BOLO 2015 Readers РAmanda Jett̩-Knox of The Maven of Mayhem

The Maven of MayhemIt’s been a big, big year for Amanda Jetté-Knox, a.k.a. The Maven of Mayhem. She’s always been a writer with a strong, clear voice, a writer that invites you in with good-natured self-deprecation as she examines her own life and the nuttiness of her family. Despite several challenges with her three kids, and taking a while to figure out what she herself wanted out of life, Amanda always manages to write with hope, hilarity, and heart as she welcomes you to her life with two wide open arms.

This year, her writing got a new focus when her middle daughter bravely told her parents that she was trans, and looking to transition from male to female. Amanda immediately met the situation as we all would hope to – with love and caring and passion about raising her daughter to be the happiest person she can be. With her daughter’s full permission, Amanda has been sharing their journey as she learns all she can – and sometimes muddles through the new parts – with absolute positivity and acceptance. The mixture of touching stories with laugh-out-loud commentary makes for compelling reading as we follow them both through a time that is sometimes stressful, but most of all full of joy.

The trans world could not have asked for a better spokesperson at a more critical time – but setting aside any importance, Amanda’s writing just makes for a damn fine read. We’re lucky to be able to share one of her great stories at Blog Out Loud.

BOLO 2015 Readers – Ross Brown of The Brown Knowser

The Brown KnowserRoss is becoming a fixture at Blog Out Loud, but that’s only because his writing is just so darn good. Over on his blog, The Brown Knowser, Ross isn’t afraid to get personal. His stories often tell tales from his past, exploring his thoughts as a child, as a teen, as a young man – and today, as a husband and father. He has a way of turning small moments into turning points, into significant details that seemed small at the time but, looking back, had a big impact on who he has become.

He’s constantly pushing himself to grow more, too. He’s into photography, and the images on his blog – often of cool and unique spots around Ottawa or from past travels – are always lovely, fascinating studies in texture and colour. This year, he’s pushing himself outside of his comfort zone by asking 100 strangers on the street for a quick portrait on the go. He’s already exploring the world with his new camera and seeing things from exciting new perspectives.

He’s also about friendship, and relationships, and what it means to be a part of this world – how we relate to each other, and what his role is in all this crazy stuff we call life. His blog is his life – and it’s a life worth examining. Listen in on one of his thoughtful tales at this year’s Blog Out Loud.

BOLO 2015 Readers – Astra Groskaufmanis of The Dustbunny Chronicles

The Dustbunny ChroniclesAstra Groskaufmanis knows hockey. As a long time hockey mom, she’s spent hours in early-morning rinks, nursing a coffee and inhaling zamboni fumes, and she’s captured all the bitter glory on her blog, The Dustbunny Chronicles. With three kids hitting the rink on a regular basis, there’s plenty of fun and funny stories to tell.

Her upbeat, affectionate tone finds all the sweet moments in at the very heart of Canadian life, creating a perfect portrait of her life as a mom. Whether she’s talking about poutine and Beaver Tails, politeness standoffs at Tim’s, or interesting news items from the CBC, Astra is sure to be sharing a story with an “we’ve all been there” quality. There’s something about life in Canada that runs a common thread through our lives, and Astra can always put her finger right on the funny bone of what it means to be a part of this great country.

Astra also brings the slapstick (ha!) to her role as humour columnist over at HockeyNow, and she’s bundling some of her favourite hockey stories into a memoir to be released this spring called Offside By A Mile. Come get a little window into her storytelling as she takes centre position at Blog Out Loud.

BOLO 2015 Readers – Joe Boughner of The Naked Dad

The Naked DadJoe Boughner of The Naked Dad is one funny, funny guy, and there’s one thing he knows how to do perfectly: go big or go home. His writing is sharp and witty and walks the fine line between big and over-the-top – like a true master of humour, he manages to somehow keep it all just barely under control. Parenting, politics, and personal relationships all come under fire and, when given the Joe treatment, will have you thinking about the big issues while laughing your butt off.

Whether he’s writing an ironic ode to his daughter’s Koosh balls, a biting indictment of winter (“the Nickelback of seasons”), or offering up sincere praise of those who coach kids’ sports, he has something real to say, and a sweetly snarky way of saying it. He’s a smart guy who gives a lot of warm-hearted thought to how he can be a better parent, how he can make the world a better place, and how he can find a truly great breakfast sandwich, and it all combines into a really entertaining blog that will give you lots of meaty stuff to chew on with a side of smartass.

As one of just two dads over at the Yummy Mummy Club collection of blogs, Joe brings a unique and welcome point of view to the parenting conversation. Come laugh your butt off with Joe at Blog Out Loud.

BOLO 2015 – Allison McCaskill of Bibliomama

BibliomamaIt’s hard to decide: they should obviously make a sitcom about Allison’s life, but should she be the star, or the wacky, scene-stealing, totally hilarious neighbour? Thanks to her blog, Bibliomama, you won’t really have to choose – you can read all the hilarity for yourself, and with Allison’s open and sassy style, you’ll soon feel like she’s living right next door to you.

Allison has a knack for finding the funny in everyday life. Whether she’s reviewing a book (positively or negatively), capturing the unintentional amusement of raising a tween and a teen, or describing one of those little socially awkward moments that happen around town, she’s able to have you chuckling and nodding in total empathy. She’s also completely honest about her struggles with depression, sleeplessness, and a frequently travelling husband – but always comes back to find the good humour and hope in every situation. She’s the kind of friend that you want by your side when you’re watching a really bad movie, or dealing with kids on a field trip, or heading out to a potluck with a lop-sided cake – her snark and supportiveness and smarts will get you laughing every time, and make every situation seem much more endurable.

