Hunting for Adventures

Welcome to my Second Acts series!

Today, we have Jodie Esch talking about a life jam-packed with adventures.

Here’s Jodie!

jodieeschAct 1— Schools, Schools & More Schools.

I appeared destined to become a teacher. Some people joked that I was born clutching a package of felt pens. I was the kind of child who constructed little classrooms around our house and dutifully instructed my baby brother and sister.

My Air Force family moved constantly. Vancouver Island, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec became my classrooms. Eventually, I took teacher training in Quebec and ventured out into the world of schools.

My college roommate and I decided we wanted to work together. In that era, there was a buffet of choices. We signed up for job interviews only in places that had access to skiing. Both of us landed jobs in Quebec City. This was our dream job because we skied every Wednesday night and every weekend.

Operating in a rather ‘abstract random’ style I then chose to work for the YWCA in Quebec City, studied Modern dance in Toronto and generally tried to find myself. I believed that the Canary Islands would be my next destination.

 But I was running out of money, so I headed to Canada’s Arctic where I taught Grade 2 and discovered my husband-to-be. However, I had only two years of teacher training, so the writing was on the wall.  Change careers or sign up for more education.

I decided to follow my dad’s mantra, “When in doubt, go back to school.” And so I did. I acquired graduate degrees and continued to teach. I worked at Simon Fraser University and Vancouver Community college.

In the fullness of time, I found my perfect elementary school on Vancouver Island. Perfect staff, perfect students, perfect parents. It was a stellar experience.

 But something was missing. Finally, I left school administration after a total of twelve years, loving the work but on the hunt for the next adventure.

Act 2—Looking Within

I dug deep and unearthed the lost link in the land of words. I decided to embrace fiction writing. I bought craft books, took classes, joined groups, entered contests, met with editors and agents and sent my work to publishing houses. And I continued to read and read. Very obsessive I know. But that has turned out to be my style.

I wrote and wrote, not really knowing what I was doing.  Everything was a thrilling venture. I tried romance, women’s fiction, romantic suspense and a middle grade novel. I finished all of these manuscripts, over a ten year period.

Finally I stumbled upon the Young Adult genre. Ah yes! I could utilize all the voices, all the drama, all of the compelling stories of my life with students.

And so, for your reading pleasure, I now have The Girlfriends Series –Best Friends Forever. (Available on Amazon). Less than a latte!

Book #1 Little White Lies

Book #2 Little White Pills

Book #3 Little White Magic (to be released at the end of Sept. 2013)

The moral of this story? It’s never too late to find what you’re looking for in your life. Embrace your own journey. You will discover what you want and need.

Thank you Joanne for inviting me to join your blog. I wish you all the best in your writing adventures.



In Little White Lies, Book # 1 of the Girlfriends Series, eighth grader Rachel Scott finally has the perfect boyfriend. He’s good looking, athletic and wealthy. The only problem is he doesn’t actually exist. Rachel’s escape into her fantasy world worries her parents and they insist she meet with the school counselor. Frustrated with her life and without her best friend’s approval, Rachel heads down a dangerous path, looking for love in all the wrong places.


Tenth grader Steph Baxter has it all, perfect looks, perfect grades and a perfect life. She’s a model high school student and a member of the cheerleading squad. But in her quest for excellence, she makes dangerous choices. Soon her simple solution becomes a complex problem. Follow Steph and her best friend Rachel as they cope with Steph’s unexpected journey. Can Steph find support before it’s too late?

Where to find Jodie…


Author Page:



Joanne here!

Thank you Jodie for sharing the adventures that have shaped your spectacular first and second acts. Best of luck with Book 3, Little White Magic.

A Journey of Self-Awareness

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Certified Life Coach Sandra Dawes talking about the experiences that have shaped her amazing life journey.

 Here’s Sandra!

Sandra Dawes 21897In my mid to late twenties I lived a very passive life. I lived to make others happy, often to the detriment of my own happiness. I was a constant people pleaser, a consequence of low self-esteem and self-confidence. In my heart, I didn’t feel like I was worthy of love, so I did whatever I thought I had to do to prove to the people in my life that I was worth the love I so badly needed from them. In doing this, I put my own dreams and desires on the backburner.

