Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

MFA vs. MBA/ Residential Interiors

Nov. 11 MFA vs. MBA: I cut out this Globe and Mail article “Sure, young artists need moral support.  But they also need cash money” by Judith Timson back in Aug. 12, 2010.  This article talks about working in the arts and how it’s a struggle.  Artists need to be paid and have moral support.  Here’s the article:    

I recently asked a new acquaintance what her grown kids did for a living and she scrunched up her face and said, apologetically, "You're going to hate me." What? Was one of them in Millhaven on drug charges? No-o-o.

She smiled and said, "Two lawyers and a doctor!"

Bingo. For a second, I did sort of hate her. We whose grown children (many of them following our example) have gone into the arts are filled with legitimate worry these days. In a post-recession world, will these aspiring musicians, writers, theatre directors and journalists even do as well as we did?

And in a media climate in which reporting on the arts can mean shovelling trash like "Charlie Sheen pleads guilty to assaulting wife," will anyone even notice them?

I keep hearing that the MFA is the new MBA, but I don't see any solid evidence of it. The kids who are graduating from business courses or into the professions still start their working lives making thousands more than almost all arts graduates, who, unless they strike it big, will never catch up.

I am surrounded by creative types - a son in theatre, a nephew who scored brilliant marks to achieve a science degree but is now making music, the son of a good friend who is doing visual art in New York, another who is a budding concert pianist, and of course would-be writers as far as the eye can see.

I go to their shows, read their blogs, scan their websites, and it's all so rewarding. They've graduated from at least the first rung of university and are pouring their passion and soul into what they do. Many of them are truly talented and their early reviews reflect this.

What they don't get is what they really need - not just critical affirmation, but money. No institution - except for those ubiquitous government granters - pays them what their burgeoning art is worth. And so the first thing they learn is how to work the grant system, presumably so they can end up just like a middle-aged screenwriter friend of mine who wryly says her epitaph will be, "She died waiting for funding."

The money is obviously a problem, but so is the moral support. In lawyer or doctor-laden families, artists are often viewed as the black sheep. A musician and producer friend says that at least 20 years into his career, family members would ask "are you still doing that music thing?" (They would never say, "Are you still a doctor?" Many assume that an artistic career is a temporary madness.)

We whistle appreciatively and congratulate the kid (and her parents) when she gets into med school, and I'm not denying that is a huge accomplishment. But it takes a special kind of courage to put yourself out there as an artist, to face down what famed American choreographer Twyla Tharp once listed as the five deadly fears of an artist, among them, "people will laugh at me," "someone has done it before" and "once executed, the idea will never be as good as it us in my mind."

Of course, there is a false dichotomy in framing this as an arts-versus-business thing. As Louise Garfield, executive director of Arts Etobicoke, a non-profit community council, points out to me in an interview, "professional career artists do not have the lock on creativity and parents worried about the financial futures of kids who choose the arts shouldn't worry - because professional business people don't all have the lock on financial management." In fact, she says, artist types are often very good financial managers. Because they are on such strict budgets, they've had to be.

Ms. Garfield lists some of the benefits of a career in the arts, sounding rather like an army recruiter ("There's no life like it!"): "The fulfilment of creative aspirations and passions. The quality and tone of their lives. The vibrancy of their intellect and emotions. Adventure, exploration, drama, deep feeling, playfulness, hilarity, camaraderie and FUN." (The next sound you hear will be lawyers jumping ship.)

But here's the real bottom line: Many of these kids starting out will one day be the ones making the art, the plays, the concerts, the books, that all of society eventually experiences and celebrates, doctors, lawyers and hedge-fund managers among them. Given the right support, what they will eventually contribute to our quality of life is immense.

So the next time an anxious parent says her kid is pursuing theatre or dance, just whistle admiringly, will you? And maybe ask if there's a website to view their work, or when their next show is, or even how you can make a donation.

Who knows, years later they might even thank you when they accept their first Dora or Tony.
Unless, of course, they've packed it in to manage a hedge fund.

Dec. 21 Master of Arts in Communications and Technology: It was the end of Aug. 2014, and I saw an ad in the Metro about these information sessions at the University of Alberta Extension.  I saw “Communications and Technology” info session, so I went there.  Then I see that it was a masters program.  Does anyone remember the blog post “Help Tracy get a Job/ Generation Boomerang” where I listed I didn’t want a masters degree?

