Cabbages and Kings podcast

Here I am in conversation with Jonah Sutton-Morse on the Cabbages and Kings podcast. There’s a little about my own history as a reader and writer, but the focus is on historical fantasy. With a break in the middle for the excellent Charles Payseur to give some short-fiction recommendations.

Writing Better Opinion: A Workshop

I’m teaching an in-person workshop in downtown Ottawa, Ontario on Sunday, May 7, 2017, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a little different from any course I’ve offered anywhere.

Registration is now open!

Who’s it for?

  • While absolute beginners are welcome, the workshop will focus on honing the skills of people who already have some experience with opinion writing in some form. The course requires you to have a draft of an opinion piece ready to critique. If you’ve ever written op-eds, columns, essays, blog posts and letters to the editor — or would like to — this course is for you. One of my goals as a teacher is to help broaden and diversify the field of opinion writers in Canada.

What will I learn?

  • Sentence-by-sentence in-class critique of, and feedback on, your own work-in-progress and those of your classmates
  • Overview/revision of how to write a compelling thesis and organize your piece
  • In-class workshopping of theses and arguments
  • In-class exercises on reasoning and clear writing to help us avoid common pitfalls
  • Advice on research skills and revision
  • Individualized advice for pitching, submitting and getting paid
  • Every student gets a take-home booklet of notes and tips

Who’s the teacher?

Kate Heartfield (that’s me!). From 2004 to 2015, I was a member of the Ottawa Citizen‘s editorial board and a columnist there. I was shortlisted for a National Newspaper Award in editorial writing in 2015. I teach journalism at Carleton University and an online opinion-writing class at the Loft Literary Center. For more about me, see my bio page.

How should I prepare?

  • At least one week before class begins, email me a draft for critique of a work in progress, of between 500 and 1,000 words. Ideally, this should be an op-ed, column or essay. I will email all the works in progress to the students a week before we meet.
  • Read your classmates’ work (class maximum 12) and come prepared to critique respectfully and constructively. (I will provide guidance in class on how to frame comments, particularly when it comes to commenting on other people’s lived experience.)
  • Bring something to write with: a pen and paper, laptop or tablet.
  • Feel free to pack a snack/drink. We’ll take a 15-minute break partway through the afternoon and there are cafes nearby.

Where is it?

  • The Main branch of the Ottawa Public Library, room B125. The library is wheelchair accessible, but please let me know if you have any specific mobility, hearing or other accessibility concerns so I can check for possible barriers. If there’s anything I can do in class to accommodate (such as make sure you’re seated in a particular part of the room) please let me know.

What does it cost?

  • Early bird (on or before April 15): $50 plus HST ($56.50 total)
  • April 16 and later: $65 plus HST ($73.45 total)
  • Registration deadline is April 27, 2017.
  • Because this is a workshop, the number of participants is limited to 12 and the class might sell out. If it does, I’ll post that info at the top of this page.
  • I may cancel the class with a week’s notice to students if I don’t get enough registrations by April 27. If that happens, I’ll refund all registration fees immediately.
  • I reserve one spot as a free scholarship. If you’d like to take the class but can’t afford it, please email me at by April 10 and let me know a little about yourself (just a few sentences). I’ll respond to all scholarship applicants by April 14. I’ll keep all information pertaining to scholarships (including successful applications) confidential.
  • I may refuse registration for any reason.

How do I register?

  • Email me at Please let me know how much experience you have with opinion writing and if you have any specific concerns or questions. Your registration will be officially complete once I receive payment, by credit card, PayPal, cheque or bank transfer. I’ll send you the details.


Email Also, please let me know if you’re interested in the class but can’t make it on this date. That will help me gauge whether to repeat the workshop in a few months.

What if I want to learn about opinion-writing but this course isn’t for me?

Good news! I’ll be teaching another session of my six-week, online, on your own schedule, opinion writing course through the Loft in June and registration is now open.

I’m writing a game!

Wife of Bath


The contract is signed, so I can kermit-flail in public! I’m writing an interactive-fiction game called The Road to Canterbury for Choice of Games.

It is, as you might expect, loosely based on the Canterbury Tales. I’m having so much fun. The Choice of Games team has been wonderful to work with. Even the coding is fun! (That bit surprised me, I admit.) It’s for adults, although I’ll probably keep it roughly PG-13 because one of the greatest parts about this is how much my seven-year-old is impressed that Mama’s writing a game. He’s already my first beta-tester: he’s played through the first few thousand words of code.

