What Are the Key Features of Fantasy Writing?

Fantasy writing can be an awful lot of fun! It is one of the genres of writing that allows you to really let your imagination run wild, in a way that standard fiction writing often doesn’t allow you to do. Horror writing sits, to some extent, within the same realm of fantasy writing in so far as it allows the writer to be particularly creative with the plotline, but the genre of fantasy allows writers to create entire new worlds, universes and ways of living. This is something that other genres of writing just can’t compete with.

If you find yourself compelled to write a fantasy book, what exactly are the key features of writing within this genre that should be mirrored within your own writing? Well firstly it is important to remember that there are a number of crucial elements to fantasy writing that are consistent with all other forms of creative writing. For example:

– Your characters need to be well-developed and believable.

– Ultimately there needs to be one (or potentially two) lead heroes or heroines that are easily identifiable throughout the book.

– The structure of the book, or series of books, should have a clear beginning, middle and end. This is true for all works of fiction.

– Generally there should be a mixture of direct speech and narration.

However, there are also key features of successful fantasy writing that are distinct from other forms of creative writing. As a budding fantasy writer it is important that you consider these more specific elements of strong fantasy writing too. The key points to remember are:

– Your fantasy story needs to have a clear structure, and generally this structure will take the lead character, and thus the reader, from the ‘normal’ world, across or through into a fantasy world, and then back into everyday, normal life again. It may be that this pattern is repeated throughout the book, but often fantasy writers will simply stick to this three-world-move structure.

– As stated above, your story should have a hero or a heroine. It is important that your hero or heroine undergoes a number of experiences throughout the day which lead to some form of last character transformation. This transformation could be physical as well as emotional.

– Overall the story should convey some form of ‘learning point’ – a lesson that the reader can take away from the book. Generally this learning point would be communicated through the lead character.

– And finally, remember that no matter how creative the places and characters may be within your book, they do have to be believable within the boundaries of the story. So keep them consistent at all times.

Tips For Effectively Training Dogs

Dog training is really helpful in teaching your dog on how to obey your commands. With this kind of training, you will be able to instruct it with different sorts of commands like to sit, to stand, to walk, and to stop barking. This will also allow your dog to be a useful family and community member. If your dog is trained, you and other people will be spared from all the disturbances that it can cause.

The key principle of dog training is proper discipline. It is completely normal for canines to react with other dogs since, like people, they are very social animals. Hence, when training them, you must speak with authority to let them know that you are the boss and they have to obey your commands. Putting your dog under training is very beneficial but to be able to train it properly, you have to learn the basics of dog training. This can be hard at the start especially when you are going to train a dog for the first time but once you grasp the main ideas of it, you will find it easier and more enjoyable. Proper dog training is of primary importance since training your dog improperly can result to a worse dog behavior.

So, what is the right way of training a dog? The answer to this is through rewards and punishments system. This is very simple and has been found to be a really effective method especially when training puppies. Most people suggest that you start training your dogs while they are still young because it will be harder for them to obey you once they are already old. The principle of the rewards and punishment system is that you have to give your dog something it likes such as dog biscuits once it has obeyed you but punish them if they have done something bad.

The environment where you are conducting the training is also a factor. Carry the training out in a place where your dog will not be distracted by noise or by other people. This way, it will concentrate more on following your commands. You also have to execute every command with authority and consistency to address to your dog that you are not playing with him. Make sure that every punishment is given once your dog has behaved badly but be careful not to overdo it. Some dogs response positively to punishments while others do not.

A dog that has been properly trained by its owner will exhibit good attitude towards its owner, other people, and other dogs. Thus, dog training is necessary in keeping your dog well-behaved and an important member of the community.

School Assemblies – Look How Far We’ve Come!

