W Is For Wrap Up #AtoZChallenge

W Is For Wrap Up

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Because I’m pretty much done even though it’s only Day W in the A To Z April Blogging Challenge. I’m blogged out. But I made it almost two thirds of the way through the alphabet so I’m calling it a win.

What I’ve Learned

  • I already knew it, but this challenge reinforced the fact there are a lot of clever and interesting folks out there sharing their stories, struggles, perspectives, and information.
  • Creativity and curiosity make for passionate people.
  •  Everyone loves quotes.
  • It is not possible to wing it during this challenge. Even though I had a topic list for every day it was still a lot of work to do on the fly. For me anyway. If I were to do it again I’d spend time writing and scheduling posts well in advance. This would leave me more time for visiting other blogs.
  • If I were to do it again I would zero in on a very specific topic.

This challenge came along at a great time. I needed to set aside my work-in-progress for a bit. The A to Z Challenge allowed me the opportunity to keep writing but switch my focus. These types of challenges are another way for me to fill my creative well and interact with others. I’ve done photo challenges and Instagram challenges because I love taking pictures. I’ve done NaNoWriMo and many other writing challenges. I do well within a flock, I think.

Community is a key thing for everyone, however big or small in whatever endeavour whoever you are.

writing

Do challenges inspire you?

L Is For Love Stories

L Is For Love Stories

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Romance novels are written primarily by women. They are read largely by women. They are written for people who believe in love. In hope. And who are in need of a bit of respite from the stress of everyday life. Whether we read them for comfort, solace, or entertainment. They are necessary.

How Romance Novels ‘Imagine a World in Which Women Can Win’

They are varied. They are pertinent. They matter.

writing

NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE named DIAGRAM OF THE HEART as one of the best photo books of the year. It’s the compilation of images with translations about Muslim romance novels from Northern Nigeria. There’s a small but vibrant cottage industry of Muslim women writing romance novels, littattafan soyayya, in Northern Nigeria, a region best known for the acts of terrorist group Boko Haram. The writers face off with Islamic censors, and they sell their books in some of the same markets targeted by Boko Haram suicide bombers. The books are about love and marriage. Some are subversive and speak out against human trafficking and child marriage, while others are submissive, advising women on how best to please their husbands, offering fantasies of escape, and tales of the poor girl marrying the rich man. Guided by the themes of these novels, “Diagram of the Heart” explores romance, tradition, love and loss in the lives of women in Northern Nigeria.

G Is For Gone Fishing #atozchallenge

G Is For Gone Fishing

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Had I been super organized for this challenge I would have had all my posts written and scheduled in advance. I’ve done a lot of organizing my life in the last two years, but I haven’t reached that pinnacle of success yet. Maybe next year. I had better start thinking about it in May.

But then I wouldn’t be able to tell you I’ve gone fishin’. I’m not really fishing. But I’m gone for the day. Making lunch for my daughter and her friend and then hanging out. After I drop her friend back home there are errands to be done. And then it’s book club.

Yay!

writing

We’ve read a lot of great books. Books I never would have read left to my own devices. Like Missing Sarah: A Vancouver Woman Remembers Her Vanished Sister by Maggie deVries. The idea for my novel Off The Grid came from reading Maggie’s recounting of her sister’s life.

My Top Five Book Club Picks!

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright

Are you a member of a book club? Want to share a favourite book recommendation?

Others blogs for your reading pleasure!

C Is For Courage #AtoZChallenge

C Is For Courage

A to Z April Blogging Challenge 2016

Cultivating your passions requires courage and a constant refuelling of commitment to the process. The courage to dream. The courage to start.

writing

The courage to plan. To prepare to make that dream a reality. To learn, revel and rejoice in the process. To find like minded people to accompany you on your journey. One of the biggest steps I took along my road to becoming a writer was join a writing group. To find like minded people to learn from and who support my efforts. I put myself in front of people and own that need to put words on paper. I’m also a part of an online community of writers who are dear to me. Writers who struggle, who are always willing to listen, offer suggestions, and their time. Ones  who understand the road I’m traveling, especially as it pertains to writing romance and how little value some other authors have for my genre and therefore my efforts.

