Tuesday, January 31, 2012

School Programs - Study Guides and Classroom Resources


Each of my novels can provide teachers with a wide variety of ways to explore projects in the classroom with their students. Check out the study guides and classroom resources for my novels here on my website


The Fun Stuff and Puzzles page features word searches related to the text and character names in each novel, plus you can also access The Super Scavenger Search, where the answers to a series of mind boggling questions are hidden in different pages all over my website. Class sets of books are also always available from me directly at discounted prices, depending on the number of books ordered. 



Monday, January 30, 2012

Online Writing Workshops for Children and Young Adults


With my Online Workshops for Children and Young Adults, through a series of e mail assignments, details of which are available here, we explore where ideas come from and how to turn them into stories, basic story structure, plot development, creating characters, developing dialogue and more to help develop writing ability. A set of workshops can be started at any time. Following registrationall assignments are sent by e mail and are completed at your own pace, to be sent to me by return e mail. There is no time limit and participants may take as long as they wish to complete their full set of workshops.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What's it all About? The Historical Background to The Alchemist's Portrait

Magic, Mayhem, Murder - The Alchemist's Portrait is a time traveling thrill ride for young readers.

'A school trip to the art gallery at the city museum leads Matthew into an eerie meeting with Peter Glimmer, imprisoned inside his own portrait by his villainous uncle in 1666. Entrusted by Peter with recovering the one object that can save the world, Matthew is sent hurtling over 300 years into the past. Encountering magic, mayhem and murder, Matthew also has to contend with Peter's uncle, the ruthless and seemingly immortal Nicholas Van der Leyden, at every turn, in a desperate race through time to save the future.'

On my website, you can learn more about the historical periods depicted in the novel, including seventeenth century Amsterdam, the French Revolution, the American Civil War and the Russian Revolution, as well as links to the history of alchemy and to the famous paintings and portraits mentioned in the story. 

The Alchemist's Portrait is available at most online bookstores which you can link to here. Autographed copies are also always available directly from the author.  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Writing Classes for Children in North Calgary March/April


Time Travel Tales - Classes with Northern Hills Community Association in Panorama Hills and at Cardel Place - March 3 to April 7, 10.00 am to 11.30 am

In these classes, children create their own short time travel stories, complete with a time machine, method or device. We will discuss their time travel methods, the time period chosen, the story premise and see how much attention they have paid to accurate historical research to make their story more authentic and to crafting a plausible means of traveling in time. They will then create a title for their story and a concise, attention-grabbing back cover for their potential book. We also explore how to write gripping fiction, in terms of attention grabbing back covers, page turning beginnings and cliffhanger endings.

Classes run from March 3 to April 7 from 10.00 am to 11.30 am. Classes are held on March 3, 10, 17 and 24 at Panorama Hills E-community Center, 88 Panamount Hill NW, Calgary AB and on March 31 and April 7 at Cardel Place, 11950 Country Village Link NE, Calgary AB.

Call 403 226 6422 to register over the phone. Costs are $50 for Northern Hills Community Association and $75 for non members. Payment is due at the time of registration.




Writers - Help and Advice: Coaching Program for Writers


Writing is by nature a solitary profession and can be a lonely business, without the benefit of hordes of cheering fans on the sidelines. A professional writing coach is someone with who you can consult, ask questions, send your work to and receive constructive feedback, a guide to help you with your writing as you attempt to build your career as a professional writer. A writing coach can help you conquer a stumbling block, assist you in regaining momentum and getting back to your writing or making a start on a new project.

My coaching program is designed to help you progress as a writer. You decide what you want to work on during a personalized, one on one relationship. For example, I can be your coach for just one month or we can establish a month-to-month arrangement, depending on your schedule and expectations. Just a few examples of topics we can cover during the coaching period are point of view, creating characters, developing dialogue, story structure, editing and revision, marketing and promotion and submissions to publishers. However, I am very flexible and happy to discuss your own unique requirements and areas where you feel that you may need the most help. 

In addition to coaching, on my website you can learn more about my other services for writers, such as online workshops for adultsmanuscript evaluation and online workshops for children and young adults.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Author Readings at simon-rose.com


People are always interested in hearing an author read from their own work. Children in particular, especially those who have read and enjoyed the novels, are usually captivated when an author reads from their own book during a personal appearance at a school, library, literary festival or other event. 

