Just Keep Swimming

Blue Tang

You may recognize Dory from Finding Nemo as a Blue Tang like the one pictured above. (Thanks to Public Domain Pictures for the use of this image and thanks to Pixabay for the image of the swimming pool at the end of this post.)

I chose one of the character’s most quoted lines as the title of today’s post – and the theme of this week’s pursuits.

Swimming in Words

I have written 17,185 words toward the 20,000 I set for myself this month. Camp NaNoWriMo looks like it’s going to be a success.

I plan to write . . .

- at least six blog posts this week for myself and others

- at least one new children’s picture book manuscript and submit work to at least two or three agents or publishers

I may or may not work on my novel. It depends on how the week unfolds.

I also plan to finish reading one novel and make significant headway in two others.

Lastly, I want to finish reading Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ide.

Swimming in Good Food

I have joined the 7-Day No Sugar Added challenge on FB. No artificial sweeteners or healthier options allowed, but naturally-occurring sugars in fruits and veggies are fine. I began Saturday after lunch and can’t say I’m missing sugar at all. I do have to read every label, however. You’d be surprised where sugar is “hiding.”

Since tomorrow is the last day of the 30-day fitness challenge, I’m looking forward to continuing the good habits I’ve developed.

I must keep lots of fruits, veggies, and lean meat on hand. If I do, the bad-for-me options aren’t really a temptation.

Swimming in Physical Activity

Our poochie has tummy troubles, so I won’t be walking him very far for the next few days. Plus, the week looks very rainy here. I will have to be disciplined to get my walking in.

I plan to do two upper body and two lower body workouts between now and Saturday.

Swimming in New Opportunities

The lady who put together the 30-day fitness challenge invited me to a Google+ Hangout today. We will be discussing three fitness myths. If all goes well, it will be uploaded to YouTube . . . my debut appearance (grin).

I may have mentioned that I am now a monthly blogger at InScribe.

I’ve also entered four pieces into the InScribe fall writing contest. I’ll find out in September if I won. It was fun to stretch myself – and the entry fee was very reasonable.

I have decided to offer workout development and demonstration to those who want it.

I will be speaking at a ladies’ event with my co-author in September. I will likely do it mostly off the cuff, but I do want to jot down a few things I want to be sure to include.

I hope to line up some doula clients. There have been some nibbles but no follow-up from potential clients.

Swimming in Household Tasks

Although The Year of the Great Declutter hasn’t shaped up as expected, I have added “household chore” and “procrastination item” to my Monday-Friday schedule. Plus, I hope to spend an hour in the basement with my hubby each Saturday attacking the clutter down there.

Time to swim in these waters too.


What are you swimming toward this week?

Categories: ROW80 | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Best Conference Yet


I originally posted this on my blog on June 16 of this year, shortly after I returned from Write Canada. (You may also want to read the follow-up post, Strawberries and Sandcastles, if you missed it. I can honestly say the concepts were life-altering.)

By the way, I changed the pictures just for fun.

With the InScribe conference coming up in the fall, I am participating in a blog hop about writing conferences (as you can tell from the graphic above.) Although I won’t be able to make it to Edmonton, I’m sure I would experience the benefits I’ve listed below – and many others – if I could.

So, if you’re a writer – or you want to be – and have the opportunity to attend a writers’ conference (or even a one-day workshop), I encourage you to do so. And here are some of the reasons why . . .

So often words seem insufficient, but what else can I use to communicate? Well, words and pictures . . .

In my next post I will tell you what this . . .


. . . and this . . .


. . . have in common.

But, for now, let me tell you a little about the Write Canada conference I attended Thursday through Saturday.

The Word Guild Logo

Above is the new logo for The Word Guild, sponsor of Write Canada. Pretty spiffy, huh? It was officially revealed on Friday night. Excellent job, Ruth Thorogood – and those who worked on the project with you.

So, what made the conference – and the day before – so special this year?

I attended The Word Awards gala with my friends Rita, Lisa, and Lisa’s eldest daughter on Wednesday. Lisa won the first award of the evening. Kudos, my friend! (Lisa also drove, so it was great to relax and, literally, go along for the ride.)

My publisher was at the gala. He and his wife were in a serious car accident earlier this year, so it was especially wonderful to see him up and around.

Write Canada 2014 Conference Speakers

The keynote speakers, workshops, and continuing class speakers were great. I learned tons. Thanks to author and pastor Mark Buchanan; New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker; award winning author Sandra Orchard, author and editor Jesse Florea; executive editor Vicki Crumpton; and literary agent Steve Laube – and those whose sessions made me wish I could have cloned myself (sorta kinda).

