Martha Bennett on completing her first manuscript

Martha Bennett

A Closer Look

Martha Bennett
Valdasota, Georgia

Genre: Memoir

Through Manuscript Tune-Up, I get to work closely with writers of all sorts. Some are experienced, award-winning writers who have published many books and are looking for a critical second set of eyes on a manuscript before sharing with their agent or publisher. And others are first time authors, completing a project of fiction, memoir, or nonfiction.

In the coming year, I’m planning to profile a number of writers who have completed Manuscript Tune-Up to share their tips and experiences in the program.

First up is Martha Bennett. Martha is primarily a nonfiction writer. A retired teacher, she divides her time between Georgia and eastern Prince Edward Island.

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Tell us about your writing project, Martha.

Shortly after retiring from a teaching career spanning 28 years, I began writing the stories of experiences I had with students, teachers, principals and schools that I thought demonstrated good educational practices. My thinking was these stories would become an inspiration book for new teachers.

Why did you decide to work with an editor?

I was tired of rewriting my stories. I felt like I needed the input from someone who was not a family member who would read my manuscript with a writer’s sensibility and who would give me honest feedback.

What was it like to work with Trevor in the editing process? Any surprises?

When I met Trevor at a writing workshop on PEI, I thought he was someone I could trust to help me with my manuscript. His teaching style reassured me that he would be kindly analytical, encouraging and insightful. And he has been all of those things!! The big surprise for me has been that his comments and analysis of my manuscript have inspired me to continue to expand my writing as a memoir of my teaching career that will include stories demonstrating how this new teacher became an experienced teacher recognized for her creativity in the classroom. Another surprise was the understanding that these new stories may increase this book’s inspirational value for new teachers.

Any words of advice for other writers considering Manuscript Tune-Up?

Readiness was a key factor in my decision to contract with Trevor for a Manuscript Tune-Up. I needed someone who would read what I had written and then enable me to see what was missing, what was not clear, and where I could show and not tell. Having a list of questions to ask Trevor during our first conversation caused me to clarify expectations of the process.

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With thanks to Martha Bennett. If you’d like to learn more about Manuscript Tune-Up, be in touch. Note that spaces in Manuscript Tune-Up are limited and quite often fill up well in advance of published start dates. Two spots remain for Fall, 2019.

Congrats Terra Bruhm, 2019 Write By the Sea scholarship winner

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Congratulations to Terra Bruhm of Halifax, this year’s winner of a full scholarship to the Write By the Sea writing retreat!

We received many incredible applications for the retreat. Writers from across the Maritimes submitted strong excerpts from their fiction, memoir, and poetry projects. Terra’s work impressed us for its savvy and nuanced portrayal of a raucous family holiday meal. Equal parts humour and drama, her excerpt is evidence of a highly accomplished work-in-progress.

Terra Bruhm is a nonfiction writer and poet from Moncton, New Brunswick. She holds a Combined Honours Degree in Journalism and Early Modern Studies and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from the University of King’s College. She currentlyworks as a Student Success Advisor at Dalhousie University.

Asked about the award, Terra says that life and financial commitments can make it difficult for writers to complete major projects.

“This scholarship will give me the time, space and support I need to take my manuscript to the next level. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity.” 

Terra will be working on her debut memoir, The Robin’s Egg. It outlines the details of her life from the time she was kidnapped by her mother in 1983 until she was reunited with her father in June of 2008. It chronicles the aftermath of the reunion, and the impact it had on her life and on the lives of her biological and honorary family members.

Write By the Sea is a five-day writing retreat set in Victoria-by-the-Sea on PEI’s South Shore, June 23-28. Hosted jointly by One Life Writing and Yoga with Joshua, the retreat allows writers dedicated time to work on particular projects, focus on elements of craft, and delve into supplementary workshops like yoga for writers and mindfulness activities. Stay tuned for our dates and announcement for next year’s retreat.

Will PEI Start a New Green Wave?

Here’s the snazzy image created for the story by the folks at The Walrus.

Here’s the snazzy image created for the story by the folks at The Walrus.

This month, I published my first essay in The Walrus. Called ‘Will PEI Start a New Green Wave?”, it explores the popularity of the PEI Green Party heading into a spring election on PEI, and the impact a potential win (or strong finish) would have on the Green Party federally.

