Canadian Authors Association–Toronto

Virtual Café & Open Mic

Thursday, March 26, 7 to 9 p.m.

ONLINE via GoToWebinar

Dear Canadian Authors Association–Toronto member,

As writers, we are used to cocooning. We always have tea and we rarely get bored because our brains are full of characters and quirky word combinations. So we’re probably a little better-positioned than some to ride out the current health crisis without going squirrelly.

But there are limits to how much isolation even the most introverted among us can or should have to endure.

That’s why we’re taking our regularly scheduled March program meeting online, where nobody has to worry about an elbow-sneeze, or, for that matter, getting dressed. We may even give out a prize for best PJs. We can work that out later.

For now, here are the details of our first-ever Authors–Toronto Virtual Café & Open Mic.

What: An online reading with two special guests followed by an open mic for up to 25 Authors–Toronto members (register soon to reserve your spot!)

When: Thursday, March 26, 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: Online, via GoToWebinar.

How: Easy two-step process! 1.) Register by clicking on the link below, then 2.) Watch your email for another link that will get you into the event itself. (Be sure to check your spam folder).


Click here to register today for this free, fully online event, and tell us whether you want to participate as an open mic reader or an attendee. Readers must be members of Authors–Toronto, whereas anyone can register to show up and listen (up to a maximum of 100).

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. There will be a second link inside that email. Click on it to access the event, and follow the directions to make sure your webcam and sound are set up to allow you to participate.

It’s easy! And we’ll help you troubleshoot if you’re having technical difficulties. Please login early to leave time to sort out any issues with your webcam or your mic.

Open mic

Each open mic reader will have five minutes to set up and read their work. Share a recent publication or an excerpt from your latest novel, short story collection, memoir, nonfiction book or collection of poems. Work in progress is welcome, as are new pieces written in response to the pandemic (or any other topic — it’s up to you).

This event is streamable from your couch via a computer or other device, and will feature two special guests: Vancouver/Hong Kong writer Doretta Lau and Toronto poet Stedmond Pardy.

Please help us spread the word on social media by using the hashtag: #caaopenmic

March 26 event schedule:

 6:45 p.m. — Please login early to allow time for technical fixes

7 p.m. — Welcome (Susana Molinolo and Lee Parpart)

7:10 p.m. — Reading by Vancouver/Hong Kong writer Doretta Lau, author of the short fiction collection, How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun?

7:20 p.m. — Reading by Toronto poet Stedmond Pardy, whose book, The Pleasures of This Planet, Aren’t Enough, is due out with Mosaic Press in 2020

7:30–9 p.m. — Open mic for members of Authors–Toronto (pre-registration required)

Join us online to read or listen as Authors–Toronto members share poetry, prose, and works in progress. Toronto branch writers are invited to register as readers or attendees. Readers will each be given five minutes total in which to briefly set up their reading (just a few words will suffice) and to share their work.

Register now for our first-ever CAA-Toronto Virtual Cafe & Open Mic (March 26, 2020 7:00 PM EDT). Click on the link below to reserve your spot.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

FAQ & helpful hints

What should I read?

That’s totally up to you! We encourage readings in all genres and styles, and on all topics. Published or unpublished, whole or excerpted, poetry, prose, fiction, non-fiction … we just want to hear from you and get a taste of what you’re working on these days, or enjoy a little sample from a recent publication. This is a great way to spread the word about your new book, practice your public presentation skills, and get to know some of your fellow Authors–Toronto members. Works in progress are welcome, as are dripping wet drafts. We’re hoping that one or more open mic readers will write something new on the topic of social distancing — what it means, how it feels, and where we all go from here.

How to structure your reading

Please choose a piece of writing that takes about four minutes to read, and be ready to set it up with a brief intro. You will have five minutes in total from the time we finish reading your bio. To ensure all readers get an opportunity to read, we will be strict about reading times.

Send us your bio!