Here on my website, you can listen to interviews and readings from The Alchemist's PortraitThe Clone ConspiracyThe Emerald Curse and The Heretic's Tomb, recorded on Calgary's CKUA radio network, plus a reading from The Sorcerer's Letterbox, recorded during my appearance at the Winnipeg International Writers Festival.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Writers - Help and Advice: Manuscript Evaluation and Editing Services



Have you written a novel, picture book or short story? Have you shown it to every one of your family and friends, who have all given their wholehearted endorsement? Are you now wondering if your work will appeal to a publisher, looking to take that next step but in need of professional advice? 

I offer a variety of services to writers, such as online workshops for adultsonline workshops for children and young adults and manuscript evaluationI will evaluate both full manuscripts or just a short synopsis of your story, along with the opening chapter. Having your work independently evaluated gives you an unbiased opinion, helping you to tighten your manuscript and fix problems you may have overlooked.

Having your entire manuscript reviewed by a professional can be pricey, especially if your novel comprises hundreds of pages, but my manuscript critique service is very affordable. For my basic service, I review the first chapter of a piece of work, double spaced, not to exceed ten pages, plus a synopsis of up to three pages. For picture books this may include the entire text, depending on the length of the story. 

The evaluation will include a written report of up to three pages, as well as suggestions and comments on the text itself, unless you object to that. I am also happy to answer any specific questions in relation to what publishers may or may not like to see in the story. Based on this, you may then decide to have the entire piece evaluated, to help you prepare for submissions to publishers. Examples of fees and more details on my editing services are available here on my website.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Writers - Help and Advice: Ghost Writing and Collaboration



Is there a book you desperately want to write? Maybe you’re an expert in your field, well respected by your colleagues, who are all convinced that you should become an author. Yet there’s no time in your busy schedule to actually sit down and write. Perhaps you’re a performer or artist, eager to commit your experiences to paper? Or you have a great idea for a self-help book, a how-to manual, a cookery book, a tourism or restaurant guide? Or are you wanting to write your autobiography or the biography of someone else in your family? 

Whatever the subject, fiction or non-fiction, for adults or children, I am available for collaboration on your next project. Visit my website for further details or contact me directly for rates and fees at info@simon-rose.com.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Heretic's Tomb and the Black Death - Medieval Medicine Part Five


Despite their skills and knowledge, for diseases and ailments beyond their abilities, medieval doctors fell back on solutions which seem bizarre to the modern reader. Ringworm was treated by washing the patient’s hair in a boy’s urine. Gout could be relieved by a plaster of goat dung mixed with rosemary and honey. Blood letting was also popular as a cure for just about everything, with many different parts of the body used. For example, the two veins in the neck were to be tapped for leprosy, while the basilic vein, just below the elbow was said to clear the liver and spleen of any impurities.If everything failed, charms, sacred relics and incantations were used to ease the pain of childbirth, help contraception, cure toothache, remove boils, and even mend broken arms and legs. Medical knowledge eventually improved, but not straight away, and for centuries to come, doctors were still very much influenced by superstition in the performance of their duties.

You can learn more about The Heretic's Tomb and the historical background to the novel on my website.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

School Programs - Author in Residence


For my Author in Residence program, I can be at your school for a week or longer. This allows me to cover certain topics in much more depth than would be possible during a regular author visit. We can also look at working with the students on a specific project.
A week in residence can be designed however you would like, to best meet the needs of the students. Here's what a week could look like, based on a school where I spent five days working with students from grade one through seven. However, this is just an example and I am very flexible and happy to discuss your schools unique requirements with you.

K/1/2 Story Creation

This highly interactive presentation explores story structure relating to the creation of a well-defined beginning, middle and end. Using a series of seemingly unrelated objects, students participate in creating a story in what is always a lively and fun filled session. Although this exercise is done as a group, afterwards students are so enthusiastic that they want to create their own illustrations to go with the story and expand on the narrative that we have created together. In the weeks after my visit, some schools have added the children’s pictures to the story, as they create their own books and design covers for them. These have often been displayed in the classroom or sent home to parents.

Grade 3 Fantasy Realms and Creatures

In two sessions, we discuss the elements of fantasy and the many creatures and characters that inhabit the fantasy realm. In The Emerald Curse, the main villain has created monsters in his laboratory, combining some of the most fearsome creatures on earth. Most students are very familiar with monsters and strange creatures from mythology, books and movies and really enjoy the workshop where they get to invent their own unique mythological creature along with its powers, enemies, diet, habitat and the fantasy kingdom where it lives.

