WordWorks 2023 Vol. 3

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2023 Volume 3



Novella Prize

Commit these deadlines to memory


May 1, 2024 Far Horizons Award for Poetry | $1250



February 1, 2024 ENTRY FEE


One writer gets the prize

August 1, 2024 Constance Rooke Creative Nonfiction Prize | $1250 One winner takes all

November 1, 2024 Open Season Awards | $6000 Three writers split the winnings

malahatreview.ca malahat@uvic.ca

Letter from the editor Letter from the executive director Find your own way: Marketing for authors Support squad: Become a community cheerleader How to use website SEO as a writer

3 3 4

6 8

Embracing the open mic: Unlocking the power of live author performances 11

Baby steps to building your author persona


A three-step guide to event planning for writers 16 Developing and presenting workshops


Tiny worlds: A poetry experiment


Member milestones




The last word — with the Darling Axe


Breaking the singles barrier: Mastering the art of multi-book sales 12

Cover image: Stock photo illustration. Putting words on the page can feel like it should be enough. Shouting “read my words!” is a different challenge altogether. ­—Diana Skrepnyk 2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


THE FEDERATION OF BC WRITERS PO Box 3503, Courtenay, BC V9N 6Z8 www.bcwriters.ca hello@bcwriters.ca | wordworks@bcwriters.ca

EDITORIAL STAFF: Cadence Mandybura, Managing Editor Diana Skrepnyk, Graphic Designer Sheila Cameron, Meaghan Hackinen, Cindi Jackson, & Rachel Muller, Proofreaders Carrie Tomiye, Reader

Copyrights remain with the copyright holders. All other work © 2023 The Federation of BC Writers. All Rights Reserved.

WRITE FOR WORDWORKS: Visit our submissions page at bcwriters.ca/submit.

WordWorks is published by

ISSN: 0843-1329 WordWorks is provided three times per year to FBCW members and to selected markets. It is available on our website at bcwriters.ca and in libraries and schools across BC and the Yukon. FBCW Annual Membership Rates: Regular: $80 | Senior: $45 Youth/Students: $25 | Accessibility: $45 FBCW BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Greg Blanchette, Katherine Wagner, Suzanne Venuta, Wiley Wei-Chiun Ho, Craig Copland, Finnian Burnett, Genevieve Wynand, Kirsten Mah FBCW STAFF: Bryan Mortensen, Executive Director Cadence Mandybura, WordWorks Managing Editor Diana Skrepnyk, Design Director Meaghan Hackinen, Programming & Events Coordinator Rachel Muller, Community Engagement Associate Emma Turner & Jessica Cole, Executive Assistants FBCW AMBASSADOR: Christina Myers


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ADVERTISING: WordWorks advertises services and products of interest to writers. Contact meaghan@bcwriters.ca. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The Federation of British Columbia Writers functions on the unceded and ancestral territories of many Indigenous Peoples and cultures. As champions of language, we cherish the oral and written traditions of the Indigenous Peoples of this land. We commit to uplift the voices and stories of marginalized peoples and communities wherever we work. We celebrate submissions from underrepresented communities and are actively seeking contributions from writers of all races, genders, sexualities, abilities, neurodiversities, religions, socioeconomic statuses, or immigration statuses. We encourage submissions from both published and emerging writers. We believe our strength as a community is in the breadth of our stories. The FBCW gratefully acknowledges the support of the Province of BC, the BC Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada, and the Magazine Association of BC.

Letter from the editor


ost writers I know make a face when the topic of promotion comes up. We’d rather spend our time writing, and it can feel weird to market yourself. But as you’ll see throughout this issue, amplifying your work is about finding the tools and strategies that are right for you.

Start with Ariel Hudnall’s advice on developing a marketing plan that works for you, then learn how S. Yukimi MacIntyre developed an author persona and started putting herself out there as an emerging writer. Monica Miller provides a handy three-step guide to planning a book launch, the Darling Axe considers the return on investment of a book cover, and Gila Green offers tips on making the most of your live readings. You also have plenty to offer beyond your writing itself. Try developing a workshop with help from Suzanne Anderson, or tap into the sales potential of schools and book clubs by creating discussion guides with Ace Baker. Want people to find you online? Don’t miss Abby Pelaez’s article about website SEO. Finally, Christina Myers flips the script on promotion and explores how you can be a community cheerleader for your writer friends, and Anna Cavouras reflects on how a small poetry experiment led to a new way of thinking about what it means to share your work with the world. The more engaged and authentic you are with your marketing efforts—big or small—the easier the tasks become, and the joy of finding your readers makes the extra effort worth it. Here’s to making noise with your fine work. Cadence Mandybura Managing Editor

Letter from the executive director


ne of the most popular topics in the questions we receive at the Federation of BC Writers is marketing. It can feel like a slog to learn about all the steps we need to take, and we get the biggest groans when we mention that bring a salesperson has increasingly become part of the gig. It is not what many of us signed up for when we decided to take on our creative endeavours, but it is a part of our writing reality. We hear you. This fall, we are tackling these areas of conversation with a few initiatives, starting with our first Author Photo Day in September. On the heels of that event, this issue assembles writers across ages and backgrounds to speak to the big question of how we get heard as authors. This issue also aligns with our November Writing Intensive, which focuses on the question I have my first draft done, now what? Meaghan Hackinen, our programming associate, has cultivated a resourceful group of presenters to walk us through those next steps, including beta readers, sensitivity readers, editing, overcoming imposter syndrome, presenting your work like a pro, pre-publication visibility, and much more. You can register for that Writing Intensive now at bcwriters.ca/intensive. We have worked hard over the past few years to add more services and diversify our offerings for writers. We’ll host more Author Photo Days, have added a youth mentorship program, and there is more to come—all intended to help you be as successful as possible in a difficult field. We are so grateful for our members and community partners, and I am happy to announce that we have just passed 1,600 members. Without all of you, none of this work would be possible. Bryan Mortensen Executive Director

2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


Find your own way: Marketing for authors BY ARIEL HUDNALL


egardless of the type of books you write, or whether you bring them to market via a publisher or your own hand, there are two universal truths that seem to unify the authorial experience: a blank page is the hardest place to start, and marketing books is really challenging. In some ways, they are the same problem. Both require the author to conjure creativity, an audience, and a message that will resonate. But while a blank page is surmountable through the instincts and techniques authors hone in their ongoing practice, marketing adds two dimensions of complexity that many dread: finding that same audience in the real world, and promoting effectively to them. Google “marketing plans for authors” and you’ll see thousands of articles on the subject, all espousing their “foolproof” method to your first 1,000 sales (or other similar clickbaity promises). But in my last decade of supporting authors in marketing their books, I’ve come away with a very different, perhaps surprising philosophy: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Of course, this isn’t an allowance to skip marketing completely and let the cards fall where they may—rather, it is permission to focus only on the aspects of marketing where you find creativity and joy. Put more simply, this mindset allows space for you to market like you write: for you. YOUR MARKETING PLAN SHOULD BE SUSTAINABLE There’s a somewhat old adage in the writing community that however much time you put into writing, you should put an equal amount into marketing. However, life is never so simple. Your time may be divided in any multitude of ways, and