Yeah, well I was there for the whole hour and watched the video and learned some things about the program.  I had another info session for Residential Interiors to go to after this.  I’m writing about this because I finished reading the brochures for both programs.

Here’s what I got from the website:

“The Communications and Technology Graduate Program at the University of Alberta offers a theoretical, historical and practical examination of communications in the era of the Internet, social media and the mobile device. 

Communication is examined across all contexts in the program: interpersonal, small group, public speaking, organizational, mass, and intercultural. The competencies to be achieved by graduates include the following:
  • Theory and its application to practice
  • Knowledge and its use in problem solving
  • Critical thinking as the foundation for leadership skills
  • Research as the basis for innovation and change”

Residential Interiors: I wrote a little bit about this in the blog post “Metro classes/ Residential Interiors.”

I read the brochure and now looked it up.  There is a new course called “Feng Shui Design for Residential Interiors.”  You know I’m interested in Feng Shui and I had to read it.  I’m sure some of you guys are laughing at this part: 

In this course we will consider the life energy of form, placement, colour and material that work to create balance in your living and working environment. Learn to apply the ancient principals of Feng Shui on energy flow, yin and yang, the five elements, and the eight directions to your interior and exterior space. We will read our floor plans to see how to transform any space into an aesthetically pleasing inspired living environment that supports relaxation, well-being, success, and good relationships.

Restricted to Residential Interior Certificate program students and Corequisite EXRI 4676

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Double your impact for children!


I have great news.

We’ve just learned that two of our donors have generously offered to match all year-end donations received by December 31st, up to $50,000. Their commitment to children is extraordinary, as is yours. I hope you’ll take this opportunity to double your impact for children.

The children need you more than ever. This year has been a devastating one for children around the world. But you can make a difference.

An estimated 230 million children currently live in areas affected by armed conflicts – from Central African Republic to Syria, from Iraq to South Sudan. But the sheer number of crises this past year means that many received little attention – protracted crises in countries like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen continued to claim even more young lives and futures. This year has also posed significant new threats to children’s health and well-being, most notably the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which has left thousands of children orphaned and an estimated 5 million out of school.

Still, despite the tremendous challenges children have faced in 2014, there has been progress. With our supporters by our side, UNICEF has worked to provide life-saving assistance and other critical services like education and emotional support to help children around the world.

With your gift today, you can help us keep doing that. Together, we can do even more for children and make 2015 a better year for every child.

Thank you.

David Morley
President & CEO, UNICEF Canada

P.S. Don’t forget: your donation by December 31st will be doubled, up to $50,000!

A Hopeful Heart...


Hi Tracy

Samira’s son is a hard worker. He moved to Toronto several years
ago with a heart full of hope and a dream.  A dream of building a
better life for his family who were still in

He secured a good job and made a steady income and saved
what he could towards his dream. His mother and father were
so proud of him when he had saved enough to give them a
fresh start living with him in

Finally, they were together again!

Then life happened.
Just before his 10th anniversary of moving to Canada, Samira’s son lost his job.

For two years, Samira watched him struggle, working odd jobs, unable to make enough to pay for rent, bills and food. Soon, he could not support everyone and Samira and her husband had to move back to Pakistan

Alone again, Samira’s son turned to the food bank for help getting enough to eat so he could pay his bills and keep a roof over his head. Because of the support of the local food bank he was able to have the energy and health to keep motivated and in a short time found a new job.

He started saving again.

Today, Samira and her husband are back in Canada, living with their son. They give back to Food Banks Canada as an expression of their gratitude for the help food banks gave their son and keeping his heart full of hope.

Yours for a Canada where no one goes hungry,


Katharine Schmidt 
Executive Director

10 Years Later: The Tsunami


Ten years ago today, one of the worst natural disasters in history struck, when a massive earthquake measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Indonesia. This earthquake triggered a tsunami with waves as high as 12 metres.

Within 48 hours UNICEF was on the ground spearheading what would become the largest emergency and recovery operation in our history.

The tsunami struck Indonesia first and hardest, leaving behind a trail of widespread destruction. The wave would then move on, wreaking havoc across South and Southeast Asia, as well as the eastern coast of Africa. In all, 15 countries were affected, with Indonesia and Sri Lanka absorbing the worst of the storm.

