Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Bloggers in business"/ "Want fries with that?"

Mar. 9, 2017 "Bloggers in business": I cut out this article by Jodie Sinnema in the Edmonton Journal on Nov. 28, 2014.  It was about blogging and I blog, so of course I had to read it:

EDMONTON – They aren’t making close to $1 million like their elite counterparts in the United States, but Edmonton fashion bloggers are starting to turn their fashionista hobbies into potentially lucrative businesses.

Already, local bloggers are influencing tens of thousands of people worldwide who follow them on Instagram and admire a style that seems far more attainable and personal than that on stick-thin models.

“Fashion magazines are still doing OK (but) they’re not doing as good as they did,” said Janis Galloway, who started fashion blogging in 2009, when there were only a handful of young, local women posting fashionable photos of themselves on the web. “I think around that time, 2009, 2010, people were so sick of looking at photo-shopped images of skinny models wearing clothing they are never going to be able to afford and all of a sudden this blogging came along. ‘Oh, this is a real person with a real body.’ ”

While critics suggest the endeavour can be narcissistic, or the posts on Outfits Of The Day, boring and self-centred, fashion bloggers provide an empowering alternative to runway fashion.

Galloway began by posting general photos of stylish things she saw in stores, then progressed to posting photos of herself in outfits (mostly vintage), her head purposefully cut out of the frame because she felt silly and terrified. Family and friends were her chief blog followers, but when she began including her face in her posts, and writing about Edmonton models, designers and boutiques, her popularity skyrocketed. Suddenly, she had 25,000 hits each month to her blog site.

“It’s attainable clothing, and especially if it’s someone in your city, you can say you can buy this here,” Galloway said. It’s a bigger scale version of asking a co-worker at the water cooler where she bought her shoes or sweater. “Almost the democracy of fashion was starting to happen.”

There are now hundreds of fashion bloggers based in Edmonton, some with niches such as do-it-yourself crafting, thrifting for second-hand clothing or postings for larger-sized women.

After her day job as a visual trainer for the Reitmans Group of stores (making sure they all have the same look and feel), Lyndsey Forest, 25, spends most evenings working on her fashion blog called Over My Styled Body. Her boyfriend takes most of her photos, a phenomenon common for many fashion bloggers, meaning breakups can be a career minefield.

It’s a lot of work: making a schedule of blog posts, since she receives free products in the mail from companies every other day and has a waiting list. She then uses Reward Style, an American-based invite-only company that helps bloggers monetize their postings. Forest finds her exact outfit — the sparkly dress from Tobi, for instance, a bag from Le Chateau — or even similar replicas online at the Reward Style website, then uses the provided links on her blog.

If her fans click the link, then buy that item online or even another item from the same store through that link, Forest earns a commission. Most companies offer five to 10 per cent of the cost, she said. While that might bring in 90 cents on one item, Forest could earn $30 to $40 if someone purchases an expensive dress from Anthropologie.

“Bloggers that wear all the name-brand looks, they’re generating quite a bit of revenue,” Forest said. “Some bloggers can make up to $30,000 a month.”

So far, Forest brings in an average of $300 to $400 a month.

“Some months I make more, some months I make less. That’s the game of blogging,” she said.

In the last two years, Forest has also earned 6,000 blog fans, 10,000 followers on Instagram and has another 16,000 to 18,000 connections through a fashion app called Pose.

“I think everyone likes to look into other people’s lives a bit and see what they’re wearing and they’re curious.”

Forest said she only blogs about items and styles she loves to wear and doesn’t accept freebies she wouldn’t blog about normally.

“I’ve never really felt used in that sense (by companies wanting promotion),” she said. “I’m pretty stern about what companies I will work with … I see it more as I’m collaborating and it’s more of a partnership with the companies.”

That’s the difference between fashion bloggers and models, Galloway said. Models wear whatever clothes they’re asked to. Bloggers have a collaborative relationship with companies because companies are starting to need them.

“People want to be told by someone they trust what to buy. They don’t want to hear it from companies anymore,” Galloway said. “I think that’s what brands are recognizing, is bloggers — they have dedicated fans already. They have an authentic following of people who are interested in them and follow them so the benefit of partnering with a fashion blogger is that you’re going to get something unique. It’s not a billboard.”

But that’s the conundrum for fashion bloggers: in some sense, they are advertisements.
When Galloway became known as the Dress Me Dearly face after the name of her blog, savvy businesses began noticing her and started sending free items her way.

“That was really exciting in the beginning,” Galloway said. “But then you have this, ‘Oh, I got this free product,’ (and) you feel obligated that you now have to blog about it.”

