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2014 Ontario Writers’ Conference, IF YOU DARE!

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The Ontario Writers’ Conference have done it again! This week they announced the addition of Canada’s Horror King, Andrew Pyper, to their list of speakers! (click on the image below to go to the OWC website’s bio of Andrew Pyper)

Andrew-Pyper

Pyper is no stranger to the Ontario Writers’ Conference stage. He spoke a couple years back. He’s charming and extremely funny, the perfect addition to what looks like an extraordinary year for the conference!

In case you have not yet registered for the conference, now is a great time to do so. With a little over a month left to go before the conference date, I’m quite sure space is filling up fast. You DON’T want to miss Andrew Pyper.

Along with Pyper, of course, you will also get to see the wonderfully gregarious and charming WAYSON CHOY, the conference’s Honourary Patron. Wayson has been with the conference since its inception. He’s a dear friend to all of us involved with the conference, past, present and future. I thoroughly enjoy my Wayson time. There is something absolutely magical about that man. You will have to attend the conference to experience it. I always joke about being a member in the Church of Wayson, but to tell you the truth…it is never a joke. I adore him completely. (Click on the picture below to view Wayson’s bio at the OWC website)

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These are just two of the many amazing facilitators/speakers that the Ontario Writers’ Conference has lined up this year. You can head over to the Speaker/Facilitator page for the full listing:

ONTARIO WRITERS’ CONFERENCE 2014 SPEAKER & FACILITATOR LINE-UP!

You can check out the conference schedule here:

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

 

Treat yourself to a remarkable writing adventure this May. Give yourself the gift of knowledge and register for the Ontario Writers’ Conference. You’ll be glad you did.

REGISTRATION PAGE

Don’t forget that there’s a gala event on Friday that is open to the public. You do not need to attend the conference to take in the FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS.

I’m excited that my writing instructor and mentor from Kenya, Catherine Bush, is in the line-up for Friday’s Festival of Authors. I adore her writing, and it’s always amazing to hear the words directly from the author. I’m so looking forward to it! (Click on the image below to go to Catherine Bush’s bio on the OWC website)

Catherine-Bush

This event takes place in Ajax, Ontario…which is mere minutes from downtown Toronto. VENUE & DIRECTIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE. Hope to see you there!

 

 

April WCDR Roundtable Meeting Registration!

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It’s almost time for the monthly WCDR Roundtable Meeting again. For those who don’t know about it, this is a networking meeting for writers. Perhaps the greatest monthly networking meeting for writers in Ontario, if not Canada, if not the world. I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

In case you’re a writer living in Toronto and you’ve never experienced a WCDR meeting, this blog post is for you. I just wanted to remind Toronto writers that Ajax is a mere ten minutes east of the city. And these meetings are open AND welcoming to everyone. It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t matter where on your writing path you are. ALL ARE WELCOME. And made to feel welcomed. This is a supportive, nurturing community. If you fully embrace that first-time-in-a-new-place-with-people-you-don’t-know fear…you will be rewarded. The WCDR has completely changed my life, and if you give it a chance it can do the same for you.

Some people have joked that we’re a cult, but honestly…we’re not. We just care for one another and want nothing but the best for each other. We are all writers, and we know and understand the lonely path that writing can sometimes be. We celebrate each other at these meetings. And there is always room for more.

A little bit about APRIL’s MEETING:

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April 12, 2014 WCDR Roundtable Meeting Speaker Chris Alexander
April 12, 2014 WCDR Roundtable Meeting Speaker Chris Alexander

From the WCDR WEBSITE: About the presentation

Magazine editor, filmmaker, writer and horror film enthusiast Chris Alexander has long used his words as tools to survive, to thrive and most importantly, make entertaining, edifying pop art. In this presentation, Alexander will tell true tales about how he followed his own path – with alternately superlative and exhausting results – to forge a career using a lifelong adoration of strange cinema as the base. In the process, he self-educated himself about business, the creative process and ultimately, the human condition.

Join Alexander as he discusses the importance of finding your “voice” in your writing, in making something personal that is also commercial and in maximizing your time to be as prolific, positive and effective as possible. Buckle in for a lively, practical, passionate and hopefully useful lecture and discussion.

SPEAKER BIO:

Chris Alexander is a Canadian based, internationally published writer, filmmaker and editor-in-chief of such magazines as FANGORIA, GOREZONE and Full Moon Entertainment’s house magazine, DELIRIUM. As a filmmaker he is the writer, director and composer of the multi-award winning vampire film BLOOD FOR IRINA and its upcoming follow-up/sequel QUEEN OF BLOOD. As a journalist he was a columnist for RUE MORGUE Magazine for 6 years before taking over as Editor-in-chief of iconic NYC based horror periodical FANGORIA in 2009. He has written thousands of feature articles in various publications and periodicals, and is currently at work on his second book, THE TWILIGHT ZONE LEGACY coming in 2014 from Bear Manor Media.

