Member Spotlight on M-E Girard

Member Spotlight on M-E Girard

M-E Girard
M-E Girard

Gooood morning WCDRers and welcome back to another episode of Member Spotlights! Once again, I am your host, Dale Long. Today we showcase M-E Girard. I caught up with her after her book launch for Girl Mans Up, in September.

Dale Long: Thank you for being in the “hot seat” for us today, M-E.
You were a natural, by the way, and reinforced my belief that pitching face to face is much more productive that via e-mail.

Marie-Eve Girard: Thank you! I was really trying to make the launch “not boring” and worth people taking the time to come by.
As for the face-to-face pitching thing: I’ve never pitched in person, but I think that’s really the best way to get someone to pay attention and want to read. If you’re good at engaging someone, then yeah, it’ll probably pay off more than a cold query—which is how I got my agent. An in-person pitch is definitely one of the ways to skip the slush pile.

Dale Long: I loved your response to Ruth Walker’s great question; “was it hard to get published”. If I paraphrase it like this;
“When asked if getting published, M-E Girard said, the work to get to the publishing stage was absolutely hard, the getting published, wasn’t. She said she was in the right place at the right time.”
Would you say that was accurate? It’s what I took from it. And it is encouraging and endearing.

Marie-Eve Girard: I feel like I could clarify that. It’s like, the actually getting a book published, when looking at it from a macro lens, is definitely hard. For so many reasons that I could list. Writing a good book is hard; staying with it when you hate it is hard. All that. But when looking at it from just my experience, in hindsight, it wasn’t hard in the sense that I had my strategy, I did my work, and things fell into place at the right time so that I didn’t have to feel the effects of how hard it really is for a person to get published. I think I put myself in a place where I planned for the barriers to getting my book out (Canadian, debut, queer YA, etc), and I had a strategy to hit the right people, gain access to authors/mentors/facilitators, but the fact that it worked out ultimately, I feel, was out of my hands because of the whole timing & luck thing.
Does that make sense?

Dale Long: Perfect sense. Timing, definitely is a factor. I’m not going to say subject matter because I don’t want to downplay it as a marketing gimmick. But I can definitely see the marketer’s angle. And the market is ripe for that right now.

Marie-Eve Girard: People mean well by saying “Oh, your book appeals to anyone—it’s not a ‘gay’ story!,” it sort of fails to acknowledge that in the diversity world—the world of marginalized voices—my book coming out with the publisher it did, with the protagonist it has, and with the cover is has—all that is a big deal for diverse and queer YA. Also 2016 is a great year for queer YA which shows a shift in publishing, probably fueled by the diversity movements that are especially present in the YA world, and it’s incredibly important, but something I don’t want to reduce simply to marketing. Because the queer YA that has been published in recent years is quality stuff—such a variety of sophisticated, relevant, complex stories—and I don’t even want to act like it’s all owed to marketing jumping on the latest hot topic. It’s a direct result of the incredibly vocal, tireless advocates of the YA diversity movements. Despite all that, though, writing about people and stories that are outside of the mainstream remains a barrier to publishing.

Dale Long: Did you plan and organize that launch all by yourself, or was it organized and funded by your publisher?

Marie-Eve Girard: I organized them myself. But the bookseller and my publisher (HarperCollins Canada) jumped in to make it amazing. I created the events, picked the venues, the dates, the cool things I wanted to have (my yearbook canvas, the sign for the photos), and then they all shared it and promoted it via social media. I had my Toronto launch at Glad Day Bookshop’s cool new location, and the HarperCollins Canada team came for the event, and they brought swag and snacks with them. The publisher and bookseller weren’t physically there for the Ajax launch, but I had the books from Glad Day for sale, and the publisher gave me enough swag to have at this second launch. My friends and family helped me set up and pack up at the second launch. It all worked out better than I thought it would!

Dale Long: This second launch felt more personal. Like it was for you as opposed to for the book. Friends and family. Home town. etc.

