persistence=success. With North American book sales increasing every year—696 million sold in the United States alone in 2018 (NDP BookScan)—there is a healthy public appetite for print books. In following the above ten steps, you can increase your chances of joining those numbers. 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 19
Filtering: places in your scenes where you point to your character’s consciousness unnecessarily.
ou’ve written a piece that feels tight, polished, and ready. You’ve revised it so many times. There aren’t any typos or POV slips—it’s clean. Your writing group loves it. You’ve been sending it out. But for some reason, it keeps getting rejected. What are you missing? Well, maybe nothing. Stories get rejected way more than they get published, and not because they aren’t good stories. If that’s the case, you just have to keep going. On the other hand, you might be filtering your scenes too much. Filtering: places in your scenes where you point to your character’s consciousness unnecessarily. This filter of consciousness can have a dulling effect on the immediacy of an otherwise vibrant scene. For example: I looked out the window and saw a blue car park in front of the house across the street. The sentence above has a filter on it: you are aware of the person seeing. You can make the same moment feel more alive by writing it this way: In the unfiltered sentence, the car exists. You can see it. The character’s presence is implied because you’ve established your point of view. You become the character, seeing the car. There is no filter between you and the experience. When you write this way, your scenes can become consciousness. If you write about your character seeing something, you are reminding your reader that she’s reading about a character. You point to a character’s consciousness—she has vision and is using it to navigate her world—but you miss out on the opportunity to create an experience for your reader. You want to create the experience of seeing. Take the filter off. Writing filtered consciousness is asking your reader to peer into a diorama and imagine the story playing out in the box. 20 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
Michelle Yee photo
A blue car parked in front of the house across the street.
Writing unfiltered consciousness is letting your reader live the story as if she’s right inside the diorama. That’s the magic of writing unfiltered consciousness. It lets your reader experience what your character experiences. Removing all of your filters might not work for every kind of prose, or in every context. It depends on the effect you’re going for. But in my experience, almost all scenes are sharper and more vivid as soon as these filters are removed. As an experiment, try removing places where you label a character “seeing” something in your story. Write the details of what the character sees, instead. If she sees a bird, just describe the bird through her eyes, and don’t tell us she’s seeing it. Let the reader become the character, and see the bird itself, through your character’s eyes. Whenever you write things like I think, I realize, I see, I feel, I hear, etc., those are little flags that can tell you that you’re filtering your character’s consciousness through language. If we already know we’re in the mind of a character because of the point of view you’ve chosen, then those flags might be redundant. Try it—rewrite every scene so it comes out of your character’s consciousness. Zap! That puts a sizzle of life into your scenes, doesn’t it? Once you understand filtering and what it does, you’ll probably start noticing it everywhere, in everything you read. Because once you see it, you can’t unsee it. This can be annoying, but ultimately it’s good, because that means you’ll gradually stop doing it so much. Even in your first drafts. (Sorry/not sorry.) Take those filters off, cut out the redundant bits, and go submit some more. Reprinted from sarahseleckywritingschool.com/filtering/
Recipe for Scene Structure Jennifer Manuel
his recipe from Jennifer Manuel’s Margin Notes series is a “super-mini masterclass on scene structure, thanks to
a passage from John Cheever’s story, ‘The Brigadier and the Golf Widow.’ It includes an exact blueprint for you
to revise your story scenes.” Recipe for Scene Structure
Margin Notes ~ Jen Manuel
Ingredients: Recipe for Scene Structure
Margin Notes Jen Manuel
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Margin Notes ~ Jen Manuel
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the complete class, go to jenmanuel.com/margin-notes/how-to-revise-your-scenes-with-this-simple-blueprint.
card and quotes reprinted with permission.
2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 21
What does the scene mean to the character? How does it change things?
