Are You Writing this November?

National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo is fast approaching. In this month-long goal to write 50,000 words, word-crafters across the world unite.

Here at the WCYR we like to celebrate with our own Mini-NaNo.

What’s that, you may ask?

Well, whether your plan is to write the full NaNo or just set your own personal goal for the month, the WCYR is here to support you. Every year, for the past six years, the WCYR has held a Mini-NaNo, where you get to choose your own goal (anywhere from 1,000 words to 50,000+ words) for the month of November.

On our writing support Facebook page, Word by Word, we work toward helping you achieve your personal writing goal by:

  • Holding a declaration draw, where you can state your writing goal for the month of November, along with your form/genre(s) of choice, and automatically get entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card to put toward an e-book, or a discounted print book from one of our published members.
  • Holding a survival draw, where you state how close you made it to your goal (same prizes as above) at the end of the month.
  • Having an opportunity to discuss plot bunnies or characters that don’t listen, or celebrate a great session of writing.
  • Sharing fun/funny/encouraging memes, and taking silly polls to bolster your spirit.
  • Checking in once a week with a general update on how it’s going.
  • Sharing favourite quotes from your work-in-progress (WIP) that can be turned into fun graphics.
  • Joining us at our weekly write-ins for face-to-face support and comradery, which will take place Sunday mornings, and Monday and Thursday evenings.

Not sure what to write?  Can’t commit to a large goal? We’ve got you covered! Hope to see you there!

Upcoming Activities and Events

The WCYR is soliciting  open submissions to our No Ordinary Day not-for-profit anthology. Submission dates are Nov 1 – Dec 3.  We are looking for poetry, flash fiction, and short stories on the theme of “From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary.” This not-for-profit anthology will be brought together by a team of WCYR members and volunteers to help our organization get back on its feet after dealing with four waves of COVID. Our coffers are low and in-person meetings are on the distant horizon. If you’d like a chance to be part of this great cause, be sure to check out the information page at

Prepping for NaNoWriMo with MJ Moores – October 7, 7:00pm to 8:30pm

York Writers Conference 2021 – October 22 to 24

15 Key Editing Tricks with Greg Ioannou – November 14, 1:30pm to 4:00pm

Short Story Craft with Douglas Smith

The open house and first event of the WCYR 2021/2022 season welcomed author Douglas Smith. Doug led us on a journey through the craft of creating short stories.

One of the first things Doug did was encourage us to make use of our toolbox. We’re writers and members of a great writing community. Many of us have attended seminars and workshops from various guest speakers over the years. We have learned a lot (and we still keep learning). It was time to put those skills to use and learn how they all fit together.

One of the most common questions writers get asked is: “Where do you get your ideas?” Many writers are writers because they are always getting ideas for stories. Doug explained a helpful way to sort through those ideas and discover what will make the best stories. You have to “triage” your ideas. Which ones are BAD ideas, which ones will make a good story SOMEDAY, which ones are SCREAMING to be written? The screaming idea is the one that should be dealt with first – write to quiet the loudest voice in your head. The best stories often combine two or three of the story doorways: an usual idea, a striking image, an interesting character.

When you have an idea, how do you develop it? As an example of this process, Doug took examples from his own story, “Scream Angel”. Ask questions about your idea. How did the situation arise? Who are these people? Where did they come from? Why are they here? Where is “here”? When is “here”? Doug is a sci-fi/fantasy writer, but these questions can be applied to any genre, from historical romance to space opera. A good story will often have non-obvious answers to these questions. We need the reader to care. Finally, Doug told us we need to “bring the pain.” We should also take chances. We won’t know until we try.

Doug referenced many great sources during his presentation, including “Deep Dive Into POV” with our very own Kim McDougall, a workshop she conducted in May 2021. Close POV is a valuable tool in that toolbox. Doug took us through story structure, character development, symbolism, and more. It was an invaluable presentation. We hope Doug will come back so we can further explore the toolbox.

You can find Doug at, on Twitter, Bookbub, Goodreads and Amazon.

Upcoming Events:

Prepping for NaNoWriMo with MJ Moores – October 7, 7:00pm to 8:30pm

York Writers Conference 2021 – October 22 to 24

15 Key Editing Tricks with Greg Ioannou – November 14, 1:30pm to 4:00pm

Announcing The Hunt for Red Octopus, by Apricot Banks and Maaja Wentz

About the Book:

Suffering sea monsters! Can Hubert brave the storm?