Marie-Eve Girard: They were both super fun and amazing but for different reasons. Totally different environments. I’m really glad I did it this way (originally it was simply for the sake of convenience, because Toronto is far and all congested!).

Dale Long: It’s a great cover. In a day and age where covers range from ubber artsy to downright cheesy horribleness, yours stands out. It looks professional, if you know what I mean, not homemade.Girl Mans Up

Marie-Eve Girard: Thank you! And again, a timing thing there, too. Just even with my book cover: A gender nonconforming character like Pen right on the cover probably wouldn’t have been seen (in this context, at least) just a few years ago
I’m incredibly proud of the fact that my book cover features an identifiably queer character. This is a big deal in terms of queer visibility.
I could dive into some huge essay about that, but basically we, as a society, don’t view all people as just people—we don’t let everyone be seen (and I hate that I sound so ableist with my choice of sight-related words here!). So visibility is important. Representation of all kinds of people is what diversity in fiction is all about. So maybe to some it’s no big deal to see someone like Pen on a book cover, but it really does mean a lot for YA literature and our society.

Dale Long: Yep, marketing is a slave to societal bias.

Marie-Eve Girard: For sure. So I’m so thankful and proud that my queer story and queer cover are situated where they are in publishing. 😀

Dale Long: You are always a pleasure to talk to. Thanks, M-E.

Since this article, M-E Girard received a New York Times mention for her book, Girl Mans Up, and is generating massive Twitter buzz by some very famous people.
Make sure to come to the December 10th breakfast for the Pro-Panel. M-E. will be part of the panel.

Bryan Davies

Bryan Davies
Bryan Davies

Bio: Bryan’s wide-ranging personal interests are the foundation for his professional writing career. A series of successful academic text projects between 2004 and 2013 for US-based Gale Publishing and Lerner Media (books garnering three successive American Library Association ‘Science Text of the Year’ awards), provided the springboard for Bryan’s three ambitious Canadian works set for 2017 publication:

* ‘A Boy from Botwood: Pte. Arthur W Manuel, Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 1914-1919’, Dundurn Press (Toronto), January 17, 2017 publication (co-author Andrew Traficante) … a remarkable, long-hidden soldier’s memoir, a Gallipoli, Somme, and Passchendaele survivor. This story is the only detailed, first hand account of a WWI North American soldier’s time as a German POW (17 months, including Manuel’s capture, escape from a notorious ‘slave camp’, and recapture…)

* ‘Its Time to Keep our Word’ Dundurn Press (Toronto), July 1, 2017 publication … a provocative solution to Canada – First Nations and First Peoples’ treaty disputes, with Professor Michael Coyle (UWO Law, aboriginal rights expert), and Andrew Traficante

* ‘Paradigms’, a forthcoming (late 2017) work co-authored with John Allan, former Durham Region Police Service Homicide Unit head, including a remarkable account of the now-notorious 2014 Alan Smith ‘cold case’ murder prosecution

Bryan is also a founding partner of United Front Entertainment (Toronto), where he heads its IP rights acquisition & management. UFE is a multidimensional Canadian and international film distribution company and . Bryan divides his time between Whitby, where he resides with his family, and Sault Ste. Marie’s Tagona Creative.

Craft: Writer

Genre: Non-fiction, Crime, Military History, Aboriginal treaty rights

A Boy From Botwood: Pte. Arthur W Manuel, Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 1914-1919

November 5th Mini Workshop – Creating an Ebook Every Company Needs–And Pays For

Creating an Ebook Every Company Needs–And Pays For with Gail Mercer-MacKay November 5th 2016 Mini Workshop

Gail Mercer-MacKay
Gail Mercer-MacKay

Companies today are spending a lot of money creating eBooks to educate their customers. They make these eBooks available for free online for their customers to download. Companies need writers to help them create these eBooks. They need great storytellers who understand how to use “The Hero’s Journey” to captivate a reader (potential customer) and get them excited about the company’s products and services.