When you register, you will be prompted to include a short bio (50 to 80 words max). We’ll use this to tell everybody who you are and what kind of writing you do. Unsure how to write a short bio? Here’s an article that may help. And another.

Do I have to be quiet during the webinar?

Nope! If you’re scheduled to read, we’ll keep your audio muted until it’s your turn, then turn it off again after you’re done. And if you’re attending to listen, your audio will be mute throughout the event. In short, we won’t know if you’re wandering around making tea, singing REM’s “The End of the World As We Know It,” or multitasking by doing aerobics.

I don’t have two uninterrupted hours. Can I leave early, or come and go?

Absolutely! If you have to leave, try to let us know by putting a message in the chat box first, then go to File (a dropdown menu in the top left section of the screen) and select Leave Webinar. If you have to leave abruptly, skip the message and select File>Leave Webinar. If you want to come and go, just leave your computer logged into the webinar and … do you.

I don’t feel like being seen on video. Can I still read?

Yes! We would love to see your face, but if you prefer not to use video, just keep your videocam off during your reading. If you don’t know how to do that, just let us know and we’ll turn it off on our end.

The early worm gets the volume right

Please log into the session 10 or 15 minutes early to work out any technical difficulties.


This webinar will be recorded for distribution through various Canadian Authors Association channels. All webinar participants agree to the possibility of appearing on these recordings by virtue of attending or participating in tonight’s webinar.

We’re committed to having the recording captioned, so it will take time.

Welcome message with instructions on how to participate

When you first log in, you will see this message in the chat box to the left of your screen:

“Welcome to the first Canadian Authors-Toronto Virtual Cafe event. The session will begin shortly. Please make sure that the audio on your computer is turned on and the volume level is good.”

Note that during the session, all attendees will be muted until it is their time to do a reading.

READERS: When your turn comes to read, you will be introduced by one of the organizers, who will state your name and read the bio you gave us when you registered. At that point, your mic will be unmuted by one of the organizers, and you will be made a Presenter. When this happens, a message on your screen will ask whether you want to share your screen. DO NOT share your screen, as we will then be able to see all of the files on your desktop, and no one needs that. Note you will also be able to turn on your webcam so the attendees can see you as you read. 

Whether you registered as a reader or an attendee, you can communicate with the organizers by tapping on the Chat feature (to the left of your screen), typing your message within the chat box, and clicking Send.

Comments? Questions? Email Authors–Toronto co-president Lee Parpart at parpart@bell.net.

Canadian Authors – Toronto programs will take on a mix of art and business concerns. We plan to alternate between two main types of events:

1. themed presentations by writers and other publishing professionals dealing with various aspects of the writing life and the craft of writing, and

2. industry-focused events designed to help writers in the GTA meet agents and publishers, understand publishing contracts, master the ‘authorpreneurial’ demands of social media and marketing, and wend our way through the business side of this writing life.

Event archives: 2020, 20192018

Planning ahead

Stay tuned to the Authors–Toronto “Events” web page for regular programming and event updates.

As always, we welcome your feedback on all of our activities. Email co-president Lee Parpart at TOpresident1@canadianauthors.org with comments, questions, or ideas about our programs and events.

We’re working to expand the number of writing circles that we can offer to members. We’re looking for branch members to launch and moderate new Authors–Toronto writing circles outside of the downtown core. Our Annex Writing Circle meets the second Thursday of every month at the CSI Annex and is at capacity, but we are open to working with new members to start another monthly group at the same location. Please email Lee at TOpresident1@canadianauthors.org for more details about writing circles.

And if you know any writers who are not already members of Canadian Authors Association, please talk to them about the benefits of joining. To join Canadian Authors Association or renew your membership, click here.

Follow us on Twitter at @Authors_Toronto, @EditorsToronto, or @UofTSCS for updates and pre-event news.

Thank you for your interest! We look forward to seeing you.