Barrie Writers' Club

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Sara’s Writing Prompts

S Writing Prompt Graphic - Adobe01Hello!  So have you been busy writing this past week or have you been too busy getting the kids ready for the first day back to school?  Do you need some inspiration or a prompt to get  your creativity flowing?  Yes?  Good!  I have a whole list of writing prompts just for you.  Take a few minutes, consider where these prompts will lead you then write on!



Week of August 26th to September 1st, 2013.

  1. Little did John know the panther was just yards away, watching his every move.
  2. A straight line and a curved line argue which one is more useful.
  3. An unknown person from Egypt sends you a box containing a rock etched with hieroglyphics.
  4. One day, your dog starts talking to you.
  5. Right before she dies, your mother tells you you’re adopted.
  6. He raised his goblet: “Cheers! Here’s to Love!” Then she quipped back, “Define Love.”
  7. Write about the smallest insect you’ve ever seen.
  8. A frozen pond in the middle of the desert catches the attention of scientists from around the world.
  9. You’re in a log cabin deep in the woods. No utilities. Lake plentiful with fish and a prehistoric animal…
  10. You just discovered the reason your adopted son is so disruptive of every aspect of family life: Attachment Disorder. What now?
  11. “Your name will be in lights, kiddo!” said D. W. Griffith to Mary Pickford.
  12. A day after you submit your thesis, you get a call from the Director of the CIA or CSIS/CSEC.
  13. Write about the life of a box of Lime Jello.
  14. Now you know the reason your neighbor has been sitting in his yard, looking at his shed and brooding.
  15. If you could get a job in any occupation, what would you do for a living?
  16. Add a dab of this, a dribble of that and stir. Within seconds, you’ll have…
  17. The commercials said the shampoo would make my hair grow strong. I didn’t expect…
  18. I don’t usually read the end of a book first, but this time I just had to know!
  19. A for-hire corporate spy has stolen a flash-drive with sensitive information on it. He must transfer it to his employer within the next week because…
  20. A ring is found with an intriguing inscription inside.
  21. Pick a marketing slogan and use it in a poem or short-story.
  22. You are being driven around by the worst driver ever.
  23. The calendar says March 10th, but the last day you remember is March 1st.
  24. A stop at the pub on the way home changed his destiny.
  25. A circle, a square and a triangle…
  26. When her cell phone rings, they think nothing of it. But when his rings too…
  27. “Couldn’t you hear me knocking?” she asked. “Uh, no… I was… “
  28. The cup tipped over, spilling its contents onto her mobile phone, which was the only remaining connection to the outside world.
  29. If life is a TV channel, I’m currently on…

Prompts gathered from

From The Trenches…

Helpful How To Articles Graphic Research

Research Part 1 graphic

Understanding the World Wide Web

The quest for the holy grail of information!

Every website has an address, called an URL (uniform resource locator). These URL’s follow a fixed pattern and order. They become specific to accommodate more complex websites that contain more information.

First we’ll examine our own web address here at the Barrie Writers Club:

http:// – Stands for “hypertext transfer protocol”. This provides access to this website. Most times within our current framework of the internet now, it’s not always necessary to provide this protocol of “http://”, often just using “www.” with the website address is sufficient.

www. – The server name, this stands for: World Wide Web.

.barriewritersclub – The domain name.

.wordpress – The domain name where our website/blog is hosted and maintained.

.com – The domain type.

If we are to click on one of our pages, the About page we will see this in our internet browser:

The last part of this URL, /about/ is referred to as the directory path.

Other types of Internet resources have their own identifying protocols such as:

(The majority of these protocols you may never even have to know or use!)

telnet:// – Usually used to access another computers’ login screen.

news:// – Provides access to a newsgroup.

ftp:// – Stands for: “file transfer protocol” and provides access to files.

file:// – Gives access to a specific file.

Domain types:

.com = Commercial.

.biz = A business. It can be used with any website. No specifications are required. Basically anyone can set-up shop online so Caveat Emptor, Buyer beware!

.info = Information. But can be used with any website. No specifications are required. Same Latin phrase may apply here also 😉

.edu = Usually an accredited academic educational institution, most notably used within the USA.

.org = Organization, usually non-profit.

.net = Networking.

.gov = Government.

.mil = Military (Only in the U.S.)

.ca = Our very own domain type from websites that originate from Canada.

.uk = Domain type from the United Kingdom of Great Britain.

.au = Australia

.museum = A verified museum.

.mobi = A mobile compliant website, used for mobile devices such as: iPads, Tablets, Smartphones and even some Netbooks; along with some Kindle and Kobo readers now.

A very thorough list of top-level Internet domains may be found here:

The re-Search Continues!

Using Boolean Operators


Using Boolean Operators can really aid you in being able to tell whichever search engine you use, exactly what you’re looking for. This can save a lot of time and frustration when you want to find something specific.

Using these operators involves inserting certain words into your search to allow you to communicate with the search engine you’re using. Using these operators will help you to locate only the information you need.

