Set in a classic style haunted house inhabited by dolls, fear, and other strange things, this poetry collection accompanied by full-colour art explores the self and a series of childhood horrors in an entwining of lyricism, dark fantasy, and disturbing imagery. The Crows of After was released on May 13, 2022
About Exsanguine Hart:
Exsanguine Hart is a scribbler with an obnoxiously pretentious pseudonym living somewhere in Canada with two cats and a number of dragons. Hart has been published in Poetry Pause (December 2021) and in nationalpoetrymonth.ca (April 2021), and can be found online, writing and doodling on Instagram @exsanguine_hart and @specimensandwitch
Where do you get your ideas?, writers are often asked. The final installment in this season’s members’ workshops, brought to us by our write-ln leader, MC Perron, grew from this question.
Why do we tell stories?, MC asked us, and we journeyed through several possible answers. We learn from stories. We remember things from stories. We find connections and shared interests. Stories make us relatable to each other.
Why do people ask where stories come from? Curiosity! They’re amazed, enthralled, and engaged. They want to know! It allows others to understand and demystify the process. It lets others realize that anyone can be creative and empowers their creativity. MC also gave us a list of items that affect creativity, causing the well to run dry. These are simple things we can all relate to, including sleep, nutrition, water, and stress. What helps keep the well full? Supportive people! MC took a moment to mention the write-ins because they are full of supportive people. Three times a week, you can meet with fellow writers who will encourage you through successes and difficulties. The write-ins and other scheduled writing times can become part of a working habit. You don’t have to wait for the muse to appear. Surround yourself with what will support your ideas.
MC took us on a journey through the creation of stories. It all starts with a spark that can come from anywhere. MC suggested children’s books (storytelling through pictures), personal experiences, courses, and libraries as sources of inspiration. (Libraries are very important.) Don’t limit your options, but also don’t fall prey to option paralysis. MC compared a story to a pearl, growing around a grain of sand, but what happens when we have too many crumbs? Writers can fall victim to searching for an idea and option paralysis.
The goal of MC’s workshop was to offer writers tools for creating their next story. MC gave us tools to not just start a story, but also unstick our writing. It was an enlightening and thoughtful evening.
What does a journey into the extraordinary mean to you?
A vacation in Hel, to hook-ups over caskets, getting lost in the abyss of memory, waking up to pirates, facing your humanity, and so much more…
Come see what it means to us.
Travel from the past to the future and into your own backyard with 27 won,derful Canadian writers. Built around the theme “from the ordinary to the extraordinary” the No Ordinary Day anthology includes a multitude of genres that explore the many subtleties of storytelling through poetry, flash fiction, and short tales.
Award winning novelist and short story writer Maria Mutch describes the nuance of story in her heartfelt foreword.
A great commute read or brief indulgence before bed.
Pick up your copy today!
About The WCYR:
The Writers’ Community of York Region connects writers of all levels from all genres, offering professional development through support, education & networking.
We welcome you to join our community of enthusiastic and talented individuals. Here you can discover more about our latest events, speakers, workshops and networking opportunities.
You’re not only one thing and your book doesn’t have to be either.
This past April, Alyx Harvey took us on a journey into genre blending. Genres are categories of artistic composition, as in music or literature, that have similarities in form, style, or subject matter. Examples of writing genres are fantasy, science-fiction, romance, and mystery. Sub-genres include dystopian fiction and cozy mystery.
What if a story isn’t just a mystery? What if there is a romance that circles the heart of the mystery plot? What if magic lives in the world of ranches and cowboys? What if there’s a murder on a space station? That’s when a writer might need to blend.
Alyx reminded us not let genre rules hold us back. The story always comes first. Genre might be a map for readers to find your books, but it was not created by writers or readers. It’s a modern construct. It’s a set of rules and creative rules are meant to be broken. However, when a read enters into the genre of story, there are certain expectations. There is comfort in a reader picking up a romance novel expecting a happy ending. There is comfort in the sweeping world-building and magic of a fantasy novel. These expectations, or tropes, are not inherently bad. They can be badly done, but they can also add to the story. They can help the reader invest in the journey.
Above all, enjoy what you’re writing. Blend genres that you like and respect, genres that serve the story.
Critter wrangler rule #15: Always look a gift horse in the mouth. And if it has sharp teeth, never, never get on its back.
