Wattpad for Writers

My daughter and I were at Indigo the other day when we happened upon a flock of teens waiting for the featured author to arrive for a Q&A and book signing. My daughter is not a big reader and neither of us had heard of Anna Todd. Apparently she has been phenomenally successful on the platform Wattpad.com. She has over a billion hits on her fan fiction book “After”. The main character is based on One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles.
Fascinated by Anna’s extraordinary success story, we picked up a book for my friend author/artist Patricia Srigley and stayed for the Q&A. This young woman (now 26) wrote the entire book on her iPhone. THE POWER OF THE INTERNET!
She was sweet and humble and happy to hug every attendee and sign countless books!

Anna Todd Q&A and book signing in Montreal.

Anna Todd Q&A and book signing in Montreal.

I was so inspired by Anna’s success that I rushed home and set up my own Wattpad account. I zipped through “After” in a few days. It was very readable and fascinating to see what young adults are reading these days. It’s like a mild Shades of Grey for teens. Women authors have come a long way, baby, since Judy Blume days (“Are You There God? It’s me Margaret?”)
I passed the book onto my friend Patricia…who is now on Wattpad and will be sharing her fantasy novels and short stories.
Author/Artist Patricia Srigley's Scarecrow in the Graveyard.

Author/Artist Patricia Srigley’s Scarecrow in the Graveyard.

I investigated Wattpad and realized there are many famous writers who are using this site to promote and share their work, including Canadian Margaret Atwood. I created my own account with the intention of promoting my friend Patricia’s work, but realized I could also share my stuff on this site! I wrote several children’s stories for my niece and nephews when they were young. Today I decided to share Bag Lady Boots, which is based on a true story. Here is my very first Wattpad post:
Bag Lady Boots by Heather Boyd
Bag Lady Boots

Bag Lady Boots

Start by StARTing TIP: Wattpad is an on-line platform to share fiction, non-fiction, articles, poetry, prose and short stories. If you are a writer and want to share your words with the world, set up an account on Wattpad.com. Start by browsing what’s on the site, follow a few interesting authors and post a little something for the world to see…it’s FREE, EASY and FUN!

10 Tips from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

There is a lot of buzz around Marie Kondo’s tiny book of miracles. It is an understatement to say that this book has changed my life!

marie kondo book

“Tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions and the house they live in.” Marie Kondo

I have been on a journey towards optimum physical health for the past year. I have made radical shifts in my diet and adopted a practice of yoga and meditation.

I am from a family of pack-rats and tend to hoard stuff from art supplies to books. Luckily my daughter is a clean freak and my husband is very orderly, so there is a certain amount of peer pressure for me to keep my junk in order. The running joke in our house hold is that my daughter folds her clothes, my husband rolls his clothes and I stuff my clothes into their drawers!

Have a look at what my studio looked like a few years ago:


Things have changed since I discovered Marie Kondo’s incredible little book. This is not just another book about organizing your stuff. This is a bible about minimizing your possessions, respecting your belongings, being grateful for what you have, putting things in their place and magically keeping them there with no effort.

Too good to be true, you ask? If I can do it…anybody can! Here my top 10 Tips from the Konmari Method:

1. When you enter your home say “THANK YOU”. Be grateful for your abode.

2. When considering items to keep or toss, ask your self “Does this spark JOY?”

3. Create a dialogue with your clothes as you fold them. APPRECIATE and care for your belongings. “Inanimate objects can respond to human emotions.”

4. Don’t store off-season clothes. DO NOT DISTRESS your clothing by keeping them constrained in bags/boxes.

5. When sorting books, place them all out on the floor. Touch each one and consider if it brings your joy. “The moment you encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. Having fewer books increases the impact of the information read.” LESS IS MORE!

6. LET GO of seminar notes. “If the content is not put to use, then the course is meaningless.”

7. With regards to SENTIMENTAL items (journals, surplus photos, etc). “Process your past and discard items. Holding on to the past can result in missed opportunities for new relationships.”