The toll of this disaster was staggering. Some 170,000 people lost their lives, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recent history. Another 125,000 people were injured, tens of thousands more reported missing and over 1.7 million displaced. At least one-third of the victims were children.

But amidst the immense tragedy and destruction, there was hope. This disaster prompted an unprecedented outpouring of support from the public – individuals like you, as well as governments and businesses.

It was thanks to this support that UNICEF was there. Within 48 hours, we were on the ground in Banda Aceh and other affected areas, coordinating a massive emergency response.

Today, a decade later, so much has been achieved in the areas of education, health, water and sanitation, and child protection. I urge you to read more here and see the countless ways in which Canadians like you made a difference.

On behalf of UNICEF and those affected by this disaster, I thank you.


David Morley
President & CEO, UNICEF Canada

Be part of our Individuals at Risk team

Be part of our Individuals at Risk team

Dear Tracy,

Imagine you are being targeted by your government. You attend a peaceful protest, but authorities label you an enemy of the state and start hunting you.

You can't turn to the police for help and you're afraid for your life and the lives of your family. What do you do?

At Amnesty International, our Individuals at Risk team receives phone calls and emails - from all over the world and at all hours of the day - about somebody in danger who needs help fast.

Right now, my team's resources are stretched thin. With conflicts surging around the world, journalists, students and families who must flee the violence or pay with their lives are relying on us. But the truth is, we're relying on you.

Help support our efforts. Make your first donation to Amnesty now and your gift will go twice as far through our December match challenge.

Plus, when you make a donation of $50 or more, we'll send you an Amnesty t-shirt so you can start a conversation about human rights wherever you go.

We never know what to expect when requests for help roll in. At any given moment, a man, woman or child could be at imminent risk of torture, kidnapping, imprisonment, or sexual assault.

The one thing these cases have in common is their urgency - we often have just days or hours to respond.

Have you ever heard about someone in a desperate situation and thought 'somebody has to do something'? I'm writing to tell you, you can be that somebody.

Donate and help me say yes to the next desperate request for safety, freedom, or protection. For a short time, your donation will go twice as far.
Steven HawkinsSincerely,
Steven Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Together, we make history

Together, we make history

Dear Tracy,

It started not just with one man's outrage, but with his courage to do something about it.

More than 50 years ago, a British lawyer read about the plight of two Portuguese students imprisoned for raising a toast to freedom. He decided to do something about it.

Peter Benenson published an article entitled "The Forgotten Prisoners," which led to a worldwide campaign to free people imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. Amnesty International was born.

Since then, Amnesty has helped more people than can fill Madison Square Garden twice. We've also won a Nobel Peace Prize.

But we can't rest on our laurels. Please continue the legacy.

Make a donation to support Amnesty's work freeing people unjustly imprisoned. Through December 31st, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar.

Plus, when you make a donation of $50 or more, we'll send you an Amnesty t-shirt so you can start a conversation about human rights wherever you go.

People like Liu Ping need our help. She's a factory worker who became an activist after she was forced to retire from the iron and steel plant where she worked in China.

She decided to speak out through peaceful activism - first for workers' rights, then against government corruption. In June, she was sentenced to six and a half years for "provoking quarrels and stirring up trouble" as well as "using an evil cult to undermine law enforcement."

Amnesty is pressing the Chinese government to release Liu Ping. We are planning protests and mobilizing our global movement of more than 7 million people to speak out on her behalf. We must raise the profile of her case to win her release.

Please help us continue making history. Through December 31st, your donation will be matched and will go twice as far to help us free prisoners of conscience like Liu Ping.

We have a long legacy of success. But our efforts are only as strong as the release we win today. Please help.
Steven HawkinsSincerely,
Steven Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

The Psychopath Test/ Charlie Bouthuell found

Dec. 13 The Psychopath Test: I cut out this Edmonton Journal book review called “Exploring the mind of a psychopath a crazy, yet fun, ride” by Robert J. Wiersema on Jul. 31, 2011.  He reviews The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson Riverhead.  Here’s the whole article: 

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has looked at a newspaper or watched the television news lately that we - and I use "we" advisedly - are surrounded by crazy people. From alleged child killers to "journalists" who think themselves within their rights to tap cellphones in pursuit of a story (or, more cynically and realistically, to sell papers), we are surrounded by actions of power and violation, committed without a thought to their effect on their victims.

