Technical Writing Course Update: Interviewing a Subject Matter Expert.

Monday, September 24, 2012
Last week in the Technical Writing course I'm taking we covered publication goals (business and usability goals) and audience analysis. Absolutely loved it!

This week we're working on task-mapping, table of contents and indexes. I'm in the process of working on my assignment and I can see why task-mapping is so important. I can't wait to try this on a real project.

I've already done a lot of the reading for next week. It involves information gathering and interviewing subject matter experts (SME.) The articles about SME make me laugh because I can think of a few people who fit into 'hoarder' category. The people who want to keep all information to themselves because it makes them feel smarter - they know something you don't. Or maybe it makes them feel more secure in their jobs. In either case, trying to get information from them sometimes feels impossible. After you have interviewed these people and find out you missed something you may find yourself asking them, "Why didn't you tell me that?" Usually the answer from an information 'hoader' is an arrogant, "You didn't ask."

 Below are some links to more information about interviewing SMEs. They are not the ones from my class but basically contain the same information.

On My Way To A Technical Writer Certificate!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I am starting my journey towards getting my Technical Writer Certificate!  My first course starts on September 12th and I’m very excited.  In my full time job I work in the technical field where I already write up a lot of documentation. The department has been going through big changes and some of my new responsibilities will be:

Create test documents
Document system functionality, particularly related to new enhancements
Document analysis and defects
Prepare and review recommendations and other project initiation documents
Prepare and review end user and operations documentation, training materials, and timelines

Not only did I request to take this program to become more efficient in my job, creating clear and informative documents but it has been a personal interest for some time.

I can’t wait to start.

How Can You Not Love This?

Thursday, August 30, 2012
Here's something while you procrastinate. Maybe it will give you some writing inspiration.

I'm In The Author Spotlight!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
I was interviewed by the Ink Babes on the Bleeding Ink blog for my poem YOU ARE NOT MY CHILD in the Bleeding Ink Anthology. (That's a lot of bleeding and a lot of ink)

Check out the interview at

Thank you Ink Babes!

You can purchase a copy of the Bleeding Ink Anthology at

WriteOnCon - Online Children’s Writers Conference

Monday, August 13, 2012
Guess what I am attending over the next 2 days? WriteOnCon!

I found it last year just as is ended and I was very disappointed. Well, this year I've made sure I'm there and I'm very excited.

WriteOnCon has all the events of a writer's conference done online and free! All the events are scheduled around working hours.

Hopefully a "ninja agent" finds the picture book manuscripts I posted and provides some helpful feedback. Maybe I will randomly be selected to receive feed back from Corey Rosen Schwartz and Tiffany Strelitz Haber on the stanza I submitted from my rhyming PB manuscript. Or perhaps I will submit a query for review. The events are not just for picture books but all kidlit including MG and YA.

To find out more information about WriteOnCon visit

Are you attending WriteOnCon and want to critique my work? Two of my picture book stories can be found are....

Can't wait to see you there!

My 2012 Horrorku Is Now Available in Scifaikuest - 10th Anniversary issue

Sunday, August 12, 2012
I'm excited to announce that the 10th Anniversary issue of Scifaikuest is now available at

Along with the featured poet Albert W. Grohmann, you will find my 2012 horrorku in the print edition. This is my second appearance in this magazine. I had my scifi tanka, BRAIN SPIDERS, published in the November 2009 print edition issue.

I can't wait to have my copy of the print edition arrive in the mail any day now.

Feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have any questions or comments.

My Bleeding Ink Bio Explained

Saturday, July 14, 2012
Did you see my bio in Bleeding Ink - A Collection of Dark Tales? If so, you probably have some questions about it. Bios are suppose to be true. Well, let me explain.

"Madeline Barr haunts Southern Ontario"Yes, I'm in Southern Ontario, alive. I don't think I need to expand on that.

"...the keeper of critters..."I have a pet guinea pig name Beanie and a leopard gecko named Amigo. I love my critters. Sorry, no gremlin or demons.

"and the breaker of bones."Um ya, this one takes a little explaining. You could see it as I break wishbones, as most of us have. I've also broken a few of my bones....and....I broke someone else's bone. Ok wait, let me explain. He was a friend..oh, I guess that didn't help. It was an innocent accident. We were teenagers pushing each other into the snow banks and when I shoved him he slipped on some ice and broke his arm. He was our school's drummer and he was unable to play at the Christmas concert. He never blamed me and he forgave me. Though I did get razzed about it for years.

"...When possessed, she writes articles about lizards or ghosts..."
Writing is not my full time job. I have a day job and when the feeling strikes, I write. I like to write. I had a children's non-fiction article about Amigo, my lizard, published in WeeOnes magazine and one article I wrote about ghosts for the Perspective newsletter was recognized by local news paper.

"...conjure up the occasional sci-fi poem..."
Bleeding Ink was not the first sci-fi poem I've had published. I've had one previously published in Scifaikuest in November 2009 and another will be published again in Scifaikuest in August 2012.

