Bounty from the Market and ROW Check-In

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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.

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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 . . .

Tortoise

. . . not this . . .

Rabbits

I am doing this . . .

Dog Walking

I’m also lifting these . . .

Dumbbells

. . . and doing this . . .

Stetching

I’m even eating lots of this . . .

Salad

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

Thinking

. . . or this . . .

Workers

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 . . .

Foot

. . . in front of the other.

And I will remember . . .

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

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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?

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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.

Enjoy!

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?

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Welcome, Round 3

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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.

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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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Raising Benjamin Frog

 

RBF CoverI am eclectically-interested. I love books. I love books on a wide range of topics. I almost always have several books on the go at once.

When a book grabs me and won’t let go until I finish it . . . now that’s a book I’m going to recommend – highly!

Before I tell you about Raising Benjamin Frog, I want to give you a little background.

I met Benjamin Collier at the Write Canada conference several years ago.

Benjamin struck me as quiet, shy, and reserved. Then I learned he is on the Autism Spectrum and I understood him a little better.

At last year’s conference, we had a wonderful talk right before the first plenary session. I treasured our interaction and was actually disappointed when the session started. That conversation was the highlight of the conference for me.

This year I was pleased to see Benjamin on the first day of Write Canada. However, he wasn’t staying. He was there to drop off his mom, Lynne. I had no idea she was also a writer.

When I saw her book, Raising Benjamin Frog, I thought about picking it up for a friend of mine who recently learned her son is also on the Autism Spectrum.

Even though I didn’t purchase the book during the conference, it seems I was supposed to have it.

On the last day, I was at the front doors of the conference centre when Lynne was headed out. She had a copy of her book right at the top of her suitcase and gladly signed it for me. (And surprise, surprise, I still had some cash in my wallet.)

I brought the book home – with the others I had purchased – and it sat in my living room for a couple of weeks until I decided that I wanted to read it before passing it along.

And am I so glad I did.

I began reading the book last Saturday and completed it on Sunday afternoon. I had no desire to read any other book during this time, and that’s rare because I always have several calling my name.

Yes, I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: Relationships are of prime importance to me.

As I read Raising Benjamin Frog, I felt that 1) I got to know Benjamin much better and 2) I had the opportunity to also get to know his mom.

The chapters are brief. As Lynne said, if you’re raising an autistic child, you won’t likely have time to sit down and read for long periods of time. (Even though I’m no longer raising any children, I still love books with short chapters. It’s so easy to justify “just one more chapter.”)

The chapters are very much a-day-in-the-life-of. They’re so personal and real. Lynne shares the challenges as well as the joys of raising her son. They include “Where do you go to, My Sunshine?”, “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra,” Evolution of a Writer,” “The Inquisition,” and “The Big Screen Years,” among several others.

Though this book isn’t technically perfect, Lynne’s heart is something many people will be able to relate to. Please note that any “technical imperfections” are far outshone by the quality of the story. I would highly recommend this book not only to parents of autistic children, but to anyone who wants to read a touching story about a mother and her much loved son.

You can purchase Raising Benjamin Frog here and you can visit Benjamin’s blog here.

 

Categories: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

12 Photos and What They Say to Me

 

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Not all beauty is easily identifiable. Plus, it truly is in the eye of the beholder.

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It’s easy to miss the everyday truths that can be seen all around us.

I take many photographs of bridges and paths. They speak to me of what lies ahead.

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The oddest things can make us nostalgic.

I loved to pull apart milkweed pods when I was a child; now I love to take pictures of them.

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As a child, I often fed chipmunks sunflower seeds from my hand, as did my three now-grown children.

It’s fun to remember doing so – and sharing my love of chipmunks with my son’s girlfriend.

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I discovered the beauty of a single drop of rain through the lens of my camera.

If you can’t tell, taking photos is one of my greatest joys.

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Although we never had window boxes when I was a child, I am strangely drawn to them.

Though my thumb is the opposite of green, I am thankful for a husband who loves to garden.

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And speaking of window boxes . . . not all are the same.

As the old Arby’s slogan goes, “Different is good.”

