Saturday, July 7, 2018

Where Have I Been?

I've been away for a while from this world of words. We grow and change, are challenged and tested, distracted and detoured, and sometimes just have to take a step back. Even though part of me has been elsewhere, this place of words and thoughts and dreams and imagination has truly never been far from my heart. I look forward to coming back, and maybe not picking up exactly where I left off, but most likely to just start anew. I know that writing is and always will be in my heart and I know it will come in dribs and drabs (like what is happening right now as I write this!), but for now this is as good as it's gonna get.

Other things have consumed my attention and my energies - I have been needed elsewhere - all while finding outlets that have me escaping somewhere other on than a blank page. I have family, a busy job, and my love of archery - a perfect get-outside-and-escape activity - that all have drawn my attention away from my usual molding-of-words. Words are an escape, I know that deep down, but for now I have to do what works for me in my present life.

So I'll be back - heck, I know I've been already gone so long - but I won't be gone for as long.

Thank you for coming by - I hope you'll come back - and always remember to to follow your heart.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Another Writing Self-Help Story

I recently took a needed hiatus from my writing – self-induced yet situational. I couldn’t write and I needed to step back. Other things took my focus away – family, life stress, etc – and what I needed to do was turn my attention to something completely different and out of the norm for me.


Writing is and has never been far from my soul, but given that various personal factors were consuming my mind and heart, nothing was making sense. Nothing worked. Words jumbled. Emotions blurred. Fingers froze. I wanted to write. I needed to write. I knew that if I simply wrote something, ANYTHING, that that would be the answer. Sure occasionally I had a few moments of clarity and inspiration, and a first chapter would be written, a few plots fleshed out, and a few ideas entertained and written down.

But I never got further than those false starts, idea jotting, plot scheming. But, I kept telling myself, at least I still have the desire, the passion, and the want.

It just wasn’t the right time for me.

But still guilt consumed my soul; self-doubt made me nauseous. Was I now a has-been? Was I washed up? Was the writer I was before a total sham? Was I a fraud? Was that life I had over?

Yet, the desire, passion and want – never mind all the plot scheming, idea generating, and false starts – never left me. All that guilt, self-doubt and nausea was a mere second to the passion, desire and want that I knew was still there. I just needed to NOT write for a while. I had to give myself permission to NOT write. I had to allow myself to let go of the guilt, ignore the self-doubt, and simply take a Gravol for the nausea.

Because deep down I knew I was a writer and always would be a writer. Maybe I was in a writer’s mid-life crisis, I don’t know. And I know even as I write this, I’m still not there, and I have to keep pushing away the guilt-laden mantra ‘you’re only a ‘writer’ if you’re writing.’
Well – screw the mantra.

I would write when the time was right, and when I was ready. When I had sorted through my SELF and when I knew it would feel right. I kept pushing myself – flogging a dead horse, as it were – and trying for something that wasn’t meant to be AT THAT TIME. And the more I pushed for something that wasn’t there – that wasn’t meant to be – the worse it got.

I didn’t need anyone else’s idea of what a writer is ‘supposed to be’ to define who I know I am.

A writer.

So back to the archery.

With all that was going on in my life, I had a focus – something bigger than me, something different than me, and something beyond me – and that was archery. It could have been pickle ball, curling, bowling, or cricket – I don’t think it would have mattered. But archery has become something bigger than I had ever imagined for myself. It has been something that has kept me active and moving. Something that has kept me moving forward and not back. You HAVE to erase all that is bugging you at the time in the moment of each shot. The sport has had me toughening up mentally – it truly IS a game of mental strength – and has had me learning how to deal with highs, lows, competition and intimidation. But most of all, I have had to learn to get out of my own head - get out of my own way. Because recently I learned I was my own worst enemy. No snotty competitor, no ‘big shot’ who would try to cut me down because I’m a girl (happens everywhere), and no injury could truly bring me down. Only allowing any of those to get into my head would bring me down, and that would be my fault if I let them in, not theirs. I had to learn that I was responsible for letting people or situations get in my own way. I had to get stronger and tougher. I had to remember that during times of weakness that I was so much more than the guy or girl who could try to knock me down - and most of the time that girl was me.

