Storytelling NOT Storyshowing

Today I’m blog-hopping again with Romance Writers Weekly and the question on the bloghop today is from Leslie Hachtel who’s asked us: “What do you love best about your writing? Like the least? And what are you doing to fix the things you don’t like?” Thanks for dropping in from Fiona Riplee’s blog (or if you haven’t, don’t worry! It’s a bloghop so just keep following). 


One of the hard and fast rules of writing is “show, don’t tell.” For me, this is difficult. My writing background is all about telling, not showing. I talk more than I should. I have been a speech-writer, business writer, technical writer which you may think lend themselves to showing but they really don’t unless you wallow-up in rhetoric. I like to tell.

Storytelling NOT Storyshowing

What is my protagonist wearing? Who knows? Who cares? 

Apparently, a lot of people.

I must here confess a terrible thing: when I read, I skip description almost entirely. And guess what? When I write, I do the same. And always have done.

So for someone like me who makes great use of Kindle’s Word Runner feature…. you get the idea. What I like about my writing is the dialogue. I love to write dialogue. And most of my books (four down, six in the hopper waiting to be finished) are dialogue-rich. So dialogue-dependent that you’d think I’d stick to writing plays and scripts, or doing stand-up (done them all). But reading a play or a script is hideous. They should be performed. Doing stand-up is wonderful and when the kids are older, I’ll go back to comedy… but for books, not so great. It wears the reader down.

So dialogue-fetishism is great from a navel-gazing self-indulgent perspective. Fabulous, actually, if my sole purpose is to amuse myself.

For my readers, not so much. I think that’s why blogs suit me so well. People can only tolerate mouth-running for about 1,000 words. Tops.

Got it, Need it, Got it, Need it

Long have I dreamed to find/cajole/bribe one of my description-talented author friends to collaborate with me. No kidding. Because I don’t really view my books as my personal babies, I’m all about that village raising that kid. I have really and truly asked author friends if they’d consider a swap: I’ll hand off my dialogue-rich book for them to flesh. Similarly, for them I’d kick up their dialogue.

So far, no luck.

Having said all this, another sticky wicket for me is the editing process. I love to edit. I tend to slash and burn. But what I want my editor to do on my books? Just do the edits yourself. Don’t write notes and tell me what to fix. Don’t redline anything. Just do it. Because by now, I’ve moved on. That’s great in the sense I can crank the book out and not agonise over it, bad for the fact that I am just pleased to find an editor to do the rewrites. The end. Most editors I’ve worked with will write back where I need to fix x, y, and z. By this point, I just want to move to the next project.

This hearkens back to my old days in the corporate world: I did a lot a project start-up. Got the teams together blah blah blah, did the GANTT charts and processes blah blah then I hand the thing off. Buh-bye. I’m good with the blank page, let’s say that.

But once it’s filled, I’m full.

Thanks for joining me today! Next stop is Leslie Hachtel’s blog which can be found here. Or here. Or here. Kidding. It’s all the same link. 🙂


What I’m Reading these Days

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

NCV, The Devotional Bible, eBook: Experiencing The Heart of Jesus by Max Lucado

Dispelled (A Null for Hire Novel Book 1) by Terri L. Austin

Next up? Books by Larissa Reinhart, Pamela DuMond, and Linda Joyce.

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Kitty Condo Update (and some Plants vs Zombies)

This was originally written in July of 2013 under another pseudo whom I killed off. This was also written before I had a decent camera on my phone… and these pix just didn’t merit analog (at the time, or ever). Sorry. I originally wrote How to Bring a Man to His Knees when my pseudo had a syndicated weekly blog, so this post is the second part of that first blog. I’m sad to say that both cats mentioned here have since passed onto to the Great Big Catnip Party in the Sky. This is the last of a collection of old blogs which have been sitting on my desktop. My New Year’s Resolution for last year was to get them off said desktop. One week late to finish that task but I’m nonetheless proud. 

Kitty Condo Update (and some Plants vs Zombies)

lucy-pie

Lucy. 16 pounds of love

 

It’s truly shameful what one will do for  cat. Doubly shameful what one and one’s husband will do for two rescue cats. Throw an exuberant 6 year-old and toddler into the fray and you get a kitty condo which took three weeks to make.

But man was it fun.

First: the cats. As some of you know, my two fur babies passed away within two weeks of each other, leaving our family heartbroken. My wonderful vet found us two cats whose owners had, essentially, bailed on them. Lucy and Waffles.  Both are tabbies. Lucy is definitely at least part Maine Coon. She’s the size of an adolescent yak (Google it). Both are adorable sweet kitties. Waffles, though, was abused and is very shy still. She currently has moved from behind the boiler to the living room, under the sofa.