For ten years, Kyra Greene thought she was the only Valkyrie this side of the rainbow bridge. Until she gets a stunning message from her cousin, Gunora, asking for bail money.
Facing the ghosts of her past isn’t on Kyra’s to-do list. All she wants is to settle into her new home with Mason and her menagerie of furred, feathered and scaled rescues. But the many gods of Terra have other plans.
Gunora’s plea for help sets a new Inbetween adventure in motion. Kyra and her crew will find themselves on the wrong side of the law and going to war with a herd of murderous kelpies. But this time, Kyra might finally set past wrongs to right.
Kelpies Don’t Fly is Book 5 of the Valkyrie Bestiary Series. It was released on March 15, 2022.
A bit about Kim:
If Kim McDougall could have one magical superpower, it would be to talk to animals. Or maybe to shift into animal form. Definitely, fantastical critters and magic often feature in her stories. So until Kim can change into a griffin and fly away, she writes dark paranormal action and romance tales from her home in Ontario, Canada. Visit www.KimMcDougall.com for more information about Kim’s books and to join her reading group.
Adopted by a family in Vancouver as a Vietnam War orphan, Dannie Cooper dreams of finding her biological parents. Days after 9/11, she receives an email from a Vietnam veteran in Port Angeles, Washington, who claims to be her father. With the lure of a genetic father overwhelming, Dannie drops everything to go in search of him in an America reeling from a terrorist attack and on the brink of a new, undefined war. There she finds Bruce Huckman, a stoic ex-logger dying from cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Dannie wants to believe Bruce is her father and stays to help nurse him, even if her family back home is unconvinced of Bruce’s legitimacy. When she falls in love with Ryan, a local man who wants to enlist for Afghanistan, Dannie finds herself caught between the legacy of the Vietnam War and the possibility of a new war destroying someone she loves. Straightforward, honest and intimate, The Strait of Anian is a compelling tale of personal discovery that reveals that being a daughter has nothing to do with one’s DNA.
Rhonda Waterfall is a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at Simon Fraser University. Along with a short story collection entitled The Only Thing I Have, she has had fiction and non-fiction published in several literary journals such as Geist, Room, and Grain. Rhonda was born in Ocean Falls on the west coast of Canada and currently resides in Markham. The Strait of Anian, is her first novel.
Snatched from her private jet, crime-boss Fidelia Morales barely escapes with her life. Now she wants revenge. But her gang of criminals is thrown into chaos as dozens of key operatives suddenly disappear.
Howard Knight—Fidelia’s former lover and accomplice in her latest heist—walks free from the same plane only to flee in a desperate quest to escape The Organization. He too is hounded by menacing encounters.
Both become entangled with massive Multima Corporation led by Suzanne Simpson. Amid a global pandemic, this powerful CEO scrambles to fill crucial executive roles while dealing with bizarre threats and mysterious interferences on three continents. All seem connected and threaten her empire.
With breath-taking reach and bewildering influence, is it possible an unseen and elusive Shadow can pull strings to manipulate people, companies, criminal organizations, and governments?
For his fifth suspense novel, A Web of Deceit, Gary D. McGugan recently received a Gold medallion for the Mystery/Thriller category in the Reader Views 2021-22 Literary awards. His first novel, Three Weeks Less a Day, was published in 2016 after a 40-year career in the world of business. The Multima Scheme, Unrelenting Peril, and Pernicious Pursuit quickly followed. Gary thinks of himself as a citizen of the world and his love of travel—with extensive experiences around the globe—are evident in every chapter of his books.
Gary has been a member of the Writers’ Community of York Region since 2017 and currently serves on its board of directors as co-chair.
The Conned Lady is the fifth and final novel in the Wild Blue Mystery series. Eccentric romance novelist Mimsy Lexington has a secret. When she approaches Katie Mullins to help find details around her late husband’s death, Katie and her boyfriend, Danny Walker. are drawn into a web of lies and deceit. The deeper they dig, the more they realize the biggest dangers may lurk close to home and need to suspect everyone—including Mimsy. The Conned Lady was released on February 28, 2022.
Diane Bator is a certified book coach and the author of over a dozen mystery novels in four different series. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime Toronto, the Writers Union of Canada, and a board member of Crime Writers of Canada. When she’s not writing and coaching other authors, she works for a professional theatre. No surprise she’s trying her hand at writing a play and was fortunate to take a virtual playwriting workshop with Norm Foster.
