BWS 11.11.20 report: “Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars)” with Dina Del Bucchia

Dina Del Bucchia is a writer, podcaster, literary event host, editor, instructor and otter and dress enthusiast. She is the author of the short story collection, Don’t Tell Me What to Do, and four collections of poetry, and most recently, It’s a Big Deal!

So you’ve been thinking about what it takes to start your own podcast, now what? Our latest guest speaker, Dina Del Bucchia has some excellent tips on how to begin!

Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars)

The thing about podcasts is that they can kind of be anything you want! With podcasts you have the freedom to create and publish whatever you like. If you start your own podcast there aren’t the constraints of a broadcaster to hold you back or censor your wildest ideas. If you can afford any type of recording equipment or have access to record then anything is possible.

However! That means you are the arbiter of what’s good. You’re quality control. You’re not just doing all the work of recording and production, but making sure that every element is the best it can be. So, you’re also, probably editing, hosting, booking guests, and all the while thinking about how to make the best podcast you can make.

A podcast is a commitment. I personally am always waiting for new episodes from my favourite shows and eagerly download them on the scheduled release date. If one doesn’t show up, there’s some genuine disappointment. When I don’t release an episode on time, I feel that too.

Here are some tips on how to make that possible, by considering a few elements and making some choices up front about what your podcast is going to be.

Clear concept

Know what you want to do. Be able to describe your podcast succinctly and with ease. Consider the specificity of the idea, who the ideal listeners would be, and how you can make that happen with the resources available to you. Ask yourself a list of questions to narrow down the options. Will it be a solo podcast, an interview, improv, scripted, narrative? Will you work with others or alone? Once you’ve figured out what you want you can set out to make it happen. And if you decide to work with others make sure everyone is clear on all the important points.

Consistency

Make sure your audience can rely on you consistently and also that you can rely on yourself and anyone you’re working with to do the same. This could mean setting and sticking to a consistent release schedule that is manageable for you (weekly, monthly, etc.) or the length (thirty minutes, an hour, etc.) or it could mean the work that goes into it before you head to record, like research or interview preparation. Developing systems to prepare for each episode, and knowing how much work will go into each one helps immensely with keeping it consistent.

Quality

Decide what this word means to you. If you want the cleanest and most professional sound, then the audio quality will take priority. If you want the content to be impeccable then you’ll focus on that. When producing something on your own it might not always be possible to have every level of quality meet the standards you’ve set, but prioritize the qualities most important to you to maintain and keep consistent. As per the previous point, consistency. Sometimes podcasts feel repetitive.

Be your own audience

We often tell writers to write what they would want to read and podcasting is no different. If you wouldn’t listen to your own podcast, why would anyone else? Tone, content, guests, sound quality, even your theme song contributes to the type of show you want to create. Make sure all those things appeal to you. Don’t make something for the “market” when you are doing it for free and for yourself. Your audience will be grateful you didn’t phone it in just to get caught up in the latest podcast trends.

Know your goals

Be honest with yourself about what your podcast will mean for you. If number of downloads is important, you’ll want to focus on promotion and marketing. If you want to create something special to you then one of your goals might be to focus on the details of each episode to create that special feeling. If you know you can only manage a single season of eight episodes, then do that. Not every podcast has to be ongoing. The content will often help refine the goals. And if your goal is to create a podcast, make the most achievable smaller goals to get things up and running.

Be kind to yourself

As many of us have other jobs and commitments knowing our limitations can help us answer questions about what we want our podcast to look like and find a clear path to achieve those goals. If you want making a podcast to be part of your life you have to find the time and energy. Don’t overload yourself. Sure, I made all these rules here (they’re really tips! Not rules!) but if you have to take a break, re-jig the show or make changes, that’s okay. Do what will work for you. And have fun! The best podcasts are often ones that you can tell hard work has gone into them, but the hosts are also enjoying the work they’re doing.

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BWS 11.11.20: Larry Baer

Larry Baer was born and raised in Montreal and moved to Toronto five years ago. Partly out of sheer laziness, he prefers writing short stories over a novel, especially stories about people coming to terms with their true selves, either through suppression or expression, and the consequences of that process.

