Archive for March, 2014

TINA SINGH HEADSHOTName: Tina Marie Singh

Business Name: Lionsgate Design

Location: Missisauga, Canada

Check out Tina’s website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

 

A bit about Tina…

I’ve always had a passion for design and love solving design dilemmas. I grew up in the small town of Chatham Ontario and moved to Toronto in my mid-twenties for more opportunities. Met my husband of 13 years and have two small children, girl and boy in that order. I was the Project Manager for a major telecom company for over ten years before pursuing my passion and starting my own business.

What first motivated you to get into the design industry?

Ever since I was a child I was into decorating and design. I think I mostly got it from my mother who was always re-arranging and decorating the house. This tinkering in my parents house turned into a passion I couldn’t deny so I started Lionsgate Design as an outlet, but I made sure it would be a real business and not just a hobby.

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: Jason Hartog Photography

At what point did you decide to enroll in an interior decorating course? What made you choose QC Design School?

I decided to enroll in the interior decorating and staging course after I had my first child. I wanted to pursue my passion and thankfully have a very supportive husband. I chose QC Design school because I was able to still work my full time job while I did the distance education. I researched the schooling and found that QC Design School was the best fit for me, and I had a wonderful experience.

Tell us! What do you enjoy most about your work?

What I enjoy the most about my job is when clients are speechless and love the overall look of their home. That is my greatest satisfaction!

We love the creative look of your website – it’s lovely! Can you talk a bit about how you ended up at your current business name, design and logo?

Thank you! I came up with the name Lionsgate Design because I wanted my company to reflect me and to tell a story. I’m a Leo, born in August, and my last name Singh means Lion. I envisioned a lion head doorknocker with iron gates to a home which is how I came up with Lionsgate Design and my logo.

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: Jason Hartog Photography

You’ve done an excellent job of utilizing social media to get your name out there; we especially love the monthly newsletters you distribute through Facebook! Any tips for industry newbies on using social channels to network and build brand awareness?

Thank you! The best tip I can provide is to not always sell, sell, sell. It’s all about engaging an audience and providing some honest, free advice and tips. I like to showcase design spaces that inspire me which shows my sense of style and what I too like creating. I’d say 10% advertising and 90% engaging.

Highlights of your career so far? Tell us about your most memorable project to date!

My most memorable project to date is when I was hired on to decorate a new build 12,000 sq ft home from cutlery to furnishings. My clients literally moved in with just their suitcases. Soap, towels, glasses and utensils were all purchased and ready to go.

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: Jason Hartog Photography

On the flip side, was there a project you didn’t particularly enjoy working on? Why?

Yes, one in particular where everything that could go wrong did go wrong; with one particular reputable company (not mentioning any names). My client was on a tight budget and they purchased items from this company because there was a great sale. 10-12 weeks for a custom sofa that was ordered only to find out at the 12th week , even after continuous follow-up calls, that the sofa was never ordered and the coffee table that arrived was warped and the ottoman was chipped. Event though it was not ordered through me but rather directly through this company by my client, I worked as hard as I could to resolve the issues. Made it happen and in turn the client blamed Lionsgate Designs and never paid me for my fees, even after working 60+ hours on the project and styling the home with all the decor items. Lessons learned: contract revised, all hours billed including any discrepancies beyond my control or outside of my A team of suppliers.

Any advice for our readers on how to deal with difficult clients?

Always stay calm, firm and note company policy. Stay professional and always make sure you have a contract. I’ve only had one difficult client situation since I’ve been in business and once I revised my contract and prequalify clients ahead of time I haven’t run into any difficult clients. Just like clients interview you, you also need to interview them to make sure you both are a good fit.

What decorating trends are you most excited to work with in the coming year?

I’m not really in to using trends since they do come and go. I try to keep with classic and long lasting designs unless a client is adamant about a new trend. Then I will design according to the trend to provide what the client is looking for. In regards to staging, it’s all about the demographics and how the home is speaking to me. I target market through lifestyle merchandising the home to get it sold fast and for top dollar.

What do you see on the horizon for Lionsgate Design?

I see Lionsgate Design expanding to the next level. My goal is to create a larger design firm and hire more stagers, decorators and designers over the next 6 months to a year.