From Fiction Basics to What Agents Can Do for Writers . . .

From Writing for Children to What’s New in Publishing . . .

And the debate . . .

“You’re not weird; you’re writers” (Mark Buchanan) vs. (in essence though not verbatim) “We’re all weird, yes?” (Ted Dekker). (Just another example of how two writers can say the same thing in opposite ways. :D)

Blue Pencil Reviews

Though my novel isn’t anywhere near ready for pitching, I thought I’d take the first six pages to show to an editor. However, when I learned that a children’s magazine editor was doing reviews, I decided to see what he thought of a couple of my picture book manuscripts.

And you know what . . .

He seemed quite excited about the first idea and requested I send it after only a little tweaking. He was also interested in a shortened version of the second piece.

Business Card #1 . . . For those of you who haven’t attended a writers’ conference, just know that it is a real privilege when an editor or agent hands you his or her card (though, of course, not a guarantee of publication or representation). Unlike the jujubes our conference registrar always brings, they don’t hand out their cards freely.

Other One-on-One Meetings

I sat down with both an agent and an editor to discuss my idea for a novel. As I mentioned, it isn’t ready for pitching, but I wanted to know if they thought it had potential.

Business Cards #2 and #3 . . . Can you see why I now call this “my surreal life.” (the original title of this post)

This means I really have to hunker down and get the first draft of my novel written. Glad I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in July.


While one of my friends sets up much of her work for the coming year while at the conference, you can pretty much say with 100 percent certainty that my idea of networking is reconnecting with “old” friends and making new ones. And what an incredible group of people they are. I won’t even begin to name them, but they know who they are. (I hope they do, at least.)

I did iron out a few more details for an editing assignment while I was there. That counts as work, right? (And trust me, this is pretty much the only kind of ironing I do.)

(Please note that I deleted, from this version of the post, my goals for A Round of Words in 80 Days.)

I would encourage you (and myself) to do what it says at the top of the page each week in my day planner . . .

Pick Strawberries and Build Sandcastles

Credit Where Credit is Due

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17 ESV).

To read more conference-related posts, visit InScribe Writers Online.


Categories: Writers' Conference | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Everyday Addictions

As long as I stay away from this . . .

Coffee Shop

And this . . .

Stacks of Books

And this . . .


(fun and fashionable clothes)

I do much better hanging onto this . . .

Bag of Money

Breakthrough at the Bookstore

Yesterday I had a minor breakthrough. I went into a bookstore and didn’t buy anything for myself. Yes, I did buy a book for my hubby and four books to give to the moms I attend as a labour doula but nothing for me specifically. If I bought five or more bargain books, they took 50 percent off the lowest sticker price. (Temptation, thy name is discount books.) However, we can call this a victory – albeit a small one.

The Slippery Slope of the Sidewalk Sale

A few days back I went shopping with my daughter and her BFF. (Temptation, thy other name is sidewalk sale.) I did splurge on new, full price top to wear on my anniversary. (So cute!) I also made another couple of purchases. The upside (besides the new pretty things) was that I went through my closet and my hubby’s and put together a garbage bag and a half full of things to donate.

Revenge on the Restaurant

And the issue of eating out . . .

There’s a simple solution. Tidy up the main floor and invite friends here for dessert and coffee or a meal. (Heck, my best friends don’t even care if I do Step 1.)

Money Management

I, in no way, intend to minimize the tragedy of “more serious” addictions, but I do want to acknowledge that there are things in my life that need attention, things that I’ve allowed to get out of hand.

It isn’t bad to spend money on ourselves from time to time, but we all know there are times the money would best be spent elsewhere – or put into savings.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20 ESV).
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Bounty from the Market and ROW Check-In


I have lived in the same city for almost 32 years. I’ve often thought, “I really should go to the farmers’ market on Saturday morning.” Guess what? I never did . . . until this year. And now, it’s one of the highlights of my week.

This past Saturday I didn’t have any other obligations, and I could stay as long as I wanted. It truly was like Christmas in July. Except for the packages of fresh meat, everything on the table came from the farmers’ market. The meat came from a different market, one I’ve only eaten at. (They have a deli too.)

As you can see, I splurged on a bouquet of sunflowers. I really needed two bouquets to fill the vase. Maybe next week. :)

Although I am thankful for the abundance that I find at the grocery store, after acquiring my new addiction, I have changed my way of thinking – and my way of shopping. As long as the market is open, I hope to get there weekly.