So we have made them a little scratching post/kitty condo. You saw the beginnings of it. Well, a lot has changed.

sophie-crop

Waffles (yes yes yes, I didn’t name her.. hubby calls her Sophie) and my honkin’ huge hand stroking her little cheek.

Here’s the report:

  • It took us three weeks and 11 bucks to make the cat tree.
  • I had slight plans which grew as the project wore on and I changed a few items as I found them. I’m a big fan of Surrealists and “found objects”. What can I say? With the except of rope, I made this from what my self-indulgent neighbours pitched. Love my neighbours. I don’t exaggerate when I say I furnished our entire living room from their recently purchased castoffs. Except the piano. That’s ours.
  • Power drills are fun. Do not underestimate the joy of a good power drill. Ditto a compressor and staple gun.
  • CaulkING gun. Do not go to Home Depot and ask for a caulk gun. Yes, I did this. I knew better and kept saying to myself as I talked to the dude at HD do not say caulk do not say caulk. I said it. There. I said it.

kittycondo-finished

Warts and all, here it is. Yes, we could have bought one. And we may still. But we did it. And the cats have looked at us strangely ever since. Ungrateful flea bags.

This was an insanely fun project for a family. My little guy (not the littlest guy) really contributed. He’s pretty good with a pair of scissors. Learned some fractions, the proper way to measure. And he had a sense of pride in building something which took more than five seconds to build. And build. Nice to do something with tangible, palpable results. I don’t want my kids growing up with nothing but ephemeral Zombie vs Plants accomplishments (see, I told you I wrote this three years ago….).

 

Plants vs Zombies

If you’ve played to the end, you know that this is from the Zen Garden. Yeah baby yeah we got there. (Remember, three years ago this was cool).

…And now, my last 2016 New Year’s Resolution is done. Except for the lose 25 pounds one. That’s still ongoing.

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What to Get for those Hard-to-Buy-for People

Today I’m blog-hopping again with Romance Writers Weekly and the question on the bloghop today is from Leslie Hachtel who’s asked us: “If you could get anything in the world you wanted for Christmas, what would it be?” Thanks for joining us today from Leslie’s blog (or if I’m your first stop, follow the hop til you’ve come full-circle).


My needs are simple this year. Well, every year. A box of After Eights and world peace. But this year, I’m willing to give up the After Eights because watching the world these days has made me lose my appetite.

I hardly know where to start on which issue distresses me the most. I think there are just too many things to list. 

So in the absence of the possibility I’ll get world peace, I’m asking people to donate rather than give gifts. That’s my next-best. My favourite world peace charities? They include the Red Cross, Unicef, and Doctors without Borders.

If you haven’t crossed everything off your list yet, maybe a few of your hard-to-buy-for people would be very pleased to know you’ve picked up a survivor kit or medicine kit for someone who, perhaps, isn’t quite so hard to buy for.

I’m hoping and praying that this year, people open their hearts (and wallets) and give either money or their time to causes which really could use some help.

Head on over to Jenna Da Sie’s blog and see what she wants in her stocking. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


I always drink to world peace…

 


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How to Bring a Man to His Knees

This was originally written in June of 2013 under another pseudo whom I killed off. This was also written before I had a decent camera on my phone… and these pix just didn’t merit analog (at the time, or ever). Sorry. I originally wrote How to Bring a Man to His Knees when my pseudo had a syndicated weekly blog, so this post is in two parts. 

How to Bring a Man to His Knees


It’s not what you’re thinking. No metaphors running amok here. I’m talking about touching my husband’s tools.

drillFor starters: his power drill. Or as I call it: his battery drill thingie. Yes, I really do talk like that. Sorry. I forget words all the time unless I’m writing them.

My Mission

… and yes, I chose to accept it.

I wanted to build a cat condo. And until the day power tools got fancy, I could have made one. In fact, I have. Already. But it was sooo 2002 and the condo was destroyed (well, exposed onto the curb for the gleaners to dismantle and wheesh away) three moves ago. Although we move about every two years, that condo I built using a staple gun and old-fashioned screws (yes, all by hand) stood the test of time until 2010. By then I was pregnant at 45 and not really feeling like building much more than a Nutella salad. So my cats were bereft of condo and had to sleep on the piano, laptops, and rads.

Shift ahead a few years and I had two new kitties (both, at this edit three years later, are now deceased but they lived beautifully pampered lives, let me tell you): Lucy and Waffles.

They hated each other. 

Actually, my husband called Waffles “Sophie” (and a very few of you reading this will laugh because you’ll get the reference).

New kitties. No condo. But I was intrepid and finally back in town from far afield in the Great White North, so decided this was the day.

Or so I thought.

You see, in this marriage, my tools ended up being appropriated by my sons. My husband’s good stuff (and it’s all good stuff, apparently) is his. Mine is theirs, his is his. But I want to build a new condo but realized in the old days I’d just hammer and tong it manually. Now there’s some lithium battery packed thingie looking scarier than grandma’s hair-dryer .

