Meet the Authors – Chapters Oshawa – Sharon Lennox and De

Deb Stratas

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Deb Stratas

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Bio: Deb has had a lifelong passion for the British monarchy and is a proud royalist. As a young wife herself, she connected with Princess Diana watching her royal wedding over 30 years ago. She thrilled to watch Diana’s son Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton on the streets of London in 2011. She also attended a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in 2014.

Deb’s first novel: Diana, A Spencer in Love is an historically accurate yet fictional view of Princess Diana’s first extraordinary year in royal life. It tells the story from Diana’s point-of-view exploring what she was thinking and feeling during this incredible time in her life.

Watch for the next two books by the Princess Diana Storyteller: Diana, A Spencer in Turmoil and Diana, A Spencer Forever to continue Princess Diana’s journey!

Deb lives in a suburb of Toronto, Canada happily surrounded by her adult children, their spouses and first grand-daughter.

Craft: Writer

Genre: Historical fiction

Available for: Speeches, workshops, etc.

Diana, A Spencer in Love

Book cover - Diana, A Spencer in LoveDiana, A Spencer in Love is a historical fiction published by Indigo Sea Press. It was published in April 2017 and is currently available on and

Watch official book trailer

TOR/FORGE Books Online Pitch

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September 15 – September 25, 2017

Melissa Ann Singer

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Melissa Ann Singer

Melissa Ann Singer has worked at Tor/Forge Books for more than 30 years. Before that, she spent several years at the Berkley Publishing Group. She is currently a Senior Editor and Manager of Editorial Operations, which means that in addition to editing, she builds procedures and does other things that keep the editorial department functioning. Primarily an editor of category fiction, she has edited in practically every genre, from western to romantic suspense and from horror to science fiction and fantasy. A native of NYC, she lives in a small apartment with a large cat.

What Melissa is looking for:

Genre fiction makes Melissa happy. As a reader, she’s plot-driven. A book’s story must make sense to her and must play fair with the reader, but she also expects convincing settings and living, breathing, characters. She doesn’t believe all protagonists must be likeable, but they must be compelling.

Send her:
  • Horror fiction, both supernatural and psychological, as well as gaslamp fantasy and dark fantasy. She’s open to anything creepy, frightening, or unsettling, from any tradition.
  • Epic fantasy, especially with a military bent.
  • Disaster stories (man-made or natural): killer avalanches, major wildfires, horrible diseases, plane crashes…preferably with a diverse cast of characters.
  • Thrillers with spies, moles, or whistleblowers or people discovering corporate or government conspiracies.
  • In mystery and suspense, she usually prefers professional sleuths:—cops and private eyes, forensic specialists and scientists. But she also loves romantic suspense and family-in-jeopardy.
  • She’s eager to see characters who represent the full spectrum of people in the real world and works by writers whose voices we have not heard before.
To submit, please go to the Online Pitches Facebook Page.

Words of the Season – Summer 2017

Words of the Season Returns Tuesday, June 20th, 2017!

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Pen it in and start writing. Come on down and bring your family and friends to the same convenient and accessible location. Hosted once again by the undeniably vibrant, witty and engaging Maaja Wentz.

Maaja Wentz Photograph
Maaja Wentz

La Rosa Ristorante
3050 Garden Street
Unit 102
Whitby, ON

Arrive as early as 6:00 pm.  Socialize, eat, enjoy a beverage – food and drink available for purchase.

Performances start at 7:00 pm.

Fully accessible venue.

Please note that all questions with ** beside them must be answered.

Your Name (first and last)**

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Your Bio:

October 14th – Mini-Workshop: Set Pieces

Set Pieces

Facilitator: Andrew Sullivan

Photograph of Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan

Overview: You don’t remember everything. Memory is a fickle thing, but there are certain moments people don’t forget, whether in their own lives, a movie, a novel or a even a short story. Creating these moments requires set pieces, larger than life moments that anchor you and stick with the reader long after they’ve set the pages down. This mini-workshop will focus on creating these moments in fiction–the spectacular set pieces you remember long after everything else has faded away.

BIO: Andrew F. Sullivan is from Oshawa, Ontario. He is the author of the novel WASTE (Dzanc Books), named a Best Book of the Year by The Globe & Mail, The Walrus, CBC Books, and The Writers’ Trust in 2016 and described as “one of the most violent novels CanLit has ever seen”by the CBC. His short story collection All We Want is Everything (ARP Books), was shortlisted for the ReLit Award for Short Fiction and named a Best Book of the Year by The Globe & Mail in 2013. Sullivan’s fiction and criticism haves appeared in places like the National Post, Hazlitt, TIFF, The Globe & MailThe New Quarterly, PRISM, Riddle Fence, Longform, and other publications. Sullivan now makes his home in Toronto.
Register for the Mini-Workshop when you register for the RoundTable.  

