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

Advanced Writing for Wordies – with Dorothea Helms




Dorothea Helms

Blue Heron Books







Ready to take your writing to the next level? The Writing Fairy, Dorothea Helms, is ready to help you soar. Learn to mine ideas from unlikely sources, take risks that will capture the attention of editors/publishers, and polish your writing to the professional level. Forget hand-holding; in this course, The Writing Fairy will provide the kick in the butt that will get your butt in chair to live out your writing dreams. Previous participation in a creative writing course is preferred; this is for writers who have advanced beyond the beginner stage. Oh, and it will be a lot of fun!

6 weeks – Tuesdays, September 16 to October 21 from 7 to 9 p.m.  $180

To register for either of the following fall courses, visit

Fall in Love with Creative Writing – with Dorothea Helms




Dorothea Helms

Blue Heron Books







Let The Writing Fairy, Dorothea Helms, introduce you to the world of writing and its many exciting possibilities. If you are a closet writer or someone who dreams of following your passion for words, this is the course for you. Using humour and 21 years of experience as an award-winning professional writer, Dorothea will awaken the magic inside you in a safe, comfortable environment. Hundreds have already benefited from this course; many have gone on to win contests, be published, start freelance businesses, and even develop their craft enough to teach.

6 weeks – Wednesdays, October 8 to November 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.  $180

To register for either of the following fall courses, visit

Member News – February 19, 2014

The WCDR is an organization of 300+ members. Our membership includes a full range of writers and we want to celebrate their achievements, promote their writing-related workshops, and spread the news about literary events they’re involved in. Check out what’s new this week with the WCDR community:

Member Paeans & Kudos:

WCDR member, Beth Craig, received some well-deserved attention in Durham Region for the recent launch of the Hailey’s Dreams Princess Books she co-authored with her daughter, Lauren Craig.

The books were written as a tribute to Beth’s nephew’s seven-year-old daughter diagnosed with a rare terminal disease. The book set presents two versions of young Hailey’s true story – one to appeal to children and the other providing parents with the factual background of the family’s experiences. Both books focus on 32 dreams that come true with the help and compassion of an entire community.

Award-winning children’s author, Sheree Fitch, coached the co-authors through the self-publishing process and provided a foreword for the books which are available for sale at

All proceeds go to the Hailey’s Dreams foundation.

Congratulations to Beth and Lauren for their recent success and to Beth for exposure for this heart-warming story in the interview with Metroland Media

Member-Presented Workshops:

Countdown to signing up for The Writing Fairy’s next course at Blue Heron Books:  MAKE MONEY WRITING

The course starts Wednesday, February 19th. Enjoy six weeks of exploring various ways to earn income from your passion. Each evening, participants will delve into a different money-maker, from contests to corporate writing – all under the guidance of Dorothea Helms. And have fun in the process! Pre-registration is required. Details at

RoundTable Recap: January 2014

Curious to know what went on at our monthly RoundTable meeting? Please enjoy this RoundTable Recap (prepared by Susan Croft, in charge of public relations for the WCDR). Also, look for more of these recaps after each RoundTable meeting!


The WCDR kicked off 2014 with Short Story Contest judge Sarah Selecky, who listed her top 10 dos and don’ts for contest entries at the January RoundTable.

Selecky began her discussion of what makes a great short story by talking about two brains—the “top brain,” aka the brain in your head, and “the belly brain,” aka instinct. You have to rely on both to get a great story since, unlike a dancer or a sculptor, who can leave language and thought behind and get into the physical aspects of their art, writers must both forget language and work with it. “Don’t overthink things,” Selecky said. “This means clearing your mind and going to your page without any assumptions … You know the story, and it feels good to write it down. It’s not effortful, it’s the best thing in the world.”

Selecky likened the place a story comes from to a person remembering their first phone number. Everyone can do it without thinking; you just know it.

“What gets me really mad,” Selecky said, “is when I read a story and I can tell it’s written from that first-phone-number place, but I can’t take it because the writer’s technique just isn’t there.” So, to help people planning to submit to the WCDR Short Story Contest, which Selecky will be judging, she provided a top-ten list of technical things not to do:

  1. Try not to write the beginning of your story the same way everyone else does. The three most common ways of starting a story are: with a dream, with an alarm clock going off, or with a sentence like “It was a grey February day.”
  2. Don’t “bedazzle” your dialog tags with fancy verbs. Use said or, where appropriate, asked. The important part is what the character is saying.
  3. Don’t make your character look in a mirror so you can describe him or her. Whatever the detail is that is driving you to the mirror, try to find another way of describing it.
  4. Don’t write long, descriptive passages about the landscape.
  5. Make something happen. “You can write with detail an observation so accurate that it aches, but if nothing happens to your character, it’s not a story,” Selecky said.
  6. Avoid weird or clever descriptions in place of he or she.
  7. Use adverbs sparingly and with respect.
  8. Do not use unconventional fonts like Comic Sans or Papyrus. Selecky says she has “strong opinions about fonts in submissions, and if you’re using a font to lend atmosphere to your story, stop it.”
  9. Honour and follow the submission instructions.
  10. Remember that you must feel surprised by your own story—ideally, every time you read it.