One of the most lucrative opportunities for freelance writers today is in the creation of eBooks. Attend this workshop and learn:

· A proven formula for writing an eBook

· What content you need to use in your eBook to make it a winner

· How to use simple templates to make your eBook look beautiful

· How much to charge for your eBook (hint, it is several thousand dollars)

BIO: When Gail was fired from her job as a sales and marketing executive, she decided to become a writer. Her friends told her “don’t do it – you’ll starve – there’s no money in writing.” Gail ignored them and tried to build a business as a freelance writer. She quickly found that her friends were right – that traditional methods of looking for work and finding writing assignments were few and far between. With only her instincts to guide her, she built her own 6 Figure Freelance Writing business in less than 18 months and now is on a mission to teach others how to do the same. Find out more at

December 10th RoundTable – WCDR Pro Panel

December 10th RoundTable – WCDR Pro Panel

Join us for the WCDR’s Holiday RoundTable where we will celebrate the end of another wonderful year with friends and fellow writers, gifts and surprises. And because WCDR boasts such a unique blend of talent within our membership, instead of bringing a speaker professional in for this, the last meeting of the year, we’re going to pool the collective knowledge of 5 talented members. With so many experienced and successful members within our membership, it’s hard to choose just five, but that’s the point–we’ve got Pro’s in our ranks. Check out the panelists and start jotting down your thoughts and your questions to utilize the knowledge within our ranks. It’s going to be fun.

M-E Girard

M-E Girard
M-E Girard
  • YA
  • LGBT
  • Agent/Editor Process
  • Traditional publishing with a major US and Canadian publisher
  • Workshopping a manuscript
  • Using social media to build a platform

Heather Hamilton-Senter

Heather Hamilton-Senter Square
Heather Hamilton-Senter
      • Indie pub
      • Fantasy
      • Printing
      • Author platforms
      • Covers



Dorothea Helms

Dorothea Helms
Dorothea Helms
  • Freelance writing
  • Humour
  • Public relations writing
  • Ad writing
  • Workshop facilitation
  • Business of writing
  • Teaching
  • Speech writing


Sherry Hinman

Sherry Hinman
Sherry Hinman
  • Copy editing
  • Proofreading
  • Structural and stylistic editing



Ruth E. Walker

Ruth E. Walker
Ruth E. Walker
      • Literary writing
      • Traditional publishing
      • Retreats
      • Facilitation
      • Editing




Paeans and Kudos

Ingrid Ruthig

Ingrid Ruthig has been on the road promoting her latest book, This Being, a collection of poems published earlier this year by Fitzhenry & Whiteside. After a successful spring run of readings and interviews in Ontario, and inclusion in New York City’s Poets House Showcase 2016, she recently launched the book on the East Coast. Ingrid is guest author on an upcoming installment of “Telling Stories with Jules Carlysle” on Rogers TV, and on September 27th will be interviewed at her alma mater on CIUT 89.5FM in Toronto. THIS BEING is available through all the usual book channels and, in Durham Region, you’ll find copies at Blue Heron Books and Chapters Oshawa. For more information, events, and news, visit

Sherry Hinman

Sherry Hinman
Sherry Hinman

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Bio: Sherry Hinman is a full-time editor/writer/professor. She lives with her family, including a mischievous calico tabby cat, in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. She loves animals, chocolate, books, and coffee, though not necessarily in that order.
Sherry has been editing and writing since 2002. She is a Certified Professional Editor (CPE) through the Editors’ Association of Canada (Certified Copy Editor, Proofreader, Structural and Stylistic Editor), a designation that represents excellence—not just competence—in editing.
Sherry is also a professor at Durham College; she is acting program coordinator with 14 years of teaching experience in the Communicative Disorders Assistant program. She also has 10 years’ experience as a creative writing instructor at the Oshawa Senior Citizens’ Centre. She is a writer, and has had over 100 articles published in magazines and newspapers, internationally, as well as a few short stories published in anthologies.
A respected member of Durham Region’s writing community, Sherry is a past president of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, founding chair of the Ontario Writers’ Conference, and a past member of the certification steering committee for the Editors’ Association of Canada.
Prior to her career in editing, Sherry worked for many years as a speech-language pathologist and professional practice leader. Her education provided her with the foundations to specialize as a health editor—a BA in Linguistics from McGill University; a BSc and MSc in speech-language pathology from l’Université de Montréal; and her editing certificate from George Brown College.

