On May 16th, the Vaughan Writers’ Club officially launched their group website. The festivities were held at the Bathurst Clark Resource Library, and the public was invited to participate in a website tour, free snacks, and a draw for prizes. Club President Tamara Hecht gave a speech inviting prospective members to join the club. Author and webmaster Elise Abram presented the website and demonstrated its features as a blog and promotional tool.
Author Elise Abram will be attending the Village Market in Richmond Hill this Saturday. Come out for a book signing and to talk about self- and independent publishing.
Where: The Village Market
Address: Lower level of the Toronto Waldorf School, 9100 Bathurst St. (~1 mile north of Highway 7 and 1 traffic light south of Rutherford/Carville Road/16th Avenue.
When: Saturday, May 27, 2017 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Tamara Hecht, author of the MONSTERVILLE series will be appearing at the Richmond Hill Indigo this Saturday. Join Tamara for an afternoon of games and interactive activities.
Where: Richmond Hill Indigo
Address: 8705 Yonge Street, by Highway 7
When: starting at 11 a.m.
On May 13, 2017, the Vaughan Writers’ Club participated in the Writers’ Community of York Region’s (WCYR) the Bookshelf event in Newmarket. Many members were there to network, give support, and of course, sell books. Sigal, Moe, Tamara, Maria, Josephine, and Elise either spoke about their books and/or read an excerpt.
Thanks to Vaughan Writers’ Club member Franca Pelaccia for her guest post, “Immediacy in Writing”.
To read a novel is to experience a character’s highs and lows and everything in between. To be carried away into the make-believe world of an author’s imagination. To experience what you would never experience and in ways never imagined. Yet some authors steal these joys from their readers by distancing them. They don’t bring readers into the character’s head or heart, the pulse of the action, the nuances of the fictitious world and so on. They rob readers of the immediacy or the moment of the scene.
Recapping an important scene instead of presenting it firsthand is one way authors deny immediacy to readers. In the following passage, Anna is confronting an unfaithful lover. She has never stood up to a man. Once she does, she leaves empowered.
Anna stood in front of her boyfriend’s door. Her heart racing, she thought of all the mean things she wanted to say to Luc. He had made her believe she was the only woman in his life, when in actuality, she was one of five. Five! She had never been so insulted in all her dating life.
She knocked on the door, hoping Luc wasn’t home, but he opened it. Before she could run away, she began the onslaught of all the wrongs he had committed against her. Luc countered with one lame excuse after another—probably well-rehearsed from all the practice he had had with all the other women who had come before her—or alongside her. When she couldn’t remember any more injustices, she turned on her high heels and strode off. She was shaking, but she had stood up to Luc. No man would ever make her one of five women again. No man would ever wrong Anna Broughton ever again.
Anna’s experience is life alternating and significant to her character and the story. Yet the reader doesn’t get to feel it, taste it, touch it, smell it, or hear it. The two paragraphs should have been developed into a scene, possibly even a chapter. There should have been lots of dialogue, and some minor narrative to flesh it out, which would have put the reader, standing right next to Anna, experiencing the shake of her knees but the thrill of her ride, and cheering her on firsthand. The reader then would have left on the heels of Anna’s high. But the past tense narrative, which is a recap, robs the reader of the immediacy of Anna’s moment. We’re left without having experienced anything.
Author intrusion also distances readers from the scene’s moment.
In her dark corner, Anna saw Luc cuddle up with a tall blonde. The blonde left and a buxom brunette showed up. He made the same moves on her. Four cappuccinos later Anna had counted two more women. Well, you wouldn’t believe what Anna did next.
Among other things, suspense is created by conflict and tension. Suspense is not created by an author, jumping into the story to tell readers that they are in for a big surprise and to keep on reading if they want to know what that big surprise is. Authors who do this pull me right out of the story and tell me they aren’t confident handling suspense or just want to get the story over. This technique also reminds me of the classics and of allegorical novels, where authors intrude to make sure the lesson or the moral of the story is learned. Unless you’re writing an allegory, don’t interrupt the flow of the moment by jumping in.
An author’s choice of words can also pull a reader out of the moment of the story.
In her abstruse corner, Anna witnessed Luc cuddle up with a prodigious blonde in a diaphanous dress, and an hour later with an esoteric-looking brunette in an affluent suit.
