Boundbytheword Blog

keep updated in the world of Debris

Meet me in the RAW October 31, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 1:18 PM

On November 1st, I take over as the new site coordinator for RAW. Will I explain what that is exactly, and does it involve naked people like the name suggests?

Yes of course, and no, don’t be silly.

RAW is the Reading as Writers website, hosted by the Writers Community of Durham Region.   A great place to check out for readers and writers, and especially writers who read. Along with all kinds of literary info, you can expect contests, a book club, feature authors, and WCDR member spotlights (in my favourite section of the site called “Seven Questions”).

Click the link and see how my own seven questions interview turned out, and get a little more insight into the RAW part of me. Noelle in the RAW.

Keep your eyes on the site, and let me know what you’d like to see there – it will serve as a chalkboard to give readers and writers what they want in regards to all things literary. I appreciate your feedback and your loyalty to my blog , and the RAW site is another forum for you to connect with others about bookish stuff. 

Peruse it and participate – you don’t have to be a WCDR member or a writer or a literary genius. Do you read – then RAW is for you. Do you like to dip your toes in the world of words? Again, bingo – you’ll love RAW.

Chat to me on the site, or send me an email or FB message and let me know of things you think would be great on the site. Join me in the RAW.

So, yeah… you didn’t really think there was a chance of RAW meaning naked, did you? Because if you did, I have a rustic shack on some great swamp land you might be interested in buying.   Ahhh, I love your innocence, it’s a beautiful thing.

Check out the RAW site!

Check out Noelle’s Seven Questions on RAW!


You say you want a revolution… October 28, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 12:13 PM
I’ve recently been teaching shameless self-promotion, and highlighting the importance of social media.

For my blog readers who are also writers, or for those of you who have cause to promote yourself on any level – whether it be for a small business or any other form of promotion platform – this message is for you.

Social media is no simple fad, so don’t depend on the old saying that goes “this too shall pass”.  It ain’t gonna happen. Welcome to the social media revolution.  It’s here to stay. Might I suggest you embrace it?

The trick is not letting it distract you from the business you should be doing. Updating my blog (as fun as it is) just isn’t the same as writing my novel, though it could be a great distraction from doing the hard stuff like editing my thirteenth draft.  The same goes for a business:  counting your inventory isn’t the same as selling your inventory.  You can count inventory all day, and it won’t put food on the table. Like everything in life you need to find a good balance.

 So how does that relate to social media? You need to take the plunge. Get onto a social network and make friends. If you’re there already, make more network friends. Get yourself a blog or a website and build a community of supporters. Read other blogs, look at other business sites. What are other people doing on them that you want to do?  Become a twit. Follow others around (online I mean, I’m not directing you to stalk people) and take their lead.  Put on your big boy or girl pants and get yourself out there.

Social media networking. Have no fear, you can do it. And you can indeed make the time, because it won’t take that much as long as you just try not to get lost in the pitfalls of social media like Facebook farming, or getting all bedazzled. (that’s not networking by the way, that’s playing in the sandbox) .

Good luck, welcome aboard, and enjoy the ride!

Need further convincing? Check out this short and shocking Youtube (also social media) clip about the social media revolution, and then decide if you think this is a fad that might pass if you close your eyes long enough. Brave it, do it!


The oh-so-powerful word October 25, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 2:17 PM

Words. A source of such power. I had a front row seat reminding me of the resilient influence of words this week.

My children are growing up. It’s not the fact that they’re outgrowing their shoes or even wanting to bathe now that signified the change for me. It was the “rather game” that really exposed it.

The “Rather Game”, do you play it? You know the one where the kids ask you or each other “what you would rather?” It started when they were preschoolers, and I’d look for something engaging to talk about. A distraction, really.

“What would you rather – a cat with elephant ears or a bicycle that could fly?”

 You know, abstract things to get the old noggin pumping.

Somewhere along the line the kids took over the choices in question, and it became a twisted mess of gross and disturbing choices.

“Would you rather eat cow poo or step in a snake pit in bare feet? Would you rather get bit by a scorpion or have a bath in a tub full of maggots?”

I don’t actually know how or why the questions got there. They play the game a lot, mostly in the car, but sometimes when we wait at the dentist or such. I have to admit, it’s a good way to pass the time. I still try the cutesy questions, but the kids have no interest unless it makes them squirm or gag.

I’m sure years from now it will come up in therapy, and somehow I’ll be to blame for the deep-rooted issues based on the disturbing game. But I digress.

Riding in the car the other day, my 7-year old daughter baits my 11-year old son with the game.

“Would you rather have just Maalik’s head, or the rest of his body and tail?”

(FYI – Maalik is our Golden Retriever, and my son’s most beloved family member – even more than his wonderful mother, I’m afraid. He loves his head and his tail equally.)

My son would have none of it. “Neither.”

“You have to pick one, his head or the rest of his body and tail? Which one?”