What Is Paraphrase Plagiarism? Wendy Laura Belcher When I present this example in workshops, half the audience exclaims in consternation, “Oh, my God, I’ve plagiarized!”
ome types of paraphrasing are plagiarism as well—slightly or even heavily varying sentences or paragraphs even when the source is cited. If your wording is too close to the author’s, it may be problematic despite the citation. This issue of paraphrase plagiarism is covered in the excellent undergraduate text The Craft of Research (Booth et al. 2016), now in its fourth edition, which is a wonderful resource for conducting research and drafting papers. The authors reproduce a paragraph verbatim and then show various examples of paraphrasing it that are questionable. Here are the examples, themselves taken verbatim from the first edition of The Craft of Research (1995). To indicate the problem more clearly, I have added underscore for unvaried words that appear in the same order in the original version, and underdots for words that have been slightly changed.
Original paragraph: It is trickier to define plagiarism when you summarize and paraphrase. They are not the same, but they blend so seamlessly that you may not even be aware when you are drifting from summary into paraphrase, then across the line into plagiarism. No matter your intention, close paraphrase may count as plagiarism, even when you cite the source. Plagiarized version: It is harder to describe plagiarism when summary and paraphrase are involved, because they differ, their boundaries blur, and a writer may not know that she has crossed the boundary from summary to paraphrase and from paraphrase to plagiarism. Regardless of intention, a close paraphrase is plagiarism, even when the source is cited. This paragraph, for instance, would count as plagiarism of that one (Booth, Colomb, and Williams 169). Borderline plagiarized version: Because it is difficult .............. to distinguish the border between summary and paraphrase, .................... a...................... writer can drift dangerously close to plagiarism without .............. knowing it, even when the writer cites a source and .......... never ................... .................. meant ............ to plagiarize. Many might consider this paragraph a paraphrase that crosses the line (Booth, Colomb, and Williams 169). 22 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
Correctly summarized version: According to Booth, Colomb, and Williams, writers sometimes plagiarize unconsciously because they think they are ........................ summarizing, when in fact they are closely paraphrasing, ..................................... an act that counts as plagiarism, even when done unintentionally ........................... and ............ ................... sources are cited (169). ......... .............. When I present this example in workshops, half the audience exclaims in consternation, “Oh, my God, I’ve plagiarized!” Although it’s a common practice to do what’s been done in the plagiarized and borderline plagiarized versions above—take a couple sentences from someone else’s work, then cut them a bit, vary a few of the words so there’s no need for quotation marks, and then cite the original—it’s plagiarism. Why? you may ask. What’s the problem if the source is cited? First, the way that the plagiarized and borderline plagiarized paragraphs put the citation at the end suggests that the ideas in only the last sentence are from another source, not the ideas of the entire paragraph. Second, the wording in the first two versions is just too close. That is, it’s not just ideas that are the intellectual property of authors but their wording. Now, to be honest, if you improperly paraphrase one paragraph from one source in one article, no one will chase you out of the profession. However, if you do this repeatedly in one article for paragraphs from the same source or for many paragraphs from multiple sources, you’re plagiarizing and could draw an editor’s ire. (By the way, software developers are working hard to come up with antiplagiarism software that will be good at catching this type of plagiarism, so don’t think that paraphrasing will avoid detection.) Reprinted from Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019), pp. 162–67. Edited for length. Reference: Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 2016. The Craft of Research. 4th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (1st ed. published in 1995.)
FBCW Faces Fed members out and about (and in) performing, writing, reading, teaching, celebrating.
Send your photos! firstname.lastname@example.org Clockwise from top left: Christina Myers launch at the Tiki Room at the Waldorf in East Vancouver, March 3—just in time: all of her other events were cancelled. Bill Engleson writing from home. Michelle Simms at the North Island Writers Conference in January. Happy writers at the same conference: Front Row: Blair McMillan, Leslie Cox, Yulia Aleynikova, Ella Buettner, Judy Brooks. Back Row: Astrid Egger, Jane Wild. Laura Sturgeon at Alberni Valley Words on Fire. Centre: Randy Fred and Nahlah Ayed at VIU’s “Indigenous Speakers Series” earlier this yea.
