Tag Archives: Writers and Editors Network

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has happened: the terrified introvert within me, which normally looms so large, has dwindled, and my reservations have been replaced by excitement.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 mcappa@rogers.com. 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 mcappa@rogers.com.

Opportunities Lost and Found

The idea of attending networking events used to seem about as appealing to me as the thought of having all my teeth extracted. I always envisioned standing around morosely eating chips and dip and listening to the chattier people do most of the talking.

Then I actually started going to networking meetings. My decision to network formally happened when I joined the Writers and Editors Network (WEN) an organization that, inexplicably and sadly, has no apostrophes in its name. It turns out that WEN has   breakfast networking meetings. Indeed, it could be said that for many members these meetings are the focus of membership. Once a month, at an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning, I haul myself over to the subway station and travel to the extreme west end of the city, where I eat a buffet breakfast at 9 a.m. with a table full of strangers while I am still only semi-conscious.

Before I went to the first meeting, I assumed the experience would be utterly nerve-wracking. Wouldn’t I be required to impress the hell out of my fellow writers and editors and get work to boot? Oh, the pressure! But it turned out that my semi-conscious state worked to my advantage. Honestly, I wasn’t that worked up about impressing anyone. I was too tired and undercaffeinated to care, which meant that I didn’t try to be the extroverted person I thought I should be for such occasions; I was just my normal self. And because of that, I met lots of nice people with whom I exchanged business cards and with whom I’ve chatted at subsequent meetings. Isn’t that exactly what’s supposed to happen?

Not trying too hard is definitely a plus when you’re attending networking meetings, but not trying when opportunity is handed to you on a silver platter is really not recommended. At one meeting I attended, I was sitting with a woman who got up from the table to surreptitiously place copies of her book on a table at the front of the room that was reserved for member books and flyers. When she came back, I said that I’d noticed her book and asked her what it was about.

“It’s creative non-fiction,” she said, without even a glimmer of enthusiasm. And she clearly thought that identifying the genre of the book was sufficient. Suffering from a bad back, she went on to describe her pain with considerably more energy than she’d had for her book, and a gloomy silence swept over our table of strangers.

It was an example of what’s not supposed to happen at these meetings, and furthermore, it was an opportunity lost for the author. Where was her elevator speech, the one that would make me feel that her book had something unique to offer me and was worthy of my attention? And her lack of curiosity about what I do for a living didn’t win her any points, either.

I contrast her approach (or rather, her non-approach) with that of another woman I met at the meeting, who as soon as she heard I was an editor, excitedly asked me about my work. When I asked her about her writing, she gave me the gist of her young adult novel. We exchanged cards, and she also handed me a glossy flyer featuring her book. It was an equal exchange and a satisfying one. Guess who I’ll want to speak with at future meetings? It won’t be the woman who was complaining about her back.