What’s the perfect way to conduct an in-person interview during the pandemic? Larry Baer serves it up in his latest interview with himself!

An interview with Larry Baer

by Larry Baer

This is the unedited transcript of an interview conducted on the patio of the Ritz Carlton hotel in Toronto. Social distancing guidelines were respected. The interviewer and interviewee were seated less than six feet apart but wore masks.

Larry: It’s an honour to meet you. May I call you “Larry”?

Larry: Yes, of course.

Larry: Larry, you haven’t been writing for very long, only a few years. Perhaps you could tell me what motivated you to start writing.

Larry: I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite make that out through your mask. Could you repeat the question? Maybe we could ask them to turn the music down.

[A server is summoned and a few moments later, our request is carried out.]

Larry: As I was saying, you have only been writing for a few years. Could you tell me what motivated you to start writing?

Larry: Sure. Part of it was just having so much time to myself as a newcomer in the city but I also realized that, after finishing grad school and settling into my profession, I craved something creative in my life. I’ve always had an affinity for and, I would say, a respect for writing so it was natural to turn to this medium as a means of creative expression.

Larry: I feel I have to ask the inevitable question: Who has influenced your writing?

Larry: There are definitely some writers whose styles and story structures I have used as models for my own. I feel like I am still developing my own style and I think my style changes from story to story. Some recent influences are Lydia Davis, Lucia Berlin and Garth Greenwell. I’m pretty sure it was Lucia Berlin who once gave the advice to her students to get out of the way of the story. I think, at this point, I’ve very rarely succeeded in doing that but when I have, I’ve really seen the difference. I think the best stories are those that don’t feel like they were written. They feel like they just are and have always been.  

Larry: Could you tell us about your creative process?

Larry: I used to think the main obstacles to writing, or really any creative act I suppose, were time and stamina. I would read about these people who raised families and had full time jobs but got up at 5am to write and I’d just be blown away by their dedication and their productivity and I still am. But I realized that for me the main obstacle to writing was anxiety. So not too little time but too much anxiety: Will I discover by writing that I am actually terrible at this? If so, what’s the point, etc. And, of course, there is the uncertainty of a blank page—where do I start, and so on. So for me it’s been less about too little time and more about too much anxiety. I find I’m often crawling through a tunnel of anxiety before I get to the writing at the other end. What has been very liberating for me is to read about the similar struggles of other people who engage in any creative pursuit, to realize it is OK to write something mediocre, to write something awful and it will get better if you keep at it. Maybe the second thing you write will be a little less awful and eventually, you write something good. I once heard Philip Roth say, in an interview he gave shortly before he died, that being a writer is great because you just keep getting better at it, the more you write and he felt that way about his own writing even at the end of a long and distinguished career, that he was still getting better at it. For me, that was a wonderful thing to hear. It gave me permission to suck at writing but to write anyway, because I will get better at it. The funny thing is that I know this very well at an intellectual level. I studied motor learning in grad school, I know that the path to expertise is paved with your mistakes. This is true whether your goal is to be a tennis pro or a piano virtuoso. But it’s also true if you want to be a writer. It’s the only way. But sometimes our emotions can be harder to convince than our intellect. So I still get anxious about my writing but less and less, the more I write.

Larry: Do you have any advice for people who want to start writing or any creative activity?

Larry: Not really, other than what I’ve just said about overcoming anxiety. I feel like I am way too new at this. But if anyone has any advice for me, I’d be happy to hear it!

Larry: You don’t have a large portfolio of work…

Larry: Yet!

Larry: Yes, of course, sorry, not yet. But in the pieces you have written, are there common themes?

Larry: I would say that a primary focus for me is exploring the space between how we are and how we wish to be and what happens when we don’t bridge that gap. I think most of us live in that space at least some of the time and sometimes most of the time. So a lot of the action in my stories is internal to the characters as they struggle through this space.

Larry: I know how much you dislike interviews so thank you for agreeing to meet with me. I hope it wasn’t too awful.

Larry: Actually, it went much better than I expected. But you do realize this is nuts, right? I mean, you are me and I am you.

Larry: Well, that is very profound. A great closer for the interview.

Larry: I think I need a drink now. Join me at the bar?