Craft: Writer, Editor

Dorothea Helms

Dorothea Helms
Dorothea Helms

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Bio: Dorothea Helms, a.k.a. The Writing Fairy®, is an award-winning, internationally published writer and popular writing instructor. She is the author of the successful book The Writing Fairy Guide to Calling Yourself a Writer, and she offers courses, workshops and keynote speeches that inspire adults to write and publish their work. She has been teaching creative writing for 22 years and is proud that many of her students have won writing contests, started freelance careers and become published authors.

This prolific Fairy is also owner of Write Stuff Writing Services, through which she provides professional writing and editing services to newspapers, magazines, businesses and individual clients. Over the years, she has served as contributing editor to dozens of publications, and has provided many writing colleagues with paying gigs. Her “Business of Writing” workshop has helped to launch many freelance careers, and her own freelance businesses continually bring in six-digit annual revenues.

She is known for her trade mark humour. Where Dorothea goes, fun follows!

Craft: Writer, Editor, Journalist, Commercial Writer, Short Fiction Writer, Poet, Christian/inspirational Writer

Awards: 2nd Place in Gene Perret’s “Words to Live By” one-liner contest. August 2014.
Ascent Aspirations Anthology of the Bizarre Anthology Contest, Second Place in the Flash Fiction category. $50 an one copy of the anthology. August 2014.

Whitchurch-Stouffville Grimm Fairy Tale Short Fiction Contest. First Place. $100 and 5 copies of anthology. October 2012.

Semi-finalist in the 2012 Robert Benchley Award for Humour. The only Canadian out of the 10 semi-finalists.

The 7th Annual Accenti Writing Contest – 3rd Place. Short Fiction, “Traditions.” $100 and publication in Winter 2013 Accenti magazine.

Semi-finalist in’s April/May 2011 Humor Writing Contest – “Food Foibles”

2007 Suburban Newspapers of America Advertising and Promotions Contest, Metroland Media Group, Ltd. – Dorothea Helms was contributing editor for all four of these first-place wins: Best ROP Advertising Section for Giftcard – Holiday Gift Guide 2006; Best Employment Publication for Career Choices – Spring 2006 tied with Best Employment Publication for Today’s Healthcare Careers – Spring 2006; and Best Cover Design for Live It! – Spring 2006.

LICHEN Arts & Letters Preview – shortlisted for “One Hundred and One Words” competition, Spring 2007.

The Haliburton Highlands Writers’ and Editors’ Network and The Agnes Jamieson Gallery 3rd Annual Writing Contest (2005) – tied for first place in non-fiction category with essay “Shelf Life”

Periodical Writers Association of Canada (now Professional Writers Association of Canada) – winner of the 2005 Barbara Novak Award For Excellence In Humour and/or Personal Essay Writing for “The Gift of Words,” which appeared in the January 7, 2003 Globe and Mail Facts & Arguments. Member 2002-2011

Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Contest (The Writers’ Circle of Durham Region) 3rd Place
Winner in Adult Category 2003 for the poem “Missing Heartbeats”

Nominated for a 2001 Rotman Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the “Innovative” category

Runner-up in “Favourite Freelance Writer” category in Write Magazine’s 2000 Reader Poll

Memberships: WCDR

Ruth E. Walker

Ruth E. Walker
Ruth E. Walker

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Bio: RUTH E. WALKER, author of the novel LIVING UNDERGROUND, is also a poet, playwright, editor, and creative writing workshop facilitator who has published in Canada, the US, and the UK. Her award-winning writing has appeared in literary publications, anthologies, and periodicals.

