Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

atsintziras's blog

Jennifer Close on Writing, Reading and Teaching

Yesterday, as it seemed to alternatively rain and stop raining, I sat at a tiny table in the lobby of a Toronto Harbourfront-area hotel. "Hi!" Jennifer Close said as she walked over, with her red hair and a navy dress with white polka dots on it. "Did you come in before you missed it? It seemed like there was lightning!"

Jennifer was in town for a few days this week (she lives in Washington) promoting her second novel, THE SMART ONE, which is witty and funny and an amazing read. She had been up since 6:15 that morning for an appearance on Canada AM, had tweeted for Random House from 11 a.m. to noon, and was preparing for a reading last night at Harbourfront.

My Last Post!

As I write this the wind is howling and the snow is falling, which would make it the perfect writing afternoon. But instead I'm doing homework for my copyediting class. Which is at least related to writing...

Today is the last day of my time as WIR for Open Book: Toronto! It has flown by. I've really enjoyed getting the chance to write about writing and reading.

I thought I'd finish with some recent links on writing and publishing.

Here's an excerpt from the new book Why We Write and an interview with Jodi Picoult, one of my favourite authors:

An interesting piece on whether it's okay to find humour in The Bell Jar:

Reading As a Kid

I come from a family of avid, passionate readers. Reading was a big part of my childhood, from my parents reading to me when I was little, from the Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban tape I listened to on repeat on car rides to Florida for our annual winter vacation, to the Babysitter's Club and Franklin books I devoured. That's why it's so inspiring to watch two kids I know -- Owen (aged 6) and Leah (aged 3), children of family friends -- grow up with a strong love of reading.

Why Poetry Matters

In high school, I wrote (really cheesy) poetry. Like a lot of teenagers! I stopped once I started university, but I never stopped loving the genre. Throughout my undergrad at the University of Toronto I was involved with two literary journals -- Acta Victoriana and The Hart House Review. This was really fun and it was nice to be involved in something creative, and to talk to others who loved poetry, too.

Poetry matters because, at its heart, it is a celebration of words.

Of course all writing and stories are made up of words too, but poems especially are about the beauty of language.

Take my favourite poem as an example. I love "Diving into the Wreck" by feminist poet Adrienne Rich. Here's my favourite passage:

"I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.

How TV Can Make You a Better Writer

We all know you should read books in the genre you write in. But what about watching TV shows in the genre you write in? For example, if you write adult fiction, what better way to learn how to craft dramatic story arcs than watching Mad Men or Breaking Bad or (my personal favourite) The Good Wife?

Since I write young adult, I love watching teen shows. Some of them are cheesy and only function as guilty pleasures. Others are really well crafted and inspire me to write better. My two favourites for plotting are The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars. Sometimes these shows teach you what is too crazy or melodramatic, but other times, they show you what compelling, surprising storytelling is.

Some Thoughts on Writing Classes

There are a lot of debates on the topic of whether writing can be taught. Stephen King gives his opinion (he's against them) in his amazing book On Writing. The quality of the class depends on the people involved -- the teacher and the other students. Because it's ultimately about getting feedback. Which is what I believe writing classes really come down to: teaching you how to handle constructive criticism.

The Joys of Creative Non-Fiction

Creative Non-Fiction, also called Literary Non-Fiction or sometimes the Literature of Fact, is basically non-fiction written like fiction. The "creative" or "literary" part comes from the use of literary devices like dialogue, foreshadowing, character development, emotion, word choice, etc. I got a crash course in this genre when I took a U of T Continuing Ed. course last year with Andrew Westoll, who won the 2012 Charles Taylor Prize for his book, The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary.

Love Children's Lit? Some Creative Outlets in the City

Interested in children's literature? Want to visit a specialty bookstore or take a writing class? Here are some creative outlets in Toronto to express your passion for this genre.

Take a trip to Mabel's Fables (, 662 Mount Pleasant Road)

This children's bookstore was a favourite of mine growing up, and chances are a lot of Toronto residents have fond memories of visiting this store as kids. Visit the website for a list of upcoming events, readings, and classes. You can also take your young kids there for storytelling time.

Sign up for the Writing for the Children's Market class at Ryerson's Chang School

An Interview with Kendra Martin

Today I have an interview with Kendra Martin ( Read on for details on her publishing job, why she wanted a job working with books, and what she's reading right now.

1.) Tell us about your job in a few sentences.

I work for publisher James Lorimer & Company handling publicity and promotion.

2.) What made you want to work in publishing? What's your background?

My passion for reading lead me to take an English degree at university. Soon I discovered my editing skills and love for books could translate into an actual career path, so I took the leap into the world of Canadian publishing. And now I never need to worry about not having something good to read ever again!

3.) Describe a typical day.

An Interview with Sharon Jennings

Sharon Jennings is a multi-published children’s author living in Toronto. For a full bio and a list of her books, you can visit her website here:

Read on to see what Sharon says about her background, why she writes for children, and why the absence of a routine works for her!

Why did you want to become a writer?

I never ‘wanted’ to become a writer: I gradually became aware that I was fascinated with story structure, had always been a voracious reader, and that I had stories to tell. I had a Master’s in English literature and had worked as an editor for many years. When I had my three children, I put it all together and began writing for kids.

What led you to the children’s book genre?

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