Pen and Paper Mama sites

hand-and-pen-clipartWelcome to Pen And Paper Mama Too:

Conversations, Reflections, and Meditations

This site is a miscellaneous collection of Norma J Hill’s writing over the years. It started out as a Geocities site way back in the day when we had to do our own HTML … then migrated to Yahoo’s website platform (where we still had to do our own HMTL) … and finally has ended up here on WordPress.

Norma J Hill’s “Pen and Paper Mama” sites include:

  • which is my “hub site,” with links to all my other sites, as well as an emphasis on my “Pen and Paper Mama Services” business, which includes tutoring, editing, and writing, as well as related activities such as speaking engagements and mentoring writers on the basics of publishing and author sites.
  • which is a completely new site, and will focus on the writing, editing, and publishing aspects of my Pen and Paper Mama Services business (the blog which was found on this page over the past few months will now be located on my site).
  • Haida Gwaii Building Bridges which focuses on articles, stories, poetry and photos from the beautiful misty isles of Haida Gwaii (aka Queen Charlotte Islands).
  • Penticton Pedestrian which features photos, along with articles and poetry about the city of Penticton in the sunny South Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada
  • My Church Journey which explores my thoughts about spiritual issues

As you can see from the menu at the top of this page, this site includes the following:

  • “30 Days of Me” : A writing exercise from back in 2010, in which for 30 days I wrote humorous bits and pieces about my life.
  • “Creative Writing A to Z Challenge” : Another fun writing exercise in which I wrote 26 pieces, each focused on a word (or some cases, like X, many words–who’d ever thought there could be so many!) from each letter of the alphabet. If you like writing exercises, this is an amusing one to try.
  • “Creative Writing Bits and Pieces” : Just what it sounds like!
  • “Creative Writing Hillbilly Hilarity” : Though I wrote these silly “Hillbilly” bits and pieces years ago, they still attract lots of readers. If you’re in need of a good laugh, or some Hillbilly vocabulary for your writing project, check it out.
  • “Education and Homeschool” : Off and on through the years, I homeschooled my own 5 children, and also tutored other homeschooled children. I am still on the board on the BC Home Learners Association. This section of the site provides some thoughts and information about home learning and life-long learning.
  • “Family Stories” : Some years ago, I came across a site which listed dozens of questions as starters for writing family history stories. I had a lot of fun with it, and my grandkids and other little people are quite entertained by my stories of my childhood back in the day when the dinosaurs ruled the earth (or at least before the hippies ruled the earth…)
  • “Haida Gwaii Reflections” : This section will lead you to my website Haida Gwaii Building Bridges (or of course you can click the link right here …)
  • “Miracle Stories” : Do you believe in miracles? Check out these experiences and see what you think!
  • “Poetry” : From time to time I play around with writing poetry — and these are some of my efforts.
  • “Prayers and Meditations” : I enjoy journaling, and most of the entries in this section are from the 150 or so journals I’ve filled up over the years.
  • “Summerland Stories” : I was born in Summerland BC during my parents’ summer holidays … and in my childhood spent many happy summers, Christmas breaks, long weekends and more at my grandparents’ home there. Those experiences inspired me to write some of my memories, which have been published in the “Southern Exposure” newspaper and in “Archivos Magazine.”
  • “The Life Connection” : is a series of articles I wrote for a church newsletter a few years ago. The newsletter was distributed not only locally but to churches across Canada and the US 🙂

busy days

Did you think I fell off the map? It must seem like it as my last “daily blog post” was May 16. How do these things happen? Well… a combination of failing to stick to my “schedule” mixed with a lot of editing work, and extra last-minute tutoring jobs for students preparing for final exams… and all the other unexpected things that make up “life”!