8. When you let discard items, let them go with GRATITUDE for how they have served you.

9. ARRANGE hanging clothes in closets from heavy items at left to light items at the right. Fold clothing and place vertically in drawers so all items can be seen. Consider colour and place items with a gradation of tones from light at the front to dark at the back.

10. When we love our home and are surrounded by things that bring us joy our aura radiates HAPPINESS.

Folded undies!

Folded undies!


I roll my t-shirts like sushi and place them from lightest to darkest in the drawer.


My orderly pantry is full of healthy, unprocessed products. I hide the labels as much as possible. “Don’t overestimate the NOISE of written information (ie. labels). Decrease the visual information and you will have more peace.”

Start by StARTing:
Get and read Marie Kondo’s book. Just do it. Read it. Thank me later!

10 Tips for Avoiding Alcohol on Vacation

Our view from our balcony at the Sandpiper Beachfront Motel.

I just returned from a girls’ getaway for a friend’s 50th birthday at Old Orchard Beach, Maine. My friends know how to party and I knew that I would be faced with challenges sticking to my new non-drinking lifestyle. It’s been 7 months and my mind and body are filled with gratitude.

Life is constant stream of “coincidences”. When I returned home from our trip I was delighted to see a timely post from a fellow blogger I met at the BConnected Conference in Ottawa. Julie is a wife and mother who is a recovering alcoholic. She writes a humorous and inspirational blog called SoberJulie.com. Here is her recent post Tips for Sober Travel:


Julie’s post got me thinking about how I coped with being the only non-drinker on our trip. Here’s my list of ideas:

1. REFRIDGERATE: Book a hotel room with a fridge. Stock the fridge with healthy food and drinks. We kept fresh fruit and veggies, dips, cheese, sprouted bread, soda water, ice, and juice. Instead of going to a bar we made our own drinks and snacks. We chilled on our balcony or on the terrace beside the beach.

Fresh fruit and veggie plates.

2. BE INDEPENDENT: Travel with like-minded people that are open to doing their own thing. We congregated for supper, but during the day we often did our own thing.

3. BRING HOBBIES: Bring books, knitting, painting, cards, homework as an alternative to sitting around drinking. We stayed at a beachfront motel with a casual atmosphere. I brought my paints and enjoyed painting the ocean waves on the balcony.

Painting on the beach.

4. GET PHYSICAL: Take advantage of your beautiful surroundings and do yoga on the beach, in the forest or in your hotel room. Take advantage of the exercise room at the hotel and the swimming pool or ocean. Go for a run or a long walk with your friends or on your own.

5. MEDITATE: I love Gabby Bernstein, aka the Spirit Junkie, for her simple meditation techniques. Have a seat on the beach or in the nature and try some simple breathing techniques.

Backpack Meditation:

How to Meditate:

6. BE A BORN AGAIN VIRGIN! Join your friends in a celebratory drink with a virgin Pina Colada or Caesar when you are out.

Virgin Caesar on the beach!

Virgin Caesar on the beach!

7. HYDRATE: Drink lots of water. Stick with pure water on ice. Lemon water can destroy the enamel on your teeth, so be sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after drinking lemon water. Other than water, be sure to choose sugar-free drinks juices.

Keep your fridge stocked with healthy options.

8. LAUGH, DANCE AND SING: You do not need to drink to have a good time. Be sure to participate in the celebrations and let go of your inhibitions the natural way.

9. THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE WORM: You will be filled with gratitude when you can wake up early (with no hangover) and enjoy the sun rising over the ocean. I enjoyed getting up at 5am and wandering to the beach to see the sunrise.

Sunrise on Old Orchard Beach, Maine

10. EMBRACE YOUR IDENTITY AS A NON-DRINKER: Be proud of your decision to be a non-drinker. It is much easier to stick to the program when your identity depends on it!

