How to Tell a Story

8631214f-e8d3-40db-937d-c846b748b766Recently, at one of our NaNoWriMo group meetings, we talked about how to put together a story, and the art of the first line. While I spend a great deal of time with my young writers talking about elements of a story, and working specifically on first lines, I’ve never really done this with the adults.

But I came across this fabulous new book called, HOW TO TELL A STORY, by Daniel Nayeri, which is part book, part game…and now I want to use it everywhere! This book is used as a resource to allow children to learn how to construct a story using 20 interactive colour-coded blocks to help them along. Used in big groups or small, it’s a great way to get children of all ages to think about how stories work, and why they won’t work. I’m pretty sure our adults would have fun with this as an exercise as well.

You can see more about this interesting new teachable here:

Doesn’t this sound fun? I can’t wait to see what everyone writes!

Do You Have a Plan?

PLANI have written this blog since 2007. It’s a wonderful way for us to share information about our library, but also to connect our readers with fun or informative posts about all things bookish. (And not so bookish….we’ve had a lot of posts about Star Wars, apparently!)

I also have a personal blog, and write for another group blog, so you could say that blogging takes up a lot of my time. (Although I must admit, the last post in my personal blog was from—er, early October.)

Recently, we’ve had discussions with our adult writing group at the library about starting a blog, and what types of information we’d like to get out there to the public about writing at the Carleton Place Public Library. It’s in the beginning stages, really, without much of a plan yet, but I know that having a direction, and getting everyone on board with the same goals is going to make things a lot easier in the long run. Which made me very happy to see this informative post on By Regina regarding having a blog business plan.

A lot of the Regina’s plan involves making money, which is not the intention of our blog at all, but most of the advice is really, really good. And if you’re considering ways to make your personal blog even better, you could do a lot of good by trying to implement a few of the ideas.

My favourites?

  • Having a blog style guide to help you keep the look of your blog consistent and polished.
  • Tracking your monthly stats/analytics to see where you are generating traffic, and where things need to be improved. Stats can really tell you a lot about your content, and how you might manage slow spots.
  • Social promotion. We don’t do enough of this at the library, but promoting blog posts on other social media sites in a timely way, will bring in different readers.
  • Have a posting schedule.

There are plenty of great ideas here, but you can take what you like and mix and match. Also, if you followed a previous post about intentional ignorance, this might be too exhausting to work through. Even if you take one thing from this, it will improve your blogging greatly. Then….file it away and forget about it until you need it again.

Writing at the Library

NOVELYes, we’re going to write books again in November at the library! It’s a long, difficult process, so we’re getting ready starting with a workshop on Sept., 29th from 6-7pm to find out how.

We have an active adult writing group that has been meeting, learning, and challenging themselves for over a year now, and we’d love to have new members. Plan on coming to the meeting to see how to prepare for writing your first novel (or your 5th), and get to know some fantastic local writers who are working at their craft, just like you!

No registration required. We’ll see you at the meeting!

Sign up for Camp!

We’re getting ready to do it again…welcome aspiring writers to the library to participate in a month-long challenge to write a book in one month. April is all about Camp NaNoWriMo here, and we’re gearing up for some fun!

camp2We started doing this about one year ago, and it’s been a great year. Back then, we weren’t sure if anyone would show up, or how they would do, but we’ve had a dedicated writing group ever since. We meet up about once a month and discuss new projects, take part in challenges and plan for upcoming events.

Last year, during the first Camp NaNo attempt, we had about ten people of all ages take part. They wrote like crazy for the month of April….30 days….and several met the goal of 50,000 words, which is the length of a small book. Yay! After that, we worked on revision, talked about voice, and discussed plot, all in an attempt to further our writing chops. It’s been amazing to see these writers grow.

During the summer, many of them took part in a second run, trying their hand at a new book or revising the one they finished in April. We also gathered together a summer of young writers, and wrote many, many, many creative things. It was fantastic!

