Monthly Archives: October 2015

Free Stuff for Writers

freeEverybody loves a bargain – even writers! Whether you are a seasoned author or a newbie, free stuff is always a bargain. There are sites that offer free software to allow you to write your novel or create an ebook; to nab photos for your blog (as I do); sites that allow you to manipulate and edit the images; and places where you can set up your blog for free.

See below for a list of free resources for creative writers:

  1. Sometimes, we need a kick in the creativity department and this site never lets me down. I’ve used this site many times for umpteen reasons. It has so much to offer. Check it out when you are at a loss for names – whether for a character, a location, real names, fantasy names to people your worlds, book titles, or even pop culture. Mix and match to suit your needs. It’s come in very handy for me.
  2. This free writing software is similar to Scrivener. Like Scrivener it helps you to organize your work and your chapters. You can download it free here.
  3. WordPress is a blogging software that is free. There are a huge amount of free themes that can be downloaded and used to create your own website in a couple of hours – even less time, if you have even a little bit of computer savvy. I use it and their famous 10 or 15 minute install works – took me about 30 minutes the first time, but it works.
  4. Of course, once you have a blog you will need to fill it with copy and photos. Photos help catch a reader’s eye and is extremely important. Here are some great photos sites where you can get images for free.
  5. Once you have a website and start offering your books for people to buy, you will probably need to get PayPal – it’s a free and easy way to set up an account that allows you to get paid from anywhere  and let’s you purchase items as well pay. There is a transaction fee, but it’s minimal and there are other tools you might want to use as well. Check it out.
  6. PhotoFiltre – Use this free image editor to doctor some of the free images that you select from the sites listed above. It’s relatively easy to use. All you need is a bit of practice.
  7. One easy way to  become a good writer is to read the classics and discover what gives these books their longevity and appeal.  Here’s an easy way to do so without having to buy every one of them. Planetebook allows you to download these classics free. Take advantage of them.
  8. Project Gutenberg (what a great name for a website catering to books, and free ones at that) also offers an incredibly large selection of free books to choose from.  Read and enjoy.

Let me know of any free stuff that works for you.


2016 Creative Writing Classes at BEYOND-THE-LAMPPOST

Tues. afternoons January 12 – March 29 in Oakville “Shaping Your Story

Wed. afternoons January 13 – March 30  in Oakville “Get Your Story Finished

Thurs. afternoons January 14 – March 3  in Oakville “Almost There: Revising & Rewriting Your Manuscript




Writing Success Story

Beyond-the-Lamppost Classes First Writing Success story!

Congratulations go out to Ariffa Hossein Ariffa.2on her writing success. Her short story The Red Chair has just been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul – Think Possible.

See page 32 in the book for Ariffa’s poignant short story. Well done, Ariffa and we wish you all the best.


How to Achieve Writing Success in Your Stories

It may not seem like it, but there is a well-documented route to writing success: hard work.

When you read a story that draws you in, it seems like such a simple act. What the reader does not know (and should not know) is the time, effort and grunt work that has been put into crafting the piece. Just like an Olympic gymnast makes a back walk-over look easy, a good writer makes their story seem effortless. And that’s the way it should be.

But writing a story doesn’t come easy for most of us. We agonize over the right word; we worry about whether our characters are alive and vibrant; whether our plots and sub-plots make sense and most important of all – whether the story is interesting at all.

But that’s only one part of the equation. The other part is even harder. It’s about Writing a query and a synopsis,equation researching literary agents to find out who would be the best fit for our novel and finally the excruciating pain of waiting to hear from those agents we have sent our souls to.

Many writers fall off the creative path around this time simply because it becomes too difficult to accept rejection. Most agents phrase their rejections in a kind way. Here’s one rejection I received from one of the first middle grade novels I submitted. In hindsight, and after reading the work a couple of years later, I was appalled at my first chapter and how unpolished it seems now.

Dear Ms. Bell:

Thank you for your recent submission. We appreciate your interest in ___________________ Publishing.