WHERE/WHEN/REGISTER:

CLICK THIS LINK

Sounds like yet another not-to-be-missed meeting! Hope to see you there.

WCDR MISSION STATEMENT: The Writers’ Community of Durham Region encourages writers at all levels; offers opportunities for support, education and networking; and promotes the value of writers and writing.

Learn all about the WCDR at their website:

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Check out past issues of the WCDR Wordweaver newsletter:

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Check out the amazing sister site for writers who read!

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Immerse Yourself – Do Writerly Things and You Will Be a Writer!

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This past weekend was a major ‘Writerly Weekend‘ for me. Well, technically the weekend actually began Thursday night. That was the night I was locked into Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. As one of six playwrights taking part in Driftwood Theatre’s Trafalgar24 Play Creation Festival, I was given headshots of two actors, a theme and a room in the castle in which to set my play. Oh, and eight hours to write it! (-:

This is the first of my 5 Trafalgar24 playwright gigs where I knew of the actors prior to writing my play. Let me tell you how much more intimidating that is! I had the amazingly talented Christopher Kelk and the equally stunning Adriano Sobretodo JR. I think I spent the first thirty minutes or so just looking at their headshots and thinking, ‘I have to write words that will come out of these two mouths!!!???‘ I have seen Adriano in various TV roles and I have had the good fortune of witnessing Christopher lob one after the other of his Trafalgar24 roles out of the park…not to mention some of his other works. They are both veterans in their field.

After my initial shock, I sat down to write a play. I really was incredibly fortunate to get two such talented actors. To be honest, I have yet to see a Trafalgar24 actor I wasn’t totally impressed with. The event attracts the best of the best to the ever-shifting ‘stages’ of Trafalgar Castle.

This was the first year I tackled a drama for Trafalgar. I just couldn’t put Christopher in a comedy. Talk about taking chances! But I believe the risk paid off. After seeing the play performed on Friday night, I knew I had made the right choice. Both actors performed beautifully, and the director, Carly Chamberlain, made some excellent choices in choosing the business of the play. I loved the direction. It’s the same every year. On Friday morning, I feel as though I am leaving the castle having left behind this meager offering of a few words on paper. And then the elves show up and make my Walmart flip-flops into Jimmy Choos. Every year, the director and actors transform my play into something far more spectacular than it was when I was finished with it. Theatre is such an extremely interactive and collaborative thing, and I am always amazed by the contribution that goes into a play once the words are on paper. It’s sheer magic.

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I did say it was a writerly weekend, right? Well, the WCDR Roundtable Meeting took place on Saturday. This was a special edition Roundtable. I was part of the planning committee for the WCDR U25 Panel Discussion, and it was an absolute pleasure to see it come to fruition. The panel was made up of Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) authors. And my own agent, Stacey Donaghy, moderated the event (quite beautifully, I might add).

When we set out to create this particular Roundtable Meeting, we had the concept of a mini half-day conference in mind. And that is exactly how it panned out. We had 3 agents on hand, taking pitch sessions from hopeful authors. We had the panel discussion, and workshops for both adults and young adults. There is a writing contest for the young adults who attended, we had a tremendous load of giveaways which were collected by various sponsors. The whole thing just had the feel of a conference, tightly compacted into a few hours on a Saturday morning.

To get the whole story of what you missed, click here. (-:

We were thrilled to have the following authors on the panel: Deborah Kerbel, Joanne Levy, K.A. Tucker, Norah McClintock, and Lesley Livingston. And sponsorship! We had sponsorship. (-: Penguin Random House, Writescape, and Ink Slingers were all generous in their sponsorship of the event.

The Panel - A Phono
The Panel – A Phono

I can’t really take all that much credit for U25. The brains behind the event was my writing friend, M-E Girard, someone who, herself, will be sitting on panels in the very near future. Remember her name. She’s a kickass writer who is about to explode onto the horizon. (-: As I recently stepped down from the WCDR Board of Directors, M-E did the lion’s share of the work on U25. And she did it up beautifully. I was happy to be slightly involved.

