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Link to Order TWC Anthology Copies

Posted by on 20 Oct 2020 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Click here to order all 3 Toronto Writers Collective anthologies, including the latest, pictured in the post under this one.

New Anthology On The Way

Posted by on 09 Jul 2020 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Front Lines: Bent Not Broken - 3d in the Toronto Writers Collective anthology series

“Tick-Tick” is my piece in this anthology. It’s the third in the Front Lines series the Toronto Writers Collective has published. The pandemic has postponed its launch, now being planned in conjunction with Harbourfront’s Toronto International Festival of Authors; again, the pandemic will determine details. Meanwhile, authors received our copies of the book, and purchase info (both paperback and e-book) will be posted on the TWC website soon.

I’ve blogged here before about writing my memoir, based on my high school teaching years. As well, I’ve posted when selections from it have reached the world, for example, as public readings. This is the second time something’s been included in a book for sale – so proud!

The tale is about an event one of my classes and I experienced. Here’s a bit from it.

“As the scene [of the D-Day invasion, from Saving Private Ryan] is ending…Sounds are coming from elsewhere, too. The school’s public address system is failing to overmaster Steven Spielberg. I press Stop. ‘Lockdown, lockdown,’ we hear…”

Professional Writers Association of Canada amalgamation update

Posted by on 01 Apr 2020 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The Canadian Freelance Guild has launched. Professional Writers Association of Canada members have received our emails, inviting us to join. A PWAC member for more than three decades, I’ve found deciding whether or not to continue my commitment through this transition to the CFG extremely challenging. I submitted my resignation from PWAC’s board of directors, effective today, April 1. And I’ve decided not to become a CFG member. Members of PWAC and of our board have all been extremely understanding and respectful of my perspective. After I ceased active freelance writing, I maintained my PWAC membership because I wanted to support Canada’s freelance community. The new CFG is part of a labour union. When I was a high school teacher, I was active in the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, representing my school at our local branch in various capacities over the years. That activity makes my support for organized labour clear. I don’t feel right joining the CFG, though, simply because labour unions get their members’ dues from their members’ earnings, and I have not earned any significant sums from freelance writing for a very long time. My trying to show my support for the freelance community by becoming a CFG member would be counterproductive, I believe. The CFG needs members who are active freelancers, and I know, as I keyboard, active freelancers are clicking through to join. Here’s the link. I wish the CFG every success.

PWAC/CMG-Freelance Transition Committee, February 6, 2020: from left (back) Scott Edmonds, George Butters, David Petrie, Paul Verhaegh, Ellen Michelson, Don Genova, Carmel Smyth, Gerry Whelan; (front) Anna Bianca Roach, Trudy Kelly Forsythe, Christine Peets, Kathe Lieber, Doreen Pendgracs, Lisa Caroglanian Dorazio

Consider reading your work in public.

Posted by on 08 Feb 2020 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The Toronto Public Library’s Annette Street branch (145 Annette, west of Keele) features open mic evenings. Each highlights an author whose work is part of the library system’s holdings, other invited writers, and successful applicants. At the Annette Street’s Tuesday, February 25 Open Mic (6-8p.m.), I’ll be reading a scene from the short play I’m working on now. The scene’s other character, I’m happy to say, will be read by librarian-author Bernadette Gabay Dyer. Click here for more info on the event and how you can apply to read.

Annette Street Public Library
https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/annette/


Professional Writers Association of Canada’s future

Posted by on 25 Jan 2020 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

We voted on PWAC’s future on January 14, 2020, at an online special general meeting. We’re going to dissolve PWAC and amalgamate with the Canadian Media Guild Freelance Branch to form a new organization, the Canadian Freelance Guild.

This change is huge. PWAC has been a national arts service organization (NASO). CMG-F is associated with the Communication Workers of America-Canada, a labour union. Our bigger numbers will be an advantage in today’s freelancing world, but our legal and organizational adjustments will be considerable.

The history of centuries of guilds grounds our new organization and builds confidence, I think.

Our combined boards had our first online meeting two days ago, on January 23. We’re getting together in person for two days early in February. Our tasks include, for example, combining membership criteria and dues payment systems from both organizations. Our first AGM will likely be in October.

Ontario RD

Posted by on 30 Aug 2019 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Professional Writers Association of Canada logo

Doreen Pendgracs, recently elected president of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, emailed me a week or so ago, asking if I’d fill a vacancy on the board.

(Yummy aside here: most PWAC members have specialties. Doreen’s is chocolate! https://chocolatour.net/ )

Back to PWAC: although I’ve been a member for more than thirty years, I was awed and terrified by Doreen’s request. Support from my predecessor, details from our past president … emails reassured me, useful docs attached enlightened me. My appointment as regional director for Ontario became official during our board meeting yesterday evening, a virtual meeting because our organization stretches across the country. I’m honoured to be able to give back to the association that gave me so much throughout my active days as a freelance writer. Adventure awaits.

Certainly

Posted by on 02 Apr 2019 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Certainly, a new play by Ellen Michelson - Jane Carnwath, director; Damon Lum, coordinator
A high school teacher loves her students. About to retire, she receives her toughest assignment ever. A renowned historical figure provides support via a young colleague, and a school caretaker takes an interest. Catastrophe averted?

A talkback will follow the staged reading of this short play. Come, laugh, groan, sigh, and share your views.

info on location, etc.: email ellen (at) ellenmichelson.ca

City of Fredericton Writing Award

Posted by on 24 Dec 2018 | Tagged as: Uncategorized


Surprise – a certificate! The city of Fredericton created a contest in connection with the Professional Writers Association of Canada’s 2017 meeting there. The blogpost cited several posts below (with the riverside photo) was my entry. My goal wasn’t to win. I hoped to share some of our conference with those who didn’t attend, and show appreciation to our host city. At our 2018 PWAC meeting, I received the certificate, and learned a gift package was to follow. The mug, by a Fredericton crafter, brings me happy thoughts of strolling across the river on the bridge as the shallow concavity in its handle nestles against my thumb.

