Monday, 22 June 2015

Ready to Conquer Your Arachnophobia?

Kajiki Town, part of Aira City, Kagoshima Prefecture

Welcome to Kajiki!  It’s a town in southern Japan and holds some incredible sights to see.  There’s the old road that used to be the gateway to Edo (now Tokyo) and the beautiful Ryumon Waterfall.  There’s another little gem here, a festival that occurs every year in the midst of the rainy season.  But you might not want to go there unless you want to cure your arachnophobia.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

4 Or More Pinterest Tips for Aspiring Authors

You’re an aspiring writer.  You’re set on publishing your book and you’re floundering in the editing stage.  You’ve heard about authors promoting their work on Pinterest and you thought you’d give it a shot.  Sound like you?  Well, that’s exactly where I’m at right now.

The problem is that all those blog posts are for people who have already published.  Looking to market your book on Pinterest?  Here are 20 great tips.  Are you an author who’s new to Pinterest?  This is how you should be setting up your Pinterest page.  There’s such an overwhelming amount of information out there!  I’m an aspiring author.  I’m not published yet.  What tips do you take and what do you leave?

These are the questions I’ve been facing lately and I’m out to solve them.  I googled for several ideas, and I’ve found some that resonate with me.  If you’re a writer looking to branch out into the Pinterest world, here’s some excellent advice.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Not Quite 28 Things I've Learned in 28 Years

This is a little late, but I was too busy being a lazy bum last week to post anything.  It was my birthday last week and I’ve not reached the ripe age of 28.  So far, it feels pretty good.  This year should prove to be an exciting one.  I’ll be moving back to Canada in July, going to my older brother’s wedding on August 1, and settling down into Canadian life once more.  Oh, and that includes the dreadful job hunting.

I wanted to take this time to copy +Brent Jones on Google+.  Brent recently turned 30, which is a huge milestone because the number contains a “0” on the end of it.  To commemorate that wonderful age containing a dreaded three, he came up with a list of 30 things he’s learned over the years.

I figured 28 rounds up to 30 less ambiguously than 27, so I want to do the same. 

Friday, 24 April 2015

A Letter to My Younger Self

Dear nineteen-year-old Kellie,

I know you’ve been going through a lot lately.  You’ve failed all your classes at university, quit your soldiers training in the Reserve Forces, and now you’re hiding away in the basement of your host family’s house in France crying your heart out.  I know it hurts to fail.  I know you want to give up and go home, but even home doesn’t understand you, nor have they a place for you.

I see and feel your pain.  You have responsibility for someone else’s kids and you’re trying to make it in a culture you don’t understand.  You cringe when your host mother reprimands you countless times a day for the smallest mistakes you make.  You can never predict when she’s not going to like something you’re doing.  She’s your best friend one moment and your enemy the next.  Your only escape is either the basement in the laundry room, home to cement walls to bruise your knuckles on, or the bedroom where you lock yourself in to drench your pillow in tears.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Motivation Monday Madness: 3 Blogs to Help You Land Your First Guest Post

Notice a difference?  Yeah, I changed Sunday Showcase to Motivation Monday Madness.  I tend to be more productive on Mondays than Sundays.  Cheers to the start of an old weekly showcase done on a different day!  I call it “madness” because people are usually unmotivated for the start of yet another boring work week.  (Okay, my week is not boring at all.  I got paid for playing easy English games and making sand mountains with preschoolers today.)

Yes, I did steal #MotivationMonday from someone.  I honestly can’t remember who it was I stole it from, but she’s more than welcome to get angry at me and tell me to stop using her awesome tagline.  Just throwing that out there.

On to the madness!

I’m super thrilled to tell you that I landed my very first guest blogging opportunity at Organized Lunacy.  There, I talked about being grateful for the help we get from people.  I’m pretty happy about it, so if you get the chance, I’d be super happy if you checked it out.

That being said, today’s showcase is designed to help you land your first guest post, and there’s no better person to ask for advice than Sue Anne Dunlevie over at Successful Blogging.  She’s the queen of guest posting and has some amazing insight for anyone wanting to be recognized by the bigger names in blogging out there.

