February Wrap Up

It’s leap day! Because some long dead old dude decided it was a good idea to make February longer. Thanks for that. Like us Canadians couldn’t use an extra day of summer. But the end is near! A special shout out to those of you celebrating birthdays on this day – Happy actual Birthday!

Wrapping It Up!

Work, Health, and Happiness

Work

February saw the extension of my writing groups January Writing Challenge. I finished the first draft of the book in my third Aspen Lake series in January. February has been all about revising, which I adore. One of my favourite parts of the revision process is developing the secondary characters. In this case, my heroine Grace’s family. They’re hurting and they’re about to hurt worse. Grace’s sister Hope, her husband Kent and their son Levi are part of a secondary plot is as much fun to write as it is heartbreaking.

Here’s a little snippet.

Hope bowed her head. “We’ll make it okay for him. It’ll be all-“

“Make it okay for him?” Kent looked like someone had punched him in the face.

Grace put out her hand. “Kent-“

He was back to pointing fingers. At Grace. “You know what this has been like for him. You know. There’s no making this okay.”

He wasn’t done. Not by a long shot. And he spewed the rest of it all over his wife. “What am I supposed to tell him? Huh? Guess what, buddy? Your old man screwed up. Again. As if the last seven months haven’t been bad enough. But you wouldn’t know that. Because, as usual, you caused a whole bunch of shit and then were unavailable to deal with it. But you know who has been here? I have. And Grace has. We’ve been dealing with Levi’s nightmares, the looks, his troubles at school. And now when things are finally settling down? Here we go again.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You don’t get to fucking tell me you’re sorry. Do. Not. Even. Try.”

Grace didn’t know who to go to, who to hug, who needed contact the most. They both looked broken. Defeated. Done.

Health

Halfway through the month I went gluten and dairy free for health reasons, of which I won’t bore you with the details. Only to say I’ve done this before and felt great. I’m thankful to say history is repeating itself. I couldn’t do it without menu planning, more about the ups and downs of that in March.

Menu Planning Karyn Good

I continue on my mindfulness path with restorative yoga, which I adore. Reclined cobler’s pose is one of my favourite. I tried reformer Pilates which I actually liked but it brought some alignment issues into play which I feel like I must deal with before continuing. Plus, it’s expensive. I haven’t signed up for more classes, content to continue with my treadmill goals. Also, we survived the plague. Yay us!

reclined cobler pose

Happiness

Reading makes me happy. And February saw me listening to my first Audible book. I’m happy to say it helped pass the time on the treadmill. At this point, I still prefer reading either an ebook or a print book. Those take full concentration and sweep you away. That wasn’t my experience with audio books. But I will definitely listen to another one. Anything that helps me want to get on the treadmill is a good thing. What was it I read? It was Built by Jay Crownover! I listened to it using Audible, but I’m planning to look into borrowing audio books from the library.

reading

That’s February. Looking forward to March! What did you accomplish in February? Where did you go? What did you read? How did you survive the shortest month of the year?

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Story Settings and What’s Next!

Like all readers I have favourite story settings. Some real, some fictional, most are a combination of both. One of my favourite story settings is found in this incredible novel, now motion picture, ROOM by Emma Donoghue. The importance of place is paramount. One room is five-year-old Jack’s world. Another is the farm Green Gables found in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The inspiration of which is found in Cavandish, Prince Edward Island. I was lucky enough to visit Green Gables Heritage site.

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I fell in love with the Chesapeake Bay area because of Nora Roberts book Sea Swept. Was fascinated with Tara Janzen’s Steele Street series and her chop-shop turned special ops heroes based in Denver.

My own fictional setting of Aspen Lake is based on a resort area I spent a lot of time at when I was a young child. I also worked there for a couple of summers while I pursued my post-secondary education. I met my husband while working at Moose Mountain Provincial Park. I have very fond memories of this area. And although I’m a city girl at heart I love reading and writing about small towns.

Modelling Aspen Lake after this region seemed a natural thing to do. Especially considering I was a novice at writing. There was a very clear picture on the environment and the social construct of the place in my head and the missing details were easy to find.

But now that I’m writing the final book in this series, I’m starting to think about the next series. For this series, I’m heading Into The Woods…

And into northern Canada. Which provides endless options as that encompasses a vast space.

writing

“Northern” Canada encompasses all land above the country’s 60th parallel, which is divided into three territories (from west to east): Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Upwards of 90 per cent of the land in all three is strictly uninhabitable, a barren wasteland of rock, ice and snow, meaning most populated areas are located either in the southern region or close to the coast of some lake, river or ocean. Even then, “habitable” is very much in the eye of the beholder. Even in the cities, it’s not at all uncommon for winter temperatures to dip below -40˚(C).  J.J. McCullough J.J.’s Complete Guide To Canada

But how far into the north of 60 to venture, and how far west to explore? What topics do I want to explore with this series. One thing I’ve learned? Creating a setting for your story is more than local fauna and flora, or brick and mortar buildings, although it’s important to get those right too.

Although I don’t write fantasy or science fiction I’m fascinated with world building. And also with the rules of magic. The Rules of Magic, According To The Greatest Fantasy Sagas Of All Time. I’m not reading much fantasy or science fiction at the moment, but I am watching the television version of The Shannara Chronicles.

writing

The stakes are high. The bad guy is actually a worthy adversary. And the actors are pretty. When they’re not screaming in terror. Because, hello, demons.

In an interesting article by Malinda Lo on world building. In it she repeats Holly Black’s, author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, six questions to use when establishing your world’s rules about magic or science. Also, her thoughts on power, rituals, food, etc. My setting will be a contemporary real-life place. There might not be magic. But I can’t help but apply her questions about rules and power when thinking of developing a potential setting. Because, Power? That’s a theme, big or small, we all explore in one way or another.

  • Who has it?
  • Who abuses it?
  • Who wants it?
  • Who rejects it?
  • What does it mean to each of them?
  • How far will they go to use it, get it, gain it, or deny it?
  • What does it cost them?
  • What does it mean for the people around them?
  • How does their attitude to power break them off into groups?

That’s where I’m at. What are some of your favourite story settings?

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