Val Fox Writes

About Earth's Inhabitants

Blog Post New Entry

Different Flowers, One Meadow

Celebrating Earth's Diversity


view:  full / summary

Check Sources For Accuracy

Posted by Val Fox on May 7, 2014 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Digital technology and the Internet have made it easy to access information on just about any topic. This saves time and gets stories out to the masses faster than ever before. But how do you know the material in your story is true? Your credibility as a writer depends on accurate, current facts based on evidence and reliable sources.

The following list contains important points that every writer must consider if you want to be taken seriously, especially if writing non-fiction.

 - Credibility is more important than getting the story out faster than the competition. This point was made clear in the movie "The Paper" when an over-zealous editor insisted on running a front-page story that had not yet been thoroughly checked for accuracy. She went head-to-head with a senior reporter who decided to stop the newspaper production (expensive and time-consuming) to wait for the truth. Never compromise accuracy.

 - What is source of your information? How reliable is the source?

 - What is the agenda behind your source? To convince others? To sell something?

 - Look at the word choices used by your source - are they sound or sensational?

 - Do any of your sources contain back-up quotes or testimonials by other credible people?

 - Are there any conspiracy theories behind this information?

 - If you write about the sciences, were true scientific processes involved? Check the research carefully noting who funds the research and what is their mandate? Is there a paper trail that proves claims about the research?

 - What experts were used to back up the info you want to share?

 - Is the source connected directly to the subject? How?

 - Is there other supporting evidence that backs up the point you are trying to make?

 - What qualifications does the source have? You can't be sure unless you check.

 - Have peers reviewed the material you are planning to use in your story?

 - Have you provided links to credible sources that back up your story? Are the links current? Remember to check them carefully.

One last point: If you have published something in error, be up front about it. Don't just correct it and say nothing. Your credibility as a writer depends on your willingness to be open and honest, even when a mistake has been made.

These are some of the items I learned when studying journalism/public relations at Lethbridge College. Our credibility depends on our follow-through skills; even a misspelled name can affect how seriously we are taken as writers. Fiction must be made plausible too, by thorough research and accurate background information.

Check everything out, never assume anything. Your credibility as a writer will be rewarded.

Thanks for stopping by to read today's Insecure Writers Support Group post. The IWSG is a group of writers from around the world that posts on the first Wednesday of each month. Our goal is to share information, ask questions and support other writers. For those of you who may be interested, the link is provided below.

Have a great day!



tags: responsible journalism; writing the truth; don't believe everything you read; 


Getting Into The Zone

Posted by Val Fox on April 29, 2014 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Have you entered Into The Zone lately? You know, that state of mind where you become focused on a task and the flow of energy makes everything come together even better than expected, the best possible outcome.

Some refer to being In The Zone as on a roll, in the groove, tuned in or on fire. The Verbal Dictionary describes In The Zone as a state of conciousness where our skills perfectly match our perceived performance.


                                 massdistraction via Compfight cc

 We can get Into The Zone through a number of different activities. Examples might include:

When I ________, I get Into The Zone.


                        run                   write              swim laps  

                  listen to music     read    work in the garden               

                  hike in the mountains          re-build my car        


                                    photograph the ocean

                                         ride my horse

Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said we can recognize this state of consciousness by the joy or even rapture one feels while doing the activity.

While this kind of flow is similar to hyperfocus, the latter can sometimes inhibit progress or focus. Examples could be video game addiction or too much focus on work to the detriment of one's health. But for many the phrase is an idiom with positive implications.

What does being In The Zone mean to you? How do you know when you're In The Zone?


                                      Photo Credit: Bronski Beat via Compfight cc


                                  Noise level lowers/rises              

        We stop or increase talking (depending on our  focus)

     We become more productive             We get more creative.

    We feel content - even joyful            We enjoy what we're doing


                                         Time goes quickly

There's another positive result when we're In The Zone. We often lose self-consciousness, thereby allowing our full potential to shine. If you have any thoughts about being In The Zone, your comments are always appreciated.

This is the final blog for the April 2014 A-to-Z Challenge. Thanks to all those that visited, commented or joined this website.

I'll be back soon with more images, stories and music as we continue to explore Earth And Its Inhabitants. 



