Author Archives: bjas

Are you super talented or just crazy?

Like many of you, I procrastinate by watching videos on You Tube.

Instead of writing, I find myself watching funny Jennifer Lawrence clips (that Katniss cracks me up) or the latest in Sophia Grace and Rosie (cuz I kinda love female rappers, even if they are only 8 yrs old—thank you, Ellen!). But have you ever tried to find a GOOD video about writing fiction? Book trailers do not count, plus, they are just weird.

I finally stumbled on a good writing video. If you’re a writer and have two minutes to chuckle (your protagonist can wait), check out John Hodgman’s advice to writers via the You Tube Channel known as THNKR. You might know him as an American actor, author and humourist, and he’s also been on The Daily Show and Attach of the Show (G4 TV) as a guest many times.

So, which category do you fall into? Crazy, mediocre, or super talented?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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Filed under Author Interviews, Books and stuff, Getting published, Inspiration, Motivation, Writing ideas

A picture paints a thousand words: how to use Pinterest as a writer

pinterest-catsThe last thing I want as a writer is another social networking platform to worry about. I have enough distractions, thank you very much. And so it begins…

With a little persuasion from Maria, I have started “Pinning.” I’m using Pinterest for my writing research. Sure, I’m creating personalized boards and pinning my favourite DIY ideas but I’m also pinning research visuals and catching on to why this popular online space might just be a useful resource for me as a writer.

Unlike most social media platforms, Pinterest is all about the imagery, and not the text. And who doesn’t love pictures! With its visual focus, it may seem counterintuitive that Pinterest would be great for writers, but I’m quickly learning how this tactic is proving to be a rich resource, particularly in the creative stages.

Creating visual pin boards can be a great way to help fuel your imagination and give readers a glimpse into your creative process. Here’s a glimpse at my board to give you an idea.

Now it’s your turn to “Pin It!”

Here are 8 ways that Pinterest can be useful to you as a writer.

1. Research. People (actors that represent your characters). Places (images of similar settings). Things (objects or time period references). Mood (scenes that create atmosphere and emotional overtones).

2. Motivation. Inspirational quotes and wisdom as a way to inspire and remind yourself why you write and what you want to accomplish.

3. Collaboration. Invite other writers to pin to your board and make comments. Organize writing teams and pitch ideas. Provide incentives (free books) to fellow writers.

4. Booklists. Market research and comparables to your book. Or books you want to read!

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5. Promotion. Images of your blog, posters, flyers, business cards, book covers, and book tour photos.

6. The Writing Life. Pin the view out the window from your desk. Your bookshelf. Your real-life storyboard/pin board. Or even your cat asleep on your laptop.

7. Stay current. Using the “Popular” feature on the Pinterest home page, you can instantly access the latest trends from all genres.

8. Connect with your fans. Pin boards show your personality and interests. It’s a great way to connect with others and express what you care about.

How do you use Pinterest? Feel free to share links to your pin boards in the comment section. We’d love to check them out!

B Jas

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Filed under Blogging, Inspiration, Motivation, Writing ideas, Writing resources

A message for today

This might not be aligned properly. And it might be blurry too. But it doesn’t matter. Today, our group needs this message.

We hope it resonates with you too.

overcome

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Filed under Life and stuff, Motivation

‘Tis the season for some woowoo

402978_10151116064776524_1292974204_nWe (Restless Writers) are preparing for our Christmas meeting.

Lori is our host and has promised us the four food groups: booze, cheese, bread, and sugar. No doubt, eggnog and butter tarts will also make an appearance. Lori has promised something else too, something just as magnificent: a tarot or angel card reading. This is the woowoo part of our meeting.

Some of you might know the “woowoo” as an alcoholic beverage consisting of vodka, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice—others might know it as a reference to almost any form of unconventional thought. I think Deepak Chopra would agree that both work. Whatever your new-age pleasure, ’tis the season to indulge: yoga, reiki, meditation, clairvoyance, shamanic journeying, energy healing or whatever it is you do to find balance. Yay to the mind-body-spirit connection.

The woowoo is also for writers, and is absolutely essential to health and well-being. So, in honour of the woowoo this month, I wanted to share the following blessing for writers, by author Lisa Gardner.

At this time of year, I think we can all use an extra blessing. This one is for you.

A Writer’s Blessing

May you always remember the thrill of being swept away by a really good book.

May the words you’re typing on the page be as worthy as the words running through your mind.

May your deadline be behind you.

May a good story lie ahead of you.

And as we go forth,

May you always enjoy the journey to finding those two perfect words. The End.

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Filed under Group meetings, Inspiration, Life and stuff, Motivation

It’s Been a PITCH of a Summer

The Restless Writers have had some challenges this summer.

The pages and word counts have evaporated kinda like sweat. It’s been a summer of renos, indexes, puppies, and house hunting. Our meetings have gone down more like patio parties and opportunities to kvetch about our lives and ‘honey-do’ lists. But there is hope! We have all managed to share new ideas and bring the early workings of new-fangled projects to the table (along with brie and butter tarts).

We have pitches. Four of them.

Creating a pitch can be a bit like peeling back the layers of an onion. We all know a well-crafted pitch begins with a brief sentence that describes the book. So we started there, then followed it with character and situation information. We did this while taking into consideration three key story sparks and of course, the ultimate hook. We managed to come up with a structure that worked for us, while keeping in mind that we were pitching to each other as a writing group and not agents. We were pitching ideas, not complete projects.

