Coach & Consultant

Greetings readers, writers, and authors!

Please overlook the debris, as I reorganize my blog. Recently, I’ve decided to merge my two identities: My status as an amateur writer and business owner.

I would say I’ve done quite well keeping my identities separate until now. Only a select few in my life know that I’m both an erotic author and straight & narrow business professional. Well, that’s changed and I’m not out in the open.

Those of you here know me as writer, author, blogger, book reviewer. Now meet the vanilla business professional. Alright… not vanilla… maybe not even tame.

My day job, or rather, profession is in the area of business development. My forte is helping entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business. As long as I’m tooting my horn, I’ll say I’m awesome when it comes to putting together financial packages for funding. How awesome? I’m just under $1.15 million in capital infusion, that is helping owners inject money into their businesses.

Let’s see… what did I miss? Names… Renee Townsend. There. I’m out. You have it. Reena Jacobs (the writer) = Renee Townsend (business owner). The name of my business, you ask? Backbone America. Find me at backboneamerica.com.

If you’re looking to run self-publishing like a business, let’s talk. We’ll talk about the direction you want to take your self-publishing business and the challenges you’re facing.

Make an appointment through my online calendar.

Creative Writing Topics and Prompts

Creative Writing Topics and Prompts

If you’re anything like me, you probably have ups and downs when it comes to writing. The last time I wrote a blog post will show you a bit about my struggles. Today, I’m going to propose creative writing topics and prompts.

Why? Some days you want to write but you feel like you are surrounded by a wall of bricks. You may end up staring at a blank page with nothing but frustration on your mind. Sometimes, all you need is something to spark the writing process.

Despite conflicting opinions writer’s block happens to very many writers, including some of the very much accomplished writers. If all you need is a spark, check out some of the prompts below to get you started.

  1. Given the chance to alter one event in history, which event would it be and how would you change it.
  2. Write about your opinion of the perfect home. What would it or would not have?
  3. You just woke up scared as hell, sweat dripping all over your body. Describe what you think your dream was about.
  4. Imagine you are in charge of a president’s protection unit and the president is going to a very unstable region. Write your experience during the trip and events that happen there.
  5. You have a chance to go anywhere in the world. Write about the place you would go.
  6. Imagine you own one of the largest media houses in the country, what do you think you would change about it?
  7. The investigative agency in your country have released a broadcast for a known dangerous terrorist, that terrorist is you 3 year boyfriend or girlfriend. Write a story about how you feel immediately and what happens next.
  8. You did something wrong and got away with it. Write about it.
  9. You have been brought up in a family that believes family is everything, then one day you find out your parents aren’t who they pretended to be. What happens next?
  10. Write a poem about for the most romantic date you have ever attended.
  11. You are a billionaire, you’re only child is almost hit by a car on the sidewalk but a homeless man saves your child and is hit by the car instead. What would you do to the man to show your gratitude?
  12. Write a story from the perspective of twins separated from each other at the age of 12 just to meet 10 years later.
  13. Her laugh broke the awkward silence…..
  14. What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
  15. You have been told you have two weeks to live, what would you do?
  16. You are going home just to find your house no longer there. The neighbours are the same but have never seen you or heard of you before.
  17. Imagine reincarnation was real and you were given a chance to become any animal you would love to reincarnate as, write a story about your life as that animal.
  18. You are given a chance to decide which one should come first, the egg or the chicken. Which is your pick and why?
  19. Write a letter to the 16 year old you.
  20. An intelligent extra-terrestrial species has been found, you’re chosen to explain to them about our whole world and be taught about their world. What is your experience like?

Share a writing prompt that’s helped you get started.

Creative Writing for Kids

Creative Writing for Kids

I’ve been thinking about my son and how he’s struggled with writing. I, myself, didn’t get truly into writing until less than a decade ago. However, with him being in school and graded on his writing, it’s prompted me to investigate creating writing for kids.

Developing creative writing skills while very young has been proven to not only encourage children’s overall creativity but also improve their confidence and ability to express themselves. Cultivating these skills through guidance, support and encouragement can lead to a better academic and professional life. Guidance should not be harsh, but rather gentle. After all, we know how challenging writing can be.

Always allow room for the child to think outside the box and experiment with their ideas. Being the main audience of your kid’s stories, it is very supportive when you compliment them for impressive writing or creativity. Having genuine interest in your kid’s ideas encourages them to grow and expand their creativity.