Take a look at some more of Tina’s work!

Lionsgate DesignPhoto credit: John Goldstein Photography

 Photo credit: John Goldstein Photography

 Photo credit: John Goldstein Photography

 DO YOU DREAM OF CREATING BEAUTIFUL SPACES LIKE TINA DOES? QC DESIGN SCHOOL CAN HELP YOU PURSUE YOUR PASSION.


writing tips

Gene Fowler, the American journalist, and dramatist said it best, “Writing is easy. You just sit staring at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”

We all know that feeling. If Gene were writing today, he’d have us all staring at a blank screen instead of that awful piece of paper, but we’re still all sitting there, trying our best. Good writing, after all, does not come easily. Mostly, it’s hard work. Mostly it’s a lonely business.

Even the best writers sometimes have to go even further than Gene suggested. Blood, and sweat and tears may help to achieve that compelling prose.

When you are at your lowest and think you will never get there, it can be helpful to see how others do it.

A mentor is a great help. At Winghill, we give you the structure of a course as well as  a mentor to support you.

In blogs, many other writers are generous with their time and knowledge. Look around online, you’ll find thousands of blogs covering many thousands of creative topics. Find the ones that you feel best support you in your work.

Here are some free ones that we really like. Some deal with specific topics or specialty writing tips. Others are more general in nature. They’ll all take you by the hand and help you to realize that you are not alone.

JohnAugust.com

John August is a highly successful scriptwriter with credits like the Charley’s Angels movies, Corpse Bride and Big Fish to his name.  His blog is full of how-to information and up-to-the-minute trade news. If you are interested in screen writing, John’s a great guy to read.

Makealivingwriting.com

At Make a Living Writing, Carol Trice offers, “practical advice for hungry writers.” You’ll find lots of solid, practical tips here on how to get by in the competitive writing world.

Writershelpingwriters.com

At Writers Helping Writers, Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi do just that. A recent blog post contains a fabulous article on how to give your fictional characters terrible emotional wounds – from which you can help them to recover, or… lacerate them remorselessly forever. Who said you have no power!?

write4kids.com/blog

Jon Bard’s blog is a fabulous compilation of tips and advice on the creative process AND the business end of writing in an important specialty area – writing for children.

www.dailywritingtips.com

An excellent blog to visit daily just as its name implies. Put your bum on your chair. Open up dailywriting tips.com Spend a pleasant fifteen minutes browsing about how other writers do it. Then start the hard work yourself…until the blood drips from your forehead! And talking of horror…..

keithpyeatt.blogspot.com

Keith Pyeatt can evoke shudders with the best of ‘em. At his Horror With Heart blog, he reminds us that anti-heros can still be worthy of sympathy and feel, as Keith says, “like old friends.” And there’s the true heart of horror. It could happen to any of us. Aaaaaaaagghh!


Whether you are simply a beginner planning on embarking on a career in the events industry or a seasoned veteran, while you plan and prepare your event down to the last detail, on the day it really is best to expect the unexpected!

After months of careful planning I’ve had opening keynote speakers stranded at airports in bad weather, course hand-outs arriving in boxes just ten minutes before guests arrive, sponsor display boards falling over, technical failures, dodgy catering and more to cope with.

MacGyver solves complex problems with everyday materials he finds at hand, along with his ever-present duct tape and Swiss Army knife. Actually, come to think of it, those two items are very useful for event planners to bring along too!… However it’s his resourcefulness we can really learn from.

The devil is in the detail and there are some everyday items that might just save your event, or at least minimise the effect of any unexpected or embarrassing moments for your guests. Whatever else happens will be a test for your inventiveness.

EVENT MANAGEMENT

Safety pins

My best friend the safety pin can be tasked with many a job, holding up a hem, replace a button, fix a gaping top, attach an impromptu name badge or anchor a billowing tablecloth. It’s good to have generous supply of these on hand!

Baby wipes

Another insider secret is baby wipes. These are pre-moistened and ready to mop up food and drink spills. They are also highly effective at removing stains from clothing. Even coffee stains on crisp white business shirts!