Needless to say, reigniting my enthusiasm for fresh fruits and veggies has made it easier to eat well. Hopefully, this 30-Day Fitness Challenge, which is soon coming to a close, will only be the springboard to reacquiring a healthier lifestyle. The more I eat nutritious foods, the more I want to . . . and the less sweets and processed foods appeal to me. (The cheesecake I ate yesterday didn’t really taste all that great – and cheesecake is my favourite.)

I am incredibly thankful for the abundance of nutritious foods readily available to me.

ROW Logo

Writing Goals

I’m on track with my Camp NaNo goal of 20,000 words. I have not, however, made headway on my novel. I’m still debating shortening it to a short story or novella.

I’ve written guest posts for Kimberley Payne and Janis Cox. I also wrote my weekly post for Christian Editing Services.

Last Monday, I wrote the third of four articles re: seniors living. (I have been commissioned to write four per month.)

My goal for this week is to write two preschool picture book manuscripts as well as at least four blog posts – maybe even focus on my novel as Camp NaNo comes to an end.

Editing Goals

There are jobs hovering in the queue. I wonder if it will be a it-doesn’t-rain-but-it-pours scenario in the next little while, but that would be okay. A downpour is better than a famine for the bank account.

Submission Goals

Since I’m behind, my plan is to submit Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday this coming week.

Reading Goals

I hope to finish R.J. Anderson’s Knife this week plus an unpublished manuscript a good friend forwarded to me. I would also like to begin re-reading Catherine West’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow and maybe some nonfiction too.

Fitness Goals

The fact that Kimberley made the beta test of her new fitness challenge a competition helped me stay motivated. After all, I’m earning ballots for my team, not just myself. To stay on track, I may set up a little competition of my own – maybe try to beat my score from the previous week come August.

This is the last week of the challenge, and I plan, Lord willing, to end strong.

I’m walking more (cardio), doing more resistance training (with heavier weights), drinking more water (finally), eating more fruits and veggies and less sweets and processed foods. Plus, I’m throwing out less. I know it’s wrong to waste any food. but I especially don’t want to waste the wonderful fresh food I buy at the market.

So, ROWers, how way your week? What is your #1 goal for the week ahead?

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The Tortoise and the Hare

Lately, this has been me . . .


. . . not this . . .


I am doing this . . .

Dog Walking

I’m also lifting these . . .


. . . and doing this . . .


I’m even eating lots of this . . .


However, I don’t think I’m doing enough of this . . .


. . . or this . . .


Well, not this exactly, but oddly enough, there was nothing on Pixabay under the heading “declutter.”

I feel like I need to give my head a good shake.

But for now I’ll just keep doing more of the same and putting one . . .


. . . in front of the other.

And I will remember . . .

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23 ESV).

Categories: Visual Blogging | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

First ROW80 Round 3 Sunday Check-In

Beavers in a Row Boat

Time for the first Sunday check-in of Round 4

Writing Goals

Keeping on track with my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo - check

My weekly blogging goals are to write three posts for SNEI beyond my weekly ROW80 check-ins, one for Monday Motivation on the topic of writing, and one for Kimberley Payne’s site on the topic of fitness. I posted once to SNEI and got my guest posts sent off.

I also plan to write one or two times per month for my website as well as writing monthly for He Cares for You. - hopefully this coming week

NOTE: I also have two additional guest posts to write, and I signed on for a blog hop later in the month.

I have been asked to be a copywriter for a local website designer. This work includes writing four 700-word articles for seniors each month. These projects will obviously take top priority, being paying work and all. I was able to get one article written this week, better than leaving all four to the last week of the month.

Editing Goals

- whatever work comes my way I’ll hopefully be starting a major job this week, and there are others on the horizon.

Reading Goals

- one novel and one non-fiction book per month I’m on track to finish at least one novel and reread Don McNair’s Editor-Proof Your Writing

Submitting Goals

- submit something (a picture book or short piece) to a paying market each week - maybe two this coming week

Skills Development Goals

- complete the online writing for children course I’m taking I should have this done this week or next.

Platform Building Goals

It’s time; let’s do this! I’m reading some posts and an ebook on the subject.

ROW80-Related Goals

- weekly posts Here I am. :)

- visit “my peeps” on Mondays and Thursdays I was a smidge late this week, but we’ll “blame” it on my hubby wanting to do some vacationy things on his week off.

Fitness Goals

- complete the challenge I signed on for this month Things are going well in this regard . . . except the change in the barometric pressure causing headaches. Bleh!