M-E and I, being silly at the podium. If Ellen can do it at the Oscars, we can do it at the WCDR Roundtable Meeting. (-:
M-E and I, being silly at the podium. If Ellen can do it at the Oscars, we can do it at the WCDR Roundtable Meeting. (-:

For those in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) who missed the WCDR U25 Panel Discussion, don’t forget that the WCDR Roundtable Meetings happen every month but one…throughout the year. Every one is a nugget for writers. You should seriously check them out. They take place in Ajax, Ontario…which, believe it or not, is only about half an hour from downtown Toronto. If you’re in Toronto, don’t be shy…because the Writers’ Community of Durham Region welcomes EVERYONE. And, honestly, there is life EAST OF THE CITY. The WCDR is only a short ride away. And it is a VAST and welcoming community. So over the top worth the drive. CHECK OUT THE MONTHLY MEETINGS HERE.

Whatever you do, and wherever you do it…make sure you’re getting enough WRITERLY things into your life. They validate the journey. Trust me! The more you live the writing life, the easier it gets. And TAKE CHANCES. Stretch your limits. Try things you never thought in a million years you could pull off. When I first petitioned Driftwood Theatre to take part in my first Trafalgar24 event, I had exactly ZERO plays under my belt. I didn’t let that stop me. We grow when we push ourselves. We discover that we’re stronger than we thought we were. Next time you see a writerly opportunity that sounds amazing, whether or not you feel confident enough to tackle it, take it on! You may have to put on your superhero suit…but that’s okay. Whatever works, right. Now go forth, and conquer your writing life. It’s waiting for you…

My Return to the Castle! (Trafalgar24)

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Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario
Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario

I recently mentioned that I had some super secret news. We’re now allowed to talk about it. (-;

On Thursday March 6th I have the distinct pleasure of being locked inside Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario for the 5th time! FIVE TIMES. FIVE! Count ‘em! Five! (-:

With the tagline, 24 ARTISTS. 24 HOURS. 6 NEW PLAYS., you just know it’s the one must-see event of the year in these parts. There is nothing quite as extraordinary as Trafalgar24.

outside the castle

I don’t know how I get so lucky. Sometimes, it’s hard being a writer (shhhh…not really). But at other times, it’s quite the fairytale. Trafalgar is my fairytale.

Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario
Trafalgar Castle, Whitby, Ontario

I enjoy everything about this play festival. I love the anticipation of waiting to see which room my play will be set in, how many actors I will be given to work with, whether those actors will be male, female or both. I love arriving at the castle at night and knowing I won’t be leaving until daylight. I love knowing that when I do leave the castle the next morning, that I leave behind a complete 10-minute play. For one night a year, I’m the elf…leaving behind a hopefully stunning pair of shoes for the shoemaker to discover.

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I love knowing that as I’m driving away from the castle, there are a group of eager (and probably a little scared, anxious and excited) actors and directors arriving to rehearse the plays we playwrights leave behind. I love knowing that within those castle walls, for the entirety of the day, there is creation happening…actors are becoming the characters we leave behind, making them bigger and better and full of life. And directors are envisioning the perfect business to attach to the playwrights’ words. SO MUCH MAGIC!

front entrance inside

And as I arrive back at the castle, a little after nightfall, there is an air of highly electrified excitement. The actors are there, the directors are there, the volunteer soldiers of the Driftwood Theatre Company are there. And the opening ceremonies see the castle fill to the rafters with audience members eager to see what delights are in store for them this year! Delights both culinary and theatrical…as the dessert bar at Trafalgar 24 is renown.

The audience, broken into 6 groups, tours the castle and sees all 6 of the plays in the 6 castle rooms chosen for the event.

Playwrights have no idea going in which room they will get to write their play in. To date, I’ve had the basement, the piano room, the auditorium and the lab. I love getting to my room, taking a walk around and trying to figure out what will happen there. So far, each room has spoken to me. I can’t wait to see where I get put this year!

If you have not yet grabbed your Trafalgar24 ticket, I suggest you do it now. This event sells out yearly:

TRAFALGAR24 TICKETS

DRIFTWOOD THEATRE GROUP’S TRAFALGAR24 WEBPAGE

See you at the castle!

From Driftwood’s Webpage:

Trafalgar 24 is a fundraising event in support of driftwood theatre

Every March, 24 playwrights, directors and actors get locked into a 19th century castle nestled in Whitby, Ontario, for a theatre creation event unlike any other. Using the castle as inspiration, their challenge is to create, rehearse and perform six new plays in only 24 hours.

This extraordinary festival is also Driftwood’s signature fundraising gala. Be among an exclusive audience to witness six new site-specific plays; feast on a fabulous selection of wine, cheese and desserts; find spectacular deals on entertainment, electronics, services, art and more at our silent auction; and help discover Driftwood’s next Beyond The Castle playwright.

March 7, 2014 | Trafalgar Castle | 401 Richmond Street, Whitby.

castle front