52 Week Organizing Challenge update

I began the 52-week organizing challenge in January and was still going strong at my last check in in July. Sadly, I have to say it hasn’t been going so well since then. With our vacation and then the start of school, I must say I have skipped some weeks that I will need to go back and complete.

So here is how it has gone…(If you would like to catch up on the rest of the challenge click here to see my other updates – intro to challenge, update in March, update in June & update in July.)

CDs and DVDs (July 27) – Step one of this challenge was to store everything in one place. Done. And they are even organized alphabetically. I pruned the kids’ older DVDs but the CDs need work as well as all the computer CDs. That will have to be done later.

Photographs (Aug. 3) – OMG.  This could take weeks. I have many years’ worth of photos. They are semi organized in a box. This is a challenge I didn’t work on as we were getting ready to go on vacation so I will have to work on it during the winter.

Crafts (Aug. 10) – We were gone this week but luckily most of our craft stuff was organized when we did the pantry challenge. Of course, when I have time, I will go through the boxes and get rid of the old paints and anything we won’t be needing.

Vehicles (Aug. 17) – This was the week after our vacation and the week before school started. So in other words it was BUSY! I did look at some products to help organize the back of my Kia Sorrento. Since the back area is open (rather than a trunk), you can hear anything not secured down moving as I drive. So for my birthday, I received a set of pockets that go behind the kids’ row. Of course I have yet to fill it up with the emergency equipment (flash light, blanket, first aid kit, tire-in-a-can) that she recommends you carry.

Yard/Garden shed (Aug. 24) – This was an easy week. We only have one small garden shed and it doesn’t have a lot in it. We aren’t much into gardening…or yard care for that matter.   

Homework Area/Launching Pad (Aug. 31) –  With school starting this was a timely post about having a proper area for your kids to do their homework (the dining room table) and for getting all their supplies (backpacks, jackets, and lunch boxes) in one location so they are ready for the next day. (If you don’t have kids, she talks about having your stuff ready for your workday.) I didn’t have much to do here as we already have our routines down.

Pets (Sept. 7) – Well we now have 5 pets so I am sure I need to organize some of their stuff better. I already have their treats and food stored together. The dogs have a toy chest for their toys and the cats don’t really have many toys as the dogs keep stealing and destroying them. But their paperwork is a different matter. I had everything shoved in one folder but for this challenge, I separated it out into one folder for pet and cleared out any information on pets we no longer have.

Linen Closet (Sept. 14) – Yeah, another easy week. We only have one thin linen closet and it was already pretty well organized.

Master Bedroom Closet (Sept. 21) –  This was a week I knew would take me longer to complete (and to be honest, I am still working on it.) Our master bedroom closet is huge and becomes an easy dumping ground for things that don’t have a home. And then there are the clothes. I am horrible about getting rid of clothing that I “might” need. But I am working on it. I thinned the clothes and bought some organizers to make the shelves look better.

Seasonal Clothing Switch (Sept. 28) –  This week focused on two aspects of clothes – switching out your seasonal clothing and keeping track of clothes your kids haven’t grown into. Neither of these really applied to me. My closest is big enough that it stores both my summer and winter clothing without the need to switch out when the seasons change. And since I have a boy and a girl, there is no hand-me-downs to worry about and I rarely buy clothing that my kids need to grow into as their tastes are liable to change before they fit in the new clothes.

Well that takes us up to this week. I vow to try to stay on top of this challenge as we close out the year. And I vow to try and finish all those challenges I let slip by these past few weeks. I plan just one final wrap up post at the end of the year to let you know how the rest of the challenge goes.



Today’s Featured Author: Anne Michaud

Today I welcome author Anne Michaud to my blog. She recently released her Urban Fantasy series. Here is an excerpt from Book 1, Whispered Echoes, of the five book series. (All 5 books are out and on sale for a limited time!)  


A slither, a hiss like hot blood hitting the snow. I stare at their broken forms on the ground, and something dark leaks into the ground, looking very much like Shadowmen. It only lasts a few seconds, but I wait for more to come.

“The bad left, leaving their bones to dust.” Kat speaks close to me, like whenever we’re out in the open. Maybe she’s afraid the wind will take her away or the rain will wash her soul until nothing remains. “We should go. They’re gone too.”

“Just like that, one moment alive, then the next…” Swallowing hard, I turn away from them. These guys had families, people waiting for them to come back home tonight. Something I don’t have. “Rest in peace, for the little you had here.”