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be affected by other priorities in your professional and private life. When it comes to marketing plans, much like the creative process, authors need to work within the reality of their life for the longterm. For some, this means committing two hours a week to building their multi-channel platforms and newsletter; for others, it might mean thirty minutes prioritizing community engagement on a single social media channel, or committing to going to in-person literary events to build their network once a month. YOUR TACTICS NEED TO MAKE SENSE FOR YOU Similarly to committing the appropriate, sustainable amount of time to your marketing project, the methods you use in marketing should never take the “kitchen sink” approach. There are a plethora of opportunities authors can take advantage of, but generally, I have found that focusing on a maximum of three to four touchpoints is the ideal, due to time, energy, and resource constraints. Which tactics you use depend on a number of factors, including: • What tactics bring you genuine excitement or accelerate your creativity? • What tactics have you responded to in the past as a consumer? • Where do you learn about new books locally or in your genre? • Will this tactic require a lot of prep and effort— and will you have the time to execute it well? Let’s explore a scenario: I have a new young adult novel. By evaluating the genre alone, I know when it comes to social media, I don’t need to focus on LinkedIn, X (formerly Twitter), or Facebook—the majority of my audience simply isn’t there. However,

build up a social media following on LinkedIn, but I should have accounts and be active where readers and writers in my genre gather, including Instagram, TikTok, and Goodreads. Find and know the influencers in the places and formats that aren’t your strength: You may not know how to make catchy video content for TikTok, but because you are likely engaging with users who do (over a long period of time), you can lean on that community with targeted outreach. Just like asking for endorsements, community and influencer outreach is a critical part of any modern book marketing strategy.

while I know Instagram and TikTok are perfect for reaching my audience, I also know I’m not very good at creating video content. I could learn the ins and outs of video creation, but I know I don’t have the time to commit to this learning curve because my book is releasing in ninety days. That simply won’t be enough time to become proficient enough in a new skill while also building up my new follower base. These limitations immediately take TikTok off my list of content creation priorities. But will I abandon an entire channel of discovery I’ve designated a priority because I can’t make successful content there personally? Of course not—there are other options, as I’ll explain below. REMEMBER YOU AREN’T ALONE Marketing, at its core, is hard because it forces us into a place of vulnerability—especially with the people we know. You may be surrounded by friends in the writing community, or you may only have a couple close friends and family at your side. Your community may be local or online. You may have mentors, other authors you look up to, or social media users you’ve simply followed for a long time and admire. You may be venturing into an entirely new genre, and therefore have to start your networking from the ground up (in which case, make sure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to execute!). There is, unfortunately, no magic wand that will make establishing a community easy. Relationshipbuilding is an essential and often slow process, but there are a couple tips to consider. Build your community in a place that is easy to market in: Going back to that young adult novel, it would make little sense for me to

Seek out the supports you’ll need: You are not expected to be an expert in all things, and sometimes it is faster, more effective, and even more economical to hire helpers throughout your marketing journey. This could be someone to write social media copy in bulk, build databases for outreach, develop a full-scope marketing strategy, or run ad campaigns for you. FIND THE FUN IN IT I often liken marketing less to the door-to-door salesman and more to an energetic commute on transit. Despite the bustle, the different destinations and priorities of the people there, and the seeming anonymity of each individual, serendipitous and memorable connections can be made, whether people are speaking to each other or not. Ultimately, my advice is always to think about the kind of presence you want to have on that commute. How do you want people to feel and recall you once they’ve gotten off at their stop, and what marketing approach do you need to make that happen? The rest will take care of itself. Ariel Hudnall is the managing director of Zg Stories, Canada’s premiere book marketing agency for publishers and authors. She has supported hundreds of writers in developing book marketing plans and elevating their personal platforms, along with dozens of publishers across North America. When not at work, she can be found in the garden or enjoying a very strong cup of tea. arielhudnall.com

2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


Support squad: Become a community cheerleader BY CHRISTINA MYERS


s writers, we approach the concept of marketing with either enthusiasm or shyness, excitement or fear, boldness or hesitation—but almost always, no matter how we feel about it, as an individual project. We interpret promotion, for the most part, as self-promotion: how can I get my work in front of an audience? How can I get it in front of a bigger audience? How do I convince people to come to my reading or book launch? Most of all, how do I sell more books? Love it or hate it, these kinds of questions are a necessary part of the writerly life—and though many of us struggle with these tasks, no one should feel embarrassed in their pursuit of success in creative endeavours. It’s a necessity, plain and simple, and a challenge we each have to face in the course of our work. Luckily, we’re not alone in our efforts. We are all, in varying degrees, part of the larger writing community.


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Writing groups, workshops, seminars, festivals, along with literary organizations—like the Federation of BC Writers—are just a few of the ways that we participate in our own writing communities. A community can be the three friends who get together a few times a year for a writing session in a coffee shop; it can be hundreds of writers at an annual convention with whom you share a weekend of readings and seminars. We gather with others for many reasons: to teach, to learn, to share, to network, to make friends, to find and give support. As individual writers, we ask ourselves how to amplify our own work, but as a member of this wider community of writers, we should also be asking ourselves: how do I amplify the work of others? How do I support and lift up the writers around me? The answer? Become a community cheerleader.

When we announce our next book or win an award or have exciting news to share, we hope that our support squad will show up and cheer us on. In return, it’s imperative that we show up for others. There are countless ways to be a great supporter of your fellow writers—and the best part? Most of these things aren’t hard or time-consuming. And bonus: all that shyness you have about promoting yourself disappears when you’re boosting someone else. Suddenly it feels easy to shout good news from the rooftops. Here are a few ways you can be a good cheerleader: 1. Show up at events. Every writer fears that their readings, panels, or book launches will be poorly attended. There are few things as encouraging as looking out into an audience and There seeing familiar faces. 2. Share events. You can’t attend every single event (especially if they’re in person and you don’t live in the same community), but you can share event listings. In most cases, this is as simple as clicking “share” on a social media post.

7. Snap a selfie. Take a picture of yourself with another author’s work, or if you see it on a shelf in a bookstore or at the library. Share the images online and tag them. It doesn’t matter how long that work has been out in the world, it is always exciting to a writer to see it being put in a spotlight. 8. Recommend it. This might be the most important (and most invisible) way to offer support to the writers in your community. Recommend their books to people you know. Suggest it to your book club. When the topic of books come up, mention their latest title. The author will never know you did it, but it only took you a few seconds to help amplify their work. F

There are endless ways to be part of your community’s support squad and they don’t all include published books. are countless ways If you see a writing competition that might interest someone you to be a great supporter know, send it along to them. Spot a submission call that of your fellow writers— fits a theme you know is close and the best part? Most to another writer’s heart? Tell them about it. Help people find of these things aren’t each other: if you know a great hard or timeeditor and you know a writer looking for an editor, be a literary consuming. matchmaker and help them connect.

3. Write a review. Share your positive thoughts on Amazon, Indigo, and Goodreads. Haven’t read it yet and don’t know when you will? That’s just fine. Leave a “review” that includes your enthusiasm to read this title in the future, or a comment about the author’s other works. 4. “Like” their posts. Yep. That’s it. Just like it. Selfpromotion can feel like shouting into the void. When a writer sees people from their community engaging with their posts—even something as simple as hitting the “like” button—it’s encouraging.