 

cat-condo-cropped

The original condo, sporting Bing, Bob, and Gregory Twinklebear

I had to call him. It went badly.

Me: “Hi Sweetie. Just curious. How do I load your drill thingie?” I don’t waste time. I need to build and clean up before he comes home and sees what devastation I can create–or worse AND more likely–before I get distracted or lose interest.

He: “What? My drill? Why are you using my drill?”

Me: “Not using your drill sweetie. I need to know for a story.”

He: “Where does a power drill fit into the story?”

Me: “Uh, the heroine has a thing for her carpenter.” (I am truly the world’s worst liar and besides, back then, I was only writing historical).

He: “What are you building?”

Me: “Nothing. But as long as we’re talking hardware, how do I cut a sonotube? Will, say, a jigsaw do it? Or just a carpet knife? Do we have a jigsaw?”

He: “You are scaring me.”

Me: “I’m building a cat condo.”

katkondo

He: “You don’t say.” He sounds frightened unsurprised. “Do you have plans?”

Me: “Of course I have plans.”

He: “Drawn in crayon?” He’s not being rude. He knows I use the Crayola Planner for Pantser Builders. I built a shelf under the kitchen sink once (before the world changed and we photographed our every move or I’d share it here… it was awesome) plotted out with dry eraser markers on two sheets of paper towel.

Me: “Maybe. I have an ingredient list.”

He: “How did you get the sonotube into your car?” Two kids, small car. 

Me: “It wasn’t pretty. Have we maxed out the chiro?” Don’t ask. I had to get the neighbour to pull me out because I pinched a nerve in my neck driving with the seat pushed forward so I could have the seat pushed forward and lay the sonotube on the diagonal. I’m talking about Satan’s Chiro, of whom you’ve heard.

To be continued…

Sorry about the drill bit, Sweetie. I didn’t know they could shatter like that. 

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Bulk Barn and Other Writing Resources

Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop: December 13, 2016

Today I’m blog-hopping again with Romance Writers Weekly and the question on the bloghop today is from Jenne Da Sie who’s asked us: “What are some helpful tools and resources that you use for writing” Thanks for joining us today from Brenda Margriet’s downlow on this, (or if I’m your first stop, follow the hop til you’ve come full-circle).


My first thought phrased in the following question to our FB group:

I wish I were kidding. I’m not a stress-eater really. I’m a writer-eater. Ok that didn’t come out right. I’m a writing-eater. Is the Bulk Barn considered a helpful tool or resource I use for writing?

Sadly, yes.

For my not-in-Canada friends reading: the Bulk Barn is a place which sells, among other things, candy by the gram. You name it, they have it. Ask me how I know.

A recent discussion we had on our group was all about software. I confess I have a penchant for Scrivener and I’ll show you why:

My favourite thing in the whole wide world when it comes to Scrivener is the corkboard.

My second favourite thing is that I can move sections of my writing around by dragging items from the sidebar. Sure, you can do this in Word; I find it easier in Scrivener. And unlike Word, you don’t have to buy Scrivener every 12 months.

All those little corkboard recipe cards will come-with and you can no longer fret about missing something in a highlight-copy-cut-paste manoeuvre.

Yeah, I had to spell-check manoeuvre.

I would have to say Scrivener (and the Bulk Barn) is my favourite writing tool.

My next (because threes are so nice) is something I never get to use anymore because the kids talk more than I do: Dragon Naturally Speaking. I dictate almost everything until my youngest hit 4 and started to appropriate my headset. Sigh. Now I’m back to, ew, typing.

Now for resources? 

I pick on my friends (the ones who haven’t blocked me on WhatsApp). Anyone who’s read any of my non-blog creative writing will know that I don’t need a lot of research, beyond anecdotal. Generally speaking, I pick on my friends for information. I suppose I wallow in Wikipedia more than I should but beyond that, it’s all about finding my human-resource.

Now if only I can source someone to actually write my book. 

Head on over to Jenna Da Sie’s site and see what a (real) writer uses for resources and tools. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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Zombies, Zippos, A.S. Fenichel

Zombies, Zippos, A.S. Fenichel

I have a series of unpublished blogs based on my dreams, each blog in various states of un/edit, pending graphics and screen grabs. One I’ve promised Bueller is about a dream I had of my wearing English muffins for slippers whilst walking to Montréal with a quick stop at Toronto’s own Sneaky Dees. Yes, that old chestnut. But it was a great dream and two years later, I finally finished that blog. 

A Bic Lighter Commercial? You say.

You’ll find out in a mo’. Just enjoy.