Personal supplies

Confidence is everything for your speakers. It’s not unusual for presenters to arrive without their luggage or even wallet. I’ve seen this happen due to missed travel connections, lost luggage and, in one case, a car accident on the way to the venue. Even just being late and rushing can make people feel stressed and flustered.

Mostly they just need a kind word, a glass of water and a private space to gather their thoughts. Now and again they might need personal supplies. To save embarrassment (and further delay) I encourage them to take what they need from a handy little box stocked with deodorant, tissues, chewing gum, toothpaste, toothbrush, bobby pins, hair ties, sanitary products, contact lens solution and in many a case a spare pack of pantyhose.

One day I went through four pairs of the spare pantyhose myself! It was due to the rough underside of the table I was sitting at. Every time I crossed my legs the material would catch. I’m sure MacGyver would have found a way to sand the surface smooth! I just made sure I was sitting at a different table the next day.

Health and comfort items

Hopefully the most pressing health concerns you’ll have to deal with are the very common blisters and dry ticklish throat – both easily fixed with Band-Aids and cough lozenges.

In the spirit of using what’s already on hand, set up a few seats at the back of the room for those attendees that might need to stand up and stretch more often, or come and go for health concerns. I’ve had this request on many occasions from attendees with bad backs, morning sickness and tummy bugs.

People do tend to pick up bugs when travelling so you should have a dispenser of hand sanitizer available. The alternate MacGyver use for hand sanitizer is removing sticky spots from tables and other flat surfaces.

Hardware

Twist ties, fishing line, double sided tape, masking tape, wire, scissors or the trusty Swiss Army knife should fix décor items, open reluctant boxes and minimise trip hazards in a darkened room.

Technical backup

Phone chargers, pens, batteries, a back up copy of all presentations and a geek on call should help you through any technical minefields.

You can alleviate a lot of stress by being as organised as possible prior to an event but beyond stocking these basic everyday items, it’s attitude that saves the day.

Be attentive, approachable and honest. When trouble strikes, help can come from any corner, and people like to feel useful.

Keep your eye on the big picture. This industry is essentially about people connecting and it is these connections that people remember long after any other impression of your event.

Guest post by Anna Johnson, PR Works
Anna Johnson works in PR and marketing and specialises in working with large clients in the hospitality and event industries such as 
The National Convention Centre and The Star Events Centre. Anna takes a great interest in everything events, marketing, social media and internet related and enjoys sharing her knowledge on these subjects.  You can follow Anna on Twitter @AnnaO_T


March 25, 2014 12:48 pm

STYLE BYTES: Wearable Animal Print

This time last year we saw animal print everywhere. And we liked it, up to a point. It happened slowly at first, but eventually every Facebook photo we came across seemed overwhelmed by the bold print. It was time to take things down a notch. Fortunately, spring style seems to have gotten the memo.

Now, instead of wearing it to make one big bold statement, the focus is more on seamlessly integrating animal print into one’s everyday ensembles. Think whisper thin belts and understated earrings. By all means go bold, but keep it soft and wearable.

Let us show you how it’s done…

1. Add a classy pop of animal print to a monochromatic outfit.

animal print

 

2. Cinch in a colorful skirt at the waist with a thin animal print belt.

3. Keep it functional!

ap3

Check out this video from our style mentor Tylar for other tips on seamlessly incorporating animal print into your everyday style!

Curious to know more about Tylar and the QC Style Academy? Get a copy of our free brochure here.

Have some animal print styling tips of your own? Share them with us in the comments!


I’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately, and I’ve noticed that when walking into the kitchen, the homeowners always complain about the same thing: “hmm…These countertops aren’t granite.” That one always makes me roll my eyes. Personally, I’m a bit tired of granite countertops. They can be really beautiful, but more often than not I find they all look kind of the same. I can’t help but wonder, when it comes to countertops, is granite really the best thing out there? Take a look at what I found below.

1. Quartz

A kitchen with quartz countertops

Quartz is a manufactured stone product, which gives it the look of granite for a slightly lower price tag. That’s not to say that quartz is cheap – it can run anywhere from $50-$200 a square foot. The combination of materials in these countertops gives the finish a depth that no other counters have.