The Real Reason I Quit Drinking

In the past year I have bean on a quest towards optimum health. I am approaching my 50th birthday and am seeing too many women my age suffering the effects poor eating habits, unbalanced hormones, stress and sadly disease.
I have always been known to have a sweet-tooth and giving up sugar was a daunting task. I never thought it possible, but when I started opting for healthy foods with adequate protein, vitamins and minerals, my desire for sugar diminished.
A week before my 49th birthday I went out with friends for drinks. As much as I intended to avoid it, I drank too much wine. Not only did my wallet regret it, but my body suffered the next day.
Drinking has been a skeleton in my closet for as long as I can remember. Although I never considered myself an alcoholic, many of my loved ones have struggled with alcoholism and it has destroyed several relationships in my family.
That night of drinking with my friends was my last one. I decided a week before my birthday that I was done with drinking. Maybe I have an all-or-nothing mentality, but for me the easiest way to say ‘NO’ is to say a definitive ‘Hell, no!’.
Since making my decision I have not questioned my choice. My body feels better, my brain is clearer and my wallet is fuller.
And what is the real reason I quit, you ask? I have finally recognized that my loved ones’ decision to drink is their own business. I can suggest, but have no control over their choices. I have come to terms with that. I relinquish all guilt and resentment on the subject of drinking. Everybody has their own journey to take, their own path to follow. I am grateful to be taking a healthier route and hope to inspire others to do the same.

Start by StARTing tip: If you cannot imagine life without sugar, alcohol or other addictions, imagine that it IS possible to live without. I remember when I quit smoking 25 years ago thinking that it would simply not be possible to spend time with my smoker friends.. It was like smoking was all we had in common! Sometimes our minds do crazy things to convince us to keep up our addictions!

BConnected Blogging Conference

A week ago I went to the BConnected Conference in Ottawa in search of inspiration with regards to blogging. I had been last year shortly after starting this blog and was very impressed with the content and relevance of all the speakers.

I didn’t go empty handed to the conference. I had been commissioned to custom make earrings and necklaces for the organizer, Lyne Proulx, and donated jewellery for door prizes.

bconnected conf jewellery

The atmosphere at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Gatineau-Ottawa was lovely and the food was delicious!

bconnected conf 1 food

My Top Ten take-homes from the BConnected Conference:

1. Chantal Bechervaise: “How to Make Yourself More Pinteresting” Convert your PINTEREST account to a Business account to enable verification of your website and to access analytics.

2. Dino Dogan: “Breaking into Media”. Simplify your message. Pare your message down to it’s bare essential so it becomes uniquely yours. Go on a relevant show with a specific message and a product to sell. (ie. book)

Dino Dogan wants to see you on TV!

Dino Dogan wants to see you on TV!

3. Elaine Lindsay “Google+ Hangouts on Air are the hottest ticket around” Hangout on Air videos are FREE and can be reused as content for your website or blog. Host your own TV show!

4. Vanessa Chiasson “So You Want to be a Travel Blogger?” Advice for better blogging: Create a provocative title. Explore storytelling. Add history/context if relevant. Vary your adjectives. Organize with subheadings. Post great photos.

Turnipseed Travel talks Travel Blogging

Turnipseed Travel talks Travel Blogging

5. Jennifer Pinarski “SEO from Start to Finish” Sign up for Google Adwords and Alerts. Optimize and republish old blog posts. Optimize your images (title, alt and description tags). Follow trending topics.

6. Tammy Plunkett “The Care and Feeding of Bloggers” 4 Keys to Optimum Health: Mind, Body (water, sleep, nutrition, exercise), Relationships (community) and Purpose. Take stretching breaks every 1/2 hour (set timer). Put self care on your to-do list.

7. Panel discussion: “Rules of Engagement: Bloggers, Brands and Sponsorships” Be your brand. Be professional. Engage with brands. Don’t be afraid to ask. You are never too new or small. Have a search bar on your website so brands can check your content.