Preparing your kid for creative writing

Getting your kid to love reading and writing is the first and most important step. This is easy, if as a parent, you create time to read and write with your kid on a regular basis. Creative writing for a kid requires the proper materials and a place with as little distraction as possible. The materials required may include:

  • Pens, pencils, erasers and maybe markers
  • A colorful notebook or journal
  • A dictionary
  • Drawing book for very young toddlers

Make creative writing for your kid fun

Kids are curious and have a knack for adventure. Incorporating these qualities into creative writing for kids makes them develop interest in flexing their creativity muscle. Everyone loves fun, especially kids.

  • Use art

For younger kids, art is a great way for them to express themselves. Asking a kid to draw something they like is a fun way for them to start getting creative. As time goes, the child is introduced to writing by providing captions to what they drew. After a while, giving the kid pictures to write a story about, becomes easier because they can relate to it.   This encourages the kid to keep learning and maintain the interest in creative writing.

  • Use fun prompts

Use of fun and simple prompts is a good way to actively involve your kid in creative writing. Prompts with thought invoking images are especially useful because visual cues stimulate imagination which in turn stimulates creativity. For example, a photo of a summer vacation followed by a simple prompt like “What did you enjoy most about the vacation?”

  • Make jokes

Adding jest to the stories you tell your kid(s) makes it enjoyable for them and hard to forget. For example, a father could tell kids “I had blue ill-fitting swimming shorts and dived into the pool, next thing I knew my swimming short was floating away from me!!”

  • Play word game or collaborative story games

Using word games with kids is quite beneficial for them, it helps build their vocabulary which is infinitely useful in creative writing. Try simple games like Letter Blocks and hangman for younger kids while for older kids Scrabble and Crossword Puzzle.

Vocabulary alone is not be enough in creative writing. That’s where collaborative story games become useful. You write a sentence and your kid writes the next sentence, then you again etc. With your help the kid learns when to use the vocabulary he or she has learned. It also teaches the kid proper sentence structures.

Assist your kid in looking for something to write about.

For many kids it challenging to start writing stories due to fear of a blank paper or fear of making mistakes and so on and so forth. When a child is stuck in writing, reprimanding the child could worsen their predicament. Inspiring your child by assisting with story ideas will go a long way in improving your child’s creative writing skills.

  • Use familiar situations to spark creativity

Everyday life activities offer the best spark for story ideas. They are things your kid relates with on a day to day basis. For example, an animal like the neighbors Labrador. Your child could write about what s/he thinks its eats, how it relates with other animals, say your cat. Why does it usually bark etc.

  • Use prompts

A blank page may freak out your child and prevent creativity from taking over. All they need is a little nudge to get them going. Nothing provides a nudge like a prompt. A prompt could be anything from a question to the opening line of their favorite book. For example, ask a question like “would you prefer being really tall or really short? Why?” A child would enjoy such a prompt.

  • Rewrite or mash up stories

Rewriting a story invokes creativity within a child. It may be difficult to come up with new characters in a story, rewriting a known story helps the child use the familiar characters to develop a different plot. A good example is rewriting a fairy tale.

Mixing of characters from different stories to create one story is also good way of sparking creativity in a child. For example, combining a fairy princess from one story with a mermaid from a different story would make invoke creative writing in your kid with your help.

  • Use Pictures

Nothing inspires creativity live visual cues, this cannot be stressed enough. Use pictures from the family album or even wordless books and ask your child to write captions or even stories to go with the pictures. As it is said, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Honing creative writing skills

Writing skills require constant practice to perfect. As writers, you know that. The best way for any parent to improve creative writing of their kid, is to encourage daily reading and writing.

Every writer is a reader and any reader can be a writer. Cultivating the reading habit within your child expands your child’s mind and thus increasing creativity.

Writing is not always a smooth sail, sometimes it gets difficult. Teach your child how to plan before writing, this makes it easier for your child to write when needed to write difficult things.

Sometimes your child may be reluctant to want to write, this is normal for everybody and taking some time off would be good for your child.

In creative writing practicing is crucial as it builds better grammar and creativity. If your kid practices they may end up loving creative writing.

What are some ways you’ve found to help increase creative writing in kids?

Love Your Library

So, I received this email a few days ago about the value of higher education. It kind of looked like spam… well, it probably was. However, I thought it was interesting, none the less. The email linked back to a website called Webucator. First time I’d ever heard of it, and I haven’t really browsed it other than to read the related post. However, the email posed two questions:

  • Could you have gotten as much out of four years in the public library as you got out of college?
  • What would you do with a year in the public library now?

