Events

506 Writing Contest

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The Ashdale Writers Group, a group I have been a part of for years, is hosting a writing contest in conjunction with Beach Metro, Toronto Public Library, Gerrard India Bazaar and The 506 Streetcar Project.

Myself and my fellow writers in the group will be serving as judges and the theme is related to the 506 streetcar here in Toronto.

The deadline is tight, entries must be submitted by March 21st, but we have a great prize of publication in the Beach Metro News and $100 cash sponsored by the Gerrard India Bazaar BIA.

For more info or to enter check out our group’s website!

Also, the winner will be invited to read at our Ashdale Reading Night on the 31st of March. Members of our group will be reading along with the winner of the contest.

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Events

Upcoming Reading: The EW Reading Series

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On Tuesday the 8th of September I will be sharing the stage with some fabulous writers at the Emerging Writers Reading Series in Toronto.

The reading is in a pub on Bloor St. West so you can get some food and drink. I will be hitting the stage last at 9:30pm but there are three other readers before me, so come at 8pm to get in on all the literary action!

I hope to see you there.

Date: Tuesday September 8, 2015
Time: 8pm
Location: Duffy’s Tavern – 1238 Bloor St. W. Toronto
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Events

Reading at Ashdale Library – September 25th

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For about two years now I have been a writing group at Ashdale Library in Little India.  It’s a great group of supportive and talented writers and for the first time on Thursday September 25th we are opening the group up for a public reading.

There will be about eight readers in total (including yours truly) and it should be a wonderful night of words and wisdom.

I will be reading a short story called ‘How can we ever be better?’ which is currently being illustrated and will be published in November by the fabulous Flyleaf Journal.

Date: Thursday September 25th, 2014
Time: 6pm-8:15pm
Location: Ashdale Library – 1432 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4L 1Z6

I hope to see you there!

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Upcoming Reading – Eden Mills Writers Festival

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Thanks to a successful entry in the Fringe Contest I have been invited to read at the Eden Mills Writers Festival!

I am super excited and grateful to be included amongst some really amazing writers reading at this festival!

I have never been to Eden Mills before, but I’ve heard it’s a wonderful festival with some great talent in a lovely location, so if you can make it out, I would love to see some friendly faces in the crowd for my first public reading.

I will be reading at around 4pm (give or take 10 minutes) and I will be reading a short story called Willow, which is a mixture of magic realism and an origin legend.

For those of you who like lists here are the full details:

Event: Eden Mills Writers Festival
Date:  Sunday September 15, 2013
Time: Around 4pm
Location: The Village of Eden Mills – Outside at ‘The Cottage’

Hopefully I will see you there!

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Books on writing (and why I don’t believe in them)

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You can’t learn writing from a book.

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of writing books out there and some that are even considered essential, like ‘On Writing’ or ‘Elements of Style’.  You can read all the books you want though, but the only thing that is going to make you a better writer is…writing.

Reading is good, great even for a writer.  You should read widely to get a feeling for different styles and to expand your mind, but in my opinion, your reading shouldn’t necessarily include books on writing.  I’ve read a couple and at the end of the day, the main message from all of them is: get writing.  And so they should be.  Everyone has different opinions on what makes a good story, beautiful prose and stunning poetry.  Everyone has a different story to their writing life and, although interesting and sometimes inspiring, hearing the stories of how other people write (or got famous doing it) does little to help make you better.  Sure you can learn grammar rules from books like ‘Elements of Style’ but ideally, before you start trying to be a writer, you actually have a grasp on the basics.

With every writing book I read, the writer tries to guide and suggest and I don’t always agree.  I usually agree with about half of the things they’re saying and wholeheartedly disagree with the other half.  One person suggests writing in a coffee shop is for people who are just seeking attention, but I like the atmosphere and the bustle.  Another person suggests not to show your work in progress, but I love having Ben read my chapters as I go along.  Then, of course, there are the attributes that supposedly describe writers, stuck in your head, crazy, lonely, dramatically melancholy, plagued by stories and characters that kick you in the brain until you writer them.  These things seem to be universal, but I don’t really feel as though they fit into my vision of myself as a writer.  Then, on the flip side, there is the good advice: write every day, don’t be discouraged by rejection, dig deep to find good stories, focus on character.  All sound advice, but frankly it just seems like common sense.

I understand that writing is tough and sometimes you’re just looking for a little inspiration, a little moment where you can read someone else’s story and struggles and realize you are not alone.  The appeal of books on writing is that they allow us to connect with like-minded people.  But other than that, these books offer a wealth of advice I could either take or leave.  Simple logic.  So, ultimately, I hold fast to my original thought on the whole matter:

You can’t learn writing from a book.  The only thing that will make you a better writer is writing.

Agree?  Disagree?  Let me know!

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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A Good Read

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I read a lot.

I guess that makes sense, because they say a writer ought to do that, but as much as I read, I’m also pretty picky.  I want a lot of things from a book and I have my preferences (just like you do I’m sure) and I’ve lately been finding what I’ve been able to get into and what I haven’t interesting.  For example, despite my love of urban fantasy, I just can’t get through ‘American Gods’ (by Neil Gaiman), I enjoyed some of his short stories in an anthology of his I read, but there’s just something about American Gods I don’t like.  ‘Gone Girl’ (by Gillian Flynn) however caught me and kept me reading until late in the night and there’s not a hint of magic in that book.

So what is it that keeps me reading and makes me loathe to put a book down?

Let’s see here…

Emotional over physical

I like a style that gives more personal and emotional information than information about the environment and appearance of the characters.  I often try to do that in my stories and I’ve been told in the past that I don’t put in enough physical detail (someone told me once they didn’t like that they had to work to imagine the environment), but I like to use my imagination.  If I’m drowned in detail I get bored pretty fast because it slows down the pace and does all the work for me.  I also like to know what the characters are thinking and feeling as well as their emotional history, this gets me involved and makes me feel like they’re real.  I want to feel like the characters have an impact on the world and the story isn’t just taking them along for the ride.

Cheese factor & exposition

Contrary to popular belief, it is easy to be cheesy.  Exposition and info dumps are the bane of a good story’s existence.  I don’t like a story where things are constantly explained or dumbed down.  Cliche also falls into the cheese factor camp.  Unfortunately things are cliche for a reason, because they are true or good ideas, so sometimes one can’t avoid it altogether but it’s best to try wherever possible.  The stories that keep me up all night are the one’s with high amounts of realism (this can be achieved even in fantasy) and low exposition.

Keep moving

I love a story that moves swiftly.  I want to be pulled along on an adventure, I want to get lost in other worlds and learn new things.  Good pace is essential to keeping my attention.


Defying expectations

I’m currently trying to read Game of Thrones.  It’s a bit of a slog for me because it’s so rich in detail.  High fantasy has always been a tough nut for me to crack because of that, but what I love about the concept of Game of Thrones is that Mr. Martin writes with the specific intention of defying expectations.  I like that.  I want to be surprised, shocked and even horrified.  I want to experience things and think about things in ways I never would have thought of myself.  Because that’s the joy of reading to me, exploring the depths of other people’s minds and lives.

Solid Characters

If a character is solid enough I’ll care about them even if they’re sitting there eating cheese and playing solitaire.  Good characters are the foundation of a great story.

A little love

I like a little love.  If it’s all war and politics and business it eventually gets boring to me, and unrealistic.  Love is all around us, it motivates us and permeates the fabric of our existence.  Without a little love in our lives, things tend to fall flat.

Those are a few of my thoughts on what makes a good read…tell me about yours.

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!