Meet Rainbow Reef’s fabulous fish kids:  Aiden, the panicky pufferfish, Sparky the doggone friendly dogfish, Olga the eight-legged bully, her little sister Red, and Hubert, a tiny hermit crab with Skyfall ambitions. He wants to be a superspy, but the sea harbors monsters, ghosts, and worse.

When Hubert and friends play hide-and-seek in the spooky Kelp Forest, Red Octopus gets lost. With a storm raging, can Hubert bring her home safely?

Finding a tiny octopus in the ocean is trickier than detecting one grain of sand on the beach. Fortunately, Hubert has a secret weapon. Read about it in The Hunt for Red Octopus.

Kids and adults will enjoy Hubert’s laugh-out-loud adventures. The Hunt for Red Octopus was released on July 31st, 2021.

This project was designed by a teacher-librarian who was missing her “kids.” Get a free book with jokes and activities for kids here:

About Apricot:

Apricot Banks (Maaja Wentz) writes fun books for kids that adults like too. A teacher-librarian, she loves sharing funny adventures to inspire a love of reading. Each book includes games and jokes in the back so that children can enjoy themselves offline.

Maaja’s first novel, Feeding Frenzy: Curse of the Necromancer, was chosen as a Featured Story by Wattpad and then went on to win a Watty award.

Moved by school closures last spring, Maaja recorded a read-aloud to allow children to follow along with the complete text of the first book in the Saltwater Spy Series, Marina Royale. Watch it on YouTube.

Reviews are needed. Please get your free review copy of the book via StoryOrigin.

Find Marina Royale:

Find Maaja:

Announcing We Save The World, by Allison Danger

About the Book:

After losing a friend in battle, it takes time for the Solid Gold team of heroes to get back into the monster hunting game. A new leader, Dracula’s resurgence, and a handful of ghosts are just what they need.

What do a group of slapstick goofballs with a side of knuckle-busting action and all the feels have in common? They all love to save the world.

A bit about Allison:

Allison Danger is an analytical romantic that uses the art of storytelling to best express her sentiment and emotionality. Her works are influenced by pop culture, and she believes every story needs a soundtrack. She studied at Wilfrid Laurier University and is a Humber College School of Health Sciences Alumnus.

Find We Save the World at

Find Allison at , (@markosia) and as well as @allisondangerous on Instagram and @allydangerous on Twitter

Announcing Shadow Phoenix: Volume 2 Episodes 1-4 by MJ Moores

About the Book:

Murphy’s Law: Rule #1

What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong

One kind gesture ignites a series of events that shatters Louisa’s world. Determined not to get mixed up with the daughter of the syndicate’s leader, a sense of duty and friendship pushes her to defy the man who would be king.

To make matters worse, Louisa faces an ultimatum for keeping her job, at the same time she stands to lose her heart. This maid-turned-inventor’s assistant might forfeit both just when the syndicate’s cross-hairs target the next victim.

Shadow Phoenix Volume 2 Episodes 1-4 is the anticipated first half of Volume 2 of the Shadow Phoenix young adult steampunk serial, and was released on June 30, 2021.

If you like face-paced adventure, a kick-butt female protagonist, and a dash of mayhem with a Victorian twist, you won’t want to miss the latest installment of Shadow Phoenix.

Pick up a copy and feed your need to read today!

About MJ:

MJ Moores has traditionally e-published two non-fiction industry guides and one marketing guide. She has completed her Sci-Fi/Fantasy series The Chronicles of Xannia and has waded into the world of Romantic Suspense, Steampunk Superheroes, and demon hunters. Her articles have appeared in Authors Publish Magazine, Indyfest Magazine, Easy Writer, and in the Writers Guide: The Writing Spiral. MJ taught high school English, was a genre writing coach, freelance writer, and is currently an acquisitions editor for DAOwen Publications (Ontario). She loves nothing more than helping writers through this crazy journey.

Find Shadow Phoenix: Volume 2:

Find MJ:

Announcing The Somewhere I See You Again by Nancy Thorne

About the Book:

Hannah will resort to anything to save her mother’s life. Including blackmail. Even if the target is the former boyfriend of her goody-goody best friend, Stacy.

Except, he just moved to the West Coast, and now it’s up to Hannah to convince Stacy to hitchhike with her cross-country to confront him.

It’s 1971. Change is happening. And Hannah’s understanding of the world is about to be tested by those she encounters along the way, including a gorgeous draft dodger.

Someone is about to face a deathly experience. But it’s not Hannah’s mother.

The Somewhere I See You Again is an extraordinary story about the life-changing power of love and friendship against insurmountable odds. The ebook was released on June 2nd, the print book will be released this August.

A bit about Nancy:

Inspired by the romance and courage of youth, Nancy Thorne is an award-winning YA novelist and short story writer.

