Tag: blogs

These are a Few of My Favourite Blogs

Readers of this blog will know that I love learning from other writers. I attend workshops, buy craft books and read blogs. Even when the topic seems old hat, there is always the possibility of finding a gem among the gravel. I’ve learned to use “struggle” instead of “conflict” for a whole other understanding of that concept. The sequence of “conflict, choice, consequence” has helped me recognize the role of  individual scenes in a story. Prime motivating factor was a concept I learned from another author very early in my writing journey. Since in person meetings are harder to find during the pandemic, I’ve spent more time reading blogs. Here are a few of my favourites.


  • Writer Unboxed.  For craft and business insights, this blog is hard to beat. They host many authors but here are a few of the regular contributors I enjoy.

Donald Maass. Each of his posts is a workshop on its own.

Barbara O’Neal’s blogs always feel like a warm hug.

Ray Rhamey offers a “Flog a Pro” segment where readers can act like editors and decide if they’ll buy a manuscript based on the first half page. Often he cites best-selling novels and describes why he would not read on. Sure makes me look at my own opening paragraphs very closely. If you want some solid advice on the craft and business of writing, I highly recommend taking a look at Writer Unboxed.

  • Writers in the Storm (WITS) is another favourite. The posts are normally shorter than those on WU so it’s a faster read.
    • Laurie Schnebly Campbell is a contributor. I’ve previously  written about what a great teacher she is.
    • I’ve found Jenny Hansen on this site. She shares great writing tips informed by “life” which makes for a fun read. 
  • Jenny Crusie’s Argh Ink is not a writer’s blog in the usual sense. I signed up expecting to get great writing advice. Instead, I found a community of writers who talk about “Working Wednesdays,” “Good Book Thursday,” Happiness Is . . .” If you’re feeling the need for connection, Argh is a good place to go.
  • Laura Langston is a YA author so many of her posts are directed to that audience. However, she does talk about writing life, bringing insights from her gardening hobby to brighten the prose. She also writes as Laura Tobias for women’s fiction.
  • Jacqui Nelson is a western romance author. Her blog contains lots of historical factoids. Great place to immerse yourself in the old west.These are just a few of my favourites. I’m sure you have your own “go to” posts. Please share in the comments below.

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More Writerly Kindness

2020 celebrationI’ve been really busy with non-writer stuff this past little while. We had a big event at my church to mark the beginning of 2020. I got to decorate, plan and produce the program, and sell tickets. Lucky me. ☺

I found myself torn between frustration that so much writing time was being taken up with something else and enjoyment at expanding my creativity in another direction. Not to mention, I’m a social being, so putting on a big party was a natural.

Learning to Charleston — on carpet!

The event went well. More tickets sold than expected. The entertainment was a hit — we had a 1920’s theme so had a lesson on the Charleston– and I got to mount my favourite hobby horse with a history quiz. I once taught history to high-schoolers and apparently I never got over it. I had a great time asking people about Canadian politics in the 1920’s, famous Canadians of the era, and who broadcast the hockey games.

I was gravely disappointed at the lack of historical knowledge in the room. Apparently not everyone believes we must know our history in order to appreciate the life we have now and to avoid some of the really big mistakes of the past. Ahem, as I said, I have a hobby horse.

But what really put the icing on my day was a comment about reading the church blog. (I maintain that too.) One of the questions on the quiz had been answered in the blog the week before. Several people at my table said “I know that. I read it on the blog.”  I felt a little glow form around my heart. Nothing is more heartening to a writer than to know that someone read her words and remembered them.

So, that’s my story of receiving writerly kindness. On the giving side, I voted in a cover contest for one of my fellow VIRA members. I interacted with writers seeking help in facebook posts. Simple acts, that don’t take a lot of time. That’s the great thing about kindness, little things make a big difference.

I wish I could stop war, fix the climate crisis and provide a roof for every person living on the streets, but those things are beyond my ability. They are beyond any one person’s ability. But kindness, of the writerly kind or just in general, is within reach of us all. Who knows? Maybe our combined kindnesses will make a more peaceful world where the Earth is nurtured and all human beings are valued.

Want to share stories of writerly kindness? Leave a comment below. I’ll enter your name into a draw for a free book at the end of 2020.

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The Joy of Taxes

It’s income tax season.  My usual approach to the task is to delay as long as legally possible, then scowl, fret and sweat my way through the incomprehensible labyrinth of Canada Revenue’s T1 form.

This year, I’m subscribing to the spoonful-of-sugar doctrine and tackling the job early and with a positive mind set.   So, here goes.

  • We have income — that’s good.
  • We have taxable income — even better.
  • We have enough to share — those charitable donations not only reduce tax, but apparently make you feel just as good as eating chocolate.
  • I bought a programme that does all the arithmetic so I don’t get hung up with wrong numbers.
  • Having the year summed up in tidy columns of plus and minus is rather satisfying in a control freak kind of way.

But doing my taxes reminds me there is so much more to life than the getting and spending of money.  In 2015 I wrote a contemporary romance (it’s in the rewrite stages now).  I outlined an historical romance.  I wrote 89 blog posts, some here, others at my church blog and still others for International Christian Fiction Writers.  I wrote a Christmas short story and a Christmas play.

I planted a garden, tended it, harvested it and filled my freezer with homegrown goodness.  I won ribbons at the Fall Fair. I read books, sang in choirs, nurtured my friendships and enjoyed my cats.  I went fishing with my husband.  I had a birthday.  I made Christmas ornaments for my great nieces and nephews.  We celebrated 27 years of marriage.  I set up this website . . .   2015 was filled with beautiful days, amazing adventures, quiet moments and a few rain storms.

If I use the Canada Revenue model, my 2015 came in high on the benefits side and low on the pains side.    I have to pay taxes.  Thank goodness!    So, there you are, my new approach to the joy of taxes.

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