Larry Baer visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Joshua P’ng, Zoë S. Roy, and Jamie Tennant. Dina Del Bucchia, writer, podcaster, literary event host, editor, and instructor, will give her talk on, “Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

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BWS 11.11.20: Jamie Tennant

Jamie Tennant has covered music and pop culture both locally and nationally. He is the Program Director at 93.3 CFMU FM and the host and producer of the literature program Get Lit. In 2016 he published his debut novel, The Captain of Kinnoull Hill. His new novel is tentatively scheduled for fall 2023.


In anticipation of his appearance at our next event, Jamie Tennant shares an excerpt from his forthcoming novel, tentatively titled River, Diverted.

It’s the mid 1990s, and screenwriter River Black is still Helen Delaney, a waitress in Toronto who spends most of her spare time watching horror films on VHS. Having trouble coping with her father’s death, she decides to move to Japan and reinvent herself.

*

The blurred confusion of airport concourses and unintelligible signs. The soothing voice of the Skyliner train. The baffling intensity of the three-minute walk between Ueno train stations: crowds like schools of fish, darting and twirling without a single collision; chirping traffic signals like battery-operated sparrows; low-hanging bridges against high-rising neon. Finally, the train, where I pressed my face against the window and peered into the dark.

Behind me, a salaryman in a sharp blue sharkskin suit watched me, amused; I could see his reflection in the window. His amusement would not dissuade me. I had been briefed on sixteen dozen Japanese do’s and don’ts. Don’t stick your chopsticks vertically in the rice. Don’t eat or drink while walking down the street. Don’t pass food from chopstick to chopstick! There was no rule about pressing your face against the train window. I was going to respect this culture, but I was still going to be me.

A confusing proposition, I guess, since I’d come here to become someone else.

The window vibrated in its casing, causing my top teeth to rattle against my bottom teeth. I opened my mouth to end the chattering and stared, gape-jawed, into the invisible Japanese countryside. I let a long, low “aaaaahhh” stretch its way out of my throat. The juddering motion of the window gave my voice a rapid vibrato, and I wondered what the salaryman must have thought about this strange foreign chick bleating into the night like a bewildered goat. Sometimes I did things that felt good and looked weird. Still do.

I stood up to hit the vending machine. The train seemed to make a perpendicular shift on the tracks. I felt like a surfer on an erratic wave. With surfing on my mind, I spread my arms out for balance and launched into a mostly off-key approximation of the Hawaii Five-O theme. No one in the car seemed to notice.

At the end of the car, a row of vending machines shone with the promise of so many garishly-packaged pleasures. Beer! Cigarettes! Boss Coffee! I opted for a Pocari Sweat because, I mean, it’s called Pocari Sweat. What’s a Pocari? Why does it sweat? Neither the milky translucence of the bottle nor the blue and white label provided this pertinent information.

As I hung ten down the sideways-shifting aisle, Pocari Sweat in hand, we barrelled into a tunnel. The train shook like a plane in turbulence. I shot my arms out with a short squeal and the bottle tumbled into the aisle, and rolled to the salaryman’s shiny leathered feet.

I stepped forward, embarrassed, and kneeled to retrieve my beverage.

Sumimasen.” Excuse me. A phrase I was likely to need with some frequency. The man, however, appeared to be amused, which was a relief. When people don’t find my antics amusing, they find them annoying, and I never know which way it’s going to break.

Back in my seat, I tasted the Sweat. It resembled a sports drink, but sports drinks at home are the colour of crayons and salty enough to curl your tongue into a Twizzler. They kind of bully you into thinking you’ve been refreshed. This was more subtle and did not, despite its promise, taste like the sweat of anything.

In the window’s reflection it could see the salaryman nodding off. His head lolled forward, his chin bouncing off his sternum. The way my dad used to get after the fabled seventh brandy. Used to get. Past tense. Former tense. Dead tense.

“Dead.” I said it aloud, as if to remind myself. “My dad is dead.”

“I’m sorry,” said man in the suit, who hadn’t nodded off at all.

“Thank you.” I said, genuinely moved. “Thank you so much.”

I plopped down in the empty seat across the aisle from him.

“Are you on vacation?” he asked.