1212

Today’s blog (ok, this is actually from 18 months ago) just came to me because I had an epiphany and epiphanies made me think of light bulbs which made me think of tealights well, there you go. Yes, synecdoche is alive and well on this blog.

zombie-zippo-01

My long-suffering friend Terri gets to receive my wee-hours texts. This was a doozy. A metaphor (as opposed to metonymy) for my pathetic writer-wannabe existence. Like bringing a knife to a gun fight or in my case, a tealight and a Bic lighter to the Zombie Apocalypse.

zombie-zippo-02

Ok, now see that last line: “I should have been carrying..” Aye, there’s the rub. The problem? I didn’t remember to save the next screen so not only have I forgotten what I should have been carrying in the dream, but I have also forgotten what I should have been carrying — here and now — in the reportage of the dream.

If you read my Früit Löps blog, you’ll know how distressing this was/is/ever shall be to me. I have meta-forgotten. And what’s worse: I spent the better part of a semi-caffeinated morning pondering what I should have been carrying. A machete? Gun? Jug of acid? Strong language? A bold and enterprising attitude? Some snark? A whole bucket of snark? 

My friend Terri would have had the answer. She likely would have said “a portable food dehydrator and a Sig P226.” See that connection I just made? Lighter? Cigarette? Sig Sauer? Dang. Terri’s good (and hopefully doesn’t mind my putting words into her mouth). A.S. Fenichel would have been armed with Victorian Kung-fu and an Hattori Hanzo sword. These are women of action, people!


My pitiful wannabe writing life takes the focus

This blog looks like I’m plugging A.S. Fenichel or Terri L Austin but the fact is, that’s the blog’s by-product but not its purpose. My pitiful wannabe writing life takes the focus. This ain’t no advertorial, cowboy bovine-herding-non-binary-specific-humanoid.

A.S. Fenichel writes a wicked good vs evil romance. I guess the correct term is “paranormal romance” but for her, I think more of a “good vs evil” moniker. Her heroines kick some serious tush. I’m pretty sure I’ve read all her books (she’s not all paranormal: some are historical, others are contemporary) and for those wanting snippets and reviews, tootle to Amazon. Pretty sure if you want a compadre for the zombie End of Days, it’d be she.

Terri is my go-to for panic-mode. Seriously, there ain’t no cliff from which she cannot talk me down. She would have reminded me of my Zippo, then showed me how to store food for the apocalypse (think I’m joking? This is one of our major topics of discussion on any given week). She may write as a pantser but she lives as a plotter.

I’ve “known” both women since their first books and have been honoured to follow them through their careers thus far. I may only have THOUGHT I had a Bic lighter but in reality, I DO have a Zippo. I just need to remember to check my pockets. 

Long have I pondered what I would have brought to the Zombie Apocalypse then realised something: I’d be eaten while I figured it out. 


Oh, and A.S. cooks a treat, too. I guess I should have been carrying some Lagostina. Weapons and vittles. What more could I want in the Zombie Apocalypse? Actually, Lagostina COULD be a weapon. Bonk bonk Trafalgars!

Terri and I don’t cook. Surely among the three of us, at least one of us would survive to write the post-scriptum to the blog. Stay tuned.


At a loss what to get people for Christmas? How about donating to the Heart & Stroke Foundation in their name?

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Failed Recipe #3: Raisin Bread

Failed Recipes: Raisin Bread... mebbe

I’ve been clearing out blogs which have been in “drafts”for the last three millennia. Here’s one from 2013. I may have posted this under one of my killed-off pseudos but fortunately, none of you will (ok, a couple of you) remember/know/care. I wrote this back when someone had given me a bottle of Bailey’s for Christmas. Generally speaking, I’m not a drinker. But give me 1/8 of an ounce and it’s Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
.

Failed Recipe #3: Raisin Bread

I know what you’re wondering: WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT? Surely not raisin bread.

Raisin Bread ExplosionClearly, a raisined-product of sorts.

If CSI were here, they’d run that diagnostic pretty quickly and observe there’s some C6H10O5 involved. That’s the incomplete formula for flour; but they will be looking for more. The lab will run more tests and find some lipids (fats & oils), maybe a pinch of NaCl. All this modern-day hokey-pokey science will tell them NOTHING. The ingredients are as they should be.

This failed recipe is for a 1.5 pound bread. Really. That was the plan.

Equipment

1 bread maker OR

1 oven

Mixer

Mixing bowl for mixer

Spatulas etc.

Measuring cups, spoons OR

Digital food scale

Ingredients

Yeah, you’re wondering now. I am all metric-European measuring until it comes to the little stuff so I’ll put both deets in.

1 1/4 cups of warm milk or water (306 grams if using milk)

1 1/2 TB melted lard or vegetable shortening (22.5 grams) (who am I kidding? I used butter)

2 tsp yeast

1 cup raisins (I go crazy on the raisins though)

3 cups all-purpose flour (or whatever makes you happy) (360 grams)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp of cinnamon (or to taste)

How To

Bread Machine

If you are using a bread machine, like I did, it’s easy-peasy squeeze a lemon. Unless you happen to be me, which you aren’t. Unlike making mixer drinkie-poos, the rule for bread machines is liquids before solids.

