My recent "Find an Ontario Maple Syrup Festival near Toronto in 2015" was inspired by a televised news report, which explained a challenge faced by the local conservation centre in planning their upcoming maple sugar festival.

I did some research to verify what had been said, summarized it, and added pointers to several of the nearby
maple syrup festivals in Ontario. For good measure, I also added a link to for a Kindle collection of maple syrup recipes.
"Collecting Maple Sap for Maple Syrup" image by Bobolink (Robert Taylo) under CC license.

One Writing Tip made from Maple Syrup

I'm tempted to repeat an old writing tip: accept inspiration from any source; be open to noticing topics that you can use.

But here's one new writing tip, instead: once inspired, check the facts from another source before committing them to your own article.

In this case, the TV interview mentioned the weather conditions that challenged the upcoming festival. I knew that the information was accurate.

But I found a reputable online source anyway, double-checked the optimum conditions for harvesting maple sap, and linked back to that URL.

One reason is to ensure your own accuracy. Even if you quote some people directly, it's good to fact-check what they claimed, and note any errors they made.

The other part is to cite your authoritative sources, so your readers will know why they should trust your article.

Thanks for reading my article about several
Ontario maple syrup fsestivals near Toronto in 2015.
I just wrote "Why Write Two Running Tips for Cold Weather?" to explain two reasons for writing "Two Cold Weather Running Tips from Two Frigid Days".

Regular readers of this Blog of Writing are now asking, "What writing tip can Mike possibly add, since the DeHaan Services article explains why he wrote the DeHaan Fitness post"?
"A Halifax Harrier (UK) Demonstrates Cold Weather Running" image by AdamKR under CC license

One Writing Tip Adapted from Writing about Tips for Running

The inspiration for writing the article on cold weather running was that another runner didn't know one specific tip for running in cold weather. Perhaps he was just beginning running in winter; maybe he'd simply forgotten that one tip for running in the cold.

Then I realized that I use different writing styles in DeHaan Fitness versus DeHaan Services, which differs again from my writing for science or promotional copy.

Here's the writing tip.

Include some promotional notes, when appropriate, and especially in your main blog(s). By explaining why (and how) I change my "voice" in different situations, I'm pitching my skills to potential clients.
I applied one of my recent writing tips to the new pair of articles in DeHaan Services.

I had decided to get a jump on March Break in Toronto. (That may be better known as "spring break" in the USA. The province calls it the "mid-winter break", but no-one else seems to use that term).

Then I realized the 2015 March Break week includes St. Patrick's Day, so there were really two articles to write.
"Shamrocks for St Patricks Day" by puamelia under CC license.

The 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto

My "2015 St Patricks Day Parade and Races in Toronto" now must cover two road races, in addition to the long-running St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto.

These Sunday events take place just before March Break week.

2015 March Break in Toronto

"Enjoy a Frugal Toronto March Break 2015" also starts on the weekend before the school holiday, because several of the special programs do start then.

Of course the main focus covers the week days; but some programs also spill over into the following weekend.

That's actually a great thing, since parents may have trouble taking time from work to escort their children during the work week.

To Repeat a Writing Tip

As soon as I noticed the first St. Patrick's Day event when I was busy researching the 2015 March Break events, one recent writing tip sprang to mind. In case you don't remember... and this was your last chance...

Research multiple topics at once, if they all pop up in the same source material.

In my case, one Toronto museum had planned some St. Patrick's Day activities; more had special activities for March Break.

So I decided to research both at once, keeping separate notes.

Although I haven't yet written about the museum event honouring St. Patrick's Day, it was quite productive for me to spend one session researching multiple topics. Probably more efficient that starting multiple "research, then write" sessions, in my view.

Your results may vary! What you might gain from studying one web site's variety of programs may be lost if your notes get sloppy. And it's not likely to help if you research multiple school assignments at once; not if you're trying to learn and explain new concepts in your essays.

But in some cases, you may find that researching several topics in one web site is efficient. There is a discipline, and your skill can improve, if you try it a few times.

Thanks for reading this writing tip, even if it's posted a second time because I researched the 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade in Toronto at the same time as the 2015 March Break in Toronto.
Yesterday I published "2015 Chinese New Year in Toronto, the Year of the Sheep" in my DeHaan Services blog, barely in time for the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19.

However, I did learn something new in the process of writing about Chinese New Year 2015... more accurately, while updating my article.
"Chinese Lion Dance for Chinese New Year 2009" image by Maureen Didde under CC license

One Writing Tip from Writing an Article Twice

I learned my new writing tip because I was not satisfied with the original article. There were not enough events to make it worthwhile for my readers.

When I poked, rather desperately, at one of the resource sites that I use for some of my articles about events in Toronto, I found that they actually carried more information. And it was better organized in one section, for my purposes, than the sections I'd been using beforehand.