(These top 10 tips are also available on Sarah Selecky’s website.)

A writer’s job is to transfer emotion to his or her readers. To do this, you have to “write through the emotion.” “If you try to write an emotional scene dispassionately, there’s a problem,” Selecky stated. “If you don’t feel strong emotions, your reader won’t either.”


Other Highlights:

As always, Blue Heron Books was on hand with a variety of books for sale—including a selection of titles by our guest speaker. Janet Stobie, Thelma James, and Corey MacLean were also in the lobby selling their work.

Blue Heron Books table in the lobby

Sherry Loeffler was at the library table, overseeing our collection of books that members can borrow from RoundTable to RoundTable, as well as managing our Pay it Forward collection.

Sherry at the library table

Cryssa Bazos announced that there were only three (3) spots left for those wanting to read at the upcoming Words of the Season event, which will take place on Monday, January 20, 2014 at The Bear (located at Liverpool and Highway 2 in Pickering). The evening will begin at 7 p.m., and you’re welcome to come by and cheer on fellow WCDR members as they celebrate the chilly season in poetry, prose, and song.

M-E Girard talked about the upcoming Books and Bevvies meeting, and announced our upcoming U25 Panel that will be held at the March RoundTable. Come out to hear authors who write for the under-25 market speak about craft in a discussion moderated by literary agent Stacey Donaghy. We’d like to encourage local teens and early twenty-somethings to join our wider membership in learning more about what it means to “be a writer.” Pitch sessions with agents will be available that day, and there will be a sign-up sheet for one-on-ones with industry professionals.

Phil Dwyer reminded WCDR members to sign up for Sarah Selecky’s daily prompts, and to check the WCDR website for contest information. The deadline is coming up in March, 2014, and you can’t win if you don’t enter!

Jenny Madore spoke about the WCDR Grants and Scholarships program. This year, we have more than $3600 to give to members writing at all levels and, like the contest, you can’t win if you don’t submit. For more information, check out our Grants and Scholarships page.

Ruth leading the writing exercise

Dawn Riddoch announced—for those who hadn’t noticed—that the WCDR has a new look for its e-blasts: The Buzz will be replacing the old daily emails, and is a quick way to find out everything you need to know about the WCDR and its members. (Note: If you’re not a member of the WCDR, you can still sign up for this free newsletter by entering your email at the top of the website sidebar!)

Our writing exercise this month, “Keeping it Brief: the Art of the Short, Short, Short Story,” was led by Ruth Walker, who had more than 100 writers trying to write a story short enough to fit on a postcard.

We also had a fantastic assortment of raffle prizes today, including gift certificates from Blue Heron Books; three copies of Sarah Selecky’s book, This Cake is for the Party; a spot in Jessica Outram’s memoir workshop, “Beyond Memoir: We Write Who We Are;” The Writing Fairy donated a copy of the Guide to Writing Contests; and the 2014 WCDR Short Story Contest balloon arrangement.

M-E Girard led our mini-workshop, “Agent Queries: it Starts Long Before Pressing Send,” which was packed with helpful tips and tricks. The workshop was sold out! Next month, the mini-workshop will be “Getting Sex on the Page,” led by Sandy Campbell. Be sure to sign up in advance!

Every month, a slideshow is displayed during the RoundTable meeting. Members are encouraged to submit slides for upcoming workshops and writing-related events. If you weren’t able to take in the information, or weren’t present at the meeting, you can still see what’s going on by accessing the slides as a PFD download. January 2014 WCDR RoundTable Slideshow

Our February speaker is Young Adult adventure and romance author Eve Silver. Register early!


MEDIA CONTACT: Susan Croft, PR Coordinator −

PHOTOS BY Kevin T. Craig

Note: Please remember to register! We hate having to turn people away, and the mini workshops fill up fast, so registering early ensures that you can get a slot. We are not able to let you in at the door without registering in advance. If you pay by PayPal, verify that you get an email from PayPal confirming your registration. If you don’t receive the email from PayPal, contact Dawn Riddoch at and we will look into it. Thanks for your cooperation.