Grade 4 Superheroes

The Emerald Curse involves a young boy who is propelled into a strange comic book dimension, to save his grandfather, the world's greatest comic book artist and writer. The novel was influenced by the comic books and superhero adventure stories I read whilst growing up. In two sessions, we explore the superhero genre, before students create their own superhero, complete with costumes, powers, secret identity, headquarters, friends, family and one or more archenemies. They are also encouraged to draw their creation and some may even write a short story.

Grade 5/6/7 Time Travel, Historical Fiction and Writing Strategies

The Heretic's Tomb, The Sorcerer's Letterbox and The Alchemist's Portrait are time travel stories. These sessions look at where ideas come from and how writers turn them into stories. We examine how history has served as inspiration for authors and filmmakers and learn about the importance of historical research. Students will then invent their own time machine or device, paying attention to detail and to the need for authentic historical settings. We also explore how to write gripping fiction and cliffhanger endings.

Grade 8 The Shape of Things to Come

The events described in The Clone Conspiracy may be science fiction, but cloning has become very much science fact in recent years. These sessions examine how much technology has developed in the last one hundred years, how the pace of change has rapidly accelerated in recent decades and challenges students to contemplate what types of technology we may expect to see in the century to come.

Grade 9 People Plotting: Creating Memorable Characters

Without people there is no plot and characters are at the heart of any story. In these workshops, we explore where writers get ideas for the people in their stories, the many methods of creating strong characters and how to use descriptive language to build them. Students invent their own unique characters and also learn how to write effective and engaging dialogue for their creations.

The the above scenario is merely a guideline as to what a week in residence could look like and I am very happy to discuss your school’s unique requirements with you. Contact me directly for details of fees and availability for Author in Residence at info@simon-rose.com.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Heretic's Tomb and the Black Death - Medieval Medicine Part Four


Surgery was practiced in the Middle Ages, although it was seen as a last resort. It is known to have been successful in the treatment of breast cancer, gangrene, hemorrhoids, and other conditions. There are illustrations showing medieval surgery, but naturally they give no sign of the pain suffered by the person on the operating table.
Anesthetics were used, but many of the concoctions used to relieve pain or induce sleep were also potentially fatal. ‘Dwale’, for example, consisted of gall from a cow or castrated boar, lettuce, briony, opium, henbane and hemlock juice mixed with wine. The opium, alcohol and hemlock would have made patient incapable. Henbane and briony would have quickened the passage of poisons out of the body. However, it must be noted that hemlock was particularly dangerous, too much being a death sentence.

You can learn more about The Heretic's Tomb and the historical background to the novel on my website.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

School Programs - Author Visits, Workshops and Presentations



An author visit to a school can be highly inspirational, inviting children to unlock their own creative potential, whatever form that may take, and encouraging them in their own writing. Younger students especially are almost always thrilled to meet a published author, particularly if they have read their books.

I offer a wide variety of presentations for grades three to eight, but can work with grades one and two as well. I cover such topics as where ideas come from, story structure, editing and revision, character development, time travel stories, history and research, plus many other aspects of the writing and publishing world. I will present to around one hundred students at a time, although the smaller the audience the more participation from children, as a rule. We can also look at workshops with smaller groups or individual classes. I am very flexible and able to modify material in consultation with teachers and librarians. 

For my Author in Residence program, I can be at your school for a week or longer. This allows me to cover certain topics in much more depth than would be possible during a regular author visit. I have also worked on playwriting with the Calgary Arts Summer School. Each of my novels can provide teachers with a wide variety of ways to explore projects in the classroom with their students and you may find some suggestions on the Study Guides and Classroom Resources page and class sets of books are also always available from my online store.

For a list of available presentations, visit the Presentations and Workshops page. However, please note that this list is by no means exhaustive and I am very adaptable. I am always pleased to work with teachers and librarians to build a group of sessions best suited to your studentsContact me directly for details of fees and availability for school and library presentations at info@simon-rose.com.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writing Classes for Children in North Calgary March/April

Time Travel Tales - Classes with Northern Hills Community Association in Panorama Hills and at Cardel Place - March 3 to April 7, 10.00 am to 11.30 am

In these classes, children create their own short time travel stories, complete with a time machine, method or device. We will discuss their time travel methods, the time period chosen, the story premise and see how much attention they have paid to accurate historical research to make their story more authentic and to crafting a plausible means of traveling in time. They will then create a title for their story and a concise, attention-grabbing back cover for their potential book. We also explore how to write gripping fiction, in terms of attention grabbing back covers, page turning beginnings and cliffhanger endings.