And above all it takes courage to limp along when nothing is going as planned or you can’t make out the details of the road ahead.

writing

It takes courage to put yourself out there to be judged. The learn how to take constructive criticisms and to deal with the haters. I’m still learning how to be a writer placing offerings at the feet of readers. Still finding my way from learning to owning my process.

writing

I hope you find the courage to start what you’ve been putting off. Find the courage to continue should you feel despair. Or summon the courage to end what isn’t working.

Travel your way around the blogosphere and see what others are saying about the letter ‘C’.

Maybe you want to share your thoughts? One small step you took?

Why My To-Be-Read Pile Is Smallish

Is Your To-Be-Read Pile Manageable?

An interesting question was posed on Facebook the other day: Is owning books as good as reading them?

Say what now?

Because why would you own a book you weren’t planning on reading? That’s like…I don’t know what it’s like exactly. I mean I have books on my shelves I haven’t read, not because I don’t plan on it. I want to read them, I just haven’t. Yet. Pride and Prejudice I’m looking at you. But good intentions matter, right?

Jane Austen

Then I remembered being invited to dinner years ago. I immediately gravitated to her lovely bookshelf. I’m always interested in a person’s book collections. I remarked on how careful she was with her books and asked how she’d like a particular one. Her response? She’d bought it figuring it would look good on her shelf. She was right. It did. It fit right in with the other books she had no intention of reading. And since she was and still is a lovely person we laughed about it. I mean not everyone is a reading nerd and that’s okay.

And books are beautiful. Check out any number of book related hashtags on Instagram: #bookstagram #booklover #bookporn #bookphotography, to see why others think so too.

All this love for books is heartwarming! Really it is. Buy books! Lots and LOTS of books. Buy my books. If you read them even better. Reading rocks! But I’ve heard of people who have downloaded hundreds and hundreds of books thanks to the wide range of free books, 99 cent books and the like. So again…

Is Owning Books As Good As Reading Them?

Who am I to tell people what they should or should not be doing? Some might be comforted by the all the possibilities. The reasons people buy books is as varied as the people themselves. For myself, I can’t face a toppling to-be-read pile. Knowing all those books are there waiting is to much pressure. As it is I’m freaking out because I’ve been reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert for months. I love it but non-fiction doesn’t sweep me away like my preferred fiction does, and these last few months I’ve needed the escape.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

This lovely book, The Lake House by Kate Morton, is one of the few books on my TBR pile. On my ereader waits Norah Wilson’s The Standish Clan trilogy which is set in the fictional small town of Harkness, New Brunswick. In Norah’s words these stories are sweet, sexy and romantic. And this trilogy is just the first of many series to come under the Hearts of Harkness banner!

The+Standish+Clan+Trilogy

There are a couple of other books waiting in wings. But right now I’m reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah for book club. And listening to Better When He’s Bold by Jay Crownover in Audible when I’m on the treadmill.

There are books I want to read but haven’t purchased. Books I’m considering purchasing. And release dates for books by authors I’m waiting for. But all in all, I like to keep my pile manageable. Otherwise I’d never get anything done.

Because I’d rather be reading.

What’s in your to-be-read pile? Is it toppling? A neat stack? Nonexistent? Come on, ‘fess up!

If you feel like sharing...

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

 

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.

IMG_0625

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?

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?

If you feel like sharing...

2015 – Photo Diary Style

2015 In Photos

I took a lot of photos in 2015. If there’s one thing I love almost as much as writing and reading, it’s taking photos. I love trying to capture a feeling, a moment, a bit of the story. Photographic evidence it really happened. Proof you’ve been there, done that. The need inside of me to want to look back and remember. By no means am I professional photographer. I have no tips or tricks for you, but taking a photography course is on my Wish List. So maybe…some day. Soon.

2015 – Life Was Good To Us!

2015 was a huge year in the Good household. We travelled, we came together, we celebrated. All of it. Milestones. Challenges. Rough terrain. Smooth sailing. We kept old traditions, started new ones. We cried, thrived, and lived it. 

Here goes!

25 years of wedded bliss facing whatever came our way together, as a team.

25th Wedding Anniversary

Were we really that young?

