Farewell, Fort Saskatchewan…

11694269So it’s so long, but not goodbye.  I’ve made some lovely friends here in the Fort.  And I want to send out a special thank you to the wonderful staff of the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library, especially Stacey Wenger and David Larsen.  It’s been a truly enjoyable time here with all of you.

YouthWrite will consume me for the next two weeks, but I’ll don my WIR motley again on July 13th at St. Albert Public Library.  You can reach me there at regionalwir@gmail.com, but I’ll be incommunicado until then.

Happy summer all!

Happy birthday, Yann Martel!

Writing Quote: “If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.”- Yann Martel, Canadian novelist (b. 1963)

Writing Tip:  “If you write genre fiction, you follow the rules, and you have to follow them because readers expect that. The strength and weakness, I suppose, of literary fiction is that it has no such conventions. A great literary work can be completely, completely unpredictable. Which can sometimes make them very hard to read, but it gives them a great originality. Writers have to decide where they stand in that continuum of genre-driven fiction to literary fiction, and you can do that only by playing by the rules, and then breaking the rules and seeing where you’re comfortable. Any writer will be happy and good only if they know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. You have to play around until you find something you’re comfortable with.” – Yann Martel

Writing Prompt: “It is true that those we meet can change us, sometimes so profoundly that we are not the same afterwards, even unto our names.” – Yann Martel   Respond!

You’re Invited to Songs of Innocence & Experience

Please join me and friends in an exploration of poetry and song this Tuesday, June 16 at 7 pm at Fort Saskatchewan Library

SonBlake_sie_covergs of Innocence and Experience:  Explore the connections between rhythm and rhyme, poetry and song. Join Gail (who’s also a professional singer) and special musical guests, Angela Flatekval, Kevin McCann and Geoff McMaster, to talk about how these forms are interconnected, and how poets and songwriters can inform and enrich each other’s writing practice and performance. Plus, learn how you can record and edit your own songs using the library’s Music Creation Station.


Unknown-1Angela Flatekval has led a vast and varied creative life.  From choirs and cheerleading in high school to the Arthur Murray years to Theatre Arts at Grant MacEwan to working with local companies (such as The Mayfield and Workshop West) to founding, producing and performing with the independent theatre company The Unconscious Collective through to now parenting and working with the wee-est of artists as a Kindermusik educator, expression through movement, music and physicality is first nature to her.


UnknownKevin McCann grew up in Edmonton where he was immersed in music and theatre, attended Victoria School, and after graduation, the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC. Kevin loves music, and during his school years received training in classical guitar, piano and voice. He’s had many wonderful experiences, from competing in local music festivals to singing “Bring Him Home” with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. Kevin is an avid reader, and has been inhaling fantasy novels since he knew they existed.

1926905_10152233587814116_103656239_nGeoffrey McMaster is a video producer, news writer and editor at the University of Alberta, and a jack of many trades. A university brat, he holds a number of English degrees (specializing in American and African American literature) as well as a degree in journalism from Ryerson. He has been a university professor and an instructor at YouthWrite®. As a freelance video director, he works closely with Jeff Allen Productions, Inc. While non-fiction in-depth pieces and video documentaries are his forté, he is also a photographer and an accomplished musician.

Writing Quote:  “Social media is a giant distraction to the ultimate aim, which is honing your craft as a songwriter. There are people who are exceptional at it, however, and if you can do both things, then that’s fantastic, but if you are a writer, the time is better spent on a clever lyric than a clever tweet.” Bryan Adams, Canadian singer songwriter (born 1959)
Writing Tip: Check out this blog: The poetry of songwriting: 10 top writing tips from howtowritebetter.net

Song Writing Prompt:   Title:  “Playing with Matches”  Run with it, songsmiths!

How much can I quote? (or how to thieve but not break copyright)



8434683455_6f101169c0_bFair Dealing by Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dRkXwP

I get this question often.

It’s an important one because as creators, we don’t want to steal from our fellow artists, lest we be likewise stolen from (forgive my ending with a preposition).

Wouldn’t it be nice to include in your next novel a quote from J.D. Salinger or that perfect line from a Shakespearean sonnet?  Yay to the latter, nope to the former.  Why?  Because Shakespeare is dead and his works are in the Public Domain, while J.D. Salinger, though dead, has only been so for five years, and his works are still under copyright.

In Canada we use the term “fair dealing,” while the States uses the term “fair use.” It’s  important to distinguish between these two terms. The fair use exception in U.S. copyright law is NOT the equivalent of fair dealing in Canadian law, and wording of the two exceptions is different. Make sure that you consider the Canadian law and are not relying on U.S. information, which has no jurisdiction in Canada. In Canada, fair dealing for the purpose of research, private study, education, parody or satire does not infringe copyright.

Copyright basics – Insubstantial/Substantial (from Concordia University)

“The Copyright Act (s.3) protects substantial parts of works as well as whole works.

Since “substantial” is not defined in the Act, the quantity and importance of what is being copied must be evaluated. In deciding whether a part of a work is considered substantial, the whole work must be taken into account. A few sentences from a novel would probably be considered insubstantial but a single line from a poem might be essential to the work and be considered substantial.”

From the International James Joyce Foundation:  Under Canadian “‘fair-dealing’ provisions, the following uses do not infringe copyright:

  • for the purpose of research or private study
  • for the purpose of criticism, review, or news reporting, so long as the source and the name of the author are mentioned
  • for purposes of instruction to make a manual reproduction of a work onto a display board or to make a copy of a work to be used on an overhead projector
  • live, not-for-profit performance of a work by students at an educational institution before an audience consisting primarily of students and instructors.

Factors that may be considered in determining fair dealing in Canada… include the purpose and character of the use, the amount of the use, the alternatives to the use, the nature of the copyrighted work, and the effect of the use on that work. As with U.K. fair dealing, fair dealing in Canada… is generally less flexible and broadly construed than the fair-use doctrine in the U.S.; fair dealing… tends to be categorically limited to the purposes set forth above.”

So, if you really need that quotation, best to use the words of someone long dead or to seek permission from the copyright holder (necessitating payment, very often a substantial even prohibitive sum for a writer or a publishing house).

For more informed detail on Canadian fair dealing, visit Michael Geist’s excellent blog page.

Writing Quote:  “Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I’m writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is. – Anne Rice, American author (b. 1941).
Writing Tip: The Guardian’s “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.” (Part Two)

Writing Prompt:  Write a poem or prose anecdote about yourself in which nothing is true.