Chicken Soup

20120910-221887-cook-the-book-chicken-soupI doubt there’s a reader in the English language who hasn’t heard of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books by now (and they’ve been translated into over 40 languages now too!). There’s definitely something that authors writing these books have hit on, and I know I’ve wondered what that is myself.

When I was doing some internet surfing and came across an article from the publisher of the series giving writers some tips, and I found them very useful, so thought I’d share it with you. One of the reasons I liked her list is that it applies to both fiction and non-fiction writing.

We tend to think the two genres are totally different. And it’s true, not everyone who writes non-fiction can write fiction, and vice versa. But at the end of the day, most of the same rules apply. You need to be passionate about the topic. You need to be true to yourself. And you need to put yourself in the reader’s shoes.

I think I disagree a little bit about her take on creativity – that you should forget about creative writing techniques – because there’s a time and a place for everything, and I know I love when I read a beautifully crafted sentence. But by and large, I think Amy’s on the spot. When you write what you’d like to read, it will always find an audience and always connect with another reader out there.

Write on!

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Taking a break from the ordinary…

king quote

Hello everyone! There’s been radio silence on my end of this blog for a few weeks, but I have a good reason why–I was on vacation! Yes, I took a break from the tempermental and nasty weather of Northern Alberta and headed south to sunny Cuba. Not surprisingly, I had a fabulous time!

But beyond enjoying the escape from what was a pretty darn long winter (if you live in the prairies of Canada, you know what I’m talking about!), I really felt like the trip was necessary to refresh my writing. No, my new book isn’t about Cuba, but nevertheless I feel like vacations are critical for keeping the creative juices flowing. Getting away from the monotony of every day life and getting to experience entirely new surroundings and people is one of the most important things a writer can do to keep their writing fresh and interesting. The other thing vacations are great for, is reading! As writers, we all need to make time to read as well–but often times it takes a vacation for us to be able to catch up on it.

Even if you can’t afford to take a vacation or time off, you can get the same benefits as one by incorporating certain changes into your daily routine. First off, make time to read other writers! Nothing’s more inspiring than reading someone else’s beautifully written prose. If you’re starting to feel a bit blocked and always writing at home, try writing in a coffee shop or in a park–you’ll be amazed at how quickly it helps refresh your perspective.

So there are my post-vacation tips for other writers out there–here are few tips from some of the masters!

Ducks on the Peace River?

shopping duckHave ducks invaded the Peace River? We stopped at The Shopping Duck today for our next pitstop on our blog tour, and were glad to see nothing ran a-fowl (hah!)!

Their review highlights the fact that Evil on the Peace River is a great ‘one-sitting’ read. It keeps you glued to its pages, so make sure you clear your schedule when you sit down to read it!

Make sure you check out our feathered friends at The Shopping Duck for great tips and reviews for one of my favourite pastimes: book shopping!

Nothing says ‘holidays’ like snail mail.

November’s here and the run-up to the Christmas holidays has begun. Now I’m the first to admit that it’s a little too soon to be piping in the holiday music in shopping centres non-stop. But there are some things that do merit attention, even if the holidays are still several weeks away, and one of them is near and dear to my heart: the Christmas letter.

Most of my family is in Canada, so it’s not as much of a concern for me just at this moment, but it if you have letters or packages that need to be sent overseas or to another hemisphere or if you’ve got a big recipient list, then you’re going to want to get a jump on things and get started very soon.

Some people opt for the one size fits all newsletter—one larger letter that gets duplicated and sent to everyone on your Christmas card list. If you’re going this route, then go big or go home! If you’re not taking the time to write personal notes then I really think you should put some real effort into what you do send out. I even found some tips to help you craft the perfect holiday newsletter.

Then, of course, there’s the more traditional approach to Christmas communications, an individual letter or card. Personally, I think there’s nothing nicer than opening your mailbox to find a gorgeous card with a thoughtful message from a loved one (or even an acquaintance!) that I can display on the bookshelf throughout the season. And if you’re worried about the environmental impact of cards, there are tons of eco-friendly options out there.

It’s the one time of the year where we have the opportunity and craft a meaningful message for our families and loved ones. Embrace your inner writer and get started on those missives soon—once you start, you won’t easily stop!