“Sort of. I’ve been fascinated with Japan ever since I was a little kid,” I continued. “Godzilla movies and anime and all that. I mean, I don’t think Japan’s all marauding kaiju and Hello Kitty. I have a lot of respect for the culture. I even studied the language a little bit. And it helps that Japan is far away from Canada, in just about every way you can imagine. I need to go through something transformative right now.”

“Excellent!” The man was delighted. Other foreigners probably answered that question with a grunt and a shrug. “What does it mean, transform…forma…?”

“Transformative. Something that will change my outlook on life and help me become a new person.”

“I understand.”

“No, I bet you don’t.” I rested my right foot on my left thigh and turned towards him, my hands held out as if preparing to catch a ball. “I’m changing everything. All my life I wanted to write movies, right? But I never did it. I just sort of wandered through a boring university degree I didn’t want, and wandered into a boring job I didn’t care about. After my dad died, my sister said to me, now’s the time, go be who you want to be, so I thought, why don’t I? Do something different, start writing, and even change my name? So that’s what I did.”

I spoke as if talking to myself, which I sort of was. Honestly, half the time I’m talking out loud, a listener is optional.

“What is your new name?” he asked.

“My name is River Black,” I stuck out my hand with jokey formality. “And you, sir, are the first person in history to meet me.”

“River.” He smiled but did not take my hand. “In Japanese, River is kawa. I think people will call you Kawa-chan, if they are your friends.”

“Well, I hope they do!”

“May I call you Kawa-chan?”

“Of course you can,” I replied. “You’re my very first friend.”

Jamie Tennant visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Joshua P’ng, Zoë S. Roy, and Larry Baer. Dina Del Bucchia, writer, podcaster, literary event host, editor, and instructor, will give her talk on, “Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

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BWS 11.11.20: Zoë S. Roy

Zoë S. Roy is the author of three novels: Spinster KangCalls Across The PacificThe Long March Home, and a short fiction collection: Butterfly Tears, published by Inanna Publications. Her literary fiction always focuses on women’s cross-cultural experiences. Besides creative writing, Zoë has also created several Wikipedia pages.

My Protagonists

I write literary fiction. My most recent novel is Spinster Kang. If you’re interested in it, you could take a look at a book trailer on YouTube. If you’d like to know what inspired me to create the protagonist, you could read the Interview with Zoë S. Roy, author of Spinster Kang.

Very often, some readers conclude my fiction is a family history or a memoir. A few of them assume that The Long March Home tells my family story. One reviewer thinks Calls across the Pacific is a “woman’s historical fictional memoir.” Another reviewer says Spinster Kang “has an autobiographic feel to it.” All these comments make me feel as if I lived several lives.

In an interview from Ricepaper, a question was asked about whether the protagonist in Calls across the Pacific was based on myself or anyone else. My answer was neither. The stories I heard about “the sent-down youth” during my youth in Mao’s China inspired me to write the short story, “Yearning.” The research about the escapee evolved from my corresponding with a pen pal in Hong Kong about the successful attempts by defectors from mainland China. My walk across the bridge at the Lo Wu Immigration Control Point between Shenzhen and Hong Kong confirmed to me that my protagonist, Nina, would be able to swim halfway to reach Hong Kong.

As Alan Moore put it, “use lies to tell truth.” I invent stories to show what I’ve learned from literature, what I’ve experienced in life, and as well what I’ve perceived about other human beings in the world no matter whether they live in my era or different times.

If you’re curious about what my fictional character inspiration is, you could read “My Confession: Exploring the Intersection between Memoir and Story.”

However, I have a little confession to make: Tania, the second main character in Spinster Kang, has the two characteristics, the same as that of a friend of mine: “a retired professor” and “never married.” To commemorate this friend who passed away last month, I’m enclosing a photo of myself with her in 2016.

Zoë S. Roy visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Joshua P’ng, Jamie Tennant, and Larry Baer. Dina Del Bucchia, writer, podcaster, literary event host, editor, and instructor, will give her talk on, “Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

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BWS 11.11.20: Joshua P’ng

Joshua P’ng, poet and speculative fiction writer, published in the filling station, untethered, Daily Science Fiction, Sewer Lid, and the Great Lakes Review. When he isn’t writing, he sketches people on the train, reads graphic novels, and tries to get lost on bike trips.

