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Twitter Tweets are Tempting

Posted by Val Fox on April 23, 2014 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (2)

     Today I spent some extra time on Twitter and was again amazed, like these folks, at the variety of subjects people tweet about. Twitter posts can be entertaining, provocative and often inspiring. Soon, an hour has passed and you might chastise yourself for taking too long; or, maybe not.

Twitter is entertaining. Jodie Foster got married last weekend, according to a Buzzfeed post. And, if you want to celebrate a 450-year author birthday, you can read about the top ten Shakespeare books for kids. Yay!

Twitter can be useful. I read the recipe for Slow Cooker Spicy Pinto Beans and discovered a magazine seeking a freelance copy editor: supper and contract-seeking from home.

Huge numbers of Syrians starve while the UN waits; an Israeli air strike injures 12 in North Gaza.  Always timely and provocative, Twitter posts compel me to investigate further by clicking the link.

Photo Credit: Just Ard via Compfight cc


We discover something new each day through Twitter links. Today I learned about a new species of crustacean living on the bones of a dead whale on the sea floor. Did you know the Blue-Footed Boobies have stopped breeding? I followed the link.

An Alberta MP inspires us to consider organ donation. Twitter put his message out to the masses. The link is below.

If you've Googled a question and can't seem to find the answer, an experienced blogger often knows where to find it. The question in her title prompted a quick click over to her website. Clever. Link below.

It's time to get off line and go create some word magic.  Have a safe day and - oh yes, you can get breaking news and weather too - on Twitter.

Sending a warm welcome to this site's newest members; Thanks for visiting everyone!

                                          The Letter "T"




References For Research

Posted by Val Fox on April 19, 2014 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (1)

While recognizing there are different kinds of research, when I talk about research on this site is will usually refer to finding more information about a topic being written about or story ideas.

I am starting my own list of valuable reference sites on a wide variety of topics, and will soon post a new page listing links to reference sites on topics like: history; science; education; health; writing; education and any others I have used and find helpful.

The following link is a sample of what you might find on the new page but there will be something for everyone. If you would like to share a site that's been useful to you I'd be happy to add it to the list, with much gratitude. I'll be sure to post your name and website if you like.


Have a great day, everyone! The next post will feature the letter "S" as we continue the A-To-Z Challenge for the remainder of April, 2014. If you'd like to learn more about this annual event, the following link will answer all your questions.

Questions Feed Stories

Posted by Val Fox on April 19, 2014 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The following photo prompted a flood of images and questions recently. That's often how a story begins. Then an idea might form.

                 Source: Glenbow Museum, Calgary, AB

Historical fiction e.g. the photo of boys and a map indicating the tribe had travelled as far as Texas.

The questions began. This is only a few of them.

Is the map accurate?   Who would know?

What if it was true?   When did they go?   Why did they make the trip?

Who went on the trip?   How did they travel?

What were the risks?   How did the land, wildlife and people change along the way?

How long did it take to travel that far?   Who might know these stories?

Can I find answers in books or from academia?

I'm drawn back to the boys old photograph: More questions.

Were they old enough to make the journey?   Who were they?   What was their status?

What were their expectations?   Were they ever afraid?

How and what did they eat?   Did they miss their families?

Did they all get along?   How did they deal with disputes?

What's important to this story?

Begin with an active, visual point with one or two of the main characters. Write what I know, research what I don't. Ask for help with accuracy from knowledgeable sources. The goal would be to tell a story about two boys that travel with a party of scouts or raiders in 1892.

While in Texas three young boys travel by night heading south as far as they can go. They are to return with a report of their findings.

More Questions.

Did the boys make it to the Gulf of Mexico?   What did they discover?

Did they follow a vision or a right of passage into manhood?

Did they return to the others?   What conditions did they face?

Bad weather?       Wildlife?       Hunger?       Accident?

Attack?         Insects/snake bits?          Disease?

Encounters with people?   What people?   What happened?

More Questions

Did the scouting party return home to their relatives?   What shape were they in?

Did the community run out to greet them?    Was there a song?

Were there any missing?   How did the families express their grief?

What animals did they return with?   Did they have new tools or rifles?

Did any of them sport new regalia?

The story is revealed as we answer the questions.  It all begins with the questions.  Thanks for visiting today!

The Letter "Q."

tags: how to write a story; story writing methods; brainstorming; when the story writes itself; creative writing process; where does story inspiration come from; getting to know your characters; authenticity in historical fiction; writers process  

Letter "O" Discoveries

Posted by Val Fox on April 18, 2014 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

As we work our way through the English alphabet during the April 2014 A-to-Z Challenge, I often discover some unfamiliar terms. This post features the letter "O" and will introduce two literary terms you may not be familiar with.


The Ollamh was a profession of ancient storytellers that gained popularity between the 6th and 15th centuries.  They were considered to be wise men, respected elders that held the status of the highest leader.