Granted I’m not old enough to remember practicing “duck and cover” under the school desk when the threat of “the bomb” was part of every day life. But an episode of “Mad Men” can trigger many memories of growing up in a time where a child’s entertainment was markedly different from how things are today. I clearly remember the Davey Crockett hat that my parents brought home from their vacation supplied me with hours of imagination and fun. I remember playing “army” with my friends or simply “putting on a show” with my brother and sister. These antiquated activities would satisfy the entertainment needs for just about any elementary school-age child 30 or 40 years ago.

During my Spirit of America school assembly program, I tell the kids a quick story about how people used to see most of their entertainment “live on stage.” I say — “there were no iPods,” (they shriek), “there were no computers.” (another shriek) “…and there were NO VIDEO GAMES!” (this time – a scream of pain!).

This little exercise is a good illustration of how our kids perceive and what they expect from their entertainment. Make no mistake, I’m not promoting going back to the old days by any means. Quite the contrary. I feel that although creative opportunities have shifted for school age children, the advances in technology have made the experience so much more satisfying.

How do we relate these experiences to school assemblies? Let’s look back at where the school assemblies have been in recent history. I can only speak from personal experience, but I only remember having maybe two or three assemblies during the my entire six year stay at Samuel Everitt Elementary school in Levittown, PA.

One assembly featured a local dentist, who gave us all a lesson on brushing our teeth the “correct” way. (I’m pretty sure there are still guys out there doing these assemblies.) What I remember most about this program was getting those red dye pills to chew after brushing to see what parts of my mouth were missed. Do you remember those?? They were actually called Dental Disclosing Tablets (I just looked it up on Wikipedia).

Then I remember, a policeman who showed pictures of the local jailhouse and gave us a chance to put on handcuffs. (Which I believe a few classmates took the opportunity to repeat after high school.) Finally, the fireman who showed us how things burned.

Yes, it was cool. But today’s school-age children expect so much more. It’s simply the time that we live in. Most (I can’t say every) children either own or use an iPod. Most are technologically advanced and adept at using a computer and most watch at least a few of the approximately 800 channels of television available to them (as opposed to the three or four that were available to my generation). One of the reasons that I added a multimedia component to our school assemblies was to compete with and hopefully exceed what the kids see every day in the classroom and at home. There are no more filmstrips in school, even a blackboard has become obsolete. The assemblies booked today should be exciting, informative, technologically up-to-date, participatory and exceed the standard fare of entertainment our kids see on a daily basis. Finally, depending on the school and it’s particular needs, most shows should be able to add educational value to the students school day. After all, it is — school.

Virtual Learning – Learning Chinese Online

The increasing role of China in the global economy has placed more importance in the Chinese language. An increasing number of jobs place preference on applicants who know both Chinese and English and it is without a doubt a clear advantage to know how to speak Chinese.

Chinese is the language spoken by the most populous country in the world. A country whose economy has been the fastest to grow in the past decade. As China continues to grow its hold in the global market, more and more people have increasingly shown interest in taking up Chinese speaking classes.

Chinese has always been considered a hard language to learn. A good way to learn the language is using the technique of immersion – by traveling to China and living like a local. This type of learning is expensive though, and not many people who would like to speak Chinese can afford it. A more affordable alternative is through online learning. By learning online, one can cut back tremendously on costs while enjoying all the benefits of an online education.

You might think that learning to speak Chinese online will not be as effective as traveling to China but with the latest technology, virtual classrooms are becoming as good as the real thing. Nowadays, online language teaching companies offer language speaking lessons for all types of learners.

A crucial factor in the success of online learning is to get the very best teachers available. Highly skilled Chinese tutors are hired to give one-on-one lessons and sometimes group lessons are also available.

There is no denying the convenience of learning through the Internet. Classes are flexible and students can set the pace of the classes. Plus, there is no more need to travel, of course.

Virtual learning has come a long way from what it used to be. As technology advances further, distance has become negligible. Talking over the Internet is almost the same as talking face to face, and the applications of today give even more functionality than a real classroom. Thus, learning Chinese online is as effective as studying in China.

