Category Archives: Workshops and Seminars

Toronto Workshop for Self-Publishing Writers about Working with Editors

Well, I’m finally doing something I couldn’t have imagined a few months ago–I’m giving a two-hour workshop about editing. The folks from Writers and Editors Network (WEN), a group to which I belong, asked me to give the workshop. Though it’s hardly as terrifying as skydiving, I must admit that I had serious reservations when I was first approached. It wasn’t that I was afraid I couldn’t come up with enough material; it was simply the old fear of public speaking rearing its head. But as I’ve become immersed in preparing, a remarkable thing has happened: the terrified introvert within me, which normally looms so large, has dwindled, and my reservations have been replaced by excitement. That’s what happens when you enjoy what you do for a living and are eager to share what you’ve learned over the years.

So what are we going to do for two hours? The title of the workshop is Working with Editors: What Writers Need to Know. We’ll be exploring a number of topics, including how editing makes your manuscript more publishable, finding editors and choosing the best one for you, how editors charge, understanding the different types of editing and what they involve, determining what sort of editing your manuscript needs, and developing self-editing skills to save you time and money. Writers will develop a real understanding of the process of working with an editor, will learn to speak the language of editors, and will walk away knowing much more about how editors can help them create their best possible work. It promises to be a fun, interactive morning!

If you live in the Toronto area, I’d love you to come out. Here are all the pertinent details:

Working with Editors: What Writers Need to Know

A Writers and Editors Network (WEN) workshop presented by Caroline Kaiser

Saturday, April 27th, 10:00 a.m. to noon

Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, Room 304

$10 for WEN members, $20 for non-members

Preregistration is required by contacting Prepayment is also required. Please send cheques to WEN, c/o Maurus Cappa, 251 McKee Avenue, Toronto, On, M2N 4E2.

Bring your red pen and your curiosity. Hope to see you there!

The Fine Art of Reading Your Work in Public

Recently, I signed on to read an excerpt from the novel I’m writing, Virginia’s Ghost, at the July 21st meeting of the Writers and Editors Network (WEN). It’s been eons since I’ve read anything before an audience. I’ve often thought that apart from dealing with the inevitable frayed nerves, reading in public seems straightforward enough. You don’t have to memorize anything, so mostly what you need to do is just get up there and read as expressively as you can, right? Is that really so hard?

I learned how woefully ignorant I was about public-speaking techniques this past weekend when I attended a workshop given by Heather Dick of the Sirius Theatrical Company called Speak! Capture! Empower! The day-long workshop is specifically designed for authors and other speakers who read in public. The goal is to discover how you can best grab and hold the attention of your listeners. When Heather first told me about the workshop, I was eager to sign up and learn how I could “lift the words off the page” (as she likes to say) and successfully avoid prompting my listeners to catch up on their sleep.

Heather Dick of Sirius Theatrical Company

I instinctively knew that Heather’s workshop would be well worth my while. She is a vibrant woman who sparkles with energy, humour, and confidence, and if anyone could transmit public-speaking smarts to me, it would be her. I also knew that she seriously (or siriusly, if you’ll pardon the pun) knows her stuff. After all, Heather has acted in, directed, or produced more than seventy shows across Canada, has numerous film and TV roles to her credit, and has been teaching acting for twenty-five years. And in 1989, she started the Sirius Theatrical Company.

One of the things we talked about in Heather’s workshop was freeing our voices. Stress and other factors that have accumulated throughout our lives limit our voices, so it’s no wonder they often sound weak and strained. What to do? We learned a series of exercises designed to free our muscles so that we can in turn free our voices and realize their full potential. We also learned how to breathe naturally and to balance ourselves properly to support our voices. We practised our diction by reading Gilbert and Sullivan lyrics, and learned how to interpret text by reading poetry, employing many tools that would increase the power and expressive quality of our words. As well, we reviewed the texts we’d brought to read, marking them up in ways that would aid our reading.

Then the time came to take the stage and practise our text before a small audience of workshop participants. But first, we learned how to cope with both a microphone and our pages of text, which was not as easy as it sounds. Next, Heather reviewed how to best make the sort of entrance that would immediately engage an audience, which was something I’d never given any thought to before. As well, we learned how to make a gracious exit.

When I got up to do my reading, I felt the tension tightening in my chest and the butterflies fluttering in my stomach, but I remembered Heather’s instructions about what to do before starting, and gradually the stress dissipated. I know that my voice faltered here and there, and that I read some passages too slowly and didn’t always manage to convey the depth of feeling I was after, but I certainly did much better than I would have without Heather’s instruction. And what’s more, once I got rolling and fell into the rhythm of my words, I was having a blast. Even better, I now have an array of wonderful, shiny new public-speaking tools at my disposal that I can use when practising my text for the big day. When July 21st rolls around and I’m called upon to take the stage, I’ll definitely be ready.

Writers and Editors Network (WEN) Seminars

A group I joined recently, the Writers and Editors Network (WEN) offers informative seminars that they call Writers’ Circle Special Sessions. This Saturday morning, they’re starting off the new year with a bang by presenting two dynamic speakers, Dave Cook and Hans von Maltzahn, both of whom I had the good fortune to meet at the WEN Christmas breakfast networking meeting.

Dave’s session is called Marketing Your Book. He is the author of several books, including the Fading History: Stories of Historical Interest series, and he attends some seventy-five events per year successfully selling his books. He’ll be discussing targeting your market, and he also plans to bring along his complete booth set-up for the shows he attends so you can see exactly how he promotes his work. Dave is a former Mississauga councillor who later ran for mayor in 2010, so I expect that he knows more than a thing or two about promotion!

Hans will be presenting a session called How to Create an E-book. This topic is something that he and I discussed at length during the Christmas meeting. It’s clear to me that he knows how to take the mystery out of this subject for the many writers who are just getting their feet wet in the self-publishing world and want basic information, such as how to obtain an ISBN. Hans is the author of The Black Sun Ascendant: An Assassin’s Tale. The book is the first in a trilogy of Black Sun books, and I understand that he’s hard at work on the second instalment.

I confess that I’m eagerly awaiting what these two speakers have to say. You can hear them this Saturday, January 7th, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Fairview Mall Library, 4th floor. The library is located at 35 Fairview Mall Drive in the Don Mills Road and Sheppard Avenue East area of Toronto. The cost is just $10 and includes coffee and cookies. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Maurus Cappa at