My writing tip for you is to look at your familiar source materials with fresh eyes, at least from time to time. Give yourself an unrealistically tight deadline, or just refuse to do things the way you've always done them.

You might not find a gem that way; but you surely won't find anything new unless you look in new places or in new ways.
This week, I'd begun research for a Valentine's Day article for my DeHaan Services blog. Since I knew that several civic museums in Toronto hold special programs for St. Valentine's Day, I began checking what they might offer.

Quickly I found that several Toronto museums also offer children's activities and projects for Family Day in Ontario, which also falls around this time. Bingo, there's another article to write!

I took notes for each holiday, and soon wrote a pair of articles.

"Two Toronto Museums for Valentines Day 2015" covers the one topic. Actually, they happen to offer somewhat similar approaches. You may be surprised at what they have in common.

"Enjoy the 2015 Ontario Family Day in 6 Toronto Museums" covers the other topic. Obviously it's more popular with museums in Toronto.

One Writing Tip from Twin Articles

This writing tip encourages you to try breaking up your writing into two sections:

  1. Research.
  2. Writing

I didn't start with the idea of researching several related topics at once. The material I found just forced itself on me.

You can be smarter about it. Plan ahead, pick some related topics that you can research from a few places. Split up the information, then write each article.
I wrote "The Tortoise and Hare Approach to Running Pace" today based on an insight from simply completing a training run.

I thought of this familiar Aesop's Fable because I started running at a turtle's pace.

To promote my fitness article in my DeHaan Services blog, I put more of the focus on Aesop's fables; see
"Fitness with the Tortoise and the Hare".
"Red-eared turtles in wetland environment in Iowa" image by Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

One Runner's Writing Tip

When I finished my run, I realized that I had just learned a lesson that had a bit in common with "The Tortoise and the Hare". At least, the slow start was similar to that reptile's.

But the writing tip is to pay attention to any insights you gain in the course of everyday living. As a writer, make that something you can share!

Even if you're not writing in the "self-help" field, any random insight can lead to a new article. If you think there's a link between unrelated new items, do some research and make your case. Does new space exploration by newcomers (whether SpaceX corporation or national projects by India or China) affect global oil prices? Are Internet privacy concerns related to Common Core adjustments to teaching? Did you make your life more efficient or pleasant?

Write about it. Make someone's day "fable-ous".
Writing for a new branch of the Decoded "Empire" led me back here to Weebly. My first article in Decoded Plants is "Green Math: How to Apply Geometry to a Square Foot Garden".

Mel Bartholomew invented Square Foot Gardening to make more efficient use of a garden plot. It's also easier to plan "one square foot" of garden, compared to "how do I fill a 20x20' garden with plants"?

My article shows how geometry gives more creative options than a simple rectangular garden plot, and also the optimum spacing for plants within each individual square.

Here's a photo of a simple planning tool: put some circles into a square and see how they may fit.

"3 Circles Fitting into a Square Foot Garden". Copyright image by Mike DeHaan @

One Writing Tip for Geometry

One simple writing tip for "how to do this" articles arose from this project. The green circles fit nicely inside the square, in the first picture.

That was not my first attempt to illustrate the technique!

I had naively tried to fit the circles touching the two diagonal corners of the square. So the larger red circles bulged out of that enclosure! I actually published that image, also, and explained what that would mean for gardening. Follow the link to my article to how I handled that!

So today's writing tip is to actually test what you plan to recommend, by following your own directions. It's okay to surprise yourself; just don't make your readers suffer for it.

As always, I also publicized my Decoded... article in DeHaan Services. I'd published my original images in
"Previewing One Example of Applied Geometry" to establish my copyright before they would appear in Decoded Plants.

"Three Modern Mennonite Hymnals on a Quilt" image by Mike DeHaan

On Sept. 14, I decided to take an alternative approach to promoting the Toronto Mennonite Festival.

My focus had been on the quilt auction, which may be a unique opportunity in Toronto.

However, the festival also offers about an hour of 4-part singing in the Mennonite Meeting House. It's another building in Black Creek Pioneer Village, the venue for this whole event.

So then I wrote a new article, "Mennonite Singing in Toronto at Black Creek Pioneer Village", to publicize that opportunity.

I'd also updated the "Fun and Musical Activities" page in the Toronto Mennonite Festival web site.

This also gave me the chance to promote the three current Mennonite hymnals, shown in my photo above.

In addition, I mentioned the Junction Music Festival (on Dundas St. West) as well as the Manifest Live music and dance event at Yonge Dundas Square. After all, many of my DeHaan Services articles mention free or frugal events in Toronto.

One Writing Tip for Multi-Purpose Articles

I'd already written about the Toronto Mennonite Festival and its quilts in "Two Quilt Events at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto". Why write about it again?

The first reason is that it deserves more publicity, since it's a good cause with a very limited budget for promotion. (Disclosure: My unpaid role is to promote it).

