“In 10 minutes, you can write 250 words. If you write just 250 words everyday for a year, you will have 80,000 words – that’s the length of the average Canadian novel.”

Sylvia Taylor on finding the time to write. Sylvia was a panelist at the “Getting Started, Getting Published” session of the 2012 North Shore Writer’s FestivalCheck out my post filled with more takeaways from the session.

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Top Vancouver bloggers share blogging tips

Even though I’ve been blogging on and off for four years now, I’m always interested to learn tips from other bloggers. So I was excited that the North Shore Writer’s Festival had a Secrets of Successful Bloggers panel made up of some of the city’s top bloggers:

Sean Cranbury – Books on the Radio

Rebecca Bollwitt – Miss604

Kelsey Dundon – The Anthology

Jeannette Ordas – Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Jenn Farrell – Canada Fancy (moderator)

Here are some of the great advice and stories they shared:

On Starting a Blog

Sean: I lost my job and wanted to go back to writing and books. About 3 to 4 months in, I realized that it wasn’t just about my voice and what I wanted to say… it was about my readers.

Rebecca: You have to be passionate about what you’re writing about since it’ll be easier to write topics and find weekly themes that way.

Jeannette: I liked food. Starting my blog encouraged me to explore more in the kitchen.

Kelsey: Getting comments from people who aren’t your mom is a big deal. I learned quite early to respond. Eventually it made me realize that I had a brand.

On Promoting your Blog

Sean: I do participation by engaging with other people on their blogs. You have to hustle to make connections. Share other people’s work on your Facebook page. Post relative information everywhere. Don’t give people the sense that you’re promoting or selling something.

Rebecca: My #1 referrer is Google, so I use keywords in posts and titles, but don’t overuse them.

Jeannette: I promote just by being engaged and being part of a community. When you leave a comment, make it an engaging one so you’re starting a conversation.

Kelsey: Put out content that your readers will share on your behalf. When it’s compelling and unique, your readers will hopefully fall in love with it and want to put it out to their communities.

On Engagement Outside your Blog

Kelsey: What drives traffic is being on Facebook and Twitter. It’s about having different touchpoints and finding new members of your audience. Play around with analytics and pay attention to who’s coming from where and why.

On Making Money Blogging

Rebecca: Don’t go in wanting to blog for the sake of making money. Some ways to do it are through Google Ads, paid content (I don’t do this), and Google Adsense.  If you’re fully committing to monetization, you can try image advertising, speaking opportunities, and side business referrals.

Jeannette: My blog works as a calling card that leads readers to my side business.

On Staying Motivated

Kelsey: Motivation is different from inspiration. Set deadlines and encourage interaction to slowly build that readership. For inspiration, keep bookmarks of sites you love. Look through magazines, go to events and art shows etc.

On the First Things to do When You Start a Blog

Kelsey: Choose a name based on what you ultimately want it to be and then brand yourself in that way.

Sean: You don’t start with the blog you’re going to have 6 months from now. Your blog will change as you learn.

In case you missed it, I also attended a really cool session at the festival all about writing and how to get published – it’s all here.

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Books from the North Shore Writer's Festival

On Saturday, April 21, the North Shore Writer’s Association held its annual North Shore Writer’s Festival. Having heard about this event for the first time from The Anthology, who was also due to speak in a blogging panel, I travelled to sunny West Vancouver to check it out.

The first session I went to was “Getting Started, Getting Published.” This panel was full of published authors, poets, and editors who gave some great insight into their writing process and what it takes to get published. The panelists were:

Fran Bourassa

Lynn Crymble

Bernice Lever

Sylvia Taylor

Gerhard Winkler

Karen Bower (moderator)

Some of the best advice given out:

On Writer’s Block

Sylvia: Cultivating writing friendships are very important. I stared at a blank screen everyday for a whole week when I was writing The Fisher Queen. So, I called up a writer friend and told her I was blocked. She told me to send her an e-mail everyday about what I was going to write about tomorrow. I did that for 3 months and my novel came out of that.

On Finding Your Writing Voice

Fran: My writing group does something called Word Whips. We’re given a writing prompt, 10 minutes to free write about it and then, we have to read it out. The premise is that there’s no time for your internal or external editor to go to work. It’s the best way to find your real voice because you don’t word process anything.