Together, we race to the back of the parking lot, where the garage stretches as far as the shallow woods circling the hospital. My sister’s light guides me to the hole in the fence—the same I’ve been using for two months straight trying to escape—and just as I reach it, the garage door clicks open by itself. I hide in the shadow of the wall, but no one comes out, no headlights either. My sister scares the shit out of me at times.

“Please tell me that electric trick of yours will get old soon?” I ask. Katrina stands by the garage door to lure me in, and when I won’t move from my spot, a car honk comes from inside. “Curiosity killed the damned, Kat. Stop playing games. Let’s go.”

Only the soft hits of ice falling on the tin roof next to me answer back, and so I go to the opened door to have a look-see. Last time we played hide and seek, I’d just come in the hospital. I’d just turned nine; she was forever sixteen.

“Surprise!” Kat glows next to a huge SUV, smiling so bright it’s hard to look at her. The driver’s door is opened, the vents throwing up so much hot wind inside that fog comes out in clouds outside. My sister invites me to step in, but it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth. Stolen property is much worse than just running away, no? Oh, and driving into people and cars and killing everything—much worse. “It’s Docteur Lise’s,” I tell her, as if she doesn’t know. I clutch my coat. The ceiling light almost warms me up just from looking at it. A car is faster than legs, but… “I can’t drive and I don’t have a license.”
“It’s too cold. You won’t make it alive to Close Falls.” Katrina never lies. She never plays pretend to get her way. She’s not like me. “And hurry, because the others have seen and they’re not happy about the massacre.”

Voices echo all the way from the second floor of the building, the door hanging open above nothing, the stairs twisting on the ground. From this distance, white lab coats flap in the wind, which means the nurses are back to themselves. Whatever that means, because frankly, they haven’t been themselves for a while.

“You’d be better at this driving thing,” I say to Kat, who brought me all the way in here when I could be running outside. Well, stuck in high winds and freezing pellets falling from the sky, but still out of here. “Oh wait, is that why you got me in here? You want to test it out?”

“Only if you let me in,” Kat says, getting ready to plunge into my body. “You don’t have to—it might not work, but we have to try.”

“OK,” I say, not fighting as her ghostly shape becomes mine.

It’s like sitting in the backseat, really. She moves my body and she guides my movements, with no struggle on my part. I trust her; she’s my sister—even if it does feel like I might vomit. The intrusion feels so weird.

“No wonder my friends are all possessed,” I whisper. “This is easy peasy.”

I sit down behind the huge steering wheel, and the letters BMW stare back at us. Then I watch my hands on the steering wheel, the motor roaring from within. OK, I’ll admit that my sister controlling electricity that easily is kinda cool.

“It’s wicked cool,” Kat says, her voice coming from inside instead of my side.

As the SUV rolls out in the rain, the pellets come down harder than before on the hood, and on the roof they sound like gunshots. A flash of white comes from the second floor and then nothing: they spotted our runaway car, so they know we’ll be harder to catch.

“What are you doing?” I ask my sister, as she turns the wheel to stay in the parking lot instead of racing out of here. Oh no, I think she’s losing control of our vehicle: she’s driving directly toward Nurse Ruth’s tiny red car. “Careful, you’ll wreck everything!”

“Quiet, sis.” I feel a smile cracking my cold skin as our huge SUV rams into the car and pushes it to the deep ditch at the end of the lot. A final slip and it’s gone from view. And a bit of Kat logic, “If they don’t have anything to follow us with, they just won’t.”

“Um, maybe the cops will?” I don’t need to fight my body to point at the boulevard below the long driveway of the hospital park. Red and blue lights glitter in the dark, far away, but still too close for my liking. “Step on it, Kat.”

Book Blurb

Whispers of death keep her sister alive.

Echoes of ghosts warn her danger is near.

WE_Book1_ebook_HIGHRESAlyx lost everything in the fire, her family, her home, her freedom, but she discovered something, too: something lurking in the darkness. To protect her from harm, the ghost of her dead sister haunts the walls of the mental institution holding Alyx captive for the last 9 years. But even she can’t help when patients suddenly act possessed and turn against Alyx, who must find the strength and knowledge to rid them of evil and save their lives.

After a narrow escape from the institution, Transcend welcomes Alyx in with opened arms since she’s the daughter of a former star agent; her mother. They hope to teach her ghost seer abilities to help them keep the leaders of the world in check and give her a normal life. With her friends and newly acquired knowledge, Alyx prepares to battle against evil, but when facing her greatest enemy yet, everything she knows might not be enough to save the people she loves. No matter what her choices, the consequences will be paid in blood – maybe her own.

About the Author

Author_AMichaudAnne Michaud is an author of many talents, especially getting distracted by depressing music and dark things. She likes to write and read everyday, and speak of herself in the third person.