When my father died, my world shifted in ways I didn’t think were possible. While he had been diagnosed with cancer 6 years earlier, I thought he had beaten it. It came back with a vengeance in 2004 and he died on the operating table during hip replacement surgery. I wasn’t prepared for the consequences of my father’s passing. I was in denial that it was even a possibility! With all that happened after his death, I was left hopeless, believing that all that I had done for others was a complete waste of time and unsure if I was ever going to experience joy in my life again, or if I really ever knew what it meant!

It took years of self-help books and a journey of self-awareness to understand that I am the creator of the reality that I experience and that if I wanted different experiences, I needed to make changes in the way I lived my life. I now understand I am worthy of love and don’t need anyone to prove that to me. I just need to believe it in my own heart and love myself the way I wanted others to love me. Instead of allowing life to happen to me, I’m doing what I need to do to make things happen in my life. My self-esteem and self-confidence are stronger than they have ever been and I’m no longer afraid to step outside my comfort zone and try new things and put myself out there in ways that would have made my knees weak just a few years ago!

No matter how bad things may seem right now, or how impossible your dreams might look, the belief that anything is possible is a necessary requirement if you want to live a better life than the one you’re currently experiencing. Belief in your dreams, a plan to make them a reality and taking action each and every day towards making those dreams real, are important steps in living the life that you’ve dreamed about. You have to believe without a shadow of a doubt that you are worth all of the amazing things that you want for your life. Yes, there will be obstacles and challenges along the way, but when you want something bad enough; you can’t let anything deter you from your goals!

Wayne Dyer says “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” How do you want to experience life? Do you want to live your life believing that you have no control over your circumstances and live a mediocre, unfulfilling life, or do you want to experience life where anything is possible and you can achieve your heart’s desires as long as you are committed to do whatever it takes to make it happen? I’ve chosen to live my life without regret and pursue my passions to the fullest. It’s scary at times, but every milestone I encounter reminds me that it’s all worth it, and so am I!

Where to find Sandra…

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

Sandra, your clients are truly blessed to have such a caring and insightful coach in their lives. Thank you for sharing your triumphant story.

One Year on Twitter

17428103_sIt’s hard to believe a year has passed since I joined Twitter. Looking back, I can only shake my head at all the excuses I gave for resisting social media.

It would take too much time.

What if no one followed me?

What would I tweet?

All my fears were short-lived. I was hooked after the first day and was amazed by the number of Twitter-worthy topics that emerged. I always had something to contribute from my favorite quotations to posts and articles about writing to inspirational chats…

Over the past twelve months, I have tweeted almost every day and encountered a new set of friends and interests. I have participated in a number of chats, among them #SpiritChat, #PoCchat, #PFWchat, #InspireChat and #LeadfromWithin.

My numbers, to date…

6509 tweets | 2146 following | 2472 followers

Inspired by Intrigue Media


Community building.

An unexpected perk from the workshop, “Attract and Engage Customers with Social Media,” offered by Intrigue Media.

In addition to delivering an excellent presentation chock-full of information about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Online Marketing Specialist Vanessa Young succeeded in creating a sense of community among the four participants.

Photographer. Lawyer. Furniture Store Manager. Writer. Under normal circumstances, we would never have connected, let alone supported each other on our respective journeys. But that’s exactly what happened yesterday evening in the warm, inviting house at the corner of Westmount and Speedvale in Guelph, Ontario.

As Vanessa outlined fifteen key points to social media success, she included personal anecdotes and examples. We also shared and felt comfortable enough to ask questions and solicit advice throughout the presentation. So much so, that we went thirty minutes overtime!

My favorite nuggets…

  • Diversify and connect the different social media tools.
  • Use contests, deals and giveaways to create more buzz. Several examples were shared, among them Amazon and Starbucks gift cards, free e-readers and book donations to a charity of choice. Contests centered on creating captions and slogans were highly recommended.
  • Post and share relevant content, with the emphasis on quality.
  •  Less is definitely more. Don’t annoy followers with too many posts. Vanessa recommends no more than three Facebook posts a day. Keep the messages short and sweet. Twitter has a built-in limit of 140 characters. For Facebook, keep the posts under 180 characters.
  • Keep the hashtags down to two per tweet.
  • Most important of all—Interact and engage with your friends and followers.

