A Book Review And A Bit of This and That

Well…March has entered like a lion in my neck of the woods with our area getting between 20 and 25 centimetres (8 to 10 inches) of snow. I know we’re not supposed to go on and on about the weather, because how boring, but holey moley that was a lot of shovelling. More so for Jack than me, if I’m being honest, which I almost always am. Also, a huge thank you to our snow blowing neighbours, of which we have three. Each of them took to heart the help a neighbour shovel out campaign and made runs up and down our sidewalks and driveway.

Also, of special interest to me as I’m the parent of a child with special needs, is the fact that March 7th marks the annual R-word: Spread The Word To End The Word campaign. We can all agree the R-word needs retiring, like other hurtful words that mock and malign have been in the last few years.

Spread The Word To End The Word

A Book Review

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Some houses seem to want to hold their secrets.

Bellewether is my favourite kind of book and reading it gave me so much joy. I didn’t want it to end. Very well written in Susanna Kearsley’s usual clever style, I fell in love with the characters and I also felt like I was given a glimpse into the every day life of the times. The book is set Long Island, New York, in both present day and during the last year of the Seven Years War . It also had a Canadian connection, which I very much appreciated.

The heroines of each time have both had their lives upended, both having suffered tragic personal loses. Charley Van Hoek is settling into her new job as curator of the Wilde House Museum when she learns of the long ago doomed romance between a French Canadian lieutenant, Jean-Phillipe de Sabran and Lydia Wilde. She is determined to include their history in the museum’s tribute to Benjamin Wilde, Lydia’s famous brother. Not everyone on the museum board agrees with her, but luckily the Wilde house is happy to help her figure it out.

Romance, war, historical intrigue, Bellewether has it all. And I didn’t guess the twist until the end!

*I received this ARC courtesy of Netgalley

* Book Available April 24, 2018

A bit about the Seven Years’ War

The Seven Years War (1756–63) was the first global war, fought in Europe, India, and America, and at sea. In North America, imperial rivals Britain and France struggled for supremacy. Early in the war, the French (aided by Canadian militia and Aboriginal allies) defeated several British attacks and captured a number of British forts. In 1758, the tide turned when the British captured Louisbourg, followed by Québec City in 1759 and Montréal in 1760. With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, France formally ceded Canada to the British. The Seven Years’ War therefore laid the bicultural foundations of modern Canada.

Interesting Links!

10 Captivating Books That Portray Disease and Disability Through Fiction

10 Captivating Books That Portray Disease and Disability Through Fiction

Reading List: Aspergers?Autism Romance

Reading List: Asperger’s/Autism Romance

Have you heard of or read other books by Susanna Kearsley? If you like time slip novels, check her out! Also, please share your recommendation of other books who feature characters who differently abled!

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A Look Ahead at 2018 and a Look Back at 2017!

I’m looking back on 2017’s fondest memories and thinking ahead to 2018 with excitement.

2018

Every year I try to pick a word every year and 2018’s word is COMMIT. It’s difficult to explain to another what that word signifies to me. It’s a rather benign word without context. My writing has waited patiently in the wings these last couple of years while I’ve focused on improving other areas of my life. That’s not to  say I abandoned the process altogether, but writing wasn’t a priority. When I did sit down to write, it was a half-hearted, distracted attempt and my Muse knew it and made me work for any gains I managed.

Perhaps I should also explain that I’ve always felt my Muse was quite Nanny McPhee like, and therefore I don’t use the word lightly as she makes her presence known in my lowest of writing times.

“When you need me, but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go.”

I feel like she letting go now and winging her way towards another struggling writer.

I also seem to attach myself to a quote each year. I love quotes and I come across them all the time on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and a host of other places. I know the right one when I read it. Also, I’m a firm believer in the Universe providing. The moment I saw this quote I knew it had my intentions for 2018 written all over it.

“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.” Ginny Weasley (J.K. Rowlings)

So, here’s to a productive and creative 2018!

2017

But 2017 was pretty darn awesome and, boy, did it fly by. To be more mindful, in 2017 I committed to slow everything: slow fashion, slow food, slow fitness…you get the idea. I focused on my health. I chose quality over quantity. I shopped local. I did a host of things that inspired and motivated me to do slow down and find my focus and it worked!

Slow Down

I’ll end with two of my favourite images of 2017.

By far the biggest event of 2017 took place on September 30th! The day our son and daughter-in-law were married amid much joy, love and celebration.

J&B Wedding

I went on my first writing retreat in the spring of 2017 and my second in November. We chose the tranquil calm of the Living Skies Retreat and Conference Centre in picturesque Lumsden, Saskatchewan to get our creative juices flowing.

SRW 2017 Nov. Writing Retreat

There is a huge wood burning fireplace in the main area that we congregated in front of in the evenings. In front of us were large floor to ceiling windows with views of the Qu’Appelle Valley and lots of comfy seating for writing during the days. There were walking paths and a lovely labyrinth to explore.