This piece was truly a labour of love. I had the chance to speak to Islanders supporting the Green Party, interview party leader Peter Bevan-Baker, speak to a national pollster, and interview a political scientist at UPEI. I learned lots more about PEI and its reputation for innovative, ahead-of-the-curve environmental policies.

For example, PEI is a global leader in wind energy, producing 25% of its energy from wind. In July, 2019, the province will enact a province-wide plastic bag ban. PEI leads the country in composting rates and has one of the strictest, most comprehensive waste-sorting programs in the country.

All of this because of the fragile nature of the island. Living so close to the sea, folks are more aware of the devastating impacts of climate change. This is one of the reasons cited by the folks I spoke to about their support for Peter Bevan-Baker and the PEI Greens.

You can read the full article here.

'Saving Face' longlisted for the CBC Short Story Award

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I’m very excited that my short story ‘Saving Face’ was longlisted for the 2019 CBC Short Story Prize. This is the third time I’ve been longlisted for the award. ‘Saving Face’ tells the story of two men who meet in a hotel bar in Beijing. It was one of 31 stories longlisted this year. Although I’ve never won the prize, it’s always great to be recognized by a group of peer writers for one of Canada’s most prestigious short story prizes.

On CBC, I described my inspiration for the story as follows:

"I used to travel to China frequently for work and found both the alienation and surprising moments of personal connection in Chinese cities very powerful. Beijing is a city steeped in history but also very futuristic, a place where status and power are important. I wanted to explore how a chance encounter — in an era of unprecedented state surveillance — can offer a fleeting opportunity for intimacy between two men.”

You can read the first few paragraphs of the story on the CBC website. Also, if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to consider submitting to the CBC Literary Awards (short story, nonfiction, and poetry). It’s a great opportunity to showcase your work.

Write by the Sea...PEI writing retreat set for June 23-28!

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MAKE SPACE FOR YOUR WRITING.

Welcome yourself into the first days of summer with this idyllic five-day writing retreat on PEI’s gorgeous South Shore. Designed for both new and experienced writers, Write by the Sea combines writing workshops, dedicated solo writing time, special events designed to showcase the Island’s spectacular arts and culinary scenes, and plenty of time to relax and unwind.

Join author Trevor Corkum and yoga teacher Joshua Lewis to make time for your writing and deepen your commitment to creativity. Each morning, we’ll gather for daily writing workshops in the gorgeously refurbished Victoria School House. After a light lunch, afternoons will allow for both solo writing time and optional cultural activities, such as kayaking, food tastings, and cycling—or let yourself take advantage of the week to explore the Island on your own. Evenings feature a combination of group dinners and free time for further writing or exploration. We’ll cap it off with a Thursday night cabaret and an optional chance to read your work to the group.

This intimate retreat is set in vibrant, eclectic Victoria-by-the-Sea, a small fishing village turned flourishing artist colony. Victoria’s sumptuous restaurants and pubs stand side by side with an array of artisan shops. Visit potters, sculptors, painters, glass makers, and candle makers. Tempt yourself with handcrafted Island chocolates. See a show or enjoy a concert at the renowned Victoria Playhouse. Or end the evening with a glass of wine overlooking the ocean. Victoria is a compact village nestled on the coast, with its own small beach and coastal walking trails. Our retreat hotel, The Orient, is a historic Victoria landmark, offering rustic charm and a cozy home base for travellers since 1900.

Writing practice will be guided by Trevor, an award-winning author and creative writing instructor. Whether you are curious about writing, love to journal, have been working on a secret memoir, or have a specific fiction, nonfiction, or other project in mind, this retreat will give you ample space to commit time, energy and focus to your practice. Guided activities will include responding to prompts, discussion on craft and technique, interactive storytelling activities, and the opportunity to complete a short piece during the week. No prior writing experience is necessary, and there will be no expectation that you share your work if you prefer to simply indulge in some quiet writing time.

Optional mindfulness activities and yoga workshops will be led by Joshua in his signature all-levels accessible and inclusive style. Long-time practitioners, as well as those with little or no experience, will find Joshua’s embodied and inspired teaching methodology to be approachable and profoundly impactful – calming and soothing for the body, mind and the heart.

Check out the retreat information pages for more information, including registration and accommodation information. Special pre-release and earlybird program rates from $675 per person!

If you’re looking for a yoga-focused Island retreat, we’ll be hosting Yoga by the Sea in Prince Edward Island from August 25-30. More information coming soon.