Memorable (To Me) Fathers in Fiction

Gosh, I’m so glad that I have a partner and that we support each other in this crazy business we like to call parenting. Hopefully, we do a decent job. Most days, anyway. And I definitely wouldn’t want to do this job without him. He’s a great father and role model for our kids. I also born into a two parent family. I have a very involved father. Fact: I’m a lot like my Dad. At 79 years young he rocks at texting and using emojis more than me. And he never shies away from learning new things. I love my Dad to the moon and back.

I think, if there’s one role within families that is changing with the times, it’s the role of father. But maybe that’s because I’m a mother…and when I think about it our role has changed too. We’ve come a long way from thinking the 1950’s ideal family unit is the only option These days fathers can be the stay-at-home parent. He can be gay or straight, have stepchildren, adoptive kids, and he’s given necessary label of parent rather than babysitter.

When it comes to fictional dads, I don’t not have to put one iota of effort into naming my very favourite father character, which would be Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Quiet, polite, and smart. And he loved to read! I have loved him since high school.

“Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. You understand?”

 

Here are three other books I feel have memorable dads or father figures:

I’m so thankful for my dad. He taught me about taking risks, encourages me to step outside my comfort zone and he’s always there for me. And here’s to fictional fathers, the past, present and future examples of a changing world.

Who are some of your favourite fictional dads?

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My Summer Reading List

Yesterday on Instagram I shared a summer reading list I compiled of books I want to read. Hopefully I’ll get to more than a few of the books on my lists this summer. My Instagram list, however, is comprised of books I have yet to purchase. I have a stack of books I ready own that I need to read first.

Summer to me means books! Lots and lots of books and reading. My goals are always ambitious. But that’s what goals are for, right? To push one’s self.

I’m currently reading The Romance Writer’s Guide To Life by Sharon Pywell. I’m enjoying this one even though I prepared myself for some serious stereotyping of romance readers. That hasn’t happened so far. But I’m still kind of holding my breath.

Summer Reading List: Books I Already Own:

  • The Break by Katherena Vermette. A finalist in Canada Reads and a recommendation from a trusted source.
  • Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel of Letters by Mark Dunn. This one sounds really intriguing and given to me by another trusted source. I love it when that happens!
  • The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. I’ve had this one for awhile now and I think I’m scared to start it. Here’s hoping the sunny days and summer heat make me less shy about this one.

Summer Reading List: Books I Have Yet To Purchase:

I hope you check out a few of the books and links listed. Most of these authors are new to me and I’ve picked these books for a reason. Not only do I feel like they will make my summer a better one than it’s already promising to be, but I’m hoping to get some insight to where I want to go from here with my own writing. As I rap up my fourth romantic suspense story, I more and more wonder if the romance genre is the right place for me. I will always love romance, but more and more I find it doesn’t fit my writing needs. The more I learn about my process and my strengths and weaknesses, the more I want to write women’s fiction. But more on this in the months to come.

I want to hear what’s on your summer reading list?

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Here’s To Interesting Villains!

Gosh, I love a good villain, don’t you? A well rounded character who believes she or he is the hero of his or her own story and is wholeheartedly invested in their purpose. But at the same time has doubts about their mission and their abilities or exhibits a certain amount of vulnerability. I can’t help but think of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker. What an extraordinary bit of acting!

Fictional Villains

I have to admit that I don’t read many sweet books. I’m more of a psychological suspense/thriller, there-is-going-to-be-blood-spilled reader at the moment. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica. S.J. Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep. Another book that comes to mind is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Let me tell you, they all contain some interesting villains!

Last Wednesday night I went to see Globe Theatre’s Disney version of The Little Mermaid and it was utterly delightful. So colourful and energetic with many wonderful performances. But guess who stole the show for me? Ursula! The victim of patriarchal legacy in which the family trident was passed down to the male heir she’s out for revenge. Also, she’s a bit of a psychopath.

Neither is my writing sweet. There are sweet moments but overall mine is a grittier take on characters and what’s happening to them. I have Raphael Tessier, brutal Enforcer for the Prairie Brotherhood, in BACKLASH. Jason Drummond, twisted elitist, in OFF THE GRID. EXPOSED has Matthew Parsons, Shepard of the Valley Church and martyr with an agenda.