5. Buy the book. If you’re planning to buy a fellow writer’s book, do it during the pre-order period if at all possible, or during the initial launch. Or, any time at all! Chat with the bookstore staff about the book—they love hearing what their customers are interested in. 6. Or don’t buy the book. That’s okay, too. No writer expects everyone to purchase a copy. Head over to your local library and borrow it. If it’s not available, put in a request for the library to purchase it.

When we support our community through cheerleading, we build connections, we learn, we find encouragement, and very often we make wonderful friends along the way. Writing is a uniquely solitary act—but being a writer can (and should) be a collective experience. Christina Myers is a writer, editor, and former journalist. Her novel The List of Last Chances (2021) was longlisted for the Leacock Medal. Her next book, Halfway Home: Thoughts from Midlife, a collection of essays, is forthcoming from House of Anansi. She is the Federation of BC Writers’ 2023 Ambassador.

2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


How to use website SEO as a writer BY ABBY PELAEZ


hen readers try to look up your name on the internet, are they finding your website?

With a seemingly limitless capacity for information to be uploaded to the World Wide Web, it’s easy for your website to get buried under similar listings on a results page. You need to make sure your target audience can sift through all the noise in a crowded space to find your work. That’s where SEO comes in. It will be your best friend when it comes to marketing your writing. Short for “search engine optimization,” SEO is the practice of streamlining all the words and web design in your website to align your key messages to your target audience. SEO benefits all creative writers who have an online presence for their work. It allows search engines to better determine what your website (and your work!) is about and to show it in response to relevant searches. SEO increases the likelihood that someone will visit your website by placing your website listing higher up on the search results page. When people look at a list of search results, very few click to the second page. Most people will stay on page 1 and scan the words in the website title and the website description before deciding which ones to click. Using SEO techniques will help your website land on the first page when your target audience searches for specific keywords. SEO also ensures that once your website does appear in the first page of a search results list, the title and the description are specific enough that your audience will be more likely to click it to read what your website is about.


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When readers look up search terms like “India in WWII war epic” or “poetry Jewish diaspora” or “queer YA novels,” or any other combination of topics and genres, they usually have a specific idea of what kind of content they’re looking for. By using SEO in your website to communicate the major genres of your work, you will make it easier for people who are not in your immediate circles to learn about your work’s existence. SEO is helpful for any author with an online presence. So, how do you improve your website’s SEO? Let’s start with keywords. SEO is about targeting your niche audience. You want to be as specific and straightforward as possible, unlike many forms of creative writing where the fun is in the meandering journey. Think about what search terms a person would use to search for work like yours; these will be the five to ten keywords or keyword phrases that you’ll use throughout your different webpages. Keywords are the individual words or phrases of two to four words that describe your work. A memoir about a Vietnam War refugee’s lifelong quest to plant rambutan trees in suburban Los Angeles could be described by search term keyword phrases like “Vietnamese Southern California diaspora,” “rambutan trees in America,” or “Vietnam War refugees legacy.” Then, incorporate those five to ten keyword phrases throughout the written copy that the audience sees on your web pages. It may be easier to think of keywords and keyword phrases if you are a fiction writer or memoir writer. Writers of poetry, genre-blending work, or work that defies the traditional conventions of format and subject matter may have to get

more creative about choosing keywords that position what exactly their work is all about. Think words like “genre-blending” or “autofiction.” An advanced technique for better SEO is to include your same keywords in your metadata. Metadata is the description of the content on your website that is only visible to the search engine. Metadata gets embedded in the HTML code of your website, and some website hosts like Squarespace offer easy, beginner-friendly ways to insert your keywords about your work into your website’s metadata. It will be a field called something like “SEO description,” “tags,” or “alt text,” where you type in keywords that describe what your work is about. Maintaining a blog on your website is also an important SEO step. Blogs were popular and personal in the 2000s, retro in the early and mid-2010s, and are now coming back to websites because they help maintain a loyal following and boost SEO. Your blog doesn’t always have to be words; it can include videos or static images. You can write about topics from your books or works in progress, topics about the craft of writing, or even about how your daily writing routine is going. You’ll want to make sure you’re still using the keywords you identified so that the search engine can list your website for people to see your other offerings, such as your writer bio or an e-commerce page of your books for sale. The faster a website runs, the higher it will rank in search engine results. If you have videos in your website (for example, interviews or video recordings of you giving a public reading), it helps your SEO to use an embedded YouTube video. This sets it up so

that YouTube hosts the video (not your website), but the video still plays within your website (not redirecting the audience to YouTube). Embedded videos (those where the file for the video is stored directly on your website) take up more digital file space, which makes your website load more slowly and thus makes it less likely to be presented near the top of a search engine. YouTube-embedded videos (where the file for the video is stored on YouTube) only load the video when someone clicks on it, which sheds a bit of loading time. Using YouTube instead of a different videosharing platform also takes advantage of the fact that Google search results prioritize YouTube videos to appear on the first page of results. Ultimately, SEO helps writers find targeted readers by making it easier for readers to find writers’ work. Remember, when it comes to SEO, straightforwardness and specificity is key (word)! Abby Pelaez writes about food, Filipino diaspora, and queer and platonic love from her home in Vancouver. She is published in the emerge 22 anthology by Simon Fraser University and has read her work at the 2022 Vancouver Writers Fest. Look for her work in Room Magazine and Hungry Zine. 2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


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wordworks | 2023 Volume 3

Embracing the open mic: Unlocking the power of live author performances BY GILA GREEN


n a world dominated by virtual meetings and online interactions, the allure of live performances may seem like a relic of the past. However, the magic of sharing stories in person should not be shelved in the age of Zoom. Live author performances have the potential to add emotional resonance to the readerauthor experience, creating a memorable connection.

In addition, be theatrical and get your visual cues on. Wear an article of clothing that corresponds with your book’s theme or protagonist. This will leave a strong impression on the audience and it communicates passion for your work. For example, if you write crime fiction, wear a detective’s long trench coat to set the mood.

The first step is to find a venue. Bookstores, book clubs, community centres, synagogues, and churches are all great ideas, or create your own setting. For example, I approached a make-your-own ceramics studio that attracted a lot of the customers I sought for one of my novels (mostly women, Jewish, and over forty). I approached the store owner with an idea: anyone who came to my author night would get a ten percent discount on any ceramic project, and I threw in catered cookies. I confess I got the idea from an invitation I received from another author colleague who invited people to her author night at a friend’s art gallery.

Next, consider leaving the audience something they can take home; hand out bookmarks or postcards with your book cover and website details. Be sure to leave time for a Q&A session.

Once your venue is set up, you need to focus on making the most of this opportunity, and that lies in selecting the perfect excerpt from your work to share with the audience. Choose something that resonates with the mood of the event. Consider the demographics of the audience and their interests. Start with your own book and take it from there. If it’s a thriller, read something gripping if that matches the atmosphere. On the other hand, choose something light for a humorous event. Injecting some music and/or incorporating props will make the most of your time on stage. You want people to remember you. For example, if you’re reading a historical novel, play a tune from that era before you begin. To avoid copyright issues, if you don’t play an instrument yourself, there are plenty of local musicians and DJs who would be happy to have their work included in a reading and receive the credit. If you’re reading fantasy, pass around an artifact related to your book or put it on display.