- use the challenge as a jumpstart to exercising more and eating better Even after two weeks, sweets don’t hold anywhere near the same appeal. I love getting into the healthy eating habit in the summer when there are so many fresh fruits and veggies available.

So, my fellow ROWers, how was your first week?

Categories: ROW80 | Tags: , , , , | 22 Comments

Mini Reviews

Heaven's Prey

Kidnapping. Torment. Torture. And yes, forgiveness.

Janet Sketchley’s first novel is not for the faint of heart.

Heaven’s Prey is powerful, intense, and gripping. This is definitely not a whitewashed happily-ever-after story.

The author aims straight for the reader’s emotions. Sadness. Empathy. Admiration. Disbelief. Anxiety. Fear. All with a pinprick of hope.

Though I am not as courageous as the protagonist, Janet did an excellent job of transporting me into Ruth’s skin. I was right there with her. She challenged me to become a better person, a braver person.

The characters and the situation are three-dimensional and believable. It was all “very real.”

Even with a cathartic ending, the author  acknowledges that some things this side of heaven cannot be tied up with a pretty bow.

I will be on the look out for Janet’s next novel.

Perilous Waters

“A smile whispered over his lips.”

“Tumbling into her compassionate gaze  . . .”

“He tasted like sunshine and joy and forever.”

I dog-eared pages in Sandra Orchard’s Perilous Waters so I wouldn’t forget the phrases I loved – like those above. (And this is a first.)

“So, what’s the story actually about?” you ask.

What happens when you mix an Alaskan cruise and a mystery about art theft?

Art. Adventure. Attacks.

Family. Falsehood. Fear.

Suspicion. Secrets. Set-ups.

Can Jen trust her uncle? Her sister? Sam, the man she’s falling for?

Perilous Waters would make a great summer read while you’re relaxing on the beach. It might not, however, be your best choice if you’re going on a cruise and have an active imagination.


What Lies Within

Kyla had it all.

Or did she?

In her novel What Lies Within, author Karen Ball explores one young woman’s journey to discovering what really matters in life.

It has been said that life isn’t worth living until we find something worth dying for.

The protagonist comes face to face with this truth in Book 3 of the Family Honor Series. (As the author notes, you don’t have to read the other two books before reading this one.)

I admire Kyla’s tenacity and Rafe’s commitment, but my favourite character is Fredrik Tischler. I would love to sit down with him and discuss matters of faith. I can hear him say, “I’m Jewish. I’m in a temple. I should do something else?” (This is one of his first lines in the book.)

Each character is unique and well-developed. They are real people.

The story has many twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the end. I love that.

I would very much like to read more of Karen’s books.

I am 100 percent certain I will never get to the end of my To Be Read list, but that’s okay.

What’s on your summer reading list?

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Welcome, Round 3

ROW Logo

It’s time for the next round of A Round of Words in 80 Days. Woohoo!

Writing Goals

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo in April and didn’t achieve my goal, but it did get me back into writing my novel and that’s a good thing.

I signed up again this month and am motoring along with the word count. However, I haven’t worked on my novel as much as I would like. My goal is to write 10,000 words in Becca’s Journey this month as well as an additional 10,000 words for other projects (blogs and picture books primarily).

My weekly blogging goals are to write three posts for SNEI beyond my weekly ROW80 check-ins, one for Monday Motivation on the topic of writing, and one for Kimberley Payne’s site on the topic of fitness.

I also plan to write one or two times per month for my website as well as writing monthly for He Cares for You.

I have been asked to be a copywriter for a local website designer. This work includes writing four 700-word articles for seniors each month. These projects will obviously take top priority, being paying work and all.

Editing Goals

- whatever work comes my way

Reading Goals

- one novel and one non-fiction book per month

Submitting Goals

- submit something (a picture book or short piece) to a paying market each week

Skills Development Goals

- complete the online writing for children course I’m taking

Platform Building Goals

It’s time; let’s do this!

ROW80-Related Goals

- weekly posts

- visit “my peeps” on Mondays and Thursdays

Fitness Goals

- complete the challenge I signed on for this month

- use the challenge as a jumpstart to exercising more and eating better

CheerleaderTo all my fellow ROWers . . . WE CAN DO THIS!

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What is Rita Writing?

Fountain Pen Pic

My friend and fellow WWC (Women Writing for Christ) member Rita Appel shares insights into her writing.

Welcome, Rita!

