Member services


Talk: What to Expect when you’re Expecting a Book Baby

Taking a book from a word document to the shelf can be a long process, filled with plenty of unknowns, hard labor, and thrilling milestones. I’ll share my own experience, as well as offer insight into what to expect through (and beyond) that debut year…and how to enjoy the process. Hint: it involves preparation, persistence, professionalism, and a peer group.


Workshop: Slaying the Synopsis

A synopsis has one job: to summarize your novel or writing project, from beginning to end, without flashy bells and whistles. It differs from a query letter in that its purpose is to showcase the entire narrative arc rather than simply highlight the major plot points and main character’s journey. The synopsis also provides structure to a blossoming book idea, so you can catch plot pitfalls and soggy character arcs…all before committing a single word to the page. However, regardless of its benefits, the synopsis is one of the most dreaded and loathed writing tools out there. In this workshop I’ll offer practical tips and tricks for how to write a killer synopsis that gets the job done, without losing your mind — or your creative energy — while you do.



KARMA BROWN is a National Magazine award-winning journalist, freelance writer, and author of the international bestsellers COME AWAY WITH ME (MIRA/HarperCollins)—a Globe & Mail Top 100 Books for 2015—and THE CHOICES WE MAKE (MIRA/HarperCollins). A former marketing director and copywriter, Karma now spends much time mulling plot lines in coffee shops and lives just outside Toronto with her family. Her third novel, EVERY MOMENT (Park Row Books/HarperCollins), will be published June 2017.


Dorothy Sjöholm, one of our members who happens to be quite a brilliant poet has posted this generous offer. I’m certain it will be a very stimulating  creative opportunity:

I recently moved to Barrie and am interested in hosting a weekly study and workshopping session in my home. You don’t have to be an accomplished poet to participate, just someone who loves poetry, and wants to read and discuss the works of great poets as well as developing your own writing skills in a supportive environment.
Please email me at if this sounds like something you might enjoy.

Dorothy Sjöholm

Dorothy S

Dorothy Sjöholm recently completed an MFA in Creative Writing through the optional residency program at UBC. Her work has appeared in journals in Canada, England and U.S.A. including The Antigonish Review, The Adirondack Review, Lichen, Jones Av., and Aesthetica and has won recognition from The Scarborough Arts Council, The Ontario Poetry Society, and The Writers’ Community of Durham Region.

allanOn Sunday, November 15, editor, publisher, poet, and literary consultant, Allan Briesmaster will speak on the business of small publishing in Canada. He’ll give an insider’s perspective from his extensive experience in the industry, detailing the mechanics, the struggles, the management of submissions, and the handling of rejections.

For the workshop following the talk, Literary Editing: How One Publisher Does It, Allan has offered to comment on up to four (4) pages of work submitted in advance.

We are so fortunate to have such generous and wise guest speakers!

Allan Briesmaster is a freelance editor and publisher. He has his own micro press, Aeolus House, and is one of the founding partners in Quattro Books. He is the author of 12 previous books and chapbooks, including Confluences (Seraphim Editions, 2009), After Evening Wine (Alfred Gustav Press, 2011), and Against the Flight of Spring (Quattro Books, 2013). His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and he has read his work and given talks on editing and publishing in venues from Victoria to St. John’s. He lives in Thornhill, Ontario with his wife Holly, a visual artist with whom he has collaborated on several projects in recent years.

Don’t miss WCSC’s next meeting with Shawn Syms.

June 21

The Long and the Short of It

The Art and Commerce of Short Fiction

Many consider short fiction a way to “break in” to the literary-fiction publishing market – but it is a distinct artform, to which many people devote entire careers. Short stories offer a vision of life that is distilled and essential. Shawn Syms, a short-fiction author and critic, will discuss what differentiates the best short stories. He’ll also offer personal insights on how to strategically manage your publication-seeking efforts – and increase the likelihood that the right editor at the right publication will see your most well-suited story at the right moment. There will be ample opportunity for questions and conversation.


