Thursday, February 28, 2013

Copywriting Services


The way in which you communicate with your customers is a vital component  of your business and well written content can be the difference between success and failure. 

I have extensive experience in writing for a wide range of industries and market segments and offer a variety of copywriting services including website content, blogs and newsletters, social media including Facebook and Twitter, brochures, direct mail, sales letters, press releases, newspaper and magazine advertising and more. 
Contact me for details regarding copywriting services and my portfolio of completed projects.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

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 topics in much more depth than would be possible during a regular author visit. 


Each of my novels provide ideas for classroom projects and you may find some suggestions on the Study Guides page on my website. 

I have some suggestions for presentations and workshops, but am always pleased to work with teachers and librarians to build sessions best suited to your students. Contact me for details of fees and availability for my Author in Residence program.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Nine - Magic and Reality

In stories for children, it is the boy or girl who solves the problem, rather than the adult, which children find it much easier to relate to. Harry Potter is just like his young readers, an ordinary child with admittedly extraordinary powers. Even those of his friends who come from magical families have the same things to deal with such as homework, embarrassing parents or annoying siblings, making it more believable and thus rooted in the real world, despite Harry’s enrollment in a school for wizardry. Harry even has trouble becoming a wizard and struggles at school with some subjects, while his classmate Hermione streams ahead of him. On more than one occasion, Harry curses himself for not having studied the history of the magical world more deeply. In the earlier novels too, Harry is quite simply not good enough to take on more powerful wizards. 

Much of the strength of the novels is the journey of Harry from eleven years old to manhood and his learning curve along the way, which is reflected not just in his relationships with his friends and teachers, but also in his growing comprehension of the laws of magic. Although magic is the predominant theme running through these and other novels, the hero still has to overcome his difficulties though his own efforts. Magic should never be used simply as a way to solve all problems and just wish them away.


Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

School Programs, Presentations and Workshops

I offer a variety of presentationsauthor in residence programs and conduct workshops for children at schools. 

I offer a 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 writing and publishing.
I will present to around one hundred students at a time, although we can also look at workshops with smaller groups or individual classes. Each of my novels provide ideas for classroom projects and you may find some suggestions on the Study Guides page on my website. 

Contact me for details of fees and availability for school presentations.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Online Course with the University of Calgary - Writing for Children and Youth - May and June


The children and youth writing market is a rich and vibrant one. In this online course, you will examine the writing process from initial concept to finished work including how to turn ideas into stories, story structure, developing characters, the creation of outlines and the importance of editing and revision. You will also examine ways to research publishing houses where you can submit your work, cover letters, synopses and sample chapters. 

Learn more about Writing for Children and Youth and how to register here

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Study Guides and Classroom Resources


Study Guides and Classroom Resources provide some ideas regarding how each of my novels can be used for student projects in the classroom. You can access the Study Guides here

  • Character Creation 
  • Time Travel Stories 
  • Historical Eras 
  • The Superhero Genre 
  • Ideas and inspiration
  • Ancient Mysteries 

The 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.

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Eight - Magic and Time Travel

In my own books, I have relied upon magic to effect the time travel sequences, rather than using a mechanical device, and children have found this much more engaging than reading about a machine which has intricate controls, switches and dials. In my school workshops where students invent their own time machines and methods, very often highly sophisticated devices are created, but readers still prefer to read about something that makes them suspend their disbelief.

In The Alchemist’s Portrait, Matthew visits the city museum on a field trip with his school and meets a boy his own age, trapped inside his own portrait for over three hundred years. Matthew can step into the painting from the outside and once within the picture, he can view images from all the different time periods where the painting was displayed on walls in the past. And just as he can step into the portrait from the outside, when he is inside the picture Matthew can step through and travel back in time, choosing the era in which he wishes to emerge based on the image shown in the frame.

In The Sorcerer’s Letterbox, magic again plays a major role in the story when Jack travels to 1483 on a desperate mission to save the Princes in the Tower of London from the clutches of King Richard III. By the use of magic, Jack is able to correspond through time by means of a scroll placed in the drawer of a wooden box dating back to the Middle Ages. When he makes his initial journey into the past, a mysterious wheel in the box has to be turned anticlockwise in order for him to travel to 1483. This is a mechanical device, to be sure, but the trip back in time is still facilitated by magic, rather than by scientific means.