Ejumacate me!

I’m a huge fan of education… especially the good education (wink)(wink). I have a bachelor degree and a master degree. I started working toward a PhD but dropped out about a year or so before completing the program, when I decided psychology wasn’t truly a career I wanted to dedicate myself to. Now, I’m knocking out some prerequisites so I can earn a MBA. I’ve spent more of my adult life enrolled in school than not. For me, learning is very rewarding. Even when I’m not in school, I spend time researching and learning new things.

Public Library VS College

In my mind, the first questions is rather loaded. It makes the assumption that individuals will go to the public library for education if they opt out of college. I personally don’t go to the public library for education. I go for entertainment. Before eBooks were popular, I’d check out fiction. Those occasional instances I did check out non-fiction, it again for entertainment.

Entertaining Subject Matter

Maybe I wanted to learn how to craft something specific. Or perhaps I was interested in Victorian dresses in order to research a book. I was fascinated with bugs at one time and might have gathered books for the science section. However, my interest in non-fiction was never focused. The books I checked out wouldn’t have provided me the knowledge I needed to get my foot in any particular door, because my interests were so varied. Also, reading books typically is a lone project. I sit down and read without necessarily discussing it with other students or a professor to act as a mentor. There’s no one to challenge me when I read a book. It’s purely for entertainment.

Who’s Responsible?

Secondly, there’s no accountability for the books read in a public library. Finishing a degree or even taking specific classes gives the assurance that the student has learned key pieces of knowledge. I don’t have to learn anything when I go to the public library. I can just sit back, ready, and enjoy. What I retain, I retain. What I learn, I learn. What ever doesn’t happen, well… who cares? There’s more entertainment in the next book, which might be completely unrelated to the book I just read.

Now I’m Tracking

A big bonus for formal education is that it keeps me on track. I may not particularly enjoy the subject matter or the book knowledge required for a course or degree. However, knowing I have deadlines that are externally enforced keeps me on top of things. For me, that’s important, because it keeps me going; it keeps me focused on the end results… finishing the course or obtaining the degree. Others might work differently, but that’s me.

So, if I spent 4 years straight in a public library, I highly doubt I would have obtained the same knowledge as going to college. Now it’s certainly possible to obtain a college education in a public library. However, how many individuals are willing to do that? How many individuals will take the initiative to do so? I might have pose different question: Was the knowledge I obtained through college beneficial, applicable, and useful in the working world? Now that I’m a working girl, how much book knowledge do I still use?

A Year in the Public Library

Hmmm…. Just the idea of spending a year in a public library fills me with anxiety… almost a sense of claustrophobia. I hate to say it, but public libraries are outdated. They’re filled with books, most people would rather have in eBook format. They have sections of VHS and cassette tapes, which should be decommissioned to a museum. Why would I go to a library? For the quiet? Are the shush rules still enforced?

Earlier this week, I went to the state capitol. The library happened to be visiting and had an event to check out mystery books. Now when I say mystery books, I’m not talking about the genre. I’m talking about books wrapped in paper bags, so you can’t see what’s in them. On the outside was a clue to what kind of book it held. I picked up two. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten into reading, and I’d hoped those books would jumpstart my desire. However, even as I checked out these mystery books (which I still haven’t read), I couldn’t help think what a pain it’d be to flip through the pages or lay down in bed with a book vs reading a digital copy. I still haven’t opened the books to see what they are.

So… what would I do in a public library? Probably every thing I’d rather be doing at home… or perhaps I’d be doing less than what I’d be doing at home since the library has limitations I don’t have at home… like walking around in my underwear. 🙂

In Summary

There’s a place for formal education. That’s not to say, formal education couldn’t use some improvements. A large percentage of required courses don’t prepare individuals for real work. However, formal education does give an individual a little foundation. That way students can at least carry on an sensible conversation. Above all, I hope a student would learn some basic writing, math, or whatever skills. From there, work experience is there to help push an individual into expert-hood.

I think an even better approach would be to match formal education with work experience, similarly to what’s expected of doctors, nurses, or other programs which required internships/residencies. Make internships mandatory for all degrees rather than electives.

But let’s face it, public libraries are not the happening place they used to be. Downloading an eBook is far more convenient than visiting a library. Furthermore, digital books tend to be more convenient to read than physical books.

So, my not so humble opinion says public libraries lose this round.