What I’m doing this summer: dogwalkers mystery.


 Summer Vacation

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Fudge for Thought

Brown sugar melting with butter and milk, puckering up and popping a kiss of sweetness into the air, is there anything better?  In Dying to Go Viral (Fitzhenry Whiteside) Jade lists making fudge as one of the things she wants to do in the one week do-over of her life.  Where did the idea come from?

When I was a kid, the school used to have candy sales to raise money.  Everyone was supposed to make and bring in fudge, not something in my mom’s cooking repertoire

Still the night before we would gamely try with the ingredients at hand and without a candy thermometer.  We’d watch for the illusive soft ball stage in the candy.  Never worked.  Mom would roll the results in oatmeal and we’d bring in sticky balls of sweetness.  Here’s the scene from the book followed by a great recipe I used for my own book launch treats and an even easier chocolate recipe used by my daughter , JM Filipowicz (author of Wardroids, Double Dragon)

 Never Fail Fudge the recipe was called and I had all the ingredients except for evaporated milk but if I just let our regular two percent milk sit awhile, it would evaporate.  I left Never Fail on the screen and poured out the milk that it called for.IMG_3305

 In a pot I dumped a cup of butter and white sugar with the two cups of brown and then couldn’t be bothered to wait for the milk so I poured it in.  You were supposed to boil it to soft ball stage so I’d just boil it longer and the milk would evaporate then.

      It didn’t take long. With every bubble that popped from the boiling sugar and milk, a buttery sweet smell released into the air.


  I used a cold cup of water and dropped some sugar liquid in.  Nope, it barely formed a string.  I boiled some more, stirring with a big wooden spoon.  Next test, I got a blob, more the shape of a parachute than a ball. Ah, if you could only sky jump from a caramel parachute.


 Brown Sugar Fudge

3 cups brown sugar

¾ evaporated milk

1 cup butter

2 cups icing sugar

Boil the brown sugar, milk and butter for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, add the icing sugar and mix for 5 minutes.  Spread into greased 8 X 8” pan.  Cool before cutting.

 The beauty of this recipe is that there’s no thermometer needed and no testing the fudge by wasting droplets of it in a cup of cold water, the way Jade does, the way Mom and I did.  A cautionary note, the reviewer of the recipe suggests it doesn’t make much so double up.  If you do make a double batch the time for boiling would need to be increased.


An even easier recipe for chocolate fudge is


Chocolate Fudge

3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

 Melt the two together in the microwave, carefully not to burn.  Spread evenly in buttered 8 X 8.  Chill for a couple of hours.


The downside is you won’t experience the aroma of the sugar and chocolate in the air.For either recipe you can add vanilla and whatever nuts you are not allergic too.

 Enjoy this fudge with feet up as you read a book, preferably Dying to Go Viral.  Enter to win one of five free copies at Goodreads.




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Grant Me Creative Writing Money Canada Council

The Secret to Getting Grants

 Recently I attended a session at the Onwords Conference of The Writers’ Union of Canada called “The Desperate People” or “Get that Grant”. The speakers included Marion Vitrac, Program Officer for Canada Council’s Grants to Professional Writers, and novelists (applicants and judges) Denise Chong, Trevor Cole and Mark Frutkin. 

 Marion said the CC Applicant success rate is 10 to 20% immediately disputed by author Trevor who felt it was lower.  But here’s something she documented that happened to me.  First the peer jurors access all the projects and rate them.  The highly recommended ones receive grants until the money runs out.  This occurs late February.

 My project was deemed “highly recommended”, I received the note, no money.  This buoyed me up hugely.  Despite some many rejections from Canadian publishers who used to embrace my work, I realized my peers still felt I was a good writer.  But for the chance of a different wind blowing, I would have had the money and all my financial problems solved.

 In April, the fiscal year end for Canada Council, any undersubscribed grants in the other disciplines dump their funds into the Creative Writing pool and some lucky writers have their projects funded.  This wind blew a different way, and I received  a nice cheque.  This second Christmas is what fills in the difference between Trevor’s perception and the true percentage of grants awarded.

 Some of what the panel said seems like basic common sense but I will repeat what I remember in case it’s new to you.

 Take time to make a good application.  Like most writers I’m afraid to give the grant proposal too much emotional investment as then my heart will break when I don’t get it.  Let’s get over ourselves. Treat the application like an article, workshop the project description with your writing group or partner, set the whole thing aside for a few days and read it over against the grant requirements.

 The CV    Canada Council pays more attention to this than the Ontario Arts Council who asks for “blind” manuscript pages for their competition.  I have had much greater luck with Canada Council, 4 for 7 compared to the OAC, 1 for 6, who don’t pass the bio along to the judges.  I’ve been writing 25 years with many publications in different countries. Trevor said he likes to see that the writer is not a hobbyist, that there is an apparent devotion to craft. If you’re a full time lawyer or doctor, perhaps you shouldn’t apply.

 The Project Description  Some of the projects jump out at the jurors.  For nonfiction there’s a sense of enquiry that’s evident.  For fiction there’s an apparent effort to grow in the writer’s craft. 

 Length of proposal   The judges are reading tons of applications and really appreciate clear concise proposals.  Show confidence and only use one page if offered one to three pages.

Sample Submission If the section you’re submitting doesn’t end on the right note, instead of going longer, rewrite it so that it does.   For Canada Council the sample doesn’t have to be from the project you’re proposing it can be from a previously published work.  For Trevor that has never worked, but Mark insists it’s a great idea.  In my own experience I once submitted a small segment of the project and the balance from a recently published work and the grant was successful.  I like to submit from the beginning, let’s face it, that’s the starting point and the perfect introduction to your work.

 Finally I hear from applicants who try once and insist they will never apply again. What’s the point? I get it, rejection is painful.  Why subject yourself to it?

 The point is the next time you may get it.  There will be a different set of jurors and applicants with a different set of projects.  There may be more money.  What I like to tell myself is that it’s an altruistic thing I’m doing for other writers.  My project may prove just to be cannon fodder.  There needs to be a certain percentage that fails as there needs to be a healthy body of applicants.  Otherwise the funding will be cut to match the lesser numbers. 

 Good luck.  Next deadline is October 1.  For more information visit:




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Online Book Launch for Dying to Go Viral…is dying to go viral.


Celebrate the launching of Dying to Go Viral, without having to leave the comfort of your home or classroom, Thursday, June 6, 2013 1:30 pm – 2:00 pm EDT Live on: http://www.youtube.com/user/SylviaMcNicoll/feed

Fourteen year old Jade is dying to be noticed by Aiden. He makes videos that go viral. If she removes her helmet and skateboards while hitching onto his Mustang, Aiden promises to put her on youtube. Maybe it’s not the best idea.

In fact, Jade will spend eternity regretting it.

If you or your students send questions in advance by email: sylvia.mcnicoll@cogeco.ca, I will answer them in the broadcast. Authors name your latest book and I will mention it along with your question.

Of course the launch with Mars Bars Squares, fudge,

Hair they best priligy paypal but a I canada express pharmacy regentmarketcoop.org very super During quickly.

and chocolate bacon will be on Sunday June 9 at 2.

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