Donna Morrissey Workshop: Exclusive Event – Extraordinary Writer!




   2-Day Creative Writing:   Sept. 11 & 12   COBOURG, ON.

Whether writing memoir or fiction you need a voice that engages a reader, and a structure upon which to build your stories.   

This workshopFinding Voice AND Structuring STORYwill help you:

✔Create Stories from poignant moments from your past; a moment of truth you have experienced or a significant personal event.
✔ Learn how Voice is your personal presence, that elusive quality that makes your writing unique, conveying your attitude, personality, character, and point of view.
✔ Understand the main ingredient Plot offers your story, and develop a blue-print upon which to structure your stories.
✔ Focus your skills of Writing With Tension through techniques that leave your readers excited as you pull emotional responses from your characters.

Designed for:  Beginning writers eager for results; those wishing to enrich their writing skills; those wishing to play with words and develop right brain thinking.

September, Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th, 2016.   10am – 3:30pm

Saturday –  Day 1: Voice & Plot

Sunday –   Day 2: Creating Tension & Writing Fiction from Real Life 

Fee:   $ 195.00 for 2 days.   $115.00 for 1 day.  * Payment at the door as per 1 or 2 day choice

Location: Best Western Plus: 930 Burnham St., Cobourg (Victoria Room)

To REGISTER for the Workshop email: or

The Fortunate Brother Donna Morrissey    

“Donna Morrissey is a genius teacher and writer. I’ve never had such fun and such good learning combined in the one package.  A truly remarkable experience.  Professor V. Ismet Ugursal, PhD, PEng, FCSME, Dalhousie University.”

Donna is the author of six award-winning novels, and a Gemini Award. She teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University, Halifax, and Humber College, Toronto. Her work has been translated into Japanese, Dutch, German and Italian.

“Mischling” by Affinity Konar: Excruciating, Exquisite, Essential.

Mischling” is the story of twins Pearl & Stasha, captured by Nazis, imprisoned & barbarously tortured in the ‘Zoo’ at Auschwitz, run by Josef Mengele. Konar’s novel is outstanding, staggering – it left me speechless. It’s a book as difficult to read as it is important in regards to subject. It’s history impeccably-woven into fiction. Amidst the most unimaginable atrocities, Konar has forged a story of love, spirit & kinship, not only between sisters but among the diverse people Pearl & Stasha encounter in the most astonishing situations.

The girls are 11 when rounded with their mother & grandfather Zayde, the latter a former biology professor. It’s from him that they have learned ‘The Classification of Living Things’ – once a game they played for entertainment, it quickly morphs into a way to survive. Of course the essence of “Mischling is that all humans fall into the classification of living things except where the Third Reich are concerned. The translation of ‘mischling’ is hybrid or ‘half-breed.’. This is how the girls & all non-Aryan Germans are viewed by the Nazi-imposed stratification. But the fact that they are twins makes them ‘special’ for Mengele & this heinous differentiation forces them to cope in ingenuous ways.

They decide that Pearl, older by minutes, will be in charge of the sad, the good, the past. She will also become keeper of time & memory. Stasha must care for the funny, the future, the bad. One is careful, practical, the other a “dreamer” who will be driven by vengeance but in so many ways, they are of one mind, heart & spirit. How can one read a book where the subject is Nazi camps, children & Mengele without the initial reaction that it will be ‘too much’? You cannot if you are humane. But the sublime beauty of Konar’s story is the overwhelming moments of hope that shine through; not only with the sisters but so many other ‘people’ living through this murderous time.

We know of the survivors stories & the inimitable courage & passion for life that each person possessed – Konar is able to incorporate that very quality in the characters of “Mischling.”  This in itself is a magnificent feat. Pearl, Stasha (& the countless people on whom they are rendered) leave a monumental imprint on the reader’s mind & soul. Characters like Bruna, Dr. Miri, Feliks, Jakub, Sophie & so many more – each are exquisitely-human & unforgettable. It’s these figures, combined with Stasha & Pearl, that make this such an inspiring novel; one that a reader will be committed to after the first pages.  