As authors, we all search for the right word. The right word has to work for the time period, the character, the culture, and all the other details of our work. We are presented with choices and may opt for an impressive-looking word rather than an every day one. But, when was the last time you were in the throes of a passionate scene or the grip of a hair-raising action scene and been stopped cold by an unknown or over-the-top word? When was the last time you pulled out a dictionary to check the meaning of that word? A work of fiction is not a textbook. Don’t use a word that will stop readers cold and ruin the momentum of the scene.
Creative speech tags in dialogue can also disrupt immediacy and readers’ enjoyment of your work. There is nothing wrong with “he said/she said” or even “he replied/she replied”. I’m the first to admit that “said” and “replied” are boring. After all, they’re not creative, and we as authors are. But we have to remember that if we’ve engaged readers, they will be focused on the dialogue and not on the speech tags. Which one of the following keeps you focused on Anna’s moment?
“I loved you, Luc,” Anna managed to squeak out.
“I loved you, Luc,” Anna shrilled at the top of her lungs.
“I loved you, Luc.” Anna said.
“I loved you, Luc.”
My guess would be the third, but the last one works even better. If the author develops the scene properly, the reader doesn’t need to be told how Anna says her parting words to Luc. The reader knows, and the speech tags are redundant.
A misplaced description or an overload of irrelevant information will also ruin the scene’s momentum and pull the reader out of the story.
Anna stood in front of her boyfriend’s door. It was a beautiful redwood door with a bevelled glass that must have cost Luc a fortune. She knocked, hoping he wasn’t home, but Luc opened it. He was wearing a Lacoste polo shirt, a pair of Hugo Boss jeans, and cologne that reminded her of climbing the Rockies with her Alpha Gamma Delta sorority sisters.
Is the description of the door important? Is what Luc’s wearing essential? Is the memory of mountain climbing with her sorority sisters necessary? At that very moment, no, they aren’t. This is Anna’s moment. The author should be focusing on her emotions and then on her triumph. The author should not be focusing on extraneous descriptions or thoughts that detract from the immediacy of Anna’s moment and of the readers’.
Be careful with slight point of view shifts that can also jar a reader. If you’re in one character’s POV, don’t switch to another character’s in the same paragraph.
Anna knocked on the door, hoping Luc wasn’t home, but he opened it. Luc was surprised to see her. He was expecting Marguerite.
The shift in POV is slight, but may lead to reader confusion.
The biggest compliment readers can give authors is that they lost themselves in their stories. Don’t rob the readers’ experiences by distancing them from the moments that make up your stories.
Come and join the Vaughan Writers’ Club at their monthly meeting to launch their website!
This is a great opportunity for you to meet and network with local authors, artists, and publishers, have a bit to eat, and win some prizes.
Join us at the Bathurst-Clark Resource Library on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 from 7 – 8:30 p.m., and join in the fun!
Check out the event on the Snapd Vaughan East website!
The Vaughan Writers’ Series kicked off on Saturday, April 22, 2017 with a bang. Noted children’s author Richard Scrimger spoke about how to write great stories and dropped a few spoilers concerning some of his novels. Richard’s workshop was followed by talks from five Vaughan Writers’ Club members, a question and answer session and panel discussion, and presentation from The Canadian Author’s Association.
Richard demonstrated (with volunteers from the audience) how the three basic elements of storytelling–character, conflict, and plot–work in the story-crafting process. Having a likable protagonist is not enough to craft a memorable story. Your protagonist must get into trouble. He suggested that a character who will help your protagonist out of trouble is important, but the story will be better if your “helper” only serves to get your character into further trouble, rather than solve the problem for him/her. He explained his inspiration to write Lucky Jonah and Ink Me, and how the first was plot-driven (boy finds a magical camera), and the second was character-driven (based on a character Richard knew and identified with). Richard’s presentation was humorous, entertaining, and fascinating. It incredible to hear how a professionally published author got his start and continues to thrive in the business.
Entitled “From the Known to the Unknown”, Elise spoke of the inspiration behind her soon to be published novel, The New Recruit, based on a real childhood experience.
Josephine explained how her workshops for preschool children took shape. She showcased her book, We Are Colourful Friends, and discussed how she uses the book and puppets in her educational presentations. Josephine’s 6′ tall, red flamingo, ruby was on hand to help her with the presentation. Watch for Josephine as she begins touring her entire sculpture collections. Her first stop will be Indigo in Richmond Hill on Saturday, September 16, 2017 from 1 – 4 pm.
In “Starting Local”, Tamara explained how she prefers to publicize her Monsterville novels locally. It is easy to get lost on the Internet, she said. It is much better to take advantage of local opportunities–like schools, festivals, and libraries–right in your own neighbourhood.