Yukon Novel Promising

Posted by Val Fox on April 29, 2014 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Yukon Territory along the coast of the Beaufort Sea/Arctic Ocean

Source: CC Compfight

The main character finds himself stuck on a slice of swiftly moving pack ice, lost at sea. He will confront challenges ahead that threaten to alter his life forever. Will he make it back home or will the Far Northern Yukon Territory play a savage hand?

This novel is on its third re-write and when complete it will take readers on a journey to a land of brutal winters and short, passionate summers; a place where one's life depends on the ability to adapt to unpredictable, frightening and  compelling conditions.

Surviving The Circle (working title) will be a quality piece of work offering drama, adventure, tragedy and joy in the Northern Yukon Territory. Stay tuned for further updates.

This post featured the letter "Y" and almost the end of this year's A-to-Z Challenge hosted by author Alex J. Cavanaugh and his team of co-hosts. Thanks to all the participants from around the world. I read some interesting and useful blogs and wish the writers well on their writer's journey.

Tomorrow's post will feature the letter "Z."  Thanks for visiting. :)


Xit Still Inspires

Posted by Val Fox on April 28, 2014 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Fans of the Albuquerque, NM band Xit know all the lyrics to every song. They are compelled to sing along and for a few moments they journey back in time to revisit their youth and the messages they heard in the music. The band regrouped in the 90's and brought back the old along with new music to inspire a new generation of fans. 

In the early 70's the new sound was American Indian Rock - a blend of two distinct styles that worked together and made us listen.

Original Xit got noticed by Motown in Detroit and their two resulting albums garnered critical acclaim. They had changed the band name to Xit which referred to the crossing of Indian tribes, according to founding member Tom Bee. Their lyrics told stories of historical and current significance for Native people. But it wasn't only Native Americans listening.

Since 2006 the band has recorded 6 cds and at least one dvd. I could write much more about Xit but the A-to-Z Challenge guidelines say to keep it short; this is an introduction. If you'd like to learn more about Xit, I've included some helpful links. 

Here is a sample of their early music.      The Letter "X"


You need Adobe Flash Player to view this content.


When Words Trigger You

Posted by Val Fox on April 26, 2014 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)



This post is about word choices and the power they hold to trigger a reaction from others.  Read the following items.

I won!

It happened without warning.

He went wandering out there alone.

I was wrong.

Why do you never listen to directions?

The weather report issued a warning.

What I think doesn't matter.

We need to talk.

Where are the kids?

Will you sponsor me?

We're out of water.

You'd better watch your back.

Did you have a reaction to any of these statements? What does our reaction say about others..about us?  How does the context alter the meaning we get? Is there a word or phrase that triggers you each time you hear it? Words evoke a response even when it is not visible. 

                                           Words - The letter "W"

Thanks for stopping in as we head toward the finish line of the April 2014 A-to-Z Challenge where bloggers write almost every day of the month while following the letters of the English alphabet.

                   Welcome to this site's newest members!


If you have any questions or would like to submit photos/guest posts click on the Contact Me button on the right side of the page. I'll look forward to hearing from you and will return tomorrow with the letter "X." Have a nice day. ;)

tags: Choosing the right words; saying what you mean; what did I SAY??; getting the message; how is your delivery; writers use words to carry a message; word choice and politics; using words of diplomacy; 

Vast Vistas Are Visible

Posted by Val Fox on April 24, 2014 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

We live in an area of Canada where the Southern Alberta sky stretches far in all directions; a view that also includes about 160 km (100 miles) of jagged snow-capped mountains about a half-hour's drive west.

The Rockies are always present yet they change throughout the day depending on the season, wind direction, precipitation and where the light shines. Immense cloud formations often swirl around the peaks, creating vistas that make you want to stop what you're doing and look. Sunsets leave vivid silhouettes that seem to celebrate the heavens.


On a clear day you can view stormclouds gathering 100 km (60 mi) north, plenty of time to assess direction, but speed can be deceiving. The sky of Southern Alberta displays a blanket of glittering stars and thick ribbon of the Milky Way on an inky, moonless night.

We once watched the wide,orange glow of a massive forest fire burning to the south in Montana. And, the tell-tale white of a grass fire sends everyone scurrying when strong winds blow in with no warning. They howl through the Crowsnest Pass carrying moisture that falls onto the mountains, leaving warm, dry air (Chinook Wind) to warm the prairie landscape.

Winter creates fog banks and mirages to test our perception. Once we gazed outside and saw the LDS Temple located 19 km away (13 mi) shimmering high into the sky. It was a mirage created by the cold air and bending of light. We've witnessed flickering pink and green ribbon dances of the aurora borealis; once it glimmered directly over top, crossing in two long quivering spotlights reaching high into the atmosphere.