Pros: Because quartz countertops are man-made, they can come in a much wider range of colors than natural stone. It’s also the most durable counter on the market – unlike granite, it’s very resistant to chipping or cracking. Because it’s not a porous material it cleans easily, doesn’t stain, and doesn’t harbor bacteria.

Cons: Not many. Quartz is slightly less heat resistant than stone counters. Also, because of its contemporary look, your quartz counters could look dated in 10 years. And with the hefty price, you won’t want to be changing them up with the next trend. But if you really love them, they’ll probably last you a lifetime!

2. Concrete

Concrete countertops

Concrete is an up-and-comer in the countertop world, probably because they can be colored and stained to fit with any space – often in beautiful, artistic patterns. They are truly one-of-a-kind, which is one of the reasons why they’ve become so popular. Depending on the intricacy of your design, they can range from $75-$150 a square foot, making this option on the higher end of the scale.

Pros: Concrete is tough! It can withstand just about anything, which is why we use it to construct our buildings. A concrete countertop is both scratch-resistant and heat-resistant. It’s also being called the more eco-friendly choice, which is an important consideration for many homeowners.

Cons: The maintenance. Although concrete is tough, it must be sealed every few years to stay that way. If it’s not sealed correctly, it becomes very susceptible to chipping, cracking, and staining. This can be a headache for some, and also add a lifetime of additional costs.

3. Tile

A kitchen with tile countertops

Tile has been around forever – it’s a classic design material that isn’t likely to ever go out of style. It’s also relatively low cost. Depending on the type of tile you choose and the intricacy of the work, they can run anywhere between $2-$150 a square foot. When going with tile, stick to quality ceramics and porcelains with a narrow, dark grout for maximum durability.

Pros:  Tile is easy to clean, and heat and water resistant. You can also get tiles in many varieties, and lay them in many different ways (such as mosaic), creating a personalized look.

Cons: Tile produces an uneven surface, which can be frustrating when you’re using it to prepare meals. It’s also not a very durable option. Tile chips and cracks easily. What’s worse, the grout in between the tiles can become discolored and wear away.

4. Laminate

A kitchen with laminate counters

Laminate countertops are the go-to for the budget conscious renovator. They’re usually priced somewhere between $10-$60 a square foot. These days they come in a huge variety of colors and patterns, making them able to fit into any space. It’s a great low-cost option.

Pros: Apart from budgetary benefits, laminate counters are very easy to install, and are resistant to stains and water. They’re also incredibly low maintenance.

Cons: As I mentioned in the intro paragraph, laminate countertops are not desirable to a buyer. That means that when you do sell, you won’t have that dream kitchen they’re all looking for. They’re also not heat resistant, and they can crack and scratch.

5. Stainless steel

A home kitchen with stainless steel countertops

This option has always been a favorite in industrial kitchens, but lately we’re starting to see stainless steel counters in ultra modern home kitchens as well. It will cost you, however. Stainless steel countertops start on average at $100 a square foot, and can run up to $300.

Pros: There’s a reason busy restaurants choose this material. It’s incredibly durable, so easy to clean, and stain and heat resistant. Also, its shiny surface is great for reflecting light, which is always a plus in the kitchen, when shadows can make it difficult to prepare food.

Cons: Even though it’s easy to clean, it dirties very easily too – you might be forever wiping fingerprints from your counters! It can also nick and scratch, and its metal surface can be very noisy for a home setting.

6. Butcher block

A kitchen with butcher block counters

The wood grain in butcher block can bring a lot of warmth to the space. In addition, wood countertops  can be an eco-friendly option; it’s a renewable resource, and you can always choose native or local woods. This material can cost anywhere between $40-$150 a square foot. Personally, butcher block is my favorite countertop aesthetic. However when you look at the pros and cons, it may make more sense to keep the butcher block to a smaller area such as the island instead of the entire kitchen.

Pros: Unlike stone, wood is an incredibly forgiving material. Any delicate item dropped on it will probably survive. It’s an excellent surface for chopping and prepping food and, when cared for properly, can last a lifetime.

Cons: To keep your butcher block counters looking their best, they require regular maintenance and sealing. Wood can be easily damaged by burns, dents, spills and scratches. Then there’s the water to worry about. If the counter is installed around the sink and not properly sealed, it can discolor and even develop rot and mould.