I’ve stalked her blog many times, and if you ever have any questions about blogging, she gets back to you in no time.  She’s really nice and is dedicated to helping new bloggers launch their blogs.  These are a few blog posts of hers that have really helped me.

How to Guest Post and Rock Your Pitch

Kicking off is a post that covers everything you need to know about guest blogging in one simple post.  And it’s a guest post!  Imagine that.

Guest blogging is a great way to get noticed, and Sue suggests finding a blog that’s already popular.  Well, not like Huggington Post, but something more popular than your own blog.  Make sure you pick something related to your niche as well.

In my case, Luna Darcy was looking for something related to personal development, which is right up my alley.  She had a shoutout on Google+ for guest bloggers, so I jumped to the task with eager delight.  Turns out my post was exactly what she was looking for.

Sue offers more detail when getting the blog owners’ attention, such as follow their blog, comment frequently, and share their content.  In other words, be a stalker minus the creepy aspect of the word and be human at the same time.  You should also try to match the style of the blog in terms of how it looks and whether or not there are subheadings.

I’d love to go and on about it, but to avoid repetition or worse yet plagiarism, I’m just going to say you should just go check it out yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.

How to Write a Pitch and Get Noticed

It can be a challenge to get on someone’s radar when their famous in the blogosphere.  There are several ways to pitch to the blog owner you want to guest blog for, but most of them aren’t the right way.

Okay, let me rephrase that.  There are several bad ways to write a pitch email.  Sue lists a few.  What I love about this particular post is that it’s direct.  It’s straight to the point, and the examples are priceless.  It looks like she’s had quite a few rotten tomatoes filtering through her inbox over the years.

So how do you write a good pitch?  Sue lists 15 points including building a relationship with the blog owner, not insulting them, making your pitch brief, and not actually pitching.

What?  Don’t actually pitch?  How does that work?  You can find out more on her site.  Add it to your reading list.

Are You Making These Guest Posting Mistakes?

This is a guest post by blogger Wally Brown, owner of Vexcom Solutions marketing.  Wally goes through the process of how to find blogs to write for and how to test their credibility by checking out their website metrics.

The things you want to look for on a blog is how many sites are linking to them, how many social shares they have, and if there’s a lot of interaction.  A blog with more interaction is much more likely to increase traffic to your own blog.

Just like Sue’s post I mentioned above, Wally says to follow the blog’s rules about guest posting.  That makes sense, right?  It’s the same when you go to someone’s house.  You want to respect their rules, or else you might not get invited over again.  Or even when you visit another country.  You should follow the rules and regulations of that country.  After all, even if you’re only travelling somewhere, you’re still an ambassador of your country.

A little respect goes a long way.  The difference between following the blog owner’s guest posting rules and missing the mark will be whether or not they let you post for them.

Another point Wally makes is to write your best stuff for the site.  You want to draw people to your own blog, don’t you?  Well, I sure do; I know that much.  If you’re out to get noticed in the virtual world—which you probably are if you’re looking to guest blog—then bring out the best in you.  Write the most amazing thing you can come up with.

To cap it all off, I just want to add that guest blogging is not only a chance to get noticed.  It’s an opportunity to connect with other bloggers and build relationships with awesome people.  If there’s a guest post or podcast featuring someone, I usually go check that person’s blog out because they seemed so knowledgeable or friendly in their post or interview.  The way I see it, it’s about the community more than a struggle to get to the top.  After all, we’re all doing what we love:  blogging.  It’s a network.  Let’s connect.

Anyway, I’ll get off my podium before I get too off topic.  You should really check out Sue’s blog if you’re a lost newbie, or just a newbie in general.  Actually, just go visit her blog, whether old blogger or new.  Just do it.

Would you do me a favour, too?  Would you share this with other people so that they have a few resources to help them get started with guest blogging?  That would make me super happy, and the people you’re sharing with, too.  Happy blogging!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

5 Ways to Reduce Stress

Sometimes, you just get a little stressed out.  It’s usually on a day you least expect it, usually happens on your busiest day, and occasionally comes in the form of too many things on your mind than you can count.  I’m talking about that bad stress, the kind that sends your emotions and reactions into a freakish uproar.

For me, stress grips me on a full day of teaching and evening activities.  Actually, I was going a little crazy earlier this week… make that a couple days ago.  Truth to tell, I wasn’t even that busy.