When not writing books or reading, you can find Nancy going on road trips or conjuring up untested recipes for brave family members and friends.

She lives in Whitby with her family, along with an energetic Labrador and entertaining corgi.

Nancy is a member of the Historical Novel Society, CANSCAIP, Toronto Romance Writers, and The Writer’s Union of Canada.

Find The Somewhere I See You Again:


Find Nancy:




Announcing The Girl Who Cried Banshee by Kim McDougall

About the Book

Kyra Greene is a pest controller, not an exterminator. She has to be clear about that when the pests can be anything from pixies to dragons. But when her fledgling business teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, Kyra takes on a job that blurs those lines.

Now she’s deep in the lawless Inbetween, trying to clear a mysterious infestation from a fishing village. But these homesteaders won’t make it easy for her. Superstitious natures are easily provoked. And a banshee living in the hills above the village makes a good scapegoat.

Can Kyra find the source of an infestation before the homesteaders force her to make a life-or-death decision?

Ride along with Kyra Greene—pest controller to extraordinary beasts—into the Inbetween, where magic is the only rule of law.

The Girl Who Cried Banshee is a Valkyrie Bestiary prequel and takes place ten years before Dragons Don’t Eat Meat.

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 for more information about Kim’s books and to join the her reading group.

Find The Girl Who Cried Banshee:

Find Kim:

Announcing Double-Dog Dare Ya: D.E.M.ON. Tales Book 4 by MJ Moores and Nanci Pattenden

About the Book:

Grounded in Time

When an entire town is locked in déjà vu, the D.E.M.ON. agents are relieved to manage a simple case for a change. That is, until they link the disappearance of two young boys to the time-altering supernatural clouds invading Keswick – and discover the creature at fault.

It’s up to Junior to make a connection with the hormonal teen hatchling to save the kids. But not everyone wants the boys found or the beast banished …

Dive into the fourth installment of D.E.M.ON. tales, where Men in Black meets Supernatural in a tongue-in-cheek blend of action and humour. Double-Dog Dare Ya was released on April 30th.

A bit about MJ and Nanci:

Nanci Pattenden and MJ Moores have been writing critique partners for almost 10 years. They began writing very different genres, Nanci in historical mystery, and MJ in sci-fi / fantasy. But over the years, they rubbed off on each other. But in a good way. Nanci now dabbles in urban fantasy, and MJ has fallen for the Victorian era, writing young adult steampunk.

MJ and Nanci, our former WCYR Board Chair and Secretary respectively, remain very active volunteers for the Writers’ Community of York Region, and when permitted out in public at some future date, will continue to enjoy attending book events to ply their wares.

We thank them for all the work they have done and continue to do for the WCYR and look forward to reading their new novella.

Find Double-Dog Dare Ya:

Find Nanci:

Find MJ:

Get The Draft Done with Charles F. French

by Exsanguine Hart

You’ve done it. You’ve decided to be a writer. An aspiring writer. And that’s the first thing stopping you from getting your draft done. You are a writer. You don’t aspire, you write. A few things may still stand in your way: writers’ block, doubt, and time, but all of them are manageable. These obstacles were explained at the June WCYR event led by Charles F. French, a speculative writer and English professor.

Writers’ block and doubt generally go together. The former is caused by stress and fear, while the latter can be a result of self-doubt and lack of support for your work. An effective way to combat stress is deep breathing. Try to breathe in slowly, expanding your diaphragm and stomach, instead of lifting your shoulders. Hold your breath for a bit, then slowly breathe out. Doing this helps relax your body and gets you into a good headspace for writing. Next, try a few writing exercises, such as freewriting, which allows you to shake off doubt and perfectionism because there are no boundaries or expectations. Set a timer, for a minute or maybe five, and write whatever comes to mind. The goal is to avoid mulling over word choice or grammar to generate a burst of ideas.

How does all this apply to finishing your first draft? What if you’ve beat your writers’ block and your self-doubt, only to realize that you don’t have any time to write? Time can’t magically materialize. What you can do is increase your efficiency. While the best method is different for every writer, Charles suggests committing to a writing schedule, aiming to increase your daily word count over time, and experimenting with different settings, to find the best time and place to foster your productivity and creativity. Finally, to get to the end of your draft, you need to stop going back and revising every second sentence and just move forward to crafting the next scene or chapter. That’s the only way you’ll begin to see the finish line for your first draft. Don’t forget to treat yourself when you get there!

Charles F. French can be found on Twitter @WriterCharlesFFrench

Upcoming Events

Open House with Douglas Smith – September 12 @ 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm. FREE!