Affinity Konar spent 10 years researching, crafting and writing this novel; the efforts show on each page. It began when she read  the seminal 1992 non-fiction, Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz  by  Lucette Matalon Lagnado.  The fate of the children of Auschwitz, the fact that Mengele was never held accountable for his crimes became knowledge that set her on a course that ultimately ended with  the publication of “Mischling

As an independent bookseller of 17 yrs., I’m honoured to affirm that Affinity Konar’s novel is uniquely, irrefutably extraordinary! “Mischling is ‘inhumanely-human.’ Konar’s writing is luminous, impeccably-researched, accurate in its horror, despair & yet, is singularly full of grace. Readers will come away from “Mischling” with added knowledge & appreciation for Affinity Konar’s contribution to literature. They will also reap the gift of renewed gratitude for their own personal freedoms, joys & lives. Mischling” is a ‪#‎MustRead Book of 2016!

Sept. 6th N.A. Release:   Lee Boudreaux Books  Random House of Canada & Little, Brown and Company 

Publishing Links:…

Historical Information:-…/two-survivors-roma…
Children of the Flames: Dr. Josef Mengele and the Untold Story of the Twins of Auschwitz by Lucette Matalon Lagnado from Penguin Random House, 1992…/children-of-the-flames…/




To Learn the Truth at 17: “All the Things We Leave Behind” by Riel Nason.

New Brunswick author Riel Nason’s “All the Things We Leave Behind” is a powerfully original & haunting coming of age story narrated by 17-year-old Violet. In 1977, Violet is left to run the family’s Purple Barn Antique shop when her parents go to search for clues about her missing older brother, Bliss. Our narrator is firmly in charge of the storytelling but that which Violet ‘says & does not say’ are equally important. Violet recalls her family’s move to the small southern New Brunswick town where she &her brother Bliss hear myriad schoolyard tales. The legend-like story of their town that was once submerged in water, tales of a boneyard made up of mainly deer hit by cars and trucks on the busy highway & most eerie, the ghost deer that remain.

Nason’s masterful use of onomatology & animal symbolism is subtle and fundamental. It lends this novel a rich layer of poignancy & strength, much like the places that are subsumed when the town dammed the river & homes, places & people were displaced and forever changed. What is true & what is not? Is Violet a reliable narrator? For instance, mythology associated with deer is that they represent the messenger of serenity & can see between shadows and hear what isn’t being said. Indeed, “All the Things We Leave Behind” is a ‪#‎MustRead‬ but be forewarned to read carefully. Riel leaves clues.

Nason is a New Brunswick author who utilizes native landscape, legend & life impeccably. Her cast of supporting characters are fully-realized & essential to the ‘truths’ inherent within this superb novel. Riel Nason’s uses the siblings childhood recollections & Violet’s young adult interpretations of past & present life to build a beautiful novel about family. The culminating achievement of “All The Things We Leave Behind” is Riel Nason’s shrewd exploration of the ways in which children & adults cope with stories &, even more importantly, with life’s often-hard truths. Nason has created a mesmerizing novel of remembrance & discovery that ultimately includes Violet’s revelation that somewhere between facts & fiction lies the unavoidable truths in life.

On sale now!
Goose Lane Editions / Nimbus Publishing and Vagrant Press
Author Site:…

“Underground Airlines” Ben H. Winters: Look Abroad, Look Around, Be Terrified.


Underground Airlines” by Ben H. Winters: Look Abroad, Look Around, Be Terrified.






