Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Dennis McCloskey

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Dennis McCloskey has been a full-time freelance writer since 1980. A member of the Professional Writers’ Association of Canada (PWAC), he earned a Journalism degree from Toronto’s Ryerson University. He currently works as an independent corporate journalist and editor, magazine writer and book author. Several hundred of his human interest and business articles have appeared in over sixty-five newspapers, consumer and trade magazines and corporate newsletters in Canada, the United States and Europe. He has also written eight books. He and his wife, Kris, are avid travelers and Caribbean cruisers. Born on Prince Edward Island, Dennis lists Rome, Paris, London and Charlottetown, PEI as his favourite cities. Dennis lives in Richmond Hill, ON. His website is

Ten Questions with Dennis McCloskey


What was your first publication and where was it published?


The very first article I wrote for publication appeared in The Catholic Register in the early 1970s. It was an editorial about discrimination against a young native girl. I received $25. I was so looking forward to my very first byline (by Dennis McCloskey.) Sadly, they got my first name wrong: by John McCloskey.


Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Dennis McCloskey's interview with Valen Cover

Parts 1 & 2 - My Favorite American Book Launch recorded at Chapters/Indigo in Toronto, spring 2009. Biography of Valen Cover and her valiant struggle with polycystic kidney disease (PKD).


Musical slideshow of Canadian Book Launch of "My Favorite American"

To commemorate the 1st anniversary of my book, "My Favorite American" (the biography of kidney transplant patient Valen Cover), my creative wife, Kris, and her computer guru and friend, Marney Pollock, have put together a 4-minute musical slideshow of the Canadian Book Launch that was held at Indigo Books & Music in Toronto, earlier this year. If you were there you might see yourself; if you weren't, you might like to see what went on. If you view it on, type dennismccloskey. Make sure you click the High Definition (HD) button at the bottom, and the Full Screen button.

Thanks to Jeff Davis for the photos and the Mary Tyler Moore people for the catchy song.

Dennis McCloskey

Everyday Heroes

By Dennis McCloskey

In a discussion of the concept of heroism, the late U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, said he had read a report that indicated John Wayne was the last American hero. Reagan expressed sadness at the thought that we are living in a time when there are no heroes. Of course, he was wrong. There are heroes. They are everywhere. We just have to look all around us.

The Observant Writer

By Dennis McCloskey

The late, great New York Yankee player and manager, Yogi Berra, had an unorthodox way of expressing himself, like when he said: “You can observe a lot of things just by watching.” He’s the same guy who was asked why he never went to a certain New York City restaurant, and he replied: “No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded.”

Oh, The People You'll Meet!

By Dennis McCloskey

In my last blog I extolled the virtues of travel and how I’ve gotten so many story ideas by visiting Europe, North Africa, and the four corners of the North American continent and a thousand points in between.

British novelist and poet Vita Sackville-West described travel as the most private of pleasures. “There is no greater bore than the travel bore,” she wrote. “We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong Kong.” I disagree with her 100%. I love hearing of the travel adventures of my friends and fellow writers. When they describe the fascination of walking along the Great Wall of China or the seeing the wonders of Prague architecture or Australia’s outback, it only makes me want to experience it first-hand.

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

by Dennis McCloskey

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.

If you recognize the words that I have shamelessly copied from the famous Dr. Seuss book, you are probably one of the estimated 300,000 people who receive the book each year as a graduation or going away gift. I’ve done it many times: given the book to relatives young and old as they embark on the adventures of their lives.

Book Signings

By Dennis McCloskey

What if your publicist organized a book signing and no one came?

Ten thousand hours

By Dennis McCloskey

Are you willing to write for 10,000 hours to become one of the best in the writing business? I suspect that most aspiring writers are not, and that is why there are precious few big name commercial authors like the Grishams, Kings, Clancys, Bradfords, and Ludlums.

Joy of Discovery (Part II)

by Dennis McCloskey

A writer’s work is never done! With the blessing of my dear wife, Kris, I spent the evening of Thursday, December 18, 2008, in the company of 10 lovely women. We talked about my latest book (“My Favorite American”) for nearly four hours. All of them had read the book and all said they enjoyed it. Food and drinks were served throughout the evening. Man, do I love my work and my life!

