Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Awards

Lifestyle/Personal

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The lovely Victoria Stacey of Florals and Teacups nominated me for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Awards the other day and I’m happy to finally get around to participating. My sincerest thanks to Victoria for the nomination – you are a wonderful human being and a fantastic blogger!

“The Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award is an award that celebrates female bloggers. After being nominated by a fellow blogger, you must thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog, and answer a series of ten questions that the person who nominated you has created. Then you create ten new questions for your nominees to answer and make a list of at least ten nominees (blogs that you enjoy reading).”

  1. Describe your blog in one sentence. A memoir in motion.
  2. What is the best place you have ever travelled to? I’d have to say that it’s a tie between Vancouver and New York City. Both beautiful and full of life; I felt rejuvenated and inspired from the moment I landed.
  3. What is the weirdest food you have ever tried (either abroad or at home)? Is liver weird? I’m not too adventurous when it comes to food.
  4. If you won a free trip anywhere in the world, where would you go and with who? Europe. I’ve never been and would love to explore a few places with my fiancé on our honeymoon.
  5. If you could only blog about one specific thing for the rest of your life, what would you choose? That’s a tough one; I write about whatever I’m experiencing at a specific moment in time. To write about only one thing wouldn’t be authentic or me.
  6. Where do you hope your blog will be in the next year? I always hope that it’ll blow up and be turned into a book. THAT is my hope every single year but realistically, I just hope it’s still around and that people continue reading.
  7. Who or what inspired you to blog? One of my best friends inspired me to start this blog. She said that if I wanted my writing to really exist, I’d have to put it online.
  8. Why do you continue to blog? It gives me clarity.
  9. If you aren’t blogging, what are you doing? Writing in my notebook, spending time with my fiancé and family, reading, or painting my nails.
  10. Share your favourite blog post ever (could be your own, or someone you admire!) Most recently: The Crawl by Amanda DiPasquale

I’ll be honest the older I get, the crazier life gets, and the less time I have to follow blogs. I do have a few blogs that I visit whenever I find the time. Here are six female bloggers that I admire.

Victoria Stacey Florals and Teacups (is this allowed?) 

Megan Radisa and Meaghan Onorato The Meg Life

Amanda DiPasquale Not A Model Blog

Karen Viray The Red Bow Blog 

Lindsey Reeder Reeder Reads 

10 Questions: 

  1. Describe your blog in 140 characters.
  2. How do you hope to inspire other women with your blog?
  3. Why did you start blogging?
  4. Why do you continue to blog?
  5. What is the best meal you’ve ever cooked or eaten?
  6. What is your favourite blog post (that you’ve written or that’s been written by someone else)?
  7. What is your favourite book?
  8. If you could tell your 10-year-old self something, what would it be?
  9. Who is your fashion icon and why?
  10. Beyonce or Adele?

xoxo,

Vanessa 

My First Pan Am Game, Blog to Book, and MORE

Family Time, Lifestyle/Personal

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Last Saturday I found myself melting in the stands of a stadium in Hamilton to watch the bronze metal men’s soccer game. It was my first work-outing and even though I didn’t entirely understand what was happening, I cheered when everyone else did and had a great time. The sweltering heat made me wonder why I decided to put on jeans that day but the fiancé’s mellow attitude and constant water/ice purchases got me through it. Side note: definitely nowhere hot for our honeymoon!!! We cannot take the heat!!

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I received some feedback on my blog-to-book manuscript from a wonderful publishing company in the U.K. There’s loads of work to do to polish my manuscript but their kind words and useful criticism has me roaring with excitement to get it done! There’s no guarantee that they’ll publish it, in fact it’s insanely rare for publishing companies to take on new authors who don’t have an agent. BUT that doesn’t mean that it’ll never happen and if I want it to happen I MUST keep trying. According to Alex all I need is a real break, someone to take a chance on me. The hardest part about that is not giving up. My goal is to have it finished by the first week of September and send it back to them then. Might need some extra motivational words my friends!

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

This weekend is going to be a busy one between Izzy’s second birthday, my aunt’s wedding, and an adventure with Alex on Monday, but I cannot wait!! Remind me to get some blogging, manuscript editing, and reading in too 😉

Wishing you sunshine, love, and uninhibited dance-parties this long weekend!

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Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

What is Happy?