Paeans and Kudos April 2017

Jackie Brown

Outfox magazine imageJackie entered Outfox, the magazine she co-founded with WCDR member Jaq C. Reed, into the “Best Magazines 2017″ contest through the Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Outfox is for kids on the autism spectrum and is full of fun, facts, jokes and contests, all wrapped up in the message YOU ARE AWESOME.  This magazine also involves WCDR members Stan Taylor and Jesse Cameron.

Stephanie Gibeault

Stephanie won 5th place in the Institute of Children’s LIterature Middle Grade Adventure Contest.

Rich Helms

Rich was invited to present bread baking as Lucy Maud Montgomery did in the early 1900s vs. today, and to talk at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society luncheon series.

Janet Stobie

Kawartha Lakes Stories Winter book imageMy short story, Snowbound Miracle of 1944, has been accepted for an anthology of true local stories by authors living in the Kawartha Lakes.





Ruth Walker

Ruth was interviewed twice: this month on Storylines in Muskoka FM and last month on Words on the Hill in Northumberland FM.

May 6th – Mini-Workshop: How to Write Great Dialogue

How to Write Great Dialogue

Facilitator: Trevor Cole

Trevor Cole Photograph

Overview: Writing dialogue is not as easy as people think. The quickest way to determine whether a story is written by a good, experienced writer or a neophyte is to look at a few lines of the writer’s dialogue. Poorly written dialogue will ruin an otherwise well-conceived story. This mini workshop will give people insights into how to write dialogue that works.

BIO: Trevor Cole is an award-winning journalist and novelist. Way back when, he started in radio, writing ads for local businesses in Simcoe, Cornwall and Ottawa, Ont. He made the move to magazine journalism in the mid-eighties and ended up at The Globe and Mail, where he stayed for nearly fifteen years. As a journalist, he has won nine National Magazine awards and still writes for magazines such as Report on Business Magazine, Macleans and Toronto Life.

In the fall of 2000, surprising every right-thinking person, Trevor quit his full-time job at the Globe and Mail to write novels.

Book cover - The Whisky King by Trevor Cole

In his recently published book, The Whiskey King, Trevor delves into the dark history of prohibition, bootlegging and the dawn of the mafia in Canada, known then as The Black Hand. He introduces Canada’s first celebrity mobster, Rocco Perri, and the undercover mountie who tried to bring Perri and his common-law wife, Bessie Starkman, to justice.

His first two books — Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life and The Fearsome Particles — were both short-listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award and long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Norman Bray was also short-listed for the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Book in the Canada-Caribbean region.

Trevor’s third novel, Practical Jean, was nominated for the Rogers’ Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and won the famous Leacock Medal for Humour. His latest novel is Hope Makes Love, published by Cormorant Books. He lives in Toronto.

Catch the Buzz! News, Events, Online Pitches and more….

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Catch the Buzz is published weekly or bi-weekly to keep WCDR members and subscribers informed about upcoming RoundTables, Master Classes, writing events, writing contests, online pitches, and much more.

And now you can view Catch the Buzz on the WCDR website!

April 2, 2017 Catch the Buzz

Got News?

Do you have news about writing-related events, contests, pitches, etc. you’d like to see in Catch the Buzz?  Don’t be shy…tell us all about it!

Barbara Kyle – Your Inner Actor: How Writers Can Use Actors’ Techniques to Deliver “Deep Character” and Create Powerful Scenes – October 28, 2017

Your Inner Actor: How Writers Can Use Actors’ Techniques to Deliver “Deep Character” and Create Powerful Scenes

Facilitator: Barbara Kyle

Barbara Kyle


Date: Saturday, October 28, 2017

Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: Venue TBD

Room: TBD

Cost: $85 for members, $95 for non-members

Shakespeare was an actor. So was Dickens. And so are you when you give life to your characters on the page. In the “Your Inner Actor” master class, acclaimed novelist and former actor Barbara Kyle shares insights on how successful writers use actors’ techniques to write from the inside out, and to craft meaningful plots that lead to the central character’s transformation, whether from weakness to strength, or from ignorance to wisdom, however hard-won the victory may be.

The “Your Inner Actor” master class focuses on techniques to:

  • plumb your characters’ deepest motivations to propel the plot
  • craft emotionally authentic dialogue
  • “turn” a scene around characters’ desires and actions to yield the richest drama
  • build maximum power in your story’s pivotal “big scenes”: the inciting incident, the turning points, and the climax
  • plus, an interactive session on “Making an Entrance” shows how to design the most dynamic introductory scene for your protagonist

You’ll take home techniques that will guide you to create the kind of story that publishers want and readers praise.

About Barbara Kyle

Barbara Kyle is the author of the acclaimed Thornleigh Saga series of historical novels (“Riveting Tudor drama”– USA Today), and of thrillers, including Beyond Recall under pen-name Stephen Kyle, a Literary Guild Selection. Over 500,000 copies of her books have been sold. Before becoming an author, Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career that included leading roles in three TV series and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. Barbara has taught writers at the University of Toronto and is a popular presenter at writers’ conferences. As a writing mentor, she has launched many writers on the path to published success. Her latest book is Page-Turner: Your Path to Writing a Novel that Publishers Want and Readers Buy. Visit

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Member Spotlight on Heather Hamilton-Senter

A Conversation with Heather Hamilton-Senter

Marissa: Your bio speaks to being a singer, actor, and photographer. How did that path lead you into writing?