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Robert Auger Photo
Wendy Laura Belcher is a professor of African literature at Princeton University with a joint appointment in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Department of African American Studies. She is also the author of the best-seller Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Pat Buckna is an author and songwriter who self-published his family memoir Only Children (www.onlychildren.ca). He offers seminars and workshops on non-fiction and self-publishing performance, combining his music with excerpts from his memoir. A graduate of the Writer’s Studio at SFU, Pat worked with Stephen Osborne and Wayde Compton, attended Betsy Warland’s Manuscript Intensive and the Banff Wired Writing programs with Elizabeth Philips and Curtis Gillespie. Fern G.Z. Carr is a poet, former lawyer, and teacher. A member of the Federation of BC Writers and the League of Canadian Poets, she composes poetry in six languages including Mandarin. Fern has been published extensively
24 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
from Finland to Mauritius and is the author of Shards of Crystal (Silver Bow Publishing). One of Fern’s poems is currently in orbit around the planet Mars on NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. ferngzcarr.com. Chelsea Comeau is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in CV2, Room, Grain, Prairie Fire, and SubTerrain magazines. In 2019, she won first prize in the poetry category of the SubTerrain Lush Triumphant Literary Awards. Voted by Library Journal as one of the top five sci-fi/fantasy novelists of 2005, Janine Cross is the author of the internationally published The Dragon Temple Trilogy, and the literary novel The Footstop Café. She’s sold fiction and non-fiction to magazines, is a regular contributor to the Canadian Owners & Pilots Association magazine, and has taught workshops at writing festivals, conventions, and in secondary and elementary schools. Katherine Fawcett is a writer and music teacher living in Squamish, BC. Her first book, The Little Washer of
Sorrows (Thistledown, 2015), was a finalist for both a ReLit Award and The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her most recent book, The Swan Suit (Douglas & McIntyre, 2020), was released without fanfare. She is currently working on a novel about being trapped. An author, international playwright, and performer, Caitlin Hicks has had writing performed on CBC national radio and in two editions of Smith & Kraus’ series Best Women’s Stage Monologues (New York), as well as SheWrites (Playwrights Canada Press). Her play Singing the Bones debuted as a feature film at Montreal World Film Festival. She’s been published in Vancouver Sun, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle. A Theory of Expanded Love is her first novel. Sally Jennings enjoys helping writers polish a wide range of books. Many writers need particular help with self-publishing, so she formats books and advises authors how to proceed. She’s an English teacher and a writer. A long time ago she was born in England, grew up in Malaysia and New Zealand, headed back to Singapore, then England and Canada; lovely Victoria has been her home since 2005. A ski bum now living in Fernie BC, Keith Liggett’s has published in over 100 newspapers, major North American outdoor magazines and numerous literary magazines. Among his books are two collections of poetry and Island Lake Lodge: The Cookbook (Whitecap Books, 2009) which won a Gourmand Award. Cadence Mandybura is a writer and editor in Victoria, BC. Her fiction is in FreeFall, NōD, and Gathering Storm magazines, and her non-fiction in a range of publications, including Calgary’s now-defunct Fast Forward Weekly, WestJet’s in-flight magazine, and The New Indian Express. When she isn’t writing, you can
