Wednesday, 25 November 2009

NISA announces eighth annual BrainStorm poetry contest

Enter the storm and speak your mind

NISA's eighth annual BrainStorm poetry contest opens Jan. 4, 2010

SUDBURY, ONTARIO (Nov. 23, 2009) — The Northern Initiative for Social Action (NISA), a Sudbury-based, non-profit agency that works with consumers and survivors of mental health services, is pleased to announce its eighth annual BrainStorm poetry contest. This contest runs from Jan. 4 to March 19, 2010 and is open to poets worldwide.

"The annual BrainStorm contest is an effective way for NISA to showcase the work of its readers and other mental health consumers," says Mary Katherine Keown, the interim editor and publisher of Open Minds Quarterly, NISA's literary magazine. "This year, we're hoping to receive more submissions from poets outside North America, in order to raise awareness and to educate the public on the realities of mental health in different geographic regions."       

Subject matter is entirely open and needn't focus on one's struggle with mental health; however, the BrainStorm poetry contest is open exclusively to consumers and survivors of mental health services.

About NISA:

Northern Initiative for Social Action is a member-driven occupational initiative that provides a variety of opportunities for participation. Programs include the Artists' Loft; the Northern Computer Recycling Depot (NCRD), which refurbishes gently used computers for resale; the Dandelion Café, which provides on-the-job customer service training; the Warm Hearts/Warm Bodies quilting program, which donates quilts annually to a Sudbury-based shelter for at-risk and homeless youth; and the Writers' Circle, which publishes Open Minds Quarterly and conducts creative and professional workshops with aspiring writers interested in polishing their work.

The BrainStorm poetry contest runs from Jan. 4 to March 19, 2010. It is intended as a fundraiser for NISA's literary magazine, Open Minds Quarterly, as well as a way of supporting consumers and survivors of mental health services by awarding prizes to the top three winners. Full details and entry forms are available from NISA's website. For more information, please go to Inquiries may be directed to Mary Katherine Keown or Dinah Laprairie at or +1-705-675-9193 ext. 8286.


Mary Katherine Keown (interim editor and publisher, Open Minds Quarterly)
Dinah Laprairie (editor and publisher, Open Minds Quarterly)
Phone: +1-705-675-9193 ext. 8286

WRAP at South Team (Open to all)

WRAP at South Team

Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)
Developed by Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S., M.A.

Open to all those who have experience living with mental illness

WRAP is a program aimed at helping people to take charge of their own recovery journey by developing an action plan for wellness and recovery. It's not about illness. It's about creating the life one wants to live. You will create your own recovery and crisis plan designed for you, by you. 

WHERE: South Mental Health Team
                    220 – 1200 W 73rd

WHEN:    Mondays from Jan. 25 – March 1
                  1 pm – 4 pm


Space is limited so register early by calling
604-708-5274 leaving your name and phone number.

Book News Vol. 4 No. 49


Spoken World
When wordsmiths and musicians hit the stage for Spoken World, get ready for an evening of sensory overload. The Literary Cabaret's Sal Ferreras and his band Poetic License, and VJ Candelario Andrade make the magic happen with Ivan E. Coyote, Shane Koyczan, Ariana Waynes and Skeena Reece. Details and ticket information here.

The winner of the Vancouver International Writers Festival's 2009 YouthWrites contest for secondary school students is Alyson Kissner, a grade 11 student from West Vancouver Secondary School. Read her winning submission, The City.

Check out the blog about 2009 Festival author Rukhsana Khan's week-long residency in Prince Rupert,

Guess the Giller!
The VIWF is pleased to partner with Scotiabank Giller Prize in the Guess the Giller contest. Select the finalist you think will win the prize to win a VIP trip for two to the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize Gala in Toronto. Deadline is November 10, 2009. Details at


Congratulations to Lee Henderson who has won the 2009 Vancouver Book Award for his novel The Man Game.

Dany Laferrière, who won the Blue Metropolis Literary Grand Prix last week, has this week been named recipient of France's illustrious Prix Medicis literary award.  Laferrière is only the second Canadian novelist to win the Medicis. The first was Marie-Claire Blais, who won in 1966 for Une saison dans la vie d'Emmanuel.

Marie NDiaye has won France's top literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, for her novel Three Strong Women.

Nam Le, who appeared at the 2008 Festival, has won Australia's Prime Minister's Literary Award for his debut collection of stories The Boat.