Why was I so stressed out, you ask?  It’s because there’s a lot going through my mind, and when there’s a lot going through my mind, it’s so easy to get stressed out before I even start working.

Stress arises from a lot of pressure, and with my unpredictable teaching job, keeping up a blog, and working on a trilogy, some things that need to be done slip between the cracks (last Sunday’s showcase, for one).  On top of that, I’ll be ending my JET Programme contract at the end of July and moving back to Canada.  It’s only April, but moving day is already getting a little too close for comfort, and I have a hefty list to take care of beforehand.  Not to mention I have no idea what I’m going to do when I get back.  I’ll be starting from square one all over again, the bottom of the work status chain.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Just Do It! The Fool’s Guide to Self Discipline

People always tell me that I’m so disciplined or that they wish they had my sense of discipline.  I found it praiseworthy at first, but then it started to irk me.  The same people who were telling me these things had such low confidence in their own self discipline (or lack thereof) that I found it hard to believe.

Alongside those “wonderful” comments is the question, “How do you do it?”  Believe me, it’s taken me years to motivate myself to get things done, even things that I don’t enjoy doing.  But I can tell you that if you’re really determined about developing self discipline, you’ve got to have a LOT of determination.  Low self esteem will get you nowhere.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Sunday Showcase: Master Tips and Tricks on Productivity You Should Know!

“I’m too busy!”  We all use it as an excuse when the real reason we don’t seem to have enough time is because we don’t manage it properly.  Time management is a huge issue for people, myself included.  Just yesterday, I sat around playing games instead of getting done what was important:  this blog.

The good news is that I’ve been keeping up with Camp NaNoWriMo, dishing out a thousand words each day.  That’s productive, right?  Turns out, that’s the easiest thing on the list, and I have a lot more to do.  I didn’t start preparing for this showcase until yesterday, and truth to tell, I had originally planned on showcasing blogs about attractive blog layouts.

But then I came across a blog and an interview about being more productive.  Since I have such trouble with it, I thought I’d showcase them instead.  So here they are:  master tips on productivity you should be paying attention to.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

What Do You Do When Your Motivation’s Shot?

Holy shoot!  I just hit a wall.  So frustrating.  Here I was with all these wonderful plans of things to do today and now my motivation to do them is gone.  What do I do?  There’s got to be a way to get that motivation back, and procrastinating isn’t one of them.

I was sitting outside in the nice hot sun on Saturday wondering what my next blog post would be.  Then it struck me:  motivation!  It comes and goes and it never seems to be in the right place at the right time.  That was when I got thinking.  What things could I do to get back that motivation that hasn’t already been said before?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Sunday Showcase: 5 Twitter Tips I Learned From a 17-Year-Old Entrepreneur

When I started using Twitter, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I basically understood it as a social media platform that might help me establish a presence on the Internet.  Little did I know, Twitter has its own culture and it’s own rules, and if I wanted to land followers and find other aspiring writers or authors, I would have to learn something from experts.  A simple Google search helped me get started, laying down the basics.

Over the past month or so that I’ve used Twitter, there’s one particular expert I’ve come to admire, and it’s definitely not for his age. 

Thursday, 26 March 2015

From the Disgruntled Editor: 3 Grammatical Errors in Your Blogs You Should Be Avoiding

Get out your red pens, people, because here comes a very disgruntled teacher!

I admit, writing can be tough work.  You do your research, brainstorm, and maybe even make an outline before typing up your blog, essay, book, or whatever.  The thing is even after all that planning, your first type up is going to have errors.  And guess who notices them?  Me!  Me and all the other keeners surfing the Internet who pay attention to detail.  There’s nothing worse than reading a blog with fabulous content and running into all sorts of mistakes.

No matter how good the content, unless you fix up the mechanics, I’m going to be less inclined to read the rest of your post.  I might even close out of it.  Why?  Because proper writing mechanics creates authenticity.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sunday Showcase: 3 Blogs to Help Your Blogging!

This week has been very busy.  Alright, Saturday was busy, so I didn’t get around to planning anything for this week’s edition of Sunday Showcase.  But hey, now I have a brand new MacBook Pro to help me with my blogging!  My other laptop was just too slow, and trying to find pictures took FOREVER.  