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I have always loved waterlilies. They may be my favourite flower.

I was surprised to learn that they come in many different colours.

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I was so glad that I had my camera with me when this butterfly was busy gathering nectar from the clematis that grew on our front porch a number of years ago.

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I took this picture while visiting my co-author in Huntsville.

For some reason, I find this scene very inviting – and what a writing prompt!

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Though I’ve used this picture countless times, I wanted to do so again.

In it are pictured four of my very favouritest people: my mom (whom I still miss) and my three kiddiddles.

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Taking selfies can be fun, especially when walking with your favourite guy.

He is one of the many blessings in my life I, for sure, don’t deserve.

 

 

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My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Many thanks to Ruth Snyder who asked me to participate in this blog tour. You can read about Ruth’s writing process as well.

What am I working on?

I’m off to camp tomorrow, Camp NaNoWriMo that is. During the month of July, my goals are to 1) write 10-15,000 words of my novel Becca’s Journey and write at least four picture book manuscripts.

I have been hired to write four articles re: seniors’ living each month and whatever other copy writing jobs come along.

I guest post on one site weekly, a second three times per month, and a third monthly, not to mention writing for this site and stephbethnickel.com

I am chewing on the idea of writing a submission for the third installment of the Hot Apple Cider books. We’ll see if I get a brainstorm.

I may begin working on a memoir with a new client. That may be on hold for the time being.

See what I mean about being eclectically-interested?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

According to the book of Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun. While my women’s fiction will bear similarities to many others on the market, it will not be a traditional romance. My protagonist, Rebecca Lynne, will weigh her brand new dreams with those of her past. Ultimately, she will have to decide which are worth pursuing.

I have been told that my voice comes through clearly even when I write advertorials, web-copy, etc. From what I’ve been told, that’s a good thing. I would encourage other writer to write naturally. Think of how you would share the information in conversation and, as much as possible, write that way.

Why do I write what I do?

Women’s fiction – I’m not seeking to stage a coup exactly, but there are things that are true of the cast and storyline of many novels that I take exception to. I would like to “push the envelope” just a little. – and maybe ultimately, a significant distance.

Picture books – I still love a well-written, wonderfully-illustrated picture book. I would be thrilled if I could become some child’s long-remembered author. Several decades after first reading them, P.D. Eastman books still number among my favourites. Picture book authors can instill a love of reading; bring a smile – even a laugh; introduce children (even adults) to richness of language; and so much more. Oh, to be numbered among them!

Blog posts – Though it may never gain me thousands, even hundreds, of readers, blogging is my way of encouraging even that one reader who gains encouragement from something I’ve written. One of my favourite posts is Writing for One.

Other – While, like many writers, earning money is a key motivator, I still seek to write about things that interest me in a way that will interest the reader. I was given my voice to 1) express my love for God and 2) bless others.

How does my writing process work?

In the case of Becca’s Journey . . . very slowly. The idea has been simmering for some time. What I really need is a deadline – even a self-imposed deadline. I made significant headway the last time I attended Camp NaNo and am looking forward to journeying further in July. The fact that both an agent and an editor said they would be interested in taking a look at the finished product should be sufficient motivation to keep me writing.

When an editor repeatedly nods his head while reading your picture book manuscript and asks for a few minor changes before you submit it for publication in a children’s magazine, it’s like adding gasoline to a fire. I draw on my eclectic interests and choose those I believe will captivate a preschool audience. Truth be told, my ideas for picture books often come from a snippet of conversation. I have often thought, “That sounds like a book title.”

When it comes to blogging – whether about writing, fitness, or one of my other interests – I consider what I’m learning about; what I’m focused on; and what I’m feeling at any given time. I find writing for some future date difficult. I like the immediacy of writing for the Now more like visiting with my readers.

And other projects . . . My process is very basic. Clear the topic with my client. Do the needed research. And write. Even with copy writing, I’m more of a pantser than a plotter.

In everything, for the most part, I would call myself a stream of consciousness writer.

Please note that I have yet to confirm next week’s participants. When I do, I will add their bios and pics below.

 

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