The longlist for the 2010 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award has been announced.


William Deverell is often dubbed a crime writer, but this reviewer thinks of him more as "a writer of hilarious political and judicial satire."  Read a review of Snow Job in the Globe & Mail.

Candice Fertile writes that Cary Fagan's new novel Valentine's Fall is "gently humorous, even though it deals with serious issues such as love and loss."

The Guardian reviews Carol Ann Duffy's New and Collected Poems for Children, the poems in which are populated by real and invented people, among them the Loch Ness Monster's husband and Elvis.

Dave Eggers reviews Look at the Birdie, a selection of unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut.

In his introduction to The Paris Review Interviews, featuring authors from Ernest Hemingway to Marilynne Robinson, Salman Rushdie writes that these interviews "satisfy our...deep and abiding inquisitiveness about the writing life."

Jane Smiley reviews Presence: The Collected Stories of Arthur Miller, which the author wrote between 1959 and 1992, and which Smiley calls "an arresting self-portrait, unmediated by directors, actors, gossip columnists or biographers."

Orhan Pamuk's "enchanting new novel" The Museum of Innocence is about "first love painfully sustained over a lifetime."  Read a review in the NY Times.

Ian Jack writes in the Guardian on the life and work of Diana Athill.

Colson Whitehead's latest novel Sag Harbor came out last year.  Now he's pondering what to write next:  "a flashy and experimental brain-bender, or a pointillist examination of the dissolution of a typical American family-Generation-spanning door-stopper or claustrophobic psychological sketch?"  Read his essay in the NY Times.

A.L. Kennedy, trapped on a train, reflects on her recent trip to Canada and finds herself alternately angry and depressed about the current trends in publishing.

The French anthropologist and philosopher Claude Lévi-Strauss died at the age of 100 last Friday.  This article in the NY Times offers an appraisal of Strauss' most celebrated work, Tristes Tropiques.


Ever wanted to write a novel? Want to have a lot of fun writing with other people from the Lower Mainland? VancoWrimo is the Vancouver chapter of a writing challenge that takes place across the world every year in November. Thursday, November 5 at 6:30pm, free. For more information and additional dates and times, please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603. Sponsored by VancoWrimo (

Reading by spoken word performer Al Hunter. Thursday, November 5 at 7:00pm, free. SB406, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Granville Island.

Arsenal Pulp Press and the Book Warehouse present demonstrations by Mandy Moore and Leanne Prain and signings of their new book Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti. Thursday, November 5 at 7:00pm, free. Book Warehouse (1051 Davie Street).

Dal Richards and author Jim Taylor lovingly look back on seven decades of keeping the music alive. Their new book, One More Time: The Dal Richards Story recounts the fascinating life story of the legendary bandleader. Thursday, November 5 at 7:30pm, free. Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street.

Anvil Press presents a book launch of Kaspoit! by Dennis E. Bolen with a special guest reading by Jenn Farrell from her upcoming book The Devil You Know. Thursday, November 5 at 7:30pm, free. Montmartre Café (4362 Main). More information at

Green College writer-in-residence Oana Avasilichioaei hosts a discussion on writing about Vancouver with poets Roger Farr and Sachiko Murakami and novelist and short-story writer Lee Henderson. Thursday, November 5 at 8:00pm, free. Coach House, Green College (6201 Cecil Green Park Rd., UBC). More information at

Release of the 10th issue with readings by Maria Lenart and Neil Rayner, with a media presentation of Thor Polukoshko's Cereal Junkies. Thursday, November 5 at 8:30pm. Admission: $10 and includes a copy of the magazine.The Railway Club, 579 Dunsmuir). More information at

Event featuring writer Leanne Boschman and illustrator Edward Epp who collaborated on the book Precipitous Signs: A Rain Journal. Saturday, November 7 at 3:00pm. The Marion Scott Gallery, 308 Water Street.

Oolichan Books and Palimpsest Press invite you to the launch of new books by Aislinn Hunter (A Peepshow with Views of the Interior: Paratexts) and Miranda Pearson (Harbour). Sunday, November 8 at 7:00pm. Chivanna Restaurant and Lounge, 2340 West 4th Avenue.

Reading from The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You. A discussion with the author will follow. Monday, November 9 at 4:30pm. Lillooet Room (301), Chapman Learning Commons, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, UBC. For more information, visit

Meet Canada's first lady of song as she signs copies of her memoir, All of Me. In this revealing autobiography, Anne Murray tells the whole story of her 40-year career in show biz. Monday, November 9 at 7:00pm. Chapters Langley (20015 Langley By-Pass, unit 115). For more information, phone 604.514.8663.