A university student discovers documents hidden behind a dorm wall and is catapulted into a cold case that turns up the heat.
Lexie’s just trying to get through midterms, and a drunken roomie isn’t helping her catch up on beauty sleep. Her freshman year at U of G is turning out a lot like her year of college – useless. Lexie doesn’t know what to do with herself until she discovers a dead girl’s hidden dissertation.
David’s desperate to join the force. It’s the only thing he’s ever wanted to do. Problem is he can’t pass the entrance tests, so for bonus points on his resume he volunteers with the university’s SafeWalk program.
David inadvertently gets caught up in Lexie’s mission to uncover the mystery of the dead girl’s missing thesis. Someone doesn’t want the dead to talk. Can David help keep Lexi safe or will they both risk their hearts and their lives for tainted justice?
A sweet romantic suspense with a hint of spice. Pick up a copy today!
Lost Words was released on February 14, 2022.
Imagine procrastination and stubborn perseverance getting together and procreating – that would be what M.J. faces when she looks in the mirror every day. Her stubborn mind-set has gotten her into trouble more often than she’d care to admit. However, that spunk and tenacity shine in her eyes when you speak with her, and it carries in the excitement of her voice.
At a young age, M.J.’s love of reading and writing drew her to adventure books of all genera. While she currently enjoys writing science fiction, fantasy, and romantic suspense, her focus is more on the internal journey her characters make as they learn about themselves and face their darkest fears. This might take place on another planet, on a university campus, or in a magical realm; but there’s always that touch of adventure to lend a dash of spice to her work.
Conjure in your mind an image of a lush, virgin forest rich in biodiversity and you have in your possession a powerful and endlessly adaptable metaphor for where your characters go to change. In his WCYR presentation, writer Paul Coccia discussed the concept of the Green World and its counterpart, the Old World, as these pertain to literature, explaining that the renowned literary critic Northrop Frye first conceived these ideas. The Green World is characterized by freedom and the capacity for renewal. In the Green World, a character finds the space and opportunity to have wishes and needs fulfilled. Conversely, the Old World is about oppression and staleness: think old school parents who keep you perpetually grounded.
What’s most fascinating and important for the writer is the Green World can be anything. For Dorothy, Oz; for Harry Potter, Hogwarts; for Thelma and Louise, a road trip; for Julia Child, France. The Green World may be art or music or an internal notion that enables a new path or a person who gives someone else the gift of seeing themselves as more than they think they are. The Green World can even be winter, as long as there is promise for the character to dream and to be transformed.
As appealing as the Green World is, it is not Shangri-La. The writer should pay close attention to pitfalls when considering it for character or plot. For instance, danger and high stakes abound in the Green World. Tragic characters destined for demise, such as Romeo and Juliet, are not intended to be redeemed.
As tempting as it might be to create a Green World and simply leave our characters there (or ourselves for that matter), its purpose as a literary device is to serve as a catalyst for change and to have the story’s characters return to the real world, with all its foibles, so they can live reinforced by what was gained. Paul explained that staying in the Green World too long can be deadly (think of the call to behead Alice during Alice in Wonderland’s tea party), and that the Old World can destroy the Green World (for example, the sensuous Kit Kat Club in the movie Cabaret is destroyed by Nazism). Also, magical beings like fairies will always be of the Green World and are never intended to cross the divide to reality because the forest is their only home.
The concept of the Green World invites us to think archetypally: what might our hero and other characters want and need? What milieu can we construct that will allow them to transform? The Green World is one world among many that is within a writer’s purview to create.
Finally, Paul made recommendations that will enhance your own Green World kit:
Use lists to keep track of issues and topics when deciding which characters will do well and when.
Consider what characters take with them into the Green World and what they leave with.
Read widely outside of your preferred genres, as we tend to revert to our strengths.
Substitute “writing exercises” (Old World) for “experiments” (Green World) to embrace the invitational and alive quality it represents.
Get uncomfortable and fail big!