And that doesn’t just apply to archery.

I realized recently that I was responsible for letting things get to me. People or situations, stress or sadness, could not rule me. I had accomplished so much – in life, in my writing, in my little archery ‘career’ that was only in its infancy – so why would I let little things get into my head?

As I write this – see? I AM writing – my archery club has started a 13-week tournament were registrants from across Canada sign up and each week your score is submitted and tallied against others in your respective category. At the end of the 13 weeks, your top 6 scores get averaged, and a winner in each category is announced.

I won gold last year.

I won gold despite during the whole 13 weeks I was a stressed out wreck. Truly. But I get like that. I overthink, I over-do, I over-worry. It’s supposed to be fun! It’s supposed to be engaging! Why was I acting and feeling like a freak?

But of course, I got in my own way.

Back-track for a moment to the Spring where I went to a national championship in Maple Ridge. It was my goal to go – just to know, for ME, that I had done that. I had no hopes of winning anything – I was up against big shots – but I wanted to know for MYSELF that I had done that. And despite sitting in the parking lot of the range crying after practice the first day there – I was overwhelmed, felt like a fool and felt like I was way beyond in-over-my-head – I forged on in 32degree temperatures with non-existent mascara that had melted away in the heat and came in fourth.

And I sang the whole way home in the car knowing I had done that. I. HAD. DONE. THAT.

Little old me.

So fast forward to the beginning of January and that 13-week tournament. I’m not cocky, nor over-confident, but I was secure in the knowledge that I could do this – look at all I had accomplished! – and I had the experience both technically and mentally to do things like this.
The first day I was calm. No problem. I can do this. I was prepared for a few false starts, which is natural, and the slate was clean – last year’s gold meant nothing now. I had to just do what I could do NOW.

And of course, I lost it. I stressed, shook, sweated and near-barfed. I got myself so psyched out for no reason. I let other competitors get into my head. My equipment went wonky. I had cramps. Outside life stresses weighed me down.

And my first scores were horrid.

And my second scores were horrid.

I lost sleep.

My heart raced.

I couldn’t shake it off the panicking, all-consuming feelings that made my heart race and my spit dry up.

I had to get my mental game on and I couldn’t.


But then........

I fell back on what I knew how to do, and what WOULD help.


I didn’t write about this immediate tournament, I wrote about that national championship that I had done.

Chicken Soup for the Soul recently had a call for submissions for an upcoming book ‘The Empowered Woman.’ True, I hadn’t been ‘writing’ lately, but as I said above writing was never far from my mind. I knew I wanted to do a story for this book, but was hesitant – how could I empower others if I, frankly, wasn’t exactly feeling very empowered? What kind of a sham would I be even entertaining writing a story for them on this topic give my constant state of self-doubt?

But I knew – or at least hoped – that maybe my perseverance and accomplishment of my goal of competing in that national championship MIGHT hopefully inspire someone. I hoped that my own sense of empowerment, independence and confidence gained from competing in that tournament might help someone to do something beyond their insecurities.

I knew the deadline was sometime in January, so I had to be quick. I knew I had write about what I had done during that national competition to not only help someone else (if they published it), but mostly I had to write about it to for myself. I had to remember what I CAN do, would I COULD do, and what I HAD achieved. If I was going to get through these 13 weeks, I had to get out of my way and remember a mantra I had come up with after that national tournament – ‘If I can do THAT, I can do anything!’

So I wrote about the experience – and finished it in a day. I wrote SOMETHING and FINISHED it! Writing gave me perspective. It was cathartic.

It was empowering.

It was timely.

And it was only after I finished and patted myself on the back did I think ‘gee, I better go check on the deadline for that.’

I wrote it on January 9.

The deadline was January 10th.


Well if that wasn’t meant to be, I don’t know what was....

The act of writing my accomplishment – which was both self-serving and hopefully an inspiration to someone else – along with other mental strengthening tactics I acquired, I settled myself down and have, as of today, competed twice more in the 13-week tournament CALMLY and without self-doubt. Without negative thought. I refuse to feel that stress again – this is supposed to be fun! – and I refuse to let anyone get into my head – especially if that someone is me. My last two scores were better than I had ever imagined – but it wasn’t about the scores. It was about me getting out of my own way – out of my own head.