While a live performance is an amazing opportunity, think beyond the now. Film your reading and repost it on various platforms to extend your reach, leverage your reading, and boost your author profile. In conclusion, embrace live performances and remember that, for some, the emotional depth of live readings cannot be duplicated on a screen. Select a place that targets your demographic, choose your excerpt wisely, and throw in some creativity. Remember to record and share your reading while you benefit from the readerauthor experience the old-fashioned way. Gila Green is an Israelbased Canadian author of six novels (two forthcoming). Her books have been published in Canada, USA, and Australia. She is a college EFL lecturer, a freelance writer and editor, and a mom of five. Her two forthcoming novels, With a Good Eye and The Inheritance, will be published in Montreal. Visit Gila at gilagreenwrites.com. 2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


Breaking the singles barrier: Mastering the art of multi-book sales BY ACE BAKER


ou’re thrilled to see your book in print. You want to get one in the hands of as many people as possible. But have you thought of maybe selling sets of your books—five at a time, thirty at a time? It’s possible if you do a little extra writing: workbooks and book club guides. You want to give your readers more than value for money, so here are a few ways I’ve done just that for my short story collection, How to Make a Killing Jar.

“Seven Shadows,” my characters make use of poetry as therapy in a way. What do you think about the blend of poetry and prose in the telling of each tale? Effects?

By including a simple book club guide at the back of your publication, you can increase the odds of selling five or more books at a time. These could be book club members or libraries, who now buy some books in sets they can loan out to book clubs.

Remember what I said about giving readers value for money? The following appears at the end of my book club guide:

A discussion guide can be easy to write because you don’t need to get detailed. Leave it open-ended to promote discussion. My book has 12+1 stories (a Baker’s dozen by Ace Baker!), and because several of the stories are connected in different ways, I used pairings as an easy way to discuss them. For example: Poetry in the prose. In “The Killing Jar” and 12

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Simple, yes? Now realize that I have 12+1 questions in the reading guide, each pairing stories. For the question above, there are seven lyric poems worked into “The Killing Jar,” and one very in-your-face narrative poem in “Seven Shadows.” Plenty to comment on!

You’ve invested in my book. Let me offer you something in return. If you live in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland like I do, send me an invitation to the day you’ll meet to discuss some of the stories. I’ll do my best to crash your party. Is Zoom preferable or necessary because of where you live? I can do that too. Who knows? I might even have a little bonus to leave with you because of your kindness… a story that’s not in the collection.

Contact me at writeracebaker@gmail.com and we’ll take it from there… NO author does this … except me. And now, maybe you. Now, these tactics can help you sell handfuls of copies to book clubs and libraries—but how about selling thirty at a time? Teachers are busy people. I know that intimately because I am one. What can save teachers time and trouble? Lesson plans with activities they can use immediately. After books have been in a school awhile, those same lessons and same questions start to circulate. Students may even pass on their assignments and homework sibling to sibling, friend to friend. Well-known works have been written about and posted about endlessly on the internet. New material helps teachers. The problem? They now have to read that book and make assignments that go along with it. But you, the author, can do half of that for them.

All of that? For a single story? And there are 12+1 in the collection? The teacher will have plenty to choose from. Now that might sound like a daunting task—writing a workbook even longer than the book it’s about! But I completed work for one story per day, so in about two weeks, the workbook was complete, far ahead of publication day for the book. It’s worth the extra effort. Remember, teachers teach groups of thirty at a time—so they need class sets of books, not one. If their school orders more than that? Bonus! In our book room, most titles have more than one set (sixty-plus copies).

Another mind-blowing moment? I can teach and workshop ALL OF Remember, THAT. Remember the offer I made to book clubs? I can do the teachers teach same for teachers here. They groups of thirty at a have professional development days; I can meet up with them time—so they need class in person or virtually, and add sets of books, not one. extra income to my wallet for doing so. You can too. If their school orders

Prepare a workbook.

If you over-deliver, book buyers will have huge smiles on their faces, knowing they’ve made a smart purchase. Remember that it will be easier to sell to them next time; selling to an existing customer is always easier than finding a new one.

For my workbook for How to Make a Killing Jar, I thought of three groups who might be interested: teachers, writers, and readers, in that order. Teachers, for material. Writers, because of their interest in how the stories were crafted— initial ideas that led to the story and techniques used. Readers? Curiosity. As a writer, I can give a unique perspective, a look inside my brain.

One task remains—something I can do … for YOU. If you want to see what’s in my workbook, email me at writeracebaker@gmail.com and mention that you’ve read this article in WordWorks. I’ll send you a free copy of the complete workbook. Here’s hoping you’re inspired to develop materials that help you make those multi-book sales … and get your writing into the hands of more readers.

more than that? Bonus!

Imagine that in the workbook, for a single story, “My Singapore Garden,” I include a look inside the writer’s mind and how I use photos for idea generation; the essential questions I used to flesh out the story; an exercise on setting; a section about how Shirley Jackson and I use plants as inspiration, and an activity to go with it; another lesson on using “action dominoes” (plot, basically) to generate story; some Shakespeare connections; the big WHAT IF? that helps writers develop their stories; 12+1 subjects that common literary themes always tie into; and 12+1 questions for further thinking.

Ace Baker’s first collection of short stories, How to Make a Killing Jar, was released in August 2023 by Chicken House Press. It has been nominated for a Writers’ Trust Award. Most recently, you might have seen him presenting at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. 2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


Baby steps to building your author persona BY S. YUKIMI MACINTYRE


or many writers, self-promotion just ain’t their jam. Websites and newsletters, social media and podcasts, BookTok and … the list goes on. With so many places to be digitally present, it’s easy to pull out one of the myriad excuses to avoid building an author platform, but it’s best to stop overthinking and just do it—even if it’s only one thing. The reality is if you want to build credibility and visibility, you should be findable. Once the shiver has rolled off your spine and you’ve committed to creating a public presence, how do you decide where to begin? It can be overwhelming, but building your author persona and establishing a writerly presence is doable with baby steps. This is the approach I took in 2022 when I finally decided to put myself out there, along with some valuable advice from friend and kids’ lit author Emily Seo. You don’t have to do it all and certainly not all at once, but, as Emily emphasized to me, “do what feels manageable and begin there.” CHOOSE YOUR AUTHOR PERSONA First, let’s own the word, Writer. A writing mentor gave me this advice with alacrity and conviction, and I’ll admit it took me a long time to take it to heart. I’d long been hiding in the writer’s closet and had lots of validations along the way, so why did I feel fraudulent putting myself out there? I can’t tell you exactly what flipped the switch for me, but one day, I felt ready to don the mantle and began googling website domains. I was ready to be a Writer, as defined by myself, for myself. I chose a pseudonym and domain name based on the author persona that I wanted to inhabit. Much of my writing centres on the experience of