Joy of Discovery (Part 1)

By Dennis McCloskey

There is a saying in the writing community that writers don’t like to compliment other writers. I don’t believe that’s true. I constantly toss “bouquets” to other writers, and my work is often on the receiving end of flattering comments from members of my profession.

Speak Up!

By Dennis McCloskey

If you have ever been asked to stand before an audience and “say a few words”, you might be familiar with the feeling I get when I’m called upon to perform one of the most difficult acts known to humankind: public speaking!

If you’re at all like me (and most of the rest of the human race), you get nervous before you speak in public. My muscles get tight; the blood drains from my face; my heart pounds like a beating drum; my mouth goes dry; I forget what I’m going to say; I tremble slightly; and I start by saying how happy I am to be there when I’d rather be home cleaning out the kitty litter box. I admit: I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to making speeches!

Writerly Advice (Part II)

By Dennis McCloskey

English novelist Somerset Maugham said there are three rules for writing the novel. “Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

There is no shortage of people who are willing to “put a flea in your ear” about the best way to become a writer, or how to write a novel. But not everyone enjoys being on the receiving end of advice. Some writers balk at getting advice from other writers. U.S. playwright Lillian Hellman once said that writers are just “fancy talkers about themselves.” She added, rather dismissively: “If I had to give young writers advice I would say don’t listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.”

Writerly Advice (Part 1)

By Dennis McCloskey

I have always believed in the adage that advice is far more blessed to give than receive. But I have been dispensing advice in the last 5 blogs, as the January Writer in residence, so I’d like to turn the tables and tell you about some advice I received as a young writer.

In 1990 I was assigned to write an article for Books in Canada, titled “Author’s Advice.” My job was to contact well known Canadian authors and ask them one question: “What advice would you give to a person who aspires to a writing career?” I got in touch with 16 authors and, not surprisingly, some of their tips were similar--but others were quite divergent.

"Title" Insurance

By Dennis McCloskey

Hah! Fooled you! I bet you thought this was going to be a boring blog about the importance of buying the kind of indemnity insurance that protects against financial loss from defects in title to real property....yawn...zzzzzzzz.

Feeling a little rejected?

By Dennis McCloskey

If you have never received a rejection letter from a publisher, you are not a writer.

And if you’ve received a few, take heart and think of Gilbert Young, of Bath, England, and Bill Gordon, of Ohio. Poor ol’ Gil was a persistent author, according to a past edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, who wrote a 150,000-word manuscript in 1966, titled World Government Crusade. He received 242 publishers’ rejections. Not to be outdone in the failure department, Bill Gordon was on his way to beating Gil’s dismal record with his manuscript How Many Books do you Sell in Ohio? when publisher Aames-Allen sent a written offer to publish his book. He had received 176 previous rejections from publishers.

Persistence pays!

In the beginning...

By Dennis McCloskey

“Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”

How many times have you heard this claptrap? I’ve even heard myself blabbering this twaddle from time to time. I mean well. In theory it’s a lovely truth but in practice it’s a lie because no matter your calling in life, if you do a good job at it—and anything worth doing is worth doing well—it’s work, no matter how much you love doing it.

Hey, I have an idea!

By Dennis McCloskey
January 3, 2009

I am writing this blog while on vacation.

Okay, so that’s not entirely true. Writers are never on vacation. We’re either writing or we’re thinking about writing and when we’re not doing that we’re reading to find out what the competition is writing about.

Up and Comers

By Dennis McCloskey
January 1, 2009

I hate the word “blog!” I know what it means (online diary) and where the term comes from (Web log) but it reminds me of “Blah” or “Ugh!”
But I think blogs are here to stay: according to Universal McCann (March 2008) 184 million people worldwide have started a blog, and 346 million people read blogs.

I love blogs. (Just not the word.) And I know I’m going to love being the January Writer-in-Residence (WIR) for and I am looking forward to writing a blog (not a blah or an ugh) every couple of days during the month.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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