Monday, December 30, 2013

Forming Fictional Characters - University of Calgary, Tuesday, January 28

Each year, the Continuing Education department at the University of Calgary serves over 20,000 lifelong learners and offers thousands of courses taught by more than 1,000 instructors – all experts in their fields.

Forming Fictional Characters - Tuesday, January 28, 6 pm to 9 pm 


Without people there is no plot and characters are at the heart of any story. In this workshop, 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 so that their characters truly come alive for the reader.

Learn more about the Forming Fictional Characters workshop and how to register here

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Writing for Children and Young Adults - Classes at Mount Royal University in February


Writing for Children and Young Adults. Evening classes at Mount Royal University in Calgary from February 5 to 26, 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm. 

Explore the process of writing books for children and young adults aged 8 to 12. Focus on structure, character development and research, and their importance in your stories. Examine how to turn a creative story idea into a marketable, finished manuscript.

Registration is available here at the Mount Royal University website.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Forming Fictional Characters - University of Calgary, Tuesday, January 28

Each year, the Continuing Education department at the University of Calgary serves over 20,000 lifelong learners and offers thousands of courses taught by more than 1,000 instructors – all experts in their fields.

Forming Fictional Characters - Tuesday, January 28, 6 pm to 9 pm 


Without people there is no plot and characters are at the heart of any story. In this workshop, 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 so that their characters truly come alive for the reader.

Learn more about the Forming Fictional Characters workshop and how to register here

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Children's Writer's Guide - Now Available on Amazon

The Children’s Writer’s Guide examines how you can get started as a writer, create time and space to pursue your craft and deal with lack of motivation and writers block. Topics covered include where ideas come from and how writers turn them into stories, choosing names for characters that are appropriate to the story, the importance of historical research if your novel is set in a different era, writing science fiction and fantasy, and the use of magic in stories for children.

The guide examines the role of editing and revision and how to deal with what is often the inevitable process of rejection, at least until good fortune comes your way. I also recount some of my experiences with marketing and promotion, such as book launches and in-store signings, websites, blogs, and social media, and discusses presentations, workshops and author-in-residence programs at schools and libraries.

Check out the video on YouTube, where I talk about some of the topics covered in the Guide.

Here are just a few places where you can buy The Children’s Writer’s Guide.

Amazon Canada               Amazon USA               Amazon UK     
Amazon Germany             Amazon France           Amazon Japan

You can also learn more about The Children’s Writer’s Guidealong with all my other books, on my website.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Coaching and Workshops for Writers


I offer workshops and presentations for both adults and children for community associations,home schooled students and summer camps, as well as services for writers including coachingmanuscript editing and evaluation, plus online workshops for children and for adults. 

I conduct creative writing workshops with community associations and have run workshops and made presentations as part of summer camp programs in Calgary and the surrounding area. I also work as an instructor at the University of Calgary and at Mount Royal University, conducting one day classes and evening sessions for adults who are interested in writing for children and young adults. I’ve also conducted similar workshops for adults for community associations, professional writer’s groups, public libraries and am available as a speaker for keynote addresses, conferences and other events.

Contact me directly for further details about coaching and workshops.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Forming Fictional Characters - University of Calgary, Tuesday, January 28

Each year, the Continuing Education department at the University of Calgary serves over 20,000 lifelong learners and offers thousands of courses taught by more than 1,000 instructors – all experts in their fields.

Forming Fictional Characters - Tuesday, January 28, 6 pm to 9 pm 


Without people there is no plot and characters are at the heart of any story. In this workshop, 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 so that their characters truly come alive for the reader.

Learn more about the Forming Fictional Characters workshop and how to register here

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Writing for Children and Young Adults - Classes at Mount Royal University in February


Writing for Children and Young Adults. Evening classes at Mount Royal University in Calgary from February 5 to 26, 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm. 

Explore the process of writing books for children and young adults aged 8 to 12. Focus on structure, character development and research, and their importance in your stories. Examine how to turn a creative story idea into a marketable, finished manuscript.

Registration is available here at the Mount Royal University website.

The Doomsday Mask Puzzle


Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Children's Writer's Guide - Now Available on Amazon

The Children’s Writer’s Guide examines how you can get started as a writer, create time and space to pursue your craft and deal with lack of motivation and writers block. Topics covered include where ideas come from and how writers turn them into stories, choosing names for characters that are appropriate to the story, the importance of historical research if your novel is set in a different era, writing science fiction and fantasy, and the use of magic in stories for children.

The guide examines the role of editing and revision and how to deal with what is often the inevitable process of rejection, at least until good fortune comes your way. I also recount some of my experiences with marketing and promotion, such as book launches and in-store signings, websites, blogs, and social media, and discusses presentations, workshops and author-in-residence programs at schools and libraries.