Galloway began sending unsolicited items back and has largely stopped posting fashion photos of herself. She says the biggest bloggers in the United States remain thin and beautiful and are now all wearing high-end clothing.

“Capitalism gets its hands on everything,” she said. “Marketing has got a hold of blogging and is now in control of it.”

Not that Galloway is against fashion bloggers or marketing. Her own blog connected her with the fashion world in Edmonton and now, she makes a living as a fashion ambassador of Simons, Doc Martens and French Connection, and works as a personal stylist, among other contracts.

Yet she believes fashion bloggers have a limited lifespan posting multiple photos of themselves online.

“I think people are getting tired of it now,” Galloway said. “You have to branch out and do something else to survive.”

That’s what Alyssa Lau is doing, working part time in public relations for Coup Boutique and part time selling sustainable and ethical fashion through her new, online store called New Classics Studios. She launched her Ordinary People fashion blog in 2011 with her cousin.
Lau, 22, has become a very popular fashion icon internationally with 32,000 Instagram followers and more than 70,000 hits to her website a month.

Yet she said she’s too lazy to use Reward Style to earn commission on clicks, despite encouragement from her boyfriend, who also takes many of her photos.

“You don’t want to come across like you’re trying to sell everything,” Lau said. “I don’t push myself to make money, I guess. Even though it’s great and I’ve got so many opportunities through it, it’s always been a hobby.”

Yet she has earned between $1,500 and $2,000 monthly by collaborating on projects with companies such as ShopBop and Revolve (online boutiques with retailers around the world).

“I think fashion bloggers are inspiring because you know they’re real,” she said. At the same time, she accepts criticism. “I think that blogging is such a self-centred and egotistical and sartorial activity, I guess, if that’s what you want to call it, and I think as long as you acknowledge that and you still remain more grounded somehow, it’s fine. That’s how I do it.”

"Want fries with that?": I found this article by Lisa Armstrong in the Edmonton Journal on Nov. 28, 2014.

Black sweatshirt patch-worked with flags, demi-shaved, carrot-top quiff, adidas trainers cunningly designed to resemble a kind of two-tone brogue, tofu salad - Jeremy Scott blends right in with the sleek, international crowd murmuring over their lapsang in Claridge's.

The love affair between rap stars - to whom 41-year-old Scott bears far more resemblance than the average fashion designer - and olde-worlde five star hotels is as ancient as the Beastie Boys, and in its way, a clear demonstration of his world-view. "I don't think the distinction between high and low culture exists any more," he says in his soft, considered Missouri tones. "McDonald's, Barbie - they're all icons, recognizable from London to Timbuktu."

True enough. Yet the McDonald's collection he designed for his debut last February at Moschino, the much loved 31-year-old Italian label, achieved the near impossible: it genuinely shocked the fashion establishment. 
The degree of unease it inspired is odd, since Franco Moschino, the label's founder, rejoiced in taking jokey shots at the fashion system. It wasn't just the combination of Big Mac French fries yellow and ketchup red at a house that had, for the past two decades, reliably produced little black dresses and boucle jackets that alarmed. This was a youthquake that rattled the foundations of Milan, that most staid of fashion capitals.

Perhaps because of the rapid, democratising changes in the business brought about by the internet (everyone can critique a fashion show instantly now), it felt too close for comfort. Some of the establishment didn't bother to return for his second show in September . They missed an homage to Barbie, with roller-skating models in platinum wigs, bubblegum pink lipstick and shrunken fuchsia leather. 
"Honestly, it shocks me that people found it so shocking…" Scott says, eyes still popping with what looks convincingly like hurt. But he's not really hurt, he insists. "I'm glad it inspired dialogue, because so few things do today."

Fashion's grander dames may find his world view problematic in an era that fetishizes luxury, and where the accepted business model is to woo the stratospherically rich with artisanally crafted skins and four-ply cashmere. The under-30s adore it however. This is not the aspirational suction they might feel towards a coolly aloof (and way out of their price range) label such as Saint Laurent, another brand that is unashamedly by-passing the approval of respected fashion critics to appeal directly to the youth market, but a genuine affection for a fancy fashion house selling them stuff they can afford.

Moschino's McDonald's phone-cases, (£45), available immediately after that first show, became such a cult that versions created out of real McDonald's cardboard packaging started appearing on Instagram - a post-post-modern joke that tickled Scott mightily. A similar success seems assured for his looking glass, pink rubber Barbie phone case .