Those behaviours fit neatly in the criteria devised by Canadian psychologist Robert Hare in the test he devised for detecting psychopathology ("Item 8: Callous/Lack of Empathy," "Item 6: Lack of Remorse of Guilt"), a document and process at the heart of Jon Ronson's transfixing new book, The Psychopath Test.

Starting with the mystery of an enigmatic book sent anonymously to many of the world's top scientists, Ronson ventures increasingly deeply into the heart of madness, searching for answers to the mysteries of the psychopaths among us. What he finds, however, are only more questions.

Psychopathology, for example, doesn't appear as a disorder in the DSM-IV-TR, the psychological bible and desk reference, and his investigation into why not raises questions about that text and the diagnostic powers accorded it.

Similarly, while he initially resists involvement with the branch of Scientology dedicated to the discrediting of the psychiatric profession, he comes around to appreciating their concerns after interviewing a resident in a "treatment facility" who faked mental instability to escape a criminal sentence, but has been caught in the psychological bureaucracy ever since.

"It is an awful lot harder, Tony told me, to convince people you're sane than it is to convince them you're crazy."

Ronson's descent into madness takes him into the worlds of business and broadcasting, to a seminar where Hare teaches professionals how to use his test, and into the history of psychopathology and the industries it has engendered. As a journalist, Ronson is riddled with anxiety and self-doubt.

(Upon first reading the DSM, he attempts to figure out how many of the 374 conditions it describes apply to himself. The dozen he identifies may, in fact, be a conservative number.) Ronson lurches through this ramshackle journey, constantly doubting his own conclusions and even his understanding of himself.

Far from being problematic, his personality quirks make the author perhaps the perfect, fumbling guide to a strange and often contradictory world. It is stated, early on and with some certainty, that one out of every hundred people is a psychopath.

As Ronson digs more deeply, however, he begins to question not only the number, but the process of diagnosis and the definition of psychopathology. It's a fascinating, thought-provoking, equally disturbing and amusing journey, a wonderful read, and if Ronson doesn't come to any great conclusions, it is likely because there are none to be found.

This lack of any great answer goes a great distance to supporting what comes to seem the central, unstated premise of the book as a whole: The line between sane and crazy is never clear, and becomes murkier by degrees the more you study it.

Robert J. Wiersema is a Victoria-based bookseller and author. His latest novel is Bedtime Story.

Beauty queen killed: This is a news email.  The above was a non-fiction true crime book review.  This story of Beauty queen Monica Spear was murdered.  This is news way back in Jan. 10, 2014.  Here’s an excerpt: 

Beauty queen Monica Spear posted scenic photos and videos of the Venezuelan countryside online in the days before her death.

Now, days after attackers gunned down the soap opera star and her ex-husband, investigators say Spear's camera was a key link that helped them track down her killers.

Police found the camera inside the home of one of seven suspects authorities have arrested in connection with the slayings, the head of Venezuela's national crime investigation agency said Thursday. Four suspects are still on the loose, he said.

No one has been charged, but officials say there is evidence linking the group of suspected gang members to the double homicide.

My opinion: That’s sad, but at least they caught the killers.

Charlie Bouthuell found: Does anyone remember this story way back in Jul. 11, 2014?  It’s this 12 yr old black boy who went missing.  The story was then broken by Nancy Grace where she tells the father Charlie Bothuell IV that his son Charlie Bothuell V has been found alive in his own basement.  Here’s the video.  I don’t really like Nancy Grace, maybe because of the accent.  But I had to watch this because it was so interesting to see the dad’s reaction that his son was found alive.

Here’s an excerpt of an article: 

Michigan state officials set in motion the process of stripping a couple of their parental rights after their 12-year-old son was discovered hiding in the basement of their Detroit home and accused his father and stepmother of abuse.

Detailed allegations of physical and mental abuse were filed this week as the state tries to terminate the parental rights of Charlie Bothuell IV.

Monique Dillard-Bothuell, the boy's stepmother and mother of two other children, is also at risk of losing custody after it was revealed that she had allegedly threatened her stepson. No criminal charges have been filed against the parents.

I checked my basement,' Bothuell said. 'The FBI checked my basement. The police checked my basement. My wife checked my basement. I've been down there several times. We've all been checking.'

Youtube comment by Andrew A:  “Hey finding a black person in the dark is hard okay.”

My opinion: I thought Andrew A was kind of funny.  Now that I read this article, I can believe the step mom is on the abuse and hiding her stepson.  I don’t know if the dad was in on it too.