We don’t want to take forever.  We want the ability to do the right thing the first time when it comes to blogging.  That’s why I wanted to feature blogs that provide tips and tricks for the newbie blogger.  I picked three again this time, and if you read my first Sunday Showcase, you’ll recognize one of them.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

How Can We Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others?

The other day, I read an article by Claire Musters called "Don't Compare."  She said that comparing herself to others was something she did "throughout" her life.  So have I, and so have millions of others.  This got me thinking:  what self help is out there to solve this problem?  A simple Google search revealed a whole lot.  The expression "beating a dead horse" doesn't even compare to how many times people have talked about this subject.  There are so many articles written by people who have all experienced the same thing and how they overcame it.  You could spend your entire life reading them.

So why do I bring it up?  It's because despite all the help that's out there, people still struggle with comparing themselves to others.  Some people don't notice it.  For others, it's a glaring issue.  Maybe we're trying too hard.  Perhaps we need to look at it from a different angle.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Sunday Showcase - 3 Blogs to Help Launch Your Freelance Writing Career

Lately, I've been contemplating the possibility of freelance writing.  The more I keep up this blog, the more I realize I like writing and could do this as a career.  It's funny how it's taken me twenty-something years to figure that out (since I was born, mind you).  Because of my insatiable thirst to find techniques for becoming a freelance writer, I searched the web for blogs that would aid my decision-making.  It turns out there are too many freelancers to list, and it's a whole new world I'd never even heard of.  And the answer to how to become a freelance writer?  There is no right way.  Yeah, I'm going to have to chart my own course.

That was until writers started finding me on Twitter.  Whether it be about social media or writing, people are more than willing to offer their advice, and it was partially through these people that I stumbled across these three blog posts this week that can help launch me into a writing career.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

6 Tips for Overcoming Shyness

Curtesy of Rainy Day Fun 
Believe it or not, I grew up being a shy, reserved person.  Any shy individual will understand how hard it is to express themselves to people, to speak in public, and to do anything unfamiliar.  Think back to your high school days.  Remember that girl who sat in the back of the class and never spoke?  You probably already forgot about her or didn't know she even existed.  Well, I was that girl.  Some of you reading this can probably relate.

Let me tell you a little secret.  Shyness can hinder your performance in life.  It can be so restricting that you can remain trapped in your own little cage for the rest of your life.  It doesn't have to be that way.  You can break out of your box.  It's not easy, but it certainly isn't impossible, either.  Here are a few ways you can break out of your shy shell.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Sunday Showcase: 4 People Who You Should Be Following!

I read a lot of articles, and occasionally I'll come across a few people or their blogs that really catch my attention.  So I came up with this new weekly blog idea that I like to call 'Sunday Showcase.'  Well, 'Sunday' ended up being relative this week.  It was supposed to be Saturday and now it's late Sunday night, but this post probably won't be finished until Monday.  I have my new second-hand Nintendo 3DS to thank for that.  Darn procrastination!

I see a lot of bloggers do this sort of thing, so I want to have one constant, weekly blog showcasing people I admire or blog posts that are well-written.  So without further ado, here is the first edition of Sugoi Sunday Monday Showcase!  This week's edition features people.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

5 Tips for Effectively Paying Off Student Loans

When I graduated from university, I joined the growing mass of adults in debt who have to pay back their student loans.  But unlike many, I was determined to get out of debt as soon as I could.  An overseas teaching job helped with that, and I was fortunate enough to pay back more than $20K in two years.  Now that was an incredible feat, and when I told another ALT (assistant language teacher) about it, she expressed her jealousy in the most direct manner she could.  She said, "I hate you for that."  How frustrating.  I was rewarded for my hard work with a blunt, ignorant statement.  She had the same job as me and was making the same amount of money, so she had every opportunity to do what I did.

What that person was missing was self-discipline

Sunday, 1 March 2015

There is No Future Tense!

This blog entry is brought to you by 'pluperfect'.  'Pluperfect':  the blooper of past perfect storytelling.  (Seriously, I hate that word.  It sounds like a blooper in the English lexicon that should be excluded from the dictionary.)