7. Granite

A kitchen with granite counters

Finally, back to our old friend granite. Granite countertops have been in vogue for nearly two decades now, and with good reason. They’re known as being the height of luxury, but depending on what you’re looking for, you can find granite countertops anywhere between $45-$400 a square foot. They also come in a wide variety of colors to match nearly any kitchen.

Pros: Granite is a very durable material – it’s resistant to scratching, staining, heat and water. Also, because most home buyers are looking for granite countertops, they will increase the resale value of your home.

Cons: Your granite counters will need to be resealed regularly. Although they are durable, they can chip or crack on impact.

Given all these wonderful options, which would you choose? Let us know in a comment!


March 20, 2014 12:00 am

Writing Tips: Get the Engine Rolling!

Perspiration? Inspiration? What gets your writing work accomplished??

Writers all need creativity, that spark of an idea that sets you on the path to writing something worthwhile. Yes. Inspiration is important. Unfortunately, you have to be able to get from the gem of an idea to the fully written text. That’s not so easy. That’s hard work.

How do you get through the agony of writing to the ecstasy of having written?

Here are some tried and true writing tips to help you through that hard graft.  Do you have some good tips to share? Let us know. We all want to share and hear.

1. Remember: Planning and Preparation are crucial parts of writing. Pre-write before you actually write.

You would not plan a dinner party without thinking about who to invite, considering if they will get on well together, then developing your menu carefully, and going out to buy the necessary ingredients. In the same way, don’t expect simply to be able to sit down in front of your computer, get hit with an idea out of the blue, and be able to start writing effectively.

Spend time in the pre-writing stage. Develop your ideas. Reflect on what you want to say. Once you have clarified this in your mind, you’ll be able to set the ideas down much more readily. Some of our best writing is done while relaxed in a hot bathtub!

2. Introduce some schedules into your daily writing.

We humans are creatures of habit. We like to be scheduled. That’s why we divide our lives into weeks, months, years. It’s why we recognize birthdays and anniversaries. It’s why we set up timetables. You don’t have to be crazily officious about it, but do establish a more or less regular daily writing schedule for yourself at whatever time of day suits you best. Then stick to your schedule even on days when the words just won’t come easily.  If 7am to 11am is your designated writing time, those four hours should find you sitting at your computer most days. Regular scheduling oils the wheels of creativity and turns your writing into a serious proposition.

3. Learn from Others. Read, Read, And Read Some More.

If you consider yourself a writer, you should also consider yourself (and be) an avid reader. Read your most beloved authors. Read them with a professional eye and ear. Read them as a writer. You have teachers all around you. Use them. Keep their books close at hand. Read them for stimulation and motivation. Why do you – enjoy, learn from, lose yourself in, respect – each author’s work? How can you learn from their styles to improve your own writing?

4. Don’t Worry About the Huge Task Ahead.

Do not get so concerned about the massive project you have undertaken that you cannot get started on it. Worry just about the next few steps. Nail Gaiman says it best in an article he wrote for the Guardian, “Write one word. Then write the next word.” What will you accomplish in today’s scheduled work? That’s enough to worry about for today.  After all, in a year of worrying about the next word, you’ll find you have worried through a whole book! Right?? Write!

5. Editing Works. Never Imagine that Your First Draft Will be Your Last Draft.

Write. Leave some time to allow yourself to fall out of love with what you have written. Go back. Read it again. Edit it.  Most good writers use this process. Stick with the process.

What gets your writing engine rolling?

Let us know some of your favorite writing tips and tricks in the comments!


An exotic destination wedding can add a touch of flair and passion to any wedding event. Rather than hosting the important occasion near their area of residence, many couples opt to hold their weddings in exotic location. These locations don’t just serve as beautiful backdrops for tying the knot; they also make the event magical and memorable.

destination wedding

Fiji’s Turtle Island

Fiji’s Turtle Isle offers couples a romantic ambiance within a serene beach setting. The 500-acre landmass can only allow 14 couples per time, which translates to an idealistic and peaceful background free from overcrowding. Weddings at this enchanting destination include customary Fijian attire, fresh flower bouquets for guests and a realistic Fijian choir if desired. The bride usually arrives on-scene with a hand sewn wedding raft, carried by a strong procession team who are also donned in traditional Fijian clothes.