Teen mugshot: Now to end the email/ blog post with something light.  This was on Yahoo news on Aug. 19, 2014:

“Best police photo ever? Teen gets mugshot wearing T-shirt with previous mugshot on it”:  Look at the picture.  I thought it was interesting.

Dec. 15 Maus: On Nov. 22, 2014, I Google “Elizabeth Withey not necessarily an easy read about the Maus comics.  Instead I got this other article of hers about the Life of Pi author Yann Martel.

The article I was really looking for was about this:

Maus is a graphic novel completed in 1991 by American cartoonist Art Spiegelman. It depicts Spiegelman interviewing his father about his experiences as a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor. The book uses postmodern techniques—most strikingly in its depiction of races of humans as different kinds of animals, with Jews as mice, Germans as cats and non-Jewish Poles as pigs. Maus has been described as memoir, biography, history, fiction, autobiography, or a mix of genres. In 1992 it became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Dec. 28 2014 Hall of Infamy Awards: Each year, there is the Globe and Mail travel section written by John Lee who compiles all the funny, crazy travel stories of people’s bad behaviors when they’re traveling and on vacation.  Here’s one: 

The “You Put Your Right Leg In” Award

… goes to the drunken passenger on a flight to Scotland from Tunisia who was so incensed that her increasingly shouty demands for “cigarettes and a parachute” were being ignored that she removed her prosthetic leg and threw it at flight attendants. After kicking at the crew with her remaining leg and allegedly slapping a nearby child for good measure, the woman was restrained. The plane was diverted to London Gatwick, where police escorted her from the flight – and the remaining passengers reportedly started singing the Hokey Pokey.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

From our family to yours this season

                              Dear Tracy,
From our family to yours, thank you for all you have 
done to help others!
Keep warm, nourished and loved.

With gratitude,
The team at Food Banks Canada
You can read our full Stone Soup story here

"Storytellers have a right to fair pay"/ literary agents

Nov. 5 "Storytellers have a right to fair pay": I cut out this Edmonton Journal article called “Storytellers have a right to fair pay” by Joanne Harris on Jul. 18, 2014.  The subtitle is: “Writers' income has plummeted in last decade.”  Here’s the whole article:

Samuel Johnson once said: "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money."

If so, then there are a lot of blockheads (including me) in the books business, and a lot more eager to enter it. Most authors are driven to write - would probably write whether or not they were ever published or paid, just for the joy of it.

This is their strength and their downfall. With the exception of a canny few who treat art as a business, writers are often reluctant to think of their work as just another product. We do not like to think of our books as units, to be bought and sold.

And yet, to the publishing industry, that's exactly what they are: the product of thousands of hours of work - of editing, copyediting, design, marketing, proofreading and promotion. It takes a lot of people to help create and publish a book. And although the creator - the writer - is surely the most important of these, the average author's earnings have fallen quite dramatically over the past 10 years or so.

Part of the problem is that, thanks to the media, the public has a distorted view of what the average author's life is like. Not everyone can expect the kind of success earned by Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. If anything, quite the reverse. According to the recent survey by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society in the U.K., the average fulltime author's earnings have dropped by 29 per cent since 2005. The number whose sole income derives from writing has been slashed from 40 per cent to just 11.5 per cent.

I am one of the lucky few who still earns a better than-average salary just from writing. But that hasn't always been the case. For 15 years, I worked full-time as a teacher, making progress on my novels whenever I could. Most successful authors have known a time when their work was not as successful, a time when they struggled to make ends meet (as did Rowling before her Potter novels took off). As a result, we know full well that the world does not owe us a living.

But the drop in authors' earnings is not simply due to market forces. Pressures within publishing; the emphasis on marketing the bestsellers at the expense of the mid-list; the easy availability of free digital content; a public increasingly used to the lower pricing of ebooks - all these have played their part in making authors feel the pinch. A few of us are wealthy. But most - yes, even ones you've heard of - are finding it harder to earn money creating the books that they, and you, love.

Some of this is due to exploitative contracts, the fact that our work is shared or downloaded online without permission. But if even authors are reluctant to see what they do as a real job, deserving of a real salary, then who can blame the public for taking advantage of their work? There are things that can be done: Make it easier to pay for copyrighted content online; encourage publishers to be more forthcoming with their data; track down piracy; combat the apathy of those who see copyright theft as inevitable; draw up fairer contracts. All these things are practical solutions to a very real problem.