In The Emerald Curse, Sam discovers that his grandfather, the world’s foremost comic book artist and writer, is trapped in a bizarre comic book universe derived from his own imagination. This time there is a magic object involved - the magical pen with an enigmatic green gemstone embedded in the barrel which Charles Kelly used to create all his famous artwork and stories over the years. Using this same pen, Sam is able to communicate with his grandfather and by drawing himself within the panels of the story, travels into the comic book world in order to rescue his grandfather.

Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review of Does Canada Own the Arctic? in CM: Canadian Review of Materials

Here's a nice review from the Manitoba Library Association of another recent non-fiction title, Does Canada Own the Arctic?

"
Does Canada Own the Arctic? is profusely illustrated throughout with many photographs in colour and has a number of interesting teaching aids. Important terms, such as stewardship are highlighted in bold and definitions given. A number of chapters have interesting sidebars which discuss topics of relevance to the Arctic, such as “Climate Change”. Each section has an “Activity” and a “Quiz”. These and the other aids help to make the book a valuable classroom resource. Debates could be held between students representing the opposing sides of the issue."


"Does Canada Own the Arctic? is well-written, easy to understand and perfect for the intended readership. It is well researched, and the details are accurate."

Check out the 
full review in the February 22 issue of CM Magazine.

Vintage Armoured Cars at Dark Roasted Blend


Check out the latest article at Dark Roasted Blend, entitled Vintage Armoured Cars

Different types of road vehicles have been previously featured at Dark Roasted Blend, from vintage and antique examples to the very unusual, odd, weird and at times utterly bizarre. 

This article takes a look at the many different types of armoured cars that have appeared over the last one hundred years

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 appears daily.

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Seven - The Fantasy Realm

Magical realms have always had a place in folklore and legends in cultures around the globe for thousands of years and play a major role in fantasy literature. Sometimes these are the author’s own wonderfully detailed imagined worlds, complete with a form of government, architecture, currency, natural features, history, myths and legends, flora, fauna and traditions. Middle Earth and Narnia are two of the best known examples, but there are countless others. And even within these enchanted realms there are other special places too, areas where magical forces or auras are strongest or where special rituals have to be performed for spells or curses to work properly. Parts of the kingdom where only fairies can go, rivers only certain people can cross, the lake where Arthur first receives Excalibur, enchanted woods, mystical mountains, forbidden forests, caves where monsters or demons dwell and so many more.

These fantastic universes are nothing like the real world in which we live, yet still have to be realistic. An author’s own invented fantasy universe in which magic is commonplace can be inspired by non-fictional beliefs and deeply rooted in the history of mankind’s many cultures. However even if based on real practices the effect, strength and rules of the magic are usually what the writer requires for the plot of his or her story. And yet magic should never be used when it is merely convenient for the writer, to simply solve a tricky problem in the plot or save the hero’s life, otherwise the use of it will lose all credibility.

Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Coaching for Writers



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, February 15, 2013

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 topics in much more depth than would be possible during a regular author visit. 


Each of my novels provide ideas for classroom projects and you may find some suggestions on the Study Guides page on my website. 

I have some suggestions for presentations and workshops, but am always pleased to work with teachers and librarians to build sessions best suited to your students. Contact me for details of fees and availability for my Author in Residence program.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Six - Mystical Powers

Some stories featuring magic feature a mystical power, which is present in everything in the world, all around us, or is sometimes found in objects such as magical symbols, a mysterious ring, a precious stone or charm that a character can access. Wizards, witches and sorcerers often have the power to manipulate one or more of the natural elements, control mystical energy within the human body and many stories strongly feature the mysterious power of the subconscious mind. While many of these traditions, practices and beliefs may be briefly touched upon in a children’s story, they are not usually as fully developed as they would be in a story for adults or even one for teenagers.

