Great Canadian Novel


Brian Moore, known as “the Irish novelist of conscience” set his book, “The Luck of Ginger Coffey” in Montreal, Canada. Moore was a Canadian citizen and won the Governor General’s Award for fiction twice. Many of his award winning novels, including  “The Luck of Ginger Coffey”  were made into films. I had no idea this was a Canadian book with so many  surprises and that I would enjoy it so much.

His book tells the story of Ginger, an Irish immigrant to Canada, who seeks to provide for his family while navigating the labour market and the complexities of married life. Ginger is a principled dreamer who loves deeply and values adventure and freedom over class and religious boundaries.

Brian Moore deftly carries readers into Ginger’s often humorous thoughts and inner turmoil.  The raw honesty expressed by this endearing philosopher move me deeply. I care about Ginger’s fate as he struggles with the reality of loss and the meaning of life.

Moore sprinkles his novel with insightful discourses on concepts such as sacrifice and adds ironic commentary on the nature of Canada’s psyche and heritage. “The Luck of Ginger Coffey” takes readers into unexpected territory and invites us to embrace the often perilous journey of love.


A book was recommended when I went to the Surrey Writer’s Conference entitled “Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us A (Sort Of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected” by Jessica Page Morrell. I spotted it on a table, promptly bought it and have marked it up rather well. She claims that less than one percent of submissions are accepted!

It is written in a funny, friendly, kind of way, albeit with some sharp edges of honesty, as she encourages writers to strive for excellence and avoid the rejection pile. Ms. Morrell is an editor and has read many manuscripts that gave her insights into what to avoid if you hope to get an agent or publisher to notice your work. You want the editor to tell the marketing department that your manuscript is a winner? This book is full of tips to make it happen.

Are you familiar with the 3 Act Structure, plotpoints, backstory, subplots, the ideal length of sentences and paragraphs? Who knew we should find powerful verbs and minimize adverbs? This book begs us to pay attention to our genres, character motivation, prologue and scene development and see this as a worthwile learning process. Ms. Morrell suggests we keep our research ideas in one place, preferably a binder, start a list of words that intrigue us and use the Chicago Manual of Style for reference.

Jessica Morrell says writers should be open to good critique as writing is a craft. She suggests an agent wants to represent someone who is sane so if you have some mental health issues, get help now. If you are writing that first draft quickly, as she recommends, please keep eating, sleeping, and socializing while minimizing substance use as healthy people tend to be the most successful writers. I heartily recommend this book!

WordStorm; a community resource

Suppose an agent and publisher had just accepted your book and wanted you to do a book tour. Are you ready to stand up in front of strangers and read a passage? Might as well begin to practice now!

In my city I discovered WordStorm, a place where writers of all stripes can sign up to read a three minute excerpt from their work. I signed up two minutes before it started by putting my name on the bottom of the list on the table by the door. The audience claps enthusiastically for each reader. There’s then a brief intermission with snacks and then two featured poets/writers shared their creativity. It’s a good way to hear some published authors as they share some of their journey directly.

I can state with clarity that I know what will happen if you never let anyone see your writing. Nothing will happen. Maybe someone will appreciate it once you lose the ability to protest but who knows if you’ll be conscious then to notice.

Begin by reading a passage from your writing to someone in your community. You may get another shy writer to sidle up to you at the break and whisper that they liked your poem. Maybe your bravery will encourage them and you’ll have the honour to have nudged the author of the next great North American novel forward.






Federation of B.C. Writers

A friendly lady at the Surrey Writer’s Conference encouraged me to join the Federation of B.C. Writers when I picked up a pamphlet. I did not need to be a published author to be a member. Connecting with locals sounded like an easy way to learn more about the world of writing so I bit.

Their website is so if you are in British Columbia this may be a good community to explore. You can post your author profile and links to your website here and introduce yourself. Other B.C. members are listed; perhaps you will discover your fave barista’s secret life. Authors have the opportunity to list their reading and signing events, check the calendar for upcoming contests with prize money, and find local writing groups across B.C.

The Federation of B.C. Writers has area representatives and I got invited to a meet and greet at a Nanoose Pub. Writers with extensive journalism and publishing backgrounds were welcoming and gladly shared information even though I have yet to write one book.

There’s now a newsletter in my email box informing me of a local poetry reading, various awards, and the opportunity to join an on-line critique group. Those who share resources and persist in writng, despite the distractions of reality, are a gift to aspiring authors!


Crime Writers of Canada

I am just beginning my investigation into the resources that are available to new writers and am happy to have found a Canadian Association which, so far, seems friendly and welcoming. I have joined Crime Writers of Canada and can’t help smiling as it sounds official! As I haven’t published a book yet I joined as an Associate Member and save a bit of money until I do. My name was added to their website and I could add a bio.

Readers can browse the site and see the variety of writers, styles, crimes, settings and book covers offered. It is a practical service which promotes these books to bookstores and interested readers. There are author event notifications as well as a newsletter.  I was in Chapters recently and started recognizing some of the Canadian authors on the shelves! Had no idea some of them were so well known internationally.