My daughter is on the edge of her seat waiting for his response, and it hits me – she’s no little kid anymore. She doesn’t just flit through life now, she maneuvers. And somehow in that growth spurt she has discovered his kryptonite. She has him, and she knows it. She presses him, pushes him to answer, because this is the game they have played for years. The game where you HAVE to pick. And the way they play the game, no choice is a good choice. And now…she has him right where she wants him. “Choose. You HAVE to.”

“No. Neither.” He wouldn’t budge.

“Then if you choose neither, you don’t get Maalik. Is that what you choose?”

My son took only a few seconds to think about it. “Okay, fine. I’d rather have none of him than just his head or body.”

“Ha!” My daughter was victorious. And in a weird way, I understand why. She’s had years of having to decide that she would eat poo, or would live for a year with an actual earwig in her ear in order to avoid a seemingly worse choice her brother gave her.

And then wave two hit me. My son, who has never heard the Judgment of Solomon, has just made the biggest sacrifice. He would rather not have him at all than have him torn in two. Self-sacrifice is a pretty big deal for a boy with his dog.

In the end, she was happy because she finally won the game. And he was happy because in the world of twisted mind games, he saved his best friend.

I could have stopped them at any time. I could have clarified that in fact this was just a game, and that there would be no sacrificial dog. But I was transfixed by the power of sibling mind games, and the power of words. Quite astounding really.

So if you think what you say doesn’t mean much, or what you write matters little – think again. Words are powerful in every form.

In other words, mean what you say, and say what you mean.


Can I be honest? October 20, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 11:14 AM

Who doesn’t love awards? Who doesn’t love secrets?

Claudia Osmond, fellow author and blogger, just bestowed me with The Honest Scrap Award. The award gets passed on from blogger to blogger, a positive nod for writing from the heart. (see award criteria at the bottom of my blog post)

This was a proud moment for me – my son and I stayed up late too many nights reading Claudia’s creepy and thrilling YA novel “Smudge’s Mark”, published last year. In fact, her blog inspired me to get mine up and running. So kudos from Claudia is something to get excited about.
The good news for my blog readers is that the victory comes with a requirement to reveal “10 honest things” about me. So, for your amusement, and in honour of bearing our souls to keep the monsters out of our closets, here are 10 honest things about me:

1.      At 42 years old, I still gag when I take a pill. Even an itty bitty one.
2.      I talk a lot. I know it. If you know me – you know it. But it always hurt my feelings deeply to be criticised about it as a child. Stings now too. “You talk so much”. Really? Duh. If you can’t take it, get out of earshot range.
3.      I hate feeling vulnerable more than anything. Really, who likes it? But I think my aversion to any weakness in myself is in a league of its own. Vulnerability is my boogie man.
4.      I can eat chocolate dipped meringues until I am physically sick and still want more. And yes, this has been tested. Several times.
5.      I spent most of my life worrying about what people think, and will likely spend the rest of my life convincing myself I don’t give a sh*%.
6.      At my very core, I’m afraid I’ll be eaten by sharks. Actually, not sharks as much as just one shark. Jaws (cue music). As funny as this may seem, it’s pathetically true. My husband says I actually get a look on my face when I’m frolicking in the ocean that he knows it’s time to come near me in case I go berserk. It just suddenly comes over me – complete panic. I don’t yell or run; I just freeze and look terrified. It’s completely unpredictable though. Los Cabos – I had the Jaws freaky face. Maui – no sign of it. It’s been known to happen briefly in Ontario lakes (they’re so dark, you never know what’s down there) and in-ground swimming pools (it might somehow get in through the filter).
7.      I love musical productions. Too much. I get giddy. Glee geek.
8.      I buy happy shoes – ones that make you feel like a kid again. Keds, Mary Janes, crazy pink rain boots. Currently looking for saddle shoes – my favourite when I was five, wore the soles out. Ellen DeGeneres has been sporting them lately on her talk show and I am green with envy.
9.      I do a mean running man.
10.    I’ve carefully manipulated my husband over the last 13 years into thinking that he’s the lucky one for having me. I hope he never figures out the truth. Everyone needs a solid rock to hang onto, and mine is a giant mountain.

Being granted The Honest Scrap Award also requires that I recognize fellow bloggers that I deem worthy of the award. It was a no brainer for me.
These fellow writers and bloggers have a common thread. They all like to inspire.It comes from the heart, that special ability to shine the light on others, without fear of it dimming their own. They drag their boogie men out into the light and keep you smiling the whole time. More than anything though, They are willing to share encouragement and motivation to other writers, even when it means showing thier own fears and anxiety. Take a peek and see what I’m talking about. Congrats to my chosen bloggers, Laurie, Dale and Kevin.