It's not exclusively youth who appreciate the levity. At last week's Harrod's launch of Toy, Scott's first perfume for the house, the throng of excitable fans - that probably is the best word - waiting to buy the "woody" scent in its fluffy teddy bear bottle (a tribute to Franco Moschino's 1988 bear-festooned dress), included "at least one eager client who must have been about 70", reports Scott.
But let's not get bogged down in age. Moschino hasn't been this hot since the Eighties. Whether or not it's ironic is a moot point. The queues to get into the Barbie show were unprecedented, with crowds standing three deep at the back. This is not normal in the tightly marshalled environment of fashion shows. 
Scott himself professes to love Barbie and not see any problems with the cultural reach of her unrealistic body proportions. "I really don't see little girls growing up and thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to morph myself so I look like Barbie'…I know that famously in the UK Jodie Marsh [the "glamour model" who has undergone extensive cosmetic surgery on her body] said she blamed all her ills on Barbie - but, no, it's you . You've extended your breasts…Barbie's a doll . That's all. It's make-believe". 
It's possible not to agree entirely with Scott, but hard to dislike him. He is courteous, thoughtful and - unusually in fashion - unpretentious. "I don't care if the critics don't like me. I want to be the people's designer, like Diana was the people's princess. Fashion," he avers, "should be joyous."

I think he really means this. He probably has the least complicated relationship with fashion of any designer I've met. Growing up, it literally saved him.
His teenage years sound very Lord of The Flies. He was beaten up daily, he says, for walking down the street in clothes that didn't meet the approval of his denim-wearing peers. "Missouri was devoid of fashion. No chicante at all. My fashion leaning is a miracle," he muses, although thinking about it, he says, it could be a throwback to his farming grandparents. "My grandmother was always making hats, tea-cosies, out of the plastic bags the vegetables came in." 
At five he was cutting his own hair - nothing unusual about that, apart from the reverberations. "My dad told me the police would come and get me because I didn't have a licence to cut hair. I was so terrified I hid in a cupboard for days. I didn't realize my dad was lying until I was about 12…" He sounds outraged, albeit jokily so.

Perhaps part of him enjoyed the response this transgression provoked. By 14, there he was in cattle country, deciding to become a vegetarian and enrolling in French classes because he'd figured out he needed to end up in Paris in order to design clothes. He stuck out the French, in the face of dwindling attendance from the rest of his classmates. "I remember laughing hysterically the day I left school," he says, "because I realised I never had to see any of those people again."

The path to his chosen career was not smooth. A letter from New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, one of America's most prestigious fashion college, informed him: "I was lacking in - let me get this right - creativity, originality and artistic talent. I was shattered. When my portfolio eventually returned, all the art work was folded up into little pieces. Now I can imagine that whoever wrote that letter must have been so horribly upset with their own life, but it's just so…rude." 
Eventually he made it to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and was so thrilled at being accosted by people who wanted to compliment the 1880s and 1980s mash up he was wearing, that he began to look even further afield. At 21 he pitched up in Paris with six suitcases, no money and not a single contact. "To be honest, I hadn't really thought it out."

Some nights he slept on the Metro, but within a year he'd made enough friends to stage his first show. Not many journalists turned up, but one who did hosted a fashion show on French TV and featured Scott prominently. By his third show fashion's elite - including designers Raf Simons (now head of Dior) and Hedi Slimane (Saint Laurent) - were in the front row. Tom Ford later became an unlikely champion.

Six and a half years later, he'd moved to LA (against Anna Wintour's and most of the industry's advice); won the Venus fashion award for best newcomer (twice); picked up a nomination from the CFDA; and forged a successful relationship with adidas. "The people in Paris were completely supportive and charming," he says. "I know that's befuddling, but that's how it was."

Maybe it's his apparent lack of business guile that charms. "I am so not a business man," he insists, recounting how, when he was interviewed by Parson's College, they asked him who he thought his customer might be. "I said, 'I guess that would be my friends', and they said, 'that so isn't going to work' ."

It was prophetic on his part, however: the legions of Scott-ites see him as one of them. Yet for a long time, he didn't seem to harbour any ambitions to sell his clothes at all. "I was so busy sewing every single stitch myself for the show, there was no time to make a selling collection." Around his third show, a woman made her way up to his sixth floor walk-up apartment in Paris's 20th arrondissement to try and persuade him to sell her some pieces.

"She was really getting on my nerves to tell the truth, so in the end I said, 'OK, you can have some samples'." The store she represented turned out to be Colette, the immensely influential concept boutique on the Rue Saint-Honoré. 
LA's sunlit lifestyle suits him, as does its music industry eco system. Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears (most notably in her air-stewardess uniform in the Toxic video) all wear his clothes. Katy Perry, whom he first began dressing when she was making religious music, flew to Milan for his first Moschino show.