1. Warm your milk or water first. This will help the yeast. Use the microwave or heat over the stove top or right from the *shudder* tap. Throw the shortening, lard, (or oil if you prefer) on top while you do this. Time-deepening I call it.

2. Liquid into bread machine.

3. Into a bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, and salt together. I think this helps the distribution.

4. Solids into machine atop the liquid.

5. Make  little well in the flour mixture and spoon in the yeast.

6. Turn on your bread machine to whichever setting is, essentially, 1.5 pound loaf, basic.

7. Watch the magic appear in two hours.

Oven

This collateral damage won’t happen if you use your oven. I say bake around 350 or 400 for some 22 minutes or so. I dunno. I bake til I remember that I forgot to turn on the timer or I smell the carbon charring.

🙂

Failed Recipes: Raisin Bread... mebbe

Failed Recipes: Raisin Bread… mebbe

So What Went Wrong

Did you catch it? I didn’t tell you to put the paddle INTO the machine. You should have known to do it, as I should have as well. But I forgot. I was nipping an Irish Creme Yogurt Smoothie and wasn’t quite what I should have been:

A – L – E – R – T

There should be a warning on the Irish Creme bottle:

Do not use your bread machine while slurping contents of this bottle.

So what happens when you put the bread machine on and there’s no paddle? Nothing mixes. The mixture heats up, ferments, and bakes without being swirled and combined. And you end up with that hardened lump shown above.

The squirrels were ecstatic, by the way. Yeah, I feed the rodentia in my yard. Cat? Not so pleased.

Best Bet Going Forward

Put the paddle in.

Trivia

Bread is yummy. Man may not live on bread alone, but I could.

Like Oprah, I have bread every day

Like Oprah, I have bread every day


What I’m Reading….

Gretchen Archer and Larissa Reinhart had books published recently (update: I started writing this blog in 2013… so Gretchen and Larissa STILL have books published recently.. but not these ones. These are both like #2 in their respective series and I think both series are now into Book 5 for Gretchen and or Book 6 for Larissa). Nonetheless, go get them, eh?

Double Whammy by Gretchen Archer.

Still Life in Brunswick Stew by Larissa Reinhart.

 

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Mule Muffins! (and a Recipe)

I know what you’re thinking. I’m using an epithet generally reserved for people like Col. Potter. But what I’m really talking about are mules made from muffins. So today’s post is called: Mule Muffins! (and a Recipe).

I know what you’re thinking now. Mules. No. Not this mule (who’s super cute and wants to live in my backyard, if I had one).

 (c) Can Stock Photo

How pretty are mules anyway? Seriously, they are under-rated.
(c) Can Stock Photo Heck yeah I pay for stock photography.

These mules. You got it. The ones that gave me osteo-arthritis. Now you’re talkin’.mules-marabou

This story is not really about the best kind of footwear: soft, comfy spongy happy shoes.

But shoes made from muffins. Aye, there’s the rub. These muffins, not those.

Let’s step back a moment. This is a dream I had about my wearing English muffins. It’s a metaphor, pretty sure. What else could it be?

Mule Muffins! (and a Recipe)

Here’s some background

When I was younger, I worked in downtown Toronto. My friends were still in high school but I had a weird job doing online research and building databases, back in 1983. Not a lot online research back then, but enough to keep me gainfully employed (and out of school because I had left home early and REALLY needed the job).

So downtown Toronto was where I was wandering in this dream: barefoot, in a sundress. But think: Commerce Court or the TD Centre.

I was trying to walk from downtown Toronto to Montreal, by way of Aurora.

Perhaps not a great idea, looking back.

Here’s the map (Toronto-Aurora-Montreal) by foot

Only 118 hours? Imagine that! And I was going to take the train. 

Toronto-Dees-Montreal

Sneaky Dee’s

In my dream, I stopped by Sneaky Dee’s first. Have you been? It’s a great place; but as someone who likely didn’t belong there said to me once: don’t order the port.

I don’t want to appropriate anyone’s photography so here’s a quick collage (and the search I used to pull up the collage).

SneakyDeesCollage

Sneaky Dee’s, how I loved thee.

I used to live within crawling (believe me, I know) distance of  Sneaky Dee’s waaaaay back when the sun could still shine between my thighs.


By the way, Sneaky Dee’s is not a place to go pee-pees if you’re mysophobic. 🙂 Fortunately, this doesn’t bother me.


I kinda miss this part of my life (and the dress size which went with it).

Dee’s does a wicked breakfast (hangover helper we called it) and when they moved south to College & Bathurst, I swear I did too, just to keep my sanity.