All I had to do was write.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Happy Birthday to the Classic Novel JANE EYRE

In October of 1847 - one hundred and seventy years ago - the classic novel ‘Jane Eyre’ was published by Smith, Elder and Company. The author’s name on the cover was ‘Mr.’ Currer Bell.

But ‘Currer Bell’ didn’t write the book, but Ms. Charlotte Brontë (April 21, 1816 – March 31, 1855) from the village of Haworth in Yorkshire, England. Charlotte had been writing and submitting short stories and poems to publishers under the name of Currer Bell, and despite her stories being rejected, she kept writing. It is said that in 1846 while on a trip with her father to Manchester, England in which he had to have surgery, Charlotte began writing ‘Jane Eyre,’ a semi-autobiographical novel that would help cement her firmly in literary history for generations to come.

Back then women simply were NOT 'writers', never mind published writers – writing was deemed appropriate only for men. So when THE END was written on the final page of ‘Jane Eyre’, Charlotte Brontë knew her male pseudonym would have to yet again accompany her manuscript to prospective publishers. She and her sisters had already cloaked themselves with men’s names in the literary world – much-needed if their work was going to get noticed – and a book of poems had been published under the co-author names of Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell - Currer for Charlotte, Ellis for Emily and Acton for Anne. Emily and Anne also published individually under their male pseudonyms.

Six weeks after sending out the manuscript, ‘Jane Eyre’ was published and was an instant success. Charlotte earned 500 pounds for that book; twenty-five times her salary as a governess, which was a tremendous amount for those times. Controversies, myths, fabrications and cover-ups of those times obscure the true story of how the real identity of Currer Bell – as well as Ellis and Acton - came to be, but the authors’ true identities as females didn’t seem to affect the success of ‘Jane Eyre’ as the book launched Charlotte into the literary world, forging close relationships with William Thackery and Elizabeth Gaskell. But it was during the writing and publications of her not-as-successful next novels, ‘Shirley’ and ‘Villette’, that Charlotte was met with family tragedy. The deaths of her brother and sisters brought on a loneliness that seemingly forced her into a loveless marriage. She soon realized the duties of marriage and caring for her ailing father made writing impossible and she died of pneumonia during her pregnancy not having written anything further of note.

Fast forward 170 years….

I first read ‘Jane Eyre’ in my grade nine English class, and I was instantly hooked – a forever fan. Yes, the writing style of that era was something new to my 80's child-self. I was used to Nancy Drew books, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dream teen romances, Danielle Steele and I was just starting to dabble in Harlequin romances (I read A LOT in my teens). Not that there was anything wrong with what I had been reading up until then, but written works from the Victorian Era was quite different and challenging for my 15-year-old self.

And I’m so very, very thankful the school’s curriculum had us read this classic novel. We analyzed and over-analyzed the novel, and countless essays were penned with fervour about the classic (the beginning of my writing career!). Reading the book at that age broadened my world, whetted my writing taste buds, ignited my romance reader/writer ways, and initiated my appreciation of historical literary fiction. Would I have ever picked up such a book later in life if I hadn’t been handed that classic? Maybe, maybe not. We can never know what the future holds. Charlotte Brontë had no idea that her novel in which she had to disguise herself as a male author to get published would be still appreciated 170 years later, either.

My life-long love of the book is still strong. I have numerous editions of the beloved story of which I have re-read countless times over the years, I once met a hunky English-man with a dog named Pilot (spoiler alert) - HELLO Mr. ROCHESTER! - I’ve watched many Hollywood renditions of the story on the big screen and love them all (despite the movie critics’ cranky ways), and I still love the famous line that goes….

But no more spoilers! You must read it!

Despite my love for the novel and appreciation for historical literary fiction I’m not a historian, and any errors made here are strictly my own: may the ghost of Charlotte Brontë haunt me forever due to my inadequacies. But when she does come visiting to scold me for my historical shortcomings, she better be ready as I’ll have cake and tea waiting to celebrate the birthday of her timeless novel that will always hold a dear place in my reader heart.
(painting of the Brontë sisters by their brother, Patrick Branwell Brontë)

Be sure to check out the Brontë Society, a group committed to the preservation of the Brontë Family and their works.