And”, “or” and “not” are used to save you from weeding through a huge amount of hits that your search engine may hit you with. It has the ability to narrow in on the information you want and discard what isn’t important to your research.

For example, I need to look up a poem by Dylan Thomas, and the poem I’m looking for is a very specific one it’s, Do not go gentle into that good night.

So I could do this search:

Dylan Thomas AND Do not go gentle into that good night

(Keywords 1) (Keywords 2)

Or I could know exactly what it is I want by specifying what I don’t want the search engine to return to me:

Dylan Thomas NOT Biography

(Keywords 1) (Keywords 2)

This tells the search engine that I need information about Dylan Thomas but what I don’t want to receive back are search engine hits containing his biography, maybe I would like to just find his work.

Perhaps I’m looking for a result that contains either or any of those words, and something less specific:

Dylan Thomas OR Do not go gentle into that good night OR Biography

(Keywords 1) (Keywords 2) (Keywords 3)

To simplify things even further and to make it even easier we can type in specific keywords, or phrases within quotation marks, by using them as a Proximity Locator, like this:

“Dylan Thomas”

“Do not go gentle into that good night”

We may even specify further by doing this:

“Dylan Thomas” AND “Do not go gentle into that good night”

You may also try this to get exactly what you’re looking for:

“Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that good night”

With or without the colon and you may reach the same results from the search engine (depending on the engine you use).

If we don’t have time to use AND or NOT we can really simplify what we mean when communicating with our search engine by using these Boolean Operators:

+Dylan Thomas Biography

We can use + (a plus/addition sign) to tell the search engine what we want to locate. Conversely, we may tell the search engine what we don’t want to find by using a – (a minus/negative sign), and just like how we use positive and negative integers, we can specify exactly what we’re trying figure out then find what we’re looking for.

You can even add a Boolean Operator at the end of a string of letters to return several search engine hits back on what you’re looking for by adding a wildcard, an * (asterisk) at the end of the word, letters or phrase.

Do not go gentle*

You may do that, if perhaps you’ve forgotten Dylan Thomas’ title of his poem – it will pull all of the results from that string of words to find you the title and his poetic masterpiece!

A list of popular search engines and websites:

The Fort Knox’s of Internet Gold!


The Barrie Public Library

Our very own Barrie Public Library website contains access to many resources, I encourage everyone to take the time and explore the website thoroughly. It has many valuable links to local and worldly information; it even provides access to your Barrie Public Library account where you can reserve and even download in some instances: books, e-books, other media, and even audio books. All resources are freely available to borrow for the residents of Barrie, and it’s connected with the Painswick Library and with many other libraries in our region too. To access some of these features you will need your library card to input your membership account ID number, and if you haven’t already created a login and password you will have to do that also.



Dealing with the mightiest beast on the Internet…


For information on this search engine and what it can do for you, check out this link:


Google is an especially friendly search engine for using Boolean Operators to narrow down your results or hits. Plus, it features the “I’m feeling lucky” button if you really want to play Russian roulette with your internet searches. It has some really interesting quirks built into its search engine input that can even allow you to solve math equations. Some other Google offerings include viewing their website (and even other websites!) in various odd forms of dialect, such as Pirate, aaaRR!

For a complete list of Google Hoaxes and Easter Egg Hunts, check out this page:


Yodeling all the way to search results!


Yahoo! Has an easy to use internet search engine but rarely is it able to narrow down to precise results when you’re using Boolean Operators. When you’re looking for something quite specific it can often return a huge amount of hits on your searches that have nothing to do with what you’re actually looking for. In the late ‘90’s it was one of the most popular search engines to use but has now evolved into a more user friendly, less specific result search engine. It’s great for popular information such as general news, entertainment and shopping but for the meatier stores of information, it doesn’t fare as well as Google.


The quick look-up that leads you everywhere!

Is an excellent place to begin a search for quick, convenient and free information. I must stress that if you’re looking for academic information and/or research that you will have to cite, then this accessible encyclopedia will not be as useful but it can point you in the right direction as to where to find that information.

It doesn’t contain any academic or research journals although it does cite some of its articles from publicly available academic resources and journals. Articles will often cite various well-known newspapers, articles and magazines online. It strives to accurately cite each article and each piece of information it presents but because it’s a free encyclopedic resource, registered users contribute to the entire volume of information that it contains: in this respect, it’s a very human encyclopedia that translates to being both brilliant and sometimes prone to error with the information it contains!


A very private place, shh!

Ixquick is touts itself as one of the most private search engines and returns search hits back that are rated with a star system to eliminate duplicate search results. This search engine again is not especially friendly to the use of Boolean Operators but it does provide a narrower return of search results to locate exactly what you’re looking for.

We’re Canadian, eh! is a branch of the CanWest Global media group; it provides Canadian media content and issues within a Canadian context here and abroad.

A precise slice of Canuck!

The Canadian Broadcasting Company (Corporation) media website for news, art, radio, television and movies, is all contained here. You can listen, watch and look-up information and various media content that’s made by the CBC. It’s also a fairly decent and precise resource for academic information regarding Canadian media and production.

