Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

I have so many things to be grateful for this year. It’s hard to believe how long this list is.

Fired
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My job was terminated. That doesn’t sound great but it opened up many possibilities. It enabled me to step aside and look at my career. I determined the types of tasks I really like doing, the type of role I like playing, and create a plan for the future. I’m also grateful to my former employer for setting me up with a career services agency so that I could get my resume together, polish my interview skills and network like a pro.

Montreal Map
Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Without a job in Toronto, I had very little reason to stay there. So I moved back to Montreal where most of my family and friends are. I’m grateful for my friends and family and, especially, my mom for taking my daughter and me in until I find a job.

Writing wise, I’m grateful to be working on my next book, the third novel in The True Hearts Series, which I plan to release by the end of this year. I’m encouraged by the success of the first two in the series. The Indie Editors of Kirkus Reviews magazine featured a review of my first novel Masks in the February 15 2018 issue. And the second book Secrets received an Honorable Mention under General Fiction from the 2017 London Book Festival.

Happy Turkey Day!

chicken close up dish food
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

What are you grateful for most this year? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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Welcome To Fall

Welcome to fall! I love all the seasons but autumn is particularly exciting.

Schools and the traffic pattern of the next ten months has been established. (Come to think of it, this may not be so exciting.) The hot summer days of sitting in traffic due to construction yield to dull fall days of sitting in traffic due to everyone trying to get somewhere at the same time.

Roadwork on Côte-St-Luc Rd., between Décarie Blvd. and Bonavista Ave. in Montreal, on Monday, June 4, 2018. DAVE SIDAWAY /MONTREAL GAZETTE

While we’re replacing our shorts and tanks with pants and long sleeve shirts, I’m to have enough room in the closet for a couple of new piece. The best fashion always comes out in fall.

Fall Fashion Trends to Shop on Amazon // Notjessfashion.com

At home, we’ve started talking about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This week, we made our first hearty meal of the season: stew served with crusty bread. It was delicious. We plan on making tripe and pot roast, apple spice cake and apple pie.

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Image courtesy of OZphotography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

TV is getting a refresh. I’m excited about a new series called New Amsterdam and the return of Navy SEALs.

I’m fortunate enough to live in a place where the leaves on the trees change colour and provide a spectacular site which allows us to appreciate the cooler weather and single digit temperatures.

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Image courtesy of xedos4 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What are you looking forward to this fall? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

Hoarding In Secrets

Secrets - eBookIn Secrets, Ron Pearl, Diana Rainville’s love interest, is a hoarder. In the story, the death of his mother and Diana’s support lead him to clean his basement. That seems miraculous, doesn’t it? Even Hollywood. But it’s not so farfetched. Alcoholics who fall in love often note that they drink less when they start a relationship.  The abuse victim feels strong and powerful. Depressed people are happy. Research shows that falling in love does cause a high due to a change in brain chemistry. Some research suggests the rush is Mother Nature’s way of making sure we bond so that eventually we reproduce. But that feeling of euphoria doesn’t last forever.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what happens to Ron’s hoarding after Ron and Diana have been a couple for a few months? The only thing that can happen. It returns in full force. As much as love can heal all wounds, only self-love can heal them directly. The loving people can help the healing by being supportive, accepting, respectful, open-minded, encouraging, by listening and by empathizing. So how can hoarding become part of Ron’s past?

Heartbroken
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the story, Ron seemed so in control and confident, but he was far from it. His parents fought all the time. He couldn’t stop his father from leaving when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He couldn’t stop his mother’s cancer or her death. He can’t get an education due to the medical bills and his career is chosen for him. He hangs on to garbage like a security blanket. It’s his way of dealing with his emotions. He gets a high from finding things he could use although he doesn’t use them. He collects them in his bedroom and his basement.