But the most important - and possibly the most difficult - thing is to promote respect and appreciation for writing, of whatever sort, and for those who produce it. The authors whose books we enjoy have the same right to fair pay as the actors we watch on TV, or the people who empty our trash cans, or anyone whose labour brings us any kind of benefit. Yes, most authors love writing. That doesn't mean others should benefit from their work for free.

Stories - even fairy stories - are not just entertainment. Stories are important. They help us understand who we are. They teach us empathy, respect for other cultures, other ideas. They help us articulate concepts that cannot otherwise be expressed. Stories help us communicate; they bring us together; they teach us different ways to see the world. Their value may be intangible, but it is still real.

That's why our politicians, far from closing libraries, should be opening new ones. That's why our thinkers, instead of dismissing fairy tales as fantasy, should celebrate creativity. That's why our schools, instead of teaching literature in the way that gets the best grades, should be using it to fire pupils' enthusiasm and imagination. In the dark old days, the storyteller always had the best place by the campfire. Those days may be gone, but the power of story remains. It's time we acknowledged that, and brought our authors out of the cold.

A Creative Mom: I cut out this Edmonton Journal article “Who’s their big inspiration?  A creative mom” by Elizabeth Withey on May 10, 2014.  It was in time for Mother’s Day.  It interviewed people who are visual artists, musicians, architects and writers.  Here’s an excerpt of one of the moms:

Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail Writer and Edmonton's historian laureate, age 31:

"My mom, Mary Metcalfe, went to Carleton journalism school and really fell in love with communications and always nursing this creative side of herself. I saw, growing up, that she could make a living with words and ideas, which was pretty inspirational. She branched out on her own and started her own communications consultant company. She has also written a trilogy of contemporary women's fiction.

In the last five years her focus shifted to novels and she looked for an agent but had battled cancer and realized the clock was ticking, so she decided to self-publish. Then she created her own publishing company, Laskin. She is also freelance editing and doing other writing work.

"She's a talented writer but she's always been really good at encouraging writers and she's been my editor since grade school. In large part I became a writer because of her, and also because of my dad, Jacques Chenail, who's heavily involved in translation. My mom's entrepreneurial spirit really influenced me and showed me I could go outside the traditional routes of academic writing or traditional publishing and make my own path. And she's always surrounded me with books and opportunities to meet with books and other writers in the literary community in Ottawa where I grew up."

My opinion: It was uplifting and inspirational to read.

Dec. 13 Literary agents: I found this article “‘A Right Fit’: Navigating the World of Literary Agents” by Michael Bourne on Aug. 15, 2012.  It was in my “parking lot” email and it was probably during the beginning of 2014 when I was going and deleting my old emails.  This is a long article about how Bourne struggled to find a literary agent and his tips on how to get an agent.  Here is an excerpt: 

If that sounds like I’m saying, “It’s all about who you know,” that’s because that is exactly what I’m saying. You can rail about how unfair that is, and how it makes publishing into an incestuous little club, and to a degree you would be right: a lot of very dumb books get published because somebody knew somebody. But that’s the way the machine is built, people. It may come a-tumbling down in the near future in the face of e-books and indie publishers, but for now, if you want to get published by a major publisher, you have two choices: you can keep banging your head against a wall and be angry, or you can figure out how to get yourself into the club.

To do that, you have to immerse yourself in the literary community. Five years ago, with my first book, I sent roughly 60 query letters to agents and editors at smaller publishing houses. I had an MFA, a few publications in small literary magazines, and not much else. My success rate – that is, the percentage who asked to see all or part of the manuscript – scraped along at about 10%. It was, let me tell you, dispiriting as hell. Then I went to a couple writing conferences, and my success rate began to climb. I met agents in person and told them about my book. I met other writers who referred me to their agents. By the end, my book was getting read by about half of the people I sent it to, a fair number of whom seriously considered taking it on.

That experience, painful as it was, taught me more about writing than I ever would have expected. Agents and editors began writing me real letters, not form rejections, but long, thoughtful responses telling me precisely where they had stopped reading with interest and why. Until then, I had always written for other writers – classmates, friends, the dead greats I imagined myself competing with – but that experience taught me to write for a reader, a smart, curious person who just wants to be told a good story.