Right. My dream. It’s a long walk and the business district is nothing but concrete. And in my dream, like in freals, my feet hurt (did I mention I now have arthritis?). Then I remembered (in my dream):

I had English muffins in my pockets

This is how I began to realise I was dreaming: usable pockets in women’s clothing. Right after THEY cure the common cold, THEY will design sundresses with useful pockets.

Have you worn English muffins? They are the epitome of bready footwear. Keep a few in your pocket and you can go anywhere. Climb every mountain. Eschew the streams though. Your shoes will degrade like a teenager’s language after their first martini.

So what’s the point of all this?

Glad you asked.  I didn’t get to Aurora or Montreal, really. I think I woke up after Sneaky Dee’s, when I bumped into an ex-boyfriend’s parents (from the late 80s) and offered to give them a lift home in the car I suddenly had (1967 Mustang, I thank you). I started some strange journey, wearing English muffins on my feet, and never got anywhere.

And I started this blog on December 26, 2014 (now it’s January 9, 2015 and I just posted Flipping My Lids) (no wait, it’s now December 6, 2016 and I just posted My First Kiss) then I started to load content for a client’s two websites and I was swamped. I spent the entire holiday loading underwhelming websites (thankfully I didn’t design them) and working like a dog and never EVER getting to finish this blog and I forgot the rest of the dream.

Between 2014 and now I’ve been overworked, fired, hired, injured, had pneumonia (twice) H1N1, broke a couple of bones, pinched several nerves in my neck, and played laser tag. I’ve written at least 200 blogs and yet never finished this off. Til now. 

So what’s the point again?

Well for one thing: English muffins suck monkey bums for walking. They seem like a good idea at the time; but when your feet hurt like a motherscratcher, any port in a storm… to mix metaphors.

Ok, so what about Montreal and Aurora?

Right. I forgot. Montreal is where I did my MA in English(Creative Writing). Aurora is where I lived (post-Toronto) til I ran away. The devils’ in the details.

My dream was telling me I was about to embark on a long strange journey (a lot of which was any port in a storm, is my thinking) that hopefully allowed me to transcend my corporate yet rock-and-roll past, as well as my working behind-the-scenes doing everyone else’s blogs, sites, consulting, five-year-plans, and you get the idea. Constantly sublimating my creative need for someone else’s vision.

I think I’m done, finally. It was funny, yesterday on Facebook, to see a blog I wrote two years ago for a client being reposted  on their FB page, being passed off as someone else’s work (it’s ok, I signed those rights away to them). The odd thing was, the blog was written on a semi-personal level. The company forgot to actually re-read the blog and remove my personal asides. Snicker. Rather gratifying, really.

I clicked “like” and moved on. 


Right, the Recipe.

This is from my old but still existing recipe blog (circa 2011) Like I Need Another Hole in my Head which needs a serious update. I’ve pasted this, verbatim. I really need to fix that thing.

Carrot Bran Muffins (can be low-fat, if you wish)

I know I said this isn’t a low-fat healthy site, but sometimes you just gotta have something good for you. Apologies to all who may be offended. I promise to type up my cinnamon bun recipe shortly.

But dang these are good and moist and have very little fat to them if you use applesauce (makes muffin a bit denser though) instead of oil.

Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes

Baking time: 20 minutes (making LARGE muffins… adjust time accordingly for regular size)

Regular muffins have 185 calories and 4.5 grams of fibre and a few grams of fat, nothing like muffins from franchised coffee shops!

Makes 12 regular muffins or 6 large muffins

1 1/4 cup flour (150 grams)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups raisin bran cereal (110 grams, add more if you wish!)
1 1/4 cup milk (306 grams for skim)
1/4 cup of either unsweetened applesauce or vegetable oil
1/3 cup molasses
1 egg or 2 egg whites
1 cup (more or less) of shredded carrot
1/2 cup additional raisins or chopped dates (mostly for moisture)

Preheat oven to 400. Either use muffin liners or spray tin with cooking spray or butter and flour your tins.

1. Add cereal and milk together in a large bowl and let the cereal soften about five minutes.

2. Add oil (or applesauce), molasses, egg and beat. Beat or stir in dry ingredients.

3. Add carrot (and additional fruit if using) and stir.

4. Glop into tins. Personally I make larger muffins. So what they have nearly 400 calories? You need energy mid-day right? These will do it with low-fat and as you can see, low-sugar. Live a little.

5. Bake approx 20 minutes. I use a convection oven so adjust your time accordingly. May take longer.

These keep very well. Extremely moist muffins.

 



At a loss what to get people for Christmas? How about donating to the Heart & Stroke Foundation in their name?

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My First Kiss

photo © Can Stock Photo / kickanwicksell.. the rest by yours truly.