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mixed-race heritage, so it felt right for me to use my Japanese middle and Scottish last names as my domain name. I also wished for a clear separation of my writerly persona from my business persona, as I exist on the internet in a separate professional context. Writers might choose a pseudonym if they have a common name, or if they share a name with a celebrity, politician, or unsavoury character. You may also prefer anonymity if you write material you don’t want family, friends, or bosses reading. Should you choose a pen name, do some research first to make sure the domain and social handles are available. Ideally, you’ll want to have the same name across all platforms for consistency. SET UP YOUR AUTHOR WEBSITE Armed with your newly established website, it’s time to draw from your writerly persona to create content. You’re a wordsmith, and this is your site, so imbue it with personality. The essentials are simple: a succinct writing bio with a touch of something personal, a listing of any writing you’ve put out there (with links to any published works or bookseller sites), and how to connect with you. Your website is an information locus for your readers, and you can update it as your practice grows. Don’t limit yourself to words, either. Emily chose to have her website banner name spelled out using colourful, childlike letters to reflect her genre, while I chose to include an illustration of my novel’s protagonist instead of a personal photograph. PICK YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POISON For many, the thought of being on social media initiates a blast of cortisol. Emily’s advice for mitigating this is: “pick the platform you personally prefer and

is realistic for you to use.” She posts regularly to her Instagram account (@emilyseowrites) and while she has a Twitter/X account, she only uses it to stay on top of publishers, writers, and the industry instead of actively posting. I also prefer Instagram because I’m visually oriented, love posting photographs, and don’t find it arduous to engage with. TikTok is not for me because I end up doomscrolling, but consider your target market: Gen Z is all over TikTok and so are readers of young adult romance. Posting doesn’t have to sap your soul. A great suggestion from Emily is to book fifteen timed minutes in a day to post, retweet, or add to your stories as you see fit. Once the timer goes off, so does your engagement with socials for the day. Again, do what you can manage. I curate my Instagram content around three themes: my writing process; Japanese Canadian history, art, and culture; and shoutouts of books like my work in progress. I rotate between these themes and make sure to tag anyone I reference in my posts because, ideally, I want to have them follow me and even repost to their accounts to increase my exposure and build my network. Spend some time deciding what your messaging is and pull from your author persona to create your content. BUILD YOUR WRITERLY COMMUNITY Putting your writerly self out there requires a little creativity (which writers have in spades!). Every connection, whether fleeting or permanent, counts. Emily shared that putting yourself out there and saying “yes” to opportunities are important in forming relationships. “You never know what can

happen”—an action can have an impact later down the road. She’s been invited to present her books at Word Vancouver, Vancouver Writers Fest—Writers in the Classroom, FOLD Kids Book Fest in Toronto, and others. She’s also done interviews for both radio and television on the CBC and CityTV. It’s not just face-to-face networking you should be doing, it’s virtual networking, too. You can start small; ask your connections to share your posts or mention you. Make it easy for them by giving them a phrase, picture, or quote to use, and provide your social handle. Share others’ posts and encourage followers by using the hashtag #followback. There are no hard and fast rules for how to create and launch your writerly avatar. But do launch. Pick one thing to be your first baby step. It may require you to haul yourself from your writing cave, discard your pajamas, and arrange your hair (or not!), but all it takes is one connection to open a door. S. Yukimi MacIntyre is a writer of Japanese/ Scottish descent. She explores ancestry, folklore, and mixed-ness in her kids’ fiction and adult non-fiction; she’s also a marketing professional. A graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU, she was a long-time arts professional, which informs her folklorerelated writing. Find her on Instagram @yukimiwrites 2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


A three-step guide to event planning for writers BY MONICA MILLER


hether you’re launching your first book or have several to your name, events are likely going to be a key part of your promotional strategy. It’s a chance for you to celebrate with friends and family, and engage with new readers. But planning a bookish event doesn’t have to be a daunting task, nor does the event have to be a dull affair. STEP 1: PLANNING Step one is where you decide the who, what, where, and when of your event. You’ll want to start as early as possible; more time is always better, but four to five months is a common timeframe. You also want to make sure the event is publicly announced three to four weeks ahead of time to allow for promotion. When planning any public event, consider your audience. Think about who you will be inviting to the event and how they’re going to find out about it. The most successful events are ones where the author has existing contacts and networks to draw on. Andrée Bizier, owner of Windowseat Books in Nanaimo, emphasized, “the big thing


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is finding your community!” This is particularly important for any out-of-town events you plan. (Even under the best of circumstances, sometimes attendance is poor. This can happen to authors in any stage of their career, so go easy on yourself if it happens.) Figuring out these details is a lot easier if you have a vision for the event. Jackie Hoffart, the events coordinator for Massy Arts Society in Vancouver, says having “a clear sense of what the desired event format should be” will help you hold a successful event. (Tip: watch some literary events online and determine what you find engaging.) Including other components can also take some of the pressure off you, draw in a wider audience, and entice attendees. You could be the primary reader and have additional readers as openers‚ like a concert tour. Andrée agreed: “I try to add another element to events, such as music or a conversation between authors.” Sara Oremland, adult services librarian at the North Vancouver District Public Library, suggests planning events that seem special in

some way, such as a thematic panel of authors, or an event with a twist, such as their Brews and Books series that take place in a brewery.

conflicts, such as a culturally significant holiday, a long weekend, or a Pro-D day for schools.

With the venue, date, and time determined, have you figured out how attendees will get your book? If In this vein, think about venues and timing that are you’re not holding the event at a bookstore, suited to the type of event you’re planning. many booksellers can provide off-site Bookstores and libraries are the obvious sales. They will need plenty of time choice, but cafés, bars, and restaurants to order and receive stock, as well are also options. Some of the main Think about as pay for shipping and staff, so be factors to consider are: does the sure to communicate the event location have enough seating; is who you will be plan and expected attendance it convenient and welcoming for when you approach them. Or inviting to the event your target audience (parking, you can sell books directly transit, kid-friendly, food & and how they’re (check with your publisher drink availability, etc.); and are about this if you’re unsure). there any accessibility barriers? going to find out “Schedule events at optimal times for the demographic,” says Meghan Crowe, communications and events coordinator for the North Vancouver District Public Library. She suggests looking for any potential

To plan an accessible event, consult resources for how you can improve inclusivity, such as SPARC BC’s publication “Measuring Up: Accessible Public Event Guidelines” and the City of Vancouver’s “Accessible events checklist,” both available online.

about it.

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STEP 2: PROMOTION Event promotion is also about finding your community, as Andrée advised. Erin Dalton, owner and head bookmonger at Huckleberry Books in Cranbrook, confirms, “a successful event, especially for a lesser-known author, depends a lot on how much promotion they do and bringing out any contacts they have in the community.”

audience questions or a panel discussion, and don’t forget to include time for book sales and signing. Then, share the schedule with all readers, the host, and the venue. Second, prepare your script. Decide what you will be reading or saying and have it written down. Zoe Dickinson, a poet, bookseller at Russell Books, and an organizer of the Planet Earth Poetry series in Victoria, advises, “Don’t wing it. Figure out exactly what passages you are going to read, do some practice runs, and time yourself.”

A lot can be said about event promotion, but in short, be proactive, polite, and persistent. Ensure the information about your event is online in multiple locations such as your author website, social media, and community calendar listings. Create professional A lot can be and clear graphics to share said about event online (try Canva as a free design tool). And be sure to promotion, but in share the information with short, be proactive, the venue, bookseller, and other participants so they polite, and can promote the event too.