So there you have it. My creepy bio broken down into not so freaky facts. Don't be too disappointed, I do have a mysterious dark side that very few know about. Hang around, you'll see it when I feel possessed to reveal it.

I am so excited to announce ...

Thursday, July 5, 2012
Bleeding Ink - A Collection of Dark Tales (Ink Babes Press) was released in ebook format through Smashwords on July 3, 2012.

There are nearly 40 contributors to this anthology. Look for my ghostly poem titled, YOU ARE NOT MY CHILD.

If you're interested in dark and creepy stories and poems I'm sure you will find this book gruesomely satisfying with a hellishly low price.

The ebook can be purchased on Smashwords:

The official press release for the ebook can be found at

Happy Canada Day!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Grim Reaper Image made in Photoshop

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I enjoy working with Photoshop so during my lunch hours sometime I try to teach myself something new. Based on this tutorial I created the image below. Most of the images in the compilation came from stock.xchng

Helmet-cam: Peregrine Falcon Chicks Banded in Hamilton

Friday, June 1, 2012
Yesterday, Bryan Thomas got the unique job of belaying down the side of the Sheraton Hotel in Hamilton, Ontario to retrieve 3 Peregrine Falcon chicks from a ledge nearly twenty stories up. And if that wasn't difficult enough, he had to defend himself from repeatedly being dive bombed by the chicks' mother, Madame X.

See the retrieval from Bryan's point of view
Video Via: The Hamilton Spectator 

Once the chicks were safely retrieved they were weighed and banded by Anne Yagi, MNR management biologist. Madame X and her partner, Surge, were proud parents of 3 baby boys - Beckett (682 g), Felker   (671 g) and Tiffany (641 g) - named after 3 of the many waterfalls in Hamilton.

After their exams and some media attention, the chicks were returned to their nest.

After the ordeal it was confirmed all 4 boys were in good health - Beckett, Felker, Tiffany and Bryan Thomas, who escaped the wrath of Madame X with some holes in his shirt and a scratch.
Credit: Hamilton Community Peregrine Project and Falcon Watch site

Editing a NaPiBoWriWee Picture Book Draft about...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
I'm currently working on editing a picture book draft I wrote during NaPiBoWriWee. I'm not going to tell you too much about the story (yet) but it's about my two little critters, Amigo and Beanie.

What? You've never met the real Amigo and Beanie?

Well, here they are!

The original Amigo,

and the one and only Beanie.
I'll have to post an updated picture of Beanie because she's much bigger than this now.

UPDATE: Recent picture of Beanie

Author Tara Lazar first vlog - Taking a Break (But Not Really)

Friday, May 25, 2012
Tara Lazar
Author Tara Lazar
A couple of days ago I visited the EMU's Debuts Blog where Tara Lazar posted her first "Vloooogg!" - Taking a Break (But Not Really)

Not only is her vlog post entertaining, she also provides some very useful information for writers. She talks about how taking a break helped her land her second book contract.

I highly recommend you visit EMU's Debuts Blog and check out Tara Lazar in her comical vlog performance, Taking a Break (But Not Really)

Also be sure to visit Tara's Blog at

NaPiBoWriWee: Day 3,4,5,6 & 7

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Here we are at the end of NaPiBoWriWee! Congratulations, you made it! How did you do? Did you pound out 7 picture book manuscripts? Did you get one manuscript done? Maybe you just got some ideas and jotted them down in point form.

Here's an important question: Did you win a prize from Paula Yoo?

I did ok this year. Not as well as I was hoping but under the circumstances, I think I did good. Just attempting the NaPiBoWriWee knowing there potential challenges that week had in store for me makes me successful in this event. I managed to write 2 completed picture book manuscripts drafts, point form for another 3 and titles for the last 2.

I did not win anything from Paula Yoo so I guess I'll just have to try again next year.

Thank you Paula for hosting this event once again.

Day 2: NaPiBoWriWee

Thursday, May 3, 2012
Day two of National Picture Book Writing Week is done and I did better.

I finished a very rough draft of manuscript #1 and jotted down some ideas for manuscript #2.
I'm probably going to hold off on blogging for a few days and post a summary at then end.

Day 1: NaPiBoWriWee

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day one of National Picture Book Writing Week is done and how did I do?

Not so good.

Did I fail?

No. You can't fail NaPiBoWriWee.

After a busy day at my full time job (worked through my lunch), some not so good news - which threw me for a loop, and a long dental appointment in the evening, after I put the kids to bed I had nothing left to attempt to write a picture book draft. Excuses? Maybe. Reasons? Ya.

That does not mean I didn't think about it. So now, today, I have to roll into overtime and try to catch up. Excuses? Ya, I have a whole bunch more I could use but I won't. I am not going to leave this blog post short and see what picture book (or 2) gets written today.

I'm doing it again! I must be crazy but it's so much fun! - NaPiBoWriWee 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

There has been so much going on I almost forgot about an annual writing challenge I've done since it began 4 years ago.

NaPiBoWriWee - National Picture Writing Week hosted by Paula Yoo.

The Challenge: Write 7 picture book drafts in 7 days.

