Category Archives: the Writing Life

The problem with blogs – in a nutshell.

I came across an article online yesterday entitled Four Ways to Make Sure You Always Have Something to Say Online. Cue the forehead smack.

Why would someone even begin a blog if they weren’t revved up with enthusiasm for their topic of choice, and bursting at the seams with thoughts and questions about it?

Why would someone even begin a blog if they weren’t fascinated by that topic – and were either an expert with loads to say about it, or a devoted amateur eager to learn more?

The problem here is twofold: that people with Nothing To Say are spewing out endless blog posts, and that other people with Nothing To Say, in order to churn out their own blog posts, are linking to those original Nothing To Say posts… (Ditto for Tweets.)


This is what happens when the Business Model is applied to Providing Content. The actual dissemination and transmission of information has become so brilliantly innovative and technologically stunning that less and less time and energy is spent on the actual quality of that information/content.

I say this to anyone wanting to write stories and it applies equally to anyone who wants to start a blog:

You must have something to say about the world!

Or at least be on a passionate quest to find something to say about the world.

Either way.

And if the day comes where you can’t think of anything to say in a post, then for God’s sake don’t say anything! Have a cup of tea and read a good book instead.

Thus endeth my rant for today. You may return to your regular programming…

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School Talks, Day 3!

IMG_3257I’m finally putting up photos from last Monday and my last batch of school talks. First stop was Allenby Public School, where we had a VERY full house! An extremely enthusiastic bunch, these kids sure LOVE  to talk about stories! Thanks for a fun morning, Allenby!

Next I made my way to another stately old library – the Bloor Gladstone branch, which has undergone a beautiful update and reno…


And there I talked to kids from two nearby schools, Pauline and St. Sebastian.IMG_3306

Some terrific questions from this group, about graphic novels, and book series, and self-publishing, among other things. I’m pretty sure there are some future authors in this bunch!

I really enjoyed talking to all the school groups on this trip. I can’t tell you how great it is to meet so many kids who get excited about books! These kids LOVE to read!

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School Talks, Day 2

IMG_3254Yesterday I visited Warren Park School, a smaller school with a lot of spirit… even on the day after Hallowe’en!


Even after a late night the students showed no signs of being tired, in fact they were abuzz with their love of stories. And after we talked a little about characters and the basic elements of plot, I heard that they went right off to their classes and busily started on their own stories!


Thanks for your enthusiasm and terrific questions, Warren Park!

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School Talks in Toronto, Day 1

I hit the ground running on this trip – on our first full day here I did 3 talks at our old school, Runnymede P.S.


I spoke to three massive groups in the school’s wonderful library, first the Grade 7/8s…


Then the 5/6s…



And finally the 3/4s…



Holy Mackinaw! Coming straight from small-town life to this was quite a shock. On Salt Spring when you get ten people in one place it’s considered an unruly mob…

It was a whole lot of fun to talk to them about being a writer, making up stories, and the importance of reading, though it turns out the last topic was entirely unnecessary because they already seem to be rabid readers. It’s fantastic to meet kids who are so excited about books!

And at the end of the day I was so exhausted I could have slept for a week. But, as they say, it was a good kind of tired…

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We Leave Tomorrow!

caudron_dualAll systems are go for our big trip to Toronto!

We haven’t been back since moving away over a year ago, so it will be fantastic to see as many of our old friends as possible. But also, of course, I’ll be busy with Eldritch Manor -related events:

Wed, Oct 30 – visiting Runnymede Jr & Sr Public School

Fri, Nov 1 – visiting Warren Park Junior Public School

Sat, Nov 2 – Book Signing at Chapters Runnymede – 11:00 am to 1:00 pm

Mon, Nov 4 (morning) – visiting Allenby Junior Public School

Mon, Nov 4 (afternoon) – reading for school group at Bloor/Gladstone Public Library

With all of that, plus Hallowe’en fun, we’ll be pretty busy! Keep checking in for updates and photos of events.

Writing Club friends: I will do my best to put up a prompt or two to keep you going while I’m away!


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Sometimes all you need is a plan.

On-WritingI’ve been having trouble getting going on a book… getting stuck – procrastinating – doing other things – napping – getting stuck again… you get the picture. So today I revisited notes I took while reading Stephen King’s great book On Writing.

He says that the first draft of a book should take no more than three months. He aims for ten pages a day, or 2,000 words. Some days he’s done by 11:30 am, other days it can take him until 1:30. And all he needs is a “serene atmosphere”.

So my atmosphere here is pretty serene, ridiculously serene even. I should have no excuses!

I don’t get to write every day – I’ve got a lot of projects on the go right now – but by keeping my goals humble (1,000 words per working day, 3 or 4 days a week) I hope to have the first draft of a sequel to Eldritch Manor done by the end of January. Of course I also have going for me the fact that a YA novel is way shorter than one of King’s books!

I also have as a secret weapon an Outline, one I’ve been pondering and building on for a year or more. That’s enough time to percolate… now I’m going to get to work!

After the first draft is done, he recommends setting it aside for six weeks and not looking at it or talking about it. Once you’re thinking of new projects and immersed in other things, then it’s time to pull it out, get reacquainted, and get back to work on it.*

I love having a plan! (Today’s 1,000 words – check!)

* Stephen King, On Writing (New York: Scribner, 2000), pp. 154, 211-212.

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OLA Silver Birch nomination for Eldritch!

1226_silverbirch_logo_new1Very excited to get the news that Eldritch Manor has been nominated for a Silver Birch Award in the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program!

Ten books are nominated for the Silver Birch Fiction award, which is aimed at readers aged 8 to 12 (grades 3-6).  Readers from all across the country are encouraged to read at least 5 of the 10 books and vote on which should win.

I will post more news on the OLA Forest of Reading events as they come up, but for the moment, I’m just totally chuffed!

Will you read the 10 nominees? See the list here.


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Writing Club: Where do story ideas come from?

IMG_2611Another meeting of the Writing Club has come and gone. We’re still working out who’s coming and when, but we seem to be settling in… Here’s what happened:

5-minute Prompt:  MY HOUSE

(5-minute, stream-of-consciousness exercise, write whatever pops into your brain on the topic. Don’t bother with sentences, paragraphs, or punctuation. Just write.)

Continue reading

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Camp Details finally worked out…

Okay, so I’m finally committing to dates and details for my Summer Writing Camp. The full scoop can be found here.

I think it will be quite fun! I’d like to allow for all kinds of writing: if participants want more info on fantasy writing, or scriptwriting, or whatever, I’ll do my best to provide specific help in those areas. All while polishing basic writing skills and sharing our work with each other in a friendly and supportive manner.

If you’re on the island this summer and want to get your writing in gear, sign up today!

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School Talks and Workshops Information

Hello all! I have finally added descriptions of my school talk subjects – if you go to the menu above and hit Teaching and Workshops all will be revealed! (Or click here.)


I can speak to all ages, really. From kindergarten kids (making up stories, reading books, different kinds of stories and characters) to middle and high school students (animation topics, writing careers, writing a novel, etc) and beyond (the writer’s life, writing television and books for children). It’s all here.

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