Friday, January 10, 2020

2020 Writing Projects

Every year, I like to list the projects I hope to do. More specifically, I like to list the writing projects. Some are very critical with deadlines, some are simply projects of interest.
  • Graduate Research Paper on Tea (aka my mini thesis) due ASAP
  • Update all CMS Level 1 workbooks & their translations
  • Create Level 2 and 3 workbooks
  • Leaflets/Booklets on various small subjects
  • edit current published works
  • add to all fanfics
 Among the Leaflets/Booklets:
  • Energy Work
  • Paganism 101
  • Exploring Elements
  • 8 Paths of Magic
  • Altars & Shrines
  • Ethics of Magic
  • Intro to Meditation
  • each Chakra
  • Deities by culture (goddesses AND gods)
 There are so many other projects that have aspects of writing to them that I also do: like websites, layout for an academic journal (Concordia University's graduate journal: Journal of Religions & Cultures), newsletters, ritual preparations, English lessons, prep for other courses and workshops, advertising for Scriven (Montreal Pen & Tea Show), and managing agendas and minutes for the board meetings at my daughter's preschool.

This year is the Year of the White Metal Rat, according to the Chinese calendar. It is supposed to be a year of great new projects, success, and prosperity. May it be so.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

October Inktober & NaNo Prep Month

What a mouthful for a title!

October is the month of letter writing. It is called Inktober for this, but is also for the inspired artists with their inked art.

October is the month before NaNoWroMo. It is NaNo Prep Month! That means preparing for the major November writing challenge of writing a novel of 50K words in the 30 days of November.

Montreallers can find our region on the NaNoWriMo website, but also find us at our Facebook Group.

NaNo Prep events can be found on the Facebook Group. Watch there for them, and for the notice about the Launch Party.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Kicking things off with the Children!

I am ready to get back to working life again! That means I will be hosting workshops and services for children and teens through Etudiants Savoir Faire.

This means that there will be an Open House and an opportunity to register for the workshops and for the Young Writers Program.

Check it out:


September is the start of NaNoWriMo Prep.

Since today is September 1st and today's prompt is Past/Future, I dedicate this post to this prompt as I am reviving past wondrous writing activities from the past and setting them up for the future. Huzzah!


Friday, July 5, 2019

Q & A from a Teacher in Hungary

So I was contacted by a teacher in Hungary asking me questions about NaNoWriMo and teaching the Young Writers' Program. Apparently it was almost unheard of there, and she wanted to know how I handled it here. Here are her questions and my answers.

1) Is the Young Writers Program (YWP) organized as an extracurricular activity or is it integrated into the classes? (If it is integrated: is it compulsory for students to participate?)

The YWP that I was running was set up as part of English Language tutoring and as an extracurricular program only because I am not a full time elementary/middle/high school teacher. But it is designed to be integrated into the classroom for English Language Arts. I adapted it to fit what I was doing and truncated some of the program to focus on more key elements of the program, so I can add in sections on: reading comprehension, spelling & vocabulary, and writing conventions (sentence structures, grammar, paragraphs, essays, letters, etc.).

2) How popular is the Young Writers Program there? How many students participate usually/did participate when you organized it?

While I was teaching in the tutoring organization, it was decently popular, though grew to be too expensive as an extracurricular program. People wanted to do this program for free with me as the teacher. I cannot work for free.

3) Do students write together? (If yes, how often?) Do they share their stories with each other? What kind activities do you organize for them for this project?

Students (I usually teach middle-school to high school grades 4 through 9) write parallel (so together but not in a group novel as co-authors) and as homework. Yes, they share sentences, paragraphs, scenes, etc. with their classmates for peer review. Later they exchange their novels with other students for peer editing after they have done their first round of self-editing. They spend September through November learning to create characters, describe objects and scenes, about plot, and a great many small parts that they later put together as their novel. Over the December holidays, they take a break and do reading of a novel or collection of stories in the same genre as the one they are writing. Then they spend January (not November) writing.

4) How do you motivate students during November?

No, November is too soon for them to write as many have much to learn first and often confidence to build before even trying to write. I write through November, but their official writing month is January.

5) What was the most challenging to you as a teacher/organizer?