find her practising martial arts or playing Japanese taiko drums. Jennifer Manuel is the author of The Heaviness of Things That Float, winner of the 2017 Ethel Wilson Prize for Fiction. She published her first children’s novel, Dressed to Play, in 2019, and Photo by Nick Caumanns her second, Head to Head, will be out September 2020. She has mentored writers from around the world and her online course, “Reimagine the Page,” has helped hundreds of writers to deeply transform their manuscripts. Sarah Selecky is the author of Radiant Shimmering Light and This Cake Is for the Party, and the founder of the Sarah Selecky Writing School, est. 2011, which is now a creative community of more than 18,000 writers from around the world. She is alumna of Hedgebrook, the Humber School for Writers and The Banff Centre, and graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MFA in Creative Writing. Christine Smart is a poet and novelist currently living on Saltspring Island, BC. She has published two books of poetry: The White Crow and Decked and Dancing (winner of the Acorn Plantos People’s poet award in 2007). Her work has been performed at the Galiano Literary Festival, in Victoria, and on Saltspring Island, and it has appeared in the journals Grain, CV2, and Ars Medica. A freelance journalist and comedy writer based in Nanaimo, Rachelle Stein-Wotten has won awards for her creative non-fiction and screenwriting and enjoys writing about arts and environmental issues. Interview subjects have noted their appreciation for the care and interest in her subject matter that comes through in her writing. For story opportunities, contact her at email@example.com. Elisabeth Weigand discovered Canada on her many travels around the world. She moved right into the Yukon. Working in tourism as guide and outfitter, she found endless inspiration for her other passion: Writing. In her YukonWild Series Elisabeth shares the intoxication of her adventurous new life, surrounded by wilderness. She lives on a rural acreage with her horse and huskie, minutes away from the mighty Yukon River. 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 25
FICTION CONTEST 1st Prize: $1,000 + publication 2nd Prize: $250 + publication Deadline: March 8, 2020
CREATIVE NON-FICTION CONTEST 1st Prize: $500 + publication 2nd Prize: $250 + publication Deadline: June 1, 2020 Entry Fee: $35 CAD ($42 USD for International entries). Entry includes a one-year subscription to Room. Additional entries $7. Visit roommagazine. com/contests for more information on our contests and upcoming calls for submissions.
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POETRY CONTEST 1st Prize: $1,000 + publication 2nd Prize: $250 + publication Deadline: August 15, 2020
SHORT FORMS CONTEST 1st Prize: $500 + publication (two awarded) Deadline: November 1, 2020
COVER ART CONTEST 1st Prize: $500 + publication on a cover of Room 2nd Prize: $50 + publication Deadline: January 15, 2021
Launched! New titles by FBCW members City of Beasts
Robert Martens | Ekstasis Editions, 2019 | ISBN: 978-1-77171-346-7 | $23.95 How do we live together in a world debased by injustice and violence? Robert Martens’ book of poems, city of beasts, suggests that embracing transience, acceptance, and yes, love, can light a flame in the empire’s heart of darkness.
Lucky Jack Road
JG Toews | Mosaic Press, 2020 | ISBN: 9781771615082 | $24.95 Through poems that celebrate the overlooked beauty in the everyday or that mourn human incursions upon the natural world, Fiona Tinwei Lam weaves polythematic threads into a shimmering tapestry. Inspired by Pablo Neruda’s Odes to Common Things, this wide-ranging and diverse collection contains poems that range from the lyric to the concrete/visual in their exploration of the yin and yang of everyday existence while confronting the pressing environmental issues of our time. Ardent, despairing, playful or political, Lam brings a tender eloquence to her depictions of our flawed but glorious world.
Providence—Book One in the McBride Chronicles Series
Valerie Green | Sandra Jonas Publishing, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-733338639 | $24.99 This gripping family saga of passion, deception, triumph, and tragedy begins in the early 1850s in an English orphanage. It tells the story of a young woman (Jane Hopkins) who rises from poverty to opulence in British Columbia. It follows both her life and that of Gideon McBride, an adventurous Scotsman, who grows up in a poor fishing village and eventually becomes an established businessman in Victoria. With a background set in England, Scotland, post gold-rush days in San Francisco, and two British Columbia gold rushes, Jane and Gideon are destined to meet, fall in love, and begin the McBride family dynasty in Victoria, BC.