And this is how we did it.

THE PERFECT PITCH:

  1. WORKING TITLE
  2. LOGLINE (i.e. one sentence summary)
  3. GENRE (i.e. YA/Women’s Fiction)
  4. WORD COUNT
  5. SIMILAR BOOK TITLES (or similar author’s style)
  6. MAIN CHARACTER (and main character’s goal)
  7. SITUATION
  8. CONFLICT
  9. DISASTER
  10. STORY RESOLUTION

Perhaps this is a template that you too can use while you pitch your new project to your peers. Try it for a few different projects before you settle on one. While it is a bit scary, it’s totally worth it.

Now the real work begins. We are about to begin plot summaries and outlines.

Our pitch of a Summer is setting us up for a fantastic Fall!

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Filed under Getting published, Group meetings, Inspiration, Motivation, Writing ideas

The things I do when I should be writing

For most of us, making time to write will always be something of a struggle. With family, friends, and financial obligations all vying for our attention, it takes determination to put pen to paper.

This past week, I found myself with the time to write. But I did not write. Instead, I gave myself permission to make time for life. And this is what I did.

Shoveled dirt like a Duchess:

Constructed raised vegetable gardens with my husband:

Planted pine trees and pear trees:

Hung laundry on the clothesline:

Enjoyed fireworks from the front yard:

Watched movies, both equally strange but good:

         

But the best part? I SLEPT IN!

BJas

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Filed under Blogging, Inspiration, Life and stuff

The Wind in the Willows vs. Bob the Builder

As a writer and environmentalist, I take this subject to heart.

Growing up, my favourite stories were always the ones about adventure, wild creatures in jungles and forests, and explorations in nature. But many books today are set in urban environments. Take a look at the titles on your children’s book shelves. Are they reading classics like The Wind in the Willows? Or are they into more modern tales about characters like Bob the Builder?

According to a new study, depictions of nature have been gradually disappearing from award-winning illustrated children’s books over the past few decades, sparking concerns about a growing disassociation from the natural world. This is also referred to as nature deficit disorder. This is not a medical condition; instead it describes our lack of a relationship with the environment.

Nature deficit disorder is a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, which refers to this trend and the fact that children are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioural problems. We don’t have to guess at what is keeping children separated from nature. The lure of the screen. Television. Video games. And a culture of fear. Parents favour “safe” regimented sports over imaginative play. Is this lack of outdoor playtime the reason our kids are depressed, distracted and overweight?

A team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently examined the top books honoured by the prestigious Caldecott Medal, judged by the American Library Association, between 2008 and 1938 when the award was created. The study reviewed close to 8,100 illustrations from 300 children’s books, in total. The researchers found a steady decline in images that showed a natural environment, like a forest or jungle, compared with images of built environments, like a school or house, and in-between environments, like a manicured lawn. The number of wild animals, compared with domesticated animals, was also found to have dropped. In the mid-1970s, depictions of urban settings rose dramatically, taking the place of natural environments, to the point where nature has all but disappeared, the researchers said.

Of course, some of this is not surprising since many of us now live in urban settings. And although children may be learning about the natural world through other media, they’re not being socialized, at least through illustrated books, to understand and appreciate nature and our place in it. This lack of contact may result in children caring less about the natural world and less about the many significant environmental problems we face.

Richard Louv says it best, “The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

How will nature make a come-back on your child’s book shelf?

BJas

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Filed under Books and stuff, Inspiration, News

Your life in 6 words

Not Quite What I Was Thinking

According to the literary legend, novelist Ernest Hemingway was once challenged in a bar to write a story in only six words. He wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

If you were asked to sum up your life in six words, could you do it? I was challenged with this recently and it’s been an interesting exercise. I wrote a bunch of bios, then a bunch more. It was surprising how many I could come up with, some poetic, some funny, and some that resembled silly haikus. All of them a bit out of the ordinary, yet candid and concise.

Here’s one of them:

Artist trapped in civil servant’s body. ~ Beckie

After jotting down a dozen for myself, I took it further and extended the challenge to the Restless Writers and here’s what I got:

Strives for perfection, stymied by procrastination. ~ Maria

Writer wannabe, ‘cuz I hate housework. ~ Lori

Of course, I stumbled upon many more (like this) out there. The online magazine Smith asked its readers to do the same. The result was Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs by famous and not-so-famous writers, artists, and musicians.

Here are a few of them:

No future, no past. Not lost. ~ Matt Brensilver

Catholic school backfired. Sin is in! ~ Nikki Beland

Well, I thought it was funny. ~ Stephen Colbert

Deceptively simple. Surprisingly addictive. The profound brevity of these bios leaves you knowing so much, and yet somehow leaves you wanting more. Give it a try, the experience of capturing real-life stories in six words is an insightful one.

What’s your six-word bio? We invite you to leave it in the comments section.

BJas

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Filed under Inspiration, Life and stuff, Motivation, Writing ideas

A love letter to books

Because there’s nothing quite like a real book!

Kudos to TYPE Bookstore owner Joanne Saul on her crazy fun Joy of Books video. We love dancing books just as much as we love indie book stores.  These are challenging times for booksellers. Make friends with an independent bookstore today!

BJas

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Filed under Inspiration, Vlog

New year. New stories. Ready, set, go!

Our sentiments exactly…Happy New Year from the Restless Writers.

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Filed under Inspiration, Motivation