However, although as a rule the older the child, the more sophisticated the concepts can be, this does not necessarily mean that the narrative has to be overly simplified for younger readers. While many of the complexities of the magical world frequently feature in books for children, they are less prevalent in novels for younger readers than in those for middle grades and those aimed at teenagers. However, the story still has to be believable. It may feature outrageous monsters or people with fabulous powers, but still has to be rooted in the real world or the reader will quickly lose interest.

Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

Monday, February 11, 2013

School Programs, Presentations and Workshops

I offer a variety of presentationsauthor in residence programs and conduct workshops for children at schools. 

I offer a 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 writing and publishing.
I will present to around one hundred students at a time, although we can also look at workshops with smaller groups or individual classes. Each of my novels provide ideas for classroom projects and you may find some suggestions on the Study Guides page on my website. 

Contact me for details of fees and availability for school presentations.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Five - Things That Never Were

That fact that C S Lewis’ Narnia is populated by creatures from just about every myth or legend in human history, most of them unconnected to each other in any previous stories, has never sat well with critics and purists of the fantasy genre. However, children don’t care and simply appreciate a really good story. Children are very familiar with mythological creatures and many think they are real, or at least were at some point in the past. To some young children, a dinosaur or mammoth is just as genuine a unicorn or a dragon. 

During my own visits to schools, when discussing my historical fiction novels The Sorcerer's Letterbox and The Heretic's Tomb, which are set in the medieval time period, children tend to know all about kings, queens, castles, knights and other aspects of the era, but invariably mention dragons. It isn’t that they have a lack of historical knowledge, but merely reflects the fact that dragons and other mythological monsters are almost always associated with fantasy tales, which generally take place in a traditional sword and sorcery environment. 

Of course, magical creatures other than dragons appear in fantasy adventures. Sometimes they are well known such as unicorns, ogres, giants, trolls, griffins, centaurs, hypogriffs and so on, but on occasion the author invents his own, such as Falkor the Luck Dragon in Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story. In my fourth novel, The Emerald Curse, the chief villain Baron Midnight creates his fearsome hybrids, combinations of the fiercest and most vicious creatures on earth, to create an army of invincible monsters. 

One of my more popular workshops with elementary age students involves the invention of a fantasy creature. Children must create their own imaginary animal combining two creatures together and give it a superpower, other than that of flight or breathing fire, which are all too common, along with the creature’s habitat, diet, enemies and so on. Some students are highly imaginative and many draw wonderful pictures of their monsters. The students are always so enthusiastic about this exercise, although we often run out of time, since they are so eager to share their creations with their classmates. An extension of this exercise involves the invention by the students of their very own fantasy kingdom.

Learn more about The Alchemist's PortraitThe Sorcerer's LetterboxThe Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald CurseThe Heretic's TombThe Doomsday MaskThe Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Online Course with the University of Calgary - Writing for Children and Youth - May and June


The children and youth writing market is a rich and vibrant one. In this online course, you will examine the writing process from initial concept to finished work including how to turn ideas into stories, story structure, developing characters, the creation of outlines and the importance of editing and revision. You will also examine ways to research publishing houses where you can submit your work, cover letters, synopses and sample chapters. 

Learn more about Writing for Children and Youth and how to register here

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Richard III - The Investigation Continues

Following the discovery of the bones of Richard III, there have also been a few stories in the news about checking on the bones buried in Westminster Abbey, reputed to belong to the Princes in the Tower, the focus of The Sorcerer's Letterbox. 

Tests may be able to prove if the bones are connected to those of Richard III, although this will not determine an exact cause of death or who was responsible, of course. They will also not be able to determine a precise date of death, pinpointing it to somewhere between Richard's seizure of the crown and his death at the Battle of Bosworth, a crucial element in this investigation. 

The bones were examined once before, in the 1930s, before the advent of DNA testing, when it was concluded that they belonged to children who were related to each other and to other known royal relatives. The bones were also found to be of children who were the same age as the princes when they disappeared. 

Learn more about the historical background to The Sorcerers Letterbox, visit YouTube for the story behind the story of the novel, read an excerpt or listen to a reading from The Sorcerer's Letterbox on my website.