Words Are Magic

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic – capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II

As every writer knows, words are magic.  Writers have the ability and obligation to invoke all types of emotions in our readers; words which cause our readers to laugh out loud or bring a tear to their eye, make them angry or have the power to bring back precious memories.

Take the words ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’.  These words are basically the same – you have been a victim of something and you have survived the ordeal.  Journalists use these types of words to create emotion in their stories – ‘the victims of the attack’ or ‘the survivors of the attack’. 

Michael Hyatt has a video on his website showing the power of words.  Writing the same thing, but using different words, can make a huge difference, not only in your writing, but in the response of the reader.

The slogan I use for my writing iswhere words really matter”.  Make sure that as a writer you select those magical words that invoke in your readers the response you are looking for – make your words really matter to the reader. 


Does An Author Need a Web Page?

My answer is a resounding YES!  But for years I didn’t have one… many excuses – couldn’t afford one; didn’t have enough technical savvy to produce one myself; only had one book to sell… Mostly, I think I was afraid.  Those of you who know me might find this hard to believe, but its hard to talk about being a writer/author without sounding like you’re bragging.

When I was writing my first book, I would tell people when it was going to be published hoping they would go out an buy it.  Then once it was published, I was afraid no one would buy it;  I was worried at my first book signing that no one would show up – I’m sure you see the pattern.  Fear – it can rob you of so many joys if you let it.

Just this past week I’ve been reading up on marketing your book and one of the ways to get new readers, is to have a web page where they can find your book and more importantly find out about you.  Readers like to feel connected to the authors, and what better way than reading a short bio about you.  Finding out what type of books you read, what your hobbies are and more importantly when that next book is coming out.  The following scenario/excerpt from “The Self Publishing Magazine” really struck home with me:

“A businessman is on the road and notices someone reading a book by an author he has never heard of.  As he is online on his laptop, he decides to check this author out via the Internet. He finds the book for purchase, but no other information about the author. He closes his laptop and goes about his business. Author and book title forgotten!”

When I read this, I thought “this could be my book – I don’t have a web presence!” Right then I decided I had to shake off this fear.  After over two decades as a writer and published author, I have something to brag about.

Check out information on my books under Books in the menu section,

So, if you’re a writer, author, or photojournalist – do yourself a favour.  Get your name out there – set up a blog or web presence of some sort so that people can find you.

Talk again soon…


Thoughts on Writing

If you don’t have time to read, you don’ have the time or the tools to write.”
– Stephen King ‘On Writing’

Whether you want to be an author of books or a writer for magazines, heed the advice from Stephen King (above).

Let’s say you are interested in writing books.  Then you need to read the type of books that interest and engage you as a reader.  If you are interested in mysteries then read some of the popular mystery writers.  Read for pleasure, but also read to study the style and how information is incorporated into the story without taking you ‘out of the story’ – the typical ‘show, don’t tell’ scenes.  If you have a favourite author, study their writing style to see ‘why’ you like this writer. Is it because the storyline pulls you right into the story; do you like the ‘rhythm’ or ‘cadence’ of the words? It doesn’t matter what genre you like to read, take the time to read and study.  When you see a phrase that resonates with you, copy it down to study later on.

A few years ago, it was my pleasure to introduce Canadian fantasy author Charles de Lint at a writer’s workshop at a local university.  I spent several hours writing that introduction; polishing it until I was satisfied.  You see, I am a huge fan of Charles de Lint and wanted to convey how his writing made me feel.  Here is a portion of that intro:

An imagination that can reach beyond the boundaries of reality, where ‘magic’ happens and supernatural powers really exists is the foundation used by most contemporary fantasy storytellers. If you want to be a writer of magical fantasy, then you must have an imagination that is unrestricted by reality.

When does a person lose the ability to believe in magic? The magic of imagination where our best friends are invisible and the tooth fairy really does visit, or Santa Claus really exists? Has it been drummed out of us by parents, teachers or others telling us to “stop daydreaming” or to “grow up”. So where do the magical creatures of our imagination such as fairies, elves, manitou, the little people or wizards dwell when we become too old, or too cynical to believe in them and their magic anymore? The answer is that they dwell in the imagination of writers who have not lost the ability to dream, or to reach beyond the boundaries of reality.

If we are very lucky, as readers we get to re-discover them in books written by authors like Charles de Lint who has not lost that magical imagination. In books like Moonheart, Spirit Walk and so many others. Books that bring alive the magic of imagination – in a book like Moonheart that is so popular it is still in print after almost 30 years.

I was ‘over the moon’ when Charles and his wife Mary Ann Harris asked if they could pass along my introduction to his publicist for future use.  You see, my words not only as an author, but also as a fan had touched them. And that is what writing is all about – connecting with the reader.

I’m a voracious reader.  To me, reading is like writing – I can’t live without it.  I find new authors through recommendations from other readers, authors, or just Googling a phrase or searching publishing houses to find the latest books.  Of course, I also have my favourite authors bookmarked on my browser.

Most people pick up a novel to be entertained or read a newspaper, magazine or book to learn something. You as a writer need to connect with the reader and in the process entertain them or provide the information they need in order to learn something.  Write the story or article that you would want to read.