    “Underground Airlines” by Ben H. Winters  “Read & Recommended’ by Bibliobroads

Julie about which she wrote: “This is a gripping, page turning story that cuts close to the bone of the current social commentary. It scared the bejeezus out of me‼️” Alternate history in which the Civil War in U.S. did not happen. Slavery is accepted practice in four states – ‘the Hard Four.’ Meet Victor, Jackdaw & Martha Flowers.
Hachette Book Group Canada / Little, Brown and Company
Controversial novel! Till tomorrow The book trailer…teaser! 😉

Full Review: “Underground Airlines”  by Ben H. Winters




“We forget how close we still are to slavery,” Winters says. “I thought I would take a metaphorical idea—that slavery is still with us—and transform it through fiction into a literal idea.”   Ben H. Winters*

Underground Airlines” by Ben H. Winters is a highly-anticipated speculative fiction in which slavery & its myriad evils still exist in present day America. The novel drew controversy prior to publication on the subject of appropriation of voice & race; Winters is a white Jewish man writing in the narrative voice of Victor, a black man.
In July, 2016 The New York Times Books ran a piece in July entitled: ‘In His New Novel, Ben Winters Dares to Mix Slavery and Sci-Fi.’** In questioning whether Winters is the best person to tell such a volatile, chilling story one must first read the work in question. Bibliobroads have done so, ( & have read its’ many reviews- links below) & highly-recommended this searing, visceral & frighteningly ‘real’ novel.
Look to current American politics, the rise of Donald Trump & his diatribes of hate; look to other countries in world & the slavery rates therein, at countries at war within their own nations & with other countries – over religion, politics & racial injustice. “Underground Airlines” is perfectly-timed in ‘real world terms.’
Winters protagonist is former slave Victor – a loner with a mysterious past who has been granted his freedom under murky circumstances. Winters use of the ‘noir-type’ genre & ‘detective’ elements add to the portrayal of an inherently dangerous, volatile world in which the novel’s characters struggle to exist. Victor survives by becoming a bounty hunter. He ‘uses’ his race to track runaways & this job garners him great ‘success,’ especially when he penetrates an abolitionist group called ‘Underground Airlines.’

With sensitivity & ruthless accuracy, Winters renders the tensions & complexities that Victor must confront within himself as he hunts for the elusive Jackdaw. Simultaneously, he befriends Martha Flowers, a white woman with a son of colour. There is no ‘cheap’ romance between the latter two; Winters is dealing with Victor’s conflicted sense of self, morals & humanity. How can he survive, let alone prosper, in this world where skin colour determines a person’s fate.

Mystery writer Attica Locke is quoted in the NYT piece. Upon looking at the author photo for “American Airlines” said she was ‘taken aback at first.’ She said, “The premise was just like, ‘Wait, what now?’ “For me, as a black writer, I have to be like, ‘What’s Ben trying to do here?’” She then read the novel & was “blown away.” Locke added, “There’s always this chatter about who gets to tell which stories, and I’m so grateful that he did not let his choice to have a black protagonist scare him away from the project, because this is everybody’s history.”

On Ben H. Winters’ webpage, her refers to the ‘controversy’ as “Concern” & addresses this issues at length in articles & podcasts (see link). In a Kirkus Reviews interview Winters said, “I approach the possibility of concern with great respect and humility …and with an understanding that there has been a history of white artists appropriating black voices and black works for their own ends. All I can do is stand behind the work.”
Underground Airlines” makes a reader think about the terrifying ramifications of a ‘what if’ reality. That which resonates is ‘how far we have come’ in equality & yet how horribly close some people’s lives are to the exploited & abused in “Underground Airlines.” Look to the 2016 Global Slavery Index for impact & proof.+ That is what great art should do- make us react, feel, think . Winters says on his author page, The whole art form is about empathy… No, I will never know what it’s really like to be black, but I can, through as much imagination as I can bring to it, create this individual. That’s my job.” Ben H. Winters does his job exceptionally well with “Underground Airlines.

Hachette Book Group Canada / Mulholland Books
Considered Reviews:…/book-review-underground-airl……/underground-airlines-ben-winters-kindr……/book-reviews-ben-h-winters-undergroun…/…/underground-airlines-is-an-extraordina…











Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” America, Hades & Truth.




The Underground Railroad  by Colson Whitehead: America. Hades & Truth. FullSizeRender

“Look outside as you speed through, and you’ll find the true   face of America.”  