My opinion: It was a very informative article on how to get an agent.  I agree with the last part where the experience of him getting rejections, but he also learned a lot about writing.  I can relate because when I was pitching my script The Vertex Fighter to producers and writers-in- residences (mainly in 2008-2010, a little in 2011-2012), I got a lot of good feedback.

I got a lot constructive criticism on how to improve my script because they are objective.  All those people who read my script and I talked to, I have never met them.  They can really read the script and see the pros and cons. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Deep House Collection by Paulo Arruda (Part 5)

Deep House Collection 13 by Paulo Arruda 

A black and white photo of Paulo Arruda sitting on the steps.

Deep House Collection 14 by Paulo Arruda


A picture of the title in front of blue and yellow lights off a subway train.


Deep House Collection 15 by Paulo Arruda


A picture of Paulo Arruda wearing sunglasses and he's peaking out of white marble walls.



Cooking up family favourites...(Food Banks Canada)

Hi Tracy,
What’s your favourite comfort food?

Mine is chicken soup. Actually, my grandmother’s chicken soup.

I can’t count the number of times over the years I burned my tongue on the first spoonful — I simply couldn’t wait!
Like many Canadians — perhaps even you — I’m thinking about comfort food. I’m thinking about gathering with my loved ones and celebrating the joy of the holiday season. And food is always at the heart of it all.

Food is more than nourishment, it is comfort. We share food and stories with our loved ones over meals during the holiday season. And you can share the same comfort with men, women and children who are struggling in your community and across Canada right now.

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for families living near, or below, the poverty line. Between needing to purchase warm clothing for winter, heating the home and wanting to find a small gift for the kids, many families are stretched to the limit.

Your gift to Food Banks Canada ensures we can support local food banks across Canada so that men, women and children who go to their neighbourhood food bank receive quality, safe food to feed their families. And you help ensure that community meal programs offered by our partner organizations have what they need to provide delicious holiday meals at homeless shelters, women’s shelters, meal delivery programs for seniors and more.

Please take a moment right now and make your special year-end gift to 

Food Banks Canada. Your gift will go to work right away sharing food with your neighbours and fellow Canadians.
Thank you for giving comfort and joy, 

Katharine Schmidt 
Executive Director  
P.S. GREAT NEWS! Your holiday gift to Food Banks Canada is being matched up to a maximum of $25,000 by Quaker® Canada, Tostitos® Canada, and parent company PepsiCo CanadaPlease give today and double the impact of your gift!

Double your impact for human rights by Dec. 31

Donate today and help us reunite families.

You helped reunite me with my loved ones.Please help us reunite more families.
Donate by Dec. 31st and your gift will be doubled
Dear Tracy,

I know the pain of being imprisoned and tortured firsthand.
For two years I was imprisoned in Iran. I was sentenced to death for simply criticizing the Islamic Revolution. They subjected me to unspeakable abuse. I was only sixteen years old.

You can imagine the profound joy I felt to be reunited with my family after those years in prison.

But there are so many more people that need your help. Please help Amnesty International continue its vital work to free wrongfully imprisoned men and women around the world, and make sure that we end torture, everywhere, and forever.
As a special offer, if you donate before the end December 31st, your gift will be doubled by a generous donor who will match donations to support Amnesty's work to end torture everywhere and forever.
Tracy, please watch this special video message from myself and other Canadians who survived torture and were freed in part because of Amnesty's work on their behalf.

Please help Amnesty International reunite more families like mine and Abdullah’s, and remember that your donation to Amnesty before December 31st will be doubled.

I never gave up hope when I was imprisoned and tortured. I felt in my heart that I would eventually be released. Amnesty International’s tireless efforts remind me that we CAN reunite families when we never give up.

We need your help this holiday season.
When someone is wrongfully imprisoned, every holiday away from their family is profoundly painful for everyone.

Donate today and help reunite more families. It’ll be the best gift you could give – and the best gift anyone can get.

Thank you,

Marina Nemat
Canadian Author 
P.S. Fellow Canadian Huseyin Celil has been imprisoned in China for more than seven years on spurious charges following a blatantly unfair trial and appeal. And all while his wife, Kamila, and their four children wait for him to come home to Hamilton, Ontario. Your donation today is a reminder that you are lucky enough to be able to see your loved ones this season. Please, donate now and help reunite families like Huseyin’s.

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