These are some books Paul mentioned that embody the concept of Green World you might want to check out:
On the Line by Paul Coccia and Eric Walters
Cub by Paul Cocker
The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith
Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman
Unravel by Sharon Jennings
He Who Dreams by Melanie Florence
In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natasha Deen
My Life in France by Alex Prud’homme and Julia Child
Akosua (Jackie) Brown, founder of What’s Your Story Author Services (formerly Jackie Brown Books) kicked off 2022 by presenting to the WCYR about the role a book coach plays at any stage along a writer’s publishing journey. Akosua is the author of several best-selling books and has helped many authors achieve the same level of success in a variety of genres. Akosua pointed out the many advantages of having a coach, including accountability and emotional support. Many writers work for years on projects that they never finish. Whether a writer is a pantser or plotter, benefits can be derived from developing an overall blueprint for the project at hand. Engaging the services of a book coach is not inexpensive, however it must be seen as an investment in the finished work. There is a range of services that a writer can choose from when working with Akosua including group sessions. She shared examples of situations she has encountered while coaching authors with various needs and how success was achieved. This helped us understand how writers might benefit from a BFF — a biggest fan — along for the ride.
A program called Author Accelerator trains book coaches and matches writers with the right coach for them. Book coaches usually have connections with other professionals such as editors, illustrators, and marketing specialists that can assist writers.
Akosua finished her presentation by sharing information about how to become a coach for other writers. There is a market for book coaches as there are so many writers searching for this level of support. In order to do so, you must love to spend time with writers and be comfortable with the writing process. You must love to read, since you will be reading versions of your clients’ projects multiple times before they are polished and ready to publish. Akosua thoroughly enjoys working “side by side one page at a time” with each of her clients. She also makes sure to put some time aside for her own writing. Akosua is active on social media, often promoting books written by her clients. You can find her at:
WCYR ushered 2021 out in style. While we could not gather IRL (in real life), virtual party-goers grabbed our hot beverages of choice and took to the Zoom room on December 5th. Many of us enjoy socializing between writing sprints during our weekly WCDR and WCYR write-in sessions and spending time together at our events and training sessions. During the virtual social, we wrote and played together. We started with a short line-by-line collaborative story-writing adventure. We then enjoyed friendly competition when Maaja Wentz facilitated Kahoot games for us. Roderick Turner took us through two writing exercises — we brainstormed lists of words and phrases related to a winter theme, and wrote a short piece using some techniques he taught us — which were both fun and educational. We shared our writing with each other and received helpful feedback. We left the session full of energy and enthusiasm about the writing year ahead. We are hopeful that we will be able to gather in person for the 2022 social, but even if we can’t, the year ahead will without a doubt bring more fun and fellowship within our strong writing community. Happy New Year to all of our writerly friends.
Fate, misfortune and opportunity entangle three rivals in a quick-paced suspense thriller.
Without warning, Multima Corporation’s CEO Suzanne Simpson must fend off accusations of corporate money laundering on two continents at the same time a global pandemic wreaks havoc on Multima Supermarkets. She’s bewildered by the accusations and haunted by information her arrest was driven by someone close to the American White House.
At the same time, a former director of Multima’s board—Howard Knight—flees from the Caribbean to Asia, trying desperately to elude both an Interpol Red Notice and a dangerous criminal outfit called The Organization.
Fidelia Morales is a former lover of the wayward director who weaves a web of deceit that entangles them all as she stakes her role as head of a powerful criminal element on an outrageous cyber scheme to steal millions from banks and corporations around the globe.
A Web of Deceit portrays how easily people and companies become entrapped by powerful criminal elements and how despairingly difficult it is to escape.
Writing started after a career in the world of business. I’ve worked in supermarkets, sold appliances, distributed motorcycles, launched an automobile dealer network, and provided financing to help businesses grow. Every industry was different from the other. Each company had a distinctive culture and character, but all were units of large corporations with operations around the globe.
Travel was a large component of my business roles, and I’ve visited more than 650 towns and cities in more than fifty countries. Experts say we should write about things we know best. For me, that’s business, travel, and people. My goal now is to entertain readers around the world — one at a time.
It’s unique for a person to be the first member of the Editors’ Association of Canada. According to Greg Ioannou, the key to this distinction was his participation in a 1979 meeting to create the association and become its first director of membership. This inside scoop was one tiny bit of information Greg shared with an enthusiastic crowd of WCYR members and guests at the November Zoom event.