‘Read & Recommended’ by Bibliobroads & Oprah Winfrey!!)
Note: date of my original #MustRead post = June 1st (just sayin’)😉

Yeah, so…. #OprahEffect! What the hell can I add now except to concur that “The Underground Railroad” is indeed extraordinary. This novel seamlessly weaves ‘stories within stories’ – myth & reality, slavery & America, past vs. present, mothers & child, freedom & bondage (both physical & emotional), lovers & friends, religion vs. science (‘the Almanac’), love, hate & indifference, the known & the unknown, life, death & ‘living death.’ As within reality, Whitehead depicts the complex degrees of each comparison & the ‘shades of grey’ that make up all human experiences; of all realms.

Cora, the main character is as unforgettable as Whitehead’s tale itself. The myth of Persephone (Hades, Demeter & the Underworld) is subtle yet essential to the narrative. Cora, a variant of the Greek KORË, meaning ‘maiden’ is an alternate name for the Greek goddess Persephone. This is but one of the multi-faceted layers of “The Underground Railroad.”

Reading this novel, I kept recalling the old adage: ‘be careful of what you think you know & what ‘s the truth.’ Colson Whitehead is masterful writer who illustrates the minds & souls of so many different people &, the ‘souls’ of places – be they American, Canadian, African, British- both above & ‘underground.’ Miss Oprah, great pick!

Penguin Random House Canada
*Author Site:
*Publisher link:
*History of Ouidah, Africa
*Oprah Winfrey Book Pick Video:
*The ‘Oprah Effect’ – Electric Literature
*Select Reviews:

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Haunting the Past, Present & Future: “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson


“Who hasn’t walked through a life of small tragedies?”  “Another Brooklyn

This slim novel is packed with wisdom, sorrow & the truth of what is means to be a young African-American girl coming of age in 1970’s Brooklyn. It’s heartbreaking in its beauty. August, the main character & narrator, peers through the kaleidoscope of memory – the ways in which they constantly shift, blur, fragment & constantly influence her view of her self & life.

Having returned to Brooklyn for her father’s funeral, she sees a childhood friend & slides into remembrances of her youth. Adult August is an anthropologist who specializes in the ways in which cultures treat ‘their dead.’ I am the same age as Woodson; she recalls the 70’s with truth & exactitude. Enter memory…ghostlike & sure-footed.

Young August is born & partially raised in SweetGrove, Tenn. with her younger brother, mother & father. Their content life is irrevocably changed when her maternal uncle Clyde, a Howard graduate & integral part of her family, is killed in Viet Nam. The mother’s bereavement & mental instability propels the father back to his hometown of Brooklyn, with 8-year old August & her four-year old brother. Aside from Clyde, no family member is named – this is August’s story, memory & life; who & how it relates to her- be it familial, social, emotional or spiritual.

Woodson hauntingly illustrates the slippery nature of memory and, the fierce, tender love inherent in girlhood friendships. August has 3 girls: Gigi, Sylvia & Angela. They too have secrets, fears, ambitions & enormous capacity for love, especially for each other. Each has a story, each is beautifully realized: we care about these characters & their fate. Woodson perfectly captures the horror of missing a parent, of poverty fear & the divinity of friends & inclusion. We care about each of these girls & their futures (but read on…).

Jacqueline Woodson is world-renowned & a multi-award recipient of numerous prestigious literary prizes. This is her 1st adult novel is her 20 years. Like August, she grew up in South & in Brooklyn. Woodson says of her childhood,, “The South was so lush and so slow-moving and so much about community. The city was thriving and fast-moving and electric. Brooklyn was so much more diverse: on the block where I grew up…” This dichotomy & diversity, as experienced by August, gives “Another Brooklyn” not only geographical comparisons but ethnic, socio-political, & ‘individual contrasts’ with subtle brilliance.