But that isn’t to say that I haven’t been learning and writing. Some of the things I’ve accomplished in the past month and a half (besides all that tutoring and editing!):

  • catch up typing from my daily handwritten journal (things I can use for blog posts and other  writing
  • Indie Author Fringe webinars (listening and note-taking): How Author Associations Help Your Self-Publishing Career; Book Marketing Begins at Home; Get in Front of Influencers; Freelancing to Pay the Bills; Seven Essentials for Self-Publishing authors; Ten Amazing Tools for Indie Authors
  • attend May PWAP (Penticton Writers and Publishers) group meeting and June AGM
  • other webinars (listen and note-take): How to Grow Your Email List To Have a Profitable Course Launch; Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing – How to Make the Right Choice for Your Book in 2016; Mail Chimp tutorials; Writers Retreats; Using Blog Posts to Write a Book (Taylor Pearson); Getting Things Done–Productivity (David Allen); Using The One Thing and Time Blocking; Getting Noticed in a Noisy World With Your First Book (Michael Hyatt); radio program on writing memoir; How To Create Online Courses (Teachable); Leverage Your Books to Create an Online Training Program (Thinkific–Greg Smith); Seven Steps to Discover Your Calling (Jeff Goins)
  • research blog post articles (read and note-take): 2016 SEO by Brian Dean at Backlinko; information on using Mail Chimp (and then experiment with it–coming soon!); articles on writing good book proposals and synopses; articles on ghost-writing; how to choose WordPress themes; how to change documents from Word to Pages, and vice versa;
  • magazine and journal reading from The Malahat Review; Glimmer Train Stories; Faith Today
  • Book reading and note-taking: The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns; Keeping a Nature Journal (Leslie/Roth); Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas; The Heaviness of Things that Float by Jennifer Manuel; Business for Authors by Joanna Penn; and just for fun, a kids’ book: The Lickety-Split Princess by Lynn Manuel
  • go through old emails and copy home-school and editing advice I’ve given to clients that I can pass on as useful info to others in my Pen And Paper Mama blog posts; also copy useful advice I’ve given parents of my tutoring students that I can share with others in blog posts
  • writing lots of personal emails to friends, writing peers, etc. — I’m an old-fashioned letter-writer! Even wrote some old-fashioned snail mail letters 🙂 And picnics, lunches, coffee times with friends, too
  • fun work in my garden 🙂
  • attend two different Word Guild seminars in Kelowna: one (on writing and publishing) led by Elsa Schemenauer (prolific educator and author of 75 books) and one (on blogging) by Lester Patrick
  • did a lot of walking after our old car broke down–and we had to search for a new one! (well, new-to-us!)
  • planning my summer schedule now that tutoring is mostly done until September: big plans for summer: read all the books and articles I’ve been putting on my “wish to read list” — write a first draft manuscript for a book about my First Nation experiences (2000 words per day goal) — write more chapters of my “Summerland Stories” manuscript — write articles for magazines — start blogging regularly!!!

Whew! I had my last tutoring students, and finished 3 rather large tutoring jobs the middle of last week–and pretty much collapsed for a few days.  I’ve been spending lots of time out-of-doors enjoying a rather mild summer (though today is predicted to be 35 Celcius and yesterday was almost that warm), reading, playing with the grandkids at the beach, laying on the lounge chair in the shade with my (very tired) eyes closed and relaxing, listening to CBC radio… and now I’m off to get new tires put on our new-to-us car.  Looking forward to family arriving for summer holidays!

happy days

More exciting days!

The weather has been lovely–so much so that I got busy and set up the lounge chair and lawn chairs in the backyard, have been working in the garden, have taken walks to the park with the grandkidlings, and have had several meals at our little outdoor bistro set, as well as doing lots of reading and writing out there.  We’ve been having car trouble–but it’s the perfect excuse to do lots more walkabouts 🙂 This past weekend my sister visited from BC’s lower mainland, and we went to a lovely wedding reception for a cousin’s son and his new wife. They married in winter–but saved the celebration for a wonderful spring weekend, perfect for a family reunion. We also enjoyed Penticton’s award-winning Farmer’s Market and Downtown Community Market. And I must have caught a bit of spring fever, because I took the plunge and got my first tattoo! Then Sunday was hubby and my 34th wedding anniversary.