Thank you, Stephanie, for inviting me to participate in this blog tour, and for posting this to your blog since I do not have one yet.

What are you working on?

I write poetry, devotions, and allegories. I also combine two of my loves: writing and mixed media artwork in art journaling. All of these chronicle my journey through mental illness as I learn to thrive physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My writing is of my journey to wholeness: the exceptional, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Why do you write what you do?

I write primarily as an act of worship to bring glory to God for what He has done in my life and to share what He can and will do in others’ lives. As well, I write because mental illness robs one of their self-worth, dignity and hope, leaving fear, insecurity and shame in its wake. My goal is to come alongside others, even if only one, and help them navigate a part of their journey to wholeness, so that they may, in turn, help another along their way.

How does your writing process work?

I had not thought about how I write the way I do, but I think that my writing comes from a need to understand my journey. Why do I act, think and feel the way I do? Is there are better way to travel this path I’m on? I write from a place of trying to help people understand mental illness, those who live the journey and those who love the journeyers.

Categories: Guest Bloggers | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Grammatical Fisticuffs

Boxing Kangaroos

I read a meme on Facebook this morning originally posted by Grammarly. I found it to be a humourous exchange between a student and his teacher about the difference between “may” and “can.” Yes, I admit there are things that make me twitch, but this isn’t one of them – and the things that do aren’t actually important to “the big picture.”

The thing that got me thinking was one of the comments left by another reader. She seemed quite offended that someone who was concerned with proper word usage would be called names (pedantic and pretentious in this case). I also know of a writer and editor who feels each time we don’t follow “the rules” we diminish the language. It’s okay. They’re allowed to feel this way.

There may be some of you who already feel your blood pressure rising. Funny how a discussion about linguistics and grammar can do that to people. 

I heard Ammon Shea, author of Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation, on a radio talk show. I learned a thing or two and very much want to read his book.

One of the things that aggravates Shea is that often those who get up in arms when the rules are broken haven’t done their research. These “purists” would have been considered the uneducated ones in the not too distant past. You see, these rules change over time. What was once considered proper is no longer. Shea believes that a language that does not evolve is a dead language.

I use reference books such as The Chicago Manual of Style, but 5, 10, 50 years from now, the edition that sits on my shelf will be outdated. Even now, despite what some academics say, editing is often a subjective endeavour. Just compare one publishing house’s style sheet with another’s.

What is language really and why is it important to learn – and use – the currently accepted rules?

A Means to Communicate with One Another

According to Wikipedia, researchers conclude that less than 35 percent of face-to-face communication is verbal. If we break a rule from time to time, it won’t likely have a dramatic effect.

And when it comes to written communication, for the most part, we have to use language that can be understood by our target audience. Writings for the general population is now at a lower reading level than in days gone by. Of course, neither of these things means we shouldn’t use accepted spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

A Means to Express Your Thoughts and Feelings

Our intention may come across loud and clear if we are communicating face-to-face. However, if our written work is bogged down by errors, our thoughts and feelings may get lost in the muddle.

A Means to Effect Change

If we want to effect change on a broad scale, we don’t want our audience distracted by our naivete about the language. Whether we consider this distraction their problem or ours is irrelevant. If we want to be heard and know our audience may very well be alienated by such things, we should purchase, read, and apply a book (or two) on the subject. If you do a search for “grammar” on Amazon, you will find 100 pages of books. (This is also a good place to mention that a skilled editor is worth the investment – even for editors.)

A Means to Entertain

Deliberately breaking the rules can have a humourous effect. First, however, you must know the rules. You must also know that your audience will understand why what you say (or write) is funny.

When your humour has nothing to do with linguistics and grammar, it’s a good idea that errors in this area don’t distract from the message. On the flipside, strictly following the rules can be equally distracting. Consider for a moment Winston Churchill’s words: “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”

An Aside

If you haven’t read Lynne Truss’s Eats Shoots and Leaves, you absolutely, positively must. It is my favourite book on punctuation. Yes, I said punctuation. I howled as I read it while my family was watching TV. They thought I was a little strange, but that’s okay because I am. Using incorrect punctuation can convey an unintended – often hysterical, sometimes tragic – message.

My Personal Philosophy

As an editor and writer, I want to do the best I can to create – and help others create – the most polished, effective written communication possible.

When it comes to reading work created by someone else, I want to be gracious, looking passed the mistakes to the message they are seeking to convey.

What is one grammatical faux pas that makes you twitch? (Please remember to be kind. I’m not seeking to start an argument or raise anyone’s BP.)

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