A Real Life Villain

But the real villain in my life right now is sugar! One might argue that it’s not the actual product that is evil, but the real life problems that arise from the amount one consumes. Like the best villains, sugar is SO seductive! It makes things taste better. And some days we just need that, you know? It’s a heck of a lot more appealing to me to eat a chocolate bar then figure out why I’m feeling down in the dumps. But that sweet yummy goodness is a crappy kind of catharsis and last only as long as it takes to eat that Dairy Milk bar (my favourite) and then I’m back to square one.

I’m gearing up to do a sugar-free challenge in June. I’ve done versions of one before so the challenge isn’t as daunting to me as it was in the past.

Here are four things I’m doing to reduce my sugar intake:

  • I cut out soda pop. Which means only rare indulgences of the Pepsi I love. You’d think that after not drinking it for months I’d be repulsed by the sweet taste. Eight teaspoons in one can. Unfortunately. I still love an ice cold glass of cola but only as a treat.
  • I switched to a sugar-free natural peanut butter. Basically, it’s ground peanuts. But now I like it better than the other stuff. I’ve also experimented with other natural nut butters. Especially, in my smoothies. So yummy!
  • I make my own salad dressings and my own mayonnaise. I try to avoid commercially prepared sauces, dressings, marinades and such as they usually contain a scary amount of sugar disguised as other names. I just need to find a recipe for sugar-free ketchup and I’m home free.
  • As embarrassing as it is to admit, I think I saved myself about 50 calories a day by adding cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to my oatmeal instead of a sweetener.
What I’m reading:

Along Came A Spider by James Patterson. I know he’s written a gazillion books but this is only the 3rd one I’ve read and…eeps! Last night I had the first nightmare I’ve had in a LONG time. Can’t wait to finish it!

Have a favourite villain? Or a delicious sugar-free ketchup recipe? Tips on reducing sugar intake? Please, share!

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Memorable (To Me) Mothers in Fiction

I love being a Mother! But I’ll be honest, lots of days I fail at the job of mothering. Being a mother is hard. There have been many times I’ve wished I was in possession of a psychology degree or was, at the very least, was a mindreader. There are so many fierce, wonderful mothers out there that have provided me with inspiration. My own Momma included. I love her to the moon and back.

Me and My Momma

I’m thinking of my favourite books and who the mother characters were or weren’t in those stories. Although, in most of these stories the protagonist is often motherless. Take Anne Shirley, from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. And of course, Disney is in love with the storyline of motherless children and animals.

Mothers Are Like Buttons

The lack of mothers, the search for mothers, the importance of mothers is an far-reaching theme in books, movies, art, etc. Everyone, regardless of their origins, needs the warm, loving, protecting embrace of a mother.

In my own writing, for instance, motherhood is often a theme. In BACKLASH (Aspen Lake Series, Book 1), Constable Chase Porter and young Jason McCarran are both motherless and victims of abusive fathers. In EXPOSED (Aspen Lakes Series Book 2), recovering alcoholic Kate Logan’s own mother passed away when she was a teenager. In Gone (Aspen Lake Series Book 3 Work-In-Progress) Grace Bighill’s mother disappeared when she was 12. In OFF THE GRID (The Downtown Eastside Series) Sophie Monroe feels responsible for her older sister, Marnie, and is more of a mother to her than their own mother. Another character, Kellie Andrews, a young woman alone and afraid about to give birth.

Mothers in Fiction

Other books come to mind when I think of various mothers defending their family, their property, or their life. And other books depicting mothers who struggle or fail to give their children what they need. And women who adopt the role of mothering. Mothering isn’t necessarily a main theme of all of them, but these books all included mothers I’ve never forgotten or women who survived neglectful relationships with their own mothers or women who had no mother’s at all. I’ve listed a few of them in the order that I read them.

  1. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  3. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi
  5. Room by Emma Donaghue
  6. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  7. We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates

Mothers in Fiction

I’m beyond thankful for my own mother who’s wonderful at mothering. I’m thankful for books who tell the stories of mothers and mothering. What are some of your favourite fictional mothers?

