Author: Shalon

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

Children want to read books for adults – Let Them!

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 of your plot problems. If you’ve come here from Wattpad, you probably just want the Solving Plot Problems Template that you can use for your own plot problem today. Especially in science fiction and fantasy, or in any longer story with a large number…
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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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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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A beautiful long sentence about long sentences – Long Sentence #2

Pico Iyer wrote a playful and eloquent article for the Los Angeles Times about his decision to write long sentences as a form of protest against our world’s obsession with speed. He explained that as a young journalist he had succumbed to the need for speed and crunched his writing into short soundbites, but as he…
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Fear: a Curse Upon Me

This is an essay about overcoming fear and anxiety using different techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The following topics are covered: What is Your Worst Possible Outcome? A Curse Upon Me: Fear My Journey with Fear Magical Thinking Facing the Worst Possible Outcome The Techniques: Decatastrophizing Finding the Good Further Reading What is Your…
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Cool Twitter Resources

Twitter Tips for Twitter Chicks This list of twitter resources and secondary applications will help you run your twitter effectively and with less effort: (Updated June 2011)