There were a few challenges: Negotiating learning disabilities and inspiring/motivating students who have been told repeatedly that they are stupid or cannot do it; Finding volunteer editors and artists; convincing parents and teachers that YES, these kids struggling with writing can absolutely write a novel and it will change their lives to do so. By the way… it totally DID change their lives to do so. Their grades improved dramatically. The dyslexic students moved from being hardly able to read to reading at their grade level. And there are no words for the confidence that shone in the children’s eyes afterwards that was not there before.

6) What happens after November? (Eg. Do you and the students do anything with the novels?; Do you celebrate the progress?; Do you continue working on the stories/edits?; etc.)

They write in January not November. So after….
February is self-editing and finishing up the story. March is peer editing and cleaning up their work. They also learn about professional editors and artists and the publishing world. They spend a day interviewing possible professional editors and picking one to be the editor of the anthology of all their stories. April, the professional editor works on all their stories and I put it together as a preliminary manuscript for publication. April they verify the edits and see the manuscript, as well as do their own art for their individual stories. They interview artists and pick one to do the cover for the anthology. May it gets completely finalized with biographies they write, an introduction from the editor and myself, and is sent off for publication. They then learn about writing promotional material, finding a location for a book launch, organizing a book launch, public speaking, formal greeting of people as hosts, and doing readings from selections of their stories. By the end of June, the books come back and they host their own book launch. They take home a few copies of a published anthology and the sales of extra books goes towards a children’s literacy charity.

7) What is your personal opinion about the Young Writers Program? (Do you think it aids or hinders students’ development? I’m asking this because many educators in my country believe students need to acquire a good command of the language first /university or PhD-level/ and only then can they start writing.)

My opinion is that if you make it fun, they will want to learn. If you create something with prestige, the prestige they feel will follow them for years and make amazing changes in their lives. I think it aids students, especially coupled with other language arts lessons that compliment what they are doing. Never under-estimate the power of giving a child the power to write what they want to express and celebrating the completion of a large project. This alone teaches a child that their ideas matter, that they can explore their creativity, that they are capable of completing a huge project especially when it is taken in small chunks. They learn not just writing skills, but reading and comprehension, time management, professional conduct, and what it is like to be in a position of power. They learn teamwork as well. They learn to celebrate their accomplishments and face their challenges constructively. They also learn to give back to their community and help others. It is incredibly empowering from end to end… even when you see them frustrated and challenged at the beginning. (they read pep talks from authors and meet some local authors and learn about the challenges and how to get through them)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Writing Life...

As a student and teacher, I cannot escape (not that I would want to) all the writing I must do. I write evaluations. I write academic papers and presentations. I teach about writing. I write fanfiction for the fun of it. I explore the fin of writing with fountain pens. On occasion, I write poetry.

An average week looks like this for me:
- teaching and hosting discussions or rituals on the weekend
- crafting in preparation for a kids fun learning and writing program
- takes a class on Material Culture in Religion
- writing weekly papers for that class
- researching and writing a larger paper for that class
- working on lesson plans and evaluating corporate executives to whom I teach ESL (English as a Second Language)
- writing about 2-5k words in various novels and fanfiction stories I am working on
- practicing with my fountain pens to improve my penmanship... and because it is fun
- TAing (being a Teaching Assistant) a course on Cults & NRMs (New Religious Movements)

This particular week is full of all sorts of things:
- Writing a presentation on Sand Mandalas as Material Culture in Tibetan Buddhism
- Correcting exams for the ESL class
- Correcting essays for Cults & NRMs class
- planning a discussion about religious inclusion for Sunday
- transcribing 3 handwritten chapters for one novel
- hopefully writing a chapter for a neglected novel

In all of this, I am enjoying teaching my daughter to love writing with a fountain pen as well. Below are the pictures of my daughter (2 1/2 years old with a quill) and her little art work, some poetry or affirmations, and an example of the MANY pages handwritten of a chapter that needs transcribing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


This is a little like NaNoWriMo and was inspired by it. This happens in February and is a perfect way to beat the winter blues. Celebrate the old tradition of handwriting and write a letter each day of the month of February. It can be to anyone. Or to any of those helpfully on the InCoWriMo address book.

Not sure what to write or how? Visit the website for advice. Or visit Goulet Pens' blog for a list of ideas. It can be a formal letter, a note, a car, or a postcard. For extra fun, try writing with a fountain pen! Or even more exciting... go seriously olde skool... write by candlelight with a quill.

I promise to post a photo of my first letter on February 1st. See you then!!