Fellow PWACer Doreen Pendgracs won the same award, also with a blogpost. Hers is less about PWAC, more about Fredericton. Click here to explore it. If you’ve been there, you’ll recognize what you enjoyed; if you’ve not, you’ll learn about the city.

New Year’s Resolution

Posted by on 31 Dec 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Revelation: format affects self-feedback. Editing on my screen brought – I hope – improvement. Reading my book draft on my tablet yielded different insights. Notes made brought – I hope – further improvement. Next: careful study of the manuscript in hard copy. What will be revealed?

Open Mic Night, Parliament Street Library, Nov. 28, 2017, 6:30-8pm

Posted by on 27 Nov 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

All welcome – no charge. The featured reader is Olive Senior, poet and author of fiction and non-fiction. Others will be reading, too; some are members of the writing group that meets Monday evenings at the Toronto Public Library branch on the south side of Gerrard Street just west of Parliament. I’ll be reading a bit about one of my students from my memoir-in-progress.

Olive Senior (image: Caroline Forbes)

Olive Senior (image: Caroline Forbes)

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority … and garden hoses

Posted by on 20 Sep 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, held its AGM yesterday. Because you’re reading this in a .ca domain, CIRA sent me an email explaining how I could listen online.

I knew nothing about CIRA. I learned my ignorance is not surprising: the firm I pay for this domain’s registration pays CIRA.

In yesterday’s presentations, CIRA people explained their research shows the .ca domain suffix is regarded highly around the world. That claim led to questions about possible nefarious .ca users. CIRA checks that .ca domain holders are in fact Canada-based. As for scammers and violence fomenters, CIRA opposes censorship, so takes down no websites, regardless of content, but supports authorities in their application of fraud and hate laws.

Pundit Terry O’Reilly, the featured guest speaker, entertained and informed. You want to really, really bother your competitors, he emphasized. One tool is the .ca domain, because it can differentiate you from them. He urged assessing every way potential and actual clients interact with a firm, and asked us to think about “What is stepping on your garden hose?”

CIRA urges all .ca holders to become members of the organization. It’s free. I haven’t joined yet, because I’m not sure how my membership would help either CIRA or me.

10 Editing Steps (sometimes seconds, sometimes days – or lots longer – between them)

Posted by on 15 Sep 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

1. Phew: ready. This section could be working.
2. Hmm: that remark a character made halfway through. And maybe the ending could be ramped up. Better have a look.
3. Yes: fix the remark, and the ending.
4. Also: a couple more things.
5. Perfect: wouldn’t want to ruin the new concepts by writing them into the manuscript, though.
6. Um: might as well try.
7. And: fix the other stuff the fixing turned up. And re-try, maybe revert to the original where the fixing turns out to be goofy.
8. Oh: tweak words in other sections of the manuscript memory, and the Find function, have revealed.
9. Again: re-read the section. Better now?
10. Finally: it’s never done. And I’m never sure.

The Power of Naming Characters

Posted by on 30 Jul 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Following a story with main characters called Doug and Don would frustrate me, unless the author made clear the specific reason for interchangeable, similar-sounding names. A historical tale, a story set in well-known location with a homogeneous population, limit name choices. That my memoir features personalities from all over the world, action not far back in the past, is my good luck.

My challenge has been the number of characters. Winnowing my teaching experiences to about a dozen and a half vignettes about my students, interspersed with shorter snapshots, has resulted in a manuscript with over a hundred names of students and colleagues. Nobody (but me) has her/his ‘real’ name. As well, ethnicities, ages, genders, appearances are altered, characters combined, to prevent identification.

Most pieces feature only a few characters, so avoiding the Doug and Don concern has been manageable. Yet, if the main character in one vignette is Lisa, perhaps the student teacher in a couple of others shouldn’t be Elissa. After a while, I started a list of names; checking it got more complex as my manuscript grew.

Tricks:

  •  Vary the number of syllables among names in a piece. Some names have four or five.
  •  Avoid using the same initial for more than one character in a piece.
  •  Start some names with consonants, others with vowels.
  •  Especially in a piece with many characters, consider a double letter in one name, a hyphen in another, an accent…
  •  Avoid final letter and end-sound duplication. If both Kendal and Dougal are essential, end one with ll. Harder to spot are similar sounds with different spellings. If Marie is the main character, perhaps her sister shouldn’t be Emily.
  •  Vary ethnicities if plausible. Doing so comes naturally for stories about Toronto high school students. It’s possible to search online for names of various ethnicities. Some websites give names’ meanings. Some sites are more reliable and useful than others. Watch out for scary-looking url’s.

Not all characters need both given names and surnames. Most of my student characters lack surnames. Some parents coin names; I’ve coined no given names for my characters. I have coined surnames, because any surname significantly less oommon than Smith will surely belong to someone identifiable, who, if s/he discovers my book, may be distressed. I’ve not found the coined names online, have rejected many surnames that turn out to belong to actual people. I hope very common names for minor characters don’t infringe.

Some real people, living and dead, appear in my manuscript. Some, not all, of their names limit name choices. I often taught twentieth-century Canadian history. John Diefenbaker appears, as does a character I’ve named John, but because Lester B. Pearson appears, no other character is named Lester.

I want to feel each name I choose somehow suits that character. This is emotional, visceral, with little basis in fact. Sometimes, naming a character takes an unexpected amount of time. Choices that ring true to me work in reverse, helping me know the characters better, so I can write more clearly about them.

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