Italy’s Romantic Cities

Whether you plan to host your wedding in Venice, Rome, Florence or Tuscany, the country offers love birds an exotic experience full of culture and natural beauty. Venice is a mysterious but vibrant town where one can catch a ride on ancient wedding gondolas. On the other hand, Tuscany is famous for its fine winery and pristine fresh grape vineyards. Tuscany is also home to ancient regal estates that couples can visit at their own convenient time; these include Villa Chianti and Mona Lisa Estate.

Germany’s Castles

Germany is a beautiful country with hundreds of antiquity castles dotting its landscape, from Heidelberg Castle to the majestic Neuschwanstein Castle and enigmatic Mespelbrunn. Though it may be expensive to rent space in one of the fortresses, you can do so at adjacent patios with nice backdrops of your favourite castle. After the event, you can explore Germany’s historical museums, ski slopes and the beautiful countryside scenery.

Switzerland’s Mountains

Whether the wedding occasion is held during winter or summer season, the magnificent Swiss Alps can offer a grandiose and spectacular backdrop to any outdoor or indoor wedding. During winter the hillside is usually snow-capped with endless opportunities for tobogganing and skiing. Summer weddings also feature majestic mountains that are usually covered in green lush forests and outdoor opportunities for sightseeing, hiking and swimming.

Jamaica beach weddings

This gorgeous Caribbean island serves as a scenic setting for those who want to enjoy cool beach breezes, white sandy surroundings and all-inclusive seashore resorts that can also serve as perfect honeymoon spots. The most romantic resort areas include Montego Bay, South Coas, Port Antonia and Ocho Rios.

Bali Island

Bali is a small tropical island found just off the coast of Indonesia, the place is characterized by lush tropical forests and miles of unspoiled beaches that newlyweds would find inspiring. Couples also have a choice of luxurious villas to choose from including the Balinese traditional villas found along Kerobokan road. This villa spreads down to the expansive rice fields offering guests a quiet and tranquil atmosphere.

Malaysia! Truly Asia

This sultry South Asian country is an enticing destination for many couples; one of its best places is Langkawi archipelago on the shores of Andaman Sea. It boasts 91 luxury villas and pavilions with indigenous architectural sets amidst remodeled beachfront gardens. Malaysia samples the best of Indian, Asian and Arabic cultures.

Hawaii

Of course the list cannot be over without mentioning Hawaii. This US Island is characterized by the fresh, floral air that energizes visitors including the warm tranquil waters that can revitalize any wedding event. When planning to visit Hawaii, remember to get a visa for USA from their official embassy in your country!


2014 spring style is going to FUN! Well, that is if you like florals, neon, metallics, pastels, geometric prints, mesh, full skirts, sweatshirts, white clothing, black clothing, clothing that is both black and white… the list really does go on and on.

With such a wide array of trends hitting the streets in the coming months you’re sure to find one or two that suit your tastes. But why not move a little out of your comfort zone and try some of the more daring trends?

Need some styling tips for the wackiest of the bunch? We’re on it.

1. Florals AND neon. Yeah, we went there.

2014 Spring Style Essentials

 get the look

2. A touch of mesh… because it’s only fair to give it a chance.

2014 Spring Style Essentials

 get the look

3. Full skirt + pastel. Your inner Disney princess has been waiting for this moment.

2014 Spring Style Essentials

get the look

Looking for more? Check out this video from our Style Mentor and YouTube Correspondent Tylar! She’s dishing on all her 2014 spring style essentials:

Do you have a flair for styling the latest trends? Check out QC STYLE ACADEMY to learn how you can put your flare for fashion to use!


Creative writing, we all know, requires a bit more than creativity to design and invent characters that are three-dimensional and anything but transient. Though it often seems like work, proper drafting and creating of these characters can be, and should be, an adventure worth the daily grind. To help you in this venture, here are a few foolproof ways to flesh out your characters and write a story that everyone will want to read:

1. Figure out the role each character plays in your piece.

Imagine you are a journalist about to interview someone for a story. To do so, you must know, ahead of time, some outline of how this person will help shape your story. Do they exist as a firsthand witness to an event or are they the victim or principal part of the story? Ask yourself what makes each of your characters important to the story and what part they have to play. This basic information will shape the remainder of your exercises.

