11th Floor Writers

The guidelines we use to run our writing circle, The 11th Floor Writers, have been added to its website. I can’t believe that we’ve gone eight years. It helps that we follow a set routine: we meet the second Saturday of every month at the same venue, we rotate chairs, and everyone adheres to guideline expectations.

I’m currently working on my second novel, and continue to be grateful for the support and constructive feedback I get from this group.

Some online resources worth checking out:

A Workshop Guide for Creative Writing
A great place to start. The guide asks a series of questions we should be considering as we critique others’ work.

Tips for Revising Creative Nonfiction
The tips also apply for fiction writing.

15 Tips for Successful Writing Groups
A comprehensive guide with lots of useful suggestions and tips.

 

paper swan logo

Logo by Darcy Morgan

Logo by Darcy Morgan

Thanks to Darcy Morgan for creating this awesome logo for me. She embedded my initials (aykc) into parts of the paper swan (e.g., “A” makes up the beak, “Y” the neck).

I chose the paper swan because it captures the spirit of my protagonist, Mary, who is the “ugly duckling” that transforms into a swan. My novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety (formerly entitled Cornered),  will be released on May 3, 2016.

 

Editors and Writers

With Allyson Latta

With Allyson Latta

I was finally able to thank Allyson Latta in person when I met up with her last month. She was a guest speaker at a Markham high school where she spoke to students about her work as a freelance editor.  I was fortunate enough to work with Allyson on my first book which will be released early next year.

Allyson has worked with many prominent Canadian writers including two of my favourites, Marina Nemat and Lawrence Hill. Her website, full of guest posts, interviews, and all things that might interest any writer, is definitely worth checking out. Allyson also teaches memoir writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

sweetlandThanks to a quiet March Break, I was able to finish reading a couple of books. One novel I would highly recommend is Michael Crummey’s Sweetland. After visiting Newfoundland a few years ago and falling in love with that province, I couldn’t resist reading this book. Set in a remote island community, our protagonist Moses Sweetland, fakes his own death and stays behind after everyone else relocates.

For more information:

Michael Crummey’s Sweetland is like a song of mourning – a review by The Globe and Mail

Michael Crummey: How I wrote Sweetland – Canada Writes

 

David Adams Richards

With David Adams Richards at the IFOA

With David Adams Richards at the IFOA

I met up with David Adams Richards this weekend at the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) in Toronto. He was my mentor at The Humber School for Writers.

David is one of the most accomplished writers in Canada. I still can’t believe that I was lucky enough to work with him. At all times, he encouraged me to persevere. We completed the first draft of my novel in only thirty weeks!

David’s new book, Crimes Against My Brother, was released earlier this year (Doubleday Canada).

New book by David Adams Richards

New book by David Adams Richards

 

 

Memorable characters 2

charactersI love books where I feel connected with the main character, or when the character is someone whom I admire and want to root for. I recently saw Les Miserables again. Jean Valjean is an example of a character I both admire and feel tremendous sympathy for – a character almost impossible for me to forget.

There are several books and online resources that offer great advice, tips, and suggestions on how to create complex and compelling characters. One book title I’d like to pass along is Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters. It’s definitely worth checking out.  Schmidt looks at several archetypes, both heroic and villainous, to explore character traits and behaviours. Her examples of memorable characters from books, movies, and T.V. are especially helpful in shaping our understanding of classic archetypes.

Also worth checking out:

That time of year

One of the things I wanted to do during this holiday break was catch up on my reading. I have far more books than I could possibly get through in one calendar year. I keep buying them, intending to read them later. I also get a lot of books as gifts.

bookofOf the books I did get to this year, Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negros, was my favourite. It was published in 2007, and I wish I had gotten to it sooner! Hill’s protagonist, Aminata Diallo, who was abducted as a child from her village in West Africa and sold into slavery, continues to haunt me. The story had such an effect on me that I couldn’t pick up another book for two weeks.

I also thought Ins Choi’s play, Kim’s Convenience, was brilliant. The story hit close to home. Both Ins and I, although we have never met, immigrated to Canada in1975, and had families that worked in variety stores in downtown Toronto. I wrote about this play in an earlier blog.

Now that it is 2013, there are several lists of ‘the best books of 2012’ published everywhere. Here are a few to check out.

Writers who passed away in 2012

“Don’t talk about it; write.” – Bradbury, 1976

brown

I recently read a list of writers who passed away in 2012. Donald J. Sobol, writer of the Encyclopedia Brown series, passed away in July. Leroy, aka Encyclopedia Brown, is a boy detective who used his intelligence to solve neighbourhood mysteries. Some of my fondest childhood memories in Canada include going to the public library where I could escape into books – lots of them. Encyclopedia Brown was a favourite because solving whatever mystery that was thrown at both Encyclopedia and the reader, left me feeling both satisfied and smart.

wildAnother children’s favourite, Maurice Sendak, who wrote Where the Wild Things Are, passed away in May.

I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury’s work in high school. Fahrenheit 451 continues to be on many English class reading lists. His short stories also remain popular. Surprisingly, I only found out recently that there’s a prequel or rather a companion to Fa451hrenheit entitled, A Pleasure to Burn. Bradbury passed away in June.

For a list of writers who passed away this past year, click here.

For more Ray Bradbury quotes, click here.