Folks found it interesting that he has edited more than 2,000 works since starting his editing career in 1977, including books for Margaret Atwood, Peter Gzowski and Robertson Davies. Of course, he’s also a successful author and a publisher, so his audience required no prompting to pay attention and benefit from his years of experience and acquired wisdom about all things “writing.”
As expected, he shared his views on four different types of editing and the purposes they serve:
Substantive Editing (getting the overall structure, content, and flow right)
Line Editing (style and accuracy)
Copy Editing (polishing the prose and consistency)
Proofreading (catching the small details as a final step)
For an hour, Greg shared tricks to help every writer edit better by asking questions that ranged from:
“Is the document aimed at a clearly defined readership, and will it meet the demands and needs of that readership?”
“Despite the brilliant writing, does the author actually resolve the plot?”
He used examples from mysteries to erotic thrillers, unintentional humor, and the 70-page description of a party in Lord of the Rings to demonstrate what editors look for and what writers should remember as they craft their work.
Participants enjoyed his focus on approaching a story like a movie script, using dialog to tell the tale. Greg encouraged us to assess prized characters to see if they are really needed and serve the intended purpose. He also emphasized the importance of research, attention to subtle details (the colour of the lights on a Vancouver snowplow), and making each character’s voice distinctive and distinguishable from others.
This WCYR event came at a perfect time for me. This month is round three of editing for my next suspense thriller. For a good number of participants, the end of NaNoWriMo will be the start of another deep dive into editing. For all of us, the session underscored why many people believe the fundamental difference between a good story and an excellent product is the quality of editing—and a writer’s embrace of the suggestions put forward!
As an academic and technical writer and poet, a conference focused on fiction was exactly what this first-time attendee, first time blogger, and all-round fiction-writer-wannabe needed.
“The space that exists between the published and unpublished writers among us is not a gaping, yawning, unbridgeable chasm … sometimes all that separates the published from the unpublished is a very, very thin, blurry, permeable, gossamer line.” Thank you, Terry Fallis for the inspiration. With his opening address at this year’s York Writers Conference, Terry set the tone for the entire proceedings. Not only did he establish that we are all writers, regardless of where we are in our journey, Terry vowed that to be a writer, we simply need to write. And where best to learn how to hone those writing skills than at a writing conference.
After an evening of party games and “scholarly” discussion on writing, we started the morning with an engaging session about character building. Sacha Black’s presentation on “Villains & Heroes” reminded us that villains and heroes have both good and bad in them, and writing about this duality makes our characters come alive and become more loved by our readers. Using examples from literature, Sacha showed us how characters play off against each other to create the conflict that keeps our readers engaged and our fans wanting more.
Next on the agenda was Rob Firing, from the Transatlantic Agency, to discuss “Agents and Publishers.” In his talk, Rob explained what agents do and why we need them, how agents are paid, and how a book deal is made. Rob’s presentation was a definite eye opener for anyone interested in getting their book published in a traditional manner.
Our keynote speaker, Andrew Pyper, spoke of the “f word”: failure. Everyone experiences failure, even award-winning authors. Wherever we are on the writing journey, it is “not only important to endure failure but to look forward to more.” Failure is how we become better writers. Andrew spoke of the excitement of planning out a book and asking “what if she does this.” Although it can be overwhelming to “fix” a finished novel, it is all worth it in the end.
Michelle Fox’s talk on “Digital Marketing” provided many tips and tricks related to marketing, software, apps, and promotion. Not only did Michelle speak about paid advertisements, she highlighted the benefits of and approaches to cross-promotion.
The final workshop of the day was provided by Maria Mutch, who led a session about short stories. Using an interactive approach, Maria began by talking about what makes a good story and then tested our powers of observation by showing us a picture of a space alien holding up a sign. After a discussion about the characteristics of a good story, we looked at the picture again. Next, we explored potential problems with short stories, followed by more examination of the alien picture. Each time we looked at the illustration and wrote about what we saw, the story became more well-defined.
An Open Mic Night concluded the day, giving us a taste of a screenplay, poetry, and stories. There were definitely lots of talented people attending the conference.
The conference was exactly what I needed to motivate me to get words on paper and tell the story that only I can tell. I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but as the words flow from my pen and characters dance before my eyes, I know that I will follow the journey of many that have come before me. Because I am a writer.