I follow a writing blog that discusses several factors in creative writing.  Among these topics is tense and how it is used in narrative.  Overall, the blog was a great read, but there was one thing that sent shivers of discontent down my spine, and it was in this one sentence:  "There are three basic tenses in English:  future, present and past."  Several grammarians, as well as linguists, would argue that there is something wrong with this proposition.  I used to think it was true.  However, I soon discovered its flawed logic thanks to my English grammar professor at university:

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Fantasy Pet Peeves

This blog is brought to you by "stereotypes".  "Stereotypes":  making unrealistic generalizations since the dawn of human reason.

I've been a fanatic of fantastical worlds for years.  I use "fanatic" loosely because while I love fantasy, I actually haven't read too many fantasy books.  It's shameful, I know.  That being said, I still have some musings about the genre, particularly in relation to Tolkien-esque masterpieces.  I understand how popular it is to mimic Tokien because his books helped revolutionize the fantasy genre.  My musings, therefore, cover certain fantasy stereotypes.  Those are the stories I have grown up to love, but there are some things I dislike.  Here are a few:

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

How Can We Combat the Cold in Japan?

The past couple days have been quite cold, and I've had to compensate by hiding under my kotatsu just to stay warm.  Problem is my legs are the only part of my body that I can actually fit under that thing.  My other heater has been failing to provide enough heat for my room, and that’s not because of the heater itself.  The reason is that the thin walls and floor of my apartment aren't insulated.  I said in a previous post that Japanese homes are built for summer, not winter, and that Japanese schools and students in this prefecture aren't prepared for winter.  That, in turn, affects students’ productivity in the classroom.  Therefore, I tried to think of some solutions.  Would it be possible to install insulation in the buildings?  What heating options are there?  And finally, how can Japanese students bundle up for the cold winter months?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Temperature vs. Productivity

According to Science Daily, "exposure to cold temperatures can help boost weight loss."  In the article, a study looked at Japanese workers who were put in a room for six weeks at 17˚C and reported that the workers showed a decrease in body fat.  Weight loss sounds preferable, but what about colder temperatures ranging from 0˚C to 10˚C?  In my last entry, I stated my concerns about how Japanese schools and students are insufficiently prepared for cold weather.  While weight loss may be a plausible, if not humorous, argument, I have reason to disagree.  After googling how the cold might affect the body's performance, and sifting through numerous links to health articles about extreme cold risks and hypothermia treatment, I finally came across something to support my argument.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Issues In Winter

This entry is going to be part of a series since what I have to say is going to be quite long.  I got this idea a couple days ago when I was at one of my schools.  Some things in Japan just irk me the wrong way.  But rather than just complain about the issues, I'd also like to find solutions to these "problems".  Don't get me wrong.  Japan has a lot of great things going for it, but every nation has its pros and cons.  So, let's begin with the issue then, shall we?

Every morning in winter, I wake up cold.  Now, some of you may call that shameful considering I'm Canadian, but please hear me out.  This is my third and last year living in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.  It's so warm here that on the one day it snows, people freak out and barely make it to work in their tiny kei cars (small, cheap cars with tiny engines).  That snow day comes in December, but most years it doesn't come at all.  In late January/early February, the morning temperature drops to about -5˚C, which, for comparison, could pass a typical spring or fall temperature in my home country (except Vancouver).  Despite that, though, I still wake up cold.

Sunday, 1 February 2015


I get some pretty random thoughts when I'm in the shower after a good workout.  Today, I got to thinking about colours.  It's a coming topic in the early grades of Japanese Elementary school or Kindergarten, mostly revolving around the question "What colour do you like?"  My default is green. For a number of years leading up into adulthood, it used to be blue.  It changed to green when I found myself acquiring an unusually large number of green accessories.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Starting Out

Last night, I had a glorious idea to do a regular blog.  That's pretty funny because I honestly have the hardest time keeping up with things, as anyone could note from my last blog, Sugoi Adventures.  But this one proves to be different, I reassure you!

That being said, I thought I'd start off with Youtube.  Why, you ask?  Because there are several Youtubers I admire for what they do.  Some of them actually make videos for a living and they have a substantial amount of followers.  They put out content that appeals to the masses, and they stick with their niche that focuses in on a certain fanbase:  self help, movie trailer spinoffs, gaming, and just