Optional Workshop to follow the talk:

From Inspiration to Distillation

In short fiction, every word counts. In this workshop, Shawn will explore the opposing personae that one must inhabit in order to successfully compose short stories – the Dreamer, and the Butcher. Through some entertaining and stimulating writing prompts, participants will let their creative juices flow. Then, after reviewing some tips, best practices and examples, we will ruthlessly edit our work such that it is transformed – for the better.

Shawn Syms has written for over 25 years for more than 50 publications. Shawn wrote the short-fiction collection Nothing Looks Familiar, a National Post pick for the Top Books of 2014 recently seized by the Michigan Department of Corrections because it “may encourage criminal activity.” Shawn is currently at work on a novel about the power of filthy lucre, fetishistic sex and compulsive gambling called Money Changes Everything.

Click to register


Wayson Choy, beloved patron of the Ontario Writers’ Conference, mentor, and author speaks for the Simcoe County Writers on March 22. His story is full of surprises, shocks, and delights, delivered with disarming candor and humility. What he has to say about life and the world of words enriches and touches everyone who has the good fortune to hear him.

After his talk, Wayson Choy will lead a one-hour workshop on beginnings. Participants are invited to send the first two pages of their intended or finished story to workshop with the group.

Please send submissions to

Wayson Choy’s bestselling debut novel, The Jade Peony, shared the Trillium Book Award for best book in 1995 and won the 1996 City of Vancouver Book Award. Its companion novel, All That Matters, also won a Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the 2005 Giller Prize. His first memoir, Paper Shadows, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the Charles Taylor Prize and the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize. Choy’s second memoir, Not Yet, is the bonds of love and family that sustain us, framed by Choy’s own two near-death experiences.

Is your writing dead or alive?

It’s a compelling issue in the craft of writing. This February 22nd Toronto novelist Susan Swan will focus on how to make your work live on the page. Swan has been a published author and creative writing teacher for over 30 years and she can show you some of the professional techniques she’s used in her own fiction, which has been published to acclaim in sixteen countries.

BONUS: WCSC Workshop participants are encouraged to send up to 12 pages of their own prose to by Sunday, February 8.

More information about writing is available on her website Be sure not to miss her website blogs on Anxiety Pancakes: Life in the Middle of a Novel.


Journalist, feminist, novelist, activist, teacher, Susan Swan’s impact on the Canadian literary and political scene has been far-reaching. Her critically acclaimed fiction has been published in sixteen countries. Susan Swan’s new novel, The Western Light, was published in the fall of 2012. It shares a narrator with her international bestseller, The Wives of Bath. The Western Light was nominated as one of the best books of 2012 fiction and non-fiction by the Ontario Library Association. A feature film based on The Wives of Bath was released in the summer of 2001 in the U.S. and Canada under the title Lost and Delirious. The film was written by Judith Thompson and starred Mischa Barton, Piper Parabo and Jessica Pare. It was shown in 32 countries and picked for premiere selection at Sundance and Berlin Film Festival 2001.


Writing What’s in Front of You:
Narrative Nonfiction and the Personal Eye

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with Ian Brown

In a world of 24-hour news cycles, instantaneous Twitter feeds and countless other digital distractions, well-written long-form narrative non-fiction (essays, journalism, memoirs, true stories) is making a comeback. Why? And how? How does the non-fiction writer decide what to write about? And how does one write nonfiction that people want to read?

Journalist, author and Chair of  Literary Journalism at Banff, Ian Brown will speak at WCSC’s January meeting on the craft of journalism.

Following the talk, he will also offer a one-hour workshop where participants are invited to bring an idea for a piece of longform nonfiction in order to discuss its approach and process.

In addition to having been Rogers Communication Chair for Literary Journalism at Banff for five years, Ian Brown is an acclaimed roving feature writer for the Globe and Mail. He is equally well-known for his work on CBC radio, where he was the moderator of Talking Books for more than a decade, and hosted Sunday Morning and Later the Same Day. He also presents pre-eminent television documentary shows on TVO’s Doc Studio. With Paul Tough, he founded open letters, the first online magazine of first person journalism in letter form. He is the author of FreeWheeling–which won the National Business Book Award–and Man Overboard, and most recently edited the anthology What I Meant to Say: The Private Lives of Men. His most recent book, The Boy in the Moon, was chosen by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of 2010. In his spare time he paints, reads and skis in the back-country. He lives in Toronto with his wife and two children.

