Apr 27

Supporting the Writing Community

Representatives from Creative Word Lab are going to be out and about this evening supporting writers in our home community. Tonight at The Black Dog Arts Cafe there’s a special event called “Wine & Words.” Drink Wine. Listen to stories, poems, and other spoken word. Not a bad gig if you can get it. Also, you’re invited. A big thank you to Free Valley Publishing who’s putting on this event and supplying some special guests.

Apr 18

Welcome Book Projects

We’ve been busy editing tons and tons of book projects. Some of the projects we are unable to discuss because of contract obligations, but here’s a few that we are excited about:

Thomas Alexander‘s MISTRESS OF THE DANCING BONES

Editing this book and working with “Alex,” as he prefers to be called was great. The story is an epic fantasy with a vampiric twist. A strong female lead charges through this book like a fire dragon. We’re actually really looking forward to the next in this series…yes! it’s a series.

Another book that we’ve edited was Tonya Fraser‘s PROVIDENCE OF SOULS.

Editing this book and working with Tonya taught us a lot about helping a writer achieve their dreams. Tonya is busy writing her next book and we hope to help her get that one to print, too.

If you have a book you are looking to have edited, don’t hesitate to contact us. Editor@creativewordlab.com

Jun 11

3 Years of Word Lab Bliss

A big thank you to everyone for helping to make our dreams come true.  Today marks three years since Creative Word Lab opened its inky doors.

It’s been a roller coaster ride, but a ton of fun.

In honor of this, we’re going to be featuring a 30 percent discount on all

Presents for you on our 3rd anniversary in business!

Presents for you on our 3rd anniversary in business!

services through the month of June.

There’s no better time, then, to get that project done you’ve been wanting to do.

Contact us at info(at)creativewordlab(dot)com today!

Thanks for getting us this far!

Apr 21

Self-publishing does not mean self-editing: Hire an editor!

By Casondra Brewster

Creative Word Lab

 

Recently, I was offered another contract for editing – a novel manuscript – but when I read the first five pages of the work – I had to refuse. Even if I charged my top rate, which is still cheap by going-rate standards, the work would be so intense that it would take longer than it should, making it not worth my time.

This is the first time I’ve refused work. I hated to do it, especially given that I had that on the same day I had another contract decline. I need all the work I can handle and then some, at least until I start getting paid more often for the writing side of my freelance life. My editing rate is lower than the typical standard, because I’m still building my business. So, I work six days a week, sometimes seven. Refusing work seemed to go against my DNA coding. But, this manuscript was not ready for prime-time, folks.

It harkened me back to the fervor that has been happening over in Chuck Wendig’s world with his post regarding improving the reputation of self-publishing by not putting out, well – crap. Herr Wendig is a huge supporter of indie publishing, I believe. He’s a hybrid writer himself, successfully straddling both author-publishing and traditionally publishing chasm. And it is a chasm. Do both worlds put out trash? Yes – I’m always quick to tell you stories about the errors I’ve found in big-name author’s books; however, those instances are story-worthy simply because it happens less frequently. Is the scale heavier on the indie publishing side? It is. When Wendig says there is a self-publishing shit volcano out there and it’s a problem, I can’t disagree. The manuscript I refused to work with until, at least, the writer did another revision is only one such example.

Listen, all you self-publishing people: hire an editor. Every author I’ve worked with (and they are mostly in the author-publishing realm) are just floored when I return a manuscript to them with the errors I find – both mechanical and craft-wise. Some of these are manuscripts that the author has revised multiple times.

Yet, it’s amazing to me that so many writers do not know how to do proper punctuation. Many novelists are so caught up in their own world that they forget the reader doesn’t know what you know as the writer. Then there’s continuity errors, foreshadowing that is never fulfilled…and on and on. Recognize, at bare minimum, that we are human and make mistakes. Editors help ensure your mistake-ratio is harder to calculate.

Therefore, every manuscript needs a seasoned editor’s eye, regardless of frequency of revision. Especially, if the only other people you’ve had read it are your family and friends. The final product after they’ve paid me (or another professional editor) to do editing? A stronger sell in the market that is just inundated – near a million books a year between traditional publishing and self-publishing. You want something strong to stick out from the shit volcano, my darling fellow writers. If you have a good story, it won’t matter how it’s published. People will be drawn to it.

There’s been many other blog posts, outside of Wendig’s, recently by both traditionally published, as well as, indie-published writers who say, self publishing is an option. As creative word smiths we are in an incredible time with heavy opportunity to get our work out there. We should take advantage of it, but do so only after you’ve invested the time into properly vetting your work. It’s simple, the reason why:  if you don’t put a good product out there, no one is going to take you seriously. Your best friend might be a good beta reader for you and tell you, “Hey, that’s a great story.” But can you trust them to be objective? Can you trust your entire creative reputation on a best friend or spouse wanting to encourage you? Some folks have the rare relationship, where, yes, you can. But that’s the exception, not the rule.