The Road to Canterbury doesn’t have an official release date yet, but it should be out in early 2018.

Choice of Games publishes text-based, multiple-choice games. I highly recommend their other titles. I’ve had lots of fun with Max Gladstone’s Choice of the Deathless, Kreg Segall’s Midsummer Night’s Choice, Kevin Gold’s Choice of Alexandria and Rebecca Slitt’s Psy High, and am currently playing Kelly Sandoval’s Runt of the Litter.

Why I’m not planning any travel to the United States any time soon

Canadians tend to be weirdly proud of living a stone’s throw (for most of us) from “the world’s longest undefended border.” It was one of those stock phrases I grew up with. I also grew up with the notion that it was normal to expect to cross over that border without much difficulty. It’s so utterly normal to me that I can’t even tell you the number of times I have crossed the border into the United States of America, in my life. Maybe about a dozen, at a guess? Maybe more.

When I was a teenager, I took the Greyhound bus from Winnipeg to Houston and back again, crossing through the American heartland, washing my hair in America’s sinks. It feels like almost my own country, something like the way my nieces and nephews feel like almost my own kids.

I have a lot of friends (and family) in the United States. A lot of those friends are fellow writers of science fiction and fantasy, and seeing them is one major reason I try to go to conventions when I can. The last one I went to in the U.S. was World Fantasy, in Saratoga Springs, NY, in 2015.

I drove with my family to New York City in November, 2016, a few days after the presidential election. We did tourist things and spent a lot (by our standards) of money on a great family holiday. That will probably be my last visit to the U.S. for at least the next couple of years, maybe longer. I’m not boycotting, exactly, but I’m not currently planning any travel there if I can help it.

Here are a few of my reasons. I have others; these are the main ones.

  • My main reason for visiting the U.S. in the next few years would be to attend a SFF convention, such as WorldCon or World Fantasy. I can’t in good conscience attend a convention where other professional writers are unable to attend by virtue of their nationalities.
  • I think it would be good for SFF fandom to have a greater presence around the world and be less concentrated in the U.S., anyway, so I’ll support conventions elsewhere for the time being.
  • As I was born in Canada, I have little reason at the moment to expect I’d be barred from entering myself. But given the capricious behaviour of the current U.S. government, I have no way of knowing who might be affected by a new order, from one moment to the next, and an overall change in the climate of border controls might make for a long and arduous border crossing for, say, former journalists. I’m certainly not going to risk that hassle for the sake of a family vacation, or risk having to cancel travel plans and lose money at the last minute. It’s a big world and there are lots of places to go.
  • The possibility that all travellers going into or through the U.S. might have their plans changed at any time by the chaos caused by a capricious decree seems very real. Again, not a risk I want to take when I could go elsewhere.

This has nothing to do with being angry at America or at Americans – I’m not. I love you all, and I’ll see you soon.

Some recent opinion pieces, hither and yon

I don’t often link to my non-fiction stuff here (mostly because I’m too lazy to do it regularly) but I’ve had a few very different pieces come out in a few different venues in the last couple of weeks, so here’s a little round-up:

I don’t expect to be writing much opinion over the next few months, because I have a few big projects on the go that are up against their deadlines, and I’ll be teaching two classes starting in January. One’s at Carleton University. The other is an open opinion-writing class for The Loft online, where students work on their own schedules — sign-ups for that are still open.

My award-eligible work in 2016

Here’s a rundown of my work this year, by category. I’m obviously biased, but I’d really like to see the editors of the anthologies Monstrous Little Voices (David Thomas Moore) and Clockwork Canada (Dominik Parisien) get some award recognition in related works or editing categories. They’re both astounding books.



The Course of True Love.” 20,000 words, published in Monstrous Little Voices: New Tales from Shakespeare’s Fantasy World. Fantasy.


Short Stories

“The Seven O’Clock Man.” 5,000 words. Published in Clockwork Canada, from Exile Editions, edited by Dominik Parisien. Fantasy.

The Wedding of Snow, Earth and Salt.” 750 words, Podcastle.  Fantasy.

The Automatic Prime Ministers.” 4,600 words. Lackington’s. Science fiction.


Non-fiction about SFF

Decolonizing the future” in Article, Dec. 2016.


A new home for “Six Aspects of Cath Baduma”

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Very chuffed to see my story in this gorgeous hardcover.

It feels like a book I would have had as a kid, one of those books of wonder of unknown origin that have just always been on your shelf. The story first appeared in Postscripts to Darkness and remains one of my favourites.

You can order the book from the Book Depository or from Flame Tree directly.