Monthly Archives: April 2010

Two books, two communities

I think the committee of One Book One Burlington (OBOB) must have a really rough time deciding on a single book for all Burlingtonians to enjoy. I just finished reading Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam, the 2009 pick. I loved it, but I have talked to other readers who say they’re on the fence. But that’s really the point. Getting people talking is what One Book, One City initiatives are all about.

The 2010 OBOB pick will be announced by Burlington Public Library officials at noon on Saturday, May 1 at Youth Fest in Central Park, Burlington. Check out the OBOB page on Facebook to see if you can guess the book from a few clues (just log in and search for obob burlington).

An even bigger challenge? One Book One Twitter, an initiative of @crowdsourcing. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was chosen today to be the one book that the Twitter community will be reading this summer. Learn more with #1b1t.

Happy reading!


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Filed under Books and stuff

10 Tips to be a green writer on Earth Day and every day!

Today is Earth Day and we all know how important it is to consider our environmental choices—not just today, but every day. There are many ways that we, as writers, can make a difference. When it comes to reducing our environmental footprint, small steps can have a lasting impact. Become a green writer today.

Here are 10 things you can do now:

  1. Stop using disposable pens. How about a vintage fountain pen?
  2. Not working? Turn off computer & printer. Better yet–unplug them.
  3. Open the drapes and make use of natural (free) light.
  4. Replace the light bulbs in your office with energy efficient bulbs.
  5. Print on scrap paper. Print on both sides of paper. Purchase paper made from recycled sources. And remember to recycle your ink cartridges.
  6. Do as much of your business, bills, & marketing online.
  7. Getting rid of old equipment? Donate to charity or take to an electronics recycling centre (cell phones included).
  8. Review your subscriptions and put an end to junk mail.
  9. Reduce, reuse, & recycle. Find ways to apply all three in your office area.
  10. Educate others on the importance of Earth friendly practices at work, home, and in our communities.

BONUS: How about embedding environmental messages and behaviors in your writing (I love to do this!) Give your characters an environmental conscience.   

Share your own great tips by replying to this post, and while you’re at it, tell us what you’re doing around your home or office to celebrate Earth Day.



Filed under Inspiration

Coffee = fuel for restless writers

EspressoI wholly believe that writers are a restless bunch who need a change of scenery every so often to write at their best. Starbuck’s coffee shops and William’s cafes are filled with writers and poets who find inspiration among the aroma and vibe of the local java joint.

A few years ago, the Toronto Star asked some coffee-shop writers what they were working on. An article today follows up with those same writers to see how far they’ve come.

The next time you’re settled into a cosy chair in your favourite cafe, strike up a conversation with the scribbler beside you. You never know if that writer will be the next Giller Prize winner.



Filed under Inspiration, Success stories

Tell all your friends

Woman on a scaleTelling people that you’re writing a novel is a bit like telling people you’re trying to lose weight.

Some dieters want to appear in a bathing-suit in July with a magically whittled-down waist, without anyone knowing that they have been eating like a bird and spinning non-stop since the May long weekend.

Once you’ve told your friends that you’re on a diet, you may feel that your every bite is scrutinized; each sliver of birthday cake, handful of Doritos or basket of breadsticks eaten in public puts you on the defensive.

Some writers have a similar fantasy—to announce to their friends, family and frenemies that yes, their novel has just been published. They received a six-figure advance, and have been nominated for the First Novel Award. Next stop—book signings, talk shows and movie options.

A writer doesn’t want to hear the dreaded question: “How’s that novel you’re working on?” This seemingly innocent question is usually asked by the writer’s supposedly supportive spouse during a weak moment when the writer has been sucked into a Survivor clip show.

Some dieters and writers prefer to keep their efforts under wraps. They’re waiting for the big reveal. They’re thinking, what happens if I fail? What if I never drop those last 10 pounds, or write those final 10,000 words? They think it’s easier to toil away in secret. After all, it’s better to have tried and failed quietly, than boasted of your efforts and fallen on your face in public. Right?

Not so.

Don’t be bashful. You’re writing a novel—that’s something to be celebrated. It means you’re further along in achieving your dreams than 99% of those who say they “want to write a book someday.”

Tell people what you’re up to. Your friends could turn out to be your biggest supporters and motivators. They might ask uncomfortable questions—like why you’re watching reality TV instead of writing. Think of them as your accountability partners.

So—how’s that novel you’re working on?



Filed under Motivation

Don’t kick that kid out until you’re sure it’s ready

Lori, this one is for you.

Many people say that writing a book is like having a child. You give birth to it, nurture it, and nurse it when it’s sick. You pour yourself into it without robbing it of its individuality. You let it delight you. You let it break your heart. You give it every single thing you have, and then you go find something more to give it. Then comes the hard part. You have to release it, let it go wander the world among strangers. Strangers who might not understand it. Who might not like it. Who might even think it’s ugly.

There it is—your book. A nice, thick stack of pages, filled with the creations of your imagination. A whole world brought out of nothing and made real in the form of a ten-mile sentence. You should be genuinely, deeply, proud of yourself.

Excerpt from Timothy Hallinan on Finishing up your Novel.



Filed under Motivation

I see the light…

I’m almost done my manuscript. I thought I was done over a year ago, but with a lot of help from my fellow restless writers, I determined that this was not the case and re-wrote the first 100 pages.

This draft is tight. I’m really happy with it. But as much as I long to start cranking out some queries, part of me doesn’t want it to end. I like my characters, especially the saucy one, and I don’t want to leave their world quite yet.

I’m also having pre-query-jitters, similar to those felt by my sister when she plunged into the online dating pool: you’re putting yourself out to the masses and hoping someone likes what you have to offer. At least I don’t have to include a picture…


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Filed under Motivation