My Generation: A Memoir of the Baby Boom Nowick Gray | Cougar WebWorks, 2019 | ISBN: 978-1-706257-42-4 The generation who came of age in the sixties pursued visions of an ideal society that all too soon melted like wax wings. With his intensely personal memoir, Nowick Gray charts a unique yet representative journey through those tumultuous times, seeking alternatives to corporate conformity and the looming threat of apocalypse. His self-exile from East Coast suburbia spirals through campus rebellion, California dreaming, a testy Canadian romance, and an Inuit village preparing for its own revolution. After forty-five addresses, the narrator trades freedom for a self-chosen home, a land co-op in backwoods British Columbia, where the next generation can begin. 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 27
Traci Skuce | NeWest Press, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-988732-80-0 | $19.95 Hunger Moon is a collection of stories that echo with the yearning to be replenished. Here are characters at cusp-points in their lives, each attempting to shift their trajectories: to cease wrapping up their heart’s desire in a pink bubble and launching it into the universe. Some turn to ESP, some to a belief in ghosts, others to long, aimless road trips and magical thinking. Each character takes the hackneyed adage “Follow Your Bliss” a little too literally when they blissfully follow their own storyline. Emotionally charged, evocative, and lush, Hunger Moon’s thirteen short stories set out on profound quests to satisfy a deep spiritual hunger.
Endless Incarnation Sorrows—(You Live and Die and Repeat) Lucia Mann | Grassroots Publishing Group | ISBN: 978-0-9975677-3-1 | $15.95 Based on a true story: Do past lives influence your present? Could Mann’s physical marks be symbolic of ancient unsanctioned deeds? Lala suffers enslavement in a hostile desert because of her mother’s original sin. Lyveva braves abduction by Danish Vikings and emerges as a respected healer. Lucja endures barbarity and degeneracy in the toxic pit of Auschwitz. Through this multi-generational tale, Lucia Mann triggers you to ponder your own life. This book invites you to contemplate the concept of reincarnation and to consider how it may be affecting your own earthly journey.
Ian Kent | Tellwell, 2019 | ISBN: 978-0-2288-2131-1 | $20.00 Reaction is the action-packed second volume in the “Jake Prescott” trilogy. Jake and his crew are once again involved in an international race to learn more about an organization bent on eliminating scientists bearing the bad news about global warming. He discovers that an enemy from his past has teamed up with a clever scientist who devises deadly poisons to eliminate her enemies.
Whoopee, I’m a GRG! (Grandparent Raising Grandchildren) Joy Sheldon | Amazon, 2019 | ISBN: 9781098768300
Whoopee!? Has she finally lost it? Twenty humorous stories by a grandparent in her sixties who raised two mischievous tykes. This short anthology will have you rolling in the aisles. Titles such as: “Christmas Chaos” (in which the kids plug up the one-and-only toilet during a blizzard on Christmas Day) and “GRG Leisure, What Leisure?” highlight the vagaries and humour inherent in seniors parenting. She has now published two books on Amazon, her second is Santa and Bumble…a Children’s Christmas Fantasy. She is working on her third, “Cowichan Kid,” about growing up at Stratfords Crossing, North Cowichan, in the fifties.
Raven’s Lament, Book One, Stillwaters Runs Deep Frank Talaber | November, 2019 | ISBN: 9781458045287
Protesting the logging of an old-growth forest, an environmentalist fells a rare tree, unwittingly releasing…something…into our world. After his subsequent disappearance, reporter Brooke Grant looks for answers. During his investigation he finds the love of his life, only to lose her to, well, he doesn’t really know what. Brooke enlists the aid of his love’s intriguing and extraordinary shaman uncle to help save her. They don’t only have to save her, but save the world from being changed forever.
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The Big Ugly Sweater Laura Sturgeon | July, 2019 | ISBN: 978-0-2288-1440-5| $19.64 This is Laura Sturgeon’s first published junior fiction novel. It is a humorous and fun story about twelve-year-old Jodie, who throws away a gift she had just received for her birthday, because she was so disappointed that it wasn’t a new bike. Once finding out that the real present is in the pockets of the sweater, Jodie spends the next four days scouring the neighbourhood trying to get it back. She sees it, and almost has it, but then it is gone yet again. Young readers (and even adults) have been reading in anticipation to find out what ends up being found in the pockets. Is it as important as what Jodie thought all along? Can be found on Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and Chapters/Indigo.