I’ve tuned into more webinars, including one on SEO.  And I’ve done some notetaking on books I’ve been reading about writing short stories and freelance writing.

I’ve also read The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns–which I can really relate to. Now I’m wanting to take a look at his other books.

And I paid my annual fees today for BC’s Teacher Regulation Branch, so I’m all set for another year (2016-2017) of tutoring.

It’s been an amazing month!

me at Writers FestivalIt really has been an amazing month … which does explain my unexpected absence from here 🙂 Anyway…

I was invited to help out at the amazing Okanagan Valley Writers’ Festival here in Penticton April 8, 9, and 10. I got to meet so many wonderful writers, publishers, lyricists, editors … take in some excellent workshops and panel discussions … eat fabulous food all weekend–you’ll definitely want to check out the website and Facebook page, and make your plans to attend the 2017 Festival. If you’d like to check out a few pictures of the Festival, check out these snapshots on my Penticton Pedestrian site. Oh, that’s me on the right in the picture!

I also attended the CHEC BC Convention in Kelowna on April 29-30, representing (along with 4 other great women) the BC Home Learners Association, of which I am a board member.  I got to meet home learners of all stripes from BC, Alberta, and beyond. British Columbia has some of the most flexible home learning laws there are anyway, and it was really awesome to share the different options with people interested in homeschooling, and to particularly explain the “registered” Section 12/13 option which gives great freedom to parents to design learning that really works for their children.

I’ve attended several live webinars, such as ones on Children’s Book Illustration and on Selling Books to Libraries.

I’ve been reading some amazing posts, articles, e-books and short courses such as “Audience from Scratch,”  Jane Friedman’s 2016 publishing chart, “How to Start Blogging” by Jane F., “9 Mistakes Memoir Writers Make,” “Take ‘You’ Out of Your Fiction,” “Contracts 101, The Grant of Rights Clause,” “Know and Find Your Audience,” “How to Start a Goodreads Profile,” “Become a Motivational Speaker,” “Pricing Strategies,” “8 Steps to Creating an Awesome Intro to Your Book,” “Business Planning Questions to Ask,” “Create a Start Here Blog Page,” “Facebook Pages for Authors,” “Become a Better Faith Blogger,” “Creating Space: The Case For Everyday Creativity,” “Create Content for Your Online Course,” “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Better Book Descriptions,” “The Learn In Public Workbook,” “How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book?”–now that’s a pretty eclectic list, don’t you think? I love learning!

I’ve been preparing for my upcoming email newsletter, taking a MailChimp video course on SkillShare, and studying at least 15 articles, e-books and short courses on email lists and creating e-books for email lists.

I attended a meeting where the new BC education curriculum was introduced–with a particular emphasis on how it will affect DL home learning programs.

I’ve read several books, including Writing Articles That Sell, Writing for Cash, and Writing the Short Story 

Of course, I have continued my regular tutoring, and added a new secondary school student (and quickly brushing up my rusty linear relations skills!). I also did a lot of editing in the past month, including a non-fiction book related to helping university grads find jobs, as well as editing for the 2016 anthology for the upcoming annual BC Youth Writers Camp at Okanagan College in Penticton in July.

I’ve gone out for lunch and picnics with writer friends–and yesterday I attended a meeting of a new writers group in Kelowna. It was great to hear their plans and meet amazing writers of all kinds. A new writers group has also started in Oliver/Osoyoos, just south of here. Of course we have a great group of writers here in Penticton as well. Okanagan writers are really getting together, supporting and encouraging each other, and learning together.