Laurie Elmquist                       
Dale Long                                   
Kevin Craig                                

The Honest Scrap Award:
This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who often times put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul. This means so much to me as that is the root reason of why and what I write about. I believe writing is your heart without a mask. My writing, whether it be a blog post, a poem, a piece of prose or a WIP is the truest part of my soul. To me writing is about honesty and truth-seeking. There is the saying that the pen is more powerful than the sword. I believe that writing is a way to challenge people and to speak often times for those who cannot speak.


Teaching the Teacher October 13, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 1:14 PM

My workshop on Shameless Self Promotion was a hit. I had an enthusiastic crowd and the day went off without a hitch. Good signs: everyone writing things down at the same time when I gave a tip, participants nodding in agreement, and laughing at my jokes. Even a mid-workshop question that challenged what I was saying went surprisingly well. There are always highs and lows though, so I thought I’d share mine with my blog readers.

I have two highs for the day actually. The first was a surprize guest. A student came into the room and I instantly knew her.

I won’t give her full name here, but for blog readers who are old childhood friends, it was ”Mrs. L”, our grade 6 French teacher. Her husband taught us in grade 7 and 8, and the two of them were young hip Italians who looked like they walked out of a fashion magazine. You know who I’m talking about!
It was indeed my grade 6 French teacher. It wasn’t hard to spot her – she looks exactly the same – still exotic and hip, so beautiful. The best part was though; she listened attentively, participated fully and smiled when I looked her way – the best kind of student. At the end of the day it was a weirdly delightful experience to have taught my teacher from 30 years ago. Yikes, where does the time go?

The other high of the day was the feedback. I highly recommend evaluations after any workshop. Oh sure, the 10 scores and wonderful comments are great for the ego, that I can’t deny. But beyond that, the students gave great feedback about what they wanted more of, making it so much easier for me to make the workshop stellar for the next group I teach. Constructive feedback. Bring it on, and thank you!

The low, coincidentally, also came from the evaluations. One of the participants gave me high scores across the board, and wrote “You are great!” So good so far, but under comments the participant wrote “I have come to the conclusion that publishing is out of my reach.”

And this is where I fell to the ground sobbing. Okay, not really. But I did say “noooooooo!” and my heart deflated momentarily. I don’t know if there is a worse thing someone could say to a Pollyanna like me, that somehow I squashed a dream. I shudder at the thought.

So I want to do something I advise bloggers not to do, and that is send a personal message via your blog. I don’t know who you are, but I do hope you decided to check out my blog and get this. Either way, I want to say it.

I’m not sure what made you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, but I hope your dreams of writing remain undaunted. Being a writer is much like being an athlete. You have to practice and train, and try to be the best you can be. If you’re lucky, you’ll find encouragement via great coaches and other team mates. But at the end of the day, it is really hard work that just looks easy.

I swear, after watching so you think you can dance I prance around my home feeling like I could do it too. They make it look so easy, like they just let the music take them there. But have you ever seen the auditions on that show? Where some people get on there and you think – what are they doing?

As much as I’m sure they put it on the show to give everyone a laugh, it’s painful for me to see it. They have the same dream as the person who wins it all in the end. Maybe if someone had told them that it takes a lot of hard work, practice, dedication, patience and commitment, and encouraged them to go for their dreams with that reality in mind, that person would stand a better chance of making it. At the very least, that person could walk away with their head held high for doing their best.

A dream without a goal is just a wish. I hope if you dream of being a writer, you write. I hope if you dream to become a published writer, you write, you work hard, you stretch yourself, you put yourself out there and you acknowledge that it isn’t as easy as it looks. But it is so worth the effort if you dream about it.

Soapbox is sufficiently stomped on, but I do hope you hear me cheering you on. Dream it, and do it.


Yes, you can do it without shame October 6, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 9:28 AM

There’s a rumour floating around the writing community. It’s being said that the new reality for writers is that we need to master the ability to promote ourselves. Lucky for writers, I teach a workshop on shameless self promotion! I’ll be presenting it to WCDR members and guests this coming Saturday after the monthly writers breakfast meeting.
You don’t have to be a member to come out to the monthly meetings. You can come as a guest or on your own to check things out. You get a fabulous breakfast while being inspired in all things literary. You don’t have to be an official writer either (because I know some of my blog readers are closet writers!). In fact, I’ll be addressing the very topic of closet writers in the workshop. I’ll also be talking about how to promote yourself as a writer, and have you ready to shout it out from the roof tops.
Intrigued? Then check out the link below for the Writing Community of Durham Region and register for the upcoming breakfast and mini workshop. You need to register in order to eat –we writers are very possessive when it comes to sausage and bacon. Our keynote speaker will be Kelley Armstrong, author of the Darkest Powers young adult urban fantasy trilogy, the Women of the Otherworld paranormal suspense series, and the Nadia Stafford crime series. The meeting will engage and motivate you.
Come give it a try. It’ll be great to see friendly faces. And I’d be happy to coax you out of the closet, or help you sing your own praises, shamelessly.

Happy upcoming turkey time!