Learning to speak Chinese will be truly beneficial to your career. There are numerous online websites where you can enroll in an effective Chinese language course so why not update your skills today.

USMLE Step 1 Exam – Preparing For The Pathology Component Of The Exam

The USMLE Step 1 Exam is tough not only because the material is challenging, but because the sheer volume of information is mind-boggling. One of the most voluminous, if the most voluminous topic you have to master is Pathology. Pathology encompasses everything else you learn in medicine, so not only do you have to know the direct material you will learn in your path class, but you will have to remember every bit of Path from your other courses also.

Because the sheer volume makes mastering this topic challenging, I have outlined what I feel were the TOP 5 tips I was given when preparing for my own Step 1 exam as it relates to mastering the Pathology portion:

#1 – Use charts and diagrams

Charts that list major problems along with their features as well as diagrams doing the same thing are fantastic tools for turning a lot of information into more manageable chunks. Don’t be afraid to turn almost everything into a chart and/or diagram as long as it makes things more organized and easier for you to comprehend and master.

#2 – Start making notes from day 1 of class on all pathologies encountered

From the first day of medical school you will encounter pathologies, so figure out a way to make note of every single one. Whether you use a certain highlighting color or you jot it down into a separate book, make note of every pathology you see so that come USMLE prep time you’ll have it all in one convenient locations.

#3 – Link path and physio = pathophysiology

A large number of questions on the Step 1 exam will be related to pathophysiology processes, so do yourself a favor and be sure that you understand normal physiology very well, which will enable you to also understand any and all pathophysiology.

#4 – For similar pathologies, create a table noting major differences

Simply put, many things will present in a very similar fashion, so when it comes to these pathologies be sure you have a table that clearly states the major differences. This will enable you to quickly and easily identify the correct answers on your exam when they are thrown at you.

#5 – Find at least THREE pictures for all major pathologies

Whether it is an image of a cleft lip, a basal cell carcinoma, or a histological slide of Burkitt’s lymphoma, be sure to get at least three images of each pathology because often times they have slight differences, and if you have only seen it once then it can prove to be a major challenge for you to identify what you are looking at on your Step 1 exam.

Tips For Creating a Fun and Educational Playroom For Children

You can create a fun and educational playroom for children simply by keeping things at their level, both physically and mentally. Bright colors, simple words, sturdy furniture and well made children’s rugs can make your kid’s playroom an adventure in learning as it provides a rich learning environment.

Toddlers learn at a phenomenal rate. Everything they do increases their knowledge base. At the same time, you want your toddler’s playroom to be fun and entertaining. By using educational kid’s rugs, low shelves and child-sized furniture when designing your playroom, you can create an environment that is both fun and entertaining.

Educational Children’s Rugs Serve Multiple Roles

Let’s face it – children sometimes spill things. That’s a fact of life. They also want to learn and play. Children’s interactive play rugs serve multiple jobs, protecting your floor, providing a comfortable play area and offering educational experiences. Children’s rugs can teach geography, the alphabet and animals. They also come designed as miniature communities and cities, and you can even purchase kids’ rugs that will teach your toddler about your home state!

Children’s rugs are designed with toddlers and young children in mind. They are soft and plush and come with plenty of padding. The materials used are easy to clean and durable enough to last for years of enjoyment. Your children’s playroom will be all the more fun with an educational kid’s rug. Children’s interactive play rugs can even help young children learn important social skills as they explore the possibilities with their play group friends.

Sturdy Children’s Furniture Is a Must

As appealing as inflatable or plastic children’s furniture may appear, it is generally unsafe and it certainly won’t last. Children are still learning about the laws of physics that rule our world. Sturdy, well made, child-sized furniture will help your toddler maneuver in their playroom safely and constructively.

By providing child-sized furniture, you will help your child learn how to use their body properly. This type of furniture is also far less likely to tip, causing a fall. In addition, children’s furniture comes in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing you to create a customized playroom, best suited to your kid’s interests and personal style.