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Reading Improves Your Mental Health

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”  Joyce Carol Oates

May 1st to 7th is Mental Health Week here in Canada, not sure that holds for the rest of the world but it doesn’t really matter. Mental health is a subject for all 52 weeks of the year anywhere on the planet. I’m only just realizing how important a well rounded self-care regimen really is to one’s continued mental wellbeing. And seeing as my mental health isn’t always within the optimal range you could be fair to say I’m a slow learner. Good thing it’s never too late to start taking care of yourself.

Three websites listing MANY resources for those who are suffering or who know someone that is:

I wish I could list links for the planet, but hopefully the links above give you an idea of what information and resources you can search out in your own country or region.

But most importantly: Ask for help or seek advice from a professional – give your mental health the attention it needs and deserves.

I can say from personal experience, you won’t regret it. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy gave me important tools to manage my symptoms of depression and anxiety. But in reality it’s of benefit to everyone as we all have to deal with life’s challenges, stresses, and demands. Learn how to manage negative thinking or inaccurate thoughts. Learn the difference between positive thinking and realistic thinking. Make your mental health a priority!

We all need and deserve breaks. But we can’t all jump on a plane or boat and spend a month in Bora Bora. There are numerous ways to relieve stress that won’t put you in the poor house.

One of my favourite ways to relieve stress? Reading. Of course, reading has many benefits, but it’s also a way to reset and recharge. Six minutes of reading can reduce your stress levels by 68%. In the last few months I’ve taken to reading print books again, after having all but given them up. It was a craving really, a desire to hold a print book in my hands. There’s a term for this – slow reading. I guess it’s no surprise that I’m back to reading print (I haven’t given up ebooks!) as I’ve embraced a more mindful life style. Science has proven slow reading reduces stress, increases your ability to concentrate, and improves your sleep.

I’ve just started a wonderful (so far) book: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware! Good thing because this month promises to be a busy one.

When travel journalist Lo Blacklock is invited on a boutique luxury cruise around the Norwegian fjords, it seems like a dream career opportunity.

But the trip takes a nightmarish turn when she wakes in the middle of the night to hear a body being thrown overboard – only to discover that no-one has been reported missing from the boat.

How do you stop a killer, when no-one believes they exist?

Funny how reading about murder allows me to relax! What do you do to relieve stress? And please, offer book recommendations! I’m always in need of a great book to read.

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Be A Grinder!

I’m not the most coordinated person on the planet. I’m also not the strongest or the fleetest of foot. But I’m learning that doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of getting healthy. I’m also realizing that my exercise self can learn a little something from my writing self. Determination and the desire to improve are everything.

Karyn Good Blog

I’m a grinder.

Merriam Webster’s definition of a grinder: athlete who succeeds through hard work and determination rather than exceptional skill.

I’m not sure about the athlete part, but as someone who started at the bottom of the fitness rung, I’ve definitely made progress during my five month strength and fitness training journey. Heck, as a person who hadn’t done a squat or a lunge (never mind a plank, because WHAT!) in literally decades, I’ve come a LONG way. I’ve learned being slow, methodical and clumsy doesn’t matter. By showing up and doing the work, even when I’d REALLY rather not, my physical strength is returning and my mental health is improving. I’m increasing my flexibility, balance, endurance, and coordination. So, win!

My writing is following the same path at the moment. The words aren’t flowing and the path forward is often foggy. But I’m determined to get this project done so I will sit my butt in my chair and I will work through my roadblocks. I will grind away until I get where I want to go.

But back to exercising! Here are a couple of things I use for inspiration and motivation.

Harder To Kill Podcast by Steph Gaudreau. Steph is also the force behind Stupid Easy Paleo which focusses on nutrition, fitness, and mindset. Steph’s philosophies also jive with the things I’m learning from my personal trainer (Yes! I have one of the those and more on that in another post).

Nerd Fitness Blog. An excellent resource.