Ahead of his appearance at our November event, Joshua shares an excerpt from a fantasy story he’s currently writing.

A Barbarus Stone

The heralding bells from Valandir tower were always bold in announcing the first morning and always making Suervath’s tusks tingle. In reflex, she gritted her teeth, pulling her tunic over her head. The bells also told her she was late to feed the pigs, promising a strike across the ears by Paleonis, the steward, and at least five coppers off her pay. 

A loud snort from the silk bed was another reminder of the other pigs that was her lot in life. A trickle of drool leaked out of the corner of Vertigus, a scion of the proud house Albian- Ablainick, who was sprawled over silk sheets, his naked belly was a full round moon rising and falling with each snore. The spurious idiot lasted longer than she was expecting. Still that even the gold-plated lamp hovering next to her head, worth far more than her father’s entire longhouse, would make last night’s dalliance worth it.

After hitching her belt up and putting on her boots, Suervath’s eyes prowled the room. It was easy to be a lay servicing the academy students, fed on cheap wine and cheaper promises. It was harder to be a profitable lay. Too little and might as well tussle in the hay with drunkards for the dregs of an empty purse. Too much and she would be out begging in the streets with a stump for a right hand. She’d only take enough to make it worth her while but not Vertigus’s while to risk embarrassment by going after her. 

The lamp could fetch her a good life for a half-dozen years was too noticeable. The heaps of scrolls and books, it was a doubt if Vertigus even read them, but they were worth more than their weight in platinum and if he didn’t miss them his father would.

It was best to start with the low hanging goods. A pouch bloated with drinking money, was lightened off a few of the last emperor’s golden faces, just enough that it still bulged but with a few wrinkles straining the cloth, laying on Vertigus’s nightstand. The jewelry in the washroom, Suervath held them to her ears, picking only those that didn’t glitter or hum with esoteric energy.

Suervath’s pouch jingled a little more heavily before the opening of drawers. Most of them stuffed with scrawled scrolls, still-fattened pens, or candied figs for growing many a noble student’s guts. There was also a dead spider in a drawer, it’s curled up legs resembled the thin black candles that the druids used to twist their own magic. She helped herself to a few of the pens, and popped a fig in her mouth. The sweet honey soaked into it exploded back out into her mouth, a taste as rare as an emerald. 

The last open snapped open. Her fingers still gripped around the silver handle, her breath fluttered. At first sight, it was just one of the many baubles, rings, amulets, or good luck charms. The hustle of Acusmit merchants that were sold with sweet-lined words of exotic esoter which ensnared many foolish noble children to gaud themselves with cheap trinkets. It was not such a trinket. It was a Reikish stone. 

It was forgivable to not recognize it at first. It had been smoothed and cut, encircled into a burnished copper grip, and strung up into an amulet. Thirty-seven white nickels were etched onto its face. Thirty-seven ancestors. A powerful stone. The closest Suervath had been to one was seeing it gripped in her village druid to start a ritual fire for moonsday. Now, this was her chance. Her fingertips immediately became warm, a flicker lit up between her ribs. 

How did Vertigus find it? The question immediately withered in her mind under the shameful glare of reality. Likely a father or uncle in the military gifting his favourite blood relative a token from the spoils of a campaign in the north. Or a fallen druid selling his clan legacy to pay off a tavern tab, that exchanged monied hands until it ended up in the richest ones. It was beautiful, and by its warmth, still flush with memories. She picked it up, pressing it deep into her palm. It was not since at least a decade ago during her ascendency ritual, that she experienced that raw bubbling of heat scouring through her bone marrow, touching every dab of her skin. Her feet arched, her head snapped back, whisperings poured out etched into her eyes; a babbling of thoughts. 

Vertigus’s moaning snapped that feeling away like a dagger through the lung. She snapped to look, but he’d only come to scratch the mountain of a belly before drifting back into his happy little stupor. The flagrant disregard for the value of his possessions was disgraceful. How could he not know of its power, a student of an imperial academy no less? 