Photo copyright A Geek Mom

Photo copyright A Geek Mom

Self publishing does not mean self-editing.That’s a horrendously bad idea. One of the reasons I haven’t self-published yet is because I don’t currently have the dough to shell out for a professional editor. I won’t self publish until I do. You want to add to the argument that self-publishing is less-than? Put out a manuscript that hasn’t been professionally edited. Be an example for the Big 5 (or six or three…whatever) and other indie-publishing naysayers as to why their format of traditional publishing is the only way to go. Personally, my goal is to be a hybrid author: one who is traditionally published and one who does author-publishing, as well. I won’t limit myself. But you bet your bootie I’m going to do it right. I won’t be an example for how to do it unprofessionally.

Jan 04

Bass Barber Shop has early holiday

This article and photo created by the folks here at Creative Word Lab. We can do the same for you!

 

Dec 11

Bass Barbershop opens doors

Bass Barbershop now open. Check it out!

Features precision cuts like flat-top

NORTH BEND, WA. — A new barber shop opened its doors in North Bend this month, featuring veteran barber and precision-cut specialist & shop owner, Debbie Bass.

 

Bass Barbershop opened its doors Dec. 3rd, when the paint was barely dry on the walls of the newly refurbished spot where Bad Girls Antiques used to reside.

 

“It’s so good to be doing what I love and do best,” Bass said. “Opening up this shop…well, it feels like I’m finally home.”

 

Bass said she welcomes the whole family into her barbershop home, too.

 

The shop features hair cutting services for men, women, and children at affordable prices, while specializing in flat-tops and other precision cuts for men. Discounted senior citizen cuts are also available.

 

The shop is opened 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. All cuts are on a walk-in basis.

 

Bass Barbershop is located at 42901 SE North Bend Way. Parking is available adjacent to the shop.

 

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MEDIA CONTACT:  Casondra Brewster, Creative Word Lab,  casz@creativewordlab.com

Nov 04

The Art of Coffee Comes to North Bend

Some of our handiwork for our client, Pioneer Coffee, as featured in the local paper.

http://www.valleyrecord.com/business/150968005.html

http://www.valleyrecord.com/business/179353991.html

 

 

Jun 18

School’s Out, Brain Is Not (How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain)

Ahhh…It’s summer break from school.  These few months for school-age kids circle around trips to the lake, long walks in the sun, pick-up baseball games, maybe even a sleep-away camp – any and all manner of fun!

As parents we’re happy for our kids to have some time to just be kids. But we know we have to creatively help them keep their academic skills sharp while still keeping summertime fun. Children who spend summer forgetting all about words and numbers and other academic pursuits start the next school year in a deficit. Research has shown that if you don’t keep your child’s brain engaged throughout the summer break, she could lose, on average, 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in math, and as much as a year (yes one whole year!) in language arts skills.

So how do you keep summer brain drain from happening and your student ready to dive in come September? You have to make learning fun! Most times you can do this without the child knowing they are actually learning. It’s all about fun layered with learning. It’s easier than you might think the first time they utter they are bored. Here’s seven ways to keep your kids reading, writing and arithmetic skills sharp over summer.

 