Run, Selfie, Repeat – Kelly Roberts. Kelly is on a mission to help others become the strongest version of themselves. She’s honest and open and lots of fun. She also just ran the London Marathon (it didn’t go well) and got a selfie with Prince Harry.

You gotta be who you are. Own your starting point. Set a goal. And grind away at it until it’s met.

Are you, like me, a grinder?

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A Writer’s Journey To Slow Fashion

My transition into slow everything, food, fashion, fitness, has been, well…slow. My evolution into a conscious consumer a work-in-progress. Good habits take time to cultivate, after all. And it’s not always easy. Improving my health, my carbon footprint, or my writing craft takes effort and a great deal of planning. Oh, the planning! I find I’m no longer the jump right in and get it done sort. The older I get the more planning becomes one of my cornerstones to achieving my goals

Cue my foray into slowing things down and letting go of Fast Fashion. I read a truly alarming statistic the other day in an article discussing the movie: The True Cost.  In a conversation with Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age, a fashion activist (also the wife of Mr. Darcy, sometimes known as Colin Firth), she mentioned The average garment remains in a person’s closet for an average of five weeks. What!?!

My first thought was the amazing amount of time some people must spend shopping. Yikes! If you’re throwing away clothes at that rate, you must be really like the mall. I’m also wondering about the amount of money being spent. But when you can buy a t-shirt for $4.99, who cares if you throw it out when it falls apart after one wash. So much of what we consume is disposable. Unfortunately, it’s not biodegradable.

Livia Firth is also a force behind the 30 Wear Challenge. When you buy an article of clothing commit to wearing it a minimum of thirty times. I know some of you are already a pro at this concept. But some of you, like me, might want to check out your closet, or take a look in your daughter’s closet. Or at her floor. What about that one-time-wear adorable holiday outfit you bought for your grandchild? Or your dog?

An estimated 1 million tons of textile waste is dumped into landfills around the world each year.

Armed with that tragic stat, I did a little research and learned what I could do to be more conscious about my wardrobe choices and my shopping habits. Enter the words: eco, ethical, and sustainable.

Me? I’m a terrible impulse shopper. So that’s one of the habits I need break. Turns out it’s not that hard to do when you have to keep an ear to those three ideals and the commitment to 30 wears. Shopping then becomes a little overwhelming, to be honest. But not impossible. Hence the planning part and also the realization I have to take it slow. Ease my way towards my end goal of an ethical wardrobe.

Five Ways To Becoming A More Thoughtful, Slower Consumer:

  • Buy local.
  • Buy less.
  • Buy used.
  • Buy from independent designers.
  • Buy quality garments that last.

My discoveries so far: Miik (A 100% Canadian Company), Tonle (A Zero Waste Fashion Line) and SlumLove Sweater Company (Ethically Handmade in Kenya).

Personally, it’s also about improving the lives of people at the very beginning of the supply chain. The majority of garment workers are women who work and reside in some of the most underdeveloped countries in the world working for factories and brands who have little regard for safety and labour protection issues.

A dress from Tonle, a zero waste fashion line.

Someone complimented me on my Tonle shirt (my new favourite) the other day and after I said thanks I asked if they wanted to hear the story behind my shirt? As a writer and teller of stories, why not wear one?

What’s in your wardrobe?

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Recharging With A Spring Writing Retreat

Everyone needs to recharge their batteries, including me. An emotional reset and to rejuvenation of my writing routine was required. What better way to indulge in a little self-care and be productive at the same time then a writing retreat? My first one! And what better time to have it then spring and channel it’s spirit of renewal.

My writing group had been talking about a retreat for awhile and we finally made it happen. We found a place close by for the day-only attenders that supplied meals and snacks and it was affordable. The trifecta of retreat perfection. Enter the Living Skies Retreat and Conference Centre situated in the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley.

I was there to write, or rather revise. And revise I did. After three days worth of solid effort I felt I’d accomplished what I had set out to do which was to make some headway on my work-in-progress and jumpstart my lagging routine.