It never occurred to him that he couldn't design an Italian label out of LA. Slimane is based there, as is Rick Owens. "It's not as if we all hang out - although I have dinner with Hedi now and then. We're all working really long hours, but that's how the industry is. It's all so international now."

To those who say his humour is a blunter instrument that Franco Moschino's, he responds: "mine isn't ironic. I genuinely love the things I play with in the collections." As for those customers who require camel cashmere coats: "I think there's enough of that out there already.

"To be honest," he adds, looking this camel cashmere lover sweetly in the eye, "I don't really think of that stuff as fashion at all".

"In blog business, sky's the limit"

Sept. 13, 2016 "In blog business, sky's the limit": I cut out this article by Aleesha Harris in the Edmonton Journal on Aug. 22, 2014.  It was about blogging and I'm interested in that.  So of course,  I had to cut it out:

They are snapped on red carpets, seated beside top editors in the front row at fashion weeks around the world, and sign five-digit promotional deals with big-name brands. They are coiffed, styled and made-up within an inch of their sartorial lives, sporting an array of brands from Alexander Wang to Zara.

No, they are not Hollywood celebrities. They are fashion bloggers.

The world of fashion blogging has exploded in recent years thanks to the increasingly prolific popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. And the hobby has quickly become a viable career for a growing group of international fashion elite — largely young women aged in their 20s — a phenomenon that is cropping up closer to home, as well.

These days, you could throw a designer duffel bag in virtually any direction in Vancouver and hit a fashion or lifestyle blogger.

And a few of these style-savvy online authors are steadily increasing their well-heeled footholds in the industry, garnering the attention of readers and brands in the local market — and beyond.

Alexandra Grant, the founder of the Vancouver fashion blog To Vogue or Bust, has been in the game for more than four years — and just recently went full-time.

The 27-year-old started her blog as an outlet for her writing ambitions after graduating college but never imagined it would turn into a full-time career.

“I had finished my degree (in Psychology) at the University of Victoria and I had always written — that was my thing — but I didn’t see a practical or clear-cut path to fashion journalism,” Grant said.

So she packed up and moved to Toronto for a stint at Fashion magazine before returning to the West Coast.

“I had just come back from Toronto and was at a crossroads about what to do next. At the time, I don’t think I had the business acumen to really pull it off, so I really grew the blog by a lot before I started full-time.”

While she nursed her blog, Grant worked at the Vancouver-based fashion brand Obakki, looking after the social media side of the business while she did the same for To Vogue or Bust.

“Developing that brand and still growing my blog on the side and still seeing consistent growth in numbers really inspired me to take that full-time leap and start focusing on it in a more serious way,” she said.

“I was already netting more (from my blog) than at my job for six months straight.”
Now, drawing nearly 100,000 visitors to her blog each month, Grant is considered one of the top style bloggers in the city.

She has inked brand partnerships with a wide range of companies including 424 Fifth, Aritzia, GAP and Roots.

Brand partnerships, which are increasingly common in the blogosphere, net bloggers a talent fee that can range from $500 to several thousands of dollars per campaign, which typically consist of a blog post and several social media mentions.

“It’s really a massive sliding scale,” she said of the talent fees.

Grant also earns money from hosting in-store events for companies. The success with her brand collaborations has allowed her the ability to take her blog in a broader direction.

“When I started four years ago, it was still very much about self-expression and individuality … there wasn’t as much of an emphasis on bloggers making dollars,” she said. “Since then, I obviously use my blog to make money — it’s a business. I use it for a launch pad for other business initiatives, whether it’s contract work or the jobs that I get.”

For Grant, it’s a balancing act between promotion and sales, though.

As has become the norm among bloggers who accept “gifted” items or participate in sponsored post campaigns, Grant labels her content with a “care of” (often written as “c/o”) or “sponsored,” so readers are aware of any potential product biases.

When asked how she keeps the balance of her personal style amid of deluge of free merchandise from brands and public relations teams, Grant was decidedly frank.

“I definitely made mistakes when I first began getting gifted because you get so excited that someone is sending you anything that you accept whatever,” she said. “I had a closet full of duds that I didn’t know what to do with.”

Grant says she now turns away items, “quite consistently.” She says she only accepts pieces she would go out and purchase herself.

“That way, even if I happen to have an outfit that is totally gifted, it’s still my style and I would have totally bought those pieces,” she explained.