To be an Ollamh one had to know at least 350 celtic stories that kept the culture of the ancient ones alive.  Sometimes the stories were related in poems, dramatic narrative or song. 

Want to learn  more about these ancient storytellers?  Follow these links. 

O'Henry Ending

This term refers to a twisted or surprise story ending. It originated from the short stories of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910) who often wrote under the pen name of O'Henry.


Photo Credit: faith goble via Compfight cc


The surprise ending would change the action of the narrative in a positive way; therefore, an O'Henry ending was a positive description that acknowledged a clever writer.

The Letter "O" Thanks for visiting!


Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Posted by Val Fox on April 14, 2014 at 11:55 AM Comments comments (1)

                                  Photo Credit: Collin R Erickson via Compfight cc

The April 2014 full moon will pass directly through the earth's dark shadow tonight, creating a total lunar eclipse.

North and South America will be the best locations to see what is expected to be a deep orange moon called a blood moon. This color occurs when dispersed light from earth's sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon.

The bright star close to tonight's full moon is Mars which will be the closest to earth for the rest of 2014.

The following link to Earth Sky Science News provides more information about tonight's spectacle. It will be visible around the world as a partial eclipse, or in the west as a full blood moon.

Happy star gazing!

This blog features the Letter "L" as we continue the A to Z Challenge where bloggers from around the world work their way through the English Alphabet. For more information on this blog hop, click on the following link which will answer all your questions.

tags: astronomy; April 2014 lunar eclipse



Jot This Down

Posted by Val Fox on April 12, 2014 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

                           Creative Commons


To Write something  briefly and quickly, make a note of, put on paper; Short, often temporary notes for a reminder or to be later transferred onto something more permanent.

- phone numbers                                - addresses

- names                                               - account numbers

- times and places                             - directions

- story ideas                                       - book titles

- recipes                                             - To-Do List

- shopping list                                    - items to check out

- appointments                                  - license plate numbers

- ideas (gifts, stories, holidays)       - paint colors

-mileage                                            - name of a song

- great sentences or quotes            - questions to research

- unfamiliar words                             - unfamiliar words

- notes for work                                 - possible book titles

- key words or phrases                    - simple drawings/sketches

- colour combinations                      - observations

- website addresses                       - sizes (shoes, length, waist, clothing)

- data (meter reading, prices)        - meeting notes

                                  Longer Than a Jot

                                                        - Plans
                                                        - Detailed drawings
                                                        - Brainstorming ideas
                                                        - Decision-making options
                                                        - Articles

Would you jot down a decision? Why or why not?

Thanks for joining me as we make our way through the English alphabet during April. For further information on the A to Z Challenge, click on the link below. Have a great day and thanks for visiting!

tags: jot things down; what is a jot; jot down ideas; jot the main points; jot down your questions; write a list;

Searching For Harmony

Posted by Val Fox on April 10, 2014 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (1)

The following blog post was a flash-writing exercise where thoughts tumbled out in no particular order and with no edits. The end goal was to find a way back to harmony.


I love to listen to the news every day at least once, and a low-volume news channel often serves as background noise during the day. While learning to think like a journalist, I turned into a news hound. I don't always fully understand some news stories and often listen again to gain clarity. From there I write it down using the simplest words, adding metaphors or even gestures (if telling the story.)

This practice, although stimulating, has another side.

I grieve with families of Flight 370 passengers and crew; the most recent school attack gives me alarmed pause; stories of refugees on perilous journeys and victims of violence provoke anger or sadness; tragedies resulting in forever-altered lives tug at my spirit. Some days I feel frustrated and powerless as I learn about the world's inhabitants. Other days I step back, not knowing who to trust, all from watching the news.

Then I pause to say "Thank you" for all the gifts and opportunities I have here in Canada. The time is now 11:30 a.m. I will not listen to the news for the rest of the day.

(2 seconds later)

My body still works considering the abuse I put it through. The brain works most days but it never stops chattering. It takes continued practice to quiet my mind so I can hear the wisdom it contains. When I remain open to new thoughts, while practicing discernment and peaceful contemplation - Oh! and while we're on the subject of..

The chattering starts again. I turn off the volume.

Fan whirls feathered air to caress cheeks and neck. Wet snow drips off the roof; I hear tapping hooves and gentle snorts. Shimmering snow flows to melting pools. Dogs on bales study ground squirrel holes. Sun-bathing cats stretch then turn to bake the other side. Coffee maker pops and the refrigerator motors up. A meadowlark melody celebrates an emerging sun; Boots wait on stairways and some tulips have sprung.

Still chattering.


(3 minutes later)

Wow, that felt good. I wonder if..


(10 seconds later)
It's okay to breathe.


Heading In For Breakfast    © Val Fox

(40 minutes later)

With wagging companions I walked to the barn,

The chattering stopped.