Invite all your friends, family, and even acquaintances. Use this opportunity to then go out for food or drinks after the event and catch up—an extra incentive to confirm their attendance. Ask everyone to bring a friend along. Consider also reaching out to local media (newspaper and radio in smaller communities can be a great driving force), as well as local groups and organizations. Sara noted that for many of the library’s events, they partner with other libraries, which “automatically means a broader audience,” and Meghan suggests authors “make use of their community networks such as literary, arts, and culture groups” (like your local library) to share the event with a wider network. STEP 3: PRESENTATION This is the easy part, right? Not so fast! You still need to prepare for the event itself. First, determine the run-of-show: schedule each part of the event and the time allotted. Include who will host or introduce you and any other readers (perhaps the bookstore manager) and who will be giving a land acknowledgement. Factor in


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People have short attention spans so breaking up your readings into shorter sections can help. Christina Myers, author, editor, FBCW ambassador, and co-host of the Words in the Burbs reading series, suggests you “keep it short and sweet and varied. An hour for most events is plenty, though leaving time at the end for social mingling is lovely.”

While you likely won’t need to read from your script verbatim, having at least the page numbers jotted down as well as a list of who you want to thank is useful. Finally, try to enjoy yourself! You’ve successfully written and published your book and launched it. Monica Miller (she/her) is a communications and publishing professional with a Master of Publishing from SFU. She has worked in various roles as a writer, editor, digital marketer, project manager, and designer, and is currently the marketing and publicity coordinator for Heritage House.

Are you our next Writer-in-Residence?

Applications now open for 2025-26 Apply by Jan. 10, 2024


2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


Developing and presenting workshops BY SUZANNE ANDERSON


or a non-fiction writer with a message, workshops are not only a great way to get your message out, but an opportunity to sell books. Workshops engage readers who want more information about a subject. I started presenting workshops soon after I wrote Self Publishing in Canada and now also give them for creative writing, memoir writing, and e-publishing. Although the most obvious application of workshops is for non-fiction, they can be a useful tool for other writers too. To be a published author, you should have developed the skills to write. Presenting a workshop about any aspect of fiction writing can appeal to a broad audience. Workshops for fiction writers and poets tend to teach writing skills or ways to generate new projects. Screenwriters can also develop workshops on script writing and how to get into the industry. Thousands of writers are looking for ways to develop skills in their chosen field. With the pandemic mostly over, we now have the option of presenting workshops in person again, which involves some logistical details you’ll want to keep in mind. With that said, while many of


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these tips are about in-person workshops, they can be applied to online workshops too. MAKING A LESSON PLAN There are two components you need to present a workshop—a lesson plan and presentation slides (using PowerPoint, Keynote, or Canva). I use a threecolumn format for my lesson plan. The first column is for Time, and I use it to pace my teaching points and keep on track. It is important to practise this before you finalize your workshop. Be prepared to make changes after your first presentation. The second column is called Teaching Points (TP). This is where I put the points that I want to cover in the lessons. It is broken into segments (TP 1, 2, etc.) and includes breaks. It follows the order of the slides. This is the main part of my lesson plan. In my self-publishing workshop I have a teaching point about editing and design, another one about what goes on the copyright page, and another for book formatting and printing.

The third column is for Notes, which are for me. I note when to distribute handouts and show samples of books. I also note any detail that I do not have in the Teaching Point. For example, I have written “new 13-digit numbers” about ISBN to remind me to explain it.

prices as a guideline for setting my price. Most venues split the fees, often a 60/40 split. Find out if you can be paid as a temporary employee or if you have to invoice them as a business. Either way you will receive a contract. Make sure to read the fine print before you sign it. And keep track of income for tax time.

Many people are visual learners, and slides are an important part of presenting a workshop. I follow the whole lesson plan to make sure my slides align with what I am teaching. Do not be sparing with slides, as they are one of the most important parts of your whole workshop. For example, my self-publishing workshop has sixty slides.


Set up your slides in point form to make it easier for your students to follow and take notes. I use stock images from my Word program for illustrations. The final slide has my social media and website information, which allows students to stay in touch or contact me. WHERE TO PRESENT WORKSHOPS After you develop your workshop, look for venues where you can present it. I have done workshops at community centres and post-secondary education institutions, including SFU, Camosun College, and VIU (Nanaimo Campus). They are always looking for interesting workshops to offer the general public. Community centres have recreation programs and this is where your workshop would fit in. Every season, they look for programs to offer. In my hometown I run workshops three times a year. So how long should your workshop be? I have found that for a “full day” I plan seven hours with two fifteen-minute breaks and a fortyfive-minute lunch break. Normally that means 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. If I get done a little early, people seem quite happy with that too. I have written short workshops from one to two hours for writers’ events, where they cannot give me a whole day. You have to compress your teaching material to what is most important. I put a lot of links in my slides and have handouts with relevant information. My memoir workshop is four hours with a twentyminute break in the middle. Sometimes people just do not want to sit through a long workshop. SETTING THE PRICE Sometimes venues set the price and sometimes you have to. My local community centre charges $70 for a one-day workshop, the town up the road charges $85, and SFU charges more than $150, so I use these

Before the workshop date, make sure you have everything organized. If you have handouts, email them to the venue a week in advance. When you set up the workshop with the venue, ask what equipment they have and what you should bring. I have my own laptop and projector, but most places now have either a projector or SmartTV. Check that your slides work properly. They are a key component of your presentation. Bring water, snacks, lunch if the workshop is all day, tissues, and hand lotion. Make sure your cell phone is charged and bring your charger. Bring an HDMI cord and the laptop cord. Plan to arrive at least thirty minutes before your start time to find the room and set up. Many of us have experienced the presenter reading their slides. Never do that. If you need to refer to your slides, look at your laptop screen. You want to be facing your students. Do not talk too fast and pause often to ask if there are any questions. Workshops can enhance your writing experience. If you have ever attended one and benefited from it, then you know what a great tool it can be for a writer. If you have knowledge to share with others, then consider developing a workshop. It is gratifying to help other authors along their writing journey. Suzanne Anderson is an author and publishing coach who helps writers navigate the world of independent publishing. She self-published her first book in 1997 and has written three more books since. Best known for the book Self Publishing in Canada, she conducts workshops throughout BC. Learn more at selfpublishing.ca. 2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


Tiny worlds: A poetry experiment BY ANNA CAVOURAS


t took only two days before my email ifoundapoem@ gmail.com pinged with a new message. I had spent the previous days stashing small envelopes with the words Open Me: A Poem Awaits around Salt Spring Island. They found their way onto community bulletin boards, were tacked on telephone poles, plus one I snuck onto the side of a dock. Several ended up in Little Free Libraries, one of my favourite inventions of all time.

and if that is a step too far, print out a business card with a few lines of writing on it to give out or even leave in the bathroom! For an anonymous act of public writing, you could write a few lines on the sidewalk in chalk, leave a small note in a library book, or write something on a rock and leave it at the beach. The poem I used for Tiny Worlds was written during The Poetry Marathon, another way to connect. Each participant agrees to post a poem every hour during the Marathon. In the days following, other poets who participated can view and comment, making it a creatively uplifting experience for all. Moving