Articles of interest:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer's Over - Fall is Near

It's been a long hot, busy summer. When I wasn't busy working outside the home, I was busy with my family at home. New places of employment for many in my house prevented us from going anywhere, but that's okay - it just meant I could explore and enjoy where I live! Although my writing suffered a tad, other goals were met like publishing a much-loved story of mine, Street Notes (Opal Moon Press). I'm so thrilled and honored to have my book as part of this new line of young adult fiction!

Sadly the hot, dry summer months in these parts brought record-breaking, tragic wildfires around our province. Perspective is always being thrown back at me reminding me to always remember to make the most of what we have during the time we have. Although over the course of a few weeks we were covered in wildfire smoke and ash, there were a few weeks I was able to get out with my camera and enjoy some sun - I'm a lucky girl. Despite how extremely busy I was, I swam in the local lakes, practiced archery, read when I could, and focused on my family. I guess this is me writing a condensed first-week-of-school 'What I Did Last Summer' essay - oh how I loved writing essays when I was in school oh-so-many-moons ago!

Now with summer over and my one son back in school, routines will set back to normal - whatever normal is - and I hope to get back to writing, and on a regular basis. I have been chomping at the bit to write, but other things - and goals - took up my time and energy. I have learned that sometimes a break away from what we love can only strengthen the passion that brought us to that love in the first place. I had lots of time for thought and reflection and I look forward to jumping into fall that will race to the end of the year with a renewed perspective and fresh energy.
I can't wait for nights curled up with a book, getting out in clear, crisp, sunny fall days with my camera, writing in the early mornings, and setting and meeting new goals. Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte's are calling my name, a shawl/wrap I am knitting is eager to be finished and worn, and I think this year I want to buy a pair of kitschy fall boots.

I wish you all a happy fall season. Stay safe, hug your loved ones (and often), call those who aren't local (and often), enjoy every moment of what you have, and always take time to read a book.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Release - Street Notes

I'm proud to reveal my new release - Street Notes - published by Opal Moon Press, the young adult line of After Glows Publishing!

Available for sale in ebook format right now at Amazon and at Chapters/Indigo.

Blurb: All 15-year-old Nick Zinsky wanted was a guitar of his own and a necklace for his mom, and he wanted to buy both on his own, without anyone’s help.

Nick’s mom want him to focus on school and not get a job. But Nick is anxious to save up, so he spends the summer and weekends busking downtown with a guitar loaned from school – a secret he has to keep from his mom, his music teacher, his friends, and especially from the school bully, Beau.

But when a music competition is announced where the prizes would solve all Nick’s problems, Nick lacks the confidence to enter.

Can he find the courage to enter and will it make his problems disappear?

Author note: ‘Street Notes’ is a story about bullying, a teens’ struggle for independence, and about learning that sometimes it’s okay to ask for help.

This book was previously published with the title “Newbie Nick” in June 2014.

Hope you'll check it out!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Canada Day, eh?

Here we are - the moment we have been waiting for. The build-up for Canada's 150th birthday has been a big one, and there are festivities everywhere! If you are one to brave the crowds (unlike me), I hope you have a great time out there - lots of sunscreen, lots of water, and lots of patience!

For me this long weekend means some time off work and not only spending time with friends and family, but also tackling a huge to-do list. But aside from all that, it's a time to be thankful for where we live, our sense of fellowship and pride, and our freedom to think, write, and speak freely. I am proud of where I live, proud of who I am - and just proud to be Canadian!

So while I'm busy getting through my to-do list, I'll be embracing my friends and family, enjoying a bit of Tim Horton's, enjoy saying 'Happy Canada Day, eh?' to everyone I meet, and wearing proudly wearing red.
Happy Canada Day, eh?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Eclectic Never-Ending To-Be-Read Pile

I have books, and lots of them.

I have books I save because they have been signed by the author specifically to me.

I have books I love beyond words and they reside on a keeper shelf to save forever.

I have books that are reference books, mostly for writing and inspiration, that I refer back to time and again; they have their own shelf.