Classes run from March 3 to April 7 from 10.00 am to 11.30 am. Classes are held on March 3, 10, 17 and 24 at Panorama Hills E-community Center, 88 Panamount Hill NW, Calgary AB and on March 31 and April 7 at Cardel Place, 11950 Country Village Link NE, Calgary AB.

Call 403 226 6422 to register over the phone. Costs are $50 for Northern Hills Community Association and $75 for non members. Payment is due at the time of registration.

The Heretic's Tomb and the Black Death - Medieval Medicine Part Three


As far as medicines were concerned, many medieval concoctions were little more than witch’s brews. One of the best known medicinal drugs of the Middle Ages was ‘treacle’ or theriac, a blend of sixty four different drugs in honey. Sold as a cure all, it was claimed to cure fevers, prevent internal swellings, clear skin blemishes, help heart trouble, dropsy, epilepsy, palsy, help you sleep, aid digestion, strengthen limbs, heal wounds and of course, cure plague. Doctors at the time did make use of herbal remedies too. However, here again astrology had a distinct influence. The genuine medical properties of some plants were also related to how, and by who, they were collected. Betony had to be picked by a small child in August before sunrise, and marigold when the moon had entered the house of Virgo. A herbalist also had to recite the proper designated prayers when preparing the medicine.
And yet, medieval doctors were also skilled at a variety of medical procedures. They could set broken bones, extract teeth, take out bladder stones, remove cataracts, and restored a scarred face by skin grafts from the arm. They knew that apoplexy and epilepsy were related to the brain. Urine samples, feces and pulse rates were used to analyze ailments, and doctors were aware of which substances were diuretics and laxatives. It was also firmly believed that prevention was better than cure, and great emphasis was placed on a healthy lifestyle, in which diet, exercise, mental attitude and reduced stress all played a part.

You can learn more about 
The Heretic's Tomb and the historical background to the novel on my website.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Heretic's Tomb and the Black Death - Medieval Medicine Part Two


The Middle Ages are often seen as a shadowy period of limited medical knowledge and great superstition. But many ideas from the classical medicine of the ancient Greeks and Romans survived into the medieval period relatively intact. Medical knowledge also arrived in Europe from the Arab world over the centuries, and doctors were familiar with the medicinal properties of some plants. However, treatments and cures were often as much to do with magic and superstition as they were to do with real medicine.
Doctors were very much guided by astrology in the Middle Ages. The Church, which influenced so much of medieval life, strongly disapproved of astrology, but found it difficult to stamp out. During the worst period of the Black Death, astrological charts became even more important for doctors. As the illness reached a noticeable crisis point, after which a patient either recovered or died, the time of recovery and the position of the stars and planets were seen as very significant. Even Guy de Chauliac, physician to three popes in succession, and author of the leading work on medieval surgery, was a firm believer in astrology. For operations, he would use recognized anesthetic potions, but also recommended bleeding and other procedures based on the position of the planets. Illnesses were also determined to be serious or not depending on whether they were under the sun’s or the moon’s influence.

You can learn more about 
The Heretic's Tomb and the historical background to the novel on my website.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Online Writing Workshops for Children and Young Adults


With my Online Workshops for Children and Young Adults, through a series of e mail assignments, details of which are available here, we explore where ideas come from and how to turn them into stories, basic story structure, plot development, creating characters, developing dialogue and more to help develop writing ability. A set of workshops can be started at any time. Following registrationall assignments are sent by e mail and are completed at your own pace, to be sent to me by return e mail. There is no time limit and participants may take as long as they wish to complete their full set of workshops.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Heretic's Tomb and the Black Death - Medieval Medicine Part One


Creating The Heretic’s Tomb and establishing an authentic setting in 1349 meant learning about the types of medicine practiced in Europe during the Middle Ages. Again, online sources played a part, but I also read books on topics such as the medieval way of life, diet and nutrition, living conditions, doctors and their treatments, the large role played by superstition and the position of the church to get a feel for how Lady Isabella might have gone about her work as a healer and medical pioneer during the devastating epidemic of the Black Death. The causes of the disease are now well known, but in the mid fourteenth century, not only were people largely ignorant of the source of the dreadful sickness, they also had limited means to either treat or cure its victims.

You can learn more about The Heretic's Tomb and the historical background to the novel on my website.