“For me, because I come from a more editorial background, I’m not so much a seller as much as I like to build narratives and have a story,” she said of the emerging seller’s culture among fashion and lifestyle bloggers.

For Grant, it’s more about the story than the sales.

“I would rather build a business and a more consistent income through streams that I’m most passionate about,” she said.

“But I’ve noticed in the blog landscape in general there is an emphasis on affiliate links and whatever else. It’s becoming very populated in terms of bloggers who are out there to make millions.”

And believe it or not, some bloggers are doing just that — making millions.

A recent article by Women’s Wear Daily reported that American blogger Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies is set to make more than $900,000 in affiliate advertising revenue this year — though the blogger herself has yet to officially confirm the number.

So what is affiliate advertising and how does it work? Bloggers promote or purchase items that they style and feature on their blogs. Then, through third party companies, or sometimes through the brands themselves, the bloggers earn a varying commission rate each time a reader clicks from their blog through to the brand’s online store and makes a purchase. More purchases equal more paycheques.

Blogger Cara McLeay, the Vancouver blogger behind A Fashion Love Affair, has ventured beyond brand collaborations and affiliate advertising — though she does both — and has channelled her success as a blogger into her own product.

McLeay who started her personal style blog in 2011, “as a platform to connect and share my inspirations with others,” had already found a fair amount of success in the fashion industry working as a senior buyer at the Gastown concept boutique Secret Location before branching out to blogging full-time.

“I realized I could support myself doing what I loved and working for myself,” she said.

McLeay, who has partnered with brands such as Paige Denim, American Eagle, BCBGMaxazria and Stuart Weitzman on blog posts, recently went one step further with her business model — releasing a hair styling tool called the XO Styling Iron.

With the help of her fiancé Patrick Stansifeld, the owner of a Vancouver-based business development company called MODE, McLeay created the iron after receiving frequent requests from readers.

“I often got readers asking about how I styled my hair and requesting hair tutorials,” she said. “So I wanted to create a product that I loved and really believed in to talk about and share.”

The XO Styling Iron, which retails for $189, has been featured by The Zoe Report,
FASHION Magazine and Vancouver’s own Vitamin Daily.

“It has been fantastic,” McLeay said of the feedback to her beauty tool.

Jun. 19, 2017 My opinion: When I was reading this, I realized I know Cara's sister.  I met her while at the bus stop in 2015.  We live in the same neighborhood.  I just sent her this article.  D told me about her sister.

Raj Thandhi is another Vancouver blogger who has turned her part-time hobby into a larger career.

Settling squarely into the niche of a “mommy” blogger, her website Pink Chai goes beyond just personal style — focusing on a broader range of topics such as do-it yourself projects, cooking and home decor.

“The original concept was a daily outfit blog; sharing a picture of what I wore each day,” she said. “I did it to stay active and engaged with other women while I was going through a transition in my career and looking for a new work opportunity.”

She now refers to Pink Chai a South Asian lifestyle blog, covering food, fashion, beauty, travel and some general life pieces — all with an Indian touch.

“For me a cultural angle was necessary because no one else was filling this niche. I was always searching for a voice in the digital world that understood the unique challenges of being a South Asian woman in a modern world, and provided insights and tips for balancing the two cultures.”

She focuses on sharing personal details as a South Asian woman and all-around mom-entrepreneur — from cooking and outfit tutorials, to parenting and entertaining tips.

Thandhi’s form of fusion has resonated with readers — and businesses — translating into partnerships with Next Issue, Chevrolet and Target. She has also signed on to be a brand ambassador with Tea India later this year.

“While I’m not ‘pro’ in the traditional sense, by monetizing through advertising, for the last 18 months Pink Chai has contributed significantly to my income,” she said.

Building off her success as a blogger, Thandhi now runs a social media consulting company, but she says Pink Chai is still “the primary marketing vehicle” for her business and online portfolio.

“My biggest source of income is consulting,” she explained. “I’ve helped develop social media campaigns, blogger outreach programs, and even targeted ethnic marketing campaigns.”

Thandhi is able to support her family of four through the income from these two digital streams. Her husband also works on the management of her social media campaigns, brand relationships and sponsored content on Pink Chai.

But its not just bloggers that are forging successful fashion and beauty careers online, there are video bloggers — “vloggers” — too.

Sierra Furtado is one local talent that’s making a name for herself on YouTube doing fashion and lifestyle tutorials. Furtado started her vlog almost two years ago, turning her penchant for creating “stupid videos” with her friends in high school into a full-time career.

The 20-year-old from White Rock now has more than 467,000 subscribers on her channel SierraMarieMakeup.

