Author: Shalon

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

Canadian Indigenous Speculations

IntroductionIndigenous Speculations In this essay, I explore various Canadian Indigenous speculations, including the artwork of Sonny Assu, and science fiction of Cherie Dimaline, and Drew Hayden Taylor. Before I get into it, I’d like to acknowledge that…. I’m very grateful to live and work on the traditional, unceded and ancestral territory of the Musqueam I’ve…
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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 – Review of truly terrifying kids & 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 – a 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 Nesting Codes 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.

Growth Mindset: my journey with math

In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck (2006) recounts an experience that cemented her fixed mindset—a teacher in elementary school organised her entire class around IQ scores. She doesn’t mention exactly where she fit in among her peers, but it doesn’t matter. The point is that by lining up the students according to IQ, the teacher…
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How to solve plot problems with a simple self-questionnaire technique

In this article, you’ll learn a simple (takes only 30 minutes), yet powerful self-questionnaire technique to solve all your plot problems, and you can download the Solving Plot Problems Template free, no sign-up required. Especially in science fiction and fantasy, or in any longer story with a large number of elements or characters to keep track of, there…
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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 discuss my process for developing plot and share the incredible tools I discovered to examine, critique and improve the plot of my novel. Download this new and improved for 2021 Campbell vs. Vogler Plot Design Template that will help you design your plot by examining if and how your story follows the hero’s journey. Joseph Campbell and Christopher…
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Books about fiction writing

In this post, I’ve curated a list of my favourite books on writing craft.  I’ve split the list into two sections: one is for people who are just starting out in their creative writing, with great books to help you develop your muse and learn some important skills that all writers need. The second section…
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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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