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

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I had a thought yesterday and it created another thought, which rolled into another, and then into a labyrinth of the best thoughts that could be thunk. But then the phone rang. POOF! Gone. My life has become a series of cycles; planning, researching, working, budgeting.

Apparently that is what growing up is all about. On my drive to work I often think about happiness, I look at the person in the car next to me and wonder if they’re happy. I wonder if they like their job, if they’re passionate about what they do. I imagine what their home-life, love-life, and hobbies are. I wonder, what is happy?

My happy comes in the form of moments. My niece’s smile, a perfectly written sentence, my fiance’s hand reaching for mine, a drive up north, having dinner with my family, crying over a character in a book, saying something smart or witty enough to evoke laughter from someone. My happy comes from something more than 9-5, although I do leave the office feeling accomplished and useful, my life will always be about more than that.

That is my happy. What’s yours?

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

CHRISTMAS BREAK

Lifestyle/Personal

Dear Friends, Family, and lovely Readers,

As Christmas is coming close and a new year is soon to start, I wanted to just say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your comments and reading of my little writing blog, has filled my heart with passion and gotten rid of all the slog. I know I said that December 31st would be THE END but I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to all of my friends. My Pen, My Voice is alive and well, and in 2015 I’ll have some new things to tell. It’s true that this post will be the last one of the year; I need a little break from tech and my blog, to focus on things that don’t require me to “log on”. I’ll still be on Instagram and you know I love Twitter, but My Pen, My Voice will be quiet this winter (well until January 2015). So from my lips to yours, I’m blowing you a kiss, wishing you the very best Christmas and a spectacular New Year’s!

– Vanessa

Question: When does a blogger stop blogging?

Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal

I started my blog in 2010 as a way to get my writing out there, as a way to get comfortable with my words being read by family members and complete strangers. It’s evolved many times as my content expanded into book reviews, product reviews, travel diaries, restaurant reviews, and everything else in between. I’m proud of the my voice, the voice that this blog has helped harness and create, but when is it time to move on? When I started My Pen, My Voice I wasn’t sure how long it would last or who I would meet because of it. I’ve met some wonderful writers, publishing folk, and have made great friends that I am thankful for. I’m thankful for being able to share my life with other people and for those posts that actually resonated with my readers (however few they might be).

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I know fashion bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, and book bloggers who have made careers out of their blogs. Who have made so many opportunities for themselves in this vast place we call the Internet. They’ve made a name for themselves and stand out from the millions and millions of bloggers out there. I’ve been waiting patiently for my break, convinced that my blog would be turned into a book or that someone in publishing (or even Ellen DeGeneres) would stumble upon my blog and offer me a book deal. It hasn’t happened, but instead of being devastated I’m shifting my energy.

I love my blog, but I’m afraid that sometimes it distracts me from other writing projects, from a novel I’ve been thinking about, from short stories that I’ve started but never finished, and from pitching to other websites or magazines with different content than my own. I fear that since I am my own editor I’m not growing as a writer and that my content has been recycled. I find that to be a wasteful state for a writer, for a person.

“the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
– Benjamin Franklin 

Long blog short, my last post on My Pen, My Voice will be published December 31, 2014. It’s time to make some changes in my life and make some room for other writing priorities. I will begin a new year not as a blogger/writer but as a Writer. You’ll still read my words on Chic Darling, Passion8, and CanCulture. I’ll still be writing every single day. I’ll still be tweeting and reading and sharing my adventures with you, but it won’t be here, on this blog. Maybe one day I’ll have an author website or maybe I’ll write for a magazine or freelance my ass off. I don’t know, I just know that it’s time to move on because change is good and I’m ready for it.

So, let’s make these last few months of 2014 and this blog count.

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…almost

Vanessa xo

Sometimes I just can't do it

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

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I love my blog. I do. I love the way it looks, I love the way it feels, and I love that I’ve stuck to my guns as far as content is concerned. But sometimes I just can do it, I don’t FEEL like doing it. I’ll sit at my desk and think: WHAT’S THE POINT?! I’m not making a difference in anyone’s life, am I? This blog isn’t for the GREATER GOOD, it’s for the LESSER ME!

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I’ll go through weeks where everything I’ve written is complete crap, I’ll go through days and days of not wanting to share anything on my blog, I’ll stare at a blank screen and let my eyes well up with tears. Today, yesterday and the yesterday before that is one of those days.

I find comfort in knowing that even my favourite blogger goes through this kind of thing too. I find that it happens when I haven’t experienced anything new in a while, when I dream of going on vacation, or when I can’t do something that I really want to do. It happens when I feel uninspired. It happens when I feel forced to write. It happens when I get mad at my blog from distracting me from starting a new novel.

I guess the point is that it DOES happen and the only thing to do is let is pass.

Until then, is there anything you would like to see on My Pen, My Voice?

LMK in the comments!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Photo 1 from: April and May

A Writer is only as good as her tools

Book Reviews, Just for Fun, Products and Brands

I use Grammarly’s plagiarism detector because sometimes spellycheck jut doesnt cut it!

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I’m always trying to find ways to improve my writing, to ensure I don’t make a fool of myself when I post a blog or send in short story. Sometimes, I’m afraid that spellcheck and auto-correct just don’t cut it. Last week I was contacted by Grammarly and asked if I wanted to be apart of their Blogger Partnership Program. After doing my research on the website, I thought Yes this totally works with my blog, lets go for it! Grammarly is an amazing automated tool that checks your work for grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes in various kinds of writing. It also checks for plagiarism! Obviously before writing about it I wanted to try it out, so the great people at Grammarly gave me a 30-day free trial. Let me tell you, I’ll be picking up that YA novel that I started and never finished now that I have an account with Grammarly.

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Grammarly was founded by Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn in 2008 and by 2012, they had over 3 million registered users. In April 2013, Grammarly was selected as a winner of the 2013 Red Herring Top 100 North America awardThey have also been featured on Forbes, the Today Show, and About.com. This kind of website is great because it’s not just for bloggers or writers! It can be used by students, business folk (sometimes it’s good to check over important emails and documents), or by you social media aficionados who could spruce up their 140 characters (or less). For more information on Grammarly, check out their website, I’ve posted a photo of the pricing below.

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Here’s how it works, you paste/upload whatever it is that you’re working on, then select that paper type (general, business, academic, technical, creative, or casual), press start review and within moments your work has been edited. Grammarly found 11 issues in my untitled and barely started YA novel — a score of 68 (YIKES!). What I like about this website is that it explains what your issues are so you can improve your writing. If you’re looking for synonyms to change-up your work, just click it and a whole slew of them will pop up. Wonder if you’re plagiarizing? Click the plagiarism button and it’ll show you where certain phrases from your work have shown up elsewhere. It said that I should cite “didn’t want to get caught doing the walk of shame” which I don’t think is completely necessary, but it’s cool to take note of. I don’t have a professional proofreader but it’s nice to have a second set of eyes to take a look at my work for things that I may have missed.

Have you tried out Grammarly? What do you think about it?

LMK in the comments!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Disclosure: Grammarly set me up with a free, 30-day premium account, as well as, a $50 gift card to Amazon in exchange for a post about their site. As always I don’t write about what I don’t like and have posted an HONEST review of their website. Also, I used Grammarly for this post — I love run-on sentences apparently. Must. Work. On. That. I’ll let you know which other posts I use Grammarly for. 

Photo Credit: WeHeartIt

the only way out is deeper in.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

“The only way out is deeper in. It’s what you don’t yet know that can save you.”
Irini Spanidou, Before

Whatever it is that you’re going through, good or bad, pour your whole being into it. Eventually you will get out of the rut, you’ll move onto something better, or you’ll realize that where you are is exactly where you’re supposed to be. I don’t know why that quote pricked my heart, why it made me feel so… hopeful but I hope it does the same for you. I hope it helps you get through your week and pushes you to keep moving forward. Sometimes I feel like with everything I’m doing, I’m getting no results. Did you know that I’ve thought about giving up this whole “blogging” thing? I’ve thought about giving up on a job in publishing (magazine or book) and settling for whatever company will take a look at my resume. But then I realize (thanks to the thoughtful advice of my parents) that you have to keep going if you want something to happen — the only way out (or onto something better) is deeper in. Maybe your path with change, maybe your dreams will alter, but you’ll achieve them (it’s what will save you).

If I had given up I would’ve never entered the HTC One contest, nor would I have won the opportunity to WRITE a post on one of my favourite blogs. But today, that happened. My post is up on THIS IS MY LIFE and I couldn’t be happier, it’s a blogging dream come true and I’m optimistic that slowly but surely — if I keep working hard, good things will come.

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Love Always

Vanessa Xo