  1. Play.  Yes, play with your kids. Play scrabble. Play Connect Four. Get out all the board games (especially when rain washes out your picnic at the beach plans). Counting money in monopoly or the game of life may seem trivial, but it all works to hone those skills. Do crossword puzzles together. Find some “Mad Libs” and really work on nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs in a super silly and fun way. Most children learn more through play. Take advantage of that this summer.
  2. Follow the Boys of Summer. Yes, I’m talking baseball again. See, baseball is, to a degree, a game of statistics. Nothing more mathematical than statistics Take your kids to a baseball game. If you can swing it, a pro game is always a special treat. But local parks are hosting all manner of all-star, travel-team, and other community leagues. Or even just watch the race for the MLB World Series Pennant via television. Pick a team to follow. Then visit the sports section of your local newspaper, or via the MLB web site. Which team will win the most games? What is their win/loss percentage? What is your favorite player’s on-base percentage? For the player that has the most homeruns, how does his homerun percentage compare with his strike-out percentage?  Which pitcher has the most strike-outs and how does he compare mathematically to another pitcher on the same team.. (Yes, you could do this with the Olympics, soccer, or another favorite sport, too.)
  3. Competition of the Mind. Nothing like making a game of something to get the kids engaged (much like tip one). Plan to host a neighborhood spelling bee. You could even give away small prizes procured at the dollar store for the top speller. Gather together some of your fellow parents and host a BBQ with the main activity being a game of parents vs. kids in “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader” or “Jeopardy” game. Followed up with some three-legged races that make kids think about motion and physics is even better.
  4. Science Camp. No, I’m not saying you have to send them to NASA. But you can use some of the resources on the NASA Edge web site to come up with other science-specific ideas for summer. One of the easiest ways is to host a back-yard camp out and focus on things like astronomy, nocturnal animal life, even the science of how a marshmallow melts. You can also take a calendar and track the weather – forecast versus actual. And when summer is over you can compute the forecaster’s accuracy. Look science AND math. Check also for special community events like fishing clinics, conservation district classes, or outreach events that agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration put on. They host many science-focused, kid-friendly events, and often for free.
  5. Volunteer. Teaching our kids to be future leaders is just as important as the traditional three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic). But we also need to teach them about the other three R’s:  Respect yourself, respect others, respect your community. Find an organization that sparks their interest – an animal rescue, the children’s hospital, the local food bank, trails association or other environment-focused group, heck, even the local library sometimes has great volunteer opportunities. Pick one, volunteer, and have them experience something new. They will learn good citizenship, leadership, and sometimes how fortunate their own lives are.
  6. Rewards. Tie in reading with rewards. Many local libraries already do this, but you as a parent can up the ante. Ghost stories read to them around the campfire, audio books while you travel to grandma’s house on the other side of the state (or country), or the promise of a trip to the Tasty-Freeze after they finish and discuss with you the last book they wrote. Maybe get some other families together and start your own summer book club. Pick age-appropriate titles and meet at a local playground or park to get the bodies as well as the minds moving. If you’re not reading along with them, you’re doin’ it wrong. Good readers follow good examples. So, challenge yourself – parents – to read as many or more books than your children do.
  7. Writer’s Clubhouse. Summer is a great time to journal. Make a big deal of procuring a new notebook, too, if you like. If they pick out which one they will be writing it, it may help to keep them vested in the project. You can set up a calendar and for each day that your student journals, they can get a sticker on the calendar. You can set a reward system for a certain number of stickers (journal entries). Again these can be simple things (it does not have to be expensive) like a trip to the lake, a bike ride together, a matinee movie – many times the kids will come up with something as simple as “watch a movie with me.” This is where you can also encourage them to write their own stories. Again, grouping with another family to maybe have a “story” day. The kids write their stories and then you gather for a picnic, BBQ or play date and everyone tells their stories. For older students (teens), you can even try to send them out to get them published. Creative Word Lab does offer inexpensive mobile workshops to get kids excited about writing. Creative writers are normally better academic writers, too. So any time spent in poetry, novels, or even short stories, makes things like book reports, research papers, and the like easier. If you’re interested in these mobile workshops, just email us at workshops@creativewordlab.com.

 

Whether you choose to do one or all of these tactics, the whole point is to avoid the summer slide in academic skills. The point is you can help your children continue learning and keeping their skills sharp and still have a fun-packed summer, which makes for a much more successful September.

What ideas do you employ to keep the summer brain drain from happening to your children? Tell us!

Oct 30

Creative Word Lab to Reach Out to Unemployed Vets

 

Local business reaches out to unemployed vets

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Casondra Brewster

Email:  casz@creativewordlab.com

 

NORTH BEND – A news story circulating the media says that nearly a quarter of a million jobless vets are part of the 9 percent unemployment. One of the biggest reasons is not due to injuries or disabilities received during their service time, but the fact that military experience does not easily translate into the civilian sector.

Creative Word Lab, a local business in the Snoqualmie Valley, is offering unemployed vets job searching help.

“We can help their resumes and cover letters translate the military jargon into corporate speak,” said Casondra Brewster, Creative Word Lab’s owner. “As a vet myself, I’ve walked in both worlds. I can assist them in applying the advantage of military service. You know the one that recruiters and retention sergeants told you would have when you got out of the service?”

The professional writing and business communication services firm is offering a program where they will work with vets to help them turn their oftentimes over-looked skills in leadership as well as their technical skills into marketable items on job applications and resumes. The best part? There is no fee until the vet finds a job and has received their first paycheck.

“Creative Word Lab’s fee is very low to begin with, but even then we work with Veterans to make sure that a first paycheck is helping them get on their feet,” Brewster said. “In the past, most folks have found the resume-writing services we provide to be well worth the investment of the fee.”

But unlike similar services, she added, Brewster understands the military veteran job seeker and what things like M.O.S., NCO, and ROEs mean. “All of those things translate to the civilian corporate world,” Brewster said. Creative Word Lab also can help vets look for other helpful resources if necessary. “Transition from being a service member to joe-shmoe is one of the hardest things anyone can do; I know. I’ve been there. I learned a lot and want to help where my skills work best.”

For details or inquiries on the service, Brewster can be contacted at casz@creativewordlab.com.

Jul 17

We met our goal! Thank you!

Operations Write for Baseball was a huge success and we reached our goal yesterday! That includes a few “mail-in” donations, which is fantastic, too. We’re still doing the video, and there will still be expressions of gratefulness and appreciation. Many of you have asked to be anonymous. You will forever be known as Tank’s Baseball Dream Supporters Extraordinaire! Thank you for helping a 10-yr-old’s dream come true.

Coach emailed me because he heard through the hollow snakes that there was a chance Tank couldn’t go. I told him, not to worry. Our reservations and fees were all in. Tank ended up having supporters all over the world (we got an international donation, too).

Again, I’m still floored from all of this. I am also inspired. I have so many story ideas. Some of them, perhaps will make it into print, which will be further evidence to everyone’s kindness, I hope.

Thumbs up for all the Live Your Dreams supporters from Tank!