But while YouTube is undoubtedly the young vlogger’s primary platform, Furtado cites the photo-sharing app Instagram as a powerful source for building her brand. And with nearly 70,000 followers (and more than 18,000 on Twitter), it’s easy to see why.

“I talk about pretty much anything that will be relatable to young girls,” she said of her vlog. “Fashion, lifestyle — I do DIY tutorials, as well. All kinds of girlie things, I guess.”

While she attributes her popularity to “great quality videos and a lot of effort,” the young blogger also has a few tricks she employs to up her clicks.

“You can have bright thumbnails that will attract people to click on your video, or use titles that will be searched a lot in YouTube,” she said. “I have been really strategic with that so a lot of people will find my videos.”

She has also taught herself various tricks related to search engine optimization such as keywords, eye-catching titles and alt tags on images — practices which have served her vlog — and her income stream — well.

Furtado’s most successful video, “Hair Care Routine & Tips for Growing Hair Long!” has more than 1.4 million views, and she earns a commission on each and every one.

“The way you make money on YouTube is through views on your videos and the ads on those videos,” she explained.

Approved YouTube “partners” generate income “based on a share of advertising revenue generated when people view your video,” according to the company’s support website.

Furtado receives a cheque from the video hosting website at the end of each month.
Much like the other bloggers, another source of income for Furtado is partnerships with brands.

“I do a brand deal about once a month,” she said.

These opportunities are set up through her manager.

“I don’t know the logistics too much because I get my manager to deal with that for me,” she said of her brand deals.

Furtado is co-managed by her step-dad Rene Girard and a talent agent from Melrose & Park, a Los Angeles-based communications and consulting firm for millennials and those who aim to work within the digital space, according to the company’s website (

To date, Furtado’s largest brand deal was with Awesomeness TV, which is a YouTube network linked to Nickelodeon. It netted the vlogger an undisclosed amount.

And as her YouTube video views go up and the collaboration opportunities continue to pour into her email inbox, so do Furtado’s career ambitions.

“I don’t see myself stopping any time soon,” Furtado said of her future as a vlogger. “There are definitely so many opportunities that can come from (this). The sky’s the limit.”

Emma Coat's writing tips/ "That lesbian-blogger hoax"

May 24, 2015 Emma Coat's writing tips: I found Emma Coats writing tips in the Great American Pitchfest e-newsletter.  I then looked her up, and it's on her blog too:

22 #storybasics I’ve picked up in my time at Pixar

I tweeted these forever ago, but the internet just noticed and I figure I should probably at least put them on my blog. I’m glad people are finding them useful.

Here they are, a mix of things learned from directors & coworkers at Pixar, listening to writers & directors talk about their craft, and via trial and error in the making of my own films.

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d'you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

You can find more stuff I talk about on twitter as @lawnrocket - film and storytelling mostly. I try to keep the what-I-ate-for-lunch posts to a minimum.


Tracy's writing tips: I have learned a lot as I write. 

Sympathetic characters: I was writing a scene, and then I remembered it was kind of done on Alias.  There was a scene where Sydney gets into a fight and stabs a masked guy with a knife.  Then she unmasks him and sees it's someone that she knows and loves.

Sydney is still a sympathetic character even after killing someone because it was in self- defense.  The audience knows she would have never have killed him if she knew who he was.

When 2 characters fall in love, they have to transform each other: I got this tip from the Edmonton Public Library writer-in- residence Conni Massing back in 2010.  First she read some of The Vertex Fighter.

Then she read my script Garret which was like Fighter.  In Garret, there was more of a love story.  The audience has to root for the relationship.

Hacker movies: I did try to write a bit about it.  There are a lot of hacker movies out there.



The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:  


Jun. 29, 2015 Successful bloggers:

1. Diablo Cody: She started a blog and then she wrote the movie Juno

2. Kelly Oxford: She started a Twitter feed and then wrote a book.

I put up an article about her on my blog:

3. Neil Parischilla: He created a blog called 1000 Awesome Things.  Then he put up a book called The Book of Awesome.

Dec. 20, 2015 "That lesbian- blogger hoax: smut or the messy start of a new art?": I cut out this article by Kathryn Borel in the Globe and Mail on Jun. 18, 2011.

I actually wrote about this before:

Here's the whole Borel article: Inline image

Before his resignation, followers of Internet-generated scandals were granted a merciful reprieve this week from imagining what lies beneath the cottony confines of Anthony Weiner's underpants. The distraction took the shape of a hot lesbian blogger in Syria who allegedly had been arrested. The blog, A Gay Girl in Damascus, turned out to be a hoax. Its author, Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, was fabricated by 40-year-old Tom MacMaster, a straight, white man from Georgia, living in Scotland.