CHARACTERS

2. Ask questions of your characters.

You’ve already narrowed down their position in your piece. Now you need to investigate who they are as people. Your object should be to understand not only their history, but how they think and interact with themselves and others. Are they introverted? Where did they go to high school? How do they decorate their bedroom? Think of it, almost, as creating a social media profile for your character. What would this person share about his/her life? How do they react to being in their hometown after a long absence?

Ask them the questions and pretend they are talking to you. That’s right. Have a conversation with your fictional characters. Doing so will allow you to better understand how they respond to the people around them. There are a number of great questionnaires online which can help with the process.

3. Develop your characters through exercises.

Before even beginning to write your story, take time to develop your characters through a variety of exercises. These should be more than simply asking questions. Now is the time to find out how they react to various situations by putting them through some extreme circumstances. How would your main character react to the unexpected death of a loved one? Have each of your characters speak about the one thing they are most passionate about. What do they know of the subject and how do they know it? Create these fictional pieces outside of your main transcript, and you’ll find that writing the actual thing becomes quite a bit easier.

Writing solid, believable characters in fictional works is incredibly important. If you want your story to last, be believable and worth repeating, your characters cannot be stagnant. By putting together these exercises and taking the time to investigate your characters, you’ll be providing your reader with characters they can relate to and view as real people.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and designer who loves learning and sharing new techniques for improving the quality of your writing. Get in touch by following @adrienneerin on Twitter or checking out her design blog.


March 13, 2014 12:00 am

Make Your Design Eco Friendly

eco friendly

For most of us, saying it’s been a long winter is an understatement.  I can’t believe it’s already March, and I can’t wait for spring to finally show itself and for us to get a glimpse of summer!

With spring on the horizon, many of us are thinking of spring cleaning and sprucing up our homes (or a single room therein) with new colors, themes, or even brand new furniture. Here at QC, we try to be green. So with that in mind, here are a few of our favorite eco-friendly pieces of furniture.

Use Reclaimed Wood

This is a trend that can add so much character to any room.  Reclaimed wood pieces come from old buildings, driftwood, or even from trees that have been damaged by invasive insects.  Carpenters transform these pieces into beautiful tables, bookshelves, chairs, accent furniture, or even entire bedroom sets.  The best part? Each piece is 100% unique!

There are many companies out there that sell reclaimed wood furniture. A quick Google search will leave you with tons of options. You can also check out etsy shops for local vendors who create and sell their own masterpieces.

Go Organic

Many sofas and mattresses are made of synthetic products that are extremely harmful to the environment.  With a little research, you can find furniture that is made of organic fabrics such as cotton, wool or organic latex.

If going 100% organic isn’t an option (it can be a little pricey, after all), you can at least stay away from the most environmentally damaging (and toxic!) materials, like PBDE’s, PFCs (Teflon), or formaldehyde, to name a few.

Finish it off yourself

The best way to avoid furniture that contains toxic chemicals is to purchase unfinished pieces to stail and/or paint on your own.  If you purchase wood, glass, or metal furniture that is unfinished, you basically have a blank canvas to use your own environmentally friendly paints or stains and truly make it a unique piece that reflects your (or your clients’) personality!

Keep it Local

When you purchase a piece from a box store, odds are it’s been on a boat, a plane, a truck… probably from some place far, far away.  Why not purchase from a local artisan instead!  Not only will you help the environment by reducing on transportation, you’ll also help support your local community!  Spring is usually a time for local craft fairs, so grab your local newspaper and see what’s going on this weekend.

More and more people are looking for eco-friendly alternatives today, and whether you’re a professional or simply a decorating guru, knowing the available options is always a plus!  What methods do you use to make sure your choices are environmentally friendly? Let us know in a comment!

Interested in Interior Redesign as a career? We’ve got a course for that.  Check out our course outline or request a free brochure for more information!


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