On Taking a Break and Losing your Groove

Karen: Always have a slush pile for your work. NEVER HIT DELETE. You never know when you’ll come back to needing that piece.

Sylvia: Ask yourself: What is this book/poem really about? Give yourself 5-10 minutes to write the answer to that question. I call this your Barf Draft, where you just let everything go, so you can come back to your work.

On Not Being an Island

Lynn: Write more. Share more. Join writing groups. Writing is a lonely thing, but when you come out of the cave with a piece of writing, you’ll have an immediate audience to help you with it.

Gerhard: It’s important for a writer to have someone give you honest feedback that isn’t a relative or a spouse.

On Getting Published

Fran: Getting published gives you the acknowledgement you need. It can be as simple as writing something for your local newspaper.

Sylvia: Share your work. Publisher’s like to know you’ve shared your work and put it out in the world for people to experience.

Lynn: I used the Writer’s Market to find publishing houses for my book. Be sure you know what you’re writing about [subject-wise] and send it to the appropriate editor.

Bernice: Go to readings and you’ll find editors and publishers are there.

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I consider the Stanley Cup Playoffs to be just as exciting as a season finale of Vampire Diaries. Or Community (holler Paintball 2).

Vancouver Canucks versus L.A. Kings Stanley Cup Playoff Game 1

After a year of waiting with bated breath, the Vancouver Canucks finally faced off in their first playoff game against the LA Kings last night. My friend Tony had a gathering at his place complete with a make your own pizza dinner. Our ingredients included Prego Tomato, Onion and Garlic sauce, red onions, spinach, parsley, ham, salami, spicy capicola, tomatoes, mushrooms, red and green peppers, jalapenos, and lots of marble cheese. Oh and beer. Tons of it, of course.

Pizza ingredients and New Castle beer

I love to cook, but cooking with friends, especially during playoff season, is definitely one of my favourite things to do.

Finished pizza with New Castle beer in the background

Especially when someone decides to toss our pizza ingredients together with some Tostitos and make some pretty bomb nachos.

Homemade nachos with all the fixings

And even moreso when my favourite brand of beer from the Philippines gets invited to the party.

Someone holding a bottle of San Miguel beer

As for Game 1, Round 1? It ended with a 4-2 loss to the Kings. It was messy, a bit painful to watch, and at times, almost unbearable…

Some may say that we have exhaled too soon, but I think one loss is dirt off the Canucks’ shoulders. Hopefully it only reinvigorates them to be hungry ravenous for that big, shiny silver cup.

So no matter what silly tweets may have been going out last night, stay classy Vancouver. And don’t stop believing in our boys.

P.S. I recently found out a new friend of mine was behind this awesome video that went viral during last year’s playoffs! Let’s take it as a reminder that we are most definitely NOT the worst fans ever.

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Easter Sunday in Vancouver turned out in the best possible way: sunny and just hot enough that sitting on the patio wasn’t an insane thing to do.

The women in my family love Provence Marinaside in Yaletown. We come here for birthdays, Mother’s Day, and yes, sunny Sundays. We always come for brunch, which I’ve always considered to be the best meal of the day. Plus, it’s by the water so how can you not love it?

Provence Marinaside view from the patio of the water and blue sky with wispy clouds

We started with an Antipasti platter ($5 per item) consisting of the decadent Pissaladière(caramelized onions, anchovies and black olives on a pizza crust), light and refreshing Prosciutto Wrapped Bocconcini, and perfectly cooked and creamy Risotto Balls (with mozzarella centre and sweet tomato sauce).

Anyone else addicted to cheese? And prosciutto? Gah.

Provence Marinaside mozarella ball wrapped in basil and prosciutto

My absolute favourite thing on the menu is the Croque Monsieur Eggs Benedict ($14). Everything about it is perfect to me. From the soft poached eggs to the gruyere and black forest ham open faced sandwich nestled below… it’s my little piece of heaven on a plate.

Croque Monsieur eggs benedict from Provence Marinaside with hashbrowns and fruit

Oh man and when my eggs get runny? Yeah, I’m that girl who gets all giddy about it.

Eggs benedict on an open faced croque monsieur. The egg yolk is running.

Where do you love doing Sunday brunch?

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