Author presents her debut novel, Underground, in a unique reading for Remembrance Day that recognizes Canada's forgotten veterans of the Spanish Civil War. Monday, November 9 at 7:30pm, free. Alma VanDusen Room, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street. For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603.

Part of the Vancouver Poetry Slam series. Costumes encouraged. Featuring David Silverberg. Monday, November 9 at 8:00pm. Cost: $5-$10 at the door. Café Deux Soleils, 2096 Commercial Drive. Sign up at

Author launches his book Only in Whistler: Tales of a Mountain Town. Tuesday, November 10 at 7:00pm, free. Aphrodite's Organic Café (3598 West 4th Avenue, Whistler, BC). For more information, call 1-800-667-2988 or visit

On Edge Reading Series presents the author of declining america. Thursday, November 12 at 7:00pm, free. SB406, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Granville Island. More information at

Reading of 4 Poets with Daniela Elza, Peter Mortin, Al Remple and Onjana Yawnghwe. Thursday, November 12 at 7:00pm, free. UBC Bookstore Library Robson Square, 800 Robson Street.

Simon Fraser University researcher Donald Gutstein discusses his new book Not A Conspiracy Theory: How Business Propaganda Hijacks Democracy. Thursday, November 12 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street.

Reading of The Life & Art of Frank Molnar, Jack Hardman & LeRoy Jensen, the second book in the series, The Unheralded Artists of B.C. Friday, November 13 at 7:00pm. Ferry Building Gallery (1414 Argyle Avenue, West Vancouver). RSVP to

Author reads from his work, Worlds at War, which delves deep into the roots of the clash of civilizations between East and West that has always been a battle over ideas. Friday, November 13 at 7:30pm, free. Alma VanDusen & Peter Kaye Rooms, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street.

Vancouver writers from the online short fiction project, Joyland, read. Featuring Michael Turner, Rhonda Waterfall, Alex Leslie and Rachel Knudsen. Friday, November 13 at 8:00pm, free. W2 Perel Gallery, 112 West Hastings.


An evening of poetry, song, reading, performance and a pot luck. Monday, November 16 at 6:00pm, free. First Nations Longhouse, Sty-Wet-Tan Hall, 1985 West Mall, UBC. More information by phoning 604-822-8941 or emailing

An evening of adventure, art and wild beauty and celebrate Fall books that move you. Monday, November 16 at 7:00pm, free. Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street. For more information please contact Vancouver Public Library at 604-331-3603.

Author reads from her book The English Stories. Monday, November 16 at 7:30pm, free. Peter Kaye Room, Lower Level, Central Library, 350 West Georgia Street.

Join Vancouver Public Library's inaugural First Nations Storyteller-in-Residence Amanda Nahanee for storytelling from her culture and history. Tuesday, November 17 at 6:30pm, free. Kitsilano Branch, 2425 Macdonald Street.

Reading by the author of two collections of poetry, A Strange Relief and Killarnoe. Thursday, November 19 at 7:00pm, free. SB406, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Granville Island. More information at

Pi Theatre and Rumble Productions present 'after the quake', based on the novel by Haruki Murakami, November 19-December 5 at Studio 16, Vancouver. Tickets available through See for more info.

On Friday December 4, writer/broadcaster Bill Richardson and other CBC personalities will welcome the public to CBC Vancouver for a tour of their newly renovated, state of the art broadcast centre at 700 Hamilton Street. Food Bank volunteers will accept donations at stations around the building. You can also donate online:, starting November 6.

Produced by the Book News Collective: Hal Wake, Clea Young, Brenda Berck, Ann McDonell and Sandra Millard.

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Hal Wake
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2010 Festival - 19-24 October inclusive
Vancouver International Writers Festival
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p: 604 681 6330 x102
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Vancouver Manuscript Intensive, January - May 2010, with Betsy Warland (poetry and creative nonfiction), Shaena Lambert (fiction) and Claudia Casper (fiction). Develop or finish your manuscript with one-on-one editorial guidance. Application deadline: December 1st. Visit (click on VMI 2010) for all details.