My daughter’s new job is keeping her super busy, so we’ve also had the chance to spend extra time with our grandkids–lots of trips to the park, blowing bubbles out in the front yard, picnics … keeping young! Meanwhile our old car has broken down, so we’re doing lots of walking while we look for a new set of wheels: good exercise in beautiful sunny Okanagan weather.

Oh, and I attended the AGM for the Okanagan Archive Trust Society. In the past I’ve edited articles for their magazine, “Archivos,” and have even started writing articles for it. I love history! Anyway, now I’m on their board as well 🙂

For Mother’s Day, I got some great new reading material from my kids and grandkids, so I think I’ll take a break now, and do some bedtime reading. Cheers!

So what do you think? Can I be forgiven for disappearing from here for a month or so? I hope so!

Snail mail and email lists and more

Just 2 tutoring students today–the other 2 had a sports tournament, I think. I created a personalized spelling assignment for another student, and did the usual reports and preps for my students.

I posted on My Church Journey blog. I also did a couple short edits for clients. I wrote a letter to my 4 sets of grandkids, using Microsoft Word, and made them a funny picture by using a combination of “shapes” and “clip art” from the “insert” tab.  The kidlings love to get snail mail 🙂  I also sent a separate email to their parents (my 4 daughters and their men), and also to my son (who isn’t a parent yet, LOL)! Family connections are important, right?

And I got busy planning the setup for my new email list and newsletter I’ll be getting going shortly. It was a really warm, lovely afternoon, so I sat outside at our little bistro table, working on the email list stuff for a good couple hours.

And that’s my “business” for the day … then there’s all the non-business stuff, but I think I’ve written quite enough!

A pleasant mix

Woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, and went out for a lovely walkabout through the oxbows near our home.  Couldn’t help snapping some photos to make a slideshow on my Penticton Pedestrian site. It really was a perfect time to see the oxbows!  If you haven’t seen them yet, why not click on that link right now?

More “business stuff” today–bookkeeping, computer and paper filing, as well as answering emails for an organization I belong to. Plus two tutoring students (and preps and reports), and some editing, and helping a friend write a query letter for a children’s book she’s completed.

And that’s enough for today!

Getting carried away

getting carried awayWell, according to my new schedule, I’m supposed to do my work from Monday to Friday and then relax on the weekend.  And yes, I did succeed in completing my Monday to Friday plans.  But then, you know, I got a bit carried away on the weekend.  The weather was beautiful, and I did outdoors things like walking along the beach and working in the garden–all good!  I also took some nice outdoors pictures … and that’s where I kind of got off my determination not to “work” on the weekend.

After downloading my pictures, I just had to post some of them up on my Penticton Pedestrian blog in a “Spring at the Oxbows” post (and, of course, put up a note about it on Facebook and Google+). And then, since I was already breaking my rules, heck, why not do an edit for a sweet little gal who’s been writing a story for the BC Youth Writer’s Camp anthology? Oh, and then I was doing some journal writing sitting outside at my little bistro set, and while I was there, thought, “Hmm…. I haven’t put anything up on the My Church Journey site for a while. Since I have already typed out some old journal entries that might be appropriate for that blog, why don’t I just edit one of this while I’m sitting out here enjoying the fresh air?” So of course I did … and named it “Little White Lies.” And then, since it was so lovely outside and I didn’t have anything else planned, I thought I might as well prepare a couple more MCJ drafts for future publishing on the blog–and, well, now I have nine posts ready to go! (Don’t worry, I won’t post them all at once…).

And then I was skimming through my email–and of course totally intending NOT to do anything work-related, but then I saw that a webinar recording about email lists was just begging me to listen to it … and an article about “How to Start Blogging” was also waving madly at me, and then there were a couple really interesting links I just had to check out to articles about how some people steal other people’s books, change the names of the characters, and publish them on Amazon in their own name …  But I’m proud to say that at that point, I remembered I’m not supposed to do “business” on the weekend so I went into cease-and-desist mode right then and there!