Words? Why doth thou protest?! is an easy, free and accessible way to look up words, both synonyms and antonyms are provided – This website even contains a thesaurus. It has a treasure trove of flash cards for learning new words, testing your knowledge of words, and even word games to play to enhance your learning experience. And if that wasn’t enough, they also have these word games and flash cards in foreign languages as well, along with other popular subjects!

Also YouTube contains a lot of information from ordinary contributors and experts alike. Digging your way through this surplus of video information and tutorials to find what you want can be frustrating. I will make a separate post with some of the best YouTuber’s and their videos; both from the realm of entertainment and educational perspectives and how to get the most from this website.


Next week:

Where to find information within the portals of online academic institutions, government websites and university/college writing labs. With a few added extras: respected research journals and their websites.


  • Remember: Information and knowledge is [now] free, how you find and use it is up to you.



Hackman, Grant

Thomson Nelson Guide to Web Research, 2007-2008 ed.

University of New Brunswick at Saint John, 2007-2008. Toronto: Thomson Nelson P, Print.

Sara’s Writing Prompts: Visual Story Prompts

Did you all have a good Canada Day long weekend? Did you eat mouth-watering barbeque, play with fireworks you shouldn’t have, and wave the great Red & White Canadian Maple Leaf flag? No? Me either…Not to worry! I had an idea for a new way to visually set you into the writing mode, by providing something I will call, Visual Story Prompts.

So it works like this:

I’ll give three pictures, and you will create the story that weaves the mesh between these three different picture items.

I took a page out of Oliver Sacks book entitled, An Anthropologist on Mars. The nonfiction work documents a meeting he had with Temple Grandin who has Autism. But the interesting part about her is, the unique way in which she perceives and processes our shared world. This is the case for many individuals who face issues of Neurodiversity – Ms. Grandin rarely if ever thinks in words, but in pictures. For most of us, communication in words is intrinsic to being human. Imagine what her world consists of devoid of words, words that ultimately facilitate essential human interconnectedness and the abstraction that language provides the majority of us with. This alternative way of understanding the world has allowed her to have a very unique way of perceiving what is.

Here are the pictures, and you the writer will use your words to create the story.

Story Choices:

1. A black Labrador Retriever, a sleeping baby and an aqua blue rotary dial telephone.

black lab X baby

2. A going away party, a well-traveled suitcase and a bell on a hotel desk check-in.

bon voyageoldie suitcase bell

3. A rustic camping trip, a bunny and a roll of duct tape.

camping old skool bunny honey canuck classic tape

4. A pink wig, a bottle of white wine and a tin trash can.

pink wigvino tin garbage can

5. Wooden clogs-shoes, a Tuna Salad sandwich and a grey Tabby cat.

wooden shoes holland tuna salad kitty grey

6. A businessman, a stopwatch and a luggage arrival carousel with people ridding on it.

busy businessman stop watch people tagged luggage

7. An old purple door, a stack of old books, and a man reading by a lake.

blue doorold books book reading lake

8. A map of Canada highlighting the province of Manitoba (my bad, I originally put Alberta! HA!), an Army jeep and a soldiers footlocker.

noahs flood 2013 ab jeep army army trunk ex

9. An old Canadian $1 bill, Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and a plate of Poutine.

oldie canuck dollar billparliament 3poutine

10. A red Toronto Sun newspaper box, The City of Toronto, and a Twix chocolate candy bar.

sun news box toronto cn tower twix choco

Good luck and write on!


Canadian Version of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ Looking for Stories


From one of the editors of a new Chicken Soup for the Soul books:

Because you are receiving this you are in my e-mail address book as someone I’ve had contact with over the years – perhaps through Chicken Soup for the Soul, or from any one of a number of different ventures.
Regardless of how I know you, I’m very excited to announce that I’ve just been invited to co-author a brand new Canadian title, Chicken Soup for the Soul O Canada The Wonders of Winter!
The reason for my message today? We’re looking for stories from people just like you, who might enjoy being published in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. We want true stories, 1200 words or less, about how you embraced and made the most of challenging or amusing winter situations. Here are some examples of topics, but we know you can think of many more:
  •  Hockey
  •  The support of family during the long cold months
  •  Friendships created out of the cold days and long nights
  •  Driving in the winter
  •  Dressing for the weather
  •  The back-yard skating rink!
  •  Winter sports: Hockey, curling, ice fishing, skiing, tobogganing, skating etc.
  •  Best winter foods and events
  •  Shovelling the driveway; de-icing the car, travelling in the winter.
  •  Christmas and holiday traditions
  •  Hockey 
      Because this book will be released in time for Christmas 2013, the deadline for stories is July 10. For writers guidelines and how to submit your story visit I wish you great success with your writing, and I really hope to hear from you!
 Love to you,
Janet Matthews
Co-author of
Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul 
This would be a great way to get some exposure and earn yourself some money!