Fwd: Writing News, Issue #002 -- Be a Better Writer

Writing News November 2009

This past month, I've been busy making artwork for the short stories published in Page Forty-Seven online anthology. I'm not finished yet, so keep watching. There are more to come!
New Short Stories:
I published five new original short stories in October:
  • His Life
  • by Kristine Kettle
  • Silk
  • by Hema Ramen
  • Death Comes for Simon
  • by Max Clark
  • Every Thursday
  • by Michelle Satchell
  • A Rose in the Morning
  • by George Lea
Click on Page Forty-Seven online anthology to read them.
Latest Tweet on Twitter:
Read the very first New York Review of Books published February 1, 1963 here
Writer's Resources:
New to the Writing Resources page this month:
  1. The Vocabula Review A monthly journal about the state of the English language.
  2. Learn the business and craft of writing for children.
Writing Contests:
Two new Writing Contests, and four closing in November. Be sure to check out the Glimmer Train Fiction Award for New Writers.
Emergency Money for Writers:
If you or someone you know is struggling to finish a book but are unable to because of financial need, the Writers' Trust of Canada can help. The Woodcock Fund was established in 1989 to provide emergency financial assistance to professional Canadian writers. Grants are normally in the $5000 to $10000 range and are administered quickly and efficiently by the Writers' Trust of Canada. Often recipients will receive the grant money within two weeks of applying for it. See PDF guidelines at the bottom of this page.
Setting Writing Goals:
Writing goals help to improve craft and will remind you to set aside time to improve your craft. There is no magic formula that will help you become a great writer, but you can take action that will move you closer to that goal. I suggest setting goals in three key areas:
  1. knowledge
  2. improvement
  3. submissions
  • First, set writing goals that will increase your knowledge of craft to some degree every month. Maybe you have time to read only one book about writing a month. That's something. If you're pressed for time, search out YouTube videos that teach writing craft.
A good place to start on YouTube is the MasterClass series by the Scottish Book Trust: Scottish Book Trust

  • Knowledge fuels improvement, but don't leave your improvement to chance. Set writing goals that force you to measure change. You need an objective opinion on this, so if you can afford to hire a writing mentor, this is the fastest and most reliable method of determining your progress. Contact Me

  • If you can't afford private mentoring, join an online critiquing group. I occasionally provide free feedback at My Writers Circle and many other professional and amateur writers do the same and will provide prompt, valuable feedback.
    Also, keep an editing checklist and run a search on particular problem areas. If you tend to overuse adverbs, do a search for "ly." If you overuse participial phrases, search for "ing" words. Your writing goals should be specific, such as that you want a 10% decrease in adverbs each time you check. So keep track of your numbers, and gauge your progress. As you overcome one problem, focus on another, so you have continuous improvement.
    Don't focus all your writing goals on weaknesses. Your work will sell because of its strengths, so keep honing them, and get reliable, objective feedback on that, as well.
    Knowledge and improvement are the writing goals that will bring you the most satisfaction at first, so buy a book, enroll in a course or writing conference, ask for a critique, pay a mentor, and do whatever is necessary to learn and improve.

  • And submit! The best proof of your improvement is a publication, so always have a submission in circulation. You may not feel that you're ready to submit, but you may never feel that you're ready. Get advice from a professional, and if an editor or mentor says a piece of work is ready to submit, keep it in motion. If an editor rejects it, ship it off to someone else.

  • Make this part of your writing goals. If you don't and you're like most writers, you will procrastinate, or you will get one or two rejections and won't want to risk more. Don't give in to this feeling. Set a goal to have a new piece ready for submission every month, research the market, and send the piece out. After six months, you will have six pieces circulating.
    If you're fortunate, you will receive feedback and encouragement along with any rejections. Better yet, you will be accepted for publication. But you will only be published if you force yourself to send your work out.
    So there you have it. Three simple goals. They won't be new to you, but are you already taking the necessary action? If not, set a writing goal right now that you will take action on at least one of these goals before the end of the week.
    What specific aspect of your writing do you want to improve? Write it down as a goal, and take action. Thinking about it is not good enough. Nothing changes until you take action. Set some goals right now, act on them, and your progress is guaranteed.
    Special Offer:
    Here is a special offer to get you started:
    Send me an email with 500 words of writing. Put your name and the words "Is this ready?" in the subject line.
    For $25, I will pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses in the sample.
    This is less than one third of my usual rate, as a special offer to motivate you. Contact Me

    However you do it, I urge you to set writing goals and take action toward lasting improvement today.

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