Heather Hamilton-Senter
Heather Hamilton-Senter

Heather: I’m a graduate of the Ryerson Theatre program and a member of Canadian Actors’ Equity. Singing was always my first love, followed closely by drawing, reading, and writing (all neck and neck), and I always knew that someday I would write a book. My university English professor tried to convince me to switch from the acting program because he felt my true calling was writing!

I worked for several years in the Toronto theatre scene, but when I married and had children that life became more difficult and I ‘retired’. I keep my hand in the game by directing community theatre. Once my youngest was in school full time, I knew it was finally time to write my book.

Prior to that, I won a national award in digital art and that led to work as a photographer, which eventually segued into work as a book cover designer. I became immersed in the self-publishing scene as a designer first. I had a prominent YA agent, but we parted ways amicably when we realized my book was too niche for traditional publishing. It was perfect for indie publishing though, and I was already educated and ready.

Marissa: I love that your books play with Arthurian legend. What drew you to that topic/genre?

Heather: My mom is from Ireland, and I grew up immersed in fairy tales and British mythology. One of my most treasured possessions was an illustrated book of Arthurian legends, and I guess it just stayed with me. The line between fantasy and reality often felt blurred in my family. I remember quite clearly being in Belfast, and my mom’s cousin—who was an author and known authority on Irish history—dragging me around the countryside looking for a certain fairy well, which was believed to have healing properties, so he could use its water to cure his mother’s blindness. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, but it felt so real in the moment!

Marissa: Congratulations on becoming an Amazon Best Seller! What sets your books apart?

Heather: Thanks! For the Arthurian series, I believe it resonates with people because of my ability to make unexpected connections between various world mythologies and even urban legends. I believe I present them in a way that is truthful to their origins, but twists them into something new. While that series is categorized as YA, it really crosses over to adult fantasy and urban fantasy. My most recent series is aimed at the paranormal cozy mystery audience.

Marissa: From writer to Indie Publishing champion, what drew you to helping others navigate the waters of self-publishing?

Heather: I just find it all so much fun! If someone can score a million dollar deal in trad pub, that’s fantastic, and I applaud them. But I come from other Arts disciplines where there is no shame or stigma to working independently, and it suits my personality. Over the past few years, however, I’ve seen far too many people go into self-publishing without researching it sufficiently or arming themselves with the right tools. I started a small press which published a cookbook last year, and an upcoming children’s picture book, but it’s not really my intention to publish others. I just want people to go into this venture with their eyes open, because while great rewards are very possible, it can also go very wrong if you’re not prepared!

Marissa: Your covers are compelling and represent their genre well. What motivated you to pursue cover design?

Heather: Again, it goes back to the multi-disciplinary nature of my background. My mother and grandmother are accomplished artists, and the lavishly illustrated fairy tale books I grew up with were huge influences. As a teen, I even dreamed of becoming a fantasy cover artist like Michael Whelan, but I had to make a decision about which path to follow in university, and I chose theatre. It’s so amazing that this new indie publishing world has allowed me to achieve not one, but two of my childhood dreams!

Marissa: You have a Master Class coming up in March for the WCDR. What will writers take away from your workshop?

Heather: The workshop assumes that they already know how to write a good book. Writers will take away with them a blueprint for getting their book ready for publication, through publication, to how you keep the book afloat in a sea of content afterwards. The main focus is marketing for the indie author, but marketing your book begins with the choices you make long before you hit the publish button. Beyond that, I’m happy to digress into whatever area of indie publishing the attendees have concerns about or are stuck on.

Marissa: What three key pieces of advice would you give writers on their path to publication?


  1. Whether you are interested in traditional or indie publishing, you need to understand that at its heart, all publishing is a business. While our art is important, putting a book out into the world is a matter of navigating an entire ecosystem that is based on one or another business model.
  2. Education, education, education. Whichever path you choose, be smart. Attend conferences, network with other authors and industry professionals. With the internet, writers now have no excuse not to be fully educated on the realities of their chosen profession.
  3. Be subjective about your art while you are creating it, but learn to be more objective once you are sending it out into the world. Don’t think you can create your own cover if you’re not a designer, or format your book if you know nothing about formatting. Hire whatever professionals you need to do the things you cannot do professionally. 

Visit Heather’s Website

Learn More About Cover Art Designs

Learn More About Indie Publishing

Don’t forget to check out Heather’s Master Class:
Navigating the Indie Publishing Landscape

Sign up is now available:

Date: Saturday, March 18, 2017

Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: Durham College – Whitby Campus

Room: 11-11

Cost: $85 for members, $95 for non-members