I promise … this next weekend I’ll do better. I’m not going to do anything business-related … well, okay, nothing but attend the March 8 to 10 Okanagan Valley Writers Festival!  LOL!

Today (Monday), business-wise, I had two tutoring students (and follow-up reports and new lesson preps, plus create/write an individualized spelling lesson), two short edits, one slightly longer edit, worked on an editing contract for a new client, did my weekly update for my Writing Calendar and my Business Binder … and am now finishing up with this blog post!  Relaxing work day 🙂

Whew Week One Accomplished

Whew! I have gotten through the first week of my new schedule … and managed to pretty much stick with it! Well, except for my Friday post here, which I am doing Saturday morning. I guess I was so relieved and relaxed Friday evening, that I just sat down to watch a documentary about the Antarctic with hubby–and next thing I knew he was steering me to bed at 9 pm, as I’d pretty much fallen asleep sitting there. And then I slept in for an hour this morning. Ah well, I feel wide awake and chipper now.

Yesterday was a record-breaker for our location! 21.5 degrees Celcius on April 1!  Trying to “April fool” us into thinking summer has arrived, I suspect.  I did rearrange my schedule a bit to ensure I got to bask in some of that lovely sunshine, but I still got everything accomplished so it’s “all good.”

I only had one tutoring student today; the other has not yet returned to tutoring after Spring Break. And I did the usual (necessary) business things, like bookkeeping and banking, emails, and so on.

After reading the Articles That Sell book this week, I was feeling inspired to start writing freelance magazine articles again, after a rather long break. So today I wrote a memoir/historical story to submit to Archivos Magazine (of the Okanagan Archive Trust Society), and sent if off. I’ve edited for them in the past, and this past summer they invited me to submit articles as well. My first one was published in their Fall issue. I had written the first draft of this new article last summer, basing it on old photos, personal memories, and dozens of comments posted on those photos on the Summerland Memories Facebook page. But being a first draft, it was far too long and rambling (kind of like these blog posts tend to be–sorry!). So yesterday I sat down, reworked it to half as long, then proofread it and chopped out a couple hundred more words.  So we’ll see if it gets accepted.

The grandkids came over after school was out, and we went out for a walk along the oxbows. We had fun watching eagles, ducks, a huge goose, and even some turtles basking in the sun on a big old log.  I got some great photos–I’ll be posting some of them on my Penticton Pedestrian blog.




satisfactionAnother satisfying day! Warmest spring day so far–close to 20 C!  Spent an hour and a half out in the garden this morning before my work day began. What a perfect start to a day.  Love it!

Then finished up the ebook I’ve been working on; well, finished up except for a few “finishing touches” to do. What I didn’t realize was that the Canva “Presentation” program I used only allows 30 pages–which is probably a good thing in the end, as it forced me to go through my plans and delete the “extras” so that I ended up with what is really important.  Now, next step: Do those finishing touches, set up my email list and e-newsletter, and post the e-book on my website as a gift to anyone who’ll give my e-list a try.  Coming soon!

Did some editing and tutoring, too.

And had a good time with a friend, hearing her exciting publishing news, and helping her set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for marketing her writing.

Oh! And had a nice time with the grandkids, too!

Yes, definitely a satisfying day!

Smooth Sailing

sailMy new schedule seems to be smooth sailing–so far, anyway!  I tossed together a delicious crock pot soup at breakfast time, so didn’t have to worry about making dinner at the end of the day–lovely!  I continued work on my e-book today, and am almost 1/2 finished the design. I’d already written the text, so just copy-and-paste now as I design each page. Lots of fun and very satisfying. I also finished reading and note taking from the “Articles that Sell” book. I had 4 tutoring students today, and all their reports and preps for next lessons are done. Two of my writing/ publishing clients emailed me with questions about the process, and I was able to answer them. I also did some “business” stuff (invoicing). And I finished off the day by attending our strata AGM.  I am very impressed with how much I get accomplished when I severely limit my Facebook time 🙂