I’ve been out of the romance blogosphere for a while but am slowly coming back to it. Today is my first blog for Romance Writers Weekly in months and the question on the bloghop today is from Romance Author Leslie Hachtel who’s asked us to talk about “My First Kiss.” Thanks for joining us today from Brenda Margriet’s tale on her first kiss (or if I’m your first stop, follow the hop til you’ve come full-circle).

My First Kiss

I wish I had a Mr Darcy-type first kiss. I don’t. My first kiss story is appallingly peudoscientific. And cringe-worthy. 🙂

I tried to decide between blogging about my first romantic kiss which I probably enjoyed, or the one I with which I just experimented in practice for the first REAL kiss and I gotta tell you, I remember the experiment much better. In fact, I can’t remember with whom I had my first kiss.

No.

Really.

This goes back to my being 13 and hanging around the world’s biggest pick-up joint for 13 year-olds everywhere in Hogtown: the Ontario Science Centre. You know, that old chestnut. Hanging out “learning” things when really you’re hoping for a wee grope from the right guy? This is one step up from “going to the library.” Looking back all I can say is “ew.”

But my BFF (well, more like BFATT … Best Friend At The Time) was exponentially prettier than I, so the best I could hope for was seconds or thirds. I got neither. EXCEPT… one of her rejected skeevs on the subway-ride home—I have purposely forgotten his name—very kindly offered to show me “how to kiss” and I, being rejected many times over by even my BFF’s leavings INCLUDING him, was happy to up my kissing skills (being null) just in case… just in case… one day man, one day!

I learned something that day. Well, many things:

  1. Sloppy wet kisses repulse me.
  2. Cigarette breathe is vile.
  3. Kissing without love (or its teenage facsimile: hormones engaged) is up there with nails on a chalkboard for me as far as enjoyment value is concerned. I’d rather eat squishy slippery lettuce than kiss someone who’s entirely uninteresting to me.

A while thereafter I found my first real boyfriend and found his kisses OK. I guess we weren’t the best fit. I came to the conclusion that kissing really grossed me out unless it was a polite peck, or I was insanely in love. Kissing is such an intimate thing (as is the germ-ridden saliva which accompanies it). I figured out I would no more French kiss a dog than I would any young man.

Actually, the dog had a better chance. Or one of these hedgehogs. I’d totally kiss a hedgehog. Hedgehogs deserve smooches.

photo © Can Stock Photo / kickanwicksell.. the rest by yours truly.

photo © Can Stock Photo / kickanwicksell.. the rest by yours truly.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m a cat person. True enough. But I am also not suicidal. (And if you had a cat named Tiny Finger Shark like I do, you’d understand.) 

I told my husband I was back to blogging (neck brace and wrist braces on as I said this…) and he pointed out that he remembers HIS first kiss because he’s romantic (he is). I said I only remembered HIS first kiss with ME (because I’m even MORE romantic and wouldn’t dream of counting any other “kiss” I’ve had before his as a real kiss).

So there. Trumped (can I say that?) his ace I did.

Our First Kiss

Our first kiss was epic and actually came after our mutual declaration of love. That’s right. We pledged our troth (on the phone…long story…) and THEN had to wait a few days before we could meet up THEN kiss. And dang it all, it was, to us at least, as stellar (more so) than that kiss in Bridget Jones’ Diary. And come to think of it, our first kiss was on a VERY snowy day but as for the rest, alas I was not sporting my animal-print knickers. That would be later.

In fact, I’m wearing them now as I type this. 

You’re welcome.

Just to help you purge that last image:

Next stop on our hop? UK-based Romance Author Carrie Elks who has a new romance releasing in exactly one week:

carrie_natasha


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About Romance Writers Weekly

Romance Writer’s Weekly is a group of writers who love everything about the romance genre. We’re comprised of traditionally-published and self-published authors, as well as those who aspire to publish (that’d be me… I… me?). We write in nearly every sub-genre of romance, from contemporary to historical, paranormal to suspense. If you love reading romance you’re sure to find something you like these! So if you are a reader, writer, reviewer or book club member, feel free to contact us, we would love your company!

 

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Is the Cup Half-Full or Half-Empty?

Yup. I know what you’re thinking: this blog is all about whether an “empty” cup (I don’t use glasses… that’s another blog for another day) isn’t really just chock-full of elements like nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon in their gaseous state… and who are we to be sniffy about privileging matter in its liquid form? It’s ok. I went there too. No, today’s blog is about one of my pet peeves: tv shows, commercials, and films wherein the character is holding an empty cup and pretending to drink from it.

Actually, I have a few cupular pet peeves. I think I’ll make this a series.

First, I tried to find all those commercials and film snippets which have made me bananas, over the last few decades. People holding empty cups (and similarly irritating: people holding empty paper grocery bags) but random Google searches proved useless except for this mostly unrelated gem courtesy of Cracked.com’s YouTube channel which, thankfully, does have a dude holding an empty cup, but it’s not quite what I needed for my blog.