Since her Master’s degree in Screenwriting from the University of London, England, Anne has written, directed and produced three short films, distributed internationally after being shown on a selective festival circuit.

And then, after hundreds of hours spent on studying and making films, she changed her mind and started writing short stories, novelettes and novels. Some have been published, others will be soon enough.

Keep your eyes open, she’s behind you.

You can find out more about Anne on her blog or follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Whispered Echoes (and the rest of the series) on Amazon.

Writing goals and NaNoWriMo

As the days keep slipping by, I keep telling myself that I will soon be caught up enough with everything else that I will have time to focus on writing my novel.

But who am I kidding? Something always comes up. There is always something going on with the kids whether it is a weekend camp or something at their school. And then there is my birthday invitation business and handling the financial side of my husband’s growing law firm.

Yes, there is always something going on and unfortunately, it isn’t always writing. What I need to do (and I have said it before) is I need to set aside time to write. I need to block off time in my schedule to write instead of waiting for time to be open.

And I think I need to set the time as first thing in the morning so that other activities don’t keep encroaching on my time. Get my daily (yes, I am optimistic here that I can get uninterrupted time daily to write) writing done BEFORE I do everything else on my to do list.

I’ve tried this before and failed. I have tried writing goals, but those too didn’t seem to work for me.

I know some authors set a writing goal either per day or per week. Some choose to count the words they type while other may only look at how many pages they wrote.

The keys are to be specific and realistic. Don’t just say you want to write each day. Set yourself a goal of how many hours, words or pages. And be realistic with your goals. Nothing is more discouraging as never reaching your planned amount of writing because you were too ambitious when setting your goals. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you do reach your goals!

One thing that might help is to have a partner help keep you on track. I have never taken part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) because it happens in November which is leading up to the holidays and always seems like a busy time of the year. But hey, aren’t they all?

But many author do take part in NaNoWriMo, whose goal is to write at 50,000-word rough draft of a novel. On their site, they have all sorts of ways for authors to track their progress and receive badges for participation. It seems like it could be an effective way to meet a goal with so many others supporting you.

Every year, I participate in the A-to-Z blogging challenge, but I find this easy as I spend the two month before the challenge, planning and writing my posts. I don’t know if the NaNoWriMo challenge would help me the same way with writing my novel.

I wouldn’t be doing it to win their prizes but more as a way to motivate myself to not be distracted by all those “other things” that keep getting in the way of writing. But I don’t tend to “free” write as their website suggests. I usually write and edit at the same time so that when I am done with my first draft there isn’t as much editing needed as there would be if I just wrote whatever popped into my mind.

But I am still thinking of trying the challenge this year as a means to set a writing goal and hopefully keep it. If I don’t meet the challenge, at least I will get something written.

Does my kid really need speech therapy?

As Jase has grown older, he has developed what I call a word stutter. It isn’t so much the repeating of letters such as “W-w-we are g-g-going to the s-s-store,” but a repeating of words often like he is searching for what the next word should be. “Ms. Ramirez, well, she, she, she called on me and um, I, I, I wasn’t sure….what to say.”

This word stuttering comes out when he is very excited as if his mind can’t decide what to say first. Sometimes he gets so frustrated he doesn’t want to finish what he is saying. Or perhaps he is embarrassed by it.

Now, I call it word stuttering, but the school speech therapist who evaluated him said it isn’t a stutter. She called it a word finding issue.

Jase’s first-grade teacher sent him to see the school speech therapist because she was concerned about him repeating words and sometimes mixing up words. But that speech therapist ruled that he didn’t have a problem what interfered with his learning.

Fast forward to last spring when his third-grade teacher also recommended he be evaluated by the school speech therapist. (Not the same one as before.) She had all sorts of things to say about Jase’s speech.

First, she mentioned a slight tremor in his voice as if his voice was shaky (like when you are cold.) She said it could be nothing, but if we were concerned, we could have an Ear-Nose-and-Throat (ENT) specialist check it out.  She made a note of several other issues with his voice such as pitch, slight hoarseness and poor breath support.

Second, she noticed a small lisp when he said his Ss and Zs.

And last, she noticed what she referred to as the word finding problem but when she further tested him on it, he passed their test, which basically means it doesn’t prohibit his education.

But the school did decide the lisp was a greater concern and affected his learning. They set up a plan for him to attend speech therapy twice a week this year.  At the initial parent meeting where they go over their plan, again the speech therapist mentioned taking him to an ENT.