Cue the outrage: No one likes to be tricked, especially the 100th time. Blogging hoaxes are as old as the Web, but the media are like the rest of us: easily titillated, with a lazy taste for low-hanging fruit. Sometimes they won't bother to verify if a courageous lesbian activist in a war zone is in fact a middle-aged man who may or may not be typing into the ether while wearing a pair of flesh-coloured pantyhose and gleefully eating flayed oranges.

Outrage has a pesky tendency to masquerade as constructive discussion while actually strangling it. Did Mr. MacMaster lie, cause pain and damage the cause of gays and lesbians in Syria? Yes, yes and probably. Is he a sociopath, or an amateur fiction writer who accidentally hit the blogging jackpot? Maybe both.

But to flip it for a moment: Let's not forget that Mr. MacMaster had a sizable readership who identified and empathized with his character, her stories and her struggle. "We read to know that we are not alone," said C.S. Lewis (at least as played by Anthony Hopkins in Shadowlands). In the first creative life of A Gay Girl in Damascus, there was an author who was working hard to forge a three-dimensional character who was not based on stereotypes about either the Middle East or the gay community.

Whatever his motivations, Amina was believable enough to take on a kind of life, sustained by stories that made her relatable and enlightening. And in her audience, was there not a contingent that tracked the stories of Amina for comfort and to see parts of themselves, parts they were perhaps too fearful to show to their family and friends? And how much thought had you given before now to the real plight of homosexuals in Syria? On my end, not a hell of a lot.

There are innumerable examples of fiction's ability to outstrip fact in vividly illuminating reality. Filmmaker Werner Herzog freely admits to injecting fictional scenes into his documentaries to create "ecstatic truth." These scripted scenes do not compromise the non-fiction narrative; they open up a kind of vortex that pulls the viewer into the heart of the truth. Francis Bacon sums it up neatly: "Truth is hard to tell; it sometimes needs fiction to make it plausible."

Mr. Herzog aside, any time a non-fiction writer announces that every bit of their story is factual, don't we all have the urge to yell j'accuse? Creating a cohesive narrative itself is a lie. It's a fundamental human urge that allows us to cope with the stupid messy nonsense of existence.

The problem here is that we don't yet have a sophisticated set of metrics with which to analyze the utility or benefits of this kind of fiction. Our comfort levels vary based on the case, the nature of the lie and our own specific psychic makeups. Judith Miller's false reports on Iraq's weapons programs - that's an easy one to categorize. It gets trickier with the J.T. Leroys and the James Freys. And then there are the bursts of insight that come to us via Sacha Baron Cohen's clowning in Borat. Or the Coen brothers' fib that Fargo was based on a true story, testing the limits of the suspension of disbelief.

This is not to say Mr. MacMaster should be forgiven for the people he hurt, frightened or put in harm's way. But it is conceivable that in the future we'll look back at these hoaxes as some kind of new art form, even if this particular one was coming from a pervert prankster writer in Scotland who may or may not have been wearing flesh-coloured pantyhose while typing into the ether, giggling like Tom Hulce in Amadeus, while the juice from those oranges dribbles down his chin.

Feb. 20, 2016 Uppercase magazine: I was reading the Edmonton Journal's book reviews section and found out about this magazine:

"UPPERCASE publishes books and magazines for the creative and curious: products that spark the imagination and inspire creativity. The eponymous magazine was founded in 2009 by publisher, editor and designer Janine Vangool who continues to wear pretty much every hat imaginable. The quarterly print magazine is loved by thousands of subscribers around the world. Truly an independent magazine, UPPERCASE is supported by its readers through subscriptions."


Jun. 10, 2017 "Creative theft": Today I found this article by Leanne Italie in the Edmonton Journal.  She interviews David Sedaris:

Q As a teenager, what were you thinking you’d do?

A I wanted to be a visual artist, but I realized I was more affected by what I read than by what I saw. I would go to a show at a museum and look at a painting and say, ‘Oh I wish I owned that,’ and that would be the end of my relationship with a painting. With a short story I would read or with an author I would discover I could be haunted. It would affect my mood and affect the way that I saw the world. I thought, wow, it would be amazing to be able to do that.

My week:

Jun. 13, 2017 World of Dance: I saw the promo for this new show:

NBC's new dance competition series "World of Dance" is led by a judging team of extraordinary dance superstars - Jennifer Lopez (who also serves as an executive producer), Derek Hough, NE-YO and host/mentor Jenna Dewan Tatum.