Rules of Engagement for Bloggers and Brands.

Rules of Engagement for Bloggers and Brands.

8. Tony Perez “Navigating the Online Security Landscape” Use different passwords for every platform. Perform all software updates. Remove old plug-ins. Be mindful of external links on your blog (your blog can be at risk).

9. Julie Harrison: “Does Grammar Matter” Don’t use semi-colons! Proofread. Read your post out loud. Triple check headlines. Triple check apostrophes. When in doubt, look it up.

10. David Bird “Google Analytics: Uncovering your Blog’s Secrets” Acquisition, Behaviour, Conversion. Set up GOALS in Google Analytics. Track terms people search for on your site.

Start by StARTing TIP: Get on the mailing list for the BConnected Conference or a similar conference in your region. These conference are inspirational and fun and a great investment in your personal and business growth!

Coconut Oil to the Rescue!

coconut oil

Coconut oil came to my rescue this week!

I have suffered from cankers for as long as I can remember. I have tried everything from Kanka® to natural toothpaste to eliminating fruit and acidic food. When Googling coconut oil this week I discovered that it is effective for treating cankers. In fact, there are hundreds of uses for coconut oil.

Top 5 Uses for Coconut Oil

Melt a small amount of coconut oil and swish it in your mouth for about 5 minutes. Repeat a few times a day as needed.


I created a lovely mixture that I have been using on my face each morning. I gently massage it onto my skin while the shower is steamy. I massage it for a few minutes then thoroughly rinse it off. Not only has it eased away the dry skin, but it moisturizes at the same time and smells heavenly!
Here is my recipe:

2 Tablespoons coconut oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon medium to fine ground organic coffee


I work with my hands and am constantly washing them. I cannot stand the perfumes and chemicals that are in most hand creams. I discovered that coconut oil makes a perfect moisturizer. I apply it generously before bed and wake up with silky smooth hands! It is also great as a lip balm and as a massage oil!


At my Focus 5 Mastermind group today my friend Nathalie was explaining that she uses coconut oil as often as possible for its antioxidant properties. She spreads it on toast instead of butter and even dissolves it in her morning coffee! Coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation. It can also aid in constipation.


Coconut oil is a fantastic alternative to butter for people who cannot tolerate dairy. I made some amazing vegan Nanaimo bars with coconut oil in the filling and icing. (see recipe in another blog post). It can be used instead of oil to sauté vegetables and can be used to grease pans for baking.

Start by StARTing tip: Clear your cupboards of those products that are full of chemicals and fragrances and consider using coconut oil for a multitude of functions. It is economical, ecological and effective!

Eat Real Food Online Health Summit

health summit cover

I am delighted to have re-connected with an old school-mate from elementary/high school. Shirley Plant is a nutritionist and has created a most inspiring on-line summit to spread the word about the importance of nutrition and health. The Eat Real Food Online Health Summit runs from April 20-26, 2015. It is FREE during the week and videos can be watched for 24 hours after release:


The Eat Real Food Health Summit Logo 1

There is an incredible line-up of health professionals speaking about all kinds of topics including how to avoid or reverse illness.
Learn from top medical specialists, nutritionists and health foodies why it’s so important to eat real food.
Explore how functional medicine combines the best of traditional and alternative therapies to heal the body.
Learn time-saving tips on how to shop for and cook with healthy whole foods.
View entertaining and informative cooking demos with nutrition experts.
Hear stories about people who’ve healed their bodies from debilitating conditions by eating real food.
Topics include fertility, pregnancy, children’s behavioural and health issues, diabetes, chronic illness, cancer, M.S., weight-loss and much more.
If you miss the summit be sure to purchase the package for unlimited access.


Start by StARTing Tip: Entrepreneurs and artists you will be much more creative and productive when you take control of your health and fuel your body with real food and nutrition. Check out the summit for great ideas on how to begin to be the best YOU possible!