Sweet, flowered hay and moist earth scented the air

It stopped.

Warm wind kissed, the snow vanished.

Earth began her joyful song.

When I got quiet and found her rhythm.

She whispered, "Join me."

The noised stopped. 

                                HARMONY - The Letter H

Thanks for visiting as we continue the A-to-Z Challenge for April, 2014. The next post will feature the letter "I." Further info on this blog hop can be found when you click on the following link.

The next post will feature the letter "I."

Free Online Courses Available

Posted by Val Fox on April 7, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Today I want to share some websites where you can access FREE online courses in a large variety of subjects.

This site is partnered with several post-secondary learning institutions such as: Stanford, Yale, Harvard and others. There are 875 free liberal arts and science courses available for you to choose from.

Edudemic has hundreds of courses on just about any topic you can think of along with lists of other class sources. Whether technology, art or current events, this site will help you find what you're searching for. Edudemic may be of particular interest to teachers that wish to further their professional development.

Here you will find more than 400 free online courses plus certificate programs in subjects like Psychology, Human resorces and Legal Studies.

4.   The Saylor Academy

This website offers 250 free online courses, many of which are focused on the 10 highest enrollment majors in the U.S. Students can also participate in discusson forums and it's hoped that soon there will be access to free textbooks. Courses include those at the high school and university levels.

5.    The Khan Academy

This is a non-profit program that provides "world-class education for anyone, anywhere." You can upgrade your current marks or you can choose from thousands of lessons to learn something new. There are also resources for those teaching or coaching students. This academy has partnered with The Museum of Modern Art, California Academy of Sciences, Stanford School of Medicine and others.

By the end of the week you will find a new page to this website containing a more comprehensive list of locations that provide free online learning. New sites will be added each week. Be sure to check in again for this growing list of FREE learning resources.

I'll be back again tomorrow as we feature the letter "G" during the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge.  If you'd like more information, click on the link below.

Thanks for visiting and have a great day, friends.

tags: distance education; free classes; life long learning; tutoring on line; free education; free instruction; how-to instructions;

Detaching From Negativity

Posted by Val Fox on April 4, 2014 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Our relationships with others can often be frustrating, even painful.  Take the co-worker who undermines your hard work, or the family member that controls you with guilt. Perhaps it's the teen that continues to lie. Or maybe it's the addict who raises hell on Christmas Eve.

How can we emotionally detach ourselves from someone's behavior, especially if it's someone we love?


Here's one formula for getting off the hampster wheel of disappointment or victimization while still honouring the relationship, whether professional or personal.

1. Change your thoughts and stop obsessing. You can analyze it every minute of every day and all your thinking will not change much, if anything. If you must take time to process some thoughts, put a time limit on it.

2. Put more focus on what brings you pleasure rather than on what the other person does that bothers you. What we focus on is what grows. Again, catch yourself, stop, change directions.

3. Remember, we can only change ourselves, no matter how much we wish something different from others. What can you do to create some joy into your life today? Do it.

4. Nurture the fact that you can still create this joy no matter what your circumstances in the relationship. We can experience happiness in spite of what the other person is doing or not doing. When we focus on creating or feeding good things into our lives, we will gradually see through new eyes which, in turn, will help us to know better how to proceed.

5. Accept the fact that other people's behavior is more about them than you. They are stuck. You are free to make choices. How do you want them to look?

Detachment does not mean you don't care or that your attitude has to be a hostility-laced "I don't care, anymore." Rather, make a plan for your own self-care and positive input every day. Do everything you can with love, then let it go.

Detachment does not have to be painful. It can free you to get on with your life, seeing the good that exists in a tiny flower or a friend's smile. It's all in what you focus on.


This post was the fourth in the April  A-to-Z  Challenge where bloggers from around the globe post daily while featuring a letter from the English alphabet.  There's still time to join in so if you're interested, the link below will answer all your questions.

Thanks for visiting and have a great day.

tags: letting go; live and let live; finding joy in turmoil; letting go of expectations; cultivating acceptance; living joyfully today; practice letting go of control; do yor own work and let go of outcomes

Sources of Comfort

Posted by Val Fox on April 4, 2014 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (2)

Today's post features the letter "C" for comfort. We get comfort from memories, the written word, places, smells, music, tastes and activities. These are just a few sources of comfort. Do you have a favorite source of comfort that you'd like to share with readers? We'd love to read your comments.

Source: Compfight Creative Commons

Hot Springs provide comforting warmth even in winter with natural minerals instead of chemicals. This reminds me of the mineral pools at Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Source: Compfight Creative Commons

The comforting warmth of a campfire soothes us as we stare into the light. Just add something warm to sip on such as hot chocolate or coffee. Perfect.

Source: evananimals on Flickr

Gorrillas comfort their young just like humans and other mammals.