The Bookshelf – August 21 to 22

York Writers Conference 2021 – October 22 to 23

A Deep Dive into POV with Kim McDougall

by Exsanguine Hart

You may be familiar with a writer’s point of view (POV) — first, second, and third person — but how do you know which one to use, and how to use it effectively? And what about omniscient versus limited POV, or having multiple first-person narrators? There are two main rules for choosing. The first is your genre. For example, young adult (YA) books are usually written in first person. The second is your writing style. Choose the POV that you’re most comfortable writing. If you really enjoy writing in third person and feel uncomfortable in first person, go with third person.

Different POVs have different uses, advantages, and pitfalls. First person (I, we, us) is great for creating suspense because the reader can only know as much as the character. Second person (you) can work for short stories or paragraphs but tends to fall apart in longer works. Third person (he, she, they) can be limited, where the narrator does not have access to the thoughts of the characters, or omniscient, where the narrator does.

Deep POV is created by getting truly immersed in a character, which includes changes to word choice, such as eliminating filter words. For example, instead of saying she thought or she hoped, where thought and hoped are filter words, say what it is that the character thought outright. Deep POV doesn’t suit every story, but it is a valuable asset when it is used.

The main thing that interferes with any POV is head hopping. This occurs when an unintentional switch is made from the point of view of one character to another. It can be tricky to catch, which was why Kim had us do a few exercises to practice. Some ways to avoid head hopping are intentionally choosing POV characters and having a clearly defined, single POV for each scene.

No matter the POV, its main purpose is to connect your reader to the story. It gives the reader a view of the story, and choosing when to obstruct that view helps to create tension, suspense, and an emotional connection.

Find Kim Online:

Upcoming Events:

Get the Draft Done! with Charles F. French – June 13 @ 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Open House with Douglas Smith – September 12 @ 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm. FREE!

The Bookshelf – August 21 to 22

York Writers Conference 2021 – October 22 to 23

Announcing Marina Royale, by Apricot Banks (Maaja Wentz)

About the Book:

Hubert is losing his best friend to a bully.

Meet Rainbow Reef’s fabulous fish kids: Emma and Aiden, the panicky pufferfish twins, Sparky the doggone friendly dogfish, Olga the eight-legged bully, Sturgeon the (wannabe) Surgeon, and Hubert, a tiny hermit crab with sky-high ambitions.

Hubert wants to play cards with his best friend Sparky the dogfish. Too bad Sparky’s other friend, Olga Octopus, thinks Hubert is too small to play. When Hubert accuses Olga of cheating, she carries him out past the drop-off and abandons him where the sea monsters live. Can Hubert outwit hungry sharks to get home safely?

Kids and adults will enjoy Hubert’s laugh-out-loud adventures! Marina Royale was released on May 13th, 2021.

Bonus: a treasure chest of card games and jokes inside.

A bit about Apricot:

Apricot Banks (Maaja Wentz) writes fun books for kids that adults like too. A teacher-librarian, she loves sharing funny, adventurous, imaginative books. Her chapter books for kids aged 5-9 are written to inspire a love of reading.

Maaja’s first novel, Feeding Frenzy: Curse of the Necromancer, was chosen as a Featured Story by Wattpad and then went on to win a Watty award.

With school closures and primary students working from home last spring, I was moved to create something for them. This book is dedicated to the kids I miss reading to in the school library. The goal was to write something I could read out on YouTube to make them feel special. Once the paperback arrives, I look forward to recording the story and giving the link to teachers so they can share it with their classes.

Find Marina Royale:

Find Maaja:

Announcing Enough Already: 7 Yoga-Inspired Steps to Calm Amid Chaos by Elaine Jackson

About the Book:

In times of chaos, it’s normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed. But it’s also possible, even amid upheavals, to self-soothe and cultivate calm.

Begin by saying, “enough already.”

With threads of wisdom pulled from the yoga and Buddhist traditions, these personal reflections and allegories tackle a wide range of contemporary problems and ways to deal with them. Discover the path known as The Seven Factors of Awakening: concentration, mindfulness, curiosity and investigation, ethics and courage, relaxation, joy, and equanimity.

Embrace your enoughness, tackle the suffering that is avoidable, and make peace with your grief and pain. Learn to recognize poor habits and unhelpful ideas that make you feel lost. The everyday wisdom in Enough Already can lead you to creative coping, gratitude, and finally, compassionate action—even during personal and societal crises. Enough Already: 7 Yoga-Inspired Steps to Calm Amid Chaos was released in November 2020.