10 Tips for Creating a YouTube Video Challenge

day 1 spring diy challenge

I am very excited to announce my very first YouTube challenge. I have created the 7 Days of Spring DIY Challenge to share some fun craft ideas and engage my viewers to make and share images of their creations. Viewers are invited to share photos of their projects on Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter with the hashtag #7springdiy. I also created a Facebook Group for the challenge: https://www.facebook.com/groups/371944229663362/?fref=ts

Day 1 starts today, April 1, 2015. Here is my first video:

The process of creating the challenge has been challenging! I had a lot of ideas for projects, but narrowed it down to 7 that would be do-able with easily accessible materials.

I was originally inspired to create the challenge by YouTube’s Yoga with Adriene 30 Days of Yoga Challenge.

I am hoping that I will have a lot of engagement with viewers. I am moving in the direction of creating a new website that involves teaching, motivating & inspiring. This has been a great first experience in adding a new dynamic to my DIY videos and encouraging interaction with viewers.

10 Tips for Creating a YouTube Video Challenge:

1. Take your time to consider which projects/challenges are appropriate. Research and development is key.
2. Keep it simple. My challenge was going to be longer, but I narrowed it down to 7 days. Start small…it can be a 3-5 day challenge, just get STARTED!
3. Film a close-up of the creation of the project (I used my iPod) then film an intro with you holding the finished project. People like to see who you are and make a personal connection.
4. Create a cover image with text that will be used at the beginning of the video and as the video’s thumbnail when editing in Video Manager (you need to verify your Youtube account to be able to change the thumbnail). Make sure the cover image of all the videos in the challenge have a similar look including the name of the challenge and possibly your key hashtag for the challenge.
5. Create a SEO rich title, description and strategic tags for each video.
6. Create all your videos before you launch your challenge and keep them on “Private” until you are ready to launch. Make each video “Public” day by day.
7. Create buzz on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook by announcing the challenge is “coming soon”
8. Create a public Facebook Group for the challenge. Invite friends to join and share.
9. Launch your challenge by making the first video “Public”. Share on Facebook, Pinterest. Twitter and Google+. Add a 15 second video clip on Instagram. Be sure to mention your strategic hashtag whenever you post your challenge on social media. (My hashtag for the 7 Days of Spring DIY Challenge is #7springdiy )
10. Write a blog post about your challenge and share on social media.

Start by StARTing Tip.
Create a YouTube account, if you don’t already have one, and consider creating a video challenge. It can be in any subject area; DIY, cooking, exercise, self-improvement, business, public speaking…the sky is the limit.
Keep it simple and have fun with it…you never know how it will go unless you try!

Breaking up with Sugar!


I have known about the evils of sugar for a very long time. Despite the knowledge, the addiction has been pervasive for as long as I can remember. Sugar was generally banned in our household growing up. We were allowed a “Friday night treat” which consisted of a soft drink (pop). That was about it. I would binge on Frosted Flakes when I went to my friend Sharon’s house and devour bowls of Beeferoni and white bread (also unheard of at my house).

I remember secretly buying and making Jello and hiding it in our cold storage. It went mouldy before it actually set because I didn’t take the time to read the instructions properly! My sisters and I would go to the corner store and buy candy with our allowance (I made 25 cents a week for making the salad each night). When my mom did make Nanaimo bars for special occasions (her trademark sweet), I would binge and eat 7 at a time!

When I had my first job in Toronto (after 4 years as a starving student in Guelph) the stress of having a horrible boss was relieved by nights out binging on sugar. I gained 25 pounds in a short time, which is a lot considering my tiny frame.

After a year of the big city lifestyle I quit my job and moved to Montreal to become a ‘starving artist’. Of course I couldn’t afford to eat out as I did before. My diet completely changed and I become hyper aware of my food intake. I don’t even remember if it was because of a desire to lose weight or a control issue, but I began writing down every ounce of food that I would eat during the day. This obsession lasted two years. I became alarmingly thin, but my boyfriend liked slim women, so he never expressed concerns.