Living Skies Retreat and Conference Centre

What were two highs for you in 2017 and how are you looking ahead at 2018?

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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!

sign-up-formynewsletter-1

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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Five Things I’m Doing To Rejuvenate My Life!

We all need a reboot every once. Traditionally holidays are a time to regroup. Time away to Rest, Relax, Rejuvenate. Those three peaceful R’s. It’s been my experience that vacations, especially family vacations – the ones involving children – do not provide ample opportunity for any of the 3 R’s. Case in point – DisneyWorld. Tons of fun! Recovery time required when it’s done. Oh look, more R’s.

But what if you need more than a couple of weeks away to fix what’s ailing you? When you know there are steps that can be taken to improve your quality of life. Or maintain your sanity. And a juice cleanse it’s going to cut it. It probably won’t hurt, but it’s not the whole answer.

That’s the place I’m in because I’m feeling kind of…old. That’s a very alien feeling for me. I guess what I’m really feeling is tired. Maybe a little worn down. Along with overweight and out of shape.

Clearly, a plan of action was required. But did I attack the problem? No. Tired, remember. So, I did one thing. I got the ball rolling. Now it’s picking up speed. I have momentum.

Five Things I’m Doing To Rejuvenate 

  • Restorative Yoga
  • Solo Holidays
  • Controlling My Self-Talk
  • Changing My Diet
  • Exercise

Restorative Yoga: Remember nap time in Kindergarten? That’s kind of what it is. Only better. It’s about aligning your physical self and your mental self by practicing stillness in supported gentle for extended periods of time. There are a lot of props, blankets, and soft lighting. I’ve begun doing an at home version too.

reclined cobler pose

Solo Holidays: I took my first solo holiday, as in by myself, in the fall. I went to Toronto to visit my sister and her family. For those of you who don’t know I have a special needs daughter. We spend a lot of time together and are incredibly close. I feel guilty when I leave her behind. Because my girl? She would vacation 12 months a year, if she could. But alone time was just what the doctor ordered. I had a wonderful, worry-free time. More of this in my future.

Riverdale, Toronto

Controlling My Self-Talk: My doctor recommended an online course offered by our local university after I mentioned that I was not doing as well as I should be mentally. Turns out there were a numbers of reasons why I was feeling shitty. Because, hello Depression. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is very helpful in terms of practical solutions and steps to overcoming a number of things. Turns out healthy thoughts = healthy feelings.

  • Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps the person to change unhelpful or unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Changing My Diet: TMI ALERT My gut was very unhappy. I was bloated. Irritable. Imodium dependent. And operating in a fog. I’ve cut out gluten, dairy and eventually plan to cut out sugar. Happy to say I’m feeling much better. Like MUCH better. I don’t know if it’s because I’m eating less, healthier, or differently, and I don’t much care. It’s working. The photo is my version of Danielle Walker‘s Chicken Cobb Salad found in her Against All Grain cookbook.

Chicken Cobb Salad

Exercise: I’m learning to hate it less. Self-talk, remember? And with this goal? It was go big or fail miserably. I needed some serious motivation to commit. To that end, I registered to walk a half-marathon in September. I cannot begin to explain how terrifying it is for me to even type that out in a sentence. My goal? Four hours to walk 21.1 kilometres. Treadmill. Every. Day. Because right now, I can probably do 4 kilometres.

Queen City Half Marathon

What do you do to replenish, relax, and restore your mind and body?

The following is an article written by Will Wheaton, who I adore on The Big Bang Theory. Seven things he did to reboot his life and why he did them. It’s a great read because, among other things, he’s a talented writer

Seven Things I Did To Reboot My Life

 

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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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My 2016 Word Of The Year

One Word To Guide Me!

Discipline

Discipline! My Word For 2016.

This is a photo of Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia which we visited in the summer of 2014. It literally sits atop rock. As in granite. I have no idea how it hasn’t been washed away. One of the most recognizable lighthouses in the world, it’s now operated by the Canadian Coast Guard. The original lighthouse was built in 1868. The keeper lit a kerosene oil lamp at sundown every night shining a red beacon on the eastern entrance to St. Margaret’s Bay.

One Word To Keep Me On Track!

Discipline! I didn’t have to think very hard to come up with my word for 2016. Organization was my 2015 word and I actually felt I achieved some measure of success. Choosing discipline seemed a good way to compliment the work I’ve already been doing. Unlike last year’s word, this year’s choice of discipline is geared towards my writing life. As in setting aside specific times to write and guarding and enforcing it. Working at keeping the distractions to a minimum. And in the end, upping my production.

One Word To Bring It All Together!

That’s a lot pressure to place on a single word. But I find it easier to keep one word front and center, rather than a list of resolutions. Compounded by the fact I’ve never succeeded at keeping one past New Year’s resolution. Ever. And it gives me leeway to set monthly goals and revise ones that aren’t working.