So welcome a friend, maybe even buy her a nerves-calming drink, and share a lighthearted moment with Allison at Blog Out Loud.

A Million Thanks

It’s done! We’ve been through all the great submissions for BOLO this year and found 10 blog posts that are a great representation of bloggers in Ottawa. Everyone who submitted should have received a notification email – if not, let me know. The readers will be announced on this blog over the next couple of weeks, leading up to the event on Tuesday, April 28.

I’d just like to take a minute to thank our panel, all of whom worked very hard and cared very deeply about doing a great job. I couldn’t run this event without them and can’t thank them enough.

Zoom of is an Ottawa institution. Her blog is a thoughtful place full of sensible politics, fun travel, delightful craft and art projects, social welfare, and thoughts on life in the capital city. She’s a lovely, down to earth lady who has a way of writing a story so it’s at once entertaining, moving, and compelling. Although she’d be the last one to claim she knows it all, you could do a lot worse than take Zoom’s advice on just about everything.

Tanya of Spydergrrl On the Web has been a past reader and is our totally awesome live-tweeter during Blog Out Loud. Her blog might just be the most fun place on the web – a compilation of all that is geeky, nerdy, and plain old super cool on the web. She’s got lots to say about women in tech, cool LEGO sets, awesome phone apps, geek fashion, and cutting edge science discoveries – all nicely packaged for you in little bites of enthusiasm and joy.

Nat of From Nat’s Brain has been out of the blogging scene as a writer for a while – and that’s too bad, as her frank and fresh voice was always a source of tell-it-like-it-is wisdom and humour. While she’s putting her creative talents to good use at her day job, she still manages to be an avid blog reader and can usually be found dishing out bon mots on Twitter.

Jenn of Dropping the F bomb… has also been taking a break from blogging lately, but her writing lives on in legend – she brought down the house with one of the most popular readings at the third Blog Out Loud. Bold, tough, yet also sensitive, Jenn’s writing explores her life in an open and thoughtful way. You can find her kicking around on Twitter these days, too.

Krista of Life in the Hutch has one of the warmest blogs on the internet, full of sweet, inviting stories of her family life and her adorable tots. Her stories come from the heart and capture the small moments of everyday life that might otherwise go overlooked. Best of all, her photos, which adorn almost every post, are gorgeous – similar little snapshots of details and little things that you might not normally notice.

Kim of Kimperative is an inventive writer with a unique voice. She manages to bring poetry to her prose, capturing events with magical words that make you feel as though you were right there with her. She shares her past and present with an open heart and an insightful way of putting it all into perspective – whether she’s writing about the big events or the everyday things. She’s been working on fiction lately, and we can’t wait to get a hold of her publications.

Lee Ann of A Journey Through Words is a published author of two books of “living history” – factual stories told in a delightfully entertaining way that will keep you turning the pages. Her blog is a similar source of stories of her own past and current life, each one told like a small short story and leaving you with a warm sense of nostalgia. A longtime supporter of Blog Out Loud and a past judge, you may remember Lee Ann as the introductory speaker for this event last year.

Thanks again to the panel – you guys rocked it and the results are great. Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Submit Submit Submit!

Just a reminder that submissions for BOLO 2015 are due this coming SUNDAY, March 29. Submissions have been quite slow this year so if you are at all considering it, please submit! You can email a link to your favourite post from the past year to

In other news, Blog Out Loud is officially up on the Writer’s Festival Website. It’s a free event, so you don’t need to buy a ticket, but you can go there to RSVP – they do appreciate getting a feel for numbers in advance. So if you know you’ll be there, head on over and RSVP.

New Sidebar Graphics

It’s kind of old fashioned these days, but if anyone would like a sidebar logo to add to their website, I have new ones for 2015 available.

There’s a big one:

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And a smaller one:

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For each, right click to download the image if you’d like to store it locally. Or, just copy the code under each image and paste it into a text widget in your sidebar.

BOLO 2015 Location Info

It’s official – the Writers Festival has a new location! This year the festival and Blog Out Loud will be at Christ Church Cathedral at 414 Sparks Street (that’s the official entrance, but there’s also a back entrance at 439 Queen).

Parking may be a challenge – the church has a small lot to the east of the building but I’m not sure how big it is. Centennial Public School is not too far away and there are a few pay lots along Queen, one block to the south. If anyone knows of great parking in the area, please comment!

We will not be in the nave but rather in one of the smaller side rooms (but it will be set up with food, yay!). I’ll have signs up to direct you when you arrive.

Just a reminder that BOLO is on Tuesday, April 28, and will start at 6:45 sharp. Submissions for reading cut off on March 29.

Open for Business

We’re officially open! If you’d like to read at Blog Out Loud 2015, now is the time to submit. Have a look at your blog posts from the past year and pick out your favourite (going back as far as January 2014). You can submit up to two posts for consideration.

Posts at the event should be able to read aloud in five minutes or less, but don’t worry too much about the length right now. If it’s your best, send it in, and we’ll work with the timing – if it needs to be edited down later, we’ll let you know.

What are we looking for? Posts that are funny, sad, angry, or moving; posts that tell a story or express an opinion; most of all, posts that show us who YOU are and showcase YOUR personal voice.

Just a reminder that the event is on Tuesday, April 28, so if selected you’d need to be able to come out and read that night.

I’m also looking for another judge or two for the selection panel, so if you’re interested in being a part of the evening but can’t submit or don’t want to submit, then consider joining the background team.

To submit, send a link to your selected posts BY SUNDAY, MARCH 29 to:

Write to the same email to ask about becoming a judge.