The Reikish stone did not look any more special than the jewelry that he would tart himself with. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he even remembered possessing it. The feeling of heat still scorched her toes and the tip of her head. Suervath slipped the stone into her pouch. A goodly scatter of coppers, a thrice of gold, and a Reikish stone. Not a bad haul indeed. With a smile, Suervath made sure the door closed no louder than a whisper behind her. 

Joshua P’ng visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, November 11, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Zoë S. Roy, Jamie Tennant, and Larry Baer. Dina Del Bucchia, writer, podcaster, literary event host, editor, and instructor, will give her talk on, “Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

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Brockton Writers Series 11.11.20

Wednesday, November 11, 2020 – 6:30pm

Brockton Writers Series presents readings by:

Joshua P’ng

Zoë S. Roy

Jamie Tennant

Larry Baer

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

The reading is PWYC (suggested $3-$5) and features a Q&A with the writers afterward. Books are available for sale.

 If you’d like to donate, please do so here.

Many thanks to the Ontario Arts Council for their support.

OAC_REVISED_NEWCOLOURS_1805c

 —

GUEST SPEAKER

Podcasting for Fun (And Zero Dollars)

Dina Del Bucchia is a writer, podcaster, literary event host, editor, instructor and otter and dress enthusiast. She is the author of the short story collection, Don’t Tell Me What to Do, and four collections of poetry, and most recently, It’s a Big Deal!

READERS

Joshua P’ng, poet and speculative fiction writer, published in the filling station, untethered, Daily Science Fiction, Sewer Lid, and the Great Lakes Review. When he isn’t writing, he sketches people on the train, reads graphic novels, and tries to get lost on bike trips.

Zoë S. Roy is the author of three novels: Spinster Kang, Calls Across The Pacific, The Long March Home, and a short fiction collection: Butterfly Tears, published by Inanna Publications. Her literary fiction always focuses on women’s cross-cultural experiences. Besides creative writing, Zoë has also created several Wikipedia pages.

Jamie Tennant has covered music and pop culture both locally and nationally. He is the Program Director at 93.3 CFMU FM and the host and producer of the literature program Get Lit. In 2016 he published his debut novel, The Captain of Kinnoull Hill. His new novel is tentatively scheduled for fall 2023.

Larry Baer was born and raised in Montreal and moved to Toronto five years ago. Partly out of sheer laziness, he prefers writing short stories over a novel, especially stories about people coming to terms with their true selves, either through suppression or expression, and the consequences of that process.

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BWS 09.09.20 report: “Attracting Audiences: Getting the Most Out of Digital Events” with Elham Ali

ElhamAli

Elham Ali is a writer and publishing professional based in Toronto. She graduated from the University of Toronto in 2014, and since completing the Humber College publishing program in 2015 she has worked in marketing and publicity at Canada’s Ballet Jörgen, Penguin Random House Canada, and Dundurn Press.

Attracting Audiences: Getting the Most Out of Digital Events

Events are an important way for authors, new and seasoned, to promote their books, even now as our current situation forces us indoors. As authors and publishers make the shift from physical to virtual events, here are five tips to help you maximize both your audience reach and the impact of your event, before, during, and after you go live.

DISCLAIMER:
In order to get the most out of the five tips, and the most out of your events, we need to clarify how we understand what these virtual events are for. Typically, an event or reading is a sales opportunity for authors, but sadly publishers and other event coordinators are all finding that there is no clear correlation between sales and virtual book events. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do them! The key is to reframe your thinking and look at virtual events as a promotion opportunity. Virtual events, like ads or interviews, are a chance for you to put your book in front of readers, to make sure people know that your book exists. Having a link to a bookseller or any sales info is still really important, but the main desired outcome now is not to sell books but to promote your book and yourself to as many people as you can.

BEFORE:
Choose your platform wisely!
I would like to start by stressing that Zoom is not the only option you have for online events. Pick the online platform that works best for both your audience and the type of event you want to have. Maybe your publisher has a great following on YouTube, or you’re part of a big writers group on Facebook, or you have a huge following on Instagram (the most underrated platform for virtual events if you ask me). Think about where you can reach the most people and host your event there.