She is a partner in Writescape, delivering creative writing workshops and coordinating writing retreats for writers of all kinds. A popular workshop facilitator and conference presenter, Ruth has travelled Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Ottawa to work with writers at all levels. She has met with book clubs throughout Ontario as well as readers in Virginia and Michigan.

An editor with Writescape, Ruth especially enjoys supporting writers as they hone their manuscript to submission-ready status.

Ruth is an honours graduate of Trent University and recently retired as a professional writer and editor for the Ontario government. A past president and long-time member of The Writers’ Community of Durham Region, she is also: a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), Canadian Authors’ Association and the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs; a founding editor and publisher of the literary journal “LICHEN Arts & Letters Preview”(1998-2007); a founder and former organizing committee member of the acclaimed Words in Whitby Reading Series; a former member of the Driftwood Theatre Group’s Board of Directors; and a long-serving volunteer on various non-profit arts initiatives. In 2007, Ruth was named one of four artists in residence at Durham Alternative Secondary School, through an Ontario Arts Council-funded pilot project.

A resident of Oshawa, Ontario, she continues to teach and to write.

Craft: Writer, Editor, Play/Screenwriter, Short Fiction Writer, Poet

Genre: Writes in a wide range of genres; most recently contemporary fiction and YA speculative fiction.

Living Underground, (Seraphim Editions, 2012)

Living UndergroundSheila Martin’s dismal childhood is irrevocably transformed when Sigmund Maier, the family’s enigmatic German tenant, introduces her to opera, music and much more. When he reappears in her ordered and successful adult life, Sigmund asks for her help with an immigration issue. Will she now discover the truth of why he vanished years ago?

Sheila soon discovers that “truth” has no clear definition and memories are nebulous as she is drawn into the turmoil and accusations surrounding his life before and during World War II. As she struggles with her own issues and family conflicts, she is forced to finally confront the secrets she has held for over 30 years.

Moving back and forth in time, this novel explores the ambiguity of human emotion – how our natures can embody both the ideals and delights of love alongside the most base and dispassionate sensibilities.

Living Underground Book Trailer from Empty Cup Media on Vimeo.

Awards: 2015 Ontario Arts Council $20,000 Works in Progress grant for “The Last Battlewipe”
2014 Muskoka Novel Marathon, YA novel award for “The Last Battlewipe”
2013 Canadian Authors’ Association, top ten “Living Underground” for fiction prize
2011 Longlist, Montreal International Poetry Prize for “Gilt”
2011 Great Canadian Haiku Contest, Home County Folk Festival, London, ON “Haiku for Canada”
2011 Writer’s Digest, 5th place in Poetic Asides 10-line poem contest Spring Thaw 2011″
2011 WCDR Scholarship, The Writers’ Community of Durham Region writers’ grant
2010 Ontario Arts Council $1,500 Writers’ Reserve Grant
2010 Honourable Mention, Geist magazine’s Literal Literary Postcard Story competition
2008 Banff Centre/Bliss Carman Poetry award third place
2007 two entries tied for second place in The Writers’ Circle of Durham Region Short Story Contest
1996 Canadian Living magazine short story contest for “Traditions”

Memberships: The Writers’ Community of Durham Region (1996 to present)
The Writers’ Union of Canada (2012 to present)
Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (2012 to present)
Canadian Authors’ Association (2012 to present)

Michael Payne

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Bio: A young writer in his early 20’s trying to establish his voice in the world as a fiction writer. Projects and written works represent conceptual views and interpretations of spiritual values, interconnected systems, and the ideals of “moving the human race forward”. In these works, characters, places, events, timelines, perspective are representations of the many variances of life that both motivate and hinder us as a collective. In these attempts, it is my goal to compound all my knowledge, experience, and wisdom (yet never finished accumulating) into one concentric field of perspective on how we live our lives, and how we could live our lives.

Craft: Writer, Memoirist, Short Fiction Writer, Poet, Christian/inspirational Writer, Publisher

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Science Fiction