Summer features knee-high, rolling grasses like ocean waves, splotches of color paint the rolling prairie: purple burgamot, pink prairie smoke and sticky geraniums. Gold and green foothills sprinkled with tiny eight-story wind turbines, the glow of the nearest city 80 km (50 mi) away, and the distant glare of a fracking site catch the eye.

Coyote and fox; white-tail and pronghorn; bison and moose; raptors, pheasant and sage grouse, robins and loons; horses and cattle, badger, muskrat and weasel are just some of the area's inhabitants that travel the vistas.

The vast displays of earth and sky delight the eye and feed the soul. Do you have a favorite vista that inspires you?

                                                         The Letter "V"

Thank you for coming; I'll be back tomorrow to feature the letter "W." Bye for now. :)


Photos  © Val Fox

Prairie wildlife; east of the Rockies; Southern Alberta sky; diverse landscape of Southwestern Alberta; Alberta scenery; Southern Alberta sites; Southern Alberta photographs


Unusual Words Unlikely

Posted by Val Fox on April 23, 2014 at 9:30 PM Comments comments (1)

While checking the Scrabble dictionary today I noticed a number of unusual words that didn't make much sense. I checked the dictionary meaning of unusual and found the following definitions:

Out of the ordinary               Uncommon                    Extraordinary

Here are five examples of these unusual words that are listed in and are also acceptable Scrabble words.

Unkissed - an adjective but no definition provided.

Unlearnt - an adjective meaning the knowledge and skills are available but not learned yet.

Ungelded - an adjective but no definition provided. Unusual and unlikely choice.

Unbathed - No results found.

Unbitten - adjective referring to arm that was not bitten. Possible but unlikely choice.

What's good about these words is that, used in the right context, they save both words and time. Example:

That's the lass that's never been kissed. vs That's the unkissed lass. Seven words or four words to describe the same thing.  I guess it depends on how tight your writing needs to be.

Thanks for stopping by and "listening" to the ramblings of a budding author and prairie girl. I'll be back tomorrow to feature the letter "V." Have a great day!
                                          The Letter "U"


Photo Credit: KristinNador via Compfight cc


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"




Survivors Share a Brotherhood

Posted by Val Fox on April 22, 2014 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Today's post features a brief, yet poignant story of an encounter between two men in a store. Many thanks to writer Rick Turton from the writer's group Writers, Poets and Deviants (WPaD.) for sharing this heart-warming story. Those who are meant to read it will find it.


Turton writes:

The other day I was sitting in Costco waiting for my family to arrive. I saw an older gentleman wearing a black baseball cap that had embroidered on it, "World War 11, Korea and Viet Nam Veteran.

"Being a Viet Nam Vet myself, I struck up a conversation with him. Wow! I said. That's a pretty impressive hat!"

He replies (with no small amount of pride) "I signed on in Oakland in 1943 as a Marine. I was at Guadalcanal, The Phillipines and finally in occupied Japan. I spent 18 months in Korea and did two tours of Viet Nam. I was a Drill Sergeant at Perris Island. Finally got out after 30 years."

We played the Where-were-you-stationed game for a while and he said, "You know, the Marines are a close-knit group. You'll run across your friends several times during your time in. I made some life-long friends in World War 11 that I met in Korea too. Buried most of them in Viet Nam though.

"Spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I survived. Finally got the answer when I found out my wife of 30 years had cancer. My job was to take care of her. She died last spring."

With that thousand-yard stare he paused, eyes welling up a bit, remembering.

"Like everything else," he said, "I saw it through to the end."

                         Survivors : The Letter "S"



tags: honour our veterans; veterans served overseas; one soldier's reason to live; survivors of war; inspiration from two veterans; three-war veteran shares how he survived; Viet Nam Vet tells of an encounter worth writing about;                                        

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  

Mares Pamper & Protect

Posted by Val Fox on April 18, 2014 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)


  Mom patiently protects her precious foal, born April 18, 2014


I peered into the pasture and watched this new foal play and pirouette in circles, practicing how to prance. Baby was also born April 18, 2014.

                                         The Letter "P"

tags: spring colts; new life; this morning's surprise; new foals;




                  Images  Stories  Music

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!


Subscribe To Our Site