Check out the video on YouTube, where I talk about some of the topics covered in the Guide.

Here are just a few places where you can buy The Children’s Writer’s Guide.

Amazon Canada               Amazon USA               Amazon UK     
Amazon Germany             Amazon France           Amazon Japan

You can also learn more about The Children’s Writer’s Guidealong with all my other books, on my website.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cinerama: The Next Big Thing That Was at Dark Roasted Blend

Check out the latest article at Dark Roasted Blend entitled Cinerama: The Next Big Thing That Was.

These days, it sometimes seems like there’s a new technological advance or gadget every week. There are certainly changes in the way we view movies and TV shows, with more and more people watching these on their computers. Video rentals have been consigned to history and HD, Blu-ray and other terms have entered the language (and some are on their way out already).

Yet, innovation is nothing new and the movie industry has been evolving since the first motion pictures were shown at the turn of the twentieth century. Even 3D, which is an option offered at theatres for many movies today, dates back to the fifties, although it didn’t catch on as well as expected back then.

This article takes a look at Cinerama, which was going to be the next big thing when it first appeared over half a century ago. 

Dark Roasted Blend is among the finest locations online to find the weird, the wonderful and the fantastic, crammed with great articles, stunning photography, plus fabulous new content which appears daily.

The Clone Conspiracy Puzzle


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Writing Good: More Business Blunders - Copywriting for Business, Online and Social Media


Some words that are commonly considered to be interchangeable, but actually have very different, often opposite, meanings. Employing the wrong word in a given situation, such as overlooking an important piece of paperwork as opposed to overseeing it, could have disastrous consequences in the workplace.

Other mistakes can be less serious, but can still result in confusion. For example, following an interview for a promotion at which the candidate believed they had performed very well, imagine their reaction to receiving a notification that they’d been ‘excepted’ for the position. Assuming that the employee was familiar with the correct use of the English language, they would instantly wonder what they’d done wrong. Was it something they said? What had someone taken exception to? And how would this affect their career in their current position, since they’d missed out on the promotion for some mysterious, but clearly very important, reason? The candidate’s reaction would of course be very different if they received notice that they’d been ‘accepted’ for the job, prompting congratulations from their fellow employees and celebrations with friends and family. 

Altogether and all together are also often confused. Altogether means completely or entirely, whereas all together relates to a group, as in ‘I’d like to have the sales people all together in the boardroom for an announcement’. If you wish to inform your employees that something is entirely false, you would state that ‘the rumors about impending office closures are altogether untrue’ or that ‘the situation next month could be altogether different’, for example. Some time and sometime are also frequently used incorrectly. If your coworker has assisted you in the completion of an important project, you might tell them ‘thanks a lot. I hope I’ll be able to help you out in return sometime.’ However, some time is specific, as in when you reassure your friend who is preparing for an interview, ‘don’t worry, you still have some time to get ready.’

Serious errors appear in important corporate and government communications on a regular basis and can be found on so many company websites. Any potential clients encountering you online may quickly assume that your products and services are as unreliable and shoddy as the text on your web pages. Hiring a professional to look after your writing requirements can make all the difference between success and failure. A professional copywriter will compose text that is designed to get you noticed online, enhance your company’s reputation and ultimately increase your business and profitability. 

I have extensive experience in writing for a wide range of industries and markets. Contact me directly for details of rates and fees regarding copywriting services.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Writing Good: Wording Woes at the Office - Copywriting for Business, Online and Social Media


All languages evolve over time and English is no exception. Many words frequently spoken in the medieval period, in the time of Shakespeare, from the Victorian era or even words in common use as recently as a century ago, most of which can still be found in the dictionary, are rarely heard today. The rapid development of computer technology in recent decades has given us words such as online, laptop, iPod, log-on, cell phone, download and many others, including of course, Internet. However, despite all these newcomers, the incorrect use of existing words and phrases and confusion or indifference to their actual meanings has become rampant.

I recently heard someone describe a particular situation as liquid, as in nothing is certain at the current time, when they clearly meant the situation was fluid. I’ve also encountered the words dethaw and unthaw in recent months. If something in your freezer is frozen solid, you take it out to defrost or thaw the item. I can only assume that if you wished to dethaw or unthaw something, you’d perhaps take it out of the freezer for a short time and then put it back in before it became defrosted?