Then there are the books I have won, bought and been given as gifts. Those gems are in my to-be-read pile.

Or more like shelf.

Or to be honest - shelves, closets, cupboards and drawers.

Yes, many readers have to-be-read piles - like an actual PILE of books - but I have shelves of to-be-read books, and any place I can store them. The 'to-be-read pile' is a general concept, I know. Many people DO have books waiting to be read on shelves and not in actual piles, but if I kept them in piles, I'd have nowhere to walk on my living room floor.

Some of the books waiting in line to be read are new books (new-releases or used/new to me) and some are cherished copies I have pulled off my keeper-shelf waiting to be re-read.

And no sooner do I make a pact with myself to a/don't buy anymore books until b/I have systematically gone through my to-be-read shelves - and I DO make a barely-there dent in my to-be-read pile - when I 'accidentally' come home with 'a' book or a 'few' books...

It's not that I don't want to read the books I have waiting in the wings, it's just that I'm like a crow - I pick up any shiny new thing I see along the way. I can't help it.

Here are just a few of my books in my to-be-read pile. Some are re-reads I have pulled off my keeper-shelf to re-read, some are new-to-me books. No book is more important than the other - some books in my to-be-read pile are based off mood. I hope this eclectic list of my books waiting to be read (or re-read) inspires you to branch out and get reading!

It's Kind of Funny Story - Ned Vizzini (April 2007)

I saw the movie first, got the book second. But then is - and it's kind of a funny story - I didn't even KNOW about this movie until it happened upon it on Netflix one night AND THEN I didn't even know it was a book first! So what did I do? After loving the movie I raced out to get the book. This has been patiently waiting on my to-be-read pile...must get to it!


Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (October 16, 1847)
A classic I was introduced to in English class in high school, I instantly fell in love with everything about it. The era, the style of writing , the characters, the story - all of it. I have read this book countless times over the decades (gasp!) and have many reprinted versions sporting various covers. This classic will always be my fave (I once met a real-life 'rake' whose dog was named Pilot - I swooned. I really did).


Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?

The Outsiders - S E Hinton (April 24, 1967)
A classic I read in school, got a crush on Dallas and Ponyboy but on the page and on the big screen, this timeless story has me coming back time and again, always on the keeper shelf and never far from my heart.


No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he's got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.

Fearless Writing - William Kenower (May 2017)

I love a good writing reference book, and I know from the blurb this one will help keep me going in my own writing. I just gotten myself out of a writing slump, and I know this will help keep me on track - fearlessly. Writer's get hit with lack of confidence, doubt, insecurity and fear with their writing. I know from the blurb this will help me get on track...


Find the courage to create your best writing life.

Whether you're a fledgling writer or a veteran with years of experience, fearlessness--that elusive blend of self-acceptance, confidence, and curiosity--is the defining quality of those who find fulfillment and success. Truly fearless authors banish writer's blocks with ease, receive critiques gracefully, and infuse their passion for the craft into every word they write.

Filled with insightful wisdom and practical advice, Fearless Writing teaches you how to thrive as a writer, no matter your genre or career path. You'll learn how to:
Find and enter a Flow state in which writing is a natural, deeply satisfying process.
Quiet both internal and external critics and embrace the inherent value in your work.
Use love, emotional engagement, and curiosity as the guiding principles for what you write and how you share it with others.
Overcome rejection, procrastination, and other obstacles that stifle your creativity.

Searching for Beautiful - Nyrae Dawn (March 2014)

I haven't read this before, and I'm very much looking forward to it. I'm a fan of young adult fiction, and I love following rich characters on their journey's of self-discovery, coming of age, and enlightenment. I know from the blurb this will be a good one!


Before it happened…

Brynn had a group of best friends, a boyfriend who loved her, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And then…she had none.

After it happened…

Everything was lost. The boy she now knew never loved her. The friends who felt she betrayed their trust. The new life just beginning to grow inside her.

Brynn believes her future is as empty as her body until Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community center, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of. But letting someone in isn't as easy as it seems.


Can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life's own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?


My collection of books keeps growing, which only proves frustrating as it makes me wish I had more time to read!

And of course, partway through writing this, I made a trip to the bookstore and got some more....