Source: Compfight Creative Commons

Running through a sprinkler is a favorite activity on hot, summer days. When was the last time you ran through the sprinkler?

Source: Toadbriar by Kim Parkhurst (etsy)

Cats, quilts, tea and slippers add to the comforting feel of this graphic by Kim Parkhurst.

Source: Pinterest

These horses enjoy the feel of cool water when they take time for a dip at the horse spa.

Source: Compfight Creative Commons

Yummy chicken soup goes down easy when loved ones fight the cold and sniffles.

Source: Compfight Creative Commons

Did someone ever knit you warm socks for Christmas? Knitted socks go well with flannel pyjamas.

           Source: fisherbray on Flickr

The Passage at Chattanooga, Tennessee offers a comforting pause on the hottest summer day; just remember to remove your shoes and step carefully.

Source: Pinterest

People often get comfort from beloved pets such as this cuddly cat. Who is your favorite cuddle companion?

Source: Compfight Creative Commons

Never be too proud to ask for comfort when you need it, no matter what your age.

Thanks to all my visitors! Tomorrow's post will feature the letter "D" as we continue the A to Z Challenge where bloggers from around the world post each day in April, 2014 (except Sundays.) For more details or to participate, click on the link below and join us.

I'll be back tomorrow. Bye for now!

tags: comforting others; sharing hugs; cooling off in summer; a mother's love; comforts of camping; comforting illustrations; chicken soup comfort; warm, cozy socks; friendship is comforting; the feel of soft fur is comforting; soothing beverage 

Writers Beware of BUT

Posted by Val Fox on April 2, 2014 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (4)



I'd finish the book BUT my life is so busy I can't find the time.

I'd write more often BUT I have writer's block.

I love to write BUT am afraid I'm not good enough to publish.

Poems are nice BUT I don't know how to write one.

There is a job posting for a technical writer BUT I'm not qualified.

I tried to meet the deadline BUT failed.

I put the story on a memory stick BUT I lost it.

Others can write powerful prose BUT I can't.

I checked in with the editor BUT she didn't answer my call.

I'm sorry BUT I didn't get around to reading the guidelines for submission.

I submitted my work BUT never heard back from the magazine editor.

I wrote a query letter BUT no one read it.

I did my best BUT the editor didn't like the article.

These sentences sound like the kind of excuses I once used to cover my own insecurities as a writer. Learn to recognize when you use the word BUT. Catch yourself and re-frame the sentence to reflect truth rather than BULLSHIT.

Our writing habits improve significantly once we stop using the word




You can click on the following link to learn more about the IWSG. Have a great day and thanks for visiting.  Tomorrow's post will feature the letter


tags: Writers' excuses; words to avoid; tips for writers; negative self talk

Disaster Prompts Inspiration

Posted by Val Fox on March 26, 2014 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Photo: Google Images

When Casey Neistat was asked to produce a video trailer for the upcoming film, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, he had a different idea of how to spend the $25,000 budget provided by 20th Century Fox. Neistat flew to the Phillipines and saw for himself  the destruction left by a November 7, 2013 typhoon. He wanted to help.

Entire communities had been flattened; thousands were left without shelter, fresh water or food and no resources to help themselves. Unable to arrange for trucks, Neistat and his team rented two large passenger busses, filled them with relief supplies, then drove into some areas hardest hit by the storm.

Together, the team provided food and water for thousands of desperate families, and tools to help them re-build. Thank you to another of Earth's Inhabitants for showing the world what can be accomplished when we turn a good idea into an even better one.

You can learn more about Neistat at


                                     Photo: Life News

Lee Jong-rak often saw abandoned babies left to perish on the streets of South Korea so he and his wife decided to provide an alternative for desperate mothers. He built a wooden box onto his home that provided light and warmth. He posted a sign and the babies arrived, some with sad notes, others with nothing but their mother's tears.

This man's efforts will be featured in a 72-minute documentary called The Drop Box, produced by film maker Brian Ivie.  You can learn more about Jong-rak's efforts to make a difference at


It's almost  time again for the annual A to Z Challenge where participating bloggers post every day in April except for Sundays. Each post coincides with a letter from the alphabet; writers can choose a theme or post random topics.


Participants of this blog hop are encouraged to visit other blogs to offer feedback, make connections or learn more about a particular interest. At the time of this post there were 1622 bloggers from around the world preparing for April 1.

Come and join us. It's a lot of fun!

To learn more or to become a participant, visit

tags: inspiration; inspiring people; inspiring stories; blogging challenge; bloggers connect; making a difference; helping others after a natural disaster; typhoon victims; saving babies; life-saving strategy



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This is the personal website of writer Val Fox from Alberta, Canada: soon-to-be published author; freelance writer/editor; ghost writer; animal and child advocate; amateur photographer and avid camper.  Welcome!


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