A bit about Elaine:

If Elaine had her way, she’d spend most of her time outside, curled up with a book, or sharing picnics with friends. She is a perpetual student, idea-collector, cyclist, cat momma, and explorer. After a long career as an occupational therapist and many years of teaching yoga and meditation, she’s fascinated with the power we have to heal ourselves—if only we are aware of it.

Find Enough Already: 7 Yoga-Inspired Steps to Calm Amid Chaos:

Find Elaine:

Announcing Samba in Brazil, by Paul Yanuziello

About the Book:

Samba in Brazil, written by Paul Yanuziello with illustrations by Joshua Miller, is a fun story about a lovable puppy and his best friend on their first overseas vacation. In book two of the series, Samba the Bernese Mountain Dog and his best friend are ready for adventure in the land of beautiful beaches, samba dancing and Carnaval parades. Cuddle up and join in the fun with a delightful story that will transport you to a land of incredible beauty. Joshua Miller has captured the majesty of Salvador, Bahia, with breathtaking illustrations. Samba in Brazil was released on February 14th, 2021.

A bit about Paul:

Paul Yanuziello is a writer, storyteller, musician, martial arts instructor, and author. In 2019, he published his first children’s book, Samba on a Snowy Day to glowing reviews. Writing under his pen name, Paul J. Youngman, he has reviewed and reported on concerts, festivals, and recordings by the musical greats. A highly skilled martial artist, he now instructs adults and children in Japanese martial arts.

The opportunity to write and teach full time, as well as his passion for teaching and learning from children, became the motivational force to publish his first children’s book. He is delighted to introduce his second book in the series, Samba in Brazil. To keep up to date with Paul, visit and remember, to subscribe to his blog, My Weekly Journal. When Yanuziello is not teaching or learning martial arts, he can be found writing, reading or practising shinrin-yoku (forest bathing).

Find Samba in Brazil:

Find Paul:

Writing Comedy with Steve Shrott

by Exsanguine Hart

The most difficult part of telling a joke is realizing that it wasn’t as funny to your audience as it was to you. Why wasn’t it effective? Step aside from the assertion that you are “just bad at humor,” and take a look at some of the tips for writing comedy presented by Steve Shrott, a mystery and comedy writer. The secret to humor, he explained at a recent WCYR workshop, is to remember that humour is subjective. It depends on context, on timing, and on your audience. The good news? Humour can be taught.

Steve began with the story of how he became a comedian, and told an IKEA joke. (Always trust people who make IKEA jokes.) As a teacher, Steve encourages his students to write down every joke they come up with, even the bad ones, and write down everyone else’s jokes too, then, analyze them to learn how to recognize what’s funny and what’s not. All humour is based on the same basic principles of delivery, including three-jokes and call-backs. Three-jokes are made up of three statements, where the first two seem regular and the third is unexpected and strange. Call-backs are references to previous jokes or situations that would be understood by a specific audience aware of the context. Other techniques, such as exaggeration, misinterpretation, and incongruity, are what make jokes memorable. At their core, all jokes are based on an unexpected contrast between two or more elements.

Experimentation and confidence will help you find the form of humour that fits your audience and allows you to connect with them. Try it out next time you’re writing dialogue or describing a character. A good laugh goes a long way.

Find Steve online:

Upcoming events:

Diving Deep into POV with Kim McDougall – May 27, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm (Free for members.)

Get the Draft Done with Charles F. French – June 13, 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Announcing China Girl, by Douglas Owen

About the Book:

Young women around the world keep disappearing.

Tasked with an impossible-to-solve investigation with only the heel of a shoe and three drops of blood, Detective Roberts must work with a reluctant Interpol officer to get a break.

The streets of a near-future Toronto become the hunting ground for victims of a new, addictive neural tech with killer side-effects. It’s up to Bruce and Mie to untangle a web of intrigue and influence as deep as the justice system itself. There’s nowhere to turn, no way to pin the murders on the crime boss. Lives are on the line – most of them underage.

Can they shut down the triad’s arm before more blood is spilled and the killers become untouchable?

This work contains strong language, adult situations, and violence. Reader discretion is advised. China Girl was released January 1, 2021.

A bit about Douglas:

Writer, author, editor, and publisher. He is also a former WCYR special events coordinator

Douglas Owen not only writes short stories and novels, he’s also known for his writer-centric column “A Written View,” which helps authors and writers hone their skills.

Doug also owns and runs the micro-press DAOwen Publications, which holds the imprints Love Knot Books, Science Fiction and Fantasy publications, Tumbleweed books, and Wicked Tales.

Find China Girl on Goodreads and Amazon

Find Douglas on Facebook and at