Jerena Tobiasen | November, 2019 | ISBN: 978-1-77374-037-9 Miriam Kota is raised in post-war Amsterdam by her mother and grandmother, who live and work in the Red Light District. Miriam struggles with her identity, and rebels. Hart Lang is born into a family of soldiers whose wartime experiences drove their need to survive; a family bound together by enduring love. In Hart, Miriam sees an opportunity to change her life, and determines to provide him with an heir. Marriage confines her, and she contrives a means of escape, taking her young son with her. Her disappearance stuns Hart. Although his search for Matthew is relentless, he fears that he will never see the boy again. The Destiny is available through Amazon in print and e-book formats.
Through the Whirlpool—Swept Up in the Nazi Apocalypse Karl Koerber | March, 2019 | ISBN: 9781718958524 | $20.00
Karl Koerber’s biographical account of his parents’ journey through the Nazi years, the Second World War and, finally, their migration to Canada encapsulates the stories of many ordinary Germans whose lives were thrown into turmoil during the Nazi apocalypse. The momentous historical events of the times are mirrored in Hans and Sigrid’s stories as they watch the Nazis’ promise of prosperity and glory disintegrate into a nightmare of war and destruction. Koerber also grapples with the fact that many of his forebears were among the millions of Germans who looked to Hitler as the saviour of their nation, and yet were decent human beings, far from the Nazi stereotype of depravity and racism. More information available at karlkoerber.com.
BIG: Stories about Life in Plus-Sized Bodies
Christina Myers (ed.) | Caitlin Press, 2020 | ISBN: 9781773860213 | $24.95 Pop culture stereotypes, shopping frustrations, fat jokes, and misconceptions about health are all ways society systemically rejects large bodies. BIG is a collection of personal and intimate experiences of plus-sized women, non-binary, and trans people in a society obsessed with thinness. Revealing insights that are both funny and traumatic, surprising and challenging, familiar and unexpected, twenty-six writers explore themes as diverse as self perception, body image, fashion, fat activism, food, sexuality, diet culture, motherhood, and more. These stories invite readers to ask questions about—and ultimately reconsider—our collective and individual obsession with women’s bodies.
Nepal One Day at a Time
Patti Shales Lefkos | Loon Island Press | ISBN: 978-1-9992298-0-1 pb A Himalayan adventure travel memoir with a humanitarian twist, Nepal One Day at a Time tells the story of a woman whose life has come to an impasse. To establish independence within her marriage and face fears of aging brought on by the tragedies of loved ones, she sets off for the first time on her own. She volunteers at a remote village school and completes a month-long high altitude Himalayan trek. Framing her adventures are physical and emotional challenges, lessons in Nepali culture, and her quest to gain a deeper understanding of the people she encounters. Along the way she discovers a higher purpose: building a school to give back to the country she has come to love. pattishaleslefkos.com. 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 29
Kateri O’Leary and the Computer Mouse
Shirley Martin | December, 2019| ISBN: pb 978-0-9920615-2-4 e-book 978-0-9920615-3-1 When a fortune-teller predicts change, eleven-year-old Kateri is not surprised. She’s already grappling with a new home, a new school, and a bully named Clive. Then her pet mouse Murphy goes AWOL, creating school chaos. As Kateri struggles with a science project, Clive pushes her to the breaking point. What else could possibly go wrong?!? “In Shirley Martin’s playful hands, a diverse cast of characters and a sweetly mischievous plot are kept rolling with a runaway mouse leading to understanding and acceptance at last. A delightful and insightful story for eight- to twelve-year-olds.” Caroline Woodward, author of Singing Away the Rain, A West Coast Summer and other books for children and adults. www.shirleymartinwrites.com.
Scatter My Ashes in the Fields Up Top
Elisabeth Weigand | FriesenPress 2019 | ISBN: 978152554948 Elisabeth Weigand lovingly pens a heart-wrenching tribute to the life of Mabel Brewster (1935– 2015), whom she met upon her immigration to Canada’s Yukon Territory in 1993. Through a stunning retelling of her life in the remote north that is at once spellbinding, light-hearted, beautiful, and heartbreaking, the reader is transported to the last untamed frontier—where raw nature reigns supreme and true friendship never dies. An avid adventurer and survivalist who practises traditional forms of hunting, trapping, and gathering, Weigand has committed the past twenty years of her life to sharing her passions for the outdoors, nature, and animals with others as a professional wilderness tour guide. elisabethweigand.com.