Please enjoy this video. I had to endure a commercial for The Big Bang Theory before I could watch this.

Roger Horton. Yeah, I’d vote for you.

Then I happened upon Mental Floss which led me to Slate and (bless his buns) Myles McNutt. He beat me to it and frankly, I’m not this good.

Proof once again I live in a world inhabited only by cats, I discover the #EmptyCupAwards started, oh, two years ago…


Since McNutt had it worked out for me, I decided to share this with you all, then change the focus of today’s blog to what you all originally thought I was going to write on:

Empty vs. Full

Somewhere, always lurking, is a smart-ass who will answer the half-empty, half-full question with “there’s air in there!” thus silencing the rhetorical questioner. Usually also quashing all good chatter leaving nothing (or would that be something) but an awkward pause. Don’t worry: I’ve been that pedantic self-righteous 11 year-old. Perhaps you’ve been one, too (one, two, get it?).

Pretty sure the bowl is "empty" but not my Hello Kitty mug. It probably has green tea in it, or 抹茶 for you purists.

Pretty sure the bowl is “empty” but not my Hello Kitty mug. It probably has green tea in it, or 抹茶 for you purists.

Is the Cup Half-Full or Half-Empty?

The question is so much more than a discourse on the elements; we all know that. It’s about whether your response is optimistic (half-full) or pessimistic (half-empty). Frankly, I’ve found this discourse just a little too “binary” (yeah, I said it) and reductionist (which my spell check tells me is NOT a word but hey, neologism IS a word so nyah). Reductionist. I said it.

It’s a blog about what is and isn’t “there” and whether or not a cup of anything is always a good thing. My first thoughts:

  • The cup is never empty. Anyone who stayed awake in Grade 9 science will tell you that, if they dare.
  • Sometimes there’s poison in that cup. Good thing it’s half-empty. But dang, who drank it and will I have to hide the body? Who poisoned the cup? Why? Am I next? Thankfully, I am friends with a lot of mystery authors and likely, they can help me on this one.
  • The ambrosia distilled from kitten sneezes and happy puppy toots may be in your cup, in which case half-full is still pretty ok. Who drank it shouldn’t be my response. Thank you for saving me some is what I should say. Let’s have a little gratitude, people.
  • The cup is half-full or half-empty depending on your need. If you are drinking Buckley’s Mixture and are halfway done…. well, if you’ve had Buckley’s, you know. You need that cup to be empty. Emptied.  Maybe one should move to the more verbally enhanced question: is the cup half-filled or half-emptied?
  • Sometimes it’s just so awesome to have a cup. There’s a semiotics in this observation: some people don’t have cups and likely don’t have decent water to drink. But here in the First World…need a cup? Here’s how you fold one, if you’re in a tight spot. This comes in handy if you’re in IKEA, a land forgotten by drinking fountains. Take a fresh page from an ubiquitous catalogue festooning that temple to compartmentalization and fold your little heart out. One use only though, people.
  • And now that you’ve read the point above, you may be feeling a bit crappy about the fact that I mentioned that some people don’t have access to potable water. Do something about it, even if you just share some page from Watsi.org or Unicef. Maybe the other person will donate, thanks to your clicking “share” or “like” or one of those little hearts.

What started this blog today: my hatred for seeing people “drink” from “empty” cups. What it’s really all about? The fact that my little bubble gets burst when I notice the artifice of it all. In film, this is when the suture is ruptured. I love suture. I like my #safespace (or is it #safeplace or #happyspace? #happyplace?).  (My kid just told me it’s #safespace and #happyplace.)

This particular suture rupture irks me, metaphorically, because what I ultimately see is the mirroring of real-life people in my day-to-day (well, on Facebook at least) drinking from full cups and they’re not aware of it. When I see fake people fake drink from fake cups my mind goes to all the real people out there “drinking” from very full cups and some (not all) are no more “aware” (certainly not really #grateful or #blessed) than those actors on those shows, commercials, and films.  

But I know what you’re really wondering, through all this?

Why don’t I drink from glasses?

What’s the metaphor there? Glass houses? Mirror Stage? Simulacra? Nah, it’s much more easy peasy: I knock them over and break them. That’s kinda it, really. I’m a klutz. Freud sums this up nicely:

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

And sometimes the cup is neither full nor empty, and it may not even be there. But if you have a cup, you’re doing pretty good. If it has something palatable in it, so much the better. If you can fill someone else’s — figuratively or literally — then you are truly having a great day. Go fill someone’s cup today and please, for me, make sure you slosh it around a bit. Leave a mark. Share the love.

 


I’m canvassing for the Heart & Stroke Foundation again this year and yes, I’m starting well before Heart Month (which is February)… Even $5 would be nice. Please give. Super thanks!

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