Inside the envelope I included a poem and an invitation to let me know where the poem was found. When I began thinking about ways to amplify and promote our My heart fluttered as I sealed up away from work as writers, I thought the first envelope and snippets traditional publishing of the smallest step, a of the poem inside flashed connection with one person through my mind. Putting your options can feel through one poem in one work out there in any form empowering and can lead envelope. I fell in love with takes a special kind of writerly the idea of that intimacy, a courage. The good news is to some meaningful conversation with a stranger it is the same kind of courage that I might never meet. I that it took to put the words on connections. called it Tiny Worlds – A Poetry the page in the first place, clearly Experiment, and within a day I had something you already possess. my first email from another poet. Set your words free; I’ll be looking. There is a lot of talk, maybe even pressure, to submit your work to magazines, contests, and publishers, but the truth is you can publish your own work on a tiny scale of your own choosing. Moving away from traditional publishing options can feel empowering and can lead to some meaningful connections. At the time of this writing, I have met four new people through Tiny Worlds. What is a tiny step you might take as a writer? There are your own social media accounts, of course: a tiny ode to your morning coffee on your Instagram page, a favourite line from your work-in-progress as a tweet. There are workplace newsletters or letters to the editor in your local paper, and I have had great success with community bulletin boards and Little Free Libraries. Open mics are a great first step in reading in public, 22

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Anna Cavouras finds stories everywhere. Some appeared in Studio Magazine, Boneyard Soup, and with the League of Canadian Poets. She is a former writer-in-residence with Firefly Creative Writing. Currently, she is a judge with Reedsy Prompts, a devoted book reviewer, and an editorial assistant with Minerva Rising Press. She always carries her feminist agenda.

MEMBER milestones Micki Findlay is a contributing author in the powerful, new anthology Back The Way We Came by The Memory Keepers—a group of eleven seasoned women who share intimate stories from the perspective of time, distance, and hard-earned wisdom. Sally Quon and Michele Rule share the love of poetry through their bi-monthly haiku newsletter, The Solitary Daisy. Julie Wise (Okanagan) is pleased to announce the publication of “Tea and Turpentine”, a short memoir piece in The Best of CafeLit 12. The anthology is available in paperback, e-book, and Kindle formats through Amazon. Krystina Madej has recently submitted her manuscript “Representation of Disability in Children’s Video Games” to the book series Routledge Research in Disability and Media Studies.

Carolyn Walton was proud to be chosen as a Greater Victoria Public Library 2023 Emerging Local Author for her book Diary of a Mad Travel Writer. Jennie Tschoban’s memoir Tales & Lies My Baba Told Me was chosen for the August Book Club at the Gibsons Public Library. Elizabeth D. Glass self-published her debut novel When the Bough Breaks. The Peace Arch News Arts and Entertainment section helped the launch. Based on a family mystery, the book is available in various venues and Amazon with positive reviews. Višnja Milidragović recently completed a rewrite of her first book-length memoir-in-progress (!) and attended her first magazine launch as a featured contributor for untethered magazine’s 14th volume, reading an excerpt of “When It Fits.”

The Last Green Dragon—a middle-grade fantasy by Rud Verhagen—received a stellar review and a Highly Recommended from the Canadian Review of Materials.

Sally de la Rue Browne’s new trilogy The Fairy Hollow Chronicles provides inspirational stories to help children learn goal-setting, meeting challenges, the importance of friendship, and happy endings.

Christine Smart’s creative non-fiction piece called “River Rites” was accepted for publication in Grain’s 50th anniversary edition.

Reed Stirling’s The Palimpsest Murders is a European travel mystery and will be published with BWL Publishing in September 2023.

Sandy Cumberland has successfully completed a short story after a long and frustrating bout of writer’s block and has submitted it to the FBCW 2023 Literary Contests.

Caitlin Hicks is playing her character Annie Shea at the Sechelt Arts Festival on October 29, performing excerpts from her play Six Palm Trees and novels A Theory of Expanded Love and Kennedy Girl. 2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


Launched! New titles from FBCW members Purity Found: Based on a True Story Jane Catherine Rozek | October 2022 | 991991753 | $14.99 (paperback), $2.99 (e-book)

Heather Hendrie | February 2023 | 978-1-7388035-0-7 | $19.95

Kate is seduced by a backwoods community when she encounters Dave, a stern mountain man. A unique romance blossoms, yet he’s going off-grid to carve out a ranch in the wilderness!

Some awful moments become hilarious if shared. If you’ve ever peed your pants or gone on a bad date, you’ll relate. These untold tales of our times, shared by brave new writers, have the power to heal.

Noah King: Death Mountain

rhythm & rhyming spirit

Gerrit Verstraete | May 2023 | 9798392932474 | $25.73 (paperback), $6.69 (e-book) An ill-fated US Broken Arrow nuclear bomber, a highly contentious repository for nuclear waste in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, and the secret Wedge Mountain Project north of Squamish, BC, collide.


awfully hilarious: stories we never tell

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Lyn E. Ayre | Timbercrest Publishers | February 2023 | 978-1-989630-24-2 | $9.99 Poetry flows through me. I’ve been a vessel for it for decades. A writer’s job is to evoke emotion so that people have a touchstone—something to relate to, to remember in times of need, to focus on.

MOI: A Self-journey of One with BPD Kristine Boisvert | June 2023 | 978-1961486980 | $15 USD (paperback), $10 USD (e-book) Embark on a captivating and deeply personal journey through the turbulent and intricate landscapes of a mind touched by Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Inside the Dreaming Monica Nawrocki | June, 2023 | 978-1738806201 | $15.99 Magical realism and historical fiction meet in a YA page-turner featuring a teen learning the difference between strength and power in the midst of a white-knuckle ride through the dreamworld.

Frances Barkley: Eighteenthcentury Seafarer Cathy Converse | Heritage House | May 2023 | 978-1-77203-441-7 (paperback); 978-1-77203-442-2 (e-book) | $12.95 “Cathy Converse brings Frances Barkley’s eight-year global sea adventure to life ... A compelling story of love, determination, and adventure.” —Stephen R. Brown, award-winning author of The Company

Sunny and the Border Patrol + companion colouring book Maureen Young | FriesenPress | June 2023 | 978-1-03-916373-7; 978-103-918438-1 | $20.00 (main book), $10.00 (colouring book) Harrow and Arty are Jack Rabbit Hares and the newest border patrollers for the Eastside Warren. They set out on a mission to save their warren that tests their strength, determination, and friendship.

Dark Watchers Richard Stevenson | Dancing Unicorn, UK | July 2023 | 9781915692399 | $20 The latest in a series of poetry books on cryptid, ET, and Fortean lore for middle grade kids and adults. Quirky, upbeat spec lit poetry, illustrated by Nigel Jordan.

Back the Way We Came The Memory Keepers | Michael Terence Publishing | June 2023 | 978-1800945647 | $18 Eleven fearless women voice their untold stories. The Memory Keepers share intimate stories embodying the rich tapestry of struggles, emotions, and triumphs that define our lives.

