Photo by Veronika Molnar from the blog, What Vero Wears. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.

How Big Magic made me ditch my disdain for fan fiction

This week, all people on social media want to talk about is whether Twitter is dying. To me, it’s not as strong a conversion tool as it once was for driving eyeballs to content, but you can’t beat it for cultural conversation.

Take publishing. We’re lucky to be alive at a time when writers whose creative work has traditionally been ignored are speaking back to the establishment, demanding to be heard and represented. …

You see the Toronto Transit Commission; I see the most productive writing space I’ve ever known. Image copyright E Monier-Williams.

Resurrecting My Creative Dreams with Wattpad

A few years ago, I researched a post assessing the pros and cons of the Wattpad platform for aspiring writers on my blog, The Analytic Eye. I wrote 3,000 words but took a fence-sitting position on its value.

It was a critic’s response to a tool, intended to perform the act of analysis for my audience, not to really get inside the thing and assess its power.

Now, with 100,000 words of a novel draft in hand thanks in large part to Wattpad, I look at that post and am struck by how wrong I was.

What changed?

Discussions with an Angel

The first…

Wayne Gretzky (centre, of course) with Hassan Jaferi (right) and Matthew Killick

Last Wednesday, I was meeting an old friend for lunch in downtown Toronto. We’re both from Edmonton; we were classmates at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. And we’re hockey fans. So I said, “Let’s have lunch at Wayne Gretzky’s.”

We didn’t expect to meet Wayne himself, but that’s what happened. One minute I was eating fish tacos. The next minute, my friend’s pointing with his fork: “Dude, Wayne Gretzky’s right behind you.”

I was in Grade 2 when Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup in 1987. One of my classmates was the daughter of Andy Moog, the…

“Nostalgic Calligraphy” by the justified sinner. Sourced on Flickr. Link:

2016: I’ve re-thought a lot of this argument. If you want to see how my perspective’s changed, read “Death of a Fan Fiction Snob.”

I recently read Adrian Fridge’s Medium post, “Fan Fiction Deserves a Second Opinion.”

I read a lot of essays on Medium. It’s relatively rare for me to want to comment, let alone more than once, but there are at least five comments of mine on Fridge’s piece awaiting his feedback.

Whether he publishes them or not is neither here nor there [edit: they are public now]. Turns out, my mind just kept spinning on this topic…

One Parent’s Spell for Sending Kids Back to School

“So Grade 1 starts on Tuesday, huh?”

“Yes. Will it be harder than kindergarten?”

“You’ll learn different things, and the teacher will expect you to do and finish your work. So, yes, it will probably be a little bit harder.”


“What are you thinking about?”

“I’m worried I won’t be able to do it.”

“Hm. Well, let me tell you a secret.”

“A secret!”

“Yes. I’m going to teach you a magic spell.”

“A REAL magic spell?”



“I want you to listen carefully, because this is a secret spell. …

Robin Williams died earlier today in California, of depression and suicide. You can read about the details on CBC or any other news outlet.

He was 63.

I heard the news, as I hear about nearly everything these days, on Twitter.

At first, my feed was full of disbelief: Was this true? Was it another celebrity death hoax?

Please, could we make this one a hoax?

But as tweets from more and more media outlets appeared in my stream —CBC, CNN, ABC News—the truth became undeniable.

And so began the wake.

If you have Irish blood in your family, as…

Image Courtesy of

It’s higher than you think

At 3 am EST on December 5, 2013, the crowdfunding project that sparks and haunts my dreams will formally end.

I started working on WaveCheck’s campaign to fund breast cancer research, which promises to change the way we tell whether a breast tumor is responding to chemotherapy, last August.

We launched on October 9. As I write this, we’ve been live for 56 days.

Most of what follows best applies to crowdfunding campaigns that don’t hit 100 percent of their target during the first day or week. …

Angelina Jolie (left) is now equally known for her aid work and preventative Double mastectomy; ABC Correspondent Amy Robach had a mammogram on air and learned she has breast cancer.

The WaveCheck crowdfunding campaign wants every woman to know if her body is responding to treatment

If you follow breast cancer in the news, you know ABC correspondent Amy Robach recently had a mammogram last month on “Good Morning America” to demystify the procedure for women 40 and older.

To her surprise, Robach discovered she has breast cancer; she’s since had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Last May, actor Angelina Jolie published a New York Times op-ed about her preventative double mastectomy after learning she carries the BRCA1 gene, which puts her at a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Whether it’s a diagnosis or genetic predisposition, this sudden knowledge brings people like Robach…

Image courtesy of

Forget selfies at funerals: Technology’s already changed how we experience death

The bodies are gone.

They were there when my grandparents and a school friend died in the 90s: open casket, Sunday best, familiar face subtly altered by embalming fluid and makeup.

Disturbing and uncomfortable, yes. Particularly in the latter case.

Aaron was run over in front of his high school. An older student was playing a game of chicken with a classmate. He lost control of the car and killed Aaron as he sat on a nearby curb reading violin sheet music. It was a beautiful October day. He was in Grade 9.

I remember seeing the bruising on his…

A thought experiment for those involved in disaster planning

Fact: social media’s ubiquity and pervasiveness as we know it in September 2013 would have drastically changed our collective experience of 9/11 in 2001.

As I come across photos from Syria and other conflict zones in my streams while going about my daily business, many of them as graphic as the raw footage broadcast that Tuesday morning, I’m reminded of Dean Praetorius’s article for The Huffington Post, in which he examined the likelihood that more images and personal experiences would have emerged from Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville had social media existed.

But there’s more to be said about…

Elizabeth Monier-Williams

I’m a marketing and digital culture nerd. My Tedx talk on why we need new stories about female superheroes is here:

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