Posts Tagged ‘writing’

May 1, 2014 12:00 am

The Case of the Missing library


Booklovers are facing some new facts of life.

It’s not breaking news, Virginia, but the printed book may well be on the way out, replaced by its oh so efficient e-book cousin.

How do you feel about this transition? Is it inevitable? People who love the feel, the heft and the artistry of the printed book mourn the process. E-book lovers on the other hand, talk disparagingly about, “dead tree books” and explain that all change is in the name of progress.

Will libraries of the future be completely digital? Well, probably yes. Even the most rare editions of antique books can even now be easily viewed free on Google Books.

Yet libraries remain deep in our consciousness as beautiful and satisfying places. Perhaps in the future we will think of them as cathedrals to be visited and enjoyed just like other ancient monuments.

Some of the most beautiful recent paper books are devoted to detailing the loveliest libraries in the world.

In their, “The Library: A World History” author James W P Campbell and architectural photographer Will Pryce spent three years together travelling the world and photographing these monuments to the written word. Their book is a sumptuous love letter to the library.

Jacques Bossier and photographer Guillaume de Laubier pulled no punches with their title. “The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World,” gives the reader magnificent photographs of what the authors consider are the 20 most beautiful libraries in the whole world.

Looking for inspiration when writing? Perhaps you will find it in some of the wonderful interiors shown in these books.


January 10, 2014 8:45 am

Writing Tips: Write What You Know

Write what you know. Sound familiar? If you’ve ever taken a writing course, it’s probably one of the first lessons you learned. But what does it really mean? And how do you inject “what you know” into each and every piece of writing so that your stories ring true for your readers? Here are a few tips to get you started.

write what you know

Don’t stick to the truth

You’re still writing fiction, after all. A lot of new writers get nervous they haven’t had enough life experiences to write an interesting story. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Writing what you know doesn’t mean you have to only write about exciting life experiences. That’s where imagination comes in!

In fact, focusing on personal experience can be harmful to your writing. It runs the risk of turning your story into a diary – and reading someone else’s diary is, well, weird. And usually more boring than you would think. When you try to stick only to the truth, you tend to forget about the storytelling. I had one writing teacher who couldn’t write about a life event for at least 10 years; that’s how long it took him to get the necessary distance to write about the event more objectively.

What do you know?

Here’s a quick list of some things you might know about that could make for great literature:

  • Your job. Why not pull a Stephen King and write a novel about a writer writing a novel?
  • Your city
  • Your quirky neighbor
  • Your parents
  • Your hobbies
  • Your emotions
  • Your fears

You have inside information on some of these areas that no one else does. It’s those little details that will push your readers to suspend their disbelief and truly lose themselves in your story.

Focus on emotion

Pay extra attention to the last two on the above list: Your emotions and your fears. Take some time to explore what you really think, feel, hope, and desire. Be objective! When you begin to understand those emotions, you can start giving them to your characters. After all, it’s emotion that makes a story funny, sad, dramatic, or exciting. It’s also your best resource – use it!

Of course, some fabulous works of fiction are based on pure imagination. In writing, there’s an exception to every rule! As a writer, it is your prerogative to decide what to make up out of thin air, and what to take from your reality. Have fun!


September 21, 2013 8:00 am

How to Improve Your Writing Skills

Woman works on improving her writing skills by putting pen to paper

In this day and age, everyone needs to be able to write clearly and communicate concisely – regardless of your career field. When you’re an author, it’s your job to write. That makes having the ability to write effectively and efficiently even more important. In this post, we’ll explore how to improve your writing skills so you can say what you mean faster and better, and become an all-around better communicator.

When you’re looking to become a better writer, one of the best ways to spend your time is actually reading. Reading books at different levels of difficulty will challenge you to refresh your vocabulary and become familiar with words you may not currently use. A good tactic for testing your abilities is to choose a message and try to write it at least five different ways. Adding more words to your lexicon, and doing so on a regular basis, will allow you to get better faster.

Another way to improve your writing skills? Improve your speaking skills. When someone’s reading your writing, you want them to be able to hear a voice in their head saying the words. What better way to perfect your tone and explanation skills than to actually speak to another person! Practice this by explaining different concepts, talking about the news, or debating a subject with someone else. This will also allow you to pull from your expanding vocabulary – the one you’re building while you read.

Write a page a day. Try to write about different topics each day to practice your range. Doing this will help you be able to write about anything – regardless of your knowledge base. It will also allow you practice different tones, devices, and styles. When writing in a professional setting, you’ll want to employ an informative and concise tone. When writing for entertainment, you’ll want to be engaging and sweep your readers up, away, and into your story.