Howard’s novel, Mr. Balloona-Man was inspired by his children. The Howard’s likeness and that of his children are featured in the book. Not only did Howard share his inspiration for the book, he treated us to a brief reading of a poem in the story.
Sigal’s book, Chuck the Rooster Loses his Voice, was inspired by Sigal’s extensive background in teaching and practicing entrepreneurship. It is through her picture book that she hopes to inspire today’s young children to embrace and entrepreneurship and learn what it means to take initiative in a community, she explained.
Sigal also introduced her new book, The Bear Barr Wants to Play Guitar.
The Canadian Authors’ Association
Anita Purcell extolled the virtues of belonging to The Canadian Authors’ Association and its website. It is a great idea to join the association for networking purposes, as well as seeking out information about publishing, finding an agent, writing query letters, and so much more.
In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, Vaughan Public Libraries is implementing another Vaughan Writes initiative – please check out the Vaughan Writes Canada 150 Stories – Call for Submission.
Vaughan Public Libraries (VPL) champions local literary creation and cultural development. We have recently launched a few exciting Vaughan Writes initiatives to implement this commitment, such as offering innovative e-Publishing opportunities to local poets and writers through Vaughan Poetry Map and SELF-e.
In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, VPL is now inviting all writers and aspiring writers in Vaughan and the surrounding areas to create an anthology together. This anthology is to celebrate our Canadian land, people, culture and heritage. It is also an opportunity to showcase Vaughan’s literary talents:
- Upon submitting your work, your entry(ies) will be automatically collected in our Vaughan Writes: a Canada 150 Curation on SELF-e.
- A Review Panel composed of the Vaughan Writers’ Club senior members will further review all submissions and select up to 20 entries to be included in our book Voices of Vaughan: a Canada 150 Anthology. The Review Panelists may edit your entry before the anthology is e-Published on SELF-e. If your entry is selected, you will be invited to the book launch ceremony taking place in the fall.
If you are interested in this exciting community writing project and e-Publishing opportunity, please consult the Guidelines and submit your information by filling out the form at http://www.vaughanpl.info/vaughanwrites/submission.
Highlights of this community writing project
- Great e-Publishing and promotional opportunity for writers and aspiring writers – if your entry is included in our book, you will be invited to our book launch ceremony taking place at the Civic Centre Resource Library in the fall. VPL will promote this project to the entire community.
- You can submit all genres (including poetry and non-fiction) to SELF-e and we will showcase all the works we receive under “Vaughan Writes: a Canada 150 Curation” on SELF-e, but Library Journal and our Vaughan Writers’ Club review panel will only review fictional short stories for the anthology purpose.
- You will be using SELF-e and Pressbooks (more info below).
- SELF-e is a partnership between Library Journal and Biblioboard, a hybrid software-media company. The SELF-e Collection offers free access to a variety of Canadian independent authors’ eBooks, and a worldwide collection of Library Journal Select eBooks that are recommended by professional book reviewers.
- SELF-e is also a self-publishing and distribution tool that allows independent authors’ works to be discovered by customers of all SELF-e participating library systems. All Library Journal highlighted titles will likely get priority to be read by library customers and promoted by the participating libraries. Local writers and aspiring writers are encouraged to submit works through SELF-e Submission to gain exposure. Note: SELF-e does not compensate writers with a royalty fee, however, writers will find this tool helpful in terms of promotional opportunities.
- More info about SELF-e can be viewed here – note: SELF-e has recently changed their interface design, therefore, not all slides in the video look the same as the current site, however, the functions and steps remain the same.
- Pressbooks is a book writing program that lets writers create a book in any format they need for publication.
- More info can be viewed on this video.
Aspiring writers and book lovers are welcome to join and hear the wonderful stories behind our authors’ latest works.
When: April 22, 2017
Time: 1:30 – 4 pm
Where: Bathurst Clark Resource Library
Address: 900 Clark Ave. W. , Thornhill, Ontario
1:30 – Bestselling author, Richard Scrimger, shares his experience in creating children’s literature.
3:00 – Panel discussion – Richard Scrimger and local authors answer your questions.
3:30 – Canadian Authors Association Presentation and Meeting.
For more details, see Writers’ Series Poster.
Congratulations to Tamara Hecht whose short story–taking place in the world of Monsterville–will be featured in a 600 Second Saga podcast on April 19, 2017
If you like monster movies and fun, Tamara’s middle-grade Monsterville series is for you.
In the mean time, here’s Tamara’s last 600 Second Saga podcast, also from the world of Monsterville, “Bloody Sherri” to tide you over.