So I discussed it with his pediatrician at his appointment in July. She saw no harm in sending him to an ENT and recommended one. The ENT, on the other hand, looked at me like I was crazy for bringing him in. In his opinion, his hoarseness was so minor and the other issues pretty much inconsequential that he didn’t know why we brought him in. He shared with me his views on speech therapists who seem to focus on minute details that don’t really affect Jase or his learning.

Of course since I don’t hear this shakiness and don’t think he sounds hoarse, I was inclined to agree with the doctor. I also think the breathlessness quality she hears is due to him rushing in his speech because he is nervous about speaking in front of others.

The ENT seemed against speech therapy in such a minor case and certainly didn’t want to subject Jase to having a tube down his nose, so they could look at his voice box. I agreed to do nothing and left feeling slightly silly for bringing him in.

It made me wonder if he really is in need of speech therapy. I can’t believe they have him listed as special educational needs based on a slight lisp that I don’t see as interfering with his education. But we are still letting him go to speech therapy this year. After all, the speech therapist originally did say this should be corrected within the school year. But I also hate that he is missing learning with his class to fix this small problem.



Today’s Featured Author – Terry Ibele

Today, I welcome Terry Ibele to my blog. He is working on his debut young-adult, fantasy novel, The Moon King, which will come out in 2016.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Terry Ibele and I’m an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction. I picked up writing a few years ago and I’ve since sold a few pieces of flash fiction and short stories. I plan to kick off my writing career with the release of my young adult fantasy novel, The Moon King.

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I sort of fell into writing by accident. I’ve always been a storyteller, just not a writer. In high-school (over 10 years ago now), I thought I found my calling when I picked up the art of stop motion animation. I amassed quite a cult following in the world of stop motion, and so planned out a film project that ended up being over my head. I quickly gave up my project, but wrote down the plot for my project in a few sentences. Over the years I kept adding to it until 3 years ago I decided to write it into a novel. Since then, I’ve been writing nearly every day. Short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and of course my novel.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

All of it! I have quite the quirky personality, with a fantastical imagination, and so try to incorporate it into everything I write. I enjoy writing exceedingly dull or overly exaggerated characters, nothing in between.

Do you write full-time? If so, what is your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

When I started writing, I was a Market Analyst for the largest vitamin company in Canada. I recently switched up my career and now I’m in Digital Marketing with a small software company. It’s tough to find time to write, but I make time for it. I write mostly during the evenings and weekends, and sometimes I wake up an hour before work to write. It’s all about persistence and finding internal motivation.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

I have so many stories in my head that are all trying to escape that I can’t not write! If I go too long without writing, I get pretty anxious. I don’t know what to do with myself.

Please tell us about your upcoming release.

The Moon King has not been released yet. I plan on a 2016 release, but that depends still on a number of factors. The story is of a boy named, Lome, who learns that he was adopted. On his journey to find out who he is, he discovers that his mother’s pendant can stop time. It turns out he’s not the only one who knows of this and suddenly his peaceful, innocent world changes. He becomes mixed up in quite a number of events and realizes that he has the power to change everything. There are also quite a few fantastical elements including an ancient civilization on the moon, an immortal king, and a spreading decay that makes anyone it touches go insane.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I’ve researched a lot of things: From how fast and far a horse can run in a day. How long one can be knocked out without permanent brain damage. How to properly hold a bow and arrow. Which herbs will heal a cut. My book isn’t based on any real history, so my research mostly revolves around the correct use of things.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

My favourite character is named, Sir Osmiwise Akin Seenoi the Seventh, Representative and Councilman of the Guild of Trades. He’s a ridiculously fat man who’s a big cry baby. I like him the most because he’s so fun to write. Everyone else that’s read my book has found the main character’s goat, Momma E, their favourite. Some of my author friends are even writing a goat version of Momma E into their novels as tribute, which I think is a bit funny. I’d love it if Momma E became a reoccurring character in novels everywhere.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write at my desk, in my living room, in my Toronto apartment. My favourite time to write is at night with the lights off. I don’t like any distractions.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

My favourite snack to eat while writing is an empty stomach. When I write, the whole world around me fades away and I focus on nothing but writing for hours on end. I’ll suddenly “wake up” and realize that I’ve just spent half the day furiously typing away without even having breakfast or lunch.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading quite a few actually. Some on the subway. Some at home. Some at work. These are the ones I’m currently working on: Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy, Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and Jackal’s Gambit by C. A. Ardon. I never have less than one book going at a time! I just finished some Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.

Book Blurb

Twenty Stories cover artGreat for new or young authors looking for motivation to ramp up their writing and get their creative juices flowing. This compilation of twenty free-writes comes with a challenge to write yourself for twenty days to get you out of your writing rut.