Personal Touches Add Educational Fun

You can make your children’s playroom all the more enjoyable and educational with personal touches that you create together. Index cards make great learning tools when used to label common features of the playroom, such as taping a card marked “chair” to a chair. Other labeling opportunities can include walls, tables and dressers. You can also create a word wall using pictures and words of common items such as books, shirts, dogs, family members, trees, cars, and so on. The possibilities are limitless and you can make working with these label cards a game for you and your toddler.

Children love to learn and play. You can make your kid’s playroom a wealth of fun and information with sturdy, child-sized furniture, children’s interactive play rugs and other educational children’s rugs, homemade labels and plenty of books and positive learning games. Your children will enjoy hours of educational fun in their very own playroom.

Nedumbassery Golf Course

The developing golf course at Nedumbassery can be welcome news for golf lovers in Kerala. The golf course is build near the Nedumbassery international airport at Cochin. Golf is not played widely in Kerala. Kerala has only 4 golf courses in total and most of them are of 9 holes. The upcoming 18 hole golf course at Nedumbassery can be positive step taken in the view of developing golf in Kerala. The course is build over an area of 48 hectares with an estimated cost of Rs 13 crores.

The tourism department board of India has given a helping hand by providing a grand of Rs 10 crores. No major golf tournaments are hoisted in Kerala and so golf is not popular in Kerala. The upcoming golf course is expected to make dramatic changes to golfing in Kerala.

The golf course under construction at Nedumbassery, with all latest facilities have brought cheers among the golfers of Kerala. There has been lot of delay in the development of course, as it was strongly objected by environmentalist and local people.

These large courses deplete water recourses near by area resulting in serious water scarcity, proposal for building the course was rejected several times because of this reason. The Nedumbassery golf course is a combine venture of the Kerala government tourism board and some private organizations. For many years Kerala has been a favorite spot for international tourists.

Now tourist can see Kerala as a golfing destination, they can enjoy golfing along with spending vacation in the beautiful places of Kerala. But it would take time for the course to be built completely. The golf course will have excellent infrastructure with all latest facilities to provide training for beginners as well as for experts.

The Number 1 Myth About College Athletic Scholarships

Unfortunately, many student athletes are under the impression that all they have to do is be the best at playing their sport during their high school sports career and they will be the proud recipients of a slew of full ride college athletic scholarships. This myth is equally prevalent whether we are talking about football scholarships or track and field athletic scholarships.

This one erroneous idea firmly planted in the heads of countless student athletes by their local media, their parents, their coaches, and their communities is primarily responsible for thousands upon thousands of kids not getting college sports scholarships, and even worse it is responsible for them failing to obtain any type of scholarship whether it be academic or some other form of financial aid.

This is called the ‘Big Fish In A Little Pond” syndrome, and it causes many high school student athletes to not only miss out on their chance at an athletic scholarship, but it also causes them to miss out on other types of scholarships that they might have been eligible for.

When student athletes are told they are the best, and that a big time scholarship is forthcoming, they often neglect their academics, thus preventing them from even applying for many academic scholarships, much less getting one.

When they let down on their high school academics thinking that they have a free ride into college via their ‘sure-fire’ college athletic scholarship, then, they are also setting themselves up to be ineligible for entrance into many colleges and universities even if their parents could afford to finance their higher education.

A second problem resulting from the big fish in the little pond syndrome is that student athletes are often not offered the full ride scholarships that they have been hoping for and dreaming about. They are not offered the scholarship they have been told and learned to believe will be theirs.

Rather they are offered a partial college athletic scholarship. A partial sports scholarship will cover certain expenses but not all. For example, it might cover tuition but not room and board. Who has to come up with the rest of the money? Many families simply will not be able to scratch up the remainder of the money.

It would be nice if the student had some kind of academic scholarship that would pay for these expenses that the partial scholarship does not pay. But no, this probably won’t happen since the student athletes have been totally ‘snowed’ by their entire local community into believing all they have to do is be the hero of the local sports community.