And In The Darkness…Wait! What?

Never mind that. Hopefully at the end of 2016 I’ll have finished one book and written another. All with the help of one ten letter word.

Do you pick a word of the year? One that describes what you want to achieve in the upcoming year?

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The Act May Seem Random, But Kindness Is Purposeful

It’s true, don’t you think?

kindness

“Practice random acts of kindess and senseless acts of beauty.” Anne Herbert

Kindness is considered a virture. In that it is defined as being “helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped”. Or so Wikipedia insists. But I don’t think anyone would dispute it.

“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” Lao Tzu

But when I got out of bed this morning my first thoughts weren’t how can I be randomly kind today. They ran more along the lines of the huge rash my daughter has, the dishes from the Father’s Day celebration held here yesterday that are still spread all over my kitchen. I remembered I had to pay the Weed Man. Make a doctor’s appointment. That I have a another appointment later on today. A meeting tonight.

And random acts of seneless beauty? What is that even? I thought I should be checking Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. And how I really needed to write a blog post. So people will notice me and like me and I’ll sell more books.

Me. Me. Me.

Good gravy, marketing is exhausting.

Sounds a tad whiny, doesn’t it?

It’s okay, you don’t lose points for agreeing. Then I saw something about kindness. A light bulb went on and I was all “Thank you, Universe. For providing.” I needed to work some kindness into my day. For others. And myself. Attitude adjustment time.

I scrolled through websites and Pinterest, in the name of research of course, and I came across what I thought was a gem of an idea from a 30 Day Kindess Challenge. It suggested you “Leave a funny note or a little bit of cash in your favourite library book.”

Isn’t that the sweetest idea? Perhaps not the cash bit. A little bit of cash would probably be considered a dollar or two. I’m from Canada, we don’t have one dollar bills anymore. We have one dollar coins we call loonies and two dollar coins we call toonies. I don’t think that would work, nor would the library police enjoy coins taped to the inside of their books. And call me cheap, but leaving a fiver or a ten seems a bit much. But a note? Or a quote? Or why this particular page is your favourite? Or if you like this book you should try this other book? Or just a scribble. I think that’s an awesome idea. You could slip a note in books you loan out. I could slip them in books I sell. In fact, I think I will.

Kindness doesn’t have to be complicated. (Unless your Miriam Toews and your novel is called A Complicated Kindness and the story has to have conflict and be, you know, complicated. AWESOME book by the way!) It just has to be heartfelt. It has to be about the other person. And maybe that’s what marketing myself should be about, with the focus being the reader. What helps them? What would make their day better? Make them smile? Feel engaged. Connected. Important.

In case you’re wondering where to begin you can go here: How to Practice Random Acts of Kindness.

kindness

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A Is For Attitude

A2Z ChallengeSo, this year I’ve decided to join the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. That means I’ll be blogging every day in April except Sundays. Yikes! Challenge is right.

attitudeWe’ve all heard the saying attitdue is everything. What better way to focus on making sure my attitude remains as positive as possible then meeting new friends and reading blog posts sure to entertain and inspire me. And just maybe participating in this blogging challenge will help me be present, to appreciate where I am. To help me take a breath and take a look, and be encouraged by the writings and thoughts of my fellow bloggers.

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning ~ Gloria Steinem

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The Lure of Starting A New Project

Before you’ve finished the current one. For some reason this always happens to me when I’m almost finished. When I’m this close to being done. And I don’t know why. Although, in all honesty, I’ve never delved too deep into why that is.

And right now the lure of starting a brand new story is almost impossible to resist. But resist I must. Because try as I might I can’t work on two books at once. Just can’t.

And I’m this close!

Great quote on finishing!

And I guess that’s the thing. Once it’s done and submitted it’s out there and things are out of my control.

Which I find scary.

The Hobbit quote. Inspiring. The next book on my list after I finish North & South.

Always knew I had a lot in common with hobbits. So, off I go to finish my quest.

How about you?

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Grouchy Pants

Ugh. Why are they always a perfect fit?

grumpy

 

What’s that? You don’t care? Come back when I’ve got it together?

Fair enough. No one wants to hear about my grumpy business.

But what to do when one cannot even tolerate one’s self?

  • First, acknowledge your grumpy! Okay, done that.
  • Get moving! Next on my list.
  • Smile!
  • Clear clutter! It’s easier to throw stuff away when you’re feeling evil.
  • Listen to (upbeat) music!
  • Talk to a friend! Hi, there!
  • Write down the good stuff! Like how it’s FINALLY sunny! Yay! Or how I went out to lunch and didn’t have to cook!

happiness

 

Or

Read a book!

What a good idea! I’m busy reading through Vivian Arend’s Takhini Wolves series. Must say I’m enjoying them!

What’s your favorite method of getting rid of the grumps!

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