Colombian Donkey Libraries


Every once in a while a story about books & reading comes along that I need to share.

This is one of them, and it restores my faith in humanity.

This guy has been traveling Colombia with his two donkeys for years, spreading the joy of reading to kids. This is a feel good story, and those “biblioburros” are even cooler than Bookmobiles.


On Writing, Smartphones, and “Waking Up”


Something happened last month that has profoundly affected my creativity.

My smartphone broke.

Yellow jackets get pretty ornery around late summer (they sense their collective impending doom), and as luck would have it, I got stung in the hand while scrolling Twitter. My phone hit the sidewalk and even a fancy $3 case and screen protector couldn’t save it.

What does this have to do with writing? Everything, as it would turn out.

Enter the flip phone.

I’ve contemplated how much I relied on my smartphone for a while now. I used it too much, and research is showing the negative effects of technology overload, especially on creativity. I decided to switch back to a flip phone as an experiment, and the results were almost immediate.

This is what I found:

  • I’m perfectly OK without a smartphone. I have other computers/devices (GPS, laptop, etc) to access maps and information when I need it. It’s freeing to not feel “connected” at all times.
  • I AM BORED AGAIN. I realized just how long it had been since I felt boredom. I was literally programmed to grab my phone to “fill in the spaces”. Now that the flip phone only serves very intentional functions (calls, texts, email) my body and brain are literally retraining themselves to accept true downtime again. Walking around, standing in lines, all those things that prompted smartphone use are filled with contemplative thought and observations.
  • I realize how pervasive smartphones are. I’ve joked that I’m “awake” now, but being more present has allowed me to see just how often other people are on their devices. It is nearly constant. Kind of scary, but this experiment is about me, not about what others are doing.
  • My attention span is slowly returning. Deliberate, focused consumption of books, movies, and television (even a newspaper!) without the risk of distraction has made me realize the strange cognitive dissonance that “two screening” had caused. For the first few days I felt randomly distracted and jittery sitting through an entire movie. That is slowly fading, and I find myself contemplating what I give my attention to more deeply.
  • I have gotten so many more story ideas in these bored moments. Creativity appears to be expanding to fill those gaps.
  • I have more time to write. Those little (and not so little) pockets of free time are spent writing instead of mindlessly scrolling on a screen.

This endeavor is still burgeoning, but so far I’ve seen mostly positives for the trade offs in convenience. Will I ever get a smartphone again? I’m not sure. But for now I’m enjoying a newfound well of creativity, and only paying $20 a month for something that won’t break if it bounces off a sidewalk.

Thoughts on Writing

This is a great post. It got me thinking about all the ways that the internet (mainly social media) encourages writers to talk about their “writing life”, which as writers know, is far less glamorous than many would like to talk about or project an image of.

Tall Hawk Talks

I have a lot of thoughts about writing. All writers think about writing a lot, but all writers advise new writers not to write about writing, because only people who write care about writing enough to read about it (writing, that is). This leads to a group of slightly odd people reading about writing and writing about writing and repeating a lot of the same stuff and not really achieving anything. Anyway, writers already know about writing. They’ve spent hours practising writing, and still more reading about writing, so they don’t need to read about writing from a brand new writer with much less experience than them.

I love writing, conceptually. I love reading books about writing. I must have read millions more words specifically about writing than words I’ve actually written myself. I feel like I read more books about writing fiction than I do actual fiction, which I’m…

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Mastering the Art of Monotasking

Here’s a great post by Jackie over on Undertones blog about “monotasking”. I wrote a post a few years about my belief that multitasking hurts writing and that authors should avoid it whenever possible.

I’m glad to see there are other like-minded writers out there with me.


I’m writing lakeside in the foothills of Southern Alberta where I’ve been camping for a handful of blissfully secluded days. There is a beach towel laid out beneath me and my faithful hound, Levi, is nestled beside me—his fur slick from an energetic dip in the water. Cross-legged beneath a canopy of trees, my skin is flushed and freckled from several days of soaking in uninterrupted sunshine. There is a faint mountain breeze skimming across the lake and all is quiet. It’s a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city living and an ideal setting in which to place pen to paper and delve into some long overdue writing.

This year has been an eventful one marked by a busyness that has been both exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. There has been a marked progression in areas of my life that were entirely unexpected. Now, for the…

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Signs You’re Ready To Move Onto A New Manuscript

Another great post by K.M. Allan.

This focuses on when you’ve completed revisions and re-writes. I often struggle with “in process” manuscripts and wonder whether to finish them if I’m not feeling that same passion for the story. I’ve been told it’s a natural part of the novel writing process.

K.M. Allan

If you’re a writer who has typed “The End” on a manuscript, you know it’s just the beginning.

There’s still the second draft. Endless edits. Incorporating beta feedback. Re-writing whole sections. Adding or dropping characters. At least five (or more) other drafts—and that’s before you look for agents, tackle the dreaded synopsis, or prepare to self-publish.

Working your way through all those processes will cost you hours, and at certain points, your sanity. You’ll feel as if you’ve been doing it so long you can’t even remember a time when you weren’t writing your WIP.

When you reach that point, it’s easy to miss that you have actually finished your MS. So here are the signs you’re ready to move onto a new manuscript, in case you didn’t already know…

You’re Characters Have Stopped Talking To You

And not in the way they’re no longer following your

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