In the workplace, people often state that they would like to help the problem, when they mean they’d like to help solve the problem. For example, you don’t wish to help the problem of traffic congestion in your city or the problem of efficiency in your office, which get along very nicely without your assistance. Rather, you wish to help solve these problems, investigate solutions and improve the situation. Similarly, an alcoholics help line should really be described as an alcoholic prevention help line, since alcoholics shouldn’t really be receiving any assistance to either begin or continue with their addiction. 

If these kinds of things are appearing in your written materials outside the office or on your website, they will certainly reflect on your professionalism or lack of it in the eyes of potential customers. You should take pride in your online copy, which can be seen by millions of people, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. If it appears that you don’t really care what your website looks like, clients will be left with a poor impression of your company. The quality of your online content will always have either a positive or negative effect on your website’s visitors. To boost your chances of making a great first impression, you need professional help and advice. Hiring a competent and experienced copywriter could be one of the best investments you ever make. 

I have extensive experience in writing for a wide range of industries and markets. Contact me directly for details of rates and fees regarding copywriting services.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Coaching and Workshops for Writers


I offer workshops and presentations for both adults and children for community associations,home schooled students and summer camps, as well as services for writers including coachingmanuscript editing and evaluation, plus online workshops for children and for adults. 

I conduct creative writing workshops with community associations and have run workshops and made presentations as part of summer camp programs in Calgary and the surrounding area. I also work as an instructor at the University of Calgary and at Mount Royal University, conducting one day classes and evening sessions for adults who are interested in writing for children and young adults. I’ve also conducted similar workshops for adults for community associations, professional writer’s groups, public libraries and am available as a speaker for keynote addresses, conferences and other events.

Contact me directly for further details about coaching and workshops.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Writing Good: Common Mistakes - Copywriting for Business, Online and Social Media


The English language can be very odd when you take a look at it. I mean, consider a word like ‘thought’, which doesn’t look like it should be pronounced the way it is. The spelling is similar to the word ‘through’ although even that word sounds the same as ‘threw’, which has a completely different meaning. No wonder people from other countries have trouble understanding or learning English or that we see images of those badly translated signs from around the world. Nevertheless, that’s no excuse for what sometimes seems like pure laziness in the use of the language by English speakers that we witness so often today in the business world and elsewhere.

For example, if employees are informed that something will be to their company’s advantage or will benefit the employees personally, it is often described as being an added bonus. However, this is actually nonsense, since a bonus already represents something extra. Another commonly used word is irregardless, as in ‘irregardless of the consequences, we’re going ahead with the project’, or something similar to that. Adding ‘less’ to the end of the word already makes it negative. It doesn’t need the ‘ir’ added at the beginning to make it even more negative.

Some people actually ask their employees after a meeting ‘what learnings can we take from this?’ They simply don’t seem to realize that what they mean to say is ‘what have we learned from this?’ or perhaps ‘what lessons have we learned?’ which would be correct uses of the language. Here are a couple of other phrases that have crept into the corporate environment in recent years. ‘What’s the ask here?’ or ‘what are we tasked with?’ are presumably supposed to mean ‘what are we being asked to do here?’ And of course these two wonderful expressions can even be combined as ‘we’ve been tasked with the ask of ...’, which is just wrong, in so many ways.

Maybe this material is only for internal consumption or inter-office memos, but whether in the small office or in a large government building, someone, somewhere, is cringing when they read this stuff. Plus if this type of thing finds its way onto company websites and blogs, it’s obviously accessible to a far wider audience and can be very detrimental. People will assume your lack of attention to detail is reflected in your products and services and you’ll never even know why you’re losing business. This is where a professional web copywriter can help you. 

I have extensive experience in writing for a wide range of industries and markets. Contact me directly for details of rates and fees regarding copywriting services.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Children's Writer's Guide - Now Available on Amazon

The Children’s Writer’s Guide examines how you can get started as a writer, create time and space to pursue your craft and deal with lack of motivation and writers block. Topics covered include where ideas come from and how writers turn them into stories, choosing names for characters that are appropriate to the story, the importance of historical research if your novel is set in a different era, writing science fiction and fantasy, and the use of magic in stories for children.

The guide examines the role of editing and revision and how to deal with what is often the inevitable process of rejection, at least until good fortune comes your way. I also recount some of my experiences with marketing and promotion, such as book launches and in-store signings, websites, blogs, and social media, and discusses presentations, workshops and author-in-residence programs at schools and libraries.

Check out the video on YouTube, where I talk about some of the topics covered in the Guide.

Here are just a few places where you can buy The Children’s Writer’s Guide.

Amazon Canada               Amazon USA               Amazon UK     
Amazon Germany             Amazon France           Amazon Japan

You can also learn more about The Children’s Writer’s Guidealong with all my other books, on my website.