So far I have already been invited to attend several events. The holiday one in the pub sounds fun but Toronto is a bit too far to drive to. In January some authors will have the chance to have their books presented to librarians.

Writers who, in 2015,  published “light mystery” books, meaning those  with minimal gore, could try to win The Bony Blithe Award and receive a thousand dollars. Others can vie for the Arthur Ellis Awards and there’s even the possibility to win something if you have not yet published a book. I am looking forward to learning more about Canadian crime books and becoming a Professional Author Member!

Easy Tips Before You Pitch

I am just beginning to explore this world of writing and publishing and, as always, find that a bit of research at the onset saves brain cells later.

Before you head out to that conference or send off that email or letter to an agent or publisher, take a deep breath and congratulate yourself on having come this far.

Then analyze again as to how your book, poem or script will benefit the particular audience you are targeting. If you are wanting your writing to get a serious response, then make sure you know what it is they are looking for right now, how they want it presented and how they want it sent. If  you skip these steps and don’t bother reading their requirements, how likely is it they will read your submission long enough to see if it is quality work?

If you are at a writer’s conference, and have paid all that money to go, why not google the presenters in depth and really see which agent and agency sounds like it would be a good fit? Do they have a website listed and perhaps a blog as well? Do you feel comfortable with what they have shared so far and does it line up with what would be best for your writing style?

So you did the handshake and smile very well. You did not slouch! You even made sure your shoes were somewhat clean, your outfit classy and you just knew you exuded confidence. Why? Because you are a writer and you know you write well and you are eager to show off your work because you know it has potential! You want them to be interested in representing you!

Do you have a catchy one line hook to tell the agent what your stuff is about?

Are the pages you present to the agent at your pitch neatly presented, easy to find, and professionally edited? Even those with degrees in English may benefit from a veteran grammarian!

Did you research to figure out what the rules of your  genre are? I did not realize I was expected to open with action and that my nicely crafted page of setting was not a suitable first page! Ouch!

I found out there are rules for the number of words for each genre and that newbies might want to adhere to them until they become famous. Make sure you read up on the formatting of the pitch. Add details in the first two pages like your writing biography which may include other works you have published or your education. You may want a section that lists some  current comparable books and their publishers and dates to show it is a viable commodity.

Your writing baby is now a commodity as you try and flog it to the nicest bidder. This is business. Make sure you list some suggestions as to how you will help market your infant. Sure, you will do a book tour or website or facebook page, won’t you? LinkedIn has groups you will join quickly

So when the agent asks you what the book is about and you throw out that hook sentence, you are ready to share a brief synopsis of the story.  After all, you wrote out the two pages the night before. You know it flows smoothly and is intriguing.  This morning you sat on the hotel bench outside and repeated those two pages loudly, over and over, until they were fully memorized!

You are just waiting to be asked what your book is about and you know the agent will then want to read a few pages of your actual writing!

As you wait for the reading and answer any questions, you know you have prepared yourself well and you can handle it calmly when you hear the words, “Please send me the manuscript.”



Surrey International Writer’s Conference

I just returned from the Surrey International Writer’s Conference held every October and had a great time. It’s an amazing opportunity to attend excellent workshops, meet famous and, about to be famous, authors and hang out for the weekend with people who love words.

I attended Howard White’s workshop on “Writing Family History and Memoir”. Howard, owner of Harbour Publishing and the Canadian publishing house Douglas & McIntyre, is highly respected for his emphasis on capturing and valuing past stories about the lives of ‘ordinary’ workers in British Columbia.

Howard movingly recounted how he’d slowly coaxed his father, Frank, to share his life story over many decades. Frank passed away the week before Howard’s workshop and the two volume memoir Howard held up to show us is a wonderful tribute to the persistance of father and son.

I bought, and got signed, a book called BODILY HARM, by Robert Dugoni. It’s a gripping story in which attorney David Sloane investigates a toy that kills and then chooses to lose a court case because it is the loving thing to do. I have read a few of Dugoni’s books about this attorney and found myself actually caring about the success of his relationships.

Chip MacGregor and Holly Lorincz, both literary agents, wrote ‘ HOW CAN I FIND A LITERARY AGENT?’ as well as ‘STEP BY STEP: PITCHES AND PROPOSALS; A WORKBOOK FOR WRITERS.’ The two slender volumes came out in 2015, are easy to read, and are full of practical information for those hoping to find a wider audience for their work.

At dinner I had fun sitting beside Gail Sattler, a published author of more than 30 books. You never know who you might meet at this Conference and learn about new genres!

If you are looking to perfect your craft, find an agent, meet an author or just need encouragement to write again and pursue your dreams, consider investing in yourself and coming to the next Conference!


Welcome to my website. I live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.

I am thankful to live in this beautiful spot and for the amazing people I have met.

I am interested in social justice, political science, intriguing literature, and a good cup of coffee.

I am working on my novel and I look forward to sharing more with you soon!