Secondly, I found another angle: the music rather than the quilts. Just as my "Two Quilt Events..." article multi-tasked for two events, so does "Mennonite Singing...".

Finally, my article multi-tasks by providing new keywords for advertising. The first article was all about quilts; this was about the music. In fact, I added Amazon links so Skimlinks could monetize any clicks.

So the writing tip for multi-purpose articles is to plan ahead! In my case, I needed to:

  • Promote an event...
  • Using new keywords to attract new readers...
  • While monetizing my article with descriptions and links to products.

    Thanks for reading about multi-purpose promotional articles!
Back in August, I'd written "Two Quilt Events at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto" to publicize two quilt shows.

["A Quilt Hung for an Auction" image by Les_Stockton].

Actually the first was a quilt show and sale called "Quilts in the Creek". Black Creek Pioneer Village partnered with
York Heritage Quilters Guild in August 2014.

The Toronto Mennonite Festival runs its annual quilt auction on the third Saturday of September. The quilt auction is the major fundraiser that day, although they also sell very good food. This event, formerly known as "Black Creek Pioneer Village MCC Relief Sale", supports Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) financially.

MCC pursues "
relief, development and peace around the world". (That's relief as "famine relief" and "disaster relief", mainly in the Third World).

Disclosure: I serve on the Toronto Mennonite Festival board as a member of one of the supporting churches. I also sell Sloppy Joes (and a vegetarian version we call "Veggie Joes") at this festival. But I'm not paid for doing those things, and I'm not paid to advertise these events.

A Writing Tip for Disclosures

Today's simple writing tip is to include a simple disclosure when you write about something in which you have an otherwise-hidden vested interest.

If I were to write about "my DeHaan Services business", then it would be obvious that
I'm promoting something for myself. I wouldn't write a disclosure because I would have said "Contact me for your writing needs"! If you blog about walking your own dog, it's overtly about you; but there's no need for a disclosure unless you also walk other people's dogs for a living.

In the above article, you'd never guess that I have any involvement in the Toronto Mennonite Festival... until the disclosure.

When I promote other events, I include a "no relationship" disclaimer. See what I mean near the end of "Find the Beach Celtic Festival 2014 in Toronto".

Thanks for reading about these quilt auction, show and sale events at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto.

A Writing Tip for Joint Blogs

(Added Sept. 13, 2014). Part of my mandate with the Toronto Mennonite Festival is publicity; but that is shared with several other Board members.

I couldn't post the pictures of the quilts until the people who collect and store these items had photographed and e-mailed the images. Once I began posting them, an alert reader asked "What size are these quilts"?

Oops! That's important for people bidding on the quilts; but due to an oversight no-one told me.

This writing tip says: when you collaborate on a writing project, specify who gathers the information; what data is required; and then be sure that all the facts get to the writer.

By all means, scroll through the Toronto Mennonite Festival's quilt auction page to see the latest quilts donated to raise money to support Mennonite Central Committee's projects in development, relief and social justice.
Picture"Three Clocks Care Not for Daylight Savings Time" image by servus @
My recent article in DeHaan Services, "Make Time for 2014 Daylight Savings Time in Canada", is just in time for the change to DST in both Canada and in the USA.

It includes a note about changing the batteries in your smoke detectors, and a link to the whole world's scheduled dates for switching between DST and Standard Time.

I also mention doing some comparison shopping online for a brand-name
alkaline 9 volt battery pack. Frankly, I was surprised that the web retailer's price was lower than the local hardware store's regular price.

I classify my article as a public service announcement.

One Timely Writing Tip for a PSA

Today's writing tip suggests a category for your blog.

Do you blog about handy tips and tricks? Do you cover current events? If your writing topics include facts or practical life suggestions, read on. (If you cover gossip, jokes, or your inner feelings... this category might not be for you).

Try including a PSA (Public Service Announcement) article in your blog from time to time.

One reason for writing a timely PSA, such as my Daylight Savings Time topic, is that there is a spike in readers looking for that information. News agencies and casual acquaintances mention a current topic, so they contribute the "buzz" for that news.

Another reason: the topic is right there in front of you. You may have been stuck for the theme for a blog post; but now you have your inspiration.

If you already are building a reputation for facts, helpful hints or practical suggestions for people to follow, then your reputation as a credible source lends weight to your PSA article.

On the other hand, it's not such a good idea to add one serious category to a blog that normally doesn't carry such themes. It's all a matter of building credibility as well as satisfying your audience. If they come to you for laughs or tears, they probably don't want to read your advice on when to set their clocks for Daylight Savings Time.

Thanks for reading about Daylight Savings Time in 2014.

    Mike DeHaan

    Mike DeHaan began writing professionally in 2010 as the sole proprietor of DeHaan Services.To see this information with the best background image, please refer to "About.Me",  befriend me at Facebook, or circle me at Google+.


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