When I would visit my family in Ottawa, my mother and my sister would tell me how great I looked (having lost all my Toronto weight). When I look at photos of that time, I looked emaciated and anorexic.

I stopped having my period for several years and even thought I was pregnant at one point! Finally, as I became successful with my work and happier in my life, my obsession diminished and I stopped focusing on what I was eating. I allowed myself to eat regularly, but continued to have an addiction to sugar. I believed I had a sweet tooth. I had a reputation amongst my friends for having a sweet tooth.

In the last year I have been dabbling with healthier options. I have met a lot of women through my network that promote healthy eating and lifestyle. I have been exploring and experimenting with healthy recipes. I gradually started filling my cupboards with wholesome foods and eliminating the processed and sugary foods.

I now have a totally different view of food. When I go to Tim Hortons and look under the counter NOTHING appeals to me. It doesn’t even look like food anymore. It may be age (I’ll be 50 this year) or having educated myself about healthy alternatives, but I am very GRATEFUL for my new mentality.


Magic Mix
1 cup gluten free oats
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup ground hemp seeds
1/2 cup ground sunflower seeds
1/2 cup ground chia seeds
2 Tablespoons raw Maca powder
2 teaspoons organic ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

Pancakes instructions:
1/2 cup Magic Mix
1 egg OR 1 TBS chia seeds with (for vegan alternative)
1/3 to 1/2 cup almond milk
Whisk until combined. Allow to sit a few minutes to thicken. Melt neutral tasting coconut oil in a pan. Add scoop of mix and cook on both sides until brown and cooked through. Serve with sliced bananas and fresh or frozen berries and maple syrup.

I’m inspired by many vegan Instagram users that post photos of their healthy breakfast bowls!


I’m loving my naturopath friend Sue-Anne Hickey’s new cookbook featuring this zucchini crust pizza:



When I do have a sweet craving, I avoid processed sugar and opt for maple syrup, honey or agave:

I LOVE the Oh She Glows vegan cookbook given to me by a friend.


I have recently taken a couple healthy cooking classes at my grocer Provigo in Pierrefonds, Quebec.


Start by StARTing Tip:
STOP telling yourself that you have a sweet tooth and START exploring some healthier options. There are tons of online resources to find healthy recipes, cooking classes, on-line tutorials on Youtube, etc. Follow some healthy lifestyle gurus on social media and fill your newsfeed with healthy options!

Marketing on a Shoestring

ben franklin fail quote

Yesterday I attended the Women’s Entrepreneurial Exchange (We2) luncheon “Marketing on a Shoestring” with expert George Kiorpelidis of Small Business Marketing Formula in Montreal.

George’s presentation was clear and to the point. He highlighted the three reasons that clients will approach you with their business. Customers will go to you if they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you.

1. Put ORIGINAL material on your blog and Twitter.
2. Tell YOUR story.
3. Do what you do well…A LOT.
4. Build your reputation.
5. Build credibility.
6. Blog consistently.
7. Create a following.
8. Create landing pages that link to your website for every event.
9. Create an opt-in form on your website and on landing pages.
10. Use ATTRACTION marketing (pull vs. push).
11. Craft your elevator speech highlighting 3 main points to express ‘What’s in it for them’ (W.I.F.T.)
12. Be interactive on Linked In.
13. Be interactive on social media and blogs. Comment on others’ posts so people with seek you out and be “pulled” to your landing page.
14. Give relevant information and solutions to people’s problems. (without asking for something in return).

George recommended reading Gary Vaynerchuk’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”. (available on Kindle or Amazon)

Start by StARTing TIP:
Grab a copy of the book Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook with one click on Kindle. This book will inspire you to stop ‘pushing’ with regards to sales and start ‘pulling’ or attracting customers to you.

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