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Image courtesy of thephotoholic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When his mother talks about counselling, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been to counselling and he does clear the basement so he is cognizant of the problem. But denial is a big problem for many hoarders. It is a life threatening disease. The only reason the hoarding hasn’t taken over in the story is because of his mother’s presence. But his room has no space and neither has the basement. If allowed, he will eventually fill the entire house. Eventually becoming unhealthy and unsafe for himself and his neighbors.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether hoarding comes from collecting trash or buying too much, it’s a ritual which creates excitement. It’s also unusual for hoarders to share with others. And it’s not surprising that Ron didn’t need to think twice about dumpster diving alone when Diana wanted to leave. He just let her go without blinking. It is not an addiction although it can be associated with addiction and other mental health issues, nor is it an obsessive compulsive disorder although it can coexist.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The only cure is to stop and deal with the emotions that are causing the hoarding. To learn more about hoarding, check out these resources:

www.hoarding.ca

https://www.helpforhoarders.co.uk/resources/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356056

What do you do when you are avoiding emotions? What do you do to accept those emotions? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

3 Tips For Back To School

Are you as excited about your kids going back to school as they are? Or maybe you’re a student reading this. Are you looking forward to hanging out in your own world again? My daughter was bored and ready to go back to school after the first week of her summer holiday.

Daydreaming Girl
Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now that the first day of school is right around the corner, the question is: Are you ready?

Here are three tips to get ready:

  1. Don’t panic! Either you’ve been waiting so long for this moment but didn’t consider what to wear, what supplies to pack, what to eat for lunch. Or you didn’t think about it at all and, lucky you, you’re in the same both as the dreamers. The first day of school will come for all of us whether we are ready or not, so DON’T PANIC! Even if you get everything else wrong, you’ll at least get to the same day as the rest of us at the same time. It’s inevitable.
  2. Buy ahead, return later. You might be one of the fortunate ones who received an advanced list of books and materials needed.
    School Supplies
    Image courtesy of photomyheart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Great! Go shopping. For those of us left guessing until the first day of school, we have options. You can rush around after school or after dinner to shop for supplies at your local low-end department store along with every other parent or student in a 4 mile radius from you. Or you can plan. To avoid the madness, hit the early sales, grab everything you think you might need, and save all the items and the receipts in the same place. If you need something you didn’t think of, you can pick it up easily. Instead of having 56 items to buy, standing at the checkout with only 29 because the store ran out, and needing to drive to two stores to complete the list, you’ll be grinning in the express lane holding one or two items. Whatever you don’t need can be returned later. This might entail up to three trips to the store, but chances are you shop there anyway so two of those trips can be in combination with other purchases.

  3. First day outfit. The first day outfit is only as important as you make it. The outfit makes the person does not apply here. This is not like impressing a new boss or a first date. Unless the first day of school is also picture day, which is rare, and, not to be confused with an id picture where the only think that counts is a clean face and a decent hair day. The first day of school outfit should be comfortable, clean and in good condition. It should also be weather appropriate.
    Weather Symbols
    Image courtesy of ponsuwan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    How many students leave home in heavy wool sweaters in early September, only to be sweating by the time they get to school because summer temperatures are still lingering? Enough that it was worth a mention here.

There’s no reason to turn the first day of school into a stressful event. Remove the stress and recognize it as a special day: a new beginning.

Back To School
Image courtesy of bugtiger at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How do you handle the first day of school? Leave a comment. I love to hearing from you.

Mixing Tourism With Learning in New York City

I spent last week in New York City with my family. We played tourist together for four days. Despite the crazy heat and high humidity, we managed to grab the hop-on hop-off bus to tour Manhattan. Then, we got the bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.

View from Empire State Building

Restaurants were quite expensive, but we did find a grocery store a few blocks away from our hotel and we’re able to eat more affordably. Thank you Morton Williams Food Market.

Capture

We boarded a ferry and admired the State of Liberty from all sides. Until we approached the island from the boat ourselves, it had never occurred to me what a combination of fear, excitement and relief newcomers must have felt when they first saw her.

Statue Of Liberty

We sweated our way through some of Central Park, visited the impressive Cathedral of St John the Divine and admired the architecture of the buildings facing the Park.

Central ParkSt. JohnArchitecture

Of course, we had to grab red velvet and chocolate cake from Magnolia Bakery.

Bakery

And it wasn’t enough to see Times Square during the day time, so we went back in the evening. Interestingly, there’s so much digital advertisement that you can’t tell that it’s night time.

My touring time ended on Thursday night. I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to. Plus, there are still so many libraries and museums to visit.

