Writers’ Tips from Bill’s Workshop Series II

The Essentials of Ads and Promo

Here’s something you might know. If not, let me share.

For some time, we’ve needed to see an ad multiple times before it resonated—stuck—sufficiently looping in our headspace to motivate us to act, in other words driving us to actually purchase the item being promoted.

In the earliest days of advertising a single placement could well result in action.…

Writers’ Tips from Bill’s Workshop Series I

Success

Writers, whether you know it or not, you’re a business owner. Specifically, an entrepreneur. The sooner you acknowledge and embrace this, the better. And the easier it’ll be to promote and sell books.

Herein lies the dichotomy. As writers, we inherently don’t want to promote—to sell ourselves and our stories. We write because we enjoy it—selecting words to communicate a vision—moods, scene, dialogue.…

Crafting Arts

Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.

Unexpected Beauty

Unexpected beauty. In a highrise, surrounded by a sky-scraping copse of towers, nature abounds. Gulls soar, fixed-wing on thermals pumped from rooftop HVACs. Summer settles into place, reluctantly, with every shade of green—Irish hues in streetscapes, courtyards, boulevards—while deciduous and conifers sprout tender shoots begging to be brewed in campsite tea.

From my concrete aerie a swath of ornithology—gulls now in a gang, to squawk and dive, pestering a lone bald eagle flapping broad extended juvie wings, its flightpath east to west.…

Open Mics: Lifeblood of Local Writers

First time I showed up at an open mic I was the only one there. It was a Vancouver pub. (Still is, I suppose.) I had my Seagull six-string acoustic (no pickup), both the guitar and I showing our age. In all fairness to the organizers, there was no reason for anyone to be there. I was an hour early for signup.…

Writers’ Primer: Ratios, the Sure-Fire Way to Get Published

Ever heard of ratios? I mean, outside of middle school math.

Ratios are a simple, effective way to quantify your effort as a writer. And if your primary goal is getting published, knowing your ratios is essential. It’s been said, “It’s all a numbers game.” Don’t let an expression’s overuse dilute its merit. It’s cliché in part because it’s accurate. There’s a reason people cite the effectiveness of numbers.…

The Story of Steve – Part 2 of 2

Six years later, with my pet Steve-the-African-tree-frog, I headed off to grad school, a four-thousand-kilometre drive. Late on the third day, I was stopped for speeding. It was starless dark and the officer used a flashlight to approach our car. I had my license out. Steve was on the dash in his Mason jar. The officer didn’t seem to notice me, his flashlight trained on Steve.…

The Story of Steve – Part 1 of 2

Fifteen years ago Wonderful Magical Words, my first book, was published, raising twenty grand for Make-A-Wish Foundation, for which I’m eternally grateful. Here’s a passage I hope you enjoy, The Story of Steve …

I was twelve. And I got a small African tree frog as a pet, one of a few to surface at our local pet shop, a novelty we assumed was part of an order gone wrong.…

Marketing for Writers

You may not know it but if you’re a writer, you’re an entrepreneur. Whether you publish traditionally or self-publish you’re a business owner, and every business-owning entrepreneur needs to create and promote their brand along with knowing their market. Here are the essentials of marketing every writer should know with actionable items you can implement now.

Key Elements of a Marketing Plan:

Do a SWOT Analysis – know your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.…

Career Experience: A Four Part Series

Part Four: On Assignment

My next journalistic endeavour came a year later. I was cutting class and bussing from Vernon to Vancouver to see ZZTop play the Pacific Coliseum, which I explained in advance to our creative writing teacher, Mr. Miller.

“Fine,” he said, “But you have to come back with a story.”

“No problem,” I said.

“A written story.”

“Oh.”…

Career Experience: A Four Part Series

Part Three: Reporting LIVE

One of my first typewritten scoops took place at my friend Clayton’s. It was Christmas holiday, grade one. And my first sleepover. Mom packed me a large suitcase and a canvas duffel – clothing for a family for a week, for my fourteen hours out of the house. I believe there was a bag of food too, whether for preparedness or to insult my hosts, I can’t be certain.…

Career Experience: A Four-Part Series

Part Two: The Big League

Easing into the editor’s chair – adjustable plastic arms, swivel-claw base and cracked leatherette, I surveyed my new domain: three-drawered metal desk decorated in leaning stacks of clippings and papers, aforementioned chair, half a cup of cold coffee, wastepaper basket with assorted crumpled sheets, orange peelings and a blackening banana peel.

“Not bad,” I thought, swivelling left, then right.…

Career Experience: A Four-Part Series

Part One: CEP

The Career Experience Program. CEP. It had the ring of 1980s progressive rock, something Jeff Lynn would produce. What it was, was an opportunity to get three weeks “off” in Grade 10 and go to work for some supportive, unsuspecting employer in our small town. According to my written CEP profile test, I was best suited to crew a commercial fishing vessel.…

Bill Arnott’s Beat: Sociable Media: Face-to-Face v Facebook (Part 2 of 2)

Like me, Ringo Starr’s never measured pie in pieces. There’s no bigger piece of the pie, simply endless ingredients for limitless pie. This kind of collaboration’s evident in a number of libraries that offer writers opportunities to showcase their craft, reading from both published and unpublished work. At the Vancouver Public Library (VPL) it was called New Voices; now it’s Writers Showcase, featuring both emerging and established writers.…