Learning to Grow

A blog by Shalon Sims about creative writing, literacy, education and psychology

Using comics to teach literacy

Diversity, Multimodality & Comics Teaching children’s literature using sequential visual narratives Part 1: How comics were squeezed out of my life Until recently, perhaps the last five years, I looked down on comics and visual narratives. As a young reader, I read Archie and some Wonderwoman; however, I didn’t relate to the male protagonists of most…
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Fear & Horror in Children’s Literature – A review of the truly scariest kids and YA books

Part 1: Lost in the Woods I am fascinated by the special kind of horror that can only be found in stories about and for children. Since the very first children’s books by Perrault and the Grimm brothers, and before that, in folktales and oral traditions, stories about children have so often been gruesome and…
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Let children read books for adults!

Was I alone in my quest for adult reading materials? Around the age of nine or ten I discovered Stephen King, and I would never go back to the Sweet Valley of children’s books ever again. I recall sneaking my mother’s horror and thriller books from her bedroom bookshelf, one at a time, and reading…
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What a Top New York Agent Wants: the element of surprise

Sitting down with Don Maass of the famous Donald Maass Literary Agency last week, I wasn’t all that nervous. Probably the lack of sleep and my impending major surgery scheduled for four days later had dulled my need for validation. Or maybe it was because I actually believe in the book I was pitching; I…
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When You Reach Me – Middle Grade Sci-fi Writing Craft Review

This review of When You Reach Me, a Newberry Award-winning novel by Rebecca Stead, is hopefully the first of a series on writing craft in middle grade science fiction. I’ll explore issues of writing craft, such as theme, tone, voice, plot, characterization, etc. in a few of my new favourite books. My aim is for…
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Plot your novel with MICE Quotient and Try/Fails

Learn how to use Orson Scott Card’s MICE Quotient along with Mary Robinette Kowal’s adaptation of this technique to include nesting codes and try/fails to successfully plot your novel.

How to solve plot problems with a simple self-questionnaire technique

In this article, you’ll learn a simple, yet powerful self-questionnaire technique to solve all your plot problems. If you’ve come here from Wattpad, you probably just want the Solving Plot Problems Template to use for your plot problem today. Especially in science fiction and fantasy, or in any longer story with a large number of elements or characters…
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Writing a Standalone with Series Potential – the magic words every agent wants to hear

Just got back from the Surrey International Writing Conference where I pitched my novel series successfully to three agents. Sounds great, right? Well, yes, it is, but there’s a big but. BUT, the agents have all basically made it clear that they want me to send them a standalone book “with series potential.” Not a…
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3 Reasons to Write Accountable Content On Your Blog

This article is an update of my February 2011 article, It’s Time for Accountable Content on Blogs. Since then, I have learned three solid reasons to write accountable blog content: Your readers will trust you more Your site will rank higher in search engines You will make more money In this article I’ll cover these…
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Cold Outside by the Italian Voice, Flickr

Getting Involved in the Writing Community

This article was written in 2010 and was updated in January, 2016. It covers the following: My experience with the local Vancouver writing community How online critiquing works Pros of online critiquing Cons of online critiquing Tips for using an online critique group successfully In October of 2010, I volunteered at two writing and reading…
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Plot Design & Story Structure: Joseph Campbell vs Christopher Vogler

In this article, I will discuss my process for developing plot and share  the incredible tools that I discovered to examine, critique and improve the plot of my novel. You might also want to download this Campbell & Vogler Plot Design Worksheet that will help you design your plot by examining if and how your story follows the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell…
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Books about Fiction Writing

 Books about Fiction Writing Writers Inc.: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning. 1996. By Patrick Sebranek, et al. This Craft of Verse. 2000. By Jorge Luis Borges. The Writing Life. 1989. By Annie Dillard The Art of Fiction. 1991. By John Gardner On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. By Stephen King Bird by…
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How the Inner Critic and Creative Anxiety Cause Writer’s Block

Writing blocks and the inner critic In my writing group we shared our experiences with the inner critic and how it blocks our writing and creativity. In preparation for the meeting, I researched about this topic and found some books on this topic by Eric Maisel. In this essay I will present what Eric Maisel calls…
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'Writing' by jjpacres on Flickr

Create your own personal writing style guide

In this post I’ll give you a free style guide template to work with, and I’ll cover the following: What is a style guide? Why create a personal style guide? How to create a style guide. In university we learn about style guides such as MLA and APA, which are so confusing that you practically…
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What is Social Media and How is it Changing our Lives?

This article explores the extraordinary phenomenon called social media and its influence on our lives. I will give you some definitions from relevant sources, as well as my own definition, and I will highlight examples of its influence on our day to day lives. One of the arguments I am making in this article is…
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