The accommodations were basic but we each had our own room with our own bathroom – so win. So what if I hadn’t slept in a twin bed in, like, forever. It was cozy and the place was impeccably clean – very important. The rooms were small but some of our group were clearly comfortable with the setup and chose to write in their rooms, some with the door open and some with theirs closed. Since we were the only group in a space able to accommodate approximately fifty, I chose to write in the huge common area, complete with big comfy chairs and a wall of windows. Also, it was close to the snacks. In went my headphones, on went my music and I got busy.

The away time was also something of a personal retreat for me. There was no television, so that temptation was easy to avoid. I also made a pledge to avoid social media. Who needs to scroll through their Facebook newsfeed when you have twelve lovely ladies to share stories with? What else did I do?

I went for walks along many of the mowed trails. One of which led to this meditation labyrinth. The idea being you wound your way to the center leaving your worries and stresses behind you. There was also a sun circle and other short hikes to take

Of course, I read a book! This was my first time reading Annabeth Albert but it won’t be my last. Can’t wait to dig into her new one in this series this weekend. It was the prefect way to unwind at the end each night. 

I may even have taken a short nap one afternoon! I’m certainly looking forward to repeating the experience. Perhaps in the fall! It’s safe to say the retreat was enjoyed by all and everyone expressed interest in doing it again.

I would love to hear whether you’ve been on any sort of retreat or taken some personnel time? Perhaps you want to share what your favourite at-home escape is?

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Learning New Things! And a Giveaway!

*************THE WINNER is Lorrie!******************

A reminder that from now until the 28th of October I’m hosting a giveaway! Sign up for my newsletter and be entered to win a $25.00 gift certificate to one of the following: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble. The winner will be announced on October 29th!

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I promise not to overwhelm your inbox! You’ll receive cover reveals, release date announcements and be eligible for member only giveaways.

Learning New Things

I’m also fooling around with Canva and trying my hand at designing some of my own marketing graphics. It’s a relatively straightforward process, but still involves a learning curve and takes some practicing. I love taking photos, thus my love of Instagram, so I have a fairly sizeable supply of images. Although Canva has some very easy to follow tutorials, I went searching tips and tricks.

20 Tips & Tricks For Making Awesome Canva Graphics

25 Epic Graphic Design Tips for Non-Designers

Canva: An Easy How To Guide

I’m not sure what happened with the formatting above. WordPress sometimes stymies me. I wish I was a whiz at this kind of thing but I’m not, but I do like playing around. Often to the point of using it as a distraction. Like bullet journalling which I love but am trying to develop a system for using.

Bullet Journaling

Who knew I would develop and deep and abiding love of stickers at this age! And then there’s my addiction to washi tape. And markers. The good news is I’m no longer surrounded by bits of paper and sticky notes. My desk is neater and tidier than it’s ever been. Hallelujah!

Here’s to learning new things! What are you learning these days? What are you thinking about attempting?

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Giveaway and September Wrap Up!

Giveaway Announcement

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From October 11th until October 28th, 2016, sign up to receive my newsletter and be entered for a chance to win a $25.00 gift certificate to one of the following: Amazon, Kobo or Barnes and Noble. Winner announced on October 29, 2016!

Choose the Newsletter tab at the top or the Subscribe to Karyn’s mailing list option on the sidebar!

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Signing up means receiving news of future books, cover reveals, deals, contests and giveaways!

Top Three Images of September

www.karyngood.com

My revamped office!

I’m back in my revamped office after a two month writing break! It feels great to be back writing in a space that inspires me.

Queen City Marathon #yqr

That time I walked 20.1 km.

On September 11th I walked a half marathon and checked a major item off my Life Goal List.

Prairie Inukshuk

The Inukshuk we found on our Sunday drive.Top Book I Read

I don’t know about you, but for me fall Sunday’s are meant for drives in the country and discovering hidden gems.

Top Book I Read!

I read one book in September which is very unusual for me. Thank goodness I really enjoyed the one I finished. Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase is our October book pick. If you’re interested, you can even try a sample of either the book version or audio version at Eve Chase’s website!

writing

Writing Life

Now that I’m back in my office and in a neat and organized space, I need to get back into a regular writing schedule. I do better with schedules.

How about you? Do you like the freedom of winging it? Or are you most productive when adhering to a schedule? Or do you enjoy a little of both?

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