It’s simple – just follow three easy steps to completely refresh your writing mind-set (well, one step is the real challenge!). Plus, you’ll read twenty thought-provoking, funny, and downright bizarre short stories!

Twenty Days of Writing is a wonderful light read, perfect while waiting in transit, sipping tea, or hang gliding off a mountain.

Fun note: The cover art of Twenty Days of Writing is a picture of all my novel drafts.

About the Author

TerryTerry Ibele is from Ontario, Canada where he lives off a steady diet of frolicking in the woods, being stuck in transit, and pizza. He loves writing brisk, quirky stories and is currently working on a fantasy novel.

You can follow Terry on Twitter or check out his blog.

You can purchase Twenty Days of Writing on Amazon (Canada) and Amazon (US).

Creating a fantasy novel recap – part 2

As I begin working on my next novel – and I have taken off WAY TOO MUCH TIME since my last novel – I thought I would take the time to recount some of my posts on writing a fantasy novel. For some of the basics of fantasy writing, check out my first fantasy recap from 2013.

Since then, I have written numerous other posts to help you build your fantasy world. If you missed any of these, or just want to re-read them, click on the “read more” link to see the original post.

Realistic Food in your Fantasy Novel

campfireOne way to pull your reader out of your fantasy world is to write something so strange or unbelievable that they pause to wonder how that can be. And one place that typically happens in a fantasy novel is when food is mentioned.

Yes, this is another world and food choices and eating habits may be different there. But everyone is familiar with food so you should at least have the food choices make sense. Writers of fantasy novels too often ask us to believe that a roadside meal is cooked in the time it takes to water the horses or set up camp or that fresh fruit is available at all times – even the winter. (Read More…)

How fast can your hero travel? 

Two weeks ago, I wrote about food in the fantasy novel. Today I want to discuss travel. If this is modern-day fantasy that takes place on Earth, then this discussion will probably not pertain to you. I am mainly thinking about those of us who have created a world where modern conveniences such as cars and planes don’t exist. Your hero or heroine is walking, riding a horse or riding in a wagon or carriage. Once again, you need to do your research and make the distance traveled in one day or even a month believable. (Read More…)

Know your weapons and armor 

swordI have written numerous times about creating realism in your fantasy novel – the most recent about food and travel. Armor and weapons are certainly ones you need to write about with some accuracy, or you will have your reader saying, “what?” You need to research your weapon so you know it well enough to write competently about it.

Now I am not going to go into every type of weapon or armor but list a few guidelines. This is by no means a comprehensive list but one to get you thinking about the weapons you write about. (Read More…)

Creating stories and myths within your fantasy novel

“And as for this book,” said Hermione, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard…I’ve never even heard of them!”

“You’ve never heard of The Tales of Beedle the Bard?” said Ron incredulously. “You’re kidding right?…All the old kids’ stories are supposed to be Beedles’, aren’t they? ‘The Fountain of Fair Fortune’…’The Wizard and the Hopping Pot’…’Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump’…”

Just as Harry and Hermione are mystified by these titles, Ron is equally mystified by the stories (‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ and ‘Cinderella’) his friends grew up hearing. (Read More…)

12 questions to help you develop Gods/religion in your fantasy novel

ritualWhen I wrote my The Elemental trilogy, I decided right off that I didn’t want to deal with religion. So there is no mention of gods, and there is no church in my story, and it works fine.  However, in many fantasy novels, religion is an integral part of the plot.

Adding religion to your novel can be a source of tension between characters. A war can be because of religious differences. The reason your protagonist or antagonist does something can be based in their religious beliefs. Even prophecies can come from religious writings. (Read More…)

Gods and magic in the fantasy novel

Last week, I wrote about incorporating gods and religion into the fantasy novel. Since many works of fantasy also include magic, I wanted to address magic and gods.

As I have said before, all magic needs established rules to be believable. How do the gods play into these rules? Are they the ones who established them? Are their powers also limited to these rules? (Read More…)

Fantasy without Cliche 

Fantasy stories are often filled with clichéd ideas – the farm boy who saves the world, the girl destined to become the ruler, and so many more that I could fill up my whole post with overused plot or characters from fantasy stories.

The hard thing is when you think of fantasy – you typically think of fantasy characters such as fairies, goblins, dwarves and elves. All these are overused. (Read More…)

These seven posts – along with the original nine from the first recap – can help you create your fantasy world and begin writing your fantasy novel. As I work on my latest fantasy novel, I will look for other topics that can help fantasy writers build their realistic fantasy world.