The staggering truth is that college coaches only actively recruit 2% of high school athletes. What about the other 98%? Many of this huge percentage of high school athletes fall into this huge group.

What happens to their dreams of playing sports at the collegiate level? What happens to their dreams of getting a college education when they have depended so heavily on landing a full ride scholarship?

They typically either do not get a scholarship of any kind or they are offered some kind of partial scholarship. While college athletic scholarships have helped countless young men and women get their college degrees, many of them have been sadly disappointed when they do not get one of these highly prized and sought after sports scholarships.

High school students whether they are athletically inclined or not should conscientiously keep their grades up and excel as members of their community.

The Life Coaching Process

The area of personal development is an amazing area that is vast and yet it is incredibly interconnected. This not only provides a life coach with an unbelievable number of tools to use but also the benefits of the unlimited ways of how these tools can be combined are amazing.

From the many tools that I use I particularly found a set of four questions that are a combination of questions asked in both life coaching models and emotional intelligence.

Let us look at the questions asked in the life coaching model:

1) What do you want?

2) What are your options?

3) What is the best option?

Now let us see what one of the most famous emotional intelligence models asks:

1) What do you want?

2) What are your options?

3) How do you feel?

I found incredible results by combining both to come with one unified set of questions that would take the benefits of both sets:

1) What do you want?

2) What are you options?

3) What is the best option? or How would you prioritize them?

4) How do you feel?

Look how both models agree about the first two questions. Well actually those two questions, especially the first one, cause a real challenge to many people.

We seem to be experts in knowing what we don’t want, but when it comes to defining what we really want we seem to stumble a lot before getting the answer.

The emotional intelligence model does not continue to discover the best option or the priority of these options because it takes it a natural sub-sequence. While the life coaching model needs to help the client pin down every detail as the resulted action plan depends heavily on those answers.

While the life coaching model does not mention the question “how do you feel?” as part of the questions above, but the ending of the session must include this question to check the effect of the session on the client and to realize the difference between the beginning and the end of the session from the client’s point of view.

The above combination is only a small example how different models can bring marvelous results in the personal discovery and personal development journey. Personally I use a lot of the emotional intelligence tools and combine them with the different life coaching models and I try them on myself to check the results.

New Year, New Career?


Get clear. First of all, be really sure about what you want to achieve in your career. Is it the next step on the corporate ladder, more work-life balance, running your own business or something else? Even if you want to stay doing what you are doing, you need to be clear on the type of business that will suit you. Think about what works for you at the moment and what you want to change over time.


Get a plan. Once you know what you want, you can start building a plan of attack. What are your options in terms of career steps and how can you make them happen. If you think the answer is a new career, find out about it in detail, don’t assume the grass is always greener. If it’s a new company or step up, what are the options to help you achieve what you want – think broadly before you decide on a track.


Get real. How good are your skills for what you want to do in the future? Remember being great at what you do now, doesn’t automatically mean you are ready for the next step. Look at people a step or two ahead of you in your career and start studying what they do and how they behave. Get yourself some feedback from people above, below and on your level and listen to it. Also think about some external views – many people get stuck into a certain style of behaving within their current role or business and it can be difficult to shift from that.


Get going. Your perfect career move won’t just land at your feet. Many people assume that given the market right now, that there are no jobs out there. For quality candidates, there are! Make sure your CV, job approaches, networking or just your plan to set up a new business marks you out from the crowd so you will get noticed. Again, try and get some external views on this – most people are too close to their own experiences to think about what they really need to say.


Keep going. Careers are long term things – sometimes you have to see the long term to get what you want. Certainly you won’t get there overnight – you need to keep going, keep making progress and keep your eye on your goal. Think about it this way – wouldn’t you want to spend the next holidays saying how much you enjoyed and felt valued in your work?

And if all that sounds like hard work? You only get one working life – don’t give up too easily on something that is so important.

Click here for advice and coaching on how to move your career up a gear in 2012.