The Last Post of 2015

SFE_120108_0721Hello dear readers:

I will be doffing this cap as writer in residence officially at 11:59 pm on Thursday, December 31, 2015.

It’s been a grand year.  I thank all of you who trusted me with your words and who took time to visit or attend workshops and special events.  Truly, it was an honour and a privilege.

2016 will see me returning to my own writng regime and travelling to Serbia, Croatia, and nearby countries to research my novel.  I also hope to finish up my book of poetry.  Of course, I will still be mentoring writers in my role at YouthWrite and beyond.  It is a role I take seriously.  If you have a few moments, please read this very fine essay by Nick Ripatrazone.  I found it a piece of truth and beauty, wise words for any writing mentor or English teacher:

“You need to love words. You don’t need to love a certain type of book or a particular writer, but you need to love letters and phrases and the possibilities of language. You will spend most of your days dealing with words, and students can sense if words do not bring you joy.” – 55 Thoughts for English Teachers

I wish you peace and joy this season.  May 2016 see us open our hearts and minds to this world, its creatures and people.  The world could use a little more compassion.

Best wishes for your writing,


This week’s great un-/ undersung CanLit title worth checking out:

The Gardens Where She Dreams Rebecca Luce-Kapler explores the dimensions of a woman’s experience from early memory through young infatuation toward deepening insight as an adult. A beautiful and lyrical reflection on the life and art of Emily Carr.  Quintessentially Canadian!

Writing Quote: ““I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams, English writer (1952-2001)

Writing Tips:  “Vigorous writing is concise.” ~William Strunk Jr.

Writing Prompt: Whilst digging in your garden, you find a…

Image by Stuart Freedman:  UK – London – A performer (Mummer) dressed as the Holly Man – the winter guise of the Green Man – processes along the Thames in a traditional ‘wassail’ ritual to welcome the New Year


Welcome to the 2016 Writers in Residence: Marty Chan and Wayne Arthurson!

We are just in the process of adding the details about another exciting year of Regional WIR programming and consultations. Please check back to this site for that information within the next 2 weeks.

In the meantime, please check out this news release from the Edmonton Public Library: Libraries Set to Welcome 2016 Writers in Residence.

The three regional libraries will welcome Marty Chan as our WIR this year, and he has already provided some FAQs about his services.

Marty Chan’s FAQs

Q: I’ve always wanted to write, but I’ve been too busy with work and life. What advice can you give someone who wants to start writing?

A:  If the story you want to share with the world is important, make time to write it before you do anything else. Get up 20 minutes early and sit down at your computer, typewriter or notepad and write for at least 15 minutes. Then you can get on with your day. If you do this often enough, writing will become a part of your routine. Increase the time you write by 5-minute intervals and before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to the first draft of a novel, short story, stage play, poetry collection, screenplay, etc. Remember, it’s never too late to start.

Q: Will you give me feedback on my writing?

A: Yes, that’s my job as the Metro writer in residence. Please limit your submissions to 5 pages (12 point font, single-sided and double-spaced).

Q: How do I submit my writing sample?

A: Please contact me first. The best way to reach me is through email at or You can also leave a voicemail at (780) 240-1194. The easiest way to send me material is via email.

Q: What are your office hours? Can I drop in?

A: My hours will vary from month to month. I’ll post them on my door or post them on this webpage. Your best bet of getting a meeting is to email or call ahead.

Q: What kind of writing can I send you?

A: I’m happy to read anything you’re willing to submit. It doesn’t matter if you’re six, sixteen or sixty, you can send me your work. I’m open to reading any genre, but keep in mind that I’ll probably give the most constructive feedback in my areas of expertise: theatre, radio, television and kids fiction. If you want to get a sense of what I write, please visit my website ( or check out one of my books from the library.

Q: When you give feedback on my writing, will you make me cry?

A: Only if you want me to. No, I won’t. I’ll be gentle with notes.

Q: I have a great idea, but I don’t know how to write it. Will you write it for me?

A: And cheat you out of the joy of writing? No. I couldn’t do that to you. The only person qualified to write your story is you. I would be a poor substitute and I wouldn’t do your story justice. Plus, I have my own projects to work on and I need the time to convince Susin Nielsen to write them for me.

Q:  Can I meet with you about anything other than my writing sample?

A: Yes, I’m a fan of zombie movies and barbecue rib recipes. If you want to talk about the business of writing, we can talk about whatever is on your mind.

Q: Can you find me an agent or publisher?

A: No, but I can point you to some resources to help you research agents and publishers.

Q: Do you know the secret of how to get published or produced?

A: Yes. I also know the meaning of life, the secret location of Bigfoot, and the real reason planes and ships go missing in the Bermuda triangle. On a serious note, there is no one right path to success. The joy is in the journey, even in the missteps. If I had one secret to divulge, it would be that all successful writers share one trait: a passion to write even in the face of rejection.

Wine and Words – You’re Invited!

wine_and_words_inviteLiz Withey and I are delighted to host this evening featuring the words of four of our 2015 clients and the music of ALL(most)JAZZ!

Hope you can join us!


This week’s great un-/ undersung CanLit title worth checking out:

The Hunter and the Wild Girl Pauline Holdstock In 19th century France, a deep gorge in a small village divides two people: a feral girl living in the forest and a lonely hunter, forever scarred by a terrible accident. When they meet, they form an unlikely bond and their lives forever change. A moving book about friendship, connection and freedom. (Just listed as one of CBC’s 2015 Best Books.)

Writing Quote: “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”—Eugene Ionesco, Romanian-French playwright (1909-1994)

Writing Tips:  “During my very early writing, certainly before I’d published, I began to learn characters will come alive if you back the f*** off. It was exciting, and even a little terrifying. If you allow them to do what they’re going to do, think and feel what they’re going to think and feel, things start to happen on their own. It’s a beautiful and exciting alchemy. And all these years later, that’s the thrill I write to get: to feel things start to happen on their own.

So I’ve learned over the years to free-fall into what’s happening. What happens then is, you start writing something you don’t even really want to write about. Things start to happen under your pencil that you don’t want to happen, or don’t understand. But that’s when the work starts to have a beating heart.”—Andre Dubus III

Writing Prompt: In “Mermaids and Matryoshkas: The Secret Life of a Poetic Sequence” by Sandra Beasley in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine, Matthea Harvey talks about “harvesting words from the dictionary… to create the vocabulary bank for new poems.” Grab a dictionary, flip through it, and put your finger down on a random page. Record the word you land on and go to the next page and write down the word that appears at the same spot, repeating until you have accumulated a vocabulary bank to work from. Write a poem by constructing surprising associations, perhaps thinking of familiar words in an unexpected way, or drawing a personal connection to a new term. (