Partner up!
If you’re only going to take one thing out of this whole post, then let it be this tip. Virtual events are missing the critical aspect of engagement that in-person events have, so create that by teaming up with someone else for your event. This also has the (massive) added bonus of expanding your reach as you tap into that person’s audience as well. Whether it’s another writer, an expert on a subject related to your book, a colleague or friend, someone from your publisher, or a bookseller or librarian, by bringing them on board they will be promoting to their audience as well which can exponentially increase the reach of your event.

Bonus tip: If you’re not sure who to partner up with ask your publisher if they can suggest another author they might be publishing that season, or if they can reach out to other publishers who might have a book that would be a good fit.

Promote well!
Find new and creative ways to attract people who may be interested in attending your event. Team up with your publisher to host a giveaway of your book in the lead-up, take questions for Q&A on your social, post your virtual event on online event listings like Open Book & NOW Magazine, or if you have the means give your Facebook event page a targeted boost. The idea here is to go beyond your own followers and reach even more people who might make be interested in attending.

DURING:
Keep it fresh!
Again, without the critical presence of an audience, doing a one person reading or presentation for a virtual event can be challenging for both you and your audience. This is your chance to mix-it up and come up with a unique program that will make your event stand-out and keep your audience engaged. Options to consider are performers or musical guests, a video or slideshow, games with your guests or even the audience.

AFTER:
Video is forever!
If you’re only going to take two things out of this whole post, let this be the second. Make sure that you record, save, and make use of the video even after the live stream is over! The idea is to maximize the number of eyes that are seeing your virtual event and thus your book. Reusing and resharing the video is a vital way to do that!

Bonus tip: Make your video accessible. Both YouTube and Facebook videos can have captions added to them after they are posted. Have your video transcribed and upload closed captioning to make your video accessible to everyone.

This final tip is free and one I give to every author I work with: don’t get discouraged! While the internet can make it feel like it should be easy to reach everyone in Canada with each livestream, turnout to online events tends to be small, but don’t let it get you down. I always say, publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.

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BWS 09.09.20: Cassidy McFadzean

Bodri_CassidyM_web-4

Cassidy McFadzean is the author of two books of poetry: Hacker Packer (McClelland & Stewart 2015), which won two Saskatchewan Book Awards and was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and Drolleries (M&S 2019), a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award. She lives in Toronto.

To Find a Ghost Forest

A poem from Cassidy’s poetry collection, Drolleries.

Search first for traces of charcoal
blackening the pathway, trees felled
for fuel where livestock once grazed.
Unearth clues obscured in old maps
and estate records, spectres of shadow
woods archived in the king’s Domesday.
The phantoms cling to honeysuckle,
holly, common cow-wheat, haunting
hacked-off limbs of coppiced trees.
Bluebells mark woodland turned
to pasture, a ring of hanging heads
announcing the forest’s neat graves.

Cassidy McFadzean visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Fereshteh Molavi, Cyn Rozeboom, and Brian Francis. Writer and publishing professional Elham Ali will give her guest talk on, “Attracting Audiences: Getting the Most Out of Digital Events”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

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BWS 09.09.20: Brian Francis

Brian Francis WEB RES

Brian Francis’s most recent work, Box 4901, premiered at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in 2020 to sold-out audiences. His YA novel, Break in Case of Emergency, was a finalist for the 2019 Governor General’s Literary Awards. His previous novels are Natural Order and Fruit. The book version of Box 4901 will be published by McClelland & Stewart in 2021.

COVID Turned Me into a Fashion Designer

During this time of COVID-19, many people picked up new hobbies to alleviate the boredom and stress. For some, that new hobby was drinking. For others, it was baking bread that looked like giant boulders. For others, their new hobby was deciding not to wear pants during online work meetings. Definitely more comfortable, but you better hope the fire alarm doesn’t go off.

My new hobby was making hats. That’s right I became a milliner. Okay, so I didn’t actually “make” the hats. But I did add my personal flair, resulting in one-of-a-kind creations that would make Karl Lagerfeld green with envy.

It all started when I was on eBay one night and came across some old badges. Who knew there were so many abandoned badges out there looking to be resewn on something? I ordered some and decided to sew them onto baseball hats.