Walking Across the Day
Donald Neil Simmers| Silver Bow Publishing, 2020 | ISBN: 9781774030677 (HTML) There is a rich history of place and time and the experience that years on this planet have given to the author. He has talked of early age, school, university, and drug abuse as well as the softer side of nature in the words he has shared with us. Ghosts of the past arise and fall and the pain of losing ones close to him. He has given his feeling and his voice to the new world that we are coming into, with all its violence and its sadness. He has been a judge and an on-going editor and poet through his life and brings this to the page.
kjmunro | Red Moon Press, 2019 | ISBN: 978-1-947271-36-4 | $20.00 kjmunro, editor of the popular Haiku Windows and Haiku Dialogue online collaborations, and a widely-recognized and oft-awarded poet, offers her first full-length collection of haiku in contractions. The multiple readings of the title is fully intended, and suggests not only the range of topics to be found here, but also the challenge of how to read each one. A compelling debut you won’t want to miss. Please email the author for purchase information (kjm.1560@ gmail.com).
One Man’s Rubbish
Peter H. Christopher | Amazon, 2019 | ISBN: 9781073336630 “One Man’s Rubbish offers unexpected twists that keep readers on their toes and engaged in a story that moves from Cuba to Athens, Cairo, London, Naples, and Troy in an intriguing quest for answers. Harry Yankle’s journeys for collecting junk to an engrossing mystery involves attempted murder, secret projects, and clever women. At once a thriller, a fictional exploration of a singular passion’s evolutionary process, and a saga for adventure, it will cross genres to appeal to fans of action stories, historical fiction, psychological evolution, and political intrigue. A rollicking good tale that’s hard to put down.” D. Donovan, Midwest Book Review. 30 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
On the Arts
Naomi Beth Wakan | Shanti Arts | 978-1-951651-09-1 (pb) 978-1-95165110-7 (e-book) | $25.00 With a strong creative streak and a passion for learning and writing, Naomi Beth Wakan has dabbled in many different art forms during her eighty-eight years. Her activities have led her to see art as the awareness of sensory action and reaction in the everyday. In other words, opportunities for making art are everywhere, and the possibilities for expressing oneself as an artist are endless. One’s very life is an art, if lived with awareness. In this collection of short essays, Wakan covers topics such as ikebana, photography, reading, film noir, domesticity, recycling, personal essay writing, solitude, and more. Available in Canada from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds Yvonne Blomer (ed.) | Caitlin Press, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-772860-22-0 | $22.95 “Stop. Slow down. Suspend time. Let your soul come to rest in this haunting book as you take a quiet journey to a watershed that someone cherishes. Sweet Water examines our relationship to water in all its forms by the best poets among us and powerfully reminds us of our dependence on this precious life force. A wonderful collection.” Maude Barlow.
Kim Goldberg | Caitlin Press, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-773860268 | $18.00 Devolution is Kim Goldberg’s eighth book and her personal act of extinction rebellion. The poems and fables span the Anthropocene, speaking to ecological unravelling, social confusion, private pilgrimage, urbanization, and wildness. Using absurdism, surrealism, and satire, Goldberg offers up businessmen who loft away as crows, a town that reshapes itself each night, a journey through caves so narrow we must become centipedes to pass. Goldberg’s canvas holds both the personal and the political at once, offering rich layers of meaning, but with a playfulness reminiscent of Calvino or Borges. Each imaginative narrative will haunt the reader long after the book has been put down.