Lastly, improve your writing with a friend. Even if it’s a pen pal (or the digital version of one), have someone else look over your writing and give you constructive criticism. If you consistently use the same handful of words or fall victim to run-on sentences a little too often, a second pair of eyes will be much more effective at catching your faults than you will be. We write as we’re used to writing, so to break a bad habit you need someone to bring it to your attention in the first place.

Looking to brush up on your writing skills? Visit for more information on our at-home courses



ways to relax

Writer’s block is a nasty thing, and can cause some serious emotional and mental strain – particularly if you write for a living or are “so close” to finishing a big project. Our number one recommendation for someone experiencing writer’s block is to relax, unwind, and let the ideas come to you for a change. When you find yourself idea-blocked, often thinking even more about it only makes it worse and can stress you out even further. But, just how do you get yourself to stop thinking about how you can’t think of anything? Read on to discover our favorite ways to relax. We promise, it’s easy when you don’t try!

Soak the Stress Away

An oldie but a goody, a warm bubble bath does wonders for the mind and body. Combine a relaxing bath with a little aromatherapy or your favorite scented candle and soak away your stress. A warm bath will help your muscles relax, skin feel more hydrated, mind become freer, and your overall mood to improve. If you’ve had an especially trying day, hop into a bath before bed and you’ll be sure to fall asleep the moment your head hits the pillow!

Take a Hike

Walking for at least 30 minutes and taking in the scenery is a fabulous way to get your mind off work. If you love nature, head to a park or take a stroll along the water. If you’re more of a lively city person, take a stroll through downtown and soak in the culture. Whatever you do, concentrate on what you’re seeing around you and try to be in-the-now as opposed to leaving your mind back at your desk.

Snap some Photos

Many of us find taking photos to be very relaxing and inspirational. You’ll be concentrating on getting a good shot and finding new things to photograph and won’t have time to stress about the project you’ve taken a break from. If you’re looking for a fascinating new subject to shoot, consider visiting a local festival, park, or heading into a nearby city and snapping portraits of interesting people. You never know what might inspire you and get you writing again!

Music for the Mind

Music is sort of a cure-all in our opinion. When you’re feeling sad, a happy song can get you back up and smiling. When you’re feeling tired, a soft song can rock you right to sleep. Whatever your musical preference, put on some music and concentrate on the notes, lyrics, and how the song makes you feel. If you’re able, leave the house and see a live performance once in a while. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll see, and might find that ideas start flowing in once again.

Trip to the Theater

As a story teller, it be really nice to take a break and have a story told to you. So, go see a movie! Head to your local theater, alone or with a friend, and pick a movie to watch. Being in a theater full of people and watching a movie will make you forget about your writer’s block. Even if you end up not liking the movie, you might find inspiration in one of the characters or something you see on the screen. Oh, and popcorn is a must!

Hang With a Furry Friend

There’s a reason why many people have therapy pets – furry friends calm us down. Set aside some time and go for a walk with your dog, give your cat a massage, or visit a friend with an animal. Being around a pet and seeing how happy they are to have you there will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Who doesn’t love to be loved?!

What’s your favorite way to unwind and escape writer’s block? Let me know in a comment!


June 13, 2013 8:00 am

Submit a Writing Sample to Winghill

Winghill Writing School offers seven comprehensive writing courses. That’s quite a lot of courses, particularly if you’re not sure which is right for you. That’s why our director, Alex Myers, regularly accepts writing sample submissions and replies with her expert course advice. She’ll help you decide which course is best suited to your current skill level and goals. Interested in learning how to submit a writing sample to Winghill? Read on.

Submit a Writing Sample to Winghill

Before you submit, it’s a good idea to understand the seven different offerings from Winghill. They are:

1. Creative Writing

The Creative Writing course is the perfect choice for anyone looking to explore different writing styles, lengths, and who want a fully customized learning experience. Your personal tutor – a published author – will provide you with guidance and individualized assignments throughout your course.

2. Novel Writing

The Novel Writing course is an excellent choice for anyone who has a story in mind and wants help with character development, plot, formatting, and anything else novel-related. If you choose this course, your goal should be to finish the course with a novel ready to be published.

3. Romance Writing

This one’s pretty clear! If you’re interested in writing romance stories, novels, or anything else – this is the course for you.

4. Children’s Writing

The Children’s Writing course is designed for the student looking to become a children’s author. Whether you want to focus on creating text for a picture book or want to write a short story for kids, this course will help you achieve your goals.

5. Memoir Writing

The Memoir Writing course offers you the chance to either a) write a memoir or b) write a family history piece. Your tutor will be able to customize your experience and assignments to suit your goals and help you retell the tales you most want told.