To register for the meeting and workshop, please click here: registration

with Carlos Vilchez

Carlos Vilchez Poster

elfin mad manJoin us on Sunday, October 19 for an afternoon of laughter and learning with comedy writer, Bruce Pirrie.

In his talk, A Perfectly Good day Ruined, or But Enough about You, Bruce will share snippets of his career as an actor, improviser, television writer (Red Green, Second City Live), feature film writer,  book editor (Sue Kenney’s My Camino, Confessions of a Pilgrim) stage (Second City) and television (Caution: May Contain Nuts) director and producer. He will then take questions.

The workshop which will follow a break for lunch,  titled, Making your Writing Laughable, will consist of both the structural analysis of a Second City sketch and utilizing improvisation techniques as a guide for writing pretty much anything.


Bruce graduated from York University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, majoring in Film Production and English.  After working for a short time in a film library, he made a fateful decision and took a beginner’s improvisation class at The Second City.  After a few weeks he was invited to audition for a spot in the cast of the Second City Touring Company (the ‘farm team” for the Second City Mainstage).  He auditioned successfully, joined the company, and has been living with that fateful choice ever since.

Bruce then began a long and fruitful association with Second City that saw him move from being an actor in the Touring Company, to a lauded Mainstage performer at the legendary Old Firehall who wrote and performed in six reviews.  He then turned to directing and created 12 original shows for Second City theatres in Toronto, Las Vegas and Chicago.

Bruce has also been a Head Writer, Director and Producer of various Second City stage, television and film projects. Through this association with Second City Bruce has been nominated and received various national awards including; Dora Mavor Moores, Geminis, and the Canadian Comedy Awards.  But more important than awards, Bruce had the pleasure of working with the Who’s Who of Second City, which also means he has worked with some of the greatest comic performers of the last twenty-five years.

He has a vast range of experience in stage, television, radio and film and draws on the experience and insight accumulated from his years as an improviser, actor, writer and director.

Recently Bruce has written for The Ron James Show and was nominated for a Gemini Award in 2010 for “Best Director in a Comedy Series.

He teaches comedy writing and performing at Humber College and Ryerson University in Toronto.

To register for the meeting and workshop, please go to:


Everything You’ve ever Wanted to Know about Self-Publishing,

but were Afraid to Ask

Over two million self-published books hit the marketplace in North America every year. If you’re contemplating doing it all by yourself and hoping your book will get noticed in today’s massive marketplace, you need to know the fundamentals that will give you, and your future as an author, a fighting chance. Join Micro-Press Publisher James Dewar in an honest and thorough discussion about the pros and cons of self-publishing. James will describe each of the critical steps in preparing your book for publication, offer tips on how to budget each step, and generate a discussion about how living The Artist’s Way will ensure that you have a wonderful experience throughout the entire process.

James Dewar is the publisher and editor of Piquant Press. In 2011 James and his partner Sue Reynolds launched Stone’s Throw Publications, designed specifically to help authors who need help during the publishing process finding quality editors, printers, graphic designers, layout experts and retail platforms. James enjoys educating new authors in the essential steps of self-publication and the many options available for author promotion. He can customize any project. The most important thing that James encourages authors to learn is how to read the fine print and retain the full copyright of their material.

James and Sue have published over 90 books through their two printing houses.

James can be contacted through

Optional Workshop:

1)   Part one: Book layout and printing tips for self-publishers

2)   Part two: Finding the fine print on a sample publishing contract

James will provide detailed hand-outs for all participants


Don't live in Simcoe County?

We are connected to a number of other writing communities in Ontario. Click on the links below to be directed to a writers' community nearer to you:

Durham Region
(Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Port Perry, Uxbridge, Beaverton)

York Region
(Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket, King, Vaughan, Whitchurch-Stouffville, East Gwillimbury, Georgina Townships)

Mississauga/Etobicoke WEN

(Minden, Haliburton, Carnarvon, Dorset, West Guilford, Oxtongue Lake)