The 10-episode series from Universal Television Alternative Studio and Nuyorican Productions will give dancers the platform to showcase their talents and the opportunity to receive a life-altering grand prize of $1 million.

In partnership with preeminent global dance brand World of Dance, the series brings the world's elite dancers together to compete in epic battles of artistry, precision and athleticism. Solo dancers will compete against duos and crews in an unlimited range of dance, including hip-hop, popping, locking, tap, ballet, break dancing, ballroom, stomping and more.

My opinion: I'm probably not going to watch it.  I have stopped watching So You Think You Can Dance by 2008.  When it first came out, I was in my early 20s and I love dancing.  I still love dancing, but not enough to watch dance talent competition shows. 

Big Brother Canada is on hiatus:

On Jun. 10, 2017, I was reading the Edmonton Journal that this show is going on hiatus.  It's not cancelled, but might as well be.  It says Canadian Idol is on hiatus since 2008.

I saw a bit of Canadian Idol when it came out, but stopped.  I never saw BB Canada.  I had stopped BB USA. I watched BB USA from 2001-2009.  I had to stop watching it because I was getting angry.  It was intentionally and unintentionally funny too.

Hudson's Bay layoffs 2000: I was reading in the Globe and Mail and the Edmonton Journal that it is mainly in the US.

Lululemon closing Iviva stores:

Michael Kors closing some stores:

Randstand: They closed down their location by Empire Building in downtown.

a bad-tempered or surly person.

self-confidence or assurance, especially when in a demanding situation.

Elan-energy, style, and enthusiasm.

Bon vivant-a person who enjoys a sociable and luxurious lifestyle.

Amalgam-a mixture or blend.

Polemical-relating to or involving strongly critical, controversial, or disputatious writing or speech.


Post Secret: I read this "I don't want to do my finances because I don't want to know how much trouble I'm in."

Till Debt do Us Part: This reality show about couples and their financial problems and debt.  Gail Vaz-Oxlade steps in to create a budget and give them money when they complete their challenges. 

The couple has to face the truth.  I have seen 1 woman who was upset and overwhelmed by their debt.  Gail did the math and if they follow the plan, they will be out of debt within 3 yrs.

My life: A couple of weeks ago, I did my finances.  I added up how much money I made this year.  It was average.  I don't spend a lot of money.

Jun. 14, 2017 Switchboard: I had gotten a job here back in like 2012.  I thought: "Is that place still open?"  It is.  I checked when I was passing my resumes around.  I did a day of training there and I didn't like it so I quit.

Work: Today I went to work and it was so busy for a Wed.

Sears not well: I was reading in the newspapers today that this store should really be closing down soon.  I have been reading the business section of the newspaper since 2010, and I am always reading that they are closing down locations and lay offs.  But they are still here.

Gymboree closing: This kids clothing store is closing some stores.  I don't have kids so I don't shop there.

Payless Shoe stores closing: However, they are not closing stores in Canada.  That's an alright store where there are affordable shoes.

Athlete's World: I then thought about when and where did I ever buy shoes?  Usually my mom buys 2 or 3 pairs of sneakers when it's on sale.  I thought about this store.  It turns out it closed down in 2013.

Job fears: I'm not supposed to write about my job search complaints, but I can write about my fear and deal with it.  I see how there is a lack of job security in retail because there are so many that are closing down.  I feel like if I apply to one and work there, I would end up getting laid off because it closes down.

However, I still have to work and make money.  This fear can not stop me from working.

Super Flea Market: I'm looking for a job and I found this store.  It seems to sell a lot of things at cheap prices.  There's a gallery to look at what they sell:

Jun. 15, 2017 Lewiscraft stores closed down: Does anyone remember this store?  I was going through my notes.  It turns out it closed down in 2006.

Jun. 16, 2017 Social event: I went to one last night.  It was fun.

Anthony Jeselnik: A guy told me about this stand up comedian last night.

Lazia restaurant: I went to downtown to pass out more resumes and see this restaurant in City Centre has closed down.  I asked the woman at Guest Services if it has closed down (or moved) and she said it closed down.

I've ate there twice.  The interior design is nice.  The food is good.  I did pass my resume to them earlier this year.

This site says it's closed:

They still have another location:

Humans: I was watching the 2nd season of this TV show all week.  It's very good because it's well-written and well-acted.  I felt really emotional when watching it.  I recommend you watch the pilot.  There are 8 episodes each season.

In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - a highly-developed robotic servant that's so similar to a real human it's transforming the way we live.