The End of Me
John Gould | Freehand Books, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-988298-56-6 | $22.95 The End of Me is a set of sudden stories about the experience of mortality. A marooned astronaut bonds with a bereft cat; kids pelt a funeral procession with plums; a young girl ponders the brief brutality of her last life, and braces herself for the next one… “John Gould’s skill with the short form is miraculous in the way of bonsai, the grand made to bloom within the small. And who knew death could be wise, invigorating, playful—so richly alive?” Bill Gaston, author of Just Let Me Look at You.
Lost Lagoon/lost in thought
Betsy Warland | Caitlin Press, 2020 | ISBN: 978-1-7738-6025-1 After moving to Vancouver’s West End in 2014, The Human is drawn to a small body of water called Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park. Daytime visits, and encounters with a surprising array of wildlife, are quietly revelatory, but so are its midnight secrets, when The Human suddenly wakes up in the night to an owl’s hoots or geese startling in alarm at otters on the prowl. Drawn into an up-close relationship between wildlife and fast-paced urban living, Lost Lagoon/lost in thought questions the seemingly rigid boundaries between the urban and natural world. Woven through these keen observations of the lagoon’s present are voices from the past, such figures like Mohawk writer E. Pauline Johnson, who gave Lost Lagoon its name. 2020 Volume II ︱ WORDWORKS 31
Prompts A Way In
Adelia MacWilliam is an emerging poet who has been published in two anthologies, most recently Sweet Water: Poems for the Watershed (Caitlin Press, 2020) ed. Yvonne Blomer. She is a co-founder of Cascadia Poetics Lab (cascadiapoeticslab.ca) and runs the Red Tree Reading Series.
Betsy Warland’s new book, Lost Lagoon/lost in thought, is a collection of prose poems published by Caitlin Press. Manuscript editor, creative writer teacher, and Director of Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, she is the author of thirteen books. Please visit her at betsywarland.com.
ears ago, I flew from Vancouver into midnight’s bootblack until I could see Germany’s medieval villages from above. At two a.m., German time, I boarded a train below the Frankfurt airport that came into Munich at dawn. Surprisingly, not a word among the passengers. Just shuffling papers, clicks of briefcases as they prepared to disembark. Scent of warmed yeast and deodorant as they lined up in the aisle. The onism I felt as I watched them go, knowing I could never know anything of their lives, even as I was being dissolved like sugar into tea by hours of travelling against the passage of time. For the word onism, meaning the frustration of being stuck in just one body that inhabits one place at a time, I have to thank the online Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a compendium of words invented by John Koenig. Words like sonder, the realization that everyone has a story, possibly connected, but different from your own; koinophobia, the fear of living an ordinary life; or, one of my favourites because I imagine it has onomatopoeia, vellichor, the strange wistfulness of used bookstores, all give a name to emotions we may have experienced but didn’t yet have a word for. Which is similar to the gift that the best writing has always been for me. I suggest leafing through John Koenig’s unique dictionary, choosing a word and seeing what comes up for you. Whatever you write, you will have given shape to something previously inchoate.
32 WORDWORKS ︱ 2020 Volume II
created this prompt as a way to seek guidance from a compelling piece of our own writing that is frustrating us, is a promising piece that is falling flat; failing to lift off the page. Select prose or poetry that does not exceed one page (it can be an excerpt). It is important to not do this digitally. Place a hard copy of it in front of you. Sit with it a minute with total attention yet not reading it (sort of like speed dating without words). Then scan it quickly and circle three unrelated “random” words that grab your attention, jump off the page. They may irritate, pulse, repeat, overstate, contradict, disturb, surprise, mask, over-simplify or delight you. Now set a timer for two minutes. Without any agenda, free write into each word (one at a time) for two minutes each. Don’t pause between each two-minute write. Do not read what you just wrote. Proceed directly on to the next one and set the timer again. The more the writing seems unrelated, contradictory and/or surprising, the better. This exercise is based on my decades of observing that a prose or poetry narrative knows exactly where it is going; knows what it is and isn’t about. This exercise can get your attention as to where you have gone off course a bit. Typical causes are: same pacing; same proximity (all middle range); not trusting the reader, so explaining instead of evoking; and our own avoidance of peeling back what is driving (necessitating) the narrative.
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