It is obvious you have invested a considerable amount of time and effort into this project. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, we do not feel that we could be successful with your work. Please know that sometimes we must pass on well written, marketable projects simply because they do not suit our lists.

 Thank you again for sharing your submission with us, and we wish you the best of luck in placing your work elsewhere.

With best wishes,

Achieving writing success is not about being the best writer or writing the most interesting story of all time. Of course, these factors must be there  – and if you can’t write … well, your chances of being published are probably not very good. But there is one component that successful writers have that stands them in good stead and that is stick-to-it-ness.

What is your formula for writing success?


2016 Creative Writing Classes at Beyond-the-Lamppost begin:

Tues. afternoons January 12 – March 29 in Oakville “Shaping Your Story

Wed. afternoons January 13 – March 30 in Oakville “Get Your Story Finished

Thurs. afternoons January 14 – March 3 in Oakville “Almost there: Revising & Rewriting Your Manuscript


Writing Contest


Prize: $1,500 grand prize, $600 runner-up, $400 2nd runner-up
Entry fee: $35 Canadian entries; (includes a one-year subscription or extension)
Additional entry: $5 each piece
Max. word count: 6,000

Deadline: November 20, 2015


Grand Prize: $1,500 RUNNER-UP $600 2nd RUNNER-UP, $400 2nd
Entry fee: $35 Canadian entries; $40 US entries; $45 Int’l entries (includes a one-year subscription or extension)
Additional entry: $5 each piece
Max. word count: 6,000

Deadline: January 15, 2016





 This short story contest is for stories about the heart and must be identifiably Canadian. That means the story must elicit a strong emotion but can be of any genre. And if the story is written by a Canadian or located somewhere in Canada, or is about a Canadian, it qualifies.

Manuscripts have to be sent by mail so make sure they are post-marked prior to Dec. 31, 2015

 First Prize: $500

Second Prize: $150

Third Prize: $100

Open to: Canadians

Entry fee: $15 for one story (check website for more details)

 Deadline: December 31, 2015

 Send manuscript(s), along with the appropriate entry fee, to:

Short Story Competition

Red Tuque Books

Unit #6, 477 Martin Street

Penticton, BC V2A 5L2







Grand Prize: $6,000 + publication in Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and on + a 10-day writing residency at The Banff Centre

4 Runners-up Prizes: $1,000 each, courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts

WHAT: Submit your original, unpublished stories. The word count must be between 1200 and 1500 words. Please note that as of the 2016 CBC Short Story Prize, the rules regarding how we determine word count have been modified. Please visit our Rules and Regulations or our FAQ for details

 WHEN: Competition runs from September 1 to November 1

 WHO: All Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada

 HOW: Go to and click on the “submit” link. Check the same link for rules and regulations

.A fee of $25.00 (taxes included) for administration purposes is required for each entry.


Creative Writing

2016 Creative Writing Courses

Thanks for a great first year
and welcome to new and returning writers

2016 Creative Writing Courses

Tuesday afternoons January 12 – March 29
Creative Writing Course: “SHAPING YOUR STORY

12 weeks to strengthen your story arc. We’ll look at such elements as:

  • Your inciting incident
  • Crisis
  • Resolution

Tuesday afternoons 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in OAKVILLE
Fee: $160 for 12 sessions

To register, email

Wednesday afternoons January 13 – March 30
Creative Writing Course: “GET YOUR STORY FINISHED

  • 1500 words each week – the pressure is on (that’s good!)
  • What’s your hook?
  • Is your story captivating? Are your characters unique?
  • Pace and flow

Wednesday afternoons 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in OAKVILLE
Fee: $160 for 12 sessions

To register, email

Thursday afternoons January 14 – March 31

  • 1500 words each week
  • Critiqued and edited by your instructor and colleagues
  • Surprise yourself how quickly you will get through your manuscript

Wednesday afternoons 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. in OAKVILLE
Fee: $160 for 12 sessions

To register, email