Sunday, March 31, 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.

Saturday, March 30, 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

Absinthe: Dancing with the Green Fairy at Dark Roasted Blend


Check out the latest article at Dark Roasted Blend, entitled Dancing with the Green Fairy, which explores the Bohemian realm of Absinthiana, the trappings and accessories associated with the drinking of absinthe. 

The anise-flavoured spirit is made from the flowers and leaves of wormwood, green anise, sweet fennel and other herbs. Absinthe has a natural green colour and was referred to as the Green Fairy, although it can also be colourless. Absinthe has a high alcohol level and is normally diluted with water for drinking. It’s also very bitter and was often poured into a glass of water over sugar on a perforated spoon. 

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Eighteen - Enduring Popularity

Magic has been a part of mankind’s folklore, traditions, myths, legends and literature, both for  children and adults, for centuries. In stories for children, the adventure may be set wholly or partly in a fantasy universe, but readers prefer to identify with the people in the story as much as possible. Even in a world populated by magical beings and fantastic creatures, the main characters can be very ordinary individuals, with friends, families, intriguing personalities, troublesome pets or siblings, mannerisms and the rest, but still have incredible experiences.

The situations confronting the story’s leading players can also be universal, no matter where they take place, and often reflect the young reader’s own experiences, even if those individuals in the story are endowed with fabulous magical powers. Magic has been with us for a very long time and will doubtless always be popular, so for children the magical novel will no doubt be with us for many years to come.

Learn more about The Alchemist's Portrait, The Sorcerer's Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy,  The Emerald Curse, The Heretic's Tomb, The Doomsday Mask, The Time Camera and my many non-fiction books on my website.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Writing for Children and Young Adults - Classes at Mount Royal University May/June


Writing for Children and Young Adults. Evening classes at Mount Royal University in Calgary from May 29 to June 19, 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.

Register is available here at the Mount Royal University website.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Seventeen - Paying the Price

Sometimes a being bestowing power on the hero of the story may be anything but benevolent, when a verse carved on an ancient tablet can be recited to summon a demon, which will then grant a mortal some kind of magical powers. In this type of story however, the acquisition of powers usually carries a dreadful price, such as the possession of one’s soul, the death of a loved one or something equally drastic, which the demon will return and claim as his fee.

More often, magic is an innate talent that requires training. In the Harry Potter series, Harry’s schooling forms the central part of the series, although wizard education also features in Le Guin’s Earthsea novels. At the onset of the series, Harry Potter casts spells both accidentally and badly before he learns how to perform magic properly, honing his talents at Hogwarts. Sometimes wizards have their talent from birth, but do not realize it until they hit their teens, with or without special schooling. Even an accident or other event can trigger the powers, although the person needs to be taught how to use their powers correctly by an older mentor, who may have been quietly observing them for years, wondering when their ability would first manifest itself.

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, March 26, 2013

Why ebooks are a different genre from print

Here's a very interesting article in the Guardian about ebooks and why they essentially represent a different genre as opposed to print books. 

The differences in format are beginning to change the very nature of reading and why we do it. The author of the article wonders if this may indeed be opening a whole new chapter in the world of literature, in all genres. 

Monday, March 25, 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.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Sixteen - Secret Languages and Mysterious Books

Magical objects of course are not the only means by which powers can be exercised. We also see the specific use of archaic or secret languages and names in ways to practice magic. Spell books may be written in a long forgotten language or enchantments and verses inscribed on ancient stone tablets or written on the walls of tombs buried for centuries. In Earthsea, magic can only be used when speaking a certain language. In the Harry Potter novels, Rowling employs the use of Latinized words, many of her own invention, to give the spells performed by Harry and the other characters a more dramatic aura.

Sometimes too an evil character can be defeated or at least weakened by the use of his real name, as in the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltzkin, which he always keeps secret as a result. Similarly, the way in which powers are obtained varies from one story to another. Some feature dusty volumes of forbidden texts from antiquity that anyone can read or at least translate. They are then able to use the magic themselves without having any innate magical ability. Sometimes a benevolent being chooses to bestow powers on an individual, perhaps when he or she is dying and needs a successor.

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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Twelve inventors robbed of their billions

Check out the latest online article entitled 12 inventors robbed of their billions.

Ever wondered about billionaires who never were? I guess we’ve all heard of inventors who made fortunes and wished we’d thought of their ideas first. However, there are also people out there who came up with something new, even revolutionary, but never made their fortune. 

This article takes a look at a few individuals who had ideas that made very little money for themselves, but made plenty of other people rich. 