Mending Mary Ann Moore | house of appleton | April 2023 | 978-0-9783474-2-0 | $20 With deep reverence for the people, places, and events of her life, Mary Ann Moore weaves together the remembered and imagined in her chapbook of poetry.

Sea-Washed Stones MJ Burrows | house of appleton | April 2023 | 978-0-9783474-4-4 | $20 The poet captures the raw beauty of coastal life with great care and attention. Each season observed and honoured in its myriad of textures, colours, and sounds. A meditation to life.

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Because Things Are Marlene Dean | house of appleton | April 2023 | 978-0-9783474-3-7 | $20 Because Things Are is a collection of poems about the mysteries of time and mortality.

Canterbury and Other Tales: Treading Ancient Trails Kim Letson | West Moon Publishing | October 2023 | 978-1-7772711-3-8 | $26.99 Join the author on a transformative odyssey as she redefines herself through walking ancient routes in the UK and Europe. Embark on pilgrimages of discovery, from natural splendours to historic marvels.

Stay Black & Die Addena Sumter-Freitag | North End Girl Productions | April 2023 | 978-0-9730644-4-5 | $16 A funny, moving, unsettling, and beautiful story of a girl who finds strength to survive cruelty from family and the outside world. Written with care and compassion for the people she represents.

My Life Is in Your Hand Deanna Barnhardt Kawatski | Gracesprings Collective | April 2023 | 978-1-7770858-4-1 | $29.95 In 2010 the author’s greatgrandmother, Sophia, came to her during a psychic reading and said, “If you let me I will guide your hand.” This novel is a wild Norse saga of a woman ahead of her time.

Burning Rubber: A Memoir of Travelling Wheelchairs in Asia Kathryn Larouche Imler | Tellwell | March 2023 | 978-0228888031 | $22.99 (paperback); $9.99 (e-book) Discover the story of a single mom and retired RN, diagnosed with ME/ CFS after taking a dying patient home to Myanmar. Plus other wheelchair adventures in Asia.

Uncontrolled Flight Frances Peck | NeWest Press | September 2023 | 9781774390757 | $24.95 A firefighting pilot dies in the BC Interior, leaving a traumatized colleague, a grieving widow, and a crash investigator to unravel what happened in Peck’s “impossible to put down” second novel.

Shifting Gears: Coast to Coast on the Trans Am Bike Race Meaghan Hackinen | NeWest Press | October 2023 | 978-1-77439-080-1 | $23.95 An adventure memoir of an unforgettable bike race. Join Hackinen as she braves Rocky Mountain highways, raging storms in the Plains, rollercoaster hills in the Appalachians— and everything in between.

The Fairy Hollow Gold Treasure Adventure Sally de la Rue Browne | First Choice Books | February 2023 | 9781777433123 | $19.99 Here we are on another adventure involving gold treasure, pirates, and a lost baby unicorn again. Will Rascal Alan find the treasure, or Bootlace Bill and his mates?


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She Who Burns Myrl Coulter | August 2023 | 978-1-03-916693-6 | $21.49

Emetophobia: Understanding and Treating Fear of Vomiting in Children and Adults

In this fast-paced saga, a family of mothers and daughters are deeply affected by the darkness of sexual assault, the bright light of fire, and the inheritance of a vintage deck of Tarot cards.

Anna S. Christie and Dr. David Russ | Jessica Kingsley (Hachette) | April 2023 | 9781839976575 | $54

Redemption: Port Russell Romance

This guide to the diagnosis and treatment of emetophobia provides an overview of current literature and research and incorporates case studies of different presentations. Uses CBT/ERP and ACT methods.

Keay Francis | September 2023 | 978-1-7387781-1-9 | $5.99 (e-book) A fake girlfriend was supposed to fix Justin’s image, but when he’s sucked into an old con with his father, he must choose what's more important—duty to his father or love.

Consider Susan McCaslin | Aeolus House | September 2023 | 9781987872545 | $20 Susan McCaslin’s Consider explores the figure of Jesus in relation to wisdom teachers and activists from diverse spiritual traditions. Her lyric and non-doctrinal poems connect earth with the cosmos.

Coincidences & Consequences Banu Tülümen | FriesenPress | July 2023 | 9781039174603 | $19.99 (paperback), $5.99 (e-book) In her debut novel, Coincidences & Consequences, Banu Tülümen tells the story of millions of women through the experiences of one woman whose life journey parallels her own.

Jigsaw—A Puzzle in Ninety-Three Pieces M.A.C. Farrant | Talon Books | September 2023 | 978-1772015430 | $19.95 M.A.C. Farrant’s new non-fiction work comprises ninety-three puzzle pieces that mimic the actual practice of assembling a jigsaw puzzle—whimsical, insightful, meditative, funny, and factual.

2023 Volume 3 | wordworks


the last word — WITH THE DARLING AXE



on’t judge a book by its cover? But of course, we all do. The cover is your book’s first impression, its visual handshake. With traditional publishing, authors often have little say in the cover. But in the indie world, you’ve got artistic freedom—as well as the challenge of getting it right on your own. In a recent Twitter/X post, we asked how much authors paid for their book cover. Fifty percent of respondents acted as their own designer, and many of them shared their final product. To be honest, the majority of these looked homemade. Meanwhile, 34% paid under $500, 13% paid between $500 and $1,000, and 3% paid more than $1,000. Naturally, the pricier covers looked more professional, but the expensive ones weren’t necessarily better than the midlist. The reason for our poll: we are soon coming out with a book on the craft of writing fiction, and since it’s finally ready for beta readers, we decided it was time to give our book a face. Our cover journey began on Fiverr, a platform where you can hire freelance designers. We opted for a minimalist design and chose a line drawing of a pillar and an axe to reflect our working title, The Two Pillars of Storytelling. The designer delivered an okay result, or so we thought, for about $50. When we shared our cover on Twitter, however, the feedback was less than favourable. The consensus? Redundant visuals, an unimpressive font and background, and a lacklustre title. This led to a significant revelation: as authors, we might not be natural-born designers.


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Humbled and enlightened, we approached the cover creation process anew. This time, we decided to let an experienced designer guide us. We turned to Reedsy, another freelancer platform where seasoned illustratordesigners flaunt gorgeous portfolios. Although we were in awe of their work, their unique styles didn’t exactly align with our vision, and the quotes we received (many around $1,000) had us considering other alternatives. Illustrator-designers should be paid well for their work, but an experienced non-illustrator designer can do great things with stock art, usually for a much lower price. We finally decided on a midrange designer with an excellent portfolio—and a price tag of $250. We came up with a new title (demoting The Two Pillars to subtitle) plus a handful of artwork and book covers we admired. Now we wait to find out what our designer will come up with, fingers crossed, and then we’ll take it back to the Twitter feedback loop. Our journey has reinforced a familiar lesson. Much like the iterative process of writing and revision, creating a book cover takes time and repeated attempts—and both processes thrive on feedback. It’s crucial to reach out to unbiased parties who won’t sugarcoat their opinions—and then not be afraid to make changes. Michelle Barker and David Brown are award-winning writers and senior editors at the Darling Axe, which offers narrative development, editing, and coaching. Learn more at darlingaxe.com.

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