6. Writing for Business

The Business Writing course is for those looking to improve their technical and business writing skills.

7. Screenwriting

The Screenwriting course is the newest addition to the Winghill course lineup and will help you prepare a story to pitch for the big screen.


If you’d like help deciding which course is for you, click here to submit a writing sample now.




May 12, 2013 11:21 am

Let’s Tell Campfire Stories Today

I might be at work today at the QC head office, but I’ve got to admit, my heart is far away at a remote cottage on a lake. That’s got me thinking about my favorite cottage game – eating roasted marshmallows and telling spooky campfire stories. Do you want to help me out? I’ll get started with the first few sentences, and you take it from there. Continue the story in the comment boxes below, and get as creative as you like!

The sun had just dipped below the mountains on the horizon. Immediately, the cabin began to darken and cool down. Violet lit a fire in the wood stove and pulled a blanket around her shoulders as she waited for warmth to chase away the chill from the old rooms. She also waited for Daniel, who said he would make the drive up to meet her that afternoon. Where could he be?

What happens next?


We’ve all been there. You just finished an amazing novel – you know, one of those that you’re almost sad to be done with because you’re going to miss the characters so much. Now you’re wondering…”what should I read next?” You head out to your local bookstore, hoping to follow up this great read with something that can speak to you just as well. You browse through endless spines, getting more and more overwhelmed. Somehow, nothing seems quite right.

Some of us are lucky enough to have a good group of reading friends to suggest our next read. But our friends don’t always share the same taste as we do – and sometimes it can be really awkward when you don’t like one of their suggested titles.

That’s why when I came upon this website, I knew that I just had to share it with you. The site is called What Should I Read Next ( You type in the last book you read, and based on that, it generates a list of suggested titles that you’ll probably enjoy too. Here’s what my suggested readings were:

I loved reading The Shadow of The Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (see the QC review here!). I just finished it this morning, and I really need to follow it up with something good. With this list, I’m going to do some research on the titles to help me pick the book that’s right for me.

The best part of What Should I Read Next is that it links to the Amazon page where you can purchase the book online, right away. Check it out, and make a reading list of your own!

April 5, 2013 10:00 am

The Shadow of the Wind Book Review

The Shadow of the Wind, written by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon, is an addictive modern gothic novel you must read. Read on for a brief review of The Shadow of the Wind. The moment I started reading it, I knew I would not be able to put it down until I finished. The author introduces you to so many different characters, and each character introduces a whole new sub plot to the story. It’s an intricately-woven, gripping read that anyone in search of a great evening read will positively love.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon also wrote two accompanying books called The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven. Technically, the three books form a trilogy, but you don’t actually have to read them in order to stay on board with the story. I first learned of the books from British beauty and lifestyle blogger Katie Snooks and have since recommended the trilogy to a dozen of coworkers, friends, and family members.

The trilogy is available at Chapters Indigo, Barnes & Noble, and nearly anywhere books are sold. You can also download at least the first book on your eBook reader. Personally, I read through the first two books in paperback and the third book in hardcover.

Have you read any books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon? Do you have any suggestions as to what book I should read next? Help me out, wonderful readers!




March 28, 2013 3:50 pm

The Great Gatsby Movie Summer 2013

The Great Gatsby, the famous novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, has been adapted for the silver screen and is set to hit theatres on May 10, 2013 and will surely be the must-watch movie of summer 2013. The big-budget film adaptation of The Great Gatsby stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Isla Fisher, Cary Mulligan, Jason CLarke, Joel Edgerton, and Tobey Maguire. The film is set mainly in Long Island and New York City and features extravagant costumes, sets, and plenty of jewels and vintage cars. We think Carey Mulligan is the perfect choice to play Daisy and can’t wait to see how Leonardo DiCaprio fairs as the eccentric millionaire, Gatsby. They’re big shoes to fill, but we’re certain Leo’s up to the challenge.

If you’re unfamiliar with the book, it goes a little something like this:

Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living in Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle and quickly becomes a witness to Gatsby’s undying obsession and greatest tragedy.

We’re busy re-reading F. Scott Fitzerald’s book to prepare for the May release of the film and want to know… are you as excited as we are? Leave a comment and let us know if you’d rather the story be left to the book, how you feel about the actors chosen, and anything else Great Gatsby. We’d love to hear your thoughts! Watch the trailer below.


Other movies we can’t wait to see this summer are the movie adaptation of The Host and Tom Cruise’s Oblivion. We have a feeling we’ll be spending almost as much time in the theater as we will outside in the sunshine!


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