Friday morning, I joined my fellow writers. Writers tend to write alone. Maybe that’s why most of us are so social. We join associations, attend workshops, network at conferences and support each other online.  And why not? We write to share our knowledge through non-fiction, our experiences through memoir, or our stories through fiction and poetry.  We are people of the world. I love to meet new people, explore new places, and learn new things. Who doesn’t? I’m sure there’s a little bit of a writer in everyone.

wdc18

The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference was great. I got to learn craft from Steven James, Jane K. Cleland, Whitney Davis, Jordan Rosenfeld, and Chuck Wendig. I also took some genre workshops and discovered some great speakers like Gabriela Pereira, Kim Van Alkemade, and Rachael Herron. Any writer will tell you that you need to know the business of writing as much as the art of it. So I sat in on lectures by Jennifer S. Wilkov and Carol Van Den Hende. If you think that’s enough, it’s not! I made some new friends: Gail Nastacia, Marti Mattia, Patricia Powell and Silas Archambault. Overall, the conference helped me grow as a writer and charge my writing batteries.

Time to work on novel number three.

Number 3

Is there an event in your field that focuses and energizes you? Tell me about it. I love to hear from you.

Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest

Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest
https://www.mlb.com/bluejays/fans/winter-fest

If you saw my Instagram posts yesterday, you know my daughter and I were having a blast at the Toronto Blue Jays WinterFest. Normally at this time of year, some of our players head on a lucky city in Canada for their Winter Tour. As Canada’s only baseball team, they recognize that their fan base is not just city or province-wide, but nationwide.  It’s great to see that kind of appreciation for fans.

Thanks to my friend Mike, I became a baseball fan and introduced my daughter to it when she was two and half years old. Since then, we look forward to attending games every season. But this is the first year,  we went to WinterFest fun.

There were so many activities we couldn’t do them all in the seven hours we were there.TBJWinterFest activities

We decided to get some proper face paint and tattoos first.

 

We visited Ace and Ace Jr’s nest. I had never noticed it in the outfield before.TBJWinterFest Ace NestThe field was filled with activities like throw and catch, ice skating on wax and ping pong.

TBJWinterFest field

A band played in between QA sessions with the players and staff. TBJWinterFest QA

We got to sit in the SportsNet broadcasting boot where Jamie Campbell  normally sits.TBJWinterFest Sport Desk

Thanks for a great time Toronto Blue Jays!

Who’s your favorite team? What do you get out of being their fan? Leave a comment. I love hearing from you.

Ready To Publish the Next Novel

The last modified date on my manuscript Stay was 2014. I was shocked when I saw that today. Three years have passed since the manuscript was professionally edited. Since then, I struggled with insecurities and also with illness. I sold my condo and moved. I switched jobs twice. I became a certified fitness instructor. I went back to university for a few writing classes. I made a small effort to find an agent. I wrote another novel and started a fourth and decided on the plot for a fifth. But mostly, I grew up.

During these three years, I would get upset thinking about how Stay sat on my computer ready for publishing, then I’d forget about it for while, and start the cycle all over again. But I’ve changed. And in the last few months, I understood that I’d get to publishing it when I was ready. I guess I’m ready now because I’ve been reading Joanna Penn’s blog, Creative Penn and downloaded one of her books. If you’ve never read her blog, she’s definitely worth the read. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also organized myself based on her suggestions.

A couple of summer’s ago, I read a series by Erin McCarthy called True Believers. I was intrigued by some of the similarities between our stories. The friendships, the boyfriends, the parents and the one word titles. Later, I read a post about series and titling a series around a theme. It’s nothing new or earth moving but it did get me thinking about how to unify the Masks series. I still don’t have a title for the series but I did change Stay to Secrets. A major theme throughout the series is the hidden, unspoken parts of life and finding the courage to confront them.

I looked up some of the cover designer recommendations from Joanna Penn and chose a company. Last night, I went to the bookstore and found an 18 year old girl (Just the perfect age!) and asked which types of book covers she preferred. She liked the drawn covers, not the pictures. Unfortunately, she was the only girl there. One is not exactly a recommended sample size so I’ll have to keep up the survey. I’ve noticed that most of the young adult book covers either picture people or are drawn people or scenes. There are very few with only a title. So, I’m thinking as long as it’s not a title on a coloured background I can’t go wrong.

During the week, I wrote the back cover blurb. Today, I priced out professional reviews and found a proofreader.

So maybe, I’m ready to publish another novel, huh?

What bloggers and writers are your mentors? Leave me a comment. I love to hear from you.