We drove all the way from Saskatchewan, Canada to Oceanside, California! That’s a total of 2,832 kilometres, or 1,759 miles. Give or take. And I’d do it again!

Oceanside, California

Toes in the Sand. Oceanside, California

21 years old! How did that happen? Now he’s legal everywhere! I’ll bury my head in the sand about that whole business.

21st Birthday

Look out! He’s 21! Legal everywhere!

Our Hundred Mile Dinner. A new summer tradition? I hope so. Don’t ask to pass the salt and pepper, there won’t be any on this table. Only things found on the prairies. Except for the wine. Because, you know…there has to be wine.

Hundred Mile Dinner

Hundred Mile Dinner. Summer. 2015

Last year we drove to the Maritimes and this year we hiked all the way to Tofino, British Columbia on Vancouver Island. From Canadian coast to Canadian coast. We’ve put our toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

Tofino, Vancouver Island. 2015

Tofino, Vancouver Island

I celebrated my 50th birthday in Tofino! In a little cabin by the sea. Oh yeah, it had a hot tub and was walking distance to great seafood.

Crystal Cove, Tofino, Vancouver Island, 2015

Crystal Cove, Tofino, Vancouver Island

She turned 19! Legal in Saskatchewan. Good thing she could care less, because God help us…

19 years old!

Oh geez, she’s 19!

And I published a book. EXPOSED is Book #2 of my Aspen Lake Series! What started out as a NaNoWri project in 2009 released in September.

Exposed, Book #2 Aspen Lake Series by Karyn Good

Exposed, Book #2 Aspen Lake Series

There you have it! My 2015 in review photo style. Go ahead and share a favourite memory of yours! Are you a shutterbug? Like taking pictures?

My Top Five Books of 2015

 My Top Five List

The last days of December always lend themselves to reflection. Everyone’s posting what topped their lists in 2016. My top five is books, of course! I read a lot of new-to-me authors and interesting books this year because of free book offerings and book sale sites. A lot. I have to say I enjoyed quite a few of them, but I wanted to keep this list manageable. These five stood out!

12 Rose Street by Gail Bowen (A Joanne Kilbourn Mystery #15) 

This is no cozy mystery and Joanne Kilbourn is not your warm and fuzzy type of heroine. Not that there’s anything wrong with cozy or fuzzy when it comes to characters and books. But Joanne Kilbourn is a strong female lead who isn’t afraid to make decisions and take action. LOVE. I also loved how Bowen crafted a story about an inner city area and made it about the greed and avarice of the wealthy. And, of course, politics. Well written, well plotted – well done!

12 rose street

Cold In The Shadows by Toni Anderson (Cold Justice Series Book 5)

Anderson’s Cold Justice Series was new to me this year and it all started with a free book, the first one in the series. But Cold In The Shadows, number five, is my favourite of the series. Again, love her characters, who are strong, intelligent and driven. It’s short on angst and the over-the-top emotional introspection which seems to be very popular these days. You get the sense Anderson knows her stuff and has done her research.

cold in the shadows

Deep by Kylie Scott (Stage Dive Series Book 4)

How I adore this series! Which is strange because I’m not usually a fan of New Adult or rockstar romances. But Scott’s got a great voice and a wicked sense of humour. And once again, it’s full of strong, independent female characters, who aren’t perfect and make questionable choices, but they’re smart, honest, and real. There are depth to the characters and each one is unique. This series is fresh, smart, and appealing.

deep

Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

These two! I loved the banter between these two guys and the internal dialogue which was just the right kind of not-too-over-the-top. Again, not a New Adult fan, but here I am picking another one. In fact, I don’t read sports stories either. But hello…the writing! And it’s super sexy and super sweet with no alpha males in sight.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

Read this one for book club. I’ve read a lot of good books for book club. While I enjoy literary works of fiction they don’t comfort or intrigue or whisk me away like genre fiction. But I do love it when an author presents you with a story that makes you question what you would have done in the characters place. Makes you question how noble you really are?

the husband's secret

There you have it! My top five picks for 2015. I’m sure many great books will find their way into my to-be-read pile in 2016. What was you favourite book(s) of the year?

If you feel like sharing...