Driving home, so many possibilities whirled through my mind.

  • A Facebook contest to celebrate the launch of the book cover.
  • Caption contests for Isabella, the protagonist of Between Land and Sea.
  • Joining LinkedIn.
  • Revamping my website.

Molte grazie Vanessa Young & Intrigue Media!

The Web Whisperer

get_image.phpOn Friday, Web Development Librarian Randy Oldham facilitated a lively and interactive workshop on “Writing for the Web” at the University of Guelph.  In addition to presenting five tips, Oldham provided well-placed humor and several practice exercises to reinforce those concepts. I appreciated the gentle nudges and urged Oldham to consider a sideline as web whisperer.

Be Concise

Words cost us brain power and time. If we imagine that each word has a cost and that our users are cheap, we will make an effort to get our copy down to the bare basic facts.

Good questions to ask…

  • What is the point of this page?
  • What content on the page fits with my expectations?
  • What doesn’t belong with the title?
  • Have I gone into too much detail?
  • Are my introductions too long?

Make it Scannable

Oldham informed us that three out of every ten people are color blind. So, when we use—and often overuse color—we are disenfranchising thirty percent of the population.

Other suggestions…

  • Break information into manageable chunks by using bulleted or numbered lists.
  • Keep sentences short and avoid long paragraphs.
  • Don’t use italics or the underline feature.
  • Use boldface sparingly and smoothly.
  • Select sans serif (Arial) over serif (Times New Roman) font.  Eyes will fatigue when reading serif font. Size: at least 12 point.
  • Avoid unnecessary images.

Use Active Voice

The passive voice is jarring to read and makes us sound robotic. On the other hand, the active voice makes sentences shorter and easier to read.

Be Conversational

Make web content friendly and easy to read.

 Link Smoothly

When you include tons of links on your page, you detract from your credibility. Aim for no more than five links in a post.

Colleen Tully and the Bees

colleenftullyColleen Tully likes to talk about beehives. Not the usual topic one would expect during a workshop on “How to Please Both People and Robots with Your Digital Content.” But the senior editor of Fresh Juice and former web food editor at Canadian Living effectively pulled it off yesterday at the University of  Guelph’s Third Annual Writers Workshop.

In comparing the social media community to beehives, Tully outlined the pitfalls that could be encountered by bloggers, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest users. We cannot and should not underestimate the intelligence of bees. The bees  know when we’re being greedy and will react accordingly if we annoy them.

So, how do we please our hive and get noticed in the digital arena?

Consider Tully’s suggestions…

  • Write concise digital content for easily distracted people who need to be entertained.
  • Your title will be vacuumed into other platforms. Make it count!
  • Break up copy into sub-headings, short paragraphs and lists.
  • Do not steal artwork for publication. Use Instagram or your own photographs.
  • Pick the social media platform you like and understand the rest.
  • Use conversations starters to generate more interaction on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Put space and time between each content share. Everyone hates a spammer.
  • Don’t push your content and walk away. Instead, share ideas from other sources, even your competitors.
  • Package content with timelessness, seasonality and trends in mind.
  • Keep in mind that social media is not the ugly stepsister to a website or print publication.

My First Month on Twitter


At the April dinner meeting for Guelph Writers Ink, Cindy Carroll dared me to start tweeting.  While I had set up a Twitter account in November, I still hadn’t tweeted. I didn’t know where to start and  felt that first tweet had to be significant.  I also wondered if anyone would follow me. No one in my family or immediate circle of friends was tweeting. Would I be the only person on Twitter without any followers?

Cindy had heard my excuses before, but that night she decided to force my hand. She found my Twitter page and became my first follower. I hemmed and hawed and finally came up with a tweet.  As I join the world of Twitter, I keep in mind Nancy Thayer’s famous quotation: It is never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise.

The next morning, I discovered a second follower. I thanked her and tweeted five more times that day.  I was hooked! I started spending more and more time each day in Twitterville, reading other people’s tweets and responding to them. I welcomed all their replies and learned all about mentions and retweets. I discovered some interesting hashtags–#amwriting, #writing, #cozymystery, #leadfromwithin, #lifeclass, #quote–which I visit regularly. I also participated in several twitter chats.

Four weeks have passed and I am very pleased with my Twitter progress.

482 Tweets


703 Following