Hat 1 Sarnia

Here’s the first hat I made. Sarnia is my hometown and I really like the teal and gold colours in this badge. For those unaware, that’s the Bluewater Bridge. My sewing skills aren’t the best and I sewed the badge on a bit crooked, but I think this makes my hat more charming. It screams “ARTISINAL!!!

Hat 2 Pollution Stinks

The second hat I made was “Pollution Stinks. Have you ever seen a badge with a person with a clothespin on their nose? Me, neither! A word to the wise If you decide to sew badges onto trucker hats, put a thimble on your thumb because pushing needles through stiff material will have you inventing all kinds of new swear words.

Hat 3 Happy Camper

The third hat I made was “I’m a Happy Camper. Between you and me, I’m not much of a camper, but I wore it to a cottage this summer, so that counts for something. Besides, being a happy camper extends to more than just burnt marshmallows and Deep Woods Off. It’s a life philosophy.

Beaver Lumber Badge

Here’s my latest badge. It arrived in the mail last week. For any Generation Z people reading this, Beaver Lumber was the best hardware store ever. And where else have you seen a beaver mascot in white coveralls? I haven’t found a hat to sew this onto yet, but believe me, I will.

I hope you found a new hobby during COVID-19. And if you didn’t, it’s never too late to discover your arts and crafts side. The sky really is the limit. Just watch your thumbs.

Brian Francis visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Fereshteh Molavi, Cyn Rozeboom, and Cassidy McFadzean. Writer and publishing professional Elham Ali will give her guest talk on, “Attracting Audiences: Getting the Most Out of Digital Events”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

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BWS 09.09.20: Cyn Rozeboom

CRozeboomElephant

Cyn Rozeboom has worked in the arts sector for over 30 years, as a fundraiser, communications specialist, artist, and administrator. In her current role as Executive Director of Tangled Art + Disability, she delights in working with her team to subvert the status quo with joy and love.

Musings on an Upcoming Presentation

I’ll warn you now. I am going to start one place and end somewhere completely different.

I am delighted to be presenting some of my poetry publicly this September 9. I’m also delighted to be offered some blog space to promote the series. The opportunity was presented just as I was heading off for a vacation into cottage country a couple weeks ago and so I went into northern Ontario hoping find organic metaphors that would support the theme I’m working around with the collection of poems I intend to present.

Specifically, I was looking for dichotomies, either/or choices that break the world into an eternal battleground between opposing forces. I thought I’d be inspired by nature into some profound assemblages of words that justify the divides I feel constantly pulling me in contradictory directions.

ohImGonnaBeProfound1

I was confident at first – looking around, the turbulent blue of a freshwater lake rose up from my feet to meet the thin calm cyan of the sky and there – there, in the middle – AHA! That chaotic green band! Surely there, THERE it was – the messy in-between… between… air and water? Which was…. Trees? Ground? Movement? Wait a moment, that sounds deep but… is it really now? Earth is just another element. What about fire? And no one can fault either sky or lake for lack of change. The more I thought about it the more forced, and painful, then… pretentious my efforts felt.

In fact, the more I relaxed, the more the divides blurred. The water was just water – home for a whole slew of living mayhem, the mayflies drying out on the screen doors weren’t doing much besides moulting, even the tiny frogs who scattered before my feet did not seem conflicted, despite their amphibiousness. They were perfectly positioned for where and what they were.

mrCroak

Any contradictions I felt in this scenario were my own making – my brain wanting to pull what is whole apart, to assert my cleverness through dissection and unravelling. This restless tension was coming from inside, my own internal whirring.

Stop imposing your conflictedness on the world Cyn. Let it be what it is, and be in it.

A breath, a slowing, and a looking around. And what did I actually find? Mr Croak.

Mr Croak

don’t like other dudes
being in his space
Mr Croak
Owns this nook

Fear his shine
His massive bones shifting under supple skin

Mr Croak says
You get the fuck out, you
Or I’ll

JUMP

At you

Scared?
I bet you are.

Cyn Rozeboom visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Fereshteh Molavi, Brian Francis, and Cassidy McFadzean. Writer and publishing professional Elham Ali will give her guest talk on, “Attracting Audiences: Getting the Most Out of Digital Events”.

Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.

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