Without ‘spoilers’ August does flourish but her past is a ‘second skin’- it shapes who she becomes, just as it does for all people. Part memory & part coming-of-age story , this novel is stunning & unforgettable. I’ve been a bookseller 15+ years & would easily recommend this novel to both young adults & adults. “Another Brooklyn” is full of ‘small tragedies’ but like human existence, it’s also sprinkled with love, understanding & grace.


Harper Collins Canada:  Released August 9, 2016
Author Site:
Additional Woodson Reading:

Haunting the Past, Present & Future: “Another Brooklyn” by Jacqueline Woodson


“I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh” The Real Deal.

I Let You Go” by Clare Mackintosh: ‘The ‘Real Deal.’

Clare Mackintosh “I Let You Go” ‘Read & Recommended’ by Sandra Benne Owner Let’s Talk Books & Bibliobroads
‘What a twist!!! Never saw it coming! Read it before someone spoils it for you! “I Let You Go” is the mystery of Summer 2016! Be the beholder of this Summer’s secret! The author is a master crime novelist, getting the reader to look ‘over there’ then hitting you with a big BANG, when she brings you back to the ‘moment.’ Clare Mackintosh is a Fiction Magician – surrounding you with smoking mirrors!’ – Sandra

Bibliobroads on Clare Mackintosh: “The Real Deal.” 

Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel, “I Let You Go” is an undeniable blockbuster! A bestseller in throughout the world, has been translated into almost 30 languages & his month, won the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Yes, in the case of Clare Mackintosh, bestseller equates to excellence! The New York Times Books praises “I Let You Go” as a “truly shocking…cunning psychological thriller” & cites Mackintosh’s “great clarity” & writing talent, especially pertaining to plot twists: “It’s the reader’s own mind that bends to the subtle misdirections and evasions of her storytelling.” * Winner of the Crime Novel of 2016, blockbuster from U.K., N.A. & more “I Let You Go” is a  #MustRead! Mackintosh is a brilliant writer & exceptional woman!

Mackintosh’s backstory is fascinating & of great influence on her work. For 12 years she was on the police force; rising to the rank of police inspector and public order commander. At the same time, Clare & her spouse have four children, one of whom died as a newborn. Coping with such tragedy while continuing to work & later, having 2 more children (twins), the pace was simply too frenetic. In 2011, Mackintosh chose to leave the public service to work as a freelance journalist & social media consultant. She became the founder & director of Chipping Norton Literary Festival, & a columnist for Cotswold Life magazine. In 2012 she began “I Let You Go.”

For Mackintosh, ‘real life’ indeed influences her work – with empathy, skill, compassion & insight. “I felt really strongly that this sort of thing shouldn’t be a secret; shouldn’t be a shameful thing. That things like mental health were affecting so many people; and that losing a baby shouldn’t be a dirty secret,” Mackintosh stated. **  On the death of a child & postpartum depression (both subjects about which Mackintosh writes in her column & the novel,) she said, “I realised that however devastating grief is, however debilitating, somehow you find the strength to carry on. I wanted to explore that in my writing, and almost as soon as I had decided that, I had my central character. I knew Jenna was grieving, and I knew she was trying to escape her past, but I didn’t know why. I happened to see something online about the hit-and-run that had been part of the backdrop of my early years in the police, and I suddenly knew that was what Jenna was trying to block out.” The true crime that propels Mackintosh’s main character happened in Oxford & has never been solved or resolved.

The writing of “I Let You Go” combined Mackintosh’s professional expertise, her horrific personal experience, and undeniable writing skill, to create on of the most memorable crime novel in a decade. She says of the genre:
“The hardest elements to get right during the editing phase were the plot twists. I’m a huge fan of ‘gasp’ moments in books, and especially admire those twists that take the floor away from under you. Brilliant to read, but could I pull it off? ”
….Readers everywhere reply, Hell Yes!! 📚❤️

Clare Mackintosh’s second novel, “I See You” has just been published U.K. & will be released in N.A. April 2017. Get ready 🇨🇦😊ISeeYou_3D-240x300
Penguin Random House
Author Site: