i've forgotten how to dream

Bursting the Bubble, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

QUoteI had an awfully sad thought the other day and I’ve placed it on a photo that I took during my mid-week staycation. 

Could this deep rooted sadness just be a phase? A side-effect of that disturbing mix of boredom and fear that has overcome me as of late? I despise the word bored. I detest feeling afraid. Afraid of what? Bored how? I don’t feel challenged or excited anymore. I don’t feel like I’m living so much as existing and I’ve created this cocoon of safety that makes me not want to try new things. That gives me a kind of anxiety that eats away at my heart, at my dreams,

Could it be all of the rejection I’ve received lately? Could it be that my insecurities are taking over? Could I just grow a pair already and make a change? Insanity is, after all, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

How to become sane (again):

WHEN IN DOUBT, OR BEING REJECTED, REMEMBER WHY YOU DO WHAT YOU DO.(you love to write and you do it for you)

DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.

MAKE A SCARY LEAP OF FAITH.

DON’T TURN BACK.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Liebster Award!

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

liebster_awardThe lovely Lindsey over at Reeder Reads nominated me (yes me!) for a Liebster Award! Not sure what it is? Well, it’s a way for bloggers to share their favourite blogs and gain a little exposure themselves. It’s kind of a long process but it seems like it’ll be super fun, so I’m ready to give it a go. First I have to state 11 random facts about moi, then I have to answer questions given to me by Lindsey (my nominator), then I must nominate people/blogs that I love, and finally list questions for them to answer. Not sure if they’ll be into it but heck, why not? So here goes nothing…

11 Random Facts about ME!

  1. I recently discovered that I am TERRIFIED of kittens.
  2. I’m hate speaking in public and yet I always made it to the finals when it came to Public Speaking Contests in elementary school.
  3. I am obsessed with my iPhone, notebooks, and books in general.
  4. I decided to become a writer in the eighth grade after I wrote and presented a monologue in front of my class. I got 100% and my english accent was amazing — the monologue was about Harry Potter’s first Quidditch match.
  5. I don’t like massages — being naked and touched by a stranger makes me feel icky rather than relaxed.
  6. In the first (or second grade, I can’t remember) I peed my pants at school, right before I made it to the bathroom. I hid out in a stall until my teacher came looking for me.
  7. I love to travel and hope to head to Europe within the next few years.
  8. I will get married in a bookstore (preferably Ben McNally Books in Toronto).
  9. I cry every single time I watch Lilo and Stitch, even though Tangled is my favourite Disney movie of all time.
  10. I love having my nails and toenails painted.
  11. I work on my self-confidence every single day.

Answers to Lindsey’s Questions

What is the one book you could never ever part with or get rid of?

How can I choose just one?? Since interning at Random House and becoming a book blogger, I have so many books on my shelf that I want to keep forever and ever. So, if I had to choose JUST ONE that I could never part with, it would be impossible. There are three books I could never ever part with. I’ve reread Speak and The Alchemist more times than I can recall. They have both brought me to tears and have helped shape the person I have become. They helped me find my voice. As for The Aftermath, it’s a signed advanced reading copy of an amazing read but it’s much more than that to me. I spent a day with Mr. Brook and his daughter, accompanying them to stock signings and bookstores. It was a truly amazing experience with a wonderful author, who shared some advice that I will never forget.

Thats what writers do. They spin plates and see how much they can get away with.”

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Paper book or eBooks? Why?

PAPER BOOK FOREVER AND EVER. I love writing notes in my books, I love the smell of the pages, and the sound they make when you flip through them. I love bookmarks and holding a book in my hand — no matter how heavy it makes my purse or my luggage.

If you could travel to one place in the world (all expenses paid), where would it be and why? 

England. It is super literary and I like their accents.)

If you could meet one author (dead or alive), who would it be and why? 

I met Michael Ondaatje at a book signing so I guess the answer would have to be Anais Nin or Dorothy Parker or J.K. Rowling. I just can’t decide.

Do you play music while you read?

Not usually, it depends on my mood or how loud everyone in the house is being.

If you could create a dish with any cookbook author, who would you want to cook with?

I’m not big on cookbooks, although I should be because my cooking skills are lacking quite a bit. I would have to say Chuck Hughes and not just because he’s super dreamy.

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Okay, it’s mostly because he’s super dreamy.

If you were given $5000 to spend in one store in the world, where would you do your shopping?

TED BAKER LONDON.

Do you have a favourite quote? Can you share it with us? 

I look up quotes like they’re going out of style but here is one I’m currently obsessed with…

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If you had to be a member of a literary family, which family would you join?

The Weasley’s or the Weird’s.

Do you have a bad habit when reading? Twirling hair? Clicking your tongue? Tapping your foot? 

I tend to bite my lip or furrow my brows.

Who is the one author or book that has changed the way you read?

Every book I’ve read has changed the way I read. Every experience is different and I appreciate them all. I can’t answer this one! GREAT QUESTIONS LINDSEY! ❤

Liebster Award Nominations

Kaley from Books Etc. trained me on my first week interning at Random House of Canada. She is a treat! Sweet, supportive, and one of the most bookish people I know! I knew I made a friend for life after only a WEEK of working with her.

Amanda from Not A Model Blog has a writing style that makes me swoon. Her words are like butter on a crusty, freshly baked loaf with an aroma that lingers for days. She’s a lifestyle blogger who writes about everything from fashion to everyday beauties to travel diaries to book reviews. Her posts have a powerful honesty about them and are just as wonderful as the writer herself.

Romi from Confessions of a Chick in Paris is a self-published author with sass and unbelievable whit. Her success and determination has inspired me beyond belief.

Deanne from My Fash Avenue is my go-to blog for fashion inspiration. I’ve been following her blog practically since its conception and to see how far it’s come is truly inspiring! She’s made a huge name for herself in the fashion blogging world and I’ve loved following her along the way.

Casie from This Is My Life is someone you’ve heard me talk about more than once. She’s an influencer and personal friend of mine. She was blogging before blogging was cool and I am so thankful for all of her advice and help since the start of My Pen, My Voice.

* Questions for the nominees *

1. What is one book you’ve reread over and over again?

2. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

3. Who would play you in the movie of your life?

4. Why did you start your blog?

5. What’s your go-to outfit?

6. Who is your biggest inspiration?

7. If you could have coffee with one person in the world (alive or dead) who would it be? What would you ask them?

8. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Thanks to Lindsey for the nomination! I would like to mention that had they not already been nominated, Lindsey and Maria (from I Believe In Story) would have been on my list as well! To all those who had stumbled upon My Pen, My Voice because of Lindsey, it’s nice to meet you! I hope we’ll be seeing each other again soon!

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

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

sometimes I write like this* #poetry

Bursting the Bubble, Family Time, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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I’m running faster than anyone with legs has ever run before

that flying dust hitting your face, that splash of water that nearly missed you,

— that’s me.

I’m that blur beside you for a mere moment

and then that dot off in the distance

— the one you can barely see.

Some days I run toward you, some days I run away.

into your arms, so close I can feel your heart beat on my temple

— then I’m gone while you hug the empty air.

I try not to look back, your disappointment is too much to take

you wear it with pride, you accept me for who I am

— you’re not disappointed in me, just that I leave.

That I run blindly in the other direction when things get tough, when i’m afraid.

You know I’m better than that – and THAT is why I can’t face you.

So I run blindly in circles

— an endless race.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo

Photo Credit: We Heart It

On Writing – a quote to get me through 2014

Book Reviews, Bursting the Bubble, Lifestyle/Personal, Uncategorized

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“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Best Sellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to fund these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.” — Stephen King On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft 

Thanks to Amanda DiPasquale for recommending Stephen King’s memoir to me, and to my cousin Amanda Rose for telling me to read my old notebooks — it’s nice to see how far I’ve come. I’m vowing to write more in 2014, more stories, more poems, less daily documenting.

Talk soon,

Vanessa Xo 

So, a man walked into a pizza place with a book under his arm…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

So, a man walks into my pizza place with a book under his arm and my boss smiles.

“You don’t see many people walking around with books these days, it’s nice to see. Me and Vanessa here, we love books,” my boss states with a smile. Then pointing at me he says, “She’s going to be a publisher someday”. I know that he meant a Writer but he said it with such conviction that I actually believed him. For a split second I believed him. That split second repeated in intervals throughout the rest of my night, like an amazing case of the hiccups. I believed that one day I would publish books — that I would be a published writer. I could see it, I could feel it, I could taste it, because he could too.

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One belief can turn into another, one positive comment can spark a movement, one smile can change a life, and it happens when you least expect it. When you least expect it, you believe in yourself once again.

You feel awake and alive… and it feels great.

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

tomorrow tomorrow I love ya tomorrow

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

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And that day will be AWESOME. Thanks to HTC Canada and Casie Stewart, one of my all-time blogging dreams will be coming true. You’ll have to stay tuned for it but basically…

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*waiting. I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire blogging career. So check out THIS IS MY LIFE tomorrow morning and you’ll totally understand my excitement. Until then, keep smiling, keep laughing, and keep enjoying your life! It’s all the little moments, little acts of kindness, and little triumphs that matter most, enjoy them.

___

Love Always

Vanessa Xo 

if you think adventure is dangerous…

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

photo-1Somehow summer is nearly over and I haven’t done anything that I’ve wanted to do. I wanted to go to a cottage, head over to the beach, have lunch or brunch on a patio downtown, take a stroll down Queen Street and maybe hit up Kensington Market again, and I definitely wanted to plan a girl’s weekend. The only thing I “did” so far this summer was read and visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m not complaining so much as I’m disappointed that I didn’t make the time to do the things on my SUMMER LIST.

After completing my internship at Random House and going back to Caruso’s Gourmet Pizza, I slipped back into a routine. Wake, eat, clean, work out, shower, read, write, eat, read, work, shower, sleep, and it’s been pretty steady for the last month or so. Contiki tours tweeted that Paulo Coelho quote yesterday and it’s been screaming over my thoughts ever since.

If routine is lethal, I’ve been dead for years.

So what can I do exactly? Head out on the open road and wish for an adventure? Try to pack in all of the things I wanted to do this summer in the last few weeks? FINALLY plan that girl’s weekend I’ve been itching to plan?

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

ADVICE in the comments would be delightful!

___

Love Always 
Vanessa Xo

P.S If you haven’t picked up your copy of Twenty-One Truths or My Pen, My Voice on Amazon.com please do so shortly — they will only be available for a few months! XOXO

Well, Honey, I've got some news for you…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Hey You, yes YOU (and Me). I know right now life seems a little weird. Nothing makes sense. You’re in your mid-twenties with years of school under your belt and no career in sight. Everything seems kind of helpless and you quite enjoy wallowing in self-pity. You’re having a grand time hiding from the world, sitting quietly in your corner (nobody puts baby in a corner), waiting for something to happen, for your dreams to come true. Well, Honey, I’ve got some news for you…

3664584_origOr, GOOD THINGS HAPPEN, USUALLY WHEN YOU’RE BUSY DOING SOMETHING ELSE. Everything good that has happened in my life has happened when I stopped thinking about it, when I stopped doing nothing and started doing something. The moment I started working hard, good things found me. Nothing in life is free and even if it seems like it comes easy for some people, it doesn’t. EVERYONE HAS TO WORK FOR SOMETHING and it’s about time you stop feeling sorry for yourself and start enjoying your life. Start making a life.

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

P.S. The Blog Tour(ish) for My Pen, My Voice has begun — check out the first review on I Believe in Story. XX

My Pen My Voice

Well, Honey, I’ve got some news for you…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal

Hey You, yes YOU (and Me). I know right now life seems a little weird. Nothing makes sense. You’re in your mid-twenties with years of school under your belt and no career in sight. Everything seems kind of helpless and you quite enjoy wallowing in self-pity. You’re having a grand time hiding from the world, sitting quietly in your corner (nobody puts baby in a corner), waiting for something to happen, for your dreams to come true. Well, Honey, I’ve got some news for you…

3664584_origOr, GOOD THINGS HAPPEN, USUALLY WHEN YOU’RE BUSY DOING SOMETHING ELSE. Everything good that has happened in my life has happened when I stopped thinking about it, when I stopped doing nothing and started doing something. The moment I started working hard, good things found me. Nothing in life is free and even if it seems like it comes easy for some people, it doesn’t. EVERYONE HAS TO WORK FOR SOMETHING and it’s about time you stop feeling sorry for yourself and start enjoying your life. Start making a life.

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo

P.S. The Blog Tour(ish) for My Pen, My Voice has begun — check out the first review on I Believe in Story. XX

My Pen My Voice