You do not need to write a polished manuscript. These are spelling mistake ridden, ridiculously raw, gruesome grammar, problematic punctuation filled, 1st draft manuscripts. I don't think that made sense, but that's ok because that's how my manuscripts are going to be when I first write them. For me this helps me get the idea down on paper and not let the 'nitty-gritty' editing interrupt the idea flow.

One thing I didn't do this year, which usually helps me prepare for NaPiBoWriWee, is PiBoIdmo (Picture Book Idea Month) hosted by Tara Lazar. I'm really regretting it now. The concept with the PiBoIdMo challenge is to come up with a Picture Book Idea every day for the Month of November. Usually I take my 7 best ideas from this and use them for NaPiBoWriWee.

So, with a week to go I'm going to try to come up with 7 or more picture book ideas and pretend I didn't forget about it and pretend I've been prepared for it since November. With all that is going on in 'real life' right now, if I come up with one picture book manuscript I will deem the exercise successful. No excuses!

Are you ready?

The Business Cards Lesson I Learned

Thursday, April 12, 2012
In February of 2012 I was fortunate to see Donna Messer, the "Queen" of networking and President of ConnectUs Canada, speak at McMaster's Inspiring From Within conference. One of the many tips I picked up from Donna, was to always carry business cards. I noticed right away Donna had a pocket full of business cards ready to be distributed. I later learned her other pocket was empty, ready to receive business cards. Of course, I didn't have any to give her (Darn it!). I didn't have any cards related to being a writer even printed.

 Since writing is currently a hobby I wasn't prepared to invest a lot of money into business cards. I've discovered a few cheap, yet effective options.

 1) Print your own business cards. From your favorite office supply store you can purchase business card paper for $10-$20

 2)Vistaprint - You can order 250 business cards online for free and only pay for the processing and shipping. You can also purchase cards; 250 for $20.00. See site for full details.

 3)Moo - Order a sample pack of 10 MOO Business Cards, for free. These are the ones I ordered and they are really nice cards however, they come with the URL in the corner on once side of the card since they are free. You can also purchase cards starting at 50 cards for $19.99.

So now I have 10 business cards related to writing in my purse, so I'm prepared for the next time I run into Donna, or anyone else I'm networking with.

Lack of Doubt Could Be Due To Lack of Talent

Friday, March 2, 2012
Author Joanne Levy had us guessing what is her biggest writing handicap. I was sure I had the correct answer with "self doubt." Even though I wasn't right, she agreed with me that she, too, has self doubt. Wait! She agreed with me. You mean, I'm not the only writer with self doubt?

@JaneFriedman tweeted about a fabulous post written by Eugene Cross about writing and if you have self doubt, you might be on the right track. I particularly liked the comparison with American Idol.

Find out more by reading Eugene Cross's post at

By the way, Joanne's the answer to her biggest handicap is, Joanne Fears Death by Shoehorn

A New Trick for Inspiration

Saturday, January 21, 2012
This has nothing to do with writing. Well, it could be if you use it as inspiration. :) This is my guinea pig, Beanie. She's only 4 month old and we've perfected her standing trick. Too cute!

My Name Is Not Bob: Do You Put Too Much Pressure on the Beginning...From the Beginning?

Thursday, January 12, 2012
ROBERT LEE BREWER has a way with words, and his post below is no exception. I often get hung up on the hook (so to speak) when I should 'just write.' Uninterrupted, free-flowing_thought, get-it-all-out-there writing. Read Robert's post below and let me know what you think. Do you get hung up on the hook?

Do You Put Too Much Pressure on the Beginning...From the Beginning? (from My Name Is Not Bob)

Happy New Year!! Watch out 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012
Yes, I realize it's the 2nd of January and I'm just posting about New Years now.
I wanted to wait to see what the first day of 2012 brought and so far the year is shaping out pretty well. Nobody is in the hospital, nobody is sick and my house is clean-ish.

As far as writing goes, I've hit the ground running, starting off the year with #MoP12 (Month of Poetry 2012) hosted by @KatApel The goal - write a poem a day for the month of January. I have my first 2 poems completed, a third one started and a few ideas on the side. I'm doing well.

I've also been doing some research for submissions and it looks as though I have a few options, which always makes me happy.

A couple of years ago I submitted one of my children's manuscripts to a publisher, it was one of 6 to make it to the final round. Unfortunately, it wasn't chosen. I've been fiddling with it since. This year I plan to finish fiddling  and submit to agents. I've never submitted to an agent before so this makes me excited and nervous but I believe it is the best move for this manuscript and myself as a writer.

This year I already have one publication lined up. In August I will have my 2012 Horrorku published in the print edition of Scifaikuest. This will be my second time in this publication.

Finally, I plan to post in this blog more regularly. Though I still have the Auntie Flamingo blog I am going to phase that one out and continue on with this one. I feel that the other blog has pocketed me into the children's genre and though I still write for children there are other areas of my writing that need attention. There are so many other sides of me, which some people may be surprised by some.

So the plan is to regroup, refocus and reach out. This is the year to get my name out there more and get noticed. This is MY year - 2012!