In November, a few of the writers took part in the more official National Novel Writing Month, and wrote a new book. Our youngest participant was a teen who won NaNo, and finished her second novel. How amazing, right?

Now, we’re doing it all again. We’d love to get new writers….anyone interested in giving it a try. You’ll have the rest of March to prepare an idea, work out some plot points or create some characters, and then you can join us on Tuesday, March 31st for the Camp NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party at the library, from 6-7pm.  We’ll learn the rules, make some promises, but mostly….we’ll gear up for a month of fun.

If you’ve never written a book, but have always wanted to try, why not join us? You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to try. There are no rules, and you don’t have to actually write on the library premises…..write wherever you like…at home, in a coffee shop, on the bus. But join us for the meetings, and sign up for the daily inspirational emails. We’d love to have you join!

If you’d like a bit more information, drop by the library, or give us a call at 257-2702. We’re writing in APRIL!


Voice Choice

Tonight, we’re offering up a fun writing workshop at the library, geared toward beginning or early writers, and those who might just want a bit of a boost to their writing. We’re covering the scary concept of “voice” tonight from 6-8pm, in our “VOICE CHOICE” workshop.

Voice Choice workshopNo registration is required, but this is geared toward mature writers, not children. Bring along a piece of your writing if you want some advice….we might have time at the end for a bit of a critique/help session.

Call us at 257-2702 for more information!

How To Finish a Book

safe_image.phpNeil Gaiman, author extraordinaire, gives some advice to a fan who would also like to write a book, but is having trouble getting things down on paper. I thought this was appropriate, consider we’ve had so many writers working on books in our library this past year. If only they’d known this before!

Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.

I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it.


To find out the easier way of doing things, click this link to visit the article on his Tumblr page.

What did you think of his advice? Frankly, it’s brilliant.

Best Lines



While we had a lot of fun during our Young Writers group meetings this past November, but we also wrote lots, too! And on our last day, some of the writers gave me copies of their work so that I could share a few tidbits with our patrons.  Much of the work was funny and inspired, but we also had a few sad moments, and lots of murder! (I know…these kids liked to plan exciting murders of some of our best-created characters!)

So, I’d like to share a few lines from some of these fascinating stories with you now. Totally out of context.

She was never really good at math, and 8th grade math was HARD–really hard. So Kelley’s mom tried to motivate Kelly by saying, “Kelly, if you fail your math test, I won’t let you go to the dance!” –-Olivia

(Of course, Kelley really wanted to go to the dance, so she stole the answers to the math test. But she did wear a fabulous dress to the dance!)


Dec. 18th, 1989…about 10 minutes later.  So, basically Santa, after he heard that I rejected him, turned to THE DARK SIDE! So, no more Christmas! — Laura

(Turns out, there are some pretty nasty reindeer who don’t like Santa. And Santa can’t handle it!)


Hi, my name is G.G.R.O.B.A.R. This is how you say it—Grow-Bar. It stands for “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. And you know what? I feel really bad! I didn’t mean to run her over, but I’m blind. I run into stuff. Yes, it’s a big problem.”–Teegan

(There were quite a few references in here to drinking egg nog, and how stressful life can be until egg nog. Hmmmm…sounds like good egg nog to me!)


Once upon a time, in the old North Pole, there lived a reindeer. She had something all the other reindeer didn’t have.  She had rainbow magic!–Darwin

(Which turned out to be a good thing, because this reindeer also had a serious case of incontinence! )


I have a problem with cars.–Willow

(This reindeer happened to be very afraid of cars. Poor thing.)


I dream about flying through the sky with Rudolph. Isn’t he the cutest?–Cadence

(Yes, this reindeer had a mad crush on the one with the red nose. #reindeerproblems)


Lots of fun with these kids. We hope to have them back in 2015 to do lots more writing. Maybe without so many furry animals involved.