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Fifteen - More Magical Objects

In my fifth novel, The Heretic’s Tomb, Lady Isabella Devereaux comes into the possession of a mysterious amulet that has the power to restore life to the recently deceased. Living at the time of the Black Death in 1349, the noble and virtuous Lady Isabella intends to use the mysterious artifact to cure the relentless disease. However, the villain of the piece, Sir Roger de Walsingham, is also determined to secure the amulet for himself, in order to raise an army of the dead in order to seize the kingdom and make himself King of England.

Tolkien’s tale also features other magical objects such the sword wielded by Frodo which can detect the oncoming presence of orcs, while fans of Harry Potter are familiar with Harry’s invisibility cloak and his marauder’s map, by which he can observe the movements of others in the corridors of Hogwarts. Wands are wielded by all the leading characters in the Harry Potter series and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings has his trusty staff. Other fantasy tales are imbued with objects of a similar nature. Although the lead character in a fantasy tale may be endowed with magical abilities or have the power to cast spells and enchantments, the fact that a wand, staff or other means is used to help cast the spell also helps the story be more believable. The use of an object to help them, an aid to magic if you like, makes opposition to the magical character, whether good or bad, much more feasible. If the staff or wand is lost or damaged, the wizard is either helpless or at least less powerful, making the story more interesting by adding conflict.

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, March 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.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Fourteen - Magical Objects

Magical objects abound in fantasy stories and take a wide variety of forms. They are usually   endowed with fabulous powers which can affect memory, cast illusions, disguise people or objects by transforming them into something else, stop or turn back time and so on. The origin of the object is often shrouded in mystery and if the creator is actually known, he or she is rarely mentioned.

It is also important that the creator of the artifact is not the only person able to use the object, otherwise it would be a largely pointless addition to the story. Sometimes the object is extremely powerful and highly dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. Perhaps it is the only object capable of defeating the hero or rendering him defenseless. It may be the means by which the chief villain will be able to conquer the entire world, thus triggering a quest to either obtain the object or destroy it as happens with the ring of power in Lord of the Rings, but has also been a very common theme in many stories since then and continues to be used heavily in fantasy tales in one form or another.

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.

Saturday, March 16, 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.

Friday, March 15, 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, March 14, 2013

Writing for Children and Young Adults - Classes at Mount Royal University May/June


Writing for Children and Young Adults. Evening classes at Mount Royal University in Calgary from May 29 to June 19, 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.

Register is available here at the Mount Royal University website.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Magic in Stories for Children: Part Thirteen - Themes in Magical Stories

Another common theme in stories involving magic features an overwhelmingly powerful spell, which may cause untold damage or destruction if it is miscast. It may be the sole means of salvation for the heroes, but will destroy the entire world if it is used improperly. We also occasionally learn how magic may incur sacrifices, which could be something simple, such as an adversary’s prized possession or perhaps a sample of hair. Or it could be something far more difficult to obtain, such as a sample of someone’s blood, the claw of a ferocious beast or the tooth of a dragon.

The most dramatic examples involve the taking of a life, which also shows up as a recurring theme in magical stories. Despite the incredible powers wielded by wizards, the ability to conquer death is rarely present. The inevitability of death is crucial to make the story more exciting. If the hero can be killed, only to be resurrected at the slightest opportunity like the characters in a video game, the story loses all credibility. The hero has to be in significant danger of destruction or the reader will not be sufficiently interested to turn the page in order to learn what may happen to their hero in the next chapter.

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, March 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, March 10, 2013

Mixing it Up: Drink Stirrers and Cocktail Sticks at Dark Roasted Blend

Check out the latest article at Dark Roasted Blend, entitled Mixing it Up: Drink Stirrers and Cocktail Sticks

Cocktails have been around for quite a long time, dating back to at least the early nineteenth century. Flavours were added to mask the harsh taste of some of the unrefined liquor that was consumed back then. During Prohibition in the United States, when some of the liquor was home made or from dubious sources, drinks were often mixed to make them palatable. If you needed something with which to stir your drink or skewer a piece of fruit, you used a cocktail stick. 

Over the years there have been many very creative designs for these implements and this article showcases just a few examples. 

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.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Business Writing for Manuals, Plans and Reports


I have extensive experience in many different types of writing and offer a variety of services for large and small businesses, government, corporations and associations. 
  • Articles for Businesses or Associations
  • Business/Grant Proposals
  • Business Plans
  • Reports
  • Company Handbooks
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Company Histories
  • Scripts
  • Educational Materials
  • Speeches
  • Manuals
  • Technical Writing
  • Marketing Plans
  • Training